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Idioms with letter A

A bad penny always turns up: a person or thing which is unpleasant, dishonourable, or unwanted tends to appear (or reappear), especially at inopportune times: We thought we wouldn't see Rohan again after what he did, but he showed up at the party - a bad penny always turns up. A bit iffy: to experience concern, reflect nervousness, have misgivings, expect possible dire results: I was hoping to go for cycling but the weather's looking a bit iffy. That cheese smells a bit iffy to me. I'm not sure if we should go there at night; I'm a bit iffy about it. Expect the taste to be a bit iffy since I am trying the dish for the first time.

A bolt from the blue: a sudden, unexpected event: Capture of Afghanistan in less than a week came as a bolt from the blue.

A boon and a bane: something that is both a benefit and an affliction: We got this huge order after a long wait but at a time when we are highly short-staffed, so it is both a boon and bane, particularly since delivery time is too short.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link: an organization (especially a process or a business) is only as strong or powerful as its weakest person; a group of associates is only as strong as its laziest member: Just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, a supply chain is only as secure as its weakest link, which includes the manufacturers, wholesalers, suppliers, retailers, carriers, terminals, and governmental institutions that plan, manage, facilitate, and monitor the global movement of goods.

A cut above: superior to; of a higher quality than: If you can afford, you must hire the best lawyer in the town who is a cut above the rest. When it comes to conjuring an idea out of the box, he is a cut above the rest.

A dark horse: an expression of a winner, a success story, a triumph suddenly developing, revealing itself all in an unexpected manner: Shuvendu Adhikari – the dark horse defeated his bête noire Mamata Bannerji – the firebrand politician who was considered invincible.

A day late and a dollar short: not enough and too late to be of use; too little too late: By the time the rescue team arrived, it was a day late and a dollar short, since a large number of victims had already died and even those who had chance of survival also died because of lack of proper arrangement and facility.

A flash in the pan: if you call something flash in the pan, you say it has happened for only one time and it won’t/ didn’t repeat: The band’s music album ten years back was a flash in the pan; no other album has been a hit thereafter.

A fly on the wall: to be able to secretly hear and observe something: The non-descript tea boy in the office is a fly on the wall; nothing escapes his watchful eyes and sharp ears and old-timers know he is an informer for the owners. I am curious why my manager has got called into Director’s office and I wish I could be a fly on the wall.

A hot potato: a controversial/ awkward situation - very difficult to handle: Farmers’ issue has become a hot potato for the legislative and judiciary and no less for the executive.

A house is not a home: a home is not merely a building but requires inhabitants and a friendly atmosphere: I stay in a condo in a posh locality provided by the company but for my old parents a house is not a home and they are happier staying in village.

A king’s ransom: a large amount of money: A lawyer of his stature and reputation would charge a king’s ransom for just one court appearance. With sudden spurt in demand for goat’s milk due to dengue, he has started charging king’s ransom for even a quarter-liter.

A left-handed compliment: saying something insulting in the form of appreciative words: She congratulated me for the award but it turned out to be a left-handed compliment when she enquired why the last year’s champion didn’t participate.

A leopard cannot change its spots: one cannot change one's own nature: I was convinced a leopard can’t change its spots when she committed theft again In spite of receiving warning twice earlier, and it turned out she is a kleptomaniac.

A little bird told me: this is used to say that you got information from someone but you are not going to say who that person is: A little bird told me that she is pregnant, though she hasn’t made it public yet.

A lone voice in the wilderness: someone who says something that’s not popular; expressing an unpopular opinion: In early days of the movement Jaiprakash Narain was a lone voice in the wilderness trying to garner support for a just cause against a dictatorial regime.

A memory like a sieve: if somebody can't retain things for long in memory and quickly forgets: These days my grandfather has a memory like a sieve as he often struggle to recall names and news and remember dates schedules, and timings.

A millstone round your neck: it is a very unpleasant problem or responsibility that you cannot escape from: Serious allegations of scams and scandals have surfaced just before election which is proving to be millstone round the neck of the opposition party. Air India has become the millstone round the Government’s neck with its burgeoning debt.

A miss is as good as a mile: a failure remains a failure, regardless of how close to success one has actually come: We missed the bus due to delay of just 3 minutes and it was a miss as good as a mile, literally, since we caught it at the at the next stop one mile away by hiring a taxi.

A needle in a haystack: something that is very difficult to find: No information is any longer a needle in the haystack after the search engines were launched on the web. My son’s room is so cluttered that finding anything is like searching for a needle in a haystack.

A new lease on life: a new chance to be happy or successful after going through difficulties or hardships: His new job has given him a new lease of life after six months of unemployment.

A nose for something: have a talent or ability for finding something: He has a nose for stock trading and makes money even when most lose. Successful journalists have a nose for headline stories.

A notch above (someone/something): something is slightly superior or inferior to someone / something else: Her dance performance was a notch above the previous dancer though both are almost at par.

A piece of cake: if something is a piece of cake, it’s easy to do: For our class topper the riddle was a piece of cake and he solved it in no time.

A pyrrhic victory: an apparent victory, but one which is no victory at all, due to the great cost incurred. The phrase comes from the victory won by king Pyrrhus at Asculum in 279bc which cost him many of his best men: He won by a slender margin and considering the amount of time, effort, money and huge deployment of resources, it was just a pyrrhic victory, and the defeated party will be remembered for valour.

A riddle wrapped up in an enigma: something very mysterious and hidden: Consciousness is ranked at the top as the hardest problem and as of date it is a riddle wrapped up in an enigma.

A shot in the dark: a wild guess: His answer was a shot in the dark but it turned out to be correct.

A silver lining is not made of silver: what appears on the surface is not necessarily true: No matter how hopeful one is about an end while sailing through adversity, if there is only wistful thinking without any effort, one would soon realise that a silver lining is not made of silver.

A slap on the wrist: just a small punishment: In absence of clinching evidence, the convict got away with a slap on the wrist based only on circumstantial evidence, in spite of committing such a heinous crime.

A smoke screen: something that hides real intentions, feelings, or activities: The opposition alleges that the ruling party may highlight development projects, diplomatic victories and war against corruption and terrorism nearer to the election as a smokescreen to divert attention from economy, inflation and unemployment. Often in the market some products are offered free which is nothing but a smokescreen for pushing slow-moving products or to cover up price hike.

A snake in the grass: a treacherous or deceitful person: The officer was honey trapped and it was too late by the time he realised that she was a spy - a snake in the grass.

A snowball effect: the aspect of momentum in every event and how they build upon each other: The YouTube channel became very popular due to its unique and easy-to-cook recipes and because of snowball effect the channel has now a following of over 50000 viewers in just 4 months.

A steal: a deal so good that it's almost like you stole it: That pair of prime sports shoes at a discount of 70% is a steal.

A stopped clock is right twice a day: a normally unreliable person or instrument can occasionally provide correct information, even if only by accident: A person often wrong can also be right sometimes like a stopped clock which is right twice a day, so we should be careful lest a fact becomes a casualty of bias and gets lost forever.

About time: a moment that should happen now or that should have happened previously (before): In view of the savage natural calamities in all parts of the planet this year, it is about time, developed nations adopted stricter mitigation measures to address climate change.

Above and beyond the call of duty: extremely heroic, more heroic that what is expected: The employees went above and beyond their call of duty to make the launch of new vehicle since they identify their own pride and success with that of company.

Ace up one’s sleeve: a secret or hidden advantage that you can use when you need it: As a long time secretary in the company her job is safe and secure since she has an ace up her sleeve being privy to many secrets which includes dubious and unethical practices.

Age before beauty: a phrase said to allow older people to go before younger ones:

Ahead of the game: in a position in front of others or in an advantageous position: In order to stay ahead of the game with competitors, MNCs spend heavily on R&D to be ready with unique designs and products.

Ahead of the pack: doing something more successfully than others in your group (or people you are competing against): Businesses quick to identify niche market, product, or service remain ahead of the pack provided they are also quick to implement.

Albatross around one's neck: something – normally guilt or curse or a burden that prevents one from succeeding in what they want to achieve: The ghost of the girl he had murdered became an albatross around his neck droving him mad so much so that he spent rest of his life in a mental asylum. We both can never go on a vacation together since our pets are albatross around our neck.

All bets are off: indicates that a future event appears uncertain, especially one that before seemed more certain: All bets are off on the company’s revenue projection with the news of Government’s announcement of new pollution norms.

All dressed up and nowhere to go: elaborately attired or otherwise fully prepared for an anticipated situation or activity that nevertheless fails to occur: Many a times she is all dressed up and nowhere to go because such is the nature of her husband’s job as a surgeon.

All ears: ready and eager to listen to what someone is saying: The CTO is keen to bring in new technology and all ears to listen to the presentation by any technology supplier boosting production, efficiency and savings in energy manhours and resources.

All the rage: popular or in style: When we were young film stars and pop singers used to set trend of dress, hairstyle, style of moustache, and side burns which used to become all the rage for the youngsters.

All (other) things being equal: without considering or being affected by external factors: All things being equal, children who are exposed to critical thinking and experiential learning end up performing better at a later age.

Allow the dust to settle: to allow a situation to become calm or normal again after a period of excitement or upheaval: Knowing that they had a bitter fight a few days back, the counsellor decided to allow the dust to settle before calling the disenchanted couple for a mediation.

An army marches on its stomach: you must eat properly if you want to perform tasks well: Remember that an army marches on its stomach and you can’t continue with such demanding schedule for too long by neglecting sleep, diet and exercise.

An axe to grind: 1) a complaint or dispute that one feels compelled to discuss; 2) a personal motivation or selfish reason for saying or doing something: In today’s meeting the political bosses will have an axe to grind with the campaign manager over the election defeat. Given the way you had treated him in the past, expect that he would have an axe to grind with you, now that he is your boss.

And all that jazz: and all those other similar things: My daughter is involved with so many social and environmental causes – animal welfare, child labour, civic apathy, public conveniences, corruption in govt schemes and all that jazz.

As plain as day: very clear and easy to understand: The fact that the balance sheet was cooked up, was as plain as day. I could easily read her fake smile, it was as easy as day.

At odds with something: not in agreement: Parent’s views are at odds with children regarding decision to rent or purchase an apartment. The result is at odds with the expectation. The way she dresses is at odds with her Islamic culture.

At sea: confused: Given too many equally interesting choices, I was at sea to decide which one would be right for which I needed more inputs for a comparative analysis.

At the drop of a hat: 1) with slight provocation; 2) without any hesitation; instantly: Night watchmen have been trained to fix minor issues related to potential accidents and therefore shouldn’t call the supervisor at the drop of a hat. My youngest son is always there for me at the drop of a hat. Piyus is always ready for biking on a long trip on mountain roads at the drop of a hat.

Avoid like the plague: to shun, or evade if at all possible: The shaman declared her as a witch and thereafter entire village has been avoiding her as a plague. After he made antinational statements, all other actors are avoiding him as a plague to maintain their clean image and some have even condemned him.

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