The university of birmingham harperCollins Publishers


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die with your boots on

kick the bucket

pop your clogs

it's curtains

push up the daisies

dead as a dodo/doornail

dead as mutton

at death's door

like death warmed up/over

a living death

die like a dog

bite the dust (2)

come to a bad/sticky end

end it all

buy the farm

drop like flies (1)

one foot in the grave

give up the ghost

over the hill

have a good innings (2)

blow someone to kingdom


on your last legs fight for your life a fight for life put someone out of their

misery (2)

put something out of its

misery (3) below par (2) under par be past it

be getting past it dead men tell no tales hang by a thread (2) be/live on borrowed time turn up your toes in the wars under the weather go west not long for this world


25. Expectation and likelihood

out of the blue a bolt from the blue a bolt out of the blue feel something in your bones have a feeling in your bones in/on the cards castles in the air castles in Spain not a cat in hell's chance not a snowball's chance in hell not have a chance in hell not count your chickens don't count your chickens before they're hatched

just around the corner

on course for

it's early days

it's early in the day

someone's days are


dollars to doughnuts flash in the pan hang over your head the smart money (1) ask for the moon cry for the moon like looking for a needle in a


on the off-chance

par for the course

pigs might fly

when pigs fly

not have a prayer

chase rainbows

read the runes

be a shoo-in

a long shot

out of a clear blue sky

the calm/lull before the


straws in the wind in the wind

26. Limitations and restrictions

out of bounds set in concrete

a sacred cow the dos and don'ts forbidden fruit the glass ceiling have your hands full your hands are full your hands are tied have your hands tied something ties your hands

you can lead a horse to

water but you can't make

him drink off limits cross the line draw the line a fine/narrow/thin line overstep the mark beyond the pale allow/give someone free rein keep a tight rein on someone

keep someone on a tight rein

bend/stretch the rules

trim your sails

with no strings attached

without strings

with strings (attached)

cramp someone's style

step/tread on someone's toes

over the top

clip someone's wings

27. Happiness

float/walk on air roll in the aisles full of beans bright as a button bright-eyed and bushy-tailed

cakes and ale grin like a Cheshire cat

like the cat that got the cream

like the cat that ate the

canary on cloud nine

in clover

make someone's day (1) feel like a million dollars laugh like a drain grin/smile from ear to ear in your element let your hair down rub your hands happy as a clam/lark/ sandboy

happy as a pig in muck happy as Larry kick up your heels

at home (1)

life is a bowl of cherries

(the land of) milk and honey

over the moon

tickled pink

a ray of sunshine

everything is coming up


look on the bright side sunny side up with your tail up have a whale of a time on top of the world


28. Sadness

a wet blanket (1) not a happy bunny in the doldrums (2) (down) in the dumps (1) at a low ebb at your lowest ebb a long face

break your heart

a broken heart

cry your heart out

it's no use crying over spilt


down in the mouth at rock bottom

hit/reach rock bottom a shoulder to cry on cry on someone's shoulder wailing/weeping and gnashing of teeth

get on top of you

29. Trouble and difficulty

overturn/upset the applecart

have your back to the wall

a baptism of fire

a double bind

bite off more than you can


a stumbling block like getting blood out of a

stone/turnip rock the boat

bear the brunt of something on the bubble put/set the cat among the

pigeons a Catch 22

chicken and egg (2) (when) the chips are down a vicious circle in a (tight) corner box/paint someone into a


count the cost

up shit creek

up the creek (without a

paddle) a cross to bear

throw someone a curve (ball) curve balls

plumb the depths (3) in Dutch

the eye of the storm up to the eyeballs (2) blow up in your face explode in your face the fat is in the fire get your fingers burned burn your fingers

the fly in the ointment put your foot in it put your foot in your mouth out of the frying pan into the


add fuel to the fire/flames the genie is out of the bottle let the genie out of the bottle an own goal up a gum tree hang someone out to dry be/get in over your head go through hell put someone through hell play (merry) hell (with


there'll be (merry) hell to pay through/to hell and back hole-in-the-corner hole-and-corner in a hole need something like a hole in

the head

stir up a hornet's nest like trying to nail jell-0 to the


a Gordian knot not have a leg to stand on dead meat

go/put through the mill a millstone around your


have a monkey on your back a mountain to climb a tall order growing pains a Pandora's box

be no picnic

jump the rails

a bumpy/rough ride

between a rock and a hard


a hard/tough row to hoe in deep shit in the shit

the shit hits the fan on the skids your ass in a sling in the soup put/throw a spanner in the

works put a spoke in someone's


on the spot (3) in a cleft stick clutch/grasp at straws a drowning man will clutch at

a straw

in Queer Street like pulling teeth teething problems/troubles in deep/hot water fish in troubled waters make waves a tangled web (bat) on a sticky wicket swing/twist in the wind out of the woods have your work cut out a bag/can of worms throw a (monkey) wrench into the works

go through the wringer be put through the wringer

cost an arm and a leg

live off the backs of someone

break the bank

laugh/cry all the way to the


not have a bean tighten your belt foot the bill

take a bite out of something in the black

bleed someone dry/white on the block hold/keep body and soul

together a brass farthing bread and butter (1) on the breadline a cash cow a fat cat

not a/one red cent a blank cheque chicken feed (1) call/cash in your chips take someone to the cleaners cut your cloth cut your coat according to

your cloth

the colour of someone's money earn a crust save for a rainy day down and out (1) down the drain (2) go Dutch a Dutch treat make ends meet through the floor

a fool and his money are

soon parted fool's gold a small fortune strike gold

a gravy train

under the hammer

hand over fist

(live from) hand-to-mouth

pass the hat (around)

keep your head above water

live high on the hog

blow a hole in something (2)

burn a hole in your pocket

in the hole

bring home the bacon (1)

draw/pull in your horns

bleed red ink

keep up with the Joneses

make a killing

live like a king

in the lap of luxury

a licence to print money

there's no such thing as a free

lunch a meal ticket have money to burn money for old rope money for jam money talks the smart money (2) spend money like water throw good money after bad throw money at something/

someone not have a cent/penny to your


feather your nest a nest egg pay through the nose for

something pay over the odds grease someone's palm if you pay peanuts, you get

monkeys pinch pennies rob Peter to pay Paul

feel the pinch

dig deep (into your pocket)

out of pocket

line your pockets

poor as a church mouse

a mess of pottage

at a price (1)

everyone has their price

every man has his price

hold the purse strings

loosen/tighten the purse

strings quids in rags to riches riches to rags bet the ranch a king's ransom in the red into the red out of the red rich as Croesus strike it rich

highway/daylight robbery go through the roof (1) hit the roof(1) (the love of) money is the

root of all evil not have two nickels/pennies

to rub together when your ship comes in put your shirt on something lose your shirt on a shoestring skid row on the slate

wipe the slate clean (2) a clean slate for a song pick up the tab (down) on your uppers keep the wolf from the door


31. Self-importance and humiliation

airs and graces

put on airs (and graces)

a fallen angel

get too big for your

boots/britches cap in hand hold court eat crow

egg on your face egg all over your face laugh on the other side of

your face lose face

have feet of clay clay feet fall from grace the moral high ground

hat in hand

go to your head

get on your high horse

come down off your high


all mouth and (no) trousers shoot your mouth off (1) look down your nose at


rub someone's nose in it rub someone's nose in the

dirt knock someone off their

pedestal bring/take someone down a

peg or two hoist by your own petard

eat humble pie

put someone in their place

swallow your pride

cut someone down to size

a slap on the wrist

make someone feel/look

small knock the stuffing out of

someone with your tail between your


a (little) tin god blow your own trumpet take the wind out of

someone's sail(s) eat your words come down in the world

32. Drinking

hit the bottle out of your box Dutch courage drunk as a skunk drink like a fish

a hair of the dog (that bit


put hairs on your chest down the hatch

go to your head (2)

off your head (2)

out of your head/skull (2)

raise hell (1)

high as a kite

pissed as a newt

three sheets to/in the wind

sober as a judge

drown your sorrows

drink someone under the

table on the tiles out of your tree on the wagon fall off the wagon wet your whistle the worse for wear

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