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English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions 


from:   'read the riot act'   to:  'wear the trousers'

  • read the riot act
    • If you declare with force and authority that something must stop, and announce the consequences if it happens again, you read the riot act.
      "Dad read us the riot act when we messed up his tool-shed."

  • rule the roost
    • If you rule the roost, you are the most important and powerful person in a group or community.
      "Officially David runs the company, but it's his father who rules the roost"

  • seal of approval
    • If a project or contact receives a seal of approval, it receives formal support or approval from higher authorities.
      "We can't conclude the deal without the director's seal of approval."

  • speak softly and carry a big stick
    • If you speak softly and carry a big stick, you express your views quietly, in a non-aggressive manner, but you make it clear that you are in a position to use force if necessary.
      "As a leader he recommends the 'speak softly and carry a big stick' method."

  • tail wagging the dog
    • This expression refers to a situation where there is a reversal of roles, with the small or minor element having a controlling influence on the most important element.
      "If you let your children decide on everything, it will be a case of the tail wagging the dog!"

  • take it upon yourself
    • If you take it upon yourself  to do something, you do it without asking for permission or agreement.
      "My colleague took it upon herself to redecorate the office during my absence."

  • top dog
    • To say that a person, group or country is top dog means that they are better or more powerful than others.
      "She's top dog in cosmetics today."

  • under your thumb
    • If someone is under your thumb, they are completely under your control or influence.
      "Nobody ever protests. He has the whole group under his thumb."

  • gain/get the upper hand
    • If a person or organisation gains or gets the upper hand, especially in a fight or competition, they take control over something.
      "We increased our market share and gained the upper hand over our competitors."

  • wear the trousers
    • The partner in a couple who wears the trousers is the one who makes all the important decisions.
      "The salesman hesitated before the couple. It was difficult to see who wore the trousers"

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