Idioms

Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.

Idioms

Idioms beginning with T

toss-up

toss-up

Meaning

  • a situation where the result is unclear and can go either way
  • a situation where two or more possibilities are equally likely
  • an unpredictable situation where either option is possible

Example Sentences

  1. They had a tough time selecting the team for the big match. In the end, it was a toss-up between having the most experienced players and having a youthful team full of raw energy.
  2. I still have not decided which phone I am going to buy. I guess it is going to be  toss-up between the two new launches by the top two companies.
  3. The final was going to be a toss-up between two evenly matched teams, both of which had equal chances of winning.
  4. The election is going to be a toss-up between those two candidates, as both of them seem to have a sizable amount of support.
  5. They are yet to decide on who will get the top job. Most probably it will be a toss-up between the two of of them.

Origin
This phrase was first used in 1812. It refers to the actual act of tossing a coin and guessing which side it will land on, and making a decision based on that. This practice makes the event unpredictable and both outcomes are equally possible.

the course of true love never did run smooth

the course of true love never did run smooth

Meaning

  • people in love often have to overcome difficulties in order to be with each other
  • true love always has difficulties
  • there will always be problems in a romantic relationship

Example Sentences

  1. Judy and I are in a long distance relationship and it is not easy staying away from each other. The course of true love never did run smooth.
  2. Sean and Jessica had to overcome a lot of social hurdles and restrictions before they could finally be with each other. The course of true love never did run smooth.
  3. When they decided to get married, they faced stiff resistance and even rejection from their families because the match was not a socially acceptable one. The course of true love never did run smooth.
  4. She had to sacrifice her career and leave her close friends behind to be with her boyfriend when he decided to move to another city. The course of true love never did run smooth.
  5. They had been through a lot of lows during their decade long relationship, but they always supported each other through everything. The course of true love never did run smooth.

Origin
This expression was first used by William Shakespeare in his play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 1598.

those three little words

those three little words

Meaning

  • the three words “I love you”

Example Sentences

  1. It is obvious that Steve really loves Sarah, but she told me that he has not said those three little words yet.
  2. After a few months of dating, Joe said those three little words to his girlfriend.
  3. Eve and Martin had been dating each other for the past six months, and now she was eagerly anticipating when he would say those three little words.
  4. Dale was really happy when his girlfriend said those three little words to him.
  5. Though Rachel and Thomas have been going around for quite some time, they have not said those three little words to each other yet.
  6. She glowed with pleasure and smiled coyly when he said those three little words to her for the first time.
  7. Have you said those three little words to her yet? If you don’t say them soon, she might be disappointed and think that you are not really interested in her.
  8. For the love-struck couple, it was a moment to cherish when they said those three little words to each other for the first time.

Origin
The origin of this phrase is not known.

tie the knot

tie the knot

Meaning

  • to get married

Example Sentences

  1. They have been dating each other for quite some time now and are planning to tie the knot a few months from now.
  2. He tied the knot with his long time girlfriend in a quiet ceremony in his private farmhouse in his ancestral village.
  3. After five years of going around with each other, George and Mia have finally decided to tie the knot later this year.
  4. The celebrity couple tied the knot in a gala ceremony amidst huge fanfare and press coverage.
  5. I heard Chris and Tina will be tying the knot soon. Do you know what they have planned?
  6. If you really think he is perfect for you, why don’t you two plan to tie the knot soon?
  7. They tied the knot in a private ceremony and flew off to their honeymoon without much ado.

Origin
The word knot has been associated with marriage since very old times, with the first known occurrence in 1225. It is not clear whether the knot refers an actual knot being tied in marriage ceremonies or it is just a symbolic reference to two people being united. This exact expression was first recorded in 1717 by an English poet, Matthew Prior in his poem “Alma; or, The Progress of the Mind.”

tall story

tall story

Meaning

  • A story that cannot be believed easily.
  • Something that is made up to be out of the plausibility range.
  • A story making claims that is based on untrue facts making something look bigger than it is, that is, an exaggerated story.

Example Sentences

  1. You cannot believe everything he says since most of them are just tall stories.
  2. That is such a tall story because it has been passed down in generations and every one added something of their own to it. Now, when one hears it, it sounds legendary.

Origin
The origination comes from boastfulness which was meant to either deceive or just amuse people. In the 1900’s these kind of stories were known as Munchausens which was named after an actual person. He was popular because he would always have extravagant stories about himself. In the United States, tall stories were the tales that were told and retold around the campfire. It usually involved mythical characters achieving larger than life tasks.

In the literary world, the phrase was first used in 1670 in ‘The Grounds & Occasions of the Contempt of the Clergy’ by John Eachard. This became more popular 1869 in Routledge’s Every Boy’s Annual which used the phrase as it is meant today.

twist arm

twist arm

Meaning

  • to make someone do what you want by making it difficult for them to refuse
  • to persuade someone to do what they don’t want
  • to pressurize someone
  • to coerce, force or cajole someone
  • to strongly encourage someone to do what they don’t want to do

Example Sentences

  1. I did not want to attend the concert, but he twisted my arm into it.
  2. They had to twist his arm a bit, but they managed to get him to join the team.
  3. We had to twist his arm to get the information out of him.
  4. I’ve twisted his arm a bit and he will get you the passes to the event.
  5. Do you intend to cooperate or should we twist your arm?
  6. If he doesn’t agree, you have to twist his arm till you get him to agree.
  7. The witness was reluctant to cooperate at first, but when the police twisted his arm, he came out with the details.
  8. If you find him difficult, just twist his arm a bit and he’ll comply.

Origin
This phrase originated in the mid 1900s and refers to using physical force (by twisting someone’s arm) to get something done.

tongue in cheek

tongue in cheek

Meaning:

  • something said in humour, but with an act of being serious
  • say something in an ironic way
  • say something jokingly, but appearing to be serious
  • jocular or humourous
  • not to be taken seriously

Example:

  1. The latest movie I watched was a tongue in cheek look at the way the media tends to over-hype certain pieces of news.
  2. One of the speakers at the business conference gave a tongue in cheek speech about the current economic condition of the country.
  3. His comments were intended to be tongue in cheek, but his friends took it seriously and that started a huge argument.
  4. He offered a tongue in cheek explanation on why his favourite team was losing repeatedly, saying something about keeping the tournament interesting till the last stages.

Origin:
This phrase is a literal reference to the facial expression created when putting the tongue in one’s cheek. It also includes a wink, to signify that what is being said is not to be taken seriously. The phrase first appeared in print in “The Fair maid of Perth” by Sir Walter Scott in 1928. While it is not clear whether the current meaning was implied in this usage, a later appearance in Richard Barham’s “The Ingoldsby Legends” in 1845 is clear.

take a rain check

take a rain check

Meaning:

  • decline an offer that might be taken up later
  • refuse an offer politely, but imply that it can be taken up later
  • cannot accept an invitation, but would like to do so later

Example:

  1. I’ll take a rain check on the party tonight, I have a lot of work to finish right now.
  2. He said he would take a rain check on visiting us today.
  3. I’ll have to take a rain check on going to the movies this evening, I already have other plans.
  4. He couldn’t attend the concert with his friends. He took a rain check instead.
  5. Mind if take a rain check on the team outing? I have to finish this project by tomorrow.
  6. I would have loved to come to your place, but I’ll take a rain check on that. I will be out of town during the weekend.

Origin:
The phrase originated in the 1880s in the USA in reference to baseball games. If it rained heavily enough for a match to be postponed, the ticket holders to the match were given a “rain check”, i.e., a voucher to attend another match.

tickled pink

tickled pink

Meaning:

  • excited and happy
  • very much pleased
  • delighted

Example:

  1. His wife was tickled pink when he sent her flowers and gifts at work for no reason.
  2. He was tickled pink when his old friend called him up to wish him on his birthday.
  3. She was tickled pink when her painting was selected for the top prize at the competition.
  4. When the retiring teacher received many messages from his former students, he was tickled pink that they still remembered him and cared to send him their wishes.
  5. The children were tickled pink when they were taken for a camping trip.
  6. His parents were tickled pink when he told them that he was taking them for a vacation.
  7. The employees were tickled pink when the company announced a fat bonus for everyone.
  8. We were tickled pink when the guests complemented us on our new house.

Origin:
This phrase originated in America in the early 1900s.

tar with the same brush

tar with the same brush

Meaning:

  • to think that somebody has the same bad qualities as others in a similar surrounding
  • to characterize someone with the same undesirable attribute as another
  • believe to be having the same faults

Example:

  1. Though the impression is that all government officials are corrupt, some of them are quite honest; its not fair to tar them with the same brush.
  2. The players of that team are a bunch of jokers, but the captain shouldn’t be tarred with the same brush. He is a great player.
  3. He may be from the same school, but don’t tar him with the same brush.
  4. While its true that most people from that region are violent, let’s not tar all of them with the same brush.
  5. Since Jack had worked closely with Bob, he was tarred with the same brush when reports of Bob cheating the company came out.

Origin:
This phrase is thought to have multiple origins, but none of them are confirmed. It may refer to the practice of marking sheep with tar, both to distinguish from another herd and also to protect it from ticks. Another reference may be to the cruel practice of tarring and feathering of criminals, wherein hot tar was poured over the criminal’s shaven head and feathers attached to the tar.

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