THE IDIOM CONNECTION
abide by (something)
- to follow the rules of somethingThe cleaning staff must abide by the rules of the school.
able to breathe easily again
- to be able to relax and recover from a stressful time or eventMy friend was able to breathe easily again when his company did not go bankrupt.
able to do (something) blindfolded
- to be able to do something easily and quicklyThe car was easy to fix and we were able to do it blindfolded.
able to do (something) standing on one's head
- to be able to do something easily and quicklyThe boy is good at fixing his bicycle. He can do it standing on his head.
able to (do something) with one's eyes closed/shut
- to be able to do something very easilyThe car mechanic was able to fix my car with his eyes closed.
able to take a joke
- to be able to let others laugh and joke about youOur boss is not able to take a joke. We must be careful what we say to him.
- to be something that should have happened earlier"It is about time that you returned that book to me."
about to (do something)
- to be on the point of doing somethingI was about to leave my house when the phone rang.
- mainly, especiallyI like adventure movies but above all I love horror movies.
above all else
- most importantly of allAbove all else, I plan to go to the Natural History Museum when I visit the city.
above and beyond
- to be more than is requiredThe work that the man did on our house was above and beyond what was required.
- to be not deserving of blame or criticismThe actions of the police officer were above reproach.
- to be very honest so that nobody will suspect you of doing something wrongThe man's actions are always above suspicion.
- to be forgetfulMy grandfather is very absent-minded and he often forgets his keys.
accept an offer
- to agree to an offer or proposalI accepted the offer to buy my car.
an accident waiting to happen
- a dangerous situation in which an accident will probably happenThe expensive dish on the table with the small child is an accident waiting to happen.
The childrens' play area is very unsafe. It is an accident waiting to happen.
according to Hoyle
- doing something strictly by the rules, doing something the usual and correct way (Hoyle was a writer who was an expert on the rules of card games)"According to Hoyle, we should not use this room but probably nobody will complain if we do use it."
according to (someone or something)
- as said or told by someone, in agreement with something, in the order of something, in proportion to somethingAccording to our teacher, there will be no class next week.
We did everything according to the terms of the agreement.
account for (something)
- to provide an answer/explanation for somethingThe bad weather accounts for the fact that only a few people came to the meeting.
- to do exceptionally well in an exam or other serious situationThe exam was very easy and I am sure that I aced it.
The young man aced the job interview.
Achilles' heel (of someone or something)
- the weak part of a person/place/system/argument which can easily be attacked or criticizedThe lack of a new stadium was the Achilles' heel of the government's plans to host the Olympics.
- a test where the conclusions are beyond doubtThe problem was an acid test of our faith in the new manager.
acquire a taste for (something)
- to learn to like somethingWe acquired a taste for classical music during our trip to Europe.
across the board
- equally for everyone or everythingThe taxes have increased across the board and everyone must pay more.
act as a guinea pig
- to allow some kind of test to be performed on someoneI was not happy to act as a guinea pig on the new training material.
act high and mighty
- to act proud and powerfulThe woman always acts high and mighty and nobody likes her.
act one's age
- to behave as a mature person, to behave equal to one's ageMy friend never acts her age in public.
- to misbehaveThe children began to act up during the field trip.
add fuel to the fire
- to make a problem worse, to make an angry person more angryThe company added fuel to the fire when they criticized the workers.
add insult to injury
- to make a person who already feels bad to feel worse, to make a bad situation worseOur boss added insult to injury when she refused to let us use the Internet during lunch.
- to total up to a certain amountI will add up the money that I owe to my father and give it to him.
add up (to something)
- to mean something, to result in somethingThe things that my friend said about his boss do not add up to anything.
advise (someone) against (something)
- to suggest that something should not be doneI advised my friend not to swim in the river.
afraid of one's own shadow
- to be easily frightenedThe small dog is afraid of his own shadow.
after a fashion
- poorly, barely adequateThe cleaning staff cleaned the lunchroom after a fashion but not very well.
- in spite of what was expectedI have decided not to take swimming lessons after all.
It did not rain today after all.
- emphasizes something that should be considered"You don't need to phone him. After all, he never phones you."
after all is said and done
- finally, when everything is settledAfter all is said and done the mayor of our city is doing a very good job.
- after the regular closing or finishing timeOur library has a place to return books after hours.
after the fact
- after something has happenedThe man said that he was sorry but it was after the fact. He had already caused many problems.
again and again
- repeatedlyI told my friend again and again not to phone late at night.
against one's will
- to be without a person's consent or agreementThe police took the man to jail against his will.
against the clock
- before a particular timeWe worked against the clock to finish the project.
ahead of one's time
- ideas or attitudes that are more advanced than those of other peopleThe ideas of the politician were ahead of his time.
ahead of schedule
- before the time on a schedule that has been decidedWe finished our work ahead of schedule.
ahead of the game
- to have done more than necessaryWe worked hard all week in order to be ahead of the game on Monday morning.
ahead of time
- earlier than arranged or plannedWe started the meeting ahead of time so that we could go home early.
aim at (something)
- to plan or try to reach a targetWe are aiming at a big increase in sales next year.
air one`s dirty laundry/linen in public
- to make public something embarrassing that should be a secretThe dinner party became uncomfortable when the host began to air his colleague's dirty laundry in public.
air one's grievances
- to complain (often publicly)We aired our grievances during the monthly meeting.
- to broadcast something on television or radioThey will air the game tomorrow.
air (something) out
- to freshen something by putting it in the open airWe put the blankets outside in order to air them out.
alive and kicking
- to be well and healthyMy aunt is ninety years old and she is very much alive and kicking.
alive and well
- to be well and healthyThe worker was alive and well after the accident.
- all the time, throughoutI knew all along that my friend would not get the promotion.
all at once
- suddenly, without warningAll at once, the fire alarm rang and we had to leave the building.
all day long
- the whole dayThe girl was happy to wait all day long for the mail to arrive.
all dressed up
- dressed in one's best clothesThe girls were all dressed up for the evening.
- to listen eagerly and carefullyThe boy was all ears when the teacher began to talk about the circus.
all fired up (about something)
- to feel very strong emotions about somethingMy friend is all fired up about something but I do not know what it is.
Our teacher was all fired up about something this morning.
all for (someone or something)
- to be very much in favor of someone or somethingThe woman is all for the manager and she never criticizes her.
- most important, urgent or necessaryThe meeting is all important and I plan to attend it.
- to be tired, to be exhaustedI am all in and will go to bed early tonight.
all in a day's work
- to be part of what is expected of youIt was all in a day's work when the firefighters rescued the cat.
all in all
- in summary, after considering everythingWe had a few problems but all in all the meeting was successful.
all in one piece
- safely, without damageOur furniture arrived all in one piece after we moved.
all manner of (someone or something)
- all types of people or thingsThere were all manner of people at the party.
all night long
- throughout the whole nightWe could hear the people next door talking all night long.
all of a sudden
- suddenly, without advance warningAll of a sudden, it became cloudy and began to rain.
all or nothing
- everything, one hundred percent of somethingIt is all or nothing. If I cannot fully participate in the meeting I will not attend.
- a very good and thorough effortWe are making an all-out-effort to finish our work.
all over but the shouting
- to be decided and finishedIt was all over but the shouting for the football fans after their team lost the game.
all over the place
- everywhereWe traveled all over the place on our holiday.
- okay, satisfactoryIt should be all right for me to bring my friend to the party.
- to be ready to begin, to be okayWe were all set so we began the meeting.
all sweetness and light
- to be very sweet, to be innocent and helpfulThe girl is all sweetness and light after she does something bad.
all systems go
- everything is ready (often used when a rocket is launched)It was all systems go and we began the installation of the new computer system.
all talk (and no action)
- to talk about doing something but never really doing itOur boss is all talk and no action and nothing new is ever done in our department.
all the livelong day
- throughout the whole dayI know the words to the song, I've been working on the railroad, all the livelong day.
all the rage
- to be in current fashionThe new sneakers were all the rage during the summer.
all the time
- always, continually, oftenMy sister asks for money all the time but I never give it to her.
all things to all people
- to be everything that is wanted by all peopleThe politician tries to be all things to all people and it is difficult to know what he really believes.
- to have difficulty fixing things or working with one`s hands, to be clumsyMy friend is all thumbs when he fixes things around his house.
all to the good
- for the best, for one's benefitIt was all to the good that my sister quit her job.
- including everything or everyone, counting everythingAll told, there were at least twelve candidates for the job.
allow for (someone or something)
- to plan to have enough of something, to plan on the possibility of somethingWe must allow for enough time to go to the stadium.
along with (someone or something)
- in addition to someone or somethingI went to the concert along with my friend.
amount to (something)
- to total something, to result in somethingThe small amounts of time later amounted to much time.
amount to (something)
- to become successfulThe boy will never amount to anything if he does not change his behavior.
amount to the same thing
- to be the same or have the same effect as somethingGoing by taxi or by bus amounts to the same thing. We will still be late for the concert.
and so on
- and other similar details, et ceteraI was hot and I was tired and I did not have any water and so on. It was terrible.
answer to (someone)
- to explain or justify one's actions to someoneThe manager had to answer to the company president about the financial problems.
any number of (someone or something)
- a large number of people or somethingI have any number of reasons not to buy a new computer.
appear out of nowhere
- to appear suddenly, to appear without warningThe dog appeared out of nowhere during our walk on the beach.
apple of (someone`s) eye
- someone or something that is very precious or important to youThe man's youngest daughter is the apple of his eye.
argue for the sake of arguing/argument
- to argue only to be differentMy brother always argues for the sake of arguing.
- to originate from, to be caused byFires often arise from people not being careful.
arm and a leg
- a large amount of moneyThe man's new car cost him an arm and a leg.
arm in arm
- to be joined together by the armsThe young girls walked to school arm in arm.
armed and dangerous
- to have a weapon that may be used (usually used for a criminal)The criminal was armed and dangerous when the police arrested him.
armed to the teeth
- to be armed with many weaponsThe police were armed to the teeth during the raid.
around the clock
- all day and all nightWe worked around the clock to prepare the store to open.
arrange for (someone or something)
- to make practical plans for something to happen or someone to do somethingWe arranged for someone to come and fix our broken shower.
arrive on the scene
- to appear in a certain placeWhen the fire department arrived on the scene the fire was very large.
as a last resort
- if everything else failsAs a last resort we decided to borrow some money to buy the car.
as a matter of fact
- actually, in factAs a matter of fact, we have been to the art gallery many times.
as a result of (something)
- because of something that has happenedAs a result of a car accident my friend could not work for several months.
as a rule
- usually, as a habitAs a rule, I get up at 7:00 every morning.
as a whole
- taken or considered all togetherAs a whole our boss is very good although some people do not like him.
as clean as a hound's tooth
- very cleanThe classroom was as clean as a hound's tooth when the students finished cleaning it.
as comfortable as an old shoe
- very comfortable, very familiarI felt as comfortable as an old shoe when I entered my aunt's house.
as common as an old shoe
- low class, badly manneredThe young woman is as common as an old shoe.
as crooked as a dog's hind leg
- dishonestThe politician is as crooked as a dog's hind leg and nobody trusts him.
as dull as dishwater
- very uninterestingThe speaker at the conference was as dull as dishwater.
as far as
- to the extent or degree of somethingAs far as I know the movie will start next week.
as far as possible
- as much as possibleWe went as far as possible with the project before we had to stop.
We plan to drive as far as possible tomorrow.
as fit as a fiddle
- to be healthy and physically fitMy grandfather is ninety years old but he is as fit as a fiddle.
as for (someone or something)
- with regard to, concerningAs for me, I think that I will go home now.
as good as one's word
- to be dependable if one promises somethingMy friend is as good as his word. You can always trust him.
- in the same way that something would be, thatThe drink tastes as if it were made with orange juice.
It seemed as if the whole town came to the concert.
- in whatever condition something happens to beWe bought the old sofa as is. It was very cheap.
as long as
- provided that, on condition that"As long as you promise to be very careful you can borrow my car."
as luck would have it
- by chanceAs luck would have it, I was able to borrow some clothes for the party.
- as if a group were one personThe crowd stood up as one and began to cheer.
as pale as a ghost
- extremely paleMy grandfather was as pale as a ghost when he entered the hospital.
as pale as death
- extremely paleThe woman in the hospital waiting room was as pale as death.
as plain as the nose on one's face
- obviousIt is as the plain as the nose on our face who broke the computer.
as scarce as hen's teeth
- very scarce, nonexistentCheap apartment rentals are as scarce as hen's teeth in the large city.
as sick as a dog
- very sickMy friend was as sick as a dog when he left the restaurant last night.
as soon as
- just after something, whenI phoned my friend as soon as I finished dinner.
- the way something is"As such, I will not be able to approve your application for a loan."
as the crow flies
- by the most direct way, along a straight line between two placesAs the crow flies, it is not very far between my house and my office.
- with regard to, concerning, according toWe have some questions as to how the accident happened.
The players were put into groups as to their ability.
as tough as an old boot
- very tough, not easily moved by feelings such as pityThe old lady is as tough as an old boot and never shoes her feelings at all.
- most of the time, following the usual patternAs usual, the girl forgot to bring her book to class.
- in addition, also, tooI plan to take a computer course this summer as well.
as well as (someone or something)
- in addition to someone or something"Please bring your swimming suit as well as your towel."
- until now, up to the presentAs yet, our secretary has not talked about her plans to leave the company.
ask for (someone's) hand in marriage
- to ask someone to marry youAfter dating his girlfriend for several years, the man finally asked for her hand in marriage.
ask for (something)
- to deserve something, to receive just punishment for somethingThe boy is asking for some kind of punishment for what he is doing.
ask for the moon
- to ask for too muchThe woman is asking for the moon. She will never get what she wants.
ask for trouble
- to behave in a way that will likely cause troubleThe boy is asking for trouble if he misses another class.
ask (someone) out or ask out (someone)
- to ask a person for a dateMy friend finally asked the woman at the bank out.
asleep at the switch
- to not be alert to an opportunityI was asleep at the switch. I did not know about the job so I did not apply for it.
assault and battery
- a criminal charge where one violently attacks and beats someoneThe man was arrested for assault and battery after the fight.
at a loss
- in a state of uncertainty or bewildermentWe were at a loss about what to do with the broken computer.
at a loss for words
- speechless, unable to speakI was at a loss for words when I met my friend after many years.
at a standstill
- in a situation where no progress can be made, at an impasseThe traffic on the road was at a standstill because of the accident.
at a stretch
- continuouslyMy friend sometimes works for three weeks at a stretch.
at all costs
- regardless of the cost or difficulty, no matter whatThe company wants to protect their product design at all costs.
at any rate
- anyway"At any rate, I am not going to a movie tonight."
- at a distanceWe tried to keep the dog at bay when we entered the building.
- under the most favorable circumstancesThe doctors said that the man had ten months at best to live.
- to have opposite ways of doing something, to have opposing goalsThe two men are at cross purposes. They cannot agree about anything.
at death's door
- to be near deathThe young woman was at death's door after the accident.
- to be relaxed and comfortableThe players felt at ease after the coach talked to them.
at every turn
- everywhere that one looksWhen we visited Rome, there was a group of tourists at every turn.
at face value
- the apparent value of something, the value that is printed on a stamp or a bondAt face value the old stamp was worth almost nothing.
- to be responsible for something, to be to blame for somethingThe truck driver was at fault for the terrible accident.
- at the beginningAt first, I did not want to go to the movie but I later changed my mind.
at first blush
- when first seen, without careful study, with your first impressionAt first blush, the man seemed like a good worker but later he was not good at all.
- within reach, nearbyI stopped working because I did not have any tools at hand.
- basically, fundamentallyThe woman is a nice person at heart although many people dislike her.
- in one`s houseI left my money at home so I had to borrow some.
at it again
- to be doing something againThe two boys were at it again. We could hear them fighting.
- to be free, to not be capturedThe criminal was at large for many months.
- finally, after a long timeI waited all morning for my friend's call until at last it came.
- no less thanThere were at least 60,000 people in the stadium.
- in detail, finallyThe speaker talked at length about the new product.
at loggerheads (with someone)
- to be having a quarrel or disagreement with someone, to oppose someoneWe are at loggerheads with the company over their plans to build a new factory.
at loose ends
- restless and unsettledMy friend's mother was at loose ends after her husband died.
at odds (with someone)
- in disagreement with someoneThe man has been at odds with his boss over his new sales territory.
- immediatelyThe police came at once after we called them.
at one sitting
- at one timeWe finished the food at one sitting.
- peaceful, happyThe woman was relaxed and at peace after her friend's funeral.
- without sequence or orderThe members of the team were chosen at random from among the regular players.
- in dangerThe children were at risk of getting sick when the disease spread in the school.
- to be on the sea, to be away on a voyage on the oceanMy grandfather was at sea for several months when he was a young man.
at sea (about something)
- to be confused about something, to be lostMost members of the class were at sea when the teacher tried to explain the difficult theory.
at sixes and sevens
- to be lost and bewilderedWe were at sixes and sevens when the local grocery store closed.
at (someone`s) beck and call
- to be always ready to serve someone or do something for someoneThe woman is always at her husband's beck and call.
at (someone's) earliest convenience
- when something is convenient for someoneI plan to speak to the bank manager at his earliest convenience.
at (someone`s) heels
- close behind someoneThe large car was at my heels while I was driving through the park.
at (someone's) service
- ready to help someone in any way possibleA member of the hotel staff was at our service during our visit.
- to be able to be won or lost, to be at riskMuch money was at stake during the negotiations for the new stadium.
at the appointed hour
- at the time that has been decidedAt the appointed hour, the team arrived at the stadium.
at the appointed time
- at the time that has been decidedWe went to meet our lawyer at the appointed time.
at the bottom of the hour
- at the half hour - 10:30, 11:30 etc. (at the bottom of a clock)The weather forecast is on the radio at the bottom of the hour.
at the bottom of the ladder
- at the lowest level of pay and status in a company or organizationI will start at the bottom of the ladder at my new job.
at the crack of dawn
- when the first light of the day appears, very early in the morningWe left for our holiday at the crack of dawn.
at the drop of a hat
- immediately and without any pressureMy friend will always help me at the drop of a hat.
at the eleventh hour
- at the last possible momentThe company and the union settled the strike at the eleventh hour.
at the end of one`s rope
- at the limit of one`s ability to cope or deal with somethingI am at the end of my rope about what to do about my problems at work.
at the end of the day
- when everything else has been taken into considerationAt the end of the day, it was impossible to get the money to build the house.
at the expense of (someone or something)
- to be to the harm of (someone or something)The man was very successful but it was at the expense of his family and health.
at the latest
- no later thanThe tour will start at noon at the latest.
at the outset (of something)
- from the first or early stage of somethingAt the outset of the meeting there were problems between some members of the group.
at the outside
- as the highest estimateWe can feed one hundred people at the outside during the seminar.
at the present time
- now, at presentAt the present time there are no extra helpers available.
at the top of one's lungs
- with a very loud voiceI cried out for my friend at the top of my lungs.
at the top of the hour
- at the beginning of the hour - 12:00, 1:00 etc. (at the top of a clock)The radio news always starts at the top of the hour.
at this juncture
- at the present timeAt this juncture there is no point to have a meeting.
at this stage of the game
- currently, at the current point in an activityAt this stage of the game, we cannot change the plans for the class trip.
- sometimes, occasionallyAt times, our teacher is very nice but at other times she is not nice.
- whenever one wants, freelyThe little boy was able to do what he wanted at will.
attend to (someone or something)
- to take care or deal with someone or somethingThe doctor attended to the patient.
attract (someone's) attention
- to cause someone to notice youThe strange behavior of the man attracted the policeman's attention.
attracted to (someone)
- to feel a physical or emotional attraction to someone, to be interested in someone in a romantic wayI was attracted to the woman at the party from the moment that I first met her.
augur well for (someone or something)
- to predict good things for someone or somethingThe poor business conditions do not augur well for the workers.
avail oneself of (something)
- to use something that is availableWe availed ourselves of the office space to prepare for the school festival.
avenue of escape
- the route along which someone or something escapesThere was no avenue of escape for the bank robbers.
average out at
- to calculate something as an averageThe cost of our hotels averaged out at much more than we expected.
avoid (someone or something) like the plague
- to avoid someone or something totallyThe girls avoided the new student like the plague.