advantage noun — something that makes one person or thing more likely to succeed than others
the advantages of a good education
aggressive adjective — behaving in an angry or rude way that shows you want to fight, attack, or argue with someone
brick noun — bricks used as a building material
a brick wall
concise adjective — expressed using only a few words, but in a way that is easy to understand
clear concise instructions
criticism noun — comments that show that you think something is wrong or bad
He finds criticism of his team’s performance hard to take.
deliberately adverb — with a definite intention, not by chance or by accident
You did that deliberately, just to annoy me.
disadvantage noun — something that makes someone or something less effective, successful, or attractive
Grants are available for projects that tackle disadvantage in deprived areas.
economical adjective — used about someone who is careful about spending money
He always was economical when it came to buying presents.
exaggerate verb — to describe something in a way that makes it seem better, worse, larger, more important etc than it really is
Don’t exaggerate! It wasn’t that bad!
molehill noun — a small pile of earth made by a mole ( = a small animal with dark fur that digs underground and cannot see well) digging underground
priority noun — something important that must be done first or needs more attention than anything else
Being fashionable was low on her list of priorities.
resource noun — something that you can use to help you to achieve something, especially in your work or study
The Internet has become a valuable resource in schools.
ridiculous adjective — silly or unreasonable and deserving to be laughed at
a ridiculous idea
task noun — something that you have to do, often something that is difficult or unpleasant
My first real task was to prepare for the meeting.
upset adjective — very sad, worried, or angry about something
Why are you so upset?
Choose the correct answer, a, b or c for each of the questions below.
- What does ‘save the day’ mean?
a) to worry too much about saving money
b) to delay doing something until another day
c) to do something that prevents a defeat or failure
- What are you doing if you are ‘talking to a brick wall’?
a) talking to someone who is not listening and will not take your advice
b) talking to someone who can’t understand you
c) talking to someone who is very boring
- What does ‘make a mountain out of a molehill’ mean?
a) to work successfully with few resources
b) to exaggerate the seriousness of a problem
c) to tell a ridiculous lie about something
- What does it mean if you ‘take a leaf out of someone’s book’?
a) You copy something someone else has done because it will help you.
b) You steal something from someone, hoping they won’t notice.
c) You copy what someone else is writing during a written examination.
- What does it mean if ‘the tables have turned’?
a) A situation has changed, with a person who was previously at a disadvantage now having an advantage.
b) Things in general are disorganised.
c) A person is starting to think differently about life in general.
- What does it mean if you have to ‘go back to square one’?
a) You have to change your priorities.
b) You have to return to an unpleasant place where you spent time in the past.
c) You have to go back to the beginning of a task and start again.
- What does it mean if someone is ‘economical with the truth’?
a) They deliberately leave out information in order to create a false impression of a situation.
b) They are able to express information in a concise and clear way, without making things too complicated.
c) They tell lies.
- What is an ‘eye opener’?
a) something that wakes you up when you are sleeping
b) something surprising or unexpected that reveals the truth about something or someone
c) something you eat, drink or do that makes you feel less tired
- What does it mean if you ‘keep someone at arm’s length’?
a) You don’t allow them to become very friendly with you.
b) You have as much contact with them as you can, because you really like them.
c) You give them the impression that you like them, but you don’t really.
- What does ‘call the shots’ mean?
a) to be in a position of control, taking the important decisions about something
b) to make requests that people ignore
c) to be a good singer
- What does it mean if you say something ‘off the top of your head’?
a) You say it in an aggressive way that might make people angry.
b) You say something you had been anxious about saying because people might react badly.
c) You say it without thinking about it first.
- What does ‘face the music’ mean?
a) to only think about having fun, and ignore more serious matters
b) to accept criticism or punishment for something you have done wrong
c) to have artistic rather than scientific skills
- What does it mean if there is ‘no love lost’ between two people?
a) They dislike each other very much.
b) They have had a disagreement but still like each other very much.
c) They don’t know each other very well.
- What does it mean if you take something difficult or unpleasant ‘in your stride’?
a) You try to ignore it.
b) You deal with it calmly, not letting it upset you.
c) You cannot forget about it, so it starts to change your behaviour.
Complete the sentences below with the appropriate idioms from Exercise 1.
You may need to change the verb forms.
- ‘I don’t trust him. I don’t know what he wants from you, but if I were you I’d ______ him ______ ______ ______ .’
- ‘I just said it ______ ______ ______ ______ my ______ , without thinking. I didn’t mean to be rude.’
- ‘The boss knows it’s John’s fault that the reports were wrong. She’s said she wants to him see her in her office at 2.30, so it looks like he’s going to have to ______ ______ ______ .’
- ‘You’re probably not going to pass this exam unless you study hard, like Simon does. Why don’t you ______ ______ ______ ______ ______ his ______ and do some extra reading at weekends?’
- ‘Martin used to be the boss but he isn’t any more. It’s me who ______ ______ ______ around here now, and things are going to be very different.’
- ‘Everyone knows there’s ______ ______ ______ between Tom and Martin – they hardly speak to each other. You remember how badly Martin used to treat Tom when he was the boss? Well, now the ______ ______ ______ and Tom’s in charge, my guess is that he’s going to make life very difficult for Martin.’
- ‘With three minutes of the match left it looked like United were heading for an embarrassing defeat, but then Robson ______ ______ ______ with two goals.’
- ‘Have you read this article about those two government ministers? It’s a real ______ ______ . I had no idea those kinds of things were going on.’
- ‘Sarah’s very strong. She’s had a tough year with her dad being ill but she seems to take it all ______ her ______ . As for Louise, she doesn’t have any serious problems but is always talking as if she had. Her story about losing her key, for example – she’s just ______ ______ ______ ______ ______ ______ ______ .’
- ‘I told him his relationship’s a disaster and he should get out as fast as he can. But it’s no good – it’s like ______ ______ ______ ______ ______ .’
- ‘It seems all of our experiments have failed. All we can do now is ______ ______ ______ ______ ______ and try a different approach.’
- ‘The opposition accused the prime minister of being “ ______ ______ ______ ______ ” in his speech, saying he failed to mention at least three important facts.’