Sorry it’s been sooooo long since my last entry – I’ve been flat out like a lizard drinking!
In “standard” English (there’s really no such thing!), to be flat out means to be trying your hardest or to be very busy.
Here are some examples…
Even though he was running flat out (trying his hardest), he didn’t win the race.
We were so flat out (busy) at work, I didn’t have time for lunch.
To be flat out also means to lie very flat on something.
Here’s an example of that meaning…
He was lying flat out on the sofa, fast asleep.
It’s a curious fact that lizards can’t swallow because of the inside shape of their mouths. When a lizard drinks, it has to push itself against the ground – lie flat out – and flick water down it throat with its tongue.
In Australia, we like to make our English sound more interesting by using unexpected comparisons or by replacing commonly used words with well-known but unexpected ones. When we’re very busy we often say, “I’m flat out (busy) like a lizard drinking (lying very flat).” This comparison doesn’t make any sense, but we Australians think it makes our speech sound more colourful.
Next time you feel you have too much to do, say “I’m flat out like a lizard drinking!” It’ll make you smile, and that’ll make your work just a little easier to get through!