AMERICAN IDIOMS (B)
Idioms starting with B
Here is our list of popular "B" idioms that are used in American English:
An apartment where a single man or woman (sometimes referred to as a "bachelorette pad") lives alone.
Back in the day:
Many years ago; a long time ago. Example: "Back in the day, we used to pay much more for laptops."
(To be) back on one's feet:
(To) recover (from an illness). Example: "You'll be back on your feet in no time."
Back to the drawing board:
A phrase that is said when you have to start some process from the beginning (usually after having failed in the previous attempt). Example: "Well, that didn't work... Looks like it's back to the drawing board."
An insult disguised as a compliment. Example of a backhanded compliment: "Hey, don't feel bad! You're not as fat as you used to be!"
To verbally criticize; to knock; to talk badly of. Example: "She's such a negative person. All she does is badmouth people all day."
Short for "emotional baggage", which is a collection of painful memories, experiences, mistrust, etc. carried around as a result of negative past experiences/relationships. Example: "I wouldn't get involved with her. She's got a lot of baggage."
In jail. Example: "The robbers were caught and are now behind bars."
(a) ball-park/ballpark figure:
A rough estimate. Example: "Can you give me a ball-park figure of what this project will cost?"
(To get/jump on the) bandwagon:
To begin to like something/start doing something because it's popular, "hip", or everyone else is doing it. Example: "Everyone's jumping on the tablet bandwagon."
(To) bank on something:
To count or rely on something.
(To) bark up the wrong tree:
To ask the wrong person; to make the wrong choice. Example: "The gangster told the cops they were barking up the wrong tree in thinking he was responsible for the robbery."
A very nervous person; someone at the verge of being neurotic. Example: "All the stress from the divorce turned John into a basket case."
(To) be a fan of someone/ something:
To like, idolize, admire someone/ or something. Example: "I'm not a big fan of heavy metal music."
(To) be in one's element:
To be completely comfortable doing something; to do something that comes very naturally to someone. Example: "When it comes to speaking in public, the senator is in his element."
(To) be the case:
To be a reality. To be the way things are. Example: "I wish I had a million dollars, but that's not the case."
(To) be up to no good:
To be planning something bad, mischievous, etc. Example: "I could tell from the look in his eyes that he was up to no good."
Tired. Example: "Man, I'm beat. I'm going to bed."
(To) beat around the bush:
To avoid getting to the point. Example: "Stop beating around the bush and tell me what you really think."
(To) beg to differ:
A polite way of saying "to disagree", most often heard in the phrase "I beg to differ!"
(To be) behind (someone):
To be in the past. To no longer be the case. Example: "I used to smoke, drink, and take drugs, but all that is behind me now."
(To get) behind (someone/something):
To support (someone/something). Example: "I'm behind you on this."
Believe it or not:
Used at the beginning of a sentence to state that something is true whether one chooses to believe it or not. Example: "Believe it or not, I still care for her."
Bent out of shape:
Upset/agitated. Example: "Don't get all bent out of shape over that."
(To give someone a) big hand:
To applaud (for someone) energetically. To give (someone) a big round of applause. Example: "Let's give our performers a big hand!"
(To have a) big mouth:
To not be able to keep a secret. Example: "Don't tell her anything. She's got a really big mouth."
An important person. Example: "All the big-shots at headquarters never listen to what we have to say."; "A big-shot reporter."
A foolish or empty man or woman. Example: "John only talks about his car and his clothes. He's a real bimbo."
(The) birds and the bees:
Sex; human reproduction. Example: "It's about time I talked to my son about the birds and the bees."
(A) bite to eat:
A snack, some food. Example: "Let's go grab a bite to eat before we go to the game."
(To) bite the hand that feeds you:
To do harm to someone who helps you.
(To) bite one's tongue:
To struggle not to say something that you want to say. Example: "I wanted to tell her the truth, but I had to bite my tongue because I had promised Bill that I wouldn't say anything."
Black sheep (of the family):
The worst or least accepted member of a family. Example: "Peter is the black sheep of his family."
A great time; a fun time. Example: "We had a blast last night."
To lose is a wasteful way/ to waste. Example: "Sarah blew all her money on gambling."
(To) blow (someone) away:
To really impress (someone). Example: "We were all blown away by her performance."
(To) blow someone's cover:
To reveal someone's secret, or true identity. Example: "The spy was very careful not to blow her cover."
(To) blow (something) out of proportion:
To make (something) seem much more important than it actually is. Example: "Of course his reaction was extreme! He always blows things out of proportion."
(To) blow (someone) out:
In sports, - to win by a large margin, by a lot of points. To be blown out means to lose by a large margin. Example: "Q: How did your team do? A: They were blown out."
Short for "body odor" - the foul smell from one's armpits, especially when one doesn't shower/wash. Example: "The woman sitting beside me had really bad B.O."
(To) bolt (for):
To run (towards). Example: "As soon as I turned around, he bolted for the door."
(to) boss (someone) around:
To be bossy towards (someone); to constantly tell (someone) what to do. Example: "It's annoying how she bosses everyone around."
Stroke of luck. Example: "We got a big break in the case today!"
(To) break even:
To neither win nor lose. Example: "Michael thought he would lose $200, but he ended up breaking even."
(To) break it up:
To end a fight. Example: "All right, break it up, you two!"
(To) break new ground:
To do something that hasn't been done before; to innovate. Example: "Dr. Davis was breaking new ground in cancer research."
(To) break someone's heart:
To cause someone (strong) emotional pain. Example: "Fiona broke James' heart when she refused to marry him."
(To) break the news to someone/ to break "it" to someone:
To tell someone some important news, usually bad news. Example: "I hate to be the one to break it to you, but your son has been selling stolen baseball cards."
Having no money. Example: "He should really get a job. He's always broke!"
Mendicant; Homeless person.
Disappointed; Dejected. Example: "He was really bummed about having lost the game."
Short for "suburbs"; Example: "Tina lives in the 'burbs with her folks."
(To really) burn someone up:
To really upset someone. Example: "It really burns me up when he talks to me in that tone of voice."
Exhausted from doing something too much and too intensely (especially used when speaking about work, etc.) Example: "He was completely burnt out after working for three weeks straight."
(To) burst into tears:
To start crying suddenly. Example: "She burst into tears when she heard the news."
To nail; To catch; Example: "He got busted for driving drunk."