Idioms

Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.

Idioms

Idioms beginning with C

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 of 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.

clam up

clam up

Meaning

  • refusal to talk further or reply
  • to not give out any information
  • to close down when danger is sensed

Example Sentences

  1. She clams up every time I walk in, it is worrisome.
  2. The thief clammed up when he was taken for interrogation by the police, they could not get any information from him.
  3. Her son clams up every time he feels guilty of something.
  4. He was talking about something but clammed up the minute his wife entered. Maybe they aren’t getting along that well anymore.
  5. They ought to share more things between the two of them, clamming up in a marriage is never a good sign.
  6. The human resources team member will come and speak with her now. She seems too shocked with the incident and has clammed up completely.
  7. Psychiatrists have to regularly deal with patients that have clammed up. It sometimes takes hours and days but they do not give up.

Origin
A speculation is that the clamming up or shutting down comes from actual clams that shut down when the see any danger approaching. The literary origin of the phrase is however, unavailable.

call of the wild

the call of the wild

Meaning

  • It talks about nature appealing to a person.
  • Raw emotions, mostly volatile in nature are represented through this phrase.
  • It is referred to for people who show a spurt of emotions, although not necessarily so.
  • It is also used as wanting to get back to nature, but the phrase is sparingly used in that context.

Example Sentences

  1. How could he hurt her like that? He has always been so nice, talk about the call of the wild!
  2. It was a real call of the wild that he roughed up the cop so badly. Let me tell you that he is in trouble for a very long time because of his rage now.
  3. She must have had a call of the wild to treat such a small child in this way.
  4. He quit his job and went for a month long trek. He has had many such urges and calls of the wild in the past too.

Origin
This phrase has been made popular by a novel that was published by Jack London in the year 1903. The novel had the same name as the phrase. It originates from earlier than that according to historians but there is no literary proof of the same.

call a spade a spade

call a spade a spade

Meaning

  • This phrase means to say something the way it is.
  • To not dress the truth up and speak in a straight forward manner.
  • It is used when the description of something is given in an honest manner.

Example Sentences

  1. That dress made her look fat, let’s call a spade a spade before she goes out wearing it and embarrasses herself.
  2. He failed the exam twice. If you were to call a spade a spade then you would not push him to give it again.
  3. Parents are often reluctant to see any faults in their children. It is always better to call a spade a spade rather than spoiling the children with this behaviour.

Origin
The phrase is said to have originated from the slang that was used for Negros, which is ‘spade’. This was used in a derogatory manner in the United States and was popular in the early 20th century.

The first known publication of this term precisely is from John Trapp’s work in 1647 where he claims that God’s people would call a spade a spade and a niggard a niggard. The term niggard here does not necessarily refer to Negros but could be an indication of the misers at the time.

cold turkey

cold turkey

Meaning

  • stop a habit (esp. bad habit) suddenly
  • stop a habit without tapering off
  • withdraw abruptly and completely

Example Sentences

  1. He had been trying to quit smoking since a year but couldn’t, so he decided to go cold turkey.
  2. When drug addicts go cold turkey they experience a period of extreme suffering.
  3. He went cold turkey on his drinking habit two years ago and hasn’t had a drink since.
  4. If you are unable to control your habit, consider going cold turkey.
  5. To cure his addiction to video games, he decided to go cold turkey and gave his entire collection away.
  6. The experts quit cold turkey, leaving the part timers to finish the job.
  7. He had been addicted to dating apps lately, so he decided to go cold turkey and deleted all of them.
  8. If all other attempts at quitting fails, you should go cold turkey.

Origin
This phrase originated in the early 1900s. Initial usage points to a meaning of something happening abruptly. Since 1921, it referred to a treatment of drug addiction, where the addict was made to quit abruptly. Now, it means breaking any habit abruptly, but is mostly used for bad habits.

cut to the chase

cut to the chase

Meaning:

  • come to the point
  • leave out all unnecessary details
  • focus on the major point
  • say only what is important and leave out minor details

Example:

  1. We haven’t got all day for this discussion. Let’s cut to the chase.
  2. After the customary greetings and handshakes, we cut to the chase and began negotiating with our clients.
  3. He was busy with his work, so I cut to the chase and told him that the project had been cancelled.
  4. I don’t have time for idle talk, so cut to the chase and tell me what you want.
  5. I can see that you are busy, so I’ll cut to the chase. I need you to lend me a large amount of money.
  6. As soon as everyone was assembled, the team cut to the chase and began the discussion.
  7. I’ll cut to the chase and tell you the main problem. Your car has a faulty engine.

Origin:
This phrase originated in the US film industry. Many silent films used to have a romantic storyline that climaxed in a chase sequence. The phrase was used in a literal sense in directing films around the 1920s. In the figurative or idiomatic was, it was used since the 1940s.

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