Thread: Idioms (A-Z)
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Old Tuesday, May 17, 2005
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Default Idioms(L-M-N)

L................................................. ...............................................

labor of love

- something done for personal pleasure and not for money

The book that he wrote was a labor of love and he doesn`t expect to make any money from it.

lady killer

- a man who some women find very charming and attractive

The man in the movie was a lady killer who broke many women`s hearts before he left them.

lady`s man

- a man who is popular with women

He is a lady`s man who always seems to have a lot of women interested in him.

laid up

- be confined to bed or unfit for work

He has been laid up for a few days because of a cold.

lame duck

- public official who has a short time left to serve in office and therefore has less power than before

He is a lame duck president so it is difficult for him to get things accomplished.

land on one`s feet

- come out of a bad situation successfully

He always manages to land on his feet no matter how difficult the situation is.

lap up

- eat or drink with the tongue

The dog lapped up the milk that his master had given him.

lap up

- take in eagerly

He lapped up the praise that his boss gave him for the recently completed project.

lash out

- try suddenly to hit someone

He suddenly lashed out and hit the man who was sitting beside him.

lash out

- attack someone with words

They were walking along the beach when she suddenly lashed out in anger at her boyfriend.

last but not least

- in the last place but not the least important

Last but not least he came up to the front of the class to receive his report card.

last straw

- the last insult or mistake that one can endure and which then causes some reaction

The fourth time he came late was the last straw and we finally fired him.

last word

- the last remark in an argument, the final say in deciding something

She always expects to have the last word when she and her husband go to the store to buy something important.

laugh off

- not take seriously

He laughed off the attempt of his boss to tell him that he should try and come to work on time.

(not) lay a finger on someone

- not touch someone, not bother to do something (not even a little)

He was told by the police never to lay a finger on his wife again.

lay an egg

- fail to win the interest or favor of an audience

Although he was supposed to be a good magician, his performance was terrible and it laid an egg with the audience.

lay away

- save

They are trying to lay away some money for their holiday next year.

layaway plan

- a plan in which one pays some money down and then pays the rest little by little and the store holds the article until the full price has been paid

He decided to buy the television set on the department store`s layaway plan.

lay down the law

- tell someone what to do using your power or influence

The new management plans to lay down the law to the workers regarding long lunch breaks.

lay eyes on

- see

I have never laid eyes on a more beautiful dog in my life.

lay hands on something

- get hold of or find something

If I can lay my hands on a slide projector I will show you the pictures of my trip tonight.

lay hands on someone

- do violence to, harm, hurt

He said that if he ever lays hands on the person who stole his car he will take him directly to the police.

lay hold of

- get possession of

If I can lay hold of a car this weekend we can go for a drive.

lay in

- store up a supply of something, get and keep for future use

They are trying to lay in as much food as possible before winter comes.

lay (light) into

- attack physically, do (eat) something with energy

He laid into the steak as soon as the waiter brought it to his table.

lay (light) into

- attack with words

As soon as I came into work this morning she laid (lit) into me about my poor sales performance last month.

lay it on the line

- say plainly so that there can be no doubt, tell truthfully

The librarian finally had to lay it on the line and told everyone not to bring drinks into the library.

lay it on thick

- praise someone too much

He really began to lay it on thick when he met me at the party.

lay low

- hide, keep out of sight for awhile

He decided to lay low for awhile until his friend forgot that he had damaged his car.

lay off (someone)

- get rid of workers when business is bad

Six hundred workers at the automobile factory were recently laid off.

lay off

- stop bothering, leave alone

The players were told by the coach to lay off teasing the new player so that he could relax before the game.

lay off

- stop using or taking (drugs/cigarettes)

I was told by my doctor to lay off smoking or I would be very sick in the future.

lay one`s cards on the table

- let someone know one`s position and feelings openly, deal honestly about something

He decided to lay his cards on the table and tell his boss about the job offer from the other company.

lay out

- spend or pay some money

He will have to lay out a lot of money for his new apartment.

lay out

- plan something

They will lay out their plan for the new building at the next meeting.

lay over

- arrive in one place and wait some time before continuing a journey

We were told that we will have to lay over in London for nine hours before we go on to Kenya.

lay to rest

- get rid of, put away permanently, stop

They have been trying to lay to rest the rumors about the financial problems in the company.

lay up

- take out of active service, put in a boat dock or a garage

The weather was getting cold so they decided to lay up their boat for the winter.

lay up

- collect a supply of something, save for future use, store

They are trying to lay up some canned fruit for the winter.

lay waste

- destroy and leave in ruins, wreck

The army troops laid waste to the enemy territory.

lead a dog`s life

- live a hard life, work hard and be treated unkindly

He says that he has been leading a dog`s life since he started his new job.

lead a merry chase

- delay or escape capture by someone, make a person work hard

He led the investigators on a merry chase before they finally arrested him.

lead by the nose

- have full control of, make or persuade someone to do anything you want

He isn`t very aggressive and always lets his boss lead him by the nose.

lead off

- begin, start, open

The golfer was the first to lead off in the tournament.

lead on

- insincerely encourage

I think he was leading me on when he told me about the new job.

lead the way

- go before and show how to go somewhere, guide

I had to lead the way because nobody else knew where the new office was located.

lean on

- pressure someone by blackmailing or threats of physical violence to make the person comply with a request

The gang decided to lean on the small shop owner to get him to sell his property.

learn the ropes

- learn how to do a job

He is a new employee and is still learning the ropes.

leave a bad taste in one`s mouth

- leave a bad impression, make one feel disgusted

The way that the company fired the workers left a bad taste in everyone`s mouth.

leave alone

- don`t disturb someone

lease leave me alone so I can finish this essay.

leave behind

- leave something somewhere

I left my coat behind in the restaurant.

leave hanging (in the air)

- leave undecided or unsettled

Whether or not they will be leaving next year was left hanging in the air at the end of the meeting.

leave (someone) holding the bag

- leave someone else to take the blame

He left me holding the bag when he ran away from the accident.

leave in the lurch

- desert or leave alone and in trouble, refuse to help or support someone

He left me in the lurch when he didn`t come over to help me although he had promised to earlier in the day.

leave no stone unturned

- try in every way, do everything possible

The police left no stone unturned when they were looking for the little girl who was lost.

leave out

- omit

He told me about the accident but he left out some of the main points.

leave (let) well enough alone

- be satisfied with something that is good enough

You should let well enough alone and be happy with your work schedule the way it is.

left-handed compliment

- an ambiguous compliment interpreted as offensive

He gave her a left-handed compliment when he said that her dyed hair looked nice.

leg man

- someone who performs messenger services, an errand boy

He was working as a leg man for the motion picture company.

leg to stand on

- a firm foundation of facts, facts to support one`s claims

She doesn`t have a leg to stand on as far as her excuses for not finishing her work goes.

leg work

- physical work

He was forced to do all of the leg work preparing for the meeting because his assistant was sick.

let alone

- certainly not

I don`t have enough money to go to a movie let alone go on a holiday.

let bygones be bygones

- forget about problems that happened in the past

We need to let bygones be bygones and forget about our past differences.

let down

- fail to do as well as expected, disappoint

He let down his parents when he failed the university entrance exams.

let down easy

- refuse or say no to someone in a pleasant way

I will talk to her tomorrow and try and let her down easy about her not getting the promotion.

let down one`s hair

- relax, act freely and naturally

Everybody at the party let down their hair and had a good time.

let (something) go

- pay no attention to, neglect

She seems to be letting her appearance go since she lost her job.

let go

- allow something to pass, do nothing about something

Although I was angry at his remark I decided to let it go.

let go

- discharge from a job, fire

The company has decided to let go several hundred workers in order to become profitable again.

let go of

- release

He let go of the rope and the suitcase fell from the bus.

let grass grow under one`s feet

- be idle, be lazy, waste time

He is always working hard and is not the type of person to let grass grow under his feet.

let (someone) have it

- hit someone hard

He really let the other man have it when they got into a fight on the bus.

let it all hang out

- not to disguise anything, let the truth be known

She decided to let it all hang out and told her boss about the mistakes she had made with the new sales account.

let it lay

- forget it, leave it alone

You should let it lay and stop worrying about what she did to you last year.

let it rip

- become involved and make the most of something, really try to win

He let it rip and set off from the shore in the motorboat.

let loose

- set free, give up one`s hold on something, release something being held

They decided to let loose the injured bird that they had found in the park.

let (someone) know

- tell, inform

Let me know when you are ready to go to the movie.

let off

- discharge (a gun), explode

The children let off many firecrackers during the festival.

let off steam

- get rid of your extra energy or strong feelings by doing some activity

He was very angry at first but he has let off a lot of steam and has calmed down now.

let (someone) off the hook

- excuse someone from a penalty or promise

He let me off the hook and I didn`t have to stay after work and help clean the office.

let on

- reveal, inform

Please don`t let on that you saw me at the movie last night.

let on

- try to make people believe something, pretend

He tried to let on that he didn`t want the job but actually he does.

let out

- allow to go out or escape

I let out our dog this morning and he hasn`t come home yet.

let out

- allow to be known, tell

They let out the details of the restructuring plan late last night so we haven`t had time to talk about them yet.

let out

- make longer or looser (clothes), allow a rope to slip out little by little

I had to go to the tailors to have them let out my sports jacket.

let out

- dismiss or be dismissed (from class or practice etc.)

Everyone was let out from class early yesterday because of the bad weather.

let (something) ride

- continue without changing a situation

We should forget about his recent problems at work and just let the whole matter ride.

let sleeping dogs lie

- don`t make trouble if you don`t have to

You should let sleeping dogs lie and not worry about what she said to you last summer.

let the cat out of the bag

- reveal a secret

Don`t let the cat out of the bag about the surprise party for the boss.

let the chips fall where they may

- don`t worry about the results of your actions

I am not going to worry about whether or not the company will go broke or not. I will let the chips fall where they may.

let up

- become less or weaker, become slower or stop

The rain finally let up around noon so we were able to go back outside.

let up

- do less or go slower or stop, stop working too hard

He was told by his doctor to let up on his work schedule or he will become sick in the future.

lie in state

- after death a famous person lies in a state of honor (in an open coffin) so the public can see their body

The President lay in state for three days after his death.

lie in wait

- watch from hiding in order to attack or surprise someone

The police decided to lie in wait for the bank robbers to appear at the bank.

lie low

- stay quietly out of sight, try not to attract attention

He is very angry at you so I think that you should lie low for a few days until he calms down.

life of Riley

- a soft easy life, pleasant way of living

He has been living the life of Riley since he retired from his job last year.

lift a finger (hand)

- do something, do one`s share, help

Although he is a nice person he will never lift a finger to help anyone else.

light up

- suddenly look pleased and happy

As soon as I told him about our summer holiday plans his face lit up and he started smiling.

like father, like son

- a son usually acts like his father

Like father, like son the man said as he watched the boy playing baseball exactly like his father.

like a ton of bricks

- strongly or forcefully

The news of his retirement hit me like a ton of bricks.

like crazy

- very fast, with great energy

They were running like crazy but still they couldn`t catch up with their friend.

like hell

- with much effort and energy, not so, untrue

I had to run like hell this morning in order to catch the bus for work.

like mad

- very fast, with great energy

I worked like mad but I was unable to finish the project by noon as I had hoped.

like water off a duck`s back

- without effect, without changing one`s feelings or opinion

He always criticizes his friend who always ignores it so it falls away like water off a duck`s back.

line up

- take places in line or formation, stand one behind another

We were forced to line up in front of the movie theater for over one hour.

line up

- adjust correctly

First he lined up the two pieces of wood before he nailed them together.

line up

- arrange, make ready for action

We were unable to line up a speaker for Sunday evening so we will cancel the meeting.

lip service

- support shown by words only and not by action

They paid lip service to the proposal but I don`t think that they really support it.

little by little

- gradually

He broke his leg while skiing but little by little it is getting better.

little frog in a big pond

- an unimportant person in a large group or organization

He transferred to the headquarters branch but he is a little frog in a big pond and nobody knows him now.

little pitchers have big ears

- little children often overhear things that they are not supposed to hear

Little pitchers have big ears she said when she saw her daughter standing at the door listening to her talking to her husband.

live down

- remove blame or distrust by good conduct, cause to be forgiven by not repeating something

He is trying to live down his reputation of being a hard person to work for.

live from hand to mouth

- live on little money

Her brother is an artist and has to live from hand to mouth because he has no money.

live high on the hog

- live very luxuriously or comfortably

He has been living high on the hog since he won the money in the lottery.

live it up

- have a good time

He likes to live it up every weekend when he gets paid.

live out of a suitcase

- stay away from your home with only the belongings in your suitcase

I dislike this job because I am often on a business trip and must live out of my suitcase.

live up to

- come up to, agree with, act according to

He is trying very hard to live up to his reputation as a smart busnessman.

living end

- great, fantastic, the ultimate

She said that her new boyfriend was the living end.


- have lots of money

His new boss is really loaded.

lock the barn door after the horse is stolen

- be careful or try to make something safe when it is too late

If you try and prevent a flood after the rains have started it is like locking the barn door after the horse is stolen.

lock up

- to be assured of success

The candidate has already locked up the nomination to be a candidate for president in the next election.

long face

- a sad look, a disappointed look

He had a long face when he came into work this morning. What is the matter with him?

long haul

- a long distance or trip

He is a long-haul trucker and is always out of town working.

long haul

- a long period of time during which work continues or something is done

He has decided to stay here for the long haul and will not return to his home country for awhile.

long shot

- a bet or other risk taken though not likely to succeed

It was a long shot that he would get the job so he was very happy when he did get it.

look after someone

- take care or attend to someone

She has been looking after her mother since her recent illness.

look a gift horse in the mouth

- complain if a gift is not perfect

Even if you don`t like the present from the company you shouldn`t complain. Remember don`t look a gift horse in the mouth.

look at the world through rose-colored glasses

- see only the good things about something, be too optimistic

I told him not to be so naive and always look at the world through rose-colored glasses.

look down one`s nose at someone or something

- show your dislike of someone or something

He always looks down his nose at the other members of his class.

look down on someone

- regard with contempt or a feeling of superiority

She looks down on the activities and life of most small towns.

look for

- think likely, expect

They are looking for John to become the next sales director of the company.

look for

- try to find, search for, hunt

She has been looking for her credit card all morning but she can`t find it.

look forward to something

- anticipate with pleasure

He`s been looking forward to the concert for a long time.

look in on

- go to see, make a short visit with, make a call on

Could you please look in on the baby and see if she is sleeping.

look into

- investigate or check something

They have been looking into the cause of the accident for many months.

look like a million dollars

- look well and prosperous, appear healthy and happy

He was looking like a million dollars when I saw him at the party last weekend.

look like the cat that ate (swallowed) the canary

- seem very self-satisified like you have just had some kind of success

He looked like the cat that ate the canary when he came in with a smile on his face.

look on

- be a spectator

There were over a hundred people who gathered to look on after the accident.

look out

- take care, be careful, be on guard

Look out! There is a large truck coming down the highway.

look out

- be alert or watchful, keep looking for something

Could you please look out for any old Elvis Presley records that you may find.

look out

- provide protection and care

Please look out for my sister when she stays with you this summer.

look over something

- inspect, survey or examine

Please take some time to look over these documents before you sign them.

look to

- attend to, get ready for, take care of

She is a wonderful nurse and spends a great deal of time looking to the needs of her patients.

look to

- go for help to, depend on

He always looks to his mother for help when he has a problem.

look (something) up

- search for something in a dictionary or other book

I`ll look up their name in the telephone book.

look (someone) up

- seek and find

When I was in New York I looked up my friend from university.

look up to

- think of someone as a good example to copy, respect someone

I always look up to the president of our company as someone I would like to be like.

loose ends

- without something definite to do

He has been at loose ends since he lost his job.

lord it over

- act as the superior and master of someone, be bossy over someone

She likes to lord it over the other members of the staff since she became a supervisor.

lose face

- be embarrassed or ashamed by an error or failure, lose dignity

He lost face when his employees decided not to support him during the meeting.

lose ground

- go backward, become weaker, not improve

The government has been losing ground in their fight against inflation.

lose heart

- become discouraged

She has begun to lose heart in her studies to learn the piano.

lose one`s marbles

- go crazy or act irrationally

He seems to have lost his marbles and doesn`t make any sense at all.

lose one`s shirt

- lose a lot of money

I think he is going to lose his shirt on that new business venture.

lose one`s way

- become lost

The first time she went to New York City she lost her way.

lose one`s temper

- become angry

He lost his temper when the child broke the dish.

lose out

- fail to win, miss first place in a contest

He lost out on a chance to go to Mexico City because he was too busy with other things.

lose sight of

- forget, fail to see

Don't lose sight of the main reason that you are planning to go on the business trip.

lose touch with

- fail to keep in contact or communication with someone

I lost touch with everyone who I worked with at my summer job.

lose track of

- lose contact with someone (or something)

I`ve lost track of many of my friends from high school.


- a noisy, boastful or foolish talker

He is a loudmouth and nobody at work likes him.

louse up

- throw into confusion, make a mess of, spoil

She loused up her job interview and has no chance at all now to get the job.

lover`s lane

- a hidden road or walkway where lovers walk or park in the evening

After the movie they drove to the local lover`s lane.


- the inside facts of a matter, the total truth

I met with him after the presentation and he gave me the lowdown on the new computer equipment.

luck out

- suddenly get lucky when it looks like you won`t succeed

He lucked out with the concert tickets and was able to get four of them.

lucky star

- a certain star or planet which is thought to bring a person good luck and success in life

You should thank your lucky star that you don`t have to go to work on a rainy day like today

M................................................. ...............................................

mad as a hornet

- very angry

He was mad as a hornet when I saw him at the meeting yesterday.

main drag

- the most important street in a town

We spent most of Saturday evening driving up and down the main drag of the town.

make a beeline for something

- hurry directly somewhere

When he enters the cafeteria he always makes a beeline for the dessert section.

make a bundle

- make a lot of money

My father made a bundle on the stock market in early 1998.

make a day of it

- do something all day

We decided to make a day of it and spend the day at the beach.

make a dent in

- make progress

We worked hard all day but we didn`t seem to make a dent in the amount of work left to do.

make a difference

- cause a change in a situation

It doesn`t make any difference whether he comes to the meeting or not.

make a go of

- succeed, produce good results

Although he tried hard he was never able to make a go of his business.

make a hit

- be successful

Her cake made a big hit at the party.

make a killing

- make a large amount of money

Her mother made a killing on the real estate market before she retired.

make a living

- earn enough money to live

He cannot make a living by only doing a part-time job.

make a mistake

- make an error

He made a mistake on the math test.

make a mountain out of a molehill

- make a big problem out of a small one

He is really making a mountain out of a molehill by worrying about his son`s problems.

make a name for oneself

- become well-known or famous

He has made a name for himself in the field of computers.

make a pass at someone

- make romantic advances to a member of the opposite sex

He was fired because he made a pass at one of the women who he works with.

make a point of

- do or say something with a definite intent

He always makes a point of visiting his aunt when he is in town.

make a run for it

- dash for safety, make a speedy escape

He made a run for it as soon as the class finished.

make away with

- take, carry away

The cat made away with the fish that was sitting on top of the kitchen counter.

make believe

- act as if something is true while one knows that it is not, pretend

The children were playing make believe and pretended that they lived in a castle.

make do with something

- substitute one thing for another

If there is no cream for the coffee, we`ll have to make do with milk.

make ends meet

- be able to live on the money one has

It`s hard to make ends meet on his salary.

make eyes at

- flirt, look at a member of the opposite sex to try and attract them

The boy was making eyes at the girl in his history class.

make for

- go toward, start in the direction of

As soon as it began to become dark we decided to make for a quiet place to set up a camp.

make friends

- form friendships with people or animals

She is shy and isn`t able to make friends easily.

make fun of

- ridicule

The students were making fun of the girl with the short hair.

make good

- do what one promised to do, make something come true

He made good on his promise to give everyone a raise in the new year.

make hay while the sun shines

- do something at the right time, not wait too long

You should make hay while the sun shines and paint the house while the weather is good.

(can`t) make head nor tail of something

- understand, find meaning in something

We couldn`t make head nor tail of what he was trying to say during his speech.

make it up to someone

- do something for someone to compensate for an unfulfilled promise or debt

I can`t go with you to the game tonight but I will make it up to you later.

make light of

- treat as of little importance, minimize

My friend made light of my efforts to learn how to speak and write Chinese.

make of something

- interpret, think of

What do you make of the new manager in accounting.

make merry

- have fun, laugh and celebrate

We decided to go to a nice restaurant and make merry for the evening.

make no bones about something

- make no secret, not keep from talking about something

He has made no bones about the fact that he is not interested in applying for the supervisor`s job.

make one`s bed and lie in it

- be responsible for what one has done and then have to accept the bad results

You quit your job and now you have no money. You made your bed. Now you must lie in it.

make one`s blood boil

- make someone very angry

Every time that I see him he makes my blood boil.

make one`s hair stand on end

- frighten, horrify

The horror movie that we rented last week really made my hair stand on end.

make one`s own way

- rely on one`s own abilities

His father wants him to join the family business but he wants to make his own way in the world.

make one`s mouth water

- want to eat something because of the thought or smell of the food

Looking at the menu made my mouth water.

make oneself at home

- act as if you were at home

She is able to make herself at home when she goes to visit her friends.

make oneself felt

- use one`s authority

He was not able to make himself felt when trying to resolve the conflict.

make oneself scarce

- leave quickly, go away

I think that I will make myself scarce and go to the beach for the day.

make out

- do, progress

How did you make out at your job interview yesterday?

make out

- understand, interpret

I can never make out what he wants to say when he phones me.

make out

- distinguish, identify

The ship captain couldn`t make out the other boat because of the fog.

make out

- make someone believe, show, prove

He made out that he was at the library last night but I know that he wasn`t.

make over

- make something look different, change the style of

We decided to make over our living room because we were tired of the old style

make room for someone or something

- arrange space for

He made room for the new computer in the spare room.

make sense

- seem reasonable

His proposal makes absolutely no sense.

make short work of something

- finish quickly

He made short work of the typing and has started working on the other documents.

make something out

- manage to see or read something

I was unable to make out the sign because I didn`t have my glasses.

make something up

- invent (a story etc.)

He made up the story about his lost wallet.

make the best of

- do as well as possible in a bad situation

He has really made the best of his time since beginning his new job.

make the grade

- make good, succeed, meet a standard, qualify

He wasn`t able to make the grade and join the football team.

make the most of

- use to the greatest advantage

He made the most of his time in Europe and visited many art galleries.

make the scene

- be present, go to a certain place or event

He decided to make the scene and go to the disco for the evening.

make time

- be successful in arriving at a destination in a short time

We made very good time yesterday and arrived home before it got dark.

make up

- make something by putting things or parts together

A car is made up of many different parts.

make up

- invent, think and say something that is new or not true

She made up the story about how she got lost in the mountains.

make up

- do or supply something that is lacking, regain, repay

I had to make up the time that I was sick by working on Saturday.

make up

- put on cosmetics

She always wants to make up her face before she goes to the store.

make up

- become friends again after a quarrel

They finally made up after their fight last week.

make up for something

- compensate for a loss or mistake

I have to work hard in order to make up for the loss from the poor sales.

make up one`s mind

- decide

I haven`t made up my mind yet about whether or not I will accept the new job.

make waves

- create a disturbance

He is very calm and quiet at work and doesn`t like to make waves.

make way

- stand aside, move so someone can go through

The truck had to go to the side of the road to make way for the ambulance.

man in the street

- the average or ordinary person

According to what the man in the street is saying the government is not very popular.


- frank or direct

I had a man-to-man talk with him about the problem last night.

mark time

- move one`s feet up and down to music

He was marking time to the music as he was driving his car.

mark time

- be idle, waiting for something to happen

He has been marking time for over a month now as he waits to hear about the new job.


- be important

It doesn`t matter if you can`t come here tomorrow.

matter of course

- the usual way, habit, rule

It was done as a matter of course and nobody really thought about the results.

matter of fact

- something that is really true, something that can be proved

As a matter of fact I saw him last night and he asked me how you were.


- simply telling or showing the truth, seeming not to care much

The witness told about the murder in a matter-of-fact way.

mean business

- be serious, ready to take action

He is working very hard and really means business when he says he is going to get the office organized.

measure up

- be equal, be of high quality

The new accounting manager didn`t measure up to the previous one so we had to ask him to leave.

meet someone half-way

- make a compromise with someone

He is very stubborn and is never willing to meet his friends half-way.

meet up with

- meet by accident, come upon without planning or expecting to

He met up with a nice group of people in Australia when he was travelling there.

melt in one`s mouth

- taste very good, be delicious

The pastry that she made melted in my mouth.

mend one`s fences

- do something to make people like you after a fight, strengthen one`s friendship or influence

I made a big effort to mend my fences with my boss so that we could work together effectively.

mend one`s ways

- improve one`s habits

She has been forced to mend her ways in order to get along better at work.

mess around

- play around, engage in idle activity

The children were messing around in the school yard before the class began.

mess up

- cause trouble, spoil something

He messed up his chance to get a promotion by not making much of an effort last year.

middle of the road

- being halfway between two different ideas, seeing good on both sides of an issue

The president was elected because he was a person whose ideas were very middle of the road.

mind one`s P`s and Q`s

- be very careful about what one does or says

You should mind your P`s and Q`s and not say anything to offend your aunt.

Mind you.

- I want you to notice and understand.

I don`t want to work any more overtime. Mind you, if there is an emergency I will be able to work extra in that case.

miss out on

- lose an opportunity

He missed out on the new job because he was late for the interview.

miss the boat

- lose an opportunity

You had better hurry and get your application in or you will miss the boat on entering that new company.

might as well

- be somewhat preferable

We might as well go home now. I don`t think he will come.

mix up

- confuse, make a mistake about

He mixed up the video tapes and played the wrong one in front of the class.


- an error, some confusion

There was a mix-up at the airline ticket counter and I was given the wrong ticket.

(get or become) mixed up

- become confused

He gets all mixed up when he tries to speak French.

money to burn

- have very much money, have more than is needed

He has money to burn and never has to worry about working.

monkey business

- comical or silly actions, goofing off

The kids were involved in some kind of monkey business. That was when the window was broken.

monkey business

- unethical, illegal or objectionable activity, cheating

The company was involved in some monkey business with the tax department and have recently had to hire a lawyer to defend themselves.

more and more

- increasingly, increasing number

More and more people are buying computers for their homes.

more or less

- somewhat, to some extent

I like the new color more or less but it`s not great.

more the merrier

- the more people who join in the fun the better it will be

The more the merrier he said as his sister`s friends also decided to come to the beach.

morning after (the night before)

- a hangover

He`s not feeling well. I think it`s the morning after the night before.

(not) move a muscle

- don`t move even a small amount

The doctor told him not to move a muscle when he was fixing his leg.

move heaven and earth

- try every way, do everything one can

I will move heaven and earth to help you get a job with our company.

move in on

- take over something that belongs to another

He was angry because the other salesman was moving in on his sales territory.

mum`s the word

- say nothing of the secret you know

Don`t worry mum`s the word on the party. I won`t tell anybody.

musical chairs

- the transfer of a number of officers in an organization into different jobs - especially each other`s jobs

They seem to be playing a game of musical chairs at the company as many people move from one position to another position.

music to one`s ears

- something one likes to hear

When he told me that I could go to the sales convention in the summer it was music to my ears.

my goodness (my God)

- used to express surprise or shock etc.

"My goodness," she said when she saw the small dog jump over the fence.


nail down
- make certain, make sure

I am trying to nail down the exact time that he will be able to meet with us.

name is mud

- a person`s reputation becomes bad, one is in trouble

His name is mud now that he has been charged by the police with stealing money from his company.

name of the game

- the main part of a matter

The name of the game is for the salesmen to sell cars and not to worry about other things.

name someone after

- give someone another`s name

He was named after his mother`s grandfather.

narrow escape

- an escape with no chance of error

He had a narrow escape when he almost fell from his bicycle.

neck and neck

- equal or nearly equal in a race or contest

The two teams were neck and neck in the race to win the national championship.

neck of the woods

- an area or part of the country

He has never been down to my neck of the woods since he was a child.

needle in a haystack

- something that is very hard to find

Looking for the lost receipt among the thousands of other receipts is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

neither fish nor fowl

- something that does not belong to a definite group

I don`t know where we should put those books in the library. They are neither fish nor fowl.

neither here nor there

- not relevant to the thing being discussed, off the subject

What you are saying is neither here nor there. We are talking about our plans to move this year - not 5 years in the future.

nervous Nellie

- a timid person who lacks determination and courage

He is a nervous Nellie and is afraid of most of the other students in the school.

nest egg

- money someone has saved up

He has a nice nest egg in the bank so he will have no financial problems if he leaves his company.

never mind

- don`t worry, don`t bother

If you don`t have time to pick up my laundry, never mind I will get it tomorrow.

new blood

- fresh energy or power, something or someone that gives new life or vigor to something

She a great employee and helped us to inject new blood into our organization.

new broom sweeps clean

- a new person makes many changes

We discovered the truth to the expression "a new broom sweeps clean" when our new boss changed everything in our organization.

new deal

- a complete change, a fresh start, another chance

He was given a new deal by the team although the previous year he was not very good.

new person

- a person who has become very much better

He is a new person now that he has quit smoking and quit drinking.

nick of time

- at the very last moment

He was able to board the airplane just in the nick of time.

nip and tuck

- evenly matched, hard fought to the finish

They were going along nip and tuck but he finally won the race in the end.

nip in the bud

- prevent at the start

They found out about the computer problem but were able to nip the problem in the bud.

no bed of roses

- difficult or bad situation

It is no bed of roses to have no job and a large family to support.

nobody's home

- one`s attention is somewhere else, having a simple mind

It looks like nobody`s home, I thought as I tried to have a conversation with the strange man.

nobody`s fool

- a smart person, a person who can take care of himself

She is nobody`s fool. You will not have to worry about her at all when she goes to New York.

no cigar

- not agreed to, refused or useless, no, certainly not

I almost got the job but in the end it was no cigar.

no deal

- not agreed to, refused or useless, no, certainly not

It was no deal I realized as I left the meeting and the other members had all said no to my plan.

No dice.

- No. Certainly not.

No dice. I will never lend you that much money.

no doubt

- without doubt, surely, certainly

No doubt he will be the one to win the contest again this year.

no end

- almost without stopping, continually

The little girl cried no end when she couldn`t find her favorite doll.

no end to (of)

- so many or so much of, to seem almost endless, very many or very much

He had no end of problems when he lived overseas for a year.

no go

- not agreed to, refused or useless, no, certainly not

It`s no go for our plan to have three games this weekend. We can only have two of them.

no great shakes

- mediocre, unimportant

The hotel was no great shakes and I wouldn`t recommend that you stay there if you go to Hawaii.

no love lost

- bad feelings, ill will

There is no love lost between my father and our next door neighbor.

no matter

- regardless of

No matter how hard that I try my tutor is never satisfied.

no picnic

- not pleasant, difficult

It was no picnic trying to drive to the lake during the storm.

nose around (about)

- look for something kept private or secret, pry

The secretary was nosing around in her boss's desk trying to discover what was going on.

nose down

- head down, bring down the nose of

The pilot began to nose down the plane as it neared the airport.

(have one`s) nose in something

- unwelcome interest in something, impolite curiosity

He always has his nose in other people`s private business where it doesn`t belong.


- a person who makes a reservation for something and then neither comes nor cancels it

There were several no-shows at the concert last night.

no sweat

- easily accomplished, uncomplicated

The work was no sweat. I finished it in about two hours.

no sweat

- no problem

No sweat. I will help you all day tomorrow if you need me.

not a leg to stand on

- no good proof or excuse, no good evidence or defence to offer someone

The company doesn`t have a leg to stand on if they try to refuse to pay you the money that they owe you.

not for the world

- not at any price, not for anything

I wouldn`t go out on a date with that woman for the world.

not give someone the time of day

- dislike someone so strongly that you totally ignore them

I hate her and would never even give her the time of day.

nothing doing

- I will not do it, certainly not, no indeed

Nothing doing. I am not going to stay and work late again this evening.

nothing if not

- without doubt, certainly

He is nothing if not punctual. He has never been late in his seven years with this company.

not much of

- rather bad

It`s not much of a hotel but I guess it will be okay for one night.

Not on your life.

- definitely not.

"May I borrow your car"? "Not on your life".

not so hot

- not very good

I have been feeling not so hot lately as I had a cold last week.

nothing to sneeze at

- something you should take seriously

His new salary is nothing to sneeze at.

not touch something with a ten-foot pole

- consider something completely undesirable or uninteresting

That class may be alright but because I hate the professor I wouldn`t touch it with a ten-foot pole.

no wonder

- not surprising

No wonder he is so tired after staying up all night.

now and then

- occasionally

He likes to go to that restaurant now and then.

number one

- oneself, one`s own interests

He is always looking out for number one and will never do anything for anyone else.

nurse a grudge

- keep a feeling of dislike toward some person

My old girlfriend is still nursing a grudge toward me even after three years.

nuts about

- enthusiastic about something

He has been nuts about cars ever since he was a little boy.

nutty as a fruitcake

- very crazy

The woman who lives next door to us is as nutty as a fruitcake.

Last edited by Argus; Sunday, October 15, 2006 at 03:28 AM.
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