Last updated at 10:49 GMT, Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Use your loaf

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What's the connection between bread and common sense? Rob and Li discuss an expression you might use when someone does something silly.

Loaves of bread

Use your loaf!

The script for this programme

Rob: Hello and welcome to The English We Speak with me Rob and a very hungry-looking Li.

Li: (mouth full of food) Hello.

Rob: Erm, Li, you're talking with your mouth full. Can you wait till lunchtime please?

Li: No I can't - I'm starving.

Rob: Well, be careful - you're making such a mess in here.

Li: Ever since I started jogging before work, I just have to eat a big snack mid-morning or I feel faint by lunchtime.

Rob: Well, maybe, but you know you're not supposed to eat food in the studio. It's a really bad idea - you could damage the equipment. Oh no - look! There's salad and mayonnaise all over the recording desk! Li, use your loaf!

Li: Use my loaf? Yes, that's a good idea. If I use bread, I can make a sandwich, which will be much tidier.

Rob: No, I mean use your brain - think about things before you do them!

Li: Eh?

Rob: Well, in English, if you are slightly annoyed with someone because they are doing something they haven't thought about properly, you can say 'use your loaf'.

Li: Oh I see. Loaf here is slang for head.

Rob: That's right. It's a little old-fashioned but it's still something you might hear. My parents or grandparents would use it for when I did something a bit… stupid.

Li: Here are some examples.

  • Old man: Use your loaf, son. Don't ride your bike on the motorway at night without lights. You'll get yourself killed.
  • Dad: Why oh why oh why were you playing football in your school trousers?! Use your loaf! You have holes in your knees again!
  • Child: Sorry, Daddy.

Li: So, 'use your loaf' means think about things before you do them otherwise you will make silly mistakes.

Rob: That's right. So Li, use your loaf and stop eating food in the studio.

Li: Yes, next time I'll use my loaf and eat sandwiches.

Rob: No, don't eat food of any kind in the studio – not even sandwiches.

Li: But sandwiches are nice and tidy.

Rob: No they're not. You'll get lots of little crumbs everywhere.

Li: How about an apple?

Rob: No! Juice might drip!

Li: A banana?

Rob: No Li... oh goodness!