English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Alphabetical List - W
|walking on air||When you are happy and excited because
of a pleasant event that makes you feel as
if you are floating, you are walking on
Sophie has been walking on air since her painting won the first prize.
|walking encyclopaedia||This term refers to a person who is very
knowledgeable about a lot of subjects.
The origin of Halloween? Ask Jill - she's a walking encyclopaedia!
|walking papers||If you are given your walking
your contract or a relationship has ended.
After causing a diplomatic incident, Carter got his walking papers.
|want head on a platter||If someone makes
you so angry that you want them to be
punished, you want their head on a
He was so angry when he read the article about his family that he wanted the journalist's head on a platter.
|in/through the wars||If a person or
thing has been in (or through) the wars,
they show signs of rough treatment, injury
He arrived in a car that looked as if it had been in the wars.
|watch one's step||If you tell someone
to watch their step, you are
advising them to be careful how they behave
in order to avoid getting into trouble.
There is zero tolerance in this school for bad behaviour, so watch your step!
|watch like a hawk||If you watch
someone like a hawk, you keep your eyes
on them or watch them very carefully.
Sarah watches the children like a hawk when she takes them swimming.
|of the first water||Something that is
of the first water is of the finest
or most exceptional quality (like being
compared to a diamond).
The violinist gave a performance that was of the first water.
|in hot water||To say that
somebody is in hot water means that
they have done something wrong and people
are angry with them.
Simon has been in hot water since his boss discovered that he had been using the internet for personal purposes.
|(not) hold water||If an explanation
or argument does not hold water, it
does not stand up to critical examination
and can be shown to be unfounded.
The reasons given for the government's new measures just do not hold water.
|water down||If you water
down something such as a report,
declaration or proposal, you try to make it
weaker or less likely to cause anger.
When announcing the rejection of the proposal, he tried to water down the committee's negative comments.
|water off a duck's back||Criticism or
comments which have no effect on someone is
referred to as being ''like water off a
He's been warned of the dangers of smoking but it's like water off a duck's back.
|water under the bridge||If something
difficult or unpleasant took place in the
past but is no longer important, it is
referred to as water under the bridge.
They had a serious disagreement in the past, but that's water under the bridge today.
|wave a dead chicken||When faced with a
serious problem, if you take steps that you
know in advance will be futile, to show that
you made an effort,
you wave a dead chicken.
The TV set was permanently damaged, but the technician decided to wave a dead chicken to satisfy the old lady before announcing the bad news.
|same wavelength||If you are on
the same wavelength
as someone else, you feel or think the same way
We rarely argue. We're generally on the same wavelength.
|wax lyrical||When you wax
lyrical about something, you speak
enthusiastically about it in a poetic or
My grandfather and his friends started to wax lyrical about the 'good old days'.
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