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English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions 


Alphabetical List of Idioms C, page 2

Idioms C, page 2:  from:  'paddle one's own canoe'   to:   'carrot and stick approach'


  • paddle one's own canoe
    • If you paddle your own canoe, you do what you want to do without help or interference from anyone.
      "He decided to paddle his own canoe and set up his own company."

  • can't for the life of me
    • This expression can be used to say that it is impossible for you to do something, no matter how hard you try.
      "I can't for the life of me remember the title of the book."

  • can't hold a candle
    • If one person (or thing) can't hold a candle to another, they are much less competent or do not perform as well as the other.
      "John is very intelligent but he can't hold a candle to his brother Paul when it comes to sports."

  • can't make head or tail of
    • If you can't make head or tail of something, you can't understand it at all.
      "Amy's message was so confusing. I couldn't make head or tail of it!"

  • can't make omelette without breaking eggs
    • This expression means that it is impossible to make important changes without causing some unpleasant effects.
      "Some people will lose their jobs after the merger, but you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs."

  • can't see the wood for the trees
    • If someone can't see the wood for the trees, they are so concentrated on the details that they can't see the situation as a whole.
      "The new manager found the situation so complicated that he couldn't see the wood for the trees."

  • can't stand the pace
    • If you can't stand the pace, you are unable to do things well when there is a lot of pressure.
      "She once worked for a famous fashion designer but she couldn't stand the pace."

  • 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!"

  • on/in the cards
    • Something which ison the cards it very likely to happen.
      "A coalition between the two parties is still on the cards."

  • play your cards right
    • If you play your cards right, you do all that is necessary in order to succeed or to obtain what you want.
      "If we play our cards right, we'll get the contract."

  • put/lay one's cards on the table
    • If you put your cards on the table, you speak honestly and openly about your feelings and intentions.
      "It was time for me to put my cards on the table and reveal my true feelings."

  • carrot and stick approach
    • If you use a carrot-and-stick approach, you use the promise of reward and the threat of punishment to make someone work harder.
      "Some parents use a carrot-and-stick approach to obtain good results from their children."

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 alphabetical lists C ... 



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