Common Idioms - N

Idioms - N

nail down

- make certain, make sure

I am trying to nail down the exact time that he will be able to meet with us.

name is mud

- a person`s reputation becomes bad, one is in trouble

His name is mud now that he has been charged by the police with stealing money from his company.

name of the game

- the main part of a matter

The name of the game is for the salesmen to sell cars and not to worry about other things.

name someone after

- give someone another`s name

He was named after his mother`s grandfather.

narrow escape

- an escape with no chance of error

He had a narrow escape when he almost fell from his bicycle.

neck and neck

- equal or nearly equal in a race or contest

The two teams were neck and neck in the race to win the national championship.

neck of the woods

- an area or part of the country

He has never been down to my neck of the woods since he was a child.

needle in a haystack

- something that is very hard to find

Looking for the lost receipt among the thousands of other receipts is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

neither here nor there

- not relevant to the thing being discussed, off the subject

What you are saying is neither here nor there. We are talking about our plans to move this year - not 5 years in the future.

nervous Nellie

- a timid person who lacks determination and courage

He is a nervous Nellie and is afraid of most of the other students in the school.

nest egg

- money someone has saved up

He has a nice nest egg in the bank so he will have no financial problems if he leaves his company.

never mind

- don`t worry, don`t bother

If you don`t have time to pick up my laundry, never mind I will get it tomorrow.

new blood

- fresh energy or power, something or someone that gives new life or vigor to something

She a great employee and helped us to inject new blood into our organization.

new broom sweeps clean

- a new person makes many changes

We discovered the truth to the expression "a new broom sweeps clean" when our new boss changed everything in our organization.

new deal

- a complete change, a fresh start, another chance

He was given a new deal by the team although the previous year he was not very good.

new person

- a person who has become very much better

He is a new person now that he has quit smoking and quit drinking.

nick of time

- at the very last moment

He was able to board the airplane just in the nick of time.

nip and tuck

- evenly matched, hard fought to the finish

They were going along nip and tuck but he finally won the race in the end.

nip in the bud

- prevent at the start

They found out about the computer problem but were able to nip the problem in the bud.

no bed of roses

- difficult or bad situation

It is no bed of roses to have no job and a large family to support.

nobody's home

- one`s attention is somewhere else, having a simple mind

It looks like nobody`s home, I thought as I tried to have a conversation with the strange man.

nobody`s fool

- a smart person, a person who can take care of himself

She is nobody`s fool. You will not have to worry about her at all when she goes to New York.

no cigar

- not agreed to, refused or useless, no, certainly not

I almost got the job but in the end it was no cigar.

no deal

- not agreed to, refused or useless, no, certainly not

It was no deal I realized as I left the meeting and the other members had all said no to my plan.

No dice.

- No. Certainly not.

No dice. I will never lend you that much money.

no doubt

- without doubt, surely, certainly

No doubt he will be the one to win the contest again this year.

no end

- almost without stopping, continually

The little girl cried no end when she couldn`t find her favorite doll.

no end to (of)

- so many or so much of, to seem almost endless, very many or very much

He had no end of problems when he lived overseas for a year.

no go

- not agreed to, refused or useless, no, certainly not

It`s no go for our plan to have three games this weekend. We can only have two of them.

no great shakes

- mediocre, unimportant

The hotel was no great shakes and I wouldn`t recommend that you stay there if you go to Hawaii.

no love lost

- bad feelings, ill will

There is no love lost between my father and our next door neighbor.

no matter

- regardless of

No matter how hard that I try my tutor is never satisfied.

no picnic

- not pleasant, difficult

It was no picnic trying to drive to the lake during the storm.

nose around (about)

- look for something kept private or secret, pry

The secretary was nosing around in her boss's desk trying to discover what was going on.

nose down

- head down, bring down the nose of

The pilot began to nose down the plane as it neared the airport.

(have one`s) nose in something

- unwelcome interest in something, impolite curiosity

He always has his nose in other people`s private business where it doesn`t belong.


- a person who makes a reservation for something and then neither comes nor cancels it

There were several no-shows at the concert last night.

no sweat

- easily accomplished, uncomplicated

The work was no sweat. I finished it in about two hours.

no sweat

- no problem

No sweat. I will help you all day tomorrow if you need me.

not a leg to stand on

- no good proof or excuse, no good evidence or defence to offer someone

The company doesn`t have a leg to stand on if they try to refuse to pay you the money that they owe you.

not for the world

- not at any price, not for anything

I wouldn`t go out on a date with that woman for the world.

not give someone the time of day

- dislike someone so strongly that you totally ignore them

I hate her and would never even give her the time of day.

nothing doing

- I will not do it, certainly not, no indeed

Nothing doing. I am not going to stay and work late again this evening.

nothing if not

- without doubt, certainly

He is nothing if not punctual. He has never been late in his seven years with this company.

not much of

- rather bad

It`s not much of a hotel but I guess it will be okay for one night.

Not on your life.

- definitely not.

"May I borrow your car"? "Not on your life".

not so hot

- not very good

I have been feeling not so hot lately as I had a cold last week.

nothing to sneeze at

- something you should take seriously

His new salary is nothing to sneeze at.

not touch something with a ten-foot pole

- consider something completely undesirable or uninteresting

That class may be alright but because I hate the professor I wouldn`t touch it with a ten-foot pole.

no wonder

- not surprising

No wonder he is so tired after staying up all night.

now and then

- occasionally

He likes to go to that restaurant now and then.

number one

- oneself, one`s own interests

He is always looking out for number one and will never do anything for anyone else.

nurse a grudge

- keep a feeling of dislike toward some person

My old girlfriend is still nursing a grudge toward me even after three years.

nuts about

- enthusiastic about something

He has been nuts about cars ever since he was a little boy.

nutty as a fruitcake

- very crazy

The woman who lives next door to us is as nutty as a fruitcake.

Idiom Quizzes - N

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

1. They spend too much money so it is very difficult to (keep within their budget) on his salary.

(a) make a bundle (b) make ends meet (c) make themselves at home (d) make waves

2. >He (is very serious) when he says that he will do something.

(a) means business (b) makes a difference (c) makes waves (d) misses the boat

3. >Living in the mountains while building the highway was (very difficult) for the workers.

(a) nobody`s fool (b) a narrow escape (c) nipped in the bud (d) no bed of roses

4. >He studies very hard so (of course) he always does well.

(a) never mind (b) no wonder (c) no picnic (d) now and then

5. >They don`t have to work very hard because they (made a lot of money on) the stock market.

(a) made a killing on (b) made a beeline for (c) made a point of (d) made fun of

6. >(Don`t worry) about locking the door. I will do it later.

(a) no wonder (b) no matter (c) never mind (d) no picnic

7. >He is (always excited) about going to baseball games.

(a) not so hot (b) nobody`s fool (c) no bed of roses (d) nuts

8. >You should hurry or you will (not be able to go to) the party.

(a) make a dent in (b) make a go of (c) miss out on (d) make sense of

9. >He saved up a (lot of money) from his old job.

(a) narrow escape (b) nest egg (c) neck of the woods (d) nick of time

10. >We had to move the T. V. out of the living room in order to (have a place for) the new sofa.

(a) make a go of (b) make a living for (c) make room for (d) miss out on

11. The video and television are not working so we will have to (substitute) the tape recorder.

(a) make do with (b) make a dent in (c) miss out on (d) make up our mind for

12. >His new car is (very impressive).

(a) named after someone (b) nothing to sneeze at (c) nobody`s fool (d) no picnic

13. >The picture of the restaurant`s main dish (makes me very hungry).

(a) makes a difference (b) makes a mountain out of a molehole (c) makes my mouth water (d) makes my hair stand on end

14. >I don`t want to (cause any problems) in my new company.

(a) make a name for myself (b) make waves (c) make my own way (d) make sense

15. >I don`t think that you can trick him very easily. He is (very smart).

(a) no picnic (b) not so hot (c) nobody`s fool (d) no dice

16. >We must stop the rumors by (stopping them from the first).

(a) the nick of time (b) nipping them in the bud (c) a narrow escape (d) no bed of roses

17. >I really don`t understand him because he never really (says things clearly).

(a) makes sense (b) makes a bundle (c) makes a hit (d) makes out

18. >He was (called the same as) his grandfather.

(a) never mind (b) nuts about (c) not much of (d) named after

19. >I am feeling (a little sick) today so I think that I will go home early.

(a) a narrow escape (b) nobody`s fool (c) not so hot (d) the nick of time

20. >He tried hard to make his business a success but he was unable to (succeed).

(a) make a dent in it (b) make a go of it (c) miss the boat (d) mend his ways

21. He (made a lot of money) on the stock market.

(a) made a living (b) made a bundle (c) made his mouth water (d) met someone half-way

22. >Please (relax and don`t worry about anything) when you are here.

(a) make a difference (b) make a name for yourself (c) make yourself felt (d) make yourself at home

23. >I tried to (create a good relationship) with my neighbors but it was impossible.

(a) make a difference (b) make friends (c) make a living (d) make ends meet

24. >Living on the ranch for the winter was (very difficult).

(a) no matter (b) nipped in the bud (c) no picnic (d) no wonder

25. >They became a little (confused) with her bad directions.

(a) made out (b) mixed up (c) man-to-man (d) mum`s the word

26. >His presentation at the meeting (was very successful).

(a) made a hit (b) met someone half-way (c) made up their mind (d) made ends meet

27. >He really (missed an opportunity) when he refused the assignment.

(a) made a killing (b) mended his ways (c) missed the boat (d) made short work of it

28. >It (isn`t important) if he goes to the game or not.

(a) makes out (b) doesn`t matter (c) means business (d) might as well

29. >We have no truck to move our furniture so we must (substitute) our car.

(a) make a living with (b) make ends meet with (c) make waves with (d) make do with

30. >I can`t (decide) if I will go to Japan in December or not.

(a) make up my mind (b) mend my ways (c) make a hit (d) mean business

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