Learn useful Transport idioms in English with meaning and examples.
List of 60+ Useful Transport Idioms in English.
You can jump to any section of this lesson:
- 1 (Did Not) Come to Town on a Turnip Truck
- 2 (Not) rock the boat
- 3 (That) Train Has Left the Station
- 4 (To) Criticize the Paint Job on the Titanic
- 5 (To) Send Flying
- 6 (We’ll) Cross That Bridge When We Come to It (Get to It)
- 7 All Hands on Deck
- 8 Any Port in a Storm
- 9 Asleep at the Wheel (Switch)
- 10 Backseat driver
- 11 Bump in the Road
- 12 Burn One’s Bridges
- 13 Carry Coals To Newcastle
- 14 Circle the Wagons
- 15 Drive a hard bargain
- 16 Fall Off the Wagon
- 17 Fell off the back of a Truck/lorry
- 18 Fifth Wheel
- 19 Fly by the Seat of One’s Pants
- 20 Fly Highs
- 21 Give the Green Light to
- 22 Go Off The Rails
- 23 Go the Extra Mile
- 24 Highways and byways
- 25 Hit the road
- 26 In a Rut
- 27 In Someone’s Wheelhouse
- 28 In the Driver’s Seat
- 29 In the Same Boat
- 30 Itchy feet
- 31 It’s Not Rocket Science
- 32 Jump on the Bandwagon
- 33 Jump the Track
- 34 Just Around the Corner
- 35 Light at the End of the Tunnel
- 36 Lower the Boom
- 37 Miss the Boat
- 38 My way or the highway
- 39 Off His Trolley
- 40 On a Wing and a Prayer
- 41 On the Fly
- 42 On the home stretch
- 43 On the Right Track
- 44 Paddle one’s own canoe
- 45 Puddle Jumper
- 46 Put the cart before the horse
- 47 Rearrange the Deck Chairs on the Titanic
- 48 Rock the Boat
- 49 Run a Tight Ship
- 50 Run on Fumes
- 51 Shift Gears
- 52 Spin One’s Wheels
- 53 Take the High Road
- 54 Take The Wind out of Someone’s Sails
- 55 That Ship Has Sailed
- 56 Third Rail
- 57 Thirty-Thousand-Foot View
- 58 Throw Someone Under the Bus
- 59 Touch Water
- 60 Train Wreck
- 61 Turn the Corner
- 62 Walk the Plank
- 63 Where (When) the Rubber Meets the Road
- 64 Your Mileage May Vary
(Did Not) Come to Town on a Turnip Truck
- Meaning: Is not naive
- Example: You can’t fool me. I didn’t come to town on a turnip truck, you know.
(Not) rock the boat
- Meaning: To do or say something that might endanger astable situation or upset the status quo
- Example: None of my family members are fighting with each other right now, so please don’t rock the boat by bringing up politics or any other controversial topics.
(That) Train Has Left the Station
- Meaning: The process is already underway; the time for discussion is over.
- Example: I know you don’t like it that we’re spending money on renovations, but that train has left the station – construction crews are already here.
(To) Criticize the Paint Job on the Titanic
- Meaning: To obsess over small flaws and miss serious ones
- Example: Sally will sometimes miss the big picture and criticize the paint job on the Titanic.
(To) Send Flying
- Meaning: Knock something into the Air
- Example: The impact of the car hitting my bicycle sent me flying, but I wasn’t seriously hurt.
(We’ll) Cross That Bridge When We Come to It (Get to It)
- Meaning: Deal with a situation when it is actually encountered
- Example: I think we should start construction. I know we haven’t completed all the financing details, but we‘ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
All Hands on Deck
- Meaning: Everyone must help.
- Example: We have to finish the new catalogue next week. No one is allowed to go on vacation – I need all hands on deck.
Any Port in a Storm
- Meaning: If you’re in trouble, you’ll turn to anything that improves the situation.
- Example: I’m not crazy about my job, but jobs are hard to find, and I’ve got bills to pay. Any port in a storm.
Asleep at the Wheel (Switch)
- Meaning: Not paying attention to one’s work; not doing one’s job diligently.
- Example: Josh was asleep at the wheel, and we didn’t have a response ready when our competition put out a press release attacking our product.
Useful transport idioms in English | Image 1
…Transport idioms in English…
- Meaning: A passenger in a car who gives unwanted advice to the driver is called a backseat driver.
- Example: John quickly became annoyed at Mary’s tendency to become a backseat driver whenever he drove her somewhere, so he just began to let her drive.
Bump in the Road
- Meaning: A temporary problem, a small setback
- Example: There are supply shortages for our new product right now, but they’re just a bump in the road. I’m sure we’ll solve the problem quickly.
Burn One’s Bridges
- Meaning: Leave a job or a relationship on such bad terms that one does not stay in contact
- Example: You may have disliked your last job, but it’s never a good idea to burn your bridges – you might need a recommendation from them later on.
Carry Coals To Newcastle
- Meaning: Supply something that is unneeded; engage in useless labor
- Example: Trying to market oranges in the USA right now is like carrying coals to Newcastle – there’s already a market glut there.
Circle the Wagons
- Meaning: To prepare as a group to defend against attack, adopt a defensive posture
- Example: There’s no need to circle the wagons after the evaluation of your workgroup. You’re basically doing a good job, and I’m just pointing out areas where you can improve.
Drive a hard bargain
- Meaning: To arrange a transaction so that it benefits oneself.
- Example: Sal is known to drive a hard bargain, so I doubt you’ll get that car for the price you want.
Fall Off the Wagon
- Meaning: To begin using alcohol (or another problem substance) after quitting
- Example: I saw Carl drinking a beer tonight. He’s fallen off the wagon.
Fell off the back of a Truck/lorry
- Meaning: Probably stolen or illicitly obtained; said of something offered for sale to avoid discussing its origins
- Example: Yes, this computer is cheap. It fell off the back of a truck/ lorry!
- Meaning: A superfluous person
- Example: I’m not really part of your group. If I come to the party I’ll just be a fifith wheel.
Fly by the Seat of One’s Pants
- Meaning: To improvise, to make decisions without planning or preparation
- Example: I’m going to need the help of the entire team on this project-right now I haven’t had time to learn about the subject, and I’m flying by the seat of my pants.
- Meaning: Be very successful, especially temporarily
- Example: The mayor is flying high right now since council approved his bridge proposal.
Give the Green Light to
- Meaning: Approve something; allow something to proceed
- Example: The district manager gave the green light to our new marketing plan.
Go Off The Rails
- Meaning: To go wrong, to begin acting strangely or badly
- Example: The project really went off the rails when Amber took over and fired the best people working on it.
Go the Extra Mile
- Meaning: Put forth greater-than-expected effort
- Example: I appreciate it that you went the extra mile and worked late to finish the project.
Highways and byways
- Meaning: You take large and small roads to visit every part of the country.
- Example: The city council voted to plant new trees along all the highways and byways of the town.
Hit the road
- Meaning: To leave
- Example: We better hit the road before traffic get seven worse.
In a Rut
- Meaning: Confined by routine, bored and seeking new experiences
- Example: I’m in a rut. I need new challenges at my job, or I’m going to start looking for something else.
In Someone’s Wheelhouse
- Meaning: In someone’s strongest area of competence or enthusiasm
- Example: I thought you’d like this article about computer programming – computers are Example: , aren’t they?
In the Driver’s Seat
- Meaning: In a dominant position, in control
- Example: The New England Patriots are in the driver’s seat, with a 12-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
In the Same Boat
- Meaning: In a similar situation; similarly vulnerable
- Example: Peter is worried about losing his job, and we’re in the same boat – I could lose mine at any time too.
- Meaning: 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.
- Example: I hated living in London, and I started getting itchy feet.
It’s Not Rocket Science
- Meaning: It’s not difficult to understand.
- Example: Just depress the accelerator and slowly let the clutch out. It’s not rocket science.
Jump on the Bandwagon
- Meaning: To follow a trend; follow the crowd
- Example: Quentin always jumps on the latest management bandwagon. Last year it was Total Quality Control; this year it’s Japanese Motivation Strategies.
Jump the Track
- Meaning: To shift suddenly from one activity or line of thought to another
- Example: Often Anjali will be talking about one thing, and then she’ll jump the track and start talking about something else completely.
Just Around the Corner
- Meaning: Occurring soon
- Example: New Year’s Eve is just around the corner. Have you made party plans yet?
Light at the End of the Tunnel
- Meaning: A sign of hope after a long period of difficulties
- Example: Lindsay has been having a lot of personal problems. But yesterday she said she’s seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
Lower the Boom
- Meaning: Implement a punishment; reprimand severely
- Example: A new camera system has been set up, and police are ready to lower the boom on people who run red lights.
Miss the Boat
- Meaning: Be too late for something; miss an opportunity
- Example: There were great jobs avaiable in Indonesia, but the government has tightened work restrictions on foreigners. Guess I missed the boat.
My way or the highway
- Meaning: If you do not do things the way I want or require, then you can just leave or not participate.
- Example: I’m here to create the best musicians in the world, so in this room, it’s my way or the highway!
Off His Trolley
- Meaning: Crazy, insane
- Example: My brother just spent a lot of money on really questionable stocks. I think he’s off his trolley.
On a Wing and a Prayer
- Meaning: Relying solely on hope and enthusiasm in a difficult situation
- Example: After my divorce I was broke and jobless. I was getting by on a wing and a prayer.
On the Fly
- Meaning: While in motion, while traveling
- Example: I’ll eat dinner on the fly and meet you at 8.
On the home stretch
- Meaning: You are approaching the end of a task, a project, a race or a journey.
- Example: Ten exams done and two more to do — you’re on the home stretch now.
On the Right Track
- Meaning: Pursuing a correct course in doing or learning something
- Example: I haven’t solved the math problem yet, but I’m pretty sure I’m on the right track.
Useful Transport idioms in English | Image 2
…Transport idioms in English…
Paddle one’s own canoe
- Meaning: To be able to act independently.
- Example: Now that you’re 30, people expect you to paddle your own canoe—you can’t just live with your parents forever.
- Meaning: A small airplane, used on short trips
- Example: There’s a puddle jumper that flies from San Francisco to San Jose. It’s expensive, but driving takes forever.
Put the cart before the horse
- Meaning: To do things out of the proper order.
- Example: If you put the cart before the horse and pick out your dream car before you have any money saved up for a down payment, you’ll just end up disappointed.
Rearrange the Deck Chairs on the Titanic
- Meaning: Taking superficial actions while ignoring a much larger and perhaps fatal problem
- Example: Why are we worrying about the price of office supplies? We could be bankrupt in three months! We’re just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
Rock the Boat
- Meaning: Cause a disruption in a group. Often used in the negative: don’t rock the boat.
- Example: You’ll have a chance later to be heard. For now, don’t rock the boat.
Run a Tight Ship
- Meaning: Manage an organization in a strict, well-regulated way
- Example: I know the accounting procedures may seem difficult, but I want to run a tight ship here.
Run on Fumes
- Meaning: To be in a situation where one’s energy or resources is almost exhausted
- Example: I need to get home and rest. I’ve been running on fumes for hours.
- Meaning: Change the subject, or change what one is doing
- Example: Shifting gears a bit, I’d like to talk about next year’s budget before we end the meeting.
Spin One’s Wheels
- Meaning: Engaging in activity that yields no progress; getting nowhere
- Example: I’ve been working on this math problem for four hours, but I’m just spinning my wheels. It’s time to take a break and look at it from a new perspective.
Take the High Road
- Meaning: Refuse to descend to immoral activities or personal attacks
- Example: Although my opponent has run negative advertising against me, I’m going to take the high road and talk about my accomplishments.
Take The Wind out of Someone’s Sails
- Meaning: To reduce someone’s confidence, ofte by doing something unexpected
- Example: When my teacher criticized my speech, that really took the wind out of my sails.
That Ship Has Sailed
- Meaning: That opportunity has passed.
- Example: It’s too late for you to ask her to marry you – she’s involved with someone else now. That ship has sailed.
- Meaning: A topic so sensitive that it is dangerous to raise. This is especially used in political contexts
- Example: Social Security is often called the third rail of American politics-”even the suggestion of changing it can be fatal to a politician’s career.
- Meaning: A very broad or general perspective
- Example: From a thirty-thousand-foot view, I suppose sports contests don’t matter much, but they can be very enjoyable.
Throw Someone Under the Bus
- Meaning: Sacrifice someone else’s interests for your own personal gain ” Karina is too ambitious.
- Example: If it means that she’ll get ahead in the company, she’s perfectly willing to throw you under the bus.
- Meaning: Be launched. Said of a boat.
- Example: Our catamaran touched water 30 years ago for the first time, and we’re still sailing her.
- Meaning: Anything that develops in a disastrous way
- Example: After the train wreck of my class presentation, I really need to do well on the exam.
Turn the Corner
- Meaning: To begin to improve after a problem
- Example: Joe is still suffering from the injuries he received in the accident, but the doctors think he’s turned the corner.
Walk the Plank
- Meaning: Be forced to resign a position
- Example: Several of the president’s aides will have to walk the plank so that he himself can survive.
Where (When) the Rubber Meets the Road
- Meaning: In reality; where an idea meets a real-world test
- Example: The plan looks good on paper. But we’ll see what happens when the rubber meets the road.
Your Mileage May Vary
- Meaning: You may get different results. This does not necessarily refer to a car, although it may.
- Example: I think the new database program is great, but your mileage may vary, depending on what you use it for.