Break the ice
Our Eskimo in the illustration doesn't seem to understand that to break the ice doesn't mean to knock someone's house down. It means to do something friendly in order to overcome shyness or to ease tension in a social situation. "To break the ice, let's invite our new neighbors to lunch."
Call it a day
"Let's call it a day and go home," Teddy said. Because the person he's addressing doesn't understand the expression, it's up to me to explain that when we call it a day, we stop whatever we are doing, regardless of the time. "After twenty years as a postman, Mr Burr called it a day and retired."
Do things by halves
I don't know what's wrong with Mr. Long. He's either lazy or disorganized for he always does things by halves. That is, he does things in a careless and incomplete way. "When I read a book, I do it by halves. I never finish it." Mr. Long said. " I guess I've decorated my house by halves too."
Put someone in their place
George made the mistake of criticizing his boss. His boss responded by putting him in his place. When we put someone in their place we punish them, often by telling them in an angry way that their thoughts or opinions are of little importance. "Having been put in his place, I doubt that George will ever criticize the boss again."
On the cheap
Things that are cheap are inexpensive. To do something on the cheap is to do it without spending much money. Last summer, for instance, Felix joined a tour to Europe and that it discovered was done on the cheap as the hotels were inexpensive and lunches were from hot dog stands.
Make a splash
For several years Gilbert has been studying acting. At last he's ready to appear in a play and make a splash as an actor. When we make a splash, we do something that attracts attention. "Did you see Gilbert in the play last night? He made quite a splash playing Macbeth."
Hands are tied
Angela and Bruce would like to be free to do as they wish. Unfortunately they can't for their hands are tied ! When people's hands are tied they are unable to do as they would like. "I'd like to go shopping with you but my hands are tied for I have to stay at the office today," father said.
It takes at least two people to go Dutch for the simple reason that when we go Dutch we share the cost of something, each person paying his or her own expenses. "Hans invited Gretchen to join him for lunch. Knowing he hasn't much money, Gretchen has insisted that they go Dutch."
Cost an arm and a leg
Whatever is said to cost an arm and a leg is very expensive. "It cost me an arm and a leg to get my car repaired." "George flew to Austria to go skiing. He said that the trip cost him an arm and a leg."
This expression comes from the title of a book. Situations referred to as catch-22 are unreasonable and unfair in which a person has no chance of winning or succeeding. "If I study medicine, I'll be unhappy. If I study art, my parents will be unhappy. I'm in a catch-22 situation."
Burn the midnight oil
Mr. Wilcox works all day and attends school at night. When he goes home he burns the midnight oil by studying until dawn. If you are like Mr. Wilcox and work or study long hours at night, you too can say that you burn the midnight oil.
A big hand
Last night, Fiona was given a big hand at the end of her wonderful performance. Fiona was overjoyed, of course, for a big hand refers to loud and enthusiastic applause. The newspapers say that Fiona performed very well and received a big hand for her role in the play.
Chew the fat
After a hard day, Nanook and his friend like nothing better than to sit around a nice warm fire chewing the fat. "Normally we are so busyhunting and fishing that we don't have much time to get together to chew the fat, " Nanook noted. To chew the fat is to have a casual chat or a nice little talk. "Our wives have just gone to one of their friend's igloo to chew the fat", Nanook smiled.
At each other's throats
Ian and Alfonso have never gotten along together. As Long as I can remember they've been at each other's throats. That is to say they have always been quarrelling, arguing and - on occasion - fighting. ''We've been at each other's throats so long we've forgotten why we're mad at each other,'' Alfonso said.
Jaime truly enjoys his new job. It's so easy that he has been able to make child's play of it. Any job or task can be called child's play if the person doing it finds it almost too easy to do or to perform. "Jaime's new job seems like child's play." Helen smiled. "He makes it look so easy."
All keyed up
Teddy has had a terrible day. It began when he overslept and was late getting to school. Then it rained and he got all wet coming home from school. Not only that he forgot to study for a history quiz! "Now you know why I returned home all keyed up," he explained. To be (all) keyed up is to be nervous, tense or excited. "That's exactly how I feel," he nodded.
"We have ways to make you talk," Officer Mutt grinned. "If you don't tell us the truth, I will find a way to make you come clean." Officer Mutt's dog ground his teeth together and agreed. To come clean is to confess or reveal all the facts about something - expecially after telling lies or hiding the truth. "I'll come clean if you keep your dog away from me," the criminal cried out.
Give someone the cold shoulder
The snowman in this illustration is happy to allow a bird to rest on its cold shoulder ... but that's not what this idiom means. To give someone the cold shoulder is to be unfriendly, usually by ignoring them. "I'm going to give donald the cold shoulder for not inviting me to his party."
Until recently it was considered somewhat vulgar to use the word "gut" when referring to the human abdomen. Gut feeling isn't vulgar, though. It refers to a feeling or an impression that comes from one's innermost self. "I have a gut feeling I shouldn't be here." Wilbur said to himself.
Get to grips with
Kenneth had difficulty adjusting to his new job but he soon got to grips with it. He was uncomfortable living in a strange city but he came to grips with that too. To get/come to grips with ( something ) is to deal satisfactorily with a problem or a situation that initailly proved difficult or confusing.
Tie the knot
Colloquially, when two people get married they tie the ( marriage ) knot. "Peter and Elizabeth have decided to tie the knot. They make a lovely couple, don't they ?" Also, the person performing the wedding ceremony ties the ( marriage ) knot. The priest at St Teresa's tied the marriage knot for Peter and Elizabeth.
Trevor and Janet have known each other since they were children. "You love me and I love you." Janet said one day. "Isn't it time we got hitched ?" Trevor resisted a little, but in the end he and Janet did gt hitched. When people get hitched, they get married.
Drink like a fish
I don't know if people are aware of it but Tim drinks like a fish. When a person is described as drinking like a fish, he drinks great quantitles of alcoholic beverages. Not water or cola or lemonade, mind you, but beer, whiskey, wine and other alcoholic drinks ... such as Tim is doing now?
Top off / up
Bob and Tim are celebrating. With a bottle in one hand, Tim asks: "May I top your glass up!".
"Certainly, old pal, top it off," Bob said. Glug, glug, glug went the bottle as his glass was topped up, for this expression means to fill a partly full container - a glass, a tank, etc. - to the very top with liquid.
"Thanks," Bob smiled. "My pleasure," Tim replied.
A lame duck
A person described as being a lame duck is helpless. If he is in a position of authority, he lacks power. " Shirley is such a lame duck. She can't do anything without ebing supervised. " ( Helpless ). "Harry's term of office ends next year. meanwhile, he's a lame duck president and none of his plans stands a chance of ebing acted up. " ( Powerless )