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|At arm\'s length |
Keep somebody at arm's length means not allowing somebody to be become to friendly with you or close to you.
At cross purposes
When people are at cross purposes, they misunderstand each other or have different or opposing objectives.
At daggers drawn
If people are at daggers drawn, they are very angry and close to violence.
At death\'s door
If someone looks as if they are at death's door, they look seriously unwell and might actually be dying.
At each other\'s throats
If people are at each other's throats, they are fighting, arguing or competing ruthlessly.
At full tilt
If something is at full tilt, it is going or happening as fast or as hard as possible.
If a criminal is at large, they have not been found or caught.
If people are at loggerheads, they are arguing and can't agree on anything.
At loose ends
(USA) If you are at a loose end, you have spare time but don't know what to do with it.
If you are at odds with someone, you cannot agree with them and argue.
If things are at sea, or all at sea, they are disorganized and chaotic.
At the bottom of the totem pole
(USA) If someone is at the bottom of the totem pole, they are unimportant. Opposite is at the top of the totem pole.
At the coalface
If you work at the coalface, you deal with the real problems and issues, rather than sitting in a office discussing things in a detached way.
At the drop of a hat
If you would do something at the drop of a hat, you'd do it immediately.
At the end of the day
This is used to mean 'in conclusion' or 'when all is said and done'.
At the end of your rope
(USA) If you are at the end of your rope, you are at the limit of your patience or endurance.
At the end of your tether
(UK) If you are at the end of your tether, you are at the limit of your patience or endurance.
At the fore
In a leading position
At the top of my lungs
If you shout at the top of your lungs, you shout as loudly as you possibly can.
At the top of the list
If something is at the top of the list, it is of highest priority, most important, most urgent, or the next in one's line of attention.
At the top of your voice
If you talk, shout or sing at the top of your voice, you do it as loudly as you can.
At your wit\'s end
If you're at your wit's end, you really don't know what you should do about something, no matter how hard you think about it.
At your wits\' end
If you are at your wits' end, you have no idea what to do next and are very frustrated.
An average Joe is an ordinary person without anything exceptional about them.
If someone makes a solemn or serious promise publicly to attempt to reach a certain goal, this is their avowed intent.
Away with the fairies
If someone is away with the fairies, they don't face reality and have unrealistic expectations of life.
Something or someone that is awe inspiring amazes people in a slightly frightening but positive way.
AWOL stands for "Absent Without Leave", or "Absent Without Official Leave". Orignially a military term, it is used when someone has gone missing without telling anyone or asking for permission.
Axe to grind
If you have an axe to grind with someone or about something, you have a grievance, a resentment and you want to get revenge or sort it out. In American English, it is 'ax'.
~ B ~
Babe in arms
A babe in arms is a very young child, or a person who is very young to be holding a position.
Babe in the woods
A babe in the woods is a naive, defenceless, young person.
(USA) A baby boomer is someone born in the years after the end of the Second World War, a period when the population was growing very fast.
If an issue is on the back burner, it is being given low priority.
(UK) If you are on your back foot, you are at a disadvantage and forced to be defensive of your position.
Something that's a back number is dated or out of fashion.
Back the wrong horse
If you back the wrong horse, you give your support to the losing side in something.
Back to back
If things happen back to back, they are directly one after another.
Back to square one
If you are back to square one, you have to start from the beginning again.
Back to the drawing board
If you have to go back to the drawing board, you have to go back to the beginning and start something again.
Back to the salt mine
If someone says they have to go back to the salt mine, they have to return to work.
Back to the wall
If you have your back to the wall, you are in a difficult situation with very little room for manoeuvre.
A backseat driver is an annoying person who is fond of giving advice to the person performing a task or doing something, especially when the advice is either wrong or unwelcome.
A person who is bad and makes other bad is a bad apple.
If people feel hate because of things that happened in the past, there is bad blood between them.
A person who cannot be trusted is a bad egg. Good egg is the opposite.
Bad hair day
If you're having a bad hair day, things are not going the way you would like or had planned.
(UK) When you are bad mouthing,you are saying negative things about someone or something.('Bad-mouth' and 'badmouth' are also used.)
If something's in bad shape, it's in bad condition. If a person's in bad shape, they are unfit or unhealthy.
Bad taste in your mouth
If something leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth, you feel there is something wrong or bad about it.
Bad workers always blame their tools
"A bad worker always blames their tools" - If somebody does a job badly or loses in a game and claims that they were let down by their equipment, you can use this to imply that this was not the case.
Bag of bones
If someone is a bag of bones, they are very underweight.
Bag of nerves
If someone is a bag of nerves, they are very worried or nervous.
A Baker's dozen is 13 rather than 12.
Bald as a coot
A person who is completely bald is as bald as a coot.
Ball is in your court
If the ball is in your court, it is up to you to make the next decision or step.
A ballpark figure is a rough or approximate number (guesstimate) to give a general idea of something, like a rough estimate for a cost, etc.
Banana republic is a term used for small countries that are dependent on a single crop or resource and governed badly by a corrupt elite.
(UK) A banana skin is something that is an embarrassment or causes problems.
An area or an industry, profession, etc, where rules and laws are ignored or flouted is bandit territory.
Baptism of fire
A baptism of fire was a soldier's first experience of shooting. Any unpleasant experience undergone, usually where it is also a learning experience, is a baptism of fire.
A bar fly is a person who spends a lot of time drinking in different bars and pubs.
Bare your heart
If you bare your heart to someone, you tell them you personal and private feelings. ('Bare your soul' is an alternative form of the idiom.)
A barefaced liar is one who displays no shame about lying even if they are exposed.
Bark is worse than their bite
Someone who's bark is worse than their bite may well get angry and shout, but doesn't take action.
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