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

See reason   Ask for someone's hand
Send somebody packing Chow hound
Sick and tired of Bad apple
Sign of the times Beg the question
Sleep like a log Beyond the pale
Smoke like a chimney Cause tongues to wag
Someone s better half Bursting at the seams
A stag party Buzz word
That s the story of my life Cock of the walk
The world owes one a living Cold comfort
Think big Cost a bomb
Think tank Crocodile tears
A tidy sum Scream blue murder
Tie oneself into knots Cut down to size
Time hangs heavy on one s hands Cut one's losses
Tower of strength Do a hatchet job
Turn turtle Dog's life
Watch one s language Double Dutch
Welcome someone with open arms Drive someone round the bend
Windfall Dutch courage
Yes man End of the road
After a fashion Every inch
   
Sponsored Links
   
   
   

 

See reason

"Why must I go to school ?" Mary asked. "Because in today's world one can't succeed without an education," her father replied. "Surely you can see reason and understand that." Mary nodded yes, for to see reason is to think or act sensibly, particularly after learning the facts or accepting advice about something.

Top

 

Send somebody packing

Several weeks ago an old friend came to visit Wilson. Apparently he enjoyed his visit for he settled in and stayed and stayed. "Good heavens," Wilson exclaimed in despair. "I've got to think of a way to send him packing." To send somebody packing is to dismiss or send a person away firmly and quickly.

Top

 

Sick and tired of

"Morgan, Morgan, you're always moaning," the boss complained. "I'm getting sick and tired of you and your complaints." Morgan moaned even louder. "It's this job. I'm sick and tired of it. If I wasn't so valuable to you I'd quit !" To be sick and tired of someone/something is to be unhappy, weary, irritated ... or disgusted.

Top

 

Sign of the times

Don't look for signs to direct you to a sign of the times for this type of 'sign' isn't a sign but a characteristic of the times in which we live. "I used to be able to swim and fish here," Kevin sighed. "I can't now, though. The water's polluted and there aren't any more fish. It's a sign of the times.

Top

 

Sleep like a log

Once a tree is cut and made into logs, the logs don't do anything. They simply lie quietly on the ground. It's from that idea that we get this idiom. When someone sleeps like a log he sleeps very well. "I feel great," Brian yawned. "I slept like a log last night."

Top

 

Smoke like a chimney

Alan's doctor suggested that he should give up smoking. "You smoke like a chimney," he warned. "It's a threat to your health." Alan's wife is also concerned. "You smoke too much," she said. "You sit there smoking like a chimney." A person who smokes like a chimney smokes a great deal ... and usually continuously !

Top

 

Someone's better half

Sean never makes a decision without talking over with his better half. His wife is pleased that Sean, her better half, is such a thoughtful husband. Often used humorously, someone's better half is their husband or wife. "I would like to introduce you to my better half," Sean said.

Top

 

A stag party

We've seen that when women get together to have a party it's a hen party. A party consisting of only men is a stag party. A stag is a male deer. Frequently stag parties are held to honor a man who is about to get married. "The men in our office went to a stag party last night.

Top

 

That's the story of my life

This remark doesn't refer to a historical account of a person's life : it's usually spoken when something goes wrong. And the more that things go wrong, the more often a person is likely to say this. "I spent six years writing a book but no publisher wanted it. That's the story of my life," Victor frowned.

Top

 

The world owes one a living

If you ask Buddy why he doesn't work he'll tell you it's because the world owes him a living. People like Buddy -- and there are lots and lots of them around ! -- think that they should be financed or provided for simply because they exist. Shame on you, Buddy !

Top

 

Think big

"Be confident ! Be positive ! Tell yourself you are the greatest ... and don't forget to think big !" Robert said. To think big is to believe in one's ability, purpose and power to perform or succeed. "I'll think big -- and maybe tomorrow someone will buy one of my paintings," Robert grinned.

Top

 

Think tank

Professor Lee is a member of a think tank that is investigating new methods of teaching vocabulary improvement. A think tank is a center or an institution devoted to research and problem solving. "Our think tank has concluded that it would be easy to teach vocabulary improvement if we all used fewer words," Professor Lee said.

Top

 

A tidy sum

"Nine hundred and eight-five nine hundred and eight-six, nine hundred and eight-seven," Felix smiled. "That's a nice tidy sum." A tidy sum is a large amount of money. "I'll need every penny of this for it's going to cost me a tidy sum to buy a new house," Felix explained.

Top

 

Tie oneself in/into knots

"It was easy getting out of this basket when my master played simple tunes," Sidney grumbled, "but these complicated new melodies of his tie me into knots !" Sidney is complaining for to tie oneself in/into knots is to be -- or cause someone to be -- confused and bewildered.

Top

 

Time hangs heavy on one's hands

"I'm bored," Simon said. "It's raining outside and there's nothing to watch on television. Time hangs heavy on my hands. " Simon is saying time is moving slowly because he has nothing to do. "Time wouldn't lie heavy on your hands if you helped me clean the house," Simon's wife smiled.

Top

 

Tower of strength

Those who know Hacken back home in Kansas say he's a tower of strength. This metaphor ( from Shakespeare's Richard III ) describes someone who is helpful, sympathetic, and can always be relied on in times of trouble. " I don't think your reputation as a tower of strength means you should try solving problems here," Hacken's wife said.

Top

 

Turn turtle

A turtle's natural position, of course, is to be rightside up. The one thing they fear -- especially on land -- is to be turned upside down. that, I would imagine, is why to turn turtle describes something that has rolled or turned upside down. "Jim's new boat turned turtle in last night's storm."

Top

 

Watch one's language

Long ago when our ancestors wrote using pictorial characters it was probably easy to watch one's language. Today, however, watch your language is a command meaning to be careful how one speaks and especially to be careful not to say impolite or naughty things. "You boys watch your language or I'll send you tot he office," the teacher warned.

Top

 

Welcome someone with open arms

"Business has been terrible," Oscar's boss said. "Why don't you stand at the door and invite people in ?" Happy to get out of the kitchen, Oscar welcomed the idea with open arms. To welcome someone or something with open arms is to accept someone in a friendly way or perform something happily and eagerly.

Top

 

Windfall

Many words in English began as idioms. A windfall is one of them. It once referred to fruit that had been blown to the ground by the wind, but has now come to mean sudden good luck -- particularly in receiving money unexpectedly. "Fred won some money in the lottery and got a welcome windfall."

Top

 

Yes man

Murdoch is a happy boss, especially when he's talking to Howard. Howard, you see, is a yes man and a yes man is someone who agrees with everything a person says -- especially when that person is his superior. 'Being a yes man keeps me out of trouble," Howard said, " and it might even lead to a promotion !"

Top

 

After a fashion

Sara dresses after a fashion. She speaks French after a fashion and she cooks after a fashion. Most things she does are does after a fashion. This says that Sara dresses, speaks French, cooks and does things only so-so for after a fashion means only moderately well.

Top

 

Ask for someone's hand

In a thousand instances of marriage, I would guess that in nine hundred and ninety-nine of them it is the man who asks for someone's hand. I say that because this expression means to ask a person to get married. It's a marriage proposal. "Angela, I am here on bended knee to ask for your hand," Tim joked.

Top

 

Chow hound

My dictionary says that the word chow comes from the Chinese word for meat dumpling. In English it now means food of any kind ... and that's exactly what pleases a chow hound. "Even the thought of food makes me happy," Wilbur said. "I'm a chow hound and I never get enough chow."

Top

 

Bad apple

The apple in this idiom is a person. Just as it is to have a spoiled apple in a basket with good apples, a person said to be a bad ( or a rotten ) apple is likely to have a bad influence on others. "Every school has a couple of bad apples who damage the reputation of others. Clive is the rotten apple in our school."

Top

 

Beg the question

If I were to ask someone a question and he or she failed to answer it or replied with lots of words which still failed to be a reply, he or she would be begging the question. When I asked the boss for a holiday, he begged the question by telling me he was too busy to talk about it."

Top

 

Beyond the pale

Many years ago the pale meant a fenced area around a city in Ireland. People within the area obeyed the laws of English kings. Those living outside the area were said to be beyond the pale and were considered uncivilized. Today those beyond the pale are people acting in an unacceptable manner. "The children were beyond the pale at today's party."

Top

 

Cause tongues to wag

If you'd like to see people moving their tongues rapidly in conversation, tell them a secret or pass on an interesting rumor. That usually causes tongues to wag or sets tongues wagging. That is, they talk and gossip about what they've heard. "The news of Betty's engagement has certainly set tongues wagging.

Top

 

Bursting at the seams

The bus to the zoo is -- very obviously -- bursting at the seams. The passengers -- also very obviously -- are bursting at the seams to get there. From that you can see that this idiom has two meanings : (1) Something that is very full; and (2) a person filled with eager excitement.

Top

 

Buzz word

A buzz word is a word that looks or sounds big and important in a sentence but, when analyzed, means nothing. Those who use buzz words are generally trying to impress people. "The politician's speech was nothing but a lot of false promises concealed in a series of buzz words."

Top

 

Cock of the walk

If two cocks are together in the same pen ( called a walk ) they'll fight, the strongest usually winning. From that, a person who thinks of himself or herself as important or possessing power is described as the cock of the walk. "Ever since his promotion, Ivan thinks he's the cock of the walk around here."

Top

 

Cold comfort

There's nothing very warm or comforting about cold comfort. The Smiths know that as well as anyone. They have just inherited Grandma Smith's huge house -- but they've discovered it has no heating ! "There's cold comfort in having inherited this," they shivered. To get cold comfort means to get no pleasure or happiness at all out of something.

Top

 

Cost a bomb

Emma's husband is buying her a new diamond ring. It's costing him a bomb but he's glad to make Emma happy. When something costs a bomb it costs a lot of money. "My new ring costs a bomb," Emma smiled. "I hope it doesn't cost a bomb to insure it," her husband answered.

Top

 

Crocodile tears

Some say that crocodiles shed tears when eating their prey. This has led to the belief that they pretend to be unhappy about eating their victims. From that, when people have crocodile tears they are only pretending to be sad. "The students wept crocodile tears when told that examinations had been canceled.

Top

 

Scream blue murder

The way Johnny complains when he's about to be bathed might make the neighbors think he's being murdered. That's not true. He's complaining by making a lot of noise, and that's what this expression means. "What am I to do ? Just the sight of water and Johnny begins to scream blue murder," his mother sighed.

Top

 

Cut down to size

When we cut people down to size, we show them they aren't as important as they think they are. "Mary thinks too highly of herself. Someone should cut her down to size." When an object or a project is cut down to size, it is reduced. "Let's cut this job down to size so we can get it done as quickly as possible."

Top

 

Cut one's losses

When the company directors told Mr. Jones to cut his losses, he took out his scissors and began cutting. That's not the way to cut one's losses. When we cut our losses we stop spending time, money or energy on unprofitable projects. "Jones, cut our losses or we'll soon be bankrupt !" the manager shouted.

Top

 

Do a hatchet job

A hatchet is a short-handled ax. To do or perform a hatchet job is (1) to say or write terrible things about someone or something; or (2) to remove great sections of a plan or story. "The critics did a hatchet job on Bob's new book ( Criticizing ) "Saying it was too long, the editor performed a hatchet job on Sam's newspaper article." (Removing )

Top

 

Dog's life

Most dos I've seen appear to live comfortable lives : they are generally well-fed and nicely treated. People who live a dog's life, though, are miserable and unhappy. Often it's because they are made unhappy by another person. "For twelve years Jack has live a dog's life working for the same boss."

Top

 

Double Dutch

Long ago, British merchants trading with The Netherlands said the Dutch language was so difficult that only the Dutch could understand it. In frustration they called it double Dutch. Today double Dutch is anything written or spoken that can't be understood. "I don't know what they're saying," Paul frowned. "It's all double Dutch to me."

Top

 

Drive someone round the bend

"Slow down this instant, Percy ! You're going to drive me round the bend !" Mrs. Marple cried. Anything that drives us round the bend upsets us so much that we think we're going crazy. The manner in which Percy behaves when driving a car, for instance, is doing just that to Mrs. Marple.

Top

 

Dutch courage

Unfortunately, the Dutch haven't been treated very kindly in English idioms. From the fact that they were thought to consume great quantities of alcohol, for instance, Dutch courage refers to false bravery gained by drinking alcohol. "Sam dislikes flying so much he's gone to get some Dutch courage before boarding his plane."

Top

 

 

End of the road

Dick and Jane's romance looks as though it's about to come to the end of the road. In fact their very lives appear about to come to the end of the road. The end of the road is a time when one's interest, desire, a relationship or even life itself comes to an end.

Top

 

Every inch

Shakespeare used this expression in King Lear. It means "totally, completely, in every way". "He is every inch a king," Lear said. "I am every inch a believer in freedom," the teacher said. "You are every inch lovely lady," Betsy's mother smiled.
 

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