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A bird of a different feather

People who are different or unusual would never object to being called a bird of a different feather for this particular 'bird' is a person who is independent and free-thinking. "Kate refuses to wear the same fashions everyone else wears. She's a bird of different feather who designs and makes her own clothes."



A blind alley

An alley is a narrow street between buildings. One that is "blind" has no exit. It is enclosed on three sides. Idiomatically, however, a blind alley refers to asituation or physical activity that leads nowhere. "I've got to change jobs. The one I have is truly a blind alley," Ezra complained.


Bore the pants off someone

"If I have to listen to any more of these dull speeches I'm going to go crazy," Irwin yawned. "They're awful, aren't they ?" Cedric yawned too. "They bore the pants off me." The colloquialism Cedric is using -- and it's perfectly acceptable to use it in mixed company -- means to be extremely bored.


A bosom friend

You've seen Chadwick and Timothy disagreeing or playing tricks on each other often on these pages. If you want to know the truth, they are really bosom friends. As used here, bosom means a close relationship, and a bosom friend / pal / buddy is a very dear friend.


Brain drain

A / the brain drain is defined as movement of "brains ( eg., teachers, scientists and other skilled people ) out of one country to another where conditions and salaries are better. "If we hope to prevent a brain drain we're going to have to make nursing a more rewarding profession," a health officer declared.


A bundle of laughs

"Lester's latest book is terribly funny," Winnie smiled. "It 's a bundle of laughs. I guess that's because Lester is such a bundle of laughs," she continued. "He has everyone laughing at parties. I wonder where he gets all his jokes ?" What Winnie is saying is that Lester and his book are very, very amusing.


A clean bill of health

Long ago ships leaving a port had to have a certificate ( called a bill of health ) stating that they were free of infectious disease. Today a clean bill of health is a way of saying a person or thing is healthy or satisfactory. "The doctor gave Mr. Lee a clean bill of health and is sending him home today," Nurse Rose smiled.


Clear one's name

"You will remain after school and clear my name by writing the following statement 100 times: 'I am sorry I said naughty and untrue things about my teacher'," Professor Oxford frowned. To clean one's name is to prove someone is innocent of a crime or misdeed of which he's been accused.


Cock and bull story

"Long ago and far away there was a wonderful kingdom in which nobody worked and everybody was rich and happy,' the bull said. Ha, the cock laughed. "If you believe that you'll believe any old cock and bull story." A cock and bulls story is one that is too absurd or silly to be true.



Come hell or high water

Parker has been so busy he hasn't had time to attend to his jobs around the house. "This Sunday I'm going to mow the lawn come hell or high water," he said. Parker is saying that no matter what happens, absolutely nothing is going to prevent him from carrying out his plan.


Come into money

Daydreamers spend their time thinking about coming into money, and gamblers visit racetracks hoping to come into money. Tocome into money is to receive a large sum of money suddenly. Sometimes it is inherited, sometimes it is won -- though a successful artist, writer or musician coming into money might say it's the result of many years of hard work.


Corridors of power

Something is happening in thecorridors of power. How do I know ? Because in the corridors of power something is always happening. This term refers to the high ( administrative ) levels of government or an organization where important decisions are made. "Things are rather quiet in the corridors of power during he holiday season, though, " Rodney whispered.


Day of reckoning

This is a time when (1) someone will be made to account for his misdeeds; or (2) a time when his will or judgment will be severely tested. (1) "Many children think Christmas is a day of reckoning when Santa evaluates their behavior and rewards them accordingly." (2) "It's examination time again," Aaron sighed. "The day of reckoning is approaching !"


Devil finds work for idle hands

When Maurice was young his parents warned him that the devil finds work for idle hands. They were telling him that unless he kept busy doing useful or constructive things he could be tempted into mischief or evil. "Sorry, but I don't think the saying the devil finds work for idle hands means I should waste my time sweeping floors," Maurice said to a stranger.


Dressed like a peacock

A peacock is actually the male of the species. A female is a peahen. In the world of idioms, however, a person of either sex who is dressed handsomely and colorfully can be said to be dressed like a peacock. "Nelly is dressed like a peacock tonight. She's been invited to have dinner with her boss.


An eagle eye

"Since I appointed a new department head, business has certainly improved," the boss smiled. "The new fellow keeps an eagle eye on all aspects of our operations. He watches the staff with an eagle eye, too." Someone with an eagle eye watches things closely and carefully. Nothing escapes his attention.


Easy as ABC

It may not be easy for everyone to learn the alphabet but this idiom says it is. when something is (as) easy/simple as ABC it's very easy. "That was an easy examination. It was simple as ABC." "Who said sign painting was difficult ?" Rubin smiled. "I found it as easy as ABC."


Eat one's heart out

"Life can be terrible at times," Mike sighed, "and this is one of those times. I'm in love with Mandy and Mandy doesn't care for me. Oh, Mandy, you have me eating my heart out !" Poor Mike. If he doesn't look underfed it's because to eat one's heart out is to feel miserable wishing for something -- or someone -- one can't have.


Eat someone out of house and home

It's usually a hungry guest that leads us to make this statement, though a father might use it humorously to complain about the eating habits of his teenagers. It means someone is so expensive to feed that he can't be afforded. "You kids are eating me out of house and home !" Agatha cried.


Elbow room

"Don't worry about me," Harold said as he got into the lift. "There's plenty of elbow room for all of us." Six foot three inches tall, Harold can say that -- but the other passengers might not agree for elbow room refers to having adequate space to work or move around.


Fairy tale

In one sense, a fairy story or fairy tale is a children's story about goblins, spirits, and other imaginary things. "Sybil is telling a fairy story to her little friends." In another sense, it's an inaccurate -- even false -- account of something. "Martin said he's going to be promoted soon. I suspect he's telling another of his fairy tales."


Look / feel small

"Golly, when I think of the wonderful works of the world's great artists I look small," Robert sighed. "And it sure doesn't make me feel any better when people criticize my painting. Their criticism makes me feel small." To look or feel small is to seem or feel insignificant, foolish, or humiliated.


Fickle finger of fate

Fate is said to be an unseen power that directs our lives. Fickle ( it rhymes with pickle ) means changeable. Because fate often seems to point us in various directions as it pleases, we speak of it as the fickle finger of fate. "Once I was rich, now I'm not," Buddy said. "The fickle finger of fate works in strange ways."


Fight fire with fire

"Business is terrible and it's your fault !" Wigby cried as he stormed out of his office. Knowing his boss would soon calm down, Gustav decided not to fight fire with fire by arguing back. To fight fire with fire is to defend oneself with defiance or force when threatened or attacked.


Fill the bill

If something fills the bill it is just what one wants. It is exactly what is required or needed. "Isn't it wonderful to have such mild weather ? It certainly fills the bill for our picnic, doesn't it ?" "I was really hungry so this little snack sure fills the bill," Albo said.


Fresh as paint

Kitty and Clive have been married for years, but to look at them you'd think their love was fresh as paint. Things described as being fresh as paint look fresh and new. A person fresh as paint is full of vitality. "My old suit came back from the cleaners fresh as paint," Clive said.



Jim and Violet's neighbors were having a party. Jim and Violet weren't invited but they decided to attend anyway. "We'll gate-crash the party," Jim said. "How exciting. That will make us gate-crashers," Violet laughed. To gate-crash is to attend a social event without an invitation, and a gate-crasher is an uninvited guest.


Generous to a fault

"Now just a moment, dear !" Snod sighed. "I married you because you were generous and kind. But really, you're generous to a fault !" Snod is saying his wife is overly generous. In fact, if she has a fault it is that she's too generous. That's what generous to a fault means.


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