Learning to use common idioms and expressions are interesting and will make your English sound more native, so it's a good idea to master some of these expressions. The following list contains commonly used idioms, their meaning together with their usage.
- Clean the air – have a frank discussion to eliminate any misunderstanding
Example: We talked it over for about an hour and really cleared the air, so that we are good friends again now.
- Fly off at a tangent – digress
Example: It is difficult to have a sensible discussion with my mother because she's always flying off at a tangent and talking about something else.
- Gild the pill – make something unpleasant as possible
Example: He is on the verge of bankruptcy, but he stills gilds the pills and imposes upon his friend.
- Give someone a dose of his own medicine – do something unpleasant done to a person who is in the habit of doing the same kind of thing to other people
Example: In snubbing Peter she only gave him a dose of his own medicine.
- Let someone down easy – tell bad news about a refusal or disappointment in a gentle way
Example: The boss tried to let Jim down easy when he had to tell him he was too young for the job.
- Have one's hands full – be very busy or fully occupied
Example: I will really have my hands full on Saturday; we're having a dinner party and the whole family is coming.
- Hit the nail on the head – be absolutely
Example: When you said that what he chiefly lacks is self-discipline, you hit the nail on the head.
- Keep one's eyes skinned – watch carefully
Example: This is the right street – keep your eyes skinned for a house with a red front door.
- Put one's foot in one's month – get into trouble by unwittingly saying something. embarrassing or rude
Example: She put her foot in her mouth with her joke about that church, not knowing that one of the guests belonged to it.
- Wet behind the ears – lacking experience, training or knowledge; naive and immature
Example: The older members of the committee took no notice of anything I said: they clearly thought I was still wet behind the ears.
- Cash in – exchange something for money
Example: John decided to cash in the credit slip because he needed some money to pay bills.
- Put in one's two cent – give one's opinion
Example: Betty always wanted to put in her two cents when given the opportunity.
- Save one's breath – remain silent because talking will do not good
Example: He decided to save his breath and not ask her about it because it would be futile to obtain her help.
- Snake in the grass – an enemy who pretends to be a friend
Example: Roger told her that Stanley is a snake in the grass and untrustworthy.
- Hand over fist – quickly; in quantity
Example: During the World War, the company had made money hand over fist.
- Absent-minded – forgetful; careless
Example: My mother is very absent-minded and often forgets where she leaves her money.
- Barking up the wrong tree – looking in the wrong place or accusing the wrong person
Example: Philip is not your enemy, you are barking up the wrong tree
- Ducks in a row – to be organized
Example: The manager said, “I have to get my ducks in a row before we can begin the new production process.”
- Make hay while the sun shines – do something at the right time; not wait too long
Example: He felt he needed to make hay while the sun shines and start the new business while the interest remained strong.
- Open one’s heart – talk about one’s feelings honestly
Example: Knowing her friend was emotionally upset, Susan opened her heart to demonstrate her compassion.