T-learning # Idiom
Speak Like a Native

all beer and skittles

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Choose the correct definition a, b or c.

a) hard work in the pub

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b) easy and pleasant

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all beer and skittles’ means all fun and pleasure. It is is shorthand for a life of indulgence spent in the pub. Life isn’t all beer and skittles is said to mean that you cannot always be having fun.
(Skittles is the game of ninepins, a game similar to bowling.)

French translation

une partie de plaisir, la vie n’est pas un long fleuve tranquille

How NOT to translate : *la vie, c’est pas que de la bière et des quilles !


Examples in context

This week’s best food and drink

M. Manze, London
Obviously life in Victorian London wasn’t all beer and skittles, what with a dose of typhoid, grinding poverty and the risk of bumping into Jack the Ripper being uppermost in the minds of working-class folk. Still, there was always pie, mash and jellied eels to look forward to, so things can’t have been all bad. M. Manze has been using its Italian founder’s original recipes to serve up a bona fide taste of Old London Town at their shop on Tower Bridge Road since 1902 – and it has changed little since it opened.
87 Tower Bridge Road, SE1’

The Guardian, 11 April 2015


‘When your husband is a hunk

Being married to a dancer, model and specimen of physical perfection is not all beer and skittles

My Husband Is a dancer and model. I knew this when I first met him. The first time I clapped eyes on him was via an acquaintance pointing him out as utterly gorgeous. So you can’t say I wasn’t warned. Maybe I should have known better, but I didn’t. I fell for him like the rest of them, and when he asked me out, I was suitably chuffed.’

the independent, 13 August 2015


Everyday usage

When George’s parents stopped supporting him, George suddenly discovered that life isn’t all beer and skittles.

For Sam, college was beer and skittles. He wasted a lot of time and money.

c) the end of an ordeal

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