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English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions 


from:   'black sheep'   to:  'worm's eye view'

  • black sheep (of the family)
    • The black sheep is one who behaves very differently or badly, and is considered disreputable by the other members of the family.
      "Joe was the black sheep of the family, always getting into trouble."

  • snail mail
    • This term refers to the standard system of mail delivery, or postal service, considered very slow compared to electronic mail.
      "More and more people are using e-mail rather than the traditional postal service, snail mail."

  • as slow as a snail
    • Someone who is as slow as a snail progresses very slowly or takes a lot of time to do things.
      "The boss is annoyed because the apprectice is as slow as a snail."

  • snake in the grass
    • Someone who pretends to be your friend while actually betraying you is a snake in the grass.
      "I thought I could trust my colleague but he turned out to be a snake in the grass."

  • lower than a snake's belly
    • To say that someone is lower than a snake's belly means that they are bad, dishonest or have very low moral standards.
      "Anyone who is capable of taking advantage of young vulnerable children is lower than a snake's belly."

  • paper tiger
    • The term paper tiger refers to a person, organisation or country that is less powerful or threatening than they appear to be.
      "He threatens to take strong action but he's just another paper tiger."

  • cold turkey
    • This term means to immediately and completely stop an addictive substance, a regular activity or a behavioural pattern, instead of ending it gradually.
      "When Dave decided to stop smoking, he did it cold turkey on January 1st."

  • (like) turkeys voting for Christmas
    • If turkeys were allowed to vote they would never vote for Christmas because turkey is often eaten at Christmas.
      This expression is used to say that a particular option is unlikely to be chosen because it would be against the interests of the people concerned.
      "Accepting a decrease in salary would be like turkeys voting for Christmas!"

  • turn turtle
    • If a boat turns turtle, it capsizes or turns upside down in the water.
      "We had fun sailing yesterday, although we nearly turned turtle a couple of times!"

  • face like a bulldog chewing a wasp
    • To say that someone has a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp means that you find them very unattractive because they have a screwed-up ugly expression on their face.
      "Not only was he rude but he had a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp!"

  • (have a) whale of a time
    • When people have a whale of a time, they enjoy themselves a lot.
      "We had a whale of a time at the party last night."

  • 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."

  • wolf in sheep's clothing
    • To describe someone as a wolf in sheep's clothing means that although they look harmless, they are really very dangerous.
      "Be careful. He looks kind but in fact he's a wolf in sheep's clothing."

  • cry wolf
    • To cry wolf is to call for help when you are not really in danger.  As a result, nobody believes you when you really need help.
      "There's Mary screaming again! Does she really need help or is she just crying wolf again?"

  • keep the wolf from the door
    • To keep the wolf from the door you need to have enough money to buy food and other basic essentials in order to survive.
      "My grandparents earned barely enough to keep the wolf from the door."

  • worm one's way out of something
    • If a person worms their way out of something, they use artful or devious means in order to avoid participating in it.
      "You're not going to worm your way out of this. You must do your share!"

  • even a worm will turn
    • This expression means that even someone who never complains will react to an intolerable situation.
      "Don't treat him so severely. He never protests, but even a worm will turn!"

  • worm's eye view
    • To offer a worm's eye view of a situation is to give your opinion based on what you see at close range from an inferior position, so it is therefore not a general view.
      "I'm not sure I can be of much help. I can only offer you a worm's eye view of the situation."

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