Skip to content

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

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.

below the belt An action or remark described as below the belt is considered to be unfair or cruel. Politicians sometimes use personal information to hit their rivals below the belt.
tighten your belt If you need to tighten your belt, you must spend less money or be careful how you spend it because there is less available. Another bill? I’ll have to tighten my belt this month!
under your belt If you have something under your belt, you have acquired experience or have satisfactorily achieved something. You’ve got to have some work experience under your belt before you can hope to get a permanent job.
(have a) bee in one’s bonnet Someone who has a bee in their bonnet has an idea which constantly occupies their thoughts. She’s got a bee in her bonnet about moving to New York.
die with your boots on A person who dies with their boots on dies while still leading an active life. He says he’ll never retire. He’d rather die with his boots on!
too big for your boots (or britches) To say that a person is getting too big for their boots (or britches) means that you think they are behaving as if they were more important than they really are. Tom is really getting too big for his boots since he got a promotion – he hardly says hello any more!
hang up your boots When a sports player hangs up their boots, they stop playing and retire. (This expression is often used to refer to retirement in general.) Dad says he’s going to hang up his boots at the end of the year.
lick someone’s boots To say that one person is licking another’s boots means that they are trying to please that person, often in order to obtain something. Sam is licking the manager’s boots in the hope of obtaining a pay rise.
(as) tough as old boots If something, specially meat, is (as) tough as old boots, it is hard to cut and difficult to chew. (This can also refer to a person who is strong either physically or in character.) I was served a steak as tough as old boots.
buckle down (to something) If you buckle down to something, you start to work seriously at something and give it your full attention. Eva willl have to buckle down (to her revision work) if she wants to pass the exam.
cap in hand If you do something cap in hand, you ask for something in a very respectful manner. They went to the teacher, cap in hand, and asked for more time to complete their project.
if the cap fits wear it You can say ‘if the cap fits, wear it’ to let someone know that the critical remark they have just heard applies to them. Are you referring to me? If the cap fits, wear it!
put on your thinking cap If you tell someone to put on their thinking cap , you ask them to find an idea or solve a problem by thinking about it. Now here’s this week’s quiz; it’s time to put on your thinking caps!
a feather in one’s cap To describe someone’s achievement as a feather in their cap means that it is something they can be proud of or something that may serve as an advantage. The overwhelming victory of the team was a feather in the cap for the new manager.
pop one’s clogs This is a euphemistic way of saying that a person is dead. Nobody lives in that house since old Roger popped his clogs.
hot under the collar If you get hot under the collar, you feel annoyed, indignant or embarrassed. If anyone criticizes his proposals, Joe immediately gets hot under the collar.
off the cuff If you speak off the cuff, you say something without any previous thought or preparation. He handles off-the-cuff interviews very well.
dressed to kill / dressed up to the nines When someone, especially a woman, is dressed to kill or dressed up to the nines, they are wearing very fashionable or glamorous clothes intended to attract attention. All eyes were on Amanda who arrived at the reception dressed to kill.
fit like a glove If something fits like a glove, it fits you perfectly. I was lucky! The first skirt I tried on fitted me like a glove!
hand in glove Two or more people who are in collusion, or work in close association, are said to be hand in glove. After the match, it was discovered that he was hand in glove with the referee.
iron fist/hand in a velvet glove This expression is used to describe someone who, behind an appearance of gentleness, is inflexible and determined. To impose the necessary reforms, the leader used persuasion followed by force – an iron fist in a velvet glove.
handle with kid gloves If you handle someone with kid gloves, you treat them very carefully or tactfully, either because they are very important or because they are easily upset or offended. He’s so determined to obtain her agreement that he is handling her with kid gloves (soft leather made from young goat skin).
the gloves are off The expression ‘the gloves are off’  is used when there are signs that a fight is about to start. The two candidates are out of their seats. The gloves are off!
at the drop of a hat If you do something at the drop of a hat, you do it immediately, without hesitation. I’ve got great friends. They’re ready to help out at the drop of a hat.
keep under one’s hat To keep something under one’s hat means to keep a secret. My boss has promised me a promotion, but it’s not official yet, so keep it under your hat.
take one’s hat off to This is said to express admiration for something someone has done. I take my hat off to the chef. The meal was wonderful.
throw / toss one’s hat in the ring If you throw or toss your hat in the ring, you announce that you are going to enter a competition or take up a challenge. He finally threw his hat in the ring and announced that he was going to stand for election.
wear many hats Someone who wears many hats has to do many different types of tasks or play a variety of roles. Our company is small so the employees need to be flexible and accept to wear many hats.
get knickers in twist If you get your knickers in a twist, you are anxious, nervous, or angry when faced with a difficult situation. Don’t get  your knickers in a twist! Everything is under control.
off the peg Clothes that are bought off the peg are purchased in a standard size in a shop and are not made specially for you. He can’t afford to have his suits made to measure, so he buys them off the peg.
ants in one’s pants People who have ants in their pants are very restless or excited about something. I wish he’d relax. He’s got ants in his pants about something today.
caught with pants down If you are caught with your pants down, you are caught doing something bad or forbidden. Our neighbours were caught fiddling with the electricity meter – caught with their pants down!
fly by the seat of your pants If you fly by the seat of your pants, you do something without any knowledge or experience, using only your instinct and hoping that you will succeed. Without any formal training, he decided to fly by the seat of his pants and try his luck in New York.
a pocket of resistance A small group of people who resist change or disagree with a proposal form a pocket of resistance. The new boss wants to introduce job-sharing, but there’s a pocket of resistance in the sales department.
have someone in your pocket If you have influence or power over someone, you have them in your pocket. He was declared ‘not guilty’, but everyone knew that he had the jury in his pocket.
money burns a hole in your pocket To say that money burns a hole in somebody’s pocket means that they are eager to spend it quickly or extravagantly. As soon as Wendy is paid she goes shopping. Money burns a hole in her pocket!
pocket of resistance A small group of people you resist change or disagree with a proposal form a pocket of resistance. The new boss wants to introduce job-sharing, but there’s a pocket of resistance in the sales department.
out of your own pocket If you pay for something out of your own pocket, you cover the cost with your own money. Breakfast is included but you must pay for lunch out of your own pocket.
suit every pocket This term refers to the amount of money you are able to spend or the price you can afford. The store offers a wide range of computers at prices to suit every pocket.
deep pockets A person or organisation who has a lot of money has deep pockets. Andy’s business is not doing well at the moment. He says he needs a friend with deep pockets! 
(be) a stuffed shirt A person who is a stuffed shirt behaves in a very formal, pompous or old-fashioned way . I had heard he was a stuffed shirt but he actually has a good sense of humour! 
give the shirt off one’s back This expression is used to describe a kind-hearted or generous person who would give you anything he/she owns to help you. Mike would give the shirt off his back to help a friend in difficulty.
keep your shirt on If you tell somebody to keep their shirt on, you are asking them to calm down. Keep your shirt on Bob. Just give your version of the story!
(the) shoe is on the other foot When the circumstances have reversed and one person is now doing what the other did in the past, you can say that the shoe is on the other foot. I used to advise my children to eat healthy food. Now my daughter is a nutritionist and the shoe is on the other foot – she advises me!
if the shoe fits, wear it This means that if someone feels that critical remark applies to them, then it does. I don’t know if the boss was referring to you but if the shoe fits, wear it!
(be) in someone’s shoes To talk about being in someone’s shoes means to imagine how you would react if you were in a similar situation. Tom’s sales have dropped by 30% this month. I wouldn’t like to be in his shoes!
step into someone’s shoes If you step into someone’s shoes, you take over a job or position held by someone else before you. William has been trained to step into his father’s shoes when he retires.
where the shoe pinches When people talk about ‘where the shoe pinches’, they are referring to an area that is often a source of problems or difficulties. She’s sure the public transport system works perfectly, but she’ll find out where the shoe pinches when she starts using it!
on a shoestring If you do something on a shoestring, you do it with very little money. When I was a student I lived on a shoestring.
an ace (or a card) up one’s sleeve If you have an ace up your sleeve, you have something in reserve with which you can gain an advantage. Our new product is an ace up our sleeve.
laugh up your sleeve If you laugh up your sleeve, you are secretly amused at another person’s problems or difficulties. Tom felt that his demonstration was confusing and that his colleague was laughing up his sleeve.
roll up your sleeves When you roll up your sleeves, you get ready for hard work. The house was in a mess after the party so we had to roll up our sleeves and start cleaning.
knock your socks off If something amazes you, or impresses you greatly, it knocks your socks off. The magnitude of the project will knock the socks off everyone in the office.
swishing (party) Swishing is the name given to a recent fashion phenomenon – a party organised to swap second hand clothes. Everyone takes along clothes they no longer wear and people can then choose the ones they want. 0
(a) black tie event This expression refers to a formal event at which men are required to wear a dinner jacket, or tuxedo, and a black bow tie. I need to know if it’s going to be a casual get-together or a black tie event
wear the trousers (or pants) The partner in a couple who wears the trousers is the one who makes all the important decisions. The salesman hesitated before the couple. It was difficult to see who wore the trousers.
  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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *