Art, Architecture, Design & Travel


Important Idioms For Competitive Exams

1. A hot potato

Meaning: Something that is difficult or dangerous to deal with.

Example: Terrorism is a political hot potato in Afghanistan.

2. A penny for your thoughts

Meaning: Way of asking what someone is thinking.

Example: After several minutes of silence he finally looked at her and said, “A penny

for your thoughts, Lily.”

3. Actions speak louder than words

Meaning: What you do is more significant than what you say.

Example: He: I am sorry. I’ll try to be a better person henceforth.

She: Actions speak louder than words.

4. Add insult to injury

Meaning: To make a bad situation worse.

Example: Their basement was flooded, and then, to add insult to injury, a pipe burst in the kitchen.

5. An arm and a leg

Meaning: A lot of money.

Example: It’s the best cruise in the world, but it will cost you an arm and a leg.

6. At the drop of a hat

Meaning: Immediately; without any hesitation

Example: Ellie was always ready to go shopping at the drop of a hat.

7. Back to the drawing board

Meaning: Start something all over again.

Example: I failed this semester, but now I am back to the drawing board.

8. Ball is in your court.

Meaning: It is up to you to take the next step

Example: I’ve made my decision, now the ball is in your court.

9. Barking up the wrong tree

Meaning: Looking in the wrong place; accusing the wrong person.

Example: He did not commit the crime, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

10. Be glad to see the back of

Meaning: Be glad to see someone leave.

Example: I never liked her. I’ll be glad to see the back of her.

11. Beat around the bush

Meaning: Avoid answering a question; not speaking directly about the issue.

Example: Tell me what the problem is, stop beating around the bush.

12. Best of both the worlds

Meaning: Situation wherein one can enjoy two different opportunities.

Example: She had the privilege of a professor and freedom of a student. She had the

best of both worlds.

13. Best thing since sliced bread

Meaning: A good idea or plan; an excellent new invention.

Example: I love your idea. It’s the best thing since sliced bread.

14. Bite off more than you can chew

Meaning: To take on a task that is way too big.

Example: Our boss bit off more than she could chew when she promised the client

we’d have the project ready by next week.

15. Blessing in disguise

Meaning: Something good that isn’t recognized at first.

Example: Ashok’s losing his job was a blessing in disguise; it gave him an opportunity to pursue higher studies.

16. Burn the midnight oil

Meaning: To stay up working, especially studying, late at night.

Example: She’s been burning the midnight oil for the last few months; her hard work

will definitely pay off in the coming exams.

17. Don’t judge a book by its cover

Meaning: Don’t judge something primarily by its appearance.

Example: She: He doesn’t look intelligent.

He: You can’t judge a book by its cover.

18. Caught between two stools.

Meaning: When someone finds it difficult to choose between two alternatives.

Example: He had committed to both and now he’s caught between two stools.

19. Cross that bridge when you come to it.

Meaning: Deal with a problem if and when it becomes necessary.

Example: He: I think I need to hire a lawyer.

 She: Cross that bridge when you come to it.

20. Cry over spilled milk

Meaning: To be unhappy about something that cannot be undone.

Example: It can’t he helped, don’t cry over spilled milk.

21. Curiosity killed the cat

Meaning: Being too curious can get you into trouble.

Example: Don’t ask about his divorce-curiosity killed the cat!

22. Cut corners

Meaning: To take shortcuts; when something is done badly to save money.

Example: They always put quality first; they won’t cut corners just to save money.

23. Cut the mustard

Meaning: Perform satisfactorily; to succeed.

Example: We need a better catcher; this one just doesn’t cut the mustard.

24. Devil’s advocate

Meaning: To present a counter argument

Example: The teacher always played devil’s advocate to provoke discussion in the


25. Don’t count your chickens before the eggs have hatched.

Meaning: Don’t make plans for something that might not happen.

Example: You might not win the prize and you’ve already spent the money? Don’t

count your chickens before the eggs have hatched.

26. Don’t give up the day job

Meaning: You’re not very good at something. You could definitely not do it


Example: Why did you invest in business even after failing in it in the past? Don’t give up the day job!

27. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Meaning: Don’t focus all of your attention on one thing or one area.

Example: I know you love Harvard, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Apply to other colleges too.

28. Drastic times call for drastic measures

Meaning: When you’re extremely desperate you need to take drastic actions.

Example: Yes we had to let go of five of our workers! Drastic times call for drastic


29. Elvis has left the building

Meaning: The show has come to an end. It’s all over.

Example: We waited for another performance by the band but it looked like Elvis had left the building.

30. Every cloud has a silver lining

Meaning: Be optimistic, even difficult times will lead to better days.

Example: I’m sorry your business is going badly, but remember every cloud has a silver lining.

Check out our other articles and pages

Registration Form For Online Art, Design & English Workshops for Competitive exams


Related Posts