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English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions 


Social, working and personal relationships

from:  'keep at arm's length'   to:  'stormy relationship'

  • keep at arm's length
    • If you keep someone at arm's length, you do not allow yourself to become too friendly with them.
      "It's not easy to become friends with Sophie; she tends to keep everyone at arm's length."

  • kowtow to others
    • If you are very respectful and submissive, giving way to the wishes of a person or organisation in authority in order to please them, you kowtow to them.
      "Mark refused to kowtow to the committee and decided to work as a consultant."

  • at loggerheads
    • If you are at loggerheads with a person or organisation, you disagree very strongly with them.
      "The management and the trade unions are at loggerheads over the decision to close down the plant."

  • move in the same circles
    • When people move in the same circles, they socialize with others who have a similar background, interests or lifestyle.
      "I've never met the Duchess personally. We don't move in the same circles!"

  • on nodding terms
    • If you are on nodding terms with someone, you don't know them very well, just well enough to say 'hello' when you meet them.
      "We haven't made any friends yet but we're on nodding terms with our neighbours."

  • rob the cradle
    • If you rob the cradle, you have a romantic relationship with someone who is much younger than yourself.
      "My uncle Ted is dating a twenty-year-old girl. That's really robbing the cradle!"

  • rub shoulders
    • If you rub shoulders with someone, you have an opportunity to meet and talk to that person, especially someone wealthy, famous or distinguished.
      "In her job in public relations, Carla sometimes rubs shoulders with famous people."

  • run with the hare and hunt with the hounds
    • If you run with the hare and hunt with the hounds, you want to stay on friendly terms with both sides in a quarrel.
      "Bob always wants to keep everyone happy, but he can't run with the hare and hunt with the hounds this time - the issue is too important."

  • on the same page / on the same wavelength
    • If you are on the same page or the same wavelength as someone else, you have the same understanding or think in a similar way.
      "We rarely argue. We're generally on the same wavelength."

  • significant other
    • The term 'significant other' refers to a person, such as a spouse, partner or lover, with whom you have a long-term relationship.
      "Harry says he makes no decisions without consulting his significant other."

  • speed networking
    • This term refers to a relatively recent urban trend which consists in making a potential business contact by briefly talking to a series of people at an organised event and exchanging contact details.

  • starter marriage
    • A starter marriage is a short-lived first marriage that ends in divorce with no kids, no property and no regrets.

  • stormy relationship
    • If you have a stormy relationship with someone, you have a lot of arguments and disagreements.
      "After a very stormy relationship, they decided to separate."

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Please note that British English spelling is used on this website.

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