Idioms Beginning With: 'C'
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Cake's not worth the candle
If someone says that the cake's not worth the candle, they mean that the result will not be worth the effort put in to achieve it.
A calf lick is the weird parting in your fringe where your hair grows in a different direction, usually to one side.
Call a spade a spade
A person who calls a spade a spade is one speaks frankly and makes little or no attempt to conceal their opinions or to spare the feelings of their audience.
Call it a day
If you call it a day, you stop doing something for a while, normally at least until the following day.
Call on the carpet
If you are called on the carpet, you are summoned for a reprimand by superiors or others in power.
Call the dogs off
If someone calls off their dogs, they stop attacking or criticising someone.
Call the shots
If you call the shots, you are in charge and tell people what to do.
Call the tune
The person who calls the tune makes the important decisions about something.
If you call time on something, you decide it is time to end it.
Calm before the storm
A calm time immediately before period of violent activity or argument is the calm before the storm.
A camel's nose is a small, seemingly harmless act that can have undesirable consequences if allowed.
Can of worms
If an action can create serious problems, it is opening a can of worms.
Can't beat that
If you can't beat something, it's the best and you aren't going to find anything better.
Can't dance and it's too wet to plow
When you can't dance and it's too wet to plow, you may as well do something because you can't or don't have the opportunity to do anything else.
Can't do it for toffee
If you can't so something for toffee, you are incapable of doing something properly or to any sort of standard.
Can't get a word in edgeways
If you can't get a word in edgeways, you don't have the chance to say anything because the person you are with is is talking all the time.
Can't get to 1st base
If you can't get to first base, you're having difficulties starting something.
Can't hack it
Unable to perform an act, duty, job etc. (example: I have to quit my job as a computer technician; I just can't hack it.)
Can't hold a candle
If something can't hold a candle to something else, it is much worse.
Can't see the forest for its trees
If someone can't see the forest for its trees, they are too focused on specific details to see the picture as a whole.
Can't see your hand in front of your face
If you can't see your hand in front of your face, visibility is very poor due to something like bad fog.
Canary in a coal mine
A canary in a coal mine is an early warning of danger.
Cap in hand
If you go cap in hand, you humbly ask someone for something like forgiveness or money.
Card up your sleeve
If you have a card up your sleeve, you have a surprise plan or idea that you are keeping back until the time is right.
A carpetbagger is an opportunist without any scruples or ethics, or a politican who wants to represent a place they have no connection with.
Carrot and stick
If someone offers a carrot and stick, they offer an incentive to do something combined with the threat of punishment.
Carry the can
If you carry the can, you take the blame for something, even though you didn't do it or are only partly at fault.
Carry the day
If something carries the day, it wins a battle (the sense is that the battle has been long and could have gone either way) or competition for supremacy.
Case by case
If things are done case by case, each situation or issue is handled separately on its own merits and demerits.
Case in point
Meaning an instance of something has just occurred that was previously discussed. For instance, a person may have told another that something always happens. Later that day, they see it happening, and the informer might say, 'case in point'.
A product, business, etc, that generates a continuous flow of money or a high proportion of overall profits is a cash cow.
Cash in your chips
If you cash in your chips, you sell something to get what profit you can because you think its value is going to fall. It can also mean 'to die'.
Cast a long shadow
Something or someone that casts a long shadow has considerable influence on other people or events.
If you cast aspersion, you try to blacken someone's name and make people think badly of them.
Cast doubt on
If you make other people not sure about a matter, then you have cast doubt on it.
Cast iron stomach
A person with a cast iron stomach can eat or drink anything without any ill effects.
Cast pearls before swine
If you cast pearls before swine, you offer something of value to someone who doesn't appreciate it- 'swine' are 'pigs'.
Cast sheep's eyes at
If you cast sheep's eyes at at someone, you look lovingly or with longing at them.
Cast your eye over
If you cast your eye over something, you look at it or check it quickly, without looking carefully at the details.
Cast your mind back
If somebody tells you to cast your mind back on something, they want you to think about something that happened in the past, but which you might not remember very well, and to try to remember as much as possible.
Cast your net widely
If you cast your net widely, you use a wide range of sources when trying to find something.
The casting vote is a vote given to a chairman or president that is used when there is a deadlock.
Castles in the air
Plans that are impractical and will never work out are castles in the air.
Cat among the pigeons
If something or someone puts, or sets or lets, the cat among the pigeons, they create a disturbance and cause trouble.
Cat and dog life
If people lead a cat and dog life, they are always arguing.
Cat and mouse
If people play cat and mouse, one side is trying to catch or trap the other, with evasions and near-misses.
A cat burglar is a skillful thief who breaks into places without disturbing people or setting off alarms.
Cat fur and kitty britches
When I used to ask my grandma what was for dinner, she would say 'cat fur and kitty britches'. This was her Ozark way of telling me that I would get what she cooked. (Ozark is a region in the center of the United States)
Cat got your tongue?
If someone asks if the cat has got your tongue, they want to know why you are not speaking when they think you should.
If you have a short sleep during the day, you are cat napping.
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