Midas touch, face the music, good/bad break, bitter end

Created date

June 28th, 2019

Midas touch

If you’ve got the “Midas touch,” you’re capable of turning things into gold (in the metaphorical sense, of course). The phrase is a reference to King Midas, a Greek mythological figure who loved gold more than anything else in the world.

With the help of Greek god Dionysus, he obtained the power to turn anything he touched into gold. The problem, though, was that everything he touched turned to gold: food, drink, etc. 

The metaphor ignores this tragic result.

“When it comes to investment, he has the Midas touch.”

Face the music

To “face the music” is to confront consequences—own your fate. While many believe that the phrase refers to a nervous singer facing the orchestra, the actual origin is probably metaphorical. 

For years, the pleasant strands of musical instruments have been used ironically to represent unpleasant sounds or situations. This might include the sound of the military’s drumming out of a condemned prisoner or the shouts of an angry disciplinarian. 

Either way, all of us have to “face the music” at some point.

“Following his arrest, he had no choice but to head to court and face the music.”

Good/bad break

The game of pool is one of dexterity and strategy. The strategy, however, depends on the break. 

With balls arranged in a triangular formation, the player who takes the first shot does so by “breaking” the triangle with the cue ball. The “good breaks” leave that player with good shots; the “bad breaks” leave him with little or nothing.

For decades, we’ve used these scenarios in reference to outcomes of all kinds: good and bad.

“He got a good break when the police officer let him off with a warning.”

Bitter end

Perhaps surprisingly, this one comes from the nautical world. 

To be at the bitter end is to be at the end of your rope—in some cases, a fight to the finish. In other words, there’s nothing left.

The phrase is a reference to anchor cables fastened to a ship’s bitts, which are posts bolted to the deck. Pulling in the anchor line, you are at the proverbial “bitter end” when it reaches the bitts.

“The Germans and Americans fought to the bitter end at the Battle of the Bulge.”

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