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Through the roof?

中国日报网 2023-01-17 17:39


Reader question:

Please explain this sentence, with “through the roof” in particular: “Since then, his popularity has gone through the roof.”

My comments:

Who is this man we’re talking about here? Lionel Messi? Since winning the World Cup for Argentina?

But Messi has always been popular, don’t you think?

Anyways, in our question, “his popularity” has risen to extremely high levels, that is, unusually high and unexpectedly also.

That’s what “through the roof” means. You see, if we’re discussing something indoors, sitting round a tea table, for instance, the roof is the highest point of reference. We look up and see the roof of the house and nothing higher beyond.

So, to say something has gone through the roof is to suggest it’s has gone up to a level that’s literally not possible for the eye to see – in other words, to a level one can only imagine.

In other words, it’s a level that’s, like, unreal.

In our example, apparently this person’s popularity took a hit sometime in the past. Then something happened in his favor and his popularity recovered as a result. Not only that, his popularity has since risen to a level that’s much higher than before. His popularity has “gone through the roof”, to extremely high levels.

Metaphorically speaking, of course.

In conversation, we often talk about prices going through the roof. Pork prices, for example, sometimes go up to unusual and unreasonable levels before the Lunar New Year, which this year falls on January 22, i.e. less than a week from now.

And when something like that happens, we say pork prices have gone through the roof, meaning it’s high and exorbitantly so.

Not this year, though. Pork prices have been stable lately, which is good.

Before we move on to media examples, let me wish you a happy and peaceful Lunar New Year, Omicron and other Covid-19 variants notwithstanding.

Now, media examples of something “going through the roof” in the extremely, unexpectedly and perhaps unreasonably high sense:


1. Newly-appointed England Test captain Ben Stokes opened up about his anxiety in the last one year. On Thursday, a trailer of a documentary on the star England all-rounder was released and will be available on Amazon Prime Video.

Stokes took an indefinite period of break from cricket to focus on his mental health and spend time with his family.

Stokes came back to England’s Test squad in the Ashes 2021-22 after nearly missing competitive cricket for four months including the India Test series and the T20 World Cup 2021.

On December 8, 2020, Stokes lost his father Ged Stokes after his long battle with cancer.

“I never thought that I would feel like I do now. My anxiety has gone through the roof. You sat on the toilet in your hotel room and you are having a massive panic attack,” Stokes said in the trailer of his documentary.

- My Anxiety Has Gone Through The Roof – Ben Stokes, CricketAddictor.com, May 20, 2022.


2. Large canisters of nitrous oxide intended only for caterers appear to be driving an “exponential growth” of patients suffering from the gas’ effects, experts have told ITV News.

While it has been common to see small, bullet-sized canisters of nitrous oxide – also known as laughing gas – littered across streets for years, more users now favour far larger cylinders with a significantly greater volume.

It’s feared the use of nitrous oxide products such as Smartwhip or Goldwhip – cans specially-designed and legally sold to the catering industry to whip cream – appear to be at least part of the reason why hospital admissions are “through the roof” since Covid.

Laughing gas provides a short burst of euphoria, lasting no more than a few seconds, but can cause paralysis and even death if inhaled excessively.

It is now the second most used drug by 16-24 year olds in the UK, with more than half a million young people reporting taking the drug in 2019-20.

Alex Littler, 16, is one of the growing number who have fallen foul of the effects of laughing gas.

He had been at a music festival the day before, where he had inhaled nitrous oxide from balloons pumped by the smaller canisters, having only weeks prior used one filled with a Smartwhip.

Mum Cathy McCann, from Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, came home from work to find Alex still asleep, when she knew something wasn’t right.

“He was still in bed so I asked what was up, he said he can’t breathe properly and has a horrible crackling on his chest,” she told ITV News.

“When I looked and I felt his chest, it was horrible. It was like pressing bubble wrap paper, I’ve never seen or heard anything like it. My fingers would sink half an inch into his chest.”

Calling the emergency services immediately, she was told to take him to hospital at once.

He was sent for a CT scan and an X-ray, but it wasn’t until doctors questioned him that Cathy discovered the reason behind her son’s condition.

“The doctor asked if he had been crushed in any way, if maybe he’d been on someone’s shoulders at the festival and fallen off,” she said.

“The doctor then said ‘I want you to be truthful, Alex, we need to know what you’ve taken.’ That’s when he came out with it. I just broke down in tears.”

Alex’s lung had been ruptured and air – including nitrous oxide – had been left trapped around his heart and shoulder blade, causing his chest to feel spongy.

While his puncture was healing quickly, doctors told Cathy her son would likely need an operation to remove the air before managing to remove the gases with an oxygen mask worn overnight.

“Until you see a person who’s lying there like that, you don’t know what them balloons do to you,” Cathy added.

“He was so lucky, it could have left him paralyzed, braindead or even dead.”

- Laughing gas patients ‘through the roof’ amid rise in use of powerful larger nitrous oxide cylinders, ITV.com, August 5, 2022.


3. Zion Williamson is a Lamborghini and needs to treat his body as such.

That was New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance’s message to his star teammate as Williamson prepares to return to the court for the 2022-23 season after a long injury layoff.

“You don’t put the cheapest gas in a Lambo, you know?” Nance said at Pelicans media day on Monday. “You go to the pump and you put the 93 to 95, whatever that is, you put that in there cause you don’t want to be on the highway driving and hear your engine. No, you don’t want that.”

Williamson missed all of last season with a broken right foot. A year ago at Pelicans media day, the team announced the injury and it seemed like Williamson wouldn’t miss much of the regular season if any games at all. Instead, Williamson suffered numerous setbacks and never was able to step foot on the court.

This year’s media day was different, however. Williamson was all smiles all day.

“I feel like I’m at my best right now,” Williamson said. “I feel like I’m moving faster, jumping higher. I feel great.”

Williamson hasn‘t played in an NBA game since May 4, 2021, when he suffered a fractured finger that prematurely ended the 2020-21 season.

“That’s a long time without playing a game, but my excitement level is through the roof,” Williamson said. “I’m just ready to get back on the court.” 

Feeling ‘at my best,’ recuperated Zion Williamson says excitement level ahead of Pelicans return ‘through the roof’, ESPN.com, September 27, 2022.


About the author:


Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.


(作者:张欣 编辑:yaning)


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