Exam Candidates Idiomatic Expression / Meaning

Exam Candidates Idiomatic Expression / Meaning

This article contains IDIOMATIC EXPRESSION and their MEANING to educate more especially for NECO, JAMB, SSCE AND GCE Examination Candidates. Students who want to advance in the English language even for Examination or Job interview are advised to look at the meaning of the following idiomatic expression

Exam Candidates Idiomatic Expression / Meaning



An idiom is a phrase or an expression that has a figurative, or sometimes literal, meaning. Categorized as formulaic language, an idiom’s figurative meaning is different from the literal meaning



  • To die in the odour of sanctity – He died with the reputation of holiness
  • To be high feather – To be in good spirit
  • To crave one’s indulgence – To obtain permission
  • To call it a day – To come to an end
  • The matter is in the air – The matter is indefinite
  • It is in a nutshell – It can be summed up as
  • A storm in a teacup – A great disturbance about a little the matter
  • To cry over split milk – To cry over a thing which cannot be helped
  • To help a lame dog over a stile – To aid a weak person in a difficulty
  • To go through fire and water – To take a great risk
  • To be hung by a thread – To be in danger
  • To escape by the skin of the teeth – To escape narrowly
  • To speak by the book – To speak with accuracy
  • To keep one in countenance – To be in support
  • To take failure to hear – To grieve over failure
  • To keep one’s bed for five weeks – To be in bed for five weeks
  • Three days running – For three successive days
  • To stand in the way of one – To hinder one’s explanation clear
  • To be cleared with head-on shoulder – To make one’s explanation clear
  • To have his blood on his head – To be responsible for one’s death
  • To be rut of court – To be justified
  • To turn a new leaf – To reform one’s conduct
  • To be under one’s thumb – To be in subservience to someone
  • To act with high head – To act violently
  • To be driven from pillar to post – To move from one refuge to another
  • To take time by the clock – To be prompt and early
  • To die by inches – To die gradually
  • To be a thorn in one fresh – To be a problem to another
  • To die in harness – To die while still at work
  • To be in leaching string – For one to be his own
  • To keep one’s head above water – To live without failure or bankruptcy
  • To succeed after a fashion – To succeed to an extent
  • To go against the grain – To go against the current practice
  • To have youth at his back- To have help or support
  • To have a skeleton in one’s cupboard – To have a property that one is ashamed of
  • To work at across purposes – To work against each other
  • To arrive at the eleventh hour – Arrive just in time for something
  • To be at daggers dawn – To quarrel
  • To burn the candle at both ends – To exhaust oneself by many activities
  • Below par – To feel not quite well
  • To carry all before others – To succeed completely
  • To waddle in ignorance – To remain foolish
  • To sail before the wind – To be in a prosperous circumstance
  • To cast a pearl before swine – To waste things on those who do not value them
  • To be hit below the belt – To have an unfair attack
  • To be at someone’s mercy – To be in someone else power
  • To be at the dead set – To  be at the standstill
  • To provide for a rainy day – To provide for hard times
  • To be above board – To be straight forward
  • To have one foot in the grave – To be seriously ill
  • To be driven to a corner – To be placed in difficulty
  • To step into another shoe – To take another’s place
  • To throw one out of balance – To upset
  • To last till the crack of the dome – To last till the end of the world
  • To show a clean pair of heels – To run away
  • To arrive at the year of discretion – To arrive at the age of manhood
  • To be at the wrong scent – To investigate in the wrong direction
  • A match to be stolen on someone – Gaining advantage of someone
  • To go on a fool’s errand – To go on a useless business
  • To repent in sack – cloth and ashes – To repent bitterly and humbly
  • To take up arms – To go to war
  • To succeed in thick and tin – To succeed in good and bad
  • A household name – A famous name
  • To take the chair – To preside in a meeting
  • Rank and file – Less important members of society
  • To face the music – To face the penalty
  • A wet blanket – A person who is fond of discouraging others
  • To be hard up – To run short of money
  • To have a silver tongue – To be eloquent
  • To throw sand in one’s eyes – To deceive someone
  • To run amok – To run with aggression
  • To blow one’s trumpet – To boast
  • To act the goat – To act like a foolish person
  • To make a clean breast of something – To confess
  • To turn the table – To reverse a situation
  • To clip the tongue – To be silent
  • To be in soup – To be in trouble
  • To go through the mill – To undergo suffering
  • To be caught red-handed – To be caught in the act
  • To throw in the card – To give up
  • To throw in the towel – To surrender
  • To chew the fat – To argue
  • To take a french leave – To go without permission
  • To hit the nail on the head – To be right
  • To rise from the rank – To be promoted from a low social position
  • To be in the abstract – To make an expression without reference
  • To be in the same boat – To be in the same situation or circumstance
  • To let the cat out of the bag – To reveal a secret.

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