Speak Read Write

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

by Sally Jennings

the turn of the century
      At the turn of the last century, parts of Europe were untouched by recent active warfare.  That was soon to change.
the will to live
      The elderly woman's health declined when she lost her will to live.
the wraps come off
      Once the new building is unveiled and the wraps come off, we may consider leasing some space.
these are exciting times /to live in exciting times
      "John is involved in so many sports, and now he has this girlfriend," said  the teenager's mother. "We sure live in exciting times."
things look bad/good/better/worse
      Things are looking better outside our house, now that we have the new gardens planted. Everything looked pretty bad for a while.
thinly veiled
      Her distaste for the decorator's choice of fabrics was thinly veiled.
time for a change
      The premier of that province has been in office too long. It is time for a change.
time for action
       Come on, boys, coffee break is over. It's time for action.
to just get by
      We just get by on my pay rate. We don't have any extra money, just what we need.
to accept change
      Some people are very much creatures of habit; it is very hard for them to accept change.

to add up to
      Everything you are buying adds up to forty dollars.
        Yes, you are right it is expensive.  It sure adds up, doesn't it?
to address an issue
      The politician refused to address the issue. He talked about everything else.
to apply for a job
      I applied for a job in computer science yesterday.
to assess information
      Once we have read the company's application, and assessed the information, we will contact them.
to avoid responsibility
      He was gone from home long hours in order to avoid the responsibility of caring for his young son.
to barely survive
      The cat barely survived the accident with the car.
to be a lemon
      That vehicle had three major repairs in the first two years we owned it. It has turned out to be a real lemon.
to be an item
      Did you know she is dating the courier driver? That's right, they are an item.
to be at stake
      We can't lose this game because the whole championship is at stake. We won't advance to the finals if we lose.
to be based on information
      Part of the news report was based on information from an unnamed source.

to be beyond belief
      Have you seen what she did to her hair? It's beyond belief. [You will be shocked.]
to be called to account for /to account for
      The school called him to account for the way he had spent the last three weeks.
to be derelict in one's duty
      Parents who neglect their children are derelict in their duty.
to be honest /to be honest with you /to be perfectly honest
       I am truly confused. To be perfectly honest, I don't know.
      To be honest with you, I don't know the first thing about how to do this assignment.
to be in the hole
      They spent fifty bucks on the supplies, but only charged forty bucks for the stuff they sold. So, they went in the hole [are in the hole] ten bucks.
to be knee deep in something
      The farmer waded into the flooded field to rescue the horse until he was nearly knee deep in mud.
to be marginalized by society
      The couple felt that they were being left out of every group, because of their circumstances. They believed they were marginalized by society.
to be no fun
      "I don't want to go to the doctor," wailed the six-year-old, "that will be no fun!"
to be no stranger to
      Those people are no strangers to success, they have had two gold medalists in their family.
to be no surprise /to come as no surprise
      It should come as no surprise that their teenage daughter has racked up yet another awesome credit card bill.


This Idiom Guide has 23 pages, in alphabetical order. This is page 11. Click below to go to a different page.

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