D Idioms

Idioms Index | A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

dance to a different tune

- talk or act differently (usually better) because things have changed

He has begun dancing to a different tune now that he knows that his head salesman is thinking of quitting.

dark horse

- a candidate little known to the general public

At first he was a dark horse candidate but he later won the election.

dash off

- do or finish quickly, leave quickly

I will dash off a letter now but then I must go to work.

dawn on

- become clear

It finally dawned on me as to why he was angry.

day and night

- continually

We worked day and night to finish the project before the end of the month.

day in and day out

- regularly, all the time

He goes to that restaurant day in and day out and never gets tired of it.

dead ahead

- exactly in front, before

There was a truck dead ahead so we put on the car brakes suddenly.

dead as a doornail

- very dead

The man was dead as a doornail as we could see after the accident.


- a person who never pays his debts

There is a policy to penalize deadbeat fathers by the local government.

dead center

- exact middle

He was able to hit the target dead center.

dead duck

- person or thing in a hopeless situation or condition

He is a dead duck and has no hope of recovering his former position.

dead end

- the closed end of a road or an impasse

The negotiations between the team and the owners have come to a dead end.


- with an expressionless or emotionless face

He had a deadpan expression when he told us the story.

dead set against something

- determined not to do something

They are dead set against their son going to Europe for a year.

dead tired

- very tired, exhausted

I was dead tired so I went to bed as soon as I got home.

dead to the world

- fast asleep

The little boy was dead to the world when his father took him out of the car.

decked out

- dressed in fancy clothes

She was all decked out in her best clothes for the party.


- throw away, dispose of

I decided to deep-six the videos as I didn't want them any longer.

deep water

- serious trouble or difficulty

He will be in deep water if he doesn't tell us where he spent the money.

deliver the goods

- succeed in doing what is expected well

He is the best manager that we have ever had. He knows how to deliver the goods.


- unworried, not caring what happens

He has a devil-may-care attitude to his job and nothing ever bothers him.

die down

- come slowly to an end, grow weaker

When the sound of the music finally died down we were able to get to sleep.

die off

- die one after another until the number is small

The house plants began to die off as soon as he moved to a new apartment.

die out

- die or disappear slowly until all gone

Dinosaurs died out millions of years ago.

dig in

- begin eating

Let's dig in and eat before everything is cold!

dime a dozen

- common, easy to get and of little value

Used books are a dime a dozen so don't worry if you can't sell them.

dirty look

- a look that shows dislike or disapproval

His mother gave him a dirty look when he smoked the cigarette.

dish out

- serve food from a large bowl or plate

He began to dish out the food as soon as the guests arrived.

dish out

- treat or criticize roughly

He likes to dish out criticism to others but he doesn't like to hear criticism about himself.

do a double take

- look again in surprise at someone or something

She did a double take when she saw her old boyfriend with another woman.

do a job on

- do harm to, make ugly or useless

He really did a job on the plans for the new house that he was working on.

do away with

- put an end to, stop, get rid of

The company has decided to do away with having fixed holidays every year.


- ready or willing to fight and hurt others to get what you want

It is a dog-eat-dog world out in the world of advertising and public relations.

do in

- to ruin, destroy

He quickly did in the new shoes that he received for his birthday.

do in

- to make tired, exhaust

He was really done in by the time that he finished the marathon.

doll up

- dress in fancy clothes

She was all dolled up for the party at the downtown hotel.

done for

- ruined, defeated, dying

I think that the team is done for as far as this season is concerned.

done with

- be finished using something

He was finally done with the computer and so he let his sister use it.

do one's best

- try to do something as well as you can

I tried to do my best on the exam.

do one's bit (part)

- share in a group project by contributing one's time and effort

He did his bit for the planning of the party.

do one's thing

- do what one wants to do and enjoys

He is an individualist and enjoys doing his thing when and where he chooses.


- make a great effort while disregarding danger

He was in a position of do-or-die when he finally found another job.

do out of

- cause to lose by trickery or cheating

He was worried that the company would do him out of the large bonus that he was expecting.

do someone good

- be good or beneficial for someone

It will do you good to go on a holiday.

do something rash

- take drastic action (usually without thinking)

She is extremely angry so I hope that she doesn't do anything rash.

do the honors

- perform the duty of a host (when serving a drink etc.)

Would you like to do the honors and pour everyone a glass of wine?

do the trick

- work well, achieve a good result

I think the new piece of equipment should do the trick and solve the problem.

do time

- spend time in prison

He was doing time when I first heard about him.

do with

- benefit from

I have been working hard all day so now I could do with a cold drink.

do with

- be acquainted, involved or associated with

I don't have anything to do with the party this year.

do without

- manage without something

If there is no sugar, we'll have to do without.

double back

- turn back from where you are going or have been

We decided to double back from the arena to get some money to go to a movie.


- check again to be sure something is correct

He double-checked the price of the airplane ticket.


- deceive, promise one thing and do another

He tried to double-cross his partner but was caught and sent to jail.


- talk that appears to have meaning but does not

He gave the audience a lot of double-talk so nobody knew what he wanted to say.

double up

- share a room or home with someone

The passengers had to double up in hotel rooms when the plane was delayed because of the weather.

down and out

- have no money

He has been down and out before but he has always been able to find a job eventually.

down in the dumps

- unhappy

She has been really down in the dumps since her boyfriend moved away.

down on (someone)

- be critical of someone, angry at

She is really down on her friend but I don't really know the reason.

down one's alley

- suited to one's tastes and abilities

Computers are down his alley so I am sure that he will be interested in taking the job.

down the line

- straight ahead, in future

There will be many changes at this company down the line but for now your job is safe.

down the drain

- wasted or lost

He is just throwing money down the drain when he goes to the horse races.


- sensible and practical

Her mother is a very down-to-earth person.

down to the wire

- nearing a deadline, running out of time

We went right down to the wire but we were able to finish the job on time.

do wonders

- produce excellent results

If you begin to do some exercise it will do wonders for your health.

drag in

- insist on bringing another subject into a discussion

He always drags in his personal problems when we are talking about his performance on the job.

drag on

- pass very slowly, make longer

The speech seemed to drag on and on so finally we decided to leave early.

drag one's feet/heels

- act slowly or reluctantly

He has been dragging his feet about whether or not to take the job.

draw a blank

- obtain nothing in return for an effort made, get a negative result

He drew a blank when he went to the head office to try and receive some information about the merger.

draw fire

- receive criticism or argument

He has been drawing a lot of fire since he announced that he would not play basketball another year.

draw fire

- be a target, attract or provoke shooting

The soldiers drew fire when they entered the small village.

draw in one's horns

- spend less money

Their company is not doing well so they will have to draw in their horns for awhile.

draw (someone) out

- make a person talk or tell something

She was very quiet but we finally were able to draw her out so that she would join the party.

draw the line

- set a limit

We have to draw the line somewhere in regards to the costs of the party.

draw up

- put in writing

They were able to draw up the new contract while we were waiting.

dressed to kill

- wear one's finest clothes

She was dressed to kill when I saw her at the concert last week.

dressed to the nines (teeth)

- dressed elegantly

The stars were all dressed to the nines during the Academy Awards ceremony.

dress up

- put on one's best clothes

He decided to dress up for dinner at the restaurant.

drive a hard bargain

- conclude a bargain without making any concessions

Although he drives a hard bargain I like doing business with him.

drive at

- try or want to say something

I don't know what he was driving at in his speech.

drive someone up a wall

- irritate or annoy someone greatly

His constant complaining is driving me up a wall.

drop a hint

- casually utter a hint or suggestion

He dropped a hint that he wanted to transfer to a new department.

drop (someone) a line

- write or mail a note or letter to someone

She promised that she would drop me a line when she gets to Singapore.

drop back

- move or step backwards, retreat

During the hike his foot began to get sore so he decided to drop back and rest for awhile.

drop by

- to visit someone or somewhere

He dropped by after work for a drink.

drop by the wayside

- give up or fail before the finish

Many runners dropped by the wayside as the marathon continued.

Drop dead!

- go away and be quiet, stop bothering someone

I told him to drop dead when he came into my room and now he is angry at me.

drop in

- make a short or unplanned visit

I decided to drop in and visit my friend after I finished work for the day.

drop in the bucket

- small amount

The money he paid back was only a drop in the bucket compared to what he owes.

drop out (of school)

- quit school or a course of some kind

She dropped out of the class after three months.

drown one's sorrows

- drink alcohol to forget one's problems

He's in the bar drowning his sorrows with a beer.

drown out

- make so much noise that it is impossible to hear

The team captain was drowned out by the cheering fans.

drum up

- invent, encourage by making an effort

They were able to drum up a lot of business during the summer.

duck soup

- easy, effortless

How was the test last week? It was duck soup - no problem at all.

dumb bunny

- a stupid gullible person

He is a dumb bunny and you never know what he will do next.

Dutch treat

- meal/movie etc. where each person pays their own way, contribute equally to something

When he goes out with his girlfriend it is always a Dutch treat as he doesn't have much money.

dwell on

- think about or talk about something all the time

I wish he wouldn't always dwell on his personal problems.