Are there any differences in the meaning of or when we use the idioms 'snowed under' and 'be run/rushed off your feet'? The definitions in the Cambridge Dictionary are:

  • snowed under: having too much to do
  • be run/rushed off your feet: to be extremely busy

1 Answer 1

  • 'Snowed under' literally means buried in the snow. In this metaphorical use, it implies being 'buried' with work - having so much work heaped on top of you that you feel like you are metaphorically digging your way out of it.

  • 'Rushed off your feet' just implies you are very busy. It doesn't necessarily imply that you are behind on your work.

Some jobs involve a 'workload' that doesn't go away until you have finished, or caught up - such as a mountain of paperwork that must be dealt with and keeps getting added to. 'Snowed under' could describe this kind of work very well. But there are other jobs, such as food service, where the place of work closes at the end of the day and there is nothing waiting for employees on their next work day. Every day might be extremely busy, but there is no 'build-up' of work. 'Snowed under' doesn't really describe this kind of work, but they could certainly be 'rushed off their feet'. Likewise, 'rushed' suggests that you are having to work faster to cope with demand - that may not suit all contexts.

  • 1
    Some jobs (music performances, perhaps watch repairs) cannot be rushed, so a musician or a watchmaker would not describe themselves as "rushed off their feet". They might describe themselves as "snowed under" if they had too much work.
    – Peter
    Jul 6, 2022 at 13:49

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