Friday, May 17, 2013


Business Idioms and Proverbs "They Cooked the Books"

We are in the process now of changing one of our college English as a Foreign Language classes from an academic writing course to more of a business course. So when I found "They Cooked The Books": A Humorous Look at the World of White-Collar Crime I thought it would be a fun read and maybe useful! I was right on both counts.

The author, Patrick Edwards, is a fellow California native so we seem to have similar views on quite a few things. While his knowledge of the financial industry is different, I find most of his references very humorous. 

 I wouldn't suggest giving this books to students (unless they are pretty advanced and have an interest in finance), but I think that having read it I can now give a better history and some fun examples for business idioms!

Basically throughout the book he goes through different proverbs and idioms explaining where they come from and how we can see them used today. I admit I skim through most of the financial explanations, but I enjoy the origins a lot.

For example, his first chapter explains "Cook the books" comes from the 1930's when the Earl of Straffor stated, "The proof was once clearr, however, they have cooked it ever since." He even references a use in current pop culture like this Beetle Baily:

If you have some free time and are teaching a business class this is a fun book to scan.

What's your favorite place to find idiom origins? Or what's your favorite financial idiom to teach?

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