Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Thai
      • Home Country:
      • Thailand
      • Current Location:
      • Thailand

    • Join Date: Oct 2010
    • Posts: 183
    #1

    smell the coffee

    Wake up and smell the coffee.
    What does "smell the coffee" mean?
    I think it doesn't mean something directly to coffee.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England

    • Join Date: Aug 2009
    • Posts: 203
    #2

    Re: smell the coffee

    You are indeed correct.

    Smelling coffee is generally regarded as a pleasurable experience. People use this phrase when addressing someone who is being negative about some situation or another. They are pointing out that there are good things to be seen in the situation and the person being addressed should think again.

    Regards

  1. 5jj's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Oct 2010
    • Posts: 28,134
    #3

    Re: smell the coffee

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard1 View Post
    Smelling coffee is generally regarded as a pleasurable experience. People use this phrase when addressing someone who is being negative about some situation or another. They are pointing out that there are good things to be seen in the situation and the person being addressed should think again.
    That's a new one on me. Is it recent, or have I just been moving in the wrong circles?

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England

    • Join Date: Aug 2009
    • Posts: 203
    #4

    Re: smell the coffee

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    That's a new one on me. Is it recent, or have I just been moving in the wrong circles?
    Mmm, interesting Q. and I'm not sure about the etymology.

    It's often attributed to the columnist Ann Landers writing in the 60s, and was the title of her 1996 book 'Wake Up and Smell the Coffee'. But whether she originated or merely popularised it isn't clear.

    To be honest I can't remember it as far back as the 60s and my impression is that it became popular during the 90s. I'll be interested to see other contributions.

    Regards

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2007
    • Posts: 19,218
    #5

    Re: smell the coffee

    It means something entirely different here. It means that you have been blind to, or ignoring, an unpleasant truth, and it's time for you to realize it.

    For example, your husband comes home late often without a good excuse, smells like another woman's perfume, and (other signs that make it clear to everyone else he is having an affair). You keep saying how hard he works and that he just works with a lot of women. One of your friends says to wake up and smell the coffee -- he's cheating!

    The emphasis is in the "waking up" and realizing this situation is going on, not on the coffee, which is just something that is associated with morning.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. 5jj's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Oct 2010
    • Posts: 28,134
    #6

    Re: smell the coffee

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    It means that you have been blind to, or ignoring, an unpleasant truth, and it's time for you to realize it.
    That's new to me, too.

    I really must get out of the house rather more.

  4. 5jj's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Oct 2010
    • Posts: 28,134
    #7

    Re: smell the coffee

    I have just been talking about this to a British colleague. She didn't know the expression with either meaning, but she did know 'wake up and smell the roses' with Richard's interpretation of the 'coffee' expression.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Bulgarian
      • Home Country:
      • Bulgaria
      • Current Location:
      • Bulgaria

    • Join Date: Sep 2007
    • Posts: 5,000
    #8

    Re: smell the coffee

    wake up and smell the cafe = try to pay attention to what's going on.

    wake up and smell the coffee - Idioms - by the Free Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.

    I, I went to hell
    I might as well
    Learn by my mistakes

    I at twenty-four
    Was insecure
    To whatever it takes

    Come on now
    Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up
    Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up
    It's time, smell the coffee, the coffee
    Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up
    Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up
    This time smell the coffee, the coffee

    She's only got one reason to live
    Isn't your life?
    She's only got one reason to give
    Giving tonight

    She's so bored
    Just I'll
    Do anything
    She's so cored
    Just I'll
    Lose everything, everyday... etc.

    V.


    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Jan 2011
    • Posts: 248
    #9

    Re: smell the coffee

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    That's new to me, too.

    I really must get out of the house rather more.
    I would agree 100% with Barb_D on her interpretation. I wonder if it's more popular in the United States?

    *Not a teacher*

  5. Ouisch's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2006
    • Posts: 4,142
    #10

    Re: smell the coffee

    Another here in full agreement with Barb's interpretation.
    If you tell someone to "wake up and smell the coffee" it usually means that they've been unaware (or ignoring) something that is painfully obvious to everyone else. "You believe it when your daughter tells you she's spending the night at her girlfriend's house, and that you can't phone her there because her friend's parents are Amish? Oh, wake up and smell the coffee - your daughter is sneaking out and meeting a boy!"

    In the US, a cup of coffee first thing in the morning is as traditional as tea is in the UK, and for many folks that is their first sensory stimulation when they wake up in the morning - the aroma of brewing coffee. Many Americans insist that they cannot function properly until they've had that first cup of coffee in the morning - they need that caffeine jolt. So "waking up" and "coffee" are inextricably linked in most American minds.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. [Vocabulary] A smell of, the smell of
    By Kazuo in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 21-Apr-2010, 12:04
  2. you can smell
    By thx0110 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 23-Nov-2009, 09:51
  3. smell
    By peter123 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 20-Dec-2008, 04:38
  4. smell the coffee
    By Unregistered in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 03-Dec-2004, 09:25
  5. smell
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 08-Sep-2003, 21:49

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •