Idiomatic Expressions - List in Alphabetical Order


List of idioms in alphabetical order

A list of idioms arranged in alphabetical order (with definitions and examples.) For a list arranged in categories, click here

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Learn English Idioms

A list of English idioms with definitions and examples:

yellow journalism
Journalism which is sensationalistic and of questionable accuracy and taste.

This paper is practising yellow journalism with its reports on sex scandals.

Category | colors

yoke around someone's neck
a burden.

They decided to buy the car on credit. This became a yoke around their neck.

Category | parts of the body

you can bet your life
This idiom is used to mean that you are absolutely certain that something is true or will happen.

You can bet your life they'll get married.

Category | life

you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar
The proverb you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar means that it is much easier to get what you want by being polite rather than by being rude and insolent.

Alternative forms

- Honey catches more flies than vinegar
- You attract more flies with honey than vinegar

Origin of the phrase

'Flies' represent your goals - anything you want to achieve. 'Honey' stands for agreeable things that you do to achieve your goals. 'Vinegar', however, is any disagreeable thing or method you use to get what you want. So, in your attempts to catch flies (i.e., achieving what you want/your goals), you had better use nice methods (i.e., honey) than disagreeable ones (i.e., vinegar.) Put differently, people become more successful in life by being nicer rather than being hurtful, mean, or insolent.

The proverb was first used in 1666 in A common place of Italian proverbs and proverbial phrases, published by Giovanni Torriano:
Il mele catta più mosche, che non fà l'aceto.. (Italian)
Honey gets more flyes to it, than doth fo.. (Translation)

The phrase was also used by Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanack, published in 1744:
Tart Words make no Friends: spoonful of honey will catch more flies than Gallon of Vinegar.

Just be polite when you ask for something. You know, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar

Category | food

you can't please everyone
making everyone happy is impossible no matter what you do.

When the boss chose Mary as the chief executive of the project, everybody complained. But you can't please everyone!

Category | relationship

you got me there
I can't answer your question.

I don't kow what to say. You got me there!

Category | general

you name it
The phrase you name it means anything you say or choose or whatever you can think of.

What would you like to eat? Fish, chicken, pizza? You name it, we've got everything here.

Category | names

you're killing me
The phrase you're killing me is an exaggerated way of saying that something or someone is very funny.

This idiomatic expression means that the person you are talking to is so funny that one could die from laughing.

Another variation of this idiom is:
I almost died laughing.

It's also possible to use expressions like "it's killing me" or "you're killing me" to mean that you are anxious about something or when something is driving you crazy.

Your jokes are hilarious. You're killing me!
Stop your nonsense. You're killing me!
I don't know what happened between Sara and John. It's killing me, the mystery!

Category | death

young at heart
To be young at heart means to have a youthful spirit in spite of being old.

Although he is over 80, he still feels young at heart.

Category | age

young Turk
The phrase young Turk refers to a young person who is progressive, rebellious, and difficult to control in an organization, political party, team, etc.

The origin of the idiom

The idioms can be traced back to a revolutionary group in Turkey during the early 20th century. The phrase spread and has been used for various politicians, businessmen, and others who attempt to bring about a radical change in an organization.

Alan was a young Turk who could not be tamed.

He was a young Turk, a militant who was fighting for radical reform.

Category | nationalities

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