Sunday, January 25, 2015

Inverted Idioms

As the residents of my state prepared for a cold front, one of the local television anchors remarked, "We are in store for a big chill."

His meaning was that extremely cold weather was about to descend upon us, but that is not what he said. 

The word store in the idiom “in store for” means, “a stock of something laid up for future use.” Figuratively speaking, events or conditions (like a cold front) are “in store for” those who will experience them in the future. The people of the state were not in store for the big chill. The big chill was in store for the people of the state.

Here are some examples from the Web that get it right:

More Snow in Store for Turkey, Jerusalem This Weekend

The New Congress: What’s In Store for Natural Health?

That same television anchorman, reporting news about two businessmen, said,

They’re in the works of opening up two new restaurants.

The businessmen are not “in the works”; the two new restaurants are “in the works.” 

One meaning of works (noun) is “the working parts of a machine.” For example, one removes the back of a clock to reveal the works inside.

“In the works” is a figurative expression meaning “being prepared” or “in development.”
The processes or stages of getting something done are being compared to the workings of a machine. 

Here are some examples from the Web in which the expression is used correctly:

A new big solar panel farm in the works in California

Beamdog confirms that a new Baldur’s Gate game is in the works
Comment: One might say that “in the works” means “in the process”.

 One might say that it means that, but it doesn’t mean that. One might say “two” means “three” in which case 2 + 2= 6 makes sense, as well. The phrase “in the works” refers to endeavors, not to people undertaking them. Saying, “They’re in the works of” doing something is like saying, “They are on the drawing board with ideas”. The ideas are on the drawing board, not them.


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