English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Alphabetical List of Idioms - A
|abbreviated piece of nothing||This slang
expression refers to someone who is
considered to be insignificant or worthless.
Bob doesn't think much of his new colleague. He calls him an 'abbreviated piece of nothing'.
|to the best of one's ability.||When
someone does something
to the best of their ability, they
do it as well as they possibly can.
I felt nervous all through the interview, but I replied to the best of my ability.
|(of) no fixed abode||A person of no
fixed abode has nowhere permanent to
A 30-year-old man of no fixed abode was charged with the burglary.
|about turn/about face||This term refers to
a complete change of opinion or policy.
The ambassador's recent declarations indicate an about turn in foreign policy.
|above and beyond the call of duty||If a person does
something which is
above and beyond the call of duty, they
show a greater degree of courage or effort
than is usually required or expected in
The fire-fighter received a medal for his action which went above and beyond the call of duty.
|above board||If a situation or
business is described as above board,
it is open, honest and legal.
There are not secret negotiations. Our dealings have always been above board.
|more by accident than by design||Something that
happens more by accident than (by)
design is done without deliberate
I became an interpreter more by accident than design; nobody else could speak the language of the refugees.
|accidentally on purpose||If you do something
intentionally, but pretend it was an
accident, you do it accidentally on
I accidentally-on-purpose erased his email address so I couldn't contact him again.
|an accomplished fact (also 'fait accompli')||Something that has been done or completed, before those affected by it can intervene or change it, is called an accomplished fact.|
|of your own accord||If you do something of your own
accord, you do it spontaneously or
willingly, without being influenced or
forced by anyone.
The boy went to see the owner of his own accord and admitted breaking the window.
|no accounting for taste||This expression is
used to indicate surprise at another
person's likes or dislikes.
She fell in love with a guy who is short, fat, bald and poor ... there's no accounting for taste!
|ace a test||If you obtain a
very high score or an excellent result, you
ace a test or exam.
Maria's parents said she could go to the party if she aced her English test.
|have an ace up your sleeve||If you have an
ace up your sleeve, you have something
in reserve with which you can gain an
I'm well prepared for the negotiations. I've got an ace up my sleeve.
|hold all the aces||A person who
holds all the aces is in a very strong
position because they have more advantages
than anyone else.
Given the high unemployment figures in some countries, employers hold all the aces.
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