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Idioms and Phrases - Rules and Examples, Verbal Ability - Notes | Study General Aptitude for GATE - Mechanical Engineering

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What is an Idiom?

An idiom (full name is idiomatic expression) can be an expression, word, or phrase that only has a meaning to the native speaker. The meaning of an idiom is totally different from the literal meaning of the idiom's individual elements. Idioms do not mean exactly what the words say. They have a hidden meaning.

Idioms and Phrases - Rules and Examples, Verbal Ability - Notes | Study General Aptitude for GATE - Mechanical Engineering

Examples of idioms with their literal meaning and idiomatic meaning:
1. Break a Leg

Example: Before Peter went on the stage for the show, John told him to break a leg.
Literal meaning: I am telling you to break a bone in your leg and then you will probably have to go to the hospital afterward to get a cast put on your leg.
Idiomatic meaning: Do your best and good luck. A lot of actors and actresses tell each other to "break a leg" as they are about to go on stage to perform it is deemed to be good luck.

Question for Idioms and Phrases - Rules and Examples, Verbal Ability
Try yourself:What is the meaning of the following idiom?

To keeps one's temper

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2. Bored to death
Meaning/Usage: Very bored
Explanation: Death is the worst thing, so using it to compare how you feel is telling someone that you are very bored.
Idioms and Phrases - Rules and Examples, Verbal Ability - Notes | Study General Aptitude for GATE - Mechanical Engineering

Example:
"I have nothing to do. I'm bored to death."
"I hate it when I'm bored to death."
"Would you rather be super busy or bored to death?"

List of Some Common Idioms and Phrases

  • Piece of cake: This basically means something that was very easy for you – as easy as eating a piece of cake.
    Example: I thought I was going to fail the test, but it turned out to be a piece of cake!
  • Dressed to kill: This basically means you look great or you’re wearing clothes that are intended to make people notice you. It could also mean overdressing.
    Example: A person doesn’t go on vacation dressed to kill.Idioms and Phrases - Rules and Examples, Verbal Ability - Notes | Study General Aptitude for GATE - Mechanical Engineering
  • On the wane: This means something that is reducing or decreasing.
    Example: The popularity of AAP in Delhi is on the wane.

Question for Idioms and Phrases - Rules and Examples, Verbal Ability
Try yourself:What is the meaning of the following idiom?

To drive home

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  • Hitting below the belt: If you remember the stories from mythology, one of the rules of sword fights was that you were not supposed to strike the opponent below the waist level. If you hit someone below waist level, it was considered unfair.
    This is what hitting below the belt means – If a remark is below the belt, it is very insulting and unfair.
    Example: You told them I was the one who ordered the wrong-size carpet. That’s hitting me below the belt.
  • Gift of the gab: A gift is something good to receive. If you have the gift of the gab, it means the ability to speak easily and confidently in a way that makes people want to listen to you and believe you.
    Example: She’s got the gift of the gab – she should work in sales.

Question for Idioms and Phrases - Rules and Examples, Verbal Ability
Try yourself:What is the meaning of the following idiom?

To have an axe to grind

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  • Face the music: When someone is criticising you, it is not exactly music to the ears, right? If you do something wrong you may have to accept the unpleasant results of one’s actions or in other words face the music.
    Idioms and Phrases - Rules and Examples, Verbal Ability - Notes | Study General Aptitude for GATE - Mechanical EngineeringExample: After being caught on camera taking a bribe, the minister had to face the music. The party has expelled him and an enquiry has been commissioned.
  • At loggerheads: It means to strongly disagree with someone. If two people or groups are at loggerheads, they disagree strongly about something .
    Example: They’re constantly at loggerheads with the farmers’ union.

Question for Idioms and Phrases - Rules and Examples, Verbal Ability
Try yourself:What is the meaning of the following idiom?

To leave someone in the lurch

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  • Make hay while the sun shines: Hay is dried grass. To dry grass you keep it under the sun. Would you keep the grass for drying in the afternoon or at night? You do it in the afternoon because you want to make the best use of the sunlight when it is the hottest and use it to dry your grass. Or in other words – If you have an opportunity to do something, do it before the opportunity expires.
    Example: While my husband’s out of town, I’m going to watch all the movies he wouldn’t take me to see; after all, you have to make hay while the sun shines.
  • Throw in the towel: In boxing, to signal that a fighter can no longer continue fighting, a towel is thrown into the area where the fight takes place to stop the fight. So if someone wants to signal that they’re going to quit; you could say they are going to throw in the towel.
    Idioms and Phrases - Rules and Examples, Verbal Ability - Notes | Study General Aptitude for GATE - Mechanical EngineeringExample: The union was forced to throw in the towel and settle their bitter dispute with the company.
  • Burn your fingers: It means is they suffer unpleasant results of an action.
    Example: Many investors burned their fingers on those stocks.

Question for Idioms and Phrases - Rules and Examples, Verbal Ability
Try yourself:What is the meaning of the following idiom?

A man of straw

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  • Throw out the baby with the bathwater: If you discard something valuable along with something not wanted, you throw out the baby with the bathwater.
    Example: You can’t close the airport because one airline has problems – that’s just throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
  • Bolt from the blue: Lightning always catches you by surprise, especially if it happens when the sky is cloudless. Similarly, a sudden, shocking surprise or turn of events can be referred to as a bolt from the blue.
    Idioms and Phrases - Rules and Examples, Verbal Ability - Notes | Study General Aptitude for GATE - Mechanical EngineeringExample: The news that 500 and 1000 rupee notes were not legal tenders starting 8th November struck Indians as a bolt from the blue.
  • Spill the beans: This idiom is used when you want to convey that someone or something lets secret information become known.
    Example: You and your parents were planning a surprise birthday party for your sister, but your cousin spilled the beans to your sister.
  • Weather the storm: When you are faced with a difficult situation and survive, it is like you survived a storm. Or in other words, something continues to exist and not be harmed during a difficult period and stays right despite experiencing serious problems or great difficulties. Thus it weathers the storm.
    Example: If she can just weather the storm of that contract violation, she’ll be fine.

Question for Idioms and Phrases - Rules and Examples, Verbal Ability
Try yourself:What is the meaning of the following idiom?

To smell a rat

View Solution

  • Bite your lips: If you forcibly prevent oneself from exhibiting an outward reaction to something, especially that which makes one angry, irritated, or upset, you could say you bit your lip.
    Idioms and Phrases - Rules and Examples, Verbal Ability - Notes | Study General Aptitude for GATE - Mechanical EngineeringExample: I just had to bite my lip while the boss yelled at me for losing the account.
  • To talk one's head off: To talk excessively
    Example: I would like to visit my grandfather more often, but he talks his head off every time I visit him.
  • To snap one's fingers: To become contemptuous of
    Example: He was snapping his fingers in time with the music.
  • To save one's face: To evade disgrace
    Example: His mother was more interested in saving face, than accepting the truth about her mischievous son.
  • To spill the beans: To reveal secret information
    Example: My brother spilled the beans about the surprise party planned for our parents, by telling them during a conversation last night.

The document Idioms and Phrases - Rules and Examples, Verbal Ability - Notes | Study General Aptitude for GATE - Mechanical Engineering is a part of the Mechanical Engineering Course General Aptitude for GATE.
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