Sometimes in the workplace, we may want to use some informal language to encourage a more friendly relationship with peers and colleagues. It is, however, not appropriate to memorize words in an idioms dictionary and use an idiom each time you say something in the office. Many of those idioms may not be commonly used at all. However, it is important to understand them if other people use them.
Here are some rather commonly used idioms and example to go with each. Read the examples carefully to find the meaning of the idiom. Then do Exercise 1 and Exercise 2. Use the back button on your browser to get back to this page.
|the green light||My supervisor has read my proposal. Now I have the green
light to start the project.
(Like a green traffic light, which gives permission to start.)
|in black and white||The boss said well have a raise next year, but I
dont know whether to believe her or not. If only it were in black and white!
(Writing is black and white, if you have something in writing it's like a contract.)
|in the red||The companys in the red. Its got a lot of debt
and is having difficulty covering its expenses.
(Red ink was traditionally used to show negative numbers in accounts.)
|out of the blue||The news of that fast-food shop closing came out of the blue.
No one was expecting it. We all thought it was doing well.
(Like something falling from the blue sky.)
|fishy||When the boss saw two almost identical proposals, he
immediately suspected that something fishy was going on.
(Old fish smell bad. Fishy is a smell.)
|to go bananas||The Administrative Assistant went bananas when she realized
she still had so much to prepare for this afternoons video-conferencing.
(Went bananas means went crazy.)
|a big mouth||Be careful with Tommy in the next department. Dont tell
him anything. Hes got such a big mouth. As soon as you tell him something, its
all round the office.
(A big mouth means someone who talks too much and tells secrets.)
|to cost an arm and a leg||Im not coming with you to Lane Crawford. Everything
there costs an arm and a leg. With my kind of salary, I cant afford to buy anything
(Costs an arm and a leg means it's very expensive.)
|to have a sweet tooth||I know you have a sweet tooth, so I bought you some Godiva
chocolates for your birthday.
(To have a sweet tooth means to like to eat sweet things.)
|head over heels in love||Wing and Tony are head over heels in love. Theyre
planning to get married.
(Head over heels means totally. Only used about love.)
|a long face||You didnt invite Lizzy to your wedding? No wonder she
walked out with such a long face.
(A long face means an unhappy expression.)
|a pain in the neck||Analysing statistics is a pain in the neck. It always gets me
(A pain in the neck is something troublesome.)
|to see eye to eye||Ill have a very long meeting today. Those two managers
never see eye to eye on anything. It doesnt matter what they discuss, they always
(See eye-to-eye means to agree.)
|down-to-earth||I like to go to Alex for advice. Hes down-to-earth and
his advice is usually very valuable.
(Down to earth means sensible.)
|once in a blue moon||The company Director hardly ever comes in to the office, only
once in a blue moon.
(Once in a blue moon means very rarely, as the moon is rarely blue.)
|to keep the ball rolling||Lets keep the ball rolling. Were off to a good
start with a successful bid, but weve still got a lot of work to do.
(A football idiom - to get[start] the ball rolling means to start the match. To keep the ball rolling means to continue working.)
|on the ball||Lams an excellent supervisor. She really knows how to
organize things and get things done. Shes really on the ball.
(Another football idiom. On the ball means to be in control of the situation.)
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