Commonly Used Cliches in the USA

Initial Post 10/19/22

First off, we hear the term “cliché” a lot, but what is it exactly?  Although there are varying definitions and explanations of the word “cliché”, it is most popularly summed up as follows: a saying that has been overused to the point that it has lost its originally intended meaning.  Personally, this isn’t my preferred definition, as the word “overused” has negative connotations.  Alternatively, I think of many cliches as well-established metaphors, since they serve as figures of speech or serve as images to convey a common thought or idea.  Some don’t like them because they lack in original thought; however, others, like myself, do like them because they are instrumental in describing a very new/complex/confusing/abstract thought/idea in a very relatable, familiar, and understandable way.  Hence, as a writer, I tend to use them but am careful to not overuse them, in order to avoid the aforementioned pitfalls.

Regardless of what we choose to call them and how much we choose to use them, clichés are very much an integral part of the English language, at least as spoken and written here in the USA.  Although many of us native English speakers often invoke them instinctively, cliches can be most understandably confusing to someone who is new to the English language, as some are more intuitive (easy to figure out) than others.

Thus, I’d like to dedicate this page to identify and explain some of the most commonly-used cliches.  Because there are so many of them, and new ones are constantly arising, this will be a living and breathing document, as I will be adding lots of new ones for a while. 

So, please be patient if you don’t yet see the one(s) you are trying to look up, and please do check in for updates.  And please feel free to use the comments section to request one that isn’t on the current list, and I’ll be sure to include it in my next revision.

Below the title, I will show the date of the current release plus that of the prior update, so you’ll know whether or not any listing you might have copied/downloaded is current. Meanwhile, following is my initial listing of over 350.  They are grouped by category, and you can also search on key words, entire phrase, etc.  Again, more to come soon.

Animal and Insect Images

  1. Every dog has its day = We will all will achieve success/have good luck at some point in our lives.  (I finally sealed the deal with a client, so it looks like every dog has its day.)
  2. Beating a dead horse = Wasting energy/money/resources on something that is a lost cause or otherwise cannot be changed.  (I tried to convince my spouse that we should get a larger house, but I gave up when I realized I was beating a dead horse.)
  3. I wish I was a fly on the wall = I wish I could hear (or have heard) a particular conversation without being noticed.  (I wish I was a fly on the wall during the board of directors meeting on who will be our next CEO.)
  4. Tiger by the tail = A situation that has suddenly become too difficult to deal with. (The client tripled the work scope and price, so now we have the tiger by the tail.
  5. A bird in hand is worth more than two in the bushes = It’s much better to have something you are seeking materialize or in your physical possession versus something you are attempting to get but haven’t received.  (If you receive a good offer on the house you are trying to sell, accept it, even though you have more lookers, as a bird in hand is worth more than two in the bushes.)
  6. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch = Don’t count on a positive outcome until it actually happens, especially in a speculative situation.  I believe the client will accept our offer, but until they do, I won’t count my chickens before they hatch.
  7. You attract more flies with honey than with vinegar = You will win more people over and get more support from them if you are kind/helpful to them versus being unfriendly and brash.  (You will get more support from “Bob” if you ask him politely, as we attract more flies with vinegar than with vinegar.)
  8. Red herring = Something, such as a clue, which is intended to be misleading or distracting.  (We thought our proposal was rejected because it was too expensive, but this proved to be a red herring as our customer later told us they were looking for something much different.)
  9. A fish out of water = Someone who feels uncomfortable because they are in an unfamiliar situation or around people who are different.  (It would be unfair to ask Accountant Bob to solve an engineering problem, as he would be a fish out of water.)
  10. A fly in the ointment = A person or thing that is spoiling/ruining an otherwise good situation.  (Our economy fared well during the pandemic, but inflation has proven to be a fly in the ointment in our recovery.)
  11. A frog in my throat = having difficulty speaking due to phlegm in your throat.  Excuse me, I can’t speak right now because I have frog in my throat.
  12. A hair of the dog that bit you = an alcoholic beverage that you drink a small amount of to cure a hangover that was caused by drinking too much of it earlier
  13. A horse of a different color = A thing, issue, or outcome than what it’s being compared with (Here’s what we’ll do when it rains later today; however, if it doesn’t rain, then that’s a horse of a different color.)
  14. Nest egg = Savings/investment account, usually for retirement funding.  (Inflation is eroding my nest egg!)
  15. A pig in a poke = something that is bought sight unseen (not inspected for quality or authenticity)
  16. A white elephant = something that is useless or undesirable, especially if it’s expensive or it takes a lot to maintain.  (That new hybrid car costs a lot, but I think it’s just a white elephant.)
  17. Albatross = an inescapable burden that impedes or prevents action or progress.  (Having to take care of my in-laws has proven to be my biggest albatross.)
  18. Ants in the pants/antsy = to be anxious, fidgety, or impatient.  (This is a great idea, and I’m getting antsy to try it out.)
  19. A man or a mouse = whether someone is courageous or a coward.  (The stock market is down, and many people are afraid to buy, but that’s usually a great time to buy.  Will you be a man or a mouse?)
  20. Busy as a bee/busy as a one-armed paper hanger = someone moving around very quickly performing one or more tasks.  (We just decided to travel from LA to NYC tomorrow morning, so I’m busy as a bee packing and preparing everything.)
  21. As the crow flies = point-to-point distance versus driving distance (It’s a 3-mile drive but, because the roads are so windy, it’s only 1 mile as the crow flies.)
  22. Ass backwards = something that is ridiculously disordered/chaotic or out-of-sequence/in reverse order.  (Cutting oil/natural gas production when the world needs it most is ass backwards compared to what we should be doing.
  23. Bats in the belfry = refers to being crazy or eccentric.  (Bob’s a nice guy, but he does seem to have bats in his belfry.)
  24. Stir up a hornets’ nest = to make trouble or cause a commotion in a particular situation (The team almost reached consensus, but “Bob” pointed out some things that stirred up the hornet’s nest.)
  25. The early bird gets the worm = the one who arrives or starts first stands the greatest chance of success.
  26. Best-laid plans of mice and men = No matter well how well a project is planned, something might still go wrong with it.
  27. When the cat’s away, the mice will play = stating that people will behave badly or as they choose when a particular authority is not present.
  28. The fox looking over the chicken coop = when someone who is not to be trusted is placed in charge of something or asked to protect it. (Having a kleptomaniac guard the jewelry store overnight is like having the fox look over the chicken coop.)
  29. Big fish in a small pond/small fish in a big pond = a person in a high position in a small organization /a person in a lower position in a large organization.  (He may have earned the CEO title, but remember, he’s just a big fish in a small pond.)
  30. Birds of a feather flock together = people with the same interests, personality, character, etc. tend to gravitate toward each other (converse: opposites attract)
  31. Bird in a gilded cage = to live in luxury but without freedom.  (Being a high-profile newscaster is great, but you’re also a bird in a gilded cage.)
  32. A canary in a coal mine = someone/something that is an early warning of danger because it/they are the first to be adversely affected by it.  (Our organization is small, and we cannot withstand big, sudden change to corporate, as we’re a canary in a coal mine.)
  33. Black sheep of the family = someone who the family believes is worthless and makes bad decisions.  (Bob’s older siblings are doctors, lawyers, and engineers, but Bob can’t seem to hold a job.  I guess he’s the black sheep of their family.)
  34. Blind as a bat = having very poor vision.  (Wait, let me put on my reader’s first, as I’m blind as a bat without them.)
  35. Raining cats and dogs = a torrential downpour or extremely heavy rain.  (Be sure to grab an umbrella before you leave, because it’s raining cats and dogs out there.)
  36. Butterflies in his stomach = feeling very nervous or frightened about something, often about something big/challenging that you are about to do  (I have butterflies in my stomach because I’m briefing our client’s CEO this afternoon.
  37. There are more fish in the sea = There are more people out there who are likely to be a better fit for what you’re looking for.  This can apply to love interest, job candidates, etc.  (Our first date didn’t go well at all, but there are more fish in the sea.)
  38. Open up a can of worms = To create or activate a problematic situation that cannot be reversed or undone.  Hence, efforts to correct the situation would only likely lead to more problems.  (Don’t tell the client we don’t like their idea just yet, as that could open a can of worms.)

Body Parts and Functions

  1. A back-handed compliment = A complement that really implies a criticism or insult.  (You’re really not as dumb as you seem.)
  2. A no-brainer = Something that required little or no mental effort, often an obvious decision (Carrying an umbrella when rain is forecast is a no-brainer.)
  3. A sight for sore eyes = a way to say that someone or something is attractive.  This can be a tricky one because it is often used sarcastically when referring to something unsightly.
  4. An eyesore = something that is ugly or otherwise unpleasant to look at, such as how a building is decorated.  (I love your new kitchen remodel, but the paint color your decorator chose is an eyesore.)
  5. Achilles’ heel = a weakness in one area, usually despite overall strength, which could lead to one’s downfall
  6. All ears = I am listening to you with my full undivided attention.
  7. You are my eyes and ears = I am relying on you to observe what is happening and report back.
  8. An arm and a leg = a very large amount of money, usually disproportionately large.  (I can get the car fixed, but it would cost and arm and a leg, so it might not be worth fixing.)
  9. An earful = a prolonged talk of talking, usually a complaint or reprimand.  (I asked our customer what they don’t like about our product, and I got an earful about it breaking down/needing frequent repair.)
  10. An idle mind is the devil’s playground = when you aren’t thinking or doing something productive or positive, it’s easy to get distracted by negative ideas.
  11. As far as the eye can see = something so vast/massive that you cannot see beyond it, either figuratively or literally.  (Until the Fed raises interest rates enough and energy costs come down, I’m afraid inflation will go on as far as the eye can see.)
  12. Bad blood = feelings of animosity between people because of situations in the past.  (Let’s get someone else to represent the company.  Bob has some bad blood with his counterparts.)
  13. Banging my head against the wall = to do, say, or ask for something repeatedly but to be unable to accomplish the desired objectives.  (I tried to convince my friend to buy a new car versus spending a lot of money getting his old one fixed, but I could tell I was just banging my head against the wall.)
  14. In one ear, out the other = you tell someone something and they either ignore it or quickly forget it.  (Dealing with elderly with dementia can be difficult at times.  Due to their memory challenges, whatever you tell them will likely just go in one ear and out the other.)
  15. Bated breath = anxiously anticipate something that will happen (I have been waiting with bated breath for this package to arrive.)
  16. Didn’t bat an eye = when someone showed no interest, fear, concern, emotion, etc. over something that you anticipated would produce a strong reaction.  (Bob is so rich that, when his wife asked she could buy a $500 pair of shoes, he said “Yes” and didn’t bat an eye at the price.
  17. Brainstorming = when a group of people meet and bring all their thoughts/ideas forward on how to accomplish something or solve a problem.  (My team and I had a great brainstorming ideas on how we can increase our efficiency and decrease costs.)
  18. Barefaced liar = when someone often tells lies with utmost confidence and without any remorse or effort conceal the fact that what he/she is saying isn’t true.  (Joe said he would do it, but I’m not counting on it because he is known to be a barefaced liar.)
  19. Skeleton crew = an organization consisting of the minimum number of people needed to maintain something, run an organization, etc.  (With so many people calling in sick this flu season, we seem to always have only a skeleton crew at a given time.)
  20. Skeletons in the closet = something bad or embarrassing that happened in someone’s past that is kept secret.  (I have no skeletons in the closet, which gives me great peace of mind.)
  21. A kick in the teeth = criticizing, exploiting, insulting, or failing to help someone who is in a trusting or vulnerable position.  (Bob did so well on my team.  That’s why I thought it was a real kick in the teeth when his boss gave him a skimpy raise.)
  22. Eyes are bigger than your stomach = wanting or taking more food than we can eat.  (I tend to overeat when I go to a buffet, as my eyes are bigger than my stomach as I go through the food line.)
  23. Bite your tongue = Stop yourself from saying something (usually inflammatory or derogatory) that you would usually like to say.  (When he insulted my son, I had to bite my tongue in order to prevent a confrontation.)
  24. Blood is thicker than water = family bonds will always be greater than friendships outside the family.  (In some cultures, people are more faithful to their parents and siblings than their spouses and children.  I guess, with them, blood is thicker than water.)
  25. Blood brothers = two or more guys who swear loyalty toward one another and aren’t biologically related.  (Bill and I are best friends, as we have been blood brothers since college.)
  26. Blue blood = someone who is part of a very noble or prominent family.  (All members of the Vanderbilt family are blue blood.)
  27. Blue in the face = wasting your efforts because you will get no results (I told my kids to clean their rooms until I was blue in the face, and their rooms are still a mess.)
  28. Blow your mind = something that will make you very excited, surprised, or interested.  (My son scored very well on his first semester finals.  I figured he would do well, but he really blew my mind with his ultra-high grades in all subjects.)
  29. Bone dry = something that is completely dry/without water.  (If this draught continues, I’m afraid Lake Mead will be bone dry in a few years.)
  30. Bone to pick = to want to talk to someone about a grievance you have with that person.  (I have a bone to pick with you about what you said last night.)
  31. Bone of contention = a subject or element that people disagree on.  (Abortion has always been a bone of contention between Democrats and Republicans.)
  32. Bored to tears = extremely bored with something to the point of wanting to cry or lash out.  (I thought that motivational speech last night was horrible, as it had me bored to tears.)
  33. Belly up to the bar = to commit oneself to a task and/or accept responsibility.  (If you want to get on the schedule to perform at the next concert, you better belly up to the bar and sign up for a slot.)
  34. Bone-chilling cold = extremely cold weather; sometimes used figuratively.  (I believe our new team member has a significant brain disorder, as I cannot believe his bone-chilling words in how he will compete for the new management position.)
  35. Bust your chops = to say or do something that interferes with someone’s accomplishing or leading something; or working extremely hard to accomplish something.  (I’m very proud of my son for wining his school’s public speaking competition, as he really busted his chops in preparing and rehearsing his speech.)
  36. Busting a gut = working extremely hard to accomplish something.  (We have lots of stiff competition, so everyone on the team will have to bust their guts in doing the work that we proposed.)
  37. At the tip of my tongue = something that you were about to say that you forgot but anticipate that you will soon remember.  (Wait, I was going to tell you something, but I forgot.  It’s at the tip of my tongue.)
  38. A far cry = Very different from what is intended or anticipated (I watched a romantic comedy last night that was a far cry from funny.)
  39. A fate worse than death = Something you don’t want to have happen because it would be very unpleasant.  (You don’t want to upset the boss today, as you would suffer a fate worse than death.)
  40. A rule of thumb = a general guideline (When estimating the cost of doing something, a 50:50 between parts and labor is a good rule of thumb.)
  41. All talk and no action = self-explanatory
  42. All thumbs = to be clumsy/uncoordinated in doing something.  (I’m afraid I’d spill that tall glass of water if I carried it on this tray, as I’m all thumbs.)
  43. Butter fingers = prone to dropping/failing to keep hold of things.  (Sorry, I didn’t mean to drop it.  Just call me butter fingers.)
  44. Back-stabber = someone who is nice to you in person but says bad things about you when you’re not there (i.e., behind your back).  (Joe may seem like a good friend, but I have found him to be a back-stabber.)
  45. Feel like death warmed over = to look or feel very sick.  My friend had COVID last week, and he still looked like death warmed over after 2 days.
  46. Bare bones = the only parts of something or a situation that are basic and necessary.  (In order to minimize our asking price, we revised the proposal to include only the bare bones part of the effort.)
  47. Bend over backwards = going out of one’s way to accomplish something or help or please someone.  (Mr. Soto is a very important client, so we must bend over backwards to please him.)
  48. Bite me = expresses defiance or contempt toward someone.  (Is Bob made at me?  I asked him if he was feeling better, and his response was “bite me!”.
  49. Bite the dust = to fail, to lose or to die (Our project bit the dust after our great leader quit the company.)
  50. Biological clock is ticking = usually used to encourage someone to start or do something before it’s too late (Arose from women wanting to have babies while they still can.)
  51. Bite off more than you can chew = trying to do something that is too much/too fast or too difficult for someone to succeed in doing.  (This project and schedule is very ambitious; I just hope we’re not biting off more than we can chew.)
  52. Blow chunks = to vomit or to be very bad or incompetent.  (I am not a good singer, as my audience would only blow chunks if I tried.)
  53. Blow your brains out = shooting someone or oneself in the head.  (I have no intention of hurting anyone in anyway, but if anyone lays a hand on my son, I will blow their brains out.)
  54. Bone up on = and attempt to learn something or master a skill very quickly.  (Although I can play the saxophone, I know nothing about playing the trumpet, so I’ll have to bone up on that before I can play at a concert.)
  55. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth = born into a rich family or having a privileged upbringing.  (Bob is really a good guy.  Although he sounds a bit entitled at times, remember, he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.)
  56. By the skin of your teeth = one has barely managed to escape something bad or achieve something good.  (We got everything done on time but only by the skin of our teeth.)
  57. About face = turn around and face in the opposite direction (She started walking away angrily but did an about face when I said I’m sorry for what I said.)
  58. Bad to the bone = Rebellious in an exciting, attractive way as well as irredeemably bad
  59. Bury your head in the sand = ignore a problem/risky situation and act as though it doesn’t exist.  (We need to get our project back on budget, as we can’t bury our heads in the sand and continue overrunning.)
  60. Baby blues = usually referring to blue eyes

Man-Made Things Images

  1. (Think) outside the box = Enable your thinking to go beyond normal constraints and identify highly innovative solutions to problems and situations at hand.  (We have done everything to get our cost down but we’re still over budget.  So, we need some outside the box ideas on how we can become even more efficient.)
  2. Get something back in the box =  Get something back under control, as it is currently out-of-control.  (The Feds will need to keep raising interest rates until inflation is back in the box.)
  3. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there = Don’t worry about it now.  We’ll deal with the situation when it arises.  (I’m not sure how we’re going to convince the boss to do this, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.)
  4. Don’t judge a book by its cover = Don’t jump to conclusions based on your first impression of someone or something.  (The job candidate has an impressive resume, but we must interview him first, so we don’t judge a book by its cover.)
  5. Like a kid in a candy store = Someone who is noticeably (and perhaps unusually) excited about his/her surroundings.  (I took my friend to a car show, and he was like a kid in a candy store.)
  6. Woke up on the wrong side of the bed = Be forewarned, this person has been in a bad mood all day.  (Be careful when talking to the boss today, as he woke up on the wrong side of the bed.)
  7. Read between the lines = Interpreting meaning the is implied but not specifically stated in the words.  (If you read between the lines, you’ll see that the client isn’t as opposed to our idea as they say they are.)
  8. Loose cannon = an unpredictable or uncontrolled person who is likely to cause unintentional damage.  (I would not recommend having “John” in a meeting with the customer, as he’s just too much of a loose cannon.)
  9. Bring to the table = What that person has to offer in a particular situation.  (I like his resume, as he has a lot of good experience to bring to the table.)
  10. Play your cards right =  Think the situation through, develop the right strategy, and take the appropriate actions at the appropriate times.  It usually applies to successfully navigating tricky/complex situations.  (If we play our cards right, we can actually make money in a bear market.)
  11. Dead as a doornail = Emphasizes that someone or something is “dead”.  (Our customer doesn’t like that idea, so it’s now as dead as a doornail.)
  12. That ship has sailed/That train has already left the station = An opportunity that has passed or a situation that cannot be changed at this time.  (We should have negotiated a lower/higher price, but that ship has sailed.)
  13. The pot calling the kettle black = The criticism one person has for another person could/does apply to the person being critical.  (“John” drinks 6-8 cups of coffee, so him telling me I need to cut down is like the pot calling the kettle black.)
  14. Off-the-wall = Something, someone, or a thought/idea that is unconventional/eccentric.  (Although your idea was a bit off-the-wall, our client really loves it.)
  15. Like a bowl/bull in a china shop = When a person is unrefined, loud, and/or clumsy in his/her speech and behavior.  (When hecklers interrupt a high-level meeting among VIPs, they come across like bowls in a china shop.)
  16. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link = A group can only be as successful as its weakest person.
  17. A chip off the old block = Someone who resembles a parent in character or appearance.  (I became an engineer like my dad, so I must be a chip off the old block.)
  18. Irons in the fire = Actions/activities that are currently in work.  (It may look like we’re not doing anything, but we actually have lots of irons in the fire.)
  19. A drop in the bucket = Something small/unimportant when compared with something else much larger/important.  (It cost me over $1000 to replace my water heater, but that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to our kitchen remodel.)
  20. A shot over/across the bow = a warning to stop or change a certain behavior or situation, else there will be consequences.  (I told my teenage son that, if he comes home late again, that he will be grounded for a week.  That was my warning shot over the bow.)
  21. A shot in the dark = something that we attempt knowing there might be little chance of success or a situation whose outcome cannot be foreseen.  (The Fed might be able to reduce inflation to 2% without causing a recession, but that’s a shot in the dark.)
  22. A shot in the arm = something that has a sudden, strong, positive effect on something or someone.  (The push to clean energy will be a shot in the arm for wind and solar power equipment producers.)
  23. A crap shot = an action that has an unpredictable outcome.  (Some are saying the stock market has already bottomed, but that’s a crap shot at best.)
  24. A shotgun wedding = a wedding that is forced or hurried because the bride is already pregnant
  25. Stir the pot = to deliberately cause trouble or controversy  (Let’s talk it out with our adversaries before we stir the pot.)
  26. Sweeten the pot = to revise an offer to make it more attractive, such as increasing the salary in a job offer to entice the prospective employee
  27. A man’s house is his castle = A man should be able to control what happens in his house without anyone else telling him what to do or trying to control things themselves.
  28. Captain of your own ship = We are responsible for ourselves, our thoughts, our decisions, and our actions, and we are accountable for their outcomes.  (You are captain of your own ship, so don’t blame others if something goes wrong with your plan.)
  29. All hands on deck = a situation that requires everyone on the team to help.  (The project schedule is very aggressive, so it will definitely require all hands on deck.)
  30. A shoestring budget = a small amount of money that isn’t enough to cover a given project (I can’t believe we accomplished so much on a shoestring budget!)
  31. A stitch in time saves nine = if you tackle a problem early, it may save a lot of work later on.
  32. A taste of his own medicine = a harsh/unpleasant treatment that you give to someone who just did the same thing to you  (He ridiculed me in public, so I decided to just give him a taste of his own medicine.)
  33. Abandon ship = to hurriedly leave an organization, project, or situation because it is failing.  (Now that we lost a big contract, I’m afraid my employees will now abandon ship.)
  34. A watched pot never boils = time seems to pass very slowly when we are anxiously awaiting for or eagerly anticipating something to happen.  (I’m waiting for my paycheck to arrive, but it seems a watched pot never boils.)
  35. Tied up in knots = to be confused, anxious, worried, and/or upset about something.  (Let’s sleep on it before we decide what to do, as we’re clearly all tied up in knots about it right now.)
  36. Acid test = a conclusive test of the value of something/someone or that something will work.  (The real acid test for the new COVID booster is how well it will curtail the current/upcoming wave.)
  37. Another nail in the coffin = another element or event of an ongoing situation leading to the demise of something or someone.  (Our company winning the proposal over our competitor will be another nail in our competitor’s coffin.)
  38. Any port in a storm = A person will use anyone/anything as a source of comfort in a bad situation, whether it’s the perfect person or situation or not.  (I really wanted to buy that house on 3rd street, but it was already sold.  So, I bought the one on 4th instead, which needs some repairs.  However, we need a place to live now, so any port in a storm.)
  39. Went over like a lead balloon = something poorly received by others.  (We lost the deal because the customer didn’t like our proposal.  The higher cost went over like a lead balloon.)
  40. Asleep at the wheel = not paying attention to or not detecting a problem that’s important or not performing one’s duties.  (Why did we lose that deal to our customer when we know we have something much better to offer.  Our marketing team must have been asleep at the wheel.)
  41. At the drop of a hat = doing/thinking something quickly, willingly, and without hesitation.  (Just let me know when you ready, and I’ll be over at the drop of a hat.)
  42. On a dime = something happening very quickly, abruptly, or something maneuvering/turning within a very small space.  (We must be prepared to revise our proposal on a time, in case our customer comes back and asks for something different.)
  43. At the end of my rope = I’ve had as much of this (situation/person) as I can tolerate.  Or I’ve tried everything I can imagine, and nothing has worked.  (I have been trying to get my son to have better study habits for a long time, and I’m almost at the end of my rope.)
  44. Ax to grind = to have a strong personal opinion about something that you want people to accept that is motivating your to take action.  (I have an ax to grind about our new company rules, so I’m writing the CEO a letter explaining why I believe they should change.)
  45. Back to the drawing board = The current plan/product didn’t work, so we need to start over and design a new one.  (I explained the plan to our boss, and he didn’t like it.  So, it’s back to the drawing board.)
  46. Back to square one = Our first/current attempt at something failed, so we need to start over.  (I was baking a cake and it fell while in the oven, so I’m back to square one now.)
  47. Back in the saddle = someone returning to a job/position that he/she had been away from for a while.  (The surgery went well, and I am now fully recovered.  It sure feels good to back in the saddle again.)
  48. Back against the wall = when someone is in a bad position of having to do something unpleasant to avoid failure. (As much as I hated to do it, I fired the employee who stole some office furniture.  The CEO knew about it, so my back was against the wall.)
  49. This isn’t my first rodeo = I have been in this situation and successfully dealt with it before.  (I’m sorry we have a flat tire, but I’ll have the spare on in just a few minutes.  This isn’t my first rodeo when it comes to flat tires.)
  50. Baggage = any problem(s)/burden(s) a person bring into a situation or relationship, such as kids, debt, elderly parents, etc.  (Bob is a great engineer, but he comes with baggage, as he has proven very hard to work with.)
  51. Bait and switch = sales method in which a person is attracted to buy a low cost item and is suddenly pressured to buy something different at a high price.  I don’t like shopping for used cars at a manufacturer’s dealer.  The salespeople are notorious for showing you some good used cars, and then suddenly doing the usual bait and switch.
  52. Ball and chain = something that limits one’s freedom or ability to do things.  (This new boss is driving me nuts, as he wants to approve every little decision we make – what a ball and chain!)
  53. Ball is in your court = It is up to you to decide and/or take action before any other progress can be made in a situation involving more than one person.  (My doctor prescribed some good meds and recommended a good diet and exercise regime.  Now the ball is in my court to do it.)
  54. Balls to the wall = With maximum effort, energy, or speed, and without caution or restraint (mainly a military term that refers to the ball-shaped grips on an aircraft’s joystick/throttle).  (I called a meeting with my team to kick off the new, unexpected task our CEO gave us.  They know there is a lot to it and that it will be a balls to the wall effort.)
  55. Bag lady = a homeless woman who carries her possessions in shopping bags.
  56. I bent my pick = a failed attempt to accomplish something or convince someone (I already bent my pick in attempting to get this corporate policy changed.)
  57. Like talking to a brick wall = telling one or more people something or trying to convince them of something and they won’t listen or acknowledge what you are saying.  (Trying to get OPEC+ to increase production is like talking to a brick wall.)
  58. Basket case = a person who is helpless or unable to function normally due to overwhelming stress, anxiety, etc.  (After staying up all night with a sick child, I was a basket case the next day.)
  59. Caught with my pants down = when something happens to someone unexpectedly that reveals a shocking or embarrassing fact about that person.  (We better be prepared to explain our budget overrun during today’s meeting, as I’d hate to see anyone caught with their pants down when the CFO starts asking the tough questions.)
  60. In the same boat = to be in the same unpleasant situation as others.  (We’re all in the same boat when it comes to inflation impacting our purchasing power.)
  61. Wet blanket = someone who spoils other people’s fun by failing to join in with or by disapproving of their activities.  (Bob is a great friend, but he can be a wet blanket when it comes to parties.)
  62. Take him out to the woodshed = when someone is punished/reprimanded discretely or privately.  (When our suppliers tried to raise their prices without justification, we took them out to the woodshed.)
  63. Behind the 8 ball = being in a bad or losing situation.  (I’d like to see you tonight, but I’m behind the 8 ball in my work, and I need to stay late at the office and fix some things.)
  64. Bells and whistles = attractive or additional features.  (Most new cars these days already have all the bells and whistles.)
  65. Hitting below the belt = saying/doing something unfair, cruel, or against the rules.  (I heard a couple arguing, and one of them mentioned the other’s former alcoholism.  I thought that was hitting below the belt.)
  66. Bet your bottom dollar/bet the farm = to be absolutely sure of something and be willing to bet anything that you are right.  (I’ll bet the farm that some congressional seats will turn over this election because of all the economic problems.)
  67. Bought the farm = to say that someone died, usually via a military accident
  68. Best thing since sliced bread = emphasizing enthusiasm about a new idea, thing, or person (The new 5G cell phone technology is the best thing since sliced bread.)
  69. Between you, me, and the bedpost/light post = emphasizing the need to hold a particular conversation in confidence (not disclose any part of it to anyone).  (Between you, me, and the light post, I don’t believe John will win the contest.)
  70. Big cheese/big-wig = a high-ranking person in an organization, including the one at the tip.  (WOW, you got promoted to E-series.  You are now definitely a big-wig.)
  71. The brass = the leadership team at the top of a company or organization.  (The workers on the production floor like our new process innovations, but we’re having a hard time convincing the brass to fund it.)
  72. Bite the bullet = to force oneself to perform an unpleasant or difficult action or to be brave in a difficult situation.  (I know that a lot could go wrong with this new process, but we need to bite the bullet and get it done before I competition does.
  73. Dam the torpedoes, full speed ahead = to enthusiastically press forward with something with maximum effort without regard to the obvious risks or dangers.
  74. Big picture/50,000-foot view = seeing the “big picture” of a complex situation.  (Before we figure out the details of this project, we need to understand the 50,000 view of what the customer wants.)
  75. Blew a gasket/blew a fuse/had a meltdown = to become very angry/enraged.  (When my 2-year-old son’s cousin grabbed one of his favorite toys from him, he had a big meltdown.)
  76. Whistle blower = someone who reveals something that is wrong, illegal, or against policy.  (Make your you are ready for the upcoming quality audit, as I understand their new auditor is a real whistle blower.)
  77. Throw him under the bus = when someone tries to gain advantage by criticizing, punishing, or blaming someone else.  (I’m not trying to throw anyone under the bus, but your marketing team really needs to do better.)
  78. Toot your own horn = to talk about your own accomplishments/achievements in a very proud way, perhaps too proud.  (Since no one talked about my winning the tennis competition last year, I had to toot my own horn.)
  79. Shoe is on the other foot = a situation has changed to the opposite of what it was before or the role of two people or two teams are switched.  (Our team may have lost the championship this year, but don’t worry, the shoe will be on the other foot come next year.
  80. The other shoe to drop = to wait for something to happen that is inevitable and a direct result of what happened the first time  (The CEO already quit the company, and we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop by having his staff leave as well.)
  81. Box yourself in = to put yourself in an unpleasant situation in which there are few favorable outcomes.  (The Fed is really boxed in right now.  If they raise interest rates, there will likely be a recession.  If they don’t, then inflation will do even more damage to the economy.)
  82. Bottom of the barrel = the lowest in value and quality (AKA the dregs).  (My son failed his first attempt at his college entrance exam.  Please encourage him, as he feels like he hit the bottom of the barrel.)
  83. Broke the bank/budget = Spent/exceeded the budget/available funds.  (That unexpected major plumbing repair really broke the bank.)
  84. Built like a tank = build very solid, sturdy, and able to operate in a harsh environment.  (I have always liked Ford trucks, as they are all built like a tank.)
  85. Bump in the road = an unexpected problem or situation (usually not serious) that must be resolved before progress on a project can continue.  (We hit a bump in the road on our project, as the next parts shipment will be delayed for 3 weeks.)
  86. Speedbump = something that temporarily stops or slows down progress (usually not serious).  (We failed the quality audit, but fortunately it’s nothing serious, and it will be easy to fix what is wrong – only a speedbump.)
  87. Burn the candle at both ends = to do more/expend more energy than one should.  (I’m going to hire another person to help Bob with his work, as there is so much to do, and he has been burning the candle at both ends for two weeks.)
  88. Burn the midnight oil = work or study late into the evening, well beyond normal “quitting time”.  (People often procrastinate their income taxes, then end up burning the midnight oil on the last day, so they can meet the April 15 deadline.
  89. Burn the bridge = ending relations with a person or organization in an unpleasant way.  (Never quit your company while in the middle of a critical task/project, because you will leave your team unsupported, and that will likely burn the bridge with the company.)
  90. Bury the hatchet = putting past differences behind in a damaged relationship or situation, and moving on from there on a clean slate; making peace.  (If you get into an argument with your spouse, the best thing is for both of you to bury the hatchet and move on with your relationship.)
  91. Butter him up = to be very kind to/complimentary of someone in anticipation of him/her doing something for you, such as a special favor.  (If you are going to ask Bob to cancel his vacation just to fill in for you while you are out-of-office, you better butter him up really good first.)
  92. Grease the skids = to help prepare/facilitate the way to help ensure success (I greased the skids by calling my client to let them know that we’ll submit a new proposal very soon.)
  93. By the same token = something that you are about to say is true for the same reason(s) that what you already said is true.  (I don’t want to overcharge you for my services; however, by the same token, I want to be compensated fairly for what I do.)
  94. By hook or by crook = by any and all necessary means, as a way to assure someone of a particular outcome (in a good way despite what the word “crook” might imply).  (My son is very driven; I know he will get into a top college by hook or by crook.)
  95. Knock it out of the park = to do something, usually difficult/challenging, extremely well (Think of a baseball player hitting a home run and the ball actually flying out of the stadium.)
  96. Baptism by fire = learning something the hard way via a challenge or difficulty.  (My new employee just sat in for me in a very contentious meeting.  Talk about baptism by fire!
  97. Bring home the bacon/breadwinner = to be the one who provides financially for the family.  (Having been my family’s breadwinner for so many years, it will be nice to have my spouse bring home the bacon not that I’m retired.)
  98. A feather in his cap = Something, usually an attribute or accomplishment, which is something to be proud of or will bode well for your future.  (My son became an eagle scout while earing straight As in school.  His demonstrated ability to do both will definitely be a feather in his cap when applying to college or interviewing for a job.
  99. Butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth = a way of saying that a person who comes across as kind, sincere, trustworthy, etc. really isn’t.  (Many auditors come across as really nice, and some really are.  However, be careful; with others, butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths.)
  100. Airing dirty laundry = disclosing your problems to others.  (Before we air our dirty laundry, let’s fix the problem first.)
  101. All bets are off = the outcome of a situation is unpredictable; often used when an otherwise predicable situation suddenly becomes unpredictable due to unexpected events.  (If we lose this deal, then all bets are off on meeting our numbers for this quarter.)
  102. The lights are on, but nobody’s home = suggests the person lacks intelligence or awareness.  (I asked him to explain why he did that, but it seems the lights are on, but nobody’s home.)
  103. We’ll leave the light on for you = We’ll wait for you, as you are always welcome here.  (I sure hated to have my top employee resign, so I told him, “we’ll leave the light on for you”.)
  104. The buck stops here = the one who has ultimate accountability in a situation or organization and us unable to pass it on (Since I’m the CEO, the buck stops here.)
  105. Brownie points = pseudo credits that one earns by doing something good for someone; often used in a derogatory way to imply that the person is using the other person by doing the good deed is doing it only to get the special favor/privilege of whoever he/she is helping.  (When the boss arrives, be sure to bring him a fresh cup of coffee.  That’s a great way to earn brownie points.)

Nature and Weather Images

  1. All that glitters is not gold = Things are sometimes not as good as how they appear on the surface.  (I just go an amazing job offer; however, I realize that all that glitters is not gold.)
  2. The grass is always greener on the other side = Another person’s situation always looks better than your own, but only on the surface.  (If you leave our company, just remember the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.)
  3. A perfect storm =  A  particularly bad or critical state of affairs, arising from a combination of negative and unpredictable factors.  (With inflation high, energy prices high, and interest rates high, our economy might be in for a perfect storm.)
  4. Every rose has its thorn = Every good thing/situation has its downside.  (The new job is great, but the commute is horrible, but every rose has its thorn.)
  5. Low-hanging fruit = A person or thing that could be obtained/achieved with minimal effort.  (In deciding which processes to optimize, let’s go after the low-hanging fruit first.)
  6. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree = A child usually has qualities that are similar to his/her parents.  (My son and I both like to travel.  It only shows the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.)
  7. Apple of my eye = A deeply loved and highly treasured person who I am very proud of.  (My spouse is the apple of my eye.)
  8. How do you like those apples!? = When you boast about an achievement to someone who thought you could not have attained that particular achievement.  (I was just accepted into U of M despite you telling me how hard it is to get in.  So, how do you like those apples!?)
  9. Out of the blue = A person, thing, or situation (good or bad) that suddenly materializes unexpectedly.  (We thought we couldn’t solve the problem until “John” came up with a great solution out of the blue.)
  10. Plain as day = So obvious that you cannot possibly miss it.  (Once you figure out what the problem is, the solution will be plain as day.)
  11. Bad seed = A person regarded as corrupt by nature and likely to have a harmful influence on other people.  (I don’t want my son to play with “Johnny”, because I fear “Johnny” is a bad seed.)
  12. Bad egg = Someone who does bad things.  (I don’t want, “Martin” on the team, as he was a bad egg when on the last project.)
  13. A diamond in the rough = Someone of good character/high potential but currently lacks education, experience, manners, or style.  (Bob is very talented but still a diamond in the rough, so I don’t think he’s ready for an assignment this big quite yet.)
  14. Thorn in his side = a person or thing that repeatedly annoys someone or repeatedly causes problems  (Inflation will be a thorn in Jerome Powell’s side for some time to come.)
  15. An apple a day keeps the doctor away = eat and/or do something healthy, and you won’t need much medical care.
  16. You don’t win the silver; you lose the gold = not making first place is a greater loss than the gain of making second place in a competition.
  17. Two peas in a pod = Two people who are exactly alike in at least one way.  (You can trust goth John and Bob to do a great job.  They are two peas in a pod.)
  18. As cool as a cucumber = when someone remains very calm and rational in an otherwise emotional situation.  (Bob handled the bad news very well.  In fact, he was as cool as a cucumber during the whole time I explained the situation.)
  19. As good as gold = something to be in a very good state or a person of superior character or extremely well-behaved/well-mannered.  (That new car I bought runs great!  It’s as good as gold.)
  20. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust = we will all die, and our bodies will return to earth, as per God’s plan.  It also implies there will be a much better afterlife.
  21. Apples and oranges = things that are completely different and therefore cannot be compared.  (It’s hard to compare a cell phone with a microwave oven because we’re talking about apples and oranges.)
  22. Oil and water = two people that don’t get along or work well together (I’d assign Bob and John to different teams because they mix/blend as well as oil and water.)
  23. Peaches and cream = all is good (as state of euphoria) or someone with attractive smooth skin.  (The meeting went very well, as everyone came to complete consensus on what we should do next – all peaches and cream.)
  24. Break the ice = to say or do something that makes people who don’t know you feel more comfortable and start to get to know you.  (As a teacher, I always like to play a fun game with my students, in order to break the ice.)
  25. Rock solid/solid as a rock = very stable situation that is unlikely to get disrupted or someone who is very clear-thinking and doesn’t get caught up in the emotion/drama of a situation.  (Bob is rock solid, as he always keeps a cool head and doesn’t get upset when things go wrong.)
  26. Light my fire = to “turn me on” or “inspire me”, often used in a romantic setting, but not always.  (This new job really lit my fire, as I see so many career possibilities.)
  27. Bump on a log = someone who is inactive in a situation in which they are expected to be active (When you’re in a job interview, ask a lot of questions versus simply being a bump on a long.)
  28. Rabbit hole = a bizarre, nonsensical, or non-productive situation or environment full of twists and turns that is hard to get out of and may not lead to the right conclusion or result (We almost had the deal sealed until “John” took us down the rabbit hole of analyzing our customer’s accounting system.)

Places, Time, Travel and Navigation Images

  1. Time is money =  Don’t waste time because it will end up costing money, as time and money are interchangeable.  (Let’s hurry up and get this done.  Time is money.)
  2. Buy time = purchasing time with money or, more often, via manipulating circumstances to enable more time to pass prior to an action or event.  (I’m renting a small apartment, so I can buy time to look for a house.)
  3. What goes around comes around = How you treat people and what you do for them is what you can expect in return.  (Be nice to people because what goes around comes around.)
  4. A trip down memory lane = Talking, thinking, or writing about something that happened a long time ago.  (Seeing those old 1960s relics in the Smithsonian was a trip down memory lane to me.)
  5. A fool’s paradise = When a person feels happy/content in a situation without knowing or being in denial of potential trouble.  (A beautiful beach in a dangerous country would be a vacationer’s classic fool’s paradise.)
  6. Double back = to turn back and proceed in the direction that you came from.  (It’s on the left, but you’ll have to drive past it and double back since left turns aren’t allowed.)
  7. Been around the barn/block/mulberry bush = to have a lot of experience of something, especially when this means that it is difficult to trick or surprise you with it.  (I know we need to do something different, as I’ve already been around that mulberry bush a number of times.)
  8. Been there, done that = a familiar situation that the person has already dealt with and is very familiar with.  (If you put too much detergent in the washing machine, it will over suds and make a mess.  I have been there, done that.)
  9. All roads lead to Rome = there are multiple ways to achieve the same exact outcome.  (I believe all 3 of your ideas would work, as all roads lead to Rome.)
  10. Go with the flow = to think/do whatever others are doing without giving it much thought.  (I need someone who will constantly identify newer/better ways of doing business, not someone who will just go with the flow.)
  11. Ebbs and flows = used to describe something that changes in a repeated and predictable way (Home sales typically ebb and flow throughout any 10-year period.)
  12. As easy as pie/walk in the park/piece of cake = something very easy and enjoyable to do.  (Don’t worry about your ability to complete this task.  Although it might look daunting, it’s really a piece of cake.)
  13. Back-seat driver = A passenger who provides unsolicited (and usually unwelcome) input to the driver.  (I enjoyed our conversation when I drove Mary home from work last night, but she is a bit of a back-seat driver when it comes to navigating.)
  14. Blaze a new trail/chart a new course = to ambitiously pursue something new that has yet to be accomplished.  (We’re definitely blazing a new trail by switching from grid power to solar/battery storage.)
  15. Unchartered territory/waters = an unknown situation that could have hidden dangers.  (We need to be careful in how we deal with Russia regard their war in Ukraine, as these are uncharted waters, and we don’t know what tricks the Russians might have up their sleeves.)
  16. Bum steer = false or misleading information, whether intentional or unintentional.  (The Fed really gave us a bum steer last year when they said inflation would only be transitory.)
  17. Ran aground = when one encounters an unexpected problem that brings his/her project/effort to a complete stop until that problem is resolved.  (Our efforts to turn a profit this year ran aground when we lost a big contract.)
  18. Back in the day = Thinking back to a past era or situation.  (Back in the day when I was in college…)
  19. Take it or leave it = My offer is not negotiable, and it is entirely up to you whether to accept or decline it.  (You are welcome to join us on our trip to London – take it or leave it.)
  20. You win some, you lose some = Don’t expect things to always work out, as sometimes problems arise.  (We lost the deal with our prospective client, but hey, you win some, you lose some.)
  21. Good things come to those who wait = Be patient and wait, and what you are looking for (or perhaps even something better) will eventually happen.
  22. In the nick of time = Just barely in time to meet a deadline or avoid a bad situation that would have resulted by being late.  (A child suddenly ran out in front of my car, and I managed to hit my brake in the nick of time to avoid hitting him.)
  23. Ignorance is bliss = If you don’t know about something, then you won’t worry about it.  (I don’t know what the stock market will do next, but ignorance is bliss.)
  24. An uphill battle = A very difficult (but still needs to be achieved) struggle.  (With today’s high inflation, staying within the family budget has become an uphill battle.)
  25. A blast from the past = Someone or something a person hasn’t seen for a long time that brings back nostalgic memories.  (I got a call from an old high school friend last night – a definite blast from the past.)
  26. A man for all seasons = a man who stands ready to deal with any situation and whose actions always are appropriate for the occasion.
  27. A stone’s throw away = in very close proximity (My new job is great, and it’s only a stone’s throw from home.)
  28. All hell breaks loose = A situation that rapidly deteriorates and everything imaginable goes wrong unexpectedly
  29. In due time = eventually and at the right time
  30. All in a day’s work = someone’s routine or doing something that he/she normally does
  31. Another day, another dollar = Everything is routine and mundane, and nothing eventful or extraordinary has happened or is anticipated.
  32. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure = It’s much better to take action to prevent something bad from happening than waiting and trying to fix it when it does.
  33. An oldie but goodie = something that is beyond new but still something to be enjoyed or cherished.  (I still enjoy listening to the Beatles.  “Here comes the sun” is definitely an oldie but goodie!
  34. In a New York minute = in an instant/very short time.  (If this item goes on sale, I will buy one in a New York minute.)
  35. At the end of the day = the end state of a situation (At the end of the day, everyone will have had a chance to speak in this debate.)
  36. At the 11th hour/last minute = getting something big and important done just in time to meet a schedule/deadline.  (We finally completed and submitted our proposal on time, despite all the changes we were making at the 11th hour.)
  37. At the crack of dawn/bright and early = early in the morning.  (Let’s hit the road at the crack of dawn, so can enjoy the rest of the day once we arrive.)
  38. Back in a sec = I’m leaving now, but I will return very soon.  (I going to get a cup of coffee – will be back in a sec.)
  39. Behind the times = old fashioned/ not aware of our using the latest thinking and techniques.  (Bob knows a lot about cellphones, but he is a bit behind the times when it comes to selecting the latest model.)
  40. Ahead of his/her time = having very modern ideas or being prepared to do something before it needs to happen.  (I think Bob’s ideas are good and that people will eventually buy into them.  He’s just ahead of his time.)
  41. All over the map = a state of confusion or disorganization (I haven’t decided yet because my thoughts are currently all over the map.)
  42. Knock it out of the park = to do something, usually difficult/challenging, extremely well (Think of a baseball player hitting a home run and the ball actually flying out of the stadium.)
  43. Better late than never = self-explanatory
  44. First come, first served = self-explanatory

Miscellaneous Images

  1. To each his own = We respectfully disagree, or we have our own tastes in what we like.  You have your view, and I have mine.  (I prefer to paint the living room green rather than blue, but to each his own.)
  2. At my wits’ end = I’ve had as much of this situation/person as I can tolerate.  (I am at my wits end with my noisy neighbors and their loud parties.)
  3. Atta boy/girl =  Great work/accomplishment, and we appreciate it!
  4. Between a rock and a hard place = a situation in which someone is faced with two equally difficult/undesirable alternatives.  (My flight was cancelled, and I absolutely must be home by tomorrow.  So, I bought a new ticket at twice the price – talk about being between a rock and a hard place.
  5. Back to the basics = to return to a simpler way of thinking about or doing something.  (This new eloquent business model looks good on paper, but it isn’t working.  So, I vote we get back to the basics and simply provide the customer with what they are asking for.
  6. Good/bad call = good or bad decision in a complex situation that requires decision making.  (Good call on hiring Bob.  He is really good, and I know there were some other good candidates to choose from, but I don’t think they are as good.
  7. Batten down the hatches = to prepare for a difficult situation.  (As the impending recession looms, investors must batten down the hatches for a while.)
  8. Roll/bat that idea around = to think about or talk about something or an idea for a period of time.  (We’ve talked about a lot of things during this meeting.  Now let’s roll these ideas around tonight, and please come prepared tomorrow to discuss your recommendation.)
  9. Baptism by fire = learning something the hard way via a challenge or difficulty.  (My new employee just sat in for me in a very contentious meeting.  Talk about baptism by fire!
  10. Banking on it = relying on something to happen as planned/stated.  (I’m banking on you having this done by tomorrow.)
  11. Barking up the wrong tree = going about something the wrong way due to having the wrong ideas, thoughts, or beliefs.  (I believe that people believe that setting price caps will curtail inflation are barking up the wrong tree.)
  12. Barge right in = someone who spontaneously enters a room or discussion and disrupts what is currently happening or being discussed.  (I found it irritating when I was speaking with a client and one of his employees barged right in started talking about a different subject.)
  13. Beat it! = “Get out of here immediately!” or “Leave, I don’t want to see you”.  (When a salesman came to my house and rang the doorbell, I told him I’m not interested in buying anything and to beat it.)
  14. Beat’s me = “I have no idea whatsoever.” (I thought everyone likes our new teammate, so it beats me why no one talked to him at the party.)
  15. Beat the living daylights (out of somebody) = to physically hit someone very hard, multiple times, thereby causing much pain/injury; sometimes also used figuratively when someone wins a competition by an unusually large margin (John and I played basketball last night, and I beat the living daylights out of him.)
  16. Beat around the bush = talking only about the unimportant aspects about something because you don’t want to address the main/important points.  (Please stop beating around the bush and just tell me what you want me to do.)
  17. Bear down = to apply maximum effort to a task or to rapidly approach or address someone in an intimidating way.  (When you are sanding oak or other hard wood, you need to really beard down on it.)
  18. Be there or be square = a friendly/informal way to encourage someone to attend an event that is fun and that it would be “uncool” to not attend.  (We’re having a company picnic next Saturday.  Be there or be square!)
  19. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder = We all see beauty in different things.  (I believe our new living room furniture is tacky and ugly, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.)
  20. Beauty is only skin deep = A physically attractive person who may or may not be beautiful inside.  (I warned my son that, when he meets someone good-looking, that beauty is only skin deep.)
  21. Beg the question = A situation that leads to an obvious question (Jane didn’t show up at the party, which begs the question: “Did she really want to go.”)
  22. Beggars can’t be choosers = when someone asks for a help or a favor without anything in return, they cannot be too selective regarding exactly what they get.  (My new cellphone is red because that was the last one left of my preferred model, and I figured beggars can’t be choosers.)
  23. Better half = often how someone refers to a spouse in an affectionate/complimentary way.  (I’d love to have you over for dinner, and you can meet my better half.)
  24. Better than ever = something or someone that has gone from great to even better.  (This new mechanic is great.  He just fixed my car, and now it runs better than ever!)
  25. Beyond our ken = something beyond one’s knowledge or understanding.  (We may know much more about our solar system today, but to have the same knowledge of solar systems that are galaxies away is beyond our ken.)
  26. Larger than life = someone or something who appears or behaves in an unusual way that’s better than normal.  (Some salespeople portray their products as larger than life.)
  27. The bigger they are, the harder they fall = the more powerful or successful someone is, the more devastating it is to that person when they fail
  28. Blew him away/knocked his socks off = when someone overwhelmingly impresses another person to the point of being stunned (in a good way) or left speechless.  (Elton John’s performance at the Staples Center was awesome, as each song blew me away!)
  29. Blew his wad = when someone has spent all their money/budget or otherwise expended all his/her resources.  (I’m sorry honey, we cannot afford any more family vacations this year because we blew our wad on the last one.)
  30. Blind leading the blind = when someone who doesn’t understand something attempts to lead others in that same subject area (Having a plumber try to teach an electrician how to be an electrician is like the blind leading the blind.)
  31. Blackball someone = to actively prevent someone from doing something or participating in an event, usually by spreading negative information about that person.  (If you are a politician and you get sideways with the news media, there is a good chance they will blackball you.)
  32. Blow it = to badly spoil or botch something up, usually out of clumsiness or inattentiveness, as there is often a subtle message that the person could have done much better.  (Our high school band was very good, but during the football championship, they really blew their half-time performance.)
  33. Blow this clambake/popsicle stand/get out of Dodge/split the scene = let’s get out of here – quickly!  (It’s getting late, and traffic is already building on the freeway, so let’s blow this clambake and start heading home.)
  34. Blowing smoke/smoke and mirrors = to deliberately confuse/mislead someone by providing false/exaggerated information.  (It is now clear that the Feds were blowing smoke when they said inflation was only transitory.)
  35. Boils down to = the core or fundamental piece of a larger, more complex situation or entity.  (The complexity of inflation can be boiled down to simply having too many dollars chasing too many goods/services.)
  36. Booby trap = something that is concealed and intended to surprise or hurt someone (I’m going to set a booby trap to get rid of those pesky mice in my attic.)
  37. Booby prize = A token prize that’s given to the person who ended up at the bottom of a competition (e.g., the last person to finish a race)
  38. Botch the job = for a person to ruin the outcome of a task/project due to his/her incompetence or otherwise poor work performance.  (I thought I hired the best remodeling contractor, but they really botched last job on my house.)
  39. Bottom line = the total profit/loss of a project or company or the final and most important part of something.  (The bottom line is we must get inflation down, even if it causes a recession.)
  40. Brand spanking new = entirely brand new – hot off the assembly line or recently created.  (I just went to the Toyota deal and drove home my new Camry – brand spanking new!)
  41. Bragging rights = entitlement to boast about something.  (If it weren’t for all of your good, hard work, the project would not have been so successful. Hence, you have full bragging rights.)
  42. Bounce back = to quickly return to normal after suffering an illness or unfortunate situation.  (Don’t worry, once inflation comes down, interest rates will soon follow, and the stock market will bounce back.)
  43. Boys will be boys = an informal way to acknowledge and excuse the usual rowdy behavior and mischief of boys and young men.  (My son got in trouble for talking in class for the first time.  I warned him not to do it again, but I’m not too bothered by it either.  After all, boys will be boys.)
  44. Bring it on = to express confidence in meeting a challenge.  (I know it’s hard to run a race during a heavy rain, but I’m not going to let today’s forecast stop me.  So, if it does rain, then I’ll just say, “Bring it on!”.)
  45. Bust your balls = making fun of or messing around with someone.  (Please don’t get upset with me, as I didn’t mean any harm in joking with you.  I was just busting your balls.)
  46. Business as usual = things are operating/progressing in the usual way.  This phrase could be applied to anything, not just a business. (I just mowed the lawn and washed the cars – business as usual for a Saturday morning.)
  47. Business at hand = he main task/discussion that we need to start now.  (Our business at hand right now is to get the car fixed so we can leave on our road trip.)
  48. By George = an exclamation of pleasant surprise, astonishment, or wonder.  (I couldn’t believe it.  I want to an old college reunion, and, by George, all my old friends were there!)
  49. Low and behold = portraying something that, although it might be surprising, was really predictable.  (After energy prices jumped up, low and behold, inflation skyrocketed as well.)
  50. By all means = an emphatic way to give someone permission.  IOW, I am granting you full/uninhibited permission.  (Please, by all means, I would love to have you stay at my house when you visit LA.)
  51. By and large = as a whole; or all things considered.  (Although they sometimes vastly differ in methods, both Democrats and Republicans want what’s right for the country, by and large.
  52. Buy into = to believe something or accept it as reality.  (Our proposal got rejected.  Although our counterparts liked it, their CEO didn’t buy into our approach.)
  53. Buy something for a song = buying something for an extremely low price, probably much less than what it’s really worth.  (If you want good trinkets for your house, you should go to a garage/yard/estate sale, as you can buy some really good things for a son.
  54. Persona non grata = an unacceptable/unwelcome person.  (Putin quickly became a persona non grata to many nations after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.)
  55. Punchline = the main gist
  56. Holier than thou = when someone thinks they are of greater moral character than anyone else.  (He’s a good role model, but he doesn’t always connect well with the youth because he sometimes comes across as holier than thou.)
  57. Mess up = make a mistake, do something wrong, or attempt to do something good but end up doing it the wrong way. (When doing fine craftwork, it always pays to do it slowly and carefully, else you might mess it up.)
  58. Open pandora’s box = To begin or introduce something that leads to many problems.  (The meeting was going well until someone brought up a contentious subject, and that opened pandora’s box.
  59. Meltdown = a disastrous event, often used by investors when a share price plummets.  (Wall Street had a meltdown once they realized the Fed is really serious about raising interest rates.)
  60. Better safe than sorry = It’s better to err on the side of caution.  (We’re not required to wear masks anymore, but better safe than sorry.)
  61. There is safety in numbers = You have a better chance of avoid harm when taking action as a group than as an individual.  (I was afraid to buy an EV until most of my friends bought one.  I must get one now, as I figure there must be safety in numbers.)
  62. A friend in need is a friend indeed = a friend who helps you at a time that you really need it is a true friend.
  63. A foregone conclusion = a result our outcome that you are certain of.  (Now that it is clear that inflation isn’t coming down it is a foregone conclusion that the Fed will raise interest rates again at their next meeting.
  64. All is well that ends well = Any story or situation that has a positive outcome is good, and that compensates for any pain/unpleasantness that happened along the way.
  65. Jack of all trades and master of none = Someone who is capable of doing a lot of things but lacks a high level of expertise in any one thing.
  66. Half-baked idea = a thought/idea that wasn’t properly thought through and, therefore, has holes/gaps.  (Some politicians sound good, but their ideas are often only half-baked.)
  67. A knight in shining armor = A brave person who comes to the rescue of someone who is in a difficult situation.  (Bob was our knight in shining armor when he resolved a major argument with the customer and obtained their approval on our proposal.)
  68. Necessary evil = something that is undesirable but must be done or accepted (Paying taxes is a necessary evil.)
  69. In tip-top shape = In excellent condition and ready to go (The house is finally in tip-top shape, so we cannot rent it out or sell it.)
  70. A new lease on life = a chance to continue living or become successful or popular again.
  71. A sorry sight = something that is ugly or unpleasant to look at  (That botched remodeling job is a sorry sight indeed.)
  72. A sticky wicket = a difficult or delicate problem (Getting inflation down without causing a recession is a sticky wicket.)
  73. Dish it out but can’t take it = when someone criticizes or laughs at someone else but doesn’t like it when others do it to him/her.  It often refers to a friendly joke or teasing.  (I like joking around with people, but I don’t do it with John because he can dish it out but can’t take it.)
  74. A sweet deal = a deal that gives you a great advantage, such as having to pay a lower price for a new car
  75. Ace in the hole = a competitive advantage that you have over a rival or competitor  (Having lots of petroleum resources within our own boarders would be our ace in the hole should there ever be another embargo.)
  76. Absence make the heart grow fonder = you feel more love/affection for someone whom you have been away from for a while.
  77. Bent out of shape = angry or agitated.  (Listen to why I did that before you get bent out of shape.)
  78. Actions speak louder than words = what someone does has more value than what someone says.
  79. In pale comparison = to seem less important/good/significant when compared with something else (A Category 1 hurricane pales in comparison with a Category 5 hurricane.)
  80. All that jazz = used when referring to other similar things (I woke up, shaved, took a shower and all that jazz as I prepared to go to work.)
  81. Bits and pieces = an assortment of small items.  (We’ve already fixed the big problems, and now we’re down to just the bits and pieces.)
  82. All is fair in love and war = there are no rules.
  83. On the bright/dark side = focusing on the positives/negatives of a complex situation.  (On the bright side, the stock market will recover as the recession ends.)
  84. My brother’s keeper = we have a responsibility to take care of each other (non-gender-specific).  (We cannot turn our backs on the homeless, because after all, we are our brother’s keeper.)
  85. Always a bridesmaid but never the bride = someone who never reaches their full potential or is always second-most important, never the first.
  86. Anywhoo = casual for anyhow, anyway, or however
  87. Anything goes = anything people say or do is acceptable.  (He’s easy to work with – anything goes.)
  88. A friend of yours is a friend of mine = I believe anyone to be trustworthy that you say is trustworthy.
  89. You can take that to the bank = what I’m saying is really true, so you should count on it.  (I know our new process will work, so you can take that to the bank.)
  90. An ill wind = a bad situation that eventually produces something good (I hated having to get rid of my car because it stopped running, but it saved me a lot of money in expensive repair bills – an ill wind indeed.)
  91. Separates the men from the boys = to show who is strong, capable, and enduring and who is not.  (Just wait until you guys have to deal with this new, difficult customer.  It will definitely separate the men from the boys.)
  92. A busybody = someone who is always too interested on other people’s business.  (Our new neighbor seems nice and helpful, but be careful, as I noticed he/she is a busybody.
  93. As luck would have it = something happened because of good or bad luck.  (As luck would have it, my car broke down and made me late for work on my first day.)
  94. Pleased as punch = feeling a great sense of delight.  (I was pleased as punch to see air fares start to come down, especially knowing how much traveling we will be doing.)
  95. You reap what you sow = you get out of life/a situation whatever you put in.

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