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Date: Apr 02 2010

Topic: Idioms and Slang

Author: kokoboko


A still tongue keeps a wise head
Wise people don't talk much.
About face
If someone changes their mind completely, this is an about face. It can be used when companies, governments, etc, change their position on an issue.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder
This idiom means that when people are apart, their love grows stronger.
After your own heart
A person after your own heart thinks the same way as you.
All ears
If someone says they're all ears, they are very interested in hearing about something.
All eyes on me
If all eyes are on someone, then everyone is paying attention to them.
All fingers and thumbs
If you're all fingers and thumbs, you are too excited or clumsy to do something properly that requires manual dexterity. 'All thumbs' is an alternative form of the idiom.
All heart
Someone who is all heart is very kind and generous.
All in your head
If something is all in your head, you have imagined it and it is not real.
All skin and bone
If a person is very underweight, they are all skin and bone, or bones.
Arm and a leg
If something costs an arm and a leg, it is very expensive.
Armed to the teeth
If people are armed to the teeth, they have lots of weapons.
At arm's length
If something is at arm's length, it is a safe distance waway from you.
At each other's throats
If people are at each other's throats, they are fighting, arguing or competing ruthlessly.
At the top of my lungs
If you shout at the top of your lungs, you shout as loudly as you possibly can.
At the top of your lungs
If you shout at the top of your lungs, you shout as loudly as you possibly can.
At the top of your voice
If you talk, shout or sing at the top of your voice, you do it as loudly as you can.
Back foot
(UK) If you are on your back foot, you are at a disadvantage and forced to be defensive of your position.
Bad blood
If people feel hate because of things that happened in the past, there is bad blood between them.
Bad hair day
If you're having a bad hair day, things are not going the way you would like or had planned.
Bad mouth
(UK) When you are bad mouthing,you are saying negative things about someone or something.('Bad-mouth' and 'badmouth' are also used.)
Bad taste in your mouth
If something leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth, you feel there is something wrong or bad about it.
Bag of bones
If someone is a bag of bones, they are very underweight.
Bag of nerves
If someone is a bag of nerves, they are very worried or nervous.
Bare your heart
If you bare your heart to someone, you tell them your personal and private feelings. ('Bare your soul' is an alternative form of the idiom.)
Bat an eyelid
If someone doesn't bat an eyelid, they don't react or show any emotion when surprised, shocked, etc.
Bated breath
If someone says they're waiting with bated breath, they're very excited and find it difficult to be patient.('Baited breath' is a common mistake.)
Be all ears
If you are all ears, you are very eager to hear what someone has to say.
Beat your brains out
If you beat your brains out, you think hard about something but cannot solve, understand or remember it.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder means that different people will find different things beautiful and that the differences of opinion don't matter greatly.
Beauty is only skin deep
This idiom means that appearances can be deceptive and something that seems or looks good may turn out to be bad.
Bedroom eyes
Someone with bedroom eyes has a sexy look in their eyes.
Behind someone's back
If you do something behind someone's back, you do it without telling them.
Belly up
If things go belly up, they go badly wrong.
Better than a kick in the teeth
If something is better than a kick in the teeth, it isn't very good, but it is better than nothing.
Better than a stick in the eye
If something is better than a stick in the eye, it isn't very good, but it is better than nothing.
Big nose
If someone has a big nose, it means they are excessively interested in everyone else's business.
Bit between your teeth
If you take or have the bit between your teeth, you take or have control of a situation. (Bit = piece of metal in a horse's mouth)
Bite someone's head off
If you bite someone's head off, you criticise them angrily.
Bite your lip
If you have to bite your lip, you have to make a conscious effort not to react or to keep quiet about something that displeases you.
Bite your tongue
If you bite your tongue, you refrain from speaking because it is socially or otherwise better not to.
Bleeding edge
Similar to 'cutting edge', this implies a technology or process that is at the forefront or beyond current practices. However, because it is unproven, it is often dangerous to use (hence the 'bleeding').
Bleeding heart
A bleeding heart is a person who is excessively sympathetic towards other people.
Bless your pointy little head
This expression is used as to patronise someone, especially when they don't realise that they're not very clever.('Bless your pointes little head' is also used.)
Blind acceptance
If people accept thing blindly, they accept them without questioning them at all.
Blind leading the blind
When the blind are leading the blind, the people in charge of something don't know anything more than the people they are in charge of, when they should have greater knowledge.
Blink of an eye
If something happens in the blink of an eye, it happens so fast it is almost impossible to notice it.
Blood and thunder
An emotional speech or performance is full of blood and thunder.
Blood from a turnip
It is impossible to get something from someone if they don't have it, just as you cannot get blood from a turnip.
Blood is thicker than water
This idiom means that family relationships are stronger than others.
Blood is worth bottling
(AU) If an Australian says to you "Your blood is worth bottling", he/she is complimenting or praising you for doing something or being someone very special.
Blood out of a stone
If something is like getting blood out of a stone, it is very difficult indeed.
Blood, sweat and tears
If something will take blood, sweat and tears, it will be very difficult and will require a lot of effort and sacrifice.
Blow your mind
Something that will blow your mind is something extraordinary that will amaze you beyond explanation.
Blue blood
Someone with blue blood is royalty.
Bone of contention
If there is an issue that always causes tension and arguments, it is a bone of contention.
Bone to pick
If you have a bone to pick with someone, you are annoyed about something they have done and want to tell them how you feel.
Born with a silver spoon in your mouth
If you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth, you are born into a rich family.
Brain surgery
If something is not brain surgery, it isn't very complicated or difficult to understand or master.
Brass neck
(UK) Someone who has the brass neck to do something has no sense of shame about what they do.
Break a leg
This idiom is a way of wishing someone good luck.
Break your heart
If someone upsets you greatly, they break your heart, especially if they end a relationship.
Breathe down your neck
If someone follows you or examines what you're doing very closely, they are breathing down your neck.
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
If someone's bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, they are full of energy and enthusiasm.
Bring someone to heel
If you bring someone to heel, you make them obey you.('Call someone to heel' is also used.) 
Brown nose
When someone tries to make themselves popular with somebody, usually in a position of authority, especially by flattering them, they are brown nosing.
Bums on seats
The people who have paid to watch a performance are bums on seats.
Bundle of nerves
Someone who is a bundle of nerves is very worried or nervous.
Burn your fingers
If you burn your fingers, you suffer a loss or something unpleasant as the result of something you did, making you less likely to do it again.
Bury your head in the sand
If someone buries their head in the sand, they ignore something that is obviously wrong.
Bust my chops
When someone says that they're not going to bust their chops, it means they are not going to work that hard or make much effort.
Butt naked
If someone is butt naked, they have no clothes on at all, often when they can be seen.
Someone who has butterfingers is clumsy and drops things.
Button your lip
If you button your lip, you keep quiet and don't speak. It is also used as a way of telling someone to shut up.
By a hair's breadth
If a person escapes from some danger by a hair's breadth, they only just managed to avoid it. The breadth is the thickness of a hair, so they probably feel somewhat lucky because the margin between success and what could easily have been failure was so close.
By heart
If you learn something by heart, you learn it word for word.
By the skin of your teeth
If you do something by the skin of your teeth, you only just manage to do it and come very near indeed to failing.
By word of mouth
If something becomes known by word of mouth, it gets known by being talked about rather than through publicity or advertising, etc.
Cast iron stomach
A person with a cast iron stomach can eat or drink anything without any ill effects.
Change of heart
If you change the way you think or feel about something, you have a change of heart.
Chaps my ass
When something/someone really annoys you, it chaps your ass.
Chase your tail
If you are chasing your tail, you are very busy but not being very productive.
Cheek by jowl
If things or people are cheek by jowl, they are very close together.
Chew on a bone
If someone is chewing on a bone, he or she is thinking about something intently.
Chip on your shoulder
If someone has a chip on their shoulder, they are resentful about something and feel that they have been treated badly.
Clean hands
Someone with clean hands, or who keeps their hands clean, is not involved in illegal or immoral activities.
Close at hand
If something is close at hand, it is nearby or conveniently located.
Close shave
If you have a close shave, you very nearly have a serious accident or get into trouble.
Close to your heart
If something is close to your heart, you care a lot about it. ('Dear to your heart' is an alternative.)
Cloth ears
If you don't listen to people, they may suggest you have cloth ears.
Cold feet
If you get cold feet about something, you lose the courage to do it.
Cold shoulder
If you give or show someone the cold shoulder, you are deliberately unfriendly and unco-operative towards them.
Cold sweat
If something brings you out in a cold sweat, it frightens you a lot.
Come on the heels of
If something comes on the heels of something, it follows very soon after it.
Come to heel
If someone comes to heel, they stop behaving in a way that is annoying to someone in authority and start being obedient.
Cool your heels
If you leave someone to cool their heels, you make them wait until they have calmed down.
Cry your eyes out
If you cry your eyes out, you cry uncontrollably.
Cut off your nose to spite your face
If you cut off your nose to spite your face, you do something rash or silly that ends up making things worse for you, often because you are angry or upset.
Cut your teeth on
The place where you gain your early experience is where you cut your teeth.
Dead from the neck up
Someone who's dead from the neck up is very stupid indeed.
Deep pockets but short arms
Someone who has money but never puts his hand in his pocket to pay for anything has deep pockets but short arms.
Dip your toes in the water
If you dip your toes in the water, you try something tentatively because you are not sure whether it will work or not.
Discerning eye
If a person has a discerning eye, they are particularly good at judging the quality of something.
Don't bite the hand that feeds
When someone says this to you, they are trying to tell you not to act against those on whom you depend.
Don't stand there with curlers in your hair
This means 'don't keep me waiting'. It's said to someone who is taking too long to get moving.
Don't sweat the small stuff
(USA) This is used to tell people not to worry about trivial or unimportant issues.
Down in the mouth
If someone is down in the mouth, they look unhappy or depressed.
Drag your feet
If someone is dragging their feet, they are taking too long to do or finish something, usually because they don't want to do it.
Drop into your lap
If something drops into your lap, you receive it suddenly, without any warning. ('Fall into your lap' is also used.)
Dry as a bone
If your lawn is as dry as a bone, the soil is completely dry.
Eat your heart out
If someone tells you to eat your heart out, they are saying they are better than you at something.
Elbow grease
If something requires elbow grease, it involves a lot of hard physical work.
Elbow room
If you haven't got enough elbow room, you haven't got enough space.
Eye- wash
This expression 'eye-wash' is generally used to cover up the anxiety of a person who is seeking a concrete reply or justification for an act or an event that had affected his personal image or caused him a loss. The affected person usually represents his case to the higher-ups and puts forth his demands for redressal. But the authority, in order to avoid embarassment to his organisation or to himself, is not in a position to expose the entire material or evidence which in turn tell upon the credibility of the organisation. In such circumstances, he will usually call for an investigation to satisfy the complainant, but will not be keen in disposing the case. The authority will drag on the issue, (at the same time pretending to be serious) until the seriousness of the issue dies down and no finality is reached. So, ' The investigation on the issue by the authority is an eye-wash'.
Eyes are bigger than one's stomach
If someone's eyes are bigger than their stomach, they are greedy and take on more than they can consume or manage.
Face only a mother could love
When someone has a face only a mother could love, they are ugly.
Face value
If you take something at face value, you accept the appearance rather than looking deeper into the matter.
Faint heart never won fair lady
This means that you will not get the partner of your dreams if you lack the confidence to let them know how you feel.
Fall on our feet
If you fall on your feet, you succeed in doing something where there was a risk of failure.
Fat head
A fat head is a dull, stupid person.
Fed up to the back teeth
When you are extremely irritated and fed up with something or someone, you are fed up to the back teeth.
Feet of clay
If someone has feet of clay, they have flaws that make them seem more human and like normal people.
Feet on the ground
A practical and realistic person has their feet on the ground.
Fight tooth and nail
If someone will fight tooth and nail for something, they will not stop at anything to get what they want. ('Fight tooth and claw' is an alternative.)
Find your feet
When you are finding your feet, you are in the process of gaining confidence and experience in something.
Fingers and thumbs
If you are all fingers and thumbs, you are being clumsy and not very skilled with your hands.
Fleet of foot
If someone is fleet of foot, they are very quick.
Flesh and blood
Your flesh and blood are your blood relatives, especially your immediate family.
Follow your nose
When giving directions, telling someone to follow their nose means that they should go straight ahead.
Foot in mouth
This is used to describe someone who has just said something embarrassing, inappropriate, wrong or stupid.
Foot in the door
If you have or get your foot in the door, you start working in a company or organisation at a low level, hoping that you will be able to progress from there.
A person who wears glasses
Friendly footing
When relationships are on a friendly footing, they are going well.
Frog in my throat
If you have a frog in your throat, you can't speak or you are losing your voice because you have a problem with your throat.
From the bottom of your heart
If someone does something from the bottom of their heart, then they do it with genuine emotion and feeling.
Full of piss and vinegar
Someone who's full of piss and vinegar is full of youthful energy.
Get it in the neck
(UK) If you get it in the neck, you are punished or criticised for something.
Get it off your chest
If you get something off your chest, you confess to something that has been troubling you.
Get on your nerves
If something gets on your nerves, it annoys or irritates you.
Get the nod
(UK) If you get the nod to something, you get approval or permission to do it.
Get your feet wet
If you get your feet wet, you gain your first experience of something.
Get your hands dirty
If you get your hands dirty, you become involved in something where the realities might compromise your principles. It can also mean that a person is not just stuck in an ivory tower dictating strategy, but is prepared to put in the effort and hard work to make the details actually happen.
Get your head around something
If you get your head around something, you come to understand it even though it is difficult to comprehend.
Get your teeth into
If you get your teeth into something, you become involved in or do something that is intellectually challenging or satisfying.  ('Dig you teeth into' and 'sink your teeth into' are also used.)
Give a big hand
Applaud by clapping hands. 'Let's give all the contestents a big hand.'
Give me a hand
If someone gives you a hand, they help you.
Give someone a leg up
If you give someone a leg up, you help them to achieve something that they couldn't have done alone.
Give the nod
(UK) If you give the nod to something, you approve it or give permission to do it.
Give your eye teeth
If you really want something and would be prepared to sacrifice a lot to get it, you would give your eye teeth for it.
Go for the jugular
If you go for the jugular, you attack someone where they are most vulnerable.
Go hand in hand
If things go hand in hand, they are associated and go together.
Go to your head
If something goes to your head, it makes you feel vain.  If alcohol goes to your head, it makes you feel drunk quickly.
Good hand
If you are a good hand at something, you do it well.
Grease someone's palm
If you grease someone's palm, you bribe them to do something.
Hairy at the heel
(UK) Someone who is hairy at the heel is dangerous or untrustworthy.
Hale and hearty
Someone who is hale and hearty is in very good health.
Half a mind
If you have half a mind to do something, you haven't decided to do it, but are thinking seriously about doing it.
Hand in hand
Hand in hand= work together closely When people in a group, say in an office or in a project, work together with mutual understanding to achieve the target, we say they work hand in hand. There is no lack of co-operation and each synchoranises the activity with that of the other.
Hand to mouth
Someone who's living from hand to mouth, is very poor and needs the little money they have coming in to cover their expenses.
Hands down
If someone is better hands down than everyone else, they are much better.
Handwriting like chicken scratch
If your handwriting is very hard to read, it is like chicken scratch.
Have a foot in both camps
Someone who plays a part or who is involved in two different groups of people, opinions, ways of thinking or living, etc, has a foot in both camps.
Have a heart
If someone has a heart, they arekind and sympathetic.  If you say, 'Have a heart' to someone, you are asking them to be understanding and sympathetic.
Have the guts
Someone who has enough courage to do something has the guts to do it.
Have your tail up
If someone has their tail up, they are optimistic and expect to be successful.
Head is mince
(Scot) When someone's thoughts are in a state of abject confusion, especially when facing a severe dilemma, their head is mince.
Head nor tail
If you can't make head nor tail of something, you cannot understand it at all or make any sense of it.
Head on a spike
If someone wants a head on a spike, they want to be able to destroy or really punish a person.
Head on the block
If someone's head is on the block, they are going to be held responsible and suffer the consequences for something that has gone wrong.
Head over heels in love
When someone falls passionately in love and is intoxicated by the feeling has fallen head over heels in love.
Heads will roll
If heads will roll, people will be punished or sacked for something that has gone wrong.
Heart in the right place
If someone's heart is in the right place, they are good and kind, though they might not always appear to be so.
Heart in your boots
If you're heart is in your boots, you are very unhappy.
Heart in your mouth
If your heart is in your mouth, then you feel nervous or scared.
Heart isn't in it
If your heart is not in something, then you don't really believe in it or support it.
Heart misses a beat
If your heart misses a beat, you are suddenly shocked or surprised. ('Heart skips a beat' is an alternative)
Heart of glass
When someone has a heart of glass, they are easily affected emotionally.
Heart of steel
When someone has a heart of steel, they do not show emotion or are not affected emotionally.
A heart-to-heart is a frank and honest conversation with someone, where you talk honestly and plainly about issues, no matter how painful.
Hide nor hair
When there's no trace of something or a person, you haven't seen hide nor hair of it or them.('Neither hide nor hair' is also used.)
Hit a nerve
If something hits a nerve, it upsets someone or causes them pain, often when it is something they are trying to hide.
Hold your tongue
If you hold your tongue, you keep silent even though you want to speak.
Hollow leg
Someone who has a hollow leg eats what seems to be more than his stomach can hold.
Home is where you lay your hat
Wherever you are comfortable and at ease with yourself is your home, regardless where you were born or brought up.('Home is where you lay your head'  and 'Home is where you hang your hat' are also used.)
Hot foot
If you hot foot it out of a place, you leave very quickly, often running.
Someone who is hot-blooded is easily excitable or passionate.
A hot-headed person gets angry very easily. (The noun 'hothead' can also be used.)
I've got a bone to pick with you
If somebody says this, they mean that they have some complaint to make against the person they are addressing.
In a heartbeat
If something happens very quickly or immediately, it happens in a heartbeat.
In cold blood
If something is done in cold blood, it is done ruthlessly, without any emotion.
In one ear and out the other
If something goes in one ear and out the other, you forget it as soon as you've heard it because it was too complicated, boring etc.
In over your head
If someone is in over their head, they are out of the depth in something they are involved in, and may end up in a mess.
In that vein
If you do something in that (or this) vein, you do it in the same distinctive manner or style.
In the face of
If people act in the face of something, they do it despite it or when threatened by it.
In the flesh
If you meet or see someone in the flesh you actually meet or see them, rather than seeing them on TV or in other media.
In the lap of luxury
People in the lap of luxury are very wealthy and have have everything that money can buy.
In the twinkling of an eye
If something happens in the twinkling of an eye, it happens very quickly.
In your blood
A trait or liking that is deeply ingrained in someone's personality and unlikely to change is in their blood.  A similar idiom is 'in his DNA.'
In your face
If someone is in your face, they are direct and confrontational. (It is sometime written 'in yer face'colloquially)
Iron fist
Someone who rules or controls something with an iron fist is in absolute control and tolerates no dissent. An iron fist in a velvet glove is used to describe someone who appears soft on the outside, but underneath is very hard. 'Mailed fist' is an alternative form.
It cost an arm and a leg
If something costs an arm and a leg, it is very expensive indeed.
Itchy feet
One gets itchy feet when one has been in one place for a time and wants to travel.
Joined at the hip
If people are joined at the hip, they are very closely connected and think the same way.
Jump down someone's throat
If you jump down someone's throat, you criticise or chastise them severely.
Keep body and soul together
If you earn enough to cover your basic expenses, but nothing more than that, you earn enough to keep body and soul together.
Keep someone at arm's length
If you keep someone or something at arm's length, you keep a safe distance away from them.
Keep someone on their toes
If you keep someone on their toes, you make sure that they concentrate on what they are supposed to do.
Keep your chin up
(UK) This expression is used to tell someone to have confidence.
Keep your ear to the ground
If you keep your ear to the ground, you try to keep informed about something, especially if there are rumours or uncertainties.
Keep your eye on the prize
This means that you should keep your focus on achieving a positive end result.
Keep your eyes peeled
If you keep your eyes peeled, you stay alert or watchful.
Keep your fingers crossed
If you are keeping your fingers crossed, you are hoping for a positive outcome.
Keep your hair on
Keep your hair on is advice telling someone to keep calm and not to over-react or get angry.
Keep your head
If you keep your head, you stay calm in times of difficulty.
Keep your head above water
If you are just managing to survive financially, you are keeping your head above water.
Keep your nose clean
If someone is trying to keep their Nose Clean, they are trying to stay out of trouble by not getting involved in any sort of wrong-doing.
Keep your nose to the grindstone
If you keep your nose to the grindstone, you work hard and seriously.
Kick in the teeth
Bad news or a sudden disappointment are a kick in the teeth.
Knee-jerk reaction
A knee-jerk reaction is an instant, instinctive response to a situation.
Knit your brows
If you knit your brows, you frown or look worried.
Knock something on the head
If you knock something on the head, you stop it or stop doing it.
Lead with the chin
If someone leads with their chin, they speak or behave without fear of the consequences.
Left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing
If the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing, then communication within a company, organisation, group, etc, is so bad that people don't know what the others are doing.
Left-handed compliment
A left-handed compliment is one that sounds like praise but has an insulting meaning. ('Backhanded compliment' is an alternative form.)
Lend an ear
If you lend an ear, you listen to what someone has to say. ('Lend your ear' is an alternative form.)
Let your hair down
If someone lets their hair down, they relax and stop feeling inhibited or shy.
Light on your feet
If someone is light on their feet, they can move quickly and are agile.
Like pulling teeth
If something if like pulling teeth, it is very difficult, especially if trying to extract information or to get a straight answer from someone.
Like the back of your hand
If you know something like the back of your hand, you know it very well indeed.
Someone who is lily-livered is a coward.
Lip service
When people pay lip service to something, they express their respect, but they don't act on their words, so the respect is hollow and empty.
Little pitchers have big ears
(USA) This means that children hear more and understand the world around them better than many adults realize.
Long face
Someone with a long face is sad or depressed about something.
Long in the tooth
If someone is long in the tooth, they are a bit too old to do something.
Loose lips sink ships
To have loose lips means to have a big mouth, susceptible to talking about everything and everyone. Sinking ships refers to anything from small acquaintances to long and hearty relationships (with friends or a significant other). So when one says loose lips sink ships, one is basically saying if you can't shut up you are going to end hurting people, usually psychologically or emotionally.Loose lips sink ships comes from World War I and/or WWII, when sailors on leave from their ships might talk about what ship they sailed on or where it had come from, or where it was going. If they talked too much (had 'loose lips') they might accidentally provide the enemy with anecdotal information that might later cause their ship to be tracked, and bombed and sunk, hence 'Loose lips sink ships.' Later, it came to mean any excessive talk might sabotage a project.
Lose face
To lose one's reputation or standing is to lose face
Make a better fist
If someone makes a better fist of doing something, they do a better job.
Make a clean breast
If someone makes a clean breast, they confess in full to something they have done.
Make a pig's ear
If you make a pig's ear of something, you make a mess of it.
Make no bones about it
If somebody make no bones about a scandal in their past, they are open and honest about it and show no shame or embarrassment.
Make your blood boil
If something makes your blood boil, it makes you very angry.
Make your flesh crawl
If something makes your flesh crawl, it really scares or revolts you. ('Make your flesh creep' is an alternative. 'Make your skin crawl' is also used.)
Make your hair stand on end
If something makes your hair stand on end, it terrifies you.
Make your toes curl
If something makes your toes curl, it makes you feel very uncomfortable, shocked or embarrassed.
Many a slip twixt cup and lip
There's many a slip twixt cup and lip means that many things can go wrong before something is achieved.
Many hands make light work
This idiom means that when everyone gets involved in something, the work gets done quickly.
A mealy-mouthed person doesn't say what they mean clearly.
Melt your heart
If something melts your heart, it affects you emotionally and you cannot control the feeling.
Millstone round your neck
A millstone around your neck is a problem that prevents you from doing what you want to do.
Mind over matter
This idiom is used when someone uses their willpower to rise above adversity.
Misery guts
A misery guts is a person who's always unhappy and tries to make others feel negative.
More than meets the eye
If there is more than meets the eye to something, it is more complex or difficult than it appears.
Mud in your eye
This is a way of saying 'cheers' when you are about to drink something, normally alcohol.
My eye
This idiom is added to an adjective to show that you disagree with it: 'He's shy.' 'Shy my eye- he's just planning something secret.'
My foot!
This idiom is used to show that you do not believe what someone has just said.
My hands are full
If your hands are full, you have so much to do that you cannot take on any more work, responsibilities and so on.
My hands are tied
If your hands are tied, you are unable to act for some reason.
My heart bleeds
If your heart bleeds for someone, you feel genuine sympathy and sadness for them.
My heart goes out to someone
If your heart goes out to someone, you feel genuine sympathy for them.
If a game, election, contest, etc, is a nail-biter, it is exciting because the competitors are so close that it is impossible to predict the result.
Neck and neck
If two competitors or candidates, etc, are neck and neck, then they are very close and neither is clearly winning.
Neck of the woods
If someone talks about their neck of the woods, they mean the area where they live.
Nerves of steel
If someone has nerves of steel, they don't get frightened when other people do.
New blood
If something needs new blood, it has become stale and needs new ideas or people to invigorate it.
No skin off my nose
If something's no skin off your nose, it doesn't affect or bother you at all.
No spine
If someone has no spine, they lack courage or are cowardly.
Nod's as good as a wink
(UK) 'A nod's as good as a wink' is a way of saying you have understood something that someone has said, even though it was not said directly.  The full phrase (sometimes used in the UK ) is 'a nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse'.
Nose in the air
If someone has their nose in the air, they behave in a way that is meant to show that they are superior to others.
Nosy parker
(UK) A nosy parker is someone who is excessively interested in other people's lives. ('Nosey parker' is an alternative spelling.)
Not bat an eye
If someone doesn't bat an eye, they do not react when other people normally would.
Not have the heart
If you don't have the heart to do something, you don't have the strength or courage to do something. (Usually used in the negative)
Not to be sneezed at
If something is not to be sneezed at, it should be taken seriously.
Off the top of your head
If you say something off the top of your head, you don't think about it beforehand.
Off-hand means without preparation. People say that they don't know the answer off-hand, meaning that they don't know it at that time.
On the nod
(UK) If something is accepted by parliament or a committee majority, it is on the nod.
On the nod
(UK) Someone who's on the nod is either asleep or falling asleep, especially when the shouldn't or are are in a position unusual for sleep, like sitting or standing.
On the nose
This means right on time.
On the right foot
If you start something or set off on the right foot, you get off to a good start.
On the tip of your tongue
If a word is on the tip of your tongue, you know you know the word, but you just can't quite remember it at the moment.
On your last legs
If someone's on their last legs, they're close to dying.
On your toes
Someone on his or her toes is alert and ready to go.
One hand washes the other
This idiom means that we need other people to get on as cooperation benefits us all.
One in the eye
If you achieve something that will irritate someone because they did not think that you were capable it is one in the eye for them.
Out of hand
If something gets out of hand, it gets out of control.
Out of your hair
If you get someone out of your hair, you get them to stop bothering or annoying you. ('Stay/keep/get out of my hair!' can be used as imperatives)
Out on a limb
If somebody's out on a limb, they are in a very exposed position and could get into difficulties.
Over your head
If something is over your head, or goes over your head, it is too complex or difficult for you to understand.
Pain in the neck
If someone is very annoying and always disturbing you, they are a pain in the neck. Pain in the butt, or pain in the ass (USA), and Pain in the arse (UK) are less polite alternative forms.
Pay through the nose
If you pay through the nose for something, you pay a very high price for it.
Plain as the nose on your face
If something is as plain as the nose on your face, it is very clear and obvious.
Plastic smile
When someone is wearing a plastic smile, they are appear to be happier with a situation or events than they actually are. This is actually a description of the forced smile you might see in many photographs.
Play into someone's hands
If you play into someone's hands, you do what they were expecting you to do and take advantage of this.
Play it by ear
If you play it by ear, you don't have a plan of action, but decide what to do as events take shape.
Play out of your skin
If someone plays out of their skin, they give an outstanding performance.
Point the finger
When you point the finger at someone, you are accusing and blaming them for something.
Pound of flesh
If someone wants their pound of flesh, the force someone to pay or give back something owed, even though they don't need it and it will cause the other person a lot of difficulty.
Powder your nose
If somebody goes to powder your nose, it is a euphemism for going to the lavatory (toilet).
Press the flesh
When people, especially politicians, press the flesh, they meet members of the public and shake their hands, usually when trying to get support.
Prick up your ears
If you prick up your ears, you listen very carefully.  ('Pick up your ears' is also used.)
Pull someone's leg
If you pull someone's leg, you tease them, but not maliciously.
Pull the wool over someone's eyes
If you pull the wool over someone's eyes, you deceive or cheat them.
Pull your finger out!
(UK) If someone tells you to do this, they want you to hurry up. ('Get your finger out' is also used.)
Put a bug in your ear
If you put a bug in someone's ear, you give him or her a reminder or suggestion relating to a future event.
Put or get someone's back up
If you put or get someone's back up, you annoy them.
Put somebody's nose out of joint
If you put someone's nose out of joint, you irritate them or make them angry with you.
Put your best foot forward
If you ut your best foot forward, you try your best to do something.
Put your foot down
When someone puts their foot down, they make a firm stand and establish their authority on an issue.
Put your foot in it
If you put your foot in it, you do or say something embarrassing and tactless or get yourself into trouble.
Put your foot in your mouth
If you put your foot in your mouth, you say something stupid or embarrassing.
Put your hand on your heart
If you can out your hand on your heart, then you can say something knowing it to be true.
Put your heads together
If people put their head together, they exchange ideas about something.
Put your money where your mouth is
If someone puts their money where their mouth is, they back up their words with action.
Put your shoulder to the wheel
When you put your shoulder to the wheel, you contribute to an effort.
Put your thumb on the scales
If you put your thumb on the scales, you try to influence the result of something in your favour.
Rack your brain
If you rack your brain, you think very hard when trying to remember something. ('Rack your brains' is an alternative.)
Raise eyebrows
If something raises eyebrows, it shocks or surprises people.
Roll your eyes
If you roll your eyes, you show with your eyes that you don't believe someone or aren't interested in what they're saying.
Rub shoulders
If you rub shoulders with people, you meet and spend time with them, especially when they are powerful or famous.
Rule of thumb
Rule of thumb means approximately.
Run off your feet
If you are run off your feet, you are extremely busy and don't have enough time to do everything.
Run your mouth off
If someone runs their mouth off, they talk too much.
Safe pair of hands
A person who can be trusted to do something without causing any trouble is a safe pair of hands.
Save face
If someone saves face, they manage to protect their reputation.
Save your skin
If someone saves their skin, they manage to avoid getting into serious trouble.
Scales fall from your eyes
When the scales fall from your eyes, you suddenly realise the truth about something.
Scent blood
If you can scent blood, you feel that a rival is having difficulties and you are going to beat them.
Sea legs
If you are getting your sea legs, it takes you a while to get used to something new.
See eye to eye
If people see eye to eye, they agree about everything.
Shake a leg
If you shake a leg, you are out of bed and active.  It can be used to tell someone to hurry up.
Shoot yourself in the foot
If you shoot yourself in the foot, you do something that damages your ambition, career, etc.
Sight for sore eyes
Someone or something that is a sight for sore eyes is a pleasure to see.
Skin and bones
If someone is skin and bones, they are very underweight and look bad.
Skin in the game
A person who has skin in the game has invested in the company they are running.
Skin someone alive
If someone skins you alive, they admonish and punish you hard.
Slap on the wrist
If someone gets a slap on the wrist, they get a very minor punishment when they could have been punished more severely.
Sleight of hand
Sleight of hand is the ability to use your hands in a clever way, like a magician performing tricks you can't see.
Slip of the tongue
If you say something accidentally, it is a slip of the tongue.
Slip through one's fingers
If something slips through one’s fingers it escapes or is lost through carelessness.
Smack in the face
If something is a smack in the face, it is a shock, usually one that impedes progress.
Smooth as a baby's bottom
If something is smooth as a baby's bottom, it has a regular, flat surface.
Speak with a forked tongue
To say one thing and mean another, to lie, to be two-faced
Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak
If the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, someone lacks the willpower to change things they do because they derive too much pleasure from them.
Spit blood
If someone is spitting blood, they are absolutely furious.
Spit it out
People say this when someone has something to say but is too embarrassed, shy, etc, to say it.
Split hairs
If people split hairs, they concentrate on tiny and unimportant details to find fault with something.
Stars in your eyes
Someone who dreams of being famous has stars in their eyes.
Step on someone's toes
If you step on someone's toes, you upset them, especially if you do something that they should be in charge of.
Stick in your craw
If someone or something really annoys you, it is said to stick in your craw.
Stick out like a sore thumb
If something sticks or stands out like a sore thumb, it is clearly and obviously different from the things that are around it.
Stick your neck out
If you stick you neck out, you take a risk because you believe in something.
Sticky fingers
The tendency to keep (or steal) an object you touch.  Also, to steal something quickly without anyone noticing. (ex: 'You stole that guy's wallet? You have some sticky fingers, my friend.')
Stiff upper lip
(UK) If you keep your emotions to yourself and don't let others know how you feel when something bad happens, you keep a stiff upper lip.
A stiff-necked person is rather formal and finds it hard to relax in company.
Stir the blood
If something stirs your blood, it arouses feelings or passions,.
Stone deaf
Someone who is stone deaf is completely deaf.
Straight face
If someone keeps a straight face, they remain serious and do not show emotion or amusement.
Straight from the shoulder
If someone talks straight from the shoulder, they talk honestly and plainly.
Strain every nerve
If you strain every nerve, you make a great effort to achieve something.
Stuffed to the gills
If someone is stuffed to the gills, they have eaten a lot and are very full.
Suck hind teat
A person who sucks hind teat is at a disadvantage or considered worse or less important that others.
Sweat blood
If you sweat blood, you make an extraordinary effort to achieve something.
Sweep off your feet
If you are swept off your feet, you lose control emotionally when you fall in love or are really impressed.
Sweet tooth
If you have a sweet tooth, you like eating food with sugar in it.
Take a nosedive
When things take a nosedive, they decline very quickly and head towards disaster.
Take by the scruff of the neck
If you take something by the scruff on the neck, you take complete control of it.
Take guts
If something takes guts, it requires courage in the face of danger or great risk. It takes guts for firemen to enter a burning building to save someone.
Take it on the chin
If you take something on the chin, something bad happens to you and you take it directly without fuss.
Take someone under your wing
If you take someone under your wing, you look after them while they are learning something.  
Talk a glass eye to sleep
Someone who could talk a glass eye to sleep is very boring and repetitive.
Talk out of the back of your head
If someone is talking out of the back of their head, they are talking rubbish.
Taste blood
If someone has tasted blood, they have achieved something and are encouraged to think that victory is within their grasp.
Tear your hair out
If someone is tearing their hair out, they are extremely worried or agitated about something.
Tears before bedtime
(UK) This idiom is used when something seems certain to go wrong or cause trouble.
Teething problems
(UK) The problems that a project has when it is starting are the teething problems.
If a person is thick-skinned, they are not affected by criticism.
If somebody is thin-skinned, they are very sensitive to any sort of criticism.
Through gritted teeth
If you do something through gritted teeth, you accept or agree with it against your will and it is obvious to others how you really feel.
Throw someone a bone
If you throw someone a bone, you give them a small reward or some kind words to make them feel good even if they've not really contributed much.
Thumb your nose at
If you thumb your nose at something, you reject it or scorn it.
Thumbs down & thumbs up
If something gets the thumbs up, it gets approval, while the thumbs down means disapproval.
Tongue in cheek
If something is tongue in cheek, it isn't serious or meant to be taken seriously.
Tread on someone's toes
If you tread on someone's toes, you upset them, especially if you do something that they should be in charge of.
Tug at the heartstrings
f something tugs at the heartstrings, it makes you feel sad or sympathetic towards it.
Turn a blind eye
When people turn a blind eye, they deliberately ignore something, especially if people are doing something wrong.
Turn a deaf ear
If someone turns a deaf ear to you, they don't listen to you.
Turn something on its head
If you turn something on its head, you turn it upside down or reverse it.
Turn the other cheek
If you turn the other cheek, you are humble and do not retaliate or get outwardly angry when someone offends or hurts you, in fact, you give them the opportunity to re-offend instead and compound their unpleasantness.
Turn your nose up
If someone turns their nose up at something, they reject it or look odwn on it because they don't think it is good enough for them.
Twinkling of an eye
If something happens in the twinkling of an eye, it happens very quickly.
Twist someone's arm
If you twist someone's arm, you put pressure on them to try to make them do what you want them to do.
Two left feet
A person with two left feet can't dance.
Under your nose
If something happens right in front of you, especially if it is surprising or audacious, it happens under your nose.
Under your skin
If someone gets under your skin, they really annoy you.
Under your thumb
Someone who is manipulated or controlled by another person is under his or her thumb.
Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown
This means that people with serious responsibilities have a heavy burden.
Up to the eyes
You you are up to your eyes in something, you are deeply involved or to have too much of something like work. ('Up the neck', 'up to the eyeballs' and 'up to the ears' are also used.)
Up to the neck
If someone's in something up to the neck, they are very involved in it, especially when it's something wrong.
Up to your eyes
When you've got too much work to do, you're up to your eyes in it.
Up to your neck
If someone is very involved in something, they are up to their neck in it, especially if it is something bad or immoral.
Upper hand
If you have the upper hand, you have the advantage.
Vent your spleen
If someone vents their spleen, they release all their anger about something.
If you do a volte-face on something, you make a sudden and complete change in your stance or position over an issue.
Warm the cockles of your heart
If something warms the cockles of your heart, it makes you feel happy.
Warts and all
If you like someone warts and all, you like them with all their faults.
Wash your hands of something
If you wash your hands of something, you disassociate yourself and accept no responsibility for what will happen.
Waste of skin
If a person is referred to as a 'waste of skin', it means he is not worth very much.
Weak at the knees
If people go weak at the knees, they have a powerful emotional reaction to something and feel that they might fall over.
Wear your heart on your sleeve
Someone who wears their heart on their sleeve shows their emotions and feelings publicly.
Weight off your shoulders
If something is a weight off your shoulders, you have relieved yourself of a burden, normally a something that has been troubling you or worrying you.
Wet behind the ears
Someone who is wet behind the ears is either very young or inexperienced.
Win by a nose
If somebody wins by a nose, they only just beat the others.
Wipe the smile of someone's face
If you wipe the smile of someone's face, you do something to make someone feel less pleased with themselves.
Word of mouth
If something becomes known by word of mouth, it is because people are talking about it, not through publicity, etc.
Work your fingers to the bone
If you work your fingers to the bone, you work extremely hard on something.
Work your tail off
If you work your tail off, you work extremely hard.
World at your feet
If everything is going well and the future looks full of opportunity, you have the world at your feet.
Written all over your face
If someone has done something wrong or secret, but cannot hide it in their expression, it is written all over their face.
Wrong foot
If you start something on the wrong foot, you start badly.
You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours
This idiom means that if you do something for me, I'll return the favour.
You've got rocks in your head
(USA) Someone who has acted with a lack of intelligence has rocks in their head.
Young blood
Young people with new ideas and fresh approaches are young blood.
Your belly button is bigger than your stomach
If your belly button is bigger than your stomach, you take on more responsibilities than you can handle.
Zip your lip
If someone tells you to zip your lip, they want to to shut up or keep quiet about something. ('Zip it' is also used.)

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