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Make an exhibition of oneself

Robert's paintings are being exhibited at a famous art gallery. "I think I'll make an exhibition of myself, too." Robert said. What Robert doesn't seem to understand is that when people make exhibitions of themselves they behave foolishly in public. "Robert, you're being silly !" his wife cried. "Stop making such an exhibition yourself !"



Make oneself scarce

When something is scarce, it is hard to find; there's not much of it around. When mother wants them to do some chores, there's not much of Clara and Albert around either. They make themselves scarce. that is, they hide or disappear. "Oh ! Here comes mother. Let's make ourselves scarce," Albert whispered.


Make someone's head spin

When we feel dizzy, we say our heads spin. Metaphorically, when people say something makes their heads spin, it's because they're bewildered or confused. "It makes my head spin to think of the amount of work I have to do." "Charlton is so full of energy it makes my head spin just watching him play."



A man-about-town

We see here two very dignified men-about-town. They are, of course, Joe and his nephew Anderson who know that a man-about-town is one who is sophisticated, worldly and socially active. "Uncle Joe is taking me to the theater with him," Anderson laughed. "I'm all dressed up like a man-about-town tonight."



A marked man

Matthew is in the process of learning that a marked man is one whose conduct has made him the object of suspicion. In extreme cases, it could mean a man whose life is in danger. "You've been caught doing naughty things, Matthew," the guard said. "From now on, you're a marked man and I'll be watching."



Marry money

Thanks to Henry, Sylvia will never again have to wonder how to pay her bills. Henry, you see, is a very rich man so she is about to marry money. This does not mean Sylvia doesn't love Henry; it simply means she is marrying someone who is very, very wealthy.



A mine of information

While searching for material to write a report Maya discovered a book that proved to be a mine of information. Anything -- a book, a person -- that is a valuable source of information is a mine of information. A dictionary can be a mine of information. "My boss is a mine of information too," Maya said.



A mixed bag

You'll find a strange collection in a mixed bag. It could be a varied group of people, ideas, objects ... just about anything. "That was a mixed bag of people at the conference." "This report is a mixed bag of opinions." "I didn't go to the market so we're having a mixed bag for supper tonight," Mother said.



A money-spinner

Grandmother's hobby was knitting woolen scarfs, socks, sweaters and thins like that. People admired her work so much that she turned her hobby into a money-spinner and began selling her goods. A money-spinner is anything that earns money. "Grandmother's hobby became such a successful moneyspinner, I was able to retire," Grandfather smiled.



No spring chicken

Idiomatically, a spring chicken is a young and inexperienced person -- male or female. It's more common, though, to refer to a woman who is no longer young as no spring chicken. "What ? Me wear a bikini to the beach ? You must be joking. I'm no spring chicken, you know," Mary laughed.



Not one's piece of cake

If something is not one's piece of cake, it is something a person doesn't appreciate or is not particularly fond of doing. "I'm afraid Italian food isn't my piece of cake. I don't like it," Gerald said. "I'm not interested in selling so being a saleslady is not my piece of cake," Amelia said.



On a shoestring

A shoestring is a shoelace. Because they are so common and, in particular, so cheap, a shoestring means a small amount of money. From that, to do something on a shoestring is to do it without spending much money. "We've been living on a shoestring since Tim lost his job," Tina said.



A one-horse town

Long before cars, a one-horse town actually referred to a town so small that it had only one horse. It now refers to a small town in which nothing exciting happens. "I like living in this one-horse town," George said. "Everyone here knows and smiles at his neighbors."



Out of the window

Brown was looking forward to a quiet dinner at home when his boss asked him to work overtime. "Well, there goes my evening at home out of the window," Brown sighed. When something -- an opportunity, a plan, etc. -- goes out of the window, it is gone. "If I didn't obey my boss, I'm sure my job would go out of the window," Brown said.



Packed like sardines

Sardines are fish. The only way most of us ever see them is when we turn a key and find them in tin cans. Fin to fin and back to front, they are pressed in so tightly there's hardly room to turn. "The trains are so full during rush hour that we were packed like sardines."



Part and parcel of something

In this expression the word "parcel" means a portion, share or section of something. When joined with the word "part", the idiom part and parcel of refers to a basic, necessary or natural part of something. "Being considerate and friendly iis part and parcel of my job," Max smiled.



The pecking order

Chickens maintain order and establish rank by pecking each other. People too, group themselves and others into ranks of importance and we call that the pecking order. "Gregory has been with the firm for many years, so he's high up in the pecking order here. I'm new so I'm very low in the pecking order."


A pillar of society

A pillar is an upright structure supporting a building. People described as pillars of society are leading figures contributing to the support and well-being of the society in which they live. "A director of the hospital and supporter of many charities, Mr. Smith is a pillar of society."



Plain sailing

Long ago when it was thought the earth was flat, plane sailing was a method of navigating at sea by treating the earth as if it were a plane. Somehow the expression became plain sailing, and it means to proceed without difficulty. "Te storm's over. It should be plain sailing now, sir."



Play ostrich

It was once thought that when an ostrich was in danger it hid its head in the ground believing that if it couldn't see anyone, no one could see it. That has led to the idea that if people refuse to face painful facts or unpleasant truths, they play ostrich. "Play" here means "to act like."



A potboiler

A book, play or film written for the sole purpose of earning money for the author is called a potboiler. A combination of the words pot + boil + er, a potboiler is an inferior work done by the writer to keep his or her food pot boiling. "Reading a potboiler before bed helps me to sleep," Professor Lee said.



A pretty kettle of fish

This expression refers to a mess, an awkward state of affairs, or a situation that is confused or unpleasant. It's also said as a messy kettle of fish. "Good Heavens, I left home and forgot to put the cat out ! The house will be a pretty kettle of fish by the time I get back !"



Put someone in the picture

Winston thought it would be exciting and romantic to visit the African jungles. he wasn't aware that it could be dangerous, so I put him in the picture by telling him about the wild animals there. When we put someone in the picture we inform him or her of all the facts of a situation.



A road hog

Drivers of automobiles who selfishly take up more space than necessary on roads and refuse to allow other drivers room to pass are road hogs. "Mr. Wilson should never be allowed to drive a car. He's a terrible road hog who seems to think he's driving the only car on the road."



Rub salt into someone's wounds

We all know what it's like to accidentally get salt in a wound. It hurts ! It hurts too, when someone or something deliberately adds to our pain when we feel shame, regret or defeat. "Must you rub salt into my wounds by telling me how much fun I missed by not going to Tracy's party ?" Heather sighed



Ruffle someone's feathers

If a bird's feathers are rubbed the wrong way, they stand up. We say the feathers are ruffled. Idiomatically, to ruffle someone's feathers is to annoy or upset someone. "It ruffles my feathers when people insist that I dress to please them instead of pleasing myself."



Rule of thumb

To do something by rule of thumb is to follow a practical method which has proved successful or useful in the past. "It's a good rule of thumb to look up all unfamiliar words in your dictionaries." "As a rule of thumb I never go out when I have an examination the following day."



Save one's bacon

To save one's bacon is to escape trouble or to save one's life. This idiom is frequently used light-heartedly. "So, you're late for work again," the boss frowned. "What excuse do you have to save your bacon this time ?" ( Escape trouble ) "During the fire I had to jump from the window to save my bacon," Roy said. ( Save one's life )



Save one's skin

Because he's a snake, Simon can afford to lose his skin once a year. We can't, though, for "skin" is a colloquialism for one's life. Therefore, tosave one's skin means to escape danger or save one's life. "When his boat sank, Tom saved his skin by clinging to a life preserver until a passing ship rescued him."


See how the land lies

To sailors, this term means to see where their ship is when it's at sea. To us, it means to look at something carefully to learn everything possible about it before making a decision or taking action. "Jim has gone ahead to see how the land lies before deciding where to set up our camp for the night."



Show someone the door

"Edna is such a terrible secretary I have decided to show her the door," Mr. Wilkin said. Idiomatically, to show someone the door is to tell him or her to leave a place. "I don't know why but the boss got angry and showed me the door today," Edna said as she put away her knitting and went home.



A soap opera

Before television, daily radio serials were aimed at housewives and were sponsored primarily by manufacturers of soap products. That led to them being called soap operas. Today's sentimental, sensational and melodramatic radio and television serial dramas are still called soap operas. "DYNASTY and DALLAS are my favorite television soap operas."


A slippery customer

Does Mr. Jansen look like a slippery customer as he stands in the doorway of his business establishment ? If you knew that "slippery" is a colloquialism meaning cunning and untrustworthy, and "customer" means a person, I think you'd say yes. "Be very careful of Mr. Jansen. He has a reputation of being a slippery customer.



Speak the same language

Timothy the mouse is trying to convince Chad the cat that they speak the same language. This means to have similar tastes, feelings and thoughts, and to have a mutual understanding with someone. "We both like fish so it's obvious that we speak the same language," Timothy smiled. "Let's be friends."



Spread oneself too thin

Mr. Potts is trying to do several things at the same time. He's spreading himself too thin and, as a result, isn't able to devote much time to either of his jobs. He is distributing or scattering his time, energy and skills, and that's what it means when people spread themselves too thin.



Still wet behind the ears

Jeremy would like to do things that adult elephants do. "Attend to your studies and don't be silly," his mother laughed. "You're just a kid who is still wet behind the ears." Jeremy frowned for to be still wet behind the ears is to be young and inexperienced.



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