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Online peer-reviewed Journal for Teachers

English for Specific Purposes World (ESP World)

English for Specific Purposes World

ISSN 1682-3257

English for Specific Purposes World (ESP World) Home    Information    Contents    ESP Encyclopaedia    Resources    Contacts

5. Common idioms

Idioms are fixed expressions with meanings that are usually not obvious.

To feel under the weather = to feel unwell

To be over the moon = be delighted about something

To be in the red = no money in bank balance

A pain in the neck = a nuisance / difficult person

To bark up the wrong tree = be mistaken

A shot in the dark = a wild guess

To take the bull by the horns = act positively to face the problem

To sweep under the carpet = ignore

To run errands = do a number of small jobs of delivery

Fool’s paradise = unreal world

To be at odds with somebody = to disagree or oppose something

Fair play = honest behaviour

Down and out = a loser, failure

To hit the nail on the head = describe accurately

A cold fish = distant, unfriendly

 Round the bend = crazy, mad

On cloud nine = extremely pleased

Out of this world = superb / outstanding

A dog’s life = hard to survive

Small talk = social talk, nothing serious

Talk shop = talk about work

Make up your mind = make a decision

Go ahead = do it

To be up to you = you must make a decision

Never mind = it’s not important


Example. You have an off day. It means you are very tired and not feeling healthy.  Answer. You feel under the weather.

Choose the right idiom.

  1. You say ____________ to comfort an unhappy or disappointed person.
  2. ________ is appropriate when you want to encourage somebody to do something.
  3. It’s the kind of light, pleasant conversation on unimportant things: __________.
  4. If you are on _________, you are extremely happy.
  5. An unfriendly person can be referred to as _____________.
  6. Your bank account is _______ if you owe the bank money.
  7. If a person has the wrong idea about something, he ____________.
  8. Small jobs of cleaning shoes, serving the dishes, etc. mean _______________.
  9. If you are delighted about something, you say that you are ___________.
  10.  If you find that a person or thing annoying, you call them ____________.
  11. Someone who is __________may be homeless and without an income.
  12. People lead __________ if they work hard to survive.
  13. When you make a decision it means you _______________.
  14. She identified the situation precisely, i.e. she __________________.
  15. Something that is marvellous or excellent may be called ______________.
  16. People ___________ when they discuss their work being away from the workplace.
  17. If you ignore the problem or hide it from others, you _______________.
  18. You _______________ when you make a determined decision to do something.
  19. _______________ is a wild guess which may or may not prove to be right.
  20. You are living in _____________ if you are enjoying life ignoring the inevitable consequences.
  21. ____________ consists of honest behaviour between people who compete with each other.
  22. If you say ‘____________’ to someone, you mean they must make a decision.
  23. Someone is __________ if they are mad.
  24. You are ___________ someone when you are in disagreement with them.

Answer keys

Galina Kavaliauskienė
Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania



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