N Idioms and Quizzes

N Idiom Quiz #1

letter n

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. Building the highway in the mountains was (very difficult).
a)   nobody`s fool
b)   a narrow escape
c)   nipped in the bud
d)   no bed of roses

2. The boy studies very hard so (of course) he always does well.
a)   never mind
b)   no wonder
c)   no picnic
d)   now and then

3. "(Don`t worry) about locking the door. I will do it later."
a)   No wonder
b)   No matter
c)   Never mind
d)   No picnic

4. The boy is (always excited about) going to football games.
a)   not so hot about
b)   nobody`s fool about
c)   no bed of roses about
d)   nuts about

5. The man saved up a (lot of money) from his old job.
a)   narrow escape
b)   nest egg
c)   neck of the woods
d)   nick of time

Your score is: ___  out of 5

N Idiom Quiz #2

letter n

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 man's new car is (very impressive).
a)   named after someone
b)   nothing to sneeze at
c)   nobody`s fool
d)   no picnic

7. I do not think that I can trick my friend very easily. He is (very smart).
a)   no picnic
b)   not so hot
c)   nobody`s fool
d)   no dice

8. We must stop the rumors by (stopping them at the start).
a)   the nick of time
b)   nipping them in the bud
c)   a narrow escape
d)   no bed of roses

9. The boy was (called the same as) his grandfather.
a)   never mind
b)   nuts about
c)   not much of
d)   named after

10. Finishing the computer course in three months was (very difficult).
a)   no matter
b)   nipped in the bud
c)   no picnic
d)   no wonder

Your score is: ___  out of 5

N Idioms

letter n

nail down (someone or something)

- to make certain or sure of something

I am trying to nail down the exact time that the meeting will begin.

a nail in (someone's) coffin

- something that will harm someone

Fighting with his boss was a nail in the man's coffin. He will not get a promotion now.

naked eye

- the human eye (with no binoculars etc.)

It was difficult to see the star with the naked eye.

one's name is mud

- a person`s reputation is bad

The man's name is mud now that he was caught stealing money from his company.

name of the game

- the main part of a matter, the main point

The name of the game for the company is selling cars and nothing else.

name (someone) after (someone or something)

- to give someone the name of another person or place or thing

My cousin is named after his mother`s grandfather.

narrow escape

- an escape with little chance of error

The boy had a narrow escape when he almost fell from his bicycle.


- not tolerant, not willing to accept the ideas of others

Our teacher is very narrow-minded.

near and dear

- very close or very important to you

Music has always been near and dear to the young woman.

It is good to spend time with friends and family who are near and dear to you.

near at hand

- to be close or handy to someone

I looked for a pair of scissors that were near at hand.

neck and neck

- to be equal or nearly equal in a race or contest

The two teams were neck and neck in the race to win the national championship.

neck of the woods

- an area or part of the country

My friend has never been to my neck of the woods.

need (something) like (one needs) a hole in the head

- to not need something at all

My friend needs a new computer like he needs a hole in the head.

need (something) yesterday

- to need something in a very big hurry

I need a new computer yesterday.

needle in a haystack

- something that is very hard to find

Looking for the lost receipt among the other receipts was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

neither a borrower nor a lender be

- do not borrow money from people or lend money to people because it may hurt your relationship/friendship (this proverb comes from the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare)

The boy's father always told him that the proverb "to neither a borrower nor a lender be" will help him to have good relationships with other people.

"Neither a borrower nor a lender be" can be a good philosophy for one's life.

neither fish nor fowl

- something that does not belong to a definite group or category

The man's opinions were neither fish nor fowl and nobody could put them into an identifiable category.

neither here nor there

- not relevant to the thing being discussed, to be off the subject

"What you are saying is neither here nor there. We are talking about our plans this year - not five years in the future."

neither hide nor hair of (someone or something)

- no sign or indication of someone or something

I have seen neither hide nor hair of my friend recently.

nervous Nellie

- a timid person who lacks determination and courage

The boy is a nervous Nellie and is afraid of the other students in the school.

nest egg

- money that someone has saved for the future

The man has a large nest egg and will have no financial problems if he leaves his company.

never fear

- do not worry

"Never fear, I will finish work and meet you for the movie."

never in one's life

- not in one's experience

I have never in my life, seen such a strange person.

never mind

- don`t worry, don`t bother

"If you don`t have time to pick up my laundry today, never mind, I will get it tomorrow."

never would have guessed

- never would have thought something to be the case

I never would have guessed that the woman on the bicycle is the richest woman in the city.

New Idioms

new blood

- fresh energy or power, someone or something that provides new life or vigor to something

The woman is a good employee and helped to bring new blood into our organization.

new broom sweeps clean

- a new person makes many changes

A new broom sweeps clean and when our new boss arrived he changed many things in our organization.

new deal

- a complete change, a fresh start, another chance

The player received a new deal by the team although the previous year he did not play well.

new hire

- a person who has recently been hired

The man at the gas station is a new hire and is very slow at his job.

(a) new lease on life

- a renewed outlook on life, a fresh start, an increase in the period for which something can be used or continued

The mechanic gave my car a new lease on life after he repaired it.

The new job gave the woman a new lease on life.

With a new coach and two new players, our team has a new lease on life.

new person

- a person who has become much better or feels much better

My friend is a new person now that he has quit smoking.

next-door neighbor

- the person living in the house or apartment next to you

My next-door neighbor often brings over fresh bread that she has baked.

next of kin

- one's closest living relative or relatives

The police notified the dead woman's next of kin after the accident.

next to nothing

- hardly anything, almost nothing

I was able to buy a computer for next to nothing.

nice and (some quality)

- lots of (some quality)

The bed was nice and warm and I fell asleep immediately.

(in the) nick of time

- at the very last moment

I was able to board the airplane in the nick of time.

nickel and dime (someone)

- to charge someone many small amounts of money

The small repairs to my car are beginning to nickel and dime me.

night on the town

- a night of celebration

We went out for a night on the town when we finished the project.

night owl

- a person who likes to stay up late at night

My friend is a night owl and stays up late every night.

a nine day/day's wonder

- someone or something that is of interest to people only for a short time

The actor was a nine day's wonder and everyone forgot about him after a couple of months.

nine times out of ten

- almost always

Nine times out of ten a small computer problem can be easily fixed.


- a job with regular and normal hours

Many people like the regular hours of a nine-to-five job.

nip and tuck

- evenly matched, almost even

They were going nip and tuck but the younger man finally won the race.

nip (something) in the bud

- to stop something before it becomes larger (you can destroy a flower bud before it becomes a flower)

We were able to nip the computer problem in the bud.

The company has a big problem which they are trying to nip in the bud.

No Idioms

no bed of roses

- a difficult or bad situation

It is no bed of roses for the man with no job and a large family to support.


- something (a decision or a choice) that is very easy to make

It is a no-brainer for me to decide what to do.

The job is very good so it is a no-brainer to apply for it.

It is a no-brainer that the two companies will work together.

no cigar

- not agreed to, no, certainly not

I almost got the job but in the end it was no cigar.

no deal

- not agreed to, no, certainly not

It was no deal when my plan was rejected at the meeting.

no dice

- no, certainly not (this expression is used as a refusal to a request)

"No dice. I will not lend you any money."

no doubt

- without doubt, surely, certainly

No doubt my friend will be the one to win the contest again this year.

no end

- almost without stopping, continually

The little girl cried no end when she could not find her favorite doll.

no end of/to (something)

- seeming almost endless, very many or much of something

The man had no end of problems when he lived overseas for a year.

no go

- not agreed to, no, certainly not

It is no go for our wish to have three games this weekend. We can only have two games.

no great shakes

- mediocre, unimportant

The hotel was no great shakes and I would not recommend that my friend stay there.

no hard feelings

- no anger or resentment

There were no hard feelings between the two women after their fight at work.

no holds barred

- with no restraints

There were no holds barred during the debate between the two politicians.

no ifs, ands, or buts about it

- absolutely no discussion or doubts about something

"You are going to bed now - no ifs, ands, or buts about it," said the mother to her child.

no joke

- a serious matter

The mistake with the meeting time was no joke. It caused many serious problems.

no kidding

- honestly, really

"No kidding, are you really going to buy a house."

no laughing matter

- a serious matter

The incident was no laughing matter and was taken very seriously by the police.

no love lost between (two people/groups)

- bad feelings or ill will between two people or groups

There is no love lost between my father and our neighbor.

no matter

- regardless

No matter how hard that I try, my piano teacher is never satisfied.

no matter what happens

- in any event, without regard to what happens

No matter what happens I plan to go swimming on Saturday.

no picnic

- not pleasant, difficult

It was no picnic trying to drive to the lake during the storm.

no point in doing (something)

- no purpose in doing something, no reason to do something

There is no point in talking to my supervisor. He never listens to me.

There is no point in worrying about the problem. There is nothing that I can do about it.

The money is gone and there is no point in thinking about it.

a no-show

- a person who has a reservation or appointment and does not keep it or cancel it

There were many no-shows at the concert last night.

The university club had a dinner but one of the members was a no-show.

There are often no-shows for an airplane flight.

no skin off (someone's) teeth/nose

- no difficulty for someone

It will be no skin off my teeth if the meeting is canceled.

no sooner said than done

- done quickly, immediately

I asked someone to repair the photocopy machine and no sooner said than done, it was fixed.

I asked my friend to do something and no sooner said than done, he did it.

No sooner said than done, the waiter brought us our food.

no spring chicken

- not young anymore

My aunt is no spring chicken but she always has much energy.

no stranger to (something)

- to have experience or knowledge about something

My aunt is no stranger to hard work.

The new teacher is no stranger to the material in the new class.

The new manager is no stranger to how to manage a company well.

no strings attached

- no special conditions or restrictions on an offer or opportunity

The job offer has no strings attached so I will probably take it.

The student received an offer to go to university and there are no strings attached to the offer.

no sweat

- easily accomplished, uncomplicated

Finishing the job was no sweat. I finished it in two hours.

no sweat

- no problem

"No sweat. I will help you tomorrow if you need me."

no trespassing

- no entry to a place

There is no trespassing on the field next to the oil tanks.

no two ways about it

- no choice or alternative about something, something is true

"No two ways about it, you must do your homework and go to bed now."

There are no two ways about it, our business is having problems.

There are no two ways about it, my friend will never give my money back to me.

no-win situation

- a situation where there is no satisfactory solution

It was a no-win situation for the school when they had to deal with the problem student.

no wonder

- not surprising

No wonder the boy is so tired after staying up all night.

nobody`s fool

- a smart person, a person who can take care of himself or herself

The woman is nobody`s fool. You will not have to worry about her when she starts her new job.

nobody's home

- one`s attention is somewhere else, one has a simple mind

Nobody`s home I thought, as I tried to have a conversation with the strange man.

nod off

- to begin to sleep (usually briefly and without planning to sleep)

I nodded off last night while I was watching television.

The student nodded off during the class.

none of (someone's) beeswax

- to be of no concern to someone

My relationship with my friend is none of my supervisor's beeswax.

none of (someone's) business

- to be of no concern to someone

My personal financial situation is none of my friend's business.

none other than (someone)

- the very person (that one may be talking or thinking about)

I went to the airport and I saw none other than the president of our company.

none the wiser

- to be still confused about something even after it has been explained to you, not knowing any more than before

My sister was none the wiser when I put her fashion magazines in the garbage.

none the worse for wear

- not worse because of use or effort

We were none the worse for wear after our long trip through the mountains.

The bicycle was none the worse for wear after the boy used it for many months.

none too (something)

- not very something, not at all something

The boy was none too smart to try and steal the DVD from the store.

nose about

- to look for something kept private or secret, to pry into something

The little boy likes to nose about the cupboards in his house.

nose around

- to look for something kept private or secret, to pry into something

The secretary nosed around her boss's desk to look for the address.

nose down

- to head down, to bring down the nose of something

The pilot began to nose down the plane as it approached the airport.

a nose in (something)

- unwelcome interest in something, impolite curiosity about something

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

nose into (something)

- to move into something, to go front end first

We stopped our car and nosed into the parking space.

nose (someone) out or nose out (someone)

- to push someone away, to exclude someone

The famous basketball player nosed out the other players to become the best player in the league.

Not Idioms

not a bit

- none at all

I had not a bit of free time last weekend.

not a living soul

- nobody

There was not a living soul at the restaurant last night.

not a moment to spare

- just in time, no extra time

We arrived at the airport with not a moment to spare.

not able to call one's time one's own

- to be too busy to control one's own schedule

I am not able to call my time my own and I have no time to relax.

not able to go on

- to be unable to continue

I was not able to go on so I stopped running in the marathon.

not able to see the forest for the trees

- to allow the details of a situation to obscure the situation as a whole

The man is not able to see the forest for the trees and always allows the small details to obscure the larger picture of what he is trying to do.

not all (someone or something) is cracked up to be

- to be not as good as someone or something is said to be

The new cook is not all that he is cracked up to be and we have received several complaints about his food.

not all there

- to be not mentally adequate, to be crazy or silly

The man is not all there and sometimes he does very strange things.

not at all

- certainly not

I am not at all happy with my new computer.

not bat an eye

- to not show any signs of being nervous even when something shocking or bad happens

The policeman did not bat an eye when the criminal began to reach for his knife.

not believe one's eyes

- to not believe what one is seeing

I did not believe my eyes when my father gave me a television set for my birthday.

not born yesterday

- to be experienced in the ways of the world

I was not born yesterday and I do not believe what the woman is saying.

not breathe a word about (someone or something)

- to keep a secret about someone or something, to not say anything about someone or something

I promised my friend that I would not breathe a word about his plans for the weekend.

not breathe a word of (something)

- to not tell something to anyone

I will not breathe a word of the plans to my friend.

not buy (something)

- to not accept something to be true

I do not buy the excuse that the man does not have enough money to pay for his dinner.

not by a long shot

- not at all

Not by a long shot was I able to find enough time to finish reading the book.

not by any stretch of the imagination

- even if you try it is difficult to accept that something is true

The player is not by any stretch of the imagination, a very good player.

Not by any stretch of the imagination, could you consider the man a good writer.

not enough room to swing a cat

- not very much space

There was not enough room to swing a cat in the small hotel room.

not for a moment

- not at all, never

Not for a moment, did I believe what the man was saying.

not for anything in the world

- not for anything

Not for anything in the world, will I go to the restaurant with that woman.

not for hire

- not available to take new passengers (a taxi or something else that is not available to rent)

The first taxi was not for hire so we had to wait for another one.

not for love nor money

- not for anything

Not for love nor money, will I agree to work weekends next month.

not for publication

- not to be published, secret or private information

The documents from the court trial are not for publication.

not for the faint of heart

- not suitable for people who feel uncomfortable in a stressful or dangerous situation or when dealing with violent images

The small bridge looks very dangerous and is not for the faint of heart.

The small motor scooters with many passengers are not for the faint of heart.

The images in the horror movie are not for the faint of heart.

not for the world

- not at any price, not for anything

I would, not for the world, go on a date with that woman.

not give (something) another thought

- to not worry or think about something

I did not give it another thought when I agreed to help my friend move from his apartment.

not give (someone) the time of day

- to dislike someone so much that you totally ignore him or her

I dislike my coworker and would not give her the time of day.

not give/care two hoots about (someone or something)

- to not care at all about someone or something

I do not give two hoots about what my neighbor thinks of me.

not half bad

- to be okay, to be pretty good

The restaurant meal was not half bad and everybody seemed to like it.

not have a leg to stand on

- to have no good proof or excuse for something, to have no good evidence or defence to offer someone

"The company does not have a leg to stand on if they refuse to pay the money that they owe you."

not have a prayer

- to have no possibility of success in something

The man does not have a prayer to get the new job.

not hold a candle to (someone or something)

- to not be nearly as good as someone or something

The new secretary does not hold a candle to the one who quit.

not hold water

- to be illogical, to make no sense

The excuses of the man do not hold water.

not hurt a flea

- to not harm anything or anyone (not even a tiny insect)

My mother would not hurt a flea and she is very kind to everyone who she meets.

not in the same league with (someone or something)

- to be not nearly as good as someone or something

The new coach is not in the same league as the coach who we had last season.

not know enough to come in out of the rain

- to be very stupid

The woman is not very smart and does not know enough to come in out of the rain.

not know one's own strength

- to not realize how destructive or harmful one's strength can be

The little boy does not know his own strength and does much damage when he plays.

not know (someone) from Adam

- to not know someone at all

I did not know the man from Adam.

not know the first thing about (someone or something)

- to not know anything about someone or something

I do not know the first thing about carpets so we asked a specialist to repair the carpet in our apartment.

not know where to turn

- to have no idea what to do about something

The young woman did not know where to turn when she lost her job.

not know whether/if one is coming or going

- to be very confused

My friend did not know whether he was coming or going after the long airplane flight.

not let (someone) catch you (doing something)

- to not let someone discover you doing something

"Do not let me catch you doing that again or you will be in trouble," said the mother to her child.

not lift a finger/hand (to help someone)

- to do nothing to help someone

The girl will not lift a finger to help her mother.

not long for this world

- to be about to die, to be about to stop working

My uncle is very sick and is not long for this world.

My laptop is not working well. I think that it is not long for this world.

not made of money

- to not have a lot of money

My father always says that he is not made of money when I ask him to give me some.

not miss much

- to not miss observing any part of what is going on

Our teacher does not miss much and we must behave well in her class.

not move a muscle

- to remain perfectly motionless

I was told to not move a muscle while the dentist was working on my teeth.

not much of (something)

- to be rather bad, to be not so good

It is not much of a hotel but I think that it will be good for one night.

not on your life

- definitely not

a) "May I borrow your car?"

b) "Not on your life."

not one iota

- not even a tiny bit

There is not one iota of truth in what my boss is saying about me.

not one's place

- not one's role to do something

It is not my place to tell other people what they should do with their free time.

not open one's mouth

- to not say anything

The man in the movie theater was told not to open his mouth.

not see farther than the end of one's nose

- to not care about the future or about what is happening elsewhere or to other people

My friend cannot see farther than the end of her nose and is not interested in other people.

not see past the end of one's nose

- to not care about the future or about what is happening elsewhere or to other people

My boss is not interested in me and cannot see past the end of his nose.

not set foot (somewhere)

- to not go somewhere

I plan to never set foot in the haunted house.

The restaurant was terrible and the woman will never set foot in it again.

The old factory is dangerous and the children should never set foot in it.

not show one's face

- to not appear

We asked the man to not show his face at our restaurant if he was not going to behave properly.

not sleep a wink

- to not sleep at all

I am tired today because I could not sleep a wink last night.

not so hot

- to be not very good

I have been feeling not so hot lately because I had a cold last week.

not (someone's) cup of tea

- to be not something that one likes

Classical music is not my friend's cup of tea so she did not go the the concert with the others.

not take no for an answer

- to not accept someone's refusal

My aunt would not take no for an answer when I said that I could not eat dinner at her house.

not tell a (living) soul

- to not reveal something to anyone

I did not tell a soul about my fight with my friend.

I promised that I would not tell a living soul about the party.

not to be

- not supposed or intended to happen, not part of destiny

The young woman wanted to go to medical school but that was not to be.

Sadly, the grandmother passed away suddenly so one more visit with her children was not to be.

not touch (something) with a ten-foot pole

- to consider something completely undesirable or uninteresting

That car is dangerous and I would not touch it with a ten-foot pole.

not up to scratch

- not adequate

My uncle's golf game is not up to scratch and he always gets a bad score.

not up to snuff

- not adequate

My piano playing ability is not up to snuff and I need to practice more.

not with it

- to be not able to think clearly

My grandmother was not with it today and we were not able to have a very good visit.

not worth a dime

- to be worthless

Our old sofa is not worth a dime so we put it in the garbage.

not worth a hill of beans

- to be worthless

Anything that our supervisor says is not worth a hill of beans so nobody trusts him.

not worth a plugged nickel

- to be worthless

His promise to pay back the money is not worth a plugged nickel.

not worth mentioning

- to be not important enough to require a comment

The problem that we had with the manager was not worth mentioning so we did not say anything to anybody.

not worth one's while

- to be not worth bothering about

It is not worth my while to go downtown if it is only to do one thing.

not worth the trouble

- to be not important enough to require a comment or to do something

It was not worth the trouble to repair our old stove so we threw it in the garbage.

Nothing Idioms

nothing but skin and bones

- to be very thin or emaciated

The young man was nothing but skin and bones when he returned from the long camping trip.

nothing but (something)

- to be only something

There were nothing but people who played wind instruments at the music camp.

nothing doing

- I will not do it, certainly not

"Nothing doing. I am not going to stay and work late again this evening."

nothing down

- to not require a down payment

The young couple purchased their house with nothing down.

nothing if not (something)

- without doubt, certainly

The man is nothing if not punctual. He has never been late in his seven years with this company.

nothing of the kind

- to be nothing like that

My boss thought that I was complaining but I told him that my comments were nothing of the kind.

nothing short of (something)

- to be almost the same as something

It was nothing short of a miracle that the young man survived the car accident.

nothing to choose from

- no choice

There was nothing to choose from when we went to the shoe sale in the afternoon.

nothing to complain about

- everything is all right

I told my boss that I had nothing to complain about regarding my job.

nothing to it

- easy

There was nothing to it and I was able to fix the television in about ten minutes.

nothing to sneeze at

- something that you should take seriously and respect

The man's new salary is nothing to sneeze at.

nothing to speak of

- not many, not much

a) "Did you find any problems during the house inspection."

b) "Nothing to speak of. Everything seemed to be fine."

nothing to write home about

- nothing exciting or interesting happened

a) "Did anything interesting happen during your holiday."

b) "Nothing to write home about," I replied.

now and again

- occasionally

Now and again we have pasta for dinner.

now and then

- occasionally

I like to go to that restaurant now and then.

now or never

- at this time and no other

It was now or never so the young man asked his girlfriend to marry him.

nowhere near

- not nearly

There were nowhere near enough chairs for all of the people who planned to come to the meeting.

null and void

- not valid, canceled

The credit card was null and void and I was unable to use it on my holiday.

a number of things or people

- an indefinite number of things or people

There were a number of reasons why I did not want to study at my father's university.

number one

- oneself, one`s own interests

The man is always looking out for number one and he will never do anything for other people.

nurse a grudge (against someone)

- to keep resenting and disliking someone for a long period of time

The woman has been nursing a grudge against her sister for many years.

nurse (someone) back to health

- to give someone care to restore him or her to good health

My mother spent several weeks with my grandmother trying to nurse her back to health.

nuts about (someone or something)

- to be enthusiastic about something

The man has been nuts about cars since he was a little boy.

nuts and bolts (of something)

- the basic facts about something

The nuts and bolts of the housing loan were carefully discussed by the bank and their client.

nutty as a fruitcake

- to be very crazy

The woman who lives next door is nutty as a fruitcake.

nuzzle up to (someone or something)

- to nestle or cuddle against someone or something (especially with your nose or face)

The puppy nuzzled up to his owner.