Learn frequently used CAR Idioms in English with meaning and examples.
- Meaning: On an automobile (especially those produced from 1939 through the mid-1970s), a three-speed manual transmission whose gearshift lever is mounted on the steering column
- Example: Three-on-the-tree was a common way of mounting the gearshift lever on old pickup trucks.
Note: Rare nowadays, largely because few three-speed transmissions are being produced.
All Roads Lead to Rome
- Meaning: There is more than one effective way to do something; many different methods will produce the same result
- Example: It doesn’t really matter which part of the project you start with – all roads lead to Rome.
Note: A colloquial U.S. equivalent is “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.
- Meaning: Someone who accelerates to try to cross an intersection before a traffic light turns red
- Example: I don’t like riding in a car with Susan – she’s an amber gambler.
Note: This idiom is British.
- Meaning: Someone who likes to give (often annoying) advice to the driver of a car, or the leader of some other enterprise
- Example: Nick is sort of a backseat driver. He’s full of suggestions for the project, but he avoids taking any responsibility for his suggestions.
- Meaning: A shop where stolen cars are disassembled for parts
- Example: My car was stolen earlier this week, but I didn’t notice it was missing until today. I’m sure it’s in a chop shop by now.
Useful CAR Idioms in English
…Common CAR Idioms…
Down the road
- Meaning: In the future (in your lifetime)
- Example: If you don’t do your homework now, it’ll be a problem down the road when you don’t know the material for the exam.
Put the Brakes On
- Meaning: Slow something down
- Example: Higher coal prices put the brakes on industrial activities in the second quarter.
Note: In UK English, this is sometimes “put a brake on.”
Put the Pedal to the Metal
- Meaning: Drive as fast as possible
- Example: I’m late for my best friend’s wedding. Put the pedal to the metal!
- Meaning: To travel to the same place with a group of people in one car. e.g. work/school
- Example: They still carpool to work and room together on the road.
To have one for the road
- Meaning: To have one last (alcoholic) drink before you go home
- Example: Before I went home, she persuaded me to have one for the road.
- Meaning: A complete change of opinion, direction, etc.
- Example: My father has always invested conservatively, but this month he made a U turn and backed a completely speculative company.
You’re driving me nuts
- Meaning: To make someone giddy or crazy
- Example: I’ll sit there and yell and point and drive you nuts, ’cause you’re driving me nuts, Adrian.
Run Out of Steam
- Meaning: Lose momentum, become tired
- Example: The president’s tax plan is running out of steam in the legislature as business lobbyists attack it.
Hell for Leather
- Meaning: Very fast, as fast as possible
- Example: After work I drove home hell for leather, but I still missed my daughter’s birthday party.
- Meaning: Approximate, hastily done
- Example: It will take time to get the final cost, but a quick-and-dirty estimate would be $45,000.
Quick as a Flash
- Meaning: Very fast
- Example: I’ll have the order done quick as a flash – probably by the time you get back to your office.
- Meaning: An exact tie in a race or competition
- Example: The two racers finished in a dead heat, and they both received gold medals.
- Meaning: Running as fast as possible
- Example: The guards came at a dead run, but the burglars were already gone.