100 terms

EFL: English Idioms

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As easy as pie
"very easy" (same as "a piece of cake") .
He said it is a difficult problem, but I don't agree. It seems as easy as pie to me!
Be sick and tired of/fed up with
"I hate" (also "can't stand") .
I'm sick and tired of doing nothing but work. Let's go out tonight and have fun.
Bend over backwards
"try very hard" (maybe too much!) .
He bent over backwards to please his new wife, but she never seemed satisfied.
Bite more than one can chew
"take responsibility for than one can manage" .
John is so far behind in his studies. Besides classes, he plays sports and works at a part-time job. It seems he has bitten off than he can chew.
Broke
"to have no money" I'm broke. I don't have any money right now.
Change one's mind
"decide to do something different from what had been decided earlier" I have changed my mind about going to Tibet. I don't have the time!
Cut it out!
"stop doing something bad" Cut it Out Jonny! You are making me crazy with that noise!
Drop someone a line
"send a letter or email to someone" Drop Vivien a line to tell her you're coming.
Figure something out
"come to understand a problem" I figured out how to add that new app my phone.
Fill in for someone
"do their work while they are away" I filled in for Dora while she was sick.
Give someone a hand
help
Jonny gave Dora a hand when she was so busy.
Hit the hay
"go to bed" (also "hit the sack") I'm tired. I'm going to hit the hay.
In the black
"the business is making money, it is profitable" Apple is in the black. It is selling so many products.
In the red
"the business is losing money, it is unprofitable" That restaurant is in the red. The food is terrible.
In the nick of time
"not too late, but very close!" I got to the train in the nick of time.
Keep one's chin up
"remain brave and keep trying"
Keep your chin-up. You can find a way to do it.
Know something/someone like the back of your hand
"know something very, very well"
Dora knows The Hilton Shanghai like the back of her hand.
Once in a while
"sometimes, not very often"
Some people only drink beer every once in a while.
Sharp
"exactly at a that time" Please arrive at 9:00a.m. sharp!
Sleep on it
"think about something before making a decision" I can't decide right now. I'd better sleep on it.
Take it easy
"relax" Take it easy. You're so nervous.
To get the ball rolling
"start something, especially something big"
Let's get the ball rolling starting this new class.
Up to the minute
"the most recent information"
Channel 10 has up to the minute news.
Twenty-four/seven
"every minute of every day, all the time"
Carole worked 24/7 to get ready for this trip after school ended.
A dime a dozen
Anything that is common and easy to get, of little value: Those are worth a dime a dozen
A drop in the bucket
very small, insignificant.
A breath of fresh air
Refreshing/fun. She's a breath of fresh air.
A dead end
That's a dead end job- time to find a new one.
a rip off
You spent $500 for a watermelon! What a rip off!
a gut feeling
Feel in my stomach. I have a gut feeling that everything is going to turn out all right.
up in the air
Not sure. Plans are up in the air- we haven't decided what to do yet.
Easier said than done.
More difficult than it seems.
get cold feet
Chicken out. Lawrie wanted to ask Maria out but he got cold feet and chickened out.
give it a shot
Try. Why not try bungee jumping. Give it a shot.
give him/her the cold shoulder
Ignore someone. Brett walked right post me without saying a word. He gave me the cold shoulder.
mixed feelings
Positive and negative feelings together. I have very mixed feelings about her marrying a fisherman.
I'm all ears.
To listen intently. Tell me about your wedding plans- I'm all ears.
keep an eye on
Watch carefully. Will you keep an eye on my nephew while I walk the dog?
make my day
Make my day great. The guy I have a crush on finally called me. He made my day.
don't have a clue
Have no idea. I don't have a clue what the professor was talking about.
safe and sound
Fine. The CIC Drama Club returned safe and sound from their camping adventure on Yellow Mountain.
see eye to eye
Agree. He doesn't see eye to eye with his parents at all.
slipped my mind
Forgot. I meant to call you last night, but it slipped my mind.
talk shop
Talk about work. What a boring evening! Everyone talked shop- and they're all dog walkers!
full of beans
Lively- usually for a child. Little children are usually full of beans.
like 2 peas in a pod
Very similar. His 2 brothers are like peas in a pod.
sounds fishy/dodgy
Suspicious. Doubling your money in an hour sounds fishy to me.
a frog in my throat
Can't speak clearly. Ahem! Sorry I had a frog in my throat.
smell a rat
Something is suspicious. The policeman didn't believe the witness- in fact, he smelled a rat.
go to the dogs
Go downhill. Everything is going to the dogs in our town, since the new mayor took office.
pay through the nose
Pay lots of money. They paid through the nose to hold their wedding at Buckingham Palace.
cat got your tongue
Silent for no reason. What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?
tongue in cheek
Being ironic. I meant that tongue in cheek. I was kidding.
get off my back
Leave me alone. Bug off! Get off my back!
drive me up a wall
Drive me crazy. Noisy people drive me up a wall.
dressed to kill
Dressed in fancy clothes. Cinderella was dressed to kill when she arrived at the ball.
in stitches
Laughing a lot. We were all in stitches when we heard the latest joke.
my head is killing me.
Something hurts. My head is killing me- I should take an aspirin.
I'm beat/knackered
Very tired. I was knackered after James' party.
It'll knock your socks off!
Thrill you. You'll love this summer's action movie. It'll knock your socks off.
A pain in the neck
A big problem. Washing dishes is a pain in the neck.
like pulling teeth
Very difficult. Trying to get 2 year olds to cooperate is like pulling teeth.
for crying out loud
Oh no! For crying out loud- let me finish this mystery- will you?
I'm at my wit's end
I'm desperate. I'm at my wit's end trying to deal with 2 impossible bosses.
out of this world
Fantastic! My vacation to Hawaii was out of this world!
cost an arm and a leg
Very expensive. A Rolls Royce costs an arm and a leg.
go figure
Try to guess why. Mr. B gives us 5 tests a week and this week- no tests at all. Go figure.
I'm up to my eyeballs
Very busy. Mock exams are next, I'm up to my eyeballs in work this week.
break the ice
Start a conversation. Talking about the weather is a good way to break the ice when you meet someone new.
sleep like a log
Sleep soundly. Last night I slept like a log and didn't hear the thunderstorm at all.
ace
Do great. I aced the math test. I got 100%.
cool as a cucumber
Very calm. The policeman was cool as a cucumber when he persuaded the man not to jump off the Huangpu Bridge.
by the skin of my teeth
Barely manage something. I passed the geography test by the skin of my teeth.
win-win situation
Both sides win. Selling their old stock of i-Phones 4s was a win-win situation- they got rid of -to them- useless phones- and we bought -phones very cheaply.
I had a blast
A great time. I had a blast at Tony's get-together yesterday!
hands down
No comparison. Hands down ,Stu is the most handsome in the English Department.
you can say that again
You agree emphatically. Lawrie is a very sexy man.
You can say that again!
off the top of my head
Without thinking. Off the top of my head, I think it's worth $6 million.
second thoughts
Thinking again about a decision. I'm having second thoughts about trekking in Greenland this summer.
throw a fit
Get really angry. His mother threw a fit when she heard that he lost her i-Phone.
Just my luck!
Bad luck. Just my luck to lose the winning lottery ticket.
Big deal!
Sarcastic. Losing an old sock is not a big deal.
on the same wave length
We have the same ideas and opinions. We're on the same wave length.
be in hot water
Be in trouble. If you tell you boss off, you'll really be in hot water.
a blessing in disguise
Something bad that turns out good. Losing his job turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Out of the blue
To happen unexpectedly, without warning.
"Their breakup came out of the blue.
To let your hair down
To really relax and feel comfortable
"As soon as the boss left the party, the staff really let their hair down.
To get off on the wrong foot
To start a relationship badly.
"I seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot with the new girl."
To pull your socks up
To make an effort to improve your work or behaviour because it is not good enough.
"If you don't pull your socks up, you are definitely going to fail the exam."
Take the bull by the horns
To face a difficult or dangerous situation.
"I think you have to take the bull by the horns and tell him you are leaving."
Cheap as chips
If something is very inexpensive, it is as cheap as chips.
Do a runner
If people leave a restaurant without paying, they do a runner.
Bad hair day
If you're having a bad hair day, things are not going the way you would like or had planned.
Baker's dozen
A Baker's dozen is 13 rather than 12.
Beat about the bush
If someone doesn't say clearly what they mean and try to make it hard to understand, they are beating about (around) the bush.
Beggars can't be choosers
People who are in great need must accept any help that is offered, even if it is not a complete solution to their problems.
Beck and call
Someone who does everything for you, no matter when you ask, is at your beck and call.
Class act
Someone who's a class act is exceptional in what they do. DUANG(JC) is a class act!
Come rain or shine
If I say I'll be at a place come rain or shine, I mean that I can be relied on to turn up; nothing, not even the vagaries of British weather, will deter me or stop me from being there.
Cream of the crop
The cream of the crop is the best there is. He is the cream of the crop