Learn Useful Weapons Idioms in English with meaning and examples.
List of 25+ Useful Weapons Idioms in English.
You can jump to any section of this lesson:
- 1 Bite the Bullet
- 2 Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight
- 3 Double-Edged Sword
- 4 Smoking Gun
- 5 Dead Eye
- 6 Dodge a Bullet
- 7 Fall on One’s Sword
- 8 Fight Fire with Fire
- 9 Go Nuclear
- 10 Go Off Half-Cocked
- 11 In the Crosshairs (Cross Hairs)
- 12 Jump the Gun
- 13 Keep Your Powder Dry
- 14 Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel
- 15 Long Shot
- 16 Loose Cannon
- 17 Pack Heat
- 18 Powder Keg
- 19 Shoot from the Hip
- 20 Shoot Off One’s Mouth
- 21 Shoot Oneself In The Foot
- 22 Silver Bullet
- 23 Son of a Gun
- 24 Straight Arrow
- 25 Sword of Damocles
- 26 Twist the Knife (in Deeper)
Bite the Bullet
- Meaning: To do something even though it involves pain, discomfort, or difficulty
- Example: I guess I might as well bite the bullet and go and talk to the boss about my failure. I’ll have to do it sooner or later.
Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight
- Meaning: Underequipped or unprepared
- Example: Price cuts won’t be enough: we’re bringing a knife to a gunfight. We need to file a patent-infringement lawsuit.
- Meaning: Something that can be helpful or harmful; something beneficial that also has a downside
- Example: Intelligence can be a double-edged sword. Of course it’s helpful, but it can also make people bored or impatient in large organizations.
- Meaning: Indisputable evidence of a crime
- Example: A photograph showing the legislator meeting with organized crime bosses was the smoking gun.
- Meaning: A good shooter, a good marksman
- Example: Virgil is a dead eye. He learned his skills in the army.
Dodge a Bullet
- Meaning: To narrowly escape disaster
- Example: We dodged a bullet tonight. We sold too many tickets for the play, but some people didn’t show up.
Fall on One’s Sword
- Meaning: To accept blame; to sacrifice oneself
- Example: Rather than trying to deflect blame to her subordinates, the boss fell on her sword and admitted the fiasco was her idea.
Note: This expression is of biblical origin.
Fight Fire with Fire
- Meaning: Use the same measures that are being used against you, even if they’re stronger than you would usually use
- Example: Our competition is running ads accusing us of cheating on product testing. We’ll just have to fight fire with fire.
- Meaning: Use an extreme measure; because extremely angry
- Example: If they try to dump more goods in our market, we’ll go nuclear on them and totally shut down the trade negotiations.
Go Off Half-Cocked
- Meaning: To say or something prematurely, with a negative effect
- Example: Carly is smart, but she’s terrible in meetings—she tends to go off half-cocked and say really angry things when it’s not necessary at all.
In the Crosshairs (Cross Hairs)
- Meaning: Targeted for blame or criticism
- Example: The president has been in the crosshairs of labor leaders since the new restrictions on strikes were introduced.
Jump the Gun
- Meaning: Start doing something too soon
- Example: We’re ready to introduce the new model, but don’t jump the gun—the boss wants to keep it a secret until the official release date.
Useful Weapons Idioms in English
Keep Your Powder Dry
- Meaning: Do not attack until you are ready.
- Example: There’s no point in launching the ad campaign while everyone’s out of town. Let’s keep our powder dry and wait until the campaign is in full swing.
Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel
- Meaning: Very easy
- Example: Passing this quiz will be like shooting fish in a barrel. I’ve studied a lot.
- Meaning: Something with little chance of success
- Example: I know it’s a long shot, but I’m going to ask Amanda to go out with me.
- Meaning: Someone out of control; someone who speaks or acts recklessly
- Example: Jerry’s a loose cannon. Yesterday he insulted our client’s sister, and the day before that he showed up at a sales meeting drunk.
- Meaning: Carry a gun
- Example: The trouble with that neighborhood is that too many people there are packing heat, and if a disagreement erupts it may turn deadly.
- Meaning: An explosive situation, a situation in which people are angry and ready to be violent
- Example: The coup has been suppressed, but the city remains a powder keg.
Shoot from the Hip
- Meaning: Talk or act without consideration
- Example: Sheila will often shoot from the hip, but at least you know what she’s really thinking.
Note: This idiom often has a unique mixture of negative and positive, as in the example.
Shoot Off One’s Mouth
- Meaning: Talk without considering one’s words
- Example: Luis is very smart, but he has a tendency to shoot off his mouth. I wish he would think more about what he says.
Shoot Oneself In The Foot
- Meaning: Do something that damages oneself or one’s own cause
- Example: Barbara was trying to convince us to expand the marketing campaign. But she shot herself in the foot when she criticized her predecessor.
- Meaning: Something simple that resolves a difficult problem
- Example: There’s no silver bullet for our economic problems. We’re going to have to endure several years of austerity.
Note: You can also say “magic bullet.”
Son of a Gun
- Meaning: 1) A rogue. 2) An exclamation of surprise.
- Example: You’d think the job was impossible, but that son of a gun will stick to it until it’s done.
Note: This often has an affectionate or admiring flavor, as in the example. It may also be used disparagingly, as a euphemism for “son of a bitch.”
- Meaning: An honest, trustworthy person
- Example: Jim is a straight arrow. If he says there’s nothing wrong with the car, you can depend on that.
Sword of Damocles
- Meaning: Something that causes a feeling of constant threat.
- Example: Layoffs have been a sword of Damocles at this company for so long that most people are already looking for new jobs.
Note: This idiom comes from an ancient Greek tale about a sword suspended by a single hair. It’s often used with the phrase “hanging over.”
Twist the Knife (in Deeper)
- Meaning: Make someone’s suffering worse
- Example: You knew Amber just broke up with Steven. Why did you have to twist the knife in deeper by telling her he was going out with Courtney?
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- Shoot Off One’s Mouth
- Shoot Oneself In The Foot
- Silver Bullet
- Straight Arrow
- Sword of Damocles
- Twist the Knife (in Deeper)
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