After an argument, my friend told me, “You are all bark and no bite.”
I instantly pulled his hand, bit him and said, “I do not just bark. I bite too.”
“You fool, don’t you understand idioms? I meant you are aggressive but do not have the guts to fight,” he shouted.
“Oh, really?” I clenched my fist.
He took to his heels yelling, “You will hit me and escape punishment under insanity clause.”
Using idioms with someone who does not know much English can indeed make one look like an idiot.
I often remember how a government servant who refused to help my dad reacted angrily when my dad murmured, “Beggars can't be choosers.”
“Do not dare call me a beggar,” he had reacted.
Journalists also find it hard to convince some readers when using “pun” in headlines that make a joke exploiting different meanings of a word.
My sub-editor colleague gave a good headline, “Maid for each other,” for a report on housemaids and their bosses. Next morning, there was a phone call from a reader, “There is a spelling error.”
Heard this media joke: When a dwarf escapes from prison, what headline will suit?
“Short man at large.”