Idioms Crime Doesnt Pay Essay

8.3. CRIME DOESN’T PAY

8.3.1

Introduction

A  

Read the comment below and say

how far you agree or disagree with it.           

‘Crime doesn’t pay because you always get caught in the end.’

Listening 

B

Read the text and then listen to the

recording. Find eleven significant

differences between the two reports.

An unemployed man killing time before a date decided to turn to crime to ease his money problems. He wrote out a note reading ‘I’ve got a gun in my pocket and I’ll shoot it off unless you hand over the money’.

But David Smith, aged 21, failed to get any cash in spite of going into three shops in London Road, West Croydon.

At a chemist’s a girl assistant refused to accept the note, believing that it contained an obscene suggestion. Next door, in a hardware shop, the Asian assistant said that he could not read English.

In desperation Smith, of High Road, Whitelea, Kent, went to a takeaway food shop, but the assistant could not read the note because he did not have his glasses.

Smith told the police: ‘I’ve been a fool. When the judge hears about this, he won’t believe anyone could be so stupid. I only pretended to have a gun’.

8.3.2

Vocabulary

Read the newspaper articles below

and try to work out the meaning

of the multi-word verbs in italics.            

The Straight and Narrow BREAKDOWN IN LAW AND ORDER

The literary world was taken aback               A police spokesman said yesterday that law and

yesterday when the famous author,                 order is breaking down in some inner-city areas.

Arnold Swift, was found guilty of                   He was speaking after a night in which two riots

stealing copies of his latest novel from            had broken out and several serious crimes had  

a bookshop. The magistrate said that               been reported. ‘At present, too many people think

he would let him off lightly with a £50            they can commit a crime and get away with it,’

fine, but warned him that any further               he said.

offences would result in a more serious

punishment. The novel is called Keeping                                       BOMB BLUST

to the straight and narrow.                                        A bomb went off in a central car park in the

                                                                                    early hours of yesterday morning. Police

HARDENED CRIMINALS  sealed off several streets and carried out a

Two men who escaped from prison by                      detailed search of the area. It appears the

hiding inside a cement mixer were                             bomb was intended for a busy shopping 

recaptured last night when they gave                          centre nearby.

themselves up to the police. It seems

that the two men, who were described                                        caught red-handed

as hardened criminals, had been unable                      Yesterday, Gregory Brush, 24, was

to get very far because of the quick-drying               convicted of the attempted robbery of a paint

cement that had stuck to their feet. The                     factory in Leeds. It was reported that he fell

prison authorities have said they will                         into a large drum of red paint while trying to

set up a committee to look into security                     escape with the money. He was rescued by a

at the prison.                                                                night watchman and gave himself up when

                                                                     police arrived to arrest him. He owned up to the crime

                                                          and pleaded guilty at his trial.

DefinitionB     Match the multi-word verbs with their definitions:
1. to give oneself up (to someone)a. to prevent people getting in or out of an area or building by closing all the entrances
2. to own up (to doing something) b. to surprise or shock someone with something contrary to expectation
3. to take someone aback c. to explode, detonate, or ignite to make a sudden loud noise
4. to let someone off (with something)d. to begin suddenly, usually in an unpleasant and violent way
5. to set something upe. to admit or confess to a crime or doing something wrong
6. to carry something outf. to fail, cease or collapse because of a problem or disagreement
7. to go off g. to establish something, to make the arrangements and preparation for something to start
8. to seal something off h. to punish someone lightly or not at all (informal)
9. to break downi. to allow oneself to be arrested or captured
10.  to break outj. to perform or conduct something

Drills

C

Listen to the sentences. Use the prompts

you hear to make sentences with the

same meaning.

8.3.3

Practice

A   

Read the newspaper extracts below.

Substitute, where appropriate, the

multi-word verbs from this unit.

  1. A recent survey, conducted by a national newspaper, shows that the traditional two-parent family is collapsing and is gradually being replaced by single-parent family.

  1. Bank robbers who managed to hide themselves in a time-lock safe in an attempt to steal £3 million, found they were unable to escape when their explosives failed to detonate. They did not resist arrest when security guards opened the safe two days later.
  1. A woman whose 6-year-old daughter was killed by a drunk driver has complained that the judge only gave the man a six-month suspended sentence and a £250 fine. The Home Secretary has said he will be establishing a committee to look into the sentencing guidelines for such cases.
  1. Shortly after the match, fighting suddenly began among the supporters of two rival football teams. The police stopped people entering or leaving the town centre in an attempt to contain the violence.
  1. Jayne Wilson confessed to stealing £15,000 from the company where she worked when she was caught red-handed by a security camera which recorded her placing the money in her briefcase. ‘I was shocked and surprised when I saw the recording,’ said the managing director. ‘I thought she was someone we could trust completely.’

Collocation

B

Which of the words can be used with

the multi-word verbs? Up to three

items may be correct.                

1. The judge let him off with _____________________

a. a warning               b. a suspended sentence         

c. the death penalty    d. a two-year prison sentence

2. They have set up _____________________

a. a business     b. a birthday party   c. an inquiry   d. a research team

3. They have carried out ___________________

a. an experiment   b. a committee   c. an inquiry  d. a test

4.  a. The alarm clock   b. The fireworks    c. The gun     d. The telephone

________________ went off.

5. a. A new film    b. A flu epidemic     c. A fire     d. An argument

________________ has broken out.

6.  a. Peace talks    b. The holidays   c. Negotiations   d. Community relations

_________________ have broken down.

8.3.4

Idiom

A

Explain the meaning of the expressions

in bold. Give Russian or Belarusian

equivalents to them.

  1. He had kept to the straight and narrow all his life, so we were taken aback when we heard he had committed a serious crime.
  2. It was a case of poetic justice. While the burglar was away on holiday someone broke into his house and stole everything.
  3. The judge’s responsibility is to ensure that a suitable punishment is given. In other words, the punishment should fit the crime.
  4. When the man was found not guilty of killing the children, the local people took the law into their own hands. They set fire to his house and forced him to leave the area.

Off 

How multi-word verbs work. What is the

general meaning of the particle off 

when used with the verbs below?

  1. They let off some fireworks to celebrate.
  2. Price increases sparked off violent protests.
  3. The bomb went off without warning.
  4. The assassination triggered off a civil war.
  5. The bomb was set off by remote control from a safe distance.

C     What is the difference between to set up an 

investigation and to carry out an investigation?

8.3.5

Activate

A  

Answer the following questions using words

from this unit.

  1. What do you think when you hear an abrupt loud sound in the street?
  2. Your friend has been involved in a petty crime. It is probable the police will catch him. What would you advise him to do?
  3. If you discovered something surprising or shocking about someone you have known for a long time, what would your reaction be?
  4. What can cause riots to start suddenly?
  5. Which of the following people would you punish lightly or not at all?
    1.  poor woman caught stealing food from a supermarket
    2. someone caught stealing small items from work
    3. a student traveling on a bus without a ticket who refuses to pay a fine
    4. a 13-year-old boy caught breaking into a parked car
  1. Can you think of examples of people who have been punished lightly for crimes they committed? If so, what were the crimes?

Interaction

B   Discuss the questions below.             
  1. A man tries to steal some money from your bag. You catch him red-handed. What do you do?
  2. How important is it that people in public life, such as politicians, keep to the straight and narrow in their private lives?
  3. What is your reaction when you hear about a case of poetic justice?
  4. Why is it so important that the punishment should fit the crime? What is the result if it doesn’t?
  5. When, if ever, is it right to take the law into your own hands?

8.3.6

Idiom

A

Read the dialogue and try to

explain the idioms in bold.

- So Inspector … What do you make of the burglaries?

- Well Mr Sparks, I’d say you’ve got 1) a rotten apple in the company.

- Are you suggesting that staff are involved?

- That’s what I said. Yes, it was certainly 2) an inside job, masterminded by one of your own      people.

- Wh-Why would you say that?

- No broken windows or locks tend to suggest that the burglar had a key. Wouldn’t you agree, Mr Sparks?

- Um …

- Come on Mr Sparks, 3) spill the beans. We know you were involved. Just give us the details now.

- But, Inspector, I didn’t do anything. Why are you 4) pointing the finger at me?

- You thought you couldn’t 5) put a foot wrong, didn’t you? But unfortunately, you and one of you accomplices were seen leaving the building.

- What rubbish! That’s a lie. I was nowhere near the building!

- I’m afraid there’s evidence Mr Sparks, such as the video from the security camera and the     fingerprints on the safe. Hm, it appears that you didn’t 6) cover your tracks as well as you thought you had! Now … are you going to stop lying and 7) come clean or are you going to make it difficult for yourself?

- I never wanted to do it Inspector, but I was desperate – I needed the money. Am I going to have to 8) do time for this?

- I’m afraid so. Yes, you’re definitely 9) in hot water Mr Sparks. Ah yes, one more thing …

Are you intending to 10) carry the can for your accomplices as well or are you going to tell me who they are?

Definition

B  Match the items with the idioms from Part A.
    1. a crime committed by somebody within a company / group, etc.   
    2. somebody / something that is a bad influence on others
    3. to confess to something
    4. in trouble
    5. to make mistakes
    6. to reveal information / the truth
    7. to hide / get rid of incriminating evidence
    8. to accuse
    9. to serve a prison sentence
    10. to take the blame (for somebody else)

Practice

CInsert the idioms into the dialogue below.

Policeman:

Oliver, this is the third time in as many months I’ve caught you stealing. It’ll probably be prison this time. What do you have to say for yourself?

Oliver:

I’m sorry, Sergeant Nixon.

Policeman:

It was Gary O’Grady’s idea, wasn’t it? He’s a 1) … you know. Don’t be a fool. Don’t 2) … because of him. Just 3) … .

Oliver:

I won’t 4) … my friends.

Policeman:     

Gary must think you’re a fool, you know. You 5) … for him every time. Well, you’ll have plenty of time to think about it in prison.

Word Use 

D   Fill in the gaps in the following sentences:       
  1. The criminal made sure that he had … before he left the scene of the murder.
  2. After three days of interrogation, the prisoner finally … and told the police who his accomplice was.
  3. Marjorie is very diligent and responsible in her work. She never … .
  4. My sister got into … with my parents after she stayed out late on a school night.
  5. The police concluded that the crime must have been … as no one else but the bank employees know the combination of the safe.  

8.3.7

Idiom   

A   

Read the dialogue and try to explain the idioms in bold.

- Officer Brown? It’s Mrs Witherbottom from the residents’ association in Widdey Grove.

- Oh yes, right. What can I do for you?

- I’m afraid we’ve had more break-ins, and the police don’t seem to be doing anything about it. You can’t just 1) brush the problem under the carpet, you know!

- Mrs Witherbottom! We’re doing our best!

- Oh really? Well, we’ve been waiting for someone to 2) blow the whistle on these burglars for long enough, so we’ve decided to do something about it ourselves. In fact, Mrs Simms and her dog Rambo 3) caught one of them in the act this morning!

- Mrs Simms and Rambo?

- Yes, she saw him just as he was about to break into Mrs Boyd’s house, so 4) on the spur of the moment, she set Rambo on him! Honestly, these young hooligans think they can 5) get away with murder 6) in broad daylight, too!

- Oh no! Is the lad alright? I mean, you can’t attack people Mrs Witherbottom – even if they are criminals! You have to do these things 7) by the book!

- Yes, yes. Well, Rambo certainly caught him 8) off guard! He tried to 9) cut and run, of course, but he had no chance of escape with Rambo there!

- But is the boy okay?

- Oh yes, just a few cuts and bruises, but good old Rambo 10) taught him a lesson, that’s for sure!

- Thank goodness! Right Mrs Witherbottom, don’t go anywhere. I’m on my way.

Definition

B   Match the items with idioms from Part A.
    1. in the daytime / when it is easy to see
    2. to hide / ignore something illegal / unpleasant / embarrassing, etc.
    3. spontaneously
    4. by surprise
    5. to punish somebody in order to improve their behaviour
    6. to make a quick escape
    7. according to the law / rules
    8. to discover somebody in the act of wrongdoing
    9. to do something terrible / illegal without being punished
    10. to stop something bad or illegal from happening by telling the authorities

Practice

C   

Rephrase the sentences using the words

in brackets. Do not change these words

in any way.

  1. The Armstrongs had their house burgled in the daytime. (broad)
  2. Arthur and Vanessa suddenly decided to escape. (moment)
  3. Young Jack never gets punished because he’s got such an innocent face. (murder)
  4. I’m sorry it’s taking so long but we have to do it according to the law. (book)
  5. The magistrate was surprised by the reporter’s comment about his alleged involvement with organized crime. (guard)

Check Yourself 

D  

Fill in the missing verbs to complete

the idioms. Use them to make up

sentences of your own.                                    

1. to … and run

2. to … the whistle

3. to … somebody a lesson

4. to … something under the carpet

5. to … somebody in the act

8.3.8

Rephrase  

A  

Replace the words in bold with suitable idioms.

  1. The man refused to take all the blame and quickly identified his accomplices.
  2. The businessman denied having tried to hide dishonest deals and swore that all of his business transactions were done legally.
  3. Unless we get rid of the evidence, the police are sure to find us and then we’ll have to go to prison!
  4. The police caught the thief as he was committing the crime so he knew he was in big trouble.
  5. The criminal thought he could escape without punishment until his accomplice told the truth about what had happened.

B    Change the sentences using the words in brackets.

  1. When the teacher asked Mary who had stolen her book she said it was Bert. (pointed)
  2. Jill rarely makes mistakes; she’s far too careful. (foot)
  3. The robber felt so guilty that he went to the police station and told them what he had done. (clean)
  4. Paul is in jail now because he stole money from the company where he worked. (time)
  5. If you lie to the police, you’ll almost certainly end up in trouble. (hot)
  6. Although Sam knew he’d be expelled if he took the blame for his friends, he still wouldn’t betray them. (can)
  7. The politician was ashamed of his careless mistake and tried to pretend it hadn’t happened. (carpet)
  8. I know Craig read your diary – I discovered him reading it in the kitchen! (act)
  9. When Mr Simms came home the burglars managed to run away quickly. (cut)
  10. Nobody knew the truth about the actress until her ex-husband revealed her secrets in a book about their marriage. (beans) 

8.3.9

Word Choice

Choose the word which best completes

each sentence.                                         

1. Before they could incite the other workers, the two rotten … were fired.

a.  grapes    b.  oranges   c.  apples   d.  pears

2. The detective suspected that the crime was an inside … .

a. job   b.  work   c.  career  d.  task

3. The robbers didn’t cover their … very well, so the police found them easily.

a. footsteps   b. rails    c. trails   d.  tracks

4. If Marcy finds out about this, she’ll soon blow the … on what we’re doing.

a. whistle   b.  horn    c.  trumpet   d.  pipe

5. We decided to go to Paris for the weekend on the … of the moment.

a.  spike    b.  point    c.  spur    d.  blade

6. Mrs Johnson’s grandson gets away with …; she never punishes him, no matter how naughty he is.

a.  assault   b.  murder   c.  robbery   d.  burglary

7. I couldn’t believe it when I saw them together in … daylight!

a.  thick    b.  actual    c.  full    d.  broad

8. Unless we do everything by the …, we’ll get into trouble.

a.  book   b.  page    c.  police   d.  law

9. The question caught the politician off … and he fell silent, unable to find an answer.

a.  balance   b.  side    c.  notice    d.  guard

10. You should send him to bed without any supper. That will teach him a … .

a.  subject    b.  lesson     c.  theory     d.  trick

Correction

B   Replace the incorrect idioms with suitable alternative.
  1. It’s going to be difficult to prove that he’s guilty as he never seems to put a foot wrong.
  2. Don’t tell Greg about Jack’s surprise party – he’s bound to carry the can.
  3. Most employers are unwilling to hire anyone who has done time.
  4. The enemy caught out soldiers off guard and were easily able to capture the city.
  5. It was amazing that no one saw the attack as it took place in hot water.
  6. Sheila likes to plan everything carefully, so she rarely does anything on the spur of the moment.
  7. The police rushed to the scene of the crime, but the criminals had already blown the whistle by the time they arrived.
  8. After Bob’s mother caught him pulling his sister’s hair, she sent him to bed early to catch him in the act.
  9. The government tried to brush the increasing unemployment figures under the carpet.
  10. The police were certain that the theft was a rotten apple as the thief had known exactly where to find the files.

Activate

Answer the questions below:                    
  1. If someone spills the beans, do they come clean? Why / Why not?
  2. If someone is a rotten apple should you teach them a lesson? Why / Why not?
  3. If you don’t want someone to get away with murder, should you blow the whistle on them? Why / Why not?
  4. If you want to catch somebody in the act, is it easier if they are off guard? Why / Why not?
  5. If someone is in hot water, is it because they’ve put a foot wrong? Why / Why not?

8.3.10

Opinion

Read the following extract and

answer the questions below.              

Three strikes and you’re out

California’s new ‘three strikes’ law, which was introduced with overwhelming public support, requires people with a serious criminal conviction to receive twice the normal sentence when convicted of a second felony – and 25 years of life for any third offence. In the recent case, this resulted in a jail sentence of 25 years for a man found guilty of stealing pizza from a group of children.  

  1. Why do you think this law was introduced?
  2. What effects could it have?
  3. Is it a sensible law, in your opinion?
  4. Does the punishment always fit the crime when this law is applied?

Reading

B  

Five people are talking about how they were

treated by others when they had done

something wrong. Discuss which of these

situations you regard as the most serious.

Which of them amounts to breaking the law?

Speaker 1

Oh, I can remember coming home one night and my parents had locked me out. I was nearly 16 at the time and I was supposed to be in by 10 o’clock and this time I’d missed the bus so it was nearly midnight by the time I got home. Of course they let me in after a bit, but for those few minutes I thought I was going to have to sleep on the doorstep!

Speaker 2

It was my first week in a new job and my boss had asked me to send a load of faxes to various company branches. It was nearly time to go home when he gave them to me, so I thought they could wait until morning. Unfortunately they were about a meeting the following day and so nobody turned up. There was all hell to pay and in fact after a few more disasters I was sacked. It was a lesson I learned the hard way, I can tell you.

Speaker 3

I was teaching my son to drive at the time and I thought it would be a good idea to see if he could park the car close to the pavement. He did a splendid job, and as we were in town we popped into a few shops to do a bit of shopping. When we came out the car had gone. We thought it must have been stolen so I spotted a traffic warden and ran over to her. She gave me a funny look and asked if it was a red Saab and when I said yes that it was, she explained, stony-faced, that it had been illegally parked and had therefore been towed away. I was flabbergasted!

Speaker 4

I was coming home from the pub last Friday with a couple of mates and as we’d had a bit to drink I was wheeling my scooter along the pavement. Just then a police van drew up and two policemen jumped out. I thought they thought I’d stolen it so I showed them the keys. Instead they breathalysed me and took me off to the station and charged me for being ‘drunk in charge of a motor vehicle’. A bit strong, I thought, specially as I hadn’t been riding it and if I’d left the scooter outside the pub, it would probably have got nicked!

Speaker 5

When I came back from abroad I did something really stupid. I brought my cat with me. I knew it wasn’t allowed, but you see I just couldn’t bear to be parted from him and it didn’t seem so awful at the time. However I got reported. I never did find out who it was, and although I got told off and fined, which was all pretty humiliating, the worst thing was they took him away and had him put down. I was heartbroken.

Comprehension

C  

Decide what each of those people feel

about the punishment they received. Match

the speakers to the reactions below.                 

1. unfairly treated

2. worried about what might have happened

3. surprised by the severity

4. tough but just

5. terrified by the suddenness

6. unconcerned about the outcome

7. extremely upset

8. relieved but annoyed

Interaction

D  

Interview each other about situations when

you did something which was considered to

be wrong. Say, how you felt at the time and

whether you were treated fairly.

8.3.11

Translation

Translate the text and express your

opinion onwhether the hero of this

story is right or wrong in his opinions and actions.

Sometimes he researched subjects of interest to him, through Prodigy and Genie. More often, however, he explored ways to gain unapproved access to private and government computers that were protected by sophisticated security programs.

Once entry was achieved, he was engaged in illegal activity. He never destroyed any company’s or agency’s files, never inserted false data. Still, he was guilty of trespassing in private domains. He could live with that.

He was not seeking material rewards. His compensation was knowledge – and the occasional satisfaction of righting a wrong. Like the Beckwatt case.

The previous December, when a serial child molester – Henry Beckwatt – was to be released from prison after serving less than 5 years, the California State Parole Board had refused, in the interest of prisoner rights, to divulge the name of the community in which he would be residing during the term of his parole. Because Beckwatt had beaten some of his victims and expressed no remorse, his pending release raised anxiety levels in parents statewide.

Taking great pains to cover his tracks, Spencer had first gained entry to the Los Angeles Police Department’s computers, stepped from there to the State Attorney General’s system in Sacramento, and from there into the parole board’s computer, where he finessed the address to which Beckwatt would be paroled. Anonymous tips to a few reporters forced the parole board to delay action until a secret new placement could be worked out. During the following 5 weeks, Spencer exposed 3 more addresses for Beckwatt, shortly after each was arranged.

Although officials had been in a frenzy to uncover an imagined snitch within the parole system, no one had wondered, at least not publicly, if the leak had been from their electronic-data files, sprung by a clever hacker. Finally admitting defeat, they paroled Beckwatt to an empty caretaker’s house on the grounds of San Quentin.

In a couple of years, when his period of post-prison supervision ended, Beckwatt would be free to prowl again, and he would surely destroy more children psychologically if not physically. For the time being, however, he was unable to settle into a lair in the middle of a neighbourhood of unsuspecting innocents.

If Spencer could have discovered a way to access God’s computer, he would have tampered with Henry Beckwatt’s destiny by giving him an immediate and mortal stroke or by walking him into the path of a runaway truck. He wouldn’t have hesitated to ensure the justice that modern society, in its Freudian confusion and moral paralysis, found difficult to impose.

He was not a hero, not a scarred and computer-wielding cousin of Batman, not out to save the world.

8.3.12

Speaking

Read the text below. Learn the words in bold.

Speak of the differences between the real life

ways of investigation and those described in detective stories.

Real crime and pseudo crime

In the traditional English detective story, written by someone like Agatha Christie, the crime is nearly always murder. It often takes place in a country house, and the local inspector, who undertakes the investigation, is incapable of solving the case, and needs the help of a private detective. The detective begins by making a series of inquiries and looking for clues. The suspects are usually upper class, and have a motive for killing the victim. The detective eventually resolves the mystery by inviting all those under suspicion to meet. He sets a trap for the murderer, and establishes his guilt by going through the evidence. The murderer obligingly gives himself away, and confesses, providing the proof of the detective’s accusation. The grateful police inspector arrives to make the formal charge and put the murderer under arrest.

In real life, the crime is usually not murder but an offence against property, on a scale ranging from shoplifting through theft to burglary and robbery with violence. Other offences involving money like fraud and forgery, are also much more common than murder. If the case is solved, it is usually because the police receive information that puts them on the track of the criminal or he leaves traces behind him such as fingerprints. Sometimes offering a reward helps to convict someone. But few thieves or robbers confess unless they know they will be found guilty and hope to get a lighter sentence, and the police seldom invite them to a party with other suspects!

8.3.13

Story making

Mystery man’. You are detectives working for

the missing persons office in a big city police

headquarters. A man has been found wandering

in the streets, suffering from loss of memory.

Look at the following pieces of evidence and try 

to make up a theory about the man – what he

does, where he comes from, etc.

  1. The man looks European; he has a dark complexion and black hair. He is about 40, tall and athletic, but rather overweight.
  2. He is dressed in pink silk pyjamas, made in Bangkok.
  3. When questioned, he only says ‘I can’t remember’, in English but with a strong French accent.
  4. His hands are covered with engine oil.
  5. He has a bag containing the following:
  1. $60,000 in US currency
  2. photographs of three beautiful women: two European-looking, one Oriental
  3. a photograph of the British Minister of Defence
  4. a receipt from a car-hire firm
  5. two love letters: one in English, beginning ‘My Darling Freddy’, and the other in French, beginning ‘Serge, mon amour’
  6. a gun with a number removed
  7. a screwdriver
  8. a silver spoon
  9. one more thing (anything you like)

8.3.14

Writing

Choose one of the following sentences and

write a newspaper article on the topic, using

as many words from  this unit as possible.

  1. ‘Despite our familiarity with this kind of thing, we were sickened,’ said a police spokesman.
  2. He was banned from driving for two years and fined $1,000.
  3. The victim is recovering in hospital.
  4. They got away with $50,000 in used notes.
  5. The missing paintings were described by the director of the museum as ‘priceless’.

Learn English Idioms


Figurative phrases or popular expressions that children and English language learners come across can be confusing because their meaning is different from each of their individual words. We offer a collection of useful idioms, explanations of their meaning, and links to relevant stories that provide context.

Beginner English learners may enjoy Pre-K Wordplay! for phonics practice, very short stories and idiom phrases in Aesop's Fables, and our collection of Short Stories for Children. Phrases are offered alphabetically below; use your control-F key function to search for specific idiom phrases.

Are you a teacher? We offer Teacher Resources across all grade-levels


10-4

A CB or ham radio expression meaning "OK"

800 pound gorilla

Something big or obvious that people may be missing or ignore

A barking dog never bites

An expression meaning making threats but never carrying them out

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

Something of some value that's already acquired. It's better to have a lesser but certain advantage than the possibility of a greater one that may come to nothing.

A chicken and egg situation

An expression meaning it's not clear which event preceded the other

Achilles heel

A weakness or vulnerability, something or someone that causes pain and won't go away

Acting like a chicken with its head cut-off

Panicking and just running or doing without thinking (the result might not change anything anyway)

Acting like an angel

Being very good

A dog and pony show

Organizing an event or show to impress others or explain the value of something

A "draw"

A tie or even match, no definite winner

A good egg

A good quality or individual

A hard egg to crack

A difficult situation to resolve

All eyes (or ears) are on you

An expression meaning you are paying attention completely

A man is known by the company he keeps.

People often judge you by your friends or the people you associate yourself with. Choose good friends, it affects how other people think of you. Story link: The Ass and His Purchaser

A nod and a wink, or a nod is as good as a wink

Only a slight sign in needed to clearly understand something

All thumbs

Not able to use your hands properly, fumbling

Ants in your pants

An expression meaning someone is unable to hold still or very anxious or uncomfortable

Apple doesn't fall far from the tree

An expression usually referring to a child who exhibits the same behavior as their parent

A quack

A reference to a doctor who does more harm than good or is not qualified to deliver medical care. Story link: The Quack Toad

As fate would have it

An expression meaning things turned out the way they were meant to be

A sly dog

Someone who used devious, dishonest or misleading means to ensure a favorable outcome

As mad as a hatter

A long time ago, people who made hats used a substance that gave them an illness which made people think they were crazy. Book link: Alice in Wonderland

At the blink of an eye

An expression meaning a very short period of time (as long as it takes to blink?)

Back seat driver

Trying to take control of a situation from a remote or unreachable location (literally trying to drive from the back seat)

Back-talk

To inappropriately reply to someone else (usually an authority-figure) in a disrespectful way

Bad apple

Someone who is mean or is likely to spoil other's fun

Bad faith

Lying to oneself or failing to acknowledge one's own ability to act and determine one's possibilities

Bad to the bone

Describing someone who is REALLY bad

Bail you out

This expression means to help someone or get them out of trouble

Balanced meal

Eating a nutritionally varied meal including protein, carbohydrates, fats, and sugars

Bare-faced or bald-faced lie

An obvious lie

Bare minimum

An expression meaning to do the minimum required to pass, see also "skating by"

Baring (or bearing) your soul

Meaning to show your vulnerability or emotions to another

Bark is worse than bite

An expression meaning someone's threat or danger is overstated

Beat around the bush

Tell it like it is, be direct or say what you mean

Beat of a different drummer

An expression meaning someone who may not follow conventions, takes action without peer pressure

Beat you with the ugly stick

An expression meaning someone is ugly

Beg-off

An expression to decline from participating, usually at the last minute and after commiting to do it

Be careful what you wish for

An expression which means to really think through the implications of what you think you want first. Story link: The Monkey's Paw

Be happy with your lot in life

Appreciate your circumstances and enjoy them. Story link: The Fox and the Crab

Be the toast of the town

An expression meaning you are liked, well-regarded or admired

Better safe than sorry

Don't take a chance doing something that's risky, stick with the sure thing

Between a rock and a hard place

An expression meaning to have no choice of ability to change course.

Bite the bullet

Accept something difficult and live with it

Blind as a bat

An expression meaning not being able to see very well (bats use echolocation, rather than sight)

Blind date

Going out with someone whom you have never met, usually arranged by a mutual friend

Blowing a lot of hot air

Talking excessively without really saying anything important

Bob's your uncle

It means "it's not what you know, but who you know" referring to unearned favoritism, named after the British Prime Minister Robert "Bob" Cecil who appointed his undeserving nephew as Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1887. It's evolved to also mean "and there you have it" used after someone concludes a set of simple instructions. Example: "Right over left, left over right, and Bob's your uncle, a knot."

Bone chilling

Cold or scary

Bottom's up

An expression meaning to drink your beer or other beverage until it's empty. Poem link: Lines on Ale

Break a leg

Do well at a performance or on stage

Brown-nose, ass-kisser, kiss-ass

Someone who acts or does things solely for the praise or recognition of someone else

Bull in a china shop

An expression meaning to be too big, rough, or brawny for a delicate situation where everything might break

Burning a candle from both ends

Working so hard that you will wear yourself out or extinguish your energy. Poem link: First Fig

Busy as a beaver, or busy as a bee

Hardworking, industrious

Butter someone up

Get one someone's good side so they'll do what you want them to do

By hook or by crook

An expression meaning getting something done by any possible means, literary reference to Captain Hook. Book link: Peter Pan

Call off the dogs

An expression meaning to stop attacking or criticizing someone

Carrot or the stick

Provide an incentive, rather than a punishment to get people to do what you want

Catching some "z's"

I'm going to get some sleep

Catch the eye of someone

An expression meaning to get someone's attention by making eye contact at the same time

Cat's got your tongue?

An expression asking why you are being unusually quiet

C'est la vie

A French phrase often used in English meaning "That's life"

Change your tune, or sing a different tune

An expression meaning to have a change of heart or opinion about something

Cheap-skate

Someone who goes out of their way to avoid spending money

Claim-jumper

Someone who has illegally seized or stolen property or the rights of another

Clock is ticking

An expression meaning time is running out, commonly used to refer to a woman getting older who may want to have a baby

Clowning around

Acting silly

Cold shoulder

An expression meaning to conspicuously turn away or ignore someone

Come clean

Expression means to confess one's actions, reveal the truth

Come hell or high water

An expression meaning determined: you'll do something no matter what

Come out of your shell

When someone is comfortable acting as themselves instead of being guarded

Cop-out

An excuse, rather than taking full responsibility

Couch potato

An expression meaning someone is very lazy or sedentary, they could lay on the couch all day without moving

Cross my heart and hope to die

An expression meaning to promise

Cutting off your nose to spite your face

Needless and destructive over-reaction to a problem

Day dreaming

Drifting off in your thoughts to think about other pleasant things instead of concentrating on the subject at hand

Dead meat

An expression meaning to be in trouble or likely to be harmed

Deal with the hand (or cards) you were dealt

Accept your circumstances

Death's door

An expression meaning to look so bad, like you may be close to death

Deer in the headlights

Standing still in a panic or paralyzed with fear

Devil makes work for idle hands

An expression, usually used to remind children to remain busy, so they don't have time to create mischief (or commit crimes)

Devil's advocate

An expression meaning to pursue a line of questioning which questions or opposes whatever position is being expressed

Devil's in the details

An expression meaning the hard part is sorting out all the details, after a major agreement has been reached

Dime a dozen

Something is cheap or inexpensive or easy to acquire

Dip-shit

A derogatory phrase meaning someone isn't very smart or is stupid

Doesn't know shit from shinola

An expression meaning clueless, referring to a brand of shoe polish in the USA, only one of these two things would be good to apply to your shoes, so if you don't know the difference, you are clueless

Dog-ear

To fold down a corner of a page to mark a place in a book, or something from paper with corners worn with use

Dog eat dog

An expression meaning a very competitive situation in which people can be cruel and relentless. Book link: The Call of the Wild

Dog with a bone

An expression describing someone who won't give up or stop talking about something, wants more. Story link, related to being greedy and losing what you have: The Dog and His Reflection

Don't be like the grasshopper!

An expression meaning that if you play all the time, instead of working, you might be sorry (and hungry) when times get tough. Story link: The Ant and the Grasshopper

Don't bite off more than you can chew

Do not promise more than you can deliver or try to take too much. Story link: The Goatherd and the Goat

Don't count your eggs until they've hatched

An expression meaning don't act on the promise or potential of something, wait until you know something is certain

Don't fix what ain't broke

Don't worry about something if it works, meddling can cause more problems

Don't let the fox guard the henhouse

Don't assign the duty of protecting or controlling valuable information or resources to someone who is likely to exploit that opportunity.

Don't lose the forest for the trees

An expression meaning to not get so engrossed in details that you lose sight of the big picture. Story link: The Ass and Its Shadow

Don't put all your eggs in one basket

Don't rely on just one source or action, spread your resources around in case you lose that one "basket"

Don't throw the baby out with the bath water!

Don't forget to keep what's valuable, only throw out the bad stuff

Down in the dumps

Depressed or upset about something that results in being "down"

Down that rabbit hole

An expression meaning to get distracted or caught up in something confusing that you may not be able to get yourself out of, a literary reference when Alice fell down a hole into a surreal world she couldn't understand. Book link: The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland

Down the road, in the long run

An expression means "in the future"

Drama queen

Someone who over-reacts or acts just to get attention from others

Draw the last straw

Someone who is chosen last or goes last

Early bird gets the worm

You will be rewarded for acting early

Ears are burning

What you say to someone who walks into the room after you've just been talking about them

Ear-shot

An expression meaning within range of someone being able to overhear a conversation

Easy come, easy go

An expression meaning to not get upset and just go along with whatever happens

Eating crow

Humbly accepting a mistake or error by making an apology

Eeny meeny miny moe

An expression referring to a childhood counting game to determine who is "it" and "not it." Poem link: Eeny Meeny Miny Moe

Egg on your face

An expression meaning embarrassment for being caught making a mistake

Egg someone on (stop egging me on!)

An expression meaning to taunt someone to keep doing something or provoke someone to action

Everything's better with bacon

An expression you should know because it's true!

Evil-eye

A superstitious belief that a look or stare from someone could cause material harm. Story link: The Tell-Tale Heart

Eye candy

An expression meaning someone is very attractive and pleasant to look at

Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth

Pay back someone with a punishment which is equivalent to the original offense. Book link: The Bible, Exodus 21:23-25

Eyes are bigger than your stomach

Ordering more food than you can actually eat

Face-value

Take something for what it actually is, not a literal or exaggerated meaning

Fall off the turnip truck

An expression meaning to be gullible or tricked easily. Example: "I didn't just fall off the turnip truck, you know!" Story link: The Turnip

False bill of goods or selling a bill of goods

Making a claim or promise that does not live up to expectations or reality

Feed the fire (or stoke the fire)

Continue to act or provide reason for someone else to remain excited or upset

Feel it in your bones

An expression meaning you know something intuitively to be true

Fence-mender

Someone who helps resolve conflicts among others. Poem link: Mending Wall

Fifth wheel

An extra person that either doesn't help or detracts from the group of four

Fire in the belly

An expression or compliment meaning passion or determination

Fish out of water

An expression meaning something is unnatural or uncomfortable

Fit as a fiddle

An expression meaning to feel great!

Fit to be tied

An expression meaning very upset

Flash in the pan

An expression meaning something won't last or is a temporary sensation, also known as "one hit wonder"

Flying by the seat of your pants

An expression meaning to proceed without preparation or a plan

Follow in your footsteps

Doing something or acting like someone before you

Follow suit

An expression related to playing cards, in which you follow along or do what is required because those are the rules or that's what's expected

Fox in a hen house

Someone or a circumstance which clearly takes advantage of those who are helpless and indefensible

Free-loader

Taking advantage of other's generosity without giving anything in return

Full steam (or speed) ahead

An expression meaning to be on course or proceed as planned at an optimum pace

Get on the stick

An expression meaning to get motivated or begin something

Get the boot

An expression meaning to get kicked out of kicked off by someone in a position of authority

Get the monkey off my back

Resolve a problem that's been bothering you

Get the show on the road

An expression meaning to get started

Get the wheels in motion

Start something

Go fry an egg

Go away and stop bothering me

Going against the grain

Doing or thinking something that is different than what most people are doing (or thinking)

Gold-digger

Someone who covets other people's money, and seeks companions who may spend it for their benefit

Go stag

Going to a dance or event without a partner, when bringing a date might be expected

Goody two shoes

An expression (usually derogatory) describing someone who always does what is right, never gets in to trouble. May have come from a nursery rhyme about an orphan girl with only one shoe. Story link: Goody Two Shoes

Got cold feet

An expression meaning to change one's mind and not proceed with a prior commitment

Got gumption or got grit

A compliment meaning someone is spirted, resourceful, and takes initiative without being afraid

Green thumb

An expression meaning someone who is good at growing plants

Green with envy

An expression meaning you like something so much and wish it was yours

Hail mary

A football and a religious term, whereby someone throws a long pass or tries for something that's a long shot on the chance it may just be successful

Hair of the dog that bit you

An expression meaning go back for a little bit more of what just got you sick (like drinking alcohol to treat a hang-over)

Half in the bag

An expression meaning someone is drunk

Hands-down

An expression meaning it's settled or decided, or a clear outcome

Hang-dog look

Having a self-pitying expression, experiencing defeat or guilt

Hang out to dry

An expression meaning leaving someone vulnerable, without protection. Example: "You just hung him out to dry by not warning him his ex-girlfriend was right around the corner with a new guy."

Hang-over

Being sick from drinking or consuming too much. Example: "She has a hang-over this morning after drinking too much beer last night."

Happy as a pig in shit

An expression of extreme happiness

Happy camper

Someone who is happy with their situation

Happy go lucky

Someone who is not worried in the least about any problems

Have a firm foundation

Be competent or have a solid position upon which to build on

Having a "come to Jesus"

An expression meaning to reveal or express one's true feelings or actions to another in order to understand the truth

Head over heals

An expression meaning being in love

Heads-up!

Literally, look up and get out of the way because something is about to hit you

Heart in hand

Someone who has all their emotions or feelings exposed and vulnerable

Heart on your sleeve

Overly sensitive and easy subject to hurt by little things

heart strings or pulling on your heart strings

An expression meaning to appeal to someone's emotional response or warm sentiment

Heaven help us

A spiritual reference meaning you can't do anything else except rely on faith or fate or God or angels in heaven to save you

Hell in a handbasket

An expression meaning that things just keep getting worse

Hello, sugar pie! sweetie pie, or sweet pea!

A term of endearment or affection

Hen-pecking

An expression meaning to harrass someone for little problems, rather than focus on the big-picture

Here's mud in your eye!

An expression or toast with glasses raised, then everyone drinks their beverage

Here's to your health!

An expression or toast with glasses raised, then everyone drinks their beverage

High on your horse, or acting high and mighty

An expression that means acting smitten, or bigger and more important than you really have a right to be

Highway robbery

Someone is exploiting customers by charging more than something's worth or not delivering services as promised

Hindsight is 20/20

It's easy to see what action should have been taken after the fact

Hit the nail on the head

An expression meaning that's exactly right!

Hogan's goat

Something that is so messed up that it is faulty, not understandable, or stinks like a goat. Named after a European goat farmer, Hoek Hogan, who raised a particularly smelly and ugly goat

Hold your horses, hold the phone

An expression meaning to wait

Hold your tongue! bite your tongue, or watch your mouth

An expression meaning don't speak or stop talking!

Holier than thou

Acting like you are better than someone else

Holy cow!

An expression meaning surprise, similar to "Wow!"

Horsing around or rough-housing

An expression meaning playing out of control or in a rough manner

Hot-diggity!

An express meaning "that's great!"

Hot off the press!

An expression meaning that something is new or ready to enjoy reading

Hot potato

Something that's too difficult to handle or you want to get rid of it

I can read you like a book

An expression meaning your actions reveal your intentions very clearly (opposite of "poker-face")

If the shoe fits, wear it

An expression that means if something suits you, do it

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

Change your position or do something because it's the popular thing to do

I got your back

An expression meaning you are watching out for the well-being of someone else so no harm comes to them

I have my hands full

An expression meaning I have enough to do that I can't assume another commitment

I'll clock you! or knock your block off!

I'll beat you up or hit you

I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house down!

An expression which means to threaten someone, a quote yelled by the Wolf. Story link: The Three Little Pigs

I'm dying to try it!

An expression meaning you really want it

I'm in the dog house

An expression meaning you are in trouble

I'm on the fence

An expression meaning you can't decide between two choices

I'm stuffed!

An expression usually after a big meal, meaning full or satisfied

I'm toast!

An expression meaning bad things are going to happen

In a fishbowl

Being observed closely by others, usually remotely

In a nut shell

An expression meaning all inclusive, or a brief summary of a topic

In a pinch

Use what you have available to solve a problem, even if it's not perfect. Story link: The Crow and the Pitcher

In someone else's shoes

An expression meaning to understand someone else's perspective

It's a dog's life

Something that you say which means that life is hard and unpleasant

It's not over until the fat lady sings

Something you say when someone's losing, but there might be a chance they'll win in the end

It's not rocket science

Something that anyone can understand (without needing to be a rocket scientist)

I wish I were a fly on the wall

An expression meaning you wish you'd witnessed or been present for something you didn't see directly

Jack of all trades

An expression meaning someone can do just about any task themselves

Jinx someone

Casting a "spell" or causing bad luck to someone or something by stating an obvious truth. Example: "You're going to jinx her if you say she'll forget her lines during the play."

Keep on trucking

An expression meaning to persevere or continue through possibly hard times

Keep your eye on the prize

An expression meaning to stay focused on your goal or objective, without distraction

Keep your eyes peeled

An expression meaning "watch out!" or observe the situation carefully

Kiss my ass

An expression meaning that you don't care what someone thinks about what you said or did

Knickers in a twist

An expression meaning to get upset

Knocking on heaven's door

The lyrics from a popular song by Bob Dylan, it means means tempting fate or close to death

Knock on wood

A superstition after saying something you hope remains true

Lame duck

Someone who no longer has power at the end of their term, usually when a successor is named, or someone who needs help

Last straw (or straw that broke the camel's back)

It's the last time something will occur before triggering a reaction, or it could be the last attempt before quitting

Lead foot

Someone who drives too fast

Learn something by heart

An expression meaning to commit something to memory. An example of something people have learned "by heart" is this simple nursery rhyme: Roses are Red

Let bygones be bygones

An expression to accept and let go of the past, move on

Let it blow-over

An expression meaning to wait for someone to calm down or get over something

Let sleeping dogs lie

Meaning to leave something alone

Let the chips fall where they may

An expression meaning to just accept what's going to happen

Lick your wounds

An expression meaning to recover from some injury or painful situation

Like a bat out of hell

Someone who is in such a hurry or moving extremely fast

Like a red-headed stepchild

An expression meaning someone who's not like the others or who doesn't fit in

Like clock work

Something or someone who is very predictable or punctual

Like mixing oil and water

An expression meaning two things that aren't meant to go together

Listen to that baby purr

Commonly used to refer to a properly running engine, computer or other machine

Loaded for bear

Someone who is ready for any surprise or anything that comes their way

Loose lips sink ships

An expression referring to people sharing secret information that ruins everything

Love is blind

An expression meaning to always see the best in people we love, overlook their faults and imperfections. Story link: Jupiter and the Monkey

Lucky devil

Someone with supernaturally good luck

Lucky dog

An expression meaning to be happy

Luke-warm

An expression meaning you aren't sure about something or are non-commital

Met your match

An expression meaning someone who is even in skill or ability, or is a challenger

Monday morning quarterback

Everything is clear after everything is said and done

Mother's love is blind, beauty is in the eye of the beholder

When you love someone, you look past any physical or behavioral defects, they are perfect!

My hands are tied!

An expression meaning there's nothing you can do to change the situation

Nailed to the wall

An expression meaning you have no choice or can't move or change your position

Nest egg

Financial savings or something set aside for the future

Never cry wolf

An expression meaning not to repeatedly tell a lie, because people won't believe you when you actually need help. Story link: The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf

Nip and tuck

Closely contested, hard to tell the winner (or a cosmetic procedure to reduce wrinkles or fat!)

No bones about it

That's the way it is

No pain, no gain

Benjamin Franklin's expression meaning that it takes effort to make progress. Quote link: Poor Richard's Almanack

No rhyme or reason

It doesn't make sense why something is so

No such thing as a free lunch

When someone pays for your lunch or gives you something for free, there is generally an expectations that you have to "pay them back" one way or another

Not having a full-deck or playing without a full deck

An expression meaning someone is crazy or doesn't have common sense

Not in Kansas anymore, Toto

A foreign or different experience, there's "no place like home." Dorothy says this when she arrives in the Land of Oz. Book link: The Wizard of Oz

Not so fast!

An expression you'd say to someone before they leave if they've forgotten something

Not the sharpest knife in the drawer

An insult meaning someone isn't very smart or clever

Odd man out

One extra person or someone who doesn't fit in with the group

On auto-pilot

Something is automatic and doesn't require effort or skill

On a wing and a prayer

Taking a chance and having faith in order to get something difficult accomplished

On a wing and a prayer

Try to do something and hope you succeed

One bad apple spoils the barrel

Sometimes it just takes one small thing to wreck everything

On the same wavelength

Understand one another

On thin ice

An expression meaning to be at risk of getting in trouble if current actions continue

On your case (get off my case)

Means to remind or nag someone to do something (or stop bothering me)

Open up a can of worms

Actions or information which introduces a lot of complicated or new information that makes things harder

Out of the frying pan and into the fire

An expression meaning going from bad to worse. Story link: The Stag and the Lion

Over the moon

An expression meaning really happy

Over your head

An expression meaning something you might not be able to understand

Page from your own book

Doing something that would be typical based on your past behavior or accomplishments

Panic button

An expression referring to someone all of a sudden getting upset without thinking

Passed muster

An expression meaning adequate or satisfactory

Payback is a bitch!

If you do something bad to someone, they may try to seek revenge on you, kind of like bad karma

Pea under the mattress

An expression meaning so sensitive, someone couldn't sleep well or tolerate any discomfort. Story link: The Princess and the Pea

Peeping tom

Someone who stares or spies on someone covertly

Peer pressure

An expression meaning to fit in by following along with the same behavior or attitude because your friends or people your same age are doing it

Penny wise, pound foolish

Spend less money now, but waste more in the long run by not spending more to begin with. Quotes link: Poor Richard's Almanack

Pet peeve

A small thing that really bothers someone each time it occurs. Example: "My pet peeve is when people don't clean up after their dogs."

Pig-out

An expression meaning to eat or consume too much or well beyond a "normal" helping

Pig pen

Used to describe a huge mess or living in messy conditions. Story link: The Pig Brother

Pins and needles

An expression meaning to be nervous

Piss and moan

Complaining for no reason or without effect

Play it by ear

An expression meaning to improve or make it up as you go along, a reference to someone with musical abilities

Poker face

An expression meaning keeping an expression on one's face that doesn't reveal your playing cards or your intentions

Poor devil

Someone with very bad luck

Practice what you preach

Your actions speak louder than words, do what you say

Preaching to the choir

Stating your case to someone who already agrees with you

Pressing someone's buttons

Knowing just the right thing to say or do to get someone upset

Pulling my chain

Doing something to aggravate or annoy someone

Pulling eye teeth

An expression meaning something that's very painful or difficult

Pulling strings

Using influence or connections to get what you want

Putting the cart before the horse

An expression meaning to jump ahead, to do one thing before taking care of what should be done first

Quid pro quo

An exchange of gifts or services, you do something for me, I'll do something for you

Rain on your parade

An expression meaning to dampen someone's mood or bring up something sad or upsetting

Raising cain

Means to be upset or be a trouble-maker. From The Bible: Cain was the first son of Adam and Eve who killed his brother, Abel

Razor's edge

An expression meaning a risky or complicated move that could land you in trouble

Reached the boiling point or boiled over

Get very upset

Reap what you sow

You control the outcome based on your actions, this originated as a farming term that you harvest whatever you planted

Right hand man

Someone who is an assistant, helpful, or a partner who knows what to do without needing to be told

Rob Peter to pay Paul

Biblical reference, taking something from someone to give to another, without any real gain. From The Bible

Roller coaster ride

An expression meaning traveling up and down, scary or unpredictable situation

Roll with the punches

Go along with whatever happens, good or bad

Rude shocks await those who take credit from others

Don't take credit for someone else's work. Story link: The Ass Carrying the Image

Running against the clock

An expression meaning to run out of time or struggling to get something done in the shortest period of time possible

Running against the grain

An expression meaning to do something differently than others, or that may cause discomfort

Runt of the litter

The smallest or most vulnerable, often the expression is used to describe a smaller sibling who needs extra help

Saving something for a rainy day

Saving something for a later time when you might need it

Scramble or hustle

A verb meaning to be in a hurry. Example: "I have to scramble or I'll never make the meeting on time."

Second-hand information

Not from the direct source

See you later alligator, in a while crocodile

A popular children's rhyme expression meaning "Goodbye"

Self-fulfilling prophecy

You do exactly what will get you into the position you are trying to avoid. Story link: An Uncomfortable Bed

Shell-shocked

Someone is too overwhelmed to act or move (like if you survived a bomb shell)

She's a pistol!

Someone who has the energy, guts, or drive to continue without stopping or giving up

She's got a bun in the oven

An expression observing that a woman is pregnant

Shit or get off the pot

Take action, rather than remaining still

Shooting a fish in a barrel

Something that's very difficult to do

Shoot yourself in the foot

Doing something destructive to yourself

Sick as a dog, dog tired

Really sick (or tired)

Sight for sore eyes

An expression meaning something or someone you missed after they return, and you are happy to see

Silver-tongued

Someone who speaks eloquently or in a pleasant way to get someone to do what they want

Sing your praises

Compliment someone

Sink or swim

When thrown into an unknown situation, you have to figure out how to survive on your own

Sink your sails

An expression meaning to put your napkin in your lap, perhaps originating in Australia

Skating by

An expression meaning to do the bare minimum, rather than exerting full effort

Sleeps with the fishes

An old Italian expression meaning dead

Slip of the tongue

An expression meaning to say something you shouldn't have said

Slow and steady wins the race

Don't give up, keep trying even if it takes you longer than others who might finish sooner. Story link: The Tortoise and the Hare

Small potatoes

A food reference meaning insignificant or easy

Snap out of it!

An expression meaning to stop obsessing about something and move on

Snotty or stuck-up

Describing someone who acts more important or thinks they are better than others

So hungry I could eat a horse

An expression meaning very hungry

Someone's anchor

A compliment meaning the person keeps you steady or helps you avoid drifting or getting off-track, a boat reference

Something is in the bag

Expression meaning a sure thing

Song and dance

Say things or show something to impress others, often to try to avoid confronting what really happened or to make it sound better than it really is

Sour grapes

Demeaning or insulting something when you realize you can't do it or it's too difficult. Story link: The Fox and the Grapes

Spaz (short for spastic)

A expression for someone who is hyperactive or "spastical" exuding more energy than is appropriate for a situation

Speak of the devil

An expression meaning that the person about whom you were just speaking arrives or makes their presence known

Speak softly and carry a big stick

Use non-aggressive or cautious actions, but make sure people know there's a threat of violence or punishment if they don't go along. The phrase was made famous by President Theordore Roosevelt

Spick and span

Clean, tidy or orderly

Spit and polish

Clean something with effort

Sqeaky wheel gets the grease

Complain loud or frequent enough to be a pain, you'll get it fixed

Square peg in a round hole

Something that doesn't fit

Stage fright

Someone who is nervous performing for others

Star-crossed lovers

An expression referring to a couple so in-love, they can't take their eyes from eachother or be apart. Story link: The Star Lovers

Staying on track

An expression meaning to remain focuses on pursuing your goal, without distraction. Poem link: The Railway Train

Stick in the mud

An expression referring to someone who is boring or not interesting, literally behaving like a stick "stuck" in mud

Stone fox

An expression meaning a very attractive or sexy woman

Stop clowning around

Stop messing around or being silly

Straw that broke the camel's back

In a chain of events, it's the very last event which may be just the thing to destroy or ruin a situation

Strike while the iron's hot

Do something while you have the chance or while the opportunity is at its best

Strong stomach

An expression meaning someone can each almost anything or witness blood and guts without fainting or throwing up

Suck it up

Endure the discomfort and/or pain, you can do it

Take care of the little things (sweat the small stuff and the big stuff will be easy)

An expression meaning to take care of the little things, the big things will fall in place. Story link: The Astrologer

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