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English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions

Anxiety - Fear

(Idioms, page 1 :   afraid of one's own shadow   →  ignorance is bliss)

afraid of one's own shadow A person who is afraid of his/her own shadow is very nervous or easily frightened.
I've never seen anyone so easily scared. She's afraid of her own shadow!
bated breath If you wait for something with bated breath, you are both anxious and excited about an imminent event.
We waited with bated breath for the winner to be announced. 
make your blood run cold If something makes your blood run cold, it shocks or scares you a lot.
The look in the prisoner's eye made my blood run cold!
break out in a cold sweat If you break out in a cold sweat, you begin to perspire a lot, usually from anxiety.
I get nervous at the dentist's and usually break out in a cold sweat.
bundle of nerves If you describe someone as a bundle of nerves, you mean that they are very nervous, tense or worried.
My son is doing his driving test today.  Needless to say he's a bundle of nerves!
butterflies in stomach If you have butterflies in your stomach, you are feeling very nervous.
At the beginning of an exam, I always have butterflies in my stomach.
can't stand the pace If you can't stand the pace, you are unable to do things well when there is a lot of pressure.
She once worked for a famous fashion designer but she couldn't stand the pace.
cat on hot bricks A person who is like a cat on hot bricks is very nervous or restless.
The week before the results were published, she was like a cat on hot bricks.
on the edge of one's seat Someone who is on the edge of their seat is very interested in something and fits it both extremely exciting and nerve-wracking.
Look at Bob! He's on the edge of his seat watching that rugby match!
get fingers burnt If someone gets their fingers burnt, they suffer as a result of an unsuccessful action and are nervous about trying again.
He got his fingers burnt so badly in the last elections that he decided to withdraw from politics.
heart in one's mouth A person who has their heart in their mouth feels extremely anxious or nervous faced with a dangerous or unpleasant situation.
Emma had her heart in her mouth when she saw her two-year-old son standing in front of the open window.
heart misses a beat If your heart misses (or skips) a beat, you have sudden feeling of fear or excitement.
When the lights suddenly went out, my heart missed a beat.
heebie-jeebies A state of apprehension, nervousness or anxiety is called the heebie-jeebies.
Having to go down to the car park at night gives me the heebie-jeebies.
hold your breath If someone is holding their breath, they are waiting anxiously or excitedly for something to happen or be announced.
I went for a second interview today - now I'm holding my breath!
if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen This expression means that if you feel that there is too much pressure, you can leave.
Amid the growing tension, the organiser declared : "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!"
ignorance is bliss This means that if you don't know about a problem or unpleasant fact, you won't worry about it.
I didn't know our neighbour was an escaped prisoner until the police arrived - ignorance is bliss!

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