Idioms and Phrases

These idioms are compiled from the Cambridge International Dictionary.The Cambridge International Dictionary explains over 7,000 idioms current in British, American and other English speaking countries, helping learners to understand them and use them with confidence. The Cambridge Dictionary, based on the 200 million words of English text in the Cambridge International Corpus, unlocks the meaning of more than 5,000 idiomatic phrases used in contemporary English. Full-sentence examples show how idioms are really used.

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  1. plan b
  2. babe’s in the wood
  3. be someone’s baby
  4. be left holding the baby
  5. throw the baby out with the bathwater
  6. at the back of your mind
  7. back in the day
  8. a back number
  9. back o’bourke
  10. the back of beyond
  11. back to the drawing board
  12. back to square one
  13. back the wrong horse
  14. be on someone’s back
  15. get off someone’s back
  16. by the back door
  17. get someone’s back up
  18. get your own back
  19. know something like the back of your hand
  20. not in my backyard
  21. nimby
  22. on your back
  23. put your back into
  24. see the back of
  25. someone’s back is turned
  26. take a back seat
  27. with your back to the wall
  28. with your back up against the wall
  29. put backbone into someone
  30. a back-seat driver
  31. bend over backwards to do something
  32. know something backwards
  33. save someone’s bacon
  34. bring home the bacon
  35. saved by the bell
  36. have something to say for yourself
  37. have nothing to say for yourself
  38. say the word
  39. go without saying
  40. there is no saying
  41. throw away the scabbard
  42. like a scalded cat
  43. the scales fall from someone’s eyes
  44. throw something on the scale
  45. throw something into the scale
  46. tip the scales at
  47. turn the scales at
  48. turn the scales
  49. turn the balance
  50. bad blood
  51. there is bad blood between
  52. a bad quarter of an hour
  53. a bad workman blames his tools
  54. be bad news
  55. my bad
  56. turn up like a bad penny
  57. bag and baggage
  58. a bag of bones
  59. a bag of nerves
  60. a bundle of nerves
  61. a bag of tricks
  62. a whole bag of tricks
  63. be left holding the bag
  64. be left holding the baby
  65. be left holding
  66. in the bag
  67. fish or cut bait
  68. rise to the bait
  69. a baker’s dozen
  70. turn the balance
  71. turn the scales
  72. weigh something in the balance
  73. as bald as a coot
  74. a ball and chain
  75. the ball is in someone’s court
  76. a ball of fire
  77. behind the eight ball
  78. have a ball
  79. have the ball at your feet
  80. have a lot on the ball
  81. keep the ball rolling
  82. keep your eye on the ball
  83. take your eye off the ball
  84. on the ball
  85. play ball
  86. start the ball rolling
  87. the whole ball of wax
  88. a whole new ball game
  89. go ballistic
  90. go down like a lead balloon
  91. go over like a lead balloon
  92. when the balloon goes up
  93. before the balloon goes up
  94. lead someone a dance
  95. lead someone a merry dance
  96. lead someone by the nose
  97. in the ballpark
  98. the bamboo curtain
  99. banana republic
  100. go bananas
  101. second banana
  102. top banana
  103. slip on a banana skin
  104. when the band begins to play
  105. jump on the bandwagon
  106. bang for your buck
  107. bang for the buck
  108. bang goes
  109. bang on
  110. bang people’s heads together
  111. get a bang out of
  112. go with a bang
  113. break the bank
  114. under the banner of
  115. a baptism of fire
  116. bar none
  117. the bare bones
  118. would not touch someone with a bargepole
  119. would not touch something with a bargepole
  120. bark at the moon
  121. bark up the wrong tree
  122. someone’s bark is worse than their bite
  123. round Robin Hood’s barn
  124. no holds barred
  125. a barrel of laughs
  126. get someone over a barrel
  127. scrape the barrel
  128. the bottom of the barrel
  129. with both barrels
  130. on the barrelhead
  131. man the barricades
  132. go to the barricades
  133. get to first base
  134. off base
  135. touch base
  136. back to basics
  137. blind as a bat
  138. as blind as a bat
  139. have bats in the belfry
  140. have bats in your belfry
  141. like a bat out of hell
  142. not bat an eye
  143. not bat an eyelid
  144. off your own bat
  145. right off the bat
  146. with bated breath
  147. an early bath
  148. take a bath
  149. pass on the baton
  150. hand on the baton
  151. under the baton of
  152. batten down the hatches
  153. recharge your batteries
  154. battle of the giants
  155. battle royal
  156. battle stations
  157. half the battle
  158. a losing battle
  159. a pitched battle
  160. a running battle
  161. bay for blood
  162. bring someone to bay
  163. bring something to bay
  164. hold someone at bay
  165. hold something at bay
  166. keep someone at bay
  167. keep something at bay
  168. to-be
  169. be there for someone
  170. the be-all and end-all
  171. draw a bead on
  172. get a bead on
  173. a beam in your eye
  174. broad in the beam
  175. off beam
  176. way off beam
  177. on your beam ends
  178. full of beans
  179. give someone beans
  180. a row of beans
  181. a hill of beans
  182. know how many beans make five
  183. not have a bean
  184. spill the beans
  185. bear the brunt of
  186. grin and bear it
  187. have your cross to bear
  188. like a bear with a sore head
  189. loaded for bear
  190. beard the lion in his den
  191. beard the lion in his lair
  192. beat a hasty retreat
  193. beat about the bush
  194. beat around the bush
  195. beat someone at their own game
  196. beat your breast
  197. beat the bushes
  198. beat the clock
  199. beat the daylights out of
  200. beat the drum for
  201. beat the drum of
  202. bang the drum for
  203. bang the drum of
  204. beat your meat
  205. beat the meat
  206. beat the pants off
  207. beat a path to someone’s door
  208. beat the system
  209. beat someone to it
  210. if you could not beat them, join them
  211. miss a beat
  212. to beat the band
  213. beaten at the post
  214. pipped at the post
  215. off the beaten track
  216. off the beaten path
  217. the beautiful people
  218. the body beautiful
  219. beaver away
  220. work like a beaver
  221. at someone’s beck and call
  222. bed and breakfast
  223. bed and breakfast
  224. a bed of nails
  225. a bed of roses
  226. get out of bed on the wrong side
  227. in bed with
  228. you have made your bed and must lie in it
  229. between you and me and the bedpost
  230. between you and me and the gatepost
  231. between you and me and the wall
  232. bedside manner
  233. the bee’s knees
  234. have a bee in your bonnet
  235. make a beeline for
  236. been there, done that
  237. beer and skittles
  238. beg the question
  239. beggar belief
  240. beggar description
  241. beggar on horseback
  242. beggars can’t be choosers
  243. go begging
  244. beginner’s luck
  245. the beginning of the end
  246. beat the bejesus out of someone
  247. scare the bejesus out of someone
  248. bell, book and candle
  249. bell the cat
  250. bells and whistles
  251. saved by the bell
  252. as clear as a bell
  253. as sound as a bell
  254. give someone a bell
  255. ring a bell
  256. with bells on
  257. belle of the ball
  258. go belly up
  259. have a bellyful of
  260. below stairs
  261. below the belt
  262. belt and braces
  263. tighten your belt
  264. under your belt
  265. bend someone’s ear
  266. bend your elbow
  267. bend over backwards
  268. bend over backwards to do something
  269. round the bend
  270. round the twist
  271. on bended knee
  272. give someone the benefit of
  273. the benefit of the doubt
  274. a Benjamin’s portion
  275. a Benjamin’s mess
  276. bent out of shape
  277. give someone a wide berth
  278. give something a wide berth
  279. besetting sin
  280. beside yourself
  281. best bib and tucker
  282. the best thing since sliced bread
  283. the greatest thing since sliced bread
  284. put your best foot forward
  285. with the best will in the world
  286. the best of both worlds
  287. the best of all possible worlds
  288. the best of British
  289. give someone best
  290. give something best
  291. make the best of it
  292. your best bet
  293. six of the best
  294. all bets are off
  295. don’t bet on it
  296. you can bet your boots
  297. you can bet your bottom dollar
  298. you can bet your life
  299. bet the farm
  300. a safe bet
  301. against your better judgement
  302. the more the better
  303. better the devil you know
  304. better late than never
  305. better safe than sorry
  306. the better to
  307. get the better of
  308. go one better
  309. no better than you should be
  310. no better than you ought to be
  311. your better half
  312. seen better days
  313. known better days
  314. so much the better
  315. so much the worse
  316. the betting is that
  317. betwixt and between
  318. between the devil and the deep blue sea
  319. between a rock and a hard place
  320. the back of beyond
  321. It is beyond me.
  322. your best bib and tucker
  323. stick your bib in
  324. poke your bib in
  325. big bickies
  326. bide your time
  327. big brother
  328. the big C
  329. a big cheese
  330. a big fish
  331. a big gun
  332. a big noise
  333. a big shot
  334. a big wheel
  335. big deal
  336. the big five
  337. the big lie
  338. the big smoke
  339. the big three
  340. the big four
  341. big white chief
  342. give someone the big E
  343. make it big
  344. talk big
  345. think big
  346. too big for your boots
  347. get off your bike
  348. on your bike
  349. bill and coo
  350. a clean bill of health
  351. fit the bill
  352. fill the bill
  353. foot the bill
  354. sell someone a bill of goods
  355. top the bill
  356. head the bill
  357. like billy-o
  358. billy-o
  359. the bird has flown
  360. a bird in hand
  361. a bird of passage
  362. a bird's-eye view
  363. the birds and the bees
  364. birds of a feather
  365. do bird
  366. early bird
  367. flip someone the bird
  368. give someone the bird
  369. get the bird
  370. have a bird
  371. kill two birds with one stone
  372. a little bird told me
  373. strictly for the birds
  374. in your birthday suit
  375. have had the biscuit
  376. take the biscuit
  377. take the bun
  378. take the cake
  379. a bit much
  380. a bit of all right
  381. bit of fluff
  382. bit of skirt
  383. bit of stuff
  384. bit of rough
  385. bit on the side
  386. bits and pieces
  387. bits and bobs
  388. do your bit
  389. get the bit between your teeth
  390. to bits
  391. bite someone's head off
  392. a bite at the cherry
  393. bite the big one
  394. bite the bullet
  395. bite the dust
  396. bite the hand that feeds you
  397. bite off more than you can chew
  398. bite your tongue
  399. put the bite on
  400. take a bite out of
  401. the biter bit
  402. the biter bitten
  403. be bitten by the bug
  404. have the bug
  405. I could have bitten my tongue off.
  406. once bitten twice shy
  407. a bitter pill
  408. a bitter pill to swallow
  409. to the bitter end
  410. beat someone black and blue
  411. be in someone's black books
  412. beyond the black stump
  413. black box
  414. a black mark against someone
  415. a black report against someone
  416. the black sheep
  417. a black spot
  418. in the black
  419. in black and white
  420. not as black as you are painted
  421. a blank cheque
  422. draw a blank
  423. firing blanks
  424. blanket
  425. a wet blanket
  426. wet your whistle
  427. have kissed the blarney stone
  428. a blast from the past
  429. go to blazes
  430. blaze a trail
  431. like blazes
  432. with guns blazing
  433. with all guns blazing
  434. bleed someone dry
  435. bleed someone white
  436. my heart bleeds for you
  437. not have a penny to bless yourself with
  438. a blessing in disguise
  439. count your blessings
  440. a mixed blessing
  441. a blind alley
  442. as blind as a bat
  443. a blind bit of
  444. the blind leading the blind
  445. a blind spot
  446. blind someone with science
  447. go it blind
  448. rob someone blind
  449. turn a blind eye
  450. play a blinder
  451. effing and blinding
  452. in the blink of an eye
  453. on the blink
  454. a chip off the old block
  455. a new kid on the block
  456. have been around the block a few times
  457. on the block
  458. put the blocks on
  459. put your head on the block
  460. put your neck on the block
  461. blood and guts
  462. blood and iron
  463. blood and thunder
  464. blood is thicker than water
  465. blood on the carpet
  466. blood sweat and tears
  467. blood will tell
  468. first blood
  469. have blood on your hands
  470. in cold blood
  471. in your blood
  472. like getting blood out of a stone
  473. make your blood boil
  474. make your blood curdle
  475. make your blood run cold
  476. new blood
  477. young blood
  478. someone's blood is up
  479. sweat blood
  480. taste blood
  481. there is bad blood between
  482. bloody but unbowed
  483. bloodied but unbowed
  484. the bloom is off the rose
  485. blot your copybook
  486. a blot on the escutcheon
  487. a blot on the landscape
  488. big girl's blouse
  489. blow someone away
  490. blow away the cobwebs
  491. clear away the cobwebs
  492. blow your cool
  493. blow the doors off
  494. blow a fuse
  495. blow a gasket
  496. blow the gaff
  497. blow great guns
  498. blow hot and cold
  499. blow the lid off
  500. blow someone’s mind
  501. blow off steam
  502. let off steam
  503. blow your own horn
  504. blow your own horn
  505. blow your own trumpet
  506. blow a raspberry
  507. blow someone’s socks off
  508. knock someone’s socks off
  509. blow something sky-high
  510. blow your top
  511. blow up in your face
  512. blow the whistle on
  513. blow with the wind
  514. soften the blow
  515. cushion the blow
  516. which way the wind blows
  517. a blow-by-blow account
  518. be blown away
  519. be blown off course
  520. be blown out of the water
  521. between the devil and the deep blue sea
  522. a bolt from the blue
  523. do something until you are blue in the face
  524. once in a blue moon
  525. out of the blue
  526. scream blue murder
  527. yell blue murder
  528. talk a blue streak
  529. true blue
  530. the wide blue yonder
  531. the wild blue yonder
  532. a blue-eyed boy
  533. blue-sky research
  534. call someone’s bluff
  535. spare someone’s blushes
  536. save someone’s blushes
  537. above board
  538. across the board
  539. go by the board
  540. on board
  541. take something on board
  542. tread the boards
  543. walk the boards
  544. be in the same boat
  545. burn your boats
  546. burn your bridges
  547. off the boat
  548. push the boat out
  549. rock the boat
  550. bob and weave
  551. Bob's your uncle
  552. ride bodkin
  553. body and soul
  554. keep body and soul together
  555. know where the bodies are buried
  556. over my dead body
  557. The Biggest Cruise Ship
  558. go off the boil
  559. it all boils down to
  560. make your blood boil
  561. keep the pot boiling
  562. as bold as brass
  563. a bolt from the blue
  564. have shot your bolt
  565. make a bolt for
  566. go down a bomb
  567. go like a bomb
  568. give someone Bondi
  569. a bag of bones
  570. the bare bones
  571. a bone of contention
  572. a bone in your head
  573. a bone in your leg
  574. close to the bone
  575. near the bone
  576. cut something to the bone
  577. pare something to the bone
  578. have a bone to pick with someone
  579. have a bone to gnaw with someone
  580. in your bones
  581. make no bones about something
  582. not a bone in your body
  583. point the bone at
  584. to the bone
  585. to your bones
  586. to the bone
  587. work your fingers to the bone
  588. would not say boo to a goose
  589. up the booay
  590. be in someone's black books
  591. bring someone to book
  592. by the book
  593. close the books
  594. a closed book
  595. cook the books
  596. in someone's bad books
  597. in someone's good books
  598. make a book
  599. open a book
  600. on the books
  601. read someone like a book
  602. suit someone's book
  603. take a leaf out of someone's book
  604. throw the book at
  605. boots and all
  606. the boot is on the other foot
  607. die with your boots on
  608. get the boot
  609. hang up your boots
  610. put the boot in
  611. seven-league boots
  612. to boot
  613. tough as old boots
  614. you can bet your boots
  615. your heart sinks into your boots
  616. pull yourself up by your own bootstraps
  617. drag yourself up by your own bootstraps
  618. shake your booty
  619. poke borak at
  620. be born with a silver spoon in your mouth
  621. born in the purple
  622. born to the purple
  623. not know you are born
  624. there is one born every minute
  625. there is a sucker born every minute
  626. to the manner born
  627. I was not born yesterday
  628. borrow trouble
  629. living on borrowed time
  630. borrowed plumes
  631. show someone who's boss
  632. cut both ways
  633. have it both ways
  634. hot and bothered
  635. have a lot of bottle
  636. show a lot of bottle
  637. hit the bottle
  638. be on the bottle
  639. be bumping along the bottom
  640. bottom drawer
  641. the bottom falls out of something
  642. the bottom drops out of something
  643. the bottom line
  644. from the bottom of your heart
  645. scrape the bottom of the barrel
  646. touch bottom
  647. you can bet your bottom dollar
  648. have bought it
  649. bounce an idea off someone
  650. bounce off the walls
  651. a dead cat bounce
  652. on the bounce
  653. duty-bound
  654. honour-bound
  655. a bounden duty
  656. bow and scrape
  657. bow down in the house of Rimmon
  658. have a second string to your bow
  659. make your bow
  660. take a bow
  661. a warning shot across the bows
  662. Did You Know?
  663. a bowl of cherries
  664. black box
  665. box clever
  666. be a box of birds
  667. a box of tricks
  668. in the wrong box
  669. out of the box
  670. out of your box
  671. a Pandora's box
  672. think outside the box
  673. in the box seat
  674. boys in blue
  675. boys will be boys
  676. jobs for the boys
  677. the old boy network
  678. one of the boys
  679. sort out the men from the boys
  680. have something on the brain
  681. pick someone's brains
  682. rack your brains
  683. brass monkey
  684. the brass ring
  685. brass neck
  686. get down to brass tacks
  687. not a brass farthing
  688. part brass rags with
  689. brave new world
  690. put a brave face on something
  691. step into the breach
  692. the best thing since sliced bread
  693. the greatest thing since sliced bread
  694. bread and circuses
  695. break bread with
  696. cast your bread upon the waters
  697. eat the bread of idleness
  698. have your bread buttered on both sides
  699. know on which side your bread is buttered
  700. man cannot live by bread alone
  701. someone's bread and butter
  702. take the bread out of people's mouths
  703. want your bread buttered on both sides
  704. a bread-and-butter letter
  705. break the back of
  706. break the bank
  707. break a butterfly on a wheel
  708. break a leg
  709. break cover
  710. break the ice
  711. break the mould
  712. break new ground
  713. break fresh ground
  714. break ranks
  715. break ship
  716. give me a break
  717. give someone a break
  718. make a break for
  719. make a clean break
  720. that's the breaks
  721. them's the breaks
  722. a dog's dinner
  723. have someone for breakfast
  724. beat your breast
  725. make a clean breast of something
  726. a dog's breakfast
  727. make a clean breast of it
  728. a breath of fresh air
  729. the breath of life
  730. do not hold your breath
  731. save your breath,
  732. take someone's breath away
  733. waste your breath
  734. breathe down someone's neck
  735. breathe your last
  736. a breed apart
  737. a dying breed
  738. a brick short of a load
  739. come down like a ton of bricks
  740. come up against a brick wall
  741. hit a brick wall
  742. make bricks without straw
  743. burn your bridges
  744. cross that bridge when you come to it
  745. hold no brief for
  746. bright and early
  747. as bright as a button
  748. the bright lights
  749. bright spark
  750. bright young thing
  751. look on the bright side
  752. bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
  753. bring home the bacon
  754. bring the house down
  755. bring something home to someone
  756. bring something into play
  757. bring someone to book
  758. the British disease
  759. broad in the beam