English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Alphabetical List - S
|sell down the river||If you sell
someone down the river, you betray a
person who trusts you.
When the trade union signed the salary agreement, the workers felt they had been sold down the river.
|sell ice to Eskimos||
This expression is used to describe a person who has
to persuade someone to accept something totally unnecessary or useless.
It's not surprising he was named 'salesman of the year'. He could sell
ice to Eskimos!
|sell your soul||This is a humorous
way of saying that you would be willing to
do something morally or legally wrong to
obtain what you want.
He'd sell his soul to get an interview.
|send about one's business||If you tell
someone, in an irritated or unfriendly way,
to go away,
you send them about their business.
An insurance company representative keeps calling on my mother,
but I told her to send him about his business.
|send packing||If you send
someone packing, you tell them to
leave, in a very forceful and unfriendly
When Amanda discovered that Jack was unfaithful, she sent him packing.
|send a shiver down your spine||If something
sends a shiver down your spine, it
makes you feel anxious, nervous or excited.
The song always sends a shiver down my spine!
|send up a trial balloon||
If you test something such as an idea, a
project or a product, to see how people
respond to it, you send up a trial
The idea seemed excellent but when they sent up a trial balloon the reaction was very negative.
|senior moment||A momentary lapse
of memory, especially in older people, or an
absent-minded action such as putting the
cereals in the refrigerator,
is humorously referred to as having a senior moment.
I found the phone in the cupboard. I must have had a senior moment!
|separate sheep from goats||If you separate
the sheep from the goats, you examine a
group of people and decide which are
suitable and which are not.
Examining job applications is the first stage in separating the sheep from the goats.
|set you back||The sum of money
something sets you back is the
amount it costs you.
Changing the heating system will set us back about $5000.
|set in one's ways||A person who is
set in their ways is unable or
unwilling to change their ideas, habits or
methods, often because they are old.
My grandmother has the same routine every day. She is very set in her ways.
|set great store by||When you consider
something to be very important or valuable,
you set great store by it.
The company sets great store by its after-sales service.
|set the records straight||If you set the
records straight, you provide facts or
to correct a mistake or misunderstanding.
An interview on television enabled the actress to set the records straight about her health.
|set in stone||When something is
set in stone, it is permanent and
cannot be changed in any way.
The agenda isn't set in stone; we can add an item if need be.
|set the stage||If you set the
stage for an event or a development,
you create conditions that allow it to
The agreement set the stage for their future working relationship.
|settle a score||To settle a
score is to retaliate against someone
or take revenge
for a past wrong.
James has made an appointment with his lawyer - he has a score to settle with someone.
|seventh heaven||If you are in seventh heaven,
you are extremely happy.
Every time she wins a match, she's in seventh heaven!
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