Important Idioms and Phrases

All Important Idioms and Phrases

  1. Bad patches- professional difficulties
  2. Stake on thin ice- to take risk deliberately
  3. Shades of gray- not clear if right or wrong
  4. Line in the sand a limit or boundary on something
  5. Stiff upper lip- to be brave in difficult time
  6. Keep your nose clean- to stay away from unnecessary fights
  7. Walk on the eggshell- to take action not to offend anyone/work with great attention or care
  8. Bun in the oven- to be pregnant or to be expecting a baby
  9. Whoop it up- enjoy in a noisy way usually in a group
  10. With a vengeance- used to emphasize the degree to which something occurs
  11. Reap the whirlwind- to suffer the negative consequences of one’s action
  12. Of the first water- of the best quality
  13. Weather the storm- survive in a difficult situation or period without being seriously harmed by it
  14. Wear the green willow- grief or unrequited love
  15. Wild and wooly- uncouth in appearance or behavior
  16. Give it a whirl- to try out something
  17. As hard as nails – unrelenting (Having or exhibiting uncompromising determination)
  18. At loose ends- in an uncertain situation
  19. Take up the hatchet- prepare for or go to war
  20. Batten down the hatches- prepare for a challenging or difficult situation
  21. Over egg the pudding – add unnecessary details to make something seem better or worse
  22. From stem to stern – all the way from the front of a ship to the back
  23. Do a runner- to leave a place in hurry
  24. Pull a fast one – play a trick
  25. Held up- delay
  26. As daft as a brush- extremely silly
  27. At sea – at a loss/ total confused
  28. Turn down- reject
  29. But in – interrupt
  30. A house of cards- an insecure scheme
  31. Drive home- emphasize/ to make somebody understand or accept something
  32. Call on – pay a visit
  33. All moonshine – far from reality
  34. Hope against hope – nurture an impossible hope
  35. Drag one’s feet/ heels- to be deliberately slow in doing something or in making a decision
  36. Beggar description – can’t be described
  37. Smooth ruffled feathers-to make people feel less offended or angry
  38. A brown study- reverie
  39. Ivory tower- a situation where you are separated from the problems and practical aspects of normal life(detachment and seclusion)
  40. Wiped the nose of – cheated
  41. Palm off– to dispose-off with the intent to deceive
  42. Zero hour– the time at which a planned operation, typically a military one, is set to begin.
  43. Young Turk– a young person eager for radical change to the established order.
  44. wrong-foot- put (someone) in a difficult situation by saying or doing something unexpected.
  45. wrong end of the stick– misunderstanding / to judge something wrong by mistake
  46. Writing on the wall- said to mean that there are clear signs that something will fail or no longer exist
  47. Back against the wall– in a very bad position or situation/ an inextricable position
  48. Write large- clear and obvious.
  49. Worth your salt- respected and awful
  50. Word of mouth-spoken communication as a means of transmitting information.
  51. Within a whisker- almost done or about to happen or almost finish a task
  52. With flying colours- with distinction.
  53. With a heavy hand-in a strict way, exerting a lot of control.
  54. Window dressing- something used to create a deceptively favorable or attractive impression.
  55. Win by a nose- To succeed or defeat someone in something by only a very narrow margin.
  56. Wide of the mark- 1. Literally, to be far from hitting a target.  2. By extension, to be inaccurate or wrong.
  57. Whole new ball game– A situation that is completely different from what one is used to or expecting./ completely new and unexpected
  58. Whet your appetite- To induce or increase one’s interest in something.
  59. Wakeup call- a warning to take action concerning something that was overlooked or neglected
  60. Walk a tightrope– to be in a difficult situation in which a very small mistake could have very bad results
  61. Walking on air– to be very happy
  62. Weather a storm- To reach the end of a very difficult situation without too much harm or damage.
  63. Well-heeled- very rich
  64. Well oiled- slang drunk/ drink too much
  65. Wet blanket– A person who discourages enjoyment or enthusiasm
  66. Volte face-A complete change of opinion or belief.
  67. Vicious circle- a continuing unpleasant situation, created when one problem causes another problem that then makes the first problem worse: Many people get caught/trapped in a vicious circle of dieting and weight gain.
  68. Vent the spleen- to show or voice one’s anger- to get rid of one’s feelings of anger caused by someone or something by attacking someone or something else.
  69. Upper hand– A position of advantage, power, and/or control (over someone, something, or some situation)
  70. Upper crust- people of upper class
  71. Up the ante- To increase the level of something, often one related to money.
  72. Up in the air- uncertain
  73. Up for grabs-  Available to anyone; unclaimed./ In a state of chaos
  74. Under fire – criticize by everyone
  75. Uncharted waters- A situation or circumstance that is foreign, unclear, or unfamiliar and which may be dangerous or difficult as a result.
  76. Uncalled for– Unjust, undeserved or inappropriate.
  77. Turn an honest penny– To earn money in an honorable and legitimate way, typically through one’s hard work.
  78. The man in the street– common people
  79. Twist someone’s arm– To pressure or force one into doing something.
  80. Turn the tables– complete opposite situation
  81. Turn a blind eye to – To knowingly ignore some wrongdoing.
  82. the be all and end all– a feature of an activity or a way of life that is of greater importance than any other (final result)
  83. Take it in your stride – to control a difficult situation
  84. Take it on the chin – to accept unpleasant events bravely and without complaining.
  85. Take stock of – (to analyze) to think carefully about a situation or event and form an opinion about it, so that you can decide what to do
  86. Take the plunge –  to make a decision to do something, especially after thinking about it for a long time
  87. By the seat of one’s pant– to do something by using one’s own experience and judgement
  88. All good things must come to an end– even enjoyable experiences can’t last forever
  89. You can say it again– to express agreement
  90. The elephant in the room– an obvious problem that no one wants to discuss
  91. No horse in the race- to have no vested interest in the outcome of a contest
  92. X marks the spot– an exact location
  93. Blood in thicker than water– family relation and loyalties are most important
  94. Talk shop– to discuss a business to a person not related to that business
  95. Teething problems – starting issues
  96. Tempt providence – do something that is risky
  97. The commonweal – benefits of common people
  98. Thick and fast – speedily
  99. Thick-skinned – not easily upset or offended by criticism
  100. Thin-skinned – sensitive to criticism or insult
  101. Throwdown the gauntlet/glove – to challenge
  102. Throw someone in at the deep end – to make someone start a new and difficult job or activity without helping or preparing them for it
  103. Throw your weight around – to use your position or influence unfairly to get what you want
  104. Time and again – repeatedly
  105. Tip of the iceberg – a small part of much bigger problem
  106. To a T – perfectly or exactly right/accurate
  107. Toe the line – to follow/ obey
  108. Top notch – high quality
  109. Tough/ hard nut to crack – difficult to deal with
  110. Tread water – to not be advancing in any way
  111. Tug at the heartstrings – to stir one’s emotions
  112. sharp practice–  Underhanded, deceitful, cunning, or particularly sneaky practice, especially in business
  113. show the white feather-behave in a cowardly fashion.
  114. sit in judgment-assume the right to judge someone, especially in a critical manner.
  115. Stand-offish – unfriendly
  116. Sweeping statement– a statement which applies to all things of a particular kind, although they have not considered all the relevant facts carefully
  117. Square up – to prepare to fight, compete, or argue with someone
  118. Smack in the face – a shock usually one that impedes progress
  119. Smoking gun – indisputable evidence of a crime
  120. Soft option- the easiest of two or more possible choices
  121. Sow your wild oats- engage in a period of wild or irresponsible behavior while young, especially involving many casual sexual relationships
  122. Spanner in the works – reason to spoil a plan
  123. Speak volumes of/for – makes an opinion, characteristics or situation very clear
  124. Spin a yarn – tell a story especially a long drawn-out or totally fanciful
  125. Spit blood – became very angry
  126. Split hairs– make small and overfine distinctions
  127. Spot on – accurate
  128. Spur of the moment– decision or action without planning
  129. Stand in good stead – useful and beneficial especially of a talent, ability or experience
  130. Start from scratch – to begin from beginning
  131. State of the art– modern and advance
  132. Steal a march over – to gain an unexpected or surreptitious advantage over someone or something
  133. Step on it – go faster or hurry up
  134. Step on someone’s toes – to upset someone
  135. To stick your neck out – take risk
  136. Sticky end – an unpleasant finish/death
  137. Stiff-necked – haughty and stubborn
  138. Straight face – a serious or impassive facial expression
  139. Strike a chord /touch a chord – to say or do something that other people agree with or have sympathy with
  140. Sweep things under the carpet – to ignore deny or conceal from public view or damage one’s plan or reputation
  141. Swim or go against the tide– go against of prevailing opinion or thought
  142. Swim or go with the tide – go along with prevailing opinion or thought
  143. Set the bait – laid the trap
  144. Set the record straight– to put right a mistake or misunderstanding
  145. Set their one’s face against – resist with determination
  146. Shake in one’s shoes– to be very nervous or afraid of often visible so
  147. Red tape- a lot of forms and procedures that have to be done so the governments insurance companies etc can approve something
  148. Rest on your laurels- be so satisfied with what one has already done or achieved that one makes no further effort
  149. Without rhyme or reason- no logical reason
  150. Ride high- be successful
  151. Rue the day- to feel sorry about an event
  152. Run amok or gone amok- to make a furious and desperate charge, to behave without control in a wild or dangerous manner
  153. Run the gauntlet- criticism
  154. Run of the mill- lacking unusual or special aspect
  155. Rusty needle- badly damaged but still works
  156. Ride roughshod over- to treat someone or something with brutality or disdain
  157. Run halter skelter– disorder confused, random movement
  158. Run its course- complete its natural development without interference
  159. Sacred cow– honorable person never criticized
  160. Safe bet- safe and sound
  161. Sail in the same boat– in a same (adverse) situation
  162. Save someone’s bacon- rescue someone from danger or difficulty
  163. Save your skin- save oneself from danger
  164. See eye to eye– to agree
  165. See red – upset angry suddenly
  166. Seed money- money allocated to initiate a project
  167. Send someone packing– make someone leak in an abrupt
  168. Shifting sands- variable situation
  169. Fire/shoot from the hip– say anything without care of someone’s situation
  170. Short shrift– little attention or consideration
  171. Sink or swim- either must succeed by his or her own efforts or fail completely
  172. Sit pretty- in a good or beneficial situation
  173. Sit well with– to agree with or accept
  174. Sitting duck– a very easy target
  175. Slap on the wrist- a little punishment
  176. Slippery customer- someone you should not trust
  177. Photo finish- a close contest/ a race or contest in which contestants are so close to finish
  178. Pie in the sky- thought which is unlikely to happen
  179. Play by ear– to decide what to do when you know what is happening rather than planning in advance
  180. Poker face-  an impassive expression that hides one’s true feelings
  181. Prim and proper- having very traditional morally conservative beliefs and behavior
  182. Pull your chain-  to tease someone by leading them to believe something untrue
  183. Pup’s chance– no chance
  184. Put to the sword- to execute or kill or to severely defeat
  185. Put your foot down– to take a firm stand
  186. Put yourself in someone’s shoes- be or put oneself in another person’s situation or predicament
  187. Pyrrhic victory– victory with heavy loss
  188. Pass oneself off– to try to make others believe that someone or something other then what the person or thing is
  189. Pick a hole in my coat- to find faults in someone to criticize
  190. Pull one’s weight- do one’s fair share of work
  191. Pull out all the stops– make a very great effort to achieve something
  192. Put on airs- behaving like one is better than other people or behaving like boss
  193. Queer fish– a person whose behavior seems strange or unusual
  194. Quick fix- an easy fast and temporary solution of a problem
  195. Rack and ruin- to fall into severe or total decay
  196. Rack your brain – make a great effort to think of or remember something
  197. Raining cats and dogs- heavy rain
  198. Rainy day– days (times) of trouble
  199. Raise eyebrows- to show anger or surprise
  200. Red rag to a bull– something that makes someone angry
  201. Doctor the document- to manipulate the accounts
  202. Dog days – the period in the summer often thought to be hottest
  203. Dog eat dog–  a very tough competition
  204. Doubletake- a rapid or surprised second look either literal or figurative
  205. Down and out- lacking funds or prospects; destitute
  206. Down to the wire- waiting until the last minute to do something (in a competition, it is difficult to decide the winner until the last moment)
  207. Down to earth- practical reasonable and friendly
  208. Draw a blank- fail or elicit no successful response
  209. Draw the line- to put a limit on what you will do or allow to happen
  210. Drink like a fish- drink too much
  211. Drive home- to emphasize on a topic
  212. Drive someone up the wall- to upset or trouble someone
  213. Dry run– rehearsal before actual performances
  214. Draw on his fancy- use of imagination in a work(like to write a poem)
  215. Elbow room– enough space or freedom
  216. Even keel- in balanced position
  217. Every nook and cranny- at every possible places
  218. Eye for an eye– tit for tat
  219. Eyewash- deceive
  220. Eye opener – surprising and shocking facts
  221. Enough rope- all someone freedom to do something
  222. Explore every avenue- To investigate or pursue every possible means to find a solution to a given problem or to achieve a desired outcome.
  223. At face value- to evaluate things as it looks (not a deep evaluation)
  224. Fair crack of the whip – same opportunity
  225. Fall from grace– to fall out of favor or go down someone reputation
  226. Fall into line– disciplined
  227. Fall short on- effect less or failed
  228. Fat chance– no chance
  229. Few and far between– rarely
  230. Find your feet– to gain experience and confidence slowly
  231. Fish in troubled waters– To try to capitalize on or benefit from a situation, circumstance, or experience that is fraught with disorder, difficulty, confusion, stress, etc.
  232. Fit the bill– To be helpful, useful, or what is needed in a certain situation.
  233. Flesh and blood – relatives or family
  234. Fly in the ointment- a small, unpleasant matter that spoils something; a drawback.
  235. Fly off the handle – to become very upset
  236. Food for thought – topics or matters of deep thought or consider
  237. Fool’s paradise- completely wrong
  238. Foot in mouth-to say or do something that you should not have, esp. something that embarrasses someone else
  239. Foot the bill – pay the bill
  240. For the time being – for a little time
  241. Foregone conclusion– clear conclusion
  242. Foul play – crime or evil deed
  243. Freudian slip– say something without thinking
  244. From scratch – from the beginning
  245. Full monty- the most or best that you can have, do, get, or achieve, or all that you want or need or appropriate things
  246. Full throttle- with full energy and zeal
  247. Fullness of time- appropriate time
  248. Fall back – back out or back off
  249. Fall foul of – To become disliked or to come in conflict with someone or something due to one’s actions, often resulting in further trouble or conflict.
  250. Get a handle on– To have a firm, clear understanding or determination of something.
  251. Get wind of – to know a secret
  252. Give up the ghost- to die
  253. Go awry– the situation is falling apart in a negative sense, unraveling, gotten chaotic and disorderly, and certainly not the anticipated outcome.
  254. Go bananas- to become crazy, to explode with anger or to erupt with enthusiasm
  255. Go dust– to destroy or damage
  256. Go Dutch– share the cost of something specially a meal
  257. Go hand in hand- walk together
  258. Go nuts- to become crazy
  259. Go the distance- carry through a course of action to completion
  260. Go the extra miles– make a special effort to achieve something
  261. Go the whole hog- to do something as entirely or completely as possible
  262. Go to the wire– take risk everything for the sake of someone’s help
  263. Gone fishing- not aware of happenings around them
  264. Gone to the dogs- deteriorate shockingly specially in behavior or morals
  265. Greek to me- something abstruse
  266. Greenhorn – experience less
  267. Grey area- a concept or topic that is not clearly defined or that exist somewhere between them
  268. Grey cells– brain
  269. Grey matter– intelligence or brain
  270. Grist for the mill- everything can be made useful
  271. Get a raw deal- to receive unfair or poor treatment in a particular situation
  272. Get one’s own back – have one’s revenge
  273. Get one’s point across– to make people understand what one is saying
  274. Get the sack– get dismissed
  275. Give currency- to spread a story around or to make something seem more credible or probable
  276. Give it a shot- to try something often from the first time
  277. Give the game away– to reveal a secret
  278. Go a long way– to become successful
  279. Go to the winds–  disappeared, passed vanished permanently or completely
  280. Green fingers or green thumb– very good at gardening
  281. Hale and hearty- completely healthy
  282. Half baked- without- not fully planned or carefully considered, ill-conceived, unsound or badly thought-out; (of a person) foolish or having no common sense.
  283. (Win) hands down – to win easily
  284. Hang by a thread– be in a highly precarious state(be in a risky or unstable situation)
  285. Hangdog expression – look sad and often guilty or ashamed
  286. Hard up– lack of money
  287. (not mark) head or tail of something – something not understands
  288. Head over heels– turning over completely in forwarding motion as in a somersault/ madly in love
  289. Heart in your mouth – nervous or afraid
  290. Heavy-handed – using too much force in dealing with someone
  291. High handed – using power or authority without considering the feelings of others
  292. (hunt) high and low – to look everywhere for someone or something
  293. Hit or miss – uncertain
  294. Hit the bull’s eye – hit the target/ certain or accurate
  295. Hit the nail on the head – exactly and right
  296. Hop skip (step) and a jump – a short distance
  297. Hope against hope – to be very hopeful to happen although knowing that it is not likely happen
  298. Horns of a dilemma – choose between two equally undesirable alternatives
  299. Hunky-dory – satisfactory and pleasant
  300. Have a way with words – to have talent in the effective or stylish use of words
  301. Have the last laugh – finally successful
  302. Have too many irons in the fire – involved with many activities or jobs at the same time or to make certain that there are always several possibilities available
  303. Head will roll – people will be dismissed or forced to resign
  304. Whole nine-yard– everything possible or available
  305. Birds of a feather folk together– people with the same taste or interest will be found together
  306. To chew someone out – to reprimand someone severely
  307. To chip on his shoulder- holding a grudge or grievance that readily provoke a fight
  308. Feeding frenzy-an episode of frantic competition for something
  309. To cry wolf – to raise a false alarm
  310. To cut to chase- to come to the point
  311. To drive someone up the wall- to make someone very irritated
  312. Finding your feet- adjust to a new place or a new situation
  313. To have a field day- to be able to do something that you enjoy especially criticizing someone
  314. To crack someone up – to make someone laugh
  315. Whoop it up – Enjoying in a noisy way, usually in a group
  316. With a vengeance – Used to emphasize the degree to which something occurs
  317. Up against the wall – In an inextricable situation ( in a very bad position or situation)
  318. Reap the whirlwind – Suffer negative consequences as a result of one’s actions
  319. Of the first water – Of the best quality
  320. Weather the storm – Survive a period of difficulty
  321. Spin your wheels – Waste your time or efforts
  322. With the green wallow – Suffer unrequited love
  323. Wild and woolly – Uncouth in appearance or behavior
  324. Give it a whirl – To try out something
  325. Jog someone’s memory  – To cause someone to remember something
  326. Be in the red – To be in debt
  327. Foot the bill – To pay for something
  328. Catch 22 – A Particular situation in which one cannot do anything
  329. Carry the can – To take the responsibility of some misdemeanor (minor doings)
  330. Paper over the cracks – To hide problems
  331. Be a dab hand at something – Skilled in a particular area
  332. Get cracking – To start doing something
  333. A hair’s breadth – Telling about the smallest possible amount or degree of something
  334. Come hell or high water – No matter whatever difficulties may occur
  335. Hornet’s nest – A troublesome situation
  336. In the teeth of – Inspite of something
  337. In a flutter – In a nervous state
  338. All Greek to me – Incomprehensible (that can’t explain)
  339. Mealy mouthed – Unwilling to state something
  340. No love lost – Intense Dislike
  341. Out of sorts – To be unwell
  342. Pay lip service – Pretend to regard
  343. Rip up old sores – To revive forgotten quarrel
  344. Rule to roost – To dominate
  345. Alarums and Excursions – Confused activity and uproar
  346. Up in the air ( about someone or something ) – Still to be settled
  347. Give oneself airs  -Pretend to be good  (to act in a way that shows one thinks one is better than other people She’s very rich, but she        doesn’t give herself airs.)
  348. Alphabet  soup – Incomprehensible or confusing mix
  349. Be all one to – make no difference
  350. An article of faith – A firmly held belief
  351. In the ascendant – Rising in power or influence
  352. Bring home the bacon – Supply material support
  353. Have the ball at your feet – To be in the best position to do something
  354. Banana Oil – Nonsense talk
  355. As fit as a fiddle  – Strong and healthy
  356. Argus eyed – Observant
  357. To bid defiance  – To disregard recklessly
  358. With bated breath – In anxiety
  359. To clip one’s wings – To restrict someone’s freedom
  360. Cloven hoof – The evil intention
  361. Draconian law –  Extremely severe law
  362. To fall flat – To have no effect
  363. To gird up the lions – To prepare for hard work
  364. High and mighty – Arrogant
  365. Play one’s act – To use one’s best weapon or resource
  366. Aid and abet – To help someone to commit a crime
  367. All over hell’s half-acre – Everywhere
  368. An arrow in the quiver – Strategies that can be followed
  369. Like a shag on a rock – Completely alone
  370. Asleep at the wheel -No attentive to one’s duties
  371. The ayes have it – The affirmative votes are in the majority
  372. Dust and ashes – Something that is very disappointing
  373. Be full of beans – Full of energy and life
  374. To get more kicks than halfpence – Harsh treatment that rewards
  375. A purple weight – an ornate portion in a literary work
  376. Pyrrhic victory – a victory that brings more loss than gain
  377. A quid pro quo– something done in revenge and retaliation

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