1. a dead end: a situation where no more progress is possible
The negotiations have reached a dead end.
2. a drop in the ocean: a tiny contribution compared with what is needed
5000 new school are to be built, but this is just a drop in the ocean for such a vast country.
3. a far cry from: very different from
I enjoyed visiting Seattle, but it was a fry cry from the ideal vacation spot I expected.
4. a flying visit: a quick visit
Hello, Richard. This is just a flying visit, I haven`t got much time.
5. a gut feeling: a reaction or feeling that you are sure is right, although you cannot give a reason for it.
He had a gut feeling that Sarah was lying.
6. a high flyer: a very ambitious person
Philip is aiming at getting a seat on the board of directors. I don`t think he has the necessary experience, but he always was a very ambitious person.
7. A leopard can't change his spots: You cannot change who you are.
8. all of a sudden: suddenly, without warning
All of a sudden Ed appeared at the door. We weren`t expecting him to drop by.
9. anybody`s guess: something that no one knows
What she`s going to do with her life now is anybody`s guess.
10. a pain in the neck: nuisance, difficult person
She`s a pain in the neck. Nobody likes her.
11. a piece of cake: a very easy task
The test was a piece of cake!
12. a red herring: something intended to divert attention from the real problem
The Minister said that he wouldn't answer the question because it involved national security; but that was a red herring to avoid a discussion of the terrible mistakes he had made
13. a skeleton in the cupboard: an embarrassing or unpleasant secret about something that happened to you in the past
They say that every family has a skeleton in the cupboard, but if this affair becomes public it will certainly be the end of Smith`s political career.
14. a sore point: something that is likely to make someone upset when you talk about it
`If you see Ian, don`t mention the cricket team. He expected to be made captain, but he wasn`t.` `Oh, I see. It`s a sore point with him, is it?`
15. at last: finally, after a long time
We waited for hours and then the train arrived at last.
16. at the end of the day: when all has been considered
I admit that Bill is sometimes arrogant, but when all has been considered, he`s the best player in the team and he deserves to be captain.
17. a toss-up: when you do not know which of two things will happen
I don`t know who`ll get the job: it`s a toss-up between Tim and Joe.
18. can`t make head or tail of sth: to be unable to understand something
I can`t make head or tail of what she`s saying.
19. child`s play: very easy to do
I`ve cooked for 200 people before now. So, tonight is child`s play by comparison.
20. devil`s advocate: Someone who takes a position for the sake of argument without believing in that particular side of the argument.
Peter would play devil`s advocate with anyone.
21. Don't put all your eggs in one basket: Do not put all your resources in one possibility.
22. Excuse my French: Please forgive me for swearing.
23. flogging a dead horse: wasting time and effort by trying to do something that is impossible
If you`re trying to convince her to lend us more money, you`re flogging a dead horse.
24. for good: forever, permanently
Ruth has returned to Canada for good. She won`t ever live in the United States again.
25. for the time being: temporarily
For the time being, Janet is working as a waitress, but she really hopes to become an actress soon.
26. hard up: if you are hard up, you do not have much money.
I`m a bit hard up at the moment.
27. if the worst comes to the worst: if the situation gets very bad indeed
If the worst comes to the worst, we`ll have to cancel the holiday.
28. in a nutshell: talking of the main facts
To put it in a nutshell, this is a waste of time.
29. in no time: very quickly, rapidly
We thought that the meeting would take two hours, but it was over in no time at all.
30. in the heat of the moment: Overwhelmed by what is happening at the moment..
In the heat of the moment, I kissed her.
31. in the long run: eventually, after a long period of time
If you work hard at your marriage, you`ll find out that, in the long run, your spouse can be your best friend in life.
32. in vain: useless, without the desired result
We tried in vain to reach you last night. Is your phone out of order?
33. it serves sb right: someone deserves something unpleasant that happens to them
`Julia left her suitcase unattended at Euston Station and it got stolen.` `It serves her right. She`s always careless with her things.`
34. It`s all Greek to me: used to say that you cannot understand something
I`m sorry but it`s all Greek to me!
35. last but not least: used when mentioning the last person or thing in a list, to emphasise that they are still important.
Last but not least, let me introduce Jane, our new assistant.
36. little by little: gradually, slowly (also: step by step)
Karen`s health seems to be improving little by little.
37. not for all the tea in China: not at any price
No I won't do it—not for all the tea in China.
38. not one`s cup of tea: not the type of thing one likes
Jazz just isn’t my cup of tea – I prefer classical music.
39. no wonder: it is not surprising at all
No wonder you`ve got a headache, the amount you drank last night.
40. now and then: occasionally, sometimes
I don`t see him very often, but now and then we arrange to have lunch together.
41. once in a blue moon: rarely, infrequently
Once in a blue moon my wife and I eat at a very expensive restaurant.
42. on and off: occasionally, for short periods but not regularly
We`ve had meetings on and off.
43. on purpose: for a reason, deliberately
It was no accident that he broke my glasses. He did it on purpose.
44. on tenterhooks: on edge, feeling nervous because you are waiting to find out something
She had been on tenterhooks all night, expecting Joe to return at any moment.
45. on the tip of your tongue: if a word, name, etc. is on the tip of your tongue, you know it but cannot remember it.
What is her name? It`s on the tip of my tongue, Joan, Joan Simpson. That`s it!
46. out of the question: not permitted, not workable
Taking vacation now is out of the question because we have to meet the deadline.
47. right away: very soon, immediately (also: at once)
Dad says that dinner will be ready right away, so we`d better wash our hands.
48. rip-off: something that is unreasonably expensive
That restaurant was a real rip-off.
49. small talk: social talk, nothing serious
It was just small talk, nothing more, I promise.
50. sooner or later: eventually, after a period of time
If you study English seriously, sooner or later you`ll become fluent.
51. Take it or leave it: used to say that you do not care whether someone accepts your offer or not.
300 pounds and not a penny more. Take it or leave it.
52. the icing on the cake: something that makes a very good experience even better
It was a great day, but meeting her there was just the icing on the cake!
53. the last straw: the final event in a series of unacceptable actions
I can`t believe that my roommate left the door to our apartment unlocked again. It`s the last straw, I`m moving out.
54. the tricks of the trade: clever methods used in a particular job
It won`t take him long to learn the tricks of the trade.
55. touch and go: risky, uncertain until the end
The outcome of the soccer final was touch and go for the entire match.
56. to add fuel to the fire: to make an argument or disagreement worse
Rather than providing a solution, their statements merely added fuel to the fire.
57. to beat around the bush: to avoid discussing directly, to evade the issue
Our boss beats around the bush so much that no one in the office knows exactly what he wants us to do.
58. to bite off more than you can chew: to try to do more than you are able to do.
Don`t bite off more than you can chew: this task is too big for you.
59. to break the ice: to make people feel more friendly and willing to talk to each other.
Sam`s arrival broke the ice and people began to talk and laugh.
60. to bury the hatchet: to agree to stop arguing about something and become friends
I wish Paul and Simon would forget about their old quarrel. It`s time they buried the hatchet and became friends again.
61. to call it a day / to call it a night: to stop working for the rest of the day / night
Ian tried to repair his car engine all morning before he called it a day and went fishing.
62. to cross your fingers: To hope that something happens the way you want it to.
I`ll keep my fingers crossed for you!
63. to cry over spilt milk: When you complain about a loss from the past.
There`s no point in crying over spilt milk: try to focus on the future!
64. to cry wolf: Intentionally raise a false alarm.
Don`t cry wolf yet, nothing has happened.
65. to drop sy a line: to write a short letter to someone
Don`t forget to drop us a line as soon as you arrive.
66. to find your feet: To become more confident in whatever you are doing.
Rob is still finding his feet as a coach.
67. to foot the bill: to pay up
He did a lot of damage to the car and his parents had to foot the bill.
68. to get a bite to eat: to have a quick meal
We can get a bite to eat on the motorway.
69. to get it off my chest: to tell something that as been bothering you a lot
I hope you didn`t mind me telling you. I just had to get it off my chest.
70. to get on one`s nerves: to annoy or disturb
Laura loves to talk to anyone. Sometimes her chatter really gets on my nerves.
71. to get rid of: to remove, to eliminate, to throw away
The stain was so bad that Jerry finally had to get rid of his shirt.
72. to go back to square one: to go back to the beginning
It`s not working: we`ll have to go back to square one.
73. to go the extra mile: to try a little harder in order to achieve something
The president expressed his determination to go the extra mile for peace.
74. to have a crack at sg: to attempt to do sg
I`ve never made a Christmas pudding myself before, but I`m going to have a crack at it this year.
75. to have a nap: to a have a short sleep, especially during the day
I usually have a nap after lunch.
76. to have a finger in every pie: to be involved in many different things
Maria is involved, as always: she has a finger in every pie.
77. to have enough on one`s plate: to have a lot of problems to deal with
I can`t do that job as well: I`ve got enough on my plate as it is.
78. to keep one`s fingers crossed: to hope to have good results, to hope that nothing bad will happen
Let`s keep our fingers crossed that we got passing grades on that college entrance exam.
79. to leave a lot to be desired: to be very unsatisfactory
His attitude leaves a lot to be desired. I wish he would try to improve a little.
80. to lose face: to be humiliated
If you really don`t want to lose face in the office, admit your mistake and apologise to the rest of the staff.
81. to make a scene: to have a loud, angry argument
People are listening. For goodness sake, don`t make a scene here!
82. to make ends meet: to manage with the money they earn
With higher taxes and reduced export opportunities small businesses can hardly make ends meet.
83. to make up your mind: to make a decision
I can`t make up my mind whether to accept the job in New Zealand or go to Brussels where I can earn more money.
84. to pay through the nose: to pay a huge amount
We had to pay through the nose for those tickets.
85. to put sy in the picture: to give someone all the information they need to understand a situation
I`m just going now, but Keith will put you in the picture.
86. to put your feet up: to relax
We can stay home tomorrow and put our feet up.
87. to slip your mind: to forget
I meant to buy some milk, but it completely slipped my mind.
88. to take it easy: to relax and not do very much
Take things easy for a few days and you should be all right.
89. to talk rubbish: to say stupid things
Iris always talks rubbish.
90. to talk shop: to talk about work when there are people present who are not interested
Are you two going to talk shop all night?
91. to rack one`s brains: to try very hard to remember or think of something
I racked my brains, trying to remember his name.
92. to raise hell: to protest strongly and angrily about a situation
If he leaves also my third mail unanswered, I`ll raise hell with the director.
93. to see light at the end of the tunnel: to start to get out of a difficult situation
We can see light at the end of the tunnel at last.
94. to take one`s time: to do without rush, not to hurry
William never works rapidly. He always takes his time in everything that he does.
95. to waste one`s breath: to speak uselessly
Don`t argue with Frank any longer. You are wasting your breath trying to get him to agree with you.
96. to wine and dine: to entertain
She has to wine and dine important clients.
97. to work wonders: to be very effective in solving a problem
The injection will work wonders.
98. under no circumstances: not for the world
Under no circumstances are you to go out.
99. under the weather: not very well, slightly ill
You look a bit under the weather!
100. with hindsight: with the ability to understand a situation after it has happened
With hindsight, I should have seen the warning signs.