The university of birmingham harperCollins Publishers

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0 not take no for an answer

If someone won't take no for an answer, they go on trying to make you agree to something, even though you have already refused.

0 Five reporters who wouldn't take no for an answer entered U.S. quarters without authorization. 0 Cerry, whose persistence has been known to wear down the resistance of many executives, refused to take no for an answer. 0 She told me that she had, of course, refused, but that he wouldn't seem to take no for an answer. He kept pressing her.


lnqtej In card games such as poker, the ante is the amount of money which each player must place on the table before the game begins.

Oup the ante (1) raise the ante

In a dispute or contest, if you up the ante or raise the ante, you increase the demands that you are making or the risks that you are taking, which means that your eventual losses or gains will be greater.

0 He relished NATO's political give and take, and fought over every word, sometimes upping the ante so as to get a better compromise. C3 These judges have raised the ante by challenging the authority of Chief justice Rehnquist, whose position makes him the top judicial spokesman on changes in federal court procedures. 0 Whenever they reached their goal, they upped the ante, setting increasingly complex challenges for themselves.

up the ante (2) raise the ante

If you are gambling or investing money in something and you up the ante or raise the

ante, you increase the value of the stake or investment you are offering. O Its network television division upped the ante by paying an estimated $2 million a year for an overall deal. H My defeat came when I was unable to persuade my backer to raise the ante.


go ape

go ape crazy

go apeshit

If someone goes ape or goes ape crazy, they start

to behave in an uncontrolled or irrational way, for

example because they are very excited or very

angry about something. [INFORMAL]

n The crowd went ape. 0 Is he never tempted to

break away, to go ape for a period? O You don't get

the chance to go ape crazy.

• You can also say that someone goes apeshit.


0 If we mentioned heroin she would literally go


[NOTE! People who behave in a violent or uncontrolled way are being compared with apes.


0 whet someone's appetite

If something whets your appetite for a particular

thing, it increases your desire for that thing or other similar things. You can also say that something whets the appetite. Some people use the verb 'wet' instead of 'whet' in this expression, but it is generally considered incorrect.

0 Winning the World Championship should have whetted his appetite for more success. 0 Her appetite already whetted by the book, she took a trip to England. 0 The series is entertaining, and it certainly whets the appetite.

INOTJE) To whet a knife means to sharpen it.


the apple of your eye

If you say that someone is the apple of your eye, you mean that you are very fond of them. 0 / was the apple of my father's eye. O Penny's only son was the apple of her eye.

\ NOTE I In the past, the pupil in the eye was sometimes called the apple.

0 a bad apple a rotten apple a bad apple spoils the barrel

If you refer to someone as a bad apple or as a rotten apple, you mean that they are very dishonest, immoral, or unpleasant, and that they have a bad influence on the people around them. D /t'x an opportunity for them to make clear that they are not going to tolerate a bad apple in the United States Senate. 0 In any profession, there's always the rotten apple, isn't there.

People talk about a bad apple spoiling the barrel or a rotten apple spoiling the barrel

when they are talking particularly about the bad influence which the person has. This expression is very variable.

D Let's be positive, not negative. One bad apple doesn't spoil the barrel.

لنكن إيجابيين لا سلبيين، فلا يمكن لجيفة أن تعكّر البحر.

0 He says there are some rotten apples in our security barrel.

[NOTE] If a rotten apple is stored with good apples, it causes the good ones to rot.


upset the applecart overturn the applecart

If someone or something upsets the applecart or overturns the applecart, they do something which causes trouble or which spoils a satisfactory situation.

0 / would not tolerate someone upsetting the applecart and, if necessary, they would have to be removed from the decision-making process. 0 Their acquisition of nuclear arms could upset the whole Asian applecart. 0 She still has the power to overturn the applecart by the sheer force of her personality and vocabulary.


in apple-pie order

If someone says that everything is in apple-pie

order, they mean that everything in a place is very neat, tidy, and well-organized. [OLD-FASHIONED]

0 Apart from the scaffolding and plastic sheeting that still remained, they found everything in apple-pie order. 0 On the upper deck everything was very much in apple pie order.

I NOTE I This expression is perhaps derived from the French for 'from head to foot', referring originally to a well-kept suit of armour or military uniform.


apples and oranges

If you say that two things are apples and oranges

or that comparing them is like comparing apples with oranges, you are pointing out that these things are completely different in every respect, and so it is pointless to try to compare them. [mainly AMERICAN]

0 / think you're talking apples and oranges, and I don't think you can really look at it as an equity issue. 0 To compare one with the other is to make the mistake we were all warned about in third grade, not to compare apples with oranges.


apron strings (1)

If you say that someone is tied to their mother's apron strings, you are criticizing them for remaining dependent at an age when they should be independent. If someone cuts the apron strings, they become independent from their mother.

1-1 When we think about times we have felt close to our mothers, hasn 't some of that enhanced our growth rather than tying us tighter to their apron strings? 0 There is no doubting that he and his mother will remain as close as ever, even if the apron strings have lengthened. 0 At 21,1 was still living the life I'd been living when I was 15. I just had to get away from that, to cut those apron strings.

apron strings (2)

If you say that one country or institution is tied to another's apron strings, you mean that the first country or institution is controlled by the second when you think it should be independent. It they cut the apron strings, they become independent from the other country or institution.

H Today few big pension funds remain tied by company apron strings. 0 The Prime Minister has the rough outline of a blueprint for Australia as an independent nation, free of British apron-strings.

[NQTEJ These expressions were originally used to refer to a child, particularly a boy, who remained too much under the influence of his mother at an age when he should have become independent.


'Grey' is usually spelled 'gray' in Amercan English.

0 a grey area

If you refer to something as a grey area, you mean that it is unclear, or that it does not fall into a specific category of things, so that nobody knows how to deal with it properly. 0 The court action to decide ownership of Moon Shadow has highlighted the many grey areas in the law affecting stolen animals. 0 Tabloid papers in England have reached a stage where sportsmen must either be painted as heroes or villains. There is no grey area in between. '"S There is always going to be a gray area. No commander who has ever fought a battle was completely sure of victory on the eve of that battle.


out of the ark go out with the ark

If you say that something is out of the ark, you

are complaining in a light-hearted way that it is very old-fashioned and outdated. [BRITISH]

l-l Its steering was simply dreadful and its cramped-up short-arm driving position was straight out of the ark. H Your radio series must have come out of the ark, where did you find all those awful old jokes? • You can say that something went out with the ark when you want to say that it is completely outdated.

0 You know tyres are made from oil, they're not made from rubber any more; that went out with the


n^OTg] According to the Bible, the ark was the boat in which Noah and his family survived the flood.

arm 0 at arm's length (1)

If you keep someone at arm's length, you avoid

being friendly with them or getting emotionally involved with them.

0 Brian felt more guilt than grief. He'd tried to get close, but his father had kept him at arm's length 0 After years of keeping foreign companies at arm s length, France is pulling them into its embrace. 0 This time he was not entertaining us or holding us at arm's length, but unreservedly disclosing himself.

at arm's length (2)

You can say that one person or organization is at arm's length from another when they are not closely connected, for example because it would be improper for them to influence one another. 0 The prison service is moving towards becoming a self-regulating agency at arm's length from government. 0 Relations between the bank and the committee will be at arm's length until the report is delivered in July.

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chance your arm

If you chance your arm, you do something risky or daring in order to get something you want [BRITISH]

0 Sport is about going out and giving it your best shot, chancing your arm for glory. What is there to be frightened about? 0 Instead of going on the dole I chanced my arm on a business.

cost an arm and a leg

If you say that something costs an arm and a leg,

you are emphasizing that it costs a lot of money. Verbs such as 'pay', 'spend', and 'charge' are sometimes used instead of 'cost'. 0 It cost us an arm and a leg to get here. But it has been worth every penny and more. 0 Generally, their experience of restaurants confirmed all the worst tourist horror stories: indifferent pub lunches of chicken and chips or equally unappetising pasta restaurants charging an arm and a leg.

give your right arm

If you say that you would give your right arm for

something or to do something, you are emphasizing that you want it a lot, and you would do almost anything to get it. 0 / have had an extraordinarily lucky career, playing a good many of the parts that any self-respecting actress would like to play. There are not many parts I would give my right arm for. 0 / can do nothing but think about my ex-husband. I would give my right arm to be able to start again.

I NOTE I Most people are right-handed, and so consider their right arm to be more important than their left.

put the arm on someone

If you put the arm on someone, you try to force

them to do what you want. [AMERICAN]

0 You got Cotter to put the arm on Lillian. You guys

cut a deal so that Lillian gives up something.

n Women like you are not only writing checks, but

you're putting the arm on other people to give as


twist someone's arm

If you say that someone is twisting your arm to

make you do something, you mean that they are

trying hard to persuade you to do it.

0 / had to twist their arm to get them to start

working with me, but once they did, it went well

from there. 0 / didn't twist your arm to make you

come. You wanted to because you sensed a story.

• You can also talk about arm-twisting.

D He borrowed 70 per cent of the dividend-money

from his banks, after some arm-twisting.


0 up in arms

If someone is up in arms about something, they are very angry about it and are protesting strongly. O More than one million shopkeepers are up in arms against the new minimum tax. They are threatening a day's closure in protest. H This is a very delicate situation. Frank feels he has been publicly humiliated, and his sponsors are up in arms. 0 Politicians from both sides of the House were up

in arms at her strongest ever criticism of £U attempts to unite Europe.

{NOTE) 'Arms' in this expression means weapons.

0 with open arms (1)

If you greet or welcome someone with open arms, you show that you are very pleased to see them or meet them.

0 We got out of the trucks to greet them with open arms. We had gifts ready, we were high on the idea of the meeting. 0 People in Sidon welcomed them with open arms and rice and flowers. 0 They were very, very affectionate. There were open arms, lots of smiles, big kisses. It was definitely the kind of greeting you save for someone special.

0 with open arms (2)

If you welcome an event or new development with open arms, you are very pleased that it has happened.

O Watchdog organizations welcomed today's guidelines with open arms, some admitting that they had exceeded expectations considerably. 0 The store ranks as Palo Alto's fourth largest sales tax generator. Certainly many communities would welcome it with open arms. D The Council did the right thing in getting him to carry out the study. They have accepted it with open arms and will, they say, progress with it.


a straight arrow

If you describe someone as a straight arrow, you

mean that they are very conventional, honest, and moral. [AMERICAN]

O / was very much a product of my environment. I was very traditional, a real straight arrow in lots of ways. H Several friends describe Mr. Menendez as 'a straight arrow' who rarely drank and was close to his family.

• You can use straight arrow before a noun. 0 It was impossible to imagine such a well-scrubbed, straight-arrow group of young people rioting over anything-except perhaps the number of chocolate chips in the dining ball cookies.


lick someone's arse

If you say that one person licks another's arse, you are critical of the first person because they will do anything at all to please the second person, often because the second person is powerful or influential and the first person wants something from them. [BRITISH, INFORMAL, VERY RUDE] 0 / don't feel bad about slogging U2 off since everybody else is licking Bono 's arse.

• You can call someone who does this an arselicker. You can refer to the activity of doing this as arselicking. [BRITISH, INFORMAL, VERY RUDE]

0 Everett, you're not the arselicker everybody thinks you are. 0 Meanwhile, we were down on our hands and knees arselicking all day, because if you upset somebody you had nowhere else to go.

[NCyTEJ A person's arse is their bottom.

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have something down to a fine art

If you have got an activity down to a fine art,

you know the best way of doing it because you have practised it a lot and have tried many different methods.

0 They've got fruit retailing down to a fine art. You can be sure that your pears will ripen in a day. 0 Shopping for food is the biggest problem, though she has it down to a fine art. 'I go to the cheapest shops and buy only frozen or canned goods. I cannot remember the last time I bought the kids fresh fruit or vegetables.'


a big ask

If you say that something which you have been asked to do is a big ask, you mean that you cannot be expected to do it easily or willingly, because it is very difficult or involves making a sacrifice. [mainly AUSTRALIAN]

0 It's a pretty big ask to run faster in the second half of the race. 0 It was a big ask for six state premiers to surrender many of their rights and responsibilities to help the central government.


chew your ass

If someone chews your ass, they tell you angrily that your behaviour has upset or annoyed them. [AMERICAN, INFORMAL, RUDE]

O Well, come on in then, don't stand therein the hall while the old man chews my ass. 0 He's going to blab the whole thing to Sis and Cousin Opal and they're going to chew my ass because each of them has a lousy thousand dollars in this business.

IKOTE] A person's ass is their bottom.


0 a rude awakening

If you have had a rude awakening, you have been forced to realize the unpleasant truth about something.

0 Such details as have emerged about the new economic package suggest that Russian citizens are indeed in for a rude awakening. Whatever other problems they faced in the past, they have become used to certain essential goods being heavily subsidised Now all this will change. 0 johnson told reporters at the time that some of these inventions were so valuable, he was confident he could make a quick profit. But, instead of quick profits, johnson got a rude awakening.


'Axe' is spelled 'ax' in American English.

an axe hanging over something

If you say that there is an axe hanging over

something, you mean that it is likely to be destroyed or ended soon. If you say that there is an axe hanging over someone, you mean that they are likely to lose their job soon. 0
The axe was hanging over 600 jobs at oil giant BP last night.

كان مصير 600 وظيفة في تلك الشركة النفطية العملاقة على كف عفريت الليلة الماضية.

0 / wouldn't say there's an axe hanging over him but he's only got another season to put everything right.

get the axe (1) be given the axe

If someone gets the axe or is given the axe, they lose their job. Get the chop means the same. 0 During the 1981 recession, most layoffs hurt factory or construction workers. But this time, business managers, executives and technical staff are getting the axe. 0 It's being reported in Chicago that Bears' coach Mike Ditka will get the axe today.

get the axe (2)

be given the axe

If something such as a project or part of a business gets the axe or is given the axe, it is cancelled or

ended suddenly. Get the chop means the same. 0 There will be cuts of $170 billion in defense, and almost $ 120 billion in domestic spending. Any idea what specific programs will get the ax? 0 A few days previously, the Westoe Colliery, the last pit in the region, was given the axe.

0 have an axe to grind

If you say that someone has an axe to grind, you

mean that they have particular attitudes and prejudices about something, often because they think they have been treated badly or because they want to get a personal advantage. 0 Lord Cifford believed cases should be referred by an independent agency which, as he put it, doesn t have an axe to grind. 'It saddens me, he said that courts are being brought into such a political conflict ' 0 He didn't have a critical ax to grind. He was very open-minded about other people s work. • Sometimes people claim that they have no axe to grind when they are denying that their strong opinions about something are based on personal


0 The unions insist they have no axe to grind,

because they will represent operators wherever they


i^gygg There are several explanations for the origin of this expression. One is a story told by Benjamin Franklin about a man who managed to get his own axe sharpened by asking a boy to show him how his father's grindstone worked.

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