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American Expressions H

half a loaf is better than none: it’s better to have something–or half of something–than nothing.

loaf of bread

handle with kid gloves: be very careful, especially when talking with an emotionally sensitive person.

You have to handle her with kid gloves. She’s very sensitive.

hand over fist: to make something (used usually with money) very quickly.

He’s making money hand over fist as a lawyer.

(the) handwriting is on the wall: It’s easy to see that something is true or something is very possible in the future.

The handwriting is on the wall for newspapers. The rise of the internet will continue to cause many of them to go out of business.

hang in there: don’t quit; keep working on something despite the difficulty.

Helen doesn’t like her new boss very much, but she’s going to hang in there anyway because she’s been with the company for such a long time.

hang in the balance: to be between success and failure.

Aquatic and plant life hang in the balance along the Gulf Coast after the giant oil spill.

hanging by a thread: something has very little support; weakness.

After the hurricane, the family was left hanging by a thread with only the clothes on their backs and a small amount of food.

a hard act to follow: a very impressive person, act, performance, etc. comes before someone else who might not be as impressive.

No one wants to give their speech after John. He’s a very hard act to follow.

have a big mouth: to talk loudly; to talk without considering the consequences of what is said.

If you tell Joe what I said about Linda’s pregnancy, he’ll tell everyone. He has a big mouth.

have a good command of (something): to understand something well; to be good at a particular skill.

She has a good command of the English language.

have a good thing going: to have a good relationship or situation (job, business, living arrangement)

Luis and Maranda have a good thing going. They’re probably going to get married.

have got another thing coming: to experience the opposite reaction of what a person expects will happen.

Bill thinks he did the right thing by selling his car to save money on gas and other expenses, but when his wife finds out what he did, he‘s got another thing coming.

have one’s head in the clouds: to daydream; to think about things that are not true in reality.

She thinks she’s going to be rich someday. Considering her grades in school, she has her head in the clouds.

have one’s heart in the right place: to have good intentions. (This is often used when someone makes a bad decision but means to do well.)

He’s not very helpful, but he has his heart in the right place.

hide one’s head in the sand: to pretend that something is not true.

It’s better to face reality than to hide your head in the sand.

high as a kite: drunk or on drugs.

He came to the party high as a kite.

hit the nail on the head: to be very accurate; to be correct.

A: The problem with your car could be with the alternator.

B: Really? Oh, yeah. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.

hit the ground running: to be prepared and ready to work.

Their business hit the ground running and was profitable within a year.

hit the jackpot: to make a lot of money; to make a lucky decision.

She hit the jackpot when she married Richard.

hold a gun to one’s head: to force someone to do something (often used with the negative)

She wants her boyfriend to go to her sister’s wedding with her, but she’s not going to hold a gun to his head.

hope springs eternal: there’s always hope; human beings have always prayed or hoped for things to be okay in the future.

He wants to win the lottery. Hope springs eternal.

hot dog: wow!

We’re going to the state fair?! Hot dog!

How’s that?: What did you say? I didn’t understand what you said.

How’s that? I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.

hurry up and wait: hurry or rush to do something but then wait.

Yeah, you can run to the elevator and push the buttons, but all you’re going to do is hurry up and wait for the elevator to come.

 

 

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