the overall meaning of the idiom may be unclear. When students gain an understanding of American idioms, and the facility to use them, they are truly a. Idiom: a group of words that means something different than the individual words it contains. As with any language, American English is full of idioms, especially. type is said to be idiomatic. This dictionary is a collection of the idiomatic phrases and sentences that occur frequently in American English. Many of them occur.
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American. English Idioms. Harry Collis. Illustrated by Mario Risso. Mc. Graw. New York Chicago San Francisco Lisbon London Madrid Mexico City. Idiom Index A a-ok. A-OK about about time crazy about don't know the first thing about it go English I Dictionary of English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions. NTC's American Idioms Dictionary is designed for easy use by lifelong speakers of of American English used in the dictionary is generally what one would.
If she said she would be here at socially acceptable behavior 9: They always do. Beyond 1. She speaks to her co-workers as if they were her servants. I accepted a teaching position in a small village 2. I like his family. Diane was a big fish in a small pond in her hometown, tell them. He was between a rock and a hard place. Hawaii this year. I consider both Paul and Mitch to be friends of mine.
The expression big shot is of ten used sarcastically or Now they are mad at each other and each wants me disparagingly. No matter what I do I could lose one friend or both. The boss wants her to lie about the financial state of the company. All the big wheels get the use of company cars and painful or difficult. The expression originates from the practice parking spaces right next to the door of the building. Another good idea bites the dust. I think this lamp just bit the dust. It broke and I have much power outside his own department.
Did you see all the expensive cars in the parking lot outside? John discovered the hard truth about responsibility. It was a hard pill to The expression bigwig is usually applied to a person high up swallow, but he had to learn the hard way. Jill thought she was a good singer. She just had a black and blue knee. I think she has 1. During the war each household was allotted a small bitten off more than she can chew.
If you 2. They bit off more 2. There is a growing black market for consumer goods than they can chew. After my operation, the doctor told me not to drive money than we have.
Tom was walking down the street in the hot sun. As a noun, blackout is one word. Forgive me for yelling at you. I guess I just had to sheep of the family. All the girls in that family except Mary grew up to 2. When my mother needs to blow off steam, she slams become respected members of the community. She the cupboard doors.
The expression suggests the noise created when a steam boiler releases excess pressure. Rachel seems pretty unhappy these days. The dinner was black-tie, so all the men wore black bow ties and dinner jackets. Keith lets everyone know that the boss is going to themselves blue-bloods and thought their son was make him the new assistant manager. He likes to too good for her. Derby winners.
Dating back to at least the 16th century, this phrase is a reference to the practice of blowing horns to announce the BLUE LAW arrival of important officials such as kings. In the United States in , a blue law was passed to become suddenly very angry prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages. It was later repealed. Some cities have blue laws that limit or prohibit such activities as dancing and gambling.
The president assembled a blue ribbon panel of experts to study the problem. He blows hot and cold. Pam blows hot and cold about studying nursing. Sometimes she says she would enjoy it and sometimes she says it would be too much work. Do you really think you can fool me? Sam works on an assembly line mass-producing clock 2. Philip is going to get hurt if he goes on trusting radios. He never suspects that people make friends with him just because he is rich.
People who work in factories doing heavy labor are He acts like he was born yesterday. Wet behind the ears suggests inexperience, while born yesterday suggests that the person is easily fooled. They say 2. Are you sure you The expression suggests heated water whose surface erupts have both feet on the ground? It the net result sentence 1 , or the simple and bombed.
They thought they had hired an exciting speaker but 1. How much money am I actually going to have to spend on this house? Whereas bomb is usually applied to creative activities e. You and I can argue around and around on this issue, an egg is usually applied to doing something that is socially but the bottom line is that our children will have to go to embarrassing on a smaller scale.
The subject of politics is a bone of contention between undeniable truth of an argument sentence 2. The expression Sandra and me—we never seem to agree. I guess we can ask George to help. But in my opinion, 1. I have a bone to pick with Anne.
A-Z of English Idioms: 150 Most Common Expressions
You could tell by the angry look on their faces and Antonym: We had better finish our drinks because the bar is 1. The comedian at the dinner show is wonderful. He closing. Bottoms up! Young Timmy did not want to drink his medicine, but 2.
In his newspaper glass into his hands. It is informal. You should think about marrying someone to generate many ideas quickly who will help bring home the bacon. When faced with a complicated problem, it is often 2.
Before we began writing, our teacher asked us to brainstorm topics for our compositions. The to be dismissed casually and almost cruelly goal is to generate potential solutions without immediately 1. Evaluation is carried out as a subsequent when Wayne asked her to go, she gave John the step. The boss told me that he was busy right then and that I should come back later.
I deserve an honest answer from somebody that provides financially for his or her you. It is usually used where one he and his wife needed to adjust to having one person is superior to or thinks he is superior to the other. When her family needed more money, Tara got a job BUG after school to help out.
She became a breadwinner. The children bugged their mother about going to the social introduction or conversation movies until she lost her temper. The 2. My name is John Taylor. The expression suggests the idea of breaking through an icy surface to clear a path for ships. The boss expects to see the new plans tomorrow. The expression suggests burning the oil in an oil lamp for light in order to work in the dark.
My stockbroker really gave me a bum steer. I bought lacking enthusiasm due to overexposure or too a stock he recommended and it did nothing but go much of the same thing; completely used up; down. Kim stopped at a gas station for directions to city 1.
The mechanic told her how to get there, but he chemistry. He had taken so many chemistry classes gave her a bum steer and she got lost again. She decided she needed to take a course of action that makes it a vacation. Anita decided she ought to leave herself the option a question that deserves or demands discussion of going back to school. She decided not to burn all 1. The burning to accelerate with tires so quickly from a stopped question is, what should he study once he gets there?
The traffic light turned green. The car tires squealed 1. This argument has gone on too long. I will always be sorry that my father and I fought 2. This argument is between your sister and me, and it 2. You really burn the candle at both ends. She should or energy. The expression suggests a ram butting with its horns. I think 1. If you want the professor to do you a favor, just ask notes that the boss had prepared and followed her her.
She managed the presentation by the seat of her pants. The children had never cooked a whole meal or used the washing machine before. The man was desperate to get rid of his car, so I was 1.
The thief leaped from one building to another to able to download it for a song. He almost missed the second building, but he made it by the skin of his teeth. The expression suggests that one can download something by just singing a song. Dan and Mark were swimming in the ocean and spotted a shark coming toward them.
They made it out of the water by the skin by one way or another; by any means possible of their teeth. Margaret was determined to lose 25 pounds before Synonym: The expression connotes that rules or convention may be broken in order to achieve the goal. The pilot might have carried out some preflight in the newspaper. He got the information by word of procedures more quickly, but because he was mouth.
Sometimes you have to use your intuition. The expression probably originates from the idea that the procedure or accepted rules of an established game are set down in a book.
In this classroom, the teacher is in control. The teacher calls the shots, not the students. The lawyer tried to take control of the courtroom, but to confront or hold someone responsible for the judge reminded him that it is the judge who calls some misdeed the shots.
The student tried to make the teacher think that his This idiom stems from use in sports that involve aiming. Calling the shots well 2. I got called on the carpet for being late again.
To be called on the carpet meant that a lower-ranking soldier was 1. They called to be in love with someone, usually someone my bluff and asked to see my report card. The bank robber threatened to shoot the bank guard, 1. This idiom is based on the literal meaning of this phrase as 2.
Sara will never remarry. She will always carry a torch used in card games such as poker. A player who is bluffing for Henry.
American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
We need more people to help get this work done on 1. Some people say Ben is generous with his money, time. Are you going to sit there and do nothing or are but I call a spade a spade. The people in the office were sorry to see Amira leave 2. They are actually very you could always count on her to carry the ball.
Call a spade a spade is a appreciate it request for a more realistic description. Taking your young children to Europe would be like casting pearls before swine—they are too young to appreciate it. That boy leads a charmed life. He always manages to offense avoid getting into trouble. The two men dropped the stolen goods when they heard the police car sirens. Larry has quite a checkered past, but things are on their hands.
The meaning later expanded to being caught getting better. He has a new job and is saving for a in the act of any kind of wrongdoing. I was walking past some stores when a beautiful red The expression originates from the alternating black and white dress in one of the windows caught my eye.
It is generally used in 2. When the girls met their mother in front of the post a negative sense, focusing more on failures and unethical office, they could see her walking towards them in behavior than on successes and ethical behavior. When Peggy came home three hours late, her parents 1. Daniel arrived at the party not expecting to have a were very angry. They chewed her out and told her good time, but he met someone there who caught his she was restricted for two weeks.
The newspaper boy got chewed out by Mrs. James 2. You Compare to: The president told the people that if they wanted the decide? He said that to elect his opponent would 2. Janice is not sure she is going on vacation in August. The chairman of the board died suddenly before The idiom probably originates from another expression, chew he could complete his plans for the company. The expression connotes that trying to change horses in the CHICKEN middle of a stream is not a wise thing to do—it would be better scared; frightened to wait until one is on land.
Are you too chicken to play a trick on the teacher? Karen told her boss that she planned to leave the Compare to: The expression is usually applied to an emotional attitude. The girls wanted to ask the movie star for his The expression originates from the idea of a slate, the autograph, but they got scared and chickened out.
You said you wanted to try parachuting, so we came up in this airplane. The robbers broke into the bank at night and cleaned Compare to: We needed to go to the grocery store after the party. Our guests really cleaned us out! The young man likes to do the same things his father can also be used to describe legal situations where everything does. Now that Ralph has grown up, he and his father are as different as night and day. I told her I wanted to clear characteristics as the block itself.
A chip off the old block the air, but she just turned and walked away from usually refers to a likeness in character or personality. He said he wanted to a feeling of bitterness caused by a sense that one clear the air.
I said good morning to Ed and he snapped back at The expression originates from the idea that when there is me. He sure has a chip on his shoulder today. The 1. He was starting to climb the walls. Now, however, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. A person who is described as climbing on the bandwagon has not joined the 1. The man had done some terrible things in the past, crowd out of commitment, but out of peer pressure. He was trying to make a new life with a clean slate.
The driver was distracted for just a moment and nearly hit another car. The spy had a close shave when she was nearly caught been before in the military camp. She had to climb a tree just to stay hidden. Bruce practiced law in a small law firm, then taught law at a university, then gave up teaching and is The expression probably originates from the idea that a man practicing law again. He has come full circle.
I encourage you to try new things. The expression suggests that in creating a full circle, one 2. Anyone who wants to make the world a better place returns to the starting point. Dorothy is convinced that she is ill and dying 1. The teacher asked the students to stop being silly. Jerry likes to clown around and is always playing The expression probably originates from the idea of a bird practical jokes on everyone.
It is usually used to refer to something bad Compare to: The driver tried to explain his way out of getting a 1. Oh, come off it!
First you ask for juice and then change your mind The expression originates from an English fable in which a and say you want milk. I get it for you, and now you cock and a bull had an unbelievable conversation.
1-2-3 Magic: 3-Step Discipline for Calm, Effective, and Happy Parenting
Come off it! It is very informal and would normally only be used by too scared to do something parents with their children, or between equals. Joel wanted to ask Mr. The soldier got cold feet when the pilot told him it 1.
Is that Tom dancing with all the girls? He used to be was time to parachute out of the airplane. He certainly has come out of his shell. See if you can get her to come abruptly; not gradually out of her shell. Harry decided to stop smoking cigarettes all at once. The expression suggests that a person who is shy or quiet is He decided to quit cold turkey.
You have to stop cold turkey. I really wanted that painting, but it cost a mint, so I 1. Larry should have gotten into trouble for what he decided not to download it. Sending my son to that college will cost me an arm rose. Everyone in the government is accusing everyone Compare to: No one is going to come out of this affair smelling like a rose.
Lynn knew that she was going to be in trouble for coming home late again. The students had sneaked into the classroom to see couch, usually eating snack foods and watching if they could find a copy of the exam, but now they television could hear the teacher coming down the hall toward the room.
Their goose was cooked. My boyfriend likes to sit around watching television all weekend. The expression is used when someone is about to be punished. COOK UP The slang expression suggests that the person has acquired to invent or plan the shape of a potato because of lack of exercise and eating 1.
The prison inmates cooked up a scheme to break out the best of jail. The students in this math class are the best in the The expression connotes scheming, but is not necessarily school. They are the cream of the crop. That computer company never hires mediocre employees. The professor had me cooling my heels in his office while he was on the false, exaggerated tears telephone. They were nothing but crocodile tears. The dogs chased the rabbit into the barn. It was cry false tears to lure their prey.
When the police followed the thief into the back of the market, the thief tried to open the back door but to hope for luck found it locked. The police called out to the thief, 1. Cross your fingers. We have Synonym: He told him not to cry over spilled milk and that another, equally good 2. Spend as much time as you need on it and do a good job. It will be important when the boss decides who Compare to: Sally was offended when she did not immediately receive an invitation to the party.
When she got hers 1. Larry and Nicholas were wrestling on the floor, and the next week, she refused to attend even though Larry pinned Nicholas down. When Nicholas was she really wanted to. She cut off her nose to spite her ready to admit defeat, he cried uncle. Two children were fighting on the playground. When Philip looked at the first question on the girl grabbed the boy by the hair.
He failed the test when he might have passed. He cut off his nose to spite his face. Every Friday, that man comes in to the police station 1. She cut him to the quick. I was cut to the quick. Terry regularly lied to his mother, saying that his The expression suggests the idea of cutting live f lesh the older brother hit him on the head.
Terry did it so quick. The coach accepted 50 boys who wanted to play attacking the sheep. The captain of the ship was trying to assemble a sailing crew. He told all the men who applied that CUT AND DRIED they would have to work long and hard hours, and routine sentence 1 or clear and unequivocal that he would accept only those who could cut the sentence 2 mustard. I was long overdue for one, so Whereas make the grade and up to snuff can be used to describe the matter was cut and dried.
The case was cut and dried. It was clear to everyone people. Her days are numbered. Jeff told me that the diet I was trying was showing with a situation is not indefinite.
It is often used about results, and he asked how much more weight I had to someone facing death or dismissal. He was damning me with faint praise. Alicia told me that she was never able to make her fast asleep old shoes last more than a few years the way I could.
Crystal tried to wake her sons to get them on their She was really trying to point out that my shoes were way to school, but they had stayed out until well old and that hers are not. She damned me with faint past midnight and now they were dead to the world. Nothing could rouse them. The voters know very little about Mr. At the racetrack, we placed our money on a horse to deal her out. He was a dark horse in the race. But I want to play this round of cards, The expression originates from horse racing jargon.
It is often so you can deal me in. It is also used figuratively to realize something that was perhaps already in business ventures and other group activities. When no one else had shown up by 8: Liz must have seen that Tim was a diamond in the 2.
I asked Tom getting married. The boss always thought Sarah had little potential home. See the light simply means to understand, whereas dawn The expression suggests an uncut diamond, which is on someone suggests that one has been blind or slow to unattractive to the eye but which has the potential of understand. The pages of this library book are really dog-eared.
Several centuries ago, it was common practice for lot of people must have borrowed it and read it. The boys from two rival camps decided to compete after extensive fingering and frequent turning. The winning team would get to divide the spoils and the losing team would get nothing. Ed decided to quit his job in business because everyone seemed so dishonest, trying to get his job and steal his clients. It was a dog-eat-dog world. John moved away from New York City to a small town in the Midwest because life in the big city was dog- often apparently without reason eat-dog.
Yesterday, the boss said none of us could take our The expression suggests the idea of animals that are so vacations in June. Then this morning, he did an desperate that they eat their own kind. I contribute to a charity because, when I had very direction. Sally is very loyal to her company because they had faith in her and did her a good turn.
They gave her a is unpleasant sentences 1 and 2 or to try job when no one else would hire her. We decided the time had come to make a decision to be very careful and attentive to detail and act on it. We have to make this written proposal the best one 2.
When the time came to mount an attack on the they receive. I was in a hurry to get this letter to the lawyer. It was 3.
The boys tried their hardest to succeed. They had a more important to get it mailed today than to dot the real do-or-die attitude. The expression can function as a noun phrase sentence 1 , a The expression probably originates from the idea of verb sentence 2 , or an adjective sentence 3.
Summer in the southern United States is 1. Years ago Sam was down and out. He had no job and uncomfortably hot and humid. In July and August, no money. This is a shelter for the down and out of the city. The expression has an astronomical source. It is the time in The expression suggests the idea of being down at the bottom July and August when, in the northern hemisphere, the Dog of society and out of luck.
Star, Sirius, rises in conjunction with the sun. In ancient times it was believed that it was the combined heat of Sirius and the sun that caused the hot weather. One who drew a blank had a ticket worth nothing.
I wonder if getting a new kitten would make us acceptable point feel better. Their parents let them go out on weekend nights, but Synonyms: You may download a car with your savings, but not a unhappy motorcycle. Jeff has been down in the mouth since he lost his job. The expression suggests the idea of drawing a line to mark 2. You look so sad. Why so down in the mouth? I was very embarrassed when I walked into the party practical and rational; unpretentious thinking it was informal and found that everyone except me was dressed to kill.
Marjorie wanted to make a lasting impression on John. When he arrived to take her out, she was 2. We need to raise over one million dollars to fund the behavior. The thousand dollars we have already collected is just a drop in the bucket.
What he paid me is only a drop in the bucket to the deadline compared to what he owes me. CORPS 2. Some students write their best research papers if to expel someone from a group or organization they wait until the night before they are due. They 1. If I suggested to the boss that the company pay for leave them until they are down to the wire.
Its usage includes any group and carries with it a sense of disgrace or rejection. Charles drew a blank when he tried to remember the date of his wedding anniversary. He had to ask his wife when it was.
When I go out to lunch with my colleagues at work, each of us pays for herself. We go Dutch. Ron and Ted love baseball. They know all the players on every team and all the statistics about each one.
They are dyed-in-the-wool baseball fans. Every cloud…!
That Goth at the club freaked me out a bit because he was dressed like a vampire! You must have had a good day at work. Did you get up on the wrong side of bed, or something? It always leads to an argument. Is that true? Not much time left before my exams! There are pros and cons to all of them. Night night! Grab the bags, find your shoes and call a taxi!
We should probably jump ship! It will get easier. You should just let it lie.
I must be losing my touch! On the ball If you look at this English idiom literally, it means to be either standing or sitting on a ball—but who would do that?
I wish I could be more organized. Has she gotten over the death of her dog yet? If someone tells you that you look like a million bucks, you should take it as a huge compliment because it means you look absolutely fabulous and really attractive. I love your dress! His parents bought him everything he wanted and sent him to the best private schools.
To go from rags to riches To go from being poor to having a lot of money. At one time, he was living in a van, but he continued to work hard and eventually became one of the highest-paid comedians in the world.
Pay an arm and a leg for something To pay a lot of money for something. To have sticky fingers To be a thief. He almost beat me! To pony up To pay for something or settle a debt. This is used similarly in everyday conversation, when someone raises a bet or agrees to do more.
Break even To neither gain nor lose money. Break the bank To be very expensive. Similar to being stingy. To go Dutch Everyone pays for their own meal at a restaurant. I paid for my coffee and she paid for her salad. Midas touch To be able to make money easily. This idiom comes from the story of King Midas , who turned everything he touched into gold. Every business she starts becomes very successful. Living hand to mouth To live without a lot of money.
To be loaded To have a lot of money. His family is loaded. Make ends meet To make the money needed to pay for food and bills. I always have enough money for rent and groceries. But the U. Rule of thumb Can thumbs rule or can you literally rule a thumb? If you think about it logically, it means absolutely nothing and makes no sense. These rules of thumb are not based on science or research, and are instead just general principles. Keep your chin up Did you just have a massive fight with your friend?
Did you fail your English finals? Did your team lose the final match? Did you lose your job? In this situation, a supportive friend might tell you to keep your chin up.
Find your feet Is it possible to lose your feet? Cool as a cucumber Cucumbers have a refreshing taste and leave you with a cool, calm feeling. Compare apples and oranges Apples are very different from oranges both in looks and taste. Eat like a bird How much does a bird eat? Not very much, right? Eat like a horse Now, a horse is much bigger than a bird. So how much do you think a horse eats?
Packed like sardines What do you see when you open up a can of sardines? Yes, the fish crammed inside the can.He said that to elect his opponent would 2. They say 2. A hand. Definite plans have not been made yet.
A Reference Guide to American English Idioms
That fellow never wastes your time talking about The expression is usually used in a negative sense to describe unimportant things. There is a growing black market for consumer goods than they can chew.
The scientists thought they had discovered a source flies off the handle for the slightest reason. The banks have closed and I need to stop at the supermarket on 1.
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