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Gobble Up These 12 Thanksgiving Idioms with Your ESL Students!

Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November. This year, it will fall on November 23rd. It originated as a harvest festival, where early Americans came together to give thanks for a successful harvest. Over time, Thanksgiving has evolved into a holiday for people to express gratitude for the blessings in their lives. It is often associated with a large feast, including turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, shared with family and friends. 

As we approach Thanksgiving in the U.S, feel free to share about this holiday in your ESL classes and discuss traditional holidays celebrated in your students’ respective countries. In the spirit of celebrating Thanksgiving, here are 12 idioms you can teach your ESL students to add a holiday twist in your classroom!  

1) Cold turkey.

Meaning: The abrupt and complete stop of a habit, particularly referring to destructive habits of substance abuse and addiction. 

Example: It’s more effective to quit smoking cold turkey than by gradually cutting down.

2) To be stuffed.

Meaning: To have eaten too much. 

Example: That pizza was delicious, but I am absolutely stuffed! 

3) Gobble up.

Meaning: To eat something quickly and eagerly, often in a noisy manner.

Example: He gobbled up that apple pie. It was the best he ever had.  

4) As easy as pie.

Meaning: Very easy and straightforward.

Example: This assignment is as easy as pie. I’ll have it done in thirty minutes.   

5) Eat like a bird.

Meaning: To eat very little.

Example: She eats like a bird but somehow manages to maintain her weight.  

6) Stuff your face. 

Meaning: Eat greedily. 

Example: During the Thanksgiving holidays, people are stuffing their faces with good food and drink.  

7) The gravy train.

Meaning: Making a lot of money with minimal effort, sometimes in a questionable manner. 

Example: After signing a lucrative contract, the small company found itself on the gravy train.   

8) Count your blessings.

Meaning: To be grateful for what one has. 

Example: When you realize many people are in worse situations than you, you should count your blessings.  

9) Stuffed shirt.

Meaning: A conceited, overly self-important person who is often seen as boring or conservative.

Example: I want this party to be for fun people, not stuffed shirts.   

10) Talk turkey.

Meaning: To say something frankly and directly, not wasting time on small talk. 

Example: Let’s talk turkey. How can we come to an agreement?  

11) Blessing in disguise.

Meaning: An apparent misfortune that turns out to have positive consequences. 

Example: Getting fired from that job was a blessing in disguise. I’m much happier now in my new job.   

12) Fall is in the air.

Meaning: A sense that the autumn season is here, with notable changes like leaves changing color, dropping temperatures, falling leaves and a crispness in the air. 

Example: I love the smell of pumpkin spice lattes and the sound of crunching leaves. Fall is in the air!   

We hope you enjoyed these Thanksgiving idioms! Do you know any other idioms or expressions related to this holiday? Share them in the comments below! 

Ellier Leng
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