Idioms and Phrases

Idioms Phrases
A big cheese an important or a powerful person in a group or family
A bird’s eye view a view from a very high place which allows you to see a large area.
A bone of contention something that people argue for a long time
A bone of contention something that people argue for a long time
A cock and a bull story a story or an explanation which is obviously not true
At the crack of the dawn very early in the morning
A cuckoo in the nest someone in a group of people but not liked by them
A dead letter an argument or law not followed by anyone
An early bird someone who gets early in the morning
An educated guess a guess which was likely to get corrected
At the eleventh hour be too late
A queer fish a strange person
Apple of someone’s eye someone loved very much
Golden handshake Big sum of money given to a person when they leave a company or retire
A house of cards a poor plan
At an arm’s length to keep at a distance
A red-letter day an important day
A bit under the weather falling ill
Bite your tongue to stop yourself from saying something because it would be better not to
Black and blue full of bruises
Be bouncing off the walls excited and full of nervous energy
Bow and scrape try too hard to please someone in a position of authority
Between the devil and deep blue sea a type of situation where you must choose between two equally unpleasant situations
Back the wrong horse to support someone weak
Back to square one to reach again to the starting point
Bet on the wrong horse to misread the future
Blessing in disguise something that turns out to be good which earlier appeared to be wrong
Carrot and sticks You use both awards as well as punishments to make someone do something
Cloak and dagger when people behave in a very secret manner
Cards are stacked against luck is against you
Cross a bridge before one comes to it worry about the future in advance
Carry coals to newcastle to take something to a place or a person that has a lot of that thing already
Carry the can If you carry the can, you take the blame for something, even though you didn’t do it or are only partly at fault
Cat and dog life If people lead a cat and dog life, they are always arguing
Dressed up to the nines wearing fancy clothes
Dragging its feet delaying in decision, not showing enthusiasm
Dog in the manger If someone acts like a dog in the manger, they don’t want other people to have or enjoy things that are useless to them.
Donkey work Donkey work is any hard, boring work or task
Eat humble pie to apologize humbly.
Egg on your face If someone has egg on their face; they are made to look foolish or embarrassed
Eye for an eye This is an expression for retributive justice, where the punishment equals the crime
Face the music to accept punishment for something you have done
Fall on our feet If you fall on your feet, you succeed in doing something where there was a risk of failure
Fingers and thumbs If you are all fingers and thumbs, you are being clumsy and not very skilled with your hands
Finger in the pie If you have a finger in the pie, you have an interest in something
Follow your nose When giving directions, telling someone to follow their nose means that they should go straight ahead
For donkey’s years If people have done something, usually without much if any change, for an awfully long time, they can be said to have done it for donkey’s years
Gift of the gab talent of speaking, if someone has the gift of the gab, they speak in a persuasive and interesting way
Gives cold shoulder to ignore
Give someone a piece of your mind If you give someone a piece of your mind, you criticize them strongly and angrily
Go tell it to birds This is used when someone says something that is not credible or is a lie
Have ants in your pants not be able to keep still because you are very excited or worried about something
Have eyes bigger than stomach desiring more food than one can eat
Hit the nail on the head done the thing correctly
Have no truck with If you have no truck with something or someone, you refuse to get involved with it or them.
Hit the bull’s-eye If someone hits the bull’s-eye, they are exactly right about something or achieve the best result possible.
In dribs and drabs in small amounts at a time
In cahoots with in a partnership usually for a dishonest reason
If the shoe fits, wear it This is used to suggest that something that has been said might apply to a person
Jack the Lad A confident and not a very serious young man who behaves as he wants to without thinking about other people is a Jack the Lad.
Jam on your face If you say that someone has jam on their face, they appear to be caught, embarrassed or found guilty
Job’s comforter Someone who says they want to comfort, but actually discomforts people is a Job’s comforter
Jobs for the boys Where people give jobs, contracts, etc, to their friends and associates, these are jobs for the boys
Jockey for position If a number of people want the same opportunity and are struggling to emerge as the most likely candidate, they are jockeying for position
Jog my memory If you jog someone’s memory, you say words that will help someone trying to remember a thought, event, word, phrase, experience, etc.
Joined at the hip If people are joined at the hip, they are very closely connected and think the same way
Jump down someone’s throat If you jump down someone’s throat, you criticise or chastise them severely
Juggle frogs If you are juggling frogs, you are trying to do something very difficult
Jump the broom To jump the broom is to marry
Jump the gun If you jump the gun, you start doing something before the appropriate time.
Jump to a conclusion If someone jumps to a conclusion, they evaluate or judge something without a sufficient examination of the facts
Just coming up to nine o’clock If the time is just coming up to it means that it will be nine o’clock in a very few seconds. You’ll hear them say it on the radio in the morning.
Justice is blind Justice is blind means that justice is impartial and objective
Keep body and soul together If you earn enough to cover your basic expenses, but nothing more than that, you earn enough to keep body and soul together
Keep one’s eye on the ball Stay alert and pay Close attention to what is happening.
Know which way the wind blows This means that you should know how things are Developing and be prepared for the future
Like a shag on a rock completely alone
Let the cat out of the bag reveal the secret
Let nature take its course to allow someone to live or die naturally
Left to your own devices If someone is left to their own devices, they are not controlled and can do whatever they want
Make ones bed and lie on it to be responsible for what you have done and accept the results
Make a monkey of someone If you make a monkey of someone, you make them look foolish
Man of his word A man of his word is a person who does what he says and keeps his Promises
Many moons ago A very long time ago
My hands are full I am busy
Make a dry face show disappointment
Make a monkey of someone If you make a monkey of someone, you make them look foolish
Man of his words A man of his word is a person who does what he says and keeps his Promises
Many moons ago A very long time ago
Nobody’s fool one who can take care of himself
Never-never land ideal best place
No love lost between dislike
Needle in a haystack If trying to find something is like looking for a needle in a haystack, it means that it is very difficult, if not impossible to find among everything around it
No smoke without fire This idiom means that when people suspect something, there is Normally a good reason for the suspicion, even if there is no concrete evidence
Once in a blue moon very rarely
Open Pandora’s box to discover more problems
Over the moon being too happy
On its last legs in a bad condition and will not last long
Old flames die hard It’s very difficult to forget old things
On pins and needles If you are on pins and needles, you are very worried about something.
On the hook If someone is on the hook, they are responsible for something
Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches This means that it’s hard to know how much someone else is suffering
Pick someone to pieces to criticize sharply
Paper over the cracks try to hide something
Put the cart before the horse doing things in a wrong manner
Pull up the shocks do things in the right manner and correctly
Parrot fashion If you learn something parrots fashion; you learn it word for word
Pay on the nail If you pay on the nail, you pay promptly in cash
Pen is mightier than the sword The idiom ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ means that words and communication are more powerful than wars and fighting
Pick someone’s brains If you pick someone’s brains, you ask them for advice, Suggestions and information about something they know about
Pieces of the same cake Pieces of the same cake are things that have the same characteristics or qualities
Poker face Someone with a poker face doesn’t show any emotion or reaction so that people don’t know what they are feeling
Quiet as a cat If somebody is as quiet as a cat they make as little noise as possible and try to be unnoticeable
Quiet as a mouse If someone is as quiet as a mouse, they make absolutely no noise
Queer fish A strange person is a queer fish
Read between the lines read hidden meanings
Rack and ruin If something or someone goes to rack and ruin, they are utterly destroyed or wrecked
Rake someone over the coals If you rake someone over the coals, you criticize or scold them severely
Recipe for disaster A recipe for disaster is a mixture of people and events that could only possibly result in trouble
Red herring If something is a distraction from the real issues, it is a red herring
Red letter day A red-letter day is a one of good luck when something special happens to you
Round the houses If you go round the houses, you do something in an inefficient way when there is a quicker, more convenient way
Rub shoulders If you rub shoulders with people, you meet and spend time with them,Especially when they are powerful or famous
Salt on the earth fundamental good people
Sands of time tiny amounts of time
Spill the beans to expose a secret
Snake in the grass a hidden army
Snake in the shoes to be in a state of fear
Showing the door asking someone to leave
Salad days Your salad days are an especially happy period of your life
Song and a dance an excuse
Sail under false colors Someone who sails under false colors is hypocritical or Pretends to be something they aren’t in order to deceive people
Take the cloth to become a priest
To crow over to triumph over someone
Young blood Young people with new ideas and fresh approaches are young blood
Your name is mud If someone’s name is mud, then they have a bad reputation
Zip your lip If someone tells you to zip your lip, they want to shut up or keep quiet about something
Zigged before you zagged If you did things in the wrong order, you zigged before you zagged
Zero hour The time when something important is to begin is zero hour


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