Animals – Birds – Fish – Insects

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اصطلاحات مربوط به حیوانات، حشرات، پرندگان و ماهیان
ants in one’s pants People who have ants in their pants are very restless or excited about something. 
I wish he’d relax. He’s got ants in his pants about something today. 
make an ass of ourself If you behave so stupidly that you appear ridiculous, you make an ass of yourself.
Tom made an ass of himself by singing a love song outside Laura’s door!
bat out of hell If something moves like a bat out of hell, it moves very quickly.
He grabbed the envelope and ran like a bat out of hell.
bats in the belfry If you say that somebody has bats in the belfry, you mean that
they are eccentric or crazy.
He comes up with the craziest ideas – he’s got bats in the belfry!
bear with a sore head If someone is behaving like a bear with a sore head, they are very irritable and bad-tempered.
When his team lost the match, Brad was like a bear with a sore head. 
break the back of thebeast If someone breaks the back of the beast, they succeed in overcoming a major difficiulty.
After hours of effort, the technicians finally broke the back of the beast and turned the electricity back on again.
eager beaver The term eager beaver refers to a person who is hardworking and enthusiastic, sometimes considered overzealous.
The new accountant works all the time –  first to arrive and last to leave. He’s a real eager beaver!
bee in one’s bonnet Someone who has a bee in their bonnet has an idea which constantly occupies their thoughts.
She’s got a bee in her bonnet about moving to New York.
bee’s knees To say that someone/something is the bee’s knees means that you think they are exceptionally good.
If you say “Chloe thinks she’s the bee’s knees” you mean that
Chloe has a high opinion of herself.
birds of a feather flock together If two people are birds of a feather, they are very similar in many ways, so they naturally spend time together.
No wonder they get on well.  They’re birds of a feather!
for the birds If you think something is for the birds, you consider it to be uninteresting, useless or not to be taken seriously.
As far as I’m concerned, his theory is for the birds.
kill two birds with one stone If you kill two birds with the one stone, you succeed in doing two things at the same time.
By studying on the train on the way home, Claire kills two birds with one stone.
bitten by the bug If you develop a sudden interest or enthusiasm for something, you are bitten by the bug.
My dad decided to take up golf and was immediately bitten by the bug.
snug as a bug in a rug This is a humorous way of saying that you are warm and comfortable.
Wrapped up in a blanket on the sofa, Sophie looked as snug as a bug in a rug.
red flag to a bull To say that a statement or action is like a red flag to a bull means that it is sure to make someone very angry or upset.
Don’t mention Tom’s promotion to Mike.  It would be like a red flag to a bull!
take bull by the horns To take the bull by the horns means that a person decides to act decisively in order to deal with a difficult situation or problem.
When the argument turned into a fight, the bar owner took the bull by the horns and called the police.
face like abulldogchewing 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!
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.
a cat in gloves catches no mice This expression means that if you are too careful and polite, you may not obtain what you want.
Negotiate carefully, but remember : a cat in gloves catches no mice!
a cat can look at a king

This expression means that nobody is so important that an ordinary person cannot look at or be curious about them.

 

a fat cat To refer to a rich and powerful person as a fat cat means that you disapprove of the way they use their money or power.
The place was full of fat cats on their big yachts.
grin like a Cheshire cat When someone has a smile on their face because they are happy or satisfied about something, they grin like a Cheshire cat.
I knew she had succeeded when I saw her with a grin like a Cheshire cat.
like herding cats This expression refers to the difficulty of coordinating a situation which involves people who all want to act independently.
Organizing an outing for a group of people from different countries is like herding cats!
let the cat out of the bag If you let the cat out of the bag, you reveal a secret, often unintentionally.
When the child told her grandmother about the plans for her birthday, she let the cat out of the bag.  It was supposed to be a secret!
like a 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.
like a scalded cat If something or something moves like a scalded cat, they move very fast, usually because they are frightened or shocked.
As soon as he saw the policeman, he ran off like a scalded cat.
like a cat that ate the canary If, after an achievement or success, a person appears very self-satisfied or pleased with themselves, you can say that they look like the cat that ate the canary.
When the boss complimented him on his work, Steve looked like the cat that ate the canary.
like something the cat dragged in If you compare a person or thing to something the cat dragged in, you think they they look dirty, untidy or generally unappealing.
My teenage son often looks like something the cat dragged in.
like cat and dog Two people who fight or argue like cat and dog frequently have violent arguments, even though they are fond of each other.
They fight like cat and dog but they’re still together after 30 years.
wait for the cat to jump If you wait for the cat to jump, or to see which way the cat jumps,you delay taking action until you see how events will turn out.
Let’s wait for the cat to  jump before we decide.
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!
cat-and-dog life A life in which partners are constantly or frequently quarelling is called a cat-and-dog life.
They lead a cat-and-dog life.  I don’t know why they stay together.
like herding cats This expression refers to the difficulty of coordinating a situation which involves people who all want to act independently.
Organizing an outing for a group of people from different countries is like herding cats!
raining cats and dogs If it’s raining cats and dogs, it is raining very heavily.
We’ll have to cancel the picnic I’m afraid – it’s raining cats and dogs.
play cat and mouse To play cat and mouse with someone means to treat them alternately cruelly and kindly, so that they do not know what to expect.
He’s difficult to work for, always playing cat and mouse with the employees.
chicken feed An amount of money considered small or unimportant is calledchicken feed.
I got a job during the holidays but the pay was chicken feed.
chicken out of If you chicken out of something, you decide not to do something because you are afraid.
He decided to join a karate class, but chickened out  at the last minute.
like a headless chicken If a person rushes about like a headless chicken, they act in a disorderly way, without thinking or analyzing the situation carefully.
As soon as the store opened, my mother started running around like a headless chicken, eager to find bargains.
no spring chicken To say that someone is no spring chicken means that they are quite old or well past their youth.
How old is the owner? I don’t know but she’s no spring chicken!
wave a dead chicken When faced with a serious problem, if you take steps that you  know in advance will be futile, to show that you made an effort, youwave a dead chicken.
The TV set was permanently damaged, but the technician decided to wave a dead chicken to satisfy the old lady before announcing the bad news.
chickens come home to roost If you say that chickens have come home to roost, you mean that bad or embarrassing things done in the past by someone are now causing problems for that person.
As tenants the couple were noisy and disorderly.  Now they can’t find a place to rent.  The chickens have come home to roost!
a cash cow A product or service which is a regular source of income for a company is called a cash cow.
His latest invention turned out to be a real cash cow.
till the cows come home If you say ’till the cows come home’ you mean for a long time or forever.
You can ask till the cows come home but I’m not buying you a scooter!
why buy a cow when you can get milk for free? This refers to not paying for something that you can obtain for free.
(Sometimes refers to a decision not to marry when you can have the benefits of marriage without any commitment.)
Rent is high so Bobby is still living with his parents.
He says : why buy a cow when you can get milk for free?
crocodile tears To shed crocodile tears means to shed false tears or show insincere grief.
Caroline pretended to be sad but we all knew her tears were crocodile tears.
eat crow If you eat crow, you admit that you were wrong about something and apologize.
He had no option but to eat crow and admit that his analysis was wrong.
as the crow flies This expression refers to distance measured in a straight line.
It’s two miles from here to the station as the crow flies, but of course it’s much further by road.
like a deer/rabbit caught in the headlights When you are so surprised that you are momentarily confused or unable to react quickly, you are like a deer (or a rabbit) caught in the headlights.
Surprised by the journalist’s question, he was like a deer caught in the headlights.
dead as a dodo To say that something is (as) dead as a dodo means that it is unquestionably dead or obsolete, or has gone out of fashion.
(A dodo is a bird that is now extinct.)
The floppy disk is an invention that is now (as) dead as a dodo.
dog’s breakfast To describe something as a dog’s breakfast means that it is a complete mess.
The new secretary made a dog’s breakfast out of the filing system.
dog’s life People use this expression when complaining about a situation or job which they find unpleasant or unsatisfactory.
It’s a dog’s life working in the after-sales department.
dog eat dog This expression refers to intense competition and rivalry in pursuit of one’s own interests, with no concern for morality.
The business world is tough today. There’s a general dog-eat-dog attitude.
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!
dog and pony show

A dog and pony show is a marketing event or presentation which has plenty of style but not much content.

 

crooked as a dog’s hind leg To say that someone is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg means that they are very dishonest indeed.
He can’t be trusted – he’s as crooked as a dog’s hind leg.
every dog has its day This expression means that everyone can be successful at something at some time in their life.
I didn’t win this time, but I’ll be lucky one day.  Every dog has its day.
give a dog a bad name People who lose their reputation have difficulty regaining it  because others continue to blame or suspect them.
Tom was suspected as usual.  Give a dog a bad name!
go to the dogs To say that a company, organization or country is going to the dogsmeans that it is becoming less successful or efficient than before.
Some think the company will go to the dogs if it is nationalized.
hair of the dog that bit you Using as a remedy a small amount of what made you ill, for example a drop of alcohol when recovering from drinking too much, is called ‘a hair of the dog that bit you’.
Here, have a drop of this.  It’s a hair of the dog that bit you!
help a lame dog over stile If you help a lame dog over a stile, you help someone who is in difficulty or trouble.
You can trust him – he’s always ready to help a lame dog over a stile.
let sleeping dogs lie If you tell someone to let sleeping dogs lie, you are asking them not to interfere with a situation because they could  cause problems.
Look, they’ve settled their differences.  It’s time to let sleeping dogs lie.
like a dog with two tails If someone is like a dog with two tails, they are extremely happy.
When Paul won the first prize he was like a dog with two tails.
quick as a dog can lick a dish If you do something surprisingly fast, you do it as quick as a dog can lick a dish.
He packed his bag as quick as a dog can lick a dish.
tail wagging the dog This expression refers to a situation where there is a reversal of roles, with the small or minor element having a controlling influence on the most important element.
If you let your children decide on everything, it will be a case of the tail wagging the dog!
old dog for a hard road This expression means that experience is invaluable when one is faced with a difficult task.
The case calls for an experienced lawyer, an old dog for a hard road.
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!
(can’t) teach a dogold tricks This expression means that someone who is used to doing things in a certain way will find it difficult to change their habits.
Your grandfather will never use a smart phone.  You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!
top dog To say that a person, group or country is top dog means that they are better or more powerful than others.
She’s top dog in cosmetics today.
why keep a dog and bark yourself? This expression means that if someone or something can do a task for you, there’s no reason to do it yourself.
My grandmother has an electric mixer but she continues to make her cakes by hand. Why keep a dog and bark yourself?
love me, love my dog This expression means that if someone loves you, they must love everything about you, including everyone and everything that you love.
I’m not going to change anything in my life.  Love me, love my dog!
my dogs are barking When a person says that their dogs are barking they mean that their feet are hurting.
I’ve been shopping all day. My dogs are barking!
doggie bag A bag provided by a restaurant so that you can take home the leftover food is called a doggie (or doggy) bag.
The portions were so big that I decided to ask for a doggie bag.
donkey work This expression is used to describe the unpleasant, repetitive or boring parts of a job.
I do the donkey work – my boss gets the credit!
donkey’s years If someone has been doing something for donkey’s years, they have been doing it for a very long time.
He knows the town inside out.  He’s been living here for donkey’s  years.
talk the hind leg off adonkey 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!
dead duck This expression refers to a project or scheme which has been abandoned or is certain to fail.
The new cinema is going to be a dead duck because it’s too far away from the town centre.
lame duck A person or organization in difficulty and unable to manage without help is called a lame duck.
Some banks have become lame ducks recently.
sitting duck A sitting duck is an easy target, a person who is easy to deceive.
The young girl was a sitting duck for the photographer.
get your ducks in a row If you get your ducks in a row, you get things well organized.
We need to get our ducks in a row if we want our project to succeed.
like water off a duck’sback Criticism or comments which have no effect on someone is referred to as being ”like water off a duck’s back’.
He’s been warned of the dangers of smoking but it’s like water off a duck’s back.
take to something like a duck to water If you take to something like a duck to water, you do it naturally and easily, without fear or hesitation.
When Sophie first tried skiing, she took to it like a duck to water.
eagle eyes Someone who has eagle eyes see or notices things more easily than others.
Tony will help us find it – he’s got eagle eyes
elephant in the room A problem that no one wants to discuss, but is so abvious that it cannot be ignored, is called an elephant in the room.
Let’s face it, his work is unsatisfactory. It’s an elephant in the room that we need to discuss.
fish in troubled waters If you fish in troubled waters, you try to gain advantages for yourself from a disturbed state of affairs.
Between the declaration of independence and the first elections, some people were accused of fishing in troubled waters.
fish out of water If you feel like a fish out of water, you feel uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings.
As a non-golfer, I felt like a fish out of water at the clubhouse.
big fish in a small pond This term refers to an important or highly-ranked person in a small group or organization.
He could get a job with a big company but he enjoys being a big fish in a small pond.
different kettle offish To describe a person, thing or situation as a different kettle of fishmeans that it is completely different from what was previously mentioned.
You may have good business relations, but living in that country is a different kettle of fish.
drink like a fish A person who drinks like a fish is one who drinks a lot.
I’m nervous if Ben drives when we go out  because he drinks like a fish!
neither fish nor fowl This expression is used to describe people or things that are difficult to classify, that are neither one thing nor another.
Medical interns are neither fish nor fowl.  They are neither students nor fully qualified practitioners.
other fish to fry A person who has other fish to fry has more important things to do.
I don’t think he’ll attend the office party; he’s got other fish to fry.
other fish in the sea To say that there are other fish in the sea means that there are many people just as good as the person mentioned.
The candidate we selected refused the job?  Never mind – there are (plenty of) other fish in the sea!
sounds/smells fishy If something sounds or smells fishy, you are suspicious about it.
Do you believe what she said? Her story sounds fishy to me
happy as a flea in a dobhouse If someone is (as) happy as a flea in a doghouse, they are very happy and contented.
Since she moved to a smaller apartment, my mother is as happy as a flea in a doghouse!
flea in one’s ear After an attempt at something, if you are sent away with a flea in your ear, you are angrily reprimanded or humiliated.
When Andy tried to put the blame on Pete, he was sent away with a flea in his ear.
fly in the ointment A fly in the ointment refers to something that prevents a situation from being completely satisfactory.
Tony’s poor English was a fly in the ointment when he applied for the job.
fly on the wall A person who watches a situation without being noticed is called a fly on the wall.
I’d like to be a fly on the wall when the management discusses my project.
bar fly A bar fly is someone who spends a lot of time drinking in bars and pubs.
You’ll find Johnny down at the pub – he’s a real bar fly.
(as) sly as a fox Someone who is as sly as a fox is cunning and clever at getting what they want, especially by deceiving or tricking people.
Be wary of that insurance salesman.  He’s as sly as a fox.
frog in one’s throat A person who has a frog in their throat has difficulty in speaking clearly because they have a cough or a sore throat.
Teaching was difficult today.  I had a frog in my throat all morning.
juggle frogs A person who is juggling frogs is trying to deal with many different tasks at the tame time and finding the situation diffficult.
I’ve got so many things to do at the moment, I feel like I’m juggling frogs!
take/have a gander If you take or have a gander at something, generally new or unusual, you have a look at it or go to check it out.
Let’s take a gander at the new shopping centre.  Sally says it’s fantastic!
all his geese are swans This expression refers to someone who constantly exaggerates the importance or the qualities of somebody or something.
Don’t let him impress you. He always exaggerates. All his geese are swans.
get somebody’s goat Something that gets someone’s goat annoys or irritates them.
People who keep pushing when you’re standing in line really get my goat!
cook someone’s goose To cook somebody’s goose means to spoil that person’s chances of success.
When the burglar saw the police car arriving, he realized his goose was cooked!
have goose pimples If you have goose pimples, you are cold or so afraid that your skin is temporarily raised into little lumps.
I was so scared that I had goose pimples all through the film!
sauce for the goose The saying ‘what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander’means that what is appropriate for one person should also be appropriate for the other person concerned.
Women should earn the salary as men for the same job. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander!
wild goose chase If someone is sent on a wild goose chase, they waste their time looking for something that there is little chance of finding.
They tried to find out who sent the anonymous complaint, but it turned out to be a wild goose chase.
knee-high to agrasshopper This term refers to a very young and therefore small child.
Look how tall you are! Last time I saw you, you were knee-high to a grasshopper!
guinea pig

People who are used as guinea pigs are people on whom new methods, treatment or ideas are tested.

run with the hare and hunt with the hounds If you run with the hare and hunt with the hounds, you want to stay on friendly terms with both sides in a quarrel.
Bob always wants to keep everyone happy, but he can’t run with the hare and  hunt with the hounds this time – the issue is too important.
eyes like a hawk If you’ve got eyes like a hawk, you have good eyesight and notice every detail.
Of course Dad will notice the scratch on his car – he’s got eyes like a hawk.
go the whole hog When you go the whole hog, you do something thoroughly or completely.
They put up a few decorations for Christmas, then they decided to go the whole hog and buy a tree and all the trimmings.
live high off the hog Someone who lives high off the hog has a lot of money and a very comfortable lifestyle.
Now he’s wealthy and living high off the hog.
hornet’s nest If you stir up a hornet’s nest, you do something which causes a commotion and provokes criticism and anger.
His letter to the Board stirred up a real hornet’s nest.
horse of a different colour To describe a person or a problem as a horse of a different colourmeans 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!
horse sense Someone who has horse sense is a practical thinker who has the ability to make sensible decisions.
Don’t worry. Andrew has good horse sense. He’ll do the right thing.
back/bet on the wrong horse If you back or bet on the wrong horse, for example the loser in a contest, match or election, you support the wrong person.
When I voted for him I was convinced he would win, but I backed the wrong horse!
beat/flog  a deadhorse To say that someone is beating (or flogging) a dead horse means that they are wasting time and effort trying to do or achieve something that is impossible.
Mark is beating a dead horse trying to get his money reimbursed.
The company has gone bankrupt! 
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.
could eat a horse To say that you could eat a horse means that you are very hungry.
Let’s get something to eat.  I’m starving. I could eat a horse!
get on your highhorse If you get on your high horse, you start behaving in a haughty manner, as though you should be treated with more respect.
He got on his high horse when he was asked to show his membership card.
hold your horses If you tell someone to hold their horses, you think they are doing something too fast and should slow down and not rush into further action.
Hold your horses! We need to get the customer’s approval first!.
one horse town A place referred to as a one-horse town is a small, boring town where nothing much ever happens.
I wish my grandparents didn’t live in that one-horse town.  It’s such a boring place!
horses for courses This expression means that because horses race better on a course that suits them, it is important to match people with suitable jobs or tasks. A person suited to one activity may not be suited to another.
His experience in sales doesn’t necessarily make him ideal for the job. Horses for courses, as the saying goes!
straight from horse’smouth If you learn something straight from the horse’s mouth, the information is given to you by someone who is directly involved.
“How do you know Sam has resigned?”
“I got it straight from the horse’s mouth – Sam told me himself!”
kangaroo court kangaroo court is an illegal tribunal set up by a group of people who have taken the law into their own hands and conduct trials which deny fundamental justice.
Calm down please!  Is this a meeting or a kangaroo court?
have kittens To say that you’re going to have kittens is a dramatic way of expressing worry, anxiety or fear.
His mother nearly had kittens when Alex announced that we wanted to be a trapeze artist.
mutton dressed aslamb This expression refers to a middle-aged woman who tries to look younger by dressing in clothes designed for younger people.
The style doesn’t suit her – it has a mutton-dressed-as-lamb effect on her!
lion’s share The lion’s share of something is the largest portion, or the best part.
He left very little money to his children; the lion’s share was donated to charity.
beard the lion in his den If you visit someone important in the place where they work, in order to challenge him/her or obtain something, you beard the lion in his den.
If he continues to refuse my calls, I’ll have to beard the lion in his den.
walk into the lion’s den If you walk into the lion’s den, you find yourself in a difficult situation in which you have to face unfriendly or aggressive people.
After the failure of the negotiations, he had to walk into the lion’s den and face the Press.
monkey business An activity which is organized in a deceitful or dishonest way is called monkey business.
The results announced seem suspicious – I think there’s some monkey business going on.
more fun than a barrel of monkeys If something is very amusing or enjoyable, you can say that it ismore fun than a barrel of monkeys.
The TV quiz was more fun than a barrel of monkeys!
make a monkey (out) of If you humiliate someone by making them appear ridiculous or foolish, you make a monkey (out) of that person.
That’s enough teasing.  Don’t make a monkey out of him.
like a moth to a flame To say that a person is attracted to someone or something like a moth to a flame means that the attraction is so strong they cannot resist.
He’s drawn to the casino like a moth to a flame.
mouse potato This term refers to a person who spends a lot of time in front of the computer.
My son and his friends are all mouse potatoes – constantly glued to the computer!
quiet as a mouse When someone is as quiet as a mouse, they make no noise at all.
The burglar was a quiet as a mouse as he moved around the house.
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!
mutton dressed as lamb This expression refers to a middle-aged woman who tries to look younger by dressing in clothes designed for younger people.
The style doesn’t suit her – it has a mutton-dressed-as-lamb effect on her!
ostrich strategy/politics Someone who adopts an ostrich strategy or policy chooses to ignore or evade an obvious problem in the hope that it will resolve itself or disappear.
Adopting an ostrich strategy will only make matters worse – we’ve got to find a solution.
night owl Someone who is lively and active at night and goes to bed very late is called night owl.
I work better in the evenings than in the morning.  My friends say I’m a night owl.
close as an oyster Someone who is as close as an oyster will never reveal something told in confidence or betray a secret.
Sophie will never repeat what you tell her.  She’s as close as an oyster.
the world is youroyster This expression means that you are free and able to enjoy the pleasures and opportunities that life has to offer.
She left college feeling that the world was her oyster.
make a pig of yourself If you make a pig of yourself, you eat and drink too much.
Watch what you eat – don’t make a pig of yourself!
make a pig’s ear of If you make a  pig’s ear of something, you do a task or a chore very badly or make a complete mess of it.
Gary offered to paint the kitchen but he made a pig’s ear of it.
on the pig’s back A person who is on the pig’s back is in a state of luck and everything is going well for them.
Before the recession, Ireland was on the pig’s back, but the situation has changed greatly.
(put) lipstick on apig This expression means that to ‘dress up’ something unappealing or ugly, in a vain attempt to make it look better, is like putting lipstick on a pig.
Flowers on that ugly old bridge would be (like putting) lipstick on a pig!
pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered

You should be satisfied when you have enough; if you are too greedy, like a hog, you risk losing everything.

 

pigs might fly The expression ‘pigs might fly’ expresses disbelief, or the idea that miracles might happen but are extremely unlikely.
My grandmother buying a computer? … Yeah! … and pigs might fly!
stool pigeon A person who acts as an informer, especially one who gives information to the police or the authorities, is called a stool pigeon.
I don’t trust Jack. I think he’s a stool pigeon for the management.
shank’s pony If you go somewhere on Shank’s pony, you have to walk rather than travel by bus, car, etc.
It was impossible to find a taxi after the party, so it was Shank’s pony for us!
play possum When someone plays possum, they pretend to be dead or asleep in order to avoid something they don’t want to do.
Sarah’s not asleep.  She’s just playing possum because she doesn’t want to come swimming.
rats in the attic If you say that someone has rats in the attic, you mean that they are a bit mad or that their behaviour is eccentric.
She keeps repeating the same question.  I think she’s got rats in the attic.
smell a rat To say ‘I smell a rat’ means that you suspect that something is wrong, or that someone is doing something dishonest or incorrect.
The profits announced are abnormally low.  I smell a rat.
packed like sardines If a group of people are packed like sardines, they are pressed together tightly and uncomfortably because there is not enough space.
The bus was very crowded – we were packed like sardines!
loan shark loan shark is an authorized person who lends money at extremely high interest rates to people who are unable to obtain a loan from the bank.
The young immigrant was beaten because he was late paying back money to a loan shark.
black sheep 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.
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 This term refers to a person, organization 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
turkeys voting for Christmas This expression is used to say that a particular option is unlikely to be chosen because it would not be in the interest of the people concerned.  (In many countries people eat turkey at Christmas.)
Expecting them to accept 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!
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 whalesdown 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 In order to keep the wolf from the door, you need to have enough money to buy food and other essentials.
My grandparents earned barely enough to keep the wolf from the door.
worm one’s way out of 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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