Important Idioms and Phrases for Competitive Exams

An Idiom is a literary device composed of a group of words that carries the meaning without relating to the meaning of the individual words, used in it, but the sense of the words. Idioms are being used from ancient times with a particular meaning placed in useful sentences in English. Here, we have provided a list of common and most important idioms with their meaning and their use in a sentence for competitive exams. Previously, we have discussed the difference between Idioms and Phrases in English literature. This list of useful English Idioms has covered basic idioms as well as hard idioms.

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In this article, we have included the most Important Idioms and Phrases for SSC CGL and SSC CHSL

Here you will get A to Z idioms with meanings and sentences.

Idioms and Phrases

A

  • ABC – Primary rules; For example: He does not know the ABC of cricket.
  • A bed of roses- An easy and happy situation; For example: Life is not a bed of roses.
  • A beehive – A busy place; For example: The office was something like a beehive when Prajakta got in.
  • A big gun – an important man; For example: He is a big gun in our area.
  • A black sheep – A person with a bad reputation; For example: Rachel is the black sheep in her family with an interest in arts whereas everyone else is a doctor.
  • A bolt from the blue – An unexpected and unpleasant event; For example: The news of Gandhiji’s death was a bolt from the blue.
  • A bone of contention – Cause of hostility / Matter of dispute; For example: The property was a bone of contention among the sons.
  • A cakewalk – An easy achievement; For example: This game is a cakewalk.
  • A chip of the old block – An experienced old man; For example: Mr. Mehta was a chip off the old block.
  • A close-fisted person- A miserly person; For example: Ravi is a close-fisted man.
  • A close shave- narrow escape; For example: As the floodwaters hit the coastal village, several families had a close shave.
  • A closed book – A mystery; For example: Mariam’s life is a closed book.
  • A cuckoo in the nest – An unwelcomed intruder; For example: The police is always a cuckoo in the nest of anti-socials.
  • A cut above – Rather superior to; For example: Shabnam has a cut above the other candidates and should win easily
  • A damp squib – A disappointing result; For example: It is a bit of a damp squib.
  • A dog’s breakfast – A total mess / A thing that has been done badly; For example: Our favourite restaurant has become a dog’s breakfast.
  • A drop in a bucket – A very insignificant amount; For example: What the employees were paid was a drop in the bucket compared to the company’s earning.
  • A fish out of water – In an uncomfortable situation; For example: Mr. Banerjee looked like a fish out of the water, nobody was aware of him.
  • A golden mean – Middle course between two extremes; For example: When the issue comes to money, the golden mean is saving some income in such a recession.
  • A hard nut to crack- Difficult to solve; For example: This problem is a hard nut to crack, it will take longer than they imagined.
  • A house of cards – An insecure scheme; For example: Ritesh has seen many investments fall like a house of cards in the share market.
  • A left-hand compliment – An ambiguous compliment; For example: Rita liked my hair, but it turned out to be a left-handed compliment when she asked about dyeing it.
  • A little gush of gratitude – Excessive enthusiasm; For example: Ribhu felt a little gush of gratitude towards his colleagues.
  • A live wire – A person who is lively or energetic; For example: An athlete must become a live wire in a competition.
  • A man in the street – An ordinary person / common man; For example: Suddenly, the noise rolls across the city, leaving the man in the street on edge.
  • A month of Sundays – A long time; For example: We need a month of Sundays to finish the job.
  • A sacred cow – A person never to be criticised; For example: Most politicians are sacred cows.
  • A shot in the dark – An attempt to guess something; For example: What Rakesh do in every competition is a shot in the dark.
  • A snake in the grass- A secret enemy; For example: Indra thought Himesh was a snake in the grass.
  • A sore point – Something which hurts; For example: Sumit is still a sore point about his father’s death.
  • A square peg in a round hole- A misfit in the environment; For example: Coming from an affluent family, she found herself a square peg in a round hole when she married the poor and moved to his
  • A white elephant – Costly or troublesome possession; For example: This car is a white elephant to a middle-class person like Vikas.
  • A wild goose chase – Futile search; For example: The police was sent on a wild goose chase.
  • Above all – Chiefly; For example: Above all be careful of your health.
  • Above board – honest, frank; For example: Unless you are above board in your dealings, you will not be able to win the trust of your clients.
  • Achilles’ heel – Weak spot; For example: The blue diamond was an Achilles’ heel to Mr. Prasad.
  • Acid test- Definitive proof of truth or falsehood; For example: The acid test of a good candidate is whether he/she remains calm in a surprise test.
  • Actions speak louder than words- What you do is more important than what you say; For example: One’s actions speak louder than words during duty.
  • Add fuel to the fire – Worsen the situation; For example: The decision to allow people to roam freely in the Covid-19 pandemic will only add fuel to the fire.
  • After all – In the end; For example: So you’ve come after all.
  • All at once – Suddenly; For example: All at once, I saw a snake.
  • All at sea – Puzzled; For example: Suresh is all at sea with the new rules.
  • All in all – Full authority; For example: He is all in all in his office.
  • All but – Almost; For example: He is all but ruined.
  • All ears – Attentive; For example: Throughout his speech, the crowd was all ears.
  • Allow a free hand – Complete liberty; For example: You must allow me a free hand to do the task.
  • All moonshine – Superficial; For example: Until anyone proves Jerry wrong, it’s all moonshine!
  • As the crow flies- The shortest route; For example: It only takes an hour as the crow flies.
  • At daggers drawn- Bitterly hostile; For example: Savita and her baby were at daggers drawn.
  • AII of a sudden – Quickly and unexpectedly; For example: All of a sudden, the tyre burst.
  • All the same – Nevertheless; For example: I could not use your car, but thanks all the same.
  • Alma mater – Institution where one got an education; For example: Himangshu returned to his alma mater to write a thesis.
  • Anything but – Not at all; For example: Hamlet was anything but mad.
  • An about-turn – Complete change of opinion or situation; For example: As the bull got out, I did an about-turn.
  • An apple of discord – A cause of quarrel; For example: The property was an apple of discord among the sons.
  • An axe to grind – A private interest to serve; For example: Aftab said he had an axe to grind.
  • Apple of discord – Cause of animosity; For example: Anyone can sense an apple of discord between both of you.
  • An open book – One that holds no secrets; For example: Mr. Mitra’s life is an open book.
  • Armchair critic – A person who gives advice based on theory not on practice; For example: The team needs words of wisdom and encouragement from an armchair critic.
  • Around the clock – Day and night; For example: Dibya is working around the clock nowadays.
  • As daft as a brush – Extremely silly; For example: Sima is as daft as a brush outside her house.
  • As hard as a nail – Emotionless / To show no sympathy, kindness or fear; For example: The judge was as hard as a nail to the accused.
  • As it were – So to speak; For example: The sun is, as it were, the lamp of the earth.
  • At large- Not caught; For example: The people were scared because the burglar was at large.
  • As usual – As a general practice; For example: The show started at 4, as usual.
  • At all – In any way; For example: I did not enjoy it at all.
  • At all events – Whatever happens; For example: At all events, I will reach there in time.
  • At loggerheads – In strong disagreement; For example: Susmit and Naina are always at loggerheads.
  • At a loss – Unable to decide; For example: I’m at a loss about what to do next.
  • At a low ebb – Decreasing; For example: Her spirits were at a low ebb.
  • At a stretch – Continuously; For example: I can run ten miles at a stretch.
  • At arm’s length – At sufficient distance; For example: Keep the bad boys at arm’s length.
  • At bay – About to be caught; For example: The hare is at bay.
  • At best – Taking the hopeful view; For example: We can’t arrive before Friday at best.
  • At borne in – Strong; For example: He is at bourne in history.
  • At daggers drawn – Bitter relation; For example: She’s at daggers drawn with her colleagues.
  • At the drop of a hat- Instantly; For example: Ravi is so hot-headed that he is ready to fight at the drop of a hat.
  • At the eleventh hour – At the very last moment; For example: He arrived the office for an interview at the eleventh hour.
  • At home – Comfortable; For example: She makes me feel very much at home.
  • At large – Free; For example: The anti-socials are still at large.
  • At length- At last- At length, the bus arrived, an hour late.
  • At least – No less than- Give me at least two rupees.
  • At once – Immediately; For example: Come here at once.
  • At one with – In agreement with; For example: I’m at one with you.
  • At one’s beck and call – Ready to follow orders/ To be dominated by someone; For example: Neha is improving in her career as she is at her boss’s beck and call.
  • At one’s best – In the best form; For example: Rabindranath is at his best in poems.
  • At one’s and call – At your behest; For example: I’m not at your and call, you know.
  • At one’s elbow – Close at hand; For example: Keep a dictionary at your elbow.
  • At one’s wit’s end – Puzzled / To be so worried by a problem that you don’t know what to do next; For example: I am at my wit’s end as to what to do.
  • At random – Aimlessly; For example: The police fired at random.
  • At present – Now; For example: He is in Delhi at present.
  • At sea- Confused; For example: He is completely at sea about where to invest his hard-earned money.
  • At sixes and seven – In disorder or confusion; For example: Pavitra is really at sixes and sevens overtaking this new car.
  • At snail’s pace- Do something very slowly; For example: After this disaster, all victims are recovering well but at snail’s pace.
  • At stake – In danger; For example: His life is at stake.
  • At stone’s throw- Very near; For example: Mr. Chandra was killed before me at stone’s throw.
  • At the eleventh hour – At the last moment; For example: The doctor arrived at the eleventh hour.
  • At the outset – At the start; For example: At the outset of her career, she was hopéful.
  • At the point of – On the verge of; For example: The old man is at the point of death.
  • At times – Occasionally; For example: At times, he loses his temper.
  • At the root of – The cause of; For example: You are at the root of all the trouble.
  • At one’s wit – Puzzled/Confused/Perplexed; For example: Ibrahim has tried everything to succeed, and now he’s at his wit’s end.
  • At their wits’ end- Quite perplexed; For example: When Rahul told everyone that he had resigned from his job, all the members of the family were at their wits’ end.
  • Average out – Balance; For example: The working hours in the factory are average out at 40 per week.

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Idioms and Phrases

B

  • Back to square one- Come to the original point; For example: Our team is back to square one.
  • Bad blood – Ill feelings; For example: There’s a lot of bad blood between the brothers.
  • Bad hats – People of bad character; For example: The bad hats must be punished.
  • Bag and baggage – All belongings; For example: They left Bangladesh with bags and baggage.
  • Barking up the wrong tree – Trying to find someone in the wrong place; For example: You’re barking up the wrong tree if you are expecting Paresh to give your money back.
  • Batten down the hatches – Prepare for a difficult situation; For example: We had better batten down the hatches here as the storm is coming.
  • Be an old hat- To be outdated; For example: Centurian Mr. Baweja has been an old hat to his family.
  • Be the Devil’s advocate- To present a counterargument just for the sake of it; For example: Ramesh is the devil’s advocate with anyone.
  • Be down with – Suffering from; For example: Sunita is down with her office colleagues.
  • Be left in the lurch- Be deserted when one is in trouble; For example: Shome’s advisers left him in the lurch in such a drastic situation.
  • Be taken aback – Shocked or surprised; For example: The country was taken aback by the news of Rajiv Gandhi’s death.
  • Bear in mind – Remember; For example: we must bear in mind that all people are not the same.
  • Beat about the bush – Avoid the main point; For example: Don’t beat about the bush, come to the point.
  • Bed of roses – Pleasure or ease; For example: Life is not a bed of roses.
  • Been nipped in the bud- Dropped at an early stage; For example: The idea of making a children’s park has been nipped in the bud by the local council.
  • Before long – Soon; For example: She will come back before long.
  • Beggars description – Beyond description; For example: The misery of the poor is beggars description.
  • Bell the cat- Do the impossible task; For example: No one in the team could bell the cat and tell the producer the truth.
  • Beside the mark – Irrelevant / Not to be accurate; For example: His calculation was beside the mark.
  • Beyond the pale – Unreasonable or unacceptable; For example: Mini feels childish, beyond the pale.
  • Bids fair – Seems likely; For example: The boy bids fair to shine in life.
  • Big draw – Huge attraction; For example: APJ Abdul Kalam is a big draw to all Indians.
  • Birds of the same feather – Persons of the same character; For example: Soulmates are birds of same feather.
  • Bird’s eye view – General view; For example: He took a bird’s eye view of the affected area.
  • Black sheep – Disgraceful person; For example: He is a black sheep in the family.
  • Blind alley- A situation in which no further progress can be made; For example: The progress of the work is heading into a blind alley.
  • Blood running cold – Become very frightened; For example: The thunder has made everyone’s blood running cold.
  • Blow one’s own trumpet – To praise oneself; For example: Ram likes to blow his own trumpet.
  • blow one’s top- Be very angry; For example: The boss is going to blow his top when he discovers the blatant mistake in the balance sheet.
  • Back to the drawing board – Plan it all over again; For example: If the plan gets rejected, we have to back to the drawing board.
  • Backseat driver – A person who gives unwanted advice; For example: It’s very easy to be a backseat driver than facing a situation.
  • Blue blood – High birth; For example: He is proud of his blue blood.
  • Blue-eyed boy – Favorite; For example: Johnathan was the blue-eyed boy at his school.
  • Bolt from the blue – Sudden and unexpected; For example: The news of his death was a bolt from the blue.
  • Bosom friend – Close friend; For example: He has been her bosom friend from childhood.
  • Bone to pick- Cause of quarrel/ Bone of contention; For example: Sunita has a bone to pick with her trainee for failing the job.
  • Book worm – Person fond of reading; For example: A book worm gives all his time to studies.
  • Born with a silver spoon – Born in a rich family; For example: Ratan was born with a silver spoon.
  • Break the ice – Make people comfortable and relaxed / Start the conversation; For example: As I broke the ice many members spoke.
  • Breathe one’s last – Died; For example: The old man breathed his last on Monday last.
  • Broad daylight – Openly; For example: The dacoity was done in broad daylight.
  • Bring into the light – Disclose; For example: The secret was brought into the light.
  • Bring into play – Muster; For example: He musters all his points to win the case.
  • Bring the house down – Make the audience applaud enthusiastically; For example: The singer has brought the house down.
  • Bring to book – Punish; For example: He was brought to book for his negligence.
  • Build a castle in the air – Be absorbed in a daydream; For example: You must have a concrete project and not build a castle in the air if you want to apply for a loan.
  • Bull in a China shop – A clumsy person; For example: Rohit’s friends are not like a bull in a china shop like him.
  • Burn one’s boat – Leave no means of return; For example: Sephali will burn her boat if she goes to work for her competitor.
  • Burn one’s fingers – To get physically hurt; For example: One’s lie will burn one’s fingers.
  • Burning problem – Highly felt current problem; For example: Unemployment is a burning problem in the country,
  • Bury the hatchet – Stop enmity; For example: Let us bury the hatchet and be friends.
  • Butterfly in the stomach- Being nervous; For example: The candidate for the interview is getting butterfly in the stomach.
  • By and large – Mostly; For example: Our villagers are by and large farmers.
  • By all means – In every possible way; For example: ‘Can I see it?’ John asked, ‘by all means.’
  • By and by – Soon; For example: You will feel better by and by.
  • By fair or foul means – In an honest or dishonest way; For example: Jignesh has the arrogance to reach the goals by fair or foul means.
  • Button one’s lips – Stop talking; For example: His talkativeness makes us wish if he could button his lip.
  • By the by – In passing; For example: Oh, by the by, there is a telephone message for you.
  • By the way – Incidentally; For example: What did you say your name was, incidentally?
  • By the way of/by means of – Having recourse to; For example: He explained it by the way of an example.
  • By dint of – Through; For example: He succeeded by dint of hard labour.
  • By far – Without any doubt; For example: She is by far the best.
  • By fair means – By the honest way; For example: Earn money by fair means only.
  • By fits and starts – Irregularly; For example: Be regular, don’t work by fits and starts.
  • By head and shoulder – By far; For example: He is stronger than her by head and shoulder.
  • By leaps and bounds – At a rapid rate; For example: Prices are rising by leaps and bounds.
  • By the skin of teeth – By the narrowest margin; For example: Mr. Dhani avoided an accident yesterday by the skin of teeth.

C

  • Call to mind – Remember; For example: I cannot call to mind his name.
  • Call in question – Doubt; For example: Can you call in question her honesty?
  • Call spade a spade – To speak in a straightforward manner (frankly); For example: The vice-president of our team calls spade a spade.
  • Can’t hold a candle to – Cannot be compared to; For example: His new book is good but can’t hold a candle to his first one.
  • Capital punishment – Death sentence; For example: Capital punishment may not be stopped.
  • Carrot and stick – Reward and punishment policy; For example: The coach applied the carrot and stick to teach discipline to the players.
  • Carry the day – Victorious; For example: Usha carries the day in today’s race.
  • Carry weight – Be important / Important influence; For example: His decisions carry weight.
  • Carry the ball – Be in charge; For example: The alpha team carried the ball in the rescue mission.
  • Cap in hand – In a respectful manner; For example: The army stood before the President with cap in hand.
  • Cheek by jowl – Very close together; For example: My opinion stands cheek by jowl with Harshita.
  • Cast pearl before swine – Offer good things to undeserving people; For example: You must not cast pearl before swine.
  • Catnap – Short sleep; For example: Samar is an expert in taking a catnap.
  • Cats and dogs – Heavily; For example: It is raining cats and dogs.
  • Catch redhanded – Catch while committing the crime; For example: The thief was caught redhanded.
  • Catch tartar – To deal with a person who is more than one’s match; For example: Daniel and Rahul suddenly found that they have caught tartar.
  • Change colours – To turn pale; For example: The crash in the share market has changed the colours of many investors.
  • Chapter and verse – Providing minutes details; For example: She can provide you chapter and verse for this statement.
  • Chicken out – Withdraw / To decide not to do something because you are afraid; For example: Unfortunately, many students chicken out at the last moment.
  • Chicken-hearted- Cowardly; For example: Avi is a chicken-hearted person.
  • Chip of the old block cot – Son like his father; For example: Shyam was a chip of the old block cot.
  • Clean hands – Innocent; For example: Souvik came out clean hands of the court.
  • Close shave – Narrow shave; For example: The bike would have hit the boy, but he got a close shave.
  • Close the book – Stop working on something; For example: As the siren hooted, every worker closed the book.
  • Cock and bull stories – Absurd and unlikely stories; For example: When the police asked him for an alibi, he gave them some cock and bull story.
  • Cold Comfort – Slight satisfaction; For example: Jyoti’s response was of cold comfort to her mother.
  • Come out of one’s shell – To appear suddenly; For example: Sima came out of her shell as she joined the party.
  • Cool as a cucumber – Not nervous or emotional; For example: Our Principal is as cool as a cucumber even in front of all students of the college.
  • Costs an arm and a leg- Very expensive; For example: A week in Dubai can cost an arm and a leg to a middle-class man.
  • Cool one’s heel – To keep waiting; For example: She kept him cooling his heels for two hours.
  • Come rain or shine- No matter what happens; For example: You come rain and shine on Sunday.
  • Come to grief – To suffer; For example: In this pathetic situation, their marriage comes to grief.
  • Come to the point- To speak plainly about the real issue; For example: Please come to the point as I have many things to do.
  • Come to light – Been revealed / To become known to people; For example: At the end of the story, the suspicious person came to light.
  • Cool about working – Not tense about working / Reading to work; For example: Sam is cool about working in the morning.
  • Cordon off – Isolate / To stop people from getting into an area by surrounding it with police; For example: All the passes were cordoned off.
  • Couch potato- A person who watches too much television; For example: Mr. Basu and his wife are couch potatoes in the evening.
  • Crocodile tears – Unaffected tears; For example: He shed crocodile tears at my failure.
  • Cross swords – Disagree; For example: Ravi and I have crossed swords over the matter.
  • Cross the bridge- Deal with something only when necessary; For example: Don’t cross the bridge if you aren’t sure.
  • Crying need – Urgent need; For example: Mass education is the crying need of the day.
  • Cry over spilt milk – Cry over irreparable loss; For example: Is there any use crying over spilt milk?
  • Curry favour – Gain mean favour; For example: He knows how to curry favour with officers.
  • Curry favour with – Ingratiate / try too hard to get please somebody; For example: Mom brought some food to curry favour with me.
  • Cut a sorry figure – Make a poor impression; For example: He cut a sorry figure in the examination.
  • Cut and dried- Already decided; For example: The chairperson already cut and dried over this issue.
  • Cut coat according to one’s cloth – Live within your means; For example: Everyone should cut the coat according to their clothes.
  • Cut no ice – Had no influence; For example: Soumen’s excuses cut no ice with the teacher.
  • Cut one off, without a shilling – Disinheriting / To expel from the fraternal property; For example: Mr. Godrej distributed all his property to his elder son and cut his younger son off, without a shilling.
  • Cut short – Put to an end suddenly; For example: Her life cut short by cholera.
  • Cut the guardian knot – Remove difficulty / To solve problem; For example: When everyone fails, the newcomer cuts the guardian knot.
  • Cut to the quick- Hurt intensely; For example: The loyal watchman was cut to the quick when he was accused of theft.

D

  • Darkhorse – An unknown genius; For example: The new M.P. is a darkhorse in politics.
  • Day in and day out – Every day; For example: I am tired of doing it day in and day out.
  • Dead against – Opposed; For example: I am dead against the dowry system.
  • Dead-heat- Close contest that ends in a tie; For example: The marathon ends in a dead-
  • Dead language – Language no longer used; For example: Sanskrit is a dead language.
  • Dead of the night – Quiet of the night; For example: The thief came in the dead of night.
  • Dead -letter – Not in force; For example: This law is a dead -letter at present
  • Deadlock – Halt; For example: Indo-Pak talks on Kashmir are at a deadlock now.
  • Die-hard – Unwilling to change; For example: Indian cultures and traditions die-
  • Die in harness – Die while in service; For example: The aged man preferred to die in harness than lead a rusted life.
  • Doctor the accounts – To manipulate the accounts; For example: The cashier doctored the accounts of the financial organization.
  • Dog in a manger – A selfish person; For example: Dhiman has a dog-in-the-manger attitude.
  • Donkey’s year – A long time; For example: The car hasn’t been used in donkey’s years.
  • Dot one’s I’s and crosses one T’s – Be detailed and exact; For example: Shiv always dots his i’s and crosses his t’s.
  • Down the drain – Vain; For example: All her efforts are running in down the drain.
  • Down and out- Ruined; For example: A good man should not be down and out.
  • Down in the dumps – Sad and depressed; For example: Rubina was feeling a bit down in the dumps due to the rainy weather.
  • Drag one’s feet – Be reluctant to act; For example: My boss always drag my feet with the final report.
  • Draw a blank- Be unsuccessful; For example: The CBI investigations have drawn a blank so far.
  • Draw on fancy – Use imagination; For example: The writer drew on her fancy in her upcoming book.
  • Draw the line – To set a limit; For example: One must draw the line to avoid distractions.
  • Dressing-down – To give scolding; For example: My dad gave me a dressing-down for getting late.
  • Drive home – Emphasise; For example: Whenever it comes to his field of interest, he just drives home.
  • Dropping names – Hinting at high connections/Mentioning famous people you know or have met in order to impress others.; For example: My aunt always tries to impress people by dropping the name of some relatives she claims to know.
  • Dropping like flies – Collapsing in large numbers; For example: People were dropping like flies in the immense heat.

E

  • Eat one’s heart out – Very eager; For example: He eats one’s heart out to see her.
  • Eat humble pie – Suffer humiliation / To say or show that you are sorry for the mistakes committed by you; For example: He was to eat humble pie for his rudeness.
  • Eat like a horse – Eat a lot; For example: Suman eats like a horse.
  • Eat one’s salt – Obliged; For example: You have eaten my slat and can’t go against me.
  • Egg someone on – To encourage somebody to do something; For example: His teammates egged him on to surf the sea without any safety gear.
  • Emerge out of thin air – Appear Suddenly; For example: The magician makes a pigeon appear out of thin air.
  • End in smoke – Come to nothing; For example: The ambitious project to impart free books to all students ended in smoke.
  • End up in something – Come to nothing/ Useless; For example: All his research ends up in nothing.
  • End in a fiasco- A Total/Utter failure; For example: The reunion ended in a fiasco as all his friends could not arrive.
  • Enough rope – Enough freedom for action; For example: The general decided to give the commanding officer enough rope.
  • Ever and anon – Very often; For example: He comes here ever and anon.
  • Every inch a gentleman – Entirely; For example: Mr. Agarwal is every inch a gentleman in his business.

 

English idioms can make a sentence/speech astounding. When a person reads an English story with idioms and phrases, the person can sense the art of the use of beautiful phrases and idioms. Here, idioms to praise someone, something, oneself have been used with meanings and examples in useful sentences in active and passive voice examples for all tenses. We have included common and frequently asked idioms in various competitive exams.

 

F

  • Face the music – Get reprimanded; For example: I told you not to play the prank but you didn’t listen, now face the music.
  • Fair and square – Honest; For example: His conduct on this matter was fair and square.
  • Fair-weather friends – Friends who support only when easy and convenient; For example: Avoid fair-weather friends who are helpful only on good days.
  • Fall flat – Fail to amuse people / Fail to produce intended effect; For example: In spite of the high sounding words, his speech fell flat on the audience.
  • Fall short – Fail to meet expectations/ have no effect; For example: This month our plans may fall short of our goals.
  • Fall through – To fail; For example: Children fall through mistakes.
  • Far and away – Very much; For example: He is far and away from the best boy here.
  • Far and near – Everywhere; For example: The news spread far and near.
  • Feather in one’s cap – A new and additional distinction; For example: Abraham added another feather in his cap by cracking the deal.
  • Feather your own nest – Make money unfairly; For example: Danny uses inside information to feather his own nest.
  • Feel blue – In trouble / depressed; For example: After seeing the venomous snake, everyone felt blue.
  • Feel one’s pulse – To find what one is thinking on some point; For example: Sam is trying to feel the pulse of the mob.
  • Fell foul of – Got into trouble with; For example: The aeroplane fell foul of a jet in mid – sky.
  • Few and far between – Very rare; For example: He tries to perform well but good projects done by him are few and far between. He needs to put in the extra effort.
  • Fight shy of – Avoid; For example: Why do you fight shy of me?
  • Fight to the bitter end – To fight a losing battle; For example: Both gangs vowed to fight to the bitter end to settle the issue.
  • Finish with something – Be through / To have something at the end / To stop doing something; For example: Rajini is going to finish with the relationship with his boyfriend as their quarrel had another height.
  • Fire and fury – Excitement; For example: His speech was full of fire and fury.
  • Fire and sword – Destruction; For example: Taimur carried fire and sword wherever he went-
  • First and foremost – Chiefly; For example: Tagore did some painting but first and foremost he was a poet.
  • Fish out of water – Discomfortable man; For example: feels like fish out of water in this new place.
  • Fish in troubled water – To make a profit out of a troubled situation; For example: The Opposition tries to fish in troubled water.
  • Fit like a glove – Perfectly; For example: They really fit like a glove.
  • For all intents and purposes – Practically; For example: Do it now for all intents and purposes.
  • FIesh and blood – Human beings; For example: Human beings cannot bear such insults.
  • Flogging a dead horse – Wasting time in a useless effort; For example: Samim is flogging a dead horse and wasting valuable time.
  • Flying visit – Very short visit; For example: We are just making a flying visit with you.
  • Foam at the mouth – To be very angry; For example: The bull is foaming at the mouth.
  • Follow suit – Do the same; For example: He fled and his friend followed suit.
  • Follow one’s nose – To go straight ahead; For example: Just follow your nose and come out to take the chance.
  • Foot the bill – Pay the bill; For example: Who will foot the bill of the hotel?
  • For better or worse – Always; For example: I will always be there for better or worse.
  • For good – Forever; For example: He left the country for good.
  • For keeps – Forever; For example: This thing is yours for keeps.
  • Find fault with – Blame; For example: He found fault with me for nothing.
  • From A to Z – From first to last; For example: His statement is true from A to Z.
  • From bad to worse – To worsen gradually; For example: His health is going from bad to worse.
  • From the bottom of one’s heart – To speak frankly; For example: I trust you from the bottom of my heart.
  • From hand to mouth – For basic needs; For example: The poor live from hand to mouth.
  • From head to foot – From top to bottom; For example: He eyed the stranger from head to foot.
  • From pillar to post – From all corners; For example: The outfit was driven from pillar to post.
  • From time to time – Occasionally; For example: Circulars are issued from time to time.
  • Full of being – Lively and energetic; For example: Greg was full of being ashamed for doing such a creepy thing.

G

  • Gate-crasher – Uninvited guest; For example: Both of them laughed together at the gate-crasher.
  • Get a taste of one’s own medicine – Be given the same treatment that you have given to others; For example: Terrorists should get a taste of their own medicine.
  • Get down to business – To begin work seriously; For example: Stop gossiping and get down to business.
  • Get rid of – To be free; For example: Try to get rid of bad company.
  • Get the sack – Dismissed from; For example: Ten thousand employees of the company get the sack.
  • Get on well – Have a friendly relationship; For example: They get on well all the time.
  • Get on nerves – Annoying; For example: The blast was getting on nerves of the people of the area.
  • Get out of hand – Get out of control; For example: If the deadline is missed, the opportunity will get out of hand.
  • Give a piece of one’s mind – To rebuke someone strongly; For example: Ram went over there to give him a piece of his mind for making unnecessary noise.
  • Gift of the gab – Talent for speaking; For example: He charmed the audience with his gift of the gab.
  • Give a hand with – To help with; For example: Tanvir gave a hand with the matter.
  • Give a wide berth to – To stay away from or avoid someone; For example: I try to give a wide berth to the guy.
  • Give vent to – To emphasize; For example: A little child gives vent to their creativity in many ways.
  • Gerrymandering way – In a manipulative and unfair way; For example: The Managing Director tried to gerrymander the recent appointments in three ways.
  • Give the game away – Give out the secret (unintentionally); For example: Noone wants to give the game away by revealing too much.
  • Give and take – Adjustment; For example: Everybody must learn to give and take.
  • Gut feeling – Strong instinct (based on feelings and emotions rather than thought and reason); For example: I had a gut feeling that he was hiding the truth.
  • Go a long way – Help considerably; For example: She is capable enough to go a long way.
  • Go about – Go around / To continue to do something; For example: To go about this narrow can cost us life.
  • Go down the drain – Lose forever; For example: All his effort went down the drain because of you.
  • Go down in flames- Fail completely; For example: The match went down in flames as the team resigned.
  • Go Dutch – Divide the cost; For example: They went Dutch on the lunch bill.
  • Go to the dogs – Ruin / To go to in very bad situation; For example: The naughty boy has been gone to the dogs.
  • Go for the jugular – To attack somebody’s weaker point during a discussion; For example: He always goes for the jugular whenever he loses it.
  • Go haywire – Become out of control; For example: Everything was pleasant until the roller coaster started to go haywire.
  • Go off at a tangent – Start discussing something irrelevant; For example: The discussion has gone off at a tangent.
  • Go through fire and water – Undergo any risk; For example: “Hey, we have to go through fire and water to get out here.”
  • Go to the winds – Disappear; For example: As the storm goes off, our saviour has gone to the winds.
  • Go out of one’s way – Do everything possible; For example: I want to go out of my way.
  • Go scot-free – To escape without punishment; For example: He thinks he can go scot-free after conducting such a severe crime.
  • Going places – Talented and successful; For example: Yuki always knew Amar was going places.
  • Greenhorn – Inexperienced; For example: He is a greenhorn in e teaching line.
  • Green thumb – To have a natural interest; to have talent in gardening; For example: Our new gardener has a green thumb.
  • Greek to one – Unintelligible; For example: Modern art is Greek to one to me.
  • Grease palm – To give a bribe; For example: The rich man greased the officer’s palm to release him.

H

  • Had better – Used for telling somebody what you think he ‘should’ do; For example: All of you had better not touch these parcels.
  • Hand in hand – Jointly; For example: We should work hand in hand.
  • Hand and glove – With each other; For example: They are very intimate hand and glove.
  • Hand in glove – Working closely with someone / Very intimate; For example: The police are working for hand in glove with the army.
  • Handle with kid gloves- To treat someone with extreme care; For example: You need to handle the baby with kid gloves.
  • Hard and fast – Fixed/strict; For example: There is no hard and fast rule in this matter.
  • Hard nut to crack – Difficult task; For example: This job is a really hard nut to crack.
  • Hard of hearing – To be deaf; For example: We think grandpa is hard of hearing.
  • Has a bee in one’s bonnet – To be preoccupied or obsessed with something; For example: He behaves weird only If he has a bee in your bonnet about the relationship.
  • Have one’s hands full- To be very busy; For example: Look out for someone else as I have my hands full.
  • Have the last laugh – To be victorious at the end of an argument; For example: After all these massacres, we have the last laugh.
  • Have a finger in every pie – To be involved in a lot of different activities and having influence over them; For example: Since last week, I have had a finger in every pie.
  • Have too many irons in the fire- To be involved in many activities; For example: Simran was under tremendous stress because she had too many irons in the fire.
  • Head and heart – Thoroughly; For example: He is head and heart a great man.
  • Head in the clouds- To daydream; For example: Infants have their heads in the clouds.
  • Head or tail – Any meaning; For example: I cannot make head or tail of what you say.
  • Heads will roll – Transfers will take place; For example: “Don’t worry about your situation. Heads will roll for you.”
  • Heart to heart talk – Frank talk; For example: Dave is my only friend for the heart to heart talk.
  • Heart and soul – Earnestly; For example: Try heart and soul to win the prize.
  • Helter-Skelter – In disorderly haste; For example: Those boys went helter-skelter down the slope.
  • Herculean task – A work requiring very great effort; For example: I faced the herculean task to control four children single-handedly.
  • Here and there – Scattered; For example: Stars appear here and there in the evening sky.
  • High handed – Unreasonably using authority; For example: Avik always carry a high-handed manner.
  • Hit the sack- Went to bed; For example: Pradeep was so tired that he hit the sack as soon as possible.
  • Hope against hope – Nurture an impossible hope; For example: Something can happen if there is hope against it.
  • Hobson’s Choice – A free choice where there is no real alternative- We roamed for hotels here, but it’s a Hobson’s choice.
  • Hold one’s horses – To keep waiting; For example: You have to hold your horses in this critical situation.
  • Hold your tongue – To be silent; For example: You need to hold your tongue before barking for one more time.
  • Hold water – Effective; To be valid; For example: That policy will not hold water in this case.
  • Hold good – Valid; For example: This rule holds good for all.
  • Horse sense – Basic common sense; For example: Granny has a lot of horse sense.
  • Hue and cry – great noise; For example: I heard a hue and cry over the street.
  • Husband one’s resource – Save / Economical; For example: We have to husband our resources as time has become very hard

I

  • In a body – All at a time; For example: The Opposition left the meeting in a body.
  • In a fix – Puzzled; For example: I am in a fix and want your advice.
  • In a nutshell – Express very briefly; For example: Tell me the story in a nutshell.
  • In a pickle – In trouble; For example: The project has gone in a pickle as the market has been down.
  • In a tight corner – In a difficult situation; For example: Ths new circular pushed our company in a tight corner.
  • In any case – Whatever happens; For example: In any case, I shall come back.
  • In apple-pie order – In perfect order; For example: Rohit has the talent to do his job in apple-pie order.
  • In black and white – In writing; For example: He gave orders in black and white.
  • In case – If; For example: In case you don’t come, I will feel helpless.
  • In cold blood – Deliberately; For example: Great men are killed in cold blood.
  • In connection with – Regarding; For example: I know nothing in connection with that case.
  • In course of – In the way; For example: The bridge is in course of construction.
  • In the course of – During; For example: He said it in the course of discussion.
  • In defiance of – Against; For example: He acted in defiance of my advice.
  • In Dutch – In trouble; For example: As the time was running out, the traveller found himself in Dutch.
  • In favour of – On the side; For example: I voted in favour of my friend.
  • In fine (short) – In brief; For example: Put your point in fine.
  • In a nutshell – In short; For example: He told me the story in a nutshell.
  • In force – In vogue; For example: This law is in force.
  • In full swing – In top lively stage; For example: Music was in full swing when I came.
  • In front of – Before; For example: The tree stands in front of my house.
  • In good faith – Honest intentions; For example: She acted with in good faith.
  • In high spirits – Cheerful; For example: Jeevan always stays in high spirits.
  • In lieu of – Despite; For example: The team started celebrating in lieu of the winning prize.
  • In one’s teens – Between 13 and 19 years old; For example: She is in her teens.
  • In keeping with – In agreement with; For example: His deeds are in keeping with his words.
  • In-kind – In goods; For example: Taxes are paid in cash, not in-
  • In lieu of – Instead of; For example: Give me this in lieu of that.
  • In the air – Certain but not explicitly named or stated; For example: The haunt of the terrorism is in the air.
  • In the running – Has good prospects in competition; For example: He works in the running for getting a promotion.
  • In the swim – Well informed and up-to-date; For example: Sanjana loves to be in the swim of things.
  • In the loop – Informed regularly; For example: We think our new manager was in the loop.
  • In no time – Very soon; For example: I shall come back in no time.
  • In the nick of time – At the last moment; For example: We reached there in the nick of time.
  • In point of – In respect of; For example: I am your equal in point of height.
  • In the meantime – Within this time; For example: He will come soon, in the meantime finish it.
  • In the teeth of tough resistance- In a state of uncertainty; For example: The abrogation of article 370 was achieved in the teeth of tough resistance.
  • In respect of – Regarding; For example: In respect of merit, he is not your equal.
  • Ins and outs – Full details; For example: He knows the ins and outs of the job.
  • In spite of – Despite; For example: He failed in spite of hard labour.
  • In the dark – Unaware; For example: I am in the dark, of the matter.
  • In the driver’s seat- In controlling position; For example: Now that Mr. Krishna Murthy has retired from the company, his daughter is in the driver’s seat.
  • In the blues – Cheerless and depressed; For example: He was in the blues due to his father’s death.
  • In the event of – Consequent upon; For example: In the event of his death his family Will fall.
  • In the nick of time – Just in time; For example: He arrived there in the nick of time.
  • In two minds – To be undecided; For example: Srija is in two minds about accepting the offer.
  • In the long run – Ultimately; For example: Truth must win in the long run.
  • In order to – With an intention to; For example: He came here in order to meet me.
  • In the pink- In good health; For example: She looks always in the pink.
  • In the running- Contesting the seat; For example: We now have an ex-Minister in the running from our constituency for the post of Member of Parliament.
  • In the red – Losing money/to owe money; For example: Manish’s savings are in the red.
  • In the soup – To be in trouble; For example: I think she has landed in the soup.
  • In the teeth of – Against the full force; For example: He acted in the teeth of opposition.
  • In vain – Fruitless; For example: His attempts were in vain.
  • In view of – Considering; For example: In view of his age, he was released.
  • In vogue – In fashion; For example: This dress is much in vogue.
  • Iron fist – To treat people in a severe manner / strictly; For example: The new teacher runs the class with an iron fist.
  • Iron will – Strong determination; For example: Himesh has an iron will about cracking the deal.
  • It’s Greek to me- Incomprehensible; For example: My new tutor’s explanation was all Greek to me.

J

  • Jack of all trades – A person knowing a little of all things; For example: He is a jack of all trades.
  • Jailbird – Sent to prison often; For example: He is a jailbird and does not fear prison.
  • Join issue with – Differs from; For example: He joins issue with me on this point.
  • Jump at the offer – Readily accepted an offer; For example: He jumps at the offer.
  • Jumping down one’s throat – To react very angrily to somebody; For example: He jumped down my throat when I suggested a different plan.

K

  • Keep abreast of- Keep oneself updated; For example: These new boys do not keep abreast of the facts which are put before them.
  • Keep an open house – Welcome all members; For example: “The party is at your place this weekend. So, keep an open house.” Rony said.
  • Keep his wife in the dark- In ignorance; For example: For a long time he kept his wife in the dark about the true nature of his job.
  • Keep a level head – To remain calm and sensible in a difficult situation; For example: You need to keep a level head for dealing with such a dangerous situation.
  • Keep your head – Remain calm; For example: Keep your head before the inspector.
  • Keep the ball rolling – Keep the issue alive; For example: He kept the ball rolling to reach an agreement.
  • Keep the wolf from the door- Avoid starvation; For example: Extreme poverty made the poor woman wonder how long she could keep the wolf from the door.
  • Kick up a row – Make a great fuss / To complain loudly about something; For example: Do not kick up a row over a small matter.
  • Kicking heels – To be relaxed and enjoy / Waste time; For example: Stop kicking your heels.
  • Kill two birds with one stone- To achieve two results with a single effort; For example: He killed two birds with one stone by the method and the time.
  • Kiss the dust – Suffer humiliation; For example: Even the great Kaiser had to kiss the dust.
  • Kiss the rod – Be punished; For example: A bad soldier has to kiss the rod frequently.
  • Kith and kin- Friends and relatives; For example: All his kith and kin left him.
  • Know beans about something – Well informed and intelligent; For example: Suhas don’t know beans about cooking.
  • Know the ropes – Learn the procedures; For example: Before going there, you need to know the ropes.

L

  • Lame excuse – Unsatisfactory explanation; For example: Don’t pose a lame excuse for your delay
  • Late in the day – Too delayed to be of any use; For example:
  • Laugh up one’s sleeve – Laugh secretly; For example: He laughed up his sleeves at my dress.
  • Laughing stock – Ridiculous; For example: Don’t be laughing stock by your silly talk.
  • Lay down arms – To surrender; For example: The police has trapped all the criminals to lay down arms.
  • Lay in wait – Waited eagerly; For example: The lion lay in wait for the prey.
  • Lay it on thick – An exaggeration; For example: Janhavi knew that she needed to lay it on thick in the interview.
  • Lead someone by the nose – To dominate someone; For example: I will lead him by the nose.
  • Leap in the dark – To take the risk; For example: We have to leap in the dark to make the plan successful.
  • Leave in the lurch – Abandon in the midway of a difficult situation; For example: Kelly was angry enough to leave her job in the lurch.
  • Leave high and dry – Neglected/ To leave someone helpless; For example: The shop was left high and dry without any credit.
  • Leave no stone unturned – To try every possible way; For example: Jackey was in the search for the traitor leaving no stone unturned.
  • Left-handed compliment – Insulting remark appearing as praise; For example: Her comment is always a left-handed compliment.
  • Left out in cold – To be ignored; For example: Members of the board have been left completely out in the cold since this whole debate began.
  • Lend an ear – To pay attention to; For example: Tommy said “Lend an ear and listen to the plan.”
  • Let sleeping dogs lie – Not to bring up an old controversial issue; For example: Our best advantage is to let sleeping dogs lie.
  • Let the cat out of the bag – To utter a secret carelessly or by mistake; For example: Dipti wanted to surprise her mother, but her little brother let the cat out of the bag.
  • Let the grass grow under the feet – Delay in getting things done; For example: My brother missed out on a lot of opportunities because he let the grass grow under his feet.
  • Lion’s share – The largest part; For example: He took the lion’s share of the profit.
  • Like a dying duck in a thunderstorm – Dejected; For example: He felt like a dying duck in a thunderstorm after hearing his loss.
  • Like a phoenix – With a new life/rebirth/reincarnation; For example: He rose like a phoenix after such huge loss.
  • Live fast – Lives an indisciplined life; For example: One who lives fast dies young.
  • Live from hand to mouth – Miserably; For example: Our neighbours live from hand to mouth.
  • Leave no stone unturned – Spared no pain; For example: They left no stone unturned to win the game.
  • Lock, stock and barrel – Completely; For example: Shyamlal sold his business lock, stock and barrel.
  • Looking for a needle in a haystack- To search for something that is very difficult to locate; For example: Trying to find my lost ring in the college is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
  • Look sharp – Pay attention; For example: Rohit was looking sharp in the board meeting.
  • Lose heart – Disheartened; For example: They lose heart at the fall of their leader.
  • Lose head – Panic; For example: After getting the news of her loss, Samita lost her head.
  • Loaves and fishes – Material gain; For example: He cares only for loaves and fishes of the office.

M

  • Maiden speech – First speech; For example: His maiden speech fell flat.
  • Make a beeline for- Go straight to; For example: My daughter made a beeline for the seashore.
  • Make a clean breast – Confess without reserve; For example: Yogesh made a clean breast by telling the whole story.
  • Make amends for – Compensate the loss; For example: He wanted to make amends for the worry Rishi has caused him.
  • Make a mockery – To make something seem ridiculous or useless / No serious outcome; For example: These reports will make a mockery.
  • Make hay while the sun shines – Take advantage of a favorable opportunity; For example: If you don’t make hay while the sun shines, all your efforts will be wasted.
  • Make no bones about – Do not have any hesitation in anything; For example: These girls make no bones about how their friend left.
  • Make both ends meet – To live a lavish life; For example: He was unable to make both ends meet.
  • Make no headway – Unable to progress ahead; For example: Vishal makes no headway in the huge crowd.
  • Make off with – To run away; For example: The thieves made off with all the cash and jewellery in the house.
  • Make room – Make space; For example: Make room every day for your family.
  • Make one’s flesh creep – Horrify; For example: His anger made my flesh creep.
  • Make short work of something – Dispose of quickly; For example: We can make short work of this project.
  • Man of letters – Scholar; For example: Sir Ashutosh was a man of letters.
  • Man of straw – Unimportant man; For example: None cares for a man of straw.
  • Mend your ways – Improve one’s behaviour; For example: You need to mend my ways of approaching.
  • Mince matters – To confuse issues/ to mix facts; For example: Vicky does mince matters.
  • Might and main – With full force; For example: The opposition protested against the new amendments with might and main.
  • Make it light – Treat lightly; For example: Having such a severe accident, he made it light.
  • Muster strong – Collect; For example: She was to muster strong her courage to face him.

N

  • Nail one’s colours to the mast – Refuse to climb down; For example: The thief nailed his colours to the mast as soon as he saw the police.
  • Naked eye – Without any instrument; For example: We cannot see bacteria in naked eye.
  • Narrow escape – Been narrowly saved; For example: The car passed and he had a narrow escape.
  • Nine day’s wonder – A dazzling short-lived spectacle of no real value; For example: The news will be a nine days’ wonder.
  • Nip in the bud – Destroyed at an early stage; For example: All his hopes were nipped in the bud.
  • No hard and fast rules – Easy regulation; For example: There is no hard and fast rule in this matter.
  • No love lost between – Not on good terms; For example: There is no love lost between me and my boss.
  • Not fit to hold a candle – Not so good as somebody or something else; For example: This house can’t fit to hold a candle to our old one.
  • Not my cup of tea – Not what somebody likes or is interested in; For example: This topic is not my cup of tea.
  • Now and then – Occasionally; For example: I like to go to the cinema now and then.
  • Null and void – Not binding / Having no legal force; For example: The law has become null and void.

O

  • Of course – Surely; For example: ‘Did she take it? ‘Of course not.’
  • Of no avail – Useless; For example: We did our best, but it was of no avail.
  • Of late – Recently; For example: Of late a new postman has joined.
  • Of no avail – Useless; For example: Your excuses are of no avail.
  • Of own accord – Voluntarily; For example: He resigned from the office of his own accord.
  • Off and on – Irregularly / Periodically / Intermittently; For example: It rained off and on all day.
  • Off the record – Not made as an official statement; For example: This is strictly off the record but some changes are going to happen in the company in the near future.
  • On and on – Continuously; For example: She chatters on and on.
  • On-demand – When it is demanded; For example: A cheque is payable on-
  • On good terms – Agree with someone; For example: Akash remained with us on good terms.
  • On tenterhooks – In suspense and anxiety; For example: I kept waiting on tenterhooks for the promotion.
  • On the cuff – On credit; For example: Seema bought a new phone on the cuff.
  • Old head on the young shoulder – To be wise beyond one’s age; For example: Piyush has an old head on the young soldiers.
  • On the horns of a dilemma – In a situation to make choice between equally unpleasant things; For example: My sister is on the horns of dilemma.
  • On the verge of – On the brink of; For example: The species is on the verge of extinction.
  • On the same page – Thinks in a similar way; For example: Suddenly, Ravi and I find out that we’re on the same page.
  • On the level – Honest and sincere; For example: We’re speechless seeing Abhas on the level.
  • On shank’s mare – On foot; For example: Mr. Dutta travelled the city on shank’s mare.
  • On the spur of the moment – To act suddenly, without planning; For example: Meera went to Venice on the spur of the moment.
  • On the way – Coming; For example: The final report is on the way.
  • On the whole – Satisfied; For example: After all, I am on the whole.
  • Once in a blue moon – Very rarely; For example: Raj comes here once in a blue moon.
  • Of the first water – Of the best quality; For example: Amitabh Bachchan is an actor of the first water.
  • Other fish to fry – Some important work to attend to; For example: If you excuse me, I have other fish to fry.
  • On cloud nine – Extremely happy; For example: Naina was on cloud nine after cracking the examination.
  • On the brink of – On the point of; For example: The species is on the brink of extinction.
  • Out of date – Not in vogue; For example: This fashion is out of date.
  • Out of hand – Out of control, at once, immediately; For example: She dismissed his opinion out of hand.
  • Out and out – Thoroughly; For example: He is out and out a thief.
  • Out of sorts – Unwell; For example: I am out of sorts today.
  • Out of temper – Angry; For example: He is out of temper now.
  • Out of wood – Out of danger; For example: The man heaved a sigh of relief when he was sure he was out of the woods.
  • Out of the question – Undesirable/ Not worth discussing; For example: Getting out for lunch in this weather is out of the question.
  • Out of the world – Extraordinary; For example: The architecture of the Taj Mahal is out of the world.
  • Out of wits – Greatly confused; For example: He panicked out of his wits.
  • Over and above – In addition to; For example: He gets commission over and above his pay.
  • Over head and ears – Completely; For example: Mr. Bose is over head and ears in debt.
  • Over the head of – Beyond the understanding of; For example: His speech went over the head of the students.

P

  • Paled into insignificance – Seemed less important; For example: My job pales into insignificance when he compares it with mine.
  • Pass master – Satisfactory; For example: His excuse will not be pass master.
  • Pass the hat – To collect money; For example: We need for the flood victims. So, please pass the hat.
  • Part and parcel – An essential part of something; For example: Discipline is a part and parcel of student life.
  • Pay on the nail – Pay promptly / Payment without delay; For example: Jeevan always pay on the nail.
  • Pay through nose – Pay an extremely high price; For example: He paid through the nose to get the video game.
  • Penelope’s web – An endless job; For example: All the incidents are becoming like Penelope’s web.
  • Picking holes in – Finding out faults with something; For example: Raju is an expert in picking holes in everything.
  • Pie in the sky – Something not possible; For example: The chit fund company promised the pie in the sky to its investors.
  • Pin money – Additional money; For example: He makes some pin money delivering newspapers.
  • Plain sailing – Very easy; For example: The last project was plain sailing.
  • Play havoc – Cause destruction; For example: In the last round, our team played havoc.
  • Play to the gallery – Acted for the common man; For example: He played to the gallery to gain cheap popularity.
  • Play truant – Leaves the school; For example: He plays truant and goes to the cinema.
  • Play second fiddle – Plays the secondary role; For example: He plays second fiddle to his boss.
  • Playing to the gallery – Befooling the common man; For example: The magician was playing to the gallery.
  • Playing with fire – Taking a grave risk; For example: Raju was playing with fire when he made speeches against the management.
  • Pros and cons – Ill and well; For example: He should consider the pros and cons of the proposal.
  • Point blank – Very definite and direct; For example: The police shot the murderer at point-blank range.
  • Potluck dinner – Dinner where somebody brings something to eat; For example: We were having a potluck dinner yesterday.
  • Pull a fast one – Trick someone; For example: Jatin was trying to pull a fast one on Rakesh.
  • Pull a long face – Be disheartened; For example: Don’t be disheartened over your failure.
  • Pull face – Showed awkward face; For example: The boy pulled a face at his mate.
  • Pull one’s leg – Befool; For example: He tried to pull me by my leg.
  • Pull strings – Use personal influence; For example: Cathbert pulled his strings to fail Ronit.
  • Pull together – Work harmoniously; For example: We must pull together to get success.
  • Pull yourself together – Calm down; For example: Just pull yourself together and stop panicking.
  • Put up the shutters – Go out of business; For example: All shops are putting up the shutters after the long-locked down phase.
  • Put one’s cards on the table – To be honest; For example: Sunita deserves honesty, so I’m going to put her cards on the table.
  • Put one’s foot down – Assert one’s authority/ take a firm stand; For example: If you borrow my things without permission, I have to put my foot down.
  • Put one’s best foot forward – try as hard as one can; For example: In this case, the advocate put his best foot forward.
  • Put the cart before the horse- Do last things first; For example: One must learn to prioritize in life. It never pays to put the cart before the horse.

 

 

This article contains a list of all idioms on animals, sports, friendship, happiness, colours, food, hard work, success in life, love, health and so on. Here, you can find the most important idioms for Bank exams, SSC CGL, SSC CHSL and various state PSC exams.

 

 

Q

  • quake in one’s boots – Scared; For example: The thought of climbing down in that made him quaking in his boots.
  • question of time – eventuality; For example: The opponents’ defeat is just a question of time.

R

  • Rank and file – Ordinary workers; For example: The rank and file are the worst sufferers.
  • Rat race – Fierce competition for power; For example: The kidnappers got caught up in the rat race with the police.
  • Rack and ruin – Ransacked; For example: Our old house has gone to rack and ruin.
  • Ride the high horse – Feel superior; For example: Navin’s family taught him how to ride the high horse.
  • Read between the lines – Understanding the hidden meaning; For example: Read between the lines for a critical study.
  • Red herrings – Clues intended to distract or mislead; For example: The investigator discovered a few clues, but those were all red herrings.
  • Red-letter day – Memorable day; For example: The 15th August is a red-letter day for us.
  • Rest on one’s laurels – To be complacent; For example: Narendra can’t just sit back and rest on his laurels.
  • Rid for a fall – Sure to fall; For example: The proud are riding for a fall.
  • Rise with the lark – To get out of bed very early in the morning; For example: Asim rises with the lark.
  • Rise to the occasion – Be fearless; For example: You should rise to the occasion in danger.
  • Round the clock – All the hours; For example: The patient needs attention, round the clock.
  • Root and branch – Completely; For example: Corruption must be removed root and branch.
  • Run riot – Act without restraint; For example: This new writer has to let his imagination run riot.
  • Run around in circles – To waste one’s time and energy on futile things; For example: Charles is running around in circles to get his assignments done.
  • Rub shoulders with – Be intimate with; For example: Don’t try to rub shoulders with your superior.
  • Run in the same groove – Clash with each other; For example: Both groups are running in the same groove to achieve their respective success.
  • Run into rough weather- Experienced difficulties; For example: Their relationship has run into rough weather ever since they fell in love with the same girl.
  • Run short – Is insufficient; For example: Our ration ran short.
  • Rule the roost- Exercise authority / To be the most powerful member in the group; For example: He ruled the roost in the party.

S

  • Sail in the same boat – are in the same difficult position; For example: You and I sail in the same boat.
  • Salad days – Adolescence; For example: I met John in my salad days.
  • Scapegoats – A person who is blamed for the wrongdoings with arrogant reactions; For example: We are not looking for any scapegoats in this mission.
  • Standstill – Complete halt; For example: The traffic came to a complete standstill.
  • See eye to eye – Agree with someone; For example: Though our thoughts are not the same, I see you to you with my friend.
  • Sell like hot cakes – sell quickly; For example: The copies of this book sell like hotcakes.
  • Send packing – To terminate somebody rudely; For example: We caught these thieves stealing money and they were sent packing.
  • Set free – Released; For example: The prisoner was set free.
  • Set one’s face against – Oppose strongly; For example: Mom set her face against the idea.
  • Shot in the arm – Something that encourages; For example: Now I have the effect of a shot in the arm.
  • Show a clean pair of heels – To run away fast / To flee swiftly; For example: The robbers showed a clean pair of heels as soon as the police arrived.
  • Show the white feather – Fled; For example: The enemy soldiers showed the white feather.
  • Show the white flag – To surrender; For example: She showed the white flag at the end.
  • Sit in judgement – To pass judgement / or comment on someone; For example: Minakshi deserves to sit in judgement.
  • Sit on the fence – To avoid involvement in making a decision; For example: Mr. Khanna tends to sit on the fence at board meetings.
  • Soft option – Easy and agreeable option; For example: Their soft option was simply to avoid the topic.
  • Speak volume – Tells a lot; For example: His success at such a young age speaks volumes for his talent.
  • Seamy side – Unpleasant and immoral; For example: He knew the seamy side of that family.
  • Shed crocodile tears – To pretend to be sympathetic; For example: The murderer was shedding crocodile tears for an hour.
  • Shake in one’s boots – To become very scared or nervous; For example: That performance made the remaining contestants shaking in their boots.
  • Stand-offish – unfriendly; For example: Vinay is stand-offish by nature.
  • Spill the beans – Give away a secret; For example: Anaika had spilt the beans in the office yesterday.
  • Spick and span – Neat and clean / Tidy; For example: Your house is spick and span.
  • Spread like fire – Spread rapidly; For example: The rumours spread like fire in the town.
  • Stand in the way – An obstacle; For example: Idleness stands in the way to success.
  • Stand on one’s own feet – To be independent; For example: She needs to stand on her own feet to support her family.
  • Stand to guns – Stand firm; For example: He stood to guns and won the ground.
  • Stand/Hold your ground – Refuse to yield; For example: Hold your ground and fight for justice.
  • Stir up a Hornet’s nest – To create a lot of trouble; For example: Tisha’s article just stirred up a Hornet’s nest.
  • Second thoughts – Reconsidering the original idea; For example: I need to go for second thoughts on this court notice.
  • Status quo – Unchanged position; For example: He disagreed to maintain the status quo.
  • Steal the show – Win everyone’s praise; For example: DJ stole the show at the party.
  • Steal her brother’s thunder- Get more recognition than her brother for their success; For example: Ria has tried hard not to steal her brother’s thunder but it was inevitable.
  • Steer clear of- Get rid; For example: Steer clear of bad friends.
  • Stick to one’s guns – Hold on to original decisions / Maintain own opinion; For example: Despite harsh criticism, Romila stuck to her guns.
  • Straw in the wind – An indication of what might happen; For example: The latest straw in the wind is an increase in the share value.
  • Stone’s throw – Short distance; For example: We live at a stone’s throw from here.
  • Strain every nerve – Make all efforts / Try all tricks; For example: Our team strained every nerve for victory.
  • Strike a bargain – To negotiate a deal; For example: Boss was hoping to strike a bargain with us.
  • Storm in a teacup – An outrage; For example: Recent political allies have put storm in a teacup.
  • Strike a chill to the heart – To make somebody afraid; For example: His practical jokes always strike a chill to the heart.
  • Swan song – One’s last work; For example: This manuscript was his swan song.
  • Sweeping Statement – Thoughtless statement; For example: This is a sweeping statement without proper explanation.
  • Sweep under the carpet – Keep hidden; For example: Jignesh tried to sweep his past mistakes under the carpet.
  • Swollen-headed- Conceited; For example: Since he secured the first rank Sudhir has become swollen-headed.

T

  • Take a task – To rebuke; For example: The teacher takes him to task for his action.
  • Take a cue from – To do something based on suggestion to be successful; For example: He took a cue from teachers and ranked first in the class.
  • Take fancy – To attract or please somebody; For example: Rupali took a fancy to seafoods after her Pattaya vacation.
  • Take for granted – To accept readily; For example: We took for granted that they would pay their bills.
  • Take the hat off – Encourage somebody very much; For example: We took our hats off to him for his ideas.
  • Take heart- To gather confidence, courage or happiness; For example: In spite of her severe accident, she took heart and moved forward.
  • Take taken to task – Rebuke / punish; For example: He was taken to task for his fault.
  • Take exception – To object over something; For example: The team could possibly take exception to her comment.
  • Take to heart – Take very seriously; For example: Don’t take his remark to heart.
  • Take time by the forelock – Seize the opportunity; For example: One must take time by the forelock and do one’s duty sincerely.
  • Taking a toll on – serious effect on someone or something; For example: Radha is unable to continue working in this office. Hard work is taking a toll on her health.
  • Talk big – Boast; For example: Don’t talk big, none will rely on you.
  • Talking through hat – Talking nonsense; For example: He can’t stop himself talking through the hat.
  • Tall tales – Boasting; For example: He is an expert in tall tales.
  • Teething problems – Difficulties at the start; For example: There are some teething problems with the new equipment.
  • The acid test – A fact, event or situation that proves something; For example: The acid test of a good chauffeur lies in taking action in an emergency.
  • The Alpha and Omega – Beginning and end; For example: He learned the alpha and omega of business strategies.
  • The burning question – Hotly discussed question; For example: Child labour is the burning question in the society.
  • The bee’s knees – Extraordinary; For example: I thought they were the bee’s knees.
  • The salt of the earth – A genuine and morally honest; For example: Swami Vivekananda is the salt of the earth.
  • The balloon goes up – The situation turns unpleasant or serious; For example: I want to get out when the balloon goes up.
  • The jury is out – No decision has been reached; For example: The jury is out on the safety features of this building.
  • The evening of life – Old age; For example: Ravi’s grandfather can recall every memory even in the evening of life.
  • The sword of Damocles- A constant threat; For example: Due to the increased number of layoffs in the industry, the sword of Damocles is always hanging over the employees.
  • Three R’s – Elementary knowledge; For example: The mass should be taught the three R’s.
  • Through thick and thin- Under all circumstances; For example: True friends stay by our side through thick and thin.
  • Throw down a glove – To accept defeat; For example: The
  • Throw (cast/shed) light on – Disclosed; For example: The detective threw light on the mystery.
  • Till the cows come home – For a very long, indefinite amount of time; For example: They stayed there till the cows come home.
  • Time and again – Repeatedly; For example: I played this character time and again.
  • To a fault – Excessively; For example: Vidyasagar was generous to a fault.
  • To a T – Exactly; For example: The new shirt fits him to a T.
  • To and fro – Backwards and forwards; For example: We walked to and fro on the station platform
  • To bark up the wrong tree – To be wrong about the reason for something; For example: You’ve barked up the wrong tree.
  • To blaze a trail – To lead the way as a pioneer; For example: Courage is all it needs to blaze a trail.
  • To be thrown in at the deep end – To be forced to begin doing something very complex; For example: His overconfidence put him to be thrown in at the deep end.
  • To beat a retreat – To run away in fear; For example: He beats a retreat when he sees her.
  • To bite the dust – To be defeated; For example: After an exiting fight, the second boxer bites the dust.
  • To bring to light – To reveal; For example: He brought to light the truth.
  • To burn the candle at both ends – To be extravagant; For example: I have burnt candle at both ends due to so many deadlines.
  • To call it a day – Decide to finish working of the day; For example: Anthony is anxious to call it a day.
  • To the letter – Follow something exactly what somebody says; For example: He obeyed all the orders to the letter.
  • To carve out a niche – To work harder in order to have a successful career; For example: He carved out a niche as the leading character in the play.
  • To clip one’s wings – To deprive one of power; For example: The manager has clipped his wings by sending him there.
  • To cut one short – To criticize one; For example: She cut him short being tired of listening to his boring story.
  • To cut teeth – To gain experience of something for the first time; For example: Finally you cut your teeth in this business.
  • To explore every avenue – To try every opportunity; For example: The police has explored every avenue in search of those culprits.
  • To gather roses only – To seek all enjoyments of life; For example: For last few weeks, she is gathering roses only.
  • To get into hot water – To get into trouble; For example: Manohar gets into hot water without doing anything.
  • To get one’s own back – To get one’s revenge; For example: He will get his own back on you someday.
  • To get wind – Come to know about something secret or private; For example: The rival gang can not be allowed to get wind of our arrangements.
  • To get cold feet – Fear; For example: When they saw the masked man, they got cold feet.
  • To give a piece of mind – To reprimand; For example: His noise made me give him a piece of mind.
  • To give oneself airs – Behave arrogantly; For example: He gives himself airs after becoming rich from nowhere.
  • To give vent to – To express a feeling, especially anger, strongly; For example: His father gave vent to his nuisance.
  • To have something up one’s sleeve – Having a secret plan; For example: We have a few tricks up our sleeve.
  • To his heart’s content – As much as he wanted to; For example: The dog played in the pond to his heart’s content.
  • To have too many iron in the fire – To get engage in too many enterprises at the same time; For example: Gabriel resigned from the job as he had too many irons in the fire.
  • To heart’s content – satisfaction; For example: The hungry ate to their to heart’s content.
  • To hit below the belt – To attack unfairly; For example: His criticism hit below the belt.
  • To hit the jackpot – To make money quickly; For example: Sonu hit the jackpot on the lottery.
  • To look down one’s nose – To regard with contempt; For example: The rich man looks down his nose at the homeless beggar.
  • To miss the bus – To miss an opportunity; For example: He just missed the bus due to his arrogance.
  • To speak one’s mind – To be frank and honest; For example: You can speak your mind before me.
  • To lose ground – To become less popular; For example: The terrorists seemed to lose ground before the army.
  • To make a mountain of a molehill – To give great importance to little things; For example: You are making a mountain of a molehill by raising such little issues.
  • To make one’s blood boil – To make somebody furious; For example: Your comment has made my blood boil.
  • To make things done – To manage; For example: Sam can go to any extent to make things done.
  • To move heaven and earth – to try everything possible; For example: I decided to move heaven and earth to finish the project on time.
  • To keep in abeyance – In a state of suspension; For example: They said that they will hold the matter in abeyance till any response from you.
  • To be in a fix – In a difficult situation; For example: Mahendra was really in a fix when he missed the train.
  • To paddle one’s own canoe – Depend on oneself; For example: He likes to paddle his own canoe.
  • To pass away – Die; For example: His uncle has passed away.
  • To pay off old scores – To refund old dues; For example: Jerry pays off old scores to Tom.
  • To play ducks and drakes – To use recklessly; For example: Don’t play ducks and drakes of these money again.
  • To play second fiddle – Take a subordinate role; For example: I am not going to play second fiddle to his political career.
  • To put a spoke in one’s wheel – To prevent somebody from putting their plan into action; For example: Rajiv wins the match by putting a spoke in their wheel.
  • To smell a rat – To suspect a trick / To be suspicious- When his envious competitor extended a hand of friendship, he smelt a rat.
  • To set the Thames on fire – Do a heroic deed; For example: I believe that he will never set the Thames on fire.
  • To take a back seat – To become less important or to give up control over things; For example: I think I need to take a back seat and think about the whole plan.
  • To take French leave – Absenting oneself without permission; For example: Sweta took French leave for a week.
  • To take into account – To consider; For example: Juhi hoped that he would take into account the incident.
  • To take someone for a ride – To deceive (cheat); For example: I finally realize that I am taken for a ride when he doesn’t return my portable music player.
  • To take the bull by the horns- To face danger boldly; For example: Aswin has decided to take the bull by the horns.
  • To the backbone – Thoroughly; For example: The boy is wicked to the backbone.
  • To the contrary- To the opposite; For example: Come on Monday unless I write to the contrary.
  • To throw a fit- Express extreme anger; For example: The shopkeeper throws a fit to his helper.
  • To throw dust in one’s eye – To deceive; For example: Arvind threw dust in the eyes of the kidnapper and frees himself.
  • To toe the line – To follow the lead; For example: They denied to toe the line.
  • To be down to earth – To be realistic; For example: Madhav is very realistic and down to earth.
  • To shun evil company – To avoid or give up a bad company; For example: I advised Nitin to shun evil company.
  • To be in a quandary – In a confusing situation; For example: I am in a quandary about going to Goa or Vizag.
  • Take with a grain of salt – To listen to something with considerable doubt; For example: I read the book, but I took it with a grain of salt.
  • To keep under wraps – Secret; For example: He seems to keep the truth under wraps.
  • To give the devil his due – To encourage even to the enemy; For example: Though we’re not friends, I gave the devil his due.
  • To make up one’s mind – To decide what to do; For example: You have to make up your mind quickly.
  • To win laurels – To earn great prestige; For example: Jamal was obsessed with winning laurels.
  • To cut the Gordian knot – To perform a difficult task; For example: He cuts the Gordian knot and saves us.
  • Throw cold water – Discourage; For example: He threw cold water on my excitement by reminding my earlier faults.
  • Throw up cards – To confess defeat; For example: They are so arrogant not to throw up cards.
  • Told to fight his own battles himself – To be able to win an argument indispensably; For example: Rohit was told to fight his own battles himself when he took important decisions without consulting the family.
  • Touch and go – Uncertain; For example: This is a touch and go issue.
  • Token strike – Short strike held as warning; For example: The workers stopped working by the day as a token strike.
  • Too fond of one’s voice – To like talking without wanting to listen to other people; For example: He is too fond of his voice
  • Take to one’s heels- Run away; For example: The trouble makers took to their heels when they saw the police coming.
  • Tooth and nail – With full power; For example: The Opposition opposed the bill tooth and nail.
  • Turn a deaf ear to – Disregard; For example: The authorities have turned a deaf ear to all our requests.
  • Turn up one’s nose at – To reject; For example: I offered him a good designation, but he turned his nose up and walked away.

U

  • Under a cloud – Under suspicion; For example: The truth will remain under a cloud until he recovers.
  • Under one’s thumb – Under her control; For example: She’s got him under her thumb.
  • Under the weather – Sick; For example: I am feeling under the weather.
  • Up and doing – Active; For example: Be up and doing to succeed in life.
  • Up in arms – To be angry; For example: We are up in arms over the new policy.
  • Ups and downs – Rise and fall; For example: There are ups and downs in human life.
  • Up to the mark – According to the required standard; For example: My grammar is quite up to the mark.

V

  • Vexed question – Controversial issue; For example: We raised the vexed question of the poor people.
  • Vote with one’s feet – Showing your disapproval; For example: They voted with their feet in an irresistible move towards freedom.

W

  • Walk the tight rope- Be very cautious; For example: A mountaineer has to walk the tight rope as a small slip can prove to be fatal.
  • Washed one’s hand – Avoid responsibility; For example: He washed his hand of the matter.
  • Watching grass grow – Very boring; For example: Ranbir fell asleep during the match as watching sports is like watching grass grow to him.
  • Water under the bridge – Something that happened in the past and is now forgotten or no longer important; For example: Last month’s massacre is water under the bridge now.
  • Weal and woe – Joy and sorrow; For example: Human life is woven with weal and woe.
  • Wear and tear – Damage; For example: They will save surely wear and tear on the captain.
  • Wear a heart on sleeves – Express feelings openly; For example: I always wear a heart on sleeves when Rukmini is there in front of me.
  • Well off – Rich; For example: He is well off and can help you.
  • Wet behind the ears – Young and without experience; For example: He is still wet behind the ears.
  • Wet one’s whistle – To have a drink / Moistens one’s throat; For example: let’s wet our whistle.
  • What with – Partly with; For example: What with the weather and my bad leg I haven’t been out.
  • White elephants – Expensive; For example: The high officials proved to be white elephants.
  • Wide of the mark – Irrelevant / Not accurate / Inadequate / Far from true; For example: Your statement is wide of the mark.
  • Wild goose chase – Useless search / Unprofitable adventure; For example: The hoaxer sent the police on a wild goose chase.
  • With a view to – With the purpose of; For example: He went to the town with a view to get a job.
  • With a grain of salt – Believing cautiously; For example: I take the news report with a grain of salt.
  • With one voice – Unanimously; For example: All workers strike down the factory with one voice.
  • With open arms- Enthusiastically, warmly, happily; For example: Our PM is received with open arms wherever he goes.
  • Without rhyme or reason – Without any reason; For example: He insulted me without rhyme or reason.
  • Work against the clock- To try to do something in a very limited amount of time; For example: I’d better start doing this early rather than work against the clock to meet the deadline.

Y

  • Yeoman’s service – Great humane service; For example: He did yeoman’s service to the needy.

Z

  • Zenith of one’s power- Top of one’s power; For example: Hitler reached the zenith of his power.

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