Idiom Category: General, Page 23

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Tilt at windmills
A person who tilts at windmills, tries to do things that will never work in practice.
Tipping point
Small changes may have little effect until they build up to critical mass, then the next small change may suddenly change everything. this is the tipping point.
Tit for tat
If someone responds to an insult by being rude back, it's tit for tat- repaying something negative the same way.
To a fault
If something does something to a fault, they do it excessively. So someone who is generous to a fault is too generous.
To a T
If something is done to a T, it is done perfectly.
To all intents and purposes
This means in all the most important ways.
To little avail
If something is to little avail, it means that, despite great efforts, something ended in failure, but taking comfort from the knowledge that nothing else could have been done to avert or avoid the result.
Too many irons in the fire
This means juggling too many projects at once and something's bound to fail; when a smith had too many irons in his fire, he couldn't effectively keep track of all of them.
Top notch
If something is top notch, it's excellent, of the highest quality or standard.
Toss-up
A result that is still unclear and can go either way is a toss-up.
Touch and go
If something is touch and go, the result is uncertain and could be good or bad.
Touch base
If you touch base with someone, you contact them.
Touch-and-go
If something is touch-and-go, it is very uncertain; if someone is ill and may well die, then it is touch-and-go.
Tough luck
Tough luck is bad luck.
Tough row to hoe
(USA) A tough row to hoe is a situation that is difficult to handle. ('A hard row to hoe' is an alternative form.)
Trade barbs
If people trade barbs, they insult or attack each other.
Tread water
If someone is treading water, they are making no progress.
Tried and tested
If a method has been tried and tested, it is known to work or be effective because it has been successfully used long enough to be trusted.
Trump card
A trump card is a resource or strategy that is held back for use at a crucial time when it will beat rivals or opponents.
Truth will out
Truth will out means that, given time, the facts of a case will emerge no matter how people might try to conceal them.
Turn someone's crank
If you turn someone's crank, you  excite or interest them.
Turn the corner
To get over a bad run. When a loss making venture ceases to make losses, it has "turned the corner".
Turn the crack
(Scot) If you turn the crack, you change the subject of a conversation.
Turn the tables
If circumstances change completely, giving an advantage to those who seemed to be losing, the tables are turned.
Turn-up for the books
A turn-up for the books is an unexpected or surprising event.
Twenty-four seven
Twenty-four seven or 24/7 means all the time, coming from 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
U-turn
If a government changes its position radically on an issue, especially when they have promised not to do so, this is a U-turn.
Uncalled for
If someone does something bad and unnecessary without consideration for anothers feelings, what they do is uncalled for.
Under a flag of convenience
If a ship sails under a flag of convenience, it is registered in a country where taxes, etc, are lower than in the country it comes from, so if someone does something under a flag of convenience, they attempt to avoid regulations and taxes by a similar means.
Under fire
If someone is being attacked and cricitised heavily, they are under fire.
Under the radar
If something slips under the radar, it isn't detected or noticed.
Under the wire
(USA) If a person does something under the wire, they do it at the last possible moment.
Under your breath
If you say something under your breath, you whisper or say it very quietly.
Unwavering loyalty
Unwavering loyalty does not question or doubt the person or issue and supports them completely.
Up for grabs
If something is up for grabs, it is available and whoever is first or is successful will get it.
Up in the air
If a matter is up in the air, no decision has been made and there is uncertainty about it.
Up stakes
If you up stakes, you get ready to leave a place.
Up sticks
(UK) If you up sticks, you leave somewhere, usually permanently and without warning- he upped sticks and went to work abroad.
Up the ante
If you up the ante, you increase the importance or value of something, especially where there's an element of risk as the term comes from gambling, where it means to increase the stake (the amount of money bet).
Up the creek
If someone or something is up the creek, they are in real trouble. 'Up the creek without a paddle' is an alternative, and 'up shit creek (without a paddle)' is a ruder form.
Up the spout
(UK) If something has gone up the spout, it has gone wrong or been ruined.
Up to scratch
If something doesn't come up to scratch, it doesn't meet the standard required or expected.
Up to snuff
If something isn't up to snuff, it doesn't meet the standard expected.
Up to speed
If you bring someone up to speed, you update them on something.
Up to the hilt
If you do something up to the hilt, you do it completely.
Vicious circle
A vicious circle is a sequence of events that make each other worse- someone drinks because they are unhappy at work, then loses their job... 'Vicious cycle' is also used.
Waiting in the wings
If someone is waiting in the wings, or in the wings, they are in the background, but nearby, ready to act on short notice.
Wake-up call
A wake-up call is a warning of a threat or a challenge, especially when it means that people will have to change their behaviour to meet it.
Walk a fine line
If you have to walk a fine line, you have to be very careful not to annoy or anger people or groups that are competing. ('Walk a thin line' is an alternative.)
Walk a tightrope
If you walk a tightrope, you have to be very careful not to annoy or anger people who could become enemies.

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