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1. get out of hand (v.)
To get out of control.
- My uncle’s drinking problem got out of hand, and eventually he became an alcoholic.
2. experience something first-hand (v.)
To experience something yourself.
- I didn’t realize how hard it was to be a parent until I experienced it first-hand.
3. change hands (v.)
For an object to be passed or sold from one owner to another.
- This house has changed hands several times since it was built.
4. have (got) your hands full (v.)
To be completely busy or occupied with something.
- Barry and Martha have six children and four dogs – they’ve certainly got their hands full!
5. try your hand at (v.)
Try doing something for the first time.
- I’ve never taking a cooking class, but I’d like to try my hand at it.
6. at hand (adj.)
Available (used for objects, not people).
- I like to have a dictionary at hand when I’m reading a book in English.
7. give a hand / lend a hand (v.)
To help somebody with something – especially something that requires physical effort.
- I can’t carry all these books by myself. Could you give me a hand?
- When the politician finished his speech, the audience gave him a hand.
8. wash your hands of (v.)
To stop being responsible for or involved in something.
- The manager washed his hands of the whole situation and told us to solve the problem ourselves.
9. hands are tied
Not have the ability to help or take action.
- I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do. My hands are tied.
10. know like the back of your hand (v.)
To know a place very well.
- She lived in New York for 20 years – she knows the city like the back of her hand.
11. hands down (adv.)
Obviously, unquestionably, without a doubt.
- Sarah was hands-down the best skater at the competition.
12. a hand-me-down (n. or adj.)
A piece of clothing that belonged to an older brother/sister and is passed to a younger brother/sister.
- My mother never bought me new clothes – she just gave me hand-me-downs from my sister.
13. second hand (adj.)
Something you know from another person or source, not directly.
- I wasn’t at the party – I only heard about it second hand.
14. in good hands (adj.)
In the care of somebody good or knowledgeable.
- Don’t worry, your car is in good hands – William’s an excellent mechanic.
15. have a hand in (v.)
Have a role in.
- Janet’s cousin, who is a vice-president at the company, had a hand in getting her the job.
16. take matters into own hands
To take action on a problem yourself because other people have failed to do so.
- The city hadn’t done anything about the trash in the park, so citizens took matters into their own hands and organized a day to clean it up.
17. tip your hand
To reveal a secret, especially about your own plans or opinions.
- The director tipped his hand on plans for his next movie.
18. on the one hand… on the other hand
This expression is used to compare two aspects of a situation.
- On the one hand, my job pays well, but on the other hand, it’s very stressful.
Learn 260 Common English Idioms
Idioms like “think outside the box” and “let the cat out of the bag” can be confusing and frustrating, because their meanings are different from the definitions of the individual words.
Traditional courses and textbooks don’t focus on idioms – but they are extremely common in natural spoken English! This e-book will help you discover English idioms in context, understand them, and use them in your own English – so that you can sound more like a native speaker.
The e-book is 212 pages in PDF format, and the audio version includes 28 mp3 files.
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