Idioms – Letter O

–  Idioms – Letter O  –


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  • (to) Catch Up On (Something) – This is an Idiomatic Prepositional Phrasal Verb which is used to describe when one has not stayed “current” with something (information, sleep, watching one’s favorite TV show, etc.) and then needs to become current again (catch up on) with that information or activity…  “I was on vacation, and didn’t check my email for almost two weeks.  It’s going to take me at least a week to catch up on all the messages in my in-box.”

  • (to [not] be) Cut Out For (something) – This is an Idiomatic & Prepositional Adjectival Phrase which means:  To [not] be “right” for something (activity), or that one does[n’t] “fit” in a certain position (career).  This phrase probably comes from the time when, if a man wanted a suit, he had to go to the tailor to have one made especially for him.  The tailor would take the measurements and each piece was “cut out” especially for him, so that it would fit perfectly…  So if someone else tried to wear it, most likely it wouldn’t fit.  This phrase, however, reverses that to say that a person is not “cut out for” (does not have the right qualities or skills) to do a certain job or activity.  –  (Note Also:  This phrase is almost always used in the negative)

  • (to be) Dead On (one’s) Feet – This is an Idiomatic and Prepositional Adjectival Phrase which is used to describe a person who is – though physically awake – completely or at greatly un-responsive, use-less, or appearing to be in some sort of trance.  This is usually because of extreme exhaustion, sick-ness, the effects of drugs or alcohol the night before, or just from being a freakin’ idiot…

“Well, he’s physically here, he seems to be awake, but he certainly isn’t showing an signs of life.  I don’t know if he’s sick, hung-over or in some sort of voodoo trance, but Stan is completely dead on his feet today!  If he doesn’t show any improvement after lunch, I’m sending him home.  Having a person like that at the controls of a nuclear power plant, probably isn’t a very good idea.”


  • “Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew” – This Idiomatic Aphorism can also be classified as an Interjection, a Proverb, and a Saying – and can be turned into a Phrasal Verb which implies that…  There is only a certain amount that one person can “chew”, and if one tries to “bite off” more than he or she can “chew”, he or she will end up in a difficult situation and/or will end up wasting (whatever it is he or she is chewing)Idiomatically, it is used to give the advice that:

“One should not accept or take on more than he or she has the capacity and ability to handle at any given moment in time, or in any specific situation”…

If this advice is not heeded, the outcome may not be terrible, but it certainly will not be optimal.  –   Read the Full Post Here


  • (to) Get Rid Of (something) – This is an Idiomatic and Prepositional Phrasal-Verb.  Though most Idiomatic phrasal verbs do not have a logical meaning, this one actually does.  To “Get” something, means to obtain it.  “Rid” is a very old verb which means: “to be free of something”.  So to “get rid of something” simply means to obtain the “freedom” from whatever “of” is referring to…  It is often used as a expression meaning:  To dispose of something; throw something away; or (when speaking of a person or some intangible thing – thoughts, feelings, etc.) it means:  To free one’s Self from that person or thing, so that it is longer a burden in one’s Life.

  • (to) Have The Makings Of (something) – This is an Idiomatic and Prepositional Adjectival Phrase which is used to describe a person who has the proper qualities and skills necessary to become something or to fulfill the duties of some position.  The word “makings” is an example of creatively turning a verb into a noun as a way of saying that the person has the necessary qualities, skills, attributes, etc. in order to “Make” a good (whatever)…

“He has the makings of someday becoming a great leader.  He is courageous, determined, idealistic yet rational, and frankly people just like him.  It also doesn’t hurt that his parents are very wealthy.”

Translation:  “He has everything necessary to become a leader without really having to work hard to achieve that status.”  –   Read Full Post Here


  • (to be) Like Oil and Water – This is an idiomatic adjectival phrase, which (similar to it’s British Cousin Like Chalk and Cheese) is used to describe two things which don’t go together – however, in it’s usage, it seems to be a bit more severe than “Like Chalk and Cheese”, which can also be for something which is simply a strange combination.  This phrase, however, is used primarily to describe things which REALLY do not go well together…

“Putting Claude and Matt in the same band together was a really bad idea.  Those two are like oil and water, and it’s pretty obvious when they get on stage that they despise each other.”


  • (to be) Off Like A Shot – This is an Idiomatic and Prepositional Adjectival Phrase which means:  To leave some place – and the “shot” is in comparison to a “gun-shot”.  So…  since the bullet of a gun moves VERY fast, this phrase just means that someone has left a place very very quickly…

“Once he saw his ex-girlfriend coming in through front door of the party, he quickly made his way through the kitchen, found the back-door, and he was off like a shot!  There was no way he was going to let that freakin’ psychopath ruin his evening.” (true story) 😀


  • (to be) Off The Beaten Path – This Idiomatic Prepositional-Phrase can be either an Adverbial Phrase (to talk about how someone is doing something) or an Adjectival Phrase to describe some thing or process as being a bit different, or out of the ordinary.  This phrase comes from the days when we had more “paths” (or “trails”) than roads.  If the “path” is walked by many people, it will be “beaten” down.  If not it is probably not commonly used.  Therefore – Idiomatically – it is used to say that the place where one “is”, or the way that someone is doing something is not the common way…

“When we travel, we don’t like to be around a lot of other tourists.  We like to get off the beaten path and explore.  This is also how we run our company.  We try to be fresh and innovative and not do things just because that is how everyone else does it.  You could say that we like to get off the beaten path, whenever we do anything.”


  • (to be) On Edge – This is an Idiomatic and Prepositional Phrasal Adjective which is used to describe when a person is dealing with a lot of anxiety and because of this, that person is moody, excitable, and easily upset.  It is possible that the phrase comes from an excited person being “on the edge of their seat” which is another similar phrase which can be both literal and idiomatic, and describes when a person is in a very similar situation..

“The new boss has got everyone on edge because she is not only giving us a lot of extra work, but she is constantly asking us how to do her job as well!”


  • (to be) On Schedule – This is an Idiomatic and Adjectival Prepositional-Phrase which means to be working according to the schedule and to not be in anyway “behind” or late.  This implies that any sort of project will be finished “on time” (as scheduled and expected) and will not be late…   –  (See Also:  “On Time”)

“It took a lot of people working very hard, but finally we are back *on schedule* and we expect to finish the project by the original projected date of completion.”


  • (to be) On The Ball – This is an Idiomatic and Prepositional Adjectival Phrase which is used to describe when a person is performing at a very high level of skill, efficiency and awareness – often better than expected or anticipated…

“Giuseppe is really on the ball today!  Not only did he manage to finish the project we gave him only three days ago – and do-so better than we had hoped for – but he also managed to find out what the problem was with the internal computer system, AND now he’s installing an application that will save the company over $3000 annually on the cost of IT services!”


  • (to be) On The Same Page – This Idiomatic Prepositional-Phrase is also an Adjectival Verb Phrase which is used to mean that two or more people “Comprehend Each Other” and/or “Agree” (but not necessarily both)

“I called the meeting today because I just want to make sure that we are all on the same page about what is to be expected with the new project.”


  • (to be) On The Same WaveLength With (someone) – Though this is an Idiomatic and Prepositional Adjectival Phrase which comes to us from the world of radio.  Radio signals travel at difference frequencies.  The word frequency is related to the signal’s “wave-length”.  If the radio receiver is not tuned to the correct frequency it will not be able to pick up the frequency of the station and thus, you will only hear static…  So to say that two people are on the same wave-length just means that they can comprehend each other and probably think and feel the same or similarly.  –  (See also:  “To Strike A Chord With & “To Resonate With)

  • (to be) On The Verge Of (something) – This is an Idiomatic and Prepositional Adjectival Phrase which means:  To be right on the edge of, and very close to something; it can be both literal of figurative…  To be right on the verge of the finish-line means:

“right at the very end of the race, and about to cross the finish-line”.

…To be right on the verge of finishing a project means that:

“the project is almost completed”.


  • (to be) One Step Ahead – This is an Idiomatic and Prepositional Adjectival Phrase which is often used in business or any areas involving strategy and competition – meaning:  To always be just a little bit ahead of the competitors or those who are working against the other…

“It was through theft, lying, manipulation, and murder, that Thomas Edison was able to stay one step ahead of those who were the real inventors – taking credit for other, greater men’s work. “


  • (to be) OpenMinded – This is an Idiomatic Phrasal Adjective that is used to describe a person (or group) who is “open” to (willing to consider and accept) new ideas, different things or concepts, even if those things or concepts are unfamiliar to him or her, or that it means he or she may have to change his or her mind or say that he or she is/was wrong about something.  In other words, a mature person who shows a certain depth of wisdom.

1. One was robbed; stolen from. This is a general slang term for being robbed but is usually pertaining to someone breaking in to some place to steal something secretly.

2. that one was cheated (usually by some sort of scam) or by a dishonest salesperson.

“Someone broke in to my house and ripped me off!!! I had $1000 hidden in my bedroom and now it’s gone!”

“I purchased a computer on E-Bay and was completely ripped off!!!  It said that it hadn’t been used and it clearly has.”


  • (to) Slack Off – This is an Idiomatic and Prepositional Phrasal-Verb which is used to mean:  To purposely be lazy, un-productive, and un-caring.  The word “slack”, refers to the loose part of a rope, twine, cable etc. that is attached at two ends to something but is not tight.  “Slack” is the opposite of “Tension”.  If someone is being productive there is a form of “tension” that is created by the act of working, so to slack off is to “do” (by not doing) the opposite of that.  –  (See Also:  (a) Slacker”)

  • (to be) Stand-OffIsh – This is an Idiomatic and Prepositional Adjectival Phrase.  Any time a word has the “-ish” suffix, it means that it (partially/kind of…) has the quality of whatever adjective or noun it is attached to.  So to say that someone is “Stand-Off-Ish”, is to describe that person as being:  shy, timid, or just not wanting to socialize, or be “close” to/with other people or a particular group (in all, or certain, situations)…

“As he normally did not find himself in social situations with such despicable people, he was quite stand-off-ish, not wanting to corrupt himself with their loathsome presence.”


  • (to be) Straight Off The Rack – This Prepositional Adjectival Phrase can be either Literal or Idiomatic and is used to say that the article of clothing looks so nice and new that it seems that it just came “off the rack” at the store and that it is the first time that it is being worn.  Idiomatically, it is used to describe anything which someone wants to describe as being “new”.

  • (to) Tell On (someone) – This is an Idiomatic and Prepositional Phrasal Verb which is chiefly used by children to describe when one tells a parent of person of “authority” about some wrong-doing of another.  Since other children (and even many adults/authority figures) don’t really like or respect people that do this, children have come up with a slang term for these people:  (a) Tattle-Tale” and the act of telling on someone is also called “Tattling”.

  • “When One Door Closes, Another Door Opens – This Idiomatic Aphorism is Prepositional and can also be classified as an Interjection, a Proverb, and a Saying, and implies that…  when one opportunity or situation (“door”) ends or is no longer available (“closes”) – then there is, almost always, another situation or opportunity (“door”) which is, or soon becomes, available (“opens”).  As an Interjection, this phrase is used in order to “cheer up” someone who is upset about the loss of some opportunity.

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