THE IDIOM CONNECTION
- an illegal court formed by a group of people to settle a dispute among themselvesThere was a kangaroo court in movie after the ranchers arrested the criminal.
Katie bar the door
- get ready for trouble, a desperate situation is at handThe gang arrived at the hotel and were ready to come in and fight when the owner yelled, "Katie bar the door."
- to fall over and faintThree members of the band keeled over because of the heat.
- to turn upside down, to tip overThe boat keeled over in the middle of the lake but everybody was safe.
keen on (someone or something)
- to be enthusiastic about someone or somethingMy girlfriend is keen on going to a movie this weekend.
keep a civil tongue
- to speak decently and politelyThe angry customer was asked to keep a civil tongue when talking with the sales clerk.
keep a close rein on (someone or something)
- to strictly watch and control someone or somethingThe mother was keeping a close rein on her child at the shopping center.
keep a close watch on (someone or something)
- to monitor or observe someone or somethingThe woman always keeps a close watch on her child when she is at the shopping center.
keep a close watch over (someone or something)
- to guard or care for someone or somethingI kept a close watch over the soup while it was cooking.
keep a secret
- to not tell a secret to othersI am trying to keep a secret about my friend's boyfriend.
keep a stiff upper lip
- to be brave, to face trouble bravelyThe storm victims tried hard to keep a stiff upper lip in the difficult situation.
keep a straight face
- to stop oneself from smiling or laughingIt was difficult to keep a straight face when the man fell off his chair.
keep a tight rein on (someone or something)
- to strictly watch and control someone or somethingOur principal keeps a tight rein on what is being taught in the school.
keep abreast of (something)
- to keep informed about somethingI read the newspaper so that I can keep abreast of current events.
keep after/at (someone)
- to remind someone over and over about somethingI always have to keep after my friend to remember her homework.
keep an eye on (someone or something)
- to watch and take care of something (not just look at something)"Will you keep an eye on the baby while I go to the store."
keep an eye out for (someone or something)
- to watch for the arrival or appearance of someone or somethingI kept an eye out for a restaurant after I arrived in the small town.
keep at (something)
- to persist with somethingMy cousin has decided to keep at his studies and I am sure that he will succeed.
keep away from (someone or something)
- to stay at a distance from someone or something, to avoid the use of somethingI told the child to keep away from the busy street.
The child was told to keep away from fire.
keep body and soul together
- to keep alive, to surviveIt was very cold in the mountains but somehow the hiker was able to keep body and soul together and survived.
- to keep records of money gained and spent, to do the work of a bookkeeperMy first job was to keep books for a small company in my hometown.
keep company with (someone)
- to associate with or spend much time with someoneI like to keep company with my friends from university.
- to stay calmThe police officers were trained to keep cool in difficult situations.
keep down (something) or keep (something) down
- to keep something from progressing or growing, to keep within limits, to control somethingThe students were told to keep down the noise as the other class was taking an exam.
keep from (doing something)
- to prevent or refrain from doing somethingI love ice cream and could not keep from eating three bowls.
keep good time
- to work accurately (used for a clock or watch)My watch has not been keeping good time lately.
keep harping on (something)
- to continue to talk or complain about somethingThe boy's father keeps harping on the fact that his son never does his homework.
- to look after a house or a householdThe girl has been keeping house for her father while he is sick.
keep in touch (with someone)
- to talk or write to someone, to maintain contact with someoneI have always tried to keep in touch with my friends from high school.
keep late hours
- to stay up late, to stay out until very lateMy friend keeps late hours now that he is working for the newspaper.
keep off (something)
- to stay off someone's land or other propertyThe students were asked to keep off the grass which was being replanted.
keep on an even keel
- to remain cool and calmI was busy with my job and school but I tried hard to keep on an even keel and get everything done.
keep on (doing something)
- to continue doing somethingThe girl is careless and keeps on making the same mistakes over and over.
keep on one's toes
- to stay alert and watchfulI try to keep on my toes when the teacher may ask me a question.
keep one`s chin up
- to be brave, to be determined"Try and keep your chin up. Things will be better in the future."
keep one`s cool
- to stay or remain calmI tried to keep my cool during the argument with my neighbor.
keep one's distance from (someone or something)
- to maintain a certain distance from someone or somethingThe girl always keeps her distance from the other students in the class.
keep one`s eye on the ball
- to be watchful and ready for something"You should keep your eye on the ball or you will make a mistake."
keep one's eyes open
- to remain alert and watchful for someone or something"Please keep your eyes open for a good place to eat so we can have lunch."
keep one's feet on the ground
- to remain firmly establishedMy friend lost his job but he is trying hard to keep his feet on the ground.
keep one`s fingers crossed
- to wish for good results in something that one is doing"Please keep your fingers crossed that I will pass my exam."
keep one's hand in (something)
- to retain some control of somethingMy uncle sold his business but he is still trying to keep his hand in some of its operations.
keep one's hands off (someone or something)
- to refrain from touching or handling someone or somethingMy aunt asked her nephew to keep his hands off her furniture.
keep one`s head
- to stay calm when there is trouble or dangerThe president is a very good leader and is able to keep his head during an emergency.
keep one`s head above water
- to have the ability to pay one`s billsThe man is having trouble keeping his head above water since his salary decreased.
keep one`s mouth shut
- to be silent, to stay silentI was very angry and told my friend to keep his mouth shut. Later, I had to apologize.
keep one`s nose clean
- to stay out of trouble, to avoid troubleThe boy has been able to keep his nose clean since he moved to the new town.
keep one's nose out of (someone's) business
- to refrain from interfering in someone else's businessI try hard to keep my nose out of my friend's business.
keep one`s nose to the grindstone
- to work very hardMy friend is keeping his nose to the grindstone recently and I have not had a chance to meet him.
keep one's opinions to oneself
- to not give your opinion about something (especially when you disagree with others)I try to keep my opinions to myself when I talk to my father about the local government.
keep one's options open
- to decide against taking firm action now in favor of being able to choose later, to decide against making a decision or a choice now so that you can make it laterThe boy wanted to keep his options open for next year so he took some extra classes at school.
keep one`s own counsel
- to keep one`s ideas and plans to oneselfOur boss always keeps his own counsel and never reveals his plans to anyone.
keep one's place
- to exhibit behavior suitable to one's position or place in lifeThe cleaning lady was told to keep her place when she complained about her working conditions.
keep one`s shirt on
- to remain calm, to keep from losing one`s temper or becoming too impatient"Try and keep your shirt on! Everything will be fine in a few minutes."
keep one`s wits about one
- to stay calm when there is trouble or dangerThere was a fire in the building but the security guard was able to keep his wits about him and help everybody to safety.
keep one`s word
- to fulfill or keep one`s promiseThe girl never keeps her word and will probably not come to the party as she said.
keep out of (somewhere) or keep (someone or something) out of (somewhere)
- to not enter somewhere, to not allow someone or something to enter somewhereThe dog had to keep out of the garden.
The woman tried to keep her child out of the swimming pool.
keep pace (with someone or something)
- to go as fast or go at the same rate as someone or somethingIt is difficult to keep pace with the other students but somehow I manage.
- to remain silent"Could you please keep quiet and listen to the instructions."
keep (someone or something) at bay
- to keep someone or something at a distance (especially someone or something that is harmful or unpleasant), to control something in order to keep it from harming youThe city is trying hard to keep the pollution problem at bay.
We tried to keep the big dog at bay.
keep (someone) company
- to sit and stay with someone (especially someone who is lonely or sick)I stayed home last night so that I could keep my mother company.
keep (someone) from (doing something)
- to prevent someone from doing somethingI tried hard to keep my friend from buying a new car.
keep (someone or something) in check
- to keep someone or something under control, to restrain someone or somethingThe economic policy was designed to keep inflation in check.
keep (someone) in line
- to make someone behave properlyThe teacher is very strict and she knows how to keep her students in line.
keep (someone or something) in mind
- to remember and think about someone or somethingI told my friend to keep the time that I must leave for work in mind.
If I need someone to help fix my computer, I usually keep my friend in mind.
keep (someone) in stitches
- to cause someone to laugh continuouslyMy uncle kept me in stitches with his funny stories.
keep (someone) in the dark
- to purposefully not tell someone the details about something, to not give someone a piece of informationThe employees are not happy because the company keeps them in the dark about many things.
Nobody knew why the president of the company quit. We were all kept in the dark.
keep (someone) on or keep on (someone)
- to allow someone to continue working for youWe have too many workers but we will keep everybody on until business improves.
keep (someone) on tenterhooks
- to keep someone anxious or in suspenseI was kept on tenterhooks as I waited to hear the results of my exam.
keep (someone) posted
- to keep someone informed or up-to-date about somethingI asked my friend to keep me posted about his new job and address.
keep (someone or something) still/quiet
- to make someone or something silent or less noisyThe mother had a hard time keeping her child still in the airplane.
keep (someone) up or keep up (someone)
- to prevent someone from going to bedMy neighbors kept me up last night with their loud music.
keep (something) down or keep down (something)
- to keep food in one's stomach (without vomiting it up when sick)The child was sick and found it difficult to keep his food down.
keep (something) to oneself
- to keep something a secretI asked my friend to keep the news to herself.
keep (something) under one`s hat
- to keep a secret, to not tell somethingMy coworker will not say where he is going for his holiday. He wants to keep it under his hat.
keep (something) under wraps
- to keep something concealed (until some future date)We plan to keep our plans for the new project under wraps.
- to not moveI tried to keep still during the long lecture.
keep tabs on (someone or something)
- to watch or check or observe someone or somethingWe are keeping tabs on the spending of the sales department.
keep the ball rolling
- to continue an activity or action, to not allow something that is happening to slow or stopWe must keep the ball rolling and get our work done now.
keep the home fires burning
- to keep things going as usual while someone is away"Don`t worry about anything. I will stay home and keep the home fires burning while you are on your holiday."
keep the lid on (something)
- to restrain something, to keep something quietThe hospital worked hard to keep the lid on the drug scandal.
keep the wolf from the door
- to maintain oneself at a basic levelMy job pays just enough money to keep the wolf from the door.
keep the wolves at bay
- to fight against some kind of troubleThe university students were angry and the administration had to work hard to keep the wolves at bay.
- to keep track of the time in a game or athletic contestI kept time during the football game at our high school.
- to keep the beat, to keep the same musical rhythmIt is difficult for the girl to keep time when she is playing in the band.
- to keep accurate time (used for a watch or clock)My old watch will not keep time at all.
keep to oneself
- to stay away from other peopleOur neighbor is very quiet and likes to keep to herself.
keep track of (someone or something)
- to maintain a record of something"Please carefully keep track of your expenses during the trip."
- to not stop, to continueWe are working hard to keep up the same level of production as last year.
keep up an act
- to act in a way that is different from one's natural behaviorThe woman is trying to keep up an act even though she has almost no money.
keep up appearances
- to keep an outward show of prosperity or good behaviorThe man is trying to keep up appearances even though he has lost his job.
keep up (something)
- to keep something in good condition, to maintain somethingThe man spends a lot of time trying to keep up the garden of his house.
keep up with (someone or something)
- to go at the same speed as a person or thing, to maintain the same rate of progress as someone or somethingIt is difficult for the boy to keep up with the rest of the class.
keep up with the Joneses
- to try to be the same as your neighbors (usually in matters related to money)The man always worries about keeping up with the Joneses and he is always frustrated.
keep up with the news
- to keep informedI read the newspaper every morning in order to keep up with the news.
keep up with the times
- to stay in fashionMy aunt tries very hard to keep up with the times.
(a fine) kettle of fish
- a situation that is not satisfactory, a mess"This is a fine kettle of fish. What will we do with no water in our house."
- to be excited, to be nervousI was keyed up after we won the game and I could not go to sleep easily.
kick a habit
- to break or stop a bad habitThe man used to smoke but he was able to kick the habit.
- to lie around and do nothing, to only do small tasksI was tired on Saturday so I kicked around the house all morning.
kick around (someone) or kick (someone) around
- to treat someone badly, to act roughly or badly to someone or somethingI do not like the supervisor very much because she is always kicking around the employees.
- to relax and not do muchI am going to kick back this evening and watch television.
kick in some money for (something) or kick some money in for (something)
- to contribute some money for somethingEverybody kicked in some money for a present for our teacher.
kick off (something) or kick (something) off
- to begin something, to launch something, to start somethingThe department store kicked off their summer sale early Saturday morning.
- a startThe kick-off for the no smoking campaign will start next week.
- to regret somethingI kicked myself for not applying for the job sooner.
kick out (someone) or kick (someone) out
- to make someone go or leave, to dismiss someoneThe school kicked out the boy because of his bad behavior.
- to start (used for a motor)At first, the engine would not start but finally it kicked over.
kick (something) around or kick around (something)
- to discuss or consider something informallyWe kicked the idea around for several hours before we abandoned it.
kick the bucket
- to dieThe man who used to clean the building kicked the bucket last week.
kick up a fuss/storm
- to make trouble, to be a nuisance about somethingMy boss kicked up a fuss when I told him about the accident.
kick up one`s heels
- to have a good time, to celebrateWe kicked up our heels at the farewell party for our boss.
- money paid illegally for favorable treatmentThe construction company gave the politician a kickback in order to win the contract.
kid around (with someone)
- to tease and joke with someoneThe students were kidding around with the teacher after the class.
- a very easy taskIt was kid's stuff. We were able to fix the stove easily.
kill off (something) or kill (something) off
- to kill or end something completely, to destroy something completelyThe pollution in the river has killed off the fish.
kill the fatted calf
- to prepare a big feast (in someone's honor)We decided to kill the fatted calf and have a big dinner for my uncle.
kill the goose that lays the golden egg
- to destroy something that makes a lot of moneyThe man quit a very good job because he wanted more money. He killed the goose that lays the golden egg.
- to waste timeWe had to kill time before the movie started.
kill two birds with one stone
- to accomplish two things with one actionI was able to kill two birds with one stone by going to the meeting.
- to be killed immediatelyThe man was killed outright when the truck hit him on the street.
- moderately, somewhat, more or lessI was kind of tired when I arrived home last night.
kink in one's neck
- a cramp in one's neck that causes painI woke up this morning with a kink in my neck.
kiss and make up
- to become friends again after a fight or argumentAfter they had a fight, the couple was quick to kiss and make up.
kiss and tell
- to participate in something private and then tell others about itI do not trust the girl because she is the kind of person who will kiss and tell.
kiss of death
- an act that puts an end to someone or somethingIt was the kiss of death for the conversation with the teacher when the student learned that the teacher knew her father.
kiss (something) good-bye
- to lose something"You can kiss your computer good-bye. It is totally destroyed."
kiss up to (someone)
- to flatter someone in the hope of getting a benefit or reward or a promotionOne of our co-workers always likes to kiss up to our supervisor.
kit and caboodle
- the entire amount of something, everythingI took the whole kit and caboodle of my fishing supplies when I went fishing.
kith and kin
- friends and relativesAll of our kith and kin attended the anniversary for my parents.
knee-high to a grasshopper
- very young (usually used for a child)I learned to ride a bicycle when I was knee-high to a grasshopper.
knit one's brow
- to wrinkle one's brow by frowningThe teacher knit his brow and looked sternly at the child.
- to travel without a plan, to go where one pleasesWe decided to go to Brazil and knock about for a couple of months.
knock down the price of (something) or knock the price of (something) down
- to lower the price of somethingI bargained hard so that I could knock down the price of the DVD player.
a knock-down-drag-out fight
- a serious fight or argumentMy friend and his brother had a knock-down-drag-out fight last evening.
Knock it off!
- Stop doing something., Quit doing something."Please knock it off! You will hurt yourself if you are not careful."
knock off work (early)
- to quit work (for the day)We knocked off work early so that we could go to the soccer game.
knock on doors
- to look for a jobI have been knocking on doors all month to look for a job.
knock on wood
- to knock on something made of wood to keep from having bad luckI do not think that I will lose my job - knock on wood.
knock one`s head against a (brick) wall
- to waste time trying to do something with no successThe company manager's have been knocking their heads against a wall trying to solve the problem.
knock oneself out (doing something)
- to make a great effort doing somethingWe knocked ourselves out trying to make the party successful.
knock (some) heads together
- to scold some peopleThe coach decided to knock some heads together in order to improve the team.
knock (someone) around or knock around (someone)
- to mistreat someoneThe boy was sent home from school for knocking around another member of the class.
knock (someone) dead
- to put on a stunning performance for someoneThe performance of the jazz group knocked the audience dead.
knock (someone) down to size
- to make a person more humbleThe fact that the golfer lost the tournament helped to knock him down to size.
knock (someone) off or knock off (someone)
- to murder someoneA robber knocked off the owner of the shop last week.
knock (someone) off his or her feet
- to surprise or shock someone so much that he or she does not know what to doWhen they announced that I had won the prize it knocked me off my feet.
knock (someone or something) out or knock out (someone or something)
- to make someone unconscious, to make something unworkable or unusableThe storm last night knocked out power in most of the town.
knock (someone) over with a feather
- to surprise someone by something extraordinaryIt could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw my friend on TV.
knock (someone's) block off or knock off (someone's) block
- to hit someone very hard (in the head), to beat someone upThe man was very angry and threatened to knock the block off anyone who came near him.
knock (something) back/down
- to drink something (usually alcohol or medicine)The medicine tasted terrible but I was able to knock it down.
knock (something) off or knock off (something)
- to finish something, to do something, to make something (often in haste or carelessly)The small furniture company is able to knock off tables very fast.
knock the props out from under (someone)
- to destroy someone's confidence, to destroy someone's emotional or financial or moral baseThe teacher knocked the props out from under the student when she criticized the student's work.
- a very beautiful womanThe man said that the woman who he saw at the bus stop was a knockout.
know a thing or two (about someone or something)
- to be well informed about someone or somethingMy father works in a software company and he knows a thing or two about computers.
know a trick or two
- to know some special ways of dealing with a problemI know a trick or two about how to handle a customer who is angry or upset.
know all the tricks of the trade
- to possess the skills and knowledge necessary to do somethingMy cousin knows all the tricks of the trade and is a very good plumber.
know better than (to do something)
- to be smart enough not to do somethingI told my friend that she should know better than to phone me at 7:00 AM on a Saturday morning.
- knowledge and skillOur new boss has much know-how about how to operate a business.
(not) know if one is coming or going
- to not know what to doThe new sales manager does not know if he is coming or going.
- a person who acts as if he or she knows everythingThe librarian is a know-it-all and nobody likes to be around him.
know of (someone or something)
- to be aware of someone or something, to have heard of someone or somethingI do not know of any good restaurants near my house.
know one's ABCs
- to know the most basic things about somethingThe woman in the bank knows her ABCs and can provide the information that we need.
know one's place
- to know the behavior suitable to one's position in lifeThe boy does not know his place and often speaks out when he should not.
know one's stuff
- to know about something wellThe man know's his stuff and is a very good plumber.
know one's way around/about
- to know how to get something done, to know about somethingMy friend knows his way around the city very well.
know (someone or something) by sight
- to know the name and recognize the face of someone or somethingI know the professor's name but I do not know him by sight.
know (someone or something) like a book
- to know someone or something very wellI know the personality of my friend like a book.
know (someone or something) like an open book
- to know someone or something very wellI know the man like an open book.
know (someone or something) like the back of one's hand
- to know someone or something very wellI know the material for the exam like the back of my hand.
know (something) backwards and forwards
- to know something very wellI know the names of the people in my history class backwards and forwards.
know (something) by heart
- to know something perfectly and from memoryI know the poem by heart.
know (something) from memory
- to know something well from seeing it oftenI know most of the telephone numbers from memory.
know (something) inside out
- to know something thoroughlyI know the history of our city inside out.
know (something) is coming
- to know in advance that something is going to happenI knew it was coming when my boss told me that the store would soon close.
know (something) only too well
- to know something very well (usually because of an unpleasant experience or you know that there will be negative consequences if you do or do not do something)I know only too well what will happen if I do not finish my essay on time.
The man knows only too well how angry his boss can become if he does not do his work quickly.
(not) know the first thing about something
- to lack basic knowledge about somethingThe man does not know the first thing about computers.
know the ropes
- to know the procedures in a company, to know how to do somethingI know the ropes at my job and I do very well at work.
know the score
- to know the facts (about life or something)The man does not know the score about what is happening at his company.
know what's what
- to know the facts about somethingIt is difficult to know what's what with the man's problem.
know when one is not wanted
- to sense when one's presence is not welcomeI know when I am not wanted so I will not go to the restaurant.
know where (someone) stands on (something)
- to know what someone thinks or feels about someone or somethingI do not know where the mayor stands on the issue of the new parking fees.
know which is which
- to be able to distinguish one thing or person from anotherThe two dogs look the same and I do not know which is which.
know which side one`s bread is buttered on
- to know who can help you and therefore try to please him or her, to know what is good for oneselfThe man is careful not to make his boss angry. He knows which side his bread is buttered on.
a known fact
- something that is generally recognized as a factIt is a known fact that more people get colds in the winter than in the summer.
a known quantity
- someone or something that is known and understoodThe new employee is a known quantity in our office because he worked here before.
knuckle down (to something)
- to begin to work earnestlyI think it is time that we knuckle down and finish the project.
- to yield, to submitThe union finally knuckled under from the pressure and ended the strike.