Common Idioms List, T-Z

This idioms list gives the meanings of common English idioms beginning with 'T'. and their definitions. For the other idioms, see List of Idioms A-F, List of Idiom Definitions G-L, and Idiom Meanings List M-S.

Idioms List: Take

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  • To take advantage of is to use a person or situation for one’s own benefit, often without his or her knowledge or approval.
  • To take after is to resemble a parent or other relative in character or behavior. (“Johnny takes after his grandpa: just as stubborn and hard-nosed!”)
  • To take apart is to separate or disassemble something. (“Joe took the clock apart, but he couldn’t put the pieces together again.”)
  • To take away can mean to subtract one number from another, or to remove something form a place, or take something from a person. A "take away" is something you have learned or gained from an experience.
  • To take back is to return something, or sometimes to withdraw or change a comment. (“I take back what I said about your driving. You handled that traffic today really well, without letting it get ‘under your skin.’”)
  • To take for granted is to not appreciate a privilege. (Sue takes her good health for granted. She thinks she’ll always have it, even if she doesn’t take care of herself.”)

  • To take in someone usually means to deceive him (or her), though it can mean to bring him into one's home and take care of (care for) him.
  • To take into account means to be sure to consider something: “Remember to take the new sales tax into account when you set the prices on these products.”
  • To take it easy means to relax.
  • To take off can mean to remove clothing (“He took off his jacket”) or it can refer to a plane leaving the ground (“Fasten your seatbelts to prepare for takeoff.”)
  • To take on a project is to make a commitment that you will do it.
  • To take out is to carry something outside: take food home from a restaurant or take the trash out to throw it away. It can also be used to take a person out, for example, to a restaurant or on a date.
  • To take over something is to take control of it. After World War 2 the Soviet Union took over much of eastern Europe. When a company takes over a business it becomes part of it.

Idioms List:Tell-Watch Out

  • To tell apart is to recognize the difference between similar things or people. (“I can’t tell those twins apart. Which one is Sue?”)
  • To think about is the most common way to speak about whatever is on our minds. ("Are you still thinking about the test you took yesterday?") In modern English we say 'think about'NOT 'think on' a subject.
  • To think of something is to bring it to mind-- to have a new idea or remember something you already knew. ("Oh! I just thought of a better way to do that/make those cookies/fix that problem"-- whatever the speaker and his listener had been working on.)
  • To think over is to consider an idea-- usually more carefully than just to think about it. (“That’s our offer. Think it over and call us Monday.”) 
  • To think up something is to come up with a new idea. It's similar to 'think of,' but less common except when planning some kind of joke, plot, or scheme
  • To throw away (or throw out) is to dispose of something worthless, usually by putting it into a trash container.
  • To try on clothing means to put it on before buying it to see if it fits.
  • To turn down means to reduce the setting on an electronic device for volume or temperature control. (“Turn down the TV!”) It can also mean to politely refuse an invitation. (“I’d love to go to the party with you, but I promised I would babysit, so I’ll have to turn you down this time.”)
  • To turn off is to move a switch or lever to stop the flow of water, electricity, or gas. (“Turn off the stove as soon as you finish cooking!” “Turn off unused lights to reduce your electricity bill.”) This can also be used metaphorically to describe something that disgusts a person. (“When he acts so superior, it really turns me off!”)
  • To turn on is to move a switch or lever to start the flow of water, electricity, or gas. (It can also be used metaphorically to describe something or someone that causes sexual excitement: “You really turn me on!” This is a slang expression and could be offensive.)
  • To turn out (often) means the way a story finishes. (“So what happened to Julie? Did the romance turn out OK in the end?”)
  • To turn up can mean to increase the volume or temperature setting (see turn down.) It can also mean to appear unexpectedly. (“Joe turns up at any party where there is free food!” See ‘show up’-- they can be used the same way.)
  • To use up means to finish or exhaust the supply of something. (“I can’t make a cake. Mary used up all the eggs!” See ‘run out of.’)
  • To wake up means to return from sleep to full consciousness.
  • To watch out is to be careful (to look out.) (“Watch out for that car behind you!”)


To see sample conversations using these and other idioms, and to practice with them, go to Idiom Examples and Idioms Worksheet. 

To practice matching some of these idioms with their meanings, go to Concentration Games for Idioms. English Club has a good reference list of phrasal verb idioms

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