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English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions

Descriptions of people

(personality - character - appearance)

(page 8  :  sleeping partner →  talk nineteen to the dozen)

sleeping/silent partner This term refers to a person who invests in a business without taking an active part in its management, and whose association with the enterprise is not public knowledge.
He works alone but his business is partly financed by a sleeping partner.
slippery as an eel To say that someone is as slippery as an eel means that they are difficult to catch and they manage to avoid answering questions.
The man was as slippery as an eel.  He was arrested for theft several times but was never convicted.
small dog, tall weeds This expression is used to refer to someone who does not have the ability or the resources necessary to perform a task.
It may be too difficult for the trainee - small dog, tall weeds!
small fry People or organisations that are considered unimportant can be referred to as small fry.
This term can also refer to young children.
The police seized a large quantity of drugs, and some small fry, but not the organisers they were hoping to catch.
smart alec A smart alec is an annoying self-assertive person who tries to show off how clever they are.
Some smart alec interrupted the game claiming that the answers were incorrect!
social butterfly A person who has a lot of friends and acquaintances and likes to flit from one social event to another is called a social butterfly.
Jessica is constantly out and about;  she's a real social butterfly.
spitting image If one person is the spitting image of another, they look exactly like each other.
Sarah is the spitting image of her mother.
square peg in a round hole To say that a person is a square peg in a round hole means that they are not suitable for the job they are doing or the situation they are in.
He was a bad choice for the job - a square peg in a round hole.
(made of) sterner stuff If someone is made of sterner stuff, they have a strong character and are better able to deal with difficulties than others.
I was surprised to see him so upset.  I thought he was made of sterner stuff.
stickler for the rules Someone who is a stickler for the rules is a disciplinarian who demands strict observance of the rules or procedures.
Be sure to use the proper form.  Mr. Brown is a stickler for the rules.
straight as an arrow Someone who is as straight as an arrow is a morally upright person who is extremely honest.
You can leave the keys with Andy.  He's as straight as an arrow.
stubborn as a mule If someone is as stubborn as a mule, they are very obstinate and unwilling to listen to reason or change their mind.
His friends advised him to accept the offer, but you know Larry - he's as stubborn as a mule!
talk the hind leg off a donkey This expression is used to describe a very talkative person.
It's difficult to end a conversation with Betty.  She could talk the hind leg off a donkey!
talk nineteen to the dozen If someone talks nineteen to the dozen, they speak very quickly.
He was talking nineteen to the dozen so I didn't catch the whole story.
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