Know Your English (Vol.1): Idioms and their stories
S Upendran
Ebook ISBN
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Universities Press
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Idioms and their Stories is the first of a four volume series, based on the popular column, Know Your English, which has been a regular feature in The Hindu since 1982.

Teachers, students, and those who are keen on honing their speaking and writing skills will find the series useful. This volume contains a selection of more than 300 idioms, and each entry gives the meaning of the idiom, provides examples of its use, and wherever possible, traces its origin. 

S Upendran, a Professor in the Department of Materials Development at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, has been writing the column, Know Your English in The Hindu, since 1991. The selections in this book are from those that featured between 1992 and 2009.
  1. Above board
  2. Achilles’ heel
  3. Across the board
  4. Adam’s ale
  5. Add insult to injury
  6. A lick and a promise
  7. Albatross around the neck
  8. All ears
  9. All hell broke loose
  10. All thumbs
  11. Always a bridesmaid and never a maid
  12. American dream
  13. Apple of one’s eye
  14. Apple of discord
  15. Apple pie order
  16. Argus-eyed
  17. Armchair critic
  18. Arms of Morpheus
  19. Ask for the moon
  20. Asleep at the switch
  21. Axe to grind
  22. Back to square one
  23. Bad egg
  24. Baker’s dozen
  25. Bald as a coot
  26. Banana republic
  27. Band-aid solution
  28. Bark up the wrong tree
  29. Barkis is willing
  30. Bat an eyelid
  31. Be on one’s high horse
  32. Beat around the bush
  33. Beck and call
  34. Bells and whistles
  35. Belly up
  36. Best (greatest) thing since sliced bread
  37. Between the devil and the deep blue sea
  38. Between Scylla and Charybdis
  39. Beyond his ken
  40. Beyond the pale
  41. Big fish in a small pond
  42. Bigwig
  43. Bite the bullet
  44. Bite the dust
  45. Bite your tongue
  46. Blackball
  47. Blaze a trail
  48. Blow one’s own trumpet/horn
  49. Blue blood
  50. Bolt from the blue
  51. Bone of contention
  52. Born with a silver spoon in the mouth
  53. Boot is on the other foot
  54. Boxing day
  55. Bread and butter
  56. Bread and butter letter
  57. Break the ice
  58. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
  59.  Bring home the bacon
  60. Brown noser
  61. Bull in a China shop
  62. Burn one’s boats
  63. Burn the candle at both ends
  64. Burn the midnight oil
  65. Bury the hatchet
  66. Bury your head in the sand
  67. Buttonhole someone
  68. Busman’s holiday
  69. Cakewalk
  70. Call a spade a spade
  71. Called on the carpet
  72. Can’t hold a candle to someone
  73. Can’t see the wood for the trees
  74. Carrot and stick approach
  75. Carry coals to Newcastle
  76. Catch as catch can
  77. Catch-22
  78. Catch a few rays
  79. Cat’s whiskers
  80. Caught in the crossfire
  81. Chasing rainbows
  82. Cheek by jowl
  83. Chew the fat
  84. Chink in the armour
  85. Chip off the old block
  86. Chips are down
  87. Chip on one’s shoulder
  88. Cleanse the Augean stables
  89. Closed book
  90. Cloud-cuckoo-land
  91. (On) Cloud nine
  92. (In) Clover
  93. Cock a snook at
  94. Cock and bull story
  95. Cold feet
  96. Cold storage
  97. Cook someone’s goose
  98. Cost an arm and a leg
  99. Cross the bridge when you come to it
  100. Curate’s egg
  101. Curl one’s hair
  102. Curry favour
  103. Cut and dried
  104. Cut and run
  105. Cut no ice
  106. Cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face
  107. Cut your eye teeth on something
  108. D-day
  109. Damp squib
  110. Dark horse
  111. Davy Jones’ locker
  112. Deep pockets
  113. Dog’s breakfast
  114. Dog days
  115. Donkey’s years
  116. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch
  117. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
  118. Doubting Thomas
  119. Draw first blood
  120. Dress (up) to the nines
  121. Drink like a fish
  122. Drop like a hot potato
  123. Drop of a hat
  124. Dry as dust
  125. Dutch act/cure
  126. Dutch courage
  127. Ears are burning
  128. Ear to the ground
  129. Eat crow
  130. Eat humble pie
  131. Eat out of one’s hand
  132. Egghead
  133. Egg on one’s face
  134. Even Homer sometimes nods
  135. Elephant in the room
  136. Excuse/pardon my French
  137. Face in the crowd
  138. Face the music
  139. Fall like ninepins
  140. Fall on stony ground
  141. Feather in one’s cap
  142. Feeling blue
  143. Final nail in the coffin
  144. Find one’s feet
  145. Firing on all cylinders
  146. Fish in troubled waters
  147. Flog a dead horse
  148. Flotsam and jetsam
  149. Fly-by-night operators
  150. Fly off the handle
  151. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread
  152. Foot the bill
  153. Get down to brass tacks
  154. Get in someone’s hair
  155. Get it in the neck
  156. Get on the soapbox
  157. Get one’s head out of the clouds
  158. Get someone’s goat
  159. Get the walking papers
  160. Get to the bottom of something
  161. Get up on the wrong side of the bed
  162. Get wind of something
  163. Get your act together
  164. Ghost walks
  165. Give a dog a bad/ill name and hang him
  166. Give someone an even break
  167. Give someone the bird
  168. Give someone the cold shoulder
  169. Give someone the runaround
  170. Give someone the third degree
  171. Give your eye teeth for something
  172. Go bananas
  173. Go fly a kite
  174. Go off the deep end
  175. Go in one ear and out the other
  176. Go to pot
  177. Go to someone’s head
  178. Gobbledygook
  179. Good as it gets
  180. Grapevine
  181. Greased lightning
  182. Green with envy
  183. Greenhorn
  184. Green room
  185. Grinning like a Cheshire cat
  186. Grow on someone
  187. Hair of the dog that bit someone
  188. Hand in glove
  189. Handsome is as handsome does
  190. Hangdog expression
  191. Hard to swallow
  192. Hats off to someone
  193. Haul someone over the coals
  194. Have/got the runs
  195. He who pays the piper calls the tune
  196. Hit below the belt
  197. Hit the ground running
  198. Hit the sack/hay
  199. Hobson’s choice
  200. Hoist with one’s own petard
  201. Hook, line and sinker
  202. (By) Hook or by crook
  203. Horse sense
  204. Horse-trading
  205. Horses for courses
  206. Hot potato
  207. Hot under the collar
  208. I’m a Dutchman
  209. In Dutch
  210. In one’s good books
  211. In the doghouse
  212. In the doldrums
  213. In the wake of something
  214. Iron out the wrinkles
  215. Jack Robinson
  216. Joined at the hip
  217. Kangaroo court
  218. Keep a straight face
  219. Keep it under your hat
  220. Keep one’s eyes peeled
  221. Keep one’s fingers crossed
  222. Keep your powder dry
  223. Keep your shirt on
  224. Kick the bucket
  225. Knee high to a grasshopper
  226. Knee-jerk response/reaction
  227. Knock the socks off
  228. Know one’s onions
  229. Know which side the bread is buttered
  230. Last but not least
  231. Learn the ropes
  232. Leave someone holding the bag
  233. Laugh up your sleeve
  234. Lead someone down/up the garden path
  235. Leave no stone unturned
  236. Leave someone cold
  237. Left-handed compliment
  238. Left holding the baby
  239. Let one’s hair down
  240. Let someone cool their heels
  241. Let the cat out of the bag
  242. Let the chips fall where they may
  243. Let the grass grow under one’s foot
  244. Level best
  245. Lick into shape
  246. Like a cat on a hot tin roof
  247. Line one’s pockets
  248. Lion’s share
  249. Live high off the hog
  250. Live the life of Riley
  251. Live up to its billing
  252. Lock horns with
  253. Long face
  254. Long in the tooth
  255. Look like death warmed over
  256. Look like something the cat dragged in
  257. Look the other way
  258. Loose cannon
  259. Lose face
  260. Lost in the shuffle
  261. Love me
1. Release Date: 07-09-2011 Venue: Chennai
2. Release Date: 25-11-2011 Venue: Chennai
3. Release Date: 07-09-2011 Venue: Hyderabad
4. Release Date: 25-11-2011 Venue: Hyderabad
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