black tie event

A black tie event is a formal event at which men are required to wear a dinner jacket, or tuxedo, and a black bow tie.
“I need to know if it’s going to be a casual get-together or a black tie event.”

bow and scrape

To say that someone is bowing and scraping means that they are being excessively polite or servile.
“The President was greeted with much bowing and scraping.”

the done thing

The correct way to behave in a particular social situation is called the done thing.
“Wearing jeans to play golf is not the done thing in this club. “

excuse/pardon my French

The expression excuse/pardon my French is used as an apology for using crude or offensive language.
“He’s a bloody nuisance, if you’ll excuse my French.”


If someone gatecrashes, they attend a private social event without being invited.
“We need volunteers to keep an eye out for gatecrashers tonight.”

mind/watch your language

The expression mind/watch your language is used to warn someone to be careful what they say so as not to upset or offend anyone.
“Your grandfather won’t tolerate rudeness, so mind your language when we go to visit him!”

mind your Ps and Qs

If you tell someone to mind their Ps and Qs, you are advising them to be careful about how they behave and what they say.
“Politeness is very important to my grandparents, so mind your Ps and Qs.”

overstep the mark

If you overstep the mark, you go too far and upset someone by saying something or behaving in a way that is unacceptable.
“Jenny is angry with her son. He overstepped the mark when he called his grandfather an ‘old fool’.”

speak out of turn

If someone speaks out of turn, either they intervene at the wrong moment or they say something tactless or inappropriate.
“At the first meeting I was afraid of speaking out of turn.”

stand on ceremony

When people stand on ceremony, they behave in a very formal way.
“We’d be delighted to come and see you but please don’t stand on ceremony.”

take French leave

If you leave an official or social event without notifying the person who invited you, you take French leave.
“Is Bill coming back for the closing speech or has he taken French leave?”

time-honoured practice

A custom that is universally respected, or a traditional way of doing something, is called a time-honoured practice.
“Guests were greeted according to a time-honored practice.”