BETTER ENGLISH

For You

Stephen Lau


AMERICAN IDIOMS
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Through thick and thin: through good times as well as bad times

e.g. Don’t worry! I’ll stick by you through thick and thin.

Inch along: move very slowly

e.g. Business was inching along because of the economy.

You bet: yes, of course

e.g. “Are you hungry?” “You bet!”

Above and beyond: more than is required

e.g. Asking the employees to work extra hours but without paying them is above and beyond their loyalty.

Vested interest: a personal stake

e.g. He showed a vested interest in his uncle’s business.

Act one’s age: behave maturely

e.g. Stop behaving like a teenager! Act your age.

Under one’s own steam: by one’s own effort

e.g. He cannot succeed under his own steam; he needs the support of his family.

As easy as pie: very easy

e.g. Cooking a turkey is as easy as pie.

On one’s toes: be alert

e.g. A policeman has to be on his toes all the time when he is on duty.

Set great store by someone or something
: have high

e.g. His parents set great store by his performance; they expected him to win the piano competition.

On pins and needles
: anxious; in suspense

e.g. He was on pins and needles until he heard the outcome of the surgery.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Pull the wool over someone’s eyes: deceive

e.g. Don’t try to pull the wool over my eyes: I wasn’t born yesterday.

Meet someone halfway: compromise

e.g. He settled the agreement with her by meeting her halfway.

First and last: above all; under all circumstances

e.g. She was an accomplished pianist first and last.

Poop out: tire out

e.g. The marathon race pooped me out; I could hardly walk.

Make as if: pretend

e.g. You made as if you enjoyed the film, but you really didn’t.

Drop the other shoe: do the expected

e.g. They are now separated. Soon they will drop the other shoe, and file for a divorce.

Lead someone astray
: cause someone to do something wrong or illegal

e.g. If you are always in the company of lawbreakers, you  may be easily be led astray.

Hit like a ton of bricks: surprise or shock

e.g. The sudden resignation of the President hit the people like a ton of bricks.

Go the distance: do the whole thing

e.g. This is a long, complicated project. To succeed, you must go the distance.

For a song: inexpensive

e.g. You can get this on the Internet for a song.

Abide by: accept and follow
e.g. If you wish to become a citizen of the United States, you must abide by U.S. immigration laws.

Full of crap
: talking nonsense all the time


e.g. I don’t like your friend; he’s full of crap.


Make good money: earn a lot of money
e.g. I hope to make good money out of this book.

Lead someone astray
: cause someone to do something wrong or illegal


e.g. If you are always in the company of lawbreakers, you  may be easily be led astray.


Pass the hat: collect money for

e.g. He is always passing the hat for something.


Hit the nail on the head: do exactly the right thing

e.g. Your remark hit the nail on the head; that was precisely the solution to the problem.

Give someone or something a wide berth: keep someone or something at a distance.


e.g. That dog is very fierce. We’d better give it a wide berth.


e.g. Your Mom is in a foul mood; give her a wide berth.


All at sea: confused

e.g. The lawyer was all at sea when he read the two conflicting reports of the incident.


Odd man out
: atypical person or thing


e.g. Everybody has a partner, and you are an odd man out because you don’t have one.


Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau