• By
  • May 27, 2023
  • Soft Skill


IDIOMS or IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS are figurative expressions; a group of words that do not take the literal meaning. They are a common feature of language and are used to convey a particular idea, sentiment, or cultural reference. Idioms are often specific to a particular language or culture and may not make sense when translated word-to-word.

For example, the idiom “kick the bucket” is used to mean “to die.” The literal meaning of “kick the bucket” (to physically kick a bucket) has no relation to its meaning.

Idioms add color, nuance, and richness to a language, allowing speakers to convey ideas more vividly. However, understanding idioms can be challenging for non-native speakers as the figurative meanings may not be immediately apparent.

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Here are a few tips to help you better comprehend idiomatic expressions:

  • Context is the key: Pay attention to the context in which the idiom is used. The surrounding words or sentences can provide clues about its meaning.


  • Consider cultural references: Idioms can be influenced by cultural references, historical events, or folklore. Familiarizing yourself with the culture and history of English-speaking countries can provide insights into the origins and meanings of idiomatic expressions.


  • Analyze individual words: Break down the idiom into its individual words and examine their literal meanings. Sometimes, the combined meanings of the words can help you infer the figurative meaning of the idiom as a whole.


  • Seek explanations and examples: Use resources such as dictionaries, idiom-specific websites, or language learning materials to find explanations and examples of idioms. This can help you grasp their intended meanings and usage.


  • Practice in context: Engage in conversations, read books, or watch movies in English to encounter idioms in real-life situations. The more exposure you have to idiomatic expressions, the better you’ll become at understanding and using them.

Remember that idioms can vary in meaning and usage, so it’s essential to continue learning and familiarizing yourself with different expressions over time. Let’s understand a few of them: 



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Idioms based on people:

  • Dare devil – a reckless and bold person who enjoys doing dangerous things
  • Cry baby – one who cries for small reasons or complains frequently
  • Nutty as a fruitcake –being strange, insane or a crazy person
  • Trouble maker – a person who causes intentional problem for others
  • Oddball  – a unusual, peculiar or strange behavior of a person
  • Cheapskate – a stingy person
  • Barrel of laughs – someone who is funny
  • Old as the hills – one who is very old / old fashioned
  • Black Sheep – one who is considered as worthless or bad in an esteemed family

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Some more to go:

  • Drop somebody a line – If you drop someone a line, you write a letter to them.

E.g.: “Hey, it’s been a while! We should catch up soon. I’ll drop you a line to set up a time to meet for coffee.” 


  • Hear through the grapevine” – If you hear of something through the grapevine, you learn about it informally, for example through friends, colleagues or acquaintances.

E.g.: “How did you hear that? Oh, through the grapevine as usual!”

  • Hit the airwaves – When someone hits the airwaves, they go on radio and/or TV to be interviewed or to promote something.

E.g.: “The charismatic politician hit the airwaves during his campaign with his remarks.” 


  • Hot off the press – If a news article, for example, is hot off the press, it has just been published and contains the most recent information on the subject.

E.g.: “The breaking news about the recent scandal was hot off the press”.


  • Keep someone posted – If a person asks you to keep them posted, they want you to keep them informed about a situation

E.g.: “You need to take some rest as you are unwell; I will keep you posted about today’s meeting.”


  • Megaphone diplomacy – If the media, through press releases, interviews and announcements, is instrumental in facilitating dialogue between two or more countries, this is referred to as megaphone diplomacy.


  • Put someone in the picture – If you give somebody all the information necessary to enable them to fully understand a situation; you put them in the picture.

E.g.:”Before making any decision, I need to put my team in the picture so that all have a clear understanding of the situation”


  • Speed networking –This refers to a relatively new urban trend which consists in making a potential business contact by briefly talking to a series of people at an organized event and exchanging contact details.


  • Spread like wildfire – If something such as news, rumours or gossip spreads like wildfire, it becomes widely known very fast.

E.g.: “The news of the upcoming sale at the mall spread like wildfire”


  • Take the floor – When someone takes the floor, they rise to make a speech or presentation.

E.g.:“After being hesitant for a while, she gained courage and took the floor, and did a great job by enthralling the entire audience with her speech.”

  • Throw it over the wall – If someone throws something over the wall, they deal with part of a problem or project, and then pass responsibility to another person or department without any communication or coordination.

E.g.: “Once the design phase is complete, we’ll throw it over the wall to the development team for implementation.”


  • Touch base – If you touch base with someone, you make contact or renew communication with them.

E.g.:”It is important that I discuss the progress of our project and hence wanted to touch base with my colleague before the meeting. “


  • Word of mouth – Information passed on through conversation is transmitted by word of mouth

E.g.:Publicity done by the word of mouth is the best that any company would want to receive”


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  • Vicious Black – To be in a black mood means to be irritable, angry or even depressed. Can also mean – to be in a bad mood. 


  • In the black – To say that a person or organization is in the black means that they are financially sound, have a positive balance on their account and that they owe no money. 


  • Black and white – to say that something is in black and white means that there is written proof of it.

E.g.: “It’s definitely true! It’s in black and white.” 


  • Black market – The black market refers to the illegal buying and selling of goods or currencies. 


  • Black sheep – The black sheep of the family is one who is very different from the others, and least respected by the other members of the family. 


  • Black gold – Black gold refers to the black colour and high value of oil. 


  • Black tie event – This expression refers to a formal event at which men are required to wear a dinner jacket, or tuxedo, and a black bow tie.


  • Blue around the gills (also green or pale around the gills) – If a person looks blue around the gills, they look unwell or sick.

E.g.: “You should sit down. You look a bit blue around the gills.” 


  • Blue chip Company – This term refers to a company with a solid reputation for the quality of its products and the stability of its growth and earnings.

E.g.: “Low risk takers generally invest in blue-chip companies as it is very safe.” 


  • Blue in the face – If you do something until you’re blue in the face, you try unsuccessfully to do something for a very long time.

E.g.: “I spent hours trying to convince my friend to join me on a road trip until I was blue in the face.”


  • Scream blue murder – Someone who screams blue murder shouts or complains very loudly as if something very serious has happened.

E.g.:” When I accidentally broke my little sister’s favorite toy, she screamed blue murder and ran to tell our parents.”


  • Blue-eyed boy – A blue-eyed boy is somebody’s favourite e.g. he’s the director’s

Blue-eyed boy! 

Out of the blue – If something happens out of the blue, it happens unexpectedly.

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