Dictionary of English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions




НазваниеDictionary of English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
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Barking up the wrong tree

If you are barking up the wrong tree, it means that you have completely misunderstood something or are totally wrong.

Barkus is willing

This idiom means that someone is willing to get married.

Barrack-room lawyer

(UK) A barrack-room lawyer is a person who gives opinions on things they are not qualified to speak about.

Barrel of laughs

If someone's a barrel of laughs, they are always joking and you find them funny.

Basket case

If something is a basket case, it is so bad that it cannot be helped.

Bat an eyelid

If someone doesn't bat an eyelid, they don't react or show any emotion when surprised, shocked, etc.

Batten down the hatches

If you batten down the hatches, you prepare for the worst that could happen to you.

Battle of nerves

A battle of nerves is a situation where neither side in a conflict or dispute is willing to back down and is waiting for the other side to weaken. ('A war of nerves' is an alternative form.)

Be all ears

If you are all ears, you are very eager to hear what someone has to say.

Be careful what you wish for

If you get things that you desire, there may be unforeseen and unpleasant consequences.('Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true.' and 'Be careful what you wish for; you may receive it.' are also used.)

Be on the pig\'s back

If you're on the pig's back, you're happy / content / in fine form.

Be out in left field

(USA) To be out in left field is not to know what's going on. Taken from baseball, when youngsters assign less capable players to the outfield where the ball is less likely to be hit by a young player. In business, one might say, 'Don't ask the new manager; he's out in left field and doesn't know any answers yet.'

Be that as it may

Be that as it may is an expression which means that, while you are prepared to accept that there is some truth in what the other person has just said, it's not going to change your opinions in any significant manner.

Be true blue

If a person/object/situation is considered to be 'true blue', it is considered genuine.

Be up the spout

(UK) If a woman is up the spout, she is pregnant.

Bean counter

A bean counter is an accountant.

Bear fruit

If something bears fruit, it produces positive results.

Bear market

A bear market is a period when investors are pessimistic and expect finanical losses so are more likely to sell than to buy shares.

Bear the brunt

People who bear the brunt of something endure the worst of something bad.

Beard the lion in his own den

If you confront a powerful or dangerous rival on their territory, you are bearding the lion in his own den.

Beat about the bush

If someone doesn't say clearly what they mean and try to make it hard to understand, they are beating about (around) the bush.

Beat someone to the draw

(USA) If you beat someone to the draw, you do something before they do.

Beat swords into ploughshares

If people beat swords into ploughshares, they spend money on humanitarian purposes rather than weapons. (The American English spelling is 'plowshares')

Beat the daylights out of someone

If someone beats the daylights out of another person, they hit them repeatedly. ('Knock' can also be used and it can be made even stronger by saying 'the living daylights'.)

Beat to the punch

If you beat someone to the punch, you act before them and gain an advantage.

Beating a dead horse

(USA) If someone is trying to convince people to do or feel something without any hope of succeeding, they're beating a dead horse. This is used when someone is trying to raise interest in an issue that no-one supports anymore; beating a dead horse will not make it do any more work.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder means that different people will find different things beautiful and that the differences of opinion don't matter greatly.

Beauty is only skin deep

This idiom means that appearances can be deceptive and something that seems or looks good may turn out to be bad.

Beck and call

Someone who does everything for you, no matter when you ask, is at your beck and call.

Bedroom eyes

Someone with bedroom eyes has a sexy look in their eyes.

Bee in your bonnet

If someone is very excited about something, they have a bee in their bonnet.

Bee\'s Knees

If something is the bee's knees, it's outstanding or the best in its class.

Beeline for

If you make a beeline for a place, you head there directly.

Been in the wars

(UK) If someone has been in the wars, they have been hurt or look as if they have been in a struggle.

Beer and skittles

(UK) People say that life is not all beer and skittles, meaning that it is not about self-indulgence and pleasure.

Before the ink is dry

If people make an agreement or contract and then the situation changes very quickly, it changes before the ink is dry.

Before you can say Jack Robinson

The term Jack Robinson represents 'a short amount of time'. When you do something before you can say Jack Robinson, you do it very quickly.

Beg the question

In philosophy "to beg the question" is to assume something to be true that has not yet been proved. I have seen the idiom also to mean that a question is crying out to be asked.

Beggars can\'t be choosers

This idiom means that people who are in great need must accept any help that is offered, even if it is not a complete solution to their problems.

Behind bars

When someone is behind bars, they are in prison.

Behind closed doors

If something happens away from the public eye, it happens behind closed doors.

Behind someone\'s back

If you do something behind someone's back, you do it without telling them.

Behind the times

Someone that is behind the times is old-fashioned and has ideas that are regarded as out-dated.

Believe in the hereafter

A belief in the hereafter is a belief in the afterlife, or life after death. It is, therefore, associated with religions and the soul's journey to heaven or to hell, whichever way being just deserts for the person based on how they led their life.

Bells and whistles

Bells and whistles are attractive features that things like computer programs have, though often a bit unnecessary.

Bells on

(USA) To be somewhere with bells on means to arrive there happy and delighted to attend.

Belly up

If things go belly up, they go badly wrong.

Below par

If something isn't up to standard, or someone isn't feeling or doing very well, they are below par.

Below the belt

If someone says something that is cruel or unfair, it is below the belt, like the illegal punches in boxing.

Belt and braces

(UK) Someone who wears belt and braces is very cautious and takes no risks.

Belt and suspenders

(USA) Someone who wears belt and suspenders is very cautious and takes no risks.

Bend over backwards

If someone bends over backwards, they do everything they can to help someone.

Bend someone\'s ear

To bend someone's ear is to talk to someone about something for a long-enough period that it becomes tiresome for the listener.

Benjamin of the family

The Benjamin of the family is the youngest child.

Beside the point

If something is beside the point, it's not relevant to the matter being discussed or considered.

Beside themselves

If people are beside themselves, they are very worried or emotional about something. 

Beside yourself

If you are beside yourself, you are extremely angry.

Best of a bad bunch

The best that could be obtained from a list of options that were not exactly what was required.

Best of both worlds

If you have the best of both worlds, you benefit from different things that do not normally go together.

Best thing since sliced bread

If something is the best thing since sliced bread, it is excellent. ('The greatest thing since sliced bread' is also used.)

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