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The An example

S=Separable
Phrasal The Meaning ( Simple Past
I=Inseparable
Verb Tense)
She did his jacket up
do up To fasten an item of clothing. for him before he left S
the house.
To dress (oneself or another) in
She enjoyed dressing
your best clothes.
up to go out.
or
or
dress up I
To put on fancy dress (disguise
The children enjoyed
oneself or another to be
dressing up in their
someone else) in children's
mother's clothes.
games.
The weather was
To dry clothes outside after
hang out fine, so she hung out S
washing.
the washing.
She was a very neat
To put something on a hook or child. She hung her
hang up S
a hanger. clothes up every
night.
To wear an item of clothing on She had a red t-shirt
have on S
one's person. on when he saw her.
He kicked his shoes
kick off To remove your shoes quickly. off as soon as he got S
home.
To dress yourself or someone
He put his shoes on
put on else with an item or items of S
before he went out.
clothing.
She slipped her
To put on an item of clothing
slip on sandals on before she S
easily.
went into the sea.
He took his shoes off
To remove any item of
take off before he went to S
clothing.
bed.
To put on an item of clothing to She always tried
try on find out whether it fits or is shoes on before she S
suitable. bought them.
She was in such a
hurry she just threw
To put on an item of clothing
throw on on a few clothes S
quickly and without thought.
before she left the
house.
Her jeans were too
To shorten trousers, a dress or
turn up long, so she turned S
a skirt so that they fit better.
them up.
His mother told him
to wrap himself up
wrap up To put warm clothes on. S
warm because it was
so cold outside.
It was cold outside,
To fasten an item of clothing
zip up so he zipped his S
using a zip.
jacket up.
To eat more than is good for
(Rarely used in
To binge you. (Often associated with Regular
conversation)
eating disorders.)
To tear, cut or grip food with
To bite He bit into the apple. Irregular
the teeth.
To (Rarely used in
To eat breakfast. Regular
breakfast conversation.)
To work food between the jaws He chewed his food
To chew Regular
and teeth (see also masticate) well.
To (Rarely used in
See to eat. Regular
consume conversation.)
What happens to food after it is
(Rarely used in
To digest swallowed. (Not something you Regular
conversation.)
do consciously.)
To eat dinner. Especially They dined at their
To dine Regular
related to eating out. friend's house.
The complete action of putting
TO EAT food in the mouth and then She ate her dinner. Irregular
biting, chewing and swallowing
it.
To eat a lot or to enjoy eating
They feasted on
To feast something. (Often something Regular
caviar and salmon.
out of the ordinary.)
To eat or swallow food too The little boy gobbled
To gobble Regular
quickly and in large amounts. his sandwich.
To guzzle To eat food greedily. He guzzled his lunch. Regular
(Rarely used in
To ingest To take food into the body. Regular
conversation.)
To pass the tongue over food She licked the ice
To lick Regular
in order to taste or consume it. cream.
(Rarely used in
To lunch To eat lunch. Regular
conversation.)
To chew food steadily,
He munched the
To munch especially with a crunchy noise, Regular
apple.
such as when eating an apple.
To take small repeated bites of The rabbit nibbled on
To nibble Regular
food. the carrot.
She snacked on
To eat a light meal, or eat
To snack biscuits and sweets Regular
between main meals.
all day.
To The act of passing food from She swallowed a fish
Regular
swallow the mouth to the stomach. bone.
He tasted the soup
To take a small amount of food
To taste before he added Regular
in the mouth and test it.
more salt.
To eat food quickly. (Often He wolfed down his Regular
To wolf
followed by down.) breakfast.

Phrasal Verbs
The
An example S=Separable
Phrasal The Meaning
( Simple Past Tense) I=Inseparable
Verb
To go out to
They were both tired so they
eat out eat, usually to I
ate out.
a restaurant.
To eat
He was very hungry and ate
eat up everything on S
everything up.
your plate.
To arrange He always makes a mess
plate up food on a when he's plating up the S
plate. food.
To eat with He enthusiastically tucked in
tuck in I
enthusiasm. to his dinner.
The Verb
An example Regular
(infinitive The Meaning
( Simple Past Tense) /Irregular
form)

To decide not to use He didn't know who to vote


To abstain Regular
your vote. for, so he abstained.

They cast their vote and


To cast a vote To vote. Irregular
then began to count them.

To choose a candidate
To elect They elected a new leader. Regular
in an election.

To control a group of
He led the party for ten
To lead people, a country, or a Irregular
years.
situation.

To name someone as a We nominated him to stand


To nominate Regular
candidate. for the next election.

To campaign to stand He ran as an independent


To run Irregular
for a political position. candidate.

He stood in the election, but


To stand To seek election. Irregular
he lost.

To refuse to allow
To veto We vetoed the nomination. Regular
something.

To assert a formalised
To vote I voted in the last election. Regular
choice in an election.

To be successful in an He won the vote by a large


To win Irregular
election. majority.

PHRASAL VERBS
The Phrasal An example
S=Separable
Verb (infinitive The Meaning ( Simple Past
I=Inseparable
form) Tense)

"After the truth


To give up your official came out about his
To stand down I
job or position. affairs, he had to
stand down."

To defeat something "He wanted to S


To vote
such as a law or plan introduce freedom of
something down by voting against it. information, but
they voted him
down."

To accept and make


To vote
possible something "We voted the
something S
such as a law or plan changes through."
through
by voting for it.

To perform the actions


They acted out the
Act out and say the words of a I
fairytale.
story.

If a person, especially a He always acted up


Act up child, acts up, they when his friends I
behave badly. were watching.

He always clowned
Clown about To act like a clown. I
about in the class.

We played along
To do what someone
with the idea, until
Play along asks you to do, for a I
we were able to run
limited period of time.
away.

If a person, especially a He always played up


Play up child, plays up, they when his friends I
behave badly. were watching.

To finish baking partly


She baked off the
bake off baked food. S
bread in the oven.
For example bread.

She forgot to switch


To cause liquid to
off the cooker and
boil away evaporate completely S
all the water boiled
by boiling.
away.

The sauce was too


To boil a liquid down to
boil down thin and needed to S
a thick sauce.
be boiled down.

She forgot to turn


To cause liquid to down the heat and
boil over S
overflow whilst boiling. all the water boiled
over the pan.

To cut into pieces, She chopped the


chop up usually with several onion up into small S
sharp blows. cubes.

cut off To remove by cutting. He cut all the fat off. S


To shape or form by He cut several
cut out S
cutting. pieces of pastry out.

To cut into pieces using He cut the pie up


cut up S
a sharp knife. into equal slices.

To eat away from


They ate out twice
eat out home, usually in a I
last week.
restaurant.

To eat until everything She ate everything


eat up S
is finished. up.

The act of frying a He always fried up a


fry up meal, especially good breakfast in I
breakfast. the morning..

To remove the She peeled the skin


peel off skin/rind/outer covering off the apples for S
of fruit/vegetables etc. the fruit salad.

To divide or cut
He sliced the meat
slice off something from a S
off the bone.
larger piece.

To admit that you were Eventually, he


back down wrong or that you have backed down and I
been defeated. apologized.

To decide not to do
something that you had He backed out of the
back out I
said you would do: agreed investment.

To look at someone He eyed her up, but


eye up (sb) with sexual interest. didn't dare say S
hello.

To clean all of a place,


especially your house,
I spring cleaned
spring-clean very well, including I
yesterday.
parts you do not often
clean.

They really worked


To try hard to achieve
work at hard at their I
something.
marriage.

If you work off an


unpleasant feeling, you I worked off my
work off S
get rid of it by doing anger at the gym.
something energetic.
The policeman
To calculate or try to worked out what
work out S
understand something. caused the
accident.

To attack and injure They worked him


work over S
someone. over well.

He didn't die of
To murder someone natural causes,
To bump off S
(slang). someone bumped
him off.

To murder a whole Mr Powell concluded


To commit group of people, that that genocide
I
genocide especially a whole had been committed
nation. in Darfur.

Ian Curtis
If a person commits
To commit committed suicide
suicide, they kill I
suicide by hanging at the
themselves.
age of 23.

He dropped dead in
To die suddenly and
To drop dead the middle of a I
unexpectedly.
game of cards.

When a woman or
She gave birth to
female animal gives
To give birth twins. A boy and a I
birth, she produces a
girl.
baby from her body.

To gradually become an I grew up in


To grow up S
adult. England.

A polite expression for He passed away last


To pass away I
dying. year.

The company
To pay someone so that thought they had
To buy sb off they do not cause you bought him off but S
any trouble. he took them to
court and won.

To buy a part of a They bought their


company or building competitor's share
To buy sb out S
from someone else so in the target
that you own all of it. company.

To buy large amounts He bought up all the


To buy sth up of something, or all land in the S
that is available. surrounding area.
To get money or
another advantage A lot of people are
To cash in on sth from an event or trying to cash in on I
situation, often in an the situation.
unfair way.

To count all the money


taken by a shop or She cashed up when
To cash up S
business at the end of the shop closed.
each day.

We paid off our


To pay back money
To pay sth off mortgage after 25 S
that you owe.
years.

To spend money on I paid out £500 to


To pay (sth) out something, or to pay get the computer S
money to someone. fixed.

To give someone the If he doesn't pay up,


money that you owe I'll throw him out.
To pay up S
them, especially when It's as simple as
you do not want to. that.

To avoid using
He used to go to bed
something [e.g.
To very early to save
electricity, food] so that S
save (sth) on sth on his electricity
you do not have to pay
bills.
for it

He paid for the


The act of giving money
pay for newspaper with I
for something.
cash.

The cordorouy
To dispose of supplies trousers weren't
sell off by selling them (usually selling so the S
cheaply). manager sold them
off cheaply.

The jeans were so


To dispose of supplies
popular that they
sell out by selling them I
sold out in 10
completely.
minutes.

I tried a nice dress


Put on an article of
try on on yesterday, but it S
clothing to see if it fits.
didn't fit.

The thieves drove


drive off To leave in a car. S
off in a BMW.
If a ship or boat runs
The ship ran
aground/ashore, it hits
run aground aground in the S
the coast, sometimes
storm.
becoming stuck there.

If a vehicle or its driver


runs over someone or
He accidently ran
run over something, the vehicle S
over the rabbit.
hits and drives over
them.

Idiom/Saying Explanation
To bank on
something/someone

For example: Something or someone you can be sure of.

"You can always bank on


friends to help you."
To lock the barn door after
the horse has bolted

For example:
To be careful or try to make something safe when it
is too late.
"Buying a burglar alarm
after the break in was like
locking the barn door after
the horse had bolted."
To be banging/hitting your
head against a brick wall.

For example:
To keep asking someone to do something which
they never do.
"Trying to get them to do
their homework is like
banging my head against a
brick wall."
Like a ton of bricks

For example:
To be affected strongly or forcefully by something.
" The news of the accident
hit me like a ton of bricks."
You can't
make bricks without
straw.
You cannot do something correctly without the
necessary materials/knowledge.
For example:

"It's no good trying to build


a website if you don't know
any html, you can't make
bricks without straw."

To burn your bridges

For example: To do something that makes it impossible for you to


change your plans and go back to the situation you
"When he handed in his were in before.
resignation he had burnt
his bridges."
Rome wasn't built in a
day.
It takes a long time to do an important job.
For example:

"It's taken me years to


build this site, and I'm still Thanks to 2-dog-farm
not finished! Still, Rome
wasn't built in a day."
Castles in the air

For example:
To have daydreams.
" She is always building
castles in the air and is
very unrealistic."
To be in the doghouse

For example:
To be in trouble.
"He was really in the
doghouse after borrowing
his father's car without
permission."
To hold the fort

For example:
To cope in an emergency, often by acting as a
temporary substitute.
"He has been holding the
fort at his company while
his boss is on vacation."
Close to home

For example:
To be near to someone`s personal feelings, wishes
"What the fortune teller or interests.
said about my past life hit
close to home, it was
uncanny."
Make oneself at home

For example:
To act as if you were at home.
"I always make myself at
home when I visit the in-
laws."
House of cards

For example:
Something badly put together and easily knocked
"The peace agreement down, a poorly thought out plan/action.
between the two countries
was like a house of cards
and quickly fell apart."
On the house

For example:
Something provided free by a business - especially
in a bar or restaurant.
"The club was celebrating
its anniversary so the
drinks were on the house."
Put one`s own house in
order

For example:
Organize one`s own private affairs.
"The government should
put its own house in order
before it tells others what
to do."
To bring the house down

For example:
To cause alot of applause or laughter.
"The last act was so good
they brought the house
down."
People who live in
glass houses shouldn't
throw stones

For example:
Do not complain about other people if you are as
"He was always telling bad as they are.
people to be honest and
then he stole the money,
he should know that people
who live in glass houses
shouldn't throw stones."
Run-of-the-mill

For example:
Something that is ordinary or usual.
"Nothing extraordinary
happened the whole day
was very run-of-the-mill."
To go through the mill

For example:
To experience a difficult situation.
"Since his divorce he has
really gone through the
mill."
To go through the roof

For example:
To become very angry, go into a rage.
"When she saw how dirty
his clothes were, his
mother went through the
roof."
To hit the roof

For example:
To become very angry, go into a rage.
"He hit the roof when he
found out that his son had
wrecked the family car. "
The elephant in the room.

For example:-
A problem or situation that everyone knows about
but no one mentions.
"Her blindness was the
elephant in the room."

To close the stable door


after the horse has bolted.

For example:-
To try to fix something after the problem has
"Giving the banks billions occurred.

of dollars, is like closing the


stable door after the horse
has bolted."

To stonewall.

For example:-
To refuse to cooperate, especially in supplying
He stonewalled the new information, often by talking a lot.

project and now it's been


cancelled.

To be a tower of strength

For example:
Someone who gives strong and reliable support
" He has been a real tower
of strength all through the
divorce."
A hole in the wall 1) A small place to live, stay or work in.
1) "We went for a drink at 2) A cash machine.
a little hole in the wall near
the university last night."

2) "I went to the hole in


the wall to get some cash."
The writing's on the wall

For example:-

"The director has promised


there won't be any The future is predetermined usually in a negative
compulsory redundancies way.

this year, but I figure that


for next year the writing's
on the wall. Better get your
CV up to date."

To climb the wall

For example:
To be so bored that you become anxious and
frustrated
" The journey was so
boring she was soon
climbing the wall."
To knock one`s head
against a brick wall

For example:
To waste time trying to do something with little or
no success.
"I have been knocking my
head against a brick wall
trying to solve this week's
Mind Bender."
To have ants in your pants.
For example:-
There's a test tomorrow, To be unable to keep still because you are very
and he can't concentrate or excited or worried about something.
keep still. He looks like he's
got ants in his pants.
To badger someone.
For example:-
To pester someone into doing something.
Don't let people badger you
into having a drink.
Bark worse than bite.
For example:-
Used to describe someone who makes threats but
Oh don't worry, he's always
never carries them out.
shouting at people, but his
bark is worse than his bite.
Barking up the wrong tree. To make the wrong choice, or ask the wrong
For example:- person. (Imagine Laika barking up a tree thinking
The government was there's a squirrel up there, but the squirrel has
barking up the wrong tree already run along the branches to another tree.)
with their proposal to
sell off the UK's forests.
To be like a bear with a
sore head.
For example:-
My husband is like a bear To be in a bad mood.
with a sore head before he
gets his cup of tea in the
morning.
To have a bee in your
bonnet.
For example:-
She's got a real bee in her To be obsessed about something.
bonnet about that new
advertising campaign, she's
even phoned the ACA!
The birds and the bees.
For example:-
In the UK many parents A euphamism for courtship and intercourse
dread having to tell their between people.
children about the birds
and the bees.
A bird in the hand is worth
two in the bush.
For example:-
I would stay with your Having something for certain is better than the
current firm, rather than possibility of getting something better.
look for something better.
After all, a bird in the hand
is worth two in the bush.
The early bird catches the
worm.
For example:-
If you do something in a timely manner you will
I'll go to work early
succeed.
tomorrow. After all, the
early bird catches the
worm.
A bird's eye view.
For example:-
If you look at Google Maps The appearance of something seen from above.
you can get a bird's eye
view of your street.
Birds of a feather flock
together.
For example:-
People who have similar characters or similar
At the party, all the
interests will often choose to spend time together.
teenagers gathered in the
kitchen. Birds of a feather
flock together.
To kill two birds with one
stone.
For example:-
I went to the dentist, and To solve two problems with a single action.
asked him to fill the molar,
and remove the wisdom
tooth at the same time.
Might as well kill two birds
with one stone.
To be like a bull in a china
shop.
For example:-
To be clumsy.
Don't let him touch those
glass baubles, he's like a
bull in a china shop.
A cat nap.
For example:-
A short sleep, during the day.
I always have a cat nap
after lunch.
To be like a cat on a hot tin
roof.
For example:-
She's waiting for her To be nervous and unable to keep still.
boyfriend to call, and she's
been like a cat on a hot tin
roof all day.
A fat cat.
For example:-
Too many fat cats have Someone who is very rich and powerful.
made money out of the
recession.
A scaredy-cat.
For example:-
It's only a little spider, Someone who is frightened for no reason.
don't be such a scaredy-
cat.
The cat's whiskers.
For example:-
When someone thinks they're better than everyone
She thought she was the
else.
cat's whiskers when she
got the part in the play.
Has the cat got your
tongue?
For example:-
Said when someone isn't saying anything.
Why are you being so
quiet? Cat got your
tongue?
To let the cat out of the
bag.
For example:-
To reveal a secret.
Everybody knows about the
redundancies, someone let
the cat out of the bag.
To look like the cat that got
the cream.
For example:- To look very pleased and a bit smug about
I guess you passed your something.
exam. You look like the cat
that got the cream.
To put a cat among the
pigeons.
For example:- To cause trouble.
When the photos showed
him kissing a young
woman, it really put the cat
among the pigeons.
Not enough room to swing
a cat.
For example:-
Used to describe a place that is very small.
In our old flat there wasn't
enough room to swing a
cat.
It's raining cats and dogs!
For example:-
We had to run for shelter It's raining very heavily.
when it started raining cats
and dogs.
Look what
the cat's dragged in!
For example:- An insulting way of saying that someone has just
Look what the cat's arrived and they don't look good.
dragged in! You look
terrible!
To be a chicken or To
be chicken or to
be chicken livered.
For example:-
Someone who is cowardly.
She wouldn't get on the
waltzers, because she said
they're dangerous. She's
such a chicken.
A cuckoo in the nest.
For example:-
Someone who is part of a group but is different and
The new manager is a real
often disliked, or a problem that grows quickly and
cuckoo in the nest. He's
crowds out everything else.
causing more problems
than he's solving.
Living in cloud cuckoo land.
For example:-
He thinks the recession Used to describe someone who has ideas or plans
won't affect his business. that are completely unrealistic.
He's living in cloud cuckoo
land.
A dog and pony show.
For example:- A show or other event that has been organized in
His campaign was a real order to get people's support or to persuade them
dog and pony show, but he to buy something.
still didn't win the election.
A shaggy dog story.
For example:-
A joke or story that's obviously not true or has a
The way he kept going on
silly ending.
led me to suspect it was a
shaggy dog story.
To be like a dog with two
tails.
For example:-
When we found out we had To be very happy.
won the contract, our
manager was like a dog
with two tails.
To be dog-eared. If something is dog-eared, it is in bad condition.
For example:-
I won't lend her any more
books, the last one she
gave back to me was dog-
eared.
To be dog tired.
For example:-
The party went on till 4am. To be exhausted.
I was dog tired the next
day.
Gone to the dogs.
For example.-
Used when someone or somewhere becomes less
This country has gone to
successful than it was.
the dogs since they won
the election.
Let sleeping dogs lie.
For example:-
I knew my boss was wrong,
Leave something alone if it might cause trouble.
but I didn't say anything.
He wouldn't thank me, so I
say, let sleeping dogs lie.
It's raining cats and dogs!
For example:-
We had to run for shelter It's raining very heavily.
when it started raining cats
and dogs.
Talk the hind leg off
a donkey.
For example:-
I couldn't get a word in To talk a lot.
edgeways. That guy could
talk the hind leff off a
donkey.
A dead duck.
For example:-
The police admitted that A failure.
they were giving up, the
case was a dead duck.
Water off a duck's back.
For example:-
He kept shouting at me, Said when someone doesn't let things upset them.
but it was like water off a
duck's back.
The elephant in the room.
For example:- A problem or situation that everyone knows about
Her blindness was the but no one mentions.
elephant in the room.
A white elephant.
For example:-
Spain lavished money on
Used to describe something you own that is
many white elephant
useless.
building projects, such as
the airport at Ciudad Real,
south of Madrid.
A cold fish.
For example:- Someone who doesn't show how they feel.
Her husband's a real cold
fish, it's impossible to tell
whether he's happy or not.
"A different kettle of fish"
For example:-
Oh! They want to place an
A different matter or issue.
order? That's a different
kettle of fish. Of course I'll
talk to them.
To have bigger fish to fry.
For example:-
He couldn't stay long, with To have more important things to do.
this merger he has bigger
fish to fry.
Like a fish out of water.
For example:-
When she started talking
To be uncomfortable in a particular situation
about her personal
problems, he looked like a
fish out of water.
Something is fishy.
For example:-
There was something fishy
Used when something is suspicious.
in the way he paused
before answering the
question.
To be a fly on the wall.
For example:-
To want to be somewhere secretly, so you can
I would love to have been a
overhear what is said.
fly on the wall when the
boss was telling him off.
To be as sly as a fox.
For example:-
He managed to get all his
To be sneakily clever.
money out before the bank
collapsed. He's a sly old
fox.
To get someone's goat.
For example:-
The whole time I was
To upset someone.
singing she didn't stop
talking. She really got my
goat.
What's sauce for the goose,
(is sauce for the gander.)
For example:-
If your husband can go out If you think something is acceptable for one person,
to work, then surely you it should also be acceptable for another person.
can too. After all, what's
sauce for the goose is
sauce for the gander.
Wouldn't say boo to
a goose.
For example:-
He's not assertive enough Describes someone who is very nervous.
to be a supervisor, he
wouldn't say boo to a
goose.
To not give a hoot.
For example:-
To not care.
Estate agents don't give a
hoot about their customers.
A dark horse.
For example:-
I was surprised when he A person who is secretive and often does something
sat down to play the piano, surprising.
I didn't know he could! He's
a real dark horse.
To close (shut) the stable
door after the horse has
bolted.
For example:- To try to fix something after the problem has
Giving the banks billions of occurred.
dollars, is like closing the
stable door after the horse
has bolted.
To say you could eat
a horse.
For example:-
To be very hungry.
I haven't had any
breakfast, so I could eat a
horse.
To eat like a horse.
For example:-
He had two helpings of To eat a lot.
everything. He eats like a
horse!
To look a gift horse in the
mouth.
For example:-
She complained that the To mistrust or complain about something you are
software was slow, but offered or given for free.
hadn't paid for it, so I told
her not to look a gift horse
in the mouth.
To eat like a horse.
For example:-
He had two helpings of To eat a lot.
everything. He eats like a
horse!
To put the cart before
the horse.
For example:-
Learning to write a To get things confused and mixed up, or to do
language before you are things in the wrong order.
comfortable speaking it is
putting the cart before the
horse.
Sraight from
the horse's mouth.
For example:-
To hear something interesting from someone
The rumour is true, the
actually involved.
company will announce a
large contract today, I
heard it straight from the
horse's mouth; the
managing director told me.
Mutton dressed (up)
as lamb.
For example:-
She's over fifty and should Used to describe a woman who is dressed in a style
really stop wearing mini that is more suitable for a much younger woman.
skirts if she doesn't want to
look like mutton dressed as
lamb.
To not give a monkey's.
For example:-
I don't give a
monkey's about being Used to express lack of concern or interest.
made redundant. I'm
leaving. I've got another,
better job.
To put a cat among
the pigeons.
For example:-
When the photos showed To cause trouble.
him kissing a young
woman, it really put the cat
among the pigeons.
A dog and pony show.
For example:- A show or other event that has been organized in
His campaign was a real order to get people's support or to persuade them
dog and pony show, but he to buy something.
still didn't win the election.
To be like a rabbit in the
headlights.
For example:- To be so frightened or surprised that you cannot
As I walked into the exam move or think.
room, I was like a rabbit in
the headlights.
To pull a rabbit out of the
hat.
For example:- To surprise everyone by suddenly doing something
He really pulled a rabbit clever.
out of the hat by getting
those orders.
A wolf in sheep's clothing.
For example:-
I wouldn't borrow any Someone who is dangerous, but pretends to be
money off him if I were harmless.
you. He's a real wolf in
sheep's clothing.
Even a blind squirrel can
find a nut once in a while.
For example:-
I was surprised when he
Sometimes people can be correct just by being
came up with the solution,
lucky.
I didn't think he was that
clever. I guess that even a
blind squirrel can find a nut
once in a while.
To have a tiger by the tail. To have become associated with something
For example:- powerful and potentially dangerous.
Trying to deal with the
problem of drugs on the
streets is like grabbing a
tiger by the tail.
To talk turkey.
For example:-
We need to solve this To speak frankly and openly.
problem, and the only way
we'll do it is to talk turkey.
A wolf in sheep's clothing.
For example:-
I wouldn't borrow any Someone who is dangerous, but pretends to be
money off him if I were harmless.
you. He's a real wolf in
sheep's clothing.
To cry wolf.
For example:-
Don't take any notice of To raise a false alarm about something.
him, he's always crying
wolf.
The early bird catches
the worm.
For example:-
If you do something in a timely manner you will
I'll go to work early
succeed.
tomorrow. After all, the
early bird catches the
worm.
The worm has turned..
For example:-
Investors have become
When a usually meek person or group of people
skeptical of the ability of
becomes angry.
CEOs to pull higher stock
prices out of their hats. The
worm has turned.
To open a can of worms.
For example:-
When the government
To do something that exposes a very difficult issue
invited online petitions
or set of problems.
through its website, it
found it had opened a can
of worms.
A list as long as your arm.
For example:-
When I do a new
A very long list.
vocabulary unit my list of
things to do is as long as
your arm.
A shot in the arm.
For example:-
Something which has a sudden and positive effect
His son's visits were a real
on something.
shot in the arm for the old
man.
Give your right arm.
For example:-
To want something very much.
When I'm in Germany I'd
give my right arm for some
decent bacon.
The long arm of the law.
For example:-
I told him not to do it. You The police.
never escape the long arm
of the law.
To chance your arm.

For example:- To take a chance in order to get something that you


want.
He chanced his arm on the
horses.
To cost an arm and a leg.
For example:-
Extremely expensive.
Running this web site costs
me an arm and a leg.
Strong-arm
For example:-
To use force and threats to make people do what
The police used strong-arm
you demand.
tactics to break up the
protest.
To twist someone's arm.
For example:-
To persuade someone to do something they do not
She didn't want to study
want to do.
English, but the teacher
twisted her arm.
Back to back
For example:- To be close together and facing in opposite
British cities are full of back directions.
to back housing.
Back passage
For example:-
A polite phrase for rectum.
The doctor examined his
back passage.
Behind someone's back.
For example:-
To do something without them knowing, in a way
I bought the car behind his
which is unfair.
back and now he's really
angry.
The shirt off
someone's back.
For example:-
The last thing that someone has left.
He's so generous he'd give
you the shirt off his back, if
you asked him.
To break your back.
For example:-
I don't know why English
To work extremely hard.
teachers break their backs
for so little financial
reward.
To get off someone's back.
For example:-
If you got off her back To tell someone to stop criticizing.
about studying she might
do better.
To get someone's back up. To really annoy someone.
For example:-
She does it deliberately,
even though she knows I
don't like it, just to get my
back up.
To put your back into
something.
For example:- To work very hard at something.
Hermine really put her back
into learning English.
To scratch someone's back.
For example:-
If I give you the planning
permission you have to To offer to help someone if they help you.
vote for me on the council.
You scratch my back and
I'll scratch yours.
To stab someone in
the back.
For example:- To say nasty things about someone when they are
He thought they were his not there.
friends until they stabbed
him in the back.
To turn your back on
something/someone.
For example:- To stop being involved.
I had to turn my back on it
before I became ill.
To have your back to the
wall.
For example:- To be in a difficult or desperate situation.
The CEO had his back to
the wall, so he resigned.
Water off a duck's back.
For example:-
The crowd was booing but Criticisms of or warnings to a particular person that
he carried on anyway, it have no effect on that person.
was water off a duck's back
to him.
To show a bit of backbone.
For example:-
In the end she showed
To show fortitude and determination.
some backbone and she
refused to pay for the
course.
To go belly up.
For example:- To be ruined or defeated, especially financially.
The company went belly up Thanks to Sally Hiller
soon after.
To have a beer belly. A beer belly (or pot belly) is , is the accumulation of
For example:- visceral fat resulting in an increase in waist size.
Most women find a beer Aka: abdominal obesity, clinically known as central
belly very unattractive. obesity.
Body politic
For example: A politically organized group of people under a
Judge Sydney Harris single government.
ordered the crown to return
to the Body Politic all
material seized during the
raid.
Over my dead body.

For example:

When she asked me if she To be unwilling to allow something to happen.


could go to the pop
festival, I told her she
could go over my dead
body. She's only 15!
A bone of contention.
For example:-
Something that people argue about over a long
The rise in student fees is
period of time.
becoming a real bone of
contention for the coalition.
As smooth as a
baby's bottom,
For example:-
Very smooth.
Feel this cloth, it's as
smooth as a baby's
bottom."
Bottom out.
For example:-
To reach the lowest point in a continuously
The economy has bottomed
changing situation and to be about to improve.
out and must start to get
better this year.
Brain drain.
For example:-
The movement of people with education and skills
The country's brain drain
from their own country to another country where
began to reverse as
they are paid more for their work.
professors returned from
abroad.
To brain someone.
For example:-
To hit someone on the head.
During the robbery the
security guard was brained.
To be all brawn and
no brain.
For example:-
To be physically strong but not very intelligent.
The trouble with many
footballers is that they're
all brawn and no brains.
To beat your brains out.
For example:-
I've been beating my To spend a lot of time worrying about a problem
brains out trying to and thinking about how to deal with it.
remember more brain
idioms.
To pick someone's brain.
For example:- To ask for information or advice from someone who
People often pick my brain knows more about a subject than you do.
on the forum.
Scatterbrain /
Scatterbrained A flighty and disorganized person.
For example:-
She had to go home to get
her handbag. She's such a
scatterbrain!
Brainy
For example:-
Clever.
He always gets good
marks, he's so brainy.
To have a bun in the oven.
For example:-
I didn't know whether she To be pregnant.
had a bun in the oven, or
she'd just put on weight.
Calf length.
For example:- Clothing or boots that end at the middle point
She wore a calf length between the foot and the knee.
dress to the party.
Tongue in cheek.
For example:-
They said that he was
When you say something as a joke, although you
America's greatest
might appear to be serious.
President, although I
suspect it was tongue in
cheek.
Cheek by jowl.
For example:-
There were over twenty If things or people are cheek by jowl, they are very
people living in the house. close together.
They were living cheek by
jowl.
To beat your breast/chest.
For example:-
There's no point in beating To show grief or guilt in an obvious or public way.
your breast/chest about it -
she won't come back.
To get sth off your chest.
For example:- To tell someone about something that has been
When I told him I was worrying you or making you feel guilty for a long
leaving I was glad to get it time.
off my chest.
To put hairs on your chest.
For example:- To drink something that is alcoholic or eat
Get that down you, it'll put something nice.
hairs on your chest.
Chin up.
For example:-
A. I've got my exams Something you say to someone to tell them to have
tomorrow. confidence.
B. Chin up, it will all be
over soon.
Keep your chin up.
For example:- Something that you say to someone in a difficult
I told her to keep her chin situation in order to encourage them to be brave
up and everything would be and to try not to be sad.
ok in the end.
Take it on the chin.
To be brave and not complain when bad things
For example:-
happen to you or people criticise you.
In spite of the setbacks he
took it all on the chin and
set up the business
anyway.
To be all ears.
For example:-
When she heard their was
an important message for To be waiting eagerly to hear about something.
her, Spitz was all ears.
Thanks to Spitzgogo for a
timely reminder.
To box someone's ears.
For example:-
To hit someone on the ear, usually as a
The teacher threatened to
punishment.
box his ears if he didn't
stop being cheeky.
To not believe your ears.
For example:-
When he told me he had To be unable to believe something you hear.
won the lottery, I couldn't
believe my ears!
To be out on your ear.
For example:-
To be forced to leave somewhere because you have
One day, he was the CEO
done something wrong, or because your work is not
of a major company. The
good enough.
next, he was out on his
ear.
To go in one ear and out
the other.
For example:- Used when someone isn't paying attention to what
I could tell he wasn't really is being said, or obviously has no intention of acting
listening to my advice. It upon it.
was going in one ear and
out the other.
Elbow grease.
For example:-
If you use some elbow To do some hard work, especially when you are
grease on your furniture it cleaning something.
will make the wood look
lovely.
Elbow room.
For example:-
Enough space to move around in.
I daren't invite friends to
or
stay because there's no
The freedom to do what you want to do.
elbow room in my flat, it's
so small.
To give someone
the elbow.
For example:-
To end a romantic relationship with someone.
He's very depressed, his
girlfriend gave him the
elbow last week.
The naked eye
For example:-
If something can be seen with the naked eye, it can
Amoebas are too small to
be seen without the help of a microscope.
be seen with the naked
eye.
eye-catching When someone or something is particularly
For example:- attractive or noticeable.

She wore an eye-catching


blouse.
In the blink of an eye.
For example:-
Extremely quickly.
In the blink of an eye, she
was gone.
Keep an eye on something
/ someone.
For example:- To watch or look after something or someone.
He kept an eye on the dogs
whilst I went to the gym.
Keep an eye out for
something / someone.
For example:- To watch carefully for someone or something to
Whilst his partner robbed appear.
the bank, he kept an eye
out for the police.
Run your eye over.
For example:-
You should run your eye To look quickly at the whole of something.
over that message before
you send it.
See eye to eye.
For example:-
My husband and I agree on To share the same opinion.
most things, we usually see
eye to eye.
Turn a blind eye.
For example:-
To ignore something that you know is wrong.
Governments often turn a
blind eye to corruption.
To have eyes in the back of
your head.
For example:-
Used to describe people who always seem to know
My mother always knew
what you are doing (usually mothers or teachers).
when I had been naughty.
She had eyes in the back of
her head.
Keep your eyes peeled.
For example:-
There have been several
To watch very carefully.
burglaries in the area, so
keep your eyes peeled for
anything suspicious. .
To raise eyebrows.
For example:-
Her decision to appear in
To shock people.
Playboy raised a few
eyebrows.
Keep your feet on the
ground.
For example:- To have a realistic understanding of your own
It is hard to keep your feet ideas, actions, and decisions.
on the ground when you
suddenly become famous.
To stuff your face.
For example:
"He's always stuffing his To eat a lot, very quickly and greedily. (negative)
face. No wonder he's so
fat."
To face up to something.
For example:
"We have to face up to the To accept a usually unpleasant fact.
fact that we are losing
money hand over fist."
Itchy feet.
For example:-
I've been living in Germany To be restless and have a strong desire to travel.
for over 12 years, but now
I'm getting itchy feet.
To drag your feet.
For example:-
To be deliberately slow (usually because you don't
I suspect the government
want to do something).
is dragging its feet over
lowering taxes.
To get cold feet.
For example:-
To suddenly become too frightened to do something
They're getting married
you had planned to do.
next week - that's if he
doesn't get cold feet!
To put your feet up.
For example:-
After a long day shopping
To relax.
she looked forward to
putting her feet up with a
nice cup of tea.
To be a butterfingers.
For example:-
He had the ball, but he Somebody who often drops things
dropped it! What a
butterfingers!
Cross fingers. People, usually children, sometimes cross their
For example:- fingers behind their back when they're telling a lie
It's no good crossing your thinking it gives them immunity. (Not to be
fingers, I want to know the confused with keeping your fingers crossed for
truth! luck.)
"Have a finger in every
pie."

For example:
To be involved in lots of different things.
He was a very influential
man, he seemed to have a
finger in every pie.
Keep your fingers crossed.
For example:- To literally cross your middle finger over your first
I've got an exam tomorrow finger to try and hope for a bit of luck, or a positive
at 9am, so keep your outcome.
fingers crossed for me.
"To not lift a finger."
To be unwilling to help.
For example:
When I fell over no one
lifted a finger to help me
To point the finger.
For example:-
To accuse someone of being responsible for
He knew that his next door
something bad that has happened.
neighbour had pointed the
finger at him.
Pull your finger out.
For example:-
To start working harder.
To pass her exams she had
to pull her finger out.
To put your finger on
something.
For example:-
To discover the exact reason why a situation is the
She was worried about the
way it is, especially when something is wrong.
project, but couldn't put
her finger on what was
wrong.
To be
all fingers and thumbs.
For example:-
To be clumsy and unable to hold things steadily
While I was baking the
without fear of dropping or damaging them.
cake I dropped two eggs.
I'm all fingers and thumbs
today.
Best foot forward .
For example:-
If you put your best foot To do your very best.
forward you'll be sure to
pass the exam.
To put your foot in it.
For example:-
To say something by accident which embarrasses or
I really put my foot in it
upsets someone.
with Alison. I had no idea
she was married.
To get in somone's hair.
For example:-
She texts me every other To annoy someone.
minute. She really gets in
my hair.
The hair of the dog.
For example:-
I felt better after having a
An alcoholic drink taken when one has a hangover.
hair of the dog. One whisky
and the hangover was
gone.
To pull your hair out.
For example:-
She's got a test tomorrow To be very worried about something.
and she's pulling her hair
out.
At first-hand.
For example:-
If you experience something first-hand, you
The applicant should have
experience it yourself.
first-hand knowledge of
accounting procedures.
Hand over fist.
For example:-
To do something at a very fast rate.
They were making money
hand over fist.
To be a dab hand.
For example:-
To be very good at something.
She was a dab hand at
drawing.
To be an old hand.
For example:-
To have a lot of experience in something.
He's an old hand at difficult
negotiations.
To have a free hand.
For example:-
When it comes to what To have the power to do what you want.
appears on this web site, I
have a free hand.
To have a hand in
something.
For example:-
To be involved in something.
Hubby has a hand in
running the technical side
of the Network.
To have the upper hand.
For example:- To have power and control over someone or a
In the UK the upper classes situation.
still have the upper hand.
To be caught red handed.

For example:
To be discovered doing something illegal or wrong.
They caught him red-
handed as he tried to rob
the bank .
To be hand in glove.

For example: To have an extremely close relationship, especially


at work.
They make a great team.
They work hand in glove.
Many hands make light
work.
For example:
When everyone helps to do something, it gets done
We finished in no time at quickly.
all with everyone's help.
Many hands make light
work.
On your own head be it.
For example:-
Well if you want to go out Something we say when someone decides to ignore
clubbing the night before advice and do something we dissaprove of..
your final exams, on your
own head be it.
To have a head for heights.
Used to describe someone who isn't worried about
For example:-
being high up.
To clean the windows in
Dubai, you have to have a
good head for heights.
To have your head in the
clouds.
For example:- To be living in a fantasy, often used to describe
Lynne needs to concentrate people who are absentminded or impractical.
harder, her head is always Thanks to Martina
in the clouds. (From an old
school report of mine.)
To have eyes in the back of
your head.
For example:-
Used to describe people who always seem to know
My mother always knew
what you are doing (usually mothers or teachers).
when I had been naughty.
She had eyes in the back of
her head.
To be a bighead
For example:-
We call someone a bighead if they're acting in a
Ever since he came top of
conceited way.
the class, he's been a real
bighead.
Eat your heart out.
For example:-
If someone says eat your heart out followed by the
I'm going to pickle a
name of a famous person, they are joking that they
gummy bear in a jar of
are even better than that person.
formaldehyde. Eat your
heart out Damien Hirst!
Have a heart.
For example:-
Student: Have you marked
my homework yet? Ask someone to be kinder to you.
Teacher: Have a heart! You
only handed it in
yesterday!
Heartbroken
For example:-
Suffering from or exhibiting overwhelming sorrow,
She was heartbroken when
grief, or disappointment.
she found out she hadn't
got the job.
Heartwarming
For example:-
The story of the dog who Something that causes a feeling gladness and
saved the life of its owner pleasure.
was such a heartwarming
story.
Warmhearted
For example:-
She'll help anyone who Someone who is very kind and generous.
needs it, she's such a
warmhearted person.
To warm the cockles of
your heart
Something you see or hear that makes you feel
For example:-
happy because it shows that people can be kind
A baby's smile will warm
and good.
the cockles of even the
meanest person's heart.
A heel. A person who treats other people badly and
For example:- unfairly.
He took all her money, and
then left her. What a heel!
Achilles heel.
For example:- A small fault or weakness in a person or system
Alcohol was always his that can result in its failure.
Achilles heel.
Down at heel.
For example:-
To look shabby due to a lack of money
The restaurant looked very
down at heel.
To be under the heel.
For example:-
To be completely controlled by something or
The people rose up as one
someone.
to get out from under the
heel of oppression.
Cheek by jowl.
For example:-
There were over twenty If things or people are cheek by jowl, they are very
people living in the house. close together.
They were living cheek by
jowl.
To have a knees up.
For example:-
To have a party.
We had a good old knees
up at the pub.
To be near the knuckle.
For example:- If something (usually a joke or a remark) is near
He's just not very funny, all the knuckle, it is about sex in a way that some
his jokes are too near the people find offensive.
knuckle for my liking.
To rap someone's knuckles.
For example:- A light punishment which warns you not to behave
He's just been to the boss in a particular way again.
to get his knuckles rapped.
A knuckle sandwich.
For example:-
If he keeps on annoying A punch.
those men, he'll end up
with a knuckle sandwich.
A white knuckle ride.
For example:-
Have you been on the
A scary ride.
Oblivion at Alton Towers?
It's a real white knuckle
ride.
Break a leg.
For example:- Used to wish someone good luck, especially used in
It's your debut tonight, the theatre.
isn't it? Well break a leg.
To cost an arm and a leg.
For example:-
Extremely expensive.
Running this web site costs
me an arm and a leg.
To give someone a leg up.
To help someone onto or over something or to help
For example:-
them improve their situation, especially at work.
She needed a leg up to get
on the horse.
To pull someone's leg.
For example:-
To try to persuade someone to believe something
She was very shocked until
which is not true as a joke.
she realised he was only
pulling her leg.
To stretch your legs.
For example:-
If I have been sitting at the To move around after having been in one place or
computer for too long, I position for a long time.
need to get up and stretch
my legs.
To talk the hind leg(s) off a
donkey.
For example:-
To talk for a long time without stopping.
He is so boring. He could
talk the hind legs of a
donkey.
Many a slip twixt cup
and lip
For example:
"They thought they had the Used to imply that even when the outcome of an
contract all sewn up, but event seems certain, things can still go wrong.
the client didn't sign in the
end. There's many a slip
twixt cup and lip."
To cross someone's mind.
For example:- To think about something or someone.
Do I ever cross your mind?
To have a big mouth.
For example:-
If someone says you have a big mouth, they think
When I told them he had a
you talk too much, especially about things that
girlfriend they looked
should be secret
surprised. Me and my big
mouth!
To be down in the mouth.
For example:-
Governments often turn a To feel sad or depressed.
blind eye to corruption.
Word of mouth
For example:-
She was looking really
In speech but not in writing.
down in the mouth, so I
asked her what the matter
was.
A muffintop
For example:-
The paparazzi like nothing
The roll of flesh that is visible above a waistband.
better than to photograph
a famous actress sporting a
muffintop.
To have a brass neck.
For example:- Someone who is extremely confident about
He's got a brass neck to themselves and are unable to understand that their
take time off when we're so behaviour is unacceptable to others.
busy.
To breathe down sb's neck. To stay so close to someone, watching everything
For example:- that they do, that it's annoying.
It's awful having a boss
who breathes down your
neck all the time.
To get it in the neck.
For example:- To be punished or severely criticized for something
She'll get it in the neck for that you have.
not doing her homework.
To stick your neck out.
For example:-
She really stuck her neck To take a risk.
out expanding the business
during a recession.
To be up to your neck in
sth,
To be very involved in a situation, or to have too
For example:-
much of the thing stated.
She's up to her neck in
work.
A bag (bundle) of nerves.
For example:-
To be very nervous.
Before the exam I was a
bag of nerves.
A lot of nerve.
For example:-
He asked me to do his To be brash, rude or arrogent.
homework for him. What a
lot of nerve!
To get on
someone's nerves.
For example:-
The teacher really gets on To annoy someone.
my nerves when she goes
on about correct spelling
and grammar.
To win by a nose.
For example:-
To win by a very small margin.
She won by a nose. It was
a very close race.
Cut off your nose to spite
your face.
For example:-
She should have gone with To do something because you are angry, even if it
them, she would have is not in your best interest.
enjoyed it. She's just
cutting off her nose to spite
her face.
Keep your nose to the
grindstone.
For example:-
If you want to pass your To work hard.
exams you'll have to keep
your nose to the
grindstone.
It's no skin off my nose.
For example:- You can use this expression to show that you don't
It's no skin off my nose if I care if something happens or not.
win or lose.
To powder your nose.
For example:-
When a woman says she is going to "powder her
Excuse me a moment, I'm
nose", she means she is going to the toilet.
just going to powder my
nose.
To get up sb's nose.
For example:-
People who don't clean up To annoy someone.
after their dogs really get
up my nose.
Turn your nose up at
something.
For example:-
To not like something because you think it is not
She turned her nose up at
good enough for you.
my homemade cakes, she
only likes shop bought
ones.
To be head and
shoulders above
For example:-
Joe Kinnear claims he is
"head and shoulders"
above all the other Used to describe someone who is superior.
directors of football in the
Premier League having
been a manager in the
past. Mirror 2013 2nd Jul
2013
A shoulder to cry on
For example:-
Used to describe someone who gives you sympathy
When my mother died, I
when you are upset.
really needed a shoulder to
cry on.
Skeleton in the closet /
cupboard. If you have a skeleton in the cupboard it means
For example:- you have are hiding a shocking secret about
Nearly every family has a yourself.
skeleton in the cupboard.
To have a thick skin. / To
be thick skinned.
For example:- If you are thick-skinned, you do not notice or get
If you work as a upset when people criticize you.
salesperson, you soon
develop a thick skin.
To have a thin skin. / To be
thin skinned. If you are thin-skinned, you get upset when people
For example:- criticize you, or think people are critisizing you
Think skinned people when they aren't.
shouldn't go into politics.
By the skin of your teeth.
For example:-
To only just manage to do something.
He escaped by the skin of
his teeth.
To get your teeth into
something.
To get completely involved in something.
For example:-
He did really well in his
exams after he got his
teeth into learning English.
A kick in the teeth.
For example:- To feel very disappointed when someone lets you
Finding our content on down, or life treats you unfairly. (Unless it's a real
other web pages is a real kick in the teeth during a fight.)
kick in the teeth for us.
To jump down
someone's throat.
For example:- To react angrily to something that someone says or
I know I annoyed her, but does.
she didn't have to jump
down my throat.
To ram something down
someone's throat.
For example:- To try and force someone to accept something
She's a vegetarian, but she against their will.
doesn't ram her views
down your throat.
To have a frog in
your throat.
For example:- To have a tight feeling in your throat and be unable
Excuse me (cough cough), to speak clearly until you give a slight cough.
I've got a bit of a frog in
my throat.
To have a green thumb.
If you have a green thumb or even green thumbs it
For example:-
means you are good at gardening, or growing
Her garden won many
plants.
prizes. People said she had
For Competent
green thumbs.
To twiddle your thumbs.
For example:-
To do nothing or to have nothing useful to do while
They kept me waiting for
you are waiting for something to happen.
two hours with nothing to
do but twiddle my thumbs.
Toe the line.
For example:
He'll have to learn to toe To conform to certain rules or standards.
the line, if he wants to get
on in this organisation.
To keep on your toes.
For example: To keep on your toes, or to keep someone else on
Aladdin and Leo will have their toes, makes them stay alert and conscious of
to keep on their toes to everything going on.
find the Live Chat session.
To bite your tongue.
For example:-
When you stop yourself from saying something
Barack Obama said he bit
because you realise it might cause offense or be
his tongue many times
hurtful.
during his primary fight
against Hillary Clinton.
Has the cat got
your tongue?
For example:- Something someone else might say to you if you
I know that you know the don't say anything to them.
answer to this question.
What's the matter, has the
cat got your tongue?
The tip of your tongue.
For example:-
The feeling you get when you know something, but
His name is on the tip of
you just can't actually remember it.
my tongue.
A slip of the tongue.
For example:-
When you say something that you did not mean to
Be careful what you say,
say.
one slip of the tongue and
we're all in trouble.
Tongue in cheek.
For example:-
They said that he was
When you say something as a joke, although you
America's greatest
might appear to be serious.
President, although I
suspect it was tongue in
cheek.
To be tongue tied.
For example:- Describes the feeling (familiar to many language
I knew I should have said learners) that you get when you can't seem to find
something to make her feel the right words to say, and so you are unable to
better, but I was speak. As if your tongue were tied in knots.
completely tongue tied.
To be long in the tooth.
For example:-
To be too old for something.
He's a bit long in the tooth
for her.
An anorak
For example:
"He's got hundreds of old
Used to describe a dull person or an individual with
Japanese robots that he
a boring hobby who insists on talking about it.
insists on showing to
anyone who visits. He's
such an anorak."
To hit someone below
the belt.

For example:
To do something in an unfair or cowardly way.
"I think it was a bit below
the belt when he lied to
her."
To have something under
your belt.
For example: If you have something under your belt, you have
"Hermine has years of completed something successfully, and it may be
English practice under her useful to you in the future.
belt. One day it will really
help her."
Get dressed in your
best bib and tucker.
For example:
To dress in your best clothes.
"Alex wore his best bib and
tucker when he got
married."
To have a bee in
To be obsessed about something.
your bonnet.
For example:-
She's got a real bee in her
bonnet about that new
advertising campaign, she's
even phoned the ACA!
Birthday suit. (See below)
For example:-
"He won't wear pyjamas, To be in the nude.
he sleeps in his birthday
suit."
Buckle down.

For example:
To put in a lot of effort into doing something.
"He realised before the
exam that it was time to
buckle down to some real
work."
If the cap fits, wear it.
(Often shortened to "If the
cap fits."

For example: Said to someone who is guilty of something bad,


that they should accept criticism.
"He complained about
being blamed for
everything, but I told him,
if the cap fits."
To put on your
thinking cap.

For example: To start to think seriously about how to solve a


problem.
"The economy is in a mess,
it's time for everyone to
put their thinking caps on."
Wolf in sheep's clothing.

For example:
To pretend to be harmless when your really
dangerous.
"I don't trust him, I think
he's a wolf in sheep's
clothing."
Hot under the collar.
For example:-
"She got very hot under
To be very angry.
the collar when I told her
someone had scratched her
car."
Off-the-cuff.

For example:
Without preparation.
"He made a stupid off-the-
cuff remark."
To dress someone down.
To tell someone off for doing something bad.
For example:

"He was given a real


dressing down for making
such a stupid mistake."
Mutton dressed as lamb.

For example:
To be dressed too young for your age.
"In her mini skirt and short
tank top, she looked like
mutton dressed as lamb."
Dressed to kill.

For example:
To make yourself look really good by wearing your
best clothes.
"She had bought a new
outfit and was dressed to
kill."
Dressed up like a dog's
dinner.

For example: To be overdressed

"She was dressed up like a


dog's dinner."
Fit like a glove.

For example:
Fits very well.
"The dress fitted her like a
glove."
To be hand in glove.

For example: To have an extremely close relationship, especially


at work.
"They make a great team.
They work hand in glove."
To take the gloves off.
For example: To argue or compete without controlling your
They took the gloves off actions or feelings.
and suspended trading.
To treat someone with
kid gloves.
For example:
After the disappointment of
To deal with someone very gently or carefully.
not getting into her
preferred university, the
teachers treated her with
kid gloves.
At the drop of a hat.

For example:
To make a decision or do something very quickly
without thinking about it.
"If he asked me out I
would go at the drop of a
hat."
Old hat

For example:
Not new or different.
"I've been doing this job
for so long it's all old hat
now."
Take one's hat off to
someone.

For example:
To admire or respect someone.
"He always works so hard
on his English, you have to
take your hat off too him."
Keep something under
your hat.

For example: To keep something you are told or know in strictest


confidence.
"You can trust me, I'll keep
anything you tell me under
my hat."
To talk / speak through
your hat.

For example:
To talk nonsense; especially on a subject that one
"He kept telling everyone professes to be knowledgeable about but in fact is
what to do, but he was ignorant of.
speaking through his hat,
as he didn't have a clue
and things just kept getting
worse."
Knickers in a twist.

For example:

"Dame Kiri Te Kanawa To get upset.


really got her knickers in a
twist after being compared
to Susan Boyle from the TV
reality show."
To air one's dirty linen in
public.

For example: To have your private or personal problems


discussed in public.
"The president was
embarrassed to have his
dirty linen aired in public."
Have ants in your pants.

For example:
To be restless or incapable of sitting still.
"She never sits still, it's as
though she's got ants in
her pants."
Burn a hole in
one's pocket.

For example:
To have money that you just want to spend.
"He was never able to save
any money, it always
burned a hole in his
pocket."
To be in your glad rags.
For example:-
"She must be going to a To be dressed up in your party clothes.
party, she was in her glad
rags."
Bursting at the seams.

For example:
To be very busy or overcrowded.
"The airport was so busy it
was bursting at the
seams."
Keep your shirt on.

For example:
Don't lose your temper.
"Stop shouting, keep your
shirt on!"
Lose one's shirt.

For example: To lose all your money (usually in a business


venture or by gambling).
"He went to the races and
lost his shirt."
Someone who will give you
the shirt off their back.

For example:
Used to describe someone who is very generous.
"He's so generous, he
would give you the shirt off
his back."
Stuffed shirt.

For example:
To be to rigid or formal.
"He never has a laugh or a
joke, he's a real stuffed
shirt."
In someone else's shoes.

For example:
To be in someone else's place or position.
"I hear he is very ill, I
would hate to be in his
shoes."
On a shoestring budget. To have a very small amount of money for
something.
For example:

"When I went to university


I had to live on a
shoestring budget."
Card up your sleeve.

For example:
To have something in reserve in case it is needed.
"When he grinned like that
I knew he had a card up his
sleeve.
Roll up your sleeves.

For example:
Prepare to work hard.
"We'll get the job finished if
we all roll up our sleeves."
Put a sock in it.
For example:
Used to tell someone to shut up.
"He wouldn't stop
complaining, so I told him
to put a sock in it."
To be in your birthday suit.
(See below).

For example:
To be completely naked.
"When I walked into the
bathroom she was just
standing their in her
birthday suit!"
Wear the trousers.

For example:
To be the boss of a family or household.
"His wife is always telling
him what to do. You can
tell who wears the trousers
in their house."
Keep it zipped.

For example: To keep quiet about something. (Usually with an


implied threat.)
"He was warned to keep it
zipped, or else."
To black out.
For example:-
"She blacked out this To lose consciousness.
morning, so I told her to go
to the doctors."
To black out a memory.
For example:-
To forget something completely.
"I've completely blacked
out what happened before
and after the crash, I just
don't want to remember."
To be in the black.
For example:-
"It was so nice to be in the
To be clear of debt.
black at the end of the
month. My new budget is
obviously working."
To be black and blue.
For example:-
To be badly bruised.
"She was black and blue
after the accident."
To give someone
a black look.
For example:-
"I always knew when my To look at someone in a disapproving way.
mother was annoyed with
me, she would give me
such a black look."
To look as black as
thunder.
For example:-
To look really angry.
"When I told them I was
leaving, they looked as
black as thunder."
To be black and white.
For example:-
"It was easy to decide, A very clear choice that causes no confusion.
everything was black and
white."
Black and white thinking.
For example:-
"Some people think people To have a simplistic and certain opinion about
are good or bad, but not things.
everything is so black and
white."
The pot calling the
kettle black.
For example:-
"When politicians say that To accuse someone of being a hypocrite.
bankers have been lying,
it's like the pot calling the
kettle black."
To blacken someone's
name.
For example:-
To sully or defame someone.
"This scandal will really
blacken his name, whether
or not he's guilty."
To feel (be) blue.
For example:-
"She's a bit blue at the To feel unhappy or depressed.
moment, she got her exam
results."
To be black and blue.
For example:- To be badly bruised.
"She was black and blue
after the accident."
To come out of the blue.
For example:-
If something comes out of the blue it's a big
"Her decision to travel
surprise.
round the world came out
of the blue."
To scream blue murder.
For example:-
"They screamed blue To protest loudly.
murder when I told them
there'd be a test."
Flying colours.
For example:-
"All his hard work paid off, Conspicuous success.
he passed the exam with
flying colours."
To be off colour.
For example:-
"I decided not to go To feel ill.
shopping because I felt a
bit off colour."
To be green around the
gills.
For example:-
"When I offered Xeb a To look ill.
Marmite sandwich, she
went green around the
gills."
To be green with envy.
For example:-
To be jealous or envious of someone.
"They've got a brand new
52" TV. I'm so green!"
To be green ¹
For example:-
"Don't leave him To be inexperienced.
unsupervised, he's a bit
green."
To be green ²
For example:-
"They have solar panels To live in a way that helps the environment.
and a rainwater system,
they're very green."
To get / give
the green light.
For example:-
To give someone permission to do something.
"The project got the green
light, so we start next
week"
To buy a lemon.
For example:-
"All those people who To buy something useless or defective.
bought a new Toyota have
bought a lemon."
Red sky at night, If the sky is red in
shepherd's delight. the evening, at
Red sky in morning, sunset, the
shepherd's warning. weather should be
nice the next day.
If the sky is red in
the morning, at
sunrise, the
weather will be
bad.

(Shepherd's look
after sheep, so
they prefer nice
weather.)

Red tape.

Excessive
For example:- regulation
(especially form
"I'd like to set up my own filling) that is
considered overly
business, but there's too bureaucratic.
much red tape!"

To be a red.

For example:-

To be a
"They're always seeing reds communist.
under the beds. I don't
know what they're so afraid
of."

To caught red handed.

For example:-

To be caught doing
"They tried a bit of something wrong.
shoplifting, but they were
caught red handed by the
security guard."

To be in the red.

To be in debt.
For example:-
"I'm always in the red
before the end of the
month. I need to budget
more carefully."

To see red.

For example:-

To be very angry.
"When they told me they'd
broken the window, I saw
red."

A scarlet woman

For example:- A woman who is


notorious because
people believe she
"She was labelled a scarlet has too many men
woman when she became in her life.
pregnant."

To wave (raise / carry)


a white flag.

For example:-
To surrender or
give up.
"I think it's time to wave
the white flag and declare
bankruptcy."

To be black and white.

For example:-
A very clear choice
that causes no
"It was easy to decide, confusion.
everything was black and
white."

Black and white thinking.


To have a
simplistic and
For example:- certain opinion
about things.
"Some people think people
are good or bad, but not
everything is so black and
white."

To be whiter than white.

For example:-
Someone who
never does
"I can't believe he's guilty, anything wrong.
he always seemed to be
whiter than white."

To look as white as a
sheet.

For example:-
To look very pale
and shocked.
"She turned as white as a
sheet and then she
fainted."

To be yellow.

For example:-

To be cowardly.
"They called him yellow,
just because he wouldn't
fight."

To bite of more than you


can chew.

For example:-
To take on more
than you are
Sometimes Lynne thinks capable of doing.
she has bitten off more
than she can chew running
the Network.

To bite your tongue. When you stop


yourself from
saying something
For example:- because you
realise it might
cause offense or
Barack Obama said he bit
be hurtful.
his tongue many times
during his primary fight
against Hillary Clinton.

Chew the fat

For example:
To chat.

"I enjoy meeting my


friends to chew the fat."

To bite of more than you


can chew.

For example:- To take on more


than you are
capable of doing.
Sometimes Lynne thinks
running the Network is
more than she can chew.

Coffee break

To take a short
For example: break from work to
rest and drink
coffee, smoke a
"I usually have a coffee cigarette etc..
break around 10.30 am."

Many a slip twixt cup and


lip

For example: Used to imply that


even when the
outcome of an
"They thought they had the event seems
contract all sewn up, but certain, things can
the client didn't sign in the still go wrong.
end. There's many a slip
twixt cup and lip."

"Cup of tea." Used to describe


something one
enjoys or does
For example: well.
"I really enjoyed the film, it
was just my cup of tea."

Dish the dirt

For example:
To spread gossip
"He offered to dish the dirt about someone.
on her, but I told him I
don't listen to gossip."

Go Dutch
To share the bill
for a meal or a
For example:- night out. Each
person pays for
what they have
"It's usually better to go
eaten or the bill is
Dutch on a first date." simply split.

Eat dirt

To act humble,
For example:
accept another`s
insult or bad
"He bullied his employees treatment.
and made them eat dirt."

Eat humble pie

For example:
To be humbled,
admit one`s error
"She had to eat humble pie and apologize.
when he proved she was
wrong."

Eat like a pig

For example:
To have bad table
manners.
"He has terrible table
manners, he eats like a
pig."
Eat like a horse

For example:
To have a good
appetite.
"She has a very healthy
appetite, she eats like a
horse."

Eat one`s words

For example: To take back


something one has
said, admit
"I'd told him off but had to something is not
true.
eat my words, when he
proved I was wrong."

To have one's cake


and eat it

For example:
To do/eat/use
something until it
"He was never at home, is gone and still
not want to give it
but was surprised when up.
she left him. He always
wanted to have his cake
and eat it."

Out to lunch

For example:
To behave crazily
or madly.
"I always thought she
acted strangely, she was
totally out to lunch."

To have a full plate. or To


have a lot on your plate.

To have a lot to
For example: do.

"Between work and the


web site I have a full
plate."

To want someone's head


on a platter.

For example:
To be very angry
"When he read his with someone.

biography, he demanded
the author's head on a
platter."

Can literally mean


To be spoon-fed. to be fed with a
spoon.
For example: But...
It can mean to be
treated in a way
She refused to be spoon- that discourages
fed English vocabulary. She independent
thought or action,
learnt to be an independent as by
learner. overindulgence or
provided with
knowledge or
information in an
oversimplified way.
To stuff your face.

For example: To eat a lot, very


quickly and
"He's always stuffing his greedily.
(negative)
face. No wonder he's so
fat."

Suck up

For example:
To be really nice to
someone in order
"I never liked her, she was to gain favour.
always sucking up to the
boss."

To take a short
Tea break break from work to
rest and drink tea,
smoke a cigarette
For example: etc..
"Do you want to come with
me for a cigarette on our
tea break?"

To be a bookworm.

For example:
Someone who
reads a lot.
"He's always reading. He's
a real bookworm."

To be a copycat.

For example:
Someone who does
"She always copies my or says exactly the
same as someone
work, she's such a
else.
copycat."

To learn something off by


heart.
To learn something
For example: in such a way that
you can say it from
memory.
"I learnt all the vocabulary
off by heart."

To learn the hard way.

For example:
To have a bad
"I told her not to marry experience.

him. But she had to learn


the hard way."

To learn the ropes.

To learn how to do
For example: a job.

"She's new here and is still


learning the ropes."

To learn your lesson

For example:
To suffer a bad
experience and
"I got very drunk once and
know not to do it
was really sick. I won't do again
it again, I learnt my
lesson."

To live and learn

For example: Said when you


hear or discover
"I never knew that she was something which is
surprising:
married. Oh well, you live
and learn."

The school of hard knocks.

For example: Often said about


people who haven't
had an easy life.
"He learnt the hard way at
the school of hard knocks."

To be a swot.

For example: A student who is


ridiculed for
"They called her a swot studying
excessively.
because she was always
reading books."

To teach an old dog new


tricks.
The older you are
For example: the more set in
your ways you
become.
"He could never learn how
to use the Internet. Just
shows you can't teach an
old dog new tricks."

To be teacher's pet.

For example:
To be the favourite
pupil of the
"She always has the right teacher.
answer. She's a real
teacher's pet."

To teach someone a lesson.

For example: To do something to


someone, usually
to punish them.
"I hit him hard on the nose.
That taught him a lesson."

To teach your grandmother


to suck eggs.

For example:
To give advice to
"He tried to tell me how to someone about a
subject that they
drive and I told him not to already know more
try and teach your about than you
grandmother to suck eggs.
I've been driving for
years."

The three Rs.

For example: Used to refer to


the basic areas of
education: reading,
"Some children are leaving writing and
school without even the arithmetic.
basic three Rs."

The University of Life.


People who never
went on to higher
For example: education often
say this.
"I studied at the University
of Life."

With flying colours.

For example: If you do


something such as
pass an exam with
"She got into the university
flying colours, you
of her choice, because she do it very
passed all her exams with successfully.
flying colours."

To be a bookworm.

For example:
Someone who
reads a lot.
"He's always reading. He's
a real bookworm."

To be a copycat.

For example:
Someone who does
"She always copies my or says exactly the
same as someone
work, she's such a
else.
copycat."

To learn something off by


heart.
To learn something
For example: in such a way that
you can say it from
memory.
"I learnt all the vocabulary
off by heart."

To learn the hard way.

For example: To have a bad


experience.
"I told her not to marry
him. But she had to learn
the hard way."

To learn the ropes.

For example:
To learn how to do
a job.
"She's new here and is still
learning the ropes."

To learn your lesson

For example:
To suffer a bad
experience and
"I got very drunk once and know not to do it
was really sick. I won't do again
it again, I learnt my
lesson."

To live and learn

For example: Said when you


hear or discover
"I never knew that she was something which is
surprising:
married. Oh well, you live
and learn."

The school of hard knocks.

For example: Often said about


people who haven't
had an easy life.
"He learnt the hard way at
the school of hard knocks."

To be a swot.

For example: A student who is


ridiculed for
"They called her a swot studying
excessively.
because she was always
reading books."

The older you are


To teach an old dog new the more set in
your ways you
become.
tricks.

For example:

"He could never learn how


to use the Internet. Just
shows you can't teach an
old dog new tricks."

To be teacher's pet.

For example:
To be the favourite
pupil of the
"She always has the right teacher.
answer. She's a real
teacher's pet."

To teach someone a lesson.

For example: To do something to


someone, usually
to punish them.
"I hit him hard on the nose.
That taught him a lesson."

To teach your grandmother


to suck eggs.

For example:
To give advice to
"He tried to tell me how to someone about a
subject that they
drive and I told him not to already know more
try and teach your about than you
grandmother to suck eggs.
I've been driving for
years."

The three Rs.


Used to refer to
the basic areas of
For example:
education: reading,
writing and
"Some children are leaving arithmetic.
school without even the
basic three Rs."

The University of Life.

For example: People who never


went on to higher
education often
"I studied at the University say this.
of Life."

With flying colours.

For example: If you do


something such as
pass an exam with
"She got into the university flying colours, you
of her choice, because she do it very
passed all her exams with successfully.
flying colours."

One / Two ... horse race

For example: A competition or


election which
General elections in the UK don't have many
likely winners.
are generally a two horse
race.

Election fever

For example:
The frenzy the
The media is suffering from media goes into
whenever a
election fever, you can't general election is
switch the TV on without announced.
being bombarded by
political pundits.

Hot air

For example: Empty,


exaggerated, or
pretentious talk.
Politicians always talk a
load of hot air.
Hung parliament

For example:

A parliament in
Everyone is saying there which no one
will be a hung parliament political party has
an outright
this election and the parties
majority.
will have to make alliances
with the smaller parties to
form a majority.

Toe the party line

For example: To conform to the


rules or standards
of the political
"He'll have to learn to toe party you belong
the party line, if he wants to.
to get on."

Body politic

For example:

A politically
"Judge Sydney Harris organized group of
ordered the crown to return people under a
single government.
to the Body Politic all
material seized during the
raid."

A political football
A problem that
doesn't get solved
For example: because the
politics of the issue
get in the way, or
"Women's health issues are
the issue is very
always a political football." controversial.

A political hot potato

For example: Something


potentially
dangerous or
"The expenses scandal is a embarassing.
political hot potato."
Political machinery.

For example:-

The political machinery has The way politics


yet to understand the runs in the UK.

opportunity or threat of the


internet and social
websites.

Politically correct /
incorrect (PC)
To use or not use
language that will
For example: cause offence -
often shortened to
"Bernard Manning was PC.
never very PC."

Press the flesh.

For example:

To shake hands.
"He has to do a lot of flesh
pressing in the run up to
the elections."

To get on / off your


soapbox
To talk a lot about
a subject you feel
strongly about. If
For example: someone tells you
to "get off your
soapbox" they
"Hyde Park, in London is
think you're talking
famous for people who get too much about
on their soapbox to discuss that subject.
issues that concern them."

Throw in the towel.

For example:
To give up

They knew they were going


to lose, so they threw in
the towel.

To vote with your feet.

For example:

To leave
I told her that if she didn't
like the job she could
always vote with her feet.

The class clown

For example:
A pupil who
frequently makes
He never got over his jokes or pokes fun.
reputation of being the
class clown.

To make a clown of
yourself

For example: To make yourself


appear foolish or
stupid.
He shouldn't have tried to
flirt with her, he made a
real clown of himself.

Feature film

For example:
A film that is
usually 90 or more
I hate having to watch the minutes long.
adverts that come on
before the feature film.

To be in the limelight.

For example:-
To be the centre of
Ignore her, she'd do attention.

anything to keep herself in


the limelight.
Museum piece

Something that is
For example:
very old-fashioned
and should no
Our television is a museum longer be used.
piece, but it still works.

A dog and pony show.


A show or other
For example: event that has
been organized in
order to get
The whole party was just a people's support or
dog and pony show for the to persuade them
to buy something.
politicians.

The show must go on


Something that we
For example: say which means
that an event or
activity must
I've got a terrible cold, but continue even if
I've got to go to work. The there are problems
or difficulties.
show must go on.

To run the show

For example:
To be in charge of
an organization or
She started off sorting the an activity.
mail, but now she's running
the show.

A show stopper
An event that
For example: provokes such a
strong reaction
from it stops
His speech was a real show whatever's
stopper. happening.

To sing your heart out.

To sing with vigour


For example: or intensity.

Susan Boyle sang her heart


out after being laughed at
and whistled at by the
audience.

To be star-studded

For example: Lots of famous


people in a film,
play etc.
"It was a star-studded
event."

To steal the show

To win the greatest


For example:
praise and to be
better than anyone
Her acceptance speech else.
really stole the show.

age Idiom Explanation


"... apple of ..... eye."

For example:
Someone that one likes a lot.

"She was the apple of his


eye."

"An apple a day keeps


the doctor away."

For example:
Eating fruit is good/healthy for you.
"The doctor told her to
eat more fresh fruit,
after all an apple a day
keeps the doctor away."

"Bring home the bacon."

For example: To earn a living for the family.

"He felt it was his


responsibility to bring
home the bacon."

"A bean counter."

For example:-

"Even though they had


An accountant.
made a profit, they laid
people off, because the
bean counters told them
they would make more
money."

"To be full of beans."

For example:-
To have lots of energy.
"They couldn't get to
sleep because they were
full of beans."

"To spill the beans."

For example:-
To disclose something confidential.
"Obviously they would
have spilt the beans if
they had known."

"Bread and butter."

For example: Basic needs of life


(food,shelter,clothing).
"He was talking about
bread and butter issues."

To have a bun in the


oven.

To be pregnant.
For example:-

I didn't know whether


she had a bun in the
oven, or she'd just put
on weight.

To be a butterfingers.

For example:-
Somebody who often drops things
He had the ball, but he
dropped it! What a
butterfingers!

Butter someone up.

For example:
To flatter someone to try to get their
favor or friendship.
"He was always buttering
up the boss hoping for
promotion."

Butter wouldn't melt in


his / her mouth.

For example:- If butter wouldn't melt in someone's


mouth, they look as if they would
"No one ever thought never do anything wrong although
she was naughty, she you think they would.
always looked as if
butter wouldn't melt in
her mouth."

"A piece of cake."

For example:

To find something easy to do.


"She knew she had
passed the English
exam, it was a piece of
cake."

"The icing on the cake." Something nice that is added to


something else that is already good.
For example:
"I was happy to pass the
exam, the high mark
was just the icing on the
cake."

"to sell like hot cakes."

For example:
To sell quickly or rapidly.
"The new Spice Girls'
album sold like hot
cakes."

"A big cheese"

For example:
An important person, a leader
(usually about business).
"Anita Roddick was the
big cheese at the Body
Shop."

"Chalk and cheese"

For example:
To be the complete opposite of
"I'm not surprised someone.
they're getting divorced,
they were always chalk
and cheese."

"Another bite at
the cherry."

For example: To be given a another chance of


doing or getting something.
"Frank got another bite
at the cherry when he
resat his exams."

"To cherry-pick."
To choose only the best people or
For example:- things in a way that is not fair.

Grammar schools often


get accused of cherry-
picking the best pupils.

To cook the books.

For example:
To modify financial statements and
"We only made a profit accounting information,
especially illegally.
last year because our
accountant cooked the
books."

What's cooking?

For example:

What's happening?
A: Hey guys! What's
cooking?
B: Nothing much. Same
old, same old.

"As cool as
a cucumber."

For example:
To remain calm under pressure.
"Although he was driving
at 110 mph James Bond
was as cool as a
cucumber."

"A cowardy custard."

For example: A way of saying someone is a


coward. Maybe because custard is
Me: "I'm scared of yellow.
spiders."
Hubby: "They're only
little! Don't be such a
cowardy custard."

"A bad egg."

For example:
A bad person, to be avoided.
"He never phoned his
mother. He was a bad
egg."

"Egg .... on."

For example:
To urge someone to do something
"He was always in (usually negative).
trouble at school, his
class mates always
egged him on."

"Have egg on one's


face."

For example:
To be caught out or embarrassed.
"He ended up with egg
on his face, when she
found out he had been
lying."

"You can't make


an omelette without
breaking eggs."

For example: To do something to the detriment of


something else.
"He worked so hard to
make the company a
success it made him ill,
but you can't make an
omelette without
breaking eggs."

"To over egg the


pudding."

For example:
To exaggerate or to ruin something
Heather Mills was by trying too hard to improve it.
accused “over-egging
the pudding” in a bid to
secure a larger divorce
settlement.

"To put all your eggs in


one basket"

For example:
To risk everything on one person or
"You shouldn't invest all thing.
your money in Microsoft,
it would be like putting
all your eggs in one
basket."

"To walk on eggshells."

For example:-
To try hard not to upset someone or
Everyone in the family something.
had to walk on eggshells
when he was in a bad
mood.

"To not give a fig for


something or someone."

To not care about something or


For example:-
someone.

She didn't give a fig


about traditional
language learning
methods.

"A different kettle


of fish"

For example:-
A different matter or issue.
"Oh! They want
THANKS TO OTREBS
to place an order? That's
a different kettle of fish.
Of course I'll talk to
them."

"A pretty or fine kettle


of fish"

For example:-
A difficult or awkward situation.

"They're divorced, and THANKS TO OTREBS


someone's sat them next
to each other - that's a
fine kettle of fish."

To have bigger fish to


fry.

For example:- To have more important things to


do.
He couldn't stay long,
with this merger he has
bigger fish to fry.

Like a fish out of water.

For example:-
To be uncomfortable in a particular
When she started talking situation
about her personal
problems, he looked like
a fish out of water.

Something is fishy. Used when something is suspicious.


For example:-

"There was something


fishy in the way he
paused before answering
the question."

To have bigger fish


to fry.

For example:- To have more important things to


do.
He couldn't stay long,
with this merger he has
bigger fish to fry.

Sour grapes.

For example:-
Used when someone is disparaging
He was really sarcastic about something just because they
about my new job, but I can't have it.
think it's just sour
grapes, because he
hasn't got one.

To buy a lemon.

For example:-
To buy something useless or
defective.
"All those people who
bought a new Toyota
have bought a lemon."

"Cry over spilt milk."

For example:
To cry or complain about something
that has already happened.
"It's no good crying over
spilt milk, what's done is
done."
Mutton dressed (up) as
lamb.

For example:-
Used to describe a woman who is
"She's over fifty and dressed in a style that is more
should really stop suitable for a much younger woman.
wearing mini skirts if she
doesn't want to look like
mutton dressed as
lamb."

"As keen as mustard"

For example:

To be very eager.
"He was as keen as
mustard because he
really wanted to win the
competition."

"Nutty as a fruitcake."

For example:
To be slightly crazy.
"People say I'm as nutty
as a fruitcake to run this
website."

"To use a sledgehammer


to crack a nut."

For example:

To do something with more force


than is necessary to achieve the
" Fighting tooth decay by
result you want.
annihilating all the
mostly harmless bacteria
in your mouth is like
taking a sledgehammer
to crack a nut. "
"To know your onions."

For example:-
To know a lot about a particular
subject.
"When it comes to
computers he really
knows his onions."

"As easy as pie."

For example:
When something is very easy to do.

"Anyone can do that, it's


as easy as pie."

"Have a finger in
every pie."

For example:
To be involved in lots of different
things.
"He was a very
influential man, he
seemed to have a finger
in every pie."

"A couch potato."

For example:
Someone who just sits on the couch
watching TV.
"She should get out
more, she's turning into
a real couch potato. "

"A hot potato."

For example:
A question or argument that is
controversial and difficult to settle
"The issue of
immigration was a hot
potato."
"To over egg
the pudding."

For example:
To exaggerate or to ruin something
Heather Mills was by trying too hard to improve it.
accused “over-egging
the pudding” in a bid to
secure a larger divorce
settlement.

A knuckle sandwich.

For example:-
A punch.
If he keeps on annoying
those men, he'll end up
with a knuckle sandwich.

A sandwich short of a
picnic.

For example:-

He stuck a knife in the Stupid or crazy


toaster and electrocuted
himself. I've always
thought he was one
sandwich short of a
picnic.

"In the soup."

For example:

To be in serious trouble.
"He landed her in the
soup, when he told the
policeman she had been
drinking."

"Souped up." To change something to make it


faster or more powerful by changing
For example: or adding something.

"He made his car go


faster by souping up the
engine."

"Cup of tea."

For example:
Something one enjoys or does well.
"I really enjoyed the
film, it was just my cup
of tea."

Like a fish out of water.

For example:-
To be uncomfortable in a particular
When she started talking situation
about her personal
problems, he looked like
a fish out of water.

To bring home
the bacon.

For example:
To earn a living for the family.

"He felt it was his


responsibility to bring
home the bacon."

To balance the books.

For examples:

To make certain that the amount of money spent is not


"The accountant
more than the amount of money received.
couldn't work out the
profit and loss until
they had balanced the
books."

A ball park figure. A general financial figure.


For example:

"Until we had costed


the project properly
we were only able to
give the customer a
ball park figure."

A bean-counter.

For example:
An accountant
"The bean-counters
told us we had to
reduce the budget."

Blood on the carpet .

For example:
A lot of trouble in an organisation often resulting in
someone losing their job.
"After the meeting
there was blood on the
carpet. "

The bottom line.

For example:

"When he told me the The total, the final figure on a balance sheet / the most
bottom line I decided important feature of something.
not to go ahead with
the project."

To break even.

For example:
When expenses equal profits.
"The company broke
even after two years."

A cash cow.
A product or service that makes a lot of money for a
For example: company.

"The new product has


proved to be a real
cash cow."

Chief cook and bottle


washer.

For example:

To be the person who is responsible for everything.


"If you want to set up
your own business you
have to be ready to be
chief cook and bottle
washer."

A big cheese.

For example:
An important person, a leader (usually about business).

"Anita Roddick is a big


cheese in Body Shop."

To cold call.

For example:

To call potential customers without an appointment or


"The sales rep cold
previous contact.
called customers from
the business directory.

To cook the books.

For example:
To modify financial statements and
"We only made a profit accounting information, especially illegally.
last year because our
accountant cooked the
books."

"To crack the whip ."

For example:
To make someone work harder by threatening them.
"We finished the
project on time, but
only because I really
cracked the whip."

A dead end job.

For example:

A job that has no chance of promotion or advancement.


"She left the company
because she was very
ambitious but in a
dead end job."

To be fired

For example:

To be dismissed from your job.


"He was always
coming late, so
eventually they fired
him."

A golden handshake.

For example:

"She won't have to


To receive a large payment on leaving a company.
find a job very quickly
because she got a
huge golden
handshake from her
last job."

Jack / Jill of
all trades (master /
mistress of none).

This idiom can be


A person that is competent with many skills but is not
negative or positive,
outstanding in any particular one.
depending on the
context in which it is
used.

For example:
"She can turn her
hand to anything,
she's a real Jill of all
trades."

To get the sack

For example:

To be dismissed from your job.


"He was always
coming late, so
eventually they sacked
him."

A close shave.

For example:
When you come extremely close to a dangerous or
unpleasant situation or only just manage to avoid it.
"I nearly crashed the
car this morning, it
was a close shave."

To be snowed under

For example:

To be very busy.
"She wasn't able to
finish the report as she
was snowed under
with other work."

To sweat blood.

For example:
To work very hard.
"She sweated blood to
finish the project on
time."

By the sweat of one's


brow.
To work really hard.
For example:
"She managed to keep
the company going by
the sweat of her brow.
"

To work your fingers


to the bone.

For example:
To work really hard.
"She kept the family
together by working
her fingers to the
bone."

To have a bun in the oven.

For example:-
To be pregnant.
I didn't know whether she had a bun
in the oven, or she'd just put on
weight.

Davy Jones' locker


Davy Jones is the nickname for the devil
of the sea. Davy Jones' locker means the
For example:-
bottom of the sea or ocean - the resting
place of drowned sailors. It is used as a
Everyone on the ship drowned,
euphemism for death at sea.
they're in Davy Jones' locker now.

Over my dead body.

An expression of defiance. If you say that


For example:-
something will happen over your dead
body, you mean that you will do anything
When I asked my mum if I could
to prevent it
have my ears pierced she replied,
"Over my dead body!"

From the cradle to the grave.

For example:- The whole of your life.

The National Health Service (NHS)


has two guiding principles. Firstly,
that such a service should be
comprehensive, with all citizens
receiving all the advice, treatment
and care they needed, combined with
the best medical and other facilities
available. Secondly, that the service
should be free to the public at the
point of use, from the cradle to the
grave.

Dead in the water

For example: Something that has failed and it seems


impossible that it will be successful in the
Eventually they had to accept that future.
the whole project was dead in the
water.

Dead set against

For example:
To be completely opposed to something.

"Her parents were dead set against


her moving to London."

At death's door.

For example:
To be very close to death.

I was sad to read that Nelson


Mandella was at death's door.

A brush with death.

For example:-
To narrowly miss dying.

Sometimes a brush with death forces


us to re-evaluate our priorities in life.

Cheat death
To avoid a possibly fatal event or prolong
your life in spite of considerable odds.
For example:-
An eccentric British pilot cheated
death after crash-landing in the
shark-infested waters of the
Caribbean.

Death warmed up

For example:-
Used when someone looks very ill.

She was so pale she looked like


death warmed up.

Death wish

For example:
Desire for death.

He keeps taking risks. It's almost as


if he has a death wish.

A dead duck

For example:-
A failure.
"The police admitted that they were
giving up, the case was a dead
duck."

It's your funeral

For example:-
We say this when someone makes a
decision that you don't agree with.
He's going out tonight, but if he
doesn't meet the deadline he'll lose
his job. I guess it's his funeral.

To get hitched

For example:-
To get married.

Miquepani got hitched on Friday


13th.
Honeymoon period.

For example:- A short period of time when starting


something new, when no one criticizes
The new CEO is enjoying a you.
honeymoon period. None of the
shareholders critisized him.

The honeymoon is over.

For example:-
The time when after starting something
new (a job etc.) people start to critisize
The latest figures were very bad and
you (see Honeymoon period).
the shareholders are calling for his
resignation. I guess the honeymoon
is over.

A dogs life

For example:

Life is hard and unpleasant.


I've got to go to work, then do the
shopping, then pick the children up
from school and cook their dinner -
it's a dog's life!

A fact of life

For example:
Stress is a fact of life.
An unpleasant fact or situation which
people accept because they cannot
change it.

Half dead

For example:
Extremely tired.

After doing all my chores I was half


dead.

Like death warmed up. To look very ill or tired.


For example:

He went home with the flu. He


looked like death warmed up.

Large as life

For example: Used to escribe a person you see, and are


surprised to see, in a particular place.
I looked up and there he was, as
large as life, Elvis Presley!

Lead a double life

For example: To have a second, secret life that is


usually not socially acceptable.
For years he led a double life as an
agent for the intelligence services.

Shelf life
The length of time that a product,
especially food, can be kept in a shop
For example:
before it becomes too old to be sold or
used.
Fresh milk has a short shelf life.

Marry in haste, repent at leisure.

For example:-
If you get married too soon, you will
She suddenly realised she didn't regret it.
even like him that much, but you
know what they say, "marry in haste,
repent at leisure."

The pearly gates.

For example:
The entrance to heaven.

We all end up standing at the pearly


gates.

To tie the knot. To get married.


For example:-

Miquepani tied the knot on Friday


13th.

IDIOMS FOR DYING

To bite the dust.


To breath your last.
To buy the farm.
To croak.
To drop off the twig.
To kick the bucket.
To meet your maker.
To pass away.
To pass on.
To peg out.
To pop your clogs.
To shuffle off this mortal coil.
To snuff it.

IDIOMS FOR BEING DEAD

Dead as a dodo.
Dead as a doornail.
Lookin' at the other side of the grass.
Pushing up daisies.
Six feet under.

IDIOMS ABOUT GETTING MARRIED

To tie the knot.


To get hitched.

A hole in the wall

For example: 1) A small place


to live, stay or
work in.
1) "We went for a drink at a
little hole in the wall near the 2) A cash
machine.
university last night."

2) "I went to the hole in the wall


to get some cash."

Break the bank.

For example: Win all the


money at a
He broke the bank at the casino casino gambling
table.
and walked away with a lot of
money.

To laugh all the way to


the bank. To make lot of
money very
For example:- easily, often
because
If we don't take this someone else
opportunity, you can be sure has been stupid.
our competitors will and they'll
be laughing all the way to the
bank.

To not break the bank.

For example:
Not be too
expensive
Going out for a drink in the pub
won't break the bank.

To bank on something/someone
Something or
For example:
someone you
can be sure of.
"You can always bank on friends
to help you."
Go for broke.

For example: To risk


everything in
order to achieve
"She really wanted to pass her the result you
English exam, so she went for want.
broke and revised every day."

To be broke To have no
money.
For example:

I can't go out tonight, I'm


broke.

A cash cow

For example: A business or a


part of a
The British newspapers are the business that
always makes a
group's biggest cash cow, lot of profit.
earning nearly 40% of group
profits.

Hard cash

Money in the
For example:
form of coins or
notes paper
They don't accept credit cards, money
we will need hard cash.

Cash in your chips

For example:
To die.
He cashed his chips in shortly
after his ninetieth birthday.

Ready cash

For example:
Money that is
available to
We have a lot of investments spend.
but we need ready cash to pay
the bills.

To be strapped [for cash]

For example:
To be short of
money.
Could you lend me a fiver? I
seem to be a bit strapped.
A blank cheque

As much money
For example:
to spend as is
wanted or
The project manager seems to needed.
think he has a blank cheque.

The other side of the coin

For example:
The opposite
view of
Running a web site is fun, but something.
the other side of the coin is that
it costs a lot of money.

A bad debt

For example:
Money owed
that is not likely
The bank expects to lose to be paid.
millions of last year's profits as
a result of bad debts.

dough

For example:-
Slang for
money.
I need to go to the cash point,
I've run out of dough.

Money from a
e-cash special bank
account which is
For example: used to buy
goods and
services over
It is easier to pay on the net the Internet by
sending
with e-cash.
information from
your computer
A fool and his money are soon Something we
parted. say which
means that
stupid people
For example: spend money
without thinking
about it enough.
Andrew is always buying the
latest gizmos, a fool and his
money are soon parted.

Blood money

Money that has


For example: been gained
from the death
of another
The assassin was paid his blood
person.
money.

Easy money

For example: Money earnt


with very little
work or effort.
A lot of people think running a
web site is easy money.

Funny money

Counterfeit
For example: money, or
money from
dishonest
She was caught trying to pay activities.
with funny money,

A licence to print money

Activity that
For example: allows people to
become very
Some people think the TV rich without
having to make
licence fee is just a licence to any effort.
print money.

Money doesn't grow on trees.

For example: Money isn't that


easy to come
by.
We can't afford to buy a house,
money doesn't grow on trees.

Money for old rope


A job that is an
easy way of
For example: earning money.
A lot of people think being a
professional footballer is money
for for old rope.

Money talks

For example: People who are


rich have a lot
of power and
He seems to get away with influence.
murder I guess money talks.

Money to burn

To have a lot of
For example: money to spend
on things that
are not
They buy a new car every year.
necessary
They must have money to burn.

Put your money where your


mouth is

For example:
To follow up on
words with
If people are really interested in action.
helping the homeless they
should put their money where
their mouth is

Monopoly money Monopoly is the


trademark for a
For example: game in which
you buy
property with
Whether he sells the house or pretend money,
not, it's all monopoly money to so monopoly
money has little
him. or no value.

More money than sense.

When someone
For example:- seems to spend
what money
Alex Hope spent £125,000 on a they have
foolishly.
30-litre Midas bottle of
champagne. He has got more
money than sense.

Pin money

For example: A small amount


of money that
you earn and
She teaches English for pin spend on things
money for extra treats for for yourself.
herself and the family.

Pots of money

For example: A lot of money.

Bill Gates has pots of money.

Throw money around


To spend
For example: money,
especially in an
obvious and
They don't work but they have careless way, on
plenty of money to throw things that are
not necessary.
around.

Hit pay dirt

For example:
To discover
something very
If a salesperson does not quickly valuable or very
hit pay dirt with a customer useful.
they will usually move straight
on to someone else.

Pay through the nose

For example: To pay too much


money for
something.
I paid through the nose to get
the bathroom done.

To pay a lot of
Pay top dollar money for
something
For example:

If you want the best, you have


to pay to dollar.

Pay your way

To pay for
For example: yourself rather
than allowing
someone else to
I teach English so that I can pay
pay
my way.

The devil to pay

For example:
To get into a lot
If the company catches you of trouble.

making personal calls there'll be


the devil to pay!

A penny for your thoughts

For example: To ask someone


what they are
thinking about.
'You're very quiet. A penny for
your thoughts.'

A pretty penny

For example:
To be very
expensive
That car must have cost you a
pretty penny.

The penny drops

For example: To finally


understand
something.
She looked confused for a while,
but then the penny dropped.

To arrive at a
Turn up like a bad penny place or event
where you are
not wanted.
For example:

Whenever he wants money he


turns up like a bad penny.

A penny pincher / To penny


pinch

For example:
A miser /To be a
miser.
He left the pub before it was his
round. He is such a penny
pincher.

In for a penny, in for a pound

For example:
To put a lot of
money or effort
He spends hours on his English into something.
every day. In for a penny, in for
a pound.

Dirt poor

Most of the population in this Extremely poor


undeveloped area were dirt-
poor and jobless.

As poor as church mice

For example:
Very poor
When we first got married, we
were as poor as church mice.

The pink pound

Money spent by
For example: people who are
homosexual,
especially on
Brighton is a lively, prosperous
entertainment.
city, courtesy of the pink pound.
To hold the purse strings

To control the
For example: spending of a
family's or an
organization's
The Financial Director holds the
money
purse strings here.

To loosen the purse strings

For example:
To allow more
We shouldn't expect the money to be
spent.
Chancellor to loosen the purse
strings too much in this year's
Budget.

To tighten the purse strings

For example: To reduce the


amount of
If we want to go on holiday this money that can
be spent
year we need to tighten the
purse strings a bit.

You can't make a silk purse


out of a sow's ear
If something is
For example: poor quality you
can't do much to
I new it wouldn't last, you can't improve it.
make a silk purse out of a sow's
ear.

Filthy rich

For example: Extremely rich

Bill Gates is filthy rich.

To borrow
Rob Peter to pay Paul money from one
person to pay
For example: back money you
borrowed from
someone else.
If you keep robbing Peter to pay
Paul, you'll never be out of
debt.

Strike it rich

For example:
To suddenly
become rich
He struck it rich in the computer
business.

Spend money like water

For example:
To spend too
much.
If you spend money like water,
you'll always be broke.

Spend a penny

For example:
To go to the
toilet.
Excuse me, I must go and
spend a penny.

Have your fingers in the till

For example: To steal money


from the place
where you work.
She had her fingers in the till,
that's why she lost her job.

To do a complete one-eighty.
To turn around
and go in the
For example:- opposite
direction.
To reverse a
The Liberal party did a complete
decision or
one-eighty on tuition fees. opinion.

Someone or
A nine/one/seven-day wonder something that
causes interest
For example:- or excitement
for a short
period but is
then quickly
Don't put your coats away just
forgotten
yet – yesterday's sizzling hot
weather was a one-day wonder.

A bird in the hand is


worth two in the bush.
Having
For example:- something for
certain is better
than the
I would stay with your current
possibility of
firm, rather than look for getting
something better. After all, a something
better.
bird in the hand is worth two in
the bush.

First hand

For example:- If you


experience
something first
We can't experience poverty hand, you
and misery first hand, but we experience it
can give to those who suffer yourself.

from it.

Do a number on someone.

For example:-
To treat
someone very
The competition was fake and badly or
did a real number with my email unfairly.
address. It could take days to
get rid of all the spam I got.

One foot in the grave.

For example:- To be close to


death, or so old
you are likely to
She's been saying she has one die soon
foot in the grave for years now.

One good turn deserves If someone does


something nice
another for you, you
should do
something for
For example:-
that person in
return.
He fixed my computer, so I
invited him to the party. One
good turn deserves another.

A one horse town.

For example:-
A very small
town. (Usually
The town I grew up in was negative.)
a one-horse town. I couldn't
wait to move.

One step ahead

For example:- To be slightly


better prepared
or more
The police hunted him for years, successful than
but he always managed to stay someone else.
one step ahead of them.

Seven year itch

For example:- A real or


imagined
Far too many couples suffer longing for other
relationships in
from the seven-year itch (which the seventh
has been reduced these days to year of
marriage.
the two-year and even seven-
month itch),

To be at sixes and sevens

For example:-
Used to describe
a state of
I was trying to upload photos confusion or
into my blog, but I was all at disarray.
sixes and sevens, I didn't have
a clue how to do it!

A lot of trouble
Blood on the carpet.
in an
organisation
often resulting
For example:
in someone
losing their job.
"After the meeting there was
blood on the carpet. "

The glass ceiling When the


advancement of
a qualified
For example: person within
the hierarchy of
an organisation
"Although she had hit the glass
is stopped at a
ceiling head on, she didn't give lower level (it
up." happens to
women a lot).

To hit the ceiling

For example:
To become very
angry about
"When her husband hears she something.
crashed the car he'll hit the
ceiling."

Skeleton in the closet /


cupboard. If you have a
skeleton in the
cupboard it
For example:- means you have
are hiding a
Nearly every family has a shocking secret
about yourself.
skeleton in the cupboard.

To get a foot in the door

For example:
An opening or
opportunity.
"If you could introduce me to
your boss it would help me get
my foot in the door."

To show someone the door


Ask someone to
For example: leave (usually
rudely).

"He was so annoying I asked my


secretary to show him the
door."

To be a doormat.

For example:- Describes


someone who
"She treated him like a doesn't stand up
for his/herself.
doormat, but he never
complained."

To get in on the ground floor

To join
For example: something at a
low level in the
hope of making
"It's a really good opportunity to
gains in the
get in on the ground floor of a future.
successful new business."

To fly off the handle.

For example:
To lose your
When I told her that the dog ate temper.
my homework, she flew off the
handle, and shouted at me.

A different kettle of fish.

For example:-

A different
"Oh! They want to place an matter or issue.
order? That's a different kettle
of fish. Of course I'll talk to
them."

A pretty or fine kettle of fish.

For example:- A difficult or


awkward
"They're divorced, and situation.

someone's sat them next to


each other - that's a fine kettle
of fish."

The pot calling the kettle black.

For example:-
To accuse
someone of
"When politicians say that
being a
bankers have been lying, it's hypocrite.
like the pot calling the kettle
black."

A watched kettle never boils.


When you are
For example:- anxiously
waiting for
something to
"Elfish couldn't wait for her happen, it
exam results, but I told her, "A always seems to
take longer.
watched kettle never boils."

Everything but the kitchen sink.

For example:-
A lot of things -
"The check-in girl told her she especially used
when packing
was way over her weight limit.
She'd packed everything but the
kitchen sink."

To be a lounge lizard.

For example: When a man is


very sleazy or
smarmy.
"He kept chatting her up, he
was a real lounge lizard."

The pot calling the kettle black.

For example:- To accuse


someone of
being a
"When politicians say that hypocrite.
bankers have been lying, it's
like the pot calling the kettle
black."

To have elbow room

For example:
To have enough
space.
"She asked us to move back to
give her elbow room."

To make room for someone or


something

To arrange
For example: space for
someone or
something.
"Could you move over a bit and
make some room for me?"

Everything but the kitchen sink.

For example:-
A lot of things -
"The check-in girl told her she especially used
when packing
was way over her weight limit.
She'd packed everything but the
kitchen sink."

As much use as a
chocolate teapot.

For example:
Useless.
"As soon as I switched it on the
fuse blew. It was as much use
as a chocolate teapot."

Throw in the towel.

For example:
To give up.

"They knew they were going to


lose, so they threw in the
towel."

Climb the wall

For example:
To be extremely
bored.
"The lesson was so boring the
students were soon climbing the
walls."

Drive someone up the wall

For example: To annoy or


irritate
someone.
"My little brother is so annoying
he drives me up the wall."

The handwriting's on the wall

For example:
Obvious bad
luck.
"He should have known he
would lose his job, the
handwriting was on the wall."

To go to the wall

For example:
To become
bankrupt
"The recession hit so hard many
businesses went to the wall.

To knock one`s head against a


brick wall

To waste time
For example: trying to do
something with
little or no
"I have been knocking my head success.
against a brick wall trying to
solve this week's Mind Bender."
Autumn years.

For example:-
The later years
of a person's
I don't like to think I'm getting life.
old. I prefer to think I'm
entering the autumn years.

Spring fever.
To feel restless.
(It is thought to
For example:- be a
physiological
and
The students couldn't pay any
psychological
attention to what I was saying. shift in the
They were obviously suffering body's response
to changing
from spring fever. seasons.)

Full of the joys of spring.

For example:-
To feel very
happy and full of
The sun was shining, and even youthful energy.
though it was October, I was full
of the joys of spring.

An Indian summer

A period of
For example:- warm weather
which
The summer was really bad this sometimes
happens in early
year, so I'm hoping for an autumn
Indian summer.

One swallow doesn't make


Something that
a summer you say which
means because
For example:- one good thing
has happened,
you cannot be
After I passed my first exam, certain that
my teacher reminded me to more good
things will
keep on working hard. After all, happen.
one swallow doesn't make a
summer.

The dead of winter.

For example:- Used to describe


the middle of
winter, when it
He disappeared in the dead of is very cold and
winter: The river was frozen, dark.
the streets almost deserted.

To put all your eggs in


one basket

For example: To risk


everything on
one person or
"You shouldn't invest all your
thing.
money in Microsoft, it would be
like putting all your eggs in one
basket."

To buy a lemon.

To buy
For example:
something that
proves to be
"That car he bought is a real worthless.
lemon."

To buy a pig in a poke.

For example: To buy


something that
proves to be
"That car he bought is a real pig worthless.
in a poke."

"To buy the farm."

For example: To die.

"He bought the farm last week."

When a
"Own brand."
company makes
and sells its own
products.
For example:

"Marks and Spencers only sell


own brand goods."

"The drinks are on me."

For example: To offer to pay


for something -
usually food or
"He was celebrating his
drink.
birthday, so the drinks were on
him."

To pay one's way.

For example: To contribute


one's share of
the expenses.
"He's a good friend, he always
pays his way."

To pay over the odds.

For example:
To pay too much
for something.
"She definitely paid over the
odds for that dress."

"To pay through the nose"

For example:
To pay too much
for something.
"He ended up paying through
the nose for that car."

Closed shop.

a place of work
For example: where you have
to belong to a
particular trade
"The motor industry in the UK
union.
used to be a closed shop."

To be all over the shop. 1) To be in


complete
disarray.
For example:

2) To look
1) "His papers were all over the everywhere for
shop." something.
2) "I've looked for it all over the
shop, but I still can't find it."

To shop around.

For example: To visit a


number of shops
to compare
"I always shop around before I prices.
buy something."

"To shop lift."

For example: To steal goods


from a shop.

"He was caught shop lifting."

"To shop someone."

To tell someone
For example: in authority of
someone elses
wrong doings.
"He shopped her to the police.

To shop till you drop.

For example: To go on an
extremely long
shopping trip.
"She shopped till she dropped
yesterday."

To shut up shop

For example: To close


somewhere
(usually a
"Winter is so quiet we just shut business)
up shop and go on holiday.
To talk shop.

For example: To discuss one's


business or
profession.
"He is very boring, all he does
all day is talk shop."

"Shopping therapy."

For example: The idea that


buying things
can cheer you
"She was very upset so I took up - works for
me :-)
her into town for some shopping
therapy."

To try it on.

For example:
To attempt to
decieve or fool
"He never tells the truth about someone.
anything, he is always trying it
on."

A ballpark figure (actually a


baseball term, but widely used
in business in the UK too)

For example:- Rough estimate.

I don't need an exact quotation,


just give me a ballpark figure.

To get the ball rolling.

For example:-
To get
something
If we don't get the ball rolling on started.
this project soon we won't be
able to deliver on time.

To keep your eye on the ball. To remain alert.


For example:-

You'll need to keep your eye on


the ball on this project, the
technology available is moving
so quickly.

To be on the ball

For example:- To be quick to


understand and
react to things.
You need to be on the ball with
this customer, he's very clever.

To play ball
To agree to do
what someone
For example:- asks you to do,
in the way
someone else
We'll all achieve much more if
wants you to do
we just play ball. it.

A whole new ball game

A completely
For example:-
different
situation, often
I'd done a lot of kayaking in the one which is
difficult or which
UK, but the rivers in the French
you know little
Alps were a whole new ball about.
game.

The ball's in someone's court

To have to do
For example:- something
before any
Well I gave them all the progress can be
made in a
information I could, and now the situation.
ball's in their court.

A balls up.

A bad mistake
For example:- or shoddy job.

He forgot his visuals, so the


presentation was a complete
balls up.

To be bowled over (cricket)

For example:- To astonish or


overwhelm.
Lit: To knock
I went to see his latest both of the bails
exhibition, it really bowled me off the wicket
over.

To beat (someone) to the punch


(boxing)

To make the
For example:-
first decisive
move in a
We have to get this new product situation.
out before our rivals beat us to
the punch.

To get the boot

For example:- To be fired or let


go from an
organization.
They gave him the boot after he
failed in his last project.

It's not cricket


If someone's
For example:- behaviour or
actions are not
cricket, they are
It's not cricket to steal not honourable
someone's web site. or moral.

To give it your best shot

For example:-
To put forth
Whether you pass or fail in the your best effort.

test at least you'll know you


gave it your best shot.
To have get-up-and-go.

For example:- To have a high


personal energy
I can't play football any more. level.

My get up and go has got up


and gone.

To go the distance (boxing)

For example:-
To carry through
a course of
No matter what you say about
action to
him, he really went the distance completion.
on his last project. No one could
have done more.

To hit below the belt (boxing)

For example:-
To act unfairly
or
They hit the workers below the unscrupulously.
Lit: An illegal
belt when they closed the
move in boxing
factory gates without any
warning.

The rub of the green.

For example:- To be lucky


especially in a
sport or pastime
France had the rub of the green played on a
when the referee didn't spot green surface.
that handball.

To jockey yourself into position.


(Horseracing)
To put yourself
For example:- into a good
position to win
something.
He got the promotion after
jockeying himself into position.
To kick something around.

To pass an idea
For example:- from person to
person.
Let's just kick a few ideas Lit: Passing the
ball.
around and see what we come
up with.

To kick it into touch.

To cancel or quit
For example:-
something.
Lit: To gain
Before we waste any more time ground or to
defend your
on this, I suggest we just kick it
team.
into touch, it's just not going to
work.

To kick off.

For example:- To start trouble


or fight.
We got out of the pub before it Lit: Start the
game.
all kicked off and the fists
started flying.

Knock yourself out.

For example:- Used to give


permission to
Me: Can I drive today? someone to do
something.
Hubby: Sure, knock yourself
out.

To let the side down

For example:-
To fail when
others are
When Beckham missed that relying on you.
penalty he really let the side
down.

To try to
To (make a) pitch for something persuade people
to support you
or give you
For example:-
something.

He pitched the idea at us, but


we turned him down.

To move the goalposts

For example:-
To make unfair
changes without
We'll never reach an agreement warning.
if they keep moving the
goalposts.

No holds barred (wrestling)

For example:- With all


restrictions
relaxed.
They played rough in the
negotiations, no holds barred.

To play away from home

For example:- To have an


affair.
Lit: To play at
She asked for a divorce when the oppositions
she found out he'd been playing ground.
away for home.

To play it safe

For example:- To be careful


and avoid any
risk
You'll never be truly successful if
you always play it safe.

To be saved
To be saved by the bell (boxing) from misfortune
or
unpleasantness
For example:- by something.
Lit: When an
The authorities arrested Chile's opponent was
knocked out and
Gen. Augusto Pinochet, but he the bell rang
was saved by the bell of old before the count
was completed
the person was
age.
not out.

Saving grace Some good


quality that
makes you like
For example:- something or
someone
although you do
They lost 10:0, their only saving
not like anything
grace was that they tried hard. else about
them.
To score a tie-breaker
The final thing /
point that
For example:- breaks an even-
scored game or
other event.

To score an own goal

For example:-
To make a
problem for
He scored a bit of an own goal yourself.
when he increased the rate. Lit: To score in
your own net -
They decided he was just too really ugly.
expensive and used someone
else.

To throw in the towel (boxing)

To surrender,
For example:-
admit defeat.
Lit: To signal
The union decided to throw in surrender by
throwing the
the towel when they realised
towel into the
they weren't going to win any ring.
more concessions.

To win by a nose (horse racing)

For example:-
To succeed by a
Our bid for that contract was very narrow
margin.
won by a nose. There really
wasn't much difference between
us.
cockcrow

The very
For example:- beginning of
daylight (dawn).
Firoozeh gets up at cockcrow.

The crack of dawn.

For example:-
The very
beginning of
I used to have to get up at the daylight (dawn).
crack of dawn, but nowadays I
don't have to.

On the dot.

For example:-
At a precise
On New Year's Eve we always time.

open the champagne on the dot


of midnight.

Overtime
The time we
For example:- work in addition
to what is
normal.
I told my boss I would do any Overtime is
overtime, I want to save up for either paid, or
unpaid.
my holiday.

To not give someone


the time of day. To refuse to
speak to
someone
For example:- because you do
not like them or
because you
I don't know why you spend so
think you are
much time with him. I wouldn't better than
even give him the time of day. them.

To have a short
To pass the time of day. conversation
with someone
For example:- about things
which are not
important
It's important to pass the time
of day with your colleagues.

The early bird catches the


worm.

If you do
For example:- something in a
timely manner
you will
"I'll go to work early tomorrow.
succeed.
After all, the early bird catches
the worm."

A stitch in time saves nine.

For example:- If you fix a small


problem right
away, it will not
You need to get the leak fixed become a bigger
before it gets bigger. A stitch in problem later.
time saves nine.

A production
Just in time (JIT) strategy that
strives to
For example:- improve a
business return
on investment
The factory has implemented a (ROI) by
new JIT strategy. All inventory reducing
inventory and
must be reduced. associated
carrying costs.
Full-time

The whole of
For example:- someone's
available
My niece went back to full-time working time,
typically 40
work 3 months after having her hours in a week,
first baby.

Part-time

Employment
For example:-
with fewer hours
per week than
There are more part-time jobs a full-time job.
nowadays.
Time is money. It means
someone thinks
For example:- time should be
looked at a
resource,
Come on everyone, we need therefore it's
this order finishing! Time is better to do
things as quickly
money. as possible.

To be on time.

If you're on time
For example:- you arrive or do
something
before or by a
We managed to finish the
stated time
project on time.

To buy time.

For example:- To postpone an


event hoping
that the
The policeman tried to reason situation will
with him in order to buy time improve.
until backup arrived,

To call time.

What happens
For example:- when a publican
signals that it is
closing time at
We had to drink up when he
the pub.
called time.

To do time.

For example:-
To be
imprisoned.
It's hard for people who have
done time to get a job.

To give someone a hard time. To criticize


someone and
make them feel
For example:-
guilty about
something that
I always give my students a they have (or
haven't) done.
hard time if they haven't done
their homework.

To have the time of your life.

For example:-
To enjoy
yourself - a lot.
I had the time of my life at the
party.

To not give someone the time of


day. To refuse to
speak to
someone
For example:- because you do
not like them or
because you
I don't know why you spend so
think you are
much time with him. I wouldn't better than
even give him the time of day. them.

To pass the time of day.


To have a short
conversation
For example:-
with someone
about things
It's important to pass the time which are not
important
of day with your colleagues.

To run out of time.

For example:-
To have no time
left.
I ran out of time before I could
finish the exam.

The time is ripe.

A good time to
For example:-
do something or
for something to
The people decided the time happen.
was ripe for a revolution.

Take your time.

To not rush.
For example:-
I decided not to rush, so I took
my time and made sure the job
was done properly.

Time in lieu
Time off instead
of, or in addition
For example:- to, receiving pay
for overtime
I worked two bank holidays, and worked or
working on
I got two days off in lieu, but I public or bank
would have preferred the cash. holidays.

Time off.

To have a period
For example:-
of time free
from
I decided to take some time off employment
to visit my family.

Time out.

For example:-

You've been on that computer


for hours. Time out! Time when you
rest away from
your usual work
Sometimes used to break up a
or studies.
fight. (Not to be
confused with
"out of time".)
For example:-

The moderator called time out,


when he saw the argument was
getting out of hand.

Time's up.

For example:-
Used to show an
activity is
The game finished because my finished.
time was up and I needed to
pay to play on.
9-5

For example:- A conventional


and possibly
tedious job.
She has a 9-5 job, but she
never complains.

From the cradle to the grave.

For example:-

The National Health Service


(NHS) has two guiding
principles. Firstly, that such a
service should be
comprehensive, with all citizens The whole of
receiving all the advice, your life.

treatment and care they


needed, combined with the best
medical and other facilities
available. Secondly, that the
service should be free to the
public at the point of use, from
the cradle to the grave.

To get on your bike.

For example:

Norman Tebbit told the To get moving.


unemployed of Britain to get on
their bikes and find work
elsewhere.

On yer bike!

An impolite way
For example:
of telling
someone to go
He said "On yer bike" when I away.
asked him for more money.

To be in the same boat. To be in the


same situation
(usually
For example:
unpleasant) as
other people.
She's always complaining that
she has too much work, but
we're all in the same boat.

An event in a
Car boot sale. public place
where people
sell their
For example:
unwanted
possessions,
You can pick up a lot of bargains often from the
at a car boot sale. backs of their
cars.

To have a face like the back end


of a bus.

For example:
To be really
ugly.
"Quasimodo has a face like the
back end of a bus, but he is
really nice."

Car pool.
A group of cars
owned by a
For example: company or
other
"Could you deliver this package organization
which can be
for me? Use a car from the used by any of
pool." its employees.

Drive a hard bargain.

To expect a lot
For example: in exchange for
what you pay or
do
"We got a good price in the end,
but he drives a hard bargain."

Drive someone round the bend.


To make
someone very
For example: bored or very
angry.
"The children have been driving
me round the bend all day."

Drive someone up the wall.

For example: To make


someone
"My neighbours are driving me extremely
angry.
up the wall with their loud
music."

Test drive.
To drive a car
that you are
For example: considering
buying, in order
to see if you like
"I took it out for a test drive
it.
before I bought it."

Flight of fancy.

An idea which
For example: shows a lot of
imagination but
which is not
"Clean nuclear fuel is a real
practical.
flight of fancy."

Take flight.

For example:
To run away.
"The children took flight when
they say the farmer."

Top flight.

For example: To be at the


highest level in
a job or sport.
"David Beckham is a top flight
footballer."

This idiom
Hit and run. describes a road
accident in
For example: which the driver
who caused the
accident drives
"The police are hunting a hit and away without
helping the
run driver."
other people
involved and
without telling
the police.
End of the line.

For example: The point where


it is no longer
possible to
"This project has struggled on
continue with a
for as long as it could, but it's process or
reached the end of activity.

the line now."

Port of call.
A place where
you stop for a
For example: short time,
especially on a
"Where's our next port of call?" journey.

Any port in a storm.

For example: If you are in a


difficult situation
you will go
"I didn't want to stay with my anywhere for
mother, but any port in a help.
storm."

Go off the rails. to start


behaving in a
way that is not
For example: generally
acceptable,
especially
"Prince Harry has really gone of
dishonestly or
the rails recently." illegally:

Down the road.

For example:
Sometime in the
"One day I will have video future

capability on the site, but that's


a long way down the road."
The end of the road.

The point where


For example: it is no longer
possible to
"We will have to give up on this continue with a
process or
project, it's reached the end of activity.
the road."

To get the show on the road.

For example: To begin an


activity that has
been planned.
"Let's get this show on the
road."

To hit the road.

For example: To leave a place


or begin a
journey.
"I must be going, I need to hit
the road to catch my train."

This idiom
describes a
Middle of the road (MOR). person,
organization,
opinion or type
For example: of entertainment
that is not
"He only likes MOR music." extreme and is
acceptable to or
liked by most
people.
One for the road.

To have one last


For example:
an alcoholic
drink just before
"Do you fancy one for the road leaving.
before you go?"

Road hog.
Someone who
drives so that
For example: other vehicles
cannot go past.
"I have never liked his driving,
he is such a road hog."

said to
emphasize that
you must not
The road to hell is paved with simply intend to
behave well but
good intentions.
you must act
according to
No example necessary. your intentions,
because you will
have problems
or be punished if
you do not.
Ship someone off.

For example: To send


someone away
somewhere.
"Rich parents often ship their
children off to boarding school."

Said to tell
someone that
Shape up or ship out. they must
improve their
performance or
No example necessary.
behaviour or
they will have to
leave.
To be just the ticket.

For example:- Used to describe


that something
"If you want to improve your is exactly what
is needed.
English, this websiste is just the
ticket."

Off the beaten track.


A place where
few people go,
For example:
far from any
main roads and
"The hotel is difficult to find, it is towns.
really off the beaten track."

If something is
On track. on track it's
making progress
For example: and is likely to
achieve
something.
To get or put
"It looks as though the crisis is
something back
over. We're back on track." on track means
to correct
something that
was going
wrong.

The fast track.


The quickest
and most direct
For example: route to
achievement of
He won't be working in this a goal
(especially
office for very long, he's on the business
fast track to management. related).

To have a
The inside track. special position
within an
For example: organization, or
a special
relationship with
"He knows a lot about the a person that
company, he's on the inside gives you
advantages that
track." other people do
not have.
Lose track.

To no longer
For example: know what is
happening, or
"They've lost track of their not to
remember
original goal. I doubt they'll win something.
the next election."

One track mind.

For example: A tendency to


think about only
one subject.
He only ever thinks about girls,
he has a one track mind.

Cover your tracks.

To hide or
For example:
conceal
something.
They'll never catch the real
culprits at Enron, they were to
good at covering their tracks.

Train of thought.

For example: The connections


that link the
various parts of
"He was trying to explain how an event or
the budget would help to end argument
together.
the recession, but I couldn't
follow his train of thought."

To get on the gravy train.

For example: To attempt to


make money
quickly, easily,
"I wouldn't trust him if I were and often
dishonestly.
you, he is always trying to get
on the gravy train."

Public transport.
A system of
vehicles such as
For example: buses and trains
which operate at
"People should use public regular times on
fixed routes and
transport more to avoid are used by the
congestion on the roads." public.

Travel light.

For example: To go on a
journey without
taking a lot of
"I always travel light when I go things with you.
to England."

The squeaky wheel gets the oil.

For example: People who


make the most
"He complained to the manager fuss get the
most attention.
and they gave him a free
replacement."
Every cloud has a silver lining.

For example:-

You can usually


When he lost his job he realised find something
it really hadn't been what he good in negative
situations.
wanted to do, so he retrained as
a therapist. You see, every
cloud has a silver lining.

It's raining cats and dogs!

For example:-
It's raining very
heavily.
"We had to run for shelter when
it started raining cats and dogs."

If the sky is red


in the evening,
at sunset, the
Red sky at night, shepherd's
weather should
delight. be nice the next
Red sky in morning, shepherd's day.
If the sky is red
warning. in the morning,
at sunrise, the
weather will be
bad.
To look as black as thunder.

For example:-
To look really
"When I told them I was angry.

leaving, they looked as black as


thunder."

An ill wind.

( It's an ill wind (that blows


Most events, no
nobody any good).)
matter how bad,
benefit
For example:- somebody.

"The economic downturn meant


there was a reduction in
pollution. It's an ill wind."