Most useful Idioms & Phrases for SSC CGL Exam

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Hello Friends,

Idiom and phrases is one of the most scoring sections of SSC CGL examination. It has been observed that over the years there are a fixed number of questions that appear in SSC CGL examination and if a student has covered them well he can have them all correct in no time. By getting the idiom and phrases correct a student can ensure a better score as most aspirants ignore this scoring section. Idioms and phrases is a vast topic and one might come across hundreds of them, but it is essential to study only the important ones. SSC CGL has had a record of repeating the idioms and phrases and student along with learning new idioms and phrases should all keep an eye on the old ones as well.




An idiom is a phrase or an expression that has a figurative, or sometimes-literal meaning. Categorized as formulaic language an idioms figurative meaning is different from the literal meaning.  Here in this article we are going to discuss some idioms and phrases that are useful for Tier 1 of SSC CGL exam.

Apple pie order– in order, neat and clean

An apple of discord– cause of quarrel

After one’s own heart- of one’s own liking

A bull in a china shop– a wrong person in some delicate situation

A stich in time saves nine– to do the right thing at the right time to save time

A household name– become famous

At sea– to be puzzled or to be confused

Add fuel to fire– to worsen a conflict between people

At a stone’s throw– a very short distance

As sound as a bell– undamaged

Above board– legal and honest

Average itself out– show equal value

At someone’s beck and call– always ready to obey someone

A storm in a teacup– big fuss over small matters

At loose ends– in an uncertain situation

Bury the hatchet– to make peace

Beside oneself– to be in extreme state of emotion

Beat the air– to do something useless

Build castles in the air– to make plans that will never come true

Bring to book– to punish, to call to account

Bell the cat– to attempt or agree to perform an impossibly difficult task

Burn a hole in the pocket– to cause to be tempted to spend money

Blue blood– an aristocrat or a person of noble birth

Blue murder– making noise or fuss about something that one doesn’t like

Bad blood– anger between people, enmity

Beat black and blue– bruised physically or emotionally

Bone of contention– cause of quarrel

Barking up the wrong tree– try to find something at a wrong place

Broke Priscian’s head– use bad grammar

Cut both ways– to have a good and a bad effect at the same time

Curtain lecture– cautionary talk given in private

Chip off the old block– resembling one’s parents in habits

Clip one’s wings– to weaken the power

Come to a standstill-  to come to a sudden halt

Cross one’s mind– to come to think

Call a spade a spade– to be frank, to tell the truth

Cut and dried– decided in a way that cannot be changed

Cool his heels– keep waiting

Cret around– avoid

Case of dropsy– when a person keeps dropping things

Cloak and dagger– an activity that involves mystery and scenery

Cut short– interrupt

Dime a dozen– Very plentiful

Draw a herring– to introduce information that diverts attention from the main issue

Do a roaring trade– highly successful

Ended in– yielded no practical result

Eat a humble pie– to act apologetically

From stem to stem– all the way from front of the ship to back

Fight shy of something– to be unwilling to accept something or do something and try to avoid it

Follow your nose– to go straightforward

Go by the name– to be known by the name of

Go through ducks and drakes- spending foolishly

Go through the hoop– be made to undergo grueling test

Go haywire– to stop working correctly or become out of control

Hope against hope– to hope in a hopeless situation

Have the gift of the gab– to speak fluently

Hit below the belt– to give an unfair blow

Haul over coals– to scold or reprimand

Have an iron will– to have a strong will power

Halcyon days– Calm, peaceful days

Heart and soul– to do something with great deal of energy and enthusiasm

Hold somebody to ransom– to demand something from someone by threatening him or her of harmful consequence if they do not comply

Hold your horses– wait a moment and not be excited

Hook, line and sinker– completely

Iron hand– with strictness

Iron will– to have strong will power

Iron in the fire– many pieces of work at the same time

It takes two to tango– both sides are equally responsible

It takes two to make a quarrel– both sides are equally responsible

In all but name– having all authority except the official post

Ill at ease– uncomfortable or embarrassed

In a fix– in a bad situation

In the swim– well informed and up to date

In the air– certain

Know the ropes– learn the procedure

Keep body and soul together– to have just enough to sustain

Large as life and twice as ugly– appear in a particular place

Make one’s mark– distinguish oneself

Mare’s nest– worthless thing

Nine-day wonder– short-lived happiness

Not one iota– not even a little

New kid on the block– new entry

Nothing to write home about– very simple

One in a million/one in a thousand- very rare

Out of the block– from a starting position as in race

Over egg the pudding– add unnecessary details

Plain as pikestaff- clearly visible

Palm off- to dispose off with the intent to deceive

Rule with an iron fist– to rule with strictness

Rubbed him up in the wrong way– irritated him

Ruffle somebody’s feather- annoy somebody

Strike while the iron is hot- to do something at the right time

Six feet under– to die

Seventh heaven– extreme happiness

Shank’s pony– on foot

Spic and span– neat and clean

Set about– started

Salad days– adolescence

Salt of the earth– ideal people

Swelled head– pride

Sow the dragon’s teeth– to take some action

Spilled the bean– to give information

Throw in the towel– acknowledge defeat

To kill two birds with one stone– to have an advantage of more than one thing in a single attempt

To give up the ghost- to die

To cut a sorry figure– to leave poor impression

To take the bull by the horns- to take on a problem bravely

Thick as two short planks– very stupid

To cudgel one’s brain– to think hard

To drive up the wall– to make someone angry

Turn over a new leaf– to change one’s behavior for better

Wild goose chase– baseless effort

Wet his whistle– have a drink

Will-o-wisp – unreal imagining




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