English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions

Showing 1-50 of 113 results for letter 'N'
Nail in the coffin
A nail in someone or something's coffin is a problem or event that is a clear step towards an inevitable failure.
Nail-biter
If a game, election, contest, etc, is a nail-biter, it is exciting because the competitors are so close that it is impossible to predict the result.
Nature abhors a vacuum
This idiom is used to express the idea that empty or unfilled spaces are unnatural as they go against the laws of nature and physics.
Nature of the beast
The basic characteristics of something is the nature of the beast; often used when there's an aspect of something that cannot be changed or that is unpleasant or difficult.
Near the knuckle
If something is near the knuckle, it is bit explicit or too close to the truth for comfort
Necessity is the mother of invention
Difficult situations make people inventive.
Neck and neck
If two competitors or candidates, etc, are neck and neck, then they are very close and neither is clearly winning.
Neck of the woods
If someone talks about their neck of the woods, they mean the area where they live.
Need no introduction
Someone who is very famous and known to everyone needs no introduction.
Needle in a haystack
If trying to find something is like looking for a needle in a haystack, it means that it is very difficult, if not impossible to find among everything around it.
Neither fish nor fowl
Something or someone that is neither fish nor fowl doesn't really fit into any one group.
Neither here nor there
If something is neither here nor there, it is of very little importance.
Neither use nor ornament
Something that serves no purpose and is not aesthetically pleasing is neither use nor ornament.
Nerves of steel
If someone has nerves of steel, they don't get frightened when other people do.
Nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs
(USA) This means that someone is very nerfvous or jumpy.
Nervous Nellie
Someone excessively worried or apprehensive is a nervous Nellie (or Nelly).
Nest egg
If you have some money saved for the future, it is a nest egg.
Never a rose without the prick
This means that good things always have something bad as well; like the thorns on the stem of a rose.
Never darken my door again
This is a way of telling someone never to visit you again.
Never say die
When someone says "Never Say Die", it means that you shouldn't give up hope.
New blood
If something needs new blood, it has become stale and needs new ideas or people to invigorate it.
New brush sweeps clean
'A new brush sweeps clean' means that someone with a new perspective can make great changes. However, the full version is 'a new brush sweeps clean, but an old brush knows the corners', which warns that experience is also a valuable thing. Sometimes 'broom' is used instead of 'brush'.
New kid on the block
A new kid on the block is a person who has recently joined a company, organisation, team, etc, and does not know how things work yet.
New lease of life
If someone finds new enthusiasm and energy for something, they have a new lease of life.
New man
(UK) A New man is a man who believes in complete equality of the sexes and shares domestic work equally.
New sheriff in town
This is used when a new authority figure takes charge.
New York minute
(USA) If something happens in a New York minute, it happens very fast.
Newfangled
People who don't like new methods, technologies, etc, describe them as newfangled, which means new but not as good or nice as the old ones.
Nice as pie
If a person is nice as pie, they are surprisingly very kind and friendly. "After our argument, she was nice as pie!"
Nick of time
If you do something in the nick of time, you do it at the very last minute or second.
Nickel tour
(USA) If someone gives you a nickel tour, they show you around a place. ('Fifty-cent tour' is also used.)
Night owl
A night owl is someone who goes to bed very late.
Ninth circle of hell
In Dante's Inferno, the ninth circle of hell is the centre where the worst punishments are found, so it is used idiomatically for something that couldn't get worse.
Nip and tuck
A close contest where neither opponent seems to be gaining the advantage.
Nip at the bit
If someone is nipping at the bit, they are anxious to get something done and don't want to wait.
Nip it in the bud
If you nip something in the bud, you deal with a problem when it is still small, before it can grow into something serious.
Nitty gritty
If people get down to the nitty gritty, they concentrate on the most important and serious issues.
No bed of roses
If something isn't a bed of roses, it is difficult.
No can do
No can do means that the speaker can't do whatever it is that has been asked of him or her.
No dice
No dice is a way of refusing to accept or agree to something.
No dog in this fight
If you have no dog in a fight, you are not concerned and will not be affected either way by the outcome of something.
No go
Something that will not work. 'A square peg in a round hole is a no go.'
No good deed goes unpunished
This means that life is unfair and people can do or try to do good things and still end up in a lot of trouble.
No great shakes
If someone is no great shakes at something, they are not very good at it.
No harm, no foul
There's no problem when no harm or damage is done, such as the time my sister-in-law stole the name we'd chosen for a boy and we both ended up having girls.
No holds barred
If there are no holds barred, there are no rules of conduct; you can do anything.
No ifs or buts
Ifs and Buts is a term used to describe the reasons people give for not wanting to do something. To show that you don't wish to accept any excuses, you can tell somebody that you wish to hear no ifs or buts Here IF & BUT have become nouns
No laughing matter
Something that is no laughing matter is very serious.
No love lost
If there is no love lost between two people they have a strong enmity towards or hate for the other and make no effort to conceal it.
No man's land
An area of uncertainty or ambiguity, or an area of land whose ownership is unknown or disputed is no man's land.

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