English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions

Showing 1-50 of 167 results for letter 'W'
Wag the dog
To 'wag the dog' means to purposely divert attention from what would otherwise be of greater importance, to something else of lesser significance. By doing so, the lesser-significant event is catapulted into the limelight, drowning proper attention to what was originally the more important issue.The expression comes from the saying that 'a dog is smarter than its tail', but if the tail were smarter, then the tail would 'wag the dog'. The expression 'wag the dog' was elaborately used as theme of the movie. 'Wag the Dog', a 1997 film starring Robert de Niro and Dustin Hoffman, produced and directed by Barry Levinson.
Wait for a raindrop in the drought
When someone is waiting for a raindrop in the drought, they are waiting or hoping for something that is extremely unlikely to happen.
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 and smell the coffee
When someone doesn't realise what is really happening or is not paying enough attention to events around them, you can tell them to wake up and smell the coffee.
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 mile in my shoes
This idiom means that you should try to understand someone before criticising them.
Walk a tightrope
If you walk a tightrope, you have to be very careful not to annoy or anger people who could become enemies.
Walk in the park
An undertaking that is easy is a walk in the park. The opposite is also true - "no walk in the park".
Walk on eggshells
If you have to walk on eggshells when with someone, you have to be very careful because they get angry or offended very easily.('Walk on eggs' is also used.) 
Walk Spanish
If you walk someone Spanish, you physically force them to leave a place or discharge them.
Walk the green mile
Someone or something that is walking the green mile is heading towards the inevitable.
Walk the plank
If someone walks the plank, they are going toward their own destruction or downfall
Walking encyclopedia
A very knowledgeable person is a walking encyclopedia.
Walking on air
If you are walking on  air, you are so happy that you feel as if you could float.
Walking on broken glass
When a person is punished for something. e.g. 'She had me walking on broken glass.'
Walking time-bomb
A person whose behaviour is erratic and totally unpredictable is a walking time-bomb.
Wallflower
(UK) A woman politician given an unimportant government position so that the government can pretend it takes women seriously is a wallflower.
Wallflower
(USA) A shy person who is not asked to dance is a wallflower.
Walter Mitty
A Walter Mitty character is an unexceptional person who is prone to daydreaming of personal triumphs.
War chest
A war chest is a fund that can be used to finance a campaign like and election or for use in emergencies or unexpected times of difficulty.
War of words
A war of words is a bitter argument between people or organisations, etc.
Warm and fuzzy
Meaning the feeling evoked as though you were enclosed in a warm and fuzzy blanket.
Warm the cockles of your heart
If something warms the cockles of your heart, it makes you feel happy.
Warpath
If someone is on the warpath, they are very angry about something and will do anything to get things sorted the way they want.
Warts and all
If you like someone warts and all, you like them with all their faults.
Wash your hands of something
If you wash your hands of something, you disassociate yourself and accept no responsibility for what will happen.
Waste not, want not
If you don't waste things, you are less likely to end up lacking.
Waste of skin
If a person is referred to as a 'waste of skin', it means he is not worth very much.
Watch grass grow
If something is like watching grass grow, it is really boring.
Watch your back
If someone is after your job, or wants to harm you in any way, you need to "watch your back" to metaphorically see what is going on behind you
Watch your six
(USA) This idiom means that you should look behind you for dangers coming that you can't see.
Watching paint dry
If something is like watching paint dry, it is really boring.
Water off a duck's back
If criticism or something similar is like water off a duck's back to somebody, they aren't affected by it in the slightest.
Water over the dam
(USA) If something has happened and cannot be changed, it is water over the dam.
Water under the bridge
If something belongs to the past and isn't important or troubling any more, it is water under the bridge.
Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink
This is from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and is used to suggest that despite being surrounded by something, you cannot benefit from it.
Watering hole
(UK) A watering hole is a pub.
Watery grave
If someone has gone to a watery grave, they have drowned.
Way to go
This  is used to congratulate someone when they achieve something.   It can be used sarcastically when then mess up.
Weak at the knees
If people go weak at the knees, they have a powerful emotional reaction to something and feel that they might fall over.
Wear many hats
If someone wears many hats, they have different roles or tasks to perform.
Wear sackcloth and ashes
If someone displays their grief or contrition publicly, they wear sackcloth and ashes.
Wear the trousers
The person who  wears the trousers is the dominant or controlling person in a relationship, especially the woman.
Wear your heart on your sleeve
Someone who wears their heart on their sleeve shows their emotions and feelings publicly.
Weasel words
If somebody uses vaque and unspecific terms to try to avoid being clear about their position or opinion, they are using weasel words.
Weather a storm
If you weather a storm, you get through a crisis or hard times.
Wedge politics
(USA) In wedge politics, one party uses an issue that they hope will divide members of a different party to create conflict and weaken it.
Wee buns
(Irish) If a task was wee buns, it means it was very easy. It is similar to "piece of cake"
Wee hours
Wee hours are the first hours after midnight.

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