The Idiom Connection Body Idioms and Quizzes






Body Idioms




Body Idioms

able to breathe easily again

- to be able to relax after a busy and stressful time

I was able to breathe easily again when I knew that I would not miss my flight.

able to breathe freely again

- to be able to relax after a busy and stressful time

I could breathe freely again when the exams were over.

as broad as a barn door

- very broad or fat

The flight attendant at the airport was as broad as a barn door.

as dry as a bone

- very dry

The river bed was as dry as a bone at the end of the summer.

as soft as a baby's bottom

- very soft and smooth

My new silk pajamas are as soft as a baby's bottom.

at each other's throats

- fighting or arguing all the time

The two boys were at each other's throats when they entered the room.

at the top of one`s lungs

- with a very loud voice

I yelled at the top of my lungs to get the man's attention.

(one's) back is against the wall

- one is in a very difficult position

The man's back was against the wall and there was nothing that he could do to change the situation.

back-to-back

- next to each other and touching backs

The students were sitting back-to-back as they exercised in the gym class.

bad blood (between people)

- anger or a bad relationship due to past problems with someone

There is much bad blood between the two supervisors.

bare bones (of something)

- the most basic and important parts of something

The company had to restructure and most services were cut to the bare bones of the operation.

behind (someone`s) back

- without someone's knowledge, secretly, when someone is absent

I do not like people who talk behind my back.

belly up

- bankrupt

The small video store near my house is now belly-up.

blood is thicker than water

- family members are closer to one another than to others

Blood is thicker than water and people usually support and help their family in times of trouble.

blood on the carpet

- much trouble

There was much blood on the carpet after the meeting.

blood runs cold

- terrified or horrified

My blood ran cold when I saw the poison spider on my bed.

blood, sweat, and tears

- great personal effort

We put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into fixing our old house.

blue blood

- the blood (family line) of a noble or aristocratic family

Many blue bloods attended the opening of the new opera.

a body blow

- something that causes something to be badly damaged or destroyed

The small food store was hit with a body blow when the large supermarket moved in next door.

a bone of contention

- something that people disagree about

The issue of working on Saturday evenings is a bone of contention between the store and the workers.

break into a cold sweat (about something)

- to become nervous or frightened about something

I broke into a cold sweat when I went to tell my teacher about my mistake.

break one`s back (to do something)

- to do all one possibly can, to work very hard to do something

I broke my back trying to help my friend with his project.

break one`s neck (to do something)

- to do all one possibly can, to work very hard to do something

I broke my neck to try and get the report finished on time.

a breath of fresh air

- new ideas or new energy or new ways of doing something

The new manager is a breath of fresh air in our company.

not breathe a word (about someone or something)

- to keep a secret about someone or something

"Please don't breathe a word about my new job to my supervisor."

breathe down (someone`s) neck

- to watch someone closely (often by standing right behind them), to pressure someone to do something

My boss has been breathing down my neck all day to pressure me to finish the report.

breathe easy/easier

- to relax after a busy and stressful time

I could breathe easy after I finished my essay and gave it to my teacher.

breathe one's last

- to die, to breathe one's last breath before dying

The elderly man breathed his last late yesterday evening.

broad in the beam

- wide hips or large buttocks

The woman is broad in the beam but she does not worry about it at all.

a bundle of nerves

- someone who is very nervous and anxious

I was a bundle of nerves after I finished studying for my exams.

bust a gut (to do something)

- to work very hard to do something, to strain oneself to do something

I had to bust a gut to get my work done before the weekend.

by the nape of one's neck

- by the back of the neck

The man picked up the cat by the nape of the neck.

by the sweat of one's brow

- by one's hard work or effort

The restaurant owner built his business by the sweat of his brow.

can't stomach (someone or something)

- to dislike someone or something very much

I cannot stomach the new woman who I work with.

carry one's (own) weight

- to do one's share of something

Everyone in the group had to carry his or her own weight during the project.

carry the weight of the world on one's shoulders

- to appear to be dealing with all the problems in the whole world

My friend has much stress and thinks that he is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.

catch one's breath

- to return to normal breathing after breathing very hard

I stopped at the top of the stairs to catch my breath.

chilled to the bone

- very cold

I was chilled to the bone after swimming in the cold lake.

close to the bone

- something (a story or remark) that is embarrassing or upsetting

The remarks of my boss hit close to the bone when he began to criticize my work habits.

contemplate one's navel

- to spend a lot of time thinking about one's own problems rather than being concerned about more important things

I spent the summer contemplating my navel and did not do a thing.

cover one's back

- to do something to protect yourself from criticism or future blame

I was very careful to cover my back when dealing with the lawyers.

a crick in one's back/neck

- a painful cramp in one's back or neck

I woke up this morning with a crick in my neck.

curdle (someone's) blood

- to frighten someone

The sight of the accident curdled my blood.

cut a fine figure

- to dress and look good

I cut a fine figure as I walked through the doors to interview for the job.

cut one`s (own) throat

- to experience certain failure, to do something that will cause problems now or in the future

My friend is cutting his own throat if he does not make an effort to find a new job quickly.

cut (something) to the bone

- to cut down severely on something, to severely reduce something

The company cut all of the extra expenses to the bone.

dead from the neck up

- to be very stupid

My boss seems to be dead from the neck up.

difficult to stomach (someone or something)

- to be unable to accept someone, to be unable to accept something that you think is unpleasant or wrong

It is difficult to stomach my friend when she begins to complain about things.

Don't hold your breath.

- Don't stop breathing to wait for something (because it will never happen).

"Don't hold your breath," I said when my friend asked when he would be able to borrow our friend's car.

down to the bone

- entirely, to the core

The rain and snow chilled me right down to the bone.

draw blood

- to make a wound that bleeds

The young boxer was the first to draw blood during the boxing match.

drop (something) into (someone's) lap

- to give a problem that you have to someone else to solve

My boss dropped much extra work into my lap just before my vacation.

dump (something) into (someone's) lap

- to give a problem that you have to someone else to solve

My supervisor dumped some extra work into my lap just before I was going home.

eyes are bigger than one's stomach

- taking more food than one can eat

My eyes were bigger than my stomach when I went to the buffet table and took too much food.

fall into one's lap

- to come to you by chance and good luck and without any effort on your part (used for an opportunity or chance)

My new position in my company fell into my lap last summer.

feel (something) in one's bones

- to sense something, to have an intuition about something

I feel it in my bones that I am not going to get the job that I want.

(one's) flesh and blood

- a close relative (father,daughter,brother etc.), a living human body

The man's own flesh and blood refused to help him when he needed money.

flex one's muscles

- to do something that shows that you have power and intend to use it

The new president of our company was flexing his muscles when he threatened to close one of the factories.

force (something) down (someone`s) throat

- to force someone to do or agree to something that they do not want or like

The government tried to force the new law down the public's throat.

get a frog in one's throat

- to get soreness in your throat that prevents you from talking well

I got a frog in my throat just as I answered the phone to talk to my professor.

get a lump in one's throat

- to feel like there is something in your throat as if you are going to cry

I got a lump in my throat as I listened to the tragic story of the woman's family.

get butterflies in one`s stomach

- to get a feeling of fear or anxiety in one's stomach

I got butterflies in my stomach just before I took the test.

get off (someone`s) back

- to stop criticizing or nagging someone

I wish that my mother would get off my back about trying to find a better job.

get on (someone's) nerves

- to irritate someone

The constant complaints of my coworkers get on my nerves.

get (someone's) back up

- to make someone become angry

I got my friend's back up when I asked to borrow her notes from school.

get (something) off one's chest

- to tell something that has been bothering you

I talked to my parents and I was able to get some things that were bothering me off my chest.

get (something) out of one's system

- to eliminate some food or medicine out of one's body, to get rid of the desire to do something (usually by doing what you want to do)

My friend went travelling last year and finally got travelling out of her system. Now she is happy to stay home and work.

get the cold shoulder (from someone)

- to be ignored or rejected (by someone)

I often get the cold shoulder from my coworker.

get under (someone`s) skin

- to bother or irritate someone

My neighbor is beginning to get under my skin with her constant complaining.

gird up one's loins

- to get ready to do something that will be difficult

I began to gird up my loins and work on my final essay.

give (someone) the cold shoulder

- to ignore someone, to reject someone

The office staff gave the man the cold shoulder when he did not go to the farewell party.

give (someone) the shirt off one's back

- to be very generous to someone

My friend is very generous and will be happy to give you the shirt off his back.

go for the jugular

- to attack someone in a way that you know will harm him or her most (the jugular is a large vein in the neck)

When the political candidate began to have problems the other candidates decided to go for the jugular and attack.

goose bumps

- the bumpy skin (like a goose) that one gets because of excitement or fear

I got goose bumps when the woman began to talk about her sick child.

grab (someone) by the throat

- to feel very interested or excited or frightened because of a performance or book or idea

The ballet performance grabbed the audience by the throat and everyone left the auditorium speechless.

grate on (someone's) nerves

- to annoy or bother someone

The woman who I work with grates on my nerves. She is very irritating.

a gut feeling/reaction/response

- a personal or intuitive feeling and response

I had a gut feeling that my friend was going to be late for our meeting.

hard to stomach (someone or something)

- to be unable to accept something, to be unable to do something that you think is unpleasant or wrong

I find the attitudes of some of my classmates hard to stomach.

hardly have time to breathe

- to be very busy

I hardly had time to breathe while I was preparing for the barbecue.

hate (someone's) guts

- to hate someone very much

I think that my neighbor hates my guts. He will never say hello to me.

have a chip on one's shoulder

- to have a tendency to try to get into a conflict with others

Our supervisor has a chip on his shoulder and is not an easy person to work with.

have a frog in one's throat

- to have soreness in your throat that prevents you from talking well

I had a frog in my throat this morning before I left my house.

have a lump in one's throat

- to feel like there is something in your throat as if you were going to cry

The man had a lump in his throat during his daugher's graduation.

have broad shoulders

- to have the ability to work hard and take on responsibilities and accept criticism (because you are strong with broad shoulders)

The man has broad shoulders and does more than his share of work in our company.

have butterflies in one`s stomach

- to have a feeling of fear or anxiety in one's stomach

The little boy had butterflies in his stomach when he gave the speech to the class.

have one's back to the wall

- to be in a defensive or difficult position

I have my back to the wall at work and I must deal with many problems.

have one's back up against the wall

- to be in a defensive or difficult position

The man has his back up against the wall and may have to quit his job soon.

have (someone's) blood on one's hands

- to be responsible for someone's death

The driver of the car had the passengers' blood on his hands after two people were killed in an accident.

have (someone's) hide

- to scold or punish someone (a hide is the skin of an animal)

The mother promised to have the little boy's hide if he did not behave well.

not have the stomach for (something)

- to have no desire to do something because you think that it is unpleasant or wrong

I do not have the stomach to talk with my friend about his work and financial problems.

head and shoulders above (someone or something)

- to be superior to someone or something

Our soccer coach is head and shoulders above the other coaches in the city.

hit a raw nerve

- to upset someone by talking about a subject that upsets or embarrasses him or her

It hit a raw nerve when my friend asked me about my former boyfriend.

hold one`s breath

- to stop breathing for a moment, to stop doing something and wait until something happens

I held my breath and waited to see if my name had been called for an interview with the movie company.

huff and puff

- to breathe very hard

I was huffing and puffing when I reached the top of the stairs.

in cold blood

- without feeling

The man was murdered in cold blood by a group of criminals.

in one breath

- spoken rapidly without stopping to breathe

I told my friend in one breath what happened at the party.

in one's blood

- to be built into one's personality or character

My cousin has music in her blood and is very good at it.

in the flesh

- in person, present

I finally was able to see my favorite movie actor in the flesh.

in the same breath

- almost at the same time

My friend was complaining about her teacher but in the same breath she said that she will continue with the class.

joined at the hip

- two people spending all their time together

The two boys are joined at the hip and never spend any time apart.

jump down (someone`s) throat

- to suddenly become very angry at someone

The man's wife jumped down his throat when he came home late.

jump out of one`s skin

- to be badly frightened, to be very surprised

I almost jumped out of my skin when I saw my boyfriend at the movie theater with another girl.

keep body and soul together

- to stay alive, to survive

The girl has been working very hard to keep body and soul together after her illness.

a kink in one's neck

- a cramp in one's neck that causes pain

I have a kink in my neck and it hurts when I turn my head.

know (something) in one's bones

- to know and sense something, to have an intuition about something

I know it in my bones that I am not going to pass my English exam.

know where all the bodies are buried

- to know all the important details and secrets about something

Our new boss knows where all the bodies are buried in our company and knows how to keep a secret.

land in (someone's) lap

- to come to you and you now have to deal with it (used for things like extra work)

Several resignations from our company landed in the personnel director's lap last Friday.

like getting blood out of a stone

- very difficult to get something from someone or something

It is like getting blood out of a stone to ask my friend for anything.

look over one's shoulder

- to be worried that something dangerous or bad may happen to you

I always look over my shoulder when I am walking next to a construction site.

make a clean breast of (something)

- to get something off one's chest, to confess something

I talked to my supervisor and tried to make a clean breast of my past problems in the company.

make no bones about (something)

- to make no mistake about something, to not doubt something

"Make no bones about it, I am not going to lend my friend any more money."

make (someone's) blood boil

- to make someone very angry

It makes my blood boil to think about what happened to my coworker.

make (someone's) blood run cold

- to shock or horrify someone

It made my blood run cold when I saw the little boy run into the road.

make (someone's) flesh crawl

- to become frightened so that your skin feels funny or you get goose bumps

The movie was very scary and from the beginning it made my flesh crawl.

a millstone around (someone's) neck

- a burden or handicap for someone

My parents' condominium is a millstone around their neck and they want to sell it.

(not) move a muscle

- to not move at all

I did not move a muscle when the large dog approached me on the street.

neck and neck

- exactly even in a race or contest

The two horses were neck and neck at the end of the race.

new blood

- new members brought into a group, new workers in a company

We have lots of new blood in our club.

No sweat!

- No problem! No difficulty!

"No sweat. I will finish work early and then drive you to the airport."

off one`s back

- to not bother someone, to remove someone or something as an annoyance

I wish my boss would get off my back and stop bothering me.

off one`s chest

- something is removed so that it does not bother you anymore

I talked to my friend for a long time and I was able to get some problems off my chest.

on (someone`s) back

- constantly criticizing someone, pressuring someone

My sister is always on her daughter's back to clean up her room.

on (someone's) shoulders

- someone's responsibility

I do not want to have the failure of the project on my shoulders.

out for blood

- to be very determined to defeat or punish someone, to be very angry at someone

My boss was out for blood when he discovered that someone had deleted some files on his computer.

out of breath

- breathing fast and hard

I was out of breath after I ran to catch the train.

over my dead body

- not if I can stop you

I told my friend that I would lend him money only over my dead body.

a pain in the neck

- an annoying or bothersome person or event

Our customer is a pain in the neck and is always complaining about something.

pare (something) to the bone

- to cut down severely on something, to severely reduce something

We recently pared our household expenses to the bone.

a pat on the back

- praise, congratulations, encouragement

The man was given a pat on the back for his efforts to stop pollution in the river.

play one's cards close to one's chest

- to negotiate in a careful and private manner

I played my cards close to my chest when I went to talk to my supervisor about changing jobs.

press the flesh

- to shake hands with people in order to become more popular (often used for a politician)

The politician spent most of the weekend pressing the flesh in the shopping mall.

pull one's (own) weight

- to do one's share of something

The woman at the bank will not pull her own weight so nobody likes her.

put flesh on (something)

- to add details to something so that it becomes clearer and more detailed

I worked all weekend to try and put flesh on my ideas for a company proposal.

put hair on one's chest

- to be good for someone (something that you eat or drink)

I told my friend that vegetable juice will put hair on his chest.

put one's back into (something)

- to use great physical or mental energy to do something

We put our backs into trying to move the freezer out of the basement.

put one's shoulder to the wheel

- to get busy and do some work

We must put our shoulders to the wheel and get our work done early.

ram (something) down (someone`s) throat

- to force someone to do or agree to something that they do not want or like

My friend is always ramming his opinions down our throats.

rip (someone) limb from limb

- to attack someone in a violent way

The cat ripped the stuffed toy limb from limb.

risk one's neck (to do something)

- to risk harm in order to do something

The fireman risked his neck to save the young child.

rub elbows with (someone)

- to be in the same place as someone, to meet and mix with others

The small restaurant is very popular and you can rub elbows with different types of people.

rub shoulders with (someone)

- to be in the same place as someone, to meet and mix with others

We went to the party and were able to rub shoulders with some interesting artists.

save one`s breath

- to keep silent because talking will do no good

"You can save your breath and not bother talking to him. He never listens to anyone."

save (someone`s) neck/skin

- to save someone from danger or trouble or embarrassment

The worker tried to save his own neck without thinking about other people.

say (something) under one's breath

- to say something so softly that nobody can hear it

The clerk in the store said something under her breath about the customer.

scratch (someone`s) back

- to do someone a favor in the hope that they will do something for you

If you scratch the supervisor's back he will help you when you need help.

shoot from the hip

- to speak directly and frankly, to fire a gun that is held at one's side and against one's hip

Our manager always shoots from the hip and everyone likes her because of that.

a shoulder to cry on

- someone to whom you can tell your problems to and then ask for sympathy and advice

I gave my friend a shoulder to cry on when I met him at the coffee shop.

shoulder to shoulder

- side by side, with a shared purpose

The children were standing shoulder to shoulder during the exercise class.

shove (something) down (someone`s) throat

- to force someone to do or agree to something that they do not want or like

The workers were angry because the company tried to shove the new work rules down their throats.

skeleton in (someone's) closet

- a hidden and shocking secret

The politician had a skeleton in his closet that he did not want anyone to know about.

skin and bones

- a person or animal that is very thin or skinny

The dog was skin and bones after his owner stopped giving him food.

skin-deep

- on the surface only, not having any deep or honest meaning

I believe that the speaker's interest in the environment is only skin-deep.

slit one`s (own) throat

- to experience certain failure, to do something that will cause problems now or in the future

The man is slitting his own throat to come to work late every day.

smell blood

- to sense an opponent's weakness or vulnerability

The reporters could smell blood when they began to investigate the politicians and the scandal.

soaked to the skin

- one's clothing is wet right through to the skin

I was soaked to the skin after walking in the rain.

split one's sides (with laughter)

- to laugh so hard that one's sides almost split

I split my sides with laughter when I heard the story about my friend.

stab (someone) in the back

- to betray someone

My friend stabbed me in the back although I helped him find a job.

stick in (someone's) throat/craw

- an idea or situation that is difficult for you to accept and irritates or displeases you

The customer's attitude sticks in my throat and I am happy to see him leave.

stick one`s neck out (for someone or something)

- to do something dangerous or risky for someone

My friend will never stick his neck out to help other people.

stick to one's ribs

- to last a long time and fill one up (used for food)

The rice and beans stuck to my ribs and I was not hungry for a long time.

straight from the shoulder

- an open and honest way of speaking

The manager was speaking straight from the shoulder when he told the workers about the factory closing.

strike a raw nerve

- to upset someone by talking about a subject that upsets or embarrasses him or her

The discussion about death struck a raw nerve in the woman.

sweat blood

- to be very anxious and tense about something

I began to sweat blood when I heard that some of our staff may be transferred to another city.

sweat it out

- to wait patiently until something bad or unpleasant ends

We had to sweat it out with no food while our car was being repaired.

take (someone's) breath away

- to overwhelm someone with beauty or grandeur, to cause someone to be out of breath

The beauty of the mountain lake took my breath away.

take (someone's) pulse

- to measure the frequency of the beats of a person's pulse

The ambulance driver took the pulse of the woman.

tan (someone's) hide

- to spank or beat someone

The angry mother threatened to tan her child's hide.

taste blood

- to be able to harm an opponent and therefore want to try to do even more harm

I could taste blood when I discovered the weak points of my opponent.

tear (someone) limb from limb

- to attack someone in a violent way

The dogs attacked the cat and tore it limb from limb.

thick-skinned

- insensitive, not easily upset or hurt

You must be thick-skinned if you decide to get involved in politics.

thin-skinned

- easily upset or hurt, very sensitive

My friend is thin-skinned and is always upset about something that someone says to her.

a thorn in (someone's) side

- a constant bother or annoyance to someone

The teacher is a thorn in the principal's side and is always complaining about something.

throw one's weight around

- to give orders, to attempt to boss people around

The new supervisor likes to throw his weight around the company.

time to catch one's breath

- enough time to relax or behave normally

I did not have time to catch my breath while I was getting ready for the convention.

to the bone

- entirely, to the core

I was wet to the bone after walking in the rain for two hours.

too rich for (someone's) blood

- to be too expensive for someone's budget

The holiday in the expensive resort was too rich for our blood so we did not go.

touch a raw nerve

- to upset someone by talking about a subject that upsets or embarrasses him or her

The criticism from the supervisor touched a raw nerve in the secretary.

turn one`s back on (someone or something)

- to refuse to help someone who is in trouble or need

The woman turned her back on her friend when the friend asked her for money.

turn (someone`s) stomach

- to make someone feel sick, to disgust someone

The sight of the dead dog on the road turned my stomach.

up to one's ears (in something)

- to have a lot of something, to be much involved or busy with something

My friend is up to her ears in her science project at the moment.

up to one's eyeballs (in something)

- to have a lot of something, to be much involved or busy with something

I was up to my eyeballs in homework all weekend.

up to one's neck (in something)

- to have a lot of something, to be much involved or busy with something

I am up to my neck in work at the moment and will not be able to attend the dinner tonight.

vent one's spleen

- to get rid of one's feelings of anger by attacking someone or something

I went for a coffee with one of my coworkers who spent the whole time venting her spleen about her job.

wait with bated breath

- to wait anxiously for something

I waited with bated breath for the results of my exams.

warts and all

- including all one's faults and disadvantages

I talked to my friend and told him everything - warts and all.

waste one's breath

- to waste one's time talking, to talk in vain

I am wasting my breath to ask my parents to use the car this weekend.

wet one's whistle

- to have a drink (one's whistle is one's throat)

I stopped at a small cafe near the beach to wet my whistle.

with both hands tied behind one's back

- easily, even under a severe handicap

I did my science project with both hands tied behind my back.

with every (other) breath

- repeatedly or continually saying something

My friend tells me with every other breath that she does not like my boyfriend.

with one hand tied behind one's back

- easily, even under a severe handicap

The project was hard to manage because I had to operate with one hand tied behind my back.

words stick in one's throat

- one can hardly speak because he or she is so overcome by emotion

I tried to ask the girl for a date but the words stuck in my throat and I could not say anything.

wring (someone's) neck

- to be extremely angry at someone

I want to wring my friend's neck for breaking my new laptop computer.

yellow-bellied

- extremely timid, cowardly

The new supervisor handled the matter in a yellow-bellied manner.

a yoke around (someone's) neck

- a burden for someone, something that oppresses people

The legal problems of my friend were a yoke around his neck.

You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.

- if you do me a favor then I will do you a favor

"You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours," is a common expression in the construction industry.

Back Idioms


(one's) back is against the wall

- one is in a very difficult position

The man's back was against the wall and there was nothing that he could do to change the situation.

back-to-back

- next to each other and touching backs

The students were sitting back-to-back as they exercised in the gym class.

behind (someone`s) back

- without someone's knowledge, secretly, when someone is absent

I do not like people who talk behind my back.

break one`s back (to do something)

- to do all one possibly can, to work very hard to do something

I broke my back trying to help my friend with his project.

cover one's back

- to do something to protect yourself from criticism or future blame

I was very careful to cover my back when dealing with the lawyers.

a crick in one's back

- a painful cramp in one's back

I woke up this morning with a crick in my back.

get off (someone`s) back

- to stop criticizing or nagging someone

I wish that my mother would get off my back about trying to find a better job.

get (someone's) back up

- to make someone become angry

I got my friend's back up when I asked to borrow her notes from school.

give (someone) the shirt off one's back

- to be very generous to someone

My friend is a very generous person and will be happy to give you the shirt off his back.

have one's back to the wall

- to be in a defensive or difficult position

I have my back to the wall at work and I must deal with many problems.

have one's back up against the wall

- to be in a defensive or difficult position

The man has his back up against the wall and may have to quit his job soon.

off one`s back

- to not bother someone, to remove someone or something as an annoyance

I wish my boss would get off my back and stop bothering me.

on (someone`s) back

- constantly criticizing someone, pressuring someone

My sister is always on her daughter's back to clean up her room.

a pat on the back

- praise, congratulations, encouragement

The man was given a pat on the back for his efforts to stop pollution in the river.

put one's back into (something)

- to use great physical or mental energy to do something

We put our backs into trying to move the freezer out of the basement.

scratch (someone`s) back

- to do someone a favor in the hope that they will do something for you

If you scratch the supervisor's back he will help you when you need help.

stab (someone) in the back

- to betray someone

My friend stabbed me in the back although I helped him get a job.

turn one`s back on (someone or something)

- to refuse to help someone who is in trouble or need

The woman turned her back on her friend when the friend asked her for some money.

with both hands tied behind one's back

- easily, even under a severe handicap

I did my science project with both hands tied behind my back.

with one hand tied behind one's back

- easily, even under a severe handicap

The project was hard to manage because I had to operate with one hand tied behind my back.

You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.

- if you do me a favor then I will do you a favor

"You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours," is a common expression in the construction industry.

Blood Idioms


bad blood (between people)

- anger or a bad relationship due to past problems with someone

There is much bad blood between the two supervisors.

blood is thicker than water

- family members are closer to one another than to others

Blood is thicker than water and people usually support and help their family in times of trouble.

blood on the carpet

- much trouble

There was much blood on the carpet after the meeting.

blood runs cold

- terrified or horrified

My blood ran cold when I saw the poison spider on my bed.

blood, sweat, and tears

- great personal effort

We put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into fixing our old house.

blue blood

- the blood (family line) of a noble or aristocratic family

Many blue bloods attended the opening of the new opera.

curdle (someone's) blood

- to frighten someone

The sight of the accident curdled my blood.

draw blood

- to make a wound that bleeds

The young boxer was the first to draw blood during the boxing match.

(one's) flesh and blood

- a close relative (father,daughter,brother etc.), a living human body

The man's own flesh and blood refused to help him when he needed money.

go for the jugular

- to attack someone in a way that you know will harm him or her most (the jugular is a large vein in the neck)

When the political candidate began to have problems the other candidates decided to go for the jugular and attack.

have (someone's) blood on one's hands

- to be responsible for someone's death

The driver of the car had the passengers' blood on his hands after two people were killed in an accident.

in cold blood

- without feeling

The man was murdered in cold blood by a group of criminals.

in one's blood

- to be built into one's personality or character

My cousin has music in her blood and is very good at it.

like getting blood out of a stone

- very difficult to get something from someone or something

It is like getting blood out of a stone to ask my friend for anything.

make (someone's) blood boil

- to make someone very angry

It makes my blood boil to think about what happened to my coworker.

make (someone's) blood run cold

- to shock or horrify someone

It made my blood run cold when I saw the little boy run into the road.

new blood

- new members brought into a group, new workers in a company

We have lots of new blood in our club.

out for blood

- to be very determined to defeat or punish someone, to be very angry at someone

My boss was out for blood when he discovered that someone had deleted some files on his computer.

smell blood

- to sense an opponent's weakness or vulnerability

The reporters could smell blood when they began to investigate the politicians and the scandal.

sweat blood

- to be very anxious and tense about something

I began to sweat blood when I heard that some of our staff may be transferred to another city.

taste blood

- to be able to harm an opponent and therefore want to try to do even more harm

I could taste blood when I discovered the weak points of my opponent.

too rich for (someone's) blood

- to be too expensive for someone's budget

The holiday in the expensive resort was too rich for our blood so we did not go.

Bone Idioms


as dry as a bone

- very dry

The river bed was as dry as a bone at the end of the summer.

bare bones (of something)

- the most basic and important parts of something

The company had to restructure and most services were cut to the bare bones of the operation.

a bone of contention

- something that people disagree about

The issue of working on Saturday evenings is a bone of contention between the store and the workers.

chilled to the bone

- very cold

I was chilled to the bone after swimming in the cold lake.

close to the bone

- something (a story or remark) that is embarrassing or upsetting

The remarks of my boss hit close to the bone when he began to criticize my work habits.

cut (something) to the bone

- to cut down severely on something, to severely reduce something

The company cut all of the extra expenses to the bone.

down to the bone

- entirely, to the core

The rain and snow chilled me right down to the bone.

feel (something) in one's bones

- to sense something, to have an intuition about something

I feel it in my bones that I am not going to get the job that I want.

know (something) in one's bones

- to know and sense something, to have an intuition about something

I know it in my bones that I am not going to pass my English exam.

make no bones about (something)

- to make no mistake about something, to not doubt something

"Make no bones about it, I am not going to lend my friend any more money."

pare (something) to the bone

- to cut down severely on something, to severely reduce something

We recently pared our household expenses to the bone.

skeleton in (someone's) closet

- a hidden and shocking secret

The politician had a skeleton in his closet that he did not want anyone to know about.

skin and bones

- a person or animal that is very thin or skinny

The dog was skin and bones after his owner stopped giving him food.

to the bone

- entirely, to the core

I was wet to the bone after walking in the rain for two hours.

Breathe/Breath Idioms


able to breathe easily again

- to be able to relax after a busy and stressful time

I was able to breathe easily again when I knew that I would not miss my flight.

able to breathe freely again

- to be able to relax after a busy and stressful time

I was able to breathe freely again when the exams were over.

at the top of one`s lungs

- with a very loud voice

I yelled at the top of my lungs to get the man's attention.

a breath of fresh air

- new ideas or new energy or new ways of doing something

The new manager is a breath of fresh air in our company.

not breathe a word (about someone or something)

- to keep a secret about someone or something

"Please don't breathe a word about my new job to my supervisor."

breathe down (someone`s) neck

- to watch someone closely (often by standing right behind them), to pressure someone to do something

My boss has been breathing down my neck all day to pressure me to finish the report.

breathe easy/easier

- to relax after a busy and stressful time

I could breathe easy after I finished my essay and gave it to my teacher.

breathe one's last

- to die, to breathe one's last breath before dying

The elderly man breathed his last late yesterday evening.

catch one's breath

- to return to normal breathing after breathing very hard

I stopped at the top of the stairs to catch my breath.

Don't hold your breath.

- Don't stop breathing to wait for something (because it will never happen).

"Don't hold your breath," I said when my friend asked when he would be able to borrow our friend's car.

hardly have time to breathe

- to be very busy

I hardly had time to breathe while I was preparing for the barbecue.

hold one`s breath

- to stop breathing for a moment, to stop doing something and wait until something happens

I held my breath and waited to see if my name had been called for an interview with the movie company.

huff and puff

- to breathe very hard

I was huffing and puffing when I reached the top of the stairs.

in one breath

- spoken rapidly without stopping to breathe

I told my friend in one breath what happened at the party.

in the same breath

- almost at the same time

My friend was complaining about her teacher but in the same breath she said that she will continue with the class.

out of breath

- breathing fast and hard

I was out of breath after I ran to catch the train.

save one`s breath

- to keep silent because talking will do no good

"You can save your breath and not bother talking to him. He never listens to anyone."

say (something) under one's breath

- to say something so softly that nobody can hear it

The clerk in the store said something under her breath about the customer.

take (someone's) breath away

- to overwhelm someone with beauty or grandeur, to cause someone to be out of breath

The beauty of the mountain lake took my breath away.

time to catch one's breath

- enough time to relax or behave normally

I did not have time to catch my breath while I was getting ready for the convention.

wait with bated breath

- to wait anxiously for something

I waited with bated breath for the results of my exams.

waste one's breath

- to waste one's time talking, to talk in vain

I am wasting my breath to ask my parents to use the car this weekend.

with every (other) breath

- repeatedly or continually saying something

My friend tells me with every other breath that she does not like my boyfriend.

Neck Idioms


break one`s neck (to do something)

- to do all one possibly can, to work very hard to do something

I broke my neck to try and get the report finished on time.

breathe down (someone`s) neck

- to watch someone closely (often by standing right behind them), to pressure someone to do something

My boss has been breathing down my neck all day to pressure me to finish the report.

a crick in one's neck

- a painful cramp in one's neck

I woke up this morning with a crick in my neck.

dead from the neck up

- to be very stupid

My boss seems to be dead from the neck up.

a kink in one's neck

- a cramp in one's neck that causes pain

I have a kink in my neck and it hurts when I turn my head.

a millstone around (someone's) neck

- a burden or handicap for someone

My parents' condominium is a millstone around their neck and they want to sell it.

neck and neck

- exactly even in a race or contest

The two horses were neck and neck at the end of the race.

a pain in the neck

- an annoying or bothersome person or event

Our customer is a pain in the neck and is always complaining about something.

risk one's neck (to do something)

- to risk harm in order to do something

The fireman risked his neck to save the young child.

save (someone`s) neck/skin

- to save someone from danger or trouble or embarrassment

The worker tried to save his own neck without thinking about other people.

stick one`s neck out (for someone or something)

- to do something dangerous or risky for someone

My friend will never stick his neck out to help other people.

up to one's neck (in something)

- to have a lot of something, to be much involved or busy with something

I am up to my neck in work at the moment and will not be able to attend the dinner tonight.

wring (someone's) neck

- to be extremely angry at someone

I want to wring my friend's neck for breaking my new laptop computer.

a yoke around (someone's) neck

- a burden for someone, something that oppresses people

The legal problems of my friend were a yoke around his neck.

Shoulder Idioms


carry the weight of the world on one's shoulders

- to appear to be dealing with all the problems in the whole world

My friend has much stress and thinks that he is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.

get the cold shoulder (from someone)

- to be ignored or rejected (by someone)

I often get the cold shoulder from my coworker..

give (someone) the cold shoulder

- to ignore someone, to reject someone

The office staff gave the man the cold shoulder when he did not go to the farewell party.

have a chip on one's shoulder

- to have a tendency to try to get into a conflict with others

Our supervisor has a chip on his shoulder and is not an easy person to work with.

have broad shoulders

- to have the ability to work hard and take on responsibilities and accept criticism (because you are strong with broad shoulders)

The man has broad shoulders and does more than his share of work in our company.

head and shoulders above (someone or something)

- to be superior to someone or something

Our soccer coach is head and shoulders above the other coaches in the city.

look over one's shoulder

- to be worried that something dangerous or bad may happen to you

I always look over my shoulder when I am walking next to a construction site.

on (someone's) shoulders

- someone's responsibility

I do not want to have the failure of the project on my shoulders.

put one's shoulder to the wheel

- to get busy and do some work

We must put our shoulders to the wheel and get our work done early.

rub shoulders with (someone)

- to be in the same place as others, to meet and mix with others

We went to the party and were able to rub shoulders with some interesting artists.

a shoulder to cry on

- someone to whom you can tell your problems to and then ask for sympathy and advice

I gave my friend a shoulder to cry on when I met him at the coffee shop.

shoulder to shoulder

- side by side, with a shared purpose

The children were standing shoulder to shoulder during the exercise class.

straight from the shoulder

- an open and honest way of speaking

The manager was speaking straight from the shoulder when he told the workers about the factory closing.

Skin Idioms


as soft as a baby's bottom

- very soft and smooth

My new silk pajamas are as soft as a baby's bottom.

get under (someone`s) skin

- to bother or irritate someone

My neighbor is beginning to get under my skin with her constant complaining.

goose bumps

- the bumpy skin (like a goose) that one gets because of excitement or fear

I got goose bumps when the woman began to talk about her sick child.

jump out of one`s skin

- to be badly frightened, to be very surprised

I almost jumped out of my skin when I saw my boyfriend at the movie theater with another girl.

save (someone`s) skin

- to save someone from danger or trouble or embarrassment

The worker tried to save his own skin without thinking about other people.

skin and bones

- a person or animal that is very thin or skinny

The dog was skin and bones after his owner stopped giving him food.

skin-deep

- on the surface only, not having any deep or honest meaning

I believe that the speaker's interest in the environment is only skin-deep.

soaked to the skin

- one's clothing is wet right through to the skin

I was soaked to the skin after walking in the rain.

thick-skinned

- insensitive, not easily upset or hurt

You must be thick-skinned if you decide to get involved in politics.

thin-skinned

- easily upset or hurt, very sensitive

My friend is thin-skinned and is always upset about something that someone says to her.

Stomach Idioms


can't stomach (someone or something)

- to dislike someone or something very much

I cannot stomach the new woman who I work with.

contemplate one's navel

- to spend a lot of time thinking about one's own problems rather than being concerned about more important things

I spent the summer contemplating my navel and did not do a thing.

difficult to stomach (someone or something)

- to be unable to accept someone, to be unable to accept something that you think is unpleasant or wrong

It is difficult to stomach my friend when she begins to complain about things.

eyes are bigger than one's stomach

- taking more food than one can eat

My eyes were bigger than my stomach when I went to the buffet table and took too much food.

get butterflies in one`s stomach

- to get a feeling of fear or anxiety in one's stomach

I got buterflies in my stomach just before I took the test.

hard to stomach (someone or something)

- to be unable to accept something, to be unable to do something that you think is unpleasant or wrong

I find the attitudes of some of my classmates hard to stomach.

have butterflies in one`s stomach

- to have a feeling of fear or anxiety in one's stomach

The little boy had butterflies in his stomach when he gave the speech in front of the class.

not have the stomach for (something)

- to have no desire to do something because you think that it is unpleasant or wrong

I do not have the stomach to talk with my friend about his work and financial problems.

turn (someone`s) stomach

- to make someone feel sick, to disgust someone

The sight of the dead dog on the road turned my stomach.

Sweat Idioms


blood, sweat, and tears

- great personal effort

We put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into fixing our old house.

break into a cold sweat (about something)

- to become nervous or frightened about something

I broke into a cold sweat when I went to tell my teacher about my mistake.

by the sweat of one's brow

- by one's hard work or effort

The restaurant owner built his business by the sweat of his brow.

sweat blood

- to be very anxious and tense about something

I began to sweat blood when I heard that some of our staff may be transferred to another city.

sweat it out

- to wait patiently until something bad or unpleasant ends

We had to sweat it out with no food while our car was being repaired.

Throat Idioms


at each other's throats

- fighting or arguing all the time

The two boys were at each other's throats when they entered the room.

cut one`s (own) throat

- to experience certain failure, to do something that will cause problems now or in the future

My friend is cutting his own throat if he does not make an effort to find a new job quickly.

force (something) down (someone`s) throat

- to force someone to do or agree to something that they do not want or like

The government tried to force the new law down the public's throat.

get a frog in one's throat

- to get soreness in your throat that prevents you from talking well

I got a frog in my throat just as I answered the phone to talk to my professor.

get a lump in one's throat

- to feel like there is something in your throat as if you are going to cry

I got a lump in my throat as I listened to the tragic story of the woman's family.

grab (someone) by the throat

- to feel very interested or excited or frightened because of a performance or book or idea

The ballet performance grabbed the audience by the throat and everyone left the auditorium speechless.

have a frog in one's throat

- to have soreness in your throat that prevents you from talking well

I had a frog in my throat this morning before I left my house.

have a lump in one's throat

- to feel like there is something in your throat as if you were going to cry

The man had a lump in his throat during his daugher's graduation.

jump down (someone`s) throat

- to suddenly become very angry at someone

The man's wife jumped down his throat when he came home late.

ram (something) down (someone`s) throat

- to force someone to do or agree to something that they do not want or like

My friend is always ramming his opinions down our throats.

shove (something) down (someone`s) throat

- to force someone to do or agree to something that they do not want or like

The workers were angry because the company tried to shove the new work rules down their throats.

slit one`s (own) throat

- to experience certain failure, to do something that will cause problems now or in the future

The man is slitting his own throat to come to work late every day.

stick in (someone's) throat

- an idea or situation that is difficult for you to accept and irritates or displeases you

The customer's attitude sticks in my throat and I am happy to see him leave.

wet one's whistle

- to have a drink (one's whistle is one's throat)

I stopped at a small cafe near the beach to wet my whistle.

words stick in one's throat

- one can hardly speak because he or she is so overcome by emotion

I tried to ask the girl for a date but the words stuck in my throat and I could not say anything.


Idiom Quizzes - Body

    Choose an idiom to replace the expression in the brackets:

  1. There is a lot of (anger) between my friend and myself.

    (a) new blood (b) bad blood (c) flesh and blood (d) blood, sweat, and tears



  2. The woman (refused to help) her son when he lost his job and needed some money.

    (a) turned her back on (b) sweat it out for (c) got off the back of (d) put her shoulder to the wheel for



  3. When I saw the dead horse it (made me sick).

    (a) made my blood boil (b) scratched my back (c) turned my stomach (d) grated on my nerves



  4. I cried out (as loud as possible) to stop the child from running into the street.

    (a) all in one breath (b) in the flesh (c) straight from the shoulder (d) at the top of my lungs



  5. It was wet and cold out so when I returned home I was wet (throughout my body).

    (a) shoulder to shoulder (b) neck and neck (c) to the bone (d) behind my back



  6. The woman is (trying her hardest) to finish painting her house before it rains.

    (a) breaking into a cold sweat (b) out for blood (c) getting under my skin (d) breaking her neck



  7. My supervisor (suddenly became angry at me) when I was late for the meeting.

    (a) jumped down my throat (b) jumped out of her skin (c) took my breath away (d) risked her neck



  8. There was a scandal in the company and the president quickly tried to (protect himself).

    (a) save his breath (b) save his neck (c) cut a fine figure (d) throw his weight around



  9. The girl never eats and is (very skinny).

    (a) skin-deep (b) broad in the beam (c) skin and bones (d) a bundle of nerves



  10. My friend never wants to (do anything extra or risky) to help others.

    (a) stick his neck out (b) get his back up (c) waste his breath (d) press the flesh



  11. He is (hurting his own chances) if he does not take a training course with the other members of the group.

    (a) busting a gut (b) venting his spleen (c) thin-skinned (d) cutting his own throat



  12. The man at the video store is (an obnoxious person).

    (a) a pain in the neck (b) a pat on the back (c) a stab in the back (d) a breath of fresh air



  13. The other runners were (following closely behind me) during the marathon.

    (a) holding my breath (b) out of breath (c) breathing down my neck (d) sweating blood



  14. He gave me (unfriendly treatment) when I saw him at the restaurant.

    (a) time to catch my breath (b) the cold shoulder (c) a bone of contention (d) a shoulder to cry on



  15. I do not want to have his resignation from the company (as my responsibility).

    (a) off my chest (b) over my dead body (c) in my blood (d) on my shoulders



  16. My father is always (pressuring me) to help him clean up the yard at home.

    (a) pulling his weight (b) splitting his sides with laughter (c) on my back (d) covering his back



  17. The car at the showroom is (too expensive for me).

    (a) chilled to the bone (b) too rich for my blood (c) a kink in my neck (d) a millstone around my neck



  18. The woman who I work with has many habits that (irritate me).

    (a) have my words stick in my throat (b) give me the shirt off her back (c) land in my lap (d) get on my nerves



  19. The two boys were (fighting) all morning.

    (a) at each other's throats (b) back-to-back (c) soaked to the skin (d) head and shoulders above each other



  20. I spent several days (adding details to) my proposal for the new children's playground.

    (a) saying something under my breath for (b) making a clean breast of (c) drawing blood for (d) putting flesh on



  21. When I finally discovered that I had passed the university entrance exam I was able to (relax).

    (a) huff and puff (b) breathe easy (c) shoot from the hip (d) breathe my last



  22. I was (very busy with) work last night so I could not go to a movie.

    (a) not breathing a word about (b) wetting my whistle with (c) up to my ears in (d) dead from the neck up with



    Return to Main Index