General Awareness - SPLessons

Chapter 29

The Most Common Business Idioms

The Most Common Business Idioms

There are numerous idioms utilized as a part of the business world. In the event that you don’t understand these expressions, it’s anything but difficult to become mixed up in a discussion. The following is an outline of the absolute most common idioms utilized at work. Although most of these idioms are utilized as a part of both British and American English, the chart was designed to incorporate the most common business idioms in American English.

The below are the list of the most common Business Idioms.
A:

Idiom Meaning Example
A tough break When something unfortunate happens, it can be called a “tough break.” It was a tough break for us when john quit. He was one of our top performers.
A head of the curve To be “ahead of the curve” means to be more advanced than the competition. We’re investing a lot of money in the business so we can stay ahead of the curve.
Ahead of the pack To be “ahead of the pack” means to be better or more successful than the competition. If we want to stay ahead of the pack, we’re going to have to work hard and continue to innovate.
ASAP “ASAP” is an acronym for the “as soon as possible”. I need to finish the task as soon as possible
At stake “at stake” means “at risk” Thousands of lives will be at stake if emergency aid doesn’t arrive in the city soon.

B:

Idiom Meaning Example
back to the drawing board To go “back to the drawing board” means to start something over and go back to the planning stage of something. The prototype wasn’t successful. We have to go back to the drawing board.
ballpark number A “ballpark number” is a very inexact estimate. We’ll have to go away and cost this carefully, but as a ballpark figure I’d say that it’ll be about ten million rupees.
backroom deal A “backroom deal” is an agreement or decision that is made without the public knowing about it. I think they got the government contract because of a backroom deal.
big picture Everything that is involved with a particular situation is called “the big picture.” Today have seen a big picture.
by the book To do things “by the book” means to do things according to company policy or the law. It means to follow the rules 100%. We are regularly audited by several regulatory agencies. It’s important that we do everything by the book.

C:

Idiom Meaning Example
call it a day To “call it a day” means to decide to stop working for the day. Well, John, it’s 7:00 and I’m getting sleep. How about we call it a day?
cave (or cave in) To “cave” or “cave in” means to give in or agree to something that someone previously did not want to accept. The employees complained about the change in policy, but the supervisor refused to cave in.
change of pace “A change of pace” is something different from a normal routine or schedule. It’s nice to go on business trips because it’s a change of pace.
corner a market To “corner a market” means to dominate a particular market. Apple has cornered the market on mp3 players. They have a large percentage of market share.

D:

Idiom Meaning Example
diamond in the rough A “diamond in the rough” is something or someone that has a lot of potential but first requires a lot of work. He was a diamond in the rough. He was intelligent and had great ideas, but his management and English skills weren’t very good.

E:

Idiom Meaning Example
easy come, easy go “Easy come, easy go,” is an expression used to communicate that something gained easily is also lost easily. We often use this expression after something has been lost. A lot of people who inherit money waste it on stupid things. I guess it’s easy come, easy go.

F:

Idiom Meaning Example
fifty-fifty “Fifty-fifty” means something is divided equally — 50% for one party, 50% for the other party. My partner and I shares everything fifty-fifty.
from the ground up If you start a business, project, or something else from zero, you start it “from the ground up.” Mark Zuckerberg built facebook from the ground up.

G:

Idiom Meaning Example
game plan A “game plan” is a strategy or plan. They’re not sure what their game plan is for the upcoming election.
get down to business To “get down to business” means to stop making small talk and start talking about serious topics related to business. Now that everyone’s here, let’s get down to business and talk about the proposal.
get something off the ground To “get something off the ground” means to start a project or business. We’re glad the planning process is over. We’re looking forward to getting the project off the ground.
give the thumbs down To “give something or someone the thumbs down” means to deny approval. I can’t believe she gave us the thumbs down. I thought it was a great idea.

H:

Idiom Meaning Example
have someone’s work cut out If you have a lot of work to do or a particularly difficult assignment, you “have your work cut out for you.” She has to sell $35,000 worth of products by the end of the month. She has her work cut out for her.
hit the nail on the head To “hit the nail on the head” means to do or say something 100% correctly. I agree with John 100%. I think he really hit the nail on the head.

I:

Idiom Meaning Example
in full swing If a project is “in full swing,” it means that it has been completely started and that it is progressing or moving as fast as it ever will. Construction on the new site is in full swing now.
in the black If a company is “in the black,” it means that it is making a profit. We’re not having a great year, but at least we’re in the black.
in the driver’s seat To be “in the driver’s seat” means to be in control. I’m not used to being in the driver’s seat. I should probably buy some management books.
in a nutshell “In a nutshell” means in a few words. In a nutshell, this book is about how to motivate employees.

K:

Idiom Meaning Example
keep one’s eye on the ball To “keep one’s eye on the ball” means to give something one’s full attention and to not lose focus. I know we can do it. We just need to keep our eyes on the ball and not lose focus.

L:

Idiom Meaning Example
learn the ropes To “learn the ropes” means to learn the basics of something. I like my new position. I’m starting to learn the ropes.
long shot A “long shot” is something that has a very low probability of happening. Winning the lottery is a long shot, but millions of people still buy lottery tickets.
lose ground To “lose ground” means to lose some type of an advantage (market share, for example) to a competitor. Apple lost some ground to Samsung last quarter.

N:

Idiom Meaning Example
no brainer If a decision is really obvious or really easy to make, the decision is a “no brainer.” Taking the new job was a no brainer. They offered me more money, a better schedule, and more vacation days.
nine-to-five A “nine-to-five” is a job during normal working hours. The term came into existence because many work days start at 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. She was tired of working a nine-to-five job, so she took her savings and opened a restaurant.
no strings attached If something is given without expecting anything in return, it is given with “no strings attached.” They will let you try the product for free with no strings attached. If you don’t like it, there is no pressure to buy it.
no time to lose If there is “no time to lose,” it means that there is a lot of pressure to finish something quickly. I told them I’d be finished by the end of the day and it’s already 4:45. I need to get to work. There’s no time to lose.

O:

Idiom Meaning Example
on a roll If someone is “on a roll,” it means that he or she has had several successes in a row. Our profits have been above our projected numbers for five months in a row. We’re really on a roll.
on the ball To be “on the ball” means to be alert and aware of things. My new personal assistant is working out well. He’s really on the ball.
on the same page page If two people are “on the same page,” they are in agreement about something. Let’s go over the details of what we agreed on to make sure we’re on the same page.
on your toes To be “on your toes” means to be alert. Stay on your toes. Anything can happen.

P:

Idiom Meaning Example
pink slip Someone who gets the “pink slip,” has been fired by their employer. They gave him the pink slip. He wasn’t performing very well.
play hardball To “play hardball” means to be competitive in a cruel and merciless way. Playing hardball means doing anything possible to win. He played hardball to get where he is, so I would be careful what you say and do around him.
put all one’s eggs in one basket To “put all one’s eggs in one basket,” means to rely on only one thing to bring success. It’s not good to only invest in the stock market. You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket.
put the cart before the horse To “put the cart before the horse” means to do or think about things in the wrong order. They were trying to find investors without even having a business plan. They were putting the cart before the horse.

R:

Idiom Meaning Example
raise the bar To “raise the bar” means to set the standards or expectations higher, usually by achieving or creating something better than what had previously existed. The new software is getting great reviews. It looks like the bar has been raised for the competition.
rock the boat To rock the boat means to cause problems or disrupt a peaceful situation. I’d ask for a raise, but I don’t want to rock the boat.
round-the-clock “Round the clock” means 24 hours a day. We have round-the-clock production at all our manufacturing facilities.
run/go around in circles To “run (or go) around in circles” means to do the same thing over and over again without getting any results. Everyone kept restating their opinions but nothing was agreed on. We were running around in circles.

S:

Idiom Meaning Example
safe bet A “safe bet” means something that will probably happen. It’s a safe bet that smartphones will be much more advanced in 10 years.
same boat If people are in the same situation, they are in the “same boat.” We’re all worried about losing our jobs. We’re in the same boat.
see eye to eye To “see eye to eye” with someone means to agree with that person. We don’t always see eye to eye, but I respect her opinions and appreciate her honesty.
sever ties To “sever ties” means to end a relationship. We had to sever ties with several of our suppliers due to late shipments.
sky’s the limit “The sky’s the limit” if there is no limit to what can be achieved. With their commission structure, the sky’s the limit to what you can earn.

T:

Idiom Meaning Example
talk someone into something To “talk someone into something” means to convince someone to do something. I was hesitant to redesign our website, but my employees talked me into it. I’m glad they did. The new site looks great.
talk someone out of something To “talk someone out of something” means to convince someone not to do something. I wanted to make a real estate investment, but my financial adviser talked me out of it.
the elephant in the room “The elephant in the room” refers to an obvious problem or controversial issue that no one wants to talk about. We should have been talking about our huge debt, but no one wanted to talk about the elephant in the room.
think outside the box To “think outside the box” means to think of creative, unconventional solutions instead of common ones. Creating a product that no one has sold before is an example of thinking outside the box.
throw in the towel To “throw in the towel” means to quit I was trying to learn Portuguese, but I got frustrated and threw in the towel.

U:

Idiom Meaning Example
up in the air If something is undecided, it is “up in the air.” We’re looking for a test market right now, but nothing has been decided yet. Everything’s still up in the air.
uphill battle Something that is difficult to achieve because of obstacles and difficulties is an “uphill battle.” Winning the election is going to be an uphill battle. He doesn’t have much support at the moment.
upper hand If someone has an advantage over someone else, he or she has the “upper hand.” John is more experienced and well respected, so he had the upper hand in the argument.

W:

Idiom Meaning Example
win-win situation A “win-win situation” is a situation where everyone involved gains something. We were happy to get the contract, and they were happy to get such a good price. It was a win-win situation.
word of mouth If something spreads by “word of mouth,” people hear about it through informal conversation with friends, family members, acquaintances, etc. Many local restaurants rely on word of mouth to get new customers.
writing on the wall The “writing on the wall” refers to the evidence and clues that something (usually negative) is going to happen. I’m going to get my resume ready. I can see the writing on the wall.

Y:

Idiom Meaning Example
yes man A “yes man” is someone who always agrees with his or her superiors. The company isn’t looking to hire someone who is going to try to make a lot of changes. They’re just looking for a yes man.


1. 24/7 means?
A. 24 hours a day
B. 24 days in a week
C. 24 months in a year
D. 24 days in a year
Answer-A
2. ASAP is an acronym for?
A. as soon as permanent
B. as soon as principle
C. as soon as possible
D. as soon as please
Answer-C
3. At stake means?
A. back to square one
B. at risk
C. at desk
D. at happy
Answer-B
4. Back to the drawing board means?
A. To do something without someone’s knowledge and in an unfair way.
B. Decision that is made without the public knowing about it.
C. To start something over again.
D. To start something over and go back to the planning stage.
Answer-D
5. Call it a day means?
A. To decide to stop working for the day.
B. To surprise someone by doing something that he or she was not expecting.
C. To dominate a particular market.
D. To take shortcuts and find an easier or cheaper way to do something.
Answer-A
6. Game plan means?
A. Is a market plan
B. Is a Perfect plan
C. Is a strategy or plan.
D. Is a successful plan
Answer-C
7. Get/be on the good side of someone means?
A. To start something
B. On the good side” of that person.
C. To tell someone that they did a good job.
D. To deny approval.
Answer-B
8. Yes man means?
A. Is someone who always agrees with his or her superiors.
B. Something is going to happen.
C. Is a situation where everyone involved gains something.
D. To make contact with someone.
Answer-A
9. Throw in the towel means?
A. The time for something or someone has ended.
B. To quit.
C. To think of creative, unconventional solutions instead of common ones
D. To have ambitious goals and big plans for the future.
Answer-B
10. State of the art means?
A. To what can be achieved.
B. To start something in a positive way.
C. To start something in a negative way.
D. Is modern and technologically advanced.
Answer-D