Before the big, convenient cities of modern times, people lived closer to nature. So it's no surprise that expressions and idioms related to trees and other plants became common in many languages. In English, we use expressions like the ones in this article every day and for all kinds of situations. How many of them do you know?
Put down roots
The roots of a tree make it strong and stable. In the same way, "putting down roots" means "establishing a home" in a particular place, usually in order to raise a family.
The opposite of this expression is "uproot," which is also a verb that means "to pull out of the ground." It's used when people leave a place where they have lived for a long time and go somewhere new.
Bark up the wrong tree
“Bark” is a verb and a noun describing the sounds that dogs make. This funny expression means “to be looking in the wrong place,” "believing something that is incorrect" or “trying to do something in an incorrect way.”
Money doesn’t grow on trees
You might be able to guess the meaning of this one. Most people have to work hard to get their money, and don't like to see it wasted. So if you feel someone is using their (or your!) money foolishly, this is a good phrase to use.
It’s most commonly used to talk about money, but this expression can be used to refer to other things that are not easy to get or are expensive.
Can’t see the forest for the trees
If someone “can’t see the forest for the trees,” it means they are too focused on a small detail and don’t notice the bigger, more important situation. Some people replace “forest” with “woods.”
“Evergreen” can be used as a noun or an adjective for a kind of tree with leaves that stay green all year. As an adjective, it can also be used to describe something that is always popular, successful, relevant or accurate.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
People use this expression to say that children often behave in a way that is similar to their parents. It can be used in both positive and negative situations.
Beat around the bush
“Beating around the bush” means talking about something close to the important topic instead of the important topic itself. It’s a negative expression that people use when they are frustrated because little or no progress is being made or someone is avoiding talking about something which needs to be discussed.
Nip (something) in the bud
A “bud” is a small part of a plant that later grows into a leaf or flower, and one meaning of "nip" is "to pinch." So this expression basically means to “remove something while it is still small.” In everyday conversations, this phrase is used to talk about stopping a problem early so that it does not become a bigger problem later.
Hear (something) through the grapevine
Do you know the famous song I Heard It Through the Grapevine by Marvin Gaye? It's about a man who finds out that his girlfriend is leaving him. However, she didn't tell him directly. Instead, she told someone else, and that person told another person, and so on until he finally hears the news from someone totally different.
You could have told me yourself
That you love someone else
Instead, I heard it through the grapevine
This connection of people who share news or rumors is sometimes called a "grapevine." So "hearing something through the grapevine" means you learn something from a different place or person than where it started.
Were any of these expressions familiar to you? You may even have similar sayings in your native language. Because these tree and plant expressions can be used in so many different situations, if you learn them you will probably have a chance to use one very soon!