title

Custom Search

 

[ Correct English | Common Errors | Words Differentiation | Sample Letters | Glossary of Correct Usage | Common Sentences | Q & A ]

[ English Compositions | Movie Reviews | High School Vocab | Advertisements ]

Sponsored Links

<<Prev

American  Idioms

Next>>

   

TOEFL Vocabulary

English Conversation
English Grammar
American Idioms
English Comprehension
English Summary
English News
Business Idioms
 

Idioms

Bore the pants off someone   Fill the bill
A bosom friend Fresh as paint
Brain drain Gate-crash
A bundle of laughs Generous to a fault
A clean bill of health Have butterflies in one's stomach
Clear one s name Off to a flying start
Cock and bull story Rise with the lark
Come hell or high water Give a good account of oneself
Come into money Put on airs
Corridors of power Give the game away
Day of reckoning Go down the drain
Devil finds work for idle hands Go like a house on fire
Dressed like a peacock Go places
An eagle eye At great length
Easy as ABC Half a chance
Eat one's heart out Have a change of heart
Eat someone out of house and home Have a way with words
Elbow room Have no stomach
Fairy tale Have two left feet
Look small A hen party
Fickle finger of fate High as a kite (1)
Fight fire with fire High as a kite (2)
   
Sponsored Links
   
   
   

 

Bore the pants off someone

"If I have to listen to any more of these dull speeches I'm going to go crazy," Irwin yawned. "They're awful, aren't they ?" Cedric yawned too. "They bore the pants off me." The colloquialism Cedric is using -- and it's perfectly acceptable to use it in mixed company -- means to be extremely bored.

Top

 

A bosom friend

You've seen Chadwick and Timothy disagreeing or playing tricks on each other often on these pages. If you want to know the truth, they are really bosom friends. As used here, bosom means a close relationship, and a bosom friend / pal / buddy is a very dear friend.

Top

 

Brain drain

A / the brain drain is defined as movement of "brains ( eg., teachers, scientists and other skilled people ) out of one country to another where conditions and salaries are better. "If we hope to prevent a brain drain we're going to have to make nursing a more rewarding profession," a health officer declared.

Top

 

A bundle of laughs

"Lester's latest book is terribly funny," Winnie smiled. "It 's a bundle of laughs. I guess that's because Lester is such a bundle of laughs," she continued. "He has everyone laughing at parties. I wonder where he gets all his jokes ?" What Winnie is saying is that Lester and his book are very, very amusing.

Top

 

A clean bill of health

Long ago ships leaving a port had to have a certificate ( called a bill of health ) stating that they were free of infectious disease. Today a clean bill of health is a way of saying a person or thing is healthy or satisfactory. "The doctor gave Mr. Lee a clean bill of health and is sending him home today," Nurse Rose smiled.

Top

 

Clear one's name

"You will remain after school and clear my name by writing the following statement 100 times: 'I am sorry I said naughty and untrue things about my teacher'," Professor Oxford frowned. To clean one's name is to prove someone is innocent of a crime or misdeed of which he's been accused.

Top

 

Cock and bull story

"Long ago and far away there was a wonderful kingdom in which nobody worked and everybody was rich and happy,' the bull said. Ha, the cock laughed. "If you believe that you'll believe any old cock and bull story." A cock and bulls story is one that is too absurd or silly to be true.

Top

 

Come hell or high water

Parker has been so busy he hasn't had time to attend to his jobs around the house. "This Sunday I'm going to mow the lawn come hell or high water," he said. Parker is saying that no matter what happens, absolutely nothing is going to prevent him from carrying out his plan.

Top

 

Come into money

Daydreamers spend their time thinking about coming into money, and gamblers visit racetracks hoping to come into money. To come into money is to receive a large sum of money suddenly. Sometimes it is inherited, sometimes it is won -- though a successful artist, writer or musician coming into money might say it's the result of many years of hard work.

Top

 

Corridors of power

Something is happening in the corridors of power. How do I know ? Because in the corridors of power something is always happening. This term refers to the high ( administrative ) levels of government or an organization where important decisions are made. "Things are rather quiet in the corridors of power during he holiday season, though, " Rodney whispered.

Top

 

Day of reckoning

This is a time when (1) someone will be made to account for his misdeeds; or (2) a time when his will or judgment will be severely tested. (1) "Many children think Christmas is a day of reckoning when Santa evaluates their behavior and rewards them accordingly." (2) "It's examination time again," Aaron sighed. "The day of reckoning is approaching !"

Top

 

Devil finds work for idle hands

When Maurice was young his parents warned him that the devil finds work for idle hands. They were telling him that unless he kept busy doing useful or constructive things he could be tempted into mischief or evil. "Sorry, but I don't think the saying the devil finds work for idle hands means I should waste my time sweeping floors," Maurice said to a stranger.

Top

 

Dressed like a peacock

A peacock is actually the male of the species. A female is a peahen. In the world of idioms, however, a person of either sex who is dressed handsomely and colorfully can be said to be dressed like a peacock. "Nelly is dressed like a peacock tonight. She's been invited to have dinner with her boss.

Top

 

An eagle eye

"Since I appointed a new department head, business has certainly improved," the boss smiled. "The new fellow keeps an eagle eye on all aspects of our operations. He watches the staff with an eagle eye, too." Someone with an eagle eye watches things closely and carefully. Nothing escapes his attention.

Top

 

Easy as ABC

It may not be easy for everyone to learn the alphabet but this idiom says it is. when something is (as) easy/simple as ABC it's very easy. "That was an easy examination. It was simple as ABC." "Who said sign painting was difficult ?" Rubin smiled. "I found it as easy as ABC."

Top

 

Eat one's heart out

"Life can be terrible at times," Mike sighed, "and this is one of those times. I'm in love with Mandy and Mandy doesn't care for me. Oh, Mandy, you have me eating my heart out !" Poor Mike. If he doesn't look underfed it's because to eat one's heart out is to feel miserable wishing for something -- or someone -- one can't have.

Top

 

Eat someone out of house and home

It's usually a hungry guest that leads us to make this statement, though a father might use it humorously to complain about the eating habits of his teenagers. It means someone is so expensive to feed that he can't be afforded. "You kids are eating me out of house and home !" Agatha cried.

Top

 

Elbow room

"Don't worry about me," Harold said as he got into the lift. "There's plenty of elbow room for all of us." Six foot three inches tall, Harold can say that -- but the other passengers might not agree for elbow room refers to having adequate space to work or move around.

Top

 

Fairy tale

In one sense, a fairy story or fairy tale is a children's story about goblins, spirits, and other imaginary things. "Sybil is telling a fairy story to her little friends." In another sense, it's an inaccurate -- even false -- account of something. "Martin said he's going to be promoted soon. I suspect he's telling another of his fairy tales."

Top

 

Look / feel small

"Golly, when I think of the wonderful works of the world's great artists I look small," Robert sighed. "And it sure doesn't make me feel any better when people criticize my painting. Their criticism makes me feel small." To look or feel small is to seem or feel insignificant, foolish, or humiliated.

Top

 

Fickle finger of fate

Fate is said to be an unseen power that directs our lives. Fickle ( it rhymes with pickle ) means changeable. Because fate often seems to point us in various directions as it pleases, we speak of it as the fickle finger of fate. "Once I was rich, now I'm not," Buddy said. "The fickle finger of fate works in strange ways."

Top

 

Fight fire with fire

"Business is terrible and it's your fault !" Wigby cried as he stormed out of his office. Knowing his boss would soon calm down, Gustav decided not to fight fire with fire by arguing back. To fight fire with fire is to defend oneself with defiance or force when threatened or attacked.

Top

 

Fill the bill

If something fills the bill it is just what one wants. It is exactly what is required or needed. "Isn't it wonderful to have such mild weather ? It certainly fills the bill for our picnic, doesn't it ?" "I was really hungry so this little snack sure fills the bill," Albo said.

Top

 

Fresh as paint

Kitty and Clive have been married for years, but to look at them you'd think their love was fresh as paint. Things described as being fresh as paint look fresh and new. A person fresh as paint is full of vitality. "My old suit came back from the cleaners fresh as paint," Clive said.

Top

 

Gate-crash

Jim and Violet's neighbors were having a party. Jim and Violet weren't invited but they decided to attend anyway. "We'll gate-crash the party," Jim said. "How exciting. That will make us gate-crashers," Violet laughed. To gate-crash is to attend a social event without an invitation, and a gate-crasher is an uninvited guest.

Top

 

Generous to a fault

"Now just a moment, dear !" Snod sighed. "I married you because you were generous and kind. But really, you're generous to a fault !" Snod is saying his wife is overly generous. In fact, if she has a fault it is that she's too generous. That's what generous to a fault means.

Top

 

Have butterflies in one's stomach

People who have butterflies in their stomachs are experiencing tension or excitement, usually brought on by anxiety while waiting to do something. This is often shortened to get/have butterflies. "I have butterflies in my stomach waiting to go on stage," the actress said. "I've got butterflies," the patient said as he was about to go into surgery.

Top

 

Off to a flying start

When the gun sounded cark was off to a flying start. A flying start is a fast or successful beginning. "I get up early so I can begin my day with a flying start," Clark said, "and my team has got off to a flying start by winning its first five races this season," he grinned.

Top

 

Rise with the lark

A lark is a bird, and birds always wake up and begin the day at dawn. "I like getting up with the lark" Alan yawned, "but I know one bird that doesn't always rise with the lark." To get up/rise with the lark is to get up/rise early in the morning.

Top

 

Give a good/bad account of oneself

To win a promotion, Ken has to give a good account of himself. That is, he must win approval by showing that he has done well. If he gives a poor account of himself he's likely to be demoted. "I once helped an old lady to cross the street," Ken said, hoping to give a good account of himself.

Top

 

Put on airs

Since her promotion Fecilia has been giving herself airs that her fellow workers regard as rather foolish. " We know you're an excellent worker," they assured her. "You don't have to put on airs." To give oneself airs or put on airs is to act as if one is better or more important than others.

Top

 

Give the game/show away

"No, no, no ! You're not supposed to tell the audience who the murderer is ! You're giving the game away, Foyle !" To give the game/show away is to reveal a plan or information that is supposed to be kept secret. "OK, I won't give the how away," Foyle shouted. "The butler had nothing to do with it !"

Top

 

Go down the drain

Work, time or money wasted or lost is gone forever. It has gone down the drain. "If I don't pass tomorrow's examination all my years of effort will go down the drain," Fiona said. "Hey, I worked hard to earn that money !" Buddy cried. "I want to spend it carefully, not see it go down the drain !"

Top

 

Go like a house on fire

Mr. Bell's gas heater wouldn't work. He thought he would repair it himself. That proved to be a terrible mistake and he had to go like a house on fire to the nearby fire department for help. When a person goes like a house on fire he moves very, very quickly.

Top

 

Go places

Those who know Anderson are convinced he is going to go places. "Anderson's young, intelligent and full of ambition," one of his neighbors said. "He's a man who will go places someday." To go places means to become successful. "If I'm going places I had better start now," Anderson said.

Top

 

At great length

Todd has been talking at great length to his Uncle Freddy. In that sense, he's been talking a long time. He has been explaining at great length his new invention. In this sense, he's explaining something in great detail. Therefore, at great length can mean (1) for a long time; or (2) in great detail.

Top

 

Half a chance

Either way you say this -- a half chance or half a chance -- it means an opportunity, a reasonable chance. "Give yourself a half chance and you'll quickly get used to your new computer," Jim said. "Fear not, Mickey. With this magic sword you have at least half a chance of winning, " Larry grinned.

Top

 

Have a change of heart

Matthew was about to give Angela a big box of chocolates when he saw a poor beggar. "Sorry, Angela," he said, "but I've had a change of heart. That man looks like he needs chocolates more than you do." To have a change of heart is to change one's aim, opinion or behavior about something.

Top

 

Have a way with words

Cameron can be very charming when he wants something. Idiomatically, he has a way with words. That is, he knows what to say and how to say it to get what he wants. "It's not your birthday and it's a long time till Christmas but you have a way with words, Cameron. Sure, I'll buy you that bicycle" Uncle Bob smiled.

Top

 

Have no stomach

People once believed that courage came from the stomach and that those who lacked courage had weak stomachs. From that, to have no stomach for ( something ) means to lack ambition or desire to do something. "Eat this or go to bed hungry," Kate frowned. "I have no stomach today for arguments about my cooking."

Top

 

Have two left feet

"Grace, Lincoln, what an exciting dance that is !" Murray exclaimed. "To do it, though, I'd have to have two left feet like you have." Murray is being unkind for to say a person has two left feet is to say he or she is an awkward or clumsy dancer.

Top

 

A hen party

You only find girls and ladies at a hen party. The reason for that is that this colloquialism defines a gathering of women. Frequently it's a meeting or a party where they exchange talk and gossip. "Helen and Pauline are attending a hen party to honor a friend who is getting married next week."

Top

 

 

High as a kite (1)

Dillon has just learned that he's going to be promoted and be given a large wage increase ! "Wheee, I'm feeling high as a kite,' he laughed. To be high as a kite is to feel very excited or happy. "When I tell my family the news they'll be high as a kite too," Dillon grinned.

Top

 

High as a kite (2)

Ron's been celebrating and we now see him on his merry way home. Obviously he has had too much alcohol to drink and he's high as a kite. That is, Ron's drunk !

 

Top

 
 
Sponsored Links
 

001     002     003     004     005     006     007     008     009     010     011     012     013     014     015     016     017     018

 
 

American Slang

English Proverbs
English Exercises
Common English mistakes
Ancient Chinese stories
Junior English essays
High school English essays
Lower Secondary English essays