February 2020

Under your belt

Something achieved that has now become part of your experience.

“With twenty years of teaching experience under my belt, I am glad to say that I still find this job incredibly motivating and rewarding. 


Spill the beans

Reveal secret information.

“He shouldn’t have been let in on the secret just before going to the pub. All it took was a few beers for him to spill the beans. 


You can’t have it both ways

You can’t benefit from two things at the same time.

“Students have the time and freedom to travel but less money to do so. You can’t have it both ways.


Be a weight off your mind

To stop worrying about something

“Great to know you can take care of my dog while I am away. That’s a weight off my mind.


Be down with the kids

Try to be in tune with the younger generations by showing interest in what they like, think or do .

“Oh, so now, you are taking up skateboarding with your daughter. I hope trying to be down with the kids doesn’t cause any injuries.


Be all ears

If you tell someone that you are all ears, it means you are ready to pay attention to what the other person has to say, to listen intently.

“Tell me more. I’m all ears.”


Give someone the cold shoulder

To ignore someone and keep away from them

“No wonder everyone in the office is giving him the cold shoulder. So much gossip got him to this point.”


The ins and outs 

The small details and facts about something. Knowing the ins and outs of something gives you an insight into how it works.

“In my blogpost “The ins and out of collocations” published in May last year, I went through the various collocation word combinations.”


Short of

Not having enough of it.

 “Being short of money, they will have to make do with a staycation* this summer.”

* Stacation: a holiday within your own country.

Move with the times

To be modern and adapt to the changes that new times bring.

 “The professor received a letter jointly written by his students in which they asked him to move with the times and start using gender-neutral language in the classroom.” 


Give or take

Approximately, it could be a bit more or a bit less.

“During the intensive course, there will be pauses of half an hour, give or take a few minutes.”


Never a dull moment

There are exciting things happening all the time. Dull is a synonym for boring so it is another way to say something or someone is far from boring.

“With three kids and two pets at home, there is never a dull moment.”


Like-minded people

People with whom you have things in common, for example in terms of lifestyle or the way you spend your free time, Also, people with similar opinions or tastes.

“In my experience, small youth hostels are an ideal place to meet like-minded travellers and make friends.”


Sugar the pill

Imagine you have to deliver bad news. You could say it bluntly or you could try to make it more palatable, less harsh by sugaring the pill (also, sweetening the pill).

“Let’s sugar the pill and tell them it was a minor incident. They don’t need to know all the graphic details about the road ambush.”


Keep it to a minimum

Use/do/keep as little of something as possible

“In China, people are trying to keep social gatherings to a minimum due to the virus scare.”


Stock up on something

To buy a lot of it.

“Before the snowstorm, families in remote mountain villages stocked up on food and drink in view of a week of blocked roads.”


In full swing

Fully operational.

“It took them a few months to get things sorted but by now, the new dancing school is in full swing.”


Not mince words

If you don’t mince your words, you say what you think directly and not worried that you might offend someone.

“Being so frank and unable to mince his words creates some awkward situations but everybody knows where he stands.”


A closed book

Someone you don’t know much about because they are very private and don’t reveal any information about themselves. Also, someone you can’t figure out or understand.

“He’s such a closed book. We don’t know anything about his private life. All our conversations revolve around work.”


Pump money into

Invest a lot of money to make something work successfully.

“China is pumping billions of yuans into the economy to counteract the devastating effects of the Coronavirus outbreak.”