Britlish

Back Idioms

Body Idioms Course Idioms | Vocabulary | English in Use

Idioms

I am determined to make idioms as accessible for all students as any other part of the English language. Reading and memorising lists of vocabulary is not the most productive, interesting, or useful exercise in English language learning. I created these Activities to encourage you to not only learn and remember many English idioms, but also to have fun with them, as having fun is a great aid to learning and remembering. It is important that you know as many idioms as possible as native English speakers use them with alarming regularity. I hope that as you work your way through the Idiom Activities you will make some of the idioms your own and use them regularly like a native.

Vocabulary

Did you know that there are over 600,000 words in English? That's a lot of words, and far more than any human being could ever manage to learn. Even Shakespeare only used around 55,000 different words in all of his works. Mind you, he did actually invent quite a few of them. To get a good mastery of English, you do need to expand your vocabulary as much as possible. The more words you know, the better your English will be. The Activities here will help you to quickly develop your vocabulary.

English in Use

The Activities categorised as English in Use look at the way we use English in everyday life. The Activities cover the actual use of English and examine grammar, punctuation, and functionality of the language. For any student studying English as a second language or English as a foreign language, English in Use Activities are particularly useful for improving speaking, writing, reading, and listening skills. These Activities will help you to develop your confidence in using different types of text such as fiction, newspapers and magazines, as well as learning to speak and write about things such as the weather and travel, as well as preparing you for typical situations such as ordering in a restaurant or buying a train ticket.

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This lesson will help to you learn, remember, and use 20 common British English idiomatic expressions. The idioms are, behind your back, break the back of something, watch your back, back to back, fell off the back of a lorry, scratch back, like water off a duck's back, turn your back on, get someone's back up, watch someone's back, put your back into something, back out of, on someone's back, a pat on the back, give the shirt off your back, back against the wall, stabbed in the back, back someone up, have or take the shirt off your back, when your back is turned, and bend over backwards.

Body Idioms Course

BACK IDIOMS

BEHIND YOUR BACK

When someone criticises you, or tries to cause trouble for you, without your being aware of it, they are doing it behind your back.

“She has been saying awful things about you behind your back.”

BREAK THE BACK OF SOMETHING

When you have finished the most difficult or longest part of a job, we say that we have broken the back of it.

“After writing 450 idiom definitions and examples, I knew I’d broken the back of writing this book.”

WATCH YOUR BACK

To watch your back is to be very cautious of what is happening around you, especially when others are out to cause problems for you.

“You made him look stupid in the meeting, so I’d watch my back if I were you.”

BACK TO BACK

Things which happen one after the other, or consecutively, occur back to back.

“There is nothing worse for a teacher than having six classes back to back in the afternoon.”

FELL OFF THE BACK OF A LORRY

Something which has fallen off the back of a lorry has been obtained through dubious means, often illegally.

“At such a low price, it was obvious the phones had fallen off the back of a lorry.”

SCRATCH BACK

If you do a favour for someone in return for them doing a favour for you, we say you’ll scratch their back.

“I’ll drive you there, and you pay the petrol. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”

LIKE WATER OFF A DUCK’S BACK

Like water off a duck’s back means happening without any apparent effect.

“They can slag me off all they like, but their scorn is like water off a duck´s back to me.”

TURN YOUR BACK ON

To turn your back on someone or something is to walk away and stop being involved or stop trying to help.

“You can’t just turn your back on your responsibilities.”

GET SOMEONE’S BACK UP

To get someone’s back up is to infuriate them.

“She’s really getting my back up this morning with her constant orders.”

WATCH SOMEONE’S BACK

To watch someone’s back is to willingly defend someone else when they are in jeopardy.

“Whatever happens, it’s nice to know that you’re watching my back. 

PUT YOUR BACK INTO SOMETHING

To put your back into something is to make a great deal of physical or mental effort to achieve something.

“I really had to put my back into getting this book finished.”

BACK OUT OF

If you refuse to continue with an agreement, negotiation, or an argument, you are backing out of it.

“I don’t trust him to go through with the sale. I’m sure he’s going to back out of it.”

ON SOMEONE’S BACK

When you are on someone’s back you are constantly criticising them in an annoying and oppressing way.

“The boss has been on my back all week about the new prototype, but I keep telling her I need more time.”

A PAT ON THE BACK

When you have done something well and someone else praises you for your efforts, you receive a pat on the back.

“You all deserve a pat on the back for making this dream come true.”

GIVE THE SHIRT OFF YOUR BACK

If you are willing to give the shirt off your back, you are willing to sacrifice anything and everything that is required to help someone.

“Louis would give the shirt off his back to help his father with his business.”

BACK AGAINST THE WALL

When you are in a difficult or dangerous situation and have very few choices of how to act, we say you have your back against the wall.

“Before they were able to get new investors onboard, the company had its back to the wall.”

STABBED IN THE BACK

When we are stabbed in the back by someone, we have been betrayed by a person we trusted.

“I’ve treated him like my son for the last 20 years and now he stabs me in the back to try and take over the company.”

BACK SOMEONE UP

To back someone up is to support them by confirming that what they are saying is the truth.

“I was nowhere near the building when the fire started, and I’m sure the CCTV footage will back me up.”

HAVE/TAKE THE SHIRT OFF YOUR BACK

To take the shirt off someone’s back is to take the last things of value that they own.

“That debt collection agency will take the shirt off your back if you let them.”

WHEN YOUR BACK IS TURNED

When someone does something when they are no longer being watched by you, they do it when your back is turned.

“As soon as my father’s back was turned, my mother would give me sweets.”

BEND OVER BACKWARDS

When you go out of your way to get something done, often with a view to helping someone else, you bend over backwards.

“I always bend over backwards to ensure my students quickly improve their English.”

Body Idioms

I originally thought that I would find 100 to 200 idioms related to the body, but as I continued gathering the idioms for each part of the body, I realised there were going to be considerably more. With an ever-growing list of idioms before me, I despaired of ever being able to complete the definitions and examples that would be required for each one. However, with a bit of elbow grease, I put my back into it, and managed to complete all 522 of them. In this course, you will find many of the idiomatic expressions related to the body.

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Blood Idioms and Expressions

Blood is the vital fluid found in humans and other animals. There are many expressions in English that use the word blood. The expressions in this lesson include get blood out of a stone, blood is thicker than water, bloodshed, cold-blooded, in cold blood, hot-blooded, blood up, blood boils, blueblood, fresh blood, new blood, half-blood, run in the blood, own flesh and blood, young blood, blood clot, blood bank, blood brother, bloodlust, bloodthirsty, blood sport, blood wagon, bloodhound, bloodletting, bloodshot, bloody, blood diamond, and bloodstained.

Categories: Idioms | Vocabulary | Listenings


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Bone Idioms

The 12 idioms are, make no bones about it, a bone of contention, have a bone to pick with someone, dry as a bone, chilled to the bone, feel it in your bones, bone idle, close to the bone, have a skeleton in the closet, skin and bones, work your fingers to the bone, and bone shaking. This British English idioms lesson will help to you learn, remember, and use 12 common British English idiomatic expressions which use the word bone. 

Categories: Idioms | Vocabulary | English in Use


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