English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Alphabetical List of Idioms - I
|in safe hands||If something is in
safe (or good) hands, it is being
looked after by a reliable person or
organisation and is therefore at no risk.
I'll look after Jamie while you go shopping. Don't worry, he'll be in safe hands.
|in seventh heaven||If you are in
seventh heaven, you are extremely
Every time she wins a match, she's in seventh heaven!
|in a stew||When someone is
in a stew about something, they are
worried and agitated.
When she was organizing the wedding reception, Laura got into a stew over the seating arrangements.
|in trouble with the law||If someone is
in trouble with the law, they are being
questioned by the police in connection with
something illegal or criminal.
The suspect has often been in trouble with the law.
|in the twinkling of an eye||This expression
means 'very fast' or 'instantaneously'.
Public opinion can change in the twinkling of an eye.
|in two shakes of a lamb's tail||To do something
in two shakes of a lamb's tail means to
do it very quickly or in a moment.
I'll be ready in two shakes of a lamb's tail.
|in vino veritas||This expression,
which in Latin means 'in wine there is
truth', is a way of saying that wine makes
people less inhibited and leads them to
speak more freely and reveal their true
After a few drinks he told us the whole story - in vino veritas!
|in words of one syllable||If you explain
something in words of one syllable,
you use very simple language.
Not so fast! Say that again in words of one syllable.
|ins and outs||The term
'ins and outs' of a situation means all
the details or facts.
I know he was involved in a car accident, but I don't know the ins and outs of his injuries.
|add insult to injury||To add insult
to injury means to make a bad situation
worse by harming or upsetting someone you
have already harmed in some other way.
Not only did he steal money from his best friend, he added insult to injury by damaging his car!
|iron fist/hand||This expression is
used to describe someone who, behind an
appearance of gentleness, is inflexible and
To impose the necessary reforms, the leader used persuasion followed by force - an iron fist in a velvet glove.
|irons in the fire||If you have a few,
or many, irons in the fire, you are
involved in several projects at the same
The travel agency is not his only venture - he's got more than one iron in the fire.
|itchy feet||A person who has
itchy feet is someone who finds it
difficult to stay in one place and likes to
travel and discover new places.
Andrew's got itchy feet again. He says he's going to teach in China for a few years.
|itching (or itchy) palm||Someone who has an
itching palm is greedy for money, for
example tips or commission (as if putting
money in the palm of their hand would ease
He's said to have an itching palm - he does nothing without payment!
|it's anyone's call||This expression is
used when the result of a contest or
election is difficult to predict.
"Who do you think will win?" "It's anyone's call."
|it's a small world||People use this
expression when they are surprised to meet
someone familiar in unexpected places.
Wow! It's a small world. I never expected to meet a neighbour on a transatlantic flight!
|it's no use crying over spilt milk||It is useless to
complain or have regrets about something
that is done and cannot be changed.
Sometimes I regret not accepting the offer, but it's no use crying over spilt milk.
|be an item||To say that two
people are an item means that they
are involved in a romantic relationship.
So Sally and Harry are an item, are they?
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