Speak like a native
Each phrase has its origins explained, followed by the literal meaning.
Then a sentence or two with everyday examples of usage.

 

Book 5 Phrases

  1. Follow suit
  2. Throw your weight around
  3. Scrimp and scrape
  4. Keep your feet on the ground
  5. Get your fingers burnt
  6. In the driving seat
  7. Take it on the chin

208.Bury the hatchet

  1. Come clean
  2. Dip your toe in the water
  3. A needle in a haystack
  4. Tip of the iceberg
  5. Like a duck to water
  6. Cost an arm and a leg
  7. Get on your high horse
  8. Nip in the bud
  9. Get your teeth into
  10. A bad taste in your mouth
  11. Room for manoeuvre
  12. Fine tuning
  13. Take exception to something
  14. To be kept in the dark
  15. Get along like a house on fire
  16. Put on a brave face225. Get the upper hand
  17. Up to your eyes in something 227. Turn a blind eye
  18. A steep learning curve
  19. Run the gauntlet
  20. Grasp the meaning
  21. Make a killing
  22. Come unstuck
  23. Let your hair down
  24. Something in the offing 235. A clean sweep
  25. Hand over fist
  26. Take the wind out of your sails 238. Water off a duck’s back
  27. In at the deep end
  28. Dribs and drabs
  29. Throw in the towel
  30. Go for broke
  31. Out of the blue
  32. Money where your mouth is 245. Suck it and see
  33. Up at the crack of dawn 247. Iron something out
  34. On the way out
  35. Under the weather250. Cast a shadow

25 more phrasal verbs follow the 50 phrases, all with many example of usage.

 

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Follow suit.

Source:

In a game of cards you have four suits: Hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades.

In some games, one player lays down a card and the following players need to try to lay a card of the same suit.

Meaning:

This refers to when one person follows the actions of another, in a similar way, usually because it is a good idea.

Examples:

“I made a profit by investing in shares, if you follow suit you could make some money too.”

“I like your new clothes, you look smart.”

 

“You should follow suit and smarten yourself up.”

 

Bk 1/9. (Buck the trend. OPP.) Bk 3/146. (Go against the grain. OPP.)

 

No. 202

 

Throw your weight around.

Source:

Not your physical weight but here we are talking about the power of your position.

Meaning:

By throwing your weight around it says that you are using your position in a very authorative way, more than you perhaps should.

Examples:

“The new boss that has taken over isn’t very popular, she throws her weight around and makes people feel uncomfortable.”

“With a big majority the government is starting to throw its weight around by introducing new laws.”

 

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Scrimp and scrape.

Source:

To scrimp is to spend as little money as possible because you don’t have much. To scrape (up some money) is to find some cash from different sources somehow, to pay a particular bill.

Meaning:

When you are very short of money you try to find some any way possible to pay for your shopping or bills.

Examples:

“I lost my job and had to scrimp and scrape to survive until I got a new job.”

“How could you afford your new car?”

 

“We scrimped and scraped until we had saved enough to buy it.”

 

Bk 2/69. (Push the boat out. OPP.) Bk 3/105. (Make ends meet. SYN.)

 

No. 204

 

Keep your feet on the ground.

Source:

When you are excited about something you could be jumping in the air with being so happy.

Meaning:

If you tell someone to keep their feet on the ground you are suggesting they are getting too excited and they need to calm down.

Examples:

“I’m hoping to get a new job next week but I’m keeping my feet on the ground until I get confirmation.”

“I hear you have sold 1,00o books now, soon you will be famous.” “I’m not so sure, I’m keeping my feet firmly on the ground.”

 

Bk 2/75. (A pipe dream. COMP.) Bk 2/82. (Head in the clouds.

COMP.)

 

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Get your fingers burnt.

Source:

If you are handling something hot, you should wear protective gloves or you may burn your fingers.

Meaning:

This refers to any actions you may be looking at which could be risky or dangerous.

Examples:

“I invested in a new company starting up but it failed, I got my fingers burnt there and lost all my money.”

“Did you buy that painting you were telling me about?” “Yes but it turned out to be a fake and I got my fingers burnt.”

 

Bk 3/101. (Come up trumps. OPP.) Bk 6/266. (Play with fire. SYN.)

 

No. 206

 

In the driving seat.

 

Source:

 

In a car there is only one seat for the driver who is in control of the car.

Meaning:

Anyone said to be in the driving seat is in control of whatever they are doing.

Examples:

“At the boy scouts meeting one young lad showed clear leadership skills. The scout leader put him in charge of the day’s events and told him ‘you are in the driving seat, let’s see how you do’.”

Bk 4/182. (Take a back seat. OPP.) Bk 6/251. (Call the shots. SYN.)

 

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Take it on the chin.

Source:

In boxing each opponent tries to punch the other. A punch to the head is more effective.

Meaning:

By saying that someone takes it on the chin, it refers to accepting something unpleasant but unavoidable.

Examples:

“My first version of this book was full of mistakes and a student criticised me heavily, I took it on the chin and went back to the drawing board.”

“The politician was heavily criticised for his racist remarks but he took it on the chin and apologised.”

 

Bk 3/107. (A pinch of salt. OPP.) Bk 5/238. (Water off a duck’s back.

COMP.)

 

No. 208

 

Bury the hatchet.

Source:

In olden days of warring tribes, when two opposing leaders reached agreement, they buried their hatchets (axes) in the ground as a sign of peace.

Meaning:

When you want to end a (long-standing) argument, you can suggest you bury the hatchet.

Examples:

“I was fighting for years over the boundary of my property with my neighbour but when I threatened to go to court he relented and we buried the hatchet.”

BK 2/55. (See eye to eye. SYN.) Bk 5/247. (Iron something out. SYN.)

 

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Come clean.

 

Source:

 

‘Clean’ in this context, means being honest.

Meaning:

To come clean means to be honest about something you have been keeping secret for some time.

Examples:

Manager to a member of staff:

“I think you have been fiddling your expenses, if you come clean I won’t take disciplinary action.”

Teacher to pupils:

“Some students’ homework look very similar, if anyone has been cheating, come clean now and I won’t take it any further.”

Bk 6/292. (Keep under wraps. OPP.)

 

No. 210

 

Dip you toe in the water.

Source:

When you plan to have a bath, first you put a toe in the water to make sure it is not too hot.

Meaning:

Anytime you want to try something new and may need to be careful, it’s like trying the water in a bath.

Examples:

“I had some spare cash and thought about investing in the stock market, firstly I dipped my toe in the water to see if I could make money.”

BK 3/149. (Play by ear. SYN.) Bk 5/239. (In at the deep end. OPP.) Bk 5/245. (Suck it and see. SYN.) Bk 6/260. (In feet first. OPP.) Section one review.

 

Fill each gap with one of the phrases from 201 – 210

The word in brackets is an approximate synonym.

 

Make sure it is in the correct grammatical form.

 

Thinking of holidays if I am to go away for a while this summer I’m going to have to

…………………………………………………………………. (save) and even though I want to travel

extensively I’m …………………………………………………………………………

(realistic) for now.

I made a mistake this week but I ……………………………………….. (honest) and although I upset my boss I took her criticism ………………………………………….

(openly) and we have

………………………………………………………………………………… (make peace) and moved on.

I wanted to ………………………………………………………………………….. (try) and get into the driving seat but

………………………………………………………………………………… .(suffer loss)

Luckily she is not one to

……………………………………………………………………… . (be bossy) Others should ………………………………………………….. (copy) and end arguments quickly.

 

A needle in a haystack.

Source:

A needle is small and if lost, difficult to find. A haystack, in

comparison, is much bigger.

Meaning:

Dropping a needle into a haystack would be virtually impossible to find, metaphorically it refers to anything lost and difficult to find.

Examples:

“I wanted to buy a copy of an old book I read in my school days, but after searching many book shops and scouring the internet I realised it was like looking for a needle in a haystack.”

BK 6/297. (As clear as a bell. OPP.)

 

No. 212

 

The tip of the iceberg.

 

Source:

 

An iceberg is generally huge but only about 1% is seen above the water.

Meaning:

When you see a problem and suspect there may be many more problems following, it’s like looking at the tip of an iceberg knowing that much bigger dangers lie out of sight below the water.

Examples:

“The riots on the streets of London last year were just the tip of the iceberg, the underlying problem is massive social inequality.”

“The economic troubles in Europe are just the tip of the iceberg, more serious problems are looming.”

 

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Like a duck takes to water.

Source:

Ducks love swimming on water, whether it’s a river or a lake, it comes very natural to them.

Meaning:

When you start a new job or hobby, and you begin well with no problems, it’s like a duck walking into water for the first time, i.e. things such as this coming very natural to you.

Examples:

“I started writing a couple of years ago with no prior experience, I found it easy and enjoyable and I settled into my new career like a duck takes to water.”

“My daughter started cycling at the age of 4 and took to it like a duck to water.”

 

Bk 2/94. (Fall on your feet. SYN.) Bk 3/114. (Hit the ground running. SYN.)

 

No. 214

 

Cost an arm and a leg.

Source:

You would never sell any part of your body presumably, the cost to you would be too high.

Meaning:

 

This phrase describes anything that is ridiculously expensive.

Examples:

“To go to university in England these days costs an arm and a leg and most students need to borrow heavily and get into debt.”

“There’s a nice new restaurant that’s just opened in the city but a meal there costs an arm and a leg.”

Bk 2/52. (Break the bank. SYN.)

 

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Get on your high horse.

Source:

In the days when wars were fought with men using horses, the generals and leaders would always have the biggest horses.

Meaning:

If a person gets bossy and starts to give orders to others, perhaps without good reason or in return for a slight error, the analogy is that they are getting on a high horse to show off their powerful position.

Examples:

“I forgot to get the shopping after going to the pub with a friend. When I got home the wife had a right moan at me, I told her I was sorry and to get off her high horse.”

Bk 3/107. (Take with a pinch of salt. OPP.) Bk 3/131. (The end of your tether. COMP.) Bk 5/238. (Water off a duck’s back. COMP.)

 

No. 216

 

Nip something in the bud.

Source:

A bud is a small growth on a plant which develops into a flower. To nip something is to cut it off.

Meaning:

You can cut off small buds to allow one to grow big and produce the best flower. By cutting off (nipping) the smaller buds, you stop them from growing and interfering with the best bud.

Examples:

“I usually go to the gym twice a week to keep fit, but I’ve missed three weeks now. I had better nip this in the bud before I start getting fat and lazy.”

“I started losing money in a casino but I cashed in my remaining chips to nip the losses in the bud.”

 

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Get your teeth into something.

Source:

When you have something nice to eat, such as a juicy steak, you chew on it to get the most flavour out of it.

Meaning:

Anything you like doing and really enjoy, the analogy is like chewing on a good steak to enjoy it more.

Examples:

“I’ve nearly finished my latest book and I’m getting my teeth into finishing it by the end of the year.”

“My students told me their homework was too hard. I told them to get their teeth stuck into it and concentrate.”

 

Bk 2/83. (Get the bit between your teeth. SYN.)

Bk 6/262. (Err on the side of caution. OPP.)

 

No. 218

 

A bad taste in your mouth.

Source:

Something to eat that has perhaps gone bad, and you eat it, you will have a bad taste in your mouth afterwards.

Meaning:

This refers to anything that happens which afterwards leaves you sad or unhappy that it has happened.

Examples:

“I took my car in for a service to my usual garage, the workers of which I regarded as friends. After the service the car did not work properly. I took the car back to the garage but after they fixed it they asked for more money. I paid reluctantly and the affair left a bad taste in my mouth. I won’t use that garage again.”

Bk 6/260. (Cast a shadow. SYN.)

 

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Room for manoeuvre.

 

Source:

 

To manoeuvre is to move things about to make more space available.

Meaning:

Having room for manoeuvre is to be flexible and allow yourself space to accommodate changes in your schedule.

Examples:

“My diary is almost full at the moment but I always keep a few hours free so that I have room for manoeuvre should any students wish you change their class times.”

Bk 6/288. (Hands tied. OPP.)

 

No. 220

 

Fine tuning.

Source:

To tune, for example a radio, is to set the radio to the station you wish to listen to. With an engine, tuning means to make adjustments to get the engine working perfectly.

Meaning:

Fine tuning anything refers to making small changes to what you are working on to make it as near perfect as possible.

Examples:

“The latest of these phrase books is almost ready, just a bit of fine tuning and it’s ready.”

“The engine on your car sounds as though it needs a bit of fine tuning.” . Section two review.

Fill each gap with one of the phrases from 211 – 220

 

Make sure it is in the correct grammatical form.

 

Nearly all done now, just some ………………………………………………

(adjust) and the next

book is ready. Any errors have been

…………………………………………………. (stop quickly) and I have some ………………………………………………………………….. .

(space) These books

I think are cheap, they are not going to

……………………………………………………………….. .

When I started all these phrases I realised I had taken to them

……………………………….. …………………………………………………………………………………………………….

, (easily)

but after I started with the first 50 phrases I realised it was just

……………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………….

. (beginning)

I hope students ……………………………………………………. (work hard) these exercises and

don’t ………………………………………………………… (complain) saying they are too difficult.

Searching for the right answers could be like looking

………………………………………………………………………… (difficult to find) but I really hope you don’t end up with ………………………………………………………. .

(disappoint)

 

Take exception to something.

Source:

An exception is something different in some way from other people or things.

Meaning:

To take exception is to dislike something because you feel annoyed or dislike something.

Examples:

“When my friend gets drunk his language is awful, lots of swearing which I take exception to.”

“You look as though you are getting fat.”

“I take exception to that remark, compare me with others and you will see I am in good condition.”

Bk 6/281. (A chip on your shoulder. COMP.)

 

No. 222

 

To be kept in the dark.

Source:

If you are in room with no windows and no lights, it is dark and you cannot see anything.

Meaning:

Keeping someone in the dark about something is to not tell them for whatever reason, usually because you wish to keep something secret.

Examples:

“I have bought my girlfriend a nice present for her birthday but I am keeping her in the dark until the time is right”

“Do you like my new car?.”

“How could you afford it?”

“I had a little win on the lottery.”

“Nice, you kept me in the dark about that though.”

Bk 5/209. (Come clean. OPP.)

 

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Get along like a house on fire.

Source:

If a house catches on fire, the fire can spread through the house very quickly. To get along with someone is to get to like them.

Meaning:

If you get along (like) someone, like a house on fire, your relationship develops very quickly.

Examples: “How is your new group of students?” “Great, we are getting on like a house on fire.”

Bk 2/55. (See eye to eye. SYN.) Bk 4/152. (Rub up the wrong way. OPP.) Bk 4/181. (Burn your bridges. OPP.) Bk 5/208. (Bury the hatchet.

COMP.)

 

No. 224

Put on a brave face.

Source:

Being brave is to be confident at times when everything seems to be going wrong.

Meaning:

Making your facial expression in such a way that looks like nothing is wrong, is to show that even though there are problems, you don’t let them be seen.

Examples:

“I lost a contract which left me with difficulties in paying staff wages. At a staff meeting, everyone put on a brave face and assured me of their loyalty and support and promised to help the business keep going.” Bk 6/268. (Needs must. SYN.)

 

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Get/have the upper hand.

Source:

Upper – means higher, more powerful, in this context.

Hand – means the way you manage people. (A strong hand, fair hand, an even hand).

Meaning:

Having the upper hand indicates you are in control of a situation where other people are trying to get into a better position.

Examples:

“In WWII the UK and allies gained the upper hand when the USA entered the war on their side.”

“Government troops are gradually gaining the upper hand in the conflict with rebels.”

 

Bk 4/161. (Steal a march. SYN.)

 

No. 226

 

Up to your eyes.

 

Source:

 

Your eyes are high up on your body, almost at the top of your head.

Meaning:

If you have lots of work, or duties to be done, it’s like your body and mind are so full of thoughts that fill your head – filled to the top.

Examples:

“Hi mate do you fancy a beer tonight?”

“I’d love to but I am up to my eyes in paperwork just now.”

Other things you can be ‘up to your eyes in’:

 

Housework; jobs around the house; homework.

 

Bk 2/86. (Have your work cut out. SYN.) Bk 3/113. (At a loose end.

OPP.) Bk 4/198. (Bursting at the seams. COMP.)

 

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Turn a blind eye.

 

Source:

 

If your are unfortunately blind, you can see nothing.

Meaning:

By turning your head to one side, literally or metaphorically, to deliberately not see something, it’s a sign that you are prepared to ignore something that maybe should be dealt with.

Examples:

“Many people park their cars in shopping-mall car parks for free and don’t go to the mall to shop. The authorities generally turn a blind eye to this in the hope that some times the car owners will use the mall in the future.”

Bk 6/264. (Turn a deaf ear. SYN.)

 

No. 228

 

A steep learning curve.

Source:

Steep refers to something that rises quickly. A steep rise in prices, for example, means prices go up quickly.

Meaning:

When you are studying, or learning something, especially by making mistakes, a steep learning curve means you don’t make the same mistakes so easily because you have learnt not to.

Examples:

“I thought getting to work a few minutes late wouldn’t be a problem. When the boss reprimanded me and threatened me with the sack I took it as a steep learning curve.”

“When I first started motorcycling I crashed many times, that was a steep learning curve in how not to die young.”

 

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Run the gauntlet.

 

Source:

The gauntlet, as described in 1/41 and 4/169 is a metal glove. This phrase has a slightly different meaning.

Meaning:

It refers again to a challenge but it means to go through with the challenge and see how you perform.

Examples:

“During election time, politicians often have to run the gauntlet of loads of journalists waiting to interview them.”

“The road through a forest is full of tight turns and dangers, motorcyclists often run the gauntlet of this road for excitement.”

 

No. 230

 

Grasp the meaning.

 

Source:

 

To grasp something is to hold it tightly so that you keep it secure.

Meaning:

When you can’t quite understand something it is like not being abe to hold it in your mind.

Examples:

“My friend invented a new game but I couldn’t grasp the meaning behind the rules.”

“The new rules of the company are very complicated and many of the staff couldn’t grasp the meaning for the changes.”

 

Bk 1/29. (Lose the plot. COMP.) Bk 3/122. (Take on board. SYN.) Bk

6/270. (Get your head around. SYN.)

 

Section three review.

 

Fill each gap with one of the phrases from 221 – 230

 

Make sure it is in the correct grammatical form.

 

This method of revision has been a

……………………………………………………. (quick lesson) for me and I have been ……………………………………………………………

(busy) in new ideas.

I won’t keep anyone ……………………………………………… (secret) as I plan to tell everyone

soon. If my ideas are not well received I shall

…………………………………………………………

and won’t …………………………………………………………………. (not like) criticism, nor will I

……………………………………………………………. (ignore) as any feedback is good. I hope we continue to

………………………………………………………………………………………. (freinds) and

although sometimes I feel as though I am

…………………………………………………………….. ,

I can ……………………………………………………. of taking …………………………………………….. .

 

Make a killing.

Source/Meaning:

To make a killing is to earn a lot of money in a short period of time. Sometimes this is done illegally or immorally.

Examples:

“I bought my first house just before a property boom set in. I made a killing when I sold it a year later for a huge profit.”

“You look happy today.”

“Yes I went to the horse races yesterday and made a killing when three of the horses I backed won their races.”

Bk 3/101. (Come up trumps. SYN.) Bk 5/205. (Get your fingers burnt. OPP.)

 

No. 232

 

Come unstuck.

Source/Meaning:

If a person, or something they are trying to achieve, comes unstuck, problems appear to make everything go wrong.

Examples:

“Students who do not prepare adequately for exams often come unstuck and fail.”

“The company’s plans for expansion came unstuck because of the lack of funding.”

 

Bk 3/137. (In a pickle. SYN.)

 

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Let your hair down.

Source:

Ladies, in particular, often wear their hair tied up during their working day, to keep it tidy and easier to manage. After work they usually untie their hair to relax.

Meaning:

This doesn’t only apply to ladies but metaphorically, anyone ‘letting their hair down’ is preparing to party.

Examples:

“After working hard all week I usually let my hair down on a Friday evening and go clubbing.”

“You look a bit stressed my friend, perhaps you should let your hair down a bit.”

 

Bk 3/127. (Throw caution to the wind. SYN.)

 

No. 234

 

Something in the offing.

Source:

The offing is the area that can be seen at sea, the area between the shore and the horizon.

Meaning:

Something in the offing is possible or likely to happen in the near future. In other words, it can be seen as being close.

Examples:

“There are signs that something is in the offing as the Government is speaking more often of having fresh elections.”

“There’s been no news of the crisis in Ukraine for a few days but journalists say there is something in the offing.”

 

Bk 1/49. (Light at the end of the tunnel. SYN.) Bk 6/258. (Writing on the wall. SYN.)

 

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A clean sweep.

Source:

Sweeping the floor with a broom leaves the floor nice and clean. i.e. leaving nothing behind.

Meaning:

This represents when there is a competition, one player wins everything and the other competitors are left with nothing.

Examples:

“The Chinese women athletes made a clean sweep of the gymnastic competition.”

“The ruling party won a clean sweep at the elections winning every seat in parliament.”

 

Bk 1/8. (By the skin of your teeth. OPP.)

 

No. 236

 

Hand over fist.

Source:

This phrase stems from pulling on a rope, for example on a boat to raise the sails. One hand goes over the other to make the sails go higher and the boat can go faster.

Meaning:

 

Here it refers to making money quickly and in a short period of time.

Examples:

“I opened a stall on the market and my product sold well, I realised that I was making money hand over fist.”

“Developers who bought land in the recession are now making money hand over fist by selling their properties post-recession while prices are high.”

Bk 3/136. (Thick and fast. COMP.) Bk 5/240. (Dribs and drabs. OPP.)

 

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Take the wind out of your sails.

Source:

Sailing boats need wind to propel the boat forward, no wind = no movement.

Meaning:

If the wind is taken out of your sails, then someone has done something to take away all your energy and enthusiasm.

Examples:

“I was really looking forward to selling thousands of copies of my book but negative feedback from some customers took the wind out of my sails.”

Bk 2/100. (Keep you on your toes. COMP.) Bk 4/176. (Plain sailing. OPP.)

 

No. 238

 

Water off a duck’s back.

Source:

Ducks have so many feathers, and down, the tiny feathers close to the skin, which makes them waterproof.

Meaning:

This refers to anything that doesn’t stick, for example, accusations, criticism, or anything bad said against you.

Examples:

“The politician is such an arrogant, self-confident person that to him, any criticism is like water off a duck’s back.”

“Hi mate did you know that your neighbours have been spreading rumours about you?”

“Yes but I don’t care any more, it’s water off a duck’s back to me.”

Bk 1/3. (Thick skinned. SYN.) Bk 3/107. (Take with a pinch of salt. SYN.)

 

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In at the deep end.

Source:

As in 4/163, a swimming pool has two ends, a shallow end and a deep end. As a beginner you should start swimming in the shallow end to avoid getting into difficulties.

Meaning:

When you go in ‘at the deep end’ you do something without much preparation to save time but it is a bit more risky.

Examples:

“I got a chance of a job in Dubai, I didn’t have the exact qualifications for the job but the salary was fantastic so I jumped in at the deep end and went for it.”

Bk 4/163. (Out of your depth. SYN.) Bk 5/210. (Dip your toe in the water. OPP.) Bk 6/260. (In feet first. SYN.)

No. 240

 

Dribs and drabs.

 

Source:

 

Dribs is short for dribbles and drabs are small portions of something.

Meaning:

Anything coming or happening in dribs and drabs happens slowly and in small amounts.

Examples:

“I advertised for staff in the local paper but enquiries came in only in dribs and drabs.”

“Thousands of Poles have emigrated to the UK in the last 10 years but are coming back in dribs and drabs.”

 

Bk 3/136. (Thick and fast. OPP.) Bk 5/236. (Hand over fist. OPP.)

 

Section four review.

 

Fill each gap with one of the phrases from 231 – 240

 

Make sure it is in the correct grammatical form.

After finishing all six books it will be time to ………………………………………………. . (party)

I suspect there may be

…………………………………………………………………………. . (promises) although I doubt I’m going to …………………………………………………………

(lots of money)

Nor will I …………………………………………………………………………………

(difficulty) I think.

I suppose I could have

………………………………………………………………………………………… , but then that’s the risk of going

…………………………………………………………………………… .

Thinking positively I could make

………………………………………………………… with this idea

and make some money ………………………………………………………. ,

(quickly) but then again

the books may sell …………………………………………………………………………

, (slowly) but bad news like that is like

…………………………………………………………………………………… to me.

 

Throw in the towel.

Source:

In boxing, if one contestant is doing badly and is at risk of being badly hurt, his helpers in his corner can throw a towel into the ring which stops the fight.

Meaning:

In any situation where you throw in the towel, you simply give up what you are doing.

Examples:

“I tried for ages to learn how to play the piano but eventually I threw in the towel and tried the guitar instead.”

“Did you finish your course and get the certificate?”

 

“No, I threw in the towel half way through, it was too difficult.”

 

Bk 2/71. (Give up the ghost. COMP.) Bk 4/172. (Kicked into touch. SYN.)

 

No. 242

 

Go for broke.

 

Source:

 

Being broke means to have no money at all.

Meaning:

To go for broke means you are prepared to risk everything to achieve success.

Examples:

“I was thinking of printing just a few books to guage the response but then I had so many phrases in my mind I thought I would go for broke and complete all six.”

“I was cycling with a friend and after 10 kms we were both tired. My friend suggested we head for home but I said let’s go for broke and do another 10 kms.”

Bk 4/199. (Back to square one. OPP.) Bk 6/252. (Everything to play for. SYN.)

 

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Out of the blue.

Source:

The sky is blue – at least you can see the blueness when there are no clouds.

Meaning:

If something comes out of the blue it comes as a complete surprise almost as if it has dropped out of the sky without warning.

Examples:

“News of the prime minister resigning from his position came out of the blue as no one had been suspecting it.”

“My daughter gave me some news which came right out of the blue, she was pregnant.”

 

No. 244

 

Money where your mouth is.

Source:

You use your mouth to speak, if you brag about something or exaggerate it, all you are doing is talking.

Meaning:

Asking someone to put their money where their mouth is, is to ask them to prove what they are saying.

Examples:

“So you think you can run the marathon in under four hours, put your money where your mouth is and prove it this weekend in the city marathon.”

Bk 4/158. (The colour of your money. SYN.)

 

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Suck it and see.

Source:

When you have something new to eat or drink, usually you taste it first to see if you like it. You don’t necessarily suck it but you do put it into your mouth.

Meaning:

This can apply to anything which you should try tentatively before going fully into it.

Examples:

“I’m taking violin lessons now.”

“I didn’t think you liked the violin.”

“I didn’t think so either but I wanted to suck it and see to see if I like it.”

Bk 2/70. (Think on your feet. SYN.)

BK 3/149. (Play by ear. SYN.) Bk 5/210. (Dip your toe in the water. SYN.)

 

No. 246

 

The crack of dawn.

 

Source:

 

Dawn is when the sun rises first thing in the morning.

Meaning:

At night the sky is dark and when the sun rises it’s like the dark sky cracking open to let the sun shine through.

Examples:

“When I go fishing with my friends we always get up at the crack of dawn to get to the river nice and early.”

“You look tired today.”

 

“Yes I was up at the crack of dawn as my child was sick.”

 

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Iron out.

Source:

When you wash your clothes they get creased and need to be ironed to make them smooth.

Meaning:

This applies to any difficult situation of misunderstanding, it’s like smoothing things over to make the peace.

Examples:

“There is an error on my invoice and I need to go to the office again to iron out the mistakes.”

“The new contract is almost ready to be signed by both parties, just a few teething problems to be ironed out.”

 

Bk 4/181. (Burn your bridges. OPP.) Bk 5/208. (Bury the hatchet. SYN.) No. 248

 

On the way out.

Source:

From boxing, if you are out, you are finished and cannot continue the fight.

Meaning:

Anything which is on the way out is likely to be damaged or worn out beyond repair.

Examples:

“My old watch is not working properly and I can’t find anyone to repair it, I guess it’s on the way out after all these years.”

“You need a new suit, the one you are wearing looks as though it’s on the way out.”

 

Bk 1/1. (Come to fruition. COMP.) Bk 1/6. (Go up in smoke. COMP.)

 

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Under the weather.

Source:

Many people believe our health and wellbeing is affected by changes in the weather.

Meaning:

If you feel ‘under the weather’ you are feeling a little sick or maybe just sad or depressed over something.

Examples:

“I had a bit too much to drink last night and this morning I am feeling a little under the weather.”

“Typically at the end of the winter I feel under the weather and look forward to spring.”

 

Bk 4/167. (A spring in your step. OPP.) Bk 4/193. (Down in the dumps. SYN.)

 

No. 250

 

Cast a shadow.

Source:

In full sunlight everything looks bright, clear and sharp. In a shadow things don’t look so bright.

Meaning:

Anything that casts a shadow over something it means the subject looks in a sad way or has been affected to make it look worse than it was.

Examples:

“I do like my job but the low salary casts a shadow over the enjoyment of the job.”

“The racing driver won the race and the championship but a shadow was cast over the win when he heard news of his colleague crashing.”

 

Bk 5/218. (Have a bad taste in your mouth. SYN.)

 

Section five review.

 

Fill each gap with one of the phrases from 191 – 200

 

Make sure it is in the correct grammatical form.

 

…………………………………………………….? (give up) Never, I am ………………………………….. and I’m putting my ……………………………………………………………………… .

Every day I am

…………………………………………………………………………………………….

 

(early) to start work,

after …………………………………………………………………………… (correct) a few difficulties I sometimes feel a bit …………………………………………………………………

(sad) as sometimes

I would rather be on a beach somewhere.

Completely ………………………………………………………………………

(surprise) I had another

idea which I thought I would try out, why not

………………………………………………………. .

One small problem, my computer is

……………………………………………………………………… and that has ………………………………………………………………………….. over all my success.

 

Further practice. Which of the fifty phrases are represented by these synonyms.

Completely by surprise ……………………………………………………………. To show who the boss is ……………………………………………………………. Save hard to buy something ……………………………………………………………. To lose money in a gamble ……………………………………………………………. To be in control of a situation ……………………………………………………………. Settle a disagreement ……………………………………………………………. Let someone know a secret …………………………………………………………….

Copy an idea that seems good

……………………………………………………………. Something difficult to find ……………………………………………………………. A small sign of a bigger problem ……………………………………………………………. Very expensive ……………………………………………………………. Be bossy and get angry over something ……………………………………………………………. Stop something happening early ……………………………………………………………. Make money quickly ……………………………………………………………. Be determined ……………………………………………………………. Disappointed and sad ……………………………………………………………. Be unhappy at something particular …………………………………………………………….

Accept criticism ……………………………………………………………. Deal with a problem without concern …………………………………………………………….

Gain an advantage over another

……………………………………………………………. Quick lesson learnt

……………………………………………………………. Go through a challenging situation ……………………………………………………………. Understand something difficult ……………………………………………………………. Make lots of money quickly and easily

……………………………………………………………. Get in the mood to party

……………………………………………………………. About to happen soon

……………………………………………………………. Winning everything ……………………………………………………………. Be disappointed and lose enthusiasm ……………………………………………………………. Have no effect ……………………………………………………………. Do something without preparation ……………………………………………………………. Slowly in small amounts ……………………………………………………………. Stop doing something that’s difficult ……………………………………………………………. Prove what you claim ……………………………………………………………. Start the day early ……………………………………………………………. Discuss and solve a problem ……………………………………………………………. Get used to something easily ……………………………………………………………. Getting to the end of its useful life ……………………………………………………………. Feeling low ……………………………………………………………. Make something look worse than it was

……………………………………………………………. Be realistic …………………………………………………………….

Book 5 Phrasal Verbs Phrasal verb Direct or similar normal verb

  1. Get round to
  2. Take on
  3. Take to
  4. Back up
  5. Taken aback
  6. Give in
  7. Shut down
  8. Hold up
  9. Pass something on
  10. Water down
  11. Wear thin
  12. Take up
  13. Shut up
  14. Pass up
  15. Back down
  16. Reach out
  17. Mess about
  18. Take someone on
  19. Hold onto
  20. Give up
  21. String out
  22. Root out
  23. Part with
  24. Keep away
  25. Fill in for

Find time to do something.

To accept a challenge. Get used to, like.

Support, make copies.

Be surprised.

Acknowledge your failure.

Close, cease operations.

Keep waiting.

Transfer, bequeath.

Dilute, make less effective.

Reduce in quality, meaning or value. To start a hobby.

Be quiet, close a shop for the day. Forgo an opportunity.

Reverse position, relent.

Approach, seek friendship.

Not take something serious.

To hire, to accept a challenge. Retain temporarily.

Stop hoping or believing.

To make something last longer. To get to the core of a problem. Give something away – reluctantly. To avoid a person or place. Substitute.

Please remember, as with normal verbs, phrasal verbs can also be used in different tenses. Only the verb changes, the preposition always remains the same.

  1. Get round to: (Find time to do something)

 

“I need to wash the car, I suppose I’ll have to get round to it sometime today.”

 

“When are you going to get round to doing the housework?”

 

  1. Take on: (Accept a challenge/responsibility)

“The job looks quite difficult but I am going to take it on and see how it goes.”

 

“I have project I should like you to take on.”

 

  1. Take to: (Get used to, like)

 

“We have a new member of staff in our office but I haven’t taken to her.”

 

“I haven’t taken to my new car.”

 

  1. Back up: (Support, make copies)

 

“Make sure you back up the day’s work onto disk.”

 

“If you get into trouble with the boss don’t worry, I’ll back you up.”

 

  1. Taken aback: (Be surprised)

 

“I was taken aback by the resignation of the boss.”

 

“The news of the disaster really took me aback.”

  1. Give in: (Acknowledge your failure)

 

“I really don’t understand why you did that, I give in.”

 

“What is the capital of Georgia?”

 

“I give in, tell me.”

 

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  1. Shut down: (Close, cease operations)

 

“It’s hopeless the business is losing money hand over fist, I’m going to shut it down.”

“The computer is running too hot, shut it down and let it cool.”

 

  1. Hold up: (Keep someone/something waiting)

 

“I’ll only be a few minutes, sorry for holding you up.”

 

“I’m waiting for a delivery before I can go out, it’s holding me up now.”

 

  1. Pass something on: (Transfer, bequeath)

 

“I have a nice watch passed on to me from my father.”

 

“I hope my books are successful so that I can pass then on to my grandson.”

 

  1. Water down: (Dilute, make less effective)

 

“The whisky is too strong for me, can you water it down?”

 

“The new regulations were too strict, they had to be watered down before the unions would accept them.”

 

  1. Wear thin: (Reduce in quality/meaning)

“My trousers are wearing thin, I had better get some new ones.”

 

“You are late again and your excuses are wearing thin, I don’t believe a word you say.”

 

  1. Take up: (Start a hobby/activity)

 

“I’m thinking of taking up painting to fill my spare time.”

 

“I don’t fancy taking up running at my age.”

 

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  1. Shut up: (Be quiet, close a shop)

“Why do you keep moaning, shut up for a while please will you.”

 

“It’s six o’clock, time to shut up the shop and go home.”

 

  1. Pass up: (Forgo an opportunity)

 

“I’ve been offered a chance to go to the theatre with a friend, I don’t have much spare time so I’m going to have to pass up the opportunity this time.”

 

  1. Back down: (Reverse position, relent)

 

“The management were insistent on staff cuts but the union opposed and threatened to strike, eventually the management backed down.”

 

  1. Reach out: (Approach)

 

“The left political party is reaching out to workers.”

 

“The church is reaching out to everyone at Easter.”

 

  1. Mess about: (To not take something seriously)

 

“Are you going to finsh the book or are you just messing about?” “Children – stop messing about and get on with your class work.”

 

  1. Take someone on: (To hire, to accept a personal challenge)

 

“The company is taking on lots of new staff for the summer.”

 

“I’ve been challenged to a game of chess and I’m happy to take anyone on.”

 

  1. Hold onto: (Retain temporarily)

 

“I haven’t finished reading your book so is it ok if I hold onto it for a while?”

 

“There are some new players in the team who are very good, I don’t know how much longer I can hold onto my position.”

 

 

  1. Give up: (Stop hoping/believing, stop a habit)

 

“I know it’s bad for me but I find it hard to give up smoking.”

 

“You will never win the lottery so you should give up dreaming of a home in the Maldives.”

 

  1. String out: (Make last longer)

 

“I ran out of material in class but I managed to string out a grammar exercise.”

 

  1. Root out: (Find the reason)

 

“It is proving difficult rooting out the terrorists from general society.”

 

“We are going to have to root out the troublemaker in the school.”

 

  1. Part with: (Give something away reluctantly)

“I’ve had my motorcycle for forty years now and will never part with it.”

“After many years it’s time to part with my company and find a new job.”

 

  1. Keep away: (Avoid a place/person)

 

“I have a terrible cold so it’s better if you keep away for a while.”

“With all the trouble in Ukraine it’s better to keep away from the region until things calm down.”

 

  1. Fill in for: (Substitute temporarily)

“When another teacher went sick I was asked to fill in for him.”

“I have to go to England to see my mother so the company will have to find another teacher to fill in for me.”

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