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.

The Cambridge University Press is respected worldwide for its commitment to advancing knowledge, education, learning and research. It was founded on a Royal Charter granted to the University by Henry VIII in 1534 and has been operating continuously as a printer and publisher since the first Press book was printed in 1584.

Here is the list of idioms beginning with

  1. the acceptable face of
  2. a face as long as a fiddle
  3. face the music
  4. get out of his face
  5. have the brass face to
  6. in your face
  7. lose face
  8. make faces
  9. pull faces
  10. not just a pretty face
  11. off your face
  12. put a brave face on something
  13. put a bold face on something
  14. put a good face on something
  15. save face
  16. save his face
  17. set your face against
  18. his face fits
  19. throw something back in his face
  20. a fact of life
  21. the facts of life
  22. do a fade
  23. without fail
  24. a faint heart
  25. not have the faintest idea
  26. fair and square
  27. a fair crack of the whip
  28. a fair deal
  29. fair dinkum
  30. fair dos
  31. a fair field and no favour
  32. fair play to someone
  33. fairs fair
  34. for fair
  35. it is a fair cop
  36. no fair
  37. away with the fairies
  38. fall apart at the seams
  39. fall between two stools
  40. fall from grace
  41. fall into line
  42. fall off the back of a lorry
  43. fall on deaf ears
  44. fall on your feet
  45. land on your feet
  46. fall on stony ground
  47. fall over backwards
  48. fall prey to
  49. fall short of
  50. take the fall
  51. a false dawn
  52. the family jewels
  53. your family jewels
  54. in the family way
  55. sell the family silver
  56. famous for being famous
  57. famous for fifteen minutes
  58. famous last words
  59. fancy your chances
  60. trip the light fantastic
  61. be a far cry from
  62. far and away
  63. far be it from me to
  64. far be it for me to
  65. so far so good
  66. to a fare-thee-well
  67. buy the farm
  68. fast and furious
  69. play fast and loose
  70. in the fast lane
  71. pull a fast one
  72. the fat is in the fire
  73. live off the fat of the land
  74. live on the fat of the land
  75. a fate worse than death
  76. seal his fate
  77. tempt fate
  78. founding father
  79. How is your father?
  80. like father like son
  81. to a fault
  82. kill the fatted calf
  83. do me a favour
  84. do someone a favour
  85. favourite son
  86. put the fear of God into someone
  87. without fear or favour
  88. feast your eyes on
  89. feast of reason
  90. feast or famine
  91. a ghost at the feast
  92. a spectre at the feast
  93. a movable feast
  94. a feather in your cap
  95. feather your nest
  96. feather own nest
  97. in high feather
  98. in fine feather
  99. show the white feather
  100. fed up to the teeth
  101. fed up to the back teeth
  102. feel your age
  103. feel his collar
  104. feel the draught
  105. feel your oats
  106. feel the pinch
  107. feel the pulse of
  108. in one fell swoop
  109. at one fell swoop
  110. mend fences
  111. mend your fences
  112. over the fence
  113. sit on the fence
  114. fetch and carry
  115. Bhagavad Gita in 90 Seconds
  116. in fine fettle
  117. few and far between
  118. have a few
  119. a face as long as a fiddle
  120. fiddle while Rome burns
  121. fit as a fiddle
  122. hang up your fiddle
  123. hang up your fiddle when you come home
  124. on the fiddle
  125. play second fiddle to
  126. a fair field and no favour
  127. hold the field
  128. play the field
  129. something fierce
  130. famous for fifteen minutes
  131. fifth column
  132. take the fifth
  133. in full fig
  134. not give a fig
  135. not care a fig
  136. fight fire with fire
  137. fight like cat and dog
  138. fight a losing battle
  139. fight or flight
  140. fight shy of
  141. fight tooth and nail
  142. figure of fun
  143. fill the bill
  144. fill his shoes
  145. fill his boots
  146. the final straw
  147. find your feet
  148. find God
  149. find it in your heart to do something
  150. finders keepers
  151. losers weepers
  152. cut it fine
  153. cut things fine
  154. fine feathers
  155. not to put too fine a point on it
  156. one fine day
  157. have something down to a fine art
  158. get something down to a fine art
  159. the finer points of
  160. your finest hour
  161. finest
  162. be all fingers and thumbs
  163. burn your fingers
  164. get your fingers burned
  165. get your fingers burnt
  166. cross your fingers
  167. get your finger out
  168. pull your finger out
  169. give someone the finger
  170. have a finger in every pie
  171. have a finger in the pie
  172. have your fingers in the till
  173. have your hand in the till
  174. with your fingers in the till
  175. with your hand in the till
  176. have your finger on the pulse
  177. keep your finger on the pulse
  178. lay a finger on
  179. point the finger
  180. put something on the long finger
  181. put the finger on
  182. put your finger on
  183. snap your fingers
  184. click your fingers
  185. twist someone around your little finger
  186. wind someone around your little finger
  187. wrap someone around your little finger
  188. work your fingers to the bone
  189. your fingers itch
  190. at your fingertips
  191. by your fingertips
  192. to your fingertips
  193. a fight to the finish
  194. the finished article
  195. catch fire
  196. breathe fire
  197. fire and brimstone
  198. fire in the belly
  199. fire in your belly
  200. go through fire
  201. go through fire and water
  202. light a fire under someone
  203. play with fire
  204. set the world on fire
  205. set the world alight
  206. under fire
  207. Where is the fire?
  208. visiting fireman
  209. firing on all cylinders
  210. firing on all four cylinders
  211. be on firm ground
  212. a firm hand
  213. first among equals
  214. first blood
  215. first come first served
  216. first off
  217. first past the post
  218. first thing
  219. first things first
  220. first up
  221. get to first base
  222. of the first order
  223. of the first magnitude
  224. of the first water
  225. big fish
  226. a big fish in a small pond
  227. a big fish in a pond
  228. drink like a fish
  229. fish in troubled waters
  230. fish or cut bait
  231. a fish out of water
  232. have other fish to fry
  233. have bigger fish to fry
  234. like shooting fish in a barrel
  235. neither fish nor fowl
  236. neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring
  237. a pretty kettle of fish
  238. a fine kettle of fish
  239. there are plenty more fish in the sea
  240. a fishing expedition
  241. an iron fist in a velvet glove
  242. make a good fist of
  243. make a poor fist of
  244. fit the bill
  245. fill the bill
  246. fit as a fiddle
  247. fit as a flea
  248. fit for the gods
  249. fit like a glove
  250. fit to be tied
  251. fit to bust
  252. give someone a fit
  253. in fits
  254. by fits and starts
  255. in fits and starts
  256. take five
  257. fix his wagon
  258. get a fix on
  259. fly the flag
  260. keep the flag flying
  261. put the flags out
  262. show the flag
  263. wrap yourself in the flag
  264. run something up the flagpole
  265. an old flame
  266. shoot someone down in flames
  267. shoot something down in flames
  268. her ears are flapping
  269. flash in the pan
  270. quick as a flash
  271. fall flat
  272. fall flat on your face
  273. flat as a pancake
  274. flat out
  275. on the flat
  276. catch someone flat-footed
  277. flatter to deceive
  278. go flatting
  279. flavour of the month
  280. fit as a flea
  281. a flea in your ear
  282. go the way of all flesh
  283. in the flesh
  284. make his flesh creep
  285. make his flesh crawl
  286. put flesh on something
  287. put flesh on the bones of something
  288. your pound of flesh
  289. your flesh and blood
  290. own flesh and blood
  291. flex your muscles
  292. flexible friend
  293. give someone the flick
  294. get the flick
  295. in full flight
  296. flip your lid
  297. do a moonlight flit
  298. float his boat
  299. flog a dead horse
  300. be in full flood
  301. cross the floor
  302. from the floor
  303. take the floor
  304. flotsam and jetsam
  305. go with the flow
  306. in full flow
  307. the flower of life
  308. bit of fluff
  309. a busted flush
  310. in the first flush
  311. flutter the dovecotes
  312. flutter your eyelashes
  313. die like flies
  314. drop like flies
  315. drink with the flies
  316. fly the coop
  317. fly the flag
  318. fly high
  319. a fly in amber
  320. fly in the face of
  321. a fly in the ointment
  322. fly a kite
  323. fly the nest
  324. fly off the handle
  325. a fly on the wall
  326. a fly on the wheel
  327. like a blue-arsed fly
  328. on the fly
  329. there are no flies on him
  330. would not hurt a fly
  331. would not harm a fly
  332. take a flyer
  333. with flying colours
  334. be in like Flynn
  335. foam at the mouth
  336. in a fog
  337. not have the foggiest idea
  338. not have the foggiest notion
  339. follow in his footsteps
  340. follow your nose
  341. follow suit
  342. food for thought
  343. fools rush in where angels fear to tread
  344. a fool and his money are soon parted
  345. be no fool
  346. be nobody’s fool
  347. fools gold
  348. more fool you
  349. there is no fool like an old fool
  350. dig in your feet
  351. drag your feet
  352. fall on your feet
  353. foot the bill
  354. get off on the right foot
  355. start off on the right foot
  356. get off on the wrong foot
  357. start off on the wrong foot
  358. get your feet under the table
  359. get your feet wet
  360. have feet of clay
  361. have a foot in both camps
  362. have a foot in the door
  363. get a foot in the door
  364. have one foot in the grave
  365. have your feet on the ground
  366. keep your feet on the ground
  367. have something at your feet
  368. keep your feet
  369. put your best foot forward
  370. put foot
  371. put your foot down
  372. put your foot in it
  373. put your foot in your mouth
  374. put a foot wrong
  375. be run off your feet
  376. six feet under
  377. sweep someone off their feet
  378. think on your feet
  379. vote with your feet
  380. footloose and fancy-free
  381. play footsie with someone
  382. follow in his footsteps
  383. tread in his footsteps
  384. be for it
  385. there is name for you
  386. that is name for you
  387. forbidden fruit
  388. force his hand
  389. force the issue
  390. force the pace
  391. in force
  392. take time by the forelock
  393. touch your forelock
  394. tug your forelock
  395. morton’s fork
  396. with forked tongue
  397. a forlorn hope
  398. a matter of form
  399. fortune favours the brave
  400. the fortunes of war
  401. a small fortune
  402. soldier of fortune
  403. forty winks
  404. foul your own nest
  405. founding father
  406. on all fours with
  407. to the four winds
  408. the fourth estate
  409. crazy like a fox
  410. be in the frame
  411. out of the frame
  412. Frankenstein’s monster
  413. for free
  414. free and easy
  415. free, gratis and for nothing
  416. a free rein
  417. it is a free country
  418. make free with
  419. there is no such thing as a free lunch
  420. freeze the balls off a brass monkey
  421. freeze your blood
  422. excuse my French
  423. pardon my French
  424. take French leave
  425. be fresh out of something
  426. break fresh ground
  427. a breath of fresh air
  428. fresh as a daisy
  429. fresh blood
  430. a fair-weather friend
  431. flexible friend
  432. a friend at court
  433. friends in high places
  434. look a fright
  435. frighten the daylights out of
  436. frighten the life out of
  437. frightened of your own shadow
  438. be frightened out of your wits
  439. be frightened to death
  440. put the frighteners on
  441. go on the fritz
  442. be on the fritz
  443. have a frog in your throat
  444. front of house
  445. on the front burner
  446. it will be a frosty friday
  447. it will be a frosty friday in july
  448. froth at the mouth
  449. foam at the mouth
  450. bear fruit
  451. out of the frying pan into the fire
  452. fudge factor
  453. add fuel to the fire
  454. add fuel to the flames
  455. at full cock
  456. at full stretch
  457. come full circle
  458. in full cry
  459. full as a goog
  460. the full monty
  461. full of beans
  462. full of years
  463. at full pelt
  464. full steam ahead
  465. full speed ahead
  466. in full fig
  467. in full flight
  468. in full flow
  469. in full swing
  470. not the full quid
  471. not playing with a full deck
  472. on a full stomach
  473. to the full
  474. full whack
  475. the fullness of your heart
  476. the fullness of the heart
  477. in the fullness of time
  478. poke fun at
  479. in funds
  480. it is his funeral
  481. that is his funeral
  482. see the funny side of something
  483. be all fur coat and no knickers
  484. fur and feather
  485. the fur will fly
  486. give someone furiously to think
  487. part of the furniture
  488. like fury
  489. light the fuse
  490. future shock

Face like thunder: If someone has a face like thunder, they are clearly very angry or upset about something.

Face the music: If you have to face the music, you have to accept the negative consequences of something you have done wrong.

Face value: If you take something at face value, you accept the appearance rather than looking deeper into the matter.

Face your demons: If you face your demons, you confront your fears or something that you have been trying hard to avoid.

Facts of life: When someone is taught the facts of life, they learn about sex and reproduction.

Failure is the mother of success: Failure is often a stepping stone towards success.

Faint heart never won fair lady: This means that you will not get the partner of your dreams if you lack the confidence to let them know how you feel.

Fair and square: If someone wins something fair and square, they follow the rules and win conclusively.

Fair crack of the whip: (UK) If everybody has a fair crack of the whip, they all have equal opportunities to do something.

Fair shake of the whip: (USA) If everybody has a fair shake of the whip, they all have equal opportunities to do something.

Fair thee well: Meaning completely and fully: I am tied up today to a fair-thee-well.

Fairweather friend: A fair-weather friend is the type who is always there when times are good but forgets about you when things get difficult or problems crop up.

Fall by the wayside: To fall by the wayside is to give up or fail before completion.

Fall off the back of a lorry: (UK) If someone tries to sell you something that has fallen of the back of a lorry, they are trying to sell you stolen goods.

Fall off the turnip truck: (USA) If someone has just fallen off the turnip truck, they are uninformed, naive and gullible. (Often used in the negative)

Fall on our feet: If you fall on your feet, you succeed in doing something where there was a risk of failure.

Fall on your sword: If someone falls on their sword, they resign or accept the consequences of some wrongdoing.

Familiarity breeds contempt: This means that the more you know something or someone, the more you start to find faults and dislike things about it or them.

Famous last words: This expression is used as a way of showing disbelief, rejection or self-deprecation.’ They said we had no chance of winning- famous last words!'

Fast and furious: Things that happen fast and furious happen very quickly without stopping or pausing.

Fat cat: A fat cat is a person who makes a lot of money and enjoys a privileged position in society.

Fat chance! : This idiom is a way of telling someone they have no chance.

Fat head: A fat head is a dull, stupid person.

Fat hits the fire: When the fat hits the fire, trouble breaks out.

Fat of the land: Living off the fat of the land means having the best of everything in life

Fate worse than death: Describing something as a fate worse than death is a fairly common way of implying that it is unpleasant.

Feather in your cap: A success or achievement that may help you in the future is a feather in your cap.

Feather your own nest: If someone feathers their own nest, they use their position or job for personal gain.

Feathers fly: When people are fighting or arguing angrily, we can say that feathers are flying.

Fed up to the back teeth: When you are extremely irritated and fed up with something or someone, you are fed up to the back teeth.

Feel at home: If you feel relaxed and comfortable somewhere or with someone, you feel at home.

Feel free: If you ask for permission to do something and are told to feel free, the other person means that there is absolutely no problem

Feel like a million: If you feel like a million, you are feeling very well (healthy) and happy.

Feel the pinch: If someone is short of money or feeling restricted in some other way, they are feeling the pinch.

Feeling blue: If you feel blue, you are feeling unwell, mainly associated with depression or unhappiness.

Feet of clay: If someone has feet of clay, they have flaws that make them seem more human and like normal people.

Feet on the ground: A practical and realistic person has their feet on the ground.

Fence sitter: Someone that try to support both side of an argument without committing to either is a fence sitter.

Fiddle while Rome burns: If people are fiddling while Rome burns, they are wasting their time on futile things while problems threaten to destroy them.

Fifth columnist: (UK) A fifth columnist is a member of a subversive organisation who tries to help an enemy invade.

Fifth wheel: (USA) A fifth wheel is something unnecessary or useless.

Fight an uphill battle: When you fight an uphill battle, you have to struggle against very unfavourable circumstances.

Fight tooth and nail: If someone will fight tooth and nail for something, they will not stop at anything to get what they want. ('Fight tooth and claw' is an alternative.)

Fighting chance: If you have a fighting chance, you have a reasonable possibility of success.

Find your feet: When you are finding your feet, you are in the process of gaining confidence and experience in something.

Fine and dandy: (UK) If thing's are fine and dandy, then everything is going well.

Fine tuning: Small adjustments to improve something or to get it working are called fine tuning.

Fine words butter no parsnips: This idiom means that it's easy to talk, but talk is not action.

Finger in the pie: If you have a finger in the pie, you have an interest in something.

Fingers and thumbs: If you are all fingers and thumbs, you are being clumsy and not very skilled with your hands.

Fire away: If you want to ask someone a question and they tell you to fire away, they mean that you are free to ask what you want.

Fire on all cylinders: If something is firing on all cylinders, it is going as well as it could.

First come, first served: This means there will be no preferential treatment and a service will be provided to those that arrive first.

First out of the gate: When someone is first out of the gate, they are the first to do something that others are trying to do.

First port of call: The first place you stop to do something is your first port of call.

Fish or cut bait: (USA) This idiom is used when you want to tell someone that it is time to take action.

Fish out of water: If you are placed in a situation that is completely new to you and confuses you, you are like a fish out of water.

Fishy: If there is something fishy about someone or something, there is something suspicious; a feeling that there is something wrong, though it isn't clear what it is.

Fit as a fiddle: If you are fit as a fiddle, you are in perfect health.

Fit for a king: If something is fit for a king, it is of the very highest quality or standard.

Fit of pique: If someone reacts badly because their pride is hurt, this is a fit of pique.

Fit the bill: If something fits the bill, it is what is required for the task.

Fit to be tied: If someone is fit to be tied, they are extremely angry.

Flash in the pan: If something is a flash in the pan, it is very noticeable but doesn't last long, like most singers, who are very successful for a while, then forgotten.

Flat as a pancake: It is so flat that it is like a pancake- there is no head on that beer it is as flat as a pancake.

Flat out: If you work flat out, you work as hard and fast as you possibly can.

Fleet of foot: If someone is fleet of foot, they are very quick.

Flesh and blood: Your flesh and blood are your blood relatives, especially your immediate family.

Flogging a dead horse: (UK) If someone is trying to convince people to do or feel something without any hope of succeeding, they're flogging a dead horse. This is used when someone is trying to raise interest in an issue that no-one supports anymore; beating a dead horse will not make it do any more work.

Flowery speech: Flowery speech is full of lovely words, but may well lack substance.

Fly by the seat of one's pants: If you fly by the seat of one's pants, you do something difficult even though you don't have the experience or training required.

Fly in the ointment: A fly in the ointment is something that spoils or prevents complete enjoyment of something.

Fly off the handle: If someone flies off the handle, they get very angry.

Fly on the wall: If you are able to see and hear events as they happen, you are a fly on the wall.

Fly the coop: When children leave home to live away from their parents, they fly the coop.

Fly the flag: If someone flies the flag, they represent or support their country. ('Wave the flag' and 'show the flag' are alternative forms of this idiom)

Food for thought: If something is food for thought, it is worth thinking about or considering seriously.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me: This means that you should learn from your mistakes and not allow people to take advantage of you repeatedly.

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread: This idiom is used where people who are inexperienced or lack knowledge do something that more informed people would avoid.

Foot in mouth: This is used to describe someone who has just said something embarrassing, inappropriate, wrong or stupid.

Foot in the door: If you have or get your foot in the door, you start working in a company or organisation at a low level, hoping that you will be able to progress from there.

Foot the bill: The person who foots the bill pays the bill for everybody.

Football's a game of two halves: (UK) If something's a game of two halves, it means that it's possible for someone's fortunes or luck to change and the person who's winning could end up a loser.

For a song: If you buy or sell something for a song, it is very cheap.

For donkey's years: (UK) If people have done something, usually without much if any change, for an awfully long time, they can be said to have done it for donkey's years.

For England: (UK) A person who talks for England, talks a lot- if you do something for England, you do it a lot or to the limit.

For kicks: If you do something for kicks, or just for kicks, you do it purely for fun or thrills.

For my money: This idiom means 'in my opinion'.

For Pete's sake: This is used as an exclamation to show exasperation or irritation.

For the birds: If something is worthless or ridiculous, it is for the birds.

For the love of Pete: Usually used in exasperation, as in 'Oh, for the love of Pete!'

For the time being: For the time being indicates that an action or state will continue into the future, but is temporary. I'm sharing an office for the time being.

Forbidden fruit: Something enjoyable that is illegal or immoral is forbidden fruit.

Foregone conclusion: If the result of, say, a football match is a foregone conclusion, then the result is obvious before the game has even begun.

Forest for the trees: (USA) If someone can't see the forest for the trees, they get so caught up in small details that they fail to understand the bigger picture.

Fortune knocks once at every man's door: Everyone gets one good chance in a lifetime.

Foul play: If the police suspect foul play, they think a crime was committed.

Four corners of the earth: If something goes to, or comes from, the four corners of the earth, it goes or comes absolutely everywhere.

Four-eyes: A person who wears glasses

Four-square behind: If someone stands four-square behind someone, they give that person their full support.

Fourth estate: This is an idiomatic way of describing the media, especially the newspapers.

Free rein: If someone has a free rein, they have the authority to make the decisions they want without any restrictions. ('Free reign' is a common mistake.)

Free-for-all: A free-for-all is a fight or contest in which everyone gets involved and rules are not respected.

Fresh from the oven: If something is fresh from the oven, it is very new.

Freudian Slip: If someone makes a Freudian slip, they accidentally use the wrong word, but in doing so reveal what they are really thinking rather than what they think the other person wants to hear.

Friendly footing: When relationships are on a friendly footing, they are going well.

From a different angle: If you look at something from a different angle, you look at it from a different point of view.

From Missouri: (USA) If someone is from Missouri, then they require clear proof before they will believe something.

From pillar to post: If something is going from pillar to post, it is moving around in a meaningless way, from one disaster to another.

From rags to riches: Someone who starts life very poor and makes a fortune goes from rags to riches.

From scratch: This idiom means 'from the beginning'.

From soup to nuts: If you do something from soup to nuts, you do it from the beginning right to the very end.

From the bottom of your heart: If someone does something from the bottom of their heart, then they do it with genuine emotion and feeling.

From the get-go: (USA) If something happens from the get-go, it happens from the very beginning.

From the horse's mouth: If you hear something from the horse's mouth, you hear it directly from the person concerned or responsible.

From the sublime to the ridiculous: If something declines considerably in quality or importance, it is said to have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous.

From the word go: From the word go means from the very beginning of something.

Full bore: If something is full bore, it involves the maximum effort or is complete and thorough.

Full circle: When something has come full circle, it has ended up where it started.

Full Monty: (UK) If something is the Full Monty, it is the real thing, not reduced in any way.

Full of beans: If someone's full of beans, they are very energetic.

Full of hot air: Someone who is full of hot air talks a lot of rubbish.

Full of oneself: Someone who acts in an arrogant or egotistical manner is full of himself/herself.

Full of piss and vinegar: Someone who's full of piss and vinegar is full of youthful energy.

Full of the joys of spring: If you are full of the joys of spring, you are very happy and full of energy.

Full swing: If a something is in full swing, it is going or doing well.

Fullness of time: If something happens in the fullness of time, it will happen when the time is right and appropriate.

Fur coat and no knickers: Someone with airs and graces, but no real class is fur coat and no knickers.

Fuzzy thinking: Thinking or ideas that do not agree with the facts or information available

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