all hell will let loose

Meaning: a situation suddenly becomes noisy and violent, usually with a lot of people arguing or fighting

Example: All hell will let loose when the caged animals break out of their cages.

hit the road

Meaning: depart

Example: We’d better pack the car and hit the road before it gets dark.

alma mater

Meaning: the school, college, or university that one attended or in which one has studied

Example: He was delighted when he was offered the position of professor of English at his alma mater.

a hard (tough) nut to crack

Meaning: a problem that is difficult to solve

Example: She’s such a tough nut to crack. Nobody seems to be able to get through to her.

ahead of the curve

Meaning: better than others

Example: His ideas are so innovative, he is way ahead of the curve. He might end up running the company at this rate.

apple pie order

Meaning: neat and tidy in the arrangement

Example: My mother is always cleaning. The house is in apple-pie order.

anything but

Meaning: by no means

Example: We went to see that new action film on Thursday night and it was anything but good, in fact, I fell asleep.

a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor

Meaning: a proverb that means easy situations can never improve you or make you better

Example: You are just cutting days in the comfort of your home and spending your parents’ money. You need to really get out and face the actual life. Remember, a smooth sea has never made a skilled sailor.

at odds

Meaning: to disagree about something

Example: They are at odds about the fundraiser that I being held on Saturday.

a fish out of water

Meaning: being uncomfortable and restless

Example: Our new teacher looked like a fish out of the water, nobody was aware of the issue.


Meaning: the effects of something traumatic

Example: A lot of countries sent help in the aftermath of the earthquake.

trouble shared is trouble halved

Meaning: a trouble shared is a trouble halved

Example: Don’t hesitate to share your problems with me. After all, a problem shared is a problem halved.

all roads lead to Rome

Meaning: all the routes are directed towards the center

Example: Take any route of your choice because all roads lead to Rome.

apples to oranges

Meaning: the items that cannot be compared with each other

Example: We cannot compare Sara and Salina. They are apples and oranges.

get on nerves

Meaning: tick someone off

Example: Put your mobile phone in a silent mode — its loud ringtone is getting on my nerves.

as a result

Meaning: the outcome of something that you have done.

Example: As a result of this mishap, he was not on work for a week.

black day

Meaning: it is a day on which something terrible has happened

Example: My grandmother told me that it is a black day tomorrow.

against the grain

Meaning: a difficult path to be followed

Example: It is against the grain for me to tackle dishonest people.

apples to apples

Meaning: having a fair comparison between the two things

Example: To find out who is stronger is the apples to apples measure their capability to win the first prize in the field of Olympics.

act of God

Meaning: an occurrence of out of control natural forces in action

Example: No matter how strong you are but you can’t stop the acts of God.

all that glitters is not gold

Meaning: the shining outer look of something is not a consistent sign of its real character

Example: My grandmother advised me to be careful about making new friends because all that glitters is not gold.

a stitch in time saves nine

Meaning: do not wait to deal with a specific problem or you risk it getting much worse later on

Example: John said to his brother, » You better bring your car to the shop while it’s still running, because a stitch in time saves nine».

all the rage

Meaning: when something is the height of popularity

Example: My parents used to love the Beatles. They were all the rage when they were teenagers.

and so on

Meaning: and related stuff

Example: I enjoy outdoor sports like swimming, surfing, hiking and so on.

a voice crying in the wilderness

Meaning: to say something that is not popular

Example: The tales are interesting if you are into that kind of thing but for me it is like listening to a voice crying in the wilderness.

at the drop of a dime

Meaning: something that can happen very fast without hesitation

Example: The play can begin at the drop of a dime, you just need to say the word.

a sight for sore eyes

Meaning: a way of saying that you are happy to see someone

Example: I can’t believe that I haven’t seen you in a year! You are a sight for sore eyes.

all the best

Meaning: a polite way to end a letter or email

Example: We would like to wish you all the best in the year to come.

as simple as that

Meaning: extremely easy to understand or comprehend

Example: There can be no exceptions. Every new recruit has to undergo an orientation course, it’s as simple as that.

all day long

Meaning: the whole day, throughout the entire day

Example: The beggar had to beg all day long before getting enough money to feed his hungry children.

carry on

Meaning: to continue with something

Example: After the huge earthquake the children are still carrying on with their shock.

at the same time

Meaning: used to refer to two or more things occurring together

Example: My mother has the ability to make me laugh and cry at the same time.

all set

Meaning: to refer a state of being ready for an event

Example: After putting the luggage in the trunk, we were all set to go on our vacation.

a burnt child dreads the fire

Meaning: everyone avoids repeating a hurting experience again in life

Example: After his first accident, Sam is quite careful in driving now because a burnt child dreads a fire.

as different as chalk and cheese

Meaning: for two things to be completely different from each other

Example: Despite James and John being identical twins, their characters were as different as chalk and cheese.

apple polisher

Meaning: a flatterer; toady

Example: Even with her boss looking very untidy, Mel still complimented her and this showed her to be an apple polisher.

a lot on my plate

Meaning: too much on my plate

Example: This week will be so hectic as I have a lot on my plate.

at sixes and sevens

Meaning: used to express a situation of uncertainty or confusion

Example: I don’t want to be at sixes and sevens with you.

head and shoulders above

Meaning: significantly better than everybody else in the field

Example: I’m so proud of our boy, Johnny — he was head and shoulders above the rest of his class in his school project.

a trip to the sun

Meaning: something which is very unlikely

Example: My dream has always been to settle in Australia. But I know it’s like a trip to the sun. I just have to make peace with this place.

absence makes the heart grow fonder

Meaning: to miss and love someone more when they are not around

Example: The couple reunited after almost a year and understood that the absence had made their hearts grow fonder.

all good things must come to an end

Meaning: everything that is deemed nice, ends

Example: The band breaking up was a terrible things but I guess all good things must come to an end.

a watched pot never boils

Meaning: if you wait for something to happen it takes longer

Example: I kept waiting for hours near my phone but there was no news from my daughter from the war zone yet because a watched pot never boils.

a cut above

Meaning: noticeably greater to

Example: This diamond is a cut above the rest. You will like it because you have an expensive taste.

a needle in a haystack

Meaning: something very small amidst something very big

Example: You must be kidding when you say that you would like to find evidence in this case, it is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

a house of cards

Meaning: something that can easily be broken or crumble by itself

Example: The police brought the illegal business down like a house of cards as per the news article but it was a much more planned affair in reality.

all Greek to me

Meaning: used to convey that you cannot understand what is being said or written

Example: Don’t try to explain the technicalities of how this machine works; it would be all Greek to me.

all bark and no bite

Meaning: threatening, aggressive, but not willing to engage in a fight

Example: I heard he has threatened you with dire consequences if you don not stop that construction. Don’t worry, he is all bark and no bite.

a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

Meaning: what you already have is more valuable than the prospect to have something greater

Example: You may not like your job, but don’t quit merely on the hope of finding a better one. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

ask out

Meaning: invite someone to go out, especially on a date

Example: When he finally asked her out, she readily accepted, and very soon they were dating on a regular basis.

all is fair in love and war

Meaning: in situations of love and war you do not have to obey rules of reasonable behaviour

Example: In order to go on a date with Elle, Paul tricked her into believing that her boyfriend was seeing another woman. Well, all’s fair in love and war.

as nice as ninepence

Meaning: A place that is very well organized.

Example: I was taken aback when I saw that this place is as nice as ninepence.

a little bird told me

Meaning: it is used when a person is trying to hide the source of his information

Example: I’d like to believe that a little birdie told you about my secret but I know exactly who it was that let you in on it.

as bald as a coot

Meaning: Totally bald.

Example: She is in remission now but the Chemo Therapy has left her as bald as a coot.

all singing, all dancing

Meaning: Something that is full of verve, vivacity and liveliness.

Example: She went home from the play all singing all dancing. It was one of the liveliest performances that she had ever witnessed.

as easy as pie

Meaning: an easy thing

Example: The results are sure to be good this time since the exam was as easy as a pie.

a whale of

Meaning: very big (piece) of something

Example: That birthday party was super fun, all the children had a whale of a time there.

turn turtle

Meaning: It refers to something turning upside down.

Example: The automobile turned turtle on the highway when the storm got too strong.

as calm as a toad in the sun

Meaning: To be very calm in a situation that can be unnerving.

Example: No matter what the situation is, you are always as calm as a toad in the sun. What is your secret in maintaining so much composure?

a penny saved is a penny earned

Meaning: This phrase advises people to be cautious of their money and have savings.

Example: Now that he has financial difficulties he will realize that a penny saved is as good as a penny earned.

a rolling stone gathers no moss

Meaning: it is difficult for a wanderer to be able to flourish

Example: It was time for you to settle down at least five years back. You should find a place that you like and build a home there because a rolling stone gathers no moss.

a little knowledge is a dangerous thing

Meaning: gaining some knowledge can make a person believe that they have now become experts in that field

Example: He read about the procedure online and thought he doesn’t need the doctor to get it done. Now he will have to stay in the hospital far more than he might have in the first place, a little knowledge is indeed a dangerous thing.

a miss is as good as a mile

Meaning: This phrase points to the fact that regardless of how badly (or not) someone missed the target, it is a miss after all.

Example: Although they scored the last goal, that one miss was as good as a mile.

a place for everything and everything in its place

Meaning: This phrase is advisory in nature which talks about things being stacked neatly and should be put back in its place when one is not using that particular item.

Example: She is a strict mother and teaches her children to make a place for everything and have everything in place.

a nod is as good as a wink

Meaning: This phrase refers to passing signals to convey a message. This signal can be subtle for those who want to understand it.

Example: She wanted to go for the late night party so her friend made up a story about them getting together to study. Funny thing is that she had not said anything to her friend but a nod is as good as a wink between friends.

a cat may look at a king

Meaning: Someone who is inferior in any form is not totally restricted in how they behave in front of a superior.

Example: Her boss had just entered but she still went on break. This cat looks at the king on a daily basis.

a drowning man will clutch at a straw

Meaning: It refers to the desperate measures that someone in need may make in order to come out of the situation.

Example: Although there was no possibility of success he tried his hand at this interview to get a job because a downing man will even clutch at a straw.

a little of what you fancy does you good

Meaning: It is a coveted way of addressing the benefits that one derives out of having sex.

Example: He was very happy to work overtime today because he could go home half day on his anniversary. A little of what hefanciedhas done him good.

a golden key can open any door

Meaning: The prospect of receiving money will end up in getting any task accomplished.

Example: You should tip the reception staff to get a table sooner because a golden key can open any doors.

a good man is hard to find

Meaning: This proverb refers to women who are looking for suitable alliances but aren’t able to find them.

Example: He has stood by her in all her troubled times. Usually a good man is hard to find but she has done quite well for herself.

a friend in need is a friend indeed

Meaning: used for a person who helps at the time of a requirement is a true friend

Example: He stayed with me throughout the time I was in the hospital, a friend in need is a friend indeed!

a bunch of fives

Meaning: This phrase refers to the human fist where the bunch of fives literally point out to the five digits.

Example: The two enemy groups in the college this time came together for a fight with nothing but their bunch of fives.

a chain is only as strong as its weakest link

Meaning: this proverb means what it states, literally

Example: No matter how confident the cheer-leading group is in carrying out the human pyramid gig, the team is only as strong as its weakest link.

as mad as a hatter

Meaning: it refers to someone being completely crazy

Example: The way he dressed for the event, he must be as mad as a hatter.

at sea

Meaning: It means to be confused or not understand something at all.

Example: I was at sea when he started discussing quantum physics during dinner.

at stake

Meaning: It means to be on wager or bet, when there is some sort of uncertainty.

Example: You needn’t have all your money at stake in the share market, it is better to diversify.

a leopard can’t change his spots

Meaning: one cannot change who they are

Example: He is bound to fail the exam again, a leopard cannot change his spots after all.

a house divided against itself cannot stand

Meaning: things will work out when there is unity amongst those people that are involved in the task

Example: The workers will need to form a union because a house divided against itself cannot stand.

a fool and his money are easily parted

Meaning: This meaning is as it literally states. Someone who is foolish can easily lose their money as it would be easy to dupe them out of it.

Example: Woody was cheated several times in his lifetime since a fool and his money are easily parted.

against the clock

Meaning: in a great hurry to finish something before a particular time

Example: The team was working against the clock to finish the project on time.

a whole raft of

Meaning: a large collection of something

Example: A whole raft of techniques was used during the presentation in the annual meeting.

all ears

Meaning: saying that you are all ears means the other person has got your full attention in terms of listening to him

Example: Kids in my class were all ears when I was telling them the story.

accidentally on purpose

Meaning: performing an action intentionally and pretending to either oneself or to the world that as an accident

Example: I hate this flower vase so much, some day I might drop it accidentally on purpose.

add fuel to the flames

Meaning: an action, whether verbal or physical that makes a bad situation even worse

Example: The presidential candidate’s provocative speech in these violent times is only going to add fuel to the flames.

actions speak louder than words

Meaning: what you do carries more weight than what you say

Example: «You always speak of the importance of charity, but never do anything. Actions speak louder than words!»

add insult to injury

Meaning: to make a bad situation worse

Example: The company rejected his application for a job, and to add insult to injury, refused to pay his expenses.

a rough diamond

Meaning: a person of exceptional character

Example: Bob is intelligent and trustworthy but lacks sophistication. He is a rough diamond.

at death’s door

Meaning: on the point of dying

Example: Most of the survivors of the airplane crash are still at death’s door.

as (like) a duck to water

Meaning: – to do something very quickly and enjoy doing it – easily and naturally – to have a usual aptitude …

a drop in the ocean

Meaning: a very tiny part of something big

Example: Her cry was only a single drop in the ocean compared to the billions of tears shed by mourners after the war.

at the drop of a hat

Meaning: at the slightest signal

Example: We now have a situation where laws are bent at the drop of a hat.

in the dock

Meanings: – on trial in court, especially in a criminal case. – under intense scrutiny. – being tried in a court, especially a criminal court;

a dime a dozen

Meaning: something very common and not having much value

Example: Adventure and traveling based reality shows are now outdated and a dime a dozen.

all in a day’s work

Meaning: refers to the work that is done regularly by someone

Example: Teaching difficult students might sound like a nightmare to other people but to teachers it is all in a day’s work.

a damp squib

Meaning: an event which people think will be exciting but which is disappointing when it happens.

Example: The party turned out to be a bit a damp squib

at daggers drawn

Meaning: almost ready to fight

Example: The two schools have been at daggers drawn for months. Ever since they played in the championship game.

a cinch

Meaning: an extremely easy task

Example: I have been preparing for this presentation for the last six months. This promotion will be a cinch for me.

as the crow flies

Meaning: in a straight line

Example: The nearest hotel is about 24 kilometers away as the crow flies.

a sacred cow

Meaning: something that people do not like to question; a taboo subject.

Example: The judiciary remains a sacred cow, despite increasing evidence that serious mistakes.

a piece of cake

Meaning: very easy task

Example: Don’t worry, Sophie — this job interview will be a piece of cake for you — you have all the skills they need and I think you’re absolutely the best candidate.

at cross purposes

Meaning: with aims or goals that conflict or interfere with one another.

Example: The members of Lord’s House fear the two government departments are working at cross purposes.

after blood

Meaning: to want to revenge or punish someone, because they have made you angry

Example: John is after blood who damage his car in the parking.

at bottom

Meaning: to the core of the object

Example: At bottom she is her father’s daughter. No matter how much the family curses him, she will always be on his side.

as bold as brass

Meaning: shameless, audacious, impudent.

Example: She was not invited to the wedding and yet she showed up at the function, as bold as brass.

a wet blanket

a wet blanket Meaning: person who spoils other people’s fun.

Example: She was indisposed so she decided to skip the party, not wanting to be a wet blanket.

as busy as a bee

Meaning: very busy

Example: I am trying to complete my assignment by the weekend and am as busy as a bee. Could we rather meet up next week?

a fast (or quick) buck

Meaning: earn money quickly and often in a way that is not honest or normal

Example: Jack trying to make a fast buck by selling burgers in a busy street.

a bolt from the blue

Meaning: a sudden and unexpected event or piece of news (typically annoying)

Example: The sudden uprising in many parts of the country was utterly a bolt from the blue for the ministry.

a blind alley

Meaning: a dead end

Example: The latest scientific theory may turn out to be a blind alley.

a blessing in disguise

Meaning: the misfortune which turns out to have advantages

Example: Losing that job turned out to be a blessing in disguise for him as it forced him to plunge into business.

a bird in the hand

Meaning: a possession that is worthy

Example: The fact is that he did not realise that a bird in the hand was worth more and went after having an extra marital affair. Now he neither has his wife nor his girlfriend.

a bed of roses

Meaning: easy option

Example: Weight loss is a challenging task, not

at bay

Meaning: to keep something dangerous at a safe distance

Example: The scientists were able to keep the disease at bay with the help of modern medicine.

a whole new ball game

Meaning: a significant change in circumstances; a changed turn of events.

a bag or bundle of nerves

Meaning: very nervous person.

Example: Before the interview, he was a bundle of nerves.

above board

Meaning: straight; without concealment, legitimate; open

Example: The company expected the deal to be cleared above board and at the fastest pace possible.

a bit much

Meaning: to be excessive

Example: The concept and story was a bit much for me to understand everything clearly. That is why I did not invest with this company.

as broad as long

as broad as long Meaning: the same, whatever way you look at it. Example: He could not decide which formal suit to purchase – he thought the choice was as broad as long.

as an aside

Meaning: indirect communication

Example: As an aside; does anyone want to play chess?

all up

Meaning: finished

Example: It is all up with now finding some good crane operator, they couldn’t have survived so long in these conditions.


Meaning: a long time; a very long time

Example: I haven’t seen you in ages — you look different.

arrive in a body

Meaning: arrive with unity as a group.

Example: The classroom became too noisy when all the students arrived in a body.

as well as

Meaning: additionally

Example: The sound as well as picture quality are best on this TV screen.

as well

Meaning: to be in addition to (something)

Example: The car as well as the bike need a mechanic for maintenance to keep it running well.

as to

Meaning: with regard to

Example: «As to your query about passport status, she will present the necessary papers next Monday.»

as soon as

Meaning: when, just after something.

Example: He get the auto-rickshaw as soon as he reached to the bus stop.

as long as

Meaning: to put condition of time on an action

Example: The car will keep running as long as you take good care of it.

as for

Meaning: to be regarding (something or someone)

Example: The meeting stands dissolved now. As for the agenda, I am happy to make the decisions all by myself.

as far as

Meaning: to the extent of something

Example: As far as you are concerned, this chapter is over here. You are not to contact her again for anything.

all of a sudden

Meaning: suddenly, without advance warning.

Example: All of sudden it became dark and the rain started.

after all

Meaning: considering the fact that something happened, something that is usually assumed.

Example: You don’t need to call him. After all, he never calls you.

account for

Meaning: to have to provide an explanation for (something)

Example: The horrible weather accounted for more than 20 percent absenteeism at work today.

according to

Meaning: as mentioned by someone else either verbal or scriptural

Example: According to the news channel, this robbery took place in the night whereas the police are stating that it happened during the day.

about to

Meaning: to be at the point where something was just going to be done

Example: I was about to come to you for advice when you called me.

as a matter of fact

Meaning: to be or have done something in actuality

Example: As a matter of fact, I told her just yesterday about how they tease her child in school and how he is bullied by the bigger kids.


Meaning: this phrase refers to artists whose work was ahead of their times

Example: This fair has many sculptures and paintings that are avant-garde.

ad hoc

Meaning: something arranged, started, or done only when necessary but not planned earlier

Example: An ad hoc committee was formed to address health insurance problems.

arm in arm

Meaning: to be closely allied

Example: This couple always walks arm in arm. It is very sweet to see a subtle display of affection these days.

alter ego

Meaning: another aspect of oneself, a very close friend or constant companion, a trusted adviser.

Example: Jack was the alter ego of Rose in the Titanic …

axe to grind

Meaning: have a private or selfish reason for doing something

Example: He should not become the chairman of the committee as he has too many axes of his own to grind.

Adam’s ale

Meaning: water

Example: It is blistering hot outside, I could really do with an iced cold glass of Adam’s ale.

armed to the teeth

Meaning: heavily and formidably armed, usually with deadly weapons

Example: The alleged tax-defaulter was ready for all their questions, and armed to the teeth with proof of his innocence.

as and when

Meaning: at the time when (used to refer to an uncertain future event)

Example: Most people in this city don’t own a car — they just rent one as and when they need it.

upset the applecart

Meaning: spoil or disrupt a plan or arrangement

Example: We had planned to hold a get-together in the evening, but bad weather upset the applecart.

apple of eye

Meaning: the person of whom one is extremely fond, favorite, loving

Example: She has three children, but her youngest son is the apple of her eye.

apple of discord

Meaning: something that causes trouble or unhappiness

Example: The right to host the next Olympic games has become an apple of discord between the two countries.

ants in pants

Meaning: be extremely restless

Example: The young students just can’t sit still; they must have ants in their pants.

all and sundry

Meaning: everyone

Example: I don’t want all and sundry to come to know about our differences.

alpha and omega

Meaning: both the beginning and the end

Example: He had to learn the alpha and omega of the subject before he could even begin his research.

alive and kicking

Meaning: lively and active

Example: She hadn’t met her younger sister after her marriage and was delighted to see her alive and kicking at a social event last weekend.

across the board

Meaning: applying to everyone

Example: The improvement is seen across the board, with all divisions either recording profits or reducing losses.

a man of action

Meaning: a person of energetic activity

Example: The country needs a political leader who is a man of action.

acid test

Meaning: a test that proves a hypothesis or validity of a product or idea

Example: He played well in the last match, but the acid test will come when the team plays the stronger opponents.

Achilles heel

Meaning: a vulnerable spot or weakness

Example: The corrupt minister is regarded as the government’s Achilles heel and is expected to resign.

all in all

Meaning: considering everything that has happened

Example: She may not be brilliant, but all in all I think she did quite well in her exams.


Meaning: the alphabet

Example: My little son now has started learning ABC in school.


bull’s eye

Meaning: the center of a target

Example: It can’t hurt to go right for the bull’s eye — there’s nothing wrong with getting things right the first time.

back to the wall

Meaning: to be in a difficult situation

Example: They have him with his back to the wall and now he has no more options but to pay back the debtors or go to jail for fraud.

big mouth

Meaning: someone who talks too much

Example: Your big mouth always gets you in trouble at school, Steven!

by hook or by crook

Meaning: by any possible means

Example: The farmer will not sell us the land. By hook or by crook, he is hanging on to it.

burst the bubble

Meaning: the sudden end of a very happy or successful period

Example: She looked so happy about getting married that her sister just couldn’t burst the bubble.

bury the hatchet

Meaning: to stop fighting or arguing or to end old resentments

Example: After many quarrelling years, the two political parties finally decided to bury the hatchet.

big brother

Meaning: A large organization or government agency that tries to control all aspects of human life and society.

Example: You need to aware of everything you do around here. Big Brother sees everything.

bright spark

Meaning: an intelligent and lively person (humorously)

Example: Emma is the bright spark of the school – she scored the highest marks in the class.

bare bones

Meaning: most basic and important elements or facts

Example: Wendy told us a bare-bones version of the long story.

brain drain

Meaning: the migration of highly skilled or trained people from a particular country

Example: The slowdown in the advanced countries triggered a reverse brain drain to developing countries.

black book

Meaning: a book containing a list of secret contacts

Example: Ann will not invite Bob to the party because he has been in her black books for so long.

barking dogs seldom bite

Meaning: to threaten someone, but not take action or follow through with threats

Example: «I haven’t finished my maths homework. You know what Mr Peterson is like, he’ll shout so loud they will hear him in the next town.»
«Yes, but barking dogs seldom bite. It’s just his way.»

break the ice

Meaning: to do or say something that makes people feel more comfortable, especially at the start of a meeting or party

Example: Jone suggested playing a party game to break the ice.

black mood

Meaning: to be angry, irritable or in a temper

Example: Geoff was in one of his black moods today, and no amount of cajoling could snap him out of it.

bitter pill

Meaning: something unpleasant to be endured

Example: Finding out that she was adopted was a hard pill for Hailey to take.

brown study

Meaning: melancholy mood accompanied by deep thought

Example: I realised that Sandra wasn’t concentrating on what the boss was saying and had disappeared into a brown study.

bad egg

Meaning: someone who fails to meet expectations

Example: Stay away from Gordon. He’s a thoroughly bad egg and the biggest bully in the school.

backroom boy(s)

Meaning: people who work in anonymity

Example: They left the technical problems for the back-rooms boys. They will make short work of it all.

buffer zone

Meaning: neutral zone between two or more areas

Example: The council proposed to plant some parkland as a buffer zone between the industrial estate and the new housing project.

bang for the buck

Meaning: more value for money

Example: We tried that new Indian restaurant last night. The food was excellent, and the prices weren’t too bad either, so we got a lot of bang for our bucks.

bite head off

Meaning: overreact in an angry or harsh way

Example: His mother nearly bit his head off when he got his new shoes dirty.

bring owls to Athens

Meaning: something that is pointless

Example: The chancellor has a plan to increase taxes, thinking that this would improve the economy. It would bring owls to Athens.

bring up

Meaning: in the literal form, it means to take something to a higher place

Example: Please bring up some more blankets when you come to bed.

buy the farm

Meaning: to die

Example: Mister Jack was really ill from the past two months and yesterday he bought the farm.

bucket list

Meaning: a list of achievements or experiences someone wants to have during their lifetime

Example: Go and buy some sweaters, I have many other things left on my bucket list.

knock socks off

Meaning: doing something which was never done before

Example: Lara’s performance at the concert last night just knocked my socks off.

Black Friday

Meaning: a day of a financial disaster

Example: My friends wait desperately for online sales on Black Friday.

black day

Meaning: it is a day on which something terrible has happened

Example: My grandmother told me that it is a black day tomorrow.

by chance

Meaning: something which was not planned to happen

Example: He told himself that it was by chance so as to bring peace to his mind.

bundle up

Meaning: to dress warmly to protect oneself from the elements

Example: It is important to bundle up before you go out to keep from getting cold.

broken heart

Meaning: break someone’s heart

Example: I know he broke your heart, but there are other boys out there who are better than him.

blind as a bat

Meaning: unconscious to something

Example: Maria is so in love, she is as blind as a bat when it comes to Mark’s rude behavior.

kick the habit

Meaning: to overcome an addiction especially of an addiction like drugs

Example: Even after trying so hard, I could not kick the habit of drinking.

beat the heat

Meaning: finding a way to stay cool when it is very hot outside

Example: I have found that drinking a cool glass of water helps to beat the heat in summer.

bump into

Meaning: to meet someone by chance/accident

Example: It was so nice to bump into you last week. I haven’t seen you in years.

black hole

Meaning: a place in which things are lost never to be seen again

Example: My handbag is a black hole. You can try and find the keys in there but I can’t promise anything.

break open

Meaning: to cause something to open suddenly, especially from within

Example: The violent storms shook the very foundation of the house and broke open the doors.

blowing smoke

Meaning: blows smoke in your face

Example: I know your motives behind this act; don’t try to blow smoke in my eyes.

butter up

Meaning: to flatter someone so as to get something in return from them

Example: Mary’s nice compliments about her not so nice boss made it clear that she was just trying to butter him up.

buck up

Meaning: to summon the courage to do something

Example: After losing the first place position to Martha, everyone heard Mary’s mother tell her to buck up.

bite the bullet

Meaning: to endure a painful experience that you cannot avoid

Example: When the time comes, I’ll bite the bullet and take my punishment without a fuss.

bun in the oven

Meaning: to be pregnant

Example: After trying for a baby for several years, Mark was happy when his wife told him she had a bun in the oven.

bring home the bacon

Meaning: to go out and earn a living or earn money for the family

Example: As the head of the family, he ensures that he brings home the bacon.

beck and call

Meaning: being completely available to someone when needed

Example: No matter what time of day it is, she is always at his beck and call.

bon appetit

Meaning: enjoy your meal/food

Example: I want to thank you all for coming to my dinner party, and I’d like to wish you all bon appetit!

back against the wall

Meaning: to be in a tough situation with limited options

Example: The company has its back against the wall and if the employees do not help out now, it will be bankrupt soon.

button your lip

Meaning: to stop speaking

Example: «His continuous talking makes me wish he could button his lip

break the mould

Meaning: to do something different from what is expected

Example: His method of teaching physics breaks the mould.

blow your own trumpet

Meaning: to say things that makes your own self or kin look good

Example: The crew tried to blow their own trumpet but the manager did not buy their story.

bang head against wall

Meaning: bang head against a brick wall

Example: Trying to keep this place clean and tidy is like hitting my head against a brick wall.

beggars can’t be choosers

Meaning: do not ask more or customize what you get when you have got it after asking for it

Example: In this village you are only going to get these many options for furniture. Learn to live it because beggars can’t be choosers.

birds of a feather flock together

Meaning: to form groups with people with similar interests and tastes

Example: The team is divided into people of the same region batting against the others. Birds of a feather flock together.


Meaning: to escape from somewhere violently

Example: The breakout was so sudden that the guards did not even have the time to process what happened.

being in love

Meaning: to have strong feelings of love for someone

Example: Being in love doesn’t mean that you forget about all your responsibilities towards your parents, does it?

batten down the hatches

Meaning: to get ready for trouble

Example: The army is wise to batten down the hatches near the border when our neighbouring country seems to be so hostile.

beef up

Meaning: to become big and muscular

Example: Google has beefed up it’s search algorithm to provide the best quality search result to its users.

black and blue

Meaning: hurt, either bodily, emotionally or psychologically

Example: The man beat his own mother black and blue! How could someone do such a horrible act? The mother is still praying for the best for him though.

black out

Meaning: to be in a semi unconscious state so as to not have any memory of a particular moment

Example: The child’s mother blacked out on seeing him at the hospital. Subsequently she had to be hospitalised too.

blow mind

blow mind Meaning | Definition upset or distract to overwhelm someone to excite someone to surprise, sock or amaze somebody the notion of feeling overwhelmed with a fact …

ballpark figure

Meaning: to be near about the exact (usually in amount)

Example: The management was given a ballpark figure at the very beginning of the presentation.

baker’s dozen

Meaning: not 12 in numbers but 13

Example: The fellow gave me a baker’s dozen of cookies. It made my children very happy.

building blocks

Meaning: something that is a basic element (of the subject)

Example: The building blocks of success, in my view, come from perseverance and hard work.

brought forward

Meaning: to bring forth

Example: The meeting has been brought forward by the board and we have to start preparing for it right away.

blood is thicker than water

Meaning: family relations and bonds are closer than other relationships

Example: When you get into trouble, usually your family will be the ones to bail you out, not your friends. After all, blood is thicker than water.

beat around the bush

Meaning: avoid talking about the main topic

Example: Will you please stop beating about the bush and get to the point?

an item

Meaning: be involved in a romantic relationship

Example: John and Sally are frequently seen together nowadays. Are they an item?

break up | split up

Meaning: end a romantic relationship with someone

Example: After having been married for eight years, their decision to break up came as a huge surprise to their friends.

beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Meaning: different people have different ideas and views about what is beautiful

Example: I don’t see why he finds her attractive, I think she is downright ugly; but, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say.

beyond the pale

Meaning: Something that is not an acceptable way to behave.

Example: Nobody will want to be friends with you if you are considered beyond the pale in your social circle.

blazing row

Meaning: a very angry argument

Example: After having a blazing row with his wife, he stormed out of the room and banged the door behind him.

bob’s your uncle

Meaning: it is said after a set of instructions are provided and one wants to convey that the work will be simple for the other person to do

Example: You add two cups of water to the mix, heat it for five minutes and Bob’s your uncle, the soup is ready.

born with a silver spoon in mouth

Meaning: to be born to parents who are rich and have a good social rank

Example: He has never worked hard for anything because he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His parents brought everything to him instead.

basket case

Meaning: a person or a thing that is not able to function properly

Example: You should accept this job offer since this is your first job and that organization is a real basket case.

bug someone

Meaning: to bother or irritate someone

Example: The squadron leader bugged the military man in order to find out if he was a spy for the enemy.


Meaning: The bulging of the eyes out is known as being bug eyed.

Example: I was bug eyed looking at her wedding dress and jewelry. Her parents have gone over and above to see her happy.

before one can say Jack Robinson

Meaning: very suddenly

Example: I wanted to have a meaningful conversation with him when he was back from work but he was gone before I could say Jack Robinson.

baby blues

Meaning: The depression that is caused to new mothers after childbirth.

Example: Do not speak to her in a rude tone, she is just going through some baby blues right now and needs compassion from you.

break a leg

Meaning: good luck

Example: «Break a leg!» shouted the stage director to his actors before the beginning of the play.

between a rock and a hard place

Meaning: having two very bad choices

Example: I hate my job but cannot quit owing to my economic condition. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place

blow away

Meaning: impress someone very much

Example: This new has has such an interesting story and an amazing ending that it just blew me away.

by the skin of your teeth

Meaning: barely manage to do something

Example: We managed to complete the project on time by the skin of our teeth.

balancing act

Meaning: an action that needs a fine balance between different conditions or wishes

Example: A working woman in our country has to constantly perform a balancing act between excelling in her career and taking care of the family.

backseat driver

Meaning: co-passenger who unnecessarily criticizes the driver while himself doing nothing

Example: I cannot stand my relatives being backseat driver to me.

be up on

Meaning: be well informed about a matter or subject

Example: If you want to start teaching English to grown-up kids, you need to be up on it else you’re going to be unable to clarify their doubts.

belly up

Meaning: to die

Example: Many companies went belly up during the great inflation.

best thing since sliced bread

Meaning: something that is too fine

Example: The invention of internet has changed the way we live; it is the best thing since sliced bread.

banker’s hours

Meaning: short working hours

Example: With our boss on leave, most of us worked banker’s hours for the whole week.

bell the cat

bell the cat Meaning: do a dangerous job. Example: Someone has to bell the cat and tell the commissioner that his own started the violence.

never in wildest dreams

Meaning: a situation beyond the scope of one’s imagination

Example: Never in my wildest dreams did I think she’d abandon her father.

by dint of

by dint of Meaning: as result of something. Example: Mark got what he wanted by dint of requesting and threatening.

between the devil and the deep blue sea

between the devil and the deep blue sea Meaning: between two equally difficult or unacceptable choices. Example: Trying to please both his boss and his wife puts him between …

behind closed doors

Meaning: in clandestine

Example: The planning board of the finance division constantly meets behind closed doors, in case its negotiations become known in advance.

blow cover

Meaning: to reveal the true identity

Example: The custom’s officer recognised the man from a wanted poster and blew his cover right out.

be on a collision course

Meaning: doing or saying things which are certain to cause a serious disagreement or a fight between them.

burst at the seams

Meaning: to be filled up to the brim

Example: The meal was absolutely delicious but now I am bursting at the seams.

brownie points

Meaning: good marks for credit.

Example: You’re not going to get many brownie points for submitting a report like this.

blind impulse

Meaning: sudden and unaccountable desire to do something.

Example: Acting on what appeared to be a blind impulse, she submitted her resignation.

beg to differ

Meaning: to politely refuse something

Example: The argument was quite wonderful in his opinion but I beg to differ. I never enjoy political debates.

backhanded compliment

Meaning: ambiguous statement – one that can be taken as a compliment, but which might also be seen as an insult.

betwixt and between

Meaning: to be undecided about something

Example: The girl was betwixt and between which of her parents to choose during the divorce trial.

by the way

Meaning: incidentally

Example: I will not be going to the party. By the way, I do not like him too much.

break down

Meaning: to stop working

Example: His car broke down.

better off

Meaning: to shun someone or something away so that it becomes better than before

Example: The family is better off without this guy who respects nobody and thinks that he is the centre of the universe at all times.

buzz word

Meaning: a phrase that is used to describe a word or phrase that is popular in a group of people

Example: The college students these days have many buzz words that their parents do not understand.

build bridges

Meaning: to foster good relationships

Example: A non-governmental organization is engaged in building bridges between different communal groups in the city.

the brains behind

Meaning: be the person who plans and organizes something, especially something successful. Example: She was the brains behind many of the UK. government initiatives.


Meaning: of or relating to industrial work, especially the semiskilled and unskilled

Example: They hope the new manufacturing unit on the small town’s outskirts will open up the doors for many more blue-collar jobs.

bee in bonnet

Meaning: be possessed with one thought or scheme

Example: The man has a real bee in his bonnet in trying to find out about how people would react in this situation.

bitter medicine

Meaning: something difficult to accept

Example: Initially, the lockdown during the pandemic was bitter medicine for all.

belly laugh

Meaning: to laugh uncontrollably

Example: The books by this author always give me a belly laugh.

be in bed with

Meaning: work with a person or organisation, or to be involved with them, in a way which causes other people distrust you.

beau monde

Meaning: rich and fashionable, fashionable society.

Example: He too no interest in the glittering beau monde that he belonged to now after his marriage.

behind bars

Meaning: in prison.

Example: John Ruddy spent ten fifteen years behind bars after being convicted for double murder.


Meaning: to say something bad about something

Example: The social parties in this area are just meant for old ladies to gather around and bad-mouth everyone who did not show up. I would never go for one.

by and by

Meaning: later; in due course; before long.

burn fingers

Meaning: to bear an unpleasant result of an action that has been taken in the past

Example: The minister was warned not to venture into this sort of a contract. If he wants to burn his fingers in spite of that then he may continue.

break the news

Meaning: make something known for everybody.

Example: It was a really too hard work to break the news of that catastrophic accident to the families …

bosom friends

Meaning: close friends who share confidences.

Example: The two ladies who were arrested in case of injuring each other for one man, were bosom friends for …

born yesterday

Meaning: naive; inexperienced

Example: Susan might look young, but she was not born yesterday. She is not going to fall for your lies.

bona fide

Meaning: to be genuine, verified

Example: The text on this website is bona fides, always.

blue blood

Meaning: a member of an upper-class family

Example: The new student is very arrogant because his blood is blue.

bird of passage

Meaning: a transient

Example: She moves out nearly every year; she’s a true bird of passage.

between you and me

Meaning: in confidence.

Example: I tell you something, just between you and me, I don’t think her painting deserve the first prize.

butterflies in stomach

Meaning: to feel very nervous and restless

Example: He had butterflies in his stomach as he walked out onto the stage for his dance performance.

buy time

Meaning: do something in order to be allowed more time.

Example: Freelance working buys time for her to look around for a new full-time job.

bury head in the sand

Meaning: refuse to think about an unpleasant situation, hoping that it will improve so that you will not have to deal with it.

burn the midnight oil

Meaning: work long hours and hard

Example: It is very very hard assignment, and I had to burn the midnight oil to get it completed on time.

burn the candle at both the ends

Meaning: exhaust someone’s energies or resources by leading a hectic life

Example: Since starting my new job I have been burning the candle at both ends.

bull in a china shop

Meaning: extremely awkward, clumsy person

Example: The president has been attacking foreign ministers and even the people in his own party like a bull in a china shop. This has not only led to a lot of criticism but people have started alienating from him.

burn bridges

Meaning: remove someone’s all options of retreat, act decisively

Example: She has already burned his bridges with his previous employer by publicly criticizing their marketing policy.

bear the brunt of

Meaning: to be bearing the main force that came from a blow

Example: The family has borne the brunt of his misdeed for a very long time. I think they should be excused now.

bread and butter

Meaning: to indicate what a person earns or earns for

Example: The person depends on you for his bread and butter, how can you be so thoughtless?

break new ground

Meaning: do something innovative.

Example: It is an interesting discovery in energy conservation field of United Kingdom which definitely breaks new ground in the country’s …

break back

Meaning: overpower, get through the hardest part of something, to put a lot of efforts into doing something.

bring to book

Meaning: make somebody accountable for his conduct, punish somebody.

body and soul

Meaning: with all one’s effort and ability.

Example: He dedicated himself to science studies and astronomy, body and soul.

be in the same boat

Meaning: be in the same unpleasant situation as other people

Example: The speaker said that everyone should make an effort towards the protection of the environment, as everyone was in the same boat, and climate changes would have dire consequences for all.

blow hot and cold

Meaning: to sometimes like or be interested in something or somebody and sometimes not

Example: Why are you blowing hot and cold simultaneously? Tell me clearly whether you want to go with it, or not.

blue eyed boy

Meaning: a man who is liked and admired by somebody in authority.

blood, sweat and tears

Meaning: a lot of effort and suffering. 

Example: Our national freedom is the result of over hundred years’ of blood, sweat and tears.

blind spot

Meaning: subject about which one is ignorant or biased. 

Example: Languages are my blind spot, I always fumbled at Hindi and French.

blind date

Meaning: an arranged meeting for two people have never met each other before, in order to try to start a romantic relationship.

blaze a trail

Meaning: to find a new method/technique

Example: American scientists blazed a trail for preventing Coronavirus in 2020.

blast from the past

Meaning: Something that suddenly and strongly that makes you remember a previous time in your life.

blank cheque

Meaning: complete authority or unrestricted freedom of action or a free hand.

black sheep

Meaning: a disgrace

Example: I have always been the black sheep of my family. Everyone else has responsible jobs while I have chosen to be an artist.

bite tongue

Meaning: to keep yourself from saying something that you really want to say

Example: I had to bite my tongue when Peter said that he was hard-working.

bite off more than can chew

Meaning: try to do more than one is able to do

Example: By accepting two part-time jobs, he is clearly biting off more than he can chew.

bite the hand that feed

Meaning: to turn against someone who has been a benefactor in the past

Example: The strategies of the state government are not perfect but the people should not bite the hand that feeds them since many lucrative policies have been brought about by this government for the common people.

bite the dust

Meaning: to fall to the ground

Example: The soldier bit the dust after a very long fight and even at that he managed to take many enemy soldiers with him.

big deal

Meaning: important thing

Example: Winning a scholarship is no big deal for him.

bits and pieces

Meaning: miscellaneous small objects

Example: After the accident, there were bits and pieces of the wreckage spread all over the road.

birds of a feather

Meaning: people with similar tastes, interests and background.

bird’s eye view

Meaning: an overview.

Example: This website gives you a bird’s eye view of the Idioms used in Indian exam system since British times.

back to the drawing board

Meaning: back to the planning stage

Example: My experiment was a failure, so I’m back to the drawing board.

big cheese

Meaning: to be an important and successful individual

Example: The guy is among the big cheeses in the region and his word rules.

bide time

Meaning: to wait for the perfect moment to do something

Example: The big tiger bides time until the zebra had to make its way to the water fountain and then struck.

beyond a shadow of doubt

Meaning: to be certain about something’s validity

Example: The government has clarified beyond a shadow of doubt that the people who have been evading taxes so far will be caught very soon.

better half

Meaning: spouse

Example: I think a two-bedroom flat would suit us but I’d better confirm it with my better half.

better half

Meaning: spouse

Example: I think a two-bedroom flat would suit us but I’d better confirm it with my better half.

better late than never

Meaning: it is better for somebody or something to be late than never to arrive or to happen

Example: All of us have been waiting for you for two hours — but better late than never.

below the belt

Meaning: to be mean and unfair (in a fight)

Example: The shot that he took at him was completely below the belt. Decent people do not compete like this.

belle of the ball

belle of the ball Meaning: be the most attractive woman at party or similar event. Example: She wore a dress made by the country’s most valued designer and …

baying for blood

Meaning: want somebody to be hurt or punished.

Example: The victims’ families could be seen baying for blood of the assaulter’s during the trial.

bated breath

Meaning: to wait in a nervous and excited manner

Example: The announcer announced the last number with bated breath which made the audience very anxious of the result.

beat a hasty retreat

Meaning: abandon something (speedily)

Example: Once I realized that John was going to be at the party, I beat a hasty retreat.

back to basics

Meaning: start to give your attention to the simplest and most important matters after ignoring them for a while.

bark up the wrong tree

Meaning: waste one’s efforts by pursuing the wrong thing or path

Example: It was a very sensitive case and yet for over one year the investigators kept barking up the wrong tree.

bang on

Meaning: to be exact; to be correct; to be proper

Example: The documentary was bang on the subject of female foeticide.

banana republic

Meaning: a small, poor country with a weak, corrupt or dishonest government

Example: If the current Prime Minister wins the election again, nobody can save our country from becoming a banana republic.

bag and baggage

Meaning: (with) all one’s belongings. 

Example: Tired of their tantrums, the landlady asked her tenants to vacate the house, bag and baggage, in a week’s …

back door

Meaning: to take indirect or unofficial route to get something done

Example: The agency was given to him because he slid into the contract through the back door.

back to square one

Meaning: return to where one started from

Example: The Government and the State Bank spent years strengthening the nation’s economy but the recession and slowdown shattered it, so we are back to square one.

bone of contention

Meaning: the subject of a dispute

Example: A serious bone of contention between the landowners and the developers was the compensation price for the land.

bat an eye or eyelash or eyelid

Meaning: to not show any shock or surprise.

bend over backwards

Meaning: do all in one’s power (usually to achieve something or accommodate somebody)

Example: Banks are bending over backwards to provide facilities to the depositors.

blow-by-blow account

Meaning: to describe (something) in exceptional detail

Example: The toddler gave a blow-by-blow account of the activity to his mother. It was very endearing to listen to it.


call the shots

Meaning: to be in charge of what is happening and what should happen

Example: The policeman is the one who will call the shots during the political gatherings.

close call

Meaning: a narrow escape from disaster

Example: It was quite a close call, but my father managed to avoid hitting the animal that ran across the highway.

cat among the pigeons

Meaning: do or say something that causes trouble and make a lot of people angry or worried

Example: The foreigner put the cat among the pigeons when he made some sensitive comments about the people’s religion.

cut the cord

Meaning: to end a connection with someone

Example: In order to achieve true independence, developing countries must cut the cord and stop asking for financial aid from the developed countries.

call bluff

Meaning: to challenge to prove one’s claim, when they are likely attempting to deceive

Example: When the employee threatened to quit if he was not given a pay rise, the boss called his bluff.

jump on the bandwagon

Meaning: to start doing something because it is fashionable or profitable

Example: get on the bandwagon

cold shoulder

Meaning: to treat somebody with coldness and contempt

Example: I fought with my wife, and she is now giving me the cold shoulder.

crack the whip

Meaning: make someone work harder by asserting power or authority

Example: We’d better get some work done, or he’ll crack the whip when he gets back from his tea break.

cross the line

Meaning: behave in a way that is not acceptable

Example: This newspaper has crossed the line. This article is so offensive to so many people.

come to think of/about it

Meaning: something that has just occurred to us as we speak

Example: Come to think of it, add potatoes and carrots to the list.

call on

Meaning: use courage, reserve, nerve or strength to achieve something

Example: He had to call on all his strength to get to the finals.

call of duty

Meaning: something you must do or feel compelled to do

Example: Both of my grandfathers felt it was their call of duty to enlist immediately for active service when the war broke out.

cold sweat

Meaning: the condition where extreme fear or nervousness causes a person to feel a chill along with moist skin or sweat

Example: I woke up from a nightmare, breathing heavy and in cold sweat.

come out

Meaning: to reveal something (often unintentionally)

Example: I didn’t mean to tell him about your job interview, it just came out.

crack up

Meaning: go through an emotional breakdown

Example: My favorite thing was to whisper something hilarious in class to the kid next to me and crack him up, so he got in trouble.

chill pill

Meaning: something that has a relaxing outcome

Example: Can someone please tell Matthew to take a chill pill? We will be on time for the party.

catch up

Meaning: to get to the same level, standard, or status as something or someone

Example: Singapore is trying so hard to catch up with Japan when it comes to technological advancements.

cut the crap

Meaning: a very crude way of telling someone to stop doing something that you do not like

Example: Please cut the crap and tell us what really happened at his birthday party.


Meaning: a short sleep, usually during the day

Example: I had a very late night last night. I think that I will have a catnap during my lunch hour.

cry me a river

Meaning: usually used sarcastically to someone who is constantly complaining

Example: «My baby wouldn’t sleep last night, I am so tired.» «Cry me a river, Joan. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in years.»

come over

Meaning: to go to someone else’s house

Example: June and her sister will come over for lunch on Sunday, we are having chicken pie.

count on

Meaning: it means that you are able to depend on somebody or something

Example: It doesn’t matter what happens, you will always be able to count on.

cheat sheet

Meaning: a cheat sheet is a sheet containing information

Example: John got caught using a cheat sheet during the test, he will be receiving a failing grade and will be in detention for the next three months.

cat got your tongue

Meaning: used to refer a time when someone has nothing to say

Example: Speak up boy or cat got your tongue?

chill to the marrow

Meaning: to be very cold

Example: The movie gave me a chill to the marrow. I am not recommending it to anyone. It is horrible.

cold hearted

Meaning: very cruel, unkind person

Example: Don’t be so cold hearted, forgive them and speak with your children.

come down with

Meaning: to have (usually a disease)

Example: The Joshi’s have all come down with the flu, so none of them will be able to attend your wedding.

concern with

Meaning: to be busy with something involved with to make someone busy with something to block thoughts with something to be preoccupied with paying attention in.

comb through

Meaning: to check thoroughly

Example: The police combed through their house after the income tax authorities left the building.

chill to the bone

Meaning: to get frightened or scare somebody

Example: The movie they played on cable last night gave me a chill to the bone. I will not be watching a night time movie any time soon.

cutting edge

Meaning: to be among the latest and the best (often used for technological advancements)

Example: The company has introduced cutting edge technology which will handle all client servicing issues.

come across

Meaning: to meet someone

Example: The men had never come across a failure and hence did not know how to deal with it.

come what may

Meaning: anything happens; whatever come about

Example: The girl has decided to marry him come what may. She will proceed even if her entire family is against her decision.

curiosity killed the cat

Meaning: too much curiosity can lead to dangerous situations

Example: When he started asking too many questions of his neighbours about their whereabouts during the weekend, they warned him that curiosity killed the cat.

cup of joe

Meaning: a cup of coffee

Example: When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is make myself a cup of joe.

come hell or high water

Meaning: come what may

Example: I want to complete this report by today, come hell or high water.

close, but no cigar

Meaning: be very close to accomplishing a goal but fall short

Example: You did quite well for someone who was playing for the first time. You attempt for close, but no cigar.

chow down

Meaning: to eat something, usually quickly or vigorously

Example: Is the food ready yet? I am hungry and ready to chow down all you have got.

can’t stand the sight of

Meaning: to hate someone very much

Example: After years of being in an unhappy marriage and later going through an ugly divorce, they now can’t stand the sight of each other.

cupboard love

Meaning: affection given in order to gain a reward

Example: I had suspected all along that Jane’s affair with that man was just cupboard love. What she really liked about him was his big mansion and luxurious car.

chew the fat

Meaning: to have friendly banter for hours on end

Example: I’ve been meaning to get a hold of my friends from US since quite a while, if I can manage to do that after the party then I’ll go and chew the fat with them at our regular hangout.


Meaning: feel love-sick for someone

Example: I think Steve has a crush on our new English teacher; he always looks forward to her classes and even goes to ask questions after classes, though he doesn’t need to.

catch eye

Meaning: be noticed by someone

Example: While we were driving down the road, a small shop selling beautiful potteries caught my eye.

class clown

Meaning: a wiseacre

Example: He is the class clown with the constant talking and making fun of others.

clam up

Meaning: refusal to talk further or reply

Example: She clams up every time I walk in, it is worrisome.

call of the wild

Meaning: It talks about nature appealing to a person.

Example: How could he hurt her like that? He has always been so nice, talk about the call of the wild!

call a spade a spade

Meaning: this phrase means to say something the way it is

Example: That dress made her look fat, let’s call a spade a spade before she goes out wearing it and embarrasses herself.

cold turkey

Meaning: in a unexpected and sudden way

Example: He had been trying to quit smoking since a year but couldn’t, so he decided to go cold turkey.

cut to the chase

Meaning: come to the point

Example: We haven’t got all day for this discussion. Let’s cut to the chase.

chip on shoulder

Meaning: holding a grudge or grievance

Example: He’s always picking up fights with everyone. He seems to have a chip on his shoulder.

couldn’t care less

Meaning: total lack of interest in something

Example: I have heard that my ex is going through another break-up, but I couldn’t care less.

come out swinging

Meaning: be confrontational

Example: The government came out swinging against the oppositions charges of corruption during the debate.

cut somebody some slack

Meaning: give additional freedom to someone

Example: I know he is not up to the mark right now but let’s cut him some slack. He’s new to this environment and needs time to adjust.

cut the mustard

Meaning: to succeed

Example: My neighbor had applied for the post of architect in a big project, but did not cut the mustard.

can’t judge a book by its cover

Meaning: outward appearance cannot be an indicator of someone or something’s value or worth

Example: The candidate did not look very intelligent, but you can’t judge a book by its cover.

caught between two stools

Meaning: come between two alternatives, and so fail to fulfill either of them

Example: This book cannot be an academic one nor can it be a popular commercial one; it falls between two stools.

cry over spilt milk

Meaning: to be upset about things that have already been done

Example: While its sad that the results have not been as good as you expected, you should now focus on moving ahead and achieving better results next time; there is no use crying over spilt milk.

come a cropper

Meaning: to not succeed at something

Example: The minister came a cropper as soon as she was elected. Hence she was transferred from her ministry and given something else to do in the cabinet.

call it a day

Meaning: stop doing something, especially working

Example: After second heart attack, she decided it would be best to follow her doctor’s advice and call it a day.

cross path

Meaning: meet somebody casually.

Example: He never crossed my path again since that incident 5 years before.

chop and change

Meaning: repeatedly change.

chapter and verse

Meaning: verbatim; word for word details.

Example: I was asked if I could give a chapter and verse account of what had happened that night …

camp follower

Meaning: a person who is supportive of the cause, person or organisation

Example: The only issue of being related to a celebrity is that the camp followers never leave you alone.

come up with

Meaning: to find a new thought

Example: The team has to come up with cost saving ideas soon otherwise the budget cut will cost them a lot.

come up

Meaning: happen unexpectedly.

Example: He will not be able to attend the meeting if something else comes up.

come on

Meaning: to request to hurry (something)

Example: The waiter asked us to come on and get the table before the people who had reserved it would arrive. Big tips do work!

come to a head

Meaning: to reach a point in a situation where action needs to be taken

Example: The negative political climate in America seems to have come to a head.

cost an arm and a leg

Meaning: very expensive

Example: I’d like to have a new farmhouse, but it may cost me an arm and a leg.

carry out

Meaning: put something into action, to accomplish something, to do something.

Example: The scientist wanted to carry out several experiments before announcing the sending of human …

come to a pretty pass

Meaning: a bad situation

Example: Things have come to such a pretty pass that nowadays parents are afraid of advising their children.

choke up

Meaning: make a person become overemotional and speechless

Example: He chokes up every time someone brings up the topic of their sudden movement to a new country. Perhaps there is a story behind it that we do not know about.

cash in

Meaning: to earn out of something in big amounts

Example: He has cashed in on the estate that his father created. I do not believe he has anything to call his own out there.

creme de la creme

Meaning: to be exclusive

Example: The children of the crème de la crème crowd go to this school. Needless to say that it is among the costliest in town.

cut and dried

Meaning: ready-made

Example: The rules in our school are cut and dried. Everyone is expected to follow them.

come again

Meaning: to request someone to repeat what has just been told

Example: The waiter could not understand what I was saying and kept repeating «come again» every time I named a dish to be ordered.

cloak and dagger

cloak and dagger Meaning: of or characteristic of the activities of spies and undercover agents. Example: Do we need to go for cloak-and-dagger way? Why can’t we just …

clarion call

Meaning: a strong and clear request for people to do something. Example: The social leader’s clarion call for more donations has given rise to a prompt …

chicken hearted

Meaning: not brave. Example: These chicken hearted bosses always seem to give in at the first sign of a strike.

cut and thrust

Meaning: furious contest, discussion, etc.

Example: The man is not sure if he has it in him to appreciate the cut and thrust of such a huge organisational business.

cry wolf

Meaning: to keep asking for help, even when you don’t need it. When you really need help, no one believes you.

Example: The little boy had cried wolf so many times that when he was really sick no one believed him.

cool heels

Meaning: to wait or take rest

Example: The prisoner has been awarded the death penalty is cooling his heels until the President evaluates if mercy can be sanctioned.

come to pass

Meaning: to happen

Example: The lady has come to pass that she will be in labour soon.

come to grief

Meaning: fail, meet with disaster or failure.

Example: It would be a great pity to see all that sincere work come to grief.

coin money

Meaning: make a great deal of money easily or very quickly.

chime in

Meaning: to interject a remark

Example: The family always chimes in with the others so they never feel like they have joined the social network from out of town.

cave in

Meaning: to fall for something, either literally or metaphorically

Example: The building caved in by itself after being erect for almost 70 years.

catch napping

Meaning: surprise, take unawares. Example:

The government was really caught napping the day the protesters planned to jam the highways and roads of the town.

carte blanche

Meaning: to have complete authority

Example: The guy has carte blanche over who works and who does not in this company.

call names

Meaning: to insult someone

Example: She was afraid that if she wore spectacles to her school, the other kids would call her names

cut coat according to cloth

Meaning: adapt to one’s circumstances, make sure one’s plans are appropriate to one’s resources.

cut down

Meaning: to reduce the amount of something (usually bad)

Example: I am trying to cut down on sugar this month. I would like to lose some weight before going on holiday.

cut both ways

Meaning: have two different effects at the same time, usually one good and one bad.

Example: Watching TV cuts both ways; it makes people know …

curry favour

Meaning: seek to gain advantage by flattery

Example: Her uncle is so rich that she feels compelled to curry favor with him lest she does not get mentioned in the will!

cut corners

Meaning: economise on time, money, materials or effort, perhaps unwisely

Example: It is certainly not a sensible move to cut corners with national security.

crystal clear

Meaning: absolutely clear, easy to understand.

Example: The instructions for preparing the dish are crystal clear.

cup of tea

Meaning: to like something

Example: This music is much more my cup of tea than this new stuff.

comes to the crunch

Meaning: in a critical moment or crucial time, or in a tight corner.

Example: It’s always the same, she promise help, but as soon …

crowning glory

Meaning: The greatest or most beautiful thing.

Example: The crowning glory of her career came six years later when the Council for British Research awarded Cynthia …

caught in the crossfire

Meaning: be badly affected by a situation where two people or group are arguing with each other.

Example: When parents fight over trifles, their …

cross swords

Meaning: quarrel; have a disagreement.

Example: Every day at 6 PM. the Jenny and Eliza crossed swords for watching their favorite show.

cover tracks

Meaning: conceal one’s whereabouts, activities and intentions.

Example: The murderer covered his tracks by throwing the shot gun in the lake and burying his landlord’s body.

count chicken

Meaning: make plans based on events that may or may not happen

Example: It is not good to start counting your chickens when you do not even have the cash to start your own venture.

couch potato

Meaning: a chronic television viewer

Example: My younger sister is a great couch potato; she can watch TV 24 hours a day.

the corridors of power

Meaning: the offices of the powerful leaders.

Example: As personal adviser to the Prime Minister, he thought he’d get his foot inside the corridors of power. 

cool as cucumber

Meaning: be very calm and relaxed, particularly when it’s astonishing

Example: There he stood, cool as cucumber and totally oblivious to the violence that had shattered the very fabric of the society.

cold feet

Meaning: loss of courage

Example: He got cold feet when heard the news of his transfer to remote area of the country which is hundreds of miles from his home town

conspiracy of silence

Meaning: general agreement to keep silent about a subject for the purpose of secrecy.

Example: On the airport security check, there is a conspiracy of silence.

catch a cold

Meaning: suffer a financial loss.

Example: Like my elder brother Brian Reddik tried the offshore business of education, but he catches a cold just after …

coin a phrase

Meaning: as one might say

Example: She was, to coin a phrase, as clever as fox.

cock and bull story

Meaning: complicated, ridiculous, or unbelievable story

Example: She started to tell some cock and bull story to the police officers about how she found a huge bag containing 5 pounds of gold.

cloud nine

Meaning: very happy

Example: She’s been on cloud nine since she heard the news of her engagement.

closed book

Meaning: something that one knows or understands nothing about.

Example: I’m afraid that this new physics formula will always be a closed book to me.

clear the decks

Meaning: get ready for action.

Example: The British Petroleum company is clearing the decks for setting up many huge new projects around globe.

clean sweep

Meaning: an irresistible victory

Example: The forecasters are predicting of making a clean sweep for the ruling party in the approaching election.

come clean

Meaning: to make a disclosure

Example: The guy came clean after the police had started their investigation about the robbery.

cold comfort

Meaning: insufficient ease, sympathy, or encouragement

Example: A small increment after two years is cold comfort.

clean slate

Meaning: to wipe the past out and begin afresh

Example: The criminal has completed his sentence and has come out as a clean slate.

class act

Meaning: high-class performance or display; also the person performing.

Example: The film drama show hailed as a class act failed to become a great hit.

come full circle

Meaning: return to an earlier position or decision.

Example: After changing couple of jobs in last three years, Jane Stuart come full circle in her first …

chip off the old block

Meaning: similar to one’s parents in behavior, character or personality.

Example: Same like his brother, he is a chip off the old block, very …

chink in armour

Meaning: a susceptible or vulnerable area.

Example: She is a brilliant social worker but her lack of political awareness may be the chink in her armour.

charity begins at home

Meaning: the family comes first, and one should help their family before helping others

Example: She spends the little money that she earns on social work and neglects her own family, forgetting that charity begins at home.

change of heart

Meaning: change one’s opinion or the way one feels about something

Example: The call-back of the military and troops from Afghanistan shows a change of heart by the British government.

child’s play

Meaning: an informal expression meaning something that is easy to do

Example: If you practise enough, driving will eventually become child’s play.


Meaning: the particular situation in which one cannot win

Example: I couldn’t start my own business until I have got money, and I couldn’t get the money until I start my own business, oh my God, this is the real Catch-22 situation.

castles in the air

Meaning: thinking of some impossible task

Example: She keeps talking about her big-time ambitions, but it’s all castles in the air.

carrot and stick

Meaning: mixture of rewards and punishments

Example: He said the carrot and stick approach is in effective when it comes to management.

card up sleeve

Meaning: to have a secret advantage that is suddenly revealed to change the game

Example: He did not just leave his house. He had a card up his sleeve that he did not even reveal to his family, which was his new flat in a posh locality.

crack of dawn

Meaning: very early in the morning

Example: We shared, cared and cheered until we were at the crack of dawn.

can of worms

Meaning: to get into something that is messy, has problems and is unwanted

Example: The can of worms was wide open when he asked her about her past.

close the books

Meaning: set the ending to a concerned issue

Example: The accountant closed the books and that was the end of your 40 year old favourite sweet shop.

come to blows

Meaning: have a fight or a serious argument with somebody, begin to fight.

Example: Demonstrators nearly came to blows with the Scotland Yard Police during …

cross the bridge

Meaning: to delay worrying about something that might not happen anyway

Example: We think that there may be too many people to fit into the hall, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

cast aspersions

Meaning: criticize somebody or somebody’s character.

Example: His opponents never missed an opportunity to cast aspersions on his professionalism.

come of age

Meaning: become an adult, reach adult status

Example: After years of experimentation with colors and strokes, his painting has come of age.

clear the air

Meaning: get rid of all doubts and negative feelings

Example: They had a huge misunderstanding, but decided to clear the air by sitting together and discussing things frankly.

crocodile tears

Meaning: shed crocodile tears

Example: She deceived him when he lost everything in his life, now again when he is rich man, she approached him to get together and shedding crocodile tears.


dog’s life

Meaning: a miserable and unpleasant life

Example: Mark’s been leading a dog’s life since he was fired from the job.

dab hand

Meaning: an expert or skilled person

Example: Sophia is a dab hand at cooking.

black mood

Meaning: to be angry, irritable or in a temper

Example: Geoff was in one of his black moods today, and no amount of cajoling could snap him out of it.

Dutch uncle

Meaning: criticize, scold or lecture someone

Example: I thought he would approve of my choices, but he ranted on like a Dutch uncle for a whole hour.

goose egg

Meaning: zero

Example: We had a good game, but the score was goose egg.

does exactly what it says on the tin

Meaning: someone or something is exactly as they seem

Example: This medicine does exactly what it says on the tin, because I feel so much better.

drain the swamp

Meaning: rooting out the practice of corruption

Example: No matter how critical it is, Draining the swamps would be just about impossible unless we citizens take action against it in the union.

dead as a doornail

Meaning: becoming obsolete

Example: The flowers are all dead as a doornail.

dead in the water

Meaning: unable to produce movement

Example: Their company is trying to revive an income that is dead in the water.

drop by

Meaning: an informal visit

Example: I hope to finish the dress before Saturday. If you want to see what it looks like you should drop by over the weekend.

dollars to donuts

Meaning: an outcome that is almost assured is called as dollars to doughnuts

Example: And I’ll bet dollars to donuts that he will have no strategic plan on how to effectively deny Clinton’s speech.

double take

Meaning: to be so surprised at something that you have to take another look (American meaning)

Example: I did a double take when I saw how much weight my best friend had lost.

drive crazy

Meaning: to disturb or irritate someone

Example: He drives me crazy with the lazy way he executes all his tasks.

do justice to

Meaning: to speak of or otherwise show a person or thing in its true light

Example: Your plan is excellent — it really does justice to all of the ideas we put forward.

discretion is the greater part of valour

Meaning: to be quiet about it after helping someone out

Example: The man I admire the most has always taught me that discretion is the greater part of valour.

dream come true

Meaning: fulfilment of a wish after a long time

Example: This house is my dream come true.

dead as a dodo

Meaning: no longer alive or existing

Example: When my dad finds out that I have lost the mobile phone, I am as dead as a dodo!

drop like flies

Meaning: many people falling ill or dying around the same time

Example: It was flu season and people in our office were dropping like flies.

down to the wire

Meaning: a situation where the outcome is not decided until the very end

Example: With both teams being equally matched and putting up an exceptional display, the match was very exiting and went down to the wire.

don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

Meaning: don’t be ungrateful when you receive a gift

Example: I know you don’t like the dress very much, but it was a gift; you should not look a gift horse in the mouth.

dog days

Meaning: hot, sultry days

Example: During the dog days of summer, people prefer to remain indoors and go out as little as possible.

double date

Meaning: a date on which two couples go together

Example: When Jim and Sam went on a double date with their girlfriends, they had a fun evening together.

dead ringer

Meaning: A duplicate of the exact nature.

Example: She is a dead ringer of one of my friends. I in fact walked up to her at an event mistaking her for my friend.

dry run

Meaning: a rehearsal before the actual performance

Example: Today is only a dry run so we will not be using the actual costumes.


Meaning: it is something that is unique

Example: It’s a doozy of a painting, she is so creative.

drink like a fish

Meaning: this phrase means to drink heavily, which becomes worrisome

Example: At any party that he goes, he drinks like a fish. His wife ought to control this if she can.

dish fit for the gods

Meaning: This refers to food that is of an exemplary quality

Example: She is such a wonderful cook. The cakes that she bakes are dish fit for the gods!

diamond is forever

Meaning: It is the slogan of the popular diamond seller De Beers.

Example: ‘No matter how much you love your man, it is the diamond that lasts forever’, joked the girls at the brunch table.

drive up the wall

Meaning: to make someone angry or irritated

Example: This stagnant traffic and constant honking is driving me up the wall.

don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Meaning: don’t make everything dependent on one thing

Example: It would be better if you applied to several companies instead of just one; don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

drastic times call for drastic measures

Meaning: extreme circumstances can only be resolved by equally extreme actions

Example: After the company had posted losses for the third consecutive year, the board decided to replace all of its top management. After all, drastic times call for drastic measures.

don’t give up the day job

Meaning: a usually humorous way of telling someone not to pursue something full time as he or she is not good at it

Example: I watched your performance at the theater today. My advice is don’t give up your day job.

devil’s advocate

Meaning: one who presents a counter argument

Example: I agree with what you say, but I’ll play devil’s advocate so that we can cover all the possibilities that may arise.

don’t count your chickens before they hatch

Meaning: do not count on something that has not yet happened

Example: Before committing to make the payment, wait till you receive the money from the bank. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

do the trick

Meaning: successfully achieve a result

Example: If nothing seems to be working, just pray to the God, sometimes that does the trick.

deals with

Meaning: be concerned with something

Example: We will have to plan our strategy to deal with the rising incident of theft.

dribs and drabs

Meaning: in small irregular quantities

Example: The checks for the charity are coming in dribs and drabs.

drop a bombshell

Meaning: make an unexpected, startling or disturbing announcement

Example: My sister dropped a bombshell by announcing she was discontinuing her study for a job.

double whammy

Meaning: situation where two bad things happen at the same time

Example: Boss fired me from the job and I lost my wallet too, what a double whammy?

dead end

Meaning: a street, corridor, road, pipe etc., that has no exit

Example: The interlocutors have reached a dead end in their efforts to discover a peaceful solution to the imbroglio.

deja vu

Meaning: already seen (Literal meaning in French)

Example: She suddenly had a strong sense of déjà vu.


Meaning: be inactive

Example: A cut in interest rates on housing loans can lift the property market out of the doldrums.

dirt cheap

Meaning: very cheap

Example: Its quite a useful book, but luckily I could buy it dirt cheap at a junk shop.

devil may care

Meaning: – very casual attitude – worry-free or carefree attitude – reckless – defiant – relaxed and not worried about the results of your actions.

de facto

Meaning: existing in fact

Example: English is de facto the common language of much of the world today.

de jure

Meaning: having a right or existence as stated by law

Example: The president aims to create a de jure one-party state.

down in the dumps

Meaning: a gloomy

Example: As the things were not going well for her at work, she was feeling a bit down in the dumps.

drop a line

Meaning: – send a brief letter – to call over telephone – send an email, etc.

dressed to kill

Meaning: elaborately attired, dressed to draw attraction

Example: She arrived at the reception dressed to kill.

draw the line

Meaning: to define a limit in anything

Example: It all depends on your concept of fiction and where you draw the line between fact and fiction.

drag feet or heels

Meaning: – act reluctantly or without enthusiasm – to do something slowly because you do not want to do it – postpone doing what …

down the drain

Meaning: to waste something

Example: Fixing that old car is just money down the drain, it will never run properly again.

down the road

Meaning: – at a future point or end – in the future, in a few years – dismissed, fired

down and out

Meaning: – homeless or penniless person – someone who has no home, no job and no money – poor and unlucky, bumming and boozing – …

doubting Thomas

Meaning: – habitually doubtful person – a person who refuses to believe anything until they are given proof.

dot the i’s and cross the t’s

Meaning: to take care of every detail, even minor ones

Example: I had dotted all the i’s and crossed the t’s, so I wondered why my application was rejected.

done in

Meaning: – be too tired to do any more – exhausted

Example: I was/felt really done in after the match.

done for

Meaning: to be over

Example: The deal is done for I am not going to speak with that man again.

dog tired

Meaning: very tired

Example: Now, I am dog-tired after three days of the journey.

dog in the manger

Meaning: one who prevents others from enjoying something despite having no use for it

Example: Stop being such a dog in the manger and let your sister ride your bike if you’re not using it.

dog eat dog

Meaning: a very competitive world

Example: The only rule of the marketplace was dog-eat-dog.

dos and don’ts

Meanings: – rules about what you must do and what you must not do in a specific condition – what is recommended or allowed and …

do or die

Meaning: a situation in which you must take a big risk in order to avoid failure

Example: A do-or-die attempt to halt the invaders.

divide and conquer or rule

Meanings: – win by getting one’s opponents to fight among themselves, – a way of keeping yourself in a position of power by

dig own grave

Meaning: do something stupid that will seriously harm oneself, cause one’s own ruin or downfall.

dig heels in

Meaning: to be firm and resolute about something

Example: The businessman was digging heels about buying these stocks even though all of his business partners were against it. They finally had to give him his way.

dig up dirt

Meaning: find derogatory information about something or somebody.

Example: No effort is being spared to dig up dirt on the rival candidate.

die in harness

Meaning: to expire while working

Example: She doesn’t want to retire — she’d rather die in harness.

die hard

Meaning: disappear or change very slowly, take a long time to cease to exist or be dropped from consideration. Noun: a person who displays such resistance …

deliver the goods

Meaning: do what is required

Example: So far the team’s new player has failed to deliver the goods. He failed to open his account in his first three games.

dead and buried

Meaning: no longer in use.

Example: US and Great Britain won’t stop their weapons until the terrorism is dead and buried from the earth.

day of reckoning

Meaning: the time when an unpleasant situation has to be dealt with.

Example: Ignoring the study near exams will definitely bring you the day of …

day in, day out

Meaning: every day, without respite.

Example: Life feels too boring when you go to office for work day in, day out.

dark horse

Meaning: a little known, unexpectedly successful entrant

Example: You never can tell, some dark horse many come along and win a House of Lords seat.

dance to tune

Meaning: to do what someone else forces you to do

Example: In order to keep the peace Peter has to dance to his wife’s tune.

down to earth

Meaning: decent, simple, realistic

Example: She is very down to earth person, not at all attracted by the glamour world.

draw a blank

Meaning: to get no response from someone

Example: The bank manager will question you on why you need such a big amount as loan. You have to be confident in your answers and for heaven’s sake do not draw a blank at that time.

do one’s bit

Meaning: assist; make an individual contribution to an overall effort.

Example: When survival is the critical issue, everyone has to do one’s bit.


elephant in the room

Meaning: a difficult, controversial, or obvious problem that no one wants to talk about or mention because the subject is problematic, uncomfortable, or awkward

Example: When Geoff arrived at the meeting yesterday, he had a huge black eye. He gave us no explanation, and nobody dared ask him about it. So we sat there for the whole morning with this elephant in the room.

eye candy

Meaning: attractive visually but uninteresting in other ways

Example: The company website was pure eye candy because it looks good, but nothing is interesting when you dig deeper.

easy peasy

Meaning: very straightforward

Example: Just copy what I do. It’s easy peasy.

end up

Meaning: reach a particular place or condition

Example: They ate so much that they ended up feeling ill for the rest of the day.

easy does it

Meaning: used to tell someone to go ahead with something with slowly, and carefully

Example: Sandra: I asked him for a simple drawing! To be honest, I am so angry right now. Andrew: Easy does it, Sandra. We will make sure he refunds the money.

Easter egg

Meaning: a decorated or dyed egg usually given to children at Easter

Example: While scrolling down the menu of Grand Theft Auto V, I happened upon an Easter egg.

Elvis has left the building

Meaning: the show is ended and go home now

Example: I think we delayed coming — Elvis has left the building.


Meaning: a situation when a song that comes to your mind again and again

Example: This new PitBull song is a real earworm. I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since last week.

eat crow

Meaning: being proven wrong after taking a strong stand

Example: No that my brother has proved that I was wrong I will have to eat crow.

eat words

Meaning: to take back what was said

Example: I can’t believe that he didn’t trust that we could win. He will have to eat his words.

end of the day

Meaning: to look at all the possibilities and then to make a final decision

Example: At the end of the day, I have decided that law school would be the best path for me.

eager beaver

Meaning: someone who is very eager to perform tasks and is always offering to do more

Example: Don’t be such an eager beaver, we have plenty of time to complete the task.

eat like a horse

Meaning: to eat a lot

Example: He eats like a horse — there’s never enough left for everyone else once he’s been at the buffet.

within earshot

Meaning: to be close by to be able to hear something or someone to be trying to hear someone

every nook and cranny

Meaning: to look for something everywhere

Example: The lawyers searched every nook and cranny to find more evidence but alas, there was none.

everything but the kitchen sink

Meaning: almost everything that one can think of

Example: When he moved out of the house, he took along everything but the kitchen sink.

end of story

Meaning: there is  nothing more to add to the matter under discussion

Example: I did not invite her because I did not want her to come to my party. End of story.

every picture tells a story

Meaning: scene of happening that explains hidden reality

Example: Shannon is denying but I am quite sure that she had done something wrong, every picture tells a story.

eat humble pie

Meaning: To become very humble in behaviour when someone points out a wrong doing by the person.

Example: I know for certain that the appliance should not be handled this way but if I turn out to be wrong then I’ll eat humble pie.

every cloud has a silver lining

Meaning: there is something good in everything that’s bad

Example: Reena was depressed to be confined to bed after her surgery, but over time, when she could spend a lot of time with her family and catch up with old friends, who came to visit her, she realized that every cloud has a silver lining.

early days

Meaning: it is too soon to make a judgment about something

Example: The new measures seem to have worked, but it’s early days yet and the Reserve Bank of India Governor would rather not make any comment about the country’s economy.

early bird

Meaning: an early rising person

Example: If you are an early bird, you know that watching the sunrise is how breathtaking.

easier said than done

Meaning: something seems like a good idea, but it would be difficult to do.

easy come, easy go

Meaning: readily won and readily lost

Example: I won a lot of money at the casino last night but lost it on my way out. Oh well, easy come, easy go.


fight like cat and dog

Meaning: argue jealously and violently all the time

Example: The married couple fought like cat and dog the entire time they were together.

feel blue

Meaning: to feel sad or depressed

Example: Yesterday I felt blue, and nothing seemed to cheer me up.

fly off the handle

Meaning: To lose one’s temper and get angry for seemingly no reason (does not usually refer to situations that would warrant an emotional response).

Example: I was so happy to find a parking spot and get out of the store when Jim came flying off the handle and yelled at me in front of everyone in line.

fan the flames

Meaning: make a bad situation even worse

Example: The president’s racist comments are really going to fan the flames of hatred among the crowd.

fight tooth and nail

Meaning: to fight very fiercely

Example: I want this job so I’m going to fight tooth and nail for it.

fair and square

Meaning: done according to the rules

Example: The supporters for the other team were angry but we won the game fair and square.

for a while

Meaning: a short period of time

Example: I will be able to sit with you for a while, but I need to get home soon.

from the bottom of my heart

Meaning: with sincere and deep feeling

Example: I am really happy with the new job and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

fake it till you make it

Meaning: portray yourself like the person you always wanted to become

Example: I had no idea that her family is so illiterate as she always pretended to be classy. Fake it till you make it.

walking on air

Meaning: to be very happy (elated)

Example: I have been walking on air since I found out that I have been awarded a scholarship to study music.

fast food

Meaning: food that is tasty but has less or no nutritional value is referred to as fast food

Example: Nina loves French fries and other fast food.

fair-weather friend

Meaning: used to refer a friend who is not reliable in difficult times

Example: Simran is looking for a loyal friend, not a fair-weather friend.

first light

Meaning: the time when the light begins to appear in the morning

Example: The search for the missing children will continue at first light.

free spirit

Meaning: a person who freely lives a life of his own way

Example: His wife is a free spirit, she does not believe in the work that we do.

forty winks

Meaning: sleep for a while, mostly during the day

Example: The bank manager caught the security guard while taking forty winks on duty.

famous last words

Meaning: a comment or a prophecy that is expected to be proved incorrect

Example: I was thinking that I will not have dinner today. Famous last words, I am very hungry.

for a song

Meaning: incredibly inexpensive

Example: She bought those lovely shoes at a flea market for a song.

fall from grace

Meaning: to lose status, respect or prestige

Example: The Economic and Finance minister’s fall from grace gave her detractors great satisfaction.

fat chance

Meaning: when there is little or no chance of something happening

Example: Did you really think that he would show up to work the day after a long weekend? Fat chance!

figure out

Meaning: to solve something by using reasoning

Example: It doesn’t matter how long it takes. I am going to figure out this math problem.

fit of anger

Meaning: to display a very bad temper, often by screaming a lot

Example: When she didn’t get her way, she drove off in a fit of anger.

fall out

Meaning: to disagree with someone about something

Example: I had a fall out with my mom about her losing my earrings.

finishing touch

Meaning: something that is added to ensure that something else is made complete

Example: Mike was sure he would ace the auditions as he put finishing touches on his performance.

full of beans

Meaning: to be optimistic or enthusiastic

Example: Upon hearing the good news, Mary was definitely full of beans.

from pillar to post

Meaning: to move from one place to another with no purpose and direction

Example: Failing to get a satisfactory answer from her doctor, Mary went from pillar to post searching for a cure for her illness.

from now on

Meaning: used to refer a time in the not so distant future

Example: From now on, every student must switch off their phones before coming to my class.


Meaning: unlikely to be true

Example: When he told us the stories of his youth, everyone could agree that they were far-fetched.

feel the pinch

Meaning: experience financial hardship

Example: Since Farrokh was made redundant, we’ve really felt the pinch. We can’t even afford to buy the kids new shoes.

forbidden fruit is always the sweetest

Meaning: to desire something that is not within a feasible reach

Example: The guy thinks that the forbidden fruit is always the sweetest and keeps asking her out even though she has refused him several times. I seem to think that this is becoming unhealthy and obsessive.

first things first

Meaning: to have a priority order

Example: The deal is on but first things first, let’s discuss how the remuneration for the work will be done.

familiarity breeds contempt

Meaning: to start disliking something when one gets to know too much about it

Example: The couple could not stay together long after their wedding because familiarity breeds contempt.

fortune favours the bold

Meaning: it refers to people who face problems with determination and courage are the ones who attain massive levels of success

Example: The guy should have gone all out to achieve his destiny. He would have been married to the love of his life had he showed some courage back then. Fortune favours the bold.

follow by

Meaning: to continue with something else, usually on the agenda

Example: The presentation will be followed by high tea and snacks for all the employees present.

food for thought

food for thought Meaning an idea or subject to think about to have things to think about arising from an event or situation new scheme or method to do something Example Sentences The …

from time to time

Meaning: every now and then

Example: The kids write to me from time to time letting me know of their latest adventures.

faint of heart

Meaning: to not be strong enough to handle a situation

Example: This movie is not for those who are faint of heart. You better go to bed right now.

fall between the cracks

Meaning: slip through the cracks

Example: The management was so focused on planning for the next year’s budget that they let this issue fall between the cracks.

foam at the mouth

Meaning: be extremely angry

Example: She was foaming at the mouth when she heard of her child’s misdeeds.

flip the bird

Meaning: show someone the middle finger as an act of contempt or anger

Example: When he could not get the man to agree with him, he flipped him the bird and went off cursing.

flash in the pan

Meaning: something that cannot be repeated, usually a positive concept

Example: His initial good performances were a mere flash in the pan. Nowadays, he delivers only mediocre work.

field day

Meaning: have a great time doing something enjoyable

Example: The children had a field day when they were taken on a trip to the museum. 

fancy free

Meaning: something or someone who has no commitments or ties

Example: Until the time his father was around to take care of him he was footloose and fancy free. Now things are very different.

fall for

Meaning: to be attracted romantically to a person

Example: I think Charlie has fallen for Jenny. He is always trying to find reasons to be with her.

fall in love

Meaning: to be very attracted to someone

Example: My brother and his fiancee fell in love when they went for a camping trip together with a group of friends.

filthy rich

Meaning: Someone who is rich beyond measure.

Example: His father is filthy rich so obviously he is not worried about choosing the right university. He can get admission in any of them that he chooses.

flesh and blood

Meaning: This phrase refers to direct family members, people that share a DNA, that is, flesh and blood.

Example: Of course I care about her well-being, my sister is my flesh and blood after all.

fish for a compliment

Meaning: It refers to an attempt to make someone say something nice to you or about you.

Example: When the student said that he was still not confident of the subject after a score of 80 on 100 in the test, the teacher knew that he was only fishing for a compliment.

fate worse than death

Meaning: It means to have to suffer through ordeal that makes a person prefer death over going through it again.

Example: Even after she got the surgery done she was in pain for weeks. It was a fate worse than death.

fish rots from the head down

Meaning: It refers to failing organizations and how the blame of it should be on its ‘head’ that is its leadership.

Example: The company was bound to be closed sooner or later considering the kind of mangers that they had hired. A fish rots from the head down after all.

fool’s paradise

Meaning: This phrase refers to someone who becomes happy at hopes provided based on false facts.

Example: The money was never going to be deposited by him. He kept promising her and let her stay in that fool’s paradise for way too long.

face the music

Meaning: receive punishment

Example: If you have done something wrong, you have to face the music. There’s no escaping out of it.

feather in your cap

Meaning: It means to have an achievement in your name.

Example: Ruth scored the last goal for her team, adding a feather in her cap.

flog a dead horse

Meaning: waste energy on something that has no chance of succeeding

Example: He keeps trying to get his manuscripts published, but I think he is flogging a dead horse.

set in ways

Meaning: leading a fixed lifestyle

Example: People tend to get set in their ways as they grow older.

find feet

Meaning: become familiar with a new situation

Example: He’s still new in his job; give him some time to find his feet.

far cry from

Meaning: something that is very different from something else

Example: The apartment they live in now is a far cry from the huge mansion they once used to have.

fit as a fiddle

Meaning: A very healthy person

Example: My grandfather is 90 years old, but he is as fit as a fiddle.

third wheel or fifth wheel

Meaning: a person who is in a situation where they are not needed

Example: I was the only person at the dinner party without a date. I felt like a third wheel.

fall on deaf ears

fall on deaf ears Meaning: disregard, ignore. Example: Warning that over speed driving always causes to accidents, and serious injuries have largely fallen on deaf ears.

fingers crossed

Meaning: a gesture of crossed fingers used to express good luck

Example: Good luck with your test tomorrow. I’ll have my fingers crossed.

frighten or scare to death

Meaning: make somebody feel very frightened.

Example: A shadow appeared in the doorway and scared me to death.

from the cradle to the grave

Meaning: during the whole of your life, throughout life.

Example: This health plan provides protection from the cradle to the grave.

feet of clay

Meaning: have a flaw or weakness most people are unaware of.

Example: Some of the greatest people in history had feet of clay.

full cry

Meaning: to talk about a subject in an eager tone

Example: The opposition party was in full cry in the parliament yesterday to ensure that the changes proposed by the government are not passed as legislation.

foot the bill

Meaning: pay the bill

Example: It was a splendid party and I’m glad that I don’t have to foot that particular bill.

fill the bill

Meaning: be exactly suitable for a particular situation

Example: The person who claims he fills the bill for the role of such an important office should at least be decent with his communication on social networks. This guy is not worth the people’s while.

from A to Z

Meaning: comprehensive

Example: Steve Job’s latest book tell the story of his from A to Z.


green thumb

Meaning: good gardening results

Example: My mother has green fingers. She can grow just about anything in the garden.

go out on a limb

Meaning: do or say something that is different from most other people

Example: During an analysis of the news, he went out on a limb and expressed an opinion opposite to that held by the general public. 

jump on the bandwagon

Meaning: to start doing something because it is fashionable or profitable

Example: get on the bandwagon 

get the sack (boot, axe)

Meaning: be dismissed from the job

Example: If you can’t do your job properly, you’re going to get the sack

good egg

Meaning: a kind person

Example: My neighbour, Frank is such a good egg. He always feeds the cat and checks the house if we are away. 

get rid of

Meaning: to remove something or someone

Example: He finally got rid of the door to door salesman, by saying he had to go out. 

goose egg

Meaning: zero

Example: We had a good game, but the score was goose egg

get a life

Meaning: to stop wasting a lot of time in useless or boring or trivial works

Example: You are working over 100 hours a week, dude, get a life

get through

Meaning: to make it to the end of a particularly arduous or stressful experience

Example: I didn’t think we would get through the last week of exams. 

get to know

Meaning: receiving the information

Example: It took me a while to get to know my in-laws and understanding their lifestyle. 

green with envy

Meaning: extremely jealous of another person

Example: Sally was green with envy when he saw my brand new car. 

get the wrong end of the stick

Meaning: to understand something in the wrong way

Example: When Jack and Taylor arrived at the award function together, everyone got the wrong end of the stick

good grief

Meaning: occurrence of something shocking

Example: Good grief, is she going to kick her brother in front of the entire school? This is really shocking for me. 

sleep tight

Meaning: an affectionate way of wishing someone a good night’s sleep

Example: I am going to bed now. Good night, sleep tight

go with the flow

Meaning: to do what other people are doing in any particular situation

Example: Kevin didn’t want to be part of the protest, but all his friends wanted to stand for something, so he chose to go with the flow

get your goat

Meaning: irritate somebody

Example: She got my goat the moment she said my mother was no good at parenting. 

get off

Meaning: to leave a place in order to start a journey

Example: If we get off before five o’clock the traffic will not be as bad. 

give a shot

Meaning: to have a try at something

Example: I have never eaten sushi, but I will give it a shot

give up

Meaning: to stop trying to figure something out

Example: John was so tired of trying to fix the stove that he decided to give up and phone an electrician. 

go after

Meaning: to catch up to someone after they have gone

Example: Leo has decided to go after his dreams with all that he has. 

grass is always greener on the other side

Meaning: to think that other’s part is better than mine

Example: The lawyer always thought that the grass is greener on the other side and left his profession to become an MBA graduate. Guess what? He is still struggling to find a job. 

God helps those who help themselves

Meaning: to be able to come out of a bad situation by self-help rather than hoping for divine intervention

Example: The businessman refused to help you this time because he realized that you run to him every time you have the slightest difficulty. Please remember that he has a business to run and God helps only those who help themselves

get under skin

Meaning: to be irritating

Example: The new manager is getting under my skin

glass ceiling

Meaning: an unseen (glass) barrier for women and people who belong to minority groups in climbing up the corporate, political or the ladder of success regardless of whether they are qualified for the job

Example: The woman made every attempt but could not break the highest and the toughest glass ceiling

going to hell in a handbasket

Meaning: in extremely bad state and becoming worse

Example: With corruption and malpractices everywhere, the political leadership seem to be going to hell in a handbasket

gut feeling

Meaning: a personal, intuitive feeling

Example: I had a gut feeling that he had been lying, and sure enough, it was later proved that he had been. 

great minds think alike

Meaning: thoughts of very intelligent people are similar to each other

Example: The two of us had the same idea at the same time. Well, great minds think alike

good Samaritan

Meaning: someone who tries to help people in trouble or need

Example: The beggar was lying shivering on the road when a good Samaritan came along and gave him a blanket and some warm clothes. 

go for broke

Meaning: risk everything and go for an all out effort

Example: Realizing that they would be out of the competition if they lost this match, the players went for broke

go down like a lead balloon

Meaning: be poorly received by an audience

Example: The joke he cracked went down like a lead balloon

give the slip

Meaning: to get away

Example: The police were on the criminal’s trail but in the end he managed to give them the slip

get over it

Meaning: accept something and move on

Example: I know you are bitter about losing that job, but try to get over it and find another one. 

get down to brass tacks

Meaning: talk about the important things

Example: We have been chatting around for quite some time. Let’s get down to brass tacks and discuss what we are really here for. 

go through a rough patch

Meaning: to experience a lot of problems in a period of life

Example: They have usually been very supportive of each other, but right now, their marriage is going through a bit of a rough patch

get hitched

Meaning: to get married

Example: Have you heard? Marge and Sam are getting hitched this weekend. 

go steady

Meaning: have a romantic relationship with someone

Example: Kate and Jack have been going steady with each other for the past few years now. 

go out with

Meaning: have a romantic relationship with someone

Example: Sue and Rob had been going out with each other for five years before they finally decided to get married. 

green around the gills

Meaning: Someone who looks sick or nauseated.

Example: You need not know all the rules to understand that this kind of turbulent weather makes anyone on board go green around the gills. The cruise should have been stopped for a while. 

ginger up

Meaning: to cheer up a group or any activity

Example: As soon as they heard about the picnic — the children in the class gingered up

go the extra mile

Meaning: to make an extra effort

Example: When it comes to weaker students, the teacher goes the extra mile to help them understand. 

go down in flames

Meaning: to fail spectacularly

Example: The company went down in flames after reports came out that it had been financing illegal activities. 

cut somebody some slack

Meaning: give additional freedom to someone

Example: I know he is not up to the mark right now but let’s cut him some slack. He’s new to this environment and needs time to adjust. 

go to the dogs

go to the dogs Meanings: – something is becoming worse than it normally was – to become worse in quality or character – becoming very less successful than … 

give the devil his due

Meaning: give credit to an opponent’s merits, grudgingly or not.

Example: I don’t like what the new management has done, but give the devil his due, sales have improved. 

get a raw deal

get a raw deal Meaning: unfair treatment. Example: She got a very raw deal in terms of his father’s will: everything was left to her younger sister.

get foot in the door

get feet in the door Meaning: succeed with a first step; achieve an initial stage. Example: I know it’s not the job you’d hoped for, but at least … 

go through channels

Meaning: to follow the correct steps in order to get something done

Example: If you want to get a new licence you will have to go through the proper channels. Otherwise it will not be legal. 

get cracking

Meaning: to hurry something up

Example: The laundry man better get cracking with our clothes else we will miss the event. 

go round in circles

go round in circles Meaning: work at something but keep failing to make progress with it. Example: In the absence of adequate data, the surveyors are just going … 

go by the book

Meaning: do things strictly according to the written rules, etc.

Example: The most successful officers are not those who always go by the book but use their initiative. 

give a wide berth

give a wide berth Meaning: avoid somebody; keep away from somebody. Example: He has fallen out with her adviser and has been giving her a wide berth for a couple … 

take the bull by the horns

Meaning: decisively deal with a difficult or dangerous situation

Example: Jone decided to take the bull by the horns and organise things for himself. 

go with a bang

go with a bang Meaning: very exciting and successful. Example: We take part in the events organized by Jack and Rose Events Company, because they go with a … 

go bananas

go bananas Meaning: become very angry, act crazy. Example: She’ll go bananas if she sees the house in this (dirty) condition.

get to the bottom

Meaning: to find out the truth relating to a situation

Example: The murderer will not get away with it, the news anchor said. She assured the audiences that the police will get to the bottom of it all. 

give hell

Meaning: to give someone a harsh scolding

Example: That office gives hell to its employees because the boss is mean guy. 

get out of bed on the wrong side

Meaning: be very irritable and grouchy

Example: You seem to be in a very bad temper today. Did you get out on the wrong side of the bed

give airs

Meaning: to be pretentious/showy

Example: Susan is a very smart girl but the fact that she gives herself airs about her job makes me like her a little less. 

good account of

Meaning: perform well, often in a challenging situation.

Example: As he could not give a very good account of himself in the interview, the company … 

get act together

Meaning: get organized and on schedule

Example: The official was asked to get his act together if he wanted to keep his post. 


happy go lucky

Meaning: cheerful

Example: Even though it was storming outside, he kept his sunny disposition since he was happy-go-lucky

hit the roof

Meaning: experience sudden anger

Example: Jake’s parents are going to hit the roof when they see the damage he’s done to their car. 

heads will roll

Meaning: people will be fired or forced to resign

Example: Heads are going to roll when the boss finds out about the missing stock. 

bitter pill

Meaning: something unpleasant to be endured

Example: Finding out that she was adopted was a hard pill for Hailey to take. 

stand your ground

Meaning: not retreat

Example: We stood our ground on the footpath, and then eventually, all the cows moved away. 

halfway house

Meaning: mid-point in recovery, treatment, or progress

Example: Frank has gone into a halfway house after 27 years in prison. 

Herculean task

Meaning: a task requiring huge amounts of physical strength

Example: It will be a Herculean task to get through to the quarter-finals, but this untested team is up for the challenge. 

home is where the heart is

Meaning: a place you feel connected to emotionally

Example: No matter where I go, it’s always so lovely to come back here. Home is where the heart is after all. 

hit or miss

Meaning: something is arranged in a haphazard fashion

Example: «Have you tried the new bar on the corner? We’ve been three times and it’s a bit hit and miss.» 

have no business

Meaning: to do something that you should not be doing

Example: You have no business discussing my personal life with your friends. 

heart touching

Meaning: an event that makes you feel happy

Example: We watched a heart-touching movie about a boy who lived next to a concentration camp during the Second World War. 

heavy heart

Meaning: attaining a state of grief

Example: With a heavy heart, we had to leave the funeral ceremony. 

head above water

Meaning: to succeed to survive in bad financial situations

Example: I have to work 60 hours a week just to keep my head above water. I don’t know how people do it. 

heart and soul

Meaning: with all the effort you can put into it

Example: He’s dedicated to the project heart and soul

high roller

Meaning: a wealthy person or company who spends their money in a risky way, often by making risky investments that can offer large rewards

Example: I would never invest money in their company. They are high rollers and I cannot afford that kind of risk. 

hang up

Meaning: to disconnect a phone call. It is often used when someone does not want to continue a conversation

Example: If you do not stop complaining then I will hang up on you. 

hold tongue

Meaning: to keep quiet when one would rather speak

Example: When she said that she was very hardworking I had to hold my tongue

head start

Meaning: to start ahead of the official start of an event

Example: I know that the paper only has to be in next week, but I would like to get a head start

hang on

Meaning: hold on or hold tightly

Example: The child hung on to her mother and would not let go of her hands. 

high up

Meaning: to have an important standing in society

Example: With the way he barked orders at the workers, everyone got the impression that he is high up in the company. 

heart goes out to

Meaning: to feel sympathy for someone when they are distressed

Example: Following the aftermath of the hurricane, my heart goes out to all the residents of New Orleans. 

high time

Meaning: to refer to something that is already overdue but must be started immediately

Example: After months of being unemployed, it’s high time Paul starts a business of his own rather than keep waiting for paid employment. 


Meaning: front-to-front

Example: Even with the increased hostility at work, Amanda faced all her colleagues head-on as she pitched her new proposal. 


Meaning: to have had a wonderful past but no present or future in the field

Example: The company is now just a has-been

household name

Meaning: to be very popular

Example: The character is a household name because people are able to identify with the struggles that he faces. 

hands are tied

Meaning: to not be able to do anything about a situation

Example: The manager tried his best to explain the situation after such a terrible mess created by the employee in the account. In the end, his hands were tied and he had to fire the staff members responsible for the mistake. 

honesty is the best policy

Meaning: being honest is always good and fruitful

Example: The company has high moral standards and has the words «honesty is the best policy» written all over its premises. 

hope for the best, but prepare for the worst

Meaning: be optimistic but ready for hard times as well

Example: The tendency these days is to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Else in our days we would never be speaking about failing an exam. 

heads up

Meaning: to inform about something beforehand

Example: Heads up! This machine is used to trim grass, please handle with care. 

haste makes waste

Meaning: if you do things too quickly, you can make mistakes

Example: Try not to rush through things, even though you are in a hurry. After all, haste makes waste

hard cheese

Meaning: bad luck, tough luck

Example: The construction workers have a tough time out there, working continuously in the sweltering heat. It’s really hard cheese for them. 

have eyes only for

Meaning: be attracted to someone exclusively

Example: Jane was a very popular girl in her college and was surrounded by admirers, but she had eyes only for Steve. 

head over heels

Meaning: fall deeply and completely in love, especially suddenly

Example: Tom and Mary are head over heels in love with each other and are going to get married next month. 

have the hots for

Meaning: be very sexually attracted to someone

Example: My friend has the hots for the new girl who has recently joined his team. 

hissy fit

Meaning: To throw a tantrum.

Example: A hissy fit is not justified just to get someone to listen to you. You have to be more mature than that. 

harp on

Meaning: To speak in a boring tone.

Example: He kept harping on about something. I had stopped paying attention a long while back. 

happy as a clam

Meaning: To be very happy.

Example: Although the job does not pay very well, she is as happy as a clam there. 

high on the hog

Meaning: someone who is used to luxury

Example: We aren’t as wealthy as the Jones’ to eat so high on the hog

hive of activity

Meaning: a very busy place

Example: The restaurant on this weekend will be a hive of activities

have never had it so good

Meaning: It literally means what it says, that is, a person has not had better of whatever it is that is being discussed before.

Example: You should not have broken up with her. You have never had it so good with anyone else. 

hold your horses

Meaning: to wait

Example: Hold your horses! We have not won yet, so don’t start celebrating. 

hit the books

Meaning: to study very hard

Example: I have an exam tomorrow, I need to hit the books tonight. 

hang in there

Meaning: wait, be patient till things work out

Example: Our company is going through tough times, but we’re hanging in there; things will surely work out. 

hit the nail on the head

Meaning: be accurately right about something

Example: Stephen hit the nail on the head when he said that what the company was lacking in was clear vision and focus. 

hit the sack

Meaning: to go to bed

Example: I am really tired after all that exercise. I am going to hit the sack. 

hear on the grapevine

Meaning: to hear rumours about something

Example: I heard on the grapevine that he was being promoted, but I don’t know anything further. 

have no truck with

Meaning: avoid dealing or being associated with

Example: You should have no truck with those few in your class. They are just trying to misuse your trait of helping others. 

hot potato

Meaning: any subject which several folks are talking about and which is frequently argued

Example: The issue of gun control is a political hot potato in the United States. 

have designs on

have designs on Meaning: contrive a secret plot or scheme, especially with selfish motives. Example: I think she has designs on my science project for the purpose of … 

head in the clouds

Meaning: daydreaming or absentminded

Example: He roams around all night with his head in the clouds

Hobson’s choice

Meaning: given two options when in fact there is only one choice

Example: This is the dirtiest hotel that I have ever slept in! It is this room or out on the street, it’s Hobson’s choice

hide light under a bushel

Meaning: to show modesty towards something or someone

Example: The man kept hiding his light under a bushel even though the whole neighbourhood is aware of his cleanliness initiatives for the society. 

blood on hands

Meaning: be responsible for somebody’s death

Example: This politician, who looks so successful and empathetic now has the blood of many people on his hands from the time that riots took place under his orders. 

have a ball

Meaning: to have a great time

Example: The team had a ball at the corporate event. Rarely are such parties so interesting for the employees. 

have a bone to pick with

Meaning: an unpleasant issue or grievance that need discussion.

Example: The two reputed universities of the state have a bone to pick with each … 

high or top on agenda

Meaning: if a subject or plan is at the top of somebody’s agenda, it is the most important thing they want to discuss … 

hold all the aces

Meaning: be in a winning position

Example: In the battle between chemical manufacturers and environmentalists the activists seem to hold all the aces.

have been around

Meaning: have existed; have acquired a lot of worldly experience.

Example: There is nothing new about laptops – they’ve been around for years.


in mint condition

Meaning: something used that looks new

Example: She was cautious about buying the vintage t-shirt sight unseen, but the seller assured her it was in mint condition

in cold blood

Meaning: in a cruel way and without pity or other emotion

Example: One young lady was shot dead in cold blood inside the premises of the shopping complex. 

in broad daylight

Meaning: during the daytime

Example: Politicians strongly condemn corruption and nepotism during political rallies, yet they go ahead and misuse public resources in broad daylight

in at the deep end

Meaning: to start a new job or activity without being prepared for it

Example: thrown in at the deep end 

in the bad books

Meaning: out of favour

Example: Maria remains in his bad books after the argument between both. 

in hot water

Meaning: in trouble or state of shame

Example: The opposition leader landed himself in a whole load of hot water after making several vulgar comments. 

in the red

Meaning: more money going out than coming in

Example: If your bank account goes in the red, the bank will charge you for every transaction. 

in hand

Meaning: under control

Example: Don’t worry about a thing; I’ve got it all in hand. I did it all online. 

in light of

Meaning: because of

Example: In light of what happened last week, please take care on the escalators. 

in the loop

Meaning: to be aware of the information

Example: Katy was always happy that her friends kept her in the loop with the latest gossip. 

in the air

Meaning: something like a mood that everybody can feel

Example: You could feel the tension in the air as everyone waited to hear the announcement. 

in no time

Meaning: a very short period of time

Example: I completed the project in no time at all. 

in a fog

Meaning: in a great confusion

Example: Jane always seems to be in a fog

in vain

Meaning: without success

Example: It seems as if the merger will go through and all our hard work has been in vain

in the nick of time

Meaning: almost too late

Example: He arrived at the wedding in the nick of time

I could eat a horse

Meaning: to be extremely hungry

Example: Could we please go out and get some dinner? I am so hungry that I could eat a horse

in stitches

Meaning: to laugh so hard that you are not able to control yourself

Example: The movie had everyone in the theatre in stitches

in a row

Meaning: to happen a couple of consecutive times without break

Example: He has been sick for three days in a row

in touch

Meaning: keep in touch

Example: We will definitely keep in touch with each other when you move to Australia. 

in a huff

Meaning: to be upset or angry about something

Example: June was very upset because her mother would not buy her a new pair of shoes, so she stormed out of the room in a huff

in a nutshell

Meaning: to be brief and straight to the point.

Example: In a nutshell, all the new mayor was saying is that the fight against crime will be taken much more seriously. 

in a pickle

Meaning: to be in a difficult situation

Example: Seeing as the deadline was looming and Grace was yet to round up the project, she realised she was in a pickle

if it’s the last thing I do

Meaning: indicates determination to achieve something

Example: I am going to get this house cleaned today if it’s the last thing I do

in the cross hairs

Meaning: in a position where one might receive severe criticism

Example: The man was in the cross hairs from the very beginning of the interrogation. 

ignorance is bliss

Meaning: to not get affected by something that is not known

Example: The farmers were using these pesticides in their fields without even considering the harmful effects it has on the land. Ignorance is bliss

if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours

Meaning: to return a favour for a favour

Example: The government cannot expect any progress in the society with a «if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours» attitude. 

if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

Meaning: to not try to mend things that do not require it

Example: Their marriage does not need a councillor. You should keep out and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 

it’s better to be safe than sorry

Meaning: being careful may keep away unpleasant situation

Example: They have taught their kids to play any sport only after wearing its gear because it is better to be safe than sorry

in the meantime

Meaning: simultaneously

Example: The party prepared to move to another location in the meantime 

in the pipeline

Meaning: to be underway

Example: The project has been in the pipeline since forever. I am not sure if it will ever get completed. 

it’s anyone’s call

Meaning: a competition where the outcome is difficult to predict or judge

Example: I think this year’s election would be anyone’s call. Both the candidates seem to have an equally divided support base. 

in your face

Meaning: a bold, defiant or aggressive manner

Example: Unable to tolerate Jack’s in your face attitude anymore, his boss fired him from the job. 

in the buff

Meaning: naked

Example: The model created a sensation when she posed for a magazine cover in the buff

in the bag

Meaning: have something as good as secured or certain

Example: The deal was finally in the bag after a few rounds of tough negotiations. 

idle hands are the devil’s tools

Meaning: if you have nothing to do, you are likely to do some mischief

Example: All the kids should be kept busy while you are away; idle hands are the devil’s tools

icing on the cake

Meaning: when something good is added to another good thing that you already have

Example: Everyone expected him to do well in the exams. Getting first rank was the icing on the cake

i’ll eat my hat

Meaning: This is an expression of not believing something very strongly.

Example: If you are really able to climb that 8 feet wall by yourself then I’ll eat my hat. 

if wishes were horses, beggars would ride

Meaning: To wish for things does not yield to anything.

Example: She told me she wanted to become Miss Universe and I said, «If wishes were horses, beggars would ride«. How else was I to react to such an absurd thing? 

in a trice

Meaning: In the moment, instantly.

Example: I will be there in a trice, stop calling me so often. 

if it’s not one thing, it’s the other

Meaning: everything is going wrong

Example: It’s such a bad day today. If it’s not one thing, it’s the other! 

it’s a small world

Meaning: meeting someone not expected to be at a certain place

Example: I had no contact with him since school, and I bumped into him at a friend’s party! It’s a small world

takes two to tango

Meaning: certain actions or activities cannot be performed alone — they  need two people to participate

Example: Don’t blame me for the argument. It takes two to tango! You are equally responsible. 

in the heat of the moment

Meaning: saying or doing something without thinking due go anger or excitement

Example: He really didn’t mean what he said about you. He said it in the heat of the moment. 

in tandem

Meaning: one after another

Example: He often works in tandem with an engineer, one coding for the website and the other taking care of website design. 

in high dudgeon

Meaning: feeling or exhibiting great resentment

Example: After the scuffle, the man who was affronted left in high dudgeon

in dire straits or need

Meaning: experience difficult financial conditions or circumstances

Example: The earthquake and the drought left the region in dire straits for a long time. 

in the driver’s seat

in the driver’s seat or in the driving seat Meaning: – in control – in charge of things or situation Examples: 1. The availability of a wide range … 

in deep water

Meaning: a very serious situation

Example: The political party is in deep water after it was discovered that their candidate had lied in the report. 

in the dark

in the dark Meaning: uninformed, a state of ignorance. Example: We’re still in the dark about the company’s layoff policy. Another forms of in the dark Idiom: keep … 

in a clover

in a clover Meaning: prosperous, living well. Example: After we earn a million in our new business of gold, we’ll hopefully be in a clover.

in due course

Meaning: quite soon in the future

Example: All candidates will be informed of our decision in due course

in the cahoots

Meaning: to do something in hiding or secret because it is morally or socially not acceptable

Example: It is usually the close circle of celebrities who are in the cahoots with the paparazzi. This is how celebrity outings are caught on tape so often. 

in the can

Meaning: to be completed

Example: The work is almost entirely in the can if only he can convince the managing directors to give him a raise now. 

in the black

Meaning: to not be in debt

Example: The employees were in the black until the management wrapped up the entire business. 

in blood

in blood Meaning: part of one’s genetic inheritance. Example: The whole family is good in business; it’s in their blood.

in black and white

Meaning: printed form of a document

Example: Bank demanded in submit the proposal in black and white

in the good books

Meaning: be in somebody’s favour or good opinion

Example: He always managed to be in the good books of the bosses, surprised one and all. 

in a bad way

Meaning: to say or mean something ill

Example: The teacher did not mean it in a bad way but the student felt insulted at being asked to explain anyway. 

in the ascendant

Meaning: to become more powerful

Example: The Jones’ have been in the ascendant ever since the 1800’s. They are now the most influential family in the United Kingdom, after the Queen’s own of course. 

in the blink of an eye

Meaning: in an instant

Example: In the blink of an eye, the robber disappeared from the bank with a bag full of cash. 


jump on the bandwagon

Meaning: to start doing something because it is fashionable or profitable

Example: get on the bandwagon 

jump to conclusions

Meaning: to predict a situation without having sufficient information

Example: Wait till we get the report; don’t jump to conclusions

just what the doctor ordered

Meaning: exactly what the doctor ordered

Example: I was so hungry, and that meal was absolutely delicious! It was just what the doctor ordered

just in case

Meaning: to do something as a precautionary measure

Example: The cake was ordered just in case the desert that she made did not turn up well. 

joined at the hip

Meaning: two people who are inseparable

Example: Chris and Jenny have been joined at the hip since they started dating each other a year ago. You would never see one without the other. 

jot or tittle

Meaning: A very small amount.

Example: I don’t want a jot or tittle of it, I want the whole thing. 

jump the gun

Meaning: start something too soon or early, especially without thinking

Example: The media jumped the gun and gave out their verdict of the scandal even before the investigation was complete. 

just deserts

Meaning: get what one deserves

Example: After the supervisor was suspended, many workers felt that he got his just deserts

Jack of all trades

Meaning: someone who is competent at many things but does not excel at any of them

Example: I am very glad that my husband is a Jack of all trades; it saved us a lot of money when it came to renovating our house. 


knuckle down

Meaning: buckle down.

Example: She knew if she didn’t knuckle down, the tasks wouldn’t get done. 

keep card close to chest

Meaning: be secretive or cautious, give nothing away.

Example: The children did not know where they were to go for their family holiday trip. Their dad kept his cards close to his chest

know on which side bread is buttered

Meaning: know what is to one’s advantage.

Example: She’s far too clever to irritate her employer as she knows which side her bread is buttered on. 

king of the hill

Meaning: be the undisputed champion.

Example: He made £3 million before he was 30, so he is the king of the hill in this industry. 

knotty problem

Meaning: difficult or complex problem.

Example: The accountant always found the end of the tax year to be a knotty problem

keep promise

Meaning: be faithful to your word.

Example: How on earth can I marry him when he can’t keep his promises

kick the can down the road

Meaning: to avoid dealing with a problem.

Example: I realise that the house needs to be painted but we are going to move in a few years so I am kicking the can down the road

knock out

Meaning: knockout.

Example: Does your brother really think that he can knock out the biggest guy in school? I would like to see him try. 

knock socks off

Meaning: doing something which was never done before.

Example: Lara’s performance at the concert last night just knocked my socks off

kick the habit

Meaning: to overcome an addiction especially of an addiction like drugs.

Example: Even after trying so hard, I could not kick the habit of drinking.

keep the wolf from the door

Meaning: to have sufficient money to prevent starvation or hunger.

Example: Both the man and his wife must work long hours just to keep the wolf from the door

knight in shining armour

Meaning: used to describe someone who saves you from a difficult situation.

Example: Thank you so much for fixing my flat tire. You are a knight in shining armour

kill the goose that lays the golden egg

Meaning: to destroy something that is profitable to you mostly because of greed.

Example: By selling off his business, Alex killed the goose that lays the golden egg

keep your nose clean

Meaning: to stay out of trouble by not doing anything wrong.

Example: By avoiding the drug dealers on the corner street, James was making an effort to keep his nose clean

keep your hair on

Meaning: to request someone to stay calm and not get annoyed

Example: The general kept his hair on during the meeting this time. 

keep your friends close and your enemies closer

Meaning: to keep a keen eye on enemies beyond what one might have on their friends

Example: As a politician you must keep your friends close and your enemies closer

keep on top

Meaning to stay be ahead in terms of prioritize/ stay responsive about job and ensure that work is being done on time. being alert of every detail of the process

Example: The company keeps on top of the news to find out if the merger is being showed in good light. I am trying to keep on top of my study programs this year so that I will not be hassled at the end of the year. Crystal keeps on top of all the latest movie world gossips. She just loves it as pastime.

kill time

Meaning: to wait for something by doing something or nothing.

Example: The team was killing time at the stadium before it was their turn to play. 

knock on wood (touch wood)

Meaning: tap knuckle on wood in order to avoid bad luck

Example: I am expecting a promotion and a big pay hike this year, touch wood

knee jerk reaction

Meaning: an automatic response to something

Example: It was a typical knee jerk reaction. He said no immediately without considering our proposal.

keep body and soul together

Meaning: manage to stay alive with very little money

Example: When he first came to the city, he earned barely enough to keep body and soul together

kiss and make up

Meaning: to become friendly again after an argument

Example: After having a heated argument the previous night, the young couple kissed and made up and decided to settle their differences amicably. 

keep schtum

Meaning: To be quiet when one knows that if the wrong thing is said then there will be more trouble.

Example: I can’t tell you because you will not be able to keep schtum about it. 

keen as mustard

Meaning: Very excited and enthusiastic.

Example: Little kids are always as keen as mustard to learn new things around them. 

know the ropes

Meaning: to know all the ways and means to get something done.

Example: She has been working here for 30 years and knows the ropes to getting anything done. 

Kangaroo court

Meaning: It refers to a court that passes judgement but is not a valid court.

Example: The Kangaroo court announced two years back that the family should be banished and the people in the village followed the judgement. To this day, nobody even talks to anyone in that family. 

kick the bucket

Meaning: to die

Example: Have you heard? The old man down the street has kicked the bucket

keep an eye on

Meaning: keep a watch on something or someone closely.

Example: The cops always kept an eye on the top trouble makers of the city to ensure that the festival period are not affected. 

kill two birds with one stone

Meaning: accomplish two different things at the same time.

Example: I have to go to the bank, and on the way back, I’ll pick up the groceries as well, killing two birds with one stone

keep your chin up

Meaning: be stalwart and courageous in a tough situation.

Example: Don’t let the difficulties intimidate you; keep your chin up

keep own counsel

Meaning: say little or nothing about one’s opinions or intentions.

Example: Our boss is notorious for keeping his own counsel; you never know what he has in his mind. 

keep at arm’s length

Meaning: keep distance from something or somebody.

Example: I like to keep my office colleagues at arm’s length outside of office. I don’t want them in my personal life.


put cards on the table

Meaning: be open and honest

Example: When John met up with Jane on their first date, John laid his cards on the table for Jane to know what he wanted. 

leaps and bounds

Meaning: progress very quickly.

Example: Regan’s reading skills are coming on in leaps and bounds with the new teacher. 

lone it

Meaning: to do an activity alone.

Example: They asked him to go to the movies, but he decided to lone it

look on the bright side

Meaning: always try to see the good things even in bad situations.

Example: Don’t worry about your exam score; look on the bright side. It is a significant improvement from the previous exam. 

jump to conclusions

Meaning: to predict a situation without having sufficient information.

Example: Wait till we get the report; don’t jump to conclusions

leg up

Meaning: give or receive assistance to achieve a goal.

Example: Completing the summer study program gives pupils a leg up in the following academic year. 

lower the bar

Meaning: to lower standards or expectations.

Example: The revision bill aims to lower the bar on picking candidates. 

two peas in a pod

Meaning: practically identical in appearance.

Example: Those boys could be twins, they are like two peas in a pod

light years away

Meaning: when something seems unlikely to happen.

Example: The technological advancement like flying cars is light years away.

lion’s share

Meaning: the biggest part of something.

Example: Karen always keeps a lion’s share – I won’t work with her anymore.

like a bat out of hell

Meaning: very fast and crazily.

Example: When Sara told Sam that there is a ghost living next to their room, he changed the room like a bat out of hell

lighten up

Meaning: to take it easy.

Example: Just lighten up! Everything will be fine. 

live wire

Meaning: an energetic and volatile person.

Example: John is such a live wire; he is a good source of entertainment. 

long run

Meaning: in the long run

Example: To make this project successful in the long run, they will need more partners. 

lean towards

Meaning: to be interested in something.

Example: I am not sure which couch would look best in our house. I am leaning towards the blue one. What do you think?

leg it

Meaning: an informal way of telling someone to run in order to evade capture.

Example: We were trespassing on their property. When the alarm went off we had to leg it or we would be caught. 

last long

Meaning: existing or persevering for a significant amount of time.

Example: The debate on whether man and woman were created equal has been long-lasting and significant. 

look forward

Meaning: to eagerly await something.

Example: I am looking forward to seeing my best friend next weekend. I have not seen him for six months. 

like a hole in the head

Meaning: to have absolutely no need for something.

Example: I need a new friend is like a hole in the head, I am good to be single. 

low hanging fruit

Meaning: a goal that can be easily reached.

Example: There are a lot of things that need to be completed for our project. I would suggest that we start with the low hanging fruit.

lose it

Meaning: go insane or crazy

Example: I thought he had lost it when he told me how much his new car had cost. 

lost on

Meaning: it means that someone did not understand the remark or joke

Example: She seems like a very smart lady, but my sense of humour seems to be lost on her. 

lost to

Meaning: to be defeated by someone.

Example: I cannot believe that we lost to their team on Saturday. We practised so hard. 

larger than life

Meaning: something or someone that is very impressive.

Example: His father is a great man. He is larger than life

learning curve

Meaning: the rate of learning new skills.

Example: Every employee undergoes a learning curve while getting to know the company. 

line in the sand

Meaning: a boundary beyond which one cannot proceed without consequences.

Example: His resolve to either get a paid internship or drop out of school was his line in the sand

laughter is the best medicine

Meaning: means that laughter can help cure negative feelings such as stress, anger, worry, depression, etc.

Example: After spending several hours in good company, Martha felt her depression lifting and realised that laughter is indeed the best medicine

like father like son

Meaning: the man/boy being talked about is very much like/exactly like his father .

Example: Joe’s doing really well on the football team this season. He has nearly matched Joe senior’s reputation for being a sharp shooter! I guess it’s a case of like father, like son

learn to walk before you run

Meaning: to take smaller steps initially.

Example: The plan will gradually get the company the revenue that they need to sustain in this market but you need to learn to walk before you run. 

look before you leap

Meaning: to make sure that everything is all right before doing something important which you cannot revert.

Example: You had better check out the costs that you would have to incur through the duration of this lawsuit before filling it. It is always better to look before you leap.

learn the ropes

Meaning: to learn the tricks in order to do something well.

Example: It is important that you learn the ropes and know your father’s business well before you take it over. 

lost in thought

Meaning thinking about of something. Concentrating on something in not be paying attention to the current be mentally absent from a particular situation.

Example The waiter was so lost in thought that he did not see us coming in or occupying the table at all. I have been lost in thought ever since I finished that book. It has inspired me very much. You cannot be lost in thought when you are at work. Please gain a better perspective.

love me, love my dog

Meaning: to accept someone unconditionally.

Example: My parents share a very straightforward relationship, it is like love me, love my dog. They accept each other exactly the way they are in person. 

loose cannon

Meaning: somebody whose activities are uncommon and out of control.

Example: He was a loose cannon and could not be risked in front of the press. 

like a chicken with its head cut off

Meaning: act in a frenzied manner.

Example: Does he know how to handle the situation? He has been running around all morning like a chicken with its head cut off

level playing field

Meaning: a situation that is fair to everyone.

Example: These set of rules would provide a level playing field to all the competitors and all would have a fair chance of succeeding. 

lend me your ears

Meaning: ask for someone’s full attention.

Example: Lend me your ears, and I will tell you about my adventures in the mountains. 

last but not least

Meaning: someone or something that is last in sequence, but not less in importance.

Example: After the success of his first book, the author thanked his publisher, editor, and, last but not the least, his family. 

lose head

Meaning: not have control over your emotions.

Example: He is usually very calm and does not lose his head in stressful situations. 

love child

Meaning: a child born out of wedlock.

Example: The new actress in that movie is rumored to be the love child of one of the most famous actors of the previous generation.

love to death

Meaning: love someone very much.

Example: He is prepared to do anything for her, go to any extent. He loves her to death

labour of love

Meaning: a task done for the pleasure of doing it, not for gains or rewards.

Example: Every morning, he dusted, cleaned and wound up the old grandfather clock that he had inherited as a family heirloom. It was truly a labour of love

leave at the altar

Meaning: decide not to marry someone at the very last moment.

Example: Judy was devastated when her fiance did not turn up for their wedding and left her at the altar

let your heart rule your head

Meaning: do something based on emotions rather than logic.

Example: I think it would be unwise for you to be in a relationship with him; he is a known womanizer. Don’t let your heart rule your head

love is blind

Meaning: if you love someone, you cannot see the faults in that person.

Example: I really don’t understand why Mia likes Chris so much. He’s very selfish and inconsiderate; and doesn’t even treat her well. Well, love really is blind

love rat

Meaning: someone, usually a man, who has a secret affair while being in a relationship.

Example: I heard Bill had an affair with his wife’s best friend! What a love rat he is! 

love of life

Meaning: the person who is loved most by someone in all their life.

Example: After having spent most of his life being single, he finally found the love of his life at the ripe old age of fifty. 

love nest

Meaning: a home or place where two people who love each other live.

Example:  Apparently, he had set up a love nest a few blocks away from the office where they met every day after work. 


Meaning: showing lot of love or affection.

Example: We had gone for lunch with our boss and his wife, but it was awkward with a couple getting lovey-dovey a couple of tables away from us. 

lie low

Meaning: To go out of sight, usually after having done something bad.

Example: Someone else in his position would lie low after having done what he did!

love at first sight

Meaning: strong and immediate attraction to someone you have just met

Example: For Sarah and Samuel, it was love at first sight, and they have now decided to get married. 

laughing stock

Meaning: Something ridiculous which can be laughed upon.

Example: After the event and how he behaved there, he was the laughing stock in school for days to come. 

long in the tooth

Meaning: To get too old for something.

Example: He is too long in the tooth to be working with 18 year old paired opposite him in movies. 

lose touch

Meaning: fail to keep in contact.

Example: Michelle was my best friend at the university. But over the years we’ve lost touch

let the chips fall where they may

Meaning: let something happen, no matter what happens after that

Example: Honesty demands that you tell the truth about what happened, and let the chips fall where they may. 

leave no stone unturned

Meaning: do everything that is possible in order to achieve something.

Example: The chief of security said that his team would leave no stone unturned in nabbing the miscreants. 

live at rack and manger

Meaning: in between plenty and abundance.

Example: He is been living at rack and manger since the time he joined his new job as a manager. 

let sleeping dogs lie

Meaning: its best to leave a situation as it is if disturbing it might cause trouble.

Example: As Eliza was in good spirits that morning, Andy decided not to bring up the argument they had last night. It was best to let sleeping dogs lie. 

lights are on but nobody is home

Meaning: used to describe a stupid person.

Example: I tried all to understand him, but the lights are on but nobody is home.

liquor up

Meaning: get someone drunk

Example: When their friends came for a visit, they took them to the bar and liquored them up.

like or as a duck to water

Meaning:To do something very quickly and enjoy doing it. Easily and naturally. To have a usual aptitude to do something.

Examples: 1. She’s taken to the home of her grandma like a duck to water.2. Miranda just took to motherhood like a duck to water.3. She started skating and she learned how quickly, like a duck takes to water.

lame duck

Meaning:– a person or thing that is disabled, helpless, ineffective, or inefficient. somebody, especially an elected official. Who cannot influence events any more. A person or company that is in trouble. Someone who is in the last period of a term in an elective office and cannot run for reelection. A person or thing that isn’t properly able to function, especially one that was previously proficient. Having lost a re-election bid

Examples:1. Knowing she would be a lame duck, the mayor decided to resign from office early and retire. 2. You can’t expect a lame duck President to get much accomplished. 3. The best way to avoid being lame duck in office is to not get elected for another term. 4. You can’t expect much from lame duck. 5. As lame duck, there’s not a lot I can do.

let the cat out of the bag

Meaning: to let a secret out in the open.

Example: The Mason’s let the cat out of the bag at the end minute. Until then nobody at the party knew about the performance by such a famous film star in a regular party. 

let bygones be bygones

Meaning: what’s done is done.

Example: The two international rivals shook hands and agreed to let bygones be bygones

bull in a china shop

Meaning: extremely awkward, clumsy person.

Example: The president has been attacking foreign ministers and even the people in his own party like a bull in a china shop. This has not only led to a lot of criticism but people have started alienating from him. 

living on borrowed time

Meaning: not expected to live much longer.

Example: The big hollywood star has got cancer and is living on borrowed time.

lead astray

Meaning: cause someone to make a mistake.

Example: The interrogators in the case were led astray by false information from one of the witnesses.

long arm of the law

Meaning: the extensive influence of the authorities.

Example: It is not easy for criminals to escape the long arm of the law in a developed country like United Kingdom.


make all the difference

Meaning: influence someone or something in a positive way.

Example: It will make all the difference when a mother phone calls their daughter before they head out for an interview. 

more than meets the eye

Meaning: not as simple as it looks.

Example: I had done some research, but there’s more to the subject than meets the eye

make light of

Meaning: to treat something as if it isn’t important.

Example: You need to stop making light of this situation. You could be in serious trouble. 

mull over

Meaning: to take a long time to make a decision.

Example: I will need to mull things over before I decide whether or not to start my own business. It is a big decision. 

mad at

Meaning: to be angry at a person or situation.

Example: I am so mad at Jane because she broke my favorite pair of earrings. I told her not to borrow my things. .

mind your own business

Meaning: to look into your own matter.

Example: I would like you to mind your own business and stop telling me what to do. 

miles away

Meaning: unaware of the current situation.

Example: Just by reading her facial expressions, I can easily tell you that she is miles away

make a mountain out of a molehill

Meaning: magnifying the content.

Example: You are just making a mountain out of a molehill, you just gave a wrong answer, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to qualify to the second round. .

music to ears

Meaning: something that is soothing to your ears.

Example: Our teacher told us that we will get a long summer break and this was just music to my ears

mind your own beeswax

Meaning: do not interfere into someone else’s matter.

Example: I am not asking for your opinion, mind your own beeswax.

mark my words

Meaning: used to let someone know to pay attention to what you are saying because it is very important especially when you are certain something would happen in future.

Example: Mark my words, she won’t regret taking me up on my offer. 

make ends meet

Meaning: make sufficient money to survive on.

Example: We will need to start saving money in order to make ends meet

make do

Meaning: to cope with something even though the circumstances are not ideal.

Example: I will make do without all of the research and send you a proposal by the end of the day.

Mr Right, Ms Right

Meaning: the best future life partner for someone.

Example: I wish that I could meet Mr Right. All of the men that I meet seem so immature. 

meet halfway

Meaning: to reach a compromise.

Example: I don’t enjoy camping and my husband hates the cold. So, we had to meet halfway and go to the beach for the weekend. 

miles to go before I sleep

Meaning: you have a lot to do before you can rest.

Example: We need to get all of these files completed before anyone leaves. There are miles to go before I sleep

mend fences

Meaning: to try and improve a bad relationship with another party.

Example: After the nasty fight with her sister, Alice decided to mend fences by buying her sister some presents. 

means to an end

Meaning: a necessary action carried out just to achieve a goal.

Example: Her working as a public defender was not due to her passion for the job but solely as a means to an end

memory like a sieve

Meaning: poor memory.

Example: I’m so sorry I forgot your birthday — I’ve got a memory like a sieve

money doesn’t grow on trees

Meaning: to have to put an effort in earning money.

Example: The kids need to understand that even though they have been born with a silver spoon in their mouths, that money doesn’t grow on trees.

many hands make light work

Meaning: to come together for a cause.

Example: The workers gathered when the company was facing financial trouble to raise capital and proved that many hands make light work

must have

Meaning: to be done in a compulsory manner.

Example: The must haves this season include a tunic and a head scarf. 

make sense

Meaning: to be able to reason something out.

Example: The presentation did not make sense at all. It was way off the topic. 

made it

Meaning: used to indicated the completion of a task.

Example: «It is so amazing that you made it because we heard that it was a very difficult task.» 

mum’s the word

Meaning: keep quiet and say nothing.

Example: We are throwing a party for our friend Jeremy, but its a surprise, so don’t tell him anything about it. Mum’s the word

match made in heaven

Meaning: a combination of two people that is perfect in every way.

Example: Jules and Nora are a match made in heaven. They love doing things together and cannot bear to be away from each other. 

marry in haste, repent at leisure

Meaning: if you marry someone without knowing the person well, you will later regret your decision to marry.

Example: Sally and Bob had hardly known each other for a few months before they decided to get married, and now they are having big problems. Marry in haste, repent at leisure

mumbo jumbo

Meaning: Something that does not make sense.

Example: I do not believe in this mumbo jumbo, human life should be valued far more than some ritual that one is not willing to forego. 

man’s best friend

Meaning: It refers to animals that are of use to human beings, mostly used to address dogs.

Example: When his dog died he cried for many days in the memory of his only best friend

make a long story short

Meaning: abbreviate a long explanation into a short one.

Example: cut a long story short.

miss the boat

Meaning: miss a chance.

Example: The discounted price sale ended today and I just missed the boat on making a great deal. 

method to madness

Meaning: a purpose in doing something that is seemingly crazy.

Example: You may be thinking that I have gone crazy, but there’s a method to my madness

make a virtue of necessity

Meaning: extract something beneficial from an unwelcome obligation.

Example: It’s was a long journey from Delhi to Australia so I thought I would make a virtue of necessity and write some articles that had to be submitted to the magazines. 

monkey business

Meaning: silly act.

Example: I want to sleep. Stop disturbing me by your monkey business

make common cause with

Meaning: work together in order to achieve something that both groups want.

Example: Environment protesters have made common cause with local people to stop the setting up of the factories and iron industries on fertile land.

make a clean breast

Meaning: confess completely.

Example: While wedged stealing in Super Market, Robert Daniel decided to make a clean breast of it to the owner of the store.

make it big

Meaning: become very successful or famous.

Example: I always knew that someday my life would flip and I would make it big.

mean business

Meaning: to be focused about achieving a goal.

Example: She meant business when she said that she will take the number one position in the tennis world. 

make no bones about

Meaning: to talk openly about something, instead of being silent.

Example: She makes no bones about his feelings towards the protestors.

make the best of

Meaning: to look for a positive side of a seemingly negative situation.

Example: The sun was shining so he made the best of his day and went to the beach with his family.

make a beeline for

Meaning: go quickly and directly to somebody or something.

Example: As soon as the employees heard about the news of scrapping of the bonus policy, they made a beeline for the boss’s office.

make an ass

Meaning: to make a fool of someone.

Example: The comedian has to make an ass of himself every time he gets on stage. He is truly the modern day joker.


no picnic

Meaning: used to express that an activity or action is not fun.

Example: I love having little kids around but cleaning up after them is no picnic

no pain, no gain

Meaning: it is necessary to work hard or strive to reap rewards

Example: If you want to win the title next month, you have to train for an extra hour every day next week. No pain, no gain

nail in the coffin

Meaning: an action/event that will help bring about the death, end, or failure of something or someone.

Example: She was late for the fourth day in a row. It will be another nail in her coffin when the boss hears about it. 

not believe eyes

Meaning: shock or surprise at something you see or hear.

Example: My fiancé is with someone else — I can’t believe my eyes

not at all

Meaning: a polite response when someone says «thank you» — as a synonym for «you’re welcome».

Example: Thank you so much for helping with my move. Not at all

next of kin

Meaning: close relative.

Example: We cannot release the names of the soldiers killed at the battle of Normandy until we’ve informed their next of kin

neck and neck

Meaning: extremely near one another.

Example: The two athletes have been neck and neck for this entire race. 

never mind

Meaning: to urge somebody not to worry about something.

Example: Never mind, I will do it myself. 

none of your business

Meaning: used to tell someone not to get involved in whatever you have going on.

Example: My mother in law was not pleased when we politely told her that the honeymoon plan was none of her business

necessary evil

Meaning: something unpleasant that must be done in order to achieve a goal or objective.

Example: Getting a good education is seen by some as a necessary evil to get a chance at a better life.

no man is an island

Meaning: no one is self-sufficient; everyone relies on others somehow.

Example: Having children has taught me that no man is an island

not the sharpest tool in the shed

Meaning: someone who is not very clever, according to others.

Example: Joe doesn’t seem to understand that we’re working to a different schedule now, since the workload has doubled.  He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed

no news is good news

Meaning: to assume that since there is no news, it will not be bad news.

Example: The exam results are not yet out and I feel no news is good news

never look a gift horse in the mouth

Meaning: it is an advice to be grateful for gifts

Example: My sister got furious when I tried to see how valuable the diamond on the ring she gifted me was and told me to never look a gift horse in the mouth.

none of your lip

Meaning: to ask someone to stop speaking.

Example: You have broken the window panes while the mother is not home now. I want none of your lip, and you will help me clean this out before she is back. 

no room to swing a cat

Meaning: a very small place.

Example: How do you expect all four of us to stay in that room? There’s no room to swing a cat in there.

no dice

Meaning: not agree for something.

Example: The children asked whether they could all go out for a camping trip, but no dice, their parents refused. 

New York minute

Meaning: in a very short amount of time

Example: I’ll get that job done in a New York minute if you give it to me. 

nest egg

Meaning: an amount of money that has been saved, especially for future use

Example: The stock market has given me good returns and helped me build a nest egg for my retirement. 

no love lost

Meaning: there is a mutual dislike between two people.

Example: Bob and Jill cannot get along together. There is no love lost between them.

night owl

Meaning: Someone who is vigilant late at night.

Example: In order to earn their bread so many people now have to turn into night owls. The customer service industry thrives on 24*7 availability of people. 

not hurt a fly or flea

Meaning: To not be able to cause harm to anyone, including even a tiny and insignificant insect.

Example: He is such an innocent little child, he could not hurt a fly. 

name is mud

Meaning: It means that the person is extremely unpopular.

Example: If you keep hanging out with the local goons then soon your name will be mud too. 

not playing with a full deck

Meaning: not mentally sound.

Example: With the number of silly remarks he comes up with, I wonder if he’s not playing with a full deck

never in wildest dreams

Meaning: a situation beyond the scope of one’s imagination.

Example: Never in my wildest dreams did I think she’d abandon her father. 

never say die

Meaning: stay optimistic, positive attitude.

Example: There are still a dozen of job vacancies that she hasn’t tried. Never say die.

not give a damn

Meaning: to not care.

Example: Their son does not give a damn about their health. His ill habits are costing the entire family now. 

not all it’s cracked up to be

Meaning: not as good as people say it is.

Example: The highly ranked institutes in Liverpool isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

not have a clue

Meaning: have no idea or inkling about something.

Example: I haven’t a clue why she left the job, suddenly.

new blood

Meaning: young and active people.

Example: The company management feels that the new blood should be used to find process improvement ideas because they can provide a third person perspective to our processes.

new kid on the block

Meaning: a new arrival in a place, group or organization.

Example: As I am the new kid on the block I know that I will have to work hard to prove myself.


on board

Meaning: be physically on a plane, ship, vehicle, train, or rocket.

Example: Let’s get Phoebe on board for the Madison project. After all, it is her area of expertise. 

out of hand

Meaning: out of control.

Example: When the police arrived, they realised the party was getting out of hand

on the ball

Meaning: alert to new trends, ideas, and methods.

Example: The mother is glad to know that her son is always on the ball to learn new things in class. 

on/to hand

Meaning: present, nearby, close, or easily accessible.

Example: My parents are always on hand if we need a babysitter. 

outside the lines

Meaning: not sticking to the rules.

Example: I never thought they would be allowed to do their duties outside the lines

old school

Meaning: old fashioned ideas or approach compared to current trends.

Example: Dress smart when you come round for dinner, my father is a bit old school

on a tear

Meaning: very active or suddenly active.

Example: Peter called to say he was getting an earlier train so, I been on a tear to get to the station in time. 

on edge

Meaning: to feel tense or unable to relax.

Example: I am sorry for snapping at you. I have been a bit on edge since I found out that they are selling our company. 

on the horizon

Meaning: an event that is most likely going to happen soon.

Example: I have seen the way your boss praises your work. I am sure that a promotion is on the horizon

on the tip of my tongue

Meaning: something like a name or word that you know it but cannot remember at a particular moment.

Example: It won’t take me much time to remember, her name is on the tip of my tongue.

out of business

Meaning: out of operational conditions.

Example: If we keep on selling our goods at the same price, we will soon go out of business

out of the frying pan into the fire

Meaning: to go from a bad to worse situation.

Example: In a bid to gain independence, she agreed to get married early, not knowing she was jumping out of the frying pan into the fire

on a roll

Meaning: making a lot of progress.

Example: Our team has won eleven out of our twelve matches this season. We are on a roll

once bitten, twice shy

Meaning: a bad experience cause to believe caution.

Example: I will never work with Peter again. He expects everyone to do the work on his behalf, once bitten twice shy. 

on your mark

Meaning: absolutely accurate.

Example: Runners, please get ready. On your mark, get set, go! 

other half

Meaning: husband, wife, or partner of someone.

Example: Next time I come to this restaurant I will bring my other half

road to recovery

Meaning: the procedure of becoming healthy again.

Example: The Grecian Government was supposed to put Europe on the road to recovery from the Economic and financial crisis. 

over and above

Meaning: in addition to.

Example: Firefighters always go over and above to ensure that people are safe. 

over and over again

Meaning: again and again.

Example: I have cleaned up this mess over and over again but ever time I come back it is dirty again.

over and out

Meaning: said when someone is finished talking.

Example: I have told you that you will not be going to the party. There will be no further discussion. Over and out.

on the mend

Meaning: to improve in health after an illness.

Example: After a long illness he is finally on the mend

of course

Meaning: with absolute certainty.

Example: Of course, I will help you to move. That’s what friends are for. 

on a silver platter

Meaning: to get something without having to work for it.

Example: She has never had to work a day in her life. Her parents hand her everything on a silver platter. 

on the other hand

Meaning: from a different point of view.

Example: It seems like a great building, on the other hand, you are displacing a lot of animals by building it. 

out of sight, out of mind

Meaning: to not stay an active issue when something is not immediately visible.

Example: The company’s top managers do not consider these government policy changes and important for their strategic planning. It is out of sight, out of mind for them but that is not a good thing in any way. 


outbreak Meaning the beginning of something suddenly the start of something. unpleasant, usually a disease Example Sentences The influenza outbreak had begun that year.

old habits die hard

Meaning: difficult to discontinue of an aged habit.

Example: The colonel still sleeps with a loaded pistol by his side, even though he has retired from the army ten years backs. As they say, old habits die hard

out of mind

out of mind Meaning to not be thinking clearly to suggest absurd ideas and suggestions it is used to call someone crazy refers to someone who is not is not sick.

out on the town

Meaning: go out and enjoy yourself at one or more places in the town.

Example: All of us slept till late afternoon after we had a night out on the town and returned after dawn. 

on the same page

Meaning: everyone in agreement.

Example: Before we begin with the discussion, I want to make sure that all of us are on the same page.

on pins and needles

Meaning: being anxious or nervous.

Example: We have been on pins and needles since we got the news that she had been stranded in the hills amidst a landslide.

off the record

Meaning: an informal or unofficial statement.

Example: I will give you the information regarding what really happened, but strictly off the record

off the hook

Meaning: free of a difficult situation.

Example: Since it was his first offence, and a minor one at that, he was let off the hook with just a warning. 

off on the wrong foot

Meaning: off to a bad start.

Example: Their relationship started off on the wrong foot when they had a huge misunderstanding. 

one cannot love and be wise

Meaning: people often do foolish things when they are in love.

Example: I don’t think it is wise of Elsie and Ray to decide to get married so soon into their relationship. But then, one cannot love and be wise.

one stop shop

Meaning: a store that fulfills various requirements which is preferable by customers.

Example: That corner store is a one stop shop for anyone looking for video games.

on the rocks

Meaning: likely to fail because of serious problems.

Example: Their marriage was on the rocks as they couldn’t get along with each other anymore and were having huge arguments very frequently. 

old hat

Meaning: Someone who is old fashioned. The phrase can directly refer to old fashion too.

Example: Ask that old hat to keep out of my business. She has a lot to correct in her own life first. 

over the top

Meaning: excessive, exaggerated.

Example: The politician was over the top with his speech. Everything he said was exaggerated. 

over the moon

Meaning: extremely pleased or happy.

Example: Judy was over the moon when Tim proposed to her.

on one’s uppers

Meaning: extremely short of money.

Example: All the artists in their initial phase of career were on their uppers. They have struggled enough to reach this level of success. 

on the dot

Meaning: exactly on time.

Example: We were asked to be there at five on the dot

on demand

Meaning: when needed.

Example: These days babies are normally fed on demand

on the drawing board

on the drawing board

Meaning: – in the planning, initial or design stage

Examples: 1. The education canter is still on the drawing board.

on doorstep

Meaning: very near to where somebody lives.

Example: The best thing about having a house in this society is that all the popular eating joints are right at our doorstep

over my dead body

Meaning: in no way, under no circumstances.

Example: You will go on a date with my sister over my dead body

out of one’s depth

Meaning: a situation beyond one’s knowledge or ability.

Example: After watching this film, the audience realized that making comedy movies was out of the depth of this director. 

off the cuff

Meaning: in an unguarded way.

Example: She has a habit of making off-the-cuff remarks which she later denies. 

on cue

Meaning: to happen at the precise moment.

Example: The race started right on cue. It was indeed enthralling to watch. 

on the crest of a wave

Meaning: to reach the highest point of success.

Example: The music band comprising engineering students is currently on the crest of a wave, with a launch of new album it has planned for next year.

out of the closet

Meaning: go public about something private or hidden.

Example: He was in his late teens when he came out of the closet

on the case

Meaning: to do what is the best course of action in the given situation.

Example: The best detective from the police department is on the case and we will be hearing about the culprit being nabbed very soon now.

on the cards

on the cards

Meaning: likely to happen.

Example: Some big changes in the British Space Agency structure are on the cards for next year.

on the back burner

Meaning: to put something (that is to be done) for later.

Example: The assignment is on the back burner while I concentrate on writing this play. 

once in a blue moon

Meaning: very rarely.

Example: The earthquakes hits once in a blue moon in this part of the earth, we never felt it. 

on the brink of

Meaning: to be on the verge of doing something.

Example: The dam was on the brink of pouring over when the officials decided to open the gates and let the water out. 

out of the blue

Meaning: out of nowhere or unexpectedly.

Example: Out of the blue, a deer came in front of my car. 

own accord

Meaning: by one’s own choice.

Example: The managing director of the company didn’t have to be asked to resign — he went of his own accord

out of action

Meaning: something is not working or cannot be used.

Example: I’m afraid I cannot tell you the account balance as the system is out of action.



put cards on the table

Meaning: be open and honest

Example: When John met up with Jane on their first date, John laid his cards on the table for Jane to know what he wanted. 

play cat and mouse

Meaning: to play with or tease someone

Example: The cops do not like playing cat and mouse games with the culprits before catching them. 

pass the buck

Meaning: passing blame to another person

Example: That particular supervisor tends to pass the buck of all light duties to newly hired interns. 

put your foot in it

Meaning: say something (by mistake) that upsets, humiliates, or embarrasses someone

Example: Carla put her foot right in it when she congratulated her neighbour on being pregnant. It turns out she’s not expecting but had just put on weight. 

part and parcel

Meaning: something that is a basic or essential element of the whole

Example: Darkness is part and parcel of the night.

pour oil on troubled waters

Meaning: try to calm, soothe or placate a problematic situation

Example: She’s such a calm person; last week, the whole office was in uproar until she stepped in and poured oil on troubled waters

pay lip service

Meaning: to agree by word of mouth only

Example: He paid lip service to the cause, but he hasn’t lent a hand yet. 

prevention is better than cure

Meaning: easier to stop problems than correct them later

Example: It is good to keep vaccinations up to date as prevention is better than cure.

pipe dream

Meaning: an impossibility

Example: His plans of becoming an astronaut are a pipe dream, he should be more realistic. 

pat on the back

Meaning: to receive or express praise for a job well done

Example: He received a pat on the back from his boss from the new project that he landed.

pep talk

Meaning: a motivational speech

Example: Last night, I met Sara for a pep talk because I had my interview the very next day. 

put the brakes on

Meaning: to stop or slow down an activity

Example: The economic situation is not looking good because of Brexit and this making the Prime Minister put the brakes on international investments.

pie in the sky

Meaning: used to portray or refer to something that is lovely to consider however is probably not going to happen

Example: Her dream of wanting to move to London to become a famous singer is a pie in the sky if you ask me.

piece of writing

Meaning: the work of a writer, anything expressed in letters of the alphabet (especially when considered from the point of view of style and effect)

Example: The editorial was a fine piece of writing

piece of work

Meaning: a complex, tricky, or odd person

Example: My friend has the weirdest of opinions, he’s a real piece of work

prone to

Meaning: having a tendency to something — usually awful or unfortunate

Example: Kindly drive slow; this road is prone to accidents.

pot calling the kettle black

Meaning: criticizing someone for a fault that you have too

Example: I can’t believe that you are upset because I was late. That is the pot calling the kettle black. 

point out

Meaning: to identify something within a group

Example: I have to go to the office to point out the person that keeps jamming the printer. 

pardon me

Meaning: it is a way of apologising for something that has been said or done

Example: Pardon me for offending you. I didn’t realise that you were sensitive to the subject. 

playing second fiddle

Meaning: to play a secondary or minor role with regards to someone else

Example: Sheila was determined to be the star of the show and she was not going to play second fiddle to anyone.

paint the town red

Meaning: to celebrate and have a wild time

Example: I can’t wait to go out with my best friend and paint the town red

point blank

Meaning: to fire something at such close range that it cannot be missed

Example: I asked the boy whether he thought that I was pretty, he said «no» point blank, without even trying to spare my feelings. 

pain in the neck

Meaning: pain in the ass

Example: Mathematics is generally a real pain in the neck for most of the school and college students. 

pass away

Meaning: die

Example: Martha let us know that our grandfather passed away two nights ago. 


Meaning: a thrilling book

Example: The book is a page-turner and now I cannot take a break until I complete reading it. 

pay the piper

Meaning: to bear the ill-effects of something that was enjoyable at one time

Example: The man controlled every aspect of his wife’s life until he was asked to pay the piper. 

pass the torch

Meaning: to pass on the responsibility

Example: The director of the company passed the torch after he got too sick to take care of the company matters.

pull your socks up

pull your socks up Meaning | Definition to be determined to work very hard to resolve to achieve a target that is usually difficult to achieve to ensure … 

prick up ears

Meaning: to start paying attention

Example: The teacher asked her student to prick up his ears when he kept on disturbing the class with silly jokes. 

pipe down

Meaning: to take to one or more notches down to its current standard

Example: The exercise was piped down for the audiences because the original would have been too difficult for the crowd to follow

pull the plug

Meaning: to kill or discontinue

Example: The doctors decided to pull the plug on Uncle Bill when he stopped responding to all the treatment courses that they took. 

practice makes perfect

Meaning: to keep repeating something over and over so that one can get good at that activity

Example: The most important thing about getting better at playing a sport is to keep playing it. There is nothing like enough practice and eventually it is the practice that will make you perfect. 

put a sock in it

Meaning: to ask someone to stop talking

Example: The teacher had asked the student to be quiet several times but he was still talking. She got angry and asked him to put a sock in it.

prick ears up

Meaning: listen carefully

Example: She pricked up her ears when she heard her name being mentioned by the group chatting animatedly at the corner. 

pig in a poke

Meaning: something that is bought without examining properly

Example: If you buy a used car without examining it thoroughly first, you might end up buying a pig in a poke

pedal to the metal

Meaning: do something at full speed

Example: I need to submit this assignment in two days’ time. I have to put pedal to the metal else I will miss the deadline.

pop the question

Meaning: propose marriage to someone

Example: I heard you had a special date with Tom yesterday; so did he pop the question, then? 

puppy love

Meaning: a mild infatuation, or a crush

Example: Most teenagers are quick to fall in love and expect it to last a lifetime, but of course it is puppy love and they soon fall out of it. 

pin money

Meaning: A small amount.

Example: The maid service in this area are no longer available at pin money. You have to shell out big bucks in order to get household help. 

paddle own canoe

Meaning: To be able to act without having to depend on anyone.

Example: He feels he can paddle his own canoe now so wants to move out of his parent’s house.

pitch in

Meaning: join in and help with something

Example: On Jane’s birthday her friends decided to pitch in and have a surprise party for her. 

pull leg

Meaning: tease someone

Example: Don’t worry about what he said. He’s just pulling your leg. 

when pigs fly

Meaning: pigs might fly

Example: Her crazy mother said that being so lazy, Megan is going to be rich one day for sure and without any hard working job. Come on, when pigs fly! 

pull yourself together

Meaning: to calm down and behave normally after an upsetting event

Example: I know its difficult to get over your loss, but try to pull yourself together and get on with life. 

pull a rabbit out of the hat

Meaning: do something unexpected or surprising

Example: The team was losing till almost the end, but suddenly, it pulled a rabbit out of its hat and won the contest in the dying minutes. 

part brass rags

Meaning: quarrel and break off friendship with someone

Example: Both of them parted off rags with each other after a misunderstanding between them due to the other person. 

a picture is worth a thousand words

Meaning: a picture conveys information more effectively than words

Example: A good presentation should contain more of graphics and less of text, since a picture is worth a thousand words.

pull the wool over eyes

Meaning: to deceive someone

Example: I’m not as dumb as you think; don’t try to pull the wool over my eyes

penny for your thoughts

Meaning: a way of asking what someone else is thinking

Example: «You have been quiet for a while, a penny for your thoughts.» 

play by ear

Meaning: learn music by ear

Example: My sister learned to play the piano by ear when she was a child.

play it by ear

Meaning: improvise

Example: Rather than adopting a new academic strategy, the principal decided to play it by ear

play duck and drakes

Meaning: – to carelessly misuse one’s wealth – to behave recklessly – use selfishly to suit oneself – waste duck and drakes is also … 

put damper on

Meaning: to discourage someone from doing something that they want to

Example: The rain today put a damper on the picnic plans. 

pour cold water on

Meaning: deter or discourage somebody

Example: It is not nice to pour cold water on someone’s plan when you do not want to be a part of it in the first place. 

put the clock back

Meaning: change to a lower level or earlier time. Example: The Common Rules in the company has put the clock back ten years.

put the cart before the horse

Meaning: to do things in the wrong order or sequence

Example: Aren’t you putting the cart before the horse in decorating your new office? You haven’t even been awarded the job yet. 

press, push the panic button

Meaning: do something quickly without thinking about it in order to deal with a bad, difficult or worrying situation.

Example: They have … 

pass on the baton

Meaning: give responsibility for something important to another person.

Example: The governor of the State Bank of India resigns this month, passing on the … 

push the boat out

Meaning: celebrate; enjoy oneself.

Example: After the completion of the exams, the students decided to push the boat out and have a party.

give airs

Meaning: to be pretentious/showy

Example: Susan is a very smart girl but the fact that she gives herself airs about her job makes me like her a little less.


quality time

Meaning: well spent time

Example: It had been so long since we went on a vacation but this last month we decided to spend quality time with the family regardless.

Queensberry rules

Meaning: standard rules of polite or acceptable behavior

Example: It was ensured by the police that both the parties adhered to the Queensberry rules during their hearing session in the high court. 

qui vive

Meaning: on the alert or lookout.

Example: Their duty requires most of the soldiers to be on the qui vive at the Siachen of Kashmir India battlefield. 

quantum leap

Meaning: to make a significant improvement or dramatic advancement

Example: The store has taken a quantum leap from where it was and seems to be headed strongly in the right direction.

quote, unquote

Meaning: to use a phrase which has been coined by someone else but saying it in disbelief

Example: She wants to practice law because it is a quote – respected – unquote — field.

queer pitch

Meaning: spoil somebody’s chance of doing something.

Example: He queered my pitch by asking for promotion before I did.


run across

Meaning: meet someone by accident

Example: While cleaning my house, I ran across a book I’d lost. 

rip off

Meaning: the act of stealing

Example: I can’t believe I paid that much money for that outfit. It was a rip off.

recharge one’s batteries

Meaning: take a break or holiday to relax and regain one’s vim and vigour

Example: After all of this hard work, set some time aside to recharge your batteries

red tape

Meaning: over excessive or time-consuming rules and bureaucracy that hinder progress

Example: She could have finished the project last week, but it was impossible to cut through all the red tape.

rocket science

Meaning: something very difficult to understand

Example: I’ve no idea why Kelly can’t make a spreadsheet, and it’s not exactly rocket science is it? 


Meaning: doing or about to do something illegal or wrong

Example: They caught him red-handed with his fingerprints all over the murder weapon. 

rest assured

Meaning: emphasizing that there is no need to worry

Example: You can rest assured that the transaction will be completed by the close of business today. 

rest in peace (RIP)

Meaning: respect, sympathy and well wishes for a deceased person

Example: He was a kind, caring and well-loved family man. May he rest in peace

raise the bar

Meaning: to be better than what went before

Example: Our family is so competitive. Now that my cousin has gone to university, everyone will expect me and my brother to raise the bar too. 

rabbit hole

Meaning: mentally go somewhere surreal or strange

Example: Peter is having another one of his parties on Friday. Time to go down the rabbit hole again.

square peg in a round hole

Meaning: a person who doesn’t fit into societies norm

Example: How he got the job I will never know. He’s like a square peg in a round hole

ride high

Meaning: when someone is very successful

Example: Our team won four college tournaments in a row this year! Why wouldn’t the team be riding high!

rake over the coals

Meaning: to give someone a hard time for a mistake they supposedly did

Example: drag over the coals

right away

Meaning: to do something immediately

Example: I promise to complete my homework right away

rule out

Meaning: to exclude out something

Example: Rule out each and every word from the application which you don’t want the principal to read. 

red herring

Meaning: something irrelevant that distracts you from something important

Example: The new law is just a red herring meant to draw our attention away from the issues regarding education.

roll the dice

Meaning: to gamble or take a chance on something or someone

Example: The bartender decided to roll the dice and use rum for the cocktail since they were out of gin. 

run out

Meaning: to not have enough of something

Example: I cannot believe that we have run out of milk! Just when I wanted to make a cup of tea. 

running around like a headless chicken

Meaning: to carry on in a disorganised manner

Example: After failing to take her equipment to the lab, Lizzie ran around like a headless chicken while trying to conduct her experiment. 

rub the wrong way

Meaning: to tick someone off

Example: The guy has rubbed me in such a wrong way that I do not even want to look at him ever again.

run for cover

Meaning: to seek shelter

Example: We ran for cover as soon as the storm broke. 

run a tight ship

Meaning: to be strict about something

Example: Martha runs a tight ship at home. With 4 kids to take care of at home, she cannot have it any other way. 

rain check

Meaning: to give an assurance of not doing something right now but later

Example: The couple took a rain check today from the school duties because it is their anniversary and they wanted to spend the day together. 

ring fencing

Meaning: to create a separate legal entity through the way of off-shore accounting in order to protect some assets in a corporation

Example: It was the ring fencing that protected this company from an almost certain doom. 

rise and shine

Meaning: to ask someone to wake up and become active in the daily chores

Example: The sun is up, rise and shine

rome was not built in one day

Meaning: admirable results always take time

Example: The Oswal’s have really worked hard in building their empire. Rome was after all not built in one day

run out of steam

Meaning: to lose the effect that something once had

Example: The project ran out of steam quite early on and then for it to take of was obviously quite difficult. 

riding shotgun

Meaning: to provide active aid to someone

Example: This politician is a sitting shotgun for his brother’s company. It is sad to see that he is using his political influence for his own purposes. 

roaring trade

Meaning: to do business quickly

Example: The vegetable vendor was doing a roaring trade in the market today. 

rat race

Meaning: to be following a routine that is both, exhaustive as well as competitive

Example: The man has been in a rat race all his life. No wonder he is enjoying his retired life to the fullest.

race against time

Meaning: effort to do something as soon as possible

Example: The completion of this project was honestly a race against time. The client needed to have filed the documents in the court by today at any cost. 

rags to riches

Meaning: go from being very poor to being very wealthy

Example: He went from rags to riches after his roadside performances were noticed by a famous movie maker and he was offered roles in his movies.

red letter day

Meaning: a day of significance

Example: The day that I started my journey towards my real career was a red-letter day for me. 

ring a bell

Meaning: something that sounds familiar

Example: That name rings a bell but I cannot recall where I have heard it before. 

rule of thumb

Meaning: a principle that is kept to

Example: As a rule of thumb, I do not start a new project on Fridays. 

running on fumes

Meaning: to continue doing something even when you have no energy left

Example: After two nights of continuous work, I’m running on fumes today.

read the riot act

Meaning: warning someone by scolding them to improve their behavior

Example: She’d been bearing bad behavior from her employee and thought it was time to read him the riot act. 

ray of sunshine

Meaning: someone or something that brings hope into the lives of others

Example: Amid the sorrow her son had been a real ray of sunshine

rack your brains

Meaning: put great effort to think of or remember something

Example: I have been racking my brain all day trying to think of place where I kept my car keys. 

rough diamond

Meaning: a person of exceptional character

Example: Bob is intelligent and trustworthy but lacks sophistication. He is a rough diamond.

round the clock

Meaning: continuously or interrupted

Example: The counselor has been working round the clock with patients. His dedication has been acknowledged by the hospital through this award. 

rock the boat

Meaning: do or say something causes problem.

Example: The government asked the Prime Minister not to take firm action on protesters as it certainly doesn’t want anything rock the boat

raining cats and dogs

Meaning: too much heavy rain

Example: It’s raining cats and dogs I am worried about how my kids will reach home. 

run amok (amuck)

Meaning: act in a wild or dangerous manner

Example: When the police arrived, they were confronted with a group of protesters running amuck in the lanes of the old town.


second wind

Meaning: another burst of energy when you had been too tired to finish

Example: Come on, let’s have that shovel again. I’m getting a second wind now.

sweep under the rug

Meaning: try to hide a problem or keep a problem secret instead of dealing with it

Example: My father has helped me deal with things instead of sweeping them under the rug

sponger, sponging, sponge off

Meaning: someone who scrounges from others

Example: Josh has turned up at my house three times this week just as I’m cooking dinner. What a sponger! 

storm in a teacup

Meaning: an excessive enthusiasm or rage about a minor matter

Example: I find the whole issue about these gender roles a storm in a teacup.

so far so good

Meaning: progress has been satisfactory up to now

Example: Thanks for asking; so far, so good

skeleton in the closet

Meaning: a secret of an embarrassing, guilty or shameful nature that you don’t want to disclose

Example: I have come to know that Eric has a skeleton in his cupboard.

spill the beans

Meaning: disclose a secret or reveal something prematurely

Example: Lauren finally spilled the beans. She has been promoted to manager, and it’s going to upset some people in the office. 

straight shooter

Meaning: someone who speaks the truth

Example: I really like Ken. He’s a straight shooter, that’s for sure. 

set the bar

Meaning: fix the standards acceptable for the task

Example: Don’t set the bar so high that it’s impossible to achieve anything. 


Meaning: a method of censoring or controlling content on the internet

Example: Twitter has shadow-banned me, and no one will see my tweets now.

stand your ground

Meaning: not retreat

Example: We stood our ground on the footpath, and then eventually, all the cows moved away. 

spick and span

Meaning: neat and clean

Example: The house was spick and span when the guests arrived. Jane must have been cleaning for hours. 

bite head off

Meaning: overreact in an angry or harsh way

Example: His mother nearly bit his head off when he got his new shoes dirty. 

sticky fingers

Meaning: keep objects that don’t belong to you

Example: Money had started disappearing from the treasury coffers so, they realised that someone had sticky fingers

square peg in a round hole

Meaning: a person who doesn’t fit into societies norm

Example: How he got the job I will never know. He’s like a square peg in a round hole

silver lining

Meaning: sadness or unpleasant things can have a positive side effect

Example: If it’s the tough time in your life, it comes with many silver linings.

stand in a good stead

Meaning: to be of advantage to someone

Example: His years of experience in the spoken English field has stood him in good stead

smack dab

Meaning: exactly

Example: We got our water balloons fully filled and threw smack dab at their heads. It was fun, I tell you! 

screw up

Meaning: slang depicting that a mistake was made

Example: I really screwed up this time. My wife will never forgive me for forgetting her birthday. 

seventh heaven

Meaning: being glad

Example: Nicole Kidman was in seventh heaven when she received the award for the best actress.

spend a fortune

Meaning: spend a small fortune

Example: Do not spend a fortune on the gifts to make others happy. 

six of one, half a dozen of the other

Meaning: comparison between the two things which are identical

Example: If I go north or south, I will turn up at the same location. It is six of one, half dozen of the other

set off

Meaning: to start a journey

Example: We would like to set off for Paris by 10 o’clock tomorrow morning. 

so to speak

Meaning: as it where

Example: I will tell you what is going on but only because you are already family, so to speak

stands to reason

Meaning: to reach a logical conclusion

Example: The company stands to reason that the project will take at least another six months to conclude given that none of the managers have a better grip on the work. 

sleep tight

Meaning: an affectionate way of wishing someone a good night’s sleep

Example: I am going to bed now. Good night, sleep tight

sense of humour

Meaning: the ability to enjoy funniness

Example: I appreciate the fact that you have a sense of humour, but we need to be serious now. 

snow under

Meaning: to bury or cover something or somebody in the snow (Literal meaning)

Example: I feel snowed under with all the work my boss keeps throwing my way. 

speak soon

Meaning: talk to you soon

Example: Thank you so much for your assistance Sandra, speak soon

stand out

Meaning: extend beyond or above a surface

Example: The blood vessels in the back of his right leg stood out

slip of the tongue

Meaning: a mistake in speech (or writing)

Example: The election bill was altered, by what I believe was a slip of the pen

snow job

Meaning: an elaborate cover up of something

Example: The new CEO promises that the company performed very well this year. He has yet to release the financial statements, I am afraid that it’s a snow job

shifting sands

Meaning: Refers to something that is constantly changing, often making a person feel uncertain

Example: My husband has had trouble maintaining a job in the shifting sands of the economy. 

so and so

Meaning: Used in the place of someone’s name, indicating that the person is of little importance

Example: I love how June is always telling us how she met so-and-so on her travels. Everyone knows that she is making it up. 

so so

Meaning: average — neither bad and nor good

Example: The new restaurant in town is so-so. It is not the worst food that I have ever eaten, but I would not go back.

see the light

Meaning: realise or understand something

Example: After my terrible grade in mathematics I saw the light and started working harder. 

spanner in the works

Meaning: a roadblock that prevents an activity from succeeding

Example: The lack of power has thrown a spanner in the works regarding our MS-PowerPoint presentation. 

sea change

Meaning: to have a big change in perspective

Example: There was a sea change in his personality after he married his wife. 

sitting duck

Meaning: to be an easy target

Example: The fact that she had no backup plan in case she got caught made her a sitting duck

skating on thin ice

Meaning: to do something considered quite dangerous or risky

Example: Sebastian using all his savings to buy blue chip stocks is definitely skating on thin ice.

silence is golden

Meaning: it is often better to say nothing at all

Example: Do not tell your mom that I broke her vase! Remember, silence is golden

say what

Meaning: used when asking someone to repeat what they have said

Example: They are going out tonight, even though we told them to stay at home. «Say what!» 

slow day

Meaning: a day in which not much happens, so it feels like it is taking very long to pass

Example: The shop did not make a lot of money today, we had a slow day

speak up

Meaning: raise your voice

Example: Can you speak up because those at the back can barely hear you? 

stay up

Meaning: not go to sleep

Example: Mom made sure we stayed up to welcome our dad home after months of him being on military tour. 

speak too soon

Meaning: to say something with the belief that it will be right and then it is later found out to be untrue

Example: I was certain Nina would fail at her task and said so boldly. When she successfully completed her task, I knew I had spoken too soon

shades of grey

Meaning: refers to a situation where things are not really clear

Example: Tina’s story to the police on how she got mugged was different shades of grey as it was not consistent. 

shed light

Meaning: to explain something in order to make it easier to understand

Example: Due to the complicated equations, we thought it is best to hire a private tutor to shed more light on the topics.

stiff upper lip

Meaning: to be brave in the face of adversity

Example: Throughout the funeral of her parents, Mary kept a stiff upper lip


Meaning: to be very horrific

Example: The movie has the most spine-tingling end that you would never be able to guess.

still waters run deep

Meaning: to have passion or furore underneath a calm expression

Example: Though he rarely speaks in class, still waters run deep

strike while the iron is hot

Meaning: to take advantage of a situation

Example: The study plans were such that it required you to read when your mind was fresh, strike while the iron is hot

status quo

Meaning: the existing condition

Example: The countries are now trying to maintain a status quo with regards to their nuclear arsenal which will help them if the situation gets any worse. 

stack the deck

Meaning: to be against someone or something

Example: The manager had stacked the deck against me but I was able to prove through the system that the error could be apportioned to me. 

strive to do

Meaning: to try very hard to achieve

Example: This is perhaps the only politician that I have come across who strives to do what he promised. 

suited and booted

Meaning: formally dressed; well dressed

Example: The party was all suited and booted to go out tonight but then the weather caught on and everything had to be cancelled. 


Meaning: scotch free

Example: The person went scot-free even though there were many people convinced of his crime because the evidence against him was circumstantial. 

saved by the bell

Meaning: to be saved from losing because there is a signal of the event coming to an end

Example: The accused was saved by the bell otherwise the judge would have pronounced the sentence today itself. 


Meaning: to be made to suffer or bear the punishment for someone else

Example: The fellow has always been a scapegoat since he is the youngest of the four siblings. 

riding shotgun

Meaning: to provide active aid to someone

Example: This politician is a sitting shotgun for his brother’s company. It is sad to see that he is using his political influence for his own purposes.

sixth sense

Meaning: to have an intuition about something

Example: The man has a great sixth sense and manages his business just on his intuition. 

skid row

Meaning: a bad locality which houses flophouses, run down hotels and cheap salons

Example: The place is neither skid row nor a main street. You will have to look it up on the maps to find it. 

smell something fishy

Meaning: to have a suspicion that something is wrong

Example: The manager smelled something fishy and started an investigation. He eventually found that 3 of the 4 employees were stealing from the store. 

son of a gun

Meaning: to address someone in an affectionate way

Example: The son of a gun managed to pass all the subjects this time along! I am so happy! 


Meaning: to be left-handed

Example: The mother expected her baby to be a southpaw like her but she was very much right handed. 

start from scratch

Meaning: to start doing something over from the beginning

Example: The class has started the lesson from scratch to be able to understand the basics in a better manner. 

self-made man

Meaning: someone who achieves the success with his own hark work

Example: The governor is a self-made man and has had properties around the city even before he joined politics.

stop by

Meaning: to meet someone or go somewhere in a brief and informal manner

Example: The gardener stopped by the nursery to get some soil for his garden. 

surgical strike

Meaning: to cause injury or damage to the intended targets

Example: The surgical strikes that the Indian army carried out in the year 2016 were an example of the strength that they hold. The enemy better not mess around here. 

salad days

Meaning: the time of youth, innocence and inexperience

Example: They had met in their salad days and had fallen in love. Naturally, the union did not last long and they separated a few years later.

sealed with a kiss

Meaning: written and sent with love and care

Example: When Ted and Judy were living apart in different cities, he would write a letter to her every week and all the letters would be marked with SWAK, or sealed with a kiss, as a mark of how much he loved her. 

break up | split up

Meaning: end a romantic relationship with someone

Example: After having been married for eight years, their decision to break up came as a huge surprise to their friends. 

stormy relationship

Meaning: a relationship with many disagreements

Example: After having a very stormy relationship for around two years, they decided to separate. 

smitten with

Meaning: suddenly start to like or love someone very much

Example: He is completely smitten with love for her. 

save face

Meaning: To be able to hide public disgrace by taking some action.

Example: I managed to save face by being able to speak about the topic, the presentation that was made was really not good.


Meaning: To be undecided.

Example: He is not shilly-shally about his plans to move to the United States of America. 

slap on the wrist

Meaning: to show disapproval.

Example: I have to keep slapping his wrist away from the cake or there will be nothing left for the party. 

sick as a dog

Meaning: To be very sick.

Example: You should not go to study with him today. He seemed to be as sick as a dog according to his friends. 

stir up a hornet’s nest

Meaning: to create trouble

Example: When the auditor asked for more shreds evidence, the treasury department stirred up a Hornet’s nest because they did not have more. This is how the fraud was actually revealed. 

sit tight

Meaning: wait patiently

Example: Just relax and sit tight, we’ll get the problem sorted for you.

scratch back

Meaning: do someone a favour hoping that a favour will be returned

Example: I don’t mind helping him out this time, he’s scratched my back many times. 

smell a rat

Meaning: sense that something is not right

Example: When he made that offer, I smelt a rat. It sounded too good to be true. 

spitting image

Meaning: look exactly like someone else

Example: My sister is the spitting image of my mother. 

set in ways

Meaning: leading a fixed lifestyle

Example: People tend to get set in their ways as they grow older. 

stone’s throw

Meaning: a short distance

Example: His workplace is a stone’s throw away from his home. 

sell someone out

Meaning: to betray someone

Example: The company had put a lot of trust on him, but he sold them out by leaking confidential information to the competitors. 

shoot from the hip

Meaning: speak directly or bluntly, without caring for consequences

Example: Even if you don’t agree with your boss’ ideas, don’t shoot from the hip. It won’t augur well for your growth. 

straight from the horse’s mouth

Meaning: from a dependable or reliable source

Example: What you heard is true. I know since I heard it straight from the horse’s mouth

steal thunder

Meaning: take credit for someone else’s work

Example: They all worked together on the project, but while submitting it, one of them stole the thunder. 

speak of the devil

Meaning: when someone comes in unexpectedly while being talked about

Example: We were huddled together in our lunch table, talking about our boss, when he walked in. Well, speak of the devil!

see eye to eye

Meaning: to agree fully with someone

Example: Though they work as a team, they often don’t see eye to eye on most issues. 

sit on the fence

Meaning: delay or avoid making a decision or choice

Example: Has he decided which offer he is going to accept or is he still sitting on the fence?

spin a yarn

Meaning: to tell a tale

Example: Kids like to have their grandparents spin a yarn for them. 

save your breath

Meaning: to not waste effort on something that has no outcome

Example: You must save your breath by not asking this generation to keep their cell phones at rest. 

toll or sound the death knell

Meaning: Cause an organization, system or activity to fail or end \

Examples: 1. The shutdown of the local iron industry tolled the toll or sound the death knell

 show the door

Meaning: – make it clear that somebody must leave – to lead or take someone to the door or exit – to make someone leave  

frighten or scare to death

Meaning: make somebody feel very frightened.

Example: A shadow appeared in the doorway and scared me to death.

show true colors

Meaning: to reveal what one is really like

Example: I trusted her blindly, but when I was in need too much and called her for help, she showed her true colors

strike a chord

Meaning: to trigger a strong memory or feeling based on which there can be a mutual interest

Example: strike a note; strike the note 

sell like hot cakes

Meaning: be a great commercial success

Example: These books are selling like hotcakes.

stand a chance

Meaning: have a possibility or a hope of success.

Example: If funding by government is withdrawn, small minority schools in remote northern area, don’t stand …

 shoot the breeze

Meaning: spend time chatting, useless talking or chit-chat.

Example: Instead of shooting the breeze for so long, she should get to work.

scrape the bottom of the barrel

Meaning: select from among the worst; to choose from what is left over.

Example: As all the candidates who came for the scrape the bottom of the barrel

stab in the back

Meaning: a disloyalty

Example: I have done everything for her, but she left me because of that guy, she stabbed in my back.

spare, save blushes

Meaning: do something to prevent somebody embarrassed.

Example: Sachin Tendulkar saved the team’s blushes by scoring the only century in the test series.

safe bet

Meaning: fair assumption; reasonable guess; opinion or view that is likely to prove correct. Example: The party president decided that the 75-year-old sitting legislator was safe bet

seal of approval

Meaning: an official sign of approval

Example: The government finally agreed to give the new pension policy its seal of approval.


take the cake

Meaning: being the best in a competition

Example: i can’t believe you said that your hypocrisy takes the cake

the buck stops here

Meaning: the responsibility for a situation or a problem with somebody.

Example: the buck stops with 

tempest in a teapot

Meaning: when a minor issue causes an exaggerated reaction of anger or trouble

Example: at first, i thought we were having a general discussion, but it ended setting off a tempest in the teapot

too close for comfort

Meaning: to be very close to something dangerous or unwelcoming

Example: she was standing on the edge of a cliff in the photo, too close for comfort

take a cue from

Meaning: to do what is recommended by someone else

Example: i’m not good at belly dance, so i’ll take my cue from you. 

the ball is in your court

Meaning: the initiative for taking action lies with somebody

Example: we did what we could, and now the ball is in your court

on/to hand

Meaning: present, nearby, close, or easily accessible

Example: my parents are always on hand if we need a babysitter. 

time puts everything in its place

Meaning: time is persistent; as it passes eventually, everything goes back to its original state or place

Example: after my breakup with judy, i couldn’t understand why things had to end so tragically, but i now understand time puts everything in its place in my new relationship. 

take it up/down a notch

Meaning: apply more effort to achieve a goal

Example: the team got through to the quarter-finals. Now they need to take it up a notch to get to the semis. 

to the nines

Meaning: to perfection

Example: the masked ball was excellent. You should have seen the costumes. Everyone was dressed to the nines

tide over

Meaning: temporary help (often financial)

Example: When I was at university, my mother always sent me food parcels to tide me over until my next grant cheque came. 

turn aside

Meaning: refuse entry to somewhere

Example: His job application was turned aside when they saw his criminal record. 

two peas in a pod

Meaning: practically identical in appearance

Example: Those boys could be twins, they are like two peas in a pod

turn against

Meaning: to change from supporting something to opposing it

Example: A section of his supporters turned against him when they heard his latest speech on immigration. 


Meaning: with the top at the bottom

Example: Everything has been topsy-turvy since we moved in. I can’t find anything until I unpack properly. 

the smell of an oily rag

Meaning: a slim or frugal amount  

Example: When we were students, we didn’t have much money and we got by on the smell of an oily rag most days. 

through thick and thin

Meaning: under all conditions, no matter how challenging or difficult

Example: My best friend has supported me through thick and thin

throw down the gauntlet

Meaning: to accept a challenge

Example: When it comes to the rights of animals, we are always willing to throw down the gauntlet

take heart

Meaning: to stay confident and positive

Example: We lost the elections — it is a part of the game. But we absolutely take heart in the apparently greater awareness and involvement of the young generation in keeping the spirit of democracy. 

throw under the bus

Meaning: to betray a partner, colleague or close friend for self-benefits

Example: Mark always looks for someone to blame and throw under the bus for his failings. 

tick off

Meaning: to make a mark next to items on a list that have been completed

Example: I would like to tick off some more items on my list before going home. 

turn out

Meaning: to arrive at an event

Example: They had fewer people turn out for their party than they anticipated. 

turn over a new leaf

Meaning: to alter your behaviour in a positive way

Example: He has not been in trouble this year. He has really turned over a new leaf

take for a ride

Meaning: to trick somebody

Example: I paid for the package but it was never delivered. After two weeks I realized that I had been taken for a ride

trouble shared is trouble halved

Meaning: a trouble shared is a trouble halved

Example: Don’t hesitate to share your problems with me. After all, a problem shared is a problem halved

troubled waters

Meaning: a difficult phase of life

Example: The situation was getting worse, but like all the other members of the company, he was fascinated by troubled waters

the lion’s den

Meaning: a place which is uncomfortable

Example: Two of the new students were thrown into the lion’s den as their ragging was taking place. 

take for granted

Meaning: to underestimate the value of something or someone

Example: I took the weather for granted when I lived in America. Now I am struggling to get used to the cold. 

toot one’s own horn

Meaning: blow one’s own horn

Example: My father told me never to toot my own horn

too close to call

Meaning: a margin that is too close to determine a winner

Example: There are only a few minutes left in the match and it is too close to call

the devil is beating his wife

Meaning: raining whereas the sun is shining

Example: Today, the devil is beating his wife in our city — it’s raining cats and dog and sun is also shining. 

the devil is in the detail

Meaning: It means that when you do not concentrate on the details of something you may run into unexpected problems

Example: «Have you seen my beautiful new bag? I paid a fortune for it.» «Really? It is a fake. The stitching of the original bags is blue, not green.» «How disappointing. I guess the devil is in the details.» 

take over

Meaning: to take control of something — often by force

Example: I can’t believe that they were able to launch a takeover of our company. 

take care

Meaning: be careful

Example: Thanks for the visit, Peter, take care

take on

Meaning: someone’s take on something is their opinion on a matter

Example: I don’t agree with your take on the matter, but I will respect your choice. 

take it on the chin

Meaning: this is a boxing metaphor meaning don’t shy away from difficulty

Example: You’re going to have to take it on the chin when your father gets home and sees what you’ve done. 

the best is yet to come

Meaning: whatever is happening now will be surpassed by something better in the future

Example: I am glad that you are enjoying your holiday,the best is yet to come

take turns

Meaning: to alternate doing something

Example: I understand that everybody wants to try driving, but you will have to take turns

time after time

Meaning: to repeat something

Example: The narrator repeated her name time after time in the story but I could not understand her connection with the plot until the very end of the story. 

throw the baby out with the bathwater

Meaning: to remove something good in the bid of getting rid of something bad

Example: Janet quitting her job because her ex started working there is a classic example of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

time will tell

Meaning: something that will not be proven until a later date

Example: I don’t think that he studied for his test, even though he says he did. Only time will tell

take stock

Meaning: to think carefully about a situation in order to make a decision

Example: Before deciding on which job to take, Peter has decided to take stock in order to make an informed decision on which choice would be best for him and his family. 

treasure trove

Meaning: a priceless or valuable discovery

Example: After his mother’s death, David found a treasure trove when he found her collection of music records. 


Meaning: unwilling to speak about an event

Example: When it came the time for him to share stories of this conquests, he became strangely tight-lipped

the eleventh hour

Meaning: at the very last minute before an event

Example: Just minutes before the deadline, he definitely submitted his assignment at the eleventh hour

that’s the way the cookie crumbles

Meaning: no matter how unfair the situation is, it must be accepted

Example: The manager was fired from his job after making such a huge mistake, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles

take a hike

Meaning: go away

Example: We’re all sick of you saying the same things over and over again. Why don’t you just take a hike


Meaning: a story that is purposefully sentimental

Example: This movie is a total tear-jerking for anyone who has lost a parent. 

the last thing I want

Meaning: I don’t want

Example: The report showed up all the flaws in the project, and that was the last thing I wanted

touch off

Meaning: to ignite a thought

Example: The presentation touched off a very important point and I would like to spend some time talking about it.

time flies

Meaning: for a particular phase in life to seem shorter than it really was

Example: Time flies when I go to play with friends. 

tip of the iceberg

Meaning: to only know a very small part of the problem

Example: The manager-employee problems in this company are just the tip of the iceberg

too many cooks spoil the broth

Meaning: to mean that something does not go well when there are too many ways to do it

Example: The company management had 11 decision makers. No wonder it closed operations since too many cooks spoil the broth

two heads are better than one

Meaning: to have more than one participant in an activity to make it better

Example: The company engaged with another marketing consultant because it is an important project and two heads are better than one

there’s no time like the present

Meaning: right now is the best time

Example: The master chef always told me that there’s no time like the present to start working on your signature dish. 

the early bird catches the worm

Meaning: it refers to people who arrive earlier are the ones who get the best deals

Example: The admissions in this college get filled in very early. If you really want to enroll your son here then you should remember that the early bird catches the worm

there’s no place like home

Meaning: to have an affinity for one’s home over every other place

Example: The troops finally retreated and the men get to go home to their families now. There is no place like home. 

there’s no such thing as a free lunch

Meaning: to be aware of something that seems free of cost but may have a charge levied in another form

Example: The company has asked the employees to fill in extra work hours this month when the incentive was paid out. There is no such thing as a free lunch

the squeaky wheel gets the grease

Meaning: to get something fixed, it is required to make a noise to get attention

Example: My younger brother got far more stuff from my parents when we were kids because the squeaky wheel gets the grease

the pen is mightier than the sword

Meaning: the power of mass appeal is stronger than the force used against it

Example: I totally believe that the pen is mightier than the sword and will continue to write about my honest opinions even if it irks a few.

turning point

Meaning: the point after which things become better

Example: The turning point in the story came when the protagonist lost his sister in a car accident. 

two wrongs don’t make a right

Meaning: the fact that responding to a negative situation in the same manner will not make things better in any sense

Example: You cannot leave the kitty because she was rude to you. Two wrongs don’t make a right

twist of fate

Meaning to experience a change in circumstances a fateful happening an unexpected change in situations an unlucky turn of proceedings

take effect

Meaning: to be enforced to apply to come into being to begin the functioning of something to become effective or active in nature to … 

time and again

Meaning: to be repeated very often to happen again and again over and over again Example  

the bigger they are the harder they fall

Meaning: to fail according to the size of the venture

Example: The prime minister probably realizes that the bigger they are the harder they fall. So he has been very cautious about all of his plans and policies up till now. 

the last straw

Meaning: to be the last in a sequence of unpleasant things

Example: The last straw in their relationship was when he physically abused her. She walked out after that. 

third time’s a charm

Meaning: to say that when a person tries to do something, it works out at the third attempt

Example: The fellow finally managed to pass his exam. As they say, third time’s a charm

twenty-three skidoo

Meaning: to depart in a haste

Example: The police threatened to imprison everyone in the crowd that did not 23 skidoo from the park. 

take breath away

Meaning: astonish; surprise; amaze or astound somebody

Example: The ring literally took my breath away. There was a monster of a diamond on it. 

knock on wood (touch wood)

Meaning: tap knuckle on wood in order to avoid bad luck

Example: I am expecting a promotion and a big pay hike this year, touch wood


Meaning: a situation where the result is unclear and can go either way

Example: They had a tough time selecting the team for the big match. In the end, it was a toss-up between having the most experienced players and having a youthful team full of raw energy. 

the course of true love never did run smooth

Meaning: people in love often have to overcome difficulties in order to be with each other

Example: Judy and I are in a long distance relationship and it is not easy staying away from each other. The course of true love never did run smooth

those three little words

Meaning: the three words «I love you»

Example: It is obvious that Steve really loves Sarah, but she told me that he has not said those three little words yet. 

tie the knot

Meaning: to get married

Example: They have been dating each other for quite some time now and are planning to tie the knot a few months from now. 

tall story

Meaning: a story that cannot be believed easily

Example: You cannot believe everything he says since most of them are just tall stories

twist arm

Meaning: to make someone do what you want by making it difficult for them to refuse

Example: I did not want to attend the concert, but he twisted my arm into it. 

tongue in cheek

Meaning: something said in humour, but with an act of being serious

Example: The latest movie I watched was a tongue in cheek look at the way the media tends to over-hype certain pieces of news. 

take a rain check

Meaning: decline an offer that might be taken up later

Example: I’ll take a rain check on the party tonight, I have a lot of work to finish right now. 

tickled pink

Meaning: excited and happy

Example: His wife was tickled pink when he sent her flowers and gifts at work for no reason. 

tar with the same brush

Meaning: to think that somebody has the same bad qualities as others in a similar surrounding

Example: Though the impression is that all government officials are corrupt, some of them are quite honest; its not fair to tar them with the same brush. 

taste of own medicine

Meaning: when someone gets the same bad treatment that he has been giving others

Example: I’m tired of him always finding faults with me. I’m going to give him a taste of his own medicine

take with a grain of salt

Meaning: to understand that something is not completely true or right

Example: I have read the article, but I take it with a grain of salt. 

speak of the devil

Meaning: when someone comes in unexpectedly while being talked about

Example: We were huddled together in our lunch table, talking about our boss, when he walked in. Well, speak of the devil

turn the tables

Meaning: change your position with respect to someone else

Example: After flying back to town I went to Jenna’s place uninformed to surprise her & to my amaze she had already planned a party to welcome me. I should have known she is smart enough to turn the tables. 

tall poppy

Meaning: a privileged or distinguished person.

Example: Recently a party was hosted in the city where all the tall poppies were invited to raise charity for clean shelters in suburbs. 

to a T

Meaning: done precisely

Example: The announcement of chief guest’s arrival at the school annual function was timed to a T

take name in vain

Meaning: Use someone’s name in a way that shows a lack of respect

Example: Atheists find one way or the other to take God’s name in vain. 

the best of both worlds

Meaning: a win-win situation

Example: «If you decide to live here you get the greenery of the countryside and the amenities of urban life. Its the best of both worlds, really.» 

throw in the towel

Meaning: to quit

Example: His trainer told Rocky that he would throw in the towel if he did not start throwing punches.

third wheel or fifth wheel

Meaning: a person who is in a situation where they are not needed

Example: I was the only person at the dinner party without a date. I felt like a third wheel

take the edge off

Meaning: blunt the effect of

Example: Have a painkiller — it’ll take the edge off the pain your in hand. 

toll or sound the death knell

toll or sound the death knell Meaning: Cause an organization, system or activity to fail or end Examples: 1. The shutdown of the local iron industry tolled the … 

turn a deaf ear

Meaning: choose not to hear

Example: Please do not just turn a deaf ear to their cries for help. 

throw dust in eyes

Meaning: to mislead somebody

Example: She threw dust in the eyes of the jeweler by pretending to be a well-to-do lady, and then stole the jewellery. 

till doomsday

Meaning: – for a very long time – for all time, – forever

Examples: You could try to convince her till doomsday, but she will … 

throw to the wolves

Meanings: – allow somebody else to be criticized or attacked, often in order to protect one

treat like dirt

Meaning: behave someone very badly without respect

Example: My boss treats all his employees like dirt

the die is cast

Meaning: an unalterable decision has been reached, or step taken.

to the core

Meaning: totally

Example: Stella’s plan was rotten to the core, it would not work in today’s world.

the chattering classes

Meaning: educated people who like to discuss and give their opinions about political and social matters.

the calm before the storm

Meaning: an extremely peaceful atmosphere right before any serious incident or crisis

Example: The family’s meeting on property dispute begins today and I’m just sitting down with a cup of coffee, enjoying the calm before the storm

take up the cudgels

Meaning: argue strongly in support or against somebody or something

Example: The whole country has taken up the cudgels for the two men accused of breaking into the school. 

the corridors of power

Meaning: the offices of the powerful leaders.

to heart’s content

Meaning: to gain full satisfaction

Example: The man ate food at the buffet to his heart’s content. He seemed really happy as he left for home. 

the other side of the coin

Meaning: the opposite aspect, contrasting arguments.

Example: The other side of the coin is that less working hours will get you a … 

three cheers for

three cheers for Meaning: good for, congratulations to, hurrah for. Example 1: Three cheers for Liverpool Football Club for great victory of Grand Final match. Example 2: Three … 

throw caution to the winds

Meaning: to take a decision without caring about the negative effects that come with it

Example: The caretaker threw caution to the winds when taking the baby out of the house even though he was already sick. 

the brains behind

Meaning: be the person who plans and organizes something, especially something successful. Example: She was the brains behind many of the UK. government initiatives.

tasted blood

Meaning: have achieved a small victory which has made you believe you can win a more important victory.

Example: The British badminton pair tasted blood in … 

take a beating

Meaning: to be defeated in doing something and be reprimanded for the same

Example: The younger sibling never takes a beating even if they have done the mischief. It is always the older child who is blamed. 

turn back on

Meaning: choose not to speak to

Example: The client has been given a commitment, we cannot turn back on the project now even if it means working for extra hours. 

take the bull by the horns

Meaning: decisively deal with a difficult or dangerous situation

Example: Jone decided to take the bull by the horns and organise things for himself. 

think outside the box

Meaning: think out of the box

Example: The team always thinks outside the box to come up with unique advertisements for all its clients. 

take a leaf out of life, book

Meaning: follow an example set by another person; imitate another person.

the better of

Meaning: to become superior to someone or thing

Example: The man has seen many troubled times and is determined to give the better of days to his children. 

tighten belt

Meaning: to save your money

Example: I have had to tighten my belt since I lost my job at the ice cream factory. 

take a back seat

Meaning: take a less important position.

Example: The founder of the company decided to take a back seat and let the board members run the … 

the bottom line

Meaning: in the final analysis, the most important fact in a situation.

Example: The bottom line is that pregnant women’s health is at greater risk … 

turn a blind eye

Meaning: deliberately overlook

Example: As a police officer, you cannot turn a blind eye to any of the illegal activities around you. 

the benefit of the doubt

Meaning: regards a person as innocent unless confirmed otherwise

Example: Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she is right. 

the ball rolling

Meaning: to start a conversation in a social setting

Example: The ball was rolling when he struck that first conversation with her, she could not refuse his proposal knowing how charming he really was! 

to see the back of

Meaning: to be glad that you no longer have to deal with someone

Example: After my boss made my life difficult for ten years, he finally left the company. I was glad to see the back of him. 

high or top on agenda

Meaning: if a subject or plan is at the top of somebody’s agenda, it is the most important thing they want to discuss … 

take aback

Meaning: surprised or confused by something unexpected

Example: We were all quite taken aback by his decision to retire from upcoming football tournament. 


under the auspices

Meaning: under the protection, sponsorship, or patronage

Example: we restored the home under the auspices of the historical society. 

under siege

Meaning: to be under attack

Example: the president came under siege for his radical decisions. 

under fire

Meaning: being shot at

Example: the politician came under fire after it was discovered that he had spend campaign money on lavish parties. 

up and about

Meaning: to get out of the bed actively after sleep

Example: he was up and about within a few days of the operation. 

up to no good

Meaning: to have an evil plan

Example: the children can be up to no good cooped up in that attic together for two hours. You must go up and check. 

under the radar

Meaning: off the radar

Example: they managed to stay under the radar for years, after stealing all that money from their friends. 

ups and downs

Meaning: good times and bad times

Example: every relationship has its ups and downs. It is important to stick it out. 

up to the mark

Meaning: to be good enough

Example: your exam results this term were not up to the mark

up a blind alley

Meaning: to be doing something that will definitely have a negative outcome

Example: the trip was up a blind alley it seems because the travel agent could not even jot down a proper itinerary. I wonder why they booked a holiday with such a shady company anyway. 

under no illusions

Meaning: be completely conscious of the real status of situation

Example: i am under no illusion that living in canada is going to be very easy. 

upper hand

Meaning: to have the authority to make decisions over someone or something

Example: The man has an upper hand to his wife. It is reflected in the way he speaks with her. 

unring the bell

Meaning: once something has been done you cannot run away from it, you can only face the aftermath

Example: Remember Tom, you cannot unring the bell once you have sent out that mail. 

use your loaf

Meaning: To tell someone to use their brain more in analysing what they are doing.

Example: I do not like it that you talk about people’s disabilities so often. You ought to use your loaf and understand that you may be hurting someone’s sentiments. 

until the cows come home

Meaning: for a very long time

Example: We can keep on arguing about this till the cows come home, but it won’t solve anything. 

under the weather

Meaning: to be ill or feel ill

Example: I did not go to work today, as I was feeling a bit under the weather

upper crust

Meaning: the aristocracy and upper classes, informal

Example: Reservation system was developed to help the needy. Now it has become privilege for the society therefore even the upper crust are demanding reservation these days. 

uncle Tom Cobley and all

Meaning: used to denote a long list of people (in British English)

Example: Businessman, entrepreneurs, Uncle Tom Cobley and all had been invited to the Real Estate Awards function in the city last month.3 

late unpleasantness

Meaning: the war that took place recently

Example: No sooner had Japanese recovered from the late unpleasantness, a massive volcanic eruption took place destroying huge no. of lives & property. 

ugly duckling

Meaning: a young person who turns out to be beautiful or talented against all expectations.

Example: Some people think they’ve turned into an ugly duckling whereas the truth is they are & look the same as they used to in their childhood. 

under a cloud

Meaning: under suspicion

Example: The luxury transport industry is under a cloud at the moment after newspapers revealed that many indulged in illegal activities. 

up in arms

Meaning: angry

Example: My mom was up in arms about the new salary cuts rumoured to be put in place. 

up the ante

Meaning: increase the demands or risks to obtain better results

Example: The government has upped the ante by refusing to negotiate with the ultras until a ceasefire has been agreed. 

up in the air

Meaning: unresolved, undecided

Example: The future of the project is up in the air as the management has failed to finalize the budget.


vim and vigor

Meaning: full of energy and enthusiasm

Example: even though my grandmother is in her 80s, she is still full of vim and vigor

veg out

Meaning: to stop working hard

Example: after a tiring week, i like to veg out in front of the television during the weekend. 

van gogh’s ear for music

Meaning: van gogh was a painter who cut his ear off and this phrase is a pun intended one referring to being tone deaf.

Example: her singing is so bad she has van gogh’s ear for music

viper in bosom

Meaning: a person who deceives you after receiving help from you

Example: i got my friend a good position in my company and all he did is convinced my manager to get him the designation i had in the project. He was no more than a viper in my bosom

beyond the veil

Meaning: in an inexplicable or concealed place or condition, especially the mysterious state of existence after death.

variety is the spice of life

Meaning: new and exciting practices make life more attractive

Example: i started learning tennis after having tried swimming because variety is the spice of life

vale of years

Meaning: the decreasing time of a individual’s life.

Example: i shall not leave my parents during their vale of years. 

volte face

Meaning: to change beliefs (suddenly) from something to its complete opposite

Example: the current prime minister thinks it is a joke to volte face on the plans that he announces publicly. 

vice versa

Meaning: a reverse in position

Example: I do not like my sister’s new husband, and vice versa

vent spleen

Meaning: to exhibit your rage

Example: the board members in the annual meeting witnessed the company’s shareholders venting their spleen over them as they were angry.


where the rubber meets the road

Meaning: when you have to face your challenges

Example: John had an excellent idea for a project, but his colleagues weren’t sure what would happen where the rubber meets the road.

waiting time

Meaning: a period of time from when action is requested to when it happens

Example: The waiting time for non-urgent surgery seems to be on the increase over the last five years. 

weather the storm

Meaning: handle a difficult period of time successfully

Example: There haven’t been any tourists this year, and the hotels, campsites, and restaurants are having to weather the storm until things pick up again.

white paper

Meaning: official report or guide

Example: The government will be issuing a white paper later this week.

white elephant

Meaning: an expensive item with no use or purpose

Example: Everyone thought the Olympic stadiums would be a white elephant after the closing ceremony.

worm in the apple

Meaning: the presence of something very bad in the best

Example: There’s nothing worse than getting a worm in your apple!

without further ado

Meaning: no fuss or ceremony

Example: Steve is very organised and friendly. When we met him last week, he introduced us all to the team without further ado

when life gives you lemons

Meaning: make the best out of a difficult situation

Example: She tried to live by the motto ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’ 

way forward

Meaning: the only way to succeed

Example: I believe that digital learning is the way forward

wild goose chase

Meaning: wasting resource working on something that does not exist

Example: They tampered with my research. Thank God I found it out. I’m sure they were hoping to send me on a wild goose chase as I continue my research. 

white lie

Meaning: a harmless lie

Example: Telling your friend that you like their new haircut, when you really don’t, is an example of a white lie

walking on air

Meaning: to be very happy (elated)

Example: I have been walking on air since I found out that I have been awarded a scholarship to study music. 

ward off

Meaning: to prevent something from harming you

Example: Our government has doubled the number of soldiers at the border to ward off illegal immigrants. 

when hell freezes over

Meaning: impolite way of saying «it will never happen»

Example: I guess, she will forgive you when hell freezes over

road to recovery

Meaning: the procedure of becoming healthy again

Example: The Grecian Government was supposed to put Europe on the road to recovery from the Economic and financial crisis. 

wind up

Meaning: to be annoyed by someone

Example: My sister really knows how to wind me up


Meaning: to be kind and loving

Example: My grandmother is a very warm-hearted person, everybody loves her. 

weak in the knees

Meaning: to be overcome by a strong feeling, usually desire

Example: The man makes me weak in the knees when he kisses me. 

what are you up to

Meaning: another way to ask someone, what are you doing?

Example: Seeing me going from room to room with no apparent method, my friend couldn’t help but ask what I was up to

wet behind the ears

Meaning: immature or poor skill

Example: From the way the soldier handled the gun, everyone could tell that he was wet behind the ears

walk on eggshell

Meaning: to be careful about one’s words or actions around another person

Example: Whenever Lisa is around the house, everyone has to walk on eggshells around her in order not to get her annoyed. 

where there’s a will, there’s a way

Meaning: willpower will defeat any difficulty

Example: The man drove through eight countries in his car. It is true, where there is a will, there is a way. 

when the going gets tough, the tough get going

Meaning: to become tougher than the situation in order to be able to overcome it

Example: The company secretary handled the objections very calmly and politely. I truly saw the personification of the fact that when the going gets tough, the tough get going

when in Rome, do as the Romans

Meaning: to copy popular culture in order to blend in

Example: My mother always told us that when in Rome, do as the Romans. That is how today we are able to get along with any kind of people. 

wag the dog

Meaning: to divert attention from something that is bad

Example: The prime minister keeps wagging the dog to keep people from actually finding out about the scam and its details. 

when it rains, it pours

Meaning: to have a good or bad news enlarged by circumstances

Example: The restaurant owners had the best of everything at one point. But you know what they say, when it rains, it pours. Today they are left with absolutely nothing. 

wild and woolly

Meaning: to be carrying a wild look

Example: Their residence is totally wild and woolly but all in all I found them to be warm people. 

wine and dine

Meaning: to treat somebody (usually a woman) to wine and dinner;

Example: The wine and dine at this hotel is among the best that you will ever find. 

way around

Meaning: to find an alternative for something, someone or to perform a task

Example: The way around such a problem would mean that we lose another 6 months in the completion of this project. 

walk out on

Meaning: end a relationship with someone suddenly

Example: Everyone was shocked when he walked out on his wife of fourteen years and their two beautiful children aged ten and seven. 

wear heart on sleeve

Meaning: display your emotions openly

Example: It was evident that he was in love with her. He wore his heart on his sleeve and you could see how he felt about her. 

whet one’s appetite

Meaning: A stimulation that causes you to want additional of something, mostly food.

Example: You have whetted my appetite to go for another theatre performance after making me watch this one. 

wear off, out

Meaning: Something that deteriorates or changes by wearing

Example: That garment is completely worn out. Why don’t you just throw it away? 

well read

Meaning: Well-educated and learned.

Example: She is well read does not mean that she can go out on the streets and fend for herself. To be street smart is a requirement in what she wants to do. 

water under the bridge

Meaning: past events that are not important anymore

Example: We used to have big disagreements some years back, but that’s all water under the bridge now. We get along fine. 

wouldn’t be caught dead

Meaning: dislike something very much

Example: I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing shoes like that. They are so old fashioned. 

whole nine yards

Meaning: everything, all of something

Example: She is the love of my life. For her, I’ll go the whole nine yards

wash hands of

Meaning: abandon taking responsibility for someone or something

Example: That job did no good to me. I washed my hands of it few months back and joined another one. 

warn off

Meaning: inform someone forcefully to stay at a distance

Example: The board was placed near the manhole to warn off the kids from playing there. 

wash dirty linen in public

Meaning: discuss publicly matters that one should keep private

Example: She decided not to take the family dispute to court as she feared it would only lead to a lot of washing of dirty linen in public


Meaning: rich and of good social status

Example: In the capital’s well-to-do suburbs, hiring a security guard has become a must for every family. 

win the day

Meaning: win a war or a fight or competition etc.

Example: The opposition win the day in the debate over the judge’s impeachment.

wouldn’t dream of

Meaning: not occur to one, not consider.

Example: Even if it were lying on my desk, I wouldn’t dream of taking another person’s money.

wrap in cotton wool

Meaning: to be overprotective towards somebody

Example: The mother wrapped the child up in cotton wool as if it would protect him from all the dangers of the world. 

when the chips are down

Meaning: when a situation is urgent or desperate.

Example: She’s the person you would like to have around when the chips are down.

work like a beaver

Meaning: work very energetically and hard.

Example: Ahead of the Diwali festival, she worked like a beaver to clean out all the closets.


X Factor

Meaning: an outstanding extraordinary ability

Example: This is the right time to invest in Gold and Real Estate. It may turn out to be an X-Factor.

X marks the spot

Meaning: when someone finds something looking for, this is the exact spot, mark something with X on target.

Example: X marks the spot, so let’s go and dig up treasure. Source:


you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink

Meaning: we can offer good things to people but we can’t force them to accept that

Example: I have tried my level best to educate him well, but he is still having a non-serious behavior, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink

you’re on

Meaning: used to accept a challenge or bet

Example: Max: I challenge you to join me in my 100km run this month. Samuel: You’re on

you can’t teach an old dog new tricks

Meaning: you cannot make others change their habits

Example: I tried to make my grandmother learn how to use a smartphone but it was just like you can’t teach an old dog new tricks

you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs

Meaning: to have to go through something seemingly not nice for a good result

Example: The course requires a lot of effort on your part. It is true that you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs

you can’t take it with you

Meaning: everybody leaves their wealth behind after death

Example: The whole world knows that you can’t take it with you but they still have so much affiliation to their worldly possessions. 

you bet

Meaning: for sure

Example: The manager will pull this deal off. You bet on something else about him because this is definitely happening.

you’ve got to be kidding

Meaning: implies that something that someone said is a joke

Example: Dan said. «I got a job as an associate professor in the university! Wow!» Tina replied. «You’ve got to be kidding!» 

young blood

Meaning: new members that provide various new schemes and ideas for the organization

Example: The Peace corps is in need of a young blood like Adam. 

you can say that again

Meaning: used to agree with another person or group of people

Example: She said, «This horrible weather has been killing me.» He said, «You can say that again!» 

you know better than that

Meaning: used to express disappointment when someone makes a mistake which they probably shouldn’t have

Example: She told me that you abused her, you know better than that.

you wish

Meaning: used to make a sardonic comment

Example: I told her that we have been dating for 5 years now and she said «you wish!» 

you can’t win them all

Meaning: indicates the reality that it is not possible to always succeed

Example:  To be very frank, I am very disappointed that they did not give me the post of  the manager as I feel I truly deserved it after 5 years of work experience. Oh well, you can’t win them all you see. 

you’ve made your bed

Meaning: to make a decision and to accept the consequences of those decisions

Example: Don’t come back when it is all over and you have nowhere to go. Once you’ve made your bed , you’ll have to lie in it

yes man

Meaning: a person who only agrees with the crowd or a group of people in order to please them or look good in front of them

Example: You really can’t trust what Donald might say in front of the boss. Everyone knows that he is just a yes man and I am not even sure if he has his own views on anything. 

your call

Meaning: to leave a decision on  another person

Example: I don’t really care where we go right now for dinner. It’s your call

yellow streak

Meaning: people who  have an inclination towards being fainthearted.

Example: Ginna’s got a yellow streak which shows up the moment she is asked to stand up against Nick. 


Meaning: happening in continuation throughout the whole year

Example: The park provides free food for orphans year-round as a service to the God and humanity. 

Young Turk

Meaning: a young person who has many new ideas and wants a reform

Example: Dan Mannix is one of the investment industry’s Young Turks but his contact book bulges with seasoned veterans. 

year dot

Meaning: A long time back.

Example: I have been living in this house since the year dot and know everyone in the vicinity by their first names. 

you are what you eat

Meaning: if you eat good food you will be healthy, if you eat bad food you will be unhealthy

Example: To stay healthy, it’s best to keep off junk food. You are what you eat.

your guess is as good as mine

Meaning: I don’t know

Example: If you want to know which one is the best of these movies, well, your guess is as good as mine. 

yesterday’s man

Meaning: someone especially a politician whose career is finished

Example: The officer is retiring from his job next month, soon he will be a yesterday’s man. 

your sins will find you out

your sins will find you out Meaning: things you do wrong will become known. Example: He usually cheats his customers by selling duplicate material, and now he lost … 

yoke around neck

yoke around neck Meaning: a trouble for someone. Example: Try to stop the fighting of two people was a yoke around his neck, they both hurt him badly, … 



zero hour

Meaning: a time when a crucial decision or essential action must be taken

Example: Right before the dawn, the British military had been waiting for zero hour to start the operation against terrorists in Afghanistan. 

zonk out

Meaning: to fall asleep very promptly

Example: After a very hard-working day, she zonked out

zip it

Meaning: to ask someone to shut up

Example: The teacher had asked the class to zip it but today everybody seemed to want to talk a lot. So she punished the entire class. 

zip past

Meaning: to move past (someone or something) very fast

Example: The guy just zipped past me in the queue today without bothering about the rules of the organization. 

zero-sum game

Meaning: to be in a situation where the outcomes can either be to win or to lose

Example: The budget division is a zero-sum game

zoom away | zoom off

Meaning: to be in a hurry

Example: The duo just zoomed off in the mist, the perfect ending to a fairy tale wedding. 

zero tolerance

Meaning: denial to allow rebellious activities, usually by rigid and strict application of the rules;

Example: There is zero tolerance towards any gender bias in this company. 

zip your lip

Meaning: to stop talking

Example: Why don’t you just zip your lip, I am tired of being nagged all morning. 

zenith of career or life

Meaning: the highest pinnacle of a person’s career or life

Example: The birth of his daughter was the zenith of his life