Idioms

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Idioms

  1. 1. 1. A bitter pill - A situation or information that is unpleasant but must be accepted.2. Ace in the hole - A hidden or secret strength, or unrevealed advantage.3. Add insult to injury - To further a loss with mockery or indignity; to worsen an unfavorable situation .4. All ears - Listening intently; fully focused or Awaiting an explanation.5. All thumbs - Clumsy, awkward.6. Barking up the wrong tree - Looking in the wrong place.7. Basket case - One made powerless or ineffective, as by nerves, panic or stress.8. Beat around the bush – To treat a topic, but omit its main points, often intentionally or To delay or avoid talking about something difficult or unpleasant.9. Bite off more than one can chew - To take on more responsibility than you can manage.10. Bite the bullet - To endure a painful or unpleasant situation that is unavoidable.11. Bite the dust - Euphemism for dying or death.12. Break a leg - A saying from the theatre which means "good luck."13. Burning the midnight oil - To work late into the night, alluding to the time before electric lighting.
  2. 2. 14. Bust your chops - To say things intended to harass.15. By the seat of your pants - To achieve through instinct or do something without advance preparation.16. By the skin of your teeth - Narrowly; barely. Usually used in regard to a narrow escape from a disaster.17. Call it a day - To declare the end of a task.18. Chew the fat - To chat idly or generally waste time talking.19. Clam up - To become silent; to stop talking, to shut up.20. Cold shoulder - To display aloofness and disdain.21. Dont have a cow - Dont overreact.22. Drop a dime - Make a telephone call.23. Fit as a fiddle - In good physical health.24. For a song - Almost free. Very cheap.25. From A to Z - Covering a complete range; comprehensively.26. Get bent out of shape - Getting worked up, aggravated, or overly annoyed at something that usually cannot be helped.27. Hit the road - To leave.
  3. 3. 28. Hit the sack - To go to bed.29. (Take a) Kick at the can - Make an attempt, or produce an initial document/design/idea/etc.30. Kick the bucket - Euphemism for dying or death31. Off your trolley or Off your rocker - Crazy, demented, out of ones mind, in a confused or befuddled state of mind, senile.32. Pop ones clogs - Euphemism for dying or death33. Piece of cake - A job, task or other activity that is pleasant – or, by extension, easy or simple.34. Pushing up daisies - Euphemism for dying or death.35. Right as rain - Needed, appropriate, essential, or hoped-for and has come to mean perfect, well, absolutely right.36. Screw the pooch - To screw up; to fail in dramatic and ignominious fashion.37. Shoot the breeze - To chat idly or generally waste time talking.38. Sleep with the fishes - Euphemism for dying or death.39. Take the biscuit - To be particularly bad, objectionable, or egregious.40. Take the cake - To be especially good or outstanding.
  4. 4. 41. Through thick and thin - Both good and bad times.42. Trip the light fantastic - Euphemism for dancing43. Under the weather - Feel sick or poorly44.A bit much :If something is excessive or annoying, it is a bit much.45.A chain is no stronger than its weakest link :This means that processes, organisations,etc, are vulnerable because the weakest person or part can always damage or break them.46.A day late and a dollar short: If something is a day late and a dollar short, it is toolittle, too late.47.A fool and his money are soon parted:This idiom means that people who arent carefulwith their money spend it quickly. A fool and his money are easily parted is an alternativeform of the idiom.48.A fool at 40 is a fool forever:If someone hasnt matured by the time they reach forty,they never will.49.A hitch in your giddy-up:If you have a hitch in your giddy-up, youre not feeling well. (Ahitch in your gittie-up is also used.)50.A lick and a promise:If you give something a lick and a promise, you do it hurriedly, mostoften incompletely, intending to return to it later.
  5. 5. 51.A little bird told me:If someone doesnt want to say where they got some informationfrom, they can say that a little bird told them.52.A little learning is a dangerous thing:A small amount of knowledge can cause people tothink they are more expert than they really are.eg. he said hed done a course on homeelectrics, but when he tried to mend my table lamp, he fused all the lights! I think a littlelearning is a dangerous thing53.A long row to hoe:Something that is a long row to hoe is a difficult task that takes along time.54.A lost ball in the high weeds:A lost ball in the high weeds is someone who does not knowwhat they are doing, where they are or how to do something.55.A month of Sundays:A month of Sundays is a long period of time: I havent seen her ina month of Sundays.56.A OK:If things are A OK, they are absolutely fine.57.A penny for your thoughts:This idiom is used as a way of asking someone what they arethinking about.58.A penny saved is a penny earned:This means that we shouldnt spend or waste money,but try to save it.
  6. 6. 59.A picture is worth a thousand words:A picture can often get a message across muchbetter than the best verbal description.60.A poor mans something:Something or someone that can be compared to something orsomeone else, but is not as good is a poor mans version; a writer who uses lots of puns butisnt very funny would be a poor mans Oscar Wilde.61.A pretty penny:If something costs a pretty penny, it is very expensive.62.A problem shared is a problem halved:If you talk about your problems, it will make youfeel better.63.A rising tide lifts all boats:This idiom, coined by John F Kennedy, describes the ideathat when an economy is performing well, all people will benefit from it.64.A rolling stone gathers no moss:People say this to mean that that an ambitious person ismore successful than a person not trying to achieve anything. Originally it meant theopposite and was critical of people trying to get ahead.65.A slice off a cut loaf is never missed:Used colloquially to describe having sexualintercourse with someone who is not a virgin, especially when they are in a relationship.The analogy refers to a loaf of bread; it is not readily apparent, once the end has beenremoved, exactly how many slices have been taken.(You never miss a slice from a cut loaf
  7. 7. is also used.)66.A steal:If something is a steal, it costs much less than it is really worth.67.A still tongue keeps a wise head:Wise people dont talk much.68.A watched pot never boils:Some things work out in their own time, so being impatientand constantly checking will just make things seem longer.69.A1:If something is A1, it is the very best or finest.70.Abide by a decision:If you abide by a decision, you accept it and comply with it, eventhough you might disagree with it.71.Abject lesson: An abject lesson serves as a warning to others. (In some varieties ofEnglish object lesson is used.)72.About as useful as a chocolate teapot:Someone or something that is of no practical useis about as useful as a chocolate teapot.73.About face:If someone changes their mind completely, this is an about face. It can beused when companies, governments, etc, change their position on an issue.74.Above board:If things are done above board, they are carried out in a legal and propermanner.75.Above par:Better than average or normal
  8. 8. 76.Absence makes the heart grow fonder:This idiom means that when people are apart,their love grows stronger.77.Accident waiting to happen:If something is an accident waiting to happen, theresdefinitely going to be an accident or its bound to go wrong. (Disaster waiting to happenis also used.)78.Ace in the hole:An ace in the hole is something other people are not aware of that canbe used to your advantage when the time is right.79.Ace up your sleeve:If you have an ace up your sleeve, you have something that will giveyou an advantage that other people dont know about.80.Achilles heel:A persons weak spot is their Achilles heel.81.Acid test:An acid test is something that proves whether something is good, effective,etc, or not.82.Across the board:If something applies to everybody, it applies across the board.83.Across the ditch:This idiom means on the other side of the Tasman Sea, used to referto Australia or New Zealand depending on the speakers location.84.Across the pond:This idiom means on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, used torefer to the US or the UK depending on the speakers location.
  9. 9. 85.Act of God:An act of God is something like an earthquake or floods that human beingscannot prevent or control.86.Act of war:An act of war is a action that is either intended to start a war or that isinterpreted as being sufficient cause for a war.87.Actions speak louder than words:This idiom means that what people actually do is moreimportant than what they say- people can promise things but then fail to deliver.88.Adams apple:The Adams apple is a bulge in the throat, mostly seen in men.89.Add fuel to the fire:If people add fuel to the fire, they make a bad situation worse.90.Add insult to injury:When people add insult to injury, they make a bad situation evenworse.91.After your own heart:A person after your own heart thinks the same way as you.92.Against the clock:If you do something against the clock, you are rushed and have verylittle time to do it.93.Against the grain:If doing something goes against the grain, youre unwilling to do itbecause it contradicts what you believe in, but you have no real choice.94.Age before beauty:When this idiom is used, it is a way of allowing an older person to dosomething first, though often in a slightly sarcastic way.
  10. 10. 95.Agony aunt:An agony aunt is a newspaper columnist who gives advice to people havingproblems, especially personal ones.96.Ahead of the pack:If you are ahead of the pack, you have made more progress thanyour rivals.97.Ahead of time:If something happens ahead of time, it happens early or before the settime.98.Air your dirty laundry in public:If you air your dirty laundry in public, you reveal aspectsof your private life that should really remain private, by telling a secret, arguing in public,etc.99.Albatross around your neck:An albatross around, or round, your neck is a problemresulting from something you did that stops you from being successful.100.Alike as two peas:If people or things are as alike as two peas, they are identical.101.Alive and kicking:If something is active and doing well, it is alive and kicking. (It can beused for people too.)102.All along:If you have known or suspected something all along, then you have felt thisfrom the beginning.103.All and sundry:This idiom is a way of emphasising all, like saying each and every one.
  11. 11. 104.All bark and no bite:When someone talks tough but really isnt, they are all bark andno bite.105.All bets are off:If all bets are off, then agreements that have been made no longerapply.106.All dressed up and nowhere to go:Youre prepared for something that isnt going tohappen.107.All ears:If someone says theyre all ears, they are very interested in hearing aboutsomething.108.All eyes on me:If all eyes are on someone, then everyone is paying attention to them.109.All fingers and thumbs:If youre all fingers and thumbs, you are too excited or clumsyto do something properly that requires manual dexterity. All thumbs is an alternativeform of the idiom.110.All hat, no cattle:When someone talks big, but cannot back it up, they are all hat, nocattle.(Big hat, no cattle is also used.)111All heart:Someone who is all heart is very kind and generous.112.All hell broke loose:When all hell breaks loose, there is chaos, confusion and trouble.113.All in a days work:If something is all in a days work, it is nothing special.
  12. 12. 114.All in your head:If something is all in your head, you have imagined it and it is not real.115.All mod cons:If something has all mod cons, it has all the best and most desirablefeatures. It is an abbreviation of modern convenience that was used in house adverts.116.All mouth and trousers:Someone whos all mouth and trousers talks or boasts a lot butdoesnt deliver. All mouth and no trousers is also used, though this is a corruption of theoriginal.117.All my eye and Peggy Martin:An idiom that appears to have gone out of use but wasprevalent in the English north Midlands of Staffordshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire fromat least the turn of the 20th century until the early 1950s or so. The idioms meaning isliterally something said or written that is unbelievable, rumor, over embellished, the resultof malicious village gossip etc.118.All of the above:This idiom can be used to mean everything that has been said orwritten, especially all the choices or possibilities.119.All over bar the shouting:When something is all over bar the shouting, the outcome isabsolutely certain.(All over but the shouting is also used.)120.All over the map:If something like a discussion is all over the map, it doesnt stick tothe main topic and goes off on tangents.
  13. 13. 121.All over the place:If something is completely disorganised or confused, it is all overthe place.122.All over the shop:If something is completely disorganised or confused, it is all over theshop.123.All over the show:If something is all over the show, its in a complete mess.Analternative to All over the shop.124.All roads lead to Rome:This means that there can be many different ways of doingsomething.125.All set:If youre all set, you are ready for something.126.All sixes:If something is all sixes, it doesnt matter how its done; its the same assix of one and half a dozen of the other.127.All skin and bone:If a person is very underweight, they are all skin and bone, or bones.128.All square:If something is all square, nobody has an advantage or is ahead of theothers.129.All talk and no trousers:Someone who is all talk and no trousers, talks about doing big,important things, but doesnt take any action.130.All that glitters is not gold:This means that appearances can be deceptive and things
  14. 14. that look or sound valuable can be worthless. (All that glistens is not gold is analternative.)131.All the rage:If somethings all the rage, it is very popular or fashionable at themoment.132.All the tea in China:If someone wont do something for all the tea in China, they wontdo it no matter how much money they are offered.133.All your eggs in one basket:If you put all your eggs in one basket, you risk everythingat once, instead of trying to spread the risk. (This is often used as a negative imperative-Dont put all your eggs in one basket. Have your eggs in one basket is also used.)134.Alls fair in love and war:This idiom is used to say that where there is conflict, peoplecan be expected to behave in a more vicious way.135.Alls well that ends well:If the end result is good, then everything is good.136.All-singing, all-dancing:If somethings all-singing, all-dancing, it is the latest versionwith the most up-to-date features.137.Alter ego:An alter ego is a very close and intimate friend. It is a Latin phrase thatliterally means other self.138.Always a bridesmaid, never a bride:If someone is always a bridesmaid, never a bride,
  15. 15. they never manage to fulfill their ambition- they get close, but never manage therecognition, etc, they crave.139.Ambulance chaser:A lawyer who encourages people who have been in accidents orbecome ill to sue for compensation is an ambulance chaser.140.Amen:Some use Amen or Amen to that as a way of agreeing with something thathas just been said.141.An apple a day keeps the doctor away:Eating healthy food keeps you healthy.142.An old flame:An old flame is a person that somebody has had an emotional, usuallypassionate, relationship with, who is still looked on fondly and with affection.143.An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure:This expression means that is isbetter to try to avoid problems in the first place, rather than trying to fix them once theyarise.144.And all that jazz:This idiom means that everything related or similar is included.145.Angry as a bear:If someone is as angry as a bear, they are very angry.(Angry as abear with a sore foot is also used.)146.Angry as a bull:If someone is as angry as a bull, they are very angry.147.Answers on a postcard:This idiom can be used to suggest that the answer to something
  16. 16. is very obvious or that the person would really like to hear what people think.148.Ants in your pants:If someone has ants in their pants, they are agitated or excitedabout something and cant keep still.149.Any port in a storm:This means that in an emergency any solution will do, even one thatwould normally be unacceptable.150.Any Tom, Dick or Harry:If something could be done by any Tom, Dick or Harry, itcould be done by absolutely anyone.151.Apple of your eye:Something or, more often, someone that is very special to you is theapple of your eye.152.Apple pie order:Everything is in perfect order and tidy if it is in apple pie order.153.Apples and oranges:This used when people compare or describe two totally differentthings. (Apples to oranges is also used.)154.Apples for apples:An apples for apples comparison is a comparison between related orsimilar things. (Apples to apples is also used.)155.Apron strings:A man who is tied to a womans apron strings is excessively dependenton her, especially when it is his mothers apron strings.156.Argue the toss:If you argue the toss, you refuse to accept a decision and argue about
  17. 17. it.157.Arm and a leg:If something costs an arm and a leg, it is very expensive.158.Armchair critic:An armchair critic is someone who offers advice but never shows thatthey could actually do any better.159.Armed to the teeth:If people are armed to the teeth, they have lots of weapons.160.Around the clock:If something is open around the clock, it is open 24 hours a day. Forexample, an airport is open around the clock.161.Arrow in the quiver:An arrow in the quiver is a strategy or option that could be used toachieve your objective.162.As a rule:If you do something as a rule, then you usually do it.163.As cold as ice:This idiom can be used to describe a person who does not show anyemotion.164.As cold as stone:If something is as cold as stone, it is very cold. If a person is as coldas stone, they are unemotional.165.As cool as a cucumber:If someone is as cool as a cucumber, they dont get worried byanything.166.As good as new:If something has been used but is still in extremely good condition, it
  18. 18. is as good as new.167.As mad as a hatter:This simile means that someone is crazy or behaves very strangely.In the past many people who made hats went insane because they had a lot of contact withmercury.168.As mad as a wrongly shot hog:If someone is as mad as a wrongly shot hog, they arevery angry. (Same as, Angry as a bear or Angry as a bull).169.As much use as a chocolate fire-guard:A fire-guard is used in front of a fireplace forsafety. A chocolate fire-guard is of no use. An alternative to As much use as a chocolateteapot.170.As much use as a chocolate teapot:Something that is as much use as a chocolateteapot is not useful at all.171.As much use as a handbrake on a canoe:This idiom is used to describe someone orsomething as worthless or pointless.172.As neat as a new pin:This idiom means tidy and clean.173.As one man:If people do something as one man, then they do it at exactly the sametime or in complete agreement.174.As the actress said to the bishop:This idiom is used to highlight a sexual reference,
  19. 19. deliberate or accidental.175.As the crow flies:This idiom is used to describe the shortest possible distancebetween two places.176.As you sow, so shall you reap:This means that if you do bad things to people, badthings will happen to you, or good things if you do good things.177.Asleep at the switch:If someone is asleep at the switch, they are not doing their jobor taking their responsibilities very carefully. Asleep at the wheel is an alternative.178.Asleep at the wheel:If someone is asleep at the wheel, they are not doing their job ortaking their responsibilities very carefully. Asleep at the switch is an alternative.179.At a drop of a dime:If someone will do something at the drop of a dime, they will do itinstantly, without hesitation.180.At a loose end:If you are at a loose end, you have spare time but dont know what todo with it.181.At a loss:If you are at a loss, you are unable to understand or comply.182.At a snails pace:If something moves at a snails pace, it moves very slowly.183.At arms length:If something is at arms length, it is a safe distance waway from you.184.At cross purposes:When people are at cross purposes, they misunderstand each other
  20. 20. or have different or opposing objectives.185.At daggers drawn:If people are at daggers drawn, they are very angry and close toviolence.186.At deaths door:If someone looks as if they are at deaths door, they look seriouslyunwell and might actually be dying.187.At each others throats:If people are at each others throats, they are fighting,arguing or competing ruthlessly.188.At full tilt:If something is at full tilt, it is going or happening as fast or as hard aspossible.189.At large:If a criminal is at large, they have not been found or caught.190.At loggerheads:If people are at loggerheads, they are arguing and cant agree onanything.191.At loose ends:If you are at a loose end, you have spare time but dont know what to dowith it.192.At odds:If you are at odds with someone, you cannot agree with them and argue.193.At sea:If things are at sea, or all at sea, they are disorganized and chaotic.194.At the bottom of the totem pole:If someone is at the bottom of the totem pole, they
  21. 21. are unimportant. Opposite is at the top of the totem pole.195.At the coalface:If you work at the coalface, you deal with the real problems andissues, rather than sitting in a office discussing things in a detached way.196.At the drop of a hat:If you would do something at the drop of a hat, youd do itimmediately.197.At the end of the day:This is used to mean in conclusion or when all is said anddone.198.At the end of your rope:If you are at the end of your rope, you are at the limit of yourpatience or endurance.199.At the end of your tether:If you are at the end of your tether, you are at the limit ofyour patience or endurance.200.At the fore:In a leading position201.At the top of my lungs:If you shout at the top of your lungs, you shout as loudly as youpossibly can.202.At the top of the list:If something is at the top of the list, it is of highest priority,most important, most urgent, or the next in ones line of attention.203.At the top of your lungs:If you shout at the top of your lungs, you shout as loudly as
  22. 22. you possibly can.204.At the top of your voice:If you talk, shout or sing at the top of your voice, you do it asloudly as you can.205.At your wits end:If youre at your wits end, you really dont know what you should doabout something, no matter how hard you think about it.206.At your wits end:If you are at your wits end, you have no idea what to do next andare very frustrated.207.Average Joe:An average Joe is an ordinary person without anything exceptional aboutthem.208.Avowed intent:If someone makes a solemn or serious promise publicly to attempt toreach a certain goal, this is their avowed intent.209.Away with the fairies:If someone is away with the fairies, they dont face reality andhave unrealistic expectations of life.210.Awe inspiring:Something or someone that is awe inspiring amazes people in a slightlyfrightening but positive way.211.AWOL:AWOL stands for "Absent Without Leave", or "Absent Without Official Leave".Orignially a military term, it is used when someone has gone missing without telling anyone
  23. 23. or asking for permission.212.Axe to grind:If you have an axe to grind with someone or about something, you have agrievance, a resentment and you want to get revenge or sort it out. In American English, itis ax.

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