American Idioms and Expressions


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. .

No way!
What does "No way!" mean?
Absolutely not! / Definitely not!A: "You didn't open this letter addressed to me, didyou?"B: "No way! I'd never read look at else's mail!"

What does "nosh" mean?
snack."There's plenty in the refrigerator if you wantsomething to nosh on."

Not on your life!
What does "Not on your life!" mean?
Absolutely not! (a strong "no").A: "Someone said you cheated on the test. Didyou?"B: "Not on your life!"

now and then
What does "now and then" mean?
occasionally; from time to time.A: "Do you see Jennifer often?"B: "No, not really. I see her now and then, but notregularly."

What does "nuke" mean?
heat in a microwave."If your coffee's cold, just nuke it for abouta minute."

What does "nuts" mean?
crazy.A: "Stuart says some really strange thingssometimes."B: "Sometimes? All the time! He's nuts!"

What does "Note" mean?
This expression is used to describe something that will not
change, no matter how long or how often it's done.

What does "Note" mean?
This expression is used in the same way as "until hell freezes over."

What does "Note" mean?
"What" and "for" can be separated--with "for" at the end of the question:

not know if one is coming or going
What does "not know if one is coming or going" mean?
not know what to doThe new sales manager does not seem to know if he is coming or going.

not know the first thing about something
What does "not know the first thing about something" mean?
lack basic knowledge about somethingHe does not know the first thing about computers.

not lay a finger/hand on (someone)
What does "not lay a finger/hand on (someone)" mean?
not touch someone, not do something to someoneThe man was told by the police never to lay a finger on his wife again.

not have a leg to stand on
What does "not have a leg to stand on" mean?
not have a firm foundation of facts, not have the facts to support one`s claimsShe doesn`t have a leg to stand on with her excuses for not finishing her work.

not a lick of work
What does "not a lick of work" mean?
not even a small amount of work (usually used in the negative)The children did not do a lick of work all morning when the teacher was away.

not lift a finger/hand
What does "not lift a finger/hand" mean?
not do anything to help anyoneAlthough he is a nice person he will not lift a finger to help anyone else.

not make head nor tail of (something)
What does "not make head nor tail of (something)" mean?
not be able to understand somethingWe could not make head nor tail of what he was trying to say during his speech.

not move a muscle
What does "not move a muscle" mean?
not move even a small amountThe doctor told me not to move a muscle when he was fixing my leg.

nail down (someone or something)
What does "nail down (someone or something)" mean?
to make certain/sure of somethingI am trying to nail down the exact time that we can meet with our supplier.

naked eye
What does "naked eye" mean?
the human eye (with no binoculars etc.)It was difficult to see the bird with the naked eye.

name (someone) after (someone or something)
What does "name (someone) after (someone or something)" mean?
to give someone the name of another person/place/thingMy cousin was named after his mother`s grandfather.

near at hand
What does "near at hand" mean?
to be close or handy (to someone)I looked for a pair of scissors that were near at hand.

neck and neck
What does "neck and neck" mean?
to be equal or nearly equal in a race or contestThe two teams were neck and neck in the race to win the national championship.

neck of the woods
What does "neck of the woods" mean?
an area or part of the countryHe has never been to my neck of the woods since he was a child.

need (something) like (one needs) a hole in the head
What does "need (something) like (one needs) a hole in the head" mean?
to not need something at allMy friend needs a new computer like he needs a hole in the head.

need (something) yesterday
What does "need (something) yesterday" mean?
to need something in a very big hurryI need a new computer yesterday.

neither fish nor fowl
What does "neither fish nor fowl" mean?
something that does not belong to a definite group The man's opinions were neither fish nor fowl and nobody could put them into an identifiable category.

neither here nor there
What does "neither here nor there" mean?
not relevant to the thing being discussed, to be off the subject"What you are saying is neither here nor there. We are talking about our plans this year - not five years in the future."

neither hide nor hair of (someone or something)
What does "neither hide nor hair of (someone or something)" mean?
no sign or indication of someone or somethingI have seen neither hide nor hair of my friend recently.

never fear
What does "never fear" mean?
do not worry"Never fear, I will finish work and meet you in time for the movie."

never in one's life
What does "never in one's life" mean?
not in one's experienceI have never in my life seen such a strange person.

never mind
What does "never mind" mean?
don`t worry, don`t bother"If you don`t have time to pick up my laundry today, never mind, I will get it tomorrow."

never would have guessed
What does "never would have guessed" mean?
never would have thought something to be the caseI never would have guessed that the woman on the bicycle was one of the richest women in the city.

new blood
What does "new blood" mean?
fresh energy or power, someone or something that gives new life or vigor to somethingShe is a good employee and helped us to inject some new blood into our organization.

next-door neighbor
What does "next-door neighbor" mean?
the person living in the house or apartment next to youMy next-door neighbor often brings over fresh bread that she has baked.

next of kin
What does "next of kin" mean?
one's closest living relative or relativesThe police notified the dead woman's next of kin after the accident.

next to nothing
What does "next to nothing" mean?
hardly anythingI was able to buy a new computer for next to nothing.

nice and (some quality)
What does "nice and (some quality)" mean?
lots of some qualityThe bed was nice and warm and I fell asleep immediately.

nickel and dime (someone)
What does "nickel and dime (someone)" mean?
to charge someone many small amounts of moneyThe constant small repairs to my car are beginning to nickel and dime me.

night on the town
What does "night on the town" mean?
a night of celebrationWe went out for a night on the town when we finished the project.

night owl
What does "night owl" mean?
a person who likes to stay up late at nightMy friend is a night owl and stays up late every night.

nip and tuck
What does "nip and tuck" mean?
evenly matched, almost evenThey were running nip and tuck but he finally won the race in the end.

nip (something) in the bud
What does "nip (something) in the bud" mean?
to stop something at the startThey found out about the computer problem but were able to nip the problem in the bud.

no bed of roses
What does "no bed of roses" mean?
a difficult or bad situationIt is no bed of roses to have no job and a large family to support.

no cigar
What does "no cigar" mean?
not agreed to, no, certainly notI almost got the job but in the end it was no cigar.

no deal
What does "no deal" mean?
not agreed to, no, certainly notIt was no deal when my plan was rejected at the meeting.

no dice
What does "no dice" mean?
no, certainly not"No dice. I will never lend you that much money."

no doubt
What does "no doubt" mean?
without doubt, surely, certainlyNo doubt he will be the one to win the contest again this year.

no end
What does "no end" mean?
almost without stopping, continuallyThe little girl cried no end when she couldn't find her favorite doll.

no end of/to (something)
What does "no end of/to (something)" mean?
seeming almost endless, very many/much of somethingHe had no end of problems when he lived overseas for a year.

no go
What does "no go" mean?
not agreed to, no, certainly notIt is no go for our plan to have three games this weekend. We can only have two games.

no great shakes
What does "no great shakes" mean?
to be mediocre, to be unimportantThe hotel was no great shakes and I wouldn`t recommend that you stay there.

no hard feelings
What does "no hard feelings" mean?
no anger or resentmentThere were no hard feelings between the two women after they got into a fight at work.

no holds barred
What does "no holds barred" mean?
with no restraintsThere were no holds barred during the debate between the politicians.

no ifs, ands, or buts about it
What does "no ifs, ands, or buts about it" mean?
absolutely no discussion or doubts about something"You are going to bed now - no ifs, ands, or buts about it," said the mother to her child.

no joke
What does "no joke" mean?
a serious matterThe mistake with the meeting time was no joke. It caused many of us very serious problems.

no kidding
What does "no kidding" mean?
honestly, really"No kidding, are you really going to buy a house."

no laughing matter
What does "no laughing matter" mean?
a serious matterThe incident was no laughing matter and was taken very seriously by the police.

no love lost between (two people/groups)
What does "no love lost between (two people/groups)" mean?
bad feelings or ill will between two people or groupsThere is no love lost between my father and our neighbor.

no matter
What does "no matter" mean?
regardlessNo matter how hard that I try, my piano teacher is never satisfied.

no matter what happens
What does "no matter what happens" mean?
in any event, without regard to what happensNo matter what happens I plan to go swimming on Saturday.

no picnic
What does "no picnic" mean?
not pleasant, difficultIt was no picnic trying to drive to the lake during the storm.

no point in (something)
What does "no point in (something)" mean?
no purpose in doing somethingThere is no point in talking to my supervisor. He never listens to what I am saying.

no skin off (someone's) teeth/nose
What does "no skin off (someone's) teeth/nose" mean?
no difficulty for someoneIt will be no skin off my teeth if the meeting is not held.

no sooner said than done
What does "no sooner said than done" mean?
something that can be done quicklyMy request for some repairs to the bathroom sink were no sooner said than done.

no spring chicken
What does "no spring chicken" mean?
not young anymoreMy aunt is no spring chicken but she always has lots of energy.

no sweat
What does "no sweat" mean?
easily accomplished, uncomplicatedFinishing the job was no sweat. I finished it in about two hours.

no sweat
What does "no sweat" mean?
no problem"No sweat. I will help you all day tomorrow if you need me."

no trespassing
What does "no trespassing" mean?
no entry to a placeThere was no trespassing on the field next to the large oil tanks.

no two ways about it
What does "no two ways about it" mean?
no choice about it"No two ways about it, you must do your homework and go to bed now."

no wonder
What does "no wonder" mean?
not surprisingNo wonder he is so tired after staying up all night.

nobody`s fool
What does "nobody`s fool" mean?
a smart person, a person who can take care of himself or herselfShe is nobody`s fool. You will not have to worry about her at all when she starts her new job.

nobody's home
What does "nobody's home" mean?
one`s attention is somewhere else, one has a simple mindIt seems like nobody`s home I thought, as I tried to have a conversation with the strange man.

nod off
What does "nod off" mean?
to fall asleep (usually while sitting or driving etc.)I nodded off last night while I was watching television.

none of (someone's) business/beeswax
What does "none of (someone's) business/beeswax" mean?
to be not of someone's concernMy personal financial situation is none of my friend's business.

none other than (someone)
What does "none other than (someone)" mean?
the very person (that one may be talking/thinking about)I went to the airport and I saw none other than the president of our company.

none the wiser
What does "none the wiser" mean?
not knowing any moreWe put all of the old magazines in the garbage and my sister was none the wiser.

none the worse for wear
What does "none the worse for wear" mean?
no worse because of use or effortWe were none the worse for wear after our long trip through the mountains.

none too (something)
What does "none too (something)" mean?
not very something, not at all somethingThe boy was none too smart to try and steal the CDs from the store.

nose around/about
What does "nose around/about" mean?
to look for something kept private or secret, to pry into somethingThe secretary nosed around her boss's desk to try and discover what was happening in the company.

nose into (something)
What does "nose into (something)" mean?
to move into something, to go front end first We stopped our car and nosed into the parking space.

nose (someone) out
What does "nose (someone) out" mean?
to push someone away, to exclude someoneThe famous basketball player nosed out the other players to win the award for the best player in the league.

not a bit
What does "not a bit" mean?
none at allI had not a bit of free time last weekend.

not a living soul
What does "not a living soul" mean?
nobodyThere was not a living soul at the restaurant when I arrived early last night.

not a moment to spare
What does "not a moment to spare" mean?
to be just in time, to have no extra timeWe arrived at the airport with not a moment to spare.

not able to call one's time one's own
What does "not able to call one's time one's own" mean?
to be too busy to control one's own scheduleI am not able to call my time my own and I have absolutely no time to relax.

not able to go on
What does "not able to go on" mean?
to be unable to continueI felt that I was not able to go on so I stopped running in the marathon.

not able to see the forest for the trees
What does "not able to see the forest for the trees" mean?
to allow the details of a situation to obscure the situation as a wholeThe man is not able to see the forest for the trees and always allows his obsession with small details to obscure the larger picture of what he is trying to do.

not all (someone or something) is cracked up to be
What does "not all (someone or something) is cracked up to be" mean?
to be not as good as someone or something is said to beThe new cook is not all that he is cracked up to be and we have received several complaints about his food.

not all there
What does "not all there" mean?
to be not mentally adequate, to be crazy or sillyThe man is not all there and sometimes he does very strange things.

not at all
What does "not at all" mean?
certainly notI am not at all happy with my new computer.

not bat an eye
What does "not bat an eye" mean?
to not show any signs of being nervous even when something shocking or bad happensThe policeman did not bat an eye when the criminal began to reach for his knife.

not believe one's eyes
What does "not believe one's eyes" mean?
to not believe what one is seeingI did not believe my eyes when my father gave me a television set for my birthday.

not born yesterday
What does "not born yesterday" mean?
to be experienced in the ways of the worldI was not born yesterday and I do not believe what the woman is saying.

not breathe a word about (someone or something)
What does "not breathe a word about (someone or something)" mean?
to keep a secret about someone or somethingI promised my friend that I would not breathe a word about his plans for the weekend.

not breathe a word of it
What does "not breathe a word of it" mean?
to not tell something (to anyone)I will not breathe a word of it to my friend.

not buy (something)
What does "not buy (something)" mean?
to not accept something to be trueI do not buy the excuse that the man does not have enough money to pay for his dinner.

not by a long shot
What does "not by a long shot" mean?
not at allNot by a long shot was I able to find enough time to finish reading the book.

not enough room to swing a cat
What does "not enough room to swing a cat" mean?
not very much spaceThere was not enough room to swing a cat in the small hotel room.

not for a moment
What does "not for a moment" mean?
not at all, neverI did not for a moment believe what the man was saying.

not for anything in the world
What does "not for anything in the world" mean?
not for anythingI will not for anything in the world go to the restaurant with that woman.

not for hire
What does "not for hire" mean?
(a taxi is) not available to take new passengersThe first taxi was not for hire so we had to wait for another one.

not for love nor money
What does "not for love nor money" mean?
not for anythingI will not for love nor money agree to work weekends starting next month.

not for publication
What does "not for publication" mean?
to be secret, not to be publishedThe documents from the court trial are not for publication.

not for the world
What does "not for the world" mean?
not at any price, not for anythingI would not go on a date with that woman for the world.

not give it another thought
What does "not give it another thought" mean?
to not worry/think about somethingI did not give it another thought when I agreed to help my friend move from his apartment.

not give (someone) the time of day
What does "not give (someone) the time of day" mean?
to dislike someone so strongly that you totally ignore him or herI dislike her and would not give her the time of day.

not give/care two hoots about (someone or something)
What does "not give/care two hoots about (someone or something)" mean?
to not care at all about someone or somethingI do not give two hoots about what my neighbor thinks about me.

not half bad
What does "not half bad" mean?
to be okay, to be pretty goodThe restaurant meal was not half bad and everybody seemed to like it.

not have a leg to stand on
What does "not have a leg to stand on" mean?
to have no good proof or excuse for something, to have no good evidence or defence to offer someone"The company does not have a leg to stand on if they refuse to pay the money that they owe you."

not hold a candle to (someone or something)
What does "not hold a candle to (someone or something)" mean?
to not be nearly as good as someone or somethingThe new secretary does not hold a candle to the one who just quit.

not hold water
What does "not hold water" mean?
to be illogical, to make no senseThe excuses of the young man do not hold water.

not hurt a flea
What does "not hurt a flea" mean?
to not harm anything or anyone (even a tiny insect)My mother would not hurt a flea and she is very kind to everyone who she meets.

not in the same league with (someone or something)
What does "not in the same league with (someone or something)" mean?
to be not anywhere nearly as good as someone or somethingThe new coach is not in the same league as the coach who we had last season.

not know enough to come in out of the rain
What does "not know enough to come in out of the rain" mean?
to be very stupidThe woman is not very smart and does not know enough to come in out of the rain.

not know one's own strength
What does "not know one's own strength" mean?
to not realize how destructive or harmful one's strength can beThe little boy does not know his own strength and does much damage when he plays.

not know (someone) from Adam
What does "not know (someone) from Adam" mean?
to not know someone at allI did not know the man who came to our door from Adam.

not know the first thing about (someone or something)
What does "not know the first thing about (someone or something)" mean?
to not know anything about someone or somethingI do not know the first thing about carpets so we asked a specialist to repair the carpet in our apartment.

not know where to turn
What does "not know where to turn" mean?
to have no idea what to do (about something)The young woman did not know where to turn when she lost her job.

not know whether/if one is coming or going
What does "not know whether/if one is coming or going" mean?
to be very confusedMy friend did not know whether he was coming or going after he got off the long airplane flight.

not let (someone) catch you (doing something)
What does "not let (someone) catch you (doing something)" mean?
to not let someone find you doing something"Do not let me catch you doing that again or you will be in trouble," said the mother to her child.

not lift a finger/hand (to help someone)
What does "not lift a finger/hand (to help someone)" mean?
to do nothing to help someoneThe girl will not lift a finger to help her mother.

not long for this world
What does "not long for this world" mean?
to be about to dieMy uncle is very sick and is not long for this world.

not made of money
What does "not made of money" mean?
to not have a lot of moneyMy father always says that he is not made of money when I ask him to give me some.

not miss much
What does "not miss much" mean?
to not miss observing any part of what is going onOur teacher does not miss much and we must be very careful how we behave in her class.

not move a muscle
What does "not move a muscle" mean?
to remain perfectly motionlessI was told to not move a muscle while the dentist was working on my teeth.

not much of (something)
What does "not much of (something)" mean?
to be rather bad, to be not so goodIt is not much of a hotel but I think that it will be okay for one night.

not on your life
What does "not on your life" mean?
definitely not"May I borrow your car?"

not one iota
What does "not one iota" mean?
not even a tiny bitThere is not one iota of truth in what that man is saying about me.

not one's place
What does "not one's place" mean?
not one's role to do somethingIt is not my place to tell other people what they should do with their free time.

not see past/farther than the end of one's nose
What does "not see past/farther than the end of one's nose" mean?
to not care about the future or about what is happening elsewhere or to other peopleMy friend cannot see farther than the end of her nose and is not interested in the lives of other people.

not set foot (somewhere)
What does "not set foot (somewhere)" mean?
to not go somewhereWe did not set foot in the old factory that we passed on our hike.

not show one's face
What does "not show one's face" mean?
to not appearWe asked the man to not show his face at our restaurant if he was not going to behave properly.

not sleep a wink
What does "not sleep a wink" mean?
to not sleep at allI am tired today because I could not sleep a wink last night.

not so hot
What does "not so hot" mean?
to be not very goodI have been feeling not so hot lately because I had a cold last week.

not (someone's) cup of tea
What does "not (someone's) cup of tea" mean?
to be not something that one likesClassical music is not her cup of tea so she did not go the the concert with the others.

not take no for an answer
What does "not take no for an answer" mean?
to not accept someone's refusalMy aunt would not take no for an answer when I said that I would not eat dinner at her house.

not tell a (living) soul
What does "not tell a (living) soul" mean?
to not reveal something to anyoneI did not tell a soul about what happened during the fight with my friend.

not touch (something) with a ten-foot pole
What does "not touch (something) with a ten-foot pole" mean?
to consider something completely undesirable or uninterestingThat car is dangerous and I would not touch it with a ten-foot pole.

not up to scratch/snuff
What does "not up to scratch/snuff" mean?
to be not adequateMy uncle's golf game is not up to scratch and he always gets a bad score.

not with it
What does "not with it" mean?
to be not able to think clearlyMy grandmother was not with it today and we were not able to have a very good visit.

not worth a dime
What does "not worth a dime" mean?
to be worthlessOur old sofa is not worth a dime so we put it in the garbage.

not worth a hill of beans
What does "not worth a hill of beans" mean?
to be worthlessAnything that our supervisor says is not worth a hill of beans so nobody trusts him.

not worth a plugged nickel
What does "not worth a plugged nickel" mean?
to be worthlessHis promise to pay back the money is not worth a plugged nickel.

not worth mentioning
What does "not worth mentioning" mean?
to be not important enough to require a commentThe problem that we had with the former manager was not worth mentioning so we did not say anything to anybody.

not worth one's while
What does "not worth one's while" mean?
to be not worth bothering withIt is not worth my while to go downtown if it is only to do one small thing.

not worth the trouble
What does "not worth the trouble" mean?
to be not important enough to require a comment or to do somethingIt was not worth the trouble to repair the old stove so we threw it in the garbage.

nothing but skin and bones
What does "nothing but skin and bones" mean?
to be very thin or emaciatedThe young man was nothing but skin and bones when he returned from the camping trip.

nothing but (something)
What does "nothing but (something)" mean?
to be only somethingThere were nothing but people who played wind instruments at the music camp.

nothing doing
What does "nothing doing" mean?
I will not do it, certainly not"Nothing doing. I am not going to stay and work late again this evening."

nothing down
What does "nothing down" mean?
to not require a down paymentThe young couple purchased the house with nothing down.


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