Idioms

Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.

Idioms

zenith of career or life

zenith of career or life

Meaning

  • the highest pinnacle of a person’s career or life
  • the apex of a person’s career or life

Example Sentences

  1. The birth of his daughter was the zenith of his life.
  2. Winning the tender for the reconstruction of Taj Mahal was the zenith of her career.
  3. The opportunity to sing in the New York Philharmonics was the zenith of his musical career.
  4. Before I retired I had reached the zenith of my career.
  5. Massa can look back on that season as the year that he reached the zenith of his career.
  6. In February when Cruz resoundingly won the Iowa elections, largely through months of cultivating grass-roots support in the state making it the zenith of his career.
  7. The video for the best song, “Cream,” was the zenith  32-year-old Prince’s career.

Origin

The origin of this word is from the imprecise  scrutiny of the Arabic expression سمت الرأس (samt ar-ra’s),which translates to “direction of the head” or “path above the head” during the 14th century by medieval Spanish clerk. It was reduced to ‘samt’ (“direction”) and miswritten as ‘senit’/’cenit’, as the “m” was misread as an “ni”. The word Zenith was first used as ‘cenith’ in the 17th century by the old french.

pedal to the metal

pedal to the metal

Meaning

  • do something at full speed
  • push something forward as fast and as hard as possible
  • put in maximum effort to do something
  • make something go forward as fast as you can

Example Sentences

  1. I need to submit this assignment in two days’ time. I have to put pedal to the metal else I will miss the deadline.
  2. We are running behind schedule. Unless we put pedal to the metal we won’t be able to submit the proposal on time.
  3. Let’s put pedal to the metal and finish this job fast, then we can plan for our next step.
  4. You are running late. You are going to miss the plane unless you put pedal to the metal.
  5. We hardly have time left for the event. We have to put pedal to the metal and make sure all the arrangements are in place.
  6. When he realized that he would not be able to finish the work in time if he continued at the same pace, he put pedal to the metal and completed it a day early.

Origin

The phrase originated during the 1950s when the floorboards of cars were made of metal. Drivers, especially racers, would press the accelerator all the way down to touch the floorboards to make the cars go as fast as possible.

out on the town

out on the town

Meaning

  • go out and enjoy yourself at one or more places in the town
  • go out for entertainment or celebration
  • go to pubs, bars, restaurants or nightclubs to enjoy yourself

Example Sentences

  1. All of us slept till late afternoon after we had a night out on the town and returned after dawn.
  2. She has gone out on the town with her friends to celebrate getting selected for the job she always wanted.
  3. After having beaten the opposition comfortably, the players went out on the town to celebrate their win.
  4. We have had a crazy week at work. Let’s go out on the town and enjoy ourselves to beat the stress.
  5. When our old friend came to visit us after a long time, we went out on the town and had a great time together.
  6. Once they had won the competition, they all went out on the town to celebrate their success.

Origin

The origin of the phrase is unclear. It might have originated in the early 1700s in other forms, but was not very popular. It gained popularity in the mid 1900s, after a stage show called “Out On The Town” was performed in 1944 and a film by the same name came out in 1949.

on the same page

on the same page

Meaning

  • everyone in agreement
  • multiple people having the same understanding
  • having the same information or knowledge
  • thinking in the same way

Example Sentences

  1. Before we begin with the discussion, I want to make sure that all of us are on the same page.
  2. Let us discuss this internally first so that we are on the same page before we speak to the customer.
  3. I don’t think we are on the same page regarding this. I will explain to you exactly what I think, please listen to me carefully.
  4. The confusion arose because they were not on the same page. He was talking of one thing and was referring to something else.
  5. Since you were not present yesterday, I’ll quickly update you about what happened so that we are on the same page.

Origin

The origin of the phrase is unclear. It is sometimes attributed to singing in a choir, where all the singers had to be on the same page. It is also possible to have originated in classes and meetings, where everyone had to be reading the same page to understand what was being discussed. The first written reference in this exact form is from 1979, but the phrase probably existed before that too.

on pins and needles

on pins and needles

Meaning

  • being anxious or nervous
  • agitated, or in suspense
  • in a worried or excited state
  • to be tense
  • waiting nervously for something

Example Sentences

  1. We have been on pins and needles since we got the news that she had been stranded in the hills amidst a landslide.
  2. He has been on pins and needles all day today, waiting for a call from the company he had applied to for a job.
  3. Make sure that you inform me once you reach; I’ll be on pins and needles until I hear from you.
  4. When his wife went into labour and was shifted to the delivery room, he became very anxious and seemed to be on pins and needles.
  5. My brother has been on pins and needles since yesterday as his exam results are scheduled to be declared today.
  6. She has been on pins and needles since her son went out on his first camping trip with friends.
  7. Following reports of gunfire and casualties near his wife’s workplace, he was on pins and needles until she called him to say she was safe.

Origin

The phrase originated in the early 1800s, and refers to the sharp, tingling and uncomfortable sensation experienced when recovering from numbness.

off the record

off the record

Meaning

  • an informal or unofficial statement
  • comments or statements made in confidence and not to be published or recorded
  • a statement not to be attributed to the one who made it
  • not to be known publicly

Example Sentences

  1. I will give you the information regarding what really happened, but strictly off the record.
  2. He candidates comments were meant to be off the record, but the press reported it and it created a huge controversy.
  3. The actress’s off the record comments about her co star’s appearance were leaked to the media causing much embarrassment to both of them.
  4. She made it clear that her statement was off the record and could not be published anywhere or attributed to her.
  5. Off the record, he let me on to the secret strategy that his company was using to hook customers to their products.
  6. The conversation between the security advisers of the two agencies was completely secret and off the record, and it was to be reported that they never met.
  7. After the interview, the sportsman gave the reporters some off the record snippets of what went on in the locker room.
  8. “This is off the record right now, but we might announce a large bonus this year,” the manager said, much to the cheer of his employees.

Origin

The phrase originated around the 1930s.

off the hook

off the hook

Meaning

  • free of a difficult situation
  • let off from blame or trouble
  • no longer have to deal with unpleasant circumstances
  • escape or released from a tough situation

Example Sentences

  1. Since it was his first offence, and a minor one at that, he was let off the hook with just a warning.
  2. He was charged with leaking confidential information, but I got him off the hook by vouching for his integrity.
  3. The legal system had become so corrupt that the hardened criminal was repeatedly got off the hook by the powers who were behind him.
  4. All evidence of the robbery pointed to him, but he got himself off the hook by somehow proving that he was out of town during the incident.
  5. Charges of deceit and falsehood had been slapped on him, but he was confident of getting off the hook because of his connections with powerful people.
  6. I really did not want to attend that meeting. Thankfully another urgent matter came up and I got off the hook as had to attend to it.
  7. Though we are letting you off the hook this time, you’d better be careful, you won’t be so lucky next time.

Origin

The phrase alludes to a fish freeing itself from a fishhook, thus avoiding being caught. It originated in the mid 1800s.

off on the wrong foot

off on the wrong foot

Meaning

  • off to a bad start
  • begin something incorrectly
  • begin badly
  • start off something in a way that is likely to fail

Example Sentences

  1. Their relationship started off on the wrong foot when they had a huge misunderstanding.
  2. His career started off on the wrong foot when the company he joined had to shut down because of recession.
  3. We had started off on the wrong foot, but over time as we got to know each other, we developed a bond and trust for each other.
  4. Would you give some advice on how to start my new business? I don’t want to get off on the wrong foot.
  5. He started off on the wrong foot in his new job when he had a bit of an argument with his manager.

Origin

The origin of the phrase is unclear. There are theories which say that the wrong foot refers to the left foot, since there is an age old bias for the right side. Since we have “right and left” and “right and wrong”, left tends to get associated with wrong. Another theory suggests that the phrase comes from the military, where in a march, all have to start with the same foot, which is usually the left foot. So in this case the right foot is the wrong foot. The phrase has been in use since the 16th century.

no room to swing a cat

no room to swing a cat

also not enough room to swing a cat

Meaning

  • a very small place
  • a confined place
  • a crowded or cramped space
  • not much space

Example Sentences

  1. How do you expect all four of us to stay in that room? There’s no room to swing a cat in there.
  2. The hotel claimed to have luxurious rooms, but when we went there, we found the rooms so small and cramped that there was no room to swing a cat.
  3. There’s not enough room to swing a cat in here, how do you plan to get in a couch over here?
  4. We don’t have any room to swing a cat here, how will all that stuff fit in?
  5. Isn’t this place a bit too small? There’s no room to swing a cat in here.

Origin

The phrase is said to have originated in the British Navy and the cat refers to a whip which was called the “cat o’ nine tails”. The theory goes that there was not enough room below deck to whip the sailors as punishment, hence the phrase. However, this theory is implausible, since the first recorded use of the phrase is in 1665, in Richard Kephale’s Medela Pestilentiae. The nature of the use suggests that the phrase was already in use prior to it being written. The cat o’ nine tails, however, is recorded only in 1695.

no dice

no dice

Meaning

  • not agree for something
  • refusal to do something
  • refuse to accept a proposition
  • not possible

Example Sentences

  1. The children asked whether they could all go out for a camping trip, but no dice, their parents refused.
  2. We asked the company whether they would issue a refund if we did not use their product, but no dice.
  3. Would I get a train at this time of night? No dice.
  4. Are you coming out with us for lunch? No dice, I have a lot of work to do, I’ll have something from the cafeteria.
  5. Would be able to help me out with this? No dice, I have my hands full at the moment.
  6. We tried to find a room at the hotel, but no dice, it was fully booked at this time of the year.
  7. I thought they would turn up for the event, but no dice, they were nowhere to be seen.

Origin

The phrase originated in the USA in the early 20th century. Gambling was illegal in many states and the gamblers took considerable trouble to hide their dice when confronted by the police. The rule said no dice, no conviction; so gamblers escaped punishment if the dice was not found.

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