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.
keen on someone or somethingenthusiastic about someone or something.
I’m not too keen on going to London.
Sally is fairly keen on getting a new job.
Mary isn’t keen on her new assignment.
keep a civil tongue (in one’s head)to speak decently and politely.
Please, John. Don’t talk like that. Keep a civil tongue in your head.
John seems unable to keep a civil tongue.
keep an eye out (for someone or something)to watch for the arrival or appearance of someone or something. (The an can be replaced by one’s.)
Please keep an eye out for the bus.
Keep an eye out for rain.
Okay. I’ll keep my eye out.
keep a stiff upper lipto be cool and unmoved by unsettling events.
John always keeps a stiff upper lip.
Now, Billy, don’t cry. Keep a stiff upper lip.
keep a straight faceto make one’s face stay free from laughter or smiling.
It’s hard to keep a straight face when someone tells a funny joke.
I knew it was John who played the trick. He couldn’t keep a straight face.
keep a weather eye opento watch for something (to happen); to be on the alert (for something); to be on guard.
Some trouble is brewing. Keep a weather eye open.
Try to be more alert. Learn to keep a weather eye open.
keep body and soul togetherto feed, clothe, and house oneself.
I hardly have enough money to keep body and soul together.
How the old man was able to keep body and soul together is beyond me.
keep houseto manage a household.
I hate to keep house. I’d rather live in a tent than keep house.
My grandmother kept house for nearly sixty years.
keep in with someoneto remain friendly with a person, especially a person who might be useful. (Informal.)
Jack keeps in with Jane because he likes to borrow her car.
The children keep in with Peter because his father has a sweet-shop.
keep late hoursto stay up or stay out until very late.
I’m always tired because I keep late hours.
If I didn’t keep late hours, I wouldn’t sleep so late in the morning.
keep one’s chin upto keep one’s spirits high; to act brave and confident. (Informal.)
Keep your chin up, John. Things will get better.
Just keep your chin up and tell the judge exactly what happened.
keep one’s distance (from someone or something)to maintain a respectful or cautious distance from someone or something. (The distance can be figurative or literal.)
Keep your distance from John. He’s in a bad mood.
Keep your distance from the fire.
Okay. I’ll tell Sally to keep her distance, too.
keep oneself to oneselfto remain private; not to mix with other people very much.
We never see our neighbours. They keep themselves to themselves.
Jean used to go out a lot, but she has kept herself to herself since her husband died.
keep one’s eye on the ballto remain alert to the events occurring around one. (Informal.)
If you want to get along in this office, you’re going to have to keep your eye on the ball.
Bill would do better in his classes if he would just keep his eye on the ball.
keep one’s hand in (something)to retain one’s control of something.
I want to keep my hand in the business.
Mrs. Johnson has retired from the library, but she still wants to keep her hand in. She works part-time.
keep one’s head above waterto stay ahead of one’s problems; to keep up with one’s work or responsibilities. (Also used literally. Also with have.)
I can’t seem to keep my head above water. Work just keeps piling up.
Now that I have more space to work in, I can easily keep my head above water.
keep one’s mouth shut (about someone or something)to keep quiet about someone or something; to keep a secret about someone or something. (Informal.)
They told me to keep my mouth shut about the problem or I’d be in big trouble.
I think I’ll keep my mouth shut.
keep one’s nose to the grindstoneto keep busy doing one’s work. (Also with have and get, as in the examples.)
The manager told me to keep my nose to the grindstone or be sacked.
I’ve had my nose to the grindstone ever since I started working here.
If the other people in this office would get their noses to the grindstone, more work would get done.
keep one’s own counselto keep one’s thoughts and plans to oneself; not to tell other people about one’s thoughts and plans.
Jane is very quiet. She tends to keep her own counsel.
I advise you to keep your own counsel.
keep one’s side of the bargainto do one’s part as agreed; to attend to one’s responsibilities as agreed.
Tom has to learn to cooperate. He must keep his side of the bargain.
If you don’t keep your side of the bargain, the whole project will fail.
keep one’s wordto uphold one’s promise.
I told her I’d be there to collect her, and I intend to keep my word.
Keeping one’s word is necessary in the legal profession.
keep someone in lineto make certain that someone behaves properly. (Informal.)
It’s very hard to keep Bill in line. He’s sort of rowdy.
The teacher had to struggle to keep the class in line.
keep someone in stitchesto cause someone to laugh loud and hard, over and over. (Informal. Also with have. See the examples.)
The comedian kept us in stitches for nearly an hour.
The teacher kept the class in stitches, but the pupils didn’t learn anything.
The clown had the crowd in stitches.
keep someone postedto keep someone informed (of what is happening); to keep someone up to date.
If the price of corn goes up, I need to know. Please keep me posted.
Keep her posted about the patient’s condition.
keep something under one’s hatto keep something a secret; to keep something in one’s mind (only). (Informal. If the secret stays under your hat, it stays in your mind.)
Keep this under your hat, but I’m getting married.
I’m getting married, but keep it under your hat.
keep something under wrapsto keep something concealed (until some future time).
We kept the plan under wraps until after the election.
The car company kept the new model under wraps until most of the old models had been sold.
keep the home fires burningto keep things going at one’s home or other central location.
My uncle kept the home fires burning when my sister and I went to school.
The manager stays at the office and keeps the home fires burning while I’m out selling our products.
keep the lid on somethingto restrain something; to keep something quiet or under control. (Informal.)
The politician worked hard to keep the lid on the scandal.
Try to keep the lid on the situation. Don’t let it get out of hand.
keep the wolf from the doorto maintain oneself at a minimal level; to keep from starving, freezing, etc.
I don’t make a lot of money, just enough to keep the wolf from the door.
We have a small amount of money saved, hardly enough to keep the wolf from the door.
kick oneself (for doing something)to regret doing something. (Informal.)
I could just kick myself for going off and not locking the car door. Now the car’s been stolen.
James felt like kicking himself when he missed the train.
kick one’s heelsto be kept waiting for someone or something; to have nothing to do. (Informal.)
They left me kicking my heels while they had lunch.
Mary is just kicking her heels until the university reopens.
kick up a fuss and kick up a rowto become a nuisance; to misbehave and disturb (someone). (Informal. Row rhymes with cow.)
The customer kicked up such a fuss about the food that the manager came to apologize.
I kicked up such a row that they kicked me out.
kick up one’s heelsto act in a frisky way; to be lively and have fun. (Informal.)
I like to go to an old-fashioned dance and really kick up my heels.
For an old man, your uncle is really kicking up his heels by going on a cruise.
kids’ stuffa very easy task. (Informal.)
Climbing that hill is kids’ stuff.
Driving an automatic car is kids’ stuff.
kill the fatted calfto prepare an elaborate banquet (in someone’s honour). (From the biblical story recounting the return of the prodigal son.)
When Bob got back from college, his parents killed the fatted calf and threw a great party.
Sorry this meal isn’t much, John. We didn’t have time to kill the fatted calf.
kill timeto waste time. (Informal.)
Stop killing time. Get to work!
We went over to the record shop just to kill time.
kiss of deathan act that puts an end to someone or something. (Informal.)
The mayor’s veto was the kiss of death for the new law.
Fainting on stage was the kiss of death for my acting career.
knit one’s browto wrinkle one’s brow, especially by frowning.
The woman knitted her brow and asked us what we wanted from her.
While he read his book, John knitted his brow occasionally. He must not have agreed with what he was reading.
knock about (somewhere) and knock around (somewhere)to travel around; to act as a vagabond. (Informal.)
I’d like to take off a year and knock about Europe.
If you’re going to knock around, you should do it when you’re young.
knock people’s heads togetherto scold some people; to get some people to do what they are supposed to be doing. (Informal.)
If you children don’t quieten down and go to sleep, I’m going to come up there and knock your heads together.
The government is in a mess. We need to go down to London and knock the ministers’ heads together.
knock someone cold 1.to knock someone out. (Informal.)
The blow knocked the boxer cold.
The attacker knocked the old man cold. 2. to stun someone; to shock someone.
The news of his death knocked me cold.
Pat was knocked cold by the imprisonment of her son.
knock someone deadto put on a stunning performance or display for someone. (Informal. Someone is often replaced by ’em from them.)
This band is going to do great tonight. We’re going to knock them dead.
“See how your sister is all dressed up!” said Bill. “She’s going to knock ’em dead.”
knock someone down with a featherto push over a person who is stunned, surprised, or awed by something extraordinary.
I was so surprised, you could have knocked me down with a feather.
When she heard the news, you could have knocked her down with a feather.
know all the tricks of the tradeto possess the skills and knowledge necessary to do something. (Also without all.)
Tom can repair car engines. He knows the tricks of the trade.
If I knew all the tricks of the trade, I could be a better plumber.
know a thing or two (about someone or something)to be well informed about someone or something; to know something, often something unpleasant, about someone or something. (Informal.)
I know a thing or two about cars.
I know a thing or two about Mary that would really shock you.
know one’s ABCto know the alphabet; to know the most basic things (about something). (Informal.)
Bill can’t do it. He doesn’t even know his ABC.
You can’t expect to write novels when you don’t know your ABC.
know one’s placeto know and accept the behaviour appropriate to one’s position or status in life.
I know my place. I won’t speak unless spoken to.
People around here are expected to know their place. You have to follow all the rules.
know the ropesto know how to do something. (Informal.)
I can’t do the job because I don’t know the ropes.
Ask Sally to do it. She knows the ropes. also: show someone the ropes to tell or show someone how something is to be done.
Since this was my first day on the job, the manager spent a lot of time showing me the ropes.