- should do somethingI`d better go now or I`ll be
late for class.
hair stand on end
- become frightened or afraid of somethingMy hair
stood on end when I saw the aftermath of the automobile accident.
hale and hearty
- in very good health, well and strongMy uncle is a
hale and hearty fellow who never gets sick.
- foolishI didn`t really like his half-baked idea
about the new delivery system.
half the battle
- a large part of the work Sending the letters out
will be half the battle. We can finish the rest of the work next week.
- remove, work out by discussion and debateThe union
and managers were able to hammer out an agreement before midnight last night.
- arrange to give something to someone after your
deathMy grandmother handed down her silver jewellery to my mother.
- give to someone, hand to someoneI went to the
company early to hand in my job application.
hand it to (someone)
- give credit or praise to someoneYou have to hand it
to him - he worked hard and was very successful with his business.
handle with kid gloves
- be very careful handling someone or somethingHe is
very sensitive so you have to handle him with kid gloves when you speak to him.
- something given away after another person doesn`t need it
(especially clothing)She was very poor when she was a child and
always wore hand-me-down clothing.
- give things of the same kind to several peopleThe
teacher decided not to hand out the tests until everyone in the class stopped
- a gift - usually from the governmentThe government
stopped giving hand-outs to the university students as they said they had no
- sheet of paper given to students or people who attend a
meeting etc.Everyone at the meeting was given a hand-out on how to
save and invest money.
- give control or possession to someone, give something to
another personThe criminals were forced to hand over the stolen money
to the police.
hand over fist
- rapidlyHis new company is making money hand over
(one`s) hands are tied
- unable to helpI`m sorry that I can`t help you with
the job but my hands are tied at the moment.
- easy, unopposedThey won the game hands down over
the other team.
- leave alone, don`t interfereThe government decided
to take a hands-off approach to the teachers during the strike.
hand something to someone on a silver
- give a person something that has not been earnedHe
was handed a great job on a silver platter and never had to make any effort at
hand to mouth
- having only enough money for basic livingHe was
living a hand to mouth existence until he was finally able to find a job.
handwriting on the wall
- a sign that something bad will happenThe
handwriting is on the wall. Business conditions are bad so probably nobody will
get a pay raise this year.
- can easily fix thingsHe is very handy around the
house and is always fixing or building something.
- pass time or stay someplace without any real purpose or
aimWe decided to stay home and hang around on Sunday rather than go
out to the game.
- stay some distance behind or away, hesitate or be unwilling to
do somethingHe lacks self-confidence and always hangs back when his
boss asks for volunteers.
hang by a thread
- be in doubt, depend on a very small thingThe
outcome of the election hung by a thread until the last two or three hours.
hang in the balance
- have two equally possible results, be
uncertainAfter the opposition party won the election whether or not
the new highway will be built hangs in the balance.
hang in (there)
- persevere, don`t give upYou should hang in there
and don`t quit your job just because you don`t like the supervisor.
- a rather old expression used to express annoyance or
disappointment "Hang it", he said when he hit his finger with the
- continueAlthough business was very bad he decided
to hang on and fight to keep his business going.
- wait, continue listening on the telephoneHang on
for a minute while I go and get some paper and a pen.
hang one on
- get very drunkHe really hung one on last night
after he heard about his promotion.
hang on to
- hold tightly, keep firmlyPlease hang on to your
hats or the strong wind will blow them off.
- spend one`s time idly or lounging about, spend time with
someone or a group of peopleRecently his brother has been hanging out
with a group of people who are not a good influence on him.
hang out one`s shingle
- notify the public of the opening of an office - especially a
doctor`s or lawyer`s officeHe has decided to hang out his own shingle
now that he has graduated from law school.
- place on a hook, peg or hangarEveryone was forced
to hang up their jackets before they entered the room.
- place a telephone receiver back on the telephone and break the
connectionAfter he hung up the telephone he left to go to work.
- a delay in some processThere was a hang-up in the
construction of the office tower because of the fire.
- an inhibition, a neurotic reaction to some life
situationShe has a serious hang-up about the dark and is afraid to go
out alone at night.
- a time in bars or restaurants when drinks are served at a
discountWe stopped at the restaurant during happy hour and had a
couple of drinks.
hard and fast rule
- rules that cannot be altered to fit special
casesThere is no hard and fast rule that says you can`t use a
cellular phone in the train.
hard as nails
- physically very fit and strong, rough, sternHe is
as hard as nails and is not a good person to have an argument with.
- anger or bitternessI don`t have any hard feelings
toward him even though he fired me.
- not weak or soft, stubborn - especially in a fight, contest or
negotiationsThe company had a hard-nosed attitude while bargaining
with the union.
hard nut to crack
- a person or thing not easily understood or
influencedHe is a hard nut to crack and is not close to many people.
hard on (someone/something)
- treat something/someone roughlyHis son is very hard
- burdened with urgent businessI am a little hard
pressed for time. Can we meet later?
- selling something very aggressively and with great
eagernessI didn`t like their hard sell attitude at the car dealership
so I went to another dealer.
- short of moneyI am hard up for money at the moment
so I can`t go to the movie.
- talk repeatedly and tediously about somethingHe has
been harping on his lack of money for a few months now.
- bothersomeIt is a real hassle to have to report to
him two times a day.
- a politician etc. whose job it is to say negative things about
the opposition, a person in a company who must fire extra workers or cut other
expenses etc.He is acting as a hatchet man for the leader but I don`t
think that he really believes what he is saying.
hate one`s guts
- feel very strong dislike for someoneI absolutely
hate her guts after she caused me so many problems at my company.
have a ball
- have a good timeShe had a ball at the party last
have a crush on
- be attracted to someoneHer sister has had a crush
on him for a long time.
have a fit
- become upsetShe had a fit when she saw what her son
did to the car.
have a go at
- try something especially after others have tried
itI decided to have a go at applying for the job after my boss
have a hand in
- be partly responsible for somethingI think that she
had a hand in getting her friend fired from her job.
have a head on one`s shoulders
- be smart or sensibleThat new salesman really has a
head on his shoulders.
have an edge on
- have an advantage (over someone)Their team has an
edge on the race to win the high school football championship.
have an eye for
- have good taste in something, be able to judge
correctlyShe has an eye for nice furniture and her apartment is
(not) have anything to do with someone
- (not) want to be a friend of or work or have business with
someoneMy father will not have anything to do with the salesman
because he sold him the faulty car.
have a screw loose
- act in a strange way, be foolishHe is a really
strange person. I think that he has a screw loose somewhere.
have a time
- have trouble, have a hard timeShe really had a time
last night when her car stopped working completely
have a time
- have a good time, have funWe really had a time at
the party last night.
have a way with
- be able to lead, persuade or influence othersThe
little girl really has a way with horses. They are very gentle when she is
have a word with
- converse brieflyI will have a word with him before
he goes home tonight.
have been around
- have been to many places and done many things, be
experiencedMy brother has really been around and has been overseas
have dibs on
- demand a share of something or be in line to use
somethingI have dibs on the computer and would like to use it as soon
have egg on one`s face
- be embarrassedHe really has egg on his face after
finding out about his mistake.
have eyes only for
- give all one`s attention to, be interested only
inShe has eyes only for her boyfriend.
have half a mind
- feel tempted or inclined to do somethingI have half
a mind to go and offer my resignation to the president.
have had it (with someone or something)
- can`t tolerate anymoreI have really had it with her
have in mind
- intend, planWhat do you have in mind for your
- hear or get news, understandI have it that the new
president will be coming to see us next week.
- claim, sayRumor has it that three of the
supervisors will be leaving next week.
- allow (usually used with will or would)We wanted to
have a party at our office next month but our boss won`t have it.
- get or find the answerI think I finally have it.
The reason she is leaving is because she is going to have a baby.
have it both ways
- do two things, have both thingsYou can`t have it
both ways. You must choose one or the other.
have it coming
- deserve a punishmentHe really has it coming to him
after causing the problems in the company.
have it in for someone
- show ill will or dislike a personI have been having
problems at work recently because I think that the new supervisor has it in for
have it made
- be successful, have everythingHe really has it made
with his new job.
have it out with someone
- settle or discuss something with someone angrilyI
had it out with her yesterday over the problem with the money.
- be wearing somethingWhat did she have on when you
last saw her?
have one`s ass in a sling
- be in an uncomfortable predicament, be at a
disadvantageHe really has his ass in a sling now that he has quit his
job and can`t find another one.
have one`s eye on
- have a wish for something, have as an aim, look or think about
somethingI want to buy a nice present for my girlfriend so I have my
eye on a nice dress that I saw at the department store last week.
have one`s feet on the ground
- be practical or sensibleThe new sales manager
really has his feet on the ground.
have one`s heart set on something
- want something very muchThe child has his heart set
on getting a new bicycle for his birthday.
- invite someone to your houseWe will have you over
when we settle into our new house.
have rocks in one`s head
- be stupid, not have good judgementShe really has
rocks in her head. She should never have bought that old car.
have (something) going for one
- have ability, talent or good looksShe has a lot
going for her and I am sure that she will get the new job.
have something on someone
- have information or proof that someone did sometning
wrongI think that the police have something on him and that is why he
wants to quit his job.
have something on the ball
- be smart, clever, skilledShe really has a lot on
the ball. She should do well in whatever she chooses to do.
have something up one`s sleeve
- something kept secretly ready for the right timeI`m
not too worried about the meeting as I have something up my sleeve if they try
to cause any more problems.
have sticky fingers
- be a thiefHe was fired because of his sticky
fingers at the cash register.
have the last laugh
- make someone seem foolish for having laughed at you
firstI had the last laugh when I was able to get home early while
everyone else had to stay overnight at the airport because of the storm.
have (got) to
- obliged or forced to, mustI have to leave at 4
o`clock or I will be late for my appointment.
have to do with
- be about or on the subject or connected with
somethingThe book has something to do with cooking but I am not sure
if you will like it.
have two strikes against one
- have things working against one, be in a difficult
situationHe already has two strikes against him and it will be very
difficult for him to get the job.
- broken or confusedThe plan went haywire when their
directions became confused.
head above water
- out of difficulty, clear of troubleAlthough he
works very hard he is not able to keep his head above water financially.
- search for qualified individuals to fill certain
positionsThe head-hunting company has phoned me several times about
getting a new job.
head in the clouds
- daydreamingHe always has his head in the clouds and
can never answer a question easily.
- get in front of and stop, turn backIn the western
movie the soldiers went to head off the gang at the mountain pass.
- block, stop, preventThey were able to head off a
strike by the union at the last minute.
- front end to front end, with the front facingThere
was a serious head-on crash on the highway last night.
- in a way that is exactly opposite, opposed to someone in an
argument or fightThey decided to deal with their opponents in a
head-on manner in order to win the battle.
- leave, start outIt is time that we head out for the
movie now or we will be late.
head over heels
- upside down, head firstHe fell head over heels when
his bicycle hit the wall.
head over heels
- completely, deeplyShe fell head over heels in love
with the guy that she met at the party.
- psychiatristThe criminal had to go and see a head
shrinker after the judge sentenced him to life in prison.
- to leave or start something before othersThey left
early in order to get a head start on the trip.
- be at the head of (a group), a leaderThe president
headed up a group of people going overseas to promote trade.
- receive a letter/phone call/news from someoneI
haven`t heard from my university roommate for over one year.
heart goes out to someone
- one feels sympathy for someoneMy heart went out to
the victims of the railway accident.
heart is in the right place
- be kindhearted, sympathetic, have good intentionsHe
makes some serious mistakes sometimes but his heart is in the right place.
heart of gold
- a kind, generous or forgiving personalityMy
grandmother has a heart of gold and everyone loves her.
heart of stone
- someone with a nature with no pityShe has a heart
of stone and is not at all interested in how other people feel.
heart skip a beat
- be startled or excited from surprise, joy or
frightMy heart skipped a beat when the truck almost hit us last
heart stands still
- be very frightened or worriedMy heart stood still
when I heard the story about the little boy and the fire.
- honest or intimateThey had a heart-to-heart talk
before they decided to get married.
- a feeling of sadness or unhappinessHe seems to have
a heavy heart now that his wife has died.
- keep from getting out or moving freely, block inMy
car was hedged in by the other cars and I was unable to move it this morning.
hell and high water
- troubles or difficulties of any kindThey went
through hell and high water in order to get the food to the flood victims.
- a short-tempered, nagging or crabby personShe is
hell-on-wheels in the morning so you should be careful of her.
- in a confusing group, in disorderWhen we arrived at
work we found all of the files scattered helter-skelter over the floor.
hem and haw
- avoid giving a clear answer, be evasive in speechHe
hemmed and hawed when I asked him if he knew where the missing money was.
here and now
- immediatelyI want you to do that work right here
here and there
- in various places, go to various placesWe went here
and there during our holidays.
- ready to begin while hoping for the bestWell, here
goes. I am going to go and ask her for a date right now.
here goes nothing
- ready to begin - but it will be a waste of time and will
probably failHere goes nothing. I have already asked him to lend me
some money and he always says no but I`ll try again.
hide (bury) one`s head in the sand
- keep from knowing something dangerous or
unpleasantHe hates to talk about important matters and hides his head
in the sand when I try to talk to him.
high and dry
- stranded, out of the current of eventsThey left him
high and dry when they moved the company to Europe.
high and low
- every placeWe looked high and low for her watch but
we couldn`t find it.
high and mighty
- arrogantHe has a high and mighty attitude to all of
- top speed, full activityThe preparations for his
visit have been going in high gear all week.
- bossy, dictatorial, depending on force rather than what is
rightMy supervisor always takes a high-handed approach when dealing
with her employees.
(the) high life
- a luxurious existenceThey have been living the high
life since they moved to Las Vegas.
- the ocean (away from the coast)The crew of the ship
spent three months on the high seas before going to shore for a visit.
(be in) high spirits
- have energy, be cheerfulThey are in high spirits
since their home team won the tournament.
- the time before something should already have been
doneIt is high time that we spent some time cleaning up our house.
- an extremely high price for somethingThe price that
we had to pay for the theater tickets was highway robbery.
- accept a job, take employmentHe decided to hire
himself out as a dancer while he was going to school.
- rent to someoneWe rented out our boat last summer
because we were too busy to use it.
hit and miss
- unplanned, uncontrolled, aimless, carelessWe are
looking for a new apartment but it seems to be hit and miss whether we can find
a good one.
- an accident where the driver of the car drives away without
leaving his addressMy sister was involved in a hit-and-run accident
last Sunday afternoon.
- striking suddenly and leaving quicklyThe army made
a hit-and-run attack on the enemy soldiers.
- be at the very lowest, not be able to go any
lowerThe economy hit bottom last year but is finally starting to
hitch one`s wagon to a star
- aim high, follow a great ambition or purposeHe
wants to hitch his wagon to a star and pursue his dreams of becoming an actor.
hither and thither
- in one direction and then in anotherHe looked
hither and thither when he discovered that he had lost his wallet.
hit it off with someone
- get along well with someoneWe really hit it off at
- find what you want or think of something by
chanceWe hit upon the idea of going to the lake for our holiday after
our airline reservations were cancelled.
- a list of songs arranged in order of popularityWe
listened to all the songs on the hit parade last night.
hit someone between the eyes
- make a strong impression on someone, surprise
greatlyHer incredible performance really hit me between the eyes.
hit the books
- study or prepare for classHe stayed home all
weekend and hit the books.
hit the bottle
- drink alcohol (usually a negative meaning)She
started to hit the bottle soon after her divorce.
hit the bull`s-eye
- go to the most important part of a matter, reach the main
questionShe hit the bull`s-eye when she suggested that decreasing
costs was more important than increasing sales.
hit the ceiling
- get angryHis wife is going to hit the ceiling when
she sees the bill for the car repair.
hit the deck
- get up from bed, start workingLet`s hit the deck
and get this work done before supper.
hit the dirt
- fall on the ground and take cover under gunfireWe
were told to hit the dirt during the bank robbery.
hit the hay
- go to bedI decided to hit the hay early last night
because I was very tired.
hit the high spots
- consider or mention only the more important parts of
somethingHe only had time to hit the high spots in his report but
still it was very interesting.
hit the jackpot
- be very lucky or successfulShe hit the jackpot when
she went to Las Vegas last weekend.
hit the nail on the head
- make a correct guess or analysisHe really hit the
nail on the head when he wrote the report about the bank`s problems.
hit the road
- leave - usually in a carWe should hit the road
early tomorrow morning if we want to reach the seashore before evening.
hit the roof
- become very angry, go into a rageHe hit the roof
when he found out that his son had wrecked the family car.
hit the sack
- go to bedI`m a little bit tired so I think that I
will hit the sack now.
hit the sauce
- drink alcohol - usually heavily and regularlyHe has
been hitting the sauce now for a couple of months although he says that he
hit the spot
- refresh or satisfyDrinking the lemonade after the
baseball game really hit the spot.
hold a candle to
- be in the same class or level with (used with a negative
usually), can be compared withAs far as good service goes that
restaurant can`t hold a candle to the one that I usually go to.
hold a grudge
- not forgive someone for somethingHe has been
holding a grudge against the company manager for a number of years.
hold all the trump cards
- have the best chance of winning, have full
controlIt will be difficult to do well in the negotiations with him
as he holds all the trump cards.
- stay back or away, show unwillingness, prevent someone from
doing somethingHe always holds back during meetings and never says
- act like a king or queen among their subjectsHe
always acts like he is holding court among his subjects when I see him in his
- keep in obedience, keep control ofThe government
was able to hold down the people for many years but finally they revolted and
got rid of the government.
hold down a job
- keep a jobHe has a serious drinking problem and is
unable to hold down a job.
- offer, proposeThe company held forth a promise to
give all of the employees an extra bonus in the summer.
- speak in public, talk aboutHe was holding forth
about taxes again last night when I saw him in his office.
- continue, endure, lastThe demand for air
conditioners held good during July but decreased rapidly in August.
- delay, not beginThe concert will be held off until
- keep away by forceThe man was able to hold off the
police for several hours before he was arrested.
- wait a minute, stop, wait and not hang up the
phonePlease hold on for a minute while I go back and lock the window.
hold one`s breath
- stop breathing for a moment when one is excited or
nervousI had to stop and hold my breath while I was waiting for the
announcement of the winning names.
hold one`s fire
- keep back arguments or facts, keep from telling
somethingYou should hold your fire during the meeting and save the
rest of the information until next week.
hold one`s horses
- stop and wait patientlyHold your horses for a
minute while I return to get my wallet.
hold one`s own (in an argument)
- defend one`s positionAlthough her boss is very
aggressive she is always able to hold her own in any dispute with him.
hold one`s peace
- be silent and not speak against something, be
stillPlease try and hold your peace during the meeting as it will be
to our disadvantage if we have a confrontation.
hold one`s tongue
- keep quietHe decided to hold his tongue rather than
give his honest opinion.
hold on to
- continue to hold or keep, hold tightlyHold on to
your bag when you are in the bus or someone may try and steal it.
- reach out, extendShe held out her hand to help her
daughter climb up the stairs.
- someone who refuses to give something up, a
non-conformistHe was the last hold-out in our effort to make sure
that everyone wore a necktie to work.
hold out for something
- refuse to give up, keep resistingThe famous
basketball star is holding out for a large salary increase.
hold out on
- refuse something to a personHe is holding out on me
and wont give me the latest sales figures.
- extend the engagement of, keep longerThe movie was
held over for another week.
hold something back
- keep information or something to or for oneselfHe
is holding back the information about the new computer system.
- not movePlease hold still while I fix your jacket
hold the fort
- cope in an emergency, act as a temporary
substituteHe has been holding the fort at his company while his boss
is on vacation.
hold the line
- not yield to pressure or somethingThe company has
been holding the line on any new salary increases.
hold the reins
- be the most influential personHe has been holding
the reins in his company for many years.
- lift, raiseThe students hold up their hands when
they have a question.
- support, carryThe main beams in the house are
holding up the total weight of the house.
- check, stop, delayThe traffic was held up for over
three hours at the border crossing.
- rob at gunpointThe criminal was able to hold up
three people before he was caught.
- keep up one`s courage or spiritsHer spirits are
holding up quite well even though she does not have a job now.
- remain good, not get worseSales during the first
six months of the year have held up very well compared to last year.
- prove trueHer story held up during the questioning
by the police.
- a robberyHe was involved in a hold-up when he was
in the supermarket last weekend.
- be a sound ideaHis proposal for a new work
scheduling system doesn`t hold water.
hole in the wall
- a small place to live, stay in or work in; small hidden or
inferior placeWe went for a drink at a little hole in the wall near
the university last night.
- acting as if one is better than others in goodness or
character etc.I don`t like him because he always takes a
holier-than-thou attitude toward everyone else.
- used to express strong feelings of astonishment, pleasure or
angerHoly cats he said as he looked out and saw the water rising in
- used to express strong feelings of astonishment, pleasure or
angerHoly cow! There are over one hundred people standing in front of
- used to express strong feelings of astonishment, pleasure or
anger"Holy mackerel," cried the little boy when he saw the new
bicycle he got for his birthday.
- used to express strong feelings of astonishment, pleasure or
angerHoly Moses! It is already noon and I haven`t even started work
- a very disobedient or unruly childThe little boy is
a holy terror and his parents never want to take him anywhere.
honeymoon is over
- the first happy period of friendship and cooperation between
two groups is overThe honeymoon was over for the new President after
about two months.
- a cheap night-club or dance hallWe went to a small
honky-tonk in the small town where we stopped last night.
hook, line and sinker
- without question or doubt, completelyShe fell in
love with her new boyfriend hook, line and sinker.
- connect or fit togetherAs soon as we moved to our
new apartment we had to hook up the phone.
- a connectionThe new hook-up for the computer is not
working very well.
hope against hope
- continue to hope when things look very badThe
rescue team were hoping against hope that the lost hikers would be found alive.
hop to it
- get started, start a job, get goingWe must hop to
it and try to get this job done before dinner.
- high on a drug or on alcoholThe man who tried to
rob the store was hopped up on some kind of drug.
horn in on
- come in without an invitation or welcome,
interfereHe horned in on our conversation although he knows that
nobody likes him.
- play around, join in rough teasingThe children were
horsing around in the school yard when the bell rang for class.
horse of a different color
- something altogether separate and differentWe
should not be talking about that issue now. It is a horse of a different color
- good judgement, wisdom in making decisionsHe has a
lot of good horse sense so you can expect him to make an intelligent decision.
- business agreement arrived at after hard
negotiationsWe had to do a lot of horse trading but we were finally
able to reach an agreement to buy the antique car.
- nonsense, exaggerated talkHe is full of hot air and
you can`t rely on what he usually says.
hot and bothered
- excited and worried, displeasedI don`t know what is
wrong with her but she is hot and bothered about something.
a hot potato
- a situation likely to cause trouble to the person handling
itThe issue of the non-union workers is a real hot potato that we
must deal with.
- an automobile changed so that it can go very fastHe
has always loved cars and was a member of his local hot rod club when he was a
- troubleHe has been in hot water at work since he
took a week off with no excuse.
house of cards
- something badly put together and easily knocked down, a poorly
founded plan/actionThe peace agreement between the two countries was
like a house of cards and fell apart as soon as a minor problem occurred.
- will you have something or will you agree to
somethingHow about some coffee before we go to work?
- what is to be done about somethingWe can`t use her
computer but how about one of the other staff members?
- how do you feel about/think about somethingShe is
not interested in the job but how about one of her friends?
- whyHow come you don`t telephone her if you want to
talk to her so much?
- what did you sayHow`s that? I couldn`t hear you
because the radio was too loud.
hue and cry
- an excited protest or alarm or outcryThey raised a
big hue and cry when they realized that we had failed to notify the bank about
our financial problems.
- something kept secret or hidden, concealedWhat is
the big hush-hush? Everyone seems to be very quiet this morning.
- keep news of something from getting out, prevent people from
knowing about somethingThe government tried to hush up the bad
economic figures but the news media soon discovered the facts.
- be or make quiet, stop talking/crying/making
noiseThe child was told to hush up by her mother when they were in
the department store.
- have an excess of energy, be excitedShe has been
hyped up all morning because she will go to Italy for a holiday next week.
Idiom Quizzes - H