A Fake Aztec Treasure - Idioms in Context

Aztec Calendar
Aztec Calendar. Blend Images - PBNJ Productions / Getty Images


This idioms and expressions in context reading featuring a mysterious Aztec statue that isn't what someone claims it is. You'll find definitions in alphabetical order provided at the end of the story to help with understanding. Finally, test your understanding of what you've learned with the follow-up quiz.

Try reading the dialogue one time to understand the gist without using the idiom definitions.

On your second reading, use the definitions to help you understand the text while learning new idioms.

The Fake Aztec Statue

My friend Jamie walked into the room to drop a bombshell: He'd spent the last week researching a small statue he had found. It was, he stated, a lost Aztec antique which was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Of course, I'd been friends with Jamie for many, many years, so I was quite aware of his ability to talk anyone's ear off about any number of schemes. It seems this time that he had discovered an ancient treasure which was in mint condition. Not only that, this magical item had appeared out of thin air! Now, I know Jamie. I used to fall for his big stories about his adventures. Over the years, I've learned that most of his boasts are simply wishful thinking. He's a sweet guy, but he's gotten a raw deal in life, so he's always taking great pains to present himself with new and hidden talents.


Back to the Aztec treasure. I decided I needed to close the whole affair down. After all, I was his good friend. I only wanted his best, but I knew if he sold this "treasure" he'd end up being sued for fraud. Then, of course, I'd have to take the stand and swear that Jamie had proof it was real. Unfortunately, I knew Jamie didn't have any proof.

He'd psyched himself up for this crazy scheme. You see, that's how he whiles away the time. He thinks that if he can come up with an idea that's crazy enough, he'll hitch a ride to fame and fortune. 

Being his good friend. I told him it wasn't a good idea. Strangely, he showed now anger. He just nodded his head in agreement and muttered "You're right. Maybe it isn't such a good idea."


appear out of thin air - become suddenly available though it didn't seem to be available the moment before
be in mint condition - used with something old which seems almost "new", be kept up perfectly
be wishful thinking - be hopeful about, but understand that something is not likely to happen
close something down - stop something from happening
drop a bombshell - tell someone something very important, which is also controversial, or a great surprise
fall for someone - to be deceived by someone
get a raw deal - be cheated in some way, often financially cheated
get off lightly - receive a mild punishment for a serious crime or mistake
give someone a reputation of something - do something which makes other people think you are a certain way
hitch a ride - get someone to take you somewhere by using your thumb
psyche someone out - make some so nervous they make a mistake
take great pains to do something - do as much as one can to make sure that something is done correctly
take the stand - testify in a court of law
talk someone's ear off - bother someone by talking too much
while away the time doing something - spend time while waiting for something else to happen, spend time doing something


  1. I'm getting myself ______________ for my the economics final next Friday.
  2. Have you ever had to ______________ to testify in a court of law?
  3. Many people say it's __________________ to believe that politicians will actually help "the people."
  4. I found a silver dollar from 1899 ______________ and sold it for $300!
  5. Could I ______________ to work this morning? My car is in the shop for repairs.
  6. I'm sorry. I've been gabbing for an hour. I didn't mean to ______________ your ______________.
  7. I wish a big plate of pasta would ______________. I'm starving!
  8. She ______________ last when she told him she wanted a divorce.
  9. Many people feel that they've gotten ______________ in life because globalization has left them behind.


  1. psyched up
  2. take the stand
  3. wishful thinking
  4. in mint condition
  5. hitch a ride
  6. talk your ear off
  1. appear out of thin air
  2. dropped a bombshell
  3. a raw deal

Learn more idioms in context with this short stories.