index.html  Literary Conventions and the Human Body:

The use of bodily expressions for states of mind

 



Göran  Kjellmer

University of Gothenburg



 

 

 

Abstract

 

Changes in speakers’ states of mind are often reflected in their facial expressions or bodily movements. The relation between a physical expression and the state of mind that goes with it is often firmly established and conventionalised. Writers can make use of such correlations and indicate without having to describe them what emotions and sensations their characters experience by referring to their physical actions. The paper is concerned with unintentional and perhaps unconscious com­municative manifestations and discusses the degree to which they have become conventionalised. A list of bodily expressions and their corresponding states of mind is drawn up, and illustrative material is supplied from two large language corpora.

 

 




A. Correlation bodily expression and state of mind

 

                      1. Evidence

 

Variations in the mood of speakers habitually co-occur with variations in their facial ex­pressions or bodily movements. This kind of correspondence has been ob­served and commented on[i], not least in the medical literature, where speakers with different types of handicap, mental and others, have been studied.[ii] That we are not alone in the animal world in this respect is shown by studies of apes[iii] and monkeys[iv], where similar relations have been found. From a communicative point of view we may, with Wierzbicka (1995), make a distinction between "bodily actions which function as speech surrogates [...] and bodily actions which while meaningful cannot be seen as speech surrogates" (209).  Although many physical manifesta­tions are de­liberately communica­tive[v], such as hugs and kisses as expressions of friendship or love, physical manifesta­tions are unconscious or semi­con­scious perhaps most of the time, and speakers vary with regard to their wish and ability to control them.  Conse­quent­ly, a given physical expression can be assumed to indicate a certain emo­tional state while a given emotional state cannot without reservation be ex­pected to result in a certain physical expression.[vi] 

 

As this relation between cer­tain mental states and physical expressions is fairly well established[vii], writers, particularly writers of fiction, have been quick to make use of it.  It is obvious, therefore, that it has aspects of interest to linguistic and communicative studies. Kurath (1921) observed, as Sweetser (1990:28) notes, that “Indo-European words for the emotions are very frequently derived from words referring to physical actions or sensations accompanying the relevant emotions, or to the bodily organs affected by those physical reactions.” What the present study will do is consider the stage preceding that discussed by Kurath, viz. the stage where the physical actions or sensations have not yet become, or are just beginning to become, lexicalised as purely emotional expressions. The study will thus look into the way in which states of mind are represented as physical expressions in written English.  It will use material from two language corpora, viz. the 57-million-word Cobuild Direct Corpus (examples where the reference follows the text) and the 100-million-word British National Corpus (examples where the reference precedes the text).  An important question to be addressed will then be to what extent the actual physical manifestations represented in writing can be assumed to be present in the persons referred to.  For example, can a person said to be tearing his or her hair out in exasperation actually be assumed to be physically doing so, or has the phrase become just a literary device to signify an emotional state?  Is the link between the state of mind and its physical manifestation being severed?

 

                      2. General validity?

 

There has been a great debate as to whether terms and relations in the emotional field established for one language community can also be taken to apply to other language communities.[viii]  Wierzbicka, for one, emphatically denies that this could be the case: "[A]s empirical cross-linguistic studies show, there are simply no emotional expressions interpreted the same way across cultures ..." (2000:149). The present little study is only concerned with English, so the question whether the bodily expressions can be translated and whether they apply in the same way to states of mind in other language communities does not arise.  Moreover, we are not here concerned with deliberately communicative manifestations, such as handclapping, hugging and kissing, but rather with mostly unintentional and perhaps unconscious ones like pursing one's lips or dropping one's jaw.

 

 

B. Literary use

 

The fact that facial expressions and bodily movements are often unconscious and yet expressive of some mental state makes them an obvious medium for anyone wanting to observe, study and describe internal processes in our fellow human beings.  As was just mentioned, fiction writers in particular have shown themselves to be interested in, and to make use of, this way of portraying the mental states of their characters.  It is easy to see the advantages of this procedure.  For one thing, it allows thought processes and emotional perturbations to be made evident in an indirect way. Sweetser (1990: 31) speaks of “a general tendency to borrow concepts and vocabulary from the more accessible physical and social world to refer to the less accessible worlds of reasoning, emotion and conversational structure.” Readers will not be likely to miss the intended message, simply because many expressions are widely recognised as corresponding to given mental ana­logues.  For another thing, the device of giving a physical expression for a mood has the obvious advantage of being very effective as a literary expedient.  It is more vivid and expressive to say, e.g., "She moistened her dry lips" than to say "She seemed uncertain", or to say "He was drumming his fingers" than to say "He was impatient”.

 

Note, however, that not all facial expressions and bodily movements have been conventionalised in the sense that they reflect a given mental state.  To pick one's nose or  to scratch one's knee does not neces­sarily correspond to some predictable mood of the agent.

 

 

C. Conventionalised expressions

 

We are here concerned with conventionalised expressions of human behaviour, i.e. with established language collocations referring to bodily movements conven­tionally linked with a given emotion or set of emotions; we are thus not like Wierzbicka (2000) dealing with a description of the behaviour itself.

 

The well-established emblematic character of the phrases in question is apparent when one considers that to gnash one's teeth and to grit one's teeth refer to quite differ­ent kinds of mood (frustration and determination, respectively), although the physical manifestations are very similar.  The corresponding physical actions of wringing one's hands and rubbing one's hands are not unlike, but they are used to signify contrasting states of mind (worry and glee, respectively).  One may also observe that the state of mind described as wrinkling one's brow is one radically different from that signalled by wrinkling one's nose.  It is therefore not the physical expressions as such that are in focus but the conventionalised descrip­tions of them.  The above examples show that the physical reality of the pheno­mena in ques­tion is all but irrelevant to their verbal representation and conventional meaning; an attempt to "obtain accurate measurements of the movements of facial [and other] muscles" (treated coolly by Wierzbicka 2000: 159) would hence be beside the point in the present context.

 

 

D. Nature of correlation

 

Physical expressions are characteristically described as occurring in response to new information or as a reac­tion to someone's behaviour.

 

It is striking that the mental states conveyed by bodily expressions are overwhelm­ingly negative.  If the terms for the states of mind studied in this paper (see E, below) are accepted, the resulting list of terms looks like this:

 


agreement

anger (control of)

amazement

anger x 3

annoyance x 4

bewilderment

boredom x 4

carelessness

concentration x 2

confusion

deep thought x 3

defeat

deliberation

desperation x 2

determination x 2

disappointment

disapproval x 4

discomfort

disgust

disrespect

embarrassment

exasperation

excitement

fear

frustration

gleeful anticipation

hopelessness

horror x 2

idleness x 3

impatience x 4

incomprehension

indifference

irritated determination

loss of control

negative expectation or surprise

nervousness x 2

pleasure x 2

puzzlement

rejection

scorn

sexual interest (among women)

shock x 2

sorrow

surprise x 4

uncertainty

worry x 2

 


 

Since emotions can be verbally expressed in a variety of ways, it stands to reason that no statistics can be based on such a list.  Nevertheless, it is obvious that emotions like annoyance, boredom, disapproval, impatience, anger, surprise and idleness are frequently given physical expression.  There are many more negative terms and very few even mildly positive ones (agreement, gleeful anticipation and perhaps sexual interest; there is only one unqualified positive one, viz. pleasure.)  If we have many more recognised physical ways of expressing nuances of negative feelings than we have of expressing positive feelings, this could be because “humans have a greater need to talk about problematic events and processes than unproblematic ones.”[ix]  One might also speculate that positive feelings are in fact less well articulated than negative ones, both in the mind and in their physical correspon­dences.

 

The emotion suggested by the employment of the bodily expression can be more or less sharply focussed.  In some cases there can be little doubt as to the precise nature of the state of mind described: to tear one's hair normally signifies a state of despera­tion, to shrug has a given interpretation as a sign of indiffer­ence.  On the other hand, when people are described as throwing up their hands, this could be because they are either horrified or hopeless and dejected. The exact shade of meaning intended is not always apparent, but writers some­times supply evidence supporting one or other of the possible interpretations, as in the following phrases from the Corpora (see Appendix):

 

blinked in bewilderment

curled her lips in scorn

drummed his fingers impatiently

gnashed their teeth in frustration and envy

opens her hands in ignorance

pursed her lips in thought

rolls her eyes in exasperation

scratches his head to remember ...

shake his head in wonder

tapping her fingers on the desk impatiently

threw their hands up in horror

wring my hands in desperation

 

Such additional information may be helpful when on another occasion we have to interpret a given phrase without the benefit of a supplied mental correlate. 

 

 

E.  Selective list of conventionalised expressions

 

Collocations expressing the conventional counterpart of a given state of mind are more frequent than may be realised, as will appear from the following list.

 

The list lays no claim to exhaustiveness, needless to say.  It is in the nature of collocations that some are better established than others, and that there is an element of subjectivity in assessing their collocationhood.  It is obvious that more colloca­tions of a similar sort could have been included, but the ones that are listed will provide enough material to illustrate some interesting aspects.  The items under "state of mind" reflect my attempts at finding typical mental corre­lates of the physical expressions and movements.  Corpus material illustrating their use, and hopefully supporting the interpretations given below, will be found in the Appendix.

 



Bodily expression indicates state of mind
bite one's nails excitement, nervousness
blink (one's eyes) sudden surprise, loss of control, bewilderment
clench one's teeth (control of) anger
curl one's lip(s) scorn, disapproval, disrespect, annoyance, boredom
curl one's toes (up)/ make one's toes curl embarrassment, discomfort
drop one's jaw surprise1, shock, disappointment
drum one's fingers impatience, idleness
frown deep thought2, anger, worry, confusion
gnash one's teeth anger, frustration
grit one's teeth determination in adversity
kick one's heels idleness, boredom
knit one's brow(s) concentration, worry
moisten one's lips uncertainty, nervousness
nod one's head agreement, pleasure
open one's eyes wide surprise, fear
open one's hands incomprehension, carelessness
pout (one's lips) annoyance; sexual interest (among women)
purse one's lips disapproval; (deep) thought
raise an eyebrow/one's eyebrows negative expectation3 or negative surprise
roll one's eyes annoyance, boredom, exasperation
rub one's hands pleasure, gleeful anticipation
scowl anger
scratch one's chin/beard deliberation
scratch one's head bewilderment; deep thought
shake one's head rejection, amazement
shrug (one's shoulders) indifference
stamp (one's foot) impatience, irritated determination4
straighten one's back sudden determination
tap one's fingers impatience, idleness
tear one's hair (out) desperation
throw up one's hands horror; hopelessness, defeat
toss one's head anger, annoyance, defiance
turn up one's nose (at) disapproval
twiddle one's thumbs boredom, impatience
widen one's eyes/ one's eyes widen surprise, shock, horror
wring one's hands desperation, sorrow
wrinkle (up) one's brow concentration, puzzlement
wrinkle one's nose disapproval, disgust
            1. Wierzbicka (2000: 163): "I don't know what I can say."
            2. Wierzbicka (2000: 160): "I am thinking now."
            3. Wierzbicka (2000: 161): "I want to know more."
            4. Wierzbicka (1995: 227) describes the meaning of the act of stamping one's foot in the following way:
               (a) I think you said something bad now
               (b) I don't want this
               (c) I feel something bad now
               (d) because of this, I want to do THIS now

 

 

 

F. Discussion of examples

 

                      1. Physical or metaphorical?


One remarkable aspect of the physical-for-mental literary device is the fact that, because of the close and generally recognised association between expression and mood, the bodily expres­sion writers use to indi­cate the state of mind or mood of their characters need not be openly manifested.  The moral disapproval of some­one said to "purse her lips" or the negative expectation of someone said to "raise her eyebrow" may just show itself in their words or tone of voice, while lips and eyebrows remain in their normal place.  People are said to "shrug", "tear their hair", "wring their hands" without necessarily doing so physically. 

 

In some cases, the physical equivalent of a certain kind of mood is obviously manifested concretely.  This may be apparent from the way the expressions are described or commented on, as in the following examples where the mental states of the subjects are clearly conveyed:

 

(1) G1W 2669 "What exactly were the stains by the way?" Dexter saw Lancaster moisten his lips before he spoke. "Coffee, Sergeant. Just coffee. I spilt some on the jacket."

 

(2) Oh, this is so unprofessional. I really should be ashamed, but ...  She threw up her hands in mock resignation, a somewhat stiff, self-conscious gesture.  (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000000418.)

 

(3) By this time, Lenny was terrified. Each time Mr. Trancas came into the room, Lenny's entire body stiffened in anticipation of what was to come. He was no longer able to control the expression on his face; his mouth became dry, his eyes widened, and he began to tremble all over. (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000000909.)

 

In other cases it may be doubtful whether the physical description is meant to be taken literally:

 

(4) He japed: `Oh come off it Mr Lilley, you're just an old queen like me <p> You could have heard a penny drop. Lilley's jaw dropped, too.  (Corpus: today/11. Text: N6000940113.)

 

(5) Then Peter came to her and said `I am now not asking you to marry me", and her life fell away. <p> It was the end of her innocence. <p> She straightened her back and carried on with her duties.  (Corpus: oznews/01. Text: N5000951022.)

 

A jaw may have been dropped and a back straightened in those examples, but what is more important is the change of mood in the characters, a change conveyed by the use of the physical descriptions.

 

In other cases again it seems clear that the physical expressions given in order to rep­resent a mental state are not meant to be taken literally but are rather to be seen as metaphorical.  We will take a look at a number of such cases. Consider the following examples.

 

(6) They didn't foul, didn't dive in; they just chased and harried and frustrated until the home side and 120,000 fans were tearing their hair. And, when the chance came, they broke away and scored. (Corpus: sunnow/17. Text: N9119980610.)

 

(7) Election fever had been in the air for six months. Some though not all of the curial cardinals resident in Rome rubbed their hands as they mourned: now they could avenge the humiliation of the first session of the Council by blocking Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini, the obvious [“]liberal" candidate.  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000001257.)

 

It is hard to imagine that 120,000 soccer fans were physi­cally tearing their hair, or that curial cardinals were actually rubbing their hands as they mourned their deceased Pope. Rather, this is a way of presenting the despair of the fans and the glee of the cardinals in a colourful and memorable way.  And similarly, in

 

(8) The sight of MPs wringing their hands in sorrow while they piously pleaded that they could not make ends meet on almost £100,000 a year was, frankly, sickening.  (Corpus: today/11. Text: N6000920716.)

 

and

 

(9) Mention the name of composer John Cage and classical music fans are liable to roll their eyes, grit their teeth and brace themselves for a dissonant, loud or un­settling experience.  (Corpus: npr/07. Text: S2000910312.)

 

it is very unlikely that wringing of hands actually took place in Parliament, and that "classical music fans" will physically roll their eyes and grit their teeth at the mention of John Cage.

 

 

The phrases have become conventionalised as emblems of mental states.  Here are some more examples of a similar kind:

 

(10) In Lesbia Magazine, the film critic Catherine Gonnard turned up her nose at the stereotypes, saying I've never known how to unclog a sink, I don't smoke, I hate wearing keys on my belt, children and married women make me run away  (Corpus: times/10. Text: N2000960217.)

 

(11) Even Euro-fanatics can not point to one single tangible economic benefit. It has been all downside. Which is the main reason our political leaders want to suppress rational debate and threw their hands up in horror when The Sun catapulted the issue into millions of homes, pubs, clubs and workplaces this week.  (Corpus: sunnow/17. Text: N9119980626.)

 

(12) Police morale is low. Increasingly their response to crime is to shrug their shoulders.  Only 29 percent of crimes are solved.   (Corpus: npr/07. Text: S2000930310.)

 

(13) If you couldn't attend either of the concerts and are currently gnashing your teeth at having missed out, don't despair. MM has 1,000 copies of the LP that we're giving away FREE! (Corpus: ukmags/03. Text: N0000000812.)

 

There is thus a sliding scale in the use of bodily terms between physically concrete expressions and abstract metaphorical ones.  What is common to them is that they characterise the mental state of their subjects more strikingly and dramatically than a mere reference to it would have done.  Indeed, at the most abstract metaphorical end of that scale a semantic change might be said to have taken place. If metaphorical semantic relationships can be described as a mapping of one domain onto another (Sweetser 1990: 25), we are in the present case witnessing a strikingly gradual process of such mapping.  Unlike what is the case in conventional metaphors[xiv] (“Time is money”, “Edward Teller is the father of the hydrogen bomb”), where the metaphorical nature of the expression is not in doubt, it is often difficult or impossible to decide whether an occurrence of a bodily expression is meant to be taken literally or metaphorically. The direction of the semantic change, when there is a semantic change, from concrete to abstract, is in any case what we could expect.[xv]

                     

2. "Mood" interpretation crucial for understanding. 

 

The importance of realising the conventional connexion between mood and physical expression for the full understanding of a text appears clearly if one imagines a reader unaware of such links.  He will not grasp the import of the "physical" phrases in the following examples, namely that of signalling impatience and/or boredom:

 

(14) They arrived at midnight on Sunday after twiddling their thumbs for seven hours in Calcutta airport. (Corpus: times/10. Text: N2000960227.)

 

(15) APY 1250  Parking was not allowed at that kerb, but no one would stop him.  He sat tapping his fingers on the wheel, waiting for her.

 

The interpretation of those examples may be fairly straightforward even without such previous knowledge, but in

 

(16) AFTER a year spent collectively gnashing their teeth, the building companies have suddenly decided that the construction market is not as gloomy as they led the City and Government to believe. (Corpus: times/10. Text: N2000960405.)

 

the context does not help out, and the suggestion of frustration will be lost on the unsuspecting reader, who may well be confused or at any rate inadequately informed.

 

 

                      3. Relevance of grammatical objects for interpretation

 

The canonical form of the collocations with which we are concerned is "verb + possessive + noun", where of course the noun phrase is the object.  In two cases (frown, scowl) there is no (nonprepositional) object[xvi], and in (at least) four the object can be omitted (blink, pout, shrug, stamp). In cases where the object of the collocations seems to be omissible, there may be a semantic difference between the collocation with an object and one without it. Cruse (1991: 108-109) discusses shrug vs. shrug one's shoulders and pout vs. pout one's lips:

 

[T]he omission of the object has a subtle semantic conse­quence. Shrug and pout in Arthur pouted and Celia shrugged refer to a gesture used as a conventional signal; Arthur pouted his lips and Celia shrugged her shoulders, however, are non-committal about whether a signal was intended, and indicate merely that a certain movement was performed. In other words, the precise sense of pout, shrug (and probably also nod, stamp, wave) depends on whether or not the direct object is present. That being so, the direct object cannot be said to be totally redundant.

 

This may well be correct in the majority of cases, but it is best not to be categorical.  For instance, in

 

(17) A6T 1916  Our breath made huge clouds of steam which hid our faces as we talked, and we hopped about and shrugged elaborately to ward off the penetrating fingers of cold that probed at our necks and hands.

 

it is clear that shrugged does not "refer to a gesture used as a conventional signal".

 

G. Conclusion

 

This study has attempted to show, first, that authors’ reference to physical manifestations, such as facial expressions, head and hand movements, etc., in order to represent mental states and emotions and thereby to lend colour and life to the portrayal of dramatis personae is more widespread than may have been realised, and secondly, that this device has been conventionalised to such an extent that it can be used to signal mental states or activities even when there can be no question of actual physical correlates.  In such cases it is suggested we are entitled to speak of a semantic change.

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

Alvarado, Nancy and Kimberly Jameson 1996. “New Findings on the Contempt Expression.” Cognition and Emotion, 10, 4, July, 379-407.

Aston, Guy, and Lou Burnard 1998.  The BNC Handbook.  Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. British National Corpus, see Aston and Burnard 1998 and Leech and Smith 2000.

CobuildDirect corpus, an on-line service: http://titania.cobuild.collins.co.uk.

Cruse, D A. 1991. Lexical Semantics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Darwin, Charles 1955 [1872].  The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals. New York: Philosophical Library.

De Gelder, Beatrice and Jean Vroomen 2000. The Perception of Emotions by Ear and by Eye. Cognition and Emotion, 14, 3, May, 289-311.

Ibarretxe-Antuñano, Iraide 2002. MIND-AS-BODY as a Cross-Linguistic Conceptual Metaphor.” Miscelánea, A Journal of English and American Studies, 25

Kidron, Yael, and Ron Kuzar 2002.  “My Face Is Paling against My Will: Emotion and Control in English and Hebrew.” Pragmatics & Cognition, 10, 1-2, 129-157.

Kogo, Reiko, Yoko Mochizuki and Fusako Koshikawa 2003.  “Recognition of Emotions from Facial and Vocal Expressions by People with Mental Retarda­tion.”  Japanese Journal of Special Education, 40, 5, Jan, 443-450.

Kurath, Hans 1921. The semantic sources of the words for the emotions in Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, and the Germanic languages. PhD dissertation, University of Chicago.  Published by The Collegiate Press, George Banta Publishing Co., Menasha, Wisconsin.

Lakoff, George. and Mark Johnson 1980. Metaphors We Live By.  Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Leech, Geoffrey, and Nick Smith 2000. Manual to Accompany The British National Corpus (Version 2) with Improved Word-class Tagging. Oxford: Oxford University Computing Services.

Maestripieri, Dario 1997. “Gestural Communication in Macaques: Usage and Meaning of Nonvocal Signals.” Evolution of Communication, 1, 2, 193-222.

Manusov, Valerie and April R. Trees 2002. “'Are You Kidding Me?': The Role of Nonverbal Cues in the Verbal Accounting Process.” Journal of Communica­tion, 52, 3, Sept, 640-656.

Parr, Lisa A., William D. Hopkins and Frans B. M. de Waal 1998. “The Perception of Facial Expressions by Chimpanzees, Pan Troglodytes.” Evolution of Communication, 2, 1, 1-23.

Partington, Alan 2004. “’Utterly content in each other’s company.’ Semantic prosody and semantic preference.”  International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 9:1, 131-154.

Pease, Allan 1997 [1981]. Body Language : how to read others' thoughts by their gestures. London: Sheldon Press

Stevens, D., T. Charman and R. J. R. Blair  2001 Recognition of Emotion in Facial Expressions and Vocal Tones in Children with Psychopathic Tendencies.The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 162, 2, June, 201-211.

Sweetser, Eve Eliot 1984.  Semantic Structure and Semantic Change: A Cognitive Linguistic Study of Modality, Perception, Speech Acts, and Logical Relations.  Ann Arbor, Mi: University Microfilms International.

Sweetser, Eve Eliot 1990.   From Etymology to Pragmatics. Cambridge, etc.: Cambridge University Press.

Timler, Geralyn R. 2003. Reading Emotion Cues: Social Communication Difficulties in Pediatric Populations. Seminars in Speech and Language, 24, 2, 121-130.

Wierzbicka, Anna 1995. “Kisses, Handshakes, Bows: The Semantics of Nonverbal Communication.” Semiotica, 103, 3-4, 207-252.

Wierzbicka, Anna 2000.  “The Semantics of Human Facial Expressions.” Pragmatics & Cognition, 8, 1, 147-183.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Endnotes



[i]See for instance Stevens et al.  (2001), Manusov & Trees (2002) and Kidron & Kuzar (2002).  In fact, much of the research in this area goes back to Charles Darwin (1955 [1872]).

[ii] See for instance Kogo et al. (2003), Timler (2003).

[iii] Parr et al. (1998).

[iv] Maestripieri (1997).

[v] "We want you to know this" (Wierzbicka 1995: 249).

[vi] Cf. Sweetser (1990: 30): “bodily experience is a source of vocabulary for our psychological states, but not the other way around.  The correlations are bidirectional and partial, but the mapping observed in semantic change and in synchronic metaphorical language is both unidirectional and more general than the correlations.  Its unidirectionality alone would suggest the possibility that it is metaphorical in nature.”

[vii] Cf. Pease (1997 [1981]), De Gelder & Vroomen (2000).

[viii] See e.g. Sweetser (1990, Ch. 2), Ibarretxe-Antuñano (2002).

[ix] Partington (2004:144).

[x] Wierzbicka (2000: 163): "I don't know what I can say."

[xi] Wierzbicka (2000: 160): "I am thinking now."

[xii] Wierzbicka (2000: 161): "I want to know more."

[xiii] Wierzbicka (1995: 227) describes the meaning of the act of stamping one's foot in the following way:

(a) I think you said something bad now

(b) I don't want this

(c) I feel something bad now

(d) because of this, I want to do THIS now

[xiv] Such as fill the pages of Lakoff and Johnson (1980).

[xv] “Furthermore, such generalizations about semantic change as we do have [...] suggest very strongly that meaning more frequently shifts from concrete to abstract than in the opposite direction; [...]” (Sweetser 1984: 18.)

[xvi] You can frown upon something and scowl at someone, but you cannot *frown something or *scowl someone.

 

 

Appendix.  Illustrations from corpora

 

In the list below, the CobuildDirect Corpus and, sometimes, the British National Corpus have been searched to present evidence for the use of the conventionalised expressions referred to in the paper. Each one of them will be illustrated by a handful of examples from the corpora.

 

bite one’s nails (excitement, nervousness)

With just over 10 minutes to go, Kerry were level after subjohn Dooley's smashing

goal had the Waterford fans biting their nails. Corpus: sunnow/17. Text: N9119980525.

 

<F05> They get all nervous and things

 <F0X> Yeah

<F01> They get nervous

<F05> like twiddle their thumbs and things

<F06> Yeah and bite their nails  Corpus: ukspok/04. Text: S9000001238.

 

I ventured to question a great deal of what he said, but he had grown excited--he was walking up and down, biting his nails, and I saw, that apart from registering my disagreement, there was nothing I could usefully say. Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000001245.

 

What did I do that night long, the only time in my life when I could have been some use? The night long with my love breaking in agony? Nothing. Sat there biting my nails, and snivelled. Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000001245.

 

blink (one's eyes/an eye) (sudden surprise, loss of control, bewilderment)

Erich Priebke, a former SS captain, leaves the military court in Rome where he was ordered to stand trial yesterday on May 8, the fifty-first anniversary of VE-Day, for his role in the massacre of 335 Italians during the Second World War. When the ruling was announced, Herr Priebke, 82, `didn't blink an eye", said Pietro Nicotera, a lawyer for victims' relatives.   (Corpus: times/10. Text: N2000960405.)

 

Did you meet anybody when you came up here?" Gil asked suddenly. <p> Bob blinked his eyes bewilderedly. `Meet anybody? No; I didn't see anybody.  (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000000492.)

 

Then he asked, `Watson boy drawing this year?" A tall boy in the crowd raised his hand. `Here," he said. `I'm drawing for m'mother and me." He blinked his eyes nervously and ducked his head  (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000001423.)

 

The book was a compilation of Private Eye's spoof on the Adrian Mole diaries, The Secret Diary of John Major aged 47 3/4, which depicts the Prime Minister as something of a pant-wetter. O'Donnell finally plucked up his courage and presented Major with a pen. He didn't even blink, oh no.  <p> The Prime Minister was happy to sign it," says Gus.  (Corpus: times/10. Text: N2000960213.)

 

He leans up into the tree, holds up a hand. <p> Come on down, he says. <p> Come on, he urges you can't stay up there all night. <p> The bogyman will get you. <p> I blink. <p> The bogyman? (Corpus: oznews/01. Text: N5000950624.)

 

 

clench one's teeth ((control of) anger)

canonization was a particularly Catholic way of celebrating exclusively Catholic heroes. Anglicans, having no part in it, could only clench their teeth and go on about triumphalism and repentance.  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000001257.)

 

He clenched his teeth to keep down his anger. His feelings were bridling so that he found himself picking nervously at his lips with his fingernails. (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000000492.)

 

These sonsofbitches! They presumed they owned him, that they could come upon him when they liked, that he had no inviolate private world of his own into which they could not penetrate at will. He clenched his teeth and kept his eyes averted  [...] (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000000492.)

 

 

curl one's lips  (scorn, disapproval, disrespect, annoyance, boredom)

You <f> men!" <f> She curled her lips in scorn. `How much do you think a poor girl can stand?"  (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000000492.)

 

You want one?" he asked. She curled her lip in mock disgust. D'you ever kiss somebody who smokes? I wun't kiss a guy who smokes.  (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000001192.)

 

ACW 1117  In the gloom of the hall, Buddie sniffed and curled his lip in distaste.

 

AEB 2176  And she positively curled her lip with disdain.

 

BMW 990 His lip curled in a bitter smile.

 

GVP 1085 "Of course we'll give you a lift," said Melissa hastily, noting the contemptuous curl of Iris's lip and anxious to forestall any blunt comment that might sour the atmosphere still further.

 

 

curl one's toes (up)/make one's toes curl  (embarrassment, discomfort)

I would say they could stay and <ZZ1> company name's <ZZ0> policy is they can stay here till they curl their toes up  (Corpus: ukspok/04. Text: S9000001625.)

 

C8S 1240  both had the kind of accent that made his toes curl, and made him wish he'd opted for the more costly tailor.

 

HGE 3178  The mere sight of him was enough to make McAllister's toes curl.

 

JY4 904 "What has he got that I couldn't give you?" he asked in a dull tone that chilled Ruth more than if he had bawled at her. Ruth's toes curled under the table. If only he knew that no man could give her what he had -- thirteen frantic days of excitement and sensuality

 

K52 2189  Those tight-lipped, clipped voices curl the toes of any Trust member who lives north of Watford and can't say "five thisand pinds."

 

 

drop one's jaw  (surprise, shock, disappointment)

It doesn't snow there?" The kid dropped his jaw as if he'd never heard any such thing.  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000001221.)

 

What do you mean?" I asked, trying not to drop my jaw.  (Corpus: usephem/05. Text: E9000000886.)

 

this picture graphically catches John Daly at the top of his backswing, a style which will make every golfer drop his or her jaw a little closer to the breakfast table. (Corpus: oznews/01. Text: N5000951203.)

 

He japed: `Oh come off it Mr Lilley, you're just an old queen like me <p> You could have heard a penny drop. Lilley's jaw dropped, too.  (Corpus: today/11. Text: N6000940113.)

 

But'chu know someday I'm gonna drive by in my LIMO  an' I'm gonna STOP an' get out an' he gonna lookit me an' his jaw gonna drop, bro'.  (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000001192.)

 

 

drum one's fingers  (impatience, idleness)

Maybe I'd better come with you, make sure you find it [...]; ` <p> You want to see the morgue, or not?" <p> Christ." He drummed his fingers on his knees. `All right all right, but hurry, will you? I got work to do.  <o> Shake it Cain."  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000051.)

 

The Harbor Lights offices closed at five, like ours. <p> I stared at the phone and drummed my fingers on my desk. <p> Four fifty-eight. <p> What if I were wrong?  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000051.)

 

She drummed her fingers nervously on the steering wheel. Come on, come on, she said to herself and peered out of the window again.  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000336.)

 

Shifting uneasily in his chair, he drummed his fingers impatiently on the desk, willing the phone to ring.  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000001320.)

 

frown  (deep thought, anger, confusion, worry)

Now he frowned.He was very thoughtful. (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000000538.)

 

How do you feel?" Mr. Trancas asked. `Do you have a headache?" Confused, Lenny frowned and nodded. Well, that's to be expected. It's from the ether. (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000000909.)

 

A garden or a gardener?" <p> She frowned, trying to remember, then shrugged.  Honestly, that's all I can recall.  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000034.)

 

She frowned behind her horn-rimmed glasses in worried thought.  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000051.)

 

The most important thing is your degree." <p> Hey," he said and frowned, annoyed. `I didn't marry you so you could put me through college."  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000115.)

 

 

gnash one's teeth  (anger, frustration)

When the Wallabies beat England in the 1991 World Cup final, the still-ostracised South Africans watching from the Twickenham stands gnashed their teeth in frustration and envy. (Corpus: oznews/01. Text: N5000950301.)

 

AFTER a year spent collectively gnashing their teeth, the building companies have suddenly decided that the construction market is not as gloomy as they led the City and Government to believe.   (Corpus: times/10. Text: N2000960405.)

 

At 6.1 on the Richter scale, it was the biggest earthquake to hit LA in years, its epicentre a mere eight kilometres from the San Andreas fault. Radio preachers gibbered about the end of the world. There was a whole lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth.  (Corpus: ukmags/03. Text: N0000000493.)

 

If you couldn't attend either of the concerts and are currently gnashing your teeth at having missed out, don't despair. MM has 1,000 copies of the LP that we're giving away FREE! (Corpus: ukmags/03. Text: N0000000812.)

 

 

grit one's teeth  (determination in adversity)

Mention the name of composer John Cage and classical music fans are liable to roll their eyes, grit their teeth and brace themselves for a dissonant, loud or unsettling experience.   (Corpus: npr/07. Text: S2000910312.)

 

Grit your teeth, every time you wake up in the morning tell yourself you're perfectly normal - which you are - and wait till those hormones sort themselves out and you start to have a better time.   (Corpus: today/11. Text: N6000940718.)

 

Abstinence doesn't have to be a grim, grit-your-teeth-and-bear-it process either. (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000000440.)

 

The England man played with a damaged shoulder, but explained: `I was in pain for a lot of the game. It's a case of gritting your teeth and getting on with it.  (Corpus: today/11. Text: N6000941205.)

 

 

kick one's heels (idleness, boredom)

Boy-racers are revving their souped-up Ford Fiestas and eyeing the town's fretful youth who are kicking their heels on the street because they are underage. (Corpus: times/10. Text: N2000951118.)

 

Carroll will be just another face in the crowd at Croke Park today as his team-mates take on Derry. But he knows he must stay kicking his heels on the sidelines for at least another two months as he recovers from having ruptured his spleen in a recent match. (Corpus: sunnow/17. Text: N9119980426.)

 

Zola had fretted and kicked his heels on the bench for 70 long, laborious minutes before his great mate Gianluca Vialli gave him the call to arms. (Corpus: sunnow/17. Text: N9119980514.)

 

Beckham has gone at a stroke from what seemed to be star status in the team to kicking his heels as a reserve. (Corpus: sunnow/17. Text: N9119980622.)

 

 

knit one's brow(s) (concentration, worry)

The woman in Inversion, for instance, knits her brow and is worried about `going up" too far and too fast. (Corpus: times/10. Text: N2000960213.)

 

He remained silent, knitting his brows. He felt that he was so surrounded and involved in a mesh of falsity that it was hard to unravel anything. (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000001423.)

 

FPM 1433  "Not tonight, Father, I'm staying on to do some work. There's the question of the membership to be sorted out. We've too many men on our books and not enough work to go round. We're going to have to cut back." Marcus knitted his brows. "I sincerely hope it will not come to that.

 

FPM 2729 And now she's dead, and it's all my fault ... ."  Marcus knitted his brows. "What are you saying?

 

FRS 1763  Christina watched her go, a worried frown knitting her brows.

 

 

moisten one's lips  (uncertainty, nervousness)

G1W 2669 "What exactly were the stains by the way?" Dexter saw Lancaster moisten his lips before he spoke. "Coffee, Sergeant. Just coffee. I spilt some on the jacket."

 

H7W 503  Beneath her anger she was afraid. Something was happening between her and this man that she didn't understand. Her tongue flicked out to moisten her lips. "I don't think my private life is any of your business, Mr Bryce."

 

JY4 2391 His fingers came up and snapped once again and he didn't need to say any more. Ruth's tongue snaked out to moisten her lips. "But ... but we already know that nothing will happen. 2393 You said so yourself.

 

EFJ 1388 "Hepzibah's a good housekeeper, Samuel." Pink patches appeared on Auntie Lou's neck as she looked at her  brother. She moistened her lips and said pleadingly, "She's been good to poor Dilys."

 

H7W 0885 "I know what you want," he said in that soft deep voice that made her think of a silk-sheathed scalpel. She moistened lips suddenly and inexplicably dry.

 

 

nod one’s head (agreement, pleasure)

Hello Jean," he calls out a second later to a passing dinner lady.  <p> Hi William.  All right <p> William smiles broadly and nods his head.  (Corpus: today/11. Text: N6000920918.)

 

Ten years in jail in the tropics is death - I mean <f> death, <f> man - don't you under­stand?" <p> I understand," Gil said, nodding his head. (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000000492.)

 

There were no wild displays of delight when Athers reached three figures. He simply raised his bat, nodded his head, pumped gloves with Stewart and kissed the England badge on his helmet. Corpus: sunnow/17. Text: N9119980605.

 

besides that, the money Gregor brought home every month--he had kept only a few dollars for himself--had never been quite used up and now amounted to a small capital sum. Behind the door Gregor nodded his head eagerly, rejoiced at this evi­dence of unexpected thrift and foresight.  Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000001423. 

 

Mr Tolliver, contented with the first prize that he had won for his onions, nodded his head as if he had known it all along.  Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000026. 

 

 

open one's eyes wide  (surprise, fear)

Jean, my dear, do this for me. It can't do any harm and often helps. Healthy people often do it." He opened his eyes wide. What? Take communion? Why? It's unnecessary!  (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000001423.)

 

Perhaps we can come and see you?" <p> Of course," said Frido, bowing. His head spun. <p> Can we really?" Marcia opened her eyes wide. (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000072.)

 

Once he opened his eyes wide and looked at her with a frightened, accusing look, then at the boy, his head starting up off the pillow.  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000354.)

 

H8J 2957  Claudia opened her eyes wide, unable to believe she had heard him say "our wedding".

 

C85 460  A loaf? Stolen of course.  Rats always pilfer ... their nature. We could dispense some justice and hang him from the bowsprit to save the courts the trouble. Take it from him, Mr Lambert." Jess opened her eyes wide, hugging the loaf to her. "No," she muttered, spitting crumbs. "No!"

 

 

open one's hands (incomprehension, carelessness)

Like countless professionals who work with sex offenders, Mrs Kendall opens her hands in ignorance I don't always agree that offending is a cry for help," she says

Corpus: times/10. Text: N2000960316.

 

`Go. What keeps you here?" <p> She moved her shoulders, opened her hands, a gesture of helplessness. I don't have anyplace to go."

Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000000447.

 

The Colonel shrugged and opened his big hands. `One does what one can."

Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000132.

 

Signorina Elettra opened her hands in a gesture meant to show her own lack of responsibility.

Leon, Donna 2004.  Uniform Justice.  London: Arrow Books, p.200

 

pout (one's lips)[xvi] (annoyance; sexual interest (among women))

The 12-year-old daughter Judith is in her bedroom, pouting perhaps, because she had an argument with her father about practicing the piano.  (Corpus: npr/07. Text: S2000920921.)

 

Bob Hunter, one of the Party organizers, came rushing in to see Gil. When I told him that Gil was out his face fell and he pouted like a child.  (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000000492.)

 

Liz scowled exquisitely (or pouted with attitude if her sponsor Estee Lauder was involved)  (Corpus: today/11. Text: N6000950805.)

 

Do you know smoke makes me real horny?' He shook his head. `You gotta cut that out. I mean, I like you too, but I got a girlfriend.' Oh yeah." She pouted mockingly. `What a loyal little husband'ju are.'  (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000001192.)

 

HWA 660  While she spoke, Hannele undressed herself, unhurriedly. Edward undid his tie, but for the life of him he could not take his eyes off her. She stood to slip the dress down over her hips, and pouted at him in her petticoat.

 

 

purse one's lips  (disapproval, (deep) thought)

But more important than its grandeur is the security aspect. Ray Mill House is set in a valley, overlooked by at least two houses, and one security expert I spoke to pursed his lips at the problems it poses.   (Corpus: today/11. Text: N6000951026.)

 

`Maybe grave robbers did it. You know, for loot or for medical research." <p> Miss Grant pursed her lips, shook her head gently.  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000051.)

 

`It would be so like Spitt to try to economize in that way." <p> Economize?" <p> By burying two bodies in one coffin." She pursed her lips and shook her head in a disapproving fashion that would have done nothing for Stan's peace of mind.  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000051.)

 

Herr General. <f> I should say one thing. My fiancée is English." <p> <f> Eine Engländerin!" <p> <f> Yes. A good English family. She is studying in Vienna." <p> The Corps Commander pursed his lips. <p> This may be difficult, von Arzfeld. You realize this?" <p> Of course, <f> Herr General.  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000072.)

 

So how is he?" asked Jon, after they had placed their orders. <p> Mrs. Madrigal pursed her lips in thought. `A little restless, I suppose."  (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000000463.)

 

 

raise an eyebrow/one's eyebrows  (negative expectation or negative surprise[xvi])

a wonderful world renowned cellist, worked with me on this project to--to make sure that my improvisation was in the style of the time.  When I would get too modern, he would raise an eyebrow, then I would have to go back down to normal for me.  (Corpus: npr/07. Text: S2000930104.)

 

There are still people in the wine trade who raise an eyebrow if you put a bar code on the label," says Debbie Worton, marketing director of Majestic and Wine Warehouses (Corpus: today/11. Text: N6000920310.)

 

A musical about a sixteen-year-old boy who goes on the game is bound to raise an eyebrow.  (Corpus: ukmags/03. Text: N0000000072.)

 

I mouthed the name `Lewis Riss" at him. Geof raised his eyebrows, rolled his eyes, lifted his hands as if to ward off a blow, and generally gave a good impression of a cop who didn't want to talk to a reporter.  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000051.)

 

 

roll one's eyes (annoyance, boredom, exasperation)

She stood with her eyes shut, her hands drawing graceful in the air. One woman lawyer rolled her eyes and sighed, but her male colleagues seemed transfixed.  (Corpus: today/11. Text: N6000950323.)

 

Jurors in the Snoop Doggy Dog case were said to have rolled their eyes early in the trial when the police failed to produce important evidence such as the victim's clothes and a cartridge case.  (Corpus: times/10. Text: N2000960222.)

 

From now on, Rhodry lad, you lead." What?" Rhodry said. `I've never been here before, and you've been thrice. ` So? I'll act as guide, like. You're the leader." Otho moaned and rolled his eyes heavenward.  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000906.)

 

`I think you should consider the possibility of going back to see her next week." Sharon sighed and rolled her eyes. Trust the adults to stick together.  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000926.)

 

Weil-Curiel leans forward and rolls her eyes in exasperation (Corpus: ukmags/03. Text: N0000000662.)

 

 

rub one's hands  (pleasure, gleeful anticipation)

ASTON Villa boss Ron Atkinson last night rubbed his hands at the mouth watering prospect of proving that his former Captain Marvel is not yet Manager Marvel.  (Corpus: today/11. Text: N6000941007. )

 

Tory Central Office rubbed its hands when it read Blair's text. This, it said to itself, is proof at last that Blair is beginning to crack and Major's counterattack is working.   (Corpus: times/10. Text: N2000960203. )

 

His eyes lit up and his face glowed as he rubbed his hands in glee when given the chance to talk about Arsenal.   (Corpus: sunnow/17. Text: N9119980516. )

 

Election fever had been in the air for six months. Some though not all of the curial cardinals resident in Rome rubbed their hands as they mourned: now they could avenge the humiliation of the first session of the Council by blocking Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini, the obvious liberal" candidate.  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000001257. )

 

And when I mention that his 14-year-old son the Hon Hektor is a good-looking lad, the Earl rubs his hands with delight.  <p> Yup," he says gleefully.   (Corpus: today/11. Text: N6000920901.)

 

 

scowl (anger)

Amid idyllic surroundings of summer blooms, shrubbery and birdsong, Liz at one time put her hands on her hips and scowled furiously at Hugh.   Corpus: today/11. Text: N6000950701.  

 

Mr. Anders scowled at his wife. `You even told her about the devil worship, didn't you? I thought you had more sense than that!"  Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000926. 

 

But as he studied the faces pressing ever closer, he saw that they were scowling and jeering, and he leaned forward to lock the door.  Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000001151. 

 

He looked at Autumn, scowling angrily. `I don't like surprises, Autumn. I want to know what's in that head of yours before I walk into a meeting."  Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000115. 

 

What business have you there?" he demanded, scowling with unbelievable ferocity, an expression no doubt chosen to accord with the painted frown lines on his face. Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000001221.

 

 

scratch one's chin/beard      (deliberation)

Do you want a lift, Ralph?" <p> Brand scratched his chin as if considering the invitation.  No, I think I'll hang around for a bit.  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000034.)

 

Er - any other white rock band from the Whigs, John Curley? <p> The Whigs' bassist scratches his chin thoughtfully. <p> Well, there was The Prairie League, of course  (Corpus: ukmags/03. Text: N0000000812.)

 

HJD 2440 He paused and scratched his chin reflectively. "Only one thing still bugs me, though ... "

 

G3P 1598  The old man scratched his beard thoughtfully.

 

 

scratch one's head   (bewilderment; deep thought)        

You think they'll ever catch the killer?" Hard to say." He scratched his head. `Guess it depends on luck. Most of life does.  (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000001059.)

 

Photograph DRUNKEN pop star Liam Gallagher scratches his head as he tries in vain to remember the words of his new song.  (Corpus: today/11. Text: N6000951003.)

 

Dr Skinner scratches his head, as bemused as the rest of us by Fergie's antics. (Corpus: times/10. Text: N2000960328.)

 

Hasler is a driven trainer, one of the most ferocious workers in the game and such a pleasant and even character that coach Bob Fulton scratches his head to remember a time when `Dessie lost his temper.  (Corpus: oznews/01. Text: N5000950922.)

 

 

shake one's head  (rejection, amazement, sympathy)

Again and again and again, people from the far Left and the far Right are agreed that Palme Dutt was a great genius who made and used policy so brilliantly that Stalin himself would shake his head in wonder.   (Corpus: times/10. Text: N2000960405.)

 

Mrs. Halcyon continued, shaking her head somberly as she stared at the light dancing on the surface of the swimming pool. <p> Poor Catherine," she intoned softly. `Her family knew everything (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000000463.)

 

A0N 351 "What do these papers say?" "Who can tell? They are in English," Donald said contemptuously. Beside the Cross one of the men had torn a paper into little bits and scattered them, to a groaning catcall from the crowd. The other man shook his head, held up his paper, and shouted out, "Can anybody read this?"

 

A5Y 1291 PC. 1. Is this your car?

YOUTH. No, my dad owns it.

 [PC. 1.] pursed his lips and shook his head sympathetically.

                     

 

shrug (one's shoulders)[xvi] (indifference)

Police morale is low. Increasingly their response to crime is to shrug their shoulders.  Only 29 percent of crimes are solved.   (Corpus: npr/07. Text: S2000930310.)

 

the photo of your home in the estate agent's window is thick with dust.  <p> Only one couple has been to view and your agent says the market is slow.  <p> You could shrug and let things take their course. Or you could take control of your own move.   (Corpus: today/11. Text: N6000950222.)

 

Does she think young people rejected for jobs because, unlike her, they do not speak proper and have never been taught to speak proper, can just shrug their shoulders and say: `Never mind, Jean Aitchison says variety is the spice of linguistic life  (Corpus: times/10. Text: N2000960203.)

 

In the States we would refuse to pay those prices but here in the UK people just seem to shrug their shoulders and accept it. (Corpus: sunnow/17. Text: N9119980615.)

 

 

stamp (one's foot) (impatience, irritated determination)                        

This put one's grandson into a foul temper. `I want Will! I want Will!" he screamed, stamping his foot. `Why can't I have Will?"  (Corpus: today/11. Text: N6000950909.)

 

In moments of indignation she stamps her foot like an impatient governess.  (Corpus: times/10. Text: N2000960106.)

 

You act like a five-year-old. You expect me to hand you everything on a silver platter, and when you don't get it, you stamp your little foot and cry.  (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000001254.)

 

I would cry and he would stamp his foot and really carry on[:] Why won't they let me go back, why won't they let me go back (Corpus: oznews/01. Text: N5000950606.)

 

 

straighten one's back  (sudden determination)                                                          

I look like a fucking manatee, I thought. Booze. Must cut that out. I straightened my back, inflated my chest, shoulders relaxed, head erect. Better.  (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000001079.)

 

Then Peter came to her and said `I am now not asking you to marry me", and her life fell away. <p> It was the end of her innocence. <p> She straightened her back and carried on with her duties.  (Corpus: oznews/01. Text: N5000951022.)

 

H7F 370  Grout turned away, straightened his back and brought his head up, ignoring Ashton pointedly as he walked proudly away.

 

 

tap one's fingers  (impatience, idleness)                                              

We don't have all day," Ms. mcguire said, tapping her fingers on the desk impatiently.  (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000001399.)

 

Taking another breath, she sticks her head into the oven. She stands for several moments tapping her fingers furiously on top of the stove. She speaks from inside the oven <f> Oh, please. Please <f> After a few moments, she reaches for the box of matches with her head still in the oven.  (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000001423.)

 

APY 1250  Parking was not allowed at that kerb, but no one would stop him.  He sat tapping his fingers on the wheel, waiting for her.

 

 

tear one's hair (out) (desperation)                                                                            

But it is the angels hovering in the sky above who express the full anguish of the scene they have just witnessed: some weep into their hands; some cry out loud; some tear their hair out and others writhe and twist in torment.  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000001133.)

 

A YOUNG Asian boy has begun tearing out his hair after racial taunts by fellow pupils at a crisis-hit primary school.  (Corpus: sunnow/17. Text: N9119980403.)

 

They didn't foul, didn't dive in; they just chased and harried and frustrated until the home side and 120,000 fans were tearing their hair. And, when the chance came, they broke away and scored.  (Corpus: sunnow/17. Text: N9119980610.)

 

Tony Ballard, of Allison & Humphreys, which regularly advises the BBC, as well as many independent producers, says exasperated clients `look at the regulations and tear their hair and ask: `What on earth does this mean (Corpus: times/10. Text: N2000951128.)

 

 

throw up one's hands  (horror; hopelessness, defeat)

Oh, this is so unprofessional. I really should be ashamed, but ...  She threw up her hands in mock resignation, a somewhat stiff, self-conscious gesture.  (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000000418.)

 

Sabrina shrugged. `You could try your Prime Minister." <p> The Prime Minister?" Broodendyk replied in amazement then threw up his hands in defeat. Okay, I get the picture.  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000336.)

 

What's his current worth?" Whitlock asked. <p> Siobhan threw up her hands in desperation. It's impossible to say.  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000336.)

 

`I'm not that desperate," she assured him. `I can wait. But not too long." Okay, I'm warned." He threw up his hands in surrender. (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000926.)

 

Asked if she ever contemplated `hostessing" in Thailand she throws her hands up in horror.  (Corpus: sunnow/17. Text: N9119980512.)

 

toss one's head  (anger, annoyance, defiance)                                                           

Randall tossed his head like an impatient animal at his father's touch. (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000000538.)

 

Daisy, from the back of the room showed her disgust by rolling her eyes and tossing her kinky head of hair. (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000115.)

 

BMW 1726 Paula pursed her lips and tossed her head, looking annoyed.

 

G0N 971  Ursula tossed her head in irritation and bustled across to join her.

 

JXV 3234  She tossed her head defiantly, and just for a moment saw a flicker of something in his eyes before it was gone so fast that she knew she must have imagined it.

 

 

turn up one's nose (at)       (disapproval)                                            

YOU may turn up your nose at the thought of snipping 10p vouchers off boxes of washing powder and the like - but last year moneywise coupon clippers knocked £100 million off their collective shopping bill. (Corpus: today/11. Text: N6000920310.)

 

Bloodhound turns up his nose at new slippers.  A BLOODHOUND walked five miles to fetch his master's discarded old slippers from a dustbin, rather than bring him a new pair bought as a Christmas gift. (Corpus: times/10. Text: N2000960102.)

 

In Lesbia Magazine, the film critic Catherine Gonnard turned up her nose at the stereotypes, saying I've never known how to unclog a sink, I don't smoke, I hate wearing keys on my belt, children and married women make me run away  (Corpus: times/10. Text: N2000960217.)

 

It is very British to turn up one's nose at this very `American' desire to bear [sic] the soul, mainly because we love to wallow in our own low self esteem privately.  (Corpus: ukmags/03. Text: N0000000949.)

 

 

twiddle one's thumbs  (boredom, impatience)

Instead of leading Jordanstown to the Sigerson CupFinal, he was suspended and was forced to twiddle his thumbs from the sidelines.  (Corpus: sunnow/17. Text: N9119980612.)

 

They get nervous <F05> like twiddle their thumbs and things <F06>Yeah and bite their nails  (Corpus: ukspok/04. Text: S9000001238.)

 

They arrived at midnight on Sunday after twiddling their thumbs for seven hours in Calcutta airport.  (Corpus: times/10. Text: N2000960227.)

 

Basically, they've sat around and twiddled their thumbs. (Corpus: npr/07. Text: S2000910110.)

 

widen one's eyes /one's eyes widen (surprise, shock, horror)            

With no more engine power, but 50 kilogrammes less weight, it enhances the original concept and extends the chthonic Porsche idea into territory only vaguely imagined by teenage garage-freaks. It widens your eyes. (Corpus: ukmags/03. Text: N0000000493.)

 

Harriet's eyes widened in shocked surprise. `Well,I never!" (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000115.)

 

Lydia glanced down at what was left and her eyes widened in horror. `Um, no - " (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000001399.)

 

Pamela watched as Lenny read the article, then scribbled notes in his notebook. His hand froze, and his eyes widened slightly as he stared at the screen. Look at this," he breathed. (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000000909.)

 

 

wring one's hands  (desperation, sorrow)                                            

You wouldn't believe the model train my father built me, with all sorts of tunnels and levels, even a waterfall that the train ran under without getting wet. My sister used to wring her hands and run out of the room every time I switched it through there because she thought I was going to be electrocuted.  (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000001254.)

 

Singapore's ruling party is ready to hold snap polls but is desperately trying to find women candidates, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said in remarks published yesterday. <p> I wring my hands in desperation. <p> I cannot get women candidates (Corpus: oznews/01. Text: N5000951115.)

 

The sight of mps wringing their hands in sorrow while they piously pleaded that they could not make ends meet on almost £100,000 a year was, frankly, sickening.   (Corpus: today/11. Text: N6000920716.)

 

The blub culture has Harvey Porlock wringing his hands in despair.   (Corpus: times/10. Text: N2000951104.)

 

The hotel manager, interrupted in the middle of an early dinner, was wringing his hands, more concerned about the hotel's reputation than the dead woman.  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000034.)

 

 

wrinkle (up) one's brow  (concentration, puzzlement)

A-moon - as he's known in our house - can wrinkle up his brow, put on his serious face and ask deep, searching questions of two-bit celebrities (Corpus: today/11. Text: N6000940601.)

 

`Did you say the problem was solved?' It was the turn of the foreign editor to wrinkle his brow. `Sure. I mean, we know where she is. She hasn't disappeared.'  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000001117.)

 

FAP 3015 "The guy is too greedy. Remember what he said when we called the first time? Something about getting his money whether Vecchi was still there or not? Remember?" Connors wrinkled his brow. "Yeah. Yeah, he did say something like that."

 

FSM 718  "Harry, what is the matter?" She wrinkled her brow inquisitively, but couldn't manage to lose her slightly mocking smile, like a mother with a petulant child.

                     

                                                                                                            

wrinkle one's nose  (disapproval, disgust)                                                                 

he noticed the smell in the shed. He hadn't smelled it outside, but inside it was enough to make him wrinkle his nose and stifle a few thick coughs. (Corpus: usbooks/09. Text: B9000000909.)

 

mixed two drinks from a bottle of moonshine. She held the glass out to Autumn. `Betcha ain't got nothing like this in San Francisco." <p> Autumn took a sip and wrinkled her nose at its bite. `Raw."  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000115.)

 

As Juma was dumped on the floor, the nearest general, a podgy man with the wide face of an Uzbek, looked at him and wrinkled his nose: the suppurating wound stank.  (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000124.)

 

As if in answer to his unspoken question, one of them shouted `Guardians of the Socialist Revolution! The Militia of the Fatherland Front!" <p> He wrinkled his nose. Undisciplined, dirty, jeering, disorderly. That was no way for a true socialist to behave. (Corpus: ukbooks/08. Text: B0000000124.)

 

 












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