American Idioms and Expressions

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This database is a comprehensive collection of all the American idioms and slang available. American Idioms are many and varied. We hope you enjoy our collection. We are adding more all the time. .

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Can't hold a candle to
What does "Can't hold a candle to" mean?
To be far less competent or have far less skills than someone else.When it comes to performance, Corvette can't hold a candle to Porsche.

Before electric lights, someone performing a task in the dark needed a helper to hold a candle to provide light while the task was performed. Much as a helper might hold a flashlight today.
Holding the candle is of course the less challenging role. Someone who is not even qualified to hold the candle is much less competent than the person performing the actual task.
Cat bird seat
What does "Cat bird seat" mean?
A highly advantaged position, to have it all.Some might describe Bill Gates as sitting in the cat bird seat.

Mocking birds are sometimes referred to as cat birds. Mocking birds typically sit at the top of a tree. Hence the cat bird seat is at the top.
Chew the fat
What does "Chew the fat" mean?
To talk about unimportant things.Sit down, have a beer, and let's chew the fat.

The Inuit (different from Eskimos) used to chew on pieces of whale blubber almost like chewing gum. The blubber took quite a while to dissolve, so it just sort of helped pass the time while they were doing something else.
Some other cultures may have used bacon fat in a similar way.
Clean bill of health
What does "Clean bill of health" mean?
To be found healthy.I visited the doctor today and was given a clean bill of health.

This widely used term has its origins in the "Bill of Health", a document issued to a ship showing that the port it sailed from suffered from no epidemic or infection at the time of departure.
Clear as a bell
What does "Clear as a bell" mean?
Clearly understood.You don't have to repeat yourself. Your message is clear as a bell.

Bells such as the type used in churches are large and loud. Their sound can be heard from a great distance. Bells sound a single, clear note so their sound is distinctive and not easily confused.
Before electric sirens and amplification systems, bells were a valuable means of signaling people and alerting of important events like an impending attack. The bell and the message intended could be heard clearly over a large area.
Back in the 1910's, many companies were trying to get into the manufacturing and selling one the hottest items around, the phonograph. One of those companies was the Sonora Chime Company.
This company started the Sonora Phonograph Company and used "Clear as a Bell" as their slogan, touting the fidelity of their machine's sound reproduction.
Close, but no cigar
What does "Close, but no cigar" mean?
Nearly achieving success, but not quite.That free throw was close, but no cigar.

Carnival games of skill, particularly shooting games, once gave out cigars as a prize. A contestant that did not quite hit the target was close, but did not get a cigar.
Cold turkey
What does "Cold turkey" mean?
To quit something abruptly.You will not lose weight until you give up chocolate, and I suggest you go cold turkey.

The expression originates from the goose bumps and palor which accompany withdrawal from narcotics or tobacco. One's skin resembles that of a plucked, cold turkey....
Cooking with gas
What does "Cooking with gas" mean?
To be working fast, proceeding rapidly.After working with those old hand tools, power tools will make you feel like you are really cooking with gas.

Although common place today, gas stoves have not always been the norm. Gas stoves started to be available in the 1800's, and until that time wood stoves were the standard.
Now you're "cooking with gas" comes from an old advertisement for gas stoves. The phrase suggests that gas is faster, easier, cleaner, better than cooking with wood.
Crocodile tears
What does "Crocodile tears" mean?
Pretending to cry in an attempt to manipulate or exploit, phony tears.OJ gave his testimony through crocodile tears.

It was often thought that crocodiles shed tears that slid down into their mouths, moistening their food and making it easier for them to swallow. Hence the tears appear to be an expression of emotion but are in fact a means to make it easier to swallow (possibly the observer).
Crossing the Rubicon
What does "Crossing the Rubicon" mean?
When a decisive and irrevocable step has been taken. To commit to a given course of action that permits no return is to cross the Rubicon.Paul knew he had passed the Rubicon when he wrote the deposit check for the hall for the wedding reception.

The actual Rubicon is a river in Northern Italy that flows into the Adriatic Sea. It is 15 miles (24 kilometers) long. The river is renowned because Julius Caesar prompted a three year civil war when he crossed this river in 49 B.C. to march against Pompey. Julius knew that "crossing the Rubicon" with his army in tact would be considered an act of aggression.
Using the word Rubicon as a figurative boundary, limiting action was first seen in the 1600s.
Cut from the same cloth
What does "Cut from the same cloth" mean?
To be similar, usually in terms of behavior.You and your father are cut from the same cloth; fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life son.

If you're making a suit, the jacket and trousers should be cut from the same piece of cloth to ensure a perfect match, since there may be differences in color, weave etc. between batches of fabric. Only if the whole suite is cut from the same piece of cloth can we be sure of the match.
Cut the Mustard
What does "Cut the Mustard" mean?
To achieve the required standardSammy is a sincere person but when his work is compared to the rest of his co-workers, he simply can't cut the mustard.

This expression is first recorded in an O. Henry story of 1902: "So I looked around and found a proposition [a woman] that exactly cut the mustard." It may come from a cowboy expression, "the proper mustard", meaning "the genuine thing", and a resulting use of "mustard" to denote the best of anything. O. Henry in Cabbages and Kings (1894) called mustard "the main attraction": "I'm not headlined in the bills, but I'm the mustard in the salad dressing, just the same." Figurative use of "mustard" as a positive superlative dates from 1659 in the phrase "keen as mustard", and use of "cut" to denote rank (as in "a cut above") dates from the 18th century. Other theories are that it is a corruption of the military phrase "to pass muster" ("muster", from Latin _monstrare_="to show", means "to assemble (troops), as for inspection"); that it refers to the practice of adding vinegar to ground-up mustard seed to "cut" the bitter taste; that it literally means "cut mustard" as an example of a difficult task, mustard being a relatively tough crop that grows close to the ground; and that it literally means "cut mustard" as an example of an easy task (via the negative expression "can't even cut the mustard"), mustard being easier to cut at the table than butter. The more-or-less synonymous expression "cut it" (as in "'Sorry' doesn't cut it") seems to be more recent and may derive from "cut the mustard".

 

call it a day
What does "call it a day" mean?
stop work for the day."It's late and you've accomplished a lot. Why don'tyou call it a day?"

can't make heads or tails of something
What does "can't make heads or tails of something" mean?
can't understand something at all;
find something confusing and illogical.
"I can't make heads or tails of your e-mail.Were you having problemswith your computer?"

catch one's eye
What does "catch one's eye" mean?
attract one's attention/interest."This brochure about Tahiti caught my eye whenI was at the travel agency."

catch some Zs
What does "catch some Zs" mean?
sleep for a while; take a nap."You look tired, John. Why don't you catch someZs?"

change one's mind
What does "change one's mind" mean?
decide to do something different from what had been decided earlier.A: "Why are you working this week? I thought you weregoing to be on vacation."B: "I changed my mind. I'm taking my vacation next month."

chicken (adjective or noun)
What does "chicken (adjective or noun)" mean?
(adjective or noun): cowardly."Fred will never ask Lucy for a date. He'schicken / a chicken.

chow
What does "chow" mean?
food."How's the chow in the university cafeteria?"

chow down
What does "chow down" mean?
eat."It's almost 6:00. Are you ready to chow down?"

cool (also kewl)
What does "cool (also kewl)" mean?
(also kewl): neat, special, wonderful."The Coffee Shoppe on the Web is really cool!"

Cool it!
What does "Cool it!" mean?
calm down."There's no need to be so upset. Just cool it!"

cost (someone) an arm and a leg
What does "cost (someone) an arm and a leg" mean?
cost a lot; be very expensive.A: "Your new car is really nice."B: "It should be. It cost (me) an arm and a leg!"

couch potato
What does "couch potato" mean?
someone who spends too much time watching TV. "You're a real couch potato, Jay. You need toget more exercise!"

cram
What does "cram" mean?
try to learn as much as possible in a very short time."Sidney did well on the test because he crammed forit. However, he probablywon't remember any of the information a couple of days from now."

crash course
What does "crash course" mean?
short course designed to give a lot of knowledge/information in a very short time."Tom's company is sending him to a business meeting inIstanbul.Should he take a crash course in Turkish?"

Cut it out!
What does "Cut it out!" mean?
stop doing something (that's annoying)."You kids are making too much noise. Cut itout!"

calculated risk
What does "calculated risk" mean?
an action that may fail but has a good chance to succeedThe company took a calculated risk when they opened a new store in a very quiet area.

call a meeting
What does "call a meeting" mean?
to request that a meeting be heldThe board of directors will call a meeting for next week.

call a meeting to order
What does "call a meeting to order" mean?
to officially start a meetingThe president called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.

call a spade a spade
What does "call a spade a spade" mean?
to speak bluntlyThe supervisor called a spade a spade when he criticized the employee for being lazy.

call for (someone)
What does "call for (someone)" mean?
to come and get someone"Could you please come and call for me before you go to the game."

call for (someone or something)
What does "call for (someone or something)" mean?
to require something, to need the services of someoneOur problems with the toilet call for a good plumber.

call it a day/night
What does "call it a day/night" mean?
to quit work and go homeI called it a day and decided to go home early.

call it quits
What does "call it quits" mean?
to stop, to finishI called it quits and went home for the day.

call of nature
What does "call of nature" mean?
the need to go to the toiletThe driver stopped his truck to answer the call of nature.

call off (something)
What does "call off (something)" mean?
to cancel somethingThe game was called off because of the rain.

call on (someone)
What does "call on (someone)" mean?
to visit someoneI plan to call on my brother during my holidays.

call on (someone)
What does "call on (someone)" mean?
to ask someone to participate in something or contribute somethingThe teacher called on me three times to answer questions in the class.

call out to (someone)
What does "call out to (someone)" mean?
to shout to someoneWe called out to our friend at the concert but she did not hear us.

call (someone) in
What does "call (someone) in" mean?
to ask someone for help, to call for special adviceWe called in a special doctor to look at the patient.

call (someone or something) into question
What does "call (someone or something) into question" mean?
to dispute or cast doubt upon someone or somethingThe lawyer called the man's statement about his neighbor into question.

call (someone) names
What does "call (someone) names" mean?
to call a person unpleasant namesThe children began to call the new student names.

call (someone) on the carpet
What does "call (someone) on the carpet" mean?
to call someone before an authority to be scolded or reprimandedThe salesman was called on the carpet by his boss for losing the big sale.

call (someone`s) bluff
What does "call (someone`s) bluff" mean?
to challenge someone to prove that what they are saying is trueI decided to call the man's bluff and I asked him to show me the evidence.

call (something) in
What does "call (something) in" mean?
to collect something for payment, to withdraw something from circulationThe bank decided to call in the business loan.

call the shots
What does "call the shots" mean?
to be in charge, to give orders The vice-president is now calling the shots and is in control of the company.

call up (someone)
What does "call up (someone)" mean?
to telephone someoneMy friend said that he will call up his parents tomorrow night.

calm down
What does "calm down" mean?
to relaxThe woman finally calmed down after the accident.

cancel (something) out
What does "cancel (something) out" mean?
to destroy the effect of somethingThe overeating by the girl cancelled out the benefits of her exercise.

can of worms
What does "can of worms" mean?
a complicated situation or problemThe lawsuit opened up a can of worms for the company.

can't do anything with (someone or something)
What does "can't do anything with (someone or something)" mean?
to be unable to manage or control someone or somethingMy sister is always complaining that she can't do anything with her daughter.

can`t see the forest for the trees
What does "can`t see the forest for the trees" mean?
to be unable to understand the whole picture of something because you are only looking at small parts of itHe has no understanding of most problems because he can't see the forest for the trees.

can't stand/stomach (someone or something)
What does "can't stand/stomach (someone or something)" mean?
to dislike someone or something very muchMy uncle cannot stand his daughter's boyfriend.

card up one`s sleeve
What does "card up one`s sleeve" mean?
a plan or argument that is kept back to be used later if neededI think that our boss has a card up his sleeve and he will be able to help us later.

cards are stacked against (someone)
What does "cards are stacked against (someone)" mean?
luck is against someoneThe cards have been stacked against the young boy since he was born.

carrot and stick
What does "carrot and stick" mean?
a reward or a threat of punishment at the same timeThe trade negotiators took a carrot-and-stick approach to the automobile talks.

carried away
What does "carried away" mean?
to lose one's control or judgement due to strong feelingsI got carried away and yelled at my friend for losing my textbook.

carry a lot of weight with (someone or something)
What does "carry a lot of weight with (someone or something)" mean?
to be very influential with someone or a group of peopleThe man's education and experience carry a lot of weight in the university.

carry a tune
What does "carry a tune" mean?
to be able to sing accurately, to have musical abilityThe girl in the music class cannot carry a tune.

carry coals to Newcastle
What does "carry coals to Newcastle" mean?
to bring something of which there is plenty, to duplicate something (Newcastle is a town in England where there is a lot of coal)Bringing extra food to the farmer`s picnic was like bringing coals to Newcastle.

carry out (something)
What does "carry out (something)" mean?
to do something, to put something (a plan) into action, to accomplish somethingWe were able to carry out the move with no problems.

carry the torch
What does "carry the torch" mean?
to show loyalty to a cause or a personThe man has been carrying the torch for the candidate for a long time.

carry the weight of the world on one's shoulders
What does "carry the weight of the world on one's shoulders" mean?
to appear to be burdened by all the problems of the worldMy aunt feels that she is working too hard and that she is carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders.

carry through with (something)
What does "carry through with (something)" mean?
to put a plan into actionThe company carried through with its plan to open a new factory.

cash-and-carry
What does "cash-and-carry" mean?
a system where you pay cash for some goods and then carry them awayThe supermarkets in our city always operate on a cash-and-carry basis.

cash cow
What does "cash cow " mean?
a good source of moneyHis new business is a cash cow and he is making much money.

cast around/about for (someone or something)
What does "cast around/about for (someone or something)" mean?
to look for someone or somethingWe have been casting around for a new file clerk in our company.

cast aspersions on (someone)
What does "cast aspersions on (someone)" mean?
to make insulting remarks about someoneThe woman is always casting aspersions on her colleagues at work.

cast doubts on (someone or something)
What does "cast doubts on (someone or something)" mean?
to cause someone or something to be doubtedThe first witness at the trial cast doubts on the testimony of the main witness.

cast in the same mold
What does "cast in the same mold" mean?
to be very similarThe two sisters were cast in the same mold and were almost identical.

cast one's lot in with (someone)
What does "cast one's lot in with (someone)" mean?
to join with someone and accept whatever happensThe woman cast her lot in with the company and worked hard to keep the business going.

cast one's vote
What does "cast one's vote" mean?
to voteWe arrived early to cast our vote in the election.

castles in the air
What does "castles in the air" mean?
daydreamsMy sister is always building castles in the air and is very unrealistic.

cat burglar
What does "cat burglar" mean?
a burglar who enters a building by climbing a wall etc.Our stereo was stolen when a cat burglar entered our apartment.

cat gets one`s tongue
What does "cat gets one`s tongue" mean?
the inability to say somethingI think that the cat got our supervisor's tongue. She has not said anything since the meeting started.

catch a cold
What does "catch a cold" mean?
to become sick with a coldI caught a cold because of the rain and the cold weather.

catch fire
What does "catch fire" mean?
to begin to burnWe were very careful that the wooden house would not catch fire.

catch forty winks
What does "catch forty winks" mean?
to get some sleepI was very tired so I stopped my car in order to catch forty winks.

catch one`s breath
What does "catch one`s breath" mean?
to stop to rest and regain one`s normal breathingAfter running from the station it took a moment to catch my breath.

catch some Z's
What does "catch some Z's" mean?
to get some sleepI needed to catch some Z's after working hard all weekend.

catch sight of (someone or something)
What does "catch sight of (someone or something)" mean?
to see someone or something brieflyThe police caught sight of the robber and began to chase him.

catch (someone) in the act of (doing something)
What does "catch (someone) in the act of (doing something)" mean?
to catch someone doing something illegal or privateThe police caught the politician in the act of taking money from the business owner.

catch (someone) napping
What does "catch (someone) napping" mean?
to find someone asleep, to find someone unprepared for somethingThe boss caught the employee napping and became very angry.

catch (someone) off balance
What does "catch (someone) off balance" mean?
to surprise someone who is not preparedWe were caught off balance when we discovered that our business license was no good.

catch (someone) off guard
What does "catch (someone) off guard" mean?
to catch a person at a time of carelessnessI was caught off guard when the teacher asked me about my homework.

catch (someone) red-handed
What does "catch (someone) red-handed" mean?
to find someone in the middle of doing something wrongThe clerk caught the boy red-handed when he was stealing the candy.

catch up with (someone or something)

- to become even with someone (in a race or in schoolwork etc.)I think that it is too late to catch up with the

catch up with (someone or something)
What does "catch up with (someone or something)" mean?
to become even with someone (in a race or in schoolwork etc.)I think that it is too late to catch up with the rest of the class now.

caught in the middle/cross fire
What does "caught in the middle/cross fire" mean?
to be caught between two opposing people or groups so it is difficult to remain neutralI was caught in the middle when my friend and his girlfriend had a big fight.

caught short
What does "caught short" mean?
to not have enough of something (usually money) when you need itI was caught short last month and could not pay my credit card bill.

caught unaware
What does "caught unaware" mean?
to be surprised and unprepared for somethingEverybody was caught unaware by the sudden change in government policy.

cause a stir
What does "cause a stir" mean?
to cause people to become agitated and alarmed about somethingThe soccer player caused a stir when he began to criticize the referee.

cause eyebrows to raise
What does "cause eyebrows to raise" mean?
to shock peopleI caused eyebrows to raise when I decided not to accept the award from my company.

cause tongues to wag
What does "cause tongues to wag" mean?
to give people something to gossip aboutMy sister caused tongues to wag when she came to the party without her husband.

chalk (something) up to (something)
What does "chalk (something) up to (something)" mean?
to recognize something as the cause of something elseWe were able to chalk our success up to our new boat.

chalk up (something)
What does "chalk up (something)" mean?
to record somethingThe stock prices of the company chalked up a big increase last week.

champ at the bit
What does "champ at the bit" mean?
to be ready and anxious to do somethingEverybody was champing at the bit to start writing the test.

chance (something)
What does "chance (something)" mean?
to risk doing somethingWe did not want to chance driving during the storm so we stayed home.

chance upon (someone or something)
What does "chance upon (someone or something)" mean?
to find someone or something by chanceI chanced upon a very interesting book during my research.

change hands
What does "change hands" mean?
to be transferred from one person to anotherThe small business changed hands many times during the last several years.

change horses in midstream
What does "change horses in midstream" mean?
to make new plans or choose a new leader in the middle of an important activityThe company changed horses in midstream and totally changed their policy.

change of heart
What does "change of heart" mean?
a change in the way one feels about somethingThe woman had a change of heart and decided to let her child go to the circus.

change of pace
What does "change of pace" mean?
the addition of some variety to one's lifeWe decided to go to the lake for a change of pace and to get away from our busy schedules.

change of scenery
What does "change of scenery" mean?
a move to a different place where things are differentMy sister and her husband have decided to move because they want a change of scenery.

change one`s mind
What does "change one`s mind" mean?
to change one`s decisionMy friend changed his mind and said that he would not go to the movie tonight.

change one`s tune
What does "change one`s tune" mean?
to make a change in one`s story/statement/opinion/policyOur supervisor has changed his tune recently and agrees that we need to do things differently.

change the subject
What does "change the subject" mean?
to begin talking about something differentI tried to change the subject when my friend began to talk about the money that I owed him.

cheat on (someone)
What does "cheat on (someone)" mean?
to be unfaithful to someoneThe man began cheating on his wife which was the cause of their divorce.

cheek by jowl
What does "cheek by jowl" mean?
side by side, in close intimacyThe fans entered the stadium cheek by jowl.

cheer (someone) on
What does "cheer (someone) on" mean?
to encourage someone who is trying to do somethingEverybody came to the stadium to cheer on the home team.

cheer (someone) up
What does "cheer (someone) up" mean?
to make a sad person happyWe took our friend to a nice restaurant to cheer her up.

chew out (someone)
What does "chew out (someone)" mean?
to scold someone roughlyThe teacher chewed out the student for talking in class.

chew the fat
What does "chew the fat" mean?
to chatThe two men were chewing the fat in front of the house.

chicken feed
What does "chicken feed" mean?
a small amount of moneyThe man sold his car for chicken feed because he needed the money.

chicken out (of something)
What does "chicken out (of something)" mean?
to stop doing something because of fearI chickened out of jumping into the lake from the high diving board.

chilled to the bone
What does "chilled to the bone" mean?
very coldI was chilled to the bone when I came in out of the rain.

chime in
What does "chime in" mean?
to join in a song or conversationWe were having a nice conversation until our friend chimed in and started complaining about everything.

chip in
What does "chip in" mean?
to contribute or pay jointly for somethingWe chipped in and bought our father a birthday present.

chip off the old block
What does "chip off the old block" mean?
a person who looks or acts like one of his parentsThe boy is a chip off the old block and acts exactly like his father.

chips are down
What does "chips are down" mean?
the time when one faces the greatest obstaclesWhen the chips are down the boy goes to his father for advice and encouragement.

chisel (someone) out of (something)
What does "chisel (someone) out of (something)" mean?
to cheat someone to get moneyMy friend tried to chisel his brother out of some money.

choke (someone) up
What does "choke (someone) up" mean?
to make someone cry or become overemotional and speechlessI became choked up when I heard the story of the boy's illness.

choke (something) off
What does "choke (something) off" mean?
to force something to an end/stopThe government was able to choke off the flow of money to the criminal gang.

circle the wagons
What does "circle the wagons" mean?
to set up a defense against an enemyThe management team began to circle the wagons as the accounting scandal became worse.

claim a life
What does "claim a life" mean?
to take the life of someoneThe accident on the freeway claimed the life of two people.

clam up
What does "clam up" mean?
to stop talkingThe girl clammed up when her boyfriend entered the room.

clamp down on (someone or something)
What does "clamp down on (someone or something)" mean?
to become strict with someone or about somethingThe police plan to clamp down on drivers who drive too fast.

clean bill of health
What does "clean bill of health" mean?
the assurance that an animal or person is healthyThe astronaut was given a clean bill of health before he began training.

clean slate
What does "clean slate" mean?
a record that shows no bad behavior or other problems or past bad actsThe man started off with a clean slate after he lost his previous job.

clean up one's act
What does "clean up one's act" mean?
to improve one's performanceThe mayor will have to clean up his act if he wants to get elected again.

clear of (something)
What does "clear of (something)" mean?
to be not touching somethingWe checked that the ladder was clear of the electrical wires before we painted the house.

clear out (of somewhere)
What does "clear out (of somewhere)" mean?
to leave, to get out (usually quickly or abruptly)We cleared out of the building as soon as our class was over.

clear out (something)
What does "clear out (something)" mean?
to clean somewhere, to remove somethingWe cleared out the room before we could start painting.

clear sailing
What does "clear sailing" mean?
to be an easy situationIt was clear sailing when we finished work and began our journey.

clear (someone's) name
What does "clear (someone's) name" mean?
to prove that someone is not guilty of somethingThe man tried very hard to clear his name regarding his past criminal activity.

clear the air
What does "clear the air" mean?
to calm down and remove bad feelingsWe had a big argument but now it is time to clear the air.

clear the decks
What does "clear the decks" mean?
to clear away things and prepare for action, to get out of the way"Let`s clear the decks and get everyone out of the house so that we can begin work."

clear the table
What does "clear the table" mean?
to remove the dishes and eating utensils from a tableAfter we finished eating we quickly cleared the table.

clear up (something)
What does "clear up (something)" mean?
to solve or explain (a problem etc.)We finally cleared up the problem that we were having with our computers.

cliffhanger
What does "cliffhanger" mean?
a sports event/movie/election where the outcome is uncertain until the very endThe playoff game was a cliffhanger and the most exciting game of the year.

climb the wall
What does "climb the wall" mean?
to be so bored that you become anxious and frustratedThe woman began to climb the wall after only a few days at her new job.

clip joint
What does "clip joint" mean?
a low-class business where people are cheatedThe men went into a clip joint near the bus station and had to pay a lot of money.

clip (someone`s) wings
What does "clip (someone`s) wings" mean?
to limit someone`s activities or possibilitiesThe company decided to clip the manager's wings and took away his expense account.

cloak-and-dagger
What does "cloak-and-dagger" mean?
involving secercy and plottingThe agents were involved in cloak-and-dagger diplomacy over the spy scandal.

close at hand
What does "close at hand" mean?
to be within reachThe day that the new coach would be chosen was now close at hand.

close call/shave
What does "close call/shave" mean?
an accident that almost happens but does not happenI had a close call this morning when the truck almost hit me.

close in on (someone or something)
What does "close in on (someone or something)" mean?
to overwhelm or surround someone or somethingThe soldiers quickly closed in on the enemy position.

close one's eyes to (something)
What does "close one's eyes to (something)" mean?
to ignore somethingThe teacher closed her eyes to the misbehavior of the students.

close ranks
What does "close ranks" mean?
to come together for fighting, to unite and work togetherThe political parties closed ranks and stopped arguing among themselves.

close the books (on someone or something)
What does "close the books (on someone or something)" mean?
to put an end to something (like the books in accounting records)The owners of the team closed the books on the idea of building a new stadium.

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