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Idioms starting with letter R

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.

  • race against time
    to hurry to beat a deadline; to hurry to achieve something by a certain time, a task which must be finished within a certain time; a situation in which one must hurry to complete something on time.
    We had to race against time to finish the work before the deadline.
    You don’t need to race against time. Take all the time you want.
    It was a race against time to finish before the deadline.
    The examination was a race against time, and Tom could not finish it.
  • rack one’s brains
    to try very hard to think of something.
    I racked my brains all afternoon, but couldn’t remember where I put the book.
    Don’t waste any more time racking your brains. Go and borrow the book from the library.
  • rain cats and dogs
    to rain very hard. (Informal.)
    It’s raining cats and dogs. Look at it pour!
    I’m not going out in that storm. It’s raining cats and dogs.
  • rained off
    cancelled or postponed because of rain.
    Oh, the weather looks awful. I hope the picnic isn’t rained off.
    It’s starting to drizzle now. Do you think the game will be rained off?
  • raise a few eyebrows
    to shock or surprise people mildly by doing or saying something.
    What you just said may raise a few eyebrows, but it shouldn’t make anyone really angry.
    John’s sudden marriage to Ann raised a few eyebrows.
  • raise one’s sights
    to set higher goals for oneself.
    When you’re young, you tend to raise your sights too high.
    On the other hand, some people need to raise their sights higher.
  • rally round someone or something
    to come together to support someone or something.
    The family rallied round Jack when he lost his job.
    The former pupils rallied round their old school when it was in danger of being closed.
  • rant and rave
    to shout angrily and wildly.
    Bob rants and raves when anything displeases him.
    Father rants and raves if we arrive home late.
  • rap someone’s knuckles
    to rebuke or punish someone.
    She rapped his knuckles for whispering too much.
    Don’t rap my knuckles. I didn’t do it. also: get one’s knuckles rapped; have one’s knuckles rapped to receive punishment.
    I got my knuckles rapped for whispering too much.
    You should have your knuckles rapped for doing that!
  • rarin’ to go
    extremely keen to act or do something. (Informal.)
    Jane can’t wait to start her job. She’s rarin’ to go.
    Mary is rarin’ to go and can’t wait for her university term to start.
  • rat race
    a fierce struggle for success, especially in one’s career or business.
    Bob’s got tired of the rat race. He’s retired and gone to live in the country.
    The money market is a rat race, and many people who work in it die of the stress.
  • read between the lines
    to infer something (from something). (Usually figurative. Does not necessarily refer to written or printed information.)
    After listening to what she said, if you read between the lines, you can begin to see what she really means.
    Don’t believe everything you hear. Learn to read between the lines.
  • read someone like a book
    to understand someone very well.
    I’ve got John figured out. I can read him like a book.
    Of course I understand you. I read you like a book.
  • read someone’s mind
    to guess what someone is thinking.
    You’ll have to tell me what you want. I can’t read your mind, you know.
    If I could read your mind, I’d know what you expect of me.
  • read someone the Riot Act
    to give someone a severe scolding. (Under the Riot Act of 1715, an assembly of people could be dispersed by magistrates reading the act to them.)
    The manager read me the Riot Act for coming in late.
    The teacher read the pupils the Riot Act for their failure to do their homework.
  • read something into something
    to attach or attribute a new or different meaning to something; to find a meaning that is not intended in something.
    This statement means exactly what it says. Don’t try to read anything else into it.
    Am I reading too much into your comments?
  • rear its ugly head
    [for something unpleasant] to appear or become obvious after lying hidden.
    Jealousy reared its ugly head and destroyed their marriage.
    The question of money always rears its ugly head in matters of business.
  • receive someone with open arms and welcome someone with open arms
    to welcome someone eagerly. (Used literally or figuratively.)
    I’m certain they wanted us to stay for dinner. They received us with open arms.
    When I came home from school, the whole family welcomed me with open arms.
  • redbrick university
    one of the universities built in England in the late nineteenth century, contrasted with Oxford and Cambridge Universities. (Derogatory.)
    John’s tutor ridicules the redbrick universities.
    Alice is a snob. She refuses to go to a redbrick university.
  • red herring
    a piece of information or suggestion introduced to draw attention away from the truth or real facts of a situation. (A red herring is a type of strong-smelling smoked fish that was once drawn across the trail of scent to mislead hunting dogs and put them off the scent. See also draw a red herring.)
    The detectives were following a red herring, but they’re on the right track now.
    Jack and Mary were hoping to confuse their parents with a series of red herrings so that the parents wouldn’t realize that they had eloped.
  • red tape
    over-strict attention to the wording and details of rules and regulations, especially by government or public departments. (From the colour of the tape used by government departments to tie up bundles of documents.)
    Because of red tape, it took weeks for Frank to get a visa.
    Red tape prevented Jack’s wife from joining him abroad.
  • regain one’s composure
    to become calm and composed.
    I found it difficult to regain my composure after the argument.
    Here, sit down and relax so that you can regain your composure.
  • rest on one’s laurels
    to enjoy one’s success and not try to achieve more.
    Don’t rest on your laurels. Try to continue to do great things!
    I think I’ll rest on my laurels for a time before attempting anything new.
  • return ticket
    a ticket (for a plane, train, bus, etc.) which allows one to go to a destination and return.
    A return ticket will usually save you some money.
    How much is a return ticket to Harrogate?
  • ride roughshod over someone or something
    to treat someone or something with disdain or scorn.
    Tom seems to ride roughshod over his friends.
    You shouldn’t have come into our country to ride roughshod over our laws and our traditions.
  • riding for a fall
    risking failure or an accident, usually owing to overconfidence.
    Tom drives too fast, and he seems too sure of himself. He’s riding for a fall.
    Bill needs to stop borrowing money. He’s riding for a fall.
  • right up someone’s street
    ideally suited to one’s interests or abilities. (Informal.)
    Skiing is right up my street. I love it.
    This kind of thing is right up John’s street.
  • ring a bell
    [for something] to cause someone to remember something or to seem familiar. (Informal.)
    I’ve never met John Franklin, but his name rings a bell.
    The face in the photograph rang a bell. It was my cousin.
  • ring down the curtain (on something) and bring down the curtain (on something)
    to bring something to an end; to declare something to be at an end.
    It’s time to ring down the curtain on our relationship. We have nothing in common any more.
    We’ve tried our best to make this company a success, but it’s time to ring down the curtain.
    After many years the old man brought down the curtain and closed the restaurant.
  • ring in the New Year
    to celebrate the beginning of the New Year at midnight on December 31.
    We are planning a big affair to ring in the New Year.
    How did you ring in the New Year?
  • ring off
    to end a telephone call.
    I must ring off now and get back to work.
    James rang off rather suddenly and rudely when Alice contradicted him.
  • ring someone or something up and ring up someone or something
    [with something] to record the cost of an item on a cash register, [with someone] to call someone on the telephone.
    The cashier rang up each item and told me how much money I owed.
    Please ring this chewing-gum up first, and I’ll put it in my handbag.
    Please ring up Ann and ask her if she wants to come over.
    Just ring me up any time.
  • ring the changes
    to do or arrange things in different ways to achieve variety. (From bell-ringing.)
    Jane doesn’t have many clothes, but she rings the changes by adding different-coloured scarves to her basic outfits.
    Aunt Mary rings the changes in her small flat by rearranging the furniture.
  • ring true
    to sound or seem true or likely. (From testing the quality of metal or glass by striking it and listening to the noise made.)
    The pupil’s excuse for being late doesn’t ring true.
    Do you think that Mary’s explanation for her absence rang true?
  • ripe old age
    a very old age.
    Mr. Smith died last night, but he was a ripe old age—ninety-nine.
    All the Smiths seem to live to a ripe old age.
  • rise and shine
    to get out of bed and be lively and energetic. (Informal. Often a command.)
    Come on, children! Rise and shine! We’re going to the seaside.
    Father always calls out “Rise and shine!” in the morning when we want to go on sleeping.
  • rise to the occasion
    to meet the challenge of an event; to try extra hard to do a task.
    John was able to rise to the occasion and make the conference a success.
    It was a big challenge, but he rose to the occasion.
  • risk one’s neck (to do something)
    to risk physical harm play safe to accomplish something. (Informal.)
    Look at that traffic! I refuse to risk my neck just to cross the street to buy a paper.
    I refuse to risk my neck at all.
  • road-hog
    someone who drives carelessly and selfishly. (Informal.)
    Look at that road-hog driving in the middle of the road and stopping other drivers getting past him.
    That road-hog nearly knocked the children over. He was driving too fast.
  • rob Peter to pay Paul
    to take from one person in order to give to another.
    Why borrow money to pay your bills? That’s just robbing Peter to pay Paul.
    There’s no point in robbing Peter to pay Paul. You will still be in debt.
  • rock the boat
    to cause trouble; to disturb a situation which is otherwise stable and satisfactory. (Often negative.)
    Look, Tom, everything is going fine here. Don’t rock the boat!
    You can depend on Tom to mess things up by rocking the boat.
  • roll on something
    [for something, such as a time or a day] to approach rapidly. (Said by someone who wants the time or the day to arrive sooner than is possible. Usually a command.)
    Roll on Saturday! I get the day off.
    Roll on spring! We hate the snow.
  • romp home
    to win a race or competition easily. (Informal.)
    Our team romped home in the relay race.
    Jack romped home in the election for president of the club.
  • rooted to the spot
    unable to move because of fear or surprise.
    Joan stood rooted to the spot when she saw the ghostly figure.
    Mary was rooted to the spot when the thief snatched her bag.
  • rough it
    to live in discomfort; to live in uncomfortable conditions without the usual amenities. (Informal.)
    The students are roughing it in a shack with no running water.
    Bob and Jack had nowhere to live, so they had to rough it in a tent until they found somewhere.
  • round on someone
    to attack someone verbally.
    Jane suddenly rounded on Tom for arriving late.
    Peter rounded on Meg, asking what she’d done with the money.
  • rub along with someone
    to get along fairly well with someone. (Informal.)
    Jack and Fred manage to rub along with each other, although they’re not best friends.
    Jim just about rubs along with his in-laws.
  • rub salt in the wound
    deliberately to make someone’s unhappiness, shame, or misfortune worse.
    Don’t rub salt in the wound by telling me how enjoyable the party was.
    Jim is feeling miserable about losing his job, and Fred is rubbing salt in the wound by saying how good his replacement is.
  • rub shoulders (with someone)
    to associate with someone; to work closely with someone.
    I don’t care to rub shoulders with someone who acts like that!
    I rub shoulders with John every day at work. We are good friends.
  • rub someone’s nose in it
    to remind one of something one has done wrong; to remind one of something bad or unfortunate that has happened. (From a method of house-training animals.)
    When Bob failed his exam, his brother rubbed his nose in it.
    Mary knows she shouldn’t have broken off her engagement. Don’t rub her nose in it.
  • rub someone up the wrong way
    to irritate someone. (Informal.)
    I’m sorry I rubbed you up the wrong way. I didn’t mean to upset you.
    Don’t rub her up the wrong way!
  • ruffle someone’s feathers
    to upset or annoy someone. (A bird’s feathers become ruffled if it is angry or afraid.)
    You certainly ruffled Mrs. Smith’s feathers by criticizing her garden.
    Try to be tactful and not ruffle people’s feathers.
  • rule the roost
    to be the boss or manager, especially at home. (Informal.)
    Who rules the roost at your house?
    Our new office manager really rules the roost.
  • run a fever and run a temperature
    to have a body temperature higher than normal; to have a fever.
    I ran a fever when I had the flu.
    The baby is running a temperature and is irritable.
  • run against the clock
    to be in a race with time; to be in a great hurry to get something done before a particular time.
    This morning, Bill set a new track record running against the clock. He lost the actual race this afternoon, however.
    The front runner was running against the clock. The others were a lap behind.
  • run a tight ship
    to run a ship or an organization in an orderly, efficient, and disciplined manner.
    The new office manager really runs a tight ship.
    The headmaster runs a tight ship.
  • run for it
    to try and escape by running. (Informal.)
    The guard’s not looking. Let’s run for it!
    The convict tried to run for it, but the warder caught him.
  • run for one’s life
    to run away to save one’s life.
    The dam has burst! Run for your life!
    The zoo-keeper told us all to run for our lives.
  • run high
    [for feelings] to be in a state of excitement or anger.
    Feelings were running high as the general election approached.
    The mood of the crowd was running high when they saw the man beat the child.
  • run in the family
    for a characteristic to appear in all (or most) members of a family.
    My grandparents lived well into their nineties, and longevity runs in the family.
    My brothers and I have red hair. It runs in the family.
  • run of the mill
    common or average; typical.
    The restaurant we went to was nothing special—just run of the mill.
    The service was good, but the food was run of the mill or worse.
  • run riot and run wild
    to get out of control.
    The dandelions have run riot on our lawn.
    The children ran wild at the birthday party and had to be taken home.
  • run someone or something to earth
    to find something after a search. (From a fox-hunt chasing a fox into its hole.)
    Jean finally ran her long-lost cousin to earth in Paris.
    After months of searching, I ran a copy of Jim’s book to earth.
  • run someone ragged
    to keep someone very busy. (Informal.)
    This busy season is running us all ragged at the shop.
    What a busy day. I ran myself ragged.
  • run to seed and go to seed
    to become worn-out and uncared for.
    The estate has gone to seed since the old man’s death.
    Pick things up around here. This place is going to seed. What a mess!
  • rush one’s fences
    to act hurriedly without enough care or thought. (From horse-riding.)
    Jack’s always rushing his fences. He should think things out first.
    Think carefully before you buy that expensive house. Don’t rush your fences.
20 January, 2021