ENGLISCH/881: Questions to Mrs Gobbledygook (179) kicking and screaming (SB)


179 Kicking and screaming

Dear Mrs Gobbledygook

I enjoy listening to BBC radio programs very much, although I actually only get BBC via internet here in Vienna. I think it does help me to improve my everyday's English vocabulary. If a strange word occurs, I usually consult a bilingual dictionary, but every now and then I write down an expression or idiom I just cannot translate.

So the following expression which was said by one of Hollywood's most famous actresses, Meryl Streep in an interview:

"My husband was ecstatic there ... I had to drag him away, kicking and screaming..."

Now this just doesn't make any sense to me. Please help.

Yours sincerely

Paula J. (Vienna, Austria)


Dear Ms J.,

Now this is easy to explain. In this interview, the actress was talking about her decision to move away from Los Angeles. Meryl Streep used a quite popular and fairly often used expression to describe her husband's unwillingness to leave the city.

"My husband was ecstatic there ... I had to drag him away, kicking and screaming..."

To drag someone is to pull that person with force. If you drag someone away, "kicking and screaming", you are forcing that persons to move in the face of his or her strong resistance.

Note that "kicking and screaming" refers to the person being dragged, not the person actually doing the dragging.

Anyway "kicking and screaming" is meant in a figurative sense, it is in fact a very childish thing for an adult to do. Only very young and ill-bred children would behave like that, if you drag them away from a favourite occupation.

Hoping that this is enough background information to solve your language problem and do write again whenever you feel like it.


Miranda Gobbledygook

21 December 2009