Common Idioms for Practice

Idioms are expressions or phrases that have a meaning that is different from the literal interpretation of the individual words that make them up. Idioms are often used in everyday language and are an essential part of communication in many languages. They add color, nuance, and figurative language to speech and writing.
Here are a few examples of idioms:
1. "Kick the bucket" - This idiom means to die. It doesn't literally involve kicking a bucket.
2. "Break a leg" - This is an idiom used to wish someone good luck, especially before a performance. It doesn't suggest actual harm.
Idioms can be challenging for non-native speakers to understand because they often don't follow the rules of grammar or logic. Instead, they rely on cultural and linguistic context. Learning idioms is an important aspect of mastering a language and becoming fluent in it.

Directions: In the questions given below, four alternatives are given for the idiom/phrase underlined in the sentence. Click on the option given under each question which you think best expresses the meaning of the idiom/phrase.


1. Ram is very calculative and always has an axe to grind.

  1. has no result
  2. works for both sides
  3. has a private agenda
  4. fails to arouse interest

2. The police looked all over for him but drew a blank.

  1. did not find him
  2. put him in prison
  3. arrested him
  4. took him to court

3. On the issue of marriage, Sarita put her foot down.

  1. stood up
  2. was firm
  3. got down
  4. walked fast
Let sleeping dogs lie

4. His investments helped him make a killing in the stock market.

  1. lose money quickly
  2. plan a murder quickly
  3. murder someone quickly
  4. make money quickly

5. There is no gainsaying the fact that the country is in difficulties.

  1. ignoring
  2. hiding
  3. forgetting
  4. denying

6. Children complain about their parents’ gifts. They should learn not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

  1. not to find goodness in the gifts
  2. not to look at a horse’s mouth
  3. not to find fault with the gifts received
  4. not to ask for more gifts

7. Acquiring a job is a cakewalk for a student who has good academic performance coupled with good attitude.

  1. an easy achievement
  2. walk away with a cake
  3. a difficult achievement
  4. a walkway made with cakes

8. Let sleeping dogs lie.

  1. Do not make friends with enemies
  2. Do not bring up an old controversial issue
  3. Dogs can raise tempers
  4. Do not allow dogs to stand
a dark horse

9. To get admission in present day educational institutions, all children should be born with a silver spoon in the mouth.

  1. be born in a rich family
  2. be born to silver spoon manufacture
  3. always hold a silver spoon
  4. be born with silver spoon

10. A man of straw means

  1. A very active person
  2. A worthy fellow
  3. An unreasonable person
  4. A man of no substance

11. The poet drew on his fancy not his knowledge of nature, when he wrote his poem on birds.

  1. used his understanding
  2. used his knowledge
  3. used his imagination
  4. used his skill

12. My neighbour had to pay through his nose for a brand new car.

  1. pay huge loans
  2. pay a reasonable price
  3. pay an extremely high price
  4. make a quick buck

13. Very ambitious people do not like to rest on their laurels.

  1. to be unhappy
  2. to be motivated
  3. to be impatient
  4. to be complacent
a cup of tea

14. If he phones again, I am going to give him a piece of my mind.

  1. to be nice to him
  2. to take revenge on him
  3. to reprimand him
  4. to support him

15. The party high command wanted to stave off an open battle.

  1. postpone
  2. wait and see
  3. allow it to take its own course
  4. prevent

16. Ramesh takes after his father.

  1. follows
  2. imitates
  3. obeys
  4. resembles

17. They made no bones about acknowledging their debt to his genius

  1. did not have any hesitation in
  2. did not have any faith in
  3. demanded compensation for
  4. had problems in

18. It is evident from the minister’s statement that heads will roll in the Secretariat.

  1. transfers will take place
  2. heads will be cut off
  3. people will die
  4. dismissals will occur
Blow one's own trumpet

19. During the last moments of his life, the criminal made a clean breast of everything he had done.

  1. showed his breast
  2. fought like a hero
  3. confessed without reserve
  4. faced bravely

20. She tries very hard to keep up with her rich neighbours.

  1. to imitate
  2. to keep in touch
  3. to avoid
  4. to be on par

21. The Kenyan team proved to be the dark horse in the ICC world cup cricket.

  1. a strong intruder
  2. a skilled team
  3. the most powerful
  4. an unexpected winner

22. The step mother shed crocodile tears on the death of her step son.

  1. to cry for no reason
  2. felt sorry for the son
  3. shed tears of blood
  4. false tears of sorrow
Smell a rat

23. It was on the tip of my tongue when you also proposed that we should go to the auditorium.

  1. slip of tongue
  2. on lips
  3. about to say
  4. did not want to say


24. Kindly tell him by word of mouth that I shall be dining with him tonight.

  1. orally
  2. using gestures
  3. jargons
  4. written
Ducks in a row

25. Hari was taken to task by the teacher for making a noise in the class.

  1. scolded
  2. rewarded
  3. appreciated
  4. asked to leave

26. I could have continued my higher studies if I wanted but, that’s water under the bridge.

  1. something I cannot change
  2. the time I met with an accident near the bridge
  3. something my family did not want
  4. the time I went on a cruise

27. My parents want me to study science, but I will stick to my guns and graduate in Economics.

  1. prefer to disobey them
  2. hold on to my decision
  3. refuse to listen to them
  4. show them that they are wrong

28. The manager dismissed the proposal out of hand and said that it was not at all practical.

  1. completely
  2. directly
  3. simply
  4. quickly

29.The people of this village are the salt of the earth.

  1. rich
  2. educated
  3. quarrelsome
  4. kind
Apple of Discord

30. He accused her of talking through her hat and refused to accept a word of what she said.

  1. talking straight
  2. talking nonsense
  3. talking tough
  4. talking sense

31. Those intending to take up the military service must be prepared to go through the hoops.

  1. be made to undergo grueling tests
  2. be made to sign bonds
  3. be made to pay heavy amounts of money
  4. be punished severely
Paper tiger

32. He is playing ducks and drakes with the wealth of his father.

  1. spending foolishly
  2. spending carefully
  3. spending diligently
  4. spending lavishly

33. The Principal called the latecomers to her room and delivered a curtain lecture on the subject of late hours.

  1. cautionary talk given in private
  2. talk behind the curtain
  3. dramatic lecture
  4. brief lecture

34. The project to clean the River Ganga ended in smoke.

  1. yielded no profit
  2. yielded no plan
  3. yielded no practical result
  4. yielded only confusion
Be hand in glove

35. He immediately set about organizing the department.

  1. started
  2. took steps towards
  3. looked around
  4. took charge

36. He's as daft as a brush. Don't believe a word of what he says.

  1. unreliable
  2. a liar
  3. really silly
  4. very funny

37. She is a person who pulls no punches.

  1. speaks politely
  2. speaks frankly
  3. speaks rudely
  4. speaks sweetly

38. For any group work to be successful, it is important that everyone is on the same page.

  1. present for the meeting
  2. registered for the work
  3. willing to pay the same fees
  4. thinks in a similar way

39. I and my friend always go Dutch when we eat out.

  1. drive together
  2. pay for each other's meal
  3. go together
  4. divide the costs

40. My efforts at pest control went in vain, I have to go back to the drawing board.

  1. plan it all over again
  2. take professional help
  3. spend some time researching abroad
  4. work at night

41. A hot potato.

  1. A dish to relish when it is hot
  2. A very important person in a gathering
  3. An issue which is disputed, and catching the attention of people
  4. A way of thinking what someone is thinking

42. You snooze, you lose.

  1. Don’t take it lightly
  2. Don’t be over-enthusiastic
  3. Don’t hesitate to do it
  4. Don’t be pessimistic

43. I don’t buy it.

  1. I don’t believe it
  2. I have no money
  3. I summarize it
  4. I don’t need it

44. My two cents.

  1. My money
  2. My opinion
  3. My decision
  4. My explanation

45. Out of the blue.

  1. Undoubtedly
  2. Unexpectedly
  3. Unbelievably
  4. Unconcerned

46. What a small world.

  1. What a coincidence
  2. What a challenging task
  3. What a narrow space
  4. What a beautiful place

47. Down the road.

  1. In future
  2. In the past
  3. At present
  4. No particular time

48. Raising eyebrows.

  1. To show surprise
  2. Criticize
  3. Support
  4. Instruct

49. Step up the plate.

  1. Take control
  2. Take a job
  3. Take a responsibility
  4. Take an opportunity

50. The Holy Grail.

  1. The pious place of worship
  2. An important object or goal
  3. A very important place
  4. Someone’s destination of life

Idioms and Phrases

Idioms and Phrases – 1 Idioms and Phrases – 2 Idioms and Phrases – 3 Idioms and Phrases – 4

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