Idioms and Phrases For Teaching Exams

 Idioms and Phrases For Teaching Exams- Are you looking for an Idioms and Phrases list for your upcoming teaching examination? Do you want to be a teacher? Idioms and phrases are the important aspects of the English language and literature, Thus you have to prepare for the examination.

It's not hard to get a list of Idioms and phrases for competitive examination. I have listed some of the important idioms and phrases with meaning for free.

This post is for that aspirant who is preparing for teaching examinations like KVS, NVS, Army School, Navy School, TGT, PGT, PRT, Eklabya School, DPS School, Contractual Teacher, OAVS, State Model Schools, etc.

Idioms and Phrases For Teaching Exams

For- All the Competitive Exams- Defence, UPSC, PSC, Teaching, Clerical, NDA, JEE, NET, etc.


Idioms And Phrases



Idioms & Phrases




Rank and File

Ordinary People



By fits and starts

In short periods, not regularly



A wee bit

A little



Out of the wood

Free from difficulties and dangers



Under his thumb

Under his control



At one’s wits end

In a state where one does not know what to do



Between the devil and the


deep sea

Between two dangers



Burn the midnight oil

Work or study hard



Call a spade a spade

Speak frankly and directly



Come off with flying colors

Be highly successful



Hoping against hope

Without hope



Hit the nail on the head

Do or say the exact thing



An axe to grind

A personal interest in the matter



To get rid of

Dispose of



At daggers drawn

Bitterly hostile



To play ducks and drakes

To act foolishly or inconsistently



To take the bull by the



To tackle a problem in a bold and direct fashion




Rain cats and dogs

Rain heavily



To move heaven and earth

To make a supreme effort



No avail

Without any result



Bark up the wrong tree

Accuse or denounce the wrong person



Keep one at bay

Keep one at a distance



Make a clean breast of it

Confess – especially when a person has done a wrong thing



Have a card up one’s sleeve

Have a secret plan in reserve



Like a cat on hot bricks

Very nervous



Cat and dog life

Life full of quarrels



Cock and bull story

Made up story that one should not believe



Cry for the moon

Ask for the impossible



The pros and cons

The various aspects of a matter in detail



Be in a tight corner

In a very difficult situation



Cross one’s t’s and dot

Be precise, careful and one’s i’s exact



At arm’s length

To keep at a distance



Out of the question




Out of the way




Show a clean pair of heals

Run away



Keep one’s fingers crossed

The anxiety in which you hope that nothing will upset your plans



In the nick of time

Just at the last moment




Sitting on the fence

Hesitate between two decisions



Spread like wild fire

Spread quickly



The gift of the gab

Talent for speaking



By hook or by crook

By fair or foul means



Feather one’s own nest

Make money unfairly



Throw out of gear

Disturb the work



Take to one’s heels




Tooth and nail

With all one’s power



Die in harness

Die while in service



Take a leaf out of one’s



Imitate one



Leave no stone unturned

Use all available means



A man of straw

A man of no substance



Read between the lines

Understand the hidden meaning



In cold blood

Deliberately and without emotion



A thorn in the flesh

A constant source of annoyance



Smell a rat

Suspect something foul



Harp on the same string

Dwell on the same subject



Bury the hatchet

End the quarrel and make peace



Leave one in the lurch

Desert one in difficulties; leave one in a helpless condition



Like a fish out of water

In a strange situation




At one’s beck and call

Under his control



To make both ends meet

To live within one’s income



In hot water

In trouble



Nip in the bud

Destroy in the early stage



Stick to one’s guns

Remain faithful to the cause



To eat humble pie

To apologize humbly and to yield under humiliating circumstances



In high spirits

Very happy



Put the cart before the



Put or do things in the wrong order



To all names

To abuse



On tenterhooks

In a state of suspense and anxiety



Wash one’s dirty linen

Discuss unpleasant in public-private matters before strangers



To bell the cat

To face the risk



A hard nut to crack

A difficult problem



Let the cat out of the bag

Reveal a secret



A big gun

An important person



Kill two birds with one stone

To achieve two results with one effort



Take one to task




Gain ground

Become Popular



To blow one’s own

To praise one’s own trumpet achievement



A bosom friend

A very close friend




A brown study




Turn a deaf ear

Disregard / ignore what one says



A close shave

Narrow escape



Turn over a new leaf

Change for the better



Make up one’s mind




In the long run

Eventually; ultimately



Bring to light




Pay off old scores

Take revenge



Hard and fast rules

Strict rules



At the eleventh hour

At the last moment



To cut a sorry figure

To make a poor show



With a high hand




Burn one’s fingers

Get into trouble by interfering in other’s affairs



Laugh one’s head off

Laugh heartily



Chew the cud

Ponder over something



Play second fiddle

Take an unimportant part



Above board

Honest and open



Through thick and thin

Under all conditions



Put a spoke in one’s wheel

To upset one’s plans



At sixes and sevens

In a disordered/disorganized manner, chaotic




At home




Alpha and omega

The beginning and the end



At sea

Confused and lost



By leaps and bounds




To burn one’s boats

Go back on a decision



To beat about the bush

Talk irrelevantly



To burn candle at both ends

To waste lavishly



A bone of contention

A source of quarrel



Add fuel to the fire

To aggravate the situation



An acid test

A critical test



At a snail’s pace

Very slowly



A bolt from the blue

Something unexpected



To build castles in the air

Make imaginary schemes



Once in a blue moon

Something that happens very rarely



Beating around the bush

Avoiding the main topic



Cry over spilled milk

Complaining about a loss or failure from the past



Chip on your shoulder

When someone is upset about something that happened a while ago



Piece of cake

Something that is easy to understand or do




A big sum of money given to a person when he/she leaves a company

Golden handshake

or retires



Spill the beans

To disclose a secret




Blessing in disguise

Something good and useful that did not initially seem that way



Mean business

Being Serious or Dedicated



Come hell or high water

Possible obstacles in your path



Apple of one’s eye

Being cherished



Bite off more than you can



Not able to complete a task due to lack of ability



The best of both worlds

The benefits of widely differing situations, enjoyed at the same time



Feeling a bit under the



Feeling slightly ill



Icing on the cake

Something that turns good into great



Cost an arm and a leg

Be very expensive



Jump the bandwagon

To join a popular activity or trend



Ball is in your court

When it is up to you to make the next decision or step



To be in the doldrums

To be in low spirits



To sit on the fence

To remain neutral



Break the ice

To initiate a social conversation or interaction



Hear it on grapevine

To hear rumors about something or someone



Can’t judge a book by its



Cannot judge something primarily on appearance



It takes two to tango

Actions or communications need more than one person



Black and blue

Full of Bruises



Be on cloud nine

Be very happy



Last straw

The final problem in a series of problems




A bird’s eye view

A view from a very high place that allows you to see a very large area



A litmus Test

A method that helps to know if something is correct



At the drop of a hat

Willingness to do something instantly



Afraid of one’s own shadow

To become easily frightened



A house of cards

A poor plan



Fool’s paradise

False sense of happiness



Get a raw deal

To not be treated as well as other people



Give cold shoulder

To ignore



Hand to mouth

Live on only basic necessities



Make a face

To show dislike or disappointment through facial expressions



It’s Greek to me

Something that is not understandable



To pour oil on troubled



To make peace



Don’t put all your eggs in


one basket

Do not put all your resources in one basket (in one place or thing)



To put in a nutshell

To say in a few words or to make something concise



Back out

To withdraw from a promise or contract



Blow up

To explode



Back Up

To support and sustain



Back Upon

To be relevant



Break Down

Failure in something



Break off

To end or discontinue




Break Up

To disperse/dissolve



Bring up

To rear



Call forth

To provoke



Call out

To shout



Call upon

To order



Carry on

To continue



Cast away

To throw aside



Catch up with

To overtake



Come off

To take place



Cry Down

To make little of



Cry out against

To complain loudly against



Cut out

Designed for



Drop in

To Visit Casually



Drop out

To fall



Fall back

To Recede; To Retreat



Fall down

From a higher position to a lower one



Fall off

To Withdraw; To Drop Off



Fall under

To come under



Get along

To Prosper; To Progress; To Proceed



Get on with

To Live Pleasantly Together; To Progress




Get into

To be involved in



Give in

To Surrender; To Yield



Give over

Not to do any longer



Go after

To Follow; To Pursue



Go Down

To be accepted



Go without

To remain without



Go by

To follow



Hang about

To Loiter near a place



Hang upon

To depend upon



Hold out

To Endure; To Refuse to yield; To continue; To offer



Hold to

Abide By



Keep off

To ward off



Keep up with

To keep pace with



Knock out

To win by hitting another one



Keep something at bay

Keep something away



Let sleeping dogs lie

Leave something alone if it might cause trouble



Open the floodgates

Release something that was previously under control



Out of the blue

Happen unexpectedly



Out on a limb

Do something risky



Over the Top

Totally excessive and not suitable for the occasion




Pen is mightier than the



Words and communication have a greater effect than war



Push one’s luck

Trying to obtain more than what one has



Reap the harvest

Benefit or suffer as a direct result of past actions



Roll up sleeves

To get yourself prepared



See eye to eye

To be in agreement with



Shot in the dark

A complete guess



Sink your teeth into

Do something with a lot of energy and enthusiasm



Take with a grain/pinch of



To doubt the accuracy of information



Skating on thin ice

Do or say something risky



Tight spot

A difficult situation



Strike while the iron is hot

To act at the right time



Take the plunge

Venture into something of one’s interest despite the risks involved



Take a nosedive

Rapid drop or decrease in value



Think the world of

Admire someone very much



Stand in a good stead

To be useful or be of good service to someone



Take a back seat

Choose to be less important in a role



Wave a dead chicken

Do something useless



Whale of a time

Enjoy a lot



Wrap one’s brain around

Concentrate on something to understand



Zero in on something

Focus all attention on one thing



Above all

Chiefly, Mainly



On Account of

Due to



On no account

Not for Any Reason



A Fidus Achates

A faithful friend or a devoted follower



The Heel of Achilles

A Weak Point



An Adonis

A very handsome man



To assume airs

To affect superiority




To stand aloof

To keep to oneself and not mix with others



To lead to the altar

To marry



An Ananias

A Liar



An Apollo

A Man with Perfect Physique



To Upset the Apple Cart

To disturb the peace



Apple Pie Order

In perfect order



Arcadian Life

A blissful, happy, rural and simple life



To take up arms

To fight or go to the war



To Grind

To have some selfish objective in view



To break the back of



To perform the most difficult part



To backbite a person

To speak disguise about someone



He has no backbone

He has no will of his own



To cause bad blood

To Cause Enmity



Bag and Baggage

With all one's belongings



To keep the ball rolling

To keep things going



Barmecide feast

Imaginary Benefits




The shortest distance between two places



Behind one's back

Without one's Knowledge



Behind the scenes

In Private



To hit below the belt

To act unfairly in a contest



To bite the dust

To be Defeated in Battle



A Wet Blanket

A person who discourages enjoyment or enthusiasm



A blue Stocking

A learned/educated or intellectual woman



At First Blush

At first sight



One's bread and butter

One's means of livelihood



To breathe one's last

To Die



To make bricks without



To attempt to do something without proper materials



To kick the bucket

To die



Good wine needs no bush

There is no need to advertise something good



To burn the candle at both



To expend energy in two directions at the same time



If the cap fits, wear it

If you think the remarks refer to you, then accept the criticism



Care killed the cat

Don’t fret and worry yourself to death




To Catch one's eye

To attract attention



To take the chair

To preside a meeting



She is no chicken

She is older than she says



To pick and choose

To make a careful selection



To square the circle

To attempt something impossible



Every cloud has a silver



Adverse conditions do not last forever



Close fisted




Cut your cloth according to


your cloth

Live within your income



A cock and bull story

A foolishly incredible story



To be cock sure

To be perfectly sure or certain



To throw cold water upon



To discourage efforts



Off color

Not in the usual form



To commit to memory

To learn by heart



Too many cooks spoil the



Where there are more workers than necessary



Crocodile tears

Hypocritical Tears



Cut and dried




Up to date




Evil days

A period of misfortune



Halcyon Days

A time when there are peace and happiness in the land



To step into dead man's



To come into an inheritance



Go to the devil

Be off



Devil's bones




Devil’s Playthings

Playing Cards



Give a dog a bad name and


hang him

Once a person loses his reputation



Every dog has his day

Sooner or later, everyone has his share of good fortune



To throw dust in one's eyes

To try to deceive someone or mislead someone



A white elephant

A useless possession that is extremely expensive to keep



To set the Thames on fire

To do something sensational or remarkable




One who has had a previous unpleasant experience is always scared of

A burnt child dreads the fire

situations where such experiences are likely to be repeated




A fish out of water

Anyone in an awkward



Foul play




To jump from a frying pan


into fire

To come out of one trouble and get into a worse



All that glitters are not gold

Things are not always as attractive as they appear



To die in harness

To continue at one’s occupation until death



Make hay while the sun



Take advantage of all opportunities



Lock, stock, and barrel

The whole of everything




Comes nowhere near it. If someone narrowly misses the target it still is

A miss is as good as a mile

treated as a missed one or failure.



One swallow does not make

It is unreliable to base one's conclusions on only a single test or

a summer




If wishes were horses,

If wishing could make things happen, then even the most destitute

beggars might ride

people would have everything they wanted



A nine days' wonder

An event that relates a sensation for a time but is soon forgotten




Newspapers that publish sensational and unscrupulous stories and

Yellow press

exaggerate the news to attract readers.



A ballpark figure

A general financial figure




To make certain that the amount of money spent is not more than the

To balance the books

amount of money received.



A cash cow

A product or service that makes a lot of money for a company



Devil's Advocate

To present a counter argument



Don't give up the day job

You are not very good at something. You could not do it professionally.



To cook the books

To modify financial statements



To get the sack

To be dismissed from your job



To be snowed under

To be very busy



To work your fingers to the


bone / to sweat blood

To work really hard



Hear it on the grapevine

To hear rumors



In the heat of the moment

Overwhelmed by what is happening in the moment



Not a spark of decency

No Manners




This expression is used when the person you have just been talking

Speak of the devil!

about arrives



Whole nine yards

Everything. All of it



Your guess is as good as



To have no idea about anything




Doubtful, Suspicious




First and foremost

Extreme enthusiasm



Fire and fury

Fearful penalties



Fire and brimstone

A very tasty food or meal



Finding your feet/ Finger


licking good

To become more comfortable in whatever you are doing



Fabian policy

The policy of delaying decisions



Excuse my French

Please forgive me for cussing



Everything but the kitchen



Almost everything and anything has been included



Break a leg

A superstitious way to say ‘Good Luck’ without saying ‘Good Luck’



Barking up the wrong tree

A mistake made in something you are trying to achieve



Bated breath

In anxiety, expectancy



Beat a dead horse

To force an issue that has already ended



Between Scylla and



Choice between two unpleasant alternatives




Not willing or wanting to change from your normal way of doing

Fixed in your ways




A penny saved is a penny



By not spending money, you are saving money (little by little)



A picture paints a thousand



A visual presentation is far more descriptive than words



A piece of cake

A task that can be accomplished very easily



To hold a brief for

Be retained as counsel for, to argue for



Shot in the arm

A boost or act of encouragement



To go at each other hammer

To do something or perform some task with tremendous fervor,

and tongs




Step into someone's shoes

Take someone's place



Back to the drawing board

Revising something from the beginning, typically after it has failed



Bring / Ring The Curtain



To bring something to an end; to declare something to be at an end



A slap on the wrist

A very mild punishment




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