Idioms

Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.

Idioms

Idioms beginning with C

curiosity killed the cat

curiosity killed the cat

Meaning

  • too much curiosity can lead to dangerous situations
  • being too inquisitive can get you into trouble
  • a prying behaviour can be harmful
  • used to warn someone not to ask too many questions about something

Example Sentences

  1. When he started asking too many questions of his neighbours about their whereabouts during the weekend, they warned him that curiosity killed the cat.
  2. When Jane asked George where he was going at the middle of the night, he replied that curiosity killed the cat.
  3. Joe was very curious about where Sarah was getting all her money from, but all she said was that curiosity killed the cat.
  4. He refused to answer any of our questions regarding where he spent his vacation, saying instead “curiosity killed the cat”.
  5. Though he knew all about the matter, he refused to divulge it to anyone, only saying that curiosity killed the cat.
  6. “Where are you going all of a sudden?” he asked. “Curiosity killed the cat” she replied.

Origin
The original expression was “care killed the cat”, where care was used to denote worry or sorrow. That original expression was first recorded in 1598 in Ben Jonson’s play “Every Man in His Humour.” The current expression with “curiosity” is much newer, and the earliest record can be found in 1898 in The Galveston Daily News.

cup of joe

cup of joe

also cup o’ joecuppa joe

Meaning

  • a cup of coffee

Example Sentences

  1. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is make myself a cup of joe.
  2. I am going to the coffee shop for a cup of joe.
  3. Nothing energizes me more than a cup of joe in the morning.
  4. That long meeting has given me bad headache. What I really need now is a strong cup of joe.
  5. I can’t really think straight in the morning until I have had my first cup of joe.
  6. We’ve been travelling for quite some time. Let’s stop somewhere for a cup of joe.
  7. Where can I get a good cup of joe around here?
  8. I am going for a cup of joe; anyone interested?

Origin
The expression originated in the USA, however, why coffee is refereed to as “joe” is unclear, though there are a number of interesting theories. One theory is that the when the then US Navy Secretary, Josephus Daniels, banned alcohol on ships in 1914, the sailors drank coffee instead and grudgingly referred to it as a cup of joe. Another theory is that the term is a short form of “jamoke”, which itself is a combination of Java and Mocha, which are two types of coffee. A third theory says that joe is used as in “average Joe’, that is, is common man. Hence a cup of joe is a common man’s drink. Yet another theory says that during World War I, US soldiers were served instant coffee made by G. Washington Coffee Refining Company and referred to it as a cup of George, later shortened to cup of Geo, which would then be corrupted to cup of joe.

come hell or high water

come hell or high water

Meaning

  • come what may
  • any difficulties or obstacles that may occur
  • no matter what happens
  • no matter how difficult it is

Example Sentences

  1. I want to complete this report by today, come hell or high water.
  2. He said he will be going for the trip, come hell or high water.
  3. His boss said he wanted the project completed by the end of the week, come hell or high water.
  4. She said she had planned her vacation since a year and she would be going for it, come hell or high water.
  5. He said he would leave by evening, come hell or high water, since he had an appointment with his dentist and he did not want to miss it.
  6. My friend has started up a new company and he wants it to be successful, come hell or high water.
  7. He said he wanted to shift into his new home by the end of the year, come hell or high water.
  8. I will be there for your wedding, come hell or high water.

Origin
The phrase originated in America around the mid 1800s and the earliest print reference is from 1882 in an Iowa newspaper, The Burlington Weekly Hawk Eye. However, why hell or high water is referenced to as obstacles is not clear.

close, but no cigar

close, but no cigar

Meaning

  • be very close to accomplishing a goal but fall short
  • almost successful in doing something, but not quite
  • fall just short of a desired outcome, and get nothing for the efforts
  • nearly, but not completely correct

Example Sentences

  1. You did quite well for someone who was playing for the first time. You attempt for close, but no cigar.
  2. Close, but no cigar; is how I would describe his attempt at the sports event in our locality.
  3. “How did your team do in the tournament?” “Close, but no cigar; we came second.”
  4. Despite all his attempts at winning the competition, he could never quite do it. It was always close, but no cigar.
  5. The team’s performance in the contest was close, but no cigar.
  6. He had always wanted to win that prize and on numerous occasions had been close, but no cigar. This time, though, he managed to win it.
  7. They didn’t quite catch him doing it. They were close, but no cigar.

Origin
The phrase originated in the US during the mid 20th century. It alludes to the practice of stalls at fairgrounds and carnivals giving out cigars as prizes. This phrase would be used for those who were close to winning a prize, but failed to do so.

chow down

chow down

Meaning

  • to eat something, usually quickly or vigorously
  • eat greedily or without good manners
  • eat heartily
  • sit down to eat

Example Sentences

  1. Is the food ready yet? I am hungry and ready to chow down all you have got.
  2. At the end of a long trek, we were all hungry and ready to chow down whatever was offered for dinner.
  3. Chow down man! Once we start our journey you will not get anything to eat for almost four to five hours.
  4. He was very busy that day and chowed down his lunch in five minutes before rushing off to attend to his work.
  5. The stray dog was skinny and looked famished, and when I threw my half eaten sandwich at him, he chowed it down in no time.
  6. The food looks delicious! Let’s chow down without wasting any time.
  7. Eager to go out and play with his friends, the little boy chowed down his food and ran off outside.

Origin
The term Chow is a slag for food and has origins in Chinese and pidgin English and has been used since the mid 19th century. The phrase “chow down” originated in the USA sometime around the World War II and was a military slang for eating. The earliest printed record is found in “The Hammond Times” from December 1942.

can’t stand the sight of

can’t stand the sight of

Meaning

  • to hate someone very much
  • to strongly dislike someone
  • cannot tolerate someone
  • be unable to put up with someone

Example Sentences

  1. After years of being in an unhappy marriage and later going through an ugly divorce, they now can’t stand the sight of each other.
  2. They were friends once, but sometime back they had a huge argument, calling each other names publicly, and since then they can’t stand the sight of each other.
  3. He can’t stand the sight of her after she dumped him and started dating his rival from college.
  4. You have hurt her a lot and right now, she can’t stand the sight of you. Give it some time and see if you can make her come around.
  5. Jane can’t stand the sight of that woman. She blames her for having broken her marriage up.
  6. Andy says he thinks Sue is a big snob and he can’t stand the sight of her; but I think it’s because he feels he is not good enough for her.
  7. If you can’t stand the sight of them why did you invite them over to your house?
  8. He’s not going to the party because he can’t stand the sight of some of the people who are coming.

Origin
The phrase “can’t stand” meaning to dislike originated in the early 1600s.

cupboard love

cupboard love

Meaning

  • affection given in order to gain a reward
  • love shown by someone in order to get what they want
  • love given in order to get something from someone
  • a show of love inspired by some selfish or greedy motive
  • a show a love that stems from the hope of some gain
  • insincere or superficial love motivated by selfish interest

Example Sentences

  1. I had suspected all along that Jane’s affair with that man was just cupboard love. What she really liked about him was his big mansion and luxurious car.
  2. They children usually never pay much attention to the old man, though he tries to speak with them; but they show him a lot of cupboard love when he get some candies and chocolates for them.
  3. I believe its just cupboard love that holds them together. She loves the security he provides and he loves her great cooking.
  4. It’s cupboard love for sure between those two, but let’s hope it is good while it lasts.
  5. In a typical display of cupboard love, the child ran to her and jumped into her lap as soon as she brought out the toy she had got for him
  6. It’s cupboard love I know, but at least they will be fond of me for as long as I keep bringing them gifts.

Origin
This phrase originated in the mid 1700s. It derives from the way a cat shows superficial love for a person who feeds it, or for the cupboard that holds its food.

chew the fat

chew the fat

Meaning

  • to have friendly banter for hours on end
  • a long and informal conversation with someone
  • to gossip with friends at leisure

Example Sentences

  1. I’ve been meaning to get a hold of my friends from US since quite a while, if I can manage to do that after the party then I’ll go and chew the fat with them at our regular hangout.
  2. How nice to see you here. Have a seat and let’s chew the fat for a while.
  3. The whole purpose for having this event is so that school friends can come together and chew the fat. That is why it is known as a reunion.

Origin
Chewing the fat is speculated to be something that was done at leisure by the North American Indians. Farmers in Britain would chew on pork fat when sitting idle or chatting with other farmers. It is also speculated to be an activity that sailors would do. They would have hardened and salted animal fat which would provide nutrients when on a voyage but would be required to be chewed for a long time. This became a routine activity where friends would gossip and thus from the literal meaning it is now used metaphorically. There is no evidence to support this speculation though.

Another speculation is the fact that the phrase originates from the actual movement of the mouth when chewing fat which resembles when friends get together to gossip. Both activities require the mouth to move for a long time. In 1885, J Brunlees Patterson used it in his literary work called ‘Life in the Ranks of the British Army in India’.

catch eye

catch eye

Meaning

  • be noticed by someone
  • attract someone’s attention
  • make eye contact with someone
  • to get someone’s attention by looking at them

Example Sentences

  1. While we were driving down the road, a small shop selling beautiful potteries caught my eye.
  2. The restaurant was a busy one, and it was quite some time before we managed to catch the waiter’s eye.
  3. Mary was gazing at the mountains beyond when Jason caught her eye and beckoned her.
  4. That shiny red car at the showroom had really caught my eye; I wanted to but it right away before good sense prevailed.
  5. Bob had taken a fancy to the new girl in the neighbourhood and went about trying to catch her eye during a get together organized by the local community.
  6. Sam was getting very chatty and was about to give my secret away when I finally managed to catch his eye and signal him to stop.
  7. Andy was desperately trying to catch Rebecca’s eyes at the party but she kept ignoring him – it looked like they had had a big fight about something.
  8. The vase at a friend’s house had caught my wife’s eye – she wanted something like that for herslf.

Origin
The origin of the idiom is not known.

class clown

class clown

Meaning

  • A wiseacre.
  • Someone who stands out in a class because he makes constant jokes and pokes fun at people.
  • A student who is funny and uses his wit to make others laugh.

Example Sentences

  1. He is the class clown with the constant talking and making fun of others.
  2. Your father doesn’t always look like it but he was quite a class clown in his days.
  3. A class clown makes fun of people but should be sporting enough to be able to laugh at himself.
  4. It was shocking to see him so serious after the results were out. Otherwise he is such a class clown.
  5. It seems to be the responsibility of the class clown to cheer everyone up after some bad moments. You in particular are very good at it.
  6. Not many people know that he has such a painful past and has been admitted in the hospital so many time from the class clown demeanour that he carries currently.
  7. A class clown is an integral part of the high school composition, just as the nerds, the jocks the cheer leaders and the rest.
  8. Although teachers punish class clowns, they seem to be their favourite students.

Origin
The origin of this phrase is unavailable.

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