Idiom of the week: NOT MY CUP OF TEA

Definition: If something is not your cup of tea, it is not the type of thing you like or are interested in.

Example: Thanks for inviting me, but concerts are not really my cup of tea.



This expression has is roots in Britain at the beginning of the 20th century. However, before that, at least as far back as the mid 18th century, the affirmative version was already in use. Actually, as a «cup of tea» meant acceptability, it was the name given to a favored friend. From its use in William de Morgan’s 1908 novel Somehow Good, one might assume that the expression started being used by the working class:

«He may be a bit hot-tempered and impulsive… otherwise, it’s simply impossible to help liking him.” To which Sally replied, borrowing an expression from Ann the housemaid, that Fenwick was a cup of tea. It was metaphorical and descriptive of invigoration.

In 1932, Nancy Mitford could use the expression in her comic novel Christmas Pudding, without any need of explanation:

“I’m not at all sure I wouldn’t rather marry Aunt Loudie. She’s even more my cup of tea in many ways.”

Gregory Titelman claims on his America’s Popular Proverbs and Sayings that the negative form has been in use since about the 1920s, but it appears to have caught on during the 1940s during World War II. Some say it might have been so because Americans in Britain didn´t share the love for tea with the British.  Later In 1944, Hal Boyle wrote in his column, Leaves From a War Correspondent’s Notebook that in England, «You don’t say someone gives you a pain in the neck. You just remark ‘He’s not my cup of tea.”