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English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions

Descriptions of people

(personality - character - appearance)

(Idioms page 5  :  have the makings →  live wire)

have the makings of A person who has the makings of something has qualities and potential that could be developed.
The teacher says Sarah has the makings of an excellent journalist.
head and shoulders above To say that one person is head and shoulders above the others means that they are much better than the rest  of them.
The award winner was head and shoulders above the others.
old head on young shoulders This expression refers to a child or young person who thinks and expresses themselves like an older more-experienced person.
When she heard Emily warning her brother to stay out of trouble, her mother thought : "That's an old head on young shoulders."
high and mighty Someone who is high and mighty behaves in a haughty manner as though they were superior to others.
"Don't get all high and mighty!" said my grandmother to my cousin. "Everyone helps with the housework in this house."
holier-than-thou The attitude of people who consider themselves to be more virtuous or morally superior to others can be called 'holier-than-thou'.
I can't stand the holier-than-thou attitude of some political candidates.
horse of a different colour To describe a person or a problem as a horse of a different colour means either that the person does things differently from others, or that the nature of the problem is entirely different.
I expected to negotiate with the sales manager, but the chairman turned up - now he's a horse of a different colour!
dark horse If you refer to someone as a dark horse you mean that they are secretive or that little is known about them.
I can't say I know my neighbour.  He's a bit of a dark horse.
in a class of one's own If someone is in a class of their own, they are unequalled and considered better than anyone else of their kind.
As a singer, Maria Callas was in a class of her own.
jack of all trades A jack of all trades is a person who can do many different things but is not very good at any one of them..
I'm looking for a skilled worker, not a jack-of-all-trades.
just off the boat A person who is just off the boat is naive and lacks experience.
How do you expect me to work with a trainee who's just off the boat!
larger than life A person who is larger than life attracts special attention because they are very impressive or unusually remarkable in their appearance, behaviour or personality.
He was a larger-then-life character, both onstage and behind the scene.
laughing stock A person who does something stupid or ridiculous which causes others to laugh becomes a laughing stock.
If you wear that to school you'll be the laughing stock of the class!
life and soul of the party The life and soul of the party is the most lively and amusing person present at an event.
I'm so glad we invited Emily. She was the life and soul of the party.
live wire Someone who is highly vivacious, energetic and full of enthusiasm is a live wire.
Things have brightened up since Charlie arrived.  He's a real live wire!
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