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English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions

Descriptions of people

(personality - character - appearance)

(page 2:   call a spade  →  down to earth)

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.
fat cat Term used to refer to a rich, powerful, self-satisfied person who uses their money and power in a way that you disapprove of.
The place was full of fat cats on their big yachts.
cat's whiskers
(also: cat's pyjamas)
This expression refers to someone who considers themselves
to be better than others in a particular area : beauty, competence, intelligence, sport, etc.
Ever since she got a promotion, she thinks she's the cat's whiskers!
chip off the old block A person who is a chip off the old block resembles one of their parents in appearance, character or behaviour.
James is a chip off the old block - he reacts the same way as his father.
class act To say that someone, for example an athlete or entertainer, is a class act means that they are very good at what they do.
Her career is just beginning but she's already a class act.
cog in the machine If you say that someone is a cog in the machine, you mean that, while they are necessary, they only play a small part in an organisation or plan.
The police quickly realized that the suspect was just a cog in the machine.
couch potato If you refer to someone as a couch potato, you criticize them for spending a lot of time sitting and watching television.
Don't be such a couch potato. There are better ways of spending your time than in front of the TV.
not cut out for something If you are not cut out for something, you are not the sort of person to succeed or be happy in a particular activity.
I started studying medicine but I quickly realized that I wasn't cut out for it.
dark horse A dark horse is secretive person who keeps hidden a surprising ability or skill.
He is such a dark horse. I never knew he was a playwright !
dead loss Someone described as a dead loss is absolutely useless or a complete failure.
When it comes to gardening, my brother is a dead loss.
dead man walking A dead man walking is someone who will inevitably be in great trouble very soon, especially a person who is about to lose their job or position.
Because of the way he handled the recent riots, the minister is a dead man walking.
dog in the manger A person referred to as a dog in the manger is someone who stops others from enjoying something he/she cannot use or doesn't want.
She hates the guitar so she won't allow her son to learn to play it
- a real dog in the manger!
doubting Thomas A 'doubting Thomas' is a person who will not believe something without proof, or without seeing it for themselves.
I had to show him my membership card.  What a doubting Thomas!
down at heel A person who is down-at-heel is someone whose appearance is untidy or neglected because of lack of money.
The down-at-heel student I first met became a successful writer.
down to earth Someone who is down to earth is not a dreamer but a realistic and practical person who has sensible reactions and expectations.
Don't ask Suzy for help.  She's fun, but not very down to earth.
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