Popular English Idioms
Terms in this set (66)
to blow something out of proportion
to exaggerate, to make something into a bigger deal than it is; Example: He has a tendency to blow things out of proportion.
to get a hold of oneself, to get a grip
to pull oneself together, to "control" one's emotions; Example: I'm not going to let her drive anywhere until she gets a hold of herself
to flip out, to go off the deep end
to become "upset and irrational", to become crazy; Example: Sandra flipped out when she saw her boyfriend with another woman.
don't have a prayer, don't have a shot
to have no possibility of success at something, no chance; Example: You don't have a prayer of beating Andy at chess.
talk someone into something
to "convince" someone to do something; Example: Michelle said she didn't want to go with us to the movies. Why don't you try and talk her into it?
That does it!
That's all I can tolerate!
to hit the nail [right] on the head, to be dead on
to be absolutely correct; Example: You were dead on when you said she stole my money. You hit the nail on the head when you said she stole my money.
to pull someone's leg
to kid someone, to tease; Example: You found gold? Are you pulling my leg?
to rob the cradle
to date someone much younger than oneself; Example: Karen's date is young enough to be her son. She certainly is robbing the cradle!
to tie the knot, to get hitched
to get married; Example: I'm tying the knot tomorrow. I will get hitched next month.
to break the news to someone
to "disclose" sensitive and emotional information to someone; Example: My brother's dog die. Let me break the news to him.
to get cold feet
to lose courage; Example: I was going to ask my boss for a raise, but as soon as I saw him I got cold feet.
to come clean
to be "honest" and confess the truth; Example: Come clean with me. Did you borrow my car when I was out of town.
to fly off the handle
to lose one's temper; Example: My father flew off the handle when the neighbor's dog bark in the middle of the night.
to fork over
to "pay" for something or to give; Example: How much money do you have to fork over for that car.
If worse comes to worst...
In the worst possible case... Example: We have time to buy plane tickets. If worse come to worst, we can always take the train.
to let someone off the hook, to let someone slide
to release someone of responsibility; Example: I know you broke my watch by accident, so I'm going to let you off the hook. Lucky you I'm going to let this one slide.
on second thought
upon consideration; Example: I'll stay with HP this time. Hmmm... on second thought, I might go work for IBM.
to bite one's tongue
to keep oneself from verbally attacking someone; Example: If you boss says something you don't like, you can either bite your tongue and keep your job or voice your opinion and risk getting fired.
to go [off] without a hitch
to go off smoothly; Example: I hope my party goes without a hitch tomorrow.
to hang in there
to wait patiently; Example: It will be over in an hour, so hang in there.
to have the time of one's life
to have the best time in one's life; Example: I had the time of my life at your party last night.
not to sleep a wink
not to sleep at all; Example: I didn't sleep a wink last night.
to beat around the bush
to be "indirect" and vague; Example: Just tell me what you want. Stop beating around the bush!
to get someone
to "annoy" someone; Example: It really gets me when people lie! Doesn't it get you when people come late?
to go in one ear and out the other
to ignore what someone says; Example: I know he can be insulting sometimes. If he says anything rude to you, just let it go in one ear and out the other.
to keep someone posted
to keep someone informed; Example: I can't wait to hear the outcome of the interview. Keep me posted.
the last straw, the straw that breaks the camel's back
"can't tolerate" it anymore; Example: Bob took money out of my wallet without asking. That's the last straw!
to do something behind someone's back
to do something secretly and in a malicious manner; Example: I just found out that Ted's been talking behind my back.
to take it with a grain of salt
to take things with skepticism and not to take it literally, to pretend to accept but secretly tell yourself that it might not be true at all; Example: Many men online claim to be tall and handsome, but sensible girls take such claims with a grain of salt.
to fall for something, to fall for someone
to accept something, to blindly love someone or to be tricked by someone; Example: Why do you keep falling for her excuses.
to get on someone's case
to "criticize" someone; Example: Why do you get on my case every time I make a mistake?
to get on someone's nerves
to "annoy" someone; Example: The loud music is getting on my nerves.
to go all out
to do something to the best of his/her ability, to perform a task as well as possible; Example: You really went all out to finish his project.
to make cracks about someone
to make "derogatory remarks" about someone; Example: If you make another crack about my best friend, I'll never speak to you again.
to buy into something
to "accept" something; Example: He gave you nothing but excuses and you bought into it.
the blind leading the blind
an inexperience or incapable person is being instructed by someone equally inexperience or incapable; Example: Jim is teaching Tom how to play tennis? That's a real case of the blind leading the blind.
to have a brush with death
to have a near-death experience; Example: I hear you almost got hit by a bus yesterday. You really had a brush with death.
don't hold your breath
don't "anticipate" that happening; Example: I know she said she'd remember to take you to the airport, but don't hold your breath. She forgets everything!
to get one's feet wet
to try to new experience for the first time; Example: I've never played golf before. I'm just getting my feet wet.
to get the hang of something
to learn how to do something; Example: When I first went skiing, I kept falling down. But after a few hours, I started to get the hang of it!
don't have the nerve to do something
don't have the "courage" to do something; Example: I don't have the nerve to tell him he is fired.
to catch someone's eye
to "attract" someone's attention; Example: That painting really caught my eye.
to get on the stick
to become more efficient and speedier; Example: Get on the stick! We have to leave here in five minutes.
to have a sweet tooth
to love sweets; Example: I have a sweet tooth. I can eat candy for every meal.
to have a weakness for something, to have a thing for something
to have a passion for something; Example: I have a thing for chocolate.
to pull some strings
to use one's influence; Example: I had to pull some strings to get you hired, but I know it was worth it.
unable to make heads or tails [out] of something or someone
unable to make sense of something or something; Example: Did you see the painting he did? I can't make heads or tails out of it.
to vanish into thin air
to "disappear" completely; Example: I can't find my wallet anymore. It just vanished out of thin air!
to beat one's head against the wall
to waste one's time trying to achieve something, to "waste time" trying; Example: If you are trying to teach my grandpa how to use a computer, you are just beating your head against the wall.
Come to think of it...
In thinking about it more...; Example: I wonder if it was John who stole your wallet. Come to think of it, I did see him with a wallet that looked just like yours.
to be in someone's shoes
to be in someone else's situation; Example: Your rent is due in two weeks. If I were in your shoes, I'd be looking for a job today instead of lying on your bed all day long.
to let someone have it
to "reprimand" someone strongly; Example: If he insults me again, I'm going to let him have it.
to let it slide, to take something in stride
to accept something without getting upset; Example: Don't get so angry! Just let it slide.
to take something lying down
to accept something passively; Example: He lied to me about where he was last night. I'm not going to take that lying down.
That's out of the question!
There is absolutely no way that will be considered! Example: You want to borrow my car to haul fertilizer? That's out of the question!
to get [all] worked up about/over something
to become very "upset" about/over something; Example: Just because Nancy spilled the milk, you don't have to get all worked up about it. I'll have it cleaned up in no time.
to go off on someone
to "yell angrily" at someone; Example: If he says anything about my weight, I'm going to go off on him.
no laughing matter
said of a "serious" situation; Example: This is no laughing matter. If you don't pass the test tomorrow, you're not going to graduate.
to serve someone right
to suffer the consequences that one "deserves"; Example: The school isn't going to let her graduate because she cheats on the test. It serves her right for cheating on the test. (She's getting what she deserves)
to show one's true colors
to "reveal" one's true personality; Example: We all thought Kim was a timid person but when she saved a kid from a burning building, she showed her true colors.
to start from square one
to start from the beginning; Example: I was typing my book on the computer when suddenly the electricity went off and I lost everything. I had to start from square one.
To make a long store short...
In summary... Example: First I missed the bus, then I didn't have any money to call a taxi. To make a long story short, my friend came to my rescue.
neck of the woods
nearby region, neighborhood
not out of the woods
recovered but not back in full health. She was shot. She has recovered but not out of the woods yet.
when push comes to shove
when things get a little pressed; when the situation gets more active or intense.Example: When push comes to shove, you know I'll be on your side. If push comes to shove at the meeting, the front office can back you up with some statistics.