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English Vocabulary

Idioms derived from parts of the body - Part I

Idioms are common in all kinds of English, formal and informal, spoken and written. Here is a list of idioms derived from the parts of the body.


Keep at arms length (If you keep somebody at arms length, you avoid being too friendly with that person.)

  • He is very quarrelsome, so I keep him at arms length.

With open arms (with great affection and enthusiasm)

  • He welcomed his friends with open arms.

Break the back of something (finish the hardest part of a work)

  • Since my colleagues had already broken the back of it, I could finish the work easily.

Put one’s back into something (work at something with all one’s energy)

  • You have to finish this work by tomorrow, so put your back into it.

Put someone’s back up (make a person angry)

  • His offensive manner put my back up.

With one’s back against/to the wall (be forced to defend oneself in a difficult situation)

  • Since there was no one to help him, he had to fight alone with his back against/to the wall.

Be on somebody’s back (keep asking someone to do something, or keep criticizing someone in a way that annoys them)

  • He's still on my back about those ten pounds he lent me.

Behind somebody's back (if you do something behind someone's back, you do it without them knowing)

  • I don't want to talk about it behind his back.

Stab somebody in the back (do something harmful to someone who trusted you)

  • He was stabbed in the back by people he thought were his friends.

Turn your back on somebody (refuse to help someone)

  • I appealed for help, but they turned their back on me.

Back to square one (If you are back to square one, you have to start working on something from the beginning because your previous attempt failed.)

  • We thought everything was settled, but now they say they're not happy with the deal, so we're back to square one again.

Sections In This Article
Idioms derived from body parts - part I
Idioms derived from body parts - part II
Idioms derived from body parts - part III
Idioms derived from body parts - part IV

More English Vocabulary links
Words causing confusion
Words Confused owing to Similar Sound
Words Confused owing to faulty pronunciation
Common errors with nouns
irregular verbs
Verbs causing confusion
One-word Substitutes
Singular nouns that take plural verbs
Prepositional phrases



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