English Idioms - A

about to do something

- on the point of doing something

She was about to leave when the phone rang.

about time

- something that should have happened earlier

It is about time that you returned that book to me.


- forgetful

My grandfather is very absent-minded and often forgets his key.

according to Hoyle

- strictly by the rules, the usual and correct way to do something

According to Hoyle you are not allowed to enter this room but if nobody is here I think it will be okay.

add up

- seem consistent or reasonable

The things that he said about his boss don`t really add up.

ahead of time

- early

We started the meeting ahead of time so we could go home early.

air one`s dirty laundry (linen) in public

- make public something embarrassing that should be kept secret

The dinner party became uncomfortable when the host began to air his colleagues' dirty laundry in public.

all along

- all the time

I knew all along that he would not get the promotion.

all at once

- suddenly, without warning

All at once the fire alarm rang so we had to leave the building.

all day long

- the whole day

She has been sitting and waiting for the mail to arrive all day long.

all ears

- eager to listen to someone

Okay, I`m all ears, please tell me about the party.

all in all

- in summary, after considering everything

We had a few problems but all in all the meeting was successful.

all of a sudden

- suddenly, without advance warning

All of a sudden it became cloudy and began to rain.

all right

- okay, satisfactory

She said that it would be all right for me to bring my friend to the party.

all the time

- continually

She asks for money all the time but I don`t like to give it to her.

all thumbs

- have difficulty fixing things or working with one`s hands, clumsy

He is all thumbs when it comes to fixing things around the house.

an arm and a leg

- (cost) a large amount of money

His new car must have cost him an arm and a leg.

apple of one`s eye

- one`s favorite

His youngest daughter is the apple of his eye.

as a rule

- usually, as a habit

As a rule I usually get up at 7:00 AM every morning.

as far as

- to the extent or degree that

As far as I know he will be here in a few minutes.

ask for trouble

- behave in a way that trouble is likely

He is asking for trouble if he misses another class.

asleep at the switch

- not alert to an opportunity

I think he was asleep at the switch. He didn`t even know that the job was available so he never applied for it.

as long as

- provided that, on condition that

As long as you promise to be careful you can borrow my car.

as the crow flies

- by the most direct way, along a straight line between two places

As the crow flies it is about 6 kilometers between my house and my company.

as usual

- most of the time, as is the custom

As usual, she forgot to bring her book to class.

as well as

- in addition to

Please bring your swimming suit as well as your towel.

as yet

- until now, up to the present

As yet, she has not told me about her plans to leave the company.

at cross purposes

- have opposite ways to do something, opposing goals

They are at cross purposes and are always arguing about what to do.

at fault

- be responsible or to blame for something

The truck driver was at fault in the terrible accident.

at first

- at the beginning

At first she didn`t want to go to a movie but later she changed her mind.

at first blush

- when first seen, without careful study

At first blush he seemed like a good worker but later we had many problems with him.

at heart

- basically, fundamentally

She is a very nice person at heart although many people dislike her.

at home

- in one`s house

I`m sorry but I left my money at home. Can you lend me some money?

at last

- finally, after a long time

I was waiting all morning for her call but at last it came.

at loggerheads

- having a quarrel, opposing each other

We have been at loggerheads over their plans to build a new office complex.

at odds

- in disagreement

He has been at odds with his boss over the new sales territory.

at someone`s beck and call

- always ready to serve somebody

His eldest daughter is always at his beck and call when he spends an evening at home.

at the end of one`s rope

- at the limit of one`s ability to cope

I am at the end of my rope about what to do about my current situation at work.

attend to someone

- take care or deal with someone

The doctor attended to the other patient before he got to my mother.

Idiom Quizzes - A

    Choose an idiom at the bottom to replace the expression in the brackets below:

  1. He is (not very good) when he tries to repair something in his house.

    (a) all thumbs (b) about time (c) all ears (d) an arm and a leg

  2. He was (all ready) to leave the house when his friend came over.

    (a) as a rule (b) about (c) at heart (d) absent-minded

  3. The teacher said the little boy was (her favorite).

    (a) the apple of her eye (b) an arm and a leg (c) as well as (d) at odds

  4. (Without warning) it began to rain.

    (a) at his beck and call (b) all of a sudden (c) at heart (d) at fault

  5. That car must have cost him (an incredibly large amount of money).

    (a) at home (b) at odds (c) the apple of his eye (d) an arm and a leg

  6. She is always (available) when he wants her.

    (a) as a rule (b) at heart (c) all thumbs (d) at his beck and call

  7. Okay I`m (listening). Please continue with your story.

    (a) all ears (b) all thumbs (c) as a rule (d) at heart

  8. I don`t think that he is (to blame) for breaking the computer.

    (a) at last (b) at fault (c) all thumbs (d) absent-minded

  9. He is (very forgetful) and is always losing his glasses.

    (a) absent-minded (b) all thumbs (c) all ears (d) as a rule

  10. He is always (fighting) with his boss about something.

    (a) as usual (b) at last (c) at odds (d) at heart

  11. (Usually) I get up and go jogging before breakfast every Sunday.

    (a) at heart (b) all in all (c) all of a sudden (d) as a rule