English Vocabulary

Idioms and Phrases with their Meanings and Sentences

Daily Used Idioms with meanings and Sentences, CSS Past papers idioms, UPSC IDIOMS, IAS exams idioms, Exams idioms, 500 English Idioms

Idioms and Phrases with their Meanings and Sentences, List of common idiomatic expressions, English idioms with examples for speaking, idioms list with meanings, Daily used idioms and their meanings with sentences, commonly used idioms with meanings and examples.

A bad debt = a debt unlikely to be recovered

It is a bad debt you will never get back your money.

A bed of roses = a comfortable situation

Life is not a bed of roses.

My new job is by no means a bed of roses.

A bird’s eye view = general view from the top of the building

We had a bird’s eye view of the Whole city.

Let me have a bird’s eye view of what you have done so far.

A black sheep = a disreputable member of a group or society

He has been the black sheep of the family because he has been in prison several times.

A blind alley = a thing without any prospects of advancement.

This job is a blind alley; you will never progress.

A blue stocking = a lady with literary pretensions

It is true that a blue stocking does not make a good housewife.

A bone of contention  = cause of dispute

Kashmir is a bone of Contention between Pakistan and India.

A bosom friend = a close friend.

The two girls are bosom friends and go everywhere together.

A bottleneck = something that stops or slows down progress the strike has created a bottleneck in production.
A broken reed = a weak or unreliable person.

Do not depend on him; he is a broken reed.

A burning quest ion = very important and urgent Mass unemployment is the burning question of our time.
A cock-and-bull story = an absurd and unlikely story.

Nobody will believe your cock-and-bull story.

He told me some cock-and-bull story about having lost his entire money clown a drain.

A cry in the wilderness = an unavailing cry A

We hope our waver will not prove to be a cry in the wilderness.

A dark horse = person whose qualities, abilities are not known.

He came out e be a dark horse when he won the first prize against our expectations.

I never know what he is thinking he is such a dark horse.

A dead loss = completely useless.

That shop is dead loss – they never have anything I want.

He may be a cry talented designer, but as a manager he is a dead loss.

A drawn match = a match in which neither side wins.

It was a draw a match as neither side won.

A fair-weather friend = a friend in prosperity A

All his fair weather friends deserted him when he was in trouble over money.

A far cry from = something quite different.

This job is a far cry from the last one I had.

A fish out of water = in an uncomfortable situation.

The middle woman felt like a fish out of water.

A mother away from her child is like a fish out of water.

A fool’s errand = a useless journey

I came to help him. But it was a fool’s errand he had no need of my assistance.

A fool’s paradise = mistaken happiness.

You are living in a fool’s paradise if you think the economic situation will improve shortly.

Do not live in a fool’s paradise, the lottery ticket is not going to bring you any windfall.

A gentleman at large = a man of leisure you find many gentlemen at large in our country.
A hard nut to crack = a difficult problem

Finding the money for our new project will be a hard nut to crack.

To solve the problem of unemployment is a hard nut to crack.

A laughing stock = someone who is laughed at

If you wear that hat, you will be the laughing stock of the party.

A left-handed compliment = a remark that seems like a compliment but in fact is not

He said he liked me a lot better than the last time he met me, which I thought was rather a left-handed compliment.

A maiden speech = a member of parliament’s first speech

His maiden speech was a success.

He made a memorable maiden speech to Assembly.

A man of letters = a person who does literary work Dr. Iqbal a was a man of letters.
A man of straw = a man of no substance

The bank will not accept the guarantee of a man of straw.

A mare’s nest = a discovery that proves to be untrue or valueless.

This discovery of the scientist proved to be a mare’s nest.

In the end the police realized that their findings were nothing short of a mare’s nest.

A red-letter day = a day of rejoicing.

The day I won a prize in the debating contest was a real red-letter day.

A round peg in a square hole = a square peg in a round hole.
A sixth sense = an ability to perceive what is beyond the powers of the live senses

I could not see or hear anyone, but a sixth sense told him that he was being folk wed.

A square deal = an honest transaction

You always get a square deal in that shop.

A square meal = a good, satisfying meal.

The poor children never get a square meal.

He looks as though he has not had a square meal for months.

A square peg in a round hole = a person not fitted for something.

He was fit to be a teacher, but by adopting the profession of law he has become a square peg in a round hole.

A storm in a tea cup = a fuss made over a trifle.

Their quarrel was just a storm in a teacup.

We thought that they had decided not to get married but their quarrel was just a storm in a teacup.

A walk-ever = an easy or unopposed victory.

The other team did not come and we had a walkover.

A wet blanket = a person who spoils others’ enjoyment.

Don’t ask him to the party, he’s such a wet blanket.

A white elephant = something that is useless to maintain

A car is a white elephant for a poor man.

The new office block has become an expensive white elephant.

A white lie = a no very serious lie.
A wild goose chase = a useless attempt.

The false clue sent the police party on a wild goose chase and the criminals escaped easily.

Above board = open and honorable.

We must keep he whole affair above board.

He is open and above board in his dealings.

Add fuel to fire = to make worse.

Her tactless remarks added fuel to the fire.

Add insult to injury = to cause annoyance as well as harm.

The water board cut off our water supply in error and added insult to injury by charging us for the cost of re-connection.

After one’s own heart = exactly to one’s own liking.

He is a man after my own heart.

Against a rainy day = for a difficult time.

YOU should save something against a rainy day.

All and sundry = everybody.

The new law concerns all and sundry.

All at sea = puzzled or bewildered.

Can I help you? You seem all at sea.

All in all = considering everything.

We have not done badly, all in all.

All the rage = over popular and fashionable.

Dresses like this used to be all the rage.

Blue jeans are all the rage these days.

Aladdin’s lamp = anything able to grant all one’s wishes.

Ready money is Aladdin’s lamp.

The Government has no Aladdin’s lamp to turn a poor country into a rich paradise overnight.

An apple of discord = cause of envy and contention

Their father’s property is the apple of discord between the brothers.

An eye wash = conceit something done to impress an observer 1 His sympathy for me was merely an eye wash.
An iron will = a very strong will.

Quaid-i-Azam had an iron will.

You must have an iron will to get rid of this bad habit.

An oily tongue = a flattering tongue.

He has an oily tongue and wins favor with everyone.

Do not be taken in by his oily tongue.

An open mind = a mind not yet wade up

Unless I know further details, I have an open mind about the matter.

I think we should keep an open mind on this until we know all the facts.

An uphill task = needing much effort; laborious

It is an uphill task to teach them English.

Passing CSS Exams is an uphill task.

As cool as a cucumber = very calm and not upset.

When everyone was rushing about madly, he was as cool as a cucumber.

As dull as ditch water = very uninteresting.

The play was as dull as ditch water.

At a stone’s throw = quite near

The college is at a stone’s throw from my home.

They live only a stone’s throw away from here.

At a stretch = continuously

He can work for ten hours at a stretch.

At low ebb = in bad or inactive state She was at low ebb after the operation.

Relations between the two countries are at low ebb.

At cross purposes = misunderstanding one another I think we have been talking at cross-purposes.

It was several minutes before we realized we were talking at cross-purposes.

At daggers drawn = bitterly hostile

They were friends but now they are at daggers drawn.

At home = comfortable; skilled.

He is quite at home in English.

She is completely at home with computers.

At random = without any plan or system.

The people for the experiment were chosen completely at random.

At sixes and sevens = in disorder; in confusion.

They went off, leaving everything at sixes and sevens.

On the clay before the wedding, the whole house was at sixes and sevens.

At the eleventh hour = at the last possible time.

The child w saved from the kidnappers at the eleventh hour.

Be at a loss = to be unable to decide; to be uncertain.

His remark left me at a loss for words.

Be at loggerheads = holding completely opposing views.

We have been at loggerheads for years.

He was at loggerheads with the management.

Be taken aback = to be shocked or Surprised

I was rather taken aback by his rudeness.

Beat about the bush = approach a matter in a roundabout way.

Do not beat about the bush; tell me plainly what you want.

Bell the cat = to lead in a hazardous enterprise

All can boast of their bravery, but very few can bell the cat.

They agreed to complain to the principal, but the question remained of who was to bell the cat.

Better half = wife or husband

I don’t know where we are going on holiday — ask my better half.

Beyond measure = very much.

The incident upset her beyond measure.

Beyond all measures = beyond measure
Black and blue = discolored with bruises

He was black and blue all over.

Blow one’s own trumpet = praise oneself

During the elections, every candidate blows his own trumpet.

Bread and butter = (way of earning) ones living Singing is us bread and butter

He does not write for fun-it is his bread and butter.

Break the ice = get over initial shyness.

We want to talk on this subject, but no one was willing to break the ice.

Break one’s word = to fail to keep one’s promise

If you break your word he will never trust you again.

Bring to light = reveal or cause to be noticed A journalist brought the scandal to light.
Build castles in the air = to have plans which are unlikely to come true
Burn one’s fingers/get one’s fingers burnt = to suffer the unpleasant results of a foolish action.

If you invest money in this business, you will soon burn your fingers.

Burn the candle at both ends = to use up all ones strength.

He is burning the candle at both ends. He will soon come to grief for he is burning the candle at both ends.

Burn the midnight oil = work or study until late at night.

Many students burn the midnight oil near the examination.

By dint of = by means of.

He succeeded by dint of hard work.

She reached the top by dint of great effort.

By fair means or foul = honest or dishonest.

They want to win by fair means or foul.

By fits and starts = irregularly.

He did his work by fits and starts.

I do things by fits and starts, you will never accomplish anything.

By hook or by crook = in any way possible.

They want to win the election by hook or by crook.

By leaps and bounds = very quickly and successfully

The building of the new sports complex is going ahead by leaps and bounds. Her English is improving by leaps and bounds.

Call a spade a spade = speak in plain terms; to be outspoken.

He is an outs poke n fellow and always calls a spade a spade.

Call into question = raise doubts about.

His honesty cannot be called in.

This incident calls into question his suit for the job.

Call the shots = to be in control of a situation

They want to change things, but their opponents are calling the shots at present.

Call the tune = call the shots
Call the day = to gain victory; to be a winner

The Germans failed to carry the day in the two world wars.

Despite strong opposition, the railing party carried the day.

Carry weight = to have influence or respect.

Her opinion carries a lot of weight with me.

Come into contact = to be in a state of touching.

His drill came into contact with an electric cable, and he got was almost electrocuted.

This substance should not come into contact with food.

Come to blows = start fighting

After exchanging hot words, they came to blows.

Come to grief = to end in total failure.

The project came to grief.

You will come to grief if you go on like that.

Compare notes = share or exchange ideas.

They are comparing notes on their trip to India.

Crocodile tears = pretended sorrow; hypocritical show of grief

They were only crocodile tears – she hated him and is not really sorry he is dead.

He shed crocodile tears at the death of his rival.

It was plain that she was shedding crocodile tears on the death of her mother-in-law.

Cry for the moon = to desire something impossible.

You are simply crying for the moon if you wish to marry her.

Cry over spilt milk = waste time regretting something that cannot be put right

You would not have suffered the loss if you had followed my advice, hut there is no point in crying over spilt milk.

He has cried wolf so often that no one believes him any longer.

Cut a sorry figure = to make poor impression

When asked to address the audience, he felt nervous and cut a sorry figure.

Every inch = completely; in every way

He is every inch a gentleman.

Face the music = to meet the unpleasant results of one’s actions.

At last his evil deeds came to light and he had to face the music.

Fair play = honest treatment

He’s not involved in the contest.

He’s only here to see fair play.