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English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions

Alphabetical List of Idioms - N
from: 'nailing jelly to the wall'   to: 'nerves of steel'

  • nailing jelly to the wall
    • To say that something is like nailing jelly to the wall means that it is extremely difficult to do, if not impossible.
      "Alex travels so much that keeping track of him is like nailing jelly to the wall."

  • name is mud
    • To say that a person's name is mud means that they have acquired a bad reputation because of something they have done or said.
      "The mayor's name is mud now after the revelations in the newspaper."

  • name (written) on it
    • If something has someone's name (written) on it, it is intended for that person or it is ideally suited to them.
      "That dress would be perfect for you - it's got your name on it!"

  • necessary evil
    • If you say that something is a necessary evil, you don't like it but you understand that it has to exist and be accepted.
      "Vaccinations are a necessary evil if you want to travel."

  • neck and neck
    • In a contest or competition, when two competitors reach the same level, they are neck and neck, so it is impossible to say who will win.
      "At the moment the two teams are neck and neck for the Word Cup."

  • pain in the neck
    • If you refer to someone as a pain in the neck, you think they are very irritating or annoying.
      "Emily is a pain in the neck the way she keeps complaining!"

  • stick one's neck out
    • If a person sticks their neck out, they draw attention to themselves by saying or doing something that others are afraid to do.
      "Julie stuck her neck out and said that the sales target would be impossible to reach without extra staff."

  • needs must (when the devil drives)
    • The expression 'needs must (when the devil drives)' means that you are sometimes forced by circumstances to do something that you do not want to do.
      "I'd rather stay with you than attend the conference, but needs must ...!"

  • needle in haystack
    • To refer to something as a needle in a haystack means that it is very difficult or impossible to find.
      "Finding a pub in Dublin without knowing its name is like looking for a needle in a haystack."

  • neither fish nor fowl
    • People or things that are difficult to classify because they are neither one thing nor another are 'neither fish nor fowl'.
      "Interns are neither fish nor fowl. They are neither students nor fully qualified practitioners."

  • neither here nor there
    • Something which is neither here nor there is unimportant or irrelevant."
      "Why the problem wasn't discovered earlier is neither here nor there. What's important now is to find a solution."

  • nerves of steel
    • Someone who has nerves of steel is not afraid in difficult or dangerous situations.
      "Fire-fighters need to have nerves of steel."

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