Idioms for Better Writing

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. Once the case reached the court, the police washed their hands off it.

  1. waited for a response to
  2. claimed credit for
  3. disassociated themselves from
  4. seemed eager to continue

2. There is no point in discussing the new project with him as he always pours cold water on any new ideas

  1. postpones
  2. puts off
  3. dislikes
  4. disapproves of

3. Adolescence is a period of halcyon days.

  1. hard days
  2. of mental pressure
  3. happy days
  4. days of preparation

4. My sincere advice to my maidservant fell on stony ground.

  1. was counter productive
  2. had a strong impact
  3. made one stubborn
  4. had little success

5. He has all his ducks in a row; he is complacent.

  1. has everything ready
  2. is well organised
  3. always scores a zero
  4. never gets confused

6. To play second fiddle.

  1. to reduce the importance of one’s senior
  2. take a subordinate role
  3. to do back seat driving
  4. to be happy, cheerful and healthy

7. Mary broke a dining-room window and had to face the music when her father got home.

  1. listen carefully
  2. ask a lot of questions
  3. listen to music
  4. accept the punishment

8. Villagers always call a spade a spade.

  1. to speak in a straightforward manner
  2. to call someone a spade
  3. to speak ill about someone
  4. to speak about spades

9. Regardless of what her parents said, she wanted to let her hair down that night.

  1. work till late
  2. really enjoy
  3. wash her hair
  4. go to bed early

10. Why are you jumping down my throat ? I wasn’t even in the house when it happened.

  1. making a joke
  2. scolding me
  3. forcing me to eat
  4. running away

11. Hard work pays in the long run.

  1. always
  2. over a period of time
  3. indefinitely
  4. never

12. I felt a fish out of water among the lawyers.

  1. special
  2. happy
  3. uncomfortable
  4. proud

13. The Cauvery water issue led to apple of discord between the two Governments.

  1. cause of anger
  2. cause of hatred
  3. cause of quarrel
  4. cause of animosity

14. The construction remains unfinished and the workers have let the grass grow under their feet.

  1. grown grass all over the lawn
  2. gone on a luxury tour
  3. demanded more benefits
  4. delayed doing the work

15. The police smelt the rat behind the death of the girl.

  1. got very much confused
  2. identified the cause of death
  3. suspected that something is fishy
  4. jumped to the conclusion


16. When he saw the snake he took to his heels.

  1. ran away in fear
  2. went slowly
  3. walked in fear
  4. jumped fast

17. He has to abide by the hard and fast rule of the company.

  1. flexible
  2. strict
  3. difficult
  4. honest

18. She goes to her mother's house off and on.

  1. frequently
  2. rarely
  3. occasionally
  4. sometimes

19. The robber murdered, the woman in cold blood for the sake of the jewels.

  1. a murder done without feeling
  2. a murder done in revenge
  3. a murder done in great anger
  4. a murder done in enmity

20. Indians are going places in the field of software technology.

  1. going abroad
  2. going to spaces
  3. talented and successful
  4. friendly and amicable

21. Be over the hill

  1. To be on a mountain top
  2. To travel in the jungle
  3. To be too old to do things
  4. To do something in the most complete way

22. Bite your tongue

  1. To stop yourself from saying something because it would be better not to
  2. To bite off your tongue while eating
  3. To feel sorry
  4. To ask someone something that you want

23. Turn a blind eye

  1. To run away
  2. To begin to behave in a more positive manner
  3. To change a situation
  4. To choose to ignore behaviour that you know is wrong

24. Yellow journalism

  1. Paid storytelling
  2. Government reports published in yellow coloured papers
  3. Writings in newspapers that try to influence people’s opinion by using strong language and false information
  4. Journalism which agrees completely with the policies of the governments and capitalists

25. To be in seventh heaven

  1. To fly in the air
  2. To be extremely happy
  3. To be completely alone
  4. To visit a place which is in the list of the seven wonders of the world

26. A dark horse

  1. A black coloured horse
  2. A person who wins a race or competition although no one expected him to
  3. A person who keeps secrets
  4. An ignorant person

27. A show-stopper

  1. Someone who stops the show
  2. Someone who organises the show
  3. A performance that is extremely good
  4. A fashionable person

28. A jack of all trades

  1. Someone who has many skills
  2. A confident and not very serious young man
  3. Someone who has hit the jackpot
  4. A great businessman

29. Fight tooth and nail

  1. To quarrel with someone
  2. To attack someone with a lot of force
  3. To try hard to prevent something happening
  4. To try very hard to achieve something

30. Fair and square

  1. In an honest way
  2. In a critical way
  3. Neither very good nor very bad
  4. In a foolish way

Idioms and Phrases

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

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