The Economy is Starting to Stall

Recently on the news the phrase:

The economy is starting to stall

was heard.


The phrases

The economy stalled


The economy is starting to stall.

are metaphors.

That means the language used in them is taken from another field of meaning.

Stalling and Slowing Down

The economy is starting to stall.


The economy is starting to slow down.

Cars and Aeroplanes

Machines like cars and aeroplanes stall. That means they suddenly stop while running.

A Plane Crash

A stalled aircraft is much more serious than a stalled car:

The plane stalled and then fell from the sky. There was a terrible explosion and everybody on board was killed.

Car Trouble

A stalled car is less serious than a stalled aircraft:

My car stalled at the lights but I managed to start it again and after that it was ok.

The car stalled

basically means

The car stopped without warning.

Paper Planes

Have you ever thrown a paper plane?

When you throw a paper plane it sometimes stalls. That means it flies upwards at an angle and then suddenly loses speed and drops from the air. This sudden falling or dropping is called stalling.

The Stalling of the Economy

When we talk about the economy stalling we mean the economy is not going as well as expected. It has suddenly stopped functioning.

Various Meanings of Stall

The word “stall” can also be a noun. Look at these phrases:

a stall for horses
a street stall
a roadside stall
a newspaper stall

Stables and Stalls

Animals like horses are generally kept in stables to protect them from harsh weather. In a good stable each horse has its own enclosed area which is called a stall. Look at these examples:

Put the horses in their stalls.

The horse kicked the door of the stall.

Horse Racing

Imagine a horse race. There are many horses. The horses are in stalls. The horses are ready to start a race.

A pistol fires. The race starts. The horses leave the stalls. One horse does not run. The horse stays in its stall. It is a non-starter. The horse is a non-starter. It does not start the race. The horse does not start the race. It stays in the stall. The horse stays in the stall.

We do not actually say “the horse stalled” but you could argue that the horse stayed in its stall instead of starting the race when the starter’s gun sounded.

When a car or plane stall, it means they stop suddenly but when a horse stays in its stall that means it has failed to start.

Breeding Horses

A stallion (male horse) was kept in a stall to breed. It did not have to work like workhorses. The word “stallion” is related to the word “stall”.

A Street Stall

A street stall is a makeshift shop in the street. It usually sells food or coffee or newspapers.

Weekly or monthly markets generally contain temporary stalls which are set up before the market opens and taken down after the market closes.

A Noodle Stall

A noodle stall is a temporary structure which a street vendor uses to sell noodles.

What kind of noodles do you like?
Do you prefer white noodles or yellow noodles?

A Fruit and Vegetable Stall

A fruit and vegetable stall is a (usually temporary) structure which sells fruit and vegetables.


A stall that sells coffee is a coffee stall.


A stall that sells newspapers is called a newspaper stall or a kiosk.

A newspaper stall (or kiosk) often sells tobacco too.


A stall that sells beer is called a beer stall.

The Verb – install

The aircon was installed.

When machines are put into a factory or building we say:

The machines have been installed.

Art Installations

An art installation is a type of exhibition or display where an artist sets up something for the public to see. For example a famous artist wrapped a bridge in paper. Another time an artist set a thousand umbrellas afloat on a lake.

An art installation is a public art display. It is usually temporary.

Links to More Vocabulary Lessons

Grammar – Passive Voice

Generalisations are not Universally True

Figurative Language – Metaphors

Leave A Comment...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.