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Idioms starting with letter D

What are idioms?

Idioms are phrases or expressions which are commonly used in everyday conversation, mostly by native speakers of English. The meaning of the idioms might not be that straight forward for new English speaker, however having good command of it will certainly helps to make your English sound more fluent.

The metaphorical nature of idioms makes conversation more interesting and flows in certain situation. You've probably heard some of them even though you don't fully understand the words. Let us help you increase your idioms knowledge by browsing through our extensive collection of idioms alphabetically.

  • daily dozen
    physical exercises done every day. (Informal.)
    My brother always feels better after his daily dozen.
    She would rather do a daily dozen than go on a diet.
  • daily grind
    the everyday work routine. (Informal.)
    I’m getting very tired of the daily grind.
    When my holiday was over, I had to go back to the daily grind.
  • damn someone or something with faint praise
    to criticize someone or something indirectly by not praising enthusiastically.
    The critic did not say that he disliked the play, but he damned it with faint praise.
    Mrs. Brown is very proud of her son’s achievements, but damns her daughter’s with faint praise.
  • damp squib
    something which fails to be as successful or exciting as it promised to be. (Informal.)
    The charity ball was a bit of a damp squib.
    The much-publicized protest turned out to be a damp squib.
  • dance attendance on someone
    to be always ready to tend to someone’s wishes or needs.
    That young woman has three men dancing attendance on her.
    Her father expects her to dance attendance on him day and night.
  • Darby and Joan
    an old married couple living happily together. (From a couple so-called in eighteenth-century ballads.)
    Her parents are divorced, but her grandparents are like Darby and Joan.
    It’s good to see so many Darby and Joans at the party, but it needs some young couples to liven it up.
  • dark horse
    someone whose abilities, plans, or feelings are little known to others. (From horse-racing.)
    It’s difficult to predict who will win the prize—there are two or three dark horses in the tournament.
    You’re a dark horse! We didn’t know you ran marathons!
  • Davy Jones’s locker
    the bottom of the sea, especially when it is the final resting place for someone or something. (From seamen’s name for the evil spirit of the sea.)
    They were going to sail around the world, but ended up in Davy Jones’s locker.
    Most of the gold from that trading ship is in Davy Jones’s locker.
  • daylight robbery
    [an instance of] the practice of blatantly or grossly overcharging. (Informal.)
    It’s daylight robbery to charge that amount of money for a hotel room!
    The cost of renting a car at that place is daylight robbery.
  • dead and buried
    gone forever. (Refers literally to persons and figuratively to ideas and other things.)
    Now that Uncle Bill is dead and buried, we can read his will.
    That way of thinking is dead and buried.
  • dead centre
    at the exact centre of something.
    The arrow hit the target dead centre.
    When you put the flowers on the table, put them dead centre.
  • dead on one’s or its feet
    exhausted; worn out; no longer effective or successful. (Informal.)
    Ann is so tired. She’s really dead on her feet.
    He can’t teach well any more. He’s dead on his feet.
    This inefficient company is dead on its feet.
  • dead set against someone or something
    totally opposed to someone or something.
    I’m dead set against the new rates proposal.
    Everyone is dead set against the MP.
  • dead to the world
    sleeping very soundly. (Informal.)
    He spent the whole plane journey dead to the world.
    Look at her sleeping. She’s dead to the world.
  • death to something
    having a harmful effect on something; liable to ruin something.
    This road is terribly bumpy. It’s death to tyres.
    Stiletto heels are death to those tiles.
  • die a natural death
    [for something] to fade away or die down.
    I expect that all this excitement about computers will die a natural death.
    Most fads die a natural death.
  • die laughing
    to laugh very long and hard. (Informal.)
    The joke was so funny that I almost died laughing.
    The play was meant to be funny, but the audience didn’t exactly die laughing.
  • die of a broken heart
    to die of emotional distress, especially grief over a lost love.
    I was not surprised to hear of her death. They say she died of a broken heart.
    In the film, the heroine appeared to die of a broken heart, but the audience knew she was poisoned.
  • die of boredom
    to suffer from boredom; to be very bored.
    I shall die of boredom if I stay here alone all day.
    We sat there and listened politely, even though we were dying of boredom.
  • dig one’s own grave
    to be responsible for one’s own downfall or ruin.
    The manager tried to get rid of his assistant, but he dug his own grave. He got the sack himself.
    The government has dug its own grave with the new taxation bill. It won’t be re-elected.
  • dine out on something
    to be asked to social gatherings because of the information one has.
    She’s been dining out on the story of her promotion for months.
    The journalist dines out on all the gossip he acquires.
  • dirt cheap
    extremely cheap. (Informal.)
    Buy some more of those plums. They’re dirt cheap.
    In Italy, the peaches are dirt cheap.
  • dirty look
    a look or glance expressing disapproval or dislike. (Especially with get, give, receive.)
    I stopped whistling when I saw the dirty look on her face.
    The child who sneaked received dirty looks from the other children.
    Ann gave me a dirty look.
    I gave her a dirty look back.
  • do a double take
    to react with surprise; to have to look twice to make sure that one really saw correctly. (Informal.)
    When the boy led a goat into the park, everyone did a double take.
    When the doctor saw that the man had six toes, she did a double take.
  • do an about-face
    to make a total reversal of opinion or action.
    Without warning, the government did an about-face on taxation.
    It had done an about-face on the question of rates last year.
  • dog in the manger
    one who prevents others from enjoying a privilege that one does not make use of or enjoy oneself. (From one of Aesop’s fables in which a dog—which cannot eat hay—lay in the hay-rack [manger] and prevented the other animals from eating the hay.)
    Jane is a real dog in the manger. She cannot drive, but she will not lend anyone her car.
    If Martin were not such a dog in the manger, he would let his brother have that evening suit he never wears.
  • do justice to something 1.
    to do something well; to represent or portray something accurately.
    Sally really did justice to the contract negotiations.
    This photograph doesn’t do justice to the beauty of the mountains. 2. to eat or drink a great deal. (Informal.)
    Bill always does justice to the evening meal.
    The guests didn’t do justice to the roast pig. There were nearly ten pounds of it left over.
  • done to a turn
    cooked just right.
    Yummy! This meat is done to a turn.
    I like it done to a turn, not too well done and not too raw.
  • donkey’s ages and donkey’s years
    a very long time. (Informal.)
    The woman hasn’t been seen for donkey’s ages.
    We haven’t had a holiday in donkey’s years.
  • donkey-work
    hard or boring work. (Informal.)
    His wife picks flowers, but he does all the donkey-work in the garden.
    I don’t only baby-sit. I do all the donkey-work around the house.
  • do one’s bit
    to do one’s share of the work; to do whatever one can do to help.
    Everybody must do their bit to help get things under control.
    I always try to do my bit. How can I help this time?
  • dose of one’s own medicine
    the same kind of, usually bad, treatment which one gives to other people. (Often with get or have.)
    Sally is never very friendly. Someone is going to give her a dose of her own medicine someday and ignore her.
    The thief didn’t like getting a dose of his own medicine when his car was stolen.
  • do someone down
    to do something to someone’s disadvantage.
    He really did me down when he applied for the same job.
    Don’t expect Mr. Black to help you. He enjoys doing people down.
  • do someone good
    to benefit someone.
    A nice hot bath really does me good.
    It would do you good to lose some weight.
  • do someone proud
    to treat someone generously. (Informal.)
    What a good hotel. The conference has done us proud.
    He certainly did his daughter proud. The wedding reception cost a fortune.
  • do someone’s heart good
    to make someone feel good emotionally. (Informal.)
    It does my heart good to hear you talk that way.
    When she sent me a get-well card, it really did my heart good.
  • do the trick
    to do exactly what needs to be done; to be satisfactory for a purpose. (Informal.)
    Push the car just a little more to the left. There, that does the trick.
    If you give me two pounds, I’ll have enough to do the trick.
  • double Dutch
    language or speech that is difficult or impossible to understand.
    This book on English grammar is written in double Dutch. I can’t understand a word.
    Try to find a lecturer who speaks slowly, not one who speaks double Dutch.
  • doubting Thomas
    someone who will not easily believe something without strong proof or evidence. (From the biblical account of the apostle Thomas, who would not believe that Christ had risen from the grave until he had touched Him.)
    Mary won’t believe that I have a dog until she sees him. She’s such a doubting Thomas.
    This school is full of doubting Thomases. They want to see his new bike with their own eyes.
  • down at heel
    shabby; run-down; [of a person] poorly dressed.
    The tramp was really down at heel.
    Tom’s house needs paint. It looks down at heel. also: down-at-heel
    Look at that down-at-heel tramp.
  • down in the mouth
    sad-faced; depressed and unsmiling.
    Ever since the party was cancelled, Barbara has been looking down in the mouth.
    Bob has been down in the mouth since his girlfriend left.
  • down on one’s luck
    without any money; unlucky. (Euphemistic for poor or penniless.)
    Can you lend me twenty pounds? I’ve been down on my luck lately.
    The gambler had to get a job because he had been down on his luck and didn’t earn enough money to live on.
  • down to earth
    practical; realistic; not theoretical; not fanciful.
    Her ideas for the boutique are always very down to earth.
    Those philosophers are anything but down to earth. also: down-to-earth
    She’s far too dreamy. We want a more down-to-earth person.
  • drag one’s feet
    to act very slowly, often deliberately.
    The government are dragging their feet on this bill because it will lose votes.
    If the planning department hadn’t dragged their feet, the building would have been built by now.
  • draw a blank
    to get no response; to find nothing. (Informal.)
    I asked him about Tom’s financial problems, and I just drew a blank.
    We looked in the files for an hour, but we drew a blank.
  • draw a line between something and something else
    to separate two things; to distinguish or differentiate between two things. (The a can be replaced with the.)
    It’s necessary to draw a line between bumping into people and striking them.
    It’s very hard to draw the line between slamming a door and just closing it loudly.
  • draw a red herring
    to introduce information which diverts attention from the main issue. (See also red herring.)
    The accountant drew several red herrings to prevent people from discovering that he had embezzled the money.
    The government, as always, will draw a red herring whenever there is a monetary crisis.
  • draw blood
    to hit or bite (a person or an animal) and make a wound that bleeds.
    The dog chased me and bit me hard, but it didn’t draw blood.
    The boxer landed just one punch and drew blood immediately.
  • dream come true
    a wish or a dream which has become a reality.
    Going to Hawaii is like having a dream come true.
    Having you for a friend is a dream come true.
  • dressed (up) to the nines
    dressed in one’s best clothes. (Informal. Very high on a scale of one to ten.)
    The applicants for the job were all dressed up to the nines.
    The wedding party were dressed to the nines.
  • dressing down
    a scolding.
    After that dressing down I won’t be late again.
    The boss gave Fred a real dressing down for breaking the machine.
  • drive a hard bargain
    to work hard to negotiate prices or agreements in one’s own favour.
    All right, sir, you drive a hard bargain. I’ll sell you this car for £12,450.
    You drive a hard bargain, Jane, but I’ll sign the contract.
  • drive someone up the wall
    to annoy or irritate someone. (Informal.)
    Stop whistling that tune. You’re driving me up the wall.
    All his talk about moving to London nearly drove me up the wall.
  • drop a bombshell
    to announce shocking or startling news. (Informal.)
    They really dropped a bombshell when they announced that the president had cancer.
    Friday is a good day to drop a bombshell like that. It gives the business world the week-end to recover.
  • drop back
    to go back or remain back; to fall behind.
    As the crowd moved forward, the weaker ones dropped back.
    She was winning the race at first, but soon dropped back.
  • drop in one’s tracks
    to stop or collapse from exhaustion; to die suddenly.
    If I keep working this way, I’ll drop in my tracks.
    Uncle Bob was working in the garden and dropped in his tracks. We are all sorry that he’s dead.
  • drop someone
    to stop being friends with someone, especially with one’s boyfriend or girlfriend. (Informal.)
    Bob finally dropped Jane. I don’t know what he saw in her.
    I’m surprised that she didn’t drop him first.
  • drown one’s sorrows
    to try to forget one’s problems by drinking a lot of alcohol. (Informal.)
    Bill is in the bar drowning his sorrows.
    Jane is at home drowning her sorrows after losing her job.
  • dry run
    an attempt; a rehearsal.
    We had better have a dry run for the official ceremony tomorrow.
    The children will need a dry run before their procession in the pageant.
20 January, 2021