C Idioms and Quizzes

C Idiom Quiz #1

letter c

Quiz 1 - Choose the correct idiom to replace the expression in the brackets. Check your score at the bottom. Click on the idiom for the definition.

1. My father must (eliminate) fat from his diet because of his health.
a)   cancel out
b)   cover up
c)   cut out
d)   carry over

2. Let`s (stop work) for today and come back tomorrow.
a)   carry coals to Newcastle
b)   catch some Z's
c)   call it quits
d)   come across

3. I would like to buy a new car so I have begun to (economize) on my daily expenses.
a)   come clean
b)   chime in
c)   cast around
d)   cut corners

4. You can (be sure of) my friend helping you with the cleaning.
a)   clamp down on
b)   count on
c)   close ranks with
d)   come to terms with

5. I (almost had an accident) this morning when my car almost hit a fence.
a)   had a cave in
b)   had a change of heart
c)   had a close call
d)   had a clean slate

Your score is: ___  out of 5

C Idiom Quiz #2

letter c

Quiz 2 - Choose the correct idiom to replace the expression in the brackets. Check your score at the bottom. Click on the idiom for the definition.

6. Working in an office is definitely (unsuitable for the man).
a)   a change of pace for the man
b)   not the man's cup of tea
c)   a case of mistaken identity for the man
d)   catching the man off balance

7. It finally (occurred to me) that I had met the man before at a party.
a)   crossed my mind
b)   cleared the decks
c)   caught my eye
d)   changed my tune

8. The man is (responsible for) buying equipment in his company.
a)   crazy about
b)   in care of
c)   close at hand
d)   in charge of

9. I was (unable to pay) when I went to the store so I went home to get some more money.
a)   caught unaware
b)   caught in the middle
c)   caught short
d)   cut down to size

10. I was very angry at first but now I have begun to (quiet down).
a)   call it a day
b)   calm down
c)   catch forty winks
d)   champ at the bit

Your score is: ___  out of 5

C Idiom Quiz #3

letter c

Quiz 3 - Choose the correct idiom to replace the expression in the brackets. Check your score at the bottom. Click on the idiom for the definition.

11. The government minister was forced to (tell the truth) about the illegal funds.
a)   come out ahead
b)   chew the fat
c)   come alive
d)   come clean

12. Everybody in the class (contributed money) to buy food for the party.
a)   came to the point
b)   caused eyebrows to raise
c)   called their bluff
d)   chipped in

13. The woman (thought of) a good idea for the sales convention.
a)   caught up with
b)   caused a stir with
c)   came up with
d)   caused tongues to wag with

14. They decided to (cancel) the tennis match because of the rain.
a)   chance upon
b)   call off
c)   clear out
d)   cross out

15. The woman has (made progress) with her typing skills.
a)   come a long way
b)   come back
c)   come full circle
d)   carried through

Your score is: ___  out of 5

C Idiom Quiz #4

letter c

Quiz 4 - Choose the correct idiom to replace the expression in the brackets. Check your score at the bottom. Click on the idiom for the definition.

16. Our boss is (making the decisions) for the new project.
a)   coming to life
b)   calling the shots
c)   cooking the books
d)   cracking a book

17. My friend has begun to (use less) salt because of his health.
a)   cash in on
b)   carry out
c)   cut down on
d)   chicken out of

18. I stopped to (rest for awhile) after climbing the stairs.
a)   carry the day
b)   catch my breath
c)   claim a life
d)   clear my name

19. It was difficult to work during the (cold period).
a)   change of scenery
b)   cold fish
c)   cold spell
d)   cold turkey

20. They must talk in order to (remove their misunderstanding).
a)   change the subject
b)   clear the table
c)   come of age
d)   clear the air

Your score is: ___  out of 5

C Idiom Quiz #5

letter c

Quiz 5 - Choose the correct idiom to replace the expression in the brackets. Check your score at the bottom. Click on the idiom for the definition.

21. Whenever (the boy faces many obstacles,) he works hard to overcome those problems.
a)   the chips are down for the boy,
b)   the boy casts the first stone,
c)   the boy can't see the forest for the trees,
d)   the boy cuts the mustard,

22. I decided to (speak bluntly) and tell our boss what was wrong with our company.
a)   carry the ball
b)   call a spade a spade
c)   cast pearls before swine
d)   change horses in midstream

23. I opened up a (complicated problem) when I began to talk about my salary with my boss.
a)   can of worms
b)   carrot and stick
c)   calculated risk
d)   cash cow

24. My sister has a (plan that she will use later) to help her find a new job.
a)   chip off the old block
b)   cog in the machine
c)   cock-and-bull story
d)   card up her sleeve

25. We went to the department store to shop but we (returned without anything).
a)   came from nowhere
b)   came out of our shell
c)   came away empty-handed
d)   came to a dead end

Your score is: ___  out of 5

C Idiom Quiz #6

letter c

Quiz 6 - Choose the correct idiom to replace the expression in the brackets. Check your score at the bottom. Click on the idiom for the definition.

26. We drove all day and were able to (travel a great distance).
a)   create an uproar
b)   cover a lot of ground
c)   crash and burn
d)   control the purse strings

27. In spite of the terrible weather we decided to (continue) with our camping trip.
a)   catch on
b)   clear up
c)   carry on
d)   come up

28. The crowd of people (became excited and lost control) and began to run out onto the field.
a)   circled the wagons
b)   changed their mind
c)   came down to earth
d)   got carried away

29. The children were (becoming anxious and frustrated) because they were so bored.
a)   climbing the walls
b)   coming to grief
c)   coming to their senses
d)   coming to light

30. The children got up (early in the morning) to go to the sports tournament.
a)   cast in the same mold
b)   at the crack of dawn
c)   clear sailing
d)   cracking a book

Your score is: ___  out of 5

C Idiom Quiz #7

letter c

Quiz 7 - Choose the correct idiom to replace the expression in the brackets. Check your score at the bottom. Click on the idiom for the definition.

31. The problems that (happened) because of the train accident were terrible.
a)   clued in
b)   came as no surprise
c)   came about
d)   came from far and wide

32. The little girl is (fond of) her grandfather.
a)   close to home with
b)   clear of
c)   coming out with
d)   close to

33. The two boys (began to fight) in the playground.
a)   came into their own
b)   came on strong
c)   came to nothing
d)   came to blows

34. My friend (avoided) going to the movie with me as he had promised.
a)   copped out of
b)   cashed in on
c)   conked out of
d)   cracked down on

35. I (burst into laughter) when I heard the joke.
a)   crashed the gate
b)   cracked up
c)   cramped my style
d)   cracked the whip

Your score is: ___  out of 5

C Idiom Quiz #8

letter c

Quiz 8 - Choose the correct idiom to replace the expression in the brackets. Check your score at the bottom. Click on the idiom for the definition.

36. We went to the stadium to (encourage) the team.
a)   choke up
b)   cheer up
c)   cheer on
d)   count out

37. Although there are many problems at work, I believe that everything will (work out all right).
a)   come out of left field
b)   come out in the wash
c)   come on the scene
d)   come down in the world

38. I had to (produce) many essays when I was in university.
a)   crank out
b)   cover for
c)   count in
d)   close in on

39. The two boys (shared many similarities).
a)   cut a wide swath
b)   cut a fine figure
c)   were a cut above everyone
d)   were cut from the same cloth

40. Nobody would (tell me what was going on) which was very frustrating.
a)   cut their losses
b)   clue me in
c)   cut me down to size
d)   cross swords with me

Your score is: ___  out of 5

C Idiom Quiz #9

letter c

Quiz 9 - Choose the correct idiom to replace the expression in the brackets. Check your score at the bottom. Click on the idiom for the definition.

41. The girl (inherited) much money when her parents died.
a)   came into
b)   came to grips with
c)   came down with
d)   cried out for

42. We will have to (deal with the problem) in the future.
a)   cross our hearts and hope to die
b)   cry over spilt milk
c)   cross that bridge
d)   cry uncle

43. The government made a (previously-decided) decision about the subway.
a)   cut-and-run
b)   crux-of-the-matter
c)   creature-comfort
d)   cut-and-dried

44. The man tried to (be extra friendly to) the new apartment manager.
a)   crop up to
b)   cozy up to
c)   cut down on
d)   crack a smile to

45. The young man had to (improve his performance) or he would be fired from his job.
a)   clean up his act
b)   change hands
c)   come to the fore
d)   come up smelling like roses

Your score is: ___  out of 5

C Idioms

letter c

cabin fever

- to become irritable or restless because you cannot leave your home for a long time

The children are getting cabin fever because they cannot go outside and play.

Although the weather is bad, we want to go outside before we get cabin fever.

calculated risk

- an action that may fail but has a good chance to succeed

The company took a calculated risk when they opened a new store in a very quiet area.

Call Idioms

call a loan

- to demand the immediate and complete payment of a debt/loan

The bank recently called the loan of the small business.

call a meeting

- to request that a meeting be held

The board of directors will call a meeting for next week.

call a meeting to order

- to officially start a meeting

The president called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.

call a spade a spade

- to speak bluntly

The supervisor called a spade a spade when he criticized the employee for being lazy.

call for (someone)

- to come and get someone

"Could you please call for me before you go to the game."

call for (someone or something)

- to require something, to need the services of someone

Our problems with the toilet call for a good plumber.

call in sick

- to phone one's workplace to tell them that you are sick and cannot work

My friend called in sick and will not work today.

call in (someone) or call (someone) in

- to ask someone for help, to call for special advice

We called in a doctor to look at the patient.

call in (something) or call (something) in

- to collect something for payment, to withdraw something from circulation

The bank decided to call in the business loan.

call it a day

- to finish work and go home

I called it a day and decided to go home early.

call it a night

- to stop what you have been doing for the remainder of the evening, to stop what you are doing and go to bed

We worked until very late and then we called it a night.

call it even

- to cancel someone's debt or something similiar because he or she has already returned something equal in value

My friend owed me some money. However, he helped me to fix my computer so I decided to call it even and forget about the money.

call it quits

- to stop, to finish

I called it quits and went home for the day.

call of nature

- the need to go to the toilet

The driver stopped his truck to answer the call of nature.

call off (something) or call (something) off

- to cancel something

They called off the game because of the rain.

call off the dogs or call the dogs off

- to stop threatening or chasing or hounding someone

The police decided to call the dogs off and stop hunting for the man.

call on (someone)

- to visit someone

I plan to call on my brother during my holidays.

call on (someone)

- to ask someone to participate in something or contribute something

The teacher called on me three times to answer questions in the class.

call on (someone) to speak

- to ask someone to speak, to give someone permission to speak at a meeting

The chairman called on me to speak at the meeting.

call out to (someone)

- to shout to someone

We called out to our friend at the concert but she did not hear us.

call (someone) names

- to call a person unpleasant names

The children began to call the new student names.

call (someone) on the carpet

- to call someone before an authority to be scolded or reprimanded

The salesman was called on the carpet by his boss for losing the big sale.

call (someone`s) bluff

- to challenge someone to prove that what they are saying is true

I decided to call the man's bluff and I asked him to show me the evidence.

call (someone or something) into question or call into question (someone or something)

- to dispute or cast doubt upon someone or something

The lawyer called the man's statement about his neighbor into question.

call (something) garbage

- to not believe something, to dislike something

My friend called my ideas garbage.

call the shots

- to be in charge, to give orders

The vice-president is now calling the shots and is in control of the company.

call up a document

- to find a computer document and put it on a computer screen

I had to call up the document as I was talking on the telephone.

call up (someone) or call (someone) up

- to telephone someone

My friend said that he will call up his parents tomorrow night.

calm down

- to relax

The woman calmed down after the accident.

can of worms

- a complicated situation or problem

The lawsuit opened up a can of worms for the company.

cancel (something) out or cancel out (something)

- to destroy or wipe out the effect of something

The overeating by the girl cancelled out the benefits of her exercise.

can't do anything about (someone or something)

- to be unable to manage or control someone or something

I cannot do anything about the noise in our office.

can't do anything with (someone or something)

- to be unable to manage or control someone or something

My sister is always complaining that she can't do anything with her hair.

can`t see the forest for the trees

- to be unable to understand the whole picture of something because you are only looking at small parts of it

Our boss has no understanding of most problems because he can't see the forest for the trees.

can't stand (someone or something)

- to dislike someone or something very much

My uncle cannot stand his daughter's boyfriend.

can't stomach (someone or something)

- to dislike someone or something very much

I cannot stomach the idea of another week of work before my holiday.

cap and gown

- the academic cap and the gown that is worn during graduation ceremonies

Everybody was wearing their cap and gown for the university graduation ceremonies.

card up one`s sleeve

- a plan or argument that is kept back to be used later if needed

I think that our boss has a card up his sleeve and he will help us later.

cards are stacked against (someone)

- luck is against someone

The cards have been stacked against the young boy since he was born.

(in) care of (someone)

- (send something) to one person at the address of another person

I sent the parcel to my sister in care of her friend.

carrot and stick

- a reward or a threat of punishment at the same time

The trade negotiators took a carrot-and-stick approach to the automobile talks.

carried away

- to lose one's control or judgement because of strong feelings

I got carried away and began yelling at my friend after he lost my textbook.

Carry Idioms

carry a lot of weight with (someone or something)

- to be very influential with someone or with a group of people

The man's education and experience carry a lot of weight in the university.

carry a tune

- to be able to sing accurately, to have musical ability

The girl in the music class cannot carry a tune.

carry coals to Newcastle

- to bring something of which you have much of somewhere, to duplicate something (Newcastle is a town in England where there is much coal)

Bringing extra food to the farmer`s picnic was like carrying coals to Newcastle.

carry on

- to continue, to keep doing something as before

We were permitted to carry on with the party after we talked to our apartment manager.

carry on

- to conduct, to hold

I tried hard to carry on a conversation in the noisy restaurant.

carry out (something) or carry (something) out

- to do something, to put something (a plan) into action, to accomplish something

We were able to carry out the move with no problems.

carry over (something) or carry (something) over

- to save something for another time or location

The store will carry over the sale until next week.

carry the ball

- to be in charge of something

The vice-president was asked to carry the ball while the president was away.

carry the day

- to win or be successful

The sales manager's fine performance carried the day for us.

carry the torch

- to show loyalty to a cause or a person

The mayor has been carrying the torch for the candidate for a long time.

carry the weight of the world on one's shoulders

- to appear to be burdened by all the problems of the world

My aunt feels that she is working too hard and that she is carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders.

carry through with (something)

- to put a plan into action

The company carried through with its plan to open a new factory.

carve out a niche

- to create a speciality or product or market that nobody else has

The company was able to carve out a niche for their product among university students.

a case in point

- an example that proves something or helps to make something clear

What our boss said is a case in point about what I have also been saying.

a case of mistaken identity

- an incorrect identification of someone

It was a case of mistaken identity when the police arrested the wrong person.


- a system where you pay cash for some goods and then carry or take them away

The supermarkets in our city operate on a cash-and-carry basis.

cash cow

- a good source of money

The new business is a cash cow and is making much money.

cash in (something) or cash (something) in

- to exchange something for money

We will cash in the coupons because we need some money.

cash in on (something)

- to make a lot of money or get a benefit from something

The small city cashed in on their success during the big festival.

The team is cashing in on the very good year that they are having.

The man was able to cash in on his computer skills to get a good job.

The former player cashed in on his popularity to open a successful restaurant.

cash on the barrelhead

- to pay cash to buy something

We were forced to pay cash on the barrelhead for everything at the store.

Cast Idioms

cast a vote

- to vote for something

I cast a vote in the election for a new class president.

cast a wide net

- to include many people or things when you are looking for something or trying to choose something

We cast a wide net when we were looking for a new employee.

They are casting a wide net to find someone to solve the problem.

cast about for (someone or something)

- to look for someone or something

The man has been casting about for a new job for a long time.

cast around for (someone or something)

- to look for someone or something

We are casting around for a new secretary in our company.

cast aspersions on (someone)

- to make insulting remarks about someone

The woman is always casting aspersions on her colleagues at work.

cast doubts on (someone or something)

- to cause someone or something to be doubted or not believed

The first witness at the trial cast doubts on what the main witness said.

cast in the same mold

- to be very similar

The two sisters were cast in the same mold and were almost identical.

cast one's lot in with (someone)

- to join with someone and accept whatever happens - good or bad

The woman cast her lot in with the new company and worked hard to make it a success.

cast one's vote

- to vote

We arrived early to cast our vote in the election.

cast pearls before swine

- to waste something good on someone who does not know its value (as you would if you put some pearls or something valuable before a pig who would not know nor appreciate the value of the pearls)

The man felt that he was casting pearls before swine when he gave the beautiful dress to his daughter who did not know its true value and did not apreciate it.

Giving the woman the gold earrings was like casting pearls before swine. She did not know their value nor appreciate them.

cast the first stone

- to be the first to attack someone, to be quick to blame or criticize or punish others

I told my friend that she should look at herself and her bad points rather than cast the first stone and criticize her friend.

castles in the air

- daydreams

My sister is always building castles in the air and is very unrealistic.

cat burglar

- a burglar who enters a building by climbing a wall etc.

A cat burglar entered our apartment and stole our television.

cat gets one`s tongue

- one is not able to talk because of shyness

The cat got the woman's tongue and she was not able to say anything.

a cat has nine lives

- cats can survive accidents that would kill most animals

The boy never becomes injured. He is like a cat with nine lives.

a cat in gloves catches no mice

- if you are too careful and polite you may not get what you want

A cat in gloves catches no mice and I advised my friend that he should be more aggressive at work or he will not be successful.

Catch Idioms


- a situation in which whatever decision is made the outcome will have negative consequences, a basically no-win situation

It is a catch-22 situation. If I go to work there will be problems but if I do not go to work there will also be problems.

catch a cold

- to become sick with a cold

I caught a cold because of the rain and the cold weather.


- in any way possible

We are in the middle of moving house so our meals are catch-as-catch-can.

catch fire

- to begin to burn

We were very careful that the wooden house would not catch fire.

catch forty winks

- to get some sleep

I was very tired so I decided to catch forty winks.

catch on

- to understand something, to learn about something

I was finally able to catch on and understand the math problem.

catch on

- to become popular

Recently, ballroom dancing has begun to catch on with many people.

catch one`s breath

- to stop and rest so that you can breathe normally again

After running from the station, it took me a moment to catch my breath.

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

The athlete needed to catch his breath after making a long run.

catch sight of (someone or something)

- to see someone or something briefly

The police could not catch sight of the robber after the robbery.

catch some Z's

- to get some sleep

I needed to catch some Z's after working hard all weekend.

catch (someone`s) eye

- to attract someone`s attention

I tried to catch my friend's eye but she did not notice me.

catch (someone) in the act of (doing something)

- to catch someone doing something illegal or private

The police caught the politician in the act of taking money from the business owner.

catch (someone) napping

- to find someone asleep, to find someone unprepared for something

The boss caught the employee napping and became very angry.

catch (someone) off balance

- to surprise someone who is not prepared

The security guard was able to catch the thief off balance.

The teacher tried to catch the students off balance with the difficult question.

The man was caught off balance when he discovered that he had no business license.

catch (someone) off guard

- to catch a person unprepared

I was caught off guard when the teacher asked me about my homework.

catch (someone) red-handed

- to find/catch someone in the act of doing something wrong

The clerk caught the boy red-handed when he was stealing the candy.

The student was cheating and the teacher caught him red-handed.

The police were able to catch the robber red-handed.

catch up on (something)

- to do something that you have not had time to do, to learn about something (the daily news or news about old friends)

I need to catch up on some of my reading this weekend.

I met my friend and we caught up on some news.

catch up with (someone or something)

- to become even with someone (in a race or in schoolwork etc.)

I think that it is too late to catch up with the rest of the class.

caught in the crossfire

- to be caught between two opposing people or groups so it is difficult to remain neutral

The family was caught in the crossfire between the police and the criminals.

caught in the middle

- to be caught between two opposing people or groups so it is difficult to remain neutral

I was caught in the middle when my friend and his girlfriend began to fight.

caught short

- to not have enough of something (usually money) when you need it

I was caught short last month and could not pay my credit card bill.

caught unaware

- to be surprised and unprepared for something

Everybody was caught unaware by the change in government policy.

cause a stir

- to cause people to become agitated and alarmed about something

The soccer player caused a stir when he criticized the referee.

cause eyebrows to raise

- to shock people

I caused eyebrows to raise when I did not accept the award from my company.

cause tongues to wag

- to give people something to gossip or talk about

The woman caused tongues to wag when she came to the party without her husband.

cave in to (someone or something)

- to surrender one's opposition to someone or something

The company caved in to the union`s demand for more money.

chair a meeting

- to be in charge of a meeting (you can be the chairman or chairwoman or chairperson of a meeting), to be responsible for managing a meeting

I plan to chair the meeting at our office tonight.

chalk (something) up to (something)

- to recognize something as the cause of something else

We were able to chalk our success up to our new boat.

chalk up (something) or chalk (something) up

- to record something

The stock prices of the company chalked up a big increase last week.

champ/chomp at the bit

- to be ready and anxious to do something

Everybody was champing at the bit to start taking the exam.

chance (something)

- to risk doing something

We did not want to chance driving during the storm so we stayed home.

chance upon (someone or something)

- to find someone or something by chance

I chanced upon a very interesting book during my trip.

change gears

- to suddenly change what you are doing

Our teacher likes to change gears and talk about something new.

The company will have to change gears soon as it is not doing well now.

change hands

- to be transferred from one person to another

The pizza restaurant changed hands many times during the last several years.

change horses in midstream

- to make new plans or make big changes in an activity that has already begun, to choose a new leader in an activity that has already begun

They decided to change leaders but I told them not to change horses in midstream.

We have already started the project and it is difficult to change horses in midstream and get a new leader now.

change is in the air

- a feeling that something is going to happen or change soon

The company has a new president and everyone can feel that change is in the air.

Change is in the air now that we have a new manager.

change of heart

- a change in the way one feels about something

The woman had a change of heart and let her child go to the circus.

change of pace

- a temporary change in one's routine

We decided to go to the lake for a change of pace.

The woman wants a change of pace so she will change jobs in her company.

We will eat at a restaurant tonight for a change of pace.

change of scenery

- a move to a different place where things are different

My sister and her husband have decided to move because they want a change of scenery.

change one`s mind

- to change one`s decision

My friend changed his mind and will not go to the movie tonight.

change one`s tune

- to make a change in one`s story/statement/opinion/policy

Our supervisor has changed his tune and agrees that we need to do things differently.

change the subject

- to begin talking about something different

I always try to change the subject when my friend begins to talk about money.

The child always wants to change the subject when he does something bad.

The father always tries to change the subject when his children want to buy something.

in charge of (something)

- to be responsible for an activity or group of people

Our teacher is in charge of selling tickets for the school dance.

charley horse

- a cramp in one's arm or leg from straining oneself or doing too much exercise

I got a charley horse while I was running this morning.

charm the pants off (someone)

- to use very nice or charming behavior to persuade someone to do something

I was able to charm the pants off the man in the job interview and I got the job.

cheat on (someone)

- to be unfaithful to someone

The man began cheating on his wife which was the cause of their divorce.

check in (at an airport)

- to go to an airport and talk to an airline agent before boarding an airplane

We arrived at the airport and checked in early.

check into (a motel/hotel)

- to register at a motel or hotel

We arrived at the hotel and then checked in.

check on (someone or something)

- to examine someone or something in order to determine the condition of it/him/her

We always check on our baby before we go to sleep.

check one's luggage

- to give your luggage to an airline agent in return for a luggage claim ticket

I checked my luggage and went to wait for my flight.

check out (of a motel/hotel)

- to pay the bill at a motel or hotel and then leave

We ate breakfast and then we checked out of the hotel.

check out (something) or check (something) out

- to investigate something, to examine something

We went to the apartment building to check out the new apartment.

check over (something) or check (something) over

- to look at something carefully to see if there are any problems or mistakes

I checked over my essay before I gave it to the teacher.

check up on (someone or something)

- to examine someone or something in order to determine the condition of it/him/her

We must check up on my mother because she has been very sick recently.

cheek by jowl

- side by side, in close intimacy

The fans entered the stadium cheek by jowl.


- with one person's cheek pressed up against another person's cheek

The couple was dancing cheek-to-cheek.

the cheek to (do something)

- rudeness, impudence

The woman had the cheek to tell me that she was sick and could not work today.

cheer on (someone) or cheer (someone) on

- to encourage someone who is trying to do something

Everybody came to the stadium to cheer on the home team.

cheer up (someone) or cheer (someone) up

- to make a sad person happy

We took our friend to a nice restaurant to cheer her up.

chew out (someone) or chew (someone) out

- to scold someone roughly

The teacher chewed out the student for talking in class.

chew the fat/rag

- to chat

The two men were chewing the fat in front of the house.

chicken feed

- a small amount of money

The man sold his car for chicken feed.

chicken out (of something)

- to stop doing something because of fear

I chickened out of jumping into the lake from the high diving board.

(one's) chickens have come home to roost

- one's words or actions have come back to cause trouble for someone

The girl's chickens have come home to roost and now she must take responsibility for her actions.

chilled to the bone

- very cold

I was chilled to the bone when I came in from the rain.

The children were chilled to the bone after their break.

We were chilled to the bone when we came out of the water.

chime in

- to join in a song or conversation

We were having a nice conversation until our friend chimed in and started complaining about things.

chip in

- to contribute to something, to pay jointly for something

We chipped in and bought our father a birthday present.

chip off the old block

- a person who looks or acts like one of his parents

The boy is a chip off the old block and acts exactly like his father.

chip on one's shoulders

- a tendency to try to argue or get into a conflict with others

The man has a chip on his shoulders and wants to fight with everybody.

chips are down

- the time when one faces the greatest obstacles

When the chips are down the boy goes to his father for help.

chisel (someone) out of (something)

- to cheat someone to get money

My friend tried to chisel his brother out of some money.

choke (someone) up or choke up (someone)

- to make someone cry or become overemotional and speechless

The story of the boy's illness choked the woman up.

choke (something) off or choke off (something)

- to force something to an end or to a stop

The government was able to choke off the flow of money to the criminal gang.

choose sides

- to choose from a group of people or players to be on opposing sides of a debate/fight/game

We had to choose sides before we played the game.

circle the wagons

- to set up a defense against an enemy

The managers began to circle the wagons as the accounting scandal became worse.

claim a life

- to take the life of someone

The accident on the freeway claimed the life of two people.

clam up

- to close one's mouth, to shut up, to stop talking

The students clammed up when they saw the teacher.

clamp down on (someone or something)

- to become strict with someone or about something

The police are going to clamp down on drivers who drive too fast.

a clarion call

- a strong and clear request for people to do something, an urgent call for some kind of action (a clarion is a type of old trumpet)

The government leader made a clarion call for people to help during the disaster.

The newspaper sent out a clarion call for help with the project.

The politician used his speech as a clarion call for better health care.

clean bill of health

- the assurance that an animal or person is healthy

The astronaut was given a clean bill of health before he began training.

clean out (someone) or clean (someone) out

- to rob someone of almost everything, to steal almost everything from someone

The robber enterd the store at night and cleaned out the owners.

clean out (something) or clean (something) out

- to empty something, to tidy something by removing something

We spent the day trying to clean out our garage.

clean slate

- a record that shows no bad behavior or other problems from the past

The man started with a clean slate after he lost his previous job.

clean up one's act

- to improve one's performance

The mayor will have to clean up his act if he wants to get elected again.

Clear Idioms

clear a hurdle

- to overcome an obstacle (from a hurdle in a track and field race)

We finally cleared a major hurdle in our effort to get a business license to sell our products.

clear away (something) or clear (something) away

- to remove the contents of something, to take something away

The parks department began to clear away the old trees in the field.


- clearly stated, clear and certain

The boy gave a clear-cut answer to the question.

There will be no clear-cut decision about the player until next week.

There is no clear-cut method to do the project.

clear of (something)

- to be not touching something

We checked that the ladder was clear of the electrical wires before we painted the house.

clear out (of somewhere)

- to leave, to get out (usually quickly or abruptly)

We cleared out of the building when our class was finished.

clear out (something) or clear (something) out

- to clean somewhere, to remove something

We cleared out the room before we started to paint.

clear sailing

- to be an easy situation

It was clear sailing after we finished work and began our holiday.

clear (someone's) name

- to prove that someone is not guilty of something

The man tried very hard to clear his name regarding his past criminal activity.

clear the air

- to calm down and remove bad feelings

We tried to clear the air after our argument.

clear the decks

- to clear away things and prepare for action, to get out of the way

"Let`s clear the decks and get everyone out of the house so that we can begin work."

clear the table

- to remove the dishes and eating utensils from a table

After we finished eating we cleared the table.

clear up

- to become sunny

It stopped raining and cleared up this morning.

clear up (something) or clear (something) up

- to solve or explain (a problem etc.)

We cleared up the problem that we were having with our computers.

click on (something)

- to move a computer mouse or cursor to someplace on a computer screen and then click on it

I clicked on the link to open the new page.


- a sports event or movie or election where the outcome is uncertain until the very end

The playoff game was a cliffhanger and the most exciting game of the year.

climb on the bandwagon

- to join a popular activity or campaign

Many students climbed on the bandwagon to raise money for the school orchestra.

climb out of the gutter

- to improve one's position or situation

The man was able to climb out of the gutter and begin to solve his problems.

climb the wall

- to be so bored that you become anxious and frustrated

The woman began to climb the wall after only a few days at her new job.

clip joint

- a low-class business where people are cheated

The men went into a clip joint near the bus station and had to pay a lot of money.

clip (someone`s) wings

- to limit someone`s activities or possibilities

The company decided to clip the manager's wings and will take away his expense account.


- involving secercy and plotting

The spy was involved in some cloak-and-dagger operations.

Close Idioms

close a deal

- to end a negotiation successfully

We had to work hard but we were finally able to close the deal.

close at hand

two robots made from cardboard boxes

- within reach, nearby, very close

The day that the new coach will arrive is now close at hand.

A new agreement with the union seems to be close at hand.

The man always keeps a glass of water close at hand when he is working.

close call

- an accident or incident that almost happens but does not happen

I had a close call this morning when the truck almost hit me.

close in on (someone or something)

- to overwhelm or surround someone or something

The soldiers quickly closed in on the enemy position.


- uncommunicative, secretive

The man was close-mouthed about why he quit his job.

close one's eyes to (something)

- to ignore something

The teacher closed her eyes to the misbehavior of the students.

close ranks

- to unite and fight together, to join together to support someone or something, to join together in a cause

The political parties closed ranks to support the new law.

close shave

- an accident or incident that almost happens but does not happen

I had a close shave when I almost missed my airplane flight.

We had a close shave this morning and almost had an accident.

I had a close shave when the bicycle almost hit me.

close the books

- to balance the accounting records in a business, to end a bookkeeping period

The company will close the books at the end of December.

The small business likes to close the books every month.

The small company will end its business soon but first they must close the books.

close the books on (something)

- to end something

The city closed the books on the idea of building a new stadium.

We must close the books on the terrible situation soon.

The police have decided to close the books on the murder case.

close to home

- to be close to someone`s personal feelings or wishes or interests

My statement about the woman's work habits hit close to home and she became very quiet.

close to (someone)

- to be fond of someone and have a good relationship with him or her

The boy is very close to his grandfather.

cloud up

- to become cloudy

It began to cloud up and soon started raining.

clue in (someone) or clue (someone) in

- to inform someone about something

We tried to clue the principal in about why the students were absent.

clutter up (something) or clutter (something) up

- to fill a space with something (usually with too much or too many of something)

I have too many photos which are cluttering up my phone.

The emails are taking much space and cluttering my computer up.

The child's toys are beginning to clutter up the room.

the coast is clear

- no danger is in sight, no one can see you

When the coast is clear we will try to enter the building.

coat and tie

- a jacket or a sports coat and a necktie

The company asked everyone to wear a coat and tie to the company dinner.

cock-and-bull story

- a story that is not true

The boys gave us a cock-and-bull story about the tire marks in front of our house.

cog in the machine

- a small and unimportant part of a large organization

The employees felt like they were only cogs in the machine so the atmosphere at the company was not very good.

cold comfort

- no comfort at all

The government offered money to the victims of the fire but it was cold comfort to those who had lost their families.

cold fish

- a cold and unfeeling person

The man was a cold fish and cared little about his family.

cold snap/spell

- a sudden short period of cold weather

The cold snap lasted for five days.

cold turkey

- the immediate and complete withdrawal from something on which one has become dependent (can be used for drugs such as heroin or things like tobacco)

The woman stopped using drugs cold turkey.

Come Idioms

come a cropper

- to fail

I think that the man will come a cropper in the chess tournament.

come a long way

- to make great progress

The manager has come a long way and has learned many things about his new company.

come about

- to happen

Everybody believes that the plans for the new community center will never come about.

come across (someone or something)

- to find something or meet someone by chance

I came across an interesting story in the newspaper last week.

Come again.

- Please repeat or say that again.

"Come again. I did not hear you the first time."

come alive

- to brighten up and become active

The girl suddenly came alive and began to enjoy the party.

come along

- to make progress, to thrive

The work on our new house is coming along very well.

come apart at the seams

- to be in a bad situation and to begin to lose control, to become extremely upset

Our team is coming apart at the seams since our coach left.

The man is coming apart at the seams since he lost his job.

come around

- to finally agree to something, to return to consciousness or wake up

My father finally came around and agreed to let me go to Europe to study.

come as no surprise

- to not be surprising

It came as no surprise that the government decided to have an election.

come away empty-handed

- to return without anything

The man came away empty-handed after shopping all morning.

come back

- to return to the place where you are now

My cousin came back from her holidays last week.

come back (into fashion)

- to become popular again

Recently, bell-bottom pants have come back into fashion.

come back (to someone)

- to return to one`s memory

The strange events of last year are slowly coming back to me.

come between (two people)

- to disrupt the relationship between (two people)

The mother's constant interfering finally came between the man and his wife.

come by (something)

- to get or obtain or acquire something

My aunt came by much money recently and is now enjoying her life.

come clean

- to tell the truth, to confess something

The president of the company was forced to come clean and tell the truth about the problems.

a come-down

- a lowering in status or income or influence or energy

My friend's new job is a come-down from her last one and she is not very happy.

come down hard on (someone)

- to scold or punish someone severely

The police are coming down hard on drunk drivers now.

come down in the world

- to lose one's social position

My father came down in the world when he decided to change jobs.

come down to earth

- to stop imagining or dreaming about things

My friend has finally come down to earth and is seriously looking for a job.

come down to (something)

- to be reduced to something

The man's decision about the job came down to how it would affect his family.

come down with (something)

- to become sick with a cold or other illness

My mother came down with a cold and was unable to attend the dinner.

come from (somewhere)

- to originate from somewhere, to be a native of a place

Several of the new students come from Mexico.

come from far and wide

- to come from many different places

The people came from far and wide to hear the new band.

come from nowhere

- to come as a surprise and with no warning

The truck came from nowhere as we were driving along the road.

come full circle

- to return to one's original position

The university has come full circle with its policy on new students.

The woman came full circle in her choice of studies at her university.

The debate has come full circle and we are now back where we started.

come hell or high water

- no matter what happens

Come hell or high water, I plan to go to the concert next week.

come home to (someone)

- to become apparent to someone

It suddenly came home to the young family that their house had been destroyed in the fire.

come home to roost

- to have your previous actions cause problems in the present, chickens come home to roost in an established place

The boy did not study hard and now his bad decisions are coming home to roost.

Be careful what you decide to do or your bad decisions will come home to roost.

We prepared some food for the chickens before they come home to roost.

come in a close second

- to almost be chosen first for something

The politician came in a close second in the election.

come in handy

- to be useful or convenient

I think that the small hammer will come in handy to fix the desk.

come in high

- to charge too much for your services, to ask for a price that is too high

The salesman came in high during the negotiations and could not sell his product.

come in low

- to offer a low amount of money for a product or service

The company came in low with an offer for our product.

come into being

- to begin to exist

The new parking regulations will come into being soon.

The new tax will come into being next month.

Our company came into being when two small companies joined together.

come into fashion

- to become fashionable

These days bright colors have come into fashion.

come into one`s own

- to begin to perform or work well because of good circumstances

The basketball player has come into his own since he changed positions.

come into (some money)

- to get possession of some money, to inherit some money

The man came into much money which he later donated to charity.

come of age

- to be old enough to vote or marry or sign legal contracts etc.

When my classmates came of age most of them started to vote.

come off

- to become detached, to be removed, to be separated from something

The lid of the glass jar will not come off.

The price tag came off the shirt in the store so I did not know the price.

Suddenly, the handle came off the pot.

come off

- to be successful, to happen

The party came off without any problems and everyone was happy.

come on!

- please, hurry, go faster

"Come on, I only have a few minutes before I must go."

"Come on, stop doing that."

come on board

- to begin to work somewhere

The new manager came on board last month.

come on strong

- to overwhelm others with a strong personality

The man came on too strong during the job interview.

come on the scene

- to appear in a certain area or place

When the new DVD player came on the scene everybody wanted one.

come out against (someone or something)

- to announce or say that you are against someone or something

The mayor of the city decided to come out against building the new bridge.

The manager of the team has come out against trying to get the very expensive player.

Many managers in the company have come out against the new policy.

come out ahead

- to improve one's situation

Although our new car was expensive, we came out ahead because it is very cheap to operate.

come out for (someone or something)

- to announce one's support for (someone or something)

The mayor recently came out for legal gambling in the city.

come out for (something)

- to appear for something, to attend something

Many people came out for the concert in the park.

come out in the wash

- to work out all right, to turn out well in the end, to become understood eventually

Everything came out in the wash as the students discussed their problems.

come out of left field

- to be completely unexpected, to be a surprise (from the game of baseball)

The manager's new idea came out of left field and we have no idea what it means.

come out of nowhere

- to appear suddenly

The eagle came out of nowhere and captured the small mouse.

come out of one's shell

- to become more friendly or sociable

The little boy came out of his shell and began to talk to everybody around him.

come out of the blue

- to appear suddenly (as if from the sky)

My friend's idea for making money came out of the blue.

come out of the closet

- to reveal one's secret interests, to reveal that one is gay

Nobody was surprised when my cousin came out of the closet.

come out swinging

- to strongly defend yourself or something that you believe in, to begin to attack someone at the beginning of something (as you would do in a boxing match when you begin to fight or swing your arms to hit someone from the beginning of the match)

The politician wanted to come out swinging in order to fight against his critics.

The man came out swinging in the meeting in order to defend himself.

come out with (something)

- to say something, to make something known

The child has recently come out with many funny expressions.

come over

- to come for a visit

My friend is going to come over for a visit tonight.

come over

- to change sides

The politician supports the opposition but we hope that he will soon come over to our side.

come (someone's) way

- to come to someone

A small blue car came my way while I was standing on the highway.

come thick and fast

- to come quickly and in large numbers

The questions from the students came thick and fast during the lecture.

The insects came thick and fast during our picnic.

Job applications are coming thick and fast for the job advertisement.

come through (for someone)

- to do what one is required or expected to do (often under difficult circumstances)

My friend will always come through for me when I need his help.

come through (something)

- to complete a difficult activity successfully, to survive something successfully

Our town came through the big storm with no damage.

come to

- to regain consciousness

The woman came to a few hours after the accident.

come to a bad end

- to end in disaster

The man and his family came to a bad end when they moved to a small town.

come to a dead end

- to be unable to go any further

We kept driving on the dirt road until we came to a dead end.

come to a (grinding) halt

- to stop completely

The traffic on the bridge came to a grinding halt because of the accident.

Work, in most companies, came to a halt after the earthquake.

The Internet was not working so work came to a halt in our company.

come to a head

- to come to a point where a problem must be solved

The issue came to a head and everyone was forced to talk about the problem.

come to a pretty pass

- to develop into a bad or difficult situation

Things have come to a pretty pass and nobody knows what to do about the problem.

come to a standstill

- to stop

The circus came to a standstill when the elephant escaped from his cage.

come to accept (something)

- to begin or learn to do or feel something

At first, I disliked the girl but recently I have come to accept her.

come to an end

- to stop, to finish

When the story came to an end the children had fallen asleep.

come to believe (something)

- to begin or learn to believe something

Many people have come to believe that the stadium is too old.

come to blows

- to begin to fight

The two men came to blows when they were trying to fix the car.

come to feel (something)

- to begin or learn to feel something

I have come to feel that the girl is not suited for this job.

come to grief

- to have a bad accident or disappointment

The man has recently come to grief because of his son`s problems with the police.

come to grips with (something)

- to struggle successfully with an idea or problem

The woman has finally come to grips with her husband`s gambling.

come to know (someone or something)

- to begin to know something

Since I have come to know the girl, I really like her.

come to life

- to become alive or lively

The party came to life when the host and hostess entered the room.

come to light

- to be discovered, to become known

It has come to light that the company recently lost millions of dollars.

come to mind

- to enter into one's consciousness

Nothing came to mind when I tried to remember the names of the actors.

come to naught

- to end in failure

Our efforts to find a new apartment have come to naught.

come to nothing

- to end in failure

All of my efforts to help my friend find a job came to nothing.

come to one`s senses

- to begin to think clearly or act sensibly

The man came to his senses and bought a cheap car rather than an expensive one.

come to pass

- to happen, to occur

I do not know what will come to pass but now the company has many financial problems.

come to (something)

- to be equal to something, to total a number, to amount to something

Our weekly food bill comes to much money every week.

come to terms with (someone or something)

- to reach an agreement with someone, to accept something

We came to terms with the bank and were able to buy the house.

come to the fore

- to come into an important place or position, to come to the front

Several members of the class came to the fore and took important positions in the club.

come to the point

- to start talking about the thing that is most important, to be direct

My boss always quickly comes to the point when he wants to talk to me.

The man's speech was interesting but he never really came to the point.

come true

- to become reality, to prove to be correct

The young girl is working hard to make her dreams come true.

come unglued

- to lose emotional control

The woman came unglued when she learned that she had lost her job.

come up

- to happen unexpectedly

I know that I will not be able to go to the party if something comes up.

come up against (someone or something)

- to encounter a difficulty or a problem or someone who may prevent you from achieving your goal

I came up against a very difficult problem while I was working with my computer programmer.

come up in a conversation

- to appear in a conversation, to be mentioned in a conversation

Some interesting topics came up in my conversation with my friend today.

The man's name did not come up in our conversation today.

come up in the world

- to improve one's status or situation in life

I knew that I had come up in the world when I was invited to dinner with the president of our company.

come up smelling like roses

- to look good after a difficult or bad time

Everybody in the company looked bad except for our manager who came up smelling like roses.

come up to (someone or something)

- to approach someone or something

The man came up to me and asked me for directions.

come up with (something)

- to produce/find/create a thought or idea or answer

We are trying to come up with a name for the new magazine.

come what may

- no matter what might happen

Come what may, I am determined to go to Spain for my holidays.

come with the territory

- to be expected under the circumstances (like something that comes with a sales territory)

The fact that the man has no free time comes with the territory with his work as a news reporter.

commit (something) to memory

- to memorize something

I worked hard to commit the names to memory.

common touch

- a friendly manner with everyone

My neighbor has a common touch and everybody likes him a lot.

company man

- a person who always works hard and agrees with his employees

My uncle was a company man and was very devoted to his company.

con (someone) out of (something)

- to trick someone to give you money or something valuable

The man on the street corner tried to con the woman out of some money.

confession is good for the soul

- if you have done something wrong you will feel better if you confess or tell someone what you did

Confession is good for the soul and the little boy felt better after he told his parents about his mistake.

The criminal had done many bad things. However, confession is good for the soul and he was trying to talk about his situation and improve himself.

confide in (someone)

- to tell secrets or personal information to someone

I usually confide in my friend when I have a problem.

confuse (someone or something) with (someone or something)

- to fail to distinguish between two things or people

I always confuse our new teacher with our previous teacher.

The boy confused one word with another word.

conk out

- to fall asleep quickly and with great fatigue

After we returned from the hike, I immediately conked out in front of the TV.

consider an offer

- to think about an offer or proposal

The man considered the offer to buy his car.

consign (something) to history

- to stop using or doing something

The old phone technology will soon be consigned to history.

The ideas of the famous economist have been consigned to history.

Some English expressions are no longer used and have been consigned to history.

conspicuous by one's absence

- to have one's absence noticed

The teacher was conspicuous by her absence and everybody asked where she was.

contradiction in terms

- a statement that seems to have a contradiction

It was a contradiction in terms for the woman to pretend that she had no money while living in a mansion.

contrary to (someone or something)

- opposite to someone or something, in spite of something

Contrary to what I thought, my friend has already quit his job.

Contrary to what the newspaper said, the game started two hours earlier.

Contrary to public opinion, this particular food is not good for our health.

control the purse strings

- to be in charge of the money

My mother used to control the purse strings in our family.

cook (someone`s) goose

- to destroy someone`s chances, to damage or ruin someone

The girl cooked her goose and now has no chance of getting the new job.

cook the books

- to cheat in bookkeeping

The accountant was fired when someone discovered that he was cooking the books.

cook up a storm

- to prepare a large quantity of food

My friend cooked up a storm for the party.

cook up (something) or cook (something) up

- to invent something, to plan or plot something

I do not know what kind of plan the woman is cooking up but it will be interesting.

cool as a cucumber

- to be very calm and brave, to be not worried or anxious

The woman was as cool as a cucumber when her canoe turned over in the river.

cool down

- to become less angry, to become cooler

The man was very angry but finally he cooled down.

We had to wait while the motor cooled down.

We stayed inside our house until the temperature outside cooled down.

cool off

- to let one's anger become less strong

The teacher sent the children into the corner to cool off.

cool one`s heels

- to be kept waiting

The man was forced to cool his heels before his boss would talk to him.

cop a plea

- to plead guilty to a crime in order to get a lesser penalty

The man was forced to cop a plea when the evidence against him became very strong.

cop out

- to avoid doing something that you were planning to do

My friend copped out from our plan to go to to the beach for the day.

copy (someone) on (something)

- to send a copy of a letter or memo or email to someone

I plan to copy my supervisor on the letter that I am writing.

a copycat

- someone who copies another person`s work or actions

The little boy was accused of being a copycat by the other children.

corner the market

- to dominate a particular market with your product

The large company has cornered the market for cell phones in our city.

cost a pretty penny

- to cost a lot of money

My aunt's new coat cost a pretty penny.

cost an arm and a leg

- to cost much money

The new motorcycle cost the man an arm and a leg.

The price of the new phone is ridiculous. It will cost an arm and a leg.

Recently, some basic foods cost an arm and a leg.

cough (something) up or cough up (something)

- to be forced or pressured to give someone something (often information or money)

We asked our friend to cough up some money for the restaurant meal.

The man had to cough up some information for the police.

could do with (someone or something)

- to want or need someone or something

I could do with a new computer because mine is getting old.

count down

- to count backwards from any number to zero, to wait impatiently for something

They counted down the seconds before the rocket was launched.

People began to count down the seconds before the New Year began.

The students are counting down the days until the holiday begins.

count noses

- to count people

After the teacher finished counting noses everybody got on the bus.

count on (someone or something)

- to depend on someone or something

You can count on our boss to do everything right.

count one's blessings

- to appreciate and be thankfull for the good things that you have in your life

The young man needs to count his blessings and stop complaining all of the time.

The woman is very lucky and she should count her blessings every day.

count one`s chickens before they`re hatched

- to assume that something will be successful before it is certain

"Don`t count your chickens before they`re hatched. You are spending your money before you have a job."

count (someone) in or count in (someone)

- to include someone in something

I know that my friends will count me in if they go to the zoo.

count (someone) out or count out (someone)

- to exclude someone from something

"Please count me out of your plans to go skiing this weekend."

count toward/towards (something)

- to be part of what is needed to achieve something

The course which the student took in the summer will count toward her university degree.

The work in the classroom will count towards the final grade of the students.

I gave my friend some computer games which will count toward the money that I owe him.

a course of action

- the procedures that will be followed to do something

We decided on a course of action before we told our boss our decision.

cover a lot of ground

- to deal with much information or facts, to travel a great distance

We covered a lot of ground in our history class at school.

cover for (someone)

- to make excuses for someone, to cover someone's errors

I covered for my friend when she was late for work.

cover for (someone)

- to do someone else's work

We always cover for each other when someone at work is sick.

cover one`s tracks

- to hide where one has been, to hide what one has done

The man was trying to cover his tracks but it was easy to see where he had been.

cover up (something) or cover (something) up

- to hide something wrong or bad

The politician tried to cover up the facts regarding the illegal campaign funds.

cozy up to (someone)

- to try to be extra friendly to someone

I do not know what my neighbor wants but recently he has been trying to cozy up to me.

crack a book

- to open a book to study

I did not crack a book until the last week of classes.

crack a joke

- to tell a joke

The man was much fun at the party because he was always cracking jokes.

crack a smile

- to let a smile show on one`s face

Our boss never cracked a smile during the meeting.

crack down on (someone or something)

- to enforce laws or rules strictly

The school principal decided to crack down on people running in the halls.

crack of dawn

- daybreak, early in the morning

We got up at the crack of dawn to go fishing.

crack open a book

- to open a book to study

I did not crack open a book during the weekend.

crack the whip

- to try to make someone work hard or obey you by threatening him or her

Our boss had to crack the whip in order to get the job finished before the weekend.

crack up

- to burst into laughter

I cracked up when the man started talking about the incident with the taxi driver.


- an eccentric person with ideas that do not make sense to others, a crazy person

The man is a crackpot and you never know what he will do next.

cram (something) down (someone's) throat

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

The woman's boss always tries to cram company changes down her throat.

cramp one`s style

- to limit one`s talk or action

Working in the new department is beginning to cramp my style.

crank out (something) or crank (something) out

- to produce or make something

I was able to crank out two very good papers before the end of the year.

crash and burn

- to fail spectacularly

We did not want to crash and burn so we were careful about how we proceeded with the project.

crash the gate

- to enter someplace without a ticket or without paying

Many people did not have a ticket for the concert so they tried to crash the gate.

crazy about (someone or something)

- to be very much in love with someone, to be very enthusiastic about something

The girl is crazy about the boy in her university class.

The man is crazy about cars.

cream of the crop

- the best of a group, the top choice

When our company hires new employees we look for the cream of the crop.

create a stink

- to make a big issue out of something

The woman tried to create a stink when she found the bad product at the supermarket.

create an uproar

- to cause a sensation or outburst

The referees created an uproar when they asked the star player to leave the game.

creature comforts

- things that make people comfortable

We had no creature comforts during our trip to South America.

a creature of habit

- a person who always does the same things in the same way

The man is a creature of habit and always goes to the same restaurant to eat.

The woman is a creature of habit and always goes for a walk in the morning.

My grandmother is a creature of habit and likes to do the same things every day.

a credit to (someone or something)

- to be invaluable or beneficial to someone or something

The doctor was a credit to the hospital where he worked.

the creeps

- a strong feeling of fear or disgust

I get the creeps every time that I see a snake.

creep up on (someone or something)

- to crawl quietly toward someone or something

The thief crept up on the woman in the supermarket.

crocodile tears

- a show of sorrow that is not real

The man said that he was very sorry but his tears were only crocodile tears.

crop up

- to appear or happen unexpectedly

I will meet my friend early next week unless something crops up that keeps me busy.

cross a bridge before one comes to it

- to think and worry about future events or problems before they happen

We should not worry about that problem now. We do not need to cross that bridge before we come to it.

cross a bridge when one comes to it

- to deal with a situation when and not before it happens

I am not going to worry about losing my job now. I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

cross one`s heart and hope to die

- to promise that what you are saying is true

"I promise that I will give you the money next week. Cross my heart and hope to die."

cross one`s mind

- to think of something, to occur to someone

It crossed my mind that I will see my friend in the evening so I do not need to phone him.

cross out (something) or cross (something) out

- to eliminate something by drawing a line through it

I crossed out my name from the list of volunteers.

cross swords with (someone)

- to have an argument with someone

I do not want to cross swords with my supervisor again.

cross the Rubicon

- to do something where you cannot go back (Julius Ceasar crossed the Rubicon and made a fight with the Roman Senate inevitable)

The man crossed the Rubicon when he began on a course that he could not turn back from.

cross to bear/carry

- something that you must do or continue with even though you are suffering

Looking after my sister`s children is my cross to bear.

crunch numbers

- to do mathematical calculations

Our boss is in his office crunching numbers for our company.

crux of the matter

- the central issue of a matter

The crux of the matter is that we do not have enough money to go on a holiday.

cry bloody murder

- to scream like something very serious has happened

The woman cried bloody murder when the man tried to steal her purse.

cry out for (someone or something)

- to need someone or something badly, to lack something

The new room that we built cries out for new furniture.

The baby cried out for her mother.

cry over spilt milk

- to cry or complain about something that has already happened

"Don`t cry over spilt milk. You can never change the past."

cry uncle

- to admit defeat, to admit that you have lost

The wrestler had to cry uncle when the other wrestler pinned him to the mat.

cry wolf

- to warn of danger that is not there

The man is always crying wolf and now nobody believes him.

crying need for (someone or something)

- a desperate need for someone or something

There is a crying need for nurses in the local hospital.

a crying shame

- a very unfortunate situation

It was a crying shame that our class trip to Europe was cancelled.

cue (someone) in or cue in (someone)

- to tell someone what is going on

I did not know what was happening until somebody cued me in.

cup of joe

- a cup of coffee

We stopped at the cafe for a cup of joe.

(not one`s) cup of tea

- (not) something that one enjoys

Modern art is not my cup of tea so I will stay home and not go to the art gallery.

curiosity killed the cat

- being too nosy or curious may get a person into trouble

"You should not worry about what your friend is doing. Remember, curiosity killed the cat."

curl up and die

- to retreat and die

I wanted to curl up and die when I saw my old boyfriend at the party.

curry favor with (someone)

- to flatter someone to get his or her help or friendship

Our boss has been working hard to curry favor with the other members of the committee.

Cut Idioms

cut a deal

- to make a business arrangement or deal with someone

The company was able to cut a deal with their employees.

cut a fine figure

- to look good, to dress well

The man cut a fine figure when he entered the dining room.

cut a wide swath

- to attract a lot of attention, to cause a lot of damage

The man cuts a wide swath when he enters a room.

The disease cut a wide swath as it moved through the country.

a cut above (someone or something)

- a little better than someone or something

The new principal is a cut above the previous one.

cut across

- to cross or go through something instead of going around it

We decided to cut across the field because we were in a hurry to get to school.


- already decided or settled

The decision was cut-and-dried and nobody asked for our opinion.

Our manager made a cut-and-dried decision to change our work schedules.


- simple and easy to understand, boring

The instructions for the machine were cut-and-dried and very easy to understand.

Our professor gave us another cut-and-dried lecture today.

cut and run

- to leave as quickly as possible

We cut and run as soon as we finished delivering the goods.

cut back on (something)

- to use fewer or use less of something

We were forced to cut back on the number of people who were invited to the party.

cut both ways

- to serve both sides of an argument

What the man said cuts both ways and we should think carefully about it.

cut class

- to not go to class

I cut class last week and went to a movie.

cut corners

- to economize, to not spend money

We will have to cut corners in order to save money for our holiday.

cut down on (something)

- to use less of something

Recently, the man has cut down on his smoking in order to become more healthy.

cut from the same cloth

- to share a lot of similarities

The two boys are cut from the same cloth and are similar in every way.

cut no ice with (someone)

- to have no influence on someone

The girl's excuses cut no ice with her teacher or the principal.

cut off one`s nose to spite one`s face

- to make things worse for oneself because you are angry at someone else

The man is cutting off his nose to spite his face. Taking revenge on his neighbor will only cause him more problems.

cut off (something) or cut (something) off

- to shorten something by cutting the ends

The string was too long so I cut off the end.

cut one's eyeteeth on (something)

- to have done something since one was very young

The man cut his eyeteeth on fixing bicycles and he is now an expert.

cut one's losses

- to reduce one's losses

We decided to cut our losses and sell our business before it lost more money.

cut one's (own) throat

- to cause problems for oneself by one's own actions

The man cut his own throat when he suddenly quit his job.

The girl cut her throat when she began to fight with her coach.

cut out for (something)

- to have a talent for something, to be suited for something

I do not think that I am cut out for the travelling that is required for my job.

cut out (something) or cut (something) out

- to eliminate something

My cousin decided to cut out chocolate in order to lose weight.

cut out (something) or cut (something) out

- to remove something by cutting

I cut out the story from the newspaper.

cut out the deadwood

- to remove unproductive people from a job

The company decided to cut out the deadwood and began to fire many people.

cut out to be (something)

- to have the ability or interest or qualifications to be something

The man is not cut out to be a salesman.

cut short (something) or cut (something) short

- to make something shorter, to interrupt something

The man had to cut short his speech.

We decided to cut short our holidays and come home early.

cut (someone) a check

- to write a check to someone, to have a computer print a check (usually used for checks from a business)

We cut the man a check for the work that he had done.

cut (someone) down to size

- to criticize someone who is too confident or proud in order to make him or her feel less important

I cut my colleague down to size when I criticized what he said at the meeting.

cut (someone) in or cut in (someone)

- to give someone a share of something

I cut my friend in on the profits from selling the computers.

cut (someone) off or cut off (someone)

- to stop someone from saying something, to disconnect someone on the phone

I tried to tell my friend about the problem but he cut me off before I could speak.

cut (someone) some slack

- to permit someone to do something that is not usually permitted, to treat someone less severely than is usual

The teacher cut the students some slack and changed the date of the test.

The boy had made a serious mistake but his father cut him some slack and did not punish him.

cut (someone) to the quick

- to hurt someone's feelings very badly

The woman cut her friend to the quick when she criticized her new clothes.

cut the mustard

- to reach the required standard for something

The man does not cut the mustard and he will not be able to work here.

cut to the chase

- to get to the important matter of something

The lawyer cut to the chase and was able to get the information quickly.