Connotative meaning is an associative or implied meaning attached to a word, a phrase, or a sentence. Therefore, the features below should be discussed under connotative meaning. They include idioms and idiomatic expressions.
An idiom is a fixed group of words or an expression with a special meaning that cannot be literally interpreted and understood.
It is also different from the meanings of the individual words. Thus, be all eyes is not connected with anything done to all eyes; it means to watch intently or be vigilant.
For the reason above, one will find the idiomatic expressions difficult to interpret if one is not familiar with them and their meanings. Let us learn more idiomatic expressions below.
More Idiomatic Expressions
There are idiomatic expressions in the English language but some of them with their meanings will be learnt here.
|1.||With a pinch of salt,||some doubt whether it is altogether true.|
|2.||Keep an open door||to be ready to welcome guests at any time|
|3.||Be/Keep abreast of something||to be always aware the of latest news or ideas|
|4.||A chapter of accidents||a series of unfortunate events|
|5.||(Have) an ace up one’s sleeve||keep a useful plan, piece of information, etc|
|(Have) an ace in the hole||secret and ready to be used when necessary|
|6.||Hold all theahave have||have all the advantages|
|7 .||Once in a blue moon||rarely/seldom/occasionally|
|8.||Smell a rat||be suspicious|
|9.||A chip off the old block||a son who is very like his father|
|10.||More haste, less speed||approach whatever you are doing carefully to avoid mistake|
|11.||Play to the gallery||attempt to win cheap popularity|
|12.||Living a cat-and-dog life||always quarrelling with each other|
|13.||Let sleeping dog lie||not looking for trouble/give peace a chance|
|14.||Act/Play fool||behave in a silly way to amuse others|
|15.||Action speakers louder than words||what someone actually does means more than what he says he will do|
|16.||Swing into action||act quickly|
|17.||Add fuel to the flames||to say something that makes people react more strongly|
|18.||Add insult to injury||make something worse|
|19.||A state of affairs||a situation or circumstance|
|20.||Keep one at arm’s length||avoid being familiar with somebody|
|21.||Be above board||open/without deception|
|22.||Stand one’s ground||maintain one’s position|
|23.||Develop cold feet||feel afraid or reluctant or unwilling to do something that is risky|
|24.||Feather his own nest||make himself rich|
|25.||Being led by the nose||being controlled completely|
|26.||A bone of contention||a cause of dispute|
|27.||Come to a head||reach a point where something has to be done or
|28.||Paid in one’s coin||Revenge|
|29.||Pull the wool over one’s eye||Deceive|
|30.||Talking with his tongue in his cheek||not sincere or saying something and meaning the opposite|
|31.||With malice aforethought||with deliberate intention to commit a crime to marry|
|32.||To the altar||to marry|
|33.||Be poles apart||be widely separated/having nothing in common|
|34.||The apple of one’s eye||a person loved more than others|
|35.||Argue the toss||disagree about a decision|
|36.||In apple-pie order||very neat arrangement|
|37.||Up in arms||protesting strongly|
|38.||Under the auspices of||with help or support of|
|39.||Have an axe to grind||have a private reason for something|
|40.||Have the ball at one’s feet||have a good chance of succeeding|
|41.||A baptism of fire||a difficult introduction to an experience|
|42.||Not to mince words||to speak plainly in condemnation of something|
|43.||Beat about the bush||approach the subject without coming directly to the point|
|44.||Kick the bucket||Die|
|45.||To cross the Rubicon||to be irreversibly or irrevocably committed|
|46.||Tarred with the same brush||had the same faults|
|47.||To take the bull by the horns||to tackle problems boldly|
|48.||Rain cats and dogs||rain heavily|
|49.||Let the cat out of the bags||reveal the secret|
|50.||Raise eyebrows or see red eyes||annoy or angry|
|51.||From the bottom of one’s heart||sincerely, seriously|
|52.||Have a thick skull||be stupid|
|53.||Bite off more than one can chew||attempt doing something too much|
|54.||A tip of the iceberg||very little|
|55.||A chip on one’s shoulder||feeling quarrelsome and being in a bad temper|
|56.||Throw a new light on the matter||provide a fresh information which makes the matter clear|
|57.||Kill two birds with one stone||get two outcomes with one action or do two things
at a time
|58.||Nipped in the bud||not successful or was aborted|
|59.||Make a clear breast of||tell the whole truth about|
|60.||Like a bat out of hell||very fast|
Uses of some of the Expressions
To Identify and know the meanings of idiomatic expressions are not enough, one also has to know how they are used correctly in sentences.
Using these expressions correctly will add to your scores under expression in your essays or letters. Remember that some of them can be used as a subject, a verb, an object or a complement and an adjunct. Let us learn some of them in the following sentences:
- I tried to make a clear breast of the matter to the boss but he didn’t listen.
- The General Manager makes them work like a bat out of hell.
- Please, don’t let the cat out of the bag.
- From the bottom of my heart, I love you.
- The man killed the thief with malice aforethought.
- The students are up in arms against bad practices of their management.
- Everybody disagreed on that state of affairs.
- There are more chapters of accident this year.
- The boss and his employees are often living a cat-and-dog life.
- Sade pulls the wool over my eyes often.
The expressions in the sentences above function as an adjunct, a verb, an object or a complement of the sentences. Now, we move on to the proverbs (wise sayings).