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Idiomatic expressions

IDIOMS
absent-minded: forgetful (distrado) all ears: eager to listen to someone (todo odos) all of a sudden: suddenly, without advance warning (repentinamente) beat around the bush: speak indirectly or evasively (dar vueltas para hacer algo) behind the times: old fashioned (anticuado) blow one's own horn: praise oneself (fanfarronear, hacer alarde) brand new: absolutely new (flamante) catch one's eye: attract one's attention (llamar la atencin) catch (someone) red-handed: find someone in the middle of doing something wrong (atrapar a alguien con las manos en la masa) change horses in midstream: make new plans or choose a new leader in the middle of an important activity (cambiar de caballo en la mitad del ro) change (one's) mind: change one`s decision (cambiar de opinin) come across: find something or meet someone by chance (encontrarse repentinamente con algo o alguien) come into fashion: become fashionable (ponerse de moda) crocodile tears: a show of sorrow that is not really felt (lgrimas de cocodrilo) cry over spilt milk: cry or complain about something that has already happened (llorar sobre leche derramada)

EXAMPLES
My grandfather is very absentminded and often forgets his key. Okay, I'm all ears, please tell me about the party. All of a sudden it became cloudy and began to rain. Stop beating around the bush and give us your final decision. My aunt is a little behind the times. He is always blowing his own horn and is very annoying at times. He was finally able to buy a brandnew car. I tried to catch her eye but she didn`t notice me. The policeman caught the boy redhanded when he was stealing the candy.

They decided to change horses in midstream and that is probably why they lost the election. He changed his mind and said that he would not go to the movie tonight. I came across an interesting story in the newspaper the other day. She says that although bell-bottom pants have come into fashion again she will never wear them. He said that he was very sorry but his tears were just crocodile tears. Don't cry over spilt milk. You can never change the past.

die out: die or disappear slowly until all gone (desaparecer, extinguirse) doll up: dress in fancy clothes (emperifollarse, vestirse de moda) do without: manage without something (arreglrselas sin algo) dressed to the nines (teeth): dressed elegantly (elegantemente vestido, "hasta los dientes") dress up: put on one's best clothes (vestirse formalmente) drop (someone) a line: write or mail a note or letter to someone (escribirle a alguien unas lneas) easy-going: tolerant and relaxed (tolerante, de fcil convivencia) eat like a bird: eat very little (comer como un pajarito) eat like a horse: eat a lot (comer como un caballo) eat one's words: admit being wrong in something one has said, retract one's statement (tragarse las palabras) end up: finish, finally do something (terminar por) face the music: accept the consequences of something (enfrentar los problemas) fall behind: fail to keep up with work or studies or payments, etc. (atrasarse en el trabajo, estudios, pagos, etc.) fall in love with: begin to love someone (enamorarse de) fed up with: disgusted or bored with someone or something (harto de) figure out: try to understand or solve (entender, darse cuenta)

Dinosaurs died out millions of years ago. She was all dolled up for the party at the downtown hotel If there is no sugar, we'll have to do without. The stars were all dressed to the nines (teeth) during the Academy Awards ceremony. He decided to dress up for dinner at the restaurant. She promised that she would drop me a line when she gets to Singapore. He has a very easy-going management style. He eats like a bird. That's why he can`t put on enough weight to join the football team. He eats like a horse but he never puts on any weight. He was forced to eat his words after his boss proved that he was wrong.

We ended up going to the restaurant after the movie last night. He is going to have to face the music sooner or later. He fell behind with his homework at the beginning of the term and had problems throughout the year. I fell in love with her the first time that I saw her at the restaurant. I think that he is getting fed up with the constant demands of his boss. He finally figured out how to use the new video recorder.

fit as a fiddle: in good athletic condition or health (como un violn) fix someone up with someone: help someone get a date by arranging a meeting for the two (arreglar algo con alguien) for all the world: for anything, for any price (por nada del mundo) for better or worse: depending on how one looks at the matter, with good or bad effects (para bien o para mal) from hand to hand: from one person to another and another (de mano en mano) from the bottom of one's heart: with great feeling, sincerely (de todo corazn, sinceramente) from now on: from this moment forward (de aqu en ms) from scratch: from the very beginning (de cero, de la nada) from time to time: occasionally (cada tanto, de vez en cuando) drop (someone) a line: write or mail a note or letter to someone (escribirle a alguien unas lneas) easy-going: tolerant and relaxed (tolerante, de fcil convivencia) eat like a bird: eat very little (comer como un pajarito) eat like a horse: eat a lot (comer como un caballo) eat one's words: admit being wrong in something one has said, retract one's statement (tragarse las palabras)

Her grandfather is 92 years old but he is as fit as a fiddle. I tried to fix my sister up with a date with my friend but she refused me.

For all the world I do not know what he is trying to tell me with the notes that he writes For better or worse he has decided to quit his job and go to live in Brazil.

The plate of food went from hand to hand until finally it was all finished. I thanked him from the bottom of my heart for helping my daughter when she was sick. From now on I will study Italian every day. He decided to build the house from scratch. We go to that restaurant from time to time. She promised that she would drop me a line when she gets to Singapore. He has a very easy-going management style. He eats like a bird. That's why he can`t put on enough weight to join the football team. He eats like a horse but he never puts on any weight. He was forced to eat his words after his boss proved that he was wrong.

end up: finish, finally do something (terminar por) face the music: accept the consequences of something (enfrentar los problemas) fall behind: fail to keep up with work or studies or payments, etc. (atrasarse en el trabajo, estudios, pagos, etc.) fall in love with: begin to love someone (enamorarse de) fed up with: disgusted or bored with someone or something (harto de) figure out: try to understand or solve (entender, darse cuenta) fit as a fiddle: in good athletic condition or health (como un violn) fix someone up with someone: help someone get a date by arranging a meeting for the two (arreglar algo con alguien) for all the world: for anything, for any price (por nada del mundo) for better or worse: depending on how one looks at the matter, with good or bad effects (para bien o para mal) from hand to hand: from one person to another and another (de mano en mano) from the bottom of one's heart: with great feeling, sincerely (de todo corazn, sinceramente) from now on: from this moment forward (de aqu en ms) from scratch: from the very beginning (de cero, de la nada) from time to time: occasionally (cada

We ended up going to the restaurant after the movie last night. He is going to have to face the music sooner or later. He fell behind with his homework at the beginning of the term and had problems throughout the year. I fell in love with her the first time that I saw her at the restaurant. I think that he is getting fed up with the constant demands of his boss. He finally figured out how to use the new video recorder. Her grandfather is 92 years old but he is as fit as a fiddle. I tried to fix my sister up with a date with my friend but she refused me.

For all the world I do not know what he is trying to tell me with the notes that he writes For better or worse he has decided to quit his job and go to live in Brazil.

The plate of food went from hand to hand until finally it was all finished. I thanked him from the bottom of my heart for helping my daughter when she was sick. From now on I will study Italian every day. He decided to build the house from scratch. We go to that restaurant from time to

tanto, de vez en cuando)


A A blessing in disguise

time.

Something which seems like a problem, which has an unexpected beneficial effect or becomes an asset to you. That sprained foot turns out to be a blessing in disguise; you weren"t in the bus crash because of that. A chip on your shoulder This is a grudge for a previous experience. It can apply to people, or subjects. He"s got a real chip on his shoulder about the industry retirement schemes. Actions speak louder than words Not passive, active expression of deeds based on opinion or situation. Often relates to a response to debate or indecision. Actions do speak louder than words. He just went and did that. A dime a dozen Common, cheap, substandard. The value is the idiom, which is usually derogatory, reducing the perceived value of something or someone. People like that are a dime a dozen, always trying to sell you something. A doubting Thomas Derived from the New Testament, refers to the Apostle Thomas, famous for asking questions and needing explanations to be convinced. A true doubting Thomas, he insisted on seeing some proof of the whole idea. A drop in the ocean A very small part of something. The statement is used to put things into a perspective, generally as a proportionate statement. Their revenue is a drop in the ocean, compared to the debts. A fair-weather friend A person who"s a friend during the good times, but not the hard times. Talk about fair-weather friend, I mentioned my problems with my phone bill and he disappeared for six months. A fool and his money are soon parted

This idiom is basically a truism. It means stupidity costs money. Like many idioms, the subject of the idiom is sometimes contracted. If you use the phrase A fool and his money, the rest of it is redundant, or can be used in context. A fool and his money that was a dumb investment, and it did part him from his money. A friend in need is a friend indeed A friend who"s around when you need them is a real friend. In some cases idioms are reshaped into the sentence structure: That was a friend indeed, and was around when he was needed. A good man is hard to find This idiom operates as a context, usually related to the overall situation being described. Nobody wanted to do anything Talk about a good man being hard to find, I literally had to use a phone book. A hair of the dog Doing something which made you feel terrible as a cure for it. Usually used in relation to too much alcohol, but also used as a general expression for a repeat experience of something you did. You shouldn"t have drunk so much; have a hair of the dog, see if you can face natural light and oxygen before you go anywhere. A herd of elephants Noisy, unsubtle, obvious. Something which is impossible to overlook. I have a two year old and a four year old, and they"d put a herd of elephants out of work. A house divided From the statement A house divided against itself cannot stand. It means division brings weakness, and unity is required for strength. They were living in a house divided, nobody could get anything done to deal with the situation. A legend in his own mind Delusive person with inflated opinion of himself. That guy"s a legend in his own mind; if he can do that job I"ll be astonished. A penny saved is a penny earned The value of keeping your money or property. The implication is you don"t have to earn that money or property again. So she just didn"t buy the car; a penny saved, for sure.

A picture paints a thousand words Used to show the value of the obvious, something where a single image or statement describes something fully without need for elaboration. One look at him, talk about a picture painting a thousand words! A piece of cake Easy, simple to do, no difficulties. It was a piece of cake to install the new kitchen. A slap on the wrist A minor penalty. The implication is that the punishment was insufficient. They trashed a whole car park, and got a slap on the wrist for doing that. A taste of your/his/her/their own medicine Describes someone receiving the same treatment or experience they have inflicted on others. They got a real taste of their own medicine in that game, the other side"s forwards ran straight through them. A toss up Based on literally tossing a coin to make a decision. An equal chance of one of two things happening It was really a toss up whether Alan or Bernard would get that job. A world of their own Insular, not connected to the reality of others. Can be derogatory or a comment on ideals and the perspectives of the subjects of the statement. They live in a world of their own, don"t know what"s going on around them. They live in a world of their own, but they do seem happy. An acquired taste Expression which refers to an unusual or distasteful experience, almost always sarcastically. Understanding mobile phone plans and bills is an acquired taste. An albatross around your neck Derived from Samuel Taylor Coleridge"s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, it means a lifetime curse. That car is an albatross around your neck. And men go down to the sea in ships

This statement means that some people do dangerous things as a career. He had to do that, it"s like men go down to the sea in ships, some risks have to be taken in his work. An own goal Doing something which counts against yourself. His education policy turned out to be a real own goal, teachers and parents flooded the media with complaints. Any port in a storm The expression means getting out of danger any way you can, and going somewhere safer, without being choosy. We saw the hurricane, and hid in the basement of an abandoned house, any port in a storm. A rolling stone gathers no moss The idiom is based on the idea that something in motion doesn"t stagnate or collect problems. Like they say, a rolling stone gathers no moss: He wasn"t going to hang around waiting years for them to do something when the business was in trouble. Aprs moi, la deluge! This is sometimes (hopefully) a sarcastic idiom, meaning after the speaker goes, the world will end. Literally based on the Biblical Flood, it means After me, the deluge. Like I said, Aprs moi, la deluge! I knew they were going to bring in an outside auditor for that business. As it was, and will ever be This is a fatalistic, often cynical statement of the unchanging nature of something. As it was, and will ever be Sausages! A shot/stab in the dark An attempt based on the chance of achieving something while unsure of the possibilities of success. The investment was a shot in the dark, but it paid off very well. As the story/song goes A familiar series of events, something the listener will know So, as the story goes, he eventually proposed. A stitch in time saves nine Doing something before hand, meaning in time, saves having to do much more work later.

Yeah, turned out we did a stitch in time, and we"d already done the work before the boss wanted it. So we didn"t have to do that as well, when the big rush job came in the same day. Idioms alphabetic list A-B Adding Fuel To The Fire: Aggravating a situation by making it worse. He was adding fuel to the fire about complaining about his toast while the kitchen was burning down. Against The Clock: Usually refers to working or doing something against a deadline, where the time is counting against you. We're working against the clock here, we've only got an hour to do 300 orders. All Bark And No Bite: A person who talks far more aggressively than they act. That guy's all bark and no bite, he's been talking about fighting this for years, and never yet done a thing about it. All Greek to me: Said when the person doesn't understand the subject. We were talking about fishing, but they got on to marine biology and it was all Greek to me. All In The Same Boat: Everyone in the same situation, with the same problems. We're all in the same boat, trying to deal with the economic mess. An Arm And A Leg: Too expensive, more than it's worth. Often used to warn people against doing something. Everything with that supplier costs an arm and a leg, so we have to find another source. An Axe To Grind: To have an axe to grind means to have a situation to sort out where the person has a grievance. Look, I've got an axe to grind here, because so far I haven't had a chance to do any of this. Apple of My Eye: Favorite, the best of a group of people or set of subjects.

That guitar was the apple of my eye, the best I've ever seen. As High As A Kite: This is usually a slang term in modern usage, referring to people who are drunk. In older usage it was also a term for happiness. Modern usage: No point in talking to him when he's as high as a kite. Old usage: I got the job, and I was high as a kite with happiness and relief. At The Drop Of A Hat: Instantly, immediately. They expect us to do all this at the drop of a hat. B Back Seat Driver: Someone who's not actually doing the job but giving advice and instructions. What we really needed on the legal team was a back seat driver, wasting time. Back To Square One: Derived from board games, this refers to returning to the start of something. So after all that they wound up back to Square One. Back To The Drawing Board: Returning to the planning stage, after previous failure. Having been unsuccessful in persuading the car salesman to accept lima beans, it was back to the drawing board for another scheme. Baker's Dozen: From the old baking tradition of baking thirteen loaves in a batch. We wanted 12, but we got a bakers dozen. Barking Up The Wrong Tree: Approaching a subject the wrong way, getting the basics wrong. If you think you're going to get nicer bills by complaining to the postman, you're barking up the wrong tree. Bats, Batty Acting strangely, mad.

If you think I'm going to that party, you're batty! Beat A Dead Horse: Trying to do something about an unchangeable fact. If you think you're going to get a refund on that meal, you're beating a dead horse. Beating Around The Bush: Not dealing with the major issues, not talking about the real subject. Stop beating about the bush! It's a giraffe, not a toaster! Beatup (in relation to subject) Overstatement, exaggerating facts, making something unimportant seem important. That new celebrity is a total beatup, all photos, no person. Be careful what you wish for The expression has a slightly superstitious idiom, meaning beware of what you say. The original idea was that the gods would hear you and send you your wish in a way you didn't want. Be careful what you wish for, that guy could be your new boss. Bend Over Backwards: Go to great lengths to do something. Sometimes refers to attempts to assist people. They bent over backwards to get the flight arrangements right. Beware of Greeks bearing gifts Dates from the Trojan War, referring to the Wooden Horse of Troy. It means, literally, beware of anything which comes from an enemy. Why would a person who you've always loathed give you a present? Beware of Greeks bearing gifts, I'd say. Between A Rock And A Hard Place: A lousy choice between tough situations. They had a choice between bankruptcy and a liquidator; talk about being between a rock and a hard place. Bite Off More Than You Can Chew: Attempting something which is beyond your abilities. You're biting off more than you can chew, trying to make politicians do anything just because it's the law.

Bite the bullet Derived from old surgical process where patients were operated upon without anesthetic. Patients were given a bullet to bite to grit their teeth against the pain. The intention was to make sure the patient didn't hurt themselves by uncontrollable movements of their teeth and biting their tongue off. Modern usage of the expression means to accept an unpleasant situation, so you can do something about it. Bite the bullet, ring them up and tell them. Bite Your Tongue: The expression comes from old usage, where the speaker is told to bite their tongue as a punishment for saying something out of place, or something they should be ashamed of saying. You bite your tongue! How dare you say that! Black and blue Bruised and beaten. Often refers to a person's situation or condition. They came out of that meeting black and blue from the flak and criticism from the shareholders. Blind as a bat Can't see things properly, doesn't know what they're looking at. They were blind as bats about buying all that expensive rubbish. Blindsided Hit from an unexpected direction, or a direction where it wasn't possible to see something coming. They were completely blindsided by the price rise. Blood Is Thicker Than Water: Refers to family ties, and situations where loyalty to family is more important than other considerations. It was a dumb thing to do, and he shouldn't have done it, but blood is thicker than water, so I had to help him get out of the mess. Blood oath An exaggerated expression of extreme commitment to a statement or cause. Derived from old methods of swearing oaths of loyalty. Australian version of expression means something confirming a statement to be absolutely true. Literal version: They swore a blood oath to get rid of their manager. Australian version: Blood oath I did the auditing properly. Bloody minded

Perverse, contrary way of thinking. A bloody minded person is someone trying to cause problems by their way of dealing with an issue or a situation. It was a bit bloody minded of his ex girlfriend to send them a wreath to their wedding. Blue Sad, moody. Expression relates to the blues, which was famous for its songs about troubling emotional situations. You really do look blue today. Blue Moon: A rare, almost impossible, occurrence in a long period of time. It was one of those things you wouldn't expect to see in a blue moon, a duck with freckles. Bolt from the blue Refers to a lightning bolt out of a blue sky. Struck out of nowhere. Hit by something very extraordinary, and shocking. Winning the lottery was like a bolt from the blue for someone who'd been poor for so long. Break A Leg: Originally a theatrical expression wishing good luck with a performance, still used in acting and now in other performing arts, and as a metaphor in common usage. Job interview? Break a leg! Buy A Lemon: Originally related to a postwar American car which became famous as The Lemon, hated by motorists and the auto industry. Now relates to a bad product of any kind. Look, no kidding, that thing is a lemon. Buy a name brand, at least. Buy the farm: Die. American expression based on the farmer's chance of owning his farm, which wouldn't be until the farmer died. Can also be used referring to the end of something. Fred bought the farm last week. C Can't Cut The Mustard: Negative idiom, refers to being unable to achieve a result or in social contexts to make an impression

All his fancy sales talk just couldn't cut the mustard with those people. Carrying the weight of the world Severely burdened person, carrying their troubles and problems. Jim's been carrying the weight of the world, recently, with all his problems. Cast a pall To introduce a negative element into an otherwise happy occasion. Fred's sudden crisis really cast a pall over his daughter's wedding. Cast a shadow This is an idiom which refers to a different degree of situation and usage than Cast a pall, and isn't quite the same idiom. The war in Europe cast a shadow over the world. Cast Iron Stomach: A person with strong digestion, untroubled by eating or drinking things which would affect others. Jack's got a cast iron stomach, I've seen him eat two meals at once. Cast pearls before swine To give something beautiful or valuable to those who don't appreciate it. Shakespeare for financiers talk about casting pearls before swine! Cat among the pigeons Introduce an element of danger or risk into the environment. The cat, as the symbolic predator among the harmless pigeons, can be a person, information, or a new development in a situation. The idiom creates an expectation of further, dangerous, developments. Putting a real expert into the hedge fund was really setting the cat among the pigeons. Catty person Negative expression referring to an unpredictable person, whose temper and behavior is sometimes vicious. I don't know if you could call Mary a catty person, but we know she has claws. Chalk and cheese Two quite different things. A duck and a horse are chalk and cheese, if you ask me.

Charley Horse: American expression referring to a painful tightening of calf tendons. I've had Charley Horse a few times, and I'm in no hurry to repeat the experience. Chew the fat Talk about something, or things generally. We were just chewing the fat about the business situation. Chew a person out: Originally a military expression. Verbal lecture to someone detailing their mistakes. John really got chewed out by the manager about how he handled that account. Chow Down: To go and get food. OK, people, let's chow down! Close but no Cigar: To nearly achieve something or get something right. The cigar was once a prize for contestants in games. Close but no cigar, Albert, it's E=mc squared. Cock and Bull Story: A story which isn't believed by the speaker or person describing it. It was pure cock and bull, that story about the hedgehog orchestra, I'm sure of that. Come a cropper Land on your backside, literally or metaphorically. They tried to find the money for that project, and really came a cropper, their credit rating suffered when they got knocked back by the bank. Come Hell Or High Water: Regardless of any kind of obstacle. Idiom refers to Fire and Water, a traditional expression meaning the same thing. Come hell or high water, we're going to get this done, and get it done today. Come again?

Come again is usually a conversational idiom, where the speaker, as the listener to a statement, is requesting someone to repeat the statement, and may also mean to make it comprehensible. Come again? What flood are we talking about? Come off it Cease with an action or taking a position on a subject. The idiom is usually from a person who is telling another to cease. You want us to relay the whole brick wall? Come off it! Come off your high horse Stop taking an exaggerated position of authority or superior social position, usually regarding a subject or a statement of position. Who do you think you are, telling me to learn to be an intellectual? Come off your high horse! Come on down American expression derived from game shows in which contestants were told to Come On Down. This is a satiric expression, denoting the person and/or the situation don't deserve to be taken seriously. Yeah, it's open season for everybody here apparently, so come on down! Cookie (person) American slang expression which has gone into general usage as a metaphor for a person. Originally referred to females as cookies. The word always has some descriptor with it. Alan's actually a very tough cookie, in his business. Cool (things, people, situations) The word has multiple uses as an idiom. In its modern context, it was originally a Jazz expression meaning good, acceptable, or a general positive. The word developed into general usage to include another, older European idiom, meaning a person who was cool under pressure. It also means someone who plays a tough situation well, which is a hybrid of both basic meanings. You'd have to say that was a pretty cool, calm and collected performance, given the situation. Cool off, cooling off period This idiom has both a vernacular and a legal meaning which is used as a non-legal idiom. It means, basically, in the same context as Cool, Calm down, referring by implication to the opposite idiom, a hot temper. It also refers to a legal requirement in contracts and sales for a mandatory period for review and reconsideration before proceeding with the next phase of the process. That version of the expression has also become a common usage. I think we need a cooling off period before we discuss this problem between our clients any further.

Crack Someone Up: To make someone laugh excessively. Can literally mean hysterical, uncontrollable laughter. There can be a negative version of the statement, when it means the idea of someone's statement is ridiculous. You crack me up. You think I'm going to pay two million dollars for a box of matches? Cross Your Fingers: Superstitious idiom, refers to crossing your fingers for luck with a problem. The fingers are literally crossed, in sign language. Cross your fingers, folks, I'm going to try to land this thing. Cry Over Spilt Milk: The spilt milk analogy refers to a situation where the damage is done, and irrecoverable, like trying to use milk after it's spilt and contaminated. This is spilt milk, we have to move on and stop dwelling on the past. Cry Wolf: Refers to an old European fairy tale, where the lead character cried wolf, raising false alarms, and was eventually eaten by a real wolf because nobody believed him when he yelled for help. The idiom is a warning in concept. Don't cry wolf unless you've got a real problem, we can't waste time and resources on that. Cup Of Joe: American mid 20th century slang expression, refers to coffee. Have a cup of Joe and relax a bit. Curiosity Killed The Cat: This idiom means that inquiring into things can be dangerous. It's usually used in context with trying to find out the facts of a situation. Could be a case of curiosity killing the cat, because they didn't have that problem until they started checking out the company's finances. Cute, cutesy (person, thing) Cute in these contexts is a sarcastic expression, meaning pretending to be something nice, when it isn't. The government took a cutesy approach to the unemployment figures, and the public wasn't impressed. Cut the Ice Make the first move in a new situation.

He cut the ice by sending them some flowers and chocolates. Cut to the Chase: Get to the facts, stop avoiding issues, or get back on track. Let's cut to the chase, and leave out all these sidetracks and digressions. D Dark Horse: Derived from racing slang. The dark horse is the one that isn't expected to win, but is a possible threat. Pegasus was the dark horse in the race, but he won strongly. Dead as a doornail: Literally, as dead as something with no life in it by definition. The whole subject was dead as a doornail by the time he'd finished speaking. Dead Ringer: Exactly the same in every way, in terms of appearance. Can also be used to describe abstract situations. This case is a dead ringer for the Smith Jones fraud case, same methods, same spiel to the clients. Devil's Advocate: A person putting the negative position, whether they agree with it or not. This is usually done to ensure the negative aspects of a position are examined. I guess I'll have to be the devil's advocate here; what happens if this doesn't work, and we don't get that result? Dog Days of Summer: The hot days of summer, referring to an old expression regarding dogs in hot weather, panting and breathless. The dog days are here, I'd say. Done like a dinner Usually refers to sports, or someone who was decisively defeated in some way. The local baseball team played an away match last week, and they got done like a dinner. Don't count your chickens before they hatch: The idiom means don't plan or take actions on the basis of things that haven't yet happened. Let's not count our chickens here, before we get confirmation.

Don't Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth: This is an advisory idiom, derived from the old horse trading tradition of checking a horse's teeth to check the horse's age and health before buying the horse. The saying advises not getting too picky or critical about a gift of something either real or metaphorical, because it costs nothing. I don't think we should look this particular gift horse in the mouth too closely, because we don't have to take any risks ourselves. Don't Put All Your Eggs In One Basket: Traditional idiom. To over commit oneself to one thing or course of action, and have no other options. The risk is that if that's a mistake, the person loses everything. Putting all our eggs in one basket is a really bad idea, because we don't know what can go wrong. Doozy: American slang term, usually negative, meaning exceptional, remarkable or unusually difficult. That car was a real doozy. Didn't even get out of the car yard before it broke down. Down To The Wire: Till the last moment, or the final action. When used as an expression regarding something in progress, it means the matter is undecided, and the outcome is unpredictable. This football game is going to be down to the wire, scores are locked and it's anybody's game at this stage. Drastic Times Call For Drastic Measures: The nature of a critical situation demands a response in keeping with the seriousness of the situation. These really were drastic circumstances for Sue and Betty, so they had to take drastic measures to make sure they had enough money. Drink like a fish: Exaggerated statement to emphasize overdrinking. He drinks like a fish, all right, to the point he looks like a fish. Drive someone up the wall: Process of infuriating, irritating, or driving someone else mad. The idiom refers to the way someone behaves, or a situation which is affecting them like that. This particular client is driving me up the wall with all that extra paperwork. Dropping Like Flies: Expression from humorous to exaggerated descriptor. Refers to fatalities, literally, but can be deliberate overstatement.

They tried the salad dressing, and they're dropping like flies out there. Dry Run: Test, rehearsal, practice attempt. We did a dry run on the new sales technique, and it didn't really work. Idioms alphabetic list E-H E Early To Bed, Early To Rise Makes A Man Healthy, Wealthy, And Wise: Traditional moral saying meaning good practices benefit your life. Well, early to bed, early to rise; I'm off to get some sleep, I've got a busy day tomorrow. Earn While You Learn: Modern expression used to describe entry level paid training. Earn while you learn! Become an apprentice, get paid while you're learning the trade, get a life and a career! Easy Peasy: Rhyming English children's expression, meaning very easy. Just throw the ball for the dog. It's easy peasy. Ebb and Flow: Metaphor for a cycle of events, using the tides ebb and flow as the analogy. The seasonal ebb and flow of the business was an obvious factor in their stock orders. Ecce Homo: Latin, ecclesiastical and academic philosophical expression literally meaning Such Is Man, used in context with human conditions or individual character. Of course, he didn't pay any attention to the professionals. Ecce Homo. Edge, Edgy: The expressions are part of a descriptor of a person, situation, or a descriptor, referring to either a state of risk, the edge of danger, or an edgy character, who is always sensitive or touchy. He not only lives on the edge, he's a naturally edgy person. Edifice (personal):

A faade maintained by a person as a public image. So when he started swearing like a trooper, the whole edifice of the sophisticated person came crashing down. Edit (descriptor): A selective use of materials or information. The implication is that not all facts are being revealed. This is an obvious edit of the situation, because there are a lot of relevant facts missing in this report. Eighty Six: To Eighty Six something is to get rid of it, lose it deliberately. We can't take it with us, so eighty six the thing. Eighty Eight: Jazz slang for a full size piano. Liberace on the eighty eight is an expression used to describe a showy but good pianist putting on a big show. Eke Out: Old usage, meaning to use your resources sparingly under difficult conditions. We'll just have to eke out the money we have until the big money comes in. Elephant's Memory (person): Person whose memory of events is exceptional, or in some cases exceptionally annoying. Talk about an elephant's memory, he remembers things I said twenty years ago, and still takes them personally. Elevator stare: To look someone up and down. The looking up and down is considered sexist in some contexts. The elevator stare he gave her wasn't much appreciated, I'd say. Elvis has left the building: Refers to the fans staying behind in a building to get Elvis Presley's autograph. When used in another context, it means the show's over, the performers have gone, go home. Right, folks, Elvis has left the building, that's it, we're closing. Emissary (sarcastic): Sarcastic title given to a person bringing information from another source.

We received an emissary from the green grocer, explaining why all our fruit was rotten. Emo: Modern music form, meaning emotionally charged music. It's very emo material, lots of teenage angst. Enough Is Enough: Statement is made in context, denoting an end to an issue is required. Exactly how long are we going to just sit here asking for an answer and not getting one? Enough is enough! Enemy Of The State: Derived from totalitarian propaganda usage, refers (usually humorously) to a person who is being described as a risk to the nation. Yeah, well, the chef is more or less considered to be an enemy of the state. Episode, Episodic (personal related events): This is an idiom which sets a scene as a chapter in someone's life. I had a series of romantic episodes, all different, but all special. Equalizer: American slang term, originally meaning gun. Now means a weapon, or some method of getting on equal terms with a stronger opponent. This audit report should do as an equalizer, they can't bully the figures. Errant ways: Literally, this expression means habitually mistaken ways of doing things, but can also be used as a sarcastic statement. According to this brochure, I should change my errant ways and buy anything they think I should buy, because they apparently know more about what I like than I do. Esper: Person with extra sensory perception. She's just plain exception, a real esper, someone who can sense things without you even telling her there's a problem. Ethereal Person: Person who appears unreal in some way, or unrealistic.

I know artists are supposed to be a bit strange, but they're really ethereal people, like they come from some other reality. Ethnic Cleansing: Genocide committed against a specific group of people. Usage has extended to create other contexts describing actions in terms of getting rid of people. So what's this, ethnic cleansing of everyone who disagrees with you? Even Stevens: Rhyming children's expression, meaning level in a game or personal affair. OK, you give me that marble, and we're Even Stevens. Ever (descriptor): Common in many languages, the use of the word Ever creates an idiom automatically, when used in context with another descriptor. The ever-omniscient local council has sent us a letter saying the garbage will be picked up on Wednesday instead of Thursday, when they've been doing it on Thursday for years. Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining: All bad things have an element of good in them. Every cloud does have a silver lining, I'll have to do without seeing that guy's face ever again. Every Dog Has His Day: Even the lowliest of people will have a moment of glory. So George finally got that promotion! Every dog has his day. Every Picture Tells A Story: Relates to the content of images, providing subjective information and creating a scene for extrapolating a story. The kitten and the puppy picture told a story worth telling. Everything But The Kitchen Sink: All possible efforts have been made, every resource used. We've thrown everything but the kitchen sink at this problem. Exception Proves The Rule:

A situation where a common phenomenon doesn't happen, so the fact it's an exception to the norm proves the norm is the usual event, because the example is obviously unusual. Often said as a joke. OK, so this duck flies north for the winter, and all the others fly south. The exception proves the rule. Excuse language: Being polite before or after using a swear word or obscenity or something which could be interpreted as obscene. in conversation. Some use of the expression is facetious, or has another interpretation. I was reading about the Wall Street (excuse language) problems yesterday. Excuse me: The original meaning of Excuse Me was to indicate your intention to be polite when addressing someone. That meaning has now been inverted in American usage to mean the exact opposite, indicating annoyance sarcastically. Excuse me, do you have the time? So I shouldn't ask you the time? Well excuse me! F Fair go: Australian expression meaning natural justice. Give the new starter a fair go, this isn't that easy to learn. Fandango (descriptor): The expression means an overdone, ornate, performance or action. Oh, yeah, it was quite a fandango, directors making press statements, the whole production number. Fantastic Plastic: 1960s expression, meaning artificial fantasy, usually in a negative or sarcastic sense. It's just fantastic plastic, a trash can wearing a silly hat. Fathom (verb): A fathom is a nautical measure of depth. To Fathom something means to attempt to find the depth of a statement or person. I don't know quite how to fathom the way she reacted to my question. Fault Finding (person, mission): An exercise in finding mistakes and flaws. As an idiom, it's used as a descriptor in a negative sense, indicating the fault finding is ignoring the positives.

He's a fault finding sort of person on a fault finding mission, and he won't pay any attention to anything that's going right. Faux Pas: French expression meaning social blunder. Wearing live rabbits instead of clothes to the Academy Awards was considered rather a faux pas. Fear And Loathing: Media expression meaning negative public interest or professional sentiment. Fear and loathing is driving the markets following the latest revelations of insider trading. Feast Your Eyes: To have a good look at something. Feast your eyes on this camel. Feeding Frenzy: Derived from sharks feeding behavior, now extended to describing human eating habits, or stock market actions. The minute the hors d'oeuvres were served, there was a feeding frenzy. Fey (person): Scottish expression, either positive or negative in context, meaning mystic person. So tell me, O fey person, is this a phone bill, or a message from beyond the grave? Field Day: A day out in the open, unrestricted. Often means people acting as they please in relation to a topic or an issue. The press had a field day with the scandal. File Under Miscellaneous: Extra or uncategorized information, don't quite know what to do with it. We're an electrical wholesaler, and you're telling us where we can get free ducks. I think we'll file that under miscellaneous. Filler Material: Extra, unnecessary material in music, prose, or products, used to make up volume. The novel was just about all filler material, with girl meets boy as the story, such as it was.

Finding Your Feet: To gain confidence in what you're doing. You're obviously finding your feet, that's a good job you're doing there. Fine Feathered Friend: Sarcastic expression referring derisively to a person as wearing the plumage of a bird, like an old society dress ornament. Our fine feathered friend here apparently thinks we're made of money. Finesse (character, method): French expression, used to describe smooth handling of a situation, and/or the character of a person's actions. It showed a lot of finesse on Barry's part to talk them into that wholesale deal. Finger lickin' good: American expression made famous by Kentucky Fried Chicken, now in common usage meaning tasty, sometimes sarcastic. Grilled cardboard, talk about finger lickin' good Fingers In (the pie, the till, etc.): To have one's fingers in something means to be improperly involved in obtaining money or serving one's own interests. The obvious suggestion from these figures is that someone has their fingers in the till. Fixed In Your Ways: A person with set habits, unchanging. You're too fixed in your ways, people just don't work like that any more. Flagging: Flagging has two quite unrelated, different meanings: 1. 2. 1. 2. Flagging spirits or situation, meaning a deteriorating process. Flagging something, drawing attention to it. Need I say their enthusiasm was flagging after 20 miles solid hiking I'd like to flag something for your consideration.

Flash In The Pan: Brief conspicuous event, impermanent, temporary fame.

They were one hit wonders, just a flash in the pan. Flashy: Negative idiom, meaning too conspicuous, attention getting. Gerry wears very flashy clothing, I think it's actually pretty tasteless. Flea Market: A market where you can buy goods of any kind. The local flea market will have those things, and cheaper, for sure. Flesh and Blood: Refers to several separate idioms: 1. 2. 3. 1. 2. 3. Living things One's own family Comparison in relation to circumstances Flesh and blood will only tolerate so much. After all, a cousin is our own flesh and blood. It was flesh and blood against a natural disaster.

Flight Of Fancy: Imaginative exercise in logic or thinking. This may be just a flight of fancy, but I think we can put water in glasses, too. Flushed With Success: In a mental state where previous success has led to the subsequent action. Flushed with success, they went to the pub to celebrate. Flogging (sales): Old English slang, meaning selling something, can be a negative descriptor, if the context refers to inferior products still flogging that rubbish? Flogging (a subject, metaphor): Overdoing your subject, or overusing a metaphor. I think three hours flogging a metaphor about goldfish is enough, really. Foam at the Mouth:

Angry expression, refers to ferocious dogs foaming at the mouth. Also used as descriptor for state of mind. On the phone, he was furious! I could hear him foam at the mouth! Fodder (negative context): The term refers to information as stock feed, denigrating its content, and implying the information is for animals. Reality is just fodder for uneducated people. Fold (like in poker, like an accordion, etc.): To fold means to give up a position, cave in on an issue. Wow, did they fold on that issue fast, never even bothered to argue. Food For Thought: Common literary and vernacular idiom referring to information which will require some further consideration. The idea of food for thought comes with a few dietary considerations. Follower (derogatory): As a generic term, a follower is distinguished in a denigrating sense from a leader. He's just a follower, he's never had an idea of his own. Fools' Gold: Iron sulphate, refers to a mineral which resembles gold. Used to describe false value given to a subject. If you think genuine recycled nasal hair is a commercial proposition, I'd say it was fool's gold. Fools Rush In Where Angels Fear To Tread: Fools take risks where wiser people know better. Yep, there are the fools rushing in, believing everything they hear, not checking their facts. Foot In Mouth: To make a self defeating statement. If he ever managed to hold a conversation without putting his foot in his mouth, nobody noticed. Free For All: No holds barred, no rules. It was a real free for all at the post Christmas sales.

Free Country: The idiom refers to personal liberty, and a person's right to do what they wish. It's a free country, and I can wear this tie! Free Rein: Without restrictions, unfettered. He was given free rein to deal with the mess. French Kiss: Tongue kissing. They were there for an hour, must have been a French kiss and their tongues got tangled up. From Rags To Riches: A move from poverty to wealth, often as a description of someone's life story. This is a real rags to riches story, from dirt poor to global stardom. Frozen Out: To be deliberately excluded from a group or society. They got so tired of the constant backstabbing that Bruce was frozen out of the group, permanently. Fruitcake (person): American slang. Madman, nutcase. Sorry to say this, but your new friend would be my definition of a fruitcake. Fuddy-duddy: Old, out of date, obsolescent, with implications of geriatric senility. Oh, come on don't be such a fuddy-duddy, they haven't done things like that in accountancy since they built the Pyramids, at least. Full Monty: British expression, derived from movie of the same name. Literally translates as fully naked, but now means making a full effort to go through the entire process. Well, if you really want to go the Full Monty on this, just wait until I emigrate. Funny Farm:

Slang expression for psychiatric institution for people with mental health problems. Should we ring the funny farm now, or would you like to continue your anecdote about your date with Harry here? G Gasp (sarcastic): When used as part of a sentence, it indicates total lack of surprise. Then, (gasp), he said I should pay for the whole dinner! Gassing On: Talking too much. You guys keep gassing on, there'll be dinosaurs complaining about the noise. Gawk: Look ignorantly at something. Do you always gawk like that at well dressed women, or is it just a hobby? Geek: Trivial, insignificant person. Frankly, that's someone I'd have to describe as a geek, no real presence. Gene pool (personal): Referring to ancestry, heritage. Usually a comment. I'm glad to know we have things like you swimming around in our gene pool. Genetic (subject, descriptor of character): Part of a person's character and emotional makeup. Look, my shopping is genetic, I'm descended from a grocer. Genuine Article: The real thing, or person. Used as a compliment or confirmation of value. I'm convinced she's the genuine article, a real actress, not a store dummy. Get Down to Brass Tacks: Start addressing the real issues.

Getting down to brass tacks, what on Earth are we going to do with a warehouse full of bathroom fittings? Get Over It: Used to tell someone to move on from an event or situation after it's happened. You'll make it worse, dwelling on it. Get over it, for your own sake. Getting An Education: Learning through experience, often refers to a difficult and lengthy learning process in the course of doing something. We're really getting an education doing these surveys, they're nothing like our previous information. Get Fired Up: Get emotionally motivated, positively or negatively, by a situation or statement. I know Jack will get fired up by this news. Get Sarky: Get sarcastic, become obviously derisive. Now don't get sarky about it you lot, the guy has webbed feet. Get Up On The Wrong Side Of The Bed: Start the day in a bad mood, or have a bad day. Must have got out of bed on the wrong side, he's been in a nasty mood all day. Get Your Walking Papers: Termination of employment. So give them their walking papers, or we'll be taking a hike ourselves. Gild The Lily: To enhance something which is already beautiful unnecessarily. Suggests falsification of appearances, often sarcastic. Wouldn't you say that claiming your washing machines cure acne is gilding the lily just a bit? Give The Slip: Evade someone or something. Give them the slip, we'll have dinner by ourselves.

Glass Ceiling: Feminist expression, referring to male dominated management and the inability of females to get promotions to senior positions. Another case of the Glass Ceiling, where a woman with a doctorate doesn't get a management position, but a glorified office boy does. Glass Jaw Literally someone who can't take a punch, but also refers to vulnerabilities of a person on certain issues. Seems our opposition has a glass jaw on financial reports. Glazed Look: Describes someone looking like a museum specimen under glass, or looking as if you've been glazed over, your expression indicating a negative reaction. I know I've got your attention when I see that glazed look on your faces. Goat (person): Short for scapegoat, a person who is taking the blame. Can also mean a person acting foolishly or stubbornly. You're being a goat in more ways than one you know, taking the blame, but not admitting you were wrong. Go Bananas Refers to acting like an ape, meaning to go crazy. Don't just go bananas on us, get it sorted out! Go Bush Australian Aboriginal expression, to get away from society. Every once in a while, I like to go bush, just to be out of the rat race. Go Down Like A Lead Balloon: To do something which gets nowhere with an audience. That thing about wage cuts went down like a lead balloon with the staff. Go For Broke: American gambling expression, to go all out and risk everything. I say we go for broke, really put everything we have into this job. Go Gaga:

American expression, to become incomprehensible, and insane. We tried telling management about the plumbing, and they just went gaga, and talked about synergies. Go Nuts: This expression originally meant to go mad, but has developed to mean do whatever you can. Go nuts, let's see what you can do. Good Samaritan: Biblical reference to the Samaritan who assisted his injured enemy when no one else did, and did it for no reward. Honestly, I wasn't trying to be a Good Samaritan, I really felt I should help. Goose (person): Fool, stupid person. You really are a goose, buying that camel. Where do we put it? Goose That Laid The Golden Egg: A person who is perhaps annoying, but also a valuable source of things. Expression is derived from the children's fairy tale of the same name, where killing the goose was the terrible mistake. This is our version of the Goose That Laid The Golden Egg, and we're not going to kill it. Go Out On A Limb: Take a risk, usually knowing the risk. We have to go out on a limb, because there's no real choice. Go The Extra Mile/Yard: Making an extra effort, usually beyond what is strictly required. I really appreciate your going the extra mile for us, it's been a real help. Go Through The Hoops: Go through whatever has to be done. Refers to an old circus act where animals were literally required to jump through hoops. That's the way these things are done, and we have to go through the hoops. Go Walkabout: Australian Aboriginal expression, meaning to wander with no identified destination.

Before you go walkabout, get those things on the database. Graveyard Shift: Derived from broadcasting slang. The late night and early morning shift when most people are asleep. It's a graveyard shift job, but I'm learning a lot about the business. Grazing (people) 1980s expression referring to people eating together in restaurants. Thousands of people in malls and coffee shops, grazing. Great Minds Think Alike: Usually a sarcastic reference to two or more people having the same idea. So I took a day off and you took a day off Great minds think alike so who's actually at work at the moment? Green Room: Room where people are stationed prior to going on air in broadcasting. Show Mr. Smith to the Green Room and give him a call 5 minutes before he goes on air. Grind (routine): The grind refers to the wear and tear of daily work. Well, back to the grind, I'm even thinking of being awake later this afternoon. Gross (thing or person): American slang term with multiple uses as an adjective and a verb. The expression means that something is disgusting. That is absolutely gross, I mean it really grosses me out! Grotty: English expression from Liverpool in the 1960s. Originally meaning grotesque, it evolved to include meaning squalid, dirty, or unacceptable. That place was so grotty you wouldn't let a dog in there. Guesstimate Compound word which as an idiom means the person making the guesstimate isn't claiming accuracy, but making a rough quantification. Habit Forming (joke, conversational quip):

Refers to addiction to something. Yeah, having fun is habit forming, I find. Half A Loaf Is Better Than None: Traditional expression, related to at least having something. Well, it's half a loaf, but we did get something out of the deal. Half Ass: Denigrates idiomatically a half formed idea, action or concept. Of all the half ass ideas anyone's ever had, this would have to be one of the greatest. Half Witted: Traditional denigration of someone's thinking. It was pretty half witted, drawing a plan without even doing a survey. Handy (person, thing, situation): Useful, good to have available. We got lucky, with some very handy people available to us in a very handy situation, and made a lot of money. Hangdog (look, facial expression): Pitiful look, pathos. Oh, that hangdog look of yours. Stick around, I'll go get Rembrandt, in case history misses seeing you. Hardline, Hardliner: A person or ideology which takes an inflexible, uncompromising position on a subject or issue. He's an absolute hardliner, always takes the tough line on these issues. Hard Lines: Old English expression, meaning tough luck. Lost your watch, have you? Hard lines, mate. Hard Yards: American and general football expression, the hard work required to make progress to a goal. We're now doing the hard yards, getting our marketing ready.

Hatchet Man: Person hired to do the dirty work. Always a derogatory expression. The guy's a hatchet man, he's here to do the bosses' work for them. Haste Makes Waste: Doing things too quickly causes mistakes, and means the effort is wasted. Haste does make waste. You did all of that in record time, and got it all wrong. Hat Trick: Do something three times consecutively. Derived from scoring three times in a sport. He's done it, three in a row, a hat trick Heaven Sent: An unexpected but welcome event. The new secretary is heaven sent. We can actually find our clients on the database, now. Heavy (person, situation, music): Derived from criminal slang, when referring to a person or case refers to a dangerous person or set of circumstances. Also refers to people in industry with a lot of influence. In music refers to non commercial, extreme music. This is a very heavy person we're dealing with here, don't get too casual. Head On: Confrontational, direct opposition, crashing directly into a situation. His problem is that he does everything head on, and never maneuvers around situations. Head Over Heels: Disoriented, wrong way up, either positive or negative. They were so obviously head over heels in love the other people in the room left them in peace. Heating up (situation): Escalation of events where increased action is occurring. Suggests friction, additional energy in the situation. Things are now heating up, in terms of the publicity and the reaction to it. Heedless (person):

A person who won't take advice or act on it, and continues on an unwise course of action or thought. Yeah, I'd say heedless is a good description of someone who simply will not listen to facts. Hell in a Handbasket: American expression referring to something in a state of rapid transition to a very bad state. The print media is going to hell in a handbasket, and they're still doing the same old things. Herd Mentality (human): Derogatory reference to the tendency of people to do what everyone else does, however ridiculous or stupid. The shoppers showed a real herd mentality with that stampede when the doors opened for the annual sale. Hidden Agenda (character): The idiom is one of suspicion, where a hidden agenda is a character reference to a person acting in a way which isn't understood. We're not getting any answers from the contractors, so I think we should at least consider some sort of hidden agenda, and take precautions. High Five: Basketball gesture, slapping hands together over the head in congratulation for an achievement. Now a common expression. High fives all round, they're happy about that result. High on the Hog: The idiom refers to living in a state of excess, but living well. They're living high on the hog now, don't know if they can keep it up, though. Hit The Books: Start studying, do the reading required. Time to hit the books and get the notes prepared, I'll see you later. Hit The Hay: To go to bed. Old expression dating back to when people slept on straw beds. I really have to hit the hay, I'm going to be busy tomorrow. Hit The Nail on the Head: Describe or define something exactly, accurate assessment.

That really hit the nail on the head, exactly right. Hit The Sack: Go to sleep. The sack refers to a hammock or portable military or camping bedding. Time to hit the sack, kids, we're up early tomorrow. Hocus Pocus: Idiom refers to bogus trickery, staged magic acts. Yeah, sure. Hocus pocus, and you get a new bank account? Hold Your Horses: Don't do something, don't take an action. Just hold your horses, you don't know the rest of the story, yet. Hoofer: Vaudeville expression referring to a dancer. She was a really famous 40s hoofer, tap dancer, best in the business. Hope Springs Eternal: Traditional expression, meaning there's always some hope. I think all this stuff about aliens with mother ships just proves hope springs eternal, however you do it. Hot (person): Reference to a sexually attractive person. She was really looking hot, I didn't even recognize her at first. Hot Air: Meaningless and/or false talk. Suggests an inflated balloon, lacking substance. So after ten years of hot air, the basic result is we still don't have a new airport. Hotheaded: Rash, ill considered, done without thought, or in a state of emotional excitement. Refers to a person as a character reference. That guy is naturally hotheaded, and acts before he thinks. Hot Tempered:

Person likely to react aggressively due to a bad temper. He's a very hot tempered person, I'd approach him differently, if I were you. Hype: Derived from hyperbole, meaning exaggeration. Usually refers to advertising, overstatement of the virtues of a product. There's more hype than actual product here, and the thing's not even on the market, yet. Hyper: A person said to be hyper is in a state of extreme excitement, energized, acting at great speed with enthusiasm. Susan is naturally a hyper sort of person, lots of enthusiasm and energy, but she just doesn't stop. I Ice in the blood (blood turned to ice, blood runs cold): Situation causes fear and apprehension. My blood ran cold when I realized what the Wall Street crash meant to so many people. Icing On The Cake: An addition to a good thing, some added benefit. As icing on the cake, they paid me my back royalties, as well as the new contract. Ides Of March: Refers to the assassination of Julius Caesar, who was warned about the time of the Ides Of March by a soothsayer. Now applies to a dangerous time. You want to start a business, fine, but beware of the Ides Of March! Idiot Savant: A person with a talent which benefits others, a savant, who doesn't necessarily understand his skills. I think our new mechanic is an idiot savant, because he took out that engine, and we found that the battery was leaking, which we hadn't noticed until he did that. Idle Hands Do The Devil's Work: People with nothing to do get into trouble because of that inactivity. So you were just loafing around, and you somehow managed to blow up the restaurant? Talk about idle hands doing the devil's work!

If It's Not One Thing, It's Another: Fatalistic but complaining expression, expecting trouble from any source. Now we've got rats, after getting rid of the mice? If it's not one thing, it's another! If - Then: This is a type of logic, where the premise of If creates the logic. It's an If - Then situation: if the premise holds true, the logic is right. Ignorance Is Bliss: Traditional saying meaning there are some things people are happier not to know. Ignorance was bliss, all right; I had no idea we were paying for that until now. Ill Wind: The old saying was It's an ill wind which blows no good, meaning there's always some benefit to someone in any situation. Now more usually a contraction to the Ill wind form. This ill wind just blew us in a contract from the customers of our recently defunct competitors. Illuminati: Supposed elite group of people and vested interests with privileged knowledge not available to anyone outside the Illuminati. Often used as a satiric expression. He's one of the Illuminati who approved that budget that sent the city broke last year. Impish (person): Old expression meaning mischievous, tricky, playful. Can be positive or negative, depending on circumstances and the age of the reference. Old meaning: He was a troublesome, impish, fellow. Current meaning: Impish behavior maybe, but not appreciated. Ingnue (person): French word meaning nave, innocent, child of nature. After Voltaire's book of the same name, The meaning is more associated with a person who is removed from the norms of the human world, as well as the other meanings, which has given the word its status as an idiom. I don't know how many ingnues are professional embezzlers. In Like Flynn: The expression is believed to refer to actor Errol Flynn, but the rhyming slang effect is also obvious. It means to go straight into the middle of the action in a situation, either romantically, opportunistically or adventurously.

When he saw that chance to make some money, he was in like Flynn. Inner Child: Spiritual and philosophical concept of the inner innocence and child like needs of people. Can be used in multiple contexts and senses. My inner child tells me that the whole deal stinks. Innocent until proven guilty: Principle of justice, used idiomatically as a reference to any suggestion of doing something wrong. What happened to 'Innocent until proven guilty?' I wasn't even in the state when that happened! In The Bag: Certain of success. It's all been done, and the deal is in the bag, at this point. In The Buff: From previous English expression buff naked. Are you saying that seeing you in the buff hasn't been attracting tourists? In The Heat Of The Moment: This is a conditional idiom. Refers to the emotions and the situations created in a previously stated scenario. They argued until late in the night, when in the heat of the moment, he smashed a glass against the kitchen sink and walked out. Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall: Traditional saying, meaning that in every life is some sadness. So you didn't win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Kitchen Hand. Into each life some rain must fall. In vino, Veritas: Ancient Latin saying meaning literally In wine, Truth. Often used to describe conversation and thinking while drinking. You and your Shiraz agree with me about this song, finally? In vino, Veritas!

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Well, it's half a loaf, but we did get something out of the deal. Half Ass: Denigrates idiomatically a half formed idea, action or concept. Of all the half ass ideas anyone's ever had, this would have to be one of the greatest. Half Witted: Traditional denigration of someone's thinking. It was pretty half witted, drawing a plan without even doing a survey. Handy (person, thing, situation):

Haiku Jargon Idioms Verbal Irony Alliteration Satire Paradox

Useful, good to have available. We got lucky, with some very handy people available to us in a very handy situation, and made a lot of money. Hangdog (look, facial expression): Pitiful look, pathos. Oh, that hangdog look of yours. Stick around, I'll go get Rembrandt, in case history misses seeing you. Hardline, Hardliner: A person or ideology which takes an inflexible, uncompromising position on a subject or issue. He's an absolute hardliner, always takes the tough line on these issues. Hard Lines: Old English expression, meaning tough luck. Lost your watch, have you? Hard lines, mate. Hard Yards: American and general football expression, the hard work required to make progress to a goal. We're now doing the hard yards, getting our marketing ready. Hatchet Man: Person hired to do the dirty work. Always a derogatory expression. The guy's a hatchet man, he's here to do the bosses' work for them. Haste Makes Waste: Doing things too quickly causes mistakes, and means the effort is wasted. Haste does make waste. You did all of that in record time, and got it all wrong. Hat Trick: Do something three times consecutively. Derived from scoring three times in a sport. He's done it, three in a row, a hat trick

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Heaven Sent: An unexpected but welcome event. The new secretary is heaven sent. We can actually find our clients on the database, now. Heavy (person, situation, music): Derived from criminal slang, when referring to a person or case refers to a dangerous person or set of circumstances. Also refers to people in industry with a lot of influence. In music refers to non commercial, extreme music. This is a very heavy person we're dealing with here, don't get too casual. Head On: Confrontational, direct opposition, crashing directly into a situation. His problem is that he does everything head on, and never maneuvers around situations. Head Over Heels: Disoriented, wrong way up, either positive or negative. They were so obviously head over heels in love the other people in the room left them in peace. Heating up (situation): Escalation of events where increased action is occurring. Suggests friction, additional energy in the situation. Things are now heating up, in terms of the publicity and the reaction to it. Heedless (person): A person who won't take advice or act on it, and continues on an unwise course of action or thought. Yeah, I'd say heedless is a good description of someone who simply will not listen to facts. Hell in a Handbasket: American expression referring to something in a state of rapid transition to a very bad state. The print media is going to hell in a handbasket, and they're still doing the same old things.

Herd Mentality (human): Derogatory reference to the tendency of people to do what everyone else does, however ridiculous or stupid. The shoppers showed a real herd mentality with that stampede when the doors opened for the annual sale. Hidden Agenda (character): The idiom is one of suspicion, where a hidden agenda is a character reference to a person acting in a way which isn't understood. We're not getting any answers from the contractors, so I think we should at least consider some sort of hidden agenda, and take precautions. High Five: Basketball gesture, slapping hands together over the head in congratulation for an achievement. Now a common expression. High fives all round, they're happy about that result. High on the Hog: The idiom refers to living in a state of excess, but living well. They're living high on the hog now, don't know if they can keep it up, though. Hit The Books: Start studying, do the reading required. Time to hit the books and get the notes prepared, I'll see you later. Hit The Hay: To go to bed. Old expression dating back to when people slept on straw beds. I really have to hit the hay, I'm going to be busy tomorrow. Hit The Nail on the Head: Describe or define something exactly, accurate assessment. That really hit the nail on the head, exactly right. Hit The Sack: Go to sleep. The sack refers to a hammock or portable military or camping

bedding. Time to hit the sack, kids, we're up early tomorrow. Hocus Pocus: Idiom refers to bogus trickery, staged magic acts. Yeah, sure. Hocus pocus, and you get a new bank account? Hold Your Horses: Don't do something, don't take an action. Just hold your horses, you don't know the rest of the story, yet. Hoofer: Vaudeville expression referring to a dancer. She was a really famous 40s hoofer, tap dancer, best in the business. Hope Springs Eternal: Traditional expression, meaning there's always some hope. I think all this stuff about aliens with mother ships just proves hope springs eternal, however you do it. Hot (person): Reference to a sexually attractive person. She was really looking hot, I didn't even recognize her at first. Hot Air: Meaningless and/or false talk. Suggests an inflated balloon, lacking substance. So after ten years of hot air, the basic result is we still don't have a new airport. Hotheaded: Rash, ill considered, done without thought, or in a state of emotional excitement. Refers to a person as a character reference. That guy is naturally hotheaded, and acts before he thinks. Hot Tempered:

Person likely to react aggressively due to a bad temper. He's a very hot tempered person, I'd approach him differently, if I were you. Hype: Derived from hyperbole, meaning exaggeration. Usually refers to advertising, overstatement of the virtues of a product. There's more hype than actual product here, and the thing's not even on the market, yet. Hyper: A person said to be hyper is in a state of extreme excitement, energized, acting at great speed with enthusiasm. Susan is naturally a hyper sort of person, lots of enthusiasm and energy, but she just doesn't stop. I Ice in the blood (blood turned to ice, blood runs cold): Situation causes fear and apprehension. My blood ran cold when I realized what the Wall Street crash meant to so many people. Icing On The Cake: An addition to a good thing, some added benefit. As icing on the cake, they paid me my back royalties, as well as the new contract. Ides Of March: Refers to the assassination of Julius Caesar, who was warned about the time of the Ides Of March by a soothsayer. Now applies to a dangerous time. You want to start a business, fine, but beware of the Ides Of March! Idiot Savant: A person with a talent which benefits others, a savant, who doesn't necessarily understand his skills. I think our new mechanic is an idiot savant, because he took out that engine, and we found that the battery was leaking, which we hadn't noticed until he did that.

Idle Hands Do The Devil's Work: People with nothing to do get into trouble because of that inactivity. So you were just loafing around, and you somehow managed to blow up the restaurant? Talk about idle hands doing the devil's work! If It's Not One Thing, It's Another: Fatalistic but complaining expression, expecting trouble from any source. Now we've got rats, after getting rid of the mice? If it's not one thing, it's another! If - Then: This is a type of logic, where the premise of If creates the logic. It's an If - Then situation: if the premise holds true, the logic is right. Ignorance Is Bliss: Traditional saying meaning there are some things people are happier not to know. Ignorance was bliss, all right; I had no idea we were paying for that until now. Ill Wind: The old saying was It's an ill wind which blows no good, meaning there's always some benefit to someone in any situation. Now more usually a contraction to the Ill wind form. This ill wind just blew us in a contract from the customers of our recently defunct competitors. Illuminati: Supposed elite group of people and vested interests with privileged knowledge not available to anyone outside the Illuminati. Often used as a satiric expression. He's one of the Illuminati who approved that budget that sent the city broke last year. Impish (person): Old expression meaning mischievous, tricky, playful. Can be positive or negative, depending on circumstances and the age of the reference. Old meaning: He was a troublesome, impish, fellow. Current meaning: Impish behavior maybe, but not appreciated.

Ingnue (person): French word meaning nave, innocent, child of nature. After Voltaire's book of the same name, The meaning is more associated with a person who is removed from the norms of the human world, as well as the other meanings, which has given the word its status as an idiom. I don't know how many ingnues are professional embezzlers. In Like Flynn: The expression is believed to refer to actor Errol Flynn, but the rhyming slang effect is also obvious. It means to go straight into the middle of the action in a situation, either romantically, opportunistically or adventurously. When he saw that chance to make some money, he was in like Flynn. Inner Child: Spiritual and philosophical concept of the inner innocence and child like needs of people. Can be used in multiple contexts and senses. My inner child tells me that the whole deal stinks. Innocent until proven guilty: Principle of justice, used idiomatically as a reference to any suggestion of doing something wrong. What happened to 'Innocent until proven guilty?' I wasn't even in the state when that happened! In The Bag: Certain of success. It's all been done, and the deal is in the bag, at this point. In The Buff: From previous English expression buff naked. Are you saying that seeing you in the buff hasn't been attracting tourists? In The Heat Of The Moment: This is a conditional idiom. Refers to the emotions and the situations created in a previously stated scenario. They argued until late in the night, when in the heat of the moment, he smashed

a glass against the kitchen sink and walked out. Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall: Traditional saying, meaning that in every life is some sadness. So you didn't win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Kitchen Hand. Into each life some rain must fall. In vino, Veritas: Ancient Latin saying meaning literally In wine, Truth. Often used to describe conversation and thinking while drinking. You and your Shiraz agree with me about this song, finally? In vino, Veritas! In Your Face: American expression, meaning confrontational either a person or a situation. George was very in your face about the job, wasn't he? Ipso facto: Latin and legal expression, meaning proven by the facts. I wasn't here, so ipso facto, I didn't spill the coffee. Iron clad guarantee: Originally an advertising expression, referring to an actual guarantee of a refund, it's now an idiomatic expression referring to certainty. I can give you an iron clad guarantee I'll take you to court, if that helps. Iron enters the soul: Refers to a situation where you're spiritually toughened by the circumstances. The iron entered his soul when he realized he had no support for his statement. Itchy fingers: Urge to act, usually means unwisely, in context. Don't get itchy fingers, wait until you're told to start moving. It Takes Two To Tango: A tango is a dance by two people. Idiom refers to the need for a partner or

another party in a situation. You need each other. It does take two to tango. It's A Small World: Idiom is used when encountering someone or something again, usually after a long time or distance of separation. Small world, all right; haven't seen her for ages, and she shows up at my party! Its Anyone's Guess: Unpredictable situation. The idiom implies lack of information or basis for assessment. In this situation, it's anyone's guess when it will happen, and there are too many variables for my taste. Ivy League: American idiom for the colleges Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton and Yale. They're not an Ivy League College, but UCLA is a great place. J Jaywalk: American expression for method of illegally crossing the street. This is ideological jaywalking, changing position without anyone's consent. Job's Comforters: From the Biblical tale of Job's sufferings, where his comforters brought him nothing but despair and more grief. These accountants are starting to sound like Job's comforters. Joshing Me: Joshing was the old word for joking. How much a night? You're joshing me, surely. Jug, Jugged: American expression for jail, being jailed.

He got jugged for a second offense. Jugular (to go for, context): The jugular is a common metaphor for a fatal blow. To go for the throat, strike at the jugular, means to go for the kill. He went straight for the jugular with that remark, and they backed off. Jump (contexts) The word jump sets up multiple idioms. It commonly means to move and take the initiative abruptly, creating another situation, with the following words as qualifiers of the idiom. To get the jump on someone means to have the initial move, therefore the advantage. It often means to escape. To jump bail means to run away from the conditions of bail. You look like you're ready to jump ship. I know you, you'll jump when you're good and ready. Jump The Gun: Preemptive move, to do something before the proper time. Don't jump the gun, we're going to be ready next week. Jupiter, Jovian, Jupiter Pluvius: Old usage, but common in literature. Jupiter was the senior Roman god, and the idiom came from the Latin as an alternative word for God in European usage among educated people. Jupiter Pluvius was a metaphor for rain, which was the province of Jupiter in Roman mythology. By Jupiter, this is a filthy old scow of a ship! Jupiter Pluvius appears to be unusually prevalent in these seasons. K Karma (karmic law): Hindu law of accumulated cosmic justice, good causing good, bad causing bad. In Western idioms used as a reference to a collection of circumstances causing a fate. Sell that car to anyone, and your Karma will go through the floor. Keep An Eye On: Warning idiom, meaning to monitor the subject. We'll have to keep an eye on these sales figures so we know we're getting our

money's worth. Keep body and soul together: Old expression, pre 20th century, referring to the need to meet material needs. The reference to soul infers the person will die. To keep body and soul together, they had to work even harder. Keep your chin up: Old saying, referring to not looking depressed with the face down in sorrow , usually referring to a situation causing worry or sadness. Keep your chin up, we'll get out of this mess. Key (contexts): The word Key, in most languages, refers to something important or essential. It may or may not use the literal meaning of the word as the way of opening a locked door, which is the original metaphor. The word is used as either a noun or a verb in metaphors: Original meaning: The key to the problem. This means as in unlocking the door to solving the problem. Verb form: They were all keyed up to go. Prepared to commence something. Description: Key personnel were called to the meeting. Key means essential people, required to deal with the situation. Noun: Keystone: Originally a stone used as the base of the rest of the structure, now a metaphor for a basic, essential element. Kick The Bucket: American expression, meaning to die. Killer (contexts): Killer is a modern expression used to emphasize a natural characteristic of the subject. The contexts are dictated by the subjects, but in metaphoric use the word means lethal to others. It was a killer program, lots of practical work. Killer T Shirt, that one. This new shopping mall is a category killer, it'll take business away from all the existing shops in the high street. King (contexts): The use of the word King in idioms and metaphors is truly ancient. It refers to the ruler, the chieftain, and the authority of a king as a status. This creates multiple contexts for idioms, depending on usage: ABCD The Discount Kings.

King of all he surveys. King tide. King Shepherd. Knee Jerk Reaction: An unthinking reaction to a situation, a natural reflex. This is a knee jerk reaction to the housing shortage. Know It All (person): A usually disparaging reference to a person claiming or acting as if they have superior knowledge on one or many subjects. The average Know It All knows very little. Knock On Wood (also touch wood): Derived from old European superstition which uses the expression to mean asking the fates for luck by touching wood when mentioning a potentially dangerous situation. Touch wood, it'll be OK, if we keep doing what we're doing. Know The Ropes: Expression from the days of sail, when sailors learned how to use complex rigging on ships, and a person who knew the ropes was fully experienced. We need someone who does know the ropes, to get this job done properly. Know Your Place (also know your station in life): Derived from the days of aristocracy, this is a social idiom, referring to the social hierarchy. The expression evolved afterward to refer to one's place among others with higher status. In many cases it also means showing due respect to senior members of a group. You really should know your place! You can't talk to the boss like that! L Laconic (method of expressing idioms): Laconic refers to the Spartan (Lacaedemonian) form of expression, in which they were famous for making brief statements which summed up an entire situation, often with an implied comment in the statement. In its inverted idiom, it means someone who talks too much. (After six hours of talk) Meaning 'No', apparently? I don't think a six hour monologue qualifies as a laconic exercise.

Land Of Our Fathers: Traditional expression in many cultures, the idiom refers to heritage and entitlements of generations. This is the Land Of Our Fathers, we'll never surrender it. Land Lubber: Originally meaning a person inexperienced at sea, another meaning is someone who's not at home on a subject. Fred's a good accountant, but he's a land lubber on the seas of finance. Land Of The Living: This expression means the real world of others, in its literal sense. It's often used as an idiom to refer to someone's state of mind or circumstances. This expression often lets in a lot of metaphors into conversations. Come back to the Land Of The Living, before it's too late! You've been studying for days in that crypt of a room, no wonder you're looking like a zombie! Last but not least: Theatrical expression, referring to a final performance of a group, with obvious linguistic consonance. The statement is usually rhetorical, because in most cases the best and most popular performers come on stage after the others. Last but not least, Elvis! Lateral Thinker, Thinking: From Edward de Bono's term for his methods of logic. This expression is a classic instance of the recent development of idioms. Modern language has changed drastically from the earlier forms, and new expressions are often much more economic and functional. Lateral thinking covers an entire methodology and range of degrees as an idiom. Usually it relates to a way of logically approaching a situation, but can be used for specifics and to create objectives. Various meanings and usages for idioms are created: Fortunately he's a lateral thinker, and stays focused on the end result, so he doesn't get lost on the job. Whodunits are constructed using lateral thinking, using the end situation as the criteria for the story. Lead By The Nose: To lead someone against their will to a point or conclusion.

We had to lead them by the nose to admission there had been fraud. Lend Me Your Ear: From Shakespeare, Brutus' speech on the death of Caesar, 'Friends Romans countrymen, lend me your ears!' The expression is now an ornate, somewhat overstated way of asking someone to listen to you. Lend an ear, here, I need to talk to you. Let Bygones Be Bygones: To allow former grievances and problems to remain in the past and not to continue unresolved. Finally, they agreed to let bygones be bygones. Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: Very old expression. The dogs in the idiom are possible dangers or problems. We either let sleeping dogs lie, or we get a wolf pack of problems. Let The Cat Out Of The Bag: Traditional expression meaning to give information which causes problems. They let the cat out of the bag, told the others they were leaving, and we haven't heard the end of it since. Level playing field: Modern expression, meaning a fair state of play, usually in competitive situations. We need a level playing field in terms of trade for our exports. Like a chicken with its head cut off: Refers to the headless chicken running around after decapitation, meaning someone who's frantically running around, but not thinking. I've never really thought the headless chicken approach achieved much. Literal minded: One of the true idiomatic insults. The expression refers to someone who is virtually illiterate, unable to read the meaning of a statement or turn of phrase. Being a bit literal minded to assume rolling your car will prevent it gathering moss, isn't it?

Living a lie: Living in a situation where one is misrepresented, doing something unreal because of a false condition of life. He was living a lie, trying to be someone he wasn't, and it caught up with him. Living on a prayer: Literally, living on hope alone. They were living on a prayer, when they got their lucky break. Living on your wits: Living on what you can think up for yourself. Living on your wits can be great, if you've got the wits to make it work. Living proof: The real, live, personification of proof of a statement or idea. He's living proof you can beat the industry at its own game. Lone Wolf: Person who fights their own battles, independent. That guy's a real lone wolf, doesn't ask for favors, from anyone. Long in the Tooth: Derived from growing teeth as one ages. Also refers to experience. He's a bit long in the tooth to get fooled by that. Lost In The Woods: Originally related to fairy tale The Babes In The Wood, refers to people not knowing how to find their way out of a situation.

Let's get some information, and not stay lost in the woods about this situation. Loose Cannon: From naval slang, when a cannon on a sailing ship came loose, and could roll around the deck crushing people. Now refers to an erratic, unpredictable gun being fired with random results. I like the guy, but he really is a loose cannon on this subject. M Mad As A Hatter: From Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland, referring to The Mad Hatter and his logic as a character reference to a person. Nice person, but mad as a hatter. Mad As A Snake: Australian expression, referring to an irrational, aggressive person. Told him what happened, and he was mad as a snake. Mad Dog: (person) Derived from criminal slang, a mad dog is a dangerous one that is usually shot. That guy's an absolute mad dog. Mad Hatter's Tea Party: Also refers to The Mad Hatter, but in context as a gathering like the tea party in Alice in Wonderland. That wasn't a business conference, it was a Mad Hatter's Tea Party. Main Man: American expression meaning the most important friend or associate. This is my main man, Leroy. Main Squeeze: American expression, main boyfriend or girlfriend. She's my main squeeze. Make Hay While The Sun Shines: Traditional expression, originally meaning to do work when conditions are suitable, now meaning take to advantage of the opportunity.

We've got buyers crashing the phone lines, let's make hay while the sun shines! Make No Bones About: Make a statement which is unmistakable in its meaning, and/or uncompromising. He made no bones about how he felt. Many A True Word Spoken In Jest: Traditional expression, meaning a joke often finds the truth of the matter. Many a true word spoken in jest, I suggested that as a joke, and they really were intending to do that! Masterful Inactivity: Ironic English expression meaning to achieve more by doing nothing, sometimes means allowing a situation to resolve itself without getting involved oneself. Classic case of masterful inactivity; they went broke trying to sue him, and he did absolutely nothing. Method To Madness: Having a purpose to apparently meaningless or bizarre actions. There was a method to the madness all right, he bought up all the rights to all those B movies, and just added a zero to what he paid for them. Minority Of One: On your own in a vote or decision related to your opinion. Looks like you're a minority of one, Dave. Miss, Mrs., Mister (contexts) American expression derived from the titles of the winners of beauty pageants and contests, with the title defining the subject of the idiom. Can be extremely sarcastic. Yes, it's Mister I Don't Need Insurance now entering the lobby! Moral High Ground: Theoretical point of moral virtue, above others. Frequently satiric as an idiom. So what's the moral high ground on other people's poverty? More Luck Than Judgment: To do something more by accident than by intent. Can be deprecatory, or self deprecatory. I'd love to take credit for that, but it was more luck than judgment.

More The Merrier: The idiom means literally more of something makes for a better situation, but in its inversion it means not wanting any more in an ironic sense. The more the merrier, send us another shipment, we can't get enough. Oh, yeah, the more the merrier, another mouth to feed! Moldy Oldies: 1960s pop culture expression, referring to chart hits of the past. Now refers to a range of past products or people. More moldy oldies than any other radio station! Mumbo Jumbo: Originally referred to native superstitions during colonial times. Now refers broadly to any form of unbelievable mysticism. More management science mumbo jumbo, don't know how they can keep up with the demand. Mum's the word: Originally an English expression, meaning don't tell Mum. Now means don't tell anyone. Mum's the word about this new ad campaign, we don't want the competition to know about our prize giveaway. Murderous Silence: An awkward, embarrassing, silence, where saying nothing is doing someone serious damage. There was a murderous silence from the boss as they tried to explain their sales figures, you could see their jobs were on the line. N Nest Egg: Life's savings, money tucked away. They got scared of the risks and decided to protect their nest egg. Never (or Don't) Bite The Hand That Feeds You: Refers to feeding animals in the context of not damaging your source of food. You out of your mind, suing your customers? Don't bite the hand that feeds! New kid on the block: New person in a social group.

He's the new kid on the block in the industry, but doing pretty well. New York Minute: Refers to time passing at a much higher rate in some environments. He aged a year in a New York minute. No Dice: Not gambling on the subject, won't do or agree to something. They wanted to stall, but I said no dice. No man is an island: Literary expression, from John Donne's Meditations XVII 'No man is an island entire of itself'. The statement has been mistranslated in common usage, mainly because modern English grammar and old usage are quite different. The idiom, however, is the same. The idiom refers to the fact that nobody lives in isolation from the world. No man is an island, not even Fred, who's been known to speak occasionally. No Room to Swing a Cat: Small space, no room to maneuver. You couldn't swing a cat in the place, literally. I had to duck to avoid hitting my head on the ceiling, and make sure I didn't fall out the window. Not Playing With a Full Deck: Lacks normal intelligence, sometimes lacks facts. You're not playing with a full deck here, because you obviously don't know they actually didn't want to sue you in the first place. O Odds And Sods: English expression, miscellaneous bits and pieces.

And here we have the odds and sods collection, don't know what we're going to do with this lot.
Off On The Wrong Foot: Starting with the wrong step or move. Got off on the wrong foot there, try it again. Off The Hook:

No longer at risk. Yep, we're off the hook, they know we didn't do it. Off the Record: This is a current journalistic expression, originally meaning off the public record, or a statement which isn't made for publication. Strictly off the record, we're not too impressed with the arguments to date about the new high rise development, and we've had to ask for a redraft. O.K. (Original meaning and current): OK was originally an expression meaning All Correct on shipping bills of lading and the lists of goods were marked OK, meaning the contents had been checked and were correct. The current version now means a general affirmative. If it's OK, it's OK, but if not, it isn't. Old And In The Way: An early generation gap expression, referring to old culture, old people, old ideas, now generalized. The fossil fuel concept is just old and in the way. Omen, Ominous (situation): An omen was originally a sign from the gods of a fate. The word ominous means omen-like. It's an omen, a dinner plate nailed to the restaurant door with the meal still attached! Yeah, looks ominous, doesn't it? On Pins And Needles: Nervous, expectant. They waited on pins and needles for the results of the job interview. On The Fence: Not taking a position on either side of an argument or debate, or not taking a position of preference. He was even sitting on the fence about sitting on the fence, wouldn't even admit he wasn't taking a position. On The Same Page: People on the same page are working together in the same situation. They're usually opponents, but they're on the same page this time.

Out Of The Blue: Literally, out of the sky, unexpected. The new job came out of the blue, no warning. Out On A Limb: In a difficult situation, unsupported. They're out on a limb, really, with that statement. Out On The Town: Have a good time, going out for a good time. They were out on the town for the first time in years, having a ball. Over My Dead Body: Implies the speaker will fight to the death to prevent the subject of discussion from happening. 'They can pass this legislation to make poverty compulsory over my dead body,' said the welfare worker. Over the Top: Bizarre, completely beyond the norm. Their comedy is really over the top. P Parallel Universes: Modern expression referring to living in different continuums of events. They seem to live in some parallel universe, where nobody cares. Pass The Buck: Give the responsibility to others, avoiding blame. Those auditors always pass the buck to their staff, when things go wrong. Patience Is A Virtue: Traditional statement, meaning being patient brings rewards over time. Patience really was a virtue, he stuck around, did his job, and got the promotion, after all. Peaches And Cream:

A state of unrequited bliss, with no problems. Frequently sarcastic. So everything's peaches and cream, now, is it? Pearl Of Wisdom: A gem of a thought. This is an ornamented idiom, and is often used to mean the opposite in its sarcastic sense. Any further pearls of wisdom, in case bankruptcy wasn't enchanting enough? Pearly White: Color metaphor, often refers to teeth. Show us your pearly whites, smile, folks! Pecking order: Social order, derived from the pecking order in chickens. I think we can say Fred is more pecked than pecking, in the group hierarchy. Pedal to the metal: Full acceleration, top speed. Get the pedals to the metal people, we're behind schedule. Peeping Tom: Voyeur, intruding on people's privacy, usually on women in the original context. Not the Peeping Tom you'd want, is he? Peer Pressure: Psychological idiom, referring to peer group mechanics, where the group pressures individuals to conform or take actions acceptable to it. I don't think this guy has ever heard of peer pressure, and if he has, he's not paying a lot of attention to it. Pencil In: The pencil metaphor means to provisionally write something, which can be corrected later if required. I'll pencil it in, and check it out later, see if we can do it. Prick up your ears: Command, telling people to listen. Prick up your ears, I'm not going to say this again.

Pigeon (person): American slang, meaning nave person. How could you be such a total pigeon for new cars? Pig Headed: Stubborn person, describing a response or characteristic. He's not just pig headed when he makes up his mind, he could give lessons to the pigs. Pig In A Poke: An unknown quantity. The reference is always negative. We're talking about a pig in a poke, something we've never even seen, and you want to buy it? Pig Out : Over eat, derived from the old expression to make a pig of oneself. Can be used to describe a situation of over indulgence. The workshop party was a total pig out. Pint Sized: Diminutive, referring to something or someone small. How are you, pint size, you growing up? Pipe Down: Command, telling someone to be silent. Pipe down, you guys, I need to hear this! Practice Makes Perfect: Learning from experience, training. Practice makes perfect, so in a few thousand years, you'll be a chef. Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition: Puritan saying, referring to general worldly circumstances. Yeah, great to know, now praise the Lord and pass the ammunition, we're busy. Prick Up Your Ears: Pay attention and listen.

Prick up your ears, you have to understand what I'm about to tell you. Pride Comes Before A Fall: Pride makes people self obsessed and vulnerable. Pride definitely came before his fall, because he didn't listen about that makeup when he did it himself. Pull the plug: Derived from life support systems. Put an end to, or stop supplying the means to do something. If you keep wasting your money, I'm pulling the plug on your allowance. Pulling Your Leg: Kidding, playing a joke while pretending it's real. The inverted form means suggesting something is a joke when real, as a joke. Really, I was only pulling your leg, so come out of the fallout shelter. Nah, that's not a shark. Well, either it's pulling your leg or I am Pure As The Driven Snow: Pristine, incorruptible. Often a very sarcastic idiom. Oh, of course, all politicians are pure as the driven snow. Put a sock in it: Telling someone to stop making a racket. Put a sock in it, I'm trying to sleep! Q Queer the pitch: To distort a situation in a way that creates problems. That new law really queered the pitch for the people who bought the things before they became illegal, and couldn't even sell them. Quick On The Trigger: Acting too quickly, with possibly regrettable consequences. Can be a character assessment. He's too quick on the trigger, for my tastes. Quitter: Very negative reference to someone who gives up and/or doesn't make a real or honest effort.

The guy's a quitter, won't even think about ringing her! R Rain check: Derived from baseball expression, where rain stops play. Usually a negative reference, 'no rain checks', meaning the deal is for this time only, no delays. Raining Cats and Dogs: Extremely heavy rain. It's absolutely raining cats and dogs out there, you can't even see the road. Rat (race, character, action): The rat is the traditional European symbol of vermin since the Plague era, and the word is always negative, referring to a disgusting, unsanitary animal and its habits. In Asia the Rat is one of the 12 animals of Buddhist custom and the Chinese lunar calendar, and the idiom is imported. The word is widely used in idioms, hence multiple contexts: I just want to get out of the rat race. Wants to get out of the social rut. The guy's a rat, plain and simple. This person is untrustworthy, disgusting. They ratted on their friends. They betrayed their friends. Ratbag: Anglo Australian expression, meaning a lunatic, someone who doesn't know what he's talking about. Nice guy in his way, but a ratbag about his diet. Red Faced: Embarrassed, literally or metaphorically. The council was left red faced with a bill for gold lam uniforms. Red Letter Day: Great day, great event. It was a real red letter day when they won the lottery. Redneck (person, cultural): American expression originally meaning hick, now meaning a boorish, uncultured, ignorant person or idea. It was an idea which could only appeal to a redneck. Rise and Shine:

Get out of bed in the morning, or get moving, referring to people acting as if asleep. Rise and shine you guys, we've got another ten loads to get on board. Rome Wasn't Built In A Day: Great work takes time. Also refers to unrealistic expectations of time frames. Rome wasn't built in a day either, because they found they wanted the buildings to be able to stand up. Root For: To barrack for a team or a person. We're rooting for you, Mary. Roots (origin, culture): This expression started in the 1970s as part of African American culture, referring to ancestry and heritage, and has developed as a general idiom for cultural origins of all kinds. They've gone back to their roots with these songs. Rub out, wipe (action): Originally a 1920s gangster expression, it meant to kill someone. The wider meaning is to erase an error, or wipe something, as in to end the concept of it. Well, we'll just wipe the whole idea, then, if you don't want to do it. Rub Salt In The Wounds: To make an injury more painful. After he fell off the stage, she laughed herself sick, and that really rubbed salt in the wounds, when he saw it on TV. Rule Of Thumb: From the painter's use of a thumb to measure proportions in a sketch. Tends to work as a benchmark concept. The rule of thumb here would be that we're sure they will usually order 100 units at a time. Run out of steam: Run out of motive power or energy. Can be a conceptual expression referring to motivation or impetus. They ran out of steam when Bill started to have doubts about the project, and called in the accountant to check their expenditure. S

Sacred (context): A thing described as sacred is one which is supposedly above criticism or reproach. The idioms containing the word also contain the context, positive or negative. The conceptual sacred pig of managerial descent from deity. That was an idea which they held sacred. Savage Grace: The grace and beauty of wild things, the Noble Savage, natural events. The jungle is a place of savage grace. Saved By The Bell: Boxing expression, referring to the bell at the end of a round. They were on their last legs, saved by the bell when the event was called off. Scot free: To escape without due penalty. They got off Scot free, because nobody was able to prove they were in the wrong. See The Wood For The Trees: The expression Can't See The Wood For The Trees means unable to see the obvious. The contraction and other uses of the expression mean the same thing, sometimes with added contexts. If you have a look at the trees, you might see the wood. Shock Horror: Usually a derisive reference to an overreaction. So after the news came out they were all going into Shock Horror mode, like they hadn't known about it before. Sick As A Dog: Traditional expression meaning very sick, sicker than a person should be. He shouldn't have come to work today, he looks sick as a dog. Sick Of the Sight Of: The sight of something or someone is repulsive, sickening. The sight of so much waste makes me sick when I think how poor some people in the world are. Significant Other:

Modern expression referring to an unspecified relationship, simply noting that a person is important. She's my significant other, as a matter of fact. Sign Of The Times: Indicative of the contemporary, a current phenomenon, actual or conceptual. The anti poverty protests are a sign of the changing times. Sixth Sense: A sense beyond the five senses of touch, feel, smell, sight and hearing. The idiom literally quantifies an extrasensory capability. She has a sixth sense about stock prices, seems to always know what they're going to do. Skid Row: Early 20th century expression referring to being broke, poor, living in a bad situation. Those poor people have been on Skid Row for years. Sleaze, sleazy: Modern expression referring to an unsavory place, person or subject, suggesting crime, untrustworthy elements, or disgusting behavior. He's a sleaze, and that's really about the only way you can describe him. Smell (contexts): Any reference to smell will be either good or bad, in any idiom. The qualification is of its nature, which expands the context of the idiom, some times using another idiom to create the new meaning. The unholy smell of that person's ethics! The rosy sights and smells appeared to require some sugar. Not many people come up smelling of daisies in a situation like that. I smell something very fishy, this doesn't look trustworthy. I smelt a rat, and sure enough it was him. Snug As A Bug In A Rug: Mainly a rhyming phrase, but used to refer to a nice warm cozy place or situation. This is your new home, you'll be snug as a bug in this house. Sobering Thought: In this case the word sobering is a metaphor for changing your previous mindset. A sobering thought is one which makes you think clearly.

It was a sobering thought that we had to go back to work the following day, and we were in no condition to even think about it. Social Standing: Position in a social structure. The scandal did nothing for his social standing, he went from saint to leper. Son Of A Gun: Reckless person, son of a gunman or outlaw. It's actually a slightly euphemistic idiom for far more coarse expressions. He's a real son of a gun, always living it up whether anyone likes it or not. Son Of Your Father: A direct reference to characteristics of the father, positive or negative. You're your father's son, all right, only you and he could achieve that. Sophistry (mode of idiomatic argument): A sophistry is a false argument, with a suggestion of bogus intellectualism. Sophistries are a pretentious waste of time and thought. Sore As A Gumboil: A gumboil is a painful lump on the gums, which can affect the temper of those suffering from the condition. The idiom reflects the irritable nature of sufferers. He was sore as a gumboil when you brought up that topic. Soulful Expression: Often a sarcastic idiom, referring to someone looking sincere and noble. That soulful expression of yours really does get on my nerves, you know. Sound And Fury Signifying Nothing: Quote from Shakespeare, referring to a great deal of noise and bluster with no real result. More sound and fury, I see. Doesn't that guy ever actually do anything? Southpaw: Boxing expression meaning a left handed boxer or style of fighting.

He's got a real southpaw style in his approach, makes him hard to argue with when he comes up with those unexpected arguments. Spare the rod, spoil the child: Traditional saying meaning that lack of discipline will make a spoilt brat out of a child, to the child's detriment. Well, you spared the rod for so long, now you've got the spoiled child. Spitting chips Furious, fiery state of mind. Fred was spitting chips when we told him we had a whole new set of figures. Spitting Image: Refers to an image or likeness so like the original it seems as if it could spit. Spitting image of someone who always looked like they were spitting chips. Stacked Deck: Card playing expression, meaning the order of cards has been arranged unfairly so selected cards are dealt to selected players. Yeah, we know we're playing against a stacked deck here. Stage Fright: Theatrical expression meaning pre performance nerves. Idiom is now used widely, referring to any situation where an performance in front of an audience, real or hypothetical, is involved. I was writing my blog and got stage fright. Stage Managed: A situation which appears to have been conducted as a performance for the benefit of those seeing it. I think this whole fight between them is being stage managed for our benefit, to get sympathy. Staggered, staggering: (mental condition): The word stagger means to walk uncertainly, and the idiom refers to a mental state where one is uncertain of one's position and feelings. I was so staggered by the news that I really had no idea what to do about it. Stain on character: Old expression, originally Stain on the escutcheon, which meant a stain on the reputation.

The conviction was a real stain on his character, but he tried to clean it up. Stand Over: Criminal slang, meaning intimidation. The guy was a real standover man, very scary. Starstruck: Dazzled by fame or reputation. Ah, they were so starstruck they stuck around taking pictures of themselves in the lead actor's hotel room after he left. Station In Life: One's role or position in life or as a member of the society. Jeff, as the office boy, it's maybe not your station in life to tell senior lawyers how to run their murder trials, do you think? Status Quo: Latin expression, the state of what is. The status quo at the moment is that we're waiting for them to wake up and do their jobs properly. Status Symbol: Possession or property indicating a superior social status. I just don't think a rubber duck really is a status symbol, is all I'm saying. Start From Scratch: The word scratch means literally from nothing. So we start from scratch, get our own materials, and build the thing. Starving artist: The starving artist motif is a common theme in books and tales of artist's lives. It's so common it's now a clich, but as an idiom it relates to a topic as a conditional, often ironic, context. Typical starving artist, took him twelve hours and three meals to find his way out of his limousine. Stern Lesson: A tough lesson, where the conditions were difficult but something was learned. The budget cuts were a stern lesson in managing our costs.

Stone (contexts): Stone is an old metaphor in many idioms, meaning something hard and unyielding. There are so many idiomatic senses that each has to be considered relative to the total statement in which the word is contained. In the traditional sense, stone was referred to as a building metaphor. One stone on top of another. Stone Cold: Absolutely sober, clear headed. I swear, I was stone cold sober, hadn't had a drink all day. Stonehearted: Heartless, without proper feeling for others. The guy has a heart of stone, I've never heard him express sympathy for anyone or anything. Stonewall: To be very obstructive, immovable. They're stonewalling, I think they're playing for time. Stony Broke: Very broke, in the sense of real hard times. If you're thinking of becoming stony broke, I suggest you don't try it. Stony Faced: A hostile expression, unfriendly, or impassive with a sense of being unsympathetic to others. If that's not a stony face, I don't know what is. Stony Silence: Similar to a stony faced expression, but in terms of responses to a prior situation or statement. That wasn't just a stony silence, that was solid granite. Storm In A Teacup: A lot of fuss about nothing important. Well, yeah, I'd say waking me up at four in the morning about your acne was a bit of a storm in a teacup, now that you mention it. Stormy Petrel:

A person who seems to be forever predicting disasters. Usually, I'd say he was a stormy petrel, but in this case, he's right. Stuck In A Rut: A rut was created by old wagon wheels cutting into roads, forcing other wagons to use the same ruts. The modern meaning of the expression means to be stuck doing the same things all the time. It's a real rut, and I don't want to be stuck doing these repetitive things all the time. Stunned Mullet: Fishing expression, referring to the fish being stunned with a blow after being caught. The modern version means to be struck senseless by a situation. So he's looking like a stunned mullet, trying to speak, and she's just standing there looking gorgeous. Stunner: Mid 20th century expression meaning a stunningly beautiful woman, or occasionally an event which was stunning. This woman was such a stunner the whole restaurant went quiet, at least 500 people just staring. Sucker (person): 19th century African American expression meaning baby. Now means a person who's a fool. Trouble is he's not only a sucker, he looks like a sucker. Swear Like A Trooper: Military expression, to be able to swear like a soldier. We had this famous socialite on the phone, swearing like a trooper. Sweat Of Your Brow: By your own efforts and hard work. You appreciate things you've earned by the sweat of your brow. T Territorial (person, issue) A person who defends their professional position. We have some very territorial salesmen in this company, so be careful. Test of courage:<

Uglier Than Sin: Old expression, refers to sin in the context of obscenity. Uglier than sin, and twice as expensive. Under the weather: Refers literally to seasonal illnesses, but generally means feeling unwell. Fred's a bit under the weather, and won't be coming in today. Unmentionable, unspeakable (concept): These expressions are based on social concepts of things not discussed in polite society. They have some individual contexts, like unmentionables as an old term referring to underclothes, but in general modern usage, refer to something terrible, but deliberately not specified. The unspeakable, in pursuit of the uneatable. (Oscar Wilde, referring to fox hunts.) Unsung (person, event, action): A person or group not given due credit. The unsung heroes of the office Christmas party were the data entry people. Unwritten Law: An understood and generally accepted social custom, having the force of law in terms of being observed by all. It was an unwritten law in the office that you just didn't wake Fred up after lunch. Up a blind alley: Following a path which leads to an unknown destination, or sometimes dead end. The whole marketing campaign seems to have gone up a blind alley, here. Use Your Noodle, Noggin, Nut,: The human brain has a lot of idiomatic metaphors, and some are quite obscure. The actual words are quite dated, not usually used in modern parlance, but continue to exist in idioms. Use your noggin, that's a car, not a screwdriver! V Van Gogh's ear for music: Van Gogh's famous cutting off of his own ear in an argument with his friend Paul Gauguin is well known, hence the reference to Van Gogh's ear when referring to someone who's not listening, or doesn't seem to hear properly.

He's got Van Gogh's ear when it comes to melody. Variety Is The Spice Of Life: Very old, hackneyed, expression, referring to diversity and variety in life as stimulating the taste of life. Variety is the spice of life so what are we doing here, again? W Wag the Dog: The complete expression, which is often contracted in various ways, is The Tail Wagging The Dog. Obviously, this is the opposite of the normal process, which is the context of the idioms. This is the fleas wagging the dog, in my opinion. Wanderlust: The desire to travel, abstracted into this word as part of an idiom. Wanderlust will drive people around the world, in some cases. Water Under The Bridge: The exact idiom is that water which has flowed under a bridge has moved on. Hence the context, which means something described as water under the bridge has passed. Look, it's all water under the bridge now. Get over it, for your own sake. Wear And Tear This is actually a legal expression, as well as an idiom. The idiom means natural attrition of the condition of a thing. Wear and Tear, in terms of business hire or rental, means expected deterioration over time, for which the hirer or renter isn't considered liable. When applied to people, the idiom means the effects of experience. George is looking like he's had some wear and tear, recently. Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve: To be very open, perhaps too open, about your feelings in public. Poor Joan, wearing her heart on her sleeve like that! Wearing The Scars: This is a metaphoric idiom, but in some cases it's a double metaphor, where the obvious outer scars aren't those being referred to. He's wearing a few scars that you could only see if you knew him well. Well Bred:

This idiom has a social context, but also had at one point a class context. A well bred person was considered one of the upper class. In modern terms, it means a person with good manners and social grace. Fred is very well bred, really knows his way around any group of people. Well Heeled: Literally means well dressed, sometimes refers to a social group of the best people in society. He was always at home among the well heeled, wealthy, and powerful. Wet Blanket: A person who acts like a damper on a happy occasion. Wet blankets are usually used to put out fires, and aren't recommended for sleeping in. I know he didn't intend to be a wet blanket, but he's so good at it. Wet Hen: The original expression is Madder Than A Wet Hen, which is now virtually meaningless as a literal statement, but means emotionally upset and vocal. She was being a real wet hen, running around complaining. When It Rains, It Pours: When something happens at all, it happens to excess. When it rains, it pours, I see; more work than we could do in a year, there. When Pigs Fly : Pigs aren't very likely to be flying animals. Hence the expression, which means when the impossible happens. We'll get new staff when pigs fly, and not before. Wicked (thing, situation): New Zealand expression, meaning good, as one of the antonymic inversions of the original meaning of the word as the idiom. Free beer! Wicked! Wild and Woolly: Something that looks wild, uncontrolled. It was a really wild and woolly pub, some of the people looked utterly mad. Wild- Child, Man Woman or Thing:

Old Celtic expression revived in the 20th century. Originally meant a person of the wilds, living outside society. Now means a person living outside social norms, often a celebrity. She's the definitive Wild Child of the current generation of musicians. Wine and Dine: A romantic engagement by implication. She seems to be able to find people to wine and dine her in caves. Without prejudice: Originally a legal expression, now commonly used to mean without any bias or personal interest. My opinion, without prejudice, is that he's always been an idiot. Woman scorned: From Shakespeare's famous statement Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Now applied to a woman whose feelings have been ignored or abused. She's a woman scorned, and here comes the fury, I'd say. Worth A Damn: Worth caring about. Something is, or isn't, worth a damn, in the idiomatic context of the statement. These so called unsolicited testimonials aren't worth a damn. Wrong Steer: Directed the wrong way, or to the wrong conclusion. They gave us a completely wrong steer on that deal. X (Brand) X: Advertising idiom, (originally there was actually a Brand X) meaning an unknown, inferior brand compared to the sponsor's product. This looks very Brand X to me. Xeno (concept): From the Greek, meaning outside. While retaining its original meaning, the word is now becoming an idiomatic usage in relation to sciences, which is enlarging its frame of reference. I'd go out with him, but xeno biology wasn't one of my subjects.

X marks the spot: From old pirate stories, X was the spot on the map where the treasure was buried. The idiomatic usage is so common that it's now a fully understood idiom in its own right. Hmmm Audit reports, bills, lawsuits X marks the spot where we find some actual figures, for once, I assume? Y You Are What You Eat: What you eat determines your nature. Variously used to describe people, diets, and their characteristics. Well, if you are what you eat, why are you eating that? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover: External appearances don't tell the whole story. Don't judge him by his cover, he looks like a kid's coloring book, but he's more like Britannica. You Can't Take it With You: Old saying referring to material possessions in the afterlife. You can't take it with you, but knowing you, I know you'll at least try. Zero (descriptor): The use of zero in an idiom indicates the value of the subject is set at nothing. It can be a serious insult, applied to a person. In my opinion his reputation equates to one large zero