Idioms

Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.

Idioms

Idioms beginning with P

pull yourself together

pull yourself together

Meaning:

  • to calm down and behave normally after an upsetting event
  • to compose yourself after being angry or upset
  • to regain self control
  • to maintain your composure

Example:

  1. I know its difficult to get over your loss, but try to pull yourself together and get on with life.
  2. He had a major accident and had a hard time pulling himself together after that.
  3. Though you’ve had a hard day, it would be better for everyone if you could pull yourself together and get on with your work.
  4. I’m going through a major personal crisis, but I’ll have to pull myself together and do what is to be done.
  5. Inspite of all his misfortunes, he has pulled himself together and done well for himself.
  6. Though he suffered a shocking defeat at the hands of a lesser player, he pulled himself together and focussed on the next match.
  7. Though I did not succeed in my last business, I’ve pulled myself together and will try again.
  8. He was unable to pull himself together after he lost his entire family in the plane crash.

Origin:
The origin of this phrase is not clear.

pull a rabbit out of the hat

pull a rabbit out of the hat

Meaning:

  • do something unexpected or surprising
  • do something unorthodox but very effective to solve a problem
  • surprise others by suddenly doing something requiring a lot of skill

Example:

  1. The team was losing till almost the end, but suddenly, it pulled a rabbit out of its hat and won the contest in the dying minutes.
  2. Its difficult for the company to survive, unless the management pulls a rabbit out of its hat.
  3. Can your favorite team pull a rabbit out of the hat and win the tournament this time?
  4. The deal was about to be cancelled, but at the last moment, the sales team pulled a rabbit out of the hat and convinced the client to seal the deal.
  5. The government pulled a rabbit out of the hat and passed the bill despite strong opposition from other parties.
  6. Unless we can pull a rabbit out of the hat, our new venture will not really take off.
  7. The story was getting complicated, but in the end the author pulled a rabbit out of the hat and it all fell into place and made sense.

Origin:
This phrase originated from the magic trick whereby a magician pulls out a rabbit out of an empty hat.

part brass rags

part brass rags

Meaning:

  • quarrel and break off friendship with someone
  • to part with a friend by breaking friendship

Example:

  1. Both of them parted off rags with each other after a misunderstanding between them due to the other person.
  2. He parted brass rags with his business partner and started his own firm.
  3. You must not part brass rags with due to a mere misunderstanding. Talk to him and know the whole truth.
  4. “If I were to part brass rags with you I would die” he gave a sarcastic smile reading the years old letter from her.

Origin:
This expression has its explanations in The Tadpole of a Archangel a short story by W. P Drury written in the year 1898. According to the story When sailors want to prove the brotherly love to inspire one another, it is a ritual to keep their brass work cleaning cloth in a joint ragbag. But if their relations become unhealthy, the bag owner would throw away his brother’s rags on the deck. As the brass rags separated bitterness creeped. The phrase has it origins from the 19th century.

picture is worth a thousand words

picture is worth a thousand words

also, picture paints a thousand words

Meaning:

  • a picture conveys information more effectively than words
  • a picture can tell a story just as well as many words
  • using graphics can convey ideas more effectively than a large number of words
  • graphic illustration conveys stronger messages than words

Example:

  1. A good presentation should contain more of graphics and less of text, since a picture is worth a thousand words.
  2. In order to effectively convey the health hazards of smoking, a cigarette pack now contains a picture of diseased lungs, instead of just the statutory warning message. A picture is worth a thousand words.
  3.  The newspaper report carried more pictures of the event than text, since a picture is worth a thousand words.
  4. Its easier to learn how a machine works from pictures rather than descriptions, since a picture is worth a thousand words.
  5. It would be better if you drew out a map with the direction to the place rather than just telling me. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Origin:
This phrase originated in America in the early 1900s. Its introduction is widely attributed to Frederick R. Barnard, an advertising executive. However, other references to its origin also exist.

pull the wool over eyes

pull the wool over eyes

Meaning:

  • to deceive someone
  • to hoodwink someone
  • prevent someone from discovering something by deceiving them
  • deceive someone into thinking well of them

Example:

  1. I’m not as dumb as you think; don’t try to pull the wool over my eyes.
  2. Don’t try to pull the wool over his eyes, he’s too smart.
  3. Some people think they can get away with anything. They always try to pull the wool over others’ eyes.
  4. You can’t pull the wool over her eyes, she knows what’s going on.
  5. Most financial advisers try to pull the wool over their client’s eyes and sell them what they don’t need. They only care for their own commissions.
  6. Beware of quacks posing as doctors. They will pull the wool over your eyes and disappear with their fees.
  7. I don’t trust people who claim to have supernatural powers. I think they are just pulling the wool over people’s eyes.
  8. Are you trying to pull the wool over my eyes? I know very well what happened in there.

Origin:
The phrase originated in America in the 1800s. It is assumed that it was derived from the wearing of woollen wigs

penny for your thoughts

penny for your thoughts

Meaning:

  • used for ​wanting to ​know what another ​person is ​thinking, usually because they have not spoken for a some time
  • a way of asking what someone else is thinking

Examples:

  1. “You have been quiet for a while, a penny for your thoughts.”
  2. “You seem pretty serious. A penny for your thoughts.”
  3. For several minutes they sat in silence, finally she said “A penny for your thoughts, Maya.”
  4. Noticing that Raj was in a pensive mood, Tina said “A penny for your thoughts, Raj.”
  5. “You seem pretty pleased, a penny for your thoughts.”

Origin:
The phrase is probably older, but first written recordings of it were in the early to mid 1500s.

play by ear

play by ear

Meaning:

  • learn music by ear
  • to play by remembering the tune, without printed music
  • to play a musical instrument by remembering the tune and not by reading the music

Examples:

  1. My sister learned to play the piano by ear when she was a child.
  2. Hey, Jill I can play the keyboard by ear, without printed music.
  3. I never tried to play the guitar by ear but I can try for you.
  4. One friend of mine easily play the Saxophone by ear.
  5. After a hard work of many year finally I’ve been able to play any music instrument by ear now.

See also: play it by ear

play it by ear

play it by ear

Meaning:

  • improvise
  • act without preparation
  • to let things go as they may
  • determined on the circumstances
  • according to the demand of the situation

Examples:

  1. Rather than adopting a new academic strategy, the principal decided to play it by ear.
  2. I don’t know what I will do when she will come in front of me. Let’s just play it by ear.
  3. I am not sure whether my plan will work or not, so let just play it by ear.
  4. Jane said that she has to play it by ear because she is not sure where to go tomorrow morning.
  5. It’s hard to know how the situation will develop. Let’s just play it by ear.
  6. We can play it by ear and decide where to meet later.
  7. Question: Hey, Bob are you coming to play the baseball this Sunday?
    Answer: I am not sure Nobita, let’s play it by ear.

Origin:
Mid-1900s

See also: play by ear

play duck and drakes

play duck and drakes

Meaning:
– to carelessly misuse one’s wealth
– to behave recklessly
– use selfishly to suit oneself
– waste

duck and drakes is also a name of stone skipping or skimming game, a pastime game of throwing flat stones across water so as to make them bounce off the surface.

Examples:
1. He lost his job for playing ducks and drakes with the fund of corporation.
2. Jane played duck and drakes with the financial system of company.
3. George W. Bush had played duck and drakes with the economy of USA.
4. Hey, let’s play duck and drakes on the lake.

Origin:
1575–85; from a fancied likeness to a waterfowl’s movements.

put damper on

put a damper on

Meaning

  • to discourage someone from doing something that they want to
  • to show the negative side of something which will lead to the plan of the person wanting to do it, spoilt
  • to dull down or numb an experience that was otherwise anticipated to be enthralling or exciting
  • to make something or an experience less enjoyable than expected

Example Sentences

  1. The rain today put a damper on the picnic plans.
  2. He loves to put a damper on every plan that I make!
  3. The news of our uncle’s demise put the damper on the entire wedding event.
  4. This movie was supposed to be the best one this year and you have put a damper on it for me by revealing the climax.
  5. The rain often puts a damper on my friends’ New Year plans in this part of the world.
  6. Just because he lost his wallet does not mean that he gets to put a damper on my evening too. I am going for the party whether he wants to come along or not.
  7. We fell ill as soon as we landed which put a damper on the entire trip.
  8. The violence before the round table conference is bound to put the dampers on the peace talks.

Origin

The phrase originates in England and is speculated to be coming from the damp weather in the region.

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