act like an ape MEANING: behave badly, wildly, foolishly EXAMPLE: He has been acting like an ape ever since his girlfriend left him. bark up the wrong tree MEANING: choose the wrong course of action EXAMPLE: He is barking up the wrong tree. He accuses me of causing the computer problem but I was away at the time. Her bark is worse than her bite MEANING: someone’s words are worse than their action EXAMPLE: You shouldn’t worry about her. Her bark is worse than her bite and she is really a very nice person. bet on the wrong horse MEANING: misread the future EXAMPLE: He is betting on the wrong horse if he keeps supporting the other city in their bid for the games. bull in a china shop MEANING: a person with no tact who upsets others or upsets plans EXAMPLE: He is like a bull in a china shop so you should be careful if you invite him to your house for the weekend. cash cow MEANING: a good way to make money EXAMPLE: The new business is a great cash cow. We are making a lot of money now. cat get one’s tongue MEANING: can’t speak because of shyness EXAMPLE: The cat must have got her tongue. She did not saying anything at all. cat nap MEANING: a short sleep taken during the day EXAMPLE: I had a cat nap during the afternoon so I would feel refreshed in the evening. change horses in midstream MEANING: make new plans or choose a new leader in the middle of an important activity EXAMPLE: They have decided to change lawyers but I told them that they shouldn’t change horses in midstream. copycat MEANING: someone who copies another person’s work etc. EXAMPLE: He is a copycat according to the other students in the class. cry wolf MEANING: give a false alarm; warn of a danger that is not there. EXAMPLE: He is crying wolf. There is no real danger or worry about the electrical system causing a fire. curiosity killed the cat MEANING: being too nosy may lead a person into trouble EXAMPLE: You shouldn’t worry about what he is doing. Remember curiosity killed the cat. dark horse MEANING: a candidate little known to the general public EXAMPLE: He was a dark horse in the race to be President until he gave some good speeches on TV. dog-eat-dog MEANING: ready or willing to fight and hurt others to get what one wants EXAMPLE: It is a dog-eat-dog world outside the father said to his young son. donkey's years MEANING: a very long time EXAMPLE: I talked to my friend for a long time because I hadn't seen her in donkey's years. dumb bunny MEANING: stupid or gullible person EXAMPLE: He really is a dumb bunny. I can’t believe that he can do such stupid things. eager beaver MEANING: a person who is always eager to work or do something extra EXAMPLE: She is a real eager beaver and I am sure she will do very well in this company. eat like a horse MEANING: eat a lot EXAMPLE: Her brother who is 18 years old eats like a horse. every dog has his day MEANING: everyone will have his chance or turn; everyone will get what he deserves EXAMPLE: Don’t worry about him. Every dog has his day and he will eventually suffer for all the bad things that he is doing. fraidy-cat MEANING: someone who is easily frightened (used by children) EXAMPLE: The little boy called his friend a fraidy-cat because he wouldn’t climb the tree. get on one’s high horse MEANING: behave with arrogance EXAMPLE: She is always getting on her high horse and telling people what to do. get off one’s high horse MEANING: begin to be humble and agreeable EXAMPLE: I wish that she would get off her high horse and begin to think about how other people feel about things. go ape MEANING: become highly excited or angry EXAMPLE: He will go ape if he sees that you have not finished the work that was due today. go whole hog MEANING: do something completely or thoroughly EXAMPLE: They went whole hog in their effort to make sure that the convention was a success. hit the bulls-eye MEANING: reach the main point EXAMPLE: I think that he really hit the bulls-eye when he talked about the problems with the regular staff. hold one’s horses MEANING: wait, be patient EXAMPLE: Hold your horses for a moment while I make a phone call. holy cow MEANING: used to express strong feelings like astonishment, pleasure or anger EXAMPLE: Holy cow he said as he saw the car that had hit the street lamp. horse around MEANING: rough or noisy play EXAMPLE: The teacher told the children to stop horsing around and get ready for class. horse of a different colour MEANING: something totally separate and different EXAMPLE: Moving to a new location is a horse of a different colour. It was never mentioned in any of our meetings. horse trade MEANING: hard and skilful bargaining EXAMPLE: We had to do a little horse trading but finally we reached a deal to buy the new house. in the doghouse MEANING: in disgrace or disfavour EXAMPLE: He is in the doghouse with his wife because he went out drinking three times last week. kangaroo court MEANING: a self-appointed group that decides what to do to someone who is supposed to have done wrong. EXAMPLE: It was decided in a kangaroo court that he would have to pay for the damage that he had caused to the school building. lead a dog’s life MEANING: work hard and be treated unkindly EXAMPLE: He is leading a dog’s life since he married the woman who everyone told him not to. let sleeping dogs lie MEANING: don’t make trouble if you don’t have to EXAMPLE: You should let sleeping dogs lie and not ask him any questions about the argument. let the cat out of the bag MEANING: tell something that is supposed to be a secret EXAMPLE: She let the cat out of the bag when she began talking about the plans for the new department. live high on the hog MEANING: have the best of everything EXAMPLE: He has been living high on the hog since he changed jobs and moved to Texas. lock the barn door after the horse is gone MEANING: be careful or try to make something certain after it is too late EXAMPLE: Now he wants to try and fix his house but it is like locking the barn door after the horse is gone. There was already a flood and the damage is done. look like the cat that swallowed the canary MEANING: look very self-satisfied, look as if one just had a great success EXAMPLE: You look like the cat that swallowed the canary. What happened? make a mountain out of a molehill MEANING: make something that is unimportant seem important EXAMPLE: You are making a mountain out of a molehill with your going on and on about his mistake. monkey business MEANING: unethical or bad activity, mischief EXAMPLE: He should stop that monkey business and try to do the job the correct way. piggyback MEANING: sitting or being carried on someone’s back and shoulders EXAMPLE: The boy was riding piggyback on his father’s shoulders. piggy bank MEANING: a small bank (sometimes in the shape of a pig) for saving money EXAMPLE: He has been putting money into his piggy bank to save for a bicycle. play cat and mouse with someone MEANING: tease or fool someone EXAMPLE: He is playing a cat and mouse game with his company about his plans to quit or not. put the cart before the horse MEANING: do things in the wrong order EXAMPLE: I think that buying a ticket before we make any plans is putting the cart before the horse. rain cats and dogs MEANING: rain very hard EXAMPLE: It has been raining cats and dogs all day. rat out on MEANING: desert or betray someone EXAMPLE: He ratted out on his friends and now they won’t talk to him. rat race MEANING: rushing around, confusing way of living that does not seem to have a purpose EXAMPLE: He is tired of living in the rat race every day and plans to quit his job soon and do something else. road hog MEANING: car driver who takes more than his share of the road EXAMPLE: The person in front of me on the highway was a road hog but I tried not to get angry. sacred cow MEANING: a person or thing that is never criticized or changed even if it should be EXAMPLE: The school lunch program is a sacred cow which they will never change. scaredy-cat MEANING: someone who is easily frightened (used by children) EXAMPLE: The children were calling their friend a scaredy-cat because she wouldn’t go into the empty house. smell a rat MEANING: be suspicious, feel that something is wrong EXAMPLE: I smell a rat. There is something wrong with his relationship to the bankers. straight from the horse’s mouth MEANING: directly from the person or place where something began EXAMPLE: I heard straight from the horse’s mouth that she will be leaving the company next week. straw that breaks the camel’s back MEANING: a small trouble which follows other troubles and makes one become angry or do something EXAMPLE: Her accusing me of not working hard enough was the straw that broke the camel’s back so I finally asked for a transfer to another section of the company. tail between one’s legs MEANING: feel beaten, ashamed (after a scolding etc.) EXAMPLE: He left the meeting with his tail between his legs after he was criticized by the president. take the bull by the horns MEANING: take decisive action and not worry about the results EXAMPLE: My aunt decided to take the bull by the horns and begin preparations for the family reunion. talk until the cows come home MEANING: talk for a long time EXAMPLE: We can talk until the cows come home this weekend at the lake. throw someone to the wolves MEANING: send someone into danger without protection EXAMPLE: He decided to throw his co-worker to the wolves when he asked him to go and see the other company. turn tail MEANING: run away from trouble or danger EXAMPLE: We decided to turn tail and leave the pub before there was a fight. wildcat strike MEANING: a strike spontaneously arranged by a group of workers EXAMPLE: There was a wildcat strike at the factory and over 100 people walked off the job. wolf in sheep’s clothing MEANING: a person who pretends to be good but really is bad EXAMPLE: Be careful of that man. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.