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Language tip of the week: honest

ILearn English with Macmillan Dictionaryn this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of  language tips we look at how metaphor is used to express some common concepts in English. This week’s tip looks at metaphors used to talk about being honest:

Being honest and moral is like being in a high position. Being dishonest and immoral is like being low down.



She has very high/low standards.
The president took the moral high ground.
They are upright, law-abiding people.
They are fine, upstanding citizens.
She had lofty ideals.
He was above such small-minded prejudice.
I never thought he’d stoop to that.
It was a very low/underhand trick.
He’s just a mean and lowdown cheat.
After her fall from grace, she lost everything.

Honesty and truth are like straight lines that go straight up or along. Dishonesty and lying are like twisted or sloping lines.

She’s completely straight: I’d trust her anywhere.
He kept to the straight and narrow after his release from prison.
Are they on the level? Can we trust them?
I need to level with you: I can’t pretend that things are OK.
It was a bad business, involving some crooked dealers.
It’s not true: you’re twisting the facts.
The newspapers have put their own spin/slant on what has happened.
They were accused of bias in their reporting.
We were presented with a very warped/distorted version of the truth.

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Liz Potter

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