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Idioms

In the fullness of time   Flat as pancake
Gutter press A flea market
Ahead of one's time Live in a fool's paradise
A backhanded compliment From China to Peru
A big noise Filled with the milk of human kindness
Birthday suit Gallows humor
Bless someone's little cotton socks Get on a stick
A blind spot Get one's head shrunk
Break a butterfly on a wheel Go to pot
Bring out the big guns A grass widow
A burning question Hang up one's boots
Burst one's button Have a ball
Bring someone to account Have a frog in one s throat
Get some shut-eye Have a memory like a sieve
The cat's pyjamas Have kittens
Come down on someone like a ton of bricks Have one's head screwed on backwards
Corner the market in something Have the constitution of an ox
Do someone a good turn Have the devil's own time
Dot the i s and cross the t s A head shrinker
Down the hatch Hold out an olive branch
Drown one s sorrow Horsefeathers
Fish in troubled waters In Dutch
   
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In the fullness of time

This expression ( it's found in the Bible at Galatians 4:4 ) means eventually; sometime in the future; or when the time is right. Whenever that time is, it certainly isn't now ! "In the fullness of time, I hope to be able to visit Europe." "If I study hard, in the fullness of time I should be able to get a degree in Civil Engineering." "In the fullness of time, Juliet will sell her house and buy an apartment." "In the fullness of time, i hope to fall in love, get married, and have a family," Nicolas said.

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A / The gutter press

"It's a real honor to be able to sell papers for the The Daily Blah," Fred smiled. That startled me because everyone knows that The Daily Blah is a gutter press newspaper. Then Fred laughed. "I know that, I was only kidding you," he said. A / the gutter press refers to a type of newspaper that publishes scandal and gossip. "And very little news," Fred added

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Ahead of one's time

The way Ray dresses confuses his father. He wears strange clothes and has an even stranger haircut. "Why do you dress like that ?" his father asked. "Because, dad, I'm ahead of my time," Ray replied. to be ahead of one's time is to be very modern, very advanced. "Is there such a thing as being too far ahead of one's time ?" his father asked.

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A backhanded compliment

Ronald has lost his title as the strongest man in the world. He's now congratulating the man who won ... but as you can see he's giving him a backhanded compliment. This is a remark that sounds like a compliment but its' said sarcastically. "Well done. I should have done better," The ex-champion said, offering a backhanded compliment.

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A big noise

Gertrude's boss isn't called a big noise without a reason ! when he's upset, his employees sure know about it ! That isn't the only reason he's called a big noise, though, for a big noise is any important person in a position of authority. "Isn't it an honor to work for such a big noise ?" Gertrude asked her co-worker.

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Birthday suit

Today is little Jonathan's birthday. In his eagerness to see what gifts await him, he has rushed from his bedroom wearing nothing but his birthday suit ! In the event that you don't know it, to be in one's birthday suit is to be absolutely naked. Happy birthday, dear Jonathan !

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Bless someone's little cotton socks

Though this colloquial expression used to be addressed only to children, it's now used -- informally, of course -- to wish someone well or to thank them. "How nice of you to do the dishes. Bless your little cotton socks," "Well, goodbye and bless your little cotton socks, Joe. i hope you enjoy your trip.

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A blind spot

"Whenever I bring up the subject of our moving to a new apartment you become stubborn and refuse to discuss it," Millie's husband complained. "You have a blind spot about moving." The next day Millie had her eyes examined and learned that a blind spot refers to a matter or topic a person refuses -- or is unwilling -- to accept, discuss or understand.

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Break a butterfly on a wheel

The "wheel" was an ancient instrument of torture. It has given us this rather old expression meaning to use more force or energy than necessary to accomplish a simple task. "I've got to punish Gertrude for not studying but I don't want to break a butterfly on a wheel by being too severe with her," her mother said.

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Bring out the big guns

The mice are tired of Chadwick giving them trouble. now that he's asleep they're seizing the opportunity to bring out the big guns to show him who's boss. To bring out the big guns is to make use of a concealed plan to defeat an opponent in an argument or in a game, debate or competition.

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A burning question

The last time you were asked a burning question, did you see smoke and fire coming from it ? I doubt it, for a burning question simply describes a question of great interest or importance. "The burning question is who will win the beauty contest ?" "The burning question is this : where were you tonight ?"

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Burst one's buttons

Colloquially, the word "bust" is often used instead of the word "burst", as in this expression which means to be proud. When we are proud we stick out our chests. If we stick them out too far our buttons might pop off ! "I thought I was going to bust my buttons when I was given a medal," Fred smiled.

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Bring someone to account

"I find you have a good record but I must call you to account for once helping an old lady across the street, " Ken's new boss said. To bring someone to account is to ask people to explain their reasons for doing something. Usually they have done something wrong so they are being blamed.

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Get some shut-eye

"I have an important meeting tomorrow so I'm going to bed to get some shut-eye, " Luke said. Once in bed, he tossed and turned. "I wish I could catch some shut-eye," he said. "Even a little shut-eye would be better than none !" What Luke is saying is that he'd like to get some sleep.

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The cat's pyjamas

Carrick has just returned from a visit to his tailor. He's examining a new suit he had ordered. "It's great ! It's super ! It's the latest fashion 1 " he cried. "It's the cat's pyjamas." What he means is that the suit is very nice. "I'll look the cat's pyjamas in it, " Carrick grinned. That means he thinks he'll look wonderful.

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Come down on someone like a ton of bricks

It's unfortunate but people can come down on someone, or something, like a ton of bricks. When Clement was late for work, his supervisor came down on him like a ton of bricks. When Clement gave a weak excuse for being late, his supervisor came down on it like a ton of bricks. In both instances the supervisor was directing the full force of his anger at Clement. "I've had a miserable day," Clement said.

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Corner the market in something

In this expression the word "corner" means to have control of enough of something -- it could be anything that is bought and sold -- to be able to manipulate ( control ) its price. It's the same as having a monopoly. "Now, if I could just corner the market in sand, I'd get rich !" Winston laughed.

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Do someone a good turn

"You've done a number of favors for me," Brewster said, "so allow me to do you a good turn. Let me take you out to lunch today." Slightly dizzy, Brewster's friend agreed. He hadn't expected Brewster to do him a good turn. To do someone a good turn is to do something nice or helpful for someone.

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Dot the i's and cross the t's

We see in this illustration a perfect example of someone who did not dot the i's and cross the t's. This means to be careful, thorough, and to pay close attention to details. "Charles ! You placed the letters backwards in this idiom ! You must be careful to dot the i's and cross the t's when you draw your illustrations."

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Down the hatch

A hatch is a small door. Colloquially, a person's throat is called a hatch. That's why when people are celebrating and drinking together you frequently see them lifting their glasses and saying, "Down the hatch." That means "let's drink". "I propose a salute to Penelope's success," someone shouted. "Down the hatch."

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Drown one's sorrow

It's obvious that Timothy has a broken heart : it's beside him on the table ! Now he's trying to drown his sorrows. When people drown their sorrows, they drink lots of alcohol in an attempt to forget their pain, problems or unhappiness. "You can't drown your sorrows, Timothy. You must face them boldly like a man ... er, I mean like a mouse."

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Fish in troubled waters

To fish in troubled waters is to take advantage of a troubled or confused situation to seek personal gains or rewards. "The recent storms have caused confusion and flooding in parts of the city," Fergus said. "That has given me a perfect opportunity to try my luck fishing in muddy waters," he grinned.

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Flat as a pancake

One day Penelope saw a picture of the North Pole. "Why, it's flat as a pancake there," she exclaimed. Later in the kitchen cooking breakfast she heard a thump. Looking down she saw her father on the floor. "Heavens, he's flat as a pancake !" she cried. When something is flat as a pancake it is very level or very flat.

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A flea market

"I knew it would be a mistake to bring you here," Mike scolded her cat. "Whenever I take you to a flea market you get nervous and start scratching." Mike's cat shouldn't get upset for a flea market is simply a name given to an outdoor market where secondhand articles and antiques are sold.

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Live in a fool's paradise

A fool's paradise is a state of unreal happiness, and people who live in a fool's paradise are deceiving themselves : their happiness or trust is based on false information or a misunderstanding of the truth. " You're living in a a fool's paradise if you think you can finish school without studying," the teacher warned.

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From China to Peru

A quick look at a map of the world will show you that Peru is a long, long way from China. It's for that reason that the expression from China to Peru means "all over the world". "Products made in Hong Kong can be found from China to Peru." "Ken's reputation for honesty is known from China to Peru."

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Filled with the milk of human kindness

"What a truly generous little kid you are," Ryan grinned. "You are indeed filled with the milk of human kindness." An authority on the works of Shakespeare, Ryan is praising the child with a quotation from Macbeth ( Act 1, scene 5 ) that means to be full of generosity, sympathy, affection and goodwill towards others.

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Gallows humor

It's not likely that a criminal being walked to a gallows to be hanged would find much to laugh about. That's why gallows humor refers to jokes that make fun of a very serious matter. "How can you children joke when our school's burning down ? That's gallows humor," the teacher frowned.

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Get on a stick

Witches are smart. When they want to get to a particular place in a hurry, they don't take a bus; they get on a stick and fly there. When we get on a stick, we act or move in a hurry. "I'll have to get on a stick or I'll be late for dinner," Teddy said.

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Get one's head shrunk

Many people find that discussing their problems with a psychiatrist or a psychologist ( colloquially, "a head shrinker" ) helps to improve their well-being. Their minds ( their heads ) feel better. From that, a person visiting a psychiatrist or a psychologist is getting his or her head shrunk. "I go to Dr. Vincent twice a week to get my head shrunk," Lionel said.

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Go to pot

When Harry went on holiday her plants went to pot. When anything goes to pot -- and that includes people -- its condition declines, usually due to neglect. "I foolishly let my plants go to pot," Harry said. "This neighborhood is going to pot," Victor complained. "I'll go to pot if I don't stop eating so much," Cindy said.

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A grass widow

A grass widow is a married woman who is either separated from her husband or -- and this is usually the way the idiom is used -- whose husband is away from home much of the time. "Poor Beth, she's a grass widow now that her husband has begun playing golf. It seems he spends most of his time at the golf club instead of at home."

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Hang up one's boots

Miss Betty has worked at the same desk at the GG Company for thirty-two years. "It's time I hung up my boots," she said, and with that she marched up to the boss and turned in her resignation. To hang up one's boots is a colloquialism that means to quit doing something or, in particular, to retire.

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Have a ball

Before being sent to prison Carl drove big cars and ate in expensive restaurants. No one knew where he got his money but he was certainly having a ball. When the judge sentenced him to prison he said, " I hope you have a ball, Carl. " To have a ball is to have a wonderful time.

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Have a frog in one's throat

To have a frog in one's throat shouldn't cause alarm for it happens to all of us at one time or another. It happens when our ability to speak clearly is interrupted ( usually temporarily ) by mucus in our throats. "Excuse me," the hippo gulped. "I seem to have a frog in my throat today."

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Have a memory like a sieve

A sieve is a utensil with many fine holes. A person accused of having a memory like a sieve is either unable to retain information or is very forgetful. "I'll never learn French; I have a memory like a sieve." "I have a head like a sieve today. I've forgotten where I parked my car."

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Have kittens

Lucky ( that's the name of my dog ) is having kittens ! Meow ( that's the name of my cat ) has gone out and has left him to take care of her children. To have kittens is to be nervous, anxious or angry. In Lucky's case he's all three of those things.

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Have one's head screwed on backwards

People accused of having their heads screwed on backwards lack sense. They behave in strange ways or do silly things. "You must have your head screwed on backwards to go on a picnic today. It's raining !" "Alvin is so sensible. No one could accuse him of having his head screwed on backwards."

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Have the constitution of an ox

In this expression, the word "constitution" means the whole physical and mental composition of a person. That's why people who have the constitution of an ox possess an amazing amount of strength, particularly in being able to work hard or to overcome misfortune. "Albert recovered from his illness quickly. He must have the constitution of an ox."

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Have the devil's own time

Douglas is having the devil's own time getting used to his new job. It's more troublesome than he imagined. To have the devil's own time means to go through a difficult and drawn-out struggle. "I also have the devil's own time trying to get home in the evening rush-hour traffic," Douglas said.

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A head shrinker

Feeling depressed, Roth visited his physician. "I think a frank talk with a head shrinker might benefit you," the doctor said. "I'll send you to a shrink I know." You can imagine how relieved Roth was when he learned a head shrinker ( often shortened to a shrink ) isn't a witch doctor : it's a psychiatrist or a psychologist.

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Hold out an olive branch

Clive has been discovered having a snack in a place where he shouldn't be. Matt is angry, of course, but Clive hopes to correct that for he's holding out an olive branch. Because an olive branch is an ancient symbol of friendship, this expression means to seek peace. "I'm waving an olive branch," Clive mumbled. "Let's be friends."

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Horsefeathers

Everyone knows that horses do not have feathers. That, I imagine, is why this interjection is used to express disbelief. "Horsefeathers 1 I don't believe a word of your excuse," the boss said. the word also expresses discontent. "Oh, horsefeathers 1 I've just missed my bus, " Richard complained.

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In Dutch

Oh, oh 1 Max has miscalculated again and he's in Dutch. I'm glad I'm not Max because to be in Dutch is to be in serious trouble. "I'm in Dutch with my wife. I forgot to buy her a birthday gift." "I'm frustrated," Max said. "I'm always doing the wrong thing and getting in Dutch.

 

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