Idiom: ring off the hook

English Idioms and Expressions, Intermediate level

ESL/EFL Test #18 [color=blue]“Common English Idioms”, question 9

Ever since Melanie won the Miss Universe Competition, her telephone has been ringing off the hook.

(a) broken
(b) cut off
© ringing constantly
(d) ringing every now and then

English Idioms and Expressions, Intermediate level

ESL/EFL Test #18 [color=blue]“Common English Idioms”, answer 9

Ever since Melanie won the Miss Universe Competition, her telephone has been ringing constantly.

Correct answer: © ringing constantly

Your answer was: [color=green]correct
[size=200]_________________________[/size]

What’s the picture of this idiom? Is that because the phone never stops ringing, the receiver cannot be hung up?

haihao

No, it does not mean that the receiver cannot be hung up.

“ringing constantly” is an exaggeration; sometimes the phone doesn’t ring but it does ring very often because many many people want to talk to Melanie.

There is nothing wrong with the phone and the receiver can be hung up anytime, but after a while the phone will ring again.

I see. But it is because the receiver can only stay where it belongs for only a very short time that it is virtually unable to be hung up (a virtual state of constant off the hook)… Just curious…

By the way, do you like Melanie, too? She is the strongest, I think, much stronger than Scarllet… Just out of curiosity.

Grateful haihao

Grateful :slight_smile:
Why do you keep saying that the receiver “(is unable to)(cannot) be hung up”? There is nothing stopping the phone from being hung up but it won’t stay hung up for long. (Of course if you stop answering the phone or if there is no one home, the receiver will stay hung up.)

Who are Melanie and Scarlet?

Two ladies from Gone With the Wind, I suspect. :wink:

Hi Haihao

Yes, I think your picture of the idiom is pretty good. There are so many phone calls coming in that the receiver is constantly in use and therefore constantly ‘off the hook’.

I like both Melanie and Scarlet – but for different reasons. They’re both interesting characters. Melanie had a very quiet, subtle strength, didn’t she?

Amy

Hi,

Just to add another expression with the same idea - to be rushed off your feet. That means you are so busy that you almost don’t walk on the ground.

A

Funnily enough, to me, this idiom suggests that the ringing is so fierce or intense that the vibrations almost literally unhook the receiver, as would happen in a cartoon!

As to the Gone With the Wind heroines, there are too many Scarlets in the world and not enough Melanies, if you ask me. Though the character of Scarlet is probably more interesting, all the roles were beautifully played,
I think.

Hi Amy,

I am very happy to know you also like Melanie and Scarllet. Yes, it was her quiet and innermost something that made me admire her self-effacing presence. However, she couldn’t be without Scarllet, her physical nest and shelter. Scarllet endured much too, a little unwillingly though, but that’s why she was also my heroine. Sometimes I fancy, if it is these two characters that laid the footstone which has built up America (my uncleland - I ‘m kiddin’) into such a great country.

Sorry for the long speech.
haihao