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English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions 


Alphabetical List of Idioms F, page 7

Idioms F, page 7:  from:   'put a finger on something'   to:   'in the first place


  • put a finger on (something)
    • If you are able to identify or understand something such as the cause of a problem or the solution to it, you put your finger on it.
      "The atmosphere at the meeting was strange, but Marie couldn't put a finger on the cause of it."

  • keep your finger on the pulse
    • If you keep your finger on the pulse, constantly aware of the most recent events or developments.
      "A successful investor keeps his finger on the pulse of international business."

  • all fingers and thumbs
    • If you are all fingers and thumbs, you are awkward and clumsy and do things incorrectly.
      "Would you mind wrapping this for me? I'm all fingers and thumbs!"

  • let slip through your fingers
    • If you let something slip through your fingers, such as a good opportunity, you fail to obtain it or keep it.
      "He should have accepted the job when it was offered. He let the opportunity slip through his fingers."

  • work your fingers to the bone
    • A person who works their fingers to the bone is extremely hardworking.
      "He deserves his success; he worked his fingers to the bone when he started the business."

  • five-finger discount
    • If somebody gets a five-finger discount, they take something without paying; in other words, they steal.
      "How could he afford that watch?"
      "Who knows - perhaps with a five-finger discount?"


  • fire away
    • If you tell someone to fire away, you encourage them to begin to talk or ask questions.
      "If you've got any questions, fire away!"

  • firing line
    • Someone who is in the firing line is in a position to be criticized because of their responsibilities or the position they hold.
      "The managing director of the bank is in the firing line since the fraud was discovered."

  • first and foremost
    • This expression is used to state what you consider to be more important than anything else.
      "First and foremost I want to thank our hosts for their wonderful reception."

  • get to / reach first base
    • When you get to (or reach) first base, you make progress or begin to have success with someone or something.
      "If you go to the interview dressed like that, you won't get to first base!"

  • first come first served
    • This expression means that there will be no favouritism or preferential treatment. People will be served strictly in the order they arrive.
      "Tickets for the match will be sold on a 'first come first served' basis."

  • (at) first hand
    • If you experience something yourself directly, without any intermediary, you experience it (at) first hand.
      "Getting to see the performance (at) first hand is much better than watching it on television."

  • first out of the gate
    • If you are first out of the gate, you are the first to make a start at something that others have also accepted to do.
      "Sandra was so enthusiastic about the project that she was first out of the gate."

  • in the first place
    • Something that is done or said in the first place is done or said at the start, before anything else.
      "Why didn't you tell me he was your boyfriend in the first place?"

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