Top 20 Idioms I have Recently Come Across

Whenever I read something in English, be it a novel or a blog post, I feel like a gold digger. And it’s not because of the content or message of what I read, though they may be precious in their turn, but because of the words. Words are gems. They have a power to make your speech stirring and make you shine. I’d really like my students and readers to have a way with words, and that’s why I’m going to share some words and idioms I have recently come across. Note that most of them are going to be informal. So, here is my treasure chest for today…

  1. Linchpin /ˈlɪntʃpɪn– a person or thing that is essential to a group, organization, system, or plan: I’d like to express my gratitude to my inner circle of educational linchpins. Nurses are the linchpin of the healthcare system. You can’t call the guy a linchpin on the basis of one photograph. Reduced spending is the linchpin of their economic program.
  2. Rucks – ordinary people or situations (that you consider boring): Thanks for dealing with the rucks. The author’s second novel lifted him out of the ruck (of average writers).
  3. ... and counting – used for saying that a number is continuing to increase as time passes: They have over 10,000 supporters and counting. He’s been my officemate for 5 years and counting. So far we’ve had over 1,000 calls and counting.
  4. To bring something to fruition /fruːˈɪʃ(ə)n– to complete or do something successfully: We built a publishing “dream team” to bring the book to fruition. Although we initially struggled to get funding for our project, we were able to bring it to fruition (so, we are happy the project ultimately came to fruition). 
  5. I’ll put it on your tab: (a tab is a bill for the cost of a meal or for drinks that you have bought (chiefly North American, informal)) you’ll pay the whole amount later: Can you put this beer on my tab? Should I put that on your tab
  6. Snag – a problem or disadvantage that you have not planned for: There is a snag – I forgot to pay the bill. There is a snag in the plan.
  7. I’ll take it from here/there – I’ll continue doing what someone else has started: Can you show me how to start the machine? OK, OK, I’ll take it from here, thanks. You work out who you want in your team and I’ll take it from there.
  8. I’m too sharp to be taken of this kind of ride – I’m too smart to be fooled like this: Will you tell me another story? – Oh, no, I’m too sharp to be taken on this kind of ride. You need to sleep now. (in this context “sharp” means smart, quick to notice something)
  9. Pep – liveliness and energy: It gives me a lot of pep. I give myself a pep talk in the mirror. Can you give me one of your pep talks
  10. To put something (to someone) – to explain: If you put it that way, it sounds OK. Let me put it to you this way – you’ll fail the test if you don’t study.
  11. I can’t force it down my throat – used for saying that something tastes so bad it’s hard to swallow: It’s disgusting! I can’t force it down my throat!
  12. To know better (than to do something) – to be wise enough to behave in a more responsible or acceptable way: You know better than that, don’t you? You know better than to interrupt when someone else is talking. You know better than to pick a fight with a team member at this point.
  13. That does it! – used to indicate that one will not tolerate a particular thing any longer: That does it! I’m out of here / I quit / I’m leaving right now!
  14. To grow on somebody – if someone or something grows on you, you like him, her, or it more and more than you did at first: This wallpaper is starting to grow on me. I wasn’t sure about this album when I bought it, but it’s really grown on me. The truth is, he’s growing on me
  15. To pull something on someone – to play a trick, deceive someone: Next time you pull this stuff on me, you’ll be in trouble. I knew he was pulling something on me when he told me the wrong date.
  16. To take the rap for somebody – to be blamed or punished, especially for something that you did not do: Don’t take the rap for me, it’s not your fault! There’s no way I’m taking the rap for his mistakes. I won’t be taking the rap for you, I’ll tell them the truth!
  17. Tingly /ˈtɪŋɡli/ – if something pleasant or exciting makes you feel tingly, it gives you a pleasant warm feeling: I go all tingly when I think of what might happen. I feel so warm and tingly. I love this tingly sense of excitement. 
  18. A joke at my expense – if someone has a joke or enjoys themselves at your expense, they enjoy laughing at you: I hate these jokes at my expense! My family and friends all had a good laugh at my expense.
  19. To hang (hung; hung) out to dry – to desert one in a troubling situation: I was hung out to dry. She totally hung me out to dry in that meeting!
  20. To pump somebody for something – to keep asking someone for information, especially in a way that is not direct: She was pumping me for details of the new project. I tried to pump him for information about their other contacts.