H Idioms and Quizzes

H Idiom Quiz #1

letter h

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. We (had a lot of fun) at the sports festival last weekend.
a)   harped on something
b)   had a ball
c)   had half a mind
d)   hit the spot

2. "Please (wait a minute). I`m not ready yet."
a)   have a head on your shoulders
b)   have a fit
c)   hold the reins
d)   hold your horses

3. The student (should) spend more time studying for his test or he will fail.
a)   has egg on his face to
b)   had better
c)   should hit the bottle to
d)   has it coming to

4. I have looked (everywhere) for the pen that I lost.
a)   hand-to-mouth
b)   haywire
c)   heart-to-heart
d)   high and low

5. The girl`s mother (was very upset) when the child came home with her new dress dirty.
a)   had a ball
b)   had a fit
c)   had egg on her face
d)   hit the nail on the head

Your score is: ___  out of 5

H Idiom Quiz #2

letter h

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. The boy (wants) a new bicycle for the summer.
a)   has it out with
b)   hit it off with
c)   has had it with
d)   has his heart set on

7. The small company plans to (dramatically promote) the new product.
a)   hype up
b)   hush up
c)   hold off
d)   hold back

8. My friend has been making money (very rapidly) since she started her new business.
a)   hand-to-mouth
b)   holding still
c)   hand over fist
d)   high-and-mighty

9. Going to buy the tickets before the game is a real (bother).
a)   hot potato
b)   haywire
c)   hard-and-fast rule
d)   hassle

10. I was very tired so I decided to (go to bed) early last night.
a)   hit the sack
b)   have something up my sleeve
c)   have my feet on the ground
d)   have a head on my shoulders

Your score is: ___  out of 5

H Idiom Quiz #3

letter h

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. My friend is always thinking of (foolish) ideas that nobody likes.
a)   half-baked
b)   hand-over-fist
c)   hard-up
d)   head-start

12. My sister seems to (be in love with) the boy next door.
a)   hold out for
b)   have it in for
c)   have a crush on
d)   harp on

13. Drinking the orange juice after the game really (was refreshing).
a)   hit the spot
b)   had a ball
c)   held my tongue
d)   had a fit

14. The man is very (good at fixing things) around the house.
a)   haywire
b)   high and low
c)   handy
d)   here and now

15. We had (an honest and frank) discussion about our relationship last night.
a)   a hand-over-fist
b)   a heart-to-heart
c)   a hand-to-mouth
d)   a haywire

Your score is: ___  out of 5

H Idiom Quiz #4

letter h

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. I think that our boss (has a secret plan) which we will discover later.
a)   had a word with someone
b)   has half a mind
c)   has his feet on the ground
d)   has something up his sleeve

17. "Please (don`t move) while I cut your hair."
a)   have sticky fingers
b)   have it made
c)   hold still
d)   have a ball

18. My aunt and uncle (have a lot of money) and never need to worry about anything.
a)   have it made
b)   hold water
c)   hold down a job
d)   have a ball

19. My mother (got angry) when I told her about the broken vase.
a)   hit the ceiling
b)   hopped to it
c)   had half a mind
d)   had sticky fingers

20. The man has been living (on little money) since he lost his job.
a)   half-baked
b)   hand-to-mouth
c)   handy
d)   high and low

Your score is: ___  out of 5

H Idiom Quiz #5

letter h

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. The man (felt embarrassed) after he made a mistake trying to remember the name of his colleague.
a)   had the time of his life
b)   held his tongue
c)   had egg on his face
d)   was handled with kid gloves

22. The child (doesn't take care of) his clothes.
a)   is hard on
b)   holds a grudge against
c)   harped on
d)   holds the line at

23. The woman has a lot of (anger) over losing her job.
a)   hard-and-fast rules
b)   hassles
c)   hard feelings
d)   hot potatoes

24. My aunt is rather emotional so you must (be very sensitive to her) when you meet her.
a)   have a ball
b)   have egg on your face
c)   handle her with kid gloves
d)   have sticky fingers

25. The boy stole the money so he (deserves the punishment).
a)   holds out for something
b)   has it coming to him
c)   harps on something
d)   hit it off with someone

Your score is: ___  out of 5

H Idioms

letter h

had best (do something)

- should do something, ought to do something

I had best go home soon as I want to get up early tomorrow morning.

had better (do something)

- should do something, ought to do something

I had better go now or I will be late for class.

hail from (somewhere)

- to originally come from somewhere

My father hails from a small farming community.

the hair of the dog that bit you

- a drink of alcohol taken when one is recovering from drinking too much

My friend started the day with the hair of the dog that bit him.

(one's) hair stands on end

- to be frightened or afraid of something

My hair stood on end when I saw the scene of the automobile accident.

hale and hearty

- to be in very good health, to be well and strong

My uncle is hale and hearty and he never gets sick.


- an idea or plan that is not thought about carefully or not studied carefully

I do not really like my friend's half-baked ideas.


- not enthusiastic, not interested

The woman made a halfhearted attempt to find a new job.

half the battle

- a large part of the work

Writing the letters will be half the battle. We can finish the rest of the work later.

halfhearted about (someone or something)

- to be unenthusiastic about someone or something

I was halfhearted about joining the hiking group.

ham it up

- to do something silly or try to exaggerate something in a funny way

I was hamming it up with my friend in front of the principal's office.

hammer away at (someone or something)

- to be persistent in trying to do something

I will hammer away at my final essay for university this weekend.

hammer out a deal or hammer a deal out

- to make a deal or agreement by discussion and debate

We worked hard to hammer out a deal with our company about our holiday schedule.

hammer out (something) or hammer (something) out

- to make an agreement or plan by discussion and debate

The union and managers were able to hammer out an agreement before midnight last night.

hammer (something) home or hammer home (something)

- to try hard to make someone understand something

The speaker tried to hammer home the importance of treating the customers with respect.

Hand Idioms

hand down a decision

- to announce a legal decision

The judge handed down his decision early in the afternoon.

hand down (something) or hand (something) down

- to arrange to give something to someone after your death

My grandmother handed down her silver jewellery to my mother.

hand in glove with (someone)

- very close with someone

The supervisor and manager work hand in glove to create a positive atmosphere in the company.

hand in hand

- holding hands, working together as a team

I walked to the movie hand in hand with my girlfriend.

We worked hand in hand to finish the project.

hand in (something) or hand (something) in

- to give something to someone, to hand something to someone

I went to the company early to hand in my job application.

hand it to (someone)

- to give credit or recognition to someone for doing something well

You have to hand it to our manager for working hard and being successful in the business.

We need to hand it to the cook. The meal was very good.

I need to hand it to my friend. He knows what he is doing.

a hand-me-down

- something given away after another person does not need it (especially clothes)

The girl was very poor when she was a child and always wore hand-me-down clothes.

a hand-out

- a gift (usually from the government)

The government recently stopped giving hand-outs to the downtown businesses.

a hand-out

- a sheet of paper given to students in a class or to people who attend a meeting or lecture

Everyone at the meeting was given a hand-out on how to invest money.

hand out (something) or hand (something) out

- to distribute something, to give something of the same kind to several people

The teacher did not hand out the tests until everybody in the class stopped talking.

hand over fist

- quickly

Our new company is making money hand over fist.

hand over (someone or something) to (someone)

- to give control or possession of something to someone, to give something to another person

The criminals were forced to hand over the stolen money to the police.

hand (something) down to (someone) or hand down (something) to (someone)

- to give something to a younger person

The girl always handed her old clothes down to her younger sister.

hand (something) to (someone) on a silver platter

- to give a person something that has not been earned

The father handed a job to his son on a silver platter and the boy never made any effort at all.

hand-to-hand combat

- fighting with one's hands without weapons

The two soldiers were doing hand-to-hand combat.


- only enough money for basic living

The man was living a hand-to-mouth existence until he was able to find a job.

one's hands are tied

- one is prevented from doing something

My hands are tied and I am unable to help my friend.

Our teacher wants to help us but her hands are tied because of the school rules.

The manager in the company always says that his hands are tied and he cannot change anything.

hands down

- easy, unopposed

Our team won the game hands down over the other team.

hands off

- left alone, without interfering

The government decided to take a hands-off approach with the teachers during the strike.

handle (someone) with kid gloves

- to handle someone very gently and carefully because you do not want to upset him or her

You must handle the new employee with kid gloves because he is very sensitive.

the handwriting is on the wall

- something bad or significant will happen

The handwriting is on the wall. Business conditions are bad so nobody will get a bonus this year.


- can easily fix things

The man is very handy around the house and is always fixing or building something.

Hang Idioms

hang a left

- to turn to the left

We must hang a left at the end of the block.

I told the man to hang a left at the corner.

Go straight ahead for three blocks and then hang a left and you will find the bank.

hang a right

- to turn to the right

We decided to hang a right when we came to the main street.

hang around

- to pass time or stay someplace without any real purpose or aim

I spent the weekend hanging around with my friends.

hang back

- to stay some distance behind someone or away from someone, to hesitate or be unwilling to do something

The man always hangs back when his boss asks for volunteers.

hang by a thread/hair

- to be in doubt, to depend on a very small thing

The outcome of the election was hanging by a thread until late at night.

hang in the balance

- to have two equally possible results, to be uncertain

Building the new school hangs in the balance after the recent election.

hang in (there)

- to persevere, to not give up

"You should hang in there and not quit your job even if you hate the supervisor."

Hang it!

- a rather old expression used to express annoyance or disappointment

"Hang it," the man said when he hit his finger with the hammer.

hang loose

- to relax, to remain calm

I want to stay home this weekend and hang loose.

hang on

- to continue

Although conditions were very bad the man decided to hang on and fight to keep his business going.

hang on

- to wait, to continue listening on the telephone

"Hang on for a minute while I go and get a pen."

hang on (someone's) coattails

- to have one's fortune or success depend on another person

The man is hanging on the coattails of his successful boss.

hang on (someone's) every word or hang on every word of (someone)

- to listen with complete attention to everything someone says

The audience hung on every word of the speaker.

hang on to (something)

- to hold something tightly, to keep something firmly

"Please hang on to your hat or the wind will blow it off."

hang one on

- to get drunk

The man hung one on last night after he heard about his promotion.

hang one's hat (somewhere)

- to live or take up residence somewhere

I want to move and hang my hat in a small town somewhere.

hang out one`s shingle

- to notify the public of the opening of an office - especially an office of a doctor or lawyer or other professional

The man will hang out his shingle now that he has graduated from law school.

hang out (somewhere)

- to spend one`s time with no great purpose, to spend leisure time with friends

The boys like to hang out at the shopping center on Saturdays.

hang out with (someone)

- to spend time with someone with no great purpose, to spend leisure time with friends

Recently, my friend has been hanging out with a group of people who are a bad influence on him.

hang (someone) in effigy

- to hang a dummy of a hated person

The demonstrators hung the dishonest politician in effigy.

hang tough

- to stick to one's position

I decided to hang tough and stop negotiating with the lawyer.

hang up one's hat

- to leave a job (usually after a long career)

The man decided to hang up his hat after forty years at his job.

hang up (something) or hang (something) up

- to place something on a hook or peg or hangar

Everyone was asked to hang up their jackets before they entered the room.

hang up the telephone

- to place a telephone receiver back on the telephone and end the call

I hung up the telephone and left home to go to work.

hang up the telephone on (someone)

- to end a telephone conversation suddenly and with no explanation

My friend became angry and hung up the telephone on me.

The man often becomes angry and hangs up the telephone on his friends.

a hang-up

- a delay in some process

There was a hang-up in the construction of the office tower because of the fire.

a hang-up

- an inhibition, a neurotic reaction to some life situation

The girl has a serious hang-up about the dark and is afraid to go out at night.

happen upon (someone or something)

- to meet someone or find something unexpectedly

I happened upon a very valuable book when I was cleaning up my grandfather's house.

happy hour

- a time in bars or restaurants when drinks are served at a discount

We stopped at a restaurant during happy hour and had a drink.

Hard Idioms

a hard-and-fast rule

- a rule that cannot be altered to fit special cases

There is no hard-and-fast rule that says you cannot use a cell phone on the bus.

as hard as nails

- physically very fit and strong, rough

The man is as hard as nails and is not a good person to have an argument with.

hard facts

- specific facts which can be proved

We tried hard to learn the hard facts about the new product.

hard feelings

- angry or bitter feelings

I do not have any hard feelings toward my boss even though he fired me.


- not weak or soft, stubborn - especially in a fight or contest or negotiations

The company had a hard-nosed attitude while bargaining with the union.

a hard nut to crack

- a person or thing not easily understood or influenced

Our boss is a hard nut to crack and he is not close to many people.

hard of hearing

- unable to hear well

The man is hard of hearing so you must speak loudly when you talk to him.

hard on (someone or something)

- to treat someone or something roughly

The boy is very hard on shoes.

hard on (someone's) heels

- to be following someone very closely

The police officer was hard on the criminal's heels.

hard pill to swallow

- something that is unpleasant or difficult but which must be accepted

The woman's failure to get the job that she wanted was a hard pill to swallow.

It was a hard pill to swallow when the man lost his business.

Losing the game to a very weak team was a hard pill to swalow for the coach.


- burdened with urgent business

"I am hard-pressed for time. Can we meet later?"

a hard sell

- an attitude where you pressure someone to buy something

The car dealer gave me a hard sell on the car so I went to another dealer.

hard to call

- to be hard to determine

The election was hard to call until the last moment.

hard up

- to be short of money

I am hard up for money and I cannot go to the movie.

a harebrained idea

- a foolish/silly/stupid idea

The man is always telling us about his harebrained ideas.

I am tired of listening to my friend's harebrained ideas.

harken back to (something)

- to have started out as something

The new building harkens back to a style that appeared over 100 years ago.

harp on (something)

- to talk repeatedly and tediously about something

My friend has been harping on his lack of money for several weeks now.

hash (something) over or hash over (something)

- to discuss something in great detail

The teachers stayed after school to hash over the new class schedule.

a hassle

- a bothersome thing

It is a hassle to have to report to my boss two times a day.

a hatchet man

- a politician whose job it is to say negative things about the opposition, a person in a company who must fire extra workers or cut other expenses

The manager is acting as a hatchet man for the company president.

hate (someone`s) guts

- to feel a very strong dislike for someone

I hate my neighbors guts after she caused me many problems.

hats off to (someone)

- congratulations to someone

Hats off to our mother for organizing such a wonderful birthday party.

Hats off to the event organizer. Everybody is very happy.

Hats off to the young woman. She studied hard and will now go to a good university.

haul (someone) in or haul in (someone)

- to take someone to the police station, to arrest someone

The police hauled the man in because he was drinking while driving.

Have Idioms

have 20/20 vision

- to have good and normal ability to see

The woman has 20/20 vision and does not need glasses.

The man has 20/20 vision and can see very well.

have a ball

- to have a good time

My friend had a ball at the party last night.

have a bee in one's bonnet

- to have an idea or thought that stays in one's mind

My sister has a bee in her bonnet about going to Mexico to live.

have a big mouth

- to be a person who gossips or tells secrets

My friend has a big mouth so I do not like to tell him any secrets.

have a blowout

- to have a big wild party or sale

The university students had a blowout on their graduation day.

have a blowout

- to have a burst tire on a car or truck

Our car had a blowout on the road to the mountain.

have a bone to pick with (someone)

- to have a disagreement or problem that you want to discuss with someone, to want to talk to someone about something that he or she has done that has annoyed you

I have a bone to pick with my friend. She was one hour late for our appointment yesterday.

have a brush with (something)

- to have a brief experience with something (law, death etc.)

I had a brush with the law when my car was stopped for speeding.

have a card up one's sleeve

- to have a reserve plan or a secret advantage

The man had a card up his sleeve when he went to the bank to ask for more money for his business.

have a case (against someone)

- to have much evidence that can be used against someone

The police have a case against the man who is selling the stolen cars.

have a change of heart

- to change one's attitude or decision (usually from negative to positive)

I had a change of heart and will let my friend use my car tomorrow.

have a chip on one's shoulder

- to seem to want to start a conflict or quarrel

Our neighbor has a chip on his shoulder and is always trying to start a fight.

have a clean slate

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

The man had many problems in the past. However, he now has a clean slate and is trying very hard to advance in his company.

have a clear conscience

- to have no guilt or responsibility

I have a clear conscience and I am not worried that I did something wrong.

The businessman is very honest and he always has a clear conscience.

The man apologized for his mistake and now he has a clear conscience.

have a close call/shave

- to almost be involved in an accident or incident (but the accident or incident does not happen)

I had a close call this morning when I was almost hit by a car.

(not) have a clue (about something)

- (not) know anything about something

I do not have a clue who took my laptop computer.

have a crack at (something)

- to try something, to take a turn at trying to do something

The problem is very difficult but I will take a crack at solving it tomorrow.

have a crush on (someone)

- to have strong feelings of love for someone (often for a short time and with no results)

The girl has a crush on a boy in her class.

have a familiar ring

- to sound familiar

The complaints of our supervisor have a familiar ring and we have heard them before.

have a feeling about (something)

- to have an intuition about something

I have a feeling about the new man in our company that is not good.

have a field day

- to be able to do much of something that you want (sometimes used when you have the chance to criticize someone)

The sports writers had a field day criticizing the many mistakes of our team.

We are having a field day enjoying the photos that we took on our holiday.

The news media had a field day with the scandal in the company.

have a finger in the pie

- to be involved in something

The man has his finger in the pie of many businesses.

have a fit

- to become upset

The woman had a fit when she saw what her son had done to her car.

have a foot in both camps

- to support each of two opposing groups of people, to have an interest in two opposing groups of people

The new mayor has a foot in both camps of the development dispute.

have a frog in one's throat

- to have a feeling of a hoarse throat, to be unable to speak

I had a frog in my throat and could not speak easily in front of the class.

have a go at (something)

- to try to do something

I decided to have a go at applying for the job after my boss told me about it.

have a good command of (something)

- to know something well

The girls have a good command of French.

have a (good) head on one`s shoulders

- to be smart or sensible

The new salesman has a good head on his shoulders.

have a good mind to (do something)

- to be tempted to do something

I have a good mind to tell my friend that I will not lend him any money.

have a good run

- to experience success or happiness (but only for a limited period of time)

Our team had a good run this season until we lost the final game.

My friend had a good run with his small shop but it is not doing well now.

have a good thing going

- to be involved in something that is successful and gives you benefits

I have a good thing going with my company and my schedule is very good.

have a good time

- to enjoy oneself

I had a good time at the party.

have a green thumb

- to be able to grow plants well

My sister has a green thumb and has a beautiful garden.

have a hand in (something)

- to be partly responsible for something

I think that the woman had a hand in getting her friend fired from her job.

have a handle on (something)

- to have control or an understanding of something

I finally have a handle on my work and it is going very well.

have a head for (something)

- to have the mental capacity for something

My father has a head for numbers and is very good at mathematics.

have a heart

- to be generous and forgiving

The woman does not have a heart and nobody likes her.

have a heart of gold

- to be generous or sincere or friendly

The woman has a heart of gold and is always willing to help her friends.

have a heart of stone

- to be cold and unfriendly

The man has a heart of stone and he will never help anybody.

have a heart-to-heart talk (with someone)

- to have a sincere and intimate talk with someone

I had a heart-to-heart talk with my sister about my girlfriend.

have a hold on (someone)

- to have a strong and secure influence on someone

The coach has a hold on the members of the team.

have a hollow leg

- to be able to eat or drink a lot

I think that my friend has a hollow leg. He never stops eating.

have a hunch (about something)

- to have a feeling that something will happen or will be true

I have a hunch that my friend will not come to meet me.

I have a hunch that the weather is going to be bad this weekend.

have a keen interest in (someone or something)

- to be very interested in someone or something

I have always had a keen interest in hiking and camping.

have a lead foot

- to drive too fast

My friend has a lead foot and he has received many speeding tickets.

(not) have a leg to stand on

- to have no support for your position or opinion, to have no excuse or evidence for something

The criminal does not have a leg to stand on in his defense.

have a leg up on (someone)

- to have an advantage in your job or education because someone gives you help or money

The boy went to summer school which should give him a leg up on the other students in his class.

have a lot going (for one)

- to have many things working to one's benefit

The woman has a lot going for her and should do well at her job.

have a lot of promise

- to have a good future ahead

The young race horse has a lot of promise and should be a winner in the future.

have a lot on one's mind

- to have many things to worry about

The young woman has a lot on her mind with her new job and her new boyfriend.

have a lot on one's plate

- to have many things to do or deal with, to be busy with many different activities

The young woman has a lot on her plate at the moment and is very busy.

have a mind like a steel trap

- to have a very sharp and agile mind

The man has a mind like a steel trap and can remember most things easily.

have a mind to (do something)

- to be tempted to do something, to be inclined to do something

I have a mind to tell my friend that I will not lend him any more money.

have a near miss

- to nearly crash or collide with something

The two trucks had a near miss on the highway this morning.

have a nose for (something)

- to have a talent for finding something

Our supervisor has a nose for finding ways to save money in our company.

have a notion to (do something)

- to feel tempted or inclined to do something

I had a notion to go to the beach so I went to the beach.

have a one-track mind

- to think only about one thing

My friend has a one-track mind and he is only interested in making money.

have a passion for (something)

- to have a strong feeling of need or love for something

The student wants to become a teacher because he has a passion for teaching children.

have a pick-me-up

- to eat or drink something stimulating

The carpenter bought a protein drink as a pick-me-up in the middle of the afternoon.

have a price on one's head

- to be wanted by the police who will pay money for one's capture

The man has a price on his head and is wanted by the police all over the country.

have a rough time (of it)

- to experience a difficult period

My friend had a rough time of it when he was forced to leave his job.

have a run-in with (someone)

- to have an unpleasant encounter with someone

I had a run-in with my boss that made us both feel bad.

have a run of bad luck

- to have a period of bad luck

My uncle had a run of bad luck and he lost his business as well as his house.

have a say in (something)

- to have a part or role in making a decision

The union wanted to have a say in how the company was managed.

have a score to settle with (someone)

- to have a problem to solve with someone

I have a score to settle with the soccer coach which I want to talk about.

have a scrape with (someone or something)

- to come into contact with someone or something

I had a scrape with my coworker and I must be very careful of what I say now.

have a screw loose

- to act in a strange way, to be foolish, to be crazy

The man is very strange. I think that he has a screw loose somewhere.

(not) have a snowball's chance in hell

- to have no chance at all

Our team did not have a snowball's chance in hell to win the tournament.

have a soft spot in one's heart for (someone or something)

- to be fond of someone or something

My grandmother has a soft spot in her heart for her youngest son.

have a sweet tooth

- to have a desire to eat sweet foods

The girl has a sweet tooth and loves to eat chocolate.

have a taste for (something)

- to have a desire for a particular food or drink or experience

Recently, my friend has a taste for very loud music.

have a thing for (someone)

- to be attracted to someone, to be interested in someone

The girl has a thing for the new boy in her class.

have a thing going with (someone)

- to have a romantic relationship with someone

I think that the secretary has a thing going with one of the salesmen.

have a tiger by the tail

- to have a task or situation that you are not prepared for or which is a bigger challenge that you expected

The politician had a tiger by the tail as he tried to manage the large problem.

have a time

- to have trouble, to have a hard time

My friend really had a time last night when her car stopped working.

have a time

- to have a good time, to have fun

We really had a time at the party last night.

have a trick up one`s sleeve

- to have a secret advantage or strategy to use when the time is right

The salesman always has a trick up his sleeve when he wants to sell something.

have a try at (something)

- to try something, to take a turn at trying to do something

I want to have a try at scuba diving.

have a vested interest in (something)

- to have a personal interest (often financial) in something

The mayor of the city has a vested interest in building the new stadium.

have a voice in (something)

- to have a part or role in making a decision

The citizens were angry because they had no voice in the government policy changes.

have a way with (someone or something)

- to be able to lead or persuade or influence others

The little girl has a way with horses. They are very gentle when she is around.

have a way with words

- have the ability to speak a language and use words in a beautiful and persuasive and creative way

The sports announcer has a way with words and everybody loves him.

The woman has a way with words and we like to hear her speak.

The manager has a way with words and does very well in his company.

have a weakness for (someone or something)

- to be unable to resist someone or something

The girl has a weakness for chocolate and is always eating it.

have a whale of a time

- to have a very exciting time

Everybody had a whale of a time at the school picnic.

have a word with (someone)

- to talk briefly with someone

I will have a word with my boss before he goes home tonight.

have an accident

- to experience something that was not intended

I had an accident on my way to work this morning.

have an ace up one's sleeve

- to have something that you can use to gain an advantage (in a card game the ace is often the most valuable card and a cheater could have an ace up his or her sleeve to use against an opponent)

I have an ace up my sleeve which should help me when I meet my boss tomorrow.

have an ax to grind (with someone)

- to have something to complain about

My coworker has an ax to grind with our boss and he is always complaining.

have an ear for (something)

- to have the ability to learn music or languages

My cousin has an ear for music and is a very good musician.

have an edge on/over (someone or something)

- to have an advantage over someone or something

Our team has an edge over the other teams to win the high school football championship.

The boy has an edge on the others to win the spelling contest.

have an eye for (something)

- to have good taste in something, to be able to judge something correctly

The girl has an eye for nice furniture and her apartment is absolutely beautiful.

have an in with (someone)

- to have a way to request a special favor from someone

The woman has an in with her boss and can easily get time off.

have an itch to (do something)

- to have a desire to do something

I have an itch to go fishing this summer.

have an open mind

- to be mentally flexible

Our boss has an open mind and is happy to hear new ideas.

have an out

- to have an excuse

The teacher asked me to do my presentation tomorrow but I have an out and do not have to do it. I will go to the doctor tomorrow

(not) have anything to do with someone

- to (not) want to be a friend or work with or do business with someone

My father will not have anything to do with the salesman after the salesman sold him the faulty car.

have arrived

- to reach a position of power or authority or prominence

The manager thought that she had arrived when she was given a beautiful corner office.

have bearing on (something)

- to affect or influence something

The decision will have much bearing on the way that the company is managed.

have been around

- to have been to many places and done many things, to be experienced

My brother has been around and has been overseas many times.

have been had

- to have been cheated or dealt with badly

I felt that I had been had when the salesman sold me the bad product.

have been through the mill

- to have become exhausted or badly treated

The students have been through the mill and want to relax after the final exams.

have been to hell and back

- to have survived a great deal of trouble

I thought that I had been to hell and back after I lost my job and could not find a new one.

have clean hands

- to be guiltless

I had clean hands and I did not need to worry about the company scandal.

have cold feet

- to be afraid and hesitant about something at the last minute

I think that my friend has cold feet and will not go traveling with me.

have come a long way

- to have accomplished much

The woman has come a long way since she lost her house and her apartment.

have contact with (someone)

- to communicate with someone

The government has had no contact with the kidnappers for several weeks.

have designs on (someone or something)

- to have plans for someone or something

The city has designs on the land that the railway used to occupy.

have dibs on (something)

- to demand a share of something, to be in line to use something

I have dibs on the computer and would like to use it as soon as possible.

have egg on one`s face

- to be embarrassed

The man has egg on his face after discovering his mistake.

have elbow room

- to have enough space

We have lots of elbow room in our new house.

have eyes bigger than one's stomach

- to a desire for more food than one can eat

I had eyes bigger than my stomach when I took too much food at the buffet.

have eyes in the back of one's head

- to be able to sense what is going on where you cannot see

The man has eyes in the back of his head and knows everything that is going on.

have eyes only for (someone or something)

- to give all of one`s attention to someone or something, to be interested only in someone or something

The girl has eyes only for her boyfriend.

have feet of clay

- to have a character defect

The candidate has feet of clay and is being criticized by her opponents.

have foot-in-mouth disease

- to embarrass oneself through a silly mistake

The man has foot-in-mouth disease and is always saying stupid things.

have free rein

- to have the freedom to make decisions and do something (you use the reins to control a horse that you are riding and if you give the horse free rein then you let the horse run freely)

The man has free rein to make his own schedule.

have good contacts

- to know people who can help you get a job or do some kind of business

The salesman has good contacts and always sells many products.

have got (something)

- to have something, to possess something

My friend has got a new car.

I have got a cold.

have got to

- must

I have got to go to see my parents this evening.

have growing pains

- children sometimes have pain when they are growing quickly, to have difficulties when a business or organization is starting

The new company is having growing pains as it begins to grow.

The child is having growing pains while she grows quickly.

The organization is experiencing growing pains as it begins its operations.

have had enough

- to have had as much as you need of something

I have had enough sun today so I will go home soon.

have had it up to here with (someone or something)

- to have reached the end of one's endurance or tolerance of someone or something

The teacher has had it up to here with the bad behavior of the students.

have had it with (someone or something)

- to be unable to tolerate someone or something anymore

I have had it with the girl's constant complaining.

have had its day

- to be no longer useful or successful

My suitcase has had its day and I must buy a new one.

have half a mind to (do something)

- to feel tempted or inclined to do something

I have half a mind to go and offer my resignation to the company president.

have high hopes of something

- to hope and expect that someone or something will be a success

The young woman is very smart and her parents have high hopes for her.

The company has high hopes for their new product.

have in mind

- to intend, to plan

"What do you have in mind for your wife`s birthday?"

have it

- to hear or get news, to understand

I have it that the new company president will be coming to see us next week.

have it

- to claim, to say

Rumor has it that three of the supervisors will be leaving next week.

have it

- to allow (usually used with will or would)

We want to have a party at our office next month but our boss will not have it.

have it

- to get or find the answer, to understand

I think that I finally have it. The reason the woman is leaving is because she is going to have a baby.

have it all over (someone or something)

- to be much better than someone or something

My new bicycle has it all over my old one.

have it both ways

- to do two things, to have two things

"You can`t have it both ways. You must choose one or the other."

have it coming

- to deserve punishment

The man has it coming after causing many problems in his company.

have it in for (someone)

- to show ill will to someone, to dislike someone

I have been having problems at work recently. I think that the new supervisor has it in for me.

have it made

- to be successful, to have everything

My friend has it made with his new job.

have it out with (someone)

- to argue or fight with someone

I had it out with my friend yesterday over the problem with the money.

have jet lag

- to be tired because you have travelled a long distance in an airplane and have crossed many time zones so your body cannot adjust

I had jet lag for several days after my long trip.

have legs

- (an idea or plan or topic) is likely to succeed or to continue

The news story has legs. People will be talking about it for a long time.

have mixed feelings about (someone or something)

- to be uncertain about someone or something

I have mixed feelings about taking the new job.

have money to burn

- to have lots of money

The man has money to burn and is always buying something new.

have never had it so good

- to have never been in such a good situation

We have never had it so good since the new supervisor came to our department.

have no business (doing something)

- to be wrong to do something

The manager has no business asking us about our private business.

have none of (something)

- to not tolerate or endure something

Our teacher will have none of our talking loudly in the class.

have nothing on (someone or something)

- to have no information or evidence about someone or something

The police have nothing on the man so they cannot arrest him.

have nothing to do with (someone or something)

- to not be involved with someone or something

My aunt will have nothing to do with the other members of her family.

have nothing/none to spare

- to not have extra of something

We have none to spare so we are unable to give any books to the hospital.

have on (something) or have (something) on

- to be wearing something

"What did the woman have on when you saw her?"

have one foot in the grave

- to be near death (usually because of old age or illness)

My uncle is very sick and has one foot in the grave.

have one for the road

- to have a drink before leaving

We decided to have one for the road before we walked to the train station to go home.

have one`s ass in a sling

- to be in an uncomfortable predicament, to be at a disadvantage

The man has his ass in a sling now that he has quit his job and cannot find another one.

have one's back against/to the wall

- to be in a defensive or difficult position

The boy has his back to the wall and must pass his exams or leave school.

have one's cake and eat it too

- to have something both ways

The union wants to have their cake and eat it too and will not give up anything during the bad economic times.

have one's druthers

- to get one's choice

If I had my druthers, I would not go to the meeting this evening.

have one's ear to the ground

- to listen carefully for advice or advance warning of something

Our teacher always has his ear to the ground to look for possible trouble at school.

have one`s eye on (something)

- to have a wish or aim for something, to look or think about something

I want to buy a present for my girlfriend and I have my eye on a dress that I saw at the department store last week.

have one's feet (planted firmly) on the ground

- to have sensible ideas, to have an understanding of what can be done in a certain situation

The new manager seems to have his feet on the ground and should have a sensible solution to our problems.

The man has his feet planted firmly on the ground and is very sensible.

have one's fill

- to experience or deal with as much of something as you want or are able to, to eat or drink as much as you want

The woman has had her fill of people trying to give her advice.

The young man quickly had his fill of playing video games for the day.

We ate enough food and finally had our fill and stopped eating.

have one's finger in too many pies

- to be involved in too many things

The woman has her finger in too many pies and is unable to do her work well.

have one's hand in the till

- to be stealing money from a company or organization

The man had his hand in the till for many years before he was caught.

have one's hands full with (someone or something)

- to be totally occupied with someone or something

The mother has her hands full with her two young children.

The student has her hands full with her classes and her school club.

I have my hands full with many things so I cannot meet my friend.

have one's hands tied

- to be prevented from doing something

I have my hands tied and I am unable to help my friend.

have one's head in the clouds

- to be unaware of what is going on

The boy has his head in the clouds and does not think about what is going on around him.

have one's heart go out to (someone)

- to have compassion for someone

We had our heart go out to the woman who lost her child in the fire.

have one's heart in the right place

- to have good intentions (even if the results may be bad)

The woman has her heart in the right place and is always ready to help if she can.

have one's heart set against (something)

- to be totally against something

My father has his heart set against my trip to Europe.

have one`s heart set on (something)

- to want something very much

The child has his heart set on getting a new bicycle for his birthday.

have one's job on the line

- to have the possibility of losing one's job

The salesman has his job on the line after his bad sales results.

The man's job is on the line because of his bad work performance.

The politician's job is on the line because of the scandal.

have one's nose in a book

- to be reading a book

The boy loves reading and always has his nose in a book.

My father always had his nose in a book when he was a child.

Many people always use their phones and never have their nose in a book.

have one`s nose in (something)

- to have unwelcome interest in something, to have impolite curiosity about something

The man often has his nose in other people`s private business where it does not belong.

have one's nose in the air

- to be conceited or aloof

The girl has her nose in the air and is unfriendly to the other members of her class.

have one's way

- to be able to do what you want or have what you want

The little boy always has his way.

have one's work cut out for one

- to have a large and difficult task to do

We had our work cut out for us when we began to paint the house.

have oneself (something)

- to use or consume something

I decided to have myself a drink before leaving for the movie.

have other fish to fry

- to have other things to do, to have more important things to do

I have other fish to fry and I do not want to get involved with the small problems in my company.

have pull with (someone)

- to have influence with someone

My friend has pull with his boss and often goes home early.

have rocks in one`s head

- to be stupid, to not have good judgement

The girl has rocks in her head. She should never have bought that old car.

have second thoughts about (someone or something)

- to have doubts about someone or something

Recently, I am having second thoughts about buying a new motorcycle.

have seen better days

- to be worn out or well-used

My bicycle has seen better days and soon I will need to buy a new one.

have some dirt on (someone)

- to have some information that could hurt someone's reputation or career

The reporter has some dirt on the political leader.

have (someone) in one's pocket

- to have control over someone

The large union has the city mayor in their pocket.

have (someone or something) in tow

- to lead or pull or tow someone or something

The boy had his brother in tow as he walked down the street.

have (someone) over

- to invite someone to your house

We plan to have my parents over when we settle into our new house.

have (someone) over a barrel

- to have someone in a helpless or trapped position

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

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

- to be responsible for someone's death

The army general has the citizen's blood on his hands.

have (someone's) hide

- to scold or punish someone

The mother promised to have her son's hide if he did not behave.

have (something) against (someone or something)

- to dislike someone or something

I do not know why but my teacher seems to have something against me.

have (something) at one's fingertips

- to have something within reach

I did not have a pen at my fingertips so I could not write down the address.

have (something) coming to (someone)

- to deserve punishment for something

The girl has the punishment coming to her because of what she did.

have (something) down pat

- to have learned or memorized something perfectly

I have the dance routine down pat.

have (something) going for one

- to have ability or talent or good looks

The woman has a lot going for her and I am sure that she will get the new job.

have (something) hanging over one's head

- to have something worrying one

I want to finish my final essay so that I do not have it hanging over my head.

have (something) in common with (someone or something)

- to resemble someone else in specific ways, to have similar interests to someone

I have much in common with a girl in my class.

have (something) in mind

- to be thinking about something, to be considering something, to have a plan or idea in one's mind

I do not know what my friend has in mind so I will ask him later.

have (something) in stock

- to have goods available to sell

The store does not have any DVD players in stock.

have (something) in store for (someone)

- to have something planned for someone

I do not know what my boss has in store for me.

have (something) on

- to have plans for a particular time

I have something on this afternoon so I cannot go to the park.

have (something) on file

- to have or keep a written record of something

I have the report on file on my computer.

have (something) on one's mind

- to worry about something, to think constantly about something

The man has several serious problems on his mind.

have (something) on (someone)

- to have information or proof that someone did something wrong

I think that the police have something on the man and that is why he is afraid.

have (something) on the ball

- to be smart or clever or skilled

The woman has a lot on the ball. She should do well in her new job.

have (something) on the brain

- to be obsessed with something

My sister has tennis on the brain and she is always talking about it.

have (something) on the tip of one's tongue

- to be almost able to remember a specific fact such as a name or place

I have the actor's name on the tip of my tongue but I cannot remember it.

have (something) stuck in one's craw

- to have something irritate or displease someone

The man's complaint stuck in my craw for several weeks before I forgot it.

have (something) to do with (something)

- to be about something, to be on the subject of something, to be related to something

"The book has something to do with cooking but I am not sure if you will like it."

That problem has nothing to do with me.

have (something) to spare

- to have more than enough of something

We have extra blankets to spare so we gave some to our neighbors.

have (something) up one`s sleeve

- to have something kept secretly ready for a good time to use it

I am not too worried about the meeting as I have something up my sleeve if there are any problems.

have sticky fingers

- to steal things

The waiter was fired from the restaurant because he has sticky fingers.

have the best of both worlds

- to be able to enjoy two different opportunities

The man has the best of both worlds and can enjoy the outdoors and nature while he is working at his job.

have the courage of one's convictions

- to have enough courage and determination to work to achieve one's goals

The man has the courage of his convictions and will only do what he feels is right.

have the devil to pay

- to have a great deal of trouble

I will have the devil to pay if I do not return home early.

have the feel of (something)

- to have learned how something feels, to be accustomed to something

When I had the feel of the airplane, the instructor let me fly it.

have the floor

- to have permission to speak in a meeting

The president had the floor for almost an hour during the meeting.

have the gall to (do something)

- to be arrogant enough to do something

The woman had the gall to ask me to be quiet after she had been talking loudly for an hour.

have the gift of the gab

- to be able to talk and use language easily

My sister has the gift of the gab and can talk to others easily.

have the green light (to do something)

- to have permission to start or continue something

The company finally has the green light to start the project.

The students have the green light to begin the science project.

have the inside track

- to have an advantage (if you have the inside track while running in a race you have an advantage)

I had the inside track when I applied for the job at the bank.

have the last laugh

- to make someone seem foolish for laughing at you first

I had the last laugh when I went home early while everyone else had to work late.

have the makings of (something)

- to possess the qualities that are needed for something

The new soccer player has the makings of a great star.

have the Midas touch

- to have the ability to make money easily

My uncle has the Midas touch and he can make money easily.

have the presence of mind to (do something)

- to have the calmness and ability to act sensibly in a difficult situation

My aunt had the presence of mind to write a will before she passed away.

have the right to do something

- to have the freedom to do something

The apartment manager does not have the right to tell the tenants when they must leave the building.

have the right-of-way

- to have the right to go before another car or turn before another car turns

The small car had the right-of-way but it was hit by the large truck anyway.

have the time of one's life

- to have a very good time

We had the time of our life at the party last night.

have the wherewithal to (do something)

- to have the money or energy to do something

The man does not have the wherewithal to go to court and fight his case.

have them rolling in the aisles

- to make an audience laugh a lot

The speaker had them rolling in the aisles when he gave his speech.

have thick skin

- to not be easily upset or hurt by criticism

You must have thick skin if you decide to get involved in politics.

The referee has thick skin and is always calm and friendly.

My friend has very thick skin and does not worry when people criticize him.

have time off

- to have free time, to not have to work

I have time off next week so I will meet my friend.

have to (do something)

- to be obliged or forced to do something

I have to leave at 4:00 or I will be late for my appointment.

have to live with (something)

- to have to endure something

Although the house is very cold, we will have to live with it.

have too many irons in the fire

- to be doing too many things at once

I have too many irons in the fire at the moment and I am very tired.

have turned the corner

- to have started to improve after a difficult period

I think that we have turned the corner and that our business will improve soon.

In some places, the tourist industry has turned the corner after the pandemic.

The woman seems to have turned the corner and her illness is improving.

have two left feet

- to move in a very awkward way when you dance

The man has two left feet and he is a very bad dancer.

have two strikes against (one)

- to do two things that are wrong or bad and have only one more thing to do to cause you serious trouble, to be in a difficult situation ( from baseball where a batter is finished after three strikes)

The young boy already had two strikes against him when he went to hear the judge's decision about his crime.

have what it takes

- to have the ability or courage to do something

I do not believe that my friend has what it takes to be a good teacher.


- broken or confused, unrealistic or crazy

The man had a haywire idea to change jobs in his company.

hazard a guess

- to make a guess

I would not want to hazard a guess as to the age of the woman.

hazard an opinion

- to give an opinion

I will not hazard an opinion about the new company policy.

Head Idioms

head above water

- out of difficulty, clear of trouble

Although the man works very hard he is not able to keep his head above water financially.

head and shoulders above (someone or something)

- to be clearly superior to someone or something

I believe that our team is head and shoulders above the other teams in the league.

head for (someone/something/somewhere)

- to aim for someone/something/somewhere, to move toward someone/something/somewhere

The tropical storm is heading for the large island.

The dog in the park was heading for the woman.

head hunt

- to search for qualified individuals to fill certain positions

The head-hunting company has phoned me several times about changing jobs.

head off (someone) or head (someone) off

- to get in front of someone and stop him or her, to turn someone back

In the movie the soldiers tried to head off the gang at the mountain pass.

head off (something) or head (something) off

- to stop something , to prevent something

The company was able to head off a strike by the union at the last minute.


- front end to front end, with the front facing something

There was a serious head-on crash on the highway last night.


- in a way that is exactly opposite, opposed to someone in an argument or fight

We will deal with our opponents in a head-on manner in order to win the fight.

head out

- to leave, to start

It is time that we head out for the movie or we will be late.

head over heels

- upside down, head first

The boy fell head over heels when his bicycle hit the wall.

head over heels in love with (someone)

- to be very much in love with someone, to be completely in love with someone

The man is head over heels in love with someone in his company.

a head shrinker

- a psychiatrist

The criminal had to see a head shrinker after the judge sentenced him to life in prison.

a head start

- an early start to something

We left early in order to get a head start on the trip.

head up (something) or head (something) up

- to lead or control something, to be responsible for something

The manager will head up a group of people trying to promote the new product.

The professor will head up the group to investigate the computer problem.

The government official will head up the new transportation department.

heads or tails

- the face of a coin or the opposite side of the coin

We decided who would go first in the game by throwing heads or tails with a coin.

heads will roll

- somebody will get into severe trouble

Heads will roll because of the problems with the new employee.

heap praise on (someone or something)

- to praise someone or something in a very enthusiastic way

Everybody is heaping praise on the new movie.

The fans are beginning to heap praise on the new coach.

The speech was excellent and many people are heaping praise on it.

Drivers are heaping praise on the new bridge.

hear a peep out of (someone)

- to hear the smallest sound from someone

We did not hear a peep out of the children who were playing in the other room.

hear from (someone)

- to receive a letter or phone call or news from someone

I have not heard from my university roommate for over one year.

hear of (someone or something)

- to know about someone or something, to be familiar with someone or something

I have never heard of the singer.

(not) hear of (something)

- to not tolerate or permit something

I will not hear of my aunt staying in a hotel when she visits us.

hear (someone) out or hear out (someone)

- to listen to everything that someone has to say

We went to the meeting to hear the manager out about the new building.

hear (something) through the grapevine

- to hear a rumor that has been passed on from one person to another person

I heard it through the grapevine that our company will get a new president.

Heart Idioms

heart and soul

- all of one's energy, all of one's efforts

My friend is putting his heart and soul into his new job.

heart goes out to (someone)

- one feels sympathy for someone

My heart goes out to the victims of the railway accident.

heart is in the right place

- kindhearted or sympathetic, having good intentions

The man sometimes makes mistakes but his heart is in the right place.

heart is set on (something)

- one desires and expects something

The boy's heart is set on getting a dog for his birthday.

heart of gold

- a kind and generous and forgiving personality

My grandmother has a heart of gold and everyone loves her.

heart of stone

- someone with a cold nature with no pity or warmth

The woman has a heart of stone and is not interested in how other people feel.

heart skips/misses a beat

- startled or excited from surprise or joy or fright

My heart skipped a beat when the truck almost hit us last night.

heart stands still

- frightened or worried

My heart stood still when I heard the story about the little boy and the fire.


- honest or intimate

The couple had a heart-to-heart talk before they decided to get married.

heavy going

- difficult to do or finish

Moving the furniture was heavy going and we became tired quickly.

The book is heavy going and almost nobody in the class likes it.

The road was very crowded and getting to our destination was heavy going.

a heavy heart

- a feeling of sadness or unhappiness

The man has a heavy heart now that his wife has died.

hedge in (something) or hedge (something) in

- to keep something from getting out or moving freely, to block something in

My car was hedged in by the other cars and I was unable to move it this morning.

hedge one's bets

- to reduce one's loss on something by counterbalancing the loss in some way

We will hedge our bets and go to a movie if the weather is not good enough for a picnic.

hell and high water

- troubles or difficulties of some kind

The relief workers went through hell and high water in order to get the food to the flood victims.

hell-bent for leather

- behaving recklessly, riding a horse recklessly

The boys went hell-bent-for-leather down the path to the beach.

hell on earth

- a very unpleasant situation

The hot weather made the small town like hell on earth.


- a bad-tempered or nagging or crabby person

The woman is hell-on-wheels in the morning so you should be careful of her.

help oneself to (something)

- to take whatever one wants or needs

We went to the buffet table and helped ourselves to the food.

help out with (something)

- to assist someone to do something

I helped out with carrying the luggage of the tour members.


- in a confusing group, in disorder

When we arrived at work we found the files scattered helter-skelter over the desk.

hem and haw

- to avoid giving a clear answer, to be evasive in speech

The man hemmed and hawed when I asked him if he knew where the missing money was.

hem (someone or something) in or hem in (someone or something)

- to trap or enclose someone or something

We went to the football game but we felt hemmed in by all of the people.

here and now

- immediately

I plan to do the work here and now.

here and there

- in various places, to various places

We went here and there during our holidays.

Here goes.

- ready to do something while hoping for the best results

"Here goes. I am going to go and ask that girl for a date right now."

Here goes nothing.

- this expression is used when you are going to do or try something but you think that it will probably be a waste of time and will probably fail

"Here goes nothing," the student said as she went to the exam which she had not studied for.

"The computer program will probably not work but here goes nothing, let's try it."

"Here goes nothing. I have already asked the bank to lend me some money and they always say no but I will try one more time."

here, there and everywhere

- everywhere

The mice were here, there and everywhere in the old house.

hide one`s head in the sand

- to refuse to see something, to know something but not want to deal with it

The employee hates to talk about important matters and hides his head in the sand when I try to talk to him.

hide one's face in shame

- to cover one's face because of shame or embarrassment

The man wanted to hide his face in shame after he lost his job.

High Idioms

high and dry

- stranded, abandoned

They left the manager high and dry when they moved the company headquarters to Europe.

high and low

- everywhere

I looked high and low for my watch but I could not find it.


- arrogant

The supervisor always acts high-and-mighty in front of his employees.

(in) high gear

- at top speed, at full activity

The preparations for the wedding have been in high gear all week.


- bossy, dictatorial, depending on force rather than what is right

My supervisor always takes a high-handed approach when dealing with the employees.

high life

- a luxurious existence

The couple have been living the high life since they moved to Las Vegas.

high man on the totem pole

- the top person of an organization

My father is the high man on the totem pole in his company and has a very good job.

high on (something)

- intoxicated with a drug, enthusuastic about something

The young man was high on something when the police arrested him.

The woman is high on her diving experience.

high seas

- the ocean (away from the coast)

The crew of the ship spent three months on the high seas before going to shore for a visit.

in high spirits

- feeling happy and energetic, to have much energy

The students are in high spirits since their team won the tournament.

high time

- something should already have happened, it is already time that something should have been done

It is high time that the boy should start studying for his test.

hightail it out of (somewhere)

- to run away from somewhere, to leave a place quickly

We decided to hightail it out of the restaurant and go home.

highway robbery

- an extremely high price for something

The price that we had to pay for the theater tickets was highway robbery.

hindsight is 20/20

- it is easy to understand something after it has happened

Hindsight is 20/20 and after the man quit his job, he realized that it was a bad idea.

The woman spent too much money. She wishes that she had been more careful but hindsight is 20/20 and now she has no money.

hinge on (something)

- to depend on something

Whether or not I can enter the university hinges on my final exam score.

hire out (someone) or hire (someone) out

- to provide one's services for money

The man decided to hire himself out as a model while he was going to school.

hire out (something) or hire (something) out

- to rent something to someone

We hired out our boat last summer because we were too busy to use it.

Hit Idioms

hit a home run

- to reach a big goal, to hit a baseball so far that the batter can run around all of the bases and score a run

We hit a home run when we won the big contract.

My favorite baseball player hit a home run last night.

hit a plateau

- to reach a certain level of activity or achievement and then stop

The performance of our team hit a plateau and then began to decline.

The student thinks that he has hit a plateau in his English studies.

The company has hit a plateau and is not selling more products.

hit a snag

- to run into a problem

The negotiations to end the teachers' strike hit a snag last night.


- unplanned, uncontrolled, aimless, careless

We are looking for a new apartment but it is hit-and-miss whether we can find a good one or not.


- an accident where the driver of the car that hits someone drives away without stopping

My sister was involved in a hit-and-run accident last Sunday afternoon.


- striking suddenly and leaving quickly

The army made a hit-and-run attack on the enemy soldiers.

hit bottom

- to be at the very lowest, to not be able to go any lower

The economy hit bottom last year but it is finally starting to improve.

hit close to home

- to affect one personally

The strike by the trash collectors hit close to home when we had no place to put our garbage.

hit home

- to make sense, to make an impression on someone

The amount of damage from the storm hit home when we saw the houses on the beach.

hit it off (with someone)

- to have a good relationship with someone from the first time that you meet that person - it can be used for any two people who meet and have a good relationship

I hit it off with a woman in my photography class and we have been dating for several months now.

The two salespeople hit it off and have a very good working relationship now.

hit on/upon (something)

- to think of something by chance

We hit upon the idea of going to the lake for our holiday after our airline reservations were cancelled.

hit out at (someone or something)

- to criticize someone or something strongly, to make a verbal attack against someone or something

The president of the company hit out at the people who were criticizing him.

The city official hit out at the opposition leader.

hit parade

- a list of songs arranged in order of popularity

We listened to all the songs on the hit parade last night.

hit pay dirt

- to discover something of value

The men hit pay dirt when they discovered oil in the farmer's field.

hit (someone) below the belt

- to do something unfair or unsporting to someone

The lawyer was hitting below the belt when he asked the woman many personal questions.

hit (someone) hard

- to affect someone strongly

The death of the woman's father hit her very hard.

hit (someone) like a ton of bricks

- to surprise or shock someone

When the company went out of business it hit everyone like a ton of bricks.

hit (someone) right between the eyes

- to make a strong impression on someone, to surprise someone

The singer's incredible performance really hit me between the eyes.

hit (someone) up for (something)

- to ask someone for something

My friend tried to hit me up for some money but I said no.

hit the books

- to study or prepare for class

I stayed home all weekend and hit the books.

hit the bottle

- to drink alcohol heavily and regularly

The woman started to hit the bottle soon after her divorce.

hit the bricks

- to start walking, to go out into the streets (on strike)

The post office workers hit the bricks and went on strike.

hit the bull`s-eye

- to go to the most important part of a matter, to reach the main question

The woman hit the bull`s-eye when she talked about the importance of decreasing costs.

hit the ceiling

- to get angry

His wife is going to hit the ceiling when she sees the bill for the car repair.

hit the deck

- to get up from bed, to start working

"Let`s hit the deck and get this work done before supper."

hit the dirt

- to fall on the ground and protect oneself under gunfire

We were told to hit the dirt during the bank robbery.

hit the hay

- to go to bed

I decided to hit the hay early last night because I was very tired.

hit the high spots

- to consider or mention only the more important parts of something

Our boss only had time to hit the high spots in his report but still it was very interesting.

hit the jackpot

- to be very lucky or successful, to get much money

My friend hit the jackpot when she found a very good job.

The movie studio hit the jackpot with their new movie.

The company hit the jackpot with their new product.

hit the nail on the head

- to find the exact answer, to make a correct guess

The accountant hit the nail on the head when he described the bank`s problems.

The student hit the nail on the head when he answered the question correctly.

hit the pavement

- to travel on foot, to begin to travel someplace in a car

We will hit the pavement tomorrow and begin our holiday by car.

I plan to hit the pavement tomorrow and begin to look for a new job.

hit the road

- to leave

We should hit the road early tomorrow morning if we want to reach the seashore before evening.

hit the roof

- to become very angry, to go into a rage

The father hit the roof when he discovered that his son had wrecked the family car.

hit the sack

- to go to bed

I am a little tired so I think that I will hit the sack now.

hit the sauce

- to drink alcohol heavily and regularly

My neighbor has been hitting the sauce recently although he says that he does not drink.

hit the skids

- to decline, to decrease in value

The prices of houses hit the skids recently in our city.

hit the spot

- to refresh you or satisfy you

Drinking the lemonade after the baseball game hit the spot.

hitch a ride

- to ask for a ride from a passing motorist by putting your thumb in the air, to get a ride from a passing motorist

We had no gas so I had to hitch a ride to a gas station.

hitch one`s wagon to a star

- to aim high, to follow a great ambition or purpose

The man wants to hitch his wagon to a star and pursue his dreams of becoming an actor.

hither and thither

- in one direction and then in another, here and there

The man looked hither and thither when he discovered that he had lost his wallet.

hive of activity

- a place where things are very busy

The school was a hive of activity during the school festival.

Hobson's choice

- the choice between taking what is offered or getting nothing at all (Hobson owned a stable in the 17th century in England and always offered his customers the horse nearest the door)

The customer's were given Hobson's choice. They could buy a car of any color but only if it was black

Hold Idioms

hold a candle to (someone or something)

- to be in the same class or level as someone or something (usually used with a negative)

The new restaurant cannot hold a candle to the one that I usually go to.

hold a grudge against (someone)

- to not forgive someone for something, to continue to be angry at someone for something that happened in the past

The employee has been holding a grudge against the company manager for many years.

hold a meeting

- to meet, to have a meeting

The apartment owners decided to hold a meeting last week.

hold all the aces

- to have the best chance of winning, to have full control

I think that I hold all the aces in my dispute with the company.

hold all the trump cards

- to have the best chance of winning, to have full control

It will be difficult to do well in the negotiations with my opponent holding all the trump cards.

hold back

- to stay back or away, to show unwillingness to do something

Our boss always holds back during meetings and never says anything.

hold back (someone) or hold (someone) back

- to prevent someone from doing something

The police officers tried to hold back the angry woman.

hold court

- to act like a king or queen among his or her subjects

Our manager always acts like he is holding court when I see him in his office.

hold down a job

- to have and keep a job

The man has a serious drinking problem and is unable to hold down a job.

hold down (someone or something)

- to keep control of someone or something

The government was able to hold down the rate of inflation for many years.

hold fire

- to stop firing a weapon

The soldiers were told by their captain to hold fire.

hold forth (something)

- to offer something, to propose something

The company held forth a proposal to give the employees a bonus in the summer.

hold forth on/about (something)

- to speak in public, to talk about something

My boss was holding forth about taxes last night when I saw him in his office.

hold good

- to continue, to endure, to last

The demand for air conditioners held good during July but decreased rapidly in August.

hold off (someone) or hold (someone) off

- to keep someone away by force

The man was able to hold off the police for several hours before he was arrested.

hold off (something) or hold (something) off

- to delay something, to not begin something

They will hold off the concert until next week.

hold on

- to wait, to wait and not hang up the phone

I asked my friend to hold on while I looked for my address book.

Hold on!

- Wait a minute, Stop, to wait

"Hold on! I forgot to lock the window."

"Please hold on for a moment while I answer the telephone."

hold on to (someone or something)

- to continue to hold or keep something, to hold someone or something tightly

You should hold on to your bag when you are in the bus or someone may steal it.

hold one`s breath

- to stop breathing for a moment when you are excited or nervous

I stopped to hold my breath while I was waiting for the announcement of the winning ticket.

hold one's end of the bargain up

- to do what you have agreed to do

The students did not hold their end of the bargain up when they did not do their homework.

I always hold my end of the bargain up when I agree to do something.

I cannot trust my colleague because he will never hold his end of the bargain up when he says he will do something.

hold one`s fire

- to keep back arguments or facts, to keep from telling something

I will hold my fire during today's meeting and wait until next week.

hold one's head up

- to keep one's dignity and pride

The basketball players were able to hold their heads up even though they lost the tournament.

hold one`s horses

- to stop and wait patiently

"Hold your horses for a minute while I return to get my wallet."

hold one`s own

- to be able to do something reasonably well or at least as good as others

The woman is able to hold her own in any argument with the company managers.

The national team seems to be holding its own among the stronger teams.

The young chess player can hold his own against any of the older players.

hold one`s peace

- to be silent and not speak against someone or something

"Please try and hold your peace during the meeting as it will be bad if we have a confrontation."

hold one`s tongue

- to be silent, to not talk

"Please hold your tongue," the teacher said to the young boy.

hold out

- to endure, to persist in one's efforts

The team was weak and could not hold out against the stronger team.

a hold-out

- someone who refuses to give something up

The man was the last hold-out in our effort to make everyone wear a necktie to work.

hold out for (something)

- to refuse to give up, to insist on getting something

The basketball player is holding out for a large salary increase.

hold out on (someone)

- to refuse to give something to someone, to refuse to agree

The players are holding out on the owners and will not sign the new contract.

hold out (one's hand)

- to reach out one's hand, to extend one's hand

The girl held out her hand to help her mother climb up the stairs.

hold out the olive branch to (someone)

- to offer to end a dispute with someone

The company decided to hold out the olive branch to the workers who were on strike.

hold over (something) or hold (something) over

- to extend the engagement of something (like a play or other type of show or performance)

The movie will be held over for another week.

hold (someone or something) at bay

- to keep someone or something at a distance (especially someone or something that is harmful or unpleasant), to control something in order to keep it from harming you

The city is trying to hold the pollution problem at bay.

The policeman was able to hold the attacker at bay.

hold (someone) down or hold down (someone)

- to try to keep someone from succeeding

The president of the company is trying to hold down the manager so he does not challenge his position.

hold (someone) hostage

- to keep someone as a hostage

The bank robbers were holding the woman hostage.

hold (someone) in high regard

- to have very great respect for someone

The students hold the principal in high regard.

hold (someone's) attention

- to keep someone interested

The man standing on the bridge held everyone's attention for over an hour.

hold (something) against (someone)

- to blame something on someone

My friend forgot to give me my money but I do not hold it against him as he is a nice person.

hold (something) back or hold back (something)

- to keep information or something to or for oneself

Our boss is holding back the information about the new computer system.

hold still

- to not move

"Please hold still while I fix your jacket zipper."

hold the fort

- to cope in an emergency, to act as a temporary substitute

The assistant has been holding the fort at his company while his boss is on vacation.

hold the line at (something)

- to not yield to pressure, to limit something

Our company is holding the line on any salary increases.

hold the reins

- to be the most influential person

The manager has been holding the reins in his company for many years.

hold true

- to be true, to continue to be correct or true

It usually hold's true that the students who always come late get the lowest marks.

hold up

- to remain good, to not become worse

Sales during the first six months of the year are holding up very well compared to last year.

hold up

- to prove to be true

The woman's story held up during the questioning by the police.

a hold-up

- a robbery

I was involved in a hold-up when I was in the supermarket last weekend.

hold up (one's spirits)

- to maintain one`s courage or spirits

My friend's spirits are holding up quite well even though she does not have a job now.

hold up (someone) or hold (someone) up

- to rob someone with a gun or knife or similar weapon

The criminal was able to hold up three people before he was caught.

hold up (someone or something) or hold (someone or something) up

- to stop or delay someone or something

The accident held up traffic for over three hours at the border crossing.

hold up (someone or something) as an example of (something) or hold (someone or something) up as an example of (something)

- to point to someone or something as a good example

The teacher held up the student as an example of a good hardworking person.

hold up (something) or hold (something) up

- to lift something, to raise something

The students usually hold up their hands when they have a question.

hold up (something) or hold (something) up

- to support something , to carry something

The main beams in the house hold up the total weight of the house.

hold water

- to be a sound idea

The proposal for a new work scheduling system does not hold water.

hole in one

- a shot in golf that finishes in the hole with one shot

The boy was very lucky and got a hole in one in his first season of golf.

hole in the wall

- a small place to live or work or visit, a small hidden (often inferior) place

We went for a drink at a hole in the wall near the university last night.

hole up (somewhere)

- to hide somewhere

I passed the weekend holed up in my bedroom with a good book.


- better than others in goodness or character etc.

I do not like my coworker because he takes a holier-than-thou attitude toward everyone else.

holy cats

- used to express strong feelings of astonishment or pleasure or anger

"Holy cats, the water is rising over the river bank."

holy cow

- used to express strong feelings of astonishment or pleasure or anger

"Holy cow! There are over one hundred people standing in front of our house."

holy mackerel

- used to express strong feelings of astonishment or pleasure or anger

"Holy mackerel," cried the little boy when he saw the new bicycle that he got for his birthday present.

holy Moses

- used to express strong feelings of astonishment or pleasure or anger

"Holy Moses! It is already noon and I haven`t even started work yet."

a holy terror

- a very disobedient or unruly child

The little boy is a holy terror and his parents do not like to take him anywhere.

home free

- to be sure of success because the most difficult part is over

The traffic was terrible but we were home free after we left the city.

the honeymoon is over

- the initial period of friendship and cooperation between two groups or two people is over

The honeymoon was over for the new President after several months.

a honky-tonk

- a cheap night-club or dance hall

We went to a honky-tonk in the small town where we stopped last night.

honor a check

- to accept someone's personal check

The store refused to honor the check that I tried to give them.

hook, line and sinker

- without question or doubt, completely

The girl fell in love with her new boyfriend hook, line and sinker.

hook up (something) or hook (something) up

- to connect or fit something together

After we moved into our new apartment we had to hook up the phone.

a hook-up

- a connection

The new hook-up for the computer is not working very well.

hooked on (something)

- to be addicted to a drug or something similar, to be enthusiastic about something

The man has been hooked on drugs since he was a teenager.

a hop, skip and a jump

- a short distance

The hospital was a hop, skip and a jump from our new apartment.

hop to it

- to get started, to start a job

We must hop to it and try to finish this job before dinner.

hope against hope

- to continue to hope when things look very bad

The rescue team hoped against hope that the lost hikers would be found alive.

hopeless at (doing something)

- to be incapable of doing something well

My sister is hopeless at mathematics.

hopped up on (something)

- to be high on a drug or on alcohol

The man who robbed the store was hopped up on some kind of drug.

horn in on (someone)

- to come in without an invitation or welcome, to interfere

The man horned in on our conversation although he knows that we do not like him.

horse around

- to play around, to join in rough teasing with others

The children were horsing around in the school yard when the bell rang for class.

a horse of a different color

- another matter entirely, something else, something that is different than the subject that is being discussed

We should not be talking about that issue now. It is a horse of a different color.

horse sense

- good judgement, wisdom in making decisions

Our boss has good horse sense so you can expect him to make an intelligent decision.

horse trade

- to make a business agreement after hard negotiations

We had to horse trade but we were finally able to reach an agreement to buy the antique car.

a host of measures

- a large number of things that you can do to achieve something

The football team will take a host of measures to improve before next season.

The government is talking about a host of measures to protect online security.

The university is using a host of measures to try and save money.

Hot Idioms

hot air

- nonsense, exaggerated talk

My coworker is full of hot air and you cannot trust what he says.

hot and bothered

- excited and worried, displeased

I do not know what is wrong with our teacher but she is hot and bothered about something.

hot and heavy

- serious passion or emotions

The love scenes in the movie were hot and heavy.

hot on (someone or something)

- to be enthusiastic about someone or something

Recently, my friend is hot on some kinds of classical music.

a hot potato

- a situation or issue that is likely to cause trouble to the person who is handling it

The issue of part-time workers is a hot potato that we must deal with.

a hot rod

- an automobile that is changed so that it can go very fast

My friend has always loved cars and was a member of a hot rod club when he was a teenager.

hot under the collar

- to be very angry

Our boss is hot under the collar today because three of the staff came late.

in hot water

- in trouble

The man has been in hot water at work since he took a week off with no excuse.

a house of cards

- something badly put together that can be easily knocked down, a poorly made plan or action

The peace agreement between the two countries was like a house of cards and fell apart as soon as a minor problem occurred.

How about?

- will you have something or will you agree to something?

"How about some coffee before we go to work?"

How about?

- what is your feeling or thought or desire about something?

"I know that my neighbor is not interested in the job but how about one of her friends?"

How come?

- why?

"How come you don`t telephone her if you want to talk to her?"

How so?

- how is it so?

"I know that you think the answer is wrong but how so?"

How`s that?

- what did you say?

"How`s that? I couldn`t hear you because the radio was too loud."

a hue and cry

- an excited protest or alarm or outcry

The bank raised a hue and cry when we did not notify them about our financial problems.

huff and puff

- to breathe very hard

I was huffing and puffing after I walked up several floors in our apartment building.

hung up on (someone or something)

- to be obsessed or devoted to someone or something

My friend is hung up on one of his colleagues at work.

hunger for (something)

- to have a strong desire for something

The men were hungering for adventure when they began their tour of Africa.

hungry for (something)

- to desire something

I was hungry for new music so I bought some new CDs.

hunt high and low for (someone or something)

- to carefully look everywhere for someone or something

I have been hunting high and low for my house keys but I cannot find them.

hurl an insult (at someone)

- to direct or make an insult to someone

The young boys attempted to hurl an insult at the older boy.


- something kept secret or hidden

"Why the big hush-hush? Is there some kind of a secret."

hush money

- money paid to persuade someone to be silent about something

The politician was arrested for trying to pay hush money to a victim of the scandal.

hush up (something) or hush (something) up

- to keep news of something from getting out, to prevent people from knowing about something

The government tried to hush up the bad economic news but the media soon discovered the facts.

hush up

- to be quiet, to stop talking or crying or making noise

The mother told her child to hush up when they were in the department store.

hush up (someone) or hush (someone) up

- to make someone be quiet

The mother tried to hush up her children.

hustle and bustle

- a large amount of activity and work that is usually done in a noisy and busy place

There is much hustle and bustle downtown every Saturday morning.

to hype (something) up or to hype up (something)

- to overpraise something, to promote something in a dramatic way

The company is trying hard to hype up their new product.

My friend is always hyping his plans up to his friends.

(to be) hyped-up

- to have an excess of energy, to be excited

My aunt has been hyped up all morning because she will go to Italy for a holiday.

The children are hyped up about something today.