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HOME > AMERICAN IDIOMS > Idioms starting with R

Common American Idioms for ESL students


(To) rack one's brain:
To try very hard to think of something. ex. "I racked my brain, but I couldn't remember his name."

(To) rain cats and dogs:
*somewhat archaic* To rain very hard. ex. "It was raining cats and dogs last night." NB: Because of the antiquated nature of this idiom, it's best to say "It was raining very heavily" instead.

Rain or shine:
No matter what the weather is like. ex. "The game will be played tomorrow, rain or shine."

(To) raise (some) eyebrows:
To shock. ex. "The art show raised some eyebrows due to its explicit content."

(A) redneck:
Generally refers to someone who has either bigoted or narrow-minded opinions. Often used in the context of people who live in small towns or in the country. ex. "Just because he's from Kentucky doesn't mean he's a redneck."

(To) read between the lines:
To try to understand what is meant by something that is not written/said clearly. ex. "I need to have things spelled out for me. I'm terrible at reading between the lines."

(A) regular guy:
A normal, average man (said in a fairly positive way). ex. "John? I don't know, I guess he's just a regular guy."

(To) rest one's case:
When people say "I rest my case", it usually means that they feel that they just proved that they are correct.

Right off the bat:
Right away; immediately. ex. "I knew there was something wrong with him right off the bat."

(To) ring in the new year:
To celebrate the beginning of the New Year at midnight on December 31st. ex. "This year, we'll be ringing in the new year in Paris."

(To) ring a bell:
To remind, vaguely recognize something. ex. "P1: Have you every listened to Alex Chilton? P2: I'm not sure; the name rings a bell, though. ( = I think I've heard the name before)"; "I'm sorry, that doesn't ring a bell. = I'm sorry I don't recognize/know that."

(A) rip-off or (To) rip-off:
A rip-off is something that costs more than it should. ex. "The popcorn prices at the movie theater are a rip-off."; To rip someone off means to steal from someone, or to cheat someone. ex. "The mechanic ripped me off."

(To) risk one's neck (to do something):
To risk (sometimes physical) harm to accomplish something. ex. "He's always been very mean to me. I don't plan to risk my neck to save his job."

(To) rob the cradle:
To go out with (or marry) someone who is much younger than you are. ex. "Victor's new wife is 25 years younger than him. Talk about robbing the cradle!"

(To) rock the boat:
To disturb an otherwise stable situation.

Rotten (adj):
Bad, nasty. ex. "I've done a lot of rotten things in the past."

(To) rub someone the wrong way:
To irritate someone. ex. "I'm not going out if your cousin is going. She really rubs me the wrong way."

(To) rub elbows with someone:
To associate with someone. ex. "When her singing career took off, Kathleen was able to rub elbows with the rich and famous."

(To) run a fever:
To have a fever. ex. "Jamie has been running a fever all day."

(To) run in the family:
To happen/ occur often in the family (through generations). ex. "P1: Frank is always so angry. P2: Yeah, his bad temper runs in the family."

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