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Old Tuesday, November 08, 2005
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Default Idioms(T)


tail between one`s legs
- feeling ashamed or beaten
He was forced to resign from his company with his tail between his legs after he was caught lying about his expense account.

take a back seat
- accept a poorer or lower position, be second to something or someone
I had to take a back seat to my partner when we went on the business trip.

take a bath
- come to financial ruin
She took a bath on the stock market last year and is afraid to invest in stocks now.

take a beating
- lose money
His father really took a beating on the stock market recently.

take a crack at
- try, attempt
Have you decided to take a crack at the entrance exam in June?

take a dim view of
- be against, disapprove
Our company takes a dim view of people who do not wear a suit and tie.

take advantage of
- use for one`s own benefit
We took advantage of the beautiful weather and went to the beach.

take after
- resemble or act like a parent or relative
He is tall and handsome like his father and seems to take after him in other ways as well.

take a leak
- urinate
He stopped at the side of the road to take a leak when he was walking home last night.

take a powder
- leave quickly, run away
I don`t know where he is but I think that he took a powder right after the meeting.

take a shine to
- have or show a quick liking for someone
Her daughter took a shine to her new teacher and is very happy at school now.

take a stand on something
- declare firmly that one is for or against something
The Prime Minister finally took a stand on the tax issue.

take a trip
- go for a journey
We plan to take a trip to Italy in November.

take back
- admit to making a wrong statement
He had to take back what he said about his boss in front of his co-workers.

take by storm
- capture by a sudden or very bold attack
The army took the town by storm and was easily able to capture all of the enemy troops.

take by storm
- win the favor of, become popular with a group of people
The rock band took the town by storm when they came to town.

take care of
- look after or give attention to someone or something
You should take care of your health or you will get sick.

take care of
- deal with something, do what is necessary to do something
Could you please take care of these letters while I make some phone calls.

take down
- write or record what is said
I took down many notes during the lecture last week.

take down
- take apart, pull to pieces
We took down our tent as soon as it began to rain.

take down a notch (peg)
- make someone less proud or sure of himself
He was taken down a notch by his boss because he was beginning to act in an arrogant manner.

take effect
- become legally right or operative
The new laws related to alcohol took effect early last month.

take exception to
- speak against, find fault with, be angered by
He took exception to the fact that everyone was able to go and play golf except for himself.

take for
- mistake someone for something
The man took the young boy for a robber and called the police.

take for a ride
- play a trick on or fool someone, take unfair advantage of someone
I was taken for a ride by the used car salesman. The car that I bought is not very good.

take for granted
- assume something is a certain way or is correct
I took it for granted that you knew him. Otherwise I would have introduced you.

take heart
- be encouraged, feel brave and want to try something
He took heart from his previous failure and decided to try again.

take ill/sick
- become sick
She took ill during her holiday and spent most of the time in her hotel.

take in
- go and see or visit
We decided to go and take in a movie last night.

take in
- make smaller
The tailor took in the waist of my suit pants and they now fit much better.

take in
- grasp with the mind
The course was very difficult but I tried to take in as much as possible.

take in (money)
- receive, get
We were able to take in a lot of money last night at the charity auction.

take in
- let someone come in, admit
The farmer took in the couple for the night after their car broke down.

take in stride
- accept good or bad luck and go on
The boxer took his loss in stride and began to prepare for his next fight.

take it
- endure trouble or criticism or abuse
He is quite sensitive and can never really take it if I make a joke about him.

take it
- get an idea or impression, understand from what is said or done
I take it that you are not going to come to the graduation ceremony next week.

take it easy
- relax
I`ve been working hard all month so I have decided to take it easy for a few days.

take it on the chin
- be badly beaten or hurt, accept trouble calmly
Our team took it on the chin at the baseball tournament last week.

take it out on
- be unpleasant or unkind to someone because one is angry or upset
Although he has much stress from work he is careful not to take it out on his friends or family.

take its toll
- cause loss or damage
His new job and the long hours have begun to take their toll on his health.

take kindly to
- be pleased by, like
He doesn`t take kindly to people telling him how to run his business.

take leave of
- abandon, go away from or become separated from
I think that he has taken leave of his senses. He has been acting very strange lately.

take liberties
- act toward someone in too close or friendly a manner, use someone as one would a close friend or something of one`s own
She is taking liberties with her friend by always borrowing her car.

taken aback
- unpleasantly surprised, suddenly puzzled or shocked
I was taken aback when she said that she didn`t want to work with us any longer.

take off (clothes)
- remove clothes etc.
Please take off your shoes before you enter our house.

take off (time)
- be absent from work
He was sick and had to take off a week from work.

take off
- depart suddenly or quickly, run away
We decided to take off right after the concert ended.

take off
- leave on a flight
The flight took off right on time.

take on
- begin to handle, commit oneself to
Recently he has begun to take on too many things at work and has become very tired.

take on
- give a job to, hire, employ
The factory took on over fifty new employees last month.

take on
- begin to have the look of
He has begun to take on the look of a university professor although he has only been working at the university for a short time.

take on
- load
The ship took on most of its cargo the week before it left the port.

take one`s hat off to someone
- admire, respect, praise
You really have to take your hat off to him. He has built up his company from almost nothing.
take one`s own medicine
- accept punishment without complaining

He likes to criticize everyone but can never take his own medicine when others criticize him.
take one`s time

- do something without hurrying

He took his time in returning the book he had borrowed.

take out
- escort or go on a date with someone

I finally had a chance to take out the new woman from work last week.

take over
- take control, take command

Our company was taken over by a foreign company last month.
take part in

- participate in

Are you planning to take part in the seminar next week?
take place

- happen, occur

The game took place on the coldest day of the year.
take sides

- support one side on the other

You should not take sides in the argument or both sides will hate you.

take someone for a ride
- cheat, swindle

I think that they really took him for a ride when he was visiting last year.

take someone to the cleaners
- take all of someone`s money or cheat someone

He was taken to the cleaners when he decided to buy the series of books from the salesman.

take something into account
- remember and consider

Please take into account that she has only been studying French for a few weeks.

take something lying down
- suffer without a fight

I am very angry and won`t take what he says lying down.

take something to heart
- consider seriously

You shouldn`t really take what he says to heart. He is really very kind.

take something with a grain of salt
- not take seriously something someone has said

You can take everything that he says with a grain of salt.

take steps
- begin to make plans or arrangements, make preparations

The company has begun to take steps to stop people from smoking in the main office building.

take stock
- count items of merchandise or supplies in stock, take inventory

The store will be closed for three days next week while the company is taking stock.

take stock in (usually negative)
- have faith in, believe

She took no stock in the idea that women could not work as firefighters as well as men.

take stock of
- carefully study a situation or a number of possibilities or opportunities

After taking stock of the situation he decided that it would be difficult to continue working for the company.

take the bull by the horns
- take some kind of action

He finally decided to take the bull by the horns and started to plan their anniversary party.

take the edge off
- lessen, weaken, soften

We had a drink of hot chocolate in order to take the edge off the cold weather.

take the Fifth
- hide behind the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which guarantees any witness the right not to incriminate himself while testifying at a trial

He decided to take the Fifth rather than tell the truth at the trial.

take the plunge
- do something decisive (often used when you get married)

He finally decided to take the plunge and will get married next year.

take the rap
- receive punishment, be accused and punished

The owner of the restaurant was forced to take the rap over allowing underage workers to work at night.

take the words out of someone`s mouth
- say something someone else was going to say

He took the words right out of my mouth when he answered your question.

take to
- begin the work or job of, learn easily, do well at

He took to the job of administrator very easily and was a great success.

take to
- to like at first meeting, be pleased by or attracted to, accept quickly

They took to the new coach immediately and did very well during the beginning of the season.

take to task
- scold for a fault or error

I was taken to task by the supervisor for not arriving at work on time.

take to the cleaners
- win all someone`s money

He went to Las Vegas and was taken to the cleaners by the card dealers.

take to the woods
- run away and hide

He decided to take to the woods rather than wait to talk to his wife.

take turns
- do something alternately with others

We had to take turns using the dictionary as there was only one.

take (someone) under one`s wing
- protect someone

He has taken the new employee under his wing and is teaching him about the

take up
- begin an activity or hobby

He has a lot of free time lately and has decided to take up fishing as a hobby.

take up
- fill a place or time, occupy

All of his evenings have been taken up by his hobby of building model airplanes.

take up
- gather together, collect

We decided to take up a collection in order to help repair the old building.

take up
- begin, start

We took up the lesson where we had finished last week.

take up
- pull and make tight

I went back to the department store to see if they could take up my suit pants.

take up arms
- get ready to fight or make war

The citizens were not willing to take up arms to try and change their government.

talk back
- answer rudely

She is very strict and never allows her children to talk back to her.

talk big

- talk boastfully, brag
He is always talking big but nobody believes what he says.

talk down to someone
- use words or ideas that are too simple

I don`t really like her because she is always talking down to the people around her.

talk into
- get someone to agree to something, persuade someone to do something

She finally talked her father into lending her the family car.

talk out
- discuss until everything is agreed on, settle

We stayed up late last night and talked out the problem.

talk out of
- persuade not to, decide not to

I spent about an hour yesterday trying to talk my friend out of quitting his job.

talk over
- discuss

You had better talk over your plans with your parents before you decide what to do.

talk shop
- talk about things in one`s work

Everyone at the restaurant decided that they would not talk shop during the dinner.

talk through one`s hat
- make exaggerated or inaccurate statements

He is always talking through his hat and you never know if you can believe him or not.

talk turkey
- discuss seriously

Now you`re talking turkey so let`s finish and go home.

talk up
- speak in favor of

The manager was talking up the product as we entered the meeting.

tan someone`s hide
- give a beating to, spank hard

The boy`s mother threatened to tan his hide if he did not behave himself.

taper off
- come to an end little by little, become smaller toward the end

The rain began to taper off early in the afternoon.

tar and feather
- punish severely

The teacher said that she would tar and feather anyone who didn`t do their homework.

tear down
- take down, destroy

The city decided to tear down the building because it was unsafe.

tear down
- say bad things about, criticize

The audience tore down his argument after he finished the lecture.

tear up
- tear something up into small pieces

The child tore up the new telephone book.

tell apart
- distinguish between two things or people

It is hard to tell the two sisters apart.

tell it like it is
- be honest, sincere, tell the truth

Although what he said was very difficult for everyone to believe he decided to
tell it like it is anyway.

tell it to the marines (Sweeney)
- I don`t believe you, stop trying to fool me

She said that she was going to start her own business but I told her to tell it to the marines as I didn`t believe her.

tell (someone) off
- speak to angrily

He told his neighbor off after their music was too loud last night.

tell on someone
- reveal the activities or wrongdoings of someone by telling others

She told on her brother for eating the cake.

tempest in a teapot
- great excitement about something not important

The problem was really a tempest in a teapot and after a few days everyone had forgotten about it.

- I understand you.

"Ten-four", he said when his friend asked him if he understood the plan.

- in a state of suspense or strain because of uncertainty

They have been on tenterhooks all week while waiting for the decision about the Olympics.

that will be the day
- that will never happen

That will be the day that he is willing to put you in charge of running the restaurant.

- dumb, unreasonable

He is a little bit thick and never understands what I want to say.

think better of
- consider something again and make a better decision about something

I would think better of going to Europe in the winter if I have a chance to go again.

think little of
- think that something or someone is not important or valuable

She is not very happy and seems to think little of the people that she is working with.

think nothing of something
- not worry about something, forget it

When he goes drinking he thinks nothing of spending most of his money at one time.

think out
- think through to the end

I didn`t really have time to think out the problem of where everyone would sleep before the guests arrived.

think out loud
- say what one is thinking

I am sorry. I was thinking out loud about the new system we have started.

think over
- consider carefully

He carefully thought over his plans before talking to his supervisor.

think twice about something
- think very carefully

You should think twice before you go ahead and quit your job.

think up
- invent, create

He has thought up a lot of interesting ideas for his company.

(the) third degree
- detailed questioning

His mother gave him the third degree when he came home late last night.

three sheets to the wind
- unsteady from too much liquor, drunk

I saw him walking down the street last night but he seemed to have three sheets to the wind.

through the grapevine
- hear from other people

I heard it through the grapevine that he was going to move to Paris next summer.

through the mill
- experience a difficult situation

He has really been through the mill after his divorce and loss of job.

through thick and thin
- through all difficulties and troubles, through good times and bad times

Her husband is always ready to help her and supports her through thick and thin.

throw a curve
- take someone by surprise in an unpleasant way

Everything was going well until he threw me a curve and told me that we would have to move to another office building next month.

throw a monkey wrench into
- cause something that is going smoothly to stop

He threw a monkey wrench into our plans to go to the lake for the summer.

throw away a chance or opportunity
- fail to make use of a chance or opportunity

He threw away a chance to get a good education when he began to work when he was very young.

throw cold water on
- discourage, forbid

My boss quickly threw cold water on my plan to go to New York on a field trip.

throw down the gauntlet
- challenge someone to a fight or something similar

The government threw down the gauntlet to the opposition party to either give an alternative or stop criticizing the government`s plans.

throw in
- give or put in as an addition

When we bought the car the dealer threw in some new tires as a bonus.

throw in one`s lot with
- join, take part in something

He decided to throw in his lot with the members of the company who were on strike.

throw in the towel
- surrender, give up

The boxer threw in the towel about half way through the match.

throw off
- get free from

I was able to throw off my cold and quickly recovered.

throw off
- mislead, confuse, fool

The criminals threw off the police and escaped into the subway.

throw one`s weight around
- use one`s influence in an aggressive way

He has been throwing his weight around ever since he got his new promotion.

throw out
- force to leave, dismiss

The umpire threw out the coach for arguing with him.

throw the baby out with the bathwater
- reject all of something because part of it is faulty

When they decided to get rid of all of the computers because one was broken it was like throwing the baby out with the bath water. They only needed one new computer.

throw the book at
- punish severely for breaking a rule or the law

The government threw the book at him after he was convicted of drunk driving.

throw together
- make in a hurry and without care

We didn`t have much time last night so we threw together a quick meal and then went to the football game.

(be) thrown together
- be grouped with other people by chance

We were thrown together with some strange people when the storm forced the plane to delay its flight for a day.

throw to the wolves
- send into danger without protection

The small boy was thrown to the wolves when he was made to join the team of older players.

throw up
- vomit

He threw up two times after he got food poisoning from the seafood.

throw up one`s hands
- give up trying, admit that one cannot succeed

He threw up his hands and decided to let the students go home early.

thumb a lift/ride
- hitchhike

Their car had a flat tire so they thumbed a lift to the nearest gas station.

thumb one`s nose
- look with disfavor or dislike

The star player thumbed his nose at the fans when they began to boo him.

tickled pink
- very happy

He was tickled pink to be awarded a prize for growing the best flowers.

tide (someone) over
- help someone through a difficult situation

I lent him some money to tide him over until he gets paid.

tie the knot
- get married

They decided to tie the knot after seeing each other for over three years.

tie down
- keep someone from going somewhere or doing something

The project tied him down for over three months.

tied down
- have family or job responsibilities

I never see him anymore as he is tied down because of his busy schedule at work.

tie in
- to connect with something else

The merchandise was tied in with the movie and had very good sales.

tie up
- slow or stop the movement or action of

The highway traffic was tied up for over three hours last night.

tie up
- take all the time of someone

I was tied up this morning so I was unable to answer the phone.

tie up
- limit or prevent the use of

All of his money is tied up in real estate investments.

tie up
- enter into an association or partnership, join

Our company decided to tie up with a company from Sweden to make the pollution control equipment.

tie up
- dock (a ship)

The ship docked at the pier three days before it was ready to load.

tie up in knots
- make someone very nervous or worried

He was tied up in knots before the speech at the convention.

tighten one`s belt
- economize, spend less

We will have to tighten our belts for awhile until the economy improves.

tight spot
- a difficult situation

They are in a very tight spot since the head salesman quit.

tight squeeze
- difficult financial situation

The company is in a tight squeeze now that sales are down from last year.

time after time
- repeatedly

I have told her time after time to be careful with her spelling.

time of one`s life
- a wonderful time

She had the time of her life when she went to Rome last summer.

time out
- time when a game or something is temporarily stopped for some reason

During the game we took some time out to rest.

tip (someone) off
- warn, inform

The police were tipped off that there was going to be a robbery at the bank.

tip the balance
- have important or decisive influence, decide

His ability to speak French tipped the balance in his favor to get the job at the embassy.

tip the scales
- weigh

The sumo wrestler tipped the scales at over 200 kilograms.

tire out
- make very tired

My father was tired out after working hard all day.

tit for tat
- equal treatment in return, a fair exchange

The government policy was a tit for tat response to any attacks against its territory.

to a fault
- so very well that it is almost bad

He is honest to a fault and will not say anything unless it is the absolute truth.

to and fro
- forward and back again and again

They went to and fro between the two items trying to decide what to buy.

to a T
- perfectly, exactly

That new suit fits you to a T.

to be sure
- without a doubt, certainly

To be sure it would be better to talk to the president of the company in person.

to boot
- in addition, also

You will not only need a new video. You will need a new television to boot.

toe the line
- obey the rules and do one`s duties

The children were forced to toe the line when the new teacher arrived.

to heel
- under control

The army brought the citizens to heel when they entered the town.

tone down
- make less harsh or strong, moderate

The union leader was forced to tone down his language after the strike began
to grow violent.

too bad
- worthy of sorrow or regret

It is too bad that the university decided to close the bookstore last year.

too big for one`s breeches/boots
- feeling more important than one really is

Our new boss is too big for his breeches and needs someone to tell him to change his behavior.

too many irons in the fire
- too many things you are trying to do

He has too many irons in the fire at the moment and has no time for other things.

to one`s name
- in one`s ownership

He is a very good dresser although he doesn`t have a penny to his name.

to order
- according to directions given in an order in the way something is made or size wanted etc.

He had three suits made to order when he visited Hong Kong last year.

tooth and nail
- fiercely, as hard as possible

He decided to fight tooth and nail to get a transfer to another department of the company.

- of the best or most important kind

When he buys a new car he always buys a top-drawer model.

to pieces
- into broken pieces or fragments, destroyed, not working

His car fell to pieces during his recent trip to Alaska.

to pieces
- very much, greatly

He loves his little girl to pieces.

- excellent, the best

They had a top-notch cook at the restaurant but he left last month.

top off
- come or bring to a special or unexpected ending, climax

The conference was topped off by a large dinner on the last day.

- upside down, in disarray

My apartment was topsy-turvy so I stayed home to clean up.

to speak of
- important, worth talking about

We didn`t do anything to speak of during the summer vacation.

toss off
- drink rapidly

He tossed off a couple of drinks before he went home for the evening.

toss off
- make or say easily without trying or thinking hard

He was able to toss off the answer to the question easily when the teacher asked him.

toss out
- force to leave, dismiss

The boys was tossed out of the restaurant for their bad behavior.

to the bone
- thoroughly, entirely

He became wet to the bone when the sudden storm appeared.

to the eye
- as it is seen, apparently

To the eye it looked like a nice hotel but when we entered it was not very good at all.

to the full
- very much, fully

He always tries to live his life to the full.

to the hilt
- to the maximum amount, completely

He has been up to the hilt in debt since he bought that car.

to the letter
- exactly, precisely

The police officer always follows the law to the letter.

to the nth degree
- to the greatest degree possible, extremely

They made an effort to the nth degree but were unable to successfully complete the project.

to the tune of
- to the amount or extent of

The damage that he did to his car was to the tune of about $2000.

to the wall
- into a place from which there is no escape

The credit agency pushed him to the wall and he finally had to declare bankruptcy.

touch and go
- uncertain, dangerous situation

It was touch and go as to whether she was going to survive after the car accident.

touch off
- cause to fire or explode by lighting the fuse

The fire at the oil refinery touched off an explosion that destroyed many tanks.

touch off
- start something

The arrest of the labor leader touched off a riot among the citizens.
touch on (upon)

- speak of or write of briefly

The news article about the company touched upon their previous legal problems.

touch up
- paint over (small imperfections)

I decided to have the repair shop touch up several places on my car where the paint was bad.

touch up
- improve with small additions or changes

My essay will be done as soon as I touch up some of the weak spots.

tough break
- unlucky event, misfortune

He received a tough break when he became sick immediately before the music contest.

tourist trap
- place that is overpriced and attracts tourists

He thinks that Hawaii is a tourist trap and doesn`t want to go there for his holiday.

tower of strength
- a person who gives strong and reliable support

He has been a real tower of strength to his sister since her husband died.

track down
- search for

I have been trying to track down an old Beatles album for many months.

trade something in
- exchange something old or used for something new

He traded in his old car for a new one.

travel light
- travel with very little luggage or with little to carry

We always travel very light when we go on a holiday.

tread on one`s toes
- do something that offends someone

I don`t want to tread on her toes because she is the most powerful supervisor in this company.

treat someone
- pay for someone else

He treated me to a dinner at the restaurant.

trial and error
- a way of solving problems by trying different possible solutions until one finds one that works

They worked by trial and error until they found a solution to the parking problems at the factory.

trial balloon
- a hint about a plan with the purpose of finding out what people think about the idea

We sent up a trial balloon to see who would support our plan to enlarge the factory.

trick of the trade
- a smart, quick or skillful way of doing something

He knows many of the tricks of the trade in the publishing business.

trip the light fantastic
- go dancing

It`s Friday night so let`s go downtown and trip the light fantastic.

trip up
- make a mistake

The teacher tripped up over the correct pronunciation of the president`s name.

trump up
- make up, invent in the mind

He was arrested on trumped up charges of selling illegal CDs.

trump card
- something kept back to be used to win success if nothing else works

His trump card was his knowledge of the sales figures that nobody else knew..

try on
- put on clothes to see how they fit and look

You should try on that jacket before you buy it.

try one`s hand
- make an inexperienced attempt at something

I have decided to try my hand at sailing a boat this summer.

try (something) out

- test
We were not allowed to try the computer out before we bought it.

try out for
- planning to join or take part in a team, competing for a place

Their son has decided to try out for the football team this summer.

- a game in which two teams pull on opposite ends of a rope and try to pull the other team over a line marked on the ground

The children played tug-of-war at the summer camp.

- a contest in which two sides try to defeat each other, a struggle

The two countries have been in a tug-of-war over the territory for many years.

tune in
- adjust a radio or television to pick up a certain station

We were able to tune in to the basketball game when we were driving to work this morning.

tune in
- get in touch with something important like one`s own feelings, etc.

She is always going to workshops and taking short courses to help her tune in to her feelings.

tune up
- adjust a musical instrument to the right sound

The orchestra tuned up their instruments before the performance.

tune up
- adjust a car engine so that it will run properly

We took our car to the garage to be tuned up before we went on our holiday.

turn a deaf ear to
- pretend not to hear, refuse to hear

The company turned a deaf ear to our demands for more money and holidays.

turn down
- reduce the loudness, brightness or force of something

I went over to my next door neighbor and asked him to turn down his stereo.

turn down
- refuse to accept, reject

The union turned down the company offer of more money but no change in working conditions.

turn in
- give to someone, hand to someone

I turned in the wallet that I had found to the police.

turn in
- inform on, report

The department store turned in the shoplifter to the police.

turn in
- go to bed

We decided to turn in about 90 PM last night.

turn off
- shut off, stop

Please turn off the lights before you go out.

turn off
- leave by turning right or left onto another road or path

When we arrived at the small store we decided to turn off on the small road.

turn (someone) off
- disgust, irritate, repel someone

Her constant complaining always turns me off.

turn on
- open, start, let water or electricity flow

Please turn on the radio so we can hear the evening news.

turn (someone) on
- excite a person, become interested in an idea, person or undertaking

She was turned on by the idea of going to Spain for the summer.

turn on someone
- become suddenly hostile to someone

He used to be my friend but he suddenly turned on me last summer.

turn one`s back on
- refuse to help someone in trouble or need

She turned her back on her friend when she asked for help writing the exam paper.

turn one`s stomach
- make one feel sick

Seeing the car accident turned my stomach.

turn on one`s heel
- turn around suddenly

The mailman turned on his heel when when he saw the large dog.

turn out
- make someone leave or go away

The man decided to turn his son out of the house when he refused to get a job.

turn out
- turn inside out, empty

He turned out his pockets when he was looking for his car keys.

turn out
- result, end, prove to be true

At first we thought the weather would be terrible but it actually turned out

turn out
- make, produce

The car company is turning out over 8,000 cars a week now.

turn out
- come or go out to see or do something

Over 50.000 people turned out for the football game.

turn out
- make a light go out

He always turns out the light if he doesn`t need it.

turn over
- roll over, upset

The ferry turned over during the winter storm.

turn over
- give to someone for use or care

I turned over the keys of my apartment to the landlord when I went away for a month.

turn over
- start an engine or motor

It was too cold in the morning so the car engine would not turn over.

turn over
- sell

We were able to turn over most of our stock of air conditioners during the summer.

turn over a new leaf
- make a fresh start

I`m going to turn over a new leaf and begin to practice the piano every day.

turn over in one`s grave
- be so angry that one would not rest quietly in one`s grave

My grandmother would turn over in her grave if she knew that I had lost my job and was not working.

turn tail
- run away from trouble or danger

The young boys turned tail when the farmer began to chase them from the field.

turn the clock back
- return to an earlier period

The politician wanted to turn the clock back to an earlier time but of course everyone knew it was impossible.

turn the other cheek
- let someone do something to you and not try to get revenge

He decided to turn the other cheek when the man tried to start a fight in the restaurant.

turn the tables
- reverse the situation

The opposing team were able to finally turn the tables and won the game.

turn the tide
- change what looks like defeat into victory

At the beginning of the game they were losing badly but they turned the tide and finally won the game.

turn the trick
- bring about the result one wants, succeed in what one plans to do

He wanted to win two prizes at the competition but was unable to turn the
trick and only won one.

turn thumbs down
- disapprove or reject, say no

My supervisor turned thumb downs to my plan to work on a more flexible schedule.

turn to
- go to for help

He turned to his wife`s parents for advice about buying a house.

turn up
- appear suddenly

They turned up when the party was almost over.

turn up
- find, discover

My wallet turned up in my suit jacket - just where I left it.

turn up one`s nose at
- refuse as not being good enough for one

He turned up his nose at the offer of a job in another department of the company.

twiddle one`s thumbs
- not busy, not working
He was sitting around twiddling his thumbs all day and didn`t get any work done.

twist someone around one`s little finger
- have complete control over someone and be able to make them do anything you want
She is able to easily twist her supervisor around her little finger and gets whatever she wants at work.

twist one`s arm
- force someone or threaten someone to make them do something
He didn`t have to twist my arm to get me to go to the movie. I wanted to go anyway.

two bits
- twenty-five cents, a quarter of a dollar
He bought several used books for two bits each.

two cents
- something not important or very small, almost nothing
Although his stereo works well I wouldn`t give him two cents for it.

two cents worth
- something one wants to say, opinion
He is always talking and I never have a chance to put in my two cents worth.

- disloyal, untrustworthy
I think he is two-faced and can never be trusted.
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Old Tuesday, November 08, 2005
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Default Idioms(U, V, W)


ugly duckling
- an ugly or plain child who grows up to be pretty and attractive

She was an ugly duckling when she was a child but now she is very beautiful.

under a cloud
- under suspicion, not trusted
The politician has been under a cloud over the possibility of taking bribes.

under a cloud
- depressed, sad
She has been under a cloud of depression since her cat died.

under cover
- hidden, concealed
The police officer went under cover to look for the drug dealers.

under fire
- being shot at or attacked, under (verbal) attack
The owner of the company is under fire for not paying his employees a fair salary.

under one`s belt
- in one`s experience, memory or possession
When he has more experience as a cook under his belt he will begin to look for
a job.

under one`s belt
- in one`s stomach
After he has a big breakfast under his belt he is ready for work.

under one`s breath
- in a whisper, with a low voice
He was talking under his breath in the movie theater and someone complained.

under one`s nose
- in sight of, in an easily seen or noticeable place
He found his driver`s license right under his nose where he had left it.

under one`s own steam
- by one`s own efforts, without help
He was able to go home under his own steam even though he was feeling
very sick.

under one`s thumb
- obedient to someone, controlled by someone
He is only an assistant salesman but he has his boss under his thumb.

under one`s wing
- under the care or protection of
He took the new employee under his wing to help him in the new job.

under the counter
- secretly bought or sold
The drugs are being sold under the counter although the government has not given its approval.

under the hammer
- up for sale at an auction
The painting went under the hammer and sold for a very high price.

under the table
- in secret and usually illegal
He paid some money under the table in order to get his product exported into the country.

under the weather
- feel ill (but not seriously ill)
He is feeling under the weather so he is going to bed early tonight.

under wraps
- not allowed to be seen until the right time, in secrecy
The new car was still under wraps when the auto show started.

unearthly hour
- absurdly early or inconvenient
We got up at an unearthly hour this morning so we could get ready to go

until hell freezes over
- forever, for an eternity
He said that he would not talk to his girlfriend again until hell freezes over.

up against
- close to
The ladder was standing up against the tree in the yard.

up against
- confronted with
He was up against a lot of problems when he went to university but recently he is doing very well.

up and about
- recovered from an illness
He has been up and about for a couple of days since he left the hospital.

up for grabs
- available for anyone to try to get, ready to be competed for
The new championship of the city is up for grabs.

up front
- honestly, correctly
He was very up front when giving me the information about the new office.

up in arms
- equipped with guns or weapons and ready to fight, very angry and ready to fight
The villagers were up in arms over the proposal to take some of their land away from them.

up in the air
- not settled, undecided
Whether or not I will be able to go to London is still up in the air.

up one`s alley
- something one is good at or enjoys
Computer programming is right up his alley and he is very good at it.

up one`s sleeve
- kept secretly ready for the right time or for a time when needed
He probably has something up his sleeve and will be able to get a job when he needs one.

upper crust
- richest, most famous or important people in a certain place, the highest class
The private club was full of what looked like the upper crust of the city.

upper hand
- controlling power, advantage
The union members have the upper hand in the negotiations with the company.

ups and downs
- alternate good and bad fortune
He is having a few ups and downs but generally he is doing well.

upset the applecart
- ruin or spoil a plan or idea
Try not to upset the applecart as we have spent a lot of time working on this project.

up the creek
- in trouble
She is up the creek now that she has lost her passport.

up the river/creek with no paddle
- in trouble and unable to do anything about it
I think that we are up the river with no paddle now that our car has run out
of gasoline.

- worried, irritated, excessively eager or anxious
My sister has been uptight all week because of her exams.

up to
- as far as, as deep or as high as, close to, approaching
The water in the swimming pool came up to my waist.

up to
- doing or planning secretly, ready for mischief
I don`t know what he was up to last night but it was probably something bad.

up to
- depending on
It is up to his wife whether or not he goes to the movie.

up to it/the job
- capable of, fit for, equal to
If he is up to it we should let him drive the truck to the new office.

up to/till/until
- until
Up until last week he had never been inside of a bowling alley.

up to here with
- sick of someone`s continual bad or irritating behavior
I have had it up to here with his always coming late to work.

up to one`s ears in work
- have a lot of work to do
I`d like to go with you but I`m up to my ears in work at the moment.

up to par/scratch/snuff/the mark
- meeting normal standards, equal to the usual level or quality
His work was not up to par and he was asked to leave and look for another job.

up to someone to do something
- be responsible to take care of something
It is up to her to decide when the meeting will start.

(in) up to the chin
- very busy with, deeply involved in something, guilty of
He has been in up to the chin in the project to build a new convention center.

used to

- accustomed to
He is not used to living in such a big city.

use one`s head/bean/noodle/noggin
- think carefully about
You should use your head a little more and try not to make the same mistake again.

use up
- use until nothing is left, spend or consume completely
They used up all of the paper in the copy machine this morning.

very well

- agreed, all right
Very well, if you want to go I will go with you.

vicious circle
- unbroken sequence of cause and effect with bad results
He had fallen into a vicious circle of drinking too much and then losing his job and then drinking even more.

vote down
- defeat in a vote
The proposal to extend the opening hours of bars was voted down in the election.


wade into
- attack, join in
The football player waded into the fight to protect his teammates.

wait on (someone) hand and foot
- serve in every possible way, do everything for someone
He always waits on his wife hand and foot.

wait table
- serve food
He spent the summer waiting tables at the resort.

wait up for
- not go to bed until someone arrives or something happens
The woman waited up for her daughter to come home.

walk all over someone
- take advantage of someone, win a game easily
They walked all over the other team at the football tournament.

walk away/off with
- take and go away with, take away, steal
Someone walked away with the computer from the library last night.

walking papers
- a statement that one is fired from one`s job, dismissal
He was given his walking papers from his company last week.

walk of life
- way of living, manner in which people live
People from every walk of life came to the concert in the park.

walk on air
- feel happy and excited
She has been walking on air all morning since she heard that she had passed
her exams.

walk out
- go on strike
More than half of the workers at the factory decided to walk out on strike this morning.

walk out
- leave suddenly
Three people walked out of the meeting yesterday.

walk (all) over
- make someone do whatever one wishes, make selfish use of
He tried to walk all over me when I began the job but after I became used to the company he stopped.

walk the floor
- walk back and forth across the floor, pace
He spent the night in the hospital walking the floor while waiting for his wife to have a baby.

walk the plank
- be forced to resign from a job
The vice-president was forced to walk the plank when the new president joined the company.

walk the plank
- be forced by pirates to walk a long plank from the ship out over the water to your death
The pirates seized the small ship and forced the captain to walk the plank.

waltz off with
- to take, get or win easily
My favorite team waltzed off with the championship again last night.

warm one`s blood/heart
- make one feel warm or excited
The sight of the small boy looking after his dog warmed the heart of the people on the street.

warm up
- become friendly or interested
His wife finally warmed up to the idea of going to Italy for a holiday.

warm up
- get ready for a game or other event by exercising or practising
We spent two hours warming up for the game on Saturday.

wash one`s hands of
- abandon, refuse responsibility for
He washed his hands of the problem after they refused to deal with it.

washed up
- no longer successful or needed
The boxer was all washed up and had to retire last year.

waste one`s breath
- speak pointlessly without the desired results
He is very stubborn and you are wasting your breath to try and argue with him.

watch it
- be careful (usually used as a command)
"Watch it! That truck is going very fast and may hit you."

watch/mind one`s P`s and Q`s
- be well-behaved, be careful
The boy was told to watch his P`s and Q`s by his teacher after he caused too many problems at school.

water down
- make weak, dilute
The new policy was a watered down version of the earlier one.

water under the bridge
- something that happened in the past and can`t be changed
It was terrible that your house was robbed but it is water under the bridge now and you must move on.

way the wind blows
- direction or course something may go, what may happen
We will have to see which way the wind blows as far as our plans to go to London or not.

wear and tear
- damage as a result of ordinary use
They put a lot of wear and tear on their car during their long holiday.

wear down
- make something become less useful or smaller or weaker by wearing or aging
Little by little the water wore down the rocks at the edge of the river.

wear down
- exhaust or tire someone out
He was worn down after the meeting that took seven hours.

wear off/away
- remove or disappear little by little by use, time or weather
The name on the front of my passport has worn off from using it too much.

wear on
- anger or annoy, tire
His constant complaining is beginning to wear on my nerves.

wear one`s heart on one`s sleeve
- show one`s feelings openly
He was wearing his heart on his sleeve after the meeting with his boss.

wear out
- use or wear something until it becomes useless
My shoes wore out during my trip to Paris.

wear out one`s welcome
- visit somewhere too long or come back too often so that one is not

welcome anymore
My friend has worn out his welcome at our house as he always comes to visit us without calling first.

wear the pants in a family
- be the boss in a family
She is very strong and seems to be the one who wears the pants in her

wear thin
- become thin from use or the passing of time
The silver dollar had begun to wear thin after it was in use for many years.

wear thin
- grow less or less interesting or believable
His excuses have begun to wear thin after he keeps using the same ones over and over.

weed out
- remove what is unwanted, get rid of
I spent the morning weeding out the clothes that I didn`t need anymore.

weigh on/upon
- be a weight or pressure on someone or something, worry or upset someone
The pressure of her exams has begun to weigh upon my sister.

weigh one`s words
- be careful of what one says
You should weigh your words carefully before you tell him your decision to quit.

well and good
- good, satisfactory
It is well and good that he will go and talk to his supervisor about the problem.

- rich
He seems rather well-heeled and is always wearing expensive clothes and driving a nice car.

- wealthy
Her parents are well-off and don`t need to worry about money during their retirement.

- having or making enough money to live comfortably
He comes from a rather well-to-do family.

wet behind the ears
- inexperienced, immature
He is a little wet behind the ears and doesn`t know much about the company yet.

wet blanket
- person who discourages others from having fun
He is a wet blanket so we never invite him to any parties.

wet one`s whistle
- have a drink, especially alcohol
They decided to stop at a bar on the way home from work to wet their

what about
- about or concerning something
I know that he wants to borrow my tent but what about my sleeping bag.

what have you
- whatever one likes or wants
"I`ll have a blueberry ice cream cone or what have you."

(have) what it takes

- ability for a job, courage
He really has what it takes to be a success at his job.

what`s the big idea
- what is the purpose, what do you have in mind
"What`s the big idea. Why are you using my bicycle?"

what`s up/cooking/doing
- what is happening, what is planned, what is wrong
"What`s up ", he said as he entered the room.

what`s what
- what each thing is in a group, one thing from another
It is hard to tell what`s what at an auction of old furniture.

what`s (up) with
- what is happening/wrong, how is everything
"What`s with the new supervisor? He seems very angry this morning."

what with
- because, as a result of
We wanted to go away for a holiday but what with the move to a new building and the expansion we are too busy to go anywhere.

wheel and deal
- take part in political or commercial scheming
There was a lot of wheeling and dealing going on before they built the new convention center.

when hell freezes over
- never
He said that he would come to an office party when hell freezes over.

when the chips are down
- at the most important or dangerous time, when the winner and loser of a bet or a game will be decided

When the chips are down he will always come and help his friends.

while away the time
- make time go by pleasantly
We spent the afternoon whiling away the time by the river.

(a) while back
- several weeks or months in the past
I saw him a while back but recently I have no idea where he is.

whip up
- make or do quickly or easily
It was very late when we got home last night so we whipped up something to eat very quickly.

whip up
- make active, stir to action
The union leader whipped up the crowd with his speech.

whistle a different tune
- change one`s attitude, contradict previous ideas
He is whistling a different tune now that he has been promoted and has responsibility for the office.

whistle in the dark
- try to stay brave and forget one`s fear
Although he felt very frightened he began to whistle in the dark which helped to calm him down.

white elephant
- a useless possession
They are having a white elephant sale at the school next week.

white lie
- a harmless lie (eg. told for the sake of politeness)
I told her a white lie when I said that I would be too busy to meet her.

white sale
- selling at reduced prices of towels, linens, etc.
We went to the white sale at the department store last Saturday.

whole show
- everything
The new boss always tries to run the whole show.

wide of the mark
- far from the target or the thing aimed at, incorrect
His ideas for the new company were wide of the mark from what everyone expected.

wildcat strike
- a strike not ordered by a labor union but spontaneously by a group of workers
There was a wildcat strike at the factory last night.

will not hear of
- will not allow or consider
My aunt said that she will not hear of us staying at a hotel when we come to see her.

wild goose chase
- absurd or hopeless search
He led them all on a wild goose chase when he told them about the sale at the computer store.

will power
- strength of mind
He has very strong will power and was able to quit smoking easily.

wind up
- end, finish, settle
Let`s wind things up now and then we can all go home.

wind up
- tighten the spring of a machine to make it work or run
Every night before he goes to bed my grandfather winds up his alarm clock.

wind up
- make very excited, nervous or upset
I was really wound up yesterday after work so I couldn`t get to sleep easily.

wing it
- act without preparation
He wasn`t prepared for the examination so he had to wing it.

wink at
- allow and pretend not to know about something (a law or rule being broken)
The librarian always winks at the rule about borrowing a maximum of three books.

winning streak
- a series of several wins one after the other
Our baseball team has been on a winning streak for several weeks now.

win out
- be victorious or successful after hard work or difficulty
We have had a lot of problems with our boss recently but finally we won out and he agreed to listen to our complaints.

wipe out
- remove, kill or destroy completely
The city spends a lot of money trying to wipe out rats near the river.

- a disaster, a calamity
My exams were a total wipe-out. I think that I failed all of them.

- sarcastic or nasty remark
She made a funny wisecrack during the speech which caused the audience to start laughing.

wise guy
- a person who acts as if he were smarter than other people
He always acts like a wise guy when he is in a big group.

wise up to
- finally understand what is really going on after a period of ignorance
He finally wised up to the fact that he was never going to get a promotion in his company.

- unable to decide, have no definite opinion
He is very wishy-washy and can never make up his mind what he wants to do.

with child
- pregnant, going to have a baby
I think that the new teacher at our school is with child.

with flying colors
- with great or total success
I was able to pass my final exams with flying colors.

within an inch of one`s life
- until one is almost dead
The elderly man was beaten to within an inch of his life.

within reason
- sensible, reasonable
I think that, within reason, you should be able to take as much time off as you want to go to school.

with open arms
- greet someone warmly or eagerly
My aunt and uncle were at the airport to greet us with open arms.

with the best of them
- as well as anyone
He can play soccer with the best of them when he makes the effort.

wit`s end
- not knowing what to do, at the end of one`s mental resources
I have been at my wit`s end all week trying to decide what to wear to the party.

wolf in sheep`s clothing
- a person who pretends to be good but really is bad
He is a wolf in sheep`s clothing and you should be very careful when you have to deal with him.

word for word
- in exactly the same words
I told her word for word exactly what had happened before the accident.

word of mouth
- passing information orally from one person to another
He heard about the new restaurant by word of mouth.

worked up
- feeling excited, angry, worried
He is all worked up about the fact that he wasn`t invited to the party.

work in
- rub in
We spent a long time trying to work the softening cream into the leather.

work in
- slip in, mix in, put in
I was able to work in a part in the play for my best friend.

work into
- force into little by little
He was able to work his foot into his boot but it was still very tight.

work off
- make something go away - especially by working
He was able to work off his hangover and is now feeling much better.

work on/upon
- have an effect on, try to influence or convince
I am working on my boss to let me have some time off this summer.

work one`s fingers to the bone
- work very hard
She has been working her fingers to the bone for years trying to raise her three children.

work out
- end successfully, be efficient
I hope that everything will work out for her when she moves to London next

work out
- solve, find an answer to
I was unable to work out the math problem on the final examination.

work out
- accomplish, arrange, plan
Recently we worked out a unique system for filling out our expenses at work.

work out
- exercise
He spends most weekends working out at the health club.

work over
- beat someone up very roughly in order to intimidate them or get money
The gang worked over the storeowner in order to get some money from him.

work up
- stir up, arouse, excite
He really likes to work up a sweat when he does his exercises.

world is one`s oyster
- everything is possible for one, one can get anything
The world is her oyster now that she has received her MBA from Harvard University.

worse for wear
- not as good as new, worn out
I borrowed my friend`s canoe for a month and it is now beginning to look the

worse for wear.

worth a cent
- worth anything, of any value
His new car is broken down and not worth a cent.

worth one`s salt
- worth what one is paid
He is definitely worth his salt in our company and is one of our best employees.

would just as soon
- prefer to do one thing rather than another
She would just as soon stay at home as go to the movie.

wrap around one`s finger
- have complete control over someone and be able to make them do anything you want
She has her boss wrapped around her finger and can do anything that she wants.

wrapped up in
- thinking only of, interested only in
He is always wrapped up in playing with his computer.

wrap up
- put on warm clothes, dress warmly
She wrapped herself up in her warm clothes and went out.

write off
- remove (an amount) from a business record, cancel (a debt)
The bank was forced to write off a large amount of its debt.

write off
- accept (a loss or trouble) and not worry any more about it
He was forced to write off his bad experience at his old job.

write up
- write or describe in writing, give a full account of
After our trip to Vietnam I spent a couple of weeks trying to write it up for a magazine.

wrong side of the tracks
- the poor side of town
He married a girl who everyone said was from the wrong side of the tracks because he loved her.

Y................................................. ..

- a lot of talk about little things
We spent the whole evening in a yakety-yak session at my friends.

- operating all year
We usually spend all summer at a year-round resort in California.

- extremely timid, cowardly
He is a yellow-bellied person who is not good to have as a friend.

yellow streak
- cowardice in a person`s character
He has a real yellow streak and will not say anything to defend his friends.

- a person who tries to be liked by agreeing with everything said (especially by a boss)
He is a yes-man who will do anything that his boss asks him to do.

you bet/you bet your boots/you bet your life
- most certainly, yes, without any doubt
You bet your life I will be attending the conference next year.

you don`t say
- used to show surprise at what is said
"You don`t say", he said when he heard about the accident on the highway.

you said it/you can say that again
- used to show strong agreement with what another person has said
"You can say that again," I answered when the woman mentioned how hot it was out in the sun.

you`re telling me
- used to show that a thing is so clear that it need not be said
"This restaurant is very expensive and the food is not so good."
"You`re telling me."

You tell`em
- used to agree with or encourage someone in what they are saying
"You tell`em," I yelled out to the politician who was making the speech.

zero hour
- the exact time when an attack or other military action will start
The air force planes waited until zero hour in order to start out on their bombing mission.

zero hour
- the time when an important decision or change is supposed to come
We waited for zero hour and the time when the new computer system was supposed to begin operating.

zero in on
- adjust a gun so that it will hit a target, aim at
The soldiers zeroed in on the target and began to fire their guns.

zero in on
- give one`s full attention to
We spent the morning zeroing in on the problem of what to do with the excess space in our office.

zonk out
- fall asleep very quickly
As soon as I got home last night I immediately zonked out.

Last edited by Argus; Tuesday, November 08, 2005 at 10:54 PM.
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Old Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Qurratulain's Avatar
Economist In Equilibrium
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Default Some more idioms


1- A bit much If something is excessive or annoying, it is a bit much.
2- A day late and a dollar short If something is a day late and a dollar short, it is too little, too late.
3- A fool and his money are soon parted This idiom means that people who aren't careful with their money spend it quickly.'A fool and his money are easily parted' is an alternative form of the idiom.
4- A little bird told me If someone doesn't want to say where they got some information from, they can say that a little bird told them.
5- A OK If things are A OK, they are absolutely fine.
6- A poor man's something Something or someone that can be compared to something or someone else, but is not as good is a poor man's version; a writer who uses lots of puns but isn't very funny would be a poor man's Oscar Wilde.
7- A1 If something is A1, it is the very best or finest.
8- Abide by a decision If you abide by a decision, you accept it and comply with it, even though you might disagree with it.
9- About face If someone changes their mind completely, this is an about face. It can be used when companies, governments, etc, change their position on an issue.
10- Above board If things are done above board, they are carried out in a legal and proper manner.
11- Absence makes the heart grow fonder This idiom means that when people are apart, their love grows stronger.
12- Achilles' heel A person's weak spot is their Achilles' heel.
13- Acid test An acid test is something that proves whether something is good, effective, etc, or not.
14- Across the board If something applies to everybody, it applies across the board.
15- Against the grain If doing something goes against the grain, you're unwilling to do it because it contradicts what you believe in, but you have no real choice.
16- Agony aunt An agony aunt is a newspaper columnist who gives advice to people having problems, especially personal ones.
17- Ahead of the pack If you are ahead of the pack, you have made more progress than your rivals.
18- Albatross around your neck An albatross around, or round, your neck is a problem resulting from something you did that stops you from being successful.
19- All along If you have known or suspected something all along, then you have felt this from the beginning.
20- All and sundry This idiom is a way of emphasising 'all', like saying 'each and every one'.
21- All ears If someone says they're all ears, they are very interested in hearing about something.
22- All fingers and thumbs If you're all fingers and thumbs, you are too excited or clumsy to do something properly that requires manual dexterity.'All thumbs' is an alternative form of the idiom.
23- All hat, no cattle When someone talks big, but cannot back it up, they are all hat, no cattle.
24- All hell broke loose When all hell breaks loose, there is chaos, confusion and trouble.
25- All mod cons If somehing has all mod cons, it has all the best and most desirable features. It is an abbreviation of 'modern convenience' that was used in house adverts.
26- All mouth and trousers Someone who's all mouth and trousers talks or boasts a lot but doesn't deliver.
'All mouth and no trousers' is also used, though this is a corruption of the original.
27- All over the place If something is completely disorganised or confused, it is all over the place.
28- All over the shop If something is completely disorganised or confused, it is all over the shop.
29- All road lead to Rome This means that there can be many different ways of doing something.
30- All skin and bone If a person is very underweight, they are all skin and bone, or bones.
31- All talk and no trousers Someone who is all talk and no trousers, talks about doing big, important things, but doesn't take any action.
32- All the tea in China If someone won't do something for all the tea in China, they won't do it no matter how much money they are offered.
33- All-singing, all-dancing If something's all-singing, all-dancing, it is the latest version with the most up-to-date features.
34- Alter ego An alter ego is a very close and intimate friend. It is a Latin phrase that literally means 'other self'.
35- Always a bridesmaid, never a bride If someone is always a bridesmaid, never a bride, they never manage to fulfill their ambition- they get close, but never manage the recognition, etc, they crave.
36- Ambulance chaser A lawyer who encourages people who have been in accidents or become ill to sue for compensation is an ambulance chaser.
37- Amen Some use 'Amen' or 'Amen to that' as a way of agreeing with something that has just been said.
38- An old flame An old flame is a person that somebody has had an emotional, usually passionate, relationship with, who is still looked on fondly and with affection.
39- Ants in your pants If someone has ants in their pants, they are agitated or excited about something and can't keep still.
40- Any port in a storm This means that in an emergency any solution will do, even one that would normally be unacceptable.
41- Apple of your eye Something or,more often, someone that is very special to you is the 'apple of your' eye.
42- Argue the toss If you argue the toss, you refuse to accept a decision and argue about it.
43- Arm and a leg If something costs an arm and a leg, it is very expensive.
44- Armed to the teeth If people are armed to the teeth, they have lots of weapons.
45- As a rule If you do something as a rule, then you usually do it.
46- As cold as ice This idiom can be used to describe a person who does not show any emotion.
47- As cool as a cucumber If someone is as cool as a cucumber, they don't get worried by anything.
48- As mad as a hatter This simile means that someone is crazy or behaves very strangely. In the past many people who made hats went insane because they had a lot of contact with mercury.
49- As neat as a new pin This idiom means tidy and clean.
50- As one man If people do something as one man, then they do it at exactly the same time or in complete agreement.
51- As the actress said to the bishop This idiom is used to highlight a sexual reference, deliberate or accidental.
52- As the crow flies This idiom is used to describe the shortest possible distance between two places.
53- Asleep at the switch If someone is asleep at the switch, they are not doing their job or taking their responsibilities very carefully'Asleep at the wheel' is an alternative.
54- Asleep at the wheel If someone is asleep at the wheel, they are not doing their job or taking their responsibilities very carefully'Asleep at the switch' is an alternative.
55- At a loose end If you are at a loose end, you have spare time but don't know what to do with it.
56- At death's door If someone looks as if they are at death's door, they look seriously unwell and might actually be dying.
57- At loggerheads If people are at loggerheads, they are arguing and can't agree on anything.
58- At loose ends If you are at a loose end, you have spare time but don't know what to do with it.
59- At odds If you are at odds with someone, you cannot agree with them and argue.
60- At sea If things are at sea, or all at sea, they are disorganized and chaotic.
61- At the coalface If you work at the coalface, you deal with the real problems and issues, rather than sitting in a office discussing things in a detached way.
62- At the drop of a hat If you would do something at the drop of a hat, you'd do it immediately.
63- At the end of your rope If you are at the end of your rope, you are at the limit of your patience or endurance.
64- At the end of your tether If you are at the end of your tether, you are at the limit of your patience or endurance.
65- At your wit's end If you're at your wit's end, you really don't know what you should do about something, no matter how hard you think about it.
66- Avowed intent If someone makes a solemn or serious promise publicly to attempt to reach a certain goal, this is their avowed intent.
67- Awe inspiring Something or someone that is awe inspiring amazes people in a slightly frightening but positive way.
68- AWOL AWOL stands for "Absent Without Leave", or "Absent Without Official Leave". Orignially a military term, it is used when someone has gone missing without telling anyone or asking for permission.
69- Axe to grind If you have an axe to grind with someone or about something, you have a grievance, a resentment and you want to get revenge or sort it out.
70- Babe in arms A babe in arms is a very young child, or a person who is very young to be holding a position.
71- Babe in the woods A babe in the woods is a naive, defenceless, young person.
72 Baby boomer A baby boomer is someone born during 1945-1965, a period when the population was growing fast.
73- Back burner If an issue is on the back burner, it is being given low priority.
74- Back foot If you are on your back foot, you are at a disadvantage and forced to be defensive of your position.
75- Back the wrong horse If you back the wrong horse, you give your support to the losing side in something.
76- Back to square one If you are back to square one, you have to start from the beginning again.
77- Back to the drawing board If you have to go back to the drawing board, you have to go back to the beginning and start something again.
78- Backseat driverA backseat driver is an annoying person who is fond of giving advice to the person performing a task or doing something, especially when the advice is either wrong or unwelcome.
79- Bad blood If people feel hate because of things that happened in the past, there is bad blood between them.
80- Bad egg A person who cannot be trusted is a bad egg.Good egg is the opposite.
81- Bad taste in your mouth If something leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth, you feel there is something wrong or bad about it.
82- Bad workers always blame their tools "A bad worker always blames their tools" If somebody does a job badly or loses in a game and claims that they were let down by their equipment, you can use this to imply that this was not the case.
83- Baker's dozen A Baker's dozen is 13 rather than 12.
84- Bald as a coot A person who is completely bald is as bald as a coot.
85- Ball is in your court If the ball is in your court, it is up to you to make the next decision or step.
86- Ballpark figure A ballpark figure is a rough or approximate number (guesstimate) to give a general idea of something, like a rough estimate for a cost, etc.
87- Banana republic Banana republic is a term used for small countries that are dependent on a single crop or resource and governed badly by a corrupt elite.
88- Bandit territory An area or an industry, profession, etc, where rules and laws are ignored or flouted is bandit territory.
89- Baptism of fire A baptism of fire was a soldier's first experience of shooting. Any unpleasant experience undergone, usually where it is also a learning experience, is a baptism of fire.
90- Bar fly A bar fly is a person who spends a lot of time drinking in different bars and pubs.
91- Barefaced liar A barefaced liar is one who displays no shame about lying even if they are exposed.
92- Bark is worse than their bite Someone who's bark is worse than their bite may well get angry and shout, but doesn't take action.
93- Barking up the wrong tree If you are barking up the wrong tree, it means that you have completely misunderstood something or are totally wrong.
94- Barrel of laughs If someone's a barrel of laughs, they are always joking and you find them funny.
95- Basket case If something is a basket case, it is so bad that it cannot be helped.
96- Bat an eyelid If someone doesn't bat an eyelid, they don't react or show any emotion when surprised, shocked, etc.
97- Be that as it may Be that as it may is an expression which means that, while you are prepared to accept that there is some truth in what the other person has just said, it's not going to change your opinions in any significant manner.
98- Be up the spout If a woman is up the spout, she is pregnant.
99- Bean counter A bean counter is an accountant.
100- Bear fruit If something bears fruit, it produces positive results.
101- Beard the lion in his own den If you confront a powerful or dangerous rival on their territory, you are bearding the lion in his own den.
102- Beat about the bush If someone doesn't say clearly what they mean and try to make it hard to understand, they are beating about (around) the bush.
103- Beat someone to the draw If you beat someone to the draw, you do someone before they do.
104- Beating a dead horse If someone is trying to convince people to do or feel something without any hope of succeeding, they're beating a dead horse.This is used when someone is trying to raise interest in an issue that no-one supports anymore; beating a dead horse will not make it do any more work.
105- Beauty is in the eye of the beholder Beauty is in the eye of the beholder means that different people will find different things beautiful and that the differences of opinion don't matter greatly.
106- Beauty is only skin deep This idiom means that appearances can be deceptive and something that seems or looks good may turn out to be bad.
107Beck and call Someone who does everything for you, no matter when you ask, is at your beck and call.
108Bedroom eyes Someone with bedroom eyes has a sexy look in their eyes.
109Bee in your bonnet If someone is very excited about something, they have a bee in their bonnet.
110Bee's Knees If something is the bee's knees, it's outstanding or the best in its class.
111Beeline for If you make a beeline for a place, you head there directly.
112Behind closed doors If something happens away from the public eye, it happens behind closed doors.
113Behind someone's back If you do something behind someone's back, you do it without telling them.
114Behind the times Someone that is behind the times is old-fashioned and has ideas that are regarded as out-dated.
115Believe in the hereafter A belief in the hereafter is a belief in the afterlife, or life after death. It is, therefore, associated with religions and the soul's journey to heaven or to hell, whichever way being just deserts for the person based on how they led their life.
116Bells and whistles Bells and whistles are attractive features that things like computer programs have, though often a bit unnecessary.
117Belly up If things go belly up, they go badly wrong.
118Below par If something isn't up to standard, or someone isn't feeling or doing very well, they are below par.
119Below the belt If someone says something that is cruel or unfair, it is below the belt, like the illegal punches in boxing.
120Best thing since sliced bread If something is the best thing since sliced bread, it is excellent.

('The greatest thing since sliced bread' is also used.)
121Bet your bottom dollar If you can bet your bottom dollar on something, you can be absolutely sure about it.
122Better late than never This idiom suggests that doing something late is better than not doing it at all.
123Better safe than sorry This idiom is used to recommend being cautious rather than taking a risk.
124Better the devil you know This is the shortened form of the full idion, 'better the devil you know than the devil you don't', and means that it is often better to deal with someone or something you are familiar with and know, even if th2ey are not ideal, than take a risk with an unkown person or thing.
125Between a rock and a hard place If you are caught between a rock and a hard place, you are in a position where you have to choose between unpleasant alternatives, and your choice might cause you problems; you will not be able to satisfy everyone.
126 Between the devil and the deep blue sea If you are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, you are in a dilemma; a difficult choice.
127Between the lines If you read between the lines, you find the real massage in what you're reading or hearing, a meaning that is not available from a literal interprtation of the words.
128Beyond a shadow of a doubt If something's beyond a shadow of a doubt, then absolutely no doubts remain about it.
129Beyond belief If people behave in such a way that you find it almost impossible to accept that they actually did it, then you can say that their behaviour was beyond belief.
130Beyond our ken If something's beyond your ken, it is beyond your understanding.
131Beyond the pale If something's beyond the pale, it is too extreme to be acceptable morally or socially.
132Big Apple The Big Apple is New York.
133Big bucks If someone is making big bucks, they are making a lot of money.
134Big cheese The big cheese is the boss.
135Big fish An important person in a company or an organisation is a big fish.
136Big fish in a small pond A big fish in a small pond is an important person in a small place or organisation.
137Big hitter A big hitter is someone who commands a lot of respect and is very important in their field.
138Big picture The big picture of something is the overall perspective or objective, not the fine detail.
139Big time This can be used to with the meaning 'very much'- if you like something big time, you like it a lot.
140Bigger fish to fry If you aren't interested in something because it isn't important to you and there are more important things for you to do, you have bigger fish to fry.
141Bird in the hand is worth two in the bush 'A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush' is a proverb meaning that it is better to have something that is certain than take a risk to get more, where you might lose everything.
142Bird's eye view If you have a bird's eye view of something, you can see it perfectly clearly.
143Bird-brain Someone who has a bird-brain, or is bird-brained, is stupid.
144Birds and the bees If a child is taught about the birds and the bees, they are taught about sex.
145Birds of a feather flock together This idiom means that people with similar interests will stick together.
146Birthday suit If you are in your birthday suit, you are naked.
147Bit between your teeth If you take or have the bit between your teeth, you take or have control of a situation. (Bit = piece of metal in a horse's mouth)
148Bit part If someone has a small or unimportant role in something, they have a bit part.
149Bit player A bit player has a small or unimportant role in something.
150Bite off more than you can chew If you bite off more than you can chew, you take on more responsibilities than you can manage. 'Don't bite off more than you can chew' is often used to advise people against agreeing to more than they can handle.
151Bite the bullet If you have to bite the bullet, you have to accept or face something unpleasant because it cannot be avoided.
152Bite the dust This is a way of saying that somebody has died, especially if they are killed violently like a soldier in battle.
153Bits and bobs Bits and bobs are small, remnant articles and things- the same as odds and ends.
154Bitter end If you do something to the bitter end, you do it to the very end, no matter how unsuccessful you are.
155Bitter pill to swallow A bitter pill to swallow is something that is hard to accept.
156Black and white When it is very clear who or what is right and wrong, then the situation is black and white.
157Black as Newgate's knocker If things are as black as Newgate's knocker, they are very bad. Newgate was an infamous prison in England, so its door knocker meant trouble.
158Black hole If there is a black hole in financial accounts, money has disappeared.
159Black sheep Someone who is the black sheep doesn't fit into a group or family because their behaviour or character is not good enough.
160Blessing in disguise If some bad luck or misfortune ultimately results in something positive, it's a blessing in disguise.
161Blind as a bat If you are in total darkness and can't see anything at all, you are as blind as a bat.
162Blink of an eye If something happens in the blink of an eye, it happens so fast it is almost impossible to notice it.
163Blood and thunder An emotional speech or performance is full of blood and thunder.
164Blood is thicker than water This idiom means that family relationships are stronger than others.
165Blood out of a stone If something is like getting blood out of a stone, it is very difficult indeed.
166Blood, sweat and tears If something will take blood, sweat and tears, it will be very difficult and will require a lot of effort and sacrifice.
167Blow a gasket If you blow a gasket, you get very angry.
168Blow hot and cold If you blow hot and cold on an idea, your attitude and opinion keeps changing; one minute you are for it, the next you are against.
169Blow off steam If you blow off steam, you express your anger or frustration.
170Blow out of the water If something, like an idea, is blown out of the water, it is destroyed or defeated comprehensively.
171Blow the cobwebs away If you blow the cobwebs away, you make sweeping changes to something to bring fresh views and ideas in.
172Blow your stack If you blow your stack, you lose your temper.
173Blue blood Someone with blue blood is royalty.
174Blue-eyed boy Someone's blue-eyed boy is their favourite person.
175Bolt from the blue If something happens unexpectedly and suddenly, it is a bolt from the blue.
176Bone of contention If there is an issue that always causes tension and arguments, it is a bone of contention.
177Bone to pick If you have a bone to pick with someone, you are annoyed about something they have done and want to tell them how you feel.
178Born with a silver spoon in your mouth If you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth, you are born into a rich family.
179Bottom line In accountancy, the bottom line is net income, and is used idiomatically to mean the conclusion.
180Box and dice Box and dice means everything.
181Box clever If you box clever, you use your intelligence to get what you want, even if you have to cheat a bit.
182Brass monkey If it's brass monkey weather, or cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey, it is extremly cold.
183Brass tacks If you get down to brass tacks, you get down to the real business.
184Break a leg This idiom is a way of wishing someone good luck.
185Break even If you break even, you don't make any money, but you don't lose any either.
186Break ground If you break ground, or break new ground, you make progress, taking things into a new area or going further than anyone has gone before.'Ground-breaking' is used an adjective.
187Break the ice When you break the ice, you get over any initial embarrassment or shyness when you meet someone for the first time and start conversing.
188Break your duck If you break your duck, you do something for the first time.
189Breathe your last When you breathe your last, you die.
190Brighten up the day If something brightens up your day, something happens that makes you feel positive and happy all day long.
191Bring a knife to a gunfight If someone brings a knife to a gunfight, they are very badly prepared for something.
192Bring someone to book If somebody is brought to book, they are punished or made to account for something they have done wrong.
193Bring the house down Something that brings the house down is acclaimed and praised vigorously.
194Broad church If an organisation is described as broad church, it is tolerant and accepting of different opinions and ideas.
195Broad strokes If something is described or defined with broad stokes, then only an outline is given, without fine details.
196Brown nose When someone tries to make themselves popular with somebody, usually in a position of authority, especially by flattering them, they are brown nosing.
197Brownie points If you try to earn Brownie points with someone, you do things you know will please them.
198Brush under the carpet If you brush something under the carpet, you are making an attempt to ignore it, or hide it from others.
199Bull in a China shop If someone behaves like a bull in a China shop, they are clumsy when they should be careful.
200Bun in the oven If a woman has a bun in the oven, she is pregnant.
201Burn the candle at both ends Someone who burns the candle at both ends lives life at a hectic pace, doing things which are likely to affect their health badly.
202Burn the midnight oil If you stay up very late working or studying, you burn the midnight oil.
203Burn your bridges If you burn your bridges, you do something that makes it impossible to go back from the position you have taken.
204 Bury the hatchet If you bury the hatchet, you make peace with someone and stop arguing or fighting.
205Bury your head in the sand If someone buries their head in the sand, they ignore something that is obviously wrong.
206Busman's holiday A busman's holiday is when you spend your free time doing the same sort of work as you do in your job.
207Busted flush Someone or something that had great potential but ended up a useless failure is a busted flush.
208Butter wouldn't melt in their mouth If someone looks as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouth, they look very innocent.
209By a hair's breadth If a person escapes from some danger by a hair's breadth, they only just managed to avoid it. The breadth is the thickness of a hair, so they probably feel somewhat lucky because the margin between success and what could easily have been failure was so close.
210By a long chalk If you beat somebody by a long chalk, you win easily and comfortably.
211By a whisker If you do something by a whisker, you only just manage to do it and come very near indeed to failing.
212By hook or by crook If you are prepared to do something by hook or by crook, you are willing to do anything, good or bad, to reach your goal.
213By the back door If something is started or introduced by the back door, then it isn't not done openly or by following the proper procedures.
214By the book If you do something by the book, you do it exactly as you are supposed to.
215By the skin of your teeth If you do something by the skin of your teeth, you only just manage to do it and come very near indeed to failing.
216By word of mouth If something becomes known by word of mouth, it gets known by being talked about rather than through publicity or advertising, etc.
217Call a spade a spade A person who calls a spade a spade is one speaks frankly and makes little or no attempt to conceal their opinions or to spare the feelings of their audience.
218Call the shots If you call the shots, you are in charge and tell people what to do.
219Can of worms If an action can create serious problems, it is opening a can of worms.
0Can't hold a candle If something can't hold a candle to something else, it is much worse.
221Card up your sleeve If you have a card up your sleeve, you have a surprise plan or idea that you are keeping back until the time is right.
222Carpetbagger A carpetbagger is an opportunist without any scruples or ethics, or a politican who wants to represent a place they have no connection with.
223Carrot and stick If someone offers a carrot and stick, they offer an incentive to do something combined with the threat of punishment.
224Carry the can If you carry the can, you take the blame for something, even though you didn't do it or are only partly at fault.
225Cash in your chips If you cash in your chips, you sell something to get what profit you can because you think its value is going to fall. It can also mean 'to die'.
226Cast doubt on If you make other people not sure about a matter, then you have cast doubt on it.
227Cast your mind back If somebody tells you to cast your mind back on something, they want you to think about something that happened in the past, but which you might not remember very well, and to try to remember as much as possible.
228Castles in the air Plans that are impractical and will never work out are castles in the air.
229Cat among the pigeons If something or someone puts, or sets or lets, the cat among the pigeons, they create a disturbance and cause trouble.
230Cat nap If you have a short sleep during the day, you are cat napping.
231Cat's whiskers Something excellent is the cat's whiskers.
232Catch as catch can This means that people should try to get something any way they can.
233Chalk and cheese Things, or people, that are like chalk and cheese are very different and have nothing in common.
234Change horses in midstream If people change horses in midstream, they change plans or leaders when they are in the middle of something, even though it may be very risky to do so.
235Charity begins at home This idiom means that family members are more important than anyone esle, and should be the focus of a person's efforts.
236Chase rainbows If someone chases rainbows, they try to do something that they will never achieve.
237Cheap as chips If something is very inexpensive, it is as cheap as chips.
238Cherry pick If people cherry pick, they choose things that support their position, while ignoring things that contradict it.
239Chew the cud If you chew the cud, you think carefully about something.
240Chew the fat If you chew the fat with someone, you talk at leisure with them.
241Chickenfeed If something is small or unimportant, especially money, it is chickenfeed.
242Chinese walls Chinese walls are regulatory information barriers that aim to stop the flow of information that could be misused, especially in financial corporations.
243Chinese whispers When a story is told from person to person, especially if it is gossip or scandal, it inevitably gets distorted and exaggerated. This process is called Chinese whispers.
244Chip off the old block If someone is a chip off the old block, they closely resemble one or both of the parents in character.
245Cigarette paper If you cannot get or put a cigarette paper between people, they are so closely bonded that nothing will separate them or their positions on issues.
246Clapham omnibus The man on the Clapham omnibus is the ordinary man in the street.
247 Clean as a whistle If something is as clean as a whistle, it is extremely clean, spotless. It can also be used to mean 'completely', though this meaning is less common nowadays.
248Clean bill of health If something or someone has a clean bill of health, then there's nothing wrong; everything's fine.
249Clean slate If you start something with a clean slate, then nothing bad from your past is taken into account.
250Clear as mud If something is as clear as mud, then it is very confusing and unclear.
251Cliffhanger If something like a sports match or an election is a cliffhanger, then the result is so close that it cannot be predicted and will only be known at the very end.
252Close but no cigar If you are close but no cigar, you are close to success, but have not got there.
253Close call If the result of something is a close call, it is almost impossible to distinguish between the parties involved and to say who has won or whatever.
254Close the stable door after the horse has bolted If people try to fix something after the problem has occurred, they are trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted.
'Close the barn door after the horse has bolted' is alternative, often used in American English.
255Closed book to me If a subject is a closed book to you, it is something that you don't understand or know anything about.
256Cloud cuckoo land If someone has ideas or plans that are completely unrealistic, they are living on cloud cuckoo land.
257Cloud nine If you are on cloud nine, you are extremely happy.('cloud seven' is a less common alternative)
258Cloud of suspicion If a cloud of suspicion hangs over an individual, it means that they are not believed or are distrusted.
259Cloud on the horizon If you can see a problem ahead, you can call it a cloud on the horizon.
260Clutch at straws If someone is in serious trouble and tries anything to help them, even though their chances of success are probably nil, they are clutching at straws.
261Coals to Newcastle Taking, bringing, or carrying coals to Newcastle is doing something that is completely unnnecessary.
262Cock and bull story A cock and bull story is a lie someone tells that is completely unbelievable.
263Cold feet If you get cold feet about something, you lose the courage to do it.
264Cold fish A cold fish is a person who doesn't show how they feel.
265Cold light of day If you see things in the cold light of day, you see them as they really are, not as you might want them to be.
266Cold sweat If something brings you out in a cold sweat, it frightens you a lot.
267Cold turkey If someone suddenly stops taking drugs, instead of slowly cutting down, they do cold turkey.
268Collateral damage Accidental or unintended damage or casualties are collateral damage.

269 Collect dust If something is collecting dust, it isn't being used any more.
270 Come a cropper Someone whose actions or lifestyle will inevitably result in trouble is going to come a cropper.
271 Come clean If someone comes clean about something, they admit to deceit or wrongdoing.
272 Come hell or high water If someone says they'll do something come hell or high water, they mean that nothing will stop them, no matter what happens.
273 Come rain or shine If I say I'll be at a place COME RAIN OR SHINE, I mean that I can be relied on to turn up; nothing, not even the vagaries of British weather, will deter me or stop me from being there.
274 Come to grips If you come to grips with a problem or issue, you face up to it and deal with it.
275 Come what may If you're prepared to do something come what may, it means that nothing will stop or distract you, no matter how hard or difficult it becomes.
276 Comfort zone It is the temperature range in which the body doesn't shiver or sweat, but has an idiomatic sense of a place where people feel comfortable, where they can avoid the worries of the world. It can be physical or mental.
277 Constitution of an ox If someone has the constitution of an ox, they are less affected than most people by things like tiredness, illness, alcohol, etc.
278 Cook someone's goose If you cook someone's goose, you ruin their plans.
279 Cook up a storm If someone cooks up a storm, they cause a big fuss or generate a lot of talk about something.
280 Corner a market If a business is dominant in an area and unlikely to be challenged by other companies, it has cornered the market.
281 Couch potato A couch potato is an extremely idle or lazy person who chooses to spend most of their leisure time horizontal in front of the TV and eats a diet that is mainly junk food.
282 Could eat a horse If you are very hungry, you could eat a horse.
283Crash a party If you crash a party, or are a gatecrasher, you go somewhere you haven't been invited to.
284 Cream of the crop The cream of the crop is the best there is.
285 Crocodile tears If someone cries crocodile tears, they pretend to be upset or affected by something.
286 Cross to bear If someone has a cross to bear, they have a hevay burden of responsibility or a problem that they alone must cope with.
287 Cry wolf If someone cries wolf, they raise a false alarm about something.
288 Cry your eyes out If you cry your eyes out, you cry uncontrollably.
289 Cry-baby A cry-baby is a person who gets emotional and cries too easily.
290 Curate's egg If something is a bit of a curate's egg, it is only good in parts.
291 Curiosity killed the cat As cats are naturally curious animals, we use this expression to suggest to people that excessive curiosity is not necessarily a good thing, especially where it is not their business.
292 Curve ball If something is a curve ball, it is deceptive.
293 Cut and dried If something is cut and dried, then everything has already been decided and, in the case of an opinion, might be a little stale and predictable.
294 Cut down the tall poppies If people cut down the tall poppies, they criticise people who stand out from the crowd.
295 Cut it fine If you cut it fine, you only just manage to do something- at the very last moment.'Cut things fine' is the same. 'Cut it a bit fine' is a common variation.
296 Cut off your nose to spite your face If you cut off your nose to spite your face, you do something rash or silly that ends up making things worse for you, often because you are angry or upset.
297 Cut the Gordian knot If some cuts the Gordian knot, they solve a very complex problem in a simple way.
298 Cut the mustard If somebody or something doesn't cut the mustard, they fail or it fails to reach the required standard.
299 Cut to the chase If you cut to the chase, you get to the point, or the most interesting or important part of something without delay.
300 Cut to the quick If someone's cut to the quick by something, they are very hurt and upset indeed.
301 Cut your teeth on The place where you gain your early experience is where you cut your teeth.
302 Cutting edge Something that is cutting edge is at the forefront of progress in its area.
303 Daft as a brush Someone who is daft as a brush is rather stupid.
304 Damp squib If something is expected to have a great effect or impact but doesn't, it is a damp squib.
305 Dark horse If someone is a dark horse, they are a bit of a mystery.
306 Daylight robbery If you are overcharged or underpaid, it is a daylight robbery; open, unfair and hard to prevent. Rip-off has a similar meaning.
307 Dead and buried If something is dead and buried, it has all long been settled and is not going to be reconsidered.
308 Dead as a dodo If something's dead as a dodo, it is lifeless and dull. The dodo was a bird that lived the island of Mauritius. It couldn't fly and was hunted to extinction.
309 Dead as a doornail This is used to indicate that something is lifeless.
310 Dead duck If something is a dead duck, it is a failure.
311 Dead heat If a race ends in a dead heat, two or more finish with exactly the same result.
312 Dead in the water If something is dead in the water, it isn't going anywhere or making any progress.
313 Dead man walking A dead man walking is someone who is in great trouble and will certainly get punished, lose their job or position, etc, soon.
314 Dead men's shoes If promotion or success requires replacing somebody, then it can only be reached by dead men's shoes' by getting rid of them.
315 Dead to the world If somebody's fast asleep and completely unaware of what if happening around them, he or she's dead to the world.
316 Dear John letter A letter written by a partner explaining why they are ending the relationship is a Dear John letter.
317 Death of a thousand cuts If something is suffering the death of a thousand cuts, or death by a thousand cuts, lots of small bad things are happening, none of which are fatal in themselves, but which add up to a slow and painful demise.
318 Death warmed up If someone looks like death warmed up, they look very ill indeed. ('death warmed over' is the American form)
319 Demon weed Tobacco is the demon weed.
320 Derring-do If a person shows derring-do, they show great courage.
321 Devil finds work for idle hands When people say that the devil finds work for idle hands, they mean that if people don't have anything to do with their time, they are more likely to get involved in trouble and criminality.
322 Devil is in the detail When people say that the devil in the detail, they mean that small things in plans and schemes that are often overlooked can cause serious problems later on.
323 Devil's advocate If someone plays Devil's advocate in an argument, they adopt a position they don't believe in just for the sake of the argument
324 Die is cast If the die is cast, a decision has been made that cannot be altered and fate will decide the consequences.
325 Different kettle of fish If something is a different kettle of fish, it is very different from the other things referenced. 326Discerning eye If a person has a discerning eye, they are particularly good at judging the quality of something.
327 Do a runner If people leave a restaurant without paying, they do a runner.
329 Do their dirty work Someone who does someone's dirty work, carries out the unpleasant jobs that the first person doesn't want to do. Someone who seems to enjoy doing this is sometimes known as a 'henchman'.
330 Dog and pony show A dog and pony show is a pesentation or some marketing that has lots of style, but no real content.
Dog days Dog days are very hot summer days.
Dog eat dog In a dog eat dog world, there is intense competition and rivalry, where everybody thinks only of himself or herself.
Dog in the manger If someone acts like a dog in the manger, they don't want other people to have or enjoy things that are useless to them.
Dog tired If you are dog tired, you are exhausted.
Dog's dinner Something that is a dog's dinner is a real mess.
Dog's life If some has a dog's life, they have a very unfortunate and wretched life.
Dog-eared If a book is dog-eared, it is in bad condition,with torn pages, etc.
Doggy bag If you ask for a doggy bag in a restaurant, they will pack the food you haven't eaten for you to take home.
Doldrums If a person is in the doldrums, they are depressed.If a project or something similar is in the doldrums, it isn't making any progress.
Don't judge a book by the cover This idiom means that you should not judge something or someone by appearances, but should look deeper at what is inside and more important.
Don't look a gift horse in the mouth This means that if you are given something, a present or a chance, you should not waste it by being too critical or examining it too closely.
Don't upset the applecart If you are advised not to upset the applecart, you are being told not to disturb the way things are done because it might ruin things.
344 Don't hold your breath If you are told not to hold your breath, it means that you shouldn't have high expectations about something.
345 Don't wash your dirty laundry in public People, especially couples, who argue in front of others or involve others in their personal problems and crises, are said to be washing their dirty laundry in public; making public things that are best left private. (In American English, 'don't air your dirty laundry in public' is used.)
346 Done to death If a joke or story has been done to death, it has been told so often that it has stopped being funny.
347 Donkey's years This idiom means 'a very long time'.
348 Doormat A person who doesn't stand up for themselves and gets treated badly is a doormat.
349 Double Dutch If something is double Dutch, it is completely incomprehensible.
350 Double take If someone does a double take, they react very slowly to something to show how shocked or surprised they are.
351 Double whammy A double whammy is when something causes two problems at the same time, or when two setbacks occur at the same time.
352 Double-edged sword If someone uses an argument that could both help them and harm them, then they are using a two-edged sword; it cuts both ways.
353 Down and out If someone is down and out, they are desperately poor and need help.
354 Down at heel Someone who is down at heel is short of money. ('Down in heel' is used in American English)
355 Down for the count If someone is down for the count, they have lost a struggle, like a boxer who has been knocked out.
356 Down in the doldrums If somebody's down in the doldrums, they are depressed and lacking energy.
357 Down in the dumps If someone's down in the dumps, they are depressed.
358 Down the pan If something has gone down the pan, it has failed or been ruined.
359 Down the tubes If something has gone down the tubes, it has failed or been ruined.
360 Down to the wire If something goes down to the wire, like a competition, then it goes to the very last moment before it is clear who has won.
361 Drag your feet If someone is dragging their feet, they are taking too long to do or finish something, usually because they don't want to do it.
362 Drag your heels If you drag your heels, you either delay doing something or do it as slowly as possible because you don't want to do it.
363 Draw a blank If you try to find something out and draw a blank, you don't get any useful information.
364 Draw a line in the sand If you draw a line in the sand, you establish a limit beyond which things will be unacceptable.
365 Draw a long bow If someone draws a long bow, they lie or exaggerate.
366 Draw the line When you draw the line, you set out limits of what you find acceptable, beyond which you will not go.
367 Draw the shortest straw If someone draws the shortest straw, they lose or are chosen to do something unpleasant.
368 Dressed to the nines If you are in your very best clothes, you're dressed to the nines.
369 Drink like a fish If someone drinks like a fish, they drink far too much alcohol.
370 Drive a wedge If you drive a wedge between people, you exploit an issue so that people start to disagree.
371 Drive someone up the wall If something or someone drives you up the wall, they do something that irritates you greatly.
372 Drop in the ocean A drop in the ocean implies that something will have little effect because it is small and mostly insignificant.
373 Drunk as a lord Someone who is very drunk is as drunk as a lord.
374 Dry as a bone If your lawn is as dry as a bone, the soil is completely dry.
375 Duck soup If something is duck soup, it is very easy.
376 Duck to water If you take to something like a duck to water, you find when you start that you have a natural affinity for it.
377 Dull as ditchwater If something is as dull as ditchwater, it is incredibly boring. A ditch is a long narrow hole or trench dug to contain water, which is normally a dark, dirty colour and stagnant (when water turns a funny colour and starts to smell bad). (In American English,'things are 'dull as dishwater'.)
378 Dunkirk spirit Dunkirk spirit is when people pull together to get through a very difficult time.
379 Dutch auction If something is sold by setting a price, then reducing it until someone buys it, it is sold in a Dutch auction. It can also mean that something is changed until it is accepted by everyone.
380 Dutch courage Dutch courage is the reckless bravery caused by drinking too much.
381 Dutch uncle A Dutch uncle is a person who gives unwelcome advice.
382 Dwell on the past Thinking too much about the past, so that it becomes a problem is to dwell on the past.
383 Dyed-in-the-wool If someone is a dyed-in-the-wool supporter of a political party, etc, they support them totally, without any questions.
384 Each to their own Different people have different preferences.
In American English, 'Each to his own' is more common.
385 Eager beaver A person who is extremely keen is an eager beaver.
386 Eagle eyes Someone who has eagle eyes sees everything; no detail is too small.
387 Early bath If someone has or goes for an early bath, they quit or lose their job or position earlier than expected because things have gone wrong.
388 Early bird catches the worm The early bird catches the worm means that if you start something early, you stand a better chance of success.
389 Easier said than done If something is easier said than done, it is much more difficult than it sounds. It is often used when someone advises you to do something difficult and tries to make it sound easy.
390 Easy as pie If something is easy as pie, it is very easy indeed.
391 Easy come, easy go This idiom means that money or other material gains that come without much effort tend to get spent or consumed as easily.
392 Eat crow If you eat crow, you have to admit that you were wrong about something.
393 Eat humble pie If someone apologises and shows a lot of contrition for something they have done,they eat humble pie.
394 Eat like a bird If someone eats like a bird, they eat very little.
395 Eat like a horse Someone who eats like a horse, eats a lot.
396 Eat like a pig If some eats like a pig, they either eat too much or they have bad table manners.
397 Eat someone alive If you eat someone alive, you defeat or beat them comprehensively.
398 Economical with the truth If someone, especially a politician, is economical with the truth, they leave out information in order to create a false picture of a situation, without actually lying.
399 Egg on your face If someone has egg on their face, they are made to look foolish or embarrassed.
400 Elbow grease If something requires elbow grease, it involves a lot of hard physical work.
401 Elbow room If you haven't got enough elbow room, you haven't got enough space.
402 Elephant in the room An elephant in the room is a problem that everyone knows very well but no one talks about because it is taboo, embarrassing, etc.
403 Eleventh hour If something happens at the eleventh hour, it happens right at the last minute.
404 Even keel If something is on an even keel, it is balanced.
405 Even Stevens If everything is equal between people, they are even Stevens.
406 Every cloud has a silver lining People sometimes say that every cloud has a silver lining to comfort somebody who's having problems. They mean that it is always possible to get something positive out of a situation, no matter how unpleasant, difficult or even painful it might seem.
407 Every man for himself If it's every man for himself, then people are trying to save themselves from a difficult situation without trying to help anyone else.
408 Every man jack If every man jack was involved in something, it is an emphatic way of saying that absolutely everybody was involved.
409 Every Tom, Dick and Harry If every Tom, Dick and Harry knows about something, then it is coomon knowledge.
410 Every trick in the book If you try every trick in the book, you try every possible way, including dishonesty and deceit, to get what you want.
411 Explore all avenues If all avenues are being explored, then every conceivable approach is being tried that could possibly get the desired result.
412 Eye for an eye This is an expression for retributive justice, where the punishment equals the crime.
413 F-word The F-word is a euphemism for 'fuck'.
414 Face like thunder If someone has a face like thunder, they are clearly very angry or upset about something.
415 Face the music If you have to face the music, you have to accept the negative consequences of something you have done wrong.
416 Face value If you take something at face value, you accept the appearance rather than looking deeper into the matter.
417 Facts of life When someone is taught the facts of life, they learn about sex and reproduction.
418 Fair and square If someone wins something fair and square, they follow the rules and win conclusively.
419 Fair crack of the whip If everybody has a fair crack of the whip, they all have equal opportunities to do something.
420 Fair shake of the whip If everybody has a fair shake of the whip, they all have equal opportunities to do something.
421 Fairweather friend A fairweather friend is the type who is always there when times are good but forgets about you when things get difficult or problems crop up.
422 Fall off the back of a lorry If someone tries to sell you something that has fallen of the back of a lorry, they are trying to sell you stolen goods.
423 Fall on your sword If someone falls on their sword, they resign or accept the consequences of some wrongdoing.
424 Familiarity breeds contempt This means that the more you know something or someone, the more you start to find faults and dislike things about it or them.
425 Fast and furious Things that happen fast and furious happen very quickly without stopping or pausing.
426 Fat chance! This idiom is a way of telling someone they have no chance.
427 Fat head A fat head is a dull, stupid person.
428 Fat hits the fire When the fat hits the fire, trouble breaks out.
429 Fat of the land Living off the fat of the land means having the best of everything in life.
430 Fate worse than death Describing something as a fate worse than death is a fairly common way of implying that it is unpleasant.
431 Feather in your cap A success or achievement that may help you in the future is a feather in your cap.
432 Fed up to the back teeth When you are extremely irritated and fed up with something or someone, you are fed up to the back teeth.
433 Feel at home If you feel relaxed and comfortable somewhere or with someone, you feel at home.
434 Feel free If you ask for permission to do something and are told to feel free, the other person means that there is absolutely no problem
435 Feel the pinch If someone is short of money or feeling restricted in some other way, they are feeling the pinch.
436 Feeling blue If you feel blue, you are feeling unwell, mainly associated with depression or unhappiness.
437 Feet on the ground A practical and realistic person has their feet on the ground.
438 Fiddle while Rome burns If people are fiddling while Rome burns, they are wasting their time on futile things while problems threaten to destroy them.
439 Fifth columnist A fifth columnist is a member of a subversive organisation who tries to help an enemy invade.
440 Fifth wheel A fifth wheel is something unneccesary or useless.
441 Fighting chance If you have a fighting chance, you have a reasonable possibility of success.
442 Fine tuning Small adjustments to improve something or to get it working are called fine tuning.
443 Fine words butter no parsnips This idiom means that it's easy to talk, but talk is not action.
444 Finger in the pie If you have a finger in the pie, you have an interest in something.
445 Fingers and thumbs If you are all fingers and thumbs, you are being clumsy and not very skilled with your hands.
446 Fire away If you want to ask someone a question and they tell you to fire away, they mean that you are free to ask what you want.
447 Fire on all cylinders If something is firing on all cylinders, it is going as well as it could.
448 First come, first served This means there will be no preferential treatment and a service will be provided to those that arrive first.
449 First out of the gate When someone is first out of the gate, they are the first to do something that others are trying to do.
450 First port of call The first place you stop to do something is your first port of call.
451 Fish out of water If you are placed in a situation that is completely new to you and confuses you, you are like a fish out of water.
452 Fishy If there is something fishy about someone or something, there is something suspicious; a feeling that there is something wrong, though it isn't clear what it is.
453 Fit as a fiddle If you are fit as a fiddle, you are in perfect health.
454 Fit for a king If something is fit for a king, it is of the very highest quality or standard.
455 Fit of pique If someone reacts badly because their pride is hurt, this is a fit of pique.
456 Fit the bill If something fits the bill, it is what is required for the task.
457 Flash in the pan If something is a flash in the pan, it is is very noticeable but doesn't last long, like most singers, who are very successful for a while, then forgotten.
458 Flat out If you work flat out, you work as hard and fast as you possibly can.
459 Fleet of foot If someone is fleet of foot, they are very quick.
460 Flesh and blood Your flesh and blood are your blood relatives, especially your immediate family.
461 Flogging a dead horse If someone is trying to convince people to do or feel something without any hope of succeeding, they're flogging a dead horse.This is used when someone is trying to raise interest in an issue that no-one supports anymore; beating a dead horse will not make it do any more work.
461 Flowery speech Flowery speech is full of lovely words, but may well lack substance.
462 Fly off the handle If someone flies off the handle, they get very angry.
463 Fly on the wall If you are able to see and hear events as they happen, you are a fly on the wall.
[B464 Fools rush in where angels fear to tread[/B] This idiom is used where people who are inexperienced or lack knowledge do something that more informed people would avoid.
465 Football's a game of two halves If something's a game of two halves, it means that it's possible for someone's fortunes or luck to change and the person who's winning could end up a loser.
466 For a song If you buy or sell something for a song, it is very cheap.
467 For donkey's years If people have done something, usually without much if any change, for an awfully long time, they can be said to have done it for donkey's years.
468 For kicks If you do something for kicks, or just for kicks, you do it purely for fun or thrills.
469 For my money This idiom means 'in my opinion'.
470 For the time being For the time being indicates that an action or state will continue into the future, but is temporary. I'm sharing an office for the time being.
471 Forbidden fruit Something enjoyable that is illegal or immoral is forbidden fruit.
472 Foregone conclusion If the result of, say, a football match is a foregone conclusion, then the result is obvious before the game has even begun.
473 Forest for the trees If someone can't see the forest for the trees, they get so caught up in small details that they fail to understand the bigger picture.
474 Foul play If the police suspect foul play, they think a crime was committed.
475 Fourth estate This is an idiomatic way of describing the media, especially the newspapers.
476 Freudian Slip If someone makes a Freudian slip, they accidentally use the wrong word, but in doing so reveal what they are really thinking rather than what they think the other person wants to hear.
477 From Missouri If someone is from Missouri, then they require clear proof before they will believe something.
478 From pillar to post If something is going from pillar to post, it is moving around in a meaningless way, from one disaster to another.
479 From rags to riches Someone who starts life very poor and makes a fortune goes from rags to riches.
480 From scratch This idiom means 'from the beginning'.
481 From soup to nuts If you do something from soup to nuts, you do it from the beginning right to the very end.
482 From the horse's mouth If you hear something from the horse's mouth, you hear it directly from the person concerned or responsible.
483 From the sublime to the ridiculous If something declines considerably in quality or importance, it is said to have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous.
484 From the word go From the word go means from the very beginning of something.
485 Full Monty If something is the Full Monty, it is the real thing, not reduced in any way.
486 Full of the joys of spring If you are full of the joys of spring, you are very happy and full of energy.
487 Full swing If a something is in full swing, it is going or doing well.
488 Fullness of time If something happens in the fullness of time, it will happen when the time is right and appropriate.
489 Game plan A game plane is a strategy.
490 ardening leave If someone is paid for a period when they are not working, either after they have given in their notice or when they are being investigated, they are on gardening leave.
491 Get along famously If people get along famously, they have an exceedingly good relationship.
492 Get on your soapbox If someone on their soapbox, they hold forth (talk a lot) about a subject they feel strongly about.
493 Get out of bed on the wrong side If you get out of bed on the wrong side, you wake up and start the day in a bad mood for no real reason.
494 Get the ball rolling If you get the ball rolling, you start something so that it can start making progress.
495 Get the green light If you get the green light to do something, you are given the necessary permission, authorisation.
496 Get to grips If you get to grips with something, you take control and do it properly.
497 Get up and go If someone has lots of et up and go, they are have lots of enthusiasm and energy.
498 Get your feet wet If you get your feet wet, you gain your first experience of something.
499 Get your hands dirty If you get your hands dirty, you become involved in something where the realities might compromise your principles.
500 Ghost of a chance If something or someone hasn't got a ghost of a chance, they have no hope whatsoever of succeeding.
501 Ghostly presence You can feel or otherwise sense a ghostly presence, but you cannot do it clearly only vaguely.
502 Gift of the gab If someone has the gift of the gab, they speak in a persuasive and interesting way.
503 Gilded cage If someone is in a gilded cage, they are trapped and have restricted or no freedom, but have very comfortable surroundings- many famous people live in luxury but cannot walk out of their house alone.
504 Give it some stick If you give something some stick, you put a lot of effort into it.
505 Give someone a piece of your mind If you give someone a piece of your mind, you criticise them strongly and angrily.
506 Give someone enough rope If you give someone enough rope, you give them the chance to get themselves into trouble or expose themselves.
507 Give someone stick If someone gives you stick, they criticise you or punish you.
508 Give up the ghost People give up the ghost when they die.
509 Give your eye teeth If you really want something and would be prepared to sacrifice a lot to get it, you would give your eye teeth for it.
510 Glass ceiling The glass ceiling is the discrimination that prevents women and minorities from getting promoted to the highest levels of companies and organisations.
511 Glutton for punishment If a person is described as a glutton for punishment, the happily accept jobs and tasks that most people would try to get out of. A glutton is a person who eats a lot.
512 Go against the grain A person who does things in an unconventional manner, especially if their methods are not generally approved of, is said to go against the grain. Such an individual can be called a maverick.
513 Go awry If things go awry, they go wrong.
514 Go bust If a company goes bust, it goes bankrupt.
516 Go Dutch If you go Dutch in a restaurant, you pay equal shares for the meal.
517 Go pear-shaped If things have gone wrong, they have gone pear-shaped.
518 Go round in circles If people are going round in circles, they keep dicussing the same thing without reaching any agreement or coming to a conclusion.
519 Go south If things go south, they get worse or go wrong.
Go spare If you go spare, you lose your temper completely.
Go the whole hog If you go the whole hog, you do something completely or to its limits.
Go with the flow If you go with the flow, you accept things as they happen and do what everyone else wants to do.
Golden handshake A golden handshake is a payment made to someone to get them to leave their job.
Golden rule The golden rule is the most essential or fundamental rule associated with something.
Gone for a burton If something's gone for a burton, it has been spoiled or ruined. If a preson has gone for a burton, they are either in serious trouble or have died.
Gone pear-shaped If things have gone pear-shaped they have either gone wrong or produced an unexpected and
unwanted result.
Gone to pot If something has gone to pot, it has gone wrong and doesn't work any more.
Gone to the dogs If something has gone to the dogs, it has gone badly wrong and lost all the good things it had.
Good antennae Someone with good antennae is good at detecting things.
Good egg A person who can be relied on is a good egg.
Bad egg is the opposite.
Good spell A spell can mean a fairly or relatively short period of time; you'll hear weather forecasts predict a dry spell. Sports commentators will say that a sportsperson is going through a good spell when they're performing consistently better than they normally do.
Good time If you make good time on a journey, you manage to travel faster than expected.
Good walls make good neighbours Your relationship with your neighbours depends, among other things, on respecting one another's privacy.
Goody two-shoes A goody two-shoes is a self-righteous person who makes a great deal of their virtue.
Grab the bulls by its horns If you grab (take) the bull by its horns, you deal head-on and directly with a problem.
Grasp the nettle If you grasp the nettle, you deal bravely with a problem.
Grass roots This idioms is often used in politics, where it refers to the ordinary people or voters. It can be used to mean
people at the bottom of a hierarchy.
Grass widow A grass widow is a woman whose husband is often away on work, leaving her on her own.
Graveyard shift If you have to work very late at night, it is the graveyard shift.
Gravy train If someone is on the gravy train, they have found and easy way to make lots of money.
Grease monkey A grease monkey is an idiomatic term for a mechanic.
Grease someone's palm If you grease someone's palm, you bribe them to do something.
Greased lightning If something or someone moves like greased lightning, they move very fast indeed.
Great guns If something or someone is going great guns, they are doing very well.
Great unwashed This is a term used for the working class masses.
Great white hope Someone who is expected to be a great success is a great white hope.
Greek to me If you don't understand something, it's all Greek to you.
Green fingers Someone with green fingers has a talent for gardening.
Green light If you are given the green light, you are given approval to do something.
Green thumb Someone with a talent for gardening has a green thumb.
Green-eyed monster The green-eyed monster is an allegorical phrase for somebody's strong jealousy
Greenhorn A greenhorn or someone who is described simply as green lacks the relevant experience and knowledge for their job or task
Grey area A grey/gray area is one where there is no clear right or wrong.
Grey matter Grey/gray matter is the human brain.
Grey pound In the UK, the grey pound is an idiom for the economic power of elderly people.
Grin like a Cheshire cat If someone has a very wide smile, they have a grin like a Cheshire cat.
Guinea-pig If you are a guinea-pig, you take part in an experiment of some sort and are used in the testing.
Gung Ho If someone is gung ho about something, they support it blindly and don't think about the consequences
Hair of the dog If someone has a hair of the dog, they have an alcoholic drink as a way of getting rid of a hangover, the unpleasant effects of having drunk too much alcohol the night before. It is commonly used as a way of excusing having a drink early on in the day.
Half-baked A half-baked idea or scheme hasn't not been thought through or planned very well.
Hammer and tongs If people are going at it hammer and tongs, they are arguing fiercely. The idiom can also be used
hen people are doing something energetically.
Hand in glove If people are hand in glove, they have an extremely close relationship.
Hand to mouth Someone who's living from hand to mouth, is very poorand needs the little money they have coming in to cover their expenses.
Handwriting like chicken scratch If your handwriting is very hard to read, it is like chicken scratch.
Hang in the balance If an outcome is hanging in the balance, there are at least two possibilities and it is impossible to predict which will win out.
Hang out to dry If you hang someone out to dry, you abandon them when they are in trouble.
Hangdog expression A hangdog expression is one where the person's showing their emotions very clearly, maybe a little too clearly for your liking. It's that mixture of misery and self-pity that is similar to a dog when it's trying to get something it wants but daren't take without permission.
Hanged for a sheep as a lamb This is an expression meaning that if you are going to get into trouble for doing something, then you ought to stop worrying and should try to get everything you can before you get caught.
Hard cheese Hard cheese means hard luck.
Hard of hearing Someone who's hard of hearing is a bit deaf.
Hard sell If someone puts a lot of pressure on you to do or buy something, they are hard selling it.
Haste makes waste This idiom means that if you try to do something quickly, without planning it, you're likely to end up spending more time, money, etc, doing it.
Hat trick Three successes one after the other is a hat trick.
Hatchet job A piece of criticism that destroys someone's reputation is a hatchet job.
Have a trick up your sleeve If you have a trick up your sleeve, you have a secret strategy to use when the time is right.
Having a gas If you're having a gas, you are having a laugh and enjoying yourself in company.
He'll rue the day He'll rue the day that he crossed me. This means that the person will one day bitterly regret what they
have done.
Head is in the clouds If a person has their head in the clouds, they have unrealistic, impractical ideas.
Head nor tail If you can't make head nor tail of something, you cannot understand it at all or make any sense of it.
Head on the block If someone's head is on the block, they are going to be held responsible and suffer the consequences for something that has gone wrong.
Head over heels in love When someone falls passionately in love and is intoxicated by the feeling has fallen head over heels in love.
Heads will roll If heads will roll, people will be punished or sacked for something that has gone wrong.
Headstrong A headstrong person is obstinate and does not take other people's advice readily.
Hear a pin drop If there is complete silence in a room, you can hear a pin drop.
Heart in your boots If you're heart is in your boots, you are very unhappy.
Heart of gold Somone with a heart of gold is a genuinely kind and caring person.
Heaven knows If you ask someone a question and they say this, they have no idea.
Heavenly bodies The heavenly bodies are the stars.
Heavy-handed If someone is heavy-handed, they are insensitive and use excessive force or authority when dealing with
a problem.
edge your bets If you hedge your bets, you don't risk everything on one opportunity, but try more than one thing.
Hell for leather If you do something hell for leather, especially running, you do it as fast as you can.
Hell in a handcart If something is going to hell in a handcart, it is getting worse and worse, with no hope of stopping the
Herding cats If you have to try to co-ordinate a very difficult situation, where people want to do very different things, you are herding cats.
Here today, gone tomorrow Money, happiness and other desirable things are often here today, gone tomorrow, which means that they don't last forever.
Hiding to nothing If people are on a hiding to nothing, their schemes and plans have no chance of succeeding.

'Hiding to nowhere' is an alternative.
High-handed If someone is high-handed, they behave arrogantly and pompously.
High-wire act A high-wire act is a dangerous or risky strategy, plan, task, etc.
Hit the bull's-eye If someone hits the bull's-eye, they are exactly right about something or achieve the best result possible."Bulls-eye" and "bullseye" are alternative spellings.
Hit the fan When it hits the fan, or, more rudely, the shit hits the fan, serious trouble starts.
Hit the ground running If someone hits the ground running, they start a new job or position in a very dynamic manner.
Hit the hay When you hit the hay, you go to bed.
Hit the mark If someone hits the mark, they are right about something.
Hit the nail on the head. If someone hits the nail on the head, they are exactly right about something.
Hit the roof If you lose your temper and get very angry, you hit the roof.
Hit the sack When you hit the sack, you go to bed.
Hoist with your own petard If you are hoist with your own petard, you get into trouble or caught in a trap that you had set for someone else.
Hold all the aces If you hold all the aces, you have all the advantages and your opponents or rivals are in a weak position.
Hold the baby If someone is responsible for something, they are holding the baby.
Hold the bag If someone is responsible for something, they are holding the bag.
Hold your horses If someone tells you to hold your horses. you are doing something too fast and they would like you to slow down.
Hollow victory A hollow victory is where someone wins something in name, but are seen not to have gained anything by winning.
Home stretch The home stretch is the last part of something, like a journey, race or project.
Home, James This is a cliched way of telling the driver of a vehicle to start driving. It is supposed to be an order to a chauffeur (a privately employed driver).
Honest truth If someone claims that something is the honest truth, they wish to sound extra-sincere about something.
Honours are even If honours are even, then a competition has ended with neither side emerging as a winner.
Hook, line, and sinker If somebody accepts or believes something hook, line, and sinker, they accept it completely.
Hope against hope If you hope against hope, you hope for something even though there is little or no chance of your
wish being fulfilled.
Hope in hell If something hasn't got a hope in hell, it stands absolutely no chance of succeeding.
Horns of a dilemma If you are on the horns of a dilemma, you are faced with two equally unpleasant options and have to choose one.
Horse of a different color If something is a horse of a different color, it's a different matter or separate issue altogether.
Horse trading Horse trading is an idiom used to describe negotiations, especially where these are difficult and involve a lot of compromise.
Horses for courses Horses for courses means that what is suitable for one person or situation might be unsuitable for another.
Hostile takeover If a company is bought out when it does not want to be, it is known as a hostile takeover.
Hot ticket A hot ticket is something that is very much in demand at the moment.
Hot water If you get into hot water, you get into trouble.
How come If you want to show disbelief or surprise about an action, you can ask a question using 'how come'. How come he got the job? (You can't believe that they gave the job to somebody like him)
How do you like them apples This idiomatic expression is used to express surprise or shock at something that has happened. It can also be used to boast about something you have done.
How long is a piece of string If someone has no idea of the answer to a question, they can ask 'How long is a piece of string?' as a way of indicating their ignorance.
Hue and cry Hue and cry is an expression that used to mean all the people who joined in chasing a criminal or villain. Nowadays, if you do something without hue and cry, you do it discreetly and without drawing attention.
I hereby give notice of my intention Hereby is used sometimes in formal, official declarations and statements to give greater force to the speaker' or the writer's affirmation. People will say it sometimes to emphasise their sincerity and correctness.
I should cocoa This idiom comes from 'I should think so', but is normally used sarcastically to mean the opposite.
I'll eat my hat You can say this when you are absolutely sure that you are right to let the other person know that there is no chance of your being wrong.
I've got a bone to pick with you If somebody says this, they mean that they have some complaint to make against the person they are addressing.
If you'll pardon my French This idiom is used as a way of apologising for swearing.
Ill-gotten gains Ill-gotten gains are profits or benefits that are made either illegally or unfairly.
In a cleft stick If you are in a cleft stick, you are in a difficult situation, caught between choices.
In a flash If something happens in a flash, it happens very quickly indeed.
In a heartbeat If something happens very quickly or immediately, it happens in a heartbeat.
In a jam If you are in a jam, you are in some trouble.
In a jiffy If something happens in a jiffy, it happens very quickly.
In a nutshell This idiom is used to introduce a concise summary.
In a pickle If you are in a pickle, you are in some trouble or a mess.
In a tick If someone will do something in a tick, they'll do it very soon or very quickly.
In all honesty If you say something in all honesty, you are telling the complete truth. It can be used as a way of introducing a negative opinion whilst trying to be polite; in all honesty, I have to say that I wasn't very impressed.
In an instant If something happens in an instant, it happens very rapidly.
In cold blood If something is done in cold blood, it is done ruthlessly, without any emotion.
In dire straits If you're in dire straits, you're in serious trouble or difficulties.
In donkey's years 'I haven't seen her in donkey's years.' - This means for a very long time.
In dribs and drabs If people arrivein dribs and drabs, they come in small groups at irregular intervals, instead of all
arriving at the same time.
In droves When things happen in droves, a lot happen at the same time or very quickly.
In for a penny, in for a pound If something is worth doing then it is a case of iIn for a penny, in for a pound, which means that when gambling or taking a chance, you might as well go the whole way and take all the risks, not just some.
In my bad books If you are in someone's bad books, they are angry with you. Likewise, if you are in their good books, they are pleased with you.
In my book This idiom means 'in my opinion'.
In my good books If someone is in your good books, you are pleased with or think highly of them at the momnent.
In one ear and out the other If something goes in one ear and out the other, you forget it as soon as you've heard it because it was too complicated, boring etc.
In over your head If someone is in over their head, they are out of the depth in something they are involved in, and may end up in a mess.
In rude health If someone's in rude health, they are very healthy and look it.
In stitches If someone is in stitches, they are laughing uncontrollably.
In tandem If people do things in tandem, they do them at the same time.
In the black If your bank account is in credit, it is in the black.
In the club If a woman's in the club, she's pregnant.
'In the pudding club' is an alternative form.
In the dock If someone is in the dock, they are on trial in court.
In the doghouse If someone is in the doghouse, they are in disgrace and very unpopular at the moment.
In the family way If a woman is in the family way, she is pregnant.
In the hot seat If someone's in the hot seat, they are the target for a lot of unwelcome criticism and examination.
In the long run This means 'over a long period of time', 'in the end' or 'in the final result'.
In the offing If something is in the offing, it is very likely to happen soon.
In the pink If you are in very good health, you are in the pink.
In the pipeline If something's in the pipeline, it hasn't arrived yet but its arrival is expected.
In the red If your bank account is overdrawn, it is in the red.
In the same boat If people are in the same boat, they are in the same predicament or trouble.
In the soup If you're in the soup, you're in trouble.
In the swim If you are in the swim, you are up-to-date with and fully informed about something.
In the twinkling of an eye If something happens in the twinkling of an eyeE, it happens very quickly.
In two minds If you are in two minds about something, you can't decide what to do.
In your face If someone is in your face, they are direct and confrontational. (It is sometime written 'in yer face'colloquially)
In your sights If you have someone or something in your sights, they are your target to beat.
Indian file If people walk in Indian file, they walk in a line one behind the other.
Indian giver An Indian giver gives something, then tries to take it back.
Indian summer If there is a period of warmer weather in late autumn, it is an Indian summer.
Into thin air If something vanishes or disappears without trace, it vanishes into thin air; no-one knows where it has gone.
Iron fist Someone who rules or controls something with an iron fist is in absolute control and tolerates no dissent. An
iron fist in a velvet glove is used to describe someone who appears soft on the outside, but underneath is very hard.
'Mailed fist' is an alternative form.
Irons in the fire A person who has a few irons in the fire has a number of things working to their advantage at the same time.
It ain't over till the fat lady sings This idiom means that until something has officially finished, the result is uncertain.
It cost an arm and a leg If something costs an arm and a leg, it is very expensive indeed.
It cost the earth If something costs the earth, it is very expensive indeed.
It's no use crying over spilt milk This idiom means that getting upset after something has gone wrong is pointless; it can't
be changed so it should be accepted.
Ivory tower People who live in ivory towers are detached from the world around them.
Jack Frost If everything has frozen in winter, then Jack Frost has visited.
Jack-of-all-trades A jack-of-all-trades is someone that can do many different jobs.
Jane Doe Jane Doe is a name given to an unidentified female who may be party to legal proceddings, or to an unidentied person in hospital, or dead. John Doe is the male equivalent.
Jersey justice Jersey justice is very severe justice.
Jet-black To emphasise just how black something is, such as someone's hair, we can call it jet-black.
Job's comforter Someone who says they want to comfort, but actually discomforts people is a Job's comforter.
(Job's is pronounced 'jobes', not 'jobs')
Jobs for the boys Where people give jobs, contracts, etc, to their friends and associates, these are jobs for the boys.
Jockey for position If a number of people want the same opportunity and are struggling to emerge as the most likely candidate,they are jockeying for position.
John Doe John Doe is a name given to an unidentified male who may be party to legal proceddings, or to an unidentied person in hospital, or dead. Jane Doe is the female equivalent.
John Q Public John Q Public is the typical, average person.
Johnny-come-lately A Johnny-come-lately is someone who has recently joined something or arrived somewhere, especially when they want to make changes that are not welcome.
B]Juggle frogs [/B] If you are juggling frogs, you are trying to do something very difficult.
Jump on the bandwagon If people jump on the bandwagon, they get involved in something that has recently become very popular.
Jump the gun If you jump the gun, you start doing something before the appropriate time.
Jump through hoops If you are prepared to jump through hoops for someone, you are prepared to make great efforts
and sacrifices for them.
Jungle out there If someone says that it is a jungle out there, they mean that the situation is dangerours and there are no rules.
Jury's out If the jury's out on an issue, then there is no general agreement or consensus on it.
Just coming up to If the time is just coming up to nine o'clock, it means that it will be nine o'clock in a very few seconds. You'll hear them say it on the radio in the morning.
Just deserts If a bad or evil person gets their just deserts, they get the punishment or suffer the misfortune that it is felt they deserve.
Just in the nick of time If you do somethingin the nick of time, you just manage to do it just in time, with seconds to spare.
Just off the boat If someone is just off the boat, they are naive and inexperienced.
Kangaroo court When people take the law into their own hands and form courts that are not legal, these are known as kangaroo court.
Keen as mustard If someone is very enthusiatic, they are as keen as mustard.
Keep abreast If you keep abreast of things, you stay informed about developments.
Keep at bay If you keep someone or something at bay, you maintain a safe distance from them.
Keep body and soul together If you earn enough to cover your basic expenses, but nothing more than that, you earn enough to keep body and soul together.
Keep mum If you keep mum about something, you keep quiet and don't tell anyone.
Keep posted If you keep posted about something, you keep up-to-date with information and developments.
Keep up with the Joneses People who try to keep up with the Joneses are competitive about material possessions and always try to have the latest and best things.
Keep your chin up This expresion is used to tell someone to have confidence.
Keep your ear to the ground If you keep your ear to the ground, you try to keep informed about something, especially if there are rumours or uncertainties.
Keep your eye on the ball If you keep your eye on the ball, you stay alert and pay close attention to what is happening.
Keep your fingers crossed If you are keeping your fingers crossed, you are hoping for a positive outcome.
Keep your hair on Keep your hair on is advice telling someone to keep calm and not to over-react or get angry.
Keep your head above water If you are just managing to survive financially, you are keeping your head above water.
Keep your nose clean If someone is trying to keep their Nose Clean, they are trying to stay out of trouble by not getting
involved in any sort of wrong-doing.
Keep your pecker up If someone tells you to keep your pecker up, they are telling you not to let your problems get on top of you and to try to be optimistic.
Keep your powder dry If you keep your powder dry, you act cautiously so as not to damage your chances.
Keep your shirt on! This idiom is used to tell someone to calm down.
Keep your wig on! This idiom is used to tell someone to calm down.
Keeping your options open Is someone's keeping her or his options open, they aren't going to restrict themselves or rule out any possible course of action.
Kettle of fish A pretty or fine kettle of fish is a difficult problem or situation.
Kick away the ladder If someone kicks away the ladder, they remove something that was supporting or helping someone.
Kick in the teeth Bad news or a sudden disappointment are a kick in the teeth.
Kick something into the long grass If an issue or problem is kicked into the long grass, it is pushed aside and hidden in
the hope that it will be forgotten or ignored.
Kick the bucket When someone kicks the bucket, they die.
Kid gloves If someone is handled with kid gloves, they are given special treatment and handled with great care.
Kill the goose that lays the golden egg If you kill the goose that lays the golden egg, you ruin something that is very
Kill two birds with one stone When you kill two birds with one stone, you resolve two difficulties or matters with a single action.
Kindred spirit A kindred spirit is someone who feels and thinks the way you do.
Kiss of death The kiss of death is an action that means failure or ruin for someone, a scheme, a plan, etc.
Kith and kin Your kith and kin are your family; your next of kin are close relations you nominate to deal with your affairs in the event of your death on a document, like a passport.
Knee-jerk reaction A knee-kerk reaction is an instant, instinctive response to a situation.
Knock your socks off If something knocks your socks off, it amazes and surprises you, usually in a positive way.
Know full well When you know full well, you are absolutely sure that you know.
Know the ropes Someone who is experienced and knows how the system works know the ropes.
Know which side one's bread is buttered on If you know which side one's bread is buttered on, you know where your interests lie and will act accordingly to protect or further them.
Know your onions If someone is very well-informed about something, they know their onions.
Know your place A person who knows their place doesn't try to impose themselves on others.
Labor of love A labor of love is a project or task undertaking for the interest or pleasure in doing it rather than the reward, financial or otherwise.
Labour of love A labour of love is a project or task undertaking for the interest or pleasure in doing it rather than the reward, financial or otherwise.
Lame duck If something or someone is a lame duck, they are in trouble.
Land of nod If someone has gone to the land of nod, they have fallen asleep or gone to bed.
Lap of the gods If something is in the lap of the gods, it is beyond our control and fate will decide the outcome.
Larger than life If something is excessive or exaggerated, it is larger than life.
Last hurrah If an elderly person does something special before they die, it is a last hurrah.
Last straw The last straw is the final problem that makes someone lose their temper or the problem that finally brought
about the collapse of something. It comes from an Arabic story, where a camel was loaded with straw until a single straw placed on the rest of the load broke its back.
Last-ditch A last-ditch attempt is a desperate attempt that will probably fail anyway.
Law unto yourself If somebody's a law unto themselves, they do what they believe is right regardless of what is
generally accepted as correct.
Lay down the law If someone lays down the law, they tell people what to do and are authoritarian.
Lead someone up the garden path If someone leads you up the garden path, they deceive you, or give you false information that causes you to waste your time.'Lead someone down the garden path' is also used.
Leave no stone unturned If you look everywhere to find something, or try everything to achieve something, you leave no stone unturned.
Leave well alone If you leave something well alone, you keep a safe distance from it, either physically or metaphorically.
Left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing If the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing, then communication within a company, organisation, group, etc, is so bad that people don't know what the others are doing.
Left in the dark If you are left in the dark about something, you aren't given the information that you should have.
Legend in your own lunchtime Somebody who becomes a legend in their own lifetime acquires fame, but often only to a select or specialist audience, while they are still alive.
Lesser of two evils Something that is the lesser of two evils, is an unpleasant option, but not as bad as the other.
Let bygones be bygones If people decide to let bygones be bygones, they decide to forget old problems or grievances they have with each other.
Let sleeping dogs lie If someone is told to let sleeping dogs lie, it means that they shouldn't disturb a situation as it would result in trouble or complications.
Let the cat out of the bag If you accidentally reveal a secret, you let the cat out of the bag.
Let the devil take the hindmost This idiom means that you should think of yourself and not be concerned about other people; look after yourself and let the devil take the hindmost.
Level playing field If there's a level playing field everybody is treated equally.
Lie through your teeth Someone who is always lying, regardless of what people know, lies through their teeth.
Light years ahead If you are light years ahead of others, you are a long way in front of them in terms of development,
success, etc.
Lightning rod Someone or something that attracts a lot of negative comment, often diverting attention from other probolems, is a lightning rod.
Like a beached whale Once a whale is on a beach, it cannot get back into the easily, so if you are completely stuck somewhere and can't get away, you are stranded like a beached whale.
Like a cat that got the cream If someone looks very pleased with themselves and happy, they look like a cat that got the cream.
Like a duck to water If someone has a natural talent for something and enjoys it, they take to it like a duck to water.
Like a fish needs a bicycle If someone needs something like a Fish Needs a Bicycle, they do not need it at all, originally a feminist slogan: A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.
Like a fish out of water If someone feels like a fish out of water, they are very uncomfortable in the situation they are in.
Like a rat deserting a sinking ship If people leave a company because they know that it's about to have serious problems, or turn their back on a person about to be in a similar situation, they are said to be like rats deserting a sinking ship.
Like lambs to the slaughter If somebody does something unpleasant without any resistance, they go like lambs to the slaughter.
Like taking candy from a baby If something is like taking candy from a baby, it is very easy to do.
Like the clappers If something is going like the clappers, it is going very fast.
Like there's no tomorrow If you do something like there's no tomorrow, you do it fast or energetically.
Lily-livered Someone who is lily-livered is a coward.
Lines of communication Lines of communication are the routes used to communicate by people or groups who are in
conflict; a government might open lines of communication with terrorists if it wished to negotiate with them.
Lip service When people pay lip service to something, they express their respect, but they don't act on their words, so the respect is hollow and empty.
Live wire A person who is very active, both mentally and physically, is a live wire.
Loan shark A loan shark lends money at very high rates of interest.
Lock the stable door after the horse has bolted If someone takes action too late, they do this; there is no reason to lock
an empty stable.
Lock, stock and barrel This is an expressions that means 'everything'; if someone buys a company lock, stock and barrel, they buy absolutely everything to do with the company.
Long in the tooth If someone is long in the tooth, they are a bit too old to do something.
Long time no see Long time no see means that the speaker has not seen that person for a long time.
Look after number 1 You are number one, so this idiom menas that you should think about yourself first, rather than worrying about other people.
Look before you leap This idiom means that you should think carefully about the possible results or consequences before doing something.
Look out for number one If you look out for number one, you take care of yourself and your interests, rather than those of other people.
Lose the plot If someone loses the plot, they have stopped being rational about something.
Lose your lunch If you lose your lunch, you vomit.
Lose your marbles If someone has lost their marbles, they've gone mad.
Lose your shirt If someone loses their shirt, they lose all their money through a bad investment, gambling, etc.
Lower the bar If people change the standards required to make things easier, they lower the bar.
Lower your sights If you lower your sights, you accept something that is less than you were hoping for.
Luck of the draw To have the 'Luck of the draw' is to win something in a competition where the winner is chosen purely by chance.
Mad as a badger If someone is as mad as a badger, they are crazy.
Mad as a hornet If someone is as mad as a hornet, they are very angry indeed.
Mad as a March hare Someone who is excitable and unpredictable is as mad as a March hare.
Mailed fist Someone who rules or controls something with a mailed fist is in absolute control and tolerates no dissent. A mailed fist in a velvet glove is used to describe someone who appears soft on the outside, but underneath is very hard.
'Iron fist' is an alternative form.
Major league Something major league is very important.
Make a better fist If someone makes a better fist of doing something, they do a better job.
Make a killing If you make a killing, you do something that makes you a lot of money.
Make a mint If someone is making a mint, they are making a lot of money.
Make a monkey of someone If you make a monkey of someone, you make them look foolish.
Make a mountain out of a molehill If somebody makes a mountain out of a molehill, they exagerate the importance or seriousness of a problem.
Make a pitch If you make a pitch for something, you make a bid, offer or other attempt to get it.
Make a request If you request something, or make a request, you are asking for something you want or need.
Make a song and dance If someone makes a song and dance, they make an unecessary fuss about something
Make an enquiry If you make an enquiry, you ask for general information about something.
Make bets in a burning house If people are making bets in a burning house, they are engaged in futile activity, while
serious problems around them are getting worse.
Make ends meet If somebody finds it hard to make ends meet, they have problems living on the money they earn.
Make hay If you make hay, or may hay while the sun shines, you take advantage of an opportunity as soon as it arises and do not waste time.
Make headway If you make headway, you make progress.
Make no bones about it If somebody make no bones about a scandal in their past, they are open and honest about it
and show no shame or embarrassment.
Make out like a bandit If someone is extremely successful in a venture, they make out like a bandit.
Make waves If someone makes waves, they cause a lot of trouble.
Make your blood boil If something makes your blood boil, it makes you very angry.
Make your hair stand on end If something makes your hair stand on end, it terrifies you.
Man in the street The man in the street is an idiom to describe ordinary people, especially when talking about their opinions and ideas.
Man of letters A man of letters is someone who is an expert in the arts and literature, and often a writer too.
Man of means A man, or woman, of means is wealthy.
Man of straw A weak person that can easily be beaten of changed is a man of straw.
Man of the cloth A man of the cloth is a priest.
Man's best friend This is an idiomatic term for dogs.
Man's man A man's man is a man who does things enjoyed by men and is respected by other men.
Many a slip twixt cup and lip There's many a slip twixt cup and lip means that many things can go wrong before something is achieved.
Mark my words Mark my words is an expression used to lend an air of seriousness to what the speaker is about to say
when talking about the future. You often hear drunks say it before they deliver some particularly spurious nonsense.
Marked man A marked man is a person who is being targetted by people who want to do them harm or cause them
Matter of life and death If something is a matter of life and death, it is extremely important.
Mealy-mouthed A mealy-mouthed person doesn't say what they mean clearly.
Meet someone halfway If you meet someone halfway, you accept some of their ideas and make concessions.
Meet your expectations If something doesn't meet your expectations, it means that it wasn't as good as you had thought it was going to be; a disappointment.
Meet your match If you meet your match, you meet a person who is at least as good if not better than you are at
Megaphone diplomacy If negotiations between countries or parties are held through press releases and announcements,
this is megaphone diplomacy, aiming to force the other party into adopting a desired position.
Memory like a sieve If somebody can't retain things for long in his or her memory and quickly forgets, he or she has a
memory like a sieve. A sieve has lots of tiny holes in it to let liquids out while keeping the solids inside.
Memory like an elephant 'An elephant never forgets' is a saying, so if a person has a memory like an elephant, he or she
has a very good memory indeed.
Mickey Mouse If something is Mickey Mouse, it is intellectually trivial or not of a very high standard.
Midas touch If someone has the Midas touch, they make a lot of money out of any scheme they try.
Mighty oaks from little acorns grow Big or great things start very small.
Millstone round your neck A millstone around your neck is a problem that prevents you from doing what you want to do.
Mind the gap Mind the gap is an instruction used on the Underground in the UK to warn passengers to be careful when leaving the tube or train as there is quite a distance between the train and the platform.
Mind Your P's and Q's If you are careful about the way you behave and are polite, you mind Your P's and Q's.
Mint condition If something is in mint condition, it is in perfect condition.
Misery guts A misery guts is a person who's always unhappy and tries to make others feel negative.
Miss is as good as a mile A miss is as good as a mile means that if you fail, even by the smallest margin, it is still a failure.
Miss the boat If you miss the boat, you are too late to take advantage of an opportunity.
Money laundering If people launder money, they get money made illegally into the mainstream so that it is believed to be legitimate and clean.
Money to burn If someone is very rich, they have money to burn.
Monkey business If children get up to monkey business, they are behaving naughtily or mischievously. This is the same as MONKEYING AROUND.
Moot point If something's a moot point, there's some disagreement about it; a debatable point.
More haste, less speed The faster you try to do something, the more likely you are to make mistakes that make you take longer than it would had you planned it.
More heat than light If a discussion generates more heat than light, it doesn't provide answers, but does make people angry.
More than one string to their bow A person who has more than one string to their bow has different talents or skills to fall back on.
Move the goalposts When people move the goalposts, they change the standards required for something to their advantage.
Mover and shaker A person who is a mover and shaker is a highly-respected, key figure in their particular area with a lot of influence and importance.
Mud in your eye This is a way of saying 'cheers' when you are about to drink something, normally alcohol.
Mud-slinging If someone is mud-slinging, they are insulting someone and trying to damage that person's reputation.
Muddy the waters If somebeody muddies the waters, he or she makes the situation more complex or less clear.
Murky waters Where people are behaving in morally and ethically questionable ways, they are in murky waters.
Music to my ears If something someone says is music to your ears, it is exactly what you had wanted to hear.
Mutton dressed as lamb Mutton dressed as lamb is term for middle-aged or elderly people trying to look younger.
My hands are full If your hands are full, you have so much to do that you cannot take on any more work, responsibilities and so on.
My hands are tied If your hands are tied, you are unable to act for some reason
Nail in the coffin A nail in someone or something's coffin is a problem or event that is a clear step towards an inevitable failure.
Nature abhors a vacuum This idiom is used to express the idea that empty or unfilled spaces are unnatural as they go
against the laws of nature and physics.
Neck and neck If two competitors or candidates, etc, are neck and neck, then they are very close and neither is clearly winning.
Neck of the woods If someone talks about their neck of the woods, they mean the area where they live.
Needle in a haystack If trying to find something is like looking for a needle in a haystack, it means that it is very difficult, if not impossible to find among everything around it.
Neither fish nor fowl Something or someone that is neither fish nor fowl doesn't really fit into any one group.
Nest egg If you have some money saved for the future, it is a nest egg.
Never a rose without the prick This means that good things always have something bad as well; like the thorns on the stem of a rose.
New blood If something needs new blood, it has become stale and needs new ideas or people to invigorate it.
New brush sweeps clean 'A new brush sweeps clean' means that someone with a new perspective can make great changes. However, the full version is 'a new brush sweeps clean, but an old brush knows the corners', which warns that experience is also a valuable thing. Sometimes 'broom' is used instead of 'brush'.
New lease of life If someone finds new enthusiasm and energy for something, they have a new lease of life.
New man A New man is a man who believes in complete equality of the sexes and shares domestic work equally.
New York minute If something happens in a New York minute, it happens very fast.
Newfangled People who don't like new methods, technologies, etc, describe them as newfangled, which means new but not as good or nice as the old ones.
Nick of time If you do something in the nick of time, you do it at the very last minute or second.
Ninth circle of hell In Dante's Inferno, the ninth circle of hell is the centre where the worst punishments are found, so it is
used idiomatically for something that couldn't get worse.
Nip it in the bud If you nip something in the bud, you deal with a problem when it is still small, before it can grow into something serious.
Nitty gritty If people get down to the nitty gritty, they concentrate on the most important and serious issues.
No bed of roses If something isn't a bed of roses, it is difficult.
No can do No can do means that the speaker can't do whatever it is that has been asked of him or her.
No great shakes If someone is no great shakes at something, they are not very good at it.
No holds barred If there are no holds barred, there are no rules of conduct; you can do anything.
No ifs or buts Ifs and Buts is a term used to describe the reasons people give for not wanting to do something. To show that you don't wish to accept any excuses, you can tell somebody that you wish to hear no ifs or buts Here IF & BUT have become nouns
No love lost If there is no love lost between two people they have a strong enmity towards or hate for the other and make no effort to conceal it.
No quarter This means without mercy. We can say no quarter given or asked.
No question This idiom means that something is certain or definite.
No questions asked If something is to be done and no questions asked, then it doesn't matter what methods are used or what rules are broken to ensure that it gets done.
No spring chicken If someone is no spring chicken, they aren't very young.
No time for If you have no time for an activity, you have absolutely no desire to spend or waste any time doing it. You can have no time for people, too.
No time like the present If people say that there's no time like the present , they believe that it is far better to do something now than to leave it for later, in which case it might never get done.
No time to lose If there's no time to lose, then it's time to get started otherwise it won't be finished on time.
Not all there If someone isn't all there, they are a little bit stupid or crazy.
Not cricket If something is not cricket, it is unfair.
Not enough room to swing a cat If a room is very small, you can say that there isn't enough room to swing a cat in it.
Not much cop Describing a film or something as not much cop is a way of saying that you didn't think much of it.
Not my cup of tea If something is not your cup of tea, you don't like it very much.
Not to be sneezed at If something is not to be sneezed at, it should be taken seriously.
Notch on your belt A success or achievement that might help you in the future is a notch on your belt.
Number cruncher A number cruncher is an accountant or someone who is very good at dealing with numbers and calculations.
Nuts and bolts The nuts and bolts are the most essential components of something.
Odds and ends Odds and ends are small, remnant articles and things- the same as bits and bobs.
Off colour If someone looks off colour/color, they look ill.
Off the chart If something goes off the chart, it far exceeds the normal standards, good or bad, for something.
Off the cuff If you do something off the cuff, you do it without any preparation.
Off the hook If someone is off the hook, they have avoided punishment or criticism for something they have done.
Off the mark If something is off the mark, it is inaccurate or incorrect.
Off the rails If someone has gone off the rails, they have lost track of reality.
Off the scale If something goes off the scale, it far exceeds the normal standards, good or bad, for something.
Off the wall Something that is off the wall is unconventional.
Off your rocker Someone who is off their rocker is crazy.
Off-hand Off-hand means without preparation. People say that they don't know the answer off-hand, meaning that they don't know it at that time.
Old hat If something's old hat, it seems rather old fashioned and dated.
Oldest trick in the book The oldest trick in the book is a well-known way of deceiving someone, though still effective.
Olive branch If you hold out or offer an olive branch, you make a gesture to indicate that you want peace.
On a fishing expedition If someone is on a fishing expedition, they are trying to get information, often using incorrect or
improper ways to find things out.
On Carey Street If someone is on Carey Street, they are heavily in debt or have gone bankrupt.
On hold If something is on hold, no action is being taken.
On ice If plans are put on ice, they are delayed and no action will be taken for the foreseeable future.
On tenterhooks This means that she is waiting impatiently and excitedly for something.
On the ball If someone's on the ball, they are well-informed and know what's going on in their area of responsibility or interest.
On the blink Is a machine is on the blink, it isn't working properly or is out of order.
On the blower If someone is on the blower, they are on the phone.
On the case If someone is on the case, they are dealing with a problem.
On the dot If someone says that they're leaving at seven on the dot, don't be late; they mean at exactly seven o'clock.
On the fiddle Someone who is stealing money from work is on the fiddle, especially if they are doig it by fraud.
On the fly If you do things on the fly, you do things without preparation, responding to events as they happen.
On the game A person who is on the game works as a prostitute.
On the ground Events on the ground are where things are actually happening, not at a distance.
On the hoof If you decide something on the hoof, you do it without planning, responding to events as they happen.
On the level If someone is honest and trustworthy, they are on the level.
On the line If somebody's job is on the line, they stand a very good chance of losing it.
On the map If a place becomes widely known, it is put on the map. A place that remains unknown is off the map.
On the never-never If you buy something on the never-never, you buy it on long-term credit.
On the nod Someone who has taken a lot of drugs and is barely conscious is on the nod.
On the right foot If you start something or set off on the right foot, you get off to a good start.
On the shelf If something like a project is on the shelf, nothing is being done about it at the moment.
On the sly If someone does something on the sly, they do it furtively or secretly.
On the stump When politicians are campaigning for support and votes, they are on the stump.
On the take Someone who is stealing from work is on the take.
On the tip of your tongue If a word is on the tip of your tongue, you know you know the word, but you just can't quite remember it at the moment.
On the trot This idiom means 'consecutively'; I'd saw them three days on the trot, which means that I saw them on three consecutive days.
On the up and up If you are on the up and up, you are making very good progress in life and doing well.
On the wagon If someone is on the wagon, they have stopped drinking alcohol.
On top of the world If you are on top of the world, everything is going well for you.
On your high horse When someone is on their high horse, they are being inflexible, arrogant and will not make any
On your last legs If someone's on their last legs, they're close to dying.
Once bitten, twice shy If somebody is said to be once bitten twice shy, it means that someone who has been hurt or
who has had something go wrong will be far more careful the next time.
One bad apple The full form of this proverb is 'one bad apple spoils the barrel', meaning that a bad person, policy, etc, can ruin everything around it.
One fell swoop If something is done at one fell swoop, it is done in a single period of activity, usually swiftly and ruthlessly.
One man's meat is another man's poison This idiom means that one person can like something very much, but another can hate it.
One over the eight Someone who is one over the eight is drunk.
One-man band If one person does all the work or has all the responsibility somewhere, then they are a one-man band.
One-off A one-off event only happens once and will not be repeated.
Open all hours If a shop or suchlike is open all hours, it only closes, if at all, terribly late.
Open book If a person is an open book, it is easy to know what they think or how they feel about things.
Opening a can of worms If you open a can of worms, you do something that will cause a lot of problems and is, on
balance, probably going to cause more trouble than it's worth.
Opportunity knocks but once This idiom means that you only get one chance to achieve what you really want to do.
Out and about If someone is out and about, they have left their home and are getting things done that they need to do.
Out in the sticks If someone lives out in the sticks, they live out in the country, a long way from any metropolitan area.
Out like a light If you are out like a light, you fall fast asleep.
[BOut of pocket[/B] If you are out of pocket on a deal, you have lost money.
Out of sight, out of mind Out of sight, out of mind is used to suggest that someone will not think or worry about
something if it isn't directly visible or available to them.
Out of sorts If you are feeling a bit upset and depressed, you are out of sorts.
Out of the blue If something happens out of the blue, it happens suddenly and unexpectedly.
Out of the frying pan, into the fire If you get out of one problem, but find yourself in a worse situation, you are out of the frying pan, into the fire.
Out of your own pocket If someone does something out of their own pocket, they pay all the expenses involved.
Out on a limb If somebody's out on a limb, they are in a very exposed position and could get into difficulties.
Out to lunch If someone's out to lunch, they are crazy or out of touch.
Over a barrel If someone has you over a barrel, they have you in a position where you have no choice but to accept
what they want.
Over the counter Medicines and drugs that can be sold without a doctor's prescription are sold over the counter.
Over the moon If you are over the moon about something, you are overjoyed.
Over your head If something is over your head, or goes over your head, it is too complex or difficult for you to
Pain in the neck If someone is very annoying and always disturbing you, they are a pain in the neck.
Paint the town red If you go out for a night out with lots of fun and drinking, you paint the town red.
Paint yourself into a corner If someone paints themselves into a corner, they get themselves into a mess.
Paper tiger A paper tiger is a person, country, institution, etc, that looks powerful, but is actually weak.
Par for the course If something is par for the course, it is what you expected it would be. If it is above par, it is better, and if it is below par, it is worse.
Parrot fashion If you learn something parrot fashion, you learn it word for word. A parrot is a bird from South America that can talk.
Part and parcel If something is part and parcel of your job, say, it is an essential and unavoidable part that has to be accepted.
Pass muster If something passes muster, it meets the required standard.
Pass the buck If you pass the buck, you avoid taking responsibility by saying that someone else is responsible.
Pass the time of day If you pass the time of day with somebody, you stop and say hello, enquire how they are and other such acts of social politeness.
Patience of Job If something requires the patience of Job, it requires great patience.
Pay on the nail If you pay on the nail, you pay promptly in cash.
Pay through the nose If you pay through the nose for something, you pay a very high price for it.
Pecking order The pecking order is the order of importance or rank.
Pen is mightier than the sword The idiom 'the pen is mightier than the sword' means that words and communication are more powerful than wars and fighting.
Penny wise, pound foolish Someone who is penny wise, pound foolish can be very careful or mean with small amounts of money, yet wasteful and extravagant with large sums.
Perfidious Albion England is known to some as perfidious Albion, implying that it is not trustworthy in its dealings with foreigners.
Perish the thought Perish the thought is an expression meaning that you really hope something will not happen.
Pick up the tab A person who pays for everyone picks up the tab.
Pick-up game A pick-up game is something unplanned where people respond to events as they happen.
Pie in the sky If an idea or scheme is pie in the sky, it is utterly impractical.
Piece of cake If something is a piece of cake, it is really easy.
Pig in a poke If someone buys a pig in a poke, they buy something without checking the condition it was in, usually finding out later that it was defective.
Pigs might fly If you think something will never happen or succeed, you can say that 'pigs might fly' (or 'pigs can fly' and 'pigs will fly'- the idiom is used in many forms)
Pin money If you work for pin money, you work not because you need to but because it gives you money for extra little luxuries and treats.
Pink pound In the UK, the pink pound is an idiom for the economic power of gay people.
Pipe dream A pipe dream is an unrealistic, impractical idea or scheme.
Piping hot If food is piping hot, it is very hot indeed.
Plain as a pikestaff If something is as plain as a pikestaff, it is very clear.
Plain as the nose on your face If something is as plain as the nose on your face, it is very clear and obvious.
Plain sailing If something is relatively easy and there are no problems doing it, it is plain sailing.
Plastic Smile When someone is wearing a plastic smile, they are appear to be happier with a situation or events than they actually are. This is actually a description of the forced smile you might see in many photographs.
Play hardball If someone plays hardball, they are very agressive in trying to achieve their aim.
Play havoc Playing havoc with something is creating disorder and confusion; computer viruses can play havoc with your programs.
Play it by ear If you play it by ear, you don't have a plan of action, but decide what to do as events take shape.
Play out of your skin If someone plays out of their skin, they give an outstanding performance.
Play second fiddle If you play second fiddle, you take a subordinate role behind someone more important.
Play the field Someone who plays the field has sexual relationships with many people.
Playing to the glallery If someone plays to the gallery, they say or do things that will make them popular, but which are
not the right things to do.
Pointy-heads Pointy-heads are supposed intellectuals or experts, but who don't really know that much.
Pop the question When someone pops the question, they ask someone to marry them.
Pop your clogs When someone pops their clogs, they die.
Pork barrel Pork barrel politics involves investing money in an area to get political support rather than using the money
for the common good.
Pot-luck If you take pot-luck, you take whatever happens to be available at the time.
Powder your nose If somebody goes to powder your nose, it is a euphemism for going to the lavatory (toilet).
Powers that Be The Powers that Be are the people who are in charge of something.
Primrose path The primrose path is an easy and pleasurable lifestyle, but one that ends in unpleasantness and problems.
Proclaim it from the rooftops If something is proclaimed from the rooftops, it is made as widely known and as public as possible.
Prodigal son A prodigal son is a young man who wastes a lot on money on a lavish lifestyle. If the prodigal son returns, they return to a better way of living.
Pull in the reins When you pull in the reins, you slow down or stop something that has been a bit out of control.
Pull no punches If you pull no punches, you hold nothing back.
Pull someone's leg If you pull someone's leg, you tease them, but not maliciously.
Pull strings If you pull strings, you use contacts you have got to help you get what you want.
Pull the other one, it's got brass bells on This idiom is way of telling somebody that you don't believe them. The word
'brass' is optional.
Pull the wool over someone's eyes If you pull the wool over someone's eyes, you deceive or cheat them.
Pull up your socks If you aren't satified with someone and want them to do better, you can tell them to pull up their
Pull your chain If someone pulls your chain, they take advantage of you in an unfair way or do something to annoy you.
Pull your finger out! If someone tells you to do this, they want you to hurry up.
Pull your punches If you pull your punches, you don't do something as hard as you could, or don't criticise someone as much as you could.
Pull your punches If you pull your punches, you do not use all the power or authority at your disposal.
Pull your weight If someone is not pulling their weight, they aren't making enough effort, especially in group work.
Punching bag A punching bag (or punch bag) is a person who gets a lot of unfair criticism.
Pup's chance A pup's chance is no chance.
Push the envelope This means to go to the limits, to do something to the maximum possible.
Pushing up the daisies If someone is said to be pushing up the daisies, they are dead.
Put all your eggs in one basket If you put all your eggs in one basket, you risk everything on a single opportunity which,
like eggs breaking, could go wrong.
Put or get someone's back up If you put or get someone's back up, you annoy them.
Put somebody's nose out of joint If you put someone's nose out of joint, you irritate them or make them angry with you.
Put your foot down When someone puts their foot down, they make a firm stand and establish their authority on an
Put your foot in it If you put your foot in it, you do or say something embarrassing and tactless or get yourself into trouble.
Putting the cart before the horse When you put the cart before the horse, you are doing something the wrong way round
Pyrrhic victory A Pyrrhic victory is one that causes the victor to suffer so much to achieve it that it isn't worth winning.
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Last edited by Qurratulain; Monday, June 12, 2006 at 06:36 PM.
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Default idioms(Q...........Z)

Queen of Hearts A woman who is pre-eminent in her area is a Queen of Hearts.

Queer fish A strange person is a queer fish.

Queer Street If someone is in a lot of trouble, especially financial, they are in Queer Street.

Queer your pitch If someone queers your pitch, they interfere in your affairs and spoil things.

Queue jumping Someone who goes to the front of a queue instead of waiting is jumping the queue.
Quick as a flash If something happens quick as a flash, it happens very fast indeed.
Quick buck If you make some money easily, you make a quick buck.
Quick off the mark If someone is quick off the mark, they are very quick to use, start or do something new.
Quick on the trigger Someone who is quick on the trigger acts or responds quickly.
Quids in If somebody is quids in, they stand to make a lot of money from something.
Quiet as a mouse If someone's as quiet as a mouse, they make absolutely no noise.
Rack and ruin If something or someone goes to rack and ruin, they are utterly destroyed or wrecked.
Rags to riches Someone who starts life very poor and becomes rich, goes from rags to riches.
Raining cats and dogs When it is raining cats and dogs, it is raining very heavily.
Rainy day If you save something, especially money, for a rainy day, you save it for some possible problem or trouble in the future.
Raise Cain If someone raises Cain, they make a big fuss publicly, causing a disturbance.
Rake over old coals If you go back to old problems and try to bring them back, making trouble for someone, you are raking over old coals.
Rake someone over the coals If you rake someone over the coals, you criticize or scold them severely.
Rather you than me Rather you than me is an expression used when someone has something unpleasant or arduous to do. It is meant in a good natured way of expressing both sympathy and having a bit of a laugh at their expense.
Raw deal If you get a raw deal, you are treated unfairly.
Read someone the riot act If you read someone the riot act, you give them a clear warning that if they don't stop doing something, they will be in serious trouble.
Real trooper A real trooper is someone who will fight for what they believe in and doesn't give up easily.
Recipe for disaster A recipe for disaster is a mixture of people and events that could only possibly result in trouble.
Red herring If something is a distraction from the real issues, it is a red herring.
Red letter day A red letter day is a one of good luck, when something special happens to you.
Red light district The red light district is the area of a town or city where there is prostitution, sex shops, etc.
Red mist If someone sees red or the red mist, they lose their temper and self-control completely.
Red rag to a bull If something is a red rag to a bull, it is something that will inevitably make somebody angry or cross.
Red tape This is a negative term for the official paperwork and bureaucracy that we have to deal with.
Reinvent the wheel If someone reinvents the wheel, they waste their time doing something that has already been done by other people, when they could be doing something more worthwhile.
Rest is gravy If the rest is gravy, it is easy and straightforward once you have reached that stage.
Rest on your laurels If someone rests on their laurels, they rely on their past achievements, rather than trying to achieve things now.
Revenge is sweet When you are happy to be proved right, then you know that revenge is sweet.
Rewrite history If you rewrite history, you change your version of past events so as to make yourself look better than you would if the truth was told.
Rice missionary A rice missionary gives food to hungry people as a way of converting them to Christianity.
Rich as Croesus Someone who is as rich as Croesus is very wealthy indeed.
Right as rain If things are right as rain, then everything is going well in your life.
Right royal A right royal night out would be an extremely exciting, memorable and fun one.
Ring a bell If something rings a bell, it reminds you of something you have heard before, though you may not be able to remember it very well. A name may ring a bell, so you know you have heard the name before, but cannot place it properly.
Ringside seat If you have a ringside seat, you can observe something from a very close and clear position.
Rob Peter to pay Paul If you rob Peter to pay Paul, you try to solve one problem, but create another in doing so, often through short-term planning.
Rock the boat If you rock the boat, you destabilise a situation by making trouble. It is often used as advice; 'Don't rock the boat'.
Rocket science If something is not rocket science, it is not very complicated or difficult to understand. This idiom is normally used in the negative.
Rolling in the aisles If the audience watching something are laughing loudly, the show has them rolling in the aisles.
Rome was not built in a day This idiom means that many things cannot be done instantly, and require time and patience.
Rooted to the spot If someone is rooted to the spot, they canot move, either physically or they cannot think their way out of a problem.
Rough diamond A rough diamond is a person who might be a bit rude but who is good underneath it all.
Rough-hewn If something, especially something made from wood or stone, is rough-hewn, it is unfinished or unpolished.
Round the bend If someone has gone round the bend, they have stopped being rational about something.

If something drives you round the bend, it irritates you or makes you angry.
Round the houses If you go round the houses, you do something in an inefficient way when there is a quicker, more convenient way.
Rub someone up the wrong way If you annoy or irritate someone when you didn't mean to, you rub them up the wrong way.
Ruffle a few feathers If you ruffle a few feathers, you annoy some people when making changes or improvements.
Rule of thumb Rule of thumb means approximately.
Run before you can walk If someone tries to run before they can walk, they try to do something requiring a high level of knowledge before they have learned the basics.
Run circles around someone If you can run circles around someone, you are smarter and intellectually quicker than they are.
Run out of gas If a campaign, project, etc, runs out of gas, it loses energy and momentum, and progress slows or halts.
Run rings around someone If you run rings around someone, you are so much better than them that they have no chance of keeping up with you.
Run the gauntlet If somebody is being criticised harshly by a lot of people, they are said to run the gauntlet.
Run the show If someone runs the show, they like to be in control and make all the decisions.
Run-of-the-mill If something is run-of-the-mill, there is nothing exceptional about it- it is ordinary or average.
Running on empty If you are exhausted but keep going, you are running on empty.
Russian roulette If people take a dangerous and unnecessary risk, they are playing Russian roulette.
Sacred cow Something that is a sacred cow is held in such respect that it cannot be criticised or attacked.
Safe and sound If you arrive safe and sound, then nothing has harmed you on your way.
Safe bet A proposition that is a safe bet doesn't have any risks attached.
Safe pair of hands A person who can be trusted to do something without causing any trouble is a safe pair of hands.
Sail close to the wind If you sail close to the wind, you take risks to do something, going close to the limit of what is allowed or acceptable.
Sail under false colours Someone who sails under false colours (colors) is hypocritical or pretends to be something they aren't in order to deceive people.
Salad days Your salad days are an especially happy period of your life.
Salt of the earth People who are salt of the earth are decent, dependable and unpretentious.
Save face If someone saves face, they manage to protect their reputation.
Save someone's bacon If something saves your bacon, it saves your life or rescues you from a desperate situation. People can also save your bacon.
Save your skin If someone saves their skin, they manage to avoid getting into serious trouble.
Saved by the bell If you are saved by the bell, you are rescued from a danger or a tricky situation just in time.
Saving grace If someone has some character defects, but has a characteristic that compensate for their failings and shortcomings, this is their saving grace.
Say when People say this when pouring a drink as a way of telling you to tell them when there's enough in your glass.
Say-so If you do something on someone else's say-so, you do it on the authority, advice or recomendation.
Scales fall from your eyes When the scales fall from your eyes, you suddenly realise the truth about something.
Scarlet woman This idiom is used as a pejorative term for a sexually promiscuous woman, especially an adulteress.
Scent blood If you can scent blood, you feel that a rival is having difficulties and you are going to beat them.
Scraping the barrel When all the best people, things or ideas and so on are used up and people try to make do with what they have left, they are scraping the barrel.
Scream blue murder If somone shouts very loudly in anger, or fear, they scream blue murder.
Screw loose If someone has a screw loose, they are crazy.
Searching question A searching question goes straight to the heart of the subject matter, possibly requiring an answer with a degree of honesty that the other person finds uncomfortable.
Second wind If you overcome tiredness and find new energy and enthusiasm, you have second wind.
See the light When someone sees the light, they realise the truth.
Seen better days If something's seen better days, it has aged badly and visibly compared to when it was new. The phrase can also be used to describe people.
Sell down the river If you sell someone down the river, you betray their trust.
Sell like hot cakes If a product is selling very well, it is selling like hot cakes.
Sell your birthright for a mess of pottage If a person sells their birthright for a mess of pottage, they accept some trivial financial or other gain, but lose something much more important.'Sell your soul for a mess of pottage' is an alternative form.
Sell your soul If someone sells their soul, their betray the most precious beliefs.
Send someone to Coventry If you send someone to Coventry, you refuse to talk to them or co-operate with them.
Separate the sheep from the goats If you separate the sheep from the goats, you sort out the good from the bad.
Separate the wheat from the chaff When you separate the wheat from the chaff, you select what is useful or valuable and reject what is useless or worthless.
Set in stone If something is set in stone, it cannot be changed or altered.
Set the wheels in motion When you set the wheels in motion, you get something started.
Set your sights on If you set your sights on someone or something, it is your ambition to beat them or to achieve that goal.
Seven sheets to the wind If someone is seven sheets to the wind, they are very drunk.
Seventh heaven If you are in seventh heaven, you are extremely happy.
Shades of meaning Shades of meaning is a phrase used to describe the small, subtle differences in meaning between similar words or phrases; 'kid' and 'youth' both refer to young people, but carry differing views and ideas about young people.
Shake a leg If you shake a leg, you are out of bed and active.
Shanks's pony If you go somewhere by Shanks's pony, you walk there.
Sharp cookie Someone who isn't easily deceived or fooled is a sharp cookie.
Shifting sands If the sands are shifting, circumstances are changing.
Shilly-shally If people shilly-shally, they can't make up their minds about something and put off the decision.
Shipshape and Bristol fashion If things are shipshape and Bristol fashion, they are in perfect working order.
Shoestring If you do something on a shoestring, you try to spend the absolute minimum amount of money possible on it.
Shoot yourself in the foot If you shoot yourself in the foot, you do something that damages your ambition, career, etc.
Shooting fish in a barrel If something is like shooting fish in a barrel, it is so easy that success is guaranteed.
Short Shrift If somebody gives you short shrift, they treat you rudely and brusquely, showing no interest or sympathy.
Shot in the dark If you have a shot in the dark at something, you try something where you have little hope of success.
Shotgun marriage A shotgun marriage, or shotgun wedding, is one that is forced because of pregnancy. It is also used idiomatically for a compromise, agreement or arrangement that is forced upon groups or people by necessity.
Shrinking violet A shrinking violet is a shy person who doesn't express their views and opinions.
Sick as a dog If somebody's as sick as a dog, they throw up (=vomit) violently.
Sick as a parrot If someone's sick as a parrot about something, they are unhappy, disappointed or depressed about it.
Sick to death If you are sick to death of something, you have been exposed to so much of it that you cannot take any more.
Sight to behold If something is a sight to behold, it means that seeing it is in some way special, either spectacularly beautiful or, equally, incredibly ugly or revolting, etc.
Silly season The silly season is midsummer when Parliament is closed and nothing much is happening that is newsworthy, which reduces the press to reporting trivial and stupid stories.
Silver surfer A silver surfer is an elderly person who uses the internet.
Since time immemorial If something has happened since time immemorialL, it's been going on for such a long time that nobody can remember a time without it.
Sing from the same hymn sheet If people are singing from the same hymn sheet, they are expressing the same opinions in public.
Sitting duck A sitting duck is something or someone that is easy to criticise or target.
Six of one and half-a-dozen of the other This is an idiom used when there is little or no difference between two options.
Sixes and sevens If something is all at sixes and sevens, then there is a lot of disagreement and confusion about what should be done.
Sixty-four-thousand-dollar-question The sixty-four-thousand-dollar-question is the most important question that can be asked about something.
Skeleton in the closet If someone has a skeleton in the closet, they have a dark, shameful secret in their past that they want to remain secret.
Slap on the wrist If someone gets a slap on the wrist, they get a very minor punishment when they could have been punished more severely.
Sleep like a baby If you sleep very well, you sleep like a baby.
Sleight of hand Sleight of hand is the ability to use your hands in a clever way, like a magician performing tricks you can't see.
Slim chance A slim chance is a very small chance.
Slippery customer A person from whom it is difficult to get anything definite or fixed is a slippery customer.
Slippery slope A slippery slope is where a measure would lead to further worse measures.
Slough of despond If someone is very depressed or in despair, they're in a slough of despond.
Small beer If something is small beer, it's unimportant.
Small fry If someone is small fry, they are unimportant. The term is often used when the police arrest the less important criminals, but are unable to catch the leaders and masterminds.
Smart Alec A smart Alec is a conceited person who likes to show off how clever and knowledgeable they are.
Smell a rat If you smell a rat, you know instinctively that something is wrong or that someone is lying to you.
Smoke and mirrors An attempt to conceal something is smoke and mirrors.
Smoke like a chimney Someone who smokes very heavily smokes like a chimney.
Smoke the peace pipe If people smoke the peace pipe, they stop arguing and fighting.
Smokestack industry Heavy industries like iron and steel production, especially if they produce a lot of pollution, are smokestack industries.
Smoking gun A smoking gun is definitive proof of someone's guilt.
Smooth as a baby's bottom If something is smooth as a baby's bottom, it has a regular, flat surface.
Snake in the grass Someone who is a snake in the grass betrays you even though you have trusted them.
Snake oil salesperson A person who promotes something that doesn't work, is selling snake oil.
So on and so forth And so on and so forth mean the same as etcetera (etc.).
Sod's law Sod's law states that if something can go wrong then it will.
Soft soap someone If you soft soap someone, you flatter them.
Some other time If somebody says they'll do something some other time, they mean at some indefinite time in the future, possibly never, but they certainly don't want to feel obliged to fix a specific time or date.
Something nasty in the woodshed Something nasty in the woodshed means that someone as a dark secret or an unpleasant experience in their past.
Sound as a bell If something or someone is as sound as a bell, they are very healthy or in very good condition.
Spanner in the works If someone puts or throws a spanner in the works, they ruin a plan.In American English, 'wrench' is used instead of 'spanner'.
Speak of the devil! If you are talking about someone and they happen to walk in, you can use this idiom as a way of letting them know you were talking about them.
Spend a penny This is a euphemistic idiom meaning to go to the toilet.
Spend like a sailor Someone who spends their money wildly spends like a sailor.
Spick and span If a room is spick and span, it is very clean and tidy.
Spill the beans If you spill the beans, you reveal a secret or confess to something.
Spinning a line When someone spins you a line, they are trying to deceive you by lying.
Spinning a yarn When someone spins you a yarn, they are trying to deceive you by lying.
Spirit of the law The spirit of the law is the idea or ideas that the people who made the law wanted to have effect.
Spit blood If someone is spitting blood, they are absolutely furious.
Spitting image If a person is the spitting image of somebody, they look exactly alike.
Split hairs If people split hairs, they concentrate on tiny and unimportant details to find fault with something.
Spot on If something is spot on, it is exactly right.
Spur of the moment If you do something on the spur of the moment, you do it because you felt like it at that time, without any planning or preparation.
Sputnik moment A Sputnik moment is a point where people realise that they are threatened of challenged and have to redouble their efforts to catch up. It comes from the time when the Soviet Union launched the first satellite, the Sputnik 1, and beat the USA into space.
Square Mile The Square Mile is the City, the financial area of London.
Square peg in a round hole If somebody's in a situation, organisation, etc, where they don't fit in and feel out of place, they are a square peg in a round hole.
Stand in good stead If something will stand you in good stead, it will probably be advantageous in the future.
Stars and stripes The stars and stripes is the American flag.
Stars in your eyes Someone who dreams of being famous has stars in their eyes.
State of the art If something is state of the art, it is the most up-to-date model incorporating the latest and best technology.
Status quo Someone who wants to preserve the status quo wants a particular situation to remain unchanged.
Steal someone's thunder If someone steals your thunder, they take the credit and praise for something you did.
Steer clear of If you steer clear of something, you avoid it.
Stem the tide If people try to stem the tide, they are trying to stop something unpleasant from getting worse, usually when they don't succeed.
Step up to the plate If someone steps up to the plate, they take on or accept a challenge or a responsibility.
Stick out like a sore thumb If something sticks or stands out like a sore thumb, it is clearly and obviously different from the things that are around it.
Stick to your guns If you stick to your guns, you keep your position even though people attack or criticise you.
Stick your neck out If you stick you neck out, you take a risk because you believe in something.
Stick-in-the-mud A stick-in-the-mud is someone who doesn't like change and wants things to stay the same.
Sticking point A sticking point is a controversial issue that blocks progress in negotiations, etc, where compromise is unlikely or impossible.
Sticky wicket If you are on a sticky wicket, you are in a difficult situation.
Stiff upper lip If you keep your emotions to yourself and don't let others know how you feel when something bad happens, you keep a stiff upper lip.
Stiff-necked A stiff-necked person is rather formal and finds it hard to relax in company.
Still in the game If someone is still in the game, they may be having troubles competing, but they are not yet finished and may come back.
Stitch in time saves nine A stitch in time saves nine means that if a job needs doing it is better to do it now, because it will only get worse, like a hole in clothes that requires stitching.
Stone dead This idiom is a way of emphasing that there were absolutely no signs of life.
Stool pigeon A stool pigeon is a police informer.
Storm in a teacup If someone exaggerates a problem or makes a small problem seem far greater than it really is, then they are making a storm in a teacup.
Straw that broke the camel's back The straw that broke the camel's back is the problem that made you lose your temper or the problem that finally brought about the collapse of something.
Streets ahead If people are streets ahead of their rivals, they are a long way in front.
Stroll down memory lane If you take a stroll down memory lane, you talk about the past or revisit places that were important to you in the past.
Strong as an ox Someone who's exceedingly strong physically is said to be as strong as an ox.
Stubborn as a mule Someone who will not listen to other people's advice and won't change their way of doing things is as stubborn as a mule.
Sure as eggs is eggs These means absolutely certain, and we do say 'is' even though it is grammatically wrong.
Swansong A person's swansong is their final achievement or public appearance.
Swear like a sailor Someone who is foul-mouthed and uses bad language all the time, swears like a sailor.
Swear like a trooper Someone who is foul-mouthed and uses bad language all the time, swears like a trooper.
Sweat blood If you sweat blood, you make an extraordinary effort to achieve something.
Sweep things under the carpet If people try to ignore unpleasant things and forget about them, they sweep them under the carpet.
Swim against the tide If you swim against the tide, you try to do something that is very difficult because there is a lot of opposition to you.
Swim with the fishes If someone is swimming with the fishes, they are dead, especially if they have been murdered.'Sleep with the fishes' is an alternative form.
Swimmingly If things are going swimmingly, they are going very well.
Take a leaf out of someone's book If you take a leaf out of someone's book, you copy something they do because it will help you.
Take a straw poll If you take a straw poll, you sound a number of people out to see their opinions on an issue or topic.
Take it on the chin If you take something on the chin, something bad happens to you and you take it directly without fuss.
Take someone down a peg If someone is taken down a peg (or taken down a peg or two), they lose status in the eyes of others because of something they have done wrong or badly.
Take someone for a ride If you are taken for a ride, you are deceived by someone.
Take someone to the woodshed If someone is taken to the woodshed, they are punished for something they have done.
Take the biscuit If something takes the biscuit, it is the absolute limit.
Take the bull by its horns Taking a bull by its horns would be the most direct but also the most dangerous way to try to compete with such an animal. When we use the phrase in everyday talk, we mean that the person we are talking about tackles their problems directly and is not worried about any risks involved.
Take the rough with the smooth People say that you have to take the rough with the smooth, meaning that you have to be prepared to accept the disadvantages as well of the advantages of something.
Taken as read If something can be taken as read, it is so definite that it's not necessary to talk about it.
Talk of the town When everybody is talking about particular people and events, they are he talk of the town.
Talk out of the back of your head If someone is talking out of the back of their head, they are talking rubbish.
Talk out of your hat If someone is talking out of their hat, they're talking utter rubbish, especially if compounded with total ignorance of the subject on which they are pontifcating.
Talk shop If you talk shop, you talk about work matters, especially if you do this outside work.
Talk the hind legs off a donkey A person who is excessively or extremely talkative can talk the hind legs off a donkey.
Tall order Something that is likely to be hard to achieve or fulfil is a tall order.
Tall story A tall story is one that is untrue and unbelievable.
Tally ho! This is an exclamation used for encouragement before doing something difficult or dangerous.
Taste blood If someone has tasted blood, they have achieved something and are encouraged to think that victory is within their grasp.
Teething problems The problems that a project has when it's starting are the teething problems.
Test the waters If you test the waters, or test the water, you experiment to see how successful or acceptable something is before implementing it.
That is the way the cookie crumbles "That's the way the cookie crumbles" means that things don't always turn out the way we want.
The ball's in your court If somebody says this to you, they mean that it's up to you to decide or take the next step.
The be all and end all The phrase 'The be all and end all' means that a something is the final, or ultimate outcome or result of a situation or event.
The common weal If something is done for the common weal, it is done in the interests and for the benefit of the majority or the general public.
The grass is always greener This idiom means that what other people have or do looks preferable to our life. The complete phrase is 'The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence'.
The more the merrier The more the merrier means that the greater the quantity or the bigger the number of something, the happier the speaker will be.
The penny dropped When the penny drops, someone belatedly understands something that everyone else has long since understood.
The sands of time The sands of time is an idiom meaning that time runs out either through something reaching an end or through a person's death. It comes from the sand used in hourglasses, an ancient way of measuring time.
The short straw If you take the short straw, you lose a selection process, which means that you have to do something unpleasant.
The world and his wife If the world and his wife were somewhere, then huge numbers of people were present.
Their bark is worse than their bite If someone's bark is worse than their bite, they get angry and shout and make threats, but don't actually do anything.
There are many ways to skin a cat This is an expression meaning there are many different ways of doing the same thing.
There's no such thing as a free lunch This idiom means that you don't get things for free, so if something appears to be free, there's a catch and you'll have to pay in some way.
There's the rub The meaning of this idiom is 'that's the problem'.
Thick and fast If things are happening thick and fast, they are happening so fast they seemed to be joined together.
Thick as thieves If people are thick as thieves, they are very close friends who have no secrets from each other.
Thick-skinned If a person is thick-skinned, they are not affected by critisism.
Thin as a rake A rake is a garden tool with a long, thin, wooden handle, so someone very thin is thin as a rake.
Thin end of the wedge The thin end of the wedge is something small and seemingly unimportant that will lead to something much bigger and more serious.
Thin line If there's a thin line between things, it's hard to distinguish them- there's a thin line between love and hate.
Thin-skinned If somebody is thin-skinned, they are very sensitive to any sort of criticism.
Think the world of To hold something or someone in very high esteem. To love or admire immensely.
Third rail The third rail of something is dangerous to alter or change. Originally, the third rail is the one carrying the electricity for a train.
Those who live by the sword die by the sword This means that violent people will be treated violently themselves.
Three sheets to the wind If someone is three sheets to the wind, they are drunk.
Thrilled to bits If you are thrilled to bits, you are extremely pleased or excited about something.
Through thick and thin If someone supports you through thick and thin, they support you during good times and bad.
Throw a sickie If you pretend to be ill to take a day off work or school, you throw a sickie.
Throw down the gauntlet Throw down the gauntlet is to issue a challenge to somebody.
Throw in the towel If you throw in the towel, you admit that you are defeated or cannot do something.
Throw someone to the wolves If someone is thrown to the wolves, they are abandoned and have to face trouble without any support.
Throw the baby out with the bath-water If you get rid of useful things when discarding inessential things, you throw the baby out with the bath-water.
Throw the book at someone If you throw the book at someone, you punish them as severely as possible.
Throw your hat in the ring If someone throws their hat in the ring, they announce that they want to take part in a competition or contest.
'Toss your hat in the ring' is an alternative.
Thumb your nose at If you thumb your nose at something, you reject it or scorn it.
Thumbs down & thumbs up If something gets the thumbs up, it gets approval, while the thumbs down means disapproval.
Tie the knot When people tie the knot, they get married.
Tight ship If you run a tight ship, you control something strictly and don't allow people much freedom of action.
Tighten your belt If you have to tighten your belt, you have to economise.
Till you're blue in the face If you do something till you're blue in the face, you do it repeatedly without achieving the desired result until you're incredibly frustrated.
Tilt at windmills A person who tilts at windmills, tries to do things that will never work in practice.
Time of your life If you're having the time of your life, you are enjoying yourself very much indeed.
Time-honoured practice A time-honoured practice is a traditional way of doing something that has become almost universally accepted as the most appropriate or suitable way.
Tip of the iceberg The tip of the iceberg is the part of a problem that can be seen, with far more serious problems lying underneath.
Tipping point Small changes may have little effect until they build up to critical mass, then the next small change may suddenly change everything. this is the tipping point.
Tired and emotional This idiom is a euphemism used to mean 'drunk', especially when talking about politicians.
Tit for tat If someone responds to an insult by being rude back, it's tit for tat- repaying something negative the same way.
To a fault If something does something to a fault, they do it excessively. So someone who is generous to a fault is too generous.
To a man If a group of people does, believes, thinks, etc, something to a man, then they all do it.
To a T If something is done to a T, it is done perfectly.
To err is human, to forgive divine This idiom is used when someone has done something wrong, suggesting that they should be forgiven.
To little avail If something is to little avail, it means that, despite great efforts, something ended in failure, but taking comfort from the knowledge that nothing else could have been done to avert or avoid the result.
To the end of time To the end of time is an extravagant way of saying 'forever'.
To the ends of the earth If someone will go to the ends of the earth for something, no distance is too great for them they are so determined to get it.
Toe the line If someone toes the line, they follow and respect the rules and regulations.
Tomorrow's another day This means that things might turn out better or that there might be another opportunity in the future.
Toot you own horn If someone toot their own horn, they like to boast about their achievements.
Top dog The most important or influencial person is the top dog.
Top notch If something is top notch, it's excellent, of the highest quality or standard.
Touch wood If someone says 'Touch wood' before they do something, they are wishing for good luck.
Touch-and-go If something is touch-and-go, it is very uncertain; if someone is ill and may well die, then it is touch-and-go.
Tough cookie A tough cookie is a person who will do everthing necessary to achieve what they want.
Tough nut to crack Tread the boards When someone treads the boards, they perform on stage in a theatre.
Tread water If someone is treading water, they are making no progress.
Tried and tested If a method has been tried and tested, it is known to work or be effective because it has been successfully used long enough to be trusted.
True blue A person who is true blue is loyal and dependable, someone who can be relied on in all circumstances.
Truth will out Truth will out means that, given time, the facts of a case will emerge no matter how people might try to conceal them.
Turf war If people or organisations are fighting for control of something, it is a turf war.
Turn the other cheek If you turn the other cheek, you are humble and do not retaliate or get outwardly angry when someone offends or hurts you, in fact, you give them the opportunity to re-offend instead and compound their unpleasantness.
Turn the tables If circumstances change completely, giving an advantage to those who seemed to be losing, the the tables are turned.
Turn your nose up If someone turns their nose up at something, they reject it or look odwn on it because they don't think it is good enough for them.
Twenty-four seven Twenty-four seven or 24/7 means all the time, coming from 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Twinkling of an eye If something happens in the twinkling of an eye, it happens very quickly.
Twist someone's arm If you twist someone's arm, you put pressure on them to try to make them do what you want them to do.
Two left feet A person with two left feet can't dance.
Two-faced Someone who is two-faced will say one thing to your face and another when you're not there.
U-turn If a government changes its position radically on an issue, especially when they have promised not to do so, this is a U-turn.
Ugly duckling An ugly duckling is a child who shows little promise, but who develops later into a real talent or beauty.
Uncharted waters If you're in uncharted waters, you are in a situation that is unfamiliar to you, that you have no experience of and don't know what might happen.
Uncle Sam Uncle Sam is the government of the USA.
Under a cloud If someone is suspected of having done something wrong, they are under a cloud.
Under false colours If someone does something under false colours/colors, they pretend to be something they are not in order to deceive people so that they can succeed.
Under fire If someone is being attacked and cricised heavily, they are under fire.
Under the radar If something slips under the radar, it isn't detected or noticed.
Under the table Bribes or illegal payments are often described as money under the table.
Under the weather If you are feeling a bit ill, sad or lack energy, you are under the weather.
Under the wire If a person does something under the wire, they do it at the last possible moment.
Under your breath If you say something under your breath, you whisper or say it very quietly.
Under your nose If something happens right in front of you, especially if it is surpsising or audacious, it happens under your nose.
Unwavering loyalty Unwavering loyalty does not question or doubt the person or issue and supports them completely.
Up in the air If a matter is up in the air, no decision has been made and there is uncertainty about it.
Up sticks If you up sticks, you leave somewhere, usually permanently and without warning- he upped sticks and went to work abroad.
Up the ante If you up the ante, you increase the importance or value of something, especially where there's an element of risk as the term comes from gambling, where it means to increase the stake (the amount of money bet).
Up the creek If someone or something is up the creek, they are in real trouble.

'Up the creek without a paddle' is an alternative, and 'up shit creek (without a paddle)' is a ruder form.
Up the duff If a woman is up the duff, she's pregant.
Up the spout If something has gone up the spout, it has gone wrong or been ruined.
Up the stick If a woman is up the stick, she's pregant.
Up the wall If someone goes up the wall, they get very angry.
Up to scratch If something doesn't come up to scratch, it doesn't meet the standard required or expected.
Up to snuff If something isn't up to snuff, it doesn't meet the standard expected.
Up to speed If you bring someone up to speed, you update them on something.
Up to the neck If someone's in something up to the neck, they are very involved in it, especially when it's something wrong.
Upper crust The upper crust are the upper classes and the establishment.
Upper hand If you have the upper hand, you have the advantage.
Upset the apple cart If you upset the apple cart, you cause trouble and upset people.
Vale of tears This vale of tears is the world and the suffering that life brings.
Velvet glove This idiom is used to describe a person who appears gentle, but is determined and inflexible underneath.
Vicar of Bray A person who changes their beliefs and principles to stay popular with people above them is a Vicar of Bray
Vicious circle A vicious circle is a sequence of events that make each other worse- someone drinks because they are unhappy at work, then loses their job...

'Vicious cycle' is also used.
Virgin territory If something is virgin territory, it hasn't been explored before.
Waiting in the wings If someone is waiting in the wings, or in the wings, they are in the background, but nearby, ready to act on short notice.
Wake-up call A wake-up call is a warning of a threat or a challenge, especially when it means that people will have to change their behaviour to meet it.
Walk on eggshells If you have to walk on eggshells when with someone, you have to be very careful because they get angry or offended very easily.
Wallflower A woman politician given an unimportant government position so that the government can pretend it takes women seriously is a wallflower.
Warpath If someone is on the warpath, they are very angry about something and will do anything to get things sorted the way they want.
Warts and all If you like someone warts and all, you like them with all their faults.
Wash your hands of something If you wash your hands of something, you disassociate yourself and accept no responsibility for what will happen.
Waste not, want not If you don't waste things, you are less likely to end up lacking.
Watching paint dry If something is like watching paint dry, it is really boring.
Water off a duck's back If criticism or something similar is like water off a duck's back to somebody, they aren't affected by it in the slightest.
Water over the dam If something has happened and cannot be changed, it is water over the dam.
Water under the bridge If something belongs to the past and isn't important or troubling any more, it is water under the bridge.
Watering hole A watering hole is a pub.
Wear sackcloth and ashes If someone displays their grief or contrition publicly, they wear sackcloth and ashes.
Weather a storm If you weather a storm, you get through a crisis or hard times.
Wet behind the ears Someone who is wet behind the ears is either very young or inexperienced.
Wet blanket A wet blanket is someone who tries to spoil other people's fun.
What will be will be The expression what will be will be is used to describe the notion that fate will decide the outcome of a course of events, even if action is taken to try to alter it.
What's good for the goose is good for the gander This idiom means that the sexes should be treated the same way and not be subjected to different standards.
What's your take on that? This idiom is way of asking someone for their opinion and ideas.
When in Rome, do as the Romans This idiom means that when you are visiting a different place or culture, you should try to follow their customs and practices.
Where the rubber meets the road Where the rubber meets the road is the most important point for something, the moment of truth. An athlete can train all day, but the race is where the rubber meets the road and they'll know how good they really are.
Where there's a will, there's a way This idiom means that if people really want to do something, they will manage to find a way of doing it.
Whet your appetite If something whet your appetite, it interests you and makes you want more of it.
Which came first the chicken or the egg? This idiomatic expression is used when it is not clear who or what caused something.
While the cat's away, the mouse will play People whose behaviour is strictly controlled go over the top when the authority is not around, which is why most teenagers have parties when their parents have gone on holiday. The parents are the scary authority figures, but the cat's away and the kids are the mice partying and enjoying their freedom.
White as a sheet A bad shock can make somebody go as white as a sheet.
White elephant A white elephant is an expensive burden; something that costs far too much money to run, like the Millennium Dome in the UK.
Who wears the pants? The person who wears the pants in a relationship is the dominant person who controls things.
Who wears the trousers? The person who wears the trousers in a relationship is the dominant person who controls things.
Whole new ball game If something's a whole new ball game, it is completely new or different.
Wide berth If you give someone a wide berth, you keep yourself well away from them because they are dangerous.
Wide of the mark If something is wide of the mark, it is inaccurate or incorrect.
Will-o'-the-wisp Something that deceives by its appearance is a will-o’-the-wisp; it looks good, but turns out to be a disappointment.
Win by a nose If somebody wins by a nose, they only just beat the others.
Window dressing If something is done to pretend to be dealing with an issue or problem, rather than actually dealing with it, it is window dressing.
Winner takes all If everything goes to the winner, as in an election, the the winner takes all.
With a heavy hand If someone does something with a heavy hand, they do it in a strict way, exerting a lot of control.
With child If a woman's with child, she's pregnant.
With flying colours (colors) If you pass something with flying colours (colors), you pass easily, with a very high mark or grade.
Wither on the vine If something withers on the vine, it fails to get the intended result, doesn't come to fruition.
Wolf in sheep's clothing A wolf in sheep's clothing is something dangerous that looks quite safe and innocent.
Wood for the trees If someone can't see the wood for the trees, they get so caught up in small details that they fail to understand the bigger picture.
Word of mouth If something becomes known by word of mouth, it is because people are talking about it, not through publicity, etc.
Word of the law The word of the law means that the law is interpreted in an absolutely literal way which goes against the ideas that the lawmakers had wished to implement.
Words fail me If words fail you, you can't find the words to express what you are trying to say.
Work like a dog If you work like a dog, you work very hard.
Work your fingers to the bone If you work your fingers to the bone, you work extremely hard on something.
Work your socks off If you work your socks off, you work very hard.
World at your feet If everything is going well and the future looks full of opportunity, you have the world at your feet.
World is your oyster When the world is your oyster, you are getting everything you want from life.
Worm information If you worm information out of somebody, you persuade them to tell you something they wanted to keep from you.
Worm's eye view A worm's eye view of something is the view from below, either physically or socially.
Worse for wear If something's worse for wear, it has been used for a long time and, consequently, isn't in very good condition. A person worse for wear is usually drunk.
Worse things happen at sea This idiomatic expression is used as a way of telling someone not to worry so much about their problems.
Wouldn't touch it with a bargepole If you wouldn't touch something with a bargepole, you would not consider being involved under any circumstances.(In American English, people say they wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole)
Wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole If you wouldn't touch something with a ten-foot pole, you would not consider being involved under any circumstances.
(In British English, people say they wouldn't touch it with a bargepole)
Wrench in the works If someone puts or throws a wrench, or monkey wrench, in the works, they ruin a plan.In British English, 'spanner' is used instead of 'wrench'.
Writ large If something is writ large, it is emphasised or highlighted.
Writing on the wall If the writing's on the wall for something, it is doomed to fail.
Written all over your face If someone has done something wrong or secret, but cannot hide it in their expression, it is written all over their face.
Wrong end of the stick If someone has got the wwrong end of the stick, they have misunderstood what someone has said to them.
Wrong foot If you start something on the wrong foot, you start badly.
X factor The dangers for people in the military that civilians do not face, for which they receive payment, are known as the X factor.
X marks the spot This is used to say where something is located or hidden.
X-rated If something is x-rated, it is not suitable for children.
Yah boo sucks Yah boo & yah boo sucks can be used to show that you have no sympathy with someone.
Yellow press The yellow press is a term for the popular and sensationalist newspapers.
Yellow streak If someone has a yellow streak, they are cowardly about something.
Yellow-bellied A yellow-bellied person is a coward.
Yen If you have a yen to do something, you have a desire to do it.
Yes-man Someone who always agress with people in authority is a yes-man.
Yesterday's man or Yesterday's woman Someone, especially a politician or celebrity, whose career is over or on the decline is yesterday's man or woman.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink This idiom means you can offer something to someone, like good advice, but you cannot make them take it.
You can say that again If you want to agree strongly with what someone has said, you can say 'You can say that again' as a way of doing so.
You can't have your cake and eat it This idiom means that you can't have things both ways. For example, you can't have very low taxes and a high standard of state care.
You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear If something isn't very good to start with, you can't do much to improve it.
You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs This idiom means that in order to achieve something or make progress, there are often losers in the process.
You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours This idiom means that if you do something for me, I'll return the favour.
You what? This is a very colloquial way of expressing surprise or disbelief at something you have heard. It can also be used to ask someone to say something again.
Young blood Young people with new ideas and fresh approaches are young blood.
Young Turk A Young Turk is a young person who is rebellious and difficult to control in a company, team or organisation.
Your name is mud If someone's name is mud, then they have a bad reputation.
Zero hour The time when something important is to begin is zero hour.
Zero tolerance If the police have a zero tolerance policy, they will not overlook any crime, no matter how small or trivial.
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Old Monday, March 27, 2006
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Thumbs up Idioms and their use in sentences

A Bird In The Hand Is Worth Two In The Bush
"Dan has asked me to go to a party with him. What if my boyfriend finds out?" Reply: "Don't go. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

A Blessing In Disguise
"My car broke down again, but maybe it was a blessing in disguise; I've been wasting too much time driving around anyway."

A Chip On Your Shoulder
"What's bothering that guy?" Answer: "Nothing; he's just got a chip on the shoulder."

A Dime A Dozen
"I don't need friends like him; they are a dime a dozen."

A Drop In The Bucket
"I'd like to do something to change the world but whatever I do seems like a drop in the bucket."

A Fool And His Money Are Easily Parted
Example: "Her husband can't seem to hold onto any amount of money; he either spends it or loses it. A fool and his money are easily parted."

A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned
"I'm going to give you $20 but I want you to put it in the bank; a penny saved is a penny earned!"

A Piece Of Cake
"Do you think you will win your tennis match today?" Answer: "It will be a piece of cake."

A Shot In The Dark
"That was such a difficult question! How did you get it right?" Reply: "I just took a shot in the dark."

A Slap On The Wrist
"He should be in jail for what he did, but he got off with just a slap on the wrist."

A Slip Of The Tongue
"Be careful talking to the police tomorrow; one slip of the tongue could get us into big trouble."

A Taste Of Your Own Medicine
"It looks like she got a taste of her own medicine."

A Toss-Up
"Do you think they'll make it one time?" Answer: "I really don't know. It's a toss-up."

A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing
"Don't trust the salespeople at that store; they are all wolves in sheep's clothing!"

About Face
"Do an about face, get back in that bathroom, and brush your teeth!"

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder
"The time we spend apart has been good for us; absence makes the heart grow fonder."

Actions Speak Louder Than Words
"Don't tell me how to do this; show me! Actions speak louder than words."

Add Fuel To The Fire
"I would like to do something to help, but I don't want to add fuel to the fire."

Against The Clock
"We worked against the clock all day to get this report done by 5PM."

Against The Grain
"I jog at this track everyday and there is always that one guy who has to go against the grain and run in the opposite direction."

All Bark And No Bite
"The new manager threatened to fire me but I know he won't do it; he is all bark and no bite."

All Greek
"Did you understand what he just said?" Reply: "Nope. It was all Greek to me."

All In The Same Boat
"We can't fight against each other; we need to work together. We're all in the same boat!"

All That Glitters Is Not Gold
"Be careful when shopping for your new car; all that glitters is not gold!"

All Thumbs
"Hey! You are pouring my coffee on the table!" Reply: "Oh, I'm so sorry! I have been all thumbs today."

An Arm And A Leg
"Be careful with that watch; it cost me an arm and a leg."

An Axe To Grind
"I have an axe to grind with you." Answer: "Oh no; what did I do wrong?"

Arm In Arm
"What a nice afternoon. We walked arm in arm along the beach for hours."

Around The Block
"You kids are too young to fall in love: Wait until you have been around the block a time or two."

As Blind As A Bat
"Without his glasses, my father is as blind as a bat."

As High As A Kite
"The ball got stuck up there on the roof. It's as high as a kite."

As Light As A Feather
"Wow, you lift that box so easily!" Reply: "Oh, come on. It is as light as a feather."

At The Drop Of A Hat
"Would you travel around the world if you had the money?" Answer: "At the drop of a hat."

At Wit's End
"We have been at wit's end trying to figure out how we are going to pay our taxes."

Back To The Drawing Board
"It looks like my plan to kill the weeds in the garden has failed. Back to the drawing board."

Barking Up The Wrong Tree
"I have been trying to solve this math problem for 30 minutes but I think I've been barking up the wrong tree."

Beat A Dead Horse
"There's no use in beating a dead horse."

Beating Around The Bush
"If you want to ask me, just ask; don't beat around the bush."

Bend Over Backwards
"We bent over backwards to help him, and he never even thanked us!"

Better Late Than Never
"Sorry I was late for the meeting today; I got stuck in traffic." Answer: "That's okay; better late than never."

Between A Rock And A Hard Place
"I'd like to help you but I am stuck between a rock and a hard place."

Birds Of A Feather Flock Together
"Look; the volleyball players are eating at the same table together, as always." Answer: "Birds of a feather flock together."

Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
"I thought I could finish this report within one month, but it looks like I have bitten off more than I can chew."

Bite Your Tongue
"Whenever that professor says something I don't like, I have to bite my tongue."

Blood Is Thicker Than Water
"When my best friend and my brother got in a fight I had to help my brother; blood is thicker than water."

Break Down
"Did your car break down again?"

Break In
"They broke in to my apartment when I was gone, and they took everything!"

Break The Tie
"Whoever wins in Florida will have enough votes to break the tie."

Burn Your Bridges
"I wish you hadn't been rude to that man just now; he is very important in this town and you shouldn't go around burning bridges."

Burning The Candle At Both Ends
"Ever since this new project started I have been burning the candle at both ends. I can't take much more of it."

Burning The Midnight Oil
"Our son has been working hard preparing for his final exams!" Answer: "Yes, he's been up each night burning the midnight oil."

Call It Off
"Tonight's game was called off because of the rain."

Can't Cut The Mustard
"Bob dropped out of medical school; he couldn't cut the mustard."

Cold Turkey
"I want to quit drinking right now. As of this moment, I am going cold turkey."

Come Hell Or High Water
"Will you be at the family reunion next year?" Answer: "Yes- we'll be there, come hell or high water!"

Cross Your Fingers
"Let's cross our fingers and hope for the best!"

Cry Over Spilt Milk
"Let's not go crying over spilt milk."

Cry Wolf
"That kid on the other team just fell down; it looks like he might be hurt!" Answer: "He's not hurt; he's just crying wolf."

Curiosity Killed The Cat
"Hey, I wonder what's down that street; it looks awfully dark and creepy." Answer: "Let's not try to find out. Curiosity killed the cat."

Dead Heat
"It looks like were going to have to find another way to decide a winner. That one was a dead heat."

"I have been in this business for twenty years. It's dog-eat-dog; the competition is always trying to steal your customers."

Don't Count Your Chickens Until They're Hatched
"Next Friday I will be able to pay you back that money I owe you." Answer: "I won't be counting my chickens..."

Don't Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth
"Don't look a gift horse in the mouth! When you buy your own beers you can decide what brand you want."

Don't Put All Your Eggs In One Basket
"The best way to gamble is to only bet small amounts of money and never put all your eggs in one basket."

Down To The Wire
"It looks like this race is going to come right down to the wire!"

Drastic Times Call For Drastic Measures
"Sales have been slow and we had to let go three of our employees; drastic times call for drastic measures."

Dry Spell
"Sam is a great salesman, though lately he's been having a bit of a dry spell."

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining
"I found a new job after all and I like this one much better than the last!" Answer: "You see, every cloud has a silver lining."

Everything But The Kitchen Sink
"Whenever we go camping my wife wants to bring everything but the kitchen sink!"

Fair And Fair Alike
"Michael stayed home to take care of your sister last night, so tonight it is your turn. Fair and fair alike."

Finding Your Feet
"Don't worry about it. We will help you while you are finding your feet."

Fixed In Your Ways
"Sometimes it is hard to accept that your parents are fixed in their ways."

Flash In The Pan
"What a great first year he had, but after that... nothing!" Answer: "Just another flash in the pan."

From Rags To Riches
"My uncle is a real rags to riches story."

Get Over It
"I was very sick yesterday, but I got over it quickly."

Get Up On The Wrong Side Of The Bed
"Don't start yelling at me just because you got up on the wrong side of the bed."

Give Him The Slip
"My brother will be at the movie tonight. Afterwards, let's give him the slip and go to a party."

Go For Broke
"The way to be successful is to decide exactly what you want, then go for broke."

Great Minds Think Alike
"I have decided that this summer I am going to learn how to scuba dive." Answer: "Me too! I have already paid for the course. Great minds think alike!"

Haste Makes Waste
"You should always take your time when doing your taxes and check your numbers very carefully; haste makes waste."

Have No Idea
"I can't find my keys. I have no idea where I put them."

He Lost His Head
"Okay- I'll tell you what happened. But don't lose your head."

Head Over Heels
"I have been head over heels about my girlfriend since the day I met her."

Icing On The Cake
"I've been accepted by the university, and they've offered me a position on the basketball team!" Answer: "That's wonderful! Icing on the cake."

Idle Hands Are The Devil's Tools
"It makes me nervous to see those kids outside just standing around; idle hands are the devils tools!"

If It's Not One Thing, It's Another
"First the car broke down, and now I can't find my keys! If it's not one thing, it's another!"

In And Out
"I know this city in and out."

In Over Your Head
"Go ahead and lead the meeting today; I'll help you out if you get in over your head."

In The Dark
"Did you know that today was her birthday?" Answer: "No, I was in the dark."

In The Doghouse
"You kids will be in the doghouse with your mother after that mess you made in her garden!"

In The Heat Of The Moment
"Sorry about what I said; I got caught up in the heat of the moment."

It Takes Two To Tango
"Her husband is awful; they fight all the time." Answer: "It takes two to tango."

It's A Small World
"Hey, it's funny seeing you here." Reply: "It's a small world."

Its Anyone's Call
"Who do you think will win this election?" Answer: "Its anyone's call."

Keep An Eye On Him
"I have to run to the bathroom. Can you keep an eye on my suitcase while I am gone?"

Labor Of Love
"Taking care of this dog is a labor of love."

Lend Me Your Ear
"Friends, Romans, countrymen; lend me your ear."

Let Bygones Be Bygones
"You and I have had our disagreements; let's let bygones be bygones."

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
"I wanted to ask her what she thought of her ex-husband, but I figured it was better to let sleeping dogs lie."

Let The Cat Out Of The Bag
"Bob didn't tell anyone that he was sick, but his wife let the cat out of the bag."

Mad As A Hatter
"Everybody in my family knew that our uncle was as mad as a hatter."

Method To My Madness
"Give me a moment to explain; there is method to my madness."

Neck And Neck
"They're coming around the final corner. They're neck and neck!"

Neither A Borrower, Nor A Lender Be
"Could you lend me twenty dollars?" Answer: "Sorry, neither a borrower nor a lender be."

Never Bite The Hand That Feeds You
"We have been your best customers for years. How could you suddenly treat us so rudely? You should never bite the hand that feeds you."

Nose Out Of Joint
"We were only joking; don't get your nose out of joint."

Not A Chance
"Do you think you will be able to finish your report by five o'clock today?" Answer: "Not a chance. I'll be busy in meetings all day."

Off Limits
"Guns are off limits within New York City."

Off On The Wrong Foot
"Let's try to start on time tomorrow and get off on the right foot."

Off The Hook
"You're lucky; it turns out that Dad never heard you come in late last night." Answer: "Great, that means I'm off the hook!"

On Pins And Needles
"Jean was on pins and needles the whole time her father was in the hospital."

On The Fence
"Has he decided whether he will take the job yet?" Answer: "No, he's still on the fence."

On The Same Page
"Before we make any decisions today, I'd like to make sure that everyone is on the same page."

On Top Of The World
"What a great time we had that night; we were on top of the world!"

On Your Last Leg
"I would be glad to sell you my car, but I must tell you that it is on its last leg."

On Your Mind
"You have been on my mind all day."

One For The Road
"Bartender- I'll have one more whiskey for the road."

Out And About
"Where have you been all day?" Answer: "Oh, out and about."

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
"I meant to read that book, but as soon as I put it down, I forgot about it." Answer: "Out of sight, out of mind."

Out Of The Blue
"Why did she do that?" Answer: "I have no idea. It was completely out of the blue."

Out Of The Frying Pan And Into The Fire
"I didn't like that job because I was working too hard. Yet in this new job I work even harder!" Answer: "Out of the frying pan and into the fire."

Out Of The Woods
"Joe was sick two weeks ago and we were very worried, but now it looks like he is out of the woods."

Out Of Your Element
"He is a great tennis player on the hard courts, but he is out of his element on grass."

Out On A Limb
"I want this project to succeed just as much as you do, but I am not willing to go out on a limb."

Out On The Town
"Do you want to join us tonight? We're going out on the town."

Over My Dead Body
"All of my friends are going out to the lake tonight and I'm going too!" Answer: "Over my dead body you are!"

Par For The Course
"I get sick every time I travel." Answer: "That's just par for the course."

Penny-Wise, Pound-Foolish
"We've worked so hard to save money that if we took a vacation now it would be penny-wise, pound-foolish."

People Who Live In Glass Houses Should Not Throw Stones
"Look at what time it is... you are late again!" Answer: "Hey, how often are you not on time? People who live in glass houses should not throw stones."

Practice Makes Perfect
"You see how quickly you are getting better at the piano! Practice makes perfect!"

Practice What You Preach
"Good managers always lead by example and practice what they preach."

Preaching To The Choir
"You don't need to tell me this project is important; you're preaching to the choir."

Protest Too Much
"Do you think he is telling the truth?" Answer: "I think he protests too much."

Pulling Your Leg
"I want to ask you a question and I would like an honest answer; no pulling my leg."

Put Your Best Foot Forward
"I want you to get out on that field and put your best foot forward!"

Put Your Foot In Your Mouth
"Let's all be very careful what we say at the meeting tomorrow. I don't want anyone putting their foot in their mouth."

Raise Cain
"Have you two boys been out raising cain again?"

Rock The Boat
"Everybody wants to go except for you. Why do you have to rock the boat?"

Roll Out The Red Carpet
"We are all so excited about your coming home that we're going to roll out the red carpet."

Rome Was Not Built In One Day
"It is taking me a long time to write this computer program." Answer: "Rome was not built in one day."

Round About
"Well, I know how to get there in a round about way, but maybe we should check the map."

Rub Salt In An Old Wound
"Oh please, let's not rub salt in old wounds!"

Second Nature
"It has always been second nature for me to draw with both hands."

Shake A Leg
"They are waiting outside in the car; let's shake a leg!"

Sick As A Dog
"I heard you were uncomfortable yesterday." Answer: "Uncomfortable? I was as sick as a dog!"

Sink Or Swim
"When we interview new teachers, we just put them in with the students and see how they do. It's sink or swim."

Six Of One, A Half-Dozen Of The Other
Example: "I say she's a stewardess. She says she's a flight attendant. It's six of one, a half-dozen of the other."

Skeletons In The Closet
"I had only known her for one week. How could I know what skeletons she had in her closet?"

Split Down The Middle
"The election is split down the middle with no clear winner at the moment."

Start From Scratch
"How are you going to build your business?" Answer: "Just like everyone else does: starting from scratch."

The Apple Of Your Eye
"Even when they were young, she was always the apple of his eye."

The Ball Is In Your Court
"My uncle helped me to get an interview at his company, now the ball is in my court."

The Best Of Both Worlds
"My wife and I bought one house in Paris and one in New York; it gives us the best of both worlds."

The Bigger They Are The Harder They Fall
"Are you worried that he might be too strong?" Answer: "No I'm not. He is big, but the bigger they are, the harder they fall."

The Devil Is In The Details
"I can sketch a basic outline of the plan for you and it may look very simple, but the devil is in the details."

The Early Bird Catches The Worm
"I always arrive at work 30 minutes early; the early bird catches the worm!"

The Ends Justify The Means
"I agree with your goal, but the ends do not justify the means."

The Jury Is Out
"Its hard to say if what we did was the right thing. The jury is still out on it."

The Pot Calling The Kettle Black
"Here comes the guy who is always late for work." Answer: "Aren't you the pot calling the kettle black?"

The Pros And Cons
"I've considered the pros and cons and I've decided: it is going to be expensive, but I still want to go to college."

The Sky Is The Limit
"After I graduate from business school, the sky's the limit!"

The Straw That Broke The Camel's Back
"You've been rude to me all day, and I've had it. That's the last straw!"

The Writing On The Wall
"Can't you see the writing on the wall?"

Third Wheel
"You two go on ahead without me. I don't want to be the third wheel."

Tie The Knot
"Did you hear about Dan and Jenny? They finally decided to tie the knot!"

To Err Is Human, To Forgive Divine
"I will never forgive my mother for what she has done!" Answer: "Don't be angry at her. To err is human, to forgive divine."

Tooth And Nail
"That was a tough match; they fought us tooth and nail!"

Truer Words Were Never Spoken
"The earlier I get up, the better the day I have." Answer:" Truer words were never spoken."

Turn Over A New Leaf
"I'm turning over a new leaf; I've decided to quit smoking."

Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right
"That boy pushed me yesterday and I am going to get him back today!" Answer: "No you are not! Two wrongs do not make a right."

Two's Company; Three's a Crowd
"Why did you have to bring your sister? Two's company; three's a crowd!"

Under The Gun
"Everyone at the office has been working under the gun since the new manager arrived."

Under The Weather
"What's wrong?" Answer: "I'm a bit under the weather."

Up Against
"We have been up against stronger opponents in the past."

Up For Grabs
"Quick- that table is up for grabs; let's get it before someone else does."

Variety Is The Spice Of Life
Example: "We were originally planning to go to Mexico on our vacation this year - like we did last year - but we decided to go to Egypt instead. Variety is the spice of life!"

Water Under The Bridge
"Aren't you still angry about what he said?" Answer: "No, that was a long time ago. It's all water under the bridge."

Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve
"My brother always lets you know how he feels; he wears his heart on his sleeve."

What They Don't Know Won't Hurt Them
"Don't tell your father what happened; what he doesn't know won't hurt him."

When In Rome, Do As The Romans Do
"Are you sure we should eat this with our hands?" Answer: "Why not? All of these people are eating it that way. When in Rome, do as the Romans do!"

When It Rains, It Pours
"Sometimes we have no customers for two or three hours then suddenly we get 20 people all at once; when it rains, it pours!"

When Pigs Fly
"Would you ever take her on a date?" Answer: "Sure- when pigs fly!"

Wine And Dine
"That man is really is really crazy about my sister. He has been wining and dining her all month."

With Your Back Up Against The Wall
"I'm sorry I can't help you; I've got my back up against the wall."

Without A Doubt
"Are you going to watch the game tomorrow?" Answer: "Without a doubt!"

Word Of Mouth
"Where did you hear about that?" Answer: "Just word of mouth."

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover
"He dresses in plain clothing and drives an ordinary car. Who would know he is the richest man in town? You can't judge a book by its cover!"

Your Guess Is As Good As Mine
"Excuse me, what time does the bus arrive?" Answer: "Your guess is as good as mine; I almost never take the bus."

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Old Sunday, May 14, 2006
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hello...when ever i visit this css forum..i become more afraid...i had crammed 1000 idioms and now u suggest few more...yes abt 2000 more
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Arrow Idioms


1. Above all (mainly, especially)
I like all my friends, but above all, Sahira.

2. Above board (honest, open)
His business with others is above board.

3. Add fuel to fire (increase anger or feeling).
He abused him, and to add fuel to fire, he beat him.

4. After all (in spite of everything; it must be remembered).
She studied little, but passed after all.

5. After one’s own heart (to like someone because of common interests).
Sumaira is after my own heart, we both like Eastern music.

6. All and sundry (all things or people; everybody)
The rich man invited all and study to the party.

7. All in all (on the whole in the controlling position)
We have our joys and problems, all in all we are happy.
The officer is all in all in that department, he can do anything he like.

8. Alpha and Omega (the begging and the end)
Good work is really the Alpha and Omega of life.

9. Apple of discord (any cause of dispute)
They both want to have the house, it is an apple of discord between them.

10. Apple of one’s eyes (somebody or something dearly loved).
Aziz is apple of his father’s eyes.

11. Apple pie order (perfect order)
This place is an apple pie order, you can find all you want.

12. As cool as a cucumber (unexcited).
He is as cool as a cucumber in all conditions.

13. At large (free, at liberty)

The prisoners were freed, they are at large.

14. At length (finally).
We waited, at length the driver came and the bus started.

15. At sixes and sevens (in confusion).
His books were in sixes and sevens, all in disorder.

16. At the conclusion (end of).
At the conclusion of the match, everyone left for home.
17. At the eleventh hour (at the latest possible time).
At the eleventh hour, the medicine reached him, and he was saved.

18. At times (occasionally).
He is good to me, only at times he is angry.

19. Bag and baggage (with all one has).
The owner of the house asked him to leave the house bag and baggage.

20. Beat about the bush (talk in an inexact way about a subject).
Do not beat about the bush, come to the point.

21. Because of (as a result of).
Because of the heavy rains trains are running late.

22. Bed of roses (happy comfortable condition).
An important politician’s work is not a bed of roses as he faces difficulties all the time.

23. Behind the scenes (in secret).
We don’t know what is happening behind the scenes.

24. Bell the cat (do something dangerous in order to save others).
Everyone wants to have the officers removed, but who will bell the cat?

25. Bird’s eye-view (a general view).
This book gives a bird’s eye-view of history.

26. Black sheep (a person showing bad behaviour).
The Government will dismiss all the black sheep in this office.

27. Bone of contention (cause of quarrel).
Property is a bone of contention between them.

28. Break the ice (start a talk when all others are silent).
All the people were silent, to break the ice I started talking about the weather.

29. Break the news (be the first to inform of something).
I cannot break the news of his failure to his mother

30. Bring about (cause of happen).
The new government will bring about important political changes.

31. Burn one’s boats or bridges (do something making it impossible to change one’s plans).
Let us decide to leave this job and burn our boats.

32. Burning question (a very important, urgent problem).
Kashmir is a burning question in this part of the world.
33. Burn the midnight oil (work or study till late at night).
Their examination is near, that is why they burn the midnight oil.

34. By all means (certainly; using every possible way).
Iqbal was by all means a great.

35. By and large (in general).
By and large honest people are liked every where.

36. By fits and starts (not regularly).
They study by fits and starts, and so may fail.

37. By hook or by crook (by any means possible).
He wants to get the job by hook or by crook.

38. By leaps and bounds (rapidly).
The Chinese people have progressed by leaps and bounds.

39. Call a spade a spade (describe facts clearly, without hiding anything).
Call a spade a spade, tell the truth without fear.

40. Call off (decide to stop something).

The workers will soon call off their strike.

41. Call one names (abuse or insult).
Good student should not call anyone names.

42. Catch red-handed (catch in the act of doing something wrong).
See, he is stealing your money, catch him red-handed.

43. Child’s play (something very easily done).
It is not a child’s play to write a book.

44. Cock and bull story (baseless and silly story).
Whatever he says is all wrong, only a cock and bull story.

45. Cold war (open enmity between countries without fighting).
There is still cold war between America and Russia.

46. Come or get to the point (speak about the most important part of the subject).
Now come to the point and do not talk about other matters.

47. Come out (become known).
How did it come out that the enemy was planning to attack us?

48. Come over (come from a distance; change sides or opinion).
She will come over to Lahore from Karachi to stay with her sister.
Some of our enemies may come over to our side.

49. Come round or come around (agree).
Our friend will come round to our way of thinking after some talk.

50. Come to an end (finish).
The match may come to an end late in the afternoon.

51. Crocodile’s tears (tears or sorrow that in insincere).
She is not really sad at your failure, her sorrow is only crocodile’s tears.

52. Cry for moon (demand something impossible).
You want to be rich in a year, you only cry for the moon.

53. Cry over spilt milk (cry over a loss that cannot be repaired).
Do not cry over spilt milk, you cannot get back your lost property.

54. Day after day or day in and day out (continuously).
Day after day (day in and day out) they visit this office with their papers.

55. Do away with (abolish, finish).
We should do away with all our useless laws.

56. Due to (caused).
Good health is due to good food and exercise.

57. Eat one’s words (take back what one has said).
She foolishly spoke against her teacher, later she had to eat her words.

58. End up in smoke (end in nothing).
All their plans may end up in smoke.

59. Fall out (quarrel).
The two sisters may fall out with each other over the division of their father’s property.

60. Fish out of water (uncomfortable in a strange place).
He is new here, and so feels like a fish out of water.

61. Flesh and blood (human nature with its weakness).
It is just flesh and blood to desire money and property.
62. For a rainy day (for a time when money may be needed).
He saves something from his salary each month for a rainy day.

63. For good (for ever).
She left the city for good.

64. For the purpose of (with the intention).
She studied Arabic for the purpose of visiting the Arab countries.

65. From hand to mouth (not saving any money, living with difficulty).
They live from hand to mouth because their income is low.

66. Get in or into hot water (get into trouble).
If you trouble your teacher thus, you will get into hot water.

67. Get rid of (free oneself from something unwanted).
I want to get rid of my useless friends.

68. Get through (adv., to reach someone, especially by telephone…..)
She rang me up several times, but couldn’t get through.

69. Get through (prep come successfully to the end of; finish).
You need to work hard to get through the examination.
I got through the work in the evening.

70. Get up (rise from bed in the morning; leave one’s bed after illness).
I get up early,and go to bed early too.

71. Get up to (reach).

Did you get up to the people walking far ahead of you along the road? (or did you catch up with ……)

72. Give and take (co-operate with each other).
There should be give and take between the people living in a house if they want to live happily.

73. Give way (move back or away).
The crowd had to give way before the police.

74. Give way to (make concession).
We cannot give way to such wrong demands.

75. Go with (to match).
Let us buy some chairs that go with the colour of the walls.

76. Golden age (period of time when art and literature were at their best).
Who can forget our golden age when Haroon Rashid ruled?

77. Golden opportunity (the best chance).
You are getting a job in Dubai, it is a golden opportunity.

78. Good-for-nothing (worthless; worthless person).
He cannot do anything for you, he is good-for-nothing.
He is a good-for-nothing fellow (a useless person).

79. Hard nut to crack (a problem difficult to solve).
To control prices is a hard nut to crack.

80. Heart and soul (completely)
She is in love with him, heart and soul.

81. Here and there (in various places).
Here and there I found flowers and trees in the park.

82. Hold one’s tongue (keep silent, check oneself from speaking).
Hold your tongue when you are in the mosque.

83. Hope against hope (hoping when there is little chance of success).
To think that we can pass without study is to hope against hope.

84. In a fix (not able to think or decide).
He is in a fix, and so cannot decide what to do now.

85. In a nutshell (in the fewest words).
Tell in a nutshell the results of the Second World War.

86. In black and white (in writing).
I have all their plans in black and white.

87. In consequence of (as the result of ).
In consequence of the heavy rains, the rivers are in flood.

88. In short (in brief).
She is good, she is able, she is beautiful, in short she is perfect.

89. In the bad books of (not to be in favour with).
He often fails, he is in the bad books of his teachers.

90. In the good books of (be in favour with).
He often passes, he is in the good books of his teachers.

91. In the long run (in the end).
In the long run, we shall succeed.
92. In time for (about to get).

Ali is in time for the high post.( or will get it soon).

93. In view of (considering).
In view of the good results of our college, the government has given special scholarship to its students.

94. Ins and outs (all the details).
I know all the ins and outs of this scheme, I understand it well.

95. Jack of all trades (one who can do many different kind of work but none so well).
A jack of all trades is master of none.

96. Keep at arm’s length (keep at a distance).
Keep idle people at arm’s length, they waste your time.

97. Keep on (continue to do it).
Keep on trying until you pass the examination well.

98. Keep pace with (go forward together with).
Always keep pace with the good students in class.

99. Kith and kin (friends and relatives).
He left his kith and kin and went to Germany.

100. Learn by heart (commit to memory).
Learn this poem by heart.

101. Leave in the lurch (leave someone in difficulties).
As your true friend, I cannot leave you in the lurch.

102. Let down (fail to help).
He is your best friend, he will never let you down.

103. Lion’s share (the greatest part).
Ali took the lion’s share of the property.

104. Look down upon (consider inferior)
We should not look down upon our poor friends.

105. Look forward to (expect with hope).
We look forward to meeting them as they are arriving soon.

106. Look into (investigate; examine).
The government should look into the records of corrupt officers.

107. Make both ends meet (cover one’s expenses with one’s income).
They are poor and can hardly make both ends meet.

108. Make fun of (ridicule).
You are wearing a strange hat, the boys will make fun of you.

109. More or less (nearly).
They have more or less built the house.

110. Narrow escape (an escape by a slight margins).
He missed hitting the bus by a few inches, for him it was a narrow escape (OR ….. it was a close call or as close shave).

111. Nip in the bud (finish at the start).
The Principal will try to nip the strike in the bud. We should nip the evil of smoking in the bud.

112. Null and void (without force or effect in law).
Those rules are null and void now.

113. Off and on (from time to time, occasionally).
We go to the cinema off and on.

114. On Account of (because of, owing to, on the score of).
We won the battle on account of God’s help and our effort.

115. On behalf of (for him or her).
I Shall sign these letters on behalf of my father.

116. On occasion (from time to time, Occasionally).
It is only on accasion that we travel to other cities.

117. On the air (on the radio or T.V).
Tonight the education minister will be on demand.

118. On the eve of (time just before any thing)
They met their old friends on the eve of their departure for Algeria.

119. On the whole (generally).
It has some weakpoints, but on the whole the film is good.

120. On top of (in addition to).
He comes late to class, and on top of it, he comes without his books.

121. Once in the blue moon (rarely or never).
We see a film once in a blue moon.

122. Out of date of out of fashion (not in fashion or style).
Most air force planes become out of date in jut a few years.

123. Out of the question (impossible).
For me, it is out of the question to help my friend’s enemies.

124. Out-an-out (complete, through).
Ours is an out-and-out success. It is an out-and-out insult.

125. Over and above (besides, in addition to).
She sold her lands over and above her other property.

126. Part and parcel (most important part of).
Religion is a part and parcel of our life.

127. Pass away (die).
My dear friend, Azmar, passed away this year.

128. Play with fire (take great risks).
Understand that to speak against him means to play with fire.

129. Put down (write something down; defeat or control).
Please put down your address on this piece of paper.
The government can easily put down the other political parties.

130. Read between the lines (find a meaning that is not clear).
He writes he is ill, I have read between the lines that he does not want to work.

131. Red carpet (special ceremonial welcome to guest).
We gave the Saudi king a red-carpet treatment. We rolled out the red carpet when the king visited us..

132. Red letter day (a very happy day).

The 14th August is a red letter day for all of us.

133. Red-handed (in the act of doing something wrong).
They caught him red-handed when he was stealing their money.

134. Run down (say unkind words about).
Do not run down your friends before others.

135. Safe and sound (unharmed).

The passengers came out of the plane safe and sound after the force landing.
136. Send for (have one called).
Please send for the doctor as mother is ill. I have sent for the carpenter.

137. Sick of (tired of).
They are really sick of her daily visits to her.

138. So far as (as far as ).
So far as I know him, he is honest.

139. Stand by (support, side with).
As a true friend, he will always stand by you.

140. Take a leap into the dark (do something the result of which cannot be
Do not go to any other country without getting a job, do not take a leap into the dark.

141. Take after (look and behave like an older relative).
Sharma takes after her mother, looks like her in many ways.

142. Take for (consider; mistake for).
You speak Arabic so well, they may take you for an Arab.

143. Take off (remove the clothes).
We take off our clothes before taking a bath.

144. Take off (rise into the air).
The plane take off early in the morning.

145. Take over (take control of).
Mr. Kamal will take overs as the new Principal.

146. Take to task (speak harshly to someone for a mistake, scold).
The officer will take him to task for his absence from duty.

147. Thanks to (as the result of).
Thanks to the medicine, feel very well now.

148. That is why (for this reason).
We arrived late, that is why we could not attend the class.

149. Through thick and thin (under any kind of conditions).
He will be on your side through thick and thin.

150. Throw (or shed) light on (make clear, explain).
Please throw light on the political conditions of your country.
151. Time and tide (time and chance).
Time and tide wait for none.

152. To and fro (from side to side).
They walked to and fro, without knowing what to do.

153. Turn a deaf ear (refuse to listen).
He is unkind, he may turn a deaf ear to your request.

154. Turn down (not to accept).
He may turn down your request.

155. Turn out (happen to be in the end).
He is sincere, he will turn out to be your great helper.

156. Turn over a new leaf (begin different way of life).

Let us turn over a new leaf and begin living our life in a better way.

157. Up to date (modern, latest).
They are trying to bring their book up to date. (this dictionary is up-to-date).

158. Up to the mark (equal to the required standard).
His new book is surely up to the mark.

159. Ups and downs (good and bad periods).
Life has its ups and downs for everyone.

160. Wear and tear (damage done by use).
It is an old bus, you can see the wear and tear on it.

161. Wet blanket (person who prevents others from enjoying themselves).
He is a wet blanket to us all as he always says that we might fail.

162. White-elephant (costly or troublesome possession).
To us this car is just a white elephant.

163. Wild goose chase (foolishly useless activity).
His search for the lost bicycle is only a wild goose chase.

164. With a view to (with the intention of).
We went to the ground with a view to seeing the match.

165. With open arms (very gladly).
We welcomed our hockey team with open arms.

["Satisfaction is death of Struggle"]
[Naseer Ahmed Chandio]
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Smile idioms

ace: make an "A" on a test, homework assignment, project, etc.

"Somebody said you aced the test, Dave. That's great!"

all right (1): expression of reluctant agreement.

A: "Come to the party with me. Please!"
B: "Oh, all right. I don't want to, but I will."

all right (2): fair; not particularly good.

A: "How's your chemistry class?"
B: "It's all right, I guess, but it's not the best class I've ever had."

all right (3): unharmed; in satisfactory condition.

A: "You don't look normal. Are you all right?"
B: "Yes, but I have a headache."

and then some: and much more besides.

A: "I'd guess your new computer cost about $2,000. "
B: "It cost that much and then some because I also bought extra RAM and VRAM."

antsy: restless; impatient and tired of waiting.

"I hope Katy calls soon. Just sitting around and waiting is making me antsy."

as easy as pie: very easy.

"I thought you said this was a difficult problem. It isn't. In fact, it's as easy as pie."

at the eleventh hour: at the last minute; almost too late.

"Yes, I got the work done in time. I finished it at the eleventh hour, but I wasn't late.


bad-mouth: say unkind, unflattering, embarrassing (and probably untrue) things about someone.

A: "I don't believe what Bob said. Why is he bad-mouthing me?"
B: "He's probably jealous of your success."

be a piece of cake: be very easy.

A: "Bob said the test was difficult, but I thought it was a piece of cake.""

be all ears: be eager to hear what someone has to say.

A: "I just got an e-mail message from our old friend Sally."
B: "Tell me what she said. I'm all ears!"

be broke: be without money.

"No, I can't lend you ten dollars. I'm completely broke until payday."

be fed up with (with someone or something): be out of patience (with someone or something);
be very tired of someone or something.

"Bill, you're too careless with your work. I'm fed up with
apologizing for your mistakes!"

be in and out: be at and away from a place during a particular time.

"Could we postpone our meeting until tomorrow? I expect to
be in and out of the office most of the day today."

be on the go: be very busy (going from one thing or project to another).

"I'm really tired. I've been on the go all week long."

be on the road: be traveling.

"You won't be able to contact me tomorrow because I'll be on the road."

be over: be finished; end.

"I can't see you until around 4 o'clock. My meetings won't be over until then."

be up and running: (for a technological process) be operational; be ready to use .

"Dave's ESL Cafe on the Web has been up and running since December 1995."

be used to (+Ving/noun): be accustomed to; not uncomfortable with.

"It won't be hard to get up at 50 AM. I'm used to getting up early."

beat: exhausted; very tired (adj.).

"This has been a long day. I'm beat!"

beat around the bush: evade an issue; avoid giving a direct answer.

"Quit beating around the bush! If you don't want to go with me, just tell me!"

beat one's brains out: try very hard to understand or do something.

"Can you help me with this problem? I've been beating my brains out with it,
but I just can't solve it."

Beats me: I have no idea.

A: "What time's the party?"
B: "Beats me!"

before long: soon.

A: "I'm really tired of working."
B: "Just be patient. The weekend will be here before long."

bent out of shape: needlessly worried about something.

"I know you're worried about your job interview, but don't get bent out of shape.
You'll do just fine."

bite off more than one can chew: take responsibility for more than one can manage.

"I'm really behind with my project. Can you help me? I'm afraid I
bit off more than I could chew!"

blabbermouth: a very talkative person--especially one who says things that should be kept secret.

"Don't say anything to Bob unless you want the whole office to know.
Bob's quite a blabbermouth."

blow one's top: become extremely angry.

A: "Was your father upset when you came home at 3 AM?"
B: "He was more than upset. He blew his top!"

boom box: portable cassette/CD player.

"Don't forget to bring your boom box to the picnic!"

the bottom line: the most essential information.

"The discussion lasted many hours. The bottom line was that
the XYZ Company isn't for sale."

Break a leg!: Good luck!

"I understand you have a job interview tomorrow. Break a leg!"

break someone's heart: make someone feel very disappointed/discouraged/sad.

"Joe broke his mother's heart when he dropped out of school."

broke: without money.

A: "Can you lend me 10 dollars?"
B: "I'm afraid not. I'm broke."

buck(s): dollar(s).

"The cheapest tickets for the concert cost 25 bucks. Do you still want to go?"

bug: annoy; bother.

"I'm trying to concentrate! Don't bug me!"

bull-headed: stubborn; inflexible.

"Don't be so bull-headed. Why can't you admit that others' opinions are just as good as yours?"

a bundle: a lot of money.

A: "Your new car is really nice."
B: "It should be. It cost me a bundle!"

burn the midnight oil: study/work all night or until very, very late at night.

"I'm not ready for the test tomorrow. I guess I'll have to
burn the the midnight oil."

bushed: very tired; exhausted.

"I'm going to lie down for a while. I'm really bushed."

by oneself: alone and without help.

"I can't do this by myself. Can you help me?"

by the skin of one's teeth: barely succeed in doing something.

"I'll have to start earlier the next time. This time I only finished by the skin of my teeth."
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Default Scientific idioms

Get a t-shirt of "science"blind someone with science (British & Australian)
if you blind someone with science, you confuse them by using technical language that they are not likely to understand. I think he decided to blind us with science because he didn't want us asking any difficult questions.
it's not rocket science

it doesn't take a rocket scientist - if you say that it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand something, you mean that it is obvious. We're talking basic common sense here - it isn't rocket science
have something down to a science
to be able to manage all the details of doing something very well. We have traffic management at the new stadium down to a science
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Default Idioms and Proverbs

If you say, “The cat's out of the bag” instead of “The secret is given away,” you're using an idiom. The meaning of an idiom is different from the actual meaning of the words used. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is a proverb. Proverbs are old but familiar sayings that usually give advice. Both idioms and proverbs are part of our daily speech. Many are very old and have interesting histories. See how many of these sayings you know.

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

This proverb comes from the ancient Romans, who believed the apple had magical powers to cure illness. In fact, apples are filled with vitamin C, protein, pectin, natural sugars, copper, and iron. They do promote health.

To “climb on the bandwagon.”

Long ago, bands on the platforms of traveling wagons played music to announce a parade or political speech. To show their support, people would often jump onto the platform and join the band. Today, this idiom usually refers to someone who hopes to benefit from supporting another person's idea.

“Saved by the bell.”

In 17th-century England, a guard at Windsor Castle was accused of falling asleep at his post. He claimed he was wrongly accused and could prove it; he had heard the church bell chime 13 times at midnight. Townspeople supported his claim and he was not executed. Today we think of the bell that ends a round in boxing, often saving the boxer from injury, or the bell at the end of a class period, saving you from more work. Regardless, this idiom means rescue from a situation at the last possible moment.

“Bury the hatchet.”

Native Americans used to bury weapons to show that fighting had ended and enemies were now at peace. Today, the idiom means to make up with a friend after an argument or fight.

To “have a chip on one's shoulder.”

In nineteenth-century America, a boy who thought he was pretty tough would put a wood chip on his shoulder and dare anyone to knock it off. Today the idiom refers to anyone who is “touchy” or takes offense easily.
Bakers once gave an extra roll for every dozen sold, so a baker's dozen is 13.

“A close shave.”

In the past, student barbers learned to shave on customers. If they shaved too close, their clients might be cut or even barely escape serious injury. Today, we use this idiom if a person narrowly escapes disaster.

“Dot the i's and cross the t's.”

When only handwritten documents were used, it was very important for the clerk to write everything properly, especially letters like i and t, which could easily be confused. The idiom has since come to mean paying attention to every little detail.

“He who pays the piper calls the tune.”

In medieval times, people were entertained by strolling musicians. Whoever paid the price could choose the music. This proverb means that whoever pays is in charge.

“The pen is mightier than the sword.”

In seventeenth-century England, a free press was banned by the government. This meant that people who disagreed with the government and printed their views were punished. In spite of this, people published their ideas and opinions in illegal pamphlets that were distributed to the public. The proverb means that the written expression of ideas cannot be stopped by physical force.

“The pot calling the kettle black.”

In the seventeenth century, both pots and kettles turned black because they were used over open fires. Today, this idiom means criticizing someone else for a fault of one's own.

“Raining cats and dogs.”

In Norse mythology, the dog is associated with wind and the cat with storms. This expression means it's raining very heavily.

To “shed crocodile tears.”

Crocodiles have a reflex that causes their eyes to tear when they open their mouths. This makes it look as though they are crying while devouring their prey. In fact, neither crocodiles nor people who shed “crocodile” tears feel sorry for their actions.

“Clean bill of health.”

When a doctor gives you a “clean bill of health,” you know that you’re perfectly healthy. In the past, when a ship left a port, it was given a Bill of Health if there were no epidemics in the area from which it left.

“Close but no cigar.”

Years ago, cigars were often given as prizes in contests at fairs and carnivals. When a player almost won, the person running the game would say, “Close but no cigar.”

“Cut from the same cloth.”

This means that a person is very similar to another. When making suits, tailors use fabric from the same piece of cloth to make sure the pieces match perfectly.

“Strike while the iron’s hot.”

When you do this, you’re taking advantage of a good opportunity. Blacksmiths must shape iron into objects during the brief time it’s red-hot.

Note : Members are requested to post Idioms and Proverb under this thread.
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