English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Alphabetical List of Idioms - B
|leave somebody holding the baby.||If someone is left holding the baby,
they are made responsible for a problem that
others don't want to deal with.
When the angry customer started to complain, my colleague disappeared and left me holding the baby.
This term refers to people who do important
work but have no contact with the public.
Back-room boys don't always receive the credit they deserve for their work.
|back-of-the-envelope calculation||This expression refers to a quick
approximate calculation done informally, as
on the back of an envelope.
I don't need the exact amount. Just give me a back-of-the-envelope calculation.
|back of beyond||An isolated place located far from any
town is said to be in the
back of beyond.
It took us hours to find Jack's house. He lives in the back of beyond.
|(like the) back of one's hand||If you know something like the back of
your hand, you are very familiar with it and
know it in detail.
Of course I won't get lost. I know London like the back of my hand!
|back into shape||To get yourself back into shape,
you need to take some exercise in order to
become fit and healthy again.
Eva decided she'd have to get back into shape before looking for a job.
|back on your feet||
If you are back on your feet, after
an illness or an accident, you are
physically healthy again.
My grandmother had a bad 'flu but she's back on her feet again.
|back to the salt mines||Saying that you have to go back to
the salt mines is a humorous way of
talking about returning to work, usually
with some reluctance.
We get two days off at Christmas and then it's back to the salt mines!
|back to square one||To say that someone is back to
square one means that they have not
succeeded in what they were trying to do, so
they have to start again.
When the plans were refused, it was 'back to square one' for the architect.
|back to the wall||If you have your back to the wall,
you are in serious difficulty.
With his back to the wall, the supplier had to accept the deal.
|back the wrong horse||If you back or bet on the wrong
horse, for example the loser in a
contest, match or election, you support the
When I voted for him I was convinced he would win, but I backed the wrong horse!
|backhanded compliment||A remark that appears to express
admiration but could also be interpreted as
an insult is called a
He said my presentation was "surprisingly clear". How's that for a backhanded compliment!
|backseat driver||A passenger in a car who gives unwanted
advice to the driver is called a
I can't stand backseat drivers like my mother-in-law!
|bad egg||Someone who is a bad egg is
an untrustworthy person often involved in trouble
whose company should be avoided.
I don't want my son to be friends with Bobby Smith. Bobby's a bad egg.
|bad hair day||Originating as a humorous comment about
one's hair being unmanageable, this term had
broadened to mean 'a day when everything
seems to go wrong'.
What's wrong with Jenny? Is she having a bad hair day?
|(in) bad shape||A person who is
in bad shape is in poor physical
I really am in bad shape. I must do more exercise.
|...back next ...|
alphabetical lists B ...
more alphabetical lists ...