XYZ Idioms and Quiz

XYZ Idiom Quiz

Letter XYZ

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

1. We have been going to that restaurant (every year) since I was a child.
a)   at zero hour
b)   year round
c)   year in and year out
d)   to zonk out

2. The fact that the woman could not leave her apartment was a (burden for her).
a)   yellow streak for her
b)   yoke around her neck
c)   yes-man for her
d)   zero-sum game

3. I told my business partner that (if he will do me a favor, I will do him a favor).
a)   you can't take it with you
b)   his secret was safe with me
c)   you can't teach an old dog new tricks
d)   if he will scratch my back I will scratch his back

Your score is: ___  out of 3

X Idioms

Letter X

the X factor

- a special talent or quality, an unknown factor that could change the result of something

The student is the X factor on his team and he is an important player.

The singer has the X factor which makes her very popular.

X marks the spot

- this is the exact spot

We looked at the map and saw that X marked the spot where the accident had taken place.

Y Idioms

Letter Y


- a lot of talk about little things

We spent the whole evening in a yakety-yak session at my friends.

year after year

- for many years, one year after another

We went to the lake year after year when I was a child.

year in and year out

- every year

Year in and year out the city must spend money to fix the old stadium.

year round

- during the entire year

We usually spend the summer at a year-round vacation resort.


- extremely timid, cowardly

The man is a yellow-bellied person who is not good to have as a friend.

yellow journalism

- overly sensational newspaper writing

The newspaper story about the scandal was a good example of yellow journalism.

yellow streak

- cowardice in a person`s character

The boy has a yellow streak and will not help defend his friends.

a yes-man

- a person who tries to be liked by agreeing with everything someone says (especially his or her boss)

He is a yes-man who will do anything that his boss asks him to do.

yield the right-of-way

- to give the right to turn or move to another vehicle

We were forced to yield the right-of-way to the other car at the intersection.

yoke around someone's neck

- a burden for someone

The complaints from the apartment manager were a yoke around our neck.

You bet!

- most certainly, without any doubt

"You bet I will be attending the conference next year."

You bet your boots!

- most certainly, without any doubt

"You bet your boots I am going to go."

You bet your life!

- most certainly, without any doubt

"You bet your life I will be attending the conference next year."

you can lead/take a horse to water but you can't make him drink

- you can give someone the opportunity to do something but you can't get him or her to do it if they do not want to

The woman took her children to the park but they were not interested in playing in the playground. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.

You can say that again!

- that's true, you're right (used to show strong agreement with what another person has said)

"You can say that again," I answered when the woman mentioned how hot it was outside.

you can't judge a book by its cover

- you cannot judge something by how it looks on the outside

The man looked very poor but actually he was very rich. You can't judge a book by its cover.

you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs

- it is difficult to do or achieve something important without causing some unpleasant effects or destroying something

Unfortunately, the company will have to cut some jobs in order to improve their performance. But, as they say, you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.

You can't please everyone.

- it is not possible to make everyone happy

You can't please everyone and somebody in the class was always unhappy with what the teacher chose to do.

You can't take it with you.

- you should use your money and enjoy life now because when you die it is no good

You can't take it with you and you should enjoy your money and life while you have the chance.

you can't teach an old dog new tricks

- you cannot easily make people change their usual habits, when people have been doing something for a long time it is difficult for them to change

You can't teach an old dog new tricks and I do not think that my father will ever change his eating habits.

You don`t say!

- used to show surprise at what is said

"You don`t say," the man said when he heard about the accident on the highway.

You got me there.

- I don't know the answer to your question.

"You got me there. What do you think the answer is?"

you make your bed and you must lie on it

- you will suffer the results of your own actions, you are responsible for your actions

The man refused to wear his rubber boots when he went out in the rain. Now he must spend the day wearing wet clothes. He made his bed and now he must lie on it.

you never can tell

- you can never know something for certain

"The reviews say that the restaurant is very good. It was terrible. You never can tell with restaurant reviews."

"The young man went to a great school but he did terrible. You never can tell."

You said it!

- that's true, you're right (used to show strong agreement with what another person has said)

a) "This meeting is wasting everybody's time."

b) "You said it!"

You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.

- if you will do me a favor then I will do you a favor

"You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours," is a common expression in the construction industry.

You`re telling me!

- something is so clear that it does not need to be said

a) "This restaurant is very expensive and the food is not good."

b) "You`re telling me."

Your guess is as good as mine.

- your guess or answer is as likely to be correct as mine

"Your guess is as good as mine," I answered when my friend asked me how to use the video player.

Your secret is safe with me.

- I won't tell anyone your secret

"Your secret is safe with me," I told my friend when he told me his problem.

yours truly

- oneself, I, me, myself

I told my friend that if he wanted to borrow some money he could talk to yours truly.

yours truly

- a polite phrase to end a letter

I usually end my letters with "Yours sincerely" but sometimes I use "Yours truly."

You tell`em!

- used to agree with or encourage someone in what they are saying

"You tell`em," I yelled to the politician who was making the speech.

Z Idioms

Letter Z

zero hour

- the time when an important decision or event is supposed to occur

We waited until zero hour and the time when the new computer system was supposed to begin operating.

zero hour

- the exact time when an attack or other military action will start

The air force planes waited until zero hour in order to begin their bombing mission.

zero in on

- to adjust a gun so that it will hit a target, to aim at something

The soldiers zeroed in on the target and began to fire their guns.

zero in on

- to give one`s full attention to something

We zeroed in on the problem of what to do with the extra space in our office.

zero-sum game

- a situation where if one person or organization wins or gains something then the other person or organization must lose

It is a zero-sum game with the manager. Someone has to win or lose.

zip one's lip

- to not talk, to not tell a secret

I told my friend to zip his lip and stop arguing with me.

zonk out

- to fall asleep very quickly

When I got home last night I immediately zonked out.

zoom in on (someone or something)

- to use a zoom lens to get a closer view of someone or something when taking a photograph

The cameraman zoomed in on the players on the field.