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English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions


Descriptions of people

(personality - character - appearance)

(Idioms page 1:  abbreviated →  butter)

abbreviated piece of nothing This slang expression refers to someone who is considered to be insignificant or worthless.
Bob doesn't think much of his new colleague. He calls him an 'abbreviated piece of nothing'.
all brawn and no brain Someone who is physically very strong but not very intelligent is said to be all brawn and no brain.
He's an impressive player to watch, but he's all brawn and no brain.
all sizzle and no steak Someone who turns out to be disappointing, after a promotional campaign which led us to expect something better, is called all sizzle and no steak.
Because of the electoral promises he made, which so far he has failed to keep, many people call the new president 'all sizzle and no steak'.
all things to all people If you are all things to all people, you please or satisfy everyone.
She's exhausted tying to be a good wife,  a good mother and a good teacher,  but she can't be all things to all people.
alter ego The term alter ego, which in Latin means 'other self', refers to a very close and trusted friend who is very like yourself.
apple of your eye A person, usually a child, who is the apple of your eye is one for whom you have great affection.
My grandson is the apple of my eye.
armchair critic An armchair critic is someone who gives advice based on theory rather than practice.
That guy is such an armchair critic - no experience but plenty of advice. 
armchair traveller Someone who reads books or watches TV programmes about other places and countries, but doesn't actually travel anywhere, is called an armchair traveller.
 A surprising number of adventure books are bought by armchair travellers. 
bad egg Someone who is a bad egg is an untrustworthy person often involved in trouble whose company should be avoided.
I don't want my son to be friends with Bobby Smith.  Bobby's a bad egg.
behind the times A person who is behind the times has old-fashioned ideas and does not keep up with modern life in general.
Jane doesn't have a mobile phone.  She's completely behind the times.
big cheese This expression refers to a person who has a lot of power and influence in an organisation.
Tom's father is a big cheese in the oil industry.
big fish in a small pond This term refers to an important or highly-ranked person in a small group or organisation.
He could get a job with a big company but he enjoys being a big fish in a small pond.
born with a silver spoon in one's mouth A person who is born with a silver spoon in their mouth is born into a very rich family.
She never has to worry about money; she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth.
butter wouldn't melt in your mouth If you say that someone looks as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouth, you mean that they look completely innocent, but that they are capable of doing unpleasant things.
The boy who stole the purse looked as if butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.
   
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