27 Idioms for Work + Quiz


In the workplace, these phrases can help you sound like a pro and make communication more fun. Let’s dive into some popular idioms used at work, understand what they mean, and see how to use them in sentences.

idioms for work

What is an Idiom for Work?

An idiom for work is a phrase that has a meaning different from the meanings of its individual words.

These phrases are often used to describe situations, actions, or thoughts related to the workplace in a creative and figurative way.

IdiomMeaningExample Sentence
Back to the Drawing BoardStarting over again with a new plan or idea after a failure.Our marketing strategy didn’t work, so it’s back to the drawing board.
Ball is in Your CourtIt’s your decision or responsibility to do something next.I’ve done my part of the project, now the ball is in your court.
Bite the BulletTo bravely face a difficult or unpleasant task.I hate giving bad news, but I have to bite the bullet and tell the team about the budget cuts.
Bring to the TableTo offer something valuable or useful in a situation or discussion.Jake brings a lot of tech expertise to the table in our startup.
Burn the Midnight OilTo work late into the night or early morning.We have to burn the midnight oil to finish this project on time.
Call it a DayTo stop working for the rest of the day.We’ve accomplished a lot, let’s call it a day and continue tomorrow.
Climb the Corporate LadderTo advance in a company’s hierarchy.She’s ambitious and plans to climb the corporate ladder quickly.
Cut CornersTo do something in the easiest, quickest, or cheapest way, often sacrificing quality.If we cut corners on the product design, it might affect its quality.
Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One BasketDon’t rely on a single plan or resource.We should diversify our investments and not put all our eggs in one basket.
Get Down to BusinessStart working seriously on something.Let’s stop chatting and get down to business.
Go the Extra MileTo do more than what is expected.She always goes the extra mile to ensure the client is happy.
Hit the Ground RunningTo start something and proceed at a fast pace with enthusiasm.On his first day, he hit the ground running and impressed everyone.
In the Driver’s SeatTo be in control of a situation.With the new promotion, he’s now in the driver’s seat of the project.
Keep Your Eye on the BallTo stay focused on the task at hand.In this fast-paced market, we need to keep our eye on the ball to succeed.
Learn the RopesTo learn how to do a job or task.It took me a few weeks to learn the ropes, but now I’m fully onboard.
Move the GoalpostsTo change the rules or objectives while something is already underway.It’s frustrating how management keeps moving the goalposts each quarter.
On the Same PageThinking in a similar way or having the same understanding as others.Let’s have a meeting to make sure we’re all on the same page about the project.
Play HardballTo be very determined, possibly in a ruthless way, to achieve goals.In negotiations, she’s known to play hardball to get the best deals.
Pull Your WeightTo do your fair share of work.Every team member needs to pull their weight for us to succeed.
Push the EnvelopeTo go beyond the usual limits by creating new ideas or innovations.Our research team is always pushing the envelope with groundbreaking inventions.
Raise the BarTo set a higher standard or expectation.This new software has raised the bar for the entire industry.
Run Out of SteamTo lose momentum or energy.After working hard on the project for months, I’m starting to run out of steam.
Take the Bull by the HornsTo face a challenge or difficult situation head-on.When the crisis hit, our manager took the bull by the horns and led us effectively.
Think Outside the BoxTo think creatively and differently.We need to think outside the box to solve this issue.
Throw in the TowelTo give up or quit.Despite the challenges, we can’t just throw in the towel now.
Under the RadarTo go unnoticed or not attract any attention.He’s been working under the radar, but his contributions are significant.
Up to SpeedTo have the latest information or be fully informed.I just returned from vacation, so I need to get up to speed on what happened.

Metaphors can describe work in various ways, like comparing it to the gears of a well-oiled machine that drive progress. To explore more metaphors for work, you can visit this link: Metaphors for Work. Similarly, similes offer comparisons that make work more relatable, such as saying it’s as demanding as a marathon race. Discover additional similes for work here: Similes for Work.


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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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Idioms for Work

1. Back to the Drawing Board

Meaning: Starting over again with a new plan or idea after a failure.

In a Sentence: Our marketing strategy didn’t work, so it’s back to the drawing board.

2. Ball is in Your Court

Meaning: It’s your decision or responsibility to do something next.

In a Sentence: I’ve done my part of the project, now the ball is in your court.

3. Bite the Bullet

Meaning: To bravely face a difficult or unpleasant task.

In a Sentence: I hate giving bad news, but I have to bite the bullet and tell the team about the budget cuts.

4. Bring to the Table

Meaning: To offer something valuable or useful in a situation or discussion.

In a Sentence: Jake brings a lot of tech expertise to the table in our startup.

5. Burn the Midnight Oil

Meaning: To work late into the night or early morning.

In a Sentence: We have to burn the midnight oil to finish this project on time.

6. Call it a Day

Meaning: To stop working for the rest of the day.

In a Sentence: We’ve accomplished a lot, let’s call it a day and continue tomorrow.

7. Climb the Corporate Ladder

Meaning: To advance in a company’s hierarchy.

In a Sentence: She’s ambitious and plans to climb the corporate ladder quickly.

8. Cut Corners

Meaning: To do something in the easiest, quickest, or cheapest way, often sacrificing quality.

In a Sentence: If we cut corners on the product design, it might affect its quality.

9. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

Meaning: Don’t rely on a single plan or resource.

In a Sentence: We should diversify our investments and not put all our eggs in one basket.

10. Get Down to Business

Meaning: Start working seriously on something.

In a Sentence: Let’s stop chatting and get down to business.

11. Go the Extra Mile

Meaning: To do more than what is expected.

In a Sentence: She always goes the extra mile to ensure the client is happy.

12. Hit the Ground Running

Meaning: To start something and proceed at a fast pace with enthusiasm.

In a Sentence: On his first day, he hit the ground running and impressed everyone.

13. In the Driver’s Seat

Meaning: To be in control of a situation.

In a Sentence: With the new promotion, he’s now in the driver’s seat of the project.

14. Keep Your Eye on the Ball

Meaning: To stay focused on the task at hand.

In a Sentence: In this fast-paced market, we need to keep our eye on the ball to succeed.

15. Learn the Ropes

Meaning: To learn how to do a job or task.

In a Sentence: It took me a few weeks to learn the ropes, but now I’m fully onboard.

16. Move the Goalposts

Meaning: To change the rules or objectives while something is already underway.

In a Sentence: It’s frustrating how management keeps moving the goalposts each quarter.

17. On the Same Page

Meaning: Thinking in a similar way or having the same understanding as others.

In a Sentence: Let’s have a meeting to make sure we’re all on the same page about the project.

18. Play Hardball

Meaning: To be very determined, possibly in a ruthless way, to achieve goals.

In a Sentence: In negotiations, she’s known to play hardball to get the best deals.

19. Pull Your Weight

Meaning: To do your fair share of work.

In a Sentence: Every team member needs to pull their weight for us to succeed.

20. Push the Envelope

Meaning: To go beyond the usual limits by creating new ideas or innovations.

In a Sentence: Our research team is always pushing the envelope with groundbreaking inventions.

21. Raise the Bar

Meaning: To set a higher standard or expectation.

In a Sentence: This new software has raised the bar for the entire industry.

22. Run Out of Steam

Meaning: To lose momentum or energy.

In a Sentence: After working hard on the project for months, I’m starting to run out of steam.

23. Take the Bull by the Horns

Meaning: To face a challenge or difficult situation head-on.

In a Sentence: When the crisis hit, our manager took the bull by the horns and led us effectively.

24. Think Outside the Box

Meaning: To think creatively and differently.

In a Sentence: We need to think outside the box to solve this issue.

25. Throw in the Towel

Meaning: To give up or quit.

In a Sentence: Despite the challenges, we can’t just throw in the towel now.

26. Under the Radar

Meaning: To go unnoticed or not attract any attention.

In a Sentence: He’s been working under the radar, but his contributions are significant.

27. Up to Speed

Meaning: To have the latest information or be fully informed.

In a Sentence: I just returned from vacation, so I need to get up to speed on what happened.

10 Quizzes About The Idiom in The Article

Sure, here are 10 quiz questions related to the idioms mentioned in the article:

  1. What does the idiom “Back to the Drawing Board” mean?
    a) Moving forward with a plan
    b) Starting over with a new plan after a failure
    c) Drawing pictures at work
  2. If someone says, “The ball is in your court,” what are they implying?
    a) They want to play a game of tennis
    b) The decision or responsibility is yours
    c) You should pass the ball to them
  3. What does it mean to “Bite the Bullet”?
    a) To avoid a difficult task
    b) To bravely face a difficult or unpleasant task
    c) To chew on a bullet
  4. If you “Burn the Midnight Oil,” what are you doing?
    a) Relaxing at home
    b) Working late into the night
    c) Sleeping soundly
  5. When someone says, “Let’s call it a day,” what do they mean?
    a) Let’s make a phone call
    b) Let’s continue working all night
    c) Let’s stop working for the rest of the day
  6. What does it mean to “Climb the Corporate Ladder”?
    a) To go on a hiking trip with coworkers
    b) To advance in a company’s hierarchy
    c) To decorate the office
  7. If you “Cut Corners,” what are you doing?
    a) Making a pie
    b) Doing something in the easiest, quickest, or cheapest way, often sacrificing quality
    c) Playing a board game
  8. What’s the meaning of the phrase “Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket”?
    a) Keep all your eggs in one place
    b) Don’t rely on a single plan or resource
    c) Cook all your eggs at once
  9. If someone says, “Let’s get down to business,” what are they suggesting?
    a) Let’s take a break
    b) Let’s stop working
    c) Let’s start working seriously on something
  10. What does it mean to “Think Outside the Box”?
    a) To think creatively and differently
    b) To think inside a literal box
    c) To organize your thoughts in a box

Answers:

  1. b) Starting over with a new plan after a failure
  2. b) The decision or responsibility is yours
  3. b) To bravely face a difficult or unpleasant task
  4. b) Working late into the night
  5. c) Let’s stop working for the rest of the day
  6. b) To advance in a company’s hierarchy
  7. b) Doing something in the easiest, quickest, or cheapest way, often sacrificing quality
  8. b) Don’t rely on a single plan or resource
  9. c) Let’s start working seriously on something
  10. a) To think creatively and differently

Conclusion

Idioms are a fun and effective way to communicate in the workplace. They can add color to our conversations and help us express complex ideas in simple terms. By understanding and using these phrases, you’ll sound like a seasoned professional and make your communication more engaging.

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