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I was wondering if it might be at all odd or inappropriate to use these newly learned idioms where I work.

First one, You've got me there. Instead of I have no idea or I don't know.

Second one, Let's bail. Instead of Let's go home.

And the last one, I'll be back at a drop of a hat.

The reason I'm asking: On the web, these phrases are characterized as common in the United States, but I've never heard anyone say them. I'm trying to improve my English and would like to use them somehow (at work specifically), unless it would seem weird to do so.

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Are you asking about the USA, or some other place? Because it might be different elsewhere.

In my experience, "you've got me there" is quite acceptable if you do not have an answer/solution to something. You should probably ask yourself whether you want to say that to customers, though, as it basically says you can't help them.

"Let's Bail" is quite informal. So depending on the company culture, it could be appropriate towards your colleagues, but probably not to your boss. I can't really think of a situation where you would say to customers.

"I'll be back at a drop of a hat" is, as far as I know, not the 'correct' way to use that idiom. Cambridge Dictionary says the following on this:

British: If you do something at the drop of a hat, you do it immediately without stopping to think about it

American: easily, with little encouragement

So "coming back at the drop of the hat" is probably not the best way to put it. If you want to say you'll be back very soon, you could say something like "I'll be back in a jiffy", or one of many similar expressions.

  • I think the OP is precisely asking because he does not know "or one of many similar expressions". Could you provide an alternative that would be appropriate in a work environment? – Mari-Lou A Jan 12 '17 at 9:03
  • Good answer but You've got me there is probably a bit dated now. I've never heard of let's bail, though people do bail out of stricken aircraft, ships etc. Bail out is also used metaphorically. I think we should bail out of the project. But it usually means abandon altogether - rather than just let's go home or such. I agree entirely with your views on drop of a hat. – WS2 Jan 12 '17 at 10:08
  • Well explained answers. To share my own impressions, I would say "you've got me there" is common enough but it's used in a few particular ways that might be hard to get right as a non-native speaker. It's often said with a "I hear you" tone and laugh agreeing or with a "I'm with you brother" deadpan. Like you said, you wouldn't use it with a customer question or really with any question about something you were responsible for or someone who needed some help. It's a humorous response. – Tom22 Jan 13 '17 at 3:21
  • "Let's bail" probably comes in and out of fashion - I used it in high school so it's probably "out". It is definitely used in very casual way among friends. An informal boss might use it with you but I wouldn't use it back with them as usually they get to call the shots about when to abruptly leave without discussion. I think the "drop of the hat" is very dated: something bugs bunny used in 1940...people would laugh, but if you wanted to make them laugh it would be a good natured joke. – Tom22 Jan 13 '17 at 3:25
  • @Mari-Lou A: I could have made it more clear, but I didn't write all the alternatives because there are so many. It then depends on the (work) environment which ones are appropriate/best. I will be happy to amend the post with more appropriate examples if this becomes known. – HenryJekyll1886 Jan 13 '17 at 9:12

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