Thread: Idioms (A-Z)
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Old Friday, May 20, 2005
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Default Idioms(R-S)


rack one`s brains
- try hard to think or remember something
I have been racking my brains all day trying to remember his name.

rain cats and dogs
- rain very hard
It has been raining cats and dogs all morning.

rain check
- a free ticket to an event in place of one cancelled because of rain
We received two rain checks to the baseball game after it was cancelled because of the rain.

rain check
- a promise to repeat an invitation at a later date
I didn`t have time to go to the restaurant with my friend so I took a rain check instead.

raise a fuss
- make trouble, make a disturbance
The woman at the restaurant raised a fuss when her meal arrived late.

raise a hand
- do something, do one`s share, help
Nobody likes him because he will never raise a hand to help his friends.

raise Cain
- create a disturbance, cause trouble
They began to raise Cain at the dance and were asked to leave.

raise eyebrows
- cause surprise or disapproval
It really raised eyebrows when she appeared at the party unannounced.

rake in the money
- make a lot of money
His new pizza franchise has been raking in the money since it first opened.

rake someone over the coals
- scold, reprimand
His boss raked him over the coals when he heard about the lost sales report.

ram (something) down one`s throat
- force one to do or agree to something not wanted

She always tries to ram her ideas down our throats which makes us very angry.

rat out on

- desert or betray someone, leave at a critical time

His friend ratted out on him when he refused to support him in his fight with the neighborhood bully.

rat race

- endless hurried existence

He likes working for a major corporation although sometimes he finds it too much of a rat race.

raw deal

- unfair treatment

he got a raw deal when he was forced to resign from his company.

read between the lines

- find a hidden meaning in something

I know that he didn`t say it but I can read between the lines so I know what he means.

read the riot act

- give someone a strong warning or scolding

The teacher read the riot act to her students when they began to misbehave in class.

real McCoy

- the genuine thing

That new camera is the real McCoy and will let you do everything that you want.

red herring

- something that draws attention away from the matter under consideration

The issue of the pay cut is a red herring and is not related to the main issues.

red letter day

- a day that is memorable because of some important event

Saturday was a red letter day when we finally won the championship.

red tape

- excessive formalities in official transactions

There was much red tape when we went to city hall to get a business license.

regular guy

- a friendly person who everyone gets along with

The former Prime Minister was a regular guy and was well liked by most people.

rest on one`s laurels

- be satisfied with the success one has already won

He is always willing to work hard and is not the type of person to rest on his laurels.

rhyme or reason

- a good plan or reason, a reasonable purpose or explanation

Without rhyme or reason he suddenly decided to quit his job.

ride herd on

- watch closely and control

The new supervisor plans to ride herd on the people who work for him.

ride out

- survive safely, endure

We were able to easily ride out the storm at the small restaurant.

riding high

- attracting attention, enjoying great popularity

The new government has been riding high in the polls for several months now.

right away

- immediately

I forgot to bring the book today but I will go home and get it right away.

right off the bat

- immediately, from the beginning

I told him right off the bat that we didn`t need a new computer for the office.

right on

- indicates approval, "that`s right", "yes"

He called out "right on" every time that the politician promised a new program to help unemployed people.

right out

- plainly, in a way that hides nothing

He told the new supervisor right out that he did not like him.

right under one`s nose

- in an obvious, nearby place

I found the calculator right under my nose after searching for it for an hour.

ring a bell

- remind one of something

The name doesn`t ring a bell. I`m sure I have never heard of him.

ring up

- add and record on a cash register

I went to the cash register to have them ring up the things that I had bought.

ring up

- telephone someone

You should ring up the police if you see anybody strange around your house.

rip off

- cheat, rob

I was ripped off by the mechanics at that gas station.

road hog

- a car driver who takes up more than his share of the road

My father becomes very angry at the road hogs when he is driving.

rob Peter to pay Paul

- take from one person or thing to pay another

When the government began to take money from education to pay for the medical system it was like robbing Peter to pay Paul.

rob the cradle

- have dates with or marry a person much younger than oneself

Everyone said that my friend was robbing the cradle when he married the young woman at his company.

rock the boat

- upset the way things are

He is a very quiet worker and never likes to rock the boat at work.

roll around

- return at a regular or usual time, come back

Every time that his birthday rolls around he has a big party.

roll in

- arrive in great numbers or quantity

The money has been rolling in since they started the new franchise.

rolling stone

- a person who does not live or work in one place

He is a rolling stone and I never know where to find him.

roll out the red carpet

- welcome an important guest by putting a red carpet down for him or her to walk on

They rolled out the red carpet when the President of France came for a visit.

roll out the red carpet

- make a big effort to greet and entertain someone

Whenever I visit my aunt in New York City she rolls out the red carpet for me.

roll up one`s sleeves

- prepare to work hard or seriously

Everyone in our club rolled up their sleeves to help prepare for the party.

rope into

- trick, persuade by pressuring someone

I didn`t want to help with the dinner but I was roped into doing it by my best friend.

rough and ready

- rough or crude but effective

The boat is rough and ready so let`s take it for a ride.

rough and tumble

- fighting or arguing in a very rough and reckless way

It was a rough and tumble meeting that we attended at the city planning office last night.

rough guess

- an approximate estimate

He made a rough guess as to how many people would come to the party.

rough up

- attack or hurt physically

The three men roughed up the bartender at the hotel and were arrested by the police.

round robin (letter)

- a letter written by a group of people with each person writing part of the letter

We sent a round robin letter to the librarian to ask for better opening hours for the library.

round robin (meeting or discussion)
- a meeting or discussion in which each person in a group takes part
We had a round robin panel discussion on what we could do to help save the environment.

round robin (tournament or contest)
- game or contest in which each player or team plays every other player or team in turn
The round robin tournament was held in order to choose the championship team for the city.

round up
- bring together, collect
We rounded up enough people to play a game of soccer last night.

rub elbows/shoulders
- be in the same place (with others), meet and mix
At the party we were able to rub elbows with many important people.

rub off
- remove or be removed by rubbing, erase
She rubbed off the writing on the whiteboard.

rub off
- pass to someone nearby, transmit to someone
Her bad habit of talking all the time has rubbed off on her husband as well.

rub out
- destroy completely, kill, eliminate
The government troops rubbed out the whole village.

rub someone the wrong way
- irritate others with something one says or does
Her lack of politeness always rubs me the wrong way.

rub something in
- continue to talk or joke about something someone said or did
I know that she made a mistake but you shouldn`t rub it in.

rule out
- decide against, eliminate
They still haven`t ruled out using him on the team for the tournament.

rule the roost
- be the dominant one in the family
She seems rather quiet but she really rules the roost in their family.

run a risk
- unprotected, open to danger or loss
You are running a great risk if you drive with him after he has been drinking.

run around
- go to different places for entertainment or to do things
We ran around all day and now we are very tired.

run around in circles
- act confused, do a lot but accomplish little
I have been running around all day but I can`t seem to get anything done.

run away with
- take quickly and secretly - especially without permission or by stealing
Someone ran away with the dictionary so now we don`t have one.

run away with
- take hold of
Their imagination ran away with them when they went to the circus. They decided that they actually wanted to join the circus.

run away with
- be much better than others, win easily
Our hometown team ran away with the football championship.

run down
- crash against and knock down
My dog was run down by a car last week.

run down
- say bad things about someone, criticize
She is always running down her friends. That is why nobody likes her.

run down
- get into poor health or condition, look bad
She has become run down since she started working at night.

run for it
- dash for safety, make a speedy escape
As soon as it started raining we ran for it and tried to get to the shelter.

run in
- make a brief visit
I ran in to see my sister at her office before I left for the weekend.

run (someone) in
- take to jail, arrest
The police ran the three boys in for questioning about the robbery.

run in the family/blood
- be a common family characteristic
Being a left-handed golfer and baseball hitter runs in our family.

run into
- add up to, total
If you decide to stay in nice hotels during your holiday it will run into a lot of money.

run into
- mix with, join with
During the hot weather the red paint on the roof ran into the white paint.

run into
- be affected by, get into
He ran into trouble when he tried to cross the border with no visa.

run into (something)
- hit something or crash into something
His car ran into the other car on the highway.

run into (someone)
- meet by chance
I ran into him when I was at the supermarket.

run into the ground
- use something more than is wanted or needed
He ran his car into the ground before he had to buy another one.

run off
- produce with a printing press or copy machine
We ran off hundreds of copies of the poster for the festival.

run off with (someone)
- go away with someone, elope
My sister ran off with her boyfriend and got married when she was quite young.

- ordinary, usual
The restaurant was in a run-of-the-mill building but it was superb.

run out (of something)
- use up, come to an end
The car ran out of gas in the middle of the countryside.

run out
- force to leave, expel
The drug dealers were run out of town by the police.

run over
- be too full and flow over the edge
The water in the bathtub ran over the edge and got everything in the room wet.

run over
- try to go over something quickly, practice briefly
We can run over this material tomorrow before the meeting.

run over
- drive on top of, ride over
We ran over a small rabbit on the way to the meeting.

run ragged
- be tired or exhausted
She has been run ragged by her three children.

run scared
- try everything to avoid defeat as in a political campaign
The senator has been running scared in his attempt to win re-election.

run short
- not have enough, be not enough in quantity
We ran short of money during our trip to Europe.

run the gauntlet
- face a hard test or painful experience
He had to run the gauntlet of many interviews before he got the job.

run through

- spend recklessly, use up wastefully

We ran through a lot of money when we were looking for a new apartment.

run through

- read or practice from beginning to end without stopping

I usually try to run through my speech a couple of times before I have to give it.

run up

- add to the amount of something, increase

He ran up a large bill at the department store before he left for home.

run up

- pull something up on a rope

We ran up the flag early this morning before the parade started.

run up against (something)

- encounter

They ran up against many problems when they were building the freeway.

run wild

- be or go out of control

The crowd ran wild after the soccer game.

Russian roulette

- a game of chance in which one bullet is placed in a revolver, the cartridge is spun, and the player aims the gun at his head and pulls the trigger

The men in the movie played Russian roulette until one of them finally died.

Russian roulette

- a potentially dangerous situation

Putting the load of plutonium on the old ship was like playing a game of Russian roulette.


sacred cow

- something that is never criticized or laughed at even if it sometimes deserves to be

The medical insurance system is a sacred cow of the government and is never criticized by anyone.

(on the) safe side

- take no chances

It may rain so just to be on the safe side I think that I will bring my umbrella.

sail into

- scold or criticize very hard, attack

As soon as I came in the door she sailed into me for being late.

salt away

- save money

She has salted away a few thousand dollars from her new job.

save face

- save one`s good reputation when something has happened to hurt it

Our boss was very embarrassed when he had to tell us that the company had lost a lot of money. However, he was able to save face when he showed that the problems were outside of his control.

save one`s breath

- remain silent because talking will do no good

You may as well save your breath and not talk to her as she never believes you anyway.

save one`s neck/skin

- save oneself from danger or trouble

He left the scene of the fire as soon as possible in order to save his own neck.

save the day

- bring about victory or success - esp. when defeat is likely

He saved the day for his team after he played his best game of the season.

say a mouthful

- say something of great importance or meaning or length

He really said a mouthful yesterday when he made the announcement about his new job.

say one`s piece

- say openly what one thinks

He said his piece at the meeting and then left quietly by the back door.

say the word

- give a sign, show a wish

Just say the word and I will come and pick you up at the airport.

scare out of one`s wits

- frighten very much

Her little girl was scared out of her wits after she saw the horror movie.

scare the daylights out of someone

- frighten very much

Falling off her bicycle scared the daylights out of her.

scare up

- find or gather something with some effort

We were able to scare up a couple of sleeping bags so that we could go camping.

scatter around

- carelessly put in different places

His papers are always scattered around his house so he is never able to find anything.

school of hard knocks

- ordinary experiences of life

He learned all about life in the school of hard knocks.

scrape the bottom of the barrel

- take whatever is left after the best has been taken

They are really scraping the bottom of the barrel if they must give him a job.

scrape together

- gather money etc. a little at a time

We managed to scrape together enough money to go to Disneyland even though business is very bad and we don`t have much money.

scrape up

- find or gather something with some effort

His girlfriend scraped up some money and went to visit him during the summer.

scratch one`s back

- do something nice for someone in the hope that they will do something for you

"You scratch my back and I`ll scratch yours," he said when he offered to help me increase my sales.

scratch the surface

- make only a beginning to do or accomplish something

They have been gathering information about the planned merger but they have only scratched the surface of what is available.

screw around

- loaf about, hang around without doing anything

I spent the morning screwing around and didn`t get anything done.

screw up

- make a mess of something

My travel agent screwed up our travel schedule so we had to stay at the airport overnight.

scrounge around

- look in many places for an item or items

We didn`t have enough wood for the small building so we had to scrounge around the neighborhood to find some.

search me

- "I don`t know.", "How should I know."

"Search me," he said when I asked him what had happened to the front of his car.

search one`s soul

- study one`s reasons and actions to see if one has been fair and honest

I have been searching my soul to see if I was responsible for the accident that destroyed my friend`s car.

second-guess someone

- guess what someone else intends to do or would have done

You should never try to second-guess the firefighters in a dangerous situation.

second hand

- not new, used by someone else

He went to a second-hand bookstore to look for the books.

second thought

- after thinking about something again

On second thought maybe you should bring an extra coat.

second wind

- regaining your energy after being tired

After we got our second wind we continued on our hike up the mountain.

security blanket

- something one holds on to for reassurance or comfort (like a child and a blanket)

He uses his computer as his security blanket so that he doesn`t have to go out and meet new people.

see about (something)

- check into something

I`ll see about getting the book for you by next week.

see eye to eye

- agree

We don`t always see eye to eye on everything but generally we get along.

see off

- go with someone to their point of departure

I went to the airport to see her off.

see one`s way clear to do something

- feel able to do something

When you see your way clear to begin the project could you please come and tell me.

see out

- go with someone to an outer door

I went to the front door to see out our guests to their cars.

see out

- finish and not quit

I decided to stay with my company for awhile in order to see out the restructuring process.

see red

- become very angry

He saw red last night when I told him about the broken dishes.

see stars

- imagine one is seeing stars as a result of being hit on the head

When I was hit by the opposing football player I fell to the ground and began to see stars.

see the light

- realize your mistake, suddenly see how to proceed with something

He finally saw the light and began to do his work the same as everyone else.

see the light of day

- be born or begun

I don`t believe that his plans to build a new house will ever see the light of day.

see the world (things) through rose-colored glasses

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

She is a little unrealistic and tends to see the world through rose-colored glasses.

see things

- imagine sights that are not real, think one sees what is not there

He is always daydreaming and imagining that he is seeing things.

see through

- understand someone`s true character or motivation

I could easily see through his attempt to fire her from her job.

see to (something)

- attend to or do something

I will see to the rental car and you can see to the airplane tickets.

see to it

- take the responsibility to do something, make sure

Will you please see to it that the garbage is taken out in the morning.

sell like hotcakes

- sell quickly, sell rapidly

The tickets for the football game were selling like hotcakes when I inquired this morning.

sell out

- be disloyal, sell a secret, be unfaithful

He said that he was a socialist but as soon as he got a good job he sold out to the establishment.

sell oneself short

- underestimate oneself

He is selling himself short when he thinks that he can`t do any other job.

send away for something

- write a letter asking for something

I sent away for some postage stamps but they haven't arrived yet.

send someone packing

- tell someone to leave, dismiss someone

He was sent packing because of his bad attitude to his job.

send up

- sentence someone to prison

He was sent up for seven years for robbing a bank.

serve one`s purpose

- be useful to someone for a certain need

That tool should serve my purpose until I find the correct one.

serve someone right

- get the punishment or results that one deserves

He never studies at all so it serves him right to fail his exam.

serve time

- spend time in jail

He served time when he was young but now he is a model citizen.

set about

- begin, start

We set about preparing the office for the move to a bigger building.

set back

- cause to put off or get behind schedule, slow up

We were set back over a month when the floods destroyed the road to our farm.

set (one) back

- cost

How much did your new suit set you back?

set eyes on

- to see

I don`t know if she is here or not. I haven`t set eyes on her since yesterday.

set foot

- step, walk

I have never set foot in that restaurant and I never will in the future.

set forth

- explain exactly or clearly

He carefully set forth the terms of the rental contract.

set forth

- start to go somewhere, begin a trip

They set forth on their holiday about 70 this morning.

set in

- weather condition begins and will probably continue

The rain has set in and it looks like it won`t stop for awhile.

set loose

- set free, release something that you are holding

The wildlife department decided to set loose the bear that it had captured.

set off

- decorate through contrast, balance by difference

He painted the trim of his house red in order to set off the light colors.

set off

- to cause to explode

The fire set off a large explosion on the ship.

set one`s heart on

- want very much

I set my heart on a nice holiday this winter but I won`t be able to go because I have no money.

set one`s mind at rest

- free oneself from worry

I told him the reason we can`t come in order to set his mind at rest.

set out

- leave on a journey

Marco Polo set out for China many years ago.

set out

- decide and begin to try, attempt

He set out to learn Spanish when he was transferred to Mexico.

set sail

- start sailing, begin a sea voyage

The three women set sail for Hawaii on a small sailboat.

set store on (by)

- like or value, want to keep

Our company sets great store on their ability to attract good people.

set the pace

- decide on a rate of speed to do something that others will follow

The manager of our section sets the pace for the employees under him.

set the world on fire

- do something outstanding or that makes one famous

He has not been able to set the world on fire with his writing but he is trying very hard.

settle for

- be satisfied with less, agree to

I settled for less than I originally wanted with my contract but still I am happy with it.

set up

- establish, provide the money for something

The newspaper company provided the money to set up the new travel magazine.

set up

- make something ready to use by putting the parts together

After we set up the gas barbecue we were able to cook dinner.

set (someone) up

- put someone in a position to be manipulated

I don`t believe that I lost that money honestly. I believe that I was set up.


- arrangement, management, circumstances

My uncle has a very nice setup at his office.

settle down

- live a quiet normal life

He settled down and started a family after he finished university.

settle a score with someone

- retaliate against someone, pay someone back for a past wrong

He always appears to be trying to settle the score with him and never treats him fairly.

seventh heaven

- a state of intense delight

She has been in seventh heaven since she got the music award.

sewed up

- won or arranged as one wishes, decided

The candidate for the nomination easily sewed up his victory last week.

shack up with

- live with someone of the opposite sex without marrying them

When his sister was younger she shacked up with her boyfriend for a couple of years.

shake a leg

- go fast, hurry

"You will have to shake a leg if you want to arrive at the movie on time."

shake down

- get money by threats

The gangsters shook down the small shop owners to get some money.

shake off (an illness)

- get rid of (an illness)

She has been unable to shake off her illness and can`t come to the party.

shake up

- change the command or leadership of something

The president decided to shake up top management in order to bring new energy into the organization.

(be) shaken up

- be bothered or disturbed

I was a little shaken up after I heard about the fire at our new apartment building.

shape up

- begin to act and look right

He has finally begun to shape up and is doing his job much better.

shell out

- pay

I shelled out over a thousand dollars for the new stereo.

shine up to

- try to please, try to make friends with

He is always shining up to his boss in the hopes of getting a raise.

shoe is on the other foot

- opposite is true, places are changed

The shoe is on the other foot now that he has also bought a house and has to pay a lot of money every month for his mortgage.


- someone or something that is expected to win, a sure winner

The new president is a shoo-in to win another term in office.

shook up

- upset, worried

He was really shook up after the accident and has not been back to work since.

shoot one`s wad

- spend all one`s money, say everything that is on one`s mind

He shot his wad on a vacation to the Caribbean last winter.

shoot straight

- act fairly, deal honestly

He always shoots straight when he is dealing with the police or the government.

shoot the breeze/bull

- talk idly

I met him at the supermarket so we decided to shoot the breeze for a few minutes.

shoot the works

- spare no expense or effort

They are planning to shoot the works when they plan the victory celebration for the Olympic medal winners.

shoot up

- grow quickly

His son really shot up quickly when he went away for the summer.

shoot up

- arise suddenly

The flames shot up over the top of the building when the wind started blowing.

shoot up

- shoot at recklessly

In many western movies the outlaws come into town and shoot up everybody.

shoot up

- take drugs by injecting them

We were going to a movie when we saw the heroin addict shooting up heroin in the alley.

shop around

- go to various stores to look for something

We shopped around for a month before we bought a new stereo system.

shore up

- add support to something which is weak

It was necessary to shore up the house after the mud slide damaged the foundation.

short and sweet

- brief and pleasant

His visit with his parents was short and sweet.

short end (of the stick)

- unfair, unequal treatment

He always gets the short end of the stick when he is at work.

short of

- not have enough of something

We are short of sugar so could you please buy some when you are at the store.

short shrift

- rude treatment

She received short shrift from her supervisor when she asked for a holiday.

shot in the arm

- something inspiring or encouraging

His job search got a shot in the arm when the company president called him in for an interview.

shot in the dark

- an attempt without much hope or chance of succeeding

The attempt to find the small boy who had fallen into the river was a shot in the dark.

shove down one`s throat

- force someone to do or agree to something not wanted

I don`t like him because he is always trying to shove his ideas down my throat.

shove off

- start, leave

I think that it is time for us to shove off. It is almost midnight.

show off

- try to attract attention, display

He has bought a lot of new clothes that recently he has been trying to show off.


- a person who brags a lot

He is a show-off and is always trying to impress other people.

show one`s cards

- disclose one`s plans

He hasn`t really shown us his cards yet so I don`t really know what he wants.

show one`s (true) colors

- show what one is really like or is thinking

He has shown his true colors lately with his attempt to punish those who don`t reach the sales target.

show someone the door

- ask someone to go away

When he started yelling in the restaurant he was quickly shown the door.

show up

- appear, arrive, be present

What time did your friend show up for the party?

show up

- become or make something easy to see

At first we couldn`t see what was written on the vase but after a little effort to clean it up the design began to show up.

shrug off

- not be bothered or hurt by something, disregard

She is a little mean but we always just shrug off her comments.

shut off

- make something like water or electricity stop

We always shut off the gas when we leave the house for more than a few minutes.

shut off

- be apart, be separated from

The small town is shut off from the other towns in the valley.

shut out

- prevent the opposite team from scoring during a game

The national soccer team shut out the second place team three games in a row.

shut up

- stop talking

"Please shut up and let someone else speak for a change."

shut up

- close the doors and windows of a building for a period of time

We decided to shut up our cottage for the summer as we would not use it anymore.

shut up

- confine

We have to shut up our dog in the house when the mailman comes.

sick and tired

- dislike something, be annoyed with something

I am sick and tired of his constant complaining.

sick of (someone or something)

- bored with, dislike

I think that she is sick of working overtime every day.

side with

- favor, support a position in a dispute

Her mother always sides with her if they have an argument.

sight unseen

- before seeing a thing or person

He bought the car sight unseen and now he is having trouble with it.

sign over

- give something legally to someone by signing one`s name

He signed over his car to his son on his 21st birthday.

sign up

- promise to do something by signing one`s name, join

He signs up for tennis lessons every summer but his ability never improves.

simmer down

- become calm, quiet

He was very angry after the meeting but he has begun to simmer down a little now.

sing (whistle) a different tune

- contradict something said before, talk or act in the opposite way

Usually he doesn`t care if he disturbs his neighbors at midnight but now that he has to get up early in the morning he is whistling a different tune.

sink in

- to penetrate, become understood

What he said hasn`t really sunk in with the other members of the company.

sink one`s teeth into

- go to work seriously

It`s a difficult problem and is a little difficult to sink your teeth into.

sink or swim

- fail or succeed by your own efforts

He will have to sink or swim when he begins his new job.

sit back

- be built a distance away from a street

The large mansion sits back three or four hundred meters from the street.

sit back

- relax, rest, take time out

We decided to sit back for the day and not do anything.

sit idly by

- sit and watch or rest while others work

He sat idly by all morning while the others worked hard.


- political demonstration where students or workers refuse to leave their classroom or job sites

The students held a sit-in demonstration to demand an end to the war.

sit in on

- attend or participate in a meeting

Our boss sat in on the meeting so that he could find out what was happening.

sit on

- be a member of a jury or board, etc.

The former Prime Minister is now sitting on the board of many corporations.

sit right (negative)

- be unacceptable

His idea seemed good at first but it doesn`t seem to sit right with the president.

sit tight

- wait patiently for something

Please sit tight for a few minutes while I go and get a police officer.

sitting duck

- a non-moving target that is easily hit by a hunter

The hunter shot the sitting ducks easily and quickly.

sitting duck

- an unsuspecting person easily fooled - as if they are waiting to be attacked

The woman was a sitting duck when she sat on the bench with her purse beside her.

sitting pretty

- be in a favorable situation

He is sitting pretty with his new job and lots of money.

sit up

- stay awake instead of going to bed

My mother had to sit up all night as my younger sister was very sick.

sit well (with)

- please or find favor with someone

His decision to leave early for the weekend didn`t sit well with the other members of the staff.

six feet under

- dead

He doesn`t plan to move until he is six feet under.

(at) sixes and sevens

- in confusion or disagreement

They have been at sixes and sevens since they opened the new school.

six of one and half-a-dozen of the other

- two things the same, no difference

It was six of one or half-a-dozen of the other as to whether or not we should take the train or the airplane. They both arrived at the same time and cost the same.

(the) size of it

- the way it is

That`s about the size of it he said as he finished telling her about the accident.

size up

- form an opinion, assess a situation

It took him a little time to size up the candidate before deciding to give him a job.

skate on thin ice

- take a chance, risk danger or disapproval

He has been skating on thin ice recently with regard to his job. He is causing many problems and may be fired.

skeleton in one`s closet

- family secret

I heard that he has a lot of skeletons in his closet that he doesn`t want to talk about.

skid row

- area of a city where many people live who have no money and drink a lot of alcohol

The skid row of our city is very depressing with the large number of drunk people around.

skin alive

- scold angrily, spank or beat

She told her son that if he was late for dinner she would skin him alive.

skin and bones

- very skinny

The cat which we found in the empty house was all skin and bones..


- only on the surface, not having any deep or honest meaning

Although beauty is said to be only skin-deep many people care about it too much.

(no) skin off one`s nose

- matter of interest, concern or trouble to one

It is no skin off my nose whether or not she comes to the party.

(by the) skin of one`s teeth

- only just, barely

We were able to arrive in time for the train by the skin of our teeth.

skip bail

- run away and not come to trial and therefore give up any money that you may have already paid the court

The man didn`t want to go to jail so he skipped bail and went to another city.

skip it

- forget all about it

"Skip it", I said as she forgot to bring me the phone number after I had asked her three times.

slap in the face

- an insult

Not getting a promotion was a real slap in the face for her.

slap together

- make in a hurry and without care

We slapped together a picnic table for the company picnic.

sleep a wink

- get a moment`s sleep

I didn`t sleep a wink last night.

sleep on it

- think about something, consider, decide later

I will have to sleep on it tonight but I will give you an answer tomorrow.

slip of the tongue

- say the wrong thing at the wrong time

His insult to the customer was a major slip of the tongue.

slip one`s mind

- be forgotten

I`m very sorry I didn`t come and meet you last night. Our appointment totally slipped my mind.

slip up

- make a mistake

I slipped up when I said that I would not be able to go to the meeting next week.

slow down

- go more slowly than usual

You should slow down a little when you come to a bridge while driving.


- a form of striking without coming to a complete stop

There was a slow-down at the post office last year.

smack into

- collide, hit

The first car ran smack into the car behind it.

small fry

- someone or something of little importance, young children

The police are trying to find some of the major criminals in the drug trade. They are not interested in the small fry.

smash hit

- a very successful performance, song, play, or movie

The series of Star War movies were all smash hits.

smell a rat

- become suspicious

I don`t know what he is doing but something seems strange and I smell a rat.

smoke out

- force out with smoke

The rats were smoked out of their nests by the black smoke.

smoke out

- find out the facts about something

They were able to easily smoke out the real reasons for his decision to leave the company.

smooth something over

- make better or more pleasant

She tried to smooth over the problems between her boss and his sales staff.

snail`s pace

- a very slow movement forward

The cars on the highway moved at a snail`s pace.

snake in the grass

- an enemy who pretends to be a friend

You should be careful of her even if she seems very nice. She is like a snake in the grass.

(a) snap

- an easy task

The exam was a snap and I`m sure that I did very well.

snap out of it

- return to normal, stop being afraid

He finally snapped out of his depression and was able to return to work quickly.

snap up

- take or accept eagerly

The tickets to the concert were snapped up in three hours.

(not to be) sneezed at

- worth having, not to be despised

That new stereo system is not to be sneezed at.

(not a) snowball`s chance in hell

- no chance at all

They don`t have a snowball`s chance in hell of winning the game tomorrow.

snow job
- insincere or exaggerated talk designed to gain the favors of someone

His presentation at the interview was a total snow job.

Last edited by Argus; Sunday, October 15, 2006 at 03:25 AM.
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