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Level 382

British Idiomatic Expressions


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As [a rule of thumb] you should cook 200 grams per person.
A way of calculating something which is not exact but which will help you to be correct enough.
Without giving it too much thought or without precise knowledge.
[Off the top of my head] I'd say it'll cost about £1000.
To hide or ignore something.
We can't just [sweep this incident under the carpet], we must take action.
Not to hold back in criticising.
He did[n't pull his punches] at the meeting.
Charles and David [don't see eye to eye] about the changes proposed.
To be in agreement/[not= disagreement].
To make the wrong choice; to ask the wrong person; to follow the wrong course.
If you ask Peter about cars, you're [barking up the wrong tree], he knows nothing about cars.
Someone who has many skills or who does many different jobs.
Sid is [a Jack of all trades], he can do any kind of DIY work.
Easily available.
The internet puts the world [at your fingertips].
To keep asking someone to do something which they never do.
I've been asking for years when will they build the new shower block. I'm [banging my head against a brick wall].
Confronted with equally unpleasant alternatives and few or no opportunities to evade or circumvent them.
He's [between a rock and a hard place], he will have to sell his house or go to prison if he can't pay his debts.
In the same situation; having the same problem.
John: Unfortunately I have to work New Year's Eve. Susan: I'm [in the same boat].
To be unable to decide about something.
The government is [in two minds] about the new high speed rail link.
Stay away from the boss today, he's [like a bear with a sore head]
To be in a bad mood which causes you to treat other people badly and complain a lot.
Knowledgeable; competent; attentive.
I'd ask Philip, he's [on the ball] about these matters.
Involved in something that is beyond one's capabilities.
I think the new head of department is [out of his depth].
Smooth or easy progress.
The hardest part of the project is done, the rest should [be plain sailing].
If you earn more money then you'll end up paying more tax. It's a case of [swings and roundabouts]
Something that you say to describe a situation in which there are as many advantages as there are problems.
Young and inexperienced.
I wouldn't ask Betty to do it, she's still [wet behind the ears].
To decide or agree to do more than one can finally accomplish.
I shouldn't have accepted the project. I think I've [bitten off more than I can chew].
To repay generosity or kindness with ingratitude and injury.
I wouldn't criticise him, he's your best customer. You don't want [to bite the hand that feeds you].
To expose a wrongdoing in the hope of bringing it to a halt.
He [blew the whistle] on the company as it was over charging for its services.
To have a different opinion from one previously expressed.
At first I thought he wasn't very friendly, but I've [changed my mind].
[Don't [count your chickens before they hatch], we might not win the contract.]
To plan how to utilize good results of something before those results have occurred.
[He keeps asking the manager about a promotion, when will he realise he's [flogging a dead horse]
To insist on talking about something that no one is interested in, or that has already been thoroughly discussed.
Start the proceedings.
Ok, let's [get the ball rolling.] Peter can you tell us the sales figures?
To suddenly become too frightened to do something you had planned to do.
He was going to ask her to marry him, yesterday but he [got cold feet].
He [got off on the wrong foot] with the new head of HR. He thought she was a temp.
To start something badly/to make a bad first impression.
Two people like each other very much and become friends very quickly.
I didn't think Tim and John would make a good team but they [get on like a house on fire].
To lose control of the situation.
Things [got a bit out of hand] at the Christmas party.
To express one's hidden feelings
I need to speak to you, I've got a few things to [get off my chest].
To reveal a plan or strategy.
We are organising a surprise party for Paul. Don't [give the game away].
[I tried to speak with Angela, but she kept [giving me the cold shoulder].]
To behave towards someone in a way that is not at all friendly, sometimes for reasons that this person does not understand.
To become proud or conceited.
He has won one race, he's letting it [go to his head]. He thinks he's the world's best now.
[I've my [back against the wall.] I'll have to pay him back.]
to have very serious problems which limit the ways in which you can act
All of the past achievements or failures of a person or organization.
We can trust them to do a good job. They have a [good track record].
To be aggressively sensitive about a particular thing or bear a grudge.
He has [a chip on his shoulder] when it comes questioning his knowledge about cars.
A fair situation.
It would be better if we [had a level playing field], everyone would have an equal chance.
From an authoritative or dependable source.
I know he is leaving. I [heard it from the horse's mouth].
To deal someone an unfair blow
I think his criticism of Susan was [below the belt].
When he said the problems were due to bad planning he [hit the nail on the head].
To be exactly right/to do exactly the right thing.
To be courageous, or optimistic in the face of difficulty.
We need [to keep our chin's up.] Things will get better.
To devote attention to watching or listening for clues as to what is going to happen.
We need [to keep our ears to the ground] and try to find out what is happening.
Be alert.
A good sales manager has [to keep on his toes].
To manage to survive, especially financially.
The company is struggling [to keep its head above water].
To regret something.
I'm [kicking myself] for forgetting about the concert.
To have a specific knowledge in a certain domain.
Robert will help you settle in, he [knows the ropes].
To turn a minor issue into a major issue.
Ok, he was a little late, don't [make a mountain out of a molehill].
At a very fast rate.
He's making money [hand over fist].
Be serious about what they say or do.
The teacher said if we didn't stop talking we would be in detention and I could tell she [meant business].
Change the rules in an unfair way.
It's difficult to know what you want me to do if you keep [moving the goalposts].
Don't worry they [don't have a leg to stand on.] You'll win the case.
Not to have a case/not to have a valid argument.
To pat someone on the back
congratulate/praise somebody
To show support, respect or loyalty while really holding the opposite opinion.
If you want to progress in this company you have [to pay lip service to the boss].
To improvise.
I haven't booked a hotel, I'll [play it by ear] when I get there.
To be joking/to play a hoax.
[Don't believe him! He's [pulling your leg.*]
To deceive someone.
He's trying [to pull the wool over my eyes].
To make everything dependant on one thing.
When investing money it isn't a good idea [to put all your eggs in one basket].
To identify the exact reason for something.
Sally [put her finger on] the problem and quickly found a solution.
To suspend doing something.
She put her career [on the back burner] after the birth of her son.
To assert or insist on something very strongly.
I have to do my homework tonight. My Dad has [put his foot down].
I really [put my foot in it] when I asked her when the baby was due for.
To make a social blunder/to say something that makes the situation worse.
To think long and hard about something.
I [racked my brain] trying to remember where I had seen her before.
To be in a risky or dangerous situation
Stop criticising every decision I make! You're [skating on thin ice].
To offend someone.
Sorry, I didn't mean [to step on your toes] by speaking to the boss before speaking to you.
Can you take Anthony [under your wing,] it's his first day.
To help and/or protect someone.
[I take everything she says [with a pinch of salt]
Not to believe something entirely because you think it to be exaggerated or untrue.
When she said she couldn't come to the meeting it really [threw the spanner in the works].
To do something to prevent a plan or activity from succeeding/sabotage.
to admit defeat.
She gives up too easily. She'll [throw in the towel] within a few weeks.
You won't have any trouble from Bill, he always [toes the line].
To do what you are expected to do/to conform.
To deliberately ignore something.
He chose [to turn a blind eye] when he saw him steal a pen from his desk.
To pretend to be serious but to be joking.
He told me he was leaving the company and I believed him, I didn't know he was saying it [tongue-in-cheek].
If you help me, I'll help you
He clearly told me that if [I scratched his back he'd scratch mine].
Trying to stop something from happening after it has already happened.
We were burgled last week, we've now decided to install a burglar alarm, I know it's [shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted].