Learn Commonly Used Construction Idioms in English with meaning and examples.
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(Dumb as a) Bag Of Hammers
- Meaning: Stupid, oriented toward illogic
- Example: The news anchor is pretty, but she’s as dumb as a bag of hammers.
Note: In the USA, “dumb as a box of rocks” is more common.
(To) Put a Spanner in the Works
- Meaning: To sabotage something; to cause something to fail
- Example: When Josie raised the issue of Eurozone regulations, that really put a spanner in the works, and we had to start over with the design.
Note: The USA equivalent is “throw a wrench into” something, but this is less common.
Accident Waiting To Happen
- Meaning: A dangerous way of setting up or organizing something
- Example: Putting tables on the patio with no guardrail is just an accident waiting to happen.
Against The Grain
- Meaning: Contrary to one’s natural inclinations
- Example: I’ll do it, but it goes against the grain for me to lie to her like that.
Note: From the fact that to cut against the “grain” or the natural lines of wood is difficult.
An Axe To Grind
- Meaning: A grievance, a disagreement with someone that justifies confrontation .
- Example: I have an axe to grind with you – you took credit for all the research I did on the project.
Backing and Filling
- Meaning: Delaying a decision by making small changes or arguing about small details .
- Example: The sales team kept backing and filling, but they’re finally on board with the marketing plan.
Useful Construction Idioms in English
Bury the Hatchet
- Meaning: Make peace, agree to end a dispute
- Example: Ellen and I were always at odds, but we’ve finally decided to bury the hatchet and try to work together.
Note: This is of American origin and may have referred to a practice of some Native American tribes. It is now more widely used.
- Meaning: Improve relations after a dispute
- Example: I’d really like to mend fences with Angela. Our disagreement seems so foolish now.
Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day
- Meaning: Complex projects take time
- Example: I realize we’ll have to divert manpower to the programming for the new website, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Shit a Brick
- Meaning: Be extremely fearful.
- Example: When the names of the people being laid off were being read, I was shitting a brick.
Note: This is obscene. You can also say “shit bricks.”
Throw a Wrench Into
- Meaning: To sabotage; to cause to fail
- Example: Sorry to throw a wrench into your plans, but we can’t launch the product that day – the president will be out of the country.
Note: The UK equivalent is “put a spanner in the works.” Wrench is American; “spanner” is British.
Tighten the Screws
- Meaning: Increase pressure on someone
- Example: The government has really been tightening the screws on people who underreport their income.
Toss a Wrench (Spanner) Into
- Meaning: Sabotage; cause a process to stop
- Example: By raising the issue of toxics regulations, Carl really tossed a wrench into the project.
Note: Wrench is American; “spanner” is British.
- (Dumb as a) Bag Of Hammers
- (To) Put a Spanner in the Works
- Accident Waiting To Happen
- Backing and Filling
- build idioms
- Buildings and Construction Idioms
- Bury the Hatchet
- common idioms about construction
- construct idioms
- construction idioms
- english idioms: construction
- idioms about construction
- idioms for kids
- Idioms related to building
- list of idioms
- Mend Fences
- Rome Wasn't Built in a Day
- Shit a Brick
- Throw a Wrench Into
- Tighten the Screws
- Toss a Wrench (Spanner) Into