Idioms and 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 cock and a bull story- a story or an explanation which is obviously not true.
At the crack of the dawn- very early in 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 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.
Jam tomorrow - This idiom is used when people promise good things for the future that will never come.
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 - If the time is just coming up to nine o’clock, it means that it will be nine o’clock in a very few seconds. You’ll hear them say it on the radio in the morning.
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- be ready for something.
Know which way the wind blows- This means that you should know how things are Developing and be prepared for the future.
Keep your eye on the ball- If you keep your eye on the ball, you stay alert and pay Close attention to what is happening.
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 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.
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- to 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 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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