English Action Expressions

To throw it all away

To have a god given talent, but to not take advantage of it.

“Jon was the best athlete I’ve ever seen. The problem is he threw it all away. Instead of becoming a professional athlete he sat around and ate a lot.”

“To give the cold shoulder”

To purposely not pay attention to someone.

“Dan gave us the cold shoulder because we didn’t invite him to the party.”

“to chill out”

To relax and not do anything.

“This weekend I plan to just chill out. I have no plans.”

“to cut loose”

To relax and have a crazy good time.

“The party should be great tonight. Everyone will cut loose and dance.”

to gobble up

To eat something very quickly.

“I gobbled up my dinner because I was starving.”

to run for office

To actively pursue a political position like president or congressman.

“Do you think Jeb Bush will run for office like his father and brother?”

to get the word out

To inform people about a certain fact that you want everyone to know about.

“I’m having a garage sale on Saturday. Can you help me get the word out?”

to spill the beans

To let a secret become known.

“I was going to surprise her with the birthday party, but my dumb brother spilled the beans. He posted it on facebook so she found out.”

hit the books

To start studying with a purpose.

“We have a big exam next week. I need to really hit the books this weekend.”

to lollygag

To waste time doing nothing but talking or being silly.

“The boss told us to stop lollygagging around and to get back to work.”

To get a lift

To have someone drive you somewhere.

“Sam doesn’t have a car. Can you give him a lift to work tomorrow?”

To hit someone up

To ask a person for something like money or a favor.

“John hit me up for twenty bucks last night. That guy is always broke.”

To blow off something

To skip an event you were supposed to attend.

“Don’t blow off class today. You need to be there to learn.”

Let’s get it on!

To indicate to another person that you are ready for the activity you are about to participate in.

“You think you can beat me at basketball?! Let’s get it on!”

To kick to the curb.

To have someone leave your house for doing something that you didn’t like.

“My sister’s husband cheated on her so she kicked him to the curb.”

To hound somebody

To repetitively ask a person for something. To bother another person until you get what you want.

“My wife has been hounding me about mowing the yard. She wants it done today, but I just want to watch football!”

To carry on

To behave in a bad way.

“My kids have been carrying on all day in the den. They’ve been yelling and fighting non-stop. I need a vacation.”

To hang on

To wait or pause for a moment

“Hang on one second please. We need to think this over for a bit

To get the ball rolling

To get something started.

“I want to hire this new guy. Let’s get the ball rolling on getting him hired so he doesn’t go work somewhere else.”

To play it off as

To act as if something were true even though you know it is not.

“The truth was that I got fired from my job. To avoid embarrassment, I played it off that I quit.”

To put it all out there

To be completely honest about something.

“I put it all out there for my family to hear. They needed to know that I had a gambling problem.”

To let it slide

To let something occur that you should probably stop

“I should fire you for not coming in yesterday, but I will let it slide. Just don’t miss work another day!”

To spread the word

To let people know about something

“John is going to spread the word about the party. A lot of people should show up.”

To pour over something

To look over intensely to find something specific.

“My dad will have to pour over his credit card bill to find the bad charge.”

To mess around with

To look over something that is not working well with the hope of maybe fixing it.

“My computer is running very slowly. I think I’ll have Dan mess around with it. He is great with computers.”

To keep in line

To watch over to make sure someone’s behavior is acceptable.

“Little Dan needs a father to keep him in line. He lives with just his mother and she can’t control him.”

To read up on

To do research on a certain subject to be informed.

“I’ll have to read up on the new I pad. My son is sure to have a lot of questions

To weasel out of something

To not do a task you were supposed to do. To get out of doing something in a sneaky way.

“John doesn’t have to watch his kids tonight. He somehow weaseled out of it.”

To snap out of it

To change one’s mental state. To start thinking clearly.

“I’ve been depressed for two weeks now. My mom told me to snap out of it and be a man.”

To give it up for

To give your applause for someone or something.

“Please give it up for Ron Peters. He has worked very hard on this project and we are all thankful to him.”

To dish it out

To give another person a hard time. To be critical in a joking way to that person.

“Sam can dish it out, but he can’t take it. He gets offended when people make fun of him.”

To sock someone

To hit another person.

“She socked me when I told her the news. I guess she wasn’t happy

To smoke someone

To beat another person at an athletic event by a lot.

“Sandy smoked me on the tennis court. I didn’t know she was that good.”

To kiss up to

To be overly friendly to a peron in hopes of obtaining something in return.

“I hate having to kiss up to the boss. The problem is that it is the only way to get anything around here.”

To tear it up

To do an activity very intensely and well.

We really tore it up on the mountain yesterday. We skied the best we ever have.

To fill in

To give a person information that he or she may have missed.

When I got back to work they filled me in on what had happened with our boss

To strike out

To not acheive what you intended to do.

John asked Sara out on a date. She said no. I guess he struck out!

To work it out

To fix a problem or situation through talking and communication.

Jan and Michael worked it out a while ago. They no longer want to get divorced.

To hold off on

To wait on a certain action until something else happens.

I am going to hold off on buying that new car until I get a new job

To give the heads up

To give a warning to others about something that is going to happen.

They will give us the heads up about the class cancelations so we know what to sign up for in the fall.

To get it together

To recover after having some sort of problem.

I know that you are nervous about giving a speech, but you have to get it together. Those people want to hear you

To talk someone’s head off

To talk to another person a lot to the point where you annoy him.

If you get in a conversation Bob, make sure you have a lot of time. He will talk your head off!

To get off your chest

To say something you have been wanting to say for a long time.

I finally got it off my chest. I told Sara that she can’t keep coming over so late.

To ramble on

To talk and talk without stopping.

bq. I don’t like talking to John. He just rambles on about nothing!
To start from scratch

To start over again. To stop previous efforts and start again.

This is not working. We need to start over from scratch with new ideas

To rock

Word used to describe someone or something that is really good or “cool”.

My dad rocks! He let me have the keys to his car for the weekend.

To leave hanging

To leave a person waiting for you to act.

Don’t leave me hanging. Call me with the results!

To be all over it

To pursue an activity with vigor. To do everything you can to get the task done.

Don’t worry about James. He’s all over it. He always gets the work in on time.

To land a job

To get a job you have been trying to get.

I landed this job last May and I have been loving it ever since.

To come up on

To approach something.

When we came up on the crime scene I knew it was bad. There were cops everywhere.

To go for it

To leave all fear behind and put your best effort into achieving what you are looking for.

When I told my mom I was looking to get out of the family business she told me to go for it. She never wanted me to be miserable working in a filed I don’t like.

To get antsy

To have a nervous feeling. To be anxious to act.

“I got really antsy waiting in the driveway for my aunt to arrive.”

To run it by someone

To explain an idea to a person to see if that person is OK with it

“You will have to run this by with the boss. He has to approve it.”

To rip off

To steal from a person through trickery or deceit.

“The used car salesman tried to rip me off. He didn’t tell me that the car needed a new AC. I didn’t find out until I took it for a ride.”

On the fly

To do be done in a quick and hurried way. To complete a task while you are in a hurry.

“I’ll have to complete my home work assignment on the fly. I’ve got a million things to do today.”

To cut some slack

To give a person a break on an issue. To not be strict with a person.

“I wish my teachers would cut me some slack. I was sick for three days and I had to miss class. They are still making me turn in all of my work on time!”

To kill for

To really want something bad. It is an expression and doesn’t mean to actually kill anyone.

“I would kill for a big juicy hamburger. I haven’t eaten since this morning.”

To fit in

To get along with the group. To have a feeling of belonging to a group of people.

“My brother has a hard time fitting in with the people at work. They are all huge partiers and he likes to just be mellow and relax.”

To stand out

To attract attention for being exceptional or unusual.

“John really stands out for his ability to play the saxophone. Nobody in school plays that well.”

To hold out

To not do a desired act in hopes that waiting will bring better results.

“You need to hold out until she offers more money. She wants you for the job, but she will hire you for the least amount of money possible.”

To back off

To not do a certain activity with the same intensity that you were doing it.

“I will back off on smoking so much now that I had my third heart attack.

Cut it out

If you tell somebody to do this you man that you want that person to stop doing a certain activity.

“You need to cut it out. I don’t want you saying stuff like that anymore.”

To hang around

To spend leisure time doing nothing of particular importance.

“My friend Bob like to hang around my house. He doesn’t like spending time with his wife.”

To clash with

When talking about clothing if you say something clashes it means the two clothing items don’t look good together.

“My green hat clashes with my pink shorts. I will have to change.”

To touch base with

To get in contact with a person about a previously discussed issue.

“I will touch base with you about the vacation home rental when I get back on Thursday.”

To take the high road

To choose to make the correct and moral decision when faced with a problem or conflict.

“I could have made John pay for his mean comment by firing him. I decided to take the high road and just let it go.”

To wear somebody out

To make a person tired by being demanding and taking up their time.

“My little daughter wears me out. She never stops asking for candy!”

To catch heat for

To get in trouble for something that you did.

“I caught heat for staying out late. My mom was really angry with me.”

To hit the nail on the head

To be completely correct about an issue or an idea.

“Obama hit the nail on the head when he decided that the US needs to address health insurance.”

To cough up

To pull out or produce something, even if you don’t want to. People are said to cough up money when they have to pay for something that they don’t want to.

“I had to cough up $100 for a new lamp that my wife wanted. The last thing I wanted to spend my money on was another piece of furniture for our house!”

To walk the line

To act and believe a certain way, but at the same time to be very close to another way of acting.”

“My friend Bob walks the line between being aggressive and being an insensitive jerk.”

To kick butt

To do really well at a certain activity.

“My brother really kicks butt at surfing. He is the best surfer I’ve seen.

To be an animal

If you describe a person as an animal it means that this person is enthusiastic, almost to a fault, about a certain activity or topic.

“When it comes to revolutionary war history John is an animal. He eats, breathes and sleeps the historical facts of this time period.”

To break the news

To inform somebody of news that they did not previously know.

“I hate to break it to you. Your deodorant doesn’t work and quite frankly you stink!”

To head off

To start a movement, like walking or driving, in certain direction.

“After discussing the situation he will head off to the manger’s office to inform him of the problems.”

To strike out

In terms of dating or meeting a potential mate to “strike out” means to fail at winning this person over.

“I went up to the pretty new secretary at work to ask her out. She told me to go away. I guess I struck out again.”

To let up

To stop being so intense in regards to how you are handling a situation.

“You need to let up on how you are dealing with your son’s learning disability. If you push him too hard he will not want to study at all.”

To come down hard on

To punish severely for a wrong doing.

“My parents came down hard on me when I was caught cheating at school. They grounded me for three days.”

To fish out

To reach down into something to take out an object.

“I had to fish out my keys from the bottom of a cup full of ice. My daughter played a trick on me.”

To slide by

To barely get a task or goal accomplished. To intentionally not put forth your best effort.

“Some of my students just slide by my class. They pass, but they put in a minimal amount of effort.”

To eat it

To fall down in a dramatic fashion usually while participating in an activity like skiing or biking.

“I hope I don’t eat it on that steep hill. I don’t have a helmet so I could get hurt.”

To drain somebody

To act in a way that annoys and tires another person. This can be done by requesting a lot of favors or expecting too much from him or her.

“My co worker really drains me. She tells long stories about her cat and stares at me while speaking to make sure I’m listening. She always needs help with her computer and she borrows my pen constantly.”

To hold up

To enter a store with a weapon and demand money.

“They held up a gas station near my house on Monday.”

To ride it out

To wait for something bad or negative, like a bad financial market, to be over.

“I don’t like my boss, but I’m not going to quit. I’ll ride it out until he is transferred to another branch.”

To take a crack at

To make an attempt at something.

“I think I’ll take a crack at that new video game my son bought. it looks fun.”

To rag on

To make fun of and put down.

“My friends used to rag on my girlfriend because she is ugly. I told them to stop.”

To hound someone

To be persistent in your request of another person. You can hound someone for a favor or an answer.

“My sister hounded me for the name of my new friend. She thinks he is cute.”

To cover for someone

To step in and do the work for a person who is unable to perform the task or job. People do this as a favor for a friend. You can cover for a co worker if he is ill and can’t go to work.

“Can you cover for me at the front desk. I need to go out and make a call to my daughter’s school. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

To hack it

To be tough enough to handle a problem or a situation.

“He can’t hack a four mile hike. He is really out of shape.”

To get to the bottom of it

To investigate a situation or problem and figure out the cause of it.

“We need to get to the bottom of it on this issue with the missing books. Who is taking them?”

To give props to

This is a slang expression meaning to acknowledge that someone has done something good.

“I give props to all fathers out there that take care of their kids. Being a parent is hard.”