Idioms and Phrases Capsule - PDF

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       Here given 280 Idioms & phrases with their meaning. These phrases are picked from previous exam papers. It will help you improve your English language as well as descriptive paper score.
Idioms and Phrases Capsule

Phrases with Meaning

1) A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush- Having something that is certain is much better than taking a risk for more, because chances are you might losing everything.
2) A blessing in disguise- Something good that isn’t recognized by first
3) Bull in china shop- One who causes damage
4) A chip on your shoulder- Being upset for something that happened in the past
5) A damp squib- Complete failure
6) A dime A dozen- Anything that is common and easy to get
7) A doubting Thomas- A skeptic who needs physical or personal evidence in order to believe something
8) A drop in the bucket- A very small part of something big or whole
9) A fool and his money are easily parted- It’s easy for a foolish person to lose his/ her money
10) A gentleman at large- An unreliable person
11) A green horn- Inexperienced
12) A house divided against itself cannot stand- Everyone involved must unify and function together or it will not work out.
13) A leopard can’t change his spots- You cannot change who you are
14) A lost cause- A hopeless case, a person or situation having no hope of positive change.
15) A man of straw- A weak person
16) A mare’s nest- A false invention
17) A penny saved is a penny earned- By not spending money, you are saving money (little by little)
18) A picture paints a thousand words- A visual presentation is far more descriptive than words
19) A piece of cake- A task that can be accomplished very easily
20) A slap on the wrist- A very mild punishment
21) A stalking horse- Pretence
22) A steal- Very inexpensive, a bargain
23) A taste of your own medicine- When you are mistreated the same way you mistreat others
24) A toss-up- A result hat is still unclear and can go either way
25) A wolf in sheep’s clothing- A dangerous person pretending harmless
26) ABC: Very common knowledge about to- Ready to, just going to
27) Above all- Mainly, especially
28) Above board- Fair and honest
29) According to- In the order of; on the authority of
30) Actions speak louder than words- It’s better to actually do something than hust talk about it
31) Add fuel to the fire- Whenever something is done to make a bad situation even worse than it is
32) Against the clock- Rushed and short on time
33) All (day, week, month, year) long- The entire day, week, month, year
34) All along- All the time, from the beginning (without change)
35) All and Sundry- Without making any distinction
36) All bark and no bite- When someone is threatening and/ or aggressive but not willing to engage in a fight
37) All greek to me- Meaningless and incomprehensible like someone who cannot read, speak, or
38) All in all- Considering everything
39) All in the same boat- When everyone is facing the same challenges
40) All of a sudden- Suddenly, without warning (All at once)
41) All right- Acceptable, fine; yes, okay
42) Alpha and omega- First and last letter of Greek alphabet, means beginning and end
43) An arm and a leg- Very expensive, A large amount of money
44) An axe to grind- To have a dispute with someone
45) An eye wash- A pretence
46) An iron hand- By force
47) Apple to my eye- Someone who is cherished above all others
48) As a matter of fact- Really, actually (also: as to)
49) As for- Regarding, concerning (also: as to)
50) As high as a kite- Anything that is high up in the sky
51) As soon as- Just after, when
52) As usual- as is the general case, as is typical
53) At all- To any degree (also: in the least)
54) At heart- Basically, fundamentally
55) At last- Finally, after a long time
56) At least- A minimum of, no fewer (or less) than
57) At odds- In dispute
58) At sixes and seven- Persons who are having different opinions
59) At the drop of a hat- Willing to do something immediately
60) Back and call- At the service
61) Back and forth- In a backward and forward motion
62) Back seat driver- People who criticize from the sidelines, much like someone giving unwanted advice
63) Back to square one- Having to start all over again
64) Back to the drawing board- When an attempt fails and it’s time to start all over
65) Bag and baggage- with all goods
66) Baker’s dozen- Thirteen
67) Bank on- Depend on, count on
68) Barking up the wrong tree- A mistake made in something you are trying to achieve
69) Bated breath- In anxiety, expectancy
70) Beat a dead horse- To force an issue that has already ended
71) Beating around the bash- Avoiding the main topic, not speaking directly about the issue
72) Bend over backwards- Do whatever it takes to help. Willing to do anything
73) Between a Rock and a Hard place- Stuck between two very bad options
74) Between Scylla and Charybdis- Choice between two unpleasant alternatives
75) Between the cup and the lips- On the point of achievement
76) Bite off more than you can chew- To take on a task that is a way to big
77) Bite your tongue- To avoid talking
78) Black and white- In writing
79) Blood is thicker than water- The family bond is closer than anything else
80) Blow hot and cold- Having no stand, shows favour at one time and unfavour at another
81) Blue moon- A rare event or occurrence
82) Body and soul- Entirely
83) Break a leg- A superstitious way to say ‘Good Luck’ without saying ‘Good Luck’,
84) Buy a lemon- To purchase a vehicle that constantly gives problems or stops running after you drive it
85) By & by- Gradually
86) By all means- Certainly, definitely, naturally (also: of course); using any possible way or method
87) By far- By a great margin, clearly
88) By fits and starts- Irregularly
89) By heart- By memorizing
90) By hook or by crook- By any means
91) By leaps and bound- speedily
92) By oneself- Alone, without assistance
93) By the way- Incidentally
94) Call a spade a spade- Straight talks
95) Can’t cut the mustard- Someone who isn’t adequate enough to compete or participate
96) Cast iron stomach- Someone who has no problems, complications or ill effects with eating anything
97) Cats and bull story- Untrue story
98) Cats and dogs- Heavy rain
99) Charley horse- stiffness in the leg/ A leg cramp
100) Chew someone out- Verbally scold someone
101) Chip on his shoulder- Angry today about something that occurred in the past
102) Chow down- To eat
103) Clear- cut- Clearly stated, definite, apparent
104) Close but no cigar- To be near and almost accomplish a goal, but fall short
105) Close call- A situation involving a narrow escape from danger
106) Cock and bull story- An unbelievable tale, untrue story
107) Come hell or high water- Any difficult situation or obstacle
108) Crack someone up- To make someone laugh
109) Cross your fingers- To hope that something happens the way you want it to
110) Cry wolf- Intentionally raise a false alarm
111) Cup of joe- A cup of coffee
112) Curtain lecture- A reproof by wife to her husband
113) Cut and dried- Ready made form
114) Cut to the chase- Leave out all the unnecessary details and just get to the point
115) Dark horse- One who was previously unknown and is now prominent
116) Day in and day out- Continuously, constantly
117) Dead Ringer- 100 % identical, a duplicate
118) Devil’s advocate- Someone who takes a position for the sake of argument without believing in that
119) Dog days of summer- The hottest day of the summer season
120) Don’t count your chickens before they hatch- Don’t rely on it until you sure of it
121) Don’t look a gift horse in the month- When someone gives you a gift, don’t be ungrateful
122) Don’t pull all your eggs in one basket- Do not pull all your resources in one possibility
123) Doozy- Something outstanding
124) Down to the wire- Something that ends at the last minute or last few seconds
125) Drastic times call for drastic measures- When you are extremely desperate you need to take extremely desperate actions
126) Drink like a fish- To drink very heavily, drinking anything
127) Dry run- Rehearsal
128) Egg on- To urge somebody
129) Eighty six- A certain item is no longer available. Or this idiom can also mean, to throw away
130) Elvis has left the building- The show has come to an end. It’s all over
131) Ethnic cleansing- Killing of a certain ethnic or religious group on a massive scale
132) Ever and anon- Now and then
133) Every cloud has a silver lining- Be optimistic, even difficult times will lead to better days
134) Every other (one)- Every second (one), alternate (ones)
135) Everything but the kitchen sink- Almost everything and anything has been included
136) Excuse my French- Please forgive me for cussing
137) Fabian policy- Policy of delaying decisions
138) Face-to-face- Direct, personal; directly, personally (written without hyphens)
139) Fair and wide- Equal opportunity to all
140) Far and wide- Every where
141) Few and far between- Not frequent, unusual, rare
142) Field day- An enjoyable day or circumstance
143) Fifty- fifty- Divided into two equal parts
144) Finding your feet- To become more comfortable in whatever you are doing
145) Finger licking good- To become more comfortable in whatever you are doing
146) Fire and brimstone- A very tasty food or meal
147) Fire and fury- Fearful penalties
148) First and foremost- Extreme enthusiasm
149) Fishy: doubtful- Highest priority
150) Fixed in your ways- Not willing or wanting to change from your normal way of doing something
151) Flash in the pan- Something that shows potential or looks promising in the beginning but fails to deliver
152) Flea market- A swap meet. A place where people gather to buy and sell inexpensive goods
153) Flesh and blood- This idiom can mean living material of which people are made of, or it can refer to human nature
154) Flip the bird- To raise your middle finger at someone
155) Foam at the mouth- To be enraged and show it
156) Fools’ Gold- Iron pyrites, a worthless rock that resembles real gold
157) Foot the bill- Bear expenses
158) For good- Permanently, forever
159) For once- This one time, for only one time
160) For sure- Without doubt (also: for certain)
161) For the time being- Temporarily (also: for now)
162) Free and easy- Natural and simple
163) French kiss- An open mouth kiss where tongues touch
164) From now on- From this time into the future
165) From rags to riches- To go from very poor to being very wealthy
166) Fuddy- duddy- An old-fashioned and foolish type of person
167) Full monty- This idiom can mean either, “The whole thing” or “Completely nude”
168) Funny farm- A mental institutional facility
169) Gall and wormwood- Source of irritation
170) Get down to brass tacks- To become serious about something
171) Get over it- To move beyond something that is bothering you
172) Get up on the wrong side of the bed- Someone who is having a horrible day
173) Get your walking papers- Get fired from the job
174) Gird up the loin- To be ready
175) Give and take- Compromise, cooperation between people
176) Give him the slip- To get away from, to escape
177) Give in- Surrender
178) Go down like a lead balloon- To be received badly by an audience
179) Go for broke- To gamble everything you have
180) Go out on a limb- Put yourself in a tough position in order to support someone/ something
181) Go the extra mile- Going above and beyond whatever is required for the task at hand
182) Good Samaritan- Someone who helps others when they are in need, with no discussion for
183) Graveyard shift- Working hours from about 12:00 am to 8.00
184) Great minds think alike- Intelligent people think like each other
185) Green room- The waiting room, especially for those who are about to go on a TV or radio show
186) Gut feeling- A personal intuition you get, especially when feel something may not be right
187) Had better- Should, ought to, be advisable to
188) Hand a gloves- Very intimate friends
189) Hard and fast- Certain
190) Hard of hearing- Partially deaf, not able to hear well
191) Haste makes waste- Quickly doing things results in a poor ending
192) Hat Trick- When one player scores three goals in the same hockey game.
193) Haughty and naughty- Arrogant and naughty
194) Have an axe to grind- To have a dispute with someone
195) Have got- To have, to possess
196) Have got to- Must (also: have to)
197) He lost his head- Angry and overcome by emotions
198) Head and shoulder- Superior
199) Head over heels- Very excited and/ or joyful, especially when in love
200) Heart and soul- With full devotion
201) Hell in a hand basket- Deteriorating and headed for complete disaster
202) Helter Shelter-Here and there
203) Herculean task- A tedious job
204) High five- Slapping palms above each others heads as celebration gesture
205) High on the Hog- Living in luxury
206) Hit below the belt- Contrary the principles of fairness
207) Hit the books- To study, especially for a test or exam
208) Hit the hay- Go to bed or go to sleep
209) Hit the nail on the head- Do something exactly right or say something exactly right
210) Hit the sack- Go to bed or go to sleep
211) Hither and thither- Here and there
212) Hocus Pocus- In general, a term used in magic or trickery
213) Hold your horses- Be patient
214) Hole and corner policy- A secret policy for an evil purpose
215) Hornet’s nest- Raise controversy
216) Hue and cry- Great noise
217) Hush money- A bribe
218) Icing on the cake- When you already have it good and get something on top of what you already have
219) Idle hands are the devil’s tools- You are more likely to get in trouble if you have nothing to do
220) If it’s not one thing, it’s another- When one thing goes wrong, then another, and another…
221) Ill at ease- Uncomfortable or worried in a situation
222) In a hurry- Hurried, rushed (also: in a rush)
223) In case- In order to be prepared if the meaning is in order to be prepared if something happens
224) In hand- Under firm control, well managed
225) In like Flynn- To be easily successful, especially when sexual or romantic
226) In no time- Very quickly, rapidly
227) In the bag- To have something secured
228) In the buff- Nude
229) In the heat of the moment- Overwhelmed by what is happening in the moment
230) In the long run- Eventually, after a long period of time
231) In the worst way- Very much, greatly
232) In time to- Before the time necessary to do something
233) In touch- Having contact
234) In vain- Useless, without the desired result
235) In your face- An aggressive and bold confrontation
236) Ins and outs- Full detail
237) Inside out- With the inside facing the outside
238) Intents and purposes- Practically
239) It figures- It seems likely, reasonable, or typical
240) It takes two to tango- A two person conflict where both people are at fault
241) It’s a small world- You frequently see the same people in different places
242) It anyone’s call- A competition where the outcome is difficult to judge or predict
243) Ivory tower- Imaginary world
244) Ivy league- Since 1954 the Ivy league has been the following universities: Columbia, Brown, Cornell
245) Jaywalk- Crossing the street (from the middle) without using the crosswalk
246) Joshing me- Tricking me
247) Keep an eye on him- You should carefully watch him. Keep an eye on
248) Keep body and soul together- To earn a sufficient amount of money in order to keep yourself alive
249) Keep your chin up- To remain joyful in a tough situation
250) Kick the bucket- Die
251) Kith and kin- Blood relatives
252) Kitty-corner- Diagonally across. Sometimes called Catty- Corner as well
253) Knock on Wood- Knuckle tapping on wood in order to avoid some bad luck
254) Know the ropes- To understand the details
255) Last but not least- An introduction phrase to let the audience know that the last person mentioned is also very important
256) Last straw- The final event in a series of unacceptable actions
257) Latin and Greek- Unable to understand
258) Leave no stone unturned- Make all possible efforts
259) Lend me your ear- To politely ask for someone’s full attention
260) Length and breadth- All over
261) Let along- and certainly not (also: not to mention, to say nothing of)
262) Let the cat out of the bag- To share a secret that wasn’t suppose to be shared
263) Level playing field- A fair competition where no side has an advantage
264) Life and soul- Main support
265) Like a chicken and its head cut off- To act in a frenzied manner
266) Liquor someone up- To get someone drunk
267) Little by little- Gradually, slowly (also: step by step)
268) Live-wire- Energetic
269) Loaves and fish- Material interests
270) Lock and key- In safe place
271) Long in the tooth- Old people (or horses)
272) Loose cannon- Someone who is unpredictable and can cause damage if not kept in check
273) Make no bones about- To state a fact so there are no doubts or objections
274) Method to my madness- Strange or crazy actions that appear meaningless but in the end are done for a good reason
275) Might and main- With all enthusiasm
276) Milk and water- Weak
277) More or less- Approximately, almost, somewhat, to a certain degree
278) Mumbo Jumbo- Nonsense or meaningless speech
280) Mum’s the word- To keep quiet, To say nothing
280) Narrow-minded- Not willing to accept the ideas of others

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