10:24 pm - Thursday August 17, 2017

Idioms and their meanings

Idioms

Alphabetically

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

D

 

daily grind

– the everyday work routine

My father is tired of the daily grind and will retire soon.

dance to a different tune

– to change one’s behavior or attitude

Our boss began dancing to a different tune when the head salesman decided to quit.

dance with death

– to do something that is very risky

The teenagers were dancing with death when they began to race their cars.

dare (someone) to do (something)

– to challenge someone to do something

The little boy dared his friend to throw a rock at the window.

dark horse

– a political candidate who is little known to the general public

The woman candidate was a dark horse but she won the election easily.

darken (someone’s) door

– to visit someone or somewhere

The man has never darkened the door of the library in his town.

dash off

– to leave quickly

We dashed off as soon as the concert ended.

dash off (something) or dash (something) off

– to write or finish something quickly

I plan to dash off a letter before I go to work.

date back to (a previous time)

– to go back to a previous time

The old building dates back to 1850.

Davy Jone’s locker

– the bottom of the sea (as a grave)

When the boat sank, all of the crew members went to Davy Jone’s locker.

dawn on (someone)

– to become clear or occur to someone

It finally dawned on me why my friend was angry.

day after day

– everyday

Day after day, the woman goes to the school to meet her child.

day and night

– all of the time

We worked day and night to finish the project before the end of the month.

day in and day out

– regularly, all of the time

My father goes to a small restaurant for lunch day in and day out and he never gets tired of it.

day-to-day

– daily, everyday

The president was not involved in the day-to-day running of the university.

daylight robbery

– the extreme overcharging of money for something

The amount of money which the gas station charged for the gasoline was daylight robbery.

days running

– several days in a row

There were concerts at the auditorium for six days running.

dead ahead

– to be directly ahead

There was a truck dead ahead so we put on the car brakes.

dead as a doornail

– to be very dead

The man was as dead as a doornail after the car accident.

dead center

– the exact middle

I easily hit the target dead center.

dead duck

– a person or a thing in a hopeless situation

The man is a dead duck and has no hope of regaining his former position.

dead end

– the end of a road, an impasse

The negotiations between the players and the owners have reached a dead end.

dead in one’s tracks

– to be stopped exactly where someone or something is at the moment

The police stopped the robber dead in his tracks.

dead letter

– a piece of mail that cannot be delivered or returned to the sender

The letter with no return address went back to the post office as a dead letter.

dead loss

– a total loss

The money that I gave to my friend is a dead loss and none of it will be returned.

dead on one’s feet

– to be exhausted

I was dead on my feet after working all day in my garden.

dead set against (something)

– to be determined not to do something

The parents are dead set against their son going to Europe for a year.

dead tired

– to be very tired, to be exhausted

I was dead tired so I went to bed when I got home.

dead to the world

– to be sleeping soundly

The little boy was dead to the world when his father looked into the bedroom.

dead wrong

– to be totally wrong

I was dead wrong in my calculations to build the table.

deadbeat

– a person who never pays his debts

There is a new government policy to penalize deadbeat fathers.

deadpan

– an expressionless or emotionless face

My friend had a deadpan expression when he told us the story.

deaf and dumb

– to be unable to hear or speak

The man was deaf and dumb and could not communicate with the woman on the train.

deal in (something)

– to buy and sell something

The man has been dealing in antiques for many years.

deal with (someone)

– to act in a specific way toward someone, to do business with someone

The company is planning to deal with the late employee soon.

deal with (something)

– to be concerned with something, to take action about something

We will deal with the boxes tomorrow.

decide in favor of (someone or something)

– to determine the winner of something, to decide who is right

The city decided in favor of building a new bridge over the river.

decked out

– to be dressed in fancy clothes

My sister was decked out in her best clothes for the party.

deem it to be necessary

– to believe that something is necessary

The judge deemed it to be necessary to postpone the trial for a week.

deep-six (something)

– to throw away something, to dispose of something

I decided to deep-six my videos as I did not want them any longer.

deep water

– serious trouble or difficulty

The boy will be in deep water if he does not tell us where he spent the money.

deliver the goods

– to do a good or successful job of something

He is the best manager that we have. He knows how to deliver the goods.

desert a sinking ship

– to leave a situation or place when things become difficult or unpleasant

Many employees decided to desert a sinking ship when their company began to have problems.

devil of a job

– a very difficult job

Everybody thought that unloading the truck was a devil of a job.

devil-may-care attitude

– an unworried attitude, an attitude where one does not care what happens

The man has a devil-may-care attitude to his job and nothing bothers him.

devote (something) to (something)

– to make much effort for something, to dedicate oneself to something

The man devoted much energy to the new project.

diamond in the rough

– a good person or thing that is hidden by a rough exterior

The man is a diamond in the rough and a very gentle person.

die a natural death

– to die by disease or of old age and not by an accident or by violence

My grandfather was very old and he died a natural death.

die away

– to gradually get lower and then disappear (often said about noise)

The noise of the airplane slowly died away.

die down

– to come slowly to an end, to grow weaker

When the sound of the music died down we were able to go to sleep.

die in one’s boots

– to die fighting

The soldiers died in their boots after fighting very hard.

the die is cast

– something has been decided and you cannot change the decision

The die is cast and now that we have sold our house we must move.

die laughing

– to laugh very loud and hard

We almost died laughing when we saw the movie.

die off

– to die one after another until the number is small

The house plants began to die off soon after we moved to a new apartment.

die out

– to die or disappear slowly until gone, to not exist anymore

The campfire slowly died out and we went to bed.
Dinosaurs died out many years ago.

dig in

– to begin eating

“Let`s dig in and eat before the food gets cold!”

dig in one’s heels or dig one’s heels in

– to refuse to change one’s course of action or opinion

Our boss dug in his heels and refused to give us time off.

dig one’s own grave

– to be responsible for one’s own problems

The woman dug her own grave when she fought with her boss. Now she is having many problems at work.

dig some dirt up on (someone) or dig up some dirt on (someone)

– to find out something bad about someone

The newspaper worked hard to dig up some dirt on the politician.

dig (someone or something) up or dig up (someone or something)

– to make an effort to find someone or something

I had to dig up some blankets for my friend when he stayed at our house.

dig (something) out or dig out (something)

– to locate something

I dug out last year’s income tax forms to look at.

a dime a dozen

– common, easy to get and of little value

Used books are a dime a dozen and it is difficult to sell them.

dip into (something)

– to borrow from a supply of something

We had to dip into our savings to get enough money for a holiday.

dirt cheap

– to be extremely cheap

The denim jackets were dirt cheap so I decided to buy one.

a dirty look

– a look that shows dislike or disapproval

The boy’s mother gave the boy a dirty look when he entered the kitchen.

dirty work

– unpleasant or uninteresting work

I refused to do the dirty work for my friend.

dish out (criticism)

– to criticize someone roughly, to treat someone roughly

Our supervisor likes to dish out criticism to others but he does not like to hear criticism about himself.

dish out (food)

– to serve food from a large bowl or plate

I began to dish out the food when the guests arrived.

dispose of (something)

– to discard something, to destroy something, to get rid of something

We must dispose of our old sofa before we buy a new one.

dive in headfirst

– to do something impulsively without thinking about the consequences

The man likes to dive in headfirst with anything that he does.

dive right into (something)

– to begin to do something without hesitating (some swimmers like to dive right in without checking the temperature of the water)

Many of the students decided to dive right into their studies when university started.

divide and conquer

– to split an opposing side into two groups so that you can win against them

The government was trying to divide and conquer the opposition parties.

divide (something) fifty-fifty

– to divide something into two equal parts

We divided the money that we won fifty-fifty.

do a double take

– to look again in surprise at someone or something

The girl did a double take when she saw her old boyfriend with another girl.

do a job on (someone or something)

– to harm or damage someone or something

We really did a job on the bookcase that we were trying to move.

do a land-office business

– to do much business in a short time

The children are doing a land-office business by selling the cold drinks next to the stadium.

do a number on (someone or something)

– to hurt or damage someone or something

The students did a number on the spectator stands during the soccer game.

do a snow job on (someone)

– to deceive or confuse someone

The salesman tried to do a snow job on me but I did not believe him.

do an about-face

– to suddenly reverse one’s opinion

We did an about-face on our decision to permit drinking coffee in the library.

do away with (something)

– to stop something, to get rid of something

The company will do away with their policy of working one weekend a month.

do credit to (someone)

– to add to someone’s reputation

The woman’s graduation thesis did credit to her hard work and patience.

do in (someone) or do (someone) in

– to make someone tired, to exhaust someone

I was done in after I finished the marathon.

do in (something) or do (something) in

– to ruin or destroy something

The boy quickly did in the new shoes that he had received for his birthday.

do justice to (something)

– to do something well, to represent something accurately

The painting of my grandfather does not do justice to his extremely good looks.

do lunch

– to meet someone for lunch

I plan to do lunch with my friend tomorrow.

do one`s best

– to try to do something as well as one can

I tried to do my best on the exam.

do one`s bit

– to make one’s expected contribution to a group project

Our teacher did his bit to help plan for the party.

do one’s duty

– to do one’s job or what is expected of one

The guard was doing his duty when he began to ask the customer questions.

do one`s part

– to make one’s expected contribution to a group project

Everybody had to do their part to make the meeting a success.

do one`s thing

– to do what one wants to do and enjoys doing

My friend enjoys doing his thing when and where he chooses.

do or die

– to make a great effort

It was do or die for the man when he started his new job.

do over (something) or do (something) over

– to repeat something, to do something again

The teacher made me do my homework over.

do (someone) good

– to be good or beneficial for someone

It will do my friend good to go on a holiday.

do (someone) out of (something)

– to cheat someone out of something

The man was worried that the company would do him out of the bonus that he was expecting.

do (someone’s) bidding

– to do what someone else wants

The principal was able to get the head teacher to do his bidding with the other teachers.

do something rash

– to take drastic action (usually without thinking)

My friend is extremely angry and she may do something rash.

do (something) by the book

– to follow the rules of something exactly

Our boss likes to do everything by the book.

do (something) like it is going out of fashion/style

– to use/buy/eat much or too much of something

My friend is spending money like it is going out of fashion.

do the dishes

– to wash and dry some dishes

We did the dishes soon after eating dinner.

do the honors

– to perform the duty of a host (when serving a drink etc.)

“Would you like to do the honors and pour everybody a drink?”

do the trick

– to work well, to achieve a good or desired result

I think that the new piece of equipment should do the trick and solve our problem.

do time

– to spend time in prison

The man was doing time when we first heard about him.

do with (someone or something)

– to be acquainted or involved or associated with someone or something

“I do not know what that incident was to do with.”

(can/could) do with (something)

– to benefit from (something)

I have been working hard all day so now I could do with a cold drink.

do without (something)

– to manage without something

We will have to do without sugar because there is none left.

do wonders

– to produce excellent results

Doing some exercise will do wonders for your health.

dog and pony show

– a display or demonstration used to gain approval for something

The politician put on a dog and pony show to make people forget about the scandal.

dog-eat-dog

– to be ready or willing to fight and hurt others to get what you want

It is a dog-eat-dog world in the advertising and public relations business.

dog in the manger

– one who prevents others from enjoying what one has no use for oneself (from Aesops Fables)

The girl was a dog in the manger. She cancelled the dinner because she could not attend.

doll (oneself) up or doll up (oneself)

– to dress in fancy clothes

The woman was all dolled up for the party at the downtown hotel.

dollar for dollar

– considering the cost

Dollar for dollar, going to the resort for a holiday is a good deal.

don sackcloth and ashes

– to behave in a way that shows that you are very sorry for something that you have done wrong – in ancient Biblical times people wore very uncomfortable sackcloth (cloth for sacks) for mourning and also to repent for something that they did wrong

The man was asked to don sackcloth and ashes to repent for his terrible mistake.

done for

– to be ruined or defeated or dying

I think that our team is done for this season.

done in

– to be tired, to be exhausted

I was done in so I went to bed early.

done to a T

– to be cooked just right

The steaks were done to a T and everybody was very happy with them.

done to a turn

– to be cooked just right

Everything was done to a turn at the party.

done with (something)

– to be finished using something

I was done with the computer so I let my sister use it.

doomed to failure

– to be certain to fail

The policy of the school was doomed to failure because nobody would support it.

a dose of one’s own medicine

– the same kind of treatment that one gives to other people

The man got a dose of his own medicine when his boss began to treat him the same way that he treated others.

double back

– to turn back from where you are going or where you have been

We decided to double back from the arena and return home.

double-check (something)

– to check something again to be sure that it is correct

I double-checked the price of the airplane ticket.

double-cross (someone)

– to deceive someone, to promise one thing and then do another

The man tried to double-cross his partner.

double-header

– two games (usually baseball) that are played one after the other and are played in front of the same crowd

We were tired after watching a double-header last night.

double-talk

– talk or words that appear to mean something but do not

The speaker gave the audience much double-talk and nobody knew what he wanted to say.

double time

– two times one’s regular wages for working beyond one’s normal hours

The man worked on the national holiday and received double time for his work.

double up

– to share a room with someone

Everybody had to double up when they went to the convention.

a doubting Thomas

– someone who needs strong proof to believe something

My friend is a doubting Thomas and you must tell him many times before he will believe something.

down and dirty

– unfair or nasty or sneaky

The team decided to get down and dirty in order to try and win the tournament.

down and out

– to have no money

My friend has been down and out before but usually he can find a job.

down-at-the-heels

– to be shabby, to be poorly dressed

The man looked down-at-the-heels after he was fired from his job.

down for the count

– to be finished for now

The boxer was down for the count but everybody expected him to stand up and fight again.

down in the dumps

– to be unhappy

The girl has been down in the dumps since her boyfriend moved away.

down on one’s luck

– to be unlucky, to have no money

The man was down on his luck and did not have a place to live.

down on (someone)

– to be critical of someone, to be angry at someone

The girl is down on her friend but I do not know the reason.

down one`s alley

– to be suited to one`s tastes and abilities

Computers are down my alley so I am sure that I will be interested in the job.

down the drain

– to be wasted or lost

My uncle is throwing money down the drain when he goes to the horse races.

down the hatch

– to swallow a drink or eat something

In the movie the captain said down the hatch whenever he gave the sailors a drink.

down the line

– straight ahead, in the future

There will be many changes in our company down the line.

down the tubes

– to be ruined or wasted

Our plans went down the tubes after my friend refused to join us.

down to earth

– to be sensible and practical

My mother is very down to earth.

down to the last detail

– considering all of the details

We fixed up everything on the boat, down to the last detail.

down to the wire

– at the very last moment, very close to the time when something is due (from the wire at the end of a horse race)

The election went down to the wire but the candidate was re-elected to another term in office.
We went down to the wire but we were able to finish the project on time.

down with (an illness)

– to be ill, to be sick at home

My sister was down with a cold so she could not go out for a few days.

drag in (someone or something) or drag (someone or something) in

– to insist on bringing someone or something into a discussion

Th employee always drags in his personal problems when we talk about his job performance.

drag on

– to pass very slowly, to make something longer

The speech was dragging on so we decided to leave early.

a drag on (someone)

– a burden to someone

The problems at work were a drag on my friend and he became sick because of them.

drag one`s feet/heels

– to act slowly or reluctantly

The man is dragging his heels about whether or not to take the job.

draw a blank

– to get no response to something, to get a negative result

The manager drew a blank when he went to the head office to get information about the merger.

draw a line betwen two things

– to separate two things

We must draw a line between using the Internet for work and using it for personal use.

draw blood

– to make a wound that bleeds, to anger someone

The politician was very careful not to draw blood during the debate.

draw fire

– to receive criticism for something

The government began to draw fire when they announced changes to the health care system.

draw fire

– to be a target, to attract or provoke shooting

The soldiers drew fire when they entered the small village.

draw in one`s horns

– to spend less money

The company is not doing well so everybody must draw in their horns.

draw interest

– to appear interesting and attract someone’s attention

The singers drew much interest when they performed at the festival.

draw interest

– to earn interest when money is deposited in a bank

The money that we put in the bank draws interest every month.

draw lots/straws

– to choose from a group of straws or things to decide who will do something

We decided to draw lots to see who would wash the dishes.

draw (someone) out or draw out (someone)

– to make a person talk or tell something

The girl was very quiet but we were able to draw her out and she began talking.

draw (something) from (something)

– to obtain something from something, to get something from something

The man draws much pleasure from his hobby of painting.

draw the line (at something)

– to set a limit for something, to refuse to consider something

We have to draw the line somewhere to limit the costs of the party.

draw to a close

– to end

The tournament was drawing to a close and everybody was going back home.

draw up (something) or draw (something) up

– to put something in writing, to prepare documents or legal papers

They were able to draw up the contract while we were waiting.

dredge up (something) or dredge (something) up

– to uncover something unpleasant and remind people about it

The newspaper is always trying to dredge up bad things about the government.

dress (someone) down or dress down (someone)

– to scold someone

The supervisor took the clerk into her office to dress her down.

dress up

– to put on one`s best clothes

I decided to dress up for dinner at the restaurant.

dressed to kill

– to wear one`s finest clothes

The woman was dressed to kill when I saw her at the concert last week.

dressed to the nines/teeth

– to be dressed elegantly

The movie stars were dressed to the nines during the awards ceremony.

drive a hard bargain

– to conclude a bargain without making any concessions

Although the man drives a hard bargain, I like doing business with him.

drive at (something)

– to intend or mean to say something

I do not know what the man was driving at in his speech.

drive (someone) up a wall

– to irritate or annoy someone greatly

My neighbor’s constant complaining is driving me up a wall.

drive (something) home or drive home (something)

– to make something clearly understood

The high price of gasoline drove home the necessity of driving less.

drive up (a price)

– to make the price of something increase

The cold weather is driving up the price of heating oil.

drive up to (someone or something)

– to approach someone or something

The car drove up to the bank.

driving force behind (someone or something)

– the motivating force behind someone or something

The potato farmers were the driving force behind the efforts to get people to eat more potatoes.

drop a bombshell

– to announce some shocking news

The government dropped a bombshell when they announced that they were going to close the hospital.

drop a hint

– to casually make a hint or suggestion about something

The clerk dropped a hint that he wanted to transfer to a new department.

drop around

– to come for a visit

My friend plans to drop around for a visit tomorrow.

drop back

– to move or step backwards, to retreat

During the hike my foot began to get sore so I decided to drop back and rest for awhile.

drop by

– to visit someone

My uncle dropped by after work for a visit.

drop by the wayside

– to give up or fail before the finish of something

Many runners dropped by the wayside during the marathon.

drop dead

– to die suddenly

The bus driver dropped dead while driving the bus.

Drop dead!

– Go away!, to stop bothering someone

I told my brother to drop dead when he came into my room and now he is angry at me.

drop everything

– to stop doing what you are doing

When the fire alarm rang we dropped everything and went outside.

drop in (on someone)

– to make a short or unplanned visit to someone

I want to drop in on my friend after I finish work.

drop in one’s tracks

– to collapse from exhaustion

The runner dropped in his tracks during the race.

drop in the bucket

– a small amount

The money that my friend repaid me was a drop in the bucket compared to what he owes me.

drop names

– to mention the names of famous people as if they were your friends

Nobody likes the girl because she is always dropping names when she meets her friends.

drop off (to sleep)

– to fall asleep

I dropped off to sleep while I was watching television.

drop off (someone or something) or drop (someone or something) off

– to take someone or something to a certain location

I dropped off my friend at the airport.
I dropped off the book at my friend’s house.

drop out of (something)

– to quit school or a course of some kind

The boy dropped out of the class after three months.

drop (someone) a line

– to write or mail a note or letter to someone

My friend promised that she will drop me a line when she gets to Singapore.

drop the ball

– to make an error or mistake, to handle things badly

The government dropped the ball with its decision to expand the airport runway without consulting the local residents.

drop the price (of something)

– to lower the price of something

The computer company will drop the price of computers next month.

drop the subject

– to stop talking about something

My friend was getting angry while we were talking about money so I decided to drop the subject.

drown one`s sorrows

– to drink alcohol or do something to forget one`s problems

The man is drowning his sorrows with a drink.

drown (someone) out or drown out (someone)

– to make so much noise that it is impossible to hear someone

The cheering fans drowned out the team captain.

drowning in (something)

– to be submerged in something, to be overwhelmed with something

The man is drowning in debt and has no money.
I am drowning in work this week.

drum up (something) or drum (something) up

– to encourage something by making an effort

The company was able to drum up a lot of business during the summer.

drum (something) into (someone’s) head

– to make someone learn something by force

The teacher worked hard to drum the formulas into the heads of the students.

dry out

– to lose moisture gradually

The beach towel dried out quickly.

dry run

– a rehearsal for something, a practice session

The marriage ceremony was on Saturday so we had a dry run on Thursday night.

dry up

– to become dry, to be depleted

The river began to dry up early in the summer.
The money for the project has dried up.

duck soup

– easy, effortless

a) “How was the test last week?”
b) “It was duck soup – no problem at all.”

dumb bunny

– a stupid gullible person

He is a dumb bunny and you never know what he will do next.

dump (something) on (someone)

– to give a large or excessive amount of something to someone

Our teacher dumped much homework on us yesterday.

Dutch auction

– an auction where you start off with a high price and then reduce it

They always sell the flowers at a Dutch auction at the downtown market.

Dutch courage

– unusual or artificial courage (often because of alcohol)

The man was full of Dutch courage when he began to criticize his boss.

Dutch treat

– a meal or movie etc. where each person pays his or her own way, to contribute equally to something

When the boy goes out with his girlfriend it is always a Dutch treat as he does not have much money.

Dutch uncle

– someone who gives you advice like a parent or relative would

My friend is like a Dutch uncle and he is always giving me advice about how I should act.

duty bound (to do something)

– to be forced by duty or honor to do something

I was duty bound to talk to my friend about the money that I had lost.

dwell on (something)

– to think or talk about something all the time

I wish that my friend would not dwell on his personal problems.

dyed-in-the-wool

– permanent, stubborn

The man is a dyed-in-the-wool conservative and will never change.

dying to (do something or go somewhere)

– to be very anxious to do something or go somewhere

I am dying to go and visit my friend in the country.

 

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ