Idioms - C

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cap in hand

Defined: If you do something cap in hand, you ask for something in a very respectful manner.
Example: They went to the teacher, cap in hand, and asked for more time to complete their project.

carrot and stick

Defined: If you use a carrot-and-stick approach, you use the promise of reward and the threat of punishment to make someone work harder.
Example: Some parents use a carrot-and-stick approach to obtain good results from their children.

caught with pants down

Defined: If you are caught with your pants down, you are caught doing something bad or forbidden.
Example: Our neighbours were caught fiddling with the electricity meter - caught with their pants down!

chance one's arm

Defined: If you chance your arm, you decide to do something even though there is little hope of success.
Example: Tony knew there was little hope of getting into Harvard but he decided to chance his arm anyway.

caught red-handed

Defined: If a person is caught red-handed, they are caught while they are doing something wrong or illegal.
Example: The boy was caught red-handed stealing chocolate in the supermarket.

cheap shot

Defined: A cruel, unfair or unwarrented comment or verbal attack is called a cheap shot.
Example: Referring to Tom as an 'unqualified speaker' was really a cheap shot.

chime in

Defined: If you chime in, you interrupt or join a conversation, especially to repeat or agree with something.
Example: As I explained to the bus driver what had happened, the other passengers chimed in and gave their version.

clip someone's wings

Defined: If you clip someone's wings, you do something to restrict their freedom.
Example: Taking away his credit card is a sure way to clip his wings.

come apart at the seams

Defined: To say that someone is coming apart at the seams means that they are extremely upset or under severe mental stress.
Example: Bob has had so many problems lately, he's coming apart at the seams.

come out of woodwork

Defined: When things, or people, come out of the woodwork, they appear or emerge unexpectedly, as if from nowhere, and usually in large numbers.
Example: After winning the lottery, olf friends started coming out of the woodwork!

cramp someone's style

Defined: If you cramp someone's style you do something to prevent them from behaving freely, or performing to the best of their ability.
Example: I can't paint with people watching me - it cramps my style!.

cross the Rubicon

Defined: If you cross the Rubicon, you make an irreversible decision or commit to a course of action that cannot be changed.
Example: After careful consideration, he decided to stop teaching and open an art gallery, knowing that he was crossing the Rubicon.

cut the cackle

Defined: If you tell a group of people to cut the cackle, you are asking them to stop talking aimlessly and start dealing with more important or serious matters.
Example: OK. It's time to cut the cackle and get down to business


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