Idioms and Phrases

English Teacher Website

Idioms are used by native speakers of a language in a natural manner.

Idioms are wise sayings, and they are unique to a particular culture or society. It is used to offer advice on matters related to how to live. It is also a way to understand the underlying ideas, principles and values of a particular culture or society. The combinations of words in idioms are seldom complete sentences, and they have "figurative meanings" in other words, they are often understoodwith "pictures".

For example, an English speaker would understand the phrase "kick the bucket" to mean the mere action of kicking a bucket and also the figurative meaning "to die".The idiomsare easily understood when it is used in context.

Below are notes on idioms related to clothes.

  1. Dressed to kill- have on/ wear on your best clothes.
  2. In one's shoes- to be in the situation of another person
  3. to lose one's shirt- to lose everything that one has, to become poor.
  4. To roll up one's sleeves- prepare to do hard work.
  5. To tighten one's belt- to spend less money, be careful with money.
  6. On a shoestring- on a budget, hasvery little money.
  7. Birthday suit- naked, not wearing clothes.


Exercise 1

Fill in the blanks with suitable idioms.

  1. Mary who had been working for twenty years lost her job. I'm glad I'm not …..…………….
  2. Lucy is going to her best friend’s birthday party. She is……………in her red and black suit.
  3. John’s principal took us by surprise when he decided to ……..and join the teachers and students in preparing the big dinner.
  4. The mentally retarded man stood outside his house with only his ………………….on! Everyone in the neighbourhood was shocked.
  5. Having retired, Terry’s fathermade a lot of investment in the stock market. When the stock market went down, he ……………….
  6. We are planning a tour …………………. with only a limited cash. We have booked hotels that are reasonable.
  7. When my father fell ill, my family had no source of income, so my mother taught us how …………………….


English Teacher Website

About Girija Nair And Meena Mohan Das

Ms. Girija Nair is an experienced teacher of English Language in primary and secondary level since 1980. She secured her teaching certificate from Raja Melewar Teacher’s Training College, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia (1980). She also has a  Diploma in ESL from University of Malaya, Malaysia (1987), a degree in TESL from University Pertanian Malaysia (1996) and a Masters degree in Speech and Language Pathology from University of Malaya, Malaysia (2002). Apart from everyday teaching, She also works as a  Teacher-trainer in various academic programmes organised at the Ministry, State and District levels.She is also well-known as an Examiner in oral and written forms. Sheis also actively involved in various co-academic programmes involving teachers and students. In recognition of her contributions, she has been awarded the Excellent Service Award in 2005 and 2008 by the department of Education in Malaysia.She has been appointed as a Master Teacher in 2010 and is currently teaching in Palong Timur Secondary School. She is also involved in preparing modules and exam questions at the state and district levels.

Mrs. Meena Mohan Das is an elementary school teacher in Malaysia since July1988. She was born in Kluang, a district in the state of Johor. She obtained her certificate in Teacher Training from Mohd Khalid Teacher’s Training College in Johor Bahru, Johor. Her first posting was in Kupang Primary School in Kedah where she taught for six months. Thereafter, she moved to LKTP Felda Kemelah Primary school from 1989 to 1990 and subsequently to Sri Skudai Primary School in December 1990 till present. She has been the Head of the English Language Panel since 1995 in the present school. She has also been a recipient for a Merit Award in 2006 for excellent performance in school.  She obtained her Bachelor of Education in TESL in University Putra Malaysia in 2002. In 2014 she graduated from University Teknologi Malaysia with Masters in Teaching of English as a Second Language.  The research topics done are “Use Of Mind-Mapping and Flashcards in Vocabulary Development among Year 5 Students” and “Process Writing to Enhance Writing Abilities among Year 5 Students”. She has co-authored a journal with Dr Shanthi Sandaran on “The Importance of Vocabulary Development for English Language Teaching and Learning: The Malaysian ESL Context”. 

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