English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions

Showing 1-50 of 352 results for letter 'S'
Sabre-rattling
When people, states, etc, threaten to use force as a way of getting what they want, especially when they are unlikely to use force, they are sabre-rattling.
Sacred cow
Something that is a sacred cow is held in such respect that it cannot be criticised or attacked.
Safe and sound
If you arrive safe and sound, then nothing has harmed you on your way.
Safe as houses
Something that is as safe as houses is very secure or certain.
Safe bet
A proposition that is a safe bet doesn't have any risks attached.
Safe pair of hands
A person who can be trusted to do something without causing any trouble is a safe pair of hands.
Safety in numbers
If a lot of people do something risky at the same time, the risk is reduced because there is safety in numbers.
Saigon moment
(USA) A Saigon moment is when people realise that something has gone wrong and that they will lose or fail.
Sail close to the wind
If you sail close to the wind, you take risks to do something, going close to the limit of what is allowed or acceptable.
Sail under false colours
Someone who sails under false colours (colors) is hypocritical or pretends to be something they aren't in order to deceive people.
Salad days
Your salad days are an especially happy period of your life.
Salt in a wound
If you rub salt in a wound, you make someone feel bad about something that is already a painful experience. 'Pour salt on a wound' is an alternative form of the idiom.
Salt of the earth
People who are salt of the earth are decent, dependable and unpretentious.
Salty dog
A salty dog is an experienced sailor.
Same old, same old
When nothing changes, it's the same old, same old.
Save face
If someone saves face, they manage to protect their reputation.
Save someone's bacon
If something saves your bacon, it saves your life or rescues you from a desperate situation. People can also save your bacon.
Save your skin
If someone saves their skin, they manage to avoid getting into serious trouble.
Saved by the bell
If you are saved by the bell, you are rescued from a danger or a tricky situation just in time.
Saving grace
If someone has some character defects, but has a characteristic that compensate for their failings and shortcomings, this is their saving grace.
Say uncle
(USA) If you say uncle, you admit defeat. ('Cry uncle' is an alternative form.)
Say when
People say this when pouring a drink as a way of telling you to tell them when there's enough in your glass.
Say-so
If you do something on someone else's say-so, you do it on the authority, advice or recommendation.
Saying is one thing; doing is another
It's harder to do something than it is to say that you will do it.
Scales fall from your eyes
When the scales fall from your eyes, you suddenly realise the truth about something.
Scarce as hen's teeth
Hens do not have any teeth, so something that is as scarce as hen's teeth is extremely rare.("Rare as hen's teeth" is also used.)
Scare the daylights out of someone
If you scare the daylights out of someone, you terrify them. (This can be made even stronger by saying 'the living daylights'.)
Scarlet woman
This idiom is used as a pejorative term for a sexually promiscuous woman, especially an adulteress.
Scattered to the four winds
If something's scattered to the four winds, it goes out in all directions.
Scent blood
If you can scent blood, you feel that a rival is having difficulties and you are going to beat them.
Schoolyard pick
When people take it in turns to choose a member of a team, it is a schoolyard pick.
Scot free
If someone escapes scot free, they avoid payment or punishment. 'Scot' is an old word for a tax, so it originally referred to avoiding taxes, though now has a wider sense of not being punished for someone that you have done.
Scotch Mist
The phrase 'Scotch mist' is used humorously to refer to something that is hard to find or doesn't exist - something imagined.
Scraping the barrel
When all the best people, things or ideas and so on are used up and people try to make do with what they have left, they are scraping the barrel.
Scratch the surface
When you scratch the surface of  something, you have a superficial knowledge or understanding of it.
Scream bloody murder
If you scream bloody murder, you protest loudly and angrily, or scream in fear.
Scream blue murder
If someone shouts very loudly in anger, or fear, they scream blue murder.
Screw loose
If someone has a screw loose, they are crazy.
Screwed if you do, screwed if you don't
This means that no matter what you decide or do in a situation, there will be negative consequences.
Sea change
An expression that connotes big change; a significant change in comparison to a minor, trivial or insignificant change.
Sea legs
If you are getting your sea legs, it takes you a while to get used to something new.
Seamy side
The seamy side of something is the unpleasant or sordid aspect it has.
Searching question
A searching question goes straight to the heart of the subject matter, possibly requiring an answer with a degree of honesty that the other person finds uncomfortable.
Second thoughts
If some has second thoughts, they start to think that an idea, etc, is not as good as it sounded at first and are starting to have doubts.
Second wind
If you overcome tiredness and find new energy and enthusiasm, you have second wind.
Second-guess
If you second-guess someone, you try to predict what they will do.
See eye to eye
If people see eye to eye, they agree about everything.
See red
If someone sees red, they become very angry about something.
See the elephant
If you see the elephant, you experience much more than you wish to; it is often used when a soldier goes into a warzone for the first time.
See the light
When someone sees the light, they realise the truth.

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