Speak Read Write

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

by Sally Jennings

to zip around
      She bought a tiny little two-seater to zip around town.
too wonderful for words
      Your gifts to our daughter were too wonderful for words.
totally awesome
      "Wow," the teenager gloated, "a new car, totally awesome!"
touch base
      Every couple of weeks or so, please touch base with the district manager to let him know how you are doing.
trumped up charges
      The family felt the charges against their son had been manufactured. He was in jail in another country on trumped up charges.
trying to perfect
      The corporation has been trying to perfect their customer support web site for months.
twenty-four/seven, 24/7
      If you need help, we provide that 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That's right, 24/7.
under pressure
      He works so well under pressure, they ought to promote him.
under the weather
      She got sick yesterday, and is still under the weather this morning.
unmitigated disaster
      The toddler's playroom was an unmitigated disaster, toys scattered everywhere, juice and cookies ground into the carpet, and the drapes pulled down.

up and over
      The father boosted his son up and over the bars of the jungle gym.
up in arms
      The girls were up in arms about being excluded from the sports team.
up in the air
      We don't know what is going on. Our whole trip is in jeopardy since the travel company declared bankruptcy. Everything is up in the air.
up one's sleeve
      The Dad had so many tricks up his sleeve, his young daughter was often spellbound as he performed for her.
up-to-date
      He has old information. The new web site is much more up-to-date.
up-to-the minute
      Their live coverage will give you up-to-the minute coverage of the election results as they are received.
vastly overrated
      That hot sauce label says "very spicy" but the sauce is vastly overrated. It isn't spicy or hot at all.
very much so
      Would you like to have a copy of your last examination results? Yes please, very much so.
Walk softly and carry a big stick.
      The strategy to win over the competition without them realizing what you have done is to walk softly and carry a big stick.
way cool /so cool /cool dude
      Oh, he is so cool, so way cool. Even his sister calls him one cool dude.

way to go
      Another goal! Way to go, team!
welcome back
      Boy did we ever miss you. We worked so hard when you were gone. Welcome back.
what goes around, comes around
       She got what she deserved. You know what they say, what goes around comes around.
What world do you live in?
      He is not being realistic. What world does he live in?
What's the matter?
      Oh, sweetheart, you look so depressed. Is something the matter? What is it? What's the matter? What's wrong?
(when all is said and done)
      When all is said and done, when it is final, then we will know the result.
When the cat's away, the mice will play.
      The boys had a loud party when their parents were away for the night. When the cat's away, the mice will play.
Where there's a will, there's a way.
      It looks like there is no solution, but where there's a will, there's a way.
which way the wind is blowing
      We need to do some market testing to find out which way the wind is blowing before we launch our new product.
winners and losers
      In every contest, there are winners and losers. Don't feel badly if you don't win this time.

with all due respect
      With all due respect to the Honourable Member, I disagree. I don't believe his facts are correct.
with reckless abandon
      She spent the last of her inheritance with reckless abandon, buying a large diamond and a sports car.
worth a try
      We don't know if this medical treatment will work, but at this stage, it is worth a try.
worthy of merit
      Also worthy of merit was the fine work done by our newest quilting club member.
written in stone
      You can always choose new parameters afterwards, nothing is written in stone.
you do what you have to do
      When you are as desperate as I am, you do what you have to do to change the situation.
you had better
      You had better listen to me, young lady!
you'd better start /you had better start looking for
      You had better start looking for a job before you graduate, otherwise all the openings will be gone.
you'd better stop /you had better stop doing that
      You had better stop doing that with your pen or you will mark the desk.

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

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