1. B.C

Elementary facts:

Ex: He does not know even the A.B.C of political science.

2. A bed of roses:

Full of joys and pleasure:

Ex: To a rich man, life is a bed of roses.

3. A bed of thorns:

Full of sufferings and sorrows:

Ex: To a poor man, life is a bed of thorns.

4. A big gun:

An important figure:

Ex: He is a big gun today

5. A black sheep:

A disgraceful man:

Ex: He is the black sheep of his family, because he has been in prison for several times.

6. A bolt from the blue.

A sudden shock or calamity:

Ex: The sad and untimely death of his young son came to him as a bolt from the blue.

  1. A bone of contention.

A cause of quarrel:

Ex: This small piece of land is bone of contention between the two brothers.

  1. A broken reed:

A person or thing that cannot be depended upon:

Ex: He is only a broken reed, how long can you depend on him?

  1. A burning question.

An important question or topic of the day:

Ex: Third world war is a burning question.

  1. A cat’s paw:

To make’s somebody a tool:

Ex: He used his friend as a cat’s paw to achieve his purpose.

  1. A chicken hearted person:

A cowardly person:

Ex: A chicken-hearted person like him should not think of joining army.

  1. A child’s play:

Something very easy:

Ex: It is not a child’s play to succeed in life.

  1. A clean slate:

A fresh beginning:

Ex: Let us forget all our former  differences and start with a clean slate.

  1. A cock and bull story:

An imaginary of false story:

Ex: Raju invented a cock and bull story to justify his absence.

  1. A cool head:

A calm judgment:

Ex: If you think over problem with a cool head, you will solve it.

16.A dead letter:

No longer in use:

Ex: The Sharada act is now a dead letter.

  1. A drug in the market:

A thing unsaleable due to its lack of demand:

Ex: His books have proved to be a drug in the market.

  1. A fatal disease:

A disease that ends in death:

Ex: Cancer is a fatal disease.

  1. A fish out of water:

To be in a uncomfortable position:

Eg: she feels like a fish out of water in the new school

  1. A fool’s paradise:

State of joy based on false hopes:

Ex: You will be living in fool’s paradise, if you expect to get one lakh of rupees in the lottery.

  1. A happy-go-lucky type:


Ex: He is a happy-go-lucky type

  1. A hard nut to crack:

A problem difficult to solve:

Ex: The refugee problem turned out to be a hard nut to crack for the government.

  1. A hen-packed husband:

A husband under the   control or thumb of his wife:

Ex: He is a hen-pecked husband and has no voice in the family.

  1. A jack of all trades:

A person supposed to know everything but master of none:

Ex: My friend is a jack of all trades, but master of none.

  1. A lion’s share:

A major share:

Ex: He got the lion’s share of his father’s property.

  1. A lame excuse:

False excuse:

   Ex: He invented a lame excuse for not doing his work.

  1. A mare’s nest:

An unfounded rumour or elude:

Ex: The police follower up the clue, but it proved to be mare’s nest.

  1. A queer fish:

A strange person:

Ex: Our new officer is a queer fish, nobody likes his company.

  1. A rainy day:

A time of difficulty or proverty:

Ex:  A wiseman always lays by something against a rainy day.

  1. A red letter day :

An important day:

Ex: The day when our country became free use a red letter day in our history.

  1. A thorn is one’s flesh:

Something or someone that continuously irritates.

Ex: His sister is a thorn in his flesh.

  1. A wet blanket :

A cause of discouragement :

Ex:  Don’t  invite Hari to the party, he is only a wet blanket.

  1. A wash out :

Quite dull:

Ex: He is a complete wash out ;he can not pass this year,

  1. A wind fall:

Unexpected good forture:

Ex: He had a wind fall and suddenly became rich.

  1. A wild goose chase:

A foolish and useless search:

Ex: The hunt for the hidden treasure was nothing but a wild goose chase.

  1. A wolf in a sheep’s clothing :

A deceiver:

Ex: Don’t trust him, he is a wolf in a sheep’s clothing.

37: An iron hand :

Sever hand :

Ex: Akbar put down the revolt with an iron hand.

38: An apple of one’s eye :

An object of love, the most valuable  possession:

Ex: She an apple of her parent’s eyes.

39: At a pinch:

In a difficulty:

Ex: I can never forget him, because he helped me at a pinch.

40: at an arm’s length:

To keep aloof, to avoid; to keep at a distance:

Ex: I keep the gamblers at an arm’s length.

41:at one’s finger’s tips or ends:

To be expert:

Ex: I have all subjects at my finger’s ends or tips; so examination has no fear for me.

  1. at sixes and sevens:
  2. in disorder:
  3. Pell-mell:

Ex: when I came back from the college, I found my books lying at sixes and sevens.

  1. at the eleventh hour:

At the last moment:

Ex: he received some help at the eleventh hour.

  1. Bear a grudge:

To have bitter feeling:

Ex: he bears a personal grudge:

  1. Between the devil and the deep sea:

To be in a fix or between two great difficulties:

Ex: She was between the devil and the deep sea when I met her.

  1. Blow one’s own trumpet:

To speak proudly of one’s oneself:

Ex: I don’t like to talk with him, he ilways blowing his own trumpet.

  1. By hook or by crook:

By all means:

Ex: He will certainly get his work done by hook or by crook.

  1. Capital punishment:

Punishment of death:

Ex: The culprit was awarded capital punishment by the court.

  1. Close shave:

A narrow escape:

Luckily he had a close shave in the motor accident.

  1. Crocodile tears:

False tears:

The step-mother shed crocodile tears at the death of her step-son.

  1. Dead of night:

In the middle of:

ex: Yesterday, a house caught fire at the dead of night:

  1. Foul play:

Bad intensions:

Ex: I suspect a foul play in what he says.

  1. From hand to mouth:

A miserable existence:

Ex: They are living hand to mouth

  1. Grain of salt:

To believe only a part of a statement:

Ex: He is always boasting, so we should take his statement a grain of salt.

  1. Hale and hearty:


Ex: He is over ninety but still hale and hearty.

  1. Hand and glove with:

On very intimate terms

Ex:  Ramu and Anji are hand and glove with each other.

  1. Heart to heart:

Free and frank:

Ex: Unless we have a heart to heart talk, things cannot become clear.

  1. Hide and seek:

To deceive:

Ex: Don’t play hide and seek with your friends.

  1. High spirits:

To be very happy:

Ex: After his marriage Ravi is in high spirits.

  1. Hush money:

The price of silence:

Ex: they were talking against us, but we won them over by means of hush money.

  1. in a nut-shell:


Ex: The prime minister gave an account of the world situation in a nut-shell.

  1. In cold blood:


Ex: Yesterday a man was murdered in cold blood.

  1. In one’s teens:

Between sixteen and nineteen an early age: 16-19:

Ex: Newton was still in his teens, when his father died.

  1. In the face of:

In spite of:

Ex: he did not lose heart even in the face of strong opposition.

  1. In the nick of time:

Just in time:

Ex: the police reached the spot in the nick of time and caught the theif..

  1. Ins and outs:

Full details:

Ex: I want a clerk who knows the ins and outs of this matter.

  1. Odds and ends:

Big and small:

Ex: one the eve of my transfer I left my odds and ends, with a friend of mine.

  1. of no avail:

Of no use:

Ex: we advised him a good deal, but of no avail.

  1. One the horns of a dilemma:

To be in a fix; t    o be puzzled:

I was on the horns of a dilemma when the principal asked me either to leave the college or apologise.

  1. Out of gear:

Out of order:

Ex: the second world war had thrown the economic condition of the world out of gear.

  1. Out of the wood:

Out of danger or difficulty:

Ex: even after for decades, our government is not out of the wood, yet it has many big problems to solve.

  1. Round the corner:


Ex: The summer is just round the corner.

  1. spick and span:

Very neat and tidy:

Ex: the new principal wants every room to be quite spick and span.

74.sweat of one’s brow;

Hard labour:

Ex: he works by the sweat of his brow.

75.swelled head:


Ex: most of the rich man suffer from a swelled head.

76.the printer’s devils:


Ex: in our poetry book there are a number of printer’s devils.

77.through thick and thin:

Under all circumstances:

Ex: his wife stood by him through thick and thin.

78.time hangs heavy on one’s hands:

Difficult to pass time:

Ex: after the examination is over time hangs heavy on one’s hands. add fuel to the fire:

To increase anger:

Ex: he abused his enemy and thus added fuel to the fire.

  1. to be born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth:

To be born in prosperous circumstances:

Ex: lord Buddha was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. be hoisted with one’s petard:

To be killed with one’s own sword:

Ex: in trying to be clever with Russia, hitler was hoisted with his own petard. be wool gathering:

To remain absent-minded:

Ex: his wits have gone a wool gathering, he cannot give you any sound advisee. beat about a bush:

To talk irrelevant:

Ex: you have been beating about the bush for so long; why don’t you tell me that you  cannot pay me just now. beat black and blue:

To beat severely:

Ex: the head master beat the careless boy black and blue and also fined him.

  1. to bell the cat:

To face a risk:

Ex: all can boast of their bravery, but very few can bell the cat.

  1. to bide one’s time:

To wait for a favourable chance:

Ex: he is not really indifferent, but he is only biding his time.

  1. to bring down the house:

To win general praise:

Ex: she brought down the house.

  1. to build castles in the air:

To form imaginary schemes:

Ex: it is no use of building castles in the air. burn one’s boats:

To destroy one’s means of retreat:

Ex: he has burnt his boats by resigning and he has not got another job. burn one’s fingers:

To get into trouble:

Ex: you are sure to burn your fingers by interfering in the affairs of others. burn the mid-night oil:

To work very hard till late at night:

Ex: in order to get scholarship, you will have to burn the mid-night oil for about six months.

  1. to bury the hatchet:

To forget a quarrel to make peace:

Ex: let India and China bury the hatchet and restore peace in the world.

  1. to carry fire and sword:

To cause destruction:

Ex: Hitler carried fire and sword with him.

  1. to carry the day:

To win; to succeed:

Ex: in the inter-college debate, our college carried the day.

  1. to cast a spell over:

Fascinate or attract:

Ex: Rekha’s fine acting cast a spell over the audience.

  1. to chew the cud:

To think deeply:

Ex: philosophers always chew the cud. clinch the issue:

To decide the matter:

Ex: let us clinch the issue ourselves, it is no use knocking at the door of the court. cool one’s heels:

To wait for somebody patiently:

Ex: before you can see the collector, you will have to cool your heels outside. cry for the moon:

To wish for something impossible:

Ex: he is a week student and he wishes to get scholarship, it is only a cry for the moon.

  1. to cry over spilt milk:

No use regretting on past event:

Ex: it is no use of crying over spilt milk.

  1. to curry favour:

To seek to win favour by gifts or flattery:

Ex: students often try to curry favour with their professors by flattering them. dance to one’s tune:

To carry out orders:

Ex: a modern girl is not prepared to dance to the tune of her husband.

  1. to eat humble pie:

To offer an humble apology:

Ex: you will have to eat humble pie for making personal attack on me.

104: to eat one’s words:

To go back on one’s promise:

Ex: he promised to help me, but later on he ate his words.

  1. to fan the flames:

To increase excitement:

Ex: we are afraid the arrest of your leaders may fan the flames.

  1. to fall to the ground:

To come to nothing:

Ex: for want of funds, the scheme fell to the ground.

  1. to fish in troubled waters:

To take advantage of the troubles of others:

Ex: during their stay in india, the English fished in troubled waters.

  1. to fly in the face of:

To insult:

Ex: this peon is so rude that he flies in the face of the officer.

  1. to feather one’s nest:

To care for one’s selfish interest:


  1. to fight shy of:

To attempt to avoid a thing or person:

Ex: I fight shy of air travel because the movements make me sick.

  1. to gain ground:

To progress:

Ex: non-violence is gaining ground in india. get on ones nerves:

To be a source of worry:

Ex: please do not get on my nerves. I am already tired.

  1. to get into a mess:

To get into muddle:

Ex: his accounts seem to have got into a mess. gild the lily:

To adore with lusture something already beautiful and not requiring adornment.

  1. to gird up one’s lions:

To prepare oneself for a work:

Ex: let us give our lazy habits and gird up our lions to fight for our country. give chapter and verse:

To give full proof:

Ex: I can give chapter and verse that social evils are hindrance in the progress of our country. give quarter to:

To have sympathy with:

Ex: we must give quarter to the poor and needy.

  1. to give the cold shoulder:

To receive in a cold and careless manner:

Ex: when I went to him for help, he gave me a cold shoulder. go scot free:

To escape unpunished:

Ex: for want of evidence, the culprit went scot free.

120.To go through fire and water:

To make every sacrifice:

Ex: our national leaders went through fire and water to achieve freedom. go to dogs:

To be utterly ruined

Ex: for want of discipline the college is going to dogs. grease the palm:

To bribe:

Ex: he had to grease the palm to the peon before he got the information. hammer out:

To devise:

Ex: the eighth five year plan has been hammer out.

  1. to hang by a thread:

To be in a miserable condition:

Ex: the murder does not laugh or talk, because his fate hangs by thread.

  1. to hang heavy on one’s head:

Difficult to pass:

Ex: time hangs heavy on my head these days.

  1. to harp on the same string:

To talk continuously of the same matter:

Ex: please stop harping on the same string of your losses, we have our own troubles also. have an axe to grind:

Selfish motive:

Ex: I suspect your friend has an axe of his own to grind.

  1. to have an old head on young shoulders:

Ripe in wisdom but young in years:

Ex: Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose had an old head on young shoulders.

  1. to have clean hands:

To be innocent:

Ex: the magistrate has come to the conclusion that the secretary has clean.

  1. to hit below the belt:

To fight unfairly:

Ex: a sportsman does not hit anyone below the belt.

  1. to hit the right nail on the head:

To guess a right:

Ex: a good detective should hit the right nail on the head.

  1. to hold one’s tongue:

To keep silence:

Ex: please hold your tongue and do your work. keep one’s head above water:

  1. to tied over difficulty:
  2. to escape debt:

Ex: in this days of high prices, the middle class people find it so difficult to keep their head above water.

  1. to keep the wolf from the door:

To keep away hunger and starvation:

Ex: the poor clerks cannot keep the wolf from the door even though they work so hard. laugh in one’s sleeves:

The in secret, but not openly:

Ex: when the professor was humming a tune, the students were laughing in their selves. lead a cat and dog life:

To lead a life of constant quarrelling:

Ex: the old husband and the young wife are leading a cat and dog life.

  1. to let bygones be bygones:

To ignore the past

 Ex: we should let bygones by bygones and start afresh. live in glass houses:

To be open to criticism:

Ex: those who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others.

  1. to make hay while the sun shines:

To make the best use of the opportunity:

Ex: some politicians make hay while the sun shines.

  1. to make neither head nor tail of:

Not to understand:

Ex: he spoke so rapidly that I could make neither head nor tail of his speech. make the flesh creep:

To cause horror:

Ex: suddenly, at the dead of night he saw something that made his flesh creep.

  1. to miss the boat:

To miss a chance:

Ex: if you miss the boat now, you will have to repent throughout your life.

  1. to nip in the bud:

To destroy a thing at the very beginning:

Ex: evil habits should be nipped in the bud.

  1. to pay in the same coin:

To give tit for tat:

Ex: raju insulted me and when the opportunity arose, I paid in the same coin.

  1. to play ducks and drakes with:

To spend lavishly:

Ex: he played ducks and drakes with the money that his father had left him. poke one’s nose:

To interfere with:

Ex: please mind your own business, do not poke your nose into my affairs.

  1. to play with fire:

To do something dangerous:

Ex: those who try to create differences between the hindus and the Sikhs are playing with fire. poison one’s ears:

To prejudice:

Ex: the step-mother poisoned the ears of her husband against her step-son. pick up one’s ears:

To be all attentive:

Ex: when the principal came to address them, they all picked up their ears. pull a long face:

To look sad worried:

Ex: when the head of his failure, he pulled a long face.

  1. to pull one’s legs:

To make a fool of:

Ex: do not pull my legs, I am already sick of you. put a good face:

To bear bear boldly:

Ex: it is no use grumbling, you should put a good face. put in cold storage:

To neglect:

Ex: for want of funds, most of our schemes have been put in cold storage. put one’s foot down:

To show determination:

Ex: he put his foot down to earn on the stocks this time. put one’s shoulders to the wheel:

To help oneself:

Ex: let us put our shoulders to the wheel, how long can we look up to others for help. rack one’s brains:

To think hard:

Ex: I racked my brains for an answer but could think of none.

  1. to read between the lines:

To look for or find information which is not actually stated:

Ex: he does not say so , but reading between the lines. I do not think he likes the idea. rest on one’s laurels:

To rest satisfied with the honours at ready won:

Ex: a greatman like c.v.raman never rested on his laurels.

  1. to rest on one’s oars:

To rest after hard work:

Ex: after the examination he is thinking of going to simla to rest on his oars.

  1. To rise to the occasion:

To be found equal to the task:

Ex: The mill owners rose to the occasion, but filled the demands of the labourers and overted the strike.

  1. To run down:

Tired or exhausted:

Ex: he felt run down so he had a holiday.

  1. To run through:



Ex: all this rate, he will run through all his property.

  1. To sail in the same boat:

To be equally exposed to risk:

Ex: I was much consoled, when I learnt that I hand many other person sailing with me in the same boat.

  1. To save one’s skin:

To be safe:

Ex: everyone desires to save his or her skin.

  1. To see a thing through colored glasses:

To see a thing with a prejudiced mind:

Ex: if you see a thing through coloured glasses, you cannot get at the truth.

  1. To see eye to eye with:

To agree:

Ex: he does not see eye to eye with me in this matter.

  1. To set one’s face against:

To oppose:

Ex: he set his face against the new scheme.

  1. To set the thames on fire:

To try to achieve an impossible distinction:

Ex: hitler’s effort to conquer Russia was nothing short of setting the thames on fire.

  1. To shake in the shoes:

To be in a state of fear:

Ex: when the police brought a warrant of his arrest, he began the shake in his shoes.

  1. To show a clean pair of heels:

To run away:

Ex: at the sight of the police the thieves showed a clean pair of heels.

  1. To show the white feather:

To show signs of cowardice:

Ex: I thought you were a brave man, I never expected you to show the white feather.

  1. To shut one’s eye to:

To ignore:

Ex: We should not shut our eyes to our faults.

  1. To sink fast:

To grow worse and worse:

Ex: send for the doctor, the patient is sinking fast.

  1. To sit on the fence:

To remain neutral:

Ex: India’s policy is not sit on the fence, though she does not belong to any power.

  1. To smell a rat:

To suspect something:

Ex: I smelt a rat from his talk and refused to go with him.

  1. To speak one’s mind:

To speak frankly:

Ex: he did not speak his mind in this matter.

  1. To spread like a sild fire:

To spread rapidly:

Ex: the sad news of his death spread like a wild fire in every nook and corner of India.

  1. To stab in the back:

To strike treacherously:

Ex:while india was busy in the reconstruction work, china stabbed us in the back and launched a massive track.

  1. To stare in the face:

To threaten:

Ex: even when starvation started in the ace he did not lose heart.

  1. To steal a march:

To get the advantage secretly:

Ex: he stole a march on me and my business suffered a slight decline.

  1. To stem the tide of:

To check, to stop:

Ex: the government has not been able to stem the tide of popular discontent.

  1. To step into another’s shoes:

To take another’s place:

Ex: when the principal retires, the vice-principal will step into his shoes.

This entry was posted in English.