An idiom is a phrase or an expression that has a figurative, or sometimes literal, meaning. Learn commonly used business idioms and expressions that are illustrated with pictures and examples.
Here is the list of most common business idioms in English, explaining their meaning and giving you an example of how to use them.
You can jump to any section of this lesson:
- 1 Business Idioms about Deadlines
- 2 Idioms for Making Decisions
- 3 Idioms about Leadership
- 4 Business Idioms: Jobs
- 5 Idioms about Money and Finance
- 6 Idioms about Sales and Marketing
- 7 English Idioms for Negotiation
- 8 English Idioms for Problems
- 9 Idioms about Schedules and Planning
- 10 Business Idioms for Review Purpose
- 11 Business Meeting Idioms
Business Idioms about Deadlines
Burn the Midnight Oil
- Meaning: To work late into the night
- Example: We can finish this project by the end of the month, but we’re all going to have to burn the midnight oil.
Race Against Time
- Meaning: To rush to meet a deadline, to be forced to do something very quickly.
- Example: We’re racing against time to finish the advertisting campaign before the meeting Tuesday – we’re going to have to work all night.
Note: You can also say “race against the clock”.
Business Idioms for Review Purpose
Mind One’s P’s and Q’s
- Meaning: Be attentive to details; be on one’s best behavior
- Example: When you’re working on this project, mind your p’s and q’s. There are a lot of places where it’s easy to make a mistake.
All Over The Place
- Meaning: Everywhere; in many different locations
- Example: We have problems all over the place. Three major roadways are closed, and there are wires down on several others.
Read Between the Lines
- Meaning: Perceive what is not explicitly stated
- Example: If you read between the lines of their proposal, you’ll see that they’re desperate to unload their extra inventory.
Across The Board
- Meaning: In relation to all categories, for everyone
- Example: The meeting was a disaster across the board – every single one of my ideas was rejected.
All Over The Board
- Meaning: Everywhere, in many different locations
- Example: We have problems all over the board. Three major roadways are closed, and there are wires down on several others.
Business Meeting Idioms
Hit the Nail on the Head
- Meaning: To be absolutely correct (said of an utterance)
- Example: I think Phil hit the nail on the head when he said we’re losing ground because of problems in our sales force.
Take the Edge Off (of Something)
- Meaning: To slightly improve something negative
- Example: The pay cuts are bad news, but the news that we won’t have to work overtime anymore takes the edge off it.