Speak Read Write

Idioms, Slang, Phrasal Verbs, Colloquialisms, Cliches, and Proverbs, with Context Examples

by Sally Jennings

mp3 audio of the next 10 idioms

someone has such a hard life
       Oh you poor girl! Only two cookies and not three. You have such a hard life!
someone's heart is in the right place
      When she was in the hospital, the office sent her flowers. Someone's heart was in the right place.
someone's luck ran out
      The death was just a freak accident. They say his luck ran out.
someone's standing in the polls
      That politician has recently enjoyed a high standing in the polls. He is really popular.
sound effects
      The performers added sound effects to the song, tooting like train whistles at the end.
speaking of which
       We have been talking about food all morning, speaking of which, would you like to go get some lunch?
split down the middle
       The voters returned a 51.1, 49.9 split down the middle for the incumbent.
split half-and-half
       It doesn't make sense to buy two of these huge drinks for two children. Why not get an extra glass and split one half-and-half?
strange bedfellows
      Politics makes strange bedfellows. People whom you don't expect to work together, do.
stream-of-consciousness
      He just spoke whatever came to his mind. It was a stream-of-consciousness speech.

mp3 audio of the next 10 idioms

strictly speaking
      I will let you have that for free, but strictly speaking, we aren't allowed to give them away [don't tell the boss].
such is life
      So you didn't win the lottery after all? Such is life.
sugar-coated
      He was so polite to the angry customer; his story was sugar-coated.
(sure to please)
      We will decide for you which colour to send when you order. Our selection is sure to please.
survival of the fittest
      The competition was fierce. It was survival of the fittest.
survival tactics
      The rescue guides trained the skiers in avalanche survival tactics.
thanks to
      Thanks to quick thinking on his part, the car fire did not spread to the gas tank.
the backbone of a plan
      The government now has in place the backbone of a plan to handle further political setbacks in that area.
the biggest loser
      If you cheat on an exam, even if you pass, the biggest loser will be you, not anyone else.
the bottom line
      They expected huge financial losses, but the bottom line did not look bad.

mp3 audio of the next 10 idioms

the final curtain call
      The actors came back for one final curtain call at the end of the play.
the heart of an issue
      That's more like it. Now that he is being honest, we are getting to the heart of the issue.
the hit parade
      Few songs are big sellers, finding a place on the hit parade.
the onus falls on
      The onus falls on the parents to care for the child. It is their responsibility.
the pot calling the kettle black
      But she is like that too, and even more so! When she says that, it's just the pot calling the kettle black.
the real world
      You thought you would get rich by winning the lottery? Welcome back to the real world!
the right to die
      There has been a public debate in Canada regarding the issue of euthanasia, or the right to die.
the school of hard knocks
      He had a rough life, but learned much in the school of hard knocks.
The show's not over until the fat lady sings.
      I guess we'll wait and see what happens. I am reserving judgment. The show's not over until the fat lady sings.
the survival of the fittest
      The market competition in realty is stiff. It's a case of the survival of the fittest.

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This Idiom Guide has 23 pages, in alphabetical order. This is page 10. Click below to go to a different page.

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