English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Efficiency - Competence
|acid test||To refer to
something as' the acid test' means
that it will prove how effective or useful
The training course was very interesting but the acid test will come when I start my new job.
|(whole) bag of tricks||
If you use your (whole) bag of tricks to do
something, you try (all) the clever methods
you know in order to succeed.
Let's call on George and his bag of tricks; maybe he can help us solve the problem.
|on the ball||If you are on
the ball, you are aware of what is
happening and are able to deal with things
quickly and intelligently.
We need someone who is really on the ball to head the fund-raising campaign.
|to the best of one's ability||When someone does something
to the best of their ability, they
do it as well as they possibly can.
I felt nervous all through the interview, but I replied to the best of my ability.
|kill two birds with one stone||If you kill two birds with one
stone, you succeed in doing two things
at the same time.
By studying on the train on the way home, Claire kills two birds with one stone.
|boil the ocean||To “boil the ocean” means
to waste time on a task or project that is unnecessary,
not worth doing or impossible to achieve.
“I expect you to do the job well but don’t try to boil the ocean!”
|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.
|can't hold a candle to||If one person can't hold a candle
to another, they are much less competent or
do not perform as well as the other.
John is very intelligent but he can't hold a candle to his brother Paul when it comes to sports.
|chase your (own) tail||Someone who is
chasing their (own) tail is spending a
lot of time and energy doing many things but
achieving very little.
He's been chasing his tail all week collecting data but the report is still not ready.
|like clockwork||To say that someone or something goes,
runs or behaves like clockwork
means that everything happens exactly as
Meals are always served on time. In their home everything runs like clockwork.
|cut the ground from under feet||When someone
cuts the ground from under another's feet,
do something which weakens their position or spoils their plans.
When we launched the new product, we cut the ground from under our competitors' feet.
|dab hand at something||If you're a dab hand at something,
you're very good at doing it.
Why don't you call Suzy? She's a dab hand at organizing barbecues.
|deliver the goods||If a person
delivers the goods, they do what is
expected of them
or what they have promised to.
Let's hope that new whiz-kid the boss hired can deliver the goods!
|do nothing by halves||When a person does everything they are
engaged in completely and thoroughly, they
are said to do nothing by halves.
When she cooks, it's a four-course meal - she does nothing by halves!
|do the trick||If something
does the trick, it does exactly what is
needed, or achieves the desired effect.
Another coat of paint should do the trick.
Alphabetical lists :