K Idioms and Quizzes
K Idiom Quiz #1
Quiz 1 - Choose the correct idiom to replace the expression in the brackets. Check your score and the correct answers at the bottom. Click on the idiom for the definition.
Your score is: ___ out of 5
K Idiom Quiz #2
Quiz 2 - Choose the correct idiom to replace the expression in the brackets. Check your score and the correct answers at the bottom. Click on the idiom for the definition.
Your score is: ___ out of 5
K Idiom Quiz #3
Quiz 3 - Choose the correct idiom to replace the expression in the brackets. Check your score and the correct answers at the bottom. Click on the idiom for the definition.
Your score is: ___ out of 5
K Idiom Quiz #4
Quiz 4 - Choose the correct idiom to replace the expression in the brackets. Check your score and the correct answers at the bottom. Click on the idiom for the definition.
Your score is: ___ out of 5
- an illegal court formed by a group of people to settle a dispute among themselves
There was a kangaroo court in movie after the ranchers arrested the criminal.
Katie bar the door
- get ready for trouble, a desperate situation is at hand
The gang arrived at the hotel and were ready to come in and fight when the owner yelled, "Katie bar the door."
- to fall over and faint
Three members of the band keeled over because of the heat.
- to turn upside down, to tip over
The boat keeled over in the middle of the lake but everybody was safe.
keen on (someone or something)
- to be enthusiastic about someone or something
My girlfriend is keen on going to a movie this weekend.
keep a civil tongue
- to speak decently and politely
The angry customer was asked to keep a civil tongue when talking with the sales clerk.
keep a close rein on (someone or something)
- to strictly watch and control someone or something
The mother was keeping a close rein on her child at the shopping center.
keep a close watch on (someone or something)
- to monitor or observe someone or something
The woman always keeps a close watch on her child when she is at the shopping center.
keep a close watch over (someone or something)
- to guard or care for someone or something
I kept a close watch over the soup while it was cooking.
keep a secret
- to not tell a secret to others
I am trying to keep a secret about my friend's boyfriend.
keep a stiff upper lip
- to be brave, to face trouble bravely
The storm victims tried hard to keep a stiff upper lip in the difficult situation.
keep a straight face
- to stop oneself from smiling or laughing
It was difficult to keep a straight face when the man fell off his chair.
keep a tight rein on (someone or something)
- to strictly watch and control someone or something
Our principal keeps a tight rein on what is being taught in the school.
keep abreast of (something)
- to keep informed about something
I read the newspaper so that I can keep abreast of current events.
keep after/at (someone)
- to remind someone over and over about something
I always have to keep after my friend to remember her homework.
keep an eye on (someone or something)
- to watch and take care of something (not just look at something)
"Will you keep an eye on the baby while I go to the store."
keep an eye out for (someone or something)
- to watch for the arrival or appearance of someone or something
I kept an eye out for a restaurant after I arrived in the small town.
keep at (something)
- to persist with something
My cousin has decided to keep at his studies and I am sure that he will succeed.
keep away from (someone or something)
- to stay at a distance from someone or something, to avoid the use of something
I told the child to keep away from the busy street.
The child was told to keep away from fire.
keep body and soul together
- to keep alive, to survive
It was very cold in the mountains but somehow the hiker was able to keep body and soul together and survived.
- to keep records of money gained and spent, to do the work of a bookkeeper
My first job was to keep books for a small company in my hometown.
keep company with (someone)
- to associate with or spend much time with someone
I like to keep company with my friends from university.
- to stay calm
The police officers were trained to keep cool in difficult situations.
keep down (something) or keep (something) down
- to keep something from progressing or growing, to keep within limits, to control something
The students were told to keep down the noise as the other class was taking an exam.
keep from (doing something)
- to prevent or refrain from doing something
I love ice cream and could not keep from eating three bowls.
keep good time
- to work accurately (used for a clock or watch)
My watch has not been keeping good time lately.
keep harping on (something)
- to continue to talk or complain about something
The boy's father keeps harping on the fact that his son never does his homework.
- to look after a house or a household
The girl has been keeping house for her father while he is sick.
keep in touch (with someone)
- to talk or write to someone, to maintain contact with someone
I have always tried to keep in touch with my friends from high school.
keep late hours
- to stay up late, to stay out until very late
My friend keeps late hours now that he is working for the newspaper.
keep off (something)
- to stay off someone's land or other property
The students were asked to keep off the grass which was being replanted.
keep on an even keel
- to remain cool and calm
I was busy with my job and school but I tried hard to keep on an even keel and get everything done.
keep on (doing something)
- to continue doing something
The girl is careless and keeps on making the same mistakes over and over.
keep on one's toes
- to stay alert and watchful
I try to keep on my toes when the teacher may ask me a question.
keep one`s chin up
- to be brave, to be determined
"Try and keep your chin up. Things will be better in the future."
keep one`s cool
- to stay or remain calm
I tried to keep my cool during the argument with my neighbor.
keep one's distance from (someone or something)
- to maintain a certain distance from someone or something
The girl always keeps her distance from the other students in the class.
keep one`s eye on the ball
- to be watchful and ready for something
"You should keep your eye on the ball or you will make a mistake."
keep one's eyes open
- to remain alert and watchful for someone or something
"Please keep your eyes open for a good place to eat so we can have lunch."
keep one's feet on the ground
- to remain firmly established
My friend lost his job but he is trying hard to keep his feet on the ground.
keep one`s fingers crossed
- to wish for good results in something that one is doing
"Please keep your fingers crossed that I will pass my exam."
keep one's hand in (something)
- to retain some control of something
My uncle sold his business but he is still trying to keep his hand in some of its operations.
keep one's hands off (someone or something)
- to refrain from touching or handling someone or something
My aunt asked her nephew to keep his hands off her furniture.
keep one`s head
- to stay calm when there is trouble or danger
The president is a very good leader and is able to keep his head during an emergency.
keep one`s head above water
- to have the ability to pay one`s bills
The man is having trouble keeping his head above water since his salary decreased.
keep one`s mouth shut
- to be silent, to stay silent
I was very angry and told my friend to keep his mouth shut. Later, I had to apologize.
keep one`s nose clean
- to stay out of trouble, to avoid trouble
The boy has been able to keep his nose clean since he moved to the new town.
keep one's nose out of (someone's) business
- to refrain from interfering in someone else's business
I try hard to keep my nose out of my friend's business.
keep one`s nose to the grindstone
- to work very hard
My friend is keeping his nose to the grindstone recently and I have not had a chance to meet him.
keep one's opinions to oneself
- to not give your opinion about something (especially when you disagree with others)
I try to keep my opinions to myself when I talk to my father about the local government.
keep one's options open
- to decide against taking firm action now in favor of being able to choose later, to decide against making a decision or a choice now so that you can make it later
The boy wanted to keep his options open for next year so he took some extra classes at school.
keep one`s own counsel
- to keep one`s ideas and plans to oneself
Our boss always keeps his own counsel and never reveals his plans to anyone.
keep one's place
- to exhibit behavior suitable to one's position or place in life
The cleaning lady was told to keep her place when she complained about her working conditions.
keep one`s shirt on
- to remain calm, to keep from losing one`s temper or becoming too impatient
"Try and keep your shirt on! Everything will be fine in a few minutes."
keep one`s wits about one
- to stay calm when there is trouble or danger
There was a fire in the building but the security guard was able to keep his wits about him and help everybody to safety.
keep one`s word
- to fulfill or keep one`s promise
The girl never keeps her word and will probably not come to the party as she said.
keep out of (somewhere) or keep (someone or something) out of (somewhere)
- to not enter somewhere, to not allow someone or something to enter somewhere
The dog had to keep out of the garden.
The woman tried to keep her child out of the swimming pool.
keep pace (with someone or something)
- to go as fast or go at the same rate as someone or something
It is difficult to keep pace with the other students but somehow I manage.
- to remain silent
"Could you please keep quiet and listen to the instructions."
keep (someone or something) at bay
- to keep someone or something at a distance (especially someone or something that is harmful or unpleasant), to control something in order to keep it from harming you
The city is trying hard to keep the pollution problem at bay.
We tried to keep the big dog at bay.
keep (someone) company
- to sit and stay with someone (especially someone who is lonely or sick)
I stayed home last night so that I could keep my mother company.
keep (someone) from (doing something)
- to prevent someone from doing something
I tried hard to keep my friend from buying a new car.
keep (someone or something) in check
- to keep someone or something under control, to restrain someone or something
The economic policy was designed to keep inflation in check.
keep (someone) in line
- to make someone behave properly
The teacher is very strict and she knows how to keep her students in line.
keep (someone or something) in mind
- to remember and think about someone or something
I told my friend to keep the time that I must leave for work in mind.
If I need someone to help fix my computer, I usually keep my friend in mind.
keep (someone) in stitches
- to cause someone to laugh continuously
My uncle kept me in stitches with his funny stories.
keep (someone) in the dark
- to purposefully not tell someone the details about something, to not give someone a piece of information
The employees are not happy because the company keeps them in the dark about many things.
Nobody knew why the president of the company quit. We were all kept in the dark.
keep (someone) on or keep on (someone)
- to allow someone to continue working for you
We have too many workers but we will keep everybody on until business improves.
keep (someone) on tenterhooks
- to keep someone anxious or in suspense
I was kept on tenterhooks as I waited to hear the results of my exam.
keep (someone) posted
- to keep someone informed or up-to-date about something
I asked my friend to keep me posted about his new job and address.
keep (someone or something) still/quiet
- to make someone or something silent or less noisy
The mother had a hard time keeping her child still in the airplane.
keep (someone) up or keep up (someone)
- to prevent someone from going to bed
My neighbors kept me up last night with their loud music.
keep (something) down or keep down (something)
- to keep food in one's stomach (without vomiting it up when sick)
The child was sick and found it difficult to keep his food down.
keep (something) to oneself
- to keep something a secret
I asked my friend to keep the news to herself.
keep (something) under one`s hat
- to keep a secret, to not tell something
My coworker will not say where he is going for his holiday. He wants to keep it under his hat.
keep (something) under wraps
- to keep something concealed (until some future date)
We plan to keep our plans for the new project under wraps.
- to not move
I tried to keep still during the long lecture.
keep tabs on (someone or something)
- to watch or check or observe someone or something
We are keeping tabs on the spending of the sales department.
keep the ball rolling
- to continue an activity or action, to not allow something that is happening to slow or stop
We must keep the ball rolling and get our work done now.
keep the home fires burning
- to keep things going as usual while someone is away
"Don`t worry about anything. I will stay home and keep the home fires burning while you are on your holiday."
keep the lid on (something)
- to restrain something, to keep something quiet
The hospital worked hard to keep the lid on the drug scandal.
keep the wolf from the door
- to maintain oneself at a basic level
My job pays just enough money to keep the wolf from the door.
keep the wolves at bay
- to fight against some kind of trouble
The university students were angry and the administration had to work hard to keep the wolves at bay.
- to keep track of the time in a game or athletic contest
I kept time during the football game at our high school.
- to keep the beat, to keep the same musical rhythm
It is difficult for the girl to keep time when she is playing in the band.
- to keep accurate time (used for a watch or clock)
My old watch will not keep time at all.
keep to oneself
- to stay away from other people
Our neighbor is very quiet and likes to keep to herself.
keep track of (someone or something)
- to maintain a record of something
"Please carefully keep track of your expenses during the trip."
- to not stop, to continue
We are working hard to keep up the same level of production as last year.
keep up an act
- to act in a way that is different from one's natural behavior
The woman is trying to keep up an act even though she has almost no money.
keep up appearances
- to keep an outward show of prosperity or good behavior
The man is trying to keep up appearances even though he has lost his job.
keep up (something)
- to keep something in good condition, to maintain something
The man spends a lot of time trying to keep up the garden of his house.
keep up with (someone or something)
- to go at the same speed as a person or thing, to maintain the same rate of progress as someone or something
It is difficult for the boy to keep up with the rest of the class.
keep up with the Joneses
- to try to be the same as your neighbors (usually in matters related to money)
The man always worries about keeping up with the Joneses and he is always frustrated.
keep up with the news
- to keep informed
I read the newspaper every morning in order to keep up with the news.
keep up with the times
- to stay in fashion
My aunt tries very hard to keep up with the times.
(a fine) kettle of fish
- a situation that is not satisfactory, a mess
"This is a fine kettle of fish. What will we do with no water in our house."
- to be excited, to be nervous
I was keyed up after we won the game and I could not go to sleep easily.
kick a habit
- to break or stop a bad habit
The man used to smoke but he was able to kick the habit.
- to lie around and do nothing, to only do small tasks
I was tired on Saturday so I kicked around the house all morning.
kick around (someone) or kick (someone) around
- to treat someone badly, to act roughly or badly to someone or something
I do not like the supervisor very much because she is always kicking around the employees.
- to relax and not do much
I am going to kick back this evening and watch television.
kick in some money for (something) or kick some money in for (something)
- to contribute some money for something
Everybody kicked in some money for a present for our teacher.
kick off (something) or kick (something) off
- to begin something, to launch something, to start something
The department store kicked off their summer sale early Saturday morning.
- a start
The kick-off for the no smoking campaign will start next week.
- to regret something
I kicked myself for not applying for the job sooner.
kick out (someone) or kick (someone) out
- to make someone go or leave, to dismiss someone
The school kicked out the boy because of his bad behavior.
- to start (used for a motor)
At first, the engine would not start but finally it kicked over.
kick (something) around or kick around (something)
- to discuss or consider something informally
We kicked the idea around for several hours before we abandoned it.
kick the bucket
- to die
The man who used to clean the building kicked the bucket last week.
kick up a fuss/storm
- to make trouble, to be a nuisance about something
My boss kicked up a fuss when I told him about the accident.
kick up one`s heels
- to have a good time, to celebrate
We kicked up our heels at the farewell party for our boss.
- money paid illegally for favorable treatment
The construction company gave the politician a kickback in order to win the contract.
kid around (with someone)
- to tease and joke with someone
The students were kidding around with the teacher after the class.
- a very easy task
Fixing computers is kids' stuff for my friend.
Playing the game was kids' stuff. It was very easy.
For me, the course is kids' stuff. I already know everything.
kill off (something) or kill (something) off
- to kill or end something completely, to destroy something completely
The pollution in the river has killed off the fish.
kill the fatted calf
- to prepare a big feast (in someone's honor)
We decided to kill the fatted calf and have a big dinner for my uncle.
kill the goose that lays the golden egg
- to destroy something that makes a lot of money
The man quit a very good job because he wanted more money. He killed the goose that lays the golden egg.
- to waste time
We had to kill time before the movie started.
kill two birds with one stone
- to accomplish two things with one action
I was able to kill two birds with one stone by going to the meeting.
- to be killed immediately
The man was killed outright when the truck hit him on the street.
- moderately, somewhat, more or less
I was kind of tired when I arrived home last night.
kink in one's neck
- a cramp in one's neck that causes pain
I woke up this morning with a kink in my neck.
kiss and make up
- to become friends again after a fight or argument
After they had a fight, the couple was quick to kiss and make up.
kiss and tell
- to participate in something private and then tell others about it
I do not trust the girl because she is the kind of person who will kiss and tell.
kiss of death
- an act that puts an end to someone or something
It was the kiss of death for the conversation with the teacher when the student learned that the teacher knew her father.
kiss (something) good-bye
- to lose something
"You can kiss your computer good-bye. It is totally destroyed."
kiss up to (someone)
- to flatter someone in the hope of getting a benefit or reward or a promotion
One of our co-workers always likes to kiss up to our supervisor.
kit and caboodle
- the entire amount of something, everything
I took the whole kit and caboodle of my fishing supplies when I went fishing.
kith and kin
- friends and relatives
All of our kith and kin attended the anniversary for my parents.
knee-high to a grasshopper
- very young (usually used for a child)
I learned to ride a bicycle when I was knee-high to a grasshopper.
knit one's brow
- to wrinkle one's brow by frowning
The teacher knit his brow and looked sternly at the child.
- to travel without a plan, to go where one pleases
We decided to go to Brazil and knock about for a couple of months.
knock down the price of (something) or knock the price of (something) down
- to lower the price of something
I bargained hard so that I could knock down the price of the DVD player.
a knock-down-drag-out fight
- a serious fight or argument
My friend and his brother had a knock-down-drag-out fight last evening.
Knock it off!
- stop doing something, quit doing something
"Please knock it off! You will hurt yourself if you are not careful."
knock off work (early)
- to quit work (for the day)
We knocked off work early so that we could go to the soccer game.
knock on doors
- to look for a job
I have been knocking on doors all month to look for a job.
knock on wood
- to knock on something made of wood to keep from having bad luck
I do not think that I will lose my job - knock on wood.
knock one`s head against a (brick) wall
- to waste time trying to do something with no success
The company manager's have been knocking their heads against a wall trying to solve the problem.
knock oneself out (doing something)
- to make a great effort doing something
We knocked ourselves out trying to make the party successful.
knock (some) heads together
- to scold some people
The coach decided to knock some heads together in order to improve the team.
knock (someone) around or knock around (someone)
- to mistreat someone
The boy was sent home from school for knocking around another member of the class.
knock (someone) dead
- to put on a stunning performance for someone
The performance of the jazz group knocked the audience dead.
knock (someone) down to size
- to make a person more humble
The fact that the golfer lost the tournament helped to knock him down to size.
knock (someone) off or knock off (someone)
- to murder someone
A robber knocked off the owner of the shop last week.
knock (someone) off his or her feet
- to surprise or shock someone so much that he or she does not know what to do
When they announced that I had won the prize it knocked me off my feet.
knock (someone or something) out or knock out (someone or something)
- to make someone unconscious, to make something unworkable or unusable
The storm last night knocked out power in most of the town.
knock (someone) over with a feather
- to surprise someone by something extraordinary
It could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw my friend on TV.
knock (someone's) block off or knock off (someone's) block
- to hit someone very hard (in the head), to beat someone up
The man was very angry and threatened to knock the block off anyone who came near him.
knock (something) back/down
- to drink something (usually alcohol or medicine)
The medicine tasted terrible but I was able to knock it down.
knock (something) off or knock off (something)
- to finish something, to do something, to make something (often in haste or carelessly)
The small furniture company is able to knock off tables very fast.
knock the props out from under (someone)
- to destroy someone's confidence, to destroy someone's emotional or financial or moral base
The teacher knocked the props out from under the student when she criticized the student's work.
- a very beautiful woman
The man said that the woman who he saw at the bus stop was a knockout.
know a thing or two (about someone or something)
- to be well informed about someone or something
My father works in a software company and he knows a thing or two about computers.
know a trick or two
- to know some special ways of dealing with a problem
I know a trick or two about how to handle a customer who is angry or upset.
know all the tricks of the trade
- to possess the skills and knowledge necessary to do something
My cousin knows all the tricks of the trade and is a very good plumber.
know better than (to do something)
- to be smart enough not to do something
I told my friend that she should know better than to phone me at 7:00 AM on a Saturday morning.
- knowledge and skill
Our new boss has much know-how about how to operate a business.
(not) know if one is coming or going
- to not know what to do
The new sales manager does not know if he is coming or going.
- a person who acts as if he or she knows everything
The librarian is a know-it-all and nobody likes to be around him.
know of (someone or something)
- to be aware of someone or something, to have heard of someone or something
I do not know of any good restaurants near my house.
know one's ABCs
- to know the most basic things about something
The woman in the bank knows her ABCs and can provide the information that we need.
know one's place
- to know the behavior suitable to one's position in life
The boy does not know his place and often speaks out when he should not.
know one's stuff
- to know about something well
The man know's his stuff and is a very good plumber.
know one's way around/about
- to know how to get something done, to know about something
My friend knows his way around the city very well.
know (someone or something) by sight
- to know the name and recognize the face of someone or something
I know the professor's name but I do not know him by sight.
know (someone or something) like a book
- to know someone or something very well
I know the personality of my friend like a book.
know (someone or something) like an open book
- to know someone or something very well
I know the man like an open book.
know (someone or something) like the back of one's hand
- to know someone or something very well
I know the material for the exam like the back of my hand.
know (something) all too well
- to know something very well, to be very familiar with something (usually used for something that is difficult or challenging)
My friend knows all too well how difficult it will be to enter medical school.
The students know all too well what will happen if they are late with their essays.
Football fans know all too well how difficult or impossible it is to win every game.
know (something) backwards and forwards
- to know something very well
I know the names of the people in my history class backwards and forwards.
know (something) by heart
- to know something perfectly and from memory
I know the poem by heart.
know (something) from memory
- to know something well from seeing it often
I know most of the telephone numbers from memory.
know (something) inside out
- to know something thoroughly
I know the history of our city inside out.
know (something) is coming
- to know in advance that something is going to happen
I knew it was coming when my boss told me that the store would soon close.
know (something) only too well
- to know something very well (usually because of an unpleasant experience or you know that there will be negative consequences if you do or do not do something)
I know only too well what will happen if I do not finish my essay on time.
The man knows only too well how angry his boss can become if he does not do his work quickly.
(not) know the first thing about (something)
- to lack basic knowledge about something
The man does not know the first thing about computers.
know the ropes
- to know the procedures in a company, to know how to do something
I know the ropes at my job and I do very well at work.
know the score
- to know the facts (about life or something)
The man does not know the score about what is happening at his company.
know what's what
- to know the facts about something
It is difficult to know what's what with the man's problem.
know when one is not wanted
- to sense when one's presence is not welcome
I know when I am not wanted so I will not go to the restaurant.
know where (someone) stands on (something)
- to know what someone thinks or feels about someone or something
I do not know where the mayor stands on the issue of the new parking fees.
know which is which
- to be able to distinguish one thing or person from another
The two dogs look the same and I do not know which is which.
know which side one`s bread is buttered on
- to know who can help you and therefore try to please him or her, to know what is good for oneself
The man is careful not to make his boss angry. He knows which side his bread is buttered on.
a known fact
- something that is generally recognized as a fact
It is a known fact that more people get colds in the winter than in the summer.
a known quantity
- someone or something that is known and understood
The new employee is a known quantity in our office because he worked here before.
knuckle down (to something)
- to begin to work earnestly
I think it is time that we knuckle down and finish the project.
- to yield, to submit
The union finally knuckled under from the pressure and ended the strike.