A Hot Potato: an issue (mostly current) which many people are talking about and which is usually disputed

A penny for your thoughts: A way of asking what someone is thinking

Actions speak louder than words : People’s intentions can be judged better by what they do than what they say.

Add insult to injury : To further a loss with mockery or indignity; to worsen an unfavorable situation.

At the drop of a hat : without any hesitation; instantly.

A Daniel come to judgement ? : Someone who makes a wise judgement about something that has previously proven difficult to resolve.

A diamond in the rough : Someone who is basically good hearted but lacking social graces and respect for the law.

A different kettle of fish : An alternative; a different thing altogether.

A dish fit for the gods : An offering of high quality.

A fate worse than death : Any misfortune that would make life unliveable.

A feather in one’s cap : A symbol of honour and achievement.

A fish rots from the head down : When an organization or state fails, it is the leadership that is the root cause.

A feather in one’s cap : A symbol of honour and achievement.

A fish rots from the head down : When an organization or state fails, it is the leadership that is the root cause.

A fish out of water : Someone who is in a situation they are unsuited to.

A fly in the ointment : A small but irritating flaw that spoils the whole.

A fool’s paradise : A state of happiness based on false hope.

A foot in the door : An introduction or way in to something, made in order that progress may be made later.

A foregone conclusion : A decision made before the evidence for it is known. An inevitable conclusion.

A knight in shining armour : A man, who comes to the aid of another, usually a woman, in a gallant and courteous manner.

A leopard cannot change its spots : The notion that things cannot change their innate nature.

A man after my own heart : someone I can agree with.

A millstone round his neck : A heavy and inescapable burden or responsibility.

A rolling stone gathers no moss : Someone who does not settle in one place rarely prospers.

A sea change : A radical change or transformation.

A shot in the arm : A stimulus.

A stitch in time saves nine : A timely effort will prevent more work later.

Above board : Openly; without any trickery.

Against the grain : Against one’s inclination or natural tendency.

It was Greek / Latin to me : It was unintelligible to me.

A little bird told me : I was told by a private or secret source.

A load of cobblers : Nonsense, rubbish.

All at sea : In a state of confusion and disorder.

Alter ego : A second self

An albatross round his neck : A burden which some unfortunate person has to carry.

As cold as stone : Very cold.

As fine as frog’s hair : Extremely fine, that is, delicate and slender.

At one fell swoop : Suddenly; in a single action.

At his wits end : unable to think what to do.

At sixs and sevens : A state of confusion and disorder

A tinker’s dam ? : Something that is insignificant or worthless.

A turn up for the books : An unexpected piece of good fortune.


A watched pot never boils : Time feels longer when you’re waiting for something to happen.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing : Someone who hides malicious intent under the guise of kindliness.

Burn midnight oil: Do hard work / To work late into the night

A chain is only as strong as the weakest link : The weakest person/link will make everyone weak

As different as chalk and cheese : Two things that are very different from each other.

As alike as two peas in a pod : Two identical items or people.

Baptism of / with fire : An ordeal or martyrdom. More recently, a soldier’s first experience of battle.

Bane of one’s life : The agent of ruin or woe.

Batten down the hatches : Prepare for trouble.

Bee in your bonnet : Preoccupied or obsessed with an idea.

Before you could say Jack Robinson : In a very short time; suddenly.

Bell the cat : Handle the trouble, especially of a difficult job

Between the devil and the deep blue sea : In difficulty, faced with two dangerous alternatives.

Blow your own trumpet : Act in a boastful, self-promoting manner.

Bread always falls buttered side down : An expression of a pessimistic view of life.

Back to the drawing board : When an attempt fails and it’s time to start all over.

Ball is in your court : It is up to you to make the next decision or step


Barking up the wrong tree : Looking in the wrong place. Accusing the wrong person

Be happy to see the back of : Be happy when a person leaves.

Beat around the bush : Avoiding the main topic, Not speaking directly about the issue.

Best of both worlds : All the advantages.

Best thing since sliced bread : A good invention or innovation. A good idea or plan.

Bite off more than you can chew : To take on a task that is way too big.

Break a leg : Said to actors for good luck before they go on stage, especially on an opening night.


Break the ice :To break down social formality and stiffness.

Bring home the bacon : To earn money, particularly for one’s family; to be successful, especially financially successful.

Broad in the beam : Having wide hips or buttocks.

Brown as a berry : Entirely or very brown; often referring to a suntanned skin.

Brownie points : A notional mark of achievement or kudos for performing some creditable act.

The buck stops here : Responsibility is not passed on beyond this point

Burn the candle at both ends : To live at a hectic pace.

Bury the hatchet : To settle your differences with an adversary.

Bury your head in the sand : Refuse to confront or acknowledge a problem.

Busy as a bee : Very busy.

By the skin of your teeth : Narrowly; barely. Usually used in regard to a narrow escape from a disaster.

Blessing in disguise : Something good that isn’t recognized at first.

Burn the midnight oil : Do hard work / To work late into the night

By the short hairs : trapped by an opponent in a position one can’t easily escape from.

Carry coals to Newcastle: To do something pointless and superfluous.

Carte Blanche / Blanket sanction : freedom to choose whatever you want.

Cast the first stone : Be the first to attack a sinner.

Cat Cut your tongue : asking someone who is very silent.

Champ at the bit : Be restless and impatient to commence; especially during an unwelcome delay.

Chance would be a fine thing : There is not much chance of that [thing], welcome though it would be.

Charity begins at home : taking care of one’s family, before caring for others.


Cheek by jowl : Side by side; in close or intimate proximity

Chickens come home to roost : Bad deeds or words return to discomfort their perpetrator.

Can’t judge a book by its cover : Cannot judge something primarily on appearance.

Caught between two stools : When someone finds it difficult to choose between two alternatives.

Cost an arm and a leg : This idiom is used when something is very expensive.


Cross the bridge when you come to it : Deal with a problem if and when it becomes necessary, not before.

Cry over spilt milk : When you complain about a loss from the past.


Curiosity killed the cat : Being Inquisitive can lead you into an unpleasant situation.

Cut Corners : When something is done badly to save money.

Cut the mustard : To succeed; to come up to expectations; adequate enough to compete or participate

Chip off the old block : A person or thing that derives from the source or parentage.

Chip on your shoulder : A perceived grievance or sense of inferiority.

Chock –a block : Crammed so tightly together as to prevent movement.

Chop and change : To change and change again.

Clear blue water : the discernible/seen distance between the ideologies of two political parties.

Cliff Hanger : A situation of suspense / very close

Cloak and dagger : Spying / suspense / thriller, especially in the context of drama.

Close quarters : Close contact with enemy, especially in a military context.

On cloud nine : In a state of blissful happiness.

Clutch at straws : Try any route to get out of a desperate situation.

Coin a phrase : To create a new phrase.

Cold feet : To ‘get cold feet’ is to become disheartened or timid, losing one’s previous enthusiasm or courage.

Come a cropper : Fall over or fail at some venture.

Cooking the books : The deliberate distorting of a firm’s financial accounts, to avoiding the payment of tax.

Cool as cucumber : Calm and unruffled.

Crocodile tears : to put on an insincere show of sorrow.

Cry Havoc : cause disorder and confusion’.

Cut and run : Run away.

Cut off without a penny : Disinherited.

Cut to the chase : Get to the point.

Cut of your jib  : One’s general appearance and demeanour.

Devil’s Advocate: To present a counter argument

Don’t count your chickens before the eggs/they have hatched : Don’t make plans for something that might not happen


Don’t give up the day job: You are not very good at something. You could definitely not do it professionally.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket : Do not put all your resources in one possibility.

Drastic / Desperate times call for Drastic / Desperate measures :  When you are extremely desperate you need to take drastic actions.

Daft as a brush : Very foolish.

Damp squib : Something that fails to satisfy expectations, disappointment.

Dark horse : someone, who was previously little known, emerges to prominence in a competition.

The darling buds of May : An appreciation of what is fresh and new.

Dash to pieces : Break into fragments.

Davy Jones Locker : The bottom of the sea; the mythical resting place of drowned mariners.

Daylight Robbery : Blatant and unfair overcharging.

As dead as a doornail : Dead, devoid of life

The devil incarnate : The Devil in human form.

The devil take the hindmost : those who lag behind will receive no aid.

The devil to pay : bad consequences following one’s actions.

The die has been cast : An irrevocable choice has been made.

Dock your pay : Make a deduction from a person’s pay.

Dog in the manger : Spiteful and mean-spirited.

Don’t change horses in midstream : Don’t change your leader or your basic position when mid way through a campaign or a project .

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater :Don’t discard something valuable along with something undesirable.

Don’t try to teach your grandma to suck eggs : Don’t offer advice to someone who has more experience than oneself.

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth : Don’t be ungrateful when you receive a gift.

Doom and gloom : A feeling of pessimism and despondency,

Double Dutch : Nonsense; gibberish – a language one cannot understand.

Double whammy : A double blow or setback.

Down in the dumps : Unhappy; depressed.

Dressed up to the nines : Dressed flamboyantly or smartly.

Drink like a fish : Drink heavily, especially of alcoholic drink.

Dropping like flies : Falling down ill or dead in large numbers.

Elvis has left the building : The show has come to an end. It’s all over.

Every cloud has a silver lining : Be optimistic, even difficult times will lead to better days.

Early bird catches the worm : Success comes to those who prepare well and put in effort.

Eaten out of house and home : to waste and consume his substance, money etc.

Elephant in the room : An important and obvious topic, which everyone present is aware of, but which isn’t discussed, as such discussion is considered to be uncomfortable

Emperor’s new clothes : The label given to any fictional item that viewers have been induced into believing as real.

Englishmen’s home is his castle : a man’s home is his refuge.

Even at the turning of the tide : denote some change from a previously stable course of events.

Eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth : The notion that for every wrong done there should be a compensating measure of justice.


Face that launched a thousand ships : A reference to the mythological figure Helen of Troy (or some would say, to Aphrodite). Her abduction by Paris was said to be the reason for a fleet of a thousand ships to be launched into battle, initiating the Trojan Wars.

Far cry from : Very different from

Feel a bit under the weather : Feeling slightly ill.

Face the music : Accept the unpleasant consequences of one’s actions.

Fag End : The remains of something, especially the part left after the best part has been used.

Fair Play : giving all participants an equal chance.

Fall from grace : To fall from position of high esteem.

Fall Guy : A scapegoat; one who takes on the responsibilities or workload of others.

Fend off : To resist; to keep (someone or something) from coming near.

Field Day : A day of excitement or a circumstance of opportunity.

Fit as a butcher’s dog : Very fit.

Fit as a fiddle : Very fit and well.

Flesh and blood : To see in real / meet in person.

Fly by the seat of one’s pants : Decide a course of action as you go along, using your own initiative and perceptions rather than a predetermined plan or mechanical aids.

Fly off the handle : Lose self control.

Fly on the wall : being able to freely observe a situation without being oneself noticed.

For good measure : As an additional extra.

Full Monty :Complete, the whole thing.

Full to the gunwales : Full to the brim; packed tight.

Get a word in edgeways : Join a conversation in which another is speaking continually and leaving little for for others.

Get one’s ducks in a row : get your affairs in order

Get down to brass tacks : Engage with the basic facts or realities.

Get off your high horse : Asking someone to stop behaving in a haughty and self-righteous manner.

Get a headstart – get an early advantage

Giddy goat : Behave foolishly.

Give the benefit of the doubt : Believe someone’s statement, without proof.

Take the gilt off the gingerbread : Remove an item’s most attractive qualities.

Give someone a cold shoulder – neglect someone

Give the devil his due : ‘give back what you owe’, either money or favours.

Give no quarter : Show no mercy or concession for a vanquished opponent.

Go pound sand : ‘get lost’, ‘go and play in the traffic’, etc.

Go to the dogs : Become ruined.

Go the whole hog : To perform some act or adopt some opinion fully and thoroughly.

Grand Slam : any all-out achievement.

Grasp the nettle : To tackle a difficult problem boldly.

Graveyard shift : A late-night/early-morning work shift.

Greased Lightening : Very fast.

Great balls of fire : An exclamation of surprise or delight.

Green eyed monster : Jealousy.

Greyhound in the slips : ready and anxious to depart.

Grist to the mill : All things are a potential source of profit or advantage.

Have an axe to grind : Have a dispute to take up with someone.

Heebie-jeebies : A feeling of anxiety, apprehension or illness.

Hear it on the grapevine : ‘To hear rumors’ about something or someone.

Hit the nail on the head : Do or say something exactly right

Hit the sack : To go to bed.

Half Hearted : Having one’s intentions divided; not fully committed

Handbags at ten paces : A confrontation which is histrionic but which doesn’t involve physical violence. Such confrontations are also called handbag situations.

Handle with kid gloves : Handle a situation, or a person or an object, delicately and gingerly.

Happy as a clam : Very happy and content.

Hard cases make bad laws : ‘Hard’, that is, exceptional, legal cases aren’t suitable as the source of generalised laws.

Harvest moon : The full moon closest to the autumn equinox.

Have an inkling : Have a vague intimation of; have a slight knowledge of.

Have your guts for garters : A threat of a serious reprisal.

Head over heels : Excited, and/or turning cartwheels to demonstrate one’s excitement.

Hiding to nothing : To be faced with a situation which is pointless, as a successful outcome is impossible.

Hit the ground running : Get off to a brisk and successful start.

Hobson’s choice : No real choice at all – the only options being to either accept what is offered or refuse it.

Hold a candle to : To compare badly to an known authority – to be unfit even to hold a subordinate position

Hot off the press : Freshly printed.

Hot on the heels : In close pursuit of someone/something, or immediately after some event.

Hanged drawn and quartered : A gruesome form of torture and, eventually, death by execution.

In the heat of the moment : Overwhelmed / carried away by what is happening in the moment.

It takes two to tango : Actions or communications need more than one person

If it ain;t broke don’t fix it : If something is working adequately well, leave it alone.

If the shoe fits, wear it : If a description applies to you, then accept it.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery : Literal meaning.

In a nutshell : In a few words; concisely stated.

In a pig’s eye : An expression of emphatic disbelief.

In someone’s bad books : To be in disgrace or out of favour.

In the box seat : In a superior or advantageous position.

In the doldrums : In low spirits; feeling dull and drowsy.

In the same boat : In the same circumstances; facing the same predicament.

In your face : In a bold confrontational manner.

It ain’t over till the fat lady sings : Nothing is irreversible until the final act is played out.

It came like a bolt from the blue : A complete and sudden surprise.

It never rains but it pours: When troubles come they come together.

It’s not rocket science : It is simple and isn’t difficult to understand.

Ivory tower : A state of sheltered intellectual isolation.

Jack of all trades : A man who can do many things.

Jobs for the boys : Favouritism where jobs or other benefits are given to friends and acquaintances.

Join the colours : Enlist in the army.

Joined at the hip : Inextricably linked; inseparable.

Jump the gun : Begin something before preparations for it are complete.

Jury is still out : Judgement has not yet been finalised on a particular subject; especially due to information being incomplete.

Jump on the bandwagon : Join a popular trend or activity.

Keep something at bay : Keep something away

Kill two birds with one stone : To accomplish two different things at the same time.

Keep the ball rolling : Maintain a level of activity in and enthusiasm for a project.

Keep up with the Joneses : Strive to match one’s neighbours in spending and social standing.

Keen as mustard : Very enthusiastic.

Keep a stiff upper lip : Remain resolute and unemotional in the face of adversity, or even tragedy.

Keep it under your hat : Keep it secret.

Keep your nose to the grindstone : Apply yourself conscientiously to your work.

Kick the bucket : Die.

Knock into a cocked hat  : To beat severely.

Knock on wood : rap knuckles on a piece of wood hoping to stave off bad luck

Know the ropes : to understand how to do something.

Know on which side your bread is buttered : to be aware of which side of a conflict it is in your interests to be on.

Last straw : The final problem in a series of problems.

Let sleeping dogs lie : Do not disturb a situation as it is since it would result in trouble or complications.

Let bygones be bygones : Let the past go

Let the cat out of the bag : Give out the secret

Laid out in lavender : Prepared for burial / show something in the best possible light.

Lamb to the slaughter : In an unconcerned manner – unaware of the impending catastrophe.

Left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing : One’s varied interests are kept separate.

Let your hair down : Behave in a free or uninhibited manner.

Life’s not all beer and skittles : shorthand for a life of indulgence spent in the pub.

Like a moth to a flame : Irresistibly and dangerously attracted to something or someone.

Like a chicken with its head cut off : In a frenzied manner.

Little pitchers have big ears : be careful, children are listening.

Lock, stock and barrel : The whole thing.

Loose lips sink ships : Unguarded talk may give useful information to the enemy.

Lose your marbles : Lose your wits.

Make a clean breast of it : To make a full disclosure; to confess.

Make a long story short : Come to the point – leave out details

Method to madness : Despite  seeming random, there actually is structure to it.

Miss the boat : someone missed his or her chance

Make no bones about : To state a fact in a way that allows no doubt.

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow : Great things may come from small beginnings.

Milk of human kindness : Care and compassion for others.

More bang for your buck : More for your money.

Moving the goalposts : Changing the target of a process or competition in order to give advantage.

Nail your colours to the mast :To defiantly display one’s opinions and beliefs until the end.

Never the twain shall meet : Two things which are so different as to have no opportunity to unite.

Nod is as good as a wink :To a person who is ready to understand or undertake something, any subtle signalling of it is sufficient.

Not rocket science :It (the subject under discussion) isn’t difficult to understand.

Not a spark of decency : No manners

Not playing with a full deck : Someone who lacks intelligence.

Off one’s rocker : Crazy, demented, out of one’s mind

On the ball : When someone understands the situation well.

Once in a blue moon : Happens very rarely.

Off his own bat / on his own steam : By an individual’s own efforts.

Off with his head :mildly reproaching someone.

On the fiddle : Engaged in a fraud.

On the pig’s back :To be in luck; in a prosperous happy state.

On the side of the angels :  Acting in good principles which are morally virtuous.

On your beam ends : Hard up; in a bad situation.

On with the motley : Prepare for a stage performance / let’s begin or let’s continue.

One foot in the grave : To be near to death.

One sandwich short of a picnic : A jokey, colloquial term for stupid.

One stop shop : A location, usually a shop, where various requirements can be met in one place.

Penny wise pound foolish : careful for small things, careless for important things

Picture paints a thousand words : A visual presentation is far more descriptive than words.

Piece of cake : A job, task or other activity that is easy or simple.

Put wool over other people’s eyes :  to deceive someone into thinking well of them.

Play ducks and drakes : To behave recklessly; to idly squander one’s wealth.

Paddle your own canoe : Act independently and decide your own fate.

Physician heal thyself : Attend to one’s own faults, in preference to pointing out the faults of others.

A pig in a poke : An offer or deal that is foolishly accepted without being examined first.

A plague on both your houses : A frustrated curse on both sides of an argument.

Plates of meat :Feet.

Play the race card : To attempt to gain advantage by drawing attention to one’s race.

Praying at the porcelain altar : Vomiting down the toilet.

Preaching to the choir : To (pointlessly) try to convince a person or group to accept an opinion that they already agree with.

Pull out all the stops : Make every possible effort.

Push the envelope : To attempt to extend the current limits of performance. To innovate, or go beyond commonly accepted boundaries.

Put the cart before the horse : Reverse the accepted or logical order of things.

Put a spanner in the works : Deliberately causing mayhem / disturbance.

Punching above his weight : Competing against someone who you are no match for.

Put on your thinking cap : Take time for consideration of some question.

Put the wood in the hole : Close the door.

Put your best foot forward : Embark on a journey or task with purpose and gusto

Quantum leap : A sudden, very noticeable and significant advance.

Quid pro quo : Something given in return for an item of equivalent value – like tit for tat.

Raining cats and dogs : Raining very heavily.

Read between the lines : Discern a meaning which isn’t made obvious or explicit.

Rest on one’s laurels : To be satisfied with one’s past success and to consider further effort unnecessary.

Rise and shine : Get out of bed and prepare for work.

Rub of the green : Luck; especially in sports and pastimes played on a green surface.

Run out of steam : Run out of energy.

Saved by the bell : Saved by a last minute intervention.

See eye to eye : Two (or more people) agree on something.

Sit on the fence : when someone does not want to choose or make a decision.

Speak of the devil : when the person you have just been talking about arrives.

Steal someone’s thunder : To take the credit for something someone else did.

Shiver me timbers : An oath, expressing annoyance or surprise.

Skeleton in the closet : A secret source of shame, potentially ruinous if exposed, which a person or family makes efforts to conceal.

The smallest room in the house : A euphemistic reference to a lavatory.

Spare the rod and spoil the child : The notion that children will only flourish if punished, physically or otherwise, for any wrongdoing.

Start from scratch : Begin (again) from the beginning,

Stone the crows : An exclamation of incredulity or annoyance.

Suspension of disbelief : The temporary acceptance of incredible.

Take with a grain / pinch of salt : not to take what someone says too seriously.

Taste of your own medicine : something  is done to you, that you have done to someone else

To hear something straight from the horse’s mouth : To hear something from the authoritative source.

Tempest in a teapot : A small or unimportant event that is over-reacted to,

Talking through one’s hat : Talk nonsense;

Talk to the hand (’cause the face ain’t listening)  : (With outstretched vertical palm) Shut up – I’ve no interest in hearing what you’ve got to say.

The apple of my eye : usually someone, cherished above others.

The chickens come home to roost : Bad deeds or words return to discomfort their perpetrator.

The short end of the stick raw deal : To get the short end of the stick is to come off worst in a bargain or contest.

The devil is in the details : The details of a plan, while seeming insignificant, may contain hidden problems that threaten its overall feasibility.

The devil to pay : Impending trouble or other bad consequences following from one’s actions.

The ends of the earth : The furthest reaches of the land.

The moving finger writes : Whatever one does in one’s life is one’s own responsibility and cannot be changed.

The proof of the pudding : To fully judge how effective something is you need to use it for its intended purpose.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions :The unconventional or uninvestigated option / ‘alternative’.

The shoemaker always wears the worst shoes : Artisans work for the wealthy but cannot afford their own produce.

The Tail wagging the dog  : An item of minor importance dominating a situation.

The usual suspects : The people habitually suspected or arrested in response to a crime.

The writing is on the wall : Imminent danger has become apparent.

A thing of beauty is a joy forever : The experience of beauty is blissful and lasting.

Throw in the towel : Give up,

Throw your hat into the ring :take up a challenge / demonstrate one’s willingness to join an enterprise.

Tie the knot : Get married.

Till the cows come home : For a long but indefinite time.

The toast of the town : A person who is widely admired.

Tongue in cheek : In an ironic manner, not meant to be taken seriously.

Wouldn’t touch with a barge-pole : something or someone so unappealing that one wouldn’t want to go anywhere near.

Turn a blind eye : To knowingly refuse to acknowledge something which you know to be real.

Turn the tables : Reverse the positions of adversaries. The phrases is often used when the weaker position subsequently becomes dominant.

Under the thumb : Completely under someone’s control.

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown : A person with great responsibilities, such as a king, is constantly worried.

Up a gum tree : in great difficulties.

Up in arms : Roused; incensed.

Vanish into thin air : Disappear without trace.

Walk the talk : Back up one’s talk with action.

A wide berth : A good amount of leeway or space

Wear my heart upon my sleeve : Display your feelings openly, for all to see.

Wet behind the ears : Naive.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do : It is polite, and possibly also advantageous, to abide by the customs of a society when one is a visitor.

When it comes to the crunch : When a decisive point at which one’s future course is determined.

When the shit hits the fan/ wash your dirty linen in public :

Messy and exciting consequences by a previously secret situation becoming public.

A word in your shell-like : I would like to talk to you.

Whole nine yards : Everything, All of it.

Wouldn’t be caught dead : Would never like to do something

Your guess is as good as mine : To have no idea, do not know the answer to a question






List of Idioms from A – Z

A Idioms

A big cheese– an important or a powerful person in a group or family

A bird’s eye view– a view from a very high place which allows you to see a large area

A cock and a bull story– a story or an explanation which is obviously not true.

At the crack of the dawn– very early in morning

A cuckoo in the nest– someone in a group of people but not liked by them.

A litmus test– a method which clearly proves something

As the crow flies– measuring distance between two places in a straight line.

A dead letter– an argument or law not followed by anyone.

An early bird– someone who gets early in the morning

An educated guess– a guess which was likely to get corrected

At the eleventh hour– be too late.

A queer fish– a strange person

A wakeup call– an event done to warn someone

A worm’s eye view– having very little knowledge about something

A witch hunt– an attempt to find and punish those who have options that are believed to be dangerous

At the heels of– to follow someone

A game of two equal halves– a sudden change in circumstances

Afraid of one’s own shadow– to become easily frightened

Against the clock– to be in a hurry to do something before a particular time

Air one’s dirty laundry– to make public something embarrassing that should be kept secret.

All systems go- everything is ready.

Appear out of nowhere– to appear suddenly without warning.

Ask for the moon– to ask for too much.

Asleep at the switch– not to be alert on opportunity

At someone’s beck and call– to be always ready to serve

At the bottom of the ladder– at the lowest level

A house of cards– a poor plan

At an arm’s length– to keep at a distance

A boon in disguise– a benefit in loss

A bull in a China shop– an awkward person

A red letter day– an important day

A nine days wonder– pleasure for a short time

B idioms

Bad blood– feelings of hate between two families

Bend your ears– to talk to someone for a very

long time about something boring

Bite your tongue– to stop yourself from saying

something because it would be better not to

Black and blue– full of bruises

Blue blood– belonging to high social class / royal family

Be bouncing off the walls– excited and full of

nervous energy

Bow and scrap– try too hard to please someone

in a position of authority

Brass monkey weather– extremely cold weather

Be tailor made– to be completely suitable for someone.

Be as clear as mud– to be impossible to understand

Be on cloud nine– be very happy

Beat the drum– to speak eagerly about something

you support

Be on the edge– to be nervous or worried about


Be in seventh heaven– extremely happy

Be at each other’s throat– two persons arguing angrily

Back the wrong horse– to support someone weak

Back to square one– to reach again to the starting point

Back to the salt mines– back to something that you

don’t want to do

Ball of fire– active and energetic

Beat one’s head against the wall- to try to do

something that is hopeless

Beat one’s brain out– to work hard

Begin to see the light– to begin to understand

Behind closed doors– done in secret

Bet on the wrong horse– to misread the future

Bent on doing– to be determined to do something

Bite the bullet– to face a difficult situation bravely

Bitter pill to swallow– an unpleasant fact that must

be accepted

Black sheep of the family– worst member

Blind leading the blind– someone who does not

understand something but tries to explain it to other

Blow one’s own horn / trumpet– to praise oneself

Blow someone’s mind– excite someone

Bone of contention– subject matter of the fight

Blue in the face– exhausted and speechless

Break the back of– reduce the power of something

Burn a hole in one’s pocket– to spend money quickly

Bushman’s holiday– a holiday where you spend

doing same thing as you did at working days

Button’s one lip– to keep quite

C idioms

Carrot and sticks– You use both awards as well as

punishments to make someone do something.

Cloak and dragger– when people behave in a very secret manner

Cards are stacked against– luck is against you

Crack a book– to open book to study

Cast in the same mould– to be very similar

Cap it all– to finish

Cried with eyes out– cried a lot

Carry the can– If you carry the can, you take the blame for something, even though you didn’t do it or are only partly at fault.

Cast a long shadow– Something or someone that casts a long shadow has considerable influence on other people or events.

Cat and dog life– If people lead a cat and dog

life, they are always arguing.

D idioms

Drive a wedge between– to break relationship

between the two

Dances to the tune– to always do what

someone tells you to do

Dressed up to the nines– wearing fancy clothes

Dragging its feet– delaying in decision, not showing enthusiasm

Davey Jones’ locker- Davey Jones’ locker is the bottom of the sea or resting place of drowned sailors. (‘Davy Jones’ locker’ is an alternative spelling.)

Dancing on someone’s grave- If you will dance

. on someone’s grave, you will outlive or outlast them and will celebrate their demise

Dog in the manger- If someone acts like a dog in the manger, they don’t want other people to have or enjoy things that are useless to them

Don’t wash your dirty laundry in public- People, especially couples, who argue in front of others or involve others in their personal problems and crises, are said to be washing their dirty laundry in public; making public things that are best left private.

Donkey work- Donkey work is any hard, boring work or task.

Don’t throw bricks when you live in a glass house- Don’t call others out on actions that you, yourself do. Don’t be a hypocrite.

E idioms

Entering the 80th orbit– celebrating the 80th birthday

Eleventh hour decision– decision that is made at the last possible minute

End in smoke– to bear no result


shattering– not at all surprising

Eat humble pie– to apologize humbly

Egg on your face- If someone has egg on their face; they are made to look foolish or embarrassed

Eye for an eye- This is an expression for retributive justice, where the punishment equals the crime.

Eyes are bigger than one’s stomach- If someone’s eyes are bigger than their stomach, they are greedy and take on more than they can consume or manage.

F idioms

From cradle to grave– during the whole span of your life.

Face the music-to accept punishment for something you have done.

Feel the pinch– to have problems with money.

Fall on your own sword– to be cheated by someone you trust.

Feather in one’s cap– something that you achieve and are proud of.

Firing on all cylinders– work every possible way to succeed.

French leave– absent without permission, to take French leave is to leave a gathering without saying goodbye or without permission.

Fall on our feet- If you fall on your feet, you succeed in doing something where there was a risk of failure.

Fall on your sword- If someone falls on their sword, they resign or accept the consequences of what they have done wrong.

Fingers and thumbs- If you are all fingers and thumbs, you are being clumsy and not very skilled with your hands.

Finger in the pie / skin in the game- If you have a finger in the pie, you have an interest in something.

Flash in the pan- If something is a flash in the pan it is very noticeable but doesn’t last long, like most singers, who are very successful for a while, then forgotten.

Follow your nose- When giving directions, telling someone to follow their nose means that they should go straight ahead.

Fool’s paradise- A fool’s paradise is a false sense of happiness or success.

Foot in mouth- This is used to describe someone who has just said something embarrassing, inappropriate, wrong or stupid.

For a song- If you buy or sell something for a song, it is very cheap

For donkey’s years- If people have done something, usually without much if any change, for an awfully long time, they can be said to have done it for donkey’s years

G idioms

Get off the hook– free from all obligations

Give up the ghost– to die

Got the slap on the wrist– got light punishment

Give someone a bird– make fun

Got the wind up– to be scared

Get a raw deal– not treated equally

Gift of the gab– talent of speaking, if someone has the gift of the gab, they speak in a persuasive and interesting way

Give cold shoulder– to ignore

Get your wires crossed- If people get their wires cross, they misunderstand each other, especially when making arrangements.(‘Get your lines crossed’ is also used.)

Give me five / high five- If someone says this, they want to hit your open hand against theirs as a way of congratulation or greeting

Give me a hand- If someone gives you a hand, they help you

Give someone a piece of your mind- If you give someone a piece of your mind, you criticize them strongly and angrily.

Go bananas- If you go bananas, you are wild with excitement, anxiety, or worry.

Go tell it to birds- This is used when someone says something that is not credible or is a lie.

Go under the hammer- If something goes under the hammer, it is sold in an auction.

Graveyard shift- If you have to work very late at night, it is the graveyard shift.

Grease monkey- A grease monkey is an idiomatic term for a mechanic.

H idioms

Have ants in your pants– not be able to keep still because you are very excited or worried about something.

Having a whole/whale of a time– to enjoy very much

Hold one’s horse– be patient

Have a big mouth– one who gossips more or tells secret

Himalayan blunder– a serious mistake

Have a one track mind– think only of one thing

Have clean hands– be guiltless

Have an egg on the face– be embarrassed

Heart missed a beat– very excited

Heart in the right place– good natured

Hand to mouth- Someone who’s living from hand to mouth, is very poor and needs the little money they have coming in to cover their expenses

Have no truck with / have no beef with- If you have no truck with something or someone, you refuse to get involved with it or them.

Hit the bull’s-eye- If someone hits the bull’s-eye, they are exactly right about something or achieve the best result possible.

Hold water (doesn’t) / Cuts no ice- When you say that something does or does not ‘hold water’, it means that the point of view or argument put forward is or is not sound, strong or logical. For e.g. ‘Saying we should increase our interest rates because everyone else is doing so will not hold water’

Hornets’ nest- A hornets’ nest is a violent situation or one with a lot of dispute. (If you create the problem, you ‘stir up a hornets’ nest’.)

I idioms

In dribs and drabs– in small amounts at a time

In black and white– to give in writing

In the blues– low spirited

In cahoots with– in a partnership usually for a dishonest reason

If the shoe fits, wear it- This is used to suggest that something that has been said might apply to a person

In droves- When things happen in droves, a lot happens at the same time or very quickly

In the doghouse- If someone is in the doghouse, they are in disgrace and very unpopular at the moment.

J idioms

Jack Frost – If everything has frozen in winter, then Jack Frost has visited.

Jack the Lad – A confident and not very serious young man who behaves as he wants to without thinking about other people is a Jack the Lad.

Jack-of-all-trades– A jack-of-all-trades is someone that can do many different jobs.

Jam on your face – If you say that someone has jam on their face, they appear to be caught, embarrassed or found guilty.

Jam tomorrow – This idiom is used when people promise good things for the future that will never come.

Jane Doe – Jane Doe is a name given to an unidentified female who may be party to legal proceedings, or to an unidentified person in hospital, or dead. John Doe is the male equivalent.

Jekyll and Hyde – Someone who has a Jekyll and Hyde personality has a pleasant and a very unpleasant side to the character.

Jersey justice – Jersey justice is very severe justice.

Jet set – Very wealthy people who travel around the world to attend parties or functions are the jet set.

Jet-black – To emphasise just how black something is, such as someone’s hair, we can call it jet-black.

Job’s comforter – Someone who says they want to comfort, but actually discomforts people is a Job’s comforter.

Jobs for the boys – Where people give jobs, contracts, etc, to their friends and associates, these are jobs for the boys.

Jockey for position – If a number of people want the same opportunity and are struggling to emerge as the most likely candidate, they are jockeying for position.

Jog my memory- If you jog someone’s memory, you say words that will help someone trying to remember a thought, event, word, phrase, experience, etc.

John Doe- John Doe is a name given to an unidentified male who may be party to legal proceedings, or to an unidentified person in hospital, or dead. Jane Doe is the female equivalent.

Joe Public – Joe Public is the typical, average person.

Johnny on the spot – A person who is always available; ready, willing, and able to do what needs to be done.(‘Johnny-on-the-spot’ is also used.)

Johnny-come-lately – A Johnny-come-lately is someone who has recently joined something or arrived somewhere, especially when they want to make changes that are not welcome.

Join the club – Said when someone has expressed a desire or opinion, meaning “That viewpoint is not unique to you”. It can suggest that the speaker should stop complaining since many others are in the same position. Example: “If this train doesn’t come, I’ll be late for work!” “Join the club!”

Joined at the hip – If people are joined at the hip, they are very closely connected and think the same way.

Judge, jury and executioner – If someone is said to be the judge, jury, and executioner, it means they are in charge of every decision made, and they have the power to be rid of whomever they choose.

Juggle frogs – If you are juggling frogs, you are trying to do something very difficult.

Jump down someone’s throat – If you jump down someone’s throat, you criticise or chastise them severely.

Jump ship – If you leave a company or institution for another because it is doing badly, you are jumping ship.

Jump the broom – To jump the broom is to marry. (Jump over the broom, jump over the broomstick, jump the broomstick are also used.)

Jump the gun – If you jump the gun, you start doing something before the appropriate time.

Jump the track – Jumping the track is suddenly changing from one plan, activity, idea, etc, to another.

Jump through hoops – If you are prepared to jump through hoops for someone, you are prepared to make great efforts and sacrifices for them.

Jump to a conclusion – If someone jumps to a conclusion, they evaluate or judge something without a sufficient examination of the facts.

Jumping Judas! – An expression of surprise or shock.

Jungle out there – If someone says that it is a jungle out there, they mean that the situation is dangerous and there are no rules.

Jury’s out – If the jury’s out on an issue, then there is no general agreement or consensus on it.

Just around the corner- If something is just around the corner, then it is expected to happen very soon.

Just coming up to – If the time is just coming up to nine o’clock, it means that it will be nine o’clock in a very few seconds. You’ll hear them say it on the radio in the morning.

Just deserts – If a bad or evil person gets their just deserts, they get the punishment or suffer the misfortune that it is felt they deserve.

Just for the heck of it – When someone does something just for the heck of it, they do it without a good reason.

Just for the record – If something is said to be just for the record, the person is saying it so that people know but does not necessarily agree with or support it.

Just in the nick of time – If you do something in the nick of time, you just manage to do it just in time, with seconds to spare.

Just off the boat – If someone is just off the boat, they are naive and inexperienced.

Just what the doctor ordered – If something’s just what the doctor ordered, it is precisely what is needed.

Justice is blind – Justice is blind means that justice is impartial and objective.

K idioms

Kick up a row– to start a fight, to create disturbance

Keep ones eye on the ball– be ready for something

Kangaroo court- When people take the law into their own hands and form courts that are not legal, these are known as kangaroo court

Keep body and soul together- If you earn enough to cover your basic expenses, but nothing more than that, you earn enough to keep body and soul together.

Keep your eye on the ball- If you keep your eye on the ball, you stay alert and pay close attention to what is happening

Know which way the wind blows- This means that you should know how things are developing and be prepared for the future.

L idioms

Loaves and fishes– done for material benefits

Like a shag on a rock– completely alone.

Let someone slide– neglect something

Let nature take its course– to allow someone to live or die naturally.

Like a sitting duck– totally unaware

Lion’s share– a major share

Left to your own devices- If someone is left to their own devices, they are not controlled and can do whatever they want

M idioms

Make castles in the air– plans or hopes that have very little chances of happening.

Make a bee line for– to go directly towards something.

Make ones bed and lie on it– to be responsible for what you have done and accept the results

Meet ones waterloo– meet ones final end

Monkey around– to waste time here and there

My hands are full– I am busy

Make a dry face– show disappointment

Make a monkey of someone- If you make a monkey of someone, you make them look foolish

Man of his word- A man of his word is a person who does what he says and keeps his Promises

Many moons ago- A very long time ago

N idioms

Nobody’s fool– one who can take care of himself

not having a leg to stand for– not having proof

Never-never land– ideal best place.

No love lost between– dislike

Needle in a haystack- If trying to find something is like looking for a needle in a haystack, it means that it is very difficult, if not impossible to find among everything around it

New brush sweeps clean- ‘A new brush sweeps clean’ means that someone with a new perspective can make great changes. However, the full version is ‘a new brush sweeps clean, but an old brush knows the corners’, which warns that experience is also a valuable thing

No smoke without fire- This idiom means that when people suspect something, there is normally a good reason for the suspicion, even if there is no concrete evidence. (‘Where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire’ is also used.)

O idioms

Open Pandora’s box– to discover more problems

Over the moon– being too happy

On its last legs– in a bad condition and will not last long

Old flames die hard- It’s very difficult to forget old things

On pins and needles- If you are on pins and needles, you are very worried about something

On the carpet- When you are called to the bosses office (since supposedly, they are the only ones who have carpet) and its definitely not for a good reason, i.e., you are in trouble, something has not gone according to plan and either maybe you are responsible and/or have some explaining to do

On the hook- If someone is on the hook, they are responsible for something.

Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches- This means that it’s hard to know how much someone else is suffering.

P idioms

Pass muster– to be approved

Pick someone to pieces– to criticize sharply

Paper over the cracks– to try to hide something

Pull up the socks– do things in the right manner and correctly

Parrot fashion- If you learn something parrots fashion; you learn it word for word

Pay on the nail- If you pay on the nail, you pay promptly in cash

Pen is mightier than the sword- The idiom ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ means that words and communication are more powerful than wars and fighting

Pick someone’s brains- If you pick someone’s brains, you ask them for advice, suggestions and information about something they know about

Pieces of the same cake- Pieces of the same cake are things that have the same characteristics or qualities

Play fast and loose- If people play fast and loose, they behave in an irresponsible way and don’t respect rules, etc.

Poker face- Someone with a poker face doesn’t show any emotion or reaction so that people don’t know what they are feeling

Q idioms

Quarrel with bread and butter- Bread and butter, here, indicate the means of one’s living. If a sub-ordinate in an organization is quarrelsome or if he is not patient enough to bear the reprimand he deserves, gets angry and retorts or provokes the higher-up, the top man dismisses him from the job. So, he loses the job that gave him bread and butter. Hence we say, he quarreled with bread and butter (manager or the top man) and lost his job

Quiet as a cat- If somebody is as quiet as a cat they make as little noise as possible and try to be unnoticeable

Quiet as a mouse- If someone’s as quiet as a mouse, they make absolutely no noise

Queer fish- A strange person is a queer fish

R idioms

Round the twist– go crazy

Read between the lines- read hidden meanings

Rack and ruin- If something or someone goes to rack and ruin, they are utterly destroyed or wrecked

Rain on your parade- If someone rains on your parade, they ruin your pleasure or your plans

Rake someone over the coals- If you rake someone over the coals, you criticize or scold them severely

Recipe for disaster- A recipe for disaster is a mixture of people and events that could only possibly result in trouble

Red carpet- If you give someone the red-carpet treatment, you give them a special welcome to show that you think they are important

Red herring- If something is a distraction from the real issues, it is a red herring

Red letter day- A red letter day is a one of good luck, when something special happens to you

Reduce to ashes- If something is reduced to ashes, it is destroyed or made useless. His infidelities reduced their relationship to ashes

Round the houses- If you go round the houses, you do something in an inefficient way when there is a quicker, more convenient way

Rub shoulders- If you rub shoulders with people, you meet and spend time with them, especially when they are powerful or famous

Run into the sand / ground- If something runs into the sand, it fails to achieve a result

S idioms

Salt on the earth– fundamentally good people

Sands of time– tiny amounts of time

Shake a leg– to go fast, hurry / dance

Spill the beans– to expose a secret

Snake in the grass– a hidden army

Snake in the shoes– to be in a state of fear

Stood to his guns– maintained to his opinion

showing the door– asking someone to leave

Song and a dance- an excuse

Salad days- Your salad days are an especially happy period of your life

Sail under false colours- Someone who sails under false colours is hypocritical or pretends to be something they aren’t in order to deceive people

T idioms

Threaded his way out– walked carefully through.

Take the cloth– to become a priest.

Talk turkey– to discuss a problem with a real intension to solve it.

Tit for tat– an action done to revenge against a person who has done some wrong to you

To crow over– to triumph over someone

To blow a fuse– to turn someone angry

Through thick and thin– under all conditions

To bell the cat– to take great risks

To look through coloured glasses– to look the things not as they are

Taking to a brick wall– taking with a no response

Turned a deaf ear– disregarded

Take a back seat– choose to decrease involvement

Tables are turned- When the tables are turned, the situation has changed giving the advantage to the party who had previously been at a disadvantage

Take someone under your wing- If you take someone under your wing, you look after them while they are learning something/ Shaagird

Take your medicine-  you accept the consequences of something you have done wrong

Talking to a brick wall- If you talk to someone and they do not listen to you, it is like talking to a brick wall

Taste of your own medicine- If you give someone a taste of their own medicine, you do something bad to someone that they have done to you to teach them a lesson

The apple does not fall far from the tree- Offspring grow up to be like their parents

Through thick and thin- through everything, during good times and bad

U idioms

Upset the apple cart– to create difficulty

Under a cloud– If someone is suspected of having done something wrong, they are under a cloud

Under fire– attacked and criticized heavily

Under your nose– If something happens right in front of you, especially if it is surprising or audacious, it happens under your nose

Up for grabs– If something is up for grabs, it is available and whoever is first or is successful will get it

Up to the neck– If someone’s in something up to the neck, they are very involved in it, especially when it’s something wrong

Up a river without a paddle– If you up a river without a paddle, you are in an unfortunate situation, unprepared and with none of the resources to remedy the matter

Uncharted waters- If you’re in uncharted waters, you are in a situation that is unfamiliar to you, that you have no experience of and don’t know what might happen

Under lock and key- If something is under lock and key, it is stored very securely

V idioms

Vale of tears- This vale of tears is the world and the suffering that life brings.

Velvet glove –  a person who appears gentle, but is determined and inflexible underneath. (‘Iron fist in a velvet glove’ is the full form.)

Vent your spleen – If someone vents their spleen, they release all their anger about something.

Vicar of Bray – A person who changes their beliefs and principles to stay popular with people above them is a Vicar of Bray

Vicious circle – A vicious circle is a sequence of events that make each other worse- someone drinks because they are unhappy at work, then loses their job… ‘Vicious cycle’ is also used.

Virgin territory – If something is virgin territory, it hasn’t been explored before.

Voice in the wilderness – Someone who expresses an opinion that no one believes or listens to is a voice in the wilderness, especially if proved right later.

Volte-face – If you do a volte-face on something, you make a sudden and complete change in your stance or position over an issue.

Vultures are circling – If the vultures are circling, then something is in danger and its enemies are getting ready for the kill.

W idioms

Weight one’s word– be careful to what one says

Wait for a raindrop in the drought- When someone is waiting for a raindrop in the drought, they are waiting or hoping for something that is extremely unlikely to happen

Walking on broken glass- When a person is punished for something

Wet behind the ears- Someone who is wet behind the ears is either very young or inexperienced

Whale of a time- If you have a whale of a time, you really enjoy yourself

Work your fingers to the bone- work extremely hard on something

Wrench in the works- If someone puts or throws a wrench, or monkey wrench, in the works, they ruin a plan

X idioms

X factor – The dangers for people in the military that civilians do not face, for which they receive payment, are known as the X factor.

X marks the spot – This is used to say where something is located or hidden.

Y idioms

Yank my chain – If some one says this to another person (i.e. stop yanking my chain) it means for the other person to leave the person who said it alone and to stop bothering them.

Yell bloody murder – If someone yells bloody murder, they protest angrily and loudly, or scream in fear.

Yellow press – The yellow press is a term for the popular and sensationalist newspapers.

Yellow streak– If someone has a yellow streak, they are cowardly about something.

Yellow-bellied – A yellow-bellied person is a coward.

Yen – If you have a yen to do something, you have a desire to do it.

Yeoman’s service – To do yeoman’s service is to serve in an exemplary manner.

Yes-man – Someone who always agrees with people in authority is a yes-man.

Yesterday’s man or Yesterday’s woman – Someone, especially a politician or celebrity, whose career is over or on the decline is yesterday’s man or woman.

You are what you eat – This is used to emphasise the importance of a good diet as a key to good health.

You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar – This means that it is easier to persuade people if you use polite arguments and flattery than if you are confrontational.

You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family – Some things you can choose, but others you cannot, so you have to try to make the best of what you have where you have no choice.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink – This idiom means you can offer something to someone, like good advice, but you cannot make them take it.

You can say that again – If you want to agree strongly with what someone has said, you can say ‘You can say that again’ as a way of doing so.

You can’t fight City Hall – This phrase is used when one is so cynical that one doesn’t think one can change their Representatives. The phrase must have started with frustration towards a local body of government.

You can’t have your cake and eat it – This idiom means that you can’t have things both ways. For example, you can’t have very low taxes and a high standard of state care.

You can’t hide elephants in mouse holes – means that some issues/problems/challenges cannot be hidden/concealed but have to be faced and dealt with.

You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear – If something isn’t very good to start with, you can’t do much to improve it.

You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs – This idiom means that in order to achieve something or make progress, there are often losers in the process.

You can’t take it with you – Enjoy life, enjoy what you have and don’t worry about not having a lot, especially money…because once you’re dead, ‘you can’t take it with you.’ For some, it means to use up all you have before you die because it’s no use to you afterwards.

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks – It is difficult to make someone change the way they do something when they have been doing it the same way for a long time

You can’t un-ring a bell – This means that once something has been done, you have to live with the consequences as it can’t be undone.

You could have knocked me down with a feather – This idiom is used to mean that the person was very shocked or surprised.

You do not get a dog and bark yourself – If there is someone in a lower position who can or should do a task, then you shouldn’t do it.

You get what you pay for – Something that is very low in price is not usually of very good quality.

You reap what you sow – This means that if you do bad things to people, bad things will happen to you, or good things if you do good things. It is normally used when someone has done something bad.

You said it!- Used to say you agree completely with something just said.

You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours – This idiom means that if you do something for me, I’ll return the favour.

You what? – This is a very colloquial way of expressing surprise or disbelief at something you have heard. It can also be used to ask someone to say something again.

You’re toast – If someone tells you that you are toast, you are in a lot of trouble.

You’ve got rocks in your head – Someone who has acted with a lack of intelligence has rocks in their head.

You’ve made your bed, you’ll have to lie in it – This means that someone will have to live with the consequences of their own actions.

Young blood – Young people with new ideas and fresh approaches are young blood.

Young Turk – A Young Turk is a young person who is rebellious and difficult to control in a company, team or organisation.

Your belly button is bigger than your stomach – If your belly button is bigger than your stomach, you take on more responsibilities than you can handle.

Your call – If something is your call, it is up to you to make a decision on the matter.

Your name is mud – If someone’s name is mud, then they have a bad reputation.

Your sins will find you out – This idiom means that things you do wrong will become known.

Z idioms

Zero hour- The time when something important is to begin is zero hour.

Zero tolerance – If the police have a zero tolerance policy, they will not overlook any crime, no matter how small or trivial.

Zigged before you zagged – If you did things in the wrong order, you zigged before you zagged.

Zip it – This is used to tell someone to be quiet.

Zip your lip – If someone tells you to zip your lip, they want to to shut up or keep quiet about something. (‘Zip it’ is also used.)











Directions: In the following questions, four alternatives are given for the Idiom/Phrase printed in bold

in the sentence. Choose the alternative which best expresses the meaning of the Idiom/ Phrase.

For his alleged involvement in espionage , he is under a cloud these days.


(a)experiencing cloudy weather (b)enjoying favourable luck (c)under suspicion (d)under observation




We have appealed to him again and again there is no use flogging a dead horse now.


(a)repeating our request


(b)making him see reason


(c)beating about the bush


(d)wasting time in useless effort




We should not look down upon the wretched of the earth.


(a)sympathise with


(b)hate intensely


(c)be indifferent to


(d)regard with contempt




Because of his misbehavior, he is hound to face the music. (a)get finished


(b)get reprimanded


(c)feel sorry


(d)listen to the music




The working of the factory was disrupted on account of a token strike by farm workers. (a)total strike


(b)carefully planned strike


(c)short strike held as a warning


(d)sudden call of strike




By opposing his proposal he fell


foul of him.


(a)quarrel with


(b)felt annoyed with


(c)agreed with


(d)got into trouble with




Those who work by fits and starts seldom show good results. (a)rarely









The new manager thought that he would give employees enough rope for the first six months after which he would check the work done himself.


(a)many directives and orders


(b)sufficient advice


(c)all the material they needed


(d)enough freedom for action




He Was all at sea when he began his


new Job.




  • sad


  • puzzled


  • triumphant




The sweeping statement by the boss left the conscientious workers disgusted.


(a)rash statement


(b)unpremeditated statement


(c)thoughtless statement


(d)generalized statement




The failure of crops in successive years put the farmer in a tight corner.


(a)in a closed room


(b)in a small field


(c)In a difficult situation


(d)in a meadow




The effort to trace the culprit was a wild goose chase.


  • fruitful hunting


(b)futile search


(c)ideal seeking


(d)genuine effort




The story does not hold water.


(a)does not deserve appreciation


(b)does not fulfill the requirements


(c)cannot be believed


(d)cannot be valued





Raj couldn’t pay the bill, so he asked the owner to put it on the cuff.


(a)on credit


(b)against his credit card


(c)In his bank account


(d)in his friend’s account




His statement is not and out a lie.


(a) totally


  • simply


  • merely


  • slightly




The luxury car that they bought turned out to be a white elephant. (a)a rare article


(b)useful mode of transport


(c)costly or troublesome possession


(d)a proud possession




If you are fair and square In your work you will definitely prosper. (a)active




(c)business like






There is no love lost between any two neighboring countries in the world.


(a)stop loving


(b)not on good terms


(c)forming a group


(d)have good understanding




The heavy downpour played havoc in the coastal area.


(a)caused destruction (b)caused diseases (c)caused floods (d)caused hardship




To have a green thumb means


(a)one’s nails are painted green


(b)one is artistic


(c)to have a natural interest in gardening


(d)one has a green tattoo on the thumb



When he saw the snake he took to his heels.


(a)ran away in fear


(b)went slowly


(c)walked in fear


(d)jumped fast




He has to abide by the hard and fast rule of the company. (a)flexible


  • strict


  • difficult


  • honest




She goes to her mother’s house off and on.




  • rarely


  • occasionally


  • sometimes




The robber murdered, the woman in cold blood for the sake of the jewels.


(a)a murder done without feeling (b)a murder done in revenge (c)a murder done in great anger (d)a murder done in enmity




Indians was going places in the field of software technology. (a)going abroad


(b)going to spaces


(c)talented and successful


(d)friendly and amicable




The poet drew on his fancy not his knowledge of Nature, when he Wrote his poem on birds.


(a)used his understanding (b)used his knowledge (c)used his imagination (d)used his skill




My neighbour had to pay through his nose for a brand new car. (a)Pay huge loans


(b)Pay a reasonable price


(c)Pay an extremely high price


(d)Make a quick buck



Very ambitious people do not like to rest on their laurels. (a)To be unhappy


(b)To be motivated


(c)To be impatient


(d)To be complacent




If he phones again, I am going to give him a piece of my mind. (a)To be nice to him


(b)To take revenge on him


(c)To reprimand him


(d)To support him




The party high command wanted to stave off an open battle. (a)postpone


(b)wait and see


(c)allow it to take its own course (d)prevent




Ramesh takes after his father.




  • imitates


  • obeys


  • resembles




They made no hones about acknowledging their debt to his genius.


(a)did not have any hesitation in


(b)did not have any faith in


(c)demanded compensation for


(d)had problems in




It is evident from the minister’s statement that heads will roll in the Secretariat.


(a)transfers will take place


(b)heads will be cut off


(c)people will die


(d)dismissals will occur




During the last moments of his life, the criminal made a clean breast of everything he had done. (a)showed his breast


(b)fought like a hero


(c)confessed without reserve


(d)faced bravely




She tries very hard to keep up with heir rich neighbours. (a)to imitate


(b)to keep in touch


(c)to avoid


(d)to be on par




He went on sowing wild oats he reaped suffering in his later life. (a)Inviting troubles as a boy


(b)warning others as a youngster (c)irresponsible pleasure seeking In young age


(d)sowing grains called oats when young




I don’t know why she has become stand-offish recently.












Why don’t you put an end to blowing your own trumpet ?


(a)playing your own trumpet to produce music


(b)making too much noise


(c)praising your own abilities and




(d)None of these




I knew he had an axe to grind and turned down his offer of help. (a)a blunt axe


(b)a sharp tongue


(c)a private interest to serve


(d)a tendency to fight




The saint’s life was an open book.


(a)an uncomplicated one


(b)On that held no secrets


(c)an example to all


(d)an interesting biography




Reading between the lines realized that my friend wanted to keep something from me.

(a)looking for meanings that are not actually expressed

(b)reading carelessly (c)reading with anxiety (d)glancing over the lines




Sometimes, it happens that we have to give the devil his due.


(a)to give credit to even a notorious person


(b)to give encouragement even to the enemy


(c)to invite the devil


(d)to stand in the way of the devil




The king had been made to eat


humble pie.


(a)to eat slowly


(b)to have an excellent dish


(c)to eat a good pie


(d)to apologies




He was given Hobson’s choice by


the employer.


(a)excellent choice


(b)no real choice at all


  • choice to live or die


(d)first choice




He has a very nice manner, but you would better take what he says with a grain of salt.


(a)to listen to something with considerable doubt


  • to talk sensibly


(c)to criticise


(d)to complement




He didn’t tell me directly, but reading between the lines. I think he is not happy with them. (a)reading slowly and haltingly


(b)understanding the sense rather than the actual words


(c)understanding the meaning of words and not the sense (d)reading superficially




Gopi works by fits and starts.





(c)in high spirits






I cannot put up with your misconduct any longer. (a)excuse


  • refuse




  • tolerate




I did not mind what he was saying, he was only talking through his hat.


(a)talking nonsense (b)talking ignorantly (c)talking irresponsibly (d)talking Insultingly




He is so furious that he would go through fire and water to revenge himself on his foe.


(a)approach everybody for help (b)avail himself of any opportunity (c)use any conceivable method (d)undergo any risk




The watchdogs were asleep when the bulls ran riot. (a)behaved cleverly


(b)acted without restraint


(c)wandered aimlessly


(d)had the best of time




In spite of the immense pressure


exerted by the militants, the


Government, has decided not to


give in.




  • yield


  • oblige


  • conform




The young and the old satcheek by jowl in the large audience. (a)very near


  • very far


  • tongue tied


  • irritated




We wanted to keep the gift as a (b)to light a track Q69.
surprise for mother but my sister (c)to set up a fire The foolish young man soon made
gave the game away. (d)to wear a blazer while running ducks and drakes of the vast
(a)lost the game   property his father left him.
(b)gave out the secret Q62. (a)squandered
(c)played badly Red-letter day (b)distributed
(d)withdrew from the game (a)a colourful day (c)spent
  (b)fatal day (d)gave in charity
Q55. (c)happy and significant day  
I don’t think the law will interfere (d)hapless day Q70.
with us as we are just trying to turn   All his ventures went to the winds.
an honest penny. Q63. (a)dissipated
(a)make a legitimate living have the last laugh (b)spread all over
(b)make a good living (a)be of a cheerful nature (c)got speed of the winds
(c)have dealings in white money (b)laugh only after understanding (d)became well-known
(d)become more honest something  
  (c)to be victorious at the end of an Q71.
Q56. argument at one’s wit’s/wits’ end
a dark horse. (d)to crack the final joke (a)to work hard
(a)an unforeseen competitor   (b)to be intelligent
(b)a black horse Q64. (c)to get puzzled
(c)a nightmare turn a deaf ear (d)to be stupid
(d)an unknown person (a)disregard  
  (b) defy Q72.
Q57. (c) disobey to take someone to task
to rim across (d) dismiss (a)to scold someone
(a)to have an appointed meeting   (b)to assign work to someone
(b)to meet by chance Q65. (c)to take someone to his place of
(c)to run in the playground to smell a rat work
(d)to run very fast (a)to experience bad smell (d)to praise someone for the work
  (b)to misunderstand done
Q58. (c)to see a hidden meaning  
to get one’s own back (d)to suspect a trick Q73.
(a)to get one’s revenge   to face the music
(b)to get control over someone Q66. (a)to be greeted rudely
(c)to get one’s position back A few days before his death, he (b)to be offered warm hospitality
(d)to get hold of someone made a clean breast of everything. (c)to enjoy a music programme
  (a)confessed (d)to bear the consequences
Q59. (b)took off his shirt  
to steer clear of (c)suffered Q74.
(a)drive carefully (d)spoke ill to blow one’s own trumpet
(b)avoid   (a)to play on one’s own trumpet
(c)explain clearly Q67. (b)to praise one’s own self
(d)escape I am done for. (c)to create noisy disturbances
  (a)ruined (d)to have a high-pitched voice
Q60. (b) rewarded  
to beat a retreat (c) answered Q75.
(a)to withdraw in defeat or (d) questioned to run one down
humiliation   (a)to be in a hurry
(b)to withdraw after scoring a victory Q68. (b)to be weak and tired
(c)to march back after a ceremonious For a healthy and lasting friendship (c)to disparage someone
parade one must be on the level. (d)to run down a lane
(d)to run away in fear (a)equally rich  
  (b)mentally compatible Q76.
Q61. (c)honest and sincere at snail’s pace
to blaze a trail (d)ready for sacrifices (a)to do things very slowly
(a)to lead the way as a pioneer   (b)to walk like a snail


(c)to lack interest in work


(d)to do things in methodical manner




to turn a deaf ear


(a)to be hard of hearing


(b)to be indifferent


(c)to be attentive


(d)to be obstinate




to take to one’s heels


(a)to run off


(b)to show one’s heels


(c)to turn around


(d)to walk leisurely




to have something up one’s sleeves


(a)having a practical plan


(b)having an Important project


(c)having an ambitious plan


(d)having a secret plan




to end in smoke


(a)to have a smoking session


(b)to be on Are


(c)to come to nothing


(d)to bum slowly




As the bomb exploded people ran




(a)in great fear


(b)in disorderly haste


(c)in haste


(d)in great sorrow




He was progressing by leaps and hounds because of his hard work. (a)rapidly


  • slowly


  • peacefully


  • strongly




Our founder had done a Herculean task by constructing this great educational Institution. (a)a work of no worth


(b)an effortless job


(c)a work requiring very great effort


(d)a work requiring very great intelligence



My close friend got the sack from his first job recently. (a)resigned


(b)got rid of


(c)was demoted from


(d)was dismissed from




I can no longer put up with her






  • evade


  • suppress


  • assume




She is a fair-weather friend.


(a)a good friend


(b)a1 friend who meets difficulties calmly


(c)a friend deserts you In difficulties (d)a favourable friend




to die in harness means to die while


(a)riding a horse


(b)in a stable


(c)in a uniform


(d)still in service




to keep under wraps means to keep






  • protected


  • unpacked


  • secret




After independence Indian agriculture rose like a phoenix due to the Green Revolution. (a)with a new life


(b)with a start


(c)with royal gait


(d)with vengeance




His failure at the election has been a sore point with him for a long time.


(a)something which hurts


(b)something that brings fear to


(c)something memorable for


(d)something pleasurable to



The student is on the Verge of breakdown.


(a)on the brink of


(b)at the outset of


(c)in the midst of


(d)at the risk of




My repeated attempts to get refund from the civic authorities were of no avail.












He was progressing by leaps and bounds because of his hard work. (a)rapidly


  • slowly


  • peacefully


  • strongly




to emerge out of thin air means to


(a)appear suddenly


(b)descend gradually


(c)fall down quickly


(d)enter from space




The news of the accident came as a bolt from the blue.


(a)something unexpected


(b)something unpleasant


(c)something horrible


(d)something unexpected and unpleasant




The story of the train accident as narrated by one of the survivors made my flesh creep. (a)thrilled me


(b)horrified me


(c)excited me


(d)frightened me




He has resigned his job and burnt his boats so far as government service is concerned. (a)felt dejected


(b)blasted his hopes


(c)ruined himself


(d)left no means of retreat   He is accused of sitting on the fence.
  Q105. (a)observing the scene
Q98. He expects his subordinates to be (b)resting on fence
He cannot hold a candle to his elder always at his beck and call (c)hesitating which side to take
brother. (a)at rest (d)sitting back and enjoying the fun
(a)equal to (b)at work  
(b)not as clever as (c)at his disposal Q113.
(c)cannot be compared to (d)at their desks You have to read between the lines
(d)duller than   to understand most of the symbolic
  Q106. writing.
Q99. In the long run (a)read again and again .
The question of higher membership (a)permanently (b) understand the hidden meaning
fees was brought up at the last (b) universally (c)know the symbols
meeting. (c) occasionally (d)look for many meanings
(a)discussed at great length (d) ultimately  
(b)introduced for discussion   Q114.
(c)criticised vehemently Q107. The ruling party has been Warned
(d)vaguely referred to If you are in the good books of the not to play to the gallery.
  boss, you are sure to rise quickly. (a)to give importance to the common
Q100. (a)work well for the boss man
His arguments cut no ice with me. (b)praise the boss (b)to try to be clever
(a)had no influence on me (c)in favour with the boss (c)to seek to win approval
(b)did not hurt me (d)co-operate with boss (d)to side-track the issue
(c)did not benefit me    
(d)did not make me proud Q108. Q115.
  The population of our country is In the securities scam, the national
Q101. increasing by leaps and bounds. credibility was at stake.
the green-eyed monster strikes a (a)very slowly (a)on trial
woman the moment she sees her (b)very quickly (b)under pressure
husband talking to another pretty (c)irregularly (c)in danger
woman. (d)very systematically (d)challenged
(b) hatred Q109. Q116.
(c) envy to weigh up the pros and cons is to The passing of anti-defection law
(d) jealousy (a)measure the ingredient struck a chill to the heart of every
  (b)observe etiquette opportunistic legislator.
Q102. (c)consider all facts (a)caused anger
to fight tooth and nail (d)postpone action (b)caused relief
(a)to fight a losing battle   (c)aroused fear
(b)to oppose resolutely Q110. (d)awakened bitterness
(c)to have a physical fight My close friend got the sack from  
(d)to lodge a formal protest his first j ob recently. Q117.
  (a)resigned It Our house is within a stone’s
Q103. (b)got rid of throw from the Red Building.
at one’s wit’s end (c)was demoted from (a)far off
(a)to understand thoroughly (d)was dismissed from (b) far away
(b)to be puzzled   (c) very near to
(c)to be a stupid person Q111. (d) beside US. He has a bone to pick
(d)to behave irrationally There is no love lost between any with his cousin.
  two neighboring countries in the  
Q104. world. Q118.
The clerk turned a deaf ear to his (a)stop loving He has a bone to pick with his
officer’s advice. (b)not on good terms cousin.
(a)disputed (c)forming a group (a)reasonable agreement
(b)paid attention to (d)have good understanding (b)cause of quarrel
(c)disregarded   (c)Cause of doubt
(d)acknowledged gratefully Q112. (d)difference of opinion





The day I graduated was a red-letter day for me. (a)a dangerous day


(b)an important day


(c)an eventful day


(d)a formidable day




Many young artists were dropping names at the party to impress the gathering.


(a)talking proudly about their family members


(b)using pet names


(c)hinting at high connections


(d)talking informally




The teacher announced that she had no blue-eyed boys in the class.

(a)royal children


(b)young boys








The company has run into a lot of debts.




  • settled


  • opened up


  • avoided




He was confident that all his present sufferings will soon blow over.




(b)pass off


(c)be looked into


(d)be taken care of




The teacher advised the students to


take into account the advice given


by the elders.


(a)to obey


  • to neglect


  • to consider


  • to reject




The lawyer asked his assistant to collect the details regarding the pros and cons of the case.

(a)ups and downs


(b)in and out


(c)weak and strong


(d)for and against




The principal has to carry out the


orders issued by the higher






  • communicate


  • execute


  • modify




The young engineer was hauled up for spilling the beans about the new project to the competitor.


(a)suppressing the information (b)hiding the details


(c)revealing the information indiscreetly

(d)spoiling the plans




The Government claims that Indian


industry is progressing by leaps


and bounds.






  • at a rapid pace


(d)at a desired pace




Laying off of thousands of workers is inevitable under the new economic policy.


(a)dismissal from jobs of


(b)offering new jobs to


(c)reduction of workers wages of


(d)sending on leave




“I take thee at thy word”, said Romeo to Juliet.


(a)listen to you carefully (b)do not believe you (c)feel angry with you (d)truly believe you




People who do not lay out their


money carefully, soon come to






  • spend


  • distribute
  • preserve




Having bought the house, they decided to go the whole bog and buy all the furniture needed. (a)to live there


(b)to do it completely


(c)to go all the way


(d)to go in the fog




There is a lot of bad blood between them.




  • fight


(c)angry feeling


  • distrust




The village headman pretends to be a good Samaritan.


(a)a religious person (b)a helpful person (c)a citizen of Samaria (d)a law-abiding citizen




The beleaguered politician was anxious to set the record straight. (a)give a speech


(b)win party support


(c)give a correct account


(d)make a confession




The bus had a close shave as its


driver swerved to the right a split


second before the oncoming truck


could run into it.


(a)serious accident


(b)close collision


(c)narrow escape


(d)deep dent




fits and starts




(b)not regularly








When the Inspector entered the class some of the students shook in their shoes.


(a)stamped the ground with their shoes


(b)showed signs of anger (c)trembled With fear (d)stood up to salute




In high spirits


(a)full of hope and enthusiasm


(b)under tremendous stress


(c)under the Influence of liquor


(d)mentally deranged




He amassed his wealth through sharp practices. (a)dishonest means


(b)illegal means


(c)Intelligent decisions


(d)quick decisions




He is not in the good books of his boss.


(a)a lover of good books


(b)in favour with


(c)not of the same opinion as


(d)as good as




The officer is fed up with the complaints made against the clerk. (a)annoyed


  • disgusted


  • pleased


  • satisfied




a white elephant


(a)a rare species of elephants


(b)an expensive gift


(c)a costly but useless possession


(d)a worthless thing




ins and outs


(a)entry and exit points


(b)full details


(c)tactical moves


(d)complexity of character




All his ventures went to the winds.




(b)spread all over


(c)got speed of the winds.


(d)became well-known



Don’t worry about the silly row. It was just a storm in a tea cup.


(a)important matter dealt with ease


(b)hot tea being served


(c)commotion over a trivial matter


  • confusion and chaos




The Rajput warriors set their face against the invader. (a)became enemies


(b)turned away from


(c)faced difficulty


(d)opposed strongly




Syria is now currying favour with










(d)ingratiating itself with




Our Principal is not a man to mince matters.


(a)to confuse issues


(b)to say something mildly


(c)to mix everything together


(d)to be very modest




We tend to take for granted the conveniences of modem life. (a)to consider


(b)to admit


(c)to accept readily


(d)to care for




The prodigal son was left high and


dry by his friends, when he lost all


his money.












The success of his first novel completely turned his head. (a)made him vain


(b)made him look back


(c)changed him completely


(d)made him think



She turns up her nose at this kind of dress.






(c)sees no harm in


(d)can just tolerate




At last the rioters fell back.


(a)fell on the ground




(c)ran back


(d)turned back




The Madagascar Coup attempt ended In a fiasco. (a)had no effect


(b)was an utter failure


(c)resulted in blood-shed


(d)was a disaster




His parents cut him off, without a shilling.


(a)disinherited him


(b)snubbed him


(c)gave him only a shilling


(d)sent him away with a shilling




The carefully worked-out plan fell through because of an unexpected event.


(a)came out successfully (b)had a steep fall (c)was shattered (d)failed




He has too many irons in the fire. (a)is engaged in too many enterprises at the same time


(b)has several problems


(c)has many ideas in his head


(d)has a fire burning constantly in his house




We wanted to give Rita a surprise party but John let the cat out of the bag.


(a)spoilt the party with a cat


(b)gave her a party himself


(c)told her about it unintentionally


(d)prevented her from attending it




Why should you read between the lines whenever I say this to you?


(a)read the lines with great speed (b)interpret the lines wrongly


(c)find more meaning than the words appear to express


(d)read a text line-by-line slowly




The Earl of Leicester threw down the glove.


(a)accepted defeat


(b)rejected the prize


(c)resorted to wrong tactics


(d)gave a challenge




Ravi fought to the bitter end.


(a)fought to the last point of enemy’s position


(b)died fighting


(c)carried on a contest regardless of the consequences


(d)fought a losing battle




I joined college late and found it difficult to catch up with other students.


(a)to compete with


(b)to come to their level


(c)to overtake them


(d)to hold them and stop




They have made many changes in the policy, but how many of these changes are going to affect the man in the street?


(a)the homeless man


(b)the ordinary man


(c)the man who works on the street .


(d)the man who repairs roads




The students wanted a holiday, but the Principal put his foot down and said, ‘No’.


(a)asserted his authority


(b)kicked them


(c)stepped out


(d)came downstairs



It is high time he came out of his shell.

(a)appealed suddenly


(b)became more sociable


(c)became a loser


(d)removed his clothes




Every political party is at present playing to the gallery. (a)adopting cheap tactics


(b)befooling the common mart


(c)fighting for votes


(d)appeasing the masses




His blood ran cold when he heard his uncle was murdered (a)He was frightened


(b)He was horrified


(c)He was disgusted


(d)He was depressed




This is so simple that even a man in the street can understand it. (a)an ordinary person


(b)an illiterate person


(c)an unknown person


(d)a stranger




When he went to claim insurance for his car, the agent said he hadn’t a leg to stand on.


(a)had been injured in an accident (b)was lame


(c)did not have much hope of getting it


(d)would have to wait for some time




The angry hockey players gave vent


to their feelings.


(a)to express


(b)to emphasise


(c)to suppress


(d)to dismiss.




I trust you will bear with me a few minutes more.


(a)have patience with




(c)carry the burden for


(d)be in control for



As usual he is blowing his own trumpet.


(a)refusing to use anybody else’s trumpet


(b)playing a tune on the trumpet


(c)praising himself


(d)praising himself and others




When trade was brisk, he worked hard and made his fortune he believes in making hay while the sun shines.


(a)taking advantage of a favourable opportunity


(b)earning money through dishonest means


(c)earning money at the cost of others


(d)taking advantage of the inflationary trends




When they were surrounded from all sides, the dacoits laid down their arms.


(a)put their arms on the ground


(b)fought bravely




(d)became nervous




Helena was over head and ears in love with Demetrius. (a)carefully


  • completely


  • brilliantly


  • cautiously




Gopi works by fits and starts.






(c)In high spirits






Naresh Goyal had to stand on his feet very early in his life.


(a)to be physically strong (b)to be independent (c)to stand erect (d)to be successful




The possession of Jerusalem Is a   Q195.
bone of contention between Israel Q187. to bite the dust
and Palestine. in cold blood (a)eat voraciously
(a)a subject of peace (a)angrily (b)have nothing to eat
(b)a subject of trade (b)deliberately (c)eat roots
(c)a subject of dispute (c)excitedly (d)None of the above
(d)a subject of exports (d)slowly  
Q180. Q188. to strain every nerve
My friend turned a deaf ear tomy to take someone for a ride (a)to make utmost efforts
tale of loss and refused to help me. (a)to give a ride to someone (b)to feel weak and tired
(a)paid no heed (b)to deceive someone (c)to be a diligent worker
(b)went far away (c)to be Indifferent (d)to be methodical In work
(c)listened carefully (d)to disclose a secret  
(d)turned his ear away   Q197.
  Q189. to flog a dead horse
Q181. to move heaven and earth (a)to whip a dead horse
to take to heart (a)to cause an earthquake (b)to attempt to do the impossible
(a)to be encouraged (b)to try everything possible (c)waste one’s efforts
(b)to grieve over (c)to pray to all Gods (d)to take advantage of a weakness
(c)to like (d)to travel in a rocket  
(d)to hate   Q198.
  Q190. to show a clean pair of heels
Q182. to smell a rat (a)to hide
yeoman’s service (a)to smell foul (b) to escape
(a)medical help (b)to see a rat (c) to pursue
(b)excellent work (c)to chase a rat (d) to follow
(c)social work (d)to be suspicious  
(d)hard work   Q199.
  Q191. to die in harness
Q183. a bolt from the blue (a)premeditated murder
to face the music (a)a delayed event (b)dying young in an accident
(a)to enjoy a musical recital (b)an inexplicable event (c)to die while in service
(b)to bear the consequences (c)an unexpected event (d)to be taken by surprise
(c)to live in a pleasant atmosphere (d)an unpleasant event  
(d)to have a difficult time   Q200.
  Q192. to feather one’s nest
Q184. cold comfort (a)to make a residential house
to put Up with (a)absurdity (b)something that lasts for a short
(a)to accommodate (b), deception time
(b)to adjust (c)slight satisfaction (c)to profit in a dishonest way
(c)to understand (d)foolish proposal (d)None of the above
(d)to tolerate    
  Q193. Q201.
Q185. to be all at sea. The teacher’s announcement to
to call it a day (a)a family voyage conduct a snap test came as a bolt
(a)to conclude proceedings (b)lost and confused, from the blue to many students.
(b)to initiate proceedings (c)in the middle of the ocean (a) imaginary
(c)to work through the day (d)a string of Islands (b) unexpected
(d)None of the above   (c) forbidden
  Q194. (d) heavenly
Q186. to take to one’s heels  
a damp squib (a)to walk slowly Q202.
(a)rainy weather (b)to run away He and his friend are sailing in the
(b)a disappointing result (c)to march forward’ same boat.
(c)a skirt in a laundry (d)to hop and jump (a)sailing together in the same boat
(d)None of the above    


(b)sharing the financial and social (c)to get excited Q217.
condition (d)to make someone nervous The administration found it
(c)being in the same difficult situation   difficult to cope with the striking
(d)getting rid of the difficult situation Q210. employees.
  To speak one’s mind. (a)move
Q203. (a)To be frank and honest (b)compromise
To be successful in today’s world, (b)To think aloud (c) handle
we require the gift of the gab. (c)To talk about one’s ideas (d) subdue
(a)ability to speak well (d)To express one’s thoughts  
(b)good interpersonal skills   Q218.
(c)divine help and guidance Q211. The criminal was pardoned at the
(d)a fierce competitive spirit To make a mountain of a molehill eleventh hour just as the was about
  (a)to make advantage of a small thing to be hanged.
Q204. (b)to give great importance to little (a)at eleven o’ clock
Winter was so bad that the nomadic things (b)suddenly
tribesmen found it difficult to keep (c)to get into trouble (c)at the very last moment
the wolf from the door. (d)to see a thing with prejudiced mind (d)at midnight
(a)hunt wild animals    
(b)escape starvation Q212. Q219.
(c)get woolen clothes Hand In glove He spoke well though it was his
(d)walk on ice (a)in close relationship maiden speech.
  (b)non-cooperative (a)long speech
Q205. (c)critical (b)brief speech
There Is no soft option to the crisis (d)on bad terms (c)first speech
now.   (d)emotional speech
(a)popular opinion Q213.  
(b)popular solution To add fuel to the fire Q220.
(c)easy and agreeable option (a)to make matters bright Do not run down your friends in
(d)difficult choice (b)to cause additional anger public.
  (c)to bring matters to a conclusion (a)fight with
Q206. (d) to start a revolt (b)follow
A little gush of gratitude   (c)make a mention of
(a)gradual recovery Q214. (d)criticise
(b)friendly feeling Wear and tear  
(c)excessive labour (a)a brand name Q221.
(d)excessive enthusiasm (b)damage Most parents find it difficult to
  (c)lot of sorrow make both ends meet because of
Q207. (d)a warning inflation.
To lose ground   (a)to lead a lavish life
(a)to become less powerful Q215. (b)to live within one’s Income
(b)to become less popular He is always praised for his gift of (c)to live a miserly life
(c)to lose foundation the gab. (d)to lead an active life
(d)to be without a leader (a)being lucky  
  (b)getting something free Q222.
Q208. (c)talent for speaking The students were advised to pore
To fall back on (d)great skill over the lessons thoroughly.
(a)to oppose something important   (a)go through
(b)to suffer an injury on the back in Q216. (b) go down
an accident The teacher’s extra hours of (c) go off
(c)to fail to do something important in coaching went a long way in (d) go out
time improving the student’s  
(d)to seek support out of necessity performance. Q223.
  (a)took great effort The two famous writers crossed
Q209. (b)spent a lot of time swords with each other on every
To make one’s blood boil (c)extended widely issue.
(a)to make somebody furious (d)helped considerably (a)fought physically
(b)to develop fever   (b)crossed the road on meeting


(c)took different routes (d)disagreed




The traffic came to a standstill after the heavy downpour of rain. (a)complete halt


(b)accident spot




(d)confused disorder




Even though the new clerk was given a difficult task, he remained cool as a cucumber.


(a)not nervous or emotional


(b)caught cold


(c)was happy


(d)was scared




The car broke down just as it reached the edge of a cliff. It was indeed a close shave. (a)to share one’s brand


(b)very risky


(c)narrow escape from danger


(d)to be happy




When she realised that she had bought a fake product, she knew that her money had gone down the drain.


(a)was lost forever


(b)dropped in the drain


(c)got washed away


(d)her money was safe




George Bernard Shaw was blessed with the gift of the gab. (a)enormous wealth


(b)ability to work hard


(c)ability to speak Impressively


(d)luck on one’s side >




You have been caught cheating; now you must face the music.

(a)face the unpleasant consequences


(b)stand up to unpleasant consequences (c)be debarred


(d)be insulted publicly



His position in the company was on His brink of disaster. (a)at the top of

(b)at the point of


(c)on the side of


(d)on the back of




The parents are In high spirits as their son has got a decent job. (a)in good position










The police caught the thief red handed.


(a)in a red uniform


(b)with blood in hands


(c)at the time of committing the crime


(d)after reading the rules




I was so disappointed when my close friend left me in the lurch.

(a)went away without waiting for me


(b)helped me In difficult times


(c)abandoned me when I needed help


(d)stopped helping me in emergency




Some people do not grease anybody’s palm on any account. (a)bribe


  • flatter


  • cheat


  • fight




Tagore was a man of letters.


(a)of wide contacts


(b)an excellent letter dictator


(c)a great writer of letters


(d)proficient in literary art




His friends beat the boy to pay off old scores.


(a)to refund old dues


(b)to take revenge


(c)to force him to be a scorer in a match


(d)because he had not scored well earlier



Chintan is so innocent that he wears his heart on his sleeve.

(a)Wears dress that does not match (b)Expresses his feelings openly (c)wears colourful dresses


(d)expresses his feelings with the shape of a heart printed on its sleeve




It was a red letter day in the history of the world.


(a)a day with bloodshed.


(b)a dangerous note about the destruction


(c)a day memorable for some Joyful event


  • a day with love and warmth




The poor subordinates are made scapegoats by their superiors.

  • punished for others misdeeds


(b)developed poor relations


(c)treated humbly and respectfully


(d)scolded with arrogant reactions




The Manager doctored the accounts of the company .


(a)to make changes in account books


(b)to clear the doctors bill


(c)to verify the accounts in detail


(d)to manipulate the accounts




She could never measure up to her parent expectation. (a)reach the level


(b)work as hard


(c)assess the amount


(d)increase her height




The little girl with her flawless performance stole the show.


(a)stole something from the show (b)crept into the show (c)won everybody’s praise (d)disappeared from the show




The thief was on good terms with the police.


(a)kept terms and conditions


(b)was friendly


(c)followed the rules


(d)agreed with them





John’s offer of help was turned down by the police. (a)sent back


(b)twisted around




(d)handed over




Having no arguments to defend his point, the speaker began to beat about the bush.


(a)wander across the words (b)speak in a haphazard manner (c)speaking a round-about manner (d)make use of irrelevant reference




They were offered six months’ rent in lieu of notice to vacate the building.

(a)in spite of


  • in place of


  • despite of


  • in addition to




The reputed company is in the red due to the recession. (a)making money


(b)losing money


(c)in danger


(d)spending money




When the Principal was entering


the class, all my friends quietly


disappeared, leaving me alone to


face the music.


(a)to listen to him


(b)to enter into the class


(c)to bear the criticism


(d)to listen to a favourable comment




The Kenyan team proved to be the dark horse in the ICC World Cup Cricket.


(a)a strong intruder (b)a skilled team (c)the most powerful (d)an unexpected winner



Yesterday in a collision between a truck and a car he had a close shave.

(a)maintain cleanliness (b)remove the entire hair (c)a narrow escape (d)close relations




The piece of parental property has created bad blood between the two brothers.


(a)impure relation


(b)ill-matched temper


(c)active enmity


(d)bad parentage




Since you couldn’t accept a timely warning, it’s no use repenting now. Why cry over spilt milk?


(a)cry over irreparable loss (b)to regret uselessly


(c)cry needlessly


(d)feel guilty of




After fifteen years of marriage she


did not expect her husband to leave


her In the church.


(a)listen to her


  • provoke her


  • ignore her


  • desert her




Who are we to sit In judgment over


their choices?




  • criticize


  • speak


  • communicate




The teacher took me to task for not completing my homework.


(a)gave me additional homework


(b)punished me


(c)took me to the principal


(d)reduced my homework




Do not lose your head when faced with a difficult situation. (a)forget anything


(b)neglect anything



(d)get jealous




When I entered the house everything was at sixes and sevens.


(a)a quarrel among six or seven people


(b)to have six or seven visitors at a time.


(c)in disorder or confusion.


(d)an unpleasant argument.




He was pulled up by the Director of


the Company.




  • dragged


  • reprimanded


  • cleared




The storm brought about great destruction In the valley.




  • caused


  • succeeded


  • halted




The police closed the book on the murder case.


(a)solved the case of (b)stopped working on


(c)handed the case over to another agency


(d)refused to take up




His arguments cut no ice with me.


(a)had no influence on me


(b)did not hurt me


(c)did not benefit me


(d)did not make me proud




There was a job for me to cut my teeth on.


(a)to gain experience


(b)to try


(c)to sharpen my wits


(d)to earn a decent salary




The carrot and stick policy pays dividends in every organization. (a)fair and foul


(b)continuous vigilance


(c)democratic Q271. (b)to play a magician trick
(d)reward and punishment sought after (c)to have a secret plan
  (a)highly paid (d)to play hide and seek
Q264. (b)pursued by  
Unless you grease his palms he will (c)in great demand Q279.
not do your work. (d)with great talent on the spur of the moment
(a)talk to him   (a)to act at once
(b) flatter him Q272. (b)to ride a horse in a race
(c) beat him all at sea (c)to act deliberately
(d) bribe him (a)very proud (d)to act at the appointed time
  (b) overjoyed  
Q265. (c) puzzled Q280.
I had to pull strings to put up a good (d) excited to bring to light
show.   (a)to reveal
(a)play music Q273. (b)to conceal
(b)use personal influence to hit below the belt (c)to provide luminescence
(c)use the instrument (a)to punish (d)to appeal
(d)play a song (b)to tie with a belt  
  (c)to hit with a belt Q281.
Q266. (d)to attack unfairly to hit the jackpot
You can easily overcome this   (a)to gamble
situation if you keep your head. Q274. (b)to get an unexpected victory
(a)keep faith in pot-luck dinner (c)to be wealthy
(b)remain calm (a)dinner where everybody brings (d)to make money quickly
(c)believe in something to eat  
(d)trust the others (b)dinner where everybody pays for Q282.
  his food to bum the candle at both ends
Q267. (c)dinner where only soup is served (a)to spend cautiously
It is clear that the ideas of both (d)dinner where people eat and play (b)to be stingy
reformers ran in the same groove. game is at the same time (c)to be extravagant
(a)promoted each other   (d)to survive difficulty
(b)clashed with each other Q275.  
(c)moved in harmony at one’s beck and call Q283.
(d)moved in different (a)to attend a call status quo
  (b)to be helped by someone (a)unchanged position
Q268. (c)to be useful to someone (b)excellent place
This place affords a bird’s eye view (d)to be dominated by someone (c)unbreakable statue
of the green valley below.   (d)long queue
(a)a beautiful view Q276.  
(b)a narrow view to explore every avenue . Q284.
(c)an overview (a)to search all streets by fair means or foul
(d)an ugly view (b)2) to scout the wilderness (a)without using common sense
  (c)to find adventure (b)without difficulty
Q269. (d)to try every opportunity (c)in anyway honest or dishonest
He works in fits and starts.   (d)having been instigated
(a)consistently Q277.  
(b)irregularly a red letter day Q285.
(c)in high spirits (a)a dangerous day in one’s life To look down one’s nose
(d)enthusiastically- (b)a sorrowful day in one’s life (a)to show anger
  (c)an important or joyful occasion in (b)to retaliate
Q270. one’s life (c)to Insult in the presence of others
build cashes in the air (d)both a dangerous and sorrowful (d)to regard with contempt
(a)waste time day in one’s life  
(b)daydream   Q286.
(c)build houses Q278. To shed crocodile tears
(d)work hard to have something up one’s sleeve (a)to weep profusely
  (a)to hide something in the sleeve (b)to pretend grief


(c)to grieve seriously


(d)to mock something




By putting two and two together


(a)to mix several things


(b)to make an arithmetical calculation


(c)to keep people in pairs


(d)to deduce from given facts




To go scot-free


(a)to walk like a native of Scotland


(b)to get something free


(c)to escape without punishment


(d)to save tax




At the eleventh hour


(a)at eleven O’clock


(b)at the wrong time


(c)at the last possible moment


(d)at the initial moment itself




birds of the same feather


(a)persons of same caste


(b)persons of same colour


(c)birds with same type of feather


(d)persons of same character




to fight tooth and nail


(a)to fight a losing battle


(b)to fight heroically


(c)to fight cowardly


(d)to make every possible effort




to call a spade a spade


(a)to be frank


(b)to be sly


(c)to be rude


(d)to be diplomatic




a white elephant


(a)an extinct species of elephant found in Burma


(b)a report by the government to give information


(c)huge and colossal waste of human energy


(d)costly and troublesome possession useless to its owner




to miss the bus


(a)to miss, the bus that one regularly takes


(b)to miss an opportunity


(c)to have something to fall back upon


(d)to find fault with others




As a businessman, my father always maintained that his transactions constituted an open book.


(a)an account book always open (b)a book of open confessions (c)an opening for new ventures


(d)straight forward and honest dealings




The project advanced by leaps and








  • sharply






She is too fond of her own voice.


(a)loves singing


(b)very selfish


(c)does not listen properly to anyone else


(d)very talkative




Indian police is, on the whole, high handed in dealing with citizens. (a)kind




  • prompt






I take exception to your statement that I am bad tempered. (a)do not agree


(b)feel unhappy




(d)feel angry




The officer called for an explanation from the cashier for the shortage of cash. (a)asked




(c)served a notice






  • c 2 d 3 d 4 b 5 c 6 d 7 c 8 d 9 c 10 c


  • c 12 b 13 c 14 a 15 a 16 c 17 b


  • b 19 a 20 c 21 a 22 b 23 c 24 a


  • c 26 c 27 c 28 d 29 c 30 a 31 d


  • a 33 a 34 c 35 b 36 c 37 c 38 c


  • c 40 b 41 a 42 b 43 d 44 b 45 a


  • b 47 b 48 d 49 a 50 d 51 b 52 b


  • a 54 b 55 a 56 a 57 b 58 a 59 b


  • d 61 a 62 c 63 c 64 c 65 d 66 a


  • a 68 c 69 a 70 a 71 c 72 a 73 d


  • b 75 c 76 a 77 b 78 a 79 d 80 c


  • b 82 a 83 c 84 d 85 a 86 c 87 d


  • d 89 a 90 a 91 a 92 c 93 a 94 a


  • d 96 b 97 d 98 c 99 b 100 a 101


d 102 a 103 b 104 c 105 c 106 d 107 c 108 b 109 c 110 d 111 b 112 c 113 b 114 c 115 c 116 c 117 c 118 b 119 b 120 c 121 d 122 a 123 b 124 c 125 d 126 c 127 c 128 c 129 a 130 d 131 b 132 b 133 c 134 b 135 c 136 c 137 b 138 c 139 a 140 a 141 b 142 a 143 c 144 b 145 a 146 c 147 d 148 d 149 a 150 c 151 d 152 c 153 a 154 d 155 b 156 a 157 d 158 a 159 c 160 c 161 d 162 c 163 b 164 b 165 a 166 b 167 d 168 a 169 a 170 c 171 a 172 a 173 c 174 a 175 c 176 b 177 b 178 b 179 c 180 a 181 b 182 b 183 b 184 d 185 d 186 b 187 a 188 b 189 b 190 d 191 c 192 c 193 b 194 b 195 d 196 a 197 b 198 b 199 c 200 c 201 b 202 c 203 a 204 b 205 c 206 b 207 a 208 d 209 a 210 a 211 b 212 a 213 b 214 b 215 c 216 d 217 c 218 c 219 c 220 d 221 b 222 a 223 d 224 a 225 a 226 c 227 a 228 c 229 a 230 b 231 c 232 c 233 c 234 a 235 d 236 b 237 b 238 c 239 a 240 d 241 a 242 c 243 b 244 c 245 c 246 b 247 b 248 c 249 d 250 c 251 c 252 b 253 d 254 b 255 b 256 c 257 c 258 c 259 b 260 b 261 a 262 a 263 d 264 d 265 b 266 b 267 c 268 a 269 b 270 b 271 c 272 c 273 d 274 a 275 d 276 d 277 c 278 c 279 a 280 a 281 d 282 c 283 a 284 c 285 d 286 b 287 d 288 c 289 c 290 d 291 d 292 a 293 d 294 b 295 d 296 a 297 c 298 b 299 c 300 a







































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