Hi, this is Mark, and you are listening to The Everyday Language Podcast for English Learners. Today’s idiom is the “salad days”.
This idiom has two usages.
The first is this:
The time when you were inexperienced, enthusiastic, had ideals and innocence.
Although, even if like me, you are not a young person anymore, I hope you still do have some of those characteristics. As it’s good to have ideals and enthusiasm, isn’t it?
Anyway, “salad days” was originally written by Shakespeare way back in 1606, in his play Antony and Cleopatra. This usage is considered old-fashioned. And here’s a bit more information and the original Shakespeare quote from Wikipedia.
In the speech at the end of Act One in which Cleopatra is regretting her youthful dalliances with Julius Caesar, she says,
Green is another word that we use for inexperienced.
And dalliance is like a romantic relationship, you know, some kissing and hugging and that stuff.
Ok, so the original salad days was from Shakespeare and related to a person’s youthful inexperience and naivety.
However, in more recent times, particularly in the US, another usage has emerged.
This second usage refers to a period when someone is at the peak of their abilities or happiness – and this may not be, necessarily, in that person’s youth.
This is one of my favourite idioms, as it reminds me of a period in my life when I was very happy, and I used this idiom a lot.
When I was in Taiwan studying Chinese, I used to say to my friend,
“These are the salad days.”
And I meant that these are happy days, it’s really great here, and I love it.
This usage of the idiom “salad days” was also used in the film Raising Arizona
Which is a great film by the Coen brothers.
And here is the quote,
So here the meaning is clear – salad is been used instead of happy.
If you are into film, it’s a brilliant film and I recommend watching it.
So that’s it for today. We learnt two meanings of “salad days”. One is old fashioned and from Shakespeare and refers to the period of our youthful inexperience, and the second refers to a happy period in our life [- should be lives, my bad.]
So, when were your salad days? Please let me know in the comments section below.
Remember to check out the episode page for this podcast episode on everydaylanguage.net for a full transcript. Cheers, see you later, and thanks for listening, bye!
If you want an easy to use reference dictionary about English idioms this is my recommendation:
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For any questions and comments
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Thank you to Setuniman and JMM Quah.
Intro music: Happy by Setuniman, see his work on Pond5.com. Royalty-free licence.
Outro music: I’ll Fly Away by JMM Quah.
Image from Pablo by Buffer
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