Dictionary of English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions

НазваниеDictionary of English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Дата конвертации05.02.2016
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Bull market

A bull market is a period when investors are optimistic and there are expectations that good financial results will continue.

Bull session

If you have a bull session, you have an informal group discussion about something.


If you're a bull-headed, you're stubborn or inflexible.

Bun in the oven

If a woman has a bun in the oven, she is pregnant.

Bundle of nerves

Someone who is a bundle of nerves is very worried or nervous.

Burn rubber

If you burn rubber, you drive very fast to get somewhere.

Burn the candle at both ends

Someone who burns the candle at both ends lives life at a hectic pace, doing things which are likely to affect their health badly.

Burn the midnight oil

If you stay up very late working or studying, you burn the midnight oil.

Burn your bridges

If you burn your bridges, you do something that makes it impossible to go back from the position you have taken.

Burn your fingers

If you burn your fingers, you suffer a loss or something unpleasant as the result of something you did, making you less likely to do it again.

Burning question

A burning question is something we all want to know about.

Burst at the seams

To be filled to or beyond normal capacity: This room will be bursting at the seams when all the guests arrive.

Bury the hatchet

If you bury the hatchet, you make peace with someone and stop arguing or fighting.

Bury your head in the sand

If someone buries their head in the sand, they ignore something that is obviously wrong.

Busman\'s holiday

A busman's holiday is when you spend your free time doing the same sort of work as you do in your job.

Bust my chops

When someone says that they're not going to bust their chops, it means they are not going to work that hard or make much effort.

Busted flush

Someone or something that had great potential but ended up a useless failure is a busted flush.

Busy as a beaver

If you're as busy as a beaver, you're very busy indeed.

Busy as a bee

If you are as busy as a bee, you are very busy indeed.

Butter wouldn\'t melt in their mouth

If someone looks as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouth, they look very innocent.


Someone who has butterfingers is clumsy and drops things.

Butterflies in your stomach

The nervous feeling before something important or stressful is known as butterflies in your stomach.

Button your lip

If you button your lip, you keep quiet and don't speak. It is also used as a way of telling someone to shut up.

By a hair\'s breadth

If a person escapes from some danger by a hair's breadth, they only just managed to avoid it. The breadth is the thickness of a hair, so they probably feel somewhat lucky because the margin between success and what could easily have been failure was so close.

By a long chalk

(UK) If you beat somebody by a long chalk, you win easily and comfortably.

By a whisker

If you do something by a whisker, you only just manage to do it and come very near indeed to failing.

By cracky

A term used by rural folks in years past to emphasize a matter of importance or urgency. An example: 'By cracky, you need to get out there in the field with that mule and plow and finish the sod-busting before dark.'

By dint of

This means 'as a result of' or 'because of': It would be good to think he'd risen to position of Chief Executive by dint of hard work.

By heart

If you learn something by heart, you learn it word for word.

By hook or by crook

If you are prepared to do something by hook or by crook, you are willing to do anything, good or bad, to reach your goal.

By leaps and bounds

Something that happens by leaps and bounds happens very quickly in big steps.

By the back door

If something is started or introduced by the back door, then it is not done openly or by following the proper procedures.

By the book

If you do something by the book, you do it exactly as you are supposed to.

By the numbers

If something is done by the numbers, it is done in a mechanical manner without room for creativity.

By the same token

If someone applies the same rule to different situations, they judge them by the same token: If things go well, he's full of praise, but, by the same token, when things go wrong he gets furious.

By the seat of your pants

If you do something by the seat of your pants, you do it without help from anyone.

By the skin of your teeth

If you do something by the skin of your teeth, you only just manage to do it and come very near indeed to failing.

By word of mouth

If something becomes known by word of mouth, it gets known by being talked about rather than through publicity or advertising, etc.

~ C ~

Cake\'s not worth the candle

If someone says that the cake's not worth the candle, they mean that the result will not be worth the effort put in to achieve it.

Calf lick

A calf lick is the weird parting in your fringe where your hair grows in a different direction, usually to one side.

Call a spade a spade

A person who calls a spade a spade is one speaks frankly and makes little or no attempt to conceal their opinions or to spare the feelings of their audience.

Call on the carpet

If you are called on the carpet, you are summoned for a reprimand by superiors or others in power.

Call the dogs off

If someone calls off their dogs, they stop attacking or criticising someone.

Call the shots

If you call the shots, you are in charge and tell people what to do.

Call the tune

The person who calls the tune makes the important decisions about something.

Calm before the storm

A calm time immediately before period of violent activity or argument is the calm before the storm.

Can of worms

If an action can create serious problems, it is opening a can of worms.

Can\'t dance and it\'s too wet to plow

(USA) When you can't dance and it's too wet to plow, you may as well do something because you can't or don't have the opportunity to do anything else.

Can\'t do it for toffee

If you can't so something for toffee, you are incapable of doing something properly or to any sort of standard.

Can\'t hold a candle

If something can't hold a candle to something else, it is much worse.

Can\'t see the forest for its trees

If someone can't see the forest for its trees, they are too focused on specific details to see the picture as a whole.

Canary in a coal mine

(UK) A canary in a coal mine is an early warning of danger.

Card up your sleeve

If you have a card up your sleeve, you have a surprise plan or idea that you are keeping back until the time is right.


A carpetbagger is an opportunist without any scruples or ethics, or a politican who wants to represent a place they have no connection with.

Carrot and stick

If someone offers a carrot and stick, they offer an incentive to do something combined with the threat of punishment.

Carry the can

If you carry the can, you take the blame for something, even though you didn't do it or are only partly at fault.

Case by case

If things are done case by case, each situation or issue is handled separately on its own merits and demerits.

Case in point

Meaning an instance of something has just occurred that was previously discussed. For instance, a person may have told another that something always happens. Later that day, they see it happening, and the informer might say, 'case in point'.

Cash in your chips

If you cash in your chips, you sell something to get what profit you can because you think its value is going to fall. It can also mean 'to die'.

Cast a long shadow

Something or someone that casts a long shadow has considerable influence on other people or events.

Cast aspersion

If you cast aspersion, you try to blacken someone's name and make people think badly of them.

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