Phrases and Idioms

Meaning

101.

call – call someone’s bluff

To challenge someone to carry out their threat, so as to expose it as an empty threat

102.

call – call the shots

In a position to decide or initiate action.

103.

call - the call of

A strong appeal of a place, an occupation, etc. that draws someone.

104.

can – can of worms

An awkward situation that is likely to give rise to many problems and prove embarrassing.

105.

cap – cap in hand

Seeking a favour in a humble way.

106.

capture - capture someone’s heart

To be greatly attracted to someone.

107.

card - on the cards

Likely to happen.

108.

carry - carry oneself well

To move and behave in an appropriate manner.

109.

carry – carry the day

To be triumphal.

110.

carry - get carried away

To lose one’s self-control.

111.

cash – cash and carry

A shop where goods are paid for in full and carried away by the buyer

112.

cast - be cast away

To be stranded on a shore or island after a shipwreck.

113.

cast - be cast down

Feel depressed and discouraged.

114.

catch – catch one’s breath

To momentarily stop breathing in shock, surprise or fear.

115.

catch – catch sight of

To suddenly notice someone or something.

116.

catch – catch someone’s eye

Attract someone’s attention through eye contact; to be noticed by someone.

117.

cause – cause and effect

An action and its effect.

118.

cause – make common cause

Join together to attain a particular goal.

119.

chalk – chalk it up

Put it to one’s credit.

120.

chance – by any chance

Possibly or as is true.

121.

chance – stand a chance

Have the likelihood to succeed.

122.

chance – take a chance

Run a risk of things not happening or of danger.

123.

chance – take one's chance

Do something risky with the hope of success.

124.

change – change of air

In a different place or climate that is usually better.

125.

change – change one’s tune

To react or change one’s opinion after something has happened.

126.

change – for a change

An experience which is different from before and is usually better.

127.

charge – free of charge

No payment required.

128.

charge – in charge of

Having control or command of.

129.

charge – on a charge

Accused of a criminal offence.

130.

charge – put in charge

Entrust someone with power to control or supervise.

131.

cheap - on the cheap

Incur less cost than is needed

132.

cheek – cheek by jowl

Very close together.

133.

cheek – cheek to cheek

(dancing) heads close together.

134.

chew – chew the fat

To talk in a friendly way.

135.

chicken - she’s no chicken

She is no longer young.

136.

chop - get the chop

To lose one’s job; to cancel something, e.g. a building project.

137.

chord - strike a chord

To express an agreeable opinion or acceptable idea.

138.

circle - come full circle

Return to a past position or situation.

139.

circumstance - in suspicious circumstances

Involving foul play.

140.

circumstance - under/in no circumstances

To say that something must not be allowed to happen no matter what.

141.

circumstance - under/in the circumstances

At the given situation.

142.

circumstance – victim of circumstance

Someone who is unfavourably affected in a difficult situation.

143.

claim - lay claim to

To state one’s right to or ownership of something.

144.

clean – a clean break

An end to a relationship; freeing oneself from a situation.

145.

clean - a clean slate/sheet

Free from misbehaviour, mistakes made or a goal scored by the rival team.

146.

clear - clear the air

To reduce a tense situation by discussing in a calm manner.

147.

clear – clear the decks

To do something in order to prepare for some other things.

148.

clear -in the clear

Not under suspicion or guilty.

149.

clip – at a clip

At once.

150.

clip – clip someone’s wings

To curb someone’s aspirations.

151.

clock - against the clock

Not having much time left.

152.

close - a close shave

Narrow escape from an accident or danger.

153.

clutch – clutch at straws

Make a desperate attempt at salvaging a hopeless situation.

154.

coast – coast is clear

Safe to do something without the risk of being noticed or caught.

155.

cock – cock a snook

To express contempt at.

156.

cold – cold hard cash

Paper money and coins as opposed to cheques or credit cards.

157.

cold – in cold blood

In a cruel and merciless way.

158.

cold – the cold shoulder

Display of one’s unfriendliness

159.

come – come of age

To attain adulthood.

160.

come – come off it

Used to express one’s disbelief.

161.

come – come on strong

To show a confident and forceful personality.

162.

come – come to mind

(of a though, idea, etc.) suggest itself.

163.

come – come to nothing

To produce no effect or result.

164.

come – come to pass

To happen eventually.

165.

come – come up dry

To become unsuccessful.

166.

come – come what may

No matter what happens.

167.

commit – commit to paper

To write down.

168.

common – in common with

To be in the same way as someone else.

169.

common – the common good

Something shared by two or more parties and acts as a basis for further interaction.

170.

common – the common touch

The ability to interact with the ordinary people.

171.

concern - a going concern

A business that is still operating and making a profit.

172.

conquer – conquer somebody’s heart

To make that somebody fall in love with one.

173.

conscience – in all conscience

In fairness; by any reasonable standard.

174.

conscience – on one’s conscience

Feeling guilty about something.

175.

conscience – prisoner of conscience

A person who is detained or imprisoned because of his or her political or religious beliefs.

176.

cook – cook somebody’s goose

To spoil a person’s plans.

177.

cool – a cool million

Large amount that someone can easily earn.

178.

cool – cool one’s heels

To be kept waiting

179.

cool - keep one’s cool

Maintain a calm attitude in a tense situation.

180.

cool – lose one’s cool

To be unable to remain calm in a difficult situation.

181.

corner – around the corner

Very near; imminent; approaching.

182.

corner – corner the market

To control the supply of a commodity.

183.

corner – fight one’s corner

To defend one’s position.

184.

corner – in someone’s corner

To offer support and encouragement.

185.

corner – turn a corner

To begin to show improvement.

186.

corridors – corridors of power

Place where crucial decisions of administration are made.

187.

cost –  cost a bomb

Cost a lot of money.

188.

cost – at all costs

Regardless of the obstacles that one has to overcome.

189.

cost – cost someone dear

To cause someone to suffer a huge loss.

190.

count - count one’s blessings

Used to tell someone how lucky they are and be grateful for what they have.

191.

count - count the cost

To examine the effect of one’s terrible mistake.

192.

count - count the days

To be anxiously waiting for the days to pass.

193.

cover - cover one’s back

To refrain from acts that will invite criticism.

194.

cover - cover one’s tracks

To conceal evidence of one’s movement.

195.

crack – crack of dawn

Daybreak

196.

cradle - the cradle of

Place in which something important began or was nurtured.

197.

cream - the cream of

The most outstanding group of people.

198.

credit - line of credit

Amount of credit allowed to a borrower

199.

crime – crime doesn’t pay

Used to mean the criminal will sooner or later be brought to justice.

200.

crime - crime of passion

A crime committed in a fit of sexual jealousy.