Vocabulary Quiz #5: Idiomatic Expressions
Revise these sentences so that the idiomatic expressions are rendered correctly.
1. He said he’d touch bases with me tomorrow.
2. I remember how I used to wile away the hours during summer vacation.
3. She awaited the news with baited breath.
4. We found ourselves in dire straights.
5. The gophers are wrecking havoc with my garden.
Answers and Explanations
Original: He said he’d touch bases with me tomorrow.
Correct : He said he’d touch base with me tomorrow.
The other person is touching just one base — that of the person he is contacting.
Original: I remember how I used to wile away the hours during summer vacation.
Correct : I remember how I used to while away the hours during summer vacation.
The expression “while away” refers to passage of time, not to trickery, which is the meaning of wile.
Original: She awaited the news with baited breath.
Correct : She awaited the news with bated breath.
One’s breath is not baited, as if set up to be caught; it is bated (the word is a shortened form of abated), meaning “restrained.”
Original: We found ourselves in dire straights.
Correct : We found ourselves in dire straits.
The expression “dire straits” refers to difficulty, not an undeviating line.
Original: The gophers are wrecking havoc with my garden.
Correct : The gophers are wreaking havoc with my garden.
Although havoc can involve wreckage, havoc is not wrecked; it’s wreaked, or caused.
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