English Language Blog

Talking About Weight in English Posted by on Jul 8, 2021 in English Language, English Vocabulary

Photo by adriankh00 from Pixabay, CCO

It’s summer in the northern hemisphere and, for many, that means going to the beach. It also means fitting into a swimsuit. Which usually means that it’s time to lose some weight.

Personally, I am grateful that there has been a trend in recent years to be more accepting of the way you look. People are resisting body shaming, being critical of someone’s body size and shape. I welcome this because I don’t look like Brad Pitt or Daniel Craig. This does not mean that I am ashamed of my weight, but when I swim in the ocean I don’t want a shark to look at me and think, “That looks juicy!”

Weight, and its various synonyms, is a very common topic for idioms and slang phrases. In fact, far too many to cover in this one blog. But you should become familiar with as many of these as possible because it is impossible to be around native English speakers and not hear many of these.

First, you should remember that sometimes a word has many meanings. Heavy, for example, doesn’t always mean great weight. It can also mean profound, thoughtful, and serious. Weight may mean poundage, but it can also mean psychological and/or stressful pressure and burden. It can even be a transitive verb meaning to oppress. Each of these idioms uses one of these definitions.

  1. To speak with a heavy heart – with sadness. “Today, it is with a heavy heart that I announce the death of my beloved mother.”
  2. A weight off one’s mind – relief of not having to worry about a problem, or not having to face a problem alone. “Once I finally asked my supervisor for help it really took a weight off my mind.”
  3. To pull your own weight – to do your own equal share of responsibility. “She deserves a raise because she’s never been afraid to pull her own weight on any project.”
  4. Carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders – having too many troubles and responsibilities, or think that you do. “You need to take a vacation. You look like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.”
  5. He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother – caring for someone less fortunate because that person is a fellow human being. “Giving the homeless a few of my extra dollars is no big deal. After all, he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”
  6. Throw one’s weight around – to exercise authority and power over someone with less influence. “I had to finally complain to Human resources about my boss. He was always throwing his weight around and intimidating everyone!”
  7. Play the heavy – to be unpleasant, strict, or forceful when necessary. “I hate to play the heavy, but we really need to end our break and get back to work.”
  8. Heavy-duty – durable and strong, usually over a long time. “Those tires that came with my car were really heavy duty. I got almost 90,000 miles on them.”
  9. Heavy lifting – hard, strenuous work. “He’s a valuable teammate, always willing to share with the heavy lifting.”
  10. Worth your/its weight in gold – very valuable and/or useful. “A dependable automobile is worth its weight in gold!”
  11. Heavy-handed – blunt, tactless. “The movie’s message was so obvious and heavy-handed.”
  12. Heavy hitter – a successful and important person. “In order to stress the importance of this client, the corporate office sent us a real heavy hitter to give us a lecture on teamwork.”
  13. Weighing all options – thinking carefully about all possibilities and choices. “Before I change jobs, I need to weigh all my options.”
  14. Lend weight to something – to make an opinion or belief more plausible. “The expert testimony of the engineers and pilots added weight to the belief in UFOs.”
  15. Heavy going– to be difficult and arduous. “Once I saw all the footnotes, I knew that this book would be heavy going.”

If you have any other examples of using weight or heavy in any idiom, please add them to the comments box below.

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About the Author: Gary Locke

Gary is a semi-professional hyphenate.