Saturday, 7 September 2013

Use of idioms//idiomatic phrases & their meanings ------Exercises with answers.


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In a language, use of idioms and idiomatic expression is made to enrich power of expression, conversation and writing. This adds to its charm and beauty.


Idioms or idiomatic expressions are group of words having their own meaning which is different from that of words used separately in ordinary way. They usually are few words embibed with deeper meaning.Their meaning is understood metaphorically rather than literally. 


Grammatically, these are invariable and specific in their form. Any change or substitution in their form is not possible. If any attempt is made, their complete meaning will be changed. Their use must be with great care after understanding their meaning. Their use adds to the charm of expression of writing or conversation. 


Here are some idioms explained with their meaning and their use in sentences.

1. A pretty penny 

It means that it is very expensive.

Buying a house in a city has become a pretty penny these days.

2.Above someone's headty 

It means something too difficult to understand someone.

He started learning French language but it turned out to be above his head.

3.Against the clock

If one acts against the clock it means that one is running short of time for the act.

She is against the clock in preparing for her examinations.

4. Albatross around one's neck

A problem created by oneself hindering one's progress.

His  habit of drinking is albatross around his neck for his economic condition.

5. All fingers and thumbs

If one is all fingers and thumbs it means one is too excited to do a job properly.

The young boy is all fingers and thumbs in working on his new laptop.


6.All over the  place (the shop)

It means that everything in confusing or disorganised state.

On entering the room, I found the things scattered all over the place.

7.All the rage 

If any thing is very popular or is in vogue these days, it is all the rage.

Wearing tattered clothes is all the rage among the youth these days.

8. At the coalface

If one works at the coalface, it means that one does his work with one's full involvement in it.

He is very popular among his colleagues for his habit of doing his work at the coalface.


9.At odds

If someone is at odds with the other,  it means he is not agreeable on certain point.

Both the brothers are at odds on the issue of distribution of this piece of land.

10. At the drop of a hat

Doing a work at the drop of a hat means doing a work immediately.

All the members decided to call a meeting of the committee and decided this issue at the drop of a hat.


11. Arrow in the quiver

An arrow in the quiver means an act strategic in achieving the object.
His timely financial help was an arrow in the quiver for me to complete my project.


12. Agog with

It means to be highly excited or enthusiastic or full of anxiety.

The city is agog with Joy and excitement to welcome its leader.



13. Bare one's heart

To bare one's heart to someone means to express one's personal feelings to someone.

One should not bare one's heart to someone whom one does not know.

14. Bat an eyelid

It means not to react or not to show any feelings.

When her mother gave her news she did not bat an eyelid.

15. A bar fly

A person who spends a lot of his time in a bar for drinking.

He became a bar fly since his wife died.

16. Bleeding heart

A person who is oversympathetic towards other people.

Being a bleeding heart he is always  ready to help fellow-beings.









Exercise  No. 1

Choose  the correct meaning of the following idioms//idiomatic phrases out of the given alternatives:

A. Kith and Kin.

1. Famous persons 2.A deceiver 3. Near and dear 4.Strong followers

B. Maiden Speech.


1. A speech made by a maid  2. A speech for a lady. 3. A speech poor in quality 4. A speech made for  first time by a person.

C. Spick  and span.


1. Tools of a workman 2. Weak and thin 3.Immaculate 4.Not worth any use.

D.Nook and Corner.

1.At a distant place 2. Not up to the mark 3. Everywhere 4.A useless thing.

E.Bag and Baggage.

1.All the  belongings 2. Under cover of 3. Make heavy purchases  4. To make arrangements


Answers Exercise No. 1 :    A.3.   B.4.   C.3.    D.3.   E.1.


Exercise  No. 2.

Choose  the correct meaning of the following idioms//idiomatic phrases out of the given alternatives:

A. Man of straw.

1. A good business man 2. A weak person  3.A haughty person 4. Useless fellow.

B .Cock and Bull story.

1. A story about animals 2. A concocted story 3. A detailed information 4. Unwanted details

C.Pros and Cons.

1. Beginning and End of a story. 2. Likes and dislikes of a person
3. Uses and Abuses.                      4. Dawn and Dusk.

D. Null and void.

1. Useless    2. Invalid           3. Undue favour to someone.     4. Not applicable.

E. A Man of letters.

1. A Postman       2. A man with  good handwriting
3. A famous person with qualities of head and heart  
4.A rich person.


Answers Exercise No. 2 : A.4.B.2.C.3.D.2.E.3. 


Exercise No. 3.

Out of four alternatives given for idioms/phrases underlined in the following sentences, choose one which expresses the meaning of the idiom/phrase.

1. After demise of his father, he made ducks and drakes of his father’s money.

A. Took non vegetarian food. B. Kept birds at his place.
C. Borrowed money from others. D. Squandered money.

2. All the non performing employees of the office were given marching orders by the new boss.

A. Applauded B. Sent for training C Punished D. Dismissed.

3.All the attempts made by police to nab the culprits  appeared like a wild goose chase.

A. Full hearted attempt. B. A useless effort C.A strong desire D. An easy job.

4. My friend John is a man of his word.

A. A good orator B. A famous poet. C.A man who always fulfills what he promises D. A hypocrite.

5. The two friends buried the hatchet and started working together.

A. Started a new business B.travelled by boat C. Stopped fighting and became friends. D. Shunned laziness.


Answers Exercise No. 3 : 1.D 2.D  3.B  4.C  5.C.




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