Popular Idioms and Usages Part B

Hope you have read my first part of the idioms list in Part A, which described the popular idioms and usages in English starting with letter A. Now, I have the second list here of idioms and usages starting with B. Read on.

  1. Back of beyond: A very remote place. Agatha Christie lived in the back of beyond for some time when her fans searched every nook and cranny to find her.
  2. Back seat driver: Somebody who always criticizes what you do.
  3. Backroom boy: One who works anonymously for an organization while most others take public roles. Johnson worked as a backroom boy with the Company for more than a decade.
  4. Bad blood: Hostile feelings. Bad blood prevailed between my closest friend and me until we realized our mistakes.
  5. Bad egg: A worthless person.
  6. Bad hair day: A day when everything seems to be amiss.
  7. Baker’s dozen: Number thirteen.
  8. Balance of power: Distribution of power among countries such that no one can dominate others. Use with the definite article.
  9. Ball is in your court (with the): To refer that somebody holds the power to decide in the situation.
  10. Ball of fire: A very energetic person. Though Jim is a ball of fire at his work, he is not so back home.
  11. Balls to the wall: At full throttle. The pilot tugged the lever, balls to the wall.
  12. Bandy words: To argue feverishly.
  13. Bang on about: Blabber about something.
  14. Baptism of fire: An ordeal or martyrdom applicable to soldiers.
  15. Bark up the wrong tree: Follow the wrong track. The detective didn’t realize that he was barking up the wrong tree until the third murder happened.
  16. Beat around the bush: Avoid decision by equivocating.
  17. Beat hollow: Defeat completely.
  18. Beat a swift retreat: Rapidly withdraw from something.
  19. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder: The concept of beauty changes from person to person.
  20. Beauty is only skin-deep: Physical beauty is trivial.
  21. Bed of roses, Bee in your bonnet, etc., are explained in the previous entry here.
  22. Bees and honey: A slang meaning ‘money.’ This is a Cockney rhyming slang.
  23. Bees’ knees: Excellent and of the highest quality. This originated since the bees carry the pollen to their hives in sacs in their knees. So, the idea that something excellent is there in bees’ knees promulgated.
  24. Before one can say Jack Robinson: Very quickly.
  25. Behind closed doors: In secrecy.
  26. Behind every great man, there is a great woman: This and its variants spread as part of feminist propaganda.
  27. Behind someone’s back: Very secretly and without others’ knowledge.
  28. Behind the eight ball: A precarious and inescapable situation. It originated from the pool game.
  29. Behind the scenes: Done not in public view.
  30. Below the belt: Unfair tactic. This originated from boxing rule that one cannot hit below the belt.
  31. Beneath contempt: Very cheap and disgraceful.
  32. Beside oneself: Very angry and upset. John was beside himself when his coworker didn’t do what he was expected to do.
  33. Beside the point: Irrelevant.
  34. Best bib and tucker: Your best clothes.
  35. Bet your bottom dollar: Bet until your money is completely exhausted.
  36. Better half: Your spouse.
  37. Better late than never: To mean doing something late is better than not doing it at all.
  38. Between rock and a hard place: In difficulty. Similar to “between devil and deep sea.”
  39. Between two stools: Uncertainty and insecurity. “Between two stools you fall to ground” is the original proverb.
  40. Beware of Greeks bearing gifts: From reference to the Greek Trojan Horse, which was originally given as gift and contained soldiers who won the Trojan War.
  41. Beyond our ken: Beyond our understanding. The idea you are talking is beyond my ken.
  42. Big cheese: The most important person.
  43. Big head: A very proud person.
  44. Big in Japan: Spoken about some group, not popular in their own area and popular in a different area.
  45. Big wig/Big shot: An important person.
  46. Billy no mates: Someone without friends.
  47. Bird of passage: A gipsy. Someone moving from place to place.
  48. Bird’s eye view: A general idea of what something is.
  49. Birds of a feather: People with similar tastes. It was too late when John found out that Sarah and he were birds of a feather.
  50. Bite more than one can chew: To try to do more than one possibly can.
  51. Bite the bullet: Endure pain with resilience.
  52. Bite the dust: Die or fall prostrate to the ground.
  53. Bitter pill to swallow: A bitter fact or uncomfortable truth.
  54. Black sheep of the family: Worthless and mischievous person of the family. It is usually true that the black sheep of the family come to the rescue eventually.
  55. Blank cheque: A complete permission to something.
  56. Blaze a trail: To lead the way and be idol to others. Until Joan of Arc blazed the trail, no woman liked military jobs.
  57. Blood is thicker than water: Used to mean family relationships are more important than friendships.
  58. Blue blood: Noble birth.
  59. Break the ice: Dilute a tense situation.
  60. Breathe one’s last: To die.

These and more will be added to the list in the days to come. Read on and keep track of this series. The next in the series will have usages and idioms from letter C. Comment your doubts here. If you need to learn any idioms and want clarifications on meanings of any of the presented ones, please let me know by commenting.

Some other posts you may like:

  1. List of Popular Idioms and Usages Part A
  2. Some English Errors
  3. The Main Reason Why Your Writing Fails

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008

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