CDS Exam: Most Important Idioms and Phrases

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  • Above all (chiefly, mainly)
  • On Account of (due to, for the reason)
  • On no account (not for any reason)
  • Above board (honest, beyond reproach)
  • To give a good account of oneself (to act with credit to oneself)
  • A fidus Achates (a faithful friend)
  • The heel of Achilles (a week point)
  • An Adonis (a very handsome man)
  • To build castles in the air (To day dream)
  • To assume airs (to affect superiority)
  • To air one՚s opinions (to give vent to one՚s feeling in public)
  • To stand aloof (To keep to oneself and not mix with others)
  • To lead to the altar (to marry)
  • An Amazon (a warlike masculine woman)
  • An Ananias (a liar)
  • An Apollo (a man with perfect physique)
  • The apple of discord (cause of quarrel)
  • To upset the apple cart (to disturb the peace)
  • Apple pie order (in perfect order)
  • Arcadian life (a blissful, happy, rural and simple life)
  • To keep a person at an arm՚s length (to avoid and keep distance from a person)
  • To take up arms (to fight, to go to war)
  • To have an axe to grind (to have some selfish objective in view)
  • Not to know a B from a bull՚s foot (to be ignorant of even the simplest things)
  • A Babel (a confused noise)
  • To break the back of any thing (to perform the most difficult part of it)
  • To get one՚s back up (to rouse one՚s anger)
  • To backbite a person (to slander or speak ill of someone)
  • He has no backbone (he has no will of his own)
  • To cause bad blood (to cause enmity)
  • Bag and baggage (with all one՚s belongings)
  • To keep the ball rolling (to keep things going)
  • Baptism of fire (a soldier՚s first experience of actual war)
  • To call to the bar (to admit as a barrister)
  • Barmecide՚s feast (imaginary benefits)
  • To beat about the bush (to approach a matter in an indirect and round about manner)
  • To be dead beat (worn out by fatigue)
  • Bed and board (lodging and food)
  • As you make your bed, so must lie on it (you will have to bear the consequences of your crimes or your own mistakes or misdeeds)
  • To take to one՚s bed (to have to be confined to bed as a result of sickness)
  • Bee-line (the shortest distance between two places)
  • To go a begging (to be sold very cheaply because no one cares to buy)
  • Behind one՚s back (without one՚s Knowledge)
  • Behind the scenes (in private, out of sight)
  • To bell the cat (to undertake a dangerous task and the enemy is common)
  • To hit below the belt (to act unfairly in a contest)
  • His better half (a man՚s wife)
  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (certainty is better then possibility)
  • An old bird is not to be caught with chaff (experienced people are not easily fooled or deceived)
  • To take the bit between one՚s teeth (to get out of control)
  • To bite the dust (to be defeated in battle)
  • The biter bit (to cheat the cheater)
  • His bark was worse than his bite (he usually makes a lot of vain verbal threats)
  • A wet Blanket (a person who is a discourage)
  • In cold Blood (deliberately)
  • Blood is thicker than water (One usually takes the side of ones relation against another who is not one՚s own blood)
  • To blow hot and cold (to do one think at one time and the opposite soon after)
  • A blue stocking (a learned woman)
  • Once in a blue moon (a very rare occurrence)
  • Blue ribbon (the highest prize in any sport competition)
  • At first Blush (at first sight)
  • In the same boat (in the same misfortune or circumstances)
  • A bolt from the blue (a sudden)
  • A bone of contention (a cause of dispute)
  • A Book-worm (a person always poring over books)
  • By leaps and bounds (with remarkable speed)
  • Breach of promise (failure to keep a promise to marry one of whom you are betrothed)
  • One՚s bread and butter (one՚s means of livelihood)
  • His bread is well butter (he is in fortunate circumstance)
  • The bread winner (one who provides the means of livelihood for himself and his family)
  • To Break in (to tame, to control in a gentle manner)
  • To break the news (to tell someone some important news, usually bad news)
  • To break the ice (to be the first to begin)
  • To breadth one՚s last (to die)
  • To breadth freely again (to be no longer in a fear or anxiety)
  • To make bricks without straw (to attempt to do something without proper materials or due preparations)
  • Never cross the Bridge until you come to it (don՚t anticipate difficulties)
  • It is an broad as it is long (it is the same whichever way you view it)
  • To brow beat (to bully)
  • To kick the bucket (to die)
  • John bull (an Englishman)
  • To burry the hatchet (to forget past quarrels and be friends again)
  • Good wine needs no bush (there is no need to advertise something good)
  • To raise cain (to rebuke severely)
  • To take the cake (to take the first prize)
  • To burn the candle at both ends (to expend energy in two directions at the same time)
  • If the cap fits, wear it (if you think the remarks refer to you)
  • Capitan punishment (the death sentence or penalty)
  • To put the cart before the horse (to do first what ought to be done afterwards)
  • To let the cat out of the bag (to expose the trick)
  • To fight like cats and dog (to be always quarrelling and fighting)
  • Care killed the cat (don՚t fret and worry yourself to death)
  • See which way the cat jumps (sit on fence)
  • To rain cats and dogs (to rain incessantly)
  • He is a cat՚s paw (one used as a to something dangerous)
  • To Catch one՚s eye (to attract attention)
  • To take the chair (to preside a meeting)
  • She is no chicken (she is older than she says)
  • Chicken hearted (weak, timid)
  • don՚t count your chickens before they are hatched (don՚t calculate your gains before they are realized)
  • A chip of the old block (a son resembling his father in face disposition, habits etc.)
  • Hobson՚s choice (no alterative)
  • To pick and choose (to make a careful selection)
  • Every cloud has a silver lining (adverse conditions do not last for ever)
  • To square the circle (to attempt something impossible)
  • Close fisted (mean)
  • To have one՚s head in the cloud (to live in dreamland)
  • To carry coals to New castle (to do any thing superfluous)
  • Cut your cloth according to your cloth (live within your income)
  • A cock and bull story (a foolishly incredible story)
  • To be cock sure (to be absolutely certain)
  • To throw cold water upon anything (to discourage effort)
  • Off color (not in the usual form)
  • To came off with flying color (to succeed brilliantly)
  • To commit to memory (to learn by heart)
  • Too many cooks spoil the broth (when there are more worpkers than necessary)
  • To send to Coventry (to boycott)
  • An admirable Crichton (a very talented person)
  • Crocodile tears (hypocritical tears)
  • By hook or by crook (by fair or foul means)
  • As the crow flies (in a direct line)
  • To take up the cudgels (to champion or flight for someone)
  • To curry favour (to seek favour by flattery)
  • Cut and dried (ready made)
  • To cut a dash (to make an impression)
  • To be at daggers drawn (to be deadly enemies)
  • A dare-devil (a fearless, reckless man)
  • Up to date (recent, modern)
  • Out of date (obsolete)
  • Evil days (a period of misfortune)
  • Halcyon days (A time when there is peace and happiness in the land)
  • To step into dead man՚s shoes (to come into an inheritance)
  • To give the devil his due (give a person credit for his good qualities however worthless he may be)
  • Go to the devil (be off)
  • Devil՚s playthings (playing cards)
  • Devil՚s bones (dice)
  • To be between the devil and the deep sea (to be faced with two dangerous situations, each of which is to be dreaded as much as the other)
  • To be on the horns of dilemma (to in such a position that it is difficult to decide what to do)
  • Give a dog a bad name and hang him (once a person loses his reputation)
  • To be a dog in the manger (to prevent others from using what one can՚t use oneself)
  • Every dog has his day (sooner or later, every one has his share of good fortune)
  • To be in the doldrums (to be in low spirits, to be out of spirits)
  • Ups and downs (varying fortunes; changes and chances of life)
  • To throw dust in one՚s eyes (to try to deceive some one)
  • Dutch courage (bravery induced by alcoholic liquors)
  • Eagle eye (quick to discover; very discerning)
  • A bad egg (a worthless person)
  • don՚t put your eggs in one basket (don՚t stake all your money on a single industry)
  • A white elephant (a useless possession which is extremely expensive to keep)
  • At the eleventh hour (at the last moment)
  • To make both ends meet (to keep expenses within one՚s income)
  • An eye for an eye (tit for tat to return evil for evil; retaliate)
  • Bad faith (dishonest intentions)
  • A breach of faith (to act contrary to what one had professed)
  • To fall out (to quarrel)
  • To fall through (fail)
  • Birds of a feather flock together (people of similar tastes and dis-positions crave each other՚s company)
  • To set the Thames on fire (to do something sensational or remarkable)
  • A burnt child dreads the fire (one who has had a previous unpleasant experience is always scared of situations where such experience are likely to be repeated)
  • A fish out of water (anyone in an awkward)
  • Other fish to fry (more important business to attend to)
  • By fits and starts (spasmodically)
  • Foul play (cheating)
  • To jump from a frying pan into fire (to come out of one trouble and get into a worse)
  • To gain ground (to make progress in any undertaking)
  • To play to the gallery (to endeavour to gain cheap popularity)
  • To give up the ghost (to die)
  • Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones (people who do not live blameless lives should not find fault with others)
  • All that glitters is not gold (things are not always as attractive as they appears)
  • A good for nothing (a worth less person)
  • A good Samaritan (a friend in need)
  • A wild goose chase (a vain attempt)
  • To kill the goose that laid the golden egg (to lose a valuable source of income though greed)
  • To cut a Gordian knot (to solve a difficult problem by adopting bold and drastic measures)
  • From hand to hand (from one person to another)
  • Hard and fast rules (strict rules)
  • Hard to hearing (almost deaf)
  • Back in harness (to resume work after a holiday)
  • To die in harness (to continue at one՚s occupation until death)
  • More haste less speed (work done hurriedly is apt to be badly done)
  • Make hay while the sun shines (take advantage of all opportunities)
  • To be in hot water (to be in trouble or difficulty)
  • To eat an humble pie (to submit oneself to humiliation and insult)
  • To kiss the book (to take an oath in a produce or commodities)
  • To kiss the dust (to be defeated in battle)
  • A laconic speech (a concise)
  • To look to one՚s laurels (to take care not to lose one՚s place)
  • To win laurels (to gain distinction or glory in s contest)
  • To smell of the lamp (to show signs of strenuous preparation for an examination or a speech etc)
  • Look before you leap (think before action)
  • To stand on one՚s own legs (to depend entirely on one՚s own resources)
  • To give the lie to (to prove to be false)
  • To bring to light (to reveal)
  • A Lilliputian (a pygmy)
  • The lion՚s share (the largest part)
  • Lock, stock and barrel (the whole of everything)
  • A Martinet (a very strict disciplinarian)
  • A miss is as good as a mile (comes nowhere near it)
  • To move heaven and earth (to exert all efforts)
  • To hit the nail on the head (to mention the true facts of a case)
  • A stitch in time saves nine (If we give our attention to the little details of life)
  • In a nutshell (Summed up in a few words)
  • Out of temper (angry)
  • To pick to pieces (to analyses critically)
  • The proof of the pudding is in eating (people are judged by their actions)
  • To put down a person (to degrade or humiliate a person)
  • To make a silk purse out of a sow՚s ear (to attempt to accomplish great things with inferior materials)
  • Pyrrhic victory (a victory that is as costly as defeat)
  • To be like a drowned rat (to be soaking wet)
  • Red flag (the symbol of revolution)
  • To be caught red-handed (to be caught in the very act of committing a crime)
  • Red letter-day (a memorable day)
  • Red tape (a team used to describe the delay in attending to matters in government department because the official routine and formality)
  • Rome was not built in a day (it takes time to accomplish anything really worthwhile)
  • To be between Scylla and Charybdis (to be faced with two dangerous alternatives)
  • To see daylight (to begin to understand)
  • A close shave (a narrow escape)
  • A skeleton in the cupboard/the family skeleton (a dreadful domestic secret)
  • By the skin of the teeth (very narrowly)
  • A snake in the grass (an enemy who strikes under cover)
  • A Spartan life (a life of extreme self discipline)
  • To call a spade a spade (to be brutally frank)
  • A rolling stone gathers no moss (unstable people never achieve anything worthwhile)
  • One swallow does not make a summer (it is unreliable to base one՚s conclusions on only a single test or incident)
  • Empty vessels make the most noise (those who know or have little knowledge often shout the loudest)
  • If wishes were horses, beggars might ride (if all people՚s wishes came true every body would be rich)
  • A nine days ′ wonder (an event which relates a sensation for a time but is soon forgotten)
  • Yellow press (newspapers which publish sensational and unscrupulous stories about crime, sex etc.)

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