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Learn Some American Idioms

Dance to another tune
: change to a different attitude or behavior
e.g. If your parents were here, you would dance to another tune.

Make a stab at
: try to do something
e.g. I knew you would make a stab at finishing the project.

Go ballistic
: fly into a rage; be over enthusiastic
e.g. After she heard the bad news, she went ballistic and was uncontrollable.

Stick oneís neck out
: take a risk
e.g. If I were you, I wouldnít stick my neck out for that ungrateful friend of yours

All systems are go
: everything is good and ready as planned
e.g. Everything is in order, and all systems are go. We can now launch the rocket.

Sleep on something
: think seriously
e.g. Iíll sleep on what you just told me. Iíll give you an answer tomorrow.

Go through the roof
: very angry
e.g. When he found out that you took his money, he went through the roof.

Thatís the ticket
: what is needed
e.g. Thatís the ticket! If you do as I tell you, you will succeed.

Call it a day
: quit work and go home
e.g. Iím tired; letís call it a day.

Talk through the hat
: talk nonsense
e.g. During the whole evening, your friend had been talking through his hat.

Talk until one is blue in the face
: talk a great deal
e.g. I talked until I was blue in the face, but she would not change her mind.

After all: in spite of everything
e.g. She didnít get a good score; after all, it was her first attempt

Late in life: in old age
e.g. It was only late in life that he became a famous writer.

You bet: yes, of course
e.g. ďAre you hungry?Ē ďYou bet

Act oneís age
: behave maturely
e.g. Stop behaving like a teenager! Act your age.

All of it
: the best
e.g. From the way he presented him at the debate, he was all of it.

Vicious circle
: a series of events that create more problems
e.g. You take drugs to remove the symptoms, but the drugs also cause symptoms that require more drugs; you are ony creating a vicious circle.

Lead someone astray
: cause someone to do something wrong or illegal
e.g. If you are always in the company of lawbreakers, you  may be easily be led astray.

Abide by: accept and follow
e.g. If you wish to become a citizen of the United States, you must abide by U.S. immigration laws.

Pass the hat
: collect money for
e.g. He is always passing the hat for something.

Actions speak louder than words: do something about it, not just talking about it
e.g. Show me what you have done! Actions speak louder than words.

Bag your face: shut up!
e.g. You and your loud mouth! Go and bag your face!

Live beyond oneís means: spend more than one can earn
e.g. You are in debt because you are living beyond your means.

Down and out: very poor
e.g. He is down and out without a job and a roof over his head.

Tail end: the last part
e.g. His speech was long, and only the tail end was interesting.

Ball of fire: an energetic and enthusiastic person
e.g. We all want his presence; he is a ball of fire.

No flies on
: very alert, smart
e.g. You cannot trick her; there are no flies on her.

Add insult to injury: make things worse
e.g. Enough is enough! Donít add insult to injury.

Ball of fire: an energetic and enthusiastic person
e.g. We all want his presence; he is a ball of fire.

Take someone for granted: do not take someone seriously
e.g. His wife complained that he always takes her for granted.

More than meets the eye
: there is a hidden meaning
e.g. What the Mayor mentioned in the speech implied more than meets the eye.

In fine feather: in good condition; in good health
e.g. With a good night sleep, I am in fine feather today.

Name of the game: the main goal
e.g. The name of the game is winning; we must win this election no matter what.

Face the music: confront danger; accept a bad situation
e.g. There are many circumstances in life in which you have to face the music.

Bad sort
: an unpleasant person
e.g. He is a bad sort; nobody likes him.

Bag your face
: shut up!
e.g. You and your loud mouth! Go and bag your face!

Feel like
: have a desire for something
e.g. I feel like eating a hamburger.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

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