English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Alphabetical List of Idioms - C
|in cahoots with someone||If one person is
in cahoots with another, they are
working in close partnership, usually
conspiring to do something dishonest.
There was a rumour that the Mayor was in cahoots with a chain of supermarkets.
|piece of cake||
To refer to something as a piece of cake
means that you consider it to be very
The English test was a piece of cake!
|slice/share of the cake||When people feel entitled to a share of
the profits or benefits, they want a
(larger) slice of the cake.
Since profits are higher this year, the workers feel they deserve a bigger slice of the cake.
|have your cake and eat it||To say that someone wants to have
their cake and eat it means that they
want the advantages of two alternative
situations when only one is possible.
Jack enjoys his comfort but is always complaining about the cost of things. He can't have his cake and eat it.
|sell like hot cakes||Things that sell like hot cakes
sell quickly or in large quantities.
Her books always sell like hot cakes.
|cake/game is not worth the candle||To say that the cake (or the
game) is not worth the candle means
that the advantages to be gained from doing
something are not worth the effort involved.
He recorded an album but sold very few copies; the cake wasn't worth the candle.
|calculated risk||A calculated risk is a risk
taken with full knowledge of the dangers
The company took a calculated risk when they hired Sean straight out of college.
|call someone's bluff||If you call someone's bluff,
you challenge them to do what they threaten
to do (while believing that they will not
dare to do it).
After the neighbour's threats to demolish the fence, when Jack decided to call his bluff, there were no more complaints.
|call it quits||When people temporarily stop doing
something or put an end to an activity, they
call it quits.
OK, we're all exhausted, so let's call it quits for today.
|call a spade a spade||A person who calls a spade a spade
speaks openly and truthfully about
something, especially difficult matters.
What I like about the new manager is that he calls a spade a spade - it makes things so much easier for everyone.
|call the shots/ the tune||The person who calls the shots
or the tune
is the one who makes all the important
decisions and is in control of the
He shows a lot of authority but in fact it's his wife who calls the tune.
|can of worms||To describe a situation as a can of
worms means that it is complicated,
unpleasant and difficult to deal with.
The discovery of the transfer of funds turned out to be a real can of worms.
|burn the candle at both ends||If you burn the candle at both ends,
you exhaust yourself by doing too much,
especially going to bed late and getting up
Scott looks exhausted - I'll bet he's been burning the candle at both ends lately.
|can't hold a candle to||If one person can't hold a candle
to another, they are much less competent or
do not perform as well as the other.
John is very intelligent but he can't hold a candle to his brother Paul when it comes to sports.