Monday, 14 July 2014


                                                         (continued from last post)

An Idiom or idiomatic expression is a form of expression of words in their peculiar form as prevalent in a language.The words used have meanings different from their  literal meanings. An idiom has its metaphorical rather than literal meaning. The use of words in an idiom is fixed  . These idioms undergo changes with the passage of time. 

The usage of idioms enhance the beauty of a language and give richness to it. Idioms usually  comprise of a few words but these words have their own meanings different from their literal meanings. Just as  the meaning of 'Put' is different from the one when some words are added  to it as --Put up, Put out , Put off  or To put up for a rainy day etc. These words are to be used 'as they are' and these cannot be changed at all. The grammatical use of these words is fixed.For example  He has his own axe to grind cannot be changed to ground his axe or some other form. Idioms have their meanings in metaphorical sense rather than literal one. 

Idioms add richness to a language but their correct and appropriate use is necessary. Here is a list of idioms with their meanings and usage though it is illustrative and not exhaustive.

K, L, M, N, O.

Kith and kin : ( relatives, near and dears) :

He invited all of his kith and kin to attend the party.

Keep under lock and  key : ( to keep things a place duly locked) :

 Her mother advised her to keep all her precious things under lock and key.  

Keep an eye : ( to observe stealthily ) :

The teacher kept an eye on all the students during the examination.

Keep at bay : ( to remain away from) : 

It is better you keep bad habits at bay.

Keep soul and body together : ( to make one's living ) : 

It is very difficult for a poor person like him to keep his soul and body together.

Keep up : ( to maintain ) :

You  are faring well in the class. You must keep it up.

Keep at arm's length : ( to keep one away) :

It is in your own interest that you keep  rogues like him at arm's length.

Kick a habit : ( to stop doing something) :

He just could not kick his habit of smoking.

Keep one's head above water : ( to be able to survive ) :

By doing extra work after his office hours he is keeping his  head above water.

To keep under one's hat : (to keep something secret ) : 

He gave me this information but advised me to keep it under my hat.

To keep the wolf away from the door : ( to keep poverty off from oneself) :

The poor fellow toiled hard throughout his life to keep the wolf away from the door.

To lead a cat and dog life : ( to live a life a strife torn life ) :

It is so bad to see the couple leading a cat and dog life.

To live from hand to mouth : ( to expend whatever is earned ) : 

In these days of high prices an average man lives from hand to mouth.

Life and soul : ( prime member) : 

The chief manager is life and soul of the office.

To leave in the lurch : ( to deceive , to leave when one is in trouble) :

A  fair weather friend cannot be trusted upon. He is sure to leave one in the lurch.

To lick the dust : ( to suffer a loss, to be ruined) :

It is due to his bad habits that he is licking the dust today.

Laughing stock : ( someone or something people laugh at ) : 

His ride in that old car has made him a  laughing stock among his friends.

Lend one's ear :  ( to listen to someone  ) : 

If you tell your problem to him he will certainly lend his ear to you with great sympathy.

Leave no stone unturned : ( to make all efforts , to try all ways ) : 

The host  left no stone unturned to make comfortable arrangements for stay of all the guests.

Labour of love : ( to do a task without any interest of money or reward ) : 

His father after retirement from his active service continues to serve the company as a labour of love.

Let bygones be bygones : ( to forget about grievances of the past ) : 

Both the brothers let the bygones be bygones and restarted their relationship of love with each other.

Like a fish out of water : ( in a miserable condition ) : 

Since he lost his service he has been feeling like a fish out of water.

Like a duck to water  : ( to feel at home in a job or a  work )  : 

He gladly joined the school to work as a teacher and he feels there like a duck to water.

Let the cat be out of the bag : ( to let a secret become open to others ) :

Our plans remained a close secret throughout the time because none of us let the cat be out of the bag.

Lion's  share:  ( a major portion of ) : 

A lion's share of the property of the deceased father went to his elder son.

Like a wildfire : ( to happen very quickly ) :

The news of suspension of the manager spread like a wildfire in the office.

Lock stock and barrel : ( to do an act wholly or completely ) : 

The family had to leave that house lock stock and barrel after that incident. 

Lip service : ( to make fake promises or show sympathy in words without any practical action ) : 

You cannot depend upon a person like him because he extends to all lip service only .

To look blank :  ( to act without any emotions or feelings ) :

The young boy looked blank when was declared unsuccessful in his examination. 

Lock horns : ( to create a dispute about something) : 

The new  manager and  the boss are locking their horns over their own ways of administration in the office.

Lose no time : ( spend no more time , without any delay ) : 

The young boy standing there lost no time and rushed the patient to a nearby hospital.  

Look before you leap ( to think before doing  an act) : 

 While making such a huge investment you must think before you leap and should not act in haste.

A  mare's nest : ( apparently important but actually insignificant thing,fiasco ) :

He started his expedition tour but eventually it turned out to be a mare's nest.

To make the mare go : ( to make the things possible ) : 

He bribed the official concerned and this made the mare go. 

To make up one's mind : ( to decide  ) : 

After his son's marriage, the merchant made up his mind to give a lion's share of his property to him.

A maiden speech : ( First speech) : 

The captain of our team made a very impressive maiden speech today.

To miss the boat  OR to miss the bus : ( to lose a chance ) : 

You must act with a great care while making a deal of this plot otherwise you may miss the boat.

With might and main : ( with full force) : 

I assure you if you attempt your examination with might and main, there is not the slightest chance to lose.

Meek and mild : ( gentle and quiet ) : 

Rabbit is a meek and mild animal. 

Man of letters : ( a scholar,a learned person) : 

Our school principal is a man of letters.

Man of his word : ( a person who fulfills his promise ) :

You can depend upon him undoubtedly he is a man of his word.

Man of straw : ( not so important, insignificant ) :

I always considered him a very influential person but he turned out to be a man of straw.

Man of parts : ( Learned or able person ) : 

His son is a man of parts. He will definitely go far in his career.  

Mark time : ( to wait for the right opportunity to act ) : 

He is marking time only and he will certainly avenge upon her whenever there is a chance. 

Much ado about nothing : ( to show off  for nothing ) : 

He made much ado about nothing for such a trivial incident happened with him in the school.

Make amends of : ( to make for the loss ) : 

We should give him a chance to make amends of his follies of the past.

Make a clean breast of : ( to accept in clear terms ) :

The manager made a clean breast of his fault before the boss and was thus  saved from any punishment.

Make over : ( to hand over ) : 

Finally the children were safely  made over to their parents.  

Make up with : ( to befriend some one ) : 

His brother is a very noble person. You should try to make up with him.

To make one's mark : ( to do something important ) :

Before long he is sure to make a mark in his career.

Move mountains : ( to make all efforts ) : 

He moved mountains to achieve the first position in the examination.

Nook  and corner : (  all the places ) : 

She searched her necklace in every nook and corner of the house but could not find it .

Null and Void : ( to be ineffective ) : 

The newly elected house made all the rules framed by the previous house null and void.

Now  and then : (  sometimes, off and on ) :

He goes  to see his parents in the village off and on.

Nip in the bud : ( to finish in the beginning ) : 

It is always wise to nip the evil in the bud.

A narrow escape : ( to be saved from a danger ) :

His car met with an accident on the road and all the occupants of the car had a narrow escape.

Near and dear : ( Relatives and friends ) : 

He invited all his near and dear to attend his party.

No love lost : ( not good relations, enmity )  :

The two brothers are at daggers' drawn with each other and there is no love lost between them.

Nuptial Knot : ( marriage tie , to marry ) :

Last Sunday his son and his friend's daughter were tied in nuptial tie. 

Open secret : ( a secret known to all ) : 

His failure in the examination is an open secret now.

Out and out : ( completely ) :

He is out and out a  gentle man.

Over and over again : ( repeatedly ) : 

He requested the shopkeeper over and over again to change the suit but he turned down his request.

Off and  on : (  sometimes, occasionally ) : 

He used to come to our place off and on. 

Once for all : ( For ever, for good ) : 

He left India for China once for all.

Of one accord : ( to agree jointly ) :

The jury was of one accord on award of punishment to the accused.

Of one's accord : ( willingly ) : 

His son left the house of his own accord.

Of the first water : ( of a high degree, in absolute terms ) :

He is a fool of the first water. Do not trust on him.

On the spur of the moment : ( Immediately at that moment ) : 

The captain of the winning team made an impressive speech on the spur of the moment.

His father called for a doctor for him on the spur of the moment.

On the verge of : ( near to , approximately, almost ) : 

The poor family is on the verge of starvation.
This bridge appears to be on the verge of breaking. It can give way at any moment.

On rocks : ( in a difficult situation ) : 

Unless he abandons his bad habits of drinking and gambling he soon will be on rocks.

On one's last legs : ( at a final stage ) :  

Illiteracy in the state is on its last legs.

On the silver platter : ( easily available ) : 

By using modern technology one gets all types of information on the silver platter but how far it is correct is not certain.

On ice : ( anything kept pending for the time being ) :

For want of funds he has kept all his  projects on ice.

On tenterhooks : ( to be impatient and wait excitingly ) : 

All the students were on tenterhooks until their result was declared. 

On the cards : ( expected to happen soon ) : 

A cabinet reshuffle is on the cards and it is likely to be announced at any moment.

On the fly  : ( to act without giving any thought or any preparation) : 

The boss is not in the habit of taking decisions on the fly. He will take his own time to decide in the matter.

On the map :( to become very popular due to some reason) :

The fact that the topper of the IAS examination belongs to our village has brought our  tiny village on the map.

On the sly : ( to act in a secret way ) : 

The manager  hobnobbed with the clerk on  the sly and leaked out  information to the party.

On the trot : (continuously at a  stretch  ) : 

He absented himself from the office for three days on the trot.

On one's last legs : ( at last stage ) :  

I fear that the patient is on his last legs now.

Out of sorts : ( feeling unwell or distressed ) :

 I am feeling myself out of sorts and shall not be able to attend the office today.

Out of the blue: ( all of a sudden, unexpectedly ) : 

His suspension from the service came to him out of the blue.

Your views/suggestions about the post (or correction of error if any ) are solicited. Do post/e-mail


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