27 Idioms for Business + Quiz


A collection of idioms that are commonly used in the world of business. Don’t worry, we’ll keep things simple and straightforward, making sure you understand each expression clearly.

Let’s dive into the world of business idioms and see how they can help you better understand workplace situations.

Business is like a ship navigating the unpredictable sea of the market, where each decision is a course adjustment that can lead to smooth sailing or stormy waters. For more comparisons to describe business, you can check this link: Similes for business. And for a variety of metaphors related to business, you can explore this link: Metaphors for business.

What is an idiom for business?

An idiom for business is a phrase or expression that people often use in a work-related context to convey a particular message or idea.


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Created by Dr. Julia Rossi

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1 / 20

What is a simile?

2 / 20

Identify the simile in the following sentence: “She swims like a fish.”

3 / 20

What is a metaphor?

4 / 20

Which of the following is a metaphor?

5 / 20

What is an idiom?

6 / 20

What does the idiom “break the ice” mean?

7 / 20

What is an adjective?

8 / 20

Choose the adjective in the following sentence: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

9 / 20

What is an abbreviation?

10 / 20

What does the abbreviation “e.g.” stand for?

11 / 20

What is a verb?

12 / 20

Identify the verb in the following sentence: “The cat sleeps on the sofa.”

13 / 20

“Out of the frying pan into the fire” is an example of:

14 / 20

Which of the following is an adjective?

15 / 20

The abbreviation “NASA” stands for:

16 / 20

Choose the metaphor in the following sentence: “Time is a thief.”

17 / 20

What does the idiom “hit the books” mean?

18 / 20

Which of the following sentences contains a simile?

19 / 20

“LOL” is an abbreviation for:

20 / 20

Identify the verb in this sentence: “They whispered secrets into the night.”

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These idioms go beyond the literal meanings of words and can sometimes be a bit tricky to understand if you’re not familiar with them. So, let’s break down these business idioms one by one:

IdiomMeaningExample Sentence
Put all your eggs in one basketTo invest everything into one thing, often risky.“She decided to put all her eggs in one basket and invest in that startup.”
Cutting cornersTo take shortcuts, often leading to lower quality.“They finished the project early by cutting corners, but the quality suffered.”
Thinking outside the boxTo come up with creative and unconventional solutions.“Our team needs to start thinking outside the box to solve this complex problem.”
Hitting the ground runningTo start a new endeavor with enthusiasm and preparation.“She joined the company and immediately hit the ground running, impressing everyone.”
Ballpark figureAn approximate or rough estimate.“Can you give me a ballpark figure for the budget of this project?”
Biting the bulletTo face a difficult situation with courage.“We had to bite the bullet and lay off some employees to keep the company afloat.”
Blue-sky thinkingCreative brainstorming without constraints.In our blue-sky thinking session, let’s come up with wild ideas for the new marketing campaign.
Break the iceTo initiate a conversation or interaction.“John decided to break the ice with a joke before starting the important meeting.”
Call it a dayTo decide to stop working for the day.“It’s getting late; let’s call it a day and continue working on this project tomorrow.”
Close the dealTo successfully complete a business transaction.“After months of negotiations, they were finally able to close the deal with the new client.”
Don’t count your chickens before they hatchDon’t make plans until something actually happens.“We shouldn’t celebrate the contract yet; let’s not count our chickens before they hatch.”
Drop the ballTo make a mistake or fail to complete a task.“He dropped the ball by not sending the important report on time.”
Get the ball rollingTo start a project or initiative and initiate progress.“Let’s get the ball rolling on the new marketing campaign; time is of the essence.”
Go the extra mileTo make an additional effort beyond what’s expected.“He always goes the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction.”
In the redTo be in a financial deficit.“The company has been in the red for the past two quarters.”
Keep your eye on the ballTo stay focused on your goal.“To succeed in this project, we must keep our eye on the ball and avoid distractions.”
On the same pageTo be in agreement or have the same understanding.“Before we proceed, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page regarding the project timeline.”
Play hardballTo adopt a tough and aggressive approach in negotiations.“They decided to play hardball during the contract negotiations to get the best terms.”
Raise the barTo set higher standards or expectations.“With this new product launch, we aim to raise the bar in customer satisfaction.”
Square the circleTo attempt to solve an impossible problem.“Trying to satisfy both the budget and the client’s demands feels like trying to square the circle.”
Take the bull by the hornsTo face a difficult situation directly and with determination.“To resolve the issue, we need to take the bull by the horns and address it head-on.”
The bottom lineThe final and most important result, often related to finances.“The bottom line is that the company needs to cut costs to remain profitable.”
Think on your feetTo make quick and effective decisions in unexpected situations.“During the crisis, she had to think on her feet to come up with a solution.”
Turn the tablesTo change a situation or gain an advantage unexpectedly.“With a brilliant marketing strategy, they managed to turn the tables and surpass their competition.”
Wheel and dealTo engage in complex or shrewd business dealings.“He’s known for his ability to wheel and deal in the world of real estate.”
Win-win situationA situation where all parties benefit.“The partnership created a win-win situation for both companies.”
Work your fingers to the boneTo work extremely hard with dedication.“She worked her fingers to the bone to meet the project’s tight deadline.”
idioms for business

Idioms for Business

1. Put all your eggs in one basket

Meaning: To invest all your time, money, or resources into one single thing, often with risks involved.

In a Sentence: “She decided to put all her eggs in one basket and invested all her savings into that startup.”

2. Cutting corners

Meaning: To take shortcuts or skip essential steps to save time or money, often leading to lower quality results.

In a Sentence: “They finished the project early by cutting corners, but the quality suffered.”

3. Thinking outside the box

Meaning: To come up with creative and unconventional solutions, looking beyond traditional methods.

In a Sentence: “Our team needs to start thinking outside the box to solve this complex problem.”

4. Hitting the ground running

Meaning: To start a new project or job with a lot of energy and enthusiasm, being fully prepared.

In a Sentence: “She joined the company and immediately hit the ground running, impressing everyone.”

5. Ballpark figure

Meaning: An approximate or rough estimate, not an exact number.

In a Sentence: “Can you give me a ballpark figure for the budget of this project?”

6. Biting the bullet

Meaning: To face a difficult or unpleasant situation with courage and determination.

In a Sentence: “We had to bite the bullet and lay off some employees to keep the company afloat.”

7. Blue-sky thinking

Meaning: Creative and imaginative brainstorming without any constraints or limitations.

In a Sentence: “In our blue-sky thinking session, let’s come up with wild ideas for the new marketing campaign.”

8. Break the ice

Meaning: To initiate a conversation or interaction to make people feel more comfortable in a social or business setting.

In a Sentence: “John decided to break the ice with a joke before starting the important meeting.”

9. Call it a day

Meaning: To decide to stop working or put an end to an activity for the day.

In a Sentence: “It’s getting late; let’s call it a day and continue working on this project tomorrow.”

10. Close the deal

Meaning: To successfully complete a business transaction, agreement, or negotiation.

In a Sentence: “After months of negotiations, they were finally able to close the deal with the new client.”

11. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

Meaning: To not make plans or expect something to happen until it actually does.

In a Sentence: “We shouldn’t celebrate the contract yet; let’s not count our chickens before they hatch.”

12. Drop the ball

Meaning: To make a mistake or fail to complete a task, often resulting in a missed opportunity.

In a Sentence: “He dropped the ball by not sending the important report on time.”

13. Get the ball rolling

Meaning: To start a project or initiative and initiate progress.

In a Sentence: “Let’s get the ball rolling on the new marketing campaign; time is of the essence.”

14. Go the extra mile

Meaning: To make an additional effort or do more than what is expected or required.

In a Sentence: “He always goes the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction.”

15. In the red

Meaning: To be in a financial deficit or to have negative financial results.

In a Sentence: “The company has been in the red for the past two quarters.”

16. Keep your eye on the ball

Meaning: To stay focused on your goal or objective and not get distracted.

In a Sentence: “To succeed in this project, we must keep our eye on the ball and avoid unnecessary distractions.”

17. On the same page

Meaning: To be in agreement or have the same understanding about a particular topic or situation.

In a Sentence: “Before we proceed, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page regarding the project timeline.”

18. Play hardball

Meaning: To adopt a tough and aggressive approach in negotiations or business dealings.

In a Sentence: “They decided to play hardball during the contract negotiations to get the best terms.”

19. Raise the bar

Meaning: To set higher standards or expectations for performance or quality.

In a Sentence: “With this new product launch, we aim to raise the bar in terms of customer satisfaction.”

20. Square the circle

Meaning: To attempt to solve an impossible or extremely difficult problem.

In a Sentence: “Trying to satisfy both the budget and the client’s demands feels like trying to square the circle.”

21. Take the bull by the horns

Meaning: To face a difficult situation directly and with determination.

In a Sentence: “To resolve the issue, we need to take the bull by the horns and address it head-on.”

22. The bottom line

Meaning: The final and most important result or conclusion, often related to financial matters.

In a Sentence: “The bottom line is that the company needs to cut costs to remain profitable.”

23. Think on your feet

Meaning: To make quick and effective decisions in response to unexpected situations.

In a Sentence: “During the crisis, she had to think on her feet to come up with a solution.”

24. Turn the tables

Meaning: To change a situation or gain an advantage, often in a surprising way.

In a Sentence: “With a brilliant marketing strategy, they managed to turn the tables and surpass their competition.”

25. Wheel and deal

Meaning: To engage in negotiations, often involving complex or shrewd business dealings.

In a Sentence: “He’s known for his ability to wheel and deal in the world of real estate.”

26. Win-win situation

Meaning: A situation where all parties involved benefit or gain something positive.

In a Sentence: “The partnership between the two companies created a win-win situation for both of them.”

27. Work your fingers to the bone

Meaning: To work extremely hard, putting in a lot of effort and dedication.

In a Sentence: “She worked her fingers to the bone to meet the project’s tight deadline.”

Quizzes About The Idioms in The Article

Here are 10 quiz questions related to the business idioms discussed in the article:

Quiz 1:

  1. What does the idiom “Cutting corners” mean?
  • a) Taking a shortcut to get ahead
  • b) Completing a task with precision
  • c) Achieving a goal with ease
  • d) Following the traditional method

Quiz 2:

  1. Which idiom refers to starting a new project or job with enthusiasm and preparation?
  • a) Thinking outside the box
  • b) Close the deal
  • c) Hitting the ground running
  • d) Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

Quiz 3:

  1. What is the meaning of the idiom “In the red”?
  • a) Being financially successful
  • b) Having negative financial results
  • c) Making a profit
  • d) Starting a new venture

Quiz 4:

  1. What does the expression “Play hardball” imply in business?
  • a) To engage in sports activities during work hours
  • b) To adopt a tough and aggressive approach in negotiations
  • c) To prioritize fun over work
  • d) To avoid business dealings

Quiz 5:

  1. Which idiom suggests making an additional effort beyond what is expected?
  • a) Close the deal
  • b) Go the extra mile
  • c) Keep your eye on the ball
  • d) Turn the tables

Quiz 6:

  1. When someone says, “Put all your eggs in one basket,” what are they advising against?
  • a) Diversifying investments
  • b) Investing cautiously
  • c) Spreading resources
  • d) Concentrating everything into one risky venture

Quiz 7:

  1. What does “Biting the bullet” mean in a business context?
  • a) Avoiding difficult decisions
  • b) Facing a challenging situation with courage
  • c) Firing employees indiscriminately
  • d) Delaying important tasks

Quiz 8:

  1. Which idiom implies coming up with creative and unconventional solutions?
  • a) Ballpark figure
  • b) Blue-sky thinking
  • c) Get the ball rolling
  • d) Think on your feet

Quiz 9:

  1. What does the expression “Raise the bar” mean?
  • a) Lowering expectations
  • b) Setting higher standards or expectations
  • c) Keeping things unchanged
  • d) Completing tasks quickly

Quiz 10:

  1. When should you “Call it a day”?
    • a) At the beginning of the workday
    • b) When you’re feeling tired
    • c) When you want to continue working
    • d) At the end of the workday

Answers:

  1. a) Taking a shortcut to get ahead
  2. c) Hitting the ground running
  3. b) Having negative financial results
  4. b) To adopt a tough and aggressive approach in negotiations
  5. b) Go the extra mile
  6. d) Concentrating everything into one risky venture
  7. b) Facing a challenging situation with courage
  8. b) Blue-sky thinking
  9. b) Setting higher standards or expectations
  10. d) At the end of the workday

Conclusion

Understanding these business idioms can help you navigate workplace conversations and situations more effectively. They add a layer of depth to your understanding of business concepts and can make you a more effective communicator in professional settings.

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