English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Surprise - Astonishment - Disbelief
|bolt from the blue||To
refer to something as a bolt from the
means that it happened totally unexpectedly
and was a complete surprise.
The chairman's resignation came as a bolt from the blue.
|out of the blue||
If something happens out of the blue,
it happens unexpectedly and causes a
I had nearly given up hope when out of the blue I was offered a job.
|caught unawares||If someone is
caught unawares, they are surprised and
unprepared for what happens.
The security guard moved so silently that the thief was caught unawares.
|credibility gap||The extent of
disbelief, of the difference between what
you are asked to believe and what you are
able to believe, is called a credibility
The growing credibility gap may lead to a serious loss of votes in the next elections.
|do a double take||Someone who
does a double take looks again in
surprise at something unexpected.
He did a double take when he saw his wife in a restaurant with another man.
|drop a bombshell||If you drop a bombshell, you
make an unexpected announcement which will
greatly change a situation.
The chairman dropped a bombshell when he announced the merger with the company's biggest rival.
|eyes on stalks||If your eyes are on stalks when
you look at something, they are wide open
with surprise or amazement.
The child's eyes were on stalks as he watched the magician's performance.
|jaw drops||If someone's jaw drops, they
show total amazement.
When the prize was announced, the winner's jaw dropped.
|jump out of one's skin||If you jump out of your skin,
you are extremely surprised or shocked.
Jane nearly jumped out of her skin when the horse put its head through the kitchen window!
|knock your socks off||If something amazes
you, or impresses you greatly, it knocks
your socks off.
The magnitude of the project will knock the socks off everyone in the office.
|knock down with feather||To say 'you
could have knocked me down with a feather'
emphasizes the fact that you were extremely
When I heard the name of the winner, you could have knocked me down with a feather!
|lo and behold!||This term is used to express surprise,
especially at a sudden or unexpected
I was watering the flowers when, lo and behold, there was the watch I'd lost!
|nine-day wonder||An event which is
a nine-day wonder causes interest,
surprise or excitement for a short time, but
it doesn't last.
His sudden departure was a nine-day wonder but he was soon forgotten.
|raise eyebrows||Someone who raises their eyebrows
at something shows surprise or disapproval
by the expression on their face.
When the boss arrived in jeans, there were a lot of raised eyebrows
|rooted to the spot||If you are so shocked, surprised or
scared that you are
rooted to the spot, you reaction is
so strong that you are unable to move.
Joe stood rooted to the spot as the plane landed on the water.
|seeing is believing||This expression means that when you see
something that seems incredible you can be
sure it exists, or that what you have been
told is really true.
Mark says bananas grow in his garden, but seeing is believing!
|stop dead in tracks||If you stop dead in your tracks,
you stop suddenly because you are totally
surprised or frightened.
When Steve saw the snake, he stopped dead in his tracks.
|struck dumb||If someone is
struck dumb, they are unable to speak
because they are so surprised, shocked or
frightened by something.
The accused was struck dumb when the verdict was announced.
|taken unawares||If something
takes you unawares, it surprises you
because you were not expecting it.
His angry reaction took me unawares.
|there's no accounting for taste||This expression is used to indicate
surprise at another person's likes or
She fell in love with a guy who's short, fat, bald and poor ... there's no accounting for taste!
|wonders will never cease||This saying is used
to express pleasure or surprise at
The price of petrol has dropped! Wonders will never cease!
|words fail me||This expression is often used when
someone is so shocked, surprised or touched
by something that they don't know what to
"What do you think of Bob's attitude?" "Words fail me!"
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