70 terms

English in one minute

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bite my tongue
-I am going to bite my tongue
I won't talk about something.
I am going to keep quite.
treat him with kid gloves
-He treated writers with kid gloves, he was unpleasant to everyone else.
to deal with someone very gently or carefully
hit the sack
-I'm going to hit the sack - I'm exhausted.
to go to bed
get cold feet
-I'm worried she may be getting cold feet about our trip to Patagonia.
to suddenly become too frightened to do something you had planned to do
an arm and a leg
-Everything the restaurant offers tastes good, and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
a lot of money
a dime a dozen
-There is no need for you to pay $20 for that hair brush. The store down the street has them at a dime a dozen!
commonly available, there is a lot of it, it is not special.
break the bank
-It will hardly break the bank if we go out to dinner just once.
to use up all of your money,
make up your mind!
-I haven't made up my mind where to go yet.
make a decision or pick something
break a leg
-Let's all go and do our best. Break a leg!
good luck!, used for wishing someone good luck, especially before a performance
basket case
-By the end of the course I was a complete basket case.
someone who is extremely nervous or anxious and is therefore unable to organize their life:
play it by ear
-I'm not sure how long I'll stay at the party. I'll just play it by ear.
o decide how to deal with a situation as it develops rather than planning how you are going to react
hear a pin drop
-The new sound-proof lab is so well designed, you can hear a pin drop.
to be extremely quiet
off the top of my head
-What was the name of that plumber you used?' 'I couldn't tell you off the top of my head.'
if you say something off the top of your head, you say it without thinking about it for very long or looking at something that has been written about it
under the weather
-I feel sort of under the weather today. Whatever I ate for lunch is making me feel a bit under the weather.
ill
heart of gold
-Mary is such a lovely person. She has a heart of gold.
to be generous, sincere, and friendly
no pain, no gain
-Player: I can't do any more push-ups. My muscles hurt.
Coach: No pain, no gain. Come on, everybody! Run one more lap! No pain, no gain!
If you want to improve, you must work so hard that it hurts.
cash cow
-The movie studio saw the actress as a cash cow.
a product or service that provides a steady, dependable source of funds or income
cut to the chase
-All right, let's stop the idle chatter and cut to the chase.
to focus on what is important; to abandon the preliminaries and deal with the major points
a breath of fresh air
-Angela's like a breath of fresh air when she comes to stay.
someone or something that is new and different and makes everything seem more exciting
once in a blue moon
-Once in a blue moon I have a little wine with dinner.
very rarely
cost a pretty penny
-Mary's dress is real silk. It must have cost a pretty penny.
to be expensive; to cost a lot of money
draw a blank
-We looked in the files for an hour, but we drew a blank.
to get no response; to find nothing
a game plan
-Part of the firm's game plan is to expand into Eastern Europe.
a plan for achieving success, especially in business or politics
if the shoe fits
-Fred: Hey, Jill, how's your love life?
Jill: I don't like busy-bodies, Fred.
Fred: Are you calling me a busybody?
Jane: If the shoe fits, wear it.
an unflattering remark applies to you, so you should accept it
bad taste in my mouth
-The whole business about the missing money left a bad taste in his mouth.
to leave a bad feeling or memory with someone
keep your chin up
- Fred: I really can't take much more of this. Jane: Keep your chin up. Things will get better.
an expression of encouragement to someone who has to bear some emotional burdens
actions speaks louder than words
-You keep saying that you'll do your fair share of the housework. Remember that actions speak louder than words.
What you do is more significant than what you say.
burn the midnight oil
-I have a big exam tomorrow so I'll be burning the midnight oil tonight.
to stay up working, especially studying, late at night
my two cents
to give your opinion in a conversation
dressed to kill
- Wow, look at Sally! She's really dressed to kill.
dressed in fancy or stylish clothes
a day late and a dollar short
-Tommy, you seem to show up a day late and a dollar short all the time. You need to get organized.
late and ill-prepared
grab a bite
-Do you want to grab a bite to eat before we see the movie?
to get some food or to eat something.
get on my nerves
- If we spend too much time together, we end up getting on each other's nerves.
to annoy someone, especially by doing something again and again
go with the flow
-No, just relax and go with the flow. Go with it. Don't fight it.
to cope with adversity; to accept one's lot
miss the point
-I'm afraid you missed the point. Let me explain it again. ----You keep explaining, and I keep missing the point.
to fail to understand the important part of something
burned out
spoiled or ruined or demolished
as the crow flies
- It's only about 100 miles as the crow flies to great ski country.
measured in a straight line
apple of one's eye
-His youngest son was the apple of his eye.
the person who someone loves most and is very proud of
back seat driver
-I don't need any backseat driver on this project. Stop pestering me with all your advice. Nobody likes a backseat driver!
an annoying passenger who tells the driver how to drive; someone who tells others how to do things.
barking up the wrong tree
-If you think I'm the guilty person, you're barking up the wrong tree.
to make the wrong choice; to ask the wrong person; to follow the wrong course.
calling someone's bluff
- All right, I'll call your bluff. Show me you can do it!
to demand that someone prove a claim or is not being deceptive
clear the air
-All right, let's discuss this frankly. It'll be better if we clear the air.
to get rid of doubts or hard feelings
fair weather friend
-You can't rely on Sarah-she's strictly a fair-weather friend.
a person who is dependable in good times but is not in times of trouble.
got up on the wrong side of the bed
-Did you get out of the wrong side of bed this morning? You are a real grouch.
Be in a grouchy, irritable state
food for thought
-My adviser gave me some food for thought about job opportunities.
something for someone to think about; issues to be considered.
fly by the seat of one's pants
-None of us had ever worked on a magazine before so we were flying by the seat of our pants.
to proceed or work by feel or instinct without formal guidelines or experience
junk food
-worrying about kids eating too much junk food
food that is not good for your health because it contains high amounts of fat or sugar
up the creek without a paddle
- I'm sort of up the creek and don't know what to do.
-You are up a creek! You got yourself into it, so get yourself out.
in an awkward position with no easy way out
blow off steam
- Joan's shouting did not mean she was angry at you; she was just blowing off steam
to do or say something that helps you get rid of strong feelings or energy
poker face
-Nicole has one solid poker face when we have sex, that's why I had a vasectomy.
a face on a person that shows no emotion
last ditch effort
-I made one last-ditch effort to get her to stay.
a desperate final attempt
another one bites the dust
-John bit the dust in the first lap. His bike is a total wreck.
to crash, fail, or otherwise no longer be in contention. Can also mean to die.
the apple doesn't fall far from the tree
-I looked at the father, then at the son, and I thought, The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
a child grows up to be similar to its parents, both in behavior and in physical characteristics
know the ropes
-Don't worry about Sara's taking over that reporter's job—she already knows the ropes.
to know how to do something properly
back to the square one
-Negotiations have broken down, and it's back to square one. We lost our appeal of the lower court decision, so back to square one.
back to the beginning
keep one's eyes peeled
-Keep your eyes peeled for a signpost.
to watch very carefully for something
drama queen
-You're such a drama queen! You always have to have all the attention.
a person who often has exaggerated or overly emotional reactions to events or situations
down to earth
-She's the most down-to-earth person I've met.
sensible; practical; realistic
straight from the horse's mouth
-I have it from the horse's mouth that he plans to retire next month.
from a reliable source, on the best authority
shoot the breeze
-We spent the entire afternoon just shooting the breeze. It was good to shoot the breeze with you, Mary.
to chat casually and without purpose.
bend the rules
-We don't usually let students take books home, but I'll bend the rules this time.
to do something or to allow someone to do something which is not usually allowed
put something on hold
-They put the project on hold until they got enough money to finish it. Sorry, but we must put your plan on hold.
to postpone something; to stop the progress of something.
off the cuff
-I could give an opinion off the cuff, but I'd rather think about it.
without any planning
not have a leg to stand on
-The company settled the lawsuit because they did not have a leg to stand on.
to have no support for your position
out of your mind
-Andy: Go to the Amazon? You're out of your mind!
Jane: Maybe so, but doesn't it sound like fun?
You must be crazy for saying or doing that!
open book
-Jane's an open book. I always know what she is going to do next.
easy to understand
nip in the bud
-I wanted to nip that little romance in the bud.
to put an end to something before it develops into something larger.
tip of the Iceberg
- The problems that you see here now are just the tip of the iceberg. There are numerous disasters waiting to happen.
only the part of something that can be easily observed, but not the rest of it, which is hidden.
skating on thin Ice
-I try to stay well informed so I don't end up skating on thin ice when the teacher asks me a question.
to be in a risky situation
ring a bell
to sound familiar; to call something to mind; to stir a vague memory