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Idioms: memory

The Flatmates
Idioms use language metaphorically rather than literally. Khalid meant to say 'Let me see if I can jog your memory' which means 'Let me try to help you remember' (the metaphorical meaning). He didn't mean that he was going to run over Tim's brain (the literal meaning).

Idioms are also fixed groups of words so you can't change the wording of an idiom. For example, you can say something has 'slipped your mind' (meaning you forgot something) but you can't say something has 'fallen over in your mind'.

Idioms - be able to remember:

know something by heart / learn something (off) by heart
able to memorise something
My mum can recite more than 10 long speeches from Shakespeare. She learned them all off by heart when she was still at school.

it rings a bell
it's familiar, you think you perhaps know it, but you aren't sure
Tony McDonald. Yes, I think I know him. The name certainly rings a bell but I can't quite place him. Maybe I went to school with him.

have a memory like an elephant
able to remember a lot of things easily for a long period of time
He forgot their wedding anniversary only once in 15 years. But she's got a memory like an elephant and she's never forgiven him or forgotten about it.

Idioms - forget or be unable to remember:

something escapes me
I can't remember something
I recognised her face but her name escapes me.

it slipped my mind
I forgot it
I was meant to meet her for a drink but it completely slipped my mind. I hope she'll still be speaking to me on Monday when I see her in the office.

rack my brains
think very hard about something in an effort to remember it
I racked my brains but I just couldn't remember where I knew her from.

have a memory like a sieve
often forget things easily
Have you got a memory like a sieve? How many times do I have to remind you about your own mother's birthday?

go in one ear and out the other
when you forget something very quickly
There's no point telling her anything when she's watching TV. It'll go in one ear and out the other.

lost my train of thought
I forgot what I had been thinking about or talking about
I was in the middle of answering a question in a job interview when I completely lost my train of thought. It was so embarrassing, I had to ask one of the interviewers to remind me what I had been saying!

on the tip of my tongue
I can almost remember it but not quite
I know I should know the answer to this. The answer's on the tip of my tongue. I just can't seem to remember it.


put things into a suitcase, bag, box or other container

to last
to continue being useable

They'll kill me! (informal)
They will be very angry with me


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