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idioms and phrases pdf with examples
A bridge too far- A bridge too far is an act of overreaching-
going too far and getting into trouble or failing. A penny for your thoughts- This idiom is used as a way of asking someone what they are thinking about.
Add fuel to the fire- If people add fuel to the fire, it will burn with more intensity. Therefore, it means to make a bad situation worse.
Add insult to injury- When people add insult to injury, they make a bad situation even worse.
Air your dirty laundry in public- If you air your dirty laundry in public, you reveal aspects of your private life that should really remain private, by telling a secret, arguing in public, etc.
All ears If someone says they’re all ears, they are interested in hearing about something.
All roads lead to Rome- This means that there can be many different ways of doing something.
All your eggs in one basket- If you put all your eggs in one basket, you risk everything at once, instead of trying to spread the risk. (This is often used as a negative imperative- ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’.)
do it. As a rule- If you do something as a rule, then you usually
At a snail’s pace- If something moves at a snail’s pace, it moves very slowly.
At arm’s length- If something is at arm’s length, it is a safe distance away from you.
At odds If you are at odds with someone, you cannot agree with them and argue.
At the end of the day- This is used to mean ‘in conclusion’ or ‘when all is said and done’.
Axe to grind If you have an axe to grind with someone
or about something, you have a grievance, resentment and you want to get revenge or sort it out.
Back to square one- If you are back to square one, you have to start from the beginning again.
Ball is in your court- If the ball is in your court, it is up to you to make the next decision or step.
Bear the brunt- To bear the negative consequences
At odds If you are at odds with someone, you cannot
agree with them and argue. At the end of the day- This is used to mean ‘in conclusion’ or ‘when all is said and done’.
Beat about the bush- If someone doesn’t say clearly what they mean and try to make it hard to understand, they are beating about (around) the bush.
Behind bars When someone is behind bars, they are in prison.
Behind closed doors- If something happens away from the public eye, it happens behind closed doors.
Better half- Your better half is your husband or wife. Beyond belief- If people behave in such a way that you find it almost impossible to accept that they actually did it, then
you can say that their behaviour was beyond belief.
Blessing in disguise- If some bad luck or misfortune ultimately results in something positive, it’s a blessing in disguise.
Blow your own trumpet- If someone blows their own trumpet, they boast about their talents and achievements.
Born with a silver spoon in your mouth- If you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth, you are bom into a rich family.
To make both ends meet- If you make both ends meet, you live off the money you earn and don’t go into debt.
Bread and butter- Bread and butter issues are ones that affect people directly and in a very important way. Bridge the gap If you bridge the gap, you make a
connection where there is a great difference. Brush under the carpet- If you brush something under the carpet, you are making an attempt to ignore it, or hide it from others.
Basics of English Language 53
Bundle of nerves Someone who is a bundle of nerves is very worried or nervous.
Burn the candle at both ends Someone who bums the candle at both endsflect the hea hectic pace, doing things
which are likely to affect their health badly Busy as a bee- If you are as busy as a bee, you are very busy indeed.
By hook or by crook- If you are prepared to do something by hook or by crook, you are willing to do anything, good or bad, to reach your goal.
To build castles in the air- Plans that are impractical and will never work out are castles in the air.
Close to your heart- If something is close to your heart, you care a lot about it. (‘ Dear to your heart’ is an alternative.)
Cold shoulder- If you give or show someone the cold shoulder, you are deliberately unfriendly and uncooperative towards them.
Count your blessings- When people count their blessings, they concentrate on all the good things in their lives instead of the negative ones.
Crack of dawn- The crack of dawn is very early in the morning.
Crocodile tears- If someone cries crocodile tears, they pretend to be upset or affected by something.
Do’s and don’t’s- The do’s and don’t’s are what is acceptable or allowed or not within an area or issue, etc.
Drop in the ocean- A drop in the ocean implies that
something will have little effect because it is small and mostly
Insignificant. Eagle’s eyes Someone has eagle eyes sees everything; no detail is too small.
Earn a living- To make money, Example: We need to get a good job to earn a decent living.
Easier said than done- If something is easier said than done, it is much more difficult than it sounds. It is often used when someone advises you to do something difficult and tries make it sound easy.
most important idioms and phrases
Just for the heck of it when someone does something Just for the heck of it, they do it without a good reason. Keep in touch- If you keep in touch with someone, you keep communicating with them even though you may live far apart.
Keep someone at arm’s length- If you keep someone or something at arm’s length, you keep a safe distance away from them.
Keep your fingers crossed- If you are keeping your fingers crossed, you are hoping for a positive outcome.
Larger than life- If something is excessive or exaggerated, it is larger than life.
Leave no stone unturned- If you look everywhere to find something, or try everything to achieve something, you leave no stone unturned.
Left in the dark- If you are left in the dark about something, you aren’t given the information that you should have.
Lend an ear- If you lend an ear, you listen to what someone has to say. (‘Lend your ear’ is an alternative form.)
Like a fish out of water- If someone feels like a fish out of water, they are very uncomfortable in the situation they are in.
Make a mountain out of a molehill- If somebody makes a mountain out of a molehill, they exaggerate the importance or seriousness of a problem.
Make ends meet- If somebody finds it hard to make ends meet, they have problems living on the money they earn.
Matter of life and death- If something is a matter of life and death, it is extremely important.
Nerves of steel- If someone has nerves of steel, they don’t get frightened when other people do.
Not my cup of tea- If something is not your cup of tea, you don’t like it very much.
Off the record- Something off the record is said in confidence because the speaker doesn’t want it attributed to them, especially whentalking to the media.
On top of the world- If you are on top of the world, thing in a blue moon- if something happens once in a everything is going well for you. blue moon, it happens very rarely indeed.
Open book If a person is an open book, it is easy to know what they think or how they feel about things.
Other side of the coin- The other side of the coin is a different, usually opposing, view of a situation. (‘Flip side of the
coin’ is an alternative.) Out of hand- If something gets out of hand, it gets out of control.
Presence of mind- If someone behaves calmly and rationally in difficult circumstances, they show presence of mind. Put all your eggs in one basket- If you put all your eggs
in one basket, you risk everything on a single opportunity which,
like eggs breaking, could go wrong. Rags to riches- Someone who starts life very poor and becomes rich goes from rags to riches.
Read between the lines If you read between the lines, you find the real message in what you’re reading or hearing, a meaning that is not available from a literal interpretation of the words.
Rome was not built in a day- This idiom means that many things cannot be done instantly, and require time and patience.
Safe and sound If you arrive safe and sound, then nothing has harmed you on your way.
See eye to eye- If people see eye to eye, they agree about everything.
Show your true colours- To show your true colours is to reveal yourself as you really are.
Silence is golden- It is often better to say nothing than to talk, so silence is golden.
Small fry- If someone is small fry, they are unimportant. The term is often used when the police arrest the less important criminals, but are unable to catch the leaders and masterminds.
Sow the seeds When people sow the seeds, they start
something that will have much greater impact in the future. Spick and span- If a room is spick and span, it is very clean and tidy.
Spur of the momente calf you do something on the spur of the moment, you gott because you felt like it at that sour without any planning or preparation.
Sweep things under the carpet- If people try to ignore unpleasant things and forget about them, they sweep them under the carpet.
Tables are turned- When the tables are turned, the situation has changed giving the advantage to the party who had previously been at a disadvantage.
Take for granted-If you take something for granted, you don’t worry or think about it because you assume you will always have it.
Grass is always greener- This idiom means that what other people have or do looks preferable to our life. The complete phrase is The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’.
Throw caution to the wind- When people throw caution to the wind, they take a great risk.
Throw your weight around If someone throws their weight around, they use their authority or force of personality to get what they want in the face of opposition.
Tie the knot- When people tie the knot, they get married.
Tied to your mother’s apron strings Describes a child (often a boy), who is so used to his mother’s care that he (or she) cannot do anything on his (or her) own.
Turn a blind eye- When people turn a blind eye, they deliberately ignore something, especially if people are doing something wrong.
Turn a deaf ear If someone turns a deaf ear to you, they don’t listen to you. Turn a new leaf- If someone turns a new leaf, they change
their behaviour and stop doing wrong things Uncalled for- If someone does something bad and unnecessary without consideration for another’s feelings,