Pass the buck
We all know that buck is informal American English for a dollar. Indeed, it can also be used for an Australian dollar, a New Zealand dollar, a South African rand, and an Indian rupee – but none of those senses are related to pass the buck, meaning ‘shift the responsibility to someone else’.
This particular buck is ‘an article placed as a reminder in front of a player whose turn it is to deal at poker’ – which means passing it make much more sense. This item also gives us the phrase the buck stops here; both figurative phrases have moved far beyond their poker origins.
2. Turn over a new leaf
You might have wondered what raking the lawn had to do with the decision to ‘start to act or behave in a better or more responsible way’. Well, it has nothing to do with foliage, in case you were wondering, but relates to another common use of leaf: one of the pages in a book. A similar derivation gives us to take a leaf out of someone’s book, meaning ‘imitate or emulate someone in a particular way’.
你或许会好奇用耙子耙草坪跟洗心革面有什么关系。事实上，它和枝叶没有关系，而是和leaf另一个常用的意思有关：书页。一个相似的衍伸词组是take a leaf out of someone’s book，表示“模仿某人或把某人当做偶像”。
3. Push the envelope
This envelope isn’t the sort you’d put letters in. As we discovered in a post about the linguistic influence of aviation, push the envelope was originally aviation slang relating to graphs of aerodynamic performance and exceeding the set of limiting combinations of speed and altitude.
4. Ring the changes
It came originally with allusion to bell-ringing and the different orders in which a peal of bells may be rung.
5. Leave someone in the lurch
Lurch means ‘an abrupt uncontrolled movement, especially an unsteady tilt or roll’. It turns out that they’re unrelated; the word lurch in this phrase derives from the French lourche, which is the name of a game resembling backgammon. In French, you might find it in demeurer lourche, ‘be discomfited’.
6. Lick into shape
In Medieval Europe, it was believed that bears’ young were born shapeless, and licking into shape refers to the alleged practice of bears licking their offspring into ursine form.
在中世纪的欧洲，人们以为年幼的熊出生时是不成形的，licking into shape据称指的是熊会舔它们的后代，让它们变成像熊的样子。
7. Flash in the pan
The flash arises from an explosion of gunpowder within the pan, which was a part of the lock that held the priming in old types of gun.
8. Pull out all the stops
These stops are organ pipes of a particular tone and range of pitch and the handles which control them; by pulling all the stops out, you would create a louder, more elaborate sound.