English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Intelligence - Understanding
|be 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.
|beat one's brains out||If someone
beats their brains out, they try very
hard to understand something or solve a
My grandmother beats her brains out every evening trying to do the crossword puzzle in the newspaper.
|it beats me!||This expression is
used to express surprise at something that
you find difficult to understand.
It beats me how he can live in that horrible apartment!
|it's beyond me||To say 'it's beyond me' means that it is
impossible for you to understand.
It's beyond me why Mary wants to marry John.
|blind you with science||If someone tries to
blind you with science, they
confuse you with their knowledge by using
difficult or technical words.
When you ask Tim for a simple explanation, he blinds you with science.
|I wasn't born yesterday||This expression is used to indicate that
you are not as foolish or as easily deceived
as some people seem to think.
Stop inventing silly excuses. I wasn't born yesterday you know!
|brains behind something||Someone who is
the brains behind a project or action
is the person thought to have planned and
The police have arrested a man believed to be the brains behind the bank robbery.
|can't make head or tail of||If you can't make head or tail of
something, you can't understand it at all.
Amy's message was so confusing. I couldn't make head or tail of it!
|put on your thinking cap||If you tell someone to put their
thinking cap on, you ask them to find
an idea or solve a problem by thinking about
Now here's this week's quiz; it's time to put your thinking caps on!
|chinese arithmetic||If something is very complicated or
difficult to understand, it is said to be
like Chinese arithmetic.
When he tried to explain the rules of the game to me, it was like Chinese arithmetic!
|not have a clue||If you don't have a clue about
something, you don't know anything about it.
My wife's grandmother's maiden name? I don't have a clue!
|collect one's thoughts||If you collect your thoughts,
you try to think calmly and clearly in order
to prepare yourself mentally for something.
Anne stopped to collect her thoughts before calling back the customer.
|come to grips with||If you come to grips with a
problem or situation, you start to
understand or deal with it properly.
After the initial shock, the patient began to come to grips with his disability.
|come to your senses||If you come to your senses you
start to think clearly and behave sensibly.
She finally came to her senses and realized that public transport was faster than driving in the city.
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