T Idioms and Quizzes

T Idiom Quiz #1

letter t

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

1. I wanted to (wear) the denim jeans before I bought them.
a)   throw the book at
b)   try on
c)   think up
d)   talk over

2. The man likes to (relax) and watch sports on television.
a)   take it easy
b)   take a powder
c)   take something lying down
d)   think twice about something

3. I heard it (from my coworkers) that the company was going to change our working conditions.
a)   through the grapevine
b)   through and through
c)   through thick and thin
d)   through the mill

4. After dating for about a year the couple decided to (get married).
a)   talk through their hats
b)   take themselves to the cleaners
c)   turn the tables
d)   take the plunge

5. We have to (discuss) the problem before it becomes worse.
a)   take after
b)   take part in
c)   think up
d)   talk over

Your score is: ___  out of 5

T Idiom Quiz #2

letter t

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

6. Our company (took control of) the other company after they closed their business.
a)   took over
b)   turned to
c)   tracked down
d)   tipped off

7. We (assumed) that the restaurant would be very crowded so we went early.
a)   turned over a new leaf
b)   fought tooth and nail
c)   took it for granted
d)   tied the knot

8. The weather was beautiful so we (made good use of) it and went swimming in the river.
a)   tied the knot with
b)   tipped someone off with
c)   threw in the towel with
d)   took advantage of

9. There is only one television so we have to (alternate) in deciding which program to watch.
a)   turn the tables
b)   tighten our belt
c)   take turns
d)   tide them over

10. My uncle (lost a lot of money) on the stock market last year.
a)   turned the tables
b)   turned on someone
c)   traded something in
d)   took a beating

Your score is: ___  out of 5

T Idiom Quiz #3

letter t

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

11. The child took the book and (ripped it to pieces).
a)   threw cold water on it
b)   tore it up
c)   took a powder
d)   took someone for a ride

12. My friend is (busy) with his family responsibilities.
a)   taking a trip
b)   tied down
c)   twiddling his thumbs
d)   two-faced

13. The man (attempted) climbing the mountain but stopped because of the weather.
a)   twiddled his thumbs
b)   took a crack at
c)   tripped the light fantastic
d)   tried on

14. I can never (distinguish between) the two buildings.
a)   track down
b)   turn out
c)   take turns with
d)   tell apart

15. Our company must (spend less money) because of the bad economic conditions.
a)   be tickled pink
b)   throw in the towel
c)   tighten its belt
d)   turn the tables

Your score is: ___  out of 5

T Idioms

letter t

table a discussion

- to postpone a discussion until a later time

We tabled the discussion about the salary issue until the next meeting.

table a motion

- to postpone the discussion of something during a meeting

We tabled a motion to discuss the safety issue at another time.

tackle a problem

- to attack a problem with much effort (from American football where one player tackles another player)

All of the members of the sales team gathered to tackle the problem of decreasing sales.

tag along with (someone)

- to go somewhere with someone, to follow along with someone

The little boy tagged along with his older brother when they went to the beach.

tail between one`s legs

- feeling ashamed or beaten

The salesman resigned from his company with his tail between his legs after he told a lie about his expense account.

tail wagging the dog

- a situation where a small part of something controls the larger part

The tail is wagging the dog and the receptionist controls everything in the office.

Take Idioms

take a backseat to (someone or something)

- to accept a poorer or lower position than someone, to be second to someone or something

I had to take a backseat to my boss when we went on the business trip.

take a bath

- to bathe

The boy always takes a bath in the evening.

take a bath (on something)

- to lose much money on something, to be ruined financially

My aunt took a bath on the stock market last year and she is afraid to buy stocks now.

take a beating

- to lose money

My father took a beating when he sold his car.

take a big bite out of one's paycheck

- to decrease one's paycheck because of some kind of deduction

The new tax has begun to take a big bite out of my paycheck.

take a bow

- to bow and receive credit for a good performance

The violinist stopped to take a bow before she went backstage with the orchestra.

take a break

- to have a short rest period in one's work

I stopped to take a break after working all morning.

take a chance

- to try something where failure is possible

I will take a chance and visit my friend without phoning first.

take a course in (something)

- to enroll in a class to study or learn something

I am planning to take a course in photography next year.

take a crack at (something)

- to try or attempt to do something

"Have you decided to take a crack at writing the entrance examination?"

take a deep dive into (something)

- to make a detailed examination of a topic

The evening news usually takes a deep dive into one topic every evening.

The news magazine takes a deep dive into one or two topics every month.

Our university professor will take a deep dive into several subjects this term.

take a dig at (someone)

- to criticize someone, to say something that will irritate someone

The man is always taking a dig at his wife.

take a dim view of (something)

- to be against something, to disapprove of something

Our company takes a dim view of people who do not wear a suit and tie.

take a fancy to (someone or something)

- to develop a fondness or a preference for someone or something

The woman took a fancy to her new coworker.

take a gander at (someone or something)

- to examine someone or something, to take a look at someone or something

I asked the car mechanic to take a gander at the steering system on my car.

take a hand in (something)

- to help plan or do something

The man is always ready to take a hand in any work that needs to be done.

take a hard line (with someone)

- to be firm with someone, to have a firm policy for dealing with someone

The company takes a hard line with people who come to work late.

take a hint

- to understand what is hinted at and behave accordingly

The man is unable to take a hint and does not notice when people want him to leave.

take a leaf out of (someone's) book

- to behave or do something in the way that someone else would

We plan to take a leaf out of our competitor's book and advertise our product on the Internet.

take a letter

- to write down the words that someone says and later type them into a letter

The secretary often has to take a letter for her boss.

take a leak

- to urinate

The man stopped at the side of the road to take a leak.

take a liking to (someone or something)

- to develop a fondness or a preference for someone or something

I took a liking to my new neighbor immediately.

take a load off one's feet

- to sit down and relax

I sat down in order to take a load off my feet.

take a look at (someone or something)

- to examine (usually briefly) someone or something

I will take a look at the problem with the computer tomorrow.

take a look for (someone or something)

- to look for someone or something

Tomorrow, I will take a look for the pen which I lost.

take a nap

- to have a brief period of sleep

I want to take a nap before I visit my parents.

take a new turn

- to begin a new course or direction

The campaign to clean up the river took a new turn when the electric company joined the campaign.

take a pay cut

- to accept a decrease in one's salary

The workers in the factory were asked to take a pay cut.

I will need to take a pay cut if I change jobs.

Nobody likes to take a pay cut.

take a potshot at (someone or something)

- to criticize someone or something

The mayor of the city decided to take a potshot at his opponent in the election.

take a pounding

- to be completely defeated or damaged or criticized

The new movie took a pounding from the movie critics.

Our team needs to play better or we will take a pounding in the next game.

The value of the company took a pounding because of the bad product.

take a powder

- to leave quickly, to run away

I took a powder immediately after the meeting.

take a punch at (someone)

- to strike someone with one's fist

The man in the restaurant suddenly took a punch at the waiter.

take a rain check

- to get a promise to repeat an invitation at a later date

I was invited to dinner by my friend but I took a raincheck because I was too tired.

take a risk

- to try something where failure is possible

We will take a risk and go to the popular restaurant without a reservation.

take a shine to (someone)

- to have or show a quick liking for someone

Our daughter took a shine to her new teacher immediately.

take a shot at (something or doing something)

- to try to do something

I plan to take a shot at golfing when I am on vacation.

take a sick day

- to be absent from work and still receive pay

I did not feel well yesterday so I decided to take a sick day.

take a shower

- to shower

I usually take a shower when I get home from work.

take a spill

- to fall, to tip over

The little boy took a spill when he was learning how to ride his bicycle.

take a stab at (something or doing something)

- to try to do something

I took a stab at the math problem but I could not solve it.

take a stand on (something)

- to declare firmly that one is for or against something

The politician was forced to take a stand on the tax issue.

take a toll on (someone or something)

- to damage or hurt someone or something by using it too much or by hard living

The stress and long hours at work are beginning to take a toll on my friend.

take a trip

- to go for a journey

We plan to take a trip to Italy in November.

take a turn for the better

- to begin to improve or get well

The medical condition of my uncle has recently taken a turn for the better.

take a turn for the worse

- to start to get worse

The condition of the patient suddenly took a turn for the worse.

take a vacation

- to go somewhere for a vacation

I have much stress at work so I want to take a vacation next month.

take a walk/stroll/hike

- to go for a walk or stroll or hike

The man likes to take a walk every morning.

take a whack at (someone)

- to hit someone

The man on the bus suddenly took a whack at the man sitting beside him.

take a whack at (something)

- to try something

I took a whack at fixing the car but I was unsuccessful.

take action on (something)

- to deal with something

The city is finally going to take action on the homeless problem.

take advantage of (someone or something)

- to use someone or something for one`s own benefit

We took advantage of the beautiful weather and went to the beach.

take after (someone)

- to resemble or act like someone (usually a parent or relative)

The boy is tall and handsome like his father and takes after him in many other ways as well.

take aim at (someone or something)

- to aim a gun/camera/policy at someone or something, to focus one's attention at someone or something

The police plan to take aim at people who do not stop at stop signs.

take an interest in (something)

- to develop an interest in something

Recently, my cousin has taken an interest in fishing.

take an oath

- to make an oath, to swear to something

I had to take an oath before I could answer questions at the public hearing.

take apart (something) or take (something) apart

- to separate the parts of something, to disassemble something

I took apart the watch easily but it never worked again.

take attendance

- to make a record of persons attending something

Our teacher always takes attendance when we arrive in the morning.

take back (something) or take (something) back

- to admit to making a wrong statement

The man was asked to take back what he had said about his boss.

take back (something) or take (something) back

- to return a bought or borrowed item to the place where you got it

I need to take back some books to the library.

take care of (someone or something)

- to look after or give attention to someone or something

You should take care of your health or you will become sick.

take care of (something)

- to deal with something, to do what is necessary to accomplish something

"Could you please take care of these letters while I make some phone calls."

take charge of (someone or something)

- to take control of someone or something

The new supervisor quickly took charge of the staff in the fast food restaurant.

take down (something) or take (something) down

- to write or record something that is said at a meeting/lecture/discussion

I took down many notes during the lecture last week.

take down (something) or take (something) down

- to take something apart, to pull something to pieces

We took down our tent when it began to rain.

take down (something) or take (something) down

- to remove something from an elevated place

I took down the picture in order to change the frame.

take effect

- to become legally operative, to begin

The new traffic laws took effect early last month.

take exception to (something)

- to speak against something, to find fault with something, to be angered by something

The man took exception to the fact that everyone was able to play golf well except him.

take first place

- to win something, to be the most important

The boy took first place in the contest.

take five

- to take a five-minute rest period

We decided to take five before continuing with our work.

take great pains to do (something)

- to make a great effort to do something

The painters took great pains not to spill any paint on the carpet.

take heart

- to be encouraged, to feel brave and want to try something

I took heart from my previous failure and decided to try again.

take heed

- to be cautious

It is best to take heed when you are crossing the street.

take hold of (someone or something)

- to get in control of someone or something

Something seemed to take hold of the man and he began to act very strange.

take hold of (something)

- to grasp something, to grip something with the hands

I took hold of the strap when I entered the train.

take ill

- to become sick

The woman took ill during her holiday and spent most of the time in her hotel.

take in money or take money in

- to receive or get money

We were able to take in a lot of money at the charity auction.

take in (someone) or take (someone) in

- to let someone come in, to admit someone

The farmer took the couple in for the night after their car stopped working.

take in (someone) or take (someone) in

- to decieve someone, to fool someone

The bad lawyer took in many people and took much of their money.

take in (someone) or take (someone) in

- to take someone to a police station for processing

The police took the man in for questioning.

take in (something) or take (something) in

- to go and see or visit something

We decided to take in a movie last night.

take in (something) or take (something) in

- to make something smaller

The tailor took in the waist of my suit pants and now they fit much better.

take in (something) or take (something) in

- to grasp something with the mind

The course was very difficult but I tried to take in as much as possible.

take inventory

- to make an inventory list, to count the goods in a store or warehouse

We stayed late at our store to take inventory.

take issue with (someone about something)

- to argue strongly with someone about something, to dispute strongly with someone about something

I decided to take issue with my supervisor when he began to change my schedule.

I took issue with something that my friend said and we had a big fight.

take it

- to endure trouble or criticism or abuse

My friend is quite sensitive and cannot take it when I make a joke about him.

take it

- to get an idea or impression, to understand something from what is said or done

"I take it that you are not going to come to the graduation ceremony next week."

take it away

- to start up a performance

"Let's take it away and get the music started."

take it easy

- to relax

I have been working hard recently. Now I will take it easy for a few days.

take it easy on (someone or something)

- to be gentle, to use less of something rather than more

I tried to take it easy on the sugar when I was making the fruit punch.

take it on the chin

- to be badly beaten or hurt, to accept trouble calmly

Our team took it on the chin at the baseball tournament last week.

take it or leave it

- to accept something or forget it

The customer was told to take it or leave it when he began to complain about the product.

take it out on (someone or something)

- to be unpleasant or unkind to someone because one is angry or upset

The man has much stress at work but he is careful not to take it out on his friends or family.

take it slow

- to move or go slowly

I always take it slow when I am driving at night.

take it upon oneself (to do something)

- to undertake to do something, to make something one's responsibility

I decided to take it upon myself to fix the broken window in our apartment.

take its toll

- to cause loss or damage

My father's new job and the long hours have begun to take its toll on his health.

take kindly to (someone or something)

- to be pleased by someone or something, to be agreeable to someone or something

The man does not take kindly to people telling him how to run his business.

take leave of one's senses

- to become irrational

I think that my neighbor has taken leave of his senses. He has been acting very strange lately.

take liberties with (someone or something)

- to use or abuse someone or something

The girl is taking liberties with her friend by always borrowing her car.

take lunch

- to go on one's lunch break

I plan to take lunch early today.

take no prisoners

- to be extremely determined to get what you want without caring about others

The salesman takes no prisoners when he is trying to make an important sale.

The company is very aggressive and they take no prisoners when they enter a new market.

take no stock in (something)

- to pay no attention to something

I usually take no stock in what my neighbor says.

take note of (something)

- to observe and remember something

The police are taking note of people who do any illegal business.

take notice of (something)

- to observe something

The city workers take notice of the businesses which do not follow the local garbage regulations.

take off

- to depart suddenly or quickly, to run away

We decided to take off when the concert ended.

take off

- to leave (used for an airplane)

The flight took off right on time.

take off after (someone or something)

- to begin to chase someone or something

The fox took off after the rabbit which jumped out of the hole.

take off clothes or shoes etc.

- to remove clothes or shoes etc.

"Please take off your shoes before you enter our house."

take off one's hat to (someone)

- to offer praise for someone's good accomplishments

You have to take off your hat to the person who organized the sporting event.

take off some time or take some time off

- to be absent from work

I was sick and I had to take off a week from work.

take off weight or take weight off

- to decrease one's weight

My friend is trying to take off weight with her new diet.

take offense at (someone or something)

- to become resentful of someone or something

The audience took offense at the remarks by the comedian.

take office

- to begin serving as an elected or appointed official

The new mayor of the city is expected to take office next week.

take on (someone) or take (someone) on

- to give a job to someone, to hire or employ someone

The factory took on fifty new employees last month.

take on (something) or take (something) on

- to begin to do something, to commit oneself to something

Recently, my father has begun to take on too many things at work and he has become very tired.

I took on the extra work to make some more money.

take on (something) or take (something) on

- to load (something)

The ship took on most of its cargo last week.

take on the look or appearance of (something)

- to begin to have the look of something

My friend has begun to take on the look of a university professor although he has only been working at the university for a short time.

take on too much or take too much on

- to undertake to do too much work or too many tasks

My aunt is taking on too much and is very tired recently.

take one's cue from (someone)

- to use another's behavior or reactions as a guide to one's own

The musicians took their cue from the conductor when the orchestra performed the musical piece.

take one`s hat off to (someone)

- to admire/respect/praise someone

You have to take your hat off to our boss. He has built his company from almost nothing.

take one's leave of (someone)

- to say goodbye to someone and leave (a formal old-fashioned expression)

The Princess took her leave of the Queen and left the room.

take one's medicine

- to swallow one's medicine

The boy had to take his medicine before he went to bed.

take one's own life

- to kill oneself, to commit suicide

The young man took his own life several weeks ago.

take one`s own medicine

- to accept the punishment that one deserves for something without complaining

The man likes to criticize others but he can never take his own medicine when others criticize him.

take one`s time

- to do something without hurrying

My friend took his time to return the book that he had borrowed.

take one's vows

- to get married and take your wedding vows or make your wedding promises

The couple took their vows at the courthouse in the small town.

take one's word for something/it

- to believe that what someone says is true

The man seems to be honest so we will take his word for what happened.

My friend has a good reason for being late so I will take his word for it and not worry.

The child said that she lost her homework. The teacher will take her word for it.

take out a loan

- to get a loan of money

I had to take out a loan to buy the car.

take out (someone) or take (someone) out

- to go on a date with someone

I finally had a chance to take out the new woman from my class last week.

take out (something) or take (something) out

- to remove something from somewhere, to extract something

The teacher asked us to take out our books.

I took out some onions from the refridgerator.

My dentist took out my tooth.

take over (something) or take (something) over

- to take control of something, to take command of something

A large foreign company took over our company last month.

take pains to (do something)

- to work carefully and conscientiously at something

I took pains to write a very important email.

take part in (something)

- to participate in something

"Are you planning to take part in the seminar next week?"

take pity on (someone or something)

- to feel sorry for someone or something

I took pity on the man who was begging and I gave him some money.

take place

- to happen, to occur

The soccer game took place on the coldest day of the year.

take precedence over (someone or something)

- to have the right to come before someone or something else

The rights of people who do not smoke often take precedence over the rights of smokers.

take pride in (something)

- to do something with pride

The couple take pride in their beautiful house.

take responsibility for (someone or something)

- to accept responsibility for (someone or something)

My friend refuses to take responsibility for his problems.

take root

- to begin to take hold or have effect

Good manners are beginning to take root in the school children.

take shape

- to progress from some general idea or plan to something with definite shape or form

The plans for our school reunion are beginnning to take shape.

take sick

- to become ill

The little boy took sick early last night.

take sides

- to support one side or the other side

"You should not take sides in some arguments or both sides will be angry at you."

take (someone or something) at face value

- to take someone or something as it first appears to be

I took the sign at face value and drove very slowly through the construction area.

take (someone) at his or her word

- to believe what someone says and act accordingly

I decided to take the woman at her word when she invited me to the concert.

take (someone's) breath away

- to overwhelm someone with beauty or grandeur

The beauty of the mountains took my breath away.

take (someone or somewhere) by storm

- to become popular with a group of people

The new singer took the country by storm.

The movie is taking the country by storm.

The new book is taking many people by storm.

take (someone) by surprise

- to startle someone, to surprise someone

The coach suddenly quit which took everyone by surprise.

The question by the reporter took the man by surprise.

We made some noise when we entered the room so that we did not take my mother by surprise.

take (someone) down a notch/peg or two

- to reprimand or scold someone who is acting arrogant, to make someone less proud or sure of himself or herself

The manager took the secretary down a notch or two with his criticism of her work.

take (someone) for a fool

- to assume that someone is stupid

The salesman tried to take me for a fool when he tried to sell me the old car.

take (someone) for a ride

- to play a trick on or fool someone, to take unfair advantage of someone

The used car salesman took me for a ride. The car that I bought is not good.

I was taken for a ride when I bought my new phone. I paid too much money for it.

take (someone) for an idiot

- to assume that someone is stupid

The man takes me for an idiot and thinks that I do not know anything.

take (someone) for granted

- to accept someone without gratitude or as a matter of course

Everybody takes the office clerk for granted and nobody ever thanks her.

take (someone) for (someone or something)

- to mistake someone for someone or something

The man took the boy for a robber and called the police.

take (someone) hostage

- to kidnap or seize someone to be a hostage

The bank robbers took several people hostage during the bank robbery.

take (someone) into one's confidence

- to tell a secret to someone and trust that person to keep the secret

The bank manager took the customer into his confidence and told him about the banking problems.

take (someone's) part

- to take a side in an argument

My friend always takes my part when I am having an argument with someone.

take (someone's) pulse

- to measure the beats of a person's pulse

The doctor took the patient's pulse when she arrived at the hospital.

take (someone or something) seriously

- to think that someone or something is important

The principal did not take the suggestion of the teacher seriously.

take (someone) to task

- to scold someone for something that they have done wrong

The supervisor took me to task for arriving late for work.

take (someone) to the cleaners

- to take or win all of someone`s money, to cheat someone

The salesman took the woman to the cleaners when he sold her the bad product.

The man went to the casino and was taken to the cleaners by the card dealers.

take (someone) under one`s wing/wings

- to protect and help someone

The supervisor took the new employee under his wing and began to teach him about the company.

take (someone) up on (something)

- to take advantage of someone's offer of something

I took my friend up on his offer to let me borrow his new car.

take (someone or something) wrong

- to misunderstand someone or something

The man took what I said wrong and became very angry.

take (something)

- to endure something

I find it very difficult to take the woman's constant complaining.

take (something) by storm

- to capture something by a sudden or very bold attack

The army took the town by storm and was able to capture all of the enemy soldiers.

take (something) for granted

- to assume that something is a certain way or is correct

"I took it for granted that you knew him. That is why I did not introduce you."

take (something) in stride

- to accept good or bad luck and continue on

The boxer took his loss in stride and began to prepare for his next fight.

take (something) into account

- to remember and consider something

"Please take into account the fact that the girl has only been studying French for a few weeks."

take (something) lying down

- to endure something unpleasant without fighting back

I am very angry and will not take what he says lying down.

take (something) on faith

- to accept or believe something with little or no evidence

I took it on faith that the friend of my boss was an honest person.

take (something) on the chin

- to experience and endure a direct blow or assault

The man always takes things on the chin and he never complains.

take (something) out on (someone or something)

- to direct one's anger or fear onto someone or something

The woman often takes her anger out on her husband.

take (something) personally

- to interpret a remark as if it were meant for oneself or critical of oneself

I wish that my colleague would not take everything that I say personally.

take (something) sitting down

- to accept something that is unpleasant or unjust without doing anything

The man is not going to take the bad treatment sitting down.

The salesperson refused to take the criticism sitting down.

The university students do not plan to take the increase in fees sitting down.

take (something) the wrong way

- to understand something as wrong or insulting

The waiter took my comments the wrong way and became angry.

take (something) to heart

- to consider something seriously

You should not really take what he says to heart. He is really very kind.

take (something) to one's grave

- to carry a secret with you until you die

The woman plans to take the secret about her sister to her grave.

take (something) to the bank

- to have or do something that is a sure thing, to do or have something that you can count on no matter what happens

The business proposal is a sure thing. You can take it to the bank.

take (something) up with (someone)

- to raise and discuss a matter with someone

Our supervisor plans to take the issue of overtime up with the senior managers.

take (something) with a grain of salt

- to not take something that someone has said seriously

You can take everything that our teacher says with a grain of salt.

take steps to (prevent or do something)

- to begin to make plans or arrangements for something, to make preparations for something

Our company has begun to take steps to stop people from smoking in the office building.

take stock

- to count items of merchandise or supplies that are in stock, to take inventory

The store will be closed next week while the company is taking stock.

take stock in (something)

- to have faith in something, to believe in something (usually used in the negative)

The woman took no stock in her manager's crazy ideas.

take stock of (something)

- to carefully study a situation or a number of possibilities or opportunities

After taking stock of the situation the man decided to quit his company.

take that tack

- to take a course of action or do something that is different from the preceding course of action

I decided to take that tack when I realized that I was making no progress with my previous plans.

take the bitter with the sweet

- to accept the bad things together with the good things

You have to take the bitter with the sweet when you are an athlete.

take the bull by the horns

- to take some kind of action

My aunt decided to take the bull by the horns and started to plan the family reunion.

take the cake

- to be the best or the worst

The woman's manners take the cake. They are very bad.

take the day off

- to choose not to go to work for one day

I decided to take the day off because I was feeling bad.

take the easy way out

- to aviod dealing directly with a problem/difficulty/situation

The boy always takes the easy way out when he has a problem.

take the edge off (something)

- to lessen or weaken or soften something

We had a drink of hot chocolate to take the edge off the cold weather.

take the Fifth

- to hide behind the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution which guarantees any witness the right not to incriminate himself or herself while testifying at a trial

The man decided to take the Fifth rather than tell all of the facts at the trial.

take the heat off (someone or something)

- to decrease the pressure on someone or something, to reduce the amount of pressure or criticism that you have to deal with

The teacher changed the deadline for the project. That takes the heat off me and I can relax.

The top official left the government because of the scandal. This took the heat off the government.

take the high road

- to do the right thing, to act in a polite manner even if you do not want to

My friend was very rude to me but I decided to take the high road and not say anything.

The politician never criticizes his opponents. He always takes the high road.

take the initiative to (do something)

- to decide to do something although one has not been asked to do it

I decided to take the initiative to organize a dinner for my friend who was leaving to go to a different university.

take the law into one's own hands

- to attempt to administer the law oneself

The citizens took the law into their own hands when they arrested the man who had cut down the tree.

take the liberty of (doing something) or take the liberty to (do something)

- to do something without asking for permission

I sometimes take the liberty to use my friend's computer without asking him.

I took the liberty of eating some food from my friend's refridgerator.

take the plunge

- to do something decisive (such as getting married)

My friend will take the plunge and get married next year.

take the rap for (someone or something)

- to receive punishment for something, to be accused and punished for something, to receive punishment in place of someone else

The owner of the restaurant was forced to take the rap for permitting underage workers to work at night.

take the stand

- to go and sit in the witness chair in a courtroom

The star witness will take the stand in the trial tomorrow.

take the starch out of (someone)

- to make someone less arrogant, to make someone tired and weak

The criticism by the teacher took the starch out of the girl who thought that she was the best in the class.

take the trouble to (do something)

- to make an effort to do something

My grandmother always takes the trouble to phone us on our birthdays.

take the wind out of one's sails

- to discourage someone and make him or her less enthusiastic

It took the wind out of my sails when I was told that I was not doing a good job.

take the words out of (someone`s) mouth

- to say something that someone else was going to say

The man took the words out of my mouth when he answered the question.

take time off

- to not work for a period of time

I plan to take time off next week so that I can go to a funeral.

take to one's heels

- to run away

The young boys took to their heels when the man came out of the building.

take to (someone or something)

- to like someone or something at first meeting, to be pleased by or attracted to someone or something, to accept someone or something quickly

The team took to the new coach immediately and did very well during the season.

take to (something)

- to begin the work or job of something, to learn something easily, to do well at something

The man took to the job of administrator and was a great success.

take to the woods

- to run away and hide

The man decided to take to the woods rather than wait to talk to his angry wife.

take turns (doing something)

- to do something in turns, to do something alternately with others

We had to take turns using the dictionary because there was only one.

take umbrage at (something)

- to feel that one has been insulted by something

The man took umbrage at the comments that were directed at him by his supervisor.

take up a collection

- to gather something together, to collect something

We decided to take up a collection in order to get money to repair the old building.

take up arms against (someone or something)

- to get ready to fight or make war

The citizens of the small country were not willing to take up arms to change their government.

take up (clothes) or take (clothes) up

- to make a skirt/dress/pants shorter

I went back to the department store to ask them to take up my suit pants.

take up (something) or take (something) up

- to begin an activity or hobby

My father has much free time and has decided to take up fishing as a hobby.

take up (something) with (someone)

- to consult with someone about something

We will take up the scheduling problem with our boss.

take up (space or room)

- to fill a space or room, to occupy space or room

The old chairs are taking up space in the garage.

take up (time)

- to fill or occupy time, to waste someone's time

Building model airplanes takes up most of my friend's time.

take up where one left off

- to start something again in the place that one has stopped

We will take up where we left off during the next class.

take up with (someone)

- to become a friend or companion to someone

My cousin has taken up with a very strange group of people.

taken aback

- to be unpleasantly surprised, to be suddenly puzzled or shocked or confused

I was taken aback when the woman said that she did not want to work for our company any longer.

taken for dead

- to be assumed to be dead

The men in the coal mine were taken for dead after there was no contact for several days.

Talk Idioms

talk a blue streak

- to talk very much and very rapidly

The woman who sat behind me in the airplane talked a blue streak.

talk back to (someone)

- to answer someone rudely

The woman is very strict and never allows her children to talk back to her.

talk big

- to talk boastfully, to brag

The man is always talking big but nobody believes what he says.

talk down to (someone)

- to speak in a way that makes you seem smarter or better than other people

I do not like that woman because she always talks down to the people around her.

Our boss always talks down to the employees.

The mother tries not to talk down to her child.

talk in circles

- to talk in a confusing or indirect manner

Our boss was talking in circles for most of the meeting.

I do not know what the man was saying. He was talking in circles.

The news reporter asks clear questions so that the speaker will not talk in circles.

the talk of (somewhere)

- the subject of conversations somewhere

The new theater production is the talk of the city.

talk oneself out

- to talk until one can talk no more

I met my friend at the coffee shop and we talked ourselves out.

talk out (a problem)

- to discuss something until everything is agreed upon, to settle something

We stayed up late last night and talked out the problem.

talk over (something) or talk (something) over

- to discuss something, to consider something

The girl talked over the problem with her mother.

talk shop

- to talk about things related to one`s work

Everybody at the company gathering agreed not to talk shop during the dinner.

talk (someone) down in price

- to convince someone to lower the price of something

I was able to talk the man down in price when I was buying the stereo.

talk (someone's) ear off

- to speak too much, to talk to someone and bore them

The man in the bank talked my ear off.

talk (someone's) head off

- to speak too much, to talk to someone and bore them

My friend always talks my head off when I meet him.

talk (someone) into (doing something)

- to persuade someone to agree to do something, to persuade someone to do something

My friend talked her father into lending her the family car.

talk (someone) out of (doing something)

- to persuade someone not to do something, to persuade someone to give something up

I spent an hour yesterday trying to talk my friend out of quitting his job.

talk through one`s hat

- to make exaggerated or inaccurate statements about something

The man always talks through his hat and you never know if you can believe him or not.

talk turkey

- to discuss something seriously

"Now you`re talking turkey. Let`s finish and go home."

talk until one is blue in the face

- to talk until one is exhausted

I talked until I was blue in the face but still my supervisor would not let me take a day off from work.

talk up (someone or something)

- to speak in favor of someone or something

The manager was talking up the new product during the meeting.

to be talked out

- to be tired of talking, to be unable to talk anymore after talking for a long time

I was talked out and had little to say for the rest of the dinner party.

tall order

- a very difficult task or requirement

It will be a tall order for our team to win the championship this year. They are very weak.

I have no time so it will be a tall order for me to finish my project on time.

tamper with (something)

- to change or alter something and cause damage or harm because of this

Someone tampered with the storage room lock.

Somebody tampered with the printer and now it does not work well.

The company has been tampering with their tax documents which has caused them much trouble.

tan (someone`s) hide

- to give someone a beating, to spank someone hard

The boy`s mother threatened to tan his hide if he did not behave himself.

taper off

- to come to an end little by little, to become smaller toward the end

The rain began to taper off early in the afternoon.

tar and feather (someone)

- to punish someone severely

The teacher said that she would tar and feather anyone who did not do their homework.

tar (someone) with the same brush

- to say that someone or something has the same bad qualities as someone or something else

The newspapers tarred the president of the company with the same brush as the bad managers of the company.

The boy was tarred with the same brush as his bad friends.

task (someone) with (something)

- to give an assignment to someone, to assign a task to someone

My friend was tasked with finishing the project before he could go home.

The students were tasked with cleaning the classroom.

a taste of (something)

- an experience of something, an example of something

I was able to get a taste of playing tennis while I was on my holiday.

a taste of things to come

- a sample of the events that are to occur in the future

The tax increase is a taste of things to come with the new government.


- spend freely and tax heavily

The government has a tax-and-spend attitude that many people do not like.

teach one's grandmother to suck eggs

- to try to tell someone with more knowledge than yourself how to do something

Showing the computer expert how to fix the computer problem was like teaching my grandmother to suck eggs.

teach (someone) a lesson

- to get even with someone for their bad behavior

I plan to teach my friend a lesson for not telephoning me to cancel our appointment.

teacher's pet

- the teacher's favorite student

My sister was always the teacher's pet when she was in school.

team player

- someone who works well with others to achieve some goal

The man is a team player and works well with the other members of the staff.

team up with (someone)

- to join with someone

I teamed up with a good friend to try and raise money for the concert.

tear down (someone) or tear (someone) down

- to say bad things about someone, to criticize someone

The audience tore down the speaker after he finished his lecture.

tear down (something) or tear (something) down

- to take something down, to destroy something

The city decided to tear down the building because it was unsafe.

tear into (someone or something)

- to criticize and scold someone, to attack someone or something

The supervisor tore into the employee for being late.

tear off

- to leave or depart in a great hurry

The boy suddenly tore off when school was over.

tear one's hair out

- to be anxious/frustrated/angry

The family members are tearing their hair out while they wait for news of their lost son.

tear up (someone) or tear (someone) up

- to cause someone much grief

The criminal activities of her son are tearing up the mother.

tear up (something) or tear (something) up

- to tear something up into small pieces, to tear something into parts

The child tore up the new telephone book.

teething problems

- difficulties and problems experienced in the early stages of a project or activity

Our new business is having many teething problems that we are trying to solve.

teething troubles

- difficulties and problems experienced in the early stages of a project or activity

There were lots of teething troubles as the school changed to the new computer system.

Tell Idioms

tell apart (two things or people) or tell (two things or people) apart

- to distinguish between two things or people

It is hard to tell the two sisters apart.

tell it like it is

- to be honest or sincere, to tell the truth

Our boss always tells it like it is when he talks about the future of the company.

Tell it to the marines.

- I do not believe you, stop trying to fool me

My friend said that she was going to start her own business. I told her to tell it to the marines.

Tell it to Sweeney.

- I do not believe you, stop trying to fool me

"Tell it to Sweeney," I said to my friend when he began talking about his plans.

tell on (someone)

- to reveal the activities or wrongdoings of someone by telling others

The girl told on her brother for eating the cake.

tell (someone) a thing or two

- to scold someone, to express one's anger to someone

The woman became angry and began to tell her neighbor a thing or two.

tell (someone) off or tell off (someone)

- to speak angrily or complain to someone

We told our neighbors off after their music was too loud.

tell (someone) to his or her face

- to tell something to someone directly

I plan to tell my friend to his face about the problems that he caused.

tell (someone) where to get off

- to scold someone, to express one's anger to someone

I told the man where to get off when he complained about us for no reason.

tell time

- to report the correct time, to be able to read time from a clock or watch

The child is now learning to tell time.

a tempest in a teapot

- great excitement about something that is not very important

The problem was a tempest in a teapot and after a few days everyone forgot about it.


- I understand you.

"Ten-four," the man said when his friend asked him if he could hear him.

tense up or to tense (something) up

- to suddenly become tense, to make a part of your body tense

The boy tenses up when he must speak before his class.

The coaching staff help the players so they do not tense up during a game.

The man tensed his arm up during the examination by the doctor.


- to be in a state of suspense or strain because of uncertainty

We have been on tenterhooks all week while we wait for the court decision.

test market a product

- to research whether or not a product will be successful by selling it in a particular market or by choosing people to use the product for a specified period of time and receiving comments from them

The computer company will begin to test market their new computer in several cities soon.

test the water

- to check to see if a plan will be successful before proceeding with the plan (some swimmers like to test the water temperature before jumping in)

The company plans to test the water before they introduce their new product.

a textbook example/case of (something)

- a very clear and usual example of a situation or event or type

The company provided a textbook example of how to deal with the problem.

The fire was terrible but the fire department gave us a textbook case of how to stop that type of fire.

thank one's lucky stars

- to be thankful for one's good luck

I thanked my lucky stars that I was not hurt in the car accident.

thankful for small blessings

- to be grateful for any small benefits or advantages that one has

I am thankful for small blessings when I think of the health of my friends and family.

thanks to (someone or something)

- owing to someone or something

Thanks to my friend, I will not have to do as much work as I had thought.

That's all she wrote.

- that is all

"That's all she wrote," I said after I told my friend the story.

that will be the day

- something will probably never happen

"That will be the day when you are in charge of managing the restaurant."

then and there

- right at that time and place

Our teacher told us then and there that she would not permit our behavior.


- to be dumb, to be unreasonable

My colleague is a little thick and never understands what I want to say.

thick and fast

- quickly and in large numbers

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

The insects appeared thick and fast during our picnic.

Job applications arrived thick and fast for the job advertisement.


- to be not easily upset or hurt, to be insensitive

The salesman is thick-skinned and is never bothered when he loses a sale or receives criticism.

thin on top

- to be losing one's hair

The manager of our apartment building is a little thin on top.


- to be easily upset or hurt, to be too sensitive

My friend is very thin-skinned and is easily bothered by what other people say.

Think Idioms

think a great deal of (someone or something)

- to like or think well of someone or something

Everybody thinks a great deal of the new company president.

think a lot of (someone or something)

- to like or think well of someone or something

My grandmother thinks a lot of her grandchildren.

think back on (someone or something)

- to remember and think about someone or something in one's past

When I think back on my school days I always remember my favorite teacher.

think better of (doing something)

- to think about something again and make a better decision regarding it

I would think better of going to Europe in the winter if I go there again.

think highly of (someone or something)

- to like or have a good opinion of someone or something

The citizens think highly of the new mayor.

Our boss thinks highly of the new employee.

The owner of the company did not think highly of the newspaper article.

think inside the box

- to think in a traditional way using old ideas or rules or practices

Most people in our company think inside the box and there are few new ideas.

think little of (someone or something)

- to think that someone or something is not important or valuable

The woman is not very happy and she thinks little of the people she works with.

think much of (someone or something)

- to like or think well of someone or something

Everybody thinks much of the new manager.

I do not think much of our new supervisor.

think nothing of (something)

- to not worry or be concerned about something

My friend thinks nothing of spending most of his money in one evening.

think on one's feet

- to be able to think and react quickly to something (often this is done under pressure)

I had to think on my feet when the flood waters began to approach my house.

think out loud

- to say out loud what one is thinking

"I am sorry. I was thinking out loud."

think out (something) or think (something) out

- to plan or consider something carefully until you have a solution/conclusion

We must think out where we will put our new sofa.

think outside the box

- to think freely not using old ideas or rules or practices

The consultant told us to think outside the box if we wanted to rebuild our company.

think over (something) or think (something) over

- to consider something carefully

I carefully thought over my plans before talking to my supervisor.

think (someone or something) fit for (something)

- to believe that someone or something is suitable for something

Everybody thinks that the man is fit for the job that he has been assigned to do.

think the world of (someone or something)

- to be very fond of someone or something

The woman thinks the world of the little girl who lives next door.

think twice (about something)

- to think very carefully about something

"You should think twice before you quit your job."

think up (an excuse or idea)

- to invent or create an excuse or idea

Our boss has thought up many interesting ideas for our company.

third degree

- detailed questioning

The boy's mother gave him the third degree when he came home late from school.

thirst for (something)

- a craving or desire for something, to thirst or crave something

The woman thirsts for the life that she was previously living.

She has a thirst for her previous life.

thirsty for (something)

- to crave or desire something

The young boy is thirsty for knowledge.

a thorn in (someone's) side

- a constant bother or annoyance to someone

The reporter is a thorn in the politician's side.

those three little words

- the three words "I love you"

After several months of dating, the man said those three little words to his girlfriend.

thrash (something) out or thrash out (something)

- to discuss something thoroughly in order to solve any problems

We spent the meeting thrashing out the new plan.

thread (one's way) through (something)

- to make a path for oneself through a crowded area

The shopping mall was crowded but we were able to thread our way through the crowd of people.

three R's

- the three basic skills for a basic education (reading, (w)riting, and (a)rithmetic)

Many people want their children to learn the three R's when they are young.

The government will focus on the three R's in the education budget.

My father studied in a small school where they mainly studied the three R's.

three sheets to the wind

- to be unsteady from drinking too much alcohol, to be drunk

I saw my neighbor walking down the street last night. He seemed to have three sheets to the wind.

thrill (someone) to death

- to please or excite someone very much

I was thrilled to death when they chose me for an important part in the play.

thrill (someone) to pieces

- to please or excite someone very much

The music that they played at the wedding thrilled me to pieces.

through and through

- completely

I was wet through and through after walking in the heavy rain.

through hell and high water

- through all sorts of severe difficulties

I went through hell and high water to complete the report on time.

through the grapevine

- from other people

I heard it through the grapevine that my boss will move to Paris next summer.

through the mill

- through a very difficult experience (you grind grain in a mill to make flour for bread)

The man has been through the mill after losing his job.

The manager was terrible and put many of the employees through the mill.

There were more and more problems and again we have gone through the mill.

through thick and thin

- through all difficulties and troubles, through good times and bad times

The woman's husband is always ready to help her and supports her through thick and thin.

Throw Idioms

throw a fit

- to become very angry

The boy's mother threw a fit when she learned about his school problems.

My friend will throw a fit when he discovers that his car is damaged.

The child threw a fit in the store.

throw a monkey wrench into the works

- to cause something that is going smoothly to stop going smoothly

My friend threw a monkey wrench into our plans to go to the lake for the summer.

throw a party (for someone) or throw (someone) a party

- to give or hold a party for someone

We plan to throw a party for our boss next week.

throw away a chance

- to fail to make use of a chance or opportunity

My cousin threw away a chance to get a good education when he quit school to work.

throw away an opportunity

- to fail to make use of a chance or opportunity

The man threw away the opportunity to have a good relationship with his boss because of his constant complaints.

throw away (something) or throw (something) away

- to discard something, to dispose of something

I plan to throw away my old jacket tomorrow.

throw caution to the wind

- to become very careless

I will throw caution to the wind and tell my boss about my complaints about the company.

throw cold water on (something)

- to discourage or forbid something

My boss threw cold water on my plan to go to New York City on a business trip.

throw down the gauntlet

- to challenge someone to a fight or to do something

The government threw down the gauntlet to the opposition party and told them to stop criticizing their policies without suggesting an alternative.

throw good money after bad

- to waste additional money after already wasting money on the same thing

We were throwing good money after bad when we continued to repair our old car.

throw in one`s lot with (someone or something)

- to take part in something, to join someone or something

We decided to throw in our lot with the workers who were on strike.

throw in (something) or throw (something) in

- to give or add something as an addition

When we bought our car the car dealer threw in some new tires as a bonus.

throw in the towel

- to quit, to surrender, to give up

The boxer threw in the towel about halfway through the match.

throw light on (something)

- to make something clearer or easier to understand

The speaker helped to throw light on the difficult subject.

The city government was not able to throw light on the problem with the bridge.

throw money down the drain

- to waste money

My uncle is throwing money down the drain with his crazy ideas.

The city is throwing money down the drain with the new stadium.

The car is very old and the man is throwing money down the drain to try and repair it.

throw off an illness

- to recover from a sickness

I was able to throw off my cold and quickly recover.

throw off (someone) or throw (someone) off

- to mislead or confuse or fool someone

The criminals threw off the police and ran into the subway.

throw one's hands up in despair

- to raise one's hands making a sign of giving up, to give up

I threw my hands up in despair and said that I could no longer work on the project.

throw one's hands up in horror

- to be shocked, to raise one's hands in horror

The woman threw her hands up in horror when she saw the accident.

throw one's hat into the ring

- to announce that you are running for an elected office, to enter a contest or agree to a challenge

The mayor threw his hat into the ring and decided to run for president.

throw one's voice

- to project one's voice so that it seems to be coming from some other place

The man learned how to throw his voice when he was a teenager.

throw one`s weight around

- to use one`s influence and power in an aggressive way in order to get what you want

Our boss has been throwing his weight around since he got his promotion.

The woman likes to throw her weight around and nobody likes her.

throw oneself at (someone)

- to give oneself willingly to someone for romance

The woman in the movie threw herself at the hero of the story.

throw oneself at (someone's) feet

- to behave in a very humble manner

The man threw himself at his friend's feet and asked for forgiveness for the problems that he had caused.

throw oneself at/on the mercy of the court

- to plead for mercy from a judge in a courtroom

The man who robbed the bank decided to throw himself at the mercy of the court.

throw out (someone) or throw (someone) out

- to force someone to leave, to dismiss someone

The umpire threw out the coach for arguing with him.

throw out (something) or throw (something) out

- to discard something, to get rid of something

I plan to throw out my old desk.

throw out (something) or throw (something) out

- to refuse to consider something, to reject something

The judge threw the case out of court.

throw some light on (something)

- to reveal something about something

The investigation did not throw any light on the problem of food safety.

throw (someone)

- to confuse someone slightly

It threw me when I saw the new salesman.

throw (someone) a curve (ball)

- to surprise someone by doing something unexpected, to pitch a curve ball to someone in baseball

The lawyer threw the witness a curve with his very complex questions.

throw (someone) for a loop

- to confuse or shock someone

The complaints from my colleague at work threw me for a loop.

throw (someone) for a loss

- to cause someone to be uncertain or confused

The man's question threw me for a loss and I could not reply.

throw (someone) off (someone's) trail

- to cause someone to lose the trail (when following someone or something)

The criminals were able to throw the police off their trail and they escaped easily.

throw (someone's) name around

- to impress people by saying that you know a famous or important person

The salesman often throws the names of important people around.

throw (someone) out on his or her ear

- to make someone leave a place such as an office or restaurant

The restaurant threw the man out on his ear for causing problems.

throw (someone) to the wolves

- to send someone into danger without protection

The coach threw the boy to the wolves when he joined the older players.

throw (something) into the bargain

- to include something in a deal

The owner of the store threw some DVD's into the bargain when I purchased a DVD player.

throw (something) together or throw together (something)

- to make something in a hurry and without care

We did not have much time last night so we threw together a quick meal.

throw the baby out with the bathwater

- to reject all of something including the good because part of it is bad

When they discarded all of the computers because one was broken it was like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Only one was broken.

throw the book at (someone)

- to punish someone severely for breaking a rule or the law

The judge threw the book at the man after he was convicted of robbing a bank.

throw together (people) or throw (people) together

- to group people together by chance

We were thrown together with a variety of people when the train stopped for six hours.

throw up

- to vomit

The man threw up two times after he got food poisoning from the seafood.

throw up one`s hands (in defeat)

- to give up trying, to admit that one cannot succeed

The professor threw up his hands and decided to let the students go home early.

throw up (something) or throw (something) up

- to erect or construct something quickly

The construction company threw up the building very quickly.

thrust and parry

- to compete actively with someone, to enter into verbal combat with someone (this idiom comes from the sport of fencing)

It was thrust and parry for the two candidates during the debate.

thumb a lift

- to hitchhike

Our car had a flat tire so I thumbed a lift to the nearest gas station.

thumb a ride

- to hitchhike

The young man stood at the side of the road to try and thumb a ride.

thumb one`s nose at (someone or something)

- to look with disfavor or dislike at someone or something

The star player thumbed his nose at the fans when they began to yell at him.

thumb through (something)

- to look through a book/magazine/newspaper without reading it carefully

I thumbed through a magazine while I was waiting for the dentist.

Everybody thumbed through the report during the meeting.

The student thumbed through her notes before the exam.

thumbnail sketch

- a short description of someone or something

The new book included a thumbnail sketch of the author.

thumbs down on (someone or something)

- to be opposed to someone or something

My boss told me to vote thumbs down on the proposal that was presented at the meeting.

thumbs up on (someone or something)

- to be in favor of someone or something

Everybody voted thumbs up for a new holiday in the winter.

tickled pink

- to be very happy

The man was tickled pink to receive a prize for growing the best flowers.

tickle (someone's) fancy

- to interest someone, to make someone curious

Going to the restaurant did not tickle my fancy so I stayed home.

tide is turning

- the tide changed from high tide to low tide or vice versa, the trend changed from one thing to another thing

The tide is turning so we will go out to the ocean in the boat later.

The tide is turning and many people are becoming angry with the city government.

tide (someone) over or tide over (someone)

- to help someone through a difficult situation, to last until someone can get more of something

I gave my friend some money to tide him over until he gets paid.

I ate an apple to tide me over until lunch.

Tie Idioms

tie down (someone) or tie (someone) down

- to keep someone from going somewhere or doing something, to limit or restrict someone's freedom to do something

The project tied my father down for three months.

A family and a big mortgage tied the man down.

tie down (something) or tie (something) down

- to make something secure and unable to move by securing it with rope etc.

We tied down the pieces of wood on top of the car.

tie in (something) with (something) or tie (something) in with (something)

- to connect something with something else

The merchandise was tied in with the movie and had very good sales.

tie (someone) up in knots

- to make someone very nervous or worried

My colleague was tied up in knots before the speech at the convention.

tie (someone's) hands

- to prevent someone from doing something

The court system ties the police department's hands when they try to enforce some laws.

tie the knot

- to get married

The couple decided to tie the knot after dating for three years.

tie up (a boat) or tie (a boat) up

- to dock a boat or ship

We tied up our boat at the pier when the storm came.

tie up (someone) or tie (someone) up

- to take all of someone's time

The meeting tied up the manager so she was unable to answer the phone.

tie up (something) or tie (something) up

- to limit or prevent the use of something

All of my uncle's money is tied up in real estate investments.

tie up (traffic)

- to slow down traffic, to cause road traffic to stop

The accident tied up traffic for two hours last night.

tie up with (someone or something)

- to enter into an association or partnership with someone or something

Our company will tie up with a company from Sweden to make the pollution equipment.

tied to one's mother's apron strings

- to be dominated or dependent on one's mother

The boy is tied to his mother's apron strings and he does not want to leave home.

tied up

- to be busy

I was tied up yesterday and did not have enough time to telephone my friend.

tight spot

- a difficult situation

The company is in a tight spot now that the top salesman quit.

The man needs to find a job soon or he will be in a very tight spot.

The young woman is happy to help her friend out of a tight spot.

tight squeeze

- a difficult financial situation

Our company is in a tight squeeze now that sales are down from last year.

tighten one`s belt

- to economize, to spend less money

I will have to tighten my belt until the economy improves.

tightfisted with money

- to not want to spend any money

The man is very tightfisted with money and he never likes to spend it.

tilt at windmills

- to try to do something that is impossible or not realistic

My friend is tilting at windmills by fighting his company for no reason.

The man is tilting at windmills with his ideas to become an actor.

The woman is tilting at windmills with her plan to get money for her business idea.

Time Idioms

time after time

- repeatedly

The teacher told the student time after time to be careful with her spelling.

time and a half

- a rate of pay for workers that is one and a half times one's regular hourly wage

The supermarket workers receive time and a half when they work during the weekend.

The workers begin to get time and a half after they work for eight hours.

Many people like to work extra hours if they receive time and a half for the extra hours.

time and again

- repeatedly, over and over

The teacher told the students time and again that they must do their homework.

time and time again

- repeatedly, over and over

The man was asked time and time again to move his car.

Time and time again, the man borrowed money which he did not repay.

The teacher told the students time and time again not to use their phones in class.

time flies

- time passes very quickly

Time flies and suddenly summer was over and autumn had begun.

the time is ripe (for something)

- exactly the right time has come for something

The time is ripe to start teaching our child how to brush his teeth.

the time of one`s life

- a wonderful time

My cousin had the time of her life when she went to Rome last summer.

time off

- free time when one does not have to work

I had some time off last week and I was able to do some extra reading.

time out

- the time when a game or other event is temporarily stopped for some reason

During the game we took some time out to rest.

time to catch one's breath

- enough time to relax and behave normally

I did not have time to catch my breath because I was working hard all morning.

time was (when)

- at a time in the past when something happened

Time was when everybody in our town kept their doors unlocked all of the time.

a tin ear for (something)

- the inability to judge the value of music, an insensitivity to music

The woman has a tin ear for music and she is not a good singer at all.

tip of the iceberg

- the small visible part of something much larger

The problem was the tip of the iceberg to a much larger problem.

tip (someone) off or tip off (someone)

- to warn or inform someone about something

The bank tipped off the police that there may be a robbery soon.

tip the balance

- to have important or decisive influence, to decide something

The man's ability to speak French tipped the balance in his favor to get the job at the embassy.

tip the scales at (something)

- to weigh a certain amount

The wrestler tipped the scales at over 200 kilograms.

tire (someone) out or tire out (someone)

- to make someone very tired

The climb up the stairs tired the elderly woman out.

tired out

- very tired

My father was tired out after working hard all day.

tit for tat

- equal treatment in return for something, something that you do to punish someone who has done something bad to you or something that you do not like

The man has a tit-for-tat arrangement with his friend. They will both help each other when they need help.

There were several killings between the two gangs. It was always tit for tat between them.

The government policy was tit for tat to any attacks against its territory.

To Idioms

to a fault

- to do something so very well or to be something so good that it is almost bad

My friend is honest to a fault and will not say anything unless it is the absolute truth.

to a great extent

- mainly, largely

To a great extent, everybody in the town has been informed of the new parking regulations.

to a large extent

- mainly, largely

We know to a large extent, how many people plan to attend the conference.

to a T

- perfectly, exactly

The new job fits me to a T.

to and fro

- from one place to another and then back again, back and forth

We went to and fro between the two items as we tried to decide what to buy.

to be on the safe side

- to be safe, to be cautious, to be very well prepared

I decided to take my umbrella to school to be on the safe side.

to be safe

- to be cautious, to be careful

I took some extra money out of the bank just to be safe and have enough money for the weekend.

to be sure

- without a doubt, certainly

"To be sure it would be better to talk to the store manager rather than the clerk."

to beat the band

- very much, very fast

We were working hard to beat the band in order to finish our work early and go home.

to boot

- in addition, also

Our hot water tank is not working and to boot our kitchen stove is also having problems.

to date

- until the present time

To date there is no indication that the workers will negotiate a new contract.

to heel

- to be under control

The army brought the citizens to heel when they entered the town.

to hell and gone

- very much gone, gone to hell

The situation was already to hell and gone when the manager arrived at the office.

to no avail

- with no effect, unsuccessful

My complaints to the company were to no avail and nothing was done.

to one's heart's content

- as much as one wants

I used the camera to my heart's content before I had to return it to my friend.

to one`s name

- in one`s ownership

The man is a very good dresser although he does not have a penny to his name.

to order

- according to a buyer's specifications regarding size or color etc.

I bought three suits which were made to order when I visited Hong Kong last year.

to pieces

- into broken pieces or fragments, destroyed, not working

My car fell to pieces during my recent trip.

to pieces

- very much, greatly

The man loves his little girl to pieces.

to put it mildly

- to understate something, to say something politely

To put it mildly, the food at the restaurant was the worst that I have ever tasted.

to say nothing of (someone or something)

- to not even mention the importance of someone or something

The hotel itself was very expensive to say nothing of the cost of the hotel restaurant.

to say the least

- at the very least, without dwelling on the subject

To say the least, I am tired after walking all day.

to some extent

- to some degree, partly

My answer to the professor's question was correct to some extent but it was not what the professor wanted.

to (someone's) liking

- in a way that pleases someone

The cook in my favorite restaurant always cooks the food exactly to my liking.

to (someone's) way of thinking

- in someone's opinion

To my way of thinking, we should not spend more money on the new project.

To my way of thinking, my friend should not think about changing his job.

The new phone plan is much better than before, to my way of thinking.

to speak of

- important, worth talking about

We did not do anything to speak of during our summer vacation.

to the best of one's ability

- as well as one is able

I always play sports to the best of my ability.

to the best of one's knowledge

- as far as one knows, from one's knowledge

To the best of my knowledge there have been no telephone calls for me today.

to the bitter end

- to the very end

We stayed to the bitter end and watched our team lose very badly to the other team.

to the bone

- thoroughly, entirely

I became wet to the bone during the heavy rain.

to the contrary

- contrary to what has been stated or thought

Everybody thought that the boy was bored at the dinner but to the contrary he was quite interested.

to the core

- all the way through, basically

The local government is corrupt to the core and everybody wants the mayor to leave office.

to the ends of the earth

- to the most remote and most inaccessible points on the earth

My professor went to the ends of the earth to find material for his university thesis.

to the extent that

- to the degree that, in so far as

"To the extent that I am able, I will be happy to help you."

to the eye

- as it is seen, apparently

To the eye, the hotel looked very nice but when we entered it, it was not very good at all.

to the full

- very much, fully

My father always tries to live his life to the full.

to the hilt

- to the maximum amount, completely

My friend has been in debt to the hilt since he bought his new car.

to the last

- to the end, to the conclusion

We stayed at the party to the last and then helped clean the hall.

to the letter

- exactly, precisely

The police officer always follows the law to the letter.

to the nth degree

- to the greatest degree possible, extremely

We made an effort to the nth degree but we were unable to successfully complete the project.

to the tune of (an amount of money)

- to the amount or extent of an amount of money

The damage that he did to his car was to the tune of about $2,000.

to the wall

- into a place from which there is no escape

The credit agency pushed the man to the wall and he finally had to declare bankruptcy.

to whom it may concern

- to the person to whom something applies

I do not know the name of the sales manager so I will address the letter, "to whom it may concern."

to wit

- namely, that is to say

There were several important people at the dinner; to wit, the mayor, the city manager, and the chief financial officer of the city.

toe the line

- to obey the rules and do what one is expected to do

The children were forced to toe the line when the new teacher arrived.

toe the mark

- to obey the rules and do what one is expected to do

Everybody on the team must toe the mark.


- in close and direct confrontation or competition with someone, in close combat with someone

The two men went toe-to-toe in their debate.

toing and froing (about something)

- to be moving back and forth on an issue, to be changing one's mind about something

My father and mother have been toing and froing for several weeks about whether or not they will go to Europe for a holiday.

tone (something) down or tone down (something)

- to make something less harsh or strong, to moderate something

The union leader was forced to tone down his language after the strike became violent.

tongue in cheek

- jokingly, insincerely, mockingly, not really meaning something

The comment by our teacher was tongue in cheek and she did not mean it.

too bad

- worthy of sorrow or regret

It is too bad that the university decided to close the bookstore last year.

too big for one`s boots

- to feel more important than one really is

My friend is too big for his boots and thinks that he is very important.

too big for one`s britches

- to feel more important than one really is

Our new boss is too big for his britches. He needs to change his behavior.

too clever by half

- to be very confident of your own intelligence but in a way that irritates other people

My friend is too clever by half. He thinks that he knows everything which is very annoying.

too close for comfort

- to be dangerously close

The edge of the road was too close for comfort so I moved my car away from it.

too good to be true

- to be almost unbelievable

The price of the phone is too good to be true and I do not believe it.

My new job seems too good to be true. It is wonderful.

The news is too good to be true.

too many irons in the fire

- to have too many things that you are trying to do

My friend has too many irons in the fire at the moment and has no time for other things.

too much of a good thing

- to be more of a good thing than is good or useful

The new company policy is too much of a good thing and they may change it.

too rich for (someone's) blood

- to be too expensive for someone, too expensive or fancy to suit someone

The restaurant is very expensive and too rich for my blood.

The car is too rich for my blood so I will not buy it.

The concert tickets are super expensive and definitely too rich for our blood.

toot one's own horn

- to boast or praise oneself

My friend is always tooting his own horn when he thinks that he has done something well.

tooth and nail

- fiercely, as hard as possible

The man decided to fight tooth and nail to transfer to another department of the company.

top banana

- the person who is the boss or the top person in a group or organization

The famous actor in the movie was the top banana in the story.

top dog

- the most important person in an organization

My uncle is the top dog in his company.


- to be of the best or most important kind

When my friend buys a new car he always buys a top-drawer model.


- to be excellent, to be the best

They had a top-notch cook at the restaurant but he quit last month.

top (someone or something)

- to do or be better than someone or something

The young woman topped everyone in her class with her excellent science project.

top (something) off or top off (something)

- to add to the difficulty of a situation

I lost my car keys and to top it off I also lost my wallet.

top (something) off (with something)

- to end or terminate something with something else

The conference was topped off by a large dinner on the final day.


- to be upside down, to be in disarray

My apartment was topsy-turvy so I stayed home to clean it up.

torn between (two things)

- to be troubled by a choice or dilemma

I was torn between going to the library or going to a movie.

toss a salad

- to mix the ingredients of a salad with dressing

My friend asked me to toss the salad when we were making dinner.

toss off (an answer) or toss (an answer) off

- to say something easily and quickly without thinking about it deeply

The boy was able to easily toss off an answer to the question that the teacher asked him.

The government official tossed off an answer to the question that he was asked.

toss off (something) or toss (something) off

- to drink something rapidly

We tossed off a couple of drinks before we went home for the evening.

toss off (something) or toss (something) off

- to throw something off of oneself or something

I tossed off my jacket before I got into the car.

toss one's cookies

- to vomit

I tossed my cookies after eating the bad food at the restaurant.

toss one's hat into the ring

- to announce that you are running for an elected office, to decide to enter a contest or agree to a challenge

My friend tossed his hat into the ring and will try and become the school president.

toss (someone) out of (somewhere)

- to force someone to leave somewhere, to dismiss someone

The boys were tossed out of the restaurant for their bad behavior.

Touch Idioms

touch a sore spot/point

- to mention a sensitive matter that will upset someone

I touched a sore spot when I began to talk about my friend's problems at work.

touch and go

- uncertain, in a dangerous situation

It is touch and go whether the girl is going to survive after the car accident.

It was touch and go whether or not we would get to the airport on time.

It is touch and go whether the company will be bankrupt or not.

touch base with (someone)

- to talk to someone, to meet someone briefly

I plan to touch base with my cousin before I go to the wedding next week.

touch off (someone) or touch (someone) off

- to make someone very angry

I touched off my friend when I said something that she did not like.

touch off (something) or touch (something) off

- to cause something to fire or explode by lighting the fuse

The fire at the oil refinery touched off an explosion that destroyed many tanks.

touch off (something) or touch (something) off

- to start something

The arrest of the labor leader touched off a riot among the workers.

touch on/upon (something)

- to speak or write briefly about something

The news article touched on the legal problems of the company.

touch up (something) or touch (something) up

- to paint over small imperfections of something

I asked the repair shop to touch up several places on my car where the paint was scratched.

touch up (something) or touch (something) up

- to improve something with small additions or changes

My essay will be finished after I touch up some of the weak spots.

touched (in the head)

- crazy

The woman is touched in the head and it is difficult to know what she will do next.

touched by (someone or something)

- to be emotionally affected or moved by someone or something

Everybody in the movie theater was touched by the performance of the dying actress.

a tough act to follow

- a good performance that is very difficult to follow or to improve

The first singer will be a tough act to follow for the other singers in the contest.

The coach is very good and will be a tough act to follow when he leaves.

The movie is fantastic. The director will have a tough act to follow for his next movie.

a tough break

- bad luck, an unlucky event

The singer received a tough break when he became sick before the music contest.

The team had a tough break with the injury of the best player.

The man got some tough breaks when he lost his job and then had a car accident.

tough it out

- to endure a difficult situation

I would like to quit my job but for now I plan to tough it out.

tough row to hoe

- a difficult task to undertake

Learning written Chinese was a tough row to hoe for the university students.

tourist trap

- a place that is overpriced and which attracts tourists

My friend thinks that Hawaii is a tourist trap and he does not want to go there for his holiday.

a tower of strength

- a person who provides strong and reliable support

The man has been a tower of strength to his sister since her husband died.

town and gown

- the two distinct communities of a university town - the town is the inhabitants of the town and the gown is the university community

The relations between town and gown in the small university town were terrible.

toy with an idea

- to think about or consider an idea or a plan

The woman is toying with the idea of looking for a new job.

The student often toys with the idea of changing his university program.

I am toying with the idea of starting a business.

toy with (someone)

- to tease someone

The woman in the bank was toying with me when she began to ask me many questions.

toy with (something)

- to play or fiddle with something

I spent the morning toying with the broken radio and trying to repair it.

track (someone or something) down or track down (someone or something)

- to search for someone or something

I have been trying to track down an old Beatles album for many months.

trade in (something) or trade (something) in

- to exchange something old or used for something new

My friend traded in his old car for a new one.

trade on (something)

- to use a fact or a situation to one's advantage

The woman trades on her beauty and never works very hard.

train one's sights on (something)

- to have something as a goal, to direct something or oneself toward a goal

The young man is training his sights on joining the top team in the city.

travel light

- to travel with very little luggage

We always travel light when we go on a holiday.

travesty of justice

- an act of the legal system that is an insult to the system of justice

The court trial was a travesty of justice and nobody was happy with the results.

tread on (someone`s) toes

- to do something that interferes with or offends someone else

I do not want to tread on my supervisor's toes because he is not in a good mood today.

treat (someone)

- to pay for someone else

My friend treated me to a dinner at a nice restaurant.

treat (someone) with kid gloves

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

I treat my friend with kid gloves because she is very sensitive.

trial and error

- a way of solving a problem by trying different possible solutions until you find one that works

We worked by trial and error until we found a solution to the parking problems at our apartment building.

trial balloon

- an announcement or experiment with the purpose of finding out what people think about an idea or product

We sent up a trial balloon to see who would support our plan for the new product.

trials and tribulations

- problems and tests of one's courage and perseverance

My aunt has gone through many trials and tribulations in her life.

tricks of the trade

- a smart or quick or skillful way of doing something, methods that help you to do a job better or faster

The man knows many tricks of the trade in the publishing business.

My father plans to show me the tricks of the trade in his business.

trick (someone) into (doing something)

- to fool someone, to cheat someone

The salesman tricked the customer into buying something that he did not need.


- tested by time and proven to be sound

I know a tried-and-true method to remove stains from a carpet.

trigger off (something) or trigger (something) off

- to cause something

The fire triggered off an explosion in the building.

trim the fat

- to make reductions in a company or organization in order to save money

The company is trying hard to trim the fat in its operations.

trip over (something)

- to fall or almost fall from hitting something with your feet

I almost tripped over the box in the hall.

The woman will sometimes trip over her cat when the cat is sleeping on the floor.

The elderly man tripped over a hole in the sidewalk.

trip the light fantastic

- to go dancing

"It`s Friday night so let`s go downtown and trip the light fantastic."

trip up

- to make a mistake

The teacher tripped up over the correct pronunciation of the man`s name.

trip up (someone) or trip (someone) up

- to cause someone to fail, to cause someone to make a mistake

The news reporter tripped up the politician with his difficult question.

trot (something) out or trot out (something)

- to mention something without giving it much thought

When I talk with my friend she often trots out some of our previous problems.

trouble one's head about (someone or something)

- to worry about someone or something

I am not going to trouble my head about my sister's visit next week.

trouble oneself about (someone or something)

- to worry about someone or something

I wish that my mother would not trouble herself about my problems at work.

trouble (someone) for (something)

- to ask someone to give or lend you something

I do not like to trouble the manager for her time but sometimes I must.

trouble (someone) to (do something)

- to ask someone to do something

I had to trouble my neighbor to look after my dog again last week.

trouble (someone) with (something)

- to bother someone with something

I never like to trouble my teacher with my simple questions.

true love

- a genuine feeling of romantic love

It was true love for the young couple when they met at their company.

true to form

- exactly as expected, following the usual pattern

True to form, our teacher refused to accept our papers late.

true to one's word

- keeping one's promise

My friend was true to his word and was waiting for me exactly at the time that we had agreed upon.

trump card

- something that is kept back to be used to win success if other things do not work

The man's trump card was his knowledge of the sales figures that nobody else knew.

trump up (something) or trump (something) up

- to make something up, to invent false charges

The man was arrested on trumped up charges for selling illegal software.

truth will out

- eventually the truth will become known

I know that eventually the truth will out and we will know exactly what happened at the meeting.

Try Idioms

try for (something)

- to attempt to win something, to try to get something

The man plans to try for a new job in his company.

try on (something) or try (something) on

- to put clothes on to see how they fit and look

"You should try on that jacket before you buy it."

try one`s hand at (something)

- to make an (inexperienced) attempt at something

I have decided to try my hand at sailing this summer.

try one's luck at (something)

- to try to do something (where success depends on luck)

I will try my luck at buying a lottery ticket although I usually never win.

try (out) one's wings

- to try to do something that one has recently become qualified to do

I am planning to try out my wings with my roller blades on Saturday.

try out (something) or try (something) out

- to test something

We were not permitted to try out the computer before we bought it.

try out for (something)

- to attempt to join or take part in a team or a play etc.

My friend has decided to try out for the football team this summer.

try (someone's) patience

- to do something annoying that may cause someone to lose patience

The constant complaints of the customers are beginning to try the clerk's patience.

try (something) out on (someone) or try out (something) on (someone)

- to test something on someone

I plan to try out the new recipe on my friends.

tuck into (something)

- to eat something with hunger and enjoyment

I tucked into the meal as soon as I sat down at the table.


- a game in which two teams pull on opposite ends of a rope and try to pull the other team over a line marked on the ground

The children played tug-of-war at the summer camp.


- a situation in which two sides try to defeat each other, a struggle over something

The two countries are involved in a tug-of-war over the disputed territory.

tune in to (a radio or television)

- to adjust a radio or television to pick up a certain station or signal

We were able to tune in to the basketball game while driving to work this morning.

tune in to (something)

- to pay attention to something

The young woman is tuned in to all of the latest fashions.

The woman works hard to tune in to her feelings.

tune out (someone or something) or tune (someone or something) out

- to ignore someone or something

I usually tune out my friend when he talks too much.

tune up (a musical instrument) or tune (a musical instrument) up

- to adjust a musical instrument to the right sound

The orchestra tuned up their instruments before the performance.

tune up (an engine) or tune (an engine) up

- to adjust a car engine so that it will run properly

We took our car to the garage to tune it up before we went on our holiday.

Turn Idioms

turn a blind eye to (something)

- to ignore something troublesome and pretend not to see it

Our teacher usually turns a blind eye to the fact that the student often comes to school a few minutes late.

turn a deaf ear to (someone or something)

- to pretend not to hear someone or something, to refuse to hear someone or something

The company turned a deaf ear to the demands for more vacation time by the employees.

turn a profit

- to make a profit

The supermarket has been turning a profit since it opened.

turn around

- to move or face in the opposite direction

The man turned around to look at the person behind him.

turn down (someone or something) or turn (someone or something) down

- to refuse to accept someone or something, to reject someone or something

The union turned down the offer of more money from the company.

turn down (something) or turn (something) down

- to reduce the loudness or brightness or force of something

I talked to my neighbor and asked him to turn down his stereo.

turn in

- to go to bed

We decided to turn in early last night.

turn in (someone) or turn (someone) in

- to inform on someone, to report someone for doing something wrong or illegal

The department store turned in the shoplifter to the police.

turn in (something) or turn (something) in

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

I turned in the wallet that I found to the police.

turn into (something)

- to become something, to change into something

The boy turned into a very fine young man.

The rain caused the dirt to turn into mud.

The horse turned into a dragon in the movie.

turn of the century

- the end of one century and the beginning of another

There were many large celebrations at the turn of the century.

turn off (someone) or turn (someone) off

- to disgust or irritate or repel someone

The woman's constant complaining turns me off.

turn off (something) or turn (something) off

- to shut off something, to stop something

"Please turn off the lights before you go out."

turn off (somewhere)

- to leave a road or path by turning right or left onto another road or path

When we arrived at the small store we turned off onto the small road.

turn on a dime

- to turn quickly or in a very tight turn

The new truck is able to turn on a dime.

turn on a dime

- to change one's plans or orientation

I did not take the job in the city because my life cannot turn on a dime.

turn on one`s heel

- to turn around suddenly

The letter carrier turned on his heel when he saw the large dog.

turn on (someone)

- to suddenly become hostile to someone

My coworker used to be my friend but he suddenly turned on me last summer.

turn on (something)

- to open or start something, to let water or electricity flow

"Please turn on the radio so we can hear the evening news."

turn one`s back on (someone)

- to refuse to help someone who is in trouble or is in need

The girl turned her back on her friend when her friend asked for help.

turn one`s stomach

- to make one feel sick

The moving car turned my stomach.

turn out

- to be shown to be something, to prove to be true

It turned out that more people came to the party than we expected.

turn out

- to become or result

The cake turned out well.

The boy turned out well when he was an adult.

turn out

- to see or do something

More than 50,000 people turned out for the concert.

turn out (a light)

- to make a light go out

I always turn out the light if I do not need it.

turn out all right

- to end satisfactorily

Everything at the party turned out all right.

turn out fine

- to end satisfactorily

We thought that the weather would be terrible but it turned out fine.

turn out good

- to end satisfactorily

The cake turned out good. It was delicious.

turn out (someone) or turn (someone) out

- to make someone leave or go away

The man decided to turn his son out of the house when he refused to get a job.

turn out (something) or turn (something) out

- to turn something inside out, to empty something

The man turned out his pockets when he was looking for his car keys.

turn out (something) or turn (something) out

- to make or produce a product or something

The car company turns out 8,000 cars every week.

turn over

- to roll over

The boat turned over during the storm.

turn over

- to sell

We were able to turn over most of our stock of fans during the summer.

turn over

- to start (used for a motor)

It was very cold and the motor would not turn over.

turn over a new leaf

- to make a fresh start

I will turn over a new leaf and begin to practice the piano every day.

turn over (an engine)

- to start an engine or motor

It was very cold in the morning so the car engine would not turn over easily.

turn over in one`s grave

- to be so angry that one does not rest quietly in one`s grave

My grandmother would turn over in her grave if she knew that I was not working.

turn over (something) to (someone) or turn (something) over to (someone)

- to give something to someone for his or her use or care

I turned over my apartment keys to the landlord when I went away for a month.

turn (someone) on or turn on (someone)

- to excite a person, an idea or person or something begins to interest someone

The idea of going to Spain for the summer turns my friend on.

turn (something) on its ear

- to change some activity in a surprising and exciting way

The new manager turned the office on its ear when he began to work in our department.

turn (something) to good account

- to make good use of a situation or experience

We were able to turn our experience with the income tax office to good account when we began to look at our business practices.

turn (something) to one's advantage

- to make an advantage for oneself out of something

The man was able to turn his previous job experience to his advantage in his new job.

turn tail

- to run away from trouble or danger

The young boys turned tail when the farmer began to chase them from the field.

turn the clock back

- to return to an earlier period

The politician wanted to turn the clock back to an earlier time but everyone knew it was impossible.

turn the heat up on (someone)

- to increase the pressure on someone to do something

The police are turning the heat up on the members of the criminal gang.

turn the other cheek

- to let someone do something to you and not try to get revenge or become angry

The man decided to turn the other cheek when someone tried to fight with him in the restaurant.

turn the tables on (someone)

- to reverse the situation for someone

The opposing team was able to turn the tables and win the game.

turn the tide

- to change a situation or people's opinions to the opposite of what they were before

At the beginning of the game we were losing but we turned the tide and won the game.

The political party was able to turn the tide and win the election.

turn the trick

- to bring about the result that one wants, to succeed in what one plans to do

"That will turn the trick," I said as my friend found the correct tool to fix the kitchen sink.

turn thumbs down on (someone or something)

- to disapprove or reject someone or something, to say no to someone or something

My supervisor turned thumbs down on my desire to have a more flexible schedule.

turn to (someone or something)

- to go to someone or something for help

We turned to my wife`s parents for advice about buying a house.

turn up

- to appear suddenly

The girls turned up when the party was almost over.

turn up

- to be found, to be discovered

My wallet turned up in my jacket exactly where I had left it.

turn up one`s nose at (something)

- to refuse something because it is not good enough

My friend turned up his nose at the job offer in another department of his company.

twiddle one`s thumbs

- to not be busy, to not be working

We twiddled our thumbs all morning and did not get any work done.

twist (someone`s) arm

- to force or threaten someone to make them do something

My friend did not have to twist my arm to get me to go to the movie. I wanted to go anyway.

twist (someone) around one`s (little) finger

- to have complete control over someone and be able to make them do what you want

The woman is able to twist her supervisor around her little finger. She gets whatever she wants at work.

twist (someone's) words around

- to restate someone's words inaccurately when quoting him or her

The supervisor twisted my words around when he repeated my complaint to the manager.

two bits

- twenty-five cents, a quarter of a dollar

I bought several used books for two bits each.

two bricks shy of a load

- someone who is not very smart or clever

The young man is two bricks shy of a load and is very difficult to talk to.

two by two

- one person beside or next to another person

The children walked into the classroom two by two.

two cents

- something not important, something very small

Although my friend's stereo works well I would not give him two cents for it.

two cents worth

- an opinion (that is not asked for)

My friend is always talking and I never have a chance to put in my two cents worth.


- disloyal, untrustworthy

I think that our supervisor is two-faced and cannot be trusted.

two of a kind

- people or things of the same type, similar in character or attitude etc.

The young girls are two of a kind and they do almost everything together.

two strikes against (someone)

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

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

two-time (someone)

- to cheat or betray one's spouse or partner by dating someone else

The woman in the movie was two-timing her husband.