Everyday Idioms Introduction
Hello there, welcome to the Everyday Language podcast. This is an episode on idioms and in particular, the idiom “work your fingers to the bone”.
So this idiom, “work your fingers to the bone”, that’s B O N E, and yeah bone, what’s inside your, inside your body, this means to work really hard until you’re exhausted.
This idiom means a lot to me because my mum used to use it a lot. From the age of nine until eighteen [my age], my mum ran a café, by the seaside in Clacton, the town that we used to live in in the UK.
So to run the cafe means to own the cafe and to, to manage it and to work in it. So working in the cafe was a really hard, hard job it was really hard work, and my mum would be exhausted by the end of every day.
And she didn’t have much time off from working as she was always worried about money and she, she wanted to keep the cafe open every day so that she could earn money, um, for us, for her kids.
So from February or March until November most years, she didn’t have a day off from work at the café. So that would be eight or nine months of working every day, with no day off.
So as you could imagine my mum was really, really tired at the end of every day and she would say to me, “Mark, I’m working my fingers to the bone, I’m exhausted”.
So if you think about it, you can almost imagine this phrase. If you do work that involves working with your hands, you know, you may know that, you know constantly doing the same movements, doing the same jobs, over and over again, can make your hands, you know, tired they can make your hands sore.
You know, when you use your hands to pick things up and to move things, and to…you know, manipulate things, to move things, in certain ways, your hands will become rough, and you know, you’ll feel tired. So you can imagine that your skin maybe would get blisters, and maybe bleed even, if you’re working really hard.
And you know, an extreme version of this, is to say that, you can see the skin you can see the bones underneath the skin. You know, I’m working my fingers to the bone, you can even see the bone.
So, yeah my mum used to say that a lot because she was really tired at the end of some days in the café. So, in my own life I’ve worked my fingers to the bone, you know, sometimes. Um, I remember as a student I used to work in kitchens in restaurants and pubs in the UK, and if you’ve ever worked in a kitchen. You know, that it’s super hard work, sometimes, you know [it’s] very fast and hot and sweaty, and you’ve got to move quick, and you can feel really tired.
So after a day’s work, you could say, “Yeah, I’ve been working my fingers to the bone”.
Okay, so that’s my explanation of work- working your fingers to the bone. Please let me know if you’ve worked your fingers to the bone, or if you are now working your fingers to the bone.
And use this idiom and post a comment in the comment section below. Okay thanks for listening, and see you soon. Bye!
If you want an easy to read and quick reference dictionary about English idioms this is my recommendation:
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Intro and Outro music by The Grey by Genx Beats creative commons. Thank you Genx!
Image of bones of human hands from wiki commons – source here
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