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    • Join Date: Jul 2003
    • Posts: 508
    #1

    A thorn in the flesh

    Need some expert advice please, what is the difference between the idioms "a thorn in the flesh" and "a pain in the neck?" Is one more threatening than the other? Below is my explanation:

    A thorn in the flesh - Someone or something that continually annoys you and causes you pain.

    A pain in the neck - Someone or something that annoys you.


    The difference is in the degree of sufferings.

    Thanks.

    BMO

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 56,392
    #2
    'A poin in the neck'is more colloquial and might refer to a temporary or a permanent situation, while 'thorn in one's side' would be more permanent. I'd also say 'thorn'is more serious- a rival would be a thorn and an idiot a pain.


    • Join Date: Jul 2003
    • Posts: 508
    #3
    Thanks a lot. The explanation is very practical; colloquial vs. non-colloquial; temporary vs. permanent; and idiot vs. rival. Come to think of it, you are right. We hear, "so-and-so is a pain in the neck or butt," often in a work place. However, we don't hear "a thorn in the flesh" very often.

    Below is a non-rival situation:

    If a bad stepdad/stepmom hates an innocent stepchild so much so that he or she would like very much to kick the child out, do you call the little one a thorn in the flesh in the eyes of the parent? (Of course the child is a victim.)

    Thanks again.

    BMO

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 56,392
    #4
    That would be a case for using 'thorn in my side\flesh'.


    • Join Date: Jul 2003
    • Posts: 508
    #5
    It is perfectly clear now. As always, thanks a bunch.

    BMO


    • Join Date: Apr 2004
    • Posts: 1,814
    #6
    It's very clear! Many thanks.

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