List of Idioms: 1500+ Idioms List from A-Z

Idioms occur in all languages on every continent throughout the world. They are known as a form of formulaic language. This type of language is not meant to be taken literally in most cases. These phrases are meant to have a figurative meaning that paints a picture in someone’s mind as a comparison to what is literally implied by the terminology being used. Most idioms come in the form of phrases known as idiomatic phrases. Idioms are used every day in all types of conversations and discussions about many topics. They most often appear in informal conversations, but can also appear in formal discussions as well.

What Is An Idiom?

An idiom is a phrase or an expression that has a figurative, or sometimes literal meaning. An idiom’s figurative meaning is different from the literal meaning.

Idioms are things that people say or write that when taken literally, don’t make sense. This can be quite confusing, but essentially they are ‘sayings’ or ‘phrases’ that are understood by English speakers in terms of their intended meaning, but when taken at face value the words together make little or no sense at all. An example might be somebody saying they were “Over the moon” because of something good happening in their lives. Taking that literally would leave somebody feeling quite confused, but most people understand that the individual is trying to say that they are really happy about something. There are many examples of idioms in English and we’ll take a look at a few more later, but why do we use them to begin with?

List of Idioms

1500+ Idioms List

The following is an extensive list of 1500+ common English Idioms with their meanings.

Idioms (A)

List of idioms that start with A.

  • A Bit Much: More than is reasonable; a bit too much
  • A Bite at The Cherry: A good opportunity that isn’t available to everyone
  • A Busy Bee: A busy, active person who moves quickly from task to task.
  • A Cat Has Nine Lives: Cats seem to get away with dangerous things
  • A Cat Nap: A short sleep during the day
  • A Cat in Gloves Catches No Mice: You can’t get what you need if you’re too careful.
  • A Cold Day In July: (Something that) will never happen
  • A Cold Fish: Someone who is not often moved by emotions, who is regarded as being hard and unfeeling.
  • A Cut Above: Slightly better than
  • A Cut Below: Inferior to; somewhat lower in quality than
  • A Day Late And A Dollar Short: Too delayed and insignificant to have much effect
  • A Dog in The Manger: A person who selfishly prevent others from using, enjoying or profiting from something even though he/ she cannot use or enjoy it himself.
  • A Few Sandwiches Short Of A Picnic: Abnormally stupid, not really sane
  • A Good Deal: To a large extent, a lot
  • A Guinea Pig: Someone who is part of an experiment or trial
  • A Hair’s Breadth: A very small distance or amount
  • A Home Bird: Somebody who prefers to spend his social and free time at home.
  • A Hundred And Ten Percent: More than what seems to be the maximum
  • A Lame Duck: A person or enterprise (often a business) that is not a success and that has to be helped.
  • A Leg Up: An advantage, a boost
  • A Lemon: A vehicle that does not work properly
  • A Life Of Its Own: An indepdendent existence
  • A Little Bird Told Me: I don’t wish to divulge where I got the information
  • A Little from Column A, a Little from Column B: A course of action drawing on several different ideas or possibilities
  • A Lone Wolf: Someone who is not very social with other people
  • A Lot on One’s Plate: A lot to do
  • A Million and One: Very many
  • A Notch Above: Superior to; higher in quality
  • A Penny Saved is A Penny Earned: Every small amount helps to build one’s savings
  • A Penny for Your Thoughts: What are you thinking?
  • A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words: A visual presentation can communicate something very effectively
  • A Plum Job: An easy and pleasant job that also pays well
  • A Rare Bird: Somebody or something of a kind that one seldom sees.
  • A Scaredy-Cat: Someone who is excessively scared or afraid.
  • A Second Bite At The Cherry: A Second chance to do something
  • A Sight for Sore Eyes: Someone that you’re pleased to see
  • A Sitting Duck: A person or object in a vulnerable position that is easy to attack or injure.
  • A Snowball’s Chance in Hell: Little to no likelihood of occurrence or success
  • A Stitch in Time Saves Nine: Fix something quickly, because if you don’t, it will just get more difficult to fix
  • A Stone’s Throw: A very short distance
  • A Storm in a Teacup: Unnecessary anger or worry about an unimportant or trivial matter
  • A Tall Order: A difficult task
  • A Week Is A Long Time In _____: In the field mentioned, the situation may change rapidly
  • About Time: Far past the desired time
  • About To: On the point of, occurring imminently
  • Above And Beyond: More than is expected or required
  • Above Board: Openly, without deceit. Honestly, reputably.
  • Above The Law: Exempt from the laws that apply to everyone else.
  • Above The Salt: Of high standing or honor
  • Above Water: Not in extreme difficulty. Especially said of finances
  • Accident Of Birth: Luck in something due to family good fortune
  • Accident Waiting To Happen: A dangerous way of setting up or organizing something
  • According To Hoyle: Properly, in accordance with established procedures
  • Ace In The Hole: A hidden advantage
  • Ace Up One’s Sleeve: A surprise advantage of which others are not aware.
  • Achilles’ Heel: The weak point of an otherwise powerful person or organization
  • Acid Test: A crucial event that determines the worth of something
  • Acknowledge The Corn: Admit to a mistake, especially a small one; point out one’s own shortcomings, or another’s
  • Acquired Taste: Something one learns to appreciate only after trying it repeatedly
  • Across The Board: In relation to all categories, for everyone
  • Across The Pond: On or to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Act High and Mighty: Be arrogant, presume that one is better than others
  • Act Of Congress: Hard to get, said of authorization
  • Act One’s Age: To be mature, not childish
  • Actions Speak Louder Than Words: One’s character and intentions are shown more accurately by one’s actions than by one’s words.
  • Add Fuel To The Fire: Worsen already existing tension
  • Add Insult To Injury: Compound a defeat with humiliation or mockery
  • After One’s Own Heart: Similar in a pleasing way
  • After The Fact: Too late; after something is completed or finalized
  • After The Lord Mayor’s Show (UK): Anticlimactic; occurring after something impressive
  • Against The Clock: Forced to hurry to meet a deadline
  • Against The Grain: Contrary to one’s natural inclinations
  • Against The Run Of Play: A typical of the way a game has been going
  • Age Before Beauty: Something said by a younger woman to an older one, for instance allowing her to pass through a doorway
  • Agree To Disagree: Accept or set aside a disagreement
  • Agreement In Principle: In a negotiation, an agreement in which not all details have been worked out
  • Aha Moment: Sudden realization, the point at which one suddenly understands something
  • Ahead Of One’s Time: Offering ideas not yet in general circulation; highly creative
  • Ahead Of The Curve: Innovative, devising new ideas in advance of others
  • Ahead Of The Game: Making faster progress than anticipated; ahead of schedule
  • Air Rage: Angry behavior inside an airplane
  • Airy Fairy: whimsical, nonsensical, impractical
  • Albatross Around One’s Neck: Something from one’s past that acts as a hindrance
  • Alive and Kicking: In good health despite health problems
  • All Along: For the entire time something has been happening
  • All And Sundry: Everyone(separately) Each one.
  • All Bark And No Bite: Tending to make verbal threats but not deliver on them
  • All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go: Prepared (with clothing or otherwise) for an event that does not occur
  • All Ears: Listening willingly, waiting for an explanation
  • All Eyes And Ears: Attentive
  • All Eyes Are On: Watching alertly or attentively. Having prominent eyes. Everyone is paying attention to
  • All Fur Coat And No Knickers: Superficially attractive, physically or otherwise
  • All Hands on Deck: Everyone must help.
  • All Hat And No Cattle: Pretentious, full of bluster
  • All Hell Breaks Loose: The situation becomes chaotic.
  • All In A Day’s Work (Excl.): That’s what I’m here for; although I have accomplished something, it is part of what I’m expected to do
  • All In Good Time: Eventually; at a more favorable time in the future. This phrase encourages one to be patient.
  • All It’s Cracked Up To Be: As good as claims or reputation would suggest
  • All Mouth And No Trousers: Superficial, engaging in empty, boastful talk, but not of real substance
  • All Over But The Shouting: Certain to end in a specific way
  • All Over Hell’s Half Acre: All over the place; everywhere.
  • All Over The Board: Everywhere, in many different locations
  • All Over The Map: Everywhere; in many different locations
  • All Over The Place: Everywhere; in many different locations
  • All Rights Reserved: Said of a published work; all reproduction rights are asserted by the copyright holder
  • All Roads Lead to Rome: There is more than one effective way to do something; many different methods will produce the same result
  • All Set: Ready, prepared, finished
  • All Sizzle And No Steak: Failing to live up to advance promotion or reputation
  • All Talk and No Trousers: Prone to empty boasts
  • All That Jazz: Similar things, similar qualities, et cetera
  • All The Marbles: The entire prize or reward
  • All The Rage: Very fashionable
  • All The Same: Anyway; nevertheless; nonetheless.
  • All The Tea In China: Great wealth, a large payment
  • All Things Being Equal: In the event that all aspects of a situation remain the same
  • All Things Considered: Taking all factors into consideration
  • All Thumbs: Clumsy
  • All Told: With everything taken into consideration
  • All Very Well: True to a certain extent
  • All Wet: Completely mistaken
  • All in One Piece: Safely
  • Along The Lines Of: In general accordance with, in the same general direction as
  • Amateur Hour: A display of incompetence
  • Amber Gambler: Someone who accelerates to try to cross an intersection before a traffic light turns red
  • Amber Nectar: Beer
  • American Dream (The): The belief among Americans that hard work leads to material success
  • An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away: Eating healthy foods will keep one from getting sick (and needing to see a doctor)
  • An Axe: To Grind A grievance, a disagreement with someone that justifies confrontation.
  • An Early Bird: A person who gets up early in the morning, or who starts work earlier than others.
  • An Eye for an Eye: Justice in which reparation or vengeance exactly matches the harm caused to the victim
  • An Offer One Can’t Refuse: An extremely attractive offer
  • Ancient History: Something, such as a disagreement, that happened long ago and ought to be forgotten
  • And All That: Et cetera, and so on.
  • And Change: And an additional amount of money that’s less than the next round number
  • And Counting: And the number just mentioned is increasing (or decreasing)
  • And His Mother: An intensifier for an inclusive noun or phrase such as everyone, everybody
  • And So Forth: Indicates that a list continues in a similar manner, etc.
  • And So On: Indicates that a list continues in a similar manner, etc.
  • And The Like: And other similar items, etc.
  • And Then Some: And even more than what has just been mentioned
  • Angel’s Advocate: Someone who takes a positive outlook on an idea or proposal
  • Angle For: Aim toward something, try to obtain something, often indirectly or secretly
  • Another Nail In One’s Coffin: Something that leads to someone’s death, literally or figuratively.
  • Answer Back: Respond impertinently; to talk back.
  • Ants In Your Pants: Restlessness
  • Any Port in a Storm: If you’re in trouble, you’ll turn to anything that improves the situation.
  • Any Tom, Dick or Harry: Any ordinary person
  • Apple of One’s Eye: A favorite person or thing, a person especially valued by someone
  • Apples and Oranges: Of two different classes, not comparable
  • Arm Candy: An attractive woman accompanying a powerful or famous man at a social event
  • Armed to the Teeth: Carrying many weapons
  • Around the Clock: At all times
  • As American as Apple Pie: Very or typically American
  • As Far as I Can Throw (someone): Only slightly
  • As Fit as A Fiddle: To be healthy and physically fit
  • As Pale as A Ghost: Extremely pale
  • As Poor as a Church Mouse: Very poor
  • As Red as A Cherry: Very red
  • Asleep at the Wheel (Switch): not paying attention to one’s work; not doing one’s job diligently.
  • At Death’s Door: Very near death
  • At Each Other’s Throats: Constantly and strongly arguing
  • At Loggerheads: In a state of persistent disagreement
  • At Sixes and Sevens: Someone is in a state of confusion or not very well organized.
  • At Wit’s End: Frustrated because all measures to deal with something have failed
  • At the Drop of a Hat: Spontaneously, suddenly
  • At the Eleventh Hour: It happens when it is almost too late.
  • At the End of One’s Rope (Tether): Running out of endurance or patience
  • At the End of the Day: In the final analysis; when all is said and done

Idioms (B)

List of idioms that start with B.

  • Babe In The Woods: An innocent, naive person
  • Babe Magnet: A man to whom women are attracted
  • Baby Blues: Blue eyes.
  • Baby Boomer: A person born in the years following World War II, when there was a temporary marked increase in the birth rate
  • Babysitter Test: An evaluation of the ease of use of household appliances, especially remote control devices
  • Back And Forth: Dialogue, negotiations
  • Back At You: Same to you (used to return a greeting or insult)
  • Back Burner (On The): Not urgent; set aside until later
  • Back Forty: Remote, inaccessible land
  • Back Of Beyond: A remote location
  • Back Office: Support services for a business
  • Back in the Day: Formerly, when I was younger, in earlier times
  • Back on One’s Feet: Physically healthy again
  • Back the Wrong Horse: To support the losing side
  • Back to Square One: Back to the start
  • Back to the Drawing Board: Forced to begin something again
  • Back to the Salt Mines: It’s time for me (us) to go back to work
  • Backing and Filling: Delaying a decision by making small changes or arguing about small details
  • Backseat Driver: Someone who likes to give (often annoying) advice to the driver of a car, or the leader of some other enterprise
  • Bad Apple: A discontented, trouble making, or dishonest person
  • Bad Blood: Enmity or hatred that stems from something in the past
  • Bad Egg: Someone who is not to be trusted
  • Bad Taste In One’s Mouth: Unease, a feeling that something unspecified is wrong in a situation
  • Bag of Tricks: A set of methods or resources
  • Bail Out: To rescue someone from a bad situation, to shield someone from the consequences of his or her actions
  • Ball and Chain: 1. One’s spouse (derogatory but often affectionate); 2. an ongoing burden
  • Ballpark Figure: A rough estimate
  • Bang One’s Head Against the Wall (Against a Brick Wall): Try repeatedly to do something without making progress
  • Banner Year: A year marked by strong successes
  • Baptism by Fire: A difficult task given right after one has assumed new responsibilities
  • Bar Fly (or Barfly): Someone who spends much of his or her time in bars
  • Bare One’s Heart (Soul): To confess one’s deepest secrets
  • Bark Up the Wrong Tree: Pursue a mistaken approach or belief; be wrong in a course of action
  • Basket Case: So upset or stunned that one is unable to function; in a hopeless condition
  • Bat/Play for Both Teams: To be bisexual.
  • Batten Down the Hatches: Prepare for a storm
  • Be A Barrel of Laughs: To be fun, funny, and pleasant.
  • Be A Cold Day In Hell: (Something that) will never happen
  • Be An Item: Two people are an item when they are having a romantic relationship
  • Be Footloose and Fancy-Free: To be free of responsibilities, including romantic commitments
  • Be Head Over Heels (In love): Be in love with somebody very much
  • Be Like Chalk and Cheese: Things or people who are very different and have nothing in common
  • Be Lovey – Dovey: Expressing your love in public by constantly kissing and hugging
  • Be Snowed Under: Be extremely busy with work or things to do
  • Be in Seventh Heaven: Extremely happy
  • Be in Two Minds (about something): To not be certain about something, or to have difficulty in making a decision
  • Be on the Mend: Be improving after an illness
  • Bean Counters: Accountants, finance professionals in an organization
  • Beat Around the Bush: To speak in a roundabout way in order to avoid confronting an unpleasant topic
  • Beat Someone To The Draw: To accomplish or obtain something more quickly than someone else
  • Beat Someone to the Punch: Do something before or faster than someone else
  • Beat the Drum for (Something): Speak in favor of something to try to generate support
  • Beauty Is Only Skin Deep: External appearance is a superficial basis for judging someone
  • Bed of Roses: A comfortable situation
  • Bedroom Eyes: An expression of the eyes that seems to invite sex
  • Bee in One’s Bonnet: Someone who has a bee in their bonnet has an idea which constantly occupies their thoughts.
  • Beggar Thy Neighbor: To do something beneficial for oneself without worrying about how it affects others
  • Behind the Eight (or 8) Ball: At a serious disadvantage
  • Behind the Scenes: In a way not apparent to the public
  • Behind the Times: Old-fashioned
  • Bell the Cat: Take on a difficult or impossible task
  • Bells And Whistles: Attractive but unnecessary features of a product
  • Belly Laugh: Loud, hearty laughter
  • Bend an Elbow: Drink alcoholic beverages at a tavern
  • Best (Greatest) Thing Since Sliced Bread: An innovative development
  • Best of Both Worlds: Combining two qualities that are usually separate
  • Bet One’s Bottom Dollar (On Something): Be certain that something will happen
  • Bet the Farm: Risk everything; spend all one’s money on something in hopes of success
  • Better late Than Never: It implies that a belated achievement is better than not reaching a goal at all.
  • Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Caught between two undesirable options
  • Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: In a difficult position
  • Beyond the Pale: Too morally or socially extreme to accept
  • Beyond the Shadow of a Doubt: Absolutely certain
  • Big Apple: An informal name for New York City
  • Big Brother: Government, viewed as an intrusive force in the lives of citizens; government spying
  • Big Cheese: An important person in a company or organization
  • Big Deal: An important event or accomplishment
  • Big Fish: An important person
  • Big Picture: A wide perspective; a broad view of something
  • Big time: If you do something big time, you do it to a great degree.
  • Birds of a Feather: People having similar characters, backgrounds, interests, or beliefs.
  • Bite Off More Than You Can Chew: Try to do more than one is capable of doing
  • Bite the Bullet: To do something even though it involves pain, discomfort, or difficulty
  • Bite the Hand That Feeds You: Act badly toward someone who has helped you
  • Bitter Pill to Swallow: An unpleasant fact that one must accept
  • Black Eye: A mark of shame
  • Black Sheep: A person who does not fit into a group, especially a family
  • Black and White: A clear distinction between good and bad, positive and negative
  • Black-and-Blue: Bruised, showing signs of having been physically harmed
  • Blank Check: Permission to spend or do whatever one wishes; carte blanche
  • Blind Date: When two people who have never seen each other before go on a date
  • Blinded by Love: When a person is so madly in love with somebody that they can’t see the person’s faults or negative characteristics
  • Blood and Thunder: A dramatic, spectacular performance
  • Blow Away the Cobwebs: If something blows away the cobwebs, it makes you feel more lively and refreshes your ideas.
  • Blow Hot and Cold: Shift one’s level of enthusiasm repeatedly
  • Blow Off Steam: To express anger and frustration in a way that does no damage
  • Blow One’s Stack: To lose one’s temper and explode in anger
  • Blow One’s Top: Lose one’s temper
  • Blow Up: Explode
  • Blow Your Own Trumpet: Brag; emphasize one’s own contributions
  • Blow the Cobwebs Away (or Out of Something): Make space for fresh ideas, encourage something new
  • Blow the Whistle: Reporting an illegal or unacceptable activity to the authorities
  • Blue Blood (adj. blue-blooded): Person of aristocratic background
  • Blue Eyed Boy: A person who is a favorite of those in authority; someone whose mistakes are forgiven
  • Blue Light Special: 1. a temporary sale at a discount store. 2. a traffic stop by the police.
  • Bob’s Your Uncle: The rest is easy; you’re almost finished
  • Bolt From the Blue: Something completely unexpected
  • Bone Dry: Completely dry, totally without moisture
  • Born on The Wrong Side of the Blanket: Born to parents who were not married
  • Borrow Trouble: Take needless risks, invite problems
  • Bottom of the Barrel: Low-quality choices
  • Boy Toy: A young man who is the lover of an older, often wealthier woman (see toyboy)
  • Boys will be Boys: A phrase of resignation used when boys get into trouble or are stereotypically reckless or rowdy
  • Brainstorm: To generate many ideas quickly
  • Break Out in A Cold Sweat: To perspire from fever or anxiety
  • Break The Ice: To get something started, particularly by means of a social introduction or conversation
  • Break a Leg: Good luck! This is used for a stage performer-or for anyone else who is about to give some kind of a performance, such as an important speech
  • Break the Bank: Exhaust one’s financial resources
  • Break up/ Split up (With Somebody): End the relationship
  • Bring Home the Bacon: Earn money for one’s family
  • Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight: Underequipped or unprepared
  • Brush Under the Carpet: Attempt to temporarily conceal a problem or error
  • Bucket List: Things you want to see or do before you die
  • Bull in a China Shop: A clumsy or tactless person
  • Bump in the Road: A temporary problem, a small setback
  • Bundle Up: Put on lots of warm clothing
  • Burn One’s Bridges: Leave a job or a relationship on such bad terms that one does not stay in contact
  • Burn the Candle at Both Ends: Work very long hours
  • Burn the Midnight Oil: To work late into the night
  • Bury (Hide) One’s Head In the Sand: Ignoring something that’s obviously wrong, not facing reality
  • Bury the Hatchet: Make peace, agree to end a dispute
  • Business as Usual: A normal situation (whether related to business or not), typically restored after some change
  • Busman’s Holiday: A vacation where you do the same thing you do at work, a working vacation
  • Busted Flush: A failure, someone or something that seemed promising but did not develop well
  • Butter Wouldn’t Melt in (Someone’s): Mouth This person is cool in manner, prim and proper
  • Buy Time: Cause a delay in something with the aim of improving one’s position
  • Buy a Pig in a Poke: To buy something with no prior inspection
  • By All Means: Of course, certainly
  • By Hook or by Crook: By some possibly dishonest means
  • By Word of Mouth: Via personal communications rather than written media
  • By a Whisker: By a very short distance
  • By the Skin of One’s Teeth: Barely escaping disaster

Idioms (C)

List of idioms that start with C.

  • Call It a Day: Decide that one has worked enough on something for the day
  • Call It a Night: End an evening’s activities and go home
  • Call the Shots: Make the important decisions in an organization
  • Call the Tune: Making important decisions and controlling a situation.
  • Can’t See the Forest for the Trees: Is unable to maintain a wider perspective
  • Can’t Swing A Dead Cat In (Place): Without Hitting A (Thing) There are many examples of [thing] in this [place].
  • Carrot-and-Stick (Approach): A tactic in which rewards are offered, but there is also the threat of punishment
  • Carry a Torch (for): To continue to be in love with someone even after a relationship has ended
  • Carry Coals To Newcastle: Supply something that is unneeded; engage in useless labor
  • Carry the Can: To take the blame for something one did not do
  • Cash In One’s Chips: 1. To take advantage of a quick profit 2. To die
  • Cash-Strapped: In need of money
  • Cast the First Stone: To be the first to criticize or attack someone
  • Castle in the Air: An impractical plan
  • Cat Fight: A fight between two women
  • Cat Got Your Tongue?: Don’t you have anything to say?
  • Cat on a hot tin roof: Be extremely nervous
  • Cat-and-Mouse (adj.): In a toying way; playful in an unpleasant way
  • Cat’s Paw: A person being used by someone else, a tool
  • Catch One’s Death of Cold: To become very ill (with a cold/flu etc.)
  • Catch Some Rays: To sit or lie outside in the sun
  • Catch Someone’s Eye: Attract someone’s attention
  • Catch-22: A difficult situation from which there is no escape because options for avoiding it involve contradictions
  • Caught Red-Handed: Apprehended while committing a crime
  • Champagne taste on a beer budget: Expensive or extravagant tastes or preferences that are beyond one’s economic means.
  • Change Horses in Midstream: Change plans or leaders in the middle of a process
  • Change of Heart: A change in one’s opinion or outlook
  • Change One’s Tune: To alter one’s opinion about something.
  • Changing of the Guard: A change in leadership at an organization
  • Chase Rainbows: To pursue unrealistic goals
  • Cheap Shot: An unfair attack; a statement that unfairly attacks someone’s weakness
  • Cherry-Pick: To present evidence selectively to one’s own advantage
  • Chew the Fat: Chat for a considerable length of time
  • Chickens Come Home To Roost: The negative consequences of previous actions reveal themselves
  • Child’s Play: A very easy task
  • Chill Out: Do something that helps them to calm down and relax for a while.
  • Chin Music: Meaningless talk
  • Chin Up/ Keep Your Chin Up: Cheer up; try to be cheerful and strong
  • Chip off the Old Block: Someone who resembles a direct ancestor, usually the father
  • Chomp at the Bit: To be eager to do something
  • Chop Chop: Quickly, without delay
  • Chop Shop: A shop where stolen cars are disassembled for parts
  • Chuck a Wobbly: To act in an emotional way
  • Circle the Wagons: To prepare as a group to defend against attack, adopt a defensive posture
  • Claim to Fame: Unusual feature or offering
  • Clean Up Nicely: Look good when one is dressed up. Usually said of women
  • Clear the Air: Defuse tension, be honest about conflict so as to reduce it
  • Clip Someone’s Wings: Reduce someone’s privileges or freedom
  • Close, But No Cigar: You are very close but not quite correct.
  • Cock and Bull Story: A far-fetched story, probably untrue
  • Cock-A-Hoop: Elated, excited
  • Cold Day in Hell: A condition for something that would be extremely unlikely to occur
  • Come By Something Honestly: Acquire something honestly, or inherit it
  • Come Clean: To confess; to admit to wrongdoing
  • Come Hell or High Water: No matter what happens
  • Come Out in the Wash: To be resolved with no lasting negative effect
  • Come Out of the Closet: Reveal a secret about oneself, usually that one is gay (homosexual)
  • Come Out Swinging: Respond to something very aggressively
  • Come Rain and Shine: Do regularly, whatever the circumstances
  • Come to Grips With: To acknowledge a problem as a prelude to dealing with it
  • Come to Terms With (Something): Feel acceptance toward something bad that has happened
  • Coming Down the Pike: Likely to occur in the near future
  • Cook Someone’s Goose: To insure someone’s defeat, to frustrate someone’s plans
  • Cook Up a Storm: Cook a great deal of food
  • Cool as A Cucumber: Calm and composed even in difficult or frustrating situations; self-possessed
  • Cool Cat: Someone who has the respect of their peers in a young, casual way.
  • Cool Your Heels: Wait
  • Couch Potato: A lazy person who watches a great deal of television
  • Crash a Party: To attend a party without being invited
  • Crickets: Silence
  • Cross to Bear: A problem one must deal with over a long time, a heavy burden
  • Crunch the Numbers: Do calculations before making a decision or prediction
  • Crunch Time: A period of high pressure when one has to work hard to finish something
  • Cry Over Spilt (USA: Spilled): Milk To waste energy moaning about something that has already happened
  • Cry Wolf (verb): To issue a false alarm, to ask for help when none is needed
  • Cry Your Eyes Out: Cry hard for a very long time
  • Curiosity Killed The Cat: Stop asking questions, don’t be too curious
  • Cut (Someone) To the Quick: To deeply hurt someone emotionally
  • Cut Corners: Economize by reducing quality; take shortcuts
  • Cut It Fine: To do something at the last moment
  • Cut Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face: To act in a proud way that ultimately damages your own cause
  • Cut Someone Some Slack: Avoid treating someone strictly or severely
  • Cut the Gordian Knot: To solve a complex problem in a simple way
  • Cut the Mustard: Do something adequately
  • Cut to the Chase: Get to the point; explain the most important part of something quickly; skip the preliminaries
  • Cut Your Teeth on Something: To learn basic skills in a field
  • Cutting-Edge: Very novel, innovative

Idioms (D)

List of idioms that start with D.

  • Dance to Someone’s Tune: Consistently follow someone’s directions or influence
  • Dance with the Devil: Knowingly do something immoral
  • Dark Horse: A surprise candidate or competitor, especially one who comes from behind to make a strong showing
  • Darken Someone’s Door (Step): Make an unwanted visit to someone’s home
  • Dead Ahead: Directly ahead, either in a literal or a figurative sense
  • Dead as the Dodo: Completely extinct; totally gone
  • Dead Eye: A good shooter, a good marksman
  • Dead Heat: An exact tie in a race or competition
  • Dead of Winter: The coldest, darkest part of winter
  • Dead ringer: Very similar in appearance
  • Dead Run: Running as fast as possible
  • Dead Shot: A good shooter, a good marksman
  • Deep Pockets: The new owner has deep pockets, so fans are hoping the football team will improve next year with new players
  • Deliver the Goods: Provide what is expected
  • Devil’s Advocate: Someone who argues a point not out of conviction, but in order to air various points of view
  • Dirty Look: A facial manner that signifies disapproval
  • Do 12-Ounce Curls: Drink beer
  • Dodge a Bullet: To narrowly escape disaster
  • Doesn’t Amount to a Hill of Beans: Is unimportant, is negligible
  • Dog Days of the Summer: The hottest day of summer
  • Dog in the Manger: A person who prevents others from using something, even though the person himself or herself does not want it
  • Dog-and-Pony Show: A flashy presentation, often in a marketing context
  • Dog-Eat-Dog: Intensely competitive
  • Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk: Don’t worry about minor things.
  • Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover: Don’t be deceived by looks; don’t rely on looks when judging someone or something
  • Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth: Do not question the value of a gift. The expression comes from the practice of determining the age and health of a horse by looking at its teeth.
  • Double-Dip: Improperly get income from two different sources
  • Double-Edged Sword: Something that can be helpful or harmful; something beneficial that also has a downside
  • Down in the Dumps: Depressed, sad
  • Down the Road: In the future (in your lifetime)
  • Drag One’s Feet (or Heels): To do something reluctantly and slowly
  • Drain the Lizard: Urinate
  • Draw a Blank: Be unable to remember something
  • Draw a Line in the Sand: Issue an ultimatum; specify an absolute limit in a conflict
  • Draw a Line Under (Something): To conclude something and move on to something else
  • Draw a Long Bow: Exaggerate, lie
  • Draw the Line: To set a limit to what one will accept
  • Dressed Up to the Nines: Someone is wearing very smart or glamorous clothes
  • Drink the Kool-Aid: Accept a set of ideas uncritically, often dangerous ones
  • Drive a Hard Bargain: To negotiate effectively
  • Drive a Wedge Between: Try to split factions of a united group by introducing an issue on which they disagree
  • Drive Someone Up the Wall: Deeply irritate someone
  • Drop a Line: To write a letter or send an email
  • Drop the Ball: Fail to fulfill one’s responsibilities; make a mistake
  • Dry Run: A practice execution of a procedure
  • Dutch Courage: Alcohol drunk with the intention of working up the nerve to do something
  • Dutch Uncle: A highly critical person
  • Dyed-In-The-Wool (adj.): Consistent in an affiliation or opinion over a long period; inveterate

Idioms (E)

List of idioms that start with E.

  • Eagle-Eyed: Having sharp vision
  • Early Bird [noun or adjective]: Someone who does something prior to the usual time, or someone who gets up early.
  • Eat Crow: To admit one was wrong, and accept humiliation
  • Eat Humble Pie: To admit defeat or error, to accept humiliation
  • Eat Someone’s Lunch: Defeat someone thoroughly
  • Eat Your Heart Out!: (excl.) Go ahead, be jealous.
  • Eighty-Six (v.): 1) Discard, eliminate. 2) Throw someone out of a bar or store.
  • Elephant in the Room: A major problem that no one is talking about
  • Elevator Music: Pleasant but boring recorded music that is played in public places.
  • Elevator Pitch: A brief presentation of an idea, one short enough to be delivered in an elevator
  • Eleventh Hour: The last minute
  • Even Steven: Owing nothing; tied (in a game)
  • Every Dog Has His (Its): Day Everyone has a moment of fame, power, or influence
  • Every Man and His Dog: Many people
  • Every Man for Himself: Pursue your own interests; don’t expect help from others.
  • Excused Boots: Allowed to avoid mandatory tasks

Idioms (F)

List of idioms that start with F.

  • Face the Music: Dealing with consequences of one’s actions
  • Fall for Something: Hook, Line, and Sinker To be completely deceived
  • Fall in Love with Somebody: Start feeling love towards somebody
  • Fall Off the Wagon: To begin using alcohol (or another problem substance) after quitting
  • Fall on One’s Sword: To accept blame; to sacrifice oneself
  • Fall Prey to: Be victimized by; be harmed by; be vulnerable to
  • Fancy Someone (British English): To find someone very attractive
  • Farther (On) Down the Road: Later, at some unspecified time
  • Fashion-Forward: Tending to adopt new styles quickly
  • Fat Cat: A highly placed, well-paid executive
  • Father Figure: A mentor, a person who offers guidance
  • Feast Your Eyes On: To take great pleasure in looking at someone or something
  • Feather in One’s Cap: An achievement for which one is recognized; a noteworthy achievement
  • Feather One’s (Own) Nest: Use one’s influence or power improperly for financial gain
  • Fed Up With: Refusing to tolerate something any further; out of patience
  • Feel Like a Million Dollars: To feel great, to feel well and healthy.
  • Feel On Top of The World: To feel very healthy
  • Fell off a Truck: Probably stolen or illicitly obtained; said of something offered for sale to avoid discussing its origins
  • Fell off the Back of a Lorry: Probably stolen or illicitly obtained; said of something offered for sale to avoid discussing its origins
  • Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Temporary renown
  • Fifth Wheel: A superfluous person
  • Fight Fire with Fire: Use the same measures that are being used against you, even if they’re stronger than you would usually use
  • Fight Like Cat and Dog: Continually arguing with each other
  • Find One’s Voice: Become more confident in expressing oneself
  • Find Your Feet: To adjust to a new place or situation
  • Finger-Pointing: Blame; a situation within a group where each member attempts to blame others
  • Fire in the Belly: strong ambition
  • First In, Best Dressed: The first people to do something will have an advantage
  • Fish for Compliments: Try to manipulate people into praising you
  • Fish or Cut Bait (usually an exclamation): Make a decision or give someone else a chance
  • Fish Out of Water: A person who is in unfamiliar, confusing surroundings
  • Five-Finger Discount: Shoplifting
  • Flash in the Pan: A one-time occurrence, not a permanent phenomenon
  • Flat Broke: Having no money at all
  • Flat Out Like a Lizard: Drinking Very busy
  • Flesh and Blood: Blood relatives, close relatives
  • Flew the Coop: Left, escaped
  • Flip-Flop (v. or n.): To vacillate between two choices, to be indecisive
  • Fly by the Seat of One’s Pants: To improvise, to make decisions without planning or preparation
  • Fly High: Be very successful, especially temporarily
  • Fly Off The Handle: Lose one’s temper suddenly and unexpectedly
  • Follow In Someone’s Footsteps (Tracks): Follow the example laid down by someone else; supplant
  • Follow Your Heart: Rely on one’s deeper feelings and instincts when making a decision
  • Food for Thought: Something that makes you think carefully
  • For a Song: At very low cost
  • For Crying Out Loud (excl.): An expression of extreme annoyance
  • For Xyz Reasons: For multiple reasons, not worth specifying individually
  • Foul Play: Crime, typically murder
  • Fourth Estate: The media and newspapers
  • Fox in the Henhouse (Chickenhouse): Someone who causes trouble
  • Freak Out: A wildly irrational reaction or spell of behavior
  • French Leave: Absence without permission
  • Freudian Slip: Accidental use of an incorrect word; a revealing slip of the tongue
  • From Pillar to Post: From one place to another, in a forced, random way
  • From Scratch: From individual ingredients, not using a prepared mix
  • From Soup to Nuts: Everything; from beginning to end
  • From the Bottom of One’s Heart: Sincerely and with deep feeling
  • FUBAR: Hopelessly ruined, not working, messed up.
  • Fu** (Or Screw) The Dog (Pooch): To make an embarrassing error
  • Full Fathom Five: Lost deep in the sea
  • Full of the Joys of Spring: Very happy, enthusiastic, and full of energy

Idioms (G)

List of idioms that start with G.

  • Game of Chicken: A conflict situation in which neither side will back down for fear of seeming cowardly (chicken)
  • Get A Charley Horse: To develop a cramp in the arm or the leg
  • Get A Word In Edgewise: Be able to say something while someone else is talking a lot
  • Get Along (with Someone): To have a satisfactory relationship
  • Get Bent Out of Shape: Become angry, upset
  • Get Carried Away: Become overly enthusiastic
  • Get In on the Ground Floor: Invest in or join something while it is still small
  • Get in Shape: Undertake a program of physical conditioning; exercise regularly
  • Get Off Scot Free: Be accused of wrongdoing but pay no penalty at all
  • Get One’s Ducks in a Row: Have everything organized; get oneself organized
  • Get One’s Hands Dirty: To do the unpleasant parts of a job
  • Get Someone’s Goat: To irritate someone deeply
  • Get To Grips With: To begin to understand and deal with something
  • Get the Ball Rolling: Do something to begin a process
  • Get the Picture: Understand what’s happening
  • Get the Runaround: Be given an unclear or evasive answer to a question
  • Get the Sack, Be Sacked: To be fired
  • Get the Third Degree: To be questioned in great detail about something
  • Get Wind of: Hear about
  • Get With the Program: Figure out what everyone else already knows. Often used sarcastically, as a command
  • Go Along (With): Agree to something, often provisionally
  • Go Ape: Express wild excitement or anger
  • Go Ballistic: Fly into a rage
  • Go Bananas: To become irrational or crazy
  • Go Belly Up: To go bankrupt
  • Go Berserk: To go crazy
  • Go Bonkers: To be or become wild, restless, irrational, or crazy; to act in such a way
  • Go Cold Turkey: Stop using an addictive substance suddenly, without tapering off
  • Go Down in Flames: Fail in a spectacular way
  • Go Mental: To suddenly become extremely angry
  • Go Nuclear: Use an extreme measure; because extremely angry
  • Go Nuts: To become crazy
  • Go Off Half-Cocked: To say or something prematurely, with a negative effect
  • Go Off the Deep End: To unexpectedly become very angry, especially without a good reason
  • Go Off The Rails: To go wrong, to begin acting strangely or badly
  • Go Out on a Limb: Assert something that may not be true; put oneself in a vulnerable position
  • Go Pear-Shaped: To fail; to go wrong
  • Go See a Man About a Dog: Go to the bathroom (said as a euphemism)
  • Go to the Dogs: To become disordered, to decay
  • Go to the Mattresses: To go to into battle
  • Go the Extra Mile: Put forth greater-than-expected effort
  • Go Under the Knife: Undergo surgery
  • Go Viral: Begin To spread rapidly on the Internet
  • Go with the Flow: To accept the way things naturally seem to be going
  • Grab (Take) the Bull by the Horns: To begin forthrightly to deal with a problem
  • Grasp (Grab) at Straws: To take desperate actions with little hope of success
  • Grease Monkey: A mechanic, especially an auto mechanic
  • Grease the Wheels: Do something to make an operation run smoothly
  • Greasy Spoon: An inexpensive restaurant that fries foods on a grill
  • Green Around the Gills: To look sick
  • Green as Grass: Lacking training, naive; often said of young people in new jobs
  • Grind One’s Teeth: Be very annoyed or angry about something without being able to say anything about it.
  • Guilty Pleasure: Enjoying something which is not generally held in high regard, while at the same time feeling a bit guilty about it, is called a guilty pleasure.
  • Guinea Pig: A test subject, a person who is used as a test to see if something will work
  • Give and Take: Negotiations, the process of compromise
  • Give ’em Hell (often excl.): Express something passionately to a group
  • Give Lip Service to: Talk about supporting something without taking any concrete action
  • Give One’s Two Cents (That’s My Two Cents): Offer an opinion, suggest something
  • Give Someone a Holler: Contact someone
  • Give Someone a Piece of Your Mind: Angrily tell someone what you think
  • Give Someone a Run for Their Money: Compete effectively with the leader in a particular field
  • Give Someone an Earful: angrily express an opinion to someone
  • Give Someone the Cold Shoulder: act hostile toward someone; to ignore, snub
  • Give Someone The Old Heave-Ho: Fire someone, remove someone from a group or team
  • Give Something a Whirl: Attempt something without being totally familiar with it
  • Give the Green Light: Approve something; allow something to proceed

Idioms (H)

List of idioms that start with H.

  • Hail Mary (n. or adj.): A desperate, last-ditch attempt
  • Hair of the Dog (That Bit You): A small amount of the alcoholic beverage that caused your hangover
  • Hands are Tied: You are prevented from doing something. It is not within your power
  • Hands Down: Undoubtedly
  • Hang It Up: To retire, to end an activity one has pursued for a long time
  • Hang Tough: Maintain one’s resolve
  • Hanging by a Thread: In great danger of elimination or failure
  • Happy-Go-Lucky: If you are a happy-go-lucky person, you are cheerful and carefree all the time.
  • Hard Nut to Crack: A difficult problem or a difficult person
  • Has the Cat Got Your Tongue?: Why are you not saying anything?
  • Hat Trick: Scoring three goals in hockey or soccer (football), or accomplishing three of anything.
  • Hatchet Job: A strong attack on someone’s reputation; intentionally destructive criticism; calumny
  • Haul Over the Coals: To scold someone severely
  • Have (one’s) head in the clouds: Not know what is happening around you or out of touch with reality
  • Have A Ball: To have a very enjoyable time
  • Have a Bone to Pick (with Someone): To want to discuss something someone has done that has angered or annoyed you.
  • Have a Chip on One’s Shoulder: To harbor resentment; to have an angry attitude
  • Have a Dog in the Hunt (Fight, Race): To support a certain person in a competition
  • Have a Lead Foot: A tendency to drive very fast
  • Have a Lot on One’s Plate: Be busy, be in the middle of many ongoing tasks
  • Have a Lot Riding On (Something): Be depending on the successful outcome or development of something
  • Have a Nose for (Something): To have natural ability at something, a talent for finding something
  • Have a Screw Loose: Be slightly unbalanced or crazy
  • Have a Tough Row to Hoe: Be faced with a task that is difficult because of unfavorable conditions
  • Have A Whale of A Time: To enjoy yourself very much
  • Have an Ace Up One’s Sleeve: To have a hidden advantage
  • Have Bigger Fish to Fry: Have more important things to do
  • Have Egg on Your Face: They are made to look foolish or embarrassed
  • Have Foot-in-Mouth Disease: To embarrass oneself through a silly mistake
  • Have Hand of Aces/Hold All the Aces: To be in a very strong position in a competition
  • Have It Out with Someone: To have an argument with someone in order to settle a dispute
  • Have One Foot in The Grave: To be near death (usually because of old age or illness)
  • Have One Over the Eight: A person is slightly drunk.
  • Have One Too Many: Drink too much alcohol
  • Have One’s Cake and Eat It, Too: To want two incompatible things (usually used in the negative)
  • Have Skin in the Game: Be risking something in an undertaking
  • Have Something in the Bag: Be certain to win
  • Have the Hots for (Somebody): To be (sexually) attracted to somebody
  • Have the Time of Your Life: To have a very fun, exciting, or enjoyable time
  • Have Your Nose in the Air: Have a snobbish or disdainful attitude
  • Have Your Say: Express your opinion on something
  • Have Your Thumb Up Your Ass: Have nothing to do
  • He Who Laughs Last Laughs Best: Being victorious is often a matter of simply surviving a conflict
  • He Would Put Legs Under A Chicken: He will talk your head off; he is very talkative
  • Head (Go) South: Decline, get worse
  • Head and Shoulders Above: Far superior to
  • Head Start: An advantage over everyone else
  • Heads Up (excl.): Get ready! Be prepared
  • Heads Will Roll (Are Going to Roll): People will be fired
  • Hear (Something) Through the Grapevine: To learn something via gossip
  • Heart and Soul: With all one’s energy or affection
  • Heavens Open: Start to rain heavily
  • Heavy Hitter: A powerful, influential person
  • Helicopter Parenting: Overattentive child-raising
  • Hell for Leather: Very fast, as fast as possible
  • High as a Kite: Strongly under the influence of drugs or intoxcants
  • Hightail It (Out of There): Flee
  • Highways and Byways: You take large and small roads to visit every part of the country.
  • Hit a Wall: suddenly stop making forward progress
  • Hit It Out of the Park: Succeed brilliantly
  • Hit the Books: To study (generally said of students
  • Hit the Ground Running: To begin a job or project with no learning or training period needed
  • Hit the Hay: To go to bed
  • Hit the Jackpot: Do something that brings great success
  • Hit the Nail on the Head: To be absolutely correct (said of an utterance)
  • Hit the Road: To leave
  • Hit the Roof: Explode in rage; become extremely angry
  • Hit the Sack: To go to bed
  • Hit the Spot: Be very satisfying (said of something eaten)
  • Hive Mind: The knowledge of humans as a group
  • Hobson’s Choice: A choice among bad options
  • Hold One’s Liquor: Be able to drink a large amount without being affected
  • Hold One’s Peace: Be silent
  • Hold the Phone: Wait a moment (whether you’re on the phone or not)
  • Hold Your Horses (generally excl.): Stop; restrain yourself; don’t be so excited
  • Home Away from Home: A habitual hangout; a place one frequents often and where one feels welcome
  • Home Truths: Honest, often painful criticism
  • Honor System: A system of payments that relies on the honesty of those paying
  • Hot Mess: Something or someone in a state of extreme disorder
  • Hot on the Heels (of): In close pursuit
  • Hot Potato: A controversial subject or difficult project that is best avoided

Idioms (I)

List of idioms that start with I.

  • I Wouldn’t Put It Past (Someone): I think it’s quite possible that [this person] would do this.
  • If It Had Been a Snake, It Would Have Bitten Me: It was very obvious, but I missed it.
  • If the Shoe Fits, Wear It: If this description of you is accurate, accept it.
  • I’m All Ears: You have my attention, so you should talk
  • In a Fog: Confused, not mentally alert
  • In a Heartbeat: Immediately. This is especially used in hypothetical situations
  • In a Jam: In need of help, in a difficult spot
  • In a New York Minute: Very quickly
  • In a Nutshell: Expressed in a few words
  • In a Pickle: In need of help, in a difficult spot
  • In a Rut: Confined by routine, bored and seeking new experiences
  • In Broad Daylight: When something occurs in broad daylight, it means the event is clearly visible
  • In Clover: Benefiting from a positive financial situation
  • In For a Penny, In for a Pound: Committed to something even though the risks are increasing
  • In Full Swing: When something, such as an event, gets into full swing, it is at its busiest or liveliest time.
  • In His Cups: Drunk
  • In Hot Water: In need of help; in trouble
  • In One Fell Swoop: All at once, in a single action
  • In One’s Element: In a situation which is entirely suitable, familiar, or enjoyable.
  • In Someone’s Wheelhouse: In someone’s strongest area of competence or enthusiasm
  • In Touch: In contact
  • In the Blink of an Eye: Quickly, seemingly instantaneously
  • In the Cards: Likely; likely to occur
  • In the Crosshairs (Cross Hairs): Targeted for blame or criticism
  • In the Dark: Not informed
  • In the Driver’s Seat: In a dominant position, in control
  • In the Hot Seat: Undergoing criticism or scrutiny; under pressure publicly
  • In the Interim: It denotes a period of time between something that ended and something that happened afterwards
  • In the Limelight, In the Spotlight: Receiving large amounts of publicity or attention
  • In the Long Run: Over an extended period of time
  • In the Nick of Time: Just in time; with no time to spare
  • In the Pipeline: Being prepared for the marketplace, being worked on
  • In the Red: Losing money; (of a market index) below a specified starting point
  • In the Same Boat: In a similar situation; similarly vulnerable
  • In the Toilet: In disastrous condition
  • In the Works: Under development; coming soon
  • Iron Out (Problems, Difficulties): To resolve
  • Is the Pope Catholic?: Isn’t the answer obvious?
  • It Never Rains but It Pours: Bad luck and bad things tend to happen at the same time
  • It Takes Two to Tango: When something goes wrong involving two people, it’s likely that they share the blame; cooperation is necessary
  • It Won’t Fly: It won’t work; it won’t be approved.
  • Itchy Feet: A person who has itchy feet is someone who finds it difficult to stay in one place and likes to travel and discover new places.
  • It’s a Wash: A positive and a negative development cancel each other out, so the situation has neither improved nor gotten worse
  • It’s All Greek to Me: It is unintelligible, impossible to understand
  • It’s No Skin off My (Your) Nose (Back): The outcome will not affect me personally
  • It’s Not Over Till the Fat Lady Sings: Do not give up too soon; things may improve.
  • It’s Not Rocket Science: It’s not difficult to understand.
  • I’ve Had It Up to Here: My patience is almost exhausted.ơ

Idioms (J)

List of idioms that start with J.

  • Jam Session:Playing improvised music in an informal setting
  • Jim Crow: The system of racial segregation in the American South prior to the American civil rights movement.
  • Join the Club (excl.): I feel sympathy for you because I have experienced something similar.
  • Jump in with Both Feet: Begin a new experience wholeheartedly
  • Jump on the Bandwagon: To follow a trend or craze
  • Jump the Gun: Start doing something too soon
  • Jump the Shark: To pass peak quality and begin to decline. Often used to describe television programs or movie series.
  • Jump the Track: To shift suddenly from one activity or line of thought to another
  • Jump Through Hoops: Complete a series of tasks in order to satisfy someone
  • Just Around the Corner: Occurring soon
  • Just for the Record: I would like to make it clear that …
  • Just What the Doctor Ordered: Exactly the thing that is or was needed to help improve something or make one feel better

Idioms (K)

List of idioms that start with K.

  • Keep (Something) at Bay: Maintain a distance from something or someone
  • Keep a Stiff Upper Lip: Control one’s emotions; not give in to fear or grief
  • Keep an Eye On: To keep an eye on something or someone is to watch it periodically, to keep it under surveillance.
  • Keep an Eye Peeled: Be observant; watch out for something
  • Keep It Under Your Hat: Don’t tell anyone; don’t reveal this secret
  • Keep Someone at Arm’s Length: Avoid close interaction or cooperation
  • Keep Your Nose Clean: Avoid trouble or situations that compromise one’e honesty
  • Keep Your Powder Dry: Do not attack until you are ready.
  • Keeping One’s Nose to the Grindstone: Working hard on something repetitive or tedious
  • Kick Ass, Kick Butt: 1) Defeat badly; 2) be excellent or highly effective (only kick ass would be used for 2)
  • Kick the Bucket: To die
  • Kick the Can Down the Road: Postpone an important decision
  • Kill a Fly With an Elephant Gun: Approach a problem with excessive measures
  • Kill the Goose That Laid the Golden Egg: To destroy a source of ongoing profits or benefits
  • Kill Two Birds with One Stone: Act in such a way as to produce two desirable effects
  • King of the Hill: At the top of one’s field; the most influential person in a given field or area
  • Kink in One’s Neck: A cramp in one’s neck that causes pain
  • Kiss and Make Up: Make peace after an argument
  • Kith and Kin: Family (collectively)
  • Knock on Wood; Touch Wood: Let’s hope I have good luck or continue to have good luck.
  • Knock Some Sense Into: To beat someone in order to teach him/her a lesson. May be used figuratively.
  • Knock Someone’s Socks Off: Amaze someone
  • Knock Up: To impregnate a woman. Often used in the form knocked up.
  • Knockout: An extremely beautiful woman
  • Know (Something) Like the Back of One’s Hand: To be very familiar with something, especially an area

Idioms (L)

List of idioms that start with L.

  • Larger Than Life: Conveying a sense of greatness, imposing
  • Last But Not Least: What I have just said does not reflect a ranking in importance.
  • Laughter is the Best Medicine: Laughing a lot is a very effective means of recovering from physical or mental injury
  • Learn the Ropes: Become more familiar with a job or field of endeavor; be trained
  • Leave Someone in the Lurch: Abandon someone in a difficult situation
  • Lend an Ear: Listen
  • Let Bygones Be Bygones: Agree to forget about a past conflict
  • Let Off Steam: To express anger and frustration in a way that does no damage
  • Let One’s Hair Down: To relax and enjoy themselves.
  • Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: To avoid stirring up a problem; to leave things alone
  • Let the Cat Out of the Bag: Reveal a secret, usually a secret you or others are trying to keep
  • Let the Genie Out of the Bottle: Reveal something hitherto suppressed
  • Letter of the Law: The explicit meaning of a law, as opposed to the spirit of the law, the law’s general intention
  • Lick One’s Wounds: Rest after a bad defeat
  • Life is A Bowl of Cherries: Life is wonderful or very pleasant
  • Light a Fire Under Someone: Inspire someone to work very hard
  • Light at the End of the Tunnel: A sign of hope after a long period of difficulties
  • Like a Kid in a Candy Store: To be so excited about one’s surroundings that one acts in a childlike or silly way
  • Like a Moth to a Flame: Drawn to something or someone despite the dangers
  • Like Father, Like Son: Sons inherit their fathers’ traits and preferences, often even without realizing it.
  • Like Shooting: Fish in a Barrel Very easy
  • Like Taking Candy from a Baby: Very easy
  • Like The Cat That Got The Cream: Looking particularly self-satisfied, often to the annoyance of others
  • Like Two Peas in a Pod: Bearing a strong resemblance
  • Lion’s Den: Any dangerous or frightening place.
  • Lion’s Share: The largest part of something
  • Live Large: Have a luxurious lifestyle
  • Living in Cloud Cuckooland: Having unrealistic or foolish beliefs or plans.
  • Living on Borrowed Time: Following an illness or near-death experience, may people believe they have cheated death
  • Living Under a Rock: Ignorant of important events. Usually used as a question: Have you been living under a rock?
  • Loaded for Bear: Prepared for problems, well prepared for a challenge
  • Loan Shark: A predatory lender; one who makes high-interest loans to desperate people
  • Lock Horns: To lock horns is to argue, to come into conflict.
  • Long Shot: Something with little chance of success
  • Look the Other Way: Take no notice of violations of laws or rules, unofficially condone something
  • Look What the Cat Dragged In: Someone unwelcome has arrived.
  • Loose Cannon: Someone out of control; someone who speaks or acts recklessly
  • Lose It: To suddenly become unable to behave or think in a sensible way
  • Lose One’s Touch: Suffer a decline in one’s skill at doing something
  • Lose the Thread: Be unable to follow someone’s reasoning
  • Love at First Sight: Falling in love with somebody the first time you see them
  • Love Rat: Somebody who cheats on his/her partner
  • Love Someone With All of One’s Heart And Soul: To love someone completely
  • Low-Hanging Fruit: Easy parts of a task; solutions easy to obtain
  • Lower the Boom: Implement a punishment; reprimand severely

Idioms (M)

List of idioms that start with M.

  • Mad As A Box Of (Soapy) Frogs: extremely mentally unstable; psychotic; detached from reality.
  • Mad as A Hatter: Mentally ill, psychotic
  • Main Squeeze: Committed romantic partner
  • Make a Break for It: Try to escape, run off
  • Make a Mountain out of a Molehill: To take something too seriously; to make too much of something
  • Make a Silk Purse out of a Sow’s Ear: Turn something ordinary or inferior into something refined and beautiful
  • Make Ends Meet: Have enough money to cover basic expenses
  • Make Hay (While the Sun Shines): To take advantage of an opportunity at the right time.
  • Make Love: To have sexual intercourse
  • Make Nice: Act cordial despite conflict
  • Make One’s Mark: Attain influence or recognition
  • Make Someone’s Day: Do something pleasing that puts someone in a good mood
  • Make Waves: Cause controversy, disturb a calm group dynamic
  • Man Cave: A part of the house, often the basement, that is left to the man of the household, perhaps with a workshop, a television for watching sports, etc.
  • March to the Beat of Your Own Drum: When someone does things the way they want to, without taking anybody else or anything else into consideration.
  • Match Made in Heaven: A relationship in which the two people are great together, because they complement each other so well
  • May-December Marriage: A marriage between a younger and an older partner, typically a young woman and an old man.
  • Me Time: Activities undertaken for one’s own enjoyment, free from responsibilities to others.
  • Meeting of the Minds: Strong instinctive agreement on something
  • Mend Fences: Improve relations after a dispute
  • Mind One’s P’s and Q’s: Be attentive to details; be on one’s best behavior
  • Miss the Boat: Be too late for something; miss an opportunity
  • Monday Morning Quarterback: Someone who offers criticisms or comments after already knowing the outcome of something
  • Month of Sundays: A long time, many months
  • More Fun Than A Barrel of Monkeys: A very good time; a pleasant occasion
  • Mother Nature: The natural world
  • Move Heaven and Earth: Take all possible steps in trying to accomplish something
  • Move the Needle: Have a measurable effect on something
  • Move Up in the World: Become more successful
  • Movers and Shakers: Influential people, especially in a particular field
  • Much Of A Muchness: Essentially equal, not significantly different (said of a choice)
  • Mum’s the Word: This is a secret; don’t talk about this. Often used as an answer to a request not to talk about something.
  • Music to My Ears: Good to hear; welcome news
  • Mutton Dressed Up as Lamb: A woman who dresses in a style appropriate to someone of a younger age
  • My Dogs Are Barking: My feet hurt.
  • My Old Man, My Old Lady: My spouse
  • My Way or the Highway: If you do not do things the way I want or require, then you can just leave or not participate.

Idioms (N)

List of idioms that start with N.

  • Nail-Biter: A suspenseful event
  • Nailing Jelly/Jello/Pudding To A Wall/Tree: An impossible task
  • Neck and Neck: Very close in a competition, with neither of two entities clearly in the lead
  • Neck of the Woods: A region, especially one’s home region
  • Nest Egg: Retirement savings; wealth saved for a future purpose
  • Never in A Million Years: Absolutely never
  • Never Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth: It’s rude to examine a gift closely; accept gifts politely.
  • New Wrinkle: A novel aspect to a situation, a new development
  • Nice Chunk of Change: A large amount of money
  • Nickel and Dime: To negotiate over very small sums; to try to get a better financial deal, in a negative way
  • Nine Times Out of Ten: Almost always
  • Nine-to-Five Job: A routine job in an office that involves standard office hours
  • Nip (Something) In The Bud: Deal with a problem before it becomes large
  • No Holds Barred (usually adj., often hyphenated): Unrestricted, without rules
  • No Love Lost Between: There is a mutual animosity between two people
  • No Names, No Pack Drill: If no one can be identified, no one will be punished.
  • No Rhyme or Reason (to): Without logic or pattern
  • No Room to Swing A Cat: Very small, not big enough
  • No Shit, Sherlock: That’s very obvious!
  • No Tree Grows to the Sky: Growth cannot continue indefinitely.
  • Not Cut Out for (Something): Not naturally skillful enough to do something well
  • Not Enough Room to Swing a Cat: A very small space
  • Not Give A Fig: To not care at all about something
  • Not Have A Cat In Hell’s Chance: Have no possibility of succeeding, coming to pass, or achieving something
  • Not Have a Prayer: Have no chance of success
  • Not Know Jack: Not know anything
  • Not Lift a Finger: Do nothing to help
  • Not Mince Words: Moderate or weaken a statement
  • Not One’s Cup of Tea: Not something one is interested in
  • Not Playing with A Full Deck: Stupid, mentally deficient or impaired
  • Not Ready for Prime Time: Not yet perfected; inexperienced
  • Not Sit Well with (Someone): Be difficult to accept; make someone uncomfortable
  • Nothing to Write Home About: Unspectacular, ordinary
  • Nuts and Bolts: Everyday details of something
  • Nutty as a Fruitcake: Crazy; idiotic; wacky.

Idioms (P)

List of idioms that start with P.

  • Pack Heat: Carry a gun
  • Paddle One’s Own Canoe: To be able to act independently.
  • Page-Turner: A page-turner is an exciting book that’s easy to read, a book that’s difficult to put down.
  • Pain in the Ass: Pain in the Butt;
  • Pain in the Neck: Someone or something making your life difficult
  • Paint the Town Red: Go out drinking and partying
  • Par for the Course: What would normally be expected. This has a negative connotation.
  • Pass the Buck: Transfer a problem to someone else
  • Pass With Flying Colors: To succeed brilliantly, as on an exam or other test
  • Passing Fancy: A temporary interest or attraction
  • Pay Through the Nose (For Something): Pay a large amount of money
  • Peaches and Cream: A situation, process, etc., that has no trouble or problems
  • Pecking Order: Hierarchy, rank of importance
  • Pencil Something In: Make tentative arrangements
  • Penny-Pinching: Frugal, avoiding expenses whenever possible
  • Pep Talk: An encouraging speech given to a person or group
  • Perfect Storm: A rare combination of disastrous occurrences
  • Pet Peeve: A small thing that you find particularly annoying
  • Pick a Fight: Intentionally provoke a conflict or fight with someone
  • Pick Up the Slack: Do something that someone else is not doing; assume someone else’s responsibilities
  • Pick Up the Tab: To pay a bill presented to a group, especially in a restaurant or bar
  • Pie in the Sky: Something that is unrealistic or that cannot be achieved
  • Piece of Cake: Very easily done
  • Pin Someone Down: Demand a decision or clear answer
  • Pinch Pennies: To be careful with money, to be thrify
  • Pink Slip: A layoff notice; loss of a job, typically because of layoffs
  • Pipe Dream: An unrealistic hope, a fantasy
  • Piping Hot: Very hot (generally said of food)
  • Pipped to the Post: Defeated by a narrow margin
  • Pissing Contest: A meaningless argument or competition, typically between males
  • Play Ball: Cooperate, agree to participate
  • Play Cat And Mouse: Trying to trick someone into making a mistake so you can defeat them.
  • Play Hardball: Adopt a tough negotiating position; act aggressively
  • Play It by Ear: To respond to circumstances instead of having a fixed plan
  • Play the Percentages: Bet on or rely on what is most likely to happen
  • Play the Ponies: Bet on horse racing.
  • Play With Fire: Do something very risky
  • Play Your Cards Right: Exploit a situation to your best advantage
  • Point of No Return: A place from which it is impossible to go back to the starting point
  • Point the Finger At: Blame (someone)
  • Poison Pill: A provision or feature added to a measure or an entity to make it less attractive, an undesirable add-on
  • Pop One’s Clogs: To die
  • Pop One’s Cork: To release one’s anger; to blow one’s top
  • Pop the Question: Propose marriage
  • Pot Calling the Kettle Black: Accusing someone of something of which you are also guilty; being hypocritical
  • Pour (Rub) Salt into (on) the Wound (an open wound): Worsen an insult or injury; make a bad situation worse for someone
  • Powder Keg: An explosive situation, a situation in which people are angry and ready to be violent
  • Powder One’s Nose: To use the restroom (lavatory). This is used by women
  • Preach to the Choir, Preach to the Converted: To make an argument with which your listeners already agree
  • Preaching to the Choir: Making arguments to those who already agree with you
  • Pretty Penny: A lot of money; too much money (when referring to the cost of something)
  • Price Yourself Out of the Market: Try to sell goods or services at such a high price that nobody buys them.
  • Puddle Jumper: A small airplane, used on short trips
  • Pull Out All the Stops: Do everything possible to accomplish something
  • Pull Strings: Use influence that’s based on personal connections
  • Pull the Plug On: Terminate (something)
  • Pull Yourself Together: Control your emotions; recover from a strong emptional upset
  • Puppies And Rainbows: Perfect, ideal (usually used slightly sarcastically, in contrast with a less ideal situation)
  • Puppy Dog Eyes: A begging look
  • Puppy Love: Adolescent love or infatuation, especially one that is not expected to last
  • Pure as the Driven Snow: To be innocent and chaste (frequently used ironically)
  • Push the Envelope: Go beyond common ways of doing something, be innovative
  • Pushing Up Daisies: Dead and buried
  • Put a Thumb on the Scale: Try to influence a discussion in an unfair way, cheat
  • Put Down Roots: Establish oneself in a place; settle
  • Put in One’s Two Cents: Say your opinion
  • Put Lipstick on a Pig: Make cosmetic changes to something bad
  • Put one’s Face On: Apply cosmetics
  • Put Out Feelers: Make discreet, informal suggestions, ask around
  • Put Someone on the Spot: Force someone to answer a question or make a decision immediately
  • Put That in Your Pipe and Smoke It: Accept and consider what I’m saying, even if you don’t like it!
  • Put the Best Face On (Something): Emphasize the positive aspects of a bad situation
  • Put the Brakes On: Slow something down
  • Put the Cart Before the Horse: To do things out of the proper order.
  • Put the Cat Among The Pigeons: Say or do something that causes trouble or controversy
  • Put the Genie Back in the Bottle: Try to suppress something that has already been revealed or done
  • Put the Pedal to the Metal: Drive as fast as possible
  • Put Up with (Something): Tolerate, accept
  • Put Words Into Someone’s Mouth: Attributing an opinion to someone who has never stated that opinion
  • Put Your Foot Down: Use your authority to stop negative behavior
  • Put Your Foot In Your Mouth: Say something that you immediately regret
  • Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: Back up your opinions with a financial commitment

Idioms (Q)

List of idioms that start with Q.

  • Quake In One’s Boots: To be very frightened
  • Quarter Past: Fifteen minutes after the hour
  • Quarter To/Of: Fifteen minutes before the hour
  • Queer the Pitch: Interfere with someone’s plans; make something more difficult
  • Quick as a Flash: Very fast
  • Quick-and-Dirty: Approximate, hastily done
  • Quote Unquote: Ironically speaking; suggesting that if a phrase were written out, it would be in quotation marks to convey sarcasm

Idioms (R)

List of idioms that start with R.

  • Race Against Time: To rush to meet a deadline, to be forced to do something very quickly
  • Rain Cats And Dogs: Rain heavily
  • Rain on Someone’s Parade: Spoil someone’s plans
  • Raise (Someone’s) Hackles: Make someone angry and defensive
  • Raise One’s Voice: Talk loudly
  • Raise Red Flags: Warn of trouble ahead
  • Raise the Bar: Increase standards in a certain competition or area of endeavor
  • Raise the Roof: Make a great deal of noise (said of a crowd)
  • Rake (Someone) Over the Coals: To scold someone severely
  • Rake Over the Ashes: Restart a settled argument; examine a failure
  • Rank and File: The ordinary members of an organization
  • Read Between the Lines: Perceive what is not explicitly stated
  • Read the Tea Leaves: Predict the future from small signs
  • Rear Its Ugly Head (said of a problem or something unpleasant): Appear, be revealed
  • Rearrange the Deck Chairs on the Titanic: Taking superficial actions while ignoring a much larger and perhaps fatal problem
  • Red Flag: A warning; a sign of trouble ahead
  • Red Herring: A misleading clue; something intended to mislead
  • Red Meat: Political appeals designed to excite one’s core supporters; demagoguery
  • Red Tape: Bureaucracy; difficult bureaucratic or governmental requirements
  • Red-Light District: A neighborhood with many houses of prostitution
  • Reinvent the Wheel: Devise a solution to a problem for which a solution already exists
  • Riding High: Enjoying success
  • Right as Rain: Absolutely correct
  • Right Under (One’s) Nose: In an obvious location, yet overlooked
  • Right-Hand Man: Chief assistant
  • Ring a Bell: Sound familiar
  • Rob Peter to Pay Paul: Pay off a debt with another loan; solve a problem in such a way that it leads to a new problem
  • Rob the Cradle: To be sexually or romantically involved with someone who is very young
  • Rock Bottom: An absolute low point
  • Rock the Boat: Cause a disruption in a group. Often used in the negative: don’t rock the boat.
  • Roll the Dice On: Take a risk Roll With the Punches: Deal with problems by being flexible
  • Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day: Complex projects take time
  • Rookie Mistake: An error made by an inexperienced person
  • Rotten to the Core: Entirely evil
  • Rub (Something) in Someone’s Face: Humiliate someone by repeating and criticizing his or her mistake
  • Rub It In: Say something that makes someone feel even worse about a mistake
  • Rub Someone’s Nose in (Something): Humiliate someone by repeating and criticizing his or her mistake
  • Rubber-Stamp (v.): Approve something without consideration, as a formality
  • Rule of Thumb: A general principle or guideline, not a specific formula
  • Run a Tight Ship: Manage an organization in a strict, well-regulated way
  • Run in the Family: Be inherited (as a trait) by multiple members of a family
  • Run into a Buzz: Saw Encounter severe and unexpected problems
  • Run off at the Mouth: Talk a lot about unimportant things, talk incoherently
  • Run on Fumes: To be in a situation where one’s energy or resources is almost exhausted
  • Run Out of Steam: Lose momentum, become tired
  • Run the Table: Win every game or contest

Idioms (S)

List of idioms that start with S.

  • Sacred Cow: An indvidual or organization that one cannot criticize
  • Saving Grace: Something that redeems a bad situation
  • Scare the Living Daylights Out of Someone: Frighten someone severely
  • Scorched Earth (Tactics, Policy, etc.): Ruthless, extremely destructive
  • Screw The Pooch: To make a serious error
  • School Of Hard Knocks: Difficult real-life experiences from which one has learned
  • Second Banana: A person in a subservient position
  • Second Stringer: A substitute player in a sport; a substitute for a job who is not the most talented person
  • Second Wind: Renewed energy
  • See Eye to Eye: To concur, agree
  • See Something Out of the Corner of Your Eye: Use peripheral vision
  • Seize (Take) the Bull By the Horns: Attack a problem directly
  • Seize the Day: Take an opportunity
  • Sell (Someone) a Bill of Goods: Trick someone; be deceptive
  • Sell Like Hotcakes: Be sold very quickly
  • Selling Point: An attractive feature of something for sale
  • Set in Stone: Fixed; unchangeable
  • Set something to Music: To write a piece of music to accompany a set of words
  • Set the Bar (Too) High: To set a high standard for something
  • Set the Thames on Fire: Do something amazing. Usually used in the negative.
  • Set the World on Fire: Do something amazing; have a brilliant stretch in one’s career
  • Shake the Dust off Your Shoes (Feet): Make a clean break with a relationship or situation
  • Shape Up or Ship Out: Behave properly or leave the organization
  • Sharp as A Tack: Mentally agile
  • Shell Game: A method of deception in which you conceal your actions by moving something frequently
  • Shift Gears: Change the subject, or change what one is doing
  • Shipshape And Bristol Fashion: Tidy, clean
  • Shit a Brick: Be extremely fearful.
  • Shoot from the Hip: Talk or act without consideration
  • Shoot Off One’s Mouth: Talk without considering one’s words
  • Shoot Oneself In The Foot: Do something that damages oneself or one’s own cause
  • Short Fuse: A quick temper; a tendency to anger quickly
  • Shot Across the Bow: A warning of more serious actions to come
  • Shoulder A Weight Off Your Shoulders: You no longer worry about something or deal with something difficult
  • Show Me an X And I’ll Show You a Y: There is a consequence to X that you may not have thought of.
  • Show One’s True Colors: Reveal one’s true nature
  • Show Your Cards: Reveal your resources or plans
  • Sick and Tired of: Extremely annoyed by something that occurs repeatedly
  • Sick as a Dog: Extremely ill.
  • Sick as a Parrot: Very disappointed
  • Sight for Sore Eyes: A sight that makes you happy
  • Silver Bullet: Something simple that resolves a difficult problem
  • Simmer Down: Become less angry; regain one’s composure
  • Sink or Swim: Fail or succeed
  • Sing a Different Tune: Change your opinion
  • Sit On (Something): Delay revealing or acting on something
  • Sit Tight: Wait and do not go anywhere
  • Sitting Duck: Something or someone easily attacked or criticized
  • Sitting Pretty: In a favorable situation
  • Six Feet Under: Dead and buried
  • Six of One, a Half Dozen of the Other: The two choices have no significant differences.
  • Six Ways to (from) Sunday: In every possible way
  • Slam Dunk: An effort that is certain to succeed
  • Sleep Like a Baby: To experience a very deep and restful sleep; to sleep soundly
  • Sleep with the Fishes: Dead, often by murder
  • Slip Someone a Mickey: Add a drug to an alcoholic drink in order to knock someone out
  • Slippery Slope: A series of undesirable effects that, one warns, could result from a certain action
  • Slower than Molasses: Exceptionally slow or sluggish; not fast at all.
  • Small Beer: Unimportant, insignificant
  • Small Fry: People or organizations with little influence; children
  • Small Potatoes: Unimportant, insignificant
  • Smell a Rat: Suspect deception
  • Smoking Gun: indisputable evidence of a crime
  • Snafu: A malfunction; a chaotic situation
  • Snake Oil: A useless medicine; a quack remedy; a product or measure promoted as a solution that really does nothing to help Sneak Peek: A sneak peek is an opportunity to view something in advance of its official opening or debut
  • Soak Up the Sun: To enjoy the sun
  • Sold On (Something): Convinced of something
  • Some Eggs: Achieving a major goal requires the ability to tolerate some problems
  • Someone’s Fingerprints Are All Over (Something): Someone’s influence is evident
  • Something to Crow: About Something to be proud of, an accomplishment about which one is justified in bragging
  • Son of a Gun: 1) A rogue. 2) An exclamation of surprise.
  • Sore Point: A sensitive topic for a particular person
  • Sour Grapes: Spiteful disparagment of a goal one has failed to achieve
  • Spare The Rod And Spoil The Child: It is necessary to physically punish children in order to raise them right.
  • Speak of the Devil (and He Shall Appear): The person we have just been talking about has entered.
  • Speak with A Plum in (one’s) Mouth: To speak in a manner that is indicative of a high social class.
  • Spick and Span: Clean and neat
  • Spill the Beans: Reveal a secret
  • Spin A Yarn: Tell a story
  • Spin One’s Wheels: Engaging in activity that yields no progress; getting nowhere
  • Spit into The Wind: Wasting time on something futile
  • Spoiling for a Fight: Combative, wanting conflict, eager to argue or fight
  • Square the Circle: Attempt an impossible task Stab
  • Someone in the Back: To betray (somebody)
  • Stalking Horse: Someone who tests a concept in advance of its application; a candidate who enters a political race in order to test the strength of the incumbent
  • Stand (Someone) In Good Stead: Be useful in the future
  • Stand On One’s Own Two Feet: To be independent and self-sufficient
  • Stand One’s Ground: Refuse to back down; insist on one’s position
  • Start with a Clean Slate: To start (something) again with a fresh beginning; to work on a problem without thinking about what has been done before
  • Steal Someone’s Thunder: Upstage someone
  • Stem the Tide: To stop or control the growth of something, usually something unpleasant.
  • Step Up One’s Game: Work to advance to a higher level of a competition
  • Step Up to the Plate: Prepare to take action, be the person in a group who takes action
  • Stick It to the Man: Do something that frustrates those in authority
  • Stick Your Nose into Something: Intrude into something that is not your affair
  • Sticker Shock: Surprise at the high price of something
  • Stick-in-the-Mud: A person who dislikes or adapts slowly to new ideas
  • Sticky Wicket: A difficult, tricky situation
  • Stiff-Necked: Stubborn; excessively formal
  • Storm in a Teacup: A commotion that dies down quickly, about something unimportant
  • Stormy Relationship: Relationship that has a lot arguments and disagreement
  • Stumbling Block: An obstacle, physical or abstract
  • Straight Arrow: An honest, trustworthy person
  • Strain at a Gnat and Swallow a Camel: To make a fuss over something unimportant while ignoring larger issues
  • Strike A Chord: Used to describe something that is familiar to you, reminds you of something or is connected to you somehow.
  • Sugar Daddy: A rich man who is generous with younger women in return for sexual favors
  • Sure-Fire: Certain to occur
  • Swan Song: This expression is used to describe a final act before dying or ending something.
  • Sweep Under the Carpet: Attempt to temporarily conceal a problem or error
  • Sweet Dreams!: Sleep well! Sweeten the Deal: Add something to an offer during a negotiation
  • Sweeten the Pot: Increase the amount of winnings potentially available in a game of chance, especially poker
  • Swim Against the Tide: Do something contrary to a trend or usual opinion
  • Swim with Sharks: To take a major risk
  • Swim with the Fishes: Have been killed, especially with involvement of organized crime
  • Swing for the Fences: Attempt to achieve the largest accomplishment possible S
  • word of Damocles: Something that causes a feeling of constant threat.

Idioms (T)

List of idioms that start with T.

  • Take (Someone) to the Cleaners: 1) Swindle; 2) defeat badly
  • Take a Deep Dive (Into): Explore something extensively
  • Take a Flyer: To take a rise; especially to make a speculative investment
  • Take a Gander: Go to take a look at something
  • Take a Hike: Go away
  • Take A Powder: To leave, especially in order to avoid a difficult situation
  • Take a Rain Check: Decline an invitation but suggest that you’ll accept it at a later time.
  • Take Five (Ten): Take a short break of five (ten) minutes
  • Take It Easy: Don’t hurry; relax; don’t get angry
  • Take It on The Chin: Be attacked; suffer an attack
  • Take It or Leave It (command): You must decide now whether you will accept this proposal
  • Take Someone to Task: Reprimand someone strongly
  • Take Something with a Pinch (grain) of Salt: If you take what someone says with a pinch of salt, you do not completely believe it.
  • Take the Cake: Be the most extreme instance
  • Take the Edge Off (of Something): To slightly improve something negative
  • Take the Fifth: Refuse to answer because answering might incriminate or cause problems for you
  • Take the Gloves Off: Negotiate in a more aggressive way
  • Take the High Road: Refuse to descend to immoral activities or personal attacks
  • Take The Mickey (Piss) (Out Of Someone): Make fun of or ridicule someone
  • Take the Shine Off (Something): To do something that diminishes a positive event
  • Take the Starch out of (Someone): Make someone less confident or less arrogant
  • Take The Wind Out of Someone’s Sails: To reduce someone’s confidence, often by doing something unexpected
  • Take Your Life in Your Hands: Undergo extreme risk
  • Take Your Medicine: Accept something unpleasant, for example, punishment, without protesting or complaining
  • Take Your Time: Don’t hurry, work at a relaxed pace
  • Taste of Your Own Medicine: The same unpleasant experience or treatment that one has given to others
  • Teach an Old Dog New Tricks: To change someone’s long-established habits. Usually used in the negative: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
  • Tear One’s Hair out: Be extremely worried or frustrated
  • Tear-Jerker: A film or book that makes you cry
  • Tee Many Martoonies: Too many martinis, scrambled to suggest drunkenness
  • Tell It to the Marines: I don’t believe you; you must think I’m gullible.
  • Tempest in a Teapot: A commotion about something unimportant
  • Ten a Penny: Ordinary, inexpensive
  • Ten to One: Something very likely
  • Test the Waters: Experiment with something cautiously
  • Tie the Knot: Get married
  • Tighten the Screws: Increase pressure on someone
  • Tight-Lipped: secretive, unwilling to explain something
  • Til the Cows Come Home: For a very long time
  • Time is Money: time is valuable, so don’t waste it.
  • Tip of the Iceberg: A small, visible part of a much larger problem
  • Tip One’s Hand: Reveal one’s advantages; reveal useful information that one possesses
  • TLC: Tender Loving Care
  • To be A Peach: Someone or something that is extremely good, impressive, or attractive
  • To be Smitten With Someone: To be completely captivated by someone and feel immense joy
  • To be someone’s One and Only: To be unique to the other person
  • To be the Apple of Someone’s Eye: To be loved and treasured by someone
  • To Bear Fruit: To develop in a profitable or positive way
  • To Carpool: To travel to the same place with a group of people in one car. e.g. work/school
  • To Each His Own: People have different tastes.
  • To Get Cold Feet: To experience reluctance or fear
  • To Have a Chip on One’s Shoulder: To be combative, to be consistently argumentative
  • To Have Butterflies In Your Stomach: To be nervous
  • To Have One For the Road: To have one last (alcoholic) drink before you go home
  • To Pay an Arm and a Leg: A very high cost
  • To Pop (one’s) Cherry: To do something for the first time
  • To Pull Someone’s Leg: Lie playfully
  • To Run Hot and Cold: To be unable to make up one’s mind
  • To the Letter: Exactly (said of instructions or procedures)
  • Toe the Line: Accept authority, follow the rules
  • Tone-Deaf: Not good at perceiving the impact of one’s words, insensitive
  • Tongue-in-Cheek: Said ironically; not meant to be taken seriously
  • Too Busy Fighting Alligators to Drain the Swamp: So occupied with multiple challenges that one can’t keep the big picture in mind
  • Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth: A project works best if there is input from a limited number of people
  • Too Many Chiefs and Not Enough Indians: Everyone wants to be a leader, and no one wants to do the actual work
  • Too Many To Shake A Stick At: A large number
  • Toot Your Own Horn: Brag; emphasize one’s own contributions
  • Top Banana: The boss, the leader
  • Toss a Wrench (Spanner) Into: Sabotage; cause a process to stop
  • Touch Base: Meet briefly with someone
  • Touch One’s Heart: Affect someone emotionally, be touching
  • Touch Water: Be launched. Said of a boat.
  • Tough Cookie: A very determined person
  • Tough Sledding: Difficult progress
  • Turn a Blind Eye: (to) Choose not to notice something
  • Turn on a Dime: Quickly reverse direction or position
  • Turn Someone Inside Out: To cause strong emotional turmoil; to completely change someone
  • Turn Something on Its Head: Reverse something, cause something to be done in a new way
  • Turn Turtle: Capsize, turn over
  • Turn the Corner: To begin to improve after a problem
  • Turn the Tables: Reverse a situation
  • Turnabout Is Fair Play: If you suffer from the same suffering you have inflicted on others, that’s only fair
  • Twenty-Four Seven: At any time
  • Twist the Knife (in Deeper): Make someone’s suffering worse
  • Two a Penny: Ordinary, inexpensive
  • Two Peas in A Pod: Two people who are very similar in appearance
  • Thank God It’s Friday (TGIF): Let’s be happy that the workweek is over!
  • That Ship Has Sailed: That opportunity has passed.
  • That’s Music to My Ears: I am very happy to hear this.
  • That’s a Stretch: What you are suggesting is very difficult to believe; I am very skeptical
  • That’s All She Wrote: That was the end of the story.
  • The Apple Never Falls Far From the Tree: Family characteristics are usually inherited
  • The Birds and the Bees: Human sexuality and reproduction
  • The Cat Is Out of the Bag: The secret has been revealed.
  • The Coast Is Clear: We are unobserved; it is safe to proceed.
  • The Cherry On the Cake: The final thing that makes something perfect
  • The Deck Is (The Cards Are): Stacked Against You Unfavorable conditions exist.
  • The Jig Is Up: A secret illicit activity has been exposed; your trickery is finished
  • The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same: Although something may seem superficially new, it has not altered the basic situation.
  • The Only Game in Town: The sole option for a particular service.
  • The Powers That Be: People in charge, often used when the speaker does not want to identify them.
  • The Real McCoy: A genuine item
  • The Story Has Legs: People are continuing to pay attention to the story.
  • The Time is Ripe: If you say that the time is ripe, you mean that it is a suitable point for a particular activity
  • The Walls Have Ears: We may be overheard; be careful what you say
  • The Whole Enchilada: All of something.
  • The Whole Shebang: Everything, all the parts of something
  • The World Is Your Oyster: You have many opportunities and choices.
  • There But For The Grace Of God Go I: I could easily have done what that person did.
  • There’s More Than One Way to Skin a Cat: There’s more than one way of achieving a certain goal.
  • There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch: Nothing is given to you without some expectation of something in return.
  • Thin On The Ground: Rare, seldom encountered
  • Think Big: Consider ambitious plans; avoid becoming overly concerned with details
  • Think Outside the Box: Try to solve a problem in an original way; think creatively
  • Think Tank: A group of experts engaged in ongoing studies of a particular subject; a policy study group
  • Third Rail: A topic so sensitive that it is dangerous to raise. This is especially used in political contexts
  • Third Time’s a Charm: Even if you fail at something twice, you may well succeed the third time.
  • Thirty-Thousand-Foot View: A very broad or general perspective
  • This Has (Person X) Written All Over It: [Person X] would really like or be well suited to this.
  • This Is Not Your Father’s ____: This item has been much updated from its earlier versions.
  • Three Sheets to the Wind: Very drunk
  • Through the Grapevine: Via gossip
  • Through Thick and Thin: In good times and bad
  • Throw a Wet Blanket on (Something): Discourage plans for something
  • Throw a Wrench Into: To sabotage; to cause to fail
  • Throw Caution to the Wind: To act in a daring way, without forethough
  • Throw Down the Gauntlet: To issue a challenge
  • Throw Elbows: Be combative; be aggressive (physically or figuratively)
  • Throw in the Towel: To give up, admit defeat
  • Throw Someone for a Loop: Deeply surprise someone; catch someone off guard
  • Throw Someone Under the Bus: Sacrifice someone else’s interests for your own personal gain
  • Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water: Eliminate something good while discarding the bad parts of something
  • Throw The Book At: Prosecute legally as strongly as possible
  • Throw the Fight: Intentionally lose a contest, usually in collusion with gamblers
  • Throw the Game: Intentionally lose a contest, usually in collusion with gamblers
  • Throw the Match: Intentionally lose a contest, usually in collusion with gamblers
  • Thumbs-Up: Approval
  • Train Wreck: Anything that develops in a disastrous way
  • Trash Talk: Insults directed at one’s opponent in a sporting event or contest
  • Tread Water: Maintain a current situation without improvement or decline
  • Trial Balloon: A test of someone’s or the public’s reaction
  • Trip the Light Fantastic: Dance well; do ballroom dancing

Idioms (U)

List of idioms that start with U.

  • U Turn: A complete change of opinion, direction, etc.
  • Ugly Duckling: An awkward child or young person who grows into a beautiful person
  • Under (Below) the Radar: Not generally perceived, below popular consciousness
  • Under Someone’s Spell: Fascinated, entranced by someone
  • Under the Impression: Believing something, perhaps mistakenly
  • Under the Table: Without being officially recorded
  • Under the Weather: Feeling ill
  • Under Wraps: Temporarily hidden, secret
  • University of Life: Difficult real-life experience, as opposed to formal education
  • Until the Cows Come Home: For a long time
  • Until You’re Blue in the Face: For a long time with no results
  • Up a Creek: In a very bad situation
  • Up for Grabs: Available
  • Up in Arms: Angry, protesting (usually said of a group)
  • Up in the Air: Not yet decided
  • Up to One’s Neck: Nearly overwhelmed
  • Up to Scratch: Meeting a basic standard of competence or quality
  • Up to Snuff: Meeting a basic standard
  • Up the Ante: Raise the stakes; increase the importance of something under discussion
  • Up the Duff: Pregnant
  • Upset the Apple Cart: To disorganize or spoil something, especially an established arrangement or plan
  • Use One’s Head: To think, to have common sense

Idioms (V)

List of idioms that start with V.

  • Vale of Tears: The world in general, envisioned as a sad place; the tribulations of life
  • Vicious Circle: A situation in which an attempt to solve a problem makes the original problem worse.
  • Victory Lap: Visible public appearances after a victory or accomplishment
  • Virgin Territory: Something that has never been explored, physically or intellectually
  • Vote with One’s Feet: To physically depart from something as a way of showing disapproval

Idioms (W)

List of idioms that start with W.

  • Waiting in the Wings: Ready to assume responsibilities but not yet active, ready to become a successor
  • Waka-Jumping: Change political parties (said of politicians themselves)
  • Wake Up and Smell the Coffee: Stop deluding yourself
  • Wake Up on the Wrong Side of the Bed: Be grumpy or ill-humored. Generally used in past tense
  • Walk on Eggshells: To have to act very sensitively in order to avoid offending someone
  • Walk the Plank: Be forced to resign a position
  • Wandering Eye: A tendency to look at and desire women or men other than one’s committed romantic partner
  • Wash Your Hands of (Something): Decline to take further responsibility; refuse to be involved with something anymore
  • Water Under the Bridge: Something in the past that’s no longer worth worrying about
  • Watering Hole: A place where alcoholic beverages are served, a bar
  • Weekend Warrior: Someone who has an office job but enjoys contact sports on weekends; a member of a military reserve force (whose exercises are typically on weekends)
  • We’ll Cross That Bridge: When We Come to It We’ll deal with that problem if and when it comes up
  • Welsh (Welch) on a Deal: Not observe the terms of an agreement
  • Wet Behind the Ears: inexperienced, immature, new to something
  • Wet Blanket: Someone who dampens a festive occasion
  • Wet Your Whistle: Drink something
  • What Do You Make of (Him)?: What is your evaluation of this person?
  • What Goes Around Comes Around: The kind of treatment you give to others will eventually return to you; things go in cycles
  • What’s Good for the Goose Is Good for the Gander: What’s OK for a man is OK for a woman, too
  • When Hell Freezes Over: Never
  • When In Doubt, Leave It Out: When unsure about something, omit it.
  • When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do: When you visit a new place, follow the customs of the people there
  • When It Rains, It Pours: Problems tend to come in groups.
  • When Pigs Fly: Never
  • When the Chips Are Down: When a situation becomes urgent or difficult
  • Where (When) the Rubber: Meets the Road In reality; where an idea meets a real-world test
  • Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way: If you have a strong desire to accomplish something, you will achieve it even in the face of considerable odds.
  • Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire: If there is typical evidence of something, the most likely explanation is that it is actually occurring.
  • Whisper Sweet Nothings (in Someone’s Ear): Speak meaningless romantic utterances
  • Whistle in the Dark: To be unrealistically confident or brave; to talk about something of which one has little knowledge
  • Whistle Past the Graveyard: Remain optimistic despite dangers; be clueless
  • Whistling Dixie: Being unrealistically optimistic
  • White Elephant: An unwanted item that is difficult to sell or dispose of
  • Who’s She, the Cat’s Mother?: Why does she have such a high opinion of herself?
  • Wild Goose Chase: An impossible or futile search or task
  • Window Dressing: A misleading disguise intended to present a favorable impression
  • Window Shop: To look at merchandise in a store without intending to buy it
  • Witch Hunt: An organized attempt to persecute an unpopular group of people and blame them for a problem.
  • With Bells On: Eagerly, willingly, and on time.
  • Work One’s Fingers to the Bone: Work very hard over an extended period
  • Worn to a Frazzle: Exhausted, completely worn out
  • Wouldn’t Be Caught Dead: Would absolutely not allow myself to do this
  • Writing (Handwriting) on the Wall: Hints of coming disaster

Idioms (Y)

List of idioms that start with Y.

  • Year In, Year Out: Annually without change
  • You Can Lead a Horse to Water, but You Can’t Make It Drink: It’s very hard to force someone to do something against his or her will.
  • You Can Say That Again!: I agree totally!
  • You Can Take It to the Bank: I absolutely guarantee this
  • You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover: You can’t know people (or things) well by their external appearances.
  • You Can’t Make an Omelet (Omelette): Without Breaking
  • You Can’t Make Fish of One and Fowl of the Other: People must be treated equally.
  • You Know the Drill: You are already familiar with the procedure.
  • You Snooze, You Lose: If you delay or are not alert, you will miss opportunities
  • Young at Heart: Having a youthful outlook, regardless of age
  • Your Guess Is as Good as Mine: I don’t know; I have no idea
  • Your Mileage May Vary: You may get different results. This does not necessarily refer to a car, although it may.
  • Your Number Is Up: You are going to die (or suffer some bad misfortune or setback)
  • You’re Driving Me Nuts: To make someone giddy or crazy
  • Yours Truly: Me

Idioms (Z)

List of idioms that start with Z.

  • Zero In On: Focus closely on something; take aim at something
  • Zig When One Should Be Zagging: To make an error; to choose an incorrect course
  • Zip One’s Lip: Be quiet

List of Idioms | Images

List of idiomsPin

Common English idioms and sayings - ImagePin

Idioms List | Images

Common English Idioms List with Meaning | Image Pin

Common English Idioms List with Meaning | Image Pin

Common English Idioms List with Meaning | Image Pin

Common English Idioms List with Meaning | Image Pin

Last Updated on May 29, 2023

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