Saturday, 12 April 2014

VOCABULARY - IDIOMS ( Idiomatic Expressions )

List of idioms in alphabetical order



Learn English Idioms

A list of English idioms with definitions and examples:
a bit of fluff
(Also a bit of skirt.) A sexually attractive woman.
I saw him yesterday with a bit of fluff.
Category | Sexuality

a breath of fresh air
said about a new, fresh, and imaginative approach, a change that feels good.
The president says that the country needs a breath of fresh air.
Category | Nature

a clean bill of health
said when you examine someone or something and state that they are healthy, in good condition, or legal.
1. The president was given a clean bill of health by his doctors.
2. The company received a clean bill of health because it fulfilled all the safety requirements.

Category | Health

a dime's worth
an insignificant amount
At best, he'll make a dime's worth of difference with his interference in the affair.
Category | Money

a fool and his money are soon parted
this means that stupid people spend money without thinking about it enough.
John likes his extravagant lifestyle - but then a fool and his money are soon parted.
Category | Money

a little bird told me
said when you don't want reveal the source of your information.
"How did you know the news?"
"Oh, a little bird told me."

Category | Animals

a man of action
a man who is inclined to act first rather than think about things and discuss them.
Bill is really a man of action. Since he arrived at the top of the association, he has done so many things.
Category | Men and women

a man of few words
(also a woman of few words) a man who doesn't speak much. A man of action
He is a man of few words. But when he speaks, he makes a lot of sense.
Category | Men and women

a number cruncher
a number cruncher refers to someone whose job is to work with numbers and mathematics. It may also refer to a computer that is able to solve complicated problems of mathematics.
1. He's a number cruncher. He works for a big firm of accountants.
2. Number crunchers are used on election night to try and forecast the result.

Category | numbers

a roof over your head
a place to live.
He was so poor that he didn't have a roof over his head.
Category | Home

a whole new ball game
a completely different situation.
He has written so many short stories but writing a novel is a whole new ball game.

Category | sport

a woman of few words
(also a man of few words) a woman who doesn't speak much. A woman of action
She is a woman of few words, but she always gets things done.
Category | Men and women

above the law
Not subject to the law, exempt from the laws that apply to everyone else.
Nobody is above the law.
Category | Law

achilles heel
said about a strong situation which contains an element of vulnerability.
Journalists considered that minister as the government's Achilles heel.
Category | Parts of the body

act of God
something that ooccured, such as an accident, for which no human is responsible. A natural disaster such as a storm, earthquake...
The Haiti earthquake was really an act of God.
Category | Religion

act one’s age
To be mature and not childish.
Stop being childish and act your age.
Category | Age

adam's ale
(old-fashioned) water.
Take a glass of adam's ale if you are thirsty.
Category | Religion

add fuel to the fire
(also add fuel to the flames) to make a problem worse; to say or do something that makes a bad situation worse.
Don't add fuel to the fire by laughing at him. He is furious about what you have already done
Category | Nature

affinity for
said about you have attraction , preference or sympathy for something or someone.
He has an affinty for classical music.
Category | Relationship

against the clock
To work or race against the clock means to do something as fast as possible and try to finish it before a deadline.
The students were racing against the clock to finish the paper before the deadline.
Category | Time

against time
(also against the clock) an attempt to finish something quickly within a time limit.
It's going to be a race against the time to finish the project before the deadline.
Category | Time

age before beuaty
A phrase said to allow older people to go before younger ones. Now most often used humorously or lightheartedly, and usually said by a younger person to an older friend or relative out of mock pity for being so much older and unattractive.
Please, you first. Age before beauty, you know.
Category | Age

ahead of one's time
in advance of concurrent commonly accepted ideas; showing characteristics of changes yet to be; present in one's work before later advances in the field.
With his new scientific discoveries, he was ahead of his time.
Category | Time

alive and kicking
(also be alive and well) to continue to be well, healthy or successful.
1. Don't worry about your grandfather; he is alive and kicking.
2. Classical music is still alive and kicking among youngsters

Category | Health

all hat and no cattle
Describing someone who is full of big talk but lacking action, power, or substance; pretentious.
We expect our president to be effective in his job, not a person who is all hat and no cattle.
Category | Clothes

all in a day's work
What is normal, typical or expected.
Grading my students' papers is all on a day's work for me.
Category | Work

all one’s eggs in one basket
the state of having invested heavily in just one area or of having devoted all of one’s resources to one thing.
The stock market decline wouldn’t have hurt him so badly if he hadn’t had all his eggs in one basket
Category | Food

all that glitters is not gold
appearance is sometimes misleading. Things that appear valuable or worthwhile might not be as good as they look.
The house looks beautiful from the outside but the inside part of the house looks terrible; all that glitters is not gold.
Category | Money

all that jazz
Everything else related to something; and other similar things.
They enjoyed the party: cocktails, dancing, and all that jazz.
Category | Music

all the more
even more.
Her family didn't want her to get married to her new boyfriend, but that just made her all the more determined.
Category | General

all walks of life
Occupations, roles, social class, or lifestyle.
Those who attended the wedding represented all walks of life.
Category | Life

all's fair in love and war.
In love or in war, you are allowed to be deceitful in order to get what you want.
To get her to go out with him, he lied and told her that is very rich. All's fair in love and war.
Category | War

along the lines
in a general direction or manner.
I was thinking along the lines of a vegetable garden, but I could be persuaded to include some perennials.
Category | General

an act of war
An act which is considered violent enough to cause war.
Bombing the United States naval base at pearl harbor was considered an act of war.
Category | War

an arm and a leg
a lot of money.
These glasses cost me an arm and a leg.
Category | Parts of the body

an eye for an eye
(also, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.) said to suggest that punishment should equal the crime. At the root of this principle is that one of the purposes of the law is to provide equitable retribution for an offended party.
In some countries, justice operates on the principle of an eye for an eye. That is, if you kill someone, you desrve to die.
Category | Parts of the body

another nail in one's coffin
One in a series of events which lead to downfall or inevitable failure.
After the bankruptcy and the death of his only son, divorce is just another nail in his coffin.
Category | Death

any minute soon now
(also any moment/second/time now) very soon
The news about the president's resignation will be broadcasted on TV any moment now.
Category | Time

any port in a storm
An unfavorable option which might well be avoided in good times but which nevertheless looks better than the alternatives at the current time.
That horrible hotel was a case of any port in a storm as we couldn't find any place to spend the night.
Category | Travel

apple of somebody's eye
said about someone whom you love the most and you are very proud of.
His son is the apple of his eye.
Category | Food

are your ears burning?
said about someone who was not present but was the topic of discussion.
We were just talking about you. Are your ears burning?
Category | Parts of the body

as bald as a cue ball
(also as bald as a coot) completely bald.
His father was as bald as a cue ball!
Category | sport

as blind as a bat
Said about someone who can't see very well or can't see anything at all.
He is as blind as a bat. He must wear glasses.
Category | Health

as gentle as a lamb
Said about kind , innocent, mild-mannered people.
She is as gentle as a lamb. That's why everybody likes her.
Category | Animals

at death's door
About to die; in a life-threatening state of health
There were rumors that the president was murdered, or at death's door.
Category | Death

at the wheel
Driving; in control of a vehicle.
You know he fell asleep at the wheel. They were so lucky they didn't have an accident.
Category | Travel

at your mother's knee
said about something that you learned when you were a child.
She learned to sing at her mother's knee.

back the wrong horse
to support someone or something that later cannot be successful.
Don't back the wrong horse! You know he cannot win the elections.
Category | Animals

backseat driver
1. A passenger in a car who insists on giving the driver directions.
2. Anybody offering unsolicited or unwelcome advice.
My brother is such a backseat driver. I hate traveling with him.
Category | Travel

bad blood
unpleasant feeling between different people.
There is bad blood between Nancy and Leila. They are rarely in good terms with each other.
Category | Relationship

bad egg
bad person
Just ignore him. He's a bad egg.
Category | Food

bag of bones
an extremely thin person.
He's turning into a bag of bones. He lost so much weight.
Category | Health

bag of tricks
a set of techniques and methods.
Why don't you use your bag of tricks to help us solve this problem?
Category | General

ball of fire
a person who is especially hard-working, high-achieving, ambitious, or active.
They say he is a real ball of fire. He has already demonstrated his wish to climb higher.
Category | Sport

ball someone or something up
1. To make a mess of, destroy or ruin; to interfere with someone or something.
2. To roll something up into a ball.
1. Someone has balled my car up.
2. She balled the paper up in anger.

Category | sport

(Also a ball-buster.) This refers either to a job or situation that is demanding and arduous and punishing or to a demanding woman who destroys men's confidence.
My job is such a ball-breaker! My boss expects me to work over the weekend again.
Men try to avoid her because she is a real ball-breaker.

Category | sport

banana repulic
A small country, especially one in Central America, that is dependent on a single export commodity (traditionally bananas) and that has a corrupt, dictatorial government.
Banana republic countries need democratization.
Category | Food

bank on
to expect something or rely on.
Can I bank on your friend's predictions about the stock market?

Category | Money

baptim of fire
said about a very difficult first experience someone undergoes.
My first day as the manager of the restaurant was a real baptism of fire.
Category | Religion

be a barrel of laughs
be enjoyable or entertaining.
This movie is a real barrel of laughs.
Category | General

be a chicken
be a coward.
Don't be a chicken. Talk to her about your love for her.
Category | Animals

be a cold fish
be a person who is distant and unfeeling
He rarely talks to his colleagues. He's a cold fish.
Category | Animals

be an item
said about a couple when they are having a romantic relationship.
I heard that Leila and Joe are an item.
Category | Relationship

be better than sex
said about something which is very enjoyable or exciting.
Riding a horse is a real fun. It's better than sex.
Category | Sexuality

be dead in the water
said when something has no chance of succeeding or of making any progress.
Our projects will be dead in the water if we don't have a good plan.
Category | Nature

be dead to the world
to be sleeping.
I think she has woken up. She was dead to the world ten minutes ago.
Category | Nature

be full of beans
said about someone who is active, lively, healthy and has a lot of energy and enthusiasm.
He's always full of beans when he goes to work.
Category | Health

be glad to see the back of someone
To be happy to get rid of someone; to be happy because someone has left.
The youg man was glad to see the back of his father-in-law after he had stayed for a month.
Category | Parts of the body

be in black and white
(also be down in black and white) to be written down.
My conditions to accept the job were in black and white in the contract.
Category | Colors

be in deep water
to be in serious trouble.
The government is in deep water because of its plans for tax increases.
Category | Nature

be in hot water
to be in a difficult situation
He was in hot water because of his speech about racism.
Category | Nature

be in somebody's shoes
to be in the situation that another person is in.
I wouldn't like to be in Nancy's shoes. She'll have a lot of problems with her boss.
Category | Clothes

be in the land of the living
be awake or to be alive.
He was working all night long. I don't think he'll be in the land of the living before noon.
I haven't seen him for ages. I'm surprised to find him stil in the land of the living

Category | Nature

be like a fish out of water
to feel uncomfortable in a situation
After her divorce, she was like a fish out of water.
Category | Animals

be on cloud nine
feel extreme happiness or elation
She was on cloud nine when he proposed to marry her.
Category | numbers

be on the ball
to be well-informed and respond promptly.
We need someone who's on the ball to help us implement our plan.
Category | sport

bean counter
An accountant.
The company is hiring a new accountant.
Category | Work

beat a dead horse
(Also flog a dead horse.) To persist or continue far beyond any purpose, interest or reason.
If you continue talking about something that cannot be changed, you are beating a dead horse.
Category | Animals

beat a retreat
to leave hastily in the face of opposition.
When they saw the police coming, they beat a retreat.
Category | Sport

beat around the bush
To treat a topic, without mentioning its main points, often intentionally, because the topic is difficult or unpleasant.
Stop beating around the bush and tell me what the the problem is!
Category | Nature

beat the clock
To do something before a deadline.
They managed to beat the clock and arrive a few minutes before the conference started.
Category | Time

beats me
(Aso it beats me) I don't know; I have no idea.
Mickeal: What's the longest river in the world?
Alan: Beats me!

Category | sport

beef up
To strengthen or make something more effective.
They beefed up their offer with anther million dollar.
Category | Animals

before you can say Jack Robinson
very quickliy.
He can do difficult mathemaical operations before you can say Jack Robinson.
Category | Names

behind bars
in jail or prison.
That guy over there has been behind bars for five years.
Category | General

behind closed doors
in private; in one's private life.
What you do with your partners behind closed doors is none of my business.
Category | General

behind one's back
In one's absence
He was talking nonsense on my back when I arrived.
Category | Parts of the body

Benjamin of the family
This regers to the youngest child of the family.
Bill is the benjamin of the family.
Category | Names

better the devil you know
(also better the devil you know than the devil you don't) it is sometimes better to deal with someone or thing you know than to deal with a new person or thing who could be even worse.
Nancy is such a difficult girl to work with, but better the devil you know.
Category | Religion

between life and death
A situation involving the danger of dying or being killed.
The little kid lay all night long between life and death.
Category | Death

big bucks
Lots of money.
The new managing director must be making big bucks after his promotion.
Category | Money

big deal
Something very important, difficult, or of concern.
It's no big deal if you don't finish.
Category | General

big fish in a small pond
One who has achieved a high rank or is highly esteemed, but only in a small, relatively unimportant, or little known location or organization.
Dr. Jones could get a professorship at an Ivy League university, but he enjoys being a big fish in a small pond too much to ever leave Hannover College.
Category | Animals

big mouth
said about someone who tend to say things which are meant to be kept secret.
He is such a big mouth.He told them every thing.
Category | Parts of the body

big wheel
A person with a great deal of power or influence, especially a high-ranking person in an organization.
She's a big wheel at IBM.
Category | General

bite me
An expression of discontent, aggravation or anger.
Why are you shouting like that? Oh, bite me!
Category | General

bite the dust
to die.
The soldier bit the dust in the battle field.
Category | Death

bite your lip
to make an effort not to react to something.
He didn't like the management of the business but he had to bite his lip.
Category | Parts of the body

bitter pill to swallow
(Also swallow a bitter pill) Said about something unpleasant that must be accepted or endured.
After the disappointment and defeat, to declare bankruptcy was a bitter pill to swallow for him.
Category | Health

black and blue
covered in bruises
He was black and blue the day after the accident

Category | colors

black out
to lose consciousness.
He blacked out when he fell.
Category | Health

black sheep
A disreputable member of a family or a group.
They say he's the black sheep of the Bakers.
Category | Colors

said when you have a simplistic opinion about situations while they are in fact more complicated.
I think terrorism isn't a black-and-white issue.
Category | Colors

blessing in desguise
a blessing in disguise is said when a misfortune has some unexpected benefits
His failure to pass the exam was a blessing in disguise. This made him realize the importance of hard work.
Category | General

blind date
A social meeting where the two people have never met before.
I went on a blind date yesterday but it was a total fiasco.
Category | Love

blood is thicker than water
family relations are more important than all other relationships.
Even if Nancy and her brother often argue, they always forgive each other. Blood is thicker than water.
Category | Relationship

blow a fuse
become uncontrolably angry; lose your temper.
Hey, don't blow a fuse.
Category | Technology and Science

blow a kiss
To kiss one's hand, then blow on the hand in a direction towards the recipient.
We haven't yet kissed, but she blew me a kiss as the train pulled out of the station. That meant a lot to me
Category | General

blow one's own horn
(also toot one's own horn) to brag; to talk boastfully.
Nancy likes to blow her own horn.
Category | Music

blue-eyed boy
(also fair-haired boy) a person highly regarded by someone and treated with special favor
He was the blue-eyed boy of the boss.
Category | colors

Bob’s your uncle
Said to mean "No problem", "the solution is simple", "there you have it" (appended to the end of a description of how to achieve something).
You want to go to the stadium? Go straight on until you reach the park, take the first left and Bob’s your uncle!
Category | Names

boots on the ground
The ground forces actually fighting in a war or conflict at the time of speaking, rather than troops not engaged or being transported to the fighting.
The Pentagon may say we have enough, but that's not what I'm hearing from the boots on the ground.
Category | clothes

bright as a button
He has a daughter who is as bight as a button.
Category | Technology and Science

bring home the bacon
get a job and bring home money earned from this job.
When her husband got fired, she decided to look for a job because someone's got to bring home the bacon.
Category | Food

bring to knees
to destroy or defeat someone or something.
Sanctions were imposed in an attempt to bring the country to its knees.
The strikes brought the economy to its knees.

Category | Parts of the body

browned off
annoyed, upset, angry, bored, fed up, disgusted.
He was browned off when he was ill treated.
Category | colors

build bridges
to improve relationships between people.
They wanted to build bridges between Nancy and Alan to settle the conflict once for all.
Category | Relationship

burn the midnight oil
Work hard, especially late into the night.
She was burning the midnight oil preparing for her daughter's wedding when she had a heart attack.
Category | Work

butter up
To praise or flatter excessively.
Why are you buttering up the boss?
Category | Food

button (up) one's lip
to stop talking.
Please, button up your lip and keep the news secret till tomorrow.
Category | Technology and Science

by the grace of God
Through the kindness and help of God.
By the grace of God, his son managed to pass the exam.
Category | Religion

by the name of
I met a doctor by the name of John.
Category | Names

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