Take some Time to Learn a Few Great Idioms

At the exact moment when I was planning an idioms article for my Newsletter, a reader emailed me to ask for: …. idioms.

He (or she, I’m not quite sure) had a specific list. His list was pretty good, so we’re using his list. No need to add anything!

Part and parcel

Means that it is an inseparable part of something = it cannot be separated from it.


Calculating numbers is part and parcel of an accountant’s job.

Many people think that loneliness is part and parcel of life in a big city.

Getting mud in your hair and on your clothes is part and parcel of cross country biking.

Through thick and thin

Whatever happens, in good times and in bad times.


We’ll stay friends through thick and thin.

She’s a real friend who’s been with me through thick and thin.

I’m old and my dog is old but we’ll stick together through thick and thin.

At sixes and sevens

In a state of confusion


Mrs Jones is at sixes and sevens since her husband killed himself.

Some party members say abortion is murder, others say women have a right to decide about their own bodies. They’re debating the issue hotly. In short, they’re at sixes and sevens about the issue.

The cabinet has to make a difficult decision. They’ve been having a meeting that went on through the night. As far as we can tell, they’re still at sixes and sevens about it.

A bed of roses 

A great situation


The immigrant life is no bed of roses.

Renting a boat and sailing to the Greek islands: seems like a bed of roses.

Finally to live on your own, without your parents telling you what to do all the time. Sound like a bed of roses?

At the eleventh hour

Last minute


I bought a ticket to London at the eleventh hour and it came out really cheap!

Stu can’t make up his mind and he always makes his decisions at the eleventh hour.

At the eleventh hour, the dictator decided to destroy his weapons of mass destruction to avoid air strikes.

Scot free 

free of hurt or blame


The lovely old couple were hijacked by Somali pirates but they escaped scot free.

Somaso is a war photographer so he never expected to come scot free.

How can Daisy expect the judge to let her off scot free when she was drunk at the time of the accident?

Hue and cry

(Public) protest or alarm


There is always a great hue and cry when the government wants to raise taxes.

Instead of raising a hue and cry over low wages, there have been a few actions which have settled the disputes calmly.

The children raised a hue and cry when we told them they can watch only one hour of television each day.

Gift of the gab

Be an easy talker


Tirza makes her round at parties because she has the gift of the gab.

Chris is usually quiet, but after two rounds of vodka he develops the gift of the gab.

That salesman was able to sell me rubbish solely due to his gift of the gab.

Past master

Talented or very experienced in some skill


Even the computer can’t beat him: he’s a past master at chess.

We have one colleague who doesn’t do much but she’s able to get away with it, because she’s a past master at deceit.

The composer Bach was a past master at reusing themes and melodies from older works and fusing them into new ones.




Blair is still dealing with the emotional fallout from his parent’s divorce.

What will be the psychological fallout of being the smallest kid in the class?

Obviously, you can expect a lot of fallout when two people have been fighting for years.

To harp on the same string

Talk about the same subject all the time


I got tired of hearing her harp on the same string.

His parents harped on the same string all the time about the dangers of smoking.

I don’t understand why Professor Hendrix is so popular: his lectures harp on the same string.

To blow hot and cold (in the same breath)

To be uncertain


I asked him whether he wanted to see a play, but he blew hot and cold so I think I’ll just go alone.

Their relationship has reached a dead end because she blows hot and cold all the time.

Stop blowing hot and cold and finally make up your mind!

past master

Past Master


Choose the correct idiom from the ones that are explained in the article.

You can do this exercise online and check your answers here.

1 ________________, the negotiators reached a deal, when nobody had thought it possible.

2 The accident claimed the lives of the two drivers but the child in the back seat went _________________.

3 Online dating seems normal now. In fact, seeing my friends swipe pictures of men on their phone is ____________________ in my circle.

4 Anja is trying to deal with the _____________ from the unexpected death of first her husband and then her mother.

5 We have two managers now in our department who both say different things. This causes us to be ______________ about what has to be done.

6 Even though our lives are so different now, we’ll stick together _______________.

7 Elaine was able to talk me into going on a trip with her because she is blessed with a __________________.

8 I don’t know if we can sell our new product to the company: they keep ____________________.

9 There was a ______________ when the government planned to build a new highway next to the neighbourhood.

10 Their children always look nicely dressed: that’s because their mother is a _______________ at finding cheap clothes on the internet.

11 Sitting on the beach, enjoying a good book: life is a ___________________.

12 I’m tired of listening to those politicians ________________ about the dangers of an Iran with nuclear weapons.

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