Directions (1-15): In each of the question given below a/an idiom/phrase is given in bold which is then followed by five options which then try to decipher its meaning. Choose the option which gives the correct meaning of the phrases.
Q1. Play it by ear
(a) to be deaf
(b) to act spontaneously
(c) to ignore or neglect
(d) to misinterpret
(e) to express loudly
Q2. Raining cats and dogs
(a) raining heavily
(b) raining lightly
(c) raining intermittently
(d) raining not at all
(e) raining randomly
Q3. Can’t do something to save my life
(a) unable to prevent
(b) unable to provide proper treatment
(c) able to do something completely
(d) unable to do something at all
(e) unable to abstain
Q4. Turn a blind eye
(a) to condemn someone
(b) to overlook
(c) to ignore something wrong
(d) to protest against something right
(e) to become blind after meeting an accident
Q5. Fat chance
(a) big chance
(b) great opportunity
(c) something likely to happen
(d) something unlikely to happen
(e) futile chance
Q6. Pot calling the kettle black
(a) to be complaining always
(b) to be in anger all the time
(c) to be a chauvinist
(d) to judge someone on the basis of their skin color
(e) to criticize someone for the same fault which one himself has
Q7. Head in the clouds
(a) to be under suspicion
(b) to be not well
(c) to be practical
(d) to be impractical
(e) to be alone
Q8. Mad as a hatter
Q9. Driving me up the wall
(a) to irritate or to annoy
(b) to drive angry
(c) to drive crazy
(d) to become indignant
(e) to confuse
Q10. Call it a day
(a) to start the work
(b) to announce something good
(c) to stop doing the work or to end it
(d) to announce something bad
(e) to mark a day as an important one
Q11. Knight in shining armor
(a) a coward man
(b) a chivalrous man
(c) a chivalrous story
(d) an enraged person
(e) a selfish person
Q12. Know the ropes
(a) to know the way
(b) to be a beginner
(c) to have a plan
(d) to be experienced
(e) to be gallant
Q13. Larger than life
(a) to be cruel
(b) to be haughty
(c) to be impressive and important
(d) to be disrespectful
(e) to be happy
Q14. Extend the olive branch
(a) to reduce efforts
(b) to show interest in gardening
(c) to declare ceasefire null
(d) to enrage the enemy
(e) to step to achieve peace
Q15. In stitches
(a) to laugh so hard
(b) in a good mood
(c) in a bad condition
(d) to improve the quality of something
(e) to reduce the cost
Sol. “Playing something by ear” means that rather than sticking to a defined plan, you will see how things go and decide on a course of action as you go along.
Example: “What time shall we go shopping?” “Let’s see how the weather looks and play it by ear.”
Sol. We Brits are known for our obsession with the weather, so we couldn’t omit a rain-related idiom from this list. It’s “raining cats and dogs” when it’s raining particularly heavily.
Example: “Listen to that rain!” “It’s raining cats and dogs!”
Sol. “Can’t do something to save your life” is a hyperbolic way of saying that you’re completely inept at something. It’s typically used in a self-deprecating manner or to indicate reluctance to carry out a task requested of one.
Example: “Don’t pick me – I can’t do to save my life.”
Sol. To “turn a blind eye” to something means to pretend not to have noticed it.
Example: “She took one of the cookies, but I turned a blind eye.”
Sol. We use the expression “fat chance” to refer to something that is incredibly unlikely. Bizarrely, and contrary to what one might expect, the related expression “slim chance” means the same thing.
Example: “We might win the Lottery.” “Fat chance.”
Sol. We use this expression to refer to someone who criticizes someone else, for something they themselves are guilty of.
Example: “You’re greedy.” “Pot calling the kettle black?”
Sol. Used to describe someone who is not being realistic, the expression “head in the clouds” suggests that the person isn’t grounded in reality and is prone to flights of fancy. The opposite expression would be something like “down to earth”, meaning someone who is practical and realistic.
Example: “He’s not right for this role, he has his head in the clouds.”
Sol. “Mad as a hatter” refers to someone who is completely crazy. A similar expression is “mad as a March hare”.
Example: “You could ask him, but he’s mad as a hatter.”
Sol. This expression is used when something (or someone) is causing extreme exasperation and annoyance. A similar expression meaning the same thing is “driving me round the bend”.
Example: “That constant drilling noise is driving me up the wall.”
Sol. This means to stop doing something for the day, for example work, either temporarily or to give it up completely.
Example: “I can’t concentrate – let’s call it a day.”
Sol. “A knight in shining armor” is a heroic, idealized male who typically comes to the rescue of a female.
Example: “He saved me from humiliation – he’s my knight in shining armor.”
Sol. Someone who “knows the ropes” is experienced at what they are doing. “Showing someone the ropes” means to explain to them how something is done.
Example: “Ask John, he knows the ropes around here.”
Sol. The phrase “larger than life” refers to a flamboyant, gregarious person whose mannerisms or appearance is considered more outlandish than those of other people.
Example: “His colorful waistcoats and unusual taste for hats made him a larger-than-life character in the local community.”
Sol. “To extend the olive branch” is to take steps towards achieving peace with an enemy (or simply someone with whom you have fallen out).
Example: “I thought it was about time I went over there and extended the olive branch.”
Sol. If you’re “in stitches”, you’re laughing so hard that your sides hurt.
Example: “He was so funny – he had me in stitches all evening.”