Idioms - B

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backseat driver


badger someone


balancing act

Defined: When you try to satisfy two or more people or groups who have different needs, and keep everyone happy, you perform a balancing act.
Example: Many people, especially women, have to perform a balancing act between work and family.

bare your heart / soul

Defined: If you bare you soul (or heart) to someone, you reveal your innermost thoughts and feelings to them.
Example: Mike couldn't keep things to himself any longer. He decided to bare his soul to his best friend.

bark up wrong tree

Defined: A person who is barking up the wrong tree is doing the is looking in the wrong place.
Example: The police were investigating the crime and are barking up the wrong tree. They thought Johnny did it but he was at home with me.

beat a retreat

Defined: Someone who beats a (hasty) retreat runs away or goes back hurriedly to avoid a dangerous or difficult situation.
Example: The thief beat a hasty retreat as soon as he saw the security officer.

bide your time

Defined: If you bide your time, you wait for a good opportunity to do something.
Example: He's not hesitating, he's just biding his time, waiting for the price to drop.

binge drinking

Defined: This term refers to heavy drinking where large quantities of alcohol are consumed in a short space of time, often among young people in rowdy groups.
Example: Binge drinking is becoming a major problem in some European countries.

bite hand that feeds you

Defined: If you bite the hand that feeds you, you are unfriendly or do harm to someone who is kind to you.
Example: If you say bad things about the person who gives you a job, you bite the hand that feeds you.

blot one's copy book

Defined: Someone who blots their copy-book does something to spoil their good record or reputation.
Example: He blotted his copy-book when he was arrested for speeding.

break every rule in the book

Defined: If you behave in a completely unacceptable way, you break every rule in the book.
Example: Our competitors obtained the contract by breaking every rule in the book.

breathe down neck

Defined: If someone is breathing down your neck, they are watching you too closely and making you feel uncomfortable.
Example: The atmosphere at work is not great; the boss keeps breathing down our necks all the time.

build bridges

Defined: If a person builds bridges between opposing groups, they help them to cooperate and understand each other better.
Example: A mediator is trying to build bridges between the local community and the owners of the new plant.

burn your bridges

Defined: If you burn your bridges, you do something that will be impossible to rectify in the future.
Example: If you refuse the offer, be careful not to burn your bridges by insulting them. They may make a better proposal later.

burn the candle at both ends

Defined: If you burn the candle at both ends, you exhaust yourself by doing too much, especially going to bed late and getting up early.
Example: Scott looks exhausted - I'll bet he's been burning the candle at both ends lately.

burn your fingers

Defined: If you burn your fingers (orget your fingers burnt), you suffer financially as a result of foolish behaviour.
Example: Jack got his fingers burnt playing on the stock market.

bury head in sand

Defined: If you bury your head in the sand, you refuse to face the unpleasant reality by pretending that the situation doesn't exist.
Example: It's no good burying your head in the sand. We've got a problem on our hands.

bury the hatchet

Defined: When people who have had a disagreement decide to forget their quarrel and become friends again, they bury the hatchet.
Example: I didn't agree with my colleague's decision, but for the sake of peace, I decided to bury the hatchet.

butter wouldn't melt in mouth

Defined: If you say that someone looks as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouth, you mean that they look completely innocent, but that they are capable of doing unpleasant things.
Example: The boy who stole the purse looked as if butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.

butter somebody up

Defined: When you butter someone up, you flatter them or you are very nice to them, especially if you want to obtain something.
Example: He was so keen to get the job that he spent his time buttering up the boss.

by the same token

Defined: If you apply the same rule to different situations, you judge them by the same token, or in a similar way.
Example: Teenagers should be less rebellious, but by the same token, parents should be more understanding.

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