Saturday, March 14, 2009

Idioms beginning with 'L'

L ~

Labor of love
A labor of love is a project or task undertaking for the interest or pleasure in doing it rather than the reward, financial or otherwise.
Labour of love
A labour of love is a project or task undertaking for the interest or pleasure in doing it rather than the reward, financial or otherwise.
Lame duck
If something or someone is a lame duck, they are in trouble.
Land of nod
If someone has gone to the land of nod, they have fallen asleep or gone to bed.
Landslide victory
A landslide victory is a victory in an election by a very large margin.
Lap dog
A lap dog is a person who is eager to please another at the expense of his or her own needs in order to maintain a position of privilege or favor.
Lap of the gods
If something is in the lap of the gods, it is beyond our control and fate will decide the outcome.
Larger than life
If something is excessive or exaggerated, it is larger than life.
Last hurrah
If an elderly person does something special before they die, it is a last hurrah.
Last laugh
The person who has the last laugh ends up with the the advantage in a situation after some setbacks.
Last straw
The last straw is the final problem that makes someone lose their temper or the problem that finally brought about the collapse of something. It comes from an Arabic story, where a camel was loaded with straw until a single straw placed on the rest of the load broke its back.
A last-ditch attempt is a desperate attempt that will probably fail anyway.
Laugh a minute
Someone who is a laugh a minute is very funny.
Laugh to see a pudding crawl
(UK) Someone who would laugh to see a pudding crawl is easily amused and will laugh at anything.
Laugh up your sleeve
If you laugh up your sleeve, you laugh at someone secretly.
Laughing stock
If someone becomes a laughing stock they do something so stupid or wrong that no one can take them seriously and people scorn and laugh at them.
Laughter is the best medicine
Laughing is often helpful for healing, especially emotional healing.
Law unto yourself
If somebody's a law unto themselves, they do what they believe is right regardless of what is generally accepted as correct.
Lay down the law
If someone lays down the law, they tell people what to do and are authoritarian.
Lead someone up the garden path
If someone leads you up the garden path, they deceive you, or give you false information that causes you to waste your time. 'Lead someone down the garden path' is also used.
Lead with the chin
If someone leads with their chin, they speak or behave without fear of the consequences.
Lean and mean
An organisation that is lean and mean has no excess or unnecessary elements and is very competitive.
Learn the ropes
If you are learning the ropes, you are learning how to do something.
Leave no stone unturned
If you look everywhere to find something, or try everything to achieve something, you leave no stone unturned.
Leave well alone
If you leave something well alone, you keep a safe distance from it, either physically or metaphorically.
Left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing
If the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing, then communication within a company, organisation, group, etc, is so bad that people don't know what the others are doing.
Left in the dark
If you are left in the dark about something, you aren't given the information that you should have.
Left to your own devices
If someone is left to their own devices, they are not controlled and can do what they want.
Left-handed compliment
A left-handed compliment is one that sounds like praise but has an insulting meaning. ('Backhanded compliment' is an alternative form.)
Legend in your own lunchtime
Somebody who becomes a legend in their own lifetime acquires fame, but often only to a select or specialist audience, while they are still alive.
Lend an ear
If you lend an ear, you listen to what someone has to say. ('Lend your ear' is an alternative form.)
Leopard can't change its spots
This idiom means that people cannot change basic aspects of their character, especially negative ones. ("A leopard doesn't change its spots" is also used.)
Lesser of two evils
Something that is the lesser of two evils, is an unpleasant option, but not as bad as the other.
Let alone
This is used to emphasise how extreme something could be: 'We hadn't got the money to phone home, let alone stay in a hotel.' This emphasises the utter impossibility of staying in a hotel.
Let bygones be bygones
If people decide to let bygones be bygones, they decide to forget old problems or grievances they have with each other.
Let sleeping dogs lie
If someone is told to let sleeping dogs lie, it means that they shouldn't disturb a situation as it would result in trouble or complications.
Let the best be the enemy of the good
If the desire for an unattainable perfection stops someone from choosing good possibilities, they let the best be the enemy of the good.
Let the cat out of the bag
If you accidentally reveal a secret, you let the cat out of the bag.
Let the chips fall where they may
This means that we shouldn't try to control events, because destiny controls them.
Let the devil take the hindmost
This idiom means that you should think of yourself and not be concerned about other people; look after yourself and let the devil take the hindmost.
Let the genie out of the bottle
If people let the genie out of the bottle, they let something bad happen that cannot be put right or controlled.
Let the grass grow round your feet
If you let the grass grow round your feet, you delay doing things instead of taking action.
Let your guard down
If you let your guard down, you relax and stop looking out for danger.
Let your hair down
If someone lets their hair down, they relax and stop feeling inhibited or shy.
Let's call it a day
This is used as a way of suggesting that it is time to stop working on something.
Letter of the law
If people interpret laws and regulations strictly, ignoring the ideas behind them, they follow the letter of the law.
Level playing field
If there's a level playing field everybody is treated equally.
Lie like a rug
If someone lies like a rug, they lie to the point where it becomes obvious that they're lying.
Lie low
If someone lies low, they try not to be found or caught.
Lie through your teeth
Someone who is always lying, regardless of what people know, lies through their teeth.
Life and limb
When people risk life and limb, they could be killed or suffer serious injuries.
Life is just a bowl of cherries
This idiom means that life is simple and pleasant.
Light at the end of the tunnel
If you can see light at the end of the tunnel, then you can see some signs of hope in the future, though things are difficult at the moment.
Light bulb moment
A light bulb moment is when you have a sudden realisation about something, like the light bulbs used to indicate an idea in cartoons.
Light on your feet
If someone is light on their feet, they can move quickly and are agile.
Light years ahead
If you are light years ahead of others, you are a long way in front of them in terms of development, success, etc.
Lightning rod
Someone or something that attracts a lot of negative comment, often diverting attention from other problems, is a lightning rod.
Like a bat out of hell
This expression means extremely quickly.
Like a beached whale
Once a whale is on a beach, it cannot get back into the easily, so if you are completely stuck somewhere and can't get away, you are stranded like a beached whale.
Like a bear with a sore head
(UK) If someone's like a bear with a sore head, they complain a lot and are unhappy about something.
Like a bull at a gate
If you tackle a job very quickly, without any real thought about what you are doing, you are going at it like a bull at a gate.
Like a cat on hot bricks
If someone is like a cat on hot bricks, they are very nervous or excited.
Like a cat that got the cream
If someone looks very pleased with themselves and happy, they look like a cat that got the cream.
Like a duck to water
If someone has a natural talent for something and enjoys it, they take to it like a duck to water.
Like a fish needs a bicycle
If someone needs something like a Fish Needs a Bicycle, they do not need it at all, originally a feminist slogan: A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.
Like a fish out of water
If someone feels like a fish out of water, they are very uncomfortable in the situation they are in.
Like a hawk
If you watch something or someone like a hawk, you observe very closely and carefully.
Like a headless chicken
If someone rushes about like a headless chicken, they move very fast all over the place, usually without thinking.
Like a kid in a candy store
If someone is like a kid in a candy store, they are very excited about something.
Like a moth to a flame
Something that is like a moth to a flame is attracted to something that is deadly or dangerous.
Like a rat deserting a sinking ship
If people leave a company because they know that it's about to have serious problems, or turn their back on a person about to be in a similar situation, they are said to be like rats deserting a sinking ship.
Like Chinese arithmetic
If something is complicated and hard to understand, it's like Chinese arithmetic.
Like clockwork
If something happens like clockwork, it happens at very regular times or intervals.
Like father, like son
This idiom is used when different generations of a family behave in the same way or have the same talents of defects.
Like giving a donkey strawberries
(UK) If something is like giving a donkey strawberries, people fail to appreciate its value.
Like it or lump it
When people say this, they mean that the person will have to accept the situation because it isn't going to change.
Like lambs to the slaughter
If somebody does something unpleasant without any resistance, they go like lambs to the slaughter.
Like no one's business
If I say my children are growing like no one's business, it means they're growing very quickly. See also 'Like the clappers' and 'Like there's no tomorrow'.
Like peas in a pod
If people or things are like peas in a pod, they look identical.
Like pulling teeth
If something if like pulling teeth, it is very difficult, especially if trying to extract information or to get a straight answer from someone.
Like taking candy from a baby
(USA) If something is like taking candy from a baby, it is very easy to do.
Like the back of your hand
If you know something like the back of your hand, you know it very well indeed.
Like the clappers
If something is going like the clappers, it is going very fast.
Like there's no tomorrow
If you do something like there's no tomorrow, you do it fast or energetically.
Like two peas in a pod
Things that are like two peas in a pod are very similar or identical,
Like watching sausage getting made
If something is like watching sausages getting made, unpleasant truths about it emerge that make it much less appealing.  The idea is that if people watched sausages getting made, they would probably be less fond of them.
Like white on rice
(USA) If you do something like white on rice, you do it very closely: When Bob found out I had front row tickets for the concert, he stuck to me like white on rice.
Like wildfire
If something happens or spreads like wildfire, it happens very quickly and intensely.
Someone who is lily-livered is a coward.
Lines of communication
Lines of communication are the routes used to communicate by people or groups who are in conflict; a government might open lines of communication with terrorists if it wished to negotiate with them.
Lion's share
The lion's share of something is the biggest or best part.
Lip service
When people pay lip service to something, they express their respect, but they don't act on their words, so the respect is hollow and empty.
Little pitchers have big ears
(USA) This means that children hear more and understand the world around them better than many adults realize.
Little strokes fell great oaks
Meaning: even though something may seem impossible, if you break it up into small parts and take one step at a time, you will succeed.
Live high off the hog
If you are living high off the hog, you are living lavishly.
Live wire
A person who is very active, both mentally and physically, is a live wire.
Lo and behold
This phrase is used to express surprise.
Loan shark
A loan shark lends money at very high rates of interest.
Lock and load
This is a military term meaning "be ready and prepared".
Lock horns
When people lock horns, they argue or fight about something.
Lock the stable door after the horse has bolted
If someone takes action too late, they do this; there is no reason to lock an empty stable.
Lock, stock and barrel
This is an expressions that means 'everything'; if someone buys a company lock, stock and barrel, they buy absolutely everything to do with the company.
Long face
Someone with a long face is sad or depressed about something.
Long in the tooth
If someone is long in the tooth, they are a bit too old to do something.
Long shot
If something is a long shot, there is only a very small chance of success.
Long time no hear
The speaker could say this when they have not heard from a person, either through phone calls or emails for a long time.
Long time no see
'Long time no see' means that the speaker has not seen that person for a long time.
Look after number 1
You are number one, so this idiom means that you should think about yourself first, rather than worrying about other people.
Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves
(UK) If you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves, meaning that if someone takes care not to waste small amounts of money, they will accumulate capital. ('Look after the pence and the pounds will look after themselves' is an alternative form of this idiom.)
Look before you leap
This idiom means that you should think carefully about the possible results or consequences before doing something.
Look on the bright side
If you look on the bright side, you try to see things in an optimistic way, especially when something has gone wrong.
Look out for number one
If you look out for number one, you take care of yourself and your interests, rather than those of other people.
Look what the cat dragged in
This idiom is used when someone arrives somewhere looking a mess or flustered and bothered.
Loose cannon
A person who is very difficult to control and unpredictable is a loose cannon.
Loose lips sink ships
To have loose lips means to have a big mouth, susceptible to talking about everything and everyone. Sinking ships refers to anything from small acquaintances to long and hearty relationships (with friends or a significant other). So when one says loose lips sink ships, one is basically saying if you can't shut up you are going to end hurting people, usually psychologically or emotionally.Loose lips sink ships comes from World War I and/or WWII, when sailors on leave from their ships might talk about what ship they sailed on or where it had come from, or where it was going. If they talked too much (had 'loose lips') they might accidentally provide the enemy with anecdotal information that might later cause their ship to be tracked, and bombed and sunk, hence 'Loose lips sink ships.' Later, it came to mean any excessive talk might sabotage a project.
Lord love a duck
An exclamation used when nothing else will fit. Often fitting when one is stunned or dismayed.
Lord willing and the creek don't rise
Pertains to the ability to accomplish a task or meet an obligation, barring unforseen complications. Example: "I will be at work tomorrow, Lord willing and the creek don't rise."
Lose face
To lose one's reputation or standing is to lose face
Lose the plot
If someone loses the plot, they have stopped being rational about something.
Lose your bottle
(UK) If someone loses their bottle, they lose the courage to do something.
Lose your lunch
(UK) If you lose your lunch, you vomit.
Lose your marbles
If someone has lost their marbles, they've gone mad.
Lose your shirt
If someone loses their shirt, they lose all their money through a bad investment, gambling, etc.
Love is blind
If you love someone, it doesn't matter what they look like. You will also overlook faults.
Low-hanging fruit
Low-hanging fruit are things that are easily achieved.
Lower than a snake's belly
Someone or something that is lower than a snake's belly is of a very low moral standing.
Lower than a snake's belly in a wagon rut
(USA) If someone or something is lower than a snake's belly in a wagon rut, they are of low moral standing because a snake's belly is low and if the snake is in a wagon rut, it is really low.
Lower the bar
If people change the standards required to make things easier, they lower the bar.
Lower your sights
If you lower your sights, you accept something that is less than you were hoping for.
Luck of the draw
To have the 'Luck of the draw' is to win something in a competition where the winner is chosen purely by chance.

1 comment:

  1. let the cat out of the bag
    Meaning: give away a secret. good job...

    Idioms beginning with L