R 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

rack one's brains

- try hard to think or remember something

I have been racking my brains all day trying to remember his name.

rain check

- a free ticket to an event in place of one cancelled because of rain

We received two rain checks to the baseball game after it was cancelled because of the rain.

rain check

- a promise to repeat an invitation at a later date

I didn't have time to go to the restaurant with my friend so I took a rain check instead.

raining cats and dogs

- raining very hard

It has been raining cats and dogs all morning.

raise a fuss

- make trouble, make a disturbance

The woman at the restaurant raised a fuss when her meal arrived late.

raise a hand

- do something, do one's share, help

Nobody likes him because he will never raise a hand to help his friends.

raise Cain

- create a disturbance, cause trouble

They began to raise Cain at the dance and were asked to leave.

raise eyebrows

- cause surprise or disapproval

It really raised eyebrows when she appeared at the party unannounced.

rake in the money

- make a lot of money

His new pizza franchise has been raking in the money since it first opened.

rake someone over the coals

- scold, reprimand

His boss raked him over the coals when he heard about the lost sales report.

ram (something) down one's throat

- force one to do or agree to something not wanted

She always tries to ram her ideas down our throats which makes us very angry.

rat out on

- desert or betray someone, leave at a critical time

His friend ratted out on him when he refused to support him in his fight with the neighborhood bully.

rat race

- endless hurried existence

He likes working for a major corporation although sometimes he finds it too much of a rat race.

raw deal

- unfair treatment

he got a raw deal when he was forced to resign from his company.

read between the lines

- find a hidden meaning in something

I know that he didn't say it but I can read between the lines so I know what he means.

read the riot act

- give someone a strong warning or scolding

The teacher read the riot act to her students when they began to misbehave in class.

real McCoy

- the genuine thing

That new camera is the real McCoy and will let you do everything that you want.

red herring

- something that draws attention away from the matter under consideration

The issue of the pay cut is a red herring and is not related to the main issues.

red letter day

- a day that is memorable because of some important event

Saturday was a red letter day when we finally won the championship.

red tape

- excessive formalities in official transactions

There was much red tape when we went to city hall to get a business license.

regular guy

- a friendly person who everyone gets along with

The former Prime Minister was a regular guy and was well liked by most people.

rest on one's laurels

- be satisfied with the success one has already won

He is always willing to work hard and is not the type of person to rest on his laurels.

rhyme or reason

- a good plan or reason, a reasonable purpose or explanation

Without rhyme or reason he suddenly decided to quit his job.

ride herd on

- watch closely and control

The new supervisor plans to ride herd on the people who work for him.

ride out

- survive safely, endure

We were able to easily ride out the storm at the small restaurant.

riding high

- attracting attention, enjoying great popularity

The new government has been riding high in the polls for several months now.

right away

- immediately

I forgot to bring the book today but I will go home and get it right away.

right off the bat

- immediately, from the beginning

I told him right off the bat that we didn't need a new computer for the office.

right on

- indicates approval, "that's right", "yes"

He called out "right on" every time that the politician promised a new program to help unemployed people.

right out

- plainly, in a way that hides nothing

He told the new supervisor right out that he did not like him.

right under one's nose

- in an obvious, nearby place

I found the calculator right under my nose after searching for it for an hour.

ring a bell

- remind one of something

The name doesn't ring a bell. I'm sure I have never heard of him.

ring up

- add and record on a cash register

I went to the cash register to have them ring up the things that I had bought.

ring up

- telephone someone

You should ring up the police if you see anybody strange around your house.

rip off

- cheat, rob

I was ripped off by the mechanics at that gas station.

road hog

- a car driver who takes up more than his share of the road

My father becomes very angry at the road hogs when he is driving.

rob Peter to pay Paul

- take from one person or thing to pay another

When the government began to take money from education to pay for the medical system it was like robbing Peter to pay Paul.

rob the cradle

- have dates with or marry a person much younger than oneself

Everyone said that my friend was robbing the cradle when he married the young woman at his company.

rock the boat

- upset the way things are

He is a very quiet worker and never likes to rock the boat at work.

roll around

- return at a regular or usual time, come back

Every time that his birthday rolls around he has a big party.

roll in

- arrive in great numbers or quantity

The money has been rolling in since they started the new franchise.

rolling stone

- a person who does not live or work in one place

He is a rolling stone and I never know where to find him.

roll out the red carpet

- welcome an important guest by putting a red carpet down for him or her to walk on

They rolled out the red carpet when the President of France came for a visit.

roll out the red carpet

- make a big effort to greet and entertain someone

Whenever I visit my aunt in New York City she rolls out the red carpet for me.

roll up one's sleeves

- prepare to work hard or seriously

Everyone in our club rolled up their sleeves to help prepare for the party.

rope into

- trick, persuade by pressuring someone

I didn't want to help with the dinner but I was roped into doing it by my best friend.

rough and ready

- rough or crude but effective

The boat is rough and ready so let's take it for a ride.

rough and tumble

- fighting or arguing in a very rough and reckless way

It was a rough and tumble meeting that we attended at the city planning office last night.

rough guess

- an approximate estimate

He made a rough guess as to how many people would come to the party.

rough up

- attack or hurt physically

The three men roughed up the bartender at the hotel and were arrested by the police.

round robin (letter)

- a letter written by a group of people with each person writing part of the letter

We sent a round robin letter to the librarian to ask for better opening hours for the library.

round robin (meeting or discussion)

- a meeting or discussion in which each person in a group takes part

We had a round robin panel discussion on what we could do to help save the environment.

round robin (tournament or contest)

- game or contest in which each player or team plays every other player or team in turn

The round robin tournament was held in order to choose the championship team for the city.

round up

- bring together, collect

We rounded up enough people to play a game of soccer last night.

rub elbows/shoulders

- be in the same place (with others), meet and mix

At the party we were able to rub elbows with many important people.

rub off

- remove or be removed by rubbing, erase

She rubbed off the writing on the whiteboard.

rub off

- pass to someone nearby, transmit to someone

Her bad habit of talking all the time has rubbed off on her husband as well.

rub out

- destroy completely, kill, eliminate

The government troops rubbed out the whole village.

rub someone the wrong way

- irritate others with something one says or does

Her lack of politeness always rubs me the wrong way.

rub something in

- continue to talk or joke about something someone said or did

I know that she made a mistake but you shouldn't rub it in.

rule out

- decide against, eliminate

They still haven't ruled out using him on the team for the tournament.

rule the roost

- be the dominant one in the family

She seems rather quiet but she really rules the roost in their family.

run a risk

- unprotected, open to danger or loss

You are running a great risk if you drive with him after he has been drinking.

run around

- go to different places for entertainment or to do things

We ran around all day and now we are very tired.

run around in circles

- act confused, do a lot but accomplish little

I have been running around all day but I can't seem to get anything done.

run away with

- take quickly and secretly - especially without permission or by stealing

Someone ran away with the dictionary so now we don't have one.

run away with

- take hold of

Their imagination ran away with them when they went to the circus. They decided that they actually wanted to join the circus.

run away with

- be much better than others, win easily

Our hometown team ran away with the football championship.

run down

- crash against and knock down

My dog was run down by a car last week.

run down

- say bad things about someone, criticize

She is always running down her friends. That is why nobody likes her.

run down

- get into poor health or condition, look bad

She has become run down since she started working at night.

run for it

- dash for safety, make a speedy escape

As soon as it started raining we ran for it and tried to get to the shelter.

run in

- make a brief visit

I ran in to see my sister at her office before I left for the weekend.

run (someone) in

- take to jail, arrest

The police ran the three boys in for questioning about the robbery.

run in the family/blood

- be a common family characteristic

Being a left-handed golfer and baseball hitter runs in our family.

run into

- add up to, total

If you decide to stay in nice hotels during your holiday it will run into a lot of money.

run into

- mix with, join with

During the hot weather the red paint on the roof ran into the white paint.

run into

- be affected by, get into

He ran into trouble when he tried to cross the border with no visa.

run into (something)

- hit something or crash into something

His car ran into the other car on the highway.

run into (someone)

- meet by chance

I ran into him when I was at the supermarket.

run into the ground

- use something more than is wanted or needed

He ran his car into the ground before he had to buy another one.

run off

- produce with a printing press or copy machine

We ran off hundreds of copies of the poster for the festival.

run off with (someone)

- go away with someone, elope

My sister ran off with her boyfriend and got married when she was quite young.


- ordinary, usual

The restaurant was in a run-of-the-mill building but it was superb.

run out (of something)

- use up, come to an end

The car ran out of gas in the middle of the countryside.

run out

- force to leave, expel

The drug dealers were run out of town by the police.

run over

- be too full and flow over the edge

The water in the bathtub ran over the edge and got everything in the room wet.

run over

- try to go over something quickly, practice briefly

We can run over this material tomorrow before the meeting.

run over

- drive on top of, ride over

We ran over a small rabbit on the way to the meeting.

run ragged

- be tired or exhausted

She has been run ragged by her three children.

run scared

- try everything to avoid defeat as in a political campaign

The senator has been running scared in his attempt to win re-election.

run short

- not have enough, be not enough in quantity

We ran short of money during our trip to Europe.

run the gauntlet

- face a hard test or painful experience

He had to run the gauntlet of many interviews before he got the job.

run through

- spend recklessly, use up wastefully

We ran through a lot of money when we were looking for a new apartment.

run through

- read or practice from beginning to end without stopping

I usually try to run through my speech a couple of times before I have to give it.

run up

- add to the amount of something, increase

He ran up a large bill at the department store before he left for home.

run up

- pull something up on a rope

We ran up the flag early this morning before the parade started.

run up against (something)

- encounter

They ran up against many problems when they were building the freeway.

run wild

- be or go out of control

The crowd ran wild after the soccer game.

Russian roulette

- a game of chance in which one bullet is placed in a revolver, the cartridge is spun, and the player aims the gun at his head and pulls the trigger

The men in the movie played Russian roulette until one of them finally died.

Russian roulette

- a potentially dangerous situation

Putting the load of plutonium on the old ship was like playing a game of Russian roulette.