The Complete Idiom Page



He really went to town on that issue:

Select the best answer

  1. Do you know what town he went to?
  2. What issue did he get in town?
  3. Does he really get intense on some subjects?
  4. Why would he go to town instead of the city?






Abbreviated piece of nothing:

This slang expression refers to someone who is considered to be insignificant or worthless.
Gary does not respect his next door neighbor.

He refers to him as ‘abbreviated piece of nothing‘.

Abide by: To follow rules, instructions, laws, guidelines or other requirements. Remain loyal or faithful to.

You must abide by the university rules to remain in school.

A bit: a minute or small amount of anything.  This could also relate to time, travel, and injury or physical characteristics.

We should arrive at grandmas as house in a bit.

Grandma’s house is just a bit further.


A bit much:

If something is excessive or annoying, it is a bit much.

A blessing in disguise

A problem or dilemma that turns out to be beneficial or a positive.

It’s a good thing you’re flat tire caused you to be late for work as the fire started shortly after we arrived and six people were taken to hospital.

About-turn / about-face

This term refers to a complete change of opinion or policy.

Harry once hated skinny women, but that changed when he met Robbie.

A bundle: a lot of money.

Her new Mercedes cost her a bundle.

A chip on your shoulder

A grudge or hard feelings from a bad experience that that occurred in the past. The grudge could involve an incident, person or subject.

Mary has a real chip on her shoulder about men ever since Gary broke up with her.

Actions speak louder than words

Instead of someone always talking about accomplishing something, they take action without speaking about it.

Often is used for someone who does a lot of talking and takes no action.  Someone who may be typically indecisive.

A dime a dozen

Means the person or the item is substandard, easily available.

           People like Joe are a dime a dozen, you just can’t count on them.

A doubting Thomas

Derived from the New Testament, refers to the Apostle Thomas, famous for asking questions and needing explanations to be convinced.

Gary is the typical doubting Thomas.  He doesn’t believe anyone’s golf scores until sees them play.

A drop in the ocean:

A very small part of something. The statement is used to put things into a perspective, generally as a proportionate statement.

          Their revenue is a drop in the ocean, compared to the debts.


Ace: and referred to in the past tense as, Aced: further, can be utilized for accomplishment in sports or other activities.

received an “A” on a test or a school project.

Someone said Gary aced the test.

          John is the ace of the pitching staff.



 All right: (1): reluctant agreement or acceptance

Come to the party with me. Please!

Oh, all right. I don’t want to, but I will.


All right: (2): fair, satisfactory, not very good.

How is your boat operating nowadays?

It seems to be working all right, but the motor needs a tune-up.


All right: (3): as it relates to health and physical condition.

Are you all right?  You look pale.

I’m feeling a little under the weather.

All right: (4): Very well.

If we don’t leave within the next five minutes will give away the surprise party for June.

All right, all right, let me grab my coat.

All right: (5) Certainty-verification or agreement

It’s raining cats and dogs, Jody told her boyfriend Tom.

Tom gazed out the window over her shoulder.  “That’s an understatement, it’s raining cats and dogs all right.”


And then some: considerable more than necessary

Gary’s new hot tub must’ve cost $10,000 or more.

         It cost that much and then some.


Antsy: restless; impatient and tired of waiting.

         I hope Andrew calls soon.. Just sitting here and not knowing is making me antsy.


As easy as pie: see, easy as pie

At the eleventh hour: at the last minute; almost too late. Just in time.

Yes, I got the work done in time. I finished it at the eleventh hour, but I wasn’t late.




 Bad-mouth: say or make, negative, unflattering things about someone.  Intentionally malign someone.

Donna is always bad-mouthing everyone when they’re not around to defend themselves.


Break a leg: Good luck

       Good luck at the kayak race on Saturday.  Break a leg.

Break someone’s heart:

Not necessarily breaking someone’s heart as it pertains to love.  Phrasing could be somewhat differently such as; he broke his father’s heart when he quit his accounting job to become a fulltime musician.

Generally used when someone is disappointed dist please, or disconcerted with someone else’s effort or action.

Broke: flat broke

Lacking sufficient funds.

       Gary spent so much money at the casino that he was broke when he left.


Buck(s): dollars, money

When I get a few bucks, I’m going to replace my television would a flat screen model.


Bug: annoy; bother or irritate someone


       Don’t bug me; I’m trying to study for a test tomorrow.


A bundle: a lot of money.

Her new Mercedes cost her a bundle.


By the skin of one’s teeth: barely succeed in doing something.

I’ll have to start earlier the next time. This time I only finished by the skin of my teeth.”


Carry the day: prevail, win, fill in, make up the load or work

When Gerard twisted his ankle in the first quarter, Alex came in and carried the day.

Come home to roost: When someone makes evil or negative statements or takes similar actions, and as a result of same they are negatively impacted, then the chickens have come home to roost.

       Charlie complained incessantly about other employees to everyone who would listen. The other day, he was fired for being disruptive so his actions have come home to roost.

      Origin: this phrase has its origin in the 19th century when used as a motto on the title page of Robert Southey’s poem The Curse of Kehama, 1810:

“Curses are like young chicken: they always come home to roost.”




 Dog it: performing or doing something less than necessary or required to complete an assignment, job or other task; someone who shrieks responsibility or is lazy; (2) sometimes utilized to indicate, “let’s move on or get out of here.”

Charlie always dogs it and keeps the rest of us working longer than necessary to pick up the slack.

(2) Let’s dog it out of here before a riot erupts.

       Origin: The first appeared in the 1920s as a description denoting “leaving in a cowardly fashion.” The current and most common utilization of the phrase has its roots in the 1930s.

The phrase or idiom, “put on the dog,” has the same meaning or interpretation.

Don’t give up the day job:
You are not very good at playing the piano. I do not believe you can do it professionally.
You are a very good guitar player, but don’t give up that day job.


 Eagle eye: having excellent or keen eyesight; a person with eagle eyes, can see things others may not such as construction flaws, quality gems, and an array of other material items.

Dominick is one of the best detectives on the force.  He has an eagle eye at a crime scene like no one else.

Every nook and cranny- Nook and cranny


Face down: when one or two individuals try to intimidate, stare down or confront another person.  To boldly confront someone.

Joe decided to face down his wife over her numerous affairs.


 Get away with murder: an individual is said to get away with murder when they take actions that are on acceptable, act incorrectly or don’t perform in the workplace, without retribution or punishment. People that get away with murder typically do not face any negative consequences.

Larry always cheated on his tests and got away with murder by never getting caught.


Hard pressed: burdened, stressed, or under considerable pressure; the situation or matter at and is typically urgent:

Joe was hard-pressed for time as he had only three days remaining until he must submit his financial report to management.

We are (so) hard-pressed this year because of the financial condition. In this sentence, one does not need to utilize the word “so” in ordered the stress “hard-pressed.” The phrase itself emphasizes the circumstances without additional aids.


 Ice Queen:

        A woman generally considered to be unapproachable, cold and unresponsive to advances of any kind.

       Tom will soon conclude that Mary is really not affectionate, but the ultimate ice queen.


Jazz up: to make improvements and in finance someone or an object; many times this idiom is utilized in the past tense such as jazzed up;

Gary really jazzed up the restaurant with the renovation.

Ralph scanned, from head to toe as he approached. “Wow,” Ralph barked. Those threads you’re wearing must really jazz up your wardrobe.”


King’s ransom: A substantial amount of money.

Nowadays, auto insurance cost as much as a king’s ransom

King of the castle: A king of the castle is typically referred to as the head of the household. The phrase can also be utilized to describe someone who is at the top of their professions, business or game.

When it comes to our awfully, John is the king of the castle.

       There is no doubt about it; George’s wife is the king of the castle.


 Last Resort: when all other efforts to obtain an end have failed, you might take one last action as the last resort. You are desperate and nothing has worked to solve a dilemma and therefore you make one final attempt as a last resort. This term dates back to the 16th century and originally referred to a court of law from which there was no appeal.

Santina, could not locate an available hotel room in New York for the New Year’s celebration. As a last resort, she booked a room in neighboring New Jersey.


 Make the cut:  If you make the cut, you reach a required standard or succeed in
passing from one round of a competition to another. (Utilized in the game of golf)
“After seven attempts, Harry made the cut and was able to continue in the golf tournament”

Joe did not make the cut and therefore never did play for the high school basketball team.




 Name of the game: the main part of a matter, the main point. The most basic essential point.

The name of the game is still when and nothing else”, Gary told his team

No fixed abode: A person of no fixed abode has a permanent place to live.
The lady who sits in the stairwell of my office building has no fixed abode.

Nook and cranny: This phrase is typically utilized to indicate a search of every possible location for an item has been conducted.

Tom and I searched every nook and cranny of the house but could not find the prescription.

Origin:  nook is from a Scottish term noting an interior angle formed by two meeting walls (2) secluded or sheltered place or part (3) a small often recessed section of a larger room

                    Cranny is defined as definition- a small break or slit: crevice (2) an obscure nook or corner.  The individual words in this phrase are rarely used separately. As individual words, nook and cranny date back to the 13th and 14th century respectively. The words were first Jews together, as an idiomatic phrase in 1836.



 Off the record: If something is said off the record, this means the statement should not be repeated publicly or to anyone else. The phrase is utilized by many officials dealing with the media when making statements they do not want published or stated in any other form of the media. The phrase is also spoken to an individual the statement maker feels confident that his words will not be repeated.

Julie told me several things off the record concerning one of the Hallandale Beach commissioners.



 Paddle one’s own canoe: To paddle your own canoe, means you typically make your own decisions and operate independently without interference from anyone.

Mike paddles his own canoe. He could care less what the rest of the group wants to do.

Put on the dog: see- Dog it

 Quick buck: If you make money quickly and easily, you make a quick buck.  Making money quickly without much effort

Randolph is a stock market whiz and is always making a quick buck.


Rain or shine: An event, activity or other situation will continue whether it rains or the sun is shining brightly.

Mary told me, she’s going to the beach tomorrow, rain or shine.



  Swing for the fences: (baseball) when you swing for the fences, you are going all out with maximum effort; giving it everything you’ve have.

Every time Edwin stepped to the plate, he would swing for the fences.

  In safe hands: If something is in safe (or good) hands, it is being looked after by
a reliable person or organization, and is therefore at no risk.

If the ladies are going camping and Jeff is there, they’ll be in safe hands.

 Tables have turned: When the tables are turned, the conditions have changed giving the advantage to the party who had previously been at a disadvantage.  A reversal of fortune.

Gary knew the tables had turned when the wind shifted into his sails.


 Up for grabs: Available for anyone to try to get; not specifically allocated to anyone or anything but available through competition or some other method.

Mr. Jones told me the five new management trainee positions are up for grabs.


 Vent your spleen:  to rid oneself of angry emotions or feelings; release or express all your anger
about something or somebody.

Mary called Judy to vent her spleen about her husband.

Origin: The spleen is an organ in the body near the stomach. In European medicine from the Middle Ages until the nineteenth century, the spleen was thought to be the source of the “humours” that caused the emotion of anger. Therefore one could expel anger by “venting the spleen”. reference

 Water off a ducks back: being capable of accepting criticism and negative comments;

Joy isn’t bothered by anything. She accepts criticism like water off a ducks back.


 The X factor: when someone has the X factor, they have an unexplained ability or appeal; a characteristic or trait leading an individual to excel but yet cannot be defined or explained. The X factor cannot be taught; an individual user has it or doesn’t have it.

Jeff must have the X factor as he excels at anything he undertakes.

 X marks the spot: The mark shows the exact location; the exact location.

David studied the map and saw where X marked the spot where Burlingame Kansas was located.

Origin: This term was first used in 1813.


 Yakety-yak: a person that talks continually about nothing or gibberish.

Kathy can yakety-yak for hours without coming up for a breath of air.


 Zero in on something: to direct one’s full attention and concentration on the specific matter, item or subject at hand; also, used to describe zeroing in on a target; the target can be an actual target at a shooting range or while hunting or on a specific matter.

John raised the rifle and zeroed in on the target 300 feet away.

Coach Randolph told us that we were going to zero in on our batting in order to make substantial improvements.



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