Idioms and Phrases

Idioms and Phrases with Meanings and Examples details

A phrase is a group of words in English grammatical part which has a figurative meaning. It may short or long but cannot include subject and object. So it cannot give a complete meaning.

What is a Phrase?

Phrases and idioms are English ornaments. To understand English Idioms well, and to use them properly, it’s important. In Idioms, the literary meaning is not found in the meaning of the word, therefore it must be mastered by memorizing them. Due to differences in the meaning of words, the Idioms must be kept in mind exactly.


Phrase Example

Phrases:                        Meaning

At home:                      Efficient

Blue blood:                   Elite

Dead letter:                  Invalid

Give a hand:                 Help

Greek to:                      Unknown

An idiom is a phrase but it is dissimilar from other phrases in that you can’t realize its meaning from the words it is prepared from.

Example of Idioms and Phrases with Details

Here you will get details meaning of phrase and idioms examples. That will enrich your English. The phrase makes a sentence worthwhile.

ABC:                                                          Primary knowledge

He not know even the ABC of music.


Above all                                                   more than anything else

Above all, be careful of your health.

Above board:                                             beyond doubt

His activities are open and above board.

Achilles’ heel                                            week point

Hankering for votes is the Achilles’ heel of the so-called leaders of our country.

After all:                                                    in spite of everything

After all, he is a patriot.

All at once:                                                 suddenly

All at once a tiger comes out of the forest.

All on (of) a sudden:                                suddenly

All on (of) a sudden a tiger came out of the bush.

All but:                                                       nearly

The poor villagers are all but ruined.

All in all                                                     supreme

Mr. Sen is all in all in his office.

Apple of discord                                       matter of dispute

The paternal property has become an apple of discord between the three brothers and two sisters.

As if:                                                           as it would be

She swims so beautifully as if she is the water-fairy.

As it were:                                                 like

The moon is, as it were, the beauty of the night.

As usual:                                                     habitually

He is late as usual.

At a loss:                                                    puzzled

He was at a loss and didn’t know what to do.

At all                                                         primarily

He doesn’t know French at all.

At all events:                                              in all cases

I shall stand by him at all events.

At a low ebb:                                             declining

His fame is at a low ebb now.

At arm’s length                                         at a distance

Try to keep the bad girls at arm’s length.

At a stretch:                                               without a break

He can run ten miles at a stretch.

At bay:                                                       in a tight corner

The tiger was at bay in the bush.

At one’s finger ends:                                 ready at hand

All these facts are at his fingers end.

At daggers drawn:                                     at enmity

The two brothers at daggers drawn now.

At home:                                                    skilled, comfortable

He is at home in Mathematics.

At large:                                                    free

The anti-socials are still at large.

At last:                                                      in the long run

I got my missing note at last.

At least:                                                      at the lowest

At least one hundred girls will come to school today.

At one’s wit’s end:                                     puzzled

He was at one’s wit’s end and didn’t know what to do.

At random:                                                 without any aim

He hit the basketball at random.

At sixes and sevens                                   scattered

All the books on the table were at sixes and sevens.

At stake:                                                     in danger

His life is at stake today.

At one’s back and call:                               obedient

He is always at my beck and call.

At one’s own sweet will:                           according to his wishes

Her sister still does it at his own sweet will.

Bad blood:                                                 ill feeling

Now there is bad blood between two brothers.

Bag and baggage:                                     with all belongings

He left the place bag and baggage.

Beat about the bush:                                 talk irrelevantly

Write the right thing without beating about the bush.

Bed of roses:                                               comfortable condition

Life is not a bed of roses.

Birds of a feather:                                       persons of similar nature

Birds of a feather flock together.

Beat black and blue:                                   beat severely

They beat the thief black and blue.

Black sheep:                                                the person of bad character

He is a black sheep in his family.

Beggar description:                                   cannot be the description

The beauty of Taj baggers description.

By all means                                               in all possible ways

Try to do it by all means.

By and by                                                   soon

He will come here by and by.

By the bye                                                  in the course of talking

By the by I came to know that he got a private job.

By chance                                                   by accident

I met him on the way by chance.

By fits and starts                                        irregularly

He works by fits and starts.

By no means                                              in no way

I shall by no means call on him.

By far                                                          in all respects

He is by far the best intelligent boy in the class.

By leaps and bounds                                very rapidly

The cost of rice in India is increasing by leaps and bounds.

By and large                                               mostly

People in our country are by and large educated.

Bid fair                                                        have the possibility of prospering

He bids fair to be a good doctor.

Big gun                                                        a leading man

He is a big gun of our locality.

Bird’s eye view                                             a rough idea

He took a bird’s eye view of the flood-stricken area from an airplane.

The bone of contention                                    matter of dispute

The paternal property is the bone of connection between the two brothers.

Book worm                                                  one who always reads books only

Don’t be a book worm.

Bosom friend                                               intimate friend

Maisha is my bosom friend.

Bring to light                                                make open

At least all the facts were brought to light.

Bring to book                                               punish

He should be brought to book for his misconduct.

Build castles in the air                                  indulge in idle vision

Build castles in the air is a waste of time.

Burning question                                       matter of strong debate

The problem of dowry system is the burning question of the day.

Breathe one’s last                                      die

The old man breathes his last on Monday last.

Call to mind                                               remember

I cannot call to mind your name.

Call in question                                          doubt

No one can call his honesty in question.

Call a spade                                               to speak plainly

I have no hesitation to call a spade.

Carry the day                                             win victory

Amal, the best player in his school, carried the day in the annual sports.

Catch red-handed                                     catch with the stolen articles

The thief was caught red-handed.

Cats and dogs                                            verb heavily

It was raining cats and dogs.

Chip of the old block                                a worthy son of a worthy father

Mr. S. P. Mukherjee is a chip off the old block.

Crying need                                               urgent need

Mass education is the crying need of every country.

Crocodile tears                                          pretended cry

He shed crocodile tears at our misery.

Come to light                                             become known

The main thief of the village come to light today.

Come off with flying colors:                      Win a victory

Our school team came off with flying colors

Curry favor                                                be favorite through flattery

He knows how to curry favour with officers.

Cut a sorry figure                                      make bad results

He cuts a sorry figure in the examination.

Cut to the quick                                        be hurt

I was cut to the quick by his word.

Dead against                                              bitterly against

I am dead against his proposal.

Dead of night                                             midnight

The robbers broke into the locker of the bank at dead of night.

Die in harness                                            die while in service

Dr. Sen die in harness.

Do yeoman’s service                                 render valuable service

Raja Rammohan Ray has done yeoman’s service to our country.

End in smoke                                             fail

All his planes ended in smoke.

Fall flat                                                       has no effect

My advice feels flat on him.

Fight shy                                                    avoid

Why do you fight shy of your teacher?

Fish out of water                                        in an uneasy situation

When he came to our house, I felt like a fish out of water.

Fish in troubled water                                take advantage of disturbed water

Maximum people nowadays made a lot of money by fishing in troubled water.

Far and wide                                               everywhere

His fame as a speaker spread far and wide.

Flesh and blood                                          human body

Flesh and blood cannot bear with such insults.

For good                                                     forever

He left the country for good.

From hand to mouth                                  live by hard labour

The poor man lives from hand to mouth.

From A to Z                                                 from the begging to end

The statement is true from A to Z.

Gala day                                                      a day of festivity

Eid is the gala day for every Muslim.

Get rid of                                                     be free from

Try to get rid of that rogue.

Gift of the gab                                           power of delivering the speech

Every advocate should have the gift of the gab.

Hard and fast                                             rigid

There is no such hard and fast.

Hard nut to crack                                      a difficult problem

The rapid growth of the population of a country is really a hard nut to crack.

Head and ears                                           complete

He is over head and ears in debt.

Heart and soul                                           with all energy

Try heart and soul and you will succeed.

Hold water                                                 be effective

Every student needs to hold water in every situation.

Hold good                                                 apply

This rule will not hold good here.

Hue and cry                                               a noise

The villager’s raised a hue and cry to see the thief.

Hush money                                              bribe money

He offered hush money for his job.

Household word                                        familiar name

Every student needs to know about the household word.

In a fix                                                        in a difficult position

We need to be strong in a fix.

In fine                                                         in conclusion

In fine, he declared his plan.

In full swing                                                 in full activity

The school is now in full swing.

In time                                                         in proper time

He reached the station in time.

In order to                                                  with the object of

He came here in order to meet my brother.

In lieu of                                                      instead of

Give this pen in lieu of that.

In black and white                                       in writing

Put down the statement in black and white.

In cold blood                                               without provocation

They committed this murder in cold blood.

In no time                                                    soon

He will finish the work in no time.

In the nick of time                                       in right time

The player team arrived in the nick of time in the field.

Ins and outs                                                full details

I know the ins and outs of the matter.

In vogue                                                      in fashion

This custom is not in vogue now.

In force                                                        in activity

This law is in force now.

In a nut shell                                                very briefly

Tell the story in a nut shell.

In a hurry                                                      very quickly

Don’t do the work in a hurry.

In the meantime                                           in the time between

Liza will come here to night. In the mean time, you should get her guest house.

In one’s teens                                              between thirteen and nineteen years of age

She is yet in her teens.

In the long run                                            ultimately

They will have to suffer in the long run.

In vain                                                          fruitless

All his attempts were in vain.

Irony of fate                                                 by bad luck

He could not succeed by irony of fate.

Lion’s share                                                  major part

He took the lion’s share of the profit.

Lame excuse                                                  the bad plea

Lame excuse is a bad habit.

Kith and kin                                                  near relatives

He has no good relation with his kith and kin.

Maiden speech                                             first speech

His maiden speech fell flat on the audience.

Man of letters                                               a scholar

Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee was a man of letters.

Man of straw                                                worthless man

Don’t be a man of straw.

Make both ends meet                                  live within means

He cannot make both ends meet with my little income.

Moot point                                                    an undecided matter

Dowry system is still a moot point in West Bengal.

Nip in the bud                                               destroy in the initial

All her hopes were nipped in the bud.

Null and void                                                 invalid

The deed has been null and void now.

Now and then                                                occasionally

He comes here now and then.

Of course                                                       certainly

Of course, you know what that means.

On the contrary                                             just opposite

He do not hate me; on the contrary, he loves me.

On the wane                                                  declining

His fame is on the wane now.

On the whole                                                 generally speaking

On the whole, his conduct is good.


Out of date                                                    out of fashion

The fashion is now out of date.

Out of the wood                                            free from danger

He is not yet out of the wood.

Out of doors                                                  out side

It is rather cold out of doors.

Out of sorts                                                    not well

He is out of sports.

Out of order                                                 defective

This car is out of orders.

Out of temper                                              angry

She is out of temper now.

Part and parcel                                             an integral part

Discipline is part and parcel of administration.

Pros and cons                                               details

You should consider the pros and cons of the system.

Rank and file                                                 common men

They should pay attention to the rank and file of the world.

Red letter day                                                memorable day

Every person has a red letter day in their life.

Red tape                                                        official formalities

Red tapism causes delay in official work.

Read between and lines                               understand and significance

Student should need to read between and lines of their books.

Round the clock                                          twenty-four hours

He is working round the clock.

Set free                                                        liberate

The prisoners were set free.

Slow coach                                                         one who is lazy

You cannot expect much from a slow coach like me.

Slip of the tongue                                              a slight mistake in speaking

This is the sleep of the tongue; don’t lay much stress on it.

Square meal                                                      full meal

He is too poor to have a square meal for his family.

Steer clear of                                                     avoid

You steer clear of evil company.

Stone’s throw                                                    within a very short distance

Our university is at a stone’s throw from our house.

Take to heart                                                     cut to the quick

She took his remark to heart.

Take to one’s heels                                           to run away

The robbers took to their heels to see the rab

Three R’s                                                          elementary education

Everybody in a country needs three R’s.

To and fro                                                        hither and thither

The thief runs to and fro seeing the police.

Take one to task                                              rebuke

You should take one to task if you negligence of duty.

Tooth and nail                                                 strongly

He fought tooth and nail against his enemy.


Through thick and thin                                      through all difficulties

Sita followed her husband through thick and thin.

To the backbone                                                to the core

The boy is wicked to the backbone.

To the contrary                                                 against what someone had said

In the court they said nothing to the contrary.

To the letter                                                       in all details

My little brother followed my advice to the letter.

Turn over a new leaf                                          begin a new phase of life

After their failure they turned over a new leaf.

Turn downs                                                        refuse

He turned down my proposal.

Up and doing                                                      active

Be up and doing and then one will succeed in life.

Up and downs                                                    rise and fall

There are ups and downs in one’s life.

White elephant                                                   a costly unprofitable undertaking

At last our math department proved to be a white elephant.

Weal and woe                                                     joy and sorrow

Human life is full of weal and wave.

Wild goose chase                                               useless pursuit

Do not waste time in wild and wave.

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