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. .

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You don't say!
What does "You don't say!" mean?
: Really? / Is that really true?A: "Have you heard the news? Jessica got married!"B: "You don't say!"

You've got to be kidding!
What does "You've got to be kidding!" mean?
: You can't be serious! (What you said can't be true.
What you said is very surprising/hard to believe.) "
A: "Did you know that Bob quit his job?"B: "You've got to be kidding!"

yucky
What does "yucky" mean?
: terrible; distasteful; very unpleasant."Don't eat the soup at the cafeteria. It'syucky!"

yummy
What does "yummy" mean?
: delicious."Have you tried the cookies that Jonathan baked?They're yummy!"

yakety-yak
What does "yakety-yak" mean?
a lot of talk about little thingsWe spent the whole evening in a yakety-yak session at my friends.

year after year
What does "year after year" mean?
for many years, one year after anotherWe went to the lake year after year until we finally got tired of it.

year in, year out
What does "year in, year out" mean?
every yearYear in and year out the city had to spend money to fix the old stadium.

year round
What does "year round" mean?
during the entire yearWe usually spend all summer at a year-round vacation resort.

yellow-bellied
What does "yellow-bellied" mean?
extremely timid, cowardlyHe is a yellow-bellied person who is not good to have as a friend.

yellow journalism
What does "yellow journalism" mean?
cheap and overly sensational newspaper writingThe article in the paper about the scandal was a good example of yellow journalism.

yellow streak
What does "yellow streak" mean?
cowardice in a person`s characterHe has a yellow streak and will not help defend his friends.

yes-man
What does "yes-man" mean?
a person who tries to be liked by agreeing with everything someone says (especially by a boss)He is a yes-man who will do anything that his boss asks him to do.

yield the right-of-way
What does "yield the right-of-way" mean?
give the right to turn or move to another vehicleWe were forced to yield the right-of-way to the fire engine at the intersection.

yoke around someone's neck
What does "yoke around someone's neck" mean?
a burden for someoneThe complaints from the apartment manager were a yoke around our neck for several weeks.

You bet!/You bet your boots!/You bet your life!
What does "You bet!/You bet your boots!/You bet your life!" mean?
most certainly, without any doubt"You bet your life I will be attending the conference next year."

You can't please everyone.
What does "You can't please everyone." mean?
it is not possible to make everyone happyYou can't please everyone and somebody in the class was always unhappy with what the teacher chose to do.

You can't take it with you.
What does "You can't take it with you." mean?
use your money and enjoy life now because when you die it is no goodYou can't take it with you and you should enjoy your money and life while you have the chance.

You can't teach an old dog new tricks.
What does "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." mean?
people become used to their way of doing things and you can't get them to changeYou can't teach an old dog new tricks and my grandfather will never miss drinking a glass of milk before he goes to bed.

You don`t say!
What does "You don`t say!" mean?
used to show surprise at what is said"You don`t say", he said when he heard about the accident on the highway.

You got me there.
What does "You got me there." mean?
I don't know the answer to your question."You got me there. What do you think the answer is?"

You said it!/You can say that again!
What does "You said it!/You can say that again!" mean?
that's true, you're right (used to show strong agreement with what another person has said)"You can say that again," I answered when the woman mentioned how hot it was out in the sun.

You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.
What does "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours." mean?
if you will do me a favor, I will do you a favorThe construction industry is known for its practice of you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.

You`re telling me!
What does "You`re telling me!" mean?
used to show that a thing is so clear that it doesn't need to be said"This restaurant is very expensive and the food is not so good."

Your guess is as good as mine.
What does "Your guess is as good as mine." mean?
your guess or answer is as likely to be correct as mine"Your guess is as good as mine," I answered when my friend asked me how to use the video player

Your secret is safe with me.
What does "Your secret is safe with me." mean?
I won't tell anyone your secret"Your secret is safe with me", I told my friend when he told me about his problems.

yours truly
What does "yours truly" mean?
oneself, I, meI told my friend that if he wanted to borrow some money he could talk to yours truly.

yours truly
What does "yours truly" mean?
a polite phrase to end a letterI usually end my letters with "Yours sincerely" but sometimes I use "Yours truly."

You tell`em!
What does "You tell`em!" mean?
used to agree with or encourage someone in what they are saying"You tell`em," I yelled out to the politician who was making the speech.

you can lead a horse to water (but you can't make it drink)
What does "you can lead a horse to water (but you can't make it drink)" mean?
you can give someone the opportunity to do something but you cannot force him or her to do it if they do not want toYou can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink and no matter how hard we try to help my cousin get a job he will not make any effort when we introduce him to someone who knows about a job.

you can't teach an old dog new tricks
What does "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" mean?
it is difficult for older people to learn new thingsYou can't teach an old dog new tricks and I don't think that my father will ever change his eating habits.

yellow-bellied
What does "yellow-bellied" mean?
extremely timid, cowardlyEveryone thinks that the new boss handled the matter in a yellow-bellied manner.

You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.
What does "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours." mean?
You do a favor for me and I'll do a favor for you."You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours," I said to my customer as we tried to reach a new sales agreement for our product.

yellow-bellied
What does "yellow-bellied" mean?
extremely timid, cowardlyThe man is yellow-bellied and is never willing to fight for what is right.

you can't make an omelette without breaking the eggs
What does "you can't make an omelette without breaking the eggs" mean?
you cannot do something without causing some problems or having some effects"You can't make an omelette without breaking the eggs and if you want to change the work schedules, then you are going to cause problems."

YMCA
What does "YMCA" mean?
Young Men's Christian Association Young Men's Christian AssociationThe English classes at the YMCA were recommended to the students last year.

you are only young once
What does "you are only young once" mean?
enjoy life while you are young and before you must face the responsibilities of lifeThe young man's grandmother believed that you are only young once and encouraged her grandson to do many new things in his life.

you are what you eat
What does "you are what you eat" mean?
in order to be fit and healthy you need to eat good foodYou are what you eat so you should try to eat healthy food.

you can lead/take a horse to water but you can't make him drink
What does "you can lead/take a horse to water but you can't make him drink" mean?
you can give someone the opportunity to do something but you can't get him or her to do it if they don't want toThe woman took her children to the park but they were not interested in playing in the playground. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.

you can't teach an old dog new tricks
What does "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" mean?
people become used to their way of doing things and you can't get them to changeMy friend refused to try anything new and would never go to a new restaurant. It is true that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

you make your bed and you must lie on it
What does "you make your bed and you must lie on it" mean?
you will suffer the results of your own actions, you are responsible for your actionsThe man refused to wear his rubber boots when he went out in the rain. Now he must spend the day wearing wet clothes. He made his bed and now he must lie on it.

Yank
What does "Yank" mean?
U.S. soldier; Yankee; American

yank
What does "yank" mean?
irritate; harass; annoy

yank around
What does "yank around" mean?
annoy; harass; irritate

yank one's strap
What does "yank one's strap" mean?
masturbate (said of men)

yank somebody's chain
What does "yank somebody's chain" mean?
annoy; harass; irritate

yid
What does "yid" mean?
Jew; Jewish person. Don't call me a yid. It's insulting.

york
What does "york" mean?
throw up; vomit

you got that
What does "you got that" mean?
idiom. do you understand

yuck
What does "yuck" mean?
horrible; terrible; disgusting

yuck
What does "yuck" mean?
disgusting person or thing

yucky
What does "yucky" mean?
disgusting; repulsive; vulgar

yuk
What does "yuk" mean?
disgusting person or thing

yukky
What does "yukky" mean?
disgusting; repulsive; vulgarDaddy, this babyfood is yukky

yuky
What does "yuky" mean?
disgusting; repulsive; vulgarDaddy, this babyfood is yuky

You can't have cake and the topping, too
What does "You can't have cake and the topping, too" mean?
This idiom means that you can't have everything the way you want it, especially if your desires are contradictory.

You can't have your cake and eat it
What does "You can't have your cake and eat it" mean?
This idiom means that you can't have things both ways. For example, you can't have very low taxes and a high standard of state care.

You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs
What does "You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs" mean?
This idiom means that in order to achieve something or make progress, there are often losers in the process.

You're toast
What does "You're toast" mean?
If someone tells you that you are toast, you are in a lot of trouble.

Yellow press
What does "Yellow press" mean?
The yellow press is a term for the popular and sensationalist newspapers.

Yah boo sucks
What does "Yah boo sucks" mean?
Yah boo & yah boo sucks can be used to show that you have no sympathy with someone.

Yank my chain
What does "Yank my chain" mean?
If some one says this to another person (i.e. stop yanking my chain) it means for the other person to leave the person who said it alone and to stop bothering them.

Yen
What does "Yen" mean?
If you have a yen to do something, you have a desire to do it.

You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family
What does "You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family" mean?
Some things you can choose, but others you cannot, so you have to try to make the best of what you have where you have no choice.

You reap what you sow
What does "You reap what you sow" mean?
This means that if you do bad things to people, bad things will happen to you, or good things if you do good things. It is normally used when someone has done something bad.

You what?
What does "You what?" mean?
This is a very colloquial way of expressing surprise or disbelief at something you have heard. It can also be used to ask someone to say something again.

Your call
What does "Your call" mean?
If something is your call, it is up to you to make a decision on the matter.

Your name is mud
What does "Your name is mud" mean?
If someone's name is mud, then they have a bad reputation.

Young Turk
What does "Young Turk" mean?
A Young Turk is a young person who is rebellious and difficult to control in a company, team or organisation.

You've got rocks in your head
What does "You've got rocks in your head" mean?
Someone who has acted with a lack of intelligence has rocks in their head.

Young blood
What does "Young blood" mean?
Young people with new ideas and fresh approaches are young blood.

Your belly button is bigger than your stomach
What does "Your belly button is bigger than your stomach" mean?
If your belly button is bigger than your stomach, you take on more responsibilities than you can handle.

You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar
What does "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" mean?
This means that it is easier to persuade people if you use polite arguments and flattery than if you are confrontational.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink
What does "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink" mean?
This idiom means you can offer something to someone, like good advice, but you cannot make them take it.

You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear
What does "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" mean?
If something isn't very good to start with, you can't do much to improve it.

You could have knocked me down with a feather
What does "You could have knocked me down with a feather" mean?
This idiom is used to mean that the person was very shocked or surprised.

You do not get a dog and bark yourself
What does "You do not get a dog and bark yourself" mean?
(UK) If there is someone in a lower position who can or should do a task, then you shouldn't do it.

You get what you pay for
What does "You get what you pay for" mean?
Something that is very low in price is not usually of very good quality.

You can't fight City Hall
What does "You can't fight City Hall" mean?
This phrase is used when one is so cynical that one doesn't think one can change their Representatives. The phrase must have started with frustration towards a local body of government.

You can't unring a bell
What does "You can't unring a bell" mean?
This means that once something has been done, you have to live with the consequences as it can't be undone.

Your sins will find you out
What does "Your sins will find you out" mean?
This idiom means that things you do wrong will become known.

Yesterday's man or Yesterday's woman
What does "Yesterday's man or Yesterday's woman" mean?
Someone, especially a politician or celebrity, whose career is over or on the decline is yesterday's man or woman.

You've made your bed- you'll have to lie in it
What does "You've made your bed- you'll have to lie in it" mean?
This means that someone will have to live with the consequences of their own actions.

you can lead a horse to water (but you can't make it drink)
What does "you can lead a horse to water (but you can't make it drink)" mean?
you can give someone the opportunity to do something but you cannot force him or her to do it if they do not want to You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink and no matter how hard we try to help my cousin get a job he will not make any effort to find one.


you can't teach an old dog new tricks
What does "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" mean?
it is difficult for older people to learn new things You can't teach an old dog new tricks and I do not think that my father will ever change his eating habits.

cat Idioms

you can't teach an old dog new tricks
What does "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" mean?
it is difficult for older people to learn new things You can't teach an old dog new tricks and I do not think that my father will ever change his eating habits.

horse Idioms

you can lead a horse to water (but you can't make it drink)
What does "you can lead a horse to water (but you can't make it drink)" mean?
you can give someone the opportunity to do something but you cannot force him or her to do it if they do not want to You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink and no matter how hard we try to help my cousin get a job he will not make any effort to find one.

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yellow-bellied
What does "yellow-bellied" mean?
extremely timid, cowardly The new supervisor handled the matter in a yellow-bellied manner.


You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.
What does "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours." mean?
if you do me a favor then I will do you a favor "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours," is a common expression in the construction industry.

Back Idioms


You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.
What does "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours." mean?
if you do me a favor then I will do you a favor "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours," is a common expression in the construction industry.

Blood Idioms


yellow-bellied
What does "yellow-bellied" mean?
extremely timid, cowardly The man is yellow-bellied and is never willing to fight for what is right.

black Idioms




you can't make an omelette without breaking the eggs
What does "you can't make an omelette without breaking the eggs" mean?
you cannot do something without causing some problems or having some effects "You can't make an omelette without breaking the eggs and if you want to change the work schedules, then you are going to cause problems."




you can't make an omelette without breaking the eggs
What does "you can't make an omelette without breaking the eggs" mean?
you cannot do something without causing some problems or having some effects "You can't make an omelette without breaking the eggs and if you want to change the work schedules, then you are going to cause problems."

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yakety-yak
What does "yakety-yak" mean?
a lot of talk about little things We spent the whole evening in a yakety-yak session at my friends.


year after year
What does "year after year" mean?
for many years, one year after another We went to the lake year after year when I was a child.


year in and year out
What does "year in and year out" mean?
every year Year in and year out the city had to spend money to fix the old stadium.


year round
What does "year round" mean?
during the entire year We usually spend the summer at a year-round vacation resort.


yellow-bellied
What does "yellow-bellied" mean?
extremely timid, cowardly The man is a yellow-bellied person who is not good to have as a friend.


yellow journalism
What does "yellow journalism" mean?
overly sensational newspaper writing The newspaper story about the scandal was a good example of yellow journalism.


yellow streak
What does "yellow streak" mean?
cowardice in a person`s character The boy has a yellow streak and will not help defend his friends.


yield the right-of-way
What does "yield the right-of-way" mean?
to give the right to turn or move to another vehicle We were forced to yield the right-of-way to the other car at the intersection.


yoke around someone's neck
What does "yoke around someone's neck" mean?
a burden for someone The complaints from the apartment manager were a yoke around our neck.


You bet!
What does "You bet!" mean?
most certainly, without any doubt "You bet I will be attending the conference next year."


You bet your boots!
What does "You bet your boots!" mean?
most certainly, without any doubt "You bet your boots I am going to go."


You bet your life!
What does "You bet your life!" mean?
most certainly, without any doubt "You bet your life I will be attending the conference next year."


You can say that again!
What does "You can say that again!" mean?
that's true, you're right (used to show strong agreement with what another person has said) "You can say that again," I answered when the woman mentioned how hot it was outside.


You can't please everyone.
What does "You can't please everyone." mean?
it is not possible to make everyone happy You can't please everyone and somebody in the class was always unhappy with what the teacher chose to do.


You can't take it with you.
What does "You can't take it with you." mean?
you should use your money and enjoy life now because when you die it is no good You can't take it with you and you should enjoy your money and life while you have the chance.


You can't teach an old dog new tricks.
What does "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." mean?
people become used to their way of doing things and you can't get them to change You can't teach an old dog new tricks and my grandfather will never miss drinking a glass of milk before he goes to bed.


You don`t say!
What does "You don`t say!" mean?
used to show surprise at what is said "You don`t say," the man said when he heard about the accident on the highway.


You got me there.
What does "You got me there." mean?
I don't know the answer to your question. "You got me there. What do you think the answer is?"


You said it!
What does "You said it!" mean?
that's true, you're right (used to show strong agreement with what another person has said) a) "This meeting is wasting everybody's time."
b) "You said it!"


You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.
What does "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours." mean?
if you will do me a favor then I will do you a favor "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours," is a common expression in the construction industry.


You`re telling me!
What does "You`re telling me!" mean?
something is so clear that it does not need to be said a) "This restaurant is very expensive and the food is not good."
b) "You`re telling me."


Your guess is as good as mine.
What does "Your guess is as good as mine." mean?
your guess or answer is as likely to be correct as mine "Your guess is as good as mine," I answered when my friend asked me how to use the video player.


Your secret is safe with me.
What does "Your secret is safe with me." mean?
I won't tell anyone your secret "Your secret is safe with me," I told my friend when he told me his problem.


yours truly
What does "yours truly" mean?
oneself, I, me I told my friend that if he wanted to borrow some money he could talk to yours truly.


yours truly
What does "yours truly" mean?
a polite phrase to end a letter I usually end my letters with "Yours sincerely" but sometimes I use "Yours truly."


You tell`em!
What does "You tell`em!" mean?
used to agree with or encourage someone in what they are saying "You tell`em," I yelled to the politician who was making the speech.

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