THE IDIOM CONNECTION
nail down (someone or something)
- to make certain or sure of something
I am trying to nail down the exact time that the meeting will begin.
a nail in (someone's) coffin
- something that will harm someone
Fighting with his boss was a nail in the man's coffin. He will not get a promotion now.
- the human eye (with no binoculars etc.)
It was difficult to see the star with the naked eye.
one's name is mud
- a person`s reputation is bad
The man's name is mud now that he was caught stealing money from his company.
name of the game
- the main part of a matter, the main point
The name of the game for the company is selling cars and nothing else.
name (someone) after (someone or something)
- to give someone the name of another person or place or thing
My cousin is named after his mother`s grandfather.
- an escape with little chance of error
The boy had a narrow escape when he almost fell from his bicycle.
- not tolerant, not willing to accept the ideas of others
Our teacher is very narrow-minded.
near at hand
- to be close or handy to someone
I looked for a pair of scissors that were near at hand.
neck and neck
- to be equal or nearly equal in a race or contest
The two teams were neck and neck in the race to win the national championship.
neck of the woods
- an area or part of the country
My friend has never been to my neck of the woods.
need (something) like (one needs) a hole in the head
- to not need something at all
My friend needs a new computer like he needs a hole in the head.
need (something) yesterday
- to need something in a very big hurry
I need a new computer yesterday.
needle in a haystack
- something that is very hard to find
Looking for the lost receipt among the other receipts was like looking for a needle in a haystack.
neither fish nor fowl
- something that does not belong to a definite group or category
The man's opinions were neither fish nor fowl and nobody could put them into an identifiable category.
neither here nor there
- not relevant to the thing being discussed, to be off the subject
"What you are saying is neither here nor there. We are talking about our plans this year - not five years in the future."
neither hide nor hair of (someone or something)
- no sign or indication of someone or something
I have seen neither hide nor hair of my friend recently.
- a timid person who lacks determination and courage
The boy is a nervous Nellie and is afraid of the other students in the school.
- money that someone has saved for the future
The man has a large nest egg and will have no financial problems if he leaves his company.
- do not worry
"Never fear, I will finish work and meet you for the movie."
never in one's life
- not in one's experience
I have never in my life, seen such a strange person.
- don`t worry, don`t bother
"If you don`t have time to pick up my laundry today, never mind, I will get it tomorrow."
never would have guessed
- never would have thought something to be the case
I never would have guessed that the woman on the bicycle is the richest woman in the city.
- fresh energy or power, someone or something that provides new life or vigor to somethingThe woman is a good employee and helped to bring new blood into our organization.
new broom sweeps clean
- a new person makes many changesA new broom sweeps clean and when our new boss arrived he changed many things in our organization.
- a complete change, a fresh start, another chanceThe player received a new deal by the team although the previous year he did not play well.
- a person who has recently been hiredThe man at the gas station is a new hire and is very slow at his job.
(a) new lease on life
- a renewed outlook on life, a fresh start, an increase in the period for which something can be used or continuedThe mechanic gave my car a new lease on life after he repaired it.
The new job gave the woman a new lease on life.
With a new coach and two new players, our team has a new lease on life.
- a person who has become much better or feels much betterMy friend is a new person now that he has quit smoking.
- the person living in the house or apartment next to youMy next-door neighbor often brings over fresh bread that she has baked.
next of kin
- one's closest living relative or relativesThe police notified the dead woman's next of kin after the accident.
next to nothing
- hardly anything, almost nothingI was able to buy a computer for next to nothing.
nice and (some quality)
- lots of (some quality)The bed was nice and warm and I fell asleep immediately.
(in the) nick of time
- at the very last momentI was able to board the airplane in the nick of time.
nickel and dime (someone)
- to charge someone many small amounts of moneyThe small repairs to my car are beginning to nickel and dime me.
night on the town
- a night of celebrationWe went out for a night on the town when we finished the project.
- a person who likes to stay up late at nightMy friend is a night owl and stays up late every night.
a nine day/day's wonder
- someone or something that is of interest to people only for a short timeThe actor was a nine day's wonder and everyone forgot about him after a couple of months.
nine times out of ten
- almost alwaysNine times out of ten a small computer problem can be easily fixed.
- a job with regular and normal hoursMany people like the regular hours of a nine-to-five job.
nip and tuck
- evenly matched, almost evenThey were going nip and tuck but the younger man finally won the race.
nip (something) in the bud
- to stop something before it becomes larger (you can destroy a flower bud before it becomes a flower)We were able to nip the computer problem in the bud.
The company has a big problem which they are trying to nip in the bud.
no bed of roses
- a difficult or bad situationIt is no bed of roses for the man with no job and a large family to support.
- not agreed to, no, certainly notI almost got the job but in the end it was no cigar.
- not agreed to, no, certainly notIt was no deal when my plan was rejected at the meeting.
- no, certainly not (this expression is used as a refusal to a request)"No dice. I will not lend you any money."
- without doubt, surely, certainlyNo doubt my friend will be the one to win the contest again this year.
- almost without stopping, continuallyThe little girl cried no end when she could not find her favorite doll.
no end of/to (something)
- seeming almost endless, very many or much of somethingThe man had no end of problems when he lived overseas for a year.
- not agreed to, no, certainly notIt is no go for our wish to have three games this weekend. We can only have two games.
no great shakes
- mediocre, unimportantThe hotel was no great shakes and I would not recommend that my friend stay there.
no hard feelings
- no anger or resentmentThere were no hard feelings between the two women after their fight at work.
no holds barred
- with no restraintsThere were no holds barred during the debate between the two politicians.
no ifs, ands, or buts about it
- absolutely no discussion or doubts about something"You are going to bed now - no ifs, ands, or buts about it," said the mother to her child.
- a serious matterThe mistake with the meeting time was no joke. It caused many serious problems.
- honestly, really"No kidding, are you really going to buy a house."
no laughing matter
- a serious matterThe incident was no laughing matter and was taken very seriously by the police.
no love lost between (two people/groups)
- bad feelings or ill will between two people or groupsThere is no love lost between my father and our neighbor.
- regardlessNo matter how hard that I try, my piano teacher is never satisfied.
no matter what happens
- in any event, without regard to what happensNo matter what happens I plan to go swimming on Saturday.
- not pleasant, difficultIt was no picnic trying to drive to the lake during the storm.
no point in doing (something)
- no purpose in doing somethingThere is no point in talking to my supervisor. He never listens to what I say.
- a person who makes a reservation for something and then neither comes nor cancels itThere were many no-shows at the concert last night.
no skin off (someone's) teeth/nose
- no difficulty for someoneIt will be no skin off my teeth if the meeting is canceled.
no sooner said than done
- done quicklyMy request to repair the photocopy machine was no sooner said than done.
no spring chicken
- not young anymoreMy aunt is no spring chicken but she always has much energy.
no strings attached
- no special conditions or restrictions on an offer or opportunityThe job offer has no strings attached so I will probably take it.
The student received an offer to go to university and there are no strings attached to the offer.
- easily accomplished, uncomplicatedFinishing the job was no sweat. I finished it in two hours.
- no problem"No sweat. I will help you tomorrow if you need me."
- no entry to a placeThere is no trespassing on the field next to the oil tanks.
no two ways about it
- no choice about it"No two ways about it, you must do your homework and go to bed now."
- a situation where there is no satisfactory solutionIt was a no-win situation for the school when they had to deal with the problem student.
- not surprisingNo wonder the boy is so tired after staying up all night.
- a smart person, a person who can take care of himself or herselfThe woman is nobody`s fool. You will not have to worry about her when she starts her new job.
- one`s attention is somewhere else, one has a simple mindNobody`s home I thought, as I tried to have a conversation with the strange man.
- to begin to sleep (usually briefly and without planning to sleep)I nodded off last night while I was watching television.
The student nodded off during the class.
none of (someone's) beeswax
- to be of no concern to someoneMy relationship with my friend is none of my supervisor's beeswax.
none of (someone's) business
- to be of no concern to someoneMy personal financial situation is none of my friend's business.
none other than (someone)
- the very person (that one may be talking or thinking about)I went to the airport and I saw none other than the president of our company.
none the wiser
- to be still confused about something even after it has been explained to you, not knowing any more than beforeMy sister was none the wiser when I put her fashion magazines in the garbage.
none the worse for wear
- not worse because of use or effortWe were none the worse for wear after our long trip through the mountains.
The bicycle was none the worse for wear after the boy used it for many months.
none too (something)
- not very something, not at all somethingThe boy was none too smart to try and steal the DVD from the store.
- to look for something kept private or secret, to pry into somethingThe little boy likes to nose about the cupboards in his house.
- to look for something kept private or secret, to pry into somethingThe secretary nosed around her boss's desk to look for the address.
- to head down, to bring down the nose of somethingThe pilot began to nose down the plane as it approached the airport.
a nose in (something)
- unwelcome interest in something, impolite curiosity about somethingThe man often has his nose in other people`s private business where it does not belong.
nose into (something)
- to move into something, to go front end firstWe stopped our car and nosed into the parking space.
nose (someone) out or nose out (someone)
- to push someone away, to exclude someoneThe famous basketball player nosed out the other players to become the best player in the league.
not a bit
- none at allI had not a bit of free time last weekend.
not a living soul
- nobodyThere was not a living soul at the restaurant last night.
not a moment to spare
- just in time, no extra timeWe arrived at the airport with not a moment to spare.
not able to call one's time one's own
- to be too busy to control one's own scheduleI am not able to call my time my own and I have no time to relax.
not able to go on
- to be unable to continueI was not able to go on so I stopped running in the marathon.
not able to see the forest for the trees
- to allow the details of a situation to obscure the situation as a wholeThe man is not able to see the forest for the trees and always allows the small details to obscure the larger picture of what he is trying to do.
not all (someone or something) is cracked up to be
- to be not as good as someone or something is said to beThe new cook is not all that he is cracked up to be and we have received several complaints about his food.
not all there
- to be not mentally adequate, to be crazy or sillyThe man is not all there and sometimes he does very strange things.
not at all
- certainly notI am not at all happy with my new computer.
not bat an eye
- to not show any signs of being nervous even when something shocking or bad happensThe policeman did not bat an eye when the criminal began to reach for his knife.
not believe one's eyes
- to not believe what one is seeingI did not believe my eyes when my father gave me a television set for my birthday.
not born yesterday
- to be experienced in the ways of the worldI was not born yesterday and I do not believe what the woman is saying.
not breathe a word about (someone or something)
- to keep a secret about someone or something, to not say anything about someone or somethingI promised my friend that I would not breathe a word about his plans for the weekend.
not breathe a word of (something)
- to not tell something to anyoneI will not breathe a word of the plans to my friend.
not buy (something)
- to not accept something to be trueI do not buy the excuse that the man does not have enough money to pay for his dinner.
not by a long shot
- not at allNot by a long shot was I able to find enough time to finish reading the book.
not by any stretch of the imagination
- even if you try it is difficult to accept that something is trueThe player is not by any stretch of the imagination, a very good player.
Not by any stretch of the imagination, could you consider the man a good writer.
not enough room to swing a cat
- not very much spaceThere was not enough room to swing a cat in the small hotel room.
not for a moment
- not at all, neverI did not for a moment believe what the man was saying.
not for anything in the world
- not for anythingI will not for anything in the world go to the restaurant with that woman.
not for hire
- not available to take new passengers (a taxi or something else that is not available to rent)The first taxi was not for hire so we had to wait for another one.
not for love nor money
- not for anythingI will not for love nor money agree to work weekends next month.
not for publication
- not to be published, secret or private informationThe documents from the court trial are not for publication.
not for the world
- not at any price, not for anythingI would not for the world go on a date with that woman.
not give (something) another thought
- to not worry or think about somethingI did not give it another thought when I agreed to help my friend move from his apartment.
not give (someone) the time of day
- to dislike someone so much that you totally ignore him or herI dislike my coworker and would not give her the time of day.
not give/care two hoots about (someone or something)
- to not care at all about someone or somethingI do not give two hoots about what my neighbor thinks of me.
not half bad
- to be okay, to be pretty goodThe restaurant meal was not half bad and everybody seemed to like it.
not have a leg to stand on
- to have no good proof or excuse for something, to have no good evidence or defence to offer someone"The company does not have a leg to stand on if they refuse to pay the money that they owe you."
not have a prayer
- to have no possibility of success in somethingThe man does not have a prayer to get the new job.
not hold a candle to (someone or something)
- to not be nearly as good as someone or somethingThe new secretary does not hold a candle to the one who quit.
not hold water
- to be illogical, to make no senseThe excuses of the man do not hold water.
not hurt a flea
- to not harm anything or anyone (not even a tiny insect)My mother would not hurt a flea and she is very kind to everyone who she meets.
not in the same league with (someone or something)
- to be not nearly as good as someone or somethingThe new coach is not in the same league as the coach who we had last season.
not know enough to come in out of the rain
- to be very stupidThe woman is not very smart and does not know enough to come in out of the rain.
not know one's own strength
- to not realize how destructive or harmful one's strength can beThe little boy does not know his own strength and does much damage when he plays.
not know (someone) from Adam
- to not know someone at allI did not know the man from Adam.
not know the first thing about (someone or something)
- to not know anything about someone or somethingI do not know the first thing about carpets so we asked a specialist to repair the carpet in our apartment.
not know where to turn
- to have no idea what to do about somethingThe young woman did not know where to turn when she lost her job.
not know whether/if one is coming or going
- to be very confusedMy friend did not know whether he was coming or going after the long airplane flight.
not let (someone) catch you (doing something)
- to not let someone discover you doing something"Do not let me catch you doing that again or you will be in trouble," said the mother to her child.
not lift a finger/hand (to help someone)
- to do nothing to help someoneThe girl will not lift a finger to help her mother.
not long for this world
- to be about to die, to be about to stop workingMy uncle is very sick and is not long for this world.
My laptop is not working well. I think that it is not long for this world.
not made of money
- to not have a lot of moneyMy father always says that he is not made of money when I ask him to give me some.
not miss much
- to not miss observing any part of what is going onOur teacher does not miss much and we must behave well in her class.
not move a muscle
- to remain perfectly motionlessI was told to not move a muscle while the dentist was working on my teeth.
not much of (something)
- to be rather bad, to be not so goodIt is not much of a hotel but I think that it will be good for one night.
not on your life
- definitely nota) "May I borrow your car?"
b) "Not on your life."
not one iota
- not even a tiny bitThere is not one iota of truth in what my boss is saying about me.
not one's place
- not one's role to do somethingIt is not my place to tell other people what they should do with their free time.
not open one's mouth
- to not say anythingThe man in the movie theater was told not to open his mouth.
not see farther than the end of one's nose
- to not care about the future or about what is happening elsewhere or to other peopleMy friend cannot see farther than the end of her nose and is not interested in other people.
not see past the end of one's nose
- to not care about the future or about what is happening elsewhere or to other peopleMy boss is not interested in me and cannot see past the end of his nose.
not set foot (somewhere)
- to not go somewhereWe did not set foot in the old building that we passed on our hike.
not show one's face
- to not appearWe asked the man to not show his face at our restaurant if he was not going to behave properly.
not sleep a wink
- to not sleep at allI am tired today because I could not sleep a wink last night.
not so hot
- to be not very goodI have been feeling not so hot lately because I had a cold last week.
not (someone's) cup of tea
- to be not something that one likesClassical music is not my friend's cup of tea so she did not go the the concert with the others.
not take no for an answer
- to not accept someone's refusalMy aunt would not take no for an answer when I said that I could not eat dinner at her house.
not tell a (living) soul
- to not reveal something to anyoneI did not tell a soul about my fight with my friend.
I promised that I would not tell a living soul about the party.
not touch (something) with a ten-foot pole
- to consider something completely undesirable or uninterestingThat car is dangerous and I would not touch it with a ten-foot pole.
not up to scratch
- not adequateMy uncle's golf game is not up to scratch and he always gets a bad score.
not up to snuff
- not adequateMy piano playing ability is not up to snuff and I need to practice more.
not with it
- to be not able to think clearlyMy grandmother was not with it today and we were not able to have a very good visit.
not worth a dime
- to be worthlessOur old sofa is not worth a dime so we put it in the garbage.
not worth a hill of beans
- to be worthlessAnything that our supervisor says is not worth a hill of beans so nobody trusts him.
not worth a plugged nickel
- to be worthlessHis promise to pay back the money is not worth a plugged nickel.
not worth mentioning
- to be not important enough to require a commentThe problem that we had with the manager was not worth mentioning so we did not say anything to anybody.
not worth one's while
- to be not worth bothering aboutIt is not worth my while to go downtown if it is only to do one thing.
not worth the trouble
- to be not important enough to require a comment or to do somethingIt was not worth the trouble to repair our old stove so we threw it in the garbage.
nothing but skin and bones
- to be very thin or emaciatedThe young man was nothing but skin and bones when he returned from the long camping trip.
nothing but (something)
- to be only somethingThere were nothing but people who played wind instruments at the music camp.
- I will not do it, certainly not"Nothing doing. I am not going to stay and work late again this evening."
- to not require a down paymentThe young couple purchased their house with nothing down.
nothing if not (something)
- without doubt, certainlyThe man is nothing if not punctual. He has never been late in his seven years with this company.
nothing of the kind
- to be nothing like thatMy boss thought that I was complaining but I told him that my comments were nothing of the kind.
nothing short of (something)
- to be almost the same as somethingIt was nothing short of a miracle that the young man survived the car accident.
nothing to choose from
- no choiceThere was nothing to choose from when we went to the shoe sale in the afternoon.
nothing to complain about
- everything is all rightI told my boss that I had nothing to complain about regarding my job.
nothing to it
- easyThere was nothing to it and I was able to fix the television in about ten minutes.
nothing to sneeze at
- something that you should take seriously and respectThe man's new salary is nothing to sneeze at.
nothing to speak of
- not many, not mucha) "Did you find any problems during the house inspection."
b) "Nothing to speak of. Everything seemed to be fine."
nothing to write home about
- nothing exciting or interesting happeneda) "Did anything interesting happen during your holiday."
b) "Nothing to write home about," I replied.
now and again
- occasionallyNow and again we have pasta for dinner.
now and then
- occasionallyI like to go to that restaurant now and then.
now or never
- at this time and no otherIt was now or never so the young man asked his girlfriend to marry him.
- not nearlyThere were nowhere near enough chairs for all of the people who planned to come to the meeting.
null and void
- not valid, canceledThe credit card was null and void and I was unable to use it on my holiday.
a number of things or people
- an indefinite number of things or peopleThere were a number of reasons why I did not want to study at my father's university.
- oneself, one`s own interestsThe man is always looking out for number one and he will never do anything for other people.
nurse a grudge (against someone)
- to keep resenting and disliking someone for a long period of timeThe woman has been nursing a grudge against her sister for many years.
nurse (someone) back to health
- to give someone care to restore him or her to good healthMy mother spent several weeks with my grandmother trying to nurse her back to health.
nuts about (someone or something)
- to be enthusiastic about somethingThe man has been nuts about cars since he was a little boy.
nuts and bolts (of something)
- the basic facts about somethingThe nuts and bolts of the housing loan were carefully discussed by the bank and their client.
nutty as a fruitcake
- to be very crazyThe woman who lives next door is nutty as a fruitcake.
nuzzle up to (someone or something)
- to nestle or cuddle against someone or something (especially with your nose or face)The puppy nuzzled up to his owner.