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55 Most Important Idioms for Competitive Exams

55 Most Important Idioms for Competitive Exams by Ajay Sir
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1. Cry for the moon:

Meaning Ask for the impossible (अप्राप्य की आकांक्षा रखना)

Sentence- Thinking of getting an officer’s job with so ordinary a qualification is to cry for the moon.

2. Cock and bull story:

Meaning- Made up story that one should not believe; a story or explanation which is obviously not true (मनगढंत कहानी)

Sentence- She told me some cock-and-bull story about her car breaking down.

3. Once in a blue moon:

Meaning- Something that happens very rarely (कभी कभार)

Sentence- Once in a blue moon, the blue jay can be seen in these parts of the forest.

4. To bell the cat:

Meaning- To face the risk (कठिन कार्य में अगुआ; बडी आपतियों का सामना करना)

Sentence- Mohit has the courage to bell the cat.

5.  Beating around the bush:

Meaning- Avoiding the main topic (घुमा फिराकर बात करना ;मुख्य विषय से बचना)

Sentence-The President was beating around the bush when the citizens demanded a reason for the forgery of legal documents.

6. Chip on your shoulder:

Meaning-When someone is upset about something that happened a while ago

Sentence-He has a chip on his shoulder for being abandoned by his parents in his childhood.

7Cry over spilt milk:

Meaning-Complaining about a loss or failure from the past

Sentence-He was mad because he couldn’t clear the cut off due to a silly mistake. But, then he realized there was no use crying over spilt milk and decided to become more careful.

8Spill the beans:

Meaning-To disclose a secret

Sentence-The little one spilled the beans about the surprise vacation we had planned.

9Piece of cake:

Meaning-Something that is easy to understand or do

Sentence-I thought that the problem would be tough, but it turned out to be a piece of cake!

10Blessing in disguise:

Meaning-Something good and useful that did not initially seem that way

Sentence-His accident was a blessing in disguise because it gave him a lot of time to think about his life while he was recovering, and as a result, he made some important decisions that improved his life.

11. A close shave:

Meaning- A narrow escape

Sentence- I had a close shave when a tree fell just where I had been standing.

12Taste of your own medicine:

Meaning-When someone receives the same treatment, usually negative, that he/she gives to others

Sentence-She is always taunting others and hurting their sentiments. I just wish someone would give her a taste of her own medicine.

13Golden handshake:

Meaning-A big sum of money given to a person when he/she leaves a company or retires

Sentence-The management of the company wanted to decrease their workforce. They offered a golden handshake to their aged employees.

14Mean business:

Meaning-Being serious/dedicated

Sentence-The border is sealed by troops who mean business.

15Apple of one’s eye:

Meaning-Being cherished more than others are

Sentence-Sam is adored by his teacher for his childlike nature. He is the apple of her eye.

16The best of both worlds:

Meaning-The benefits of widely differing situations enjoyed at the same time.

Sentence-I had the best of both worlds since I worked as an ordinary member of the team but got to learn from the leaders.

17Feeling a bit under the weather:

Meaning-Feeling slightly ill

Sentence-I may not be able to jog today, as I am feeling a bit under the weather.

18Icing on the cake:

Meaning-Something that turns good into great

Sentence-India’s victory over England on India’s Independence Day was like icing on the cake.

19Cost an arm and a leg:

Meaning-Be very expensive

Sentence-His laziness made him miss his flight to Chandigarh. The next ticket cost him an arm and a leg.

 20. Jump the bandwagon:

Meaning-To join a popular activity or trend

Sentence-When he was detected with diabetes, he quickly jumped on the bandwagon and joined the Zumba dance class.

21Ball is in your court:

Meaning-When it is up to you to make the next decision or step.

Sentence-Now the ball is in your court; decide whether you want to reply or not.

22Bite off more than you can chew:

Meaning-To take up a task which you may not be able to accomplish due to lack of ability.

Sentence-I bit off more than I could chew when I decided to take up the 300-page research project.

23Can’t judge a book by its cover:

Meaning-Cannot judge something primarily on appearance.

Sentence-The house looked impressive in the advertisement. Still I made a trip to the house to check everything. It is wise not to judge a book by its cover.

24Hear it on grapevine:

Meaning-To hear rumors about something or someone

Sentence-I heard it on grapevine that he had stiffed an old man asking for his pension.

25Last straw:

Meaning-The final problem in a series of problems

Sentence-My body was already in bad shape. The accident was the last straw. I am now on complete bed rest.

26To be in the doldrums:

Meaning-To be in low spirits

Sentence-Sam was in the doldrums after he was insulted by the boss in front of his colleagues.

27To sit on the fence:

Meaning-To remain neutral

Sentence-Since I wasn’t aware of the details, I decided to sit on the fence during the argument between my cousins.

More notes of English by Ajay Sir

28Break the ice:

Meaning-To initiate a social conversation or interaction

Sentence-At the start of the lecture, the new professor tried to break the ice by telling a joke.

29. A bird’s eye view:

Meaning-A view from a very high place that allows you to see a very large area

Sentence-The Singapore Big Wheel offers a bird’s eye view of the city.

30. A litmus test:

Meaning-A method that helps to know if something is correct

Sentence-Taking up the job served as a litmus test for me to know how good I was at applying my knowledge.

31. At the drop of a hat:

Meaning-Willingness to do something instantly

Sentence-She expects me to make dinner at the drop of a hat even if I am very busy with office work.

32. Afraid of one’s own shadow:

Meaning-To become easily frightened

Sentence-Her creepy encounter with the supernatural had a devastating effect on her. She is now afraid of her own shadow.

33. A house of cards:

Meaning-A poor plan

Sentence-The State’s new scheme was initially welcomed but later turned out to be a house of cards when it was discovered how easy it was to perpetrate a scam.

34. Black and blue:

Meaning-Full of bruises

Sentence-The young lad was all black and blue after a tiff with a raging senior.

35. Be on cloud nine:

Meaning-Be very happy

Sentence-I will be on cloud nine when my first article gets published.

36. Bone of contention:

Meaning-A subject or issue over which there is continuing disagreement

Sentence-The examination system has long been a serious bone of contention in the HRD Ministry.

37. Eat humble pie:

Meaning-To apologize humbly

Sentence-He will have to eat humble pie for the disrespect shown to the Captain.

38. Fool’s paradise:

Meaning-False sense of happiness or success

Sentence-They were living in a fool’s paradise, refusing to accept that they were facing poverty.

39. Give cold shoulder:

Meaning-To ignore

Sentence-I sent her a message to apologize for my misbehavior, but she gave me the cold shoulder.

40. Get a raw deal:

Meaning-To not be treated as well as other people

Sentence-The fact is that students in government schools get a raw deal.

41. Hit the nail on the head:

Meaning-To do the correct thing

Sentence-She hit the nail on the head when she laid out a list of justifiable grievances she had with the company.

42. Hand to mouth:

Meaning-live on only basic necessities

Sentence-The severe drought led the farmers to live hand to mouth.

43. Hit the bull’s eye:

Meaning-To be exactly right about something or achieve the best result possible.

Sentence-The detective hit the bull’s eye when he figured out that nobody but the doctor could have had access to the poison.

44. Let the cat out of the bag:

Meaning-To reveal the secret carelessly or by mistake

Sentence-Now that she had let the cat out of the bag, she had no option but to confess.

45. Make a face:

Meaning-To show dislike or disappointment through facial expressions

Sentence-Little Stella made a face at the sight of bitter gourd in her food.

46. Open Pandora’s Box:

Meaning-To find a source of great troubles and problems

Sentence-Finding the wallet on the road opened up a Pandora’s box. I was arrested for stealing when I went to report it at the police station.

47. It’s Greek to me

Meaning-Something that is not understandable

Sentence-I failed my commerce test; it was all Greek to me!

48. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket:

Meaning-Do not put all your resources in one basket.

Sentence-The boy put all his money into his dream startup that eventually failed. I had told him not to put all his eggs in one basket.

49. To call a spade a spade:

Meaning-To be brutally frank, outspoken, blunt in speech.

Sentence- Let’s call a spade a spade – popular he may be, but that man is a liar.

50. To be a Good Samaritan:

Meaning-To be kind and compassionate to someone in distress

Sentence-I was sure I would be stuck on the highway till the morning, but a Good Samaritan offered me a ride home.

51. To put in a nutshell:

Meaning-To say in a few words or to make something concise

Sentence-The Textbook Development Committee decided to put the 30-page chapter, in a nutshell, to help save time for students during revision.

52. To pour oil on troubled waters:

Meaning-To make peace

Sentence- I am always stuck pouring oil on troubled waters when my mother and wife start their bickering.

53. An apple of discord:

Meaning-A cause of quarrel

Sentence- The right to host the Olympic Games is an apple of discord between the two countries.

54. To move heaven and earth:

Meaning-To exert all efforts

Sentence-He moved heaven and earth to ensure that his family was taken care of in the foreign land in his absence.

55. To build castles in the air:

Meaning- Make imaginary schemes

Sentence- Ramesh always builds castles in the air and does nothing in reality.

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Vocab by Ajay Sir