Idioms

Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.

Idioms

Idioms beginning with B

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.

bug

bug someone

Meaning

  • To bother or irritate someone.
  • Used to describe a person who is annoying or irritating.
  • To put a recording device on someone so that all of the moves that they make can be recorded and used against them as evidence.

Example Sentences

  1. The squadron leader bugged the military man in order to find out if he was a spy for the enemy.
  2. I have asked your brother to not bug you until you have finished studying for the exam.
  3. The paparazzi are often seen bugging celebrities for pictures and interviews.
  4. He is such a bug, he just won’t take the hint that I do not like him.
  5. Bugging your mother is not going to get you extra sweets for lunch, you can try t though.
  6. He was in no mood to be bugged today so he went straight to bed after dinner.
  7. It is common between siblings to bug each other regularly. But it is not acceptable for an outsider to do so.
  8. Most people don’t understand their boundaries and end up bugging her for her life story.

Origin
The literary origin of the phrase is no available. Speculation does point to the use of ‘bug’ as something irritating as is the nature of insects. It appears to be a modern day phrase.

bug-eyed

bug-eyed

Meaning

  • The bulging of the eyes out is known as being bug eyed.
  • It represents someone having seen something that is extraordinary that causes their eyes to pop out.
  • Bug-eyed refers to looking at a person’s loved one also.
  • Something amazing or superlative positive makes people bug eyed. It used to refer to being frightened too but is now only used to reflect amazement.

Example Sentences

  1. I was bug eyed looking at her wedding dress and jewelry. Her parents have gone over and above to see her happy.
  2. The children were bug-eyed looking at that massive cookie that was made as an attempt to enter the world records. Of course they helped in eating it after the entry was made.
  3. She spends so much time on her hair and make-up whenever she is about to go for her party. But today I was bug-eyed looking at her dress up for work too.
  4. When looking for ancient artefacts the archaeologists were bug-eyed at finding so many clay idols at one site.
  5. The way he scored all those runs for his team, the match made everyone watching it bug eyed.

Origin
The origin of this phrase is not available.

before one can say Jack Robinson

before one can say Jack Robinson

Meaning

  • very suddenly
  • in a very short duration

Example Sentences

  1. I wanted to have a meaningful conversation with him when he was back from work but he was gone before I could say Jack Robinson.
  2. Men always tend to avoid messy subjects and arguments. They would be gone before you can say Jack Robinson, mark my words.
  3. His house was already built before one could say Jack Robinson.
  4. The judge sentenced him to life imprisonment before the defense lawyer could say Jack Robinson.
  5. After the professional fees were announced, the patient disappeared from the ward before the nurse could say Jack Robinson.

Origin
There was no such figure recorded in history named Jack Robinson who was quick on his feet and hence gained reputation through this phrase. At one point in time there was a Sir John Robinson who was the guard of the Tower of London who would behead inmates at a record speed but historians believe that the phrase was coined before his time. Jack Robinson seems to be a made up figure like Santa Claus or Jack Frost. In 1778, Mme. Frances D’Arblay, used this phrase in her work which was a romantic novel.

baby blues

baby blues

Meaning

  • The depression that is caused to new mothers after childbirth.
  • Anxious behaviour following childbirth.

Example Sentences

  1. Do not speak to her in a rude tone, she is just going through some baby blues right now and needs compassion from you.
  2. Mothers often go through a phase of baby blues after their bundle of joy arrives.
  3. Baby blues do not have a definitive remedy but if your condition is severe then a visit to a psychiatrist will do you good. This was the advice that her gynecologist gave to her when she spoke about extreme anxiety issues.
  4. There is no such thing as chronic baby blues. It passes with time.
  5. Now a days even new dads face baby blues, it is a serious condition according to many studies.

Origin
The term baby blues was in existence even before the World War 2, but at that time it was referred to the blue eyes that most babies were born with. This was because of the lack of melanin pigmentation in the children. This phrase has taken to mean what it means today after Nicholson J. Eastman coined the term in his book Expectant Motherhood in the year 1940. He also wrote in his book’s later edition that to avoid the baby blue condition, expecting mothers should not have more than 10 cigarettes in a day.

break a leg

break a leg

Meaning:

  • good luck
  • best wishes
  • to wish someone luck especially before a performance

Example:

  1. “Break a leg!” shouted the stage director to his actors before the beginning of the play.
  2. You have an exam tomorrow? Break a leg!
  3. “My first stage performance is scheduled for tonight.” “Well, break a leg!”
  4. “Break a leg!” I shouted out to him before he rushed in for his auditions.
  5. When the team went out for the final race, the coach shouted out to them “break a leg!”

Origin:
This phrase has its origin in the world of theatre. Performers had a superstition that saying “good luck” would actually bring them bad luck, so “break a leg” was used instead.

between a rock and a hard place

between a rock and a hard place

Meaning:

  • having two very bad choices
  • in a very difficult situation
  • facing a hard decision
  • having two equally unpleasant or unacceptable options

Example:

  1. I hate my job but cannot quit owing to my economic condition. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place
  2. I can’t make up my mind whose side I am on; I’m caught between a rock and a hard place
  3. He was caught between a rock and a hard place. If he accepted the offer, he would have to work long hours with low pay, if he didn’t, he would lose his livelihood.
  4. Our company was caught between a rock and a hard place. If we made the deal, we would make a monetary loss and if we didn’t, we would lose our reputation.
  5. They are both my brothers! I can’t go against either of them. I am stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Origin:
This phrase originated in USA in the early 1900s. Several other phrases having the same meaning also exist in many cultures. This phrase was used during an economic crisis when mining workers faced low wages working at the rock face on one hand and unemployment and poverty on the other if the refused to work.

blow away

blow away

Meaning:

  • impress someone very much
  • surprise or please someone greatly
  • overwhelm someone

Example:

  1. This new has has such an interesting story and an amazing ending that it just blew me away.
  2. You must visit the exhibition that’s being held in that gallery. It has so many beautiful paintings, it will blow you away.
  3. The teacher was blown away by the poems written by his students.
  4. The champion player was blown away watching the performance of the teenage prodigy.
  5. This movie is so amazing, it will just blow you away.
  6. The young and new team blew everyone away by their terrific performances in their inaugural competition.
  7. The stories of his adventures during his trekking trip will blow you away.
  8. He is such a good guitarist. His performance blew me away.

Origin:
This phrase originated in the late 1500s.

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