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Idiom: not have a leg to stand on



 
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Idiom: not have a leg to stand on #1 (permalink) Mon Nov 20, 2006 11:32 am   Idiom: not have a leg to stand on
 

Business Idiom in English, Intermediate level

ESL/EFL Test #138 "Ways of disagreeing", question 10

You might as well admit it! You haven't a ......... to stand on.

(a) foot
(b) arm
(c) hand
(d) leg

Business Idiom in English, Intermediate level

ESL/EFL Test #138 "Ways of disagreeing", answer 10

You might as well admit it! You haven't a leg to stand on.

Correct answer: (d) leg

Your answer was: incorrect
You might as well admit it! You haven't a foot to stand on.
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please explain me why it's foot and not leg here.

thanks in advance
Toma
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Not have a leg to stand on #2 (permalink) Mon Nov 20, 2006 12:06 pm   Not have a leg to stand on
 

The standard idiom is: not have a leg to stand on, meaning 'to have no chance of success', 'to have no justification'.
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Idiom: not have a leg to stand on #3 (permalink) Thu Sep 18, 2008 10:24 am   Idiom: not have a leg to stand on
 

Could you please explain why only LEG is correct word, that is, why it is wrong to say ''have no foot'' as a synonim. If "to have no leg" means ''to have no chance of success'', ''to have no justification'', the word "leg" should be uderstood, then, as a reason. But "foot" can act as a reason, too.
I uderstand this is an idiom. I just do not FEEL the difference between LEG and FOOT, which causes the right form of the idiom.
Thank you in advance.
Lenakul
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Idiom: not have a leg to stand on #4 (permalink) Thu Sep 18, 2008 13:55 pm   Idiom: not have a leg to stand on
 

Hi,

The common expression is usually' not have a leg to stand on'. It's idiomatic and therefore can't usually be defined logically.

Alan
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Idiom: not have a leg to stand on #5 (permalink) Thu Sep 18, 2008 14:30 pm   Idiom: not have a leg to stand on
 

Hi Alan,
Thanks for your reply. I incline to conclusion that only native speaker can really feel the difference at once. This is kind of habit, I suppose.
Lenakul
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Idiom: not have a leg to stand on #6 (permalink) Thu Sep 18, 2008 15:02 pm   Idiom: not have a leg to stand on
 

Hello Lena,

As Alan said, it's really difficult to explain idioms, you just have to accept them.

The only possible clarification I could add, is that since the idea is a lack of support, or something missing, i.e. that you can't stand, or your argument can't stand up.

In a literal sense, if you were missing your leg, it would be harder to stand upright, than if you're just missing your foot! So, that sense of being more difficult transfers over to the idea of an argument, excuse, reason, or whatever not standing up (to be successful, or pass close observation). It will soon fall down or collapse. Just like you if you're missing your entire leg, whereas if you're just missing a foot, you may have trouble walking, but you're probably not going to fall over.

Think of all the old pirates with a wooden leg. They didn't have a foot, but they could still stand upright and move around. However, when the hero chops off their wooden leg, they fall over.
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Idiom: not have a leg to stand on #7 (permalink) Thu Sep 18, 2008 15:39 pm   Idiom: not have a leg to stand on
 

Hello Skrej,

Thank you so much. Now I clearly uderstand. That is very important for me because I am very interested in words' and phrases' logic. I am convinced there is no knowledge withiut feeleng of language. Exploring idioms seems to be one of the most helpful ways of making language sense acuter.
Your reply cheered me up, too, because I knew there MUST be some logic.
By the way, the image of old pirate was very apt. Thank you!
Lenakul
I'm new here and I like it ;-)


Joined: 18 Sep 2008
Posts: 10
Location: Russia

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