ahead of the pack
- to be more successful than other people who are doing the same thing as you (a pack is a group of animals like dogs or wolves who live together)
The girl studied hard all summer and was ahead of the pack when she returned to school in the autumn.
- a stray cat
I began to feed the alley cat and now it comes to my house every day.
as awkward as a cow on roller skates
- very awkward
The little girl was as awkward as a cow on roller skates when she first began riding her bicycle.
as blind as a bat
The man is as blind as a bat and cannot see more than a small distance ahead.
as busy as a beaver
- very busy
I have been as busy as a beaver all morning.
as clean as a hound's tooth
- very clean
The clnoroom was as clean as a hound's tooth when the students finished cleaning it.
as conceited as a barber's cat
- very conceited, vain
My friend became as conceited as a barber's cat after she won the award at school.
as crooked as a dog's hind leg
The politician is as crooked as a dog's hind leg and nobody trusts him.
as drunk as a skunk
- very drunk
The man was as drunk as a skunk when he walked into the restaurant.
as fat as a pig
- very fat
The woman in the supermarket was as fat as a pig.
as gentle as a lamb
- very gentle
The girl is as gentle as a lamb when she is with her little sister.
as gruff as a bear
- gruff, unsociable
Our neighbor is as gruff as a bear when we meet him in the morning.
as hungry as a bear
- very hungry
I was as hungry as a bear when I arrived home from work.
as innocent as a lamb
- having no guilt, naive
The little girl is as innocent as a lamb and everybody loves her.
as meek as a lamb
- quiet, docile, meek
The secretary was as meek as a lamb when she went to ask her boss for a salary increase.
as nervous as a cat
- very nervous
The man was as nervous as a cat when he talked to the woman.
as poor as a church mouse
- very poor
My cousin is as poor as a church mouse and never has any money to spend.
as quiet as a mouse
- very quiet, shy
I was as quiet as a mouse when I left my house early this morning.
as scared as a rabbit
- very scared
I was as scared as a rabbit when I entered the empty room.
as sick as a dog
- very sick
My friend was as sick as a dog when he left the restaurant last night.
as sly as a fox
- smart and clever
The manager of our apartment is as sly as a fox.
as strong as a horse/ox
- very strong
The man was as strong as an ox and easily helped us move the sofa.
as stubborn as a mule
- very stubborn
My friend is as stubborn as a mule and you can never make her change her mind.
as weak as a kitten
- weak, sickly
The girl is as weak as a kitten and cannot carry the books.
as wild as a tiger
- very wild
The little boy was as wild as a tiger when we were trying to look after him.
back the wrong horse
- to support someone or something that cannot or does not win or succeed
We backed the wrong horse when we supported the candidate for mayor.
- to get someone to do something by repeated questions or by bothering them
I always have to badger my friend in order to make him return my computer games.
one's bark is worse than one's bite
- one's words are worse than one's actions
You should not worry about the secretary. Her bark is worse than her bite and she is really a very nice person.
bark up the wrong tree
- to choose the wrong course of action, to ask the wrong person (a hunting dog may make a mistake when chasing an animal and bark up the wrong tree)
My boss is barking up the wrong tree. I did not cause the computer problem.
beat a dead horse
- to continue fighting a battle that has been won, to continue to argue a point that has been settled
I was beating a dead horse when I was arguing with my boss.
the best-laid plans of mice and men
- the best thought-out plans that anyone can make
The best-laid plans of mice and men could not prevent our travel problems.
bet on the wrong horse
- to misread the future, to not choose the winning person or solution
The man is betting on the wrong horse if he supports the other city in their bid for the Olympic games.
the black sheep of the family
- the worst or the most unpopular or disliked member of a family
My cousin is the black sheep of the family and nobody likes to talk about him.
bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
- to be very cheerful and eager (like a squirrel with bright eyes and a bushy tail)
The children were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when they woke up in the morning.
a bull in a china shop
- a tactless person who upsets others or upsets plans, a very clumsy person
The boy is like a bull in a china shop so you should be careful if you invite him to your house.
buy a pig in a poke
- to buy something without seeing it or knowing anything about it
You can buy the used computer but it will be like buying a pig in a poke if you do not look at it first.
by shank's mare
- by foot
I came to the meeting by shank's mare.
call the dogs off or call off the dogs
- to stop threatening or chasing or hounding someone
The police decided to call the dogs off and stop hunting for the man.
a cash cow
- a product or service that makes much money
Our new business is a cash cow. We are making much money now.
cast pearls before swine
- to waste something on someone who will not be thankful or care about it
Giving the jewellery to the woman will be casting pearls before swine. She will not appreciate it at all.
cat gets one`s tongue
- one cannot speak because of shyness
The cat got the woman's tongue and she could not say anything at all.
a cat nap
- a short sleep taken during the day
I had a cat nap in the afternoon so that I would feel refreshed in the evening.
a cat on a no tin roof
- full of lively activity
The boy was jumping around like a cat on a no tin roof and we could not make him be quiet.
champ/chomp at the bit
- to be ready and anxious to do something (a bit is put into a horse's mouth for control of the horse)
Everyone was chomping at the bit to get started on their holiday.
change horses in midstream
- to make new plans or choose a new leader in an activity that has already begun
They have decided to change lawyers but I told them that they should not change horses in midstream.
a cock-and-bull story
- a silly story that is not true
Our neighbor gave us a cock-and-bull story about how our window was broken.
- someone who copies another person`s work etc.
The boy is a copycat and often copies the other students' work.
- to give a false alarm, to warn of a danger that is not there
The man is crying wolf. There is no danger from the electrical system.
curiosity killed the cat
- being too nosy may lead a person into trouble
"You should not worry about what your friend is doing. Remember, curiosity killed the cat."
a dark horse
- a candidate who is little known to the general public
The candidate for mayor was a dark horse until he gave some good speeches on TV.
dog and pony show
- something that you disapprove of because you think that it has only been organized to impress you (like a dog and pony show in a circus)
We had serious questions about the project but we only got a dog and pony show when we questioned our business partners.
- ready or willing to fight and hurt others to get what one wants
It is a dog-eat-dog world in our company.
dog in the manger
- someone who prevents others from doing what they themselves do not want to do (in Aesop's Fables a dog that cannot eat hay lays in the hayrack and prevents the other animals from eating the hay)
My friend always acts like a dog in the manger and often tries to prevent us from enjoying ourselves.
- a very long time
I was happy to see my friend because I had not seen her in donkey's years.
a dumb bunny
- a stupid or gullible person
"He really is a dumb bunny. He does such stupid things."
- a person who is always eager to work or do something extra
The woman is an eager beaver and will do very well in this company.
eat high on/off the hog
- to eat good or expensive food
We were eating high off the hog during our ocean cruise.
eat like a horse
- to eat a lot
My brother eats like a horse.
every dog has his day
- everyone will have his chance or turn, everyone will get what he deserves
"Don`t worry about him. Every dog has his day and he will eventually suffer for all the bad things that he is doing."
ferret (information or something) out of (someone)
- to get something from someone by being persistent
I worked hard to ferret the location of the party out of my friend.
fight like cats and dogs
- to argue and fight with someone (usually used for people who know each other)
The two children were fighting like cats and dogs when we entered the room.
flog a dead horse
- to continue fighting a battle that has been won, to continue to argue a point that has been settled
My friend was flogging a dead horse when she would not stop arguing about the mistake on her paycheck.
- someone who is easily frightened (usually used by children)
The little boy called his friend a fraidy-cat because his friend would not climb the tree.
get (someone`s) goat
- to annoy someone
My friend is always complaining about the way that I do things which gets my goat.
get off one`s high horse
- to begin to be humble and agreeable
I wish that my supervisor would get off her high horse and begin to think about how other people feel about things.
get on one`s high horse
- to behave with arrogance
My friend is always getting on her high horse and telling people what to do.
go ape (over someone or something)
- to become highly excited or angry about someone or something
Our teacher will go ape if you do not finish the work that was due today.
- to behave wildly
The soccer fans went hog-wild when they arrived in the city for the game.
go to the dogs
- to deteriorate, to become bad
Many things in our city have gone to the dogs during the last ten years.
go whole hog
- to do everything possible, to be extravagant
We went whole hog in our effort to make the convention a success.
the hair of the dog that bit one
- a drink of alcohol that one takes when recovering from a hangover
The man had the hair of the dog that bit him before he ate breakfast.
have a cow
- to become very angry and upset about something
Our teacher had a cow when nobody prepared for the clno.
have a whale of a time
- to have an exciting and interesting time
We had a whale of a time at the party last night.
have bats in one's belfry
- to be a little bit crazy
I think that our neighbor has bats in her belfry.
hit the bulls-eye
- to reach or focus on the main point of something
Our manager hit the bulls-eye when he talked about the problems in the company.
hold one`s horses
- to wait, to be patient
"Hold your horses for a moment while I make a phone call."
- used to express strong feelings of astonishment or pleasure or anger
"Holy cow," the man said when he saw the car that hit the street lamp.
- to walk or run (a hoof is the foot of a horse or sheep or cow etc.)
I decided to hoof it when I came downtown this morning.
- to play around (in a rough way)
The teacher told the children not to horse around while they were getting ready for clno.
a horse of a different color
- another matter entirely, something else, something different than the subject that is being discussed
Changing locations is a horse of a different color and was never discussed in the meeting.
- common sense, practical thinking
The boy does not have any horse sense and often makes the wrong decision.
- to bargain in a hard and skillful way
We had to do some horse trading but finally we were able to buy the new house.
to hound (someone)
- to pursue or chase someone, to harno someone
The manager is always hounding the younger members of her staff to make them work hard.
in a pig`s eye
- unlikely, not so, never
Never in a pig`s eye will my friend be able to save enough money to go to Mexico for the winter.
in the doghouse
- in disgrace or disfavor, in trouble
The man is in the doghouse with his wife because he came home late last night.
in two shakes of a lamb's tail
- very quickly
I promised that I would meet my friend in two shakes of a lamb's tail.
- an illegal court formed by a group of people to settle a dispute among themselves
The military court in the small country was a kangaroo court that permitted the military to do whatever they wanted.
keep the wolf from the door
- to maintain oneself at the most basic level
My friend's part-time job is enough for him to keep the wolf from the door.
keep the wolves at bay
- to fight against some kind of trouble
Many people are angry about the new tax. The government has to work hard to keep the wolves at bay.
kill the fatted calf
- to prepare an elaborate banquet for someone
We will kill the fatted calf and have a big feast for my parents.
lead a dog`s life
- to lead a miserable life
The man is leading a dog`s life since he married the woman who everyone told him not to marry.
a leopard can't change its spots
- you cannot change someone's basic human nature or bad qualities
The manager wrote a letter of apology to the customer but a leopard can't change its spots. The manager has not changed and the letter does not mean anything.