7 New Idioms! ⛵️⛵️⛵️ Professional English | Vocabulary

Lesson Overview

In this lesson, I’ll share some fantastic idioms that are all about… sailing! ⛵️⛵️⛵️

But of course, they are IDIOMS…

So, just because the words ‘sail’ or ‘sailing’ or ‘ship’ or ‘boat’ appear, doesn’t mean you have to be on the water to use them!!

They are commonly used in everyday situations, that have nothing to do with sailing or boating at all! Many of these idioms are used in professional contexts, or even when talking casually about work.

The English idioms in this lesson are:

These essential English idioms will help you to understand more conversations AND help you sound natural and confident when speaking English.

Video Transcript
Section 1
Hello I’m Emma from mmmEnglish! Idioms are a very common part of the English language and I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that they’re challenging to learn and use. And that’s because the meaning of the whole idiom is often different to the individual meaning of each word in it.

  • But that’s no reason to jump ship!

In this lesson, I’m going to share some fantastic idioms that are all about sailing and of course, they’re idioms. So just because the word sail or sailing or ship or boat appear in them, doesn’t mean that you have to be on the water while using them.

They’re all commonly used in every day situations that have got nothing to do with sailing or boating at all! In fact, many of the idioms that I’ll be sharing in this lesson are frequently used when talking about work or colleagues, often in professional context or even if you’re talking casually about work. So let’s dive in!

(to) get (someone) on board / (to) be on board

Starting with to get someone on board or to be on board. Now usually, the term “on board” is used when you’re travelling on a ship or on a plane. When you’re on board, you’re on the ship or you’re on the plane.

But this concept is also used to say that someone agrees with an idea, an opinion or a plan to get something done. It’s to get approval or support for something.

  • It’s a great idea, but you need to get Simon on board if you want to make it happen!

It’s often used in business contexts but it can be used informally when you’re trying to convince a friend to do something.

  • We’re thinking about hiring a car for the weekend and driving down the coast, are you on board?

That means do you agree with this or do you want to be involved?

(to) jump ship

Now, traditionally this expression was used on a boat when a sailor left a ship without permission. But these days this idiom is often used when someone leaves a difficult situation when really they should stay and deal with it.

It can also be used when a person deserts someone or a group of people leaving them to deal with a problem.

  • If I got offered the same job but with a higher salary, of course I’d jump ship!

So I’d leave my current job and work for a company that paid me more! Of course I would!

  • I think that you should jump ship now before the funding cuts are made!

In this context, the speaker is considering leaving the company that they work for and looking for another job.

  • We need to offer our employees a competitive salary otherwise they’ll jump ship and they’ll be working for our competitors!

Smooth sailing

Now this phrase is used as an adjective to say that something is easy or manageable. Progress is being made, everything is happening according to plan.

  • We had some problems early on, but it’s been smooth sailing since we hired a project manager!
  • Great work everyone! But, it’s not smooth sailing yet, we’ve still got two truckloads to unload before 9 o’clock

That ship has sailed

Now this idiom is used when an opportunity has been missed and it’s too late to change the situation. Imagine that you bought tickets on an amazing cruise, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and as you arrived at the port, to get on the ship, you see it sailing off into the sunset. You’ve missed it and there is no chance that you’re getting on that boat now.

  • That ship has sailed.

And this context can be used or applied to any situation where an opportunity is missed. More often than not, the words ‘ship’ and ‘has’ are contracted together so it sounds like that ship sailed.

  • It’s disappointing, but we just need to accept that ship sailed and move on.
  • Since your ex-girlfriend has just got engaged, it’s safe to say that ship sailed!

A sinking ship

That’s not a good thing, a sinking ship! Jump off before you go down with it! A sinking ship is a company or an organisation that is failing. The future is not looking good, it’s doomed.

  • As he left the management meeting, he realised he was on board a sinking ship. 

The company was in trouble and there were serious problems that could affect the company’s operation. So it’s a sinking ship.

  • It sounds like you’re on a sinking ship, I’d start looking for a new job if I was you.

(to) run a tight ship

This idiom is used to describe the way that a company or a team is run, managed by someone with very strict but very effective rules. A person who runs a tight ship doesn’t allow mistakes to be made.

  • Our boss runs a tight ship and she expects everyone to work very hard.
  • Now that Sue’s left, it’s become really obvious that she ran a tight ship. It’s been absolute chaos without her!

Enough to sink a ship

And lastly, enough to sink a ship. Can you imagine how much weight it takes to sink a ship? A lot! So this idiom is used when you have more than the amount that you need.

  • At our family gatherings, there’s always enough food to sink a ship! A lot – way more than we ever need.
  • Look at all that luggage… That’s enough to sink a ship!

Well, who would have thought that there were so many useful idioms about sailing? And I want to know, are any of these idioms similar to ones that you use in your own language? Because often there are similarities and that can make them a little easier to remember.

Of course, if you enjoyed this lesson, well, make sure you subscribe to my channel! You can do that right here. I make new English lessons, every week. In fact, you can check out some of my other ones right here.

So, thanks for watching and I will see you next week. Bye for now!

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