S Idioms and Quizzes
S 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
S 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
S 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
S 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
S Idiom Quiz #5
Quiz 5 - 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
S Idiom Quiz #6
Quiz 6 - 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
S Idiom Quiz #7
Quiz 7 - 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
S Idiom Quiz #8
Quiz 8 - 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
S Idiom Quiz #9
Quiz 9 - 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
S Idiom Quiz #10
Quiz 10 - 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
S Idiom Quiz #11
Quiz 11 - 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
- to go to bed, to go to sleep
I sacked out as soon as I arrived home last evening.
a sacred cow
- something that is never criticized even if it sometimes deserves to be
The national park system is a sacred cow of the government and is never criticized by anyone.
sadder but wiser
- unhappy about something but having learned something from the experience
The man was sadder but wiser after he learned that his wallet had been stolen.
saddle (someone) with (something)
- to give someone something undesirable or difficult to deal with
I try not to saddle my friend with my financial problems.
safe and sound
- to be safe or healthy
We arrived at our destination safe and sound after a long journey.
a safe bet
- something that is almost one hundred percent certain
It is a safe bet that our boss will not come to work today.
(to be on the) safe side
- to take no chances
It may rain so to be on the safe side I think that I will bring my umbrella.
safety in numbers
- to feel safe by being surrounded by a large number of people
There was safety in numbers when the students went to complain about their new teacher.
- very good and wise advice
My friend asked me for my sage advice regarding his problems.
sail into (someone)
- to scold or criticize someone very hard, to attack someone
When I entered the office my supervisor sailed into me for being late.
sail right through (something)
- to finish something quickly and easily
I was able to sail right through the material for my final exam.
sail under false colors
- to pretend to be something that one is not
The politician was sailing under false colors when he appealed to the citizens for votes.
salt away money
- to save money
My friend has salted away much money from her new job.
salt of the earth
- basically and fundamentally good simple people
The members of our club are the salt of the earth and are fun to be with.
same as (someone or something)
- to be identical to someone or something
My sister is the same as the girl who lives down the block.
- Me too! I agree!
"Same here," I replied when someone said that they were having problems with their Internet provider.
same old story
- something that occurs in the same way as before
It is the same old story with my friend. He borrows money but he never wants to pay it back.
same to you
- the same comment applies to you
"The same to you," the boy said when his friend said that he was stupid.
sands of time
- the accumulated tiny amounts of time (like the sand in an hourglass)
The sands of time have done much to change the woman's feelings about her sister.
- to preserve one`s good reputation or dignity when something has happened to hurt it
Our boss is responsible for many problems in our company. He wants to quit before he is fired so that he can save face.
save one`s breath
- to remain silent because talking will do no good
You should save your breath and not talk to that woman because she will not believe you anyway.
save one`s neck/skin
- to save oneself from danger or trouble
The man left the scene of the fire quickly in order to save his neck.
save (something) for a rainy day
- to save something (eg. money) for the future
I plan to save some money for a rainy day.
save the day
- to bring about victory or success (when defeat is likely)
The football player saved the day for his team when he played his best game of the season.
save up for (something)
- to save money for a specific purpose
My friend is saving up for a new phone.
The woman has been saving up for a holiday all year.
saved by the bell
- to be rescued from a difficult situation by something that brings the situation to a sudden end
I was saved by the bell and do not have to give my presentation until tomorrow.
- a redeeming quality - especially a quality that compensates for one's shortcomings
The man's saving grace was his musical ability. His personality was terrible.
say a mouthful
- to say something of great importance or meaning or length
"You certainly said a mouthful," I said when my friend began to tell me about his complaint.
- to say a prayer of thanks before or after a meal
The bride's father wanted to say grace before the wedding banquet.
say I do
- to get married (during a wedding ceremony it is common to say "I do" when you agree to marry your partner)
The man was very happy to say "I do," at the wedding ceremony.
say one`s piece
- to say openly what one thinks
I said my piece at the meeting and then quietly left.
say (something) in a roundabout way
- to say something indirectly
I said what I wanted to say in a roundabout way in order to make my point.
say (something) to (someone's) face
- to say something (often unpleasant) directly to someone
My supervisor always complains about me but she never says anything to my face.
say (something) under one's breath
- to say something so softly that almost nobody can hear it
The woman said something under her breath but I could not understand it.
say the word
- to give a sign, to show a wish
"Just say the word and I will come and meet you at the airport."
- to surrender, to give in
The little boy was forced to say uncle and do what the older boy wanted.
scale (something) down
- to make something smaller
The government decided to scale down the plans for the sports stadium.
scare (someone) out of his or her wits
- to frighten someone very much
The dog scared the little boy out of his wits.
scare (someone) silly
- to frighten someone very much
The mouse scared the girl silly.
scare (someone) stiff
- to scare someone severely
The little boy was scared stiff after he watched the horror movie.
scare the (living) daylights out of (someone)
- to frighten someone very much
Falling off the bicycle scared the daylights out of the little girl.
The movie scared the living daylights out of me.
scare the pants off (someone)
- to frighten someone very badly
The big dog scared the pants off the little boy.
scare up (somebody or something) or scare (somebody or something) up
- to find someone or something, to gather something with some effort
We were able to scare up some sleeping bags so that we could go camping.
- to be frightened very much
I was scared stiff during the horror movie.
scatter (something) around
- to carelessly put something in different places
My papers are always scattered around my house and I am never able to find them.
school of hard knocks
- the ordinary experiences of life
The man learned about life in the school of hard knocks.
school of thought
- a particular philosophy
There are many schools of thought about how the government should proceed with its new transportation plan.
score an own goal
- to earn a point for the opposing team by scoring in your own net, to unintentionally harm your own interests
Our team scored an own goal and we lost the game.
The man scored an own goal when he quit his job with no plans for doing something else.
score points with (someone)
- to gain the favor of someone
The salesman always worked extra hours in order to score points with his boss.
scout around for (someone or something)
- to search or look for someone or something
The company is scouting around for a new warehouse for their products.
scrape the bottom of the barrel
- to take whatever is left after the best has been taken
The company is scraping the bottom of the barrel to look for new employees.
scrape (something) together or scrape together (something)
- to gather small amounts of money or something (usually with some difficulty) for some purpose
We were able to scrape together enough money to go on a holiday.
scrape (something) up or scrape up (something)
- to find or gather something with some effort
My friend scraped up some money and came to visit me during the summer.
scratch around for (something)
- to look for something
The woman was scratching around for some money to buy some food.
scratch (someone`s) back
- to do something for someone in the hope that they will do something for you
"You scratch my back and I`ll scratch yours," the customer said when we talked about the new sales contract.
scratch the surface (of something)
- to only begin to do or learn something
My friend likes to listen to classical music but she is only beginning to scratch the surface of what is available.
scream bloody murder
- to complain bitterly about something
The woman screamed bloody murder when someone took her parking place.
- to loaf about, to pass time without doing anything
I screwed around all morning and did not get anything done.
screw up (someone or something) or screw (someone or something) up
- to cause trouble for someone or something, to make a mess of something
My travel agent screwed up my travel schedule and I missed my flight.
screw up one's courage
- to build up one's courage for something
I screwed up my courage and asked my supervisor to transfer me to a different department.
scrimp and save
- to be very thrifty, to save money for something
I have been scrimping and saving in order to buy a new computer.
- to move up or down through the text on a computer screen
I scrolled down to read the rest of the online story.
scrounge around for (something)
- to look/search in many places for something
We did not have enough wood for the fence so we had to scrounge around to find some more.
seamy side of life
- the most unpleasant or roughest aspect of life
The policeman learned much about the seamy side of life during his many years of work.
search high and low for (someone or something)
- to look carefully everywhere for someone or something
I have been searching high and low for my address book.
- I don`t know., How should I know?
"Search me," my friend said when I asked him what had happened to his car.
search one`s soul
- to study and think about one`s reasons and actions to see if one has been fair and honest
I have been searching my soul to see if I could have prevented the car crash.
second a motion
- to formally agree with a proposal in a meeting
I seconded the motion to start one hour early every morning during the summer.
- to try to guess what someone else intends to do or would have done in a situation
You should never try to second-guess the actions of the firefighters in a dangerous situation.
- not new, used by someone else
We went to a second-hand bookstore to look for the books.
second nature to (someone)
- to be easy and natural for someone
Playing a musical instrument is second nature to my friend.
- to be not of the best quality
The performance of the school choir was second-rate.
a second thought
- a thought that one has after thinking about something again
I gave it a second thought and decided not to quit the class.
second to none
- to be better than everything else
The performance by the opera singer was second to none.
- energy that is regained after being tired
After we got our second wind we continued our hike up the mountain.
security against (something)
- something that keeps something safe, protection against something
The money in the bank is my security against losing my job in the future.
- something that one holds onto for reassurance or comfort (like a child and a blanket)
The boy uses his computer as a security blanket so that he does not have to meet new people.
see a man about a dog
- to leave for some unspecified purpose (often to go to the restroom)
I drank several cups of coffee and I soon had to stop my car to see a man about a dog.
see about (something)
- to check into something
I am going to see about getting the book before next week.
- to see two of everything instead of one
I began to see double after I hit my head on the edge of the fence.
see eye to eye (with someone)
- to agree with someone
I do not always see eye to eye with my friend.
see fit to (do something)
- to decide to do something
I hope that my company sees fit to spend more time training its employees.
see no objection to (something)
- to not have any objection to something
I see no objection to my friend coming to the meeting with me.
see one`s way clear to (do something)
- to feel able to do something
"When you see your way clear to begin the job could you please come and tell me."
- to become angry
My friend saw red last night when I told him about the broken DVD player.
- to do military duty in an actual war
The man saw service in the war.
see (someone or something) as (something)
- to consider someone to be something
My friend sees me as an expert in financial matters although I am not.
see (someone) home
- to accompany someone home
I saw my cousin home after her visit last evening.
see (someone) off or see off (someone)
- to go with someone to their point of departure
I went to the airport to see my mother off.
see (someone) out or see out (someone)
- to go with someone out of a room or house
I went to the door to see our guests out.
see (someone) to (somewhere)
- to escort someone to a place safely
I saw my friend to the door when he decided to go home.
see (something) out or see out (something)
- to finish something, to not quit doing something
I decided to stay with my company in order to see out the restructuring process.
see (something) through
- to do something until it is completed
I want to stay and see the building project through.
- to think that one is seeing stars as a result of being hit on the head
When I was hit by the opposing player I fell to the ground and began to see stars.
see the color of (someone's) money
- to verify that someone has (enough) money
I did not give my friend a ticket for the game until I saw the color of his money.
see the handwriting on the wall
- to know that something is certain to happen
We saw the handwriting on the wall and we knew that our company was going to go bankrupt.
see the last of (someone or something)
- to see someone or something for the last time
I was very happy to see the last of my friend.
see the light
- to realize that one has been wrong
I finally saw the light and began to work in the same manner as everyone else.
see the light at the end of the tunnel
- to foresee an end to something such as a problem or a task
I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and I knew that I would finish the work soon.
see the light of day
- to be born, to begin
I do not believe that his plans to build a new house will ever see the light of day.
see the sights
- to see the important things in a place
We stopped for three days in the city so that we could see the sights.
see the world through rose-colored glasses
- to see only the good things about something, to be too optimistic
She is unrealistic and always sees the world through rose-colored glasses.
- to imagine that one sees something that is not there
The boy is always daydreaming and imagines that he is seeing things.
see things/everything through rose-colored glasses
- to see only the good things about something, to be too optimistic
The girl is very nice although she always sees everything through rose-colored glasses.
see through (someone or something)
- to understand someone`s true character or motivation, to understand the real reason for something
I could see through the supervisor's attempt to fire the woman from her job.
see to it (that something is done)
- to take the responsibility to do something, to make sure that something is done
"Will you please see to it that the garbage is taken out in the morning."
see to (someone or something)
- to take care of someone or something
I will see to renting a car tomorrow.
see which way the wind is blowing
- to determine what is the most suitable thing to do
I want to see which way the wind is blowing before I decide to quit my job.
seeing is believing
- one must believe something that one sees
Seeing is believing and I did not believe the size of the house until I actually saw it.
- to be dating someone on a regular basis
The woman was not seeing anyone when she met the man at the party.
seize an opportunity
- to take advantage of an opportunity
I seized the opportunity to take the extra class when I heard about it.
seize upon (something)
- to take hold of something and make an issue of it
The media seized upon the mistake of the politician.
sell like hotcakes
- to sell quickly, to sell rapidly
The tickets for the concert were selling like hotcakes when I called this morning.
sell out (someone or something) or sell (someone or something) out
- to be disloyal, to betray someone or something
The man does not want to sell out his moral values.
sell (someone) a bill of goods
- to deceive someone, to get someone to believe something that is not true
I believe that the salesman sold me a bill of goods and the product does not have much value.
sell (someone) on (something - a plan or idea)
- to convince someone that something is good or beneficial
I could not sell my friend on the idea to buy a new computer.
sell (someone) short
- to underestimate someone
My friend is selling himself short when he thinks that he will not be able to find a good job.
sell (something) out or sell out (something)
- to sell all of something
They sold out the concert in every city that it went to.
sell (something) for a song
- to sell something very cheaply
They sold the furniture for a song.
sell (something) off or sell off (something)
- to sell much or all of something
The computer company decided to sell off some of their real estate business.
sell (something) on credit
- to sell something now and let the purchaser pay for it later
The store sold the stereo system on credit.
- a situation where there are more buyers of a product/service than sellers so the sellers have an advantage
It was a seller's market for houses and the houses were increasing in value.
send away for (something)
- to write a letter asking for something
I sent away for some information but it has not arrived yet.
send (someone) about his or her business
- to send someone away (in an unfriendly manner)
I sent the man about his business when he interrupted my work last evening.
send (someone) off or send off (someone)
- to participate in saying good-bye to someone who is leaving
We went to the airport to send off the company president.
send (someone) packing
- to tell someone to leave, to dismiss someone
The company sent the man packing because of his bad work performance.
send (someone) to the showers
- to send a player out of the game and off the field/court etc.
The coach decided to send the player to the showers after his poor performance in the game.
send (someone) up or send up (someone)
- to sentence someone to prison
The judge sent the man up for seven years for robbing a bank.
send (something) C.O.D.
- to send merchandise to someone who will pay for it when it is delivered
The company sent the computer printer C.O.D.
send up a trial balloon
- to suggest something and see how people react to it
The company sent up a trial balloon to see how people would react to their new product.
separate but equal
- to be segregated but of equal value or quality
The teaching staff and the administration were separate but equal regarding school decisions.
separate the men from the boys
- to separate competent people from less competent people
Some people say that joining the military is a good way to separate the men from the boys.
serve as a guinea pig
- to allow some kind of test to be performed on someone
The students served as a guinea pig for the school board's plan to change the school curriculum.
serve notice on (someone)
- to formally announce something to someone
We served notice on the apartment manager that we would leave our apartment at the end of the month.
serve (someone`s) purpose
- to be useful to someone for a certain need
The small screwdriver should serve my purpose until I find the correct size.
serve (someone) right
- to get the punishment or results that one deserves
My friend never studies at all so it serves him right to fail his exam.
- to spend time in jail
The man served time when he was young but now he is a good citizen.
set a date
- to decide on a date for a wedding
After thinking about marriage for a long time, the couple decided to set a date.
set a precedent
- to establish a pattern, to set a policy that must be followed in future cases
The legal case set a precedent that will be followed for many years in the future.
set a trap
- to prepare a trap to catch an animal or a person who is doing something wrong or illegal
The conservation officers set a trap to try and catch the bear.
set about to (do something or go somewhere)
- to begin or start something, to prepare to go somewhere
We set about to prepare for our move to a bigger building.
set back (someone or something) or set (someone or something) back
- to cause someone or something to get behind schedule, to slow down someone or something
The heavy rain set back the efforts of the farmers to plant their crops.
set eyes on (someone or something)
- to see someone or something for the first time
I do not know if my friend is here or not. I have not set eyes on her since yesterday.
set fire to (something)
- to make something burn
The workers set fire to the building by accident.
set foot (somewhere)
- to step or go somewhere
I have never set foot in that restaurant and I never will in the future.
set forth (something)
- to explain something exactly or clearly
The manager carefully set forth the terms of the rental contract.
set forth (somewhere)
- to start to go somewhere, to begin a trip
We set forth on our holiday at 7:00 this morning.
set great store on (someone or something)
- to like or value someone or something
Our company sets great store on their ability to attract good people.
- to begin and probably continue (used for a weather or mental condition)
The rain has set in and it looks like it will not stop.
A mild depression has set in for my neighbor
set in one's ways
- to be inflexible
My grandfather is set in his ways and he will not change his habits.
set one`s heart on (something)
- to want something very much
I set my heart on a nice holiday this winter although I have no money.
set one`s mind at rest
- to free oneself from worry, to stop worrying
I told my father the reason that we cannot come in order to set his mind at rest.
set one's sights on (something)
- to select something as one's goal
The local politician has set his sights on being elected to a higher office.
set one's teeth on edge
- to be unpleasant and to cause an uncomfortable feeling
The idea that we would have to move our office immediately set my teeth on edge.
set out (somewhere)
- to leave on a journey
Marco Polo set out for China many years ago.
set out to (do something)
- to decide and begin to try to do something, to attempt to do something
My friend set out to learn Spanish when he went to Mexico.
- to start sailing, to begin a sea voyage
The three women set sail for Hawaii in a small sailboat.
set (someone) back or set back (someone)
- to cost someone
"How much did your new suit set you back?"
set (someone) back on his or her heels
- to surprise/shock/overwhelm someone
The announcement by the principal set the teachers back on their heels.
set (someone or something) free
- to release someone or something
The conservation officers went to the mountains and set the bear free.
set (someone or something) loose
- to set someone or something free, to release someone or something that you are holding
The wildlife department decided to set the bear loose.
set (someone or something) straight
- to explain something to someone
The police officer set the woman straight about the driving laws.
set (someone's) teeth on edge
- to irritate someone
The constant noise from the stereo next door set my teeth on edge.
set (someone) up in business or set up (someone) in business
- to help establish someone in business
My father helped to set my sister's husband up in business.
set (something) aside for (someone or something)
- to save or reserve something for a special purpose
We set some money aside for our next holiday.
set (something) off or set off (something)
- to decorate something through contrast, to balance something by difference
We painted the door red in order to set off the light colors of the walls.
set (something) off or set off (something)
- to cause something to explode
The fire set off a large explosion on the ship.
set (something) right
- to correct something, to make something more fair
The man made an effort to set things right between himself and his brother.
set (something) to music
- to write a piece of music that is related to some written material
The composer has worked hard to set many great stories to music.
set the pace
- to decide on a rate of speed to do something that others will follow
The manager of the factory sets the pace for his employees.
set the stage for (something)
- to prepare for something
The win by our team set the stage for the final championship game next month.
set the table
- to place plates/glasses/napkins on the table before a meal
I set the table while my mother was cooking dinner.
set the world on fire
- to do something outstanding, to do something that makes one famous
The author has not been able to set the world on fire with his writing but he is trying very hard.
set tongues wagging
- to cause people to start gossiping
The actions of the supervisor set tongues wagging in our office.
- to arrange type for printing
The small printing company worked all night to set type for the local paper.
set up (someone) or set (someone) up
- to put someone in a position to be manipulated or cheated
I do not believe that I lost the money honestly. I believe that someone set me up.
set up (something) or set (something) up
- to establish something, to provide the money for something
The newspaper company provided the money to set up the travel magazine.
The company set up a new department to test new products.
set up (something) or set (something) up
- to make something ready to use by putting the parts together
After we set up the gas barbecue we were able to cook dinner.
set up shop (somewhere)
- to open a business
The fire alarm company decided to set up shop in our city.
set upon (someone or something)
- to attack someone or something violently
The three young boys set upon the man on the city bus.
settle a score with (someone)
- to retaliate against someone for a past wrong
My boss is trying to settle a score with someone for something that happened several years ago.
- to calm down
The baby finally settled down and began to sleep.
- to begin to live a quiet and stable life (often used after getting married or getting a job)
My friend settled down and started a family after he finished university.
settle for (something)
- to be satisfied with less than you want, to agree to accept something as a second choice
I settled for less than I wanted but I am happy with my new contract at work.
settle on (something)
- to decide on something
We settled on the fish dinner at the restaurant.
settle (one's) affairs
- to deal with one's business matters, to manage one's affairs
It was very difficult for my friend to settle his affairs after his illness.
settle (something) out of court
- to settle a disagreement without having to go through a court of justice
The company was able to settle their lawsuit out of court.
settle up with (someone)
- to pay someone what one owes them
I settled up with my friend before he left to work overseas.
- an arrangement, the details of a situation
My uncle has a very nice setup at his office.
- a state of intense delight
The singer has been in seventh heaven since she won the music award.
sever ties with (someone)
- to end a relationship or agreement with someone or something
Our company decided to sever ties with the small advertising company.
sew (something) up or sew up (something)
- to complete or secure something
The candidate for the nomination sewed up his victory last week.
shack up with (someone)
- to live with someone without marrying him or her
When my sister was younger she shacked up with her boyfriend for two years.
shades of (someone or something)
- a reminder of someone or something
The festival contained shades of the large festivals of many years ago.
shadow of oneself/itself
- someone or something that is not as strong or healthy as before
The professional boxer was a shadow of his former self.
shake a leg
- to go fast, to hurry
"Please try and shake a leg. We are already late for the concert."
shake (hands) on (something)
- to shake the hand of someone as a sign of agreement about something
I shook hands on the agreement with my boss.
shake hands with (someone)
- to shake the hand of someone to greet them
I shook hands with my neighbor when I first met him.
shake in one's boots
- to be afraid, to shake from fear
The little boy was shaking in his boots when the large dog approached him.
shake off an illness or shake an illness off
- to become well or healthy again
My friend is unable to shake off her illness and cannot come to the party.
shake off (someone or something) or shake (someone or something) off
- to get rid of someone or something that is bothering you
I was able to shake off my cold after a weekend of resting in bed.
shake (someone) down or shake down (someone)
- to get money by threatening someone
The gangsters shook the shop owner down to get some money.
shake up (someone) or shake (someone) up
- to shock or upset someone
The change in policies shook up many people in the company.
shake up (something)
- to reorganize something
The president decided to shake up the company in order to bring new energy into the organization.
- to be bothered or disturbed
I was shaken up after I heard about the fire at our apartment building.
- to improve one's behavior or performance or physical shape
The man has begun to shape up and is doing his job much better.
shape up or ship out
- to either improve one's performance or leave
The new employee was told to shape up or ship out when his performance was not equal to the other members of the staff.
share and share alike
- to have or get equal shares of something
We share and share alike when we are on a camping trip.
share (someone's) pain
- to understand and sympathize with someone's pain or discomfort
I tried hard to share my friend's pain after his father died.
share (someone's) sorrow
- to grieve as someone else grieves
The neighbors shared the man's sorrow after he lost his house in a fire.
a sharp tongue
- a way of talking or speaking to others that is unkind or bad or critical
The woman has a sharp tongue and she says very unkind things to other people.
shed crocodile tears
- to pretend that one is crying
The man pretended to apologize for his actions but he was only shedding crocodile tears.
shed light on (something)
- to make something clearer or easier to understand
The speech helped to shed light on the political scandal.
shell out money
- to pay money
I shelled out much money for the new stereo.
shine up to (someone)
- to try to please someone, to try to make friends with someone
The man is always shining up to his boss in the hopes of getting an increase in salary.
shipping and handling
- the costs of handling a product and transporting it
The cost of shipping and handling for some goods that are bought over the Internet are very high.
ships that pass in the night
- people who meet briefly by chance but are unlikely to meet again
We were like two ships that pass in the night and I do not think that I will ever see that person again.
shirk one's duty
- to neglect one's job or task
The guard was shirking his duty when he spent much of the evening playing cards.
the shoe is on the other foot
- the opposite is true, someone's place or situation is changed into someone else's place or situation
My friend always has problems at school but now the shoe is on the other foot and I am the one who is having problems.
- someone or something that is expected to win, a sure winner
The university president is a shoo-in to win another term in office.
- to be upset, to be worried
Our secretary was shook up after the accident and has not been back to work since.
shoot fish in a barrel
- something that is like shooting fish in a barrel is something that is very very easy
The contest was like shooting fish in a barrel. It was very easy to win a prize.
shoot for (something)
- to attempt to do something, to aim toward a goal
I was shooting for the local spelling championship before I could advance to a higher level.
shoot from the hip
- to speak directly and frankly, to fire a gun that is at one's side
The man often shoots from the hip and gets into trouble over what he says.
shoot one's mouth off
- to boast or talk too much
The boy was shooting his mouth off about his sports ability.
shoot one`s wad
- to spend all of one`s money, to say everything that is on one`s mind
My friend shot his wad at a casino during his vacation.
shoot oneself in the foot
- to make a mistake or a stupid decision that makes a situation worse
The man shot himself in the foot when he refused to work extra to help his boss with the new project.
shoot out (something)
- to stick or throw something outward
The man shot out his foot from under the table and made his friend fall down.
- to act fairly, to deal honestly with others
The salesman always shoots straight when he is dealing with his customers.
shoot the breeze/bull
- to talk idly
I met my friend at the supermarket and we decided to shoot the breeze for a few minutes.
shoot the works
- to spare no expense or effort to do something
They are planning to shoot the works with the victory celebration for the Olympic athletes.
- to grow quickly
The boy seemed to shoot up quickly during the summer.
- to rise suddenly
The flames shot up over the top of the building.
shoot up (drugs)
- to take drugs by injecting them
We saw someone shooting up heroin in the alley.
shoot up (someone or something)
- to shoot at someone or something recklessly
In many western movies the outlaws come into town and shoot up everything.
shop around for (something)
- to go to various stores to look for something
We shopped around for a month before we bought a new stereo system.
shore (something) up or shore up (something)
- to add support to something which is weak
It was necessary to shore up the house after the mud slide.
short and sweet
- brief and pleasant
My visit with my parents was short and sweet.
the short end (of the stick)
- unfair or unequal treatment
The man always gets the short end of the stick when he is at work.
short for (something)
- something that is a shortened form of a word or phrase
The woman's nickname is short for her full name.
short of (something)
- to not have enough of something
We are short of sugar so I will buy some when I am at the store.
short on (something)
- to be lacking in something
The man is short on patience and is often angry.
- rude treatment
The woman received short shrift from her supervisor when she asked for a holiday.
a shot in the arm
- something inspiring or encouraging, a boost of energy
My job search got a shot in the arm when the company president called me for an interview.
a shot in the dark
- an attempt at something without much hope or chance of succeeding
The attempt to find the small boy was a shot in the dark.
shot through with (something)
- containing something
The drink was shot through with some chemicals which I did not know.
- a forced wedding
The young couple were forced into a shotgun wedding by the girl's father.
shoulder the blame
- to accept that you are responsible for a problem or for something that is bad
The company manager must shoulder the blame for the problems in his department.
The coach will shoulder the blame for the team's poor performance this season.
shoulder to shoulder
- side by side, with a shared purpose
The firefighters worked shoulder to shoulder to help prevent the house from burning.
- to start, to leave
"I think that it is time for us to shove off. It is almost midnight."
shove one's way (somewhere)
- to make a path through a crowd by pushing
We shoved our way into the department store for the big sale.
shove (something) down (someone`s) throat
- to force someone to do or agree to something that they do not like or do not want to do
I do not like my supervisor because he is always trying to shove his ideas down my throat.
- to present something interesting to a class (in elementary school)
The little boy took a starfish from the ocean to his school for show-and-tell.
show good faith
- to demonstrate good intentions or good will
The man did not show good faith when he asked for extra money after he left his company.
a show of hands
- a display of raised hands in a group to vote on something
The teacher asked for a show of hands to see who wanted to do a presentation.
- to try to attract attention, to display something
My friend likes to show off his new clothes.
- a person who brags a lot
The girl is a show-off and is always trying to impress other people.
show one`s cards/hand
- to disclose one`s plans
The buyer will not show us his cards so we do not know what he wants.
show one`s (true) colors
- to show what one is really like or is thinking
My friend is showing his true colors when he refuses to help me when I need help.
show one's teeth
- to show one's anger or strength in order to warn someone not to argue or fight with you
Our supervisor showed his teeth when I began to argue with him about my job.
show signs of (something)
- to show hints or indications of something
The man showed no signs of life after the accident.
show (someone) the door
- to ask someone to go away
When the man started yelling in the restaurant the manager quickly showed him the door.
show (someone) the ropes
- to tell or show someone how to do something
The experienced carpenter made a great effort to show the new trainee the ropes.
show (someone) to his or her seat
- to direct someone to a place to sit
The usher showed the man to his seat.
show (someone) up or show up (someone)
- to do better than another person while others can see you
The girl always shows her friend up by doing all of her schoolwork quickly.
show (something) to good advantage
- to make something look good, to make something stand out
The new paint helped to show the house to good advantage.
- to appear, to arrive, to be present
"What time did your friend show up for the party?"
- to become easy to see
After we cleaned the vase the design began to show up.
shrug (something) off or shrug off (something)
- to not be bothered or hurt by something, to disregard something
The girl says mean things but we always shrug off her comments.
- to be apart, to be separated from someone or something
The small town is shut off from the other small towns in the valley.
shut out (a team)
- to prevent the opposition team from scoring during a game
Our national soccer team shut out the other team last night.
shut (something) off or shut off (something)
- to make something like water or electricity stop
We always shut off the gas when we leave the house.
shut (something) up or shut up (something)
- to close the doors and windows of a building for a period of time
We decided to shut up our cottage for the winter.
shut the door on (someone)
- to close the door to keep someone out
The teacher always shuts the door on students who come late for her class.
shut the door on (something)
- to terminate/exclude/obstruct something
The bad behavior of the employees shut the door on any future parties at the company.
- to stop talking
"Please shut up and let someone else speak."
shut up (someone or something) or shut (someone or something) up
- to confine someone or something
We always shut up our dog in the house when the postal worker comes.
Shut your mouth!
- Please be quiet and close your mouth!
"Shut your mouth," the woman said to the man talking loudly in the library.
shuttle from place to place
- to move from place to place
The athletes shuttled from place to place during the sports event.
The volunteer drivers shuttled the athletes from place to place during the sports event.
shy away from (someone or something)
- to avoid someone or something
Recently, my doctor has shied away from giving me advice about my eating habits.
sick and tired of (someone or something)
- to dislike someone or something, to be annoyed with someone or something
I am sick and tired of my friend's complaining.
sick in bed
- to remain in bed while you are sick
My father was sick in bed for three days last week.
sick of (someone or something)
- to be bored with someone or something, to dislike someone or something
I think that the clerk is sick of working late every day.
side against (someone)
- to choose sides against someone
My friend always sides against me when I am involved in an argument with someone.
side with (someone)
- to favor or support someone's position in a dispute
The mother always sides with her daughter when the daughter has an argument.
a sight for sore eyes
- a welcome sight
The man was a sight for sore eyes when he returned to work after a long holiday.
- before seeing a thing or a person
My friend bought the car sight unseen and now he is having trouble with it.
sign on the dotted line
- to place one's signature on a contract or other important paper
The sales manager gave me the contract and asked me to sign on the dotted line.
sign on with (someone)
- to sign an agreement to work with or for someone
My cousin has signed on with one of the largest companies in the world.
sign one's own death warrant
- to do something knowingly that will probably result in severe trouble
Our secretary signed her own death warrant when she came to work late three times last week.
sign (something) over
- to give something legally to someone by signing one`s name
The man signed over his car to his son on his 21st birthday.
sign up for (something)
- to promise to do something by signing one`s name, to join something
My friend recently decided to sign up for tennis lessons.
signal to (someone) to do (something)
- to give someone an instruction by using a signal
I signaled to our coach to take me out of the game.
signed, sealed and delivered
- formally and officially signed
The contract to buy the house was signed, sealed and delivered when I delivered it to the real estate agent.
the silence is deafening
- the silence is so great that one becomes uncomfortable, the silence is so great that it suggests the disapproval of something
The silence was deafening at the meeting when nobody stood up to challenge the speaker for his extreme remarks.
silence is golden
- sometimes it is better to say nothing
The man believes that silence is golden and he is very careful what he says.
- the time of the year (late summer) when there is no important news and news reporters focus on unimportant things
It was the end of summer and it was now the silly season for the news media.
- to become calm or quiet
He was very angry after the meeting but now he has begun to simmer down.
since time immemorial
- since a very long time ago
Since time immemorial, people have been coming to the hot springs to bathe in the water.
sing (someone's) praises
- to praise someone highly and enthusiastically
My supervisor always sings my praises when he introduces me to someone.
sing a different tune
- to contradict one's previous ideas, to change one's attitude
Usually, the man does not care if he disturbs his neighbors at midnight but now that he must get up early in the morning he is singing a different tune.
- to penetrate, to become understood
It will take time for the comments of our boss to sink in.
sink into despair
- to grieve or to become depressed
The woman sank into despair when she learned that she had lost her job.
sink one`s teeth into (something)
- to begin to work seriously on a project or problem
The problem is difficult and is very hard to sink your teeth into.
sink or swim
- to fail or succeed by one's own efforts
My cousin will have to sink or swim when he begins his new job.
sit around (somewhere)
- to sit somewhere and relax and do nothing
I spent the morning sitting around my apartment.
sit at (someone's) feet
- to admire someone greatly, to be taught by someone
I would love to sit at the feet of the famous painter.
- to be located a distance away from a street
The large mansion sits back three hundred meters from the street.
- to relax or rest, to take a break
We decided to sit back for the day and not do anything.
sit back and let (something) happen
- to relax and not interfere in something
I did not want to sit back and let things happen so I began to make some phone calls about my situation.
sit bolt upright
- to sit up straight
I sat bolt upright when I heard the news about my cousin.
sit idly by
- to sit and watch something while others work, to ignore a situation that calls for help
The man sat idly by while the others worked hard.
- a political demonstration where students or workers refuse to leave their classroom or job site
The students had a sit-in to demand lower tuition fees.
sit in for (someone)
- to take someone else's place in some activity
I asked my friend to sit in for me at my volunteer job at the community center.
sit in on (something)
- to attend or participate in a meeting or similar gathering
Our boss sat in on our meeting so that he could learn what was happening.
sit on (something)
- to be a member of a jury or board
The former politician sits on the board of many corporations.
sit on its hands
- an audience refuses to applaud
The audience sat on its hands after the terrible performance by the singer.
sit on one's hands
- to do nothing, to fail to help
The manager sat on her hands and refused to do anything about the complaints that she had received.
sit on (something)
- to hold someone or something back, to delay something
I am going to sit on my job application until I am sure that I want to apply for the new job.
sit on the fence
- to not support any side in a dispute, to not decide something, to not support something
Most of the politicians are sitting on the fence about the new subway proposal.
sit on the sidelines
- to be in a situation in which you are not actively involved in something
The young player was forced to sit on the sidelines during the game.
- to be in a favorable situation
My uncle is sitting pretty with his new job and high salary.
- to be unacceptable (usually used in the negative or as a question)
The idea seemed good at first but now it does not sit right with the other members of the staff.
sit (something) out or sit out (something)
- to not participate in something, to wait until something is over
I am planning to sit the meeting out as I am very tired today.
sit through (something)
- to stay until the end of something or to endure something
I had to sit through a very boring lecture yesterday.
The children were able to sit through the movie without becoming bored.
- to wait patiently for something
"Please sit tight for a few minutes while I go and get a police officer."
sit up and take notice
- to become alert and pay attention
The loud bang made everybody sit up and take notice.
sit up with (someone)
- to stay with someone (a sick person) during the night
My mother had to sit up all night because my younger sister was very sick.
sit well with (someone)
- to please someone
My decision to leave early for the weekend did not sit well with the other members of the staff.
a sitting duck
- a non-moving target that is easily hit by a hunter
The hunter shot the sitting duck easily.
a sitting duck
- an unsuspecting person who is easily fooled - as if he or she were waiting to be attacked
The woman was a sitting duck for the thief when she sat on the bench next to her purse.
sitting on top of the world
- to be in a very good position or to be in an advantageous position, to be feeling very good or happy
I was sitting on top of the world after I heard about the new job offer.
a sitting target
- someone who is in a position that can be easily attacked
The manager was a sitting target for criticism by the staff.
six feet under
- dead (buried six feet under the ground in a grave)
The criminal is a bad person and if he does not change, he will soon be six feet under.
six of one or half-a-dozen of the other
- to be the same, to have no difference between two things
It was six of one or half-a-dozen of the other if we should take the train or the airplane. They both arrived at the same time and cost the same.
at sixes and sevens
- to be in confusion or disagreement
Everybody has been at sixes and sevens since they opened the new school.
- a power to know or feel things other than by sight/hearing/smell/taste/touch
My friend seems to have a sixth sense and he knows many things that nobody else knows.
the size of it
- the way something is
"That`s about the size of it," I said as I told my friend about the accident.
size up (someone or something)
- to try to form an opinion of someone, to assess a situation
It took me some time to size up the candidate before deciding to offer him a job.
skate on thin ice
- to risk danger or disapproval about something
My friend is skating on thin ice and he may be fired from his job.
skeleton in one`s closet
- a secret that someone does not want to talk about
The politician has a skeleton in his closet that he does not want to talk about.
- a poor area of a city where many people have no money or job or good housing
The skid row area of our city is a place where few tourists want to go.
skin and bones
- very skinny
The cat which we found in the empty house was skin and bones.
- only on the surface, having no deep or honest meaning
Although beauty may be only skin-deep many people care about it very much.
by the skin of one`s teeth
We arrived on time for the train by the skin of our teeth.
no skin off one`s nose
- of no concern or trouble or interest to someone
It is no skin off my nose whether or not she comes to the party.
skin (someone) alive
- to scold someone angrily, to spank or beat someone
The woman told her son that if he was late for dinner she would skin him alive.
- to run away and not come to trial and therefore give up the money (bail) that you have paid the court to guarantee that you appear
The man skipped bail and went to another city before he was arrested again.
- to forget about something
"Skip it," I said when my friend forgot to bring me the phone number many times.
skip out on (someone or something)
- to sneak away from someone or some event
I decided to skip out on the meeting and go to a movie.
- to jump over a rope that is held by two people and which goes over your head and under your feet
The children spent the morning skipping rope.
skirt the issue
- to avoid the topic
My boss likes to skirt the issue if I try to discuss my salary.
sky is the limit
- there is no limit to the success that can be achieved or the money that can be spent or made
The sky is the limit for my friend and his new job.
- to reduce something gradually, to become less active, to become lazy
Recently, I have begun to slack off in my effort to find a new job.
- a sure thing, a dramatic forceful dunk shot in basketball
It is a slam dunk that I will pass my examination.
a slap in the face
- an insult
Not getting a promotion was a slap in the face for the sales manager.
slap (someone or something) down or slap down (someone or something)
- to rebuke or reject someone or something
My boss slapped my proposal down soon after the meeting started.
slap (something) together or slap together (something)
- to make something in a hurry and without care
We slapped together a picnic table for the company picnic.
- to reduce prices significantly
The store is slashing prices on the new computers.
(one's) slate is clean
- someone has a record that shows no bad behavior or other problems from the past
The man's slate is clean and he is doing very well with his life.
slated for (something)
- to be scheduled for something
The building is slated for demolition at the end of the year.
a slave to (someone or something)
- someone who is under the control of someone or something
My mother is a slave to her desire to watch soap operas on television.
not sleep a wink
- to not get any sleep (used in the negative)
I did not sleep a wink last night.
- to oversleep, to sleep late in the morning
I was very tired so I decided to sleep in this morning.
sleep like a baby
- to sleep very soundly
I slept like a baby last night.
sleep like a log
- to sleep very soundly
I slept like a log last night.
sleep on (something)
- to think about something, to consider something, to decide something later
"I will sleep on the proposal tonight and I will give you an answer tomorrow."
sleep (something) off or sleep off (something)
- to sleep while the effects of liquor or drugs go away
We spent the evening in a nightclub and I had to spend much of the next day sleeping it off.
sleep through (something)
- to sleep while something else is happening, to sleep the entire night without waking
I slept through the loud noise last night.
The young man often sleeps through his alarm clock when it rings.
The baby could sleep through the night almost since the time that she was born.
sleep with (someone)
- to share a bed with someone
The little girl always sleeps with her mother when they go on a holiday.
sleight of hand
- a skill in performing magic or card tricks or similar things - sometimes used to cheat at cards, the skill or attempt to hide the truth about something in order to deceive someone
The card player tried to use sleight of hand to win the card game.
The magician used sleight of hand to do some amazing tricks.
The local government is using sleight of hand with the numbers to try and trick the citizens about the financial situation.
The company is losing money but the managers are using sleight of hand to make the company look successful.
slice of the cake
- a share of something
The city tax office wants a slice of the cake in our new business.
- to go away or escape quietly or secretly
I slipped away after my class to get something to eat.
- to enter a place quietly or quickly
The class had already started but the boy was able to slip in quietly.
I need to slip in to the meeting and speak to my boss.
a slip of the tongue
- something that is said at the wrong time and is not what you want to say
The clerk's comment to the customer was a slip of the tongue.
- to go away or escape quietly or secretly
I slipped off after the lecture and went home.
slip one`s mind
- to be forgotten
"I am very sorry that I did not meet you last night but our appointment slipped my mind."
- to go away, to leave quietly or secretly
I slipped out for a few minutes to buy some milk.
Our teacher slipped out of the classroom for a few minutes today.
- to allow a piece of (secret) information to be revealed
It slipped out that the government is planning to close the large downtown hospital.
slip through (someone's) fingers
- to get away from someone
My friend had a very good opportunity but it slipped through his fingers because of his lack of action.
- to make a mistake
I slipped up when I said that I would not go to the meeting next week.
slow as molasses in January
- very slow
The little girl is as slow as molasses in January and she never gets her work done on time.
- to go more slowly than usual, to cause something to reduce speed
You should slow down when you are driving on a wet road.
- a type of work action where you do not come to a complete stop like you do during a work strike
The workers had a slow-down at the post office last year.
- the slow rate of speed and the difficulty to do something
It was slow going as I studied for my mathematics test.
slow on the draw
- to be slow in drawing a gun or in doing something
The man is slow on the draw and never takes advantage of opportunities.
slow on the uptake
- to be slow to figure something out
The new employee is slow on the uptake and we must explain everything to him at least two times.
- to become slow or slower
The traffic slowed up because the bridge was closed.
slower and slower
- to become slow and then become even slower
The speed of the train was becoming slower and slower as it reached the city.
slowly but surely
- slowly and deliberately
Slowly but surely, we are preparing for our holiday next month.
sly as a fox
- to be smart and clever
The storeowner is as sly as a fox and you can never make a good deal with him.
smack dab in the middle
- right in the middle
There was a small hole smack dab in the middle of the plastic swimming pool.
smack into (someone or something)
- to collide or hit someone or something
The car smacked into the car in front of it.
- someone or something of little importance, young children
The police are trying to catch the major criminals in the gang. They are not interested in the small fry.
small hours (of the night/morning)
- the hours immediately after midnight
My father likes to read the newspaper in the small hours of the night.
- the part of a document that you cannot easily notice because of the small size of the print but which often contains very important information
I always read the small print before I sign a sales contract.
- informal conversation
There was much small talk at the party before the guests could eat.
- small, on a small scale
The man is a small-time criminal and is often involved in some kind of trouble.
- a person who is annoying because they always have an answer or seem to know everything
The boy is a smarty pants and he acts like he knows everything.
- a very successful performance/song/play/movie
The movie was a smash hit.
smear campaign (against someone)
- a campaign (of rumors) aimed at damaging someone's reputation
There was a smear campaign against the mayor of the city.
smell a rat
- to become suspicious
I do not know what my colleague is doing but something seems strange. I think that I smell a rat.
smile and the world smiles with you, (cry and you cry alone)
- people like to be around people who are happy
Smile and the world smiles with you is true and people who are smiling and happy attract other happy people.
The young man had some very bad luck and is not happy at all. However, he needs to remember to smile and the world smiles with you and cry and you cry alone.
Otherwise, he will make his situation worse.
smile on (someone or something)
- to be favorable to someone or something
The weather is smiling on the farmers in our area.
smoke and mirrors
- deception and confusion
The accounting department used a system of smoke and mirrors to hide their illegal activities.
smoke (someone or something) out or smoke out (someone or something)
- to force someone or something out with smoke
We smoked the rats out of their nests with the smoke.
smoke (something) out or smoke out (something)
- to find out the facts about something
We finally were able to smoke out the reason why our boss left the company.
smooth (something) over or smooth over (something)
- to make something better or more pleasant
We tried to smooth over the problems between our supervisor and the sales staff.
- something is going well and is having no problems
After we left the city it was smooth sailing on the highway until we got to our destination.
- a very slow movement forward
The cars on the highway were moving at a snail`s pace.
snake in the grass
- an enemy who pretends to be a friend
"You should be careful of that woman. Although she seems very nice she is like a snake in the grass."
- an easy task
The exam was a snap and I am sure that I did very well.
snap at (someone)
- to speak sharply or angrily to someone
Our supervisor often snaps at the people who he works with.
- a decision that is taken quickly and often in response to an urgent situation
The woman made a snap decision to go home and visit her sick mother.
snap out of (something)
- to return to a normal state
The man finally snapped out of his depression and was able to return to work.
snap (something) up or snap up (something)
- to take/buy/accept something eagerly
The concert tickets were snapped up in three hours.
(not to be) sneezed at
- to be worth having, (not) to be considered unimportant (used in the negative)
The new computer system is not to be sneezed at.
"Do you think that the new offer is nothing to sneeze at?"
sniff out (someone or something) or sniff (someone or something) out
- to locate someone or something
The police dog worked hard to sniff out the bank robber.
a snow job
- insincere or exaggerated talk designed to gain the favor of someone
His presentation at the meeting was a snow job.
a snow job
- technical vocabulary that makes you seem like an expert in a field
The salesman tried to give us a snow job when he talked about the new machine.
snow (someone) under
- to give so much work or something that it cannot be dealt with
The extra homework snowed me under during the last week.
(not a) snowball`s chance in hell
- no chance at all (used in the negative or interrogative or conditional)
We do not have a snowball`s chance in hell of winning the game tomorrow.
"Do you really think that you have a snowball's chance in hell to win the championship?"
If I thought that I had a snowball's chance in hell to get the job I would apply for it.
- a person that you do not like
I do not like that so-and-so. His personality really bothers me.
- until now
So far, no one has entered the speech contest at the television station.
so far, so good
- until now things have gone well
"So far, so good," she replied when we asked her how her new job was going.
so help me
- I promise, I swear
"So help me, if you do not pay me back my money I will phone your company."
"So long, I will see you next week."
so mad that one could scream
- very mad
I was so mad that I could scream when the travel agent made a mistake with my airline ticket.
- a large quantity of something
There was so much rain in the spring that our garden did not grow well.
so much for (someone or something)
- that is the last that you will see of someone or something
So much for going on a holiday this summer. I do not have any money.
so much the better
- all to the better
"So much the better, if extra people help us then we can get the work done quickly."
so quiet you can hear a pin drop
- very quiet
It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop when the woman stood up to speak about her cancer operation.
- not good and not bad
I was feeling so-so and decided not to go to a movie tonight.
- early, before the regular time
I did not expect the dinner to end so soon. It was still very early.
so still you can hear a pin drop
- very quiet
The room was so still you could hear a pin drop.
so to speak
- as one might or could say, this is one way to say something
We had a good time at the restaurant, so to speak, although the service was not very good.
soak (something) up or soak up (something)
- to take something into oneself like a sponge absorbs water
My friend was able to soak up much knowledge when he went to the film seminar.
soaked to the skin
- one's clothing is wet right through to the skin
We were soaked to the skin when we got home from the picnic.
- a story that makes one feel pity or sorrow
My sister told me a sob story about how she had lost her job.
sock it to (someone)
- to do everything that one is capable of doing
The president socked it to the audience during his speech at the convention.
sock (something) away or sock away (something)
- to store something in a safe place, to save something
I have been socking money away for my holidays.
soft spot for (someone or something)
- a feeling of affection toward a person or thing
My mother has a soft spot for the elderly lady in her apartment building.
soften up (someone) or soften (someone) up
- to weaken one's opposition
The boxer tried hard to soften up his opponent.
soil one's diapers
- a baby fills his or her diapers
The baby soiled his diapers on the airplane trip.
- a product or ticket is completely sold from a store or event
All of the latest DVD's are sold out at the moment.
- to continue to do something even if it may be difficult
Everybody in our group is very tired but we must finish the project today so we will have to soldier on.
There is no electricity in our office but we will soldier on and continue working.
Our business is not doing well but we will soldier on and try and make it successful.
solid as a rock
- very solid or dependable
The small bank in our city is as solid as a rock and is a very stabe organization.
somebody up there loves/hates me
- an unseen power in heaven has been favorable/unfavorable to you
"Somebody up there loves me," the man said when he found the money on the side of the road.
something about (someone or something)
- something strange/special/curious about someone or something
There is something about the woman that is very strange.
- to be so good as to be beyond description, to be something entirely different
The movie was something else. It was the best movie that I have seen in many years.
something else again
- to be something that is very different
Working all day on Saturday is okay but working all day on Sunday is something else again.
something has got to give
- the current situation cannot continue
The student is not eating well and is not sleeping much. Soon, something has got to give.
The business owner is fighting with his partner. This is causing problems for the business. The situation is not good and something has got to give.
something of the sort
- something of the kind just mentioned
I do not know exactly what the man said but it was about his job or something of the sort.
something or other
- one thing or another
My friend said something or other about his car but I am not sure exactly what he said.
something to that effect
- something similar to what was just said
The apartment manager said that we could not bring a bicycle into the apartment lobby or something to that effect.
- something is happening
I do not know what the children are doing but I think that something's up.
somewhere in the neighborhood of (an amount of money or something)
- approximately a particular measurement or amount
There were somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty people at the meeting.
son of a bitch
- a horrible person, a difficult task
I wish that that son of a bitch would stop using my camera without asking me.
son of a gun
- something difficult and unpleasant
"This is a son of a gun. I cannot fix it at all."
son of a sea biscuit
- an expression that is used as a polite replacement for son of a bitch
"Son of a sea biscuit," the man said when he hit his hand with a hammer.
a song and dance
- an excuse
My friend gave me a song and dance about being busy but I did not believe him.
sooner or later
"Sooner or later you must give me my money so you should do it now."
- a person who gets angry when he or she loses
The man is a sore loser when he does not win a game of tennis.
sort of (something)
- to be almost something, to be similar to something, to be not quite something
"Did you finish cleaning the kitchen?"
"I sort of finished, but not really."
sort out (something) or sort (something) out
- to clear up some confusion, to straighten out something
Our accountant is working hard to sort out the money problems.
sound as if
- to seem as if something were so from what has been said
It sounds as if my friend is planning to look for a new job.
sound like a broken record
- to say the same thing over and over again
The boy's mother sounds like a broken record when she tells him to clean his room.
sound like (something)
- to seem like something
It sounds like the stores are going to close early on Saturday because of the holiday.
sound off about (something)
- to tell what one knows or thinks in a loud voice
My friend often sounds off about why he does not like his job.
sound (someone) out or sound out (someone)
- to try to find out how a person feels about something by asking him or her questions
The man is sounding out his wife to see if she wants to move to a new house.
soup (something) up or soup up (something)
- to change and add something to make something more powerful or faster (usually a car)
My friend souped up his car when he was a teenager.
sow one's wild oats
- to do wild and foolish things in one's youth
The man sowed his wild oats when he was a young man.
- to be confused or incoherent, to resemble someone who is using drugs, to be daydreaming
The boy was totally spaced out when the teacher asked him a question about his homework.
spare (someone) from (something)
- to exempt someone from having to listen to or express something
I wish that our teacher would spare us from her speeches about her difficult childhood.
speak for itself/themselves
- to not need explaining
The actions of the men speak for themselves and there is no point talking about it.
speak for (something)
- to make a request for something, to ask for something
I spoke for the comfortable chair as soon as I entered the room.
speak highly of (someone or something)
- to say good things about someone or something
Everybody speaks highly of the new principal of our school.
speak ill of (someone)
- to say something bad about someone
I wish that my friend would not speak ill of the other people in our class.
speak of the devil (and he appears)
- to appear just when someone is talking about you
"Speak of the devil and he appears," I said as our colleague who we were talking about walked in the door.
speak off the cuff
- to speak in public without preparation
My father plans to speak off the cuff at his retirement party tonight.
speak one`s mind
- to say openly what one thinks
I think that it is time for me to speak my mind and talk about my complaints about our company.
speak one`s piece
- to say openly what one thinks
The man spoke his piece and then sat down.
speak out about (something)
- to speak in favor of or in support of something, to talk freely and without fear about something
My boss spoke out about the lack of computers.
speak out of turn
- to say something at the wrong time, to say something that you should not say
The student spoke out of turn when the teacher was asking the class questions.
speak the same language (as someone)
- to have similar ideas or tastes or opinions as someone else
I think that I speak the same language as the new supervisor in our company.
- to speak in a loud or clear voice, to speak without fear or hesitation
I asked our teacher to speak up because I could not hear him.
speak up for (someone or something)
- to speak in favor of someone or something
The politician is always willing to speak up for the poorest people in the city.
speak with a forked tongue
- to tell lies
The man speaks with a forked tongue and nobody trusts him.
spell (something) out or spell out (something)
- to explain something in very simple words, to explain something very clearly
I spelled out the conditions for renting the house very clearly.
- to signify future trouble, to mean trouble
The problems that we are having with our furnace spell trouble for the coming cold season.
spick-and-span or spic-and-span
- very clean, very neat
The house was spick-and-span when we returned from our holiday.
spill the beans
- to tell a secret
My friend promised not to spill the beans about my plans to get married.
spin a yarn
- to tell a tale or story
I like my new neighbor because he always likes to spin a yarn.
spin one's wheels
- to be in motion but to make no progress
I was spinning my wheels all week but I did not get much done.
spin (something) off or spin off (something)
- to create something as a by-product of something else
The company plans to spin off some new products from their original invention.
spirit of the law
- something as it is meant to be and not as it is stated exactly, what the people who made the law wanted to achieve
The judge tried to follow the spirit of the law and not only as it was written.
spit up (something) or spit (something) up
- to throw something up, to vomit something
The dog spit up the button that he had swallowed.
spitting image of (someone)
- the exact resemblance to someone
My cousin is the spitting image of his father.
- to disagree or argue about something that is not important, to make unnecessary distinctions about something
The manager makes many good points but he has a tendency to split hairs and waste our time.
split one's sides (with laughter)
- to laugh so hard that one's sides almost split
I split my sides with laughter when the woman began to tell jokes.
split (some people) up or split up (some people)
- to separate two or more people from one another
The teacher had to split the two boys up because they were fighting.
split (something) fifty-fifty
- to divide something into two equal parts
I decided to split the prize fifty-fifty with my friend.
split the difference
- to settle a money disagreement by dividing the difference into two amounts
We had to pay extra money for the rental car so we decided to split the difference and each pay half.
a split ticket
- a voting ticket with candidates from more than one political party
My friend usually votes for a split ticket when he votes and never votes for only one political party.
- to end a relationship
The girl and her boyfriend decided to split up after being together for seven years.
splurge on (something)
- to spend a lot of money on something
The boy splurged on a beautiful present for his girlfriend.
- to be taken or reserved
All of the tickets to the concert are spoken for.
- to startle or surprise someone
The loud thunder and lightning spooked the horse.
- to make something very easy for someone
He is a very strict teacher and never likes to spoon-feed his students.
- a reasonably good chance
The man does not have a sporting chance of winning the competition.
spotlight (someone or something)
- to put special focus or attention on a person or a thing
The computer problem helped to spotlight our need to buy a new computer.
spout off about (someone or something)
- to talk too much about someone or something
The woman is always spouting off about her problems.
spread like wildfire
- to spread very rapidly, to quickly affect and become known by many people
The panic over the bad drinking water spread like wildfire through the city.
The bad news spread like wildfire throughout the company.
spread oneself too thin
- to try to do too many things at one time
My sister has been spreading herself too thin lately and is not accomplishing very much of anything.
no spring chicken
- a young person (used with a negative)
My aunt is no spring chicken. She is almost 96-years old.
spring for (something)
- to buy something, to pay for something
I will spring for a new camera before I go on my vacation.
spring (something) on (someone)
- to suddenly tell or ask someone something when he or she does not expect it, to suddenly surprise someone with something
I wish that my friend would not suddenly spring his crazy ideas on me.
Our teacher may spring a test on us today.
spring to mind
- to come quickly to your mind, to appear suddenly in your mind, to be remembered
Nothing sprang to mind when the teacher asked me for an example of today's topic.
I asked my friend what springs to mind when he thinks about the new topic.
- to suddenly come to exist
Many new restaurants are beginning to spring up in the downtown area.
spruce (someone or something) up or spruce up (someone or something)
- to improve the appearance of someone or something, to tidy up or renew someone or something
We spruced up the community center for the holidays.
(on the) spur of the moment
We decided to go to Hong Kong on the spur of the moment.
square accounts with (someone)
- to settle one's financial accounts with someone, to get even with someone
I went to the store to square accounts with the manager.
square away (something) or square (something) away
- to put something away, to put something in order, to take care of something
"Have you squared away your plans for your holidays yet?"
a square deal
- a fair and honest transaction
I always receive a square deal when I do business with the local shops in my area.
a square meal
- a nourishing or filling meal
We ate our first square meal in many days when we visited my grandparents.
- to get ready for an argument or fight
The two candidates squared off to debate the important issues of the election.
- the beginning
We had to go back to square one and start the project over.
a square peg in a round hole
- a person who does not fit into a job or position
My friend was like a square peg in a round hole when he tried to do the job of an accountant.
square things up with (someone)
- to pay someone what one owes him or her
I squared things up with my friend and gave him the money that I owed him.
square up to (someone or something)
- to face someone or something bravely
The young man was forced to square up to the mistake that he had made.
squawk about (something)
- to complain about something
People are always squawking about the bad service in the new restaurant.
squeak by (someone or something)
- to just barely exceed or pass someone or something
I was able to squeak by the deadline and submit my scholarship application on time.
squirrel (something) away or squirrel away (something)
- to hide or store something
We tried to squirrel away some money for our holiday.
stab (someone) in the back
- to betray someone
I dislike that man because he tried to stab me in the back.
stack the cards/deck for or against (someone or something)
- to arrange things unfairly for or against someone or something
The company is stacking the cards against some small sellers because of their strict standards.
stack up (something) or stack (something) up
- to make a stack of things
I stacked up the magazines to give to the flea market.
stake a claim to (something)
- to make a claim for something
Everybody in our class tried to stake a claim to the free cell phones.
stall off (someone or something) or stall (someone or something) off
- to put off or delay someone or something
I believe that I will be able to stall off the meeting for several hours.
stamp out (something) or stamp (something) out
- to destroy something completely, to make something disappear
The government is trying to stamp out smoking among teenagers.
one's stamping ground
- a place where a person spends much of his or her time
My cousin went back to his old stamping ground which he remembered as a teenager.
(cannot) stand (someone or something)
- to be unable to tolerate someone or something, to dislike someone or something (usually used in the negative)
My friend cannot stand the other people in her class.
stand a chance of (doing something)
- to have a possibility of doing something
Our team stands a chance of winning the championship this year.
- to be dismissed or to end (used for a meeting)
"This meeting now stands adjourned."
stand behind (someone or something)
- to endorse or support someone or something
The company will always stand behind their products.
- to be near, to be waiting to do something when you are needed
There is a doctor standing by in case there is a medical emergency.
stand by (someone)
- to follow or keep one`s promise to someone, to be loyal to or support someone
The woman always stands by her husband when he has a problem.
stand clear of (something)
- to keep away from something
"Please stand clear of the door while we are moving the piano."
- to admit that one has been wrong
I was forced to stand corrected when I made a mistake about the time of the train.
stand for (something)
- to signify or mean something
I do not know what the letters stand for so I cannot write the full name of the company.
stand for (something)
- to speak in favor of something, to show that one supports something
All of the candidates stand for a platform of law and order.
(not) stand for (something)
- to not allow something to happen, to not permit something, to not tolerate something
Our teacher will not stand for students coming to his class late.
stand in awe of (someone or something)
- to look upon someone or something with wonder, to feel respect for someone or something
Everybody stands in awe of the football coach.
stand in for (someone)
- to be a substitute for someone
The new actor stood in for the famous actor who was sick.
stand in (someone's) way
- to be a barrier to someone's desires or intentions
The woman did not want anyone to stand in her way of getting a promotion.
stand off from (someone or something)
- to stay at a distance from someone or something, to stay apart from someone or something
The girl always stands off from the other students in her class.
stand off (someone or something)
- to keep someone or something from winning
We were able to stand off the other team and win the tournament.
stand on ceremony
- to be formal
"You do not need to stand on ceremony. You can relax."
stand on one`s own two feet
- to be independent
My friend learned to stand on his own two feet when he was very young.
stand one`s ground
- to maintain and defend one`s position
Our supervisor stood his ground over his decision to fire the employee.
- to be more noticeable than those around you
The man likes to wear clothes that let him stand out from the crowd.
stand over (someone or something)
- to watch someone or something closely, to keep checking someone or something all the time
The father stood over his son to make sure that he was studying for his final exams.
- to not change, to be satisfied with things
We should stand pat and not do anything to cause problems with the negotiations.
stand (someone) in good stead with (someone or something)
- to be an advantage to someone
Working hard will stand you in good stead with your company.
stand still for (something)
- to tolerate or endure something, to not move for something
The little boy refused to stand still for his medical examination.
stand the test of time
- to be popular for a long period of time, to work well for a long period of time
The old movie can stand the test of time and continues to be very popular.
The computer system in the school is very old but it works very well. It has stood the test of time and we will continue to use it.
The new song is very good. Hopefully, it will stand the test of time and be popular in the future.
stand to reason
- to make sense, to be logical
It stands to reason that the new employee will work hard if his effort is rewarded.
- to be strong enough to use for a long time
The new carpet should stand up for a long time.
stand up (someone) or stand (someone) up
- to fail to keep an appointment or date with someone (usually used for a date with a boyfriend or girlfriend)
The boy stood up the girl last Saturday and now she will not talk to him.
stand up and be counted
- to be willing to say what one thinks in public
The union members wanted to stand up and be counted before management took away their benefits.
stand up for (someone or something)
- to defend against attack, to fight for someone or something
The citizens of the town were ready to stand up for their rights.
stand up to (someone)
- to be brave in confronting someone
The man stood up to his boss during the meeting.
a standing joke
- something that regularly and over time causes amusement when it is mentioned
It was a standing joke around our office that our boss was a very bad golfer.
stark raving mad
- to be completely crazy
The woman who lives next door is stark raving mad.
stars in one`s eyes
- to have an appearance or feeling of very great happiness
The woman had stars in her eyes when she saw the beautiful ring that her boyfriend gave her.
start from scratch
- to start from the beginning
I lost all of my notes so I had to start from scratch with the project.
start from square one
- to start from the very beginning
We will have to start from square one with our plans for the new project.
start in as (something)
- to begin a career as something
The man started in as a mailroom clerk but soon he had more important jobs in the company.
start off on the wrong foot with (someone or something)
- to make a bad start to a relationship with a person or organization
I started off on the wrong foot with my boss and now we do not have a good relationship.
The man started off on the wrong foot with his company and he has many problems now.
start off with a clean slate
- to begin something fresh
I started off with a clean slate when I began the new project in our company.
start out as (something)
- to start one's career as something
The president of our company started out as a mailroom clerk when he was young.
start over with a clean slate
- to ignore the past and start over again
The young man broke the law several times but he was able to start over with a clean slate when the judge decided that he would probably not do anything bad in the future.
start the ball rolling
- to begin to do something
My uncle started the ball rolling on his plans to build a new house.
start up (something) or start (something) up
- to begin operating something, to begin to play or do something
My uncle started up a small business when he was 20-years old.
stay away from (someone or something)
- to avoid someone or something, to stay at a distance from someone or something
My uncle is staying away from salty foods these days.
- to remain at home, to not go out
We plan to stay in this evening.
stay in touch with (someone)
- to talk or write to someone, to maintain contact with someone
I want to stay in touch with my friends from high school.
- to stay in one place, to not leave
We decided to stay put for our holidays rather than go away.
- to not go to bed, to remain awake
My friend likes to stay up late every night.
steal a base
- to sneak from one base to another in baseball
The player was easily able to steal a base during the baseball game.
steal a march on (someone)
- to get an advantage over someone without being noticed
I was able to steal a march on my colleague when he was away on vacation.
steal (someone's) heart
- to cause someone to fall in love with you
The woman stole the heart of the man who she was working with.
steal (someone`s) thunder
- to do or say something that another person had planned to do or say
My colleague stole my thunder when he announced that he was leaving the company before I will.
steal the show
- to do so well in a performance that you get most of the attention
The young musician stole the show at the music festival.
steal the spotlight
- to do so well in a performance that you get most of the attention
The singer always steals the spotlight when she sings.
- to be angry
I was steamed up over the fact that my friend lost the keys to my apartment.
- to be very angry
The woman was steaming mad when the customer service representative was rude to her on the telephone.
steer clear of (someone or something)
- to avoid someone or something
I have been steering clear of my friend since our fight.
- to originate from, to be caused by
The accident stems from the bad condition of the machine.
My grandfather is learning how to use a computer step-by-step.
step down from (a job/position)
- to leave an important job or position
My father recently stepped down from his job as president of his company.
- to become involved or concerned with something, to enter a place for a brief time
The teacher had to step in and stop the fight between the two children.
step into (someone's) shoes
- to take over a job or other role from someone
I will have to step into my supervisor's shoes while he is away on vacation.
step into the breach
- to move into a space or vacancy
The woman stepped into the breach and helped the other teachers while several people were sick.
step on it
- to go faster, to hurry
"Please step on it," the man yelled as the taxi took him to the airport.
step on (someone`s) toes
- to do something that interferes with or offends someone else
The man is careful that he does not step on anybody's toes at his company.
step on the gas
- to go faster, to hurry
I had to step on the gas in order to get to work on time.
- to leave home or work for a short time
I stepped out of the office to buy a newspaper.
step out of line
- to misbehave, to do something offensive or wrong
When the children step out of line their teacher becomes very angry.
step right up
- to move forward toward someone or something
The clerk told me to step right up when I was waiting to order some food.
step up (something)
- to make something go faster, to increase something
Recently, we stepped up our effort to hire some new computer programmers for our company.
step up (to something)
- to rise to a higher or more important position, to be promoted
My boss stepped up to the position of manager after the old manager was fired.
step up to the plate
- to accept a challenge, to prepare to do a task, to move near homeplate in baseball in order to prepare to hit the ball when it is thrown/pitched
My friend stepped up to the plate and helped us complete the project.
The batter stepped up to the plate and waited for the pitch.
stew in one`s own juice
- to suffer from something that one has caused to happen to himself or herself
The man is stewing in his own juice after he got into trouble for being late.
- to stay or wait nearby for something
We decided to stick around after the game and talk.
stick by/with (someone or something)
- to support someone or something
The woman always sticks by her friends when they are in trouble.
I stuck with my friend during his troubles.
- a person who is old-fashioned or does not want to join with others and do something
The girl is a stick-in-the-mud and will never join in any of the activities at a party.
stick it to (someone)
- to cheat someone, to take unfair advantage of someone
The car salesman tried to stick it to the customer.
stick one`s neck out (for someone or something)
- to do something for another person that could cause you yourself problems
My uncle decided to stick his neck out and help me find a job in his company.
The woman needs to take more risks and stick her neck out more often in order to advance in her career.
My friend will never stick his neck out to help other people.
stick out like a sore thumb
- to be obvious and visible
The woman sticks out like a sore thumb when she wears her red hat.
stick (someone) with (something)
- to leave someone with an unpleasant task
My friend always sticks me with paying the bill when we go to a restaurant.
stick (something) out or stick out (something)
- to endure or continue something
My friend does not like her new job but she plans to stick it out until she saves somes money.
stick (something) up or stick up (something)
- to attach something to a wall or post
I plan to stick the poster up on our kitchen wall.
stick to a story
- to remain faithful to the facts of a story
The two boys stuck to their story about how they found the money.
stick to one`s guns
- to defend an action or opinion despite an unfavorable reaction
Our boss is sticking to his guns on his decision to fire the store manager.
stick to one's ribs
- to last a long time and give one strength (used for food)
The food at the restaurant is wonderful and it sticks to our ribs.
stick to (something)
- to never change or abandon something, to keep something
The man tried to stick to his opinions during the discussion.
stick to the facts
- to remain faithful to the facts about something
"Please stick to the facts when you tell the story to the police."
- to remain together as a group
The children like to stick together when they go to the beach.
- to point up
The boy's hair was sticking up in the back.
stick up (someone or something) or stick (someone or something) up
- to rob someone or something with a gun or other weapon
A man with a gun tried to stick up the small store.
stick up for (someone or something)
- to defend or help or support someone
My boss always sticks up for the younger workers at our company.
stick with (something)
- to continue doing something, to not quit something
The boy has been able to stick with his trumpet lessons since he was a child.
- fingers that steal things that one sees and wants
The young boy has sticky fingers. You must watch him all the time.
stink to high heaven
- to smell very bad
The kitchen garbage was stinking to high heaven in the hot sun.
stir (someone or something) up or stir up (someone or something)
- to make someone angry or excited, to cause trouble
The man`s angry words stirred up the crowd and made everybody angry.
stir up a hornet`s nest
- to make many people angry or dislike something, to provoke your critics
The man stirred up a hornet`s nest when he began to complain about the bonus system at his company.
stock up on (something)
- to gather a supply of something
We are trying to stock up on food before the holiday.
- having no money
I was stone-broke after I came back from my holiday.
stone's throw away from (something)
- to be very close to something
The new store is a stone's throw away from the large supermarket.
stoop to (doing something)
- to do something that is beneath one
I do not plan to stoop to asking my friend for money.
- stopping and going repeatedly
The traffic is always stop-and-go during the morning rush hour.
stop at nothing (to do something)
- to do everything possible to accomplish something
My friend will stop at nothing to get what she wants.
stop by (somewhere)
- to visit or pass by somewhere
"Why don`t you stop by my house on your way home?"
- to stop very quickly or with great force
The man stopped dead when he saw the bear in the middle of the road.
stop in one`s tracks
- to stop very quickly or with great force
The horse was forced to stop in its tracks at the electric fence.
stop, look, and listen
- to be careful at street corners to stop and then look and listen for other cars
We taught the children to stop, look, and listen when they cross the street.
stop off (somewhere)
- to stop at a place for a short time while going somewhere
We decided to stop off at the fish store before we went home.
stop over (somewhere)
- to stay at a place overnight or for a short time while on a trip
The airplane had to stop over in Alaska because one of the passengers had a heart attack.
stop short of (doing something)
- to not go as far as to do something
We stopped short of asking the secretary to leave although she continued to make mistakes with her work.
a storm is brewing
- there is going to be trouble
A storm is brewing between the two government departments over the tax issue.
to storm out of (a place)
- to leave a place in an angry and dramatic manner
The child became angry and stormed out of the room.
The young woman had an argument with her friend and stormed out of the restaurant.
The man stormed out of the meeting.
the straight and narrow
- a good and honest and moral path through life, following the rules
The man kept to the straight and narrow and was respected by everybody around him.
The boy was always in trouble and could not keep to the straight and narrow.
straight from the horse`s mouth
- directly from the person involved
I heard about my friend`s wedding straight from the horse`s mouth.
straight from the shoulder
- a direct and honest way of speaking
My friend always speaks straight from the shoulder.
- directly and in a way that hides nothing, plainly
The man was told straight out that his work was not satisfactory.
straighten out (someone or something) or straighten (someone or something) out
- to cause someone's bad behavior to improve, to organize or fix something that is in confusion or disorder
I went to the bank to straighten out the problem with my credit card.
straighten (something) up or straighten up (something)
- to put something in order, to clean and make something neat
We had to straighten up the house before inviting my parents for dinner.
a stranger to (someone or something or somewhere)
- someone who is new and unknown to a person/place/thing
The man is a stranger to computers and does not know anything about them.
strapped for cash
- to have little or no money available for something
I am strapped for cash so I will not be able to go away this summer.
a straw in the wind
- a small sign of what may happen in the future
When the company began to reduce expenses it was a straw in the wind as to what would happen in the future.
straw that breaks the camel`s back
- a small problem which follows other problems and which makes you lose patience and be unable to continue as before
When the receptionist lost the key to the office for the third time it was the straw that broke the camel`s back and we decided to fire her.
stretch one's imagination
- to think about things that you have not thought about before, to think about things in a new way
The movie was very interesting and it stretched our imagination.
Our teacher always stretches our imagination.
stretch one's legs
- to walk around after sitting down or lying down for a period of time
We stopped to stretch our legs after driving for several hours.
stretch the point
- to interpret a point very flexibly, to exaggerate something
It is stretching the point to think that the new company policy will let us take a two-hour lunch break.
stretch the truth
- to exaggerate
I stretched the truth a little when I told my friend about my job experience.
strictly on the level
- honest, dependable, open and fair
The salespeople that I deal with are always strictly on the level.
strictly on the up-and-up
- honest, fair and straight
I only plan to do business with my friend if everything is strictly on the up-and-up.
strike a balance (between two or more things)
- to find a satisfactory compromise between two extremes
My father works hard to strike a balance between his family and his job.
strike a bargain
- to make an agreement about something
I was able to strike a bargain with my neighbor to buy his car.
strike a chord with (someone)
- to remind someone of something, to be familiar to someone, to evoke a reaction/response/emotion
The song on the radio struck a chord with me and reminded me of my university days.
The name does not strike a chord with me.
strike a happy medium
- to find a compromise position
The manager always tries to strike a happy medium between being professional and being friendly to the staff.
strike a match
- to light a match
I struck a match and tried to start the fire.
strike a pose
- to position oneself in a certain posture or pose
The model was asked to strike a pose for the photographer.
strike a sour note
- to signify something unpleasant
The statements of the speaker struck a sour note with many members of the audience.
strike it rich
- to suddenly become rich or successful
The man struck it rich when he got a job at the computer company and was able to buy some stock very cheap.
- in baseball a player is "out" after three strikes
The baseball player did not strike out at all during the game.
- to fail
We struck out in our attempt to build a new cafeteria in our building.
strike out at (someone or something)
- to hit at or attack someone or something
The boy struck out at his friend in the playground.
strike (someone) as funny
- to seem funny to someone
The comments of my teacher often strike me as funny.
strike (someone) as (something)
- to affect someone a certain way
It strikes me as a little silly that the man is planning to buy a new motorcycle.
strike (someone's) fancy
- to appeal to someone
It did not strike my fancy to go to a restaurant last evening.
strike the right note
- to do something suitable or pleasing
I believe that my presentation struck the right note at the meeting last night.
strike up a conversation with (someone)
- to start a conversation with someone
I decided not to strike up a conversation with the man at the bus station.
strike up a friendship with (someone)
- to become friends with someone
My neighbor finds it easy to strike up a friendship with new people.
strike while the iron is hot
- to take advantage of an opportunity
I wanted to strike while the iron was hot so I quickly applied for the job.
string along with (someone)
- to accompany someone
I decided to string along with my friends when they went to the movie.
string (someone) along or string along (someone)
- to deceive or fool someone
The man tried to string me along with a story about his sick mother.
string (something) out or string out (something)
- to extend something over a great distance or over a long period of time
The football games were strung out over a period of four weeks.
- special conditions or restrictions
My friend was able to borrow the money for the furniture with no strings attached.
There were several strings attached to the offer.
a stroke of luck
- a bit of luck
It was a stroke of luck that I was able to get a plane reservation to visit my family.
struggle to the death
- a bitter struggle either to success or failure
The lion and the tiger were engaged in a struggle to the death.
stuck in a rut
- to be in an established way of living that never changes (although you may want it to change)
My neighbor is stuck in a rut and would like to change jobs.
stuck in traffic
- to be caught in a traffic jam
We were stuck in traffic for about one hour this morning.
stuck on (someone)
- to be very much in love with someone, to be crazy about someone
My niece has been stuck on the boy next door for several years now.
stuck on (something)
- to be locked into an idea or cause or purpose
The man is stuck on the idea of going to a hot place for his vacation.
- to act as if other people are not as good as you are, to be conceited
We do not like the woman because she is stuck up and thinks that she is better than the rest of us.
stuck with (someone or something)
- to be burdened with someone or something
When my sister went to the doctor I was stuck with looking after her dog.
stuff and nonsense
The ideas of the professor are all stuff and nonsense.
stuff the ballot box
- to put false ballots into a ballot box during an election
The man was arrested because he was stuffing the ballot box during the election.
a stuffed shirt
- a person who is too rigid or too formal
The man is a stuffed shirt and I never feel comfortable when I talk with him.
stumble across/into (someone)
- to meet someone accidentally
I stumbled into my friend when I was shopping yesterday.
stumble across/upon (someone or something)
- to find someone or something by accident or in an unplanned manner
I stumbled across a very nice restaurant last weekend.
I stumbled across a good carpenter yesterday.
stumble into (somewhere)
- to enter a place by stumbling
I stumbled into my bedroom and went to bed.
- something that prevents or obstructs progress
The salary issue was a stumbling block in the negotiations between the company and the union.
subject to (something)
- depending on something, likely to have something
The purchase of the house was subject to several conditions.
subject to (something)
- open or exposed to some unfortunate or undesirable thing
The new school policy was subject to much criticism.
The airport passengers were subject to a second search by the security staff.
subscribe to (something)
- to regularly receive a magazine or something similar, to give support or consent to something
I subscribe to several magazines but I do not have time to read them.
I do not subscribe to our teacher's ideas about many topics.
such and such
- someone or something whose name has been forgotten
My friend is always trying to borrow such and such from me but I always say no.
- of a particular kind, for example
I need various tools such as a hammer and a saw in order to complete the job.
such as it is
- in the less-than-perfect condition in which one finds something
I received the old car such as it is but it is not worth very much.
suck (someone) in or suck in (someone)
- to deceive someone
The man always sucks me in with his long and strange stories.
- a list of people who can be easily persuaded to buy something
The salesman used a sucker list to try and sell his new product.
- a rich older man who gives money to a younger woman for her companionship
The woman went on a winter holiday with her sugar daddy.
- to make something that is unpleasant seem more pleasant, to coat something with sugar
The government tried to sugarcoat the new policy but nobody was happy with it.
suggestive of (something)
- to be reminiscent of something
The movie was suggestive of a time that disappeared many years ago.
- to do something one's own way to please oneself
I was able to do everything to suit myself while I stayed with my uncle.
suit (someone) to a T
- to be very appropriate for someone
My new job suits me to a T.
sum and substance
- a summary, the gist of something
The sum and substance of what the speaker said was very interesting.
sum (something) up or sum up (something)
- to put something into a few words, to summarize something
The speaker summed up his presentation and asked the audience for questions.
- eggs that are fried on one side only
We asked for our eggs to be fried sunny-side up at the restaurant.
supply and demand
- the availability of something compared to the need or demand for something
The supply and demand for used sporting equipment is always very tight.
supposed to do (something)
- to be expected or intend to do something
I was supposed to meet my friend but I forgot.
a sure thing
- something that is sure to happen, something about which there is no doubt
My promotion to manager is a sure thing according to the company president.
- of course, certainly
"Sure thing, I will be happy to help you move next Saturday."
survival of the fittest
- the idea that the most able or fit will survive
It is the survival of the fittest in the jungle.
susceptable to (something)
- to be easily persuaded, to be easily influenced, to likely to become sick
The young boy is very susceptable to the influence of the older boys around him.
The girl is susceptable to often getting a sore throat.
swallow one`s pride
- to bring one`s pride under control, to become humble
I had to swallow my pride and ask my father for some money.
swallow (something) hook, line, and sinker
- to believe something completely when someone is trying to deceive you
I swallowed the story hook, line, and sinker about how my friend lost his car keys.
swamped with (something)
- to be overwhelmed with something
"I am swamped with work and cannot meet you tonight."
- a final appearance
The manager was a big hit during his swan song at the company last week.
swear by (something)
- to have complete confidence in something, to be sure of something
My father swears by the walk that he takes every morning.
swear off (something)
- to decide to give up something that you are in the habit of using
My friend plans to swear off tobacco.
swear on a stack of Bibles
- to promise solemnly that what one is about to say is true
The man swore on a stack of Bibles that he did not take any money from the cash register.
swear on (something)
- to use something as the reason or authority that what you are saying is the truth
The accused criminal was asked to swear on a religious text at the trial to make sure that he was telling the truth.
swear (someone) in or swear in (someone)
- to have a person promise to do his or her duty as a member of an organization or in a formal position
The new mayor of the city was sworn in at a large ceremony last evening.
- to be nervous, to be very worried
I was sweating bullets during the job interview.
sweat (something) out or sweat out (something)
- to wait anxiously for something, to worry about something
I spent the day sweating out whether or not I would get the job.
sweep out of (somewhere)
- to leave somewhere in a dramatic way
The actress swept out of the room when her performance finished.
sweep (someone) off his or her feet
- to overwhelm someone (with love etc.), to knock someone down
The woman was swept off her feet when she met the young man at the party.
The large wave swept the man off his feet at the seashore.
sweep (something) under the rug/carpet
- to hide dirt by brushing it under a rug or carpet, to try to hide a problem or keep a problem secret instead of dealing with it
The company has several problems which they are trying to sweep under the carpet.
The woman never deals with her problems. She always sweeps them under the carpet.
sweep through (somewhere)
- to move through a place quickly and with much energy
The actress always sweeps through the room when she arrives for a meeting.
sweet and sour
- a combination of sweet and sour tastes (found in many Chinese dishes)
The dish had a sweet and sour taste that was very delicious.
- affectionate but unimportant words that you say to someone you love
The boy in the movie whispered sweet nothings to his girlfriend.
sweet on (someone)
- to be in love with someone, to be very fond of someone
The boy was sweet on the girl next door when he was a child.
sweeten the deal
- to offer something during a negotiation that is attractive to the other side
We sweetened the deal during the negotiations in order to win the new contract.
- to praise or flatter someone to get what you want
The little girl tried to sweet-talk her mother into buying her a present.
- darling, sweetheart
The young man always calls his girlfriend sweetie pie.
- a feeling that one is more important than one really is
The man has a swelled head since he got the new position in his company.
swift and sure
- fast and certain
I made a complaint to the bank manager and I knew that the answer would come back swift and sure.
swim against the current
- to do the opposite of what most people are doing
My friend likes to swim against the current and not do what others are doing.
swim against the tide
- to do the opposite of what most people are doing
Our company often swims against the tide in the way that they market products.
swing into action
- to quickly begin doing something
We must swing into action and finish the project.
The members of the football team swung into action and cleaned the room after the party.
- to make something happen
I do not know if I can swing buying an expensive present for my girlfriend.
- to suddenly change what you are doing
The sports announcer suddenly switched gears and began to talk about something else.
The company will have to switch gears soon as it is not doing well now.
- to be in tune with the latest fads or ideas or fashions
My aunt is switched on and knows everything about many recent movies.