Idioms and Phrases

Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.

Idioms

bell the cat

bell the cat
Meaning: do a dangerous job.
Example: Someone has to bell the cat and tell the commissioner that his own started the violence.

take the edge off

take the edge off

Meaning:

  • blunt the effect of
  • reduce the impact of
  • make less severe

Examples:

  1. Have a painkiller – it’ll take the edge off the pain your in hand.
  2. Her apology took the edge of his anger.
  3. After a strong hard work, I need to eat something to take the edge off fatigue and hunger.
  4. The coconuts took the edge off the dehydration and hunger when I was lost on an isolated island.
  5. I don’t know how to take the edge off the fear from heights.
  6. Do some meditation and yoga this will take the edge off the stress.

Origin:
This idiomatic expression dates from the first half of the 1900s.

early days

it’s early days yet

Meaning:

  • it is too soon to make a judgment about something
  • a time too soon to come to a conclusion
  • the starting phase of anything

Examples:

  1. The new measures seem to have worked, but it’s early days yet and the Reserve Bank of India Governor would rather not make any comment about the country’s economy.
  2. This is the last over of The Grand finale Cricket match, England could win but it’s early days yet.
  3. My new business is doing pretty well in terms of profit, but it’s early days.
  4. I anticipate my son will win the spelling contest this year, from his current presentation, but it is early days yet to be truly certain.
  5. In the early days of cars, the technology was not that advance as now.
  6. The humans are soon going to land on planets like earth outside our solar system, but it’s early days yet.

play by ear

play by ear

Meaning:

  • learn music by ear
  • to play by remembering the tune, without printed music
  • to play a musical instrument by remembering the tune and not by reading the music

Examples:

  1. My sister learned to play the piano by ear when she was a child.
  2. Hey, Jill I can play the keyboard by ear, without printed music.
  3. I never tried to play the guitar by ear but I can try for you.
  4. One friend of mine easily play the Saxophone by ear.
  5. After a hard work of many year finally I’ve been able to play any music instrument by ear now.

See also: play it by ear

play it by ear

play it by ear

Meaning:

  • improvise
  • act without preparation
  • to let things go as they may
  • determined on the circumstances
  • according to the demand of the situation

Examples:

  1. Rather than adopting a new academic strategy, the principal decided to play it by ear.
  2. I don’t know what I will do when she will come in front of me. Let’s just play it by ear.
  3. I am not sure whether my plan will work or not, so let just play it by ear.
  4. Jane said that she has to play it by ear because she is not sure where to go tomorrow morning.
  5. It’s hard to know how the situation will develop. Let’s just play it by ear.
  6. We can play it by ear and decide where to meet later.
  7. Question: Hey, Bob are you coming to play the baseball this Sunday?
    Answer: I am not sure Nobita, let’s play it by ear.

Origin:
Mid-1900s

See also: play by ear

do the trick

do the trick

Meaning:

  • successfully achieve a result
  • do just what is required
  • get the preferred consequence

Examples:

  1. If nothing seems to be working, just pray to the God, sometimes that does the trick.
  2. I am sure that herbal medicines will does the trick to cure your back-pain.
  3. If the lemonade tastes a bit sour, add a teaspoon of sugar that should do the trick.
  4. I am not getting network range on my mobile phone, getting on the top floor should do the trick.
  5. I am tired of running behind girls to find true love, please tell me something that do the trick.

Origin:
1375–1425; late Middle English trik (noun).

deals with

deals with someone or something

Meaning:

  • be concerned with something
  • to take action about something
  • to handle someone or something

Examples:

  1. We will have to plan our strategy to deal with the rising incident of theft.
  2. Don’t afraid of this project, this is very easy and we can deal with it.
  3. I don’t think I would be able to deal with Jones, he is very arrogant person.
  4. My brother usually deals with the people of Japan for business purposes.
  5. I am not going to deal with the property advisor; I will directly go to the owner of the house, to purchase that

Origin:
before 900; (v.) Middle English delen, Old English dǣlan (cognate with German teilen ), derivative of dǣl part (cognate with German teil).

just deserts

just deserts

  • get what one deserves
  • punishment or reward that is considered to be what the recipient deserved

Examples:

  1. After the supervisor was suspended, many workers felt that he got his just deserts.
  2. He killed my innocent bird, but got his just deserts when he was beaten by somebody for abusing.
  3. Our neighbor Mr. Jones got just deserts when he was left helpless in need by her wife, he never ever respected her.
  4. Sarah has got no sympathy for her son and husband, she got his just deserts.

Origin:
1275–1325; Middle English < Old French deserte.

Possible Confusion:
In fact its deserts, not desserts
The idiom is frequently reasonably written just desserts. Using just desserts is not a error, and it is much more common than just deserts in 21st-century texts.

in high dudgeon

in high dudgeon

Meaning:

  • feeling or exhibiting great resentment
  • taking great offense at something
  • a reaction of extreme righteous anger

Examples:

  1. After the scuffle, the man who was affronted left in high dudgeon.
  2. Julia strode from the meeting in high dudgeon, and I knew she would get his revenge eventually.
  3. Banging the door in Catty’s face, Kelly drove off in high dudgeon.
  4. Reena drove off in high dudgeon, she was waiting you for last 3 hours.
  5. John came storming into the kitchen in high dudgeon.

dribs and drabs

in dribs and drabs

Meaning:

  • in small irregular quantities
  • in small pieces, bit by bit

Examples:

  1. The checks for the charity are coming in dribs and drabs.
  2. The water is coming in dribs and drabs from the pipe.
  3. This poetry is being written in dribs and drabs.
  4. George paid the borrowed money from me in dribs and drabs.
  5. He started earning money in dribs and drabs but now he is a successful businessman.
  6. I don’t like the way you do your work in dribs and drabs, please finish it immediately.

Origin:
We currently have no information about the origin of this idiomatic expression.

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