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The Most Helpful Idioms With Meaning and Examples. Topic – Arguments

English idioms are the spice of language, offering a unique flavor to everyday communication. These common idioms serve as gems, each carrying a distinctive meaning beyond their literal interpretation. Let’s explore the fascinating world of idioms with an idiom example. Consider the phrase “burning the midnight oil,” depicting intense effort or working late into the night. In this idiom sample, the image of a lamp burning late symbolizes diligence and commitment. Understanding idioms with meaning is like deciphering a secret code, unlocking a deeper layer of expression. So, whether you’re “walking on eggshells” or “seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” incorporating these idiomatic expressions into your language repertoire adds flair and nuance, transforming ordinary conversations into rich tapestries of communication.

much ado about nothing If people make much ado about nothing, they make a lot of fuss about something which is not important. A discussion took place about the colour of the receptionist’s shoes – much ado about nothing!
argue the toss If you argue the toss, you dispute a decision or choice which has already been made. The final choice was made yesterday, so don’t argue the toss now!
all hell broke loose If you say that all hell broke loose, you mean that there was a sudden angry or noisy reaction to something. When it was announced that the plant was going to close down all hell broke loose.
get off by back! If you tell someone to get off your back, you are annoyed and ask them to stop finding faults or criticizing you. Liz, please, get off my back! You’ve been making comments about my work all morning!
battle lines are drawn This expression is used to say that opposing groups are ready to defend the reason behind the conflict. The battle lines have been drawn between those who accept the changes and those who are against the proposed reforms. 
battle of wills A conflict, argument or struggle where both sides are determined to win is described as a battle of wills. When they separated, neither party would make concessions – it was a battle of wills.
blamestorming A discussion among a group of people who try to determine who or what is to blame for a particular mistake, failure or wrongdoing, is called ‘blamestorming’. A blamestorming session took place following the unfavourable reviews in the press.
bone of contention A bone of contention is a matter or subject about which there is a lot of disagreement. The salaries have been agreed on, but opening on Sundays is still a bone of contention.
bone to pick If you have a bone to pick with someone, you are annoyed with them and want to talk to them about it. Mark wants to see the boss. He says he’s got a bone to pick with him.
in good/bad books If you are in somebody’s good or bad books, you have their approval or disapproval. I’m in my wife’s bad books at the moment because I forgot our wedding anniversary.
bury the hatchet When people who have had a disagreement decide to forget their quarrel and become friends again, they bury the hatchet. I didn’t agree with my colleague’s decision, but for the sake of peace, I decided to bury the hatchet.
call someone’s bluff If you call someone’s bluff, you challenge them to do what they threaten to do (while believing that they will not dare to do it). When Jack decided to call his bluff after the next-door neighbour threatened to demolish the fence between their houses, there were no more complaints.
cat and dog life A life in which partners are constantly or frequently quarrelling is called a cat-and-dog life. They lead a cat-and-dog life.  I don’t know why they stay together.
caught in the crossfire If you are caught in the crossfire, you suffer the effects of an argument or dispute between two people or groups. When the two taxi drivers started to argue, their passengers were caught in the crossfire.
clear the air If you decide to clear the air, you try to remove the causes of fear, worry or suspicion by talking about the problem openly. The atmosphere had become so unpleasant that he decided it was time to clear the air.
dead set against If you are dead set against something, you are strongly opposed to it. My father wanted a dog, but my mother was dead set against the idea.
devil’s advocate During a discussion or debate, if you play devil’s advocate, you pretend to be against an idea or plan in order to determine the validity of the arguments in favour of it. She decided to play devil’s advocate just to see how strongly people felt about the project.
fight like cat and dog Two people who fight or argue like cat and dog frequently have violent arguments, even though they are fond of each other. They fight like cat and dog but they’re still together after 30 years.
go against the tide/stream If you go against the tide (or the stream), you refuse to conform to current trends, or the opinions or behaviour of other people. Bill can be difficult to work with; he constantly goes against the tide.
hammer and tongs If people are going at it hammer and tongs, they are arguing fiercely, with a lot of energy and noise. Our neighbours are going at it hammer and tongs again. They’re constantly arguing.
let bygones be bygones If you let bygones be bygones, you decide to forget about old arguments, or problems that happened in the past, and improve your relationship with someone. When Charlie’s son was born, he decided to let bygones be bygones and contacted his parents.
let sleeping dogs lie If you tell someone to let sleeping dogs lie, you are asking them not to interfere with a situation because they could cause problems. Look, they’ve settled their differences. It’s time to let sleeping dogs lie.
at loggerheads If you are at loggerheads with a person or organisation, you disagree very strongly with them. The management and the trade unions are at loggerheads over the decision to close down the plant.
lock horns If you lock horns with somebody, you argue or fight with them about something. If there is another incident like that in the building, the occupants will be locking horns!
no love lost To say that there is no love lost between two people or organisations means that they do not like each other at all. There is no love lost between the Conservatives and Democrats.
make a mountain out of a molehill If someone makes a mountain out of a molehill, they make a small, unimportant problem seem much more serious than it is. Don’t make a mountain out of molehill! It’s not a major problem.
a moot point A subject which gives rise to argument or debate is called a moot point. Whether Bach composed it himself or not is a moot point among musicians.
nothing doing! This term means that there is no way you would accept to do what is proposed. Work on Sunday? Nothing doing!
at odds (with someone) If one person is at odds with another, they disagree with each other. Sam is at odds with his father over the purchase of a new tractor.
olive branch If a person or organisation holds out an olive branch to another, they show that they want to end a disagreement and make peace. The protesters finally accepted the olive branch extended to them.
out of the question Something which is out of the question is impossible and is therefore not worth discussing. Buying a new car is out of the question – we simply can’t afford it.
over my dead body! This expression is used by someone who absolutely refuses to allow someone to do something. Mum, can I get by nose pierced?  Over my dead body!
pick a fight Someone who picks a fight deliberately looks for an opportunity to start a quarrel or begin an argument. Our new neighbour seizes every occasion to pick a fight.
pick holes If someone picks holes in something such as a plan, an idea or a proposal, they criticize it or try to find fault with it. Why don’t you make a suggestion instead of picking holes in all my ideas!
press something home If you press something home, you insist on a point in a discussion or argument. Her lawyer kept pressing home the fact that she was a single mother.
a running battle If two people or groups have a running battle with each other, they argue or disagree about something over a long period of time. There’s been a running battle between the local authorities and the population over the school bus route.
send someone packing If you send someone packing, you tell them to leave, in a very forceful and unfriendly way. When Amanda discovered that Jack was unfaithful, she sent him packing.
shouting match An argument or debate where people shout loudly at each other is called a shouting match. The debate between the two politicians turned into a shouting match which spoiled the event for viewers.
sink one’s differences If people or organisations sink their differences, they decide to forget their disagreements. We must sink our differences and build a peaceful community.
sit on the fence If you sit on the fence, you avoid taking sides in a discussion or argument. It’s an important issue. You can’t continue to sit on the fence!
skating in thin ice If you are skating on thin ice, you are doing or saying something that could cause disagreement or trouble. Don’t mention that subject during the negotiations or you could be skating on thin ice.
split hairs If you split hairs, you pay too much attention to differences that are very small or unimportant. If we start splitting hairs, we’ll never reach an agreement.
water under the bridge If something difficult or unpleasant took place in the past but is no longer important, it is referred to as water under the bridge. They had a serious disagreement in the past, but that’s water under the bridge today.
wipe the slate clean If you wipe the slate clean, you make a fresh start and forget all past offences, disagreements or mistakes. When their father died, Bob and his brother decided to wipe the slate clean and forget the old family quarrels.
  1. What are idioms? Idioms are expressions or phrases that hold a figurative meaning beyond their literal interpretation. They add color and depth to language.

  2. Why are idioms important in English? Idioms help convey complex ideas succinctly and vividly, enhancing communication and offering cultural insights.

  3. Can you provide some examples of idioms? Certainly! Examples include “raining cats and dogs” (heavy rain), “kick the bucket” (pass away), and “bite the bullet” (face a difficult situation).

  4. How do I understand the meaning of idioms? Understanding idioms often requires context and cultural familiarity. Exploring their origins and usage in sentences helps grasp their meanings.

  5. Are all idioms universal or do they vary by region? Idioms can vary across regions and cultures. While some idioms are universal, many are culturally specific.

  6. Are there common idioms used in everyday conversation? Yes, several idioms, like “break a leg” (good luck) or “piece of cake” (easy task), are frequently used in daily conversations.

  7. Do idioms have fixed meanings? Generally, yes. However, some idioms might have slight variations in meaning or usage based on context or region.

  8. How can I incorporate idioms into my writing or speech? Using idioms contextually and accurately can add richness to your language. Start by understanding their meanings and then applying them naturally.

  9. Are idioms only found in English? No, idioms exist in many languages. Each language has its own set of colorful expressions and phrases.

  10. Where can I learn more idioms and their meanings? Online resources, books on idioms, and even language learning platforms offer extensive lists of idioms with explanations of their meanings and origins.

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