Welcome to this version of English List. Cars have had such a huge impact on that language–the English one–and we’re here to prove it! This is part 2 of Everyday Expressions about Cars and Driving, including some terms that can be used for both vehicles and other life situations.
For English students, these can be a cool way for you to liven up your word choice and vocabulary. Otherwise, you may just like driving cars or be an awesome English-speaking person that loves to learn. Whatever it is, I hope you enjoy the article. Feel free to give your own examples, ask questions, give feedback, do whatever!
Alrighty, let’s get rolling.
Read Part 1: Some Everyday Expressions about Cars & Driving
It’s easy to imagine the benefits of a full tank of gas. Similarly, when talking about people, we can say that person has a full tank. This is like saying that they are full of energy, ready to go, and pumped full of enthusiasm. There’s also the expression “on full,” which is the opposite of “on E” (on empty). Careful, though! “On F” isn’t quite a popular expression (yet).
No stopping … no stopping
- Let’s make sure the truck’s got a full tank so we don’t have to stop the whole trip.
- He has been running for hours and is still on a full tank! Can you believe it?
Roll up (the window)
This one may sound obvious, but it might not be so for English learners. When talking about making the window go up in a car, we can say roll the window up or roll up the window (it works the same for “down” too). Roll up by itself also has a multitude of meanings. It can be as simple as “to roll something” or to “arrive or go somewhere.”
Read also: Roll out, rolling, & other expressions
- Can you please roll the window up? It’s freezing in here!
- I have to roll up my clothes so that they can fit in my suitcase.
- Do you feel like rolling up to my cousin’s house? You know, she’s the one with the big TV.
Junk in the trunk
Big things in the back
This phrase is near and dear to many English speakers. Literally, it refers to having too much “junk”, or lots of random and useless objects, in the trunk of one’s car. Junk in the trunk can also be used to talk about people, especially women, saying that they have a big behind. This is actually the first thing that will come to mind to most English speakers when this silly phrase is said.
It is a very playful expression, used mostly with people we are really comfortable with, and it can be a really funny thing to say.
A beautiful mess
- Do you know if Tyler has any jumper cables? There’s so much junk in his trunk, I can’t find it.
- Mark told me I had a lot of junk in my trunk. Uh, I think he likes me.
No driving from the back
Just picture it: you are riding along happily in your car, not a care in the world. Suddenly, you hear a voice from the back seat telling you to turn your blinkers on before you switch lanes. That’s decent advice, but still, nobody likes a backseat driver.
This expression is used to refer to someone who is giving instructions or directions but is “out of line” to. Maybe they are unqualified, or maybe they just weren’t a part of the conversation, to begin with.
Input from the sidelines
- I thought to tell you to slow down, but I didn’t want to be a backseat driver.
- The parents on the other team are such backseat drivers. They should just let the coaches do their jobs, right?
Down the road
What is to come
Driving is a lot more comfortable when you can see far down the road. This expression refers to what is ahead of you, further down the street. In a figurative sense, it means what is ahead in life, as opposed to the actual street or highway. Still, it’s a very useful idiom to know.
- There’s a new Chipotle that opened up down the road. Want to try it?
- You should always be prepared because you never know what might happen down the road.
Turn it around
When driving, some people get the sudden urge to want to completely change directions on the road. That round 180-degree change is called making a U-turn. Likewise, people can make a “U-turn” in life as they completely change directions or go back to old habits.
Another very informal way of saying this is making a U-ey. (Some also say “pulling” a U-ey, “busting” a U-ey, “flipping” a U-ey, it’s all the same)
Bring it back
- Sheryl was so happy in retirement. Now, all of a sudden, she did a big U-turn and went back to teaching again.
- Do you think we can make a U-ey on this road? I think we can.
Run out of steam
No one wants this. When you’re driving and the car suddenly stops working. Apparently it’s got no more gas, no power, and everything says that is has run out of steam. The same idea can go for people when they don’t have the smallest bit of energy left in them.
Run until the running’s done
- Boy, I sure hope this old truck doesn’t run out of steam before we make it home.
- Alex started the day off full of energy, but now she looks like she ran out of steam.
Driving (me) nuts!
Nuts and (crazy) berries
Many people like to drive, while others get enraged by it. Driving someone nuts is the same as making them feel crazy. Other ways to say this are driving someone “mad,” driving someone “crazy”, driving someone “bananas,” and driving someone “coocoo”, among others.
This “driving” is usually used with negative emotions, so you would not say “driving me happy,” for example.
Ja-Making me crazy!
- Is this Camila Cabello? Oh no, her music drives my brother insane.
- I can’t handle being around kids while they’re crying. They drive me nuts!
Read more expressions about cars and driving: Hubpages
**Thank you for reading! Do you know any other car-related expressions or phrases? Can you use them in a sentence? Feel welcome, this is your place!
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Peace & love, y’all!