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Cultural Literacy Unit 4


undefined, object
copy deck
at sixes and sevens
In a state of confusion or disorder.
put your foot in your mouth
To make an embarrassing or tactless blunder when speaking
A mythical bird that periodically burned itself to death and emerged from the ashes as a new phoenix. According to most stories, the rebirth happened every 500 years. To "rise phoenix-like from the ashes" is to overcome a seemingly insurmountable setback.
feather in one's cap
An accomplishment a person can be proud of
Creatures in Classical Mythology who were half human and half horse.
carpe diem
Latin for "Seize the day"; take full advantage of present opportunities.

beware of Greeks bearing gifts
Do not trust enemies who bring you gifts- they could very well be playing a trick. The saying is from the word of Lacoon in the story of the Trojan Horse
Prima donna
A vain and overly sensitive person who is temperamental and difficult to work with. In Opera, the prima donna is the principal female soloist. From the Italian meaning "first lady".
creature comforts
the basic physical things that make life pleasant - good food, warm clothing, ect.
Ides of March
March 15th in the ancient Roman calendar; the day in 44 B.C. on which Julius Caesar was assassinated.
Faustian bargain
Faust, in the legend, traded his soul to the Devil in exchange for knowledge. To "strike a Faustian bargain" is to be willing to sacrifice anything ot satisfy a limitless desire for knowledge or power.
Alpha and Omega
The beginning and the end. In the alphabet, in which the New Testament was written, alpha is the first letter and omega is the last. In the Book of Revelation, God says, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last."
Give me your tired, your poor
A line from a poem, "The New Colossus," by the 19th century American poet, Emma Lazarus. "The New Colossus," describing the Statue of Liberty, appears on aplaque at the base of the statue.
Give me your tired, your poor.
Your huddled masses yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of you teamin shore,
Send these the homeless tempest-tossed, to me;

"The Fox and the Grapes"
One of the Aesop's fables. A fox tries many times to pluck some grapes that dangle invitingly ober his head, but he cannot reach them. As he slinks away in disgust, he says "Those grapes are probably sour anyway." "Sour grapes" refers to tings people decide are not worth having only after they find out they cannot have them.
you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear
it is impossible to make something excellent from poor material.
A person's strong point.
I came, I saw, I conquered
According to Plutarch, the words by which Julius Caesar described one of his victories. In Latin the words are "veni, vidi, vici."
(Roman name Mercury) The messenger god of classical mythology. He traveled with great swiftness, aided by the wings he wore on his sandals and his cap. Hermes was the son of Zeus and the father of Pan. The caduceus, the wand of Hermes; is the traditional symbol of physicians. It has wings at the top and serpents twined about the staff.
A term introduced by the psychologist Carl Jung to describe a person whose motives are actions are directed outward
lame duck
a public official or administration serving out a term in office after having been defeated for reelection or when not seeking reelection.
Lady Godiva
An English noblewoman of the 11th century. According to lengend, Lady Godiva once rode naked on horseback through the streets of Coventry, England, covered only by her long hair. Her husband had imposed taxes on the people of Coventry, and he agreed to lift the taxes only if Godiva took her ride.
American Dream
A phrase connoting hope for prosperity and happiness, symbolized by owning a house. Also, a hope that one's children's economic and social condition is better than one's own.
born with a silver spoon in one's mouth
born into a wealthy family.
Grim Reaper
A figure commonly used to represent death. The Grim Reaper is a skeleton or solemn looking man carrying scythe.
A formal accusation of wrong doing against a public official. The House of Representatives can vote to impeach an official, but the Senate actually tries the case.
crocodile tears
An incincere show of sympathy or sadness; crocodiles were once thought to "weep" large tears before they ate their victims.
spontaneous combustion
A process by which a collection of materials (such as oily rags) catches fire without the application of heat from an outside source. The oxidation of substances in the materials starts the fires.

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