Idioms

Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.

Idioms

great minds think alike

great minds think alike

Meaning

  • Thoughts of very intelligent people are similar to each other
  • Intelligent people come up with the same ideas at the same time.
  • Used playfully to imply that two people have the same views

Example Sentences

  1. The two of us had the same idea at the same time. Well, great minds think alike!
  2. “Let’s break for lunch.” “I was thinking of the same thing, great minds think alike!”
  3. Its strange how two different people wrote about the same thing in different places and arrived at similar conclusions! Indeed, great minds think alike.
  4. While it is said that great minds think alike; it is also true that great minds are great because they think differently from others.
  5. Both of us made the same decision. Good, great minds think alike.

Origin
The phrase, in this exact form, is found in Carl Theodor von Unlanski’s biography “The woful history of the unfortunate Eudoxia” in 1816. The idea behind the phrase, however, is older, and dates back to the 17th century.

It is believed by some that this phrase is the shortened form of another one, which is “great minds think alike, small minds rarely differ” or “great minds think alike, and fools seldom differ”, however, this version changes the meaning of the phrase.

good Samaritan

good Samaritan

Meaning

  • someone who tries to help people in trouble or need
  • a compassionate person who helps others unselfishly
  • a person who helps others without any thoughts of a reward or compensation

Example Sentences

  1. The beggar was lying shivering on the road when a good Samaritan came along and gave him a blanket and some warm clothes.
  2. If it had not been for a good Samaritan who rushed him to the hospital, the accident victim would not have been living today.
  3. He was toiling hard in the hot sun when a good Samaritan came along and offered him a bottle of water.
  4. Seeing that the child was lost, the good Samaritan took her to the authorities and helped her find her parents.
  5. He is really a good Samaritan. Every time he sees someone needing help, he jumps in and helps them.

Origin
The phrase is an ancient one and originated in the Bible, from the parables of Jesus (Luke 10:30-35). The parable speaks of a traveller who was robbed, beaten, stripped and left half dead alongside the road. A priest and a Levite come by and ignore him. Finally, a Samaritan comes by and helps him. The phrase was used figuratively in English in the 17th century, in Peter Chamberlen’s book “The Poore Mans Advocate, or, Englands Samaritan” in 1649.

go out on a limb

go out on a limb

Meaning

  • do or say something that is different from most other people
  • get into a position where you are not supported by others
  • take a wild guess
  • get into a tough or disadvantaged position in order to support someone
  • get into a risky situation in order to help someone else

Example Sentences

  1. During an analysis of the news, he went out on a limb and expressed an opinion that was opposite to that held by the general public.
  2. He went out on a limb trying to support the views of his colleague and in the process earned the ire of his boss.
  3. Considering the fact that almost everyone is against him getting that post, would you really go out on a limb and support his candidature?
  4. True to his character, he went out on a limb and expressed views that were exactly opposite to what everyone else wanted.
  5. I’m not going to go out on a limb every time and support you for your goof ups.

Origin
The phrase alludes to climbing trees and going out on a branch (limb) of it. There is a risk that the branch might break under the weight. It originated in America around the late 1800s. An early print reference can be found in the Steubenville Daily Herald, in October 1895.

go for broke

go for broke

Meaning

  • risk everything and go for an all out effort
  • try as hard as possible
  • gamble everything you have
  • try everything possible to achieve something

Example Sentences

  1. Realizing that they would be out of the competition if they lost this match, the players went for broke.
  2. This is my last chance to achieve what I want. I am going to go for broke.
  3. If you really want to become a successful actor, go for broke. Give up everything else and focus only on your acting career.
  4. If you decide to go for broke, you can’t be thinking about what will happen if you fail.
  5. Realizing that he was trailing in his campaign, the politician decided to go for broke and raked up sensitive and dodgy issues.
  6. The sportsman went for broke in his quest for a berth in the prestigious event.

Origin
The phrase originated in the Hawaiian Pidgin English. It is slang used in the game craps, which is dice game where a player makes wagers on the outcome of the roll of a dice. The phrase was used to mean to wager everything on a single roll of dice, thus, if the player lost, he would be broke, or bankrupt. It was also the motto of the Japanese-American military unit 442nd Infantry Regiment during the World War II. The phrase was popularized during this time.

go down like a lead balloon

go down like a lead balloon

also go over like a lead balloon

Meaning

  • be poorly received by an audience
  • an act or show that the audience do not like at all
  • fail completely and be considered a flop by the public
  • be completely unsuccessful or unpopular
  • a total failure
  • fall flat

Example Sentences

  1. The joke he cracked went down like a lead balloon.
  2. The issue that the politician raised in his speech went down like a lead balloon with the public.
  3. His idea about the new product went down like a lead balloon.
  4. Your plan for this project would go down like a lead balloon with the stakeholders.
  5. His first public show as a musician went down like a lead balloon.
  6. The proposal to cut the expenses went down like a lead balloon.

Origin
The phrase originated in America and was first referenced in a Mom-N Pop cartoon that appeared in several US newspapers in June 1924. After that, the phrase was not used again until after the World War II, in the The Atchison Daily Globe, in May 1947. Since then, the phrase entered the mainstream language and has been in use. “Go over like a lead balloon” is the US version while “Go down like a lead balloon” is the UK version of the phrase.

give the slip

give the slip

Meaning

  • to get away
  • to escape from someone
  • to evade someone

Example Sentences

  1. The police were on the criminal’s trail but in the end he managed to give them the slip.
  2. A huge media contingent was waiting for him but the celebrity gave them the slip by exiting quietly through the back door.
  3. All of us chased the thief but he managed to give us the slip by climbing over the high wall.
  4. The security team thought they had the intruder cornered, but with a slick manoeuvre, he gave them the slip.
  5. The player managed to give the defenders of the opposing team the slip and scored an important goal for his team.
  6. The streaker gave the guards the slip and ran into the field, holding up the play for almost ten minutes.
  7. The police chased him throughout the country for three days but the convict finally managed to give them the slip and vanished.
  8. The prisoners were supposed to be shifted to a different enclosure that day, but during the transit, they managed to give their captors the slip and vanished into the wilderness.

Origin
The phrase originated around the mid 1500s.

get over it

get over it

Meaning

  • accept something and move on
  • move beyond something that is bothering you
  • don’t dwell on something unpleasant that has happened in the past
  • don’t be concerned with what has happened and cannot be changed

Example Sentences

  1. I know you are bitter about losing that job, but try to get over it and find another one.
  2. He was depressed after his girlfriend broke up with him, but with a lot of support from his friends, he tried to get over it and move on.
  3. Why do you keep coming back to something that happened years ago? Get over it, you cannot change what has happened.
  4. Get over it, you are doing yourself no good by worrying over what you cannot change.
  5. Instead of thinking about why you lost the last game, why don’t you get over it and focus on winning the next one?

Origin
The term “get over” has been used in the sense of “recover from” since centuries. It is believed that the term was used from at least the 14th century. In literature, we have the phrase in John Behervaise’s “Thirty-six Years of Seafaring Life”, published in 1839. Around the early 1990s, the phrase began to be used as a single, standalone sentence in the USA.

get down to brass tacks

get down to brass tacks

Meaning

  • talk about the important things
  • get down to the basic facts and realities
  • get serious about something
  • talk about the real issue or problem

Example Sentences

  1. We have been chatting around for quite some time. Let’s get down to brass tacks and discuss what we are really here for.
  2. They finally got down to brass tacks and discussed the issue that was really bothering them.
  3. After exchanging pleasantries with each other, the heads of the two companies got down to brass tacks and discussed the terms for the proposed merger.
  4. It is time to stop beating about the bush and get down to brass tacks.
  5. Let’s get down to brass tacks right away and wrap up this discussion quickly. There’s no use wasting time discussing other things.
  6. We should get down to brass tacks and discuss how we can finish this project on time.
  7. Without wasting much time, they got down to brass tacks and soon emerged with a solution that was acceptable to everyone.
  8. The family got down to brass tacks and discussed the issue of inheritance as he had left no will.

Origin
The phrase originated in USA in about the 1860s and the first printed record is from the Texas newspaper The Tri-Weekly Telegraph in January 1863.

rags to riches

rags to riches

Meaning

  • go from being very poor to being very wealthy
  • be very poor in the beginning then later become very rich
  • go from poverty to wealth

Example Sentences

  1. He went from rags to riches after his roadside performances were noticed by a famous movie maker and he was offered roles in his movies.
  2. His journey has been one of rags to riches. He started out as a street vendor but now is the owner of a big business.
  3. He grew up in abject poverty, but now is the highest paid sportsperson in the country. His story is really one of going from rags to riches.
  4. He was inspired after reading the rags-to-riches story of his favourite film star.
  5. Most people like a real life rags-to-riches story. It gives us hope in an otherwise tough world.
  6. Her story was one of going from rags to riches. She had nothing while growing up, now she is the creator of a famous fashion brand.
  7. She started by selling fast food on the street, but her recipe was so good that she quickly went from rags to riches and now she has her own restaurant.

Origin
The origin of the phrase is not very clear. However, history is replete with characters who have risen from the depths of poverty to the heights of power and wealth.

foam at the mouth

foam at the mouth

Meaning

  • be extremely angry
  • be enraged and show it
  • show uncontrollable anger
  • display furious rage

Example Sentences

  1. She was foaming at the mouth when she heard of her child’s misdeeds.
  2. He was foaming at the mouth when he realized that important papers had been stolen from his office.
  3. The boss was foaming at the mouth when the team could not deliver the work on time.
  4. He was foaming at the mouth when he heard about the cost of repairing the damage.
  5. She was foaming at the mouth when she heard that the decision had gone against her.
  6. He stood at his door, foaming at the mouth, showering expletives at the miscreants who had damaged his lawn.
  7. When he found out about the robbery, he was foaming at the mouth with uncontrollable rage.
  8. The boy was foaming at the mouth, throwing things around and destroying whatever came in his way.

Origin
The phrase has a literal origin. Dogs and other animals affected by rabies foam at the mouth while in stupor, which looks like they are in anger. This phenomenon can affect humans also. The earliest usage can be traced to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in 1601.

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