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Essential Idioms Lessons 17-20



This comes from a pdf file that I found online. I own the 5th Edition of a book called Essential Idioms in English--Phrasal Verbs and Collocations. The book I own has 39 lessons and in addition to the idioms and their definitions and examples using the targeted idioms, there are exercises. Each Lesson features two sets of exercises. The lessons are grouped into Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. The book was written by Robert . This book was introduced to me by Belinda.


LESSON 17

to blow out:to explode, to go flat (for tires); to extinguish by blowing (S)

o On our trip to Colorado, one of the car tires blew out when it hit a large hole in the road.

o Little Joey wasn't able to blow all the candles out, so his big sister helped him.

to become of:to happen to (a missing object or person) This idiom is always used in a clause beginning with what.<<

o What has become of my pencil? I had it ten minutes ago, but now I can't find it.

o I wondered what became of you. I looked around the shopping center for two hours, but I couldn't find you at all.

to shut up:to close for a period of time (S); to be quiet, to stop talking The second definition of this idiom is impolite in formal situations.

o During the hurricane, all the store owners shut their shops up.

o Bob's sister told him to shut up and not say anything more about it.

o The student got into big trouble for telling his teacher to shut up.

have got:to have, to possess

o Curtis has got a bad cold. He's sneezing and coughing a lot.

o How much money have you got with you right now?

have got to: must (also: have to)

o She has got to go to Chicago today to sign the contract papers.

o I have to be back home by two o'clock or my wife will feel ill at ease.

to keep up with:to maintain the same speed or rate as

o Frieda works so fast that no one in the office can keep up with her.

o You'll have to walk more slowly. I can't keep up with you.

on the other hand: however, in contrast

o Democracies provide people many freedoms and privileges. On the other hand, democracies suffer many serious problems such as crime and unemployment.

o My sister takes after my father in appearance. On the other hand, I take after my mother.


to turn down:to reduce in brightness or volume (S); to reject, to refuse (S)

o Please turn down the radio for me. It's too loud while I'm studying.

o Laverne wanted to join the military but the recruiting officer turned her application down because Laverne is hard of hearing in one ear.

fifty-fifty:divided into two equal parts

o Let's go fifty-fifty on the cost of a new rug for our apartment.

o The political candidate has a fifty-fifty chance of winning the election. T+

o break in: gradually to prepare something for use that is new and stiff (S); to interrupt (for the second definition, also: to cut in)

o It is best to break a new car in by driving it slowly for the first few hundred miles.

o While Carrie and I were talking, Bill broke in to tell me about a telephone call.

o Peter, it's very impolite to cut in like that while others are speaking.

a lost cause: a hopeless case, a person or situation having no hope of positive change.

o It seems that Charles will never listen to our advice. I suppose it's a lost cause.

o The police searched for the missing girl for two weeks, but finally gave it up as a lost cause.

o Children who have committed several crimes as teenagers and show no sorrow about their actions are generally lost causes.


above all:mainly, especially

o Above all, don't mention the matter to Gerard; he's the last person we should tell.

o Sheila does well in all her school subjects, but above all in mathematics. Her math scores are always over 95 percent.

LESSON 18

to do without: survive or exist without something (also: to go without) With prices so high now, I'll have to do without a new suit this year.

o As a traveling salesperson, Monica can't do without a car.

o It's a shame that so many poor people in the world have to go without basic necessities of life such as nutritious food and suitable shelter.

according to:in the order of; on the authority of

o The students on the football team were ranked according to height, from shortest to tallest.

o According to my dictionary, you are using that word in your essay incorrectly.


to be bound to:to be certain to, to be sure to This idiom is used when the occurrence of an event seems inevitable or unavoidable.

o We are bound to be late if you don't hurry up.

o With the economy improving now, their business is bound to make more money this year.

for sure:without doubt (also: for certain)

o In the dark, I couldn't tell for sure whether it was Polly or Sarah who drove by.

o I now for certain that Gene will move back to Washington next month.

to take for: to perceive or understand as (S) This idiom is usually used when someone is mistakenly perceived. A noun or pronoun must separate the idiom.

o Because of his strong, muscular body, I took him for a professional athlete. As it turns out, he doesn't play any professional sports.

o What do you take me for --- a fool? I don't believe what you're saying at all.

to try out: to test, to use during a trial period (S)

o You can try out the new car before you decide to buy it.

o I can let you try the computer out for a few days before you make a decision.

to tear down:to destroy by making flat, to demolish (S) o The construction company had to tear down the old hotel in order to build a new office building. o The owners had to tear the house down after it burned down in a fire.

to tear up:to rip into small pieces (S)

o Diedre tore up the letter angrily and threw all the pieces into the trash can.

o He told the lawyer to tear the old contract up and then to prepare a new one.

to go over:to be appreciated or accepted This idiom is usually followed by the adverb well. (I Lesson 6 this idiom has the meaning to review, as in the second sentence of the second example below.)

o The teacher's organized lessons always go over well with her students.

o The comedian's jokes weren't going over well; the audience wasn't laughing much at all. I think that the comedian should go over his material more carefully before each act.

to run out of:to exhaust the supply of, not to have more of o We ran out of gas right in the middle of the main street in town.

o It's dangerous to run out of water if you are in an isolated area.

at heart: basically, fundamentally This idiom is used to describe the true character of a person. o James sometimes seems quite unfriendly, but at heart he's a good person.

o The Fares often don't see eye to eye, but at heart they both love each other very much. about to: ready to, just going to o We were about to leave the house when the phone rang.

o I'm sorry that I broke in. What were you about to say?

LESSON 19

to bite off:to accept as a responsibility or task This idiom is often used when one accepts more responsibility than one can handle alone. It is usually used in the form to bite off more than one can chew.

o When I accepted the position of chairman, I didn't realize how much I was biting off.

o When James registered for 18 units in his last semester at college, he bit off more than he could chew.

to tell apart: to distinguish between (also: to pick apart, to tell from) (S)

o The two brothers look so much alike that few people can tell them apart.

o That copy machine is so good that I can't pick the photocopy and the original apart.

o Most new cars are very similar in appearance. It's almost impossible to tell one from another.


all in all:considering everything

o There were a few problems, but all in all it was a well-organized seminar.

o Leonard got a low grade in one subject, but all in all he's a good student.

to pass out: to distribute (also: to hand out) (S); to lose consciousness The verbal idiom to hand out can be made into the noun handout to refer to items that are distributed in a class or meeting.

o Please help me pass out these test papers; there must be a hundred of them.

o Alright, students, here are the class handouts for this week.

o The weather was so hot in the soccer stadium that some of the fans in the stands passed out.

to go around:to be sufficient or adequate for everyone present; to circulate, to move from place to place

o We thought that we had bought enough food and drink for the party, but actually there wasn't enough to go around.

o There's a bad strain of influenza going around


to be in (the/one's) way:to block or obstruct; not to be helpful, to cause inconvenience (for both, also: to get in the/one's way)

o Jocelyn couldn't drive through the busy intersection because a big truck was in the way.

o Our small child tried to help us paint the house, but actually he just got in our way.


to put on:to gain (pounds or weight) (S); to present, to perform (S)

o Bob has put on a lot of weight recently. He must have put at least fifteen pounds on.

o The Youth Actor's Guild put on a wonderful version of Romeo and Juliet at the globe Theater.

to put up: to tolerate, to accept unwillingly

o The employee was fired because his boss could not put up with his mistakes any longer.

o While I'm studying, I can't put up with any noise or other distractions.

in vain:useless, without the desired result

o All the doctors' efforts to save the injured woman were in vain. She was declared dead three hours after being admitted to the hospital.

o We tried in vain to reach you last night. Is your phone out of order? day in and day out: continuously, constantly (also: day after day; for longer periods of time,

year in and year out= year after year

o During the month of April, it rained day in and day out.

o Day after day I waited for a letter from him, but one never came.

o Year in and year out, the weather in San Diego is the best in the nation.

to catch up: to work with the purpose of fulfilling a requirement or being equal to others The idiom is often followed by the preposition with and a noun phrase. It is similar in meaning to keep up with from Lesson 17.

o The student was absent from class so long that it took her a long time to catch up.

o If you are not equal to others, first you have to catch up with them before you can keep up with them.


Lesson 20

to hold still:not to move (S)

o Please hold still while I adjust your tie. o If you don't hold that camera still, you'll get a blurred picture.

to know by sight:to recognize (S) This idiom is used when the person has been seen previously but is not known personally. The person must be used to separate the idiom.

o I have never met our new neighbors; I simply know them by sight.

o The woman said that she would know the thief by sight if she ever saw him again.

to be the matter:to be unsatisfactory, to be improper, to be wrong In a question, this idiom is used with what or something. In an answer, something or nothing is usually used.

o A: What is the matter, Betty? You look very upset.

o B: Yes, something is the matter. I've lost my purse!

o A: Is something the matter, Charles? You don't look well.

o B: No, nothing is the matter. I'm just a little under the weather.

to bring up:to rear, to raise from childhood (S); to mention, to raise an issue, to introduce a topic (S)

o Parents should bring up their children to be responsible members of society.

o Sarah wanted to bring the scheduling problem up at the club meeting, but finally she decided against doing so.

o One of the students brought up an interesting point related to the subject in our textbook.

to get lost: to become lost; to go away in order not to bother The second definition provides a very informal, even rude, meaning that should be used only with close friends. It is sometimes used in a joking manner.

o While driving in Boston, we got lost and drove many miles in the wrong direction.

o Todd kept bothering me while I was studying, so I told him to get lost.

o Lisa joked that she wanted her sister to get lost forever.

to hold up:to delay, to make late (S); to remain high in quality

o A big accident held up traffic on the highway for several hours.

o Deidre is amazed at how well her car has held up over the years.

to run away: to leave without permission; to escape

o The young couple ran away and got married because their parents wouldn't permit it.

o That cat is just like a criminal --- it runs away from anyone who tries to come near!

to rule out:to refuse to consider, to prohibit (S)

o Heather ruled out applying to college in Texas because she would rather go to school in Canada.

o I'd like to watch a good movie on TV tonight, but a ton of homework rules that out.

by far:by a great margin, clearly

o Jacquie is by far the most intelligent student in our class.

o This is by far the hottest, most humid summer we've had in years.


to see off:to say good-bye upon departure by train, airplane, bus, etc. (also: to send off) (S) A noun or pronoun must divide the idiom.

o We are going to the airport to see Peter off on his trip to Europe.

o When I left for Cincinnati on a business trip, no one came to the train station to send me off.


to see out:to accompany a person out of a house, building, etc. (S) A noun or pronoun must again divide the idiom.

o The Johnsons were certain to see their guests out as each one left the party.

o Would you please see me out to the car? It's very dark outside.


no wonder:it's no surprise that, not surprisingly This idiom derives form reducing it is no wonder that…

o No wonder the portable heater doesn't work. It's not plugged into the electrical outlet!

o Jack has been out of town for several weeks. No wonder we haven't seen him recently.

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