Use colourful expressions
When we want to describe something bad or disappointing, we usually rely on some common adjectives, such as “bad”, or “terrible”. But it is possible to use some interesting and colourful expressions too, especially in informal situations.
Consider the word “lemon”, for example. Most of the time, we use it to just refer to the fruit. But it can also be used to refer to something defective or far below expectations. For instance, if the new gadget you bought turns out to be of poor quality or not as useful as you expected, you can describe it as “a lemon”. In fact, the meaning is extended from defective objects to disappointing experiences too.
When discussing matters related to business and finance, for example, someone can describe a failed investment (an investment that was wasted and did not bring any returns) as “a lemon”. The word, in fact, is so popular that laws which guarantee full refund to a customer who has been handed a defective car are referred to as “lemon laws” in several states in the USA.
But where did this curious use of the word come from? One theory is that once people used the word lemon to refer to losers or simpletons, since it is easy to “suck the juice out of” such people.
“Suck the juice out of” here has the meaning of taking advantage of someone, or fooling them completely. From there, the word gradually came to be used for describing faulty objects and vain efforts. Similarly, if a sub-standard article is passed off as a good one; the practice is described as “handing out a lemon”.
Similar to “lemon” is the expression “dud”. While “lemon” has a rather general origin, “dud” has a specific origin that relates to missiles, warfare, and bombs. When a bomb or a grenade fails to explode, it is described as a “dud”--something that is a total failure, and does not function at all. Each year during the Diwali and firecrackers season, for example, we're sure to encounter at least a few duds.
Again, “dud” refers to not just objects, but can also be used to describe projects and ideas, movies and performances, and just about anything else. So you could say “the movie was a total dud” (using 'total' lets you convey exactly how bad), “the joke was a dud,” and so on. It is somewhat extreme to describe people as “duds” though.
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