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Idioms 2


look very much like someone else - be the spitting image of

She's the spitting image of her mother. You'd think they were sisters!

run in the family - recur through successive generations

All three daughters are very musical. So was their mother and her mother too. It runs in the family.

go through a bad patch - experience a period of difficulty

Our marriage is going through a bad patch at the moment, but we're still together.

split up - end a marriage or relationship

They've been married for twenty-five years, but now I hear that they're splitting up.


an old flame - someone you had a romantic relationship with in the past

I bumped into Linda the other day in the High Street. She's an old flame from my student days in Manchester.

be in high spirits - be in a cheerful mood

You're in high spirits! You must have had some good news.

hit it off with someone - enjoy someone's company

I'm sharing a flat with six other students but we all hit it off together.

It's a small world! - expression of surprise when you meet an old acquaintance, usually in an unexpected place

Just imagine! I met my old violin teacher on the top of a mountain in Peru recently. Small world!


get on in the world - be successful in one's job

Geraldine is now a senior executive in one of the world's largest oil companies. She's certainly got on in the world.

go flat out - do something with all your energy

I've been going flat out today. I'm trying to get this finished by five o'clock.

rake it in - make a lot of money quickly

He's raking it in. That's the third shoe shop he's opened in this area.

make ends meet - just about manage financially

By giving private lessons on Thursday and Friday afternoons, I can just about make ends meet.

Smell a Rat

How come the front door is open? Didn't  you close it before we went shopping? 

I'm sure I did. I can't understand it. Frankly, I smell a rat.

Me, too. I'm convinced that something is definitely wrong here. We'd better call the police.

Go to the Dogs

Have you seen their house lately? It's really gone to the dogs.

It's true that it has become run-down and in serious need of repair, but I'm sure that it can be fixed up to look like new.

I guess with a little carpentry work and some paint it could look pretty decent.


When the security guard saw a light in the store after closing hours, it seemed to him that there was something fishy going on. He called the central office and explained to his superior that he thought something strange and suspicious was occurring.

Take the Bull by the Horns

Julie had always felt that she was missing out on a lot of fun because of her clumsiness on the dance floor. She had been putting off taking lessons, but she finally took the bull by the horns and went to a professional dance studio for help. She was tired of feeling left out and acted decisively to correct the situation.

Let the cat out of the Bag

Bob was going to retire from teaching in June, and the foreign language department was planning on presenting him with some luggage at his retirement dinner. He wasn't supposed to know about it, but someone let the cat out of the bag. At the dinner Bob acted surprised, even though someone had told him what he was getting before the official presentation.

For the Birds

They went to a poetry reading, but they got bored and restless. As far as they were concerned, it was for the birds! They left during an intermission because they found the reading totally uninteresting and meaningless

Straight From the Horse's Mouth

How did you find out that Jill was engaged?

I got the information from a very reliable source.

You mean Jill told you so herself?

That's right. I got it straight from the horse's mouth!

Horse Around

Did you hear about Dave's back injury?

No. How did he get hurt?

Well, after the coach left the gym he decided to stay and horse around on the parallel bars. He somehow lost his grip and fell on his back.

That's too bad, but he shouldn't have been aimlessly playing around on the equipment without proper supervision.

Cat Got Your Tongue?

Come on, Connie! Tell us what you think about our little ride down the rapids yesterday.

Well, uh...

Wasn't it exciting? 

I, uh...

What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?

If you must know, I'm keeping quiet because I was scared out of my wits!

Get in Someone's hair

Children! Would you please stop making so much noise!

And for heaven's sake, pick up your clothes and toys!

It's hard enough trying to keep this house clean without your throwing your things all over the place!

Clara, I know that the children get in your hair, but you should try not to let it upset you so much.

Listen, Jim. I can't help it . The children bother me and make me very angry when they're so noisy and messy.

Shoot Off One's Mouth

Jim doesn't play tennis very much, but he's always shooting off his mouth about how good he is. Yet he's fooling nobody. Jim is somewhat of a braggart and everyone knows that he gives opinions without knowing all the facts and talks as if he knew everything about the game.

Jump Down Someone's Throat

That's it, Greg! You'd better not come in after midnight again tonight!

I know, dad. You don't have to jump down my throat! I told you that I'd make it home around 11:30. I don't intend to be late!

Well, you've said that before and in you come at 2: 30 in the morning. You can't blame me for getting angry and scolding you. I've got good reason.

Pay Through the Nose

At last Mr. Smith came upon the rare stamp he had been seeking at an auction. Since many other stamp collectors would also be bidding for it, he realized that he would have to pay through the nose in order to have it.

After considering the increasing value of the stamp, he decided that he would not mind paying such a high price for something so rare.


Why were you teasing Sonia about her new hairdo? She really took offense at what you said.

I didn't mean to offend her. I was simply making a tongue-in-cheek remark when i said that it was too elaborate for a girl of her young, tender age.

Well, she thought you were serious. She had no idea that you were just saying that as a joke.

I'm really sorry. I suppose I owe her an apology.

Pull Someone's Leg

Hey, Al. I was invited to be a judge for the Miss America Beauty Pageant!

Oh, really? Come on, you're pulling my leg!

No, honestly. Do you really think that I'm trying to fool you with a ridiculous story?

Well, you've told me foolish stories before.

I can assure you that this one is for real.

Play It by Ear

Let's go to the movies, agreed?

Sure. And what'll we do after that ?

Oh, I don't know. Let's play it by ear.

Well, I would like to have a more definite plan of action.

Don't be like that. It's always more fun not knowing what to expect and deciding what to do as we go along.

Stick Out One's Neck

How come they're asking me to act as their guide through the jungle?

Evidently they think you're the only one who can lead them to the lost temple.

That jungle has danger lurking around every corner.

Why should I stick my neck out for them? They didn't pay me for my services.

They know that you would be taking a great risk and could possibly get hurt, but you're the only one with enough knowledge to take them to their destination. I'm sure you'll be amply rewarded.

All Thumbs

Hey Bea. Can you help me out ? I don't seem to be able to button up the back of my dress.

Sure. Let's see if I can do it for you.

I guess I'm all thumbs because I'm so nervous. I'm already late for my date.

Well, I suppose that being so nervous would make you clumsy and awkward. But don't worry. I'm sure your date will wait.

Not Have a Leg to Stand On

Tom maintains that the firm owes him some back wages for having worked overtime. However, he won't have a leg to stand on unless he can prove that he put in all those extra hours. He doesn't stand a chance of getting his money without a strong foundation of facts to support his position.

Get Off Someone's Back

Hey, John. I'm bored. Come on, let's go out and do something.

Sorry, I'm right in the middle of studying for a physics exam. I won't be able to make it tonight.

You've been studying for a long time. Why don't you take a break ? Come on! Let's go ! Forget studying for a while !

Look! Get off my back! I can't go anywhere!

OK. I'll stop bothering you only if you promise to let me know the minute you're finished.

Drive Someone Up a Wall

Wow ! What a great set of drums!

Yeah, they're great, but I can't play on them when my folks are at home. They say I drive them up a wall with all the loud banging.

I get the same thing at home. My folks tell me that I annoy them and get them really angry whenever I turn up the volume on my stereo.

String Someone Along

Liz had high hopes of marrying Dean. When he ran off with another woman, she realized that he was just stringing her along. She had felt very strongly about him and was really hurt to see that he was deceiving her and had no intentions of ever marrying her.

Leave Someone High and Dry

Say, Jill. I thought that John was going to help you do the dishes tonight.

So did I. But he left me high and dry.

Where did he go ?

Well, he got a call from some of his pals at work to go bowling, and he left me alone to do all this work without any help at all!

Spill the Beans

Did you know that Harry was going to take Kathy on a Caribbean cruise ?

Yes, I did. He was planning on surprising her with the tickets fro their anniversary, but someone spilled the beans.

What a shame ! That was supposed to have been a surprise.

Yes, it's too bad that someone told her about the trip beforehand and ruined Harry's surprise.

That's OK. Her enthusiasm was not dampened in the least!

Bite the Dust

Andy did exceptionally well in all of the track events, but he bit the dust in the high jump competition. Much to the disappointment of his fans, he went down in defeat, losing to a competitor from the visiting team.

Bend Over Backwards

When Joan first started teaching she was afraid that she would have a lot of trouble getting used to the kids and to the faculty. Her fears turned out to be unfounded, since everybody bent over backwards to help her. Everyone tried very hard to help her feel comfortable and adjust to the school.

Cough Up

Say, Greg. Did you finally get that computer that you wanted so much ?

Not yet. I needed to raise a couple of hundred dollars more.

Is it going to take you a while to raise the money?

It would have taken me forever, but dad said he'd cough up the money I need since I'm going to be using the computer for my school work.

Maybe it was difficult for your dad to give you the money but then, he knows that it's for a good cause.

Jump the Gun

Denise was planning on telling her grandparents that the doctor said she was going to have twins, but when her dad found out he jumped the gun and told them before Denise could say a word. He was so excited that he became hasty and revealed the news before Denise had a chance to tell them.

Scratch Someone's Back

Hey, Bea. I need some help stacking these boxes. Would you please give me a hand?

OK. And I need some help tidying up the house. How about your helping me out after that ?

OK. If you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.

I know you don't like doing housework, but I'll help you with the boxes if you promise to return the favor.

No problem. I'll even do the windows.

Turn Someone Off

How was your date with Marty last night ?

Well, it started of OK, but he really turned me off when we went for a snack after the movies.

Did he say or do something to annoy you?

Frankly, he disgusted me when he tried to talk with his mouth full.

I don't blame you . That would have really bothered me too.

Kick the Bucket

It's been said that the old man knew of a buried treasure, but he kicked the bucket before telling anyone where it was. If the treasure exists, the old man unfortunately took the secret of its location with him when he died.

Wet Blanket

James was not invited to go on the outing with the rest of the group because he's such a wet blanket. On many previous occasions he has kept others from enjoying themselves by his pessimism and lack of enthusiasm. It's understandable that no one wants him around.

Up One's Sleeve

All right, Sara. We know that you're planning something big for Jean's birthday. Mind telling us just what you have up your sleeve ?

I wanted to make his birthday a very special event.

Jean has a sister living in France, and I sent her an airplane ticket so that she could be here for his birthday.

Boy! That is something special. We kind of guessed that you had some concealed plan and were waiting for the right time to reveal it.

Well, I didn't want to say anything until I was sure she could come.

Knock Someone's Socks Off

Hi, John. What's new ?

Oh, nothing too much with me, but you ought to see Fredo's new car. It'll knock your socks off!

So, he finally got that Italian sports car he's been dreaming about.

He sure did. When you see all the custom features that it has, you'll get so enthused and excited you won't know what to do.

Boy, I can hardly wait to go for a ride in it.

Lose One's Shirt

I happened to bump into Dole at lunch yesterday afternoon.

What's new with Dole these days ?

He wasn't doing so well. For one thing, he told me he lost his shirt at the races.

Dole has always liked to bet on the horses. I'm not surprised that he lost a great deal of money.

Yeah. At this rate he'll never have a penny to his name.


Have you seen Joe's new car yet ?

Yeah. It looks good, but she's had nothing but problems with it.

That's too bad. It sounds like she got a real lemon.

She sure did. No sooner did she drive it home from the dealer's than it proved defective and started breaking down.

Out of the Woods

Although Eric was well on his way to recovering from his bout with pneumonia, he was still not out of the woods. The doctors told him that he would have to take it easy and avoid exposure to cold, since he was not out of danger and difficulty yet.

Eating Someone

Hey, Alice. What's been eating you lately ? Don't you realize how rude and irritable you've become?

I know. I'm really sorry for the way I've been acting.

Well, why don't you tell me what has been bothering and upsetting you and maybe we can work your problem out together.

I'll admit that it would help to talk to someone about it.

On the Line

Lately Tom's been more conscientious about the accuracy and quality of his work with the company. He was warned that his job was on the line because of his lack of concern for his duties. When Tom was alerted that he was in danger of losing his job, he began to take his obligations with the company more seriously.

Feel Like a Million Dollars

I bumped into Nick at the salon yesterday. He looked great, but I noticed that he had a slight limp when he walked.

I guess you didn't know that he had an operation on his knee.

No, I didn't. How's he feeling ?

He says he's feeling like a million dollars now. Apparently the pain in his knee is all gone.

It's good that he's feeling so wonderful. It must be a refreshing change not having to put up with all that discomfort.

Hang On

During the depression years the Smiths had a great deal of trouble with their business, but somehow or other they were able to hang on. Although they almost lost their store, they managed to persevere until things got better.

Make Ends Meet

It's almost impossible trying to keep up with the high cost of living.

It's true. Things are so expensive nowadays that it's very difficult to make ends meet.

You know, even with Lucie's salary, our combined income is hardly enough to pay all the bills.

Money talks

We've been waiting for three months to get delivery on our car, and people who put in their order after us have already gotten theirs.

Well, money talks. Why don't you try giving the dealer a little something extra to move things along ?

I know full well that money has the power to influence people, but I refuse to pay extra for a service that is owed to me as a client.

If you want to have your car maybe you'd better reconsider.

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

Marc, the lines for the rock festival are going to be miles long! If you expect to get tickets for you and Mary, remember that old saying. " The early bird catches the worm "

I guess you're right. Mary is looking forward to the concert, and I'd hate to disappoint her. I'll get up real early to get a place at the head of the line.

That way I'll get the tickets I want, for sure!


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