10+ Useful Job Idioms: A Fun Way to Learn English Vocabulary

This article will explore some of the most common job idioms and what they mean. When it comes to talking about jobs, there are many idioms and sayings that people use to describe their experiences. These expressions can be both positive and negative, and they provide a unique insight into the language and culture of the workplace.

List of 11 Idioms & Saying about Jobs

  • Learn the Ropes
  • Get the Sack/ Be Sacked
  • Off the Hook
  • Hanging by a Thread
  • Burn the Candle at Both Ends
  • Rank and File
  • Pink Slip
  • Out of Work
  • Move Up in the World
  • Give Someone The Old Heave-Ho
  • All In A Day’s Work (Excl.)

Job Idioms & Sayings | Image

10+ Useful Idioms Related to Jobs in English | Learn Job IdiomsPin

Job Idioms & Sayings with Meaning and Examples

Learn the Ropes

  • Meaning: Become more familiar with a job or field of endeavor; be trained.
  • Example: It will take us several weeks to learn the ropes of the new software, but we’re sure we’ll be satisfied with our performance.

Get the Sack/ Be Sacked

  • Meaning: To be fired from a job.
  • Example: We heard that John got the sack from his job at the factory because he was always late.

Off the Hook

  • Meaning: To avoid punishment or responsibility.
  • Example: We thought we would get in trouble for missing the deadline, but our boss let us off the hook.

Hanging by a Thread

  • Meaning: In a precarious or risky situation.
  • Example: Our company’s financial situation is hanging by a thread, and we need to make some changes quickly.

Burn the Candle at Both Ends

  • Meaning: To work hard or stay up late into the night.
  • Example: We’ve been burning the candle at both ends to finish this project on time.

Rank and File

  • Meaning: Ordinary members of an organization.
  • Example: The rank and file of our company are the backbone of our success.

Pink Slip

  • Meaning: A notice of termination from a job.
  • Example: We were shocked when we received a pink slip from our boss after working at the company for ten years.

Out of Work

  • Meaning: Unemployed.
  • Example: After being out of work for six months, we finally found a new job.

Move Up in the World

  • Meaning: To advance in one’s career or social status.
  • Example: We worked hard to move up in the world and become a manager at our company.

Give Someone The Old Heave-Ho

  • Meaning: To fire or dismiss someone.
  • Example: Our boss gave our coworker the old heave-ho after he was caught stealing.

All In A Day’s Work (Excl.)

  • Meaning: Something that is considered normal or routine.
  • Example: Fixing a computer glitch is all in a day’s work for us as IT professionals.

Using Job Idioms in Conversation

When it comes to using job idioms in conversation, it’s important to keep in mind the context and audience. While idioms can add color and personality to your speech, they can also be confusing or inappropriate if used incorrectly.

One way to incorporate job idioms into your conversations is to use them in appropriate situations. For example, if you’re discussing a recent layoff at your company, you might say, “It’s a tough market out there, and unfortunately, some of our colleagues got the axe.” This communicates the seriousness of the situation while also using a common job idiom.

Another way to use job idioms is to practice active listening. If someone else uses a job idiom in conversation, take note of it and try to use it yourself in a similar context. This not only helps you improve your use of idioms, but also shows that you are engaged in the conversation and paying attention to what others are saying.

It’s also important to be aware of cultural differences when using job idioms. Some idioms may be more common or acceptable in certain regions or industries than others. For example, “getting the sack” may be more commonly used in the UK than in the US. When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to research or ask someone familiar with the culture or industry before using a job idiom.

Here are some example conversations with job idioms:

Example 1:

  • John: “I’m starting my new job tomorrow. Any advice?”
  • Peter: “Just take your time and learn the ropes. It’ll take a little while to get used to everything.”

Example 2:

  • Linda: “Hey, have you seen John around lately?”
  • Oliver: “No, he got the sack last week for not showing up to work on time.”

Example 3:

  • Jack: “You look exhausted. What have you been up to?”
  • Emma: “I’ve been working two jobs and trying to go to school at the same time. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends lately.”

Interactive Exercises

Exercise 1: Fill in the blanks with the correct idiom:

  • I’ve been working here for a few months now, and I’m starting to ____________.
  • He was caught stealing from the company, so he ____________.
  • I thought I was going to get in trouble, but I was ____________.
  • The company’s financial situation is ____________, and many employees are worried about losing their jobs.
  • She’s been ____________ lately, trying to finish all her projects before the deadline.
  • The ____________ are the backbone of any organization.
  • After years of working at the same company, he was given a ____________.
  • He’s been ____________ for months and is having a hard time finding a new job.
  • She’s hoping to ____________ by getting a promotion.
  • When he started causing trouble, they had to ____________.

Exercise 2: Choose the correct idiom to complete each sentence.

  • When I started my new job, it took me a while to ____________ and understand how things worked. 

        A. Rank and File      B. Learn the Ropes        C. Get the Sack

  • After making several mistakes, he was afraid he would ____________.

       A. Burn the Candle at Both Ends    B. Get the Sack/ Be Sacked    C. Off the Hook

  • I thought I was in trouble, but it turns out I was ____________.

      A. Hanging by a Thread     B. Pink Slip         C. Off the Hook

  • The company’s finances are ____________, and it’s not clear if they will be able to stay in business.

      A. Hanging by a Thread        B. Burn the Candle at Both Ends             C. Rank and File

  • She’s been ____________ lately, working long hours at the office and then staying up late to finish projects at home.

     A. Out of Work           B. All In A Day’s Work (Excl.)           C. Burn the Candle at Both Ends

  • After years of working in the ____________, he finally got promoted to a management position.

     A. Move Up in the World         B. Give Someone The Old Heave-Ho            C. Pink Slip

  • He was surprised to receive a ____________ after working at the company for so many years.

     A. Pink Slip          B. Out of Work             C. Get the Sack/ Be Sacked

  • After being ____________ for several months, he finally found a new job.

      A. Hanging by a Thread            B. Rank and File               C. Out of Work

Answer:

Exercise 1: 

  • B. Learn the Ropes
  • B. Get the Sack/ Be Sacked
  • C. Off the Hook
  • A. Hanging by a Thread
  • C. Burn the Candle at Both Ends
  • A. Move Up in the World
  • A. Pink Slip
  • C. Out of Work

Exercise 2:

  • I’ve been working here for a few months now, and I’m starting to learn the ropes.
  • He was caught stealing from the company, so he got the sack.
  • I thought I was going to get in trouble, but I was off the hook.
  • The company’s financial situation is hanging by a thread, and many employees are worried about losing their jobs.
  • She’s been burning the candle at both ends lately, trying to finish all her projects before the deadline.
  • The rank and file are the backbone of any organization.
  • After years of working at the same company, he was given a pink slip.
  • He’s been out of work for months and is having a hard time finding a new job.
  • She’s hoping to move up in the world by getting a promotion.
  • When he started causing trouble, they had to give him the old heave-ho.

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Last Updated on November 20, 2023

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