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- in the nick of time means “not too late, but very close!”
Example: I got to the drugstore just in the nick of time. It’s a good thing, because I really need this medicine!
- keep one’s chin up means “remain brave and keep on trying”
Example: I know things have been difficult for you recently, but keep your chin up. It will get better soon.
- know something like the back of your hand means “know something very, very well”
Example: If you get lost, just ask me for directions. I know this part of town like the back of my hand
- once in a while means “sometimes, not very often”
Example: Have you been to the new movie theater? No, only see movies once in a while. I usually stay home and watch TV.
- sharp means “exactly at a that time”
Example: I’ll meet you at 9 o’clock sharp. If you’re late, we’ll be in trouble!
- sleep on it means “think about something before making a decision”
Example: That sounds like a good deal, but I’d like to sleep on it before I give you my final decision.
- take it easy means “relax”
Example: I don’t have any special plans for the summer. I think I’ll just take it easy.
- to get the ball rolling means “start something, especially something big”
Example: We need to get this project started as soon as possible. I’m hoping you will help me get the ball rolling.
- up to the minute means “the most recent information”
Example: I wish I knew more about what is happening in the capital city. We need more up to the minute news.
- twenty.four/seven means “every minute of every day, all the time”
Example: You can access our web site 24/7. It’s very convenient!
- all of a sudden means “unexpectedly”, used to describe something that happens very quickly
Example: He had just gone to bed when all of a sudden the phone rang.
- be all ears means “eager and ready to listen”
Example: Go ahead and speak. I’m all ears!
- be fed up with means “to hate something now, even though I may have liked it before”
Example: I’m fed up with my job! I think I should start looking for a new one.
- to bug means “to bother someone”. (American English)
Example: Hey, stop tapping your fingers. It’s really bugging me!
- a cinch means something that is very easy to do
Example: I didn’t think I could run five kilometers, but with the right preparation, it was a cinch.
- cost an arm and a leg means “very expensive”
Example: I’d really like a new car, but they all cost an arm and a leg.
- to cram means “to study hard a few days before a test”
Example: If you had studied hard for the past four months, you wouldn’t have to cram so much this weekend.
- fresh out of something means “to have no more of something”
Example: I have to go buy some more milk. It seems we’re fresh out now.
- to get it (often negative) means “to understand”
Example: What did the teacher say? I didn’t get it. Did you?
- got a minute? means “Do you have time right now?”
Example: Hey, Joe, got a minute? I have something to show you.
- give someone a hand means “help someone”
Example: Could you give me a hand moving this table? It’s quite heavy.
- grab a bite to eat means “quickly go get something to eat”
Example: I’m going to go grab a bite. I’ll be back in a few minutes.
- drive someone up a wall (or “drive someone crazy”) means “to make someone very angry”
Example: My neighbor practices the piano every night, but he’s terrible. It’s driving me up the wall!
- to hang on means “to wait”
Example: Hang on a few minutes. I have to make a phone call and then I’ll be able to join you for lunch.
- hard headed means “stubborn” or “unwilling to change an opinion or idea
Example: I can’t work with Joe any more. He’s so hard headed!
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