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English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions 


Alphabetical List of Idioms L, page 6

Idioms L, page 6:  from:   'lights on, no one home'   to:   'like a sore thumb'


  • lights on but no one home
    • This is a humorous way of referring to someone who is lacking intelligence or sanity, or to someone who is simply preoccupied and not paying attention.
      "Forget about Andy today - the lights are on but no one is home!"

  • see in a new light
    • If you see something in a new light, you view it in a way that makes you change the opinion you had before.
      "After listening to my colleague, I began to see things in a new light."

  • shed light
    • If you shed light on something, you help to explain it or make it easier to understand.
      "It was hoped that the testimony of the witnesses would shed light on the circumstances of the accident."

  • out like a light
    • If a person is out like a light, they are so tired that they fall asleep very quickly.
      "As soon as his head touched the pillow, he was out like a light."

  • like a bat out of hell
    • If someone or something moves like a bat out of hell, it moves very quickly.
      "He grabbed the envelope and ran like a bat out of hell."

  • like a bear with a sore head
    • If someone is behaving like a bear with a sore head, they are very irritable and bad-tempered.
      "When his team lost the match, Brad was like a bear with a sore head."

  • like bringing a knife to a gunfight
    • To say that an action was like bringing a knife to a gunfight means that there was a total lack of preparation.
      "Asking an inexperienced lawyer to defend such a difficult case was like bringing a knife to a gunfight!"

  • 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 a cat that ate the canary
    • If, after an achievement or success, a person appears 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 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."

  • like death warmed up
    • If you look like death warmed up, you look very ill or tired.
      "My boss told me to go home. He said I looked like death warmed up."

  • like a deer/rabbit caught in the headlights
    • When you are so surprised that you are momentarily confused or unable to react quickly, you are like a deer (or a rabbit) caught in the headlights.
      "Surprised by the journalist's question, he was like a deer caught in the headlights."

  • like a dog with two tails
    • If someone is like a dog with two tails, they are extremely happy.
      "When Paul won the first prize he was like a dog with two tails."

  • like greased lightning
    • If someone or something moves like greased lightning, they move extremely fast.
      "As soon as the owner appeared, the boy ran like greased lightning."

  • like herding cats
    • This expression refers to the difficulty of coordinating a situation which involves people who all want to act independently.
      "Arranging an outing for a group of people from different countries is like herding cats!"

  • like a headless chicken
    • If a person rushes about like a headless chicken, they act in a disorderly way, without thinking or analysing the situation carefully.
      "As soon as the store opened, my mother started running around like a headless chicken, eager to find bargains."

  • like it or lump it!
    • If you tell someone to like it or lump it, you mean that they will have to accept something even if they don't like it, because the situation is not going to change.
      "We're spending a week this summer with your grandparents - like it or lump it!"

  • like kicking whales down the beach
    • This expression is used, especially in computing, to refer to a particularly slow and difficult process.
      "Getting him to adopt the new method is like kicking whales down the beach."

  • like a moth to a flame
    • To say that a person is attracted to someone or something like a moth to a flame means that the attraction is so strong they cannot resist.
      "He's drawn to the casino like a moth to a flame."

  • like nailing jelly to the wall
    • To say that something is like nailing jelly to the wall means that it is extremely difficult to do, if not impossible.
      "Keeping track of his movements is like nailing jelly to the wall."

  • like pouring water into a sieve
    • If someone spends time or energy trying to do something that is inefficient or useless, it is like pouring water into a sieve.
      "Danny's mother used to say that teaching him good behaviour was like pouring water into a sieve."

  • like pulling teeth
    • Something that is like pulling teeth is extremely difficult to obtain, especially if trying to extract information from someone.
      "Getting him to talk about his job was like pulling teeth!"

  • like putting lipstick on  a pig
    • This expression means that to 'dress up' something unappealing or ugly, in a vain attempt to make it look better, is like putting lipstick on a pig.
      "Flowers on that ugly old bridge would be (like putting) lipstick on a pig!"

  • like a rat up a drainpipe
    • If someone moves or runs like a rat up a drainpipe, they do it as quickly as possible.
      "When the police informer saw a friend, he took off like a rat up a drainpipe."

  • like a red flag to a bull
    • To say that a statement or action is like a red flag to a bull means that it is sure to make someone very angry or upset.
      "Don't mention Tom's promotion to Mike. It would be like a red flag to a bull!"

  • like a shot
    • If you do something like a shot, you do it very quickly, without any hesitation.
      "If I won a lot of money on the lotto, I'd leave my job like a shot!"

  • like a sore thumb
    • If something sticks out like a sore thumb, it is very obvious or visible in an unpleasant way.
      "The modern building sticks out like a sore thumb among the old houses."

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