English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Alphabetical List of Idioms - N
|nailing jelly to the wall||To say that
something is like nailing jelly to the
wall means that it is extremely
difficult to do, if not impossible.
Keeping track of his movements is like nailing jelly to the wall.
|name is mud||
To say that a person's name is mud
means that they have acquired a bad
reputation because of something they have
done or said.
His name is mud now after the revelations in the newspaper.
|name (written) on it||If something has someone's name
(written) on it, it is intended for
that person or it is ideally suited to them.
That dress would be perfect for you - it's got your name on it!
|necessary evil||If you say that something is a
necessary evil, you don't like it but
you understand that it has to exist and be
Vaccinations are a necessary evil if you want to travel.
|neck and neck||In a contest or competition, when two
competitors reach the same level, they are
neck and neck, so it is impossible
to say who will win.
At the moment the two teams are neck and neck for the Word Cup.
|pain in the neck||If you call someone a pain in the
neck, you think they are very
irritating or annoying.
She's a pain in the neck the way she keeps complaining!
|stick one's neck out||If a person sticks their neck out,
they draw attention to themselves by saying
or doing something that others are afraid to
Julie stuck her neck out and said that the sales target would be impossible to reach without extra staff.
|needs must (when the devil drives)||The expression 'needs must (when the
devil drives)' means that you are
sometimes forced by circumstances to do
something that you do not want to do.
I'd rather stay with you than attend the conference, but needs must ...!
|needle in haystack||To refer to something as a needle in
a haystack means that it is very
difficult or impossible to find.
Finding a pub in Dublin without knowing its name is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
|neither fish nor fowl||People or things that are difficult to
classify because they are neither one thing
nor another are 'neither fish nor fowl'.
Interns are neither fish nor fowl. They are neither students nor fully qualified practitioners.
|neither here nor there||Something which is neither here nor
there is unimportant or irrelevant.
Why the problem wasn't discovered earlier is neither here nor there. What's important now is to find a solution.
|nerves of steel||Someone who has nerves of steel
is not afraid in difficult or dangerous
Fire-fighters need to have nerves of steel.
|get on one's nerves||If you get on someone's nerves,
you annoy or irritate them a great deal.
The children next door are so noisy they're getting on my nerves.
|nest egg||If you have a nest egg, you
have a reserve of money which you put aside
for future needs.
Our parents consider the money from the sale of their house as a nest egg for their old age.
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