English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
|against the clock||If
you do something against the clock,
you are rushed and have very little time to
They are working against the clock to have the presentation ready for Monday.
|on the cusp||On the cusp
refers to a point in time that marks a transition or the beginning of a change.
Some people think the world is on the cusp of a new era.
If something has existed or been somewhere
all along, it has been there all the
time, from the beginning.
I had been looking for my keys for some time before I realized they had been in my pocket all along.
|better late than never||When someone does something late, this
remark means that it is better to do it late
than not do it at all.
Do you know what time it is? You promised you'd come early to help me - but better late than never I suppose!
|in the blink of an eye||If something happens in the blink of
an eye, it happens nearly
instantaneously, with hardly enough time to
The pickpocket disappeared in the blink of an eye.
|by degrees||If something happens or develops by
degrees, it happens gradually or little
by little as time goes by.
By degrees their business relationship grew into friendship.
|clock in/out||When you clock in or out,
you record the time you arrive or leave your
job by punching a time clock to the show
the number of hours you have worked.
I'm going to clock out early today. I've got a dental appointment.
|cut it/things fine||If you cut it/cut things fine,
you leave barely enough time to do
You're counting just an hour between the airport and the train station -
isn't that cutting things a bit fine?
|date late and a dollar short||If something is a day late and a
dollar short, it comes too late and
is not good enough.
They offered me an internship when I had already found a job - a day late and a dollar short!
|donkey's years||If someone has been doing something for
donkey's years, they have been doing it
for a very long time.
He knows the town inside out. He's been living here for donkey's years.
|down to the wire||If something such as project or a match
goes down to the wire, the
situation can change up until the last
There's nothing as exciting as watching a game that goes down to the wire.
|at the eleventh hour||If something happens at the eleventh
hour, it happens when it is almost too
late, or at the last possible moment.
Our team won after they scored a goal at the eleventh hour.
|five o'clock shadow||This expression refers to a patch of
stubble on the face of a man who hasn't
shaved for at least a day.
He looked tired and had a five o'clock shadow.
|in the interim||Something that happens in the
interim takes place during a period of
time between two events.
I won't have the apartment until next month. In the interim I'm staying at a local hotel.
|in the long run||This term refers to something that will
have effect over or after a long period of
Learning Chinese is going to be difficult, but it'll be worth it in the long run because it will help me to get a better job.
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