100 Popular Idioms and their Meaning.
1) Don’t give up the day job.
You are not very good at that. You could definitely not do it professionally.
“I really like the way you sing, but don’t give up your day job.
2) Cash cow.
An easy way to earn money regularly.
“Income tax is a real cash cow for the government.”
3) Bite off more than you can chew.
Trying to do something that is too difficult or time consuming to finish.
“I’m glad you want to prepare the report by yourself. Just be sure that you don’t bite off more than you can chew.”
4) Clear the air
Discuss something that was causing people to feel upset.
“There seems to have been a misunderstanding. I’d like to explain what happened, just to clear the air.”
5) Turn your back on
Give up on, or abandon.
“I needed your help but you just turned your back on me”
6) Not cut out for
Not suitable for something.
“He tried mountain climbing, but he simply was not cut out for it.”
7) Scrape the bottom of the barrel
The very last, or the very worst.
“These are the last volunteers we could find. We really had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find them.”
8) A class act
Sophisticated, above average.
“He offered to help,even though he doesn’t know me. He’s a real class act.”
9) Clean up your act
Improve your behavior.
“If you are ever going to improve your English skills, you must start getting in to class on time and doing your homework. Why don’t you clean up your act?”
10) Get your act together
Get more organized.
“You have been late for work every day this week. If you want to keep this job,you must get your act together.”
11) A piece of the action
Participation in an activity.
“I heard that you are looking for partners in your new investment. If you don’t mind, I would like to get in on a piece of the action.”
12) Actions speak louder than words.
People’s intentions can be judged better by what they do than what they say.
“Why don’t you give her a hug instead of saying you are sorry, actions speak louder than words.”
13) In the air
Being discussed, generally obvious.
“The days are getting longer and the flowers are blooming. Spring is in the air.”
14) Go ape
“Jack was really angry. I thought he was going to go ape.”
15) A grey area
Something that is difficult to define.
“I researched your case, but there are not any black and white answers. Your situation seems to fall into a grey area.”
16) Up in arms
“The crows were agitated. Everyone was up in arms over the government decision.”
17) Be glad to see the back of
Be happy when a person leaves.
“That guy bothers me, I’ll be glad to see the back of him.”
18) Give him/her credit
Acknowledge an achievement or contribution of a person.
“Although he is not easy to work for, you have to give him credit for managing the company well.”
19) Go behind someone’s back
Do something without telling someone.
“Don’t trust Jane. She acts friendly but she’s always going behind someone’s back.”
20) Each to his own
Everyone is entitled to his own individual opinion.
“I can’t say that I like George’s new furniture. It seems very plain and uncomfortable. Oh well,each to his own.”
21) Eager beaver
“John did all of his homework before supper. He sure is an eager beaver.”
22) Early bird
A person who is early, or gets up early.
“Dave was in class 30 minutes before anyone else. What an early bird.”
23) Scratch the surface
Examine only a part of something. Uncover only afew facts about something.
“Cancer research is a very long-term process. So far, we have just begun to scratch the surface.”
24) Give him the slip
Leave him. Hide from him.
“I think that man is following us. Let’s give him the slip.”
25) Cold shoulder
To treat someone in an unfriendly manner.
“I don’t think Jim likes me. I tried to speak with him but he gave me the cold shoulder.”
26) Get the ball rolling
“All right everyone, we spent a lot of time planning this project. Now, it’s time to get the ball rolling.”
27) Jump on the bandwagon
Join a popular trend or activity.
“I like that new procedure and I’ve decided to jump on the band wagon.”
28) A losing battle
Something that cannot be accomplished.
“I’ve tried fixing this phone many times; I just can’t do it by myself. It’s a losing battle.”
29) Keep something at bay
Keep something away.
“Sarah found it difficult to keep the salesperson at bay.”
30) Spill the beans
Tell a secret.
“I won’t be the one to spill the beans.”
31) Beggars can’t be choosers
People cannot complain about something they get for free.
“I don’t like the color of the sweater she gave me, but beggars can’t be choosers.”
32) Flesh and blood
“I must help him. After all, he’s my own flesh and blood.”
33) Give the benefit of the doubt
Believe someone’s statement, without proof.
“The teacher’s explanation did not seem logical, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt.”
34) A safe bet
Probably true. Will probably happen.
“It’s a safe bet that your English skills improve quickly if you study at Languets.”
35) Fit the bill
“That seems to fit the bill. I’ll take it.”
36) Black and blue
“He was beaten until he was black and blue.”
37) In cold blood
With no compassion or mercy. Usually associated with ruthless murder.
“The assassin was evil. He killed him in cold blood.”
38) Out of the blue
“A great idea just came to me out of the blue.”
39) Call someone’s bluff
Make someone prove what they say.
“He implied that he would terminate my contract, but I called his bluff.”
40) Rock the boat
Create problems for other people.
“Everyone likes Anthony. He doesn’t rock the boat.“
41) By the book
Doing something according to rules.
“He’s a good cop. He does everything by the book.”
42) Give someone the boot
Dismiss or get rid of someone.
“Mr. Smith is an easy boss to work for. He doesn’t like to give someone the boot.”
43) Get to the bottom of
Learn about and understand fully.
“We are not sure what happened, but we intend to get to the bottom of this.”
44) Out of bounds
“Hans wanted to ask Mary out on a date, but I explained that she is out of bounds.Mary is engaged to Jack.”
45) Bread and butter
“We are very dependent on our advertising revenue. It’s our bread and butter.”
46) The best thing since sliced bread
A good invention or innovation.
“I love this paper folding machine. It’s the best thing since sliced bread.”
47) Give me a break
Don’t expect me to believe or agree with that. “You think the teacher is joking ? Give me a break.”
48) Don’t hold your breath
Don’t wait too long because it might not happen.
“Yes, it’s possible that they will lower taxes, but don’t hold your breath.”
49) Cross that bridge when you come to it
Deal with a problem if and when it becomes necessary, not before.
“I’m not too worried about a possible downturn in the economy. Anyway, let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.”
50) The bubble has burst
A previously positive situation has encountered a serious problem.
“Last year, the stock market was doing very well. Unfortunately, it seems that the bubble has burst.”
51) The buck stops here
Problems are resolved here.
“A lot of people try to pass problems to other people. At my desk, however, the buck stops here.”
52) Burn your bridges
Make it impossible to return.
“Be polite when you hand in your resignation. After all, you don’t want to burn your bridges.”
53) My ears are burning
I think someone is saying something about me.
“Pierre is talking again. My ears are burning.”
54) Put on the back burner
Leave it for later.
“I don’t think we’ll have time to complete it this year. Let’s put it on the back burner.”
55) Someone means business
Someone is serious
“Watch out for Harry. He’s someone who means business.”
56) At the touch of a button
Quickly and easily.
“No problem. I can change your account information at the touch a button.”
57) Have your cake and eat it
Enjoy something without paying for it.
“He expected to pass without studying. Unfortunately, you cannot have your cake and eat it, too.”
58) A close call
Something (usually bad) almost happening.
“That car almost hit us. That was a close call.”
59) Enough is enough
This should stop.
“I have listened to his complaints for years but enough is enough.”
60) A fat cat
A wealthy person.
“He has everything he needs.He’s a real fat cat.”
61) My two cents worth
My humble opinion.
“He seems like a corrupt politician. That’s just my two cent’s worth.”
62) Hang out
Be together, spend time with each other.
“Hey Lauren, let’s get together tonight, we can just hangout and practice our English.”
63) A change of heart
A changed opinion.
“At one time, I supported George Bush. As time went on, however, I had a change of heart.”
64) Get something off your chest
Explain something that is bothering you. “Gary, you don’t seem happy. Is there something you would like to get off your chest ?”
65) Don’t count your chickens before the eggs have hatched
Don’t make plans for something that might not happen.
“Yes, I think we will probably get a raise in pay this year. Remember, though, don’t count your chickens before the eggs have hatched.”
66) A chip on his shoulder
He is angry about something.
“I don’t know why he’s so unhappy. He seems to have a chip on his shoulder.”
67) Come full circle
A process has been completed.
“The salmon has returned to the place where it originally hatched. Its life cycle has come full circle.”
68) Squeaky clean
Legitimate and proper.
“We checked all of her references. She’s squeaky clean.”
69) In the clear
Out of trouble.
“His innocence has been proven. He’s in the clear.”
70) Steer clear of
“She’s not very nice. I think we should steer clear of her.”
71) Round the clock
“She’s a very hard worker. She usually works around the clock.”
72) Turn back the clock
Go back in time. “I feel old. I wish I could turn back the clock.”
73) Like clockwork
With mechanical efficiency.
“He’s very predictable. He always eats at the same time, like clockwork.”
74) Wake up and smell the coffee
Think more realistically.
“He does not respect you as much as you think. Wake up and smell the coffee.”
75) The other side of the coin
Another version of a story or event.
“The global summit will encourage meaning full dialogue. On the other side of the coin, it might result in violent protests.”
76) Left out in the cold
Left unaided or unprotected.
“They don’t include me in their group. I feel left out in the cold.”
77) With flying colors
With enthusiasm and exuberance.
“I can’t wait to see you all. I’ll be there with flying colors.”
78) Scrape by
Have just enough but not more.
“Our budget is not satisfactory but we will find a way to scrape by.”
79) A tough cookie
A stubborn, strong person.
“Don’t get Shirley upset. She’s a tough cookie.”
80) Keep your cool
Don’t become upset.
“Relax, keep your cool.”
81) Lose your cool
“Don’t get upset. If you lose your cool, it will make matters worse.”
82) In a tight corner
Without any good options.
“Milo has run out of options. If he takes any more chance, he might find himself in a tight corner.”
83) A couch potato
A lazy person.
“Luis just watches TV all day. He really is a couch potato.”
84) Takes its course
A situation develops naturally.
“There is nothing we can do to relieve the effects of her disease. We can only wait and let the illness take its course.”
85) Up the creek
“I warned Bill but he would not listen. Now, he’s up the creek.”
86) Crocodile tears
Exaggerated or faked sympathy.
“She told me she was sorry but she was not, it was just crocodile tears.”
87) When it comes to the crunch
When there are no more possibilities.
“Victor seems to have a casual point of view. When it comes to the crunch, though, he is a real professional.”
88) A far cry from
Very different from.
“His personality is a far cry from his father’s.”
Without research, planning, or considering.
“I haven’t had the time to think about it. My off-the-cuff impression, however, is that it is a good idea.”
90) Can’t cut it
Cannot do it.
“Kim shouldn’t be working here. She just can’t cut it.”
91) In the dark
“They didn’t tell me anything. I felt like they had left me in the dark.”
92) A shot in the dark
“I’m not sure but I could take a shot in the dark.”
93) Call it a day
“I’m tired. Let’s call it a day.”
94) Late in the day
(Almost) too late.
“The government just decided to buy new helicopters, but it seems a little late in the day to make such a decision.”
95) In broad daylight
Without trying to hide it.
“They robbed the bank in broad daylight.”
96) Makes someone’s day
Make someone happy.
“Your letter made my day!”
97) Wouldn’t be caught dead
“I hate that dress. I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing it.”
98) Get a raw deal
Receives less than what is deserved. “Be sure to read the contract carefully before you sign it. You don’t want to get a raw deal.”
99) Runs deep
Entrenched, or ingrained.
“He loves his country. Patriotism runs deep in his veins.”
100) Out of your depth
Beyond your existing knowledge or ability.
“You don’t seem to have much experience in this subject. Are you sure you’re not out of your depth?”