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Old Sunday, May 15, 2005
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Post Idioms (A-Z)


About to do something
- On the point of doing something

She was about to leave when the phone rang.

About time
- Something that should have happened earlier
It is about time that you returned that book to me.

- Forgetful
My grandfather is very absent-minded and often forgets his key.

According to Hoyle
- Strictly by the rules, the usual and correct way to do something
According to Hoyle you are not allowed to enter this room but if nobody is here I think it will be okay.

Add up
- seem consistent or reasonable
The things that he said about his boss donít really add up.

Ahead of time
- Early
We started the meeting ahead of time so we could go home early.

air oneís dirty laundry (linen) in public
- make public something embarrassing that should be kept secret
The dinner party became uncomfortable when the host began to air his colleagues' dirty laundry in public.

All along
- all the time
I knew all along that he would not get the promotion.

all at once
- suddenly, without warning
All at once the fire alarm rang so we had to leave the building.

all day long
- the whole day
She has been sitting and waiting for the mail to arrive all day long.

all ears
- eager to listen to someone
Okay, I`m all ears, please tell me about the party.

all in all
- in summary, after considering everything
We had a few problems but all in all the meeting was successful.

all of a sudden
- suddenly, without advance warning
All of a sudden it became cloudy and began to rain.

all right
- okay, satisfactory
She said that it would be all right for me to bring my friend to the party.

all the time
- continually
She asks for money all the time but I donít like to give it to her.

all thumbs
- have difficulty fixing things or working with oneís hands, clumsy
He is all thumbs when it comes to fixing things around the house.

an arm and a leg

- (cost) a large amount of money
His new car must have cost him an arm and a leg.

Apple of oneís eye
- Oneís favorite
His youngest daughter is the apple of his eye.

As a rule
- Usually, as a habit
As a rule I usually get up at 70 AM every morning.

As far as
- To the extent or degree that
As far as I know he will be here in a few minutes.

ask for trouble
- behave in a way that trouble is likely
He is asking for trouble if he misses another class.

Asleep at the switch
- Not alert to an opportunity
I think he was asleep at the switch. He didnít even know that the job was available so he never applied for it.

As long as
- Provided that, on condition that
As long as you promise to be careful you can borrow my car.

As the crow flies
- By the most direct way, along a straight line between two places
As the crow flies it is about 6 kilometers between my house and my company.

As usual
- Most of the time, as is the custom
As usual, she forgot to bring her book to class.

As well as
- In addition to
Please bring your swimming suit as well as your towel.

As yet
- Until now, up to the present
As yet, she has not told me about her plans to leave the company.

At cross purposes
- have opposite ways to do something, opposing goals
They are at cross purposes and are always arguing about what to do.

At fault
- be responsible or to blame for something
The truck driver was at fault in the terrible accident.

at first
- At the beginning
At first she didn`t want to go to a movie but later she changed her mind.

At first blush
- When first seen, without careful study
At first blush he seemed like a good worker but later we had many problems with him.

At heart
- Basically, fundamentally
She is a very nice person at heart although many people dislike her.

at home
- in oneís house
Iím sorry but I left my money at home. Can you lend me some money?

At last
- Finally, after a long time
I was waiting all morning for her call but at last it came.

at loggerheads
- having a quarrel, opposing each other
We have been at loggerheads over their plans to build a new office complex.

at odds
- in disagreement
He has been at odds with his boss over the new sales territory.

at someoneís beck and call
- Always ready to serve somebody
His eldest daughter is always at his beck and call when he spends an evening at home.

at the end of oneís rope
- at the limit of oneís ability to cope
I am at the end of my rope about what to do about my current situation at work.

Attend to someone
- take care or deal with someone
The doctor attended to the other patient before he got to my mother

B................................................. .....................

back on oneís feet
- Return to good financial or physical health
He is finally backed on his feet after his company went out of business.

Back out
- withdraw from an agreement or promise
The company backed out of the deal with the foreign firm.

Back to the drawing board
- go back to start a project or idea from the beginning
The boss doesnít like our idea so I guess we must go back to the drawing board.

Bail someone or something out
- Help or rescue
The government has decided to bail out the troubled bank.

Bank on
- be sure of, count on
You can bank on them to come and help the company.

bark is worse than oneís bite
- Someone isnít as bad as they sound
Donít worry if he gets angry - his bark is worse than his bite.

Bark up the wrong tree
- make a wrong assumption about something
The police are barking up the wrong tree in their investigation of that person.

Beat around the bush
- speak indirectly or evasively
Stop beating around the bush and give us your final decision.

beat someone to the punch (draw)
- do something before others
He beat me to the punch and arrived at the interview first.

(have a) bee in oneís bonnet
- have an idea that continually occupies oneís thoughts.
He has a bee in his bonnet over whether or not to build a new house or not.

(Do something) behind someoneís back
- Without someoneís knowledge
He is very angry because they borrowed the car behind his back.

Behind the times
- Old fashioned
My aunt is a little behind the times.

be to blame
- be responsible for something bad or unfortunate
Heís not to blame for breaking the computer.

Bend over backwards to do something
- try very hard
If I can, I will bend over backwards to help you get a promotion in the company.

Beside oneís self
- Very upset or excited about something
He was beside himself with joy at winning the contest.

Beside the point
- Not relevant to the subject that you are considering or discussing
"What you are saying is beside the point. We are not talking about salary now."

Bet on the wrong horse
- misjudge a coming event, misread the future
I think that he bet on the wrong horse by putting all of his money into that new stock.

Better off
- be in a better situation than before
He would be better off if he sold his old car and bought a new one.

beyond the pale
- Outside the bounds of acceptable behavior
What they are doing is totally unacceptable and beyond the pale.

bide oneís time
- Patiently wait for an opportunity to occur.
He is biding his time as he waits to become president of the company.

Big shot
- An important and powerful person
He is a big shot in the oil and gas industry.

Birthday suit
- Completely naked, no clothes on
The little boy was running down the street in his birthday suit.

Bite off more than one can chew
- try to do more than one is able to do
I think I bit off more than I can chew by taking on the new assignment.

Bite the bullet
- endure in a difficult situation, face a difficult situation bravely
I have decided to bite the bullet and begin studying for my Masterís degree.

bite the dust
- be killed, break down, be defeated
I think that my car has finally bitten the dust.

Bite the hand that feeds you
- turn against a friend or supporter, repay kindness with wrong
He is biting the hand that feeds him if he continues to criticize and fight against his boss.

Blind leading the blind
- someone who doesnít understand something trying to explain it to others
It is like the blind leading the blind watching him try and explain how to operate the new computer.

Blow it (something)
- fail at something
I tried hard but I am sure that I blew the final math exam last week.

Blow oneís own horn
- praise one self
He is always blowing his own horn and is very annoying at times.

Blow over
- die down or calm down
The problem with the lost invoices has finally blown over and everyone is working hard again.

Blue in the face
- Endlessly, fruitlessly
You can argue with him until you are blue in the face but you will never change his mind.

Bone of contention
- A reason for quarrels, the subject of a fight
The family cottage was a major bone of contention when their father died.

Boot out
- make someone go or leave, get rid of someone, dismiss
He was booted out of high school for smoking on the school grounds.

born with a silver spoon in oneís mouth
- Born rich, provided from birth with everything you need
He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and has never worked in his life.

Brand new
- Absolutely new
He was finally able to buy a brand-new car.

Break down
- stop working because of mechanical failure
The car broke down on the lonely road so nobody knew about it.

Break down
- analyze
We must break down these figures for further study.

Break fresh ground
- Deal with something in a new way
The researchers were able to break fresh ground in their search for a cancer cure.

Break the bank
- win all the money at a casino gambling table
He didnít really break the bank but he did win a lot of money.

Break the ice
- relax and start a conversation in a formal situation
Nobody was enjoying the party until the host finally was able to break the ice.

Break the news
- tell some information first
He is planning to break the news to her about his transfer tomorrow.

Break up (with someone)
- stop a relationship
She broke up with her boyfriend last June.

bring home the bacon
- work and earn money for your family
He is out bringing home the bacon and is very busy.

Bring home the importance of something to someone
- make someone fully realize something
He was unable to bring home the importance of arriving early for the meeting.

Bring some new facts to light
- discover some new facts, make some new facts known
The lawyers were able to bring some new facts to light in the trial of the killer.

Bring someone into line
- persuade someone to agree with you
He was finally able to bring the other members of the committee into line.

Bring something on
- cause to develop rapidly
I donít know what brought on his anger but you should avoid him until he calms down.

Bring the house down
- cause much laughter in the audience
The comedian brought the house down with his jokes about the lost dog.

Bring to mind
- recall something
Her perfect acting brought to mind some of the great actresses of the past.

Bring up
- introduce a subject into a discussion
They brought up the subject at the meeting but nobody wanted to talk about it.

Bring up
- raise or care for a child
My grandmother brought up ten children.

Bring up the rear
- be at the end of the line or in the last position
The runner from the other school was bringing up the rear in the school relay race.

- have no money
I spent all of my money on my holiday and I am now broke.

Brush up on something
- review something one has already learned
Iím going to brush up on my English before my trip to New York.

Brush with the law
- A brief encounter or experience with the police because of a crime
He had a brush with the law when he was young but now he is totally honest.

Bull in a china shop
- Someone who is clumsy and upsets other people or plans
He was like a bull in a china shop when I saw him at the meeting last week.

Bundle up
- put on warm clothes, dress warmly
We bundled up and went for a walk in the park.

burn a hole in oneís pocket
- Money that you want to spend quickly
I just got paid today and this money is burning a hole in my pocket.

Burn down
- burn completely (usually used for buildings)
The neighborís house burnt down completely during the night.

burn oneís bridges behind one
- do something that makes going back impossible
He burned his bridges behind him and is unable to work in the same industry again.

Burn the candle at both ends
- work or play too hard without enough rest
He has been burning the candle at both ends with his work and his studies. That is why he became sick.

burn the midnight oil
- study until very late at night
We burned the midnight oil for three nights in a row in order to study for the exam.

Burn up
- burn completely (usually things not buildings)
The uniforms burned up in the fire.

Bury (hide) oneís head in the sand
- refuse to see or face something; keep from seeing or knowing something unpleasant
He always buries his head in the sand and never wants to deal with his family problems at all.

Bury the hatchet
- stop quarreling and become friendly with someone
He decided to bury the hatchet with his brother and they are now on friendly terms again.

Butter someone up
- flatter someone
He is trying to butter up his boss so that he can leave early on Friday.

Buy a pig in a poke
- buy something without seeing it or knowing if it will be satisfactory
You shouldnít buy that car without first inspecting it. It is like buying a pig in a poke.

By and large
- On the whole, considering everything
By and large we had a good meeting even though it was a little short.

By and by
- Before long
By and by they will come and we can go out for dinner.

By far
- Greatly, by a great margin
He is by far the smartest person in the company.

By fits and starts
- Irregularly, with many stops and starts
By fits and starts the company was finally able to begin business.

By hook or by crook
- In any way necessary
She says that she will go to Italy this year by hook or by crook.

By the way
- Incidentally
By the way, could you please bring your computer tomorrow?

by the skin of oneís teeth
- by a very small margin, barely
I made the application date for the job by the skin of my teeth.

by the sweat of oneís brow
- By hard work
He managed to make enough money to buy the farm by the sweat of his brow.

C................................................. .....................

Calculated risk
- An action that may fail but has a good chance to succeed
They took a calculated risk when they opened the new store but it has been very successful.

Call a spade a spade
- speak bluntly
He was calling a spade a spade when he began to criticize his employee for being lazy.

Call for someone
- come and get someone
Could you please come and call on me before you go to the game.

Call it quits
- Stop, finish
He called it quits and went home for the day.

Call of nature
- The need to go to the toilet
He is answering the call of nature and canít talk to you for a few minutes.

Call off
- cancel
The game was called off because of the rain.

Call on
- visit someone
I plan to call on my brother when I am on my holidays.

Call on
- ask someone to participate or contribute something
The teacher called on me three times to answer questions in the class.

Call on to the carpet
- call someone before an authority to be scolded or reprimanded
He was called on to the carpet by his boss for losing the major sale.

call someoneís bluff
- Challenge someone to prove what they say is true
I decided to call his bluff and asked him to show me the evidence.

Call the shots

- be in charge, give orders

He is now calling the shots and is in control of the company.

Call up

- Telephone

He said that he would call up his parentís tomorrow night.

Calm down

- relax

She finally calmed down after the accident.

Cancel out

- destroy the effect of something

The benefits of her exercise were cancelled out by her always overeating.

Can of worms

- a complicated situation or problem

The lawsuit opened up a can of worms for the company.

Canít see the forest for the trees

- Unable to judge or understand the whole picture because you are looking at the small parts of it

He has no real understanding of most problems as he always fails to see the forest for the trees.

Card up oneís sleeve

- a plan or argument kept back to be produced if needed

I think that he has a card up his sleeve and will be able to help us later.

(In) care of someone

- send something to one person at the address of another person

I sent the parcel to her in care of her friend at the university.

Carrot and stick

- The promise of reward and threat of punishment at the same time

The trade negotiators took a carrot and stick approach to the automobile talks.

(Get) carried away

- lose control or judgment due to strong feelings

I got a carried away and began to yell at her for losing my textbook.

Carry on

- continue, keep doing as before

We were permitted to carry on with the party after we had talked to the landlord.

Carry (something) out

- put into action, accomplish

The move to the new headquarters was carried out with a minimum of problems.

Carry over

- save for another time

We plan to carry over the summer swimwear until next year.

Carry the ball

- take the most important or difficult part in an action or business

The vice-president was forced to carry the ball while the president was away.

Carry the day

- win or be successful

His fine performance in our company carried the day for us.

Carry the torch

- show loyalty to a cause or a person

He has been carrying the torch for the candidate for a long time.

Carry through

- put a plan into action

The company carried through with their plan to layoff 300 workers.

(a) Case in point

- An example that proves something or helps to make something clear

What he just said was a case in point about what I have been saying all year.

Cash cow

- A good source of money

His new business is a great cash cow. I think that he is really making a lot of money.

Cash in

- exchange something for money

We decided to cash in the coupons because we needed some money.

Cash in on

- see and profit by a chance

The small town cashed in on their success with the winter Olympics.

Cash on the barrelhead

- Money paid when something is bought

It was a cash deal and we were forced to pay cash on the barrelhead.

Cast pearls before swine

- waste something valuable on someone who doesnít appreciate it

Giving her the gold earrings was casting pearls before swine.

Cast the first stone

- be the first to blame someone

He was the one to cast the first stone and now he is having a major fight with his neighbor.

Castles in the air

- Daydreams

She is always building castles in the air and is very unrealistic.

Cat burglar

- A burglar who enters a building by climbing a wall etc.

We lost our stereo when a cat burglar entered our apartment.

Cat gets oneís tongue

- canít talk

I think that the cat has got her tongue. She hasnít said anything at all since the meeting started.


- a situation where whatever you do the outcome will be bad, a no-win situation

It was a catch-22 situation where if I went to work there would be problems but if I didnít go to work there would be more problems.

Catch a cold

- become sick with a cold

I caught a cold because of the rain and the cold weather.


- In any way possible

We are in the middle of moving house so the meals when you visit will be catch-as-catch-can.

Catch on

- understand, learn about

It was difficult to catch on at first but finally I was able to understand the math problem.

Catch on

- become popular

Recently ballroom dancing has begun to catch on among many people.

Catch oneís breath

- stop to rest and regain oneís normal breathing

After running from the station it took a moment to catch my breath.

Catch oneís eye

- attract oneís attention

I tried to catch her eye but she didnít notice me.

Catch (someone) red-handed

- find someone in the middle of doing something wrong

He caught the boy red-handed when he was stealing the candy.

Catch up with (someone or something)

- become even with someone (in a race or in schoolwork etc.)

I think itís too late to catch up with the rest of the class now.

Caught short

- Not having enough of something when you need it (usually money)

I was caught short last week and couldnít pay the weekly food bill.

Cave in

- To weaken and be forced to give up

The company finally caved in to the unionís demand for more money.

Chalk up

- Record

The stock prices of the company chalked up a big gain last week.

Change horses in midstream

- make new plans or choose a new leader in the middle of an important activity

They decided to change horses in midstream and that is probably why they lost the election.

Change of heart

- change the way one feels about something

She had a change of heart and decided to let her child go to the circus.

change (oneís) mind

- change oneís decision

He changed his mind and said that he would not go to the movie tonight.

Change (oneís) tune

- make a change in oneís story, statement or opinions

He has begun to change his tune recently and is beginning to agree that we need to do things a little differently.

(In) charge of something
- be responsible for an activity or group of people
He is in charge of selling tickets for the school dance.

Cheat on (someone)
- be unfaithful to someone
He recently began cheating on his wife which was the main cause of their divorce.

(Have the) cheek to do something
- Rudeness, impudence
She had the cheek to tell me that she was sick and couldnít come to work today.

Cheek by jowl
- Side by side, in close intimacy
They were walking down the stairs cheek by jowl when the alarm sounded.

Chew the fat
- chat
The two men were chewing the fat on the porch of the house.

Chew out (someone)
- scold roughly
The teacher chewed out the student for talking in class.

Chicken feed
- A small amount of money
What he sold his car for was chicken feed compared to the amount of money that he has in the bank.

Chicken out
- stop doing something because of fear
He chickened out of jumping into the lake from the high diving board.

Chickens come home to roost
- Words or acts come back to cause trouble for a person
Her chickens have finally come home to roost and she must now take responsibility for what she has done.

Chime in
- join in (a song or conversation)
We were having a nice conversation until she chimed in and started complaining about everything.

Chip in
- contribute or pay jointly
We all chipped in and bought our father a present.

Chip off the old block
- Person who looks or acts like one of his parents
His son is a chip off the old block and acts exactly like his father.

(When the) chips are down
- The time when one faces the greatest obstacles
When the chips were down he went to his father for advice and received his encouragement.

Clam up
- stop talking
She clammed up as soon as her boyfriend entered the room.

Clean bill of health
- The assurance that an animal or person is healthy
The astronaut was given a clean bill of health before he began training.

Clean slate
- having no errors, past acts that are all good
He started off with a clean slate and has never caused any problems for the company.

Clear the air
- calm down and remove a misunderstanding
We had a big argument so I think it is time to clear the air.

Clear the decks

- clear away things and prepare for action

Letís clear the decks and get everyone out of the house so we can begin work.

Clear up

- solve or explain (a problem etc.)

They finally cleared up the problem that I was having with my salary at work.


- Sports event or movie where the outcome is uncertain until the very end

The playoff game was a cliffhanger and one of the most enjoyable games of the year.

Climb the wall
- be so bored that you become anxious and frustrated
She began to climb the wall after only a few days at her new job.

Clip joint
- A low-class business where people are cheated
They went into a clip joint near the bus station and had to pay a lot of money.
- limit oneís activities or possibilities
They decided to clip his wings and took away his expense account.

Close call/shave
- An accident almost happens (but doesnít happen)
I had a close call this morning when the truck almost hit me.

Close ranks
- come together for fighting, unite and work together
They decided to close ranks and stop arguing among themselves

Close to home
- Near to someoneís personal feelings, wishes or interests
What I said about her work habits must have hit close to home as she seemed to become very quiet suddenly.

Coast is clear
- No danger is in sight, no one can see you
When the coast was clear we decided to enter the building.

(Bring) coals to Newcastle
- bring something of which there is plenty
Bringing extra food to the farmerís picnic was like bringing coals to Newcastle.

Cog in the machine
- You are not important but only a small part of a large organization
The employees felt like they were only cogs in a machine so the atmosphere at the company was not very good.

Cold spell or cold snap
- A sudden short period of cold weather (usually in winter)
The cold snap lasted for five days.

Cold turkey
- stop using drugs (heroin etc.) abruptly and without medical aid
Although she was able to stop using drugs cold turkey she was very sick for awhile.

Come a cropper
- fail
I think that he has come a cropper in the horse competition and that is why he is sad.

Come across
- find something or meet someone by chance
I came across an interesting story in the newspaper the other day.

Come again.
- Please repeat, please say that again
Come again. I didnít hear you the first time.

Come alive
- brighten up and become active
She finally came alive and began to enjoy the party.

Come along
- make progress, thrive
The work on our new house is coming along very well at the moment.

Come a long way
- make great progress
He has come a long way and has learned many things about his new company.

Come back
- Return to the place you are now
She came back from her holidays last week.

Come back
- Return to oneís memory
I canít remember clearly the events of last year but slowly everything is coming back to me.

Come back
- become popular again
Recently bell-bottom pants have come back into fashion.

Come between
disrupt the relationship between (two people)
His constant interfering finally came between his brother and his wife.

Come by
- get, obtain, acquire
She came by a lot of money recently and is now enjoying her life.

Come clean
- tell the truth
The president of the company was forced to come clean and tell what really happened to the business.

(a) come-down
- A lowering in status, income, influence or energy
Her new job was a real come-down from her last one so she was not very happy.

Come down hard on
- scold or punish severely
The police have been coming down very hard on drunk drivers recently.

Come down to earth
- stop imagining or dreaming, think and behave as usual
He has finally come down to earth and is preparing seriously to look for a job.

Come down with
- become sick with or catch a cold etc.
Her mother came down with a cold so was unable to attend the dinner.

Come from
- be a native of a place
Several of the students in the class come from Mexico.

Come full circle
- Completely opposite from oneís starting point
They have come full circle since the new president started at the university.

Come hell or high water
- No matter what happens
Come hell or high water I plan to go to the concert next week.

Come in handy
- prove to be useful
I think that the small hammer will come in handy to fix the desk.

Come into
- receive, get possession of
They came into a lot of money which they donated to charity.

Come into fashion
- become fashionable
She says that although bell-bottom pants have come into fashion again she will never wear them.

Come into oneís own
- become to perform or work well because of good circumstances
He has really come into his own as a basketball player since he changed positions.

Come off
- be successful
The party came off without any problems so everyone was very happy.

come on strong
- overwhelm with excessively strong language or personality
He came on too strong during the job interview and was unable to get the job.

come out with
- say, make known
The child has recently come out with many strange and funny expressions.

come to
- begin or learn to do or feel something
At first I disliked her a lot but recently I have come to accept her.

come to
- regain consciousness
She came to a couple of hours after the accident.

Come to blows
- begin to fight
They almost came to blows when they were trying to fix the car.

Come to grief
- have a bad accident or disappointment
He has recently come to much grief because of his sonís problems with the police.

Come to grips with
- struggle (successfully) with an idea or problem
She has finally been able to come to grips with her husbandís drinking.

Come to light
- be discovered, become known
It has recently come to light that the company has lost millions of dollars.

Come to nothing
- End in failure
All his efforts to help his sister find a job came to nothing.

come to oneís senses
- begin to think clearly or act sensibly
He finally came to his senses and decided to buy a cheaper car rather than borrow a lot of money for an expensive one.

Come to pass
- To happen, occur
It came to pass that the company was never able to recover from their financial problems.

Come to terms
- reach an agreement
We came to terms with the bank and were able to buy the house.

come to the point
- be direct
His speech was interesting but he never really came to the point.

Come up with
- produce or find a thought, idea or answer
Please try to come up with a name for the new magazine.

Common touch
- a friendly manner with everyone
He has a nice common touch and everyone likes him a lot.

Conk out
- fall asleep quickly with great fatigue
As soon as we returned from the hike I conked out in front of the TV.

cook oneís goose
- ruin oneís chances
She really cooked her own goose and has no chance of getting the new job.

Cook up
- invent, plan and put something together
I donít know what kind of plan she is cooking up now but it should be quite interesting.

Cool as a cucumber
- Very calm and brave, not worried or anxious
She was as cool as a cucumber when her canoe turned over in the river.

cool oneís heels
- be kept waiting because of anotherís rudeness
He was forced to cool his heels for an hour in the waiting room before his boss would talk to him.

Cop a plea
- plead guilty to a crime in order to get a lesser penalty
He was forced to cop a plea when the evidence against him became too strong to dispute.

Cop out
- avoid doing something that you were planning to do
He copped out from our plan to go to the beach for the day.

- Someone who copies another personís work or their actions
The little boy was accused of being a copycat by the other children.

Cough up
- give unwillingly
He finally coughed up enough money to pay for the accident.

Count on
- depend on
You can never count on him to do anything right.

count oneís chickens before theyíre hatched
- assume that something will be successful before it is certain
Donít count your chickens before theyíre hatched. Youíre spending your money and you donít even have a job yet.

Count out
- leave something out of a plan, exclude
Please count me out of your plans to go skiing for the weekend.

cover oneís tracks
- hide or not say where one has been or what one has done
He was trying to cover his tracks but it was easy to see where he had recently been.

Cover up
- hide something wrong or bad
They tried to cover up the facts regarding the illegal election campaign funds.

Cozy up to (someone)
- try to be friendly to someone
I donít know what he wants but recently he has been trying to cozy up to me.

Crack a joke
- tell a joke
He was a lot of fun at the party because he was always cracking jokes.

crack a smile
- let a smile show on oneís face
He never cracked a smile during the whole meeting.

crack down on
- enforce laws or rules strictly
The school principal decided to crack down on people running in the halls.

Crack of dawn
- Daybreak, early in the morning
We got up at the crack of dawn to go fishing.

- an eccentric person with ideas that donít make sense to others
He is a total crackpot and you never know what he will do next.

Crack the whip
- try to make someone work hard or obey you by threatening them
We had to crack the whip in order to get the job finished by the weekend.

(Buy something) on credit
- pay for something not in cash
He decided to buy the stereo on credit

Crack up
- burst into laughter
I cracked up when he started talking about the incident with the taxi driver.

Cramp oneís style
- limit oneís talk or action
Working in the new section is beginning to cramp my style a little.

Crash the gate
- enter without a ticket or without paying or with no invitation
Many people didnít have a ticket for the concert so they decided to crash the gate.

Cream of the crop
- The top choice
When they hire new employees they always look for the cream of the crop.

(The) creeps
- A strong feeling of fear or disgust
I get the creeps every time that I see a dead animal.

Creep up on
- crawl quietly towards
The thief crept up on the elderly women at the supermarket.

Crocodile tears
- a show of sorrow that is not really felt
He said that he was very sorry but his tears were just crocodile tears.

Crop up

- appear or happen unexpectedly

I will meet you early next week unless something crops up that keeps me busy.

Cross a bridge before one comes to it

- think and worry about future events or problems before they happen

We shouldnít worry about that problem now. We can cross that bridge when we come to it.

cross oneís heart and hope to die
- promise that what you are saying is true
I promise that I will pay you back the money next week. Cross my heart and hope to die.

cross ones mind
- think of, occur to someone
It just crossed my mind that I would probably see him in the evening so I didnít phone him.

Cross (something) out
- eliminate by drawing a line through something
Please cross out that amount and put in the correct amount.

Cross to bear/carry
- Something you must do or continue with even though you are suffering
Looking after my sisterís children every day is my cross to bear.

Cry out for
- need something badly, be lacking
The new room that he built cries out for a new set of furniture.

cry over spilt milk
- cry or complain about something that has already happened
Don`t cry over spilt milk. You can never change the past.

cry uncle
- admit defeat or that one has lost
He finally had to cry uncle when the other wrestler pinned him to the mat.

Cry wolf
- warn of danger that is not there
He has been crying wolf for years about various things and now nobody believes him.

(not oneís) cup of tea
- something one enjoys, special interest
It`s not really my cup of tea so I think I will stay home and not go to the art gallery.

curiosity killed the cat
- being too nosy and interested in other peoples business may lead a person into trouble
Don`t keep asking so many questions. Remember curiosity killed the cat.

curry favor
- flatter someone to get his help or friendship
He has been working hard to curry favor with the other members of the committee.

cut across
- cross or go through something instead of going around
We decided to cut across the field because we were in a hurry to get to school.

cut and dried
- completely decided, prearranged
The decision was cut and dried and nobody asked for our opinion.

cut back
- use fewer or use less
We were forced to cut back on the number of people who were invited to the party.

cut both ways
- serve both sides of an argument
What he said cuts both ways and we should carefully think about it.

cut corners
- economize
We will have to cut corners in order to save some money for our holiday.

cut down on
- use less of something
Recently he has cut down on his drinking in order to start his new health program.

cut down to size
- prove that someone is not as good as he thinks
I was able to cut him down to size when I criticized what he said at the meeting.

cut (someone) off
- stop someone from saying something, disconnect someone on the phone
I tried to tell him about the accident but he cut me off before I had a chance.

cut off oneís nose to spite oneís face
- make things worse for oneself because one is angry at someone else
He is cutting off his nose to spite his face. Taking revenge on his neighbor will only cause more problems for himself.

cut out
- eliminate
She decided to cut out chocolate in order to lose weight.

cut the mustard
- reach the required standard
He doesn`t cut the mustard and will never be able to work here.

Last edited by Argus; Sunday, October 15, 2006 at 03:40 AM.
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Old Sunday, May 15, 2005
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Default Idioms(D-E-F)

D................................................. .................................

dance to a different tune
- talk or act differently (usually better) because things have changed
He has begun dancing to a different tune now that he knows that his head salesman is thinking of quitting.

dark horse
- a candidate little known to the general public
At first he was a dark horse candidate but he later won the election.

dash off
- do or finish quickly, leave quickly
I will dash off a letter now but then I must go to work.

Dawn on
- become clear
It finally dawned on me as to why he was angry.

Day and night
- Continually
We worked day and night to finish the project before the end of the month.

Day in and day out
- Regularly, all the time
He goes to that restaurant day in and day out and never gets tired of it.

Dead ahead
- Exactly in front, before
There was a truck dead ahead so we put on the car brakes suddenly.

Dead as a doornail
- Very dead
The man was dead as a doornail as we could see after the accident.

- A person who never pays his debts
There is a policy to penalize deadbeat fathers by the local government.

Dead center
- Exact middle
He was able to hit the target dead center.

Dead duck
- Person or thing in a hopeless situation or condition
He is a dead duck and has no hope of recovering his former position.

Dead end
- The closed end of a road or an impasse
The negotiations between the team and the owners have come to a dead end.

- With an expressionless or emotionless face
He had a deadpan expression when he told us the story.

Dead set against something
- determined not to do something
They are dead set against their son going to Europe for a year.

Dead tired
- Very tired, exhausted
I was dead tired so I went to bed as soon as I got home.

Dead to the world
- Fast asleep
The little boy was dead to the world when his father took him out of the car.

Decked out
- dressed in fancy clothes
She was all decked out in her best clothes for the party.

- throw away, dispose of
I decided to deep-six the videos as I didnít want them any longer.

Deep water
- Serious trouble or difficulty
He will be in deep water if he doesnít tell us where he spent the money.

Deliver the goods
- succeed in doing what is expected well
He is the best manager that we have ever had. He knows how to deliver the goods.

- Unworried, not caring what happens
He has a devil-may-care attitude to his job and nothing ever bothers him.

Die down
- come slowly to an end, grow weaker
When the sound of the music finally died down we were able to get to sleep.

Die off
- die one after another until the number is small
The house plants began to die off as soon as he moved to a new apartment.

Die out
- die or disappear slowly until all gone
Dinosaurs died out millions of years ago.

Dig in
- begin eating
Letís dig in and eat before everything is cold!

Dime a dozen

- Common, easy to get and of little value

Used books are a dime a dozen so donít worry if you canít sell them.

Dirty look

- A look that shows dislike or disapproval

His mother gave him a dirty look when he smoked the cigarette.

Dish out
- serve food from a large bowl or plate
He began to dish out the food as soon as the guests arrived.

Dish out
- treat or criticize roughly
He likes to dish out criticism to others but he doesnít like to hear criticism about himself.

Do a double take
- look again in surprise at someone or something
She did a double take when she saw her old boyfriend with another woman.

Do a job on
- do harm to, make ugly or useless
He really did a job on the plans for the new house that he was working on.

Do away with
- put an end to, stop, and get rid of
The company has decided to do away with having fixed holidays every year.

- Ready or willing to fight and hurt others to get what you want
It is a dog-eat-dog world out in the world of advertising and public relations.

Do in
- To ruin, destroy
He quickly did in the new shoes that he received for his birthday.

Do in
- To make tired, exhaust
He was really done in by the time that he finished the marathon.

Doll up
- Dress in fancy clothes
She was all dolled up for the party at the downtown hotel.

Done for
- Ruined, defeated, dying
I think that the team is done for as far as this season is concerned.

Done with
- be finished using something
He was finally done with the computer and so he let his sister use it.

Do oneís best
- try to do something as well as you can
I tried to do my best on the exam.

Do oneís bit (part)
- Share in a group project by contributing oneís time and effort
He did his bit for the planning of the party.

Do oneís thing
- do what one wants to do and enjoys
He is an individualist and enjoys doing his thing when and where he chooses.

- make a great effort while disregarding danger
He was in a position of do-or-die when he finally found another job.

Do out of
- cause to lose by trickery or cheating
He was worried that the company would do him out of the large bonus that he was expecting.

Do someone good
- be good or beneficial for someone
It will do you good to go on a holiday.

Do something rash
- take drastic action (usually without thinking)
She is extremely angry so I hope that she doesnít do anything rash.

Do the honors
- perform the duty of a host (when serving a drink etc.)
Would you like to do the honors and pour everyone a glass of wine?

Do the trick
- work well, achieve a good result
I think the new piece of equipment should do the trick and solve the problem.

Do time
- spend time in prison
He was doing time when I first heard about him.

Do with
- benefit from
I have been working hard all day so now I could do with a cold drink.

Do with
- be acquainted, involved or associated with
I donít have anything to do with the party this year.

Do without
- manage without something
If there is no sugar, weíll have to do without.

Double back
- turn back from where you are going or have been

We decided to double back from the arena to get some money to go to a movie.


- check again to be sure something is correct

He double-checked the price of the airplane ticket.


- deceive, promise one thing and do another

He tried to double-cross his partner but was caught and sent to jail.


- Talk that appears to have meaning but does not

He gave the audience a lot of double-talk so nobody knew what he wanted to say.

Double up

- share a room or home with someone

The passengers had to double up in hotel rooms when the plane was delayed because of the weather.

Down and out

- have no money

He has been down and out before but he has always been able to find a job eventually.

Down in the dumps

- Unhappy

She has been really down in the dumps since her boyfriend moved away.

Down on (someone)

- be critical of someone, angry at

She is really down on her friend but I donít really know the reason.

Down oneís alley

- suited to oneís tastes and abilities

Computers are down his alley so I am sure that he will be interested in taking the job.

Down the line

- Straight ahead, in future

There will be many changes at this company down the line but for now your job is safe.

Down the drain

- wasted or lost

He is just throwing money down the drain when he goes to the horse races.


- Sensible and practical

Her mother is a very down-to-earth person.

Down to the wire

- nearing a deadline, running out of time

We went right down to the wire but we were able to finish the job on time.

Do wonders

- produce excellent results

If you begin to do some exercise it will do wonders for your health.

Drag in

- insist on bringing another subject into a discussion

He always drags in his personal problems when we are talking about his performance on the job.

Drag on

- pass very slowly, make longer

The speech seemed to drag on and on so finally we decided to leave early.

Drag oneís feet/heels

- act slowly or reluctantly

He has been dragging his feet about whether or not to take the job.

Draw a blank

- obtain nothing in return for an effort made, get a negative result

He drew a blank when he went to the head office to try and receive some information about the merger.

Draw fire

- receive criticism or argument

He has been drawing a lot of fire since he announced that he would not play basketball another year.

Draw fire

- be a target, attract or provoke shooting

The soldiers drew fire when they entered the small village.

Draw in oneís horns

- spend less money

Their company is not doing well so they will have to draw in their horns for awhile.

Draw (someone) out

- make a person talk or tell something

She was very quiet but we finally were able to draw her out so that she would join the party.

Draw the line

- set a limit

We have to draw the line somewhere in regards to the costs of the party.

Draw up

- put in writing

They were able to draw up the new contract while we were waiting.

Dressed to kill

- wear oneís finest clothes

She was dressed to kill when I saw her at the concert last week.

Dressed to the nines (teeth)

- dressed elegantly

The stars were all dressed to the nines during the Academy Awards ceremony.

Dress up

- put on oneís best clothes

He decided to dress up for dinner at the restaurant.

Drive a hard bargain

- conclude a bargain without making any concessions

Although he drives a hard bargain I like doing business with him.

Drive at

- try or want to say something

I donít know what he was driving at in his speech.

Drive someone up a wall

- irritate or annoy someone greatly

His constant complaining is driving me up a wall.

Drop a hint

- Casually utter a hint or suggestion

He dropped a hint that he wanted to transfer to a new department.

Drop (someone) a line

- write or mail a note or letter to someone
She promised that she would drop me a line when she gets to Singapore.

Drop back
- Move or step backwards, retreat
During the hike his foot began to get sore so he decided to drop back and rest for awhile.

Drop by
- To visit someone or somewhere
He dropped by after work for a drink.

Drop by the wayside
- give up or fail before the finish
Many runners dropped by the wayside as the marathon continued.

Drop dead!
- go away and be quiet, stop bothering someone
I told him to drop dead when he came into my room and now he is angry at me.

Drop in
- make a short or unplanned visit
I decided to drop in and visit my friend after I finished work for the day.

Drop in the bucket
- Small amount
The money he paid back was only a drop in the bucket compared to what he owes.

Drop out (of school)
- quit school or a course of some kind
She dropped out of the class after three months.

Drown oneís sorrows
- drink alcohol to forget oneís problems
Heís in the bar drowning his sorrows with a beer.

Drown out
- make so much noise that it is impossible to hear
The team captain was drowned out by the cheering fans.

Drum up

- invent, encourage by making an effort

They were able to drum up a lot of business during the summer.

Duck soup

- Easy, effortless

How was the test last week? It was duck soup - no problem at all.

Dumb bunny
- A stupid gullible person
He is a dumb bunny and you never know what he will do next.

Dutch treat
- Meal/movie etc. where each person pays their own way, contribute equally to something
When he goes out with his girlfriend it is always a Dutch treat as he doesnít have much money.

Dwell on
- think about or talk about something all the time
I wish he wouldnít always dwell on his personal problems.

E................................................. ..............................................

Each and every

- Every (used for emphasis)

I would like each and every one of you to bring your textbooks tomorrow.

Eager beaver

- Person who is always eager to work or do extra work

He is a real eager beaver and is always available to work when we need him.


- Scolding, a lot of information (often critical)

He really gave his daughter an earful when she came home late.

Early bird catches the worm

- A person who gets up early in the morning has the best chance of success

He always goes to work before his colleagues because he knows that the early bird catches the worm.

(keep/have oneís) ear to the ground

- pay attention to the way things are going or the way people feel and think

He always has his ear to the ground and knows everything that is going on in our company.

Ease off

- reduce in severity or pressure, relax

The president was asked to ease off on his efforts to save money in the company.

Easy come, easy go

- Something that you get easily can be lost easily

He doesnít care if he loses his job or not. For him everything is easy come, easy go.

Easy does it

- do something without sudden movements or too fast

"Easy does it" he said as he helped to move the large piano.


- Tolerant and relaxed

He has a very easy-going management style.

Eat away

- Rot, erode, destroy
The mildew has been eating away at the window frame all summer.

Eat crow
- admit one is mistaken or defeated
He was forced to eat crow when the figures that he gave us at the meeting were all wrong.

Eat dirt

- accept anotherís insult or bad treatment, act humble

He made the senior manager eat dirt as revenge for his bad treatment in the past.

Eat oneís heart out

- suffer greatly from longing

You can eat your heart out. Iím going to Hawaii for three weeks!

Eat humble pie

- admit oneís error and apologize

He had to eat humble pie in front of his friends when they discovered his mistake.

(Be) eating someone

- bothering or worrying someone

I donít know what is eating her but she doesnít seem to be in a good mood today.

Eat like a bird

- eat very little

He eats like a bird. Thatís why he canít put on enough weight to join the football team.

Eat like a horse

- eat a lot

He eats like a horse but he never puts on any weight.

Eat oneís cake and have it too

- use or spend something and still keep it

He always wants to eat his cake and have it too and is never prepared to sacrifice anything.

Eat oneís words

- admit being wrong in something one has said, retract oneís statement

He was forced to eat his words after his boss proved that he was wrong.

Eat out

- eat in a restaurant

He eats out three or four times a week.

Egg (someone) on

- urge or push someone to do something

He is always egging his friend on when he is angry which makes him even angrier.

Eke out

- earn with difficulty

He was unable to eke out a living on the farm so he sold it.

- Effort and strength to clean something

Weíll have to use a lot of elbow grease to get the kitchen cleaned.

Elbow room

- space (enough to be comfortable)

They moved to the country in order to have a little more elbow room.

End in it

- A purpose or goal one wants for itself alone and not as a way to something else

For some people traveling is an end in itself and the destination is not important.

(At the) end of oneís rope

- The last of oneís ability or ideas about how to proceed or do something

He is at the end of his rope regarding what to do about his job.

End up

- finish, finally do something

We ended up going to the restaurant after the movie last night.

Even so

- Nevertheless, however

He always works hard but even so he has no money saved.

Every dog has his day

- Everyone will have his chance or turn; everyone will get what he deserves

You should be patient and wait until you get a chance. Remember every dog has his day.

Every other

- alternate, every second one

She has to work every other Saturday evening.

Every so often

- Occasionally

You should walk around every so often when you are on a long plane trip.

Every Tom, Dick and Harry

- The average person

He said he is not the same as every Tom, Dick and Harry.

Eyes are bigger than oneís stomach
- One wants more food than one can eat

His eyes are bigger than his stomach. He will never finish all of the food that he took.

Eyes in the back of oneís head

- Ability to know what is happening behind oneís back

He has eyes in the back of his head and you can never borrow anything without him knowing about it.

Eyes pop out

- Much surprised

Her eyes popped out when she saw her name in the newspaper.

F................................................. ...............................................

Face down

- confront boldly and win, defy

They decided to face down their competitors and were able to easily stay in business.

Face the music

- accept the consequences of something

He is going to have to face the music sooner or later.
- accept something that is not easy to accept
You must face up to the fact that you are never going to have enough money to buy that car.

Face value
- Value or price printed on a stamp/bond/paper money etc.
He gave me the face value that was printed on the used stamps.

Face value
- Seeming value or truth of something
He is a nice person but you must always take at face value what he says.

Facts of life
- What one should know about sex, marriage and birth?
He seems to be a little too young to know about the facts of life.

Fair and square
- Honestly, just, straightforward
The British team won the game fair and square but still the other team complained.

Fair game
- A likely object of aggressive interest
The company is fair game as a takeover target by other international companies.

Fair play
- Justice, equal and right action
He believes in fair play and is a wonderful person to have on our team.

Fair shake
- Honest treatment
She was not given a fair shake at the inquiry into her behavior.

Fair-weather friend
- A person who is a friend only when one is successful
He is a fair-weather friend only and you canít rely on him if you have a problem.

Fall apart
- become to not work properly
The equipment fell apart about six months after I bought it.

Fall back
- move back, go back
The runner fell back from the rest of the runners when the race was half over.

Fall back on something/someone
- turn to for help when something else has failed
She had to fall back on her fatherís money when her business had problems.

Fall behind
- fail to keep up with work or studies or payments etc.
He fell behind with his homework at the beginning of the term and had problems throughout the year.

Fall by the wayside
- give up or fail before the finish
He had a good chance of winning the competition but he fell by the wayside near the end.

Fall flat
- be unsuccessful, fail
I think that my attempt at humor fell flat and now she doesnít like me.

Fall for
- begin to like very much, begin to love
He fell for the woman at the bank but he is afraid to ask her for a date.

Fall from grace
- lose approval
The politician fell from grace with the public over the money scandal.

- Argument, disagreement, quarrel
We had a falling-out during our holiday and we havenít spoken since.

Fall in love with
- begin to love someone
I fell in love with her the first time that I saw her at the restaurant.

Fall into line
- go and stand properly in a row (like soldiers)
The students were forced to fall into line as they waited for the doors to open.

Fall in with
- become associated with a bad group of people
He fell in with a bad group of friends and began to get lower marks.

Fall off
- Decrease
The number of tourists to visit the island has fallen off recently.

Fall off the wagon
- Return to the consumption of alcohol or drugs after stopping for awhile
He fell off the wagon after he stopped drinking for three years.

Fall on
- meet (troubles)
The town had fallen on hard times before the new computer company moved to town and created many jobs.

Fall out of use
- be no longer used
That kind of stereo system has fallen out of use over the last 20 years.

Fall over one
- be extremely eager to do something or please someone
They fell over themselves in their effort to please their host.

Fall short (of oneís expectations)
- Not be as good as you expected, not succeed
The new movie fell short of everyoneís expectations and attendance is very low.

Fall through
- fail, not happen
My plan to go abroad fell through when my father refused to lend me some money.

Far and wide
- Everywhere, in all directions
We looked far and wide for the book but could not find it.

Far cry
- Something very different
What he said to my friend is a far cry from what he told me over the telephone.

Farm out
- have someone else do something, send away
We farmed out all of the printing to another company in order to save money.

Fast buck
- Money earned quickly and easily
He is always trying to make a fast buck without really trying to work very hard.

Fast talker
- Con artist, clever talker who convinces others easily
He is a fast talker so you should be careful not to believe everything that he says.

Fat chance

- Little or no possibility, almost no chance

Fat chance that he will let me use his car. He never lets me borrow anything.

(Live off the) fat of the land

- have the best of everything, especially without having to work for it

He plans to move to the mountains and try and live off the fat of the land.

Favorite son

- A candidate supported by his home state for President etc.

We voted for him because he is the favorite son of our state.

Feather in oneís cap

- Something you achieve and are proud of

Winning the new contract was a real feather in his cap.

Feather oneís nest

- look after oneís own interest (while holding public office or a trusted job etc.)

The mayor has been feathering his nest for many years and is now very rich.

Fed up with

- disgusted or bored with someone or something

I think that he is getting fed up with the constant demands of his boss.

Feed someone a line

- deceive

He was feeding me a line about his plans to open a new restaurant downtown.

Feel like a million dollars

- feel wonderful

I feel like a million dollars today so I think that I will go for a walk.

Feel out

- talk or act carefully with someone and find out what he thinks

I will try and feel out my boss this weekend and see what he thinks of my chance of promotion.

Feel sorry for
- Pity
I feel sorry for him after losing his job.

Feel up to (do something)
- feel able (healthy enough or rested enough) to do something
I donít feel up to going to the game.

Feet on the ground
- Sensible ideas

He is a good family man and always has his feet on the ground.

Few and far between

- Not many, rare, few and scattered

The gas stations were few and far between on the highway through the mountains.

Fiddle around

- Tinker, does something in an unplanned way

I tried fiddling around with the computer printer for awhile but it still wonít work.


- Equally, evenly

We divided the cost of the trip fifty-fifty.

Fight tooth and nail

- fight fiercely or with all oneís might

He is fighting tooth and nail to get a transfer to another department.

Figure on

- depend on, be sure about

You can figure on about 30 people coming to the party next week.

Figure out

- try to understand or solve

He finally figured out how to use the new video recorder.

Fill (someone) in

- tell someone the details

I will fill you in later about our plans for the weekend.

Fill (something) in

- write words needed in blanks

Please fill in this form and give it to the receptionist.

Fill oneís shoes

- Substitute satisfactorily for

Although he is a good supervisor he is unable to fill the shoes of those who came before him.

Fill out
- write down the facts that are asked for (in a report etc.)
We were asked to fill out the forms before we could have an interview for the job.

Fill the bill
- be suitable for what is required
I think that the new equipment should fill the bill for us.

Find fault with
- criticize

He is always finding fault with everything that I do.
- learn, discover
She is angry at me because she found out that I quit the night class.

(Go over with a) fine-toothed comb
- Very carefully
We went over the apartment with a fine-toothed comb but couldnít find her watch.

Finger in the pie
- Part ownership or responsibility
He has his finger in the pie of all the small companies in the area.

First come, first served
- The person who comes will have his turn first
"First come, first served" she called as she put the food on the table.

- Directly
I learned the news from him firsthand.

- New, shown for the first time
There are a lot of first-run movies that I havenít had time to see yet.

- try to get or to find out (something) by hinting at it
She is always fishing for compliments when I see her at work.

Fish out of water
- Someone who does not fit in
He was like a fish out of water at the expensive restaurant.

(Be) fishy
- Strange and suspicious
Something is fishy with his excuse. Why did he take the day before the holiday off work?

Fit as a fiddle
- In good athletic condition or health
Her grandfather is 92 years old but he is as fit as a fiddle.

Fit like a glove
- fit perfectly
The new pair of jeans that he bought fit like a glove.

Fit to be tied
- Very angry or upset
He was fit to be tied when he heard that I was going to take a month off work in the summer.

Fix someone up with someone
- help someone get a date by arranging a meeting for the two
I tried to fix my sister up with a date with my friend but she refused me.

Fizzle out
- Fail after a good start, end in failure
The party began to fizzle out about midnight when many people went home.

Flare up
- become suddenly angry, begin again suddenly
The fighting flared up again after the United Nations soldiers left the town.

Flash in the pan
- Something that makes a showy start and then fails
His sports career was a flash in the pan. Recently I havenít heard of him at all.

Flat broke
- have no money
I have been flat broke since I stopped working last month.

- Without hiding anything, plainly, openly
I told her flat-out that I would not go with her to the party.

Flea in oneís ear
- An annoying hint, an idea or answer that is not welcome
I put a flea in his ear regarding the proposal deadline that he had missed.

Flea market
- A place where antiques or secondhand things are sold
We went to a flea market last Saturday to try and buy some dishes.

Flesh and blood
- A close relative
She is my own flesh and blood so of course I felt terrible when she got into trouble.

Flip oneís lid
- become very excited, lose oneís temper
He really flipped his lid when I told him about the huge telephone bill.

Flip out
- go insane, go out of oneís mind, and become very angry
She flipped out when she heard that I had sold her car.

Fly by the seat of oneís pants
- do a job instinctively rather than by using concrete information
I had to fly by the seat of my pants when the supervisor left me alone for a week.

Flying high

- Very happy, joyful

She has been flying high since she heard that she had won a new car.

Fly in the ointment

- A small thing that spoils enjoyment

The problem with the music was a fly in the ointment at the party.

Fly off the handle

- become angry

He really flew off the handle when he saw the bill for the meal.


- Unreliable (business)

That new company is a real fly-by-night operation.

Foam at the mouth

- be very angry (like a mad dog)

He was foaming at the mouth when I told him that I had had an accident with his car.

Follow in oneís footsteps (tracks)

- follow someoneís example, follow someone exactly

He is following in his fatherís footsteps and has decided to work for a bank.

Follow suit

- do as someone else has done, follow someoneís example, play a card of the same color and kind that another has put down

He followed suit and began to leave work early on Friday just as his boss was doing.

Follow through

- continue or finish an action that one has started

He said that he would help me paint my house but he has never followed through with his offer.

Follow up

- Make (one action) more successful by doing something more

He followed up his phone call in the morning with a visit in the afternoon.

Foot in the door

- An opening or opportunity

I finally got a foot in the door when they accepted my application.

Food for thought

- Something worth thinking about

I donít really agree with his proposal but at least it is food for thought.

Fool around
- spend time playing rather than working, waste time
If he would spend less time fooling around he would be able to get some work done.

Foot the bill
- pay
The company will foot the bill for his move to Chicago.

For all
- In spite of, even with
For all the time that he spends studying his marks are still very low.

For all one is worth
- As hard as one can
I will try for all I am worth to help you get the job at the supermarket.

For all the world
- For anything, for any price
For the entire world I do not know what he is trying to tell me with the notes that he writes.

For a song
- For very little money
He was able to buy his new car for a song.

For better or worse
- Depending on how one looks at the matter, with good or bad effects
For better or worse he has decided to quit his job and go to live in Brazil.

Force oneís hand
- make someone do something sooner than planned
I forced his hand and he told me what he planned to do about the new contract for our company.

For certain
- Without doubt, certainly, surely
It is for certain that he will not be playing in the game tonight.

For crying out loud
- used to show that you are surprised or angry
For crying out loud please turn your radio down a little.

For dear life
- As though afraid of losing oneís life
The mountain climber held on to the rock for dear life as he waited for someone to rescue him.

Forever and a day
- Forever, always
It took forever and a day to get the book that we ordered from the bookstore.

For good
- Permanently
He has decided to move to Los Angeles for good.

For keeps
- For always, forever
He told the boy that he could have the baseball bat for keeps.

Fork out
- pay, pay out
I had to fork out a lot of money to fix my car.

Fork over
- Hand over, give
The robber told me to fork over my money or he was going to shoot me.

For love or money
- By any means
We were unable to get him to agree to the proposal for love or money.

For once
- One time
For once he listened to what I said. Usually he ignores me.

For sure
- Without doubt, certainly, surely
I will go to the movie with you for sure next week.

For that matter
- About that, with regard to that
I donít want to go shopping with you and for that matter I donít want to go anywhere with you.

For the asking
- By asking, on request
You can get a free ticket to the concert for the asking from the front office.

For the birds
- Uninteresting, something you donít like
Doing the cleaning all day is really for the birds.

For the time being
- For now, for awhile
We really need a new car but for the time being weíll have to continue using the old one.

For the world
- Under any conditions
I would not want to sell my car for the world.

Foul up
- ruin or spoil by stupid mistake, go wrong
There was a problem with our tickets so our plans were all fouled up.

Frame of mind (good or bad)
- Oneís mental state
He made sure his boss was in a good frame of mind before he asked him for the time off.

Freak/freak out
- become angry or lose control of one
I freaked out when I discovered that my reservations had not been made.

Free and easy
- Informal
He has a free and easy attitude about his work.

Free hand
- Great freedom to do something
We had a free hand in designing the new sportís program for the university.

- accept food and housing at someone elseís expense
He was angry at his brother because he was always freeloading and never
worried about finding a job.

Freeze out
- keep from a share in something by unfriendly or dishonest treatment
They froze him out of the profits that they made on the sale of land.

From hand to hand
- From one person to another and another
The plate of food went from hand to hand until finally it was all finished.

From A to Z
- know everything about something
He knows about cars from A to Z.

From the bottom of oneís heart
- With great feeling, sincerely
I thanked him from the bottom of my heart for helping my daughter when she was sick.

From the heart
- Sincerely, honestly
He gave her some flowers with a message straight from his heart.

From now on
- From this moment forward
From now on I will study Italian every day.

From scratch
- From the very beginning
He decided to build the house from scratch.

From time to time
- Occasionally
We go to that restaurant from time to time.

From way back
- Since a long time ago, for a long time
I know him from way back. In fact we went to elementary school together.

- complete, having everything that is needed to be something
She became a full-fledged nurse before she went to Saudi Arabia to work for a year.

Full of beans
- In high spirits, energetic
She seems to be full of beans today. She must be excited about something.

Fun and games
- A very difficult task (used ironically)
It was all fun and games today when I wrote my two final exams.

Funny bone
- The place at the back of the elbow that tingles when hit
I hit my funny bone and it still hurts a little.

Last edited by Argus; Sunday, October 15, 2006 at 03:38 AM.
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Default Idioms(G-H)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get hold of (something)
- get possession of

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

Get hold of (someone)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get out of the way
- be no longer an obstacle

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

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

Get (something) over with

- Finish, end

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get the feel of

- become used to or learn about something

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

Get the goods on someone

- find out true and often bad information about someone

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

Get the message

- understand clearly what is meant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get under oneís skin
- bother someone, upset someone

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

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

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

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

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

Get up the nerve

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

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

Get wind of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Give chase
- chase or run after someone or something

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

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

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

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

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

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

Give one away

- Show guilt, show one has done wrong

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

Give one up

- Surrender, stop hiding or running away

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

Give one up to

- let oneself enjoy, not hold one back from

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

Give oneís right arm

- give something of great value

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

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

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

Give out

- fail

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

Give out

- be finished, be gone

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

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

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

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

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

Give someone an inch and they will take a mile

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

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

Give someone a piece of your mind

- scold or become angry with someone

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

Give someone enough rope and they will hang themselves

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

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

Give someone oneís word

- make a promise or assurance

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

Give someone the ax

- fire an employee (usually abruptly)

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

Give someone the benefit of the doubt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Give it your best shot
- try very hard

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

Give to understand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go for
- try to get, try for

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

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

Go from bad to worse

- get worse, deteriorate

Things are going from bad to worse in the company.


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

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

Go great guns

- do something very fast or very hard, successfully

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

Go halves

- share equally

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

Go haywire

- become damaged, stop working properly

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

Go in for

- decide to do (something), take part in

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

Going for (someone)

- In oneís favor

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

Go into orbit

- lose oneís temper, become very angry

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

Go jump in a lake

- go away and quit bothering someone

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

Golden opportunity

- Excellent and rare opportunity

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

Good deal

- Good quality and a cheap price

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

Good grief!

- used to show surprise (good or bad)

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

good riddance

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

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

good riddance to bad rubbish

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

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

good sport

- Person who loses well

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

Go off

- leave, depart

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

Go off

- explode, be ignited

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

Go off

- begin to ring or buzz

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go on
- put on, fit on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go through

- examine or think about carefully, search

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

Go through

- experience, suffer, and live through

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

Go through

- be allowed, pass, and be agreed upon

The law finally went through Congress last week.

Go through changes

- be involved in changing circumstances

She has been going through many changes since her divorce.

Go through with

- finish, do as planned or agreed

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

Go to oneís head

- become conceited

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

Go to pieces

- lose your self-control

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

Go to pot

- deteriorate

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

Go to rack and ruin

- reach a very bad state of repair

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

Go to town

- work fast or hard, do something with much energy

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

Go up in smoke/flames

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

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

Go without saying

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

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

Grasp at straws

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

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

Grass is always greener on the other side

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

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

Gravy train

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

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

Grease oneís palm

- give money or pay for some special favor

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

Greasy spoon

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

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


- be inexperienced or immature

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

Green thumb

- Skill in making plants grow

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

Green with envy

- Very jealous, full of envy

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

Grind to a halt

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

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

Ground floor

- The first or best chance - especially in a business

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

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

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

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

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

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

Had better

- should do something

Iíd better go now or Iíll be late for class.

Hair stand on end

- become frightened or afraid of something

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

Hale and hearty

- In very good health, well and strong

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


- Foolish

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

Half the battle

- A large part of the work

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

Hammer out

- remove; work out by discussion and debate

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

Hand down

- arrange to give something to someone after your death

My grandmother handed down her silver jeweler to my mother.

Hand in

- Give to someone, hand to someone

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

Hand it to (someone)

- give credit or praise to someone

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

Handle with kid gloves

- be very careful handling someone or something

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


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

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

Hand out

- give things of the same kind to several people

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


- A gift - usually from the government

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

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

Hand over

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

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

Hand over fist

- Rapidly

His new company is making money hand over fist.

(Oneís) hands are tied

- Unable to help

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

Hands down

- Easy, unopposed

They won the game hands down over the other team.

Hands off

- leave alone, donít interfere

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

Hand something to someone on a silver platter

- give a person something that has not been earned

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

Hand to mouth

- having only enough money for basic living

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

Handwriting on the wall

- A sign that something bad will happen

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


- can easily fix things

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

Hang around

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

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

Hang back

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

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

Hang by a thread

- be in doubt, depend on a very small thing

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

Hang in the balance

- have two equally possible results, be uncertain

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

Hang in (there)

- persevere, donít give up

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

Hang it!

- A rather old expression used to express annoyance or disappointment

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

Hang on

- continue

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

Hang on

- wait, continue listening on the telephone

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

Hang one on

- get very drunk

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

Hang on to

- hold tightly, keep firmly

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

Hang out

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

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

Hang out oneís shingle

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

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

Hang up

- Place on a hook, peg or hangar

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

Hang up

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

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


- A delay in some process

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


- An inhibition, a neurotic reaction to some life situation

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

Happy hour

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

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

Hard and fast rule

- Rules that cannot be altered to fit special cases

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

Hard as nails

- Physically very fit and strong, rough, stern

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

Hard feelings

- Anger or bitterness

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


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

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

Hard nut to crack

- A person or thing not easily understood or influenced

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

Hard on (someone/something)

- treat something/someone roughly

His son is very hard on shoes.

Hard pressed

- burdened with urgent business

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

Hard sell

- selling something very aggressively and with great eagerness

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

Hard up

- Short of money

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

Harp on

- talk repeatedly and tediously about something

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


- Bothersome

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

Hatchet man

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

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

Hate oneís guts

- feel very strong dislike for someone

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

Have a ball

- have a good time

She had a ball at the party last night.

Have a crush on

- be attracted to someone

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

Have a fit

- become upset

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

Have a go at

- try something especially after others have tried it

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

Have a hand in

- be partly responsible for something

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

Have a head on oneís shoulders

- be smart or sensible

That new salesman really has a head on his shoulders.

Have an edge on

- have an advantage (over someone)

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

Have an eye for

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

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

(Not) have anything to do with someone

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

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

Have a screw loose

- act in a strange way, be foolish

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

Have a time

- have trouble, have a hard time

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

Have a time

- have a good time, have fun

We really had a time at the party last night.

Have a way with

- be able to lead, persuade or influence others

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

Have a word with

- Converse briefly

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

Have been around

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

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

Have dibs on

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

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

Have egg on oneís face

- be embarrassed

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

Have eyes only for

- give all oneís attention to, be interested only in

She has eyes only for her boyfriend.

Have half a mind

- feel tempted or inclined to do something

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

Have had it (with someone or something)

- canít tolerate anymore

I have really had it with her constant complaining.

Have in mind

- intend, plan

What do you have in mind for your wifeís birthday?

Have it

- hear or get news, understand

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

Have it

- claim, say

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

Have it

- allow (usually used with will or would)

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

Have it

- get or find the answer

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

Have it both ways

- do two things, have both things

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

Have it coming

- deserve a punishment

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

Have it in for someone

- show ill will or dislike a person

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

Have it made

- be successful, have everything

He really has it made with his new job.

Have it out with someone

- settle or discuss something with someone angrily

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

Have on

- be wearing something

What did she have on when you last saw her?

Have oneís ass in a sling

- be in an uncomfortable predicament, be at a disadvantage

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

Have oneís eye on

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

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

Have oneís feet on the ground

- be practical or sensible

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

Have oneís heart set on something

- want something very much

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

Have over

- invite someone to your house

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

Have rocks in oneís head

- be stupid, not have good judgment

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

Have (something) going for one

- have ability, talent or good looks

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

Have something on someone

- have information or proof that someone did something wrong

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

Have something on the ball

- be smart, clever, and skilled

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

Have something up oneís sleeve

- Something kept secretly ready for the right time

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

Have sticky fingers

- be a thief

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

Have the last laugh

- make someone seem foolish for having laughed at you first

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

Have (got) to

- Obliged or forced to, must

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

Have to do with

- be about or on the subject or connected with something

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

Have two strikes against one

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

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


- Broken or confused

The plan went haywire when their directions became confused.

Head above water

- Out of difficulty, clear of trouble

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


- Search for qualified individuals to fill certain positions

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

Head in the clouds

- daydreaming

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

Head off

- get in front of and stop, turn back

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

Head off

- block, stop, prevent

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


- Front end to front end, with the front facing

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


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

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

Head out

- leave, start out

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

Head over heels

- Upside down, head first

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

Head over heels

- Completely, deeply

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

Head shirker

- Psychiatrist

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

Head start

- To leave or start something before others

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

Head up

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

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

Hear from

- receive a letter/phone call/news from someone

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

Heart goes out to someone

- One feels sympathy for someone

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

Heart is in the right place

- be kindhearted, sympathetic, have good intentions

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

Heart of gold

- A kind, generous or forgiving personality

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

Heart of stone

- Someone with a nature with no pity

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

Heart skips a beat

- be startled or excited from surprise, joy or fright

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

Heart stands still

- be very frightened or worried

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


- Honest or intimate

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

Heavy heart

- A feeling of sadness or unhappiness

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

Hedge in

- keep from getting out or moving freely, block in

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

Hell and high water

- Troubles or difficulties of any kind

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


- A short-tempered, nagging or crabby person

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


- In a confusing group, in disorder

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

Hem and haw

- avoid giving a clear answer, be evasive in speech

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

Here and now

- Immediately

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

Here and there

- In various places, go to various places

We went here and there during our holidays.

Here goes

- Ready to begin while hoping for the best

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

Here goes nothing

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

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

Hide (bury) oneís head in the sand

- keep from knowing something dangerous or unpleasant

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

High and dry

- stranded, out of the current of events

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

High and low

- Every place

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

High and mighty

- Arrogant

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

High gear

- Top speed, full activity

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


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

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

(The) high life

- A luxurious existence

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

High seas

- The ocean (away from the coast)

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

(Be in) high spirits

- have energy, be cheerful

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

High time

- The time before something should already have been done

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

Highway robbery

- An extremely high price for something

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

Hire out

- accept a job, take employment

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

Hire out

- rent to someone

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

Hit and miss

- Unplanned, uncontrolled, aimless, careless

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


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

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


- striking suddenly and leaving quickly

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

Hit bottom

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

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

Hitch oneís wagon to a star

- Aim high, follow a great ambition or purpose

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

Hither and thither

- In one direction and then in another

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

Hit it off with someone

- get along well with someone

We really hit it off at the party.

Hit on/upon

- find what you want or think of something by chance

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

Hit parade

- A list of songs arranged in order of popularity

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

Hit someone between the eyes

- make a strong impression on someone, surprise greatly

Her incredible performance really hit me between the eyes.

Hit the books

- study or prepare for class

He stayed home all weekend and hit the books.

Hit the bottle

- drink alcohol (usually a negative meaning)

She started to hit the bottle soon after her divorce.

Hit the bullís-eye

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

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

Hit the ceiling

- get angry

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

Hit the deck

- get up from bed, start working

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

Hit the dirt

- fall on the ground and take cover under gunfire

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

Hit the hay

- go to bed

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

Hit the high spots

- consider or mention only the more important parts of something

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

Hit the jackpot

- be very lucky or successful

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

Hit the nail on the head

- make a correct guess or analysis

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

Hit the road

- Leave - usually in a car

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

Hit the roof

- become very angry, go into a rage

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

Hit the sack

- go to bed

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

Hit the sauce

- Drink alcohol - usually heavily and regularly

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

Hit the spot

- refresh or satisfy

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

Hold a candle to

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

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

Hold a grudge

- Not forgive someone for something

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

Hold all the trump cards

- have the best chance of winning, have full control

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

Hold back

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

He always holds back during meetings and never says anything.

Hold court

- Act like a king or queen among their subjects

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

Hold down

- keep in obedience, keep control of

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

Hold down a job

- keep a job

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

Hold forth

- offer, propose

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

Hold forth

- speak in public, talk about

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

hold good

- continue, endure, last

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

hold off

- delay, not begin

The concert will be held off until next week.

hold off

- keep away by force

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

hold on

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

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

hold one`s breath

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

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

hold one`s fire

- keep back arguments or facts, keep from telling something

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

hold one`s horses

- stop and wait patiently

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

hold one`s own (in an argument)

- defend one`s position

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

hold one`s peace

- be silent and not speak against something, be still

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

hold one`s tongue

- keep quiet

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

hold on to

- continue to hold or keep, hold tightly

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

hold out

- reach out, extend

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


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

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

hold out for something

- refuse to give up, keep resisting

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

hold out on

- refuse something to a person

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

hold over

- extend the engagement of, keep longer

The movie was held over for another week.

hold something back

- keep information or something to or for oneself

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

hold still

- not move

Please hold still while I fix your jacket zipper.

hold the fort

- cope in an emergency, act as a temporary substitute

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

hold the line

- not yield to pressure or something

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

hold the reins

- be the most influential person

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

hold up

- lift, raise

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

hold up

- support, carry

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

hold up

- check, stop, delay

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

hold up

- rob at gunpoint

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

hold up

- keep up one`s courage or spirits

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

hold up

- remain good, not get worse

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

hold up

- prove true

Her story held up during the questioning by the police.


- a robbery

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

hold water

- be a sound idea

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

hole in the wall

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

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


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

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

holy cats

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

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

holy cow

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

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

holy mackerel

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

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

holy Moses

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

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

holy terror

- a very disobedient or unruly child

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

honeymoon is over

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

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


- a cheap night-club or dance hall

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

hook, line and sinker

- without question or doubt, completely

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

hook up

- connect or fit together

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


- a connection

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

hope against hope

- continue to hope when things look very bad

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

hop to it

- get started, start a job, get going

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

hopped up

- high on a drug or on alcohol

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

horn in on

- come in without an invitation or welcome, interfere

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

horse around

- play around, join in rough teasing

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

horse of a different color

- something altogether separate and different

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

horse sense

- good judgement, wisdom in making decisions

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

horse trade

- business agreement arrived at after hard negotiations

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

hot air

- nonsense, exaggerated talk

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

hot and bothered

- excited and worried, displeased

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

a hot potato

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

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

hot rod

- an automobile changed so that it can go very fast

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

hot water

- trouble

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

house of cards

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

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

how about

- will you have something or will you agree to something

How about some coffee before we go to work?

how about

- what is to be done about something

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

how about

- how do you feel about/think about something

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

how come

- why

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

how`s that

- what did you say

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

hue and cry

- an excited protest or alarm or outcry

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


- something kept secret or hidden, concealed

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

hush up

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

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

hush up

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

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


- have an excess of energy, be excited

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

Last edited by Argus; Sunday, October 15, 2006 at 03:36 AM.
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Default Idioms(I-J-K)

I................................................. ...............................................

idiot box

- television set

He sits in front of the idiot box all day and never gets any work done.

if the shoe fits, wear it

- if what is being said in general describes you then it probably means you

He was complaining that most of the workers at his company were lazy. However his friend looked at him and said that if the shoe fits, wear it.

if worst comes to worst

- if the worst possible thing happens

If worst comes to worst we can cancel our holiday and go next year.

ill at ease

- feel nervous/uncomfortable

He appeared to be ill at ease during the interview.

in a bind

- in trouble

hey will really be in a bind if they can`t sell their house by next month.

in advance

- ahead of time

They bought the tickets in advance so that they could get a good seat.

in a family way

- pregnant, going to have a baby

Our new secretary is in a family way and plans to take a few months off from work soon.

in a fog (haze)

- confused, not sure what is happening

He is always in a fog and never seems to know what is going on.

in a hole

- in some trouble, in an embarrassing or difficult position

He is really in a hole now that he has problems both at work and at home.

in a hurry

- a need to move or act quickly

He is very busy and always in a hurry.

in a jam

- in trouble

He is really in a jam now that his car is not working properly.

in a kind (sort) of way

- to a certain extent, a little, somewhat

I would like to go in a kind of way but still I don`t think that I will bother going today.

in and out

- coming in and going out often

He has been in and out all day but I don`t know where he is at the moment.

in a nutshell

- briefly

I tried to explain the problem to him in a nutshell but there still wasn`t enough time.

in any case (event)

- no matter what happens, surely, without fail

I may not be able to meet you next week but in any case I will still give you the books before then.

in a pig`s eye

- hardly, unlikely, not so

In a pig`s eye will I let him borrow my car next weekend.

in a pinch

- okay when nothing else is available

That other tool will do in a pinch if we can`t find the correct one.

in arms

- armed, ready to fight

They are all in arms since they found out about the wage decrease.

in a rush

- in a hurry

They got the job done in a big rush so I am a little worried about the quality.

in a rut

- always doing the same thing

She feels that she is in a rut after doing the same job for seven years.

in a spot

- in some trouble, in an embarrassing or difficult position

She is really in a tight spot right now since she was unable to enter university and also has no job.

in a way

- to a certain extent, a little, somewhat

In a way I would like to go but basically I don`t care.

in a word

- briefly, to sum up

In a word, the problem with the car is that it needs a new motor.

in a world of one`s own

- in deep thought or concentration, not caring about other people

He is always in a world of his own and doesn`t notice what other people say or think.

in black and white

- in writing

I want to get the information in black and white before I go to the meeting.

in cahoots with

- in secret agreement or partnership with someone

The supermarket was in cahoots with the vegetable producer to try and keep the prices high.

in case

- as a precaution, in order to be prepared

In case there is a fire, we keep our computer backup files in a fireproof safe.

in character

- as usual, typical, in the way that a person usually behaves

Supporting the other members of the staff is in character with her usual actions.

in charge

- in control or authority, responsible

He is charge of the sales department at his company.

in check

- under control, kept quiet or back

The violence was kept in check by the police department and the army.

in clover

- rich or successful, having a pleasant or easy life

They are in clover now that they have sold their business and retired.

in cold blood

- without feeling or pity, cooly and deliberately

The family was murdered in cold blood by the criminal gang.

in common

- shared together or equally, in use or ownership by all

We had to use the bathroom in common with the other people in the house.

in deep

- seriously mixed up in something like debt or trouble

He owes a lot of money and is in very deep with his new house and car.

in due course

- in the usual amount of time, at the right time

We will send the information to you in due course.

in fact

- actually, the truth is

He`s been to China before. In fact he`s been there three times.

in for

- unable to avoid, sure to get

He is in for a lot of trouble now that he is unable to finish his graduation essay.

in good time

- a little early, sooner than necessary

I will try and get the information to you in good time so that you will be able to decide what to do.

in hand

- under control

The teacher had the class in hand when the principal came to visit the classroom.

in hot water

- in trouble

I am in hot water over the extra expenses that I used during the conference.

in keeping with

- going well together, agreeing, similar

In keeping with our tradition of letting the visiting team kick first we will do it for this game as well.

in kind

- in a similar way, with the same kind of thing

We will pay them back in kind for the use of their sailboat.

in league with

- in secret agreement or partnership with someone

The union has been in league with management in trying to build the new factory.

in light of

- as a result of new information, because of

In light of his contribution to the company we decided to give him a large summer bonus.

in line

- doing or being what people expect or accept, within ordinary limits

It was difficult to keep the children in line at the picnic but somehow we managed.

in love

- liking very much, loving

He has been in love with his girlfriend ever since he met her in high school.

in luck

- having good luck, finding something good by chance

I think that we are in luck. I have found two tickets for the concert.

in memory of

- as a reminder of, as a memorial to

We decided to put our money together and buy a painting in memory of our grandfather.

in nothing flat

- quickly

I will have this information printed out for you in nothing flat.

in no time

- soon, quickly

I will have this done for you in no time and then you can go for lunch.

in on

- joining together for something

We went in on a present for our father for Father`s Day.

in on

- told about, having knowledge of

I was finally let in on the secret about why she left our company.

in one`s element

- in an environment or situation that comes naturally to someone

She is in her element being in charge of the new sales department.

in one`s face

- abruptly, unexpectedly

The plan blew up in our face just as we were ready to start.

in one`s good books (graces)

- approved of by someone, liked by someone

I have been in her good books since I helped her with her work last month.

in one`s hair

- annoying someone

She has been in my hair all morning because she is on her summer holiday starting this week.

in one`s mind`s eye

- in one`s imagination

In your mind`s eye try and imagine that you are on a nice sunny beach in Hawaii.

in one`s shell

- withdrawn, silent, not sociable

We have been trying to get her out of her shell but it is of no use. She doesn`t want to talk to anyone.

in one`s shoes

- in someone elses place or position

I wish that I was in his shoes with his great job and new car.

in one`s tracks

- abruptly, immediately, just where one is at the moment

I was forced to stop in my tracks when I saw the snake on the road.

in order to

- for the purpose of

We have decided to close down the school for the summer in order to do some major repairs.

in other words

- say something in a different (usually more direct) way

In other words if you don`t finish the assignment by Wednesday you will not pass the course.

in part

- to some extent, partly

I think the reason he is not golfing well this year is in part due to his problem with his back.

in point of fact

- really, truthfully

In point of fact there were not enough people at the meeting to vote on the proposal.

ins and outs

- all the details

He knows all the ins and outs of the new machine.

in seventh heaven

- very happy

I have been in seventh heaven since I started my new job.

in short supply

- not enough, in less than the amount or number needed

Chairs were in short supply so some of the guests had to sit on the floor.

inside and out

- in every part, completely

We looked through the room inside and out for my lost wallet.

inside out

- so that the inside is turned outside

She turned her purse inside out in order to look for her lost key.

inside track

- an advantage, shortest distance around a racetrack

I think that he has the inside track on getting the new job at the computer company.

in spite of

- in opposition to, despite

In spite of the terrible weather we went to the beach for a picnic.

instead of

- in place of

Let`s meet at the restaurant instead of the department store as we had planned.

in stitches

- laughing

They were in stitches over their teacher`s joke.

in stock

- having something ready to sell or use

The store didn`t have any computer discs in stock so we bought some over the Internet.

in store

- ready to happen, waiting

I don`t really know what the future has in store for me but I will be ready for anything.

in the air

- current, exerting an influence

It is in the air that we will be getting a new president next week.

in the bag

- certain, sure

The new contract will be in the bag if we put in a good proposal.

in the black

- have a credit balance, make a profit

The company has been in the black for over three years now.

in the cards

- to be expected, likely to happen, predictable

I think that a new company structure is in the cards but I can`t be sure.

in the charge of

- under the care or supervision of

She has been in the charge of her grandmother since her mother and father died.

in the clear

- with nothing to limit action, free of anything that makes moving or seeing difficult

We seem to be in the clear now so it should be safe to cross the road.

in the clear

- free of blame or suspicion

The police talked to the three boys for a few minutes but they seem to be in the clear now.

in the clouds

- far from real life, in dreams, in thought

He is usually in the clouds so you may have trouble finding out what you want to know from him.

in the course of

- during

In the course of his life he visited over 45 countries.

in the dark

- having no information about something

He is still in the dark about my plans to quit my job.

in the doghouse

- in trouble

He is in the doghouse with his wife after staying out drinking last night.

in the first place

- firstly, to begin with

Of course I can`t go. In the first place I must work on Saturday. In the second place I have no money.

in the groove

- at one`s best, doing something very well

We are finally getting in the groove and should be able to finish this job by early next week.

in the hole

- having a score lower than zero in a game, a score below zero

At the beginning of the card game I was in the hole but later I began to do well.

in the hole

- in debt, behind financially

Although he is always working he always seems to be in the hole

in the line of duty

- done or happening as part of a job

The police officer was killed in the line of duty during the bank robbery.

in the long run

- the distant future, in the end

For now he is losing money on his stocks but in the long run he should make money.

in the market for

- wanting or ready to buy something

I am in the market for a new computer as my old one is too slow.

in the red

- lose money, not make a profit

The company has been in the red for three years now.

in the saddle

- in command, in control

The president is back in the saddle again after being ill for several months.

in the same boat

- in a similar situation

We are all in the same boat now that our company has gone out of business.

in the soup

- in serious trouble, in disorder

She is in the soup now that she has had a big fight with her boss.

in the swim

- active in or knowing what is going on

He is definitely in the swim. He has information about everybody.

in the wake of

- as a result of, following

In the wake of the large number of people who have recently left our company we will need to hire some more people.

in the wind

- soon to happen, being planned

It is in the wind that they are planning to open a new store next year.

in the works

- in preparation, being planned or worked on

Don`t worry about whether or not we will be building the new computer lab. It is definitely in the works.

in the wrong

- wrong; against justice, truth or fact

The driver was in the wrong and was arrested by the police after the accident.

in time

- early enough

I didn`t come home in time to meet my cousin.

into thin air

- completely, without anything left

The group of hikers vanished into thin air and were never heard of again.

in touch
- talking or writing to each other, giving or getting news

We are still in touch even though we have been out of school for many years.

in tow

- being pulled

The truck had a trailer in tow when it went off the highway.

in tow

- being taken from place to place, along with someone

She spent the morning at the shopping center with her child in tow.

in tune

- going well together, in agreement, matching

We have been in tune with each other ever since we met at our high school graduation party.

in turn
- each following another

We went up to the front of the class in turn in order to pick up our diplomas.

in two shakes of a lamb`s tail

- quickly, in no time at all

I will have this finished in two shakes of a lamb`s tail and then I will give it to you.

in vain
- without effect, without success

We tried in vain to find a good job but it was impossible.

in view of

- after thinking about, because of

In view of the large number of people who have come I think that we will need a bigger room.

in with

- in friendship, favor or closeness with

I think that he was in with the wrong group of people when he was in high school.

iron out

- work out

We have ironed out all of our problems and are finally doing better.

irons in the fire

- things one is doing, projects with which a person is busy

Recently he has too many irons in the fire. That is why he has become sick.

itching palm
- a wish for money, greed

The guard at the border crossing has an itching palm so be careful of him.

J................................................. ................................................


- a person who can do many things

We gave him a job because we needed a jack-of-all-trades around the factory to look after the many repairs.

jack up

- raise prices

The gas station jacked up their prices during the snow storm.

jam on the brakes

- quickly put the brakes on in a car to stop

He jammed on the brakes and was able to avoid hitting the child.


- crowded, full

The train that we took this morning was jam-packed with people.

jazz up

- brighten up, add more noise or movement or color

They really jazzed up the community center for the party tonight.

John Doe

- name used for an unknown person

Why do the application forms use "John Doe" as the name of the person who is applying for something?

John Henry (John Hancock)

- signature

Please sign your John Henry here and we will process your order right away.


- new-comer

He`s a Johnny-come-lately and doesn`t really know what he is talking about.


- be at the right place when needed, right on time

He`s always Johnny-on-the-spot. Just when we need him he arrives.

jump all over someone

- criticize, scold, blame

As soon as I began to talk about my plans for the summer he jumped all over me.

jump at

- take or accept quickly and gladly

He jumped at the chance to go to Europe on company business.

jump bail

- run away and fail to come to trial and give up the money you have already paid to the court

He jumped bail and decided to go and live in a foreign country.

jump down someone`s throat

- criticize or become angry with someone

As soon as I reached the office he jumped down my throat over the missing file.

jumping-off place

- the starting place of a long trip

We gathered early in the morning at the jumping-off place for our trip to the mountains.

jump on someone

- scold, criticize, blame

Everyone jumped on him at the meeting because they were angry about the new schedules.

jump on the bandwagon (also get or climb on the bandwagon)

- join a popular activity

Everyone has jumped on the bandwagon to try and stop smoking in the workplace.

jump out of one`s skin

- be badly frightened

I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw him at the window.

jump the gun

- start before you should

He jumped the gun and started selling the tickets before he should.

jump through a hoop

- do whatever one is told to do, obey any order

He is always ready to jump through a hoop for his boss so he is not very popular with the other employees.

jump to conclusions

- make a quick conclusion without thinking

Please don`t jump to conclusions over who broke the computer.

just about

- nearly, almost

I waited just about one hour before the concert started.

just now

- this very moment, a minute ago

The accident happened just now. The police haven`t even arrived yet.

just so

- with great care, very carefully

She always makes sure that her hair is just so before she goes out.

just the same

- nevertheless

I told her not to come early but just the same she came early anyway.

just what the doctor ordered

- exactly what is needed or wanted

Having the extra day off from work was just what the doctor ordered and he was able to get his many errands finished.


kangaroo court

- a self-appointed group that decides how to punish someone who is supposed to have done something wrong

The men were convicted by the people in the town but it was like a kangaroo court and nobody agreed with the decision.

Katie bar the door

- get ready for trouble, a desperate situation is at hand

The gang arrived at the bar and were ready to come in and fight. Well, Katie bar the door.

keel over

- fall over and faint

Three of the members of the band suddenly keeled over because of the heat.

keel over

- turn upside down, tip over

The boat keeled over in the middle of the lake but everybody was safe.

keep after

- remind someone over and over

I always have to keep after her to do her job properly.

keep an eye on something or someone

- watch (as in take care of something)

Will you keep an eye on the baby while I go to the store.

keep a secret

- not tell a secret to others

I have been trying to keep a secret about her boyfriend for a long time now.

keep a stiff upper lip

- be brave, face trouble bravely

The prisoners tried hard to keep a stiff upper lip in spite of the hardships of the prison.

keep at

- persist with

He has decided to keep at his studies so I am sure he will succeed.

keep body and soul together

- keep alive, survive

It was very cold during the winter but somehow she was able to keep body and soul together and survived.

keep books

- keep records of money gained and spent, do the work of a bookkeeper

My first job was to keep books for a small company in my hometown.

keep down

- keep from progressing or growing, keep within limits, control

The students were told to keep down the noise as some of the other classes were having exams.

keep from

- prevent, refrain from

I love ice cream and couldn`t keep from eating three bowls.

keep good time

- work accurately (a clock)

My watch has not been keeping good time lately.

keep house

- look after a house or a household

She has been keeping house for her father while he is sick.

keep in touch

- talk or write to someone

I have always tried to keep in touch with my friends from high school.

keep on (doing something)

- continue

She is careless and keeps on making the same mistakes over and over.

keep one`s chin up

- be brave, be determined

Try and keep your chin up. Things will get better in the future.

keep one`s eye on the ball

- be watchful and ready

You should keep your eye on the ball or you will make a mistake.

keep one`s fingers crossed

- wish for good results in something one is doing

Please keep your fingers crossed that I will pass the exam.

keep one`s head

- stay calm when there is trouble or danger

He is a very good leader and always is able to keep his head during an emergency.

keep one`s head above water

- have the ability to pay one`s bills

He is having trouble keeping his head above water since his salary has decreased.

keep one`s mouth shut

- be or stay silent

I was very angry so I told him to keep his mouth shut. Later I had to apologize.

keep one`s nose clean

- stay out of trouble

He has been managing to keep his nose clean since he moved to the new town.

keep one`s nose to the grindstone

- work very hard

He has been keeping his nose to the grindstone recently and I haven`t had a chance to see him.

keep one`s own counsel

- keep one`s ideas and plans to oneself

He always keeps his own counsel and never really reveals his plans to anyone.

keep one`s shirt on

- calm down, keep from losing one`s temper or getting impatient

Try and keep your shirt on! Everything is going to be alright in a few minutes.

keep one`s wits about one

- stay calm when there is trouble or danger

Although there was a fire in the building he was able to keep his wits about him and help everybody to safety.

keep one`s word

- fulfill one`s promise

She never keeps her word so I don`t believe that she will come to the party.

keep pace

- go as fast, go at the same rate

It was difficult to keep pace with the other students but somehow I managed.

keep quiet

- remain silent

Could you all please keep quiet and listen to the instructor.

keep someone on

- allow someone to continue working for you

Although we have too many workers we have decided to keep him on until business improves.

keep tabs on

- watch or check, keep under observation

They have been keeping tabs on the spending of the sales department.

keep the ball rolling

- keep up an activity or action, not allow something that is happening to slow or stop

We should try to keep the ball rolling and get as much of our work done while everyone is still here.

keep the home fires burning

- keep things going as usual while someone is away

Don`t worry about anything. I will stay home and keep the home fires burning while you are on your holiday.

keep track of

- maintain a record

Please carefully keep track of your expenses during the trip.

keep (someone) up

- prevent someone from going to bed

They kept me up last night with their noisy radio.

keep time

- show the right time

My new watch keeps perfect time so I am very happy.

keep time

- keep the beat, keep the same rhythm

It is difficult for him to keep time with the other members of the band but at least he tries.

keep under one`s hat

- keep secret, not tell

He won`t say where he is going for his holiday. He wants to keep it under his hat.

keep up appearances

- keep an outward show of prosperity or good behavior

They have been trying to keep up appearances even though he has lost his job.

keep up

- go on, not stop, continue

He is working hard to keep up the same level of production as last year.

keep up

- keep something at the same level or rate or in good condition

He spends a lot of time trying to keep up the garden of his house.

keep up with

- go at the same speed as a person or thing, maintain the same rate of progress

I can`t keep up with the rest of the class.

keep up with the news

- keep informed

He reads the newspaper every morning in order to keep up with the news.

keep up with the Joneses

- try to be the same as your neighbors

He always worries about keeping up with the Joneses and is always frustrated.

kettle of fish

- something to be considered, how things are

That`s a totally different kettle of fish. We should talk about it another time.

keyed up

- excited, nervous

I was all keyed up after we won the game and I couldn`t go to sleep.

kick around

- treat badly, act roughly or badly to someone or something

I don`t like her very much because she is always kicking other people around.

kick around

- lie around in a place

I was tired on Saturday so I stayed home and kicked around in the morning.

kick back

- relax and do nothing

I`m going to kick back this evening and stay home and watch television.


- money paid illegally for favorable treatment

The construction company gave the politician some illegal kickbacks in order to win the contract.

kick off

- begin, launch, start

The department store kicked off their summer sale early Saturday morning.


- a start

The kick-off for the no smoking campaign will start next week.

kick oneself

- regret

I kicked myself for not applying for the job sooner.

kick out

- make someone go or leave, get rid of, dismiss

He was kicked out of school when he was 15 years old because of his bad behavior.

kick over

- a motor begins to work

At first the engine wouldn`t start because it was too cold but finally it kicked over.

kick over

- pay, contribute

I was forced to kick over a lot of money for the motor for my car.

kick the bucket

- die

The man who used to clean the walls at the factory kicked the bucket last week.

kick the habit

- stop a bad habit like smoking or taking drugs

He has been trying to kick his smoking habit for years.

kick up a fuss

- make trouble, make a disturbance

I didn`t think that it would be a big problem but he really kicked up a fuss when I told him about the accident.

kick up one`s heels

- have a good time, celebrate

We really kicked up our heels at the Christmas party that we attended last week.

kill off

- kill or end completely, destroy

The pollution in the river has killed off all of the fish.

kill the goose that layed the golden egg

- spoil something that is good or something that one has by being greedy

He was always complaining about his job but now it is gone. He has killed the goose that layed the golden egg.

kill two birds with one stone

- accomplish two things with one action

He was able to kill two birds with one stone by going to the meeting.

knock about

- travel without a plan, go where one pleases

We decided to go to Brazil and knock about for a couple of months.

knock it off

- stop doing something, quit

Please knock it off. You are going to hurt yourself if you are not careful.

knock off

- murder someone

The owner of the shop was knocked off in the robbery last week.

knock off one`s feet

- surprise or shock someone so much that he does not know what to do

When they announced that I had won the prize it knocked me off my feet.

knock one`s block off

- hit someone very hard, beat someone up

He was very angry and threatened to knock anyone`s block off who came near him.

knock one`s head against the wall

- waste time trying to do something with no success

They have been knocking their head against the wall for years trying to find a solution to the problem.

knock oneself out

- make a great effort

They really knocked themselves out trying to make the party successful.

knock on wood

- knock on something made of wood to keep from having bad luck

I don`t think that I will lose my job - knock on wood.


- a very beautiful woman

The man said that the woman he saw at the bus stop was a real knockout.

knock out

- make unconscious, unworkable or unusable

The storm last night knocked out power in most of the town.

knock the living daylights out of someone

- make someone unconscious

The man knocked the living daylights out of his friend during the fight.

know by heart

- memorize

I learned the poem by heart.

(not) know if one is coming or going

- not know what to do

The new sales manager doesn`t seem to know if he is coming or going.


- a person who acts as if they know everything

He is a know-it-all and nobody likes to be around him.

(not) know the first thing about something

- lack basic knowledge about something

He doesn`t know the first thing about computers.

know which side one`s bread is buttered on

- know who can help one and try to please him, know what is good for oneself

He is careful not to make his boss angry. He knows which side his bread is buttered on.

knuckle down

- begin to work earnestly

I think it is time that we knuckle down and finally finish this project.

knuckle under

- yield, submit

The union finally knuckled under the pressure and ended the strike.

Last edited by Argus; Sunday, October 15, 2006 at 03:32 AM.
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Default Idioms(L-M-N)

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

labor of love

- something done for personal pleasure and not for money

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

lady killer

- a man who some women find very charming and attractive

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

lady`s man

- a man who is popular with women

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

laid up

- be confined to bed or unfit for work

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

lame duck

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

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

land on one`s feet

- come out of a bad situation successfully

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

lap up

- eat or drink with the tongue

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

lap up

- take in eagerly

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

lash out

- try suddenly to hit someone

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

lash out

- attack someone with words

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

last but not least

- in the last place but not the least important

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

last straw

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

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

last word

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

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

laugh off

- not take seriously

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

(not) lay a finger on someone

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

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

lay an egg

- fail to win the interest or favor of an audience

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

lay away

- save

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

layaway plan

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

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

lay down the law

- tell someone what to do using your power or influence

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

lay eyes on

- see

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

lay hands on something

- get hold of or find something

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

lay hands on someone

- do violence to, harm, hurt

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

lay hold of

- get possession of

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

lay in

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

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

lay (light) into

- attack physically, do (eat) something with energy

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

lay (light) into

- attack with words

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

lay it on the line

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

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

lay it on thick

- praise someone too much

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

lay low

- hide, keep out of sight for awhile

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

lay off (someone)

- get rid of workers when business is bad

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

lay off

- stop bothering, leave alone

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

lay off

- stop using or taking (drugs/cigarettes)

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

lay one`s cards on the table

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

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

lay out

- spend or pay some money

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

lay out

- plan something

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

lay over

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

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

lay to rest

- get rid of, put away permanently, stop

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

lay up

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

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

lay up

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

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

lay waste

- destroy and leave in ruins, wreck

The army troops laid waste to the enemy territory.

lead a dog`s life

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

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

lead a merry chase

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

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

lead by the nose

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

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

lead off

- begin, start, open

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

lead on

- insincerely encourage

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

lead the way

- go before and show how to go somewhere, guide

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

lean on

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

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

learn the ropes

- learn how to do a job

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

leave a bad taste in one`s mouth

- leave a bad impression, make one feel disgusted

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

leave alone

- don`t disturb someone

lease leave me alone so I can finish this essay.

leave behind

- leave something somewhere

I left my coat behind in the restaurant.

leave hanging (in the air)

- leave undecided or unsettled

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

leave (someone) holding the bag

- leave someone else to take the blame

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

leave in the lurch

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

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

leave no stone unturned

- try in every way, do everything possible

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

leave out

- omit

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

leave (let) well enough alone

- be satisfied with something that is good enough

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

left-handed compliment

- an ambiguous compliment interpreted as offensive

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

leg man

- someone who performs messenger services, an errand boy

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

leg to stand on

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

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

leg work

- physical work

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

let alone

- certainly not

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

let bygones be bygones

- forget about problems that happened in the past

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

let down

- fail to do as well as expected, disappoint

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

let down easy

- refuse or say no to someone in a pleasant way

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

let down one`s hair

- relax, act freely and naturally

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

let (something) go

- pay no attention to, neglect

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

let go

- allow something to pass, do nothing about something

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

let go

- discharge from a job, fire

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

let go of

- release

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

let grass grow under one`s feet

- be idle, be lazy, waste time

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

let (someone) have it

- hit someone hard

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

let it all hang out

- not to disguise anything, let the truth be known

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

let it lay

- forget it, leave it alone

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

let it rip

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

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

let loose

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

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

let (someone) know

- tell, inform

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

let off

- discharge (a gun), explode

The children let off many firecrackers during the festival.

let off steam

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

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

let (someone) off the hook

- excuse someone from a penalty or promise

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

let on

- reveal, inform

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

let on

- try to make people believe something, pretend

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

let out

- allow to go out or escape

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

let out

- allow to be known, tell

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

let out

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

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

let out

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

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

let (something) ride

- continue without changing a situation

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

let sleeping dogs lie

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

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

let the cat out of the bag

- reveal a secret

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

let the chips fall where they may

- don`t worry about the results of your actions

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

let up

- become less or weaker, become slower or stop

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

let up

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

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

lie in state

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

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

lie in wait

- watch from hiding in order to attack or surprise someone

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

lie low

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

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

life of Riley

- a soft easy life, pleasant way of living

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

lift a finger (hand)

- do something, do one`s share, help

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

light up

- suddenly look pleased and happy

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

like father, like son

- a son usually acts like his father

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

like a ton of bricks

- strongly or forcefully

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

like crazy

- very fast, with great energy

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

like hell

- with much effort and energy, not so, untrue

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

like mad

- very fast, with great energy

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

like water off a duck`s back

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

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

line up

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

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

line up

- adjust correctly

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

line up

- arrange, make ready for action

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

lip service

- support shown by words only and not by action

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

little by little

- gradually

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

little frog in a big pond

- an unimportant person in a large group or organization

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

little pitchers have big ears

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

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

live down

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

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

live from hand to mouth

- live on little money

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

live high on the hog

- live very luxuriously or comfortably

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

live it up

- have a good time

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

live out of a suitcase

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

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

live up to

- come up to, agree with, act according to

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

living end

- great, fantastic, the ultimate

She said that her new boyfriend was the living end.


- have lots of money

His new boss is really loaded.

lock the barn door after the horse is stolen

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

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

lock up

- to be assured of success

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

long face

- a sad look, a disappointed look

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

long haul

- a long distance or trip

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

long haul

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

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

long shot

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

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

look after someone

- take care or attend to someone

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

look a gift horse in the mouth

- complain if a gift is not perfect

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

look at the world through rose-colored glasses

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

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

look down one`s nose at someone or something

- show your dislike of someone or something

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

look down on someone

- regard with contempt or a feeling of superiority

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

look for

- think likely, expect

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

look for

- try to find, search for, hunt

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

look forward to something

- anticipate with pleasure

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

look in on

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

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

look into

- investigate or check something

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

look like a million dollars

- look well and prosperous, appear healthy and happy

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

look like the cat that ate (swallowed) the canary

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

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

look on

- be a spectator

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

look out

- take care, be careful, be on guard

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

look out

- be alert or watchful, keep looking for something

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

look out

- provide protection and care

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

look over something

- inspect, survey or examine

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

look to

- attend to, get ready for, take care of

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

look to

- go for help to, depend on

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

look (something) up

- search for something in a dictionary or other book

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

look (someone) up

- seek and find

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

look up to

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

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

loose ends

- without something definite to do

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

lord it over

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

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

lose face

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

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

lose ground

- go backward, become weaker, not improve

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

lose heart

- become discouraged

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

lose one`s marbles

- go crazy or act irrationally

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

lose one`s shirt

- lose a lot of money

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

lose one`s way

- become lost

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

lose one`s temper

- become angry

He lost his temper when the child broke the dish.

lose out

- fail to win, miss first place in a contest

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

lose sight of

- forget, fail to see

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

lose touch with

- fail to keep in contact or communication with someone

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

lose track of

- lose contact with someone (or something)

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


- a noisy, boastful or foolish talker

He is a loudmouth and nobody at work likes him.

louse up

- throw into confusion, make a mess of, spoil

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

lover`s lane

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

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


- the inside facts of a matter, the total truth

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

luck out

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

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

lucky star

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

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

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

mad as a hornet

- very angry

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

main drag

- the most important street in a town

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

make a beeline for something

- hurry directly somewhere

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

make a bundle

- make a lot of money

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

make a day of it

- do something all day

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

make a dent in

- make progress

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

make a difference

- cause a change in a situation

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

make a go of

- succeed, produce good results

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

make a hit

- be successful

Her cake made a big hit at the party.

make a killing

- make a large amount of money

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

make a living

- earn enough money to live

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

make a mistake

- make an error

He made a mistake on the math test.

make a mountain out of a molehill

- make a big problem out of a small one

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

make a name for oneself

- become well-known or famous

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

make a pass at someone

- make romantic advances to a member of the opposite sex

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

make a point of

- do or say something with a definite intent

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

make a run for it

- dash for safety, make a speedy escape

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

make away with

- take, carry away

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

make believe

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

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

make do with something

- substitute one thing for another

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

make ends meet

- be able to live on the money one has

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

make eyes at

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

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

make for

- go toward, start in the direction of

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

make friends

- form friendships with people or animals

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

make fun of

- ridicule

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

make good

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

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

make hay while the sun shines

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

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

(can`t) make head nor tail of something

- understand, find meaning in something

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

make it up to someone

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

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

make light of

- treat as of little importance, minimize

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

make of something

- interpret, think of

What do you make of the new manager in accounting.

make merry

- have fun, laugh and celebrate

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

make no bones about something

- make no secret, not keep from talking about something

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

make one`s bed and lie in it

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

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

make one`s blood boil

- make someone very angry

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

make one`s hair stand on end

- frighten, horrify

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

make one`s own way

- rely on one`s own abilities

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

make one`s mouth water

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

Looking at the menu made my mouth water.

make oneself at home

- act as if you were at home

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

make oneself felt

- use one`s authority

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

make oneself scarce

- leave quickly, go away

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

make out

- do, progress

How did you make out at your job interview yesterday?

make out

- understand, interpret

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

make out

- distinguish, identify

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

make out

- make someone believe, show, prove

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

make over

- make something look different, change the style of

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

make room for someone or something

- arrange space for

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

make sense

- seem reasonable

His proposal makes absolutely no sense.

make short work of something

- finish quickly

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

make something out

- manage to see or read something

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

make something up

- invent (a story etc.)

He made up the story about his lost wallet.

make the best of

- do as well as possible in a bad situation

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

make the grade

- make good, succeed, meet a standard, qualify

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

make the most of

- use to the greatest advantage

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

make the scene

- be present, go to a certain place or event

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

make time

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

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

make up

- make something by putting things or parts together

A car is made up of many different parts.

make up

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

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

make up

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

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

make up

- put on cosmetics

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

make up

- become friends again after a quarrel

They finally made up after their fight last week.

make up for something

- compensate for a loss or mistake

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

make up one`s mind

- decide

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

make waves

- create a disturbance

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

make way

- stand aside, move so someone can go through

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

man in the street

- the average or ordinary person

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


- frank or direct

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

mark time

- move one`s feet up and down to music

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

mark time

- be idle, waiting for something to happen

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


- be important

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

matter of course

- the usual way, habit, rule

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

matter of fact

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

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


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

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

mean business

- be serious, ready to take action

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

measure up

- be equal, be of high quality

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

meet someone half-way

- make a compromise with someone

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

meet up with

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

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

melt in one`s mouth

- taste very good, be delicious

The pastry that she made melted in my mouth.

mend one`s fences

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

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

mend one`s ways

- improve one`s habits

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

mess around

- play around, engage in idle activity

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

mess up

- cause trouble, spoil something

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

middle of the road

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

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

mind one`s P`s and Q`s

- be very careful about what one does or says

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

Mind you.

- I want you to notice and understand.

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

miss out on

- lose an opportunity

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

miss the boat

- lose an opportunity

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

might as well

- be somewhat preferable

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

mix up

- confuse, make a mistake about

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


- an error, some confusion

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

(get or become) mixed up

- become confused

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

money to burn

- have very much money, have more than is needed

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

monkey business

- comical or silly actions, goofing off

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

monkey business

- unethical, illegal or objectionable activity, cheating

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

more and more

- increasingly, increasing number

More and more people are buying computers for their homes.

more or less

- somewhat, to some extent

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

more the merrier

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

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

morning after (the night before)

- a hangover

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

(not) move a muscle

- don`t move even a small amount

The doctor told him not to move a muscle when he was fixing his leg.

move heaven and earth

- try every way, do everything one can

I will move heaven and earth to help you get a job with our company.

move in on

- take over something that belongs to another

He was angry because the other salesman was moving in on his sales territory.

mum`s the word

- say nothing of the secret you know

Don`t worry mum`s the word on the party. I won`t tell anybody.

musical chairs

- the transfer of a number of officers in an organization into different jobs - especially each other`s jobs

They seem to be playing a game of musical chairs at the company as many people move from one position to another position.

music to one`s ears

- something one likes to hear

When he told me that I could go to the sales convention in the summer it was music to my ears.

my goodness (my God)

- used to express surprise or shock etc.

"My goodness," she said when she saw the small dog jump over the fence.


nail down
- make certain, make sure

I am trying to nail down the exact time that he will be able to meet with us.

name is mud

- a person`s reputation becomes bad, one is in trouble

His name is mud now that he has been charged by the police with stealing money from his company.

name of the game

- the main part of a matter

The name of the game is for the salesmen to sell cars and not to worry about other things.

name someone after

- give someone another`s name

He was named after his mother`s grandfather.

narrow escape

- an escape with no chance of error

He had a narrow escape when he almost fell from his bicycle.

neck and neck

- equal or nearly equal in a race or contest

The two teams were neck and neck in the race to win the national championship.

neck of the woods

- an area or part of the country

He has never been down to my neck of the woods since he was a child.

needle in a haystack

- something that is very hard to find

Looking for the lost receipt among the thousands of other receipts is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

neither fish nor fowl

- something that does not belong to a definite group

I don`t know where we should put those books in the library. They are neither fish nor fowl.

neither here nor there

- not relevant to the thing being discussed, off the subject

What you are saying is neither here nor there. We are talking about our plans to move this year - not 5 years in the future.

nervous Nellie

- a timid person who lacks determination and courage

He is a nervous Nellie and is afraid of most of the other students in the school.

nest egg

- money someone has saved up

He has a nice nest egg in the bank so he will have no financial problems if he leaves his company.

never mind

- don`t worry, don`t bother

If you don`t have time to pick up my laundry, never mind I will get it tomorrow.

new blood

- fresh energy or power, something or someone that gives new life or vigor to something

She a great employee and helped us to inject new blood into our organization.

new broom sweeps clean

- a new person makes many changes

We discovered the truth to the expression "a new broom sweeps clean" when our new boss changed everything in our organization.

new deal

- a complete change, a fresh start, another chance

He was given a new deal by the team although the previous year he was not very good.

new person

- a person who has become very much better

He is a new person now that he has quit smoking and quit drinking.

nick of time

- at the very last moment

He was able to board the airplane just in the nick of time.

nip and tuck

- evenly matched, hard fought to the finish

They were going along nip and tuck but he finally won the race in the end.

nip in the bud

- prevent at the start

They found out about the computer problem but were able to nip the problem in the bud.

no bed of roses

- difficult or bad situation

It is no bed of roses to have no job and a large family to support.

nobody's home

- one`s attention is somewhere else, having a simple mind

It looks like nobody`s home, I thought as I tried to have a conversation with the strange man.

nobody`s fool

- a smart person, a person who can take care of himself

She is nobody`s fool. You will not have to worry about her at all when she goes to New York.

no cigar

- not agreed to, refused or useless, no, certainly not

I almost got the job but in the end it was no cigar.

no deal

- not agreed to, refused or useless, no, certainly not

It was no deal I realized as I left the meeting and the other members had all said no to my plan.

No dice.

- No. Certainly not.

No dice. I will never lend you that much money.

no doubt

- without doubt, surely, certainly

No doubt he will be the one to win the contest again this year.

no end

- almost without stopping, continually

The little girl cried no end when she couldn`t find her favorite doll.

no end to (of)

- so many or so much of, to seem almost endless, very many or very much

He had no end of problems when he lived overseas for a year.

no go

- not agreed to, refused or useless, no, certainly not

It`s no go for our plan to have three games this weekend. We can only have two of them.

no great shakes

- mediocre, unimportant

The hotel was no great shakes and I wouldn`t recommend that you stay there if you go to Hawaii.

no love lost

- bad feelings, ill will

There is no love lost between my father and our next door neighbor.

no matter

- regardless of

No matter how hard that I try my tutor is never satisfied.

no picnic

- not pleasant, difficult

It was no picnic trying to drive to the lake during the storm.

nose around (about)

- look for something kept private or secret, pry

The secretary was nosing around in her boss's desk trying to discover what was going on.

nose down

- head down, bring down the nose of

The pilot began to nose down the plane as it neared the airport.

(have one`s) nose in something

- unwelcome interest in something, impolite curiosity

He always has his nose in other people`s private business where it doesn`t belong.


- a person who makes a reservation for something and then neither comes nor cancels it

There were several no-shows at the concert last night.

no sweat

- easily accomplished, uncomplicated

The work was no sweat. I finished it in about two hours.

no sweat

- no problem

No sweat. I will help you all day tomorrow if you need me.

not a leg to stand on

- no good proof or excuse, no good evidence or defence to offer someone

The company doesn`t have a leg to stand on if they try to refuse to pay you the money that they owe you.

not for the world

- not at any price, not for anything

I wouldn`t go out on a date with that woman for the world.

not give someone the time of day

- dislike someone so strongly that you totally ignore them

I hate her and would never even give her the time of day.

nothing doing

- I will not do it, certainly not, no indeed

Nothing doing. I am not going to stay and work late again this evening.

nothing if not

- without doubt, certainly

He is nothing if not punctual. He has never been late in his seven years with this company.

not much of

- rather bad

It`s not much of a hotel but I guess it will be okay for one night.

Not on your life.

- definitely not.

"May I borrow your car"? "Not on your life".

not so hot

- not very good

I have been feeling not so hot lately as I had a cold last week.

nothing to sneeze at

- something you should take seriously

His new salary is nothing to sneeze at.

not touch something with a ten-foot pole

- consider something completely undesirable or uninteresting

That class may be alright but because I hate the professor I wouldn`t touch it with a ten-foot pole.

no wonder

- not surprising

No wonder he is so tired after staying up all night.

now and then

- occasionally

He likes to go to that restaurant now and then.

number one

- oneself, one`s own interests

He is always looking out for number one and will never do anything for anyone else.

nurse a grudge

- keep a feeling of dislike toward some person

My old girlfriend is still nursing a grudge toward me even after three years.

nuts about

- enthusiastic about something

He has been nuts about cars ever since he was a little boy.

nutty as a fruitcake

- very crazy

The woman who lives next door to us is as nutty as a fruitcake.

Last edited by Argus; Sunday, October 15, 2006 at 03:28 AM.
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Old Tuesday, May 17, 2005
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Default Idioms(O-P-Q)



- a person who doesn`t act like everyone else

He is an oddball and nobody at his company likes to work with him.

odds and ends

- various items

We made games for the children from odds and ends from around the house.

of age

- old enough to be allowed to do something (vote,drink etc.)

When he came of age we had a big party for him to celebrate.

of age

- fully developed, mature

Fast transportation came of age when the first jets began to be used regularly.

of course

- as one would expect

Of course you can use my car if you want to.

off and on

- occasionally

He`s been seeing the woman off and on but I don`t think that their relationship is very serious.

off balance

- not prepared, unable to meet the unexpected

I was caught a little off balance when he asked me to deliver the speech instead of him.

off base
- inaccurate

He was really off base on his estimate of next year`s budget.


- nonconventional, different from the usual

The movie was very offbeat which is just the kind of movie that I like.


- different from the usual pattern, not quite like most others, odd

The picture was off-center and didn`t really fit in with the rest of the photos.


- in bad taste, not polite, dirty

He likes to tell off-color jokes which most people don`t like at all.

off duty
- not working, having free time

The police officer was off duty when he came across the bank robbery.

off guard
- not alert to the unexpected

It caught me off guard when she suddenly asked me to lend her $800.

off one`s back

- stop from bothering someone

I wish he would get off my back and stop always asking me when I am going to look for another job.

off one`s chest

- talk about a problem to someone so that it doesn`t bother you anymore

I finally talked to my friend from work and was able to get some of my problems off my chest.

off one`s hands

- no longer in one`s care or possession

I sold my old computer and finally got it off my hands.

off one`s high horse

- not acting proud and scornful

We got him off his high horse when he was forced to admit that he had made many mistakes related to the new product launch.

off one`s rocker

- crazy

He must be off his rocker if he thinks that he can spend all that money and not have a problem.

off the beam

- wrong, mistaken

What he said about the new office was right off the beam and should be ignored by everyone.

off the beaten track

- not well known or often used, unusual

We went to a small restaurant off the beaten track last night and liked it very much.

off the cuff

- without preparing ahead of time what one will say, without preparation

He made a few remarks off the cuff but he has never really explained in full what he wants to do.

off the hook

- out of trouble or free from an embarrassing situation

I think that I am off the hook now and won`t have to worry about the problem anymore.

off the record

- privately, unofficially

He told the reporters off the record about the problems with the budget estimate.

off the top of one`s head

- from memory, spontaneously

He knew all of the team`s members off the top of his head.

off the wagon

- begin to drink alcohol again after stopping for awhile

He seems to be off the wagon again. I saw him yesterday and I am sure that he had been drinking.

(as) old as the hills

- very old

The old building at the library is as old as the hills.

old hat

- old-fashioned, not new or different

The job has become old hat and I am becoming a little tired of it.

on a dime

- in a very small space

His new car has very powerful brakes and is able to stop on a dime.

on again, off again (off again, on again)

- not settled, changeable, uncertain

The plans for the fireworks display were on again, off again because of the rainy and windy weather.

on and off

- intermittently, now and then

It has been raining on and off since early this morning.

on and on

- continually, at tedious length

The speech continued on and on until we finally left the gathering.

on an even keel

- in a well-ordered way or condition

We finally got the new department running on an even keel although it took a long time.

on a shoestring

- with very little money

He started the new company on a shoestring.

on behalf of

- representing a person

The lawyer went to the meeting on behalf of his client.

on board

- on a ship, plane or similar form of transportation

We had to get on board the airplane before it was able to take off.

on call

- available to be called out on duty

He works as a computer repair man and is always on call which is very tiring.

once and for all

- permanently

I told him once and for all that I would not take the new job.

once in a blue moon

- rarely

I only go to that restaurant once in a blue moon.

once in a while

- occasionally

We like Japanese food so we go to that restaurant once in a while.

once or twice

- a few times

We went to that restaurant once or twice but we quickly became tired of it.


- a quick look or examination of someone or something

He gave the rental car a once-over before he signed the contract.

on cloud nine

- very happy

She has been on cloud nine ever since she decided to get married last month.

on easy street

- having enough money to live comfortably

He has been on easy street since he sold his house and invested the money.

on edge

- be nervous or irritable

He has really been on edge lately because of his exams.

on end

- seemingly endless

We worked for hours on end last night but we still never finished the job.

on faith

- without question or proof

I took it on faith that he would help me when I had a lot of extra work to do.

on guard

- careful, wary

He has been keeping on guard since the accident last month.

on hand

- available

I`m sorry but I don`t have any aspirin on hand at the moment.

on hand

- nearby, within reach

Please keep your dictionary on hand in case we need to use it.

on hand

- present

The speaker will be on hand after the lecture if you have any questions that you want to ask her.

on ice

- away for safekeeping or later use, aside

The city decided to put the plans for a new stadium on ice until they can raise more money..

on one`s back

- making insistent demands of someone, being an annoyance or bother

She has been on my back all week trying to get me to finish my monthly report.

on one`s chest

- worrisome thoughts or feelings that one might need to share with someone else

I had a long talk with my friend last night and was able to get most of my problems off my chest.

on one`s coat-tails

- along with someone else, as a result of someone else doing something

The mayor was elected on the coat-tails of his brother who was a famous singer.

on one`s feet

- recovering from sickness or trouble

I was sick for a couple of weeks but now I am on my feet again.

on/upon one`s head

- on one`s self

He brought the anger on his own head and should not try and blame someone else.

on one`s high horse

- acting as if one is better than others, being very proud and scornful

He is always up on his high horse and never bothers to think about how other people feel.

on one`s/its last legs

- at the end of someone/something`s strength or usefulness

I think that his old car is on its last legs.

on one`s shoulders

- one`s responsibility

Please don`t try to put the failure of his marriage on my shoulders.

on one`s toes

- be alert

He always asks the students many questions to keep them on their toes.

on pins and needles

- excited, nervous

Her daughter has been on pins and needles all day waiting for the contest to begin.

on purpose

- intentionally

I think that she spilled the drink on purpose.

on shaky ground

- unstable, not secure

His position at the company has been on shaky ground for quite some time.

on the air

- broadcasting or being broadcast on radio or TV

That television program has been on the air for over three years now.

on the ball

- intelligent, able to do things well

He is really on the ball and can usually get all of his work done quickly.

on the bandwagon

- the newest popular group or activity, joining something because many others are doing it

Everybody in our company is on the bandwagon now to try and eliminate smoking in the workplace

on the beam

- doing well, just right or correct

What he said about the tax problem was right on the beam. .

on the blink

- not working

My stereo has been on the blink for the last few months.

on the block

- to be sold, for sale

Our house has been on the block for over a month now.

on the button

- exactly on time

I arrived for the meeting right on the button.

on the dole

- receiving welfare

The area is very poor and there are many people on the dole.

on the dot

- right on time

He always arrives for his meetings on the dot.

on the edge of one`s seat

- nervously and excitedly waiting

I have been on the edge of my seat all day while waiting for the contest to begin.

on the go

- busy running around

He has been on the go since early morning trying to get ready for the meeting.

on the house

- provided free by a business - especially a bar or restaurant

The room at the hotel was not ready when we arrived so they provided us with free drinks on the house.

on the level

- honest

He was really on the level with me when he told me about my job possibilities.

on the loose

- free to go, not shut in or stopped by anything

The animals at the zoo were on the loose for over three hours when the zookeeper discovered their escape.

on the make

- trying to get some advantage - money or sexual etc.

Be careful of him. He is on the make and will try and cheat you out of your money.

on the mend

- healing, becoming better

He broke his leg last week but it is on the mend now.

on the move

- moving around from place to place, in motion

She is in Europe and has been on the move for several months now.

on the nose

- just right, exactly

What he said about our new boss was right on the nose.

on the other hand

- looking at the opposite side of a matter

He is very intelligent but on the other hand he is very lazy and always gets low marks.

on the Q.T.

- secretly, without anyone knowing

I don`t want anyone to know about my plans so let`s go over them on the Q.T.

on the road

- travelling (especially as a salesman or performer)

Her husband is a salesman and is often on the road.

on the rocks

- breaking up (relationship), ruined

He has been married for seven years but his relationship seems to be on the
rocks now.

on the same wavelength

- thinking similarly about something

We have been on the same wavelength for months about the need for change in the company.

on the sly

- so that people won`t know, secretly

We went to the restaurant on the sly so that nobody would know where we were.

on the spot

- in a difficult or embarrassing situation

He was really put on the spot when the reporter asked him about the campaign donations.

on the spur of the moment

- on a sudden wish or decision, suddenly

On the spur of the moment we went and bought some ice cream.

on the tip of one`s tongue
- not quite able to remember something
The name of his latest movie is on the tip of my tongue.

on the up and up

- honest, trustworthy, sincere

I decided not to work for the company because I didn`t think that it was on the up and up.

on the wagon
- not drinking alcohol
He has been on the wagon for over seven months now.

on the warpath

- very angry, looking for trouble

He is really on the warpath today so you should stay out of his way.

on the whole

- in general

On the whole I think it is a good idea but I would still like to study it further.

on time

- at the scheduled time

Our train arrived right on time.

on top

- in the lead

He was on top of his class in the economics department.

on top of

- in addition to, along with

On top of everything else he wants me to work on Sunday as well.

on top of

- managing very well, in control of

We are able to keep on top of our work now that we have someone in to help us.

on top of

- knowing all about something, up-to-date

He reads the newspaper every morning and is always on top of the latest news.

one-armed bandit

- a slot machine for gambling

He spent the weekend with a one-armed bandit and now has no money.

one foot in the grave

- near death

Her grandmother has one foot in the grave and is not expected to live much longer.

one for the books

- something very unusual or remarkable

His latest complaint about noise at work is one for the books and is very stupid.

one-track mind

- thinking about only one thing

He has a one-track mind. All he thinks about is money.


- any quick or decisive action that takes the opposition by surprise

The salesman gave them the one-two and before they knew it they had agreed to buy the product.

one up
- having an advantage, being one step ahead

His brother was one up on the other students because he had studied very hard.


- ability to keep ahead of others, trying to keep an advantage

I get tired of his one-upmanship and his desire to always be better than everyone else.

open one`s heart

- talk about one`s feelings honestly, confide in someone

I opened my heart to my friend when I saw her at the restaurant last night.

open secret

- a secret that so many people know it is no longer a secret

It is an open secret that he will be leaving the company next month.

other fish to fry

- have more important things to do

I think he has other fish to fry and will not be content to continue with his current job.

out cold

- unconscious, in a faint

He was out cold when the nurse went into his room to check on him.

out in left field

- far from the right answer

What he said was totally out in left field. He has no idea what we were talking about.

out in the cold

- alone, not included

I was left out in the cold when the rest of the class went to the movie without me.

out like a light

- fall asleep very quickly

I was out like a light when I went to bed last night.

out of

- have none left

The restaurant was out of fish so we had meat instead.

out of breath

- be tired and breathing quickly.

He was out of breath after running from the station.

out of circulation

- not active, not joining in what others are doing

He has a new girlfriend so he will probably be out of circulation for awhile.


- no longer current or in style

Computers become out-of-date very quickly.

out of favor with someone

- not have a person`s goodwill

They have been out of favor with their boss for a few months now.

out of kilter

- not balanced right, not in a straight line or lined up right

The door handle seems to be out of kilter and doesn`t work well at all.

out of line

- unacceptable, not correct

His proposal to go to New York was out of line. We can never accept that.

out of one`s element

- where one does not belong or fit in

He is out of his element teaching the computer course. He doesn`t know anything at all about computers.

out of one`s hair

- get rid of someone who is a nuisance

She finally got her children out her hair and was able to study for her exam.

out of one`s shell

- out of one`s silence or shyness, into friendly conversation

We got her out of her shell and she decided to join in with the rest of the group.

out of order

- not working

The public telephone was out of order.

out of order

- against the rules, not suitable

His question was ruled to be out of order by the judge so he wasn`t able to ask it.

out of place

- in the wrong place or at the wrong time, improper

What he said at the party was totally out of place. He should talk about it at another time.

out of sorts

- in a bad mood

He is a little out of sorts today so maybe you should wait until tomorrow to speak to him.

out of step

- not in step, not keeping pace with someone

The soldiers were out of step when they were marching in the parade.

out of step

- out of harmony, not keeping up

He is out of step with the rest of the group and needs to think about what he should be doing.

out of the blue

- unexpectedly, from nowhere

From right out of the blue he asked her if she wanted to get married.

out of the frying pan and into the fire

- out of one trouble and into more trouble, from something bad to something worse

When he changed jobs he went out of the frying pan and into the fire. His new job is much worse.

out of the question
- impossible

You have no money so going to Hong Kong for your holiday is out of the question.

out of the way
- remote, no longer an obstacle

We went to an out of the way place for our first dinner together.

out of the woods
- out of danger, in the clear

His injury was very serious and I don`t think he is out of the woods yet.

out of thin air

- out of nothing or from nowhere

The deer seemed to jump out of thin air and onto the road.

out of this world
- wonderful, fantastic
The new dessert that she made last weekend was right out of this world.

out of tune
- not in agreement, not going well together

They are out of tune with what the other members of the group think.

out on a limb
- in a dangerous or risky position

He really went out on a limb to offer his brother the job.

outside of

- other than, except for

Outside of the weather our vacation was really quite enjoyable.

out to lunch
- crazy, mad

He is totally out to lunch but is still a very nice person.

over a barrel
- in a helpless or trapped position

I think that we have them over a barrel and should be able to win the contract easily.

over and over
- repeated many times

I told him over and over that I do not want to go to that restaurant again.

over one`s dead body
- never, under no circumstances

Over my dead body will I let him come to the party next week.

over one`s head

- too difficult for someone to understand

The joke went over her head so we had to explain it to her.

over one`s head

- go to a more important person in charge, go to a higher official

We didn`t receive a good answer from the official so we went over his head to talk to his boss.

over the hill

- past one`s prime, unable to function as one used to

He thought that his friend was over the hill and shouldn`t be working so hard.

over the long run

- in the end, over a long period of time

Over the long run he plans to expand his business and then sell it and retire.

over with

- at the end of, finished with

When the game on television is over with we can eat dinner.

own up

- take the blame, admit one`s guilt

The suspected murderer finally owned up to the murder of his wife.


pad the bill
- add false expenses

He always pads the bill when he goes on a business trip.

pain in the neck (ass)
- an annoying thing or person, bothersome

Dealing with my neighbor is always a pain in the neck.

paint oneself into a corner

- get oneself into a bad situation that is difficult or impossible to get out of

He has painted himself into a corner now that he has begun to fight with his supervisor.

paint the town red
- go out and party and have a good time

We decided to go out and paint the town red after we all passed our exams.

palm off
- deceive someone by a trick or a lie, sell or give by tricking

He palmed off his old television set as one that was new and reliable.

pan out
- end or finish favorably, work out well

I hope that your plans to go back to school pan out well.

par for the course
- just what was expected, nothing unusual

That was par for the course. He always comes late when there is a lot of work to do.

part and parcel
- a necessary or important part, something necessary to a larger thing

The house that he bought was part and parcel of a much larger piece of land.

pass away
- die

His father passed away when he was about 96 years old.

pass muster
- pass a test or checkup, be good enough

I wrote some of the instructions of the computer manual and will send them to my partner to see if they pass muster.

pass off
- sell or give something by false claims, offer something as genuine

The man passed off the diamond watch as a real one and received much more money than it was worth

pass off
- claim to be someone one is not, pretend to be someone else

He passed himself off as a reporter and was able to get into the concert.

pass on
- give away something that you don`t use anymore

She always passes on her old clothes to her younger sister.

pass on
- die

Her grandmother passed on when she was 92 years old.

pass out
- faint

Three teenage girls passed out at the rock concert.

pass the buck
- shift responsibility to others

He always tries to pass the buck if someone tries to criticize his work.

pat on the back
- praise

He gave me a pat on the back after I finished the project.

patch up
- fix

I have been trying to patch up our differences for many months now.

pay attention
- look at or listen to with full attention

He never pays attention to what his supervisor tells him.

pay dirt

- dirt in which much gold is found, a valuable discovery

The company hit pay dirt when they invented the new Internet equipment.

pay off

- pay in full and be free from a debt, yield good results (the risk paid off)

She finally paid off her car so she has lots of extra money to spend.


- results of one`s work, a bribe

He expects to get a big pay-off from his education when he finally begins to look for a job.

pay through the nose

- pay a lot of money for something

My uncle always pays through the nose when he buys a new car.

pecking order

- the way people are ranked in relation to each other

The pecking order in his company is very difficult to understand for most of the workers.

peeping Tom

- someone who looks in people`s windows

The police arrested a peeping Tom near our apartment building last week.

penny for one`s thoughts

- Please tell me what you are thinking about.

"A penny for your thoughts," she said as she saw her boyfriend looking out of the window.

penny-wise and pound-foolish

- wise or careful in small things to the costly neglect of important things

He is penny-wise and pound-foolish and is always wasting his money on things that he doesn`t need.

people who live in glass houses should not throw stones

- do not complain about other people if you are as bad as they are

You should not criticize other people so much. Remember, people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

pep talk

- a speech to encourage people to try harder and not give up

The coach gave his team a pep talk after they lost three games last month.

perk up

- become energetic or happy after being sad or tired

My sister began to perk up after she had a chance to rest for awhile.

peter out

- die down gradually, grow less strong

The large crowd from the football game has begun to peter out and the streets around the stadium are becoming quiet now.


- food or a drink one takes when one feels tired or weak

I stopped at the restaurant on my way home from work for a quick pick-me-up.

pick a quarrel

- start a quarrel with someone on purpose

I don`t like her because she is always trying to pick a quarrel with others.

pick on

- do or say bad things to someone

He always picked on his sister when they were children.

pick out

- choose or select

I tried to pick out a suitable necktie for my father.

pick someone`s brains

- extract ideas or information from someone for one`s own use

They are always picking his brains to get new ideas for their business.

pick up

- get, receive

I picked up my dry cleaning after I finished work yesterday.

pick up

- take on passengers, receive

The bus picked us up at about six o`clock in the morning.

pick up

- make neat and tidy

He decided to pick up his room before his friend came to visit.

pick up

- get without trying, accidentally

He picked up a lot of French when he lived in France for a year.

pick up

- catch or receive the sound of a radio etc.

We couldn`t pick up the radio station when we were travelling through the mountains.

pick up

- take to the police station, arrest someone

The police picked up the man because they thought he had been drinking.

pick up

- pick up something that has fallen on the floor etc.

Could you please pick up my pen from the floor.

pick up

- start again after interruption, go on

It was getting late so we decided to stop work for the evening and pick up where we left off the next day..

pick up a trail/scent

- recognize the trail of a hunted person or animal

The tracking dogs were able to pick up the trail of the criminal easily.

pick up speed

- increase the speed of

The car picked up speed as it began to go down the hill.

pick up the tab

- pay the bill for someone else

He picked up the tab for the dinner at the restaurant.

piece of cake

- easy

That job was a piece of cake. It was the easiest thing I ever did.


- sitting or being carried on the back and shoulders

The man was carrying his child around the room piggyback style.

piggy bank

- a small bank (sometimes in the shape of a pig) for saving coins

Her daughter put all of her spare money into her piggy bank.

pig in a poke

- something accepted or bought without looking at it carefully

The stereo system he bought was a pig in a poke. He has no idea if it will work well.

pile up

- accumulate, put things on top of each other

He piled up the magazines on top of the small table.

pinch pennies

- be careful with money, be thrifty

He has been pinching pennies for months in order to save money for his vacation.

pin down

- keep someone from moving, make someone stay in a place or position

The wrestler won the match after he pinned his opponent down for almost a minute.

pin down

- make someone tell the truth or make a commitment

I couldn`t pin him down as to exactly when he would pay back the money that he owed me.

pink slip

- dismissal notice from a job

He received his pink slip yesterday and no longer has a job.

pipe dream

- an unrealistic plan

He always has a lot of pipe dreams about what he wants to do in the future.

pipe up

- speak louder

We asked the speaker to pipe up so that we could hear him.


- a small, unimportant person

He called his friend a pip-squeak which made him very angry.

piss off

- bother or annoy someone, make someone angry

My supervisor pissed me off when he asked me to work late again last night.

pitch a tent

- put up a tent

We pitched the tent in a nice field beside a stream.

pitch in

- give help or money for something

They pitched in and helped him finish the job quickly.

play ball with someone

- cooperate fairly with someone

If you agree to play ball with the new manager things should go well for you.

play by ear

- play a musical instrument by remembering the tune and not by reading the music

Although she can`t read music at all she can play by ear and is a great musician.

play cat and mouse with someone

- tease or fool someone by pretending to let him go free and then catching him again

The boxer was playing cat and mouse with his opponent although he could have won easily.

play down

- give less emphasis or make something seem less important

The politician played down the polls that showed that he was becoming less popular.

played out

- tired out, worn out, exhausted

I was totally played out last night so I went to bed early.

play footsie

- touch the feet of a member of the opposite sex under the table while flirting

The couple in the restaurant were playing footsie under the table during their dinner.

play footsie

- engage in any kind of collaboration or flirtation especially in a political situation

The opposition party was playing footsie with the government in order to have their opinions heard.

play (someone) for something

- treat someone as something, act toward someone as something

He was trying to play me for a fool but I could easily see what he was trying to do.

play hooky

- stay away from school or work without permission

When he was a student he often played hooky and didn`t go to school.

play into someone`s hands

- do something that gives someone else an advantage

If you walk out of the meeting in anger you will only be playing into his hands.

play it by ear

- decide on something according to the situation

Let`s play it by ear and decide what to do after we see the movie.

play off

- match opposing persons, forces or interests for one`s own gain

Nobody likes the supervisor because he is always trying to play off one group of workers against another.

play off

- settle a score between two teams or contestants by more play

We went to the game last night as our team had to play off against the other team.

play on/upon (something)

- cause an effect on, influence

They played on his feelings of loneliness to get him to come and buy them dinner every night.

play on words

- a humorous use of a word to suggest a different meaning

There are many cases of using a play on words in the newspaper headlines.

play one`s cards right

- take advantage of your opportunities

If you play your cards right you will probably get a promotion soon.

play second fiddle to someone

- be second in importance to someone

He has been playing second fiddle to his boss for years and has finally decided to quit.

play the field

- date many different people, avoid steady dates with the same person

After my sister stopped seeing her boyfriend she decided to play the field until she met someone nice.

play up

- call attention to, emphasize

During the job interview he played up his experience as an experienced computer operator.

play up to someone

- flatter or please someone to try and gain some advantage

He is always playing up to his boss so he can leave work early.

play with fire

- invite danger or trouble

You are playing with fire if you get involved with those people.

plow into

- attack vigorously

We plowed into the food as soon as the waiter brought it to our table.

plow into

- crash into with force

The truck plowed into the group of people waiting for the bus.

pluck up

- make oneself have courage

He plucked up his courage and went and asked the woman for a date.

point out

- explain, call attention to

She was very kind when she pointed out the mistakes that I had made.

pointed remark

- a remark clearly aimed at a particular person or thing

He made a pointed remark during the meeting that was clearly designed to get my attention.

poke fun at

- joke about, laugh at, tease

She is always poking fun at the way her husband plays golf.

polish off

- finish completely, finish doing something quickly

We polished off the work early and went to the beach for the day.

polish the apple

- try to win favor by flattering someone

The teacher doesn`t like students who are always trying to polish the apple with her.

pony up

- pay

It is time to pony up and pay for the equipment that he bought.

pooped out

- worn out, exhausted

We spent all day painting the house and were pooped out by the time we got home.

pop the question

- ask someone to marry you

He finally popped the question to her after they had been going out together for two years.

pop up

- appear suddenly or unexpectedly

I hadn`t seen my friend for almost a year but suddenly he popped up for a visit last week.

pot calling the kettle black

- a person who is criticizing someone else is as guilty as the person he criticizes

I was joking to her about why she was afraid to look for another job but she said it was like the pot calling the kettle black as I also never tried to change jobs.

pound the pavement

- look for a job

He has been pounding the pavement for a few months now but still has not found a job.

pour it on thick

- flatter greatly

He has been pouring it on thick but she still doesn`t like him.

pour oil on troubled waters

- calm down a quarrel, say something to lessen anger and bring peace to a situation

They tried to pour oil on troubled waters after they noticed the argument among the students.

pour out

- tell everything about something

She poured out her heart to her mother when she returned home from work.

pour out

- come out in great number or quantity, stream out

After the football game thousands of fans poured out of the stadium.

press (push) one`s luck

- depend too much on luck, expect to continue to be lucky

He is pushing his luck if he thinks that he will continue to make a lot of money on the stock market.

pressed for time

- have barely enough time

He was pressed for time so I didn`t have a chance to speak to him.

prey on (upon)

- catch for food, kill and eat

Cats usually prey on mice and small birds if they can catch them.

prey on (upon)
- cheat, rob

Criminals usually prey on people who are living in poor areas.

promise the moon
- mentally alert, ready to do something

Before the elections the politicians were promising everyone the moon but when they were elected they began to talk differently.

psyched up
- mentally alert, ready to do something

The team was psyched up for the game but they lost anyway.

psych out
- find out the real motives of (someone)

I tried to psych out the salesman to see what he really wanted to sell the car for.

pull a fast one
- cheat, deceive

They pulled a fast one on him when they sold him the used car.

pull (something) off
- accomplish something remarkable

He really is lucky in being able to pull off the new business merger with no problems.

pull one`s socks up
- make a greater effort

You had better begin to pull your socks up or you will not be able to continue working here.

pull one`s weight
- do one`s fair share of the work

If everyone pulls their weight we can quickly finish and go home.

pull someone`s leg
- trick or fool someone playfully

Her grandfather is always pulling her leg when he comes to visit.

pull out of a hat
- get as if by magic, invent, imagine

I didn`t think that he was going to be able to find a dictionary but he suddenly pulled one out of a hat and gave it to me.

pull over
- drive to the side of the road and stop

The police pulled over the man because he had been drinking.

pull rank
- assert one`s superior position or authority on a person of lower rank in order to get a privilege or favor

The navy officer pulled rank on the other officers and was able to stay in the best hotel during the trip.

pull strings
- secretly use influence and power

He was able to pull some strings and get his son a job for the summer.

pull the plug
- expose someone`s secret activities

The company decided to pull the plug on the salesman and tell everyone about his illegal sales methods.

pull the plug
- quit a job

He suddenly decided to pull the plug and is no longer here.

pull the rug out from under
- spoil someone`s plans, withdraw support

He pulled the rug out from under our plans to open a branch office in New York.

pull the wool over someone`s eyes
- deceive or fool someone

Don`t let him pull the wool over your eyes with his excuses.

pull through
- recover from an illness or misfortune

It looked like he was going to die from cancer but in the end he pulled through and is now doing very well.

pull up stakes
- move to another location

They decided to pull up stakes and move to London.

push (someone) around
- make someone do what you want

He is always pushing around his salesmen and saleswomen.

push off
- start, leave

The boat pushed off from the dock and started out to sea.

push the panic button
- become very frightened or excited at a time of danger or worry

At first he thought that his wallet had been stolen but before he pushed the panic button and told everyone he looked around again and found it.

put a damper on
- discourage, spoil a person`s fun

The death of the president put a damper on the anniversary celebrations.

put across
- explain clearly, make oneself understood

He spends a lot of effort trying to put across clearly what he wants to say.

put all one`s eggs in one basket
- place all one`s efforts, interests or hopes in a single person or thing

You should not put all your eggs in one basket and invest all of your money in the stock market.

put away
- put an animal to death, kill

We had to have our dog put away because he tried to bite the small girl next door.

put down
- stop by force, crush

The government easily put down the rebellion by the militants.

put down
- write a record of something, write down

He was asked by his company to put down his request for a transfer in writing.

put down
- criticize, make someone look bad

He is always putting down his girlfriend in front of his friends.

put in
- plant flowers

We decided to put in some roses in our garden last year.

put in
- stop at a port on a journey by water

The ship put in at several ports during the cruise.

put in
- add to what has already been said

Suddenly he put in that he was tired and wanted to go home.

put in for something
- apply for something

I put in for a transfer to another department of our company but it was refused.

put in (time)
- spend time

He has put in a lot of time fixing up his house and now it looks beautiful.

put in one`s two cents
- give one`s opinion

She always wants to put in her two cents when she has a chance.

put off
- postpone

The game was put off because of the rain.

put off
- discourage, cause a bad feeling

He put me off with his complaints about the hotel room that I had reserved for him.

put on
- dress in and wear clothes

Please put on your jacket before you go out.

put on

- fool or joke with someone, tease, pretend

I think that he is putting me on. I don`t believe that he will move to Rome.

put on
- produce or arrange a play etc.

My sister helped to put on the school play.

put on one`s thinking cap

- think hard and long about something

I will put on my thinking cap and try and decide what to do about finding a new job.

put on the map
- make a place well known

The Woodstock rock concert really put the town of Woodstock on the map.

put on weight
- gain weight

He has put on a lot of weight since he stopped going to the gym.

put one`s cards on the table

- be frank, tell everything

I put my cards on the table and told him everything about the plans for next year.

put one`s finger on something

- locate precisely, remember exactly

I was unable to put my finger on the exact date of his arrival.

put one`s foot down

- object strongly, take firm action

He put his foot down and didn`t allow any more money to be spent on company entertainment.

put one`s foot in one`s mouth

- say something that is the wrong thing to say in a situation

He really put his foot in his mouth when he told her about the surprise party.

put one`s own house in order

- organize one`s own private affairs

He should put his own house in order before he tells others what to do.

put our heads together

- confer, discuss

We put our heads together and finally thought of a new name for the football team.

put out

- make a flame or light stop burning, extinguish

The man put out his cigarette on the theater carpet.

put out
- produce, make

The company decided to put out a newsletter to give news to the employees.

(be) put out

- be inconvenienced or irritated

She was a little put out that you didn`t call her when you were in town.

put (someone) out
- inconvenience, bother,

She shouldn`t put herself out so much when people come and visit her.

put someone in his or her place
- scold someone for rude or bad behavior

She was very angry and really put him in his place over the rude remark.

put someone in the picture

- tell someone what the situation is

They have finally decided to put me in the picture about the new work procedures.

put (something or someone) out of one`s head (mind)

- try not to think about something

He has been trying to put his girlfriend out of his mind since they decided to stop seeing each other.

put (something) over on someone

- fool, trick

He was trying to put something over on his boss when he said that he was sick and couldn`t come to work.

put (something) past someone (negative)

- be surprised by what someone does

I wouldn`t put it past him to try and sell the main part of the company and leave the rest.

put the bite on someone
- ask for money or favors

He is always trying to put the bite on his friends to collect money for charity.

put the cart before the horse

- do things in the wrong order

I think that he is putting the cart before the horse by talking about fixing up the house before he even buys it.

put the screws to someone

- try to force someone to do or say what you want

The police were putting the screws to the criminal to try and get some information.

put through the wringer

- cause a lot of stress

He really put his wife through the wringer when he asked her for a divorce.

put two and two together

- understand or figure something out after learning the facts

I finally put two and two together and realized that she was his boyfriend.

put up
- provide money or something needed

The telephone company put up most of the money for the new stadium.

put up a good fight

- try hard

They put up a good fight but were unable to win the tournament.

put up a good front

- pretend to be happy, fool people about one`s status

He always puts up a good front but actually he is very unhappy.

put up at a hotel etc.

- stay at a hotel or someone`s home

We decided to put up at a hotel and continue our trip the next day.

put up or shut up

- prove something or stop saying it, bet money on what one says or stop saying it

The politician was forced to put up or shut up over the plans to build a new convention center.

put up to

- persuade or get someone to do something

His friend put him up to cheating on the examination.

put up with

- patiently accept, endure

He makes a great effort to put up with his wife`s complaints.

put words in one`s mouth

- say something for someone else

Her husband is always putting words in her mouth which makes her a little angry.

quite a few

- many

He has quite a few videos at home.

Last edited by Argus; Sunday, October 15, 2006 at 03:26 AM.
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Default Idioms(R-S)


rack one`s brains
- try hard to think or remember something
I have been racking my brains all day trying to remember his name.

rain cats and dogs
- rain very hard
It has been raining cats and dogs all morning.

rain check
- a free ticket to an event in place of one cancelled because of rain
We received two rain checks to the baseball game after it was cancelled because of the rain.

rain check
- a promise to repeat an invitation at a later date
I didn`t have time to go to the restaurant with my friend so I took a rain check instead.

raise a fuss
- make trouble, make a disturbance
The woman at the restaurant raised a fuss when her meal arrived late.

raise a hand
- do something, do one`s share, help
Nobody likes him because he will never raise a hand to help his friends.

raise Cain
- create a disturbance, cause trouble
They began to raise Cain at the dance and were asked to leave.

raise eyebrows
- cause surprise or disapproval
It really raised eyebrows when she appeared at the party unannounced.

rake in the money
- make a lot of money
His new pizza franchise has been raking in the money since it first opened.

rake someone over the coals
- scold, reprimand
His boss raked him over the coals when he heard about the lost sales report.

ram (something) down one`s throat
- force one to do or agree to something not wanted

She always tries to ram her ideas down our throats which makes us very angry.

rat out on

- desert or betray someone, leave at a critical time

His friend ratted out on him when he refused to support him in his fight with the neighborhood bully.

rat race

- endless hurried existence

He likes working for a major corporation although sometimes he finds it too much of a rat race.

raw deal

- unfair treatment

he got a raw deal when he was forced to resign from his company.

read between the lines

- find a hidden meaning in something

I know that he didn`t say it but I can read between the lines so I know what he means.

read the riot act

- give someone a strong warning or scolding

The teacher read the riot act to her students when they began to misbehave in class.

real McCoy

- the genuine thing

That new camera is the real McCoy and will let you do everything that you want.

red herring

- something that draws attention away from the matter under consideration

The issue of the pay cut is a red herring and is not related to the main issues.

red letter day

- a day that is memorable because of some important event

Saturday was a red letter day when we finally won the championship.

red tape

- excessive formalities in official transactions

There was much red tape when we went to city hall to get a business license.

regular guy

- a friendly person who everyone gets along with

The former Prime Minister was a regular guy and was well liked by most people.

rest on one`s laurels

- be satisfied with the success one has already won

He is always willing to work hard and is not the type of person to rest on his laurels.

rhyme or reason

- a good plan or reason, a reasonable purpose or explanation

Without rhyme or reason he suddenly decided to quit his job.

ride herd on

- watch closely and control

The new supervisor plans to ride herd on the people who work for him.

ride out

- survive safely, endure

We were able to easily ride out the storm at the small restaurant.

riding high

- attracting attention, enjoying great popularity

The new government has been riding high in the polls for several months now.

right away

- immediately

I forgot to bring the book today but I will go home and get it right away.

right off the bat

- immediately, from the beginning

I told him right off the bat that we didn`t need a new computer for the office.

right on

- indicates approval, "that`s right", "yes"

He called out "right on" every time that the politician promised a new program to help unemployed people.

right out

- plainly, in a way that hides nothing

He told the new supervisor right out that he did not like him.

right under one`s nose

- in an obvious, nearby place

I found the calculator right under my nose after searching for it for an hour.

ring a bell

- remind one of something

The name doesn`t ring a bell. I`m sure I have never heard of him.

ring up

- add and record on a cash register

I went to the cash register to have them ring up the things that I had bought.

ring up

- telephone someone

You should ring up the police if you see anybody strange around your house.

rip off

- cheat, rob

I was ripped off by the mechanics at that gas station.

road hog

- a car driver who takes up more than his share of the road

My father becomes very angry at the road hogs when he is driving.

rob Peter to pay Paul

- take from one person or thing to pay another

When the government began to take money from education to pay for the medical system it was like robbing Peter to pay Paul.

rob the cradle

- have dates with or marry a person much younger than oneself

Everyone said that my friend was robbing the cradle when he married the young woman at his company.

rock the boat

- upset the way things are

He is a very quiet worker and never likes to rock the boat at work.

roll around

- return at a regular or usual time, come back

Every time that his birthday rolls around he has a big party.

roll in

- arrive in great numbers or quantity

The money has been rolling in since they started the new franchise.

rolling stone

- a person who does not live or work in one place

He is a rolling stone and I never know where to find him.

roll out the red carpet

- welcome an important guest by putting a red carpet down for him or her to walk on

They rolled out the red carpet when the President of France came for a visit.

roll out the red carpet

- make a big effort to greet and entertain someone

Whenever I visit my aunt in New York City she rolls out the red carpet for me.

roll up one`s sleeves

- prepare to work hard or seriously

Everyone in our club rolled up their sleeves to help prepare for the party.

rope into

- trick, persuade by pressuring someone

I didn`t want to help with the dinner but I was roped into doing it by my best friend.

rough and ready

- rough or crude but effective

The boat is rough and ready so let`s take it for a ride.

rough and tumble

- fighting or arguing in a very rough and reckless way

It was a rough and tumble meeting that we attended at the city planning office last night.

rough guess

- an approximate estimate

He made a rough guess as to how many people would come to the party.

rough up

- attack or hurt physically

The three men roughed up the bartender at the hotel and were arrested by the police.

round robin (letter)

- a letter written by a group of people with each person writing part of the letter

We sent a round robin letter to the librarian to ask for better opening hours for the library.

round robin (meeting or discussion)
- a meeting or discussion in which each person in a group takes part
We had a round robin panel discussion on what we could do to help save the environment.

round robin (tournament or contest)
- game or contest in which each player or team plays every other player or team in turn
The round robin tournament was held in order to choose the championship team for the city.

round up
- bring together, collect
We rounded up enough people to play a game of soccer last night.

rub elbows/shoulders
- be in the same place (with others), meet and mix
At the party we were able to rub elbows with many important people.

rub off
- remove or be removed by rubbing, erase
She rubbed off the writing on the whiteboard.

rub off
- pass to someone nearby, transmit to someone
Her bad habit of talking all the time has rubbed off on her husband as well.

rub out
- destroy completely, kill, eliminate
The government troops rubbed out the whole village.

rub someone the wrong way
- irritate others with something one says or does
Her lack of politeness always rubs me the wrong way.

rub something in
- continue to talk or joke about something someone said or did
I know that she made a mistake but you shouldn`t rub it in.

rule out
- decide against, eliminate
They still haven`t ruled out using him on the team for the tournament.

rule the roost
- be the dominant one in the family
She seems rather quiet but she really rules the roost in their family.

run a risk
- unprotected, open to danger or loss
You are running a great risk if you drive with him after he has been drinking.

run around
- go to different places for entertainment or to do things
We ran around all day and now we are very tired.

run around in circles
- act confused, do a lot but accomplish little
I have been running around all day but I can`t seem to get anything done.

run away with
- take quickly and secretly - especially without permission or by stealing
Someone ran away with the dictionary so now we don`t have one.

run away with
- take hold of
Their imagination ran away with them when they went to the circus. They decided that they actually wanted to join the circus.

run away with
- be much better than others, win easily
Our hometown team ran away with the football championship.

run down
- crash against and knock down
My dog was run down by a car last week.

run down
- say bad things about someone, criticize
She is always running down her friends. That is why nobody likes her.

run down
- get into poor health or condition, look bad
She has become run down since she started working at night.

run for it
- dash for safety, make a speedy escape
As soon as it started raining we ran for it and tried to get to the shelter.

run in
- make a brief visit
I ran in to see my sister at her office before I left for the weekend.

run (someone) in
- take to jail, arrest
The police ran the three boys in for questioning about the robbery.

run in the family/blood
- be a common family characteristic
Being a left-handed golfer and baseball hitter runs in our family.

run into
- add up to, total
If you decide to stay in nice hotels during your holiday it will run into a lot of money.

run into
- mix with, join with
During the hot weather the red paint on the roof ran into the white paint.

run into
- be affected by, get into
He ran into trouble when he tried to cross the border with no visa.

run into (something)
- hit something or crash into something
His car ran into the other car on the highway.

run into (someone)
- meet by chance
I ran into him when I was at the supermarket.

run into the ground
- use something more than is wanted or needed
He ran his car into the ground before he had to buy another one.

run off
- produce with a printing press or copy machine
We ran off hundreds of copies of the poster for the festival.

run off with (someone)
- go away with someone, elope
My sister ran off with her boyfriend and got married when she was quite young.

- ordinary, usual
The restaurant was in a run-of-the-mill building but it was superb.

run out (of something)
- use up, come to an end
The car ran out of gas in the middle of the countryside.

run out
- force to leave, expel
The drug dealers were run out of town by the police.

run over
- be too full and flow over the edge
The water in the bathtub ran over the edge and got everything in the room wet.

run over
- try to go over something quickly, practice briefly
We can run over this material tomorrow before the meeting.

run over
- drive on top of, ride over
We ran over a small rabbit on the way to the meeting.

run ragged
- be tired or exhausted
She has been run ragged by her three children.

run scared
- try everything to avoid defeat as in a political campaign
The senator has been running scared in his attempt to win re-election.

run short
- not have enough, be not enough in quantity
We ran short of money during our trip to Europe.

run the gauntlet
- face a hard test or painful experience
He had to run the gauntlet of many interviews before he got the job.

run through

- spend recklessly, use up wastefully

We ran through a lot of money when we were looking for a new apartment.

run through

- read or practice from beginning to end without stopping

I usually try to run through my speech a couple of times before I have to give it.

run up

- add to the amount of something, increase

He ran up a large bill at the department store before he left for home.

run up

- pull something up on a rope

We ran up the flag early this morning before the parade started.

run up against (something)

- encounter

They ran up against many problems when they were building the freeway.

run wild

- be or go out of control

The crowd ran wild after the soccer game.

Russian roulette

- a game of chance in which one bullet is placed in a revolver, the cartridge is spun, and the player aims the gun at his head and pulls the trigger

The men in the movie played Russian roulette until one of them finally died.

Russian roulette

- a potentially dangerous situation

Putting the load of plutonium on the old ship was like playing a game of Russian roulette.


sacred cow

- something that is never criticized or laughed at even if it sometimes deserves to be

The medical insurance system is a sacred cow of the government and is never criticized by anyone.

(on the) safe side

- take no chances

It may rain so just to be on the safe side I think that I will bring my umbrella.

sail into

- scold or criticize very hard, attack

As soon as I came in the door she sailed into me for being late.

salt away

- save money

She has salted away a few thousand dollars from her new job.

save face

- save one`s good reputation when something has happened to hurt it

Our boss was very embarrassed when he had to tell us that the company had lost a lot of money. However, he was able to save face when he showed that the problems were outside of his control.

save one`s breath

- remain silent because talking will do no good

You may as well save your breath and not talk to her as she never believes you anyway.

save one`s neck/skin

- save oneself from danger or trouble

He left the scene of the fire as soon as possible in order to save his own neck.

save the day

- bring about victory or success - esp. when defeat is likely

He saved the day for his team after he played his best game of the season.

say a mouthful

- say something of great importance or meaning or length

He really said a mouthful yesterday when he made the announcement about his new job.

say one`s piece

- say openly what one thinks

He said his piece at the meeting and then left quietly by the back door.

say the word

- give a sign, show a wish

Just say the word and I will come and pick you up at the airport.

scare out of one`s wits

- frighten very much

Her little girl was scared out of her wits after she saw the horror movie.

scare the daylights out of someone

- frighten very much

Falling off her bicycle scared the daylights out of her.

scare up

- find or gather something with some effort

We were able to scare up a couple of sleeping bags so that we could go camping.

scatter around

- carelessly put in different places

His papers are always scattered around his house so he is never able to find anything.

school of hard knocks

- ordinary experiences of life

He learned all about life in the school of hard knocks.

scrape the bottom of the barrel

- take whatever is left after the best has been taken

They are really scraping the bottom of the barrel if they must give him a job.

scrape together

- gather money etc. a little at a time

We managed to scrape together enough money to go to Disneyland even though business is very bad and we don`t have much money.

scrape up

- find or gather something with some effort

His girlfriend scraped up some money and went to visit him during the summer.

scratch one`s back

- do something nice for someone in the hope that they will do something for you

"You scratch my back and I`ll scratch yours," he said when he offered to help me increase my sales.

scratch the surface

- make only a beginning to do or accomplish something

They have been gathering information about the planned merger but they have only scratched the surface of what is available.

screw around

- loaf about, hang around without doing anything

I spent the morning screwing around and didn`t get anything done.

screw up

- make a mess of something

My travel agent screwed up our travel schedule so we had to stay at the airport overnight.

scrounge around

- look in many places for an item or items

We didn`t have enough wood for the small building so we had to scrounge around the neighborhood to find some.

search me

- "I don`t know.", "How should I know."

"Search me," he said when I asked him what had happened to the front of his car.

search one`s soul

- study one`s reasons and actions to see if one has been fair and honest

I have been searching my soul to see if I was responsible for the accident that destroyed my friend`s car.

second-guess someone

- guess what someone else intends to do or would have done

You should never try to second-guess the firefighters in a dangerous situation.

second hand

- not new, used by someone else

He went to a second-hand bookstore to look for the books.

second thought

- after thinking about something again

On second thought maybe you should bring an extra coat.

second wind

- regaining your energy after being tired

After we got our second wind we continued on our hike up the mountain.

security blanket

- something one holds on to for reassurance or comfort (like a child and a blanket)

He uses his computer as his security blanket so that he doesn`t have to go out and meet new people.

see about (something)

- check into something

I`ll see about getting the book for you by next week.

see eye to eye

- agree

We don`t always see eye to eye on everything but generally we get along.

see off

- go with someone to their point of departure

I went to the airport to see her off.

see one`s way clear to do something

- feel able to do something

When you see your way clear to begin the project could you please come and tell me.

see out

- go with someone to an outer door

I went to the front door to see out our guests to their cars.

see out

- finish and not quit

I decided to stay with my company for awhile in order to see out the restructuring process.

see red

- become very angry

He saw red last night when I told him about the broken dishes.

see stars

- imagine one is seeing stars as a result of being hit on the head

When I was hit by the opposing football player I fell to the ground and began to see stars.

see the light

- realize your mistake, suddenly see how to proceed with something

He finally saw the light and began to do his work the same as everyone else.

see the light of day

- be born or begun

I don`t believe that his plans to build a new house will ever see the light of day.

see the world (things) through rose-colored glasses

- see only the good things about something, be too optimistic

She is a little unrealistic and tends to see the world through rose-colored glasses.

see things

- imagine sights that are not real, think one sees what is not there

He is always daydreaming and imagining that he is seeing things.

see through

- understand someone`s true character or motivation

I could easily see through his attempt to fire her from her job.

see to (something)

- attend to or do something

I will see to the rental car and you can see to the airplane tickets.

see to it

- take the responsibility to do something, make sure

Will you please see to it that the garbage is taken out in the morning.

sell like hotcakes

- sell quickly, sell rapidly

The tickets for the football game were selling like hotcakes when I inquired this morning.

sell out

- be disloyal, sell a secret, be unfaithful

He said that he was a socialist but as soon as he got a good job he sold out to the establishment.

sell oneself short

- underestimate oneself

He is selling himself short when he thinks that he can`t do any other job.

send away for something

- write a letter asking for something

I sent away for some postage stamps but they haven't arrived yet.

send someone packing

- tell someone to leave, dismiss someone

He was sent packing because of his bad attitude to his job.

send up

- sentence someone to prison

He was sent up for seven years for robbing a bank.

serve one`s purpose

- be useful to someone for a certain need

That tool should serve my purpose until I find the correct one.

serve someone right

- get the punishment or results that one deserves

He never studies at all so it serves him right to fail his exam.

serve time

- spend time in jail

He served time when he was young but now he is a model citizen.

set about

- begin, start

We set about preparing the office for the move to a bigger building.

set back

- cause to put off or get behind schedule, slow up

We were set back over a month when the floods destroyed the road to our farm.

set (one) back

- cost

How much did your new suit set you back?

set eyes on

- to see

I don`t know if she is here or not. I haven`t set eyes on her since yesterday.

set foot

- step, walk

I have never set foot in that restaurant and I never will in the future.

set forth

- explain exactly or clearly

He carefully set forth the terms of the rental contract.

set forth

- start to go somewhere, begin a trip

They set forth on their holiday about 70 this morning.

set in

- weather condition begins and will probably continue

The rain has set in and it looks like it won`t stop for awhile.

set loose

- set free, release something that you are holding

The wildlife department decided to set loose the bear that it had captured.

set off

- decorate through contrast, balance by difference

He painted the trim of his house red in order to set off the light colors.

set off

- to cause to explode

The fire set off a large explosion on the ship.

set one`s heart on

- want very much

I set my heart on a nice holiday this winter but I won`t be able to go because I have no money.

set one`s mind at rest

- free oneself from worry

I told him the reason we can`t come in order to set his mind at rest.

set out

- leave on a journey

Marco Polo set out for China many years ago.

set out

- decide and begin to try, attempt

He set out to learn Spanish when he was transferred to Mexico.

set sail

- start sailing, begin a sea voyage

The three women set sail for Hawaii on a small sailboat.

set store on (by)

- like or value, want to keep

Our company sets great store on their ability to attract good people.

set the pace

- decide on a rate of speed to do something that others will follow

The manager of our section sets the pace for the employees under him.

set the world on fire

- do something outstanding or that makes one famous

He has not been able to set the world on fire with his writing but he is trying very hard.

settle for

- be satisfied with less, agree to

I settled for less than I originally wanted with my contract but still I am happy with it.

set up

- establish, provide the money for something

The newspaper company provided the money to set up the new travel magazine.

set up

- make something ready to use by putting the parts together

After we set up the gas barbecue we were able to cook dinner.

set (someone) up

- put someone in a position to be manipulated

I don`t believe that I lost that money honestly. I believe that I was set up.


- arrangement, management, circumstances

My uncle has a very nice setup at his office.

settle down

- live a quiet normal life

He settled down and started a family after he finished university.

settle a score with someone

- retaliate against someone, pay someone back for a past wrong

He always appears to be trying to settle the score with him and never treats him fairly.

seventh heaven

- a state of intense delight

She has been in seventh heaven since she got the music award.

sewed up

- won or arranged as one wishes, decided

The candidate for the nomination easily sewed up his victory last week.

shack up with

- live with someone of the opposite sex without marrying them

When his sister was younger she shacked up with her boyfriend for a couple of years.

shake a leg

- go fast, hurry

"You will have to shake a leg if you want to arrive at the movie on time."

shake down

- get money by threats

The gangsters shook down the small shop owners to get some money.

shake off (an illness)

- get rid of (an illness)

She has been unable to shake off her illness and can`t come to the party.

shake up

- change the command or leadership of something

The president decided to shake up top management in order to bring new energy into the organization.

(be) shaken up

- be bothered or disturbed

I was a little shaken up after I heard about the fire at our new apartment building.

shape up

- begin to act and look right

He has finally begun to shape up and is doing his job much better.

shell out

- pay

I shelled out over a thousand dollars for the new stereo.

shine up to

- try to please, try to make friends with

He is always shining up to his boss in the hopes of getting a raise.

shoe is on the other foot

- opposite is true, places are changed

The shoe is on the other foot now that he has also bought a house and has to pay a lot of money every month for his mortgage.


- someone or something that is expected to win, a sure winner

The new president is a shoo-in to win another term in office.

shook up

- upset, worried

He was really shook up after the accident and has not been back to work since.

shoot one`s wad

- spend all one`s money, say everything that is on one`s mind

He shot his wad on a vacation to the Caribbean last winter.

shoot straight

- act fairly, deal honestly

He always shoots straight when he is dealing with the police or the government.

shoot the breeze/bull

- talk idly

I met him at the supermarket so we decided to shoot the breeze for a few minutes.

shoot the works

- spare no expense or effort

They are planning to shoot the works when they plan the victory celebration for the Olympic medal winners.

shoot up

- grow quickly

His son really shot up quickly when he went away for the summer.

shoot up

- arise suddenly

The flames shot up over the top of the building when the wind started blowing.

shoot up

- shoot at recklessly

In many western movies the outlaws come into town and shoot up everybody.

shoot up

- take drugs by injecting them

We were going to a movie when we saw the heroin addict shooting up heroin in the alley.

shop around

- go to various stores to look for something

We shopped around for a month before we bought a new stereo system.

shore up

- add support to something which is weak

It was necessary to shore up the house after the mud slide damaged the foundation.

short and sweet

- brief and pleasant

His visit with his parents was short and sweet.

short end (of the stick)

- unfair, unequal treatment

He always gets the short end of the stick when he is at work.

short of

- not have enough of something

We are short of sugar so could you please buy some when you are at the store.

short shrift

- rude treatment

She received short shrift from her supervisor when she asked for a holiday.

shot in the arm

- something inspiring or encouraging

His job search got a shot in the arm when the company president called him in for an interview.

shot in the dark

- an attempt without much hope or chance of succeeding

The attempt to find the small boy who had fallen into the river was a shot in the dark.

shove down one`s throat

- force someone to do or agree to something not wanted

I don`t like him because he is always trying to shove his ideas down my throat.

shove off

- start, leave

I think that it is time for us to shove off. It is almost midnight.

show off

- try to attract attention, display

He has bought a lot of new clothes that recently he has been trying to show off.


- a person who brags a lot

He is a show-off and is always trying to impress other people.

show one`s cards

- disclose one`s plans

He hasn`t really shown us his cards yet so I don`t really know what he wants.

show one`s (true) colors

- show what one is really like or is thinking

He has shown his true colors lately with his attempt to punish those who don`t reach the sales target.

show someone the door

- ask someone to go away

When he started yelling in the restaurant he was quickly shown the door.

show up

- appear, arrive, be present

What time did your friend show up for the party?

show up

- become or make something easy to see

At first we couldn`t see what was written on the vase but after a little effort to clean it up the design began to show up.

shrug off

- not be bothered or hurt by something, disregard

She is a little mean but we always just shrug off her comments.

shut off

- make something like water or electricity stop

We always shut off the gas when we leave the house for more than a few minutes.

shut off

- be apart, be separated from

The small town is shut off from the other towns in the valley.

shut out

- prevent the opposite team from scoring during a game

The national soccer team shut out the second place team three games in a row.

shut up

- stop talking

"Please shut up and let someone else speak for a change."

shut up

- close the doors and windows of a building for a period of time

We decided to shut up our cottage for the summer as we would not use it anymore.

shut up

- confine

We have to shut up our dog in the house when the mailman comes.

sick and tired

- dislike something, be annoyed with something

I am sick and tired of his constant complaining.

sick of (someone or something)

- bored with, dislike

I think that she is sick of working overtime every day.

side with

- favor, support a position in a dispute

Her mother always sides with her if they have an argument.

sight unseen

- before seeing a thing or person

He bought the car sight unseen and now he is having trouble with it.

sign over

- give something legally to someone by signing one`s name

He signed over his car to his son on his 21st birthday.

sign up

- promise to do something by signing one`s name, join

He signs up for tennis lessons every summer but his ability never improves.

simmer down

- become calm, quiet

He was very angry after the meeting but he has begun to simmer down a little now.

sing (whistle) a different tune

- contradict something said before, talk or act in the opposite way

Usually he doesn`t care if he disturbs his neighbors at midnight but now that he has to get up early in the morning he is whistling a different tune.

sink in

- to penetrate, become understood

What he said hasn`t really sunk in with the other members of the company.

sink one`s teeth into

- go to work seriously

It`s a difficult problem and is a little difficult to sink your teeth into.

sink or swim

- fail or succeed by your own efforts

He will have to sink or swim when he begins his new job.

sit back

- be built a distance away from a street

The large mansion sits back three or four hundred meters from the street.

sit back

- relax, rest, take time out

We decided to sit back for the day and not do anything.

sit idly by

- sit and watch or rest while others work

He sat idly by all morning while the others worked hard.


- political demonstration where students or workers refuse to leave their classroom or job sites

The students held a sit-in demonstration to demand an end to the war.

sit in on

- attend or participate in a meeting

Our boss sat in on the meeting so that he could find out what was happening.

sit on

- be a member of a jury or board, etc.

The former Prime Minister is now sitting on the board of many corporations.

sit right (negative)

- be unacceptable

His idea seemed good at first but it doesn`t seem to sit right with the president.

sit tight

- wait patiently for something

Please sit tight for a few minutes while I go and get a police officer.

sitting duck

- a non-moving target that is easily hit by a hunter

The hunter shot the sitting ducks easily and quickly.

sitting duck

- an unsuspecting person easily fooled - as if they are waiting to be attacked

The woman was a sitting duck when she sat on the bench with her purse beside her.

sitting pretty

- be in a favorable situation

He is sitting pretty with his new job and lots of money.

sit up

- stay awake instead of going to bed

My mother had to sit up all night as my younger sister was very sick.

sit well (with)

- please or find favor with someone

His decision to leave early for the weekend didn`t sit well with the other members of the staff.

six feet under

- dead

He doesn`t plan to move until he is six feet under.

(at) sixes and sevens

- in confusion or disagreement

They have been at sixes and sevens since they opened the new school.

six of one and half-a-dozen of the other

- two things the same, no difference

It was six of one or half-a-dozen of the other as to whether or not we should take the train or the airplane. They both arrived at the same time and cost the same.

(the) size of it

- the way it is

That`s about the size of it he said as he finished telling her about the accident.

size up

- form an opinion, assess a situation

It took him a little time to size up the candidate before deciding to give him a job.

skate on thin ice

- take a chance, risk danger or disapproval

He has been skating on thin ice recently with regard to his job. He is causing many problems and may be fired.

skeleton in one`s closet

- family secret

I heard that he has a lot of skeletons in his closet that he doesn`t want to talk about.

skid row

- area of a city where many people live who have no money and drink a lot of alcohol

The skid row of our city is very depressing with the large number of drunk people around.

skin alive

- scold angrily, spank or beat

She told her son that if he was late for dinner she would skin him alive.

skin and bones

- very skinny

The cat which we found in the empty house was all skin and bones..


- only on the surface, not having any deep or honest meaning

Although beauty is said to be only skin-deep many people care about it too much.

(no) skin off one`s nose

- matter of interest, concern or trouble to one

It is no skin off my nose whether or not she comes to the party.

(by the) skin of one`s teeth

- only just, barely

We were able to arrive in time for the train by the skin of our teeth.

skip bail

- run away and not come to trial and therefore give up any money that you may have already paid the court

The man didn`t want to go to jail so he skipped bail and went to another city.

skip it

- forget all about it

"Skip it", I said as she forgot to bring me the phone number after I had asked her three times.

slap in the face

- an insult

Not getting a promotion was a real slap in the face for her.

slap together

- make in a hurry and without care

We slapped together a picnic table for the company picnic.

sleep a wink

- get a moment`s sleep

I didn`t sleep a wink last night.

sleep on it

- think about something, consider, decide later

I will have to sleep on it tonight but I will give you an answer tomorrow.

slip of the tongue

- say the wrong thing at the wrong time

His insult to the customer was a major slip of the tongue.

slip one`s mind

- be forgotten

I`m very sorry I didn`t come and meet you last night. Our appointment totally slipped my mind.

slip up

- make a mistake

I slipped up when I said that I would not be able to go to the meeting next week.

slow down

- go more slowly than usual

You should slow down a little when you come to a bridge while driving.


- a form of striking without coming to a complete stop

There was a slow-down at the post office last year.

smack into

- collide, hit

The first car ran smack into the car behind it.

small fry

- someone or something of little importance, young children

The police are trying to find some of the major criminals in the drug trade. They are not interested in the small fry.

smash hit

- a very successful performance, song, play, or movie

The series of Star War movies were all smash hits.

smell a rat

- become suspicious

I don`t know what he is doing but something seems strange and I smell a rat.

smoke out

- force out with smoke

The rats were smoked out of their nests by the black smoke.

smoke out

- find out the facts about something

They were able to easily smoke out the real reasons for his decision to leave the company.

smooth something over

- make better or more pleasant

She tried to smooth over the problems between her boss and his sales staff.

snail`s pace

- a very slow movement forward

The cars on the highway moved at a snail`s pace.

snake in the grass

- an enemy who pretends to be a friend

You should be careful of her even if she seems very nice. She is like a snake in the grass.

(a) snap

- an easy task

The exam was a snap and I`m sure that I did very well.

snap out of it

- return to normal, stop being afraid

He finally snapped out of his depression and was able to return to work quickly.

snap up

- take or accept eagerly

The tickets to the concert were snapped up in three hours.

(not to be) sneezed at

- worth having, not to be despised

That new stereo system is not to be sneezed at.

(not a) snowball`s chance in hell

- no chance at all

They don`t have a snowball`s chance in hell of winning the game tomorrow.

snow job
- insincere or exaggerated talk designed to gain the favors of someone

His presentation at the interview was a total snow job.

Last edited by Argus; Sunday, October 15, 2006 at 03:25 AM.
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Old Friday, May 20, 2005
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snow job
- use technical vocabulary to seem like an expert in a field
The salesman gave us a snow job when he started to talk about the specifications of the machine.

snow under
- have or get so much of something that it can`t be taken care of
I have been snowed under with paperwork during the last few weeks.

soak up
- take into oneself like a sponge takes up water
He was able to soak up a lot of knowledge when he went to the summer film seminar.

sob story
- a story that makes one feel pity or sorrow
My sister told me a sob story about how she had lost her job.

sock it to someone
- give everything one is capable of
The president socked it to the audience with his speech at the convention.

so far
- until now
So far no one has entered the speech contest at the television station.

so far, so good
- until now things have gone well
"So far, so good." she replied when he asked her how her new job was going.

soft spot for someone/something
- a feeling of affection toward a person or thing

She has a soft spot for the elderly lady in the store.

so help me
- I promise, I swear
"So help me, if you don`t pay me back my money I will phone your company and ask them for help."

so long
- goodbye
"So long, I will see you next week."

somebody up there loves/hates me
- an expression meaning that an unseen power in heaven has been
favorable/unfavorable to you
"Somebody up there loves me," he said as he found the money on the side of the road.

something else
- so good as to be beyond description
The movie was something else. It was the best movie I had seen in years.

something else again
- a different kind of thing
Working all day on Saturday is OK but working all day Sunday is something else again.

so much
- a large quantity of something
There was so much rain in the spring that our garden wouldn`t grow well.

song and dance
- excuses
He gave me a song and dance about being busy but I never really believed him.

son of a gun/bitch
- a person, used as an exclamation
I wish that that son of a bitch would stop using my camera without asking me.

sooner or later
- eventually
Sooner or later you must pay me back the money so you should do it as soon as possible.

sore loser
- someone who gets angry when they lose
He is a sore loser when he doesn`t win a game of tennis.

sort of
- almost, similar to, not quite
Did you finish cleaning the kitchen? Well, sort of, but not really.

sound off
- tell what one knows or thinks in a loud voice
He is always sounding off about why he doesn`t like his job.

sound out
- try to find out how a person feels about something by asking questions
I have been sounding out my wife recently about whether or not she wants to move to a new house.

- changing and adding something to make it more powerful or faster
He bought a souped-up car when he was a teenager.

spaced out
- confused, incoherent, resembling someone who is using drugs
He was totally spaced out when the professor asked him a question about the text.

speak for
- make a request for, ask for
He spoke for the comfortable chair as soon as he entered the room.

speak of the devil and he appears
- a person comes just when one is talking about him
"Speak of the devil and he appears," I said just as our colleague who we were talking about walked in the door.

speak one`s piece
- say openly what one thinks
I think that it is time for me to speak my piece and tell them what I want to do about the plans for a new factory.

speak out
- speak in favor of or in support of something
My boss spoke out in favor of a promotion for me.

speak up
- speak in a loud or clear voice
I had to ask the teacher to speak up as I couldn`t hear him at all.

spell out
- explain something in very simple words, explain very clearly
I spelled out our conditions for renting out our house very clearly.

spic and span
- very clean, very neat
The house was spic and span when we returned from our holiday.

spill the beans
- tell a secret, inform
He promised not to spill the beans about his plans to get married.

spitting image
- exact resemblance
He is a spitting image of his father.

split hairs
- make unnecessary distinctions
He makes a lot of good points but he also has a tendency to split hairs and waste a lot of our time.

split the difference
- settle a money disagreement by dividing the difference
We had to pay extra money for the car so we decided to split the difference.

split ticket
- vote for candidates from more than one political party
He always votes for a split ticket when he votes and never votes for only one party.

split up
- separate
They seemed like a nice couple but they suddenly decided to split up last month.

splurge on something
- spend a lot of money for something
He splurged on a beautiful present for his girlfriend.

- make something very easy for someone
He is a very strict teacher and never likes to spoon-feed his students.

spread oneself too thin
- try to do too many things at one time
She has been spreading herself too thin lately and is not accomplishing very much of anything.

spring chicken
- a young person (usually negative)
She is no spring chicken. She is almost 96 years old.

spruce up
- clean, redecorate
They spruced up the community center for the summer holidays.

(on the) spur of the moment
- suddenly
He decided to go to Hong Kong on the spur of the moment.

square away
- put right for use or action
Have you squared away your plans for your holidays yet?

square one
- in the beginning
We had to go back to square one and start the project over.

square peg in a round hole
- a person who does not fit into a job or position
He is like a square peg in a round hole trying to do the job of an accountant.

squawk about
- complain about
He is always squawking about the bad service in that restaurant.

stab someone in the back
- betray someone
I dislike him because he tried to stab me in the back during the last meeting.

stack the cards
- arrange things (unfairly) for or against a person

They are stacking the cards against him with their constant demands for more and more qualifications for the job.

stamping grounds

- a place where a person spends much of his time

He went back to his old stamping grounds which he remembered as a teenager.

stamp out

- destroy completely and make disappear

The government is making a great effort to stamp out smoking among teenagers.

(can`t) stand

- can`t tolerate, dislike

She can`t stand the other people in her class.

stand a chance

- have a possibility

They stand a good chance of winning the game.

stand by

- be near, waiting to do something when needed

There is a doctor standing by in case there is a medical emergency.

stand by

- follow or keep (one`s promise), be loyal to or support

She always stands by her husband when he has a problem.

stand clear of something
- keep away from something

Please stand clear of the door while we are moving the piano.

stand for

- be a sign of, make one think of

I didn`t know what the letters stood for so I was not able to write the correct name of the company.

stand for

- speak in favor of something or show that one supports it

All of the candidates stand for a platform of law and order.

stand for

- allow to happen or be done, permit

He will not stand for anybody to come to his classes late.

stand in awe of

- look upon with wonder, feel respectful to

He stands in awe of the former coach in the football department.

stand in for someone

- be a substitute for someone else

The other actor stood in for her when she was sick.

stand (someone) in good stead
- be a great advantage to someone
It will stand you in good stead with the company if you do the extra work.

stand off
- stay at a distance, stay apart
He always stands off from the rest of the students in his class.

stand off
- keep someone or something from coming near or winning
There was a stand-off at the bank between the police and the bank robbers.

stand on ceremony
- be formal
You don`t need to stand on ceremony. You can relax.

stand one`s ground
- maintain and defend one`s position
He stood his ground over his decision to fire the employee.

stand on one`s own two feet
- be independent
He learned to stand on his own two feet when he was very young.

stand out
- be more noticeable in some way than those around one
He likes to wear clothes that make him stand out from the crowd.

stand over
- watch closely, keep checking all the time
He stood over his son all day to make sure that he was studying for his final exams.

stand pat
- be satisfied with things and be against a change
We should stand pat for awhile and not do anything to cause any problems with the negotiations.

stand to reason
- make sense, be logical
If he told a lie about that it stands to reason that he will probably lie to you about other things too.

stand up
- strong enough to use for a long time
The new carpet is able to stand up to the use of many people.

stand up and be counted
- be willing to say what one thinks in public
The union members thought it was time that they stood up and were counted before management took away their benefits.

stand (someone) up
- fail to keep an appointment or date with your boyfriend or girlfriend

He stood her up on a date last Saturday and now she won`t talk to him.

stand up for

- defend against attack, fight for

The citizens of the town were ready to stand up for their rights,

stand up to someone

- be brave in confronting someone

He stood up to his boss during the meeting when his boss criticized his work.

stars in one`s eyes

- an appearance or feeling of very great happiness

She had stars in her eyes when she saw the beautiful ring that her boyfriend had bought for her.

start in

- begin a career

He started in as a mailroom clerk but soon he began to have more and more important jobs in the company.

start the ball rolling

- begin to do something

He finally started the ball rolling on their plans to build a new house.

start up

- begin operating, begin to play

He started up a small business when he was 20 years old.

stay away from

- avoid

He has been staying away from salty foods for several months now.

stay put
- stay in one place, not leave
We decided to stay put for our holidays rather than go away.

steal one`s thunder
- do or say something that another person had planned to say
He stole my thunder when he announced that he was leaving the company before me.

steal the show
- act or do so well in a performance that you get most of the attention
The little boy stole the show at the music festival.

steer clear of someone
- avoid
I have been steering clear of that person ever since our argument.

step by step
- gradually
He has made a great effort and step by step he has learned how to use a computer.

step down
- leave an important position
My father stepped down from his job as president of his company recently.

step on it
- go faster, hurry
"Step on it," he yelled as the taxi took him to the airport a little late.

step on one`s toes
- do something that embarrasses or offends someone else
He stepped on a lot of people`s toes at work and now has many enemies.

step on the gas
- go faster, hurry
I decided to step on the gas in order to get to work on time.

step up
- make something go faster or more actively
Recently we had to step up our effort to hire some new computer programmers for our company.

step up
- rise to a higher or more important position, be promoted
He stepped up to the position of manager after the old manager was fired.

stew in one`s own juice
- suffer from something that one has caused to happen oneself
He is stewing in his own juice after he got into trouble for being late.

stick around
- stay or wait nearby
We decided to stick around after the game to talk for awhile.

- someone who is old-fashioned, someone who doesn`t want to join in with others
He is a stick-in-the-mud and will never join in any of the activities at a party.

stick one`s neck out
- take risks, support someone
He never sticks his neck out for anyone at work and therefore has few friends.

stick it out
- endure, continue
She doesn`t like her new job but plans to stick it out until she saves enough money to go to Europe.

stick to (a story/the facts)
- remain faithful to something
Please stick to the facts when you tell the story to the police.

stick to one`s guns
- defend an action or opinion despite an unfavorable reaction
He is sticking to his guns on his decision to fire the manager of the store.

stick up
- rob with a gun
A man with a gun tried to stick up my mother when I was a child.

stick up for
- defend, help, support
He always sticks up for the younger workers at his company.

stick with
- continue doing, not quit
He has been able to stick with his trumpet lessons since he was a child.

stick with
- stay with, not leave
If you stick with your job for a few years you will be able to save a lot of money.

stick (someone) with
- leave someone with something unpleasant
I was stuck with paying the bill when I went to the restaurant with my friends.

sticky fingers
- the habit of stealing things that one sees and wants
The young boy has sticky fingers and you must watch him all the time.

- terrible, bad quality
Do you like that new policy at your company? No, I think it stinks.

stir up
- cause some action to occur, rouse
The man`s angry words stirred up the crowd and made them very angry.

stir up a hornet`s nest
- make many people angry, do something that many people don`t like
He stirred up a hornet`s nest when he began to talk about the problems with the bonus system at his job.

- having no money
He was stone-broke after he came back from his holiday in Greece.

stop by
- visit, pass by
Why don`t you stop by my house on your way home?

stop dead/cold
- stop very quickly or with great force
He stopped dead when he saw the bear in the middle of the road.

stop in one`s tracks
- stop very quickly or with great force
The elephant was forced to stop in its tracks by the electric fence.

stop off
- stop at a place for a short time while going somewhere
We decided to stop off in New York City on our way to Egypt.

stop over
- stay at a place overnight or for a short time while on a trip
The plane had to stop over in Alaska because one of the passengers had a heart attack.

straight from the horse`s mouth
- directly from the person involved
I went over to my friend`s house so that I could hear about her wedding straight from the horse`s mouth.

straight from the shoulder
- open and honest way of speaking
He always speaks straight from the shoulder.

straight out
- plainly, in a way that hides nothing
He was told straight out by his boss that his work was not satisfactory.

straighten up
- put in order, clean up
He had to straighten up the house before inviting his parents over for dinner.

strapped for cash
- have no money available
I am a little strapped for cash so I won`t be able to go away this summer.

straw in the wind
- a small sign of what may happen
When the company began to try and cut back on expenses it was a straw in the wind as to what would happen in the future.

straw that breaks the camel`s back
- a small problem which follows other troubles that makes you lose patience and be unable to continue as before
Recently she has caused many problems in this company. However, when she lost the key to the front door of the office it was the straw that broke the camel`s back and we decided to fire her.

stretch a point
- agree to something beyond the limit of what is normally allowed
I think it is stretching a point to think you can go and take a two-hour lunch break.

strike it rich
- become rich or successful suddenly
He struck it rich when he got a job at the computer company and was able to buy some stock very cheap.

strike out
- be put out of action through one`s own errors
He struck out in his attempt to gather enough support to build a new cafeteria in the building.

strike while the iron is hot
- take advantage of an opportunity
He decided to strike while the iron was hot and quickly applied for the job.

string along
- deceive or fool
He tried to string me along with his story about his sick mother.

string out
- make something extend over a great distance or over a long period of time
The games of the soccer tournament were strung out over a period of about 3 weeks.

strings attached
- obligations, restraining conditions
He was able to borrow the money for the furniture with no strings attached.

stuck on
- very much in love with, crazy about
My niece has been stuck on the boy next door for several months now.

stuck up
- acting as if other people are not as good as one is, conceited
We don`t like the new woman at work because she is very stuck up and thinks she is much better than the rest of us.

stuffed shirt
- a person who is too rigid or too formal
He is a stuffed shirt and I never feel comfortable to try and talk with him.

sucker list
- a list of easily-fooled people who are easily persuaded to buy something
The salesmen used a sucker list to try and get people to buy his new product.

sugar daddy
- a rich older man who gives money to a younger woman for her companionship
The woman went off on a nice winter holiday with her sugar daddy.

sum up
- put something into a few words, summarize
He summed up his presentation and asked for questions from the audience.

sunny-side up
- eggs fried on one side only
We asked for our eggs to be fried sunny-side up at the restaurant.

sure thing
- something sure to happen, something about which there is no doubt
His promotion to senior manager is a sure thing according to the president.

sure thing
- of course, certainly
"Sure thing, I would be glad to help you with your homework tonight."

swallow one`s pride
- bring one`s pride under control, become humble
I had to swallow my pride and go and ask my supervisor for some extra money.

- overwhelmed
I am a little swamped with work at the moment so I can`t meet you tonight.

swan song
- final appearance
He was a big hit during his swan song at the party last week.

swear by
- use as the support or authority that what one is saying is truthful
The accused criminal was asked to swear on a bible at the trial.

swear by
- have complete confidence in , be sure of something
He swears by the walk that he takes every morning.

swear in
- have a person promise to do his duty as a member of an organization or government dept. etc.
The new Prime Minister was sworn in last night at the parliament.

swear off
- decide to give up something that you are in the habit of using
My friend swore off alcohol several years ago.

sweat bullets/blood
- be nervous, be very worried
I was sweating bullets during the interview but after it started I was able to calm down.

sweat out
- wait anxiously, worry while waiting
I spent the evening sweating out whether or not I would get the job or not.

sweep off one`s feet
- overcome with strong feelings
We were swept off our feet over the excitement of the ceremony.

sweep under the rug
- hide or dismiss casually
They always sweep their problems under the rug and never want to discuss them.

sweetie pie
- darling, sweetheart
He always calls his wife sweetie pie. Even after they have been married for 30 years.

sweet on
- in love with, very fond of
He was sweet on his next door neighbor when he was a child.

sweet talk
- praise or flatter someone to get what you want
My sister tried to sweet talk our father into giving her the car but he said no.

swelled head
- a feeling that one is more important than one really is
He has a swelled head since he got the new position in his company.

swim against the tide/current
- do the opposite of what most people want to do
He is always swimming against the tide and never wants to do what his friends are doing.

switched on
- in tune with the latest fads, ideas and fashions
His aunt is really switched on and looks much younger than her age.

Last edited by Argus; Sunday, October 15, 2006 at 03:21 AM.
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Idiom #1
Explanation of Idiom #1
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Old Monday, October 31, 2005
Abdul Salam Khan's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Quetta
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Abdul Salam Khan has strived to post impressive Idioms for kind perusal of forum Members.

Across the board, at a loss


bail a company out, ball park figure/estimate, bang for the buck, banker's hours, bean-counter, big gun/cheese/wheel/wig, bottom fall out/drop out, bottom line, bottom out, boys/men in the backroom, break even, budget squeeze/crunch, buy off, buy out, by a long shot


calculated risk, captain of industry, carry over, carry the day, carry through, close out, close the books, cold call, come on strong, company man, company town, cut back, cut corners, cut off, cut one's losses


deliver the goods, double-check


face value, fair play, figure out, fill the bill, finger in the pie


gain ground, get a break, get off the ground, give someone the green light, go public, go through with


hard sell, heads will roll


in black and white, in charge of, in short supply, in stock, in the black, in the long run, in the market for, in the red, in the works


jack up


keep books, keep track of, kickback


make a go of, mean business, number-cruncher


on hand, (buy) on credit, on the block


pay off, piece/slice of the action


red ink, run short


saddled with debt, sell like hotcakes, sell out, strike while the iron is hot, sweetheart deal


take a nosedive, take on, take over, take public, take stock, throw cold water on, throw money at something, tight spot, turn over


work out, write off

across the board

MEANING: including everyone or everything


The computer company decided to give the workers an across-the-board increase in their salary.

at a loss

MEANING: sell something and lose money


We were forced to sell the computers at a big loss.

bail a company out

MEANING: help or rescue a company with financial problems.


The government decided to bail out the failing bank in order to maintain stability in the economy.

ball park figure/estimate

MEANING: a rough estimate or figure


The contractor gave us a ball park figure for the cost of repairing the new building.

bang for the buck

MEANING: value for the money spent


We were able to get a big bang for our buck when we advertised on the Internet.

banker's hours

MEANING: short work hours


My sister's husband owns his own company and is able to work banker's hours with his large staff.


MEANING: an accountant


We asked the bean-counters to look over the figures in the new budget.

big gun/cheese/wheel/wig

MEANING: an important person, a leader


The new director was a big wheel in his previous company but is not so important now.

bottom fall out/drop out

MEANING: to fall below an earlier lowest price


When the bottom fell out of the coffee market many companies had to stop doing business.

bottom line

MEANING: the total, the final figure on a balance sheet


When they examined the bottom line of the company they decided not to invest in it.

bottom out

MEANING: reach the lowest or worst point of something


The value of the stock has begun to bottom out and should soon begin to increase in value.

boys/men in the backroom

MEANING: a group of men making decisions behind the scenes


The boys in the backroom told us that we must close down the factory as soon as possible.

break even

MEANING: have expenses equal to profits


After only three months the company was able to break even and start making profits.

budget squeeze/crunch

MEANING: a situation where there is not enough money in the budget


We have been going through a severe budget squeeze at our company and must begin to stop spending money in a wasteful manner.

buy off

MEANING: use a gift or money to divert someone from their duty or purpose


The land developer tried to buy off the politician but he was not successful.

buy out

MEANING: buy the ownership or a decisive share of something


The company was bought out by another large company in the textile industry.

by a long shot

MEANING: by a big difference, by far


The soap company was able to beat out the bids of the other companies by a long shot.

calculated risk

MEANING: an action that may fail but has a good chance to succeed


They took a calculated risk when they introduced the new computer screen onto the market.

captain of industry

MEANING: a top corporation officer


The president of our company was a captain of industry and after he retired he was appointed to many government boards.

carry over

MEANING: save for another time


We were forced to carry over the sale to the Monday after the national holiday.

carry over

MEANING: transfer (a figure) from one column or book to another


Our company is still facing difficult times and we will have to carry over last year's losses to this year.

carry the day

MEANING: win completely


The president's new idea carried the day and everyone supported him energetically.

carry through

MEANING: put into action


The steel company carried through their plan to restructure all of their operations.

close out

MEANING: sell the whole of something, sell all the goods


They decided to close out the store and sell all of the remaining stock very cheap.

close the books

MEANING: stop taking orders, end a bookkeeping period


They usually close the books at the end of February every year.

cold call

MEANING: call a potential customer from a list of persons one has never seen


When he first started to work at his company he was asked to make cold calls using the telephone book.

come on strong

MEANING: overwhelm with excessively strong language or personality


The salesman came on too strong at the meeting and angered the other members of the team.

company man

MEANING: a person who always works hard and agrees with his employees


My father was a true company man and was always putting in an extra effort for his company.

company town

MEANING: a town dominated by one industry or company


When the coal mine closed down the company town faced severe economic times.

cut back

MEANING: use fewer or use less


The company has been cutting back on entertainment expenses for over a year now.

cut corners

MEANING: economize


We have been forced to economize on stationary expenses during these severe economic times.

cut off

MEANING: interrupt or stop


The speech of the president was cut off when the electricity went off in the building.

cut one's losses

MEANING: do something to stop losing money or something


We should sell the old machinery as soon as possible and try and cut our losses.

deliver the goods

MEANING: succeed in doing well what is expected


The new owner of the company is not very popular but he is able to deliver the goods.


MEANING: check something again to confirm


We were unable to double-check the costs of the new products before the price list was printed.

face value

MEANING: the official worth or trust of something


Although the face value of the postage stamp was very low it sold at the auction for much money.

fair play

MEANING: justice, equal and right action to someone


The company is very good to work for as they always use fair play when they are bargaining with their employees.

figure out

MEANING: find an answer by thinking about something


Everyone in our company is trying to figure out what our boss is going to do with the new equipment.

fill the bill

MEANING: be just what is needed


That new machine should fill the bill as to what we need to finish the job.

finger in the pie

MEANING: involved in what is happening, receiving money for something


The new manager has his finger in the pie in all aspects of our company's business.

gain ground

MEANING: go forward, make progress


Our company has been gaining ground in our attempt to be the best in the industry.

get a break

MEANING: get an opportunity or good deal


We were able to get a break on the price of the paint and saved a lot of money.

get off the ground

MEANING: make a successful beginning, go ahead


We were unable to get the new product off the ground and will have to wait until next year.

give someone the green light

MEANING: give permission to go ahead with a project


Our boss gave us the green light to begin work on the new sales promotion.

go public

MEANING: sell shares of a privately owned company to the public


The stock of the Internet company rose very quickly when they went public.

go through with

MEANING: finish, do as planned or agreed


We have decided not to go through with our plans to launch the new product until we have solved all of its problems.

hard sell

MEANING: sell something by being very aggressive


The car salesman gave us a hard sell so we decided to go to another dealer.

heads will roll

MEANING: someone will be punished


Heads will roll when our boss learns about the money that we have lost recently.

in black and white

MEANING: in writing


The company refused to deal with the customer's complaints until they saw them in black and white.

in charge of

MEANING: in control of, responsible for


My sister has been in charge of buying supplies at her company for many years.

in short supply

MEANING: not enough, in less than the amount or number needed


Experienced computer programmers are in short supply at our company.

in stock

MEANING: have something ready to sell or use


They didn't have any computer printer ribbons in stock at the store.

in the black

MEANING: successful or making money


The new company has been in the black for over a year now.

in the long run

MEANING: in the final result


The company has been losing money recently but in the long run they should do very well.

in the market for

MEANING: ready to buy something


We have been in the market for a new computer for a long time but still we haven't bought one.

in the red

MEANING: losing money, unprofitable


The company began to go into the red when the price of oil began to rise rapidly.

in the works

MEANING: in preparation, being planned or worked on


The camera company has a new automatic camera in the works but nobody knows about it yet.

jack up

MEANING: make a price higher


The steel companies decided to jack up the price of steel at the beginning of the year.

keep books

MEANING: keep records of money gained and spent


The new assistant to the sales manager has no experience keeping books and has made many mistakes.

keep track of

MEANING: keep a count or record, stay informed


They have been making a great effort to keep track of the number of visitors to their store.


MEANING: money paid illegally for favourable treatment


The construction company was taken to court for giving kickbacks to the local politicians.

make a go of

MEANING: produce good results, succeed


Although he works very hard in his small business he has been unable to make a go of it and may soon go out of business.

mean business

MEANING: be serious


Our boss means business when he tells everyone to try and work harder.


MEANING: an accountant, someone who works with numbers


Our president is a good number-cruncher and understands about the finances of our company.

on hand

MEANING: in one's possession, ready


We didn't have any supplies on hand and were unable to finish the job.

(buy) on credit

MEANING: buy something without paying cash


My friend had no money so he decided to buy the furniture on credit.

on the block

MEANING: for sale


As soon as they purchased the company they began to put some of the equipment on the block.

pay off

MEANING: make a profit, be successful


The furniture manufacturer was unable to pay off their loan and had to go out of business.

piece/slice of the action

MEANING: a share in the activity or the profits of something


The inventor wanted a large piece of the action of the profits from the new computer that he had invented.

red ink

MEANING: debt (red ink on a financial statement)


The automobile company has been drowning in red ink since the US dollar began to rise.

run short

MEANING: not have enough in quantity


They ran short of gasoline at the gas station and had to close early.

saddled with debt

MEANING: burdened with debt


Our sister company is saddled with a great amount of debt and should be sold as soon as possible.

sell like hotcakes

MEANING: sell very quickly


The children's toys were selling like hotcakes at the end of the year.

sell out

MEANING: sell all of a product


Every year at least one company sells out all of their products which frustrates many customers.

strike while the iron is hot

MEANING: take advantage of an opportunity


We decided to strike while the iron was hot and began to market the product around the time of the Olympics.

sweetheart deal

MEANING: a deal made between friends so that both may make a big profit


We were able to make a sweetheart deal with our landlord and got the rent greatly reduced.

take a nosedive

MEANING: collapse, fail, decrease in value


The stock market took a nosedive when the earnings of the oil company began to weaken.

take on

MEANING: to give a job to or hire someone


The company took on many new workers during the busy holiday season.

take over

MEANING: take control or possession of something, take charge or responsibility


The government decided to take over the bank after it declared bankruptcy.

take public

MEANING: sell shares in a company to the general public


We decided it was necessary to take our company public in order to raise money to expand our facilities.

take stock

MEANING: count the items of merchandise or supplies in stock, take inventory


The department store closes down for 3 days every March in order to take stock.

throw cold water on

MEANING: discourage, forbid


The managers threw cold water on the plans to close down the factory for one week in August.

throw money at something

MEANING: try to solve a problem by spending money on it


The president of our company is willing to throw a lot of money at the problem in the hope of solving it.

tight spot

MEANING: a difficult situation


The computer manufacturing company has been in a tight spot since the shortage of computer chips appeared.

turn over

MEANING: to buy and then sell something to customers


The turn-over at that discount store is very rapid.

work out

MEANING: plan, develop


I spent the weekend trying to work out the budget estimates for next year.

write off

MEANING: remove from a business record, cancel a debt


It was impossible for the bank to collect the money so they were forced to write off the loan.

With Best regards
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