show ankle: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘show ankle’ mean?

The idiom "show ankle" typically refers to revealing or exposing a small portion of something, often used metaphorically in a social or sexual context.

Idiom Explorer

Uncovering Victorian Taboos

In addition to the idiom "show ankle", there are several related idioms that expand upon the concept of revealing or exposing something. One such idiom is "show a leg". This expression originated in a nautical context and refers to the act of sticking one's leg out of the bed or hammock in the morning. It was a way for sailors to show that they were awake and ready to start the day. In a broader sense, "show a leg" can be used to convey the idea of taking action or making oneself known. Just as showing a leg indicated readiness in the morning, this idiom implies an intention to actively participate or engage in a specific situation.

In a similar vein, the idiom "show color" is used to describe the act of revealing one's true intentions or character. When someone shows their true colors, they are displaying their genuine nature, often in a surprising or unexpected way. This idiom can be applied to various situations, such as when someone's true motives are finally revealed or when their actions contradict their previous facade. Like "show ankle", "show color" involves an element of revelation and can be used to convey a deeper understanding of a person or situation.

He flirted shamelessly, scandalizing the crowd's propriety.

Another related idiom is "tip of the iceberg". This phrase is often used to describe a situation where only a small glimpse or portion of something is visible, but there is a much larger or significant underlying issue or problem. Just as showing ankle symbolized a small reveal that hinted at greater hidden desires, the idiom "tip of the iceberg" implies that what is seen is only a fraction of the whole. It suggests that there is more to be uncovered or explored, and that what is initially apparent is just the beginning or surface level of a deeper, more complex issue.

When we consider these related idioms alongside the idiom "show ankle", we can see a common thread of revealing, uncovering, or exposing something that was previously hidden or concealed. Whether it's a flirtatious gesture, a person's true nature, or the underlying complexities of a situation, these idioms invite us to look beyond what is immediately visible and consider the deeper implications and meanings that lie beneath the surface.

While "show ankle" may have originated in a specific historical context, it continues to resonate today as a symbol of personal expression and defiance against societal norms. It serves as a reminder that there is often more to be discovered or understood beneath the surface, and that the act of revealing or exposing something can carry significant meaning and impact. By exploring related idioms such as "show a leg", "show color", and "tip of the iceberg", we can further appreciate the complexity and richness of language and the various ways in which idiomatic expressions can convey profound insights and reflections on human nature and society.

Example usage

Examples of the idiom "show ankle" being used in a sentence:

  • She is always dressed very conservatively, never showing ankle or any other part of her body.
  • The fashion trend of the 1920s encouraged women to show ankle by wearing shorter hemlines on their dresses.
  • In some cultures, it is considered inappropriate for women to show ankle in public.

The idiom "show ankle" denotes the act of revealing or exposing one's ankle, typically in relation to fashion or modesty. It can be used to describe someone who dresses modestly and covers their body, or it can refer to a specific trend or cultural expectation regarding the exposure of ankles. The idiom is often used metaphorically to convey the idea of modesty or propriety in dress or behavior.

More "Gender" idioms