Printer-friendly version

EnglishLab.Net Glossary of Idioms, Proverbs, Sayings and Quotations
please help translate this into other languages email
FAQs > Who is the author?

If you wish to sign up for an online English course in the EnglishLab.Net Virtual Classroom, click here for the pricelist (Online English lessons) and here for a list of available courses

Currently sorted By last update descending Sort chronologically: By last update change to ascending | By creation date

Page:  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  (Next)

This is a relatively polite way of saying that you do not want to do what you are offered, invited or asked to do.

How about going to the cinema?
I don't want to. (this is quite rude) VS I'd prefer not to. (this is more polite)

I'd rather not.
You ask this question when you think that what you are doing is so unsuccessful or everybody is so tired that there is no point in continuing.

Let's call it a day then. (=Let's stop now and continue some other time)
Do you think we should stop now?
Is that enough for today?
When you are asked this question, the speaker wants to know the name of the constellation associated with your date of birth. You are supposed to name one of the following:

Aries Aries March 21-April 19
Taurus Taurus April 20-May 20
Gemini Gemini May 21-June 21
Cancer Cancer June 22-July 22
Leo Leo July 23-August 22
Virgo Virgo August 23-September 22
Libra Libra September 23-October 22
Scorpio Scorpio October 23 - November 21
Sagittarius Sagittarius November 22-December 21
Capricorn Capricorn December 22-January 19
Aquarius Aquarius January 20-February 18
Pisces Pisces February 19-March 20

It is a good idea to learn the names of a dozen nice character traits and attribute them to your conversation partner's star sign. You do not have to believe in what you say, but it helps maintain a friendly atmosphere and gives you an opportunity to make some small talk when you can't think of a topic to discuss.
You say "by the same token" to introduce a statement that you think is true for the same reasons that were given for a previous statement.

  • likewise
  • similarly
  • in the same way
  • for the same reason(s)
If you know a person or situation very well, you can easily lose respect for that person or become careless in that situation.
Don't assume that a small thing is a major catastrophe. Check your facts before you alarm everyone else.

This saying is taken from the fable Chicken Licken and is often used to keep people from panicking when their fears are unfounded.
The term glass ceiling is all about the attitudes and traditions in society and business practices that prevent women from climbing up the career ladder. If a woman hits or bumps her head on the glass ceiling, it means that her career prospects are bleak no matter what she does provided she keeps doing the same job working in the same line of business in the same city or country. It is occasionally possible to break through the glass ceiling by changing careers, retraining, relocating, emigrating and the like only.
The term is said to have been coined in 1984 by Gay Bryant, who published in article in Adweek .

As we age, it's harder to learn new things. It is impossible to change someone's ways or habits, especially if he is old and resists change.The expression is an excuse for those of a certain age who have tried a little and failed, and who can't be bothered to try at all, and is often used when people have just given up or are about to do so.

  • Nobody said it was easy to teach an old dog new tricks, ... (you may use this variation to encourage someone to continue their efforts)
  • Who says you can't teach an old salad* new tricks? (=Who says it's impossible to change or improve it?)
  • You can't teach an old hound* new tricks.
* People occasionally substitute the word with an asterisk with a different one, not necessarily a synonym of "dog", for example, "guard", "politician", "man" etc.

XVIth Century
It's hard to make an olde dogge stoop.
XVIIth Century
It's hard to teach an old dog tricks.
XIXth Century
An old dog will learn no tricks.

People say so when they believe that the suggested arrangement is risky, because there is barely enough time allocated to do what is intended.


- If we catch the 5.15pm bus, we'll arrive at the conference centre 10 minutes before the plenary.
- That's cutting it a bit fine. What if the bus is late?
When someone asks you to pull a few strings for them or offers to pull a few strings for you it means that they either want you to talk to some of your friends in power or believe they could talk to some influential friends of theirs to get what either they or you want respectively.


If you are interested in that job at ABC Ltd, I know the Managing Director. Perhaps I could pull a few strings (for you) and get you an interview.

I might be able to pull a few strings for you. I'll let you know next week.

Page:  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  (Next)