Thread: Idioms (A-Z)
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Old Friday, May 20, 2005
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snow job
- use technical vocabulary to seem like an expert in a field
The salesman gave us a snow job when he started to talk about the specifications of the machine.


snow under
- have or get so much of something that it can`t be taken care of
I have been snowed under with paperwork during the last few weeks.


soak up
- take into oneself like a sponge takes up water
He was able to soak up a lot of knowledge when he went to the summer film seminar.


sob story
- a story that makes one feel pity or sorrow
My sister told me a sob story about how she had lost her job.


sock it to someone
- give everything one is capable of
The president socked it to the audience with his speech at the convention.


so far
- until now
So far no one has entered the speech contest at the television station.


so far, so good
- until now things have gone well
"So far, so good." she replied when he asked her how her new job was going.


soft spot for someone/something
- a feeling of affection toward a person or thing

She has a soft spot for the elderly lady in the store.


so help me
- I promise, I swear
"So help me, if you don`t pay me back my money I will phone your company and ask them for help."


so long
- goodbye
"So long, I will see you next week."


somebody up there loves/hates me
- an expression meaning that an unseen power in heaven has been
favorable/unfavorable to you
"Somebody up there loves me," he said as he found the money on the side of the road.


something else
- so good as to be beyond description
The movie was something else. It was the best movie I had seen in years.


something else again
- a different kind of thing
Working all day on Saturday is OK but working all day Sunday is something else again.


so much
- a large quantity of something
There was so much rain in the spring that our garden wouldn`t grow well.


song and dance
- excuses
He gave me a song and dance about being busy but I never really believed him.


son of a gun/bitch
- a person, used as an exclamation
I wish that that son of a bitch would stop using my camera without asking me.


sooner or later
- eventually
Sooner or later you must pay me back the money so you should do it as soon as possible.


sore loser
- someone who gets angry when they lose
He is a sore loser when he doesn`t win a game of tennis.


sort of
- almost, similar to, not quite
Did you finish cleaning the kitchen? Well, sort of, but not really.


sound off
- tell what one knows or thinks in a loud voice
He is always sounding off about why he doesn`t like his job.


sound out
- try to find out how a person feels about something by asking questions
I have been sounding out my wife recently about whether or not she wants to move to a new house.


souped-up
- changing and adding something to make it more powerful or faster
He bought a souped-up car when he was a teenager.


spaced out
- confused, incoherent, resembling someone who is using drugs
He was totally spaced out when the professor asked him a question about the text.


speak for
- make a request for, ask for
He spoke for the comfortable chair as soon as he entered the room.


speak of the devil and he appears
- a person comes just when one is talking about him
"Speak of the devil and he appears," I said just as our colleague who we were talking about walked in the door.


speak one`s piece
- say openly what one thinks
I think that it is time for me to speak my piece and tell them what I want to do about the plans for a new factory.


speak out
- speak in favor of or in support of something
My boss spoke out in favor of a promotion for me.


speak up
- speak in a loud or clear voice
I had to ask the teacher to speak up as I couldn`t hear him at all.


spell out
- explain something in very simple words, explain very clearly
I spelled out our conditions for renting out our house very clearly.


spic and span
- very clean, very neat
The house was spic and span when we returned from our holiday.


spill the beans
- tell a secret, inform
He promised not to spill the beans about his plans to get married.


spitting image
- exact resemblance
He is a spitting image of his father.


split hairs
- make unnecessary distinctions
He makes a lot of good points but he also has a tendency to split hairs and waste a lot of our time.


split the difference
- settle a money disagreement by dividing the difference
We had to pay extra money for the car so we decided to split the difference.


split ticket
- vote for candidates from more than one political party
He always votes for a split ticket when he votes and never votes for only one party.


split up
- separate
They seemed like a nice couple but they suddenly decided to split up last month.


splurge on something
- spend a lot of money for something
He splurged on a beautiful present for his girlfriend.


spoon-feed
- make something very easy for someone
He is a very strict teacher and never likes to spoon-feed his students.


spread oneself too thin
- try to do too many things at one time
She has been spreading herself too thin lately and is not accomplishing very much of anything.


spring chicken
- a young person (usually negative)
She is no spring chicken. She is almost 96 years old.

spruce up
- clean, redecorate
They spruced up the community center for the summer holidays.

(on the) spur of the moment
- suddenly
He decided to go to Hong Kong on the spur of the moment.

square away
- put right for use or action
Have you squared away your plans for your holidays yet?

square one
- in the beginning
We had to go back to square one and start the project over.


square peg in a round hole
- a person who does not fit into a job or position
He is like a square peg in a round hole trying to do the job of an accountant.


squawk about
- complain about
He is always squawking about the bad service in that restaurant.


stab someone in the back
- betray someone
I dislike him because he tried to stab me in the back during the last meeting.


stack the cards
- arrange things (unfairly) for or against a person

They are stacking the cards against him with their constant demands for more and more qualifications for the job.

stamping grounds

- a place where a person spends much of his time

He went back to his old stamping grounds which he remembered as a teenager.

stamp out

- destroy completely and make disappear

The government is making a great effort to stamp out smoking among teenagers.

(can`t) stand

- can`t tolerate, dislike

She can`t stand the other people in her class.

stand a chance

- have a possibility

They stand a good chance of winning the game.

stand by

- be near, waiting to do something when needed

There is a doctor standing by in case there is a medical emergency.

stand by

- follow or keep (one`s promise), be loyal to or support

She always stands by her husband when he has a problem.


stand clear of something
- keep away from something

Please stand clear of the door while we are moving the piano.

stand for

- be a sign of, make one think of

I didn`t know what the letters stood for so I was not able to write the correct name of the company.


stand for

- speak in favor of something or show that one supports it

All of the candidates stand for a platform of law and order.

stand for

- allow to happen or be done, permit

He will not stand for anybody to come to his classes late.

stand in awe of

- look upon with wonder, feel respectful to

He stands in awe of the former coach in the football department.

stand in for someone

- be a substitute for someone else

The other actor stood in for her when she was sick.


stand (someone) in good stead
- be a great advantage to someone
It will stand you in good stead with the company if you do the extra work.


stand off
- stay at a distance, stay apart
He always stands off from the rest of the students in his class.


stand off
- keep someone or something from coming near or winning
There was a stand-off at the bank between the police and the bank robbers.


stand on ceremony
- be formal
You don`t need to stand on ceremony. You can relax.


stand one`s ground
- maintain and defend one`s position
He stood his ground over his decision to fire the employee.


stand on one`s own two feet
- be independent
He learned to stand on his own two feet when he was very young.


stand out
- be more noticeable in some way than those around one
He likes to wear clothes that make him stand out from the crowd.


stand over
- watch closely, keep checking all the time
He stood over his son all day to make sure that he was studying for his final exams.


stand pat
- be satisfied with things and be against a change
We should stand pat for awhile and not do anything to cause any problems with the negotiations.


stand to reason
- make sense, be logical
If he told a lie about that it stands to reason that he will probably lie to you about other things too.


stand up
- strong enough to use for a long time
The new carpet is able to stand up to the use of many people.


stand up and be counted
- be willing to say what one thinks in public
The union members thought it was time that they stood up and were counted before management took away their benefits.


stand (someone) up
- fail to keep an appointment or date with your boyfriend or girlfriend

He stood her up on a date last Saturday and now she won`t talk to him.

stand up for

- defend against attack, fight for

The citizens of the town were ready to stand up for their rights,

stand up to someone



- be brave in confronting someone



He stood up to his boss during the meeting when his boss criticized his work.

stars in one`s eyes



- an appearance or feeling of very great happiness



She had stars in her eyes when she saw the beautiful ring that her boyfriend had bought for her.

start in



- begin a career



He started in as a mailroom clerk but soon he began to have more and more important jobs in the company.

start the ball rolling



- begin to do something



He finally started the ball rolling on their plans to build a new house.

start up



- begin operating, begin to play



He started up a small business when he was 20 years old.

stay away from



- avoid



He has been staying away from salty foods for several months now.

stay put
- stay in one place, not leave
We decided to stay put for our holidays rather than go away.

steal one`s thunder
- do or say something that another person had planned to say
He stole my thunder when he announced that he was leaving the company before me.

steal the show
- act or do so well in a performance that you get most of the attention
The little boy stole the show at the music festival.

steer clear of someone
- avoid
I have been steering clear of that person ever since our argument.

step by step
- gradually
He has made a great effort and step by step he has learned how to use a computer.

step down
- leave an important position
My father stepped down from his job as president of his company recently.

step on it
- go faster, hurry
"Step on it," he yelled as the taxi took him to the airport a little late.

step on one`s toes
- do something that embarrasses or offends someone else
He stepped on a lot of people`s toes at work and now has many enemies.

step on the gas
- go faster, hurry
I decided to step on the gas in order to get to work on time.

step up
- make something go faster or more actively
Recently we had to step up our effort to hire some new computer programmers for our company.

step up
- rise to a higher or more important position, be promoted
He stepped up to the position of manager after the old manager was fired.

stew in one`s own juice
- suffer from something that one has caused to happen oneself
He is stewing in his own juice after he got into trouble for being late.

stick around
- stay or wait nearby
We decided to stick around after the game to talk for awhile.

stick-in-the-mud
- someone who is old-fashioned, someone who doesn`t want to join in with others
He is a stick-in-the-mud and will never join in any of the activities at a party.

stick one`s neck out
- take risks, support someone
He never sticks his neck out for anyone at work and therefore has few friends.

stick it out
- endure, continue
She doesn`t like her new job but plans to stick it out until she saves enough money to go to Europe.

stick to (a story/the facts)
- remain faithful to something
Please stick to the facts when you tell the story to the police.

stick to one`s guns
- defend an action or opinion despite an unfavorable reaction
He is sticking to his guns on his decision to fire the manager of the store.

stick up
- rob with a gun
A man with a gun tried to stick up my mother when I was a child.

stick up for
- defend, help, support
He always sticks up for the younger workers at his company.

stick with
- continue doing, not quit
He has been able to stick with his trumpet lessons since he was a child.

stick with
- stay with, not leave
If you stick with your job for a few years you will be able to save a lot of money.

stick (someone) with
- leave someone with something unpleasant
I was stuck with paying the bill when I went to the restaurant with my friends.

sticky fingers
- the habit of stealing things that one sees and wants
The young boy has sticky fingers and you must watch him all the time.

stink
- terrible, bad quality
Do you like that new policy at your company? No, I think it stinks.

stir up
- cause some action to occur, rouse
The man`s angry words stirred up the crowd and made them very angry.

stir up a hornet`s nest
- make many people angry, do something that many people don`t like
He stirred up a hornet`s nest when he began to talk about the problems with the bonus system at his job.

stone-broke
- having no money
He was stone-broke after he came back from his holiday in Greece.

stop by
- visit, pass by
Why don`t you stop by my house on your way home?

stop dead/cold
- stop very quickly or with great force
He stopped dead when he saw the bear in the middle of the road.

stop in one`s tracks
- stop very quickly or with great force
The elephant was forced to stop in its tracks by the electric fence.

stop off
- stop at a place for a short time while going somewhere
We decided to stop off in New York City on our way to Egypt.

stop over
- stay at a place overnight or for a short time while on a trip
The plane had to stop over in Alaska because one of the passengers had a heart attack.

straight from the horse`s mouth
- directly from the person involved
I went over to my friend`s house so that I could hear about her wedding straight from the horse`s mouth.

straight from the shoulder
- open and honest way of speaking
He always speaks straight from the shoulder.

straight out
- plainly, in a way that hides nothing
He was told straight out by his boss that his work was not satisfactory.

straighten up
- put in order, clean up
He had to straighten up the house before inviting his parents over for dinner.

strapped for cash
- have no money available
I am a little strapped for cash so I won`t be able to go away this summer.

straw in the wind
- a small sign of what may happen
When the company began to try and cut back on expenses it was a straw in the wind as to what would happen in the future.

straw that breaks the camel`s back
- a small problem which follows other troubles that makes you lose patience and be unable to continue as before
Recently she has caused many problems in this company. However, when she lost the key to the front door of the office it was the straw that broke the camel`s back and we decided to fire her.

stretch a point
- agree to something beyond the limit of what is normally allowed
I think it is stretching a point to think you can go and take a two-hour lunch break.

strike it rich
- become rich or successful suddenly
He struck it rich when he got a job at the computer company and was able to buy some stock very cheap.

strike out
- be put out of action through one`s own errors
He struck out in his attempt to gather enough support to build a new cafeteria in the building.

strike while the iron is hot
- take advantage of an opportunity
He decided to strike while the iron was hot and quickly applied for the job.

string along
- deceive or fool
He tried to string me along with his story about his sick mother.

string out
- make something extend over a great distance or over a long period of time
The games of the soccer tournament were strung out over a period of about 3 weeks.

strings attached
- obligations, restraining conditions
He was able to borrow the money for the furniture with no strings attached.

stuck on
- very much in love with, crazy about
My niece has been stuck on the boy next door for several months now.

stuck up
- acting as if other people are not as good as one is, conceited
We don`t like the new woman at work because she is very stuck up and thinks she is much better than the rest of us.

stuffed shirt
- a person who is too rigid or too formal
He is a stuffed shirt and I never feel comfortable to try and talk with him.

sucker list
- a list of easily-fooled people who are easily persuaded to buy something
The salesmen used a sucker list to try and get people to buy his new product.

sugar daddy
- a rich older man who gives money to a younger woman for her companionship
The woman went off on a nice winter holiday with her sugar daddy.

sum up
- put something into a few words, summarize
He summed up his presentation and asked for questions from the audience.

sunny-side up
- eggs fried on one side only
We asked for our eggs to be fried sunny-side up at the restaurant.

sure thing
- something sure to happen, something about which there is no doubt
His promotion to senior manager is a sure thing according to the president.

sure thing
- of course, certainly
"Sure thing, I would be glad to help you with your homework tonight."

swallow one`s pride
- bring one`s pride under control, become humble
I had to swallow my pride and go and ask my supervisor for some extra money.

swamped
- overwhelmed
I am a little swamped with work at the moment so I can`t meet you tonight.

swan song
- final appearance
He was a big hit during his swan song at the party last week.

swear by
- use as the support or authority that what one is saying is truthful
The accused criminal was asked to swear on a bible at the trial.

swear by
- have complete confidence in , be sure of something
He swears by the walk that he takes every morning.

swear in
- have a person promise to do his duty as a member of an organization or government dept. etc.
The new Prime Minister was sworn in last night at the parliament.

swear off
- decide to give up something that you are in the habit of using
My friend swore off alcohol several years ago.

sweat bullets/blood
- be nervous, be very worried
I was sweating bullets during the interview but after it started I was able to calm down.

sweat out
- wait anxiously, worry while waiting
I spent the evening sweating out whether or not I would get the job or not.

sweep off one`s feet
- overcome with strong feelings
We were swept off our feet over the excitement of the ceremony.

sweep under the rug
- hide or dismiss casually
They always sweep their problems under the rug and never want to discuss them.

sweetie pie
- darling, sweetheart
He always calls his wife sweetie pie. Even after they have been married for 30 years.

sweet on
- in love with, very fond of
He was sweet on his next door neighbor when he was a child.

sweet talk
- praise or flatter someone to get what you want
My sister tried to sweet talk our father into giving her the car but he said no.

swelled head
- a feeling that one is more important than one really is
He has a swelled head since he got the new position in his company.

swim against the tide/current
- do the opposite of what most people want to do
He is always swimming against the tide and never wants to do what his friends are doing.




switched on
- in tune with the latest fads, ideas and fashions
His aunt is really switched on and looks much younger than her age.

Last edited by Argus; Sunday, October 15, 2006 at 04:21 AM.
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