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HOME > AMERICAN IDIOMS > Idioms starting with F

Common American Idioms for ESL students


Fair and square (adv.):
Honestly, without cheating, etc. ex. "What can I say? He beat me fair and square."

(To) face the music:
To accept the (unpleasant) consequences of what you have done. ex. "After years of bad decision making, the CEO finally had to face the music."

Fair-weather friend
A person who is only your friend when things are going well for you.

(To) feel like a new person:
To feel refreshed, rejuvenated.

(To) fall flat (on one's face):
To fail. To be unsuccessful. ex. "The initiative fell flat on its face."

(To) fall into place:
To become organized; to fit together. ex. "Once I started meditating, everything in my life began to fall into place."

(To) fall on deaf ears:
To be ignored. ex. "All of his warnings fell on deaf ears."

(To) fall short:
To lack something. ex. "We tried to raise 50,000 dollars, but we fell short by about ten thousand."

(A) falling out:
A disagreement/break in a friendship. ex. "We had a falling out over what she said."

(A) far cry:
Very different (often in a worse way). ex. "This wine is nice, but it's a far cry from the wine we had yesterday."

(To) feel like a new person:
To feel refreshed, rejuvenated.

(A) feather in (someone's) cap:
A great personal achievement. ex. "The new health care law is a feather in the cap of the current administration."

(To) feel the pinch:
To experience having less money than what one is used to. ex. "After my wife lost her job, we really began to feel the pinch." (To) feel out of place:
To feel like you don't belong. ex. "We went to Mary's party last night. There were many strange people there and I felt a little out of place, so we left."

(To have a) field day:
To be able to exploit something to become successful. etc. ex. "The press had a field day with the story of the senator's affair."

(A) fifth wheel:
Useless, out of place, unnecessary. ex. "There were only couples there. I felt like a fifth wheel."

(To) fill someone's shoes:
To replace someone. To do something someone else used to do. ex. "Cathy has been working here for 20 years. It's going to be hard to find someone to fill her shoes."

(A) fine line:
Not much difference. ex. "Sometimes there's a fine line between love and infatuation."

(To go through something with a) fine tooth comb:
To review something very carefully. ex. "The legal team went through the contract with a fine-tooth comb."

First and foremost:
First and most importantly. ex. "First and foremost, you have to treat every customer with respect."

First thing:
Before anything else. ex. "Call me first thing tomorrow morning."

(To) fish for a compliment:
To try very hard to get a compliment from someone. ex. "Stop fishing for a compliment. It's really annoying."

(To) fit the bill:
To be adequate/suitable for something. ex. "He wasn't the perfect candidate, but he fit the bill enough to get hired."

(To) fix someone (some food - like cocoa, oatmeal, etc.):
To prepare (some food) for someone. ex. "I'll fix you a cup of cocoa."

Flat broke:
Very poor. Having absolutely no money. ex. "I'm flat broke, but I don't care."

Fly off the handle:
To become very angry and emotional. ex. "Let's get out of here. He's about to fly off the handle."

(To) follow one's heart:
To act according to your feelings/ emotions. ex. "I couldn't decide what to do, so I just followed my heart."

(To) follow in (someone's) footsteps:
To follow someone's example and do what that person did/does. ex. "I followed in my brother's footsteps and also became a teacher."

Food for thought:
Something to think about.

Forbidden fruit:
Something you are not allowed to have. ex. "Never underestimate the appeal of forbidden fruit."

For crying out loud!
Something that is said when you are frustrated about how unfair or ridiculous something is.

(A) fork in the road:
A point when a road splits in two directions. ex. "They came to a fork in the road, and had to decide whether to go left or right."

Free and easy:
Casual. Not very serious. ex. "Sarah was looking for a free and easy relationship."

(A) fresh pair of eyes:
A new reader, someone who hasn't seen something before. ex. "Hey can you come check out this report? We need a fresh pair of eyes."

From day one:
From the very beginning. ex. "I've had your back from day one."

(A) full plate:
A busy schedule. ex. "P1: Mark can you help me with this project? P2: Not really, I've got a full plate right now."

Fun and games:
Playing around. Time spent doing worthless things. ex. "OK, Neil, the fun and games are over. It's time to get down to work."

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