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burn one`s bridges behind one
- do something that makes going back impossible
He burned his bridges behind him and is unable to work in the same industry again.
burn the candle at both ends
- work or play too hard without enough rest
He has been burning the candle at both ends with his work and his studies. That is why he became sick.
burn the midnight oil
- study until very late at night
We burned the midnight oil for three nights in a row in order to study for the exam.
- burn completely (usually things not buildings)
The uniforms burned up in the fire.
bury (hide) one`s head in the sand
- refuse to see or face something, keep from seeing or knowing something unpleasant
He always buries his head in the sand and never wants to deal with his family problems at all.
bury the hatchet
- stop quarreling and become friendly with someone
He decided to bury the hatchet with his brother and they are now on friendly terms again.
butter someone up
- flatter someone
He is trying to butter up his boss so that he can leave early on Friday.
buy a pig in a poke
- buy something without seeing it or knowing if it will be satisfactory
You shouldn`t buy that car without first inspecting it. It is like buying a pig in a poke.
by and large
- on the whole, considering everything
By and large we had a good meeting even though it was a little short.
by and by
- before long
By and by they will come and we can go out for dinner.
- greatly, by a great margin
He is by far the smartest person in the company.
by fits and starts
- irregularly, with many stops and starts
By fits and starts the company was finally able to begin business.
by hook or by crook
- in any way necessary
She says that she will go to Italy this year by hook or by crook.
by the way
By the way, could you please bring your computer tomorrow.
by the skin of one`s teeth
- by a very small margin, barely
I made the application date for the job by the skin of my teeth.
by the sweat of one`s brow
- by hard work
He managed to make enough money to buy the farm by the sweat of his brow.
- an action that may fail but has a good chance to succeed
They took a calculated risk when they opened the new store but it has been very successful.
call a spade a spade
- speak bluntly
He was calling a spade a spade when he began to criticize his employee for being lazy.
call for someone
- come and get someone
Could you please come and call on me before you go to the game.
call it quits
- stop, finish
He called it quits and went home for the day.
call of nature
- the need to go to the toilet
He is answering the call of nature and can`t talk to you for a few minutes.
The game was called off because of the rain.
- visit someone
I plan to call on my brother when I am on my holidays.
- ask someone to participate or contribute something
The teacher called on me three times to answer questions in the class.
call on to the carpet
- call someone before an authority to be scolded or reprimanded
He was called on to the carpet by his boss for losing the major sale.
call someone`s bluff
- challenge someone to prove what they say is true
I decided to call his bluff and asked him to show me the evidence.
call the shots
- be in charge, give orders
He is now calling the shots and is in control of the company.
He said that he would call up his parents tomorrow night.
She finally calmed down after the accident.
- destroy the effect of something
The benefits of her exercise were cancelled out by her always overeating.
can of worms
- a complicated situation or problem
The lawsuit opened up a can of worms for the company.
can`t see the forest for the trees
- unable to judge or understand the whole picture because you are looking at the small parts of it
He has no real understanding of most problems as he always fails to see the forest for the trees.
card up one`s sleeve
- a plan or argument kept back to be produced if needed
I think that he has a card up his sleeve and will be able to help us later.
(in) care of someone
- send something to one person at the address of another person
I sent the parcel to her in care of her friend at the university.
carrot and stick
- the promise of reward and threat of punishment at the same time
The trade negotiators took a carrot and stick approach to the automobile talks.
(get) carried away
- lose control or judgement due to strong feelings
I got a carrried away and began to yell at her for losing my textbook.
- continue, keep doing as before
We were permitted to carry on with the party after we had talked to the landlord.
carry (something) out
- put into action, accomplish
The move to the new headquarters was carried out with a minimum of problems.
- save for another time
We plan to carry over the summer swimwear until next year.
carry the ball
- take the most important or difficult part in an action or business
The vice-president was forced to carry the ball while the president was away.
carry the day
- win or be successful
His fine performance in our company carried the day for us.
carry the torch
- show loyalty to a cause or a person
He has been carrying the torch for the candidate for a long time.
- put a plan into action
The company carried through with their plan to layoff 300 workers.
(a) case in point
- an example that proves something or helps to make something clear
What he just said was a case in point about what I have been saying all year.
- a good source of money
His new business is a great cash cow. I think that he is really making a lot of money.
- exchange something for money
We decided to cash in the coupons because we needed some money.
cash in on
- see and profit by a chance
The small town cashed in on their success with the winter Olympics.
cash on the barrelhead
- money paid when something is bought
It was a cash deal and we were forced to pay cash on the barrelhead.
cast pearls before swine
- waste something valuable on someone who doesn`t appreciate it
Giving her the gold earrings was casting pearls before swine.
cast the first stone
- be the first to blame someone
He was the one to cast the first stone and now he is having a major fight with his neighbor.
castles in the air
She is always building castles in the air and is very unrealistic.
- a burglar who enters a building by climbing a wall etc.
We lost our stereo when a cat burglar entered our apartment.
cat gets one`s tongue
- can`t talk
I think that the cat has got her tongue. She hasn`t said anything at all since the meeting started.
- a situation where whatever you do the outcome will be bad, a no-win situation
It was a catch-22 situation where if I went to work there would be problems but if I didn`t go to work there would be more problems.
catch a cold
- become sick with a cold
I caught a cold because of the rain and the cold weather.
- in any way possible
We are in the middle of moving house so the meals when you visit will be catch-as-catch-can.
- understand, learn about
It was difficult to catch on at first but finally I was able to understand the math problem.
- become popular
Recently ballroom dancing has begun to catch on among many people.
catch one`s breath
- stop to rest and regain one`s normal breathing
After running from the station it took a moment to catch my breath.
catch one`s eye
- attract one`s attention
I tried to catch her eye but she didn`t notice me.
catch (someone) red-handed
- find someone in the middle of doing something wrong
He caught the boy red-handed when he was stealing the candy.
catch up with (someone or something)
- become even with someone (in a race or in schoolwork etc.)
I think it`s too late to catch up with the rest of the class now.
- not having enough of something when you need it (usually money)
I was caught short last week and couldn`t pay the weekly food bill.
- to weaken and be forced to give up
The company finally caved in to the union`s demand for more money.
The stock prices of the company chalked up a big gain last week.
change horses in midstream
- make new plans or choose a new leader in the middle of an important activity
They decided to change horses in midstream and that is probably why they lost the election.
change of heart
- change the way one feels about something
She had a change of heart and decided to let her child go to the circus.
change (one`s) mind
- change one`s decision
He changed his mind and said that he would not go to the movie tonight.
change (one`s) tune
- make a change in one`s story,statement or opinions
He has begun to change his tune recently and is beginning to agree that we need to do things a little differently.
(in) charge of something
- be responsible for an activity or group of people
He is in charge of selling tickets for the school dance.
cheat on (someone)
- be unfaithful to someone
He recently began cheating on his wife which was the main cause of their divorce.
(have the) cheek to do something
- rudeness, impudence
She had the cheek to tell me that she was sick and couldn`t come to work today.
cheek by jowl
- side by side, in close intimacy
They were walking down the stairs cheek by jowl when the alarm sounded.
chew the fat
The two men were chewing the fat on the porch of the house.
chew out (someone)
- scold roughly
The teacher chewed out the student for talking in class.
- a small amount of money
What he sold his car for was chicken feed compared to the amount of money that he has in the bank.
- stop doing something because of fear
He chickened out of jumping into the lake from the high diving board.
chickens come home to roost
- words or acts come back to cause trouble for a person
Her chickens have finally come home to roost and she must now take responsibility for what she has done.
- join in (a song or conversation)
We were having a nice conversation until she chimed in and started complaining about everything.
- contribute or pay jointly
We all chipped in and bought our father a present.
chip off the old block
- person who looks or acts like one of his parents
His son is a chip off the old block and acts exactly like his father.
(when the) chips are down
- the time when one faces the greatest obstacles
When the chips were down he went to his father for advice and received his encouragement.
- stop talking
She clammed up as soon as her boyfriend entered the room.
clean bill of health
- the assurance that an animal or person is healthy
The astronaut was given a clean bill of health before he began training.
- having no errors, past acts that are all good
He started off with a clean slate and has never caused any problems for the company.
clear the air
- calm down and remove a misunderstanding
We had a big argument so I think it is time to clear the air.
clear the decks
- clear away things and prepare for action
Let`s clear the decks and get everyone out of the house so we can begin work.
- solve or explain (a problem etc.)
They finally cleared up the problem that I was having with my salary at work.
- sports event or movie where the outcome is uncertain until the very end
The playoff game was a cliffhanger and one of the most enjoyable games of the year.
climb the wall
- be so bored that you become anxious and frustrated
She began to climb the wall after only a few days at her new job.
- a low-class business where people are cheated
They went into a clip joint near the bus station and had to pay a lot of money.
clip someone`s wings
- limit one`s activities or possibilities
They decided to clip his wings and took away his expense account.
- an accident almost happens (but doesn`t happen)
I had a close call this morning when the truck almost hit me.
- come together for fighting, unite and work together
They decided to close ranks and stop arguing among themselves
close to home
- near to someone`s personal feelings, wishes or interests
What I said about her work habits must have hit close to home as she seemed to become very quiet suddenly.
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