Idiom: big fish in a small pond

Definition: to be important or famous, but in a small group (note: this is not a positive idiom — if you tell someone they are a big fish in a small pond, they will get angry at you!) Examples: I am a top manager at this company, but the company is really small....

Idiom: to take five

Definition: to take a short break, to rest for a short time Examples: We’ve been working really hard this morning. Let’s take five, and then meet again at 11:00. It’s been a rough day. You need to rest. Take five and go to Starbucks for some coffee....

Idiom: to make a mountain out of a molehill

Definition: to overestimate the importance of something; to take something small, and make it more important than it needs to be Examples: Yes, she made a mistake. But it’s really not that big. When you say we should fire her, I think you are making a mountain...

Idiom: to be hard-nosed

Definition: to be stubborn, to be tough, unwilling to compromise Examples: My boss refused to let me take vacation in July. He said absolutely not. I tried to persuade him, but he was really hard-nosed. This customer is a really tough negotiator. They are really...

Idiom: to cut a deal

Definition: to make a deal, to negotiate a settlement, to make a compromise Examples: We’ve been negotiating for months. It is time to end this. Let’s cut a deal and be finished. I don’t know why they chose our competitor. He must have cut an amazing...

Idiom: water under the bridge

Definition: something in the past; something that is over, finished, forgotten Examples: We had a big fight last year, but we are good friends again. I don’t even remember what the fight was about — it is water under the bridge. I made a huge mistake last...

Idiom: to be as clear as day

Definition: to be obvious, straight-forward Examples: I trained Murat on the new procedure. He thinks it is difficult, but I think it is extremely simple, as clear as day. The boss loves him, and every year they give him more responsibility, and more money. I think it...

Idiom: to drop someone a line

Definition: to contact someone, to call or email someone (an informal, casual phrase) Examples: We are old friends, but we haven’t talked in three years. I will drop her a line to say hello. When you are finished at the meeting, drop me a line, so we can discuss...

Idiom: to touch base

Definition: to meet briefly, especially to discuss progress Examples: Next week, I will be traveling in Europe. However, let’s touch base each day, so you can update me about the project. Your boss needs to hear from you. If you don’t already have a...

Idiom: to pull the plug

Definition: to stop something, to discontinue something (usually because it is not doing well) Examples: The project was not going well, so we decided to pull the plug. Tomorrow is the final day. If sales don’t increase immediately, we have to pull the plug. The...

Idiom: to leave someone hanging

Definition: to be uncertain, to be unsure Examples: My company announced future layoffs, but they didn’t tell us specifically who will be laid off. Will I keep my job, or will I lose my job? I don’t know, they left us hanging. This meeting is really...

Idiom: to have or get a piece of the action

Definition: to have or get at least partial ownership of a project or business; to get benefits from a project Examples: My cousin’s business is growing really fast. He is looking for partners, and asked me if I’d like to join him. Of course, I said yes,...

Idiom: cold call

Definition: a sales call with no introduction; an unannounced sales visit Examples: I want to start selling to XYZ Company. However, I don’t know anyone there. I tried to get an introduction, but none of my friends know anyone, either. I will just have to give...

Idiom: the devil is in the details

Definition: the details are very complicated; things look nice on the surface, but the details are bad Examples: The new building looks nice, but the landlord might be trying to trick us. Read the contract carefully. The devil is in the details. I thought the...

Idiom: to rack up (something)

Definition: to add up, to accumulate Examples: The shipping container is stuck in Customs. Every day it is delayed, the shipping company charges us money. We are really racking up a lot of demmurage charges. Don’t pay the invoices late. When an invoice is late,...

Idiom: light at the end of the tunnel

Definition: the end of bad times; good results coming from hard times Examples: It’s been really busy lately, and I am working 80 hours per week. But soon a slower time will come — I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. These production problems...

Idiom: to turn the corner

Definition: to change (usually in a good way) Examples: Sales have been down for three years, but now they are increasing. I think we finally turned the corner. This ERP implementation has taken so long to finish, much longer than we expected. But I think we finally...

Idiom: to stand on the sidelines

Definition: to not participate, to watch but not do Examples: Murat and Ahmet are having a big fight. I am going to stand on the sidelines, I am not going to get involved. The company is going through hard times. Get involved with the rescue, don’t just sit and...

Idiom: come hell or high water

Definition: regardless of difficulties or obstacles Examples: The market is in a big crisis, but we are determined to succeed. Come hell or high water, we will dominate the market. This project is really important. I have to finish it, no matter what happens. My boss...

Idiom: to move mountains

Definition: to do something difficult; to do something impossible Examples: My boss asked me to save the failed project, but it was already too late, the project was completely dead. I told him sorry, but I can’t move mountains. Changing a company culture is...