Idiomatic Expressions Class 8

  1. Back out – to withdraw from a promise, contract: I felt grieved when he backed out of his promise to help me. 
  2. Back up to- support, to sustain: He was backed up by his union to fight for his rights.
  3. Bear out – to support, to confirm: The evidence does not bear out the charge against him.
  4. Beat back – to force to withdraw: The demonstrators were beaten back by the police force.
  5. Boil down to – to amount to: The whole problem boils down to the shortage of funds.
  6. Break down – of a car, a piece of machinery: The plant broke down on account of extreme voltage fluctuations.
  7. Break out- to arise suddenly (of a war, a quarrel, etc.): Fierce fighting broke out between the rival groups.
  8. Break up- to disperse, to dissolue: The meeting will break up after the President has addressed the audience.
  9. Bring out – to reveal clearly: These facts clearly bring out the merits of the new policy.
    1. -to publish: The annual report of the company has not been brought out so far.
  10. Call back – to telephone again: Could you call back tomorrow. please?
  11. Call off – cancel: Since the workers’ demands have been met, they have called off the strike. 
  12. Call upon- to order, to require: It was a pity that I was called upon to give evidence against my best friend.
  13. Carry on- to continue: If you carry on working hard, your business will soon flourish. 
  14. Carry out- to put into action: You did not carry out my instructions satisfactorily. 
  15. Cast aside- to reject: All other considerations were cast aside at the suggestion of the manager.
  16. Catch up with to hurry up and join: I waited near the crossing so that others could catch up with me.
  17. Come across – to meet by chance. In the lift, I came across an old friend of mine.
  18. Come off- to take place: The inauguration of the plant came off on Tuesday. 
  19. Cry down- to depreciate, to make little of One must not always cry down the view expressed by others.
  20. Cut down — to reduce: We have taken some effective steps to cut down the expenditure. 
  21. Cut out- designed for: You seem to be cut out to be a teacher 
  22. Drop in- to visit casually: Please drop in at our place whenever it is convenient to you. 
  23. Eat out- to eat in a restaurant: Today let’s eat out for a change. 
  24. Egg on- to urge on: My colleagues egged me on to appear for the interview.
  25. Fall back on- to make use of in an emergency: If I do not get this job, I can fall back on my father’s support.
  26. Fall in with- to agree to. I found it difficult to persuade the chairman to fall in with my suggestions.
  27. Fall out – to quarrel: Whenever Karan falls out with his wife, he becomes very tense. 
  28. Fall through – to fail to take place: The project fell through for want of adequate funds. 
  29. Fill in- to complete (a form): Kindly fill in your name and address here. 
  30. Get off — to leave (a bus): I got off at Palika Bazar and walked to my office.
  31. Get on- with to agree, to work well together: The two partners get on very well with each other. 
  32. Get over – to recover from: It took me quite some time to get over my homesickness.
  33. Get through – to succeed in some examination: She could not get through the interview.                                                                    – to make a successful phone call: It took me half an hour to get through to Aman. 
  34. Get up – to rise from bed: I got up at 4 a.m. and went for a morning walk. 
  35. Give up – to stop trying: I know the competition is stiff, but don’t give up! 
  36. Go down — to be accepted: Our Finance Minister will go down in history as the most imaginative economist of our country. 
  37. Hold back – to keep back, to conceal: No important symptoms should be held back from the doctor.
  38. Hold on- to wait, particularly on the phone: Could you hold on for a moment, please?
  39. Keep up – to continue: This is an excellent result. Keep it up.
  40. Knock down – to hit in a traffic accident: While crossing the road, she was knocked down by a speeding car. 
  41. Let down- to disappoint: We have high hopes of you. Don’t let us down.
  42. Let off – to allow to go free, to release: In spite of the mistake being serious, he was let off with a warning.
  43. Look at — to examine carefully: She looked at the pearls and immediately said that they were not real.
  44. Look for — to seek: We are looking for a competent and sincere office assistant.
  45. Look forward to – to wait for something with pleasure: I’m looking forward to my sister’s wedding. 
  46. Look up – to seek information in a book: If you do not know what this word means, look it up in a dictionary.
  47. Make out – to find out: I cannot make out the meaning of any of these poems. 
  48. Pull through – to get to the end of something difficult and dangerous with some success: It was a difficult situation but we managed to pull through.
  49. Put through – to connect, on the telephone: Could you put me through to Mr Khan, please? 
  50. Put up – to stay: Where are you putting up these days? 
  51. Put up with – to tolerate: You will have to put up with this inconvenience for a while. 
  52. Run out – to come to an end: Fuel supplies are sure to run out.
  53. Run out of: I’m afraid we’re running out of time. 
  54. See off — to go with to a railway station, airport, etc.: There was nobody to see her off at the airport.
  55. See through – to comprehend: We could easily see through their clever tricks. 
  56. Tell upon- to affect: Hard work told upon the secretary’s health. 
  57. Wear out to become old and unusable: These shoes have worn out very quickly.


  1. To add fuel to fire – to give another cause for anger: The arrest of the union leaders added fuel to fire.
  2. To cut a sorry figure to create a bad impression: Mr Menon rose to address the audience but cut a sorry figure.
  3. To cut no ice – to fail to impress: He tried his best to prove that he was innocent, but his arguments cut no ice. 
  4. To cut to the quick – to hurt intensely: The assistant was cut to the quick on being accused of theft.
  5. To eat one’s words – to withdraw or deny a statement: The trade union leaders had to eat their words and withdraw the strike. 
  6. To face the music – to face difficulties: If we do not face the music now, our problems will multiply in the days to come.
  7. To fall short of – to be less than: The new manager has fallen short of our expectations.
  8. To feather one’s own nest – to meet one’s own interest: He wants a high position not to serve people but to feather his own nest. 
  9. To fight shy of – to avoid, to keep away from: Don’t fight shy of healthy criticism; it will help you to improve.
  10. To find fault with — to blame: The director found fault with his sales manager for the growing losses of the company. 
  11. To flog a dead horse – to waste one’s energy: He is a miser. To seek donation from him is like flogging a dead horse.
  12. To follow suit – to behave in the same manner: The leader of the opposition walked out and the others followed suit.
  13. To get into hot water – to get into a difficulty: By closing the factory the management has got into hot water.
  14. To get wind of to get news about something: We must act carefully so that others do not get wind of our plans. 
  15. To give oneself airs to be self-important: People in the habit of giving themselves airs are disliked by their friends.
  16. To go through fire and water – to undertake risk or trouble: He went through fire and water to make his dreams come true.
  17. To go to the dogs – to be ruined: If a war breaks out, our economy will just go to the dogs. 
  18. To go without saying- to be quite clear: It goes without saying that only a deserving person should get this job.
  19. To grease the palm of – to bribe: The visitor greased the palm of the peon to enter the chairman’s room.
  20. To have a hand in – to be involved in: The cashier seems to be having a hand in this case of cheating the bank.
  21. To hit below the belt – to strike unfairly: A victory by hitting below the belt cannot be described as a victory at all. 
  22. To hold good – to remain valid: These decisions do not hold good in the changed situation.
  23. To hold one’s tongue – to become silent: If you do not hold your tongue after this, I’ll make you leave the room. 
  24. To keep abreast of- to keep oneself informed: We must know English in order to keep abreast of the latest scientific discoveries.
  25. To keep one’s fingers crossed – to hope for a good outcome: His mother kept her fingers crossed while he played the final match.
  26. To keep pace with – to move at an equal speed: We should give more importance to basic research if we want to keep pace with developed countries. 
  27. To kick up a row – to disturb: He kicked up a row when the shopkeeper refused to accept back the sold goods.
  28. To pick a quarrel: I have often found him picking quarrels with his friends over trifles. 
  29. To take advantage of – to gain through another person’s ignorance or innocence: We should never take advantage of another person’s goodness.
  30. To take pains – to make efforts: If you take pains in your work, you will soon be promoted. 
  31. To take to task – to punish: She was severely taken to task for bunking the class.




Above board — honest and frank: All the directors of this firm are above board. 

Cut and dried – already prepared: There are no cut and dried rules to improve the sales of a company.

(A) dog in the manger policy – the policy of a selfish man who refuses to allow his neighbour what he himself cannot use: Boys sometimes follow ‘a dog in the manger policy’ when they neither use the playground themselves nor allow others to play in it.

(The) dogs of war famine, sword and fire: The dogs of war were let loose and they played havoc with the country’s population. (An) eyewash – a deception: The authorities had already made their choice; the interview was only an eyewash.

(A) fair deal a bargain which is fair and just to both the parties: It would be a fair deal if I pay back your money with interest and my thanks.

(A) fair-weather friend – a friend in prosperity only: It is better to be friendless than to have only fair-weather friends.

 (A) far cry – still far away: The dream of total literacy in India is still a far cry. 

(A) fish out of water – in an unpleasant situation: In the first few days after retirement, people feel like a fish out of water.

From hand to mouth – consuming everyday whatever little is earned: Most Indians are still living from hand to mouth.

Give-and-take – obliging each other mutually: If you adopt the give-and-take policy you will have a smooth sailing in life.

Good offices – recommendation: Please use your good offices to get me a job. 

(A) good Samaritan a kind and charitable person: One of my friends proved a good Samaritan and gave me money to set up a small industrial unit.

(A) good turn – an act of kindness: A good turn never goes unrewarded. 

(The) green-eyed monster jealousy: Beware of the green-eyed monster, for it is sure to destroy your happiness in life. 

Hard up – short of money: Being hard up myself, I cannot send you any money.

High time – ripe time: Examinations are fast approaching. It is high time you start studying seriously.

Hue and cry – a great noise: They raised a hue and cry when they saw the thief escape.

 In a nutshell — briefly: Please tell me about the President’s speech in a nutshell.

In face of – against: Great men remain calm and composed even in face of heavy odds 

In high spirits – cheerful: In spite of severe cold, our jawans were always in high spirits. 

In the nick of time – at the exact time: We arrived at the hall in the nick of time: the show was just about to begin.

In vogue – in fashion: Jeans made from faded denim are still in vogue. 

Off and on – now and again: I have to remind the servant off and on to give me sugarless tea. 

Out of order – not in working condition: My watch being out of order, I could not know the exact time.

Over and above – in addition to: You will be given bonus over and above your salary.

Over head and ears – fully: She is over head and ears in love. Point blank – directly, plainly: She told me point blank that she won’t be able to help me.

  1. red-letter day – a memorable day: 15th August, 1947 is a red-letter day in the history of India.

Sum and substance – gist: Give me the sum and substance of the President’s speech. 

Weal and woe – joy and sorrow: I assure you that I will stand by you in weal and woe.

With open arms – with a warm welcome: Wherever he went, he was received with open arms.