Science idioms: Don’t worry, ‘it’s not rocket science’

Discovery Place Kids Huntersville

Has anyone ever told you “it’s not rocket science” when talking about a seemingly simple task? How about pointing out to you that you are both “on the same wavelength?” These are two examples of idioms.

An idiom is a group of words that have a particular meaning that is not easily identifiable by looking at the individual words. Today, we are going to look at a variety of different idioms that have their basis in science and we will explore the meanings behind the idioms and how they relate to science.

1 Rocket Science

It is not rocket science/brain surgery

Meaning: It is easy to understand or is not difficult to do/understand

Origin: This stems from how hard studying rocket science or brain surgery is and how, compared to that, whatever you are talking about has to be much easier.

2 wavelength

On the same wavelength

Meaning: To understand or think similarly to someone else.

Origin: Usually wavelength discusses the distance between two waves, but in this case the meaning is reversed.

3 wheel

Reinvent the wheel

Meaning: Waste time trying to create something that is already created

Origin: Inventing the wheel was a monumental task and trying to reinvent it would just be a waste of time.

4 blue moon

Once in a blue moon

Meaning: Something that is very uncommon, or doesn’t happen often.

Origin: A blue moon is when there are two full moons within a 30-day period. When this happens, the moon gets a blueish color. This happens very rarely, which gives rise to this idiom.

5 acid test

Acid or litmus test

Meaning: To test someone’s success or their value

Origin: When testing whether a solution is acidic or alkaline, we use a paper called litmus paper. This idiom is from this process because you test and judge someone in the same way that you test how acidic a solution is.


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