Recently, some students asked me about two expressions which are common in everyday use: “vice versa” and “deer in the headlights.”
Deer in the headlights In rural and suburban U.S. areas, many deer are killed in accidents with vehicles. (Insurance companies report over 60,000 car-deer crashes per year in Michigan alone.) Deer do not know how to get out of the way of fast-moving vehicles; they often just stand in the roadway, mesmerized by the bright headlights of the oncoming traffic. In short, they freeze, unable to react.
If a person is unable to react to an intimidating situation—making a speech, answering an interview question, etc., we say he/she just “stood there like a deer in the headlights.”
Vice versa means “the other way around.” Here’s an example from a recent email to a colleague: “I have heard about a tutoring exchange for Spanish speakers who’d like to improve their English and vice versa. Do you know who does that? I know someone who’s interested in such a program.”
Here, this expression “and vice versa” means “and English speakers who’d like to improve their Spanish.”