Idioms are phrases that mean more than their words put together. If you take them word for word, they might not make much sense! Idioms are a little like puzzles: try imagining a picture or a situation that the phrase suggests, and guess at the meaning from there.

the buck stops here
"taking responsibility for something, instead of blaming someone else."
President Harry S. Truman invented this phrase and had a sign made for his desk with those words. Truman liked to play poker, a popular card game. In poker a marker called a "buck" was placed in front of the player who would be the next to deal the cards. A player who didn't want to deal could pass the buck to the next player.

buying a pig in a poke
"buying something without seeing it."
At country fairs in England years ago, dishonest men would put a cat in a burlap bag and try to sell it as a young pig. If a suspicious buyer wanted to see the pig, the seller would be forced to "let the cat out of the bag" (another idiom, meaning "to expose a secret"). Poke, meaning "bag or sack," is not heard much anymore, but it is the source of the word "pocket."

the fat's in the fire
"the damage is already done."
This phrase probably came from a kitchen centuries ago. Fat was, and still is, often used in *****ng. If it spills in the fire, it burns up right away, and there is nothing to be done about it.

a flash in the pan
"something that looks like it will be a big success, but does not work out."
Flintlock muskets had a little pan to be filled with gunpowder. When the trigger was pulled, a spark from the flint would light that powder. It was supposed to burn through a hole in the barrel and light more powder behind the bullet. A "flash in the pan" made light and smoke for a second, but didn't fire the bullet.

footing the bill
"paying."
The person who signs his or her name at the bottom, or "foot," of a bill or check (as at a restaurant) is the one who pays. Signing the foot, or "footing it," has come to mean paying.

hat trick
"scoring three times in a game."
Used in hockey and soccer, this term came from the English game of cricket. In cricket, a bowler (sort of like a pitcher) tries to knock over three wooden stakes, or wickets, that are guarded by a player with a flat bat. Knocking down three wickets on three straight "pitches" was called a "hat trick." A long time ago, players who did it won a hat.

in a pickle
"in an awkward or embarrassing situation."
Meats and vegetables can be preserved by soaking them in barrels of a salty solution called pickle. The Dutch had a phrase meaning "sitting in the pickle," which was borrowed into English about 500 years ago.

the jig is up
"the game or trick is exposed."
In Shakespeare's time, "jig" was a slang for trick. When the "jig is up," the trick has been discovered.

the nick of time
"just before time is up."
Years ago, the scores of some games (like soccer) were kept by cutting notches or "nicks" in each end of a wooden "tally stick." A winning goal that came just before the clock ran out was said to be a "nick in time."

pull the wool over someone's eyes
"trick or deceive."
In the days when gentlemen wore powdered wigs, "wool" was a funny word for hair. Jokesters would knock a man's wig (his wool) down over his eyes so that he couldn't see what was happening.

bite off more than you can chew—"take on more than one can handle." Take a big bite out of a sandwich so that some of it is still sticking out past your lips. Now try chewing. Don't you wish you had bitten off less?

chew someone out—"to severely scold someone." The phrase supposedly came from the U.S. Army. It seems fitting that an angry, screaming general would make people feel as if they had just been chewed up and spit out.

chew the fat—"to have a long, friendly, and informal chat." Fat is tough to chew. The original phrasemakers probably had a fatty cut of meat and a whole lot of time to chew it. You'd probably want to chew the fat with your firends after school, but maybe not with your principal.

raining cats and dogs
"raining very heavily."
Centuries ago, people thought certain animals had magical powers. Sailors believed cats had something to do with rainstorms. Dogs and wolves were symbols of winds in Norse mythology.

skate on thin ice
be in a dangerous or risky situation

go bananas
to act silly or crazy
All About Clothes

cap in hand
in a humble or respectful manner

fill someone's shoes
take someone else's place, do another person's job

fit like a glove
fit or suit perfectly

get hot under the collar
become angry

in one's stocking feet
wearing stockings or socks, but not shoes

raining cats and dogs
"raining very heavily."
Centuries ago, people thought certain animals had magical powers. Sailors believed cats had something to do with rainstorms. Dogs and wolves were symbols of winds in Norse mythology.

skate on thin ice
be in a dangerous or risky situation

go bananas
to act silly or crazy
All About Clothes

cap in hand
in a humble or respectful manner

fill someone's shoes
take someone else's place, do another person's job

fit like a glove
fit or suit perfectly

get hot under the collar
become angry

in one's stocking feet
wearing stockings or socks, but not shoes

keep under one's hat
keep secret, keep to oneself
All Washed Up

all wet
no good

my cup runneth over
I have everything I could possibly want

shed crocodile tears
cry insincerely
Animal Life

cold fish
someone who is unfriendly or does not show feelings

cry wolf
to alarm others or whine about something when there is no real danger

dog-eat-dog
fierce competition

horse around
to have fun; play around

open a can of worms
to open up a lot of new problems

snake in the grass
a liar, cheat, or sneaky person
Batter Up!

ballpark figure
a rough estimate

cruisin' into homebase
returning to your house

get the ball rolling
get something started

let's touch base
let's talk to each other about something

out of left field
unexpected, from an unlikely source

off base
to be wrong

on the ball
to be alert or quick to catch on or understand

play games
to fool someone or keep the truth from someone

right off the bat
immediately, first thing

smash hit
a big success

strike someone funny
to seem funny to someone

the game is up
a lie or other secret act has been discovered
Body ********

all thumbs
clumsy

all ears
paying attention carefully

armed to the teeth
heavily armed

arm in arm
doing something with another person with arms connected; in agreement

flip your wig
to go crazy or get excited without warning

get out of my face
stop bothering me

knee-jerk reaction
an automatic response

off the top of your head
using the first idea that occurs to you

pull one's leg
fool or trick someone

talking head
a TV personality shown mostly from the shoulders up, just talking, not doing anything
Colorful Phrases

green thumb
very good at growing plants, vegetables, flowers

green with envy
to be extremely envious

in the black
making a profit, not in debt

in the red
not having enough money

out of the blue
seemingly from nowhere

see red
to become very angry

wave a white flag
to indicate, in battle, that you wish to surrender

white elephant
something of little or no value
Connections

get with the program
follow the rules

joined at the hip
always together

like two peas in a pod
very similar

on the same wavelength
thinking the same thing
Play On

in the groove
in top form

face the music
be realistic, face the facts

play by ear
do something without planning ahead

stay tuned
pay attention
Weather Or Not

blow hot and cold
first show one feeling, then show the opposite

a break in the clouds
a happy turn of events, a change for the better

chill out
relax, take it easy

once in a blue moon
rarely
Traveling On

caught the wave
followed the latest trend

flew the coop
left or departed, often secretly or guiltily

hit the ground running
start a project immediately

I got your back
I'm here for you

made a beeline
went somewhere fast

off da hook
really cool

on the right track
heading for the right conclusion




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