Friday, 11 July 2014

IDIOMS AND IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS --------THEIR MEANINGS AND USAGE 2 (5) (In continuation of last post)

                                                                                                                       (continued from last post)
An Idiom or idiomatic expression is a form of expression of words in their peculiar form as prevalent in a language.The words used have different meanings to their  literal meanings. An idiom has its metaphorical rather than literal meaning. The use of words in an idiom is fixed.These idioms undergo changes with the passage of time. 

The usage of idioms enhance the beauty of a language and give richness to it. Idioms usually  comprise of a few words but these words have their own meanings different from their literal meanings. Just as  the meaning of put is different from when some words are added  to it as --Put up, Put out , Put off  or To put up for a rainy day etc. These words are to be used as they are and these cannot be changed at all. The grammatical use of these words is fixed.For example  He has his own axe to grind cannot be changed to ground his axe or some other form. Idioms have their meanings in metaphorical sense rather than literal one. 

Idioms add richness to a language but their correct and appropriate use is necessary. Here is a list of idioms with their meanings and usage though it is illustrative and not exhaustive.

D, E, F, G, H, I, J.

Double Deal : ( To cheat , to act with a view to cheat) :

He is notorious for his double dealing. Beware of him.

Double Edged : ( An argument or action having effect both ways ) :

He is a very clever fellow. He has put forth a double edged argument and wants to gain both ways.

Double take : ( to act in a slow manner ) : 

The whole family is shocked over this incident. They will take a  double take to decide their further course of action.  

Die in harness : ( to die while working, to die in office or on duty  ) :

Our prime minister was very faithful to his duty so he died in harness.

Down the drain : ( something gone wasted ) : 

As the government has announced a change in the policy, his whole investment in the business has been down the drain. 

Down and Out : ( Very poor and needy person):

The government has framed many policies for upliftment of down and out families.

Doldrums : ( to be in difficulty or poor or bad condition) :

Paucity of funds has put all his schemes in doldrums.

Dog's life : ( bad days, miserable life) :

After separation from each other both husband and wife are leading a dog's life. 

Draw near : ( approach, to come nearer): 

The students have started burning midnight oil as their examinations are drawing near.

Ducks and Drakes : ( Wastage, to squander away ) :

After the death of their father the illiterate sons played ducks and drakes with his wealth.

Dillydally : (To be indecisive, uncertain to vacillate) : 

He is certain to lose the game due to his dillydally attitude towards the issue.

To die a do  a dog's death : To die an heroic death :

The traitors were imprisoned by the king and were kept there in chains to die dog's death. 

Extempore : ( to do a work without any prior preparation) :

The young boy delivered his speech extempore.

End in smoke : ( to end without any fruitful result) :

His all efforts to bring unity between the  two brothers ended in smoke.

End in draw : ( to end without any result) :

The hockey match played yesterday ended in a draw.

Every dog has its day : Every one has a chance of his success) :

Do not lose heart because every dog has its day. 

Eye opener : ( To come out with a startling results) :

A surprise visit of the boss to the office proved an eyeopener for him.

Eye for eye : ( to award punishment in the same  proportion as that of crime) :

Justice does not demand an eye for eye treatment to petty criminals. They need to be treated with mercy. 

Eye ball to eye ball : ( face to face ) :

Such issues cannot be discussed over telephone. There is a need to have an eyeball to eye ball discussion for it.

Eye candy : ( someone attractive in appearance) :

The sweet baby is her mother's  eye candy.

Every nook and corner : ( to  search everywhere ) :

The children searched every nook and corner to find out their ball but they did not find it.

Every  cloud has a silver lining : ( there is always a ray of hope in adversity ) :

Do not lose heart  be brave. Remember every cloud has a silver lining in it.

Etched in stone : ( very rigid and not possible to be changed) :

These rules are not etched in stone. These have been framed  by the committee itself and can  easily be modified.

Elbow room : ( enough space ) :

You better sell off the old items of furniture because it will provide elbow room for the new items.

Elbow grease : ( hard labour) : 

It needs enough money and elbow grease to run a business successfully these days.

Easy Peasy : ( very easy to perform ) :

 It is easy peasy. Just try  push this block lightly and it will go.

Easy come easy go : ( Money is spent in the same manner as it is earned) :

A gambler gets money but he loses or spends too lavishly because it is true that  easy come easy go.

Eat a crow ( to admit defeat or mistake ) :

He is very confident of his success. He will never eat a crow. 

Eat my hat ( to tell something with confidence) : 

That boy is always late in the class. I shall eat my hat if he comes in time today.

Eat  a humble pie : ( to feel ashamed for a deed or action) :

Do not do anything for which you have to eat  a humble pie later.

Eat like a bird : ( to eat  in a little quantity) :

The child was eating like a bird. His mother helped him to finish his meals.

Eat like a pig : ( to observe bad table manners while eating) :

It does not look nice if one eats like a pig during a dinner  party.

Eat like a horse : ( to eat too much ) : 

The child eats like a horse but strange enough still he is so thin.

Eagle eye : (  a person with very sharp observations) :

The inspector had an eagle eye and he was able to  find out the whole truth of the case.

Earn livelihood : ( to earn money to run the household)  :

As the elder son grew up he started doing petty jobs to earn livelihood for his poor parents.

Early bird : ( One  who starts his work ahead of others) :

An early bird has always better chances of winning the  race in comparison to his competitors.

Early to bed : ( one who sleeps early at night) :

Early to bed and  early to rise in the morning always keeps a man fit and healthy.

A Fair weather friend : ( a selfish friend ) :

Do not believe upon a fair weather friend because he always leaves others in the lurch. 

Far and wide : ( from distant places) :

People from far and wide came to see the exhibition.

Far and  away : (certainly) :

Our team will far and away win laurels for the school.

To feather one's nest : ( to amass wealth by all means) :

His father is busy in feathering his nest.

To feather one's cap : ( a remarkable achievement worth praising ):

By winning a gold medal in the examination she has added another feather in her cap.

A flash in the pan : ( a short lived happiness or pleasure) :

His enthusiastic outburst about his victory in the debate turned out to be a flash in the pan.

Feet of clay : (A cowardly timid or a week person) :

A person with feet of clay like him cannot win the challenge.

Fishy : ( something doubtful) :

We should not accept his offer as I think there is something fishy in it.

Fall foul of : ( to fight or dispute ):

He is in the habit of falling foul with every body.

Full swing : ( to beat its peak , complete, in fullness) : 

The winter sale of  ready made garments is in full swing these days.

The  preparations for the annual day function of the school are going on  in full swing. 

Full of beans ( a person with a lot of energy ): 

The young boy being full of beans  is sure to win the competition.

Full Circle : ( Complete the circle of time ) :

Nature has completed its full circle as he is  penniless after living more than half of his life as a wealthy man.

From the horse's mouth : ( hear directly from the concerned person) :

We must believe upon his statement as this news comes from the horse's mouth. 

From  pillar to post : ( to move from one place to another place) :

The young man is moving from pilllar to post these days in search of a suitable job.

From the bottom of one's heart : ( with deepest feelings or emotions) :

My daughter sent to me her wishes from the bottom of her heart on my birthday eve.
I send from the bottom of my heart  my best wishes to you on your birthday.

From rags to riches : ( to become wealthy after living in poverty) :

The inherited property of his parents  turned him from rags to riches.

From scratch ( to start from nothing):

He started his life from scratch after destruction of his house in a big  fire last year.

Foul Play : ( something wrong or irregular) :

The police is suspecting a foul play in the accident of his son.

Flesh and blood : ( a human being ) : 

Einstein said ," Generations to come will hardly believe that a man flesh and blood like Mahatma Gandhi had ever come on this earth."

Foot the bill : ( to make payment of the bill):

No matter. He who is hosting the dinner  party will foot the bill today. 

Fourth estate ( Media people particularly newspapers ) :

It is the prime duty of the fourth estate to act with great responsibility and avoid gaining cheap popularity.

Feel at  home : ( to feel comfortable with a person or at a place):

We all the members of our family feel at home at your place.

Go Scot free : ( to be saved from punishment, to go without any punishment) :

You should get an action initiated against the culprit otherwise he will go scot free.

Gather dust : ( to remain unused or unattended) :

After gathering dust for two years in the shelf the case file  of the culprit has been reopened now.

Gather pace or speed : ( to act or move fast) :

After the minister's  intervention  in the case it gathered pace and its early decision is expected now.

Give vent to : ( to express, to speak out ) :

The old lady should give vent to her pent up feelings otherwise she will grow sick.

Get on the nerves : ( to trouble or create difficulty to irritate) :

The children got on my nerves as they had been making a loud noise for the last two hours outside my room.

Give the nod : ( to grant permission ) : 

The ministry has not given its nod yet for starting the new project.

Give someone hand : ( to extend help) : 

I shall be gladly giving my hand to you in getting your project executed.

To Give up : ( to leave, to abandon) : 

We should not give up our hopes and we should make another full hearted attempt.

Ghost of a chance ( very little or no chance ) :

There is a ghost of a chance that he will come to the office in time today.

Good  for nothing : ( useless fellow) :

The manager in his office is good for nothing fellow. One cannot depend on him for anything.

Go to dogs : ( to be ruined ) :

His whole family went to dogs due to his bad habits of drinking and  gambling.

Greenhorn : ( novice, a person without experience) :

This young boy though green horn  has excelled well in the competition.

Grease the palm : ( to bribe) : 

These days it is very difficult to get any work done without greasing someone's palm.

Hand to mouth : ( in poor condition) :

The old man is living from hand to mouth as he has no source of his livelihood. 

Hale and heart : ( in sound condition of health) : 

I wish you to be always hale and hearty.

Hand in glove : ( to have close relationship) :

Both the friends are hand in  glove with each other. 

Hair stand on end : ( to be bewildered ) :

On seeing a dog standing before him, the child's hair stood on end. 

Hue and cry : ( Loud cry ) :

Seeing a dacoit in the house the owner of the house raised a hue and cry.

Hard and Fast : ( in strict terms) :

There is no hard and fast rule to be observed in this office.

High handed : ( in a rough and rude way ) :

The visitors were given a high handed treatment in the office and were prohibited from their entry.

Healthy as a horse : ( very stout and healthy person) :

The youngman appeared to be as healthy as a horse.

Headstrong:( a stubborn person) : 

He being a headstrong person is not liked  by any person in the office.

Hair's breadth : ( very narrow ) :

A cyclist moving on the road had a  hair's breadth escape from being hurt yesterday.

High and dry ( to be alone without any help) :

All his friends left him one by one   and he was finally left high and dry.

Hit the bull's eye : ( to achieve the desired target) :

The youngman hit the bull's eye and achieved a distinguished position in the competition..

Hit the nail on the head: ( to do the right thing) :

The authorities hit the nail on the head and rounded up all the culprits in the area.

Heart  in one's mouth : ( to be afraid or scared):

The child felt his heart in his mouth when he saw a snake on the ground.

To have a heart laugh: ( to be extremely happy, overjoyed ) : 

We all the friends had a hearty laugh when we saw the circus show.

Himalayan task : ( very difficult task) : 

It is not a Himalayan task to pass this examination now.

Himalayan  blunder : ( a major mistake) :

He committed a Himalayan blunder by going against the wishes of his parents.

In Cold blood :  ( mercilessly, in a cruel way ) :

The terrorists  killed so many innocent people in cold blood.

Ins and outs : ( secrets, complete details ) : 

All the ins and outs of the office are in the knowledge of the manager.

In the  prime of  :( in young age) :

He is shocked because his son died in the prime of his age.

In hot haste : ( in a great hurry) : 

His father is in a hot haste of amassing huge wealth for his family.

In round numbers : ( approximately) : 

There were four thousand persons in round numbers present in the function.

In  the face of : ( during something happening) :

Brave persons do not lose heart in the face of an adversity.

In the heart of : ( in the middle of ) : 

His house is situated in the heart of the city.

In the guise of : ( in the garb of ) : 

The police man went to the place of the incident in the guise of an ordinary person. 

In the soup : (in a trouble ) : 

Your mistakes will one day land you and members of your family in the soup.

In hot water : ( in trouble) :

The manager will be in hot water if he does not obey the  orders of the boss.

In a pickle : ( to be in a trouble or mess ) :

He is always in a pickle due to his nature of  being indecisive.

In a jam : ( in a trouble ) :

I extended a helping hand to my friend when he was in  a jam.

In a cleft stick : ( in a difficult situation) :

By disobeying the orders of  his boss he has placed himself in a cleft stick.

In nutshell :( in brief ) : 

The manager explained the whole of the incident in nutshell to the boss.

In a jiffy : ( very fast quickly ) :

Everything happened in a jiffy and we could not understand anything.

In the know  of : ( in the knowledge of )  : 

The  whole of the incident was already in the know of the boss.

In the loop : ( to be apprised of ) : 

The new boss is not in the habit of keeping his manager in the loop about his actions.

In the offing : ( likely to start soon ) :

Many new government schemes about the welfare of the poor are in the offing.

Jack of  all trades : ( a person who undertakes many odd jobs) : 

It is better to spend some money more and get the work done from an experienced person rather than from a jack of all trades.

Just in the nick of time : ( just at the appointed time) :

His friend reached on the spot in the nick of the time and saved their honour. 

Just off the boat : ( not having any experience ) :

He is acting like being just off the boat but he is an experienced person.

Just coming up to : ( likely to happen soon) : 

We are just coming upto there with our friends now.

Just around the corner : ( likely to happen soon ) : 

With the intervention of the chairman, reconciliation between the two parties appears to be just around the corner.

Your views/suggestions about the post (or correction of error if any ) are solicited. Do post/e-mail


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  53. English idioms, proverbs, and expressions are an important part of everyday English. They come up all the time in both written and spoken English. Because idioms don't always make sense literally, you'll need to familiarise yourself with the meaning and usage of each idiom. That may seem like a lot of work, but learning idioms is fun, especially when you compare English idioms to the idioms in your own language.

    Learning to use common idioms and expressions will make your English sound more native, so it's a good idea to master some of these expressions. The tables below are organised by how common the idioms are in American English. You can start by learning the very common English idioms, since these are the ones you'll encounter regularly while watching American movies or TV or visiting the United States. When you've mastered those, move on to the next. None of the idioms on this page are unusual or old-fashioned, so you can be confident using any of them with native English speakers from all English-speaking countries.

    The most common English idioms

    These English idioms are extremely common in everyday conversation in the United States. You will hear them in movies and TV shows and can use them to make your English sound more like that of a native speaker.

    Idioms. Native English speakers love using them in conversation, and you'll often find them popping up in books, TV shows, and movies too. To perfect your English, you really need to become confident in using idioms and know the difference between breaking a leg and pulling someone's leg.

    An idiom is a phrase or expression that typically has a figurative, non-literal meaning attached to it; some phrases become figurative idioms while retaining the literal meaning of the phrase. In what is categorised as formulaic language, an idiom's figurative meaning is different from its literal meaning. Idioms occur frequently in all languages; in English alone, there are an estimated twenty-five million idiomatic expressions.

    Definition of "idiom"

    An expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements (such as up in the air for "undecided") or in its grammatically atypical use of words (such as give way).