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English Idioms

Below you will find some of the many English idioms in use today. Click on one for the full story.
Image
Title
Meaning
 A15
Above board Legal and fair.
above the law not subject to the laws of a society.
Achilles heel a weakness that could result in failure.  
acid test, the An event or action which will tell if something is as good as it is claimed to be.
across the board for all without exception.
add fuel to the fire do something to make a bad situation even worse
against all odds If you do something against all odds, you do it even though there were many obstacles and it didnt seem possible to do.
all the rage If something is all the rage, its very popular or its in fashion at the moment.
an axe to grind have a strong opinion about a something and you want to express it
another string to your bow To have a backup plan in case of the first idea being a failure .
Armed to the teeth To be heavily armed.
around the clock Something happens all day and night.
asking for trouble when doing something risky that could cause a problem
at a loose end This is when you have nothing to do.
at sea youre baffled or not sure what to do.
 B19
back to square one back to the beginning
Back to the drawing board Back to the beginning of your plans
bad hair day When everything seems to be going wrong for you.
bag of tricks  Someones bag of tricks is their collection of techniques or methods for getting a job done or for achieving a goal  
baptism of fire very difficult or unpleasant first experience of something.
barking up the wrong tree Looking for something in the wrong place or doing the wrong thing
Beat around the bush Procrastinate, or not come to the point of what you are trying to say.
beat the rap to avoid being convicted of a certain crime while possibly being guilty
behind ones back Talking negatively about someone without them knowing
Bells and whistles The special, non-essential features of a product which make the product more attractive - looking.
beside the point when you say something that has nothing to do with the conversation or with the reason of something being done
Beyond the pale Unacceptable behaviour, outside normal acceptable standards of behaviour.
bite your tounge stoping yourself from saying whats on your mind
blessing in disguise when something appears to be bad at first but turns out to be a good thing in the end
Bold as brass With no shame or embarrassment, although someone else would feel shame or embarrassment.
bottom line, the The important result of an action.
Brass Monkey Weather Extremely cold
break the ice creating a more relaxed atmosphere when meeting new people
by the book strictly following the rules
 C6
call a spade a spade Being straightforward about something with no objections.  
call it a day Finishing something - usually referring to work.
cant see the forest for the trees when you cant see the whole situation because youre focusing on the little details or youre too involved
change your tune when you change your opinion on a certain matter or your attitude towards someone.
cold shoulder, the To not make someone feel welcome.
couch potato Someone who is very idle and they spend a lot of time sitting around watching TV and eating junk food.
 D2
dark horse, a Someone who is unexpectedly good at something.
dead as a door nail completely dead, with no chance of recovery.
 F1
fly off the handle suddenly get extremely angry.
 G5
Get out of the wrong side of bed. Be in a bad mood.
Get the sack Be dismissed from your job.
give ones right arm be prepared to go to great lengths to achieve something, see someone, do something etc.
Go against the grain To be different or act in a different way to which you feel is right.
Gordon Bennett! Wow, as in Im very surprised.
 H3
hair of the dog (that bit me) That you can cure your hangover by drinking some more of what made you drunk the night before.
Hold a candle doesnt even come close to being as good as another person or thing. (Always used in negative : Subj couldnt hold a candle to Obj)
Hold your horses stop, wait or consider carefully a decision or opinion about something
 I3
in the nick of time At the last possible moment, just before its too late.
In the pink Feeling very healthy.
In the red Owing money to the bank.
 J1
Jump on the bandwagon Do what everyone else is doing, or what is fashionable.
 K3
Keep your shirt on Keep calm.
Kick the bucket To die.
Kiss of death Something which seems like a blessing, but will in fact lead inevitably to disaster or failure.
 L2
last straw, the the last of a series of problems that cause something bad to happen.
Lock stock and barrel Everything. If you move, lock stock and barrel, it means you move completely and take everything with you.
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