Idioms you must know

This lesson deals with the most common idioms in English. Each idiom is followed by its definition or meaning and example sentences.

I couldn’t agree with you more = I entirely agree with you

  • ‘People are obsessed with celebrities. Don’t you think it is funny?’ ‘I couldn’t agree with you more.’
  • ‘The government must ban all tobacco products.’ ‘I couldn’t agree with you more. Tobacco causes cancer. I don’t understand why the government doesn’t ban them.’

I’m sick of it

If you are sick of something, you don’t like it anymore.

  • I’m sick of her rude behaviour.
  • Susie is a very mean. I’m getting sick of her starry attitude and temper tantrums.
  • I’m sick of eating the same stuff for lunch every day.

You made it big

To make it big is to become highly successful.

  • I can’t believe that she earns a six figure salary. She’s made it big!
  • Man, you have made it big. Your mom has every reason to be proud of you.

Back to the grind

To be back to the grind is to get back to work.

  • ‘I’ve to finish this assignment by tomorrow.’ ‘If that’s the case, you had better get back to the grind.’
  • ‘OK everybody, lunch break is over. Now get back to the grind.’

I blew it = I missed my opportunity

‘Did you get that job?’ ‘No mate, I blew it.’

  • ‘So did you go on a date with her?’ ‘No. She seemed interested, but I guess in the end I blew it.’

Pie in the Sky = an unrealistic dream

  • Her dreams of becoming a famous writer ended up just being a pie in the sky.

A hidden agenda

When somebody has a hidden agenda, they have a secret motive for doing something.

  • It would be foolish of us to trust her. I really suspect that she has a hidden agenda.

Half-baked

If something is half-baked, it hasn’t been properly thought out or planned.

  • It was a half-baked plan, so nobody was surprised when it failed.

Hang in there / hang on in there

This expression is used to encourage people who are in a difficult situation.

  • Hang in there. Things should get better soon.

Hard to come by

If something is hard to come by, it is difficult to find.

  • Artists of his caliber are hard to come by.

Hot under the collar

If you are hot under the collar, you are angry or annoyed about something.

  • She was hot under the collar when she heard that they had lost that contract.

Bored to death

When you are bored to death you are so bored.

  • I’ve nothing to do. I’m bored to death.
  • His speech bored me to death.

You’ve got to be kidding = you must be joking

  • ‘Mom, can I wear this short skirt to the party?’ ‘You’ve got to be kidding baby. You’re fifteen. You shouldn’t wear clothes of that kind.’

Sick and Tired

When you are sick and tired of something, you no longer find it interesting or exciting.

  • I’m sick and tired of eating the same thing for dinner every day.
  • I’m sick and tired of my old car. I should buy a new one.
  • I’m sick and tired of my job. I must find something better.

Call it a day

To call it a day is to stop working.

  • It’s already 10 pm. Let’s call it a day.
  • ‘We’ve finished everything for the day.’ ‘Let’s call it a day then.’

Get on one’s nerves

To get on somebody’s nerves is to annoy them.

  • Your radio is starting to get on my nerves. You had better it turn it down.
  • Her constant nagging is getting on my nerves.

Couch potato

A person who sits in front of the TV all day long

  • If you don’t want to get a big fat belly, you must stop being a couch potato.
  • I don’t think he will come with you. He is a couch potato.

Get foot in the door / have foot in the door

To get your foot in the door is to accept even a small job hoping that you would be able to get a promotion before long.

  • It’s not easy to find a job in these troubled financial times, so I’m considering even a lower position. At least, I’ll have my foot in the door.

Give somebody a hard time

To give somebody a hard time is to make it difficult for them.

  • Be realistic and stop giving me a bad time. I can’t do anything about it.

 

Make up one’s mind

To make up one’s mind is to come to a decision.

  • I can’t make up my mind. Can you help me decide which necklace I should buy?
  • If you can’t make up your mind, ask your Mom to choose a good dress for you.

Go/sell like hot cakes

When something sells like hot cakes, it sells really well.

  • Her latest book is selling like hot cakes.

Sell someone short

To sell somebody short is to describe them as less impressive than they really are.

  • He tends to sell himself short and that is his main fault.

 

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