English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Alphabetical List of Idioms - A
|upset the applecart||If you upset
(or overturn) the applecart, you
spoil a satisfactory plan or situation.
I hope Julie doesn't attend the meeting; she could upset the applecart.
|apple-pie order||If something is
in apple-pie order, it is well
organised or in perfect order.
They made sure the house was in apple-pie order before their parents arrived back home.
|apron strings||If one person is
tied to another's apron strings, they
remain dependent at an age when they should
All his decisions are influenced by his mother. He's still tied to her apron strings.
|argue the toss||If you argue
the toss, you dispute a decision or
choice which has already been made.
The final choice was made yesterday, so don't argue the toss now!
|arm of the law||This expression
refers to the extent to which the authority
or power of the law extends.
He fled to South America hoping to escape the arm of the law.
|give your right arm||If you say "Id give
my right arm for that", you mean that you
want it a lot and would do almost anything
to obtain it.
I'd give my right arm to have an apartment on Central Park.
|cost an arm and a leg||If something
costs an arm and a leg, it is very
The house cost us an arm and a leg, but we have no regrets.
|be up in arms||If you are up
, you are very angry about something and
protest very strongly.
The population was up in arms over the demolition of the old theatre.
|keep someone at arm's length||If you keep someone
at arm's length, you do not allow
yourself to become friendly with them.
It's not easy to become friends with Sophie; she tends to keep everyone at arm's length.
|armchair critic||An armchair
critic is someone who gives advice
based on theory rather than practice.
That guy is such an armchair critic - no experience but plenty of advice.
|armchair traveller||Someone who reads
books or watches TV programmes about other
places and countries, but doesn't actually
travel anywhere, is called an armchair
A surprising number of adventure books are bought by armchair travellers.
|asking for trouble||Someone who is
asking for trouble is behaving so
stupidly that he/she is likely to have
Driving fast on these roads is really asking for trouble!
|asleep at the wheel||If
you say that someone is
asleep at the wheel, you mean that
they are not sufficiently attentive,
especially at a critical moment when
vigilance is required.
When the firemen arrived too late at the scene, the night watchman was accused of being asleep at the wheel.
|at all costs||If you are
determined to obtain or achieve something
at all costs, you want it
regardless of the expense, effort or
The journalist was determined at all costs to get a report from the war zone.
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