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 English Idioms and Expressions  

Alphabetical List of Idioms A, page 2,
from: 'Achilles heel'  to: 'alarm bells'

  • Achilles heel
    • This expression refers to a vulnerable area or a weak spot, in an otherwise strong situation, that could cause one's downfall or failure.
      "He's extremely intelligent, but his inability to speak in public is his Achilles heel."

  • acid test
    • To refer to something as 'the acid test'  means that it will prove how effective or useful something is.
      "The training course was very interesting but the acid test will come when I start my new job."

  • acquired taste
    • Something that you dislike when you first taste it, but begin to like after trying it several times, is an acquired taste.
      "Tony has always loved olives, but for me it was an acquired taste."

  • act of God
    • This term refers to an natural event or accident, for which no person is responsible (such as an earthquake, lightning and similar acts of nature).
      "The insurance company refused to pay for the damage because it was caused by an act of God."

  • get your act together
    • If you tell someone to get their act together, you mean that they need to organise their affairs more effectively in order to be more successful.
      "You'd better get your act together if you want to find a job!"

  • add fuel to the flames
    • If you add fuel to the flames, you do or say something that makes a difficult situation even worse.
      "He forgot their wedding anniversary, and his apologies only added fuel to the flames."

  • much ado about nothing
    • When people make much ado about nothing, they make a lot of fuss about something which is not important.
      There was a meeting to discuss the name for the new playground.
      "Much ado about nothing" said my Dad!"

  • afraid of one's own shadow
    • A person who is afraid of his/her own shadow is very nervous or easily frightened.
      "I've never seen anyone so easily scared. She's afraid of her own shadow!"

  • after all
    • This expression means 'finally, despite earlier problems or doubts'.
      "The rain has stopped, so the match can be played after all."
      It can also mean 'considering what has happened'.
      "We don’t have to invite them to our wedding. After all, they didn’t invite us!"

  • after the fact
    • If something is done after the fact, it done too late, after something has actually happened, especially a crime or an accident.
      "He said he realized he had put people in danger, but that was of no help after the fact."

  • against one's better judgement
    • If you do something even though you feel it is not a sensible thing to do, you do it against your better judgement.
      Bob persuaded her to go by car, against her better judgement, and she regretted it as soon as she saw the heavy traffic.

  • against the clock
    • If you do something against the clock, you are rushed and have very little time to do it.
      "They are working against the clock to have the presentation ready for Monday."

  • ahead of the pack
    • If a person or organisation is ahead of the pack, they are better or more successful than their rivals.
      "Our products will have to be more innovative if we want to stay ahead of the pack."

  • alarm bells start to ring
    set the alarm bells ringing
    • If something sets the alarm bells ringing, it makes you begin to worry, because it shows that there may be a problem.
      "Alarm bells started to ring when the old lady next door didn't open her shutters all day and didn't answer her phone."

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