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In for a penny, in for a pound
The pound here is the British pound sterling. A penny is 1/100 part of one. This old saying tells us that if we decide to do something, we should commit ourselves to it boldly and completely. "I'm going to devote myself to earning as much as possible this summer," Carl said. "After all, in for a penny, in for a pound."
Desmond is very ticklish. He laughs whenever he's touched. That, I suppose, explains why he's presently in stitches. When a person is in stitches he laughs and laughs. "Oh, Doctor Wong, you've got me in stitches," Desmond laughed. "You'll have the entire hospital in stitches if you don't be quiet," Doctor Wong replied.
It's later than you think
David rarely looks at the clock. That probably explains why he spends all his time working. But beware, David, it may be later than you think ! That is , time moves by quickly so if you have something to do or you want to enjoy yourself you should seize the opportunity. You may have less time than you realize !
I'll introduce you to the man in charge of the building project if we can agree on a kick back," Ambrose said. What he means is that he expects to receive a fee or a commission for his service. "If the meeting leads to a contract I'll give you a 15% kick back," Ambrose's friend agreed.
Knit one's brows
As you might have noticed, Mr. Singh is in deep thought. You can tell because he is knitting his brows. Brows are one's forehead or eyebrows, and to knit one's brows is to wrinkle them while thinking. "I'm knitting my brows trying to solve a problem," Mr. Singh said.
Know the ropes
A good sailor knows all about ropes and how to tie them into knots. From that we have this idiom, and it means to know all there is about a job, a hobby, a business or a method. "You'll never get to know the ropes if you continue to daydream," Lynx said.
When Hubert got off the train at Microville all the hotels were full. As a last resort he stayed in an old inn on the edge of town. "It was my last resort," Hubert sighed.( As a ) last resort is a course of action taken when all other methods or attempts have failed.
Laugh one's head off
"I was chatting with Felicity Frump at a party the other day," Michael grinned. When she began telling jokes, I laughed so hard I laughed my head off." What Michael is saying is that Felicity's jokes were so funny they made him laugh and laugh. In fact, he laughed so much he couldn't stop.
Laugh up one's sleeve
From the fact that people sometimes hid their laughs behind their hands, we have this idiom. It means to be secretly amused -- and usually because a person is quietly laughing at someone for failing or for being wrong. "I could sense that Jerome was laughing up his sleeve at me when I didn't pass my history quiz," Ron said.
Lay the blame at someone's door
To lay the blame ( or fault ) at someone's door is to state that a person, group, company or organization is responsible for the fault or failure of something. "The coach laid the blame at the door of the players after our football team lost the championship match."
Left at the altar
Altars are found in churches. People getting married stand before them and say "I do." If one of the parties fails to appear, the other is left at the altar. That has come to mean someone is rejected or his hopes are not fulfilled. "I wasn't promoted. I was left at the altar again," Rooney frowned.
To let fly can mean (1) to throw something forcefully; or (2) to shout angrily at someone. (1)"Paul leaned back and, aiming a stone at a log in the water, let fly with it. He missed." (2)"Irine was so furious that Ivan had let his pet bird free that he let fly at him and didn't talk to him for a week."
Like a pig in clover
Food is food to a pig. Therefore, sweet tasty clover wouldn't be considered special and worth saving. A pig would waste it, and that's why a person who wastes riches is like a pig in clover. "Tommy has a fine job with a big salary but he's like a pig in clover the way he spends his money foolishly," Derek exclaimed.
Live out of a suitcase
People who do a lot of traveling and stay in various places away from home often say they live out of a suitcase. Mr. Howe, for example, is tired of traveling. When I accepted this job I had no idea I'd have to live out of a suitcase six or seven months of the year," he complained.
Danny thought it would be great to wear a soldier's uniform. Hurrying to the nearest enlistment office, he asked if he measured up. "I'm sorry to say, young man, that you don't measure up," an officer said. To measure up means to meet a required standard or have the necessary qualifications for something.
Mend a broken heart
When Nora's boyfriend moved away she was left with a broken heart. That is, she felt sad and unhappy. Eventually she met someone who helped mend her broken heart. To mend a broken heart is to make an unhappy person feel better. "I'm so glad we met. You've mended my broken heart." Nora smiled.
No oil painting
People who believe that oil paintings are only of pretty things should have no difficulty thinking that unattractive people or ugly things are no oil painting. "Martha's a wonderful person, but you must admit she's no oil painting to look at." "This is an interesting town, but it's certainly no oil painting, is it ?" Nellie said.
Old as the hills
This expression -- which means that something is very old or ancient -- can be used when referring to just about anything or anybody. "I need a new hat. This one is as old as the hills." "Grandpa's old as the hills but he stays in shape by jogging two or three miles every day."
An old hand
We need someone for the information desk so I think I'll give the job to Ralph. He's an old hand here," Mr. Drudge said. That's how Ralph got his promotion at the museum, for an old handis a person very experienced at doing something. "I'm becoming an old hand at answering questions," Ralph yawned.
On a fool's errand
To go on a fool's errand is to go on a useless or unnecessary trip. Sidney, for example, has been told to deliver a package to someone living in the middle of the desert. "There's no one here," Sidney frowned. "I think I've been sent on a fool's errand." I suspect Sidney is right.
On the run
The last time I saw Fred he was in jail. He must have escaped for I see he's on the run again. A person on the run is hiding from the police. Looking at the man at his side, Fred said : "This is rather fun. Are you on the run too ?"
On the warpath
Mr. Wilson's employees are very, very upset. "The workers are on the warpath," the supervisor said. "They are demanding shorter hours and more pay!" The expression the supervisor is using was given to us by the American Indians. To them it meant going to war. To us it means to be in a threatening or angry mood.
One's face fell
For a dozen or more years Webster has worked for the ABC Company. Yesterday he was called into the boss's office and told he would be replaced by a computer. Webster's face fell. When someone's face falls he looks terribly disappointed. If I were Webster, I'm sure my face would fall too.
Paint the town red
Perhaps someday we will know why, when people go out to have a happy time spending a lot of money, they paint the town red. Until then, all we know about this idiom is that it has been around since the 1800s. "I got my promotion ! Let's go out and paint the town red !"
A pat on the back
To give someone a pat on the back is to praise him for doing well. "In his speech, Mr. Black gave his employees a pt on the back for being so loyal to the company." "After losing the competition. Gary gave his opponent a sportsmanlike pat on the back.
Pay one's respects
When Peggy was told that Grandmother would be coming to pay her respects, she immediately imagined that she would be coming to distribute money. Happily Grandmother did give her a coin when she arrived, but this expression actually means "to honor someone with a visit." "I've come to pay my respects to all of you," Grandmother smiled.
A penny for your thoughts
A penny is a coin of little value. About the time of Shakespeare ( 1600 ) people began using this expression to ask a person what he was thinking. The complete expression is often shortened to a penny ? or a penny for them ? "You're awfully quiet today. A penny for your thoughts ?"
Penny wise, dollar foolish
In the money sense, this describes someone who is cautious about spending small amounts of money but is reckless when spending large amounts. In a non-money sense, this describes someone who is careful in small matters but incautious when tending to larger matters. "Paul is penny wise and dollar foolish in both senses of this expression !"
Play a waiting game
In a situation or an activity in which a person plays a waiting game, he withholds action -- or actions -- until his chances for success improve or seem certain. "Tony would like to be team captain. Meanwhile, he's playing a waiting game hoping the coach will recognize his great talent."
The possum ( or oppossum ) is a small animal that pretends to be dead when it is threatened. People play possum when they hide from unpleasant things or avoid responsibilities by pretending they know nothing about them, " We can't play possum and hope our problems will disappear," the sales manager warned.
Play up can mean (1) something that causes trouble or annoyance, or (2) to give special attention to something. "I'm worried that all this exercise will cause my sore leg to play up." ( Cause annoyance ) "The newspapers played up the story about a little boy being carried away by a kite." ( Gave it special attention )
A pretty penny
This is one of the prettiest idioms in the English language. Some people might even think it's beautiful. Why ? Because a pretty pennymeans lots and lots of money !" Max has a new car. He must be earning a pretty penny." "I'm saving my money. It's going to cost me a pretty penny to fly to Europe this summer," Jenny said.
A price on someone's head
When a person has a price on his head it's because he is wanted by someone -- and the reason he's wanted is because he is considered a criminal. In this expression, "price" means a reward. "The police are looking for a guy with a patch over one eye. They've placed a large price on his head.
Promise the moon
Here's a riddle : what does a politician campaigning for office have in common with a young man in love ? Answer : they are both likely to promise the moon. That is, they make generous promises that aren't likely to be fulfilled. "Don't promise the moon, Henry. Just tell me you'll love me forever," Cathy sighed.
Put someone on a pedestal
People we respect or think of as heroes often end up as statues in parks and museums. The base of a statue is called a pedestal. Metaphorically, to admire a person to an extreme degree is to put him on a pedestal. "I think Alvin and Susan have put their teacher on a pedestal."
Read oneself to sleep
Mrs. Maple is reading herself to sleep. She's doing what many people do to relax their minds and put themselves in a calm state before turning out the lights and going to sleep. "I'm reading my autobiography," Mrs. Maple yawned. "I find it's an ideal book to read oneself to sleep."
Officer Snupp has been a policeman for many years and in that time he has met a lot of dishonest citizens. That's the reason he ahs such an extensive rogue's gallery in his office. A rogue is a wicked person and a rogue's gallery is a police file of photographs of dangerous or undesirable people.
Sing for one's supper
In this expression, "supper" can mean money, food, or a home to live in. "Sing" means about the same as "to work". Therefore, the expression says that one must work to have what one desires. "Long ago I learned that I would have to sing for my supper if I wanted to succeed," Benny said.
A skeleton in the closet
A closely kept secret that, if revealed, would be a source of shame to a person, a family, a group -- or even to a country or government. Except for Emma, no one knows that her husband had once been in prison. The secret remains a skeleton in the closet and Emma, of course never talks about it.
Speak with a forked tongue
Things that are forked are divided into two or more branches. A person speaking with a forked tongue, however, is saying one thing while thinking something else. In other words, he is lying. "Long ago I learned not to believe any of Rod's promises. He speaks with a forked tongue."
Robert has just sold a very original work of art to Mr. Kane. Mr. Kane is convinced he's made a square deal. Robert is happy because he's sure he has received a square deal for his masterpiece. A square deal is a fair and honest agreement or business transaction.
Some people believe that possessing certain material objects are signs of prestige or success or wealth. Things that fall into this category -- like expensive watches or fancy cars -- are called status symbols. "A new car might be a status symbol to a bank manager, while a pair of designer jeans may be a status symbol to his secretary," Philip explained.
Steal the show
A person stealing the show takes attention away from an important actor ( in a play ) or gets more notice than a prominent personality ( at an event such as a party, meeting, etc ) "Lucy gave a wonderful performance but an unknown comedian stole the show with his funny jokes."
Sweets for the sweet
If we reworded this expression to read, "I am giving something sweet to someone who is very sweet," perhaps you would understand why it is used when giving sweets or candy to a person -- especially to a child or a young girl -- considered sweet and wonderful. "The rest of this is for you, Jessie. Sweets for the sweet," Jerard said.
To take pains is to give careful attention -- or make a special effort -- to do something thoroughly and correctly. At his circus performances, for instance, Ranjit takes pains to see that his act is genuine and worth watching. "I also take pains to see that I don't injure myself," Ranjit muttered.
Talk a mile a minute
Sybil is a continuous talker. When Winston bought a new motorbike he thought he might be able to silence her. But no. Fast a she goes, she stilltalks a mile a minute. To talk a mile a minute is to talk on and on rapidly.
Crack of dawn
"I know Sean likes to get up early but this is ridiculous !" he cat cried. "Look, he's getting up at the crack of dawn !" What the cat is complaining about is that Sean is getting up just as the sky is showing the first light of day that is called the crack of dawn.
The old guard
The people who have been associated with a group for a long time and support its ideals and policies are referred to as the old guard. Usually they are old, powerful, and their ideas may be out of date. "There won't be any changes in company policy as long as the old guard still works here." Frank complained.
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