Hello there, welcome to The Everyday Language Podcast, I’m Mark. In today’s episode, I want to talk about the idiom, “to drop a clanger”.
So “to drop a clanger”. Have you heard that before? Or do you know what that means?
Well, to start with let’s break it down into, like, the little bits. So a “clang”, what is a “clang”?
Well, a clang is a noise of something metal, usually, being hit by another metal thing. So metal on metal makes a clanging sound. Kind of like this: [Sound of clanging]
So a clanging sound is a very loud sound, which is easy to hear, if it happens near you.
Okay, what does to drop a clanger mean though? Is it something about a loud sound being obvious to hear?
Well, it’s not about a sound; it’s actually a phrase, an idiom, that means to make an embarrassing and obvious mistake.
So the connection with clanging is, the obvious [part]. You know, a clanging sound is obvious. It’s easy to hear, and when you drop a clanger, when you make a mistake, that is a clanger, it’s a really big mistake that everyone can notice [and therefore is obvious].
It’s often used with the verb “to drop” because “drop”, the verb “to drop” often has an association with accidents and doing things unintentionally. So we don’t “make a clanger” or “do a clanger”, “we drop a clanger”.
You can use this phrase when you want to talk about your own mistakes, or the mistakes of others. People often use “to drop a clanger”. They often say “I’m afraid of dropping a clanger”, when they’re going to do something for the first time and when they’re really nervous.
So it’s often used in connection with public speaking or doing some kind of presentation, either at school or at work. So you might say, “I was worried about dropping a clanger when I made my speech.”
Or, “I was afraid of dropping a clanger when I made a pitch to the client.”
And in both cases, the meaning is, “I was afraid of making a big mistake in front of important people”.
In your personal life, you can also “drop a clanger”. For example, you can go on a date with someone you’ve fancied for ages. So ‘fancy’ means to really like and to be attracted to, and the next day your friend asks you how has the date gone.
So you can reply, “The date went well, I didn’t drop any clangers. I think we had a good time”. And what you mean is: the date went well, you didn’t say anything embarrassing or stupid and it was successful.
And lastly, people often use “to drop a clanger” when they’re talking about sports. And in this occasion when they’re talking about a player doing something stupid, making a big mistake.
So in a recent report from a football match between Arsenal and Swansea on the 31st of January 2018. A match report had this sentence:
“Petr Cech dropped a clanger at Swansea on Tuesday night.”
And the meaning there is – Petr Cech, who is the Arsenal goalkeeper; he made a big mistake during the match against Swansea on Tuesday night. And it was a mistake that everyone could see. So he dropped a clanger.
So there we go with the idiom “to drop a clanger”.
Have you ever dropped a clanger? Or, are you afraid of dropping a clanger the next time you do some public speaking or a presentation?
Please tell me about it in the comment section below, and thanks for listening.
Remember to check out the website www.everydaylanguage. net where you can download this podcast episode for free and where you can read a full transcript of the episode. Ok, that’s it for now; I’ll see you soon. Bye!
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