Podcast: Don't rock the boat – Inglês Online

Podcast: Don’t rock the boat

By Ana Luiza | Podcast Inglês Online

Mar 01
Inglês Online Don’t rock the boat

Hey, everyone.  Neste episódio do podcast eu falo sobre duas expressões super comuns do inglês com a palavra boat.


Hey, everyone. This is the new episode of the Inglês Online podcast.

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So let’s get started with a great idiom: rock the boat. Here’s how you’ll usually hear people say it: I don’t wanna rock the boat. Be careful when you give your opinion; you don’t wanna rock the boat. Don’t cause any trouble, don’t mess with a good situation or even an OK situation, let’s not ruffle any feathers, don’t rock the boat.

So what exactly does rock mean here? Rock is a verb and it means moving something back and forth. Think of a rocking chair: you sit in it and you start rocking it back and forth. Sort of the same with a boat: you can get on it and start rocking it from side to side. So that is a metaphor that English people use, usually to express that they don’t want to change things. They’re not going to complain, they’re not going to criticise anyone, they’re just going to keep their heads down and do their job. They don’t wanna rock the boat.

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Someone told me recently that the company they work for does not have a culture of learning and exploring new ideas. They don’t really appreciate suggestions or criticism coming from staff. As a result, employees have learned to, you know, bite their lip and keep their thoughts to themselves. They’re actually afraid of losing their job if they say something that displeases management. The employees at this company just don’t wanna rock the boat.

Another example: my friend went on a trip with a group of people and she noticed some strange behaviour by one of her travel companions. She decided not to say anything, especially given that she didn’t know the person very well. Since this was a trip situation and she was going to be with this group twenty four hours a day for some time, she thought it would be better not to rock the boat.

Now here’s another popular idiom, one that the students of my basic English course know well: we’re in the same boat. If someone tells me they’re in some kind of trouble, I will tell them “We’re in the same boat” if I happen to be going through the same kind of situation. I know what you’re going through, I feel you, I hear you… We’re in the same boat, I know exactly what you’re going through.

Now, the reason my students know this idiom isn’t because they’re having a hard time with the course – the reason is, I teach this idiom in the course, and by the end of it they know how to use it. Let’s say your classmate Mary rings you up and tells you she’s having a hard time with the Physics assignment. She’s looking at question number one and she has no idea where to start. She feels lost and needs your help. You tell her “Bad luck… Can’t help you. I’m just as lost as you are. We’re in the same boat, Mary…”

Now, have you ever been in a situation where you didn’t want to rock the boat? Let me know in the comments, and talk to you next time!


Key terms

  • rock the boat
  • be in the same boat



ruffle (someone’s) feathers = provocar uma pessoa

bite your lip = fique quieto ao invés de reagir e dizer algo ou rir

given that = considerando que



Latest posts by Ana Luiza (see all)

  • Roberta says:

    Hello Ana,
    I pretend to use a lot this idiom!
    It’s cool!


  • Marlon says:

    Hi, Ana. Thanks for the podcast. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to download it in my android app since the black cabs podcast. Do you know if there is any problem with the app? I changed my cellphone but it didn’t fix.

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