Idioms

Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.

Idioms

way around

way around

Meaning

  • to find an alternative for something, someone or to perform a task
  • to find a solution
  • another way to do something

Example Sentences

  1. The way around such a problem would mean that we lose another 6 months in the completion of this project.
  2. I don’t see any way around this issue.
  3. The only way around this is that we get married without their blessings. They are our parents and will forgive us one day.
  4. Can you see a way around the muddy garden?
  5. The way around the place took me longer but it was a safer route.
  6. My sister would always find her way around my parents but I could never do it with the same ease.
  7. The chopper helps with all the chopping in the kitchen these days. It is a fabulous way around to using big knives.
  8. Do you know the way around these instructions? I am not sure I can read so many pages.
  9. I have come to accept that there is no way around walking over this swamp.

Origin

The phrase comes from regular parlance and is popular in both, UK as well as US English. The origin of the phrase is believed to be from the UK though.

just in case

just in case

Meaning

  • to do something as a precautionary measure
  • to engage in something that is meant as an alternative in case the original does not work

Example Sentences

  1. The cake was ordered just in case the desert that she made did not turn up well.
  2. He called the doctor just in case he was still in the clinic.
  3. I know that you wanted to know just in case the bike was available but you have to realize that you cannot afford it.
  4. My father came all the way to see me in college just in case I needed something and did not ask it from him.
  5. Mother would always make some extra food everyday just in case a guest was to arrive.
  6. The birds flew away and the deer ran away. Just in case you don’t know, these are the signs that a predator is around somewhere.
  7. Do you know that he arranged for the funds just in case you decided to go ahead with the plan?
  8. My boss hired an extra person in the team just in case the client agrees to give us more work.

Origin

The phrase is believed to have been around since the 17th century.

race against time

race against time

Meaning

  • effort to do something as soon as possible
  • to be in a situation where the time is short and the task pending is not
  • to be running out of time, quickly
  • process of doing something before given time

Example Sentences

  1. The completion of this project was honestly a race against time. The client needed to have filed the documents in the court by today at any cost.
  2. Can you not make this sound like a race against time? Let her take it slowly please?
  3. My mother is racing against time right now. Please be by my side because I will need you around.
  4. Uncle Ben has been racing against time ever since he has found out about the terminal illness.
  5. The exam paper was a race against time and I won!
  6. He was speeding home as if it was a race against time.
  7. You cannot really race against time now, can you?
  8. The man raced against time to get his daughter to the hospital when she had that horrid accident.
  9. Although it was a race against the clock, I am happy to announce that our team has met the target set by the client.

Origin

The phrase is speculated to have originated in the old American English but there is no literary proof to support this claim.

Synonym

baker’s dozen

baker’s dozen

Meaning

  •  not 12 in numbers but 13
  • a group or set of thirteen
  • usually 13 and rarely 14

Example Sentences

  1. The fellow gave me a baker’s dozen of cookies. It made my children very happy.
  2. I always carry a baker’s dozen chocolates in my purse.
  3. I needed only 10 cars and my car dealer friend arrange me baker’s dozen of cars.
  4. I had demanded about 15 numbers of drinking water bottle for that long journey. But shopkeeper had only a dozen and I asked him to arrange baker’s dozen at least.

Origin

The phrase’s literary origin dates back to 1599 when John Cooke used it in his work called “Tu Quoque”. But the actual practice of English baker’s adding an extra loaf of bread when they sold 12 breads dates back to much earlier. In 1154, when Henry II was in power, he had introduced a trade guide within which the statute managing bakers was called “The Worshipful Company of Bakers”. Bakers were to price the bread in line with the price of wheat. The punishment for the weight falling short included fining, pillorying or flogging. The rule was about the weight of the bread and not the number and hence whenever bakers old a dozen they would warily add an identical extra loaf, for good measure. This was done so that the total weight of the purchase would not be short. The additional bread became customary and would be called “vantage loaf” or “in-bread”. The Worshipful Company is in existence to this day and they offer an extra piece of in-bread with every loaf that they sell.

in the pipeline

in the pipeline

Meaning

  • to be underway
  • to be somewhere in process

Example Sentences

  1. The project has been in the pipeline since forever. I am not sure if it will ever get completed.
  2. I am not working right now but have a few offers in the pipeline.
  3. She keeps telling me that her new book is in the pipeline but is she even writing something right now?
  4. My mother’s operation has been scheduled finally, it has been in the pipeline for a very long time.
  5. Can I do something that will expedite the process to the completion of these forms? They have been in the pipeline for a while now, don’t you think?
  6. My boss asked for an update about every project that is in the pipeline right now. Is something going on that I don’t know about?
  7. Can you try to get the approval for these blueprints that are in the pipeline?

Origin

From the plumbing world, something that is in the pipeline is sure to come out from either end. It refers to on-going projects when used in real life situations. Speculated to be American in its origin but there is no literary evidence available to justify this speculation.

make sense

make sense

Meaning

  • to be able to reason something out
  • to make someone understand something through reasoning

Example Sentences

  1. The presentation did not make sense at all. It was way off the topic.
  2. She has started making sense about her career now and I would like to let her try things out.
  3. He does not make sense when he speaks about starting such a kind of venture. He does not have a plan and you better not invest in something so haphazard.
  4. Can you please start making some sense? We are not following what you are trying to say.
  5. Every word she says makes sense to my daughter. I am glad that she has chosen such a good role model.
  6. The story only makes sense when my father narrates it. When I tried it just sounded like some jibber jabber.
  7. You cannot make sense to him right now. Give him some time to come out of the shock of it all at least.
  8. Can you come along to speak to the principal? I am not going to be able to make sense to him after such a disaster.

Origin

The phrase originates from rational thoughts that is considered by reasonable people as valid.

building blocks

building blocks

Meaning

  • something that is a basic element (of the subject)
  • could literally be pointing at blocks that are used to build
  • kid’s toy house bricks

Example Sentences

  1. The building blocks of success, in my view, come from perseverance and hard work.
  2. I have seen him smoke and bully people right from the time he was in high school. With such building blocks, what else were you expecting of his future?
  3. The building blocks for my children’s future will be hope and faith.
  4. I have used the building blocks to construct a new bathroom for the school.
  5. The building blocks for this hospital will be the talent and ability of the doctors here.
  6. The building blocks for my cousin’s life have been carefully carved by my uncle and aunt.
  7. When the building blocks are weak then you cannot expect amazing results.

Origin

The origin obvious refers to blocks that are used for building buildings. The blocks are placed as the foundation stones which have to be sturdy in order to be able to carry the weight of an entire building. The foundation, as a simile has been used in the phrase as the foundation of a person’s life.

brought forward

brought forward

Meaning

  • to bring forth
  • to carry forward
  • to bring something in front (could be facts or figures too)

Example Sentences

  1. The meeting has been brought forward by the board and we have to start preparing for it right away.
  2. I have brought forward a proposal for you to consider. I’ve emailed the details to you and would appreciate a prompt response.
  3. She brings forward these crazy ideas which actually see to work in the advertising world.
  4. My bother has brought forward the truth about that guy’s character. I never want to meet him again.
  5. I cannot bring forward what has happened that day, it is all too embarrassing.
  6. The teacher brought forward a perfect example of how the homework was to be done.
  7. Can you bring forward the poster which you spoke about? It is supposed to be an evidence in the case, isn’t it?

Origin

The phrase comes from the legal world where evidence is “brought forward” in order to come to a better understanding of the case and eventually come to a conclusion. It is used in parlance in all parts of the world and is in fact sometimes not seen as a phrase but just as a way of speaking.

kill time

kill time

Meaning

  • to wait for something by doing something or nothing
  • to use time
  • pass the time

Example Sentences

  1. The team was killing time at the stadium before it was their turn to play.
  2. She intends to kill as much time as possible before her parents get serious and start finding a groom for her.
  3. I am not going to kill time while he is out there getting all the real contracts and work assignments.
  4. He loves to kill time in the afternoon while his parents are at work. He completes all the homework only when they are back.
  5. You cannot just kill time here in the office.
  6. How am I to kill time in this awfully boring place?
  7. The kids are killing time in order to earn the prize of a chocolate.
  8. Can I kill time at your place while my wife is away?
  9. The boys meet over the weekend to kill time.

Origin

The origin comes from the history of America where people who were suffering through time, women were getting burnt because they were termed as witches, children had to obey their parents to no end, and black people were slaves and treated less than dirt. The salvation to achieve God’s light was through killing time.

There is a biblical history of time having a form of its own and being friends with God, the almighty. God built the Garden of Eden to get away from spending time with Time. But time snuck in and made friends with the humans. When God found out he put the humans with Time where they age and kill time until their deaths.

surgical strike

surgical strike

Meaning

  • to cause injury or damage to the intended targets
  • it is a military attack that takes place with surgical precision and is extremely target oriented to cause harm to the enemy line
  • to hurt the enemy in such a way that there is no collateral damage but the target is achieved

Example Sentences

  1. The surgical strikes that the Indian army carried out in the year 2016 were an example of the strength that they hold. The enemy better not mess around here.
  2. I am starting a surgical strike against my socks and vow to find the pair for each one of them in this messy drawer.

Origin

The origin comes from the military but because of the words it is focussed on the operations that are performed in hospitals. The strikes are surgically precise which just hurt the intended enemy and all organs around it are safe and secure. Often carried out covertly the military operations started using surgical precision after targeting the enemy camp in such a way that there would be no damage to anyone or anything else in the fight. The enemy is unprepared and hence the strikes are quick to destroy what is intended.

If not used in the military sense, this phrase can be used sarcastically to cause humour.

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