English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Alphabetical List - D
|by degrees||If something
happens or develops by degrees, it
happens gradually or little by little as
time goes by.
By degrees their business relationship turned into friendship.
|deliver the goods||If a person
delivers the goods, they do what is
expected of them
or what they have promised to.
Let's hope that new whiz-kid the boss hired can deliver the goods!
|out of your depth||If you are out
of your depth, you are in a situation
which is too difficult for you, or which you
know little about.
She started building a website with little computer knowledge, so she was soon out of her depth and had to look for help.
|left to one's own devices||If you leave
someone to their own devices, you let
them look after themselves, without help or
When left to their own devices, many children watch TV and eat junk food.
|devil's advocate||During a discussion
or debate, if you play devil's advocate,
you pretend to be against an idea or plan in
order to determine the validity of the
arguments in favour of it.
She decided to play devil's advocate just to see how strongly people felt about the project.
|devil is in the details||This expression
refers to a task or a job which appears
simple but is in fact more difficult to
Framing a picture looks easy but the devil is in the details.
|devil makes hard work for idle hands||This expression
means that people who do not have enough to
do are often tempted to do something wrong.
It's not good for kids to have nothing to do at the week-end; the devil makes work for idle hands!
|devil take the hindmost||This expression
means that you should think of yourself and
not worry about other people.
When the boat capsized it was a case of 'the devil take the hindmost', but luckily they all survived.
|there'll be the devil to pay||This is a way of
announcing that there will be trouble if
Be careful. There'll be the devil to pay if you break anything!
|between the devil and the deep blue sea||If you are
between the devil and the deep blue sea,
you are in a situation where there are two
equally unacceptable alternatives.
When the new product didn't take off, the company was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea : abandon the product or start a new marketing campaign.
|speak of the devil!||This is said to
refer to a person who appears just when
his/her name is mentioned.
Speak of the devil! We were just talking about your invitation.
|dial it back||If you dial it
back, you reduce the intensity of
something, or tone
When Lucas started getting all excited, his mother said :
Hey Lucas, dial it back a bit!
|dice are loaded||If everything seems
to work to your disadvantage, and you are
not likely to succeed, the dice are
loaded against you.
I applied for the job, but being a woman, and over forty, the dice were loaded against me.
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