What is the most prominent way to distinguish a rhino from a hippo? (Come on, you know this has been a pressing question for you!) It is the horn, of course.
That protuberance’s name has shaped itself into a colorful addition to our everyday talk, as may be noted in the following.
Ever been really proud of an accomplishment? When you mention it (or boast or brag), you may be said to be tooting your own horn. (See? It is not limited to trumpeters.)
Can’t decide on a course of action because the outcomes you face pose other problems? You are on the horns of a dilemma.
For those of us who remember when a phone did not fit into a pocket or, better yet, when you had to use a rotary dial, you may have been said to be on the horn — a slang term for the telephone.
Are you ready to face a situation head on? Then you are ready to take the bull by the horns. Make sure, however, that you do not lock horns (have a squabble) with someone who is also involved in the decision you make.
All too often, we commuters are familiar with the driver who is too eager to give someone the horn. Yes, he is tooting his own, but in an annoying rather than a boastful way.
To be better at social interaction, you may consider not always trying to horn in on someone’s conversation or plan; you may be asking for a hit on the horn.
Apparently, there is a baseball phrase: around the horn. The ball is passed from third to second to first, often after a strikeout. The phrase can also be used to mean the long way around or using a difficult route. (This is a reference to a time when ship routes had to go around Cape Horn in South America, pre-Panama Canal.)
Did you lose financially on a deal recently? You came out on the little end of the horn. You may then be advised to draw in (or pull in) your horns: Act more carefully — especially with finances.
For stock car enthusiasts out there, I learned that you can use the chrome horn: You nudge the car in front to indicate your intent to pass. (Please, on the racetrack only.)
Be aware that all of these special uses may be confusing to a greenhorn, so be cautious when using them.