Popular Expressions Used in the U.S.
(a) nail in one’s coffin: an activity that is dangerous and brings a person closer to death.
Horatio passed his friend, Bill, a cigarette and said, "Here’s another nail in your coffin."
name the time: decide on a good time to meet.
You want to meet me tonight at Rupert’s Bar? Sure. Just name the time.
(a) needle in a haystack: something is very difficult to find, especially because the size is so small compared to the thing it’s lost in.
Finding my lost house key at the Mall of America is going to be like finding a needle in a haystack.
needless to say: something is obvious; everyone knows this.
Carl wears the same t-shirt every day. Needless to say, he’s not very imaginative when it comes to clothing.
never give a sucker an even break: if you can fool someone, don’t give him a fair chance to gain something back, such as money.
After winning over $1000 in a poker game, Lou was asked if he’d like to play again next week. He replied, "Sorry, never give a sucker an even break."
never hear the end of it: people will talk about a situation again and again; something kind of bad happens and everyone knows it.
If his girlfriend beats him at pool, he’ll never hear the end of it from her.
(a) new lease on life: a new opportunity to live one’s life.
After surviving a heart attack, he feels like he has a new lease on life.
(a) new man: a good feeling that comes from a change to one’s appearance or from a beneficial experience.
With a shave and a haircut, Dennis will feel like a new man.
nip it in the bud: to stop something before it starts.
Jennifer is in love with a guy who spent time in prison for robbery. Her father is going to try to nip that relationship in the bud.
no can do: I can’t do something; something isn’t possible.
A: Can I borrow $20?
B: Sorry. No can do. I don’t get paid until next week.
no hard feelings: it’s okay; I’m not feeling any anger towards you.
Okay, I understand why you don’t want to work with our company any more. There are no hard feelings.
no ifs, ands, or buts: no excuses; something must be done.
This report must be finished by this afternoon–no ifs, ands, or buts.
no love lost: hatred; a bad relationship hasn’t gotten better.
There’s been no love lost between them after all these years. They still dislike each other.
no man is an island: you can’t be totally independent of other people; everyone needs help at sometime in his or her life.
Rob attributes all of his success to himself and no one else, but no man is an island.
none of your business: don’t ask questions about something that doesn’t concern you.
When Sarah was asked to name the man who got her pregnant, she said, "It’s none of your business."
no news is good news: if nothing has changed and you don’t hear anything from anyone, then everything must be okay.
A: I wonder if their plane arrived safely in Miami.
B: No news is good news.
no pain, no gain: you have to work hard in order to receive some kind of a benefit. (this expression originates with the sport of weightlifting.)
You’re going to have to spend more hours every week studying English if you want to improve. I know it’s difficult, but no pain, no gain.
no sweat: no problem.
A: Can you help me move this couch?
B: Sure, no sweat.
no strings attached: no conditions are set upon receiving a benefit; you can get something for free or for a very low cost.
This website is completely free. There are no strings attached.
not bad: okay; good.
A: Do you like the appetizer?
B: Yeah, it’s not bad.
not for all the tea in China: no; no way; something is not agreed to.
She won’t marry the man her parents chose for her for all the tea in China.
nothing ventured, nothing gained: if you don’t try to do something, you will never realize the benefit; it’s necessary to take risks and chances.
When Reza’s friends warned her of the risks of opening a bakery, she replied, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."
not if you paid me: I do not want to do this; under no circumstances will I agree.
You couldn’t make me wake up early if you paid me.
no time like the present: the time to do something is right now.
Rather than wait until tomorrow to plan our trip, we should do it now. There’s no time like the present.
not the only fish in the sea: not the only person available for a relationship.
Julie thinks she’s hot, but she’s not the only fish in the sea.
not too shabby: pretty good (This expression is usually used as an understatement.)
Wow! Look at that Ferrari! Not too shabby.
no use crying over spilled milk: it’s not a good idea to get mad or angry about something that has happened in the past; what’s done is done.
Don’t worry about the car. It was just a little accident. Besides, there’s no use crying over spilled milk.
nuts and bolts: essential parts; the necessary pieces of something.
Vince might not know everything about how a computer operates, but at least he understands the nuts and bolts.