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350 Idiomatic Expressions

350 Idiomatic Expressions

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350 common idiomatic expressions with sentence examples

Items (358)

  • ABOVE BOARD--His business dealings are above board.

    honest, open

  • AD LIB--The actor forgot his lines and ad libbed.

    improvise, interpolate

  • AFTER ALL--I knew it! After all, I was right! He returned to his hometown after all.

    in spite of the situation; nevertheless

  • AGAINST THE GRAIN--His plan goes against the grain with her because she doesn't like cheating.

    contrary to someone's feelings, principles

  • ALL ALONG--I knew about his little secret all along.

    from the beginning; all the time

  • ALL EARS--I am all ears.

    eager to listen

  • ALL OF A SUDDEN--All of a sudden, he refused to pay.


  • ALL THE SAME--If it's all the same to you, let's start at two.

    no difference

  • ALL THUMBS--He can't fix anything, he's all thumbs.


  • APPLE OF ONE'S EYE--Her son is the apple of her eye.

    very dear, precious

  • APPLE OF DISCORD--This question is an apple of discord in our family.

    subject of envy or quarrel

  • AS A RULE--As a rule, we offer a 5% discount.

    generally, usually

  • AS FAR AS I KNOW--As far as I know, he stayed home all day.

    if I have correct information

  • AS FAR AS SB/ST IS CONCERNED--As far as I am concerned, both the book and the movie are good. As far as your report is concerned, we'll discuss it tomorrow.

    concerning; in reference to

  • AS FOR / AS TO--As for me, you can always rely on my support. As for your report, we'll discuss it tomorrow.

    concerning; in reference to

  • AS WELL--He knows math and physics as well.

    also; too

  • AT ALL--He doesn't know French at all. I don't like it at all.

    (not) in the smallest degree

  • AT FIRST SIGHT--It was love at first sight. At first sight, it seems easy to do.

    from the first glance; at once; at first glance

  • AT ODDS WITH--He is at odds with everyone!

    in disagreement

  • AT RANDOM--He chose those places at random.

    without order or plan

  • AT THIS POINT--At this point, we can't turn back.

    at this time

  • BACKSEAT DRIVER--His wife is a backseat driver always telling him how to drive.

    a passenger who tells you how to drive

  • BALLPARK FIGURE--I can give you only a ballpark figure at this time.

    approximate estimate (in figures)

  • BARK UP THE WRONG TREE--The detective was sure he got a suspect, but he was barking up the wrong tree.

    make a false assumption or wrong choice

  • BE ABOUT TO DO SOMETHING--I was about to leave when you called. I was about to open the door, but something stopped me.

    be close to doing something; be on the verge of doing something

  • BE ALL IN--I'm all in, I'd better go to bed now.

    be extremely tired

  • BE BACK ON ONE'S FEET--He's back on his feet after a long period of debt and unemployment.

    be healthy again or better financially

  • BE BEHIND THE TIMES--Some of the managers here are behind the times; their methods are not modern.

    be old-fashioned, outdated

  • BE BESIDE ONESELF--She was beside herself with worry / with grief.

    be very upset, nervous, worried

  • BE BESIDE THE POINT--What I said to him privately is beside the point.

    be off the point

  • BE BETTER OFF--He'll be better off with a new job.

    be in a better situation (financially)

  • BE BROKE--I spent all my money, I'm broke.

    have no money at all; be penniless, bankrupt

  • BE CUT OUT TO BE SOMEONE; BE CUT OUT FOR IT--He is cut out to be a leader. She isn't cut out to be a surgeon. She isn't cut out for it.

    have the ability to do something

  • BE HARD ON SOMETHING OR SOMEONE--My son is hard on shoes; they don't last long with him. Life was pretty hard on Tom.

    treat roughly

  • BE HIGH ON ONE'S LIST--A new car is high on my list of priorities. A new TV is not high on my list.

    be one of the most important things

  • BE IN CHARGE OF SOMETHING--He is in charge of marketing.

    be responsible for

  • BE IN GOOD HEALTH--She is in good health.

    be healthy

  • BE IN POOR HEALTH--She is in poor health.

    be not healthy

  • BE IN GOOD SHAPE--He is in good shape because he exercises regularly.

    be physically fit

  • BE IN BAD SHAPE--The patient is in bad shape. His affairs are in bad shape.

    be in bad state

  • BE IN THE RED--Our sales were in the red last year.

    be in debt

  • BE ON ONE'S WAY--I'm on my way.

    coming; on way home; during the journey

  • BE ON THE POINT OF SOMETHING, BE AT THE POINT OF SOMETHING--He was on the point of death two years ago. She was on the point of telling him the truth, but his words stopped her.

    be on the verge of something; be close to doing something

  • BE OUT OF DATE--This information is out of date.

    be outdated

  • BE OUT OF SORTS--Leave him alone, he's out of sorts today.

    be in bad temper

  • BE PRESSED FOR TIME, FOR MONEY--I'm pressed for time now. We are pressed for money at the moment.

    not to have enough time, money

  • BE TO BLAME--Who is to blame for this awful mistake? Tom is to blame for this mix-up.

    be responsible for a mistake, for something wrong

  • BE TOUCH AND GO--He was very sick, and for some time it was touch and go, but he is better now.

    risky; dangerous; uncertain of the result

  • BE UP AND AROUND / ABOUT--He was sick for a month, but now he is up and around.

    able to be out of bed after an illness

  • BE UP TO ONE'S EARS IN (WORK)--I'm up to my ears in work.

    be very busy

  • BEAT AROUND THE BUSH; BEAT ABOUT THE BUSH--Stop beating around the bush! Get to the point!

    avoid giving a clear or definite answer

  • BEAT ONE'S BRAINS OUT--He beats his brains out at work, but his boss doesn't even notice his hard work.

    make great efforts, often unsuccessfully

  • BEFORE LONG--He will understand before long what a terrible mistake he has made.


  • BIG SHOT--He is a big shot around here.

    important person

  • BITE OFF MORE THAN ONE CAN CHEW--I couldn't handle two jobs and family. I really bit off more than I could chew.

    try to do more than one can

  • BITE THE BULLET--Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and to do what's necessary to do.

    accept painful but necessary action

  • BITE THE DUST--Many of them bit the dust in that war.

    die; be killed; suffer defeat

  • BITE THE HAND THAT FEEDS ONE--She is so ungrateful! She is biting the hand that feeds her!

    repay kindness with evil

  • BLACK SHEEP--Their second son is the black sheep of the family; he is good for nothing.

    a good-for-nothing member of the family

  • BLIND DATE--She refuses to go on a blind date again because she had bad experience.

    a meeting between a man and a woman (who have never met before) arranged by their friends

  • BLOW IT--He understood that he blew it.

    lose the chance

  • BOTTOM LINE--The bottom line is, I don't have enough money.

    main result; main factor

  • BREAK SOMEONE'S HEART--The news of her death broke his heart.

    hurt deeply

  • BREAK THE ICE--The party was dull until someone broke the ice with a joke, and we all laughed.

    overcome shyness in making the first step

  • BREAK THE NEWS--CNN is breaking the news right now.

    tell new important facts

  • BRING HOME THE BACON--He works very hard at several places to bring home the bacon.

    earn the living for the family

  • BY ALL MEANS--Do you need my help? - By all means.

    definitely, certainly

  • BY HEART--Learn this poem by heart for tomorrow.

    by memorizing

  • BY HOOK OR BY CROOK--She will get what she wants by hook or by crook.

    by any possible means

  • BY ONESELF (BY MYSELF, BY HIMSELF, ETC.)--She spent the evening by herself. He did it all by himself.

    alone; on one's own

  • BY THE WAY--By the way, I found the book that you recommended.


  • CALL A HALT TO SOMETHING--His father called a halt to his activity.

    terminate, stop something

  • CALL A SPADE A SPADE--He always tells the truth and calls a spade a spade.

    use plain, direct words

  • CALL IT A DAY--We've been working for ten straight hours. Let's call it a day.

    consider work finished for the day

  • CALL THE SHOTS--He calls the shots in this company.

    give orders; be in control of something

  • CALL THE TUNE--Since he was paying for it, he called the tune.

    give orders; be the most important person in some situation

  • CARRY WEIGHT--His advice always carries weight here.

    be important

  • CASTLES IN THE AIR--Instead of working hard, he spends time building castles in the air.

    daydreaming about success

  • CATCH SOMEONE'S EYE--This picture caught my eye.

    attract attention

  • CATCH ONE'S BREATH--I'm too tired to run further. I need to catch my breath.

    stop and rest

  • CATCH SOMEONE OFF GUARD--He caught me off guard with his question.

    catch someone unprepared

  • CATCH SOMEONE RE--The manager caught the boy red-handed when he was stealing cigarettes.

    anded - find someone in the act of doing wrong

  • CLOSE CALL--The speeding car almost hit the man. That was really a close call.

    a narrow escape; a bad thing that almost happened

  • COME TO ONE'S SENSES--He finally came to his senses, began to work hard, and passed his exams.

    act normally and reasonably again

  • COME TRUE--His dream came true when he met Kate.

    become reality

  • CROSS ONE'S MIND--It never crossed my mind that he might be ill.

    occur to someone

  • CUT CORNERS--He ran fast, cutting corners where he could. I have to cut corners this week.

    1. take a short-cut; 2. limit one's spending

  • DO ONE'S BEST--I did my best to help him in his work.

    try very hard

  • DO ONE'S BIT--I'll do my bit, you can count on me.

    do what's needed

  • DO SOMEONE GOOD--Fresh air and exercise will do you good

    be good for someone

  • DO SOMETHING BEHIND SOMEONE'S BACK--I hate people who do things behind my back. He did it behind my back again.

    do (harmful) things secretively

  • DOWN TO EARTH--He's quiet, sensible, and down to earth.


  • DRAW THE LINE--I draw the line at spending so much on food. He drew the line for her at $100 a day.

    set a limit; impose a restriction

  • DUTY CALLS--He said, "Duty calls", put on his coat, and left for work.

    must fulfill obligations

  • EASIER SAId THAN DONE--It's easier said than done, but I'll try to do it.

    good idea but difficult to achieve

  • EAT ONE'S WORDS--He had to eat his words after her report.

    take back one's words

  • EVEN SO--I work hard. Even so, I like my job.

    nevertheless; but

  • EVERY NOW AND THEN--Every now and then I visit my old aunt.


  • EVERY OTHER--She washes her hair every other day.

    every second one

  • FALL IN LOVE (WITH)--Tom fell in love with Sue at first sight.

    begin to love

  • FALL OUT OF LOVE--They soon fell out of love and divorced.

    stop loving

  • FALSE ALARM--I heard that he quit his job, but it was a false alarm.

    untrue signal; untrue rumor

  • A FAR CRY FROM SOMETHING--His second book wasn't bad, but it was a far cry from his first book.

    not nearly as good

  • FEEL IT IN ONE'S BONES--I feel it in my bones that something terrible is going to happen.

    expect something bad to happen

  • FEEL LIKE DOING SOMETHING--I feel like going for a walk. I don't feel like working now, I'm tired.

    want to do; be inclined to do something

  • FEW AND FAR BETWEEN--Her visits are few and far between.

    rare, scarce

  • FIND FAULT WITH SOMEONE OR SOMETHING--He finds fault with everybody. She always finds fault with my cooking.

    criticize; complain about

  • FIRST THINGS FIRST--First things first: how much money do we have to pay right away?

    important things come before others

  • FLY OFF THE HANDLE--He flew off the handle and yelled at me.

    get angry

  • FOLLOW IN SOMEONE'S FOOTSTEPS--Igor followed in his father's footsteps. He became a doctor too.

    do the same thing

  • FOOT THE BILL--Her father footed the bill for the party.

    pay the bill

  • FOR GOOD--After her death he left town for good.


  • FOR THE TIME BEING--For the time being, this house is all right for us.

    for now; at this time

  • FRAME OF MIND--I can't do it in this frame of mind.

    mental state

  • FROM A TO Z--He knows this town from A to Z.

    completely; from beginning to end

  • FROM NOW ON--From now on I forbid you to go there.

    now and in the future

  • FROM THE WORD GO--He was lying to all of us from the word go.

    from the very beginning

  • GET A GRIP ON ONESELF--Stop crying! Get a grip on yourself!

    take control of one's feelings

  • GET CARRIED AWAY--He got carried away with opening a store and lost most of his money.

    get too excited and enthusiastic about something

  • GET COLD FEET--He wanted to try it, but he got cold feet at the last moment.

    be afraid to do something

  • GET EVEN WITH SOMEONE--I'll get even with him for everything!

    have one's revenge

  • GET IN TOUCH WITH SOMEONE--Get in touch with Mr. Smith for help.

    contact someone

  • GET LOST--She got lost in the old part of town.

    lose one's way

  • GET LOST! (SLANG)--I don't want to see you again. Get lost!

    Lay off!

  • GET MIXED UP--I got mixed up, went the wrong way, and got lost.

    get confused

  • GET OFF SOMEONE'S BACK--Stop bothering me! Get off my back!

    stop bothering someone

  • GET ONE'S FOOT IN THE DOOR--Nina was able to get her foot in the door because her friend worked in that company.

    get an initial opportunity; make the first step in something (e.g., in getting a job)

  • GET ON ONE'S HIGH HORSE--Every time I ask her to help me with typing, she gets on her high horse.

    behave haughtily towards someone

  • GET OUT OF HAND--If he gets out of hand again, call me right away. The situation is getting out of hand.

    get out of control, beyond control

  • GET RID OF SOMEONE OR SOMETHING--He got rid of his old useless car.

    dispose of; discard

  • GET TO THE BOTTOM OF SOMETHING--He usually gets to the bottom of things.

    know deeply

  • GET TO THE POINT--Please get to the point, I don't have much time now.

    speak directly about the subject; come to the point

  • GIVE ME A BREAK!--Come on, stop it! Give me a break!

    Stop it! Enough!

  • GIVE SOMEONE A HAND--Can you give me a hand with cooking?

    help someone

  • GIVE SOMEONE A LIFT; GIVE SOMEONE A RIDE--Can you give me a lift to the bank? He gave her a ride in his new Porsche.

    take someone to some place by car

  • GIVE SOMEONE A PIECE OF ONE'S MIND--She lost my umbrella again, so I gave her a piece of my mind about her carelessness.

    criticize frankly

  • GO BACK ON ONE'S WORD--First he said he would help me, but then he went back on his word.

    break a promise

  • GO FOR IT--If I were you, I would go for it. Go for it! Give it a try!

    make an attempt at something new; give it a try

  • GO FROM BAD TO WORSE--His business went from bad to worse.

    become much worse

  • GO OUT OF ONE'S WAY--He goes out of his way to please her.

    try very hard

  • GO TO ONE'S HEAD--1. Champagne went to her head right away. 2. His acting success went to his head.

    1. make dizzy; 2. make too proud, conceited

  • GO TO PIECES--She went to pieces when she heard it.

    get very upset; fall apart

  • GO WITH THE FLOW--She always goes with the flow.

    lead a quiet life

  • HAVE A BALL--Yesterday we had a ball at the party.

    have a good time

  • HAVE A BONE TO PICK WITH SOMEONE--Mr. Brown, I have a bone to pick with you. My mail was lost because of you.

    complain or discuss something unpleasant

  • HAVE A SWEET TOOTH--He has a sweet tooth.

    love eating sweet things

  • HAVE A WORD WITH SOMEONE--Can I have a word with you?

    talk to someone

  • HAVE WORDS WITH SOMEONE--I had words with my coworker today because he used my computer again.

    argue with someone

  • HAVE IT IN SOMEONE--Laura has it in her to be a good doctor.

    have the ability

  • HAVE NO BUSINESS DOING SOMETHING--You have no business staying here without my permission.

    have no right to do something

  • HAVE ONE'S BACK TO THE WALL--I had no choice, I had my back to the wall.

    be hard-pressed; on the defensive

  • HAVE ONE'S HANDS FULL--He has his hands full with hard work.

    be very busy

  • HAVE ONE'S HEART SET ON SOMETHING--She has her heart set on going to New York. He has his heart set on Betty.

    want something very much

  • HAVE PULL--Does he have pull with the director?

    have influence

  • (NOT) HAVE THE HEART TO DO SOMETHING--I don't have the heart to tell him that he wasn't accepted; he'll be so unhappy.

    (not) have the courage to do something unpleasant

  • HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD--You hit the nail on the head when you said that!

    say exactly the right thing

  • (NOT) HOLD IT AGAINST SOMEONE--I lost his book, but he doesn't hold it against me.

    (not) blame somebody for doing something

  • HOLD IT!--Hold it! I forgot my key.

    Stop! Wait!

  • HOLD ONE'S OWN--He can hold his own in any situation. We need men who can hold their own.

    maintain oneself in a situation; behave as needed

  • HOLD ONE'S TONGUE--She can't hold her tongue at all.

    keep silent; refrain from speaking

  • ILL AT EASE--She felt ill at ease because of her cheap dress.


  • IN ADVANCE--He told her about his plan in advance.

    well before

  • IN A NUTSHELL--In a nutshell, my plan is to buy land.

    in a few words

  • IN CARE OF--I'm going to stay at Tom's house in Chicago. Write to me in care of Tom Gray, 321 Main Street, Chicago, Illinois.

    write to one person at the address of another person

  • IN COLD BLOOD--He killed her in cold blood.


  • IN FACT--In fact, he works as a manager here.

    actually; in reality

  • IN GENERAL--In general, he likes to be alone. He described the place only in general.

    generally; generally speaking

  • IN HOT WATER--He said a couple of unpleasant things about the boss's wife, and now he is in hot water.

    in trouble; in a difficult situation (especially with the law or one's superiors)

  • IN ONE'S ELEMENT--He's in his element when he's arguing.

    what one likes

  • IN OTHER WORDS--In other words, you left her when she needed your help.

    using other words

  • IN PLAIN ENGLISH--I didn't really like the concert. In plain English, the concert was terrible.

    in simple, frank terms

  • THE INS AND OUTS--He knows the ins and outs of this business.

    all information about something

  • IN SOMEONE'S SHOES--I wouldn't want to be in his shoes now. He lost his job, and his wife is in the hospital.

    in another person's position

  • IN THE LONG RUN--In the long run, it will be better to buy it.

    in the end

  • IN THE SAME BOAT--Stop arguing with me. We're in the same boat and should help each other.

    in the same situation

  • IN THE CLEAR--Pay the bill, and you'll be in the clear.

    free from blame

  • IN TIME (TO DO SOMETHING)--I came in time to have a cup of coffee before class.

    early enough; before something begins

  • IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING--It goes without saying that he must pay what he owes right away.

    should be clear without words

  • IT'S TIME--Hurry up, it's time to go.

    should do it right away

  • IT'S WORTH/NOT WORTH IT--Watch this film, it's worth it. Don't buy this coat, it is not worth it. This museum is worth visiting. This film is not worth watching.

    It's (not) worth buying, visiting, watching, etc.

  • JUMP AT THE OPPORTUNITY--His boss mentioned a job in Europe, and Peter jumped at the opportunity.

    accept the opportunity eagerly

  • JUST AS SOON--I'd just as soon stay home, I'm tired.

    prefer; would rather

  • JUST IN CASE--Take an extra shirt, just in case.

    to be on the safe side

  • JUST MY LUCK!--They lost my job application. Just my luck!

    Bad luck! Hard luck!

  • KEEP AN EYE ON SOMEONE OR SOMETHING--Betty keeps an eye on my sons for me. I'll keep an eye on your dog.

    take care of; watch; look after

  • KEEP A STRAIGHT FACE--I tried to keep a straight face but failed.

    try not to laugh

  • KEEP COMPANY--She keeps me company quite often.


  • KEEP IN MIND--Keep in mind that he is not going to agree easily.

    bear in mind; consider; remember

  • KEEP IN TOUCH--Good-by and don't forget to keep in touch! Keep in touch with us. We may have new openings next week.

    keep in contact with someone by calling, visiting, sending messages

  • KEEP ONE'S WORD--You promised, now keep your word.

    fulfill a promise

  • KEEP SOMEONE POSTED--Keep me posted about your plans.

    inform someone

  • KEEP ONE'S FINGERS CROSSED--I have a job interview today. Keep your fingers crossed for me, will you? I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

    hope that nothing will go wrong

  • KILL TIME--I went to the show to kill time.

    fill time; spend empty time

  • NOT TO KNOW THE FIRST THING ABOUT SOMETHING--I don't know the first thing about nuclear physics.

    not to have any knowledge about something

  • KNOW THE ROPES--He knows all the ropes in this company.

    be very familiar with some business

  • LAS--His arrival was a last-minute notice. We didn't have time to prepare for it.

    inute notice - a message (information, instruction) at the last moment leaving little or no time for preparation

  • LAY ONE'S CARDS ON THE TABLE--Finally, we asked him to lay his cards on the table and tell us about his plans.

    be frank and open

  • LAY ONE'S LIFE ON THE LINE--He laid his life on the line to fulfill this task, but nobody appreciated his efforts.

    put oneself in a dangerous situation

  • LEAD A DOG'S LIFE--He leads a dog's life.

    live in misery

  • LEAVE IT AT THAT--I don't want to argue any further about it, so let's leave it at that. Leave it at that!

    stop saying anything else about some matter; leave as it is

  • LEAVE WORD--He left word for you to meet him at the airport at six o'clock.

    leave a message

  • LET BYGONES BE BYGONES--He said that to you many years ago. Forgive him. Let bygones be bygones.

    forget and forgive bad things in the past

  • LET GO OF SOMETHING--Let go of my hand, or I'll call the guard.

    release the hold

  • LET (IT) GO--He's still in despair and can't let go. You can't change anything, so let it go.

    forget bad experience; return to normal life

  • LET ONE'S HAIR DOWN--She is always so formal. She never lets her hair down.

    be relaxed and informal with other people

  • LET SOMEONE KNOW--Let me know when you find a job.

    inform someone

  • LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON--Paul won a prize in a chess tournament. Great! Like father, like son!

    be like one's parent in something

  • LITTLE BY LITTLE--Little by little, they saved enough money for a new car.

    step by step; bit by bit; gradually

  • A LONG SHOT--Checking the suspect's aunt was a long shot, but the detective was prepared to try anything.

    an attempt with little chance of success

  • LOSE ONE'S TEMPER--He loses his temper very often.

    become angry

  • LOSE ONE'S WAY--I lost my way. Can you help me?

    get lost

  • LOSE TRACK OF SOMEONE--I lost track of him years ago.

    not to know where someone is

  • LUCKY BREAK--He got his lucky break when he found that job.

    a lucky chance

  • MAKE A LIVING--He works hard. His family is large, and he has to make a living somehow.

    earn money to provide for life

  • MAKE ALLOWANCE(S) FOR SOMETHING--Don't criticize him so hard; make allowance for his inexperience.

    take into consideration when judging

  • MAKE A POINT OF--Make a point of asking about his wife's health. Make it a point to be here by ten o'clock.

    be sure to do something intentionally

  • MAKE (BOTH) ENDS MEET--He doesn't have much money. I wonder how he manages to make ends meet.

    be able to live on the income one has; live within one's means

  • MAKE FRIENDS--Anton makes new friends easily.

    become friends

  • MAKE FUN OF SOMEONE OR SOMETHING--He made fun of her German accent. Everyone makes fun of him.

    laugh at; joke about

  • NOT TO MAKE HEAD OR TAIL OF SOMETHING--I can't make head or tail of his letter.

    be unable to understand or decipher

  • MAKE NO BONES ABOUT IT--I'll make no bones about it: I don't like your attitude to work.

    say openly, without hesitation

  • MAKE ROOM FOR SOMEONE--We can make room for one more dog.

    allow space for someone

  • MAKE SENSE--What you say makes sense.

    be logical

  • MAKE THE MOST OF SOMETHING--Let's make the most of our vacation.

    do the best in the given situation

  • MAKE UP ONE'S MIND--Will you go there? Make up your mind.


  • MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME--Come in, please. Make yourself at home.

    be comfortable; feel at home

  • A MAN OF HIS WORD--You can depend on his promise to help. He's a man of his word.

    a person who keeps promises

  • MEAN WELL--He meant well, but it turned out that he spoiled a couple of things for me.

    have good intentions

  • MIGHT AS WELL--I might as well telephone him now.

    maybe it's a good idea

  • MISSING PERSON--The little boy disappeared. The police registered him as a missing person.

    someone who is lost and can't be located

  • MEET SOMEONE HALFWAY--He's reasonable and tries to meet his coworkers halfway when possible.

    compromise with someone

  • NEVER MIND--I'm terribly sorry. - Never mind.

    don't worry about it

  • NO GO--We tried to start the car again and again, but it was no go.

    impossible, futile, hopeless, useless

  • NOT A BIT--Are you tired? - Not a bit.

    not at all; not in the least

  • NOT TO MENTION--We have three dogs, not to mention two cats.

    in addition to

  • NO WONDER--He ate three big fish. No wonder he's sick.

    not surprising

  • NOW AND AGAIN--I meet them now and again at the bank.

    occasionally; now and then

  • ODDS AND ENDS--I went to the store because I needed to buy some odds and ends for my kitchen.

    a variety of small unimportant things or leftovers; bits and pieces

  • OFF THE CUFF--Off the cuff, I can give you only a rough estimate.

    without preparation

  • OFF THE POINT--What I think about him is off the point.

    beside the point

  • OFF THE RECORD--Strictly off the record, I think the director is going to get married soon.

    not for the public; unofficially

  • OFF THE TOP OF ONE'S HEAD--I can't give you the figure off the top of my head, but it may be around a thousand.

    without thinking or calculation; impromptu; from memory

  • ONCE AND FOR ALL--You must quit smoking once and for all.


  • ON CREDIT--He bought a car on credit.

    not having to pay cash right away

  • ON EDGE--He's been on edge ever since she left.

    nervous, irritable

  • ON GUARD--He's cautious and always on guard.

    on the alert

  • ON HAND--Do you have a calculator on hand?


  • ON ONE HAND; ON THE ONE HAND--On one hand, she knows quite a few poems by heart. On the other hand, she can't remember any dates.

    considering one side of the question

  • ON ONE'S OWN (ON MY OWN, ON HIS OWN, ETC.)--She likes to live and work on her own. She has been on her own for several years.

    alone; by oneself; independently

  • ON ONE'S TOES--He was on his toes and produced a very good impression on them.

    alert, attentive, prepared for difficulties

  • ON PURPOSE--I didn't do it on purpose, it just happened so.


  • ON SECOND THOUGHT--I'd like to sit on the aisle. On second thought, I'd like a window seat.

    after thinking again

  • ON THE ALERT--He's cautious and always on the alert.

    on guard

  • ON THE CARPET--Yesterday the boss called her on the carpet for being rude to the coworkers.

    called in by the boss for criticism

  • ON THE GO--He is always on the go.

    on the move; busy, active

  • ON THE CHANCE; ON THE OFF CHANCE--On the chance that you don't find him at work, here's his home address. We went there on the off chance of seeing John.

    in case; unlikely to happen, but there's still a small chance

  • ON THE OTHER HAND--I'd like to have a dog. On the other hand, my wife likes cats.

    considering the other side of the question

  • ON THE SPOT--I decided to do it on the spot.

    right there

  • ON THE SPUR OF THE MOMENT--He bought this car on the spur of the moment, and now he regrets it.

    without previous thought or plan

  • ON THE TIP OF ONE'S TONGUE--His name is on the tip of my tongue, but I just can't remember it.

    on the verge of saying but unable to remember

  • ON TIME--Jim is always on time.

    punctually; at the specified time

  • OUT OF ONE'S MIND--If you think so, you're out of your mind.


  • OUT OF ONE'S WAY--I can't give you a lift to the bank, it's out of my way today.

    away from one's usual route

  • OUT OF THE QUESTION--Paying him is out of the question!

    not to be considered; impossible

  • PACK RAT--Why does she keep all those things she never uses? - She is a pack rat.

    a person who saves lots of unnecessary things

  • PAY ATTENTION--Pay attention to his words.

    note something; be attentive to something

  • PICK A FIGHT--He often tries to pick a fight with me.

    start a quarrel

  • PLAY ONE'S CARDS RIGHT--If you play your cards right, he'll agree to your plan.

    choose the right steps in doing something

  • POTLUCK SUPPER--You know what happened at our last potluck supper? Everybody brought macaroni and cheese, apples, and beer!

    a surprise meal where nobody knows what dishes other guests will bring

  • PULL THE WOOL OVER SOMEONE'S EYES--Are you trying to pull the wool over my eyes? It won't do you any good.

    deceive, mislead someone

  • PUT A DAMPER ON SOMETHING--She always puts a damper on my plans.


  • PUT IN A WORD FOR SOMEONE--I'd be very grateful if you could put in a word for me when you speak to him.

    say positive things about someone

  • PUT ONE'S BEST FOOT FORWARD--He put his best foot forward during the interview. Put your best foot forward working at this project.

    try to show one's best qualities; do one's best; do things as quickly as possible

  • PUT ONE'S FINGER ON IT--I can't put my finger on it. He was able to put his finger on the exact cause of the computer malfunction.

    indicate exactly; point out the exact cause, fault, name, etc.

  • PUT ONE'S FOOT DOWN--Her father put his foot down when she said she wanted to marry Alan.

    object strongly

  • PUT ONE'S FOOT IN IT / INTO IT; PUT ONE'S FOOT IN ONE'S MOUTH--He put his foot in it when he told the boss that his younger daughter wasn't pretty at all.

    do or say the wrong thing; make a blunder; make a fool of oneself

  • QUITE A BIT (OF)--I had quite a bit of trouble with that car.

    much; a lot (of)

  • QUITE A FEW--He wrote quite a few good stories.

    many; a lot of

  • RACK ONE'S BRAIN--He racked his brain to solve the puzzle.

    try hard to think

  • READ BETWEEN THE LINES--His books are not easy to understand. You have to read between the lines.

    find or understand the implied meaning

  • REMEMBER ME TO YOUR FAMILY.--Please remember me to your family.

    Say hello to your family for me.

  • RIGHT AWAY--It' very important to do it right away.


  • RING A BELL--Annabel Lee? Yes, it rings a bell, but I can't place it right now.

    remind someone of something familiar but half-forgotten

  • ROCK THE BOAT--Peter always rocks the boat when we discuss the company's spending policy.

    make the situation unstable

  • RUB ELBOWS WITH; RUB SHOULDERS WITH--He doesn't rub elbows with the rich and famous.

    spend time together; mingle

  • RUB IT IN--I know I shouldn't have done it, and I apologized. There is no need to rub it in.

    embarrass even more by reminding repeatedly of some mistake, failure, etc.

  • RUB SOMEONE THE WRONG WAY--His remarks rub many coworkers the wrong way.

    irritate, annoy; make angry

  • SAVE FACE--He said a stupid thing, and then he tried to save face by saying he misunderstood me.

    try to change the negative impression produced

  • SAVE ONE'S BREATH--There's no use talking to him about his spending habits, so save your breath.

    stop useless talk

  • SCRATCH THE SURFACE--He examines all the facts closely, he doesn't just scratch the surface.

    study something superficially

  • SEARCH HIGH AND LOW--I searched high and low for my lost cat.

    search everywhere

  • SEE EYE TO EYE--They see eye to eye on many things. I don't see eye to eye with him.

    agree with each other

  • SEE RED--She sees red every time she remembers how he lied to her about it.

    become very angry

  • SERVE SOMEONE RIGHT--It serves him right that he didn't get that job. He despised all the other candidates.

    get what someone deserves

  • SERVE ONE'S PURPOSE--I doubt that hiring this man will serve your purpose.

    be useful for some purpose

  • A SHOT IN THE DARK--My answer was just a shot in the dark.

    a wild guess

  • SHOW PROMISE--This young actor shows promise.

    be promising

  • SLEEP ON IT--Don't make a decision now. Sleep on it.

    postpone a decision till next morning

  • A SLIP OF THE TONGUE--It was just a slip of the tongue!

    a mistake

  • SLIP (FROM) ONE'S MIND--It slipped my mind that she asked me to do it.


  • SMELL A RAT--I'm not sure what it is, but I smell a rat.

    suspect deceit; suspect that something is wrong

  • SO FAR--So far, I have read three books by Stephen King.

    up to now

  • SO MUCH THE BETTER--If he can pay cash, so much the better.

    it's even better

  • SPILL THE BEANS--Who spilled the beans about our plan?

    tell a secret

  • STAND A CHANCE--He doesn't stand a chance of getting it. They don't stand a chance of winning the game.

    have a chance (usually, have no chance)

  • STAND TO REASON--It stands to reason that studying spelling will let you improve your writing skills.

    be obvious, logical, naturally true

  • STRAIGHT FROM THE SHOULDER--Why should you spare his feelings? Give it to him straight from the shoulder.

    frankly, honestly, openly

  • TAKE A DIM VIEW OF SOMETHING--My sister takes a dim view of the way I raise my children.

    disapprove of something

  • TAKE A BREAK--Let's take a break, I'm tired.

    stop for rest

  • TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOMETHING--We took advantage of the low prices and bought a computer and a monitor.

    use for one's own benefit; to profit from

  • TAKE A STAND (ON SOMETHING)--People need to take a stand on the issue of nuclear weapons.

    make a firm decision about something

  • TAKE CARE!--Take care now! See you tomorrow.

    Good-bye and be careful!

  • TAKE CARE OF SOMEONE OR SOMETHING--Can you take care of my dog while I'm away? Tom takes good care of his car.

    look after; see that something is done properly

  • TAKE HOLD OF SOMETHING--Take hold of this rope and pull.

    hold, grasp something

  • TAKE INTO ACCOUNT--You must take into account her old age.

    take into consideration; consider

  • TAKE IT EASY--Take it easy, everything will be OK.

    relax; be calm

  • TAKE SOMETHING FOR GRANTED--Mother's love is always taken for granted by children.

    accept as given

  • TAKE SOMEONE'S BREATH AWAY--That great view took my breath away.

    surprise or impress someone

  • TAKE ONE'S TIME--Don't hurry. Take your time.

    do something without hurry

  • TAKE SOMEONE'S WORD FOR IT--Take my word for it, he won't go there.


  • TAKE PAINS--He took pains to make his report perfect.

    try hard to do it well

  • TAKE PART IN SOMETHING--Mary is going to take part in the show.

    participate in something

  • TAKE PLACE--The accident took place on Oak Street.


  • TAKE ONE'S MIND OFF THINGS--Go to a concert or a movie to take your mind off things.

    distract from fixed ideas or gloomy thoughts

  • TAKE STEPS--We need to take steps against it.

    take action; take measures

  • TAKE THE WORDS RIGHT OUT OF SOMEONE'S MOUTH--I was about to say the same! You took the words right out of my mouth.

    say the same before someone else says it

  • TAKE TIME--It takes time to get used to a new place.

    take a long time

  • TAKE TIME OFF--He took time off to attend the wedding.

    be absent from work

  • TAKE TURNS--We went to Minsk by car. We didn't get tired because we took turns driving

    alternate doing something one after another

  • THAT'S JUST THE POINT.--That's just the point! I hate this job!

    That's it.

  • THAT WILL DO--Stop reading; that will do for now.

    it's enough

  • THE WRITING ON THE WALL--The plane crashed. Tim said he saw the writing on the wall about that flight.

    a sign of future events (usually, trouble)

  • NOT TO THINK MUCH OF SOMETHING--I don't think much of her cooking.

    not to think highly of something

  • TILL ONE IS BLUE IN THE FACE--I repeated it till I was blue in the face!

    try very hard

  • TO BE ON THE SAFE SIDE--Take an extra key, just to be on the safe side.

    not to take any chances

  • TO MAKE A LONG STORY SHORT--To make a long story short, we won.

    in short

  • TO SAY THE LEAST--The film was boring and long, to say the least.

    to make the minimum comment about something

  • TRY ONE'S HAND AT SOMETHING--I want to try my hand at painting. She decided to try her hand at writing stories.

    test one's abilities in something new

  • TURN OVER A NEW LEAF--He promises to quit alcohol for good and to turn over a new leaf.

    make a fresh start in life, in work

  • TURN THE TABLES--He beat me at chess twice last week. But now I hope to turn the tables (on him).

    reverse the situation (exchanging places with the opponent)

  • TURN THE TIDE--The new evidence turned the tide, and the defendant was acquitted of charges.

    reverse the course of events

  • TWIST SOMEONE'S ARM--They twisted his arm to sell the house.

    force someone to agree

  • UNDER THE WEATHER--I'm a little under the weather today.

    feeling a little ill, a little unwell

  • UP AND COMING--He is an up-and-coming young lawyer who might help you with your case.

    nd-coming - showing promise of future success

  • UP IN ARMS--The employees are up in arms about the new retirement rules.

    hostile to; in strong protest against something

  • UP IN THE AIR--My vacation plans are still up in the air.

    undecided, unsettled

  • UP TO DATE--His reports are always up to date.

    modern, latest, current

  • (NOT) UP TO PAR--His behavior isn't up to par.

    (not) equal in standard

  • USED TO DO SOMETHING--He used to live on Maple Street. I used to play the piano when I was in school (but I don't play it now).

    did something regularly in the past but not now

  • WALK ON AIR--He has been offered a great job. He is walking on air now.

    be very happy

  • WASTE ONE'S BREATH--Don't waste your breath trying to make him do it. He won't change his mind.

    speak uselessly, to no purpose

  • WATCH ONE'S STEP--You have to watch your step in this business.

    behave prudently; be careful

  • WET BLANKET--Remember what a wet blanket he was last time? Please don't invite him again.

    a pessimist, a killjoy who dampens enthusiasm and spoils everyone's fun

  • WHAT'S THE MATTER?--What's the matter? What happened?

    What is it?

  • WHICH WAY THE WIND BLOWS--He knows which way the wind blows and always acts accordingly.

    what the real situation is

  • WHITE LIE--A white lie is told to spare your feelings.

    unimportant lie

  • WORD FOR WORD--Tell me word for word what he said.

    in the same words

  • WOULD RATHER--I'd rather stay home today.