English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Alphabetical List of Idioms - A
|Achilles heel||This expression
refers to a vulnerable area or a weak spot,
in an otherwise strong situation, that could
cause one's downfall or failure.
He's extremely intelligent, but his inability to speak in public is his Achilles heel.
|acid test||To refer to
something as' the acid test' means
that it will prove how effective or useful
The training course was very interesting but the acid test will come when I start my new job.
|Something that you
dislike when you first taste it, but begin
to like after trying it several times, is
an acquired taste.
Tony has always loved olives, but for me it was an acquired taste.
|act of God||This term refers to
an natural event or accident, for which no
person is responsible (such as an
earthquake, lightning and similar acts of
The insurance company refused to pay for the damage because it was caused by an act of God.
|get your act together||If you tell someone
to get their act together, you mean
that they need to organise their affairs
more effectively in order to be more
You'd better get your act together if you want to find a job!
|add fuel to the flames||If you add fuel
to the flames, you do or say something
that makes a difficult situation even worse.
He forgot their wedding anniversary, and his apologies only added fuel to the flames.
|much ado about nothing||When people
make much ado about nothing, they make
a lot of fuss about something which is not
There was a meeting to discuss the name for the new playground.
"Much ado about nothing" said my Dad!
|afraid of one's own shadow||A person who is afraid of his/her
own shadow is very nervous or easily
I've never seen anyone so easily scared. She's afraid of her own shadow!
|after the fact||If something is
done after the fact, it done too
late, after something has actually
happened, especially a crime or an accident.
He said he realized he had put people in danger, but that was of no help after the fact.
|against one's better judgement||If you do
something, even though you feel it is not a
sensible thing to do, you do it against
your better judgement.
Bob persuaded her to go by car, against her better judgement, and she regretted it as soon as she saw the heavy traffic.
|against the clock||If you do something
against the clock, you are rushed and
have very little time to do it.
They are working against the clock to have the presentation ready for Monday.
|ahead of the pack||If a person or
ahead of the pack, they are better
or more successful than their rivals.
Our products will have to be more innovative if we want to stay ahead of the pack.
set the alarm bells ringing /
alarm bells start to ring
|If something sets the alarm bells
ringing, it makes you begin to worry,
because it shows that there may be a
Alarm bells started to ring when the old lady next door didn't open her
shutters all day and didn't answer her phone.
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