English Idioms and Phrases: A List with Meanings & Examples

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English Idioms and Phrases

Search for English Idioms and Phrases with Meanings and Examples

This page features a complete list of common English idioms and phrases for language learners and teachers. The meanings for each expression are provided, along with example sentences to clarify the meanings in context.

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Search the complete list of idioms and phrases in the table below…

Idioms and Phrases with Meanings and Examples

Searchable List of 489 Common English Idioms and Phrases

*Updated: February 2024

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Idiom / PhraseMeaningExample Sentence
a barking dog never bitesa person who constantly threatens never actsDon't worry about his vocal threats. He won't hurt you physically.
a breezeeasyRiding a tricycle is such a breeze.
a cat in gloves catches no micebeing too careful can result in failureYou need to tell her how you really feel if you want to marry her. Remember that a cat in gloves catches no mice.
a dime a dozencommon and available anywhereCorrupt cops are a dime a dozen in this city.
a field daya very enjoyable timeMy children had a field day at the carnival.
a hell of a timea difficult (or exciting) experienceHer grandmother had a hell of a time trying to connect to the internet.
a little bird told mesomeone told me a secretA little bird told me that you're getting a divorce.
a lot on my platevery busyI've got a lot on my plate tonight. I don't think I won't finish until midnight.
a matter of timewhen something is inevitableIt's only a matter of time until they find a cure for cancer.
a penny for your thoughtsask for adviceCould I have a penny for your thoughts? I don't know how to solve this problem.
a whale of a timean exciting experienceThe family had a whale of a time at the theme park.
about timesaid to convey impatienceI've been waiting for you for an hour. It's about time you arrived!
ace in the holea hidden strength or advantageThey'll win the game since their rookie goalkeeper is an ace in the hole.
Achilles heelsomeone's weaknessVodka is his Achilles heel. He only loses his composure when he drinks it.
actions speak louder than wordsjudge what someone does rather than what they sayHe said he was faithful, but he always comes home late at night. His actions certainly speak louder than words.
add insult to injuryworsen an unfavorable situationShe added insult to injury by picking her little brother's ice cream off the dirty floor and sticking it in his mouth.
ahead of timeearlier than the deadlineFinish your work ahead of time so you can enjoy your hobbies.
all earslisten carefullyJane asked if I was paying attention. I told her, "I'm all ears!"
all hands on deckeveryone's help is neededWe need all hands on deck if we want to reduce carbon emissions.
all the ragepopularThose new shoes are all the rage these days.
all thumbsclumsyI'm all thumbs today. I keep dropping my phone!
an arm and a legvery expensiveThat new car costs an arm and a leg.
ants in your pantsanxious or nervousFrank had ants in his pants before taking his exam.
apple of my eyean adored personMy precious daughter is the apple of my eye.
around the clockwithout stoppingThe pharmacy is open around the clock. It never closes.
as white as a sheetvery fearful or anxiousWalter went as white as a sheet when he saw Hank get shot.
ask outask someone on a dateBobby asked her out, but she decided to stay home and do laundry.
at the drop of a hatinstantlyAt the drop of a hat, I called my sister when I heard she was pregnant!
at the wheelin controlShe felt saver at the wheel working as a freelance writer.
back to the drawing boardbegin something all over againIt was back to the drawing board after the team failed to make the playoffs.
backseat driversomeone who gives unwanted adviceThe teenager told the banker to buy a cryptocurrency that dropped 90 percent. What a backseat driver!
bad egga troublesome personBart is the bad egg of the class. He is always throwing paper airplanes.
bad news travels fastnegative news is shared fastEveryone knows she's in the hospital. Bad news travels fast.
ball is in your courtthe decision is up to youWe offered him an extra million dollars. The ball is in his court if he wants to sign the contract.
bark up the wrong treelook in the wrong place or falsely accuseHe asked me if I broke his laptop. I said he was barking up the wrong tree.
bark up the wrong treepursue misguided actionStop accusing me. I'm innocent. You're barking up the wrong tree!
basket caseerratic or panickyShe became such a basket case when she discovered her ex was at the party.
be an itembe a coupleApparently, Tiffany and Tim are an item. I always see them together.
be nuts aboutreally enjoyShe is nuts about her new boyfriend.
beast of burdensomeone carries others problemsI will never be your beast of burden. You have got to deal with your own problems.
beat a dead horsedwell on a topic beyond resolutionI told you several times that I won't do it. Don't beat a dead horse!
beat around the bushavoid talking about something specificallyStop beating around the bush! Get to the point already!
beat the clockfinish something before the deadlineThe paperwork was piled high, but she manages to beat the clock and finish it all.
beauty is in the eye of the beholdereveryone has different preferences for what is attractiveElla likes guys with big beards. Her girlfriends say to her that beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder.
beet redembarrassed or angryDarren went beet red when he saw the scratch on his car.
bell the cattake on a difficult taskPoliticians should bell the cat and start reducing the inflation rate.
best of both worldsenjoy two different opportunitiesJoe got the best of both worlds when he married Amy who was his best friend and a supermodel.
better late than neverdoing something late is better than not doing itYou finally visited the dentist. Better late than never!
bide your timerelax and take your time doing somethingBide your time and take a look through the restaurant menu. There are no other customers.
big cheesean important personWhere is the director? I want to talk to the big cheese.
birthday suitnakedYou should try sleeping with your birthday suit on. It's much more comfortable.
bite off more than one can chewtake on more responsibility than what is manageableHe was multitasking and getting stressed, so I told him not to bite off more than he could chew.
bite the bulletto endure an unpleasant and unavoidable situationRebecca hated her job, but she bit the bullet and completed her contract.
bite the dustdie or failThe hunter fired his gun and the deer bit the dust.
bitter pillsomething unpleasant that must be acceptedAwarding the trophy to her enemy was a bitter pill to swallow.
black and bluehurt physically or mentallyBoth during and after the relationship, I felt so black and blue.
black and whiteabsolute termsThe contract that you signed is in black and white. You must agree to the terms.
black holesome place or situation in which things are lostNever take hard drugs. It's a black hole you can't escape from.
black marketillegal marketplaceA lot of fake cigarettes are sold in the black market.
black outlose consciousnessShe knocked her head on the floor and blacked out!
black sheepunaccepted group memberTom was the black sheep of the family and preferred to do things on his own.
black tie eventformal eventMost big award's ceremonies are black tie events.
blind datedating someone you have never metI don't like blind dates because I want to know what she looks like first.
blue-collarmanual laborHe got a blue-collar job working as a mechanic.
born with a silver spoonfrom a rich familySara was born with a silver spoon, but she became a drug addict.
born yesterdayinexperiencedWere you born yesterday? You have to pay your credit card quickly to avoid serious debt.
borrowed timean uncertain length of time that may end suddenlyEveryone is living off of borrowed time. Enjoy every day as if it is your last.
bread and butternecessities or main pointsTell me the bread and butter of the article and explain the general idea of it.
break a leggood luckBefore the final exam, the teacher told his students to break a leg.
break the bankgo bankruptShe broke the bank after buying the Ferrari.
break the icedoing something first in a social settingLet me break the ice and buy everyone a drink.
bring home the baconearn moneyLouie brings home the bacon while his wife takes care of the kids.
Bronx cheersarcastic applauseMy girlfriend gave me the Bronx cheer when I finally remembered her birthday.
buckle downwork hardLet's buckle down and finish the assignment.
bundle of joynewborn babyThe mother is holding her bundle of joy.
burn a hole in my pocketspend too much moneyI burned a hole in my pocket overpaying on insurance.
burn the midnight oilwork late into the nightThe student burned the midnight oil in order to pass the test.
bust my chopssay something insultingShe always busts my chops about my low salary.
butter someone upbe really nice to someoneYou had better butter me up if you want a raise in salary.
by a landslideby a large marginThe Predators lost by a landslide in game 5. The Penguins beat them by 6 goals!
by the seat of your pantsachieve instinctively or quicklyThat was impressive. You did your graduation speech by the seat of your pants without any preparation.
by the skin of my teethbarely or narrowlyI finished the test by the skin of my teeth just before the bell rang.
call it a dayfinish workLet's call it a day. It's time to go home.
call the shotsmake the decisionsThe new coach is calling the shots.
call your dogs offstop criticizing or attackingI paid you all of the money. I don't owe you anything. Call your dogs off!
calm before the storma peaceful period before mayhemThe teacher is enjoying the calm before the storm. All of the students will arrive soon.
cash in the chipsselling somethingHe cashed in the chips and went on a world tour.
cat and mouseplayfully deceiveThe boss kept playing cat and mouse with me and never gave me the raise.
cat aroundsleep with many peopleHis wife used to cat around while he was working hard at the office.
cat burglarquick thiefThe cat burglar took everything in the house before the cops arrived.
cat got your tonguesaid when someone doesn't speakWhat's wrong? Cat got your tongue? You haven't said a word since we arrived.
cat got your tonguesaid when someone doesn't speakWhat's wrong? Cat got your tongue? You haven't said a word since we arrived.
cat napa short sleepMy father always takes a cat nap after work.
cat on a hot tin roofvery nervousI felt like a cat on a hot tin roof waiting for my medical results.
cat's cradlesomething overly complicatedThere is a cat's cradle of rules that you must follow to board a flight these days.
cat's meowsomething wonderfulHer birthday cake was the cat's meow. She ate the whole thing in less than a minute!
cat's pawsomeone being exploitedPoorer citizens are usually the cat's paw of politicians. They use them only to get votes and never follow through on promised policies.
catcallsexually suggestive commentThe construction workers were all catcalling the woman as she walked by.
catch you latersee you laterI have to go home now. Catch you later!
catfighta fight between two womenThe catfight was brutal! The other girl scratched her face with her nails.
catnapa short sleepMy father always takes a catnap after work.
caught with your pants downunpreparedDon't get caught with your pants down at a red light. Be ready to drive when it turns green.
chase rainbowsattempt something that will never be achievedYou're chasing rainbows if you think you're going to be a rock star.
cheap as chipsvery inexpensiveThis cup of coffee was only 50 cents. Cheap as chips!
cheapskatea frugal personHe's such a cheapskate. He never buys anything for his girlfriend.
chicken outavoid doing something because of fearMary was going to go skydiving, but she chickened out.
chink in one's armorvulnerable areaBob was a great teacher, but the chink in his armor was his fear of public speaking.
chip indonate money or timeWhy don't you chip in and support the refugees?
clam upbecome quietTom always clams up when you ask him about his ex-girlfriend.
cold feetbeing nervous or anxious before a big eventShe got cold feet before the wedding.
commit Harry Carrycommit suicideUnfortunately, some of the world's greatest singers committed Harry Carry.
cook the booksdishonest accountingLet's cook the books so we can avoid paying higher taxes.
cool cata hip or cool personHe was such a coot cat. He was respected by his peers and the girls all loved him.
copycatsomeone who copies anotherYou're such a copycat! Do your own work!
copycatsomeone who copies anotherYou're such a copycat! Do your own work!
couch potatolazy personDon't be such a couch potato and do some work for once!
country milea long wayWe drove a country mile to the other side of the country.
cream of the cropthe bestThe team has the cream of the crop of draft picks. They will probably win the cup soon.
crocodile tearsfake tearsHer little daughter always cries crocodile tears to get whatever she wants.
crunch timea critical periodCrunch time in most sports comes down to the final few minutes of a game.
cry over spilled milkget upset over something insignificant or about something irreversibleI know you forgot your phone, but there is no need to cry over spilt milk. You can live without it for an hour.
cry your heart outcry a lotHe cried his heart out when his dog died.
cup of joecup of coffeeLet's get a cup of joe at Starbucks.
curiosity killed the catcuriosity may lead to unwanted circumstancesDon't enter that haunted house. Remember that curiosity killed the cat!
curtainsfinished, the endI knew it was curtains for their marriage when they signed the prenuptial agreement.
cut cornersreduce spendingThe family had to cut corners in order to put food on the table.
cut the cheesefartWho cut the cheese? It smells awful in here.
cut the mustardmeet expectationsGeorge's work ethic didn't cut the mustard, so he got fired.
cut the rugdanceI love this song! Let's go on the dance floor and cut the rug!
dig deeplook hard for information or try hardWalt had to dig deep to find a solution to the chemistry problem.
dirt cheapvery inexpensiveMy clothes are dirt cheap, but they still look fashionable.
do timego to prisonFranky has to do time for all those crimes that he was convicted of.
dog and bonea telephoneShe is speaking with her boyfriend on the dog and bone.
dog and pony showelaborate presentationThe designer bag showcase was such a dog and pony show.
dog daysvery hot daysThe dog days of summer are really humid and uncomfortable.
dog-earedfolded corners of pages in a bookHe dog-eared the pages of the book instead of using a bookmark.
dog-eat-dog worldcompetitiveAmerican political debates are a dog-eat-dog world.
dog-tiredvery tiredShe was dog-tired after running the marathon.
dog's bollocksthe bestThat new Tesla is the dog's bollocks.
dog's breakfastvery messyHer mother was upset because her son's room was like a dog's breakfast.
doggy bagfood taken home after a restaurant mealMy girlfriend barely ate her dinner so she asked the waiter for a doggy bag.
dogs of wardestruction caused by warFamine and poverty are unfortunately common dogs of war.
dogsbodysomeone who does all the workThe chef was the dogsbody in the kitchen. Everyone else broke dishes.
don't count chickens before they hatchdon't plan for something that may not happenZoe bought the dress, before anyone asked her to the prom. I told her not to count her chickens before they hatch.
double datingtwo couples dating at the same timeMy friend always goes on double dates and likes getting attention from both guys.
double dog darechallenge defiantlyShe double dog dared me to go hang gliding so I had to do it!
double takelook a second timeWhen she walked by in those heels, all the guys did a double take.
down timerelaxing timeYou need to have some down time after a long day at work.
down to earthnatural personalityAlexander is very wealthy, but he is still down to earth.
down to the wireto the endThe game is coming down to the wire and nobody has scored.
dress to killdress in glamorous clothesShe is always dressed to kill when she goes to the bar.
drink like a fishdrink a lotNorm drinks like a fish when he goes to the pub.
drive someone crazymake someone annoyed or feel madly in loveShe drives me crazy. I don't know if I should buy her another diamond or get a divorce.
drive up the wallmake someone crazyHer loud little dog was driving him up the wall.
drop like fliesdie or give up quicklyThe other candidates dropped like flies at the end of the election.
eager beaversomeone who is excited about somethingShe's such an eager beaver when checking updates on Instagram.
early birdsomeone who likes to wake up earlySara is such an early bird. She gets up before the sun rises.
easier said than doneeasier to speak words than to perform actionsThe government low tax policy is easier said than done.
easy come, easy gosomething that happens easily can just as easily be taken away
eat like a horseeat a lotYou eat like a horse. There is nothing left at the buttet.
egg someone onto urge or provoke someoneThe hockey player tried to egg his opponent on by dropping his gloves.
elephant in the rooma sensitive unaddressed issueThe couple's money problem was an elephant in the room. They never talk about finances.
every cloud has a silver liningbe optimisticShe got fired but found a better job she. Every cloud has a silver lining.
every dog has its dayeveryone has success eventuallyKeep shooting and you will score. Every dog has its day.
every nook and crannyeveryone possible placeI looked in every nook and cranny, but I couldn't find what I was looking for.
everything but the kitchen sinkalmost everything imaginableThe team threw everything but the kitchen sink at the goalie, but they couldn't score a goal.
face the musicdeal with unpleasant consequencesThe man confessed to the crime and faced the music in prison.
fair-weather frienda person who is only a friend in good timesI try to avoid fair-weather friends. They aren't very sincere.
fat cat wealthy personFat cats get wealthier with inflation while the poor have to pay more for groceries.
fat chanceunlikelyIt's a fat chance that the war will end this year.
feel bluefeel sadBarbara felt blue after breaking up with her boyfriend.
fine-tooth combin detailThe detective analyzed the crime scene with a fine-tooth comb.
fishystrange or suspiciousSomething fishy is going on. He takes his wedding ring off when he leaves.
fit as a fiddlegood physical healthLook at those abs! You are as fit as a fiddle!
fit like a glovefit perfectlyThose jeans fit her like a glove.
flesh and bloodfamilyI can't fire my brother. He's my own flesh and blood.
fly in the ointmentannoyance that spoils enjoymentThe wedding crasher was such a fly in the ointment.
foot the billpay for somethingI'll foot the bill and pay for everyone's meal at the restaurant.
freeze your buns offbe very coldYou will freeze your buns off in Antarctica.
front runnerfavorite to winThe stallion is the front runner. He'll be hard to beat.
full of beansenergeticThe elementary students are always full of beans.
get a head startstart before othersDon always gets a head start and wakes up at dawn.
get a second windhave new energy after an attemptI was exhausted after 3 kilometers of running, but I got a second wind after I passed the beach.
get bent out of shapeget upsetThe waiter got so bent out of shape when the customer tipped him a penny.
get hitchedget marriedWe got hitched last month. Didn't you get the wedding invitation?
get into the full swingbe comfortable doing something after some timeIt took her a month to get into the full swing of things. Now she is the best employee.
get something off my chestreveal or confess somethingI felt better getting it off my chest by confessing that I stole the money.
get the bootget firedBob got the boot last week. He needs to find a new job.
get wind of somethingoverhear something about someone or something (often gossip)Sherry got wind that her ex-boyfriend was coming to the same bar, so she went home.
get with the timesto get up-to-date with the modern eraTime to get with the times and buy an electric car.
give a cold shoulderto deny or ignoreShe gave him a cold shoulder when he asked for her phone number.
give a hand or lend a handhelp someoneCan you give me a hand with lifting this laundry machine?
give a hard timetease or bother someoneStop giving your little brother a hard time and help him with his homework.
give it your best shottry your hardestI know the homework is difficult but give it your best shot.
give no quarter (none asked)give no mercyThe student asked to take the test again, but the teacher gave no quarter.
give someone a fair shakegive someone a chanceHe never got a fair shake. He got fired after a week.
give someone a run for their moneytry hard to defeat another personConnor is going to give Floyd a run for his money.
give the green lightgive permissionShe gave her son the green light to join the police academy.
glory houndsomeone looking for fortune or fameHe's such a glory hound. He loves the attention from the press.
glutton for punishmentsomeone who always takes on unpleasant tasksDebby is such a glutton for punishment. I think she enjoys being in bad relationships.
go downhillget progressively worseHis health started to go downhill when he started smoking again.
go Dutchsplit the billThe couple always likes to go Dutch and share their living expenses.
go overboarddo more than neededDon't go overboard or you'll get stressed out. Just do one page.
go steadydate each otherI asked her to go steady, but she dated Joe instead.
go to bat for someonedefend someoneHis colleague went to bat for her and testified on her behalf.
go with the flowgo along with what everyone else does without conflictNancy just goes with the flow at her work and doesn't cause any interference.
golden opportunitya good chance for achievementHe had a golden opportunity to win the game on the penalty shot.
grass is always greener on the other sideothers always have it betterWhenever she complains about her hometown, I remind her that the grass is always greener on the other side.
gravy trainhigh pay for minimal workGovernment workers ride the gravy train while sitting at their desks doing nothing.
green thumbtalent for gardeningYour flowers live so long because of your green thumb.
grey areavague or unclearThe store's return policy is such a grey area. I don't understand their rules.
grin like a Cheshire catmischievously satisfiedShe was grinning like a Cheshire cat after she had used her boyfriend's credit card.
hair of the dogdrinking alcohol to cure a hangoverThe hair of the dog is the best remedy for a hangover.
handle with kid gloveshandle delicatelyPlease handle those wine glasses with kid gloves.
hang in therebe patient and stay optimisticI told Joe to hang in there when I found out that his wife was sick again.
happy campera contented personHe looks like a happy camper eating his birthday cake.
hard nut to crackdifficult to understand or persuadeThe criminal was a tough nut to crack. He never revealed any of his accomplices.
hat trickthree goals by one playerRonaldo scored several hat tricks last season.
have a blasthave a good timeWe all had a blast at the party!
have a bun in the ovenbe pregnantMary has a bun in the oven so she can't drink alcohol.
have a card up your sleevehave a secret planYou had a card up your sleeve and you won the match by distracting the goalkeeper.
have a cowget upsetDon't have a cow! It's not like I scratched the car on purpose!
have eyes in the back of your headperceptiveYou must have eyes in the back of your head. You always know what your boyfriend is doing when he's away.
have the hots forto be attracted to someoneMary had the hots for George, so she wrote him a love letter.
have the upper handhave a better chance of winningThe experienced boxer has the upper hand.
have your cake and eat it toowant more than you needFrank is married but he also wants to date other women. He wants to have his cake and eat it too.
have your head in the cloudsto be unaware or obliviousYou always have your head in the clouds. Do you have any idea what's happening?
head over heelsto be deeply in loveSarah was head over heels for her new boyfriend.
heard it through the grapevinehear a rumorI heard it through the grapevine that you were getting nose surgery.
heart goes out tofeel sympathyMy heart goes out to Sara. She spent years fighting cancer.
heavy heartsadnessShe left him with a heavy heart.
high timethe right time to accomplish somethingIt's high time to solve this budget problem.
hit a snagface a sudden problemWe've hit a snag. I don't think we can finish it on time now.
hit below the beltdo something that is unfairYou hit me below the belt when you said that lie about me.
hit the nail on the headto be precisely accurate or correctI couldn't have said it better myself. You really hit the nail on the head.
hit the roadleaveWhen the bell rang, the teacher told the students to hit the road.
hit the sack / sheets / haygo to sleepI'm so tired. It's time to hit the sack.
hold all the acesexpected to winThe home team holds all the aces. I don't think the other team will win.
hold your horseswait and be patientHold your horses! I'll be ready in a minute.
holy cowthat is surprisingHoly cow! Did she really dye her hair blue?
horse aroundplay roughlyStop horsing around kids. You're in the library.
hot dogshow offWhat a hot dog! He's stickhandling the puck around every player!
hot potatoa controversial subjectTrump's last Tweet was a hot potato in the news.
hot shot or big shotvery confident or successful personAll the hot shots in New York live on the Upper East Side.
I betI think soI bet she's going to arrive late to work again.
in a nutshellto sum upIn a nutshell, she is sick because she drank too much last night.
in no timevery quicklyIt's so easy. I will be finished the assignment in no time.
in over your headtrying something that is much too difficult for one's abilityYou're in over your head. You can't beat the computer at chess.
in seventh heavenin a state of blissThe team was in seventh heaven when the captain scored the goal.
in the blackprofitableFacebook has been in the black ever since the company went public.
in the dog housein troubleThe coach won't let me play. I'm in the dog house.
in the long runin the long termShe hates doing homework but in the long run it will make her successful.
in the nick of timejust in timeHe caught the train in the nick of time just before it departed.
it takes two to tangoit takes more than one personThere is now way she robbed the store alone. It takes two to tango. Someone helped her break in.
joined at the hipinseparableJane and Joe are joined at the hip.
jump shipescapeThe employees all jumped ship when they heard the company was going bankrupt.
jump the gunbegin too soonIf you jump the gun then you may make a mistake. Go at your own pace.
just what the doctor ordereddesirable resultIt's going to be sunny all weekend. Just what the doctor ordered!
keep an eye onwatch carefully or take care ofPlease keep an eye on the kettle. It will boil soon.
keep something zipped upkeep something a secretHe tried to keep the affair zipped up, but his friend told his wife what happened.
keep the wolves at bayward off poverty or hungerHe needed a part-time job to keep the wolves at bay and to avoid serious debt.
keep your chin upstay positiveKeep your chin up. You will win the next game.
keep your head above watertry not to fall behindIt's hard to keep your head above water when you are already down by 3 goals.
keep your lips sealedpromise to keep a secretYou must keep your lips sealed about your affair.
keep your shirt onstay calmKeep your shirt on and try to relax. The plane will land soon.
kick the bucketdieI hope I can travel the world before I kick the bucket.
kill timepass time aimlesslyMost people kill time by swiping through their iPhone apps.
kill two birds with one stoneaccomplish two things at onceWhy not kill two birds with one stone and brush your teeth in the shower?
kitty cornerdiagonally across fromStarbucks is kitty corner to the gas station.
know by heartmemorizeSteve knows all of the computer code by heart.
know which way the wind blowsknow the end resultNobody knows which way the wind will blow. Just try to be positive.
lazy as a dogvery lazyI was lazy as a dog last weekend. I stayed in bed on Saturday and Sunday.
lead a dog's lifeunhappy lifeHer father lead a dog's life trying to raise her and she never appreciated him.
learn the ropeslearn new thingsI spend the whole morning learning the ropes for the job.
leave at the altardecide not to marry at the last minuteHer fiance left her at the altar and moved to Fiji.
let sleeping dogs lieavoid interfering in something that may create troubleDon't bring up old arguments. It's best to let sleeping dogs lie.
let the cat out of the bagreveal a secretDon't let the cat out of the bag about the birthday party.
let the cat out of the bagreveal a secretDon't let the cat out of the bag about the birthday party.
let the dog see the rabbitremove unnecessary obstructionsIt's time to let the dog see the rabbit. Bring the batter up to the big leagues!
let your hair downrelax and have funYou should let your hair down on Saturday night and go dancing.
level playing fieldequal chanceThe team leveled the playing field after the penalty kick.
like herding catsa difficult taskGetting everyone to take the vaccine is like herding cats.
like the cat got the creamsatisfaction with some kind of achievementAfter proving her innocence, she smiled at the police officer like the cat got the cream.
lion's sharethe majority of somethingYou took the lion's share of the money. All I got was a couple pennies.
live from hand to mouthlive on very little moneyDuring the depression, we had to live from hand to mouth.
live out of a suitcaselive or travel somewhere temporarilyHe decided to live out of a suitcase and travel for a year.
long shotdifficult thing to accomplishIt will be a long shot to finish in the top three positions.
look what the cat dragged insomeone unwelcome has arrivedLook what the cat dragged in. We told you to stay home and talk to your therapist.
lose itlose controlIf you forget to tip the waiter again, he is going to completely lose it.
love is blindlove makes someone blind to their partner's imperfectionsLove is certainly blind. Tom is very attracted to a girl who eats on the toilet.
love ratsomeone who cheats on their partnerHank is such a love rat. This is the tenth girl I've seen him with this week.
lovey-doveykissing and huggingKate really hates it when couples are lovey-dovey in public.
make a mountain out of a molehillto overemphasize small problemsThe car only got a tiny dent. You're making a mountain out of a molehill.
make from scratchmake with original ingredientsMy wife made me a delicious omelet from scratch.
make lovesexFrank wanted to make love in the tent, but his wife wanted a hotel room.
make my blood boilmake very angryDonald makes my blood boil when he talks.
make the cutchosen to be part of a groupI don't think I made the cut. Other people will probably get hired instead.
make up for lost timeto catch up with something after disregarding it for a long timeLet's make up for lost time and hang out all week.
method to my madnesshaving a purpose despite some disorganizationI know my desk is a mess, but there is a method to my madness. It makes everything easier to access.
miss the boatlose an opportunityHe missed the boat after discovering that his friend got the job instead.
monkey see, monkey dosilly people copy each otherMonkey see, monkey do. Your brother spilt ketchup on his shirt too.
more than one way to skin a catmore than one way to succeedThere's more than one way to skin a cat. Let's quit our jobs and start a business by the beach!
my cup of teasomething enjoyableMusicals aren't my cup of tea. I prefer regular movies.
neck and neckvery closeThe race cars were neck and neck until the end.
neck of the woodsnearby locationThe restaurant is in my neck of the woods.
nest eggsaved moneyShe has a huge nest egg, so she doesn't have to work anymore.
nice lettucenice hairDonald used to have really nice lettuce when he was younger, but now he is bald.
no love lostmutual dislikeThere is no love lost between Donald and Hillary.
no room to swing a catvery small placeThere's no room to swing a cat in this apartment. I can almost touch the two walls with both hands.
no sweatno problemSara said it would be no sweat to finish the assignment on time.
not have a cat's chance in hellno chance whatsoeverYou don't have a cat's chance in hell of marrying her.
not playing with a full decklower mental abilityGeorge isn't playing with a full deck. He forgot to wear his socks.
not up to parnot good enoughIf you're not up to par by the end of the month, you're fired.
off one's rockercrazyJanet is licking food off the floor. She must be off her rocker.
off the beaten trackunusual route or destinationWe went off the beaten track and discovered an ancient temple in the forest.
off the cuffimprovisedThe groom made did wedding speech off the cuff.
off the hookescape obligationThe boss let him off the hook and said he didn't have to work today.
old handexperienced personPeter is an old hand when analyzing the stock market.
on a silver platterwhole-heatedly or easilyHe was offered the new job on a silver platter, but he didn't take it.
on cloud ninevery happyElizabeth was on cloud nine when she put on the diamond ring.
on my watchduring my time on dutyI told the workers that they couldn't sleep on my watch. They can sleep when they get home.
on the ballready and ableI'm on the ball today. I finished everything before lunch.
on the cansitting on the toiletMy uncle always looks sings songs on the can.
on the mendrestore or recoverTheir relationship is now on the mend after going to counseling.
on the rocks (1)with iceCould I have a whisky on the rocks?
on the rocks (2)a romantic relationship near the endTheir relationship is on the rocks. They'll probably break up soon.
once in a blue moonrarelyThe truck driver visits his kids once in a blue moon.
out in left fieldstrange or unconventionalHis response was so way out in left field that everyone couldn't stop laughing.
out of my leaguenot as good as someone elseShe's way out of my league. There's no way she'll go out with me.
out of the bluesuddenlyHer ex-boyfriend called her out of the blue during her honeymoon.
out of the woodsclear of a dangerous situationThe Lakers aren't out of the woods yet. They still have to play one more quarter.
out to lunchcrazy or distracted or confusedThat guy is so out to lunch. He is difficult to get business done with.
over my dead bodyto do anything to prevent something from happeningMy son wanted to get a face tattoo, but I told him over my dead body.
over the hillold ageMy boss is over the hill, but he still doesn't want to retire.
over the moondelightedShe was over the moon when he put the ring on her finger.
paint the town redhave funIt's finally the weekend! Let's paint the town red!
pat on the backgive recognitionYou deserve a pat on the back for fixing the furnace.
pay a king's ransompay a lot of moneyThe team had to pay a king's ransom for the superstar.
penny pinchera frugal personVictor is such a penny pincher. He never buys anything for anyone.
piece of cakevery easyThe final exam was a piece of cake.
pig outeat a lotLast night, I pigged out on a bag of potato chips.
piss in my cornflakesto annoy out of spite She always pisses in my cornflakes because of what I did to her last year.
pitch blackvery darkYou should always sleep in a room that is pitch black.
play second fiddleplay a secondary roleThe new intern always plays second fiddle to his colleagues.
play something by earlet things occur without a rigid planLet's play it by ear and see what happens tonight.
plenty of other fish in the seathere are many other available partnersDon't worry. You'll find another girl. There are plenty of other fish in the sea.
pop the questionask someone to get marriedHe popped her the big question during their vacation.
pot calling the kettle blackto hypocritically criticizeDonald says the news is fake but that's like the pot calling the kettle black.
pour money down the drainwaste moneyBetting on an injured horse is like pouring money down the drain.
preach to the choirattempt to convince someone about an issue that they already supportYou're preaching to the choir when you say that sugar is bad for your health.
pressed for timehaving limited time availableThe doctor was really pressed for time, so he misdiagnosed the illness.
pull up your sockstry hardGood job. You pulled your socks up, studied all day, and aced the test.
pull your legtease or joke aroundI'm just pulling your leg. Don't take it too seriously.
pull yourself togethercalm downYou need to pull yourself together and stop screaming at me in public.
puppy dog eyesinnocent facial expressionHis daughter showed him puppy dog eyes after dropping his ice cream cone.
puppy loveteenager romantic loveIt was just puppy love during high school but they broke up in university.
pushing up daisiesdieYou'll be pushing up daisies if you don't quit smoking.
put a sock in itstop talkingPut a sock in it and listen to the teacher!
put all of the eggs in one basketrely on one thingHe dedicated all of his time to baseball. If he puts all of his eggs in one basket, he may not have an alternative career to rely on.
put in my two centsgive my opinionCan I put in my two cents? I have something important to say.
put on icepostponeLet's put this problem on ice and get back to it tomorrow.
put the cat among pigeonsan action that causes problemsYou really put the cat among pigeons when you brought up those bill payments again.
put your money where your mouth isstop talking and start acting upon somethingYou should put your money where your mouth is and start your new business idea.
put your thinking cap onconcentrateYou put your thinking cap on and created a brilliant ad for the new product.
put yourself in my shoessympathizePut yourself in the my shoes, then you will understand why I did it.
question of timean inevitability or eventualityIt's only a question of time until all cars drive themselves.
rags to richesgoing from being poor to wealthyJake went from rags to riches after he won the lottery.
rain on someone else's paradeinfringe on someone's happinessStop raining on my parade whenever you get miserable.
raining cats and dogsraining heavilyIt's raining cats and dogs. Remember your umbrella.
raining cats and dogsraining heavilyIt's raining cats and dogs. Remember your umbrella.
raise a white flagsurrenderI decided to raise a white flag and stop arguing with my wife.
rat racecompetitive struggleI escaped the rat race in the office and moved to Hawaii.
ray of hopea slight chance that something positive will occurShe still had a ray of hope that she would get into medical school.
red herringsomething that draws attention away from an important topicThe President's gambling addiction was just a red herring for the pipeline problems.
red taperules which hinder progressThere is a lot of red tape involved with starting a business.
red-letter dayan important dayMy graduation was a red-letter day for my parents.
ride my coattailsdo nothing and let others do all the workShe has been riding my coattails all year and I don't get any credit for my effort.
right as rainfeeling very well or fitAfter a walk through the park, I feel as right as rain. My mind feels clear.
ring a bellcause recollection or somethingThat song rings a bell, but I still can't remember the singer's name.
rise and shinewake up or get out of bedRise and shine! Breakfast is ready!
road less traveledunconventional choicesShe took the road less traveled and decided to join the circus.
rock hounda geologistThe gold miner is such a rock hound. He is going to be very wealthy.
roll out the red carpetgreet someone with great respectThey rolled out the red carpet during the President's inauguration.
roll up your sleeveswork hardYou rolled up your sleeves and got the job done.
rub the wrong wayannoy That guy really rubs me the wrong way. I can't stand being around him.
rule of thumbgeneral ruleAs a rule of thumb, you should get 8 hours of sleep per night.
run a tight shipbe strictThe director runs a tight ship. He never lets his employees leave early.
run with the big dogscompete with the top performersIt's time to run with the big dogs when you play in the Premier League.
save for a rainy daysave money in case something unfortunate happensYou should save for a rainy day. You could get injured or become unemployed.
scaredy-catsomeone who is always scaredAre you really afraid of the dark? You're such a scaredy-cat!
screw the poochfailCarl really screwed the pooch on the exam. He's the only one who failed.
see a man about his doggo to the bathroomI left the dinner table to see a man about his dog.
see eye to eyeagreeMy wife and eye don't see eye to eye. We're getting a divorce.
see redto be enragedBobby saw red when his brother broke his phone.
serve timespend time in prisonChuck served time in prison so it is difficult for him to get hired.
settle a scoreget evenIt's time to settle the score. I'm sick of losing against these guys.
shake it offrecoverDon't worry about the poor test result. Shake it off and try again.
ship has saileda lost opportunityJack was thinking of marrying Jane but that ship has sailed. She married Zack instead.
shoot the breezechitchatLet's grab lunch and shoot the breeze.
shooting fish in a barreleasy or not challengingFor my brilliant little brother, setting up the Wifi connection is like shooting fish in a barrel.
shot in the darkguessIt was a shot in the dark, but her answer was correct.
sick as a dogvery sickI was sick as a dog on Monday, so I couldn't go to work.
silver screenthe movie industryAngelina always wanted to star on the silver screen.
simmer downcalm downThe kids have been screaming all day. Tell them to simmer down.
six of one and half a dozen of the otherequivalent alternativesThe bus and subway arrive at the same time. It's six of one and half a dozen of the other.
skate on thin icedo something riskyHe was skating on thin ice when he insulted the boss.
sleep with the fishesdieBefore pulling the trigger, he told the gangster to sleep with the fishes.
smart cookiean intelligent personGeorge is one smart cookie. He got 100 percent on all his tests.
smell a ratsuspect deceptionI smell rat. I know I left my wallet on my desk, but it's gone.
snowed underhaving too much work to doI'm really snowed under now. Can I do the report tomorrow?
so and sorefering to someone's nameI was talking to so and so yesterday and she said the concert was amazing.
spice things upmake more excitingSara spiced up her room by hanging paintings on the walls.
spill the beansreveal a secretWho spilt the beans about my brother's surprise birthday party?
start the ball rollingstart somethingLet's get the ball rolling and start with some ice breakers.
steal someone's thunderto take credit for someone else's achievementSome companies steal another's thunder and ignore copyright laws.
step up to the platetake responsibilityYuna is going to step up to the plate and admit that her team's decision was wrong.
stick your neck outhelp someone despite possible consequences for oneselfYou should stick your neck out for your teammate.
stick-in-the-muda dull or unadventurous personJerry is such stick-in-the-mud. He never wants to go out with his friends.
storm in a teacupmake a small problem bigger than it isDon't make a storm in a teacup. We can go to another restaurant that doesn't require reservations.
storm is brewingan indication that something bad could occurA feel like a storm is brewing and the stock market is about to crash.
straight from the horse's mouthdirectly from the sourceThe boss said we're bankrupt. The news came straight from the horse's mouth.
sweet toothlove sweet thingsSuzie has a sweet tooth. She always eats ice cream after dinner.
take a raincheckreschedule at another timeCan I take a raincheck? I don't have time to hang out tonight.
take my hat off to someonehonor someoneI take my hat off to Frank. He was the best singer of the century.
take no prisonersruthlessly agressiveTo be successful in business, you need to take no prisoners and beat the competition.
take the bull by the hornsbe brave and face a challengeIf you want to be rich, take the bull by the horns and work harder.
take the cake especially good or outstandingHis slapshot definitely takes the cake. It's the best in the league!
take the wind out of my sailsto feel deflatedYou really took the wind out of my sails when you laughed at my new invention.
take with a grain of saltdon't believe it is completely accurateI always take whatever I read in the news with a grain of salt.
talk a blue streaktalk a lotWomen who are close friends can talk a blue streak on the phone.
the big timea situation involving fame or successThe actress was ready for the big time when she was nominated for the award.
the birds and the beessex educationI remember learning about the birds and the bees in middle school.
the cat's pyjamasthe best person or thingShe's the cat's pyjamas. Everyone loves to watch her perform on the stage.
the cat's whiskersthe best person or thingDo you think you're really the cat's whiskers? Anybody can parallel park with car sensors now.
the eleventh hourlast chance to do somethingJust before the deadline, the student submitted the assignment at the eleventh hour.
the home stretchnear the endWe're on the home stretch now. We'll be there in a few minutes.
the lion's sharethe majorityShe was upset because her sister got the lion's share of the inheritance.
the tip of the iceberga small part of a bigger problemThe tax evasion was just the tip of the iceberg. The company has committed countless other crimes.
the whole nine yardseverythingWe covered the whole nine yards in the meeting. There's nothing left to do.
thick in the headstupid or foolishTommy is so thick in the head. He keeps licking the wall.
third time's a charmthe third time is usually successfulI tried unlocking the door twice already. I hope the third time's a charm.
three dog nightvery coldLooks like it's going to be a three dog night. It's going to minus 40 degrees.
through thick and thinin good and bad timesHe loved his wife through thick and thin.
throw caution to the windto let go of all responsibilities and have funLet's throw caution to the wind, quit our jobs, and go on vacation!
throw in the towelgive upRocky never threw in the towel during his fighting career.
throw it in herhave sex with herYou should throw it in her. I think she really wants you.
throw the baby out with the bath waterremoving something good while trying to remove something badKeep writing your novel. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Most of what you have written is great.
throw to the dogsallow someone to be attackedWhy did you throw me to the dogs yesterday? I couldn't defend myself.
throw under the bussacrifice someone as a scapegoatThe player threw the goaltender under the bus saying he was the reason they lost the game.
tick for tackretaliationThe team lost the first game, but won the second. Tick for tack.
tie the knotget marriedAre you ever going to tie the knot? You aren't getting any younger.
time fliestime goes very fastOur vacation is over already? Time flies!
time is moneytime is valuableWe can't wait here all day. Time is money!
time of your lifean enjoyable time of your life Did you have the time of your life when you were a teenager?
time to runtime to leaveIt's time to run. I need to go an pick up my kids from school.
time will tellthe outcome will soon be knownOnly time will tell what happens to the human race.
to be off basenot making a fair statementMandy was off base when she said that I needed a hair transplant to get the acting role.
to fancy someoneto think someone is very attractiveDo you fancy Molly? She likes you too.
tongue in cheeknot meaning what one is sayingWhen I said to fly to Hawaii, I was speaking tongue in cheek. I didn't actually think you would book a ticket!
top of the worldextremely happyHe was on top of the world before the Titanic sunk.
travel lighttravel will minimal luggageRemember to travel light because airline's charge fees for extra luggage now.
true colorsactual character or personalityI saw her true colors when she donated to the local charity.
two-timecheat or betrayHis girlfriend was two-timing him by sleeping with the plumber.
under my thumbunder my controlMick said the girl was under his thumb. She was the sweetest pet in the world.
under the tableconcealed or by secretWe should keep this under the table until we know it's safe to tell everyone.
under the weatherfeel sickSorry, I can't come to work today. I'm feeling a bit under the weather.
until the cows come homefor a long timeShe can watch Netflix until the cows come home.
up the creekin troubleIf I don't wash the dishes tonight, I'll be up the creek. Mom said to wash them two days ago.
wag the dogdistract attention fromThe politician wags the dog to prevent people from discovering his scandal.
walk out on someoneto end a relationshipMy girlfriend walked out on me, so I drank a bottle of vodka.
wash my hands of somethingstop dealing with a problemI'm washing my hands of his troubled past and moving on with life.
water off a duck's backa harmful remark that has no effect on someoneShe insulted me but I didn't care. It was like water off a duck's back.
water under the bridgea past problem that no longer affects the presentHe cheated on her 10 years ago, but that is water under the bridge now.
wear the pantsbe in chargeShe wears the pants in the family. Her husband stays home and sleeps all day.
wear your heart on your sleeveshow emotions openlyYou always wear heart on your sleeve and give annual donations to charity.
when it rains, it poursmany misfortunes often occur all at onceLast week, my dog died and I broke my leg. When it rains, it pours.
while the cat's away, the mice will playpeople will misbehave when there is no authority figureThey never do any work when the boss is out of the office. While the cat's away, the mice will play!
whisper sweet nothingsto say romantic things to someoneSue likes it when I whisper sweet nothings in her ear in bed.
white collaroffice laborMost white-collar workers don't get much sunshine.
white elephantuseless possessionMy old DVD player is a white elephant. I only watch Netflix now.
white liea harmless lieShe told her boss a white lie when she said she had a doctor's appointment.
white-collaroffice laborMost white-collar workers don't get much sunshine.
wild goose chaselengthy undertaking that accomplishes littleMaking the playoffs is now a wild goose chase. The team should focus on player development.
win hands downeasy victoryThe team one hands down because their opponents had three red cards.
work like a dogwork very hardMy boss has me working like a dog.
yellow-belliedcowardlyDon't be so yellow-bellied. It's only a small spider!
you betabsolutely or "of course"Marge told Bart to take out the trash. He said, "Sure, mom. You bet!"
you can say that againthat is definitely true"This movie is so boring," she said. "You can say that again," her friend replied with a yawn.
zero-sum gameeither win or loseIn the playoffs, overtime is a zero-sum game. Only one team can win.

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