Category Archives: Idioms

Idioms are expressions with greater meaning. Phrases like "nick of time" or "in other words" or "for heaven's sake". Definition: a group of words in a fixed order that have a particular meaning that is different from the meanings of each word understood on its own:

Pull the plug

Pull the plug
Pull the plug
1. Lit. to turn off someone’s life-support system in a hospital. (Based on pull the plug (on something) {2}. This results in the death of the person whose life support has been terminated.) They had to get a court order to pull the plug on their father. Fred signed a living will making it possible to pull the plug on him without a court order.

  1. Fig. to put an end to someone’s activities or plans. (Based on pull the plug (on something) {2}.) The mayor was doing a fine job until the treasurer pulled the plug on him. David pulled the plug on Fred, who was taking too long with the project.

pulling the strings

Pulling the strings
Pulling the strings

COMMON If someone pulls the strings, they control everything that another person or an organization does, often in a way that is not noticed by people. He engineered many of these political changes, pulling the strings from behind the stage. He is the kind of man who prefers to work behind the scenes, pulling the strings.

Note: The image here is of a puppet which is controlled by means of strings.

Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

Pay your dues

Pay your dues
Pay your dues

To earn the right to have something because you worked hard: For example: “I’ve paid my dues for the last 25 years, and now I’m ready for a comfortable retirement.”

Usually, dues. a regular fee or charge payable at specific intervals, especially to a group or organization: membership dues.

 

Happily ever after

Happily ever after
Happily ever after

The new economic realities of the 19th century then cross-pollinated with the ideas that emerged from the Enlightenment about individual rights and the pursuit of happiness, and the result was a full-blown Age of Romanticism. It was the 1800s and people’s feelings suddenly mattered. The new ideal was not only to marry for love but that that love was to live on in bliss for all of the eternity. Thus, it wasn’t until the relatively recent 150 years ago that the ever-popular “happily ever after” ideal was born.

Under the radar

under the radar
under the radar

The definition of “under the radar” is: doing something without other people noticing. For example, “The employee didn’t want his boss to find out that he was looking for another job, so he did all his searching under the radar.”

Putting on airs

If someone is “putting on airs” it means that he or she is acting superior or snobbish.
Since the 1500s, “airs” has referred to having an affected manner. It’s from the French word air, “look, appearance, or bearing.” Behaving as if you’re better than other people — wealthier, better dressed, or better educated — is to put on airs. Acting like you know more than your teacher is a way to put on airs.