An IDIOM is a group of words or a phrase that differs from their literal meaning. Idioms enrich the language.
We must learn to use idioms correctly and appropriately.
Use of Idioms
Use of A Idioms
|She doesn’t have the ABC of cooking.
|Above all, we need to prioritize safety in this project.
|completely transparent and honest
|The financial records of the company are always above the board.
|After all, he did show up to the party, even though he had said he wouldn’t.
|All at once
|All at once, the lights went out.
|All of a sudden
|suddenly and unexpectedly
|All of a sudden, she realized she had lost her wallet.
|The company was all but bankrupt before the new CEO took over.
|fully attentive and interested
|The students were all ears when the guest speaker arrived.
|All in all
|The chef is all in all when it comes to creating the menu.
|The instructions in the manual were all Greek to him.
|Apple of one’s eye
|a person or thing that is cherished above all others
|His dog is the apple of his eye.
|Apple of discord
|a source of conflict
|The inheritance became an apple of discord among the siblings.
|She acted as if she knew the answer.
|As it were
|so to speak
|The flowers bloomed, as it were, overnight.
|As usual, the train was running late.
|cornered and under threat
|The company was at bay after the stock market crash.
|At one’s fingertips
|The lawyer always has the latest legal information at his fingertips.
|At daggers drawn
|in a state of intense hostility
|The two politicians were at daggers drawn during the debate.
|comfortable and familiar
|She is at home in the world of fashion.
|At a loss
|unsure of what to do
|He was at a loss as to how to fix the broken vase.
|in any way
|The book is not helpful at all.
|At all events
|in any case
|We will be attending the wedding at all events.
|At a low ebb
|at a low point
|The company’s profits are at a low ebb this quarter.
|At arm’s length
|keeping a safe distance
|She kept the poisonous snake at arm’s length.
|At a stretch
|without a break
|He worked on his project for six hours at a stretch.
|The suspect is still at large.
|I got my missing phone at last.
|at a minimum
|At least fifty people attended the concert.
|At sixes and sevens
|After the earthquake, everything was at sixes and sevens.
|Her life is at stake now.
Use of B Idioms
|Let’s try to resolve our issues and avoid any bad blood between us.
|Bag and baggage
|with all belongings
|She left the apartment with her bags and baggage.
|Be-all and end-all
|For him, achieving success in his career is the be-all and end-all.
|Beat about the bush
|avoid getting to the point
|Can you please stop beating about the bush and tell me what happened?
|Bed of roses
|easy and comfortable situation
|Life is never a bed of roses; one must face challenges.
|Behind the screen
|There might be some shady dealings behind the screen.
|Beat black and blue
|The bullies beat the innocent kid black and blue.
|Between the devil and the deep sea
|in a difficult situation with no good options
|Between the Devil and the deep sea
|The beauty of the sunrise was so breathtaking, it beggars description.
|a person with a bad reputation
|He is considered the black sheep of his family, always getting into trouble.
|have a good chance
|She bids fair to win the competition with her exceptional talent.
|an influential person
|He is a big gun in the music industry, with many successful albums.
|Birds of a feather
|people with similar interests
|They are birds of a feather, both passionate about environmental conservation.
|Bolt from the blue
|a sudden and unexpected event
|The news of the company’s bankruptcy came as a bolt from the blue.
|Bone of contention
|a matter of disagreement
|The salary hike was the bone of contention between the employees and the management.
|a very close friend
|My childhood friend is my bosom friend; we share everything.
|someone who loves to read books
|She is a bookworm who can spend hours reading.
|Bide one’s time
|wait patiently for the right opportunity
|He is biding his time to launch his startup until the market conditions are favourable.
|to a great extent
|This is by far the best pizza I have ever had.
|By and large
|By and large, the students were satisfied with the course content.
|By leaps and bounds
|The company’s revenue has been growing by leaps and bounds since it launched the new product line.
|By the by
|By the by, did you hear about the new store opening in town?
|an issue that needs immediate attention
|Climate change is the burning question of our time.
|I found my lost ring by chance while cleaning the house.
|By all means
|By all means, you should pursue your dream career.
|By and by
|By and by, he will learn how to speak English fluently.
|Build castles in the air
|indulge in unrealistic dreams
|Instead of building castles in the air, let’s focus on our goals and work hard to achieve them.
|Breathe one’s last
|After a long battle with cancer, she breathed her last in the presence of her loved ones.
|Bring to light
|The investigation brought to light many irregularities in the company’s finances.
|By fits and starts
|He has been working on the project by fits and starts, without a proper plan.
|By no means
|By no means should you compromise on your principles.
|Bring to book
|The corrupt officials must be brought to the book and punished for their crimes.
|By hook or by crook
|by any means necessary
|She was determined to win the competition by hook or by crook.
Use of C Idioms
|Call to mind
|I’m trying to call to mind where I put my keys.
|Call in question
|The evidence presented calls in question the suspect’s alibi.
|Call a spade a spade
|to speak the truth
|Let me call a spade a spade and tell you that you’re not doing your job well.
|Carry the day
|The home team carried the day with their last-minute goal.
|catch with the articles
|The police caught the thief red-handed with the stolen goods.
|Cats and dogs
|raining very heavily
|It’s been raining cats and dogs all day.
|Chip of the old block
|a worthy successor
|The CEO’s son is a chip off the old block and is just as capable as his father.
|Cock and bull story
|I don’t believe his cock and bull story about being abducted by aliens.
|The negative comments threw cold water on his idea.
|Come to light
|The truth about the scandal came to light after a journalist’s investigation.
|Come off with flying colours
|win a victory
|The team came off with flying colours in the championship game.
|There is a crying need for more affordable housing in the city.
|I don’t trust her crocodile tears, she’s just trying to manipulate us.
|gain through flattery
|She’s always trying to curry favour with the boss by complimenting him excessively.
Use of D Idioms
|strongly opposed to
|I’m dead against the proposal to build a highway through the national park.
|no longer in use as a spoken language
|Latin is a dead language but is still used in academic settings.
|Dead of night
|The burglars broke into the store at the dead of night.
|Die in harness
|die while working
|The burglars broke into the store in the dead of night.
|The political newcomer surprised everyone by winning the election, he was a real dark horse.
Use of E Idioms
|End in smoke
|fail to materialize
|The company’s plans to expand overseas ended in smoke due to lack of funding.
|Every now and then
|The company’s plans to expand overseas ended in smoke due to a lack of funding.
|manage to survive with difficulty
|The family was able to eke out a living by farming a small plot of land.
|She’s every inch a professional with her confident demeanour and attention to detail.
Use of F Idioms
|to fail completely or have no impact
|My joke fell flat and no one laughed.
|Fair and square
|done honestly or justly
|She won the competition fair and square, without cheating.
|very different from something
|The new restaurant is a far cry from the old one.
|Far and away
|by far or significantly
|She was far and away the best singer in the competition.
|Far and wide
|everywhere or over a wide area
|The news of the accident spread far and wide.
|Few and far between
|rare or scarce
|Good job opportunities are few and far between in this economy.
|to avoid or be hesitant about something
|I always fight shy of public speaking, as it makes me nervous.
|Fish out of water
|feeling uncomfortable in a new or unfamiliar situation
|Being the only vegetarian at the barbecue, she felt like a fish out of water.
|Fish in troubled water
|taking advantage of a difficult situation
|He tried to profit from the company’s financial troubles, like a fish in troubled water.
|Flesh and blood
|human or physical existence
|She was just flesh and blood, and couldn’t work 24/7 without getting tired.
|a false or unrealistic sense of happiness or security
|If you think you can get rich quick without any effort, you’re living in a fool’s paradise.
|permanently or forever
|She left the city for good and moved to the countryside.
|leaving without telling anyone or without permission
|He took French leave from the party early, without saying goodbye.
Use of G Idioms
|a special or festive occasion
|The wedding was a gala day, with lots of music, dancing, and food.
|Get rid of
|to remove or eliminate something unwanted
|He wanted to get rid of his old car and buy a new one.
|Gift of the gab
|a natural talent for speaking or persuading others
|As a politician, she had the gift of the gab and could charm voters with her speeches.
|Get by heart
|to memorize something
|In order to pass the exam, she had to get the formulas by heart.
|to collapse or break down
|The bridge gave way under the weight of the truck.
|Give one’s word
|to make a promise or give an assurance
|He gave his word that he would always be there to support her.
|Give birth to
|to have a baby
|The actress gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
|Gain the day
|to win or be victorious
|Despite the odds against them, the underdog team gained the day and won the championship.
|Go through fire and water
|to face and overcome great difficulties
|She was willing to go through fire and water to achieve her dream of becoming a doctor.
|Go without saying
|to be obvious or not need to be stated
|It goes without saying that he loves his family very much.
Use of H Idioms
|a narrow or close escape
|He had a hair-breadth escape from the burning building, just managing to get out in time
|Hard and fast
|strict or inflexible
|The company had hard and fast rules about working overtime and taking breaks.
|Hard nut to crack
|a difficult problem or challenge
|Finding a cure for cancer is a hard nut to crack, but scientists are working tirelessly to achieve it.
|Head and ears
|completely or deeply involved
|He was head and ears in love with her, unable to think of anything else.
|Head and shoulders
|much better or more superior
|The new restaurant was head and shoulders above the competition, with better food and service.
|Heart and soul
|with all energy
|She poured her heart and soul into her performance, impressing the judges.
|very difficult task
|Starting a new business from scratch is always a Herculean task.
|past the appropriate time
|It’s high time for him to apologize for his rude behaviour.
|be logically sound
|The theory presented by the scientist does not hold water and needs further research.
|The contract between the two parties will only hold good if both parties fulfil their obligations.
|Hue and cry
|a loud outcry or protest
|The citizens made a hue and cry against the government’s decision to raise taxes.
|money paid to keep someone quiet
|The politician offered hush money to the journalist to suppress a negative story.
Use of I Idioms
|In accordance with
|following or conforming to something.
|The team acted in accordance with the coach’s instructions.
|In a fix
|in a difficult situation
|After losing his job, he found himself in a fix and unable to pay his rent.
|In fine, I believe we should all work together to achieve our goals.
|In full swing
|actively happening with enthusiasm
|The party was in full swing when we arrived.
|In good stead
|Her experience as a teacher stood her in good stead when she became a principal.
|In keeping with
|His actions were not in keeping with his promises.
|In order to
|with the aim of doing something
|He enrolled in a business school in order to learn about entrepreneurship.
|In lieu of
|Can you please give me a voucher in lieu of a refund?
|In black and white
|We need to have the contract in black and white before we proceed.
|In cold blood
|done intentionally and without emotion
|The murder was committed in cold blood and shocked the community.
|In no time
|very quickly or soon
|With the right tools, we can finish the job in no time.
|In the face
|despite or in defiance of something
|She stood up to the bully in the face of danger.
|In the good books
|in favour with someone
|After completing her project on time, she was in the good books of her boss.
|In the nick of time
|just in time
|The ambulance arrived in the nick of time to save the patient’s life.
|In the twinkling of an eye
|The food disappeared in the twinkling of an eye when the children came home hungry.
|In the long run
|In the long run, exercise and healthy eating habits will benefit your health.
|In the teeth of
|despite strong opposition
|The team won the championship in the teeth of strong opposition.
|In the meantime
|during the time between two events
|I’ll be busy this afternoon. In the meantime, could you help me with this task?
|Ins and outs
|all the details
|Before making a decision, we need to know all the ins and outs of the proposal.
|This style of clothing is currently in vogue among teenagers.
|active or effective
|The new is in force now.
|In a nutshell
|briefly summarizing something.
|In a nutshell, the company’s profits have been declining for the past year.
Use of J Idioms
|a repeat criminal
|The detective recognized the suspect as a jail bird who had been in and out of prison for years.
|Jack of all trades
|skilled in many areas
|He’s a jack of all trades and can fix anything around the house.
|a biased attitude
|The employer viewed all candidates with a jaundiced eye, assuming they were all unqualified.
|jot or little
|the smallest amount
|He didn’t know even a jot or little about the subject.
Use of K Idioms
|Kith and kin
|near and dear ones
|She prefers to spend time with her kith and kin.
|Keep late hours
|work diligently through the night
|The software developers kept late hours to finish the project before the deadline.
|Keep pace with
|match the speed of
|He had to run faster to keep pace with his athletic friend.
|engage in leisurely activities
|She watched TV to kill time before her flight.
|Keep the wolf from the door
|manage to survive financially
|Her part-time job helped her keep the wolf from the door.
|Kill two birds with one stone
|achieve two things in one stroke
|She listened to an audiobook while doing house chores, killing two birds with one stone.
|Know no bounds
|The love a mother has for her child knows no bounds.
|Knock at the door
|announce arrival or opportunity
|A new opportunity was knocking at his door, and he had to decide whether to take it or not.
Use of L Idioms
|His explanation for the late submission of the report was a lame excuse.
|object of amusement
|His clumsy dancing made him the laughingstock of the party.
|Leave in the lurch
|abandon in a difficult situation
|He left his teammate in the lurch by not showing up for the match.
|Leave no stone unturned
|exhaust all possible options
|She left no stone unturned in her search for a new job.
|the major part
|The CEO took the lion’s share of the company’s profits.
|Loaves and fishes
|He volunteers at the shelter not for the loaves and fishes, but to give back to the community.
|Last but not the least
|last but equally important
|The team was comprised of excellent players, but last but not least, the coach was also a key player in their success.
|Lay heads together
|The team needed to lay their heads together to come up with a winning strategy.
|Lead a cat and dog life
|have a tumultuous relationship
|The couple had been leading a cat and dog life for years, but they still loved each other.
|Long and short
|The long and short of the matter is that we need to increase our sales revenue.
Use of M Idioms
|Make both ends meet
|They had to make both ends meet after losing their jobs.
|fulfil a promise
|He promised to make good on his word and return the borrowed money.
|first public address
|The newly elected representative gave her maiden speech at the town hall.
|Man of letters
|The Nobel laureate was not just a scientist but also a man of letters.
|Man of straw
|an insignificant person
|The small-time crook was a man of straw compared to the big-time criminals.
|an irrelevant matter
|Whether or not to have dessert after dinner is a moot point when you’re on a diet.
|Make up one’s mind
|come to a decision
|She couldn’t make up her mind about which dress to wear to the party.
|Man in the street
|the average person
|The politician’s speech was meant to appeal to the man in the street rather than the elite.
|More or less
|approximately, not exact
|The cake recipe called for two cups of sugar, but I used more or less depending on my taste.
|to take a risk or do something courageous
|He made bold to propose to his girlfriend in front of a large crowd.
Use of N Idioms
|Now and then
|I only indulge in sweets now and then, as I am trying to eat healthier.
|Null and void
|having no legal or binding effect
|The contract became null and void when one of the parties breached the terms.
|a close call or lucky avoidance of danger
|I had a narrow escape from a car accident yesterday.
|Nip in the bud
|to stop something at an early stage
|The company nipped the security breach in the bud before any sensitive information was compromised.
|Now or never
|urgent and decisive action must be taken
|It’s now or never to apply for the dream job before the deadline passes.
|Near at hand
|close or imminent
|The deadline for the project is near at hand and we need to speed up the work.
Use of O Idioms
|recently or lately
|Of late, I have been experiencing a lack of motivation towards my work.
|expressing agreement or certainty
|Of course, I will attend your graduation ceremony.
|Off and on
|intermittently or irregularly
|I have been practising yoga off and on for the past year.
|On the brink of
|on the edge of a significant change or event
|The company is on the brink of bankruptcy due to the economic downturn.
|On the contrary
|expressing the opposite view or opinion
|I do not agree with your assessment. On the contrary, I think the project was a huge success.
|On the eve of
|just before a significant event or occasion
|The city was buzzing with excitement on the eve of the New Year’s celebration.
|On the wane
|decreasing or declining
|The popularity of the singer is on the wane after the release of their latest album.
|On the whole
|considering all aspects or factors
|On the whole, I think the team did well in the competition.
|Out of date
|outdated or old-fashioned
|The fashion trend from last year is now out of date.
|Out of doors
|outside or in the open air
|We decided to have a picnic out of doors to enjoy the beautiful weather.
|Out of sorts
|feeling unwell or not oneself
|I am feeling out of sorts today and may need to take a sick day.
|Out of order
|not functioning or broken
|The elevator is out of order and we need to take the stairs.
|Out of temper
|in a bad mood or irritable
|The boss was out of his temper today due to the delays in the project.
|Out of the wood
|no longer in a difficult or dangerous situation
|The patient is out of the woods and is expected to make a full recovery.
|Out and out
|completely or thoroughly
|The team played an out and out aggressive game.
Use of P Idioms
|a period of prosperity and success
|The company enjoyed its palmy days during the economic boom of the early 2000s.
|Part and parcel
|an essential and inseparable part of something
|Long working hours are part and parcel of the job.
|Pros and cons
|the advantages and disadvantages of a situation
|Before making a decision, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of the options.
|Pick a quarrel
|intentionally start an argument or fight
|I could tell he was trying to pick a quarrel with me, but I refused to engage.
|easy or smooth going
|The project was plain sailing, thanks to the efficient team management.
|Play ducks and drakes
|waste or squander something valuable
|Don’t play ducks and drakes with your money if you want to save for a secure future.
|Play a double game
|to engage in deceitful behaviour or to have conflicting loyalties
|He was playing a double game by pretending to be friends with both sides in the political dispute.
|Play hide and seek
|The suspect is playing hide and seek with the police.
|I asked him point-blank if he was cheating on me and he didn’t deny it.
|Provide for a rainy day
|to prepare for unforeseen circumstances
|It’s always a good idea to save money and provide for a rainy day in case of unexpected expenses.
|Pure and simple
|plain and straightforward
|His answer was a lie, pure and simple, and he got caught.
Use of R Idioms
|Rank and file
|The management should listen to the opinions of the rank and file of the company.
|The red tape in the government system is causing delays in the implementation of policies.
|Winning the championship was a red-letter day for the team.
|caught in the act
|The robbers were caught red-handed by the police.
|Root and branch
|The government needs to uproot corruption root and branch from the country.
|Right and left
|in all directions
|The storm was blowing things right and left, causing a lot of damage.
|Run into debt
|He kept spending money on unnecessary things and ran into debt.
Use of S Idioms
|Salt of the earth
|a good and honest person
|My grandfather was the salt of the earth, always helping others in need.
|release from captivity
|The animal was set free into the wild after rehabilitation.
|a positive aspect in a negative situation
|a positive aspect of a negative situation
|someone who is slow to act
|He was a slow coach in submitting his assignment and got a low grade.
|unimportant or insignificant people
|He dismissed the criticism of small fry who didn’t understand the complexities of the issue.
|Smell a rat
|sense something suspicious
|I smell a rat in his story about why he was late for the meeting.
|Slip of the pen
|an unintentional mistake in writing
|The writer made a slip of the pen, misspelling the name of the protagonist.
|Slip of the tongue
|an unintentional mistake in speaking
|She made a slip of the tongue, accidentally revealing the surprise party.
|fair and honest treatment
|The company offered a square deal to all its employees, ensuring equal opportunities and fair wages.
|a substantial and satisfying meal
|After a long day of work, he enjoyed a square meal of steak and potatoes.
|Stand in the way of
|obstruct or hinder
|Procrastination can stand in the way of achieving success.
|Steer clear of
|avoiding or keeping away from
|To maintain good health, it’s important to steer clear of junk food.
|a short distance away
|The grocery store was just a stone’s throw from his apartment.
|Storm in a teacup
|an overreaction to a small issue
|The argument was just a storm in a teacup, and they soon made up.
Use of T Idioms
|to gain confidence
|After a string of rejections, he took heart and continued to pursue his dream of becoming an actor.
|Take to heart
|to take something personally
|She took his criticism of her artwork to heart and felt discouraged.
|Take to one’s heels
|to flee quickly
|The children took to their heels when they saw the neighbourhood dog chasing them.
|The meeting is scheduled to take place next Tuesday.
|Take into account
|to consider as important
|When planning a vacation, it’s important to take into account the budget and time available.
|basic literacy skills
|Many schools in underdeveloped countries focus on teaching the three R’s.
|To and fro
|back and forth
|She paced to and fro in her office, trying to come up with a solution to the problem.
|Take to task
|to criticize or reprimand
|The boss took the employee to task for consistently arriving late to work.
|Tooth and nail
|strongly/ with fiercely
|The protesters fought tooth and nail against the government’s decision.
|Through thick and thin
|to remain loyal through all difficulties
|My best friend has always stood by me through thick and thin.
|To a T
|This job suits him to a T.
|To the backbone
|She is a feminist to the backbone and fights for women’s rights.
|To the letter
|The chef followed the recipe to the letter to ensure that the dish was perfect.
|To the contrary
|to express the opposite opinion
|Despite what many people believe, to the contrary, cats can be trained.
|The company had to turn down several applicants due to a lack of experience.
|a critical moment
|Graduating from college was a turning point in her life, as it marked the beginning of her career.
Use of U Idioms
|Under the thumb
|to be controlled by someone
|She realized that she was under the thumb of her overbearing boss.
|Up and doing
|to be active and energetic
|If you want to succeed in life, you must be up and doing.
|Ups and downs
|the highs and lows of life
|Marriage is a journey with its ups and downs.
|not yet of legal age
|He couldn’t join the army because he was still under age.
|Under lock and key
|to be securely locked away
|The jewelry was kept under lock and key in a safe.
|to be reviewed or evaluated
|The proposal is still under consideration by the board of directors.
|Under the circumstances
|considering the situation
|Under the circumstances, it’s best to postpone the event.
|Under one’s nose
|happening in front of someone without their knowledge
|The thief stole the purse right under the woman’s nose.
|Up and down
|hither and thither
|The waves of the ocean were moving up and down.
|current and modern
|It’s important to keep your skills up-to-date in today’s rapidly changing job market.
Use of V Idioms
|a complex and much-debated issue
|Climate change remains a vexed question among policymakers.
Use of W Idioms
|Wild goose chase
|an unsuccessful pursuit
|Searching for the lost ring in the park proved to be a wild goose chase.
|an expensive and unprofitable possession
|The luxurious yacht he bought turned out to be a white elephant.
|Weal and woe
|both joy and sorrow in life
|The couple had experienced their fair share of weal and woe during their long marriage.
|a small but meaningful contribution
|The donation of a single dollar may seem small, but it can be a widow’s mite to someone in need.
|With an eye
|with a specific goal in mind
|He invested his money with an eye towards retirement.
|With a grain of salt
|to be cautious and skeptical
|to be cautious and sceptical
|With a view to
|with the intention of
|She enrolled in college with a view to pursuing a career in medicine.
|Without rhyme or reason
|with no apparent cause or explanation
|The sudden decision to cancel the event was without rhyme or reason.
|Why and wherefore
|the reasons or explanations behind something
|The detective was determined to uncover the why and wherefore of the crime.
|Well and good
|satisfactory and acceptable
|It’s well and good that you want to help, but we need a more concrete plan.
Use of Y Idioms
|diligent and valuable work
|The volunteer organization provided yeoman’s service to the community after the natural disaster.
Use of Z Idioms
|Zenith of power
|the peak of one’s authority or influence
|The president’s approval ratings were at the zenith of power after his successful foreign policy initiative.