Common Idioms - I

Idioms - I

idiot box

- television set

He sits in front of the idiot box all day and never gets any work done.

if the shoe fits, wear it

- if what is being said in general describes you then it probably means you

He was complaining that most of the workers at his company were lazy. However his friend looked at him and said that if the shoe fits, wear it.

if worst comes to worst

- if the worst possible thing happens

If worst comes to worst we can cancel our holiday and go next year.

ill at ease

- feel nervous/uncomfortable

He appeared to be ill at ease during the interview.

in a bind

- in trouble

They will really be in a bind if they can`t sell their house by next month.

in advance

- ahead of time

They bought the tickets in advance so that they could get a good seat.

in a family way

- pregnant, going to have a baby

Our new secretary is in a family way and plans to take a few months off from work soon.

in a fog (haze)

- confused, not sure what is happening

He is always in a fog and never seems to know what is going on.

in a hole

- in some trouble, in an embarrassing or difficult position

He is really in a hole now that he has problems both at work and at home.

in a hurry

- a need to move or act quickly

He is very busy and always in a hurry.

in a jam

- in trouble

He is really in a jam now that his car is not working properly.

in a kind (sort) of way

- to a certain extent, a little, somewhat

I would like to go in a kind of way but still I don`t think that I will bother going today.

in and out

- coming in and going out often

He has been in and out all day but I don`t know where he is at the moment.

in a nutshell

- briefly

I tried to explain the problem to him in a nutshell but there still wasn`t enough time.

in any case (event)

- no matter what happens, surely, without fail

I may not be able to meet you next week but in any case I will still give you the books before then.

in a pig`s eye

- hardly, unlikely, not so

In a pig`s eye will I let him borrow my car next weekend.

in a pinch

- okay when nothing else is available

That other tool will do in a pinch if we can`t find the correct one.

in arms

- armed, ready to fight

They are all in arms since they found out about the wage decrease.

in a rush

- in a hurry

They got the job done in a big rush so I am a little worried about the quality.

in a rut

- always doing the same thing

She feels that she is in a rut after doing the same job for seven years.

in a spot

- in some trouble, in an embarrassing or difficult position

She is really in a tight spot right now since she was unable to enter university and also has no job.

in a way

- to a certain extent, a little, somewhat

In a way I would like to go but basically I don`t care.

in a word

- briefly, to sum up

In a word, the problem with the car is that it needs a new motor.

in a world of one`s own

- in deep thought or concentration, not caring about other people

He is always in a world of his own and doesn`t notice what other people say or think.

in black and white

- in writing

I want to get the information in black and white before I go to the meeting.

in cahoots with

- in secret agreement or partnership with someone

The supermarket was in cahoots with the vegetable producer to try and keep the prices high.

in case

- as a precaution, in order to be prepared

In case there is a fire, we keep our computer backup files in a fireproof safe.

in character

- as usual, typical, in the way that a person usually behaves

Supporting the other members of the staff is in character with her usual actions.

in charge

- in control or authority, responsible

He is charge of the sales department at his company.

in check

- under control, kept quiet or back

The violence was kept in check by the police department and the army.

in clover

- rich or successful, having a pleasant or easy life

They are in clover now that they have sold their business and retired.

in cold blood

- without feeling or pity, cooly and deliberately

The family was murdered in cold blood by the criminal gang.

in common

- shared together or equally, in use or ownership by all

We had to use the bathroom in common with the other people in the house.

in deep

- seriously mixed up in something like debt or trouble

He owes a lot of money and is in very deep with his new house and car.

in due course

- in the usual amount of time, at the right time

We will send the information to you in due course.

in fact

- actually, the truth is

He`s been to China before. In fact he`s been there three times.

in for

- unable to avoid, sure to get

He is in for a lot of trouble now that he is unable to finish his graduation essay.

in good time

- a little early, sooner than necessary

I will try and get the information to you in good time so that you will be able to decide what to do.

in hand

- under control

The teacher had the class in hand when the principal came to visit the classroom.

in hot water

- in trouble

I am in hot water over the extra expenses that I used during the conference.

in keeping with

- going well together, agreeing, similar

In keeping with our tradition of letting the visiting team kick first we will do it for this game as well.

in kind

- in a similar way, with the same kind of thing

We will pay them back in kind for the use of their sailboat.

in league with

- in secret agreement or partnership with someone

The union has been in league with management in trying to build the new factory.

in light of

- as a result of new information, because of

In light of his contribution to the company we decided to give him a large summer bonus.

in line

- doing or being what people expect or accept, within ordinary limits

It was difficult to keep the children in line at the picnic but somehow we managed.

in love

- liking very much, loving

He has been in love with his girlfriend ever since he met her in high school.

in luck

- having good luck, finding something good by chance

I think that we are in luck. I have found two tickets for the concert.

in memory of

- as a reminder of, as a memorial to

We decided to put our money together and buy a painting in memory of our grandfather.

in nothing flat

- quickly

I will have this information printed out for you in nothing flat.

in no time

- soon, quickly

I will have this done for you in no time and then you can go for lunch.

in on

- joining together for something

We went in on a present for our father for Father`s Day.

in on

- told about, having knowledge of

I was finally let in on the secret about why she left our company.

in one`s element

- in an environment or situation that comes naturally to someone

She is in her element being in charge of the new sales department.

in one`s face

- abruptly, unexpectedly

The plan blew up in our face just as we were ready to start.

in one`s good books (graces)

- approved of by someone, liked by someone

I have been in her good books since I helped her with her work last month.

in one`s hair

- annoying someone

She has been in my hair all morning because she is on her summer holiday starting this week.

in one`s mind`s eye

- in one`s imagination

In your mind`s eye try and imagine that you are on a nice sunny beach in Hawaii.

in one`s shell

- withdrawn, silent, not sociable

We have been trying to get her out of her shell but it is of no use. She doesn`t want to talk to anyone.

in one`s shoes

- in someone elses place or position

I wish that I was in his shoes with his great job and new car.

in one`s tracks

- abruptly, immediately, just where one is at the moment

I was forced to stop in my tracks when I saw the snake on the road.

in order to

- for the purpose of

We have decided to close down the school for the summer in order to do some major repairs.

in other words

- say something in a different (usually more direct) way

In other words if you don`t finish the assignment by Wednesday you will not pass the course.

in part

- to some extent, partly

I think the reason he is not golfing well this year is in part due to his problem with his back.

in point of fact

- really, truthfully

In point of fact there were not enough people at the meeting to vote on the proposal.

ins and outs

- all the details

He knows all the ins and outs of the new machine.

in seventh heaven

- very happy

I have been in seventh heaven since I started my new job.

in short supply

- not enough, in less than the amount or number needed

Chairs were in short supply so some of the guests had to sit on the floor.

inside and out

- in every part, completely

We looked through the room inside and out for my lost wallet.

inside out

- so that the inside is turned outside

She turned her purse inside out in order to look for her lost key.

inside track

- an advantage, shortest distance around a racetrack

I think that he has the inside track on getting the new job at the computer company.

in spite of

- in opposition to, despite

In spite of the terrible weather we went to the beach for a picnic.

instead of

- in place of

Let`s meet at the restaurant instead of the department store as we had planned.

in stitches

- laughing

They were in stitches over their teacher`s joke.

in stock

- having something ready to sell or use

The store didn`t have any computer discs in stock so we bought some over the Internet.

in store

- ready to happen, waiting

I don`t really know what the future has in store for me but I will be ready for anything.

in the air

- current, exerting an influence

It is in the air that we will be getting a new president next week.

in the bag

- certain, sure

The new contract will be in the bag if we put in a good proposal.

in the black

- have a credit balance, make a profit

The company has been in the black for over three years now.

in the cards

- to be expected, likely to happen, predictable

I think that a new company structure is in the cards but I can`t be sure.

in the charge of

- under the care or supervision of

She has been in the charge of her grandmother since her mother and father died.

in the clear

- with nothing to limit action, free of anything that makes moving or seeing difficult

We seem to be in the clear now so it should be safe to cross the road.

in the clear

- free of blame or suspicion

The police talked to the three boys for a few minutes but they seem to be in the clear now.

in the clouds

- far from real life, in dreams, in thought

He is usually in the clouds so you may have trouble finding out what you want to know from him.

in the course of

- during

In the course of his life he visited over 45 countries.

in the dark

- having no information about something

He is still in the dark about my plans to quit my job.

in the doghouse

- in trouble

He is in the doghouse with his wife after staying out drinking last night.

in the first place

- firstly, to begin with

Of course I can`t go. In the first place I must work on Saturday. In the second place I have no money.

in the groove

- at one`s best, doing something very well

We are finally getting in the groove and should be able to finish this job by early next week.

in the hole

- having a score lower than zero in a game, a score below zero

At the beginning of the card game I was in the hole but later I began to do well.

in the hole

- in debt, behind financially

Although he is always working he always seems to be in the hole.

in the line of duty

- done or happening as part of a job

The police officer was killed in the line of duty during the bank robbery.

in the long run

- the distant future, in the end

For now he is losing money on his stocks but in the long run he should make money.

in the market for

- wanting or ready to buy something

I am in the market for a new computer as my old one is too slow.

in the red

- lose money, not make a profit

The company has been in the red for three years now.

in the saddle

- in command, in control

The president is back in the saddle again after being ill for several months.

in the same boat

- in a similar situation

We are all in the same boat now that our company has gone out of business.

in the soup

- in serious trouble, in disorder

She is in the soup now that she has had a big fight with her boss.

in the swim

- active in or knowing what is going on

He is definitely in the swim. He has information about everybody.

in the wake of

- as a result of, following

In the wake of the large number of people who have recently left our company we will need to hire some more people.

in the wind

- soon to happen, being planned

It is in the wind that they are planning to open a new store next year.

in the works

- in preparation, being planned or worked on

Don`t worry about whether or not we will be building the new computer lab. It is definitely in the works.

in the wrong

- wrong; against justice, truth or fact

The driver was in the wrong and was arrested by the police after the accident.

in time

- early enough

I didn`t come home in time to meet my cousin.

into thin air

- completely, without anything left

The group of hikers vanished into thin air and were never heard of again.

in touch

- talking or writing to each other, giving or getting news

We are still in touch even though we have been out of school for many years.

in tow

- being pulled

The truck had a trailer in tow when it went off the highway.

in tow

- being taken from place to place, along with someone

She spent the morning at the shopping center with her child in tow.

in tune

- going well together, in agreement, matching

We have been in tune with each other ever since we met at our high school graduation party.

in turn

- each following another

We went up to the front of the class in turn in order to pick up our diplomas.

in two shakes of a lamb`s tail

- quickly, in no time at all

I will have this finished in two shakes of a lamb`s tail and then I will give it to you.

in vain

- without effect, without success

We tried in vain to find a good job but it was impossible.

in view of

- after thinking about, because of

In view of the large number of people who have come I think that we will need a bigger room.

in with

- in friendship, favor or closeness with

I think that he was in with the wrong group of people when he was in high school.

iron out

- work out

We have ironed out all of our problems and are finally doing better.

irons in the fire

- things one is doing, projects with which a person is busy

Recently he has too many irons in the fire. That is why he has become sick.

itching palm

- a wish for money, greed

The guard at the border crossing has an itching palm so be careful of him.


Idiom Quizzes - I

Choose an idiom at the bottom to replace the expression in the brackets below:

1. He feels that he is (doing the same thing every day) so he is frustrated with his job.

(a) in the dark (b) in seventh heaven (c) in a rut (d) in hot water

2. After the class he was (in a hurry) to go home.

(a) in the swim (b) in the doghouse (c) in a rush (d) in stitches

3. Please put the numbers down (in writing) so there is no possibility of making a mistake.

(a) in a bind (b) in a nutshell (c) in nothing flat (d) in black and white

4. He seemed to be really (nervous) at the graduation ceremony for his son.

(a) in a nutshell (b) ill at ease (c) in the dark (d) in a rut

5. She was (laughing very hard) after I told her about the incident with the small dog.

(a) in a bind (b) in stitches (c) in a pinch (d) in a rut

6. He is (in trouble) with his boss after his poor sales performance last month.

(a) in a word (b) in hot water (c) in his element (d) in seventh heaven

7. The building manager knows all the (details) of renting and selling apartments.

(a) in fact (b) in the bag (c) ins and outs (d) in other words

8. He bought the tickets (before the game) so they would not be sold out.

(a) in a hurry (b) in a nutshell (c) in his element (d) in advance

9. The company has been (losing money) for about three years.

(a) in the black (b) in the red (c) in the long run (d) in the air

10. I told her that (over many years) she will be happy that she chose to go to university.

(a) in the long run (b) in the bag (c) in advance (d) in the same boat

11. He is (in trouble) because of his missing lecture notes.

(a) in a nutshell (b) in a rut (c) in a bind (d) in the dark

12. Don`t worry. We have the new contract (for sure).

(a) in the long run (b) in the first place (c) in advance (d) in the bag

13. I will explain to you (briefly) how the new company operates.

(a) in advance (b) in a hurry (c) in a nutshell (d) in black and white

14. She has been (extremely happy) since she moved to the new department.

(a) in the doghouse (b) in someone`s shoes (c) in nothing flat (d) in seventh heaven

15. We will be (in trouble) if we can`t find someone to help us this weekend.

(a) in the same boat (b) in the red (c) in our element (d) in a pinch

16. I will finish this report and give it to you (quickly).

(a) in nothing flat (b) in the same boat (c) in the first place (d) in the dark

17. I am (in a similar situation as) you since I lost my job.

(a) in the swim with (b) in the doghouse with (c) in my element with (d) in the same boat as

18. I would hate to be (in the same situation as him).

(a) in his shoes (b) in a nutshell (c) in hot water (d) in the swim

19. He is (in trouble) with his wife because he stayed out late last night.

(a) in a bind (b) in the doghouse (c) in a jam (d) in his element

20. I hope that you can have the problems (worked out) before our departure.

(a) in time (b) in the bag (c) in stitches (d) ironed out

21. (Actually) I saw him yesterday so I don`t need to phone today.

(a) in advance (b) in fact (c) in other words (d) in the first place

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