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A problem shared is a problem halved

Talk about your problems and you will feel better

Abide by a decision

If you abide by a decision, you accept it and comply with it, even though you might disagree with it

Add fuel to the fire (flames)

Make a bad situation worse

Air one's dirty laundry in public

Talk about private affairs in public

Alive and kicking

Active and doing well

Apple of one's eye

Something or someone that is very special to you is the apple of your eye

Around the clock

Something open around the clock is open 24h a day

As good as new

Something that has been used but is still in very good condition is as good as new

At a loss


At the top of the list

If something is at the top of the list, it is most important

Bad egg # Good egg

A person who cannot be trusted is a bad egg

Barking up the wrong tree

If you are…, you are totally wrong

Be all ears

If you are…, you are very eager to hear what someone has to say

Behind someone's back

If you do something…, you do it without telling them

Behind the times

Someone that is behind the times is old-fashioned

Better late than never

Doing something late is better than not doing it at all

Between a rock and a hard place

In a position where you have to choose between unpleasant alternatives

Big fish

A… is an important person in an organization

Big nose

If someone has a big nose, it means they are interested in everyone else's business

Bite someone's head off

Criticize them angrily

Blink of an eye

If something happens in the…, it happens so fast it is almost impossible to notice it

Break one's heart

If someone causes you great sadness, they break your heart, especially if they end a relationship

Breathe one's last

When someone breathes his last, he dies

Bridge the gap

If you bridge the gap, you make a connection where there is a great difference

By and large

usually or generally

By hook or by crook

By any means, good or bad

Call a spade a spade

A person who calls a spade a spade is one who speaks frankly and makes no attempt to hide their opinions

Cast doubt on

If you make other people not sure about a matter, then you have cast doubt on it

Cheap as chips

(UK) If something is very inexpensive, it is as…

Clear as mud

If something is…, then it is very unclear

Cloud on the horizon

If you can see a problem ahead, you can call it a…

Cold shoulder

If you give someone the cold shoulder, you ignore him

Come what may

If you're prepared to do something come what may, it means that nothing will stop or distract you, no matter how hard or difficult it becomes

Cook someone's goose

If you…, you ruin their plans

Cuts no ice

If something cuts no ice, it doesn't have any effect

Deep pockets

If someone has deep pockets, they are wealthy

Dish the dirt

If you dish the dirt on something or someone, you make unpleasant or shocking information public

Don't push my buttons!

Say this to someone who is starting to annoy you

Double-edged sword

If someone uses an argument that could both help them and harm them, then they are using a…


Someone who's… is practical and realistic. It can also be used for things like ideas

Dress someone down

If you dress someone down, you scold them

Dress to kill

Dress very smartly

Drop in the ocean

A drop in the ocean implies that something will have little effect because it is small and mostly insignificant

Each to their own

Different people have different preferences

Earn a living

Make money to live off

Easy as ABC Or Easy as beans

Very easy

Easy come, easy go

Gains that come without much effort tend to get spent or consumed as easily

Explore all avenues        Or                              Leave no avenue unexplored

Try every possible approach to get the desired result

Eye for an eye

This is an expression for retributive justice, where the punishment equals the crime

Fat cat

a person who makes a lot of money and enjoys a high position in society

Feast today, famine tomorrow

If you indulge yourself with all that you have today, you may have to go without tomorrow

Fed up to the back teeth

extremely irritated and fed up with something or someone

Feel at home

If you feel relaxed and comfortable somewhere or with someone, you feel at home

First come, first served

Who arrives first gets the best service

Fish in troubled waters

Someone who fishes in troubled waters tries to takes advantage of a shaky or unstable situation

Fish out of water

If you are in a situation that is completely new to you and confuses you, you are like a fish out of water

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me

It means that you should learn from your mistakes and not allow people to take advantage of you repeatedly

From a different angle

From a different point of view

Full of beans

Very energetic

Full of oneself

Arrogant or selfish

Get away with murder

If you get away with murder, you do something bad and don't get caught or punished

Get on one's nerves

Annoy or irritate

Get the axe

If you get the axe, you lose your job.  (Get the ax is the American spelling.)

Get the green light

Get the necessary permission

Get the picture

If you get the picture, you understand a situation fully

Give (Lend)  a hand


Give someone a piece of your mind

If you give someone a piece of your mind, you criticize them strongly and angrily

Go south

If things go south, they get worse or go wrong

Go the distance

If you go the distance, you continue until something ends, no matter how difficult

Good shape

If something's in good shape, it's in good condition. If a person's in good shape, they are fit and healthy


A half-baked idea hasn't not been thought through or planned very well

Haste makes waste

If you do something quickly without planning, you're likely to end up spending more time, money doing it

Have a go

If you have a go, you try to do something, often when you don't think you have much chance of succeeding

Have the guts

Have enough courage to do something

Make head nor tail of

cannot understand


A headstrong person is obstinate and does not take other people's advice readily

Healthy as a horse

Very healthy


Frank and honest


If someone is…, they are insensitive and use excessive force or authority when dealing with a problem


If someone is high-handed, they behave arrogantly

Here today, gone tomorrow

Money, happiness and other desirable things don't last for very long

Hit the bull's eye

If someone hits the bull's-eye, they are exactly right about something or achieve the best result possible

Hit the ceiling (roof)

If someone hits the ceiling, they are very angry

Hit the nail on the head

If someone hits the nail on the head, they are exactly right about something

Hot under the collar

Feeling angry


Someone who is hot-blooded is easily excitable


A hot-headed person gets angry very easily

How come

If you want to show disbelief or surprise about an action, you can say…

Ill-gotten gains

Ill-gotten gains are profits or benefits that are made either illegally or unfairly

In a fix

In trouble

In a fog

If you're in a fog, you are confused or unaware

In a jam

In trouble

In a tight spot

In a difficult situation

In donkey's years

For a very long time

In high spirits

in a very good mood or feeling confident about something

In hot water

In serious trouble

In the driver's seat

If you are in the driver's seat, you are in charge of something or in control of a situation

In the long run

Over a long period of time

In the short run

This refers to the immediate future

In the same boat

In the same predicament or trouble

In the soup

In trouble

In the swim

If you are in the swim, you are up-to-date with and fully informed about something

In turn

One after the other. Example: She spoke to each of the guests in turn

It costs an arm and a leg

Very expensive

It costs the earth

Very expensive

Ivory tower

People who live in ivory towers are detached from the world around them

Jump to a conclusion

Evaluate or judge something without a sufficient examination of the facts

Just in the nick of time

If you do something in the nick of time, you just manage to do it just in time, with seconds to spare

Keep abreast

If you keep abreast of things, you stay informed about developments

Keep in touch

If you…with someone, you keep communicating with them even if you may live far apart

Keep it under your hat

Keep it secret

Kick a habit

stop doing it

Left in the dark

If you are left in the dark about something, you aren't given the information that you should have

Let your hair down


Like father, like son

This is said when different generations of a family behave in the same way

Like it or lump it

Accept the situation because it isn't going to change

Lion's share

The lion's share of something is the biggest or best part

Lose face

Feel ashamed

Low-hanging fruit

Low-hanging fruit are things that are easily achieved

Man of his word

A man of his word is a person who does what he says and keeps his promises

Matter of life and death

If something is a…, it is extremely important

My hands are full

I have so much to do that I cannot take any more work

My way or the highway

This idiom is used to say that if people don't do what you say, they will have to leave or quit the project, etc

No pain, no gain

Achievements require some sort of sacrifice

No time like the present

It is far better to do something now than to leave it for later, in which case it might never get done

Nothing ventured, nothing gained

If you don't participate in something, you will not achieve anything

Now and then


Odds and ends

Odds and ends are small, remnant articles and things

Off the beaten track

Somewhere that's…is in a remote location

Off the hook

If someone is off the hook, they have avoided punishment or criticism for something they have done

On good terms

If people are…, they have a good relationship

On the tip of one's tongue

If a word is on the tip of your tongue, you know it, but you just can't quite remember it at the moment

Once bitten, twice shy

Someone who has been hurt or who has had something go wrong will be far more careful the next time

Out of hand

If something gets out of hand, it gets out of control

Out of sight, out of mind

someone will not think or worry about something if it isn't directly visible or available to them

Out of the frying pan, into the fire

If you get out of one problem, but find yourself in a worse situation, you are…

Over my dead body

If you say that something will happen…, you will not let it happen

Piece of cake

Very easy

Pour oil on troubled waters

Try to calm things down

Pros and cons

Pros and cons are arguments for (pros) or against (cons) a particular issue

Proud as a peacock

Excessively proud

Put you in the picture

If you put someone in the picture, you tell them the information they need to know about something

Put yourself in someone's shoes

If you put yourself in someone's shoes, you imagine what it is like to be in their position

Putting the cart before the horse

When you put the cart before the horse, you are doing something the wrong way round

Quitters never win; winners never quit

If you quit you will never get what you want, but if you keep trying you will find a way to get what you want

Raining cats and dogs

Raining very heavily

Rat race

The rat race is the ruthless, competitive struggle for success in work, etc

Real deal

If something is the real deal, it is genuine and good

Red tape

Official paperwork and bureaucracy that we have to deal with

Ride with the tide

Accept the majority decision

Rise from the ashes

Recover after a serious failure

Run around the bush

(USA) If you run around the bush, it means that you're taking a long time to get to the point

Run before you can walk

Try to do something requiring a high level of knowledge before they have learned the basics

Run into the sand

Fail to achieve a result

Save one's skin

If someone saves their skin, they manage to avoid getting into serious trouble

See eye to eye

If people see eye to eye, they agree about everything

Sell your soul

If someone sells their soul, their betray the most precious beliefs

Set in stone

Cannot be changed or altered

Shed light on

If you…something, you make it clearer and easier to understand

Sick to death

If you are… of something, you have been exposed to so much of it that you cannot take any more

Signed, sealed and delivered

If something's signed, sealed and delivered, it has been done correctly, following all the necessary procedures

Sink or swim

If you are left to sink or swim, no one gives you any help and it's up to you whether you fail or succeed

Slip of the tongue

If you say something accidentally, it is a…

Slow and steady wins the race

Consistency, although progress may be slow, will eventually be more beneficial than being hasty/careless

Slow but sure

If something or someone is slow but sure, they may take their time to do something, but they are reliable

Step on someone's toes

If you…, you upset them, especially if you do something that they should be in charge of

Still waters run deep

people who are quiet are often more interesting than people who do try to get attention

Stitch in time saves nine

If a job needs doing it is better to do it now, because it will only get worse, like a hole in clothes that requires stitching

Storm in a teacup

If someone exaggerates a problem or makes a small problem seem far greater than it really is, then they are making a storm in a teacup

Swim against the tide

Do something that is very difficult because there is a lot of opposition to you

Tackle an issue

you tackle an issue or problem, you deal with it

Take someone under your wing

Look after someone while they are learning something

Take the floor

Start talking or giving a speech to a group

Take the rough with the smooth

Be prepared to accept the disadvantages as well of the advantages of something

Take to your heels

Run away

Talk is cheap

It's easy to talk about something but harder to actually do it

That makes two of us

A speaker says "that makes two of us" to indicate agreement with what another speaker just said

The ball's in your court

It's up to you to decide or take the next step

Throw someone to the wolves

If someone is thrown to the wolves, they are abandoned and have to face trouble without any support

Tie the knot

Get married

Time flies

Time moves quickly and often unnoticed

Turn a blind eye


Turn a deaf ear

If someone turns… to you, they don't listen to you

Turn a new leaf

If someone turns a new leaf, they change their behavior and stop doing wrong or bad things

Twist someone's arm

Put Push them to do what you want them to do

Two heads are better than one

When two people work together more things get accomplished


Someone who is two-faced will say one thing to your face and another when you're not there

Upper hand

If you have the upper hand, you have the advantage

Wash your hands of something

If you…, you disassociate yourself and accept no responsibility for what will happen

Waste not, want not

Don't waste things and you won't end up lacking

Wet behind the ears

Someone who is.. is either very young or inexperienced

What's up?

What's wrong?

When in Rome, do as the Romans do

when you are visiting a different place or culture, you should try to follow their customs and practices

Where there's a will, there's a way

If people really want to do something, they will manage to find a way of doing it

Will never fly

If an idea will never fly, it has no chance of succeeding

You can say that again

If you want to agree strongly with what someone has said, you can say 'You can say…

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