Idioms (M)

not made of money

meaning: “I don’t have enough money to waste it on stupid things”

1. “Go buy your own! I’m not made of money!”
make money hand over fist

meaning: to continuously make a lot of money from an idea of project

1. Ever since he left his office job and went into business by himself, he has been making money hand over fist.
make a killing

meaning: make a great deal of money from an idea or project

1. He made a killing on some business idea out east, then came home looking to find the girl he left behind.

2. “If everything goes to plan, and with a little bit of luck, we should make a killing off this.”
make a mint

meaning: to make a lot of money from an idea of project

1. They’re making a mint selling second hand books online to students. I wish I had thought of that.
make a meal of (something)

meaning: to make something far more difficult than it should be; to make a mess of an easy task; to exaggerate how hurt or injured you are in order to get sympathy

1. “Dave is making a complete meal out of setting up his shelves. It shouldn’t be that hard.”

2. He has a bad habit of making a meal out of every tackle: it seems that every 5 minutes he is rolling on the floor crying.

3. “I think you are making a bit of a meal of this. I only said I didn’t like your new haircut, not that I think you are ugly.”
make a pig's ear of (something)

meaning: to make a big mess of an easy task

1. Anna has never asked Dave to help her with DIY since he made a pig’s ear out of decorating the nursery.

2. “Can you have a look at this for me? I’m afraid I’m making a pig’s ear of it.”
make ends meet

meaning: to make sure the money coming in equals the money being spent; to make sure you have enough money to live

1. They have been struggling to make ends meet ever since Dave lost his job at the shoe factory.

2. “I’m not sure if I will be able to make ends meet next month. So if you know of any work, let me know. I’ll do anything.”
make headway

meaning: make progress

1. The city council has made good headway in getting the new subway line designed and ready to open. Hopefully it will be finished early next year.

2. “It hasn’t been a good start, but I think now we are making some headway.”
make or break

meaning: the moment at which a project will either succeed or fail

1. “This next project is make or break for Dave. The bosses have wanted to fire him for a while, but if he can succeed in this one they will probably keep him.
make (your) blood boil

meaning: make you very angry

1. “Every time I see him with her it makes my blood boil. I can’t believe he stole my girlfriend.”
make (your) flesh crawl

meaning: make you scared, uncomfortable, creeped out and disgusted

1. Spiders really make my skin crawl.

2. Whenever I see a rich old man marrying a young 20-year old, it makes my skin crawl.
make (your) toes curl

meaning: make you embarrassed or disgusted

1. Watching Dave try to chat to women made Phil’s toes curl. It was horrible to watch.
make (yourself) scarce

meaning: keep a low profile; make sure other people don’t notice you for a while

1. A good PA knows when to fight for a client’s needs, and when to make himself scarce.

2. “When the bosses come here, make yourself scarce: the last thing I want is for them to see you here.”
man's best friend

meaning: a dog

1. Dave was happy in his retirement: a nice house, a wonderful wife, and man’s best friend to walk with him each morning next to the river.

2. “Why do you need a wife, when you have man’s best friend: loyal, trusting, and incapable of talking?”
(a) man of letters

meaning: an intellectual person who enjoys reading and writing

1. In the past there were great writers, great men of letters who thought carefully about deep topics. Now there are a thousand books about people falling in love with vampires.

2. “When I retire I would like to become a man of letters, sitting at my window in an old house in the countryside.”
a man's man

meaning: a man who can do ‘masculine’ things well, and is therefore respected by other men (often used unseriously)

1. Dave enjoys knitting, and last week, for his birthday, he invited everyone to the ice dancing. I wouldn’t say he is a man’s man.

2. “Ha, you won’t find me doing girly things like yoga! I’m a man’s man. I like to get my exercise outside, hiking up mountains, cutting down trees, fighting bears…”
(the) man upstairs

meaning: God

1. Before he died, Phil tried to make peace with the man upstairs. We only hope he was successful.
(the) man on the street

meaning: the average person; the average member of public

1. Over the last decade the man on the street has lost faith in both politics and business.
major league

meaning: an important, serious, or top level example of its kind

1. It was a major league disaster, and Dave only hoped he had could escape without losing too much money.

2. “I’m tired of Dave. He seems like a major league pain the ass.”
make a monkey of (someone)

meaning: embarrass someone; make a fool out of someone

1. If there was one thing Anna enjoyed, it was making a monkey out of the boys who wanted to date her. She would pretend she was interested, and then crush them.

2. “I’m OK teaching the class, but I am not going to stand here while you make a monkey out of me. I am a teacher, not a clown!”
mark my words

meaning: “You may think this impossible, but remember I am saying this is going to be true.”

1. “You may laugh now, but mark my words, in a year you’ll be begging me for a job.”
(a) marked man

meaning: a person others are watching, want to get, or want to hurt, because they see that person as a threat

1. Ever since he scored 3 against United, he has become a marked man.

2. The President has become something of a marked man since he annoyed congress and the public with his tax reform package. I think it will be very difficult for him to get decisions done in the future
many moons ago

meaning: a long time ago

1. “I was a great player once, but that was many moons ago.”
a matter of life and death

meaning: something of great importance; something that, if it fails, will mean disaster

1. “I don’t know why you are so angry about me spilling some wine on your trousers. I know it is annoying, but it is hardly a matter of life and death.”

2. “Take this letter to the general, and do not delay. It is a matter of life and death.”
May-December romance

meaning: a romance between an old person and a young person

1. The celebrity magazine had another article about the May-December romance between the two actors. Most people don’t think it will last, and it is just a publicity stunt.

2. Most people don’t like the idea of a May-December romance, but if one person is looking for security, and the other excitement, why should they not try it?
money burning a hole in (my) pocket

meaning: money that you want to urgently spend just because you have it

1. Dave’s job pays him well, but every pay day he finds he suddenly has money burning a hole in his pocket, and by the end of the week he has spent it all.

2. “My parents gave me a $100 note last week, ever since when it has been burning a hole in my pocket.”
money for old rope

meaning: making good money for old, unoriginal ideas

1. Many people say that working on the board of a university is money for old rope – what do these people actually do?
money laundering

meaning: ‘washing money’; turning criminal money into ‘clean’ money by putting it through a business

1. Money laundering is a crime, but a difficult one to spot.

2. He was convicted of money laundering, using his casino as a way to pass his drug money into his accounts.
money talks

meaning: when a big decision is being made, money will make the decision; money drives decisions and power

1. “I’m afraid, on this matter, money talks. Your idea is very nice, but we have to go with the biggest offer. Sorry.”
money to burn

meaning: have a lot of extra money to spend on anything you want

1. They told Dave to talk to Anna about her investing in his company; after all, she always seemed to have money to burn.

2. “I’m afraid I can’t go on holiday at the moment. I don’t really have any money to burn.”
monkey see, monkey do

meaning: children copy the actions of people they see

1. “The kids stealing is just a case of monkey see, monkey do: they get it from their father.”
(a)moot point

meaning: a point that should be important, except something else more important has made it unnecessary

1. “Hawaii or the Seychelles? Both would be great, but it’s a moot point: I have to work.”
(the) moral high ground

meaning: a morally superior opinion or action; the ‘right thing’, which is not necessarily the popular thing

1. “The one thing about you is you always take the moral high ground. I don’t think you would do anything evil, no matter how much money I offered.”
(have) a mountain to climb

meaning: have to overcome a lot of obstacles in order to be successful; succeeding now will be very difficult

1. United have just scored again. Now City have a mountain to climb.
move Heaven and Earth

meaning: to do anything and everything in order to achieve something.

1. He promised her he would move Heaven and Earth for her if she married him.
move the goalposts

meaning: to change the definition of success

1. I’m tired of them always moving the goalposts: at first they said I only needed to improve the finances; then they said I had to double the profits. Now I have to make us the number one company in the sector.
mover and shaker

meaning: important person who can get things done in society (especially arts or business)

1. The party was filled with the city’s movers and shakers: artists, musicians, business leaders and even the mayor.
much ado about nothing

meaning: a lot of fuss or excitement about nothing important

1. The whole scandal was much ado about nothing: he only met her for coffee, once, and nothing happened. The rest was the newspapers inventing a story.
mum's the word

meaning: “Don’t worry, I’ll keep it secret”; “Please keep it a secret” (spoken)

1. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell her. Mum’s the word.”
mummy's boy

meaning: a boy or man who does what his mother wants rather than being independent; a man who wants to be close to his mother

1. “Dave is alright, but a bit of a mummy’s boy. He needs to grow up a bit.”
music to (my) ears

meaning: ‘That is great to hear!” (spoken)

1. The exams being delayed for an extra month was music to his ears; he needed more time to study, otherwise he would surely fail.

2. “She wants to see me? That’s music to my ears.”
mutton dressed as lamb

meaning: a middle-aged or old person (usually a woman) who is trying to dress like a young sexy person

1. “Phil’s mum is a bit embarrassing: she still gets drunk twice a week, and her clothes make her look like mutton dressed as lamb.”