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Thursday, February 7, 2019

English and American Idioms

Give someone or something a wide berth: keep someone or something at a distance
e.g. That dog is very fierce. We’d better give it a wide berth.
e.g. Your Mom is in a foul mood; give her a wide berth.
As plain as day: plain and simple
e.g. The briefing was as plain as day; nobody had to ask any question.

All at sea: confused

e.g. The lawyer was all at sea when he read the two conflicting reports of the incident.
Odd man out: atypical person or thing
e.g. Everybody has a partner, and you are an odd man out because you don’t have one.

Take the bull by the horns: deal with the challenge directly
e.g. This is a very difficult situation, but we must take the bull by the horns.

Accountable for: able to explain why

e.g. You have to be accountable for every decision you are going to make.
Actions speak louder than words: do something about it, not just talking about it
e.g. Show me what you have done! Actions speak louder than words.
Vested interest: a personal stake
e.g. He showed a vested interest in his uncle’s business.


Leave someone holding the bag: leave someone to take all the blame
e.g. The manager was responsible for the bankruptcy, but the assistant manager was left holding the bag.
A little bird told me: somehow I knew
e.g. “How did you know what I did?” “Well, a little bird told me.”

Eat like a horse: eat a lot

e.g. They won’t invite you to dinner next time; just now you ate like a horse.

Above all: most importantly
e.g. Above all, you must have a valid visa if you wish to continue to stay in the United States.

Go for broke: make great effort; risk everything
e.g. To win his re-election, the Mayor would go for broke.

Mind one’s p’s and q’s: pay attention to one’s manners
e.g. When you meet the President, you must mind your p’s and q’s.

Run in the family: a characteristic in all members of a family
e.g. Longevity runs in the family: they all live to a ripe old age.

All at sea: confused
e.g. The lawyer was all at sea when he read the two conflicting reports of the incident.

Act one’s age: behave maturely
e.g. Stop behaving like a teenager! Act your age.
You bet: yes, of course
e.g. “Are you hungry?” “You bet!”

Stephen Lau
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