She is low in spirits !!!
Lydia I'm coming from Mary's house.
Sheila How is she ?
Lydia She is low in spirits.
Sheila Why ? What happened ?
Lydia She didn't get through her exam.
Sheila Oh, I'm sorry to hear that.
Explanation :
 

Low in spirits / In low spirits - feeling sad

 
Example : I've been in low spirits ( feeling sad ) lately.


Giving us a lift home !!!
Michelle Mother, can I go for a show with my friends tonight ? We're going to see LAMBADA at Cathay.
Mrs. Lim All right, but don't come back too late after the show.
Michelle We'll return immediately after supper at about 10 p.m.
Mrs. Lim It'll be quite late by then . How are you coming back ? The last bus back here is at 9.30 p.m.
Michelle Auntie Hua is giving us a lift home after her aerobics class.
Explanation :
 

Lift - a free journey in another person's vehicle, especially a car

 
Example : I'll give you a lift to the station if you like.


Popping the question !!!
Beth

How are things with you and Daisy ?

Ashley Things with Daisy and me are great…perfect, actually.
Beth How long have you been seeing each other ? I forgot.
Ashley About two and a half years, and I know we'll eventually tie the knot.
Beth When do you think that will be ?
Ashley Well, I plan on popping the question on her birthday, but don't tell her. It will ruin the surprise.
Beth What exciting news ! My lips are sealed !
Explanation :
 

Pop the question - ask someone to marry you

Example : He picked Valentine's Day to pop the question
 
Tie the knot - Get married
Example : So when are you two going to tie the knot ?


A stone's throw away !!!
Harith Are you doing anything this weekend ?
Suhaimi No, I'm free, unless something crops up. Why ? What do you have in mind ?
Harith I'm thinking of getting Vishnu a present. Would you like to chip in ?
Suhaimi Sure, why not ? Where do you plan to go ?
Harith I thought of going to Parkson Complex. It's a stone's throw away. Besides, the prices are reasonable.
Suhaimi That's great ! I'm trying to cut down on my monthly expenses.
Explanation :
 

A stone's throw away - a short distance

 


Daylight robbery !!!
Mr. Quah How much is this pair of jeans ?
Salesgirl It's only $80.
Mr. Quah What ! That's daylight robbery !
Salesgirl No, sir, that's actually very cheap for a pair of Leevi's.
Mr. Quah Not when you have to foot the bill equivalent to three pairs ! Keep in mind, when you have three teenage sons, they'll demand a new pair every so often !
Explanation :
 

Daylight robbery - a situation in which you are charged a lot too much for something

 
Example : The amount you're asking for this couch is daylight robbery.


A far cry from !!!
Sunita Did you hear about Yvette ? Her boyfriend forgot her birthday and now she's giving him the cold shoulder.
Yuz But don't you feel sorry for the boyfriend ? He's henpecked by Yvette.
Sunita She complains that he's a far cry from her ex-boyfriend.
Yuz Yes, Yvette is never satisfied with what she has.
Explanation :
 

A far cry from - very different from

 
Example : Thinking someone is stupid is a far cry from saying so.
 


A close shave !!!
Siva The journey took us eight hours. We nearly did not make it for the wedding.
Cynthia At least you arrived safely, even if you arrived at the eleventh hour.
Siva There were many accidents on the road. we almost got involved in one. It was a close shave.
Cynthia Drivers need to be patient, especially when traffic is heavy.
Siva I nearly blew my top too. It's not easy to stay calm when you're stuck in a car for eight hours !
Explanation :
 

Close shave ( call ) - when you come extremely close to a dangerous or unpleasant situation or only just manage to avoid it

 
Example :  I had a close shave this morning, - some idiot almost knocked me off my bike.


Lay your cards on the table !!!
Lok Stop it, boys ! We won't get anywhere if we keep on arguing.
Ja Ian, you have something to say ? Lay your cards on the table. Let's see if it is feasible.
Ian I suggest that we take the train there since most of us have never been on one.
Shu That's a sound idea.
Lok Yes, it seems all right to me too. Anyone else game for it ?
Explanation :
 

Lay your cards on the table - be open and honest

 
Example :  John laid his cards on the table and told her how much they could afford.
 


I could eat a horse !!!
Tom Ah ! Finally, we can see some houses.
Nick Yeah, after the long walk, I am dying for a glass of iced lemon tea.
Min Me too.
Tom I want something to eat. I could eat a horse.
Nick Look, fast food !
Min Let's make a beeline for it. I'm famished.
Tom Come on, let's go.
Explanation :
 

I could eat a horse - used to say that you are extremely hungry

 
Example :  I've had nothing but a sandwich all day - I could eat a horse.


Tied down with work !!!
Agatha Doctor, my son seems to be having trouble sleeping. He stays up until 3 or 4 in the morning.
Doctor Is he tied down with a lot of work ?
Agatha Not really. He has the same amount of work as other students. But the problem with him is he dozes off in school.
Doctor The teachers must not be happy. Why don't you suggest listening to some music before bedtime ? Besides that, cut down on television and video games at night.
Agatha I'll try that. Thanks, doctor.
Explanation :
 

Tie down -  to limit someone's freedom

 
Example : He's tied down by having to work every Saturday.


Just around the corner !!!
Mandy The school holidays are just around the corner. What are your plans ?
Leslie I'm heading for New York with my family. What about you ?
Mandy I'm going to California to spend some time with my ex-classmate. It's about time for me to catch up on what he's been doing since he moved there.
Leslie Alright, I'll se you when you get back.
Mandy Bye.
Explanation :
 

Just around the corner -  not far away, going to happen soon

 
Example : Everything is a bit depressing at the moment, but I carry on in the belief that good times are just around the corner.


Can't judge a book by its cover !!!
Pansy Have you heard the news ?
Letitia What ?
Pansy The new guy has been given the sack.
Letitia Why ?
Pansy Remember some of our documents have been going missing ? Well, last night he was caught red-handed stealing them by our security guard.
Letitia I can't believe the culprit is that guy. He seems such a nice man.
Pansy Well, you can't judge a book by its cover.
Explanation :
 

Can't judge a book by its cover -  you cannot know what something or someone is like by looking only at their appearance


Hit the sack !!!
Alan Carl, what's the matter with you ? You look so worn out.
Carl Indeed I am. I've just returned from a camp. I can't wait to hit the sack.
Alan Yes, you do look exhausted. Well, I'd better be getting along then.
Carl Thanks. See you.
Explanation :
 

Hit the sack -  go to bed

 
Example : I usually hit the sack after the eleven o'clock news.
 


Make ends meet !!!
Sandy Have you noticed a change in Vivian lately ?
Gowrie Yes. She looks run down.
Sandy Do you know why ?
Gowrie I heard her husband was laid off three months ago.
Sandy No wonder. How is she managing ?
Gowrie She has taken on two jobs to make ends meet.
Explanation :
 

Make ends meet - to have just enough money to pay for the things that you need

 
Example : On that salary Enid had trouble making ends meet.


Take after !!!
Sally Mark was called up again to Mr. Allen's room. Apparently, he went against his class teacher again.
Joey They say he takes after his elder brother, Bobby. He too used to get into a lot of trouble in school.
Sally But Mark was lucky this time. He was let off with just a warning.
Joey Yes, but when word gets around, he's going to have a bad reputation.
Explanation :
 

Take after - follow the example of, resemble

 
Example : Bill took after his uncle and began working as a volunteer for the Red Cross.


I'm in the dark !!!
Zainal Why is there such a jam today ?
Osman I'm in the dark as well.
Zainal Try moving closer so I can get a better look.
Osman Oh no ! Look, a car has turned turtle.
Zainal Can you make out if anyone's injured.
Osman No, there are too many people there.
Explanation :
 

In the dark - to not know about something that other people know about

 
Example : I was in the dark about their plans.


Hit the sack !!!
Alan Carl, what's the matter with you ? You look so worn out.
Carl Indeed I am. I've just returned from a camp. I can't wait to hit the sack.
Alan Yes, you do look exhausted. Well, I'd better be getting along then.
Carl Thanks. See you.
Explanation :
 

Hit the sack -  go to bed

 
Example : I usually hit the sack after the eleven o'clock news.
Stamp out poverty !!!
Suresh Look at the number of homeless people on the streets. It's sad to see them lying around without a home to go back to.
Alvin I wish there was a way to stamp out poverty.
Suresh Isn't the government responsible for this matter ?
Alvin Well, I think the government is trying to work out a program for them, but you know, the responsibility also lies with all of us. We must not turn a blind eye to the situation.
Explanation :
 

Stamp out - to get rid of something that is wrong or harmful

 
Example : The new legislation is intended to stamp out child prostitution.
 


Wipe out !!!
Remesh Did you watch the documentary on tsunamis last night ?
Charles Yes, it was scary how the tsunami wiped out entire villages.
Remesh So many villages were cut off from rescue teams because roads and bridges were swept away by the raging waters.
Charles Did you see the clip of the family who were having a picnic on the beach in Aceh.
Remesh It was so sad to see how their family outing ended up in tragedy.
Explanation :
 

Wipe out - to destroy something completely

 
Example : One bad harvest could wipe out all of a grower's profits for the previous two years.


Smelt a rat !!!
Father Why is it pitch black in here ?
Wendy There's been a blackout, Dad. Why don't you come to the kitchen ?
  (Father walks slowly to the kitchen.)
Everyone SURPRISE !! Happy Birthday !
Father Thank you, everyone. This is indeed a surprise but I should have smelt a rat when I saw so many shoes outside.
Explanation :
 

Smell a rat - to recognize that something is not as it appears to be

 
Example : He's been working late with her every night this week -- I smell a rat !


Lost your marbles !!!
Mother Have you lost your marbles ? What are you doing dressed like that ?
Ross Oh, Mother ! I'm just trying on a few things for the cocktail party I have to attend.
Mother Why the coat and tie ? Are you going to rub shoulders with some VIPs ?
Ross You never know who's going to be there. I don't want to look like a fish out of water.
Explanation :
 

Lose your marbles - to become crazy


In mint condition !!!
Puvan What's the going price for that stamp ?
Mr. Amos This is a rare stamp but I'm willing to let it go for $500.
Puvan That's too high a price !
Mr. Amos You have to understand, it's still in mint condition. My last offer is $450. Hurry, before it gets snapped up.
Explanation :
 

In mint condition - perfect, excellent condition

 
Example : This car is in mint condition.


He has been told off before !!!
Perry Did you hear that Jonathan has been called to the headmaster's office again ?
Isaac No way !
Perry It's true, he was caught cheating in his exams.
Isaac Why doesn't he learn from his past mistakes ? His parents will be so sad.
Perry Yes. He has been told off before but he doesn't seem to have changed, hasn't he ?
Isaac He should not let his parents down.
Explanation :
 

Tell off - criticize harshly, reprimand

 
Example : It's time someone told her off about her behavior
 


She cannot make it !!!
Prefect Excuse me, is this the Community Service Club ?
Philip Yes.
Prefect I have an announcement to make.
Suresh What is it ?
Prefect Mrs. Lim just called to say that she cannot make it today because something unexpected has come up.
Sara Oh no ! I guess we'll have to put off the meeting until later.
Explanation :
 

She cannot make it - She is not able to come


I am working out !!!
Father What are you doing upstairs, Billy.
Billy I'm working out in my room.
Father Shouldn't you be studying instead ? You really need to brush up on your Maths.
Billy I'll get to that later, Dad. Just give me another 30 minutes.
Father Alright, but you had better start studying by 8.30 p.m.
Explanation :
 

Work out - to exercise in order to improve the strength or appearance of your body

 
Example : Harry works out in the gym two or three times a week.
 


Back on our feet !!!
President I'm sad to say that our club has run out of funds for this year.
Valerie We can always organize more fundraising projects. Why don't we put up a concert ? We'll need volunteers, though.
Jerald That's a good idea. You can count me in to help out.
President That's the spirit ! With such enthusiasm, we'll be back on our feet in no time.
Explanation :
 

Back on ( our ) feet - to be healthy again after a period of illness

 
Example : "We'll soon have you back on your feet again, " said the nurse.


The teacher's pet !!!
Class Monitor The class party next Saturday has been called off.
Sue Why ?
Class Monitor Apparently, Mrs. Chan is very angry that no one turned up for the planning meeting last Monday.
Lynne Don't worry, I'll talk it over with her. I'm sure she'll understand.
Sue Yes, Lynne, you should go and see Mrs. Chan. You are, after all, the teacher's pet.
Explanation :
 

Teacher's pet - a student in a class who is liked best by the teacher and therefore treated better than the other students


Look it up in our address book !!!
Mrs. Nai Dear, I ran into Mandy just now. She needs to borrow this cake mixer.
Mr. Nai And what has this to do with me ?
Mrs. Nai I'm hoping you can drop off the cake mixer on your way to work.
Mr. Nai Sure, but I don't know where she lives.
Mrs. Nai Just look it up in our address book by the telephone. Thanks, dear.
Explanation :
 

Look it up - to try to find a piece of information by looking in a book or on a computer

 

Example : If you don't know what the word means, look it up in a dictionary.

 


Throw away a golden opportunity !!!
Suria Why did you turn down the promotion at your office ?
Dina I really wanted the job but I couldn't get along with the boss.
Suria What's wrong with him ?
Dina He's too demanding.
Suria All bosses expect a lot from employees. You do realize that you're throwing away a golden opportunity, don't you ?
Dina Don't worry, I know what I'm doing.
Explanation :
 

Throw away - to waste an opportunity

 

Example : She's thrown away her inheritance on all kinds of foolish enterprises.


Cut up !!!
Jeffrey What has happened to Adam ? I haven't seen him for awhile.
Samuel He was caught playing truant and smoking in the school premises. Apparently, he picked up the habit when he fell in with the wrong crowd in school.
Jeffrey No wonder he hasn't been coming to school regularly. Has he been suspended ?
Samuel Yes, for two weeks. I met his father yesterday. He was quiet cut up about his son's behavior.
Jeffrey This is unfortunate. Adam used to be a good student. We must help him when he returns.
Samuel Yes, we must.
Explanation :
 

Cut up - distressed, upset

 

Example : Philip was very cut up about his grandmother's death.


Warm up to you !!!
Salsa Hi, Ellen. I'm Salsa. How are you coping with your change in environment ?
Ellen Well, it is a little different here from my former school. I'm from a small town, you see, and I find that people here are not as friendly as they are back home. I find I cannot get along with many of our classmates.
Salsa Don't worry. I think most of them are just as shy as you are. They'll soon let up and eventually warm up to you. Come, I'll introduce you to them.
Ellen Thank you, I'd really appreciate that
Explanation :
 

Warm up to - Become friendlier

 

Example : I had a hard time warming up to my mother-in-law


Stand in for him !!!
Class Monitor Pay attention everyone. Mr. Lee is away on a course, so tomorrow Mr. Roy will stand in for him.
Stanley Mr. Roy ? But we can never understand what he's saying. He speaks too softly.
Class Monitor There's nothing we can do about it. Whether you like him or not, you have to put up with him until Mr. Lee comes back.
Stanley I guess you are right.
Explanation :
 

Stand in - to do the job that another person was going to do or usually does because they cannot be there

 

Example :  Paula stood in for Jane, while Jane was on holiday.

 


Cut up !!!
Jeffrey What has happened to Adam ? I haven't seen him for awhile.
Samuel He was caught playing truant and smoking in the school premises. Apparently, he picked up the habit when he fell in with the wrong crowd in school.
Jeffrey No wonder he hasn't been coming to school regularly. Has he been suspended ?
Samuel Yes, for two weeks. I met his father yesterday. He was quiet cut up about his son's behavior.
Jeffrey This is unfortunate. Adam used to be a good student. We must help him when he returns.
Samuel Yes, we must.
Explanation :
 

Cut up - distressed, upset

 

Example : Philip was very cut up about his grandmother's death.


Warm up to you !!!
Salsa Hi, Ellen. I'm Salsa. How are you coping with your change in environment ?
Ellen Well, it is a little different here from my former school. I'm from a small town, you see, and I find that people here are not as friendly as they are back home. I find I cannot get along with many of our classmates.
Salsa Don't worry. I think most of them are just as shy as you are. They'll soon let up and eventually warm up to you. Come, I'll introduce you to them.
Ellen Thank you, I'd really appreciate that
Explanation :
 

Warm up to - Become friendlier

 

Example : I had a hard time warming up to my mother-in-law


Stand in for him !!!
Class Monitor Pay attention everyone. Mr. Lee is away on a course, so tomorrow Mr. Roy will stand in for him.
Stanley Mr. Roy ? But we can never understand what he's saying. He speaks too softly.
Class Monitor There's nothing we can do about it. Whether you like him or not, you have to put up with him until Mr. Lee comes back.
Stanley I guess you are right.
Explanation :
 

Stand in - to do the job that another person was going to do or usually does because they cannot be there

 

Example :  Paula stood in for Jane, while Jane was on holiday.


Top of the line !!!
Customer

Can you recommend some hair-care products ? I want to get rid of these split ends.

Stylist These are SuperHair products. They are top of the line. They are a little more expensive, but they're worth every penny.
Customer How much is the conditioner ?
Stylist One bottle is $650.
Customer OK. I'll take a bottle of the conditioner.
Explanation :
 

Top of the line - The best in a range of similar products

 

Example :  This is just one example of the top of the line medical products on the Internet.


They need to be hemmed !!!
Customer I'd like to get these pants altered.
Clerk Do they need to be shortened or lengthened ?
Customer I need them shortened about 5 centimeters.
Clerk Please put them on, and I'll mark where they need to be hemmed.
Customer Alright. I'll be out in a moment.
Explanation :
 

Hem - An edge or border on a piece of cloth, especially a finished edge, as for a garment or curtain, made by folding an edge under and stitching it down.

 

Example :  I need to hem those curtains.


I'm getting goosebumps !!!
Paula This movie is so scary. I'm frightened to death !
Leo Paula, this isn't scary ! This movie is for little kids !
Paula No it's not... oh, no! That monster is horrible! I'm getting goosebumps !
Leo That "monster" is just a cute little elf ! What's the matter with you ?
Paula I've never been good with scary movies. They really freak me out.
Leo You should try to relax. It's not real, it's just a movie !
Paula But how can you be so sure? Maybe this is a documentary and you don't even know it ...
Leo No more of such nonsense ! How can this be a documentary ?
Explanation :
 

Goosebumps - small, raised lumps that appear on the skin because of cold, fear or excitement

 

Example :  You're cold - look, you've got goosebumps !


The world is your oyster !!!
Suzanne

I'm so depressed.

Leonard Why ? What's wrong ?
Suzanne I don't know. I am afraid I don't have much of a future.
Leonard What are you talking about ? You're young, smart, and talented. The world is your oyster.
Suzanne You really think so ?
Leonard Sure ! I'll bet you will even become famous someday.
Suzanne But if I'm famous, I'll have to try to avoid photographers all the time.
Leonard Okay, but –
Suzanne I'll never have a moment's peace. They'll invade my privacy.
Explanation :
 

The world is your oyster - Everything is going well

 

Example :  I was younger then, and the world was my oyster.

 


Worm out of !!!
Elizabeth Are you going to help me with my cleaning today ?
Philip Oh, I can't. I, uh... I have to go volunteer at the hospital. I promised them I would.
Elizabeth The hospital ? You ?
Philip Yeah, I thought it would be a nice gesture.
Elizabeth You're not going to volunteer ! You're just trying to worm your way out of helping me.
Philip How could you say that ?
Elizabeth You hate hospitals ! And plus, you're obviously dressed to play basketball !
Philip Um, I told them I'd help them start a hospital basketball team.
Elizabeth Nice try, but do you think I would believe that ?
Explanation :
 

Worm out of - make one's way by artful or devious means

 

Example :  She can't worm out of this situation.

 


A can of worms !!!
Sam How's it going, Carol ?
Carol Not bad. But I had a weird conversation with Paul this morning.
Sam What happened ?
Carol We were just talking nicely, but then I asked him about his wife.
Sam Oh, no. You shouldn't have opened a can of worms.
Carol Yeah, I know. He spent about half an hour telling me about it.
Sam What did he say ?
Carol Well, I guess she's hanging out with some rock stars in town.
Sam Oh, no.
Explanation :
 

A can of worms - A complex unexpected problem or unsolvable dilemma

 

Example :  Tackling the budget cuts is sure to open a can of worms.


Lone wolf !!!
Eddy Jack is kind of a lone wolf.
Sam I know. Always by himself. He doesn't even talk to anybody.
Eddy Maybe he's shy, or maybe he has nothing to say.
Sam All the girls think he's so interesting and mysterious, though.
Eddy I know, they talk about him all the time.
Sam You know, maybe he's onto something big with that silent-type idea. I'm going to try it for myself.
Eddy How are you going to try it ?
Explanation :
 

Lone wolf - A person who prefers to do without the company or assistance of others.

 

Example :  Her nursery school teacher described Beth as a lone wolf, an assessment her parents found astonishing.


Top dog !!!
Simon Hey, you ! Tuck in your shirt. This is an office, not a party !
Chris What ? Who do you think you are ?
Simon I'm Simon, the filing clerk.
Chris Well, I'm the boss !I'm the top dog around here ! 
Simon Oh. Well, I still think you should tuck in your shirt.
Chris Ha, ha ! You're very responsible. I'm going to promote you to assistant manager.
Simon Great ! Now, listen to me for a minute. Tuck in your shirt, or you're fired.
Chris Now you're really going too far.
Explanation :
 

Top dog - a person who is in charge


Bark up the wrong tree !!!
Alex I'm sure that Cynthia took my candy.
Mike Cynthia ? There's no way she took it.
Alex I think she did ! She was at school yesterday.
Mike So was everyone else! It's a big school.
Alex She likes candy.
Mike Lots of people like candy. I think you're barking up the wrong tree.
Alex Wait a minute. Why are you so sure she didn't take it ?
Explanation :
 

Bark up the wrong tree - Waste one's efforts by pursuing the wrong thing or path

 

Example :  If you think I can come up with more money, you're barking up the wrong tree.


In the doghouse !!!
Samuel How's your wife these days ?
Gary Well, I don't know. I'm kind of in the doghouse.
Samuel Why is she angry with you ?
Gary I don't know! All I said was that she's not looking so great now.
Samuel You said that? What were you thinking ?
Gary Well, it's true! I wasn't lying.
Samuel There are some things you just keep to yourself.
Explanation :
 

In the doghouse - someone is annoyed with you and shows their disapproval

 

Example :  I'm in the doghouse - I broke Sara's favorite vase this morning.


Straight from the horse's mouth !!!
Patty We're having a test tomorrow in math class.
Jenny What ! Where did you hear that ?
Patty It came straight from the horse's mouth.
Jenny Mr. Peterman said that ? But we have no time to study !
Patty I know.
Jenny I have badminton practice after school. What can I do ?
Patty I know ! Challenge him to a badminton game. If you win, he changes the date.
Explanation :
 

Straight from the horse's mouth - from a reliable source

 

Example :  I have it from the horse's mouth that he plans to retire next month.


Came to your senses !!!
Ronald See ! The directions are difficult to understand.
Debbie Yes, you're right.
Ronald I'm glad you finally came to your senses and stopped blaming everything on me.
Debbie Actually, you didn't ask for help until it was too late. So, in a sense, it's still your fault.
Ronald Whatever. Look, there's the street !
Debbie Great ! At least we found it in the end.
Ronald Yep. Thanks to you.
Explanation :
 

Come to one's sense - Return to thinking or behaving sensibly and reasonably; recover consciousness

 

Example :  I wish he'd come to his senses and stop playing around.


You're a snob !!!
Pete I never watch foreign films. They're too boring.
Sandy Pete, you have no taste. You think First Blood is a good movie.
Pete Hey, it is ! A lot of people like that movie !
Sandy  I'm sorry, but it's a bad movie. The plot is stupid, and the script is poorly written.
Pete Face it, you don't like action movies because you're a snob.
Sandy No, I don't like action movies because I'm cultured !
Explanation :
 

Snob - One who looks down on others considered to be less important

 

Example :  It is difficult to like and trust a snob because you never know why a snob wants to be your friend.


Keep straight !!!
Robin I am so glad I caught you at home. I need your help!
Harry What's up, Robin ?
Robin Cafe au lait, cafe latte, cappuccino, cafe mocha ... I can't keep them all straight !
Harry Slow down. What are you talking about ?
Robin It's about a girl. No, an angel! I'm going to the coffee shop where she works right now.
Explanation :
 

Keep straight - To avoid confusing or mixing up something

 

Example :  Their names all sounded the same to me at first, and I had trouble keeping straight who was who.


When pigs fly !!!
Freddy Can you give me 500 dollars ?
Sharon Sure I can. When pigs fly.
Freddy But I would give my friends 500 dollars if they really need it.
Sharon I asked you for 500 dollars two weeks ago, and you said no !
Freddy I thought it would be bad for you to borrow money. It's better for you to learn how to manage your resources.
Sharon That's ridiculous !
Freddy Now I'm trying to teach you the importance of generosity. So, 500 dollars, please.
Sharon I wish I could teach you the importance of leaving me alone.
Explanation :
 

When pigs fly - never

 

Example :  Sure he'll pay for the drinks -- when pigs fly.


Pig out !!!
Joe Look at all this food. I'm going to pig out !
Fannie Oh, no. Not again.
Joe Remember last time at this restaurant, when I ate so much I had to go to the hospital ?
Fannie Unfortunately, yes, I do remember.
Joe And then at the hospital I got another milkshake at the cafeteria ?
Fannie Can we just forget about it ?
Joe I was surprised they put my picture in the newspaper for that, though. I guess I'm kind of a hero, in a way.
Fannie That's a very peculiar kind of heroism, Joe.
Explanation :
 

Pig out - to eat a lot or too much

 

Example :  We pigged out on all the lovely cakes and pastries.

 


The rat race !!!
Fiona Every day, it's the same old thing.
Joey What do you mean ?
Fiona Take the bus, go to work, punch in, punch out. What's the point ?
Joey Well, you know, make money, do a good job. That sort of thing.
Fiona Well, I'm just not interested in the rat race.
Joey What would you rather be doing ?
Fiona I'd like to be making movies.
Joey Fiona, you hardly ever watch movies. And when you do, you don't pay attention.
Fiona Well, if I made a movie, I would pay attention to it !
Explanation :
 

The rat race - a way of life in modern society, characterized by people competing with each other for power and money

 

Example :  He decided to get out of the rat race, and went to work on a farm.


Like lambs to the slaughter !!!
Kim

Did you see the sales team going downstairs after work ?

Carey They had to sit through a four-hour meeting with their boss.
Kim I can't believe they didn't refuse ! They didn't even complain.
Carey They followed Mr. Jones like lambs to the slaughter.
Kim I heard that Terry fell asleep during the meeting.
Carey I know. Mr. Jones got even with him, though.
Kim What did he do ?
Carey He balanced three paper cups on Terry's head and posted pictures on the company website.
Explanation :
 

Like a lamb to the slaughter - If a person does something or goes somewhere like a lamb to the slaughter, they do it without knowing that something bad is going to happen and therefore act calmly and without fighting against the situation.

Kangaroo court !!!
Tony

John should be put in jail for calling me a moron.

Mark I think you might be going too far.
Tony Anyone who would say that is crazy, and a danger to society !
Mark I think he was only kidding.
Tony I want you, Albert, and Sue to make him defend himself against my accusations.
Mark And if he refuses ?
Tony Then, we'll have to fine him or imprison him in the broom closet.
Mark I think this kangaroo court is a terrible idea, you moron.
Explanation :
 

Kangaroo court - an unofficial court of law set up by a group of people, especially in a prison, trade union or other organization, to deal with a disagreement or with a member of the group who is considered to have broken the rules


A wolf in sheep's clothing !!!
George

That candidate seems to be a good choice.

Thomas I know. What an honest face he has !
George I'm telling everyone to vote for him.
Thomas Well, don't bother telling Sandy. She thinks he's a wolf in sheep's clothing.
George How could she think that ? Didn't she see him holding a baby on TV ?
Thomas I guess she thinks he's only trying to get elected.
George No one would hold a baby just to get more votes.
Thomas Well, I would.
Explanation :
 

A wolf in sheep's clothing - a person who hides the fact that they are evil, with a pleasant and friendly appearance

 


Black sheep !!!
Billy

My sister's coming to visit on Sunday.

Todd That's nice. Will your family be happy to see her ?
Billy Well, yes, but they're a little worried. She's a bit of a black sheep.
Todd Why's that ?
Billy Everyone else in the family is studying to be a lawyer or doctor.
Todd What does she want to do ?
Billy Nothing at all. She's just fooling around.
Todd I see what you mean.
Explanation :
 

Black sheep - a person who has done something bad which brings embarrassment or disrespect to their family

 
Example :  He's the black sheep of the family.


He's such a fox !!!
Marie What do you think of the cute new guy ?
Betty The new guy in the shipping department ? He just sits around and tells jokes all day.
Marie But he's such a fox !
Betty Who cares ? I'm too busy to worry about that these days.
Marie You need to relax and have some fun. You work too hard.
Betty Maybe you're right. But I'm trying to get promoted to general manager.
Marie Well, you don't have to worry about that anymore.
Betty Why ? 
Marie The new guy just got the position.
Explanation :
 

Fox - A sexually attractive person

 


Gets my goat !!!
Jessie

Hey Shirley, what's wrong ? You look kind of bummed out.

Shirley I really can't stand gym class. Mrs. Smith said I run as fast as a potato.
Jessie She said that ? Wow, I don't think you're that bad.
Shirley Yes, she said it in front of everyone. She really gets my goat.
Jessie Still, that's a pretty funny joke…
Shirley Jessie ! Would you please stop laughing ? I am not a potato !
Explanation :
 

Get sb's goat - to greatly annoy someone

 

Example :  : That sort of attitude really gets my goat.

 
Like a bat out of hell !!!
Jena

Watch where you're going, Jake ! How rude !

Rick What's wrong, Jena ?
Jena Jake just came running out of the classroom like a bat out of hell.
Rick Really ? I wonder where he was going so quickly.
Jena Who knows ? Anyway, he should have been careful. He almost knocked me over.
Rick Hm. Well, it is lunch time. Maybe he was just too hungry to wait.
Explanation :
 

Like bat out of hell - moving extremely fast

Feast your eyes on !!!
Yang I think I need a new notebook...
Eddie Why? Is there some new, cool computer out on the market ?
Yang You bet there is. Feast your eyes on this puppy !
Eddie That's a notebook ?
Yang Believe it !
Eddie It looks more like a toy, or a cool briefcase !
Explanation :
 

Feast one's eyes on - Be delighted or gratified by the sight of

 

Example :  : I'm feasting my eyes on this new sculpture -- it's wonderful.

On the dole !!!
Barry Rags to riches, right ? I read she was on the dole when she wrote the first book.
June Now look at her. She's a billionaire.
Barry I guess the true magic at work involved her computer rather than a wand and a broom.
June Now you can't tell me you don't like her story.
Barry I get enough of Harry Potter from my children. Besides, I'm a Lord of the Rings man, myself.
June How can you compare them ? Harry Potter is way better.
Barry Tolkien wrote Lord of the Rings fifty years before Harry Potter, thank you very much.
Explanation :
 

On the dole - Receiving regular relief payments from or as if from the government

 

Example :  : If I can't find any work within a month, I'll have to go on the dole.

 
Like a bear with a sore head !!!
Dave

Hey, Lynne. Why do you look so nervous ?

Lynne I have to talk to Mr. Gerry about taking a vacation today.
Dave Do you really have to do it today ? After he heard about Margaret quitting, he has been like a bear with a sore head.
Lynne Oh, well, maybe I'll wait until tomorrow then.
Dave Good idea. He's going golfing this afternoon. That always seems to cheer him up.
Lynne Thanks for the advice, Dave. I really appreciate it.
Explanation :
 

Like a bear with a sore head - to be in a bad mood which causes you to treat other people badly and complain a lot

 

Example :  You're like a bear with a sore head this morning. What's wrong with you?

Monkey business !!!
Mrs. Lee

What are you doing, Kenny ? You're supposed to be helping me clean.

Kenny I'm tired of cleaning the house, Mom. I want to have some fun.
Mrs. Lee After you finish your chores, you can go outside and play.
Kenny Why can't I go play now ? It's such a nice day outside.
Mrs. Lee I've had enough of your monkey business. Get back to work.
Kenny OK, Mom, I'll finish cleaning. But afterwards, I'm going outside.
Explanation :
 

Monkey business - behavior which is not acceptable or is dishonest

 

Example :  The teacher suspected that there had been some monkey business going on in the class.

I'm just monkeying around with it !!!
Marco What happened to your radio ? Did it break ?
Dana Yeah. I've been trying to fix it, but nothing seems to work.
Marco You know how to fix radios ? I never knew that.
Dana Actually, I don't. I'm just monkeying around with it, and hoping I'll get lucky.
Marco Don't you think you're making the problem worse ?
Dana It's all right. I hate this radio anyway
Explanation :
 

Monkey around - to behave, or to use or move things, in a silly and careless way

 

Example :  The children were bored and started monkeying around.

Put us on the map !!!
Lawrence Everyone, listen up. We just got a contract from The Jones Company.
Kenny Wow ! That's terrific. This will really put us on the map.
Lawrence I'm excited, too. To celebrate, we're going to take a company trip next month. We need to start planning it right away. Any ideas for destinations ?
Cathy The mountains are really nice right now. We could go skiing.
Lawrence Alright, perfect. We'll need to coordinate transportation and lodging. Cathy will be in charge of planning the trip. Good job, everyone.
Explanation :
 

Put sth/sb on the map - to make a thing or person famous

 

Example : The governor has managed to put this sleepy southern state in America on the map.

Up to speed !!!
Wendy Hi, there. What did you want to see me about ?
Lucy It looks like they're short on employees in the Sales Department. You're the most experienced here, so we'd like to transfer you.
Wendy But I've never done any sales work before. I'm not sure I'm qualified.
Lucy You've got good communications skills and you're familiar with our products. That's all you need.
Wendy It's OK with me.
Lucy Great. Your new supervisor, Danny, will get you up to speed.
Explanation :
 

Up to speed - Have all the information about something and be able to do it well

 

Example : Before we start the meeting I'm going to get you up to speedwith the latest developments.

Get it sorted out !!!
Connie There you are, Steve. We need to talk.
Steve What's up, Connie ?
Connie The new computers haven't arrived and the mess still hasn't been cleaned up from the party. You have to do something.
Steve I'm sorry, Connie. I've been very busy outside the office. I can't be in two places at once.
Connie Well, we can't work under these conditions, Steve.
Steve Don't worry. I'm here now. I'll get it sorted out.
Connie I hope so. Productivity is very low in this office right now.
Explanation :
 

Sort out - to find a solution to a problem

 

Example : Did you sort out the mess ?

 
Hold the fort !!!
Delia How's business, Dick ?
Dick Pretty good, but busy. My father's been ill, so I've had to take over his business as well.
Delia I'm sorry to hear that. What kind of company is it ?
Dick He ran a little hardware store in my hometown. I'm just trying to keep it afloat while he recovers.
Delia Well, let me know if you need any help.
Dick I will, but I've got Robert managing my company while I'mholding down the fort here. I'm sure things will be fine.
Explanation :
 

Hold the fort - Assume responsibility, especially in another's absence; also, maintain a secure position.

 

Example : Harry did a good job of holding the fort until his boss recovered.

Push comes to shove !!!
Stan

Regarding new employees, I'd really appreciate your suggestions.

Carrie Why don't you hire a headhunter ?
Stan They can be expensive. For now, I'm hoping to recruit through the Internet and through word of mouth.
Carrie I'm not sure what Timothy's doing. You might give him a call.
Stan Thanks. I will. Let me know if there are any others you think of.
Carrie Sure thing. And, if push comes to shove, you can try going to a career fair.
Stan I'll probably have to. Thanks, Carrie.
Explanation :
 

( When/If ) push comes to shove - When matters must be confronted, when a crucial point is reached

 

Example : If push comes to shove, the Federal Reserve Chairman will lower the interest rate

In a while !!!
Stephen Hi, Karen, it's Stephen.
Karen Hi, Stephen. I haven't heard from you in a while.
Stephen Well, I've been busy. I've started my own company.
Karen Wow. What kind of business is it ?
Stephen Just a little Internet startup. I'm recruiting staff and I want you to come work for me.
Karen Actually, I just got started working at the old company again.
Stephen I didn't realize you were going back. Well, can you recommend someone else ?
Explanation :
 

In a while - after a period of time, usually a moderately short time

 

Example : Go ahead, I'll along in a while.

I'm completely strung out !!!
Ken

Johnny, I can't take it anymore.

Johnny What do you mean, Ken ?
Ken The stress of this job is killing me. My whole department is quitting, and I'm not getting any support. I'm completely strung out.
Johnny These changes are hard on all of us.
Ken Well, I've had enough. I quit.
Johnny You can't quit on us now. Who will handle all the new employees that are coming in ?
Ken I'll be happy to help with the transition, but then I'm out of here.
Explanation :
 

Strung out - physically or emotionally exhausted

 

Example : Everyone was so strung out last night at the concert.

Day in day out !!!
Diana

Terry, I'm giving my notice. I'll be leaving the company in two weeks.

Terry Okay. Is there any particular reason ?
Diana I've just gotten so bored with doing the same old thing day in and day out.
Terry Don't you think there's any variety in your job ?
Diana Some, but my duties are very limited. I need to try something new.
Terry Do you have a new job yet ?
Diana I'm looking into a few different things.
Terry Well, good luck with your job hunt.
Explanation :
 

Day in day out - every day

On a whim !!!
Evelyn Fred, I just found out some great news.
Fred What's that, Evelyn ?
Evelyn You know how I've always wanted to be a professional photographer ? Well, I just got a job at Fashion Magazine.
Fred Wow, Evelyn. I didn't even know you were looking for another job.
Evelyn Well, I wasn't really, but I applied on a whim.
Fred Congratulations. When will you be leaving ?
Evelyn They want me to start at the beginning of next month. I'll be happy to help find my replacement.
Explanation :
 

On a whim - a sudden desire or idea, especially one that cannot be reasonably explained

 

Example : We booked the holiday on a whim.

Keep it under wraps !!!
Dave Marie's been spending a lot of time with Jim lately.
Nicky Yeah, she's crazy about him. They've been on five dates already.
Dave Really ? How long have they been together ?
Nicky A couple of weeks. They're keeping it a secret, though.
Dave How come ?
Nicky They're worried about the boss finding out.
Dave That's a good idea. There are rules against co-worker relationships. Too bad they trusted you with their secret.
Nicky Hey, I wouldn't tell just anyone. I know you'll keep it under wraps.
Explanation :
 

Under wraps - concealed or secret

 

Example : Let's keep this theory under wraps until we've tested it sufficiently.

He's a handful !!!
   
Sue Good afternoon, Jessica. How's the baby ?
Jessica He's a handful, but very healthy.
Sue You know, you're looking great. I'm amazed you were able to get back into such good shape so soon after having a baby.
Jessica Oh, you're too nice, Sue.
Sue No, I mean it. You really look terrific. What's your secret ?
Jessica I don't know. I have been trying to exercise a lot, I guess.
Sue Well, whatever you're doing, it's working.
Jessica If you keep this up, I'm going to start blushing.
 
Explanation :
 

Handful - a person, often a child, who is difficult to control

 

Example : Her older son is fine but the little one is a bit of a handful.

Work up the courage !!!
   
Peggy Oh, there goes Albert. He's cute, isn't he ?
Gina So, you think Albert is cute, huh ? Why don't you ask him out ?
Peggy I can't do that. He's my co-worker.
Gina So what ? A little office romance never hurts anybody.
Peggy I don't even know if he's interested. He might not even know who I am.
Gina Well, there's only one way to find out. Ask him if he'd like to go for a drink with you.
Peggy I'll see if I can work up the courage.
 
Explanation :
 

Work up sth - to develop an emotional and physical state

 

Example :  It's strange, but I can't work up any enthusiasm for going on this trip.

Give us a heads up !!!
   
Jean Hey, these bonuses aren't as big as last year.
Ronnie No, not nearly as big. What a letdown !
Jean I wish they had at least given us a heads up about this.
Ronnie I agree. This won't cover the price of a plasma TV.
Jean Or the balance on my credit card. What are you going to do ?
Ronnie I guess I'll have to save up a little longer for the TV.
Jean That's too bad. Hopefully, the bonuses will be back to normal next year.
 
Explanation :
 

Heads up - Information or notification, especially in advance

Pay off my credit card !!!
   
Lyndon We get our bonuses today. I can't wait.
Alicia Me neither. Do you have any special plans for yours ?
Lyndon I'm going to the store to buy a huge plasma TV. I've already got it picked out.
Alicia Cool ! You must have been planning this for a while.
Lyndon Believe me, I have. So, what about you ?
Alicia Oh, nothing exciting. I'll probably just pay off my credit card.
Lyndon Well, that's much more sensible than my plan.
Alicia Maybe, but it's much less entertaining.
 
Explanation :
 

Pay off - Pay the full amount on a debt or on wages

 

Example :  Leon pays off the workers every Friday evening.

 
It comes in handy !!!
   
Julie Is there anything in particular I should bring to the convention ?
Alex Make sure you've got your convention materials.
Julie OK. Are you taking your laptop with you ?
Alex Yes, I find it comes in handy.
Julie What will the level of dress be ?
Alex Business casual, mostly. However, we'll be meeting with a client. Make sure you have a professional-looking outfit for that.
Julie Anything else I should do ?
Alex Leave some room in your bag. You're going to get a lot of complimentary goodies.
 
Explanation :
 

Come in handy - be useful

 

Example :  Don't throw those bottles away - they'll come in handy for the picnic next Sunday.

Show you the ropes !!!
   
Lynn It's time to start our first web application project. Scott wants me to show you the ropes so we can do it together.
Nina I'm not much for software programming.
Lynn That's OK. We'll learn as we go. Now, here's the template for the project.
Nina That looks complicated. Can you break it down for me ?
Lynn Of course. I'll do a demo for you so that you can get a feel for the process.
Nina That'll be great. Then, I'll be happy to give it a try.
 
Explanation :
 

Show sb the ropes - to show someone how to do a job or activity

 

Example :  Lynn spent an afternoon showing the new girl the ropes.

Walk you through !!!
   
Miller Nora, I'm putting you in charge of a new project. I want you to create some web applications for our marketing product line.
Nora Alright, sir. I don't know much about programming for the Internet.
Miller That's OK. I'm bringing in an online application instructor. He'llwalk you through the basics.
Nora Sounds great. I've always wanted to pick up online designing.
Miller Great. Take some time to hone your skills and then show me what you can do in two weeks.
Nora Will do, boss. Thanks !
 
Explanation :
 

Walk someone through - Instruct someone carefully, one step at a time

 

Example :  He was very helpful, walking me through all the steps in this complex computer program.

Fill in for you !!!
   
Parker Hi, Tanya. You busy ?
Tanya I'm just finishing something up. What can I do for you ?
Parker I'm supposed to represent our department at the strategy meeting, but I need to take the day off tomorrow.
Tanya I see. So you want me to fill in for you ?
Parker Could you ? That'd be a big help.
Tanya Yeah, no problem. Just email me the agenda beforehand.
Parker Thanks, Tanya. You're a lifesaver. I owe you one.
 
Explanation :
 

Fill in - to do someone else's work for them because they cannot or will not do it themselves

 

Example :  Volunteers would fill in for teachers in the event of a strike.

Kick it into high gear !!!
   
Jeremy How are those layouts coming ?
Janet Slowly but surely. I don't know if we'll finish on time.
Nicole We're doing our best to get them over and done with. We'll keep you posted.
Jeremy OK, well, it's time to kick it into high gear. The deadline's tomorrow.
Nicole I know. We've already got the pedal to the metal.
Jeremy I know you do. Thanks, you two. Good luck finishing up.
Janet We're going to need all the luck we can get.
 
Explanation :
 

High gear - A state of maximum activity, energy, or force.

 

Example :  The political campaign is finally moving into high gear.

Run yourself into the ground !!!
   
Nancy

Hey, Jessie. Can we talk about the ABC contract ?

Jessie Sorry, I can't talk now. I've got to get over to Sales for a meeting with Ted.
Nancy Haven't you already met with Sarah and Jason today ?
Jessie Yeah, I've been running all over the place lately.
Nancy Why are you so in demand ?
Jessie Since Charlie's out of the office this week, I'm his mouthpiece at these meetings.
Nancy Be careful that you don't run yourself into the ground.
 
Explanation :
 

Run yourself into the ground - to make yourself very tired by working too hard

 

Example :  We ran ourselves into the ground to meet the July deadline.

Out of it  !!!
   
Bryce Whitney, were you able to get those new designs finished ?
Whitney Nope. Sorry, Bryce. I haven't been able to focus for the past few days.
Bryce Why no ? What's the matter ?
Whitney I broke up with my boyfriend last week. Ever since, I've been out of it.
Bryce Breaking up can be rough, and I'm sure you'll feel better soon.
Whitney I just have to get my head together.
Bryce Of course you will. In the meantime, I'll help you out with the new designs. Do you want to take any time off ?
 
Explanation :
 

Out of it - confused or disoriented

 

Example :  He had no idea where he was or had been; he was totally out of it.

On second thought !!!
   
Jack Hi, Tom. As Senior VP, I have to deal with the poor efficiency of this department.
Tom All right. What do you have in mind ?
Jack Well, first of all, you should stop the projects you're working on and go to an efficiency seminar.
Tom But we are pretty busy right now. Is there another way we can accomplish your goals here ?
Jack Maybe we should fire the staff and hire new employees.
Tom On second thought, an efficiency seminar might help. I'll try to arrange for it.
 
Explanation :
 

On second thought(s) - to change a decision you have made

 

Example :  I'd like a cup of coffee, please - actually, on second thoughts, I'll have a beer

Out of line !!!
   
Bradley Hi, Rosemary. I wanted to talk to you about yesterday.
Rosemary Oh, it was nothing. You don't have to say anything.
Bradley No, I really owe you an apology. I was way out of line.
Rosemary Well, I was surprised by your reaction. It's not like you to be so brash.
Bradley I know. I haven't been myself lately. Can you forgive me ?
Rosemary Of course. It's water under the bridge.
Bradley I'm relieved to hear that. Thanks for being so understanding.
Rosemary Any time. See you later !
 
Explanation :
 

Out of line - behave in an unsuitable way

 

Example :  It was made quite clear to me that if I stepped out of line again I'd be out of a job.

Ran me over !!!
   
Billy Hey, you nearly ran me over. Why don't you watch where you're going ?
Jasmine Sorry, Billy. I didn't see you coming out of that office.
Billy Then maybe you should go get a new pair of glasses.
Jasmine That's totally uncalled for. It was an accident.
Billy I guess you're right. I'm just stressed out, that's all.
Jasmine We all are, but it's no reason to be that rude.
Billy I'm really sorry. I was still inappropriate.
Jasmine It's all right, Billy. No worries.
 
Explanation :
 

Run over - Knock down, pass over

 

Example :  The car ran over our dog.

Fat cat !!!
   
Alain Hi, Joe. Wow, is that a new car ?
Joe Yep. It's a Ferrari.
Alain I can see that ! It's so cool.
Joe I use this one on weekdays, and I have another one for weekends.
Alain It seems like you're living like a real fat cat these days.
Joe Not really. I'm borrowing money, so I can rent these from the shop.
Alain But why ?
Joe Well, if I'm going to be broke, I want to do it with style !
 
Explanation :
 

Fat cat - someone who has a lot of money

 

Example :  The report criticized boardroom fat cats who award themselves huge pay increases.

No spring chicken !!!
   
Mary Let's go dancing.
Kelly No way. I've got to take it easy tonight. I'm no spring chicken, you know !
Mary Kelly, you're only 34. What are you talking about ?
Kelly Well, I'm getting old. I've got to think about slowing down.
Mary You've relaxed for a while - you haven't gone out in three weeks.
Kelly I've got to think about my family, may be having grandchildren ...
Mary Grandchildren ? You're not even married !
Kelly Yes, but time flies by so quickly. Before you know it, we'll be in our graves.
Mary This is depressing. I'm going dancing. See you later !
 
Explanation :
 

No spring chicken - no longer younger

 

Example :  Sally's no spring chicken, but she plays a fine game of tennis.

Thanks for the heads-up !!!
   
Frankie I got your email today, Jenny.
Jenny Oh, good. So, what do you think ?
Frankie It was a little confusing. Do you want to meet on Thursday or Friday ?
Jenny Friday. I guess I didn't express myself very well.
Frankie Yeah. Sometimes your emails can be pretty long and disorganized.
Jenny Oh, I didn't realize that. Thanks for the heads-up.
Frankie It's not a big problem. It would just be better if you could be more concise.
Jenny I see what you mean.
 
Explanation :
 

Heads-up - Information or notification, especially in advance

 

Example :  Gave me the heads-up on the new security measures.

A brief rundown !!!
   
Claire

Hello, everyone. Williams and I will start by giving you a brief rundown.

Williams Thanks. First of all, one department has stood out this quarter.
Claire That's right. Marketing has done very well with some of their recent projects.
Williams The numbers for the quarter show that marketing revenue has increased by 22 percent and that all other departments have reached their revenue goals.
Claire Good job this quarter, everyone. Congratulations for doing so well.
Williams Now, let's take a look at the agenda.
 
Explanation :
 

Rundown - a detailed report

 

Example :  Here's a run-down on/of the activities of our ten biggest competitors.

Clock in, clock out !!!
   
Cara

OK, one more challenge for my first day. How do I use the time card machine ?

Nigel It can be kind of tricky at first.
Cara Yeah, and I'm not used to clocking in and out.
Nigel All you have to do is press the "In" button when you arrive at work and the "Out" button when you're going home.
Cara Then I stick my card in the top ?
Nigel Exactly. You should also punch in and out at lunchtime.
Cara I'm clocked out. Thanks!
 
Explanation :
 

Clock in - to record the time you arrive at work on a special machine

Clock out - to leave work, especially by recording the time you leave on a special machine

In the works !!!
   
Jane

Hello, Mr. Lin. I'm Jane Stevens. The receptionist told me to come see you first.

Mr. Lin Welcome, Jane. We're glad you'll be working with us.
Jane What do I need to do to get started ?
Mr. Lin Well, we've got some paperwork for you to fill out.
Jane What will I be working on ? They weren't very specific in the interview.
Mr. Lin I'll let your supervisor, Mr. Wang, talk to you about that. We have some great projects in the works right now.
Jane Well, I'm very excited.
 
Explanation :
 

In the works - in preparation, under development

 

Example :  He assured her that a follow-up campaign was in the works.

Turn up your nose !!!
   
Edmond

Would you like to go hiking this weekend ?

Jessie Why don't we go to the mall instead ?
Edmond But I have some new hiking gear I want to try out.
Jessie Yes, but there's a sale at the department store.
Edmond Jessie, you always turn your nose up at anything I want to do.
Jessie It's not you, Edmond. It's the outdoors. I hate it. I prefer air-conditioned stores instead.
 
Explanation :
 

Turn up your nose - to not accept something because you do not think it is good enough for you

 

Example :  They turned their noses up at the only hotel that was available.

Shoot off your mouth !!!
   
Alvin

I'm going to play ball today.

Janet Did you shoot off your mouth and challenge Darren to a game ?
Alvin Yes, he kept saying he'd beat me.
Janet Come on, Alvin. Why not leave him alone ?
Alvin No way ! He'd think I'm a wimp.
Janet Well, he's a much better player than you are.
Alvin I know, but fortune favors the brave.
 
Explanation :
 

Shoot off your mouth - Speak indiscreetly; also, brag or boast

 

Example :  Marco is always shooting off his mouth about how many languages he speaks.

Exciting as watching paint dry !!!
   
Carina

Did you attend the art history lecture at the museum ?

Alison Yes. I went last night.
Carina How was it ? I bet it was really exciting.
Alison It was about as exciting as watching paint dry.
Carina So, you wouldn't recommend it ?
Alison If you're tired and you can't fall asleep, you should go.
Carina In that case, I know I'll enjoy it. You know, I'm into art history.
 
Explanation :
 

Exciting as watching paint dry - used to refer to an activity that you consider extremely boring

 

Example :  "So you don't want to watch the football?" "To be honest I would rather watch paint dry".

Wake-up call !!!
   
Nancy My dad was taken to the hospital last night.
Annie Is he all right ?
Nancy He is fine now, but he thought he was having a heart attack.
Annie Did he ?
Nancy No, he ate 30 of my Mom's dumplings. He just had heartburn.
Annie Not so bad.
Nancy Yeah. It was a real wake-up call for him, and now he's going to eat more carefully.
 
Explanation :
 

Wake-up call - a sign or warning

 

Example :  The rise in unemployment has given a wake-up call to state 

Toe the line !!!
   
Robin Now that we're roommates, we're going to have to do things differently.
Dick What do you mean ?
Robin We're going to have to split all the bills down the middle.
Dick Sure. No problem !
Robin You say that now, but make sure you toe the line.
Dick Don't worry, Robin. Have I ever let you down ?
Robin Do you want me to honestly answer that ?
 
Explanation :
 

Toe the line - do what is expected

 

Example :  The new director will make us toe the line, I'm sure.

Until I'm blue in the face !!!
   
Kim I don't know what to do about my father.
Ray What's wrong with him ?
Kim It's his health. He doesn't take care of himself.
Ray Have you tried talking to him ?
Kim I could talk to him till I'm blue in the face, and it wouldn't work.
Ray What about his doctor ?
Kim His doctor is his golf buddy, so they're always lying to each other.
 
Explanation :
 

If you say or shout something until you are blue in the face, you are wasting your efforts because you will get no results

 

Example :  You can tell her to tidy her room until you are blue in the face, but she won't do it.

Test the water(s) !!!
   
Ben Do you think your friend Alice will go out with me ?
Martha I don't know. Why don't you ask her ?
Ben I'm scared she'll turn me down.
Martha But you'll never know if you don't make the effort.
Ben Can you ask her if she likes me ? You know, just to test the water.
Martha Why don't you just jump in ?
Ben The water might be too hot.
 
Explanation :
 

Test the water(s) - to find out what people's opinions of something are before you ask them to do something

Get all ducks in a row !!!
   
Mandy All right. All of our travel plans are set.
Reese Two weeks in the Caribbean is going to be so cool.
Mandy You'd better get all your ducks in a row at work before you go.
Reese Everything's already taken care of.
Mandy Tomorrow we just have to go get our visas.
Reese Afterwards, we need to get our flight tickets at the travel agent's office.
Mandy I'm just excited that we're finally going.
 
Explanation :
 

Get/Have all ducks in a row - to organize things well

 

Example :  I thought Mike was extremely smart and always had his ducks in a row.

 

Smoke like a chimney !!!
   
Sammy Did you have fun on your date ?
Lucy Not at all ! I wouldn't date Carl again if he were the last man on Earth.
Sammy It couldn't have been that bad.
Lucy You weren't there. The entire evening, he smoked like a chimney. I probably have cancer now.
Sammy Did he try to kiss you ?
Lucy Yes, and I felt like kissing an ashtray.
 
Explanation :
 

Smoke like a chimney - Smoke heavily

Not set in stone !!!
   
Sophia What are you doing this weekend ?
Taylor I'm going to the movies and out to dinner with some friends.
Sophia Oh, I was hoping you'd help me move into my new apartment.
Taylor Well, my plans aren't set in stone, so I think I can help you then.
Sophia That would be wonderful.
Taylor Thanks. Besides, once you move, I can hang out at your place.
 
Explanation :
 

Not set in stone - not fixed yet

 

Example :  These are just a few ideas - nothing is set in stone yet.

Set my sights on !!!
   
Evan

You work so hard. Don't you ever take a vacation ?

Stanley Yeah, but I'm saving up for a car.
Evan Really ?
Stanley Yeah. I've had my driver's license for years, but I haven't had a car.
Evan What type of car do you want ?
Stanley I've set my sights on a Proton Wira.
Evan Cool ! That's a perfect car to take me out in. Make sure it's blue. I look good in that color.
 
Explanation :
 

Set one's sight on - Have a goal

 

Example :  She's set her sights on law school.

Like clockwork !!!
   
Murphy I'm going to miss the 8:00 train to K.L Main Station.
Francis There'll be another one coming very soon.
Murphy Are you sure ?
Francis Of course. These trains run like clockwork. They're always on time.
Murphy I hope so. My boss gets upset when I clock in late.
Francis In fact, one will be coming in less than five minutes.
Murphy I've got to fly ! I don't want to miss that one, too.
 
Explanation :
 

Like clockwork - very regularly, at exactly the planned times

 

Example :  Since the recent improvements to the service, the buses are running like clockwork.

Let your hair down !!!
   
Bill

You're awfully uptight.

Sheila I've got a lot on my mind.
Bill What ?
Sheila There's a lot going on in my life right now – work, family, boyfriend.
Bill Well, it's the weekend. You should just let your hair down and relax.
Sheila I'll try, but it's hard to put everything out of my mind.
Bill Let's go to the movies. Getting lost in a movie always helps me unwind.
 
Explanation :
 

Let your hair down - Drop one's reserve or inhibitions, behave casually or informally

 

Example :  Whenever the two sisters get together, they let their hair down and discuss all their problems.

In the dark !!!
   
Blake I just heard that Kate got married.
Leo Yeah. None of us had any idea.
Blake Tell me about it. I was really surprised. She left us all in the dark.
Leo Are you getting her a present ?
Blake I don't think we have to.
Leo Really ?
Blake From what I heard, a baby present might be a better idea. It was a bit of shotgun wedding.
 
Explanation :
 

In the dark - not knowing about something, uninformed

 

Example :  They kept me in the dark about their plans.

Rob Peter to pay Paul !!!
   
Mattie

I need to get some money off my credit card at the ATM.

Tyler What for ?
Mattie I need to pay another credit card bill.
Tyler Do you think that's a good idea ? Basically, you're robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Mattie I know, but I have no choice.
Tyler Can't you get a loan ?
Mattie I don't think I can get one.
 
Explanation :
 

Rob Peter to pay Paul - Take from one to give to another, shift resources

 

Example :  They took out a second mortgage on their house so they could buy a condo in Florida--they're robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Put my nose to the grindstone !!!
   
Adrian

You've been working really hard lately.

Stephanie I'm taking your advice.
Adrian I've noticed that, and so has Fayne.
Stephanie Now that I'm putting my nose to the grindstone, I'm actually enjoying my work more.
Adrian That's good to hear. You have a bright future with this company.
Stephanie Thank you, Adrian. I hope so.
Adrian Your future is so bright that I'll have to wear shades.
 
Explanation :
 

Keep one's nose to the grindstone - Stay hard at work

 

Example :  We expect John to get good grades again, since he really keeps his nose to the grindstone.

Read me the riot act !!!
   
Merilyn

You're running late.

Daniel I overslept.
Merilyn I bet your manager won't be too happy with you.
Daniel You're right ! He's going to read me the riot act when I get in.
Merilyn Maybe it won't be as bad as you think.
Daniel Oh, it will be. I've been late four times this week.
 
Explanation :
 

Read someone the riot act - Warn or reprimand forcefully

 

Example :  When he was caught throwing stones at the windows, the principal read him the riot act.