Thread: Idioms (A-Z)
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Old Monday, May 16, 2005
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Default Idioms(G-H)

G................................................. ...............................................

Gain ground
- go forward, make progress
The toy company has been gaining ground in their effort to sell more products.

Gang up on someone
- Attack in a group, get together to hurt someone
The school children tried to gang up on the boy but he ran away.

Gas up
- fill up a gas tank
We should gas up tonight before we leave on our holiday tomorrow.

Gee whiz
- used as an exclamation to show surprise or other strong feelings
Gee whiz! Are we really going to go to go to Disneyland for our holiday?

Get a break
- get an opportunity or good deal
I got a break when he sold the car for less than it was worth.

Get across
- explain, make something understood
I had a hard time trying to get across to him the importance of taking care of his computer discs.

Get a fix on something
- receive a reading of a distant object by electronic means
We were able to get a fix on the island and got the boat safely to the harbor.

Get a grip of oneself
- take control of oneís feelings
He finally got a grip of himself and calmed down.

Get after someone
- urge or make someone do something he should do but has neglected
Iíll get after him to fix the computer as soon as he returns.

Get ahead
- advance or be successful
She really works hard at her job in order to get ahead.

Get a kick out of
- enjoy
I think that my father got a kick out of seeing his old school friend.

Get a load of
- take a good look at, see something
Get a load of that man over there with the four big dogs.

Get along
- manage
He is able to get along on very little money.

Get along
- leave
Itís late so I must be getting along now.

Get along with someone
- have a good relationship with someone
I donít get along very well with the new woman I work with.

Get a move on
- hurry up
Please get a move on. We are already over three hours late.

Get a rise out of someone
- tease, have fun with someone by making him or her angry
We really got a rise out of the teacher when we left the windows open while it was raining.

Get around
- go to different places, move about
He really gets around. He has been to almost every state in the United States.

Get around to
- Finally find time to do something
The apartment manager finally got around to fixing the bath.

Get at
- mean
I really donít know what he was trying to get at during the meeting.

Get away
- succeed in leaving, escape
I was able to get away early from work today so I went shopping for awhile.

Get away from it all
- go on a holiday
We want to get away from it all this summer and go and relax somewhere.

Get away with murder
- do something very bad without being caught or punished
The child was able to get away with murder while the substitute teacher was at the school.

Get away with something
- do something one shouldnít and not get caught at it
The criminal got away with the robbery and was never caught.

Get a wiggle on
- hurry up, get going
Get a wiggle on. We have to arrive at the party before the other guests arrive.

Get a word in
- find a chance to say something when others are talking
The customer couldnít get a word in while talking to the salesman so he decided to go to another company.

Get a word in edgewise
- manage to break into a conversation
I couldnít get a word in edgewise so I left the meeting.

Get back
- return
We got back from London early yesterday afternoon.

Get back at
- do something bad to someone who has done something bad to you, hurt someone in return for something
She is very angry at her boyfriend and is getting back at him by not answering the telephone.

Get behind
- go slow while doing something is late
If you get behind in the homework you will never be able to pass the course.

Get behind (a person or idea)
- Support, help
They decided to get behind the main candidate when he promised to cut taxes.

Get by
- satisfy your needs or demands (usually related to money)
He is able to easily get by on his salary because he doesnít spend a lot of money.

Get cold feet
- become afraid at the last minute
He got cold feet and cancelled his plan to go to China.

Get cracking
- hurry up, start moving fast, and get started
We will have to get cracking on this work if we want to finish it before dinner.

Get (someone) down
- Make (someone) unhappy, cause discouragement
The long commuting time has begun to get her down so she wants to quit her job.

Get down to
- get started on
Letís get down to work so we can go home early.

Get down to brass tacks
- begin discussing the essential matters immediately
Letís get down to brass tacks and begin to deal with the business at hand.

Get even
- get revenge
He seems to want to get even with him for their past problems.

- The beginning
Right from the get-go I never liked the way that the new manager acted.

Get (someoneís) goat
- annoy someone
He has been getting my goat recently and I am tired of him.

Get going
- excite, stir up and make angry
Once he gets going he will never stop complaining.

Get hold of (something)
- get possession of

When you get hold of a dictionary could you please let me see it for a few minutes?

Get hold of (someone)

- find a person so you can speak with him or her

I tried to get hold of him last week but he was out of town.

Get in on the ground floor
- start at the beginning (in hopes of future gain)
He managed to get in on the ground floor of the new company.

Get in touch with someone
- contact someone
Iíll get in touch with him when I arrive in New York in August.

Get in the swing of things
- adapt to a new environment or situation
He got into the swing of things after the party started.

Get it all together
- be in full control and possession of oneís mental faculties
He finally got it all together and applied for the job at the supermarket.

Get it through oneís head
- understand, believe
He has got it through his head that he will get a job easily without really making an effort.

Get lost!
- go away
She told her younger brother to get lost so she could finish her homework.

Get mixed up
- become confused
Iím sorry but I got mixed up with the dates. Thatís why I came today.

Get off
- come down from or out of (a bus or train etc.)
We decided to get off the train at the station next to our regular station.

Get off easy
- escape a worse punishment
The criminals got off easy even though they robbed the bank.

Get off oneís back
- leave someone alone and not bother them
I wish that the supervisor would get off my back.

Get off oneís butt
- get busy, start working
He should get off his butt and try and get a job so he will have some money.

Get off on the wrong foot
- make a bad start
I got off on the wrong foot with him and our relationship never really recovered.

Get off the ground
- make a successful beginning, go ahead
His new business never really got off the ground so he must look for another job.

Get oneís dander up
- become or make angry
You shouldnít talk to him early in the morning or you will get his dander up.

Get oneís feet wet
- begin, do something for the first time
He has managed to get his feet wet in the publishing business and is ready to start his own business now.

Get oneís own way
- cause people to do what you want
He always gets his own way with his younger brothers.

Get oneís rear in gear
- hurry up, get going
Letís hurry up and get our rear in gear before it is too late to go to a movie.

Get on in years
- To advance in age
He is getting on in years and is not very healthy.

Get on oneís high horse
- behave with arrogance
He is back on his high horse and has started giving orders to everyone.

Get on oneís nerves
- irritate someone
His constant complaining is beginning to get on my nerves.

Get out of bed on the wrong side
- be in a bad mood
I think that she got out of bed on the wrong side this morning as she hasnít said a word to anyone yet.

Get out from under
- escape a situation that one doesnít like
I would like to get out from under my boss always watching my work.

Get out of hand
- lose control
The going away party was beginning to get out of hand so they asked everyone to leave.

Get out of the way
- be no longer an obstacle

He was unable to get out of the way of the truck and was injured.

Get over something
- overcome a difficulty; recover from an illness or shock
She has been having a lot of trouble getting over her fatherís death.

Get (something) over with

- Finish, end

He wants to get his exams over with so that he can begin to relax again.

Get ready
- prepare yourself
First I must get ready for work, and then I will help you.

Get rid of something
- give or throw something away, sell or destroy something, make a cold or fever disappear
I bought a new television set so I had to get rid of the old one.

Get set
- get ready to start
We are working hard to get set for her wedding ceremony.

Get the ax
- be fired
He got the ax last week and now has no job.

Gets the ball rolling?
- start something
Letís get the ball rolling and start working.

Get the better of (someone)
- win against, beat, defeat

He got the better of me and won the tennis match.

Get the feel of

- become used to or learn about something

After you get the feel of the new computer it will be very easy to use.

Get the goods on someone

- find out true and often bad information about someone

I think that I have finally got the goods on him and will have to talk to the police as soon as possible.

Get the message

- understand clearly what is meant

I told him three times but I donít think that he really gets the message.

Get the sack
- be fired or dismissed from work
I told him that if he doesnít change his work habits he will get the sack from his job.

Get the show on the road
- start working on something
Letís get the show on the road and begin work for the day.

Get the worst of
- be defeated or beaten, suffer most
He got the worst of the deal when the salesman sold him the used car.

Get through
- succeed in passing an exam or ordeal
She has been having trouble getting through her final exams.

Get through to
- be understood by, make (someone) understand
I tried talking to her but I couldnít really get through to her.

Get to
- have a chance to, be able to
I didnít get to see her last year but maybe I will have a chance this year.

Get to first base
- make a good start, succeed
I tried to meet the sales manager of the company but I couldnít get to first base.

Get to the bottom of
- find out the real cause
The government is trying to get to the bottom of the financial problems in the company.

Get to the heart of
- understand the most important thing about something
We were in the meeting for three hours trying to get to the heart of the matter.

Get under oneís skin
- bother someone, upset someone

She always gets under my skin although I donít really know why I donít like her.

Get up
- get out of bed, get to oneís feet
I decided to get up early today so that I would be able to go fishing with my friend.

- Fancy dress or costume
What was that strange getup that she was wearing the other day?

- Energy, enthusiasm, drive
He has lots of get-up-and-go and it is difficult to follow him around.

Get up on the wrong side of the bed
- be in a bad mood
He got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning and wonít talk to anyone.

Get up the nerve

- become brave enough
I tried to get up the nerve to ask him about the new job.

Get whatís coming to one
- receive the good or bad that one deserves
He got what was coming to him when he was sent to jail for two years.

Get wind of

- hear about something
I got wind of the company expansion from my friend.

Get wise to something/somebody
- learn about something kept secret
He finally got wise to the fact that they were stealing his money.

Get with it
- pay attention, get busy
I told him to get with it or he would get in trouble with the boss.

(Not a) ghost of a chance
- Very little, (not even) the smallest chance
He doesnít have a ghost of a chance to finish the book in time for his class.

Gift of the gab
- be good at talking
He has a real gift of the gab and is great at parties.

Give (someone) a hard time
- make trouble for someone, tease
She was giving her boyfriend a hard time about his new haircut.

- sharing, giving and receiving back and forth between people
You must be willing to give-and-take if you want to have a good marriage.

- An open secret, a sale where items are sold very cheap
His speech was a giveaway. Now I know that he is planning to retire.

Give away
- give something to someone
I decided to give away my bicycle because I didnít need it anymore.

Give away
- let (a secret) become known
I tried to stop her before she gave away my plans to go to Mexico for a holiday.

Give a wide birth to
- keep away from, keep a safe distance from
I usually give a wide birth to my boss when he is angry.

Give chase
- chase or run after someone or something

The police gave chase to the man who robbed the store.

Give free rein to
- allow to move about or to do something with freedom
He was given free rein in his new job to do what he wanted.

Give ground
- move back, retreat, stop opposing someone
He refused to give ground on his plans to change the system of office management.

Give in
- give someone his own way, stop opposing someone
The company gave in to the unionís demand for more money.

Give it to
- punish, scold
He really gave it to his son when he came back late with the car.

Give off
- send out, let out, put forth
The garbage was beginning to give off a bad smell because of the hot weather.

Give one away

- Show guilt, show one has done wrong

She gave herself away when she said that she hadnít seen her boyfriend but he had already said that he had met her earlier.

Give one up

- Surrender, stop hiding or running away

The robbers gave themselves up when the police surrounded the house.

Give one up to

- let oneself enjoy, not hold one back from

He gave himself up to enjoy the party although he was feeling sick.

Give oneís right arm

- give something of great value

I would give my right arm to be able to go to Italy with the rest of the group.

Give or take
- Plus or minus a small amount
I think that he is about 45 years old give or take 5 years.

Give out
- give to people, distribute
We gave out more than 600 free baseball caps at the shopping center.

Give out

- fail

We went hiking last week but my legs gave out so we had to return early.

Give out

- be finished, be gone

We went on a week-long backpacking trip but our food gave out after only three days.

Give out
- Let escape
She gave out a loud yell when she saw the big spider.

Give pause to
- cause one to stop and think
His problems should give you pause to think a little more carefully about what you do.

Give rise to
- be the cause of something
The problems with the heating system gave rise to a lot of other problems that we had to solve.

Give someone a hand
- help someone with something
Please give me a hand to move this piano.

Give someone an inch and they will take a mile

- If you give someone a little they will want more and more, some people are never satisfied

If you give him an inch he will take a mile so you shouldnít give him any more money.

Give someone a piece of your mind

- scold or become angry with someone

When I met her yesterday I really gave her a piece of my mind.

Give someone enough rope and they will hang themselves

- give someone enough time and freedom to do what they want and they will make a mistake or get into trouble and be caught

Donít worry about trying to control him. If you give him enough rope he will hang himself.

Give someone oneís word

- make a promise or assurance

He gave me his word that he would meet me at the library.

Give someone the ax

- fire an employee (usually abruptly)

He gave the new employee the ax because he was always late.

Give someone the benefit of the doubt

- believe someone is innocent rather than guilty when you are not sure

I gave him the benefit of the doubt but I still think that he is a liar.

Give someone the cold shoulder
- be unfriendly to someone
He gave her the cold shoulder at the party.

Give someone the eye
- look or stare at someone (especially in a cold or unfriendly way)
The man in the store began to give me the eye so I left.

Give someone the green light
- give permission to go ahead with a project
He has been given the green light to begin work on the new housing plan.

Give someone their due
- give someone the credit that they deserve
You have to give him his due. He has successfully saved the company from bankruptcy.

Give someone the slip
- escape from someone
The bank robbers were able to give the police the slip at first but they were soon caught.

Give the devil his due
- be fair (even to someone who is bad and who you dislike)
I donít like to work with him at all as I think he is lazy. Still you have to give the devil his due because he always gets the job done.

Give it your best shot
- try very hard

Although he didnít have enough experience he decided to apply for the job and give it his best shot.

Give to understand

- make a person understand by telling him very plainly or boldly

I was given to understand that I could rent an apartment very easily here.

Give up
- Abandon, stop
He has decided to give up his plan to work in Hong Kong for a year.

Give up the ghost
- Stop working, die
My old car finally gave up the ghost so I must buy another one.

(Donít) give up the ship
- (donít) stop fighting and surrender, (donít) stop trying or hoping to do something
Please donít give up the ship and quit this company. I am sure you still have a useful role to play.

Give voice to
- tell what one feels or thinks
He has begun to give voice to his feelings about the new office building.

Give way
- Collapse, fail
The dam gave way and the water flooded the farmland below.

Glad hand
- A friendly handshake, a warm greeting
The politician spent the morning glad handing the people at the shopping center.

Gloss over
- try to make what is wrong or bad seem right or not important, hide
The accountant tried to gloss over the money that they lost last year.

Go about
- be busy with, start working on
He has been going about his business all morning although he is feeling sick.

Go after
- try to get
The police decided to go after the people who were speeding near the school.

Go ahead
- begin to do something, not wait
Letís go ahead and start now. We canít wait for him any longer.

Go along
- move along, continue
He invented the story as he went along.

Go along
- agree, co-operate
They went along with his idea about having a party on the weekend.

Go ape
- become very excited or behave in a crazy way
He went ape when he heard about the money that I had spent.

Go around
go from one place or person to another
We decided to go around from one shop to another until we found a good present.

Go around in circles
- Without getting anywhere, uselessly
He has been going around in circles for weeks now and still hasnít made any progress with his essay.

Go at
- fight with, attack, and argue
When I entered the room they were going at it loudly.

Go at it hammer and tongs
- fight with great strength or energy, have a bad argument
They were going at it hammer and tongs when the police came to their house.

Go back on
- turn against, not be faithful to
He promised not to go back on his word about the discount tickets.

Go broke
- lose all of oneís money
His company went broke so he quickly lost his job.

Go Dutch
- Two people each pay for themselves
We always go Dutch when we go on a date.

Go for
- try to get, try for

I have decided to go for the new job at the computer center.

Go for broke
- risk everything on one big effort, try as hard as possible
They are going for broke trying to win the new contract.

Go from bad to worse

- get worse, deteriorate

Things are going from bad to worse in the company.


- A person who works hard to become successful, an ambitious person

He is a go-getter. He always works hard and has lots of money because of that.

Go great guns

- do something very fast or very hard, successfully

The workers were going great guns fixing the building when I saw them this morning.

Go halves

- share equally

We have decided to go halves on buying a new computer.

Go haywire

- become damaged, stop working properly

At first everything was going well but later all the plans began to go haywire.

Go in for

- decide to do (something), take part in

He is going to university and has decided to go in for medicine.

Going for (someone)

- In oneís favor

She should do very well as she has many good things going for her.

Go into orbit

- lose oneís temper, become very angry

He went into orbit when he heard about the missing money.

Go jump in a lake

- go away and quit bothering someone

She asked me to borrow some money but I told her to go jump in a lake because she never paid me back before.

Golden opportunity

- Excellent and rare opportunity

The heat wave was a golden opportunity for the ice cream seller to make money.

Good deal

- Good quality and a cheap price

You can usually get a good deal on stereos at that discount store.

Good grief!

- used to show surprise (good or bad)

Good grief! Itís 60 and I have not finished this job yet.

good riddance

- used when you lose something and you are happy about it

Good riddance he said when the computer broke down and he had to buy another one.

good riddance to bad rubbish

- used to show you are glad that someone or something has been taken or sent away

Good riddance to bad rubbish! I never liked him and I am glad that he has finally left.

good sport

- Person who loses well

He is a very good sport and never complains about losing.

Go off

- leave, depart

He went off on a trip and he never even bothered to phone and say good-bye.

Go off

- explode, be ignited

The firecracker went off in his hand before he had a chance to put it down.

Go off

- begin to ring or buzz

The fire alarm started to go off just as we entered the building.

Go off half-cocked
- act or speak before being ready
He always goes off half-cocked when he is at a meeting.

Go off the deep end
- give way to emotion
He went off the deep end when he saw the picture in the paper.

Goof off
- fool around, not work or be serious
He has been goofing off all afternoon and has not got any work done.

Go on
- continue
The game went on for about an hour after I left.

Go on
- talk for too long
He started to go on about his problems so I finally left.

Go on
- put on, fit on

The top of the jar wouldnít go on so I threw it away.

Go (someone) one better
- does something better than someone else, do more or be better than someone
I decided to go him one better and buy a bigger present for my girlfriend.

Go oneís own way
- go or act the way one wants
He has decided to go his own way and will start his own business next year.

Go out of oneís way
- make an extra effort
She went out of her way to help me when I visited her in October.

Go out the window
- be abandoned, go out of effect
The school dress code went out the window when the new principal took over

Go out with (someone)
- date or be dating someone
She went out with him for two years before they got married.

Go over
- examine
The accountant will come to go over the books tomorrow.

Go over well
- be liked, be successful
I am sure that the party will go over well. You have done a lot of preparation for it.

Go overboard
- do something in excess
He really went overboard with the birthday party.

Go steady
- go on dates with the same person all the time, date just one person
My sister has been going steady with the same person for two years.

Go straight
- become an honest person, lead an honest life
He was in prison for awhile but has recently decided to go straight.

Got a thing going
- be engaged in a pleasurable activity with someone else as a partner (in romance or business)
He has a thing going with computer repairs and is making a lot of extra money.

Go the whole hog
- make a thorough job of something
They really went the whole hog in their efforts to welcome the foreign visitors.

Go through

- examine or think about carefully, search

The police went through his house to look for a gun.

Go through

- experience, suffer, and live through

He has been through many hard times since he lost his job.

Go through

- be allowed, pass, and be agreed upon

The law finally went through Congress last week.

Go through changes

- be involved in changing circumstances

She has been going through many changes since her divorce.

Go through with

- finish, do as planned or agreed

He has decided to go through with his plans to go back to school.

Go to oneís head

- become conceited

His new position has really gone to his head and he wonít speak to us any longer.

Go to pieces

- lose your self-control

She went to pieces when she received the letter about her fatherís death.

Go to pot

- deteriorate

The business has really gone to pot since he became president.

Go to rack and ruin

- reach a very bad state of repair

The building has gone to rack and ruin since the new owners took over.

Go to town

- work fast or hard, do something with much energy

They really went to town last night and finished painting the bedroom.

Go up in smoke/flames

- burn or be destroyed by fire, fail, not come true (dreams)

His plans to open a new restaurant have gone up in smoke since he lost his job.

Go without saying

- be so easy to see that it doesnít have to be mentioned

He is a hard worker so it goes without saying that his boss is very happy with him.

Grasp at straws

- try something with little hope of succeeding; depend on something that is useless in a time of trouble

He is grasping at straws. He will never find enough money to pay next monthís rent.

Grass is always greener on the other side

- A place or thing that is far away or different seems better than what we have or where we are

She is always moving or changing jobs as she thinks that the grass is always greener on the other side.

Gravy train

- Job that gives one a lot of money compared with what you do

The cleaning contract was really a gravy train. We only worked for 3 hours but we got paid for 8 hours.

Grease oneís palm

- give money or pay for some special favor

We had to grease the border guardís palm in order to enter the country.

Greasy spoon

- A small, cheap eating place with basic but not-so-good food

We had to go to a greasy spoon for breakfast as all the other restaurants were closed.


- be inexperienced or immature

He is a little green and doesnít know the job very well.

Green thumb

- Skill in making plants grow

He has a real green thumb and has a beautiful garden.

Green with envy

- Very jealous, full of envy

The little girl was green with envy when she saw her friendís new bicycle.

Grind to a halt

- slow down and stop (like a machine when it is turned off)

The city ground to a halt when the power went off for five hours.

Ground floor

- The first or best chance - especially in a business

The video store was a good investment so I was happy to get in on the ground floor.

Gum up
- cause not to work, ruin something, and make something go wrong
The computer printer seemed to have become gummed up just as I was about to print my resume.

Gun for someone
- look hard for a chance to harm or defeat someone
My supervisor has been gunning for me for a long time but I donít really know why.

Gun for something
- try very hard to get (prize or promotion etc.)
He has been gunning for the new sales job for a long time.

- Enthusiastic, full of eagerness
She is really gung-ho about her new job at the library.

H................................................. ...............................................

Had better

- should do something

Iíd better go now or Iíll be late for class.

Hair stand on end

- become frightened or afraid of something

My hair stood on end when I saw the aftermath of the automobile accident.

Hale and hearty

- In very good health, well and strong

My uncle is a hale and hearty fellow who never gets sick.


- Foolish

I didnít really like his half-baked idea about the new delivery system.

Half the battle

- A large part of the work

Sending the letters out will be half the battle. We can finish the rest of the work next week.

Hammer out

- remove; work out by discussion and debate

The union and managers were able to hammer out an agreement before midnight last night.

Hand down

- arrange to give something to someone after your death

My grandmother handed down her silver jeweler to my mother.

Hand in

- Give to someone, hand to someone

I went to the company early to hand in my job application.

Hand it to (someone)

- give credit or praise to someone

You have to hand it to him - he worked hard and was very successful with his business.

Handle with kid gloves

- be very careful handling someone or something

He is very sensitive so you have to handle him with kid gloves when you speak to him.


- Something given away after another person doesnít need it (especially clothing)

She was very poor when she was a child and always wore hand-me-down clothing.

Hand out

- give things of the same kind to several people

The teacher decided not to hand out the tests until everyone in the class stopped talking.


- A gift - usually from the government

The government stopped giving hand-outs to the university students as they said they had no money.

- Sheet of paper given to students or people who attend a meeting etc.
Everyone at the meeting was given a hand-out on how to save and invest money.

Hand over

- give control or possession to someone, give something to another person

The criminals were forced to hand over the stolen money to the police.

Hand over fist

- Rapidly

His new company is making money hand over fist.

(Oneís) hands are tied

- Unable to help

Iím sorry that I canít help you with the job but my hands are tied at the moment.

Hands down

- Easy, unopposed

They won the game hands down over the other team.

Hands off

- leave alone, donít interfere

The government decided to take a hands-off approach to the teachers during the strike.

Hand something to someone on a silver platter

- give a person something that has not been earned

He was handed a great job on a silver platter and never had to make any effort at all.

Hand to mouth

- having only enough money for basic living

He was living a hand to mouth existence until he was finally able to find a job.

Handwriting on the wall

- A sign that something bad will happen

The handwriting is on the wall. Business conditions are bad so probably nobody will get a pay raise this year.


- can easily fix things

He is very handy around the house and is always fixing or building something.

Hang around

- Pass time or stay someplace without any real purpose or aim

We decided to stay home and hang around on Sunday rather than go out to the game.

Hang back

- stay some distance behind or away, hesitate or be unwilling to do something

He lacks self-confidence and always hangs back when his boss asks for volunteers.

Hang by a thread

- be in doubt, depend on a very small thing

The outcome of the election hung by a thread until the last two or three hours.

Hang in the balance

- have two equally possible results, be uncertain

After the opposition party won the election whether or not the new highway will be built hangs in the balance.

Hang in (there)

- persevere, donít give up

You should hang in there and donít quit your job just because you donít like the supervisor.

Hang it!

- A rather old expression used to express annoyance or disappointment

"Hang it", he said when he hit his finger with the hammer.

Hang on

- continue

Although business was very bad he decided to hang on and fight to keep his business going.

Hang on

- wait, continue listening on the telephone

Hang on for a minute while I go and get some paper and a pen.

Hang one on

- get very drunk

He really hung one on last night after he heard about his promotion.

Hang on to

- hold tightly, keep firmly

Please hang on to your hats or the strong wind will blow them off.

Hang out

- spend oneís time idly or lounging about, spend time with someone or a group of people

Recently his brother has been hanging out with a group of people who are not a good influence on him.

Hang out oneís shingle

- Notify the public of the opening of an office - especially a doctorís or lawyerís office

He has decided to hang out his own shingle now that he has graduated from law school.

Hang up

- Place on a hook, peg or hangar

Everyone was forced to hang up their jackets before they entered the room.

Hang up

- place a telephone receiver back on the telephone and break the connection

After he hung up the telephone he left to go to work.


- A delay in some process

There was a hang-up in the construction of the office tower because of the fire.


- An inhibition, a neurotic reaction to some life situation

She has a serious hang-up about the dark and is afraid to go out alone at night.

Happy hour

- A time in bars or restaurants when drinks are served at a discount

We stopped at the restaurant during happy hour and had a couple of drinks.

Hard and fast rule

- Rules that cannot be altered to fit special cases

There is no hard and fast rule that says you canít use a cellular phone in the train.

Hard as nails

- Physically very fit and strong, rough, stern

He is as hard as nails and is not a good person to have an argument with.

Hard feelings

- Anger or bitterness

I donít have any hard feelings toward him even though he fired me.


- Not weak or soft, stubborn - especially in a fight, contest or negotiations

The company had a hard-nosed attitude while bargaining with the union.

Hard nut to crack

- A person or thing not easily understood or influenced

He is a hard nut to crack and is not close to many people.

Hard on (someone/something)

- treat something/someone roughly

His son is very hard on shoes.

Hard pressed

- burdened with urgent business

I am a little hard pressed for time. Can we meet later?

Hard sell

- selling something very aggressively and with great eagerness

I didnít like their hard sell attitude at the car dealership so I went to another dealer.

Hard up

- Short of money

I am hard up for money at the moment so I canít go to the movie.

Harp on

- talk repeatedly and tediously about something

He has been harping on his lack of money for a few months now.


- Bothersome

It is a real hassle to have to report to him two times a day.

Hatchet man

- A politician etc. whose job it is to say negative things about the opposition, a person in a company who must fire extra workers or cut other expenses etc.

He is acting as a hatchet man for the leader but I donít think that he really believes what he is saying.

Hate oneís guts

- feel very strong dislike for someone

I absolutely hate her guts after she caused me so many problems at my company.

Have a ball

- have a good time

She had a ball at the party last night.

Have a crush on

- be attracted to someone

Her sister has had a crush on him for a long time.

Have a fit

- become upset

She had a fit when she saw what her son did to the car.

Have a go at

- try something especially after others have tried it

I decided to have a go at applying for the job after my boss recommended me.

Have a hand in

- be partly responsible for something

I think that she had a hand in getting her friend fired from her job.

Have a head on oneís shoulders

- be smart or sensible

That new salesman really has a head on his shoulders.

Have an edge on

- have an advantage (over someone)

Their team has an edge on the race to win the high school football championship.

Have an eye for

- have good taste in something, be able to judge correctly

She has an eye for nice furniture and her apartment is absolutely beautiful.

(Not) have anything to do with someone

- (not) want to be a friend of or work or have business with someone

My father will not have anything to do with the salesman because he sold him the faulty car.

Have a screw loose

- act in a strange way, be foolish

He is a really strange person. I think that he has a screw loose somewhere.

Have a time

- have trouble, have a hard time

She really had a time last night when her car stopped working completely

Have a time

- have a good time, have fun

We really had a time at the party last night.

Have a way with

- be able to lead, persuade or influence others

The little girl really has a way with horses. They are very gentle when she is around.

Have a word with

- Converse briefly

I will have a word with him before he goes home tonight.

Have been around

- have been to many places and done many things, be experienced

My brother has really been around and has been overseas many times.

Have dibs on

- demand a share of something or be in line to use something

I have dibs on the computer and would like to use it as soon as possible.

Have egg on oneís face

- be embarrassed

He really has egg on his face after finding out about his mistake.

Have eyes only for

- give all oneís attention to, be interested only in

She has eyes only for her boyfriend.

Have half a mind

- feel tempted or inclined to do something

I have half a mind to go and offer my resignation to the president.

Have had it (with someone or something)

- canít tolerate anymore

I have really had it with her constant complaining.

Have in mind

- intend, plan

What do you have in mind for your wifeís birthday?

Have it

- hear or get news, understand

I have it that the new president will be coming to see us next week.

Have it

- claim, say

Rumor has it that three of the supervisors will be leaving next week.

Have it

- allow (usually used with will or would)

We wanted to have a party at our office next month but our boss wonít have it.

Have it

- get or find the answer

I think I finally have it. The reason she is leaving is because she is going to have a baby.

Have it both ways

- do two things, have both things

You canít have it both ways. You must choose one or the other.

Have it coming

- deserve a punishment

He really has it coming to him after causing the problems in the company.

Have it in for someone

- show ill will or dislike a person

I have been having problems at work recently because I think that the new supervisor has it in for me.

Have it made

- be successful, have everything

He really has it made with his new job.

Have it out with someone

- settle or discuss something with someone angrily

I had it out with her yesterday over the problem with the money.

Have on

- be wearing something

What did she have on when you last saw her?

Have oneís ass in a sling

- be in an uncomfortable predicament, be at a disadvantage

He really has his ass in a sling now that he has quit his job and canít find another one.

Have oneís eye on

- have a wish for something, have as an aim, look or think about something

I want to buy a nice present for my girlfriend so I have my eye on a nice dress that I saw at the department store last week.

Have oneís feet on the ground

- be practical or sensible

The new sales manager really has his feet on the ground.

Have oneís heart set on something

- want something very much

The child has his heart set on getting a new bicycle for his birthday.

Have over

- invite someone to your house

We will have you over when we settle into our new house.

Have rocks in oneís head

- be stupid, not have good judgment

She really has rocks in her head. She should never have bought that old car.

Have (something) going for one

- have ability, talent or good looks

She has a lot going for her and I am sure that she will get the new job.

Have something on someone

- have information or proof that someone did something wrong

I think that the police have something on him and that is why he wants to quit his job.

Have something on the ball

- be smart, clever, and skilled

She really has a lot on the ball. She should do well in whatever she chooses to do.

Have something up oneís sleeve

- Something kept secretly ready for the right time

Iím not too worried about the meeting as I have something up my sleeve if they try to cause any more problems.

Have sticky fingers

- be a thief

He was fired because of his sticky fingers at the cash register.

Have the last laugh

- make someone seem foolish for having laughed at you first

I had the last laugh when I was able to get home early while everyone else had to stay overnight at the airport because of the storm.

Have (got) to

- Obliged or forced to, must

I have to leave at 4 oíclock or I will be late for my appointment.

Have to do with

- be about or on the subject or connected with something

The book has something to do with cooking but I am not sure if you will like it.

Have two strikes against one

- have things working against one, be in a difficult situation

He already has two strikes against him and it will be very difficult for him to get the job.


- Broken or confused

The plan went haywire when their directions became confused.

Head above water

- Out of difficulty, clear of trouble

Although he works very hard he is not able to keep his head above water financially.


- Search for qualified individuals to fill certain positions

The head-hunting company has phoned me several times about getting a new job.

Head in the clouds

- daydreaming

He always has his head in the clouds and can never answer a question easily.

Head off

- get in front of and stop, turn back

In the western movie the soldiers went to head off the gang at the mountain pass.

Head off

- block, stop, prevent

They were able to head off a strike by the union at the last minute.


- Front end to front end, with the front facing

There was a serious head-on crash on the highway last night.


- In a way that is exactly opposite, opposed to someone in an argument or fight

They decided to deal with their opponents in a head-on manner in order to win the battle.

Head out

- leave, start out

It is time that we head out for the movie now or we will be late.

Head over heels

- Upside down, head first

He fell head over heels when his bicycle hit the wall.

Head over heels

- Completely, deeply

She fell head over heels in love with the guy that she met at the party.

Head shirker

- Psychiatrist

The criminal had to go and see a head shrinker after the judge sentenced him to life in prison.

Head start

- To leave or start something before others

They left early in order to get a head start on the trip.

Head up

- be at the head of (a group), a leader

The president headed up a group of people going overseas to promote trade.

Hear from

- receive a letter/phone call/news from someone

I havenít heard from my university roommate for over one year.

Heart goes out to someone

- One feels sympathy for someone

My heart went out to the victims of the railway accident.

Heart is in the right place

- be kindhearted, sympathetic, have good intentions

He makes some serious mistakes sometimes but his heart is in the right place.

Heart of gold

- A kind, generous or forgiving personality

My grandmother has a heart of gold and everyone loves her.

Heart of stone

- Someone with a nature with no pity

She has a heart of stone and is not at all interested in how other people feel.

Heart skips a beat

- be startled or excited from surprise, joy or fright

My heart skipped a beat when the truck almost hit us last night.

Heart stands still

- be very frightened or worried

My heart stood still when I heard the story about the little boy and the fire.


- Honest or intimate

They had a heart-to-heart talk before they decided to get married.

Heavy heart

- A feeling of sadness or unhappiness

He seems to have a heavy heart now that his wife has died.

Hedge in

- keep from getting out or moving freely, block in

My car was hedged in by the other cars and I was unable to move it this morning.

Hell and high water

- Troubles or difficulties of any kind

They went through hell and high water in order to get the food to the flood victims.


- A short-tempered, nagging or crabby person

She is hell-on-wheels in the morning so you should be careful of her.


- In a confusing group, in disorder

When we arrived at work we found all of the files scattered helter-skelter over the floor.

Hem and haw

- avoid giving a clear answer, be evasive in speech

He hemmed and hawed when I asked him if he knew where the missing money was.

Here and now

- Immediately

I want you to do that work right here and now.

Here and there

- In various places, go to various places

We went here and there during our holidays.

Here goes

- Ready to begin while hoping for the best

Well, here goes. I am going to go and ask her for a date right now.

Here goes nothing

- Ready to begin - but it will be a waste of time and will probably fail

Here goes nothing. I have already asked him to lend me some money and he always says no but Iíll try again.

Hide (bury) oneís head in the sand

- keep from knowing something dangerous or unpleasant

He hates to talk about important matters and hides his head in the sand when I try to talk to him.

High and dry

- stranded, out of the current of events

They left him high and dry when they moved the company to Europe.

High and low

- Every place

We looked high and low for her watch but we couldnít find it.

High and mighty

- Arrogant

He has a high and mighty attitude to all of his employees.

High gear

- Top speed, full activity

The preparations for his visit have been going in high gear all week.


- Bossy, dictatorial, depending on force rather than what is right

My supervisor always takes a high-handed approach when dealing with her employees.

(The) high life

- A luxurious existence

They have been living the high life since they moved to Las Vegas.

High seas

- The ocean (away from the coast)

The crew of the ship spent three months on the high seas before going to shore for a visit.

(Be in) high spirits

- have energy, be cheerful

They are in high spirits since their home team won the tournament.

High time

- The time before something should already have been done

It is high time that we spent some time cleaning up our house.

Highway robbery

- An extremely high price for something

The price that we had to pay for the theater tickets was highway robbery.

Hire out

- accept a job, take employment

He decided to hire himself out as a dancer while he was going to school.

Hire out

- rent to someone

We rented out our boat last summer because we were too busy to use it.

Hit and miss

- Unplanned, uncontrolled, aimless, careless

We are looking for a new apartment but it seems to be hit and miss whether we can find a good one.


- An accident where the driver of the car drives away without leaving his address

My sister was involved in a hit-and-run accident last Sunday afternoon.


- striking suddenly and leaving quickly

The army made a hit-and-run attack on the enemy soldiers.

Hit bottom

- be at the very lowest, not be able to go any lower

The economy hit bottom last year but is finally starting to improve.

Hitch oneís wagon to a star

- Aim high, follow a great ambition or purpose

He wants to hitch his wagon to a star and pursue his dreams of becoming an actor.

Hither and thither

- In one direction and then in another

He looked hither and thither when he discovered that he had lost his wallet.

Hit it off with someone

- get along well with someone

We really hit it off at the party.

Hit on/upon

- find what you want or think of something by chance

We hit upon the idea of going to the lake for our holiday after our airline reservations were cancelled.

Hit parade

- A list of songs arranged in order of popularity

We listened to all the songs on the hit parade last night.

Hit someone between the eyes

- make a strong impression on someone, surprise greatly

Her incredible performance really hit me between the eyes.

Hit the books

- study or prepare for class

He stayed home all weekend and hit the books.

Hit the bottle

- drink alcohol (usually a negative meaning)

She started to hit the bottle soon after her divorce.

Hit the bullís-eye

- go to the most important part of a matter, reach the main question

She hit the bullís-eye when she suggested that decreasing costs was more important than increasing sales.

Hit the ceiling

- get angry

His wife is going to hit the ceiling when she sees the bill for the car repair.

Hit the deck

- get up from bed, start working

Letís hit the deck and get this work done before supper.

Hit the dirt

- fall on the ground and take cover under gunfire

We were told to hit the dirt during the bank robbery.

Hit the hay

- go to bed

I decided to hit the hay early last night because I was very tired.

Hit the high spots

- consider or mention only the more important parts of something

He only had time to hit the high spots in his report but still it was very interesting.

Hit the jackpot

- be very lucky or successful

She hit the jackpot when she went to Las Vegas last weekend.

Hit the nail on the head

- make a correct guess or analysis

He really hit the nail on the head when he wrote the report about the bankís problems.

Hit the road

- Leave - usually in a car

We should hit the road early tomorrow morning if we want to reach the seashore before evening.

Hit the roof

- become very angry, go into a rage

He hit the roof when he found out that his son had wrecked the family car.

Hit the sack

- go to bed

Iím a little bit tired so I think that I will hit the sack now.

Hit the sauce

- Drink alcohol - usually heavily and regularly

He has been hitting the sauce now for a couple of months although he says that he doesnít drink.

Hit the spot

- refresh or satisfy

Drinking the lemonade after the baseball game really hit the spot.

Hold a candle to

- be in the same class or level with (used with a negative usually), can be compared with

As far as good service goes that restaurant canít hold a candle to the one that I usually go to.

Hold a grudge

- Not forgive someone for something

He has been holding a grudge against the company manager for a number of years.

Hold all the trump cards

- have the best chance of winning, have full control

It will be difficult to do well in the negotiations with him as he holds all the trump cards.

Hold back

- stay back or away, show unwillingness, prevent someone from doing something

He always holds back during meetings and never says anything.

Hold court

- Act like a king or queen among their subjects

He always acts like he is holding court among his subjects when I see him in his office.

Hold down

- keep in obedience, keep control of

The government was able to hold down the people for many years but finally they revolted and got rid of the government.

Hold down a job

- keep a job

He has a serious drinking problem and is unable to hold down a job.

Hold forth

- offer, propose

The company held forth a promise to give all of the employees an extra bonus in the summer.

Hold forth

- speak in public, talk about

He was holding forth about taxes again last night when I saw him in his office.

hold good

- continue, endure, last

The demand for air conditioners held good during July but decreased rapidly in August.

hold off

- delay, not begin

The concert will be held off until next week.

hold off

- keep away by force

The man was able to hold off the police for several hours before he was arrested.

hold on

- wait a minute, stop, wait and not hang up the phone

Please hold on for a minute while I go back and lock the window.

hold one`s breath

- stop breathing for a moment when one is excited or nervous

I had to stop and hold my breath while I was waiting for the announcement of the winning names.

hold one`s fire

- keep back arguments or facts, keep from telling something

You should hold your fire during the meeting and save the rest of the information until next week.

hold one`s horses

- stop and wait patiently

Hold your horses for a minute while I return to get my wallet.

hold one`s own (in an argument)

- defend one`s position

Although her boss is very aggressive she is always able to hold her own in any dispute with him.

hold one`s peace

- be silent and not speak against something, be still

Please try and hold your peace during the meeting as it will be to our disadvantage if we have a confrontation.

hold one`s tongue

- keep quiet

He decided to hold his tongue rather than give his honest opinion.

hold on to

- continue to hold or keep, hold tightly

Hold on to your bag when you are in the bus or someone may try and steal it.

hold out

- reach out, extend

She held out her hand to help her daughter climb up the stairs.


- someone who refuses to give something up, a non-conformist

He was the last hold-out in our effort to make sure that everyone wore a necktie to work.

hold out for something

- refuse to give up, keep resisting

The famous basketball star is holding out for a large salary increase.

hold out on

- refuse something to a person

He is holding out on me and wont give me the latest sales figures.

hold over

- extend the engagement of, keep longer

The movie was held over for another week.

hold something back

- keep information or something to or for oneself

He is holding back the information about the new computer system.

hold still

- not move

Please hold still while I fix your jacket zipper.

hold the fort

- cope in an emergency, act as a temporary substitute

He has been holding the fort at his company while his boss is on vacation.

hold the line

- not yield to pressure or something

The company has been holding the line on any new salary increases.

hold the reins

- be the most influential person

He has been holding the reins in his company for many years.

hold up

- lift, raise

The students hold up their hands when they have a question.

hold up

- support, carry

The main beams in the house are holding up the total weight of the house.

hold up

- check, stop, delay

The traffic was held up for over three hours at the border crossing.

hold up

- rob at gunpoint

The criminal was able to hold up three people before he was caught.

hold up

- keep up one`s courage or spirits

Her spirits are holding up quite well even though she does not have a job now.

hold up

- remain good, not get worse

Sales during the first six months of the year have held up very well compared to last year.

hold up

- prove true

Her story held up during the questioning by the police.


- a robbery

He was involved in a hold-up when he was in the supermarket last weekend.

hold water

- be a sound idea

His proposal for a new work scheduling system doesn`t hold water.

hole in the wall

- a small place to live, stay in or work in; small hidden or inferior place

We went for a drink at a little hole in the wall near the university last night.


- acting as if one is better than others in goodness or character etc.

I don`t like him because he always takes a holier-than-thou attitude toward everyone else.

holy cats

- used to express strong feelings of astonishment, pleasure or anger

Holy cats he said as he looked out and saw the water rising in the river.

holy cow

- used to express strong feelings of astonishment, pleasure or anger

Holy cow! There are over one hundred people standing in front of our house.

holy mackerel

- used to express strong feelings of astonishment, pleasure or anger

"Holy mackerel," cried the little boy when he saw the new bicycle he got for his birthday.

holy Moses

- used to express strong feelings of astonishment, pleasure or anger

Holy Moses! It is already noon and I haven`t even started work yet.

holy terror

- a very disobedient or unruly child

The little boy is a holy terror and his parents never want to take him anywhere.

honeymoon is over

- the first happy period of friendship and cooperation between two groups is over

The honeymoon was over for the new President after about two months.


- a cheap night-club or dance hall

We went to a small honky-tonk in the small town where we stopped last night.

hook, line and sinker

- without question or doubt, completely

She fell in love with her new boyfriend hook, line and sinker.

hook up

- connect or fit together

As soon as we moved to our new apartment we had to hook up the phone.


- a connection

The new hook-up for the computer is not working very well.

hope against hope

- continue to hope when things look very bad

The rescue team were hoping against hope that the lost hikers would be found alive.

hop to it

- get started, start a job, get going

We must hop to it and try to get this job done before dinner.

hopped up

- high on a drug or on alcohol

The man who tried to rob the store was hopped up on some kind of drug.

horn in on

- come in without an invitation or welcome, interfere

He horned in on our conversation although he knows that nobody likes him.

horse around

- play around, join in rough teasing

The children were horsing around in the school yard when the bell rang for class.

horse of a different color

- something altogether separate and different

We should not be talking about that issue now. It is a horse of a different color entirely.

horse sense

- good judgement, wisdom in making decisions

He has a lot of good horse sense so you can expect him to make an intelligent decision.

horse trade

- business agreement arrived at after hard negotiations

We had to do a lot of horse trading but we were finally able to reach an agreement to buy the antique car.

hot air

- nonsense, exaggerated talk

He is full of hot air and you can`t rely on what he usually says.

hot and bothered

- excited and worried, displeased

I don`t know what is wrong with her but she is hot and bothered about something.

a hot potato

- a situation likely to cause trouble to the person handling it

The issue of the non-union workers is a real hot potato that we must deal with.

hot rod

- an automobile changed so that it can go very fast

He has always loved cars and was a member of his local hot rod club when he was a teenager.

hot water

- trouble

He has been in hot water at work since he took a week off with no excuse.

house of cards

- something badly put together and easily knocked down, a poorly founded plan/action

The peace agreement between the two countries was like a house of cards and fell apart as soon as a minor problem occurred.

how about

- will you have something or will you agree to something

How about some coffee before we go to work?

how about

- what is to be done about something

We can`t use her computer but how about one of the other staff members?

how about

- how do you feel about/think about something

She is not interested in the job but how about one of her friends?

how come

- why

How come you don`t telephone her if you want to talk to her so much?

how`s that

- what did you say

How`s that? I couldn`t hear you because the radio was too loud.

hue and cry

- an excited protest or alarm or outcry

They raised a big hue and cry when they realized that we had failed to notify the bank about our financial problems.


- something kept secret or hidden, concealed

What is the big hush-hush? Everyone seems to be very quiet this morning.

hush up

- keep news of something from getting out, prevent people from knowing about something

The government tried to hush up the bad economic figures but the news media soon discovered the facts.

hush up

- be or make quiet, stop talking/crying/making noise

The child was told to hush up by her mother when they were in the department store.


- have an excess of energy, be excited

She has been hyped up all morning because she will go to Italy for a holiday next week.

Last edited by Argus; Sunday, October 15, 2006 at 04:36 AM.
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