Idioms & Proverbs Important for CLAT Exam

  1. Penny for your thoughts
Meaning: A way of asking what someone is thinking
  1. No man is an island
Meaning: You can’t live completely independently. Everyone needs help from other people.
  1. Best thing since sliced bread
Meaning: A good invention or innovation. A good idea or plan.
  1. Fortune favours the bold
Meaning: People who bravely go after what they want are more successful than people who try to live safely.
  1. Blessing in disguise
Meaning: Something good that isn’t recognized at first.
  1. Birds of a feather flock together
Meaning: People like to spend time with others who are similar to them.
  1. Curiosity killed the cat
Meaning: Being inquisitive can lead you into an unpleasant situation.
  1. Far cry from
Meaning: Very different from
  1. A friend in need is a friend indeed
Meaning: A friend who helps you out in times of need is a true friend.
  1. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
Meaning: Just work and no recreational activities make a person dull and boring.
  1. Kill two birds with one stone
Meaning: Accomplish two things with one action or effort
  1. If you snooze, you lose
Meaning: You have to act quickly to get the things you want.
  1. All good things must come to an end
Meaning: You can’t keep having good luck or fun forever; eventually it will stop.
  1. Necessity is the mother of invention
Meaning: When you’re really in need, you think of creative solutions to your problems.
  1. Method to my madness
Meaning: An assertion that, despite one’s approach seeming random, there actually is structure to it.
  1. Misery loves company
Meaning: People who are unhappy want to make other people unhappy too.
  1. Familiarity breeds contempt
Meaning: When you’re around someone for too long, you get tired of them and annoyed by them.
  1. Once in a blue moon
Meaning: Happens very rarely.
  1. Wouldn’t be caught dead doing
Meaning: Would never like to do something
  1. Two heads are better than one
Meaning: When two people cooperate with each other, they come up with better ideas.
  1. Rome wasn’t built in a day
Meaning: Doing important work takes a long time. Be patient.
  1. Still waters run deep
Meaning: People who don’t talk a lot sometimes have really interesting thoughts.
  1. The grass is always greener on the other side
Meaning: People tend to want whatever they don’t have.
  1. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link
Meaning: If one member of a team doesn’t perform well, the whole team will fail.
  1. Strike while the iron is hot
Meaning: When you have a good opportunity, go for it.
  1. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
Meaning: Children are very similar to their parents.
  1. There is no such thing as bad publicity
Meaning: When people talk about a business, it’s good for the business, even if they’re saying bad things about it.
  1. You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar
Meaning: To get what you want, be nice to people instead of yelling at them or being mean.
  1. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks
Meaning: Older people don’t change their habits easily.
  1. Accidents will happen in the best regulated families
Meaning: Unforeseen events can happen with anybody.
  1. Appearances are deceptive
Meaning:  Internal truth of a person is usually different from what is visible outside.
  1. You scratch my back, I will scratch yours
Meaning: If you help me then I will help you in return.
  1. As you make your bed, so you must lie in it too
Meaning: Be prepared to face the consequences of your wrong actions.
  1. Once bitten, twice shy
Meaning: From experience, we learn to avoid situation causing trouble or distress.
  1. There is a black sheep in every family
Meaning: One member in every family doesn’t fit into the characteristic of the family.
  1. Think on your feet
Meaning: Adjusting quickly to changes and making fast decisions.
  1. Golden handshake
Meaning: Big sum of money given to a person when they leave a company or retire.
  1. Separate sheep from the goats
Meaning:  Examining a group of people and deciding their suitability
  1. In the country of the blind, the one eyed man is king
Meaning: The person with a little ability in a group of those with absolutely no ability is at an advantage.
  1. Blood is thicker than water
Meaning: Family relationship is stronger than others.
  1. Two blacks don’t make a white
Meaning: You cannot justify something wrong you have done because someone else has also done it.
  1. First out of the gate
Meaning: Being the first one to make a start at something.
  1. Sink your teeth into
Meaning: Doing something with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.
  1. Fish out of water
Meaning: Feeling uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings.
  1. Bee in one’s bonnet
Meaning: Carrying an idea which constantly occupies your thoughts.
  1. Keep a stiff upper lip
Meaning: A person who does not show his emotions
  1. Proud as a peacock
Meaning: An extremely proud person.
  1. Makes your flesh crawl
Meaning: Something that makes you feel disgusting or nervous.
  1. Not turn a hair
Meaning: Not exhibiting any emotion where it is expected.
  1. Cake not worth the candle
Meaning: Something in which result as compared to the efforts are too less.

Few More Just for Revision:
A wild goose chase ; An absurdly hopeless enterprise
A bee in one's bonnet ; Be obsessed with something
A bolt from the blue ; Unexpected
A rainy day ; A time of need
All at sea ; Confused 
A flash in the pan ; A Success that is not repeated
A square peg in a round hole ; an unusual individualist who could not fit into his niche in his/her society
A thorn in the side ; Perpetual source of trouble 
All and sundry ; Everyone without exception
At one's wits end ; Desperate
Arm chair theory ; Impracticable theory
By fits and starts ; Irregularly
Chip of the old block ; Very similar to his father
Have an axe to grind ; Have a selfish purpose 
In the pink of condition ; In a weak condition 
In the doldrums ; Depressing
Keep your hair on ; Think forcefully

Lock Stock and Barrel ; Completely
On the cards ; Probable 
Struck Several Patches ; Had many professional difficulties
Sword of Damocles ; An imminent danger 
To eat humble pie ; To apologise
To be hard up ; To be short of money
To cry wolf ; To give false alarm
To leave one in the lurch ; To desert one in times of difficulty
To spilt hairs ; To make useless distinctions in arguments
To get the sack ; To get dismissed from the job
To take the wind out of one's sails ; To deprive one's argument of all force
To be up to the eyes ; Be very busy
To have a card up one's sleeves ; To have secret plan in reserve
To tread on eggs ; To walk carefully
To tell tales out of school ; Reveal confidential matters 
To give someone apple pie ; To flatter someone 
To burn one's boat ; To take an irreversible decision
To burn the candle at both ends ; To waste money lavishly
To do up ; To make tidy
To catch a tartar ; To fight a strong enemy
To have two strings to one bow ; To have more than one alternative
To have a ball at one's feet ; Have the power to decide something 
To back bite ; To talk behind the back
To die in harness ; To die while still working or active 
To feather one's nest ; To make money through unfair means 
To flog a dead horse ; To waste energy on some already rejected activity 
Wet behind the ears ; Cunning

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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) 
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.)