A Huge Collection Of Idioms!(a To Z)

  • Work-from-home


*In search of Oyster Pearls*
Dec 31, 2009
A n3st!

About to do something
- On the point of doing something

She was about to leave when the phone rang.

About time
- Something that should have happened earlier
It is about time that you returned that book to me.

- Forgetful
My grandfather is very absent-minded and often forgets his key.

According to Hoyle
- Strictly by the rules, the usual and correct way to do something
According to Hoyle you are not allowed to enter this room but if nobody is here I think it will be okay.

Add up
- seem consistent or reasonable
The things that he said about his boss don’t really add up.

Ahead of time
- Early
We started the meeting ahead of time so we could go home early.

air one’s dirty laundry (linen) in public
- make public something embarrassing that should be kept secret
The dinner party became uncomfortable when the host began to air his colleagues' dirty laundry in public.

All along
- all the time
I knew all along that he would not get the promotion.

all at once
- suddenly, without warning
All at once the fire alarm rang so we had to leave the building.

all day long
- the whole day
She has been sitting and waiting for the mail to arrive all day long.

all ears
- eager to listen to someone
Okay, I`m all ears, please tell me about the party.

all in all
- in summary, after considering everything
We had a few problems but all in all the meeting was successful.

all of a sudden
- suddenly, without advance warning
All of a sudden it became cloudy and began to rain.

all right
- okay, satisfactory
She said that it would be all right for me to bring my friend to the party.

all the time
- continually
She asks for money all the time but I don’t like to give it to her.

all thumbs
- have difficulty fixing things or working with one’s hands, clumsy
He is all thumbs when it comes to fixing things around the house.

an arm and a leg

- (cost) a large amount of money
His new car must have cost him an arm and a leg.

Apple of one’s eye
- One’s favorite
His youngest daughter is the apple of his eye.

As a rule
- Usually, as a habit
As a rule I usually get up at 7
0 AM every morning.

As far as
- To the extent or degree that
As far as I know he will be here in a few minutes.

ask for trouble
- behave in a way that trouble is likely
He is asking for trouble if he misses another class.

Asleep at the switch
- Not alert to an opportunity
I think he was asleep at the switch. He didn’t even know that the job was available so he never applied for it.

As long as
- Provided that, on condition that
As long as you promise to be careful you can borrow my car.

As the crow flies
- By the most direct way, along a straight line between two places
As the crow flies it is about 6 kilometers between my house and my company.

As usual
- Most of the time, as is the custom
As usual, she forgot to bring her book to class.

As well as
- In addition to
Please bring your swimming suit as well as your towel.

As yet
- Until now, up to the present
As yet, she has not told me about her plans to leave the company.

At cross purposes
- have opposite ways to do something, opposing goals
They are at cross purposes and are always arguing about what to do.

At fault
- be responsible or to blame for something
The truck driver was at fault in the terrible accident.

at first
- At the beginning
At first she didn`t want to go to a movie but later she changed her mind.

At first blush
- When first seen, without careful study
At first blush he seemed like a good worker but later we had many problems with him.

At heart
- Basically, fundamentally
She is a very nice person at heart although many people dislike her.

at home
- in one’s house
I’m sorry but I left my money at home. Can you lend me some money?

At last
- Finally, after a long time
I was waiting all morning for her call but at last it came.

at loggerheads
- having a quarrel, opposing each other
We have been at loggerheads over their plans to build a new office complex.

at odds
- in disagreement
He has been at odds with his boss over the new sales territory.

at someone’s beck and call
- Always ready to serve somebody
His eldest daughter is always at his beck and call when he spends an evening at home.

at the end of one’s rope
- at the limit of one’s ability to cope
I am at the end of my rope about what to do about my current situation at work.

Attend to someone
- take care or deal with someone
The doctor attended to the other patient before he got to my mother

B................................................. .....................

back on one’s feet
- Return to good financial or physical health
He is finally backed on his feet after his company went out of business.

Back out
- withdraw from an agreement or promise
The company backed out of the deal with the foreign firm.

Back to the drawing board
- go back to start a project or idea from the beginning
The boss doesn’t like our idea so I guess we must go back to the drawing board.

Bail someone or something out
- Help or rescue
The government has decided to bail out the troubled bank.

Bank on
- be sure of, count on
You can bank on them to come and help the company.

bark is worse than one’s bite
- Someone isn’t as bad as they sound
Don’t worry if he gets angry - his bark is worse than his bite.

Bark up the wrong tree
- make a wrong assumption about something
The police are barking up the wrong tree in their investigation of that person.

Beat around the bush
- speak indirectly or evasively
Stop beating around the bush and give us your final decision.

beat someone to the punch (draw)
- do something before others
He beat me to the punch and arrived at the interview first.

(have a) bee in one’s bonnet
- have an idea that continually occupies one’s thoughts.
He has a bee in his bonnet over whether or not to build a new house or not.

(Do something) behind someone’s back
- Without someone’s knowledge
He is very angry because they borrowed the car behind his back.

Behind the times
- Old fashioned
My aunt is a little behind the times.

be to blame
- be responsible for something bad or unfortunate
He’s not to blame for breaking the computer.

Bend over backwards to do something
- try very hard
If I can, I will bend over backwards to help you get a promotion in the company.

Beside one’s self
- Very upset or excited about something
He was beside himself with joy at winning the contest.

Beside the point
- Not relevant to the subject that you are considering or discussing
"What you are saying is beside the point. We are not talking about salary now."

Bet on the wrong horse
- misjudge a coming event, misread the future
I think that he bet on the wrong horse by putting all of his money into that new stock.

Better off
- be in a better situation than before
He would be better off if he sold his old car and bought a new one.

beyond the pale
- Outside the bounds of acceptable behavior
What they are doing is totally unacceptable and beyond the pale.

bide one’s time
- Patiently wait for an opportunity to occur.
He is biding his time as he waits to become president of the company.

Big shot
- An important and powerful person
He is a big shot in the oil and gas industry.

Birthday suit
- Completely naked, no clothes on
The little boy was running down the street in his birthday suit.

Bite off more than one can chew
- try to do more than one is able to do
I think I bit off more than I can chew by taking on the new assignment.

Bite the bullet
- endure in a difficult situation, face a difficult situation bravely
I have decided to bite the bullet and begin studying for my Master’s degree.

bite the dust
- be killed, break down, be defeated
I think that my car has finally bitten the dust.

Bite the hand that feeds you
- turn against a friend or supporter, repay kindness with wrong
He is biting the hand that feeds him if he continues to criticize and fight against his boss.

Blind leading the blind
- someone who doesn’t understand something trying to explain it to others
It is like the blind leading the blind watching him try and explain how to operate the new computer.

Blow it (something)
- fail at something
I tried hard but I am sure that I blew the final math exam last week.

Blow one’s own horn
- praise one self
He is always blowing his own horn and is very annoying at times.

Blow over
- die down or calm down
The problem with the lost invoices has finally blown over and everyone is working hard again.

Blue in the face
- Endlessly, fruitlessly
You can argue with him until you are blue in the face but you will never change his mind.

Bone of contention
- A reason for quarrels, the subject of a fight
The family cottage was a major bone of contention when their father died.

Boot out
- make someone go or leave, get rid of someone, dismiss
He was booted out of high school for smoking on the school grounds.

born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth
- Born rich, provided from birth with everything you need
He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and has never worked in his life.

Brand new
- Absolutely new
He was finally able to buy a brand-new car.

Break down
- stop working because of mechanical failure
The car broke down on the lonely road so nobody knew about it.

Break down
- analyze
We must break down these figures for further study.

Break fresh ground
- Deal with something in a new way
The researchers were able to break fresh ground in their search for a cancer cure.

Break the bank
- win all the money at a casino gambling table
He didn’t really break the bank but he did win a lot of money.

Break the ice
- relax and start a conversation in a formal situation
Nobody was enjoying the party until the host finally was able to break the ice.

Break the news
- tell some information first
He is planning to break the news to her about his transfer tomorrow.

Break up (with someone)
- stop a relationship
She broke up with her boyfriend last June.

bring home the bacon
- work and earn money for your family
He is out bringing home the bacon and is very busy.

Bring home the importance of something to someone
- make someone fully realize something
He was unable to bring home the importance of arriving early for the meeting.

Bring some new facts to light
- discover some new facts, make some new facts known
The lawyers were able to bring some new facts to light in the trial of the killer.

Bring someone into line
- persuade someone to agree with you
He was finally able to bring the other members of the committee into line.

Bring something on
- cause to develop rapidly
I don’t know what brought on his anger but you should avoid him until he calms down.

Bring the house down
- cause much laughter in the audience
The comedian brought the house down with his jokes about the lost dog.

Bring to mind
- recall something
Her perfect acting brought to mind some of the great actresses of the past.

Bring up
- introduce a subject into a discussion
They brought up the subject at the meeting but nobody wanted to talk about it.

Bring up
- raise or care for a child
My grandmother brought up ten children.

Bring up the rear
- be at the end of the line or in the last position
The runner from the other school was bringing up the rear in the school relay race.

- have no money
I spent all of my money on my holiday and I am now broke.

Brush up on something
- review something one has already learned
I’m going to brush up on my English before my trip to New York.

Brush with the law
- A brief encounter or experience with the police because of a crime
He had a brush with the law when he was young but now he is totally honest.

Bull in a china shop
- Someone who is clumsy and upsets other people or plans
He was like a bull in a china shop when I saw him at the meeting last week.

Bundle up
- put on warm clothes, dress warmly
We bundled up and went for a walk in the park.

burn a hole in one’s pocket
- Money that you want to spend quickly
I just got paid today and this money is burning a hole in my pocket.

Burn down
- burn completely (usually used for buildings)
The neighbor’s house burnt down completely during the night.

burn one’s bridges behind one
- do something that makes going back impossible
He burned his bridges behind him and is unable to work in the same industry again.

Burn the candle at both ends
- work or play too hard without enough rest
He has been burning the candle at both ends with his work and his studies. That is why he became sick.

burn the midnight oil
- study until very late at night
We burned the midnight oil for three nights in a row in order to study for the exam.

Burn up
- burn completely (usually things not buildings)
The uniforms burned up in the fire.

Bury (hide) one’s head in the sand
- refuse to see or face something; keep from seeing or knowing something unpleasant
He always buries his head in the sand and never wants to deal with his family problems at all.

Bury the hatchet
- stop quarreling and become friendly with someone
He decided to bury the hatchet with his brother and they are now on friendly terms again.

Butter someone up
- flatter someone
He is trying to butter up his boss so that he can leave early on Friday.

Buy a pig in a poke
- buy something without seeing it or knowing if it will be satisfactory
You shouldn’t buy that car without first inspecting it. It is like buying a pig in a poke.

By and large
- On the whole, considering everything
By and large we had a good meeting even though it was a little short.

By and by
- Before long
By and by they will come and we can go out for dinner.

By far
- Greatly, by a great margin
He is by far the smartest person in the company.

By fits and starts
- Irregularly, with many stops and starts
By fits and starts the company was finally able to begin business.

By hook or by crook
- In any way necessary
She says that she will go to Italy this year by hook or by crook.

By the way
- Incidentally
By the way, could you please bring your computer tomorrow?

by the skin of one’s teeth
- by a very small margin, barely
I made the application date for the job by the skin of my teeth.

by the sweat of one’s brow
- By hard work
He managed to make enough money to buy the farm by the sweat of his brow.


*In search of Oyster Pearls*
Dec 31, 2009
A n3st!
C................................................. .....................

Calculated risk
- An action that may fail but has a good chance to succeed
They took a calculated risk when they opened the new store but it has been very successful.

Call a spade a spade
- speak bluntly
He was calling a spade a spade when he began to criticize his employee for being lazy.

Call for someone
- come and get someone
Could you please come and call on me before you go to the game.

Call it quits
- Stop, finish
He called it quits and went home for the day.

Call of nature
- The need to go to the toilet
He is answering the call of nature and can’t talk to you for a few minutes.

Call off
- cancel
The game was called off because of the rain.

Call on
- visit someone
I plan to call on my brother when I am on my holidays.

Call on
- ask someone to participate or contribute something
The teacher called on me three times to answer questions in the class.

Call on to the carpet
- call someone before an authority to be scolded or reprimanded
He was called on to the carpet by his boss for losing the major sale.

call someone’s bluff
- Challenge someone to prove what they say is true
I decided to call his bluff and asked him to show me the evidence.

Call the shots

- be in charge, give orders

He is now calling the shots and is in control of the company.

Call up

- Telephone

He said that he would call up his parent’s tomorrow night.

Calm down

- relax

She finally calmed down after the accident.

Cancel out

- destroy the effect of something

The benefits of her exercise were cancelled out by her always overeating.

Can of worms

- a complicated situation or problem

The lawsuit opened up a can of worms for the company.

Can’t see the forest for the trees

- Unable to judge or understand the whole picture because you are looking at the small parts of it

He has no real understanding of most problems as he always fails to see the forest for the trees.

Card up one’s sleeve

- a plan or argument kept back to be produced if needed

I think that he has a card up his sleeve and will be able to help us later.

(In) care of someone

- send something to one person at the address of another person

I sent the parcel to her in care of her friend at the university.

Carrot and stick

- The promise of reward and threat of punishment at the same time

The trade negotiators took a carrot and stick approach to the automobile talks.

(Get) carried away

- lose control or judgment due to strong feelings

I got a carried away and began to yell at her for losing my textbook.

Carry on

- continue, keep doing as before

We were permitted to carry on with the party after we had talked to the landlord.

Carry (something) out

- put into action, accomplish

The move to the new headquarters was carried out with a minimum of problems.

Carry over

- save for another time

We plan to carry over the summer swimwear until next year.

Carry the ball

- take the most important or difficult part in an action or business

The vice-president was forced to carry the ball while the president was away.

Carry the day

- win or be successful

His fine performance in our company carried the day for us.

Carry the torch

- show loyalty to a cause or a person

He has been carrying the torch for the candidate for a long time.

Carry through

- put a plan into action

The company carried through with their plan to layoff 300 workers.

(a) Case in point

- An example that proves something or helps to make something clear

What he just said was a case in point about what I have been saying all year.

Cash cow

- A good source of money

His new business is a great cash cow. I think that he is really making a lot of money.

Cash in

- exchange something for money

We decided to cash in the coupons because we needed some money.

Cash in on

- see and profit by a chance

The small town cashed in on their success with the winter Olympics.

Cash on the barrelhead

- Money paid when something is bought

It was a cash deal and we were forced to pay cash on the barrelhead.

Cast pearls before swine

- waste something valuable on someone who doesn’t appreciate it

Giving her the gold earrings was casting pearls before swine.

Cast the first stone

- be the first to blame someone

He was the one to cast the first stone and now he is having a major fight with his neighbor.

Castles in the air

- Daydreams

She is always building castles in the air and is very unrealistic.

Cat burglar

- A burglar who enters a building by climbing a wall etc.

We lost our stereo when a cat burglar entered our apartment.

Cat gets one’s tongue

- can’t talk

I think that the cat has got her tongue. She hasn’t said anything at all since the meeting started.


- a situation where whatever you do the outcome will be bad, a no-win situation

It was a catch-22 situation where if I went to work there would be problems but if I didn’t go to work there would be more problems.

Catch a cold

- become sick with a cold

I caught a cold because of the rain and the cold weather.


- In any way possible

We are in the middle of moving house so the meals when you visit will be catch-as-catch-can.

Catch on

- understand, learn about

It was difficult to catch on at first but finally I was able to understand the math problem.

Catch on

- become popular

Recently ballroom dancing has begun to catch on among many people.

Catch one’s breath

- stop to rest and regain one’s normal breathing

After running from the station it took a moment to catch my breath.

Catch one’s eye

- attract one’s attention

I tried to catch her eye but she didn’t notice me.

Catch (someone) red-handed

- find someone in the middle of doing something wrong

He caught the boy red-handed when he was stealing the candy.

Catch up with (someone or something)

- become even with someone (in a race or in schoolwork etc.)

I think it’s too late to catch up with the rest of the class now.

Caught short

- Not having enough of something when you need it (usually money)

I was caught short last week and couldn’t pay the weekly food bill.

Cave in

- To weaken and be forced to give up

The company finally caved in to the union’s demand for more money.


*In search of Oyster Pearls*
Dec 31, 2009
A n3st!
Chalk up

- Record

The stock prices of the company chalked up a big gain last week.

Change horses in midstream

- make new plans or choose a new leader in the middle of an important activity

They decided to change horses in midstream and that is probably why they lost the election.

Change of heart

- change the way one feels about something

She had a change of heart and decided to let her child go to the circus.

change (one’s) mind

- change one’s decision

He changed his mind and said that he would not go to the movie tonight.

Change (one’s) tune

- make a change in one’s story, statement or opinions

He has begun to change his tune recently and is beginning to agree that we need to do things a little differently.

(In) charge of something
- be responsible for an activity or group of people
He is in charge of selling tickets for the school dance.

Cheat on (someone)
- be unfaithful to someone
He recently began cheating on his wife which was the main cause of their divorce.

(Have the) cheek to do something
- Rudeness, impudence
She had the cheek to tell me that she was sick and couldn’t come to work today.

Cheek by jowl
- Side by side, in close intimacy
They were walking down the stairs cheek by jowl when the alarm sounded.

Chew the fat
- chat
The two men were chewing the fat on the porch of the house.

Chew out (someone)
- scold roughly
The teacher chewed out the student for talking in class.

Chicken feed
- A small amount of money
What he sold his car for was chicken feed compared to the amount of money that he has in the bank.

Chicken out
- stop doing something because of fear
He chickened out of jumping into the lake from the high diving board.

Chickens come home to roost
- Words or acts come back to cause trouble for a person
Her chickens have finally come home to roost and she must now take responsibility for what she has done.

Chime in
- join in (a song or conversation)
We were having a nice conversation until she chimed in and started complaining about everything.

Chip in
- contribute or pay jointly
We all chipped in and bought our father a present.

Chip off the old block
- Person who looks or acts like one of his parents
His son is a chip off the old block and acts exactly like his father.

(When the) chips are down
- The time when one faces the greatest obstacles
When the chips were down he went to his father for advice and received his encouragement.

Clam up
- stop talking
She clammed up as soon as her boyfriend entered the room.

Clean bill of health
- The assurance that an animal or person is healthy
The astronaut was given a clean bill of health before he began training.

Clean slate
- having no errors, past acts that are all good
He started off with a clean slate and has never caused any problems for the company.

Clear the air
- calm down and remove a misunderstanding
We had a big argument so I think it is time to clear the air.

Clear the decks

- clear away things and prepare for action

Let’s clear the decks and get everyone out of the house so we can begin work.

Clear up

- solve or explain (a problem etc.)

They finally cleared up the problem that I was having with my salary at work.


- Sports event or movie where the outcome is uncertain until the very end

The playoff game was a cliffhanger and one of the most enjoyable games of the year.

Climb the wall
- be so bored that you become anxious and frustrated
She began to climb the wall after only a few days at her new job.

Clip joint
- A low-class business where people are cheated
They went into a clip joint near the bus station and had to pay a lot of money.
- limit one’s activities or possibilities
They decided to clip his wings and took away his expense account.

Close call/shave
- An accident almost happens (but doesn’t happen)
I had a close call this morning when the truck almost hit me.

Close ranks
- come together for fighting, unite and work together
They decided to close ranks and stop arguing among themselves

Close to home
- Near to someone’s personal feelings, wishes or interests
What I said about her work habits must have hit close to home as she seemed to become very quiet suddenly.

Coast is clear
- No danger is in sight, no one can see you
When the coast was clear we decided to enter the building.

(Bring) coals to Newcastle
- bring something of which there is plenty
Bringing extra food to the farmer’s picnic was like bringing coals to Newcastle.

Cog in the machine
- You are not important but only a small part of a large organization
The employees felt like they were only cogs in a machine so the atmosphere at the company was not very good.

Cold spell or cold snap
- A sudden short period of cold weather (usually in winter)
The cold snap lasted for five days.

Cold turkey
- stop using drugs (heroin etc.) abruptly and without medical aid
Although she was able to stop using drugs cold turkey she was very sick for awhile.

Come a cropper
- fail
I think that he has come a cropper in the horse competition and that is why he is sad.

Come across
- find something or meet someone by chance
I came across an interesting story in the newspaper the other day.

Come again.
- Please repeat, please say that again
Come again. I didn’t hear you the first time.

Come alive
- brighten up and become active
She finally came alive and began to enjoy the party.

Come along
- make progress, thrive
The work on our new house is coming along very well at the moment.

Come a long way
- make great progress
He has come a long way and has learned many things about his new company.

Come back
- Return to the place you are now
She came back from her holidays last week.

Come back
- Return to one’s memory
I can’t remember clearly the events of last year but slowly everything is coming back to me.

Come back
- become popular again
Recently bell-bottom pants have come back into fashion.

Come between
disrupt the relationship between (two people)
His constant interfering finally came between his brother and his wife.

Come by
- get, obtain, acquire
She came by a lot of money recently and is now enjoying her life.

Come clean
- tell the truth
The president of the company was forced to come clean and tell what really happened to the business.

(a) come-down
- A lowering in status, income, influence or energy
Her new job was a real come-down from her last one so she was not very happy.

Come down hard on
- scold or punish severely
The police have been coming down very hard on drunk drivers recently.

Come down to earth
- stop imagining or dreaming, think and behave as usual
He has finally come down to earth and is preparing seriously to look for a job.

Come down with
- become sick with or catch a cold etc.
Her mother came down with a cold so was unable to attend the dinner.

Come from
- be a native of a place
Several of the students in the class come from Mexico.

Come full circle
- Completely opposite from one’s starting point
They have come full circle since the new president started at the university.

Come hell or high water
- No matter what happens
Come hell or high water I plan to go to the concert next week.

Come in handy
- prove to be useful
I think that the small hammer will come in handy to fix the desk.

Come into
- receive, get possession of
They came into a lot of money which they donated to charity.

Come into fashion
- become fashionable
She says that although bell-bottom pants have come into fashion again she will never wear them.

Come into one’s own
- become to perform or work well because of good circumstances
He has really come into his own as a basketball player since he changed positions.

Come off
- be successful
The party came off without any problems so everyone was very happy.

come on strong
- overwhelm with excessively strong language or personality
He came on too strong during the job interview and was unable to get the job.

come out with
- say, make known
The child has recently come out with many strange and funny expressions.

come to
- begin or learn to do or feel something
At first I disliked her a lot but recently I have come to accept her.

come to
- regain consciousness
She came to a couple of hours after the accident.

Come to blows
- begin to fight
They almost came to blows when they were trying to fix the car.

Come to grief
- have a bad accident or disappointment
He has recently come to much grief because of his son’s problems with the police.

Come to grips with
- struggle (successfully) with an idea or problem
She has finally been able to come to grips with her husband’s drinking.

Come to light
- be discovered, become known
It has recently come to light that the company has lost millions of dollars.

Come to nothing
- End in failure
All his efforts to help his sister find a job came to nothing.

come to one’s senses
- begin to think clearly or act sensibly
He finally came to his senses and decided to buy a cheaper car rather than borrow a lot of money for an expensive one.

Come to pass
- To happen, occur
It came to pass that the company was never able to recover from their financial problems.

Come to terms
- reach an agreement
We came to terms with the bank and were able to buy the house.

come to the point
- be direct
His speech was interesting but he never really came to the point.

Come up with
- produce or find a thought, idea or answer
Please try to come up with a name for the new magazine.

Common touch
- a friendly manner with everyone
He has a nice common touch and everyone likes him a lot.

Conk out
- fall asleep quickly with great fatigue
As soon as we returned from the hike I conked out in front of the TV.

cook one’s goose
- ruin one’s chances
She really cooked her own goose and has no chance of getting the new job.

Cook up
- invent, plan and put something together
I don’t know what kind of plan she is cooking up now but it should be quite interesting.

Cool as a cucumber
- Very calm and brave, not worried or anxious
She was as cool as a cucumber when her canoe turned over in the river.

cool one’s heels
- be kept waiting because of another’s rudeness
He was forced to cool his heels for an hour in the waiting room before his boss would talk to him.

Cop a plea
- plead guilty to a crime in order to get a lesser penalty
He was forced to cop a plea when the evidence against him became too strong to dispute.

Cop out
- avoid doing something that you were planning to do
He copped out from our plan to go to the beach for the day.

- Someone who copies another person’s work or their actions
The little boy was accused of being a copycat by the other children.

Cough up
- give unwillingly
He finally coughed up enough money to pay for the accident.

Count on
- depend on
You can never count on him to do anything right.

count one’s chickens before they’re hatched
- assume that something will be successful before it is certain
Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched. You’re spending your money and you don’t even have a job yet.

Count out
- leave something out of a plan, exclude
Please count me out of your plans to go skiing for the weekend.

cover one’s tracks
- hide or not say where one has been or what one has done
He was trying to cover his tracks but it was easy to see where he had recently been.

Cover up
- hide something wrong or bad
They tried to cover up the facts regarding the illegal election campaign funds.

Cozy up to (someone)
- try to be friendly to someone
I don’t know what he wants but recently he has been trying to cozy up to me.

Crack a joke
- tell a joke
He was a lot of fun at the party because he was always cracking jokes.

crack a smile
- let a smile show on one’s face
He never cracked a smile during the whole meeting.

crack down on
- enforce laws or rules strictly
The school principal decided to crack down on people running in the halls.

Crack of dawn
- Daybreak, early in the morning
We got up at the crack of dawn to go fishing.

- an eccentric person with ideas that don’t make sense to others
He is a total crackpot and you never know what he will do next.

Crack the whip
- try to make someone work hard or obey you by threatening them
We had to crack the whip in order to get the job finished by the weekend.

(Buy something) on credit
- pay for something not in cash
He decided to buy the stereo on credit

Crack up
- burst into laughter
I cracked up when he started talking about the incident with the taxi driver.

Cramp one’s style
- limit one’s talk or action
Working in the new section is beginning to cramp my style a little.

Crash the gate
- enter without a ticket or without paying or with no invitation
Many people didn’t have a ticket for the concert so they decided to crash the gate.

Cream of the crop
- The top choice
When they hire new employees they always look for the cream of the crop.

(The) creeps
- A strong feeling of fear or disgust
I get the creeps every time that I see a dead animal.

Creep up on
- crawl quietly towards
The thief crept up on the elderly women at the supermarket.

Crocodile tears
- a show of sorrow that is not really felt
He said that he was very sorry but his tears were just crocodile tears.

Crop up

- appear or happen unexpectedly

I will meet you early next week unless something crops up that keeps me busy.

Cross a bridge before one comes to it

- think and worry about future events or problems before they happen

We shouldn’t worry about that problem now. We can cross that bridge when we come to it.

cross one’s heart and hope to die
- promise that what you are saying is true
I promise that I will pay you back the money next week. Cross my heart and hope to die.

cross ones mind
- think of, occur to someone
It just crossed my mind that I would probably see him in the evening so I didn’t phone him.

Cross (something) out
- eliminate by drawing a line through something
Please cross out that amount and put in the correct amount.

Cross to bear/carry
- Something you must do or continue with even though you are suffering
Looking after my sister’s children every day is my cross to bear.

Cry out for
- need something badly, be lacking
The new room that he built cries out for a new set of furniture.

cry over spilt milk
- cry or complain about something that has already happened
Don`t cry over spilt milk. You can never change the past.

cry uncle
- admit defeat or that one has lost
He finally had to cry uncle when the other wrestler pinned him to the mat.

Cry wolf
- warn of danger that is not there
He has been crying wolf for years about various things and now nobody believes him.

(not one’s) cup of tea
- something one enjoys, special interest
It`s not really my cup of tea so I think I will stay home and not go to the art gallery.

curiosity killed the cat
- being too nosy and interested in other peoples business may lead a person into trouble
Don`t keep asking so many questions. Remember curiosity killed the cat.

curry favor
- flatter someone to get his help or friendship
He has been working hard to curry favor with the other members of the committee.

cut across
- cross or go through something instead of going around
We decided to cut across the field because we were in a hurry to get to school.

cut and dried
- completely decided, prearranged
The decision was cut and dried and nobody asked for our opinion.

cut back
- use fewer or use less
We were forced to cut back on the number of people who were invited to the party.

cut both ways
- serve both sides of an argument
What he said cuts both ways and we should carefully think about it.

cut corners
- economize
We will have to cut corners in order to save some money for our holiday.

cut down on
- use less of something
Recently he has cut down on his drinking in order to start his new health program.

cut down to size
- prove that someone is not as good as he thinks
I was able to cut him down to size when I criticized what he said at the meeting.

cut (someone) off
- stop someone from saying something, disconnect someone on the phone
I tried to tell him about the accident but he cut me off before I had a chance.

cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face
- make things worse for oneself because one is angry at someone else
He is cutting off his nose to spite his face. Taking revenge on his neighbor will only cause more problems for himself.

cut out
- eliminate
She decided to cut out chocolate in order to lose weight.

cut the mustard
- reach the required standard
He doesn`t cut the mustard and will never be able to work here.


*In search of Oyster Pearls*
Dec 31, 2009
A n3st!
D................................................. .................................

dance to a different tune
- talk or act differently (usually better) because things have changed
He has begun dancing to a different tune now that he knows that his head salesman is thinking of quitting.

dark horse
- a candidate little known to the general public
At first he was a dark horse candidate but he later won the election.

dash off
- do or finish quickly, leave quickly
I will dash off a letter now but then I must go to work.

Dawn on
- become clear
It finally dawned on me as to why he was angry.

Day and night
- Continually
We worked day and night to finish the project before the end of the month.

Day in and day out
- Regularly, all the time
He goes to that restaurant day in and day out and never gets tired of it.

Dead ahead
- Exactly in front, before
There was a truck dead ahead so we put on the car brakes suddenly.

Dead as a doornail
- Very dead
The man was dead as a doornail as we could see after the accident.

- A person who never pays his debts
There is a policy to penalize deadbeat fathers by the local government.

Dead center
- Exact middle
He was able to hit the target dead center.

Dead duck
- Person or thing in a hopeless situation or condition
He is a dead duck and has no hope of recovering his former position.

Dead end
- The closed end of a road or an impasse
The negotiations between the team and the owners have come to a dead end.

- With an expressionless or emotionless face
He had a deadpan expression when he told us the story.

Dead set against something
- determined not to do something
They are dead set against their son going to Europe for a year.

Dead tired
- Very tired, exhausted
I was dead tired so I went to bed as soon as I got home.

Dead to the world
- Fast asleep
The little boy was dead to the world when his father took him out of the car.

Decked out
- dressed in fancy clothes
She was all decked out in her best clothes for the party.

- throw away, dispose of
I decided to deep-six the videos as I didn’t want them any longer.

Deep water
- Serious trouble or difficulty
He will be in deep water if he doesn’t tell us where he spent the money.

Deliver the goods
- succeed in doing what is expected well
He is the best manager that we have ever had. He knows how to deliver the goods.

- Unworried, not caring what happens
He has a devil-may-care attitude to his job and nothing ever bothers him.

Die down
- come slowly to an end, grow weaker
When the sound of the music finally died down we were able to get to sleep.

Die off
- die one after another until the number is small
The house plants began to die off as soon as he moved to a new apartment.

Die out
- die or disappear slowly until all gone
Dinosaurs died out millions of years ago.

Dig in
- begin eating
Let’s dig in and eat before everything is cold!

Dime a dozen

- Common, easy to get and of little value

Used books are a dime a dozen so don’t worry if you can’t sell them.

Dirty look

- A look that shows dislike or disapproval

His mother gave him a dirty look when he smoked the cigarette.

Dish out
- serve food from a large bowl or plate
He began to dish out the food as soon as the guests arrived.

Dish out
- treat or criticize roughly
He likes to dish out criticism to others but he doesn’t like to hear criticism about himself.

Do a double take
- look again in surprise at someone or something
She did a double take when she saw her old boyfriend with another woman.

Do a job on
- do harm to, make ugly or useless
He really did a job on the plans for the new house that he was working on.

Do away with
- put an end to, stop, and get rid of
The company has decided to do away with having fixed holidays every year.

- Ready or willing to fight and hurt others to get what you want
It is a dog-eat-dog world out in the world of advertising and public relations.

Do in
- To ruin, destroy
He quickly did in the new shoes that he received for his birthday.

Do in
- To make tired, exhaust
He was really done in by the time that he finished the marathon.

Doll up
- Dress in fancy clothes
She was all dolled up for the party at the downtown hotel.

Done for
- Ruined, defeated, dying
I think that the team is done for as far as this season is concerned.

Done with
- be finished using something
He was finally done with the computer and so he let his sister use it.

Do one’s best
- try to do something as well as you can
I tried to do my best on the exam.

Do one’s bit (part)
- Share in a group project by contributing one’s time and effort
He did his bit for the planning of the party.

Do one’s thing
- do what one wants to do and enjoys
He is an individualist and enjoys doing his thing when and where he chooses.

- make a great effort while disregarding danger
He was in a position of do-or-die when he finally found another job.

Do out of
- cause to lose by trickery or cheating
He was worried that the company would do him out of the large bonus that he was expecting.

Do someone good
- be good or beneficial for someone
It will do you good to go on a holiday.

Do something rash
- take drastic action (usually without thinking)
She is extremely angry so I hope that she doesn’t do anything rash.

Do the honors
- perform the duty of a host (when serving a drink etc.)
Would you like to do the honors and pour everyone a glass of wine?

Do the trick
- work well, achieve a good result
I think the new piece of equipment should do the trick and solve the problem.

Do time
- spend time in prison
He was doing time when I first heard about him.

Do with
- benefit from
I have been working hard all day so now I could do with a cold drink.

Do with
- be acquainted, involved or associated with
I don’t have anything to do with the party this year.

Do without
- manage without something
If there is no sugar, we’ll have to do without.

Double back
- turn back from where you are going or have been

We decided to double back from the arena to get some money to go to a movie.


- check again to be sure something is correct

He double-checked the price of the airplane ticket.


- deceive, promise one thing and do another

He tried to double-cross his partner but was caught and sent to jail.


- Talk that appears to have meaning but does not

He gave the audience a lot of double-talk so nobody knew what he wanted to say.

Double up

- share a room or home with someone

The passengers had to double up in hotel rooms when the plane was delayed because of the weather.

Down and out

- have no money

He has been down and out before but he has always been able to find a job eventually.

Down in the dumps

- Unhappy

She has been really down in the dumps since her boyfriend moved away.

Down on (someone)

- be critical of someone, angry at

She is really down on her friend but I don’t really know the reason.

Down one’s alley

- suited to one’s tastes and abilities

Computers are down his alley so I am sure that he will be interested in taking the job.

Down the line

- Straight ahead, in future

There will be many changes at this company down the line but for now your job is safe.

Down the drain

- wasted or lost

He is just throwing money down the drain when he goes to the horse races.


- Sensible and practical

Her mother is a very down-to-earth person.

Down to the wire

- nearing a deadline, running out of time

We went right down to the wire but we were able to finish the job on time.

Do wonders

- produce excellent results

If you begin to do some exercise it will do wonders for your health.

Drag in

- insist on bringing another subject into a discussion

He always drags in his personal problems when we are talking about his performance on the job.

Drag on

- pass very slowly, make longer

The speech seemed to drag on and on so finally we decided to leave early.

Drag one’s feet/heels

- act slowly or reluctantly

He has been dragging his feet about whether or not to take the job.

Draw a blank

- obtain nothing in return for an effort made, get a negative result

He drew a blank when he went to the head office to try and receive some information about the merger.

Draw fire

- receive criticism or argument

He has been drawing a lot of fire since he announced that he would not play basketball another year.

Draw fire

- be a target, attract or provoke shooting

The soldiers drew fire when they entered the small village.

Draw in one’s horns

- spend less money

Their company is not doing well so they will have to draw in their horns for awhile.

Draw (someone) out

- make a person talk or tell something

She was very quiet but we finally were able to draw her out so that she would join the party.

Draw the line

- set a limit

We have to draw the line somewhere in regards to the costs of the party.

Draw up

- put in writing

They were able to draw up the new contract while we were waiting.

Dressed to kill

- wear one’s finest clothes

She was dressed to kill when I saw her at the concert last week.

Dressed to the nines (teeth)

- dressed elegantly

The stars were all dressed to the nines during the Academy Awards ceremony.

Dress up

- put on one’s best clothes

He decided to dress up for dinner at the restaurant.

Drive a hard bargain

- conclude a bargain without making any concessions

Although he drives a hard bargain I like doing business with him.

Drive at

- try or want to say something

I don’t know what he was driving at in his speech.

Drive someone up a wall

- irritate or annoy someone greatly

His constant complaining is driving me up a wall.

Drop a hint

- Casually utter a hint or suggestion

He dropped a hint that he wanted to transfer to a new department.

Drop (someone) a line

- write or mail a note or letter to someone
She promised that she would drop me a line when she gets to Singapore.

Drop back
- Move or step backwards, retreat
During the hike his foot began to get sore so he decided to drop back and rest for awhile.

Drop by
- To visit someone or somewhere
He dropped by after work for a drink.

Drop by the wayside
- give up or fail before the finish
Many runners dropped by the wayside as the marathon continued.

Drop dead!
- go away and be quiet, stop bothering someone
I told him to drop dead when he came into my room and now he is angry at me.

Drop in
- make a short or unplanned visit
I decided to drop in and visit my friend after I finished work for the day.

Drop in the bucket
- Small amount
The money he paid back was only a drop in the bucket compared to what he owes.

Drop out (of school)
- quit school or a course of some kind
She dropped out of the class after three months.

Drown one’s sorrows
- drink alcohol to forget one’s problems
He’s in the bar drowning his sorrows with a beer.

Drown out
- make so much noise that it is impossible to hear
The team captain was drowned out by the cheering fans.

Drum up

- invent, encourage by making an effort

They were able to drum up a lot of business during the summer.

Duck soup

- Easy, effortless

How was the test last week? It was duck soup - no problem at all.

Dumb bunny
- A stupid gullible person
He is a dumb bunny and you never know what he will do next.

Dutch treat
- Meal/movie etc. where each person pays their own way, contribute equally to something
When he goes out with his girlfriend it is always a Dutch treat as he doesn’t have much money.

Dwell on
- think about or talk about something all the time
I wish he wouldn’t always dwell on his personal problems.

E................................................. ..............................................

Each and every

- Every (used for emphasis)

I would like each and every one of you to bring your textbooks tomorrow.

Eager beaver

- Person who is always eager to work or do extra work

He is a real eager beaver and is always available to work when we need him.


- Scolding, a lot of information (often critical)

He really gave his daughter an earful when she came home late.

Early bird catches the worm

- A person who gets up early in the morning has the best chance of success

He always goes to work before his colleagues because he knows that the early bird catches the worm.

(keep/have one’s) ear to the ground

- pay attention to the way things are going or the way people feel and think

He always has his ear to the ground and knows everything that is going on in our company.

Ease off

- reduce in severity or pressure, relax

The president was asked to ease off on his efforts to save money in the company.

Easy come, easy go

- Something that you get easily can be lost easily

He doesn’t care if he loses his job or not. For him everything is easy come, easy go.

Easy does it

- do something without sudden movements or too fast

"Easy does it" he said as he helped to move the large piano.


*In search of Oyster Pearls*
Dec 31, 2009
A n3st!

- Tolerant and relaxed

He has a very easy-going management style.

Eat away

- Rot, erode, destroy
The mildew has been eating away at the window frame all summer.

Eat crow
- admit one is mistaken or defeated
He was forced to eat crow when the figures that he gave us at the meeting were all wrong.

Eat dirt

- accept another’s insult or bad treatment, act humble

He made the senior manager eat dirt as revenge for his bad treatment in the past.

Eat one’s heart out

- suffer greatly from longing

You can eat your heart out. I’m going to Hawaii for three weeks!

Eat humble pie

- admit one’s error and apologize

He had to eat humble pie in front of his friends when they discovered his mistake.

(Be) eating someone

- bothering or worrying someone

I don’t know what is eating her but she doesn’t seem to be in a good mood today.

Eat like a bird

- eat very little

He eats like a bird. That’s why he can’t put on enough weight to join the football team.

Eat like a horse

- eat a lot

He eats like a horse but he never puts on any weight.

Eat one’s cake and have it too

- use or spend something and still keep it

He always wants to eat his cake and have it too and is never prepared to sacrifice anything.

Eat one’s words

- admit being wrong in something one has said, retract one’s statement

He was forced to eat his words after his boss proved that he was wrong.

Eat out

- eat in a restaurant

He eats out three or four times a week.

Egg (someone) on

- urge or push someone to do something

He is always egging his friend on when he is angry which makes him even angrier.

Eke out

- earn with difficulty

He was unable to eke out a living on the farm so he sold it.

- Effort and strength to clean something

We’ll have to use a lot of elbow grease to get the kitchen cleaned.

Elbow room

- space (enough to be comfortable)

They moved to the country in order to have a little more elbow room.

End in it

- A purpose or goal one wants for itself alone and not as a way to something else

For some people traveling is an end in itself and the destination is not important.

(At the) end of one’s rope

- The last of one’s ability or ideas about how to proceed or do something

He is at the end of his rope regarding what to do about his job.

End up

- finish, finally do something

We ended up going to the restaurant after the movie last night.

Even so

- Nevertheless, however

He always works hard but even so he has no money saved.

Every dog has his day

- Everyone will have his chance or turn; everyone will get what he deserves

You should be patient and wait until you get a chance. Remember every dog has his day.

Every other

- alternate, every second one

She has to work every other Saturday evening.

Every so often

- Occasionally

You should walk around every so often when you are on a long plane trip.

Every Tom, Dick and Harry

- The average person

He said he is not the same as every Tom, Dick and Harry.

Eyes are bigger than one’s stomach
- One wants more food than one can eat

His eyes are bigger than his stomach. He will never finish all of the food that he took.

Eyes in the back of one’s head

- Ability to know what is happening behind one’s back

He has eyes in the back of his head and you can never borrow anything without him knowing about it.

Eyes pop out

- Much surprised

Her eyes popped out when she saw her name in the newspaper.

F................................................. ...............................................

Face down

- confront boldly and win, defy

They decided to face down their competitors and were able to easily stay in business.

Face the music

- accept the consequences of something

He is going to have to face the music sooner or later.
- accept something that is not easy to accept
You must face up to the fact that you are never going to have enough money to buy that car.

Face value
- Value or price printed on a stamp/bond/paper money etc.
He gave me the face value that was printed on the used stamps.

Face value
- Seeming value or truth of something
He is a nice person but you must always take at face value what he says.

Facts of life
- What one should know about sex, marriage and birth?
He seems to be a little too young to know about the facts of life.

Fair and square
- Honestly, just, straightforward
The British team won the game fair and square but still the other team complained.

Fair game
- A likely object of aggressive interest
The company is fair game as a takeover target by other international companies.

Fair play
- Justice, equal and right action
He believes in fair play and is a wonderful person to have on our team.

Fair shake
- Honest treatment
She was not given a fair shake at the inquiry into her behavior.

Fair-weather friend
- A person who is a friend only when one is successful
He is a fair-weather friend only and you can’t rely on him if you have a problem.

Fall apart
- become to not work properly
The equipment fell apart about six months after I bought it.

Fall back
- move back, go back
The runner fell back from the rest of the runners when the race was half over.

Fall back on something/someone
- turn to for help when something else has failed
She had to fall back on her father’s money when her business had problems.

Fall behind
- fail to keep up with work or studies or payments etc.
He fell behind with his homework at the beginning of the term and had problems throughout the year.

Fall by the wayside
- give up or fail before the finish
He had a good chance of winning the competition but he fell by the wayside near the end.

Fall flat
- be unsuccessful, fail
I think that my attempt at humor fell flat and now she doesn’t like me.

Fall for
- begin to like very much, begin to love
He fell for the woman at the bank but he is afraid to ask her for a date.

Fall from grace
- lose approval
The politician fell from grace with the public over the money scandal.

- Argument, disagreement, quarrel
We had a falling-out during our holiday and we haven’t spoken since.

Fall in love with
- begin to love someone
I fell in love with her the first time that I saw her at the restaurant.

Fall into line
- go and stand properly in a row (like soldiers)
The students were forced to fall into line as they waited for the doors to open.

Fall in with
- become associated with a bad group of people
He fell in with a bad group of friends and began to get lower marks.

Fall off
- Decrease
The number of tourists to visit the island has fallen off recently.

Fall off the wagon
- Return to the consumption of alcohol or drugs after stopping for awhile
He fell off the wagon after he stopped drinking for three years.

Fall on
- meet (troubles)
The town had fallen on hard times before the new computer company moved to town and created many jobs.


*In search of Oyster Pearls*
Dec 31, 2009
A n3st!
G................................................. ...............................................

Gain ground
- go forward, make progress
The toy company has been gaining ground in their effort to sell more products.

Gang up on someone
- Attack in a group, get together to hurt someone
The school children tried to gang up on the boy but he ran away.

Gas up
- fill up a gas tank
We should gas up tonight before we leave on our holiday tomorrow.

Gee whiz
- used as an exclamation to show surprise or other strong feelings
Gee whiz! Are we really going to go to go to Disneyland for our holiday?

Get a break
- get an opportunity or good deal
I got a break when he sold the car for less than it was worth.

Get across
- explain, make something understood
I had a hard time trying to get across to him the importance of taking care of his computer discs.

Get a fix on something
- receive a reading of a distant object by electronic means
We were able to get a fix on the island and got the boat safely to the harbor.

Get a grip of oneself
- take control of one’s feelings
He finally got a grip of himself and calmed down.

Get after someone
- urge or make someone do something he should do but has neglected
I’ll get after him to fix the computer as soon as he returns.

Get ahead
- advance or be successful
She really works hard at her job in order to get ahead.

Get a kick out of
- enjoy
I think that my father got a kick out of seeing his old school friend.

Get a load of
- take a good look at, see something
Get a load of that man over there with the four big dogs.

Get along
- manage
He is able to get along on very little money.

Get along
- leave
It’s late so I must be getting along now.

Get along with someone
- have a good relationship with someone
I don’t get along very well with the new woman I work with.

Get a move on
- hurry up
Please get a move on. We are already over three hours late.

Get a rise out of someone
- tease, have fun with someone by making him or her angry
We really got a rise out of the teacher when we left the windows open while it was raining.

Get around
- go to different places, move about
He really gets around. He has been to almost every state in the United States.

Get around to
- Finally find time to do something
The apartment manager finally got around to fixing the bath.

Get at
- mean
I really don’t know what he was trying to get at during the meeting.

Get away
- succeed in leaving, escape
I was able to get away early from work today so I went shopping for awhile.

Get away from it all
- go on a holiday
We want to get away from it all this summer and go and relax somewhere.

Get away with murder
- do something very bad without being caught or punished
The child was able to get away with murder while the substitute teacher was at the school.

Get away with something
- do something one shouldn’t and not get caught at it
The criminal got away with the robbery and was never caught.

Get a wiggle on
- hurry up, get going
Get a wiggle on. We have to arrive at the party before the other guests arrive.

Get a word in
- find a chance to say something when others are talking
The customer couldn’t get a word in while talking to the salesman so he decided to go to another company.

Get a word in edgewise
- manage to break into a conversation
I couldn’t get a word in edgewise so I left the meeting.

Get back
- return
We got back from London early yesterday afternoon.

Get back at
- do something bad to someone who has done something bad to you, hurt someone in return for something
She is very angry at her boyfriend and is getting back at him by not answering the telephone.

Get behind
- go slow while doing something is late
If you get behind in the homework you will never be able to pass the course.

Get behind (a person or idea)
- Support, help
They decided to get behind the main candidate when he promised to cut taxes.

Get by
- satisfy your needs or demands (usually related to money)
He is able to easily get by on his salary because he doesn’t spend a lot of money.

Get cold feet
- become afraid at the last minute
He got cold feet and cancelled his plan to go to China.

Get cracking
- hurry up, start moving fast, and get started
We will have to get cracking on this work if we want to finish it before dinner.

Get (someone) down
- Make (someone) unhappy, cause discouragement
The long commuting time has begun to get her down so she wants to quit her job.

Get down to
- get started on
Let’s get down to work so we can go home early.

Get down to brass tacks
- begin discussing the essential matters immediately
Let’s get down to brass tacks and begin to deal with the business at hand.

Get even
- get revenge
He seems to want to get even with him for their past problems.

- The beginning
Right from the get-go I never liked the way that the new manager acted.

Get (someone’s) goat
- annoy someone
He has been getting my goat recently and I am tired of him.


*In search of Oyster Pearls*
Dec 31, 2009
A n3st!
Get going
- excite, stir up and make angry
Once he gets going he will never stop complaining.

Get hold of (something)
- get possession of

When you get hold of a dictionary could you please let me see it for a few minutes?

Get hold of (someone)

- find a person so you can speak with him or her

I tried to get hold of him last week but he was out of town.

Get in on the ground floor
- start at the beginning (in hopes of future gain)
He managed to get in on the ground floor of the new company.

Get in touch with someone
- contact someone
I’ll get in touch with him when I arrive in New York in August.

Get in the swing of things
- adapt to a new environment or situation
He got into the swing of things after the party started.

Get it all together
- be in full control and possession of one’s mental faculties
He finally got it all together and applied for the job at the supermarket.

Get it through one’s head
- understand, believe
He has got it through his head that he will get a job easily without really making an effort.

Get lost!
- go away
She told her younger brother to get lost so she could finish her homework.

Get mixed up
- become confused
I’m sorry but I got mixed up with the dates. That’s why I came today.

Get off
- come down from or out of (a bus or train etc.)
We decided to get off the train at the station next to our regular station.

Get off easy
- escape a worse punishment
The criminals got off easy even though they robbed the bank.

Get off one’s back
- leave someone alone and not bother them
I wish that the supervisor would get off my back.

Get off one’s butt
- get busy, start working
He should get off his butt and try and get a job so he will have some money.

Get off on the wrong foot
- make a bad start
I got off on the wrong foot with him and our relationship never really recovered.

Get off the ground
- make a successful beginning, go ahead
His new business never really got off the ground so he must look for another job.

Get one’s dander up
- become or make angry
You shouldn’t talk to him early in the morning or you will get his dander up.

Get one’s feet wet
- begin, do something for the first time
He has managed to get his feet wet in the publishing business and is ready to start his own business now.

Get one’s own way
- cause people to do what you want
He always gets his own way with his younger brothers.

Get one’s rear in gear
- hurry up, get going
Let’s hurry up and get our rear in gear before it is too late to go to a movie.

Get on in years
- To advance in age
He is getting on in years and is not very healthy.

Get on one’s high horse
- behave with arrogance
He is back on his high horse and has started giving orders to everyone.

Get on one’s nerves
- irritate someone
His constant complaining is beginning to get on my nerves.

Get out of bed on the wrong side
- be in a bad mood
I think that she got out of bed on the wrong side this morning as she hasn’t said a word to anyone yet.

Get out from under
- escape a situation that one doesn’t like
I would like to get out from under my boss always watching my work.

Get out of hand
- lose control
The going away party was beginning to get out of hand so they asked everyone to leave.

Get out of the way
- be no longer an obstacle

He was unable to get out of the way of the truck and was injured.

Get over something
- overcome a difficulty; recover from an illness or shock
She has been having a lot of trouble getting over her father’s death.

Get (something) over with

- Finish, end

He wants to get his exams over with so that he can begin to relax again.

Get ready
- prepare yourself
First I must get ready for work, and then I will help you.

Get rid of something
- give or throw something away, sell or destroy something, make a cold or fever disappear
I bought a new television set so I had to get rid of the old one.

Get set
- get ready to start
We are working hard to get set for her wedding ceremony.

Get the ax
- be fired
He got the ax last week and now has no job.

Gets the ball rolling?
- start something
Let’s get the ball rolling and start working.

Get the better of (someone)
- win against, beat, defeat

He got the better of me and won the tennis match.

Get the feel of

- become used to or learn about something

After you get the feel of the new computer it will be very easy to use.

Get the goods on someone

- find out true and often bad information about someone

I think that I have finally got the goods on him and will have to talk to the police as soon as possible.

Get the message

- understand clearly what is meant

I told him three times but I don’t think that he really gets the message.

Get the sack
- be fired or dismissed from work
I told him that if he doesn’t change his work habits he will get the sack from his job.

Get the show on the road
- start working on something
Let’s get the show on the road and begin work for the day.

Get the worst of
- be defeated or beaten, suffer most
He got the worst of the deal when the salesman sold him the used car.

Get through
- succeed in passing an exam or ordeal
She has been having trouble getting through her final exams.

Get through to
- be understood by, make (someone) understand
I tried talking to her but I couldn’t really get through to her.

Get to
- have a chance to, be able to
I didn’t get to see her last year but maybe I will have a chance this year.

Get to first base
- make a good start, succeed
I tried to meet the sales manager of the company but I couldn’t get to first base.

Get to the bottom of
- find out the real cause
The government is trying to get to the bottom of the financial problems in the company.

Get to the heart of
- understand the most important thing about something
We were in the meeting for three hours trying to get to the heart of the matter.

Get under one’s skin
- bother someone, upset someone

She always gets under my skin although I don’t really know why I don’t like her.

Get up
- get out of bed, get to one’s feet
I decided to get up early today so that I would be able to go fishing with my friend.

- Fancy dress or costume
What was that strange getup that she was wearing the other day?

- Energy, enthusiasm, drive
He has lots of get-up-and-go and it is difficult to follow him around.

Get up on the wrong side of the bed
- be in a bad mood
He got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning and won’t talk to anyone.

Get up the nerve

- become brave enough
I tried to get up the nerve to ask him about the new job.

Get what’s coming to one
- receive the good or bad that one deserves
He got what was coming to him when he was sent to jail for two years.

Get wind of

- hear about something
I got wind of the company expansion from my friend.

Get wise to something/somebody
- learn about something kept secret
He finally got wise to the fact that they were stealing his money.

Get with it
- pay attention, get busy
I told him to get with it or he would get in trouble with the boss.

(Not a) ghost of a chance
- Very little, (not even) the smallest chance
He doesn’t have a ghost of a chance to finish the book in time for his class.

Gift of the gab
- be good at talking
He has a real gift of the gab and is great at parties.

Give (someone) a hard time
- make trouble for someone, tease
She was giving her boyfriend a hard time about his new haircut.

- sharing, giving and receiving back and forth between people
You must be willing to give-and-take if you want to have a good marriage.

- An open secret, a sale where items are sold very cheap
His speech was a giveaway. Now I know that he is planning to retire.

Give away
- give something to someone
I decided to give away my bicycle because I didn’t need it anymore.

Give away
- let (a secret) become known
I tried to stop her before she gave away my plans to go to Mexico for a holida


*In search of Oyster Pearls*
Dec 31, 2009
A n3st!
Give a wide birth to
- keep away from, keep a safe distance from
I usually give a wide birth to my boss when he is angry.

Give chase
- chase or run after someone or something

The police gave chase to the man who robbed the store.

Give free rein to
- allow to move about or to do something with freedom
He was given free rein in his new job to do what he wanted.

Give ground
- move back, retreat, stop opposing someone
He refused to give ground on his plans to change the system of office management.

Give in
- give someone his own way, stop opposing someone
The company gave in to the union’s demand for more money.

Give it to
- punish, scold
He really gave it to his son when he came back late with the car.

Give off
- send out, let out, put forth
The garbage was beginning to give off a bad smell because of the hot weather.

Give one away

- Show guilt, show one has done wrong

She gave herself away when she said that she hadn’t seen her boyfriend but he had already said that he had met her earlier.

Give one up

- Surrender, stop hiding or running away

The robbers gave themselves up when the police surrounded the house.

Give one up to

- let oneself enjoy, not hold one back from

He gave himself up to enjoy the party although he was feeling sick.

Give one’s right arm

- give something of great value

I would give my right arm to be able to go to Italy with the rest of the group.

Give or take
- Plus or minus a small amount
I think that he is about 45 years old give or take 5 years.

Give out
- give to people, distribute
We gave out more than 600 free baseball caps at the shopping center.

Give out

- fail

We went hiking last week but my legs gave out so we had to return early.

Give out

- be finished, be gone

We went on a week-long backpacking trip but our food gave out after only three days.

Give out
- Let escape
She gave out a loud yell when she saw the big spider.

Give pause to
- cause one to stop and think
His problems should give you pause to think a little more carefully about what you do.

Give rise to
- be the cause of something
The problems with the heating system gave rise to a lot of other problems that we had to solve.

Give someone a hand
- help someone with something
Please give me a hand to move this piano.

Give someone an inch and they will take a mile

- If you give someone a little they will want more and more, some people are never satisfied

If you give him an inch he will take a mile so you shouldn’t give him any more money.

Give someone a piece of your mind

- scold or become angry with someone

When I met her yesterday I really gave her a piece of my mind.

Give someone enough rope and they will hang themselves

- give someone enough time and freedom to do what they want and they will make a mistake or get into trouble and be caught

Don’t worry about trying to control him. If you give him enough rope he will hang himself.

Give someone one’s word

- make a promise or assurance

He gave me his word that he would meet me at the library.

Give someone the ax

- fire an employee (usually abruptly)

He gave the new employee the ax because he was always late.

Give someone the benefit of the doubt

- believe someone is innocent rather than guilty when you are not sure

I gave him the benefit of the doubt but I still think that he is a liar.

Give someone the cold shoulder
- be unfriendly to someone
He gave her the cold shoulder at the party.

Give someone the eye
- look or stare at someone (especially in a cold or unfriendly way)
The man in the store began to give me the eye so I left.

Give someone the green light
- give permission to go ahead with a project
He has been given the green light to begin work on the new housing plan.

Give someone their due
- give someone the credit that they deserve
You have to give him his due. He has successfully saved the company from bankruptcy.

Give someone the slip
- escape from someone
The bank robbers were able to give the police the slip at first but they were soon caught.

Give the devil his due
- be fair (even to someone who is bad and who you dislike)
I don’t like to work with him at all as I think he is lazy. Still you have to give the devil his due because he always gets the job done.

Give it your best shot
- try very hard

Although he didn’t have enough experience he decided to apply for the job and give it his best shot.

Give to understand

- make a person understand by telling him very plainly or boldly

I was given to understand that I could rent an apartment very easily here.

Give up
- Abandon, stop
He has decided to give up his plan to work in Hong Kong for a year.

Give up the ghost
- Stop working, die
My old car finally gave up the ghost so I must buy another one.

(Don’t) give up the ship
- (don’t) stop fighting and surrender, (don’t) stop trying or hoping to do something
Please don’t give up the ship and quit this company. I am sure you still have a useful role to play.

Give voice to
- tell what one feels or thinks
He has begun to give voice to his feelings about the new office building.

Give way
- Collapse, fail
The dam gave way and the water flooded the farmland below.

Glad hand
- A friendly handshake, a warm greeting
The politician spent the morning glad handing the people at the shopping center.

Gloss over
- try to make what is wrong or bad seem right or not important, hide
The accountant tried to gloss over the money that they lost last year.

Go about
- be busy with, start working on
He has been going about his business all morning although he is feeling sick.

Go after
- try to get
The police decided to go after the people who were speeding near the school.

Go ahead
- begin to do something, not wait
Let’s go ahead and start now. We can’t wait for him any longer.

Go along
- move along, continue
He invented the story as he went along.

Go along
- agree, co-operate
They went along with his idea about having a party on the weekend.

Go ape
- become very excited or behave in a crazy way
He went ape when he heard about the money that I had spent.

Go around
go from one place or person to another
We decided to go around from one shop to another until we found a good present.

Go around in circles
- Without getting anywhere, uselessly
He has been going around in circles for weeks now and still hasn’t made any progress with his essay.

Go at
- fight with, attack, and argue
When I entered the room they were going at it loudly.

Go at it hammer and tongs
- fight with great strength or energy, have a bad argument
They were going at it hammer and tongs when the police came to their house.

Go back on
- turn against, not be faithful to
He promised not to go back on his word about the discount tickets.

Go broke
- lose all of one’s money
His company went broke so he quickly lost his job.

Go Dutch
- Two people each pay for themselves
We always go Dutch when we go on a date.

Go for
- try to get, try for

I have decided to go for the new job at the computer center.

Go for broke
- risk everything on one big effort, try as hard as possible
They are going for broke trying to win the new contract.

Go from bad to worse

- get worse, deteriorate

Things are going from bad to worse in the company.


- A person who works hard to become successful, an ambitious person

He is a go-getter. He always works hard and has lots of money because of that.

Go great guns

- do something very fast or very hard, successfully

The workers were going great guns fixing the building when I saw them this morning.

Go halves

- share equally

We have decided to go halves on buying a new computer.

Go haywire

- become damaged, stop working properly

At first everything was going well but later all the plans began to go haywire.

Go in for

- decide to do (something), take part in

He is going to university and has decided to go in for medicine.

Going for (someone)

- In one’s favor

She should do very well as she has many good things going for her.

Go into orbit

- lose one’s temper, become very angry

He went into orbit when he heard about the missing money.

Go jump in a lake

- go away and quit bothering someone

She asked me to borrow some money but I told her to go jump in a lake because she never paid me back before.

Golden opportunity

- Excellent and rare opportunity

The heat wave was a golden opportunity for the ice cream seller to make money.

Good deal

- Good quality and a cheap price

You can usually get a good deal on stereos at that discount store.

Good grief!

- used to show surprise (good or bad)

Good grief! It’s 6
0 and I have not finished this job yet.

good riddance

- used when you lose something and you are happy about it

Good riddance he said when the computer broke down and he had to buy another one.

good riddance to bad rubbish

- used to show you are glad that someone or something has been taken or sent away

Good riddance to bad rubbish! I never liked him and I am glad that he has finally left.

good sport

- Person who loses well

He is a very good sport and never complains about losing.

Go off

- leave, depart

He went off on a trip and he never even bothered to phone and say good-bye.

Go off

- explode, be ignited

The firecracker went off in his hand before he had a chance to put it down.

Go off

- begin to ring or buzz

The fire alarm started to go off just as we entered the building.

Go off half-cocked
- act or speak before being ready
He always goes off half-cocked when he is at a meeting.

Go off the deep end
- give way to emotion
He went off the deep end when he saw the picture in the paper.

Goof off
- fool around, not work or be serious
He has been goofing off all afternoon and has not got any work done.

Go on
- continue
The game went on for about an hour after I left.

Go on
- talk for too long
He started to go on about his problems so I finally left.

Go on
- put on, fit on

The top of the jar wouldn’t go on so I threw it away.

Go (someone) one better
- does something better than someone else, do more or be better than someone
I decided to go him one better and buy a bigger present for my girlfriend.

Go one’s own way
- go or act the way one wants
He has decided to go his own way and will start his own business next year.

Go out of one’s way
- make an extra effort
She went out of her way to help me when I visited her in October.


*In search of Oyster Pearls*
Dec 31, 2009
A n3st!
Go out the window
- be abandoned, go out of effect
The school dress code went out the window when the new principal took over

Go out with (someone)
- date or be dating someone
She went out with him for two years before they got married.

Go over
- examine
The accountant will come to go over the books tomorrow.

Go over well
- be liked, be successful
I am sure that the party will go over well. You have done a lot of preparation for it.

Go overboard
- do something in excess
He really went overboard with the birthday party.

Go steady
- go on dates with the same person all the time, date just one person
My sister has been going steady with the same person for two years.

Go straight
- become an honest person, lead an honest life
He was in prison for awhile but has recently decided to go straight.

Got a thing going
- be engaged in a pleasurable activity with someone else as a partner (in romance or business)
He has a thing going with computer repairs and is making a lot of extra money.

Go the whole hog
- make a thorough job of something
They really went the whole hog in their efforts to welcome the foreign visitors.

Go through

- examine or think about carefully, search

The police went through his house to look for a gun.

Go through

- experience, suffer, and live through

He has been through many hard times since he lost his job.

Go through

- be allowed, pass, and be agreed upon

The law finally went through Congress last week.

Go through changes

- be involved in changing circumstances

She has been going through many changes since her divorce.

Go through with

- finish, do as planned or agreed

He has decided to go through with his plans to go back to school.

Go to one’s head

- become conceited

His new position has really gone to his head and he won’t speak to us any longer.

Go to pieces

- lose your self-control

She went to pieces when she received the letter about her father’s death.

Go to pot

- deteriorate

The business has really gone to pot since he became president.

Go to rack and ruin

- reach a very bad state of repair

The building has gone to rack and ruin since the new owners took over.

Go to town

- work fast or hard, do something with much energy

They really went to town last night and finished painting the bedroom.

Go up in smoke/flames

- burn or be destroyed by fire, fail, not come true (dreams)

His plans to open a new restaurant have gone up in smoke since he lost his job.

Go without saying

- be so easy to see that it doesn’t have to be mentioned

He is a hard worker so it goes without saying that his boss is very happy with him.

Grasp at straws

- try something with little hope of succeeding; depend on something that is useless in a time of trouble

He is grasping at straws. He will never find enough money to pay next month’s rent.

Grass is always greener on the other side

- A place or thing that is far away or different seems better than what we have or where we are

She is always moving or changing jobs as she thinks that the grass is always greener on the other side.

Gravy train

- Job that gives one a lot of money compared with what you do

The cleaning contract was really a gravy train. We only worked for 3 hours but we got paid for 8 hours.

Grease one’s palm

- give money or pay for some special favor

We had to grease the border guard’s palm in order to enter the country.

Greasy spoon

- A small, cheap eating place with basic but not-so-good food

We had to go to a greasy spoon for breakfast as all the other restaurants were closed.


- be inexperienced or immature

He is a little green and doesn’t know the job very well.

Green thumb

- Skill in making plants grow

He has a real green thumb and has a beautiful garden.

Green with envy

- Very jealous, full of envy

The little girl was green with envy when she saw her friend’s new bicycle.

Grind to a halt

- slow down and stop (like a machine when it is turned off)

The city ground to a halt when the power went off for five hours.

Ground floor

- The first or best chance - especially in a business

The video store was a good investment so I was happy to get in on the ground floor.

Gum up
- cause not to work, ruin something, and make something go wrong
The computer printer seemed to have become gummed up just as I was about to print my resume.

Gun for someone
- look hard for a chance to harm or defeat someone
My supervisor has been gunning for me for a long time but I don’t really know why.

Gun for something
- try very hard to get (prize or promotion etc.)
He has been gunning for the new sales job for a long time.

- Enthusiastic, full of eagerness
She is really gung-ho about her new job at the library.


*In search of Oyster Pearls*
Dec 31, 2009
A n3st!
H................................................. ...............................................

Had better

- should do something

I’d better go now or I’ll be late for class.

Hair stand on end

- become frightened or afraid of something

My hair stood on end when I saw the aftermath of the automobile accident.

Hale and hearty

- In very good health, well and strong

My uncle is a hale and hearty fellow who never gets sick.


- Foolish

I didn’t really like his half-baked idea about the new delivery system.

Half the battle

- A large part of the work

Sending the letters out will be half the battle. We can finish the rest of the work next week.

Hammer out

- remove; work out by discussion and debate

The union and managers were able to hammer out an agreement before midnight last night.

Hand down

- arrange to give something to someone after your death

My grandmother handed down her silver jeweler to my mother.

Hand in

- Give to someone, hand to someone

I went to the company early to hand in my job application.

Hand it to (someone)

- give credit or praise to someone

You have to hand it to him - he worked hard and was very successful with his business.

Handle with kid gloves

- be very careful handling someone or something

He is very sensitive so you have to handle him with kid gloves when you speak to him.


- Something given away after another person doesn’t need it (especially clothing)

She was very poor when she was a child and always wore hand-me-down clothing.

Hand out

- give things of the same kind to several people

The teacher decided not to hand out the tests until everyone in the class stopped talking.


- A gift - usually from the government

The government stopped giving hand-outs to the university students as they said they had no money.

- Sheet of paper given to students or people who attend a meeting etc.
Everyone at the meeting was given a hand-out on how to save and invest money.

Hand over

- give control or possession to someone, give something to another person

The criminals were forced to hand over the stolen money to the police.

Hand over fist

- Rapidly

His new company is making money hand over fist.

(One’s) hands are tied

- Unable to help

I’m sorry that I can’t help you with the job but my hands are tied at the moment.

Hands down

- Easy, unopposed

They won the game hands down over the other team.

Hands off

- leave alone, don’t interfere

The government decided to take a hands-off approach to the teachers during the strike.

Hand something to someone on a silver platter

- give a person something that has not been earned

He was handed a great job on a silver platter and never had to make any effort at all.

Hand to mouth

- having only enough money for basic living

He was living a hand to mouth existence until he was finally able to find a job.

Handwriting on the wall

- A sign that something bad will happen

The handwriting is on the wall. Business conditions are bad so probably nobody will get a pay raise this year.


- can easily fix things

He is very handy around the house and is always fixing or building something.

Hang around

- Pass time or stay someplace without any real purpose or aim


*In search of Oyster Pearls*
Dec 31, 2009
A n3st!
We decided to stay home and hang around on Sunday rather than go out to the game.

Hang back

- stay some distance behind or away, hesitate or be unwilling to do something

He lacks self-confidence and always hangs back when his boss asks for volunteers.

Hang by a thread

- be in doubt, depend on a very small thing

The outcome of the election hung by a thread until the last two or three hours.

Hang in the balance

- have two equally possible results, be uncertain

After the opposition party won the election whether or not the new highway will be built hangs in the balance.

Hang in (there)

- persevere, don’t give up

You should hang in there and don’t quit your job just because you don’t like the supervisor.

Hang it!

- A rather old expression used to express annoyance or disappointment

"Hang it", he said when he hit his finger with the hammer.

Hang on

- continue

Although business was very bad he decided to hang on and fight to keep his business going.

Hang on

- wait, continue listening on the telephone

Hang on for a minute while I go and get some paper and a pen.

Hang one on

- get very drunk

He really hung one on last night after he heard about his promotion.

Hang on to

- hold tightly, keep firmly

Please hang on to your hats or the strong wind will blow them off.

Hang out

- spend one’s time idly or lounging about, spend time with someone or a group of people

Recently his brother has been hanging out with a group of people who are not a good influence on him.

Hang out one’s shingle

- Notify the public of the opening of an office - especially a doctor’s or lawyer’s office

He has decided to hang out his own shingle now that he has graduated from law school.

Hang up

- Place on a hook, peg or hangar

Everyone was forced to hang up their jackets before they entered the room.

Hang up

- place a telephone receiver back on the telephone and break the connection

After he hung up the telephone he left to go to work.


- A delay in some process

There was a hang-up in the construction of the office tower because of the fire.


- An inhibition, a neurotic reaction to some life situation

She has a serious hang-up about the dark and is afraid to go out alone at night.

Happy hour

- A time in bars or restaurants when drinks are served at a discount

We stopped at the restaurant during happy hour and had a couple of drinks.

Hard and fast rule

- Rules that cannot be altered to fit special cases

There is no hard and fast rule that says you can’t use a cellular phone in the train.

Hard as nails

- Physically very fit and strong, rough, stern

He is as hard as nails and is not a good person to have an argument with.

Hard feelings

- Anger or bitterness

I don’t have any hard feelings toward him even though he fired me.


- Not weak or soft, stubborn - especially in a fight, contest or negotiations

The company had a hard-nosed attitude while bargaining with the union.

Hard nut to crack

- A person or thing not easily understood or influenced

He is a hard nut to crack and is not close to many people.

Hard on (someone/something)

- treat something/someone roughly

His son is very hard on shoes.

Hard pressed

- burdened with urgent business

I am a little hard pressed for time. Can we meet later?

Hard sell

- selling something very aggressively and with great eagerness

I didn’t like their hard sell attitude at the car dealership so I went to another dealer.

Hard up

- Short of money

I am hard up for money at the moment so I can’t go to the movie.

Harp on

- talk repeatedly and tediously about something

He has been harping on his lack of money for a few months now.


- Bothersome

It is a real hassle to have to report to him two times a day.

Hatchet man

- A politician etc. whose job it is to say negative things about the opposition, a person in a company who must fire extra workers or cut other expenses etc.

He is acting as a hatchet man for the leader but I don’t think that he really believes what he is saying.

Hate one’s guts

- feel very strong dislike for someone

I absolutely hate her guts after she caused me so many problems at my company.

Have a ball

- have a good time

She had a ball at the party last night.

Have a crush on

- be attracted to someone

Her sister has had a crush on him for a long time.

Have a fit

- become upset

She had a fit when she saw what her son did to the car.

Have a go at

- try something especially after others have tried it

I decided to have a go at applying for the job after my boss recommended me.

Have a hand in

- be partly responsible for something

I think that she had a hand in getting her friend fired from her job.

Have a head on one’s shoulders

- be smart or sensible

That new salesman really has a head on his shoulders.

Have an edge on

- have an advantage (over someone)

Their team has an edge on the race to win the high school football championship.

Have an eye for

- have good taste in something, be able to judge correctly

She has an eye for nice furniture and her apartment is absolutely beautiful.

(Not) have anything to do with someone

- (not) want to be a friend of or work or have business with someone

My father will not have anything to do with the salesman because he sold him the faulty car.

Have a screw loose

- act in a strange way, be foolish

He is a really strange person. I think that he has a screw loose somewhere.

Have a time

- have trouble, have a hard time

She really had a time last night when her car stopped working completely

Have a time

- have a good time, have fun

We really had a time at the party last night.

Have a way with

- be able to lead, persuade or influence others

The little girl really has a way with horses. They are very gentle when she is around.

Have a word with

- Converse briefly

I will have a word with him before he goes home tonight.

Have been around

- have been to many places and done many things, be experienced

My brother has really been around and has been overseas many times.

Have dibs on

- demand a share of something or be in line to use something

I have dibs on the computer and would like to use it as soon as possible.

Have egg on one’s face

- be embarrassed

He really has egg on his face after finding out about his mistake.

Have eyes only for

- give all one’s attention to, be interested only in

She has eyes only for her boyfriend.

Have half a mind

- feel tempted or inclined to do something

I have half a mind to go and offer my resignation to the president.

Have had it (with someone or something)

- can’t tolerate anymore

I have really had it with her constant complaining.

Have in mind

- intend, plan

What do you have in mind for your wife’s birthday?

Have it

- hear or get news, understand

I have it that the new president will be coming to see us next week.

Have it

- claim, say

Rumor has it that three of the supervisors will be leaving next week.

Have it

- allow (usually used with will or would)

We wanted to have a party at our office next month but our boss won’t have it.

Have it

- get or find the answer

I think I finally have it. The reason she is leaving is because she is going to have a baby.

Have it both ways

- do two things, have both things

You can’t have it both ways. You must choose one or the other.

Have it coming

- deserve a punishment

He really has it coming to him after causing the problems in the company.

Have it in for someone

- show ill will or dislike a person

I have been having problems at work recently because I think that the new supervisor has it in for me.

Have it made

- be successful, have everything

He really has it made with his new job.

Have it out with someone

- settle or discuss something with someone angrily

I had it out with her yesterday over the problem with the money.

Have on

- be wearing something

What did she have on when you last saw her?

Have one’s ass in a sling

- be in an uncomfortable predicament, be at a disadvantage

He really has his ass in a sling now that he has quit his job and can’t find another one.

Have one’s eye on

- have a wish for something, have as an aim, look or think about something

I want to buy a nice present for my girlfriend so I have my eye on a nice dress that I saw at the department store last week.

Have one’s feet on the ground

- be practical or sensible

The new sales manager really has his feet on the ground.

Have one’s heart set on something

- want something very much

The child has his heart set on getting a new bicycle for his birthday.

Have over

- invite someone to your house

We will have you over when we settle into our new house.

Have rocks in one’s head

- be stupid, not have good judgment

She really has rocks in her head. She should never have bought that old car.

Have (something) going for one

- have ability, talent or good looks

She has a lot going for her and I am sure that she will get the new job.

Have something on someone

- have information or proof that someone did something wrong

I think that the police have something on him and that is why he wants to quit his job.

Have something on the ball

- be smart, clever, and skilled

She really has a lot on the ball. She should do well in whatever she chooses to do.

Have something up one’s sleeve

- Something kept secretly ready for the right time

I’m not too worried about the meeting as I have something up my sleeve if they try to cause any more problems.

Have sticky fingers

- be a thief

He was fired because of his sticky fingers at the cash register.

Have the last laugh

- make someone seem foolish for having laughed at you first

I had the last laugh when I was able to get home early while everyone else had to stay overnight at the airport because of the storm.

Have (got) to

- Obliged or forced to, must

I have to leave at 4 o’clock or I will be late for my appointment.

Have to do with

- be about or on the subject or connected with something

The book has something to do with cooking but I am not sure if you will like it.

Have two strikes against one

- have things working against one, be in a difficult situation

He already has two strikes against him and it will be very difficult for him to get the job.


- Broken or confused

The plan went haywire when their directions became confused.

Head above water

- Out of difficulty, clear of trouble


*In search of Oyster Pearls*
Dec 31, 2009
A n3st!
Although he works very hard he is not able to keep his head above water financially.


- Search for qualified individuals to fill certain positions

The head-hunting company has phoned me several times about getting a new job.

Head in the clouds

- daydreaming

He always has his head in the clouds and can never answer a question easily.

Head off

- get in front of and stop, turn back

In the western movie the soldiers went to head off the gang at the mountain pass.

Head off

- block, stop, prevent

They were able to head off a strike by the union at the last minute.


- Front end to front end, with the front facing

There was a serious head-on crash on the highway last night.


- In a way that is exactly opposite, opposed to someone in an argument or fight

They decided to deal with their opponents in a head-on manner in order to win the battle.

Head out

- leave, start out

It is time that we head out for the movie now or we will be late.

Head over heels

- Upside down, head first

He fell head over heels when his bicycle hit the wall.

Head over heels

- Completely, deeply

She fell head over heels in love with the guy that she met at the party.

Head shirker

- Psychiatrist

The criminal had to go and see a head shrinker after the judge sentenced him to life in prison.

Head start

- To leave or start something before others

They left early in order to get a head start on the trip.

Head up

- be at the head of (a group), a leader

The president headed up a group of people going overseas to promote trade.

Hear from

- receive a letter/phone call/news from someone

I haven’t heard from my university roommate for over one year.

Heart goes out to someone

- One feels sympathy for someone

My heart went out to the victims of the railway accident.

Heart is in the right place

- be kindhearted, sympathetic, have good intentions

He makes some serious mistakes sometimes but his heart is in the right place.

Heart of gold

- A kind, generous or forgiving personality

My grandmother has a heart of gold and everyone loves her.

Heart of stone

- Someone with a nature with no pity

She has a heart of stone and is not at all interested in how other people feel.

Heart skips a beat

- be startled or excited from surprise, joy or fright

My heart skipped a beat when the truck almost hit us last night.

Heart stands still

- be very frightened or worried

My heart stood still when I heard the story about the little boy and the fire.


- Honest or intimate

They had a heart-to-heart talk before they decided to get married.

Heavy heart

- A feeling of sadness or unhappiness

He seems to have a heavy heart now that his wife has died.

Hedge in

- keep from getting out or moving freely, block in

My car was hedged in by the other cars and I was unable to move it this morning.

Hell and high water

- Troubles or difficulties of any kind

They went through hell and high water in order to get the food to the flood victims.


- A short-tempered, nagging or crabby person

She is hell-on-wheels in the morning so you should be careful of her.


- In a confusing group, in disorder

When we arrived at work we found all of the files scattered helter-skelter over the floor.

Hem and haw

- avoid giving a clear answer, be evasive in speech

He hemmed and hawed when I asked him if he knew where the missing money was.

Here and now

- Immediately

I want you to do that work right here and now.

Here and there

- In various places, go to various places

We went here and there during our holidays.

Here goes

- Ready to begin while hoping for the best

Well, here goes. I am going to go and ask her for a date right now.

Here goes nothing

- Ready to begin - but it will be a waste of time and will probably fail

Here goes nothing. I have already asked him to lend me some money and he always says no but I’ll try again.

Hide (bury) one’s head in the sand

- keep from knowing something dangerous or unpleasant

He hates to talk about important matters and hides his head in the sand when I try to talk to him.

High and dry

- stranded, out of the current of events

They left him high and dry when they moved the company to Europe.

High and low

- Every place

We looked high and low for her watch but we couldn’t find it.

High and mighty

- Arrogant

He has a high and mighty attitude to all of his employees.

High gear

- Top speed, full activity

The preparations for his visit have been going in high gear all week.


- Bossy, dictatorial, depending on force rather than what is right

My supervisor always takes a high-handed approach when dealing with her employees.

(The) high life

- A luxurious existence

They have been living the high life since they moved to Las Vegas.

High seas

- The ocean (away from the coast)

The crew of the ship spent three months on the high seas before going to shore for a visit.

(Be in) high spirits

- have energy, be cheerful

They are in high spirits since their home team won the tournament.

High time

- The time before something should already have been done

It is high time that we spent some time cleaning up our house.

Highway robbery

- An extremely high price for something

The price that we had to pay for the theater tickets was highway robbery.

Hire out

- accept a job, take employment

He decided to hire himself out as a dancer while he was going to school.

Hire out

- rent to someone

We rented out our boat last summer because we were too busy to use it.

Hit and miss

- Unplanned, uncontrolled, aimless, careless

We are looking for a new apartment but it seems to be hit and miss whether we can find a good one.


- An accident where the driver of the car drives away without leaving his address

My sister was involved in a hit-and-run accident last Sunday afternoon.


- striking suddenly and leaving quickly

The army made a hit-and-run attack on the enemy soldiers.

Hit bottom

- be at the very lowest, not be able to go any lower

The economy hit bottom last year but is finally starting to improve.

Hitch one’s wagon to a star

- Aim high, follow a great ambition or purpose

He wants to hitch his wagon to a star and pursue his dreams of becoming an actor.

Hither and thither

- In one direction and then in another

He looked hither and thither when he discovered that he had lost his wallet.

Hit it off with someone

- get along well with someone

We really hit it off at the party.

Hit on/upon

- find what you want or think of something by chance

We hit upon the idea of going to the lake for our holiday after our airline reservations were cancelled.

Hit parade

- A list of songs arranged in order of popularity

We listened to all the songs on the hit parade last night.

Hit someone between the eyes

- make a strong impression on someone, surprise greatly

Her incredible performance really hit me between the eyes.

Hit the books

- study or prepare for class

He stayed home all weekend and hit the books.

Hit the bottle

- drink alcohol (usually a negative meaning)

She started to hit the bottle soon after her divorce.

Hit the bull’s-eye

- go to the most important part of a matter, reach the main question

She hit the bull’s-eye when she suggested that decreasing costs was more important than increasing sales.

Hit the ceiling

- get angry

His wife is going to hit the ceiling when she sees the bill for the car repair.

Hit the deck

- get up from bed, start working

Let’s hit the deck and get this work done before supper.

Hit the dirt

- fall on the ground and take cover under gunfire

We were told to hit the dirt during the bank robbery.

Hit the hay

- go to bed

I decided to hit the hay early last night because I was very tired.

Hit the high spots

- consider or mention only the more important parts of something

He only had time to hit the high spots in his report but still it was very interesting.


*In search of Oyster Pearls*
Dec 31, 2009
A n3st!
Hit the jackpot

- be very lucky or successful

She hit the jackpot when she went to Las Vegas last weekend.

Hit the nail on the head

- make a correct guess or analysis

He really hit the nail on the head when he wrote the report about the bank’s problems.

Hit the road

- Leave - usually in a car

We should hit the road early tomorrow morning if we want to reach the seashore before evening.

Hit the roof

- become very angry, go into a rage

He hit the roof when he found out that his son had wrecked the family car.

Hit the sack

- go to bed

I’m a little bit tired so I think that I will hit the sack now.

Hit the sauce

- Drink alcohol - usually heavily and regularly

He has been hitting the sauce now for a couple of months although he says that he doesn’t drink.

Hit the spot

- refresh or satisfy

Drinking the lemonade after the baseball game really hit the spot.

Hold a candle to

- be in the same class or level with (used with a negative usually), can be compared with

As far as good service goes that restaurant can’t hold a candle to the one that I usually go to.

Hold a grudge

- Not forgive someone for something

He has been holding a grudge against the company manager for a number of years.

Hold all the trump cards

- have the best chance of winning, have full control

It will be difficult to do well in the negotiations with him as he holds all the trump cards.

Hold back

- stay back or away, show unwillingness, prevent someone from doing something

He always holds back during meetings and never says anything.

Hold court

- Act like a king or queen among their subjects

He always acts like he is holding court among his subjects when I see him in his office.

Hold down

- keep in obedience, keep control of

The government was able to hold down the people for many years but finally they revolted and got rid of the government.

Hold down a job

- keep a job

He has a serious drinking problem and is unable to hold down a job.

Hold forth

- offer, propose

The company held forth a promise to give all of the employees an extra bonus in the summer.

Hold forth

- speak in public, talk about

He was holding forth about taxes again last night when I saw him in his office.

hold good

- continue, endure, last

The demand for air conditioners held good during July but decreased rapidly in August.

hold off

- delay, not begin

The concert will be held off until next week.

hold off

- keep away by force

The man was able to hold off the police for several hours before he was arrested.

hold on

- wait a minute, stop, wait and not hang up the phone

Please hold on for a minute while I go back and lock the window.

hold one`s breath

- stop breathing for a moment when one is excited or nervous

I had to stop and hold my breath while I was waiting for the announcement of the winning names.

hold one`s fire

- keep back arguments or facts, keep from telling something

You should hold your fire during the meeting and save the rest of the information until next week.

hold one`s horses

- stop and wait patiently

Hold your horses for a minute while I return to get my wallet.

hold one`s own (in an argument)

- defend one`s position

Although her boss is very aggressive she is always able to hold her own in any dispute with him.

hold one`s peace

- be silent and not speak against something, be still

Please try and hold your peace during the meeting as it will be to our disadvantage if we have a confrontation.

hold one`s tongue

- keep quiet

He decided to hold his tongue rather than give his honest opinion.

hold on to

- continue to hold or keep, hold tightly

Hold on to your bag when you are in the bus or someone may try and steal it.

hold out

- reach out, extend

She held out her hand to help her daughter climb up the stairs.


- someone who refuses to give something up, a non-conformist

He was the last hold-out in our effort to make sure that everyone wore a necktie to work.

hold out for something

- refuse to give up, keep resisting

The famous basketball star is holding out for a large salary increase.

hold out on

- refuse something to a person

He is holding out on me and wont give me the latest sales figures.

hold over

- extend the engagement of, keep longer

The movie was held over for another week.

hold something back

- keep information or something to or for oneself

He is holding back the information about the new computer system.

hold still

- not move

Please hold still while I fix your jacket zipper.

hold the fort

- cope in an emergency, act as a temporary substitute

He has been holding the fort at his company while his boss is on vacation.

hold the line

- not yield to pressure or something

The company has been holding the line on any new salary increases.

hold the reins

- be the most influential person

He has been holding the reins in his company for many years.

hold up

- lift, raise

The students hold up their hands when they have a question.

hold up

- support, carry

The main beams in the house are holding up the total weight of the house.

hold up

- check, stop, delay

The traffic was held up for over three hours at the border crossing.

hold up

- rob at gunpoint

The criminal was able to hold up three people before he was caught.

hold up

- keep up one`s courage or spirits

Her spirits are holding up quite well even though she does not have a job now.

hold up

- remain good, not get worse

Sales during the first six months of the year have held up very well compared to last year.

hold up

- prove true

Her story held up during the questioning by the police.


- a robbery

He was involved in a hold-up when he was in the supermarket last weekend.

hold water

- be a sound idea

His proposal for a new work scheduling system doesn`t hold water.

hole in the wall

- a small place to live, stay in or work in; small hidden or inferior place

We went for a drink at a little hole in the wall near the university last night.


- acting as if one is better than others in goodness or character etc.

I don`t like him because he always takes a holier-than-thou attitude toward everyone else.

holy cats

- used to express strong feelings of astonishment, pleasure or anger

Holy cats he said as he looked out and saw the water rising in the river.

holy cow

- used to express strong feelings of astonishment, pleasure or anger

Holy cow! There are over one hundred people standing in front of our house.

holy mackerel

- used to express strong feelings of astonishment, pleasure or anger

"Holy mackerel," cried the little boy when he saw the new bicycle he got for his birthday.

holy Moses

- used to express strong feelings of astonishment, pleasure or anger

Holy Moses! It is already noon and I haven`t even started work yet.

holy terror

- a very disobedient or unruly child

The little boy is a holy terror and his parents never want to take him anywhere.

honeymoon is over

- the first happy period of friendship and cooperation between two groups is over

The honeymoon was over for the new President after about two months.


- a cheap night-club or dance hall

We went to a small honky-tonk in the small town where we stopped last night.

hook, line and sinker

- without question or doubt, completely

She fell in love with her new boyfriend hook, line and sinker.

hook up

- connect or fit together

As soon as we moved to our new apartment we had to hook up the phone.


- a connection

The new hook-up for the computer is not working very well.

hope against hope

- continue to hope when things look very bad

The rescue team were hoping against hope that the lost hikers would be found alive.

hop to it

- get started, start a job, get going

We must hop to it and try to get this job done before dinner.

hopped up

- high on a drug or on alcohol

The man who tried to rob the store was hopped up on some kind of drug.

horn in on

- come in without an invitation or welcome, interfere

He horned in on our conversation although he knows that nobody likes him.

horse around

- play around, join in rough teasing


*In search of Oyster Pearls*
Dec 31, 2009
A n3st!
The children were horsing around in the school yard when the bell rang for class.

horse of a different color

- something altogether separate and different

We should not be talking about that issue now. It is a horse of a different color entirely.

horse sense

- good judgement, wisdom in making decisions

He has a lot of good horse sense so you can expect him to make an intelligent decision.

horse trade

- business agreement arrived at after hard negotiations

We had to do a lot of horse trading but we were finally able to reach an agreement to buy the antique car.

hot air

- nonsense, exaggerated talk

He is full of hot air and you can`t rely on what he usually says.

hot and bothered

- excited and worried, displeased

I don`t know what is wrong with her but she is hot and bothered about something.

a hot potato

- a situation likely to cause trouble to the person handling it

The issue of the non-union workers is a real hot potato that we must deal with.

hot rod

- an automobile changed so that it can go very fast

He has always loved cars and was a member of his local hot rod club when he was a teenager.

hot water

- trouble

He has been in hot water at work since he took a week off with no excuse.

house of cards

- something badly put together and easily knocked down, a poorly founded plan/action

The peace agreement between the two countries was like a house of cards and fell apart as soon as a minor problem occurred.

how about

- will you have something or will you agree to something

How about some coffee before we go to work?

how about

- what is to be done about something

We can`t use her computer but how about one of the other staff members?

how about

- how do you feel about/think about something

She is not interested in the job but how about one of her friends?

how come

- why

How come you don`t telephone her if you want to talk to her so much?

how`s that

- what did you say

How`s that? I couldn`t hear you because the radio was too loud.

hue and cry

- an excited protest or alarm or outcry

They raised a big hue and cry when they realized that we had failed to notify the bank about our financial problems.


- something kept secret or hidden, concealed

What is the big hush-hush? Everyone seems to be very quiet this morning.

hush up

- keep news of something from getting out, prevent people from knowing about something

The government tried to hush up the bad economic figures but the news media soon discovered the facts.

hush up

- be or make quiet, stop talking/crying/making noise

The child was told to hush up by her mother when they were in the department store.


- have an excess of energy, be excited

She has been hyped up all morning because she will go to Italy for a holiday next week.


*In search of Oyster Pearls*
Dec 31, 2009
A n3st!
in a way

- to a certain extent, a little, somewhat

In a way I would like to go but basically I don`t care.

in a word

- briefly, to sum up

In a word, the problem with the car is that it needs a new motor.

in a world of one`s own

- in deep thought or concentration, not caring about other people

He is always in a world of his own and doesn`t notice what other people say or think.

in black and white

- in writing

I want to get the information in black and white before I go to the meeting.

in cahoots with

- in secret agreement or partnership with someone

The supermarket was in cahoots with the vegetable producer to try and keep the prices high.

in case

- as a precaution, in order to be prepared

In case there is a fire, we keep our computer backup files in a fireproof safe.

in character

- as usual, typical, in the way that a person usually behaves

Supporting the other members of the staff is in character with her usual actions.

in charge

- in control or authority, responsible

He is charge of the sales department at his company.

in check

- under control, kept quiet or back

The violence was kept in check by the police department and the army.

in clover

- rich or successful, having a pleasant or easy life

They are in clover now that they have sold their business and retired.

in cold blood

- without feeling or pity, cooly and deliberately

The family was murdered in cold blood by the criminal gang.

in common

- shared together or equally, in use or ownership by all

We had to use the bathroom in common with the other people in the house.

in deep

- seriously mixed up in something like debt or trouble

He owes a lot of money and is in very deep with his new house and car.

in due course

- in the usual amount of time, at the right time

We will send the information to you in due course.

in fact

- actually, the truth is

He`s been to China before. In fact he`s been there three times.

in for

- unable to avoid, sure to get

He is in for a lot of trouble now that he is unable to finish his graduation essay.

in good time

- a little early, sooner than necessary

I will try and get the information to you in good time so that you will be able to decide what to do.

in hand

- under control

The teacher had the class in hand when the principal came to visit the classroom.

in hot water

- in trouble

I am in hot water over the extra expenses that I used during the conference.

in keeping with

- going well together, agreeing, similar

In keeping with our tradition of letting the visiting team kick first we will do it for this game as well.

in kind

- in a similar way, with the same kind of thing

We will pay them back in kind for the use of their sailboat.

in league with

- in secret agreement or partnership with someone

The union has been in league with management in trying to build the new factory.

in light of

- as a result of new information, because of

In light of his contribution to the company we decided to give him a large summer bonus.

in line

- doing or being what people expect or accept, within ordinary limits

It was difficult to keep the children in line at the picnic but somehow we managed.

in love

- liking very much, loving

He has been in love with his girlfriend ever since he met her in high school.

in luck

- having good luck, finding something good by chance

I think that we are in luck. I have found two tickets for the concert.

in memory of

- as a reminder of, as a memorial to

We decided to put our money together and buy a painting in memory of our grandfather.

in nothing flat

- quickly

I will have this information printed out for you in nothing flat.

in no time

- soon, quickly

I will have this done for you in no time and then you can go for lunch.

in on

- joining together for something

We went in on a present for our father for Father`s Day.

in on

- told about, having knowledge of

I was finally let in on the secret about why she left our company.

in one`s element

- in an environment or situation that comes naturally to someone

She is in her element being in charge of the new sales department.

in one`s face

- abruptly, unexpectedly

The plan blew up in our face just as we were ready to start.

in one`s good books (graces)

- approved of by someone, liked by someone

I have been in her good books since I helped her with her work last month.

in one`s hair

- annoying someone

She has been in my hair all morning because she is on her summer holiday starting this week.

in one`s mind`s eye

- in one`s imagination

In your mind`s eye try and imagine that you are on a nice sunny beach in Hawaii.

in one`s shell

- withdrawn, silent, not sociable

We have been trying to get her out of her shell but it is of no use. She doesn`t want to talk to anyone.

in one`s shoes

- in someone elses place or position

I wish that I was in his shoes with his great job and new car.

in one`s tracks

- abruptly, immediately, just where one is at the moment

I was forced to stop in my tracks when I saw the snake on the road.

in order to

- for the purpose of

We have decided to close down the school for the summer in order to do some major repairs.

in other words

- say something in a different (usually more direct) way

In other words if you don`t finish the assignment by Wednesday you will not pass the course.

in part

- to some extent, partly

I think the reason he is not golfing well this year is in part due to his problem with his back.

in point of fact

- really, truthfully

In point of fact there were not enough people at the meeting to vote on the proposal.

ins and outs

- all the details

He knows all the ins and outs of the new machine.

in seventh heaven

- very happy

I have been in seventh heaven since I started my new job.

in short supply

- not enough, in less than the amount or number needed

Chairs were in short supply so some of the guests had to sit on the floor.

inside and out

- in every part, completely

We looked through the room inside and out for my lost wallet.

inside out

- so that the inside is turned outside

She turned her purse inside out in order to look for her lost key.

inside track

- an advantage, shortest distance around a racetrack

I think that he has the inside track on getting the new job at the computer company.

in spite of

- in opposition to, despite

In spite of the terrible weather we went to the beach for a picnic.

instead of

- in place of

Let`s meet at the restaurant instead of the department store as we had planned.

in stitches

- laughing

They were in stitches over their teacher`s joke.


*In search of Oyster Pearls*
Dec 31, 2009
A n3st!
in stock

- having something ready to sell or use

The store didn`t have any computer discs in stock so we bought some over the Internet.

in store

- ready to happen, waiting

I don`t really know what the future has in store for me but I will be ready for anything.

in the air

- current, exerting an influence

It is in the air that we will be getting a new president next week.

in the bag

- certain, sure

The new contract will be in the bag if we put in a good proposal.

in the black

- have a credit balance, make a profit

The company has been in the black for over three years now.

in the cards

- to be expected, likely to happen, predictable

I think that a new company structure is in the cards but I can`t be sure.

in the charge of

- under the care or supervision of

She has been in the charge of her grandmother since her mother and father died.

in the clear

- with nothing to limit action, free of anything that makes moving or seeing difficult

We seem to be in the clear now so it should be safe to cross the road.

in the clear

- free of blame or suspicion

The police talked to the three boys for a few minutes but they seem to be in the clear now.

in the clouds

- far from real life, in dreams, in thought

He is usually in the clouds so you may have trouble finding out what you want to know from him.

in the course of

- during

In the course of his life he visited over 45 countries.

in the dark

- having no information about something

He is still in the dark about my plans to quit my job.

in the doghouse

- in trouble

He is in the doghouse with his wife after staying out drinking last night.

in the first place

- firstly, to begin with

Of course I can`t go. In the first place I must work on Saturday. In the second place I have no money.

in the groove

- at one`s best, doing something very well

We are finally getting in the groove and should be able to finish this job by early next week.

in the hole

- having a score lower than zero in a game, a score below zero

At the beginning of the card game I was in the hole but later I began to do well.

in the hole

- in debt, behind financially

Although he is always working he always seems to be in the hole

in the line of duty

- done or happening as part of a job

The police officer was killed in the line of duty during the bank robbery.

in the long run

- the distant future, in the end

For now he is losing money on his stocks but in the long run he should make money.

in the market for

- wanting or ready to buy something

I am in the market for a new computer as my old one is too slow.

in the red

- lose money, not make a profit

The company has been in the red for three years now.

in the saddle

- in command, in control

The president is back in the saddle again after being ill for several months.

in the same boat

- in a similar situation

We are all in the same boat now that our company has gone out of business.

in the soup

- in serious trouble, in disorder

She is in the soup now that she has had a big fight with her boss.

in the swim

- active in or knowing what is going on

He is definitely in the swim. He has information about everybody.

in the wake of

- as a result of, following

In the wake of the large number of people who have recently left our company we will need to hire some more people.

in the wind

- soon to happen, being planned

It is in the wind that they are planning to open a new store next year.

in the works

- in preparation, being planned or worked on

Don`t worry about whether or not we will be building the new computer lab. It is definitely in the works.

in the wrong

- wrong; against justice, truth or fact

The driver was in the wrong and was arrested by the police after the accident.

in time

- early enough

I didn`t come home in time to meet my cousin.

into thin air

- completely, without anything left

The group of hikers vanished into thin air and were never heard of again.

in touch
- talking or writing to each other, giving or getting news

We are still in touch even though we have been out of school for many years.

in tow

- being pulled

The truck had a trailer in tow when it went off the highway.

in tow

- being taken from place to place, along with someone

She spent the morning at the shopping center with her child in tow.

in tune

- going well together, in agreement, matching

We have been in tune with each other ever since we met at our high school graduation party.

in turn
- each following another

We went up to the front of the class in turn in order to pick up our diplomas.

in two shakes of a lamb`s tail

- quickly, in no time at all

I will have this finished in two shakes of a lamb`s tail and then I will give it to you.

in vain
- without effect, without success

We tried in vain to find a good job but it was impossible.

in view of

- after thinking about, because of

In view of the large number of people who have come I think that we will need a bigger room.

in with

- in friendship, favor or closeness with

I think that he was in with the wrong group of people when he was in high school.

iron out

- work out

We have ironed out all of our problems and are finally doing better.

irons in the fire

- things one is doing, projects with which a person is busy

Recently he has too many irons in the fire. That is why he has become sick.

itching palm
- a wish for money, greed

The guard at the border crossing has an itching palm so be careful of him.

J................................................. ................................................


- a person who can do many things

We gave him a job because we needed a jack-of-all-trades around the factory to look after the many repairs.

jack up

- raise prices

The gas station jacked up their prices during the snow storm.

jam on the brakes

- quickly put the brakes on in a car to stop

He jammed on the brakes and was able to avoid hitting the child.


- crowded, full

The train that we took this morning was jam-packed with people.

jazz up

- brighten up, add more noise or movement or color

They really jazzed up the community center for the party tonight.

John Doe

- name used for an unknown person

Why do the application forms use "John Doe" as the name of the person who is applying for something?

John Henry (John Hancock)

- signature

Please sign your John Henry here and we will process your order right away.


- new-comer

He`s a Johnny-come-lately and doesn`t really know what he is talking about.


- be at the right place when needed, right on time

He`s always Johnny-on-the-spot. Just when we need him he arrives.

jump all over someone

- criticize, scold, blame

As soon as I began to talk about my plans for the summer he jumped all over me.

jump at

- take or accept quickly and gladly

He jumped at the chance to go to Europe on company business.

jump bail

- run away and fail to come to trial and give up the money you have already paid to the court

He jumped bail and decided to go and live in a foreign country.


*In search of Oyster Pearls*
Dec 31, 2009
A n3st!
jump on someone

- scold, criticize, blame

Everyone jumped on him at the meeting because they were angry about the new schedules.

jump on the bandwagon (also get or climb on the bandwagon)

- join a popular activity

Everyone has jumped on the bandwagon to try and stop smoking in the workplace.

jump out of one`s skin

- be badly frightened

I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw him at the window.

jump the gun

- start before you should

He jumped the gun and started selling the tickets before he should.

jump through a hoop

- do whatever one is told to do, obey any order

He is always ready to jump through a hoop for his boss so he is not very popular with the other employees.

jump to conclusions

- make a quick conclusion without thinking

Please don`t jump to conclusions over who broke the computer.

just about

- nearly, almost

I waited just about one hour before the concert started.

just now

- this very moment, a minute ago

The accident happened just now. The police haven`t even arrived yet.

just so

- with great care, very carefully

She always makes sure that her hair is just so before she goes out.

just the same

- nevertheless

I told her not to come early but just the same she came early anyway.

just what the doctor ordered

- exactly what is needed or wanted

Having the extra day off from work was just what the doctor ordered and he was able to get his many errands finished.


kangaroo court

- a self-appointed group that decides how to punish someone who is supposed to have done something wrong

The men were convicted by the people in the town but it was like a kangaroo court and nobody agreed with the decision.

Katie bar the door

- get ready for trouble, a desperate situation is at hand

The gang arrived at the bar and were ready to come in and fight. Well, Katie bar the door.

keel over

- fall over and faint

Three of the members of the band suddenly keeled over because of the heat.

keel over

- turn upside down, tip over

The boat keeled over in the middle of the lake but everybody was safe.

keep after

- remind someone over and over

I always have to keep after her to do her job properly.

keep an eye on something or someone

- watch (as in take care of something)

Will you keep an eye on the baby while I go to the store.

keep a secret

- not tell a secret to others

I have been trying to keep a secret about her boyfriend for a long time now.

keep a stiff upper lip

- be brave, face trouble bravely

The prisoners tried hard to keep a stiff upper lip in spite of the hardships of the prison.

keep at

- persist with

He has decided to keep at his studies so I am sure he will succeed.

keep body and soul together

- keep alive, survive

It was very cold during the winter but somehow she was able to keep body and soul together and survived.

keep books

- keep records of money gained and spent, do the work of a bookkeeper

My first job was to keep books for a small company in my hometown.

keep down

- keep from progressing or growing, keep within limits, control

The students were told to keep down the noise as some of the other classes were having exams.

keep from

- prevent, refrain from

I love ice cream and couldn`t keep from eating three bowls.

keep good time

- work accurately (a clock)

My watch has not been keeping good time lately.

keep house

- look after a house or a household

She has been keeping house for her father while he is sick.

keep in touch

- talk or write to someone

I have always tried to keep in touch with my friends from high school.

keep on (doing something)

- continue

She is careless and keeps on making the same mistakes over and over.

keep one`s chin up

- be brave, be determined

Try and keep your chin up. Things will get better in the future.

keep one`s eye on the ball

- be watchful and ready

You should keep your eye on the ball or you will make a mistake.

keep one`s fingers crossed

- wish for good results in something one is doing

Please keep your fingers crossed that I will pass the exam.

keep one`s head

- stay calm when there is trouble or danger

He is a very good leader and always is able to keep his head during an emergency.

keep one`s head above water

- have the ability to pay one`s bills

He is having trouble keeping his head above water since his salary has decreased.

keep one`s mouth shut

- be or stay silent

I was very angry so I told him to keep his mouth shut. Later I had to apologize.

keep one`s nose clean

- stay out of trouble

He has been managing to keep his nose clean since he moved to the new town.

keep one`s nose to the grindstone

- work very hard

He has been keeping his nose to the grindstone recently and I haven`t had a chance to see him.

keep one`s own counsel

- keep one`s ideas and plans to oneself

He always keeps his own counsel and never really reveals his plans to anyone.

keep one`s shirt on

- calm down, keep from losing one`s temper or getting impatient

Try and keep your shirt on! Everything is going to be alright in a few minutes.

keep one`s wits about one

- stay calm when there is trouble or danger

Although there was a fire in the building he was able to keep his wits about him and help everybody to safety.

keep one`s word

- fulfill one`s promise

She never keeps her word so I don`t believe that she will come to the party.

keep pace

- go as fast, go at the same rate

It was difficult to keep pace with the other students but somehow I managed.

keep quiet

- remain silent

Could you all please keep quiet and listen to the instructor.

keep someone on

- allow someone to continue working for you

Although we have too many workers we have decided to keep him on until business improves.

keep tabs on

- watch or check, keep under observation

They have been keeping tabs on the spending of the sales department.

keep the ball rolling

- keep up an activity or action, not allow something that is happening to slow or stop

We should try to keep the ball rolling and get as much of our work done while everyone is still here.

keep the home fires burning

- keep things going as usual while someone is away

Don`t worry about anything. I will stay home and keep the home fires burning while you are on your holiday.

keep track of

- maintain a record

Please carefully keep track of your expenses during the trip.

keep (someone) up

- prevent someone from going to bed

They kept me up last night with their noisy radio.

keep time

- show the right time

My new watch keeps perfect time so I am very happy.

keep time

- keep the beat, keep the same rhythm

It is difficult for him to keep time with the other members of the band but at least he tries.

keep under one`s hat

- keep secret, not tell

He won`t say where he is going for his holiday. He wants to keep it under his hat.

keep up appearances

- keep an outward show of prosperity or good behavior

They have been trying to keep up appearances even though he has lost his job.

keep up

- go on, not stop, continue

He is working hard to keep up the same level of production as last year.

keep up

- keep something at the same level or rate or in good condition

He spends a lot of time trying to keep up the garden of his house.

keep up with

- go at the same speed as a person or thing, maintain the same rate of progress

I can`t keep up with the rest of the class.

keep up with the news

- keep informed

He reads the newspaper every morning in order to keep up with the news.

keep up with the Joneses

- try to be the same as your neighbors

He always worries about keeping up with the Joneses and is always frustrated.

kettle of fish

- something to be considered, how things are

That`s a totally different kettle of fish. We should talk about it another time.

keyed up

- excited, nervous

I was all keyed up after we won the game and I couldn`t go to sleep.

kick around

- treat badly, act roughly or badly to someone or something

I don`t like her very much because she is always kicking other people around.

kick around

- lie around in a place

I was tired on Saturday so I stayed home and kicked around in the morning.

kick back

- relax and do nothing

I`m going to kick back this evening and stay home and watch television.


- money paid illegally for favorable treatment

The construction company gave the politician some illegal kickbacks in order to win the contract.

kick off

- begin, launch, start

The department store kicked off their summer sale early Saturday morning.


- a start

The kick-off for the no smoking campaign will start next week.

kick oneself

- regret

I kicked myself for not applying for the job sooner.

kick out

- make someone go or leave, get rid of, dismiss

He was kicked out of school when he was 15 years old because of his bad behavior.

kick over

- a motor begins to work

At first the engine wouldn`t start because it was too cold but finally it kicked over.

kick over

- pay, contribute

I was forced to kick over a lot of money for the motor for my car.

kick the bucket

- die

The man who used to clean the walls at the factory kicked the bucket last week.

kick the habit

- stop a bad habit like smoking or taking drugs

He has been trying to kick his smoking habit for years.

kick up a fuss

- make trouble, make a disturbance

I didn`t think that it would be a big problem but he really kicked up a fuss when I told him about the accident.

kick up one`s heels

- have a good time, celebrate

We really kicked up our heels at the Christmas party that we attended last week.

kill off

- kill or end completely, destroy

The pollution in the river has killed off all of the fish.

kill the goose that layed the golden egg

- spoil something that is good or something that one has by being greedy

He was always complaining about his job but now it is gone. He has killed the goose that layed the golden egg.

kill two birds with one stone

- accomplish two things with one action

He was able to kill two birds with one stone by going to the meeting.

knock about

- travel without a plan, go where one pleases

We decided to go to Brazil and knock about for a couple of months.

knock it off

- stop doing something, quit

Please knock it off. You are going to hurt yourself if you are not careful.

knock off

- murder someone

The owner of the shop was knocked off in the robbery last week.

knock off one`s feet

- surprise or shock someone so much that he does not know what to do

When they announced that I had won the prize it knocked me off my feet.

knock one`s block off

- hit someone very hard, beat someone up

He was very angry and threatened to knock anyone`s block off who came near him.

knock one`s head against the wall

- waste time trying to do something with no success

They have been knocking their head against the wall for years trying to find a solution to the problem.

knock oneself out

- make a great effort

They really knocked themselves out trying to make the party successful.

knock on wood

- knock on something made of wood to keep from having bad luck

I don`t think that I will lose my job - knock on wood.


- a very beautiful woman

The man said that the woman he saw at the bus stop was a real knockout.

knock out

- make unconscious, unworkable or unusable

The storm last night knocked out power in most of the town.

knock the living daylights out of someone

- make someone unconscious

The man knocked the living daylights out of his friend during the fight.

know by heart

- memorize

I learned the poem by heart.

(not) know if one is coming or going

- not know what to do

The new sales manager doesn`t seem to know if he is coming or going.


- a person who acts as if they know everything

He is a know-it-all and nobody likes to be around him.

(not) know the first thing about something

- lack basic knowledge about something

He doesn`t know the first thing about computers.

know which side one`s bread is buttered on

- know who can help one and try to please him, know what is good for oneself

He is careful not to make his boss angry. He knows which side his bread is buttered on.

knuckle down

- begin to work earnestly

I think it is time that we knuckle down and finally finish this project.

knuckle under

- yield, submit

The union finally knuckled under the pressure and ended the strike.


*In search of Oyster Pearls*
Dec 31, 2009
A n3st!
L................................................. ...............................................

labor of love

- something done for personal pleasure and not for money

The book that he wrote was a labor of love and he doesn`t expect to make any money from it.

lady killer

- a man who some women find very charming and attractive

The man in the movie was a lady killer who broke many women`s hearts before he left them.

lady`s man

- a man who is popular with women

He is a lady`s man who always seems to have a lot of women interested in him.

laid up

- be confined to bed or unfit for work

He has been laid up for a few days because of a cold.

lame duck

- public official who has a short time left to serve in office and therefore has less power than before

He is a lame duck president so it is difficult for him to get things accomplished.

land on one`s feet

- come out of a bad situation successfully

He always manages to land on his feet no matter how difficult the situation is.

lap up

- eat or drink with the tongue

The dog lapped up the milk that his master had given him.

lap up

- take in eagerly

He lapped up the praise that his boss gave him for the recently completed project.

lash out

- try suddenly to hit someone

He suddenly lashed out and hit the man who was sitting beside him.

lash out

- attack someone with words

They were walking along the beach when she suddenly lashed out in anger at her boyfriend.

last but not least

- in the last place but not the least important

Last but not least he came up to the front of the class to receive his report card.

last straw

- the last insult or mistake that one can endure and which then causes some reaction

The fourth time he came late was the last straw and we finally fired him.

last word

- the last remark in an argument, the final say in deciding something

She always expects to have the last word when she and her husband go to the store to buy something important.

laugh off

- not take seriously

He laughed off the attempt of his boss to tell him that he should try and come to work on time.

(not) lay a finger on someone

- not touch someone, not bother to do something (not even a little)

He was told by the police never to lay a finger on his wife again.

lay an egg

- fail to win the interest or favor of an audience

Although he was supposed to be a good magician, his performance was terrible and it laid an egg with the audience.

lay away

- save

They are trying to lay away some money for their holiday next year.

layaway plan

- a plan in which one pays some money down and then pays the rest little by little and the store holds the article until the full price has been paid

He decided to buy the television set on the department store`s layaway plan.

lay down the law

- tell someone what to do using your power or influence

The new management plans to lay down the law to the workers regarding long lunch breaks.

lay eyes on

- see

I have never laid eyes on a more beautiful dog in my life.

lay hands on something

- get hold of or find something

If I can lay my hands on a slide projector I will show you the pictures of my trip tonight.

lay hands on someone

- do violence to, harm, hurt

He said that if he ever lays hands on the person who stole his car he will take him directly to the police.

lay hold of

- get possession of

If I can lay hold of a car this weekend we can go for a drive.

lay in

- store up a supply of something, get and keep for future use

They are trying to lay in as much food as possible before winter comes.

lay (light) into

- attack physically, do (eat) something with energy

He laid into the steak as soon as the waiter brought it to his table.

lay (light) into

- attack with words

As soon as I came into work this morning she laid (lit) into me about my poor sales performance last month.

lay it on the line

- say plainly so that there can be no doubt, tell truthfully

The librarian finally had to lay it on the line and told everyone not to bring drinks into the library.

lay it on thick

- praise someone too much

He really began to lay it on thick when he met me at the party.

lay low

- hide, keep out of sight for awhile

He decided to lay low for awhile until his friend forgot that he had damaged his car.

lay off (someone)

- get rid of workers when business is bad

Six hundred workers at the automobile factory were recently laid off.

lay off

- stop bothering, leave alone

The players were told by the coach to lay off teasing the new player so that he could relax before the game.

lay off

- stop using or taking (drugs/cigarettes)

I was told by my doctor to lay off smoking or I would be very sick in the future.

lay one`s cards on the table

- let someone know one`s position and feelings openly, deal honestly about something

He decided to lay his cards on the table and tell his boss about the job offer from the other company.

lay out

- spend or pay some money

He will have to lay out a lot of money for his new apartment.

lay out

- plan something

They will lay out their plan for the new building at the next meeting.

lay over

- arrive in one place and wait some time before continuing a journey

We were told that we will have to lay over in London for nine hours before we go on to Kenya.

lay to rest

- get rid of, put away permanently, stop

They have been trying to lay to rest the rumors about the financial problems in the company.

lay up

- take out of active service, put in a boat dock or a garage

The weather was getting cold so they decided to lay up their boat for the winter.

lay up

- collect a supply of something, save for future use, store

They are trying to lay up some canned fruit for the winter.

lay waste

- destroy and leave in ruins, wreck

The army troops laid waste to the enemy territory.

lead a dog`s life

- live a hard life, work hard and be treated unkindly

He says that he has been leading a dog`s life since he started his new job.

lead a merry chase

- delay or escape capture by someone, make a person work hard

He led the investigators on a merry chase before they finally arrested him.

lead by the nose

- have full control of, make or persuade someone to do anything you want

He isn`t very aggressive and always lets his boss lead him by the nose.

lead off

- begin, start, open

The golfer was the first to lead off in the tournament.

lead on

- insincerely encourage

I think he was leading me on when he told me about the new job.

lead the way

- go before and show how to go somewhere, guide

I had to lead the way because nobody else knew where the new office was located.

lean on

- pressure someone by blackmailing or threats of physical violence to make the person comply with a request

The gang decided to lean on the small shop owner to get him to sell his property.

learn the ropes

- learn how to do a job

He is a new employee and is still learning the ropes.

leave a bad taste in one`s mouth

- leave a bad impression, make one feel disgusted

The way that the company fired the workers left a bad taste in everyone`s mouth.

leave alone

- don`t disturb someone

lease leave me alone so I can finish this essay.

leave behind

- leave something somewhere

I left my coat behind in the restaurant.

leave hanging (in the air)

- leave undecided or unsettled

Whether or not they will be leaving next year was left hanging in the air at the end of the meeting.

leave (someone) holding the bag

- leave someone else to take the blame

He left me holding the bag when he ran away from the accident.

leave in the lurch

- desert or leave alone and in trouble, refuse to help or support someone

He left me in the lurch when he didn`t come over to help me although he had promised to earlier in the day.

leave no stone unturned

- try in every way, do everything possible

The police left no stone unturned when they were looking for the little girl who was lost.

leave out

- omit

He told me about the accident but he left out some of the main points.

leave (let) well enough alone

- be satisfied with something that is good enough

You should let well enough alone and be happy with your work schedule the way it is.

left-handed compliment

- an ambiguous compliment interpreted as offensive

He gave her a left-handed compliment when he said that her dyed hair looked nice.

leg man

- someone who performs messenger services, an errand boy

He was working as a leg man for the motion picture company.

leg to stand on

- a firm foundation of facts, facts to support one`s claims

She doesn`t have a leg to stand on as far as her excuses for not finishing her work goes.

leg work

- physical work

He was forced to do all of the leg work preparing for the meeting because his assistant was sick.

let alone

- certainly not

I don`t have enough money to go to a movie let alone go on a holiday.

let bygones be bygones

- forget about problems that happened in the past

We need to let bygones be bygones and forget about our past differences.

let down

- fail to do as well as expected, disappoint

He let down his parents when he failed the university entrance exams.

let down easy

- refuse or say no to someone in a pleasant way

I will talk to her tomorrow and try and let her down easy about her not getting the promotion.

let down one`s hair

- relax, act freely and naturally

Everybody at the party let down their hair and had a good time.

let (something) go

- pay no attention to, neglect

She seems to be letting her appearance go since she lost her job.

let go

- allow something to pass, do nothing about something

Although I was angry at his remark I decided to let it go.

let go

- discharge from a job, fire

The company has decided to let go several hundred workers in order to become profitable again.

let go of

- release

He let go of the rope and the suitcase fell from the bus.

let grass grow under one`s feet

- be idle, be lazy, waste time

He is always working hard and is not the type of person to let grass grow under his feet.

let (someone) have it

- hit someone hard

He really let the other man have it when they got into a fight on the bus.

let it all hang out

- not to disguise anything, let the truth be known

She decided to let it all hang out and told her boss about the mistakes she had made with the new sales account.

let it lay

- forget it, leave it alone

You should let it lay and stop worrying about what she did to you last year.

let it rip

- become involved and make the most of something, really try to win

He let it rip and set off from the shore in the motorboat.

let loose

- set free, give up one`s hold on something, release something being held

They decided to let loose the injured bird that they had found in the park.

let (someone) know

- tell, inform

Let me know when you are ready to go to the movie.

let off

- discharge (a gun), explode

The children let off many firecrackers during the festival.

let off steam

- get rid of your extra energy or strong feelings by doing some activity

He was very angry at first but he has let off a lot of steam and has calmed down now.

let (someone) off the hook

- excuse someone from a penalty or promise

He let me off the hook and I didn`t have to stay after work and help clean the office.

let on

- reveal, inform

Please don`t let on that you saw me at the movie last night.

let on

- try to make people believe something, pretend

He tried to let on that he didn`t want the job but actually he does.

let out

- allow to go out or escape

I let out our dog this morning and he hasn`t come home yet.


*In search of Oyster Pearls*
Dec 31, 2009
A n3st!
let out

- allow to be known, tell

They let out the details of the restructuring plan late last night so we haven`t had time to talk about them yet.

let out

- make longer or looser (clothes), allow a rope to slip out little by little

I had to go to the tailors to have them let out my sports jacket.

let out

- dismiss or be dismissed (from class or practice etc.)

Everyone was let out from class early yesterday because of the bad weather.

let (something) ride

- continue without changing a situation

We should forget about his recent problems at work and just let the whole matter ride.

let sleeping dogs lie

- don`t make trouble if you don`t have to

You should let sleeping dogs lie and not worry about what she said to you last summer.

let the cat out of the bag

- reveal a secret

Don`t let the cat out of the bag about the surprise party for the boss.

let the chips fall where they may

- don`t worry about the results of your actions

I am not going to worry about whether or not the company will go broke or not. I will let the chips fall where they may.

let up

- become less or weaker, become slower or stop

The rain finally let up around noon so we were able to go back outside.

let up

- do less or go slower or stop, stop working too hard

He was told by his doctor to let up on his work schedule or he will become sick in the future.

lie in state

- after death a famous person lies in a state of honor (in an open coffin) so the public can see their body

The President lay in state for three days after his death.

lie in wait

- watch from hiding in order to attack or surprise someone

The police decided to lie in wait for the bank robbers to appear at the bank.

lie low

- stay quietly out of sight, try not to attract attention

He is very angry at you so I think that you should lie low for a few days until he calms down.

life of Riley

- a soft easy life, pleasant way of living

He has been living the life of Riley since he retired from his job last year.

lift a finger (hand)

- do something, do one`s share, help

Although he is a nice person he will never lift a finger to help anyone else.

light up

- suddenly look pleased and happy

As soon as I told him about our summer holiday plans his face lit up and he started smiling.

like father, like son

- a son usually acts like his father

Like father, like son the man said as he watched the boy playing baseball exactly like his father.

like a ton of bricks

- strongly or forcefully

The news of his retirement hit me like a ton of bricks.

like crazy

- very fast, with great energy

They were running like crazy but still they couldn`t catch up with their friend.

like hell

- with much effort and energy, not so, untrue

I had to run like hell this morning in order to catch the bus for work.

like mad

- very fast, with great energy

I worked like mad but I was unable to finish the project by noon as I had hoped.

like water off a duck`s back

- without effect, without changing one`s feelings or opinion

He always criticizes his friend who always ignores it so it falls away like water off a duck`s back.

line up

- take places in line or formation, stand one behind another

We were forced to line up in front of the movie theater for over one hour.

line up

- adjust correctly

First he lined up the two pieces of wood before he nailed them together.

line up

- arrange, make ready for action

We were unable to line up a speaker for Sunday evening so we will cancel the meeting.

lip service

- support shown by words only and not by action

They paid lip service to the proposal but I don`t think that they really support it.

little by little

- gradually

He broke his leg while skiing but little by little it is getting better.

little frog in a big pond

- an unimportant person in a large group or organization

He transferred to the headquarters branch but he is a little frog in a big pond and nobody knows him now.

little pitchers have big ears

- little children often overhear things that they are not supposed to hear

Little pitchers have big ears she said when she saw her daughter standing at the door listening to her talking to her husband.

live down

- remove blame or distrust by good conduct, cause to be forgiven by not repeating something

He is trying to live down his reputation of being a hard person to work for.

live from hand to mouth

- live on little money

Her brother is an artist and has to live from hand to mouth because he has no money.

live high on the hog

- live very luxuriously or comfortably

He has been living high on the hog since he won the money in the lottery.

live it up

- have a good time

He likes to live it up every weekend when he gets paid.

live out of a suitcase

- stay away from your home with only the belongings in your suitcase

I dislike this job because I am often on a business trip and must live out of my suitcase.

live up to

- come up to, agree with, act according to

He is trying very hard to live up to his reputation as a smart busnessman.

living end

- great, fantastic, the ultimate

She said that her new boyfriend was the living end.


- have lots of money

His new boss is really loaded.

lock the barn door after the horse is stolen

- be careful or try to make something safe when it is too late

If you try and prevent a flood after the rains have started it is like locking the barn door after the horse is stolen.

lock up

- to be assured of success

The candidate has already locked up the nomination to be a candidate for president in the next election.

long face

- a sad look, a disappointed look

He had a long face when he came into work this morning. What is the matter with him?

long haul

- a long distance or trip

He is a long-haul trucker and is always out of town working.

long haul

- a long period of time during which work continues or something is done

He has decided to stay here for the long haul and will not return to his home country for awhile.

long shot

- a bet or other risk taken though not likely to succeed

It was a long shot that he would get the job so he was very happy when he did get it.

look after someone

- take care or attend to someone

She has been looking after her mother since her recent illness.

look a gift horse in the mouth

- complain if a gift is not perfect

Even if you don`t like the present from the company you shouldn`t complain. Remember don`t look a gift horse in the mouth.

look at the world through rose-colored glasses

- see only the good things about something, be too optimistic

I told him not to be so naive and always look at the world through rose-colored glasses.

look down one`s nose at someone or something

- show your dislike of someone or something

He always looks down his nose at the other members of his class.

look down on someone

- regard with contempt or a feeling of superiority

She looks down on the activities and life of most small towns.

look for

- think likely, expect

They are looking for John to become the next sales director of the company.

look for

- try to find, search for, hunt

She has been looking for her credit card all morning but she can`t find it.

look forward to something

- anticipate with pleasure

He`s been looking forward to the concert for a long time.

look in on

- go to see, make a short visit with, make a call on

Could you please look in on the baby and see if she is sleeping.

look into

- investigate or check something

They have been looking into the cause of the accident for many months.

look like a million dollars

- look well and prosperous, appear healthy and happy

He was looking like a million dollars when I saw him at the party last weekend.

look like the cat that ate (swallowed) the canary

- seem very self-satisified like you have just had some kind of success

He looked like the cat that ate the canary when he came in with a smile on his face.

look on

- be a spectator

There were over a hundred people who gathered to look on after the accident.

look out

- take care, be careful, be on guard

Look out! There is a large truck coming down the highway.

look out

- be alert or watchful, keep looking for something

Could you please look out for any old Elvis Presley records that you may find.

look out

- provide protection and care

Please look out for my sister when she stays with you this summer.

look over something

- inspect, survey or examine

Please take some time to look over these documents before you sign them.

look to

- attend to, get ready for, take care of

She is a wonderful nurse and spends a great deal of time looking to the needs of her patients.

look to

- go for help to, depend on

He always looks to his mother for help when he has a problem.

look (something) up

- search for something in a dictionary or other book

I`ll look up their name in the telephone book.

look (someone) up

- seek and find

When I was in New York I looked up my friend from university.

look up to

- think of someone as a good example to copy, respect someone

I always look up to the president of our company as someone I would like to be like.

loose ends

- without something definite to do

He has been at loose ends since he lost his job.

lord it over

- act as the superior and master of someone, be bossy over someone

She likes to lord it over the other members of the staff since she became a supervisor.

lose face

- be embarrassed or ashamed by an error or failure, lose dignity

He lost face when his employees decided not to support him during the meeting.

lose ground

- go backward, become weaker, not improve

The government has been losing ground in their fight against inflation.

lose heart

- become discouraged

She has begun to lose heart in her studies to learn the piano.

lose one`s marbles

- go crazy or act irrationally

He seems to have lost his marbles and doesn`t make any sense at all.

lose one`s shirt

- lose a lot of money

I think he is going to lose his shirt on that new business venture.

lose one`s way

- become lost

The first time she went to New York City she lost her way.

lose one`s temper

- become angry

He lost his temper when the child broke the dish.

lose out

- fail to win, miss first place in a contest

He lost out on a chance to go to Mexico City because he was too busy with other things.

lose sight of

- forget, fail to see

Don't lose sight of the main reason that you are planning to go on the business trip.

lose touch with

- fail to keep in contact or communication with someone

I lost touch with everyone who I worked with at my summer job.

lose track of

- lose contact with someone (or something)

I`ve lost track of many of my friends from high school.


- a noisy, boastful or foolish talker

He is a loudmouth and nobody at work likes him.

louse up

- throw into confusion, make a mess of, spoil

She loused up her job interview and has no chance at all now to get the job.

lover`s lane

- a hidden road or walkway where lovers walk or park in the evening

After the movie they drove to the local lover`s lane.


- the inside facts of a matter, the total truth

I met with him after the presentation and he gave me the lowdown on the new computer equipment.

luck out

- suddenly get lucky when it looks like you won`t succeed

He lucked out with the concert tickets and was able to get four of them.

lucky star

- a certain star or planet which is thought to bring a person good luck and success in life

You should thank your lucky star that you don`t have to go to work on a rainy day like today


*In search of Oyster Pearls*
Dec 31, 2009
A n3st!
M................................................. ...............................................

mad as a hornet

- very angry

He was mad as a hornet when I saw him at the meeting yesterday.

main drag

- the most important street in a town

We spent most of Saturday evening driving up and down the main drag of the town.

make a beeline for something

- hurry directly somewhere

When he enters the cafeteria he always makes a beeline for the dessert section.

make a bundle

- make a lot of money

My father made a bundle on the stock market in early 1998.

make a day of it

- do something all day

We decided to make a day of it and spend the day at the beach.

make a dent in

- make progress

We worked hard all day but we didn`t seem to make a dent in the amount of work left to do.

make a difference

- cause a change in a situation

It doesn`t make any difference whether he comes to the meeting or not.

make a go of

- succeed, produce good results

Although he tried hard he was never able to make a go of his business.

make a hit

- be successful

Her cake made a big hit at the party.

make a killing

- make a large amount of money

Her mother made a killing on the real estate market before she retired.

make a living

- earn enough money to live

He cannot make a living by only doing a part-time job.

make a mistake

- make an error

He made a mistake on the math test.

make a mountain out of a molehill

- make a big problem out of a small one

He is really making a mountain out of a molehill by worrying about his son`s problems.

make a name for oneself

- become well-known or famous

He has made a name for himself in the field of computers.

make a pass at someone

- make romantic advances to a member of the opposite sex

He was fired because he made a pass at one of the women who he works with.

make a point of

- do or say something with a definite intent

He always makes a point of visiting his aunt when he is in town.

make a run for it

- dash for safety, make a speedy escape

He made a run for it as soon as the class finished.

make away with

- take, carry away

The cat made away with the fish that was sitting on top of the kitchen counter.

make believe

- act as if something is true while one knows that it is not, pretend

The children were playing make believe and pretended that they lived in a castle.

make do with something

- substitute one thing for another

If there is no cream for the coffee, we`ll have to make do with milk.

make ends meet

- be able to live on the money one has

It`s hard to make ends meet on his salary.

make eyes at

- flirt, look at a member of the opposite sex to try and attract them

The boy was making eyes at the girl in his history class.

make for

- go toward, start in the direction of

As soon as it began to become dark we decided to make for a quiet place to set up a camp.

make friends

- form friendships with people or animals

She is shy and isn`t able to make friends easily.

make fun of

- ridicule

The students were making fun of the girl with the short hair.

make good

- do what one promised to do, make something come true

He made good on his promise to give everyone a raise in the new year.

make hay while the sun shines

- do something at the right time, not wait too long

You should make hay while the sun shines and paint the house while the weather is good.

(can`t) make head nor tail of something

- understand, find meaning in something

We couldn`t make head nor tail of what he was trying to say during his speech.

make it up to someone

- do something for someone to compensate for an unfulfilled promise or debt

I can`t go with you to the game tonight but I will make it up to you later.

make light of

- treat as of little importance, minimize

My friend made light of my efforts to learn how to speak and write Chinese.

make of something

- interpret, think of

What do you make of the new manager in accounting.

make merry

- have fun, laugh and celebrate

We decided to go to a nice restaurant and make merry for the evening.

make no bones about something

- make no secret, not keep from talking about something

He has made no bones about the fact that he is not interested in applying for the supervisor`s job.

make one`s bed and lie in it

- be responsible for what one has done and then have to accept the bad results

You quit your job and now you have no money. You made your bed. Now you must lie in it.

make one`s blood boil

- make someone very angry

Every time that I see him he makes my blood boil.

make one`s hair stand on end

- frighten, horrify

The horror movie that we rented last week really made my hair stand on end.

make one`s own way

- rely on one`s own abilities

His father wants him to join the family business but he wants to make his own way in the world.

make one`s mouth water

- want to eat something because of the thought or smell of the food

Looking at the menu made my mouth water.

make oneself at home

- act as if you were at home

She is able to make herself at home when she goes to visit her friends.

make oneself felt

- use one`s authority

He was not able to make himself felt when trying to resolve the conflict.

make oneself scarce

- leave quickly, go away

I think that I will make myself scarce and go to the beach for the day.

make out

- do, progress

How did you make out at your job interview yesterday?

make out

- understand, interpret

I can never make out what he wants to say when he phones me.

make out

- distinguish, identify

The ship captain couldn`t make out the other boat because of the fog.

make out

- make someone believe, show, prove

He made out that he was at the library last night but I know that he wasn`t.

make over

- make something look different, change the style of

We decided to make over our living room because we were tired of the old style

make room for someone or something

- arrange space for

He made room for the new computer in the spare room.

make sense

- seem reasonable

His proposal makes absolutely no sense.

make short work of something

- finish quickly

He made short work of the typing and has started working on the other documents.

make something out

- manage to see or read something

I was unable to make out the sign because I didn`t have my glasses.

make something up

- invent (a story etc.)

He made up the story about his lost wallet.

make the best of

- do as well as possible in a bad situation

He has really made the best of his time since beginning his new job.

make the grade

- make good, succeed, meet a standard, qualify

He wasn`t able to make the grade and join the football team.

make the most of

- use to the greatest advantage

He made the most of his time in Europe and visited many art galleries.

make the scene

- be present, go to a certain place or event

He decided to make the scene and go to the disco for the evening.

make time

- be successful in arriving at a destination in a short time

We made very good time yesterday and arrived home before it got dark.

make up

- make something by putting things or parts together

A car is made up of many different parts.

make up

- invent, think and say something that is new or not true

She made up the story about how she got lost in the mountains.

make up

- do or supply something that is lacking, regain, repay

I had to make up the time that I was sick by working on Saturday.

make up

- put on cosmetics

She always wants to make up her face before she goes to the store.

make up

- become friends again after a quarrel

They finally made up after their fight last week.

make up for something

- compensate for a loss or mistake

I have to work hard in order to make up for the loss from the poor sales.

make up one`s mind

- decide

I haven`t made up my mind yet about whether or not I will accept the new job.

make waves

- create a disturbance

He is very calm and quiet at work and doesn`t like to make waves.

make way

- stand aside, move so someone can go through

The truck had to go to the side of the road to make way for the ambulance.

man in the street

- the average or ordinary person

According to what the man in the street is saying the government is not very popular.


- frank or direct

I had a man-to-man talk with him about the problem last night.

mark time

- move one`s feet up and down to music

He was marking time to the music as he was driving his car.

mark time

- be idle, waiting for something to happen

He has been marking time for over a month now as he waits to hear about the new job.


- be important

It doesn`t matter if you can`t come here tomorrow.

matter of course

- the usual way, habit, rule

It was done as a matter of course and nobody really thought about the results.

matter of fact

- something that is really true, something that can be proved

As a matter of fact I saw him last night and he asked me how you were.


- simply telling or showing the truth, seeming not to care much

The witness told about the murder in a matter-of-fact way.

mean business

- be serious, ready to take action

He is working very hard and really means business when he says he is going to get the office organized.

measure up

- be equal, be of high quality

The new accounting manager didn`t measure up to the previous one so we had to ask him to leave.

meet someone half-way

- make a compromise with someone

He is very stubborn and is never willing to meet his friends half-way.

meet up with

- meet by accident, come upon without planning or expecting to

He met up with a nice group of people in Australia when he was travelling there.

melt in one`s mouth

- taste very good, be delicious

The pastry that she made melted in my mouth.

mend one`s fences

- do something to make people like you after a fight, strengthen one`s friendship or influence

I made a big effort to mend my fences with my boss so that we could work together effectively.

mend one`s ways

- improve one`s habits

She has been forced to mend her ways in order to get along better at work.

mess around

- play around, engage in idle activity

The children were messing around in the school yard before the class began.

mess up

- cause trouble, spoil something

He messed up his chance to get a promotion by not making much of an effort last year.

middle of the road

- being halfway between two different ideas, seeing good on both sides of an issue

The president was elected because he was a person whose ideas were very middle of the road.

mind one`s P`s and Q`s

- be very careful about what one does or says

You should mind your P`s and Q`s and not say anything to offend your aunt.

Mind you.

- I want you to notice and understand.

I don`t want to work any more overtime. Mind you, if there is an emergency I will be able to work extra in that case.

miss out on

- lose an opportunity

He missed out on the new job because he was late for the interview.

miss the boat

- lose an opportunity

You had better hurry and get your application in or you will miss the boat on entering that new company.

might as well

- be somewhat preferable

We might as well go home now. I don`t think he will come.

mix up

- confuse, make a mistake about

He mixed up the video tapes and played the wrong one in front of the class.


- an error, some confusion

There was a mix-up at the airline ticket counter and I was given the wrong ticket.

(get or become) mixed up

- become confused

He gets all mixed up when he tries to speak French.

money to burn

- have very much money, have more than is needed

He has money to burn and never has to worry about working.

monkey business

- comical or silly actions, goofing off

The kids were involved in some kind of monkey business. That was when the window was broken.

monkey business

- unethical, illegal or objectionable activity, cheating

The company was involved in some monkey business with the tax department and have recently had to hire a lawyer to defend themselves.

more and more

- increasingly, increasing number

More and more people are buying computers for their homes.

more or less

- somewhat, to some extent

I like the new color more or less but it`s not great.

more the merrier

- the more people who join in the fun the better it will be

The more the merrier he said as his sister`s friends also decided to come to the beach.

morning after (the night before)

- a hangover

He`s not feeling well. I think it`s the morning after the night before.

(not) move a muscle

- don`t move even a small amount

The doctor told him not to move a muscle when he was fixing his leg.

move heaven and earth

- try every way, do everything one can

I will move heaven and earth to help you get a job with our company.

move in on

- take over something that belongs to another

He was angry because the other salesman was moving in on his sales territory.

mum`s the word