Music is a fantastic way to become fluent in the rhythm and flow of language, especially those songs with good grammar or interesting idiomatic usage of language.
Which leads me to a new song on the radio by Julia Brennan called “Inner Demons.”
It’s a song for today’s stress and difficulty in life and I found the music to be lovely and Brennan’s voice haunting. Understanding this song does require a bit of idiomatic English knowledge as the lyrics use a clever play on words with the idiom inner demon, meaning an internal struggle within yourself usually fought alone. Here in her song, she is struggling with metaphorical Demons and hopes the Angels fight them to help her overcome her problems.
Here’s a brief excerpt of the song
“Cause Inner demons fight their battles with fire.
Inner demons don’t play by the rules.
They say just push them down, just fight them harder.
Why would you give up on it so soon?
So angels, angels please just keep on fighting.
Angels don’t give up on me today.
The demons they are there; they keep on fighting.
Cause inner demons just wont go away.”
After singing the song for several days around the house, I thought it would make an interesting vocabulary blog entry. So I looked up some idiomatic phrases in use today about demons (also called devils). Also, since we don’t want to focus solely on the hellish aspect of the language, I’ll cover some heavenly idioms about angels as well.
This is a person who drives really quickly, and even recklessly. It has a slight negative connotation.
For example: Have you ever ridden the Sam? He’s a real speed demon! It makes me nervous!
Face Your Demons
This phrase means to deal with or acknowledge problems or difficulties in your life in order to overcome them. It can be used in an advisory context.
For example: to be a successful public speaker, you really have to face your demons and get over your insecurities.
Speak of the Devil
This is a phrase often said when a person appears who has just been talked about.
For example: if you and I were discussing Mr. C and how he was fixing the dryer this morning and then he walked in the room, I might say, “Well speak of the devil. Look who’s here. It’s Mr. C.”
The Devil Is in the Details
This is one of my personal favorite idioms! This phrase means that the details or minutia of something is often the most difficult or problematic to overcome.
For example: In finishing up my new book, I feel like the editing will never end! But the devil’s in the details, so I keep working at it!
Enough to Make the Angels Weep
This phrase can be used to describe a particularly horrific situation, one that’s almost too bad for words.
For example: the devastation to the Syrian civilian population in Aleppo was enough to make the angels weep.
A guardian angel can be a protecting spirit to watch over a person or a place; it’s often used to describe a person who watches over someone.
For example: When I was a struggling student, my grandparents were my guardian angels. They gave me a place to stay and helped me start over in California.
Fools Rush in Where Angels Fear to Tread.
This phrase means foolish people often don’t hesitate to commit actions that wise people would avoid. Saying this about somebody is not a compliment as it has a negative connotation.
For example: I can’t believe Susie is taking 24 units and working part-time. Oh well, fools rush in where angels fear to tread, don’t they?
On the Side of Angels
This phrase means that the person or action is the right or moral thing since it is associated with the deity or an angel. This has a positive connotation.
For example: did you see the Coffee Shop is giving coats away to homeless people? They sure are on the side of angels.
Yes, idioms can be frustrating and confusing and hellish to understand; nonetheless little by little, bit by bit, word by word, mastering English is doable! And it can even be fun! Remember, the devil is in the details!