A phrase is a group of words that form a unit in a sentence, and that does not contain a subject and verb. Phrases can function as nouns, verbs, adjectives, or adverbs in a sentence and can help add extra information or detail to the ruling.
Popular Phrases and Sayings
- “Break a leg.”
This phrase is commonly used in the entertainment industry to wish someone good luck before a performance. It is believed to have originated in the theater world, where it was considered unlucky to wish someone “good luck” directly. Instead, performers would want each other to “break a leg” to convey their good wishes indirectly.
- “The whole nine yards”
This phrase is used to describe something complete or thorough. It is often used to convey an effort made to the fullest extent possible. The origin of the words is somewhat disputed, with different theories suggesting it may refer to the length of a football field, the amount of fabric used in a wedding dress, or the capacity of a concrete truck.
- “Bite the bullet.”
This phrase describes someone who must confront a difficult or unpleasant situation head-on. It is believed to have originated in the military, where soldiers sometimes had to bite the bullet during surgery to help them endure the pain.
- “Barking up the wrong tree.”
This phrase describes someone pursuing a course of action that is unlikely to succeed or is based on a misunderstanding. It is often used to describe someone who is attempting to solve a problem in the wrong way.
- “Cost an arm and a leg.”
This phrase is used to describe something very expensive. It is often used to describe the high cost of something that is considered unnecessary or lavish.
6.” Cry wolf”
This phrase describes someone who frequently raises false alarms or makes false claims. It is often used to caution against making false accusations or exaggerating the truth. The phrase is derived from a fable in which a boy falsely cries “wolf” to get attention, only to be ignored when a real wolf appears.
7.“Cut to the chase”
This phrase encourages someone to get to the point or the main point of a discussion. It is often used in a situation where time is limited, or there is a need to be efficient.
- “Easy as pie”
This phrase is used to describe something very easy to do. It is often used to encourage someone to try something new or to reassure them that a task is not difficult.
- “Get cold feet”
This phrase describes someone who becomes anxious or hesitant just before committing to something, such as a marriage or a major decision. It is often used to describe someone who experiences a sudden change of heart or becomes uncertain about something they had previously been committed to.
- “In a nutshell”
This phrase describes something that can be summarized or explained briefly. It is often used to provide a concise summary of a lengthy discussion or to provide a quick overview of a complex topic.
- “Kill two birds with one stone”
This phrase is used to describe a situation in which two tasks are accomplished at the same time. It is often used to describe an efficient or practical solution to a problem.
- “Let the cat out of the bag”
This phrase is used to describe the revelation of a secret or the disclosure of something that was previously hidden or unknown. It is often used to describe the unintended consequences of revealing sensitive information.
- “Barking Up the Wrong Tree”
Meaning: To pursue a mistaken or misguided course of action
This phrase is believed to have originated in the early 19th century in the United States. It is thought to refer to the practice of hunting for raccoons by following their tracks and barking at the base of a tree, believing that the animal was hiding in the branches. If the hunter was mistaken and the raccoon was not in the tree, they were said to be “barking up the wrong tree.”
- “Bite Off More Than You Can Chew”
Meaning: To take on more tasks or responsibilities than one can realistically handle.
This phrase is believed to have originated in the early 20th century and is thought to refer to the idea of taking on more than one can realistically handle, much like a person might bite off more food than they can comfortably chew.
- “Burn the Midnight Oil”
Meaning: To work late into the night
This phrase is believed to have originated in the 18th century and is thought to refer to the practice of burning oil lamps late into the night to work or study.
- “Butter Someone Up”
Meaning: To flatter or praise someone excessively in an attempt to win their favor
This phrase is believed to have originated in the early 20th century and is thought to refer to the idea of spreading butter on bread to make it more appealing. By analogy, “buttering someone up” makes oneself more appealing to others through flattery and praise.
- “Cat Got Your Tongue?”
Meaning: A question asked when someone is unexpectedly silent or slow to speak
This phrase is thought to have originated in the 19th century, and it is believed to refer to the idea of a cat “stealing” or “holding onto” someone’s tongue as a way of preventing them from speaking.
- “The Cat’s Meow”
Meaning: Something that is especially stylish or fashionable
This phrase is believed to have originated in the early 20th century and is thought to refer to the idea of a cat’s meow is a sign of attractiveness or desirability. By analogy, something that is “the cat’s meow” is especially stylish or fashionable.
- “The Elephant in the Room”
Meaning: A significant issue or problem that is not being openly discussed or acknowledged
This phrase is thought to have originated in the late 20th century, and it is believed to refer to the idea of an elephant being a large and noticeable presence that is difficult to ignore.