Idioms for everyday situations and feelings
When things go right
If something …
this means …
worked like a dream
a plan succeeded absolutely perfectly
went/ran like clockwork
it went smoothly, with no difficulties
is up and running
it has begun to work as planned
is falling into place
it is on the point of starting to work well
is looking up
it is looking very positive
When things go wrong: reacting in conversation
Oh no! That's all we need/needed! [in response to news that makes current problems even worse]
That's the last thing I wanted to hear! [in response to news that fulfils your worst fears]
This is like a bad dream! [when one bad thing after another happens in quick succession]
It's a real nightmare / my worst nightmare. [used very generally, e.g. about traffic jams, computers
What a pain! [used very generally, in response to any situation that causes you difficulty]
Confusing situations or situations you don't understand
Her sudden question threw me completely. [I didn't know how to respond]
The meeting was a complete shambles. [a totally disorganised and chaotic event]
It's a mystery to me how people know about my private life. [it's something I cannot understand]
I"m sorry, we must have got our wires crossed. I thought the meeting was at 11, not 10.30. [there
must have been a miscommunication/misunderstanding]
I"m not with you. / You"ve lost me there. [what you have said has confused me]
Happiness and sadness
to be on top of the world / on cloud nine / over the moon
to be extremely happy
to be in (your) element / to be made for
to be ideally suited for
to be fed up to the back teeth
to be extremely unhappy, disappointed
to be down in the dumps / down in the mouth
to be depressed
Rewrite the underlined words using an idiom based on the word in brackets.
The system is now working as planned, so we should be able to get some useful data soon. (run)
Things are becoming very positive now that we"ve increased our online sales. (look)
The whole project was 100% successful. (dream)
After a problematic start, things are beginning to work well now. (fall)
The school open day ran very smoothly without difficulties or problems. (clock)
Fill in B's missing words in these conversations.
1 A: * "I"m afraid your insurance policy expired a month ago, so you can't claim for the fire damage."
B: "Oh no! This is like a bad
2 A: "I"m afraid the boss is away this week so we"ll have to wait to sort this out till next week."
B: "Oh, what a
! Ah well, I suppose there's nothing we can do."
3 A: "Tarek is ill and can't come. Now Sheena's phoned in to say she's sick too!"
B: "Oh no! Two people sick! That's all we
4 A: "Wow! Look at this traffic jam. We"ll be stuck here for hours!"
B: "I know. It's a real
5 A: * "The lawyers have said we can't hold the festival because we haven't done a proper risk assessment."
B: "Oh no! That's the last thing we wanted to
Read the comments and then answer the questions.
It's a mystery to me
how those papers
That shop is
Sorry, I"m not with
you. You"ve lost
Sorry, I think
we got our
The news threw me
1 Who is talking about something disorganised and chaotic?
2 Who thinks there's been a misunderstanding?
3 Who can't follow what someone has said?
4 Who can't find an explanation for something?
5 Who didn't know how to respond to something?
Correct the mistakes in the idioms in these sentences.
Jessica's on cloud seven now she's at university.
She's on her element now she's got a job in an architect's office.
You look a bit down in the damp. What's the matter?
Just look at him! He looks fed up to the front teeth!
I was above the moon when they told me I"d got the job.
Look up these idioms in a dictionary. Do they fit best into A, B, C or D opposite? Circle the
1 Oh no! That's the last straw!
2 I can't get my head round it.
3 You look as miserable as sin.
A B C D
A B C D
A B C D
4 It worked like a charm.
5 I was walking on air.
A B C D
A B C D