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English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions 


ACTIONS - BEHAVIOUR, page 3

(Idioms:  carrot and stick  → dig your own grave)


  • 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."

  • chance something
    take a chance on something
    • If you take a chance on something, you take action in the hope of success even though you know that the result may be negative.
      "I may not be able to get through the traffic, but I'll take a chance on it."

  • chance your arm
    • If you chance your  arm, you decide to do something even though there is little hope of success.
      "Tony knew there was little hope of getting into Harvard but he decided to chance his arm anyway."

  • cheap shot
    • A cruel, unfair or unwarranted comment or verbal attack is called a cheap shot.
      "Referring to Tom as an 'unqualified speaker' was really a cheap shot."

  • chime in
    • If you chime in, you interrupt or join a conversation, especially to repeat or agree with something.
      "As I explained to the bus driver what had happened, the other passengers chimed in and gave their version."

  • clip someone's wings
    • If you clip someone's wings, you do something to restrict their freedom.
      "Taking away his credit card is a sure way to clip his wings."

  • come apart at the seams
    • To say that someone is coming apart at the seams means that they are extremely upset or under severe mental stress.
      "Bob has had so many problems lately, he's coming apart at the seams."

  • come out of the woodwork
    • When things, or people, come out of the woodwork, they appear or emerge unexpectedly, as if from nowhere, and usually in large numbers.
      "As soon as we added the swimming pool, our children had 'friends' coming out of the woodwork!"

  • cramp someone's style
    • If you cramp someone's style you do something to prevent them from behaving freely, or performing to the best of their ability.
      "I can't paint with people watching me - it cramps my style!

  • cross the Rubicon
    • If you cross the Rubicon, you make an irreversible decision or commit to a course of action that cannot be changed.
      (The Rubicon is a river in Italy crossed by Caesar and his army.)
      "After careful consideration, he decided to stop teaching and open an art gallery, knowing that he was crossing the Rubicon and that there would be no turning back."

  • cut the cackle
    • If you tell a group of people to cut the cackle, you are asking them to stop talking aimlessly and start dealing with more important or serious matters.
      "OK. It's time to cut the cackle and get down to business."

  • dance attendance on someone
    • If you dance attendance on somebody, you are constantly available for that person and attend to all their requests.
      "She's rich and famous and expects everyone to dance attendance on her."

  • dig your own grave
    • A person who digs their own grave does something which causes their own downfall.
      "If you drop out of college now, with such high unemployment, you'll be digging your own grave."

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