English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Alphabetical List - W
|know which way wind blows||This expression
means that it is advisable to know how a
situation is developing, or what the
tendency is, in order to be prepared for any
Before we decide on anything, we need to know which way the wind is blowing.
|wind/wound up||If someone is so
excited that they talk non-stop, they are
Claire had so much to tell us after her trip that she was wound up.
|window on the world||When something
provides an opportunity to observe and learn
about people and life in other countries, it
is called a window on the world.
The internet has become a window on the world.
window shopping, they look at things in
shop windows, without actually purchasing
I haven't been paid yet, so I can only go window shopping.
|go out the window||If a quality,
principle or opportunity goes out the
window, it disappears, is lost or is
When the plant closed down, all hopes of finding a job went out the window.
|can't put new wine in old bottles||This expression
means that you should not try to combine new
concepts or innovations with an old or
long-established framework or system.
You'll never get that program to work on your father's old computer. You can't put new wine in old bottles!
|wing it||To wing it
means to improvise or to deal with a
situation without preparation.
She didn't expect to be interviewed so she just had to wing it.
|take under your wing||If you offer
guidance and protection to someone younger
or less experienced, you take them under
I owe a lot to Tom who took me under his wing when I first arrived.
|(not a) wink of sleep||If someone
doesn't get a wink of sleep, they don't
sleep a all.
It was so noisy in the hotel, I didn't get a wink of sleep.
|winning ways||A person who has
winning ways has a charming or
persuasive manner of gaining the affection
of others or obtaining what they want.
My grandson is hard to resist - he's got such winning ways.
|wipe the slate clean||If you wipe the
slate clean, you make a fresh start and
forget all past offences, disagreements or
When their father died, Bob and his brother decided to wipe the slate clean and forget the old family quarrels.
|wipe that smile off||This expression is
often used by parents or people in authority
to indicate that the situation is not
amusing at all.
This is a very serious matter, so wipe that smile off your face!
|get wires crossed||If people get
their wires crossed, they misunderstand
each other or are confused about what was
We must have got our wires crossed. I thought we were to meet at the hotel.
|wise after the event||When someone
realizes, after something has happened, what
could have been done to prevent it from
happening, they are wise after the
In retrospect, I suppose I should have realized the boy was in difficulty and offered to help, but it's easy to be wise after the event.
wise for one's years
wise beyond your years
|Someone who is
wise for their years or wise beyond
their years has more knowledge and
experience that most people at their age.
She's still a child but she's wise beyond her years.
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