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English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions

Detailed alphabetical lists of idioms with their meaning, page 1


Idiom example:

Idioms, as in the example below, are commonly used in everyday conversation by English and should be avoided in formal exchanges.

Example:- Let the cat out of the bag
Meaning:- If you let the cat out of the bag, you reveal a secret.


ALPHABETICAL LISTS: from A to J

The lists below show the first and last idiom on each page:

  • Alphabetical idioms - lists A :
    • list A1 :  abbreviated piece of nothing → (hold all the) aces
    • list A2 :  achilles heel → alarm bells
    • list A3 :  all along → all the rage
    • list A4 :  all sizzle and no steak → apple of your eye
    • list A5 :  (upset the) applecart → at all costs
    • list A6 :  at this stage of the game → (have an) axe to grind
  • Alphabetical idioms - lists B :
    • list B1 :  (leave someone holding the) baby  →  in bad shape
    • list B2 :  badger someone →  whole new ball game
    • list B3 :  ballpark figure  →  battle lines are drawn
    • list B4 :  battle of wills  →  beat a dead horse
    • list B5 :  beat a hasty retreat  →  before your very eyes
    • list B6 :  beggars can't be choosers  →  beside yourself
    • list B7 :  best bet  →  beyond any reasonable doubt
    • list B8 :  beyond one's wildest dreams →  bite the bullet
    • list B9 :  bite the dust → blamestorming
    • list B10 : blank cheque  →  blow away the cobwebs
    • list B11 : blow a fuse  →  above board
    • list B12 : in the same boat   →  bored to tears
    • list B13 : born with silver spoon in your mouth  →  all brawn no brain
    • list B14 : know which side your bread is buttered  →  a breeze
    • list B15 : bricks and mortar/bricks and clicks  →   pass the buck
    • list B16 : bucket list  →  burning question
    • list B17 : bury your head in the sand  →  by degrees
  • Alphabetical idioms - lists C :
    • list C1 :   (in) cahoots with  →  burn the candle at both ends 
    • list C2 :   (paddle one's own) canoe  → carrot and stick 
    • list C3 :   carry the can  →  fat cat
    • list C4 :   cat nap  →  catch as catch can
    • list C5 :   caught in the crossfire  →  change the face of
    • list C6 :   change of heart  →  chicken out
    • list C7 :   chickens come home to roost  →  chips are down
    • list C8 :   chocolate teapot  →  clip someone's wings
    • list C9 :   clock in/out  →  cold calls
    • list C10 : cold turkey  →  come to grips
    • list C11 : come to a head  →  common knowledge
    • list C12 : cook the books  →  couch potato
    • list C13 : cough up  →  cream of the crop
    • list C14 : cream rises to the top  → at cross purposes
    • list C15 : cross the Rubicon  →  on cue
    • list C16 : off the cuff  →  cut no ice
    • list C17 : cut loose  →   cutting edge
  • Alphabetical idioms - lists D :
    • list D1 :   dab hand at something → dead in the water
    • list D2 :   dead loss  →  (like a) deer caught in the headlights
    • list D3 :   (by) degrees → dice are loaded
    • list D4 :   dice with death → disappear into thin air
    • list D5 :   disaster written all over → dog-eat-dog
    • list D6 :   dog and pony show → let sleeping dogs lie
    • list D7 :   dogs are barking → door swings both ways
    • list D8 :   the shadow of a doubt  →  drag one's feet
    • list D9 :   drastic times  →  drop a bombshell
    • list D10 : drop like flies  → dumb as an oyster
    • list D11 : dumbing down  →  dying for something
  • Alphabetical idioms - lists E :
    • list E1 :  eager beaver →  eat crow
    • list E2 :  eat dirt → (walk on) eggshells
    • list E3 :  ego trip  →  even keel
    • list E4 :  even the score  →  apple of your eye
    • list E5 :  eye of the storm  →  eyes on stalks
  • Alphabetical idioms - lists F :
    • list F1 :   face like a bulldog  → facts speak for themselves
    • list F2 :   fair and square → fall on deaf ears
    • list F3 :   fall on sword → fat cat
    • list F4 :   fat chance → feet of clay
    • list F5 :   (back on your) feet → (play second) fiddle
    • list F6 :   fiddling while Rome burns → finger in every pie
    • list F7 :   put a finger on →  in the first place
    • list F8 :   (of the) first water  →  fit for purpose
    • list F9 :    fit to be tied → fly-by-night
    • list F10 :  fly by seat of one's pants → (on a) fool's errand
    • list F11 :  fool's paradise  →  forewarned is forearmed
    • list F12 :  forty winks → Freudian slip
    • list F13 :  friends in high places → fur coat
  • Alphabetical idioms - lists G :
    • list G1 :  gift of the gab →  get cracking
    • list G2 :  get down to brass tacks → get off the hook
    • list G3 :  get on your high horse →  get the message
    • list G4 :  get the picture → give it a rest
    • list G5 :  give the once-over  → glowing terms
    • list G6 :  glutton for punishment → go the extra mile
    • list G7 :  go to extremes  →  go off with a bang
    • list G8 :  go out of business   →  go up in smoke
    • list G9 :  going concern → good walls
    • list G10: goose pimples → green with envy
    • list G11: grey area → gutter press
  • Alphabetical idioms - lists H :
    • list H1 :  (old) habits die hard →  half a mind
    • list H2 :  hammer home → hands tied
    • list H3 :  (wash your) hands of → happy as Larry
    • list H4 :  happy-go-lucky→ bury the hatchet
    • list H5 :  haul over coals → head over heels in love
    • list H6 :  headless chicken → turn on the heat
    • list H7 :  heavens open → here today, gone tomorrow
    • list H8 :  neither here nor there → hit the dust
    • list H9 :  hit the road  → hold the field
    • list H10 : hold the fort  →  honour among thieves
    • list H11 : by hook or by crook → horses for courses
    • list H12 : straight from the horse's mouth → hustle and bustle
  • Alphabetical idioms - lists I :
    • list I1 : break the ice → in essence
    • list I2 : in the first place → in retrospect
    • list I3 : in safe hands → be an item
  • Alphabetical idioms - lists J :
    • list J1 : jack of all trades → jump the gun
    • list J2 : jump for joy → just the ticket

next page: → alphabetical lists, page 2: K to Z

 Idioms by theme  back to homepage