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English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions 


ACTIONS - BEHAVIOUR, page 2

(Idioms:  bite the hand that feeds you  →  cap in hand)


  • bite hand that feeds you
    • If you bite the hand that feeds you, you are unfriendly or do harm to someone who is kind to you.
      "If you say bad things about the person who gives you a job, you bite the hand that feeds you."

  • blot one's copy book
    • Someone who blots their copy-book does something to spoil their good record or reputation.
      "He blotted his copy-book when he was arrested for speeding."

  • on the bottle
    • A person who drinks alcohol often and regularly is on the bottle.
      "John went on the bottle when he lost his job."

  • break every rule in the book
    • If you behave in a completely unacceptable way, you break every rule in the book.
      "Our competitors obtained the contract by breaking every rule in the book."

  • breathe down somebody's neck
    • If someone is breathing down your neck, they are watching you too closely and making you feel uncomfortable.
      "The atmosphere at work is not great; the boss keeps breathing down our necks all the time."

  • build bridges
    • If a person builds bridges between opposing groups, they help them to cooperate and understand each other better.
      "A mediator is trying to build bridges between the local community and the owners of the new plant."

  • burn your bridges
    • If you burn your bridges, you do something that will be impossible to rectify in the future.
      "If you refuse the offer, be careful not to burn your bridges by insulting them. They may make a better proposal later."

  • burn the candle at both ends
    • If you burn the candle at both ends, you exhaust yourself by doing too much, especially going to bed late and getting up early.
      "Scott looks exhausted - I'll bet he's been burning the candle at both ends lately."

  • burn your fingers
    • If you burn your fingers (or get your fingers burnt), you suffer financially as a result of foolish behaviour.
      "Jack got his fingers burnt playing on the stock market."

  • bury one's head in the sand
    • If you bury your head in the sand, you refuse to face the unpleasant reality by pretending that the situation doesn't exist.
      "It's no good burying your head in the sand. We've got a problem on our hands."

  • bury the hatchet
    • When people who have had a disagreement decide to forget their quarrel and become friends again, they bury the hatchet.
      "I didn't agree with my colleague's decision, but for the sake of peace I decided to bury the hatchet."

  • butter somebody up
    • When you butter someone up, you flatter them or you are very nice to them, especially if you want to obtain something.
      "He was so keen to get the job that he spent his time buttering up the boss."

  • call someone's bluff
    • If you call someone's bluff, you challenge them to do what they threaten to do (while believing that they will not dare to do it).
      "After the neighbour's threats to demolish the fence, when Jack decided to call his bluff, there were no more complaints."

  • call it quits
    • When people temporarily stop doing something or put an end to an activity, they call it quits.
      "OK, we're all exhausted, so let's call it quits for today."

  • call a spade a spade
    • A person who calls a spade a spade speaks openly and truthfully about something, especially difficult matters.
      "What I like about the new manager is that he calls a spade a spade - it makes things so much easier for everyone."

  • 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."

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