A far cry from something: very different, almost the opposite.
The movie was good, but it was `a far cry from` the book it was based on.
About to: on the point of doing something. Tom was `about to` leave when the tele- phone rang.
A close call: a situation in which something bad almost happened.
I had `a close call! ` A big truck almost hit me!
All along: all the time.
I knew `all along` that Jack wasn’t telling us the whole story.
All’s well that ends well: a successful out- come is worth the effort.
“I’ve completed writing my book after all painful work. All’s well that ends well.”
All of a sudden: something happening quickly, without advance warning.
It started out to be a beautiful day. Then, `all of a sudden`, it became cloudy and began to rain.
All thumbs: clumsy
“Look at Martin he broke the antique vase. He’s all thumbs.”
As a rule: usually, customarily.
`As a rule` I never stay out late on a week night, because I have to get up early the next morning
As far as someone is concerned: in one’s opinion.
`As far as I’m concerned`, it’s too cold to go swimming this afternoon.
As long as: because something else is hap- pening at the same time.
`As long as` you’re going to the drugstore anyway, buy me some aspirins.
As luck would have it: the way things hap- pened.
I made good notes for my speech, but `as luck would have it`, I forgot to take them with me.
At all: used with negative expressions to give emphasis.
I’ve read that book, but I didn’t like it `at all`.
At the end of one’s rope: at the limit of one’s ability to cope.
“Marry may decide to divorce John. She is at the end of her rope.”
Bark worse than one’s bite: not as bad tempered as one appears.
“Mr. Hopkins shouts harshly to his students but his students don’t care. They know that his bark is worse than his bite.”
Be behind the times: not be up-to-date, modern in one’s thinking.
He’s not a good teacher He’s `behind the times` in his methods.
Be bent on something: have a strong desire to do something.
I told Harry not to drive his car in such bad weather, but he `was bent on` leaving right away.
Be better off: be better on a long-term basis.
Do you think I’d `be better off` quitting my present job and going to New York?
Be broke: be without money.
I’d like to go to the concert with you, but `I’m broke`.
Be hard on something: treat roughly. My son `is hard on` shoes. Look at this pair .They were new a month ago.
Be in keeping with something: be appro- priate.
I liked what Professor Thomas said to the International Club, because his words `were in keeping with` the purpose of the Club.
Be in someone’s shoes: be in another per- son’s positions.
I wish I were `in John’s shoes`. He just won a free trip to Europe.
Be on the safe side: not to take any
Bite the bullet: endure in a difficult situa- tion.
“We got lost in the wilderness and had to bite the bullet until help arrived.”
Bite the dust: go down in defeat.
“Andy did exceptionally well in all of the track events, but he bit the dust in the high jump competition.”
Blow it: fall at something.
“I think I blew it on the history exam.”
Brush up on something: review something to make it fresh again in one’s mind.
I’m going to make a speech tomorrow, so I have to `brush up on` my notes.
Bury the hatchet: make peace.
I don’t think it’s going to rain today, but I’m going to take my umbrella, just `to be on the safe side`.
Be to blame: be responsible for something bad or unfortunate.
Don’t punish Billy for breaking the window He’s not `to blame`.
Be up to one’s ears: have too much to do. Helen would like to go with us but she
can’t .She’s `up to her ears` in work.
Be up to something: doing something that one shouldn’t do.
Henry’s been smiling to himself all morning. I think he’s `up to something`, but I don’t know what it is.
Beat around the bush: speak indirectly, evasively.
I wish Albert would say what he really means and not always `beat around the bush`.
Bend over backwards: try very hard, make a real effort.
I `bent over backwards` to help Bertha find a job, but she didn’t appreciate it.
Bite off more than one can chew: accept more responsibility than one can take care of.
When Jim accepted the presidency of the club, he `bit off more than he could chew`.
“The defense ministers of two countries worked out the problem and decided to bury the hatched.”
By all means: definitely, certainly.
When Mary asked her husband if he wanted steak for dinner, he replied, `”By all means!”`.
By heart: by memorizing.
In elementary school I learned several of Longfellow’s poems `by heart`.
Carry something out: fulfill, see that something is done.
One good thing about Clarence: he not only has good ideas, but he `carries them out`, too.
Cat got your tongue: can’t talk.
“Why don’t you speak up? Cat got your tongue?”
Catch cold: to get a cold.
I enjoyed the football game, but it was such a wet, windy day that I `caught cold`.
Catch one’s breath: rest for a moment. When Mrs. Brewster reached the top of the hill, she was so tired she had to stop for a moment and `catch her breath`.
Come alive: brighten up and become active. “When the band started playing all the latest rock hits, everybody came alive.”
Come down with something: become ill with something.
I don’t feel very well I think I’m `coming down with` the flu
Come near: almost do something.
I was so angry last night I `came near` telling George what I thought of him.
Come to the point: be definite, precise in telling something.
Professor Johnson’s stories are interesting but long, and he never seems to `come to the point`.
Come up with: suggest, contribute, intro- duce.
When the teacher asked what the capital of California was, only one student could `come up with` the right city.
Do without: live without something.
If there’s no butter for our bread, we’ll `do without`.
Draw the line: refuse to go beyond a cer- tain point in doing something.
I’ll pay for my wife’s ticket to that lecture on modern art, but I `draw the line` at attend- ing with her!
Dress up: put on one’s best clothes.
When Celia `dresses up`, she is more beau- tiful than a movie actress.
Dressed to kill: wear one’s finest clothing. “The reception for the new Swedish ambas- sador was quite generous. Naturally, every- body was dressed to kill.”
Dressed to the teeth: dressed elegantly.
Cough up: give unwillingly.
“My father said he’d cough up the money I need since I’m going to be using the com- puter for my school work.”
Cut corners: economize.
When you have six children, you have to learn how to `cut corners`.
Different strokes for different folks:
every one has different interests and tastes. “Paul likes playing guitar while Susan hates it. You know, different strokes for different folks.”
Do one’s best: make the greatest effort that one can.
I’m not sure I can be there tonight, but I’ll `do my best`. It all depends on how much work I finish this afternoon.
Do one’s bit: fulfill one’s responsibility to; help accomplish something.
If everyone who offered to help would come and `do his bit`, we could finish this job in an hour.
Do someone good: be beneficial for some- body.
Go to the seashore for a few days. The fresh air will `do you good`.
“Hilda was dressed to the teeth at the party last night.”
Drive someone up a wall: annoy someone greatly.
“Our neighbor drives us up a wall whenever they turn up the volume on his stereo.”
Duck soup: easy, effortless.
“With all your experience in electronics, I have no doubt that it will be duck soup for you to fix the radio.”
Early bird catches the worm: arriving early gives one an advantage.
“If you expect to get tickets for the match, remember; the early bird catches the worm.”
Eat one’s words: admit one is wrong in something one has said.
Richard insisted the United States was larger than Brazil, but he had to `eat his words` when Elizabeth showed him the map.
Eating someone: bothering or worrying someone.
“Hey Alice. What’s been eating you lately? Don’t you realize how rude and irritable you’ve become?”
Every now and then: occasionally.
`Every now and then` I like to take a walk in the country.
Every other: alternate.
This class meets `every other` day, not every day.
Eyes are bigger than one’s stomach: take more food than one can eat.
“Sometimes when I’m very hungry, I feel that my eyes are bigger than my stomach.
Face the music: accept the consequences. “If you don’t follow the doctor’s advices, you will have to face the music.”
Feed someone a line: deceive someone. “Mr. Jones promised Lousie a promotion, but soon she discovered that he was feeding her a line when he gave the promotion to some- body else.
Feel like a million dollars: fell wonderful. “Apparently the pain in my knee is all gone. I’m feeling like a million dollars.”
Feel up to: feel able (health or ability) to do something.
I ought to go to Jane’s party, but I just don’t `feel up to` it now.
Few and far between: scarce, infrequent, rare.
Yes, I do hear from Roger, but his letters are `few and far between`.
Firsthand: without assistance from an inter- mediary, direct.
What I’m telling you is `firsthand` informa- tion. I didn’t hear it from someone else.
Fishy: strange and suspicious.
“When the security guard saw a light in the store after closing hours, it seemed to him that there was something fishy going on.”
For a song: for very little money.
“I got my red chair for a song at a little fur- niture store.”
For good: forever, permanently.
Peter told me he’s left Springfield `for good`. He’ll never go back there to live again.
For the birds: uninteresting and meaning- less.
“The Literature Club students went to a poet- ry reading but they got bored and restless. It was for the birds.”
For the time being: for the present time.
I need a new car, but `for the time being` this one will have to do.
Fork over: hand over, give.
“I unexpectedly bumped into Ralph and he asked me to fork over the ten bucks I owed him.”
Frame of mind: mental state.
Be sure, Edith, that your husband is in a good `frame of mind` before you show him your new hat.
From now on: from this moment forward. I’m too fat. `From now on` I’m not going to eat so much.
Get away clean: escape punishment. “After robbing the bank, the robbers sped off in a waiting car and got away clean.”
Get after someone: tell someone to do something you feel he should do.
Every time Professor Jackson goes out into the rain, his wife has to `get after him` to carry his umbrella.
Get away with something: do something one shouldn’t and not be caught at it.
Dave may have been successful in fooling the boss this time, but he can’t `get away with it` every time.
Get cold feet: become very cautious, be afraid to do something.
John wanted to ask Vera to marry him, but he `got cold feet`.
Get in someone’s hair: bother someone. “Listen, Jim. Your children get in my hair when they are so noisy and messy.”
Get in touch with someone: communicate with someone by phone, telegraph, mail, etc I can’t talk with you now, but I’ll `get in touch with you` this evening by phone.
Get mixed up: become confused.
Nancy has six children, and I always `get mixed up` on their names.
Get off someone’s back: stop bothering someone.
“Mum! Look at Andrew! He doesn’t get off my back. I can’t study for my Math exam.”
Get on one’s high horse: become angry and superior in attitude toward someone else.
Vernon is a republican, and he `gets on his high horse` every time someone criticizes his party.
Get rid of something: destroy, throw away, sell.
When Ella told Frank she didn’t like his hat, he `got rid of it`.
Get right down to something: begin work- ing without hesitation.
After the chairman opened the meeting, the committee `got right down to` business.
Get the ax: be dismissed, fired.
“If you continue coming late to work, you may get the ax.”
Get the ball rolling: initiate action.
“Look! You’ve been talking about repairing the roof for weeks now. Don’t you think it’s about time to get the ball rolling?”
Get the jump on someone: get the advan- tage over someone.
“I’d take Teresa out to dinner if Benito didn’t get the jump over me.”
Get to the bottom of something: learn all the facts about something.
I’ve made a mistake in my calculations, but I can’t find it. Perhaps if I begin again and study each detail carefully, I’ll `get to the bottom of it`.
Get up on the wrong side of the bed:
wake up in a bad mood.
“What’s the matter with Bernard today? I guess he got up on the wrong side of the bed.”
Give it one’s best shot: try hard.
“Can you do anything about repairing this set?”
“I’m not much of an electrician, but I’ll give it my best shot.”
Give someone a hand: help someone.
I’ll `give you a hand` when you move to your new apartment.
Give someone the slip: make a getaway. “The police were chasing the thief through the streets of the city, but he managed to give them the slip.”
Go Dutch: each person pay his own way to a movie, restaurant, etc
Thanks for asking me to go to lunch with you, but I insist we `go Dutch`.
Go fly a kite: Go away
“Hey kids, stop bothering me. Go fly a kite.”
Go from bad to worse: become progres- sively worse.
After Joe became president of the club, we thought everything would be all right. Instead, things went `from bad to worse`.
Go in for something: like, have a strong interest in.
I like golf, but I don’t `go in much for` ten- nis.
Go to bat for someone: help out and sup- port someone.
“Is it true that Don got into some trouble at work last week?”
“Yes, but his secretary went to bat for him.”
Go to the dogs: become rundown
“Have you seen their old house lately? It’s really gone to the dogs.”
Goes without saying: something is so obvi- ous that it doesn’t have to be mentioned. Mary’s an excellent student. It `goes without saying` that her parents are very proud of her.
Grow on someone: increase in favor with someone gradually.
I hated Kansas City at first, but I have to admit `it’s grown on` me.
Had better: should do something, ought to do something.
`I’d better` go now or I’ll be late for class.
Hang on: persevere.
“Although they almost lost their store, they managed to hang on until things got better.”
Have it in one: have the capacity, ability, to do something.
I think Marie `has it in her` to be a great concert pianist.
Have no business doing something: have no right to do something.
You `had no business` using my car without asking me first!
Have one’s heart set on smth: want something very much.
I don’t know what to do. My wife `has her heart set on` a new coat for her birthday, but I don’t have enough money to buy it.
Have the heart: have the courage to do something that will cause others’ unhappi- ness or disappointment.
Alfred failed his exam, but his teacher `does- n’t have the heart` to tell him.
Have the world by the tail: be successful and happy.
“Marc finished school at the top of his class and he was offered an excellent job. Now he feels he has the world by the tail.”
Have words with someone: quarrel, argue with some person.
I `had words with` the manager of that store, because he refused to refund my money for a TV set that wasn’t operating properly.
High and low: everywhere, in every con- ceivable place.
I’ve lost my passport I’ve looked `high and low` for it, but I can’t find it.
Hit the ceiling: become very angry.
“Don’s father hit the ceiling when he was informed that his son had been detained by the police.”
Hit the hay: go to bed.
“Let’s hit the hay and get a good night’s sleep. It’s going to be a long day.”
Hit upon something: to discover something that will help make progress in a certain cause or situation.
The scientist worked for a long time but couldn’t solve his problem. Then, after many hours, he `hit upon` the right solution
Hold one’s horses: wait patiently instead of going forward.
When Betty insisted that they leave immedi- ately, Jeff told her to `hold her horses`, since there was plenty of time before their plane left.
Hold one’s own: to maintain oneself in, be equal to, a given situation. Bob’s parents don’t worry about him. They know he can `hold his own` in his university studies.
Hold something against someone: blame someone for something for a period of time. I was responsible for Fred’s being late to class this morning, but he doesn’t `hold it against me`.
Horse around: play around.
“After the coach left the gym, all the kids decided to stay and horse around on the par- allel bars.”
Horse of a different color: quite a different matter.
“Being playful is one thing, but hurting some- one by one’s jokes is a horse of a different color.”
Hot under the collar: extremely angry. “Uncle David was hot under the collar when he stuck in slow-moving traffic.”
If the shoe fits wear it: admit the truth. “I always say” if the shoe fits, wear it”. Bryan is better than me at Math.”
Ill at ease: not comfortable psychologically. David speaks easily in front of a small group but he seems `ill at ease` before a large audience.
In advance: before, ahead of time.
If you want to see that play, you should buy your tickets `in advance`.
In care of someone: write to one person at the address of another person.
When you write to Roy, be sure to put “`in care of` Mrs. John Briggs” on the envelope.
In charge of something: responsible for something, such as the department of a large company or an activity for which arrangements must be made.
Alex is `in charge of` the publicity commit- tee for the school dance.
In fact: actually, really.
Yes, I know Robert Johnson `In fact`, he’s my cousin.