Commonly Used Idioms Part – 5

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Here comes the exclusive 5th edition of Idioms. As I explore the language and its endless list of idioms, I often come across a story hidden behind the origin of every idiom – sometimes hilarious, sometimes very interesting.

For example, take ‘Achilles’ heel’ – Achilles was a Greek hero in the Trojan War, who was defeated when his enemy shot him in the heel with an arrow. Legends say that Achilles was invulnerable in all of his body except his heel. So now, when we say something is someone’s Achilles’ heel, it is his/her biggest weakness! Told you – origin of some idioms are very interesting. 🙂

Idiom Meaning Sentence
Catch off guard To surprise someone by doing something one was not expecting One of the larger airlines caught its rivals off guard yesterday by suddenly announcing a cut in fares.
Have money to burn To have a lot of money and spend large amounts on things which are unnecessary Christine’s new boyfriend seems to have money to burn. He’s always buying her extravagant gifts.
House on fire If two people get on like a house on fire, they like each other very much and become friends very quickly: I was worried before introducing my girlfriend to my sister, but when they met, they were a house on fire.
It’s all Greek to me something that you say when you do not understand something that is written or said The phrases written in the letter are all Greek to me.
Achilles’ Heel Weakness or vulnerable point The team is good on attack but defense is their Achilles’ heel.
A high hand oppressively The ruler rules his subjects with high hands.
Jump the gun To start something too soon When we took the test, Tom jumped the gun to gain a lead over others.
Let off steam To release one’s pent up(not expressed or released) emotions The kids can let off steam in the gardens while mum and dad have a relaxing drink
Get out of bed on the wrong side Someone in a bad mood and is easily annoyed all day What’s the matter with you? Did you get out of bed on the wrong side or something?
Cook the book Falsify a company’s financial accounts/records An independent audit showed that they’ve been cooking the books for years.
Couch potato A person who takes little or no exercise and watches a lot of television. During his vacation, he becomes a couch potato.
Full of hot air Full of nonsense Mary’s answer sheet is full of hot air.
Live in an ivory tower Live a life away from harsh realities of life Many professors are said to live in ivory towers. They don’t know what the real world is like.
Pipe down To stop talking Please pipe down and work on your homework.
Know the ropes Informed/aware of all the details of a situation or task Don’t worry about Sara’s taking over that reporter’s job-she already knows the ropes.
A dime a dozen Very common Romantic movies are a dime a dozen.
Dead ringer Looking very similar, duplicate He is a dead ringer of his late grandfather.
To pass the buck To pass the blame, to pass the responsibility Some people try to pass the buck whenever they can to avoid work.
A good Samaritan Someone who tries to help people with their problems Jane is a good Samaritan. She comes to everyone’s’ rescue.
Come to rescue To save someone or something A big donor came to the college’s rescue.
Whole nine yards Entire amount, everything possible She is mortgaging the house, her jewelry, the whole nine yards for his son’s college fees.
Last straw The final point beyond one cannot endure When he came late for the meeting the fifth time in two weeks, that was the last straw for his boss.
In a brown study Lost in deep thoughts She was in a brown study when I called her.
Stand one’s ground Refusing to change one’s position, stand firm despite opposition She was not intimidated by the police and stood her ground and described the burglar.
Cant’ hold a candle to Unable to measure up to someone Mary can’t hold a candle to Ann when it comes to athletics.
One’s salad days A time of youthful inexperience and carefree pleasure  But that was in my salad days, before I got married and had children.

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