10 English Idioms from Health & Medicine

Hi. Welcome to engVid. I’m Adam. In today’s video, I’m going to give you a
few idioms from the health and medicine world. Now, of course, you know idioms are collection
of words that may or may not mean exactly what the words suggest. So, these idioms can be literal, means…
meaning they mean what they say, or they can mean something completely different. So, let’s look at a few of these. “To give someone or to give something a black
eye”. Now, if you punch somebody right in the face…
right in the eye, it will get all black and maybe close a little bit. We call this “a black eye”. It’s like a big bruise. This is a good word to know. A “bruise” is, like, when something goes black;
or if you go hit here and it gets all blue and black – that’s a bruise. So, that’s a black eye. But “to give someone a black eye” can also
mean to hurt someone’s reputation. Okay? Or a thing, like a company or a network. So, for example, a reporter misrepresented
a certain story, and it turned out that this story was false, and so he… this reporter
gave the network or gave the news channel a black eye, which means that their reputation
is a little bit questionable; now people maybe don’t trust this news network anymore. It could happen with a company, a government
office, anything. If you do it to a person, you give someone
a black eye means you hurt his or her reputation. Good. “A bitter pill to swallow”. So, a pill is like a little thing… when
you’re sick, you take a pill, you swallow it and it’s… it usually doesn’t taste good. If you don’t take it with water and drink
it quickly, it’s very bitter. But we also use this idiom to mean that something
is very difficult to accept. Okay? So, let’s say I run a big company and I have
to… it’s a family company and I have a lot of staff, and I like all my staff and they
like me, but the company is not doing very well financially, so I have to lay off; I
have to fire a bunch of people, and that is a very bitter pill to swallow. I don’t want to do it, but I have to. And they don’t want to have to go, but they
have to. Right? So it’s a bitter pill to swallow. A more common example… let me give you another
one: I work as an editor and sometimes people bring me their writing, and some people are
just not very good writers, and so I have to tell them they’re not very good writers,
and that’s a very bitter pill for them to swallow; they have a very difficult time accepting
it. Okay? That’s one example. “Break out in a cold sweat”. So, when you have a fever; when your temperature
is too high inside, you’re sweating – it means water is coming out of you, but you’re cold
at the same time. So, that’s a “cold sweat”. But we also use this idiom when we’re afraid
of something or we’re very nervous about something. So, I was walking with my girlfriend down
the street, and then I saw my other girlfriend coming the other direction. And suddenly I broke out in a cold sweat. And my girlfriend said: “What’s wrong?” and
I said: “Nothing.” But she could see that it’s a cold sweat – it
means I’m afraid of something, and then she figured out what happened and I got into trouble. Just example. Okay? “A taste” or “a dose of one’s own medicine”. So, the more common one is “taste”, but sometimes
you’ll hear “dose”. A “dose” is basically a portion, but we use
it for a sickness. So: “a taste of one’s own medicine”… when
you take medicine, you take a dosage. This is the other way you might see it. The amount that you have to take of the medicine. But as an idiom, what we talk about is when
you do something, and it’s usually something negative, to somebody or to other people,
and then suddenly that same thing is done to you – then that means you’re getting a
taste of your own medicine. So, if I say some bad things about this person,
and I spread it around and I tell everybody: “Oh, yeah, this person did this or that”,
and everybody thinks: “Okay, whatever.” And then somebody says it about me – everybody
understands that I got a dose of my own medicine. I shouldn’t be talking about other people,
because I don’t like it when it happens to me; when somebody says something about me. If you do something bad to other people, keep
in mind it may happen to you, and you’ll have a taste of your own medicine and it doesn’t
taste good. Okay. “To rub salt in someone’s wound”. So, first of all a “wound”. What is a “wound”? If you cut yourself, and your skin opens and
you’re bleeding, that is a wound. Now, if you take salt, and you put salt and
rub it in that wound, it’s very, very painful. Okay? “To rub salt in someone’s wound” means to…
if somebody’s in a bad situation, if somebody’s hurt somehow, and you make it worse. So, for example, my friend Bill just got fired
from his job, so he’s really depressed and he’s really upset about it. And then his wife came to him and said she’s
cheating on him with somebody and she wants a divorce. So, she already knows he’s in a bad situation,
and she comes and rubs salt on it; she makes it even worse, and tells him he’s worthless
and that’s why she’s leaving him because he can’t keep his job. Okay? She’s making it worse; she’s rubbing salt
in his wound. Okay? Not very nice, but it does happen. We’re going to look at a few more. Okay, we have a few more to go through. And, again, they’re all from health, so I’ll
go through each one. “Just what the doctor ordered”. So, when something good arrives, we say: “It’s
just what the doctor ordered.” It’s just what is needed at that particular
time. Now, in the hospital… if you have someone
in the hospital and you go to them, and you say: “Oh, here’s your medicine”, and the person
says: -“What’s this?” -“Oh, it’s what the doctor ordered. This is what the doctor wants you to have.” But in everyday life outside, if something
good comes just when you need it, you say: “Oh, just what the doctor ordered.” So, for example, I’m at work and I’m working
hard, and I haven’t had time to go for lunch, and my co-worker brings me a sandwich. And I go: “Oh, thank you. This is just what the doctor ordered.” Just what I needed right now. Okay? Or anything that’s good that comes at the
right time, we say this expression. Now, these two I put together. They kind of go together; you can use them
interchangeably. “To get something out of your system” or “to
scratch an itch”. Now, “to get something out of your system”. When you’re sick and you have, like, a virus
or something going on, maybe you drink a lot of water and you hope to flush whatever the
problem is outside of your system; outside of your body. Okay? “To get something out of your system” can
also mean to get it out of your head. You have an urge or you have a desire, or
you really want to do something, and you’re always thinking about it, thinking about it,
thinking about it. So, finally, the only way to get it out of
your system, to get it out of your head is to do it or to figure out a way to not think
about it anymore. It’s very similar to “scratch an itch”. So, first of all, if you think about an itch,
this is a feeling you have on your body somewhere on your skin, and it’s really annoying, and
the only way to get rid of it is to scratch. So, the action: “scratch”; the “itch” is the
feeling. “My arm itches” means it has that feeling,
and I will scratch that feeling. Same idea as before. You really, really want to do something, you
just can’t get it out of your head, and the only way to get it out is to just scratch
that itch. That itch is that particular thing that is…
basically, it’s itching your brain, and you can’t scratch your brain so you have to do
the thing to get it out of your system. So, I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you’re on a diet and you’re not
supposed to have any sugar. Then you’re walking along and you pass by
a bakery, and you see a beautiful donut in the window. It’s chocolate with a little bit of sugar,
and maybe stuffed inside with some custard cream. And you say: “You know what? I can’t. I can’t”, so you walk away. But then the rest of the day: “Donut. Donut. Donut. Donut”, that’s all you’re thinking about is
that donut. And you’re… it’s starting to make you a
little bit crazy. And all your friends, all you talk to them
about is: “Donuts. Donuts. Donuts”. So, finally your friend says: “You know what? Just scratch that itch. Eat that donut, get it out of your system,
and then go on with your diet. Have a cheat day.” Okay? So: “scratch that itch”, eat the donut – get
it out of your system; stop thinking about it. And I put these two together as well. “To black out” means to lose consciousness. Now, you could faint and black out that way;
or for some reason, like, maybe you’re in a very scary situation or a very stressful
situation and you black out. It means inside your head it’s all black;
you don’t remember anything, you don’t think anything, nothing happens. “Out cold” is a very physical situation where
you’re unconscious. So, if a brick… you’re walking by a construction
site and a brick from the building falls on your head, and you’re on the ground out cold;
not conscious, not aware of anything. So, technically, they’re more or less the
same, except to black out you don’t necessarily need to pass out; you can just black out and
still be sitting or standing, and not know what’s going on. Okay? Very common situation, unfortunately. So, I hope you understood all of these; I
hope they were pretty clear. If you go to www.engvid.com, and there’s a
quiz there you can practice these idioms to make sure you understand how to use them. You can also any questions you may have in
the forum, there. Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel, and
come back… come back soon and we’ll have some more great videos for you. Bye-bye.


  1. Is it allowed to use idioms and proverbs in IELTS writing???
    I had attended a training camp by British Council 2 years ago , they told us not to use these in Academic and General writing.

  2. Idioms mentioned in video:-
    1. Give someone/something a black eye.
    2. A bitter pill to swallow.
    3. Break out in a cold sweat.
    4. A taste/dose of one's medicine.
    5. Rub salt in someone's wound.
    6. Just what the doctor ordered.
    7. Get something out of one's system.
    8. To scratch an itch.
    9. Out cold.
    Here are some bonus Idioms as well:-😀
    1. A sore point/spot.
    2. Sugar the pills.
    3. Have itchy feet.

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