armchair critic

An armchair critic is someone who gives advice based on theory rather than practice.
“That guy is such an armchair critic– no experience but plenty of advice.”

armchair traveller

Someone who reads books or watches TV programmes about other places and countries, but doesn’t actually travel anywhere, is called an armchair traveller.
“A surprising number of adventure books are bought by armchair travellers.”

basket case

A person whose agitated mental state leaves them helpless or unable to cope with things is called a basket case.
“Jenny will turn into a basket case if this stressful situation continues.”

wet blanket

To refer to someone as a wet blanket means that they spoil other people’s fun, or make an event less enjoyable than it could have been.
“Come on Mike! Don’t be such a wet blanket. You’re spoiling the party!”

you can’t put new wine into old bottles

This expression means that you should not try to combine new concepts or innovations with an old or long-established framework or system.
“You’ll never get that program to work on your father’s old computer – you can’t put new wine into old bottles.”

bucket list

A bucket list is a list of things a person would like to do or achieve before a certain age or before dying.
“I have never visited the pyramids of Egypt but they’re on my bucket list.”

kick the bucket

To kick the bucket is a lighthearted way of talking about death.
“He will inherit when his grandfather kicks the bucket!”

not the brightest bulb in the box

This expression is used to say that someone is not very intelligent.
“Max has failed the exam for the third time!
He’s obviously not the brightest bulb in the box!”

burn the candle at both ends

If you burn the candle at both ends, you exhaust yourself by doing too much, especially going to bed late and getting up early.
“Scott looks exhausted – I’ll bet he’s been burning the candle at both ends lately.”

can’t hold a candle to somebody

If one person can’t hold a candle to another, they are much less competent or do not perform as well as the other.
“John is very intelligent but he can’t hold a candle to his brother Paul when it comes to sports.”

roll out the red carpet

To roll out the red carpet means to give special treatment to an important or honoured visitor.
“The management is going to roll out the red carpet for the visit of the Nobel prize winner.”

glass ceiling

Th term glass ceiling refers to a discriminatory barrier perceived by women and minorities that prevents them from rising to positions of power or responsibility.
“Claire knew she would never break the glass ceiling and rise to a senior management position.”

clock in/out

When you clock in or out, you record the time you arrive or leave your job by punching a time clock to the show the  number of hours you have worked.
“I’m going to clock out early today. I’ve got a dental appointment”

couch potato

If you refer to someone as a couch potato, you criticize them for spending a lot of time sitting and watching television.
“Don’t be such a couch potato. There are better ways of spending your time than in front of the TV.”

rob the cradle

If you rob the cradle, you have a romantic relationship with someone who is much younger than yourself.
“My uncle Ted is dating a twenty-year-old girl. That’s really robbing the cradle!”

darken somebody’s door

If you darken somebody’s door, you come as an unwanted or unwelcome visitor.
“Just get out of here and never darken my door again!”

the door swings both ways

If you say that the door swings both ways, you mean that the same principle or argument applies to both sides of a situation.
“You never call me.” “You don’t contact me either. The door swings both ways you know!”

opens doors

If something opens doors, it provides opportunities or possibilities for the future.
“A degree from a top university generally opens doors to major companies.”

(as) dead as a doornail

This expression is used to stress that a person or thing is very definitely dead.
“They’ve started fighting again, so the peace agreement is now as dead as a doornail.”

out of the frying pan, into the fire

This expression means to go from one difficult situation to another one which is usually even worse.
“The flight was delayed because of snow. When the plane eventually took off, it had to turn back because of engine trouble – out of the frying pan into the fire!”

hammer (something) home

If you hammer home a point or an argument, you repeat it often to make sure that it is fully understood.
“The policeman hammered home the dangers of drinking and driving.”

hammer and tongs

If people are going at it hammer and tongs, they are arguing fiercely, with a lot of energy and noise.
“Our neighbours are going at it hammer and tongs again. They’re constantly arguing.”

fly off the handle

A person who flies off the handle becomes suddenly very angry.
“Dad flew off the handle when I told him I had damaged his new car.”

bring the house down

If you bring the house down, you give a very successful performance.
“If he sings like that on Saturday, he’ll bring the house down.”

eat you out of house and home

This is a humorous way of saying that someone is eating large quantities of your food.
“I stock up with food when my teenage sons invite their friends over. They’d eat you out of house and home!”

get on like a house on fire

Two people who get on like a house on fire have similar interests and quickly become good friends.
“As soon as Sarah met her brother’s girlfriend, they got on like a house on fire.”

not give house room

If you refuse togive house room to someone or something, you do not accept them into your home because you dislike or disapprove of them.
“I wouldn’t give house room to that painting – it’s grotesque!”

on the house

Something which ison the house is offered free of charge, usually in a bar or restaurant.
“The new owner of the pub offered us a drink on the house.”

put one’s house in order

If you tell someone to put their house in order, you are saying that they should organise their own affairs or take care of their own problems before giving advice to other people.
“You should put your house in order before telling me what to do!”

a different kettle of fish

To describe a person, thing or situation as a different kettle of fish means that it is completely different from what has just been mentioned, or another matter entirely.
“You may have good business relations with people there, but actually living in the country is a different kettle of fish.”

not the sharpest knife in the drawer

‘Sharp’ means ‘clever’ or ‘intelligent’.
This expression is used to say that someone is not very intelligent.
“Nobody was surprised when Johnny misunderstood the message. We all know he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer!”

under the knife

If a person goes under the knife, they have surgery.
“I’m not worried about the anaesthetic. I’ve been under the knife several times.”

(have a) light bulb moment

A light bulb moment is when you have a sudden moment of inspiration, comprehension or realization.
“Harry had a light-bulb moment when he finally understood what was blocking the mechanism.”

not the brightest bulb in the box

‘Bright’ means ‘clever’ or ‘intelligent’.
This expression is used to say that someone is not very intelligent.
“Max has failed the exam for the third time! He’s obviously not the brightest bulb in the box!”

see (something) in a new light

If you see something in a new light, you view it in a way that makes you change the opinion you had before.
“After listening to my colleague, I began to see things in a new light.”

(a) mug’s game

An unprofitable or ill-advised activity that only a fool (mug) would do is called a mug’s game.
“Spending hours making home-made cakes for a few customers is a mug’s game.”

(the) big picture

If you talk about the big picture, you refer to the overall situation, or the project as a whole rather than the details.
“While each aspect is important, try not to forget the big picture.”

(the) picture of health

Someone who looks the picture of health looks extremely healthy.
“Nice to see you again Mr. Brown. I must say you look the picture of health!”

a picture is worth a thousand words

This expression means that a picture can give just as much information as a large amount of descriptive text.
“Look at the picture of the crash! A picture is worth a thousand words isn’t it?”

get the picture

A person who gets the picture understands what is being explained or described.
“The alarm went off and people started running everywhere – you get the picture I’m sure!”

put (someone) in the picture

If you give somebody all the information necessary to enable them to fully understand a situation, you put them in the picture.
“Some changes were made during your absence. Let me put you in the picture.”

a lot on your plate

If someone has a lot on their plate, they are extremely busy or have several problems to handle at the same time.
“It’s not a good time to discuss the problem with David. He’s got a lot on his plate at the moment.”

(want someone’s) head on a platter

If someone makes you so angry that you want them to be punished, you want their head on a platter.
“He was so angry when he read the article about his family that he wanted the journalist’s head on a platter.”

poker face

If you have a poker face, you show no emotion at all.
“All during the trial the criminal kept a poker face.”

the pot calling the kettle black

This expression is used in a situation where a person with a fault criticizes someone else for having the same fault.
“After being disqualified for not obeying the rules, the player accused another competitor of cheating; it was the pot calling the kettle black!”

(take) pot luck

If you take pot luck, you accept whatever is available without knowing what it will be like.
“We were so hungry we decided to take pot luck and stopped at the first restaurant we saw.”

hit the roof / go through the roof

If someone hits the roof or goes through the roof, they become very angry.
“My father went through the roof when Paul damaged his new car.”

raise the roof

When people raise the roof, they make a lot of noise by cheering, shouting, whistling or clapping their hands.
“The concert was such a success, the audience raised the roof.”

sweep (something) under the rug

If you sweep something under the rug (or carpet), you try to hide it because it is embarrassing.
“The family tried unsuccessfully to sweep the scandal under the rug.”

(have a) brain/memory like a sieve

Someone who has a brain (or memory) like a sieve has a very bad memory and forgets things easily.
“Oh, I forgot to buy the bread – I’ve got a brain like a sieve these days!”

(like) pouring water into a sieve

If someone spends time or energy trying to do something that is inefficient or useless, it is like pouring water into a sieve.
“Danny’s mother used to say that teaching him good behaviour was like pouring water into a sieve.”

born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth

A person who is born with a silver spoon in their mouth is born into a very rich family.
“She never has to worry about money; she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth.”

another string to your bow

If you have another string to your bow, you have another skill or possible course of action if everything else fails.
“As well as her excellent qualifications, she’s got another string to her bow to help her find a job. She speaks fluent Chinese.”

no strings attached

An offer ‘with no strings attached’ is an offer made without conditions or restrictions, and requires nothing in return.
“I managed to get a loan with no strings attached.”

put/lay your cards on the table

If you put (or lay) your cards on the table, you speak honestly and openly about your feelings and intentions.
“Let’s put our cards on the table and discuss the problem.”

(a) storm in a teacup

To refer to something as a storm in a teacup means that people are making a lot of unnecessary fuss or getting excited about something unimportant.
“They were arguing about who should go to the supermarket, but it was just a storm in a teacup.”

as useful as a chocolate teapot

Something which is of no practical use at all is about as useful as a chocolate teapot.
“When there are no roads, a car is about as useful as a chocolate teapot!”

not ther sharpest tool in the shed

‘Sharp’ means ‘clever’ or ‘intelligent’.
This expression is used to say that someone is not very intelligent.
“Trust Andy to misunderstand!
Of course we know he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed!”

bang/knock your head against a brick wall

If you bang or knock your head against a brick wall, you continue vainly to try to achieve something in spite of several unsuccessful attempts.
“I’ve been banging my head against a brick wall trying to explain the internet to my grandmother!”

like talking to a brick wall

To say that a conversation with someone is like talking to brick wall means that communication is impossible because there is no reaction or response.
“I tried to discuss the problem with him but it was like talking to a brick wall.”

throw (something) over the wall

If someone throws something over the wall, they deal with part of a problem or project, then pass the responsibility to another person or department without any communication or coordination.
“You can’t just manufacture a product then throw it over the wall to the sales department!”

(the) writing on the wall

This refers to a situation where there are signs showing that a problem is going to occur.
“We all knew Larry was going to lose his job, but he refused to see the writing on the wall.”

good walls make good neighbours

This expression means that respecting one another’s privacy helps create a good relationship between neighbours.
“We try not to disturb the people next door. Good walls make good neighbours!”

bounce off the walls

Someone who is very excited about something, or full of nervous energy, is said to be bouncing off the walls.
“Danny can’t wait to start his new job. He’s bouncing off the walls!”

a window on the world

When something provides an opportunity to observe and learn about people and life in other countries, it is called a window on the world.
“The internet has become a window on the world.”

window shopping

When people go window shopping, they look at things in shop windows, without actually purchasing anything.
“I haven’t been paid yet, so I can only go window shopping.”

go out the window

If a quality, principle or opportunity goes out the window, it disappears, is lost or is abandoned.
“When the plant closed down, all hopes of finding a job went out the window.”