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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Here is the list of idioms beginning with S
: Something that is a sacred cow is held in such respect that it cannot be criticised or attacked.
Safe and sound
: If you arrive safe and sound, then nothing has harmed you on your way.
: A proposition that is a safe bet doesn't have any risks attached.
Safe pair of hands
: A person who can be trusted to do something without causing any trouble is a safe pair of hands.
Safety in numbers
: If a lot of people do something risky at the same time, the risk is reduced because there is safety in numbers.
: (USA) A Saigon moment is when people realize that something has gone wrong and that they will lose or fail.
Sail close to the wind
: If you sail close to the wind, you take risks to do something, going close to the limit of what is allowed or acceptable.
Sail under false colors
: Someone who sails under false colors (colors) is hypocritical or pretends to be something they aren't in order to deceive people.
: Your salad days are an especially happy period of your life.
Salt in a wound
: If you rub salt in a wound, you make someone feel bad about something that is already a painful experience. 'Pour salt on a wound' is an alternative form of the idiom.
Salt of the earth
: People who are salt of the earth are decent, dependable and unpretentious.
: A salty dog is an experienced sailor.
Same old, same old
: When nothing changes, it's the same old, same old.
: If someone saves face, they manage to protect their reputation.
Save someone's bacon
: If something saves your bacon, it saves your life or rescues you from a desperate situation. People can also save your bacon.
Save your skin
: If someone saves their skin, they manage to avoid getting into serious trouble.
Saved by the bell
: If you are saved by the bell, you are rescued from a danger or a tricky situation just in time.
: If someone has some character defects, but has a characteristic that compensate for their failings and shortcomings, this is their saving grace.
: (USA) If you say uncle, you admit defeat. ('Cry uncle' is an alternative form.)
: People say this when pouring a drink as a way of telling you to tell them when there's enough in your glass.
: If you do something on someone else's say-so, you do it on the authority, advice or recommendation.
Scales fall from your eyes
: When the scales fall from your eyes, you suddenly realize the truth about something.
Scare the daylights out of someone
: If you scare the daylights out of someone, you terrify them. (This can be made even stronger by saying 'the living daylights'.)
: This idiom is used as a pejorative term for a sexually promiscuous woman, especially an adulteress.
Scattered to the four winds
: If something's scattered to the four winds, it goes out in all directions.
: If you can scent blood, you feel that a rival is having difficulties and you are going to beat them.
: When people take it in turns to choose a member of a team, it is a schoolyard pick.
: If someone escapes Scot free, they avoid payment or punishment. 'Scot' is an old word for a tax, so it originally referred to avoiding taxes, though now has a wider sense of not being punished for someone that you have done.
Scraping the barrel
: When all the best people, things or ideas and so on are used up and people try to make do with what they have left, they are scraping the barrel.
Scream blue murder
: If someone shouts very loudly in anger, or fear, they scream blue murder.
: If someone has a screw loose, they are crazy.
Screwed if you do, screwed if you don't
: This means that no matter what you decide or do in a situation, there will be negative consequences.
: If you are getting your sea legs, it takes you a while to get used to something new.
: The seamy side of something is the unpleasant or sordid aspect it has.
: A searching question goes straight to the heart of the subject matter, possibly requiring an answer with a degree of honesty that the other person finds uncomfortable.
: If some has second thoughts, they start to think that an idea, etc, is not as good as it sounded at first and are starting to have doubts.
: If you overcome tiredness and find new energy and enthusiasm, you have second wind.
See eye to eye
: If people see eye to eye, they agree about everything.
: If someone sees red, they become very angry about something.
See the light
: When someone sees the light, they realize the truth.
See you anon
: (UK) If somebody says this when leaving, they expect to see you again soon.
See you later
: A casual way of saying to friends I'll see you again, sometime, (without a definite date or time having been set) - this is often abbreviated to 'Later' or 'Laters' as an alternative way of saying goodbye.
See you on the big drum
: A good night phrase to children
: Seed money is money that is used to start a small business.
Seeing is believing
: This idiom means that people can only really believe what they experience personally.
Seen better days
: If something's seen better days, it has aged badly and visibly compared to when it was new. The phrase can also be used to describe people.
Sell down the river
: If you sell someone down the river, you betray their trust.
Sell like hot cakes
: If a product is selling very well, it is selling like hot cakes.
Sell like hotcakes
: If something is selling like hotcakes, it is very popular and selling very well.
Sell your birthright for a mess of pottage
: If a person sells their birthright for a mess of pottage, they accept some trivial financial or other gain, but lose something much more important. 'Sell your soul for a mess of pottage' is an alternative form.
Sell your soul
: If someone sells their soul, they betray the most precious beliefs.
Send someone packing
: If you send someone packing, you send them away, normally when they want something from you.
Send someone to Coventry
: (UK) If you send someone to Coventry, you refuse to talk to them or co-operate with them.
Separate the sheep from the goats
: If you separate the sheep from the goats, you sort out the good from the bad.
Separate the wheat from the chaff
: When you separate the wheat from the chaff, you select what is useful or valuable and reject what is useless or worthless.
: When someone is serving time, they are in prison.
Set in stone
: If something is set in stone, it cannot be changed or altered.
Set the wheels in motion
: When you set the wheels in motion, you get something started.
Set your sights on
: If you set your sights on someone or something, it is your ambition to beat them or to achieve that goal.
Seven sheets to the wind
: If someone is seven sheets to the wind, they are very drunk.
: If you are in seventh heaven, you are extremely happy.
Shades of meaning
: Shades of meaning is a phrase used to describe the small, subtle differences in meaning between similar words or phrases; 'kid' and 'youth' both refer to young people, but carry differing views and ideas about young people.
Shaggy dog story
: A shaggy dog story is a joke which is a long story with a silly end.
Shake a leg
: If you shake a leg, you are out of bed and active.
: (UK) If you go somewhere by Shanks's pony, you walk there.
Shape up or ship out
: If someone has to shape up or ship out, they have to improve or leave their job, organization, etc.
Sharp as a tack
: (USA) If someone is as sharp as a tack, they are very clever indeed.
: Someone who isn't easily deceived or fooled is a sharp cookie.
: If you shed light on something, you make it clearer and easier to understand.
: If the sands are shifting, circumstances are changing.
: If people shilly-shally, they can't make up their minds about something and put off the decision
Ship came in
: If your ship has come in, something very good has happened to you.
Shipshape and Bristol fashion
: If things are shipshape and Bristol fashion, they are in perfect working order
Shoe is on the other foot
: If the shoe is on the other foot, someone is experiencing what they used to make others experience, normally negative things.
: If you do something on a shoestring, you try to spend the absolute minimum amount of money possible on it.
Shoot down in flames
: If someone demolishes your argument, it (and you) have been shot down in flames.
Shoot from the hip
: Someone who shoots from the hip talks very directly or insensitively without thinking beforehand.
Shoot the breeze
: When you shoot the breeze, you chat in a relaxed way.
Shoot yourself in the foot
: If you shoot yourself in the foot, you do something that damages your ambition, career, etc.
Shooting fish in a barrel
: If something is like shooting fish in a barrel, it is so easy that success is guaranteed.
: 'Shop floor' refers to the part of an organization where the work is actually performed rather than just managed.
Short end of the stick
: If someone gets the short end of the stick, they are unfairly treated or don't get what they deserve.
Short horse soon curried
: A convenient and superficial explanation that is normally unconvincing is a short horse soon curried.
: If somebody gives you short shrift, they treat you rudely and brusquely, showing no interest or sympathy.
: If you are short-changed, someone cheats you of money or doesn't give you full value for something.
Shot across the bow
: A shot across the bow is a warning to tell someone to stop doing something or face very serious consequences.
Shot in the dark
: If you have a shot in the dark at something, you try something where you have little hope of success.
: A shotgun marriage, or shotgun wedding, is one that is forced because of pregnancy. It is also used idiomatically for a compromise, agreement or arrangement that is forced upon groups or people by necessity.
Show me the money
: When people say this, they either want to know how much they will be paid for something or want to see evidence that something is valuable or worth paying for.
Show someone a clean pair of heels
: If you show someone a clean pair of heels, you run faster than them when they are chasing you.
Show someone the ropes
: If you show someone the ropes, you explain to someone new how things work and how to do a job.
Show your true colors
: To show your true colors is to reveal yourself as you really are.
: A shrinking violet is a shy person who doesn't express their views and opinions.
Sick and tired
: If you are sick and tired of something, it has been going on for a long time and you can no longer tolerate it.
Sick as a dog
: If somebody's as sick as a dog, they throw up (=vomit) violently.
Sick as a parrot
: If someone's sick as a parrot about something, they are unhappy, disappointed or depressed about it.
Sick to death
: If you are sick to death of something, you have been exposed to so much of it that you cannot take any more.
Sight for sore eyes
: Someone or something that is a sight for sore eyes is a pleasure to see.
Sight to behold
: If something is a sight to behold, it means that seeing it is in some way special, either spectacularly beautiful or, equally, incredibly ugly or revolting, etc.
Signed, sealed and delivered
: If something's signed, sealed and delivered, it has been done correctly, following all the necessary procedures.
Silence is golden
: It is often better to say nothing than to talk, so silence is golden.
: The silly season is midsummer when Parliament is closed and nothing much is happening that is newsworthy, which reduces the press to reporting trivial and stupid stories.
: A silver bullet is a complete solution to a large problem, a solution that seems magical.
: The silver screen is the cinema.
: A silver surfer is an elderly person who uses the internet.
Since time immemorial
: If something has happened since time immemorial, it's been going on for such a long time that nobody can remember a time without it.
Sing from the same hymn sheet
: If people are singing from the same hymn sheet, they are expressing the same opinions in public.
Sink or swim
: Of you are left to sink or swim, no one gives you any help and it's up to you whether you fail or succeed.
Sit on the fence
: If someone sits on the fence, they try not to support either side in a dispute.
: Someone who's sitting pretty is in a very advantageous situation.
: A sitting duck is something or someone that is easy to criticize or target.
Six feet under
: If someone is six feet under, they are dead.
Six of one and half-a-dozen of the other
: This is an idiom used when there is little or no difference between two options.
Sixes and sevens
: If something is all at sixes and sevens, then there is a lot of disagreement and confusion about what should be done.
: The sixty-four-thousand-dollar-question is the most important question that can be asked about something.
Skate on thin ice
: If someone is skating on thin ice, they are taking a big risk.
Skeleton in the closet
: If someone has a skeleton in the closet, they have a dark, shameful secret in their past that they want to remain secret.
Skin and bones
: If someone is skin and bones, they are very underweight and look bad.
Skin in the game
: A person who has skin in the game has invested in the company they are running.
Skin someone alive
: If someone skins you alive, they admonish and punish you hard.
: An unauthorized, or hidden program or activity, often research-oriented, and out of the bureaucratic chain of command is known as a 'skunk works'.
Sky is the limit
: When people say that the sky is the limit, they think that there are no limits to the possibilities something could have.
Slap on the wrist
: If someone gets a slap on the wrist, they get a very minor punishment when they could have been punished more severely.
Sleep like a baby
: If you sleep very well, you sleep like a baby.
Sleep like a log
: If you sleep like a log, you sleep very soundly.
Sleep well- don't let the bedbugs bite
: This is a way of wishing someone a good night's sleep.
Sleight of hand
: Sleight of hand is the ability to use your hands in a clever way, like a magician performing tricks you can't see.
: A slim chance is a very small chance.
Slip of the tongue
: If you say something accidentally, it is a slip of the tongue.
Slip through one's fingers
: If something slips through one’s fingers it escapes or is lost through carelessness.
: A person from whom it is difficult to get anything definite or fixed is a slippery customer.
: A slippery slope is where a measure would lead to further worse measures.
Slough of despond
: If someone is very depressed or in despair, they're in a slough of despond.
Slow and steady wins the race
: This expression means that consistency, although progress may be slow, will eventually be more beneficial than being hasty or careless just to get something done.
Slow boat to China
: This idiom is used to describe something that is very slow and takes a long time.
Slow but sure
: If something or someone is slow but sure, they may take their time to do something, but they are reliable.
Slower than molasses going uphill in January
: (USA) To move extremely slowly. Molasses drips slowly anyway but add January cold and gravity, dripping uphill would be an impossibility, thereby making the molasses move very slowly indeed!
Slowly, slowly catchy monkey
: This means that eventually you will achieve your goal.
Sly as a fox
: Someone who is as sly as a fox is cunning and experienced and can get what they want, often in an underhand way.
Smack in the face
: If something is a smack in the face, it is a shock, usually one that impedes progress.
: If something is small beer, it's unimportant.
Small dog, tall weeds
: This idiom is used to describe someone the speaker does not believe has the ability or resources to handle a task or job.
: If someone is small fry, they are unimportant. The term is often used when the police arrest the less important criminals, but are unable to catch the leaders and masterminds.
: If a person or a thing is called 'small-time' it means they're inconsequential, not worth much, don't play in the 'big leagues', as in 'a small-time operator'.
: A smart Alec is a conceited person who likes to show off how clever and knowledgeable they are.
Smart as a whip
: A person who is smart as a whip is very clever.
: A smarty pants is someone who displays the intelligence in an annoying way.
Smell a rat
: If you smell a rat, you know instinctively that something is wrong or that someone is lying to you.
Smoke and mirrors
: An attempt to conceal something is smoke and mirrors.
Smoke like a chimney
: Someone who smokes very heavily smokes like a chimney.
Smoke the peace pipe
: If people smoke the peace pipe, they stop arguing and fighting.
: Heavy industries like iron and steel production, especially if they produce a lot of pollution, are smokestack industries.
: A smoking gun is definitive proof of someone's guilt.
Smooth as a baby's bottom
: If something is smooth as a baby's bottom, it has a regular, flat surface.
: If something is smooth sailing, then you can progress without difficulty. ('Plain sailing' is an also used.)
Snake in the grass
: Someone who is a snake in the grass betrays you even though you have trusted them.
: Advice or medicine which is of no use
Snake oil salesperson
: A person who promotes something that doesn't work, is selling snake oil.
: (USA) A snow job is an attempt to persuade or deceive someone, especially when flattery is used.
Snug as a bug in a rug
: If you're as snug as a bug in a rug, you are feeling very comfortable indeed.
So it goes
: This idiom is used to be fatalistic and accepting when something goes wrong.
So on and so forth
: And so on and so forth mean the same as etcetera (etc.).
: Sod's law states that if something can go wrong then it will.
Soft soap someone
: If you soft soap someone, you flatter them.
Some other time
: If somebody says they'll do something some other time, they mean at some indefinite time in the future, possibly never, but they certainly don't want to feel obliged to fix a specific time or date.
Something nasty in the woodshed
: Something nasty in the woodshed means that someone as a dark secret or an unpleasant experience in their past.
Sound as a bell
: If something or someone is as sound as a bell, they are very healthy or in very good condition.
Sound as a pound
: (UK) if something is as sound as a pound; it is very good or reliable.
: When someone says something critical or negative because they are jealous, it is a case of sour grapes.
Sow the seeds
: When people sow the seeds, they start something that will have a much greater impact in the future.
Sow your wild oats
: If a young man sows his wild oats, he has a period of his life when he does a lot of exciting things and has a lot of sexual relationships. for e.g. He'd spent his twenties sowing his wild oats but felt that it was time to settle down.
: Unauthorized working methods that benefit those who follow them are Spanish practices.
Spanner in the works
: (UK) If someone puts or throws a spanner in the works, they ruin a plan. In American English, 'wrench' is used instead of 'spanner'.
Spare the rod and spoil the child
: This means that if you don't discipline children, they will become spoilt.
Speak of the devil!
: If you are talking about someone and they happen to walk in, you can use this idiom as a way of letting them know you were talking about them.
: If something speaks volumes, it tells us a lot about the real nature of something or someone, even though it may only be a small detail.
Speak with a forked tongue
: To say one thing and mean another, to lie, to be two-faced
Spend a penny
: (UK) This is a euphemistic idiom meaning to go to the toilet.
Spend like a sailor
: Someone who spends their money wildly spends like a sailor.
Spick and span
: If a room is spick and span, it is very clean and tidy.
Spill the beans
: If you spill the beans, you reveal a secret or confess to something.
Spin a yarn
: If someone spins a yarn, they tell a story, usually a long or fanciful one.
Spinning a line
: When someone spins you a line, they are trying to deceive you by lying.
Spinning a yarn
: When someone spins you a yarn, they are trying to deceive you by lying.
Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak
: If the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, someone lacks the willpower to change things they do because they derive too much pleasure from them.
Spirit of the law
: The spirit of the law is the idea or ideas that the people who made the law wanted to have effect.
: If someone is spitting blood, they are absolutely furious.
Spit the dummy
: Reference to an infant spitting out their dummy (or pacifier) in order to cry. 'To spit the dummy' is to give up.
: If a person is the spitting image of somebody, they look exactly alike.('Spit and image' is also used.)
: If people split hairs, they concentrate on tiny and unimportant details to find fault with something.
Split the blanket
: If people split the blanket, it means they get a divorce or end their relationship.
Spoil the ship for a ha'pworth of tar
: (UK) If someone spoils the ship for a ha'pworth (halfpenny's worth) of tar, they spoil something completely by trying to make a small economy.
: If something is spot on, it is exactly right.
Sprat to catch a mackerel
: If you use a sprat to catch a mackerel, you make a small expenditure or take a small risk in the hope of a much greater gain.
Spur of the moment
: If you do something on the spur of the moment, you do it because you felt like it at that time, without any planning or preparation.
: A Sputnik moment is a point where people realize that they are threatened of challenged and have to redouble their efforts to catch up. It comes from the time when the Soviet Union launched the first satellite, the Sputnik 1, and beat the USA into space.
: A square meal is a substantial or filling meal.
: (UK) The Square Mile is the City, the financial area of London.
Square peg in a round hole
: If somebody's in a situation, organization, etc, where they don't fit in and feel out of place, they are a square peg in a round hole.
: Being prepared or ready for business or tasks at hand. Having the proper knowledge, skill and equipment to handle your assignment or station. 'He is a great addition to the squad; he is squared away.'
: If something is squeaky clean, it is very clean indeed- spotless. If a person is squeaky clean, they have no criminal record and are not suspected of illegal or immoral activities.
Squeaky wheel gets the grease
: (USA) when people say that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, they mean that the person who complains or protests the loudest attracts attention and service.
Squeeze blood out of a turnip
: (USA) when people say that you can't squeeze blood out of a turnip, it means that you cannot get something from a person, especially money that they don't have.
: A stalking horse is a strategy or something used to conceal your intentions. It is often used where someone put themselves forwards as a candidate to divide opponents or to hide the real candidate.
Stand in good stead
: If something will stand you in good stead, it will probably be advantageous in the future.
Stars and stripes
: The stars and stripes is the American flag.
Stars in your eyes
: Someone who dreams of being famous has stars in their eyes.
Start from scratch
: When you start something from scratch, you start at the very beginning.
State of the art
: If something is state of the art, it is the most up-to-date model incorporating the latest and best technology.
: Someone who wants to preserve the status quo wants a particular situation to remain unchanged.
Steal a March
: This expression indicates the stealthiness of a person over another to gain advantage of the situation. For instance, if two persons are offered some jobs which are vacant, they resolve to go together next day at an agreed time, but one of them, without telling the other, goes earlier than the other and secures the better of the two jobs, he is said to steal a march on the other person.
Steal someone's thunder
: If someone steals your thunder, they take the credit and praise for something you did.
Steer clear of
: If you steer clear of something, you avoid it.
Stem the tide
: If people try to stem the tide, they are trying to stop something unpleasant from getting worse, usually when they don't succeed.
Step on it
: This idiom is a way of telling someone to hurry up or to go faster.
Step up to the plate
: If someone steps up to the plate, they take on or accept a challenge or a responsibility.
Stew in your own juices
: If you leave someone to stew in their own juices, you leave them to worry about the consequences of what they have done wrong or badly.
Stick out like a sore thumb
: If something sticks or stands out like a sore thumb, it is clearly and obviously different from the things that are around it.
Stick to your guns
: If you stick to your guns, you keep your position even though people attack or criticize you.
Stick your neck out
: If you stick you neck out, you take a risk because you believe in something.
: A stick-in-the-mud is someone who doesn't like change and wants things to stay the same.
: A stick-in-the-mud is a person who is old-fashioned, does not want to change the way they do things or innovate.
: A sticking point is a controversial issue that blocks progress in negotiations, etc, where compromise is unlikely or impossible.
: (UK) If someone comes to a sticky end, they die in an unpleasant way. ('Meet a sticky end' is also used.)
: The tendency to keep (or steal) an object you touch. Also, to steal something quickly without anyone noticing. (ex: 'You stole that guy's wallet? You have some sticky fingers, my friend.')
: (UK) If you are on a sticky wicket, you are in a difficult situation.
Stiff upper lip
: (UK) If you keep your emotions to yourself and don't let others know how you feel when something bad happens, you keep a stiff upper lip.
: A stiff-necked person is rather formal and finds it hard to relax in company.
Still in the game
: If someone is still in the game, they may be having troubles competing, but they are not yet finished and may come back.
Still waters run deep
: People use this idiom to imply that people who are quiet and don't try to attract attention are often more interesting than people who do try to get attention.
Stitch in time saves nine
: A stitch in time saves nine means that if a job needs doing it is better to do it now, because it will only get worse, like a hole in clothes that requires stitching.
: This idiom is a way of emphasizing that there were absolutely no signs of life or movement.
: If a place is a stone's throw from where you are, it is a very short distance away.
: (USA) A stool pigeon is a police informer.
Storm in a teacup
: If someone exaggerates a problem or makes a small problem seem far greater than it really is, then they are making a storm in a teacup.
: If someone keeps a straight face, they remain serious and do not show emotion or amusement.
Straight from the shoulder
: If someone talks straight from the shoulder, they talk honestly and plainly.
Strain every nerve
: If you strain every nerve, you make a great effort to achieve something.
Strange at the best of times
: To describe someone or something as really weird or unpleasant in a mild way
: A straw man is a weak argument that is easily defeated. It can also be a person who is used as to give an illegal or inappropriate activity an appearance of respectability.
: A straw poll is a small unofficial survey or ballot to find out what people think about an issue.
Straw that broke the camel's back
: The straw that broke the camel's back is the problem that made you lose your temper or the problem that finally brought about the collapse of something.
: If people are streets ahead of their rivals, they are a long way in front.
Strike a chord
: If strikes a chord, it is familiar to you, reminds you of something or is connected to you somehow.
Strike while the iron is hot
: If you strike while the iron is hot you do something when things are going well for you and you have a good chance to succeed.
Stroll down memory lane
: If you take a stroll down memory lane, you talk about the past or revisit places that were important to you in the past. (You can also 'take a trip down memory lane'.)
Strong as an ox
: Someone who's exceedingly strong physically is said to be as strong as an ox.
Stubborn as a mule
: Someone who will not listen to other people's advice and won't change their way of doing things is as stubborn as a mule.
Stuffed to the gills
: If someone is stuffed to the gills, they have eaten a lot and are very full.
Succeed in the clutch
: If you succeed in the clutch, you perform at a crucial time; it is particularly used in sports for the decisive moments of the game. The opposite is 'fail in the clutch.'
: A Sunday driver drives very slowly and makes unexpected maneuvers.
Sure as eggs is eggs
: These means absolutely certain, and we do say 'is' even though it is grammatically wrong.
: If something is sure-fire, it is certain to succeed. ('Surefire' is also used.)
: A person's swansong is their final achievement or public appearance.
Swear like a sailor
: Someone who is foul-mouthed and uses bad language all the time swears like a sailor.
Swear like a trooper
: Someone who is foul-mouthed and uses bad language all the time swears like a trooper.
: If you sweat blood, you make an extraordinary effort to achieve something.
Sweep off your feet
: If you are swept off your feet, you lose control emotionally when you fall in love or are really impressed.
Sweep things under the carpet
: If people try to ignore unpleasant things and forget about them, they sweep them under the carpet.
Sweet as a gumdrop
: This means that something or someone is very nice or pretty.
: If you have a sweet tooth, you like eating food with sugar in it.
Swim against the tide
: If you swim against the tide, you try to do something that is very difficult because there is a lot of opposition to you. ('Go against the tide' is an alternative form.)
Swim with the fishes
: If someone is swimming with the fishes, they are dead, especially if they have been murdered. 'Sleep with the fishes' is an alternative form.
Swim with the tide
: If you swim with the tide, you do the same as people around you and accept the general consensus. ('Go with the tide' is an alternative form.)
: If things are going swimmingly, they are going very well.
Swing the lead
: If you swing the lead, you pretend to be ill or do not do your share of the work.
Swings and roundabouts
: If something's swings and roundabouts, it has about as many disadvantages as it has advantages.
Idioms and Phrases Index