The Idiom Connection Idioms and Quizzes




THE IDIOM CONNECTION



Idioms


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O Idioms



occur to (someone)

- to come into someone's mind (an idea or thought)

It occurred to me that I will not be able to meet my friend on Saturday because I have to go to the airport to meet someone else.

ocean(s) of (something)

- a very large amount of something

There was oceans of food at the party.
There was an ocean of people at the festival.

odd man out

- an unusual person, a person who is different, a person who is left out of a group for some reason

The boy is always the odd man out at the park.

(the) odd (something)

- an extra or spare something, one or two of something

We saw the odd animal on our hike in the mountains.

an oddball

- a person who does not act like other people

The man is an oddball and nobody likes to work with him.

odds and ends

- a variety of small items (sometimes remnants of something else)

We made games for the children from odds and ends that we have at our house.

odor of sanctity

- an atmosphere of excessive holiness or piety

There was an odor of sanctity in the chambers of the judge at the courthouse.

Of Idioms

of age

- to be old enough to be allowed to do something (vote or drink etc.)

When my cousin came of age we had a big party to celebrate.

of age

- to be fully developed, to be mature

Rapid transportation came of age when the first jets were built.

of all the nerve

- how shocking

Of all the nerve for my friend to ask me for more money when she never repaid me what she had already borrowed.

of all things

- Imagine that!

"Of all things," the woman said when the post office employee told her that her package was too large for delivery.

of benefit to (someone)

- to be good for someone, to be a benefit to someone

Another meeting to solve the problem is of no benefit to myself so I will not attend.

of course

- certainly, definitely, naturally

"Of course you can use my car if you want to."

of interest (to someone)

- to be interesting to someone

The man who works at the gas station is of interest to the police in their investigation of the murder.

of late

- lately

Of late, there has been almost no rain in our city.

of no avail

- with no effect, unsuccessful

My complaints to the company were of no avail and nothing was done.

of one's own accord

- by one's own choice

The supervisor decided to leave her job of her own accord.

of one's own free will

- by one's own choice

The man volunteered of his own free will.

of the old school

- attitudes from the past which are no longer popular

Our teacher's attitudes are of the old school and are not often found these days.

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Off Idioms


off and on

- occasionally

The man has studied French off and on but he is not very serious.

off and running

- to be making a good start, to be progressing well

The candidates are off and running in the race to become mayor of the city.

off balance

- to be not prepared for something, to be unable to meet the unexpected

I was off balance when my boss asked me to deliver the speech instead of him.

off base

- to be inaccurate or wrong

We were off base with our estimate of next year`s budget.

off campus

- not on the grounds of a college or university

The used bookstore was off campus but it was very popular with the university students.

off-center

- to be not exactly in the center or middle of something

The picture was off-center and did not look good on the wall.

the off chance

- a slight possibility

I went to the department store on the off chance that I would find a jacket that I liked.

off-color

- to be in bad taste, to not be polite, to be not the exact color

The man likes to tell off-color jokes which most people do not like.
We painted the walls an off-color of white.

off duty

- not working

The police officer was off duty when he saw the bank robbery.

off guard

- not alert to the unexpected

It caught me off guard when my friend suddenly asked me to lend her some money.

off like a shot

- to go away quickly

The children were off like a shot when the school bell rang.

off limits

- forbidden

The factory was off limits to everybody except the workers who worked there.

off on the wrong foot

- to start something under bad circumstances

I tried to talk to my new neighbor but it seems that we are off on the wrong foot already.

off one`s back

- not bothering someone

I wish that my father would get off my back and stop asking me when I am going to look for a job.

off one`s chest

- not bothering you anymore (usually used for a problem)

I talked to my friend and I was able to get my problem off my chest.

off one`s hands

- no longer in one`s care or possession

I sold my old computer and got it off my hands.

off one`s high horse

- not acting proud and scornful, not acting like you are better than others

Our boss got off his high horse when he admitted that he had made many mistakes with the new product.

off one`s rocker

- crazy

The man must be off his rocker if he thinks that he can spend much money and not have financial problems.

off season

- not in the busy time of the year, to be restricted (the hunting of an animal)

It was off season so we got a very cheap rate for the hotel room.
It was off season and we could not hunt ducks.

off (someone or something) goes

- someone or something is leaving

"Off we go," I said as we opened the door and left the house.

off the air

- not broadcasting

The small radio station was not popular and is now off the air.

off the beam

- wrong or mistaken

What the man said about the new policy was off the beam and should be ignored by everybody.

off the beaten track

- not well known or often used, unusual

Last night, we went to a small restaurant that was off the beaten track.

off the cuff

- without preparation (usually used when you are speaking)


Most of the company president's remarks were made off the cuff.
Our boss made a great off-the-cuff speech at the party last night.

off the hook

- out of trouble or free from an embarrassing situation

I am off the hook now and I will not have to worry about the problem anymore.

off the mark

- not quite exactly right

The cost estimate for the new train station was off the mark.

off the rack

- (an article of clothing that is) available for immediate purchase, ready-made

Our boss always buys his suits off the rack.

off the record

- private, unofficial

The politician told the reporters off the record about the money problems.

off the subject

- not concerned with the subject under discussion

Our teacher often speaks off the subject during our class lectures.

off the top of one`s head

- without thinking about something very much, without checking what is written about something, based on what you remember

The boy knew all of the team members off the top of his head.
I could not remember the exact numbers off the top of my head.
I was unable to remember the name of the restaurant off the top of my head.

off the track

- not concerned with the topic under discussion

My friend was off the track when he suggested that the problem was caused by someone else.

off the wagon

- drinking alcohol again after stopping for a period of time

The man is off the wagon again. I saw him yesterday and I am sure that he had been drinking.

off the wall

- odd/silly/unusual

The recent remarks by our boss were off the wall.

off to a bad start

- to start something under bad circumstances

The production of the play was off to a bad start when the lights did not work.

off to a running start

- a good and fast beginning

We were off to a running start with our preparations for the autumn festival.

off to one side

- beside something, moved away from something

We will put the chair off to one side while we decide what to do with it.

off to the races

- to be about to leave or start something, to be about to go somewhere, to be going somewhere exciting

We are now off to the races and ready to start our project.
We are off to the races. We are leaving now for our holiday!

office politics

- the competition between various groups in a company

I do not like the office politics in my company.

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offbeat

- unconventional, different from the usual

The movie was very offbeat which is just the kind of movie that I like.

(as) old as the hills

- very old

The building next to the library is as old as the hills.

an old hand at (doing something)

- experienced at doing something

My father is an old hand at building kitchen furniture.

old hat

- old-fashioned, not new or different

My job has become old hat and I am now tired of it.

On Idioms

on a budget

- with an amount of money that you can or want to spend for something

The man has no job and is now on a budget.
The university student is on a budget.

on a diet

- to be eating less food so that you can lose weight

I was on a diet for several months last year.

on a dime

- in a very small space, quickly

My new car has very powerful brakes and is able to stop on a dime.

on a first-name basis (with someone)

- good friends with someone

I am not on a first-name basis with my neighbor.

on a fool's errand

- involved in a useless journey or task

I was on a fool's errand as I looked for a store that sold organic candy.

on a large scale

- in large numbers, in a large size

The company likes to do everything on a large scale.

on a shoestring

- with very little money

The man started his new company on a shoestring.

on a splurge

- spending much money extravagantly

We went on a splurge last weekend and spent much money.

on a waiting list

- on a list of people waiting for something

My father is on a waiting list to get an operation on his knee.

on account

- on credit, partial payment of a debt or an invoice

We buy many things on account at the local department store.

on active duty

- doing full-time service (usually used in the military when someone is doing full-time service)

The soldiers were on active duty when the hurricane reached the shore.

on again, off again

- to be unsettled or changeable or uncertain

The plans for the fireworks display were on again, off again because of the windy weather.

on all fours

- on one's hands and knees

I was on all fours as I looked for my grandmother's hearing aide.

on an even keel

- calm and not likely to change suddenly, in a steady and well-balanced situation (the keel is the bottom of a boat or ship and when the boat is on an even keel it is balanced)

The new department was running on an even keel soon after it opened.

on and off

- intermittently, now and then, not regularly

It has been raining on and off since early this morning.

on and on

- continually, at tedious length

The speech continued on and on until we finally left the meeting.

on any account

- for any purpose, for any reason

I am not going to talk to that woman on any account.

on approval

- buying something with the right to return it

We carefuly looked at the chair which we had bought on approval.

on behalf of (someone)

- representing someone

The lawyer went to the meeting on behalf of his client.

on bended knee

- with great humility

The young man was on bended knee when he asked his girlfriend to marry him.

on board

- to be on a ship or airplane or train or similar form of transportation

We got on board the airplane just before they closed the doors.

on call

- available to be called to go to work

The man's job is to repair computers and he is always on call.

on campus

- on the grounds of a college or university

We often go to a small coffee shop on campus after our classes.

on cloud nine

- very happy

The woman has been on cloud nine since she decided to get married.

on consignment

- being sold in a store but owned by someone who is trying to sell the item in the store

We went to the store to buy some baby furniture that was being sold on consignment.

on credit

- buying or selling something by using credit

I purchased the stereo on credit.

on deck

- on the deck of a boat or a ship

When we were on the boat we spent most of the time on deck.

on deck

- waiting to take one's turn (especially as a batter in baseball)

The player was on deck and waiting for his turn at bat.

on duty

- at work, currently doing one's work

There was nobody on duty when we arrived at the swimming pool.

on easy street

- having enough money to live comfortably

My uncle has been on easy street since he sold his house and invested the money.

on edge

- nervous or irritable

The boy is on edge because of his exams.

on end

- seemingly endless

My uncle works for hours on end at his hobbies.

on everybody's lips

- many people are talking or thinking about the same thing

The scandal about the famous actress is on everybody's lips.

on faith

- without question or proof

I take it on faith that my friend will help me if I need help.

on fire

- burning, being burned with flames

The house was on fire when the fire truck arrived.

on foot

- by walking

We plan to go downtown on foot.

on good terms with (someone)

- to be friendly with someone, to have a good relationship with someone

We are on good terms with our neighbors.

on guard

- careful or wary

The store owner has been on guard since he was robbed last month.

on hand

- available

I do not have any aspirin on hand at the moment.

on hand

- nearby, within reach

"Please keep your dictionary on hand during the exam."

on hand

- to be present

The speaker will be on hand after the lecture to answer questions.

on hold

- to be waiting, to be temporarily halted

The construction of the building is on hold while the city engineers finish their inspection.

on hold

- to be left waiting on a telephone line

I phoned the bank but I was quickly put on hold.

on horseback

- on the back of a horse

We went to the campground on horseback.

on ice

- away for safekeeping or later use, postponed

The city may put the plans for the new stadium on ice while they try to raise more money.

on impulse

- done without planning

I bought the new DVD on impulse.

on land

- on the land, on the soil, not at sea

The old sailor was never very comfortable when he was on land.

on line

- connected to a computer

The editor is able to do most of his work on line.

on location

- a movie being filmed in a location away from the movie studio

The movie was filmed on location in the mountains.

on lunch

- to be on a lunch break

I was on lunch when my friend phoned.

on medication

- taking medicine for a current medical problem

The woman has been on medication for many years.

on no account

- for no reason, absolutely not

On no account will I let my friend borrow my laptop computer.

on occasion

- occasionally

We go to my favorite restaurant on occasion.

on one's best behavior

- being as polite as possible

The little boy was on his best behavior when he went to meet with his teacher.

on one's chest

- thoughts or feelings that are worrying you and that you might need to share with someone else

I had a long talk with my friend last night because I had many problems on my chest.

on one's coat-tails

- as a result of someone else doing something

The mayor was elected on the coat-tails of his brother who is a famous actor.

on one's feet

- recovering from sickness or trouble

I was sick for two weeks but now I am on my feet again.

on one's feet

- standing up

We were on our feet when the singer walked onto the stage.

on one's guard

- to be cautious or watchful

I was on my guard when I went into the meeting with my boss.

on one`s (own) head

- to be one`s own responsibility

The boy brought the anger on his own head and should not try and blame someone else.

on one`s high horse

- acting as if one is better than others, very proud and scornful

The boy is always on his high horse and never thinks about other people.

on one's honor

- with honesty and sincerity

I am on my honor when I look after the money for our club.

on one's mind

- currently being thought about

The incident at school was on my mind all week.

on one's own

- by oneself

The young girl has been on her own since she finished high school.

on one's own time

- during one's personal time, not while one is at work

The employees must make their personal phone calls on their own time.

on one's person

- carried with someone

The criminal had a knife on his person when he was arrested.

on one`s shoulders

- one`s responsibility

"Please don`t try to put the failure of your business on my shoulders."

on one`s toes

- alert

The teacher asks the students many questions to keep them on their toes.

on order

- something that is ordered with the delivery expected at some future date

The store has several computer printers on order.

on paper

- in theory, if judged from the written evidence

On paper, the idea seems like it will be very successful.

on par with (someone or something)

- equal to someone or something

The new French restaurant is on par with the best restaurants in Paris.

on pins and needles

- excited or nervous

The girl has been on pins and needles all day waiting for the contest to begin.

on probation

- serving a period of probation, serving a trial period

The new employee was on probation before he became a regular member of the staff.

on purpose

- intentionally

I think that the woman spilled her drink on purpose.

on sale

- offered for sale at a special low price

The television set was on sale so we decided to buy it.

on schedule

- at the expected or desired time

The train arrived on schedule and we found our friend easily.

on second thought

- after having reconsidered something

On second thought, I do not think that I will go to a movie tomorrow.

on shaky ground

- unstable, not secure

The man's position at the company has been on shaky ground for a long time.

on (someone's) account

- because of someone

We went to the children's festival on our daughter's account.

on (someone`s) back

- making demands or criticizing someone, being an annoyance or bother to someone

My boss has been on my back all week trying to get me to finish my monthly report.

on (someone's) behalf

- acting as someone's agent, acting for the benefit of someone

I was able to sign for the registered letter on my wife's behalf.

on (someone`s) case

- making demands or criticizing someone, being an annoyance or bother to someone

The mother is always on her son's case to make him clean his room.

on (someone's) doorstep

- in someone's care, as someone's responsibility

The responsibility for feeding the extra staff suddenly arrived on my doorstep.

on (someone's) head

- on someone's own self (often used with blame)

The responsibility for fixing the computer was on my head.

on (someone`s) heels

- close behind someone, following someone

The dog was on the heels of the small rabbit.
I was right on my friend's heels as we hurried to the stadium.

on (someone or something's) last legs

- almost worn out or finished or broken, close to exhaustion or close to death

My computer is on its last legs and soon I will have to buy a new one.
I felt like I was on my last legs when I came home from shopping.

on (someone's) say-so

- with someone's permission or authority

I was able to ask for a new stove on the apartment manager's say-so.

on (someone's) shoulders

- to be someone's responsibility

The responsibility for organizing the office is always on my shoulders.

on speaking terms with (someone)

- on friendly terms with someone

The woman is not on speaking terms with her older sister.

on standby

- to be waiting for a seat or ticket to become available on a train/plane/bus

We decided to fly to visit my parents on standby.

on target

- on schedule, exactly as predicted

Our company is on target to have its best year of sales ever.

on the air

- being broadcast on radio or TV

The television program has been on the air for three years now.

on the alert (for someone or something)

- watchful and attentive for someone or something

The police are on the alert for the man who robbed the small store.

on the average

- generally, usually

On the average, I get about eight hours of sleep every night.

on the back burner

- postponed or delayed

Our plans for a holiday are on the back burner because we have no money.
The government plans are on the back burner.

on the ball

- intelligent, able to do things well

The man is on the ball and can usually get his work done quickly.

on the bandwagon

- doing or joining something because many others are doing it

Everybody in our company is on the bandwagon to eliminate smoking in the workplace.

on the beam

- just right or correct, doing well

What the politician said about the tax problem was right on the beam.

on the bench

- sitting or waiting for a chance to play in a sports game

The new player was forced to sit on the bench for most of his first season.

on the bench

- for a judge to be directing a session of court

The judge was on the bench for three days last week.

on the blink

- not working

My stereo has been on the blink for many months.

on the block

- for sale

Our house has been on the block for over a month now.

on the borderline

- undecided, in an uncertain position between two things

My test scores are on the borderline between passing or failing the course.

on the button

- exactly on time

I arrived for the meeting right on the button.

on the cheap

- at a low cost, using a small amount of money

The young couple do not have much money so they will travel on the cheap.
The university students are living on the cheap.

on the contrary

- as the opposite

I thought that the movie would be boring but on the contrary it was quite interesting.

on the defensive

- trying to defend oneself

I always feel that I am on the defensive when I talk to my friend about money.

on the dole

- receiving welfare

There are many people on the dole who live in the poor area.

on the dot

- right on time

The man always arrives for his meetings on the dot.

on the double

- very fast

My father asked me to bring him the newspaper on the double.

on the edge of one`s seat

- nervously and excitedly waiting for something

I have been on the edge of my seat all day while I wait for the contest to begin.

on the eve of (something)

- just before something, on the evening before something

The sports fans were very excited on the eve of the big game.

on the face of it

- from the way that something looks, superficially, on the surface

On the face of it, it looked like the speeding car had caused the accident.

on the fence (about something)

- undecided (about something)

The politician is on the fence about the tax issue.

on the fritz

- not operating properly

My television set is on the fritz and I may have to buy a new one.

on the go

- busy doing many things

I have been on the go since early morning trying to prepare for the meeting.

on the heels of (something)

- soon after something

There were two weeks of heavy rain on the heels of the big earthquake.

on the horizon

- soon to happen

The government promised that there would be a tax decrease on the horizon.

on the horns of a dilemma

- bothered by having to decide between two things or people

We were on the horns of a dilemma as we tried to decide if we should move or stay in our apartment.

on the hot seat

- subject to much criticism or questioning

I was on the hot seat when my supervisor asked what had happened to the broken computer.

on the hour

- exactly on the hour mark (12:00, 1:00 etc.)

My grandmother must take her medicine on the hour.

on the house

- provided free by a business (usually a bar or restaurant)

The hotel room was not ready when we arrived so they gave us something to drink on the house.

on the job

- working, during working hours

The young man has only been on the job for a few weeks now.
There is no food permitted on the job at our company.

on the level

- honest

The manager was on the level with me when he told me about my job possibilities.

on the lookout for (someone or something)

- watchful for someone or something

I am always on the lookout for original movie posters.

on the loose

- free to go, not shut in or locked in by anything

The zoo animals were on the loose for three hours before the zookeeper discovered their escape.

on the make

- trying to get some advantage from other people

"Be careful of that man. He is on the make and will try to cheat you."

on the market

- available for sale

I have seen many good cameras on the market recently.

on the mend

- in the process of healing or becoming better

My friend broke his leg last week but he is now on the mend.

on the money

- exactly right, exactly the right amount

I was on the money when I guessed the correct amount for the plane ticket.

on the move

- moving around from place to place, in motion

My sister is in Europe and has been on the move for several months now.

on the nose

- just right, exactly

What the woman said about our new boss is on the nose.

on the off-chance

- in case something may happen, with the slight possibility that something may happen

I asked the salesman if he had the new computer in his store on the off-chance that he may have one.

on the one hand

- from one point of view

On the one hand I want to go on a nice holiday but on the other hand I do not have enough money.

on the other hand

- however, in contrast, looking at the opposite side of a matter

The boy is very intelligent but on the other hand he is very lazy and always gets low marks at school.

on the point of (doing something)

- ready to start doing something

The man was on the point of buying a new car when he lost his job.

on the QT

- secretly, without anyone knowing

I do not want anyone to know about my plans so I will discuss them on the QT.

on the right track

- following the right set of assumptions

I am on the right track in my search for a good piano teacher for my daughter.

on the road

- travelling somewhere (especially as a salesman or performer)

The man is a salesman and is often on the road.

on the rocks

- to be in a state of difficulty, to be having problems (usually used for a relationship)

The man has been married for seven years but his relationship is now on the rocks.

on the same page

- thinking similarly about something

I was on the same page as my friend about our plans for a holiday.

on the same wavelength

- thinking similarly about something

Everybody is on the same wavelength about the need for change in the company.

on the sly

- secretly

We went to the restaurant on the sly so that nobody would know where we were.

on the spot

- in a difficult or embarrassing situation

The man was suddenly put on the spot when the reporter asked him about the money.

on the spur of the moment

- on a sudden wish or decision, suddenly, without planning, on impulse

I bought a new bicycle on the spur of the moment.

on the strength of (something)

- due to something such as a promise or evidence

On the strength of my high test scores I was admitted to the university that I wanted.

on the take

- accepting bribes

The border guard was discovered to be on the take and was immediately fired.

on the tip of one`s tongue

- not quite able to remember something

The name of the movie is on the tip of my tongue.

on the trail/track of (someone or something)

- seeking someone or something

The police dogs were on the trail of the bank robber.

on the up-and-up or on the up and up

- to be honest/trustworthy/sincere

I do not like that company because they are not on the up-and-up.

on the verge of (doing something)

- just about to do something

I was on the verge of quitting my job when I suddenly changed my mind.

on the wagon

- not drinking alcohol (usually used for someone who has a drinking problem)

The man has been on the wagon for seven months now.

on the warpath

- very angry, looking for trouble

Our boss is on the warpath today so you should stay away from him.

on the way (somewhere)

- on the route to somewhere

We got something to eat on the way to the airport.

on the whole

- in general

On the whole, I think that the plan is a good idea but I would like to study it further.

on the wrong tack

- following the wrong course of action

The leader of the meeting went on the wrong tack and caused much confusion.

on the wrong track

- following the wrong set of assumptions, going the wrong way

The police were on the wrong track when they went to question the owner of the store.

on thin ice

- in a risky situation

The woman was on thin ice with her company after she continued to come to work late every morning.

on time

- at the scheduled time, exactly at the correct time

Our train arrived exactly on time.

on tiptoe

- standing or walking on the front part of the feet

I walked around the house on tiptoe so that I would not wake up my family.

on top

- in the lead

The boy was on top of his class when he was in university.

on top of (something)

- in addition to something, along with something

On top of everything else my boss wants me to work on Sunday.

on top of (something/things)

- managing very well, in control of things

We can keep on top of our work now that we have someone to help us.

on top of (something/things)

- to know all about something, to be up-to-date

My friend reads the newspaper every morning and is on top of the latest news.

on top of the world

- feeling very good

I was on top of the world after I learned about the scholarship that I had won.

on trial

- being tried in court

The man is on trial for stealing money from his company.

on vacation

- away from work, taking a vacation

I will be on vacation during the first two weeks of July.

on view

- visible, on public display

The new sculptures were on view and everybody in the town could see them.

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Once Idioms


once again

- again, one more time, once more

I tried once again to phone my boss at his home .

once and for all

- permanently, finally

I told my friend, once and for all, that I will not give him any money.

once in a blue moon

- very rarely

I only go to that restaurant once in a blue moon.

once in a lifetime

- only happening one time in one's lifetime

The chance to see the famous singer may happen only once in a lifetime.

once in a while

- occasionally

We like to go to a Japanese restaurant once in a while.

once or twice

- a few times

We went to the new restaurant once or twice but we did not really like it.

a once-over

- a quick look at someone or something, a quick examination of someone or something

We gave the rental car a once-over before we signed the contract.

once upon a time

- far in the past

Once upon a time a beautiful princess lived in a castle in a small town.

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One Idioms


one and all

- everyone

One and all were invited to the community center to listen to the author speak.

the one and only

- a famous and talented person, the unique and only someone

Yesterday, the newspaper published an interview with the one and only inventor of the DVD player.

one's one and only

- the only person that one loves

The man's wife was his one and only since they first met in high school.

one and the same

- the very same thing, the very same person

It is one and the same if we finish the job today or continue until tomorrow.
The principal and vice-principal is one and the same. They are the same person.

one-armed bandit

- a slot machine for gambling

My friend spent the weekend with a one-armed bandit and now he has no money.

one by one

- one at a time, each in turn

One by one the singers walked onto the stage.

one foot in the grave

- near death

The woman has one foot in the grave and is not expected to live much longer.

the one for (someone)

- the right partner, the right person to marry

When I introduced my girlfriend to my mother she said that she was the one for me.

one for the (record) books

- something very unusual or remarkable

The latest complaint about noise at work is one for the books and is very stupid.

one in a thousand/hundred/million

- unique, one of a very few

I only had a one in a million chance of finding my ring which I dropped into the lake.

one jump ahead of (someone or something)

- better prepared or more successful than someone or something else, expecting and prepared for what will happen

The little boy was one jump ahead of the other students after he went to summer school.

one little bit

- any at all, at all (usually used in the negative)

I do not agree with my supervisor one little bit about the new schedule.

a one-night stand

- an activity lasting only one night

The band played one-night stands in many small towns.

one of these days

- someday in the future

One of these days I am going to talk to my supervisor about moving to another department.

one step ahead of (someone or something)

- better prepared or more successful than someone or something else, expecting and prepared for what will happen

The city was one step ahead of the builders in trying to understand the problem.

one to a customer

- each person can have or receive only one of something

The cameras had a limit of one to a customer at the store.

a one-track mind

- thinking about only one thing

The man has a one-track mind. All he thinks about is money.

the one-two

- quick or decisive action that takes someone by surprise

The salesman gave the customer the one-two and the customer quickly agreed to buy the product.

one up on (someone)

- to have an advantage over someone, to be one step ahead of someone

The boy was one up on the other students because he studied very hard.

one-upmanship

- the ability to keep ahead of others, the ability to keep an advantage

The man's one-upmanship and his desire to be better than everyone else makes many people dislike him.

one way or another

- somehow

One way or another I am going to attend the annual general meeting tomorrow.

.


only have eyes for (someone)

- to like only one person, to be loyal to only one person

My sister only has eyes for her boyfriend.

onto (someone or something)

- to have discovered the truth about someone or something

My supervisor is onto the new saleswoman who is taking money from her sales register.

Open Idioms


open a conversation

- to start a conversation

I tried to open a conversation with the man in the bus.

open a meeting

- to begin a meeting

They opened the meeting by welcoming the new guests.

open and aboveboard

- to be honest, to be visible to the public

The company is open and aboveboard and they run their business very honestly.

an open-and-shut case

- something (often a legal matter) that is simple and clear

It was an open-and-shut case when the judge decided the case of the stolen computer.

an open book

- someone or something that is easy to understand

My friend is an open book. He is very easy to understand.

open fire on (someone)

- to start shooting at someone, to start asking questions or criticizing someone

The police opened fire on the man with the gun.
The managers of the company opened fire on the supervisor at the meeting and began to criticize him.

open for business

- a shop or restaurant or business that is open and ready to do business

The small shop is open for business after a long holiday.

open one`s heart to (someone)

- to talk about one`s feelings honestly, to confide in someone

I opened my heart to my friend when I saw her at the restaurant last night.

open Pandora's box

- to uncover more problems or issues than you expected or wanted

The investigation of the company was like opening Pandora's box. Many other problems were discovered.

open season on (someone or something)

- a time when everyone is criticizing someone, unrestricted hunting of an animal

It is open season on our boss and everyone feels free to criticize her.
It is hunting season now and open season on deer.

an open secret

- a secret that so many people know about that it is no longer a secret

It is an open secret that I will be leaving my company next month.

open (someone's) eyes to (something)

- to make someone become aware of something

The scandal opened our eyes to the problems that can occur in a large company.

open (something) up or open up (something)

- to unwrap something

The little boy was laughing as he opened his birthday presents up.

open (something) up or open up (something)

- to reveal the possibilities of something

The departure of the school principal opened his job up to other members of the staff.

open (something) up or open up (something)

- to make something less congested

We opened up the yard by cutting down some trees.

open (something) up or open up (something)

- to start the use of something such as land or a building

The government is planning to open more land up to farming.

open the door to (something)

- to permit/allow something to become a possibility

The new sports center opened the door to many possibilities for getting the students involved in physical activity.

open to (something)

- to be willing to learn or hear about new ideas or suggestions

Our principal is open to new ideas about how to meet the needs of the students.

open up a can of worms

- to create unnecessary complications

The dispute with our competitor opened up a can of worms about how to market our product.

open up on (someone or something)

- to attack someone or something, to fire a gun or other weapon at someone or something

The man with the gun opened up on the people on the bus.

open up to (someone)

- to talk frankly or truthfully to someone

I always open up to my friend when I meet her.

open with (something)

- to start with something

The convention opened with a speech from the president of our company.

.


an opening gambit

- an opening statement etc. to help give one an advantage in bargaining etc.

The union made several concessions in their opening gambit while negotiating with the company.

the opposite sex

- the opposite sex to someone (either male or female)

The math classes were divided so that nobody had to study with a member of the opposite sex.

or else

- or suffer the consequences

The teacher told the students to be quiet or else.

or words to that effect

- with other words that have a similar meaning

My boss told me not to begin the project now or words to that effect.

the order of the day

- something necessary, the usual practice

The order of the day is to clean up the mess that the storm caused last night.

order (someone) around/about

- to give commands to someone

Our new supervisor is always trying to order people around.

other fish to fry

- other more important things to do

I think that the man has other fish to fry and will not be happy to continue with his present job.

the other side of the tracks

- the poorer/richer section of a town (the opposite place from where you are)

The girl came from the other side of the tracks and was not welcome in some parts of the city.

other things being equal

- only if other factors remain unchanged

Other things being equal, I think that the new school policy will be a success.

the other way round

- the reverse, the opposite

It was the other way round. My friend wanted to go swimming - not me.

an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

- it is easier to prevent something bad than to deal with the results

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and I decided to stay home and rest rather than go out in the cold with my sore throat.

Out Idioms

out and about

- to be able to go out and travel or move or walk around

My aunt is out and about again after her knee operation.

an out-and-out (something)

- a complete or absolute something

The man is an out-and-out liar and nobody believes what he says.

out cold

- to be unconscious, to have fainted

The patient was out cold when the nurse went to check on him.

out from under (someone or something)

- to be free and clear of someone or something

My friend is out from under the control of her older sister who has gone to live in a different city.

out front

- to be in the front of one's house

"My bicycle is out front," said the young boy.

out in force

- appearing in great numbers

The volunteers were out in force all weekend trying to collect money for the new hospital.

out in left field

- far from the right answer

The man's question was out in left field. He did not know what we were talking about.

out in the cold

- alone, not included

I was left out in the cold after my friends went to the movie without me.

out like a light

- to have fallen asleep very quickly

I went to bed early last night and I was out like a light.

out of a clear blue sky

- suddenly, without warning

The orders from our boss came out of a clear blue sky and everybody was surprised.

out of action

- to not work or operate, to not be able to do something

The player will be out of action for many more weeks.

out of all proportion

- of an exaggerated proportion

The complaints of the students were out of all proportion to what the problem was.

out of bounds

- outside the boundaries of a playing area

The ball was out of bounds and the boy had to go over the fence to get it.

out of breath

- tired and breathing quickly.

I was out of breath after running from the station.

out of character

- unlike one's usual character, not appropriate for one's character

Arguing with the sales clerk was out of character for my father. He never argues about such things.

out of circulation

- not active, to not join in what others are doing

The boy has a new girlfriend so he will be out of circulation for awhile.

out of commission

- broken, not operating

The old boat is out of commission and will not be operating for several months.

out of condition

- not in good physical condition

I am out of condition and I need to exercise more.

out of consideration for (someone or something)

- thinking about someone's feelings or needs, considering someone's feelings or needs

The police did not release the names of the accident victims out of consideration for the family members.

out of control

- uncontrollable, wild

The soccer fans were out of control after their team won the championship.

out of courtesy

- in order to be polite to someone

We phoned our customers out of courtesy to tell them about the late arrival of the products.

out-of-date

- no longer current or in style

Computer equipment becomes out-of-date very quickly.

out of earshot

- too far from a sound to hear it

My parents were out of earshot and I could not hear what they were saying.

out of fashion

- not fashionable

Most of the woman's clothes are out of fashion.

out of favor (with someone)

- to not have a person`s goodwill

I have been out of favor with my boss for a few months now.

out of gas

- to have no gas in a vehicle, to be tired or exhausted

The truck was out of gas so we could not use it last night.
I was out of gas so I went home and went to bed.

out of hand

- wild, not able to be controlled

The party got out of hand and we had to call the police to quiet things.

out of hand

- immediately and without consulting anyone

The police dismissed my complaint about my neighbors out of hand.

out of keeping with (something)

- not following the rules of something

The late lunch was out of keeping with our policy of working until the afternoon before we ate lunch.

out of kilter

- not balanced right, not in a straight line or lined up correctly

The door is out of kilter and does not open very well.

out of line

- unacceptable, not correct

The salesman's proposal to travel to New York is out of line. We can never accept it.

out of luck

- without good luck

I was out of luck and could not find the part for my computer printer at the store.

out of necessity

- because of necessity, due to need

The library will close on Saturdays out of necessity. It has no money.

out of one`s element

- in a situation where one does not belong or fit in

The teacher is out of his element teaching the computer course. He does not know anything about computers.

out of one`s hair

- not bothering or annoying someone

The woman got her children out of her hair and was able to do some work.

out of one's mind/head/senses

- to be silly or crazy, to be not using common sense

My friend was out of his mind to buy a new computer when he has no money.

out of one`s shell

- to move from silence or shyness and into friendly conversation with others

The girl came out of her shell and began to play with the other children.

out of order

- not working

The public telephone was out of order.

out of order

- against the rules - used in a meeting when someone does not obey the rules of speaking

The man's question was ruled out of order at the meeting and he was not able to ask it.

out of place

- in the wrong place, at the wrong time, improper

The woman's comments at the party were out of place. She should have said them another time.

out of pocket

- the direct expenses that one spends for business or personal use

My out-of-pocket expenses for my recent business trip were very low.
The money that I spent on my business trip was all out of pocket.

out of practice

- performing poorly due to a lack of practice

I am out of practice and I cannot play the trumpet very well now.

out of print

- no longer available for sale from the publisher

The book is out of print and is very difficult to find.

out of proportion

- having the wrong proportion relative to something else

The curtains were out of proportion to the small window.

out of reach

- not close enough to be reached or touched, unattainable

The books on the bookshelf were out of reach and I could not get the dictionary easily.

out of season

- not easily available for sale at some time of year, not legally able to be hunted

Strawberries are now out of season.
The hunting of ducks is now out of season.

out of service

- not operating at this time

The elevator has been out of service all week.

out of shape

- not in good physical condition

My mother is out of shape and cannot walk for a long distance.

out of sight

- not visible

The children were out of sight and we could not see them.

out of sight

- to be unbelievable or stunning

The view from the tower was absolutely out of sight.

out of (something)

- to have none left of something

The restaurant was out of fish so we had meat instead.

out of sorts

- not feeling well, in a bad mood

Our boss is out of sorts today so you should wait until tomorrow to speak to him.

out of spite

- with the desire to harm someone or something

My friend would not help me out of spite because he is angry at me.

out of step

- not in step or keeping pace with someone

The bandmembers were out of step when they were marching in the parade.

out of step with (someone or something)

- out of harmony or not in agreement with someone or something

The boy is out of step with the rest of the group and he needs to think about what he should be doing.

out of stock

- not immediately available in a store

The special pens were out of stock when I went to the store this afternoon.

out of style

- not fashionable

The style of jeans that my friend likes to wear have been out of style for a long time now.

out of the blue

- without warning, happening suddenly and unexpectedly

Out of the blue, my friend decided to stop using Facebook.
The decision to close the store came out of the blue.

out of the corner of one's eye

- at a glance, with a glimpse of someone or something

I saw the car coming out of the corner of my eye and quickly moved away.

out of the frying pan and into the fire

- going from one problem to another (maybe more serious) problem, from something bad to something worse

When the man changed jobs he jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. His new job is much worse.

out of the hole

- out of debt

I am working at an extra job to try and get out of the hole.

out of the loop

- not having information about what is happening, not informed

The man is out of the loop and does not know what is happening in his company.

out of the mouths of babes

- something that a child says shows that he or she understands more about a situation than you thought that they did

The little boy's statement was out of the mouths of babes. He knew everything that was happening.

out of the ordinary

- unusual

There was nothing out of the ordinary at the scene of the accident.

out of the question

- impossible

"You have no money so going to Brazil for a holiday is out of the question."

out of the red

- out of debt

The small company is out of the red after cutting many costs.

out of the running

- no longer being considered

The new movie is out of the running for any major awards.

out-of-the-way

- in a remote or far away location

We went to an out-of-the-way restaurant for dinner.

out of the woods

- no longer in a dangerous situation or condition

The man's injury is very serious and he is not out of the woods yet.

out of thin air

- out of nothing, from nowhere

The deer jumped out of thin air and onto the road.

out of this world

- wonderful, fantastic

The cake at the restaurant is out of this world.

out of touch with (someone or something)

- no longer in contact with someone

I am out of touch with many of my friends from high school.

out of town

- not in one's own town

My father has been out of town a lot this year.

out of tune

- not in agreement, not going well together

We are out of tune with what the other members of the group think.

out of tune

- not properly adjusted for pitch

Two members of the orchestra were out of tune.

out of turn

- at the wrong time or order

The teacher becomes angry when her students speak out of turn.

out of whack

- not functioning correctly, out of adjustment

My DVD player is out of whack and I cannot use it at all.

out of work

- unemployed

Many people are out of work in our town.

out on a limb

- in a dangerous or risky position or situation, in a difficult position

The man went out on a limb and offered his brother the job.

out on bail

- out of jail after you have paid bail money

The man is out on bail after being arrested for robbing a bank.

out on parole

- out of jail but still under police supervision

The bank robber is out on parole after being in jail for seven years.

out on patrol

- away from a central location and observing or inspecting something

The soldiers were out on patrol most of the night.

out on the town

- out in a town or city having fun and partying

I am tired today because we were out on the town last night.

(be) out to (do something)

- to be determined to do something, to be planning to do something, to have decided to do something

My boss always seems to be out to cause me problems.
The man is out to make as much money as he can.

out to lunch

- crazy, not alert

The man seems to be out to lunch but everybody likes him.

.


outgrow (something)

- to get too big or old for something

The little boy is beginning to outgrow his small bicycle.

outguess (someone)

- to guess what someone else might do

It is difficult to outguess my boss. She always knows what is going on in our company.

outside of (something)

- except for something, other than something

Outside of the weather, our vacation was quite enjoyable.

outside the box

- not bound by old and limiting structures or rules or practices

Everybody in the design company was encouraged to think outside the box in order to be creative.

Over Idioms

over a barrel

- in a helpless or trapped position

We have the other company over a barrel and we should be able to win the contract easily.

over and above (something)

- in addition to something

Over and above my salary, I also get a transportation allowance from my company.

over and done with

- finished

I want to get my legal case over and done with and forget about it.

over and over

- repeated many times

I told my friend over and over that I do not want to go to a movie.

over one`s dead body

- never, under no circumstances

Over my dead body will I let my friend use my car.

over (someone`s) head

- beyond one's ability to understand something

The joke went over the girl's head and she did not understand it.

over (someone`s) head

- to go to a more important person who has a responsibility for something, to go to a higher official

The store clerk could not help us so we went over his head and talked to his boss.

over the hill

- past one`s prime, too old to be useful

The man is over the hill and should not be working at all.

over the hump

- over the difficult part of something

We are over the hump with our project and should be able to finish it soon.

over the long run/haul

- over a long period of time

Over the long run the man plans to expand his business.

over the short run/haul

- for the immediate future, over a short period of time

Over the short run the old computer is adequate for the job.

over the top

- excessive, overdone

The demands of our boss are over the top and everybody dislikes him.

over with

- at the end of something, finished with something

The game is over with so we can eat dinner.

.


overnight (something)

- to send a package or document somewhere for delivery the next day

I will overnight the documents tonight.

owing to (someone or something)

- because of someone or something

Owing to the bad weather many airplane flights were canceled.

own up to (something)

- to accept the blame for something, to admit one`s guilt about something

The suspected murderer owned up to the murder of his wife.


Idiom Quizzes - O



    Choose an idiom to replace the expression in the brackets:

  1. We used (various materials) from around the office to fix the desk.

    (a) on and off (b) odds and ends (c) once in a while (d) out of sorts



  2. The politician said (unofficially) that he would not be a candidate.

    (a) off the record (b) on a shoestring (c) once in a blue moon (d) on the dot



  3. We started the travel agency (on a limited budget) so we have little money now.

    (a) out of the question (b) over a barrel (c) off base (d) on a shoestring



  4. The little boy broke the plate (intentionally).

    (a) on purpose (b) off and on (c) once in a while (d) on edge



  5. The man has been (rushing here and there) all day.

    (a) on the spot (b) on the go (c) out of line (d) over his head



  6. I think that my aunt's cooking is absolutely (fantastic).

    (a) over her head (b) out of this world (c) on the warpath (d) off the record



  7. The company does not have any of the new computers (available).

    (a) over a barrel (b) on hand (c) on the wagon (d) off base



  8. We go to that restaurant (occasionally) if we are in the area.

    (a) on and on (b) on easy street (c) out of breath (d) off and on



  9. The boy has been (anxious) all day because he is waiting for his exam results.

    (a) on edge (b) on the blink (c) off his rocker (d) out of the woods



  10. I was (very tired) after running from the station.

    (a) on the go (b) off the record (c) out of the blue (d) out of breath



  11. The telephone has been (unusable) since last week.

    (a) off the record (b) on call (c) out of order (d) on the whole



  12. The estimate of the expenses are (inaccurate).

    (a) off base (b) on and off (c) on easy street (d) out of sorts



  13. The man always says strange things and I think he is (crazy).

    (a) on the ball (b) off his rocker (c) out of breath (d) over a barrel



  14. "(Never) will I allow my daughter to marry that man."

    (a) Off and on (b) On pins and needles (c) Out of this world (d) Over my dead body



  15. My MP3 player has been (broken) for several months now.

    (a) out of the blue (b) on the wagon (c) on the blink (d) on a shoestring



  16. The proposal is totally (unacceptable) with what we can agree to.

    (a) over our head (b) on the road (c) out of line (d) on the blink



  17. I think that our neighbor's relationship is (having problems).

    (a) on the wagon (b) on pins and needles (c) on a shoestring (d) on the rocks



  18. The company is not (out of danger) yet regarding its bad debts.

    (a) out of the woods (b) on the warpath (c) on its shoulders (d) off base



  19. I think that my bicycle is (ready for the garbage).

    (a) over its head (b) on pins and needles (c) on its last legs (d) off the record



  20. We (were taking a big chance) when we gave the man a promotion.

    (a) went out on a limb (b) went over a barrel (c) were on a shoestring (d) were on the same wavelength



  21. The man's idea is a little crazy and definitely (very unusual).

    (a) off its rocker (b) one for the books (c) on and off (d) on the dole



  22. The man is (free of responsibility) regarding the missing money.

    (a) on a shoestring (b) on his toes (c) on the edge of his seat (d) off the hook



  23. The woman has been (free of drinking alcohol) for over two years.

    (a) on the wagon (b) off the top of her head (c) on easy street (d) over a barrel



  24. We go to that restaurant (very rarely).

    (a) off base (b) once and for all (c) on shaky ground (d) once in a blue moon



  25. I try to stay (alert) during the long meetings.

    (a) out on a limb (b) on my toes (c) on the spot (d) on pins and needles



  26. The woman began to tell me the story (suddenly and without warning).

    (a) off the record (b) once in a blue moon (c) on the whole (d) out of the blue



  27. The man is an honest person and everything that he says is (the truth).

    (a) off and on (b) out of favor with everyone (c) one for the books (d) on the level



  28. The request by the employee is absolutely (impossible).

    (a) out of the question (b) as old as the hills (c) on its last legs (d) on shaky ground



  29. The man was put (in an embarrassing situation) when they asked him the question.

    (a) out to lunch (b) out of the way (c) on the spot (d) on the level



  30. Everybody is (in total agreement) about the new contract.

    (a) over a barrel (b) on call (c) on the same wavelength (d) out of favor



  31. Our boss is a little (bad-tempered) today.

    (a) off and on (b) over his dead body (c) out of the question (d) out of sorts



  32. The girl has been (excited) all day waiting for the contest.

    (a) on shaky ground (b) on the other hand (c) over her head (d) on pins and needles



  33. The employees are (in a helpless position) with the new offer by the company.

    (a) off the hook (b) on our shoulders (c) over a barrel (d) on the dot



  34. The girl's bicycle is (old-fashioned).

    (a) an open secret (b) on guard (c) out-of-date (d) out on a limb



  35. I was (nervous) while waiting for the interview to start.

    (a) on a shoestring (b) on the edge of my seat (c) on my last legs (d) out of line



  36. I cannot remember the man's name (from memory).

    (a) off my rocker (b) once or twice (c) on the same wavelength (d) off the top of my head



  37. The boy (only thinks of one thing).

    (a) has a one-track mind (b) is on a shoestring (c) is on his shoulders (d) is over a barrel



  38. The woman is (able to live comfortably) since she won the lottery.

    (a) on the wagon (b) on easy street (c) on her toes (d) off the record



  39. The man is always (punctual) and never misses work.

    (a) off base (b) over her head (c) on time (d) out of sorts



  40. You should be careful. Our teacher is (very angry) today.

    (a) over her dead body (b) out of this world (c) on the road (d) on the warpath



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