- something that is never criticized or laughed at even if it sometimes deserves to beThe medical insurance system is a sacred cow of the government and is never criticized by anyone.
(on the) safe side
- take no chancesIt may rain so just to be on the safe side I think that I will bring my umbrella.
- scold or criticize very hard, attackAs soon as I came in the door she sailed into me for being late.
- save moneyShe has salted away a few thousand dollars from her new job.
- save one's good reputation when something has happened to hurt itOur boss was very embarrassed when he had to tell us that the company had lost a lot of money. However, he was able to save face when he showed that the problems were outside of his control.
save one's breath
- remain silent because talking will do no goodYou may as well save your breath and not talk to her as she never believes you anyway.
save one's neck/skin
- save oneself from danger or troubleHe left the scene of the fire as soon as possible in order to save his own neck.
save the day
- bring about victory or success - esp. when defeat is likelyHe saved the day for his team after he played his best game of the season.
say a mouthful
- say something of great importance or meaning or lengthHe really said a mouthful yesterday when he made the announcement about his new job.
say one's piece
- say openly what one thinksHe said his piece at the meeting and then left quietly by the back door.
say the word
- give a sign, show a wishJust say the word and I will come and pick you up at the airport.
scare out of one's wits
- frighten very muchHer little girl was scared out of her wits after she saw the horror movie.
scare the daylights out of someone
- frighten very muchFalling off her bicycle scared the daylights out of her.
- find or gather something with some effortWe were able to scare up a couple of sleeping bags so that we could go camping.
- carelessly put in different placesHis papers are always scattered around his house so he is never able to find anything.
school of hard knocks
- ordinary experiences of lifeHe learned all about life in the school of hard knocks.
scrape the bottom of the barrel
- take whatever is left after the best has been takenThey are really scraping the bottom of the barrel if they must give him a job.
- gather money etc. a little at a timeWe managed to scrape together enough money to go to Disneyland even though business is very bad and we don't have much money.
- find or gather something with some effortHis girlfriend scraped up some money and went to visit him during the summer.
scratch one's back
- do something nice for someone in the hope that they will do something for you"You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours," he said when he offered to help me increase my sales.
scratch the surface
- make only a beginning to do or accomplish somethingThey have been gathering information about the planned merger but they have only scratched the surface of what is available.
- loaf about, hang around without doing anythingI spent the morning screwing around and didn't get anything done.
- make a mess of somethingMy travel agent screwed up our travel schedule so we had to stay at the airport overnight.
- look in many places for an item or itemsWe didn't have enough wood for the small building so we had to scrounge around the neighborhood to find some.
- "I don't know.", "How should I know.""Search me," he said when I asked him what had happened to the front of his car.
search one's soul
- study one's reasons and actions to see if one has been fair and honestI have been searching my soul to see if I was responsible for the accident that destroyed my friend's car.
- guess what someone else intends to do or would have doneYou should never try to second-guess the firefighters in a dangerous situation.
- not new, used by someone elseHe went to a second-hand bookstore to look for the books.
- after thinking about something againOn second thought maybe you should bring an extra coat.
- regaining your energy after being tiredAfter we got our second wind we continued on our hike up the mountain.
- something one holds on to for reassurance or comfort (like a child and a blanket)He uses his computer as his security blanket so that he doesn't have to go out and meet new people.
see about (something)
- check into somethingI'll see about getting the book for you by next week.
see eye to eye
- agreeWe don't always see eye to eye on everything but generally we get along.
- go with someone to their point of departureI went to the airport to see her off.
see one's way clear to do something
- feel able to do somethingWhen you see your way clear to begin the project could you please come and tell me.
- go with someone to an outer doorI went to the front door to see out our guests to their cars.
- finish and not quitI decided to stay with my company for awhile in order to see out the restructuring process.
- become very angryHe saw red last night when I told him about the broken dishes.
- imagine one is seeing stars as a result of being hit on the headWhen I was hit by the opposing football player I fell to the ground and began to see stars.
see the light
- realize your mistake, suddenly see how to proceed with somethingHe finally saw the light and began to do his work the same as everyone else.
see the light of day
- be born or begunI don't believe that his plans to build a new house will ever see the light of day.
see the world (things) through rose-colored glasses
- see only the good things about something, be too optimisticShe is a little unrealistic and tends to see the world through rose-colored glasses.
- imagine sights that are not real, think one sees what is not thereHe is always daydreaming and imagining that he is seeing things.
- understand someone's true character or motivationI could easily see through his attempt to fire her from her job.
see to (something)
- attend to or do somethingI will see to the rental car and you can see to the airplane tickets.
see to it
- take the responsibility to do something, make sureWill you please see to it that the garbage is taken out in the morning.
sell like hotcakes
- sell quickly, sell rapidlyThe tickets for the football game were selling like hotcakes when I inquired this morning.
- be disloyal, sell a secret, be unfaithfulHe said that he was a socialist but as soon as he got a good job he sold out to the establishment.
sell oneself short
- underestimate oneselfHe is selling himself short when he thinks that he can't do any other job.
send away for something
- write a letter asking for somethingI sent away for some postage stamps but they haven't arrived yet.
send someone packing
- tell someone to leave, dismiss someoneHe was sent packing because of his bad attitude to his job.
- sentence someone to prisonHe was sent up for seven years for robbing a bank.
serve one's purpose
- be useful to someone for a certain needThat tool should serve my purpose until I find the correct one.
serve someone right
- get the punishment or results that one deservesHe never studies at all so it serves him right to fail his exam.
- spend time in jailHe served time when he was young but now he is a model citizen.
- begin, startWe set about preparing the office for the move to a bigger building.
- cause to put off or get behind schedule, slow upWe were set back over a month when the floods destroyed the road to our farm.
set (one) back
- costHow much did your new suit set you back?
set eyes on
- to seeI don't know if she is here or not. I haven't set eyes on her since yesterday.
- step, walkI have never set foot in that restaurant and I never will in the future.
- explain exactly or clearlyHe carefully set forth the terms of the rental contract.
- start to go somewhere, begin a tripThey set forth on their holiday about 7:00 this morning.
- weather condition begins and will probably continueThe rain has set in and it looks like it won't stop for awhile.
- set free, release something that you are holdingThe wildlife department decided to set loose the bear that it had captured.
- decorate through contrast, balance by differenceHe painted the trim of his house red in order to set off the light colors.
- to cause to explodeThe fire set off a large explosion on the ship.
set one's heart on
- want very muchI set my heart on a nice holiday this winter but I won't be able to go because I have no money.
set one's mind at rest
- free oneself from worryI told him the reason we can't come in order to set his mind at rest.
- leave on a journeyMarco Polo set out for China many years ago.
- decide and begin to try, attemptHe set out to learn Spanish when he was transferred to Mexico.
- start sailing, begin a sea voyageThe three women set sail for Hawaii on a small sailboat.
set store on (by)
- like or value, want to keepOur company sets great store on their ability to attract good people.
set the pace
- decide on a rate of speed to do something that others will followThe manager of our section sets the pace for the employees under him.
set the world on fire
- do something outstanding or that makes one famousHe has not been able to set the world on fire with his writing but he is trying very hard.
- be satisfied with less, agree toI settled for less than I originally wanted with my contract but still I am happy with it.
- establish, provide the money for somethingThe newspaper company provided the money to set up the new travel magazine.
- make something ready to use by putting the parts togetherAfter we set up the gas barbecue we were able to cook dinner.
set (someone) up
- put someone in a position to be manipulatedI don't believe that I lost that money honestly. I believe that I was set up.
- arrangement, management, circumstancesMy uncle has a very nice setup at his office.
- live a quiet normal lifeHe settled down and started a family after he finished university.
settle a score with someone
- retaliate against someone, pay someone back for a past wrongHe always appears to be trying to settle the score with him and never treats him fairly.
- a state of intense delightShe has been in seventh heaven since she got the music award.
- won or arranged as one wishes, decidedThe candidate for the nomination easily sewed up his victory last week.
shack up with
- live with someone of the opposite sex without marrying themWhen his sister was younger she shacked up with her boyfriend for a couple of years.
shake a leg
- go fast, hurry"You will have to shake a leg if you want to arrive at the movie on time."
- get money by threatsThe gangsters shook down the small shop owners to get some money.
shake off (an illness)
- get rid of (an illness)She has been unable to shake off her illness and can't come to the party.
- change the command or leadership of somethingThe president decided to shake up top management in order to bring new energy into the organization.
(be) shaken up
- be bothered or disturbedI was a little shaken up after I heard about the fire at our new apartment building.
- begin to act and look rightHe has finally begun to shape up and is doing his job much better.
- payI shelled out over a thousand dollars for the new stereo.
shine up to
- try to please, try to make friends withHe is always shining up to his boss in the hopes of getting a raise.
shoe is on the other foot
- opposite is true, places are changedThe shoe is on the other foot now that he has also bought a house and has to pay a lot of money every month for his mortgage.
- someone or something that is expected to win, a sure winnerThe new president is a shoo-in to win another term in office.
- upset, worriedHe was really shook up after the accident and has not been back to work since.
shoot one's wad
- spend all one's money, say everything that is on one's mindHe shot his wad on a vacation to the Caribbean last winter.
- act fairly, deal honestlyHe always shoots straight when he is dealing with the police or the government.
shoot the breeze/bull
- talk idlyI met him at the supermarket so we decided to shoot the breeze for a few minutes.
shoot the works
- spare no expense or effortThey are planning to shoot the works when they plan the victory celebration for the Olympic medal winners.
- grow quicklyHis son really shot up quickly when he went away for the summer.
- arise suddenlyThe flames shot up over the top of the building when the wind started blowing.
- shoot at recklesslyIn many western movies the outlaws come into town and shoot up everybody.
- take drugs by injecting themWe were going to a movie when we saw the heroin addict shooting up heroin in the alley.
- go to various stores to look for somethingWe shopped around for a month before we bought a new stereo system.
- add support to something which is weakIt was necessary to shore up the house after the mud slide damaged the foundation.
short and sweet
- brief and pleasantHis visit with his parents was short and sweet.
short end (of the stick)
- unfair, unequal treatmentHe always gets the short end of the stick when he is at work.
- not have enough of somethingWe are short of sugar so could you please buy some when you are at the store.
- rude treatmentShe received short shrift from her supervisor when she asked for a holiday.
shot in the arm
- something inspiring or encouragingHis job search got a shot in the arm when the company president called him in for an interview.
shot in the dark
- an attempt without much hope or chance of succeedingThe attempt to find the small boy who had fallen into the river was a shot in the dark.
shove down one's throat
- force someone to do or agree to something not wantedI don't like him because he is always trying to shove his ideas down my throat.
- start, leaveI think that it is time for us to shove off. It is almost midnight.
- try to attract attention, displayHe has bought a lot of new clothes that recently he has been trying to show off.
- a person who brags a lotHe is a show-off and is always trying to impress other people.
show one's cards
- disclose one's plansHe hasn't really shown us his cards yet so I don't really know what he wants.
show one's (true) colors
- show what one is really like or is thinkingHe has shown his true colors lately with his attempt to punish those who don't reach the sales target.
show someone the door
- ask someone to go awayWhen he started yelling in the restaurant he was quickly shown the door.
- appear, arrive, be presentWhat time did your friend show up for the party?
- become or make something easy to seeAt first we couldn't see what was written on the vase but after a little effort to clean it up the design began to show up.
- not be bothered or hurt by something, disregardShe is a little mean but we always just shrug off her comments.
- make something like water or electricity stopWe always shut off the gas when we leave the house for more than a few minutes.
- be apart, be separated fromThe small town is shut off from the other towns in the valley.
- prevent the opposite team from scoring during a gameThe national soccer team shut out the second place team three games in a row.
- stop talking"Please shut up and let someone else speak for a change."
- close the doors and windows of a building for a period of timeWe decided to shut up our cottage for the summer as we would not use it anymore.
- confineWe have to shut up our dog in the house when the mailman comes.
sick and tired
- dislike something, be annoyed with somethingI am sick and tired of his constant complaining.
sick of (someone or something)
- bored with, dislikeI think that she is sick of working overtime every day.
- favor, support a position in a disputeHer mother always sides with her if they have an argument.
- before seeing a thing or personHe bought the car sight unseen and now he is having trouble with it.
- give something legally to someone by signing one's nameHe signed over his car to his son on his 21st birthday.
- promise to do something by signing one's name, joinHe signs up for tennis lessons every summer but his ability never improves.
- become calm, quietHe was very angry after the meeting but he has begun to simmer down a little now.
sing (whistle) a different tune
- contradict something said before, talk or act in the opposite wayUsually he doesn't care if he disturbs his neighbors at midnight but now that he has to get up early in the morning he is whistling a different tune.
- to penetrate, become understoodWhat he said hasn't really sunk in with the other members of the company.
sink one's teeth into
- go to work seriouslyIt's a difficult problem and is a little difficult to sink your teeth into.
sink or swim
- fail or succeed by your own effortsHe will have to sink or swim when he begins his new job.
- be built a distance away from a streetThe large mansion sits back three or four hundred meters from the street.
- relax, rest, take time outWe decided to sit back for the day and not do anything.
sit idly by
- sit and watch or rest while others workHe sat idly by all morning while the others worked hard.
- political demonstration where students or workers refuse to leave their classroom or job sitesThe students held a sit-in demonstration to demand an end to the war.
sit in on
- attend or participate in a meetingOur boss sat in on the meeting so that he could find out what was happening.
- be a member of a jury or board, etc.The former Prime Minister is now sitting on the board of many corporations.
sit right (negative)
- be unacceptableHis idea seemed good at first but it doesn't seem to sit right with the president.
- wait patiently for somethingPlease sit tight for a few minutes while I go and get a police officer.
- a non-moving target that is easily hit by a hunterThe hunter shot the sitting ducks easily and quickly.
- an unsuspecting person easily fooled - as if they are waiting to be attackedThe woman was a sitting duck when she sat on the bench with her purse beside her.
- be in a favorable situationHe is sitting pretty with his new job and lots of money.
- stay awake instead of going to bedMy mother had to sit up all night as my younger sister was very sick.
sit well (with)
- please or find favor with someoneHis decision to leave early for the weekend didn't sit well with the other members of the staff.
six feet under
- deadHe doesn't plan to move until he is six feet under.
(at) sixes and sevens
- in confusion or disagreementThey have been at sixes and sevens since they opened the new school.
six of one and half-a-dozen of the other
- two things the same, no differenceIt was six of one or half-a-dozen of the other as to whether or not we should take the train or the airplane. They both arrived at the same time and cost the same.
(the) size of it
- the way it isThat's about the size of it he said as he finished telling her about the accident.
- form an opinion, assess a situationIt took him a little time to size up the candidate before deciding to give him a job.
skate on thin ice
- take a chance, risk danger or disapprovalHe has been skating on thin ice recently with regard to his job. He is causing many problems and may be fired.
skeleton in one's closet
- family secretI heard that he has a lot of skeletons in his closet that he doesn't want to talk about.
- area of a city where many people live who have no money and drink a lot of alcoholThe skid row of our city is very depressing with the large number of drunk people around.
- scold angrily, spank or beatShe told her son that if he was late for dinner she would skin him alive.
skin and bones
- very skinnyThe cat which we found in the empty house was all skin and bones..
- only on the surface, not having any deep or honest meaningAlthough beauty is said to be only skin-deep many people care about it too much.
(no) skin off one's nose
- matter of interest, concern or trouble to oneIt is no skin off my nose whether or not she comes to the party.
(by the) skin of one's teeth
- only just, barelyWe were able to arrive in time for the train by the skin of our teeth.
- run away and not come to trial and therefore give up any money that you may have already paid the courtThe man didn't want to go to jail so he skipped bail and went to another city.
- forget all about it"Skip it", I said as she forgot to bring me the phone number after I had asked her three times.
slap in the face
- an insultNot getting a promotion was a real slap in the face for her.
- make in a hurry and without careWe slapped together a picnic table for the company picnic.
sleep a wink
- get a moment's sleepI didn't sleep a wink last night.
sleep on it
- think about something, consider, decide laterI will have to sleep on it tonight but I will give you an answer tomorrow.
slip of the tongue
- say the wrong thing at the wrong timeHis insult to the customer was a major slip of the tongue.
slip one's mind
- be forgottenI'm very sorry I didn't come and meet you last night. Our appointment totally slipped my mind.
- make a mistakeI slipped up when I said that I would not be able to go to the meeting next week.
- go more slowly than usualYou should slow down a little when you come to a bridge while driving.
- a form of striking without coming to a complete stopThere was a slow-down at the post office last year.
- collide, hitThe first car ran smack into the car behind it.
- someone or something of little importance, young childrenThe police are trying to find some of the major criminals in the drug trade. They are not interested in the small fry.
- a very successful performance, song, play, or movieThe series of Star War movies were all smash hits.
smell a rat
- become suspiciousI don't know what he is doing but something seems strange and I smell a rat.
- force out with smokeThe rats were smoked out of their nests by the black smoke.
- find out the facts about somethingThey were able to easily smoke out the real reasons for his decision to leave the company.
smooth something over
- make better or more pleasantShe tried to smooth over the problems between her boss and his sales staff.
- a very slow movement forwardThe cars on the highway moved at a snail's pace.
snake in the grass
- an enemy who pretends to be a friendYou should be careful of her even if she seems very nice. She is like a snake in the grass.
- an easy taskThe exam was a snap and I'm sure that I did very well.
snap out of it
- return to normal, stop being afraidHe finally snapped out of his depression and was able to return to work quickly.
- take or accept eagerlyThe tickets to the concert were snapped up in three hours.
(not to be) sneezed at
- worth having, not to be despisedThat new stereo system is not to be sneezed at.
(not a) snowball's chance in hell
- no chance at allThey don't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning the game tomorrow.
- insincere or exaggerated talk designed to gain the favors of someoneHis presentation at the interview was a total snow job.
- use technical vocabulary to seem like an expert in a fieldThe salesman gave us a snow job when he started to talk about the specifications of the machine.
- have or get so much of something that it can't be taken care ofI have been snowed under with paperwork during the last few weeks.
- take into oneself like a sponge takes up waterHe was able to soak up a lot of knowledge when he went to the summer film seminar.
- a story that makes one feel pity or sorrowMy sister told me a sob story about how she had lost her job.
sock it to someone
- give everything one is capable ofThe president socked it to the audience with his speech at the convention.
- until nowSo far no one has entered the speech contest at the television station.
so far, so good
- until now things have gone well"So far, so good." she replied when he asked her how her new job was going.
soft spot for someone/something
- a feeling of affection toward a person or thingShe has a soft spot for the elderly lady in the store.
so help me
- I promise, I swear"So help me, if you don't pay me back my money I will phone your company and ask them for help."
- goodbye"So long, I will see you next week."
somebody up there loves/hates me
- an expression meaning that an unseen power in heaven has been favorable/unfavorable to you"Somebody up there loves me," he said as he found the money on the side of the road.
- so good as to be beyond descriptionThe movie was something else. It was the best movie I had seen in years.
something else again
- a different kind of thingWorking all day on Saturday is OK but working all day Sunday is something else again.
- a large quantity of somethingThere was so much rain in the spring that our garden wouldn't grow well.
song and dance
- excusesHe gave me a song and dance about being busy but I never really believed him.
son of a gun/bitch
- a person, used as an exclamationI wish that that son of a bitch would stop using my camera without asking me.
sooner or later
- eventuallySooner or later you must pay me back the money so you should do it as soon as possible.
- someone who gets angry when they loseHe is a sore loser when he doesn't win a game of tennis.
- almost, similar to, not quiteDid you finish cleaning the kitchen? Well, sort of, but not really.
- tell what one knows or thinks in a loud voiceHe is always sounding off about why he doesn't like his job.
- try to find out how a person feels about something by asking questionsI have been sounding out my wife recently about whether or not she wants to move to a new house.
- changing and adding something to make it more powerful or fasterHe bought a souped-up car when he was a teenager.
- confused, incoherent, resembling someone who is using drugsHe was totally spaced out when the professor asked him a question about the text.
- make a request for, ask forHe spoke for the comfortable chair as soon as he entered the room.
speak of the devil and he appears
- a person comes just when one is talking about him"Speak of the devil and he appears," I said just as our colleague who we were talking about walked in the door.
speak one's piece
- say openly what one thinksI think that it is time for me to speak my piece and tell them what I want to do about the plans for a new factory.
- speak in favor of or in support of somethingMy boss spoke out in favor of a promotion for me.
- speak in a loud or clear voiceI had to ask the teacher to speak up as I couldn't hear him at all.
- explain something in very simple words, explain very clearlyI spelled out our conditions for renting out our house very clearly.
spic and span
- very clean, very neatThe house was spic and span when we returned from our holiday.
spill the beans
- tell a secret, informHe promised not to spill the beans about his plans to get married.
- exact resemblanceHe is a spitting image of his father.
- make unnecessary distinctionsHe makes a lot of good points but he also has a tendency to split hairs and waste a lot of our time.
split the difference
- settle a money disagreement by dividing the differenceWe had to pay extra money for the car so we decided to split the difference.
- vote for candidates from more than one political partyHe always votes for a split ticket when he votes and never votes for only one party.
- separateThey seemed like a nice couple but they suddenly decided to split up last month.
splurge on something
- spend a lot of money for somethingHe splurged on a beautiful present for his girlfriend.
- make something very easy for someoneHe is a very strict teacher and never likes to spoon-feed his students.
spread oneself too thin
- try to do too many things at one timeShe has been spreading herself too thin lately and is not accomplishing very much of anything.
- a young person (usually negative)She is no spring chicken. She is almost 96 years old.
- clean, redecorateThey spruced up the community center for the summer holidays.
(on the) spur of the moment
- suddenlyHe decided to go to Hong Kong on the spur of the moment.
- put right for use or actionHave you squared away your plans for your holidays yet?
- in the beginningWe had to go back to square one and start the project over.
square peg in a round hole
- a person who does not fit into a job or positionHe is like a square peg in a round hole trying to do the job of an accountant.
- complain aboutHe is always squawking about the bad service in that restaurant.
stab someone in the back
- betray someoneI dislike him because he tried to stab me in the back during the last meeting.
stack the cards
- arrange things (unfairly) for or against a personThey are stacking the cards against him with their constant demands for more and more qualifications for the job.
- a place where a person spends much of his timeHe went back to his old stamping grounds which he remembered as a teenager.
- destroy completely and make disappearThe government is making a great effort to stamp out smoking among teenagers.
- can't tolerate, dislikeShe can't stand the other people in her class.
stand a chance
- have a possibilityThey stand a good chance of winning the game.
- be near, waiting to do something when neededThere is a doctor standing by in case there is a medical emergency.
- follow or keep (one's promise), be loyal to or supportShe always stands by her husband when he has a problem.
stand clear of something
- keep away from somethingPlease stand clear of the door while we are moving the piano.
- be a sign of, make one think ofI didn't know what the letters stood for so I was not able to write the correct name of the company.
- speak in favor of something or show that one supports itAll of the candidates stand for a platform of law and order.
- allow to happen or be done, permitHe will not stand for anybody to come to his classes late.
stand in awe of
- look upon with wonder, feel respectful toHe stands in awe of the former coach in the football department.
stand in for someone
- be a substitute for someone elseThe other actor stood in for her when she was sick.
stand (someone) in good stead
- be a great advantage to someoneIt will stand you in good stead with the company if you do the extra work.
- stay at a distance, stay apartHe always stands off from the rest of the students in his class.
- keep someone or something from coming near or winningThere was a stand-off at the bank between the police and the bank robbers.
stand on ceremony
- be formalYou don't need to stand on ceremony. You can relax.
stand one's ground
- maintain and defend one's positionHe stood his ground over his decision to fire the employee.
stand on one's own two feet
- be independentHe learned to stand on his own two feet when he was very young.
- be more noticeable in some way than those around oneHe likes to wear clothes that make him stand out from the crowd.
- watch closely, keep checking all the timeHe stood over his son all day to make sure that he was studying for his final exams.
- be satisfied with things and be against a changeWe should stand pat for awhile and not do anything to cause any problems with the negotiations.
stand to reason
- make sense, be logicalIf he told a lie about that it stands to reason that he will probably lie to you about other things too.
- strong enough to use for a long timeThe new carpet is able to stand up to the use of many people.
stand up and be counted
- be willing to say what one thinks in publicThe union members thought it was time that they stood up and were counted before management took away their benefits.
stand (someone) up
- fail to keep an appointment or date with your boyfriend or girlfriendHe stood her up on a date last Saturday and now she won't talk to him.
stand up for
- defend against attack, fight forThe citizens of the town were ready to stand up for their rights,
stand up to someone
- be brave in confronting someoneHe stood up to his boss during the meeting when his boss criticized his work.
stars in one's eyes
- an appearance or feeling of very great happinessShe had stars in her eyes when she saw the beautiful ring that her boyfriend had bought for her.
- begin a careerHe started in as a mailroom clerk but soon he began to have more and more important jobs in the company.
start the ball rolling
- begin to do somethingHe finally started the ball rolling on their plans to build a new house.
- begin operating, begin to playHe started up a small business when he was 20 years old.
stay away from
- avoidHe has been staying away from salty foods for several months now.
- stay in one place, not leaveWe decided to stay put for our holidays rather than go away.
steal one's thunder
- do or say something that another person had planned to sayHe stole my thunder when he announced that he was leaving the company before me.
steal the show
- act or do so well in a performance that you get most of the attentionThe little boy stole the show at the music festival.
steer clear of someone
- avoidI have been steering clear of that person ever since our argument.
step by step
- graduallyHe has made a great effort and step by step he has learned how to use a computer.
- leave an important positionMy father stepped down from his job as president of his company recently.
step on it
- go faster, hurry"Step on it," he yelled as the taxi took him to the airport a little late.
step on one's toes
- do something that embarrasses or offends someone elseHe stepped on a lot of people's toes at work and now has many enemies.
step on the gas
- go faster, hurryI decided to step on the gas in order to get to work on time.
- make something go faster or more activelyRecently we had to step up our effort to hire some new computer programmers for our company.
- rise to a higher or more important position, be promotedHe stepped up to the position of manager after the old manager was fired.
stew in one's own juice
- suffer from something that one has caused to happen oneselfHe is stewing in his own juice after he got into trouble for being late.
- stay or wait nearbyWe decided to stick around after the game to talk for awhile.
- someone who is old-fashioned, someone who doesn't want to join in with othersHe is a stick-in-the-mud and will never join in any of the activities at a party.
stick one's neck out
- take risks, support someoneHe never sticks his neck out for anyone at work and therefore has few friends.
stick it out
- endure, continueShe doesn't like her new job but plans to stick it out until she saves enough money to go to Europe.
stick to (a story/the facts)
- remain faithful to somethingPlease stick to the facts when you tell the story to the police.
stick to one's guns
- defend an action or opinion despite an unfavorable reactionHe is sticking to his guns on his decision to fire the manager of the store.
- rob with a gunA man with a gun tried to stick up my mother when I was a child.
stick up for
- defend, help, supportHe always sticks up for the younger workers at his company.
- continue doing, not quitHe has been able to stick with his trumpet lessons since he was a child.
- stay with, not leaveIf you stick with your job for a few years you will be able to save a lot of money.
stick (someone) with
- leave someone with something unpleasantI was stuck with paying the bill when I went to the restaurant with my friends.
- the habit of stealing things that one sees and wantsThe young boy has sticky fingers and you must watch him all the time.
- terrible, bad qualityDo you like that new policy at your company? No, I think it stinks.
- cause some action to occur, rouseThe man's angry words stirred up the crowd and made them very angry.
stir up a hornet's nest
- make many people angry, do something that many people don't likeHe stirred up a hornet's nest when he began to talk about the problems with the bonus system at his job.
- having no moneyHe was stone-broke after he came back from his holiday in Greece.
- visit, pass byWhy don't you stop by my house on your way home?
- stop very quickly or with great forceHe stopped dead when he saw the bear in the middle of the road.
stop in one's tracks
- stop very quickly or with great forceThe elephant was forced to stop in its tracks by the electric fence.
- stop at a place for a short time while going somewhereWe decided to stop off in New York City on our way to Egypt.
- stay at a place overnight or for a short time while on a tripThe plane had to stop over in Alaska because one of the passengers had a heart attack.
straight from the horse's mouth
- directly from the person involvedI went over to my friend's house so that I could hear about her wedding straight from the horse's mouth.
straight from the shoulder
- open and honest way of speakingHe always speaks straight from the shoulder.
- plainly, in a way that hides nothingHe was told straight out by his boss that his work was not satisfactory.
- put in order, clean upHe had to straighten up the house before inviting his parents over for dinner.
strapped for cash
- have no money availableI am a little strapped for cash so I won't be able to go away this summer.
straw in the wind
- a small sign of what may happenWhen the company began to try and cut back on expenses it was a straw in the wind as to what would happen in the future.
straw that breaks the camel's back
- a small problem which follows other troubles that makes you lose patience and be unable to continue as beforeRecently she has caused many problems in this company. However, when she lost the key to the front door of the office it was the straw that broke the camel's back and we decided to fire her.
stretch a point
- agree to something beyond the limit of what is normally allowedI think it is stretching a point to think you can go and take a two-hour lunch break.
strike it rich
- become rich or successful suddenlyHe struck it rich when he got a job at the computer company and was able to buy some stock very cheap.
- be put out of action through one's own errorsHe struck out in his attempt to gather enough support to build a new cafeteria in the building.
strike while the iron is hot
- take advantage of an opportunityHe decided to strike while the iron was hot and quickly applied for the job.
- deceive or foolHe tried to string me along with his story about his sick mother.
- make something extend over a great distance or over a long period of timeThe games of the soccer tournament were strung out over a period of about 3 weeks.
- obligations, restraining conditionsHe was able to borrow the money for the furniture with no strings attached.
- very much in love with, crazy aboutMy niece has been stuck on the boy next door for several months now.
- acting as if other people are not as good as one is, conceitedWe don't like the new woman at work because she is very stuck up and thinks she is much better than the rest of us.
- a person who is too rigid or too formalHe is a stuffed shirt and I never feel comfortable to try and talk with him.
- a list of easily-fooled people who are easily persuaded to buy somethingThe salesmen used a sucker list to try and get people to buy his new product.
- a rich older man who gives money to a younger woman for her companionshipThe woman went off on a nice winter holiday with her sugar daddy.
- put something into a few words, summarizeHe summed up his presentation and asked for questions from the audience.
- eggs fried on one side onlyWe asked for our eggs to be fried sunny-side up at the restaurant.
- something sure to happen, something about which there is no doubtHis promotion to senior manager is a sure thing according to the president.
- of course, certainly"Sure thing, I would be glad to help you with your homework tonight."
swallow one's pride
- bring one's pride under control, become humbleI had to swallow my pride and go and ask my supervisor for some extra money.
- overwhelmedI am a little swamped with work at the moment so I can't meet you tonight.
- final appearanceHe was a big hit during his swan song at the party last week.
- use as the support or authority that what one is saying is truthfulThe accused criminal was asked to swear on a bible at the trial.
- have complete confidence in , be sure of somethingHe swears by the walk that he takes every morning.
- have a person promise to do his duty as a member of an organization or government dept. etc.The new Prime Minister was sworn in last night at the parliament.
- decide to give up something that you are in the habit of usingMy friend swore off alcohol several years ago.
- be nervous, be very worriedI was sweating bullets during the interview but after it started I was able to calm down.
- wait anxiously, worry while waitingI spent the evening sweating out whether or not I would get the job or not.
sweep off one's feet
- overcome with strong feelingsWe were swept off our feet over the excitement of the ceremony.
sweep under the rug
- hide or dismiss casuallyThey always sweep their problems under the rug and never want to discuss them.
- darling, sweetheartHe always calls his wife sweetie pie. Even after they have been married for 30 years.
- in love with, very fond ofHe was sweet on his next door neighbor when he was a child.
- praise or flatter someone to get what you wantMy sister tried to sweet talk our father into giving her the car but he said no.
- a feeling that one is more important than one really isHe has a swelled head since he got the new position in his company.
swim against the tide/current
- do the opposite of what most people want to doHe is always swimming against the tide and never wants to do what his friends are doing.
- in tune with the latest fads, ideas and fashionsHis aunt is really switched on and looks much younger than her age.