Top 50 Idioms And Phrases For Competitive Exams

Idioms and Phrases are two important topics for English grammar and learning English. It helps us to understand the inner meaning of a sentence. In every exams whether it is secondary, higher secondary or any competitive exams, it plays an important role. If you are preparing for any competitive exams such as Staff Selection Commission (SSC) exams, Bank exam, State PCS exam, then it becomes more important to practice it regularly. For example in SSC exams, generally there was a English paper and about 3 to 5 questions are direct asked from Idioms and Phrases. So, today we'll share top 50 important Idioms and Phrases for competitive exams. Read this practice set carefully, and we hope that it'll help you in your upcoming exams. 

Idioms And Phrases For Competitive Exams

Choose The Correct Meaning 

1. Green-eyed

     (a) Rich
     (b) Handsome
     (c) Jealous
     (d) Enthusiastic

Answer : (c) Jealous.

2. Elbow room

     (a) Room for elbow
     (b) Ground
     (c) Space
     (d) Freedom

Answer : (d) Freedom.

3. Pillar to post

     (a) Be very busy
     (b) Go to many offices and post letters
     (c) Rush in all directions and suffer much harassment
     (d) Go to all post boxes and post offices

Answer : (c) Rush in all directions and suffer much harassment.

4. Flesh creep

     (a) Worried me
     (b) Drew my attention
     (c) Frightened me
     (d) Confused me

Answer : (c) Frightened me.

5. Mare’s nest

     (a) A noble thing
     (b) A timely sleep
     (c) A false invention
     (d) A successful

Answer : (c) A false invention.

6. A snake in the grass

     (a) A hidden enemy
     (b) Cowardly and brutal
     (c) An unreliable and deceitful person
     (d) Low and mean

Answer : (a) A hidden enemy.

7. A queer fish

     (a) Quarrelsome person
     (b) Sensitive person
     (c) Funny person
     (d) Strange person

Answer : (d) Strange person.

8. Sowing his wild oats

     (a) Becoming a gardener
     (b) Going through a period of irresponsible pleasure seeking
     (c) Becoming a farmer
     (d) A period of wildness

Answer : (b) Going through a period of irresponsible pleasure seeking.

9. As ugly as sin

     (a) Quite ugly
     (b) Very ugly
     (c) Sinfully ugly
     (d) Exceptionally ugly

Answer : (d) Exceptionally ugly.

10. His gift of the gab

     (a) Fluency of speech
     (b) Political foresight
     (c) Flattering words
     (d) Abundance of promises

Answer : (a) Fluency of speech. 


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11. To take with a grain of salt

     (a) To take with some reservation
     (b) To take whole heartedly
     (c) To take with total disbelief
     (d) To take seriously

Answer : (a) To take with some reservation.

12. To cast pearls before a swine

     (a) To spend a lot of money on the unkept of domestic hogs
     (b) To offer to a person a thing which he cannot appreciate
     (c) To spend recklessly
     (d) To waste monkey over trifles

Answer : (b) To offer to a person a thing which he cannot appreciate.

13. To wrangle over an ass’s shadow

     (a) To quarrel over trifles
     (b) To do something funny
     (c) To act in a foolish way
     (d) To waste time on petty things

Answer : (b) To do something funny.

14. To save one’s face

     (a) To hide oneself
     (b) To say plainly
     (c) To oppose
     (d) To evade disgrace

Answer :  (d) To evade disgrace.

15. To snap one’s fingers

     (a) To accept immediately
     (b) To become contemptuous of
     (c) To speak abruptly
     (d) To grasp eagerly

Answer : (b) To become contemptuous of.

16. A tall order

     (a) A bid problem
     (b) A big demand
     (c) A task difficult to perform
     (d) A royal summon

Answer : (c) A task difficult to perform.

17. To take people by storm

     (a) To captivate people unexpectedly
     (b) To surprise people
     (c) To put people in utter surprise
     (d) To exploit people’s agitation

Answer : (a) To captivate people unexpectedly.

18. A dark horse

     (a) A person who wins a race or competition although no one expected him to
     (b) An ignorant person
     (c) A black coloured horse
     (d) An ignorant person

Answer : (a) A person who wins a race or competition although no one expected him to.

19. To split hours

     (a) To sidetrack the issue
     (b) To indulge in over-refined arguments
     (c) To quarrel over trifles
     (d) To find faults with other

Answer : (b) To indulge in over-refined arguments.

20. To turn over a new leaf

     (a) To shift attention to new problems
     (b) To change the old habits and adopt new ones
     (c) To change completely one’s course of action
     (d) To cover up one’s faults by wearing new marks

Answer :  (b) To change the old habits and adopt new ones.

21. Put a spoke in my whee

     (a) Helped in the execution of the plan
     (b) Destroyed the plan
     (c) Tried to cause an accident
     (d) Thwarted the execution of the plan

Answer : (d) Thwarted the execution of the plan.

22. Breathing down

     (a) Abusing and ill-treating him
     (b) Giving him strenuous work
     (c) Watching all his actions closely
     (d) Shouting loudly at him

Answer : (c) Watching all his actions closely.

23. Strained every nerve

     (a) Worked very hard
     (b) Bribed several persons
     (c) Spent a large amount
     (d) Tried all tricks

Answer : (a) Worked very hard.

24. In the offing

     (a) About to start
     (b) On decline
     (c) In the air
     (d) At the end

Answer : (a) About to start.

25. Bird’s eye view

     (a) A detailed presentation
     (b) A personal view
     (c) A biased view
     (d) A general view

Answer : (d) A general view. 

26.  On the cards

     (a) Due
     (b) Probable
     (c) Evident
     (d) Certain

Answer : (d) Certain.

27. Stuck his neck out
 
     (a) Extended help
     (b) Took a risk
     (c) Took an oath
     (d) Caused embarrassment

Answer : (b) Took a risk.

28. Burnt his fingers

     (a) Got himself into trouble
     (b) Got himself insulted
     (c) Got rebuked
     (d) Burnt himself

Answer : (a) Got himself into trouble.

29. Carried the day

     (a) Lose
     (b) Decisive victory
     (c) Loose
     (d) Win

Answer : (d) Win.

30. Bygones be bygones

     (a) Revive the past
     (b) Resist the past
     (c) Ignore the past
     (d) Recollect the pas

Answer : (c) Ignore the past.

31. A show-stopper

     (a) Someone who organizes the show
     (b) A fashionable person
     (c) Someone who stops the show
     (d) A performance that is extremely good

Answer : (d) A performance that is extremely good.

32. To pull strings

     (a) To exert hidden influence
     (b) To speed up
     (c) To tease someone
     (d) To start something

Answer : (a) To exert hidden influence.

33. To be old as the hills

     (a) Not being worth the age
     (d) To be wise and learned
     (c) To be very ancient
     (d) To be old but foolish

Answer : (c) To be very ancient.

34. A jack of all trades

     (a) Someone who has many skills
     (b) Someone who has hit the jackpot
     (c) A confident and not very serious young man
     (d) A great businessman

Answer : (a) Someone who has many skills.

35. To mind one’s P’s and Q’s

     (a) To be careful of one’s accounts
     (d) To be cautious
     (c) To be careful of one’s personality
     (d) To be accurate and precise

Answer : (d) To be accurate and precise.

36. Hard-pressed

     (a) Insulted
     (b) In difficulties
     (c) Hard discipline
     (d) Bewildered

Answer : (b) In difficulties.

37. Fight tooth and nail

     (a) To attack someone with a lot of force
     (b) To try very hard to achieve something
     (c) To quarrel with someone
     (d) To try hard to prevent something from happening

Answer : (d) To try hard to prevent something from happening.

38. Has an axe to grind

     (a) Has a private agenda
     (d) Has no result
     (c) Works for both sides
     (d) Fails to arouse interest

Answer : (a) Has a private agenda.

39. To break the ice

     (a) To start quarrelling
     (d) To start to conversation
     (c) To end the hostility
     (d) To end up partnership

Answer : (d) To start to conversation.

40. Fair and square

     (a) Neither very good nor very bad
     (d) In an honest way
     (c) In a foolish way
     (d) In a critical way

Answer : (d) In an honest way.

41. As a cry in the wilderness

     (a) A laughter having no end
     (b) An unpleasant situation
     (c) A cry in vain
     (d) A cry with a laughter

Answer : (c) A cry in vain.

42. At the beck and call

     (a) At the service
     (b) Call to help
     (c) Ask for service
     (d) At the back of

Answer : (a) At the service.

43. Hard of hearing

     (a) Inaudible
     (b) Insensitive
     (c) Disinterested
     (d) Deaf

Answer : (d) Deaf.

44. Helm of national affairs

     (a) Centre of attraction
     (b) In the centre
     (c) In the main position
     (d) Helm of a boat

Answer : (c) In the main position.

45. Turn out crabs

     (a) To bring up crabs
     (b) To be successful
     (c) End in failure
     (d) To be victorious

Answer : (c) End in failure.

46. At a loss for

     (a) To be confused
     (b) To lose something
     (c) Under a loss
     (d) Suffer a loss

Answer : (a) To be confused.

47. Devil’s Advocate

     (a) One who is against religion
     (b) An advocate of a Devil
     (c) An advocate like a Devil
     (d) Discussion of an Advocate

Answer : (a) One who is against religion.

48. Wash dirty linen in public

     (a) To criticise
     (b) To wash clothes
     (c) Make personal quarrels public
     (d) To talk dirty things in public

Answer : (c) Make personal quarrels public.

49. Pocket an insult

     (a) Bear insult without protest
     (b) Ignore a case
     (c) Not to take any action
     (d) Sit over a resolution

Answer : (a) Bear insult without protest.

50. Rub shoulders with

     (a) Come in contact with
     (b) Have a cause to fight
     (c) Quarrel with a person
     (d) Rub shoulders of someone

Answer : (a) Come in contact with.


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Hello everyone, I’m Mritunjoy Biswas and I did masters degree in English literature. Now I’m a private tutor and I have been teaching for last 5 years.

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