English Idioms learned the hard way.

Photo by Jeffrey Beall

Do you know what “being half in the bag” means? I thought I did, until this happened …

First, if you know what it means, read on. If you don’t know, or just maybe know, read this! English is not my first language, so while living in an English speaking place, I do sometimes reuse phrases and idioms without double-checking them, since, to be honest, it is just not feasible, and works great most of the times.

Well this is how it worked out with “being half in the bag”.

During my first visit in Toronto (years ago) we were invited to a New Years Eve party at a friends place. When we arrived, the host opened the door in his bathrobe and said: “Thanks for coming over, I am already half in the bag so make yourself at home, I will be with you in five“.

make yourself at home“, I understood, since we hear that all the time in Toronto and the “half in the bag” made obviously sense, immediately. Of course, it can only mean that he is half way dressed, as he actually was. 5 minutes later, he was with us dressed.

Therefore,  obviously, “half in the bag” is an idiom for “give me five minutes, I just need to finish dressing up“.

It all made sense, so I started using this idiom, thinking I would know what it means.

For the last year, every time I was about to be late for an early morning meeting, I would call in and say: “Sorry guys, I will be there in 5, I am already half in the bag anyway already!

Since I always showed up 5 minutes later, sober and of course, dressed – No one ever said anything about my faux pas. So I kept using this idiom. Until a few weeks ago.

We were with friends at a restaurant for dinner and my buddy said, “Guys, I am already half in the bag”. So I responded, “No you are not, you are fully dressed” – earning a confused look for that just to get told what the actual meaning of that idiom is.

That’s when I stopped calling in late to say “I am already half in the bag“.

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