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.
|In the crapper|
What does "In the crapper" mean?
|In the toilet, soiled; or hopelessly irretrievable.||Your relationship with Mary went right in the crapper the minute you told her to, "Rub that pie on her hips because that is where it's going to end up anyway".|
Thomas Crapper of England is credited for the design and implementation of modern indoor plumbing (including the flushable toilet). Although there is conciderable evidence to the contrary, restrooms/bathrooms are still often referred to as "The Crapper." This word (among others) was introduced to America by their World War I soldiers returning home from Europe.
|In the country of the BLIND, the ONE-EYED man is KING|
What does "In the country of the BLIND, the ONE-EYED man is KING" mean?
|A man of even limited ability is at a great advantage in
the company of those less able.||It doesn't matter if you don't completely understand how the Internet works! You know more than anyone else here. So, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.|
An English proverb cited by John Ray in 1678 tells us that "a man were better be half blind than have both eyes out." Not only would he be able to avoid the ditch (fallen into by the blind leading the blind), he might find himself in a position if leadership. "In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king" is quoted in Erasmus' "Adagia," in 1536. We also see it in John Palsgrave's translation of the "Comedy of Acolastus." In 1522, in his "Why Come Yet Not to Court?" John Skelton tells us that: "an one eyed man is Well sighted when is is amonge blynde men."
|In the black|
What does "In the black" mean?
|To be making money.||Live below your means and you will always be running in the black.|
Standard practice for accounting is to record positive numbers in black ink and negative numbers in red ink. Operating "in the black" is to record positive numbers, that is to say earnings.
|In the doldrums|
What does "In the doldrums" mean?
|To be depressed or unmotivated.||I'd like to provide a good example, but I'm feeling in the doldrums.|
Doldrums is the name of a place in the ocean that is located near the equator and is characterized by unstable trade winds. A sailing ship caught in the Doldrums can be stranded due to lack of wind.
|In the red|
What does "In the red" mean?
|To be losing money.||Putting kids through college is sure to put you in the red.|
Standard practice for accounting is to record positive numbers in black ink and negative numbers in red ink. Operating "in the red" is to record negative numbers, that is to say losses.
No doubt red ink was chosen because it is a clear contrast for black and is not easily mistaken. However there is a bit more history to the red ink.
In medieval times the church, being the only center of literacy and learning in the west, maintained meticulous accounting records. Ink was rare and expensive. When monasteries and far-flung churches had little money and they could not afford ink, domesticated animals were bled to provide a substitute in the dipping wells. As a result, poor financial records were usually written "in the red.
|Irons in the fire|
What does "Irons in the fire" mean?
|Having or pursuing multiple opportunities
simultaneously.||I have been out of work for 6 months, but I have a number of irons in the fire.|
Blacksmiths traditionally worked iron into shape by hammering. The iron being worked would be heated in the fire until it was red-hot and malleable. The Smith removes the iron from the fire and shapes it with repeated blows from a hammer. They need to work quickly before the iron cools. Once the iron is cool, it becomes brittle and cannot be hammered.
Once removed from the fire, the iron cools quickly. It takes longer to heat the iron to red-hot than it takes for it to cool. Blacksmiths work more efficiently by having multiple pieces of iron in the fire heating simultaneously. In that way, the Smith can always have a piece of iron red-hot and ready for hammering. The cooled piece would be returned to the fire if it needed more hammering.
|if I had my druthers|
What does "if I had my druthers" mean?
| if I could do what I
wanted/preferred.||"If I had my druthers, I'd stay home from worktoday."|
|in over one's head|
What does "in over one's head" mean?
| in a situation that is too much / too
difficult for one to manage.||"Do you have time to help me? I thought I could dothis myself,but I'm afraid I'm in over my head. I just can't handle thingsalone."|
What does "inside out" mean?
| with the inner part on the outside and the
outer part on the inside.||"Why are you wearing your tee shirt insideout?"|
What does "in stock" mean?
| in supply and available to buy / sell.||"I'm sorry, but we just sold our last pair of hikingboots. If you come backat the end of the week, however, we should have some more instock.|
|in the black|
What does "in the black" mean?
| profitable; not showing a financial loss.
||"What did you do to increase profit and eliminatelosses?We've been in the black for two months in a row."|
|in the red|
What does "in the red" mean?
| unprofitable; showing a financial loss.||"We have to do something to increase profit anddecrease losses.We've been in the red for two months in a row."|
What does "in time" mean?
| not late.||"I thought I was going to be late for my flight, butit was delayed, so I was still in time."|
|in charge of something|
What does "in charge of something" mean?
| to be responsible for an activity or group of people||Our teacher is in charge of selling tickets for the school dance.|
What does "idiot box" mean?
| television set||My friend sits in front of the idiot box all day and never gets any work done.|
|if looks could kill|
What does "if looks could kill" mean?
| used when someone makes an unfriendly look or frowns at someone||If looks could kill then the horrible way that the woman looked at me would have killed me instantly.|
What does "if so" mean?
| if that is the case||The lawyer said that he wants to meet us this afternoon but if so then we will not have any documents ready to discuss.|
|if the shoe fits, wear it|
What does "if the shoe fits, wear it" mean?
| if something that is said describes you then it probably is meant for you as well||He was complaining that many workers at his company were lazy. However, his friend looked at him and said that if the shoe fits, wear it. |
|if worst comes to worst|
What does "if worst comes to worst" mean?
| if the worst possible thing happens||If worst comes to worst we can cancel our holiday and go next year.|
|ill at ease|
What does "ill at ease" mean?
| nervous/uncomfortable||He appeared to be ill at ease during the interview.|
|ill-disposed to (do something)|
What does "ill-disposed to (do something)" mean?
| not friendly or favorable to something||Our company is ill-disposed to begin working on the project with the other company.|
What does "ill-gotten gains" mean?
| money or other goods acquired illegally or dishonestly||The man used his ill-gotten gains from the sale of the stolen car to go on a holiday.|
What does "ill will" mean?
| hostile feelings or intentions||There is much ill will between the two departments in our company.|
|implicate (someone) in (something)|
What does "implicate (someone) in (something)" mean?
| suggest that someone is involved in something||The man was implicated in the scheme to sell the illegal shares in the company.|
|in a bad mood|
What does "in a bad mood" mean?
| sad, depressed||I was in a bad mood after I wrote the university exam.|
|in a bad way|
What does "in a bad way" mean?
| in a bad or critical state||The woman is in a bad way after her recent car accident.|
|in a bind|
What does "in a bind" mean?
| in trouble||They will really be in a bind if they can`t sell their house by next month. |
|in a coon's age|
What does "in a coon's age" mean?
| in a very long time||I have not seen my friend in a coon's age.|
|in a family way|
What does "in a family way" mean?
| pregnant, going to have a baby||Our new secretary is in a family way and plans to take a few months off from work soon.|
|in a flash|
What does "in a flash" mean?
| quickly||I was finished with the job interview in a flash.|
|in a fog (haze)|
What does "in a fog (haze)" mean?
| confused, not sure what is happening||He is always in a fog and never seems to know what is going on.|
|in a fool's paradise|
What does "in a fool's paradise" mean?
| seem to be happy but in a situation that will not last||The couple were living in a fool's paradise with their temporary jobs and the high salaries.|
|in a hole|
What does "in a hole" mean?
| in some trouble, in an embarrassing or difficult position||He is really in a hole now that he has problems both at work and at home. |
|in a huff|
What does "in a huff" mean?
| in an angry or offended manner||The head of our department left the meeting in a huff.|
|in a hurry|
What does "in a hurry" mean?
| moving or acting quickly||He is very busy and always in a hurry.|
|in a jam|
What does "in a jam" mean?
| in trouble, in a difficult situation||He is in a jam now that his car is not working properly.|
|in a jiffy|
What does "in a jiffy" mean?
| very fast, very soon||I promised that I would be finished with the phone in a jiffy.|
|in a kind/sort of way|
What does "in a kind/sort of way" mean?
| to a certain extent, a little, somewhat||In a kind of way I want to buy a new car but in other ways I don't think that I really need one.|
|in a lather|
What does "in a lather" mean?
| excited and agitated||My friend was in a lather when she heard that she would be transferring to another department.|
|in a little bit|
What does "in a little bit" mean?
| soon||"I will give you back your dictionary in a little bit."|
|in a mad rush|
What does "in a mad rush" mean?
| in a hurry, frantically||The woman was in a mad rush to finish her shopping and return home.|
|in a month of Sundays|
What does "in a month of Sundays" mean?
| in a very long time||I have not been to the shopping mall in a month of Sundays.|
|in a nutshell|
What does "in a nutshell" mean?
| briefly||I tried to explain the problem to him in a nutshell but there still wasn`t enough time.|
|in a pickle/in a pretty pickle|
What does "in a pickle/in a pretty pickle" mean?
| in a mess, in trouble||My friend is in a pickle now that she has lost her job.|
|in a pig`s eye|
What does "in a pig`s eye" mean?
| hardly, unlikely, never||In a pig`s eye will I let him borrow my car next weekend.|
|in a pinch|
What does "in a pinch" mean?
| okay when nothing else is available||The other tool will do in a pinch if we can`t find the correct one.|
|in a quandary|
What does "in a quandary" mean?
| confused and uncertain about what to do||I am in a quandary about where I should go on my vacation next month.|
|in a rush|
What does "in a rush" mean?
| in a hurry||They did the job in a rush so I am a little worried about the quality. |
|in a rut|
What does "in a rut" mean?
| always doing the same thing||She feels that she is in a rut after doing the same job for seven years. |
|in a sense|
What does "in a sense" mean?
| in a way, sort of||In a sense I can understand what my friend's problem is about but still it is difficult to imagine what he wants to say.|
|in a snit|
What does "in a snit" mean?
| in a fit of anger or irritation||My friend was in a snit because I forgot to phone her on Saturday.|
|in a split second|
What does "in a split second" mean?
| in just an instant||The car accident happened in a split second before anyone could do anything to prevent it.|
|in a spot|
What does "in a spot" mean?
| in some trouble, in an embarrassing or difficult position||She is in a spot right now as she was unable to enter university and also has no job.|
|in a stew (about someone or something)|
What does "in a stew (about someone or something)" mean?
| upset or bothered about someone or something||The woman's husband is in a stew because he lost his car keys.|
|in a stupor|
What does "in a stupor" mean?
| in a dazed condition||I was in a stupor after I wrote my last exam.|
|in a tizzy|
What does "in a tizzy" mean?
| in an excited and confused condition||The girl was in a tizzy all morning as she got ready for her friend's wedding.|
|in a way|
What does "in a way" mean?
| to a certain extent, a little, somewhat||In a way I want to go to the restaurant but basically I don`t care. |
|in a word |
What does "in a word " mean?
| briefly, to sum up||In a word, the problem with the car is that it needs a new motor.|
|in a world of one`s own|
What does "in a world of one`s own" mean?
| in deep thought or concentration, not caring about other people||He is always in a world of his own and doesn`t notice what other people say or think. |
What does "in abeyance" mean?
| the temporary suspension of an activity or a ruling||The final estate settlement was in abeyance while the lawyers looked at the will in more detail.|
|in accordance with (something)|
What does "in accordance with (something)" mean?
| in agreement with (something)||In accordance with the wishes of my grandfather we did not sell the family farm.|
|in addition to (something)|
What does "in addition to (something)" mean?
| additionally, further||In addition to a degree in history my friend also has a degree in economics.|
What does "in advance" mean?
| ahead of time||They bought the tickets in advance so that they could get a good seat.|
What does "in agreement" mean?
| in harmony, agreeing||All of the members of the team were in agreement regarding the training schedule of the coach.|
|in all one's born days|
What does "in all one's born days" mean?
| in all one's life||In all my born days I have never met a more stubborn person.|
|in all probability|
What does "in all probability" mean?
| very likely||In all probability I will be unable to attend my classes during the next two weeks.|
|in and of itself|
What does "in and of itself" mean?
| considering one thing alone||In and of itself there is no problem having a large number of people at the dinner. However, the fire regulations do not allow so many people to be in the building|
|in and out|
What does "in and out" mean?
| coming in and going out often||He has been in and out all day but I don`t know where he is at the moment. |
|in any case/event|
What does "in any case/event" mean?
| no matter what happens, surely, without fail||I may not be able to meet you next week but in any case I will still give you the books before then. |
What does "in arms" mean?
| armed, angry and ready to fight||The workers are in arms since they found out about the wage decrease.|
What does "in arrears" mean?
| overdue (bills or money), late||I have never been in arrears with my bill payments.|
|in awe of (someone or something)|
What does "in awe of (someone or something)" mean?
| fearful and respectful of someone or something||All of the children were in awe of the firemen who came to visit the school.|
|in bad faith|
What does "in bad faith" mean?
| with bad or dishonest intent||The man was bargaining in bad faith when he tried to buy the car.|
|in bad/poor taste|
What does "in bad/poor taste" mean?
| rude, vulgar||The jokes that the man told at the dinner were in very bad taste.|
What does "in between" mean?
| located in the middle of two things/states||My friend is in between jobs at the moment.|
|in black and white|
What does "in black and white" mean?
| in writing||I want to get the information in black and white before I go to the meeting.|
What does "in bloom/blossom" mean?
| a flower/tree at the peak of blooming||All of the flowers are in bloom in our garden now.|
What does "in brief" mean?
| briefly||I explained in brief what the new supervisor was supposed to do while I was on vacation.|
|in broad daylight|
What does "in broad daylight" mean?
| publicly visible in the daytime||The robbery of the store took place in broad daylight.|
What does "in bulk" mean?
| in large quantities or amounts||We usually buy some of our food in bulk.|
|in cahoots with (someone)|
What does "in cahoots with (someone)" mean?
| in secret agreement or partnership with someone||The supermarket was in cahoots with the vegetable producer to try and keep the prices high. |
|in care of (someone)|
What does "in care of (someone)" mean?
| send something to one person at the address of another person||My income tax refund was sent to me in care of my company.|
What does "in case" mean?
| if, if something should happen||I will take my umbrella in case it rains.|
|in case of|
What does "in case of" mean?
| in the event of, if there should be, as a precaution||In case of fire we keep our computer backup files in a fireproof safe.|
What does "in character" mean?
| as usual, typical, in the way that a person usually behaves||Supporting the members of her staff is in character with the way our manager does business.|
|in charge of (someone or something)|
What does "in charge of (someone or something)" mean?
| in control or authority, responsible for someone or something||He is in charge of the sales department at his company. |
What does "in check" mean?
| under control, kept quiet||The violence was kept in check by the police department and the army. |
What does "in clover" mean?
| rich or successful, having a pleasant or easy life||They are in clover now that they have sold their business and retired.|
|in cold blood|
What does "in cold blood" mean?
| without feeling or pity, cooly and deliberately||The family was murdered in cold blood by the criminal gang.|
What does "in common" mean?
| shared together or equally, in use or ownership by all||I had nothing in common with the other members of the class. |
|in concert (with someone)|
What does "in concert (with someone)" mean?
| with the aide of someone||We made the presentation in concert with members of another company. |
|in consequence of (something)|
What does "in consequence of (something)" mean?
| as a result of something||In consequence of my loss of job, I am no longer able to keep living in my present apartment. |
|in contempt of court|
What does "in contempt of court" mean?
| disrespect for a judge or for courtroom procedures||The woman was in contempt of court when she refused to sit down quietly during the trial. |
|in custody of (someone or something)|
What does "in custody of (someone or something)" mean?
| being looked after by someone or something, under guard by someone||The child was placed in custody of the state while her mother got treatment for her substance abuse problem. |
What does "in debt" mean?
| owing money||The man has been in debt for most of his life. |
What does "in deep" mean?
| seriously mixed up in something like debt or trouble||The man is in deep because of debt and other problems. |
|in deep water|
What does "in deep water" mean?
| in a serious situation, in trouble||The boy is in deep water because of his problems at school. |
|in defiance of (someone or something)|
What does "in defiance of (someone or something)" mean?
| against someone's will or against instructions||The company continued to operate their business in defiance of a court order. |
What does "in denial" mean?
| refusing to believe something that is true||The man was in denial about the fact that he may lose his job. |
What does "in detail" mean?
| giving all the details, item by item||I told the police about the events in detail. |
What does "in disguise" mean?
| looking like someone else||The bank robber was in disguise when he robbed the bank. |
What does "in drag" mean?
| wearing the clothes of the opposite sex||The tourists were shocked when they went to the stage show and found many of the performers in drag. |
|in due course|
What does "in due course" mean?
| in the usual amount of time, at the right time||We will send the information to you in due course. |
|in Dutch (with someone)|
What does "in Dutch (with someone)" mean?
| in trouble with someone||The boy was in Dutch with his father for breaking the window. |
What does "in earnest" mean?
| sincerely||The young woman has been looking for a job in earnest since she graduated. |
What does "in effect" mean?
| for practical purposes, basically||The man's silence was in effect a way of disagreeing with the other people in the meeting. |
What does "in effect" mean?
| in existence, operating or functioning||The smoking law has been in effect for three years. |
What does "in essence" mean?
| basically||I was told in essence about the problems that the company was having. |
|in exchange for (someone or something)|
What does "in exchange for (someone or something)" mean?
| in return for someone or something||I received the camera in exchange for several discount coupons. |
What does "in existence" mean?
| now existing||The company has been in existence for many years. |
What does "in fact" mean?
| actually, the truth is||He`s been to China before. In fact he`s been there three times.|
What does "in fashion" mean?
| fashionable||Very thin neckties have not been in fashion recently. |
|in favor of (someone or something)|
What does "in favor of (someone or something)" mean?
| approving or supporting someone or something||Most members of the city council were in favor of building the new stadium. |
What does "in flight" mean?
| while flying||Two wonderful meals were served while we were in flight. |
What does "in flux" mean?
| in constant change, changing||The school administration has been in flux for several months now. |
|in for (something)|
What does "in for (something)" mean?
| unable to avoid something, sure to get something||He is in for a lot of trouble now that he is unable to finish his graduation essay. |
What does "in force" mean?
| in a very large group||The fans came out in force to cheer for their favorite team. |
|in full swing|
What does "in full swing" mean?
| in progress||The campaign to stop people from smoking is in full swing. |
What does "in general" mean?
| in most situations or circumstances||In general, most of the people in our apartment are happy with the new manager. |
|in good conscience|
What does "in good conscience" mean?
| having good motives||I wrote the letter and complained to the woman in good conscience.|
|in good faith|
What does "in good faith" mean?
| with good and honest intentions||Our company was bargaining in good faith when they met the other company. |
|in good hands|
What does "in good hands" mean?
| in the safe and competent care of someone||My dog was in good hands when I gave him to my father to look after. |
|in good repair|
What does "in good repair" mean?
| in good condition||My car is always in good repair when I go on a holiday. |
|in good shape/condition|
What does "in good shape/condition" mean?
| functioning or working well||Our television set was in good shape when we gave it to my friend. |
|in good spirits|
What does "in good spirits" mean?
| happy/cheerful/positive||Everyone was in good spirits when they went to the beach for a picnic. |
|in good time|
What does "in good time" mean?
| a little early, sooner than necessary||I will try and get the information to you in good time so that you will be able to decide what to do.|
|in good with (someone)|
What does "in good with (someone)" mean?
| in someone's favor||My cousin is in good with his boss and has an easy time at work. |
|in great demand|
What does "in great demand" mean?
| wanted by many people||The young pianist is in great demand by symphony orchestras around the world. |
What does "in hand" mean?
| under control||The teacher had the class in hand when the principal came to visit the classroom. |
What does "in heaven" mean?
| in a state of absolute happiness, dead and in heaven||I felt that I was in heaven when I learned that I would get the job that I wanted. |
|in high gear|
What does "in high gear" mean?
| very fast and active||The preparations for the party were in high gear when I arrived at the house. |
What does "in hindsight" mean?
| thinking about the past with the knowledge one now has||In hindsight, it was easy to determine what I had done wrong in the job interview. |
What does "in hock" mean?
| in a pawnshop||The man put his expensive stereo in hock to get some money for a holiday. |
|in honor of (someone or something)|
What does "in honor of (someone or something)" mean?
| showing respect or admiration for someone or something||The dinner was in honor of the first principal of our school. |
|in hopes of (something)|
What does "in hopes of (something)" mean?
| expecting something||I wrote the entrance exam in hopes of entering my favorite university. |
What does "in horror" mean?
| with intense shock or disgust||I watched in horror as the cars crashed into the truck that had stopped. |
|in hot water|
What does "in hot water" mean?
| in trouble||I am in hot water over the extra expenses that I used during the conference.|
What does "in ink" mean?
| written or signed with a pen||We were asked to write down our names and addresses in ink. |
|in its entirety|
What does "in its entirety" mean?
| in a state of completeness||I read the novel in its entirety although it was very difficult to read. |
What does "in jeopardy" mean?
| in danger, at risk||Our contract with the large company was in jeopardy because of our inability to quickly provide them with our products. |
|in keeping with (something)|
What does "in keeping with (something)" mean?
| continuing with something, doing something similar||In keeping with our tradition of letting the visiting team kick first we will do it for this game as well. |
What does "in kind" mean?
| payment for something with some goods rather than money||We will pay them back in kind for the use of their sailboat. |
What does "in labor" mean?
| a woman going through childbirth||The man's wife was in labor for three hours. |
|in league with (someone)|
What does "in league with (someone)" mean?
| in secret agreement or partnership with someone||The union has been in league with management to try and close the factory.|
|in less than no time|
What does "in less than no time" mean?
| very quickly||My friend had to go to the bank but in less than no time he returned to my house. |
|in lieu of (something)|
What does "in lieu of (something)" mean?
| in place of something||We received a free movie pass in lieu of a refund of our movie ticket. |
|in light of (something)|
What does "in light of (something)" mean?
| as a result of new information, because of something||In light of his contribution to the company we decided to give him a large summer bonus.|
What does "in limbo" mean?
| in an indefinite state, a state of neglect, a region on the border of hell||Everything in the company was in limbo as we waited for news of the takeover bid. |
What does "in line" mean?
| standing and waiting in a line of people||We stood in line for three hours while waiting for the concert tickets. |
What does "in line" mean?
| doing or being what people expect or accept, within ordinary limits||It was difficult to keep the children in line at the picnic but somehow we managed.|