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above board

If something is above board, it's been done in a legal and honest way.
above the law
If someone is above the law, they are not subject to the laws of a
society.
Achilles' heel
An Achilles' heel is a weakness that could result in failure.
across the board
If something is across the board, it relates to all without exception.
add fuel to the fire
If you add fuel to the fire, you do something to make a bad situation
even worse.
add insult to injury
Someone adds insult to injury if they say or do something to upset you
a second time, after you've already been upset somehow.
against all odds | against all the odds
If you do something against all odds, or against all the odds, you do it
even though there were many problems and it didn't seem possible to
do.
agree to differ | agree to disagree
If two people agree to differ, or agree to disagree, they accept that
they have different opinions about something and stop trying to
change each other's opinion.
ahead of the game
You are ahead of the game if you have an advantage over your
competitors in any activity in which you try to do better than others,
such as in business, academia, sports, etc.
all hell broke loose Informal

You can say "all hell broke loose" if a situation suddenly became
violent or chaotic.
all the rage Informal

If something is all the rage, it's very popular or it's in fashion at the
moment.
an acid test
An acid test is something that shows the true worth or value of
something or someone.
an act of God Formal

Something like an earthquake or a tornado can be called an act of


God.
an ax to grind (1)
If you have an ax to grind with someone, you have a problem with
them, or a complaint against them, which you'd like to discuss.
an axe to grind (2)
If you have an axe to grind, you have a strong opinion about
something and you express this opinion whenever you can.
another string to your bow
If you have another string to your bow, you have another way of
making a living.
answer the call of nature
If you answer the call of nature, you go to the toilet.
around the clock
If something occurs around the clock, it goes on all day and all night.
as soon as possible | asap
If you do something as soon as possible (sometimes abbreviated to
"asap"), you do it at the first possible opportunity.
asking for trouble
If someone is asking for trouble, they're doing something risky that
could lead to a problem.
at a loose end
If you're at a loose end, you have nothing to do.
at cross-purposes
If you're at cross-purposes with someone, you think you're both
talking about the same thing but you're actually talking about different
things.
at loose ends
If you're at loose ends, you feel restless and unsettled because you
don't have anything to do.
at sea | all at sea
If you're at sea, or all at sea, you're confused about something and
not sure what to do.
at the drop of a hat
If you do something at the drop of a hat, you do it immediately,
without preparation or planning.
at your wits' end
If you're at your wits' end, you're upset and frustrated because you've
tried everything you can think of to solve a problem, and nothing
(your) bread and butter
Your bread and butter is your livelihood or the source of your income.
a bad hair day Informal

If you're having a bad hair day, everything seems to be going wrong


for you.
a bag of tricks
Someone's bag of tricks is their collection of techniques or methods for
getting a job done or for achieving a goal.
a ballpark figure | a ballpark estimate
If you give a ballpark figure or a ballpark estimate, you give a number
which you think is fairly close to the actual one.
a blessing in disguise
You can say something is a blessing in disguise if it appears to be bad
at first, but it results in something very good in the end.
back to square one
If you have to go back to square one, you have to stop and start
again, usually because something isn't working as well as expected.
back to the drawing board
You can say "back to the drawing board" when a plan or a design has
failed, and you decide to begin all over again.
backed into a corner
If you're backed into a corner, you're in a difficult situation that will be
hard to get out of.
bark up the wrong tree Informal

If you're barking up the wrong tree, you're looking for something in


the wrong place or going about something in the wrong way.
bear the brunt
If you bear the brunt of something, you suffer the worst of its impact
or its effects.
beat around the bush | beat about the bush
If you beat around the bush, or beat about the bush, you don't say
something directly, usually because you don't want to upset the
person you're talking to.
beat the rap Informal

If someone beats the rap, they avoid being found guilty of a crime.
behind someone's back
If you do something behind someone's back, you do it without letting
them know about it.
behind the eight ball Informal

If you're behind the eight ball, you're in a difficult or dangerous


position.
behind the times
If someone is behind the times, they are old-fashioned and their ideas
are out of date.
beside the point
You can say something is beside the point if it has nothing to do with
what's being talked about or with the reason something is being done.
beyond a shadow of a doubt
Something is true "beyond a shadow of a doubt" if there is no
possibility at all that it isn't true.
bite your tongue | hold your tongue
If you bite your tongue, or hold your tongue, you force yourself not to
say something you really want to to say.
blow your own horn | blow your own trumpet
If you blow your own horn, or blow your own trumpet, you proudly
boast about your own talents and successes.
break the ice
If you break the ice you say or do something to create a more relaxed
atmosphere when meeting people for the first time.
break your heart
If someone breaks your heart, they cause you a lot of emotional pain
by ending a romantic relationship, or by deeply hurting you in some
other way.
burn your bridges | burn your boats
You have burned your bridges, or burned your boats, if you were in a
situation and you then left it after doing something that made it
impossible to go back there.
by the book
If you do something by the book, you do it strictly according to the
rules or the official procedures.
by word of mouth
If something becomes well-known by word of mouth, it becomes well-
known because people are telling each other about it, and not because
of advertising or other marketing tools.
the back of beyond | the back of the beyond
You can say a place is in the back of beyond, or the back of the
beyond, if it's very far from towns or cities.
the ball's in your court
If someone you're negotiating with says "the ball's in your court", they
think it's your turn to make a move or make an offer.

a chip off the old block


Someone can be described as a chip off the old block if they are very
similar in character to one of their parents, usually their father.
a couch potato
You can say someone's a couch potato if they're very lazy and they
spend a lot of time sitting around watching TV and eating junk food.
call a spade a spade
If you call a spade a spade, you tell the truth in a straightforward and
direct way, even if the truth is not pleasant.
call it a day Informal

If you call it a day, you stop doing something that's usually related to
work.
can of worms Informal

If you say a situation or an issue is a can of worms, you think that


getting involved in it could lead to problems.
can't see the forest for the trees
If you can't see the forest for the trees, you can't see the whole
situation clearly because you're looking too closely at small details, or
because you're too closely involved.
can't see the wood for the trees
If you can't see the wood for the trees, you can't see the whole
situation clearly because you're looking too closely at small details, or
because you're too closely involved.
carte blanche Formal

If you give someone carte blanche, you give them freedom to do


whatever they want in a situation.
caught red-handed
If someone is caught red-handed, they are caught in the act of doing
something wrong such as cheating or stealing.
change your tune
If you change your tune, you change your opinion about something or
your attitude towards someone.
chew the fat | chew the rag
If you chew the fat, or chew the rag, you have a long, friendly chat
with someone.
chickens come home to roost
If chickens are coming home to roost, someone is suffering the
unpleasant consequences of their bad actions in the past.
clean as a whistle
If something is as clean as a whistle, it's extremely clean, or for a
person it can mean they have a perfect record and have never done
anything illegal.
come a cropper Informal

If you come a cropper, you fall over, or you make a mistake which has
serious consequences for you.
come clean
If you come clean about something, you let people know about it after
keeping it a secret.
come in handy Informal

You can say something might come in handy if you think it might be
useful.
come to a head
You can say a situation or a problem comes to a head if it reaches a
crisis point and dealing with it can no longer be avoided.
come to grips with | get to grips with
If you come to grips with something, or get to grips with something,
you deal with the problems or challenges it poses.
come to your senses
If you come to your senses, you see things clearly and begin to act
sensibly after a period of confusion and unwise behaviour.
come up trumps
If you come up trumps, you succeed in something that you may not
have been expected to succeed in.
cook the books | cook the accounts
If someone cooks the books, or cooks the accounts, they keep
inaccurate accounts for a business, usually in order to pay less tax.
cost the earth | charge the earth
If something costs the earth, or they charge the earth for it, it's very
expensive.
couldn't care less Informal

You can say "I couldn't care less" when you don't care about
something, or it doesn't matter to you.
cover your tracks
If you cover your tracks, you make sure no-one can find evidence of
what you've done.
cross that bridge when we come to it
You can say "we'll cross that bridge when we come to it" if someone
mentions a problem that might occur in the future, but you want them
to think about what's happening now instead.
cut to the chase Informal

If you tell someone to cut to the chase, you want them to get straight
to the main point of what they are saying.
the cream of the crop
If something or someone is in the cream of the crop, they are among
the best of a class of things or peo

a done deal Informal

A done deal is an agreement or a decision that is final.


a drop in the bucket
If an amount is a drop in the bucket, it's a very small portion of the
amount that's needed.
a drop in the ocean
If an amount is a drop in the ocean, it's a very small portion of the
amount that's needed.
damned if you do and damned if you don't
If you say "damned if you do and damned if you don't" you're saying
that no matter what someone does, they'll be criticised for it.
day to day
If something happens day to day, it's part of the usual daily routine.
de rigeur Formal

If something is de rigeur, it is necessary to have if you want to be


fashionable or be accepted into a particular social scene.
dead in the water
If something is dead in the water, it has no chance of succeeding or of
making any progress.
dead to the world Informal

If you're dead to the world, you are sound asleep.


deep pockets
You can say a person or an organisation has deep pockets if they have
lots of money.
dig one's own grave
If you dig your own grave, you do something unwise that will result in
your own failure or downfall in the future.
dig up dirt
If you dig up dirt on someone, you try to find details from their past to
make them look bad in the present.
dig your heels in
If you dig your heels in, you stubbornly resist something or refuse to
change.
dirt cheap
You can say something is dirt cheap if it costs very little money.
do someone's dirty work
If you do someone's dirty work for them, you do something unpleasant
for them because they don't want to do it for themselves.
do you the world of good
If something does you the world of good, it makes you feel a lot
better.
do your best
If you do your best, you do something as well as you possibly can, or
to the best of your ability.
dot the i's and cross the t's
If you dot the i's and cross the t's, you do something very carefully to
make sure you haven't made any mistakes.
down in the dumps | down in the mouth Informal

If you're down in the dumps, or down in the mouth, you're feeling sad.
down to earth
If someone is down to earth, they are practical and sensible.
drag your feet | drag your heels
If you drag your feet, or drag your heels, you do something slowly
because you don't really want to do it.
draw a blank Informal

If you draw a blank, you get no response when you ask for something,
or get no results when you search for something.
dressed (up) to the nines Informal

If you are dressed to the nines, or dressed up to the nines, you are
wearing very smart clothes for a special occasion.
drink like a fish Informal

If someone drinks like a fish, they drink a lot of alcohol.


drop a bombshell
If you drop a bombshell, you announce some shocking news.
the die is cast
We can say the die is cast after a decision has been made that will
strongly affect a situation, and it can't be reversed.

(have) egg on your face Informal

You have egg on your face if you've said or done something wrong,
and it's made you feel embarrassed or stupid.
(something) escapes you
If you say something escapes you, it means you can't remember it.
an end in itself
If something is an end in itself, it's done for its own pleasure or benefit
rather than for some other purpose like making money.
an even break
If you get an even break, you get a fair opportunity to succeed in your
ambition or to achieve your goals.
an eye-opener
You can say something's an eye-opener if it's made you realize
something you hadn't been aware of before.
each to their own
You can say "each to their own" when you want to point out that we're
all different and we all like different things.
ear to the ground Informal

If you have your ear to the ground, you know what's really going on in
a situation.
earn your stripes
If you earn your stripes, you do something to prove that you have the
skills or ability for a particular job or rank.
easier said than done
You say something is easier said than done when it looks easy to do,
but in fact it's quite difficult to do.
easy as pie | easy as abc
If something's as easy as pie, or easy as abc, it's very easy.
easy come, easy go Informal

You can say "easy come, easy go" to express the idea that if
something comes to someone easily, such as money they get without
working hard for it, they can lose it just as easily and it won't matter
to them much.
Easy does it! Informal

You can say "Easy does it!" when you want someone to do something
more carefully or more slowly.
easy money
You can say "easy money" to describe money that someone gets
without having to make much effort.
easy on the eye
If something is easy on the eye, it is pleasant to look at.
eat humble pie
If you eat humble pie, you admit that you are in the wrong and
behave apologetically.
eat your words
If you eat your words, you admit that something you said was wrong.
elbow grease
If something needs elbow grease, it needs a lot of hard physical work.
enough is enough
You can say "enough is enough" if you think someone shouldn't do
something because they've done it too many times already, or
because they've been doing it for too long.
err on the side of caution
If you err on the side of caution, you are overly careful in your
approach to something.
esprit de corps Formal

A feeling of pride and comradeship shared by members of a group


such as a military unit or a sports team.
every now and then
If something happens every now and then, it happens occasionally,
but not too often.
every trick in the book
If someone uses every trick in the book to achieve something, they
use any method available, even if it involves some deception.
Everything's coming up roses.
you can say "everything's coming up roses" if everything is turning out
very well for someone or for something.
expand | broaden | widen your horizons
If you expand your horizons, you broaden your outlook on life and its
possibilities.
eyes like a hawk
If someone has eyes like a hawk, they have very good eyesight and
they notice everything.

a fair-weather friend
A fair-weather friend is a person who will only be your friend when
things are going well for you.
a fait accompli Formal

If something is a fait accompli, it is certain to happen.


a flash in the pan
You can say something or someone is a flash in the pan if they're
popular or effective for a short time only.
a foregone conclusion
You can say the result of something is a foregone conclusion if
everyone knows what it's going to be before it happens.
face the music
If someone has to face the music, they have to accept the
consequences of doing something wrong.
face to face
If people meet face to face, they meet in person in the real world.
fair and square
If something was done fair and square, it was done in an honest and
straightforward way, without cheating.
fall from grace
If you fall from grace, you do something that results in a loss of
respect and support, especially among those who influence your life or
career.
feather your own nest
If you feather your own nest, you use your position or your job
illegally for personal gain.
feel the pinch
If you are feeling the pinch, you're finding it harder to survive on your
income.
few and far between
You can say things are few and far between when there aren't many of
them around.
fight a losing battle
If you fight a losing battle, you try to do something even though it
can't be done.
fight fire with fire
If you fight fire with fire in a conflict or a contest, you use the same
methods or "weapons" as your opponent.
fill somebody's shoes
If you can fill somebody's shoes, you can replace them and do what
they do.
find your feet
If you're still finding your feet, you're still adjusting to a new place or a
new situation.
firing on all cylinders
If you're firing on all cylinders, you're functioning as well as you
possibly can.
fly off the handle Informal

If you fly off the handle, you are so angry about something that you
lose control of yourself and start screaming and shouting.
for a song
If you buy or sell something for a song, you buy or sell it at a very
cheap price.
for my money
You can say "for my money" to mean the same as "in my opinion".
for the time being
If something will be the way it is "for the time being", it will be that
way for a limited period of time only.
forty winks Informal

If you have forty winks, you have a short sleep, or a nap.


fresh as a daisy
If you feel as fresh as a daisy, you feel energetic and lively.
friends in high places
If you have friends in high places, you know people in powerful
positions in business or government.
from every walk of life | from all walks of life
If you meet people from every walk of life, or from all walks of life,
you meet different types of people from different levels of society.
from now on
If you do something "from now on", you do it from now until some
unknown time in the future.
from time to time
If you do something from time to time, you do it occasionally, but not
very often.
full of yourself
If you are full of yourself you think you're better or more important
than you really are.
a gut feeling
If you have a gut feeling, you sense something about a person or a
situation, without knowing why, but you're sure what you sense is
true.
get a look in
If you get a look in, you get a fair chance to do something.
get a word in edgeways | edgewise
If you can't get a word in edgeways, you can't say anything because
someone else is talking so much.
get away from it all Informal

If you get away from it all, you go somewhere to escape from your
usual daily routine.
Get cracking! Informal

You can say "Get cracking!" if you want someone to hurry up and do
something faster.
get it off your chest
If you get it off your chest, you tell somebody about something that's
been bothering you and you've been thinking about a lot.
get off on the wrong foot
If you get off on the wrong foot, you start something poorly, or begin
with a mistake.
get to the bottom of
If you get to the bottom of something, you find out its real cause or
the true story behind it.
get your act together
If you get your act together, you greatly improve your attitude and
peformance in relation to something such as your work, or to life in
general.
give it a shot | give it a whirl Informal

If you give something a shot, or give it a whirl, you try doing


something for the first time, usually for fun.
give it your all
If you give (it) your all, you try as hard as you can to succeed in
something.
give someone a hard time
If you give someone a hard time, you bother them or make trouble for
them.
give the green light
If you give something the green light, you give permission for it to be
done, or allow it to happen.
go down a treat
If something goes down a treat, it's a great success and everyone
enjoys it.
go for broke
If you go for broke, you risk everything, or use all your resources and
energy, in order to achieve something.
go out of business
If a company goes out of business, it stops trading and closes down.
go out on a limb
If you go out on a limb, you put yourself in a risky position in order to
support someone or something.
go over your head
If someone goes over your head, they go to someone with more
authority than you in order to get something that you would normally
grant, possibly because they think you won't give it to them.
go overboard
If you go overboard, you do something too much or you do it with
excessive enthusiasm.
go through the motions
You go through the motions when you do something without putting
any real effort or thought into it.
go with the flow
If you go with the flow, you relax and go along with whatever is
happening.
going down Informal

If you know what's going down, you know what's happening in a


situation.
going great guns
If you're going great guns, you're going really well in whatever you're
doing.
grease someone's palm Informal

If you grease someone's palm, you pay them a bribe.


grin and bear it
If you grin and bear it, you accept a difficult situation and try not to let
it upset you.
the gift of the gab | the gift of gab
If you've got the gift of the gab, or the gift of gab, you have the
natural ability to talk in a way that people find entertaining or
persuasive.

(your) hands are tied


You can say your hands are tied if you're prevented from doing
something that you'd normally have the power or the authority to do.
(your) heart goes out to (someone)
If your heart goes out to someone, you feel great sympathy for them.
(your) heart is in the right place
If your heart is in the right place, you try to do the right thing, even if
things don't always work out for the best.
(your) heart isn't in it
If your heart isn't in something you're doing, you don't really want to
do it.
a head start
If you have a head start, you start something ahead of others or with
an advantage over others.
a hidden agenda
If someone has a hidden agenda, they have a secret plan or motive for
doing something.
half-baked Informal

If something is half-baked, it hasn't been properly thought out or


planned.
hang in there | hang on in there Informal

You can tell someone to hang in there, or hang on in there, if they're


in a difficult situation and you want to encourage them, or tell them
not to give up.
hard to come by
If something is hard to come by, it is difficult to find.
hard to swallow
Something that someone has said is hard to swallow if it's difficult to
believe.
have a heart-to-heart
If you have a heart-to-heart with someone, you have an honest talk
and share your feelings with each other.
have a soft spot for
If you have a soft spot for someone or something, you feel a warm
affection for them.
have second thoughts
If you're having second thoughts about something, you're having
doubts about a decision you've made.
have your hands full
If you have your hands full, you're busy.
have your head in the clouds
If someone has their head in the clouds, they are out of touch with the
everyday world and can be unrealistic or naive as a result.
have your work cut out (for you)
If you have your work cut out for you, you have a difficult task to do
or a challenging situation to face.
heads will roll
You can say "heads will roll" if people are going to lose their jobs after
making a mistake.
hit it off
If you meet someone for the first time and the two of you hit it off,
you get along really well and have a great time together.
hit the hay | hit the sack
If you hit the hay, or hit the sack, you go to bed.
hit the nail on the head
If you hit the nail on the head, you describe the exact nature of
something such as a problem, a solution, or a situation.
hit the roof
You can say someone hits the roof if they lose their temper and show
their anger.
hold the fort
If you hold the fort, you look after a place or a business while the
person who is normally in charge is away.
hold your head high | hold your head up high
You can hold your head high, or hold your head up high, if you feel
proud of something.
hold your own
If you hold your own, you are as successful as other people in a
situation, or as good as others at an activity.
hot under the collar
If you are hot under the collar, you feel angry or annoyed about
something.

an ivory tower
You can say someone's in an ivory tower if they're in a place that
separates them from everyday life, such as a university.
I owe you one! Informal

You can say "I owe you one!" when someone has done something for
you and you'd be happy to return the favour one day.
if all else fails
You can say "if all else fails" before saying what you'll do if your plans
don't work out as well as you'd like.
if I were you
You can say "if I were you" when giving advice to someone.
if push comes to shove
You can say "if push comes to shove" before saying what you'll do if
things don't go as well as you'd like, and you're forced to do
something that you'd rather not do.
if worst comes to worst
You can say "if worst comes to worst" before saying what you'll do if
your plans don't work out.
ignorance is bliss
You can say "ignorance is bliss" when you want to say that not
knowing about something unpleasant can be better than knowing
about it and worrying about it.
ill at ease
If you're ill at ease, you feel tense or you can't relax in a situation.
in a bind | fix | jam
If someone is in a bind, or in a jam, or in a fix, they're in a bad or
difficult situation.
in a nutshell Informal

You can say "in a nutshell" if you're about to describe something as


briefly as possible, or you're going to sum something up.
in a row
If something happened several times in a row, it happened several
times in an unbroken sequence.
in any case
You can say "in any case" before giving an additional reason for doing
or not doing something, or instead of saying "anyway".
in deep water
If you're in deep water, you're in some sort of trouble or in a difficult
situation.
in someone's bad books Informal

If you're in someone's bad books, they are not pleased with you.
in someone's good books Informal

If you're in someone's good books, they are pleased with you.


in the black
If a person or a company is in the black, their assets are greater than
their debts.
in the dark
If you're in the dark about something, you don't know about it.
in the long run
If you talk about something "in the long run", you mean over a long
period of time.
in the red
If a person or a company is in the red, their debts are greater than
their assets.
in two minds
If you're in two minds about something, you can't decide what to do,
or you can't decide which option is the best.
it's high time
If you say it's high time something was done, you think it should have
been done already, and is overdue.
It's written all over your face.
If you say "it's written all over your face", you're saying that the
expression on someone's face is showing their true feelings or
thoughts.
itchy feet Informal

If you have itchy feet, you feel the need to go somewhere different or
do something different.
the icing on the cake | the frosting on the cake
If something is the icing on the cake, or the frosting on the cake, it
makes a good situation or a good result even better.
the ins and outs
If you know the ins and outs of something, you know all the details
about it and understand how it works.

a jack of all trades


If you're a jack of all trades, you have many skills and can do many
different jobs.
a jam session
If musicians play in a jam session, they play whatever they feel like
playing in an informal setting.
jobs for the boys
If you say "jobs for the boys" you're referring to the fact that people in
positions of power sometimes use their power to give jobs to their
friends or family members.
jockey for position
If you jockey for position, you try to get yourself in a good position in
relation to others who're competing for the same opportunity or the
same goal.
jog your memory
If something jogs your memory, it helps you to remember something.
joie de vivre
If you have joie de vivre, you feel the joy of living.
Join the club!
You can say "Join the club!" to someone who has just experienced
something unpleasant that you've also experienced, or to someone
who's in an unfortunate position that's similar to your own.
join the ranks of
If someone joins the ranks of a group or class of people, they become
part of that group.
joined at the hip
If two people or things are joined at the hip, they're so closely linked
as to be almost inseparable.
jump down your throat | jump all over you
If someone jumps down your throat, or jumps all over you, they
strongly criticise you or scold you.
jump for joy
You can say someone "jumped for joy" if they were very happy about
something.
jump on the bandwagon
If someone jumps on the bandwagon, they join a movement or follow
a fashion that has recently become popular.
jump out of your skin Informal

You jump out of your skin when something suddenly shocks you and
your whole body jumps.
jump the gun
If you jump the gun, you start doing something too soon.
jump through hoops | go through hoops
You can say you had to "jump through hoops" or "go through hoops" if
you had to complete a lot of tasks before being permitted to do
something.
jump to conclusions
If you jump to conclusions, you decide something is true, or make a
judgement about something, before having enough information to be
sure you're right.
junk food
Food that is bad for us because it contains large amounts of harmful
substances like artificial colouring, preservatives, salt, refined sugar,
and so on.
just in case
You can say "just in case" when describing a possible future problem
and a precaution that has been, or should be, taken against it.
just in time | just in the nick of time
If you do something just in time, or just in the nick of time, you do it
just before time runs out.
Just my luck!
You can say "Just my luck!" when something goes wrong for you, or
when something inconvenient happens.
just shy of Informal

You can say something is just shy of an amount if it's just short of that
amount.
just the ticket
You can say something is just the ticket if it's the perfect thing or if it's
exactly what's needed.
just what the doctor ordered Informal

You can say something was just what the doctor ordered when it was
exactly what was needed.
the jewel in the crown
If something is the jewel in the crown, it's part of a group or set of
similar things, and it's the best of them all.
the jury is still out
We can say the jury is still out when a decision still hasn't been made
about something.

a kick in the teeth


If you get a kick in the teeth, something bad happens to you or you
feel that you've been treated poorly.
a knight in shining armour | armor
If someone is a knight in shining armour, they help you when you are
in a difficult situation.
a knuckle sandwich Informal

If you give someone a knuckle sandwich, you punch them.


keep a low profile
If you keep a low profile, you try not to do anything that will draw
attention to you or create interest in you.
keep abreast of
If you keep abreast of something, you always know about the latest
news and developments in relation to it.
keep an eye on
If you keep an eye on someone, you make sure you know what they're
doing.
keep it under your hat
If someone tells you a secret and you keep it under your hat, you
don't tell anyone.
keep something at bay
If you keep something at bay, you stop something that could be a
problem for you from getting too close or from getting worse.
keep something in mind
If you keep something in mind, you remember some information or
advice and consider it at some time in the future.
keep track of
If you keep track of something or someone, you continue to know
what's happening with them.
keep up with the Joneses
People who try to keep up with the Joneses are people who feel it's
important to show that they're as successful as others (such as their
rich neighbours, "The Joneses").
keep your nose clean
If you keep your nose clean, you stay out of trouble by making sure
you don't do anything wrong.
keep your word
If you keep your word, you do what you promised to do.
kick the bucket Informal

If someone kicks the bucket, they die.


kick the habit
If you kick the habit, you manage to stop doing something that has
become a bad habit.
kill the goose that lays the golden egg
If you kill the goose that lays the golden egg, you destroy something
that has made you a lot of money.
kill time
You kill time when you do something to amuse yourself while waiting
for something.
kill two birds with one stone
If you kill two birds with one stone, you achieve two things with the
one action.
kiss and make up
If you kiss and make up with someone, you get over a disagreement
and become friendly again.
Knock it off!
You can say "Knock it off!" when someone is doing something wrong,
or something that's annoying you, and you want them to stop it.
knock your socks off
If something knocks your socks off, it amazes you and surprises you.
know the ropes
If you know the ropes, you know how to do a job properly, or you
know how things work and how to get things done.
know what's what
If you know what's what, you have a lot of experience and you
understand things well.
know where you stand
If you know where you stand, you know exactly where you fit in a
social or work situation, or in someone's life.
know your stuff
If you know your stuff, you're very good at what you do, and you
know a lot about it.

a law unto themselves


If somebody is a law unto themselves, they do things their own way
and follow their own ideas about how to live instead of following what
others do.
labour of love | labor of love
A labour of love is work that's done for pleasure or for someone's
benefit rather than for money.
lay down the law
If you lay down the law, you tell people what they should do in a
forceful and stern way.
lead the way
If you lead the way, you show others where to go or what to do.
lead you astray
If someone leads you astray, they set a bad example and you behave
badly also, or they encourage you to do the wrong thing.
learn the ropes
If you learn the ropes, you learn how to do a job properly, or how
things work and how to get things done.
learn your lesson
If you learn your lesson, you learn something about life from making a
mistake.
leave no stone unturned
If you leave no stone unturned, you look everywhere in order to find
something, or try everything in order to achieve something.
leave well enough alone | let well enough alone
If you leave well enough alone, or let well enough alone, you don't try
to improve or change something that's already good enough.
lend someone a hand
If you lend someone a hand, you help them.
let off steam
If you let off steam, you do something to release pent-up emotion or
energy.
let the cat out of the bag
If you let the cat out of the bag, you let someone know a secret.
let your hair down
If you let your hair down, you enjoy yourself by doing whatever you
feel like doing and not worrying about what other people might think.
life of the party | life and soul of the party
If you are the life of the party, or the life and soul of the party, you are
the liveliest and most entertaining person at a social gathering.
light at the end of the tunnel
If you can see light at the end of the tunnel, you can see some sign of
the end of a difficult period.
like a fish out of water
You feel like a fish out of water if you're surrounded by people who are
different to you, and it's making you feel a little uncomfortable.
live it up Informal

If you live it up, you enjoy yourself by doing things that cost a lot of
money.
live on your wits | live by your wits
If you live on your wits, or live by your wits, you don't have a regular
job but you survive by cleverly manipulating people or situations.
lock, stock and barrel
You can say "lock, stock and barrel" to mean every single thing when
you're talking about a collection of things.
lose face
If you lose face, your status falls and you aren't respected as much as
you were.
lose your head
If you lose your head, you become very angry about something.
lost for words
You are lost for words if you're so surprised by something that you
can't think of anything to say.
love at first sight
If you experience love at first sight, you love someone from the first
moment you see them.
the last straw
Something is the last straw if it's the latest in a series of annoying or
upsetting events, and it's the one that finally makes you do something
about the situation.
the lion's share
You can say something is the lion's share if it's the biggest share or
portion of something.

a matter of life and death


If something is a matter of life and death, it's extremely important and
it could involve someone's survival.
a means to an end
You can say something is a means to an end if it's the way to reach a
goal, or the way to achieve something.
a mixed blessing
You can say something is a mixed blessing if it seems to be good, but
in fact has bad effects as well as good effects.
made of money
If you are made of money, you have lots of money.
make a killing
If you make a killing, you make a lot of money from a sale or a deal of
some sort.
make a mountain out of a molehill
If you make a mountain out of a molehill, you make a small problem
seem to be a much bigger problem.
make a song and dance about something
If you make a song and dance about something, you make a big deal
out of, or a fuss over, something that isn't very important.
make ends meet
If you make ends meet, you earn just enough to pay for a place to live
and your daily expenses.
make hay while the sun shines
If you make hay while the sun shines, you make good use of the
chance to do something while it lasts.
make the most of
If you make the most of something, you get as much as possible from
it.
make up your mind
If you make up your mind, you make a decision.
make yourself at home
If you make yourself at home, you relax and feel comfortable in
someone else's home.
meet someone halfway
If you meet someone halfway, you compromise with them and agree
to some of their demands, but not all of them, in order to come to an
agreement.
meet your match
If you meet your match, you meet someone who can do as well as
you, or better than you, in something that you're good at.
mend your ways
If you mend your ways, you improve your behaviour and stop doing
things that cause trouble.
middle-of-the-road
If something is middle-of-the-road, it'll appeal to the majority of
people and not be radical or challenging.
Mind your own business! Informal

If you say "Mind your own business!" to someone, you're telling them
to stop interfering in things that don't concern them, or to stop asking
personal questions.
miss the point
If you miss the point of something you hear or read, you don't
understand what it really means.
more often than not
If something happens more often than not, it happens quite often, but
not all the time.
more than meets the eye
You can say there's more to something than meets the eye if it's more
complex, more important or more interesting than it seems at first.
much ado about nothing
If you say something is much ado about nothing, you think it's an
overreaction to something that shouldn't have caused so much
trouble.
much of a muchness Informal

If two or more things are much of a muchness, they are very similar to
each other.
mumbo jumbo
If you describe what someone says or writes as mumbo jumbo, you
think it doesn't make sense or it's not clear because it's too complex.
music to your ears
If something is music to your ears, it's just what you want to hear.
the middle of nowhere
If a place is in the middle of nowhere, it's far from where most people
live.
the moment of truth
The moment of truth is a time when the truth about something is
revealed, or when an important decision is made.
the movers and shakers
You can say people are the movers and shakers in a place or a
situation if they are the ones with the power to make decisions.
(someone's) name is mud Informal

If someone's name is mud, other people are angry with them, or


they're no longer popular, because they've done something wrong.
a narrow escape
If you have a narrow escape, you survive a dangerous situation, but
only just.
a necessary evil
If you say something is a necessary evil, you don't like it but you
understand that it has to be accepted sometimes or it has to exist.
a nest egg
If you have a nest egg, you have money put away for the future.
a new lease of life
If someone has a new lease of life, they have a new enthusiasm for
living.
a new lease on life
If someone has a new lease on life, they have a new enthusiasm for
living.
a night on the town | out on the town
If you have a night on the town, or go out on the town, you go out for
dinner and then go to a show or a dance club or some other
entertainment venue.
a night owl
You're a night owl if you like to stay up and do things late at night.
neck and neck
If two competitors are running neck and neck in a race, they are
almost level.
neck of the woods Informal

A neck of the woods is a neighbourhood or a district, usually rural.


neither here nor there
You can say something is neither here nor there if it's not important,
or not relevant.
nerves of steel
If you have nerves of steel, you are very brave and not many things
make you scared or nervous.
Never mind.
You can say "never mind" when you want someone not to worry or
feel bad about something, or not to bother doing something.
Never say die!
You can say "Never say die!" if you want to tell someone to keep
trying while there's still a chance of success.
next to nothing
If something costs next to nothing, it costs very little, or nearly
nothing.
nip it in the bud
If you nip something in the bud, you stop a problem from becoming
serious by dealing with it as soon as you notice it.
no holds barred
If something is done with no holds barred, it's done without restriction,
rules or restraint.
No sweat! Informal
You can say "No sweat!" if someone asks you if you can do something,
and you're sure you can do it.
No way! Informal

You can say "No way!" when you want to strongly reject an offer, a
request, or a suggestion.
not your cup of tea
If something is not your cup of tea, it's not what you like or what
you're interested in.
nothing to write home about
If you say something is nothing to write home about, you mean it isn't
very important or it isn't very good.
now and then | now and again
If you do something now and then, or now and again, you do it
occasionally.
now or never
If you say it's now or never, you mean that something has to be done
now or it can't be done at all.
the name of the game
You can say something is the name of the game if it's the most
important thing you need to know or to have in order to succeed at
something.
the new kid on the block Informal

If you are the new kid on the block, you are the newest person in a
workplace or in an educational institute, or any other place or
organization.

(something) occurs to you


If something occurs to you, you think of it.
a one-track mind
If someone has a one-track mind, they spend most of their time
thinking about one subject.
off the cuff
If you speak off the cuff, you speak without planning what you will say
beforehand.
off the record
If you say something "off the record", you don't want it in the public
record, or reported in the media.
off the top of your head Informal

If you give someone information off the top of your head, you do so
from memory, without checking beforehand.
off your own bat
If you do something off your own bat, you do it without being asked to
or told to.
old hat
If something is old hat, it's old-fashioned and no longer seen as being
modern and new.
on the back burner
If a plan or a project is on the back burner, it isn't being worked on at
present, but it might be completed in the future.
on the ball Informal

If you're on the ball, you're alert and you know what's going on around
you.
on the off-chance
You can say you're doing something "on the off-chance" if you're doing
it because it might lead to something that you want, even though it's
not definite.
on the one hand | on the other hand
You can say "on the one hand" before describing one of two
contrasting ideas, options, or opinions, and then say "on the other
hand" before describing the other one.
on the record
If you say something "on the record", you say it on the understanding
that it will be part of the public record, and can be reported in the
media.
on the strength of
If you do something on the strength of certain advice or information,
you do it because the advice or information suggests doing it.
on your last legs | on its last legs Informal

If you say you're on your last legs, it can mean you're close to
exhaustion, or it can mean you're close to death. If a thing is on its
last legs, it's close to breaking or wearing out.
once and for all
If you do something once and for all, you do it in a way that's final and
it means you'll never have to do it again.
once in a blue moon
If something happens once in a blue moon, it happens very rarely.
one in a million
If you say someone is "one in a million", you mean they're an
exceptionally good person.
out of the blue
If something happens out of the blue, you're not expecting it to
happen and you're surprised when it does.
out of the question
If something is out of the question, it cannot be considered because
it's impossible or it's not allowed.
out of your depth
If you're out of your depth, you're in a situation that you don't have
the experience to handle, or the knowledge to understand.
out-of-date (1)
Something is out-of-date if it is old and therefore no longer useful or
no longer accurate.
out-of-date (2)
If something like a passport or a credit card is out-of-date, it cannot
be used anymore because the period during which it was valid is over.
over the moon Informal

If you're over the moon about something, you're extremely happy and
excited about it.
over the top
You can say something is over the top if you think it's too extreme or
it's more than a situation needs or deserves.
over your head
If something you hear or read is over your head, or goes over your
head, you don't understand it because the language or the ideas are
too advanced for you.

a pain in the neck Informal

You can say someone is a pain in the neck if they annoy you, or
something is a pain in the neck if you don't like doing it.
a pat on the back
You've given someone a pat on the back if you've told them they've
done something well, or done a good job.
a piece of cake
If you say that something is a piece of cake, you mean that it is
extremely easy.
a pipe dream
A pipe dream is a plan or a dream for the future that could never come
true or be achieved.
paint the town red
If you paint the town red, you visit bars, nightclubs and other
nightspots to have a good time.
par for the course Informal

If something is par for the course, it's what you'd expect it to be.
part and parcel of
If something is part and parcel of an experience or a role in life, it is
an important part of it and it cannot be avoided.
pass the buck Informal

If you pass the buck, you shift the responsibility for something to
someone else in order to take the pressure off yourself.
pay the price
You pay the price for doing something when you experience the
unpleasant results of doing it.
pay through the nose Informal

If you pay through the nose for something, you pay more than the
usual price for it.
pick somebody's brains
If you pick somebody's brains, you ask them for detailed information
or ideas about something.
pick up the tab | pick up the bill Informal

If you pick up the tab, or pick up the bill, you pay for yourself and your
friends in a restaurant or a bar.
plain sailing
If something is plain sailing, it's very easy to do and there are no
problems to overcome.
play it by ear
If you play it by ear, you don't plan ahead but you do whatever seems
best at the time depending on the situation.
playing with fire
You're playing with fire if you're involved in an activity that could be
dangerous, or could lead to problems in the future.
pop the question Informal

If you pop the question, you ask someone to marry you.


prey on your mind
If something is preying on your mind, you can't stop thinking about it
or worrying about it.
pull out all the stops
If you pull out all the stops, you do everything you can to make sure
something is successful.
pull someone's leg Informal

If you pull someone's leg, you play a joke on them by saying


something that isn't true.
pull your socks up Informal

You can say "pull your socks up" to someone if you think they should
improve the way they are behaving or the way they are doing
something.
put all your eggs in the one basket Informal

If you put all your eggs in the one basket, you put all your efforts or
resources into one person, one thing or one plan, and if things don't
work out, you lose everything.
put someone's nose out of joint Informal

If you put someone's nose out of joint, you upset them by not treating
them with as much respect or consideration as they think they
deserve.
put the brakes on
If you put the brakes on something, you stop it or slow it down.
put your foot in it
If you put your foot in it you say or do the wrong thing and usually
make matters worse.
put your foot in your mouth
If you put your foot in your mouth you say or do the wrong thing and
usually make matters worse.
put your own house in order | get your own house in order
If you say to someone "put your own house in order", or "get your
own house in order", you think they should solve their own problems
before telling someone else how to solve theirs.
the pros and cons
The pros and cons of something are its good points and bad points.

a quantum leap
A quantum leap is a major step in the development of something, or in
the improvement of something.
a queer fish
If someone's a queer fish, they are a bit strange and can sometimes
behave in an unusual way.
a question mark over someone | something
If there's a question mark over someone, there's some doubt about
their future or their ability to do something. If there's a question mark
over something, there's some doubt about its quality or its
authenticity.
a question of time
You can say "it's only a question of time" before saying what you think
will happen in the future.
a quick fix Informal

If something is a quick fix, it's a quick and easy, but usually short-
term, solution to a problem.
a quick study
If you're a quick study, you can learn new things quickly.
quaking in your boots
If you're quaking in your boots, you are very frightened.
quality time
If you spend quality time with someone, you spend time doing things
that enrich your lives and improve your relationship.
quick as a flash | quick as a wink | quick as lightning
If you're as quick as a flash, or quick as a wink, or quick as lightning,
you're very quick.
quick off the mark
If you are quick off the mark, you are quick to react to an event or an
opportunity.
quick on the trigger | quick on the draw
If you are quick on the trigger, or quick on the draw, you act quickly
when solving problems or answering questions.
quick on the uptake
If you are quick on the uptake, you're smart and you can understand
things quickly.
quid pro quo Formal

If you do something as a quid pro quo, you do it on the understanding


that something will be done for you in return.
quiet as a mouse
If you're as quiet as a mouse, you're very quiet.
quit while you're ahead
This phrase can be used to express the idea that one should stop
doing something that's rewarding but risky before something bad
happens.
quite a bit of | quite a lot of
If you've got quite a bit of something, or quite a lot of something, you
have a fairly large amount of it.

(it's) raining cats and dogs


You can say "it's raining cats and dogs" if it's raining very hard.
a raw deal
If you think that you got a raw deal, you think you weren't treated
fairly or as well as other people.
a ray of sunshine
Something is a ray of sunshine if it brings happiness to someone.
a recipe for disaster
Something is a recipe for disaster if it's going to cause trouble or
serious problems.
a red-letter day
A red-letter day is a day that is very important for some reason.
a roller coaster | a roller-coaster ride
You can say an experience is a roller coaster, or a roller-coaster ride, if
it involves many emotional highs and lows, or really good times
alternating with really difficult times.
rack your brains | rack you brain
If you rack your brains, or rack you brain, you try hard to remember
something or think of a solution to a problem or a puzzle.
rags to riches
If you go from rags to riches, you start out very poor and you become
very rich.
raison d'être Formal

Your raison d'être is your reason for living, or the most important thing
in your life.
raring to go
If you're raring to go, you're full of energy and you can't wait to get
started on whatever it is you're doing.
reach for the moon | reach for the stars
If you reach for the moon, or reach for the stars, you are aiming to
achieve something great, or do something very challenging.
read between the lines
When you read between the lines you try to understand what someone
implies, but doesn't openly state, when they say or write something.
recharge your batteries
You recharge your batteries if you do something to regain your energy
after a period of hard work.
red light district
A red light district is the area of a town or city in which prostitutes
work.
red tape
Strict adherence to rules and regulations so that a procedure seems to
take longer than necessary.
right down your alley | right up your alley
If something is right down your alley, or right up your alley, it would
be perfect for you or ideal for your skills and interests.
right up your street
If something is right up your street, it would be perfect for you or ideal
for your skills and interests.
ring a bell Informal

If something rings a bell, it sounds familiar or you think you've heard


it before.
rock the boat Informal

If you rock the boat, you do or say something that will upset people by
changing a situation that they don't want changed.
rub it in Informal

If you rub it in, you keep talking about something that embarrasses or
upsets someone.
ruffle someone's feathers
If you ruffle someone's feathers, you do something to upset or annoy
them.
run out of steam
If someone runs out of steam, they run out of energy or enthusiasm.
If something runs out of steam, it loses momentum and slows down.
run rings around | run circles around
If you run rings around someone, or run circles around them, you do
something much better than they do.
run-of-the-mill
Something is run-of-the-mill if it is ordinary and nothing special.
the rat race
The rat race is the highly competitive and stressful world of work and
business.
the real McCoy
You can say something is the real McCoy if it's genuine, and not a fake
or a copy.

(it) stands to reason


You can say it stands to reason that something should be so if it
seems reasonable to you that it should be so.
a shot in the arm Informal

You can say something is a shot in the arm if it gives a person or an


organisation renewed energy or enthusiasm.
a sight for sore eyes Informal

If something or someone is a sight for sore eyes, you are glad to see
them.
a skeleton in the cupboard | closet
If you have a skeleton in the cupboard, or in the closet, you have a
secret in your past which could damage you if it became known.
a slap on the wrist
If someone gives you a slap on the wrist, they give you a mild
punishment for making a mistake or doing something wrong.
a slip of the tongue
If you make a slip of the tongue, you make a small mistake when
speaking.
safe and sound
If you are safe and sound, nothing has harmed you even though you
could have been in danger.
save the day
If you save the day, you do something to ensure success or to solve a
serious problem.
see eye to eye
If you see eye to eye with someone, you totally agree with them about
something.
see red
If you see red, you become extremely angry.
see through rose-coloured glasses | rose-colored glasses
If someone sees things through rose-coloured glasses, they see things
as being better than they really are.
serve someone right
If you say "it serves you right", you're telling someone that their
problem is the result of their own bad behaviour, and they deserve it.
set the world on fire
If you set the world on fire, you do something that creates a lot of
excitment and makes you famous.
set your sights on
If you set your sights on something, or set your sights on doing
something, it becomes the target of your ambition or the object of
your attention.
settle a score
If you settle a score with someone who has hurt you or insulted you in
the past, you do something to hurt or insult them in return.
shoot yourself in the foot
If you shoot yourself in the foot, you harm yourself in some way by
doing something stupid or making a silly mistake.
show your true colours | show your true colors
You show your true colours if you show what you're really like, or you
reveal your true character.
sick as a dog
If you're as sick as a dog, you're very sick.
skate on thin ice
If you're skating on thin ice, you're doing something risky, or you're in
a situation that could quickly become dangerous.
snowed under
If you are snowed under you have so much to do that you're having
trouble doing it all.
so far, so good Informal

You can say "so far, so good" when you're in the middle of doing
something, and everything has been going well.
speak your mind
If you speak your mind, you say what you really feel about something,
or what you really think.
start from scratch
If you start from scratch, you begin something from the very
beginning without using anything else as a starting point.
state-of-the-art
If something is state-of-the-art, it's the latest and best example of
something, or it shows the most recent developments in its field.
steer clear of
If you steer clear of something, you don't go near it because it could
harm you or cause you a problem.
stick out like a sore thumb | stand out like a sore thumb
If someone sticks out like a sore thumb, or stands out like a sore
thumb, everyone notices them because they're not the same as the
people around them.

a tall order
If you say something's a tall order, you mean that it'll be hard to do or
difficult to achieve.
take a break
If you take a break, you have a short rest while doing something like
working or playing sport.
take for granted
We can say somebody takes something for granted if they assume it'll
always be there for them, and they don't seem thankful for it.
take into account
If you take something or someone into account, you consider them
when making a decision or making plans.
take part
If you take part in something, you join in or play a role in it.
take something the wrong way
If you take something the wrong way, you misunderstand what
someone says and think they're being critical when they aren't.
take the bull by the horns
If you take the bull by the horns, you deal with a problem or a
challenge in a direct and fearless way.
take the mickey | mick out of someone Informal

If you're taking the mickey out of someone, or taking the mick out of
them, you're making fun of them or copying their behaviour for a
laugh.
take the plunge
If you take the plunge, you decide to do something you really want to
do even though it's risky and possibly dangerous.
take with a grain of salt | take with a pinch of salt
If you take what someone says with a grain of salt, or with a pinch of
salt, you have doubts about the truth or accuracy of what they say.
talk through your hat
If you're talking through your hat, you're talking about something
without knowing much about it, or you claim something is true when it
isn't.
talk turkey
If you talk turkey, you discuss something seriously, usually to do with
business or money.
teething problems | teething troubles
If someone or something is having teething problems, or teething
troubles, they're having problems during the early stages of
something.
tell (things) apart
If you can tell things apart, you can see they're not the same by
spotting the differences between them.
test the waters
If you test the waters, you try something first before deciding whether
to get involved in it.
the tip of the iceberg
You can say something is the tip of the iceberg when it's just a small
part of something much bigger.
Things are looking up.
You can say "things are looking up" if things are improving.
think better of something
If you think better of something, you decide not to do it even though
you'd made plans to do it.
think outside the box
If you think outside the box, you think creatively and without being
restricted by common ideas or ways of thinking.
think the world of
If you think the world of someone, you admire and respect them very
much.
throw someone in at the deep end
If you throw someone in at the deep end, you give them a difficult job
to do, or a serious problem to deal with, before they have the
knowledge or experience for it.
tie the knot
If you tie the knot, you get married.
tighten your belt
If you tighten your belt, you try to spend less money.
time after time
If you do something time after time, you do it again and again, or
repeatedly.
time and time again
If you've done something time and time again, you've done it many
times, or you've done it repeatedly.

an unknown quantity
If a thing or a person is an unknown quantity, not much is known
about them.
an uphill battle | struggle | task
If doing something is an uphill battle, an uphill struggle or an uphill
task, it is difficult to do because of obstacles such as opposition from
other people.
the upper crust
If you are one of the upper crust, you are a member of society's
highest class.
the upper hand
If you have the upper hand, you have the advantage or you're in the
stronger position in a contest or a conflict.
the ups and downs
If you talk about "the ups and downs" in someone's life, or during a
period of time, you talk about both the good times and the bad times.
um and ah
If you "um and ah" you're having trouble deciding what to say, or
you're having trouble telling somebody something.
under a cloud
If someone is under a cloud, they are suspected of having done
something wrong.
under fire
You're under fire if you're being attacked by the media or cricitised by
many people.
under lock and key
If something is under lock and key, it is kept in a very secure place.
under no circumstances
If you are told that under no circumstances should you do something,
you must never do it, no matter what happens.
under the table
If something is done under the table, it's done secretly, usually
because it's illegal or unethical.
under the weather
If you are under the weather, you're not feeling well.
under wraps
If something is under wraps, it's being kept secret.
under your own steam
If you do something under your own steam, you do it without
anybody's help.
up a gum tree
If you're up a gum tree, you're in trouble or have a serious problem.
up and running
You can say something like a system or an organisation is up and
running if it has started to operate.
up for grabs Informal

If something is up for grabs, it's available for anyone who wants to try
to get it.
up in arms
If you are up in arms, you are angry about something that you think is
unfair or wrong.
up in the air
If something such as a plan to do something, or details of an
agreement, are up in the air, they still haven't been decided or settled
yet.
up to no good Informal

If someone is up to no good, they are doing something bad, or


something wrong.
up to scratch | up to snuff Informal
You can say something is up to scratch, or up to snuff, if it's as good
as it should be, or as good as it needs to be.
up to your neck | up to your eyeballs
If you're up to your neck in something, or up to your eyeballs in
something, you've got too much of it and it's become a problem.
up-and-coming
If someone's up-and-coming, they show signs of being successful in
their profession.
upset the applecart
If you upset the applecart, you do something that causes trouble or
upsets someone's plans.
user-friendly
When we say something is user-friendly, we mean it is easy to use.

a vested interest
If you have a vested interest in something, you have a strong personal
interest in it because you stand to gain from it.
a vicious circle
If you're in a vicious circle you're in a situation in which the solution to
one problem becomes the cause of another one, and the solution to
that one causes the first problem to occur again.
a voice (crying) in the wilderness
You're a voice in the wilderness, or a voice crying in the wilderness, if
you're expressing an unpopular opinion or insight.
a volte-face Formal

If you make a volte-face, you change your opinion or your decision


about something to the exact opposite of what it was.
a vote of confidence
A vote of confidence is something that shows you're happy with the
quality of something or pleased with someone or their work.
the very last
The very last of something is the final remaining quantity just before it
runs out.
the very thing
If you say something is the very thing, you think it's exactly what's
needed.
the villain of the piece
If you call someone the villain of the piece, you're saying they are the
"bad" person in a situation.
vanish into thin air
If something vanishes into thin air, it disappears completely.
vent your spleen
If you vent your spleen, you express your anger.
verbal diarrhoea Informal

If someone has verbal diarrhoea, they can't stop talking.


very well
You can say "very well" when you agree to do something.
vice versa
You can say "vice versa" when what you have just said is also true in
the opposite, or reverse, order.
vim and vigor
If you have vim and vigor, you have lots of energy and enthusiasm for
life.
virgin territory
You can say something is virgin territory if it's never been explored
before or never been done before.
vis-a-vis Formal

You can say vis-a-vis instead of saying "in relation to".


vote with your feet
If you vote with your feet, you show your opinion of something by
acting in a certain way, such as by buying something if you like it, or
by not buying it if you don't like it.

(like) water off a duck's back


You can say an insult or criticism is like water off a duck's back if it
doesn't upset you.
a wake-up call
An event acts as a wake-up call if it makes people more aware of a
danger.
a war of words
If you're in a war of words with someone, you're having a long
argument or dispute with them.
a weight off your shoulders
You can say a weight is off your shoulders if you no longer have to
worry about something or deal with something difficult.
a whale of a time
If you have a whale of a time, you have a great time and really enjoy
yourself.
a white lie
If you tell a white lie, you say something that isn't true in order to be
polite or so as not to hurt someone's feelings.
a wolf in sheep's clothing
A wolf in sheep's clothing is someone who seems to be a good person
but is really a bad person.
the worse for wear
If something is the worse for wear, it has been damaged by being
used a lot. If a person is the worse for wear, they don't feel well.
the writing | handwriting is on the wall
If the writing is on the wall, or the handwriting is on the wall, there are
signs that a person or organization is in trouble and might soon fail.
waiting in the wings
If you're waiting in the wings, you're ready to take over a role or a
position when you have the chance to do so.
warts and all
If you show something warts and all, you show it exactly as it is
without trying to hide any of its faults or weaknesses.
wash your hands of something
If you wash your hands of something that you were involved in, you
decide to stop being involved in it after losing your interest or belief in
it.
waste your breath
You're wasting your breath if you're speaking but what you're saying is
being ignored or having no effect.
water under the bridge | water over the dam
You can say a problem or an experience is water under the bridge, or
water over the dam, if it happened in the past and it no longer affects
the present to a degree that is worth worrying about.
weak at the knees
If you go weak at the knees, you feel an emotion so strongly that it
makes you feel unstable on your feet.
wear your heart on your sleeve
If you wear your heart on your sleeve, you show your emotions openly
and you don't try to hide your feelings.
weather a storm
If you weather a storm, you survive a dangerous event or deal with a
difficult situation.
wet behind the ears Informal

If someone is wet behind the ears, they don't have much experience of
life.
wheeling and dealing
If you're wheeling and dealing, you're involved in the complex world of
making deals and exchanging favours in business or politics, or both.
whet your appetite
If something whets your appetite, it makes you want something, or it
stimulates your desire for something.
wide of the mark
If something is wide of the mark, it isn't true or accurate, or it misses
the target.
with flying colours | colors
If you pass a test with flying colours, you pass it easily and get high
marks.
work like a charm
If something works like a charm, it works very well.
work your socks off | work your tail off
If you work your socks off, or work your tail off, you work very hard.
worth its weight in gold
If something is worth its weight in gold, it's extremely valuable or
extremely useful.
worth your while
If something is worth your while, the benefits to you of doing it are
greater than the value of the time or effort that it requires.

the x-factor
If someone has the x-factor, they have a certain charismatic appeal
and magnetic quality.
x-rated
If something is x-rated, it is classified as pornographic and therefore
not suitable for young people.

a yellow streak
If someone has a yellow streak, they can sometimes act in a cowardly
way and not be very brave.
a yes-man
If someone's a yes-man, they'll say they agree with someone, or say
"yes" to them, in order to please them.
the year dot | the year one
You can say "the year dot", or "the year one", when you're talking
about a very, very long time ago.
year in, year out
If something has happened year in, year out, it's happened every year
for many years in a row.
yellow journalism
Journalism in which sensational stories are used to boost sales, or
biased reporting is used to change the reader's views on an issue.
Both of these are unethical.
yellow-bellied
If someone is yellow-bellied, they are not brave, or they are cowardly.
You are what you eat.
You can say "you are what you eat" when you want to point out the
connection between food and health.
You asked for it! Informal

You can say "You asked for it!" when you think someone deserves the
punishment they're getting or the trouble they're in.
you bet | you bet your boots | you bet your life Informal

You can say "you bet", "you bet your boots" or "you bet your life"
when you strongly agree with a statement or a suggestion, or to
emphasise what you're saying.
You can say that again! Informal

If someone says "You can say that again!", it shows they strongly
agree with what was just said.
You can't win them all.
Something you can say after you, or someone else, loses a contest or
fails to achieve something (said to make losing seem not so bad).
You could have knocked me over with a feather.
You can say "you could have knocked me over with a feather" to show
how surprised you were when something happened, or when you
heard about something.
You're on!
You can say "You're on!" if you want to accept a challenge, a bet or an
invitation.
You're only young once.
You can say "you're only young once" when you're trying to persuade
someone, or yourself, to do something while you're still young enough
to do it.
You're telling me!
You can say "You're telling me!" when you strongly agree with what
someone has said.
young at heart
Someone is young at heart if they still feel young even though they're
getting old.
young blood
If you say "young blood", you mean young people who have fresh,
new ideas and lots of energy.
Your guess is as good as mine. Informal

You can say "your guess is as good as mine" when you don't know the
answer to a question.

a zebra crossing
A zebra crossing is a pedestrian crossing that is marked on the road
with painted black and white stripes.
a zero-sum game
A zero-sum game is a situation in which any gain by one side or
person is at the expense of a loss to another side or person involved in
the situation.
zero in on
If you zero in on something, you focus your attention on it.
zero tolerance
If something is given zero tolerance, it won't be accepted even once.
Zip it! Informal

If someone says "Zip it!", they're telling you to shut up or stop talking
about something.

(it's) raining cats and dogs


You can say "it's raining cats and dogs" if it's raining very hard.
(like) water off a duck's back
You can say an insult or criticism is like water off a duck's back if it
doesn't upset you.
a night owl
You're a night owl if you like to stay up and do things late at night.
a queer fish
If someone's a queer fish, they are a bit strange and can sometimes
behave in an unusual way.
a whale of a time
If you have a whale of a time, you have a great time and really enjoy
yourself.
a wolf in sheep's clothing
A wolf in sheep's clothing is someone who seems to be a good person
but is really a bad person.
a zebra crossing
A zebra crossing is a pedestrian crossing that is marked on the road
with painted black and white stripes.
can of worms Informal

If you say a situation or an issue is a can of worms, you think that


getting involved in it could lead to problems.
chickens come home to roost
If chickens are coming home to roost, someone is suffering the
unpleasant consequences of their bad actions in the past.
drink like a fish Informal

If someone drinks like a fish, they drink a lot of alcohol.


eyes like a hawk
If someone has eyes like a hawk, they have very good eyesight and
they notice everything.
kill two birds with one stone
If you kill two birds with one stone, you achieve two things with the
one action.
let the cat out of the bag
If you let the cat out of the bag, you let someone know a secret.
like a fish out of water
You feel like a fish out of water if you're surrounded by people who are
different to you, and it's making you feel a little uncomfortable.
quiet as a mouse
If you're as quiet as a mouse, you're very quiet.
sick as a dog
If you're as sick as a dog, you're very sick.
take the bull by the horns
If you take the bull by the horns, you deal with a problem or a
challenge in a direct and fearless way.
talk turkey
If you talk turkey, you discuss something seriously, usually to do with
business or money.
the lion's share
You can say something is the lion's share if it's the biggest share or
portion of something.
the rat race
The rat race is the highly competitive and stressful world of work and
business.

(have) egg on your face Informal

You have egg on your face if you've said or done something wrong,
and it's made you feel embarrassed or stupid.
(your) hands are tied
You can say your hands are tied if you're prevented from doing
something that you'd normally have the power or the authority to do.
(your) heart goes out to (someone)
If your heart goes out to someone, you feel great sympathy for them.
(your) heart is in the right place
If your heart is in the right place, you try to do the right thing, even if
things don't always work out for the best.
(your) heart isn't in it
If your heart isn't in something you're doing, you don't really want to
do it.
a bad hair day Informal

If you're having a bad hair day, everything seems to be going wrong


for you.
a gut feeling
If you have a gut feeling, you sense something about a person or a
situation, without knowing why, but you're sure what you sense is
true.
a head start
If you have a head start, you start something ahead of others or with
an advantage over others.
a kick in the teeth
If you get a kick in the teeth, something bad happens to you or you
feel that you've been treated poorly.
a knuckle sandwich Informal

If you give someone a knuckle sandwich, you punch them.


a pain in the neck Informal

You can say someone is a pain in the neck if they annoy you, or
something is a pain in the neck if you don't like doing it.
a pat on the back
You've given someone a pat on the back if you've told them they've
done something well, or done a good job.
a shot in the arm Informal

You can say something is a shot in the arm if it gives a person or an


organisation renewed energy or enthusiasm.
a sight for sore eyes Informal

If something or someone is a sight for sore eyes, you are glad to see
them.
a skeleton in the cupboard | closet
If you have a skeleton in the cupboard, or in the closet, you have a
secret in your past which could damage you if it became known.
a slap on the wrist
If someone gives you a slap on the wrist, they give you a mild
punishment for making a mistake or doing something wrong.
a slip of the tongue
If you make a slip of the tongue, you make a small mistake when
speaking.
a weight off your shoulders
You can say a weight is off your shoulders if you no longer have to
worry about something or deal with something difficult.
Achilles' heel
An Achilles' heel is a weakness that could result in failure.
an eye-opener
You can say something's an eye-opener if it's made you realize
something you hadn't been aware of before.
behind someone's back
If you do something behind someone's back, you do it without letting
them know about it.
bite your tongue | hold your tongue
If you bite your tongue, or hold your tongue, you force yourself not to
say something you really want to to say.
break your heart
If someone breaks your heart, they cause you a lot of emotional pain
by ending a romantic relationship, or by deeply hurting you in some
other way.
by word of mouth
If something becomes well-known by word of mouth, it becomes well-
known because people are telling each other about it, and not because
of advertising or other marketing tools.
caught red-handed
If someone is caught red-handed, they are caught in the act of doing
something wrong such as cheating or stealing.
come to your senses
If you come to your senses, you see things clearly and begin to act
sensibly after a period of confusion and unwise behaviour.
dig your heels in
If you dig your heels in, you stubbornly resist something or refuse to
change.
drag your feet | drag your heels
If you drag your feet, or drag your heels, you do something slowly
because you don't really want to do it.
ear to the ground Informal

If you have your ear to the ground, you know what's really going on in
a situation.
easy on the eye
If something is easy on the eye, it is pleasant to look at.
elbow grease
If something needs elbow grease, it needs a lot of hard physical work.
eyes like a hawk
If someone has eyes like a hawk, they have very good eyesight and
they notice everything.
face to face
If people meet face to face, they meet in person in the real world.
feel the pinch
If you are feeling the pinch, you're finding it harder to survive on your
income.
find your feet
If you're still finding your feet, you're still adjusting to a new place or a
new situation.
get it off your chest
If you get it off your chest, you tell somebody about something that's
been bothering you and you've been thinking about a lot.
get off on the wrong foot
If you get off on the wrong foot, you start something poorly, or begin
with a mistake.
go over your head
If someone goes over your head, they go to someone with more
authority than you in order to get something that you would normally
grant, possibly because they think you won't give it to them.
grease someone's palm Informal

If you grease someone's palm, you pay them a bribe.


hard to swallow
Something that someone has said is hard to swallow if it's difficult to
believe.
have a heart-to-heart
If you have a heart-to-heart with someone, you have an honest talk
and share your feelings with each other.
have your hands full
If you have your hands full, you're busy.
have your head in the clouds
If someone has their head in the clouds, they are out of touch with the
everyday world and can be unrealistic or naive as a result.
heads will roll
You can say "heads will roll" if people are going to lose their jobs after
making a mistake.
hold your head high | hold your head up high
You can hold your head high, or hold your head up high, if you feel
proud of something.
It's written all over your face.
If you say "it's written all over your face", you're saying that the
expression on someone's face is showing their true feelings or
thoughts.
itchy feet Informal

If you have itchy feet, you feel the need to go somewhere different or
do something different.
joined at the hip
If two people or things are joined at the hip, they're so closely linked
as to be almost inseparable.
jump down your throat | jump all over you
If someone jumps down your throat, or jumps all over you, they
strongly criticise you or scold you.
jump out of your skin Informal

You jump out of your skin when something suddenly shocks you and
your whole body jumps.
keep an eye on
If you keep an eye on someone, you make sure you know what they're
doing.
keep your nose clean
If you keep your nose clean, you stay out of trouble by making sure
you don't do anything wrong.
lend someone a hand
If you lend someone a hand, you help them.
let your hair down
If you let your hair down, you enjoy yourself by doing whatever you
feel like doing and not worrying about what other people might think.
lose face
If you lose face, your status falls and you aren't respected as much as
you were.
lose your head
If you lose your head, you become very angry about something.
more than meets the eye
You can say there's more to something than meets the eye if it's more
complex, more important or more interesting than it seems at first.
music to your ears
If something is music to your ears, it's just what you want to hear.
neck and neck
If two competitors are running neck and neck in a race, they are
almost level.
nerves of steel
If you have nerves of steel, you are very brave and not many things
make you scared or nervous.
off the top of your head Informal

If you give someone information off the top of your head, you do so
from memory, without checking beforehand.
on the one hand | on the other hand
You can say "on the one hand" before describing one of two
contrasting ideas, options, or opinions, and then say "on the other
hand" before describing the other one.
on your last legs | on its last legs Informal

If you say you're on your last legs, it can mean you're close to
exhaustion, or it can mean you're close to death. If a thing is on its
last legs, it's close to breaking or wearing out.
pay through the nose Informal
If you pay through the nose for something, you pay more than the
usual price for it.
pick somebody's brains
If you pick somebody's brains, you ask them for detailed information
or ideas about something.
play it by ear
If you play it by ear, you don't plan ahead but you do whatever seems
best at the time depending on the situation.
pull someone's leg Informal

If you pull someone's leg, you play a joke on them by saying


something that isn't true.
put someone's nose out of joint Informal

If you put someone's nose out of joint, you upset them by not treating
them with as much respect or consideration as they think they
deserve.
put your foot in it
If you put your foot in it you say or do the wrong thing and usually
make matters worse.
put your foot in your mouth
If you put your foot in your mouth you say or do the wrong thing and
usually make matters worse.
rack your brains | rack you brain
If you rack your brains, or rack you brain, you try hard to remember
something or think of a solution to a problem or a puzzle.
see eye to eye
If you see eye to eye with someone, you totally agree with them about
something.
shoot yourself in the foot
If you shoot yourself in the foot, you harm yourself in some way by
doing something stupid or making a silly mistake.
stick out like a sore thumb | stand out like a sore thumb
If someone sticks out like a sore thumb, or stands out like a sore
thumb, everyone notices them because they're not the same as the
people around them.
teething problems | teething troubles
If someone or something is having teething problems, or teething
troubles, they're having problems during the early stages of
something.
the gift of the gab | the gift of gab
If you've got the gift of the gab, or the gift of gab, you have the
natural ability to talk in a way that people find entertaining or
persuasive.
the upper hand
If you have the upper hand, you have the advantage or you're in the
stronger position in a contest or a conflict.
up in arms
If you are up in arms, you are angry about something that you think is
unfair or wrong.
up to your neck | up to your eyeballs
If you're up to your neck in something, or up to your eyeballs in
something, you've got too much of it and it's become a problem.
vent your spleen
If you vent your spleen, you express your anger.
vote with your feet
If you vote with your feet, you show your opinion of something by
acting in a certain way, such as by buying something if you like it, or
by not buying it if you don't like it.
warts and all
If you show something warts and all, you show it exactly as it is
without trying to hide any of its faults or weaknesses.
wash your hands of something
If you wash your hands of something that you were involved in, you
decide to stop being involved in it after losing your interest or belief in
it.
weak at the knees
If you go weak at the knees, you feel an emotion so strongly that it
makes you feel unstable on your feet.
wear your heart on your sleeve
If you wear your heart on your sleeve, you show your emotions openly
and you don't try to hide your feelings.
wet behind the ears Informal

If someone is wet behind the ears, they don't have much experience of
life.
work your socks off | work your tail off
If you work your socks off, or work your tail off, you work very hard.
yellow-bellied
If someone is yellow-bellied, they are not brave, or they are cowardly.
young at heart
Someone is young at heart if they still feel young even though they're
getting old.
young blood
If you say "young blood", you mean young people who have fresh,
new ideas and lots of energy.

an ivory tower
You can say someone's in an ivory tower if they're in a place that
separates them from everyday life, such as a university.
chickens come home to roost
If chickens are coming home to roost, someone is suffering the
unpleasant consequences of their bad actions in the past.
hit the roof
You can say someone hits the roof if they lose their temper and show
their anger.
hold the fort
If you hold the fort, you look after a place or a business while the
person who is normally in charge is away.
make yourself at home
If you make yourself at home, you relax and feel comfortable in
someone else's home.
nothing to write home about
If you say something is nothing to write home about, you mean it isn't
very important or it isn't very good.
put your own house in order | get your own house in order
If you say to someone "put your own house in order", or "get your
own house in order", you think they should solve their own problems
before telling someone else how to solve theirs.
run-of-the-mill
Something is run-of-the-mill if it is ordinary and nothing special.
the writing | handwriting is on the wall
If the writing is on the wall, or the handwriting is on the wall, there are
signs that a person or organization is in trouble and might soon fail.
waiting in the wings
If you're waiting in the wings, you're ready to take over a role or a
position when you have the chance to do so.

a knight in shining armour | armor


If someone is a knight in shining armour, they help you when you are
in a difficult situation.
a wolf in sheep's clothing
A wolf in sheep's clothing is someone who seems to be a good person
but is really a bad person.
at the drop of a hat
If you do something at the drop of a hat, you do it immediately,
without preparation or planning.
deep pockets
You can say a person or an organisation has deep pockets if they have
lots of money.
dressed (up) to the nines Informal

If you are dressed to the nines, or dressed up to the nines, you are
wearing very smart clothes for a special occasion.
earn your stripes
If you earn your stripes, you do something to prove that you have the
skills or ability for a particular job or rank.
fill somebody's shoes
If you can fill somebody's shoes, you can replace them and do what
they do.
hot under the collar
If you are hot under the collar, you feel angry or annoyed about
something.
keep it under your hat
If someone tells you a secret and you keep it under your hat, you
don't tell anyone.
knock your socks off
If something knocks your socks off, it amazes you and surprises you.
off the cuff
If you speak off the cuff, you speak without planning what you will say
beforehand.
old hat
If something is old hat, it's old-fashioned and no longer seen as being
modern and new.
pull your socks up Informal

You can say "pull your socks up" to someone if you think they should
improve the way they are behaving or the way they are doing
something.
quaking in your boots
If you're quaking in your boots, you are very frightened.
rags to riches
If you go from rags to riches, you start out very poor and you become
very rich.
talk through your hat
If you're talking through your hat, you're talking about something
without knowing much about it, or you claim something is true when it
isn't.
the jewel in the crown
If something is the jewel in the crown, it's part of a group or set of
similar things, and it's the best of them all.
tighten your belt
If you tighten your belt, you try to spend less money.
wear your heart on your sleeve
If you wear your heart on your sleeve, you show your emotions openly
and you don't try to hide your feelings.
work your socks off | work your tail off
If you work your socks off, or work your tail off, you work very hard.

a red-letter day
A red-letter day is a day that is very important for some reason.
a white lie
If you tell a white lie, you say something that isn't true in order to be
polite or so as not to hurt someone's feelings.
a yellow streak
If someone has a yellow streak, they can sometimes act in a cowardly
way and not be very brave.
caught red-handed
If someone is caught red-handed, they are caught in the act of doing
something wrong such as cheating or stealing.
give the green light
If you give something the green light, you give permission for it to be
done, or allow it to happen.
in the black
If a person or a company is in the black, their assets are greater than
their debts.
in the dark
If you're in the dark about something, you don't know about it.
in the red
If a person or a company is in the red, their debts are greater than
their assets.
kill the goose that lays the golden egg
If you kill the goose that lays the golden egg, you destroy something
that has made you a lot of money.
once in a blue moon
If something happens once in a blue moon, it happens very rarely.
out of the blue
If something happens out of the blue, you're not expecting it to
happen and you're surprised when it does.
paint the town red
If you paint the town red, you visit bars, nightclubs and other
nightspots to have a good time.
red light district
A red light district is the area of a town or city in which prostitutes
work.
red tape
Strict adherence to rules and regulations so that a procedure seems to
take longer than necessary.
see red
If you see red, you become extremely angry.
see through rose-coloured glasses | rose-colored glasses
If someone sees things through rose-coloured glasses, they see things
as being better than they really are.
show your true colours | show your true colors
You show your true colours if you show what you're really like, or you
reveal your true character.
with flying colours | colors
If you pass a test with flying colours, you pass it easily and get high
marks.
yellow journalism
Journalism in which sensational stories are used to boost sales, or
biased reporting is used to change the reader's views on an issue.
Both of these are unethical.
yellow-bellied
If someone is yellow-bellied, they are not brave, or they are cowardly.

a matter of life and death


If something is a matter of life and death, it's extremely important and
it could involve someone's survival.
dead in the water
If something is dead in the water, it has no chance of succeeding or of
making any progress.
dead to the world Informal

If you're dead to the world, you are sound asleep.


dig one's own grave
If you dig your own grave, you do something unwise that will result in
your own failure or downfall in the future.
kick the bucket Informal

If someone kicks the bucket, they die.


kill the goose that lays the golden egg
If you kill the goose that lays the golden egg, you destroy something
that has made you a lot of money.
kill time
You kill time when you do something to amuse yourself while waiting
for something.
kill two birds with one stone
If you kill two birds with one stone, you achieve two things with the
one action.
make a killing
If you make a killing, you make a lot of money from a sale or a deal of
some sort.
Never say die!
You can say "Never say die!" if you want to tell someone to keep
trying while there's still a chance of success.

(have) egg on your face Informal

You have egg on your face if you've said or done something wrong,
and it's made you feel embarrassed or stupid.
(your) bread and butter
Your bread and butter is your livelihood or the source of your income.
a couch potato
You can say someone's a couch potato if they're very lazy and they
spend a lot of time sitting around watching TV and eating junk food.
a flash in the pan
You can say something or someone is a flash in the pan if they're
popular or effective for a short time only.
a knuckle sandwich Informal

If you give someone a knuckle sandwich, you punch them.


a piece of cake
If you say that something is a piece of cake, you mean that it is
extremely easy.
a recipe for disaster
Something is a recipe for disaster if it's going to cause trouble or
serious problems.
chew the fat | chew the rag
If you chew the fat, or chew the rag, you have a long, friendly chat
with someone.
drink like a fish Informal

If someone drinks like a fish, they drink a lot of alcohol.


easy as pie | easy as abc
If something's as easy as pie, or easy as abc, it's very easy.
eat humble pie
If you eat humble pie, you admit that you are in the wrong and
behave apologetically.
eat your words
If you eat your words, you admit that something you said was wrong.
go down a treat
If something goes down a treat, it's a great success and everyone
enjoys it.
grease someone's palm Informal

If you grease someone's palm, you pay them a bribe.


half-baked Informal
If something is half-baked, it hasn't been properly thought out or
planned.
hard to swallow
Something that someone has said is hard to swallow if it's difficult to
believe.
in a nutshell Informal

You can say "in a nutshell" if you're about to describe something as


briefly as possible, or you're going to sum something up.
junk food
Food that is bad for us because it contains large amounts of harmful
substances like artificial colouring, preservatives, salt, refined sugar,
and so on.
kill the goose that lays the golden egg
If you kill the goose that lays the golden egg, you destroy something
that has made you a lot of money.
not your cup of tea
If something is not your cup of tea, it's not what you like or what
you're interested in.
on the back burner
If a plan or a project is on the back burner, it isn't being worked on at
present, but it might be completed in the future.
put all your eggs in the one basket Informal

If you put all your eggs in the one basket, you put all your efforts or
resources into one person, one thing or one plan, and if things don't
work out, you lose everything.
take with a grain of salt | take with a pinch of salt
If you take what someone says with a grain of salt, or with a pinch of
salt, you have doubts about the truth or accuracy of what they say.
talk turkey
If you talk turkey, you discuss something seriously, usually to do with
business or money.
the cream of the crop
If something or someone is in the cream of the crop, they are among
the best of a class of things or people.
the icing on the cake | the frosting on the cake
If something is the icing on the cake, or the frosting on the cake, it
makes a good situation or a good result even better.
the upper crust
If you are one of the upper crust, you are a member of society's
highest class.
upset the applecart
If you upset the applecart, you do something that causes trouble or
upsets someone's plans.
whet your appetite
If something whets your appetite, it makes you want something, or it
stimulates your desire for something.
You are what you eat.
You can say "you are what you eat" when you want to point out the
connection between food and health.

a new lease of life


If someone has a new lease of life, they have a new enthusiasm for
living.
a pain in the neck Informal

You can say someone is a pain in the neck if they annoy you, or
something is a pain in the neck if you don't like doing it.
a shot in the arm Informal

You can say something is a shot in the arm if it gives a person or an


organisation renewed energy or enthusiasm.
do you the world of good
If something does you the world of good, it makes you feel a lot
better.
fresh as a daisy
If you feel as fresh as a daisy, you feel energetic and lively.
ill at ease
If you're ill at ease, you feel tense or you can't relax in a situation.
junk food
Food that is bad for us because it contains large amounts of harmful
substances like artificial colouring, preservatives, salt, refined sugar,
and so on.
just what the doctor ordered Informal

You can say something was just what the doctor ordered when it was
exactly what was needed.
kick the habit
If you kick the habit, you manage to stop doing something that has
become a bad habit.
on your last legs | on its last legs Informal

If you say you're on your last legs, it can mean you're close to
exhaustion, or it can mean you're close to death. If a thing is on its
last legs, it's close to breaking or wearing out.
recharge your batteries
You recharge your batteries if you do something to regain your energy
after a period of hard work.
sick as a dog
If you're as sick as a dog, you're very sick.
stick out like a sore thumb | stand out like a sore thumb
If someone sticks out like a sore thumb, or stands out like a sore
thumb, everyone notices them because they're not the same as the
people around them.
teething problems | teething troubles
If someone or something is having teething problems, or teething
troubles, they're having problems during the early stages of
something.
under the weather
If you are under the weather, you're not feeling well.
verbal diarrhoea Informal

If someone has verbal diarrhoea, they can't stop talking.


vim and vigor
If you have vim and vigor, you have lots of energy and enthusiasm for
life.
warts and all
If you show something warts and all, you show it exactly as it is
without trying to hide any of its faults or weaknesses.
weak at the knees
If you go weak at the knees, you feel an emotion so strongly that it
makes you feel unstable on your feet.
You are what you eat.
You can say "you are what you eat" when you want to point out the
connection between food and health.
a law unto themselves
If somebody is a law unto themselves, they do things their own way
and follow their own ideas about how to live instead of following what
others do.
a slap on the wrist
If someone gives you a slap on the wrist, they give you a mild
punishment for making a mistake or doing something wrong.
a vested interest
If you have a vested interest in something, you have a strong personal
interest in it because you stand to gain from it.
above board
If something is above board, it's been done in a legal and honest way.
above the law
If someone is above the law, they are not subject to the laws of a
society.
beat the rap Informal

If someone beats the rap, they avoid being found guilty of a crime.
by the book
If you do something by the book, you do it strictly according to the
rules or the official procedures.
caught red-handed
If someone is caught red-handed, they are caught in the act of doing
something wrong such as cheating or stealing.
cook the books | cook the accounts
If someone cooks the books, or cooks the accounts, they keep
inaccurate accounts for a business, usually in order to pay less tax.
cover your tracks
If you cover your tracks, you make sure no-one can find evidence of
what you've done.
face the music
If someone has to face the music, they have to accept the
consequences of doing something wrong.
fall from grace
If you fall from grace, you do something that results in a loss of
respect and support, especially among those who influence your life or
career.
feather your own nest
If you feather your own nest, you use your position or your job
illegally for personal gain.
grease someone's palm Informal

If you grease someone's palm, you pay them a bribe.


keep your nose clean
If you keep your nose clean, you stay out of trouble by making sure
you don't do anything wrong.
lay down the law
If you lay down the law, you tell people what they should do in a
forceful and stern way.
mend your ways
If you mend your ways, you improve your behaviour and stop doing
things that cause trouble.
red tape
Strict adherence to rules and regulations so that a procedure seems to
take longer than necessary.
the jury is still out
We can say the jury is still out when a decision still hasn't been made
about something.
under the table
If something is done under the table, it's done secretly, usually
because it's illegal or unethical.

(your) bread and butter


Your bread and butter is your livelihood or the source of your income.
a ballpark figure | a ballpark estimate
If you give a ballpark figure or a ballpark estimate, you give a number
which you think is fairly close to the actual one.
a nest egg
If you have a nest egg, you have money put away for the future.
a vested interest
If you have a vested interest in something, you have a strong personal
interest in it because you stand to gain from it.
cook the books | cook the accounts
If someone cooks the books, or cooks the accounts, they keep
inaccurate accounts for a business, usually in order to pay less tax.
cost the earth | charge the earth
If something costs the earth, or they charge the earth for it, it's very
expensive.
deep pockets
You can say a person or an organisation has deep pockets if they have
lots of money.
dirt cheap
You can say something is dirt cheap if it costs very little money.
easy come, easy go Informal

You can say "easy come, easy go" to express the idea that if
something comes to someone easily, such as money they get without
working hard for it, they can lose it just as easily and it won't matter
to them much.
easy money
You can say "easy money" to describe money that someone gets
without having to make much effort.
feather your own nest
If you feather your own nest, you use your position or your job
illegally for personal gain.
feel the pinch
If you are feeling the pinch, you're finding it harder to survive on your
income.
for my money
You can say "for my money" to mean the same as "in my opinion".
go out of business
If a company goes out of business, it stops trading and closes down.
grease someone's palm Informal

If you grease someone's palm, you pay them a bribe.


in the black
If a person or a company is in the black, their assets are greater than
their debts.
in the red
If a person or a company is in the red, their debts are greater than
their assets.
kill the goose that lays the golden egg
If you kill the goose that lays the golden egg, you destroy something
that has made you a lot of money.
made of money
If you are made of money, you have lots of money.
make a killing
If you make a killing, you make a lot of money from a sale or a deal of
some sort.
make ends meet
If you make ends meet, you earn just enough to pay for a place to live
and your daily expenses.
pay the price
You pay the price for doing something when you experience the
unpleasant results of doing it.
pay through the nose Informal
If you pay through the nose for something, you pay more than the
usual price for it.
pick up the tab | pick up the bill Informal

If you pick up the tab, or pick up the bill, you pay for yourself and your
friends in a restaurant or a bar.
rags to riches
If you go from rags to riches, you start out very poor and you become
very rich.
talk turkey
If you talk turkey, you discuss something seriously, usually to do with
business or money.
tighten your belt
If you tighten your belt, you try to spend less money.
under the table
If something is done under the table, it's done secretly, usually
because it's illegal or unethical.
wheeling and dealing
If you're wheeling and dealing, you're involved in the complex world of
making deals and exchanging favours in business or politics, or both.
worth its weight in gold
If something is worth its weight in gold, it's extremely valuable or
extremely useful.

a jam session
If musicians play in a jam session, they play whatever they feel like
playing in an informal setting.
blow your own horn | blow your own trumpet
If you blow your own horn, or blow your own trumpet, you proudly
boast about your own talents and successes.
change your tune
If you change your tune, you change your opinion about something or
your attitude towards someone.
face the music
If someone has to face the music, they have to accept the
consequences of doing something wrong.
for a song
If you buy or sell something for a song, you buy or sell it at a very
cheap price.
make a song and dance about something
If you make a song and dance about something, you make a big deal
out of, or a fuss over, something that isn't very important.
music to your ears
If something is music to your ears, it's just what you want to hear.
play it by ear
If you play it by ear, you don't plan ahead but you do whatever seems
best at the time depending on the situation.
pull out all the stops
If you pull out all the stops, you do everything you can to make sure
something is successful.
ring a bell Informal

If something rings a bell, it sounds familiar or you think you've heard


it before.
a drop in the ocean
If an amount is a drop in the ocean, it's a very small portion of the
amount that's needed.
a ray of sunshine
Something is a ray of sunshine if it brings happiness to someone.
a voice (crying) in the wilderness
You're a voice in the wilderness, or a voice crying in the wilderness, if
you're expressing an unpopular opinion or insight.
answer the call of nature
If you answer the call of nature, you go to the toilet.
at sea | all at sea
If you're at sea, or all at sea, you're confused about something and
not sure what to do.
beat around the bush | beat about the bush
If you beat around the bush, or beat about the bush, you don't say
something directly, usually because you don't want to upset the
person you're talking to.
can't see the forest for the trees
If you can't see the forest for the trees, you can't see the whole
situation clearly because you're looking too closely at small details, or
because you're too closely involved.
can't see the wood for the trees
If you can't see the wood for the trees, you can't see the whole
situation clearly because you're looking too closely at small details, or
because you're too closely involved.
down to earth
If someone is down to earth, they are practical and sensible.
go with the flow
If you go with the flow, you relax and go along with whatever is
happening.
in deep water
If you're in deep water, you're in some sort of trouble or in a difficult
situation.
make a mountain out of a molehill
If you make a mountain out of a molehill, you make a small problem
seem to be a much bigger problem.
make hay while the sun shines
If you make hay while the sun shines, you make good use of the
chance to do something while it lasts.
neck of the woods Informal

A neck of the woods is a neighbourhood or a district, usually rural.


reach for the moon | reach for the stars
If you reach for the moon, or reach for the stars, you are aiming to
achieve something great, or do something very challenging.
the tip of the iceberg
You can say something is the tip of the iceberg when it's just a small
part of something much bigger.
under a cloud
If someone is under a cloud, they are suspected of having done
something wrong.
under the weather
If you are under the weather, you're not feeling well.
virgin territory
You can say something is virgin territory if it's never been explored
before or never been done before.
weather a storm
If you weather a storm, you survive a dangerous event or deal with a
difficult situation.

a ballpark figure | a ballpark estimate


If you give a ballpark figure or a ballpark estimate, you give a number
which you think is fairly close to the actual one.
a one-track mind
If someone has a one-track mind, they spend most of their time
thinking about one subject.
a zero-sum game
A zero-sum game is a situation in which any gain by one side or
person is at the expense of a loss to another side or person involved in
the situation.
against all odds | against all the odds
If you do something against all odds, or against all the odds, you do it
even though there were many problems and it didn't seem possible to
do.
back to square one
If you have to go back to square one, you have to stop and start
again, usually because something isn't working as well as expected.
behind the eight ball Informal

If you're behind the eight ball, you're in a difficult or dangerous


position.
dressed (up) to the nines Informal
If you are dressed to the nines, or dressed up to the nines, you are
wearing very smart clothes for a special occasion.
forty winks Informal

If you have forty winks, you have a short sleep, or a nap.


have second thoughts
If you're having second thoughts about something, you're having
doubts about a decision you've made.
I owe you one! Informal

You can say "I owe you one!" when someone has done something for
you and you'd be happy to return the favour one day.
in two minds
If you're in two minds about something, you can't decide what to do,
or you can't decide which option is the best.
kill two birds with one stone
If you kill two birds with one stone, you achieve two things with the
one action.
once and for all
If you do something once and for all, you do it in a way that's final and
it means you'll never have to do it again.
once in a blue moon
If something happens once in a blue moon, it happens very rarely.
one in a million
If you say someone is "one in a million", you mean they're an
exceptionally good person.
par for the course Informal

If something is par for the course, it's what you'd expect it to be.
put all your eggs in the one basket Informal

If you put all your eggs in the one basket, you put all your efforts or
resources into one person, one thing or one plan, and if things don't
work out, you lose everything.
the year dot | the year one
You can say "the year dot", or "the year one", when you're talking
about a very, very long time ago.
zero in on
If you zero in on something, you focus your attention on it.
zero tolerance
If something is given zero tolerance, it won't be accepted even once.

bark up the wrong tree Informal

If you're barking up the wrong tree, you're looking for something in


the wrong place or going about something in the wrong way.
beat around the bush | beat about the bush
If you beat around the bush, or beat about the bush, you don't say
something directly, usually because you don't want to upset the
person you're talking to.
can't see the wood for the trees
If you can't see the wood for the trees, you can't see the whole
situation clearly because you're looking too closely at small details, or
because you're too closely involved.
Everything's coming up roses.
you can say "everything's coming up roses" if everything is turning out
very well for someone or for something.
fresh as a daisy
If you feel as fresh as a daisy, you feel energetic and lively.
go out on a limb
If you go out on a limb, you put yourself in a risky position in order to
support someone or something.
make hay while the sun shines
If you make hay while the sun shines, you make good use of the
chance to do something while it lasts.
nip it in the bud
If you nip something in the bud, you stop a problem from becoming
serious by dealing with it as soon as you notice it.
the cream of the crop
If something or someone is in the cream of the crop, they are among
the best of a class of things or people.
up a gum tree
If you're up a gum tree, you're in trouble or have a serious problem.

a ballpark figure | a ballpark estimate


If you give a ballpark figure or a ballpark estimate, you give a number
which you think is fairly close to the actual one.
across the board
If something is across the board, it relates to all without exception.
ahead of the game
You are ahead of the game if you have an advantage over your
competitors in any activity in which you try to do better than others,
such as in business, academia, sports, etc.
another string to your bow
If you have another string to your bow, you have another way of
making a living.
behind the eight ball Informal

If you're behind the eight ball, you're in a difficult or dangerous


position.
get off on the wrong foot
If you get off on the wrong foot, you start something poorly, or begin
with a mistake.
jump the gun
If you jump the gun, you start doing something too soon.
jump through hoops | go through hoops
You can say you had to "jump through hoops" or "go through hoops" if
you had to complete a lot of tasks before being permitted to do
something.
no holds barred
If something is done with no holds barred, it's done without restriction,
rules or restraint.
off your own bat
If you do something off your own bat, you do it without being asked to
or told to.
on the ball Informal

If you're on the ball, you're alert and you know what's going on around
you.
par for the course Informal

If something is par for the course, it's what you'd expect it to be.
plain sailing
If something is plain sailing, it's very easy to do and there are no
problems to overcome.
quick off the mark
If you are quick off the mark, you are quick to react to an event or an
opportunity.
run rings around | run circles around
If you run rings around someone, or run circles around them, you do
something much better than they do.
skate on thin ice
If you're skating on thin ice, you're doing something risky, or you're in
a situation that could quickly become dangerous.
the ball's in your court
If someone you're negotiating with says "the ball's in your court", they
think it's your turn to make a move or make an offer.
the name of the game
You can say something is the name of the game if it's the most
important thing you need to know or to have in order to succeed at
something.
wide of the mark
If something is wide of the mark, it isn't true or accurate, or it misses
the target.
You can't win them all.
Something you can say after you, or someone else, loses a contest or
fails to achieve something (said to make losing seem not so bad).

a ballpark figure | a ballpark estimate


If you give a ballpark figure or a ballpark estimate, you give a number
which you think is fairly close to the actual one.
a night on the town | out on the town
If you have a night on the town, or go out on the town, you go out for
dinner and then go to a show or a dance club or some other
entertainment venue.
a roller coaster | a roller-coaster ride
You can say an experience is a roller coaster, or a roller-coaster ride, if
it involves many emotional highs and lows, or really good times
alternating with really difficult times.
burn your bridges | burn your boats
You have burned your bridges, or burned your boats, if you were in a
situation and you then left it after doing something that made it
impossible to go back there.
cross that bridge when we come to it
You can say "we'll cross that bridge when we come to it" if someone
mentions a problem that might occur in the future, but you want them
to think about what's happening now instead.
light at the end of the tunnel
If you can see light at the end of the tunnel, you can see some sign of
the end of a difficult period.
paint the town red
If you paint the town red, you visit bars, nightclubs and other
nightspots to have a good time.
the new kid on the block Informal

If you are the new kid on the block, you are the newest person in a
workplace or in an educational institute, or any other place or
organization.
under lock and key
If something is under lock and key, it is kept in a very secure place.
water under the bridge | water over the dam
You can say a problem or an experience is water under the bridge, or
water over the dam, if it happened in the past and it no longer affects
the present to a degree that is worth worrying about.
a question of time
You can say "it's only a question of time" before saying what you think
will happen in the future.
a whale of a time
If you have a whale of a time, you have a great time and really enjoy
yourself.
around the clock
If something occurs around the clock, it goes on all day and all night.
behind the times
If someone is behind the times, they are old-fashioned and their ideas
are out of date.
day to day
If something happens day to day, it's part of the usual daily routine.
for the time being
If something will be the way it is "for the time being", it will be that
way for a limited period of time only.
from now on
If you do something "from now on", you do it from now until some
unknown time in the future.
from time to time
If you do something from time to time, you do it occasionally, but not
very often.
in the long run
If you talk about something "in the long run", you mean over a long
period of time.
it's high time
If you say it's high time something was done, you think it should have
been done already, and is overdue.
just in time | just in the nick of time
If you do something just in time, or just in the nick of time, you do it
just before time runs out.
kill time
You kill time when you do something to amuse yourself while waiting
for something.
now and then | now and again
If you do something now and then, or now and again, you do it
occasionally.
now or never
If you say it's now or never, you mean that something has to be done
now or it can't be done at all.
once in a blue moon
If something happens once in a blue moon, it happens very rarely.
the moment of truth
The moment of truth is a time when the truth about something is
revealed, or when an important decision is made.
the year dot | the year one
You can say "the year dot", or "the year one", when you're talking
about a very, very long time ago.
time after time
If you do something time after time, you do it again and again, or
repeatedly.
time and time again
If you've done something time and time again, you've done it many
times, or you've done it repeatedly.
year in, year out
If something has happened year in, year out, it's happened every year
for many years in a row.

a roller coaster | a roller-coaster ride


You can say an experience is a roller coaster, or a roller-coaster ride, if
it involves many emotional highs and lows, or really good times
alternating with really difficult times.
a zebra crossing
A zebra crossing is a pedestrian crossing that is marked on the road
with painted black and white stripes.
burn your bridges | burn your boats
You have burned your bridges, or burned your boats, if you were in a
situation and you then left it after doing something that made it
impossible to go back there.
cross that bridge when we come to it
You can say "we'll cross that bridge when we come to it" if someone
mentions a problem that might occur in the future, but you want them
to think about what's happening now instead.
jump on the bandwagon
If someone jumps on the bandwagon, they join a movement or follow
a fashion that has recently become popular.
plain sailing
If something is plain sailing, it's very easy to do and there are no
problems to overcome.
put the brakes on
If you put the brakes on something, you stop it or slow it down.
rock the boat Informal

If you rock the boat, you do or say something that will upset people by
changing a situation that they don't want changed.
steer clear of
If you steer clear of something, you don't go near it because it could
harm you or cause you a problem.
upset the applecart
If you upset the applecart, you do something that causes trouble or
upsets someone's plans.

(it's) raining cats and dogs


You can say "it's raining cats and dogs" if it's raining very hard.
a fair-weather friend
A fair-weather friend is a person who will only be your friend when
things are going well for you.
a ray of sunshine
Something is a ray of sunshine if it brings happiness to someone.
have your head in the clouds
If someone has their head in the clouds, they are out of touch with the
everyday world and can be unrealistic or naive as a result.
make hay while the sun shines
If you make hay while the sun shines, you make good use of the
chance to do something while it lasts.
quick as a flash | quick as a wink | quick as lightning
If you're as quick as a flash, or quick as a wink, or quick as lightning,
you're very quick.
snowed under
If you are snowed under you have so much to do that you're having
trouble doing it all.
under a cloud
If someone is under a cloud, they are suspected of having done
something wrong.
under the weather
If you are under the weather, you're not feeling well.
weather a storm
If you weather a storm, you survive a dangerous event or deal with a
difficult situation.

a ballpark figure | a ballpark estimate


If you give a ballpark figure or a ballpark estimate, you give a number
which you think is fairly close to the actual one.
a done deal Informal

A done deal is an agreement or a decision that is final.


a drop in the bucket
If an amount is a drop in the bucket, it's a very small portion of the
amount that's needed.
a new lease on life
If someone has a new lease on life, they have a new enthusiasm for
living.
a quick study
If you're a quick study, you can learn new things quickly.
a zero-sum game
A zero-sum game is a situation in which any gain by one side or
person is at the expense of a loss to another side or person involved in
the situation.
an ax to grind (1)
If you have an ax to grind with someone, you have a problem with
them, or a complaint against them, which you'd like to discuss.
an even break
If you get an even break, you get a fair opportunity to succeed in your
ambition or to achieve your goals.
at loose ends
If you're at loose ends, you feel restless and unsettled because you
don't have anything to do.
beat the rap Informal

If someone beats the rap, they avoid being found guilty of a crime.
behind the eight ball Informal

If you're behind the eight ball, you're in a difficult or dangerous


position.
can't see the forest for the trees
If you can't see the forest for the trees, you can't see the whole
situation clearly because you're looking too closely at small details, or
because you're too closely involved.
going down Informal

If you know what's going down, you know what's happening in a


situation.
hit the hay | hit the sack
If you hit the hay, or hit the sack, you go to bed.
jockey for position
If you jockey for position, you try to get yourself in a good position in
relation to others who're competing for the same opportunity or the
same goal.
keep up with the Joneses
People who try to keep up with the Joneses are people who feel it's
important to show that they're as successful as others (such as their
rich neighbours, "The Joneses").
leave well enough alone | let well enough alone
If you leave well enough alone, or let well enough alone, you don't try
to improve or change something that's already good enough.
No way! Informal

You can say "No way!" when you want to strongly reject an offer, a
request, or a suggestion.
right down your alley | right up your alley
If something is right down your alley, or right up your alley, it would
be perfect for you or ideal for your skills and interests.
the new kid on the block Informal

If you are the new kid on the block, you are the newest person in a
workplace or in an educational institute, or any other place or
organization.
under the table
If something is done under the table, it's done secretly, usually
because it's illegal or unethical.
yellow journalism
Journalism in which sensational stories are used to boost sales, or
biased reporting is used to change the reader's views on an issue.
Both of these are unethical.
zero tolerance
If something is given zero tolerance, it won't be accepted even once.

up a gum tree
If you're up a gum tree, you're in trouble or have a serious problem.
a drop in the ocean
If an amount is a drop in the ocean, it's a very small portion of the
amount that's needed.
a new lease of life
If someone has a new lease of life, they have a new enthusiasm for
living.
a piece of cake
If you say that something is a piece of cake, you mean that it is
extremely easy.
a zebra crossing
A zebra crossing is a pedestrian crossing that is marked on the road
with painted black and white stripes.
an axe to grind (2)
If you have an axe to grind, you have a strong opinion about
something and you express this opinion whenever you can.
another string to your bow
If you have another string to your bow, you have another way of
making a living.
at a loose end
If you're at a loose end, you have nothing to do.
can't see the wood for the trees
If you can't see the wood for the trees, you can't see the whole
situation clearly because you're looking too closely at small details, or
because you're too closely involved.
come a cropper Informal

If you come a cropper, you fall over, or you make a mistake which has
serious consequences for you.
come up trumps
If you come up trumps, you succeed in something that you may not
have been expected to succeed in.
eat humble pie
If you eat humble pie, you admit that you are in the wrong and
behave apologetically.
go down a treat
If something goes down a treat, it's a great success and everyone
enjoys it.
itchy feet Informal

If you have itchy feet, you feel the need to go somewhere different or
do something different.
jobs for the boys
If you say "jobs for the boys" you're referring to the fact that people in
positions of power sometimes use their power to give jobs to their
friends or family members.
just the ticket
You can say something is just the ticket if it's the perfect thing or if it's
exactly what's needed.
make a song and dance about something
If you make a song and dance about something, you make a big deal
out of, or a fuss over, something that isn't very important.
off your own bat
If you do something off your own bat, you do it without being asked to
or told to.
right up your street
If something is right up your street, it would be perfect for you or ideal
for your skills and interests.
take the mickey | mick out of someone Informal

If you're taking the mickey out of someone, or taking the mick out of
them, you're making fun of them or copying their behaviour for a
laugh.
um and ah
If you "um and ah" you're having trouble deciding what to say, or
you're having trouble telling somebody something.