Figurative expressions, also called “idioms,” have come into common usage in the English language, crop up regularly in reference to the word “book.” A phrase can even contain the actual meaning of “book” in some form.
Related: What’s in a Book?
But often, the word morphs into an entirely different thought than the original definition. Here are some familiar book terms and the popular meaning and spin, good or bad, that we take away them.
A. To “Book” a Reservation
Availability is key to receiving service from a particular business, be it a chosen restaurant, hotel, airline, vacation package, or business meeting venue. Once you make your request, a directed call or website will lock in the details and confirm the reservation.
B. My Life Is an “Open Book”
There is nothing to hide. Everything one has done and experienced, in the past and predictably in the future, is all out there for everyone to see.
C. To “Throw the Book” at Someone
This can be interpreted as a legal expression. It means that multiple, possible crimes are alleged to have been committed by someone and the opposing legal team is trying to make them all stick.
D. Doing Something “By the Book”
Step-by-step, following a procedure of what is perceived to be correct, including rules and guidelines, exactly as written.
A real bookworm is an insect that damages books. In the Harry Potter saga, the bookshop closes on one occasion due to an attack of bookworms, which is an ironic situation. The term, though, evolved into meaning a person who loves and cherishes books—a reader, a collector, or someone in the tradition of book enthusiasts.
Then again, someone can be called a “bookworm” because they “never come up for air” from reading, which is a negative connotation that moves away from the generally accepted positive description. Maybe the definition simply depends on your perspective.
F. “Hitting the Books”
Getting down to study a subject or subjects in a determined manner often used in connection to an academic pursuit.
A person who takes bets that people have placed on horseraces to win, place, or show, and other sporting events. Often, the connotations surrounding the term are negative, shaded by possible illegal actions (e.g. off-track betting in certain states or “throwing” a sporting event).
H: That’s “One for the Books”
A great story, possibly amusing or exaggerated, remarkable, record-setting, or unbelievable.
I: “Cooking the Books”
Illegal bookkeeping, usually changing the numbers somehow, within the financial records of a company.
A studious person, one who loves books, reading, and learning. Such a person has an intellectual take on any subject he or she approaches.
Literally, a decorative narrow piece of paper or a long thin metal stem that is used to save one’s place in a book while reading. The expression has also come to mean creating a link on a computer to a favorite website.
L: To “Use Every Trick in the Book”
Accomplish what one sets out to do, by any means possible, maybe going outside the boundaries of honesty to achieve goals. To just get it done.
M: “Book ‘em”
A well-worn expression in every cop show or legal drama. Used when filing charges against an alleged criminal and when taking someone to a jail cell.
N: “Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover”
Not a desirable thing to do; one should look beyond the obvious and see something deeper. Maybe something is not what it initially seems. Or someone is different from what their looks, job, demeanor, or first impression indicate. Dig deeper than appearances.
0: Always Having “One’s Head or Nose in a Book”
This is not, of course, physically desirable, but simply a description of a person who is at all times immersed in reading.
P. “Take a Page From (Someone’s Book)”
A person imitates or emulates another by performing this action literally or figuratively.
Q: “Book Smart”
A well-read, scholarly person who likely lacks street smarts and common sense.
R. “Off the Books”
Failure to record an everyday business transaction, usually intentional.
S. “In My Book”
To my way of thinking, or in my experience, that is what happened, or the way to make sense of something.
T. “Close the Book on It”
To conclude a subject or discussion, as we are doing per the word “book” usage right now; closure from cover to cover.