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English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions 


Alphabetical List of Idioms - C, page 4
from:  'cat nap'   to:  'catch as catch can'


  • cat nap
    • If you have a short sleep during the day, you have a cat nap.
      "My dad often has a cat nap on a Sunday afternoon."

  • a cat in hell's chance
    • To say that there is not a cat in hell's chance of someone doing or achieving something, means that there is no probability at all.
      "Because of the blizzard, the pilot didn't have a cat in hell's chance of landing safely."

  • let the cat out of the bag
    • If you let the cat out of the bag, you reveal a secret, generally not intentionally.
      "When the child told her grandmother about the plans for her birthday, she let the cat out of the bag."

  • like a cat on hot bricks
    • A person who is like a cat on hot bricks is very nervous or restless.
      "The week before the results were published, she was like a cat on hot bricks."

  • like the cat that ate the canary
    • If, after an achievement or success, a person seems very self-satisfied or pleased with themselves, you can say that they look like the cat that ate the canary.
      "When the boss complimented him on his work, Steve looked like the cat that ate the canary."

  • like a scalded cat
    • If something or something moves like a scalded cat, they move very fast, usually because they are frightened or shocked.
      "As soon as he saw the policeman, he ran off like a scalded cat."

  • like something the cat dragged in
    • If you compare a person or thing to something the cat dragged in, you think they they look dirty, untidy or generally unappealing.
      "My teenage son often looks like something the cat dragged in."

  • 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."

  • no room/not enough room to swing a cat.
    • This expression is used to describe a place or a space that is very small.
      "We can't sleep in this room. There's no room to swing a cat here!"

  • a 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."

  • a cat's lick
    • A cat's lickmeans a very quick wash.
      "A cat's lick was all he had time for before rushing off to catch the bus."

  • set ( put) the cat among the pigeons
    • If someone sets the cat among the pigeons, they cause trouble or make a lot of people angry.
      "If Joe is the only one to get a pay increase, that will set the cat among the pigeons.

  • the cat's whiskers (also: cat's pyjamas)
    • This expression refers to someone who considers themselves to be better than others in a particular area : beauty, competence, intelligence, sport, etc.
      "Ever since she got a promotion, she thinks she's the cat's whiskers!"

  • catch 22
    • A catch 22 situation refers to a frustrating situation where you cannot do one thing without doing a second, and you cannot do the second before doing the first.
      "I can't get a job without a work permit, and I can't get a work permit without a job. It's a catch 22 situation!"

  • (a) catch in someone's voice
    • If someone has a catch in their voice when speaking, those listening perceive an audible break or hesitation, generally due to emotion.
      "There was a catch in his voice when the boss announced his retirement."

  • catch flies
    • To say that someone is ‘catching flies’ is a colloquial way of describing someone who has their mouth wide open for some time, either asleep or staring in astonishment at something.
      "The children stared in amazement, catching flies while they observed the insects under a microscope."

  • catch forty winks
    • Someone who catches forty winks has a nap or sleeps for a short time.
      "Dad went upstairs to catch forty wnks after his game of golf."

  • catch someone's drift
    • If you catch someone’s drift, you understand what they are saying, implying or suggesting.
      "I bumped into Carla today; she was with someone we both know well, if you catch my drift.”

  • catch someone's eye
    • If someone catches you eye, you find them attractive.
      "The pretty girl near the door caught his eye."

  • catch red-handed
    • If a person is caught red-handed, they are caught while they are in the act of doing something wrong or illegal.
      "The police arrived as the burglar was leaving the house. He was caught red-handed."

  • catch as catch can
    • This expression means that you try to do something by whatever means or in any way possible.
      "It's difficult to get much sleep with the new baby - it's catch-as-catch-can these days!"
      "The restaurant was surprisingly good in spite of its catch-as-catch-can' approach to cuisine."


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