In reference to my question about the meaning of “It’s one thing to dance like Fred Astaire, but Ginger did it backwards in high heels,” on the Time magazine’s article (June 29) of John Roberts’ ruling on Healthcare, I found the phrase, “strike the match” in the following sentence in the same article, “Roberts rules.”
“When Roberts took his seat at the center of the bench on June 28, the final day of the court term, and began reading aloud his opinion, he sounded at first as if he were striking the match. The conservative critique of the so-called individual mandate was correct, he intoned: Congress lacks the power to require citizens to buy insurance they don’t want.”
To me whose mother language totally lacks the concept of article – a/an, the, non-article - in its language system, interpretation and distinction of definite / infinitive/ non-article is always a serious headache.
Although I see “strike a match” and “strike the match,” both of which are in constant currency since around 1980 in Google Ngram, I can’t find either of them as an idiom in Cambridge, Oxford and Merriam-Webster.
Only McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs defines “strike a match” as to light a match by rubbing it on a rough surface, with an example, Mary struck a match and lit a candle.
What does “John Roberts was striking the match” mean? Was he lighting a match to fuel the serious dispute, or bringing the dispute to the end?
What is the difference of “strike the match” from “strike a match”? Are they exactly same or totally irrelevant idioms or expressions?