English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Alphabetical List - K
|a kickback||This expression
refers to money paid illegally for
The property developers were accused of giving kickbacks to the local authorities.
|kill two birds with one stone||If you kill two
birds with one stone, you succeed
in doing two things at the same time.
By studying on the train on the way home, Claire kills two birds with one stone.
|kill with kindness||When you are
excessive in your efforts to be helpful or
generous, you can harm someone, or kill
them with kindness.
The children are overweight, but their grandmother continues to give them chocolates and cookies - she'll kill them with kindness!
|kindred spirit||People who have a
lot in common and share the same beliefs,
attitudes and feelings are kindred
The immediately felt they were kindred spirits and became close friends.
|kiss goodbye to something||If you accept as
certain that you will not get something
that you want, you kiss (or
say) goodbye to it.
There will be no bonus this year, so I can kiss goodbye to that car I wanted!
|on its knees||When something such
as a country or organisation is on its
knees, or brought to its knees,
it is in a very weak situation.
The civil war brought the country to its knees.
|knee-high to a grasshopper||This term refers to
a very young or small child.
Look how tall you are! Last time I saw you, you were knee-high to a grasshopper!
|knickers in a twist||If you get your
knickers in a twist, you are angry,
nervous or upset faced with a difficult
Don't get your knickers in a twist! Everything is under control.
|knock sense into||When you knock
sense into somebody, you use strong
words or methods in order to get that person
to stop behaving stupidly.
When Jason announced that he was going to drop out of college, his uncle managed to knock some sense into him.
|knock your socks off||If something amazes
you, or impresses you greatly, it knocks
your socks off.
The magnitude of the project will knock the socks off everyone in the office.
|knock down with feather||To say 'you
could have knocked me down with a feather'
emphasizes the fact that you were extremely
When I heard the name of the winner, you could have knocked me down with a feather!
|know someone inside out||If you know
someone inside out, you know them very
Sue and Anne have been friends since childhood. They know each other inside out.
|know the score||When you know
the score, you are well-informed about
a situation and know what to expect.
If Laura damages the car, her dad won't lend it to her again. She knows the score.
|know your own mind||If you know
your own mind, you know what you want
or like, and are capable of making a
I don't want to influence you. You're old enough to know your own mind.
|know which side your bread is buttered||If you know
which side your bread is buttered, you
know where your interests lie or what will
be to your advantage.
Jack never argues with his father-in-law. He knows which side his bread is buttered.
|know which way the wind is blowing||This expression
means that it is advisable to know how a
situation is developing in order to be
prepared for any changes.
Before we decide on anything, we need to know which way the wind is blowing.
|knuckle down to||If someone
knuckles down to something, they start
to work on it seriously.
If you want to succeed, you'll have to knuckle down to some serious work.
|kowtow to someone||If you are very
respectful and submissive, giving way to the
wishes of a person or organisation in
authority in order to please them, you
kowtow to them.
Mark refused to kowtow to the committee and decided to work as a consultant.
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