Idioms I

Idioms 1
Idioms 1


alley cat

- stray cat

He began to feed the alley cat and now it comes to his house every day.

badger someone

- get someone to do something by repeated questions or by bothering them

I always have to badger my friend in order to make him return my computer game software.

bark up the wrong tree

- choose the wrong course of action

He is barking up the wrong tree. He accuses me of causing the computer problem but I was away at the time.
one`s bark is worse than one`s bite

- someone`s words are worse than their action

You shouldn`t worry about her. Her bark is worse than her bite and she is really a very nice person.
bet on the wrong horse

- misread the future

He is betting on the wrong horse if he keeps supporting the other city in their bid for the games.
bull in a china shop

- a person with no tact who upsets others or upsets plans

He is like a bull in a china shop so you should be careful if you invite him to your house for the weekend.
buy a pig in a poke

- buy something without seeing it or knowing if it will be satisfactory

You can buy the used radio if you want but it will be like buying a pig in a poke.
cash cow

- a good way to make money

The new business is a great cash cow. We are making a lot of money now.
cast pearls before swine

- waste something on someone who won`t be thankful

Giving that jewellery to her will be casting pearls before swine. She will not appreciate it at all.
cat get one`s tongue

- can`t speak because of shyness

The cat must have got her tongue. She did not saying anything at all.

cat nap

- a short sleep taken during the day

I had a cat nap during the afternoon so I would feel refreshed in the evening.

change horses in midstream

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

They have decided to change lawyers but I told them that they shouldn`t change horses in midstream.
copycat

- someone who copies another person`s work etc.

He is a copycat according to the other students in the class.
cry wolf

- give a false alarm, warn of a danger that is not there

He is crying wolf. There is no real danger or worry about the electrical system causing a fire.
curiosity killed the cat

- being too nosy may lead a person into trouble

You shouldn`t worry about what he is doing. Remember curiosity killed the cat.
dark horse

- a candidate little known to the general public

He was a dark horse in the race to be President until he gave some good speeches on TV.
dog-eat-dog

- ready or willing to fight and hurt others to get what one wants

It is a dog-eat-dog world outside the father said to his young son.

donkey's years

- a very long time

I talked to my friend for a long time because I hadn't seen her in donkey's years.

dumb bunny

- stupid or gullible person

He really is a dumb bunny. I can`t believe that he can do such stupid things.
eager beaver

- a person who is always eager to work or do something extra

She is a real eager beaver and I am sure she will do very well in this company.
eat like a horse

- eat a lot

Her brother who is 18 years old eats like a horse.
every dog has his day

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

Don`t worry about him. Every dog has his day and he will eventually suffer for all the bad things that he is doing.
fraidy-cat

- someone who is easily frightened (used by children)

The little boy called his friend a fraidy-cat because he wouldn`t climb the tree.
get (someone`s) goat

- annoy someone

She is always complaining about the way I do things which gets my goat.
get on one`s high horse

- behave with arrogance

She is always getting on her high horse and telling people what to do.
get off one`s high horse

- begin to be humble and agreeable

I wish that she would get off her high horse and begin to think about how other people feel about things.
go ape

- become highly excited or angry

He will go ape if he sees that you have not finished the work that was due today.
go whole hog

- do something completely or thoroughly

They went whole hog in their effort to make sure that the convention was a success.
hit the bulls-eye

- reach the main point

I think that he really hit the bulls-eye when he talked about the problems with the regular staff.
hold one`s horses

- wait, be patient

Hold your horses for a moment while I make a phone call.
holy cow

- used to express strong feelings like astonishment, pleasure or anger

Holy cow he said as he saw the car that had hit the street lamp.
horse around

- rough or noisy play

The teacher told the children to stop horsing around and get ready for class.
horse of a different color

- something totally separate and different

Moving to a new location is a horse of a different color. It was never mentioned in any of our meetings.
horse sense

- wisdom in making decisions

He doesn`t have much horse sense and doesn`t always make the correct decision.
horse trade

- hard and skillful bargaining

We had to do a little horse trading but finally we reached a deal to buy the new house.
in a pig`s eye

- hardly, unlikely, not so

In a pig`s eye he will be able to save enough money to go to Hawaii for the winter.
in the doghouse

- in disgrace or disfavor

He is in the doghouse with his wife because he went out drinking three times last week.
kangaroo court

- a self-appointed group that decides what to do to someone who is supposed to have done wrong.

It was decided in a kangaroo court that he would have to pay for the damage that he had caused to the school building.
lead a dog`s life

- work hard and be treated unkindly

He is leading a dog`s life since he married the woman who everyone told him not to.
let sleeping dogs lie

- don`t make trouble if you don`t have to

You should let sleeping dogs lie and not ask him any questions about the argument.
let the cat out of the bag

- tell something that is supposed to be a secret

She let the cat out of the bag when she began talking about the plans for the new department.
live high off the hog

- have the best of everything

He has been living high off the hog since he changed jobs and moved to Texas.
lock the barn door after the horse is gone

- be careful or try to make something certain after it is too late

Now he wants to try and fix his house but it is like locking the barn door after the horse is gone. There was already a flood and the damage is done.
look a gift horse in the mouth

- complain if a gift is not perfect

He shouldn`t look a gift horse in the mouth and should be happy that he got a present from her.
look like the cat that swallowed the canary

- look very self-satisfied, look as if one just had a great success

You look like the cat that swallowed the canary. What happened?
make a mountain out of a molehill

- make something that is unimportant seem important

You are making a mountain out of a molehill with your going on and on about his mistake.
monkey business

- unethical or bad activity, mischief

He should stop that monkey business and try to do the job the correct way.
piggyback

- sitting or being carried on someone`s back and shoulders

The boy was riding piggyback on his father`s shoulders.
piggy bank

- a small bank (sometimes in the shape of a pig) for saving money

He has been putting money into his piggy bank to save for a bicycle.
play cat and mouse with someone

- tease or fool someone

He is playing a cat and mouse game with his company about his plans to quit or not.
put the cart before the horse

- do things in the wrong order

I think that buying a ticket before we make any plans is putting the cart before the horse.
rain cats and dogs

- rain very hard

It has been raining cats and dogs all day.
rat out on

- desert or betray someone

He ratted out on his friends and now they won`t talk to him.
rat race

- rushing around, confusing way of living that does not seem to have a purpose

He is tired of living in the rat race every day and plans to quit his job soon and do something else.
ride herd on

- watch closely and control someone

He has been riding herd on his employees so that he can get the job done in time.
road hog

- car driver who takes more than his share of the road

The person in front of me on the highway was a road hog but I tried not to get angry.
sacred cow

- a person or thing that is never criticized or changed even if it should be

The school lunch program is a sacred cow which they will never change.
scaredy-cat

- someone who is easily frightened (used by children)

The children were calling their friend a scaredy-cat because she wouldn`t go into the empty house.
smell a rat

- be suspicious, feel that something is wrong

I smell a rat. There is something wrong with his relationship to the bankers.
straght from the horse`s mouth

- directly from the person or place where something began

I heard straight from the horse`s mouth that she will be leaving the company next week.
straw that breaks the camel`s back

- a small trouble which follows other troubles and makes one become angry or do something

Her accusing me of not working hard enough was the straw that broke the camel`s back so I finally asked for a transfer to another section of the company.
tail between one`s legs

- feel beaten, ashamed (after a scolding etc.)

He left the meeting with his tail between his legs after he was criticized by the president.
take the bull by the horns

- take decisive action and not worry about the results

My aunt decided to take the bull by the horns and begin preparations for the family reunion.
talk until the cows come home

- talk for a long time

We can talk until the cows come home this weekend at the lake.
throw someone to the wolves

- send someone into danger without protection

He decided to throw his co-worker to the wolves when he asked him to go and see the other company.
turn tail

- run away from trouble or danger

We decided to turn tail and leave the pub before there was a fight.
wildcat strike

- a strike spontaneously arranged by a group of workers

There was a wildcat strike at the factory and over 100 people walked off the job.
wolf in sheep`s clothing

- a person who pretends to be good but really is bad

Be careful of that man. He is a wolf in sheep`s clothing.

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