apple of her/his eye
MEANING: someone or something that one likes a lot
The little girl is the apple of her grandfather’s eye.
MEANING: a bad person, bum
That man is a bad egg so you should try and avoid him if you can.
MEANING: an important person, a leader
He is a big cheese in his company so you should be very nice to him.
bread and butter
MEANING: basic needs of life (food,shelter,clothing)
The voters are worried about bread and butter issues like jobs and taxes.
bring home the bacon
MEANING: earn your family’s living
Recently he has been working very hard trying to bring home the bacon. He has no time to do anything else.
MEANING: flatter someone to try to get their favor or friendship
He spends most of his free time trying to butter up his boss so that he won’t have to work so hard.
carrot and stick
MEANING: promising to reward or punish someone at the same time
The government took a carrot and stick approach to the people who were illegally protesting against the construction of the dam.
cool as a cucumber
MEANING: calm, not nervous or anxious
He is always as cool as a cucumber and never worries about anything.
MEANING: a very lazy person
He is a real couch potato and just sits around watching TV and staying indoors all day.
cream of the crop
MEANING: best of a group, the top choice
The company is well-known as a good place to work and is always able to hire the cream of the crop of university graduates.
cry over spilt milk
MEANING: cry or complain about something that has already happened
Don’t cry over spilt milk. The past is past and you can’t do anything to change it.
cup of tea
MEANING: something one enjoys or does well
Going to art galleries is not my cup of tea so I think that I will stay home this evening and not go with you.
MEANING: admit one is mistaken or defeated, take back a mistaken statement
I was forced to eat crow and had to apologize for the mistake that I made about the restructuring of our company.
MEANING: act humble, accept another’s insult or bad treatment
We made him eat dirt after he accused us of lying about the salary cut.
eat humble pie
MEANING: be humbled, admit one’s error and apologize
Our boss was forced to eat humble pie after everyone realized that he had made the wrong budget estimate for next year.
eat one’s cake and have it too
MEANING: use or spend something and still keep it
He refuses to give up anything and always wants to eat his cake and have it too.
eat one’s words
MEANING: take back something one has said, admit something is not true
I told my boss that I would be leaving but later I had to eat my words and tell him that I wanted to stay.
MEANING: urge someone on
Many people at the soccer game were egged on by the drunken fans.
finger in the pie
MEANING: participate in something that is happening
He always tries to keep his finger in the pie so that he can control everything.
full of beans
MEANING: feel energetic, in high spirits
She is full of beans tonight and doesn’t want to stop talking.
MEANING: a job or work that pays more than it is worth
For many years his job was a real gravy train but now the company has become very strict and will not pay overtime.
MEANING: not thought out or studied carefully
He has a half-baked idea about starting a new business but most of us think that it will fail.
hand to someone on a silver platter
MEANING: give a person something that has not been earned
His education was handed to him on a silver platter and now he is very spoiled and selfish.
hard nut to crack
MEANING: something or someone difficult to understand or do
He is a very serious person and is a very hard nut to crack.
(get or) have egg on one’s face
MEANING: be embarrassed
He has egg on his face because everyone knows that he was sick at the party.
hit the sauce
MEANING: drink alcohol - usually regularly
I think that she has begun to hit the sauce since her husband lost his job.
MEANING: a question or argument that is controversial and difficult to settle
The issue of building the nuclear power plant is a real hot potato for the local town council.
in a nutshell
MEANING: briefly, in a few words
We went to the meeting and they told us in a nutshell what would be happening to everyone next year.
in the soup
MEANING: in serious trouble, in disorder
She is really in the soup now. She told her boss that she was sick but he saw her downtown shopping.
make one’s mouth water
MEANING: look or smell very good, want to eat or drink very much
The restaurant is supposed to be wonderful and every time that I see the menu it makes my mouth water.
nutty as a fruitcake
He is a very nice man but he acts strange sometimes and I often think that he is as nutty as a fruitcake.
out of the frying pan and into the fire
MEANING: go from something bad to something worse
She quit the job because of some small problems but she has jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire because now her problems are much worse.
out to lunch
MEANING: crazy, mad
She is totally out to lunch and you should never believe what she tells you.
piece of cake
MEANING: a task that is easily accomplished
It was a piece of cake. I had everything done before lunch this morning.
polish the apple
MEANING: flatter someone
Nobody likes her because she is always trying to polish the apple with her teacher.
MEANING: change something to make it faster or more powerful by changing or adding something
The new car that his neighbor bought is a souped up model of the one that he had last year.
MEANING: save money
He has been working there for seven years and has been able to salt away quite a lot of money.
sell like hotcakes
MEANING: sell quickly or rapidly
The new CD has only been released for about a week but already it is selling like hotcakes.
spill the beans
MEANING: tell a secret to someone who is not supposed to know about it
Please don’t spill the beans about my plans to quit working and go back to school next year.
stew in one’s own juice
MEANING: suffer from something that one has caused to happen
He is the one who caused the problem for himself and is now being forced to stew in his own juice.
take with a grain of salt
MEANING: accept or believe only part of something
You should take everything that he says with a grain of salt as everyone knows that he likes to exaggerate things when he is speaking.
upset the applecart
MEANING: ruin a plan or event by surprise or accident
Everything was going well at the company until he came along and upset the apple cart.
worth one’s salt
MEANING: being a good worker, worth what one is paid
He has only been working here for a month but over and over he has proved that he is worth his salt.