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English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions 


from:   'take the bull by the horns'   to:  'no room to swing a cat'

  • take the bull by the horns
    • To take the bull by the horns means that a person decides to act decisively in order to deal with a difficult situation or problem.
      "When the argument turned into a fight, the bar owner took the bull by the horns and called the police."

  • face like a bulldog chewing a wasp
    • To say that someone has a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp means that you find them very unattractive because they have a screwed-up ugly expression on their face.
      "Not only was he rude but he had a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp!"

  • social butterfly
    • A person who has a lot of friends and acquaintances and likes to flit from one social event to another is called a social butterfly.
      "Jessica is constantly out and about;  she's a real social butterfly."

  • (have) butterflies in your stomach
    • If you have butterflies in your stomach, you are feeling very nervous.
      "At the beginning of an exam, I always have butterflies in my stomach."

  • a cat in gloves catches no mice
    • This expression means that if you are too careful and polite, you may not obtain what you want.
      "Negotiate carefully, but remember : a cat in gloves catches no mice!"

  • a cat can look at a king
    • This expression means that nobody is so important that an ordinary person cannot look at or be curious about them.

  • a fat cat
    • This term is used to refer to a rich, powerful, self-satisfied person who uses their money and power in a way that you disapprove of.
      "The place was full of fat cats on their big yachts."

  • grin like a Cheshire cat
    • When someone has a smile on their face because they are happy or satisfied about something, they grin like a Cheshire cat.
      "I knew she had succeeded when I saw her with a grin like a Cheshire cat."

  • like herding cats
    • This expression refers to the difficulty of coordinating a situation which involves people who all want to act independently.
      "Trying to manage a group of people from different countries is like herding cats!"

  • let the cat out of the bag
    • If you let the cat out of the bag, you reveal a secret, often unintentionally.
      "When the child told her grandmother about the plans for her 70th birthday, she let the cat out of the bag.  It was supposed to be a secret!"

  • like a cat on hot bricks
    • A person who is like a cat on hot bricks is very nervous or restless.
      "The week before the results were published, she was like a cat on hot bricks."

  • like a scalded cat
    • If something or something moves like a scalded cat, they move very fast, usually because they are frightened or shocked.
      "As soon as he saw the policeman, he ran off like a scalded cat."

  • like the cat that ate the canary
    • If, after an achievement or success, a person appears very self-satisfied or pleased with themselves, you can say that they look like the cat that ate the canary.
      "When the boss complimented him on his work, Steve looked like the cat that ate the canary."

  • like something the cat dragged in
    • If you compare a person or thing to something the cat dragged in, you think they they look dirty, untidy or generally unappealing.
      "My teenage son often looks like something the cat dragged in!"

  • like cat and dog
    • Two people who fight or argue like cat and dog frequently have violent arguments, even though they are fond of each other.
      "They fight like cat and dog but they're still together after 30 years."

  • no room/not enough room to swing a cat.
    • This expression is used to describe a place or a space that is very small.
      "We can't sleep in this room. There's no room to swing a cat here!"

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