Common Idioms - T

Idioms - T

tail between one`s legs

- feeling ashamed or beaten

He was forced to resign from his company with his tail between his legs after he was caught lying about his expense account.

take a back seat

- accept a poorer or lower position, be second to something or someone

I had to take a back seat to my partner when we went on the business trip.

take a bath

- come to financial ruin

She took a bath on the stock market last year and is afraid to invest in stocks now.

take a beating

- lose money

His father really took a beating on the stock market recently.

take a crack at

- try, attempt

Have you decided to take a crack at the entrance exam in June?

take a dim view of

- be against, disapprove

Our company takes a dim view of people who do not wear a suit and tie.

take advantage of

- use for one`s own benefit

We took advantage of the beautiful weather and went to the beach.

take after

- resemble or act like a parent or relative

He is tall and handsome like his father and seems to take after him in other ways as well.

take a leak

- urinate

He stopped at the side of the road to take a leak when he was walking home last night.

take a powder

- leave quickly, run away

I don`t know where he is but I think that he took a powder right after the meeting.

take a shine to

- have or show a quick liking for someone

Her daughter took a shine to her new teacher and is very happy at school now.

take a stand on something

- declare firmly that one is for or against something

The Prime Minister finally took a stand on the tax issue.

take a trip

- go for a journey

We plan to take a trip to Italy in November.

take back

- admit to making a wrong statement

He had to take back what he said about his boss in front of his co-workers.

take by storm

- capture by a sudden or very bold attack

The army took the town by storm and was easily able to capture all of the enemy troops.

take by storm

- win the favor of, become popular with a group of people

The rock band took the town by storm when they came to town.

take care of

- look after or give attention to someone or something

You should take care of your health or you will get sick.

take care of

- deal with something, do what is necessary to do something

Could you please take care of these letters while I make some phone calls.

take down

- write or record what is said

I took down many notes during the lecture last week.

take down

- take apart, pull to pieces

We took down our tent as soon as it began to rain.

take down a notch (peg)

- make someone less proud or sure of himself

He was taken down a notch by his boss because he was beginning to act in an arrogant manner.

take effect

- become legally right or operative

The new laws related to alcohol took effect early last month.

take exception to

- speak against, find fault with, be angered by

He took exception to the fact that everyone was able to go and play golf except for himself.

take for

- mistake someone for something

The man took the young boy for a robber and called the police.

take for a ride

- play a trick on or fool someone, take unfair advantage of someone

I was taken for a ride by the used car salesman. The car that I bought is not very good.

take for granted

- assume something is a certain way or is correct

I took it for granted that you knew him. Otherwise I would have introduced you.

take heart

- be encouraged, feel brave and want to try something

He took heart from his previous failure and decided to try again.

take ill/sick

- become sick

She took ill during her holiday and spent most of the time in her hotel.

take in

- go and see or visit

We decided to go and take in a movie last night.

take in

- make smaller

The tailor took in the waist of my suit pants and they now fit much better.

take in

- grasp with the mind

The course was very difficult but I tried to take in as much as possible.

take in (money)

- receive, get

We were able to take in a lot of money last night at the charity auction.

take in

- let someone come in, admit

The farmer took in the couple for the night after their car broke down.

take in stride

- accept good or bad luck and go on

The boxer took his loss in stride and began to prepare for his next fight.

take it

- endure trouble or criticism or abuse

He is quite sensitive and can never really take it if I make a joke about him.

take it

- get an idea or impression, understand from what is said or done

I take it that you are not going to come to the graduation ceremony next week.

take it easy

- relax

I`ve been working hard all month so I have decided to take it easy for a few days.

take it on the chin

- be badly beaten or hurt, accept trouble calmly

Our team took it on the chin at the baseball tournament last week.

take it out on

- be unpleasant or unkind to someone because one is angry or upset

Although he has much stress from work he is careful not to take it out on his friends or family.

take its toll

- cause loss or damage

His new job and the long hours have begun to take their toll on his health.

take kindly to

- be pleased by, like

He doesn`t take kindly to people telling him how to run his business.

take leave of

- abandon, go away from or become separated from

I think that he has taken leave of his senses. He has been acting very strange lately.

take liberties

- act toward someone in too close or friendly a manner, use someone as one would a close friend or something of one`s own

She is taking liberties with her friend by always borrowing her car.

taken aback

- unpleasantly surprised, suddenly puzzled or shocked

I was taken aback when she said that she didn`t want to work with us any longer.

take off (clothes)

- remove clothes etc.

Please take off your shoes before you enter our house.

take off (time)

- be absent from work

He was sick and had to take off a week from work.

take off

- depart suddenly or quickly, run away

We decided to take off right after the concert ended.

take off

- leave on a flight

The flight took off right on time.

take on

- begin to handle, commit oneself to

Recently he has begun to take on too many things at work and has become very tired.

take on

- give a job to, hire, employ

The factory took on over fifty new employees last month.

take on

- begin to have the look of

He has begun to take on the look of a university professor although he has only been working at the university for a short time.

take on

- load

The ship took on most of its cargo the week before it left the port.

take one`s hat off to someone

- admire, respect, praise

You really have to take your hat off to him. He has built up his company from almost nothing.

take one`s own medicine

- accept punishment without complaining

He likes to criticize everyone but can never take his own medicine when others criticize him.

take one`s time

- do something without hurrying

He took his time in returning the book he had borrowed.

take out

- escort or go on a date with someone

I finally had a chance to take out the new woman from work last week.

take over

- take control, take command

Our company was taken over by a foreign company last month.

take part in

- participate in

Are you planning to take part in the seminar next week?

take place

- happen, occur

The game took place on the coldest day of the year.

take sides

- support one side on the other

You should not take sides in the argument or both sides will hate you.

take someone for a ride

- cheat, swindle

I think that they really took him for a ride when he was visiting last year.

take someone to the cleaners

- take all of someone`s money or cheat someone

He was taken to the cleaners when he decided to buy the series of books from the salesman.

take something into account

- remember and consider

Please take into account that she has only been studying French for a few weeks.

take something lying down

- suffer without a fight

I am very angry and won`t take what he says lying down.

take something to heart

- consider seriously

You shouldn`t really take what he says to heart. He is really very kind.

take something with a grain of salt

- not take seriously something someone has said

You can take everything that he says with a grain of salt.

take steps

- begin to make plans or arrangements, make preparations

The company has begun to take steps to stop people from smoking in the main office building.

take stock

- count items of merchandise or supplies in stock, take inventory

The store will be closed for three days next week while the company is taking stock.

take stock in (usually negative)

- have faith in, believe

She took no stock in the idea that women could not work as firefighters as well as men.

take stock of

- carefully study a situation or a number of possibilities or opportunities

After taking stock of the situation he decided that it would be difficult to continue working for the company.

take the bull by the horns

- take some kind of action

He finally decided to take the bull by the horns and started to plan their anniversary party.

take the edge off

- lessen, weaken, soften

We had a drink of hot chocolate in order to take the edge off the cold weather.

take the Fifth

- hide behind the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which guarantees any witness the right not to incriminate himself while testifying at a trial

He decided to take the Fifth rather than tell the truth at the trial.

take the plunge

- do something decisive (often used when you get married)

He finally decided to take the plunge and will get married next year.

take the rap

- receive punishment, be accused and punished

The owner of the restaurant was forced to take the rap over allowing underage workers to work at night.

take the words out of someone`s mouth

- say something someone else was going to say

He took the words right out of my mouth when he answered your question.

take to

- begin the work or job of, learn easily, do well at

He took to the job of administrator very easily and was a great success.

take to

- to like at first meeting, be pleased by or attracted to, accept quickly

They took to the new coach immediately and did very well during the beginning of the season.

take to task

- scold for a fault or error

I was taken to task by the supervisor for not arriving at work on time.

take to the cleaners

- win all someone`s money

He went to Las Vegas and was taken to the cleaners by the card dealers.

take to the woods

- run away and hide

He decided to take to the woods rather than wait to talk to his wife.

take turns

- do something alternately with others

We had to take turns using the dictionary as there was only one.

take (someone) under one`s wing

- protect someone

He has taken the new employee under his wing and is teaching him about the company.

take up

- begin an activity or hobby

He has a lot of free time lately and has decided to take up fishing as a hobby.

take up

- fill a place or time, occupy

All of his evenings have been taken up by his hobby of building model airplanes.

take up

- gather together, collect

We decided to take up a collection in order to help repair the old building.

take up

- begin, start

We took up the lesson where we had finished last week.

take up

- pull and make tight

I went back to the department store to see if they could take up my suit pants.

take up arms

- get ready to fight or make war

The citizens were not willing to take up arms to try and change their government.

talk back

- answer rudely

She is very strict and never allows her children to talk back to her.

talk big

- talk boastfully, brag

He is always talking big but nobody believes what he says.

talk down to someone

- use words or ideas that are too simple

I don`t really like her because she is always talking down to the people around her.

talk into

- get someone to agree to something, persuade someone to do something

She finally talked her father into lending her the family car.

talk out

- discuss until everything is agreed on, settle

We stayed up late last night and talked out the problem.

talk out of

- persuade not to, decide not to

I spent about an hour yesterday trying to talk my friend out of quitting his job.

talk over

- discuss

You had better talk over your plans with your parents before you decide what to do.

talk shop

- talk about things in one`s work

Everyone at the restaurant decided that they would not talk shop during the dinner.

talk through one`s hat

- make exaggerated or inaccurate statements

He is always talking through his hat and you never know if you can believe him or not.

talk turkey

- discuss seriously

Now you`re talking turkey so let`s finish and go home.

talk up

- speak in favor of

The manager was talking up the product as we entered the meeting.

tan someone`s hide

- give a beating to, spank hard

The boy`s mother threatened to tan his hide if he did not behave himself.

taper off

- come to an end little by little, become smaller toward the end

The rain began to taper off early in the afternoon.

tar and feather

- punish severely

The teacher said that she would tar and feather anyone who didn`t do their homework.

tear down

- take down, destroy

The city decided to tear down the building because it was unsafe.

tear down

- say bad things about, criticize

The audience tore down his argument after he finished the lecture.

tear up

- tear something up into small pieces

The child tore up the new telephone book.

tell apart

- distinguish between two things or people

It is hard to tell the two sisters apart.

tell it like it is

- be honest, sincere, tell the truth

Although what he said was very difficult for everyone to believe he decided to tell it like it is anyway.

tell it to the marines (Sweeney)

- I don`t believe you, stop trying to fool me

She said that she was going to start her own business but I told her to tell it to the marines as I didn`t believe her.

tell (someone) off

- speak to angrily

He told his neighbor off after their music was too loud last night.

tell on someone

- reveal the activities or wrongdoings of someone by telling others

She told on her brother for eating the cake.

tempest in a teapot

- great excitement about something not important

The problem was really a tempest in a teapot and after a few days everyone had forgotten about it.


- I understand you.

"Ten-four", he said when his friend asked him if he understood the plan.


- in a state of suspense or strain because of uncertainty

They have been on tenterhooks all week while waiting for the decision about the Olympics.

that will be the day

- that will never happen

That will be the day that he is willing to put you in charge of running the restaurant.


- dumb, unreasonable

He is a little bit thick and never understands what I want to say.

think better of

- consider something again and make a better decision about something

I would think better of going to Europe in the winter if I have a chance to go again.

think little of

- think that something or someone is not important or valuable

She is not very happy and seems to think little of the people that she is working with.

think nothing of something

- not worry about something, forget it

When he goes drinking he thinks nothing of spending most of his money at one time.

think out

- think through to the end

I didn`t really have time to think out the problem of where everyone would sleep before the guests arrived.

think out loud

- say what one is thinking

I am sorry. I was thinking out loud about the new system we have started.

think over

- consider carefully

He carefully thought over his plans before talking to his supervisor.

think twice about something

- think very carefully

You should think twice before you go ahead and quit your job.

think up

- invent, create

He has thought up a lot of interesting ideas for his company.

(the) third degree

- detailed questioning

His mother gave him the third degree when he came home late last night.

three sheets to the wind

- unsteady from too much liquor, drunk

I saw him walking down the street last night but he seemed to have three sheets to the wind.

through the grapevine

- hear from other people

I heard it through the grapevine that he was going to move to Paris next summer.

through the mill

- experience a difficult situation

He has really been through the mill after his divorce and loss of job.

through thick and thin

- through all difficulties and troubles, through good times and bad times

Her husband is always ready to help her and supports her through thick and thin.

throw a curve

- take someone by surprise in an unpleasant way

Everything was going well until he threw me a curve and told me that we would have to move to another office building next month.

throw a monkey wrench into

- cause something that is going smoothly to stop

He threw a monkey wrench into our plans to go to the lake for the summer.

throw away a chance or opportunity

- fail to make use of a chance or opportunity

He threw away a chance to get a good education when he began to work when he was very young.

throw cold water on

- discourage, forbid

My boss quickly threw cold water on my plan to go to New York on a field trip.

throw down the gauntlet

- challenge someone to a fight or something similar

The government threw down the gauntlet to the opposition party to either give an alternative or stop criticizing the government`s plans.

throw in

- give or put in as an addition

When we bought the car the dealer threw in some new tires as a bonus.

throw in one`s lot with

- join, take part in something

He decided to throw in his lot with the members of the company who were on strike.

throw in the towel

- surrender, give up

The boxer threw in the towel about half way through the match.

throw off

- get free from

I was able to throw off my cold and quickly recovered.

throw off

- mislead, confuse, fool

The criminals threw off the police and escaped into the subway.

throw one`s weight around

- use one`s influence in an aggressive way

He has been throwing his weight around ever since he got his new promotion.

throw out

- force to leave, dismiss

The umpire threw out the coach for arguing with him.

throw the baby out with the bathwater

- reject all of something because part of it is faulty

When they decided to get rid of all of the computers because one was broken it was like throwing the baby out with the bath water. They only needed one new computer.

throw the book at

- punish severely for breaking a rule or the law

The government threw the book at him after he was convicted of drunk driving.

throw together

- make in a hurry and without care

We didn`t have much time last night so we threw together a quick meal and then went to the football game.

(be) thrown together

- be grouped with other people by chance

We were thrown together with some strange people when the storm forced the plane to delay its flight for a day.

throw to the wolves

- send into danger without protection

The small boy was thrown to the wolves when he was made to join the team of older players.

throw up

- vomit

He threw up two times after he got food poisoning from the seafood.

throw up one`s hands

- give up trying, admit that one cannot succeed

He threw up his hands and decided to let the students go home early.

thumb a lift/ride

- hitchhike

Their car had a flat tire so they thumbed a lift to the nearest gas station.

thumb one`s nose

- look with disfavor or dislike

The star player thumbed his nose at the fans when they began to boo him.

tickled pink

- very happy

He was tickled pink to be awarded a prize for growing the best flowers.

tide (someone) over

- help someone through a difficult situation

I lent him some money to tide him over until he gets paid.

tie the knot

- get married

They decided to tie the knot after seeing each other for over three years.

tie down

- keep someone from going somewhere or doing something

The project tied him down for over three months.

tied down

- have family or job responsibilities

I never see him anymore as he is tied down because of his busy schedule at work.

tie in

- to connect with something else

The merchandise was tied in with the movie and had very good sales.

tie up

- slow or stop the movement or action of

The highway traffic was tied up for over three hours last night.

tie up

- take all the time of someone

I was tied up this morning so I was unable to answer the phone.

tie up

- limit or prevent the use of

All of his money is tied up in real estate investments.

tie up

- enter into an association or partnership, join

Our company decided to tie up with a company from Sweden to make the pollution control equipment.

tie up

- dock (a ship)

The ship docked at the pier three days before it was ready to load.

tie up in knots

- make someone very nervous or worried

He was tied up in knots before the speech at the convention.

tighten one`s belt

- economize, spend less

We will have to tighten our belts for awhile until the economy improves.

tight spot

- a difficult situation

They are in a very tight spot since the head salesman quit.

tight squeeze

- difficult financial situation

The company is in a tight squeeze now that sales are down from last year.

time after time

- repeatedly

I have told her time after time to be careful with her spelling.

time of one`s life

- a wonderful time

She had the time of her life when she went to Rome last summer.

time out

- time when a game or something is temporarily stopped for some reason

During the game we took some time out to rest.

tip (someone) off

- warn, inform

The police were tipped off that there was going to be a robbery at the bank.

tip the balance

- have important or decisive influence, decide

His ability to speak French tipped the balance in his favor to get the job at the embassy.

tip the scales

- weigh

The sumo wrestler tipped the scales at over 200 kilograms.

tire out

- make very tired

My father was tired out after working hard all day.

tit for tat

- equal treatment in return, a fair exchange

The government policy was a tit for tat response to any attacks against its territory.

to a fault

- so very well that it is almost bad

He is honest to a fault and will not say anything unless it is the absolute truth.

to and fro

- forward and back again and again

They went to and fro between the two items trying to decide what to buy.

to a T

- perfectly, exactly

That new suit fits you to a T.

to be sure

- without a doubt, certainly

To be sure it would be better to talk to the president of the company in person.

to boot

- in addition, also

You will not only need a new video. You will need a new television to boot.

toe the line

- obey the rules and do one`s duties

The children were forced to toe the line when the new teacher arrived.

to heel

- under control

The army brought the citizens to heel when they entered the town.

tone down

- make less harsh or strong, moderate

The union leader was forced to tone down his language after the strike began to grow violent.

too bad

- worthy of sorrow or regret

It is too bad that the university decided to close the bookstore last year.

too big for one`s breeches/boots

- feeling more important than one really is

Our new boss is too big for his breeches and needs someone to tell him to change his behavior.

too many irons in the fire

- too many things you are trying to do

He has too many irons in the fire at the moment and has no time for other things.

to one`s name

- in one`s ownership

He is a very good dresser although he doesn`t have a penny to his name.

to order

- according to directions given in an order in the way something is made or size wanted etc.

He had three suits made to order when he visited Hong Kong last year.

tooth and nail

- fiercely, as hard as possible

He decided to fight tooth and nail to get a transfer to another department of the company.


- of the best or most important kind

When he buys a new car he always buys a top-drawer model.

to pieces

- into broken pieces or fragments, destroyed, not working

His car fell to pieces during his recent trip to Alaska.

to pieces

- very much, greatly

He loves his little girl to pieces.


- excellent, the best

They had a top-notch cook at the restaurant but he left last month.

top off

- come or bring to a special or unexpected ending, climax

The conference was topped off by a large dinner on the last day.


- upside down, in disarray

My apartment was topsy-turvy so I stayed home to clean up.

to speak of

- important, worth talking about

We didn`t do anything to speak of during the summer vacation.

toss off

- drink rapidly

He tossed off a couple of drinks before he went home for the evening.

toss off

- make or say easily without trying or thinking hard

He was able to toss off the answer to the question easily when the teacher asked him.

toss out

- force to leave, dismiss

The boys was tossed out of the restaurant for their bad behavior.

to the bone

- thoroughly, entirely

He became wet to the bone when the sudden storm appeared.

to the eye

- as it is seen, apparently

To the eye it looked like a nice hotel but when we entered it was not very good at all.

to the full

- very much, fully

He always tries to live his life to the full.

to the hilt

- to the maximum amount, completely

He has been up to the hilt in debt since he bought that car.

to the letter

- exactly, precisely

The police officer always follows the law to the letter.

to the nth degree

- to the greatest degree possible, extremely

They made an effort to the nth degree but were unable to successfully complete the project.

to the tune of

- to the amount or extent of

The damage that he did to his car was to the tune of about $2000.

to the wall

- into a place from which there is no escape

The credit agency pushed him to the wall and he finally had to declare bankruptcy.

touch and go

- uncertain, dangerous situation

It was touch and go as to whether she was going to survive after the car accident.

touch off

- cause to fire or explode by lighting the fuse

The fire at the oil refinery touched off an explosion that destroyed many tanks.

touch off

- start something

The arrest of the labor leader touched off a riot among the citizens.

touch on (upon)

- speak of or write of briefly

The news article about the company touched upon their previous legal problems.

touch up

- paint over (small imperfections)

I decided to have the repair shop touch up several places on my car where the paint was bad.

touch up

- improve with small additions or changes

My essay will be done as soon as I touch up some of the weak spots.

tough break

- unlucky event, misfortune

He received a tough break when he became sick immediately before the music contest.

tourist trap

- place that is overpriced and attracts tourists

He thinks that Hawaii is a tourist trap and doesn`t want to go there for his holiday.

tower of strength

- a person who gives strong and reliable support

He has been a real tower of strength to his sister since her husband died.

track down

- search for

I have been trying to track down an old Beatles album for many months.

trade something in

- exchange something old or used for something new

He traded in his old car for a new one.

travel light

- travel with very little luggage or with little to carry

We always travel very light when we go on a holiday.

tread on one`s toes

- do something that offends someone

I don`t want to tread on her toes because she is the most powerful supervisor in this company.

treat someone

- pay for someone else

He treated me to a dinner at the restaurant.

trial and error

- a way of solving problems by trying different possible solutions until one finds one that works

They worked by trial and error until they found a solution to the parking problems at the factory.

trial balloon

- a hint about a plan with the purpose of finding out what people think about the idea

We sent up a trial balloon to see who would support our plan to enlarge the factory.

trick of the trade

- a smart, quick or skillful way of doing something

He knows many of the tricks of the trade in the publishing business.

trip the light fantastic

- go dancing

It`s Friday night so let`s go downtown and trip the light fantastic.

trip up

- make a mistake

The teacher tripped up over the correct pronunciation of the president`s name.

trump up

- make up, invent in the mind

He was arrested on trumped up charges of selling illegal CDs.

trump card

- something kept back to be used to win success if nothing else works

His trump card was his knowledge of the sales figures that nobody else knew..

try on

- put on clothes to see how they fit and look

You should try on that jacket before you buy it.

try one`s hand

- make an inexperienced attempt at something

I have decided to try my hand at sailing a boat this summer.

try (something) out

- test

We were not allowed to try the computer out before we bought it.

try out for

- planning to join or take part in a team, competing for a place

Their son has decided to try out for the football team this summer.


- a game in which two teams pull on opposite ends of a rope and try to pull the other team over a line marked on the ground

The children played tug-of-war at the summer camp.


- a contest in which two sides try to defeat each other, a struggle

The two countries have been in a tug-of-war over the territory for many years.

tune in

- adjust a radio or television to pick up a certain station

We were able to tune in to the basketball game when we were driving to work this morning.

tune in

- get in touch with something important like one`s own feelings, etc.

She is always going to workshops and taking short courses to help her tune in to her feelings.

tune up

- adjust a musical instrument to the right sound

The orchestra tuned up their instruments before the performance.

tune up

- adjust a car engine so that it will run properly

We took our car to the garage to be tuned up before we went on our holiday.

turn a deaf ear to

- pretend not to hear, refuse to hear

The company turned a deaf ear to our demands for more money and holidays.

turn down

- reduce the loudness, brightness or force of something

I went over to my next door neighbor and asked him to turn down his stereo.

turn down

- refuse to accept, reject

The union turned down the company offer of more money but no change in working conditions.

turn in

- give to someone, hand to someone

I turned in the wallet that I had found to the police.

turn in

- inform on, report

The department store turned in the shoplifter to the police.

turn in

- go to bed

We decided to turn in about 9:00 PM last night.

turn off

- shut off, stop

Please turn off the lights before you go out.

turn off

- leave by turning right or left onto another road or path

When we arrived at the small store we decided to turn off on the small road.

turn (someone) off

- disgust, irritate, repel someone

Her constant complaining always turns me off.

turn on

- open, start, let water or electricity flow

Please turn on the radio so we can hear the evening news.

turn (someone) on

- excite a person, become interested in an idea, person or undertaking

She was turned on by the idea of going to Spain for the summer.

turn on someone

- become suddenly hostile to someone

He used to be my friend but he suddenly turned on me last summer.

turn one`s back on

- refuse to help someone in trouble or need

She turned her back on her friend when she asked for help writing the exam paper.

turn one`s stomach

- make one feel sick

Seeing the car accident turned my stomach.

turn on one`s heel

- turn around suddenly

The mailman turned on his heel when when he saw the large dog.

turn out

- make someone leave or go away

The man decided to turn his son out of the house when he refused to get a job.

turn out

- turn inside out, empty

He turned out his pockets when he was looking for his car keys.

turn out

- result, end, prove to be true

At first we thought the weather would be terrible but it actually turned out fine.

turn out

- make, produce

The car company is turning out over 8,000 cars a week now.

turn out

- come or go out to see or do something

Over 50.000 people turned out for the football game.

turn out

- make a light go out

He always turns out the light if he doesn`t need it.

turn over

- roll over, upset

The ferry turned over during the winter storm.

turn over

- give to someone for use or care

I turned over the keys of my apartment to the landlord when I went away for a month.

turn over

- start an engine or motor

It was too cold in the morning so the car engine would not turn over.

turn over

- sell

We were able to turn over most of our stock of air conditioners during the summer.

turn over a new leaf

- make a fresh start

I`m going to turn over a new leaf and begin to practice the piano every day.

turn over in one`s grave

- be so angry that one would not rest quietly in one`s grave

My grandmother would turn over in her grave if she knew that I had lost my job and was not working.

turn tail

- run away from trouble or danger

The young boys turned tail when the farmer began to chase them from the field.

turn the clock back

- return to an earlier period

The politician wanted to turn the clock back to an earlier time but of course everyone knew it was impossible.

turn the other cheek

- let someone do something to you and not try to get revenge

He decided to turn the other cheek when the man tried to start a fight in the restaurant.

turn the tables

- reverse the situation

The opposing team were able to finally turn the tables and won the game.

turn the tide

- change what looks like defeat into victory

At the beginning of the game they were losing badly but they turned the tide and finally won the game.

turn the trick

- bring about the result one wants, succeed in what one plans to do

He wanted to win two prizes at the competition but was unable to turn the trick and only won one.

turn thumbs down

- disapprove or reject, say no

My supervisor turned thumb downs to my plan to work on a more flexible schedule.

turn to

- go to for help

He turned to his wife`s parents for advice about buying a house.

turn up

- appear suddenly

They turned up when the party was almost over.

turn up

- find, discover

My wallet turned up in my suit jacket - just where I left it.

turn up one`s nose at

- refuse as not being good enough for one

He turned up his nose at the offer of a job in another department of the company.

twiddle one`s thumbs

- not busy, not working

He was sitting around twiddling his thumbs all day and didn`t get any work done.

twist someone around one`s little finger

- have complete control over someone and be able to make them do anything you want

She is able to easily twist her supervisor around her little finger and gets whatever she wants at work.

twist one`s arm

- force someone or threaten someone to make them do something

He didn`t have to twist my arm to get me to go to the movie. I wanted to go anyway.

two bits

- twenty-five cents, a quarter of a dollar

He bought several used books for two bits each.

two cents

- something not important or very small, almost nothing

Although his stereo works well I wouldn`t give him two cents for it.

two cents worth

- something one wants to say, opinion

He is always talking and I never have a chance to put in my two cents worth.


- disloyal, untrustworthy

I think he is two-faced and can never be trusted.

Idiom Quizzes - T

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

1. I wanted to (wear) the denim jeans before I bought them.

(a) throw the book at (b) try on (c) think up (d) talk over

2. He likes to (relax) and spend his Sunday watching sports on T.V.

(a) take it easy (b) take a powder (c) take something lying down (d) think twice about something

3. I heard it (from my co-workers) that the company was going to change our working conditions.

(a) through the grapevine (b) taken for granted (c) taking sides (d) through the mill

4. After dating for about a year they decided to (get married).

(a) talk through their hat (b) take themselves to the cleaners (c) turn the tables (d) take the plunge

5. We have to (deal with) the problem before it becomes worse.

(a) take after (b) take part in (c) think up (d) talk over

6. Our company (took control of) the other company after they closed their business.

(a) took over (b) turned to (c) tracked down (d) tipped off

7. We (assumed) that the resorts would be very crowded in the summer so we went early.

(a) turned over a new leaf (b) fought tooth and nail (c) took it for granted (d) tied the knot

8. The weather was beautiful so we (made good use of) it and went swimming in the river.

(a) tied the knot with (b) tipped someone off with (c) threw in the towell with (d) took advantage of

9. He doesn`t like to go to a (major tourist attraction) because there are too many people.

(a) tower of strength (b) tourist trap (c) third degree (d) tenterhooks

10. There is only one T. V. so we have to (alternate) in deciding which program to watch.

(a) turn the tables (b) tighten our belt (c) take turns (d) tide them over

11. He really (lost a lot of money) on his stocks last year.

(a) turned the tables (b) turned on someone (c) traded somethng in (d) took a beating

12. The child took the book and (ripped it to pieces).

(a) threw cold water on it (b) tore it up (c) took a powder (d) took someone for a ride

13. He is (busy) with his family responsibilities.

(a) taking a trip (b) tied down (c) twiddling his thumbs (d) two-faced

14. He (attempted) climbing the mountain but stopped because of the weather.

(a) twiddled his thumbs (b) took a crack at (c) tripped the light fantastic (d) tried on

15. I can never (distinguish between) the two buildings.

(a) track down (b) turn out (c) take turns with (d) tell apart

16. We have begun to (spend less money) because of the bad economic conditions.

(a) be tickled pink (b) throw in the towel (c) tighten our belt (d) turn the tables

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