English (Precis and Composition) English Grammar

English Grammar: Idioms And Phrases (“Set-A”) | for CSS, PMS, PCS, NTS

English Idioms and Phrases with meaning

A Bed of Roses:
(An altogether agreeable position or situation) – A parochial life is not a bed of roses, Mrs. Mann. – Dickens

A bed of thorns: (Full of difficulties and troubles) – Shelley cried that his life was a bed of thorns.

A bird’s eye view: (A general account) – Maria had a bird’s eye view of the grand city from his apartment.

A black sheep: (An ill-conducted person; a member of society who is not considered respectable) I’m forbidden the house. I’m looked upon as a black sheep – a pest, a contamination.

A blank cheque: (Permission to do what one feels necessary with complete freedom) – He’s given me a blank cheque to carry out my plan.

A blue stocking: (A woman who prides herself on her learning) – Lucy Hutchinson was evidently a very superior young lady, and is known as a blue stocking by her colleagues

A bone of contention: (A cause of dispute) – Kashmir is still a bone of contention between India and Pakistan.

A bosom friend: (A very intimate friend) – “So I have heard; but he is not quite bosom friend enough with me to have told me all the particulars.”

A breathing-space: (A short time in which one can have a rest) – I’ve only a breathing-space of ten minutes before my next appointment.

A Bull’s eye: (The inner disk of a target, surrounded by rings of increasing magnitude) – The Republicans had made a bull’s eye, and were jubilant.

A burning question: (A question of interest to, and eagerly discussed by, many people) – The burning question in the office was who was to be the next manager.

A cock and bull story: (An absurd tale) – I did hear some cock and bulls story the other day about the horses not having run away at all.

A cry in the wilderness: (A voice of protest that is heeded by no one) – Our complaints against corrupt officers have been nothing more than a cry in the wilderness.

A Dark Horse: (A competitor about whose chance of winning the world knows nothing) You see I was dipped pretty deep, and duns after me, and the Derby my only chance so I put the pot on (betted heavily on the favourite horse); but a dark horse won.

A dead letter: (Obsolete; Something no longer in force; a rule never attended to) – The rule about ready money was soon a dead letter.

A dog in the manager: (A selfish man, who refuses to allow his neighbour to enjoy even what he himself has no use for) – Haider Ali neither enjoys Park facility unto himself nor allows his cousin, he really a dog in manager.

A far cry: (a long distance) Lahore is far cry from Karachi.

A feather in one’s cape: (an honour) – The new citizen of this book is feather in Publisher’s cap.

A fish out of water: (a person who is placed in a position which is strange and distasteful to him) – Mr. Dance stood there, as he said, “like a fish out of water.”

A fool’s paradise: (Dream world) – For long I lived in a fool’s paradise, and then the hard realities of life made me return to earth to face facts.

A jail bird: (One who is jailed again and again) – Saud is a jailbird; he has been in and out of jail over six times.

A laughing stock: (An object of fun and ridicule) – Rabia was a laughing stock in her class.

A man of letters: (A scholar) – Our university has produced many great men of letters.

A man of straw: (A creature evolved from the fancy, and wholly unlike the real person; an unreal person; a dummy) – The man of straw who offers ball is furnished the money by those who stimulated the outrage.

A narrow escape or shave: (A hair-breadth escape; escape by a very narrow margin) – It was a narrow escape; the bomb exploded only seconds after I had taken cover.

A rainy day: (Time of trouble and difficulty) – Thou’lt give away all the earnings, and never be uneasy because thou hast nothing against a rainy day.

A red letter day: (An auspicious or happy day) All being holidays, I feel as if I had none, as they do in heaven, where ’tis all red-letter days.

A thorn in the flesh: (A cause of trouble or irritation) – Struggle of independence in Kashmir is throne in India’s flesh.

A wet blanket: (One who discourages others) – My elder brother is a wet blanket; he never permits me to do as I like.

A white lie: (An unacceptable lie) When I said I thought his poems were good, it was a white lie.

A wild goose chase: (A foolish, profitless attempt) – By telling his sons that there was a treasure in their field, the old man put them on a wild goose chase.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing: (A hypocrite) – I strongly feel Professor Faisal is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

A. B. C.: (The A B C of any subject – its rudiments; its elementary knowledge) – Many farmers seem not at all inclined to observe the very A B C of morality as regards the payment of just debts.

Above all: (Most important) – A successful salesman must be friendly, dynamic and above all persuasive.

Aladdin’s Lamp: A lamp which gave its owner, or rather the (person who rubbed it, everything he wished) – Government is striving hard to bring some healthful changes in society. She has no Aladdin’s Lamp for magical change.

All at once: (Suddenly) I was walking through the park at lunchtime, when all at once it started drizzling.

All in all: (supreme; all-powerful; of the first importance) – The then Prime Minister was all in all at Oxford.

Alpha and Omega: (The beginning and the end) – Here we have the beginning and the end, alpha and omega.

Answer back: Retort rudely (usually to a request, instruction or rebuke) – ‘Will you fetch me the telephone directory, please?’ – ‘Fetch it yourself!’ He answered his elder brother back.

Apple of discord: (Something which causes strife) – The letter was her long contemplated apple of discord, and much her hand trembled as she handed the document up to him.

Apple of one’s eye: (A much-prized treasure; something very delicate and tender) – Poor Richard was to me as an eldest son, the apple of my eye.

Arm in arm: (Walking in friendly fashion with the arms linked) – It was an agreeable surprise to her, therefore, to perceive them walking up to the house together arm in arm.

As bold as brass: (impudent; without modesty or shame) Though Asif knows nothing about new policy method but he is as bold as brass.

At a loss: (Unable to understand) – I am at a loss why my brother has not come as yet.

At a stone’s throw: (Quite near) – My house is at a stone’s throw from my college.

At a stretch: (Continuously) – He cannot work for four hours at a stretch.

At arm’s length: (At a distance) – We must keep dishonest people at arm’s length.

At dagger’s drawn: (At enmity) – The two brothers are nowadays at dagger’s drawn with each other.

At home: (familiar; on easy terms) There was administration, and more even than admiration, in his eyes. It was a beautiful expression that I cannot define or put into words………… that made me feel at home with him at once.

At length: He explained the case to me at length.

At sixes and sevens: (In disorder) – When I found everything in my room at sixes and sevens, I was sure my little sister had been there.

At the eleventh hour: (Just in time and no more) – Sir, have you no shame to come here at the eleventh hour among those who have borne the heat and burden of the day?

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About the author

Doctor Madiha Fatima

Doctor Madiha Fatima

Dr Madiha Fatima have completed her BDs from De Montmorency College and Pharm-D from University of Lahore.
There is an amazing power of "getting to know your own learning skills and how to use it", her journey didn't stop here. She attempted Civil Superior Services (CSS) and Provincial Management Service (PMS).
Meanwhile she discovered that she have come too far to quit now, and decided that "this is the moment", she should start guiding the graduate's about CSS/PMS studies. From there her journey started as a teacher/mentor/motivator but not a money maker and Aafreen institute for CSS and PMS came into being.
Now she is a teacher, it's how she define herself. A good teacher isn't someone who gives the answers out to their students but to understand the needs, challenges and gives tools to help them succeed further.

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