Click here for our Site Map

English Writing Services

scientific, thesis, technical
and business editing service

English Sayings

A fish out of water
Someone who is out of his or her normal environment, or in a situation with which they are unfamiliar or unsuited.

A no-brainer
Something extremely simple and that requires little mental effort or to understand or do.

A sea change
A radical change.

Above board
Openly, frank, open, innocent, without trickery.

Absent without leave
Absent without permission.

Achilles' heel
A fatal weakness despite overall strength.

Against the grain
Against one's natural inclination.

All at sea
In a state of disorder or confusion.

All that glitters is not gold
The fact that something looks valuable does not mean that it is valuable.

An albatross round his neck
A burden that someone must carry.

As cool as a cucumber
Calm and unflustered.

As fit as a fiddle
In excellent health and fitness.

As mad as a March hare
Completely mad. Crazy.

As pleased as Punch
Very pleased.

As white as snow
Pure white.

At one fell swoop
In one sudden and single action.

Back to square one
To return to the beginning, to start anew.

Bad books
Disfavor, in disgrace, out of favor.

Bad hair day
A day when nothing seems to work out right.

Barking up the wrong tree
Believing an incorrect explanation or pursuing a wrong course of action.

Batten down the hatches
Prepare for trouble, get ready for a storm.

Beat about the bush
To speak evasively without directly addressing the problem or coming to the point.

Bed of roses
A pleasant situation.

Behind the eight ball
A difficult position in which to find oneself and from which there may be no escape.

Bet your bottom dollar
Bet your last dollar.

Between a rock and a hard place
In a difficult position and faced only with unsatisfactory or unpleasant choices.

Beyond the pale
Unacceptable. Beyond standards of acceptable behavior.

Big wig
An important person.

Bite the dust
Fall face down in the dirt, dead or wounded. Fall to the ground, dead.

Blaze a trail
(To) create a trail for others to follow, lead the way, do something that no-one has done before.

Blood is thicker than water
The bonds among family members are stronger than those to other persons. Loyalty to family members is greater than it is to friends.

Blot on the landscape
Something that is unsightly and spoils the view.

Bolt from the blue
Something that arrives suddenly and as a complete surprise, as would a bolt of lightning from a cloudless sky.

Born with a silver spoon in one's mouth
Born into luxury or a wealthy family. To have opportunities that were not earned by oneself, but that resulted from the wealth or reputation, etc, of the family into which one was born.

Brand spanking new
Brand new. Extremely new.

Broad in the beam
Wide in the hips or buttocks.

Buckle down
Settle down and apply oneself (to the work). To devote or address oneself (to the work).

Bury the hatchet
Make peace. Settle the grudge with your adversary.

Butter wouldn't melt in her mouth
Prim and proper.

By the book
According to the rules. Correctly.

Call a spade a spade
Speak plainly and bluntly. Describe something as it is without euphemisms.

Can't hold a candle to
Compare unfavorably to (someone or something else).

Carte blanche
Blank check. The authority or right to choose whatever he or she wants.

Caught red handed
Caught in the act of committing a crime or doing something unexpected.

Chip off the old block
Made of the same stuff as someone or something else. Someone who closely resembles a parent or shares a particular characteristic with his or her parent.

Casual conversation or gossip.

Chow down
Eat (a meal), sit down to eat (a meal).

A farmer or ploughman. A rough, unsophisticated countryman.

Cock and bull story
An unbelievable tale.

Cold feet
Reluctance to proceed due to timidity or having become disheartened or having lost one's enthusiasm.

Cold turkey
A term used to describe the method by which one gives up an addiction suddenly, rather than slowly withdrawing from it in stages.

Come hell or high water
Despite whatever difficulties or obstacles are encountered.

Counting sheep
A mental exercise used by some persons as an aid to falling asleep.

Cut and run
Run away. A term used in the context of a cowardly retreat.

Cut off your nose to spite your face
Engage in an act of revenge that will do harm to oneself as well as to one's adversary.

Cut to the chase
Get to the point, leaving out any preamble. (Cut the dramatics and get to the action.)

Davy Jones' locker
The bottom of the sea. The resting place of drowned mariners.

Devil Incarnate
The epitome of evil.

Die has been cast
An irrevocable choice has been made. .

Dish fit for the gods
Really good food. An offering of food of high quality.

Dog in the manger
A mean-spirited person, who possesses something wanted by another, but will not let the latter person use it, although the former is not using it.

Done to a turn
Cooked for the right length of time.

Don't change horses in midstream
Don't change your method, basic position, or direction when half way through a project or operation.

Don't look a gift horse in the mouth
Don't display bad manners by examining for defects a gift that you have received.

Double whammy
Receiving two setbacks or problems or blows at the same time.

Draw a blank
Fail to find or remember something.

Drink like a fish
Drink heavily, particularly an alcoholic beverage.

Drop in the bucket
A minute proportion of the whole.

Dust up
A scuffle or fight.

Eat humble pie
Acknowledge errors and deficiencies. Admit and apologize for one's errors and deficiencies.

Eat one out of house and home
Eat so much of another's food that little is left for the latter.

Face the music
Accept the unpleasant consequences of one's previous actions.

Fall from grace
Fall in esteem.

Fall on your sword
Commit suicide or tender one's resignation.

Fancy pants
Someone who is dressed pretentiously or overly elaborately.

Feather in one's cap
An accomplishment to be proud of. A symbol of an achievement or an honor.

Field day
A circumstance of great opportunity.

Fish or cut bait
Get to work or step aside.

Flash in the pan
Something that fails to endure or deliver value, despite a showy beginning.

Flavor of the month
Today's favorite. Something that is prominent and/or popular for a brief period time before it is eclipsed by something else that catches the public's fancy.

Fly by the seat of one's pants
Making decisions as you go along, rather than following a predetermined plan.

Fly off the handle
Lose one's temper.

Frog in the throat
A temporary hoarseness in the throat.

Full tilt
At top speed.

Game is up
One's deceit is exposed. We see through your tricks.

Get off on the wrong foot
Begin badly a new relationship or endeavor. Experience a poor start.

Gild the lily
Adorn unnecessarily that which is beautiful or perfect, over embellish.

Give up the ghost
Die, or, in the case of machinery or other inanimate objects, cease functioning.

Go by the board
Finished with.

Go haywire
Break down or cease to function properly. Also, to become out of control.

Go out on a limb
State an opinion or perform an action for which there is little support and which therefore involves risk.

Going to hell in a hand basket
Deteriorating rapidly and completely.

Good Samaritan
Someone who helps another out of a sense of compassion for the latter as his or her only motivation and without thought of personal gain.

Green eyed monster

Hands down
Significantly and easily. One who wins hands down does so well ahead of the competition and with little effort.

Hard and fast
Stringently enforced (e.g., rules). Rigidly adhered to.

Head over heels
Excitedly. Turning cartwheels to demonstrate one's excitement.

Heard it through the grapevine
Learned (the news or information) through informal sources or contacts.

High, wide and handsome
In a stylish and carefree manner.

High on the hog
A cut above, well off, affluent.

Hit the ground running
Get off to a fast start. To begin by working hard.

Hoi polloi
Although Greek for "the common people," it is frequently misused to mean the upper class.

Snobbish behavior, pretentious self-importance.

Hold your horses
Slow down. Also, hold on, be patient.

I bear a charmed life
I am always lucky and am safe from danger.

In a pickle
In a quandary, trouble, or difficult situation.

In like Flynn
(To) have high acceptance, be emphatically successful in a relationship, especially of a romantic nature.

In someone's bad books
In disfavor with someone.

In the bag
Almost as good as received. As good as in one's possession.

In the offing
Imminent. Likely to occur soon.

In your face
In a bold and aggressive manner.

Indian summer
A period of sunny, warm weather in the autumn, usually following a period of cooler weather or frost.

It never rains but it pours
When trouble comes, it is often accompanied by several instances of bad luck or misfortune.

Ivory tower
A university or other place of intellectual isolation, or office that is sheltered from commercial pursuits or many practical concerns of everyday life.

Johnny on the spot
Someone who is available and ready when required.

Kangaroo court
A fraudulent or unjust trial/. A court proceeding that denies proper procedures and defense. A bogus court in which the verdict has been decided in advance.

Keep a stiff upper lip
Display fortitude and remain unemotional in the face of adversity.

Keep your chin up
Remain cheerful even in a situation that may be difficult.

Kick the bucket
(To) die.

Kit and caboodle
Everything, all of it.

Knock on wood
A superstitious action to ward off bad luck.

Know which way the wind blows
(To) understand what is happening in changing circumstances.

Labor of love
Work undertaken for pleasure or the benefit of someone and without the expectation of reward.

Lame duck
An elected official who has lost power and influence with others. This may be due to term limits, loss of an election, or phasing out of his or her office.

Lead balloon
An idea that is guaranteed to fail.

Left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing
The communication within an organization is so poor that one part doesn't know what is happening in the other part.

Leopard cannot change its spots
Things cannot change their basic nature.

Let your hair down
Behave in a free and uninhibited way.

Lie low
To remain inconspicuous, to stay out of sight, to bide one's time.

Life's too short
Don't waste your time on things that are not important.

Like a moth to a flame
Irresistibly attracted to something.

Little bird told me
I don't want to reveal who told me.

Living off the fat of the land
Living well.

Lock, stock and barrel
The entire thing. All of one's possessions.

Loose cannon
An irresponsible or reckless person whose behavior endangers all.

Make a beeline for
Go directly towards.

Make no bones about
Have no doubt about, make no objection to. (Used in stating something in a way that permits no doubt.).

Man after my own heart
Someone I can agree with, a kindred spirit.

Many happy returns
Have many more happy days, especially birthdays.

Middle of the road
A course of action that is midway between extremes. Something that is inoffensive or unadventurous.

Milk of human kindness
Concern for people, humane feeling.

Misery makes for (acquaints a man with) strange bedfellows
Circumstances (or Politics, etc.) bring persons together to work who otherwise have little in common.

Delicious. Enough to make one salivate.

Mum's the word
Say nothing. Keep quiet.

My cup runneth over
I have more than sufficient for my needs.

Nail your colors to the mast
To display one's opinions and beliefs. To let others know where you stand on certain issues. Also, to let others see your intention to hold to those beliefs.

Neither a borrower nor a lender be
Don't compromise your personal or working relationships by borrowing or lending of money.

Never the twain shall meet
The two are so different as to be unlikely to unite.

Nine days' wonder
Something that is famous only for a short time. Something that will lose its appeal within a few days.

The details, basics, basic essentials, heart of the matter.

No holds barred
No restrictions or rules of conduct.

Not playing with a full deck
Stupid. Intellectually challenged.

Not worth a tinker's dam
Worthless, ineffective.

Off the record
Told in confidence.

On the QT
Confidential, in confidence, on the quiet.

One-hit wonder
A performer, group or band that is known for only one hit (popular success).

Out of sight, out of mind
It is easy to forget what is absent or out of sight .

Over a barrel
At one's mercy, in one's power.

Paddle your own canoe
Make your own decisions, decide your own fate, act independently.

Paper tiger
Formidable in appearance, but nothing to be afraid of.

Peeping Tom
A voyeur. One who furtively observes others in a state of partial or complete undress for his own gratification.

Pig in a poke
A risky purchase. A purchase made, or goods accepted, without prior inspection.

Pipe down
Be quiet.

Plain sailing
Relatively easy (or easily), without complications.

Play fast and loose
(To) be inconsistent and unreliable. To fail to respect one's promises. To treat something without sufficient care.

Pound of flesh
Something that is owed, the repayment of which is harshly demanded.

Press into service
Induce someone to join the military. Also. To force someone or something to perform.

Pull the plug
(To) stop something, end its operation.

Push the envelope
To go beyond the limits of what is known to be possible. To attempt to extend the currents limits of performance. To go beyond commonly accepted boundaries.

Put a sock in it
(A command to) be quiet.

Put on your thinking cap
Concentrate. Think hard.

Put your back up
Become angry.

Put your nose out of joint
Hurt your feelings.

Raining cats and dogs
Raining very heavily.

Read the riot act
To warn or reprimand forcefully.

Red letter day
Any special day or day of special significance.

Rhyme or reason
Common sense or reasonableness.

Ring down the curtain
End something. Bring it to a close.

Road less traveled
The unconventional or uninvestigated alternative or option.

Rule of thumb
An easily understood, practical method. A means of estimation based on a rough and ready practical rule, rather than on science or exact measurement.

Run out of steam
Ro run out of energy.

Salad days
A time of youthful inexperience, innocence or indiscretion.

Scot free
Without penalty or payment.

Shake a leg
Hurry up.

Shot in the dark
A blind guess. Also, a hopeful attempt.

Sleep tight
Sleep well.

Sour grapes
Denigrating and feigning disdain for something that was actually desired, but not attained or received.

Spin doctor
One engaged in public relations. Also, a publicist or press agent employed to present a particular interpretation of events to journalists.

Make smart and trim, touch up the appearance of.

Steal a march
Gain an advantage over someone.

Stool pigeon
An informant, particularly one for the police.

Swan song
Final performance, final gesture.

Take a back seat
Occupy am inferior position.

Take with a pinch of salt
Accept as true, but only with reservations.

The buck stops here
A decision must be made. Responsibility cannot be passed on beyond this point.

The game is afoot
The process or course of action has begun. The process is in active existence.

Third degree
Aggressive and intensive interrogation to obtain information from a prisoner or extract a confession.

Ticked off
Irritated, angry.

Tickled pink
Pleased, delighted.

Tongue in cheek
(Said) only half seriously and in an ironic manner.

To one's heart's content
To one's satisfaction, to one's complete satisfaction.

Top notch
Luxurious, excellent.

Turn the tables
(To) reverse a situation and gain the upper hand.

Until the cows come home
For a very long, but indefinite, time.

Up a blind alley
On the wrong track. A direction which leads nowhere.

Vanish into thin air
Disappear suddenly and mysteriously.

In relation to.

Wear your heart on your sleeve
Display your emotions openly and freely.

Well heeled
Wealthy. Well-provided with money.

Wet behind the ears
Inexperienced, nave.

Whet your appetite
Stimulate your interest in something, particularly food.

White elephant
A supposedly valuable possession whose cost of upkeep exceeds its usefulness.

Whole nine yards
Completely, all of it, everything.

Writing is on the wall
A sign of impending danger or misfortune.

You can't get blood from a stone
You can't get from something what wasn't there to begin with.

300 other english expressions
editing service site map