Idiom: to fall off the back of a
truck; used as a verb (“must”
being a noun).
Christina: Ooh, I like that phone. Can I see it?
Salesman: Sure! And it’s a great price! Only
Christina: Wow, that’s cheap for a new phone.
Is it used?
Salesman: No, it’s brand new.
Christina: Then why are there pictures on it
of someone’s kid?
Salesman: Maybe it fell
of the back of a truck.
Christina: I’m sorry – I can’t purchase
stolen goods. But thanks!
Meaning: When an American says that something “fell off the back of a truck,” it
means that the item is stolen property. One
common usage is like the one above, when a person will state euphemistically
that something “fell off the back of a truck” to suggest that
something is stolen without admitting to selling stolen goods (which is
illegal). In the example above, the
salesman is telling Christina that the phone might be stolen, but without
admitting anything wrong. However, while
the idiom was initially used to euphemistically admit that something was stolen,
it is now sometimes used in everyday English to replace “stolen” even
though no admission of guilt is being avoided.
Here is another example:
Maria: Wow, Daniel! That’s a nice bike! Where did you get it?
Daniel: I bought it from a guy in an alley
Maria: Did it falloff the back of a truck?
Daniel: I didn’t think of that; it was
pretty cheap. Think I should go by the
police station and see if anyone has reported it stolen?
Maria: Probably a good idea. And who
knows – if it is stolen, maybe the owner will give you what you paid for it as
Meaning: In this case, Maria asks if the bike could be stolen – a
possibility Daniel hadn’t thought of.
Of course, if he gets caught riding a stolen bike, he could get into
trouble, so Maria suggests that he check with the police station to find out if
it is stolen.
This week, we will be covering
strange/humorous American idioms in honor of our new favorite blog, Venezuela Sayings.
For more information, please visit www.languagesystems.edu