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Idiom: "swimming with sharks"



 
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Idiom: "swimming with sharks" #1 (permalink) Fri May 19, 2006 8:34 am   Idiom: "swimming with sharks"
 

English Language Tests, Intermediate level

ESL/EFL Test #201 "Idioms about Animals", question 3

Everyone told me I'd be ......... if I took that job on Wall Street.

(a) swimming like a jellyfish
(b) swimming with sharks
(c) swimming with fish

English Language Tests, Intermediate level

ESL/EFL Test #201 "Idioms about Animals", answer 3

Everyone told me I'd be swimming with sharks if I took that job on Wall Street.

Correct answer: (b) swimming with sharks
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Hi,
I think that i am correct, but i want to know the explanation

Matvej
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To swim with sharks #2 (permalink) Fri May 19, 2006 9:22 am   To swim with sharks
 

The idiom to swim with sharks means to take a huge risk.

In stock exchange* jargon, a shark is a crook or a swindler.

* The New York Stock Exchange is in Wall Street, Manhattan.
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Idiom: "swimming with sharks" #3 (permalink) Fri May 19, 2006 10:47 am   Idiom: "swimming with sharks"
 

Hi Matvej

In addition to what Conchita has said, a "shark" can also be a greedy or ruthless or treacherous person.

In the context of the sentence, I would tend to understand that "swimming with sharks" means "working with ruthless, back-stabbing people who will stop at nothing to achieve their own goals (profit)." In this sense, a shark doesn't care what he does to you or a company. He "attacks fiercely" in order to achieve his own goals. The "attack" could be perfectly legal, even though it might hurt a lot of other people.

So, I wouldn't automatically understand "swindler" here, although I'm sure there are plenty of swindlers on Wall Street, too. :lol:

Amy
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Shark #4 (permalink) Fri May 19, 2006 12:04 pm   Shark
 

Hi,

A common use of the word is a loan shark - someone who charges an enormous interest rate on money that is being loaned or lent.

Alan
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