3:08 pm - Saturday October 20, 0931

Idioms and their meanings

Idioms

Alphabetically

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

I

idiot box

– television set

My friend sits in front of the idiot box all weekend and never does anything.

if looks could kill

– used when someone makes an unfriendly look at someone or frowns at someone

If looks could kill, then the horrible way that the woman looked at me would have killed me immediately.

if so

– if that is the case

The lawyer said that he wants to meet us this afternoon but if so, we will not have the documents ready to discuss.

if the shoe fits, wear it

– if something that is said describes you then it probably is meant for you

The man was complaining that many workers at his company were lazy. However, his friend looked at him and said that if the shoe fits, wear it.

if worst comes to worst

– if the worst possible thing happens

If worst comes to worst we can cancel our holiday and go next year.

ill at ease

– nervous or uncomfortable

The man appeared to be ill at ease during the interview.

ill-disposed to (do something)

– not friendly or favorable to something

Our company is ill-disposed to begin working on the project with the other company.

ill-gotten gains

– money or other goods acquired illegally or dishonestly

The man used his ill-gotten gains from the sale of the stolen car to go on a holiday.

ill will

– hostile feelings or intentions

There is much ill will between the two departments in our company.

implicate (someone) in (something)

– to suggest that someone is involved in something

The man was implicated in the scheme to sell the illegal shares in the company. 

in a bad mood

– sad, depressed

I was in a bad mood after I wrote the university exam.

in a bad way

– in a bad or critical state

The woman is in a bad way after her recent car accident.

in a bind

– in trouble

The couple will be in a bind if they cannot sell their house by next month.

in a coon’s age

– in a very long time

I have not seen my friend in a coon’s age.

in a family way

– pregnant, going to have a baby

Our new secretary is in a family way and plans to stop working soon.

in a flash

– quickly

I was finished with the job interview in a flash.

in a fog/haze

– confused, not sure what is happening

The man is always in a fog and never seems to know what is going on.

in a fool’s paradise

– looking happy but in a situation that will not last

The couple were living in a fool’s paradise with their temporary jobs and the high salaries.

in a hole

– in some trouble, in an embarrassing or difficult position

The man is in a hole now that he has problems both at work and at home.

in a huff

– in an angry or offended manner

The head of our department left the meeting in a huff.

in a hurry

– moving or acting quickly

My friend is very busy and always in a hurry.

in a jam

– in trouble, in a difficult situation

My neighbor is in a jam now that his car is not working properly.

in a jiffy

– very fast, very soon

I promised that I would be finished with the phone in a jiffy.

in a kind of way

– to a certain extent, a little, somewhat

In a kind of way, I want to buy a new car but in other ways I do not think that I need one.

in a lather

– excited and agitated

My friend was in a lather when she heard that she would be transferring to another department.

in a little bit

– soon

“I will give you back your dictionary in a little bit.”

in a mad rush

– in a hurry, frantically

The woman was in a mad rush to finish her shopping and return home.

in a month of Sundays

– in a very long time

I have not been to the shopping mall in a month of Sundays.

in a nutshell

– briefly

I tried to explain the problem to my boss in a nutshell.

in a pickle

– in a mess, in trouble

My friend is in a pickle now that she has lost her job.

in a pig`s eye

– hardly, unlikely, never

I will let my friend borrow my car in a pig’s eye.

in a pinch

– something is okay when nothing else is available

The other tool will do in a pinch if we cannot find the correct one.

in a pretty pickle

– in a mess, in trouble

The woman was in a pretty pickle when her car had no gas.

in a quandary

– confused and uncertain about what to do

I am in a quandary about where I should go on my vacation next month.

in a rush

– in a hurry

They did the job in a rush so I am worried about the quality.

in a rut

– always doing the same thing

The woman feels that she is in a rut after doing the same job for seven years.

in a sense

– in a way, sort of

In a sense, I can understand what my friend’s problem is but it is still difficult to imagine what he wants to say.

in a snit

– in a fit of anger or irritation

My girlfriend is in a snit because I forgot to phone her on Saturday.

in a sort of way

– to a certain extent, a little, somewhat

The man is quite intelligent in a sort of way.

in a split second

– in just an instant

The car accident happened in a split second and nobody could prevent it.

in a spot

– in some trouble, in an embarrassing or difficult siuation

The girl is in a spot now as she was unable to enter university and has no job.

in a stew (about someone or something)

– upset or bothered about someone or something

The woman’s husband is in a stew because he has lost his car keys.

in a stupor

– in a dazed condition

I was in a stupor after I wrote my last exam.

in a tight spot

– in a difficult situation

The man was in a tight spot after he lost his job.

in a tizzy

– in an excited and confused condition

The girl was in a tizzy as she got ready for her friend’s wedding.

in a way

– to a certain extent, a little, somewhat

In a way, I want to go to the restaurant but basically I do not care.

in a word

– briefly, to sum up

In a word, the problem with the car is that it needs a new motor.

in a world of one`s own

– in deep thought or concentration, not caring about other people

The boy is in a world of his own and he does not notice what other people say or think.

in abeyance

– the temporary suspension of an activity or a ruling

The final estate settlement was in abeyance while the lawyers looked at the will in more detail.

in accordance with (something)

– in agreement with something, following the terms or requirements of something

In accordance with the wishes of my grandfather we did not sell the family farm.

in addition to (something)

– additionally, further

In addition to a degree in history my friend also has a degree in economics.

in advance

– ahead of time

We bought the tickets in advance so we could get a good seat.

in agreement

– in harmony, agreeing

All of the members of the team were in agreement regarding the new training schedule.

in all

– in total, all together

There were about twenty people in all at the restaurant.

in all one’s born days

– in all one’s life

In all my born days I have never met a more stubborn person.

in all probability

– very likely

In all probability I will not be able to attend my classes during the next two weeks.

in all shapes and sizes

– in many or various kinds/types/forms

The running shoes came in all shapes and sizes.

in and of itself

– considering one thing alone

In and of itself there is no problem having a large number of people at the dinner. However, the fire regulations do not allow that many people to be in the building

in and out

– coming in and going out often

Our boss has been in and out all day but I do not know where he is at the moment.

in any case/event

– no matter what happens, surely, without fail

I may not be able to meet you next week but in any case I will give you the books before then.

in arms

– armed, angry and ready to fight

The workers are in arms since they learned about the wage decrease.

in arrears

– overdue (used for bills or money), late

I have never been in arrears with my bill payments.

in awe of (someone or something)

– fearful and respectful of someone or something

The children were in awe of the firemen who came to visit the school.

in bad faith

– with bad or dishonest intent

The man was bargaining in bad faith when he tried to buy the car.

in bad taste

– not suitable, offensive

The jokes that the man told at the dinner were in bad taste.

in between

– located in the middle of two things or states

My friend is in between jobs at the moment.

in black and white

– in writing

I want to see the proposal in black and white before I go to the meeting.

in bloom/blossom

– a flower or tree at the peak of blooming

All of the flowers are in bloom in our garden.

in brief

– briefly

I explained in brief what the new supervisor was supposed to do while I was on vacation.

in broad daylight

– publicly visible in the daytime

The robbery of the store took place in broad daylight.

in bulk

– in large quantities or amounts

We usually buy some of our food in bulk.

in cahoots with (someone)

– in secret agreement or partnership with someone

The supermarket was in cahoots with the vegetable producer to try and keep the prices high.

in care of (someone)

– something is sent to someone at someone else’s address

My income tax refund was sent to me in care of my company.

in case

– if, if something should happen

I will take my umbrella in case it rains.

in case of

– in the event of, if there should be, as a precaution

In case of fire, we keep our computer backup files in a fireproof safe.

in character

– as usual, typical, in the way that a person usually behaves

Supporting the members of her staff is in character with the way our manager operates.

in charge of (someone or something)

– in control or authority, responsible for someone or something

The new manager is in charge of the sales department at his company.

in check

– under control, kept quiet

The violence was kept in check by the army.

in clover

– rich or successful, having a pleasant or easy life

The couple are in clover now that they have sold their business and retired.

in cold blood

– without feeling or pity, cooly and deliberately

The family was murdered in cold blood by the criminal gang.

in common

– shared together or equally, in use or ownership by all

I have nothing in common with the other members of the class.

in concert (with someone)

– with a common plan, with the aide of someone

We made the presentation in concert with members of another company.

in conjunction (with someone or something)

– operating or functioning or working together

The school concert was done in conjunction with the community center.

in consequence of (something)

– as a result of something

In consequence of losing my job, I can no longer live in my present apartment.

in contempt of court

– disrespecting a judge or courtroom procedures

The woman was in contempt of court when she refused to sit quietly during the trial.

in custody of (someone or something)

– being looked after by someone or something, under guard by someone

The child was placed in custody of the state while her mother got treatment for her alcohol problem.

in debt

– owing money

The man has been in debt for most of his life.

in deep

– seriously mixed up in something like debt or other trouble

The man is in deep because of debt and other problems.

in deep water

– in a serious situation, in trouble

The boy is in deep water because of his problems at school.

in defiance of (someone or something)

– against someone’s will or against instructions

The company continued to operate their business in defiance of a court order.

in denial

– refusing to believe something that is true

The man is in denial about the fact that he may lose his job.

in depth

– completely and in detail

The man studied the material in depth before he made his decision.

in detail

– giving all the details, item by item

I told the police about the events in detail.
I explained how to fix the computer in detail.

in disguise

– looking like someone else

The bank robber was in disguise when he robbed the bank.

in drag

– wearing the clothes of the opposite sex

The couple were shocked when they went to a stage show and found many of the performers in drag.

in due course

– in the usual amount of time, at the right time

We will send the information to you in due course.

in Dutch (with someone)

– in trouble with someone

The boy was in Dutch with his father for breaking the window.

in earnest

– sincerely

The young woman has been looking for a job in earnest since she graduated.

in effect

– for practical purposes, basically

The man’s silence was in effect, a way of disagreeing with the other people in the meeting.

in effect

– in existence, operating or functioning

The smoking law has been in effect for three years.

in essence

– basically

I was told in essence about the problems that the company was having.

in exchange for (someone or something)

– in return for someone or something

I received the camera in exchange for several discount coupons.

in excess of

– more than

There were in excess of two hundred people at the meeting.

in existence

– now existing

The company has been in existence for many years.

in fact

– actually, the truth is

Our teacher has been to China before. In fact, he has been there three times.

in fashion

– fashionable

Very thin neckties are not in fashion now.

in favor of (someone or something)

– approving or supporting someone or something

Most members of the city council are in favor of building the new stadium.

in flight

– while flying

Two wonderful meals were served while we were in flight.

in flux

– in constant change, changing

The school administration has been in flux for several months now.

in for (something)

– unable to avoid something, sure to get something

The student is in for much trouble now that he cannot finish his graduation essay.

in force

– in a very large group

The fans came out in force to cheer for their favorite team.

in full

– completely, fully, totally

The woman pays everything that she owes on her credit card in full every month.

in full swing

– in progress

The campaign to stop people from smoking is in full swing.

in general

– in most situations or circumstances

In general, most people are happy with the new manager.

in good conscience

– having good motives

I wrote the letter and complained to the woman in good conscience.

in good faith

– with good and honest intentions

Our company was bargaining in good faith when they met the other company.

in good hands

– in the safe and competent care of someone

My dog was in good hands when my father looked after him.

in good repair

– in good condition

My car is always in good repair when I leave for a holiday.

in good shape/condition

– functioning or working well, in good physical condition

Our television set was in good shape when we gave it to my friend.
My grandfather is in good shape.

in good spirits

– happy or cheerful or positive

Everyone was in good spirits when they went to the beach for a picnic.

in good time

– a little early, sooner than necessary

I will try and get the information to you in good time so that you can decide what to do.

in good with (someone)

– in someone’s favor

My cousin is in good with his boss and he has an easy time at work.

in great demand

– wanted by many people

The young pianist is in great demand by symphony orchestras around the world.

in hand

– under control

The teacher had the class in hand when the principal came to visit the classroom.

in heaven

– in a state of absolute happiness, dead and in heaven

I felt that I was in heaven when I learned that I would get the job that I wanted.

in high gear

– very fast and active

The preparations for the party were in high gear when I arrived at the house.

in hindsight

– thinking about the past with the knowledge that one now has

In hindsight, I knew that I had not done well in the job interview.

in hock

– in a pawnshop

The man put his expensive ring in hock to get some money for a holiday.

in honor of (someone or something)

– showing respect or admiration for someone or something

The dinner was in honor of the first principal of our school.

in hopes of (something)

– expecting something

I wrote the entrance exam in hopes of entering my favorite university.

in horror

– with intense shock or disgust

I watched in horror as the car crashed into the truck.

in hot water

– in trouble

I am in hot water over the extra expenses that I used during the conference.

in ink

– written or signed with a pen

We were asked to write down our names and addresses in ink.

in its entirety

– in a state of completeness

I read the novel in its entirety although it was very difficult to read.

in its/someone’s own right

– independent of any other relationship

The man is a great painter in his own right.

in itself

– standing alone ot taken alone or separately

In itself the repair was acceptable but it was still not what we wanted.

in jeopardy

– in danger, at risk

Our contract with the large company was in jeopardy because of our inability to quickly provide them with our products.

in keeping with (something)

– continuing with something, doing something similar

In keeping with our tradition of letting the visiting team kick first we will do it for this game as well.

in kind

– payment for something with some goods rather than money

We will pay our neighbors in kind for the use of their sailboat.

in labor

– a woman going through childbirth

The woman was in labor for three hours.

in league with (someone)

– in secret agreement or partnership with someone

The union is working in league with management to close the factory.

in less than no time

– very quickly

My friend had to go to the bank but in less than no time he returned to my house.

in lieu of (something)

– in place of something, instead of something

We received a free movie pass in lieu of a refund of our movie ticket.

in light of (something)

– as a result of new information about something, because of something

In light of the man’s contribution to the company we gave him a large summer bonus.

in limbo

– in an indefinite state, a state of neglect, a region on the border of hell

Everything in our company is in limbo as we wait for news of the takeover bid.

in line

– standing and waiting in a line of people

We stood in line for three hours while waiting for the concert tickets.

in line

– doing or being what people expect or accept, within ordinary limits

It was difficult to keep the children in line at the picnic but we managed.

in line with (someone or something)

– to be in agreement with someone or something

The man’s opinions are in line with the opinions of the other members of his group.

in love

– liking or loving someone very much

The young man has been in love with his girlfriend ever since he met her in high school.

in luck

– having good luck, finding something good by chance

I think that we are in luck. I was able to buy two tickets for the concert.

in memory of (someone or something)

– as a reminder of someone or something, as a memorial to someone or something

We decided to collect some money and buy a painting in memory of our grandfather.

in mint condition

– in perfect condition

The old coins that my father gave me are in mint condition.

in name only

– not actual, only by name

The man was an animal doctor in name only and had never once treated a sick or injured animal.

in need

– someone requires basic things like food or clothing or housing

The victims of the hurricane were in need after the storm.

in need of (someone or something)

– requiring someone or something

We are in need of a new stove in our apartment.

in neutral

– a car’s motor is running but the gear is in neutral so the car does not move, something does not move

I put the car in neutral as I waited for the train to pass.

in no mood to (do something)

– not feeling like doing something

I was in no mood to argue with my friend this morning.

in no time

– soon, quickly

I will have this job done in no time and then I can go for lunch.

in no uncertain terms

– in very specific and direct language

I told my neighbor in no uncertain terms that I wanted the music to stop.

in nothing flat

– quickly

I will have this information printed out in nothing flat.

in on (something)

– joining together for something

We went in on a present for our father for Father`s Day.

in on (something/a secret)

– told about something, having knowledge of something

I was finally in on the secret about why the supervisor left our company.

in one ear and out the other

– heard and then immediately forgotten

Everything that the teacher says seems to go in one ear and out the other for my friend.

in one fell swoop

– as a single incident or event

In one fell swoop we sold our car and furniture and moved to Germany.

in one’s birthday suit

– naked, nude

The little boy was running around in his birthday suit after his bath.

in one’s blood

– built into one’s personality or character

Riding a horse is in the girl’s blood and she is very good at it.

in one’s book

– according to one’s own opinion

In my book, she is the best teacher that we have ever had.

in one’s cups

– drunk

I think that my grandfather was in his cups when he wrote the letter to his friend.

in one`s element

– in an environment or situation that comes naturally to someone

The woman is in her element being in charge of the new sales department.

in one`s face

– abruptly, unexpectedly

The plan blew up in our face just as we were ready to start.

in one’s glory

– at one’s best or happiest

I was in my glory when I got the best tickets for the game.

in one`s good books/graces

– approved of by someone, liked by someone

I am in my friend’s good books after helping her with her homework last month.

in one`s hair

– annoying someone

The child has been in my hair all morning because she is on holidays now.

in one`s mind`s eye

– in one`s imagination

In my mind`s eye I tried to imagine that I was on a nice sunny beach.

in one’s opinion

– according to one’s belief or judgement

In my opinion, my aunt is the best cook in the world.

in one’s (own) backyard

– very close to someone

Nobody wants the chicken farm in their own backyard.

in one’s own best interest(s)

– to one’s advantage or benefit

It was in my friend’s own best interests to move into a larger apartment with his family.

in one’s prime

– at one’s peak or best time

My cousin was in his prime when he entered the bicycle race.

in one’s right mind

– rational and sensible

The girl was not in her right mind to quit her job right now.

in one’s salad days

– in one’s youth

In her salad days my mother was a very good dancer.

in one’s second childhood

– interested in or doing things that children normally do

My uncle is in his second childhood and has just bought a sports car.

in one`s shell

– withdrawn, silent, not sociable

We are trying to get the girl out of her shell but she still does not want to talk to anyone.

in one`s shoes

– in someone else’s place or position

I wish that I was in my friend’s shoes with his great job and new car.

in one’s spare time

– in one’s free time

My cousin likes to fix old clocks in his spare time.

in one’s Sunday best

– in one’s best clothes that you would wear to go to worship in a church (in the days when people dressed in a more formal way to attend church)

I was dressed in my Sunday best when I went for the job interview.

in one`s tracks

– abruptly, immediately, exactly where one is at the moment

I stopped in my tracks when I saw the snake on the road.

in order to

– for the purpose of

They have decided to close down the school for the summer in order to do some major repairs.

in other words

– in a different (usually more direct) way

“In other words, if I do not finish my assignment by Wednesday, I will not pass the course.”

in over one’s head

– having more difficulties than one can manage

The supervisor was in over his head when he began to fire people for no reason.

in part

– to some extent, partly

I think that the reason my uncle is not golfing well this year is in part because of his back problem.

in particular

– specifically, especially

My father likes almost all sports but in particular he loves basketball.

in passing

– casually, as an aside

I mentioned to my friend in passing that I want to change jobs.

in pencil

– written or signed with a pencil

I wrote the exam in pencil so that I could change some of the answers easily.

in perpetuity

– eternally, forever

The high school was given the right to use the city park in perpetuity.

in person

– actually present at a place or event

I had to go to the bank and sign the papers in person.

in place

– in the proper place or location

Everything in the room was in place when we arrived for the meeting.

in place of (someone or something)

– instead of someone or something

I was able to play in the soccer tournament in place of an injured player.

in plain language/English

– in simple and clear language

My bank explained to me in plain English what the terms of the loan were.

in point of fact

– really, truthfully

In point of fact there were not enough people at the meeting to vote on the proposal.

in poor taste

– not suitable, offensive

The clothes that the woman wore to the dinner were in poor taste.

in practice

– the actual situation or way of doing something

In practice, the business does not operate the way that you would expect it to.

in practice

– well-practiced, well-exercised

The girl was not in practice and could not play the piano very well.

in principle

– as a general idea or principle but without considering details or practical possibilities

In principle, the plan sounded very good but actually it was not very good at all.

in print

– a book or magazine is available for sale from the publisher

The book which I am looking for is still in print.

in private

– privately

The meeting was held in private in the office of the school principal.

in progress

– taking place at this time

The meeting is now in progress so we cannot enter the room.

in proportion

– having the right or wrong proportion in relation to something else

We tried to make sure that the bookshelves were both in proportion when we rebuilt the house.

in public

– in a place or in a way where other people can see

People are not allowed to smoke in public in many places.

in pursuit of (something)

– chasing after something

The young man has been in pursuit of his dream of becoming a doctor for a long time.

in rags

– dressed in worn-out and torn clothing

The man standing outside the restaurant was in rags.

in reality

– really

The woman said that she wants a job but in reality I do not think that she wants to work.

in receipt of (something)

– having received something

I am in receipt of an order from the city to cut down a tree in our backyard.

in recent memory

– the recent period of time in which you can remember things

In recent memory, our football team has never been as strong as it is this year.

in rehearsal

– developing or practicing for a play or opera or concert

The play has been in rehearsal for two weeks.

in remission

– a disease that seems to be getting better

The cancer of my neighbor’s mother has been in remission for several months now.

in retrospect

– thinking about the past with the knowledge that one now has

In retrospect, I would have handled the conflict with my friend very differently.

in return for (someone or something)

– as part of an exchange, as a way of paying someone back

In return for cleaning his carpets my friend helped me clean up our basement.

in round numbers/figures

– an estimated number, a figure that has been rounded off

I was able to learn, in round numbers, how much it would cost to paint our house.

in ruin

– destroyed

Most of the hotels along the beach were in ruin after the hurricane.

in search of (someone or something)

– trying to find someone or something

I have been in search of a good family restaurant for several months now.

in season

– currently available for sale, legally able to be caught or hunted

Cherries are in season now and they are very delicious.

in secret

– secretly

The meeting to talk about building the new hospital took place in secret.

in session

– a court or organization is operating or functioning

The court has been in session since 9:00 AM.

in seventh heaven

– very happy

I have been in seventh heaven since I started my new job.

in shambles

– in a messy state

The house was in shambles after the two boys played in it all day.

in short

– stated briefly

“In short, I have already explained how we are going to complete the next project.”

in short order

– very quickly

I finished my work in short order and joined my friends at the restaurant.

in short supply

– not enough, in less than the amount or number needed

Chairs were in short supply so some guests had to sit on the floor.

in sight

– able to be seen

There were no birds in sight so we went back to the hotel and stopped bird watching for the day.

in single file

– lined up, one behind the other

Everybody lined up in single file behind their leader.

in so far as

– to the extent that

In so far as the new office hours go I totally agree with my boss.

(not) in so many words

– (not) exactly, (not) explicitly

My teacher told me about the problems in our class but not in so many words.

in some/many respects

– with regard to some or many details

In many respects our new house is much more convenient than our previous one.

in some way/ways

– in some unspecified way or manner, by some unspecified means

In some ways I know what my friend thinks but in some ways I do not.

in (someone’s) clutches

– in the control of someone who has power over someone else

The young boy is in his friend’s clutches and cannot make up his mind for himself.

in (someone’s) favor

– to someone’s advantage or credit

The judge decided the court case in our favor and we did not have to pay the court costs.

in (someone’s) name

– in someone’s ownership or property

I put my father’s car in my name when he gave it to me.

in (someone’s) prayers

– remembered by name when someone prays

My friend’s father was in my prayers when he went to the hospital.

in (someone’s) shoes/place

– seeing or experiencing something from another’s point of view

I wish that my father could be in my shoes and understand some of my problems at work.

in spite of

– in opposition to, despite

In spite of the terrible weather we went to the beach for a picnic.

in step with (someone or something)

– marching with the same rhythm as someone else, in agreement with the others in a group

All of the members of our group were in step with each other regarding the New Year’s party.

in stitches

– laughing

Everybody was in stitches after their teacher`s joke.

in stock

– available or ready to sell or use

The store did not have the computer security system in stock.

in storage

– in a place where things are stored or kept

We put our furniture in storage and went for a trip around the world.

in store

– ready to happen, waiting

I do not know what the future has in store for me but I am ready for anything.

in style

– in fashion, fashionable

Recently, my clothes are not in style.

in surgery

– undergoing surgery, doing surgery

My grandfather was in surgery for several hours this morning.

in tandem

– in single file

The students walked in tandem as they went to the sports festival.

in tatters

– torn or destroyed

My backpack was in tatters after the dogs finished playing with it.

in terms of (something)

– with regard to something

In terms of our agreement with the other company we were not allowed to sell our products online.

in the absence of (someone or something)

– without someone or something

In the absence of any concrete plans for the building we decided to sell it.

in the act of (doing something)

– while doing something

The young man was arrested in the act of stealing an MP3 player from the store.

in the affirmative

– saying yes

Everybody in the class voted in the affirmative to go golfing for the field trip.

in the aggregate

– considered together, when considered as a total

In the aggregate the costs for the new recreation complex are very high.

in the air

– current, exerting an influence

It is in the air that we will be getting a new supervisor next week.

in the bag

– certain, sure

The contract will be in the bag if we put in a good proposal.

in the balance

– in an undecided state

Our decision to buy a car was in the balance as we tried to borrow money from the bank.

in the ballpark

– in a particular area or range (from a baseball field)

The offer for our house was not in the ballpark of an acceptable offer so we did not sell it.

in/into the bargain

– in addition to what was expected

The store put a camping stove into the bargain when we bought the camping equipment.

in the best of health

– very healthy

My father has been in the best of health for many years now.

in the black

– having a credit balance, making a profit

Our company has been in the black for over three years now.

in the buff

– naked, nude

I was in the buff when the doorbell rang.

in the cards

– expected, likely to happen, predictable

I think that a new company policy is in the cards but I am not sure.

in the care of (someone)

– being cared for or looked after by someone

The child was left in the care of her aunt.

in the case of (someone or something)

– in the matter of someone or something

In the case of the man who stole the car he went to jail for several months.

in the charge of

– under the care or supervision of

The girl has been in the charge of her grandmother since the girl’s mother and father died.

in the chips

– wealthy

My aunt has been in the chips since she won the lottery.

in the clear

– with nothing to limit action, free of anything that makes moving or seeing difficult

We seem to be in the clear now so it should be safe to cross the road.

in the clear

– free of blame or suspicion

The police talked to the boy for a few minutes and he seems to be in the clear now.

in the clouds

– far from real life, in dreams, in thought

The man’s head is usually in the clouds so it is difficult to talk to him.

in the context of (something)

– in the circumstances under which something has happened

In the context of his job I could understand what my friend was saying.

in the course of

– during

In the course of his life the man visited over 45 countries.

in the dark (about something)

– to have no information about something

My boss is in the dark about my plans to quit my job.

in the doghouse

– in trouble

The man is in the doghouse with his wife after staying out late last night.

in the doldrums

– sluggish, in low spirits

My mother has been in the doldrums since she came back from her holidays.

in the driver’s seat

– in control

I am in the driver’s seat regarding where we go for our holiday.

in the end

– eventually, ultimately

In the end, I decided not to go to a movie with my friend.

in the event of (something)

– if something happens

In the event of a fire, everybody must immediately leave the building by the front door.

in the final/last analysis

– in truth, when all the facts are known

In the final analysis, I believe that it will be impossible to continue with our present policy.

in the first place

– firstly, to begin with

“Of course I cannot go. In the first place, I must work on Saturday. In the second place, I have no money.”

in the flesh

– in person, present

I have never met the president of our university in the flesh.

in the groove

– at one`s best, doing something very well

We are in the groove and should be able to finish this job by early next week.

in the hole

– having a score lower than zero in a game

At the beginning of the game we were in the hole but later we began to do well.

in the hole

– in debt, losing money

Although my friend is always working he always seems to be in the hole.

in the homestretch

– the last part of something

The project to build the new bridge is now in the homestretch.

in the interest of (someone or something)

– as a benefit to someone or something, to advance or improve someone or something

In the interest of improving staff communication we had a large barbecue so that people could meet each other.

in the interim

– in the time between the ending and beginning of something

The school is not yet built so in the interim we will have our classes in an office building.

in the know

– knowledgeable

I do not think that our teacher is in the know about the problems in the other classes.

in the lap of luxury

– in luxurious surroundings

I have been living in the lap of luxury since I got a big salary increase at work.

in the limelight

– at the center of attention

Our police chief has been in the limelight since the scandal began.

in the line of duty

– done as part of a job

The police officer was killed in the line of duty during a bank robbery.

in the long run

– in the distant future, in the end

My uncle is losing money on his stocks but in the long run he should make money.

in the loop

– part of a group that is kept up-to-date with information about something

I am not in the loop at work and I do not know what is happening there.

in the mainstream

– following trends or styles that are currently popular or common

My brother has never been in the mainstream when it comes to working and raising a family.

in the market for (something)

– wanting or ready to buy something

I am in the market for a new computer because my old one is too slow.

in the meantime

– the period of time between now and the beginning of something

I cannot go to university now so in the meantime I am going to a junior college.

in the middle of nowhere

– in a very remote place

We stopped in the middle of nowhere to have a picnic.

in the money

– wealthy, the winning position in a race

Now that my cousin is working, he is finally in the money.

in the mood for (something)

– feeling like doing something

I am not in the mood for pizza this evening.

in the nature of (something)

– being similar in type or character to something, rather like something

The complaint was in the nature of a telephone call to the company.

in the near future

– in the time immediately ahead

In the near future, I plan to move to a smaller apartment and try to save some money.

in the nick of time

– just in time, just before it is too late

I was able to answer the telephone just in the nick of time.

in the nude

– naked

I was in the nude after my shower when the phone rang.

in the offing

– happening at some time in the future

There is a meeting in the offing to try and make a new schedule for the junior tennis games.

in the open

– in an area that is not closed in, outdoors

Everybody was in the open during the wedding when the rain began to fall.

in the picture

– knowing something, having information about something

I am not in the picture about my friend’s wedding plans.

in the pink

– in very good health

My grandmother is in the pink and is doing very well.

in the prime of life

– in the best and most productive and healthy period of life

The young man was in a terrible car accident and died in the prime of life.

in the public eye

– seen by the public, visible to everyone

The actor has not been in the public eye since he got into trouble with the law.

in the raw

– naked, nude

The little boy was playing in the park in the raw.

in the rear

– behind someone or something

There were several trucks in the rear as the vehicles crossed the desert.

in the red

– losing money, not making a profit

The company has been in the red for three years now.

in the right

– on the right or legal side of an issue

I was in the right when I was involved in the car accident at the intersection.

in the right place at the right time

– in a place or time that is beneficial to you

I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time when I found my job.

in the running

– competing and having a chance to win

I think that I am in the running for a promotion at my company.

in the saddle

– in command, in control

The president is back in the saddle after being ill for several months.

in the same boat

– in a similar situation

We are all in the same boat now that our store has gone out of business.

in the same breath

– saying something at the same time

My friend said that he was busy on Friday but in the same breath he suggested that we go away for the weekend.

in the same league as (someone or something)

– at the same level as someone or something

Our soccer team is not in the same league at the opposition team.

in the second place

– in addition, secondly

In the first place, I am very tired and in the second place, I do not have enough money to go to the movie.

in the shape of (something)

– in the form of something

The candle was in the shape of a hand.

in the short run

– in or for the immediate future

In the short run, I do not think that my uncle will make much money with his fast food business.

in the soup

– in serious trouble, in disorder

The girl is in the soup now that she has had a fight with her boss.

in the swim

– active in something, knowing what is going on

My colleague is definitely in the swim. He has information about everybody.

in the trust of (someone)

– under the responsibility or care of someone

My grandmother’s money was placed in the trust of my mother.

in the twinkling of an eye

– very quickly

In the twinkling of an eye, the little boy disappeared in the department store.

in the unlikely event of/that

– if something which probably will not happen actually happens

In the unlikely event that the money will not be transferred to the bank we will send a check.

in the wake of (something)

– as a result of something, following something

In the wake of the large number of people who have recently left our company we will need to hire some new people.

in the way

– in a position to obstruct something, to hinder or interfere with something

The taxi was in the way and the bus could not pass.

in the wind

– soon to happen, being planned or discussed

It is in the wind that we are planning to open a new store next year.

in the works

– in preparation, being planned or worked on

The construction of the new school is in the works.

in the worst way

– very much

I would like to go to the new movie in the worst way.

in the wrong

– wrong, against justice or truth or fact

The driver was in the wrong and was arrested by the police after the accident.

in the wrong place at the wrong time

– something bad happens in a place or time where you happen to be

The man was in the wrong place at the wrong time when the car hit him.

in theory

– theoretically, what should be correct according to some rule or principle

In theory, it is possible to make much money selling real estate but in practice it is very difficult.

in this day and age

– presently, currently

In this day and age it is almost impossible to find a store that sells the old style of cassette tape players.

in time

– before the time necessary (to do something)

I did not arrive in time to meet my cousin.

in time with (someone or something)

– at the same speed or rhythm as someone or something

The woman is never in time with the rest of the orchestra.

in times past

– long ago, in previous times

In times past, many people attended the sports festival in the small town.

in top form

– in very good physical condition

The tennis star was in top form during the big tournament.

in touch

– talking or writing to each other, giving or getting news

We are still in touch even though we have been out of school for many years.

in tow

– being pulled

The truck had a trailer in tow when it crashed on the highway.

in tow

– being taken from place to place, going along with someone

The woman spent the morning at the shopping center with her child in tow.

in transit

– in the process of being transported

The cars were in transit when there was a train and truck accident.

in trouble

– in danger, in difficulty

The boy in in trouble with the school this term.

in tune

– going well together, in agreement, matching

We have been in tune with each other ever since we met at our high school graduation party.

in tune

– having or producing the correct or required pitch

The members of the orchestra were in tune when the concert started.

in turn

– each following another

Everybody went to the front of the class in turn in order to pick up their diplomas.

in two shakes of a lamb`s tail

– quickly, in no time at all

“I will have this finished in two shakes of a lamb`s tail.”

in unison

– acting as one, together and at the same time

The fans cried out in unison when the star player scored a goal.

in vain

– without effect, without success

I tried in vain to find a good job in the small town.

in view of (something)

– after thinking about something, because of something

In view of the large number of people who have come, I think that we will need a bigger room.

in with (someone)

– in friendship or favor or closeness with someone

The boy was in with the wrong group of people when he went to high school.

inch along

– to move along slowly

The road was very crowded this morning and the traffic was only inching along.

inch by inch

– little by little, one inch at a time

I checked the park inch by inch to try and find my watch.

inclined to (do something)

– to tend toward doing something

Our boss is inclined to let us take extra days off work during the slow summer months.

incumbent upon (someone) to (do something)

– necessary for someone to do something

It is incumbent upon the next mayor to try and do something about crime in the city.

ins and outs of (something)

– all the details of something

The supervisor knows the ins and outs of the new machine.

inside and out

– in every part, completely

We checked the room inside and out for my lost wallet.

inside out

– with the inside facing the outside

The woman turned her purse inside out in order to look for her lost key.

inside track

– an advantage, the shortest distance around a racetrack

I think that the man has the inside track on getting the new job at the computer company.

insist on (something)

– to say that you must have something, to press your wishes on others

The man insists on having tea every morning before he goes to work.

instead of

– in place of

“Let`s meet at the restaurant instead of at the department store as we had planned.”

instrumental in (doing something)

– playing an important part in doing something

Our teacher was instrumental in getting the school to change their policy on using the library after school.

intent on (doing something)

– to be determined to do something

I am intent on buying some new furniture when we move to a new house.

into being

– into existence

The new parking regulations came into being early last week.

into thin air

– completely, without anything left

The group of hikers vanished into thin air and were never heard from again.

invasion of (someone’s) privacy

– intruding and causing someone to lose their privacy

It was an invasion of our privacy when the supervisor opened the mail that we received in the company.

invest (something) in (something)

– to put one’s time and effort and energy into doing something

We are investing a lot of time in the project for the new counseling center for young people.

iron out (something) or iron (something) out

– to work out something, to solve a problem

We have ironed out all of our problems at work and we are doing better now.

irons in the fire

– the things that one is doing, the projects with which a person is busy

Recently, my coworker has too many irons in the fire. That is why he became sick.

issue a call for (something)

– to make a public invitation or request for something

The government issued a call for people to donate goods to help the hurricane victims.

it figures

– it seems likely, it seems reasonable

It figures that the children were loud while they were playing.

itching palm

– a wish for money, greed

The guard at the hotel has an itching palm so we must be careful of him.


ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ