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  1. 1. IDIOMS Apron strings If one person is tied to another's apron strings, they remain dependent at an age when they should be independent. "All his decisions are influenced by his mother. He's still tied to her apron strings." Ants in one's pants People who have ants in their pants are very restless or excited about something "I wish he'd relax. He's got ants in his pants about something today!" Any port in a storm When you have no choice, any port in a storm refers to a solution you accept, which in normal circumstances you would find unacceptable. "The hotel was substandard, but it was a case of any port in a storm; all the others were full." Away with the fairies To say that someone is away with the fairies means that they are in such a dreamy state that they are not totally in touch with reality and give the impression of being slightly mad. "It's no use trying to explain the problem to her - she's away with the fairies!" Bag of bones To say that someone is a bag of bones means that they are extremely thin. "When he came home from the war he was a bag of bones." Jump on the bandwagon If a person or organization jumps on the bandwagon, they decide to do something when it is already successful or fashionable. "When organic food became popular, certain stores were quick to jump on the bandwagon and promote it." Ring a bell. If something rings a bell, it is vaguely familiar to you, but you can't remember the exact details . "John Bentley? The name rings a bell but I don't remember him." Half an eye If you have or keep half an eye on something, you watch something without giving it your full attention. "She kept half en eye on the tv screen while she was preparing dinner."
  2. 2. Hand in glove Two or more people who are in collusion, or work in close association, are said to be hand in glove. "After the match, it was discovered that he was hand in glove with the referee." Highways and byways If you travel the highways and byways, you take large and small roads to visit every part of a country. "He travelled the highways and byways looking for traces of his ancestors." Make your blood boil If something makes your blood boil, it makes you really angry. "His condescending attitude made my blood boil!" A taste of one's own medicine If you give someone a taste of their own medicine, you treat them in the same unpleasant way that they have treated you. "People who always arrive late should be given a taste of their own medicine." Move heaven and earth To say that you will move heaven and earth means that you are prepared to do everything that is possible in order to obtain or achieve something. "I promise I will move heaven and earth to get a work permit for you." Mum's the word To say "Mum's the word" means that the subject or plan is a secret and must not be revealed. "We're organizing a surprise event on New Year's Eve, so Mum's the word - OK?" Off the record If you say something off the record, you do not want anyone to repeat it publicly. "My comment was made off the record, and shouldn't have been published" Out of the question Something which is out of the question is impossible and is therefore not worth discussing. "Buying a new car is out of the question - we can't afford it." Quaking in one's boots When someone is extremely scared, it is said that they are quaking in their boots. "When he saw the crocodiles in the water, he started quaking in his boots." From rags to riches If you go from rags to riches, you start off being very poor and become very rich and successful "By renovating old houses in the right places, he went from rags to riches." It never rains but it pours This expression is used to comment on the fact that when something bad happens, other bad things often happen too, and make the situation even worse. "First he forgot his briefcase, then he lost his wallet, and when
  3. 3. he reached the car park, his car had been stolen - it never rains but it pours!" Raining cats and dogs If it's raining cats and dogs, it's raining very heavily. "We'll have to cancel the picnic I'm afraid. It's raining cats and dogs." Raise the roof When people raise the roof, they make a lot of noise by cheering, shouting, whistling or clapping their hands. "The concert was such a success, the audience raised the roof." Red carpet To roll out the red carpet means to give special treatment to an important or honoured visitor. The management is going to roll out the red carpet for the visit of the Nobel prize winner. Rob Peter to pay Paul If a person robs Peter to pay Paul, they pay one debt with money borrowed from somewhere else, thus creating another debt. "David borrowed money from a friend to cover his overdraft; a typical case of robbing Peter to pay Paul!" On somebody's tail If you are on somebody's tail, you follow them closely. "The suspect hasn't been arrested yet, but the police are on his tail." Take the law into one's own hands If, instead of calling the police, you act personally against someone who has done something wrong, you take the law into your own hands. "Instead of calling the police, he took the law into his own hands and confronted the youth who had stolen his son's scooter."