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Related to Element 117: Element 118
be in (one's) element
To be doing something that one is very comfortable with or proficient in. My mother is in her element in the kitchen and can make just about any dish.
be out of (one's) element
To be uncomfortable in a certain situation, typically because one lacks experience or familiarity with it. She usually just orders takeout, so she's really out of her element in the kitchen. I know you're out of your element in this new school, but you'll make friends soon, and things will get better. I asked Alex to consult on this project because I'm out of my element here.
brave the elements
To go out into and endure bad or stormy weather. Usually used hyperbolically. Thank you for braving the elements to come pick me up. I know there's a slight drizzle, but if you can brave the elements, then you may go play outside for a while.
element of surprise
A method of stealth or secrecy employed to catch someone off-guard. I'll get mom to let me stay out till midnight, but I can't ask her now, when she's expecting it—I need the element of surprise. The fish camouflages itself and disappears onto the ocean floor, relying on the element of surprise to catch its prey.
in (one's) element
In the state of doing something that one is very comfortable with or proficient in. My mother is in her element in the kitchen and can make just about any dish. Look how effortlessly she skates. You can tell she's in her element.
out of (one's) element
Uncomfortable in a certain situation because it is not the one with which one has experience, familiarity, or expertise (i.e. one's "element"). She usually just orders takeout, so she's really out of her element in the kitchen. I know you're out of your element in this new school, but you'll make friends soon, and things will get better. I asked Alex to consult on this project because I'm out of my element here.
in one's element
Fig. in a natural or comfortable situation or environment. Sally is in her element when she's working with algebra or calculus. Bob loves to work with color and texture. When he's painting, he's in his element.
*out of one's element
Fig. not in a natural or comfortable situation. (*Typically: be ~; get ~.) When it comes to computers, I'm out of my element. Sally's out of her element in math.
brave the elements
Go out in stormy weather, as in We've just about run out of food; I'll brave the elements and walk to the store. The use of elements for atmospheric agencies dates from the early 16th century but is rare today except in this expression, which is often used hyperbolically.
in one's element
In an environment naturally suited to or associated with one; doing what one enjoys. For example, He's in his element when he's doing woodworking. This term alludes to one's natural abode, as does the antonym, out of one's element (used by Daniel Defoe in Robinson Crusoe, 1719: "When they came to make boards ... they were quite out of their element"). [Late 1500s] Also see in one's glory.
out of one's element
see under in one's element.
in your element
COMMON If you are in your element, you are doing something that you enjoy and do well. My stepmother was in her element, organizing everything. `The sale will now commence. We will proceed in steps of two hundred thousand,' declared Bunbury, who was in his element. Note: You can say that someone is out of their element when they are doing something that they do not enjoy and do not do well. He stayed in the trade eight years, but was bored by the work and felt out of his element. As I hadn't done much cooking recently I felt a bit out of my element in the kitchen. Note: Ancient and medieval philosophers believed that all substances were composed from the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. To be `in your element' is to be in your natural surroundings, like a bird in air or a fish in water.
in (or out of) your elementin (or out of) your accustomed or preferred environment, where you feel confident and at ease, often in performing a particular activity.
in your ˈelementdoing something that you enjoy and do well, especially with other similar people: Julie is in her element with anything mechanical. She just loves fixing things.
out of your ˈelementin a situation that you are not used to and that makes you feel uncomfortable: I feel out of my element talking about politics.
brave the elements, to
To go outdoors in bad weather. To face wind and rain with courage today seems rather an overstatement, but this archaic-sounding locution was common in the nineteenth century. “Brave you storm with firm endeavor, let your vain repinings go,” wrote the poet George Cooper (1838–1927).
See also: brave
in one's element
In one’s natural or most comfortable surroundings or occupation; happily situated. The Elizabethans were much concerned with the four elements—earth, water, air, and fire—and regarded these as the proper abode of both living creatures and inanimate objects. By Shakespeare’s time the terms were used figuratively as well, so that he could write, “Down, thou climbing sorrow! Thy element’s below” (King Lear, 1.4). To be out of one’s element, like a fish out of water, was also possible. “He is as much out of his Element, as an Eel in a Sandbag,” wrote Thomas Fuller (Gnomologia, 1732).