at all costs
If you are determined to obtain or achieve something at all costs, you want it regardless of the expense, effort or sacrifice involved.
“The journalist was determined at all costs to get a report from the war zone.”
When someone makes a public declaration of their objective or goal, this is their avowed intent.
“The avowed intent of the new government is to reduce unemployment.”
beard the lion in his den
If you go to visit someone important in the place where they work, in order to challenge him/her or obtain something, you beard the lion in his den.
“If he continues to refuse my calls, I’ll have to beard the lion in his den.”
(have a) bee in your bonnet
Someone who has a bee in their bonnet has an idea which constantly occupies their thoughts.
“She’s got a bee in her bonnet about moving to New York.”
beyond your wildest dreams
If something is beyond your wildest dreams, it is better than you imagined or hoped for.
“The research team received a grant from the government that was beyond their wildest dreams.”
blood, sweat and tears
A project or action which involves blood, sweat and tears requires a lot of effort and hard work.
“His success wasn’t due to luck; it was blood, sweat and tears all the way.”
have something on the brain
If you have something on the brain, you think or talk abut it all constantly.
“He never stops talking about golf. He has golf on the brain!”
If you buckle down, you apply yourself with determination to hard work and give it your full attention.
“If you want to pass your exams, you’ll have to buckle down and do some serious work.”
dig in your heels
If you dig in your heels, you refuse to do something, especially if someone is trying to convince you to do so.
“My grandfather dug in his heels and refused to move to an apartment.”
The term eager beaver refers to a person who is hardworking and enthusiastic, sometimes considered overzealous.
“The new accountant works all the time – first to arrive and last to leave. He’s a real eager beaver!”
explore all avenues
If you explore all avenues, you try out every possibility in order to obtain a result or find a solution.
“We can’t say it’s impossible until we’ve explored all avenues.”
fight tooth and nail
If you fight tooth and nail for something, you fight with energy and determination.
“The Transport Minister fought tooth and nail to have the proposed road safety law accepted.”
first out of the gate
If you are first out of the gate, you are the first to make a start at something that others have also accepted to do.
“Sandra was so enthusiastic about the project that she was first out of the gate.”
fly by the seat of your pants
If you fly by the seat of your pants, you do something without any knowledge or experience, using only your instinct and hoping that you will succeed.
“Without any formal training, he decided to fly by the seat of his pants and try his luck in New York.”
go the extra mile
If you go the extra mile, you do more than what is expected of you.
“You can count on Tom; he’s always willing to go the extra mile.”
go to great lengths
When trying to achieve something, if you go to great lengths, you do everything that is possible in order to succeed.
“The two parties went to great lengths to reach an agreement.”
go into overdrive
If someone or something goes into overdrive, they begin to work very hard or start to perform intensely
“At the start of every new collection my imagination goes into overdrive.”
To say that someone is going places means that they show talent and ability that will no doubt lead to a successful future.
“Even at college it was obvious that Paul was going places.”
keep your nose to the grindstone
A person who keeps their nose to the grindstone is someone who concentrates on working or studying hard.
“Emma was so determined to get into the college of her choice that she kept her nose to the grindstone all year.”
hang in there
This expression is used to encourage someone to persevere and not give up in spite of the difficult circumstances.
“I know the atmosphere is very tense, but just hang in there and things will eventually calm down.”
hang on by the fingernails
When you hang on by the fingernails, you succeed in continuing to do something in a very difficult situation.
“The restaurant is losing more and more customers; the owner is just hanging on by his fingernails.”
have your heart set on something
Someone who has their heart set on something is determined to obtain something they want very much.
“From an early age Tiger had his heart set on becoming a professional golfer.”
be hell-bent on doing something
If you are hell-bent on doing something, you are recklessly determined to do it, even if it is dangerous or stupid.
“Although he is still weak, Tony is hell-bent on playing the match.”
hitch your wagon to a star
Someone who hitches their wagon to a star has great ambitions and is very determined to reach their goal.
“At an early age Vanessa decided to hitch her wagon to a star and become famous.”
a long row to hoe
A difficult task, assignment or undertaking that will take a long time is a long row to hoe.
“Getting through medical school is going to be a long row to hoe.”
If you make headway, you make progress in what you are trying to achieve.
“Investigators have made little headway in their search for the causes of the catastrophe.”
If someone means business, they are serious about what they announce
“The boss says that in future any missing material will be reported to the police, and he looks as though he means business.”
never say die
You can say ‘never say die‘ to encourage someone to persevere in their efforts and not give up or abandon their project.
“Keep going – it’s too soon to give up. Never say die!“
paddle your own canoe
If you paddle your own canoe, you do what you want to do without help or interference from anyone.
“He decided to paddle his own canoe and set up his own business.”
pound the pavement
Someone who pounds the pavement walks the streets or goes from company to company, usually in search of employment.
(You can also pound the pavement in an effort to raise funds or gain support for a cause.)
“Charlie is out there pounding the pavement since he lost his job.”
pull out all the stops
If you pull out all the stops, you do everything you can to make something successful.
“We’ll have to pull out all the stops to get the store ready for the opening day.”
punch above your weight
If you punch above your weight, you try to perform at a level that is beyond your ability.
“She submitted her idea for the ‘invention of the year’ award, knowing that she was punching above her weight.”
reach for the moon
If you reach for the moon, you are very ambitious and try to achieve something even if it is difficult.
“His parents were hardworking people who encouraged their children to reach for the moon.”
raise/lower your sights
If you raise/lower your sights, your raise or lower your expectations, or you are more or less ambitious.
“He had to lower his sights and accept a less well-paid job than what he hoped for.”
sink your teeth into something
If you sink your teeth into something, you do it with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.
“When Julie got promoted, she immediately sank her teeth into her new job.”
the sky’s the limit
To say means that there is no limit to the possibility of success or progress for someone or something.
“”How successful do you think the project will be?” “Who knows … the sky’s the limit!””
stand your ground
If you stand your ground you maintain your position and refuse to yield or give way.
“He claimed innocence and stood his ground in spite of the repeated accusations.”
stick to your guns
If you stick to your guns, you show a lot of determination when faced with opposition.
“The government stuck to its guns in spite of the criticism.”
stop at nothing
Someone who would stop at nothing would do anything, even something illegal or immoral, to obtain what they want.
“He’s a man who would stop at nothing if there was a possibility of making money.”
wait in the wings
If someone is waiting in the wings, they are waiting for an opportunity to take action, especially to replace someone else in their job or position.
“There are many young actors waiting in the wings ready to show their talent.”