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Hoje eu falo sobre dois idioms comuníssimos no inglês quando queremos dizer que uma pessoa pegou pesado demais com alguém que já estava mal.
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How’s it going? You’re listening to the new episode of the Inglês Online podcast. Thank you for telling everyone you know about this podcast and, enjoy!
Today I’m going to talk about a type of situation that is particularly unpleasant… It’s not nice to take part in it and it’s not nice to watch it unfold either. Interestingly, there are several English idioms that can be applied in this context, so let’s start with kick someone when they’re down.
Just imagine your work colleague John made a big mistake yesterday and, because of his mistake, the company has now lost a significant amount of money. John got reprimanded by his manager and his job is hanging by a thread. Your desk is right next to John’s desk, so you’re there to watch as Margot, a marketing assistant, walks up to John and gives him a scolding for losing the business deal.
So, at this point, John feels awful for losing the deal, obviously, and he’s already been told off by this boss. You could say he’s in a pretty low place right now. So on top of that, Margot comes up to him and tells him off again. She’s basically kicking John when he’s already down. You feel compelled to pull Margot aside and have a word with her. You say “Margot, c’mon… John’s obviously aware he screwed up. There’s no need to kick him when he’s down.”
There’s no need to kick someone when they’re down. They’re already down, they’re aware of how they acted, they know they have screwed up. It’s a nice piece of advice: don’t kick someone when they’re down. So that leads me to the second idiom of today and it’s closely related to “kick someone when they’re down”. Why?
Well, when Margot scolded John she specifically mentioned that John should not have tried to conduct the negotiation in Spanish, as his Spanish is not that great… She’s basically saying it was a stupid decision. When you heard Margot say that, you thought “This is a bit much – it’s a bit much to comment on the details of how John screwed this up.”
So in addition to telling Margot she shouldn’t kick John when he’s down, you say “C’mon Margot, leave John alone. Now is not the time to point out that his poor Spanish skills were the reason he failed. That’s kind of a cheap shot. He feels bad enough already… Let’s just leave it.” A cheap shot is, let’s say, an attack directed at someone who can’t defend themselves. It could be a mean remark – it could even be a mean comment disguised as concern.
Imagine that someone’s feeling particularly vulnerable after making a mistake or being told off, just like John is. Someone then goes over and makes them feel worse by bringing up something negative about that person’s life that catches them off guard. This person feels weak right now, so they can’t even properly defend themselves. You know what I mean? So that would have been a cheap shot. If you regularly watch American TV shows and movies, you will have certainly come across someone saying “That was a cheap shot. That was uncalled for.”
So I’d like to hear from you: can you remember the last time you witnessed a case of “kicking someone when they’re down”? Please let me know in the comments, and talk to you next time!
- kick someone when they’re down
- cheap shot
is hanging by a thread = está por um fio
gives him a scolding = dá uma dura nele
he’s been told off = já levou uma dura (to tell someone off = dar uma dura em alguém)
a pretty low place = bem por baixo (pretty aqui é intensificador)
let’s just leave it = vamos parar de falar / dar atenção a isso
uncalled for = desnecessário (não precisava ter ido tão longe com a crítica / ataque)
Como digo em inglês: Pega leve com ele