Catch Word #120 – Try not to step on anyone’s toes

Most people don’t like to be bothered or to disturb other people, but sometimes we do it anyway. In this episode, we look at expressions describing when someone is disturbed by another person. It could be something said or done that upsets this person, and it could be intentional or unintentional. We don’t want to ruffle any feathers with this episode, but these are good expressions to know.

Expressions included in the learning materialsupset

  • To rattle someone’s cage
  • To snap
  • To be up to someone
  • To start from square one
  • Constructive criticism
  • To be off base
  • To ruffle someone’s feathers
  • To step on someone’s toes
  • To get over something
  • Touchy
  • To stand out

Sample transcript:

Harp: Let’s get started. Today we’re going to talk about expressions that deal with annoying someone or bothering someone.

Maura: Right. So our expressions today are used to talk about when one person annoys or bothers or upsets another person.

Harp: Exactly.

Maura: OK. The first expression today is to rattle someone’s cage.

Harp: To rattle someone’s cage.

Maura: Right. To rattle someone’s cage. And this means that you bother another person. This could be intentional, which means you might purposefully want to bother that other person, but it could also be unintentional, or an accident.

Harp: Yeah. It really depends on the situation.

Maura: So, if you imagine an animal that is in a cage, so they have bars around them, they’re trapped inside. If you come around and start shaking the cage and banging on it, that bothers the animal inside. They don’t like the noise and they don’t like to feel disturbed.

Harp: Exactly. If you think about a little bunny or a hamster in the cage and you shake the cage, you’re gonna bother the animal.

Maura: Right. It makes noise and it moves around. It’s the same idea, except this time you’re bothering a person. So, in other words, you’re rattling someone’s cage.

Harp: Yes.

Maura: OK. So, let’s give a first example with to rattle someone’s cage.

Maura: So, how’s Brenda doing?

Harp: Well, I saw her last night and she was complaining about her boyfriend, again.

Maura: Oh no.

Harp: Yeah, she’s always complaining about him. So yesterday I just snapped and I told her to stop complaining about him or to get rid of him. It really seemed to have rattled her cage.

Maura: Yeah, well, she probably needed to hear that because it’s really up to her to make a change if she’s not happy with her boyfriend.

Harp: Yeah, I’m sick of hearing her complain.

Maura: So, there is an example where a person’s cage was rattled, which means they got upset or were annoyed or bothered by something someone else did.

Harp: Yes. And in this example, Brenda was bothered because her friend finally told her, “Stop complaining or do something.”

Maura: And in this case, the friend who told Brenda to stop complaining and do something about it probably wanted Brenda to get upset and to realize that she had to do something about it herself.

Podcast/Learning Materials: Culips English Podcast