Idioms

Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.

Idioms

Idioms beginning with B

blood is thicker than water

blood is thicker than water

Meaning

  • family relations and bonds are closer than other relationships
  • people who are related have stronger bonds with each other than with others
  • blood relations are more important than other kinds of relations

Example Sentences

  1. When you get into trouble, usually your family will be the ones to bail you out, not your friends. After all, blood is thicker than water.
  2. My friends are going for a camping trip during the weekend, but I have to help my brother with his shifting. Blood is thicker than water, you know.
  3. I had to choose between attending my cousin’s and friend’s wedding, which were on the same day, and I chose my cousin’s. Blood is thicker than water, after all.
  4. When his sister was going through a difficult period and needed support, he dropped everything and went to stand by her; blood is thicker than water.

Origin
This phrase is an old one and was used in various forms. It existed in other languages also, with the earliest probable reference being in the 12th century in German. In English, there have been references in 1412 and 1670. In the present form, it was first found in the novel “Guy Mannering” in 1815 by Sir Walter Scott.

beat around the bush

beat around the bush

also beat about the bush

Meaning

  • avoid talking about the main topic
  • not speaking directly or precisely
  • avoid the important point
  • approach indirectly
  • in a roundabout way, or too cautiously
  • speak in a roundabout, indirect or misleading way

Example Sentences

  1. Will you please stop beating about the bush and get to the point?
  2. When I asked George whether he knew who had taken the files from my desk, he started beating around the bush and refused to give me a direct answer.
  3. Don’t beat around the bush and tell me frankly what you think of my proposition.
  4. I know this discussion is an uncomfortable one, but instead of beating about the bush, let’s come to the point and get over with it.
  5. Quit beating around the bush and tell me what you really want.
  6. You will have to learn to speak clearly about what you want. You won’t get anywhere if you keep beating around the bush.
  7. Why can’t you get straight to the point instead of beating around the bush?

Origin
The origin of this phrase lies in medieval hunting. During bird hunts, some participants would rouse the birds by beating the bushes so that the others could hunt them. The phrase is a very old and the first written reference is from a medieval poem “Generydes – A Romance in Seven-line Stanzas” in 1440, which mentions “beat the bush”. The earliest version which has “about” in it is found in “Works” by George Gascoigne in 1572. The UK version of the phrase is “beat about the bush”, while the American version is “beat around the bush” and is newer and more popular today.

an item

be an item

Meaning

  • be involved in a romantic relationship
  • a couple having a romantic relationship
  • two people who are lovers

Example Sentences

  1. John and Sally are frequently seen together nowadays. Are they an item?
  2. Andy and Becky met at a club and almost immediately became an item. Last week they decided to get married. Everything happened in a rush for them.
  3. When Dave and Lisa declared that they were an item, everyone was surprised because they did not seem to have anything in common with each other.
  4. I heard that Emma and Harry have finally become an item, is it true? They would really be very good together.
  5. They have been an item for quite some time now. Do they have any plans to get married soon?
  6. When he realised that Lucy and Alex were an item, it broke his heart. He had been attracted to Lucy very much, but had been too shy to approach her.
  7. Isn’t it obvious that Kate and Mark are an item? They are always together and never seen without one another.
  8. Chris and Clara have been an item for the past one year, and last month, they decided to move in together.

Usage Variant:

  • become an item
  • are an item
  • been an item
  • being an item

Origin
The origin of the phrase is not known till now, we have tried to figure out and asked some experts but sadly, nothing is known yet.

break up | split up

break up

also split up

Meaning

  • end a romantic relationship with someone
  • end of a marriage or relationship
  • to become separated after being in a marriage or relationship

Example Sentences

  1. After having been married for eight years, their decision to break up came as a huge surprise to their friends.
  2. Tom has finally broken up with the girl he met at the club. Theirs was a relationship that was not meant to last.
  3. She split up with her boyfriend after he kept embarrassing her in front of her friends.
  4. After years of being in a miserable relationship, they finally decided to split up and go their separate ways.
  5. Celebrity break ups and split ups are the toast of the media. In their quest for the latest piece of gossip, they forget that they are dealing with human beings who are going through a difficult time.
  6. The news of their break up followed soon after his wife discovered his adulterous relationships.
  7. They had always come across as a happy and supportive couple; so when they announced that they were splitting up, it came as surprise for many.
  8. He broke up with his partner of three years when he found out that she was dating another man.

Origin
The origin of the phrase is not known.

beauty is in the eye of the beholder

beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Meaning

  • different people have different ideas and views about what is beautiful
  • not all people have the same opinions as to what is attractive or beautiful
  • the perception of beauty is subjective
  • it is not possible to judge beauty objectively
  • what one person finds beautiful may not appeal to another

Example Sentences

  1. I don’t see why he finds her attractive, I think she is downright ugly; but, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say.
  2. Jane was gushing about how handsome her partner looked in his brand new tuxedo, but I thought he was looking pretty ordinary. Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
  3. Even the ugliest of people will have someone who finds them attractive, for beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as goes the saying.
  4. I can’t believe he finally settled for that ugly little car. And he loves it too! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
  5. Well, she’s an ordinary looking girl, but if finds her attractive, good for him. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Origin
The meaning that this phrase conveys has been used since the 3rd century BC in Greek. Thereafter, it has been used in various other forms. In the current form, it was first used in 1878 by Margaret Wolfe Hungerford in her book “Molly Bawn”.

beyond the pale

beyond the pale

Meaning

  • Something that is not an acceptable way to behave.
  • An unacceptable way to express something.
  • Something that is not considered decent.

Example Sentences

  1. Nobody will want to be friends with you if you are considered beyond the pale in your social circle.
  2. They broke up because her behaviour was simply beyond the pale.
  3. One should discuss problems in a calm manner. To go beyond the pale makes coming to a reasonable conclusion a difficult thing.
  4. You have gone beyond the pale with your behaviour tonight.

Origin
The words ‘pail’ and ‘pale’ are not connected in anyway, definitely not by this phrase. ‘Pale’ as a noun refers to a pointed piece of wood. To pale the fence means to enclose an area with a fence, mostly home. Beyond the pale was hence outside the set home boundaries. In 1791, Pale of Settlement was created in Russia which separated the Jews so that they could not trade amongst the natives. There were some who lived beyond the pale still and continued interaction which was bit an acceptable act to all.

The origination of the phrase came later with John Harington’s lyric poem in the year 1657.

blazing row

blazing row

Meaning

  • a very angry argument
  • a big fight or quarrel
  • a noisy and verbal quarrel
  • an intense argument where both parties refuse to back down and are vengeful

Example Sentences

  1. After having a blazing row with his wife, he stormed out of the room and banged the door behind him.
  2. I think its best for them to separate. They are no good together and are having blazing rows with each other almost every day.
  3. The couple had a blazing row about the amount money spent on shopping in the middle of the shopping mall.
  4. The couple did not see eye to eye on most things and had blazing rows every now and then, but when it came to their child’s education, they usually agreed on what was best for him.
  5. Jim and Sally called off their wedding after they had a blazing row over their honeymoon destination.
  6. Andy cannot be reached since he stormed out of his house last night after having a blazing row with his wife.
  7. They had a blazing row with each other a couple of days back, but now they seem to have resolved their differences and are going good again.

Origin
The origin of this phrase is not known.

bob’s your uncle

bob’s your uncle

Meaning

  • It is said after a set of instructions are provided and one wants to convey that the work will be simple for the other person to do.
  • It is a conclusion to a set of simple instructions.
  • It is used to say that everything is fine and that the result of something (that is to be done) will be positive.

Example Sentences

  1. You add two cups of water to the mix, heat it for five minutes and Bob’s your uncle, the soup is ready.
  2. Just give it a good mix and apply it on the affected areas, and Bob’s your uncle, the pimple will vanish in 10 minutes.
  3. Use two table spoons of the stain wash to soak your shirt, soak for 20 minutes and Bob’s your uncle, the stain will clear out immediately.

Origin
Robert Cecil (Bob) gave his nephew the job of the Chief Secretary when he was the Prime Minister which gave rise to the expression. It was used enviously for someone who achieved something in a simple manner without having to work hard for it. The phrase is used informally. The meaning is now only to point at something that can be achieved easily and the sarcasm from the phrase is no longer in use.

born with a silver spoon in mouth

born with a silver spoon in mouth

Meaning

  • To be born to parents who are rich and have a good social rank.
  • Someone who is born into privilege and wealth.
  • Someone who is lucky.

Example Sentences

  1. He has never worked hard for anything because he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His parents brought everything to him instead.
  2. The students in this college are almost all born with silver spoons in their mouths.
  3. He does not need this job as much as I do, he is born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

Origin
The British aristocracy was popular to use silver wear when dining and the phrase is speculated to have originated from the spoons particularly because wealthy godparents had a tradition of gifting silver spoons to their godchildren when they would be christened. In 1801, the Deb. U.S. Congress used the phrase, 1801 stating that lawyers were lucky and born with a silver spoon in their mouths.

Another literary use was in 1988 by the Texas State Treasurer Ann Richards, in the keynote speaking to the US Democratic National Convention who used the phrase to describe George Bush who was born to wealthy parents.

basket case

basket case

 Meaning

  • a person or a thing that is not able to function properly
  • a failing scheme.

Example Sentences

  1. You should accept this job offer since this is your first job and that organization is a real basket case.
  2. Knowing that he is such a basket case, how could she accept to marry him?

Origin
After the First World War, the United States military had many casualties. The phrase was published in 1919 by the US Command for public information which denied that they have such service men or ‘basket cases’. It wasn’t ever publicly used to refer to any actual person.

It was an unpopular phrase which was used for men with no arms or legs and was used again after World War Two. Again it was denied that the US army had any such servicemen. Later this phrase lost some of its dark aura to mean something or someone who is unable to carry their own weight and is failing.

It originated as being applied to people, soldiers in particular, who had lost limbs and could not function by themselves and had to be carried. The phrase is less used for people now and refers to failing organizations more.

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