Important idioms & phrases

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Offline 710001113

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Important idioms & phrases
« on: March 04, 2018, 04:43:16 PM »
1. In high spirits

Example – He was in high spirits when I met him in the office.

Meaning – In a cheerful mood.

2. Struck several bad patches

Example – He struck several bad patches before he made good.

Meaning – Had many professional difficulties.

3. A chip off the old block

Example – Truly he is a chip off the old block.

Meaning – Very similar to his father.

4. Bitten off more than one can chew

Example – Suresh has unknowingly bitten off more than he can chew.

Meaning – To take up a task which one may not be able to accomplish due to lack of ability.

5. The bare bones

Example – The bare bones of the conversation had been that he hated my performances in that project.

Meaning – The main point.


Idioms came in last 10 years WBCS Preliminary Examination

6. Takes no prisoners

Example – The Indian Army’s order was to take no prisoners.

Meaning – To kill the enemy rather than seize them as prisoners.

 NOTE: Generally ‘takes no prisoners’ is associated with war, but we can use it in other situations too.

For example –  The new manager takes no prisoners, he is very determined and ruthless. (Here the proverbs means ‘to be extremely ruthless with the opposition’)

7. Pandora’s box

Example – Unfortunately, his decisions opens a Pandora’s box of domestic violence.

Meaning – To do something that causes a lot of new problems that one did not expect.

8. Beat a dead horse

Example – Do you think its’ worth sending the reapplication to the company or I am beating a dead horse.

Meaning – To waste time doing something that has already been attempted.

9. Left to his own devices

Example – Sumit’s father left to his own devices for the new project.

Meaning – To allow you to decide for yourself what you do.

10. Shoestring budgets

Example – The restaurant is running on a shoestring budget, so they can’t afford more stuff.

Meaning – Characterized by a small amount of money.

11. In the same boat

Example – Suddenly Rohit was in the same boat as any other employees who had lost their job.

Meaning – Experiencing the same situation or condition.

12. Keep one’s word

Example – Keeping one’s word is necessary to the legal profession.

Meaning – To do what you promise to do./To uphold one’s promise.

13. Knocked over

Example – I didn’t mean to knock you over./The thief knocked over the television set from my house.

Meaning – To push or strike someone or something./To steal something.

14. To catch a tartar

Example – Our neighbor thought I would give up if my complaint had to go to the court. They will soon realize that they have caught a Tartar.

Meaning – To deal with someone or something that proves unexpectedly troublesome or powerful.

15. To lose face

Example – He denied that he made a mistake because he didn’t want to lose his face.

Meaning – To do something which makes other people stop respecting you.

16. The rank and file

Example – The party leadership seems to be losing the support of the rank and file.

Meaning – The ordinary members of an organization and not its leaders.

17. Once in a blue moon

Example – Once in a blue moon day, I get time to travel.

Meaning – Something that happens very rarely.

18. Beating around the bush

Example – The politician was beating around the bush when people demanded a reason for the scam.

Meaning – Avoiding the topic.

19. Chip on your shoulder

Example – He has a chip on his shoulder for being abandoned by his friends in school days.

Meaning – When someone is upset about something that happened a while ago.

20. A piece of cake

Example – Music is my piece of cake.

Meaning – Something that is easy to understand or do.


#15 different rules of changing Singular noun into Plural

21. Blessing in disguise

Example – The course that I took was a blessing in disguise and I realize it now.

Meaning – Something good or useful that did not initially seem that way.

22. Come hell or high water

Example – I have decided that come hell or high water, I will finish my work.

Meaning – Possible obstacles in your path.

23. Taste of your own medicine

Example – Bad people will surely have a chance to taste their own medicine.

Meaning – When someone receives the same treatment, usually negative, that he/she gives to others.

24. Golden handshake

Example – It’s better to offer a golden handshake to the aged employees.

Meaning – A big amount of money given to a person when he/she leaves a company or retires.

25. Apple of one’s eye

Example – My mother is always an apple of my family’s eye.

Meaning – Being cherished more than others are.

26. Feeling a bit under weather

Example – I am not going to gym today as I am feeling a bit under weather.

Meaning – Feeling slightly ill.

27. Mean business

Example – The border is surrounded by forces who mean business.

Meaning – Being serious/ dedicated.

28. The best of both worlds

Example – I had the best of both world since I worked as an ordinary member but got to learn from the leaders.

Meaning – The benefit of widely different situations, enjoyed at the same time.

29. Hear it on grapevine

Example – I heard it on grapevine that he has cheated the organization.

Meaning – To hear rumors about something or someone.

30. Can’t judge a book by its cover

Example – It is wise not to judge a book by its cover.

Meaning – Can’t judge something primarily by it’s appearance./ Don’t judge someone based on how the person looks like.

31. The icing on the cake

Example – I got MS in the University that I wished to and scholarship was like the icing on the cake.

Meaning – Something that turns good into great.

32. Jump the bandwagon

Example – When I put on few kgs, I immediately jumped on the bandwagon and join the gym.

Meaning – To join a popular activity or trend.

33. Cost an arm and a leg

Example – My laziness costs me an arm and a leg every time.

Meaning – Be very expensive.

34. The ball is in your court

Example – Now the ball is in my court and I will take the revenge on him.

Meaning – When it is up to you to take the next step or decision.

35. It takes two to tango

Example – The manager realizes that it takes two to tango before taking the decision.

Meaning – Actions or communications need more than one person.

36. Last straw

Example – If I complete this last straw, I will complete this level.

Meaning – The final problem in a series of problems.

37. Break the ice

Example – Always break the ice in a group discussion.

Meaning – To initiate a social conversation or interaction.

38. A bird’s eye view

Example – The building gives you a bird’s eye view of the whole city.

Meaning – A view from a very high place that allows seeing a very large area.

39. Be on cloud nine

Example – I will be on cloud nine when I pass the exam.

Meaning – Be very happy.

40. Eat humble pie

Example – The employee will have to eat humble pie for his misbehavior to his boss.

Meaning – To apologize humbly.

41. To show the white feather

Example – Becky showed the white feather and backed down.

Meaning – To act like a coward

42. To play fast and loose

Example – The TN reporter is known for playing fast and loose with the facts.

Meaning – To act in an unreliable way./Act carelessly or irresponsibly

43. Wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve

Example – Sumit always wears his heart on his sleeve, so there is no doubt who he’ll be supporting.

Meaning – To make your feelings and opinions obvious to other people.

44. To make a long face

Example – Why have you got such a long face? Better luck next time.

Meaning – To look depressed.

45. In apple pie order

Example – Please put everything in apple pie order before you leave.

Meaning – Perfectly methodical arrangement./Very well organized.

46. To strain every nerve

Example – I was straining every nerve to break the code but failed every time.

Meaning – To try extremely hard to do something.

47. To have an axe to grind

Example – The best reporting is done by people who don’t have an axe to grind.

Meaning – To have a selfish interest to serve.

48. To draw the line

Example – It’s hard to keep young people under control, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

Meaning – To set limits/To separate one thing from another.

49. Beat around the bush

Example – Don’t beat around the bush, just tell me what’s happening here.

Meaning – To avoid talking about an embarrassing subject as you are worried about upsetting the person you are talking to.

50. A wild goose chase

Example – After five hours spent wandering in the city, we realized that we were on a wild goose chase.

Meaning – An absurdly hopeless enterprise./ Wasting time looking for something that you are not going to find.

51. A litmus test

Example – His performance in the Test matches served as a litmus test whether he would join the One-day team.

Meaning – An experiment that seeks to determine the state of one important factor./ A method that helps to know if something is correct.

52. To cry wolf

Example – Don’t pay attention to her. She is just crying wolf again.

Meaning – To cry or complain about something when nothing is really wrong.

53. To be hard up

Example – James was hard up for cash to pay his bills.

Meaning – To be short of money.

54. To take to one’s heels

Example – The man took to his heels to try to get the bus before it leaves the bus stop.

Meaning – To run very fast.

55. Cry over spilt milk

Example – There is no use of crying over spilt milk, instead of being careful in the future.

Meaning – Complaining about a loss or failure from the past.

56. At the drop of a hat

Example – She is always ready to go for an outing at the drop of a hat.

Meaning – Willingness to do something instantly.

57. Afraid of one’s own shadow

Example – My grandfather always had panic attacks. He was the kind of a person who was afraid of his own shadow.

Meaning – To become easily frightened.

58. A house of cards

Example – That well-reputed company turned out to be a house of cards within a year.

Meaning – A poor plan or organization that is very weak and can be easily destroyed.

59. Black and Blue

Example – The thief was beaten black and blue by the public.

Meaning – Full of bruises (Black marks caused by being hit).

60. To be in the doldrums

Example – My friend is in doldrums since a week and nothing I do seems to cheer him up.

Meaning – To feel sad and lack of energy to do something.

61. Be on cloud nine

Example – I will be on cloud nine when I pass UPSC exam this year.

Meaning – Be very happy

62. Fool’s paradise

Example – They were living in a fool’s paradise, refusing to accept that they were facing poverty.

Meaning – False sense of happiness or success.

63. Give cold shoulder

Example – The principal has given the cold shoulder to the proposal to arrange an inter-school dance competition.

Meaning – To ignore

64. Get a raw deal

Example – It is very sad that the backward class poor children get a raw deal in education.

Meaning – not to be treated as well as others.

65. Hit the nail on the head

Example – He always hit the nail on the head in troubled situations.

Meaning – to do the correct thing

66. Hand to mouth

Example – Heavy rainfall led the farmers to live hand to mouth.

Meaning – Live on only basic necessities.

67. Hit the bull’s eye

Example – Your suggestion hits the bull’s eye in the exam.

Meaning – To be exactly right about something or to achieve the best result possible.

[ Hit the bull’s eye also mean to hit the very center of a circular target. For example; The Bowman hits the bull’s eye three times in a row.]

68. Let the cat out of the bag

Example – John had planned a surprise party for his wife. But their five-year-old son let the cat out of the bag and ruined the party.

Meaning – To reveal the secret carelessly or by mistake.

69. Make a face

Example – Do you have any better suggestion? If not, then don’t make a face.

Meaning – To show dislike or disappointment through facial expression.

70. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Example – Try to invest in different ways. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Meaning – Do not put all your resources in one place.

71. To be a good Samaritan

Example – I was stuck in the middle of the highway, and then a good Samaritan offered me a ride.

Meaning – To be kind and compassionate to someone in distress.

72. To put in a nutshell

Example – One of my lecturers is expert in teaching the topic in a nutshell.

Meaning – To say in a few words./ To make something concise.

73. To pour oil on troubled waters

Example – The argument between Jack & David has turned worse, so I tried to pour oil on troubled waters but failed to do so.

Meaning – To do or say something in order to make people stop arguing and become calmer.

74. To move heaven and earth

Example – The ACP ordered the police to move heaven and earth to find the murderer.

Meaning – To do everything possible to achieve the result.

75. Bear the palm

Example – India may bear the palm in the Champions Trophy.

Meaning – to win.

NOTE: Palm leaves were formerly used as symbols of victory.

76. To egg someone on

Example – My classmates egged on me to talk with the principal.

Meaning – To urge someone to do something that is usually negative.

77. On the spur of the moment

Example – I decided to go on the spur of the moment.

Meaning – Suddenly, without any planning

78. A man of straw

Example – In today’s match, the opponent team members are like men of straw.

Meaning – A person or idea that is weak and easy to defeat.

79. Cut the mustard

Example – Mr. Bansal appointed Rajesh as the project manager, but can he cut the mustard?

Meaning – To succeed./ To come up to expectations.

80. To fish in troubled waters

Example – My uncle is fishing in troubled waters by buying shares of that software company.

Meaning – Involving oneself in a difficult situation in the hope of gaining some personal advantage.

81. The green-eyed monster

Example – She criticized Maya’s effort of presenting the demonstration. Do you think it is valid or is just a case of green-eyed monster?

Meaning – The feeling of being jealous.

82. End in smoke

Example – He is trying to figure out the programming error since two days. But unfortunately, all his efforts end in smoke at last.

Meaning – No concrete or positive result.

83. To get into hot water

Example – Rajesh gets into hot water after he had a fight with the manager.

Meaning – To get into trouble.

84. To bury the hatchet

Example – These two teammates should bury the hatchet to win the final match.

Meaning – To forget about arguments and disagreements with someone.

85. To wet one’s whistle

Example – You must be tired after all days work. Would you like to wet your whistle?

Meaning – To take a drink, especially an alcoholic drink.

86. Cloak and dagger

Example – How many days you will cloak and dagger like this? Why don’t you tell your boss about your new job?

Meaning – Involving or characterized by secrecy or mystery.

87. A bread and butter letter

Example – After I came back from the tour, I have decided to write a bread and butter letter to the tour organizer for such an amazing service.

Meaning – A thank you letter./ A letter or note to follow up on a visit.

88. Thick and thin

Example – From last ten years, we have been together through thick and thin.

Meaning – Including both good times and bad times.

89. Cool one’s heels

Example – When you were busy in the meeting, I was cooling my heels in the waiting room.

Meaning – To wait for something to happen.

90. Take fancy

Example – I think Maya has taken a fancy to you.

Meaning – Suddenly start to like something or someone.

91. Take to task

Example – I failed to impress the foreign clients so my boss took me to task in front of everyone.

Meaning – To scold someone.

92. The worse for wear

Example – The radio is really worse for the wear. Send it to the repair centre.

Meaning – In a poor condition.

93. A lion’s share

Example – The lion’s share of the company’s profit goes to the charitable trust.

Meaning – The biggest part of something.

94. To turn one’s back on

Example – I can’t turn my back on what I have done. It was my responsibility to take care of everything.

Meaning – To deny or reject or abandon.

95. To bite the dust

Example – The soldier was too young to bite the dust.

Meaning – To break/fail/die/give out.

96. Bolt from the blue

Example – I had met my uncle last week. He was so energetic and fit. Today his death news came as a bolt from the blue.

Meaning – A sudden and unexpected event.

97. To draw a blank

Example – I tried to remember the address. But I could only draw a blank.

Meaning – To fail to remember something./ To get no response.

98. To go against the tide

Example – It’s not easy to go against the tide in defence of our principles.

Meaning – To do the opposite of what other people are doing.

99. To pick a hole in my coat

Example – My boss is waiting for a chance to pick a hole in my coat.

Meaning – To find a mistake in something someone has done or said.

100. On tenterhooks

Example – People were on tenterhooks when the possibility of an earthquake was announced.

Offline hassan

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Re: Important idioms & phrases
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2018, 03:42:36 PM »
Informative share
Md. Arif Hassan
Assistant Professor
Department of Business Administration
Faculty of Business and Economics
Daffodil International University