English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
results for letter 'B
- Burning daylight
- Burning daylight is wasting time.
- Burning question
- A burning question is something we all want to know about.
- Burr up the ass
- (USA) If you have a burr up your ass, you are very upset about something that has happened and intend to do something about it to correct it.
- Burst at the seams
- To be filled to or beyond normal capacity: This room will be bursting at the seams when all the guests arrive.
- Burst your bubble
- If you correct someone's ignorant or delusional belief, you burst their bubble.
(Bust someone's bubble is also used.)
- Bury the hatchet
- If you bury the hatchet, you make peace with someone and stop arguing or fighting.
- Bury your head in the sand
- If someone buries their head in the sand, they ignore something that is obviously wrong.
- Busman's holiday
- A busman's holiday is when you spend your free time doing the same sort of work as you do in your job.
- Bust my chops
- When someone says that they're not going to bust their chops, it means they are not going to work that hard or make much effort.
- Busted flush
- Someone or something that had great potential but ended up a useless failure is a busted flush.
- Busy as a beaver
- If you're as busy as a beaver, you're very busy indeed.
- Busy as a bee
- If you are as busy as a bee, you are very busy indeed.
- Busy as a one-armed paper hanger
- If you've ever hung wallpaper, you know it can get pretty intense when you've spread the wallpaper paste and you then have to hoist it up the ladder to the corner of the ceiling to hang it on the wall. It is tricky to get it perfectly lined up with the vertical plumb line, and get it glued evenly to the wall, without bubbles or lumps. And it all has to be done in fairly short time, before the paste dries. It's a tricky job at the best of times, when you have two arms. Imagine the hassle of doing all that at once -- with one arm!
- Butt naked
- If someone is butt naked, they have no clothes on at all, often when they can be seen.
- Butt of a joke
- If something or someone becomes the butt of a joke it or they are not taken seriously anymore.
- Butter wouldn't melt in their mouth
- If someone looks as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouth, they look very innocent.
- Someone who has butterfingers is clumsy and drops things.
- Butterflies in your stomach
- The nervous feeling before something important or stressful is known as butterflies in your stomach.
- Button your lip
- If you button your lip, you keep quiet and don't speak. It is also used as a way of telling someone to shut up.
- Buy the farm
- When somebody has bought the farm, they have died.
- By a hair's breadth
- If a person escapes from some danger by a hair's breadth, they only just managed to avoid it. The breadth is the thickness of a hair, so they probably feel somewhat lucky because the margin between success and what could easily have been failure was so close.
- By a long chalk
- (UK) If you beat somebody by a long chalk, you win easily and comfortably.
- By a mile
- If you miss, lose, win, etc, something by a mile, there is a considerable difference in standard oir performance between you and the others. ('By miles' is also used.)
- By a whisker
- If you do something by a whisker, you only just manage to do it and come very near indeed to failing.
- By and large
- By and large means usually or generally.
- By cracky
- A term used by rural folks in years past to emphasize a matter of importance or urgency. An example: 'By cracky, you need to get out there in the field with that mule and plow and finish the sod-busting before dark.'
- By dint of
- This means 'as a result of' or 'because of':
It would be good to think he'd risen to position of Chief Executive by dint of hard work.
- By heart
- If you learn something by heart, you learn it word for word.
- By hook or by crook
- If you are prepared to do something by hook or by crook, you are willing to do anything, good or bad, to reach your goal.
- By leaps and bounds
- Something that happens by leaps and bounds happens very quickly in big steps.
- By the back door
- If something is started or introduced by the back door, then it is not done openly or by following the proper procedures.
- By the book
- If you do something by the book, you do it exactly as you are supposed to.
- By the by
- This is used as a way of introducing an incidental topic in a conversation or to say that something is irrelevant. ('By the bye' is also used.)
- By the numbers
- If something is done by the numbers, it is done in a mechanical manner without room for creativity.
- By the same token
- If someone applies the same rule to different situations, they judge them by the same token:
If things go well, he's full of praise, but, by the same token, when things go wrong he gets furious.
- By the seat of your pants
- If you do something by the seat of your pants, you achieve something, but only by a narrow margin or do something without advance preparation.
- By the skin of your teeth
- If you do something by the skin of your teeth, you only just manage to do it and come very near indeed to failing.
- By word of mouth
- If something becomes known by word of mouth, it gets known by being talked about rather than through publicity or advertising, etc.
If you have a question about idioms, ask us about it in our Idioms Discussion Forum. If you know of an idiom that you would like to be listed here, please use our online form to suggest an idiom.
Members Get More
- Sign up for free and gain access to many more idioms and slang expressions. Register now