English Idioms


When you don’t know

I don’t know

Beats me

(I’ve) no idea

(I) haven’t got a clue

I don’t have the faintest idea

I don’t have the foggiest (idea)

You’ve got me there

When you don’t understand

to be confused

to be puzzled

to be scratching your head

be the be-all and end-all
be the most important thing

a dish fit for the gods
the best possible food you can serve

be not for the faint-hearted
be not suitable for people who lack courage or determination

forever and a day
a very long time

be a foregone conclusion
be a result that is certain to happen

in one fell swoop
all at once and suddenly

have a heart of gold
be very kind and caring

a wild-goose chase
a situation where you waste time chasing something you can’t get


the tip of the iceberg
only the beginning

in my mind’s eye
in my imagination

to be cruel to be kind
to do hurtful things in order to achieve a good thing

a wild-goose chase
a situation where you waste time chasing something you can’t get

a fool’s paradise
a state of being happy for stupid reasons

sick at heart
sad, depressed 

parting is such sweet sorrow
means that saying goodbye to someone you love is full of mixed emotion

to be or not to be: that is the question
’to be or not to be’ means ’to commit suicide or not to commit suicide'

a plague on both your houses
said to show frustration or anger at both sides of a fight or argument

O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?
means ‘Why are you Romeo?’

I haven’t got all day
do it quickly; hurry up

get a move on
do it more quickly

pull your finger out
start working harder (and more quickly)

as quick as a flash
very quickly

(abbreviation) as soon as possible

a quick fix
fast and easy solution

an agreement to sell a company or brand’s products, using their name

the business of selling products connected to a popular film or performer or event

cash cow
product or service that continually makes a lot of money

on the blink
not working correctly

(here) old and broken

packed up
stopped working

had it
no longer useful

cooking on gas
the situation is going well


don’t bite my head off
don’t speak to me in an angry way

it’s doing my head in
it’s making me annoyed and angry

for crying out loud!
said by someone to express their annoyance or irritation

you’re driving me crackers!
you’re making me annoyed

don’t make my blood boil
don’t make me angry

don’t blow your top
don’t get angry

hot under the collar
annoyed or angry

background checks
checks on the things a person has done in their past

to go around something in order to avoid it

executive action
an action taken by a person in charge which doesn’t follow the usual approval procedure

loophole 漏洞

the act of giving official information

not allowed to go to work for a period of time

electronic parts used to improve body parts that don’t work properly

To leave

Here are some phrases for when you’re suggesting to leave somewhere together with others:

  • Time to make a move
  • Let’s hit the road
  • Off we go
  • Let’s get outta here
  • Shall we?

And here’s one for when you’re leaving by yourself:

I’m off


full of the joys of spring
very happy / cheerful

on cloud 9
very happy

on top of the world
feeling happy because things are going well for you

thrilled to bits
excited and pleased

music to my ears
information that makes you happy / pleased

jump for joy
show great excitement / happiness

(something) took me by surprise
(something) unexpected happened

how sweet
that’s very nice or kind

very touching

a nice touch
a kind thought or action


hold the fort
look after something while someone else is away

feels like an eternity
feels like a long time

better late than never
it is good someone has arrived rather than not at all

to make up for lost time
spend lots of time doing something now because it wasn’t done earlier

all in good time
there is no need to hurry

late in the day
too late to do anything about it

time is money
time wasted could be used earning money


(someone’s) lucky day
a day when good things will happen to someone

one more (something) for luck
an extra (something) for good fortune

light up
(here) suddenly look happy or amazed

fell into my lap
obtained without any effort

a stroke of luck
a good thing that’s happened unexpectedly

better luck next time
(an expression of encouragement or sarcasm) hope you have more success next time


mum’s the word
keep it a secret

my lips are sealed
I won’t tell anybody

keep it under wraps
keep it a secret

a little dickie bird has told me
somebody has told me something in private

keep it to yourself
don’t tell anybody / keep it a secret

to let the cat out of the bag
tell somebody something that was supposed to be a secret


I’ve had it up to here
I have suffered enough because of something or someone

it’s driving me up the wall
it’s making me very angry

don’t blow a fuse!
don’t lose your temper

fed up to the back teeth
angry because a situation has continued for too long

like a bear with a sore head!
in a very bad mood

at the end of his tether
so annoyed he can’t carry on

losing it
becoming very angry or upset


feather in your cap
an achievement to feel pleased about

a lucky break
a piece of good luck / a good opportunity

a real success
very successful

a track record
a reputation based on performance or experience

the secret to your success
the main thing that lead to your success, that others don’t know about

a roaring success
very successful

don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched
don’t make plans based on something being succesful until it actually proves to be a success

taste success
get a feeling of what success is like

top dog
best or most important person in a group


a shock to the system
an unexpected surprise

what on earth!
(said to show complete surprise or anger)

the shock of my life
a very big shock

to jump out of your skin
to be very surprised or shocked

out of the blue
completely unexpected

very shocked or surprised


a tough cookie
a person who is strong enough to deal with difficult situations

as tough as old boots
a person who is strong enough to deal with difficult situations

she wouldn’t say boo to a goose
timid, quiet and shy

a game old bird
a tough and smart woman

continually severe or cruel

as hard as nails
(also) a person who is strong enough to deal with difficult situations

tough luck
without sympathy for your situation

tough love
sort your own problems out


to think out of the box
think freely, creating new unexpected ideas

clever clogs
someone who is annoying because they think they know more than other people

a brainwave
a sudden good idea

the best idea since sliced-bread
an excellent idea

too clever by half
annoying because someone appears more intelligent than other people

a smart cookie
a very clever or intelligent


a face like a wet weekend
a miserable and sad appearance

feeling blue
feeling sad

down in the dumps
feeling sad

sad and having no hope

cry your eyes out
cry a lot

worse things happen at sea
don’t worry too much about your own problems

beside himself with grief
very upset because someone has died


the calm before the storm
a quiet time before things get very busy or difficult

keep your cool
stay calm in a difficult situation

stay calm
don’t get in a panic/emotional

under control
sorted out in a calm way

act cool and collected
behave in a calm and composed manner

blows a gasket
suddenly becomes angry


it’s about time
you should have done this earlier

make it snappy
be quick

all the time in the world
lots of time available to do something

every second counts
don’t waste any time

in the nick of time
at the last moment

it’s a race against time
there’s a limited amount of time to finish something

with seconds to spare
just in time

that was a close one
we just managed to avoid something bad happening


high quality

pull all the stops out
make a big effort so that something is very successful

excel at
do something very well

best quality

gone above and beyond
done more than was expected

blown right out of the water
shown to be false

exceeded his expectations
be more extreme than what you thought would happen


a secret admirer
somebody who likes someone else very much but doesn’t tell them

love (something) to bits
love (something) very much

got the hots for (someone)
is very attracted to (someone)

no love lost (between two people)
you don’t like each other

a love-hate relationship
a relationship with someone or something where your feelings often change from love to hate

for love nor money
impossible to get

a labour of love
work that is hard but enjoyable to do


get the better of you
cause you to fail

fall at the first hurdle(跳栏)
fail right at the start of something

cut our losses
stop doing something now before it gets worse

(to make) a pig’s ear out of something
(to make) a complete mess of something

a sense of humour failure
you are unable to see what is funny


spick and span
very clean and tidy

personal hygiene
ability to keep yourself clean

as clean as a whistle
very clean

very clean

you could eat your dinner off that
it’s very clean

a clean bill of health
official statement that something is in good condition

clean your act up
start improving your behaviour

a clean slate
forget the past and make a new start


a recipe for disaster
something that will obviously go very wrong

up the creek without a paddle
in a difficult situation with no way of making it better

on the brink of disaster
about to go wrong

disaster averted
a bad situation has just been avoided

a close shave
(also) a bad situation has just been avoided


I didn’t sleep a wink
I didn’t sleep at all

slept like a log
slept very well

I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over it
don’t worry about it

let sleeping dogs lie
leave the situation alone to avoid causing trouble

sleeping partner
a partner in a business who provides money for it but doesn’t actively manage it

I slept like a baby
slept very well

a catnap
a short sleep

beauty sleep
an amount of sleep needed to look good and healthy

on the decline 呈下降趋势


to be honest
let me tell you the truth

God’s honest truth!
it is the real truth/ I am not lying!

honesty is the best policy
it is better to tell the truth than to lie

come clean
tell the truth

to make an honest living
to work hard to earn some money

open and above board
completely honest


sick to death
very unhappy about something

off colour
feeling slightly ill

feeling that you might be sick

sick joke
nasty or unkind joke

I’m sick of this
I don’t like it anymore

as sick as a dog
very ill

as sick as a parrot
very disappointed or unhappy


not modern or fashionable

down with the kids
behaving and thinking as a young person would

all the rage
very popular

after a fashion
only to some extent

old hat
not modern; boring

a fashion statement
something you wear to show others you know a lot about fashion

a fashion victim
a person who wears fashionable clothes even if they don’t suit them

a fashion faux pas
a mistake related to wearing clothes that look stupid or silly


being able to understand how someone else feels because you can imagine being in their situation

to be in someone else’s shoes
to experience something from someone else’s point of view

from where I’m standing
from my point of view; in my opinion

I hear you
I can hear what you’re saying

spare me a thought
think about me as well

I see where you’re coming from
I understand your situation

take pity on him
feel sorry for him


pulled out all the stops
made a special effort

ahead of the game
in an advantageous position

up for grabs

blow the competition away
surprise the other competitors

in competition with
trying hard to beat someone / other people

may the best man win!
hope that the person who deserves to win does win

you win some, you lose some
bad luck; too bad


last hope
final chance (to do something)

don’t get your hopes up
what you expect to happen probably won’t

on its knees
struggling; in a bad condition

pin your hopes on it
expect or hope it will happen

to be honest
what I really think

live in hope
hope that what you want to happen will eventually happen

not a hope in hell!
absolutely no chance of succeeding

a glimmer of hope
small chance of something succeeding

dashed my hopes
let me down; stopped me expecting something good

the last straw
the last of a number of events that has gone wrong

13 uses of ’take'

takes (A1)
brings a person or thing from one place to another

taken someone into (your) care (C1)
agreed to look after someone and be responsible for them

takes the opportunity (B2)
uses the situation to do something he wants to do

take (someone) off to (C1)
move (someone) from one place to another

take refuge (C2)
find shelter (from danger or unhappiness)

takes pity on (B2)
feels sympathy for

takes an instant dislike to(B2)
immediately feels hostility towards something or someone

seems/is taken with (C1)
is attracted to

taken advantage of (C2)
used a situation to get what you want (often by deceit)

takes up (B2)
begins a hobby, job or activity

take off (B2)
start to become successful

take a turn for the worse (C1)
start to go wrong

take care of (B1)
look after

Once in a blue moon.
not very often

Once in a blue moon

On cloud nine
Very happy

Every cloud has a silver lining
Every bad situation has something good in it

gold diggers
person who choses his lover based on money not love.

a person who forms a relationship with another purely to extract money from them.

dawned on

And then it dawned on me that even though he was surrounded by toys, he was all alone in his nursery.


If a fact dawns on you, you understand it after a period of not understanding it.

That being said 话虽如此

It must cost a fortune. 肯定很花钱。

hand over fist 大量地,迅速地:迅速且大量地进行某种活动或获得利益。

fell short 不足,不够:指达不到预期的标准或期望的目标。短缺,缺乏:指某物的数量或质量不足。

as opposed to 相反

chimney in the center of the house, which could provide heat for the whole house through flues, uh, small air passageways into each room, as opposed to having a fireplace in every room, which would require more cleaning and make the air inside the house dirtier.

They were probably envious(羡慕的,忌妒的) of her success.

You remember intro to psychology, right? implys the students should know this concept.

by no means 绝不

you’ve gotta let yourself come through.

That’s a fair question. 你问这个问题可以理解。合理的问题