Popular Expressions Used in the U.S.
safety in numbers: it’s easier to stay safe when in a large group.
Small fish like to swim together because they find there is safety in numbers.
(the) salt of the earth: good people; regular people; normal or average.
The people who live next door to us are the salt of the earth.
saved by the bell: the intervention of time or a machine that allows a person to avoid some sort of responsibility.
Just as the teacher was about to call on Allen to answer a question in class, he was saved by the bell.
save your breath: don’t spend any time trying to persuade another person to do something.
You might as well save your breath when telling a cat "no." Cats don’t really listen to people.
see eye to eye: to agree; to have the same ideas.
They’re unable to see eye to eye on a lot of things, which is why they might break up.
seen one, seen them all: something is not interesting to a person who has already seen that thing.
A: Do you want to take a look at some cows?
B: Nah. Seen one, seen ’em all.
see someone off: to bring someone to a place and say goodbye.
Bill saw his wife off at the airport this morning. She’s traveling to Portland for a meeting.
see through someone: to know exactly what a person is thinking or trying to do.
Theodore doesn’t think anyone knows what he’s planning; however, everyone can see right through him.
sell one’s soul to the devil: to do something evil in order to receive a reward.
There are many people who would sell their soul to the devil in order to be rich and famous.
separate the men from the boys: a situation shows who is a strong man and who isn’t.
The actions that take place during a battle separate the men from the boys.
separate the wheat from the chaff: to sort what is useful and good from what isn’t; to separate what’s useful from what’s useless.
As someone who has been in the same business for the last 20 years, he’s very capable of separating the wheat from the chaff when interpreting a chart.
set one’s heart on (something): to want to do something or receive something; to have a desire.
Tim set his heart on going to the track this weekend to race go-karts.
set one’s mind at rest: to relax in the midst of some problem or challenge.
You can set your mind at rest if you prepare for class by doing all of your homework and listening to your teacher.
(the) shoe is on the other foot: to be someone else’s position, usually a bad situation.
Now that the shoe is on the other foot you can understand why the job of supervisor is so difficult.
shoot the breeze: to sit around and talk with friends.
In the afternoons, they sit in the park and shoot the breeze.
(a) shot in the dark: a guess; to do something without thinking.
The decision to ask out Rachel was a shot in the dark–but she said "yes!"
(the) show must go on: it’s necessary for someone to perform despite any personal problems or obstacles.
Rachel’s throat hurts and she has a headache, but the show must go on.
show someone a good time: to take someone out somewhere; to bring a friend to different places for fun and entertainment.
He showed his friend, Gretchen, a good time when she came to visit him in Minneapolis. They went skating and they went to a few nightclubs.
show someone the door: to tell someone to leave; to make someone leave because of bad behavior or some other reason.
Matt tried to come to work wearing some crappy old clothes, but when his boss saw what he was wearing, he showed him the door.
(Click here to read Matt’s phone conversation with his friend, Wellington.)
signed, sealed, and delivered: something is finished, usually an agreement.
The agreement was signed, sealed, and delivered in less than three days.
sink one’s teeth into something: to eat something that has a lot of flavor, like meat; to participate in an interesting activity.
I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this hamburger.
sit back and relax: relax.
Just sit back and relax. We’ll be at our destination in ten minutes.
sleep on it: make a decision the next day after a good night’s sleep.
He’s not sure what to do about the sale of his company. He’ll need to sleep on it and make a decision tomorrow.
(a) snowball’s chance in hell: no chance; no opportunity.
There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that Ron is going to work this weekend–even if his boss asks him to.
soaked to the bone: very wet.
He got soaked to the bone waiting outside his car for someone to pick him up.
somewhere along the line: sometime during the process of something.
Somewhere along the line, the oil company lost control of its rig. This resulted in a big explosion followed by a massive spill.
speak one’s mind: a person says what he really thinks.
Sheila speaks her mind at times when it isn’t appropriate. That’s why a lot of people don’t like her.
spill the beans: to reveal a secret
We’re having a surprise party this weekend for Julia. Try not to spill the beans.
(the) squeaky wheel gets the grease: the person who complains loudly will get the most attention.
stand on one’s own two feet: to support oneself; to take care of your needs.
Now that he has a good job and a good salary, he’s able to stand on his own two feet. He doesn’t need financial help from his parents any more.
|(the) story of my life: the way things usually happen to me, usually used for something bad.|
(the) straw that broke the camel’s back: another in a series of mistakes make by someone. Usually, this results in the termination of a business or personal relationship.
This is the third mistake that they have made with our bill! This is the straw that broke the camel’s back.
stubborn as a mule: very stubborn; unwilling to do anything or change one’s mind.
My grandmother is as stubborn as a mule. She’ll never go into assisted living.