1.2: Idioms 11-20

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Idioms 1-10
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Idioms 21-30


Cock and Bull Story

“Sorry, I didn’t show up for the job interview yesterday,” the applicant said. “The night before some rain leaked through the roof and the water ruined my alarm clock so it didn’t ring. After I woke up, I was in a terrible rush. I mistakenly put superglue in my eyes instead of my contact lens solution and had to go to the emergency ward. While I was in the hospital, someone stole my mobile phone so I could not call you.” “This sounds like a cock and bull story,” the HR manager replied. A cock and bull story is a fanciful and unbelievable tale.


Come Clean

Tom told John that he was willing to give up on his affair and wanted to tell his wife about it. “I want to come clean” he said. “Do end the affair but don’t tell your wife if she did not find out about it,” John replied. “The main reason people confess is that the guilt is really bothering them. When you unload your mistakes on her, you force her to share your misery and blame. It’s for you to deal with.” To come clean means to be honest with somebody about something.


Come to Nothing

In 1975, the Canadian government opened a new massive airport at Mirabel near Montreal. It cost a lot of money to build. Disagreements between the national and provincial governments prevented construction of a multilane highway that would have linked it with the other existing airport at Dorval and downtown Montreal 50 kilometres away. Travellers found the airport difficult and expensive to reach. Not enough passengers used the airport and the whole project came to nothing as the airport was finally demolished in 2004. To come to nothing means to have no significant or successful result in the end.


Come to Reach The End Of Ones Rope

“Please, my little cutie pie, please, one spoon for mommy…or maybe one for daddy?!” the young mother tried to stay calm. Her one year old son Boris was simply refusing to eat his lunch. “I’ve come to reach the end of my rope with Boris” she told her husband in the evening, “Every day I spend more than 2 hours feeding him at lunch time and it’s turning into a constant struggle. I’ve had enough of it!” To come to reach the end of ones rope means to reach a point where one is out of energy, feeling exhausted or exasperated.


Cook somebody’s goose

Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were two brilliant students at the University of Chicago. Together they kidnapped and murdered 14-year old Robert Franks. They did this out of thrill and a perceived intellectual superiority. They thought this would be the perfect crime and that they would never get caught. However, the body was soon discovered. Nearby the police found a pair of glasses with an unusual mechanism. Only 3 people had purchased this in Chicago and one of them was Nathan Leopold. The discovery of the glasses cooked their goose. To cook someone’s goose means to spoil someone’s plans or cause someone’s downfall.


Crack the whip

The new director of the company introduced a whole new set of policies. For example, people’s performance was monitored electronically. The company recorded keystrokes by the minute and asked for explanations if employees had pauses of more than a few minutes at a time. She also introduced daily, weekly and monthly performance targets for each and every employee. To top it off, she stated that the company would lay off (fire), the 10% lowest-performing employees every year. She really cracked the whip. A whip is a piece of leather or rope fastened to a stick which you hit a horse with to make it go faster. To crack the whip means to use your authority to make someone work harder, usually by threatening or punishing them.


Crocodile tears

At Aunt Emma’s funeral, her relatives hired a professional speaker who had never met her in real life. The professional mourner gave a nice eulogy speech about her life and accomplishments and then proceeded to cry a lot. Some mourners felt that it was tasteless to hire a complete stranger to cry crocodile tears at a loved one’s funeral. Crocodile tears are a false, insincere display of emotions as when somebody pretends to be sad but isn’t really.


Not to know whether one is coming or going

Jim was very pleased when his secret love Jane told him that she thought he was a really desirable man and invited him out on Friday night for dinner at her house. When he arrived there was nobody at home. She arrived half an hour late and shouted at him for bringing her flowers. “Do you think I am so cheap that I will fall for that trick?” she asked him. He was dumbfounded and did not know whether he was coming or going. Not to know whether you are coming or going means to be in a confused state.


For the birds

John was told that he had a very important potential new client that wanted to work with his company. He spent the whole week researching the company and creating an individual and impressive presentation. When he arrived at the client’s premises, he was told that they had already decided to work with someone else but that he could still give his presentation to the receptionist. He replied that his visit was for the birds and that he would rather leave. When something is for the birds it is without value or not to be taken seriously.


Get on top of a/the problem

At the international climate conference delegates from certain countries denied that there was a definitive link between global warming and human influence through the emission of greenhouse gases. They argued that climate change was something natural and that there wasn’t enough scientific evidence to claim that it was human made. However, delegates from the most affected countries insisted that there was enough evidence and that it was time to get on top of the problem. To get on top of a problem means to sort it out or to resolve it.


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Idioms 1-10
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Idioms 21-30