Pass English In WAEC/NECO And Others Using Idiomatic Expressions,  Meaning And Usage


English Language is a very wide subject and students need to be grounded in Idiomatic expressions or phrases to be able to tackle another branch of English, Lexis and Structures.

This post will bring out the idiomatic phrases and meaning that will equip students to answer Lexis and Structures in English correctly in WAEC/NECO, JAMB, POST UTME and other relevant local and international examinations.  Good luck.

  1. To burn the midnight oil: To study or work until late hour in the night. As the examinations approaches, Obi has begun to burn the midnight oil.
  2. To bring someone to book: To punish a person or make someone to explain the bad thing he has done. The teacher warned the student that should he failed to do his assignment again, he would be brought to book.
  3. To turn a deaf ear to: To refuse to listen to somebody or something. The student turned a deaf ear to the Parent’s advice.
  4. To take to one’s heels: To run away. The robbers took to their heels on seeing the police coming.
  5. To hit the nail on the head: To tell the truth as it is. John hit the nail on the head about the missing money.
  6. To play with fire: To look for trouble. You will be playing with fire by disobeying my order, the teacher warned.
  7. To take French leave: To leave one’s duty or go out without permission. The staff was suspended for two days for taking French leave.
  8. To rain cats and dogs: To rain heavily. The match was postponed because it rained cats and dogs.
  9. To put the cart before the horse: To do or put things in the wrong order. To attend a party before reading for your exams would amount to putting the cart before the horse.
  10. To turn a new leaf: To change one’s way of life for good. The thief turned a new leaf after he was released from prison.
  11. To lay down arms: To stop fighting. The two rival groups have agreed to lay down their arms.
  12. To be the black sheep: To be disapproved strongly by other family members. Ode’s shameful act has made him the black sheep of the family.
  13. To dig one’s grave: To do something that led to one’s downfall. John actually dogged his own grave by disobeying the order from above.
  14. To hold one’s tongue: To stop talking. Immediately the teacher entered the class, the students held their tongue.
  15. To make heavy weather of something: To make something to look more difficult than reality. The mathematics teacher made a heavy weather of the subject as a result of mass failure of students.
  16. A cock and bull story: False or an absurd story. The parents found out that their son’s defence was a cock and bull story.
  17. To be wet behind the ears: Not matured or experienced on a job. The staff handling the work is wet behind the ears.
  18. A fly in the ointment: someone or something known to be spoiler of good thing. Ojoro is known to be the fly in the ointment.
  19. A shot in the arm: Something that encourages or a boost. Obtaining his master’s degree is a shot in the arm for his PhD pursuit.
  20. To take up arms (against somebody): To go to war or begin a fight. The bad economic policies of the government has forced its citizens to take up arms against the government.
  21. To cross the Rubicon: To take an important decision or begin an irreversible process. The Principal said that he has crossed the Rubicon for expelling the cult students from the school.
  22. A square peg in a round hole: A person whose position is not suitable for the job. The new appointment was a square peg in a round hole.
  23. A pat on the back: Praise or reward for something done well. John received a pat on the back for his brilliant performance in the exams.
  24. A tall order: something difficult or almost impossible to do. Achieving education for all in Nigeria is a tall order.
  25. To count one’s blessing: To show appreciation or be grateful for good things one has. Rather than complaining, Duze should be counting her blessing.
  26. To sit on the fence: To refuse to take a stand or support either of the two argument. The parties’ decision ended in dead lock as both parties sat on the fence.
  27. To count one’s chickens: To be too sure or confident about something. The news of his traveling to UK made Davi to count his chickens.
  28. In black and white: In writing or in print. I saw the Secretary’s letter in black and white.
  29. To be on the go: To be very busy or active. The man was on the go throughout last week because of load work.
  30. Go down the drain: Wasted or having no good result. The money spent on his son’s travelling went down the drain.
  31. To clear the air: To discuss something openly in order to remove any doubt or suspicion. The manager has finally cleared the air on the missing computer.
  32. To build castles in the air or Spain: To have a fruitless plan. His plan to arrest the man amounts to building castles in the air.
  33. A bone of contention: A disagreement or a topic under contention. There is bone of contention between the two rival groups on the ownership of the land.
  34. To make a mountain out of a mole – hill: To treat a problem as if it were very serious or big one when in fact it is not. The talkative made a mountain out of a mole hill.
  35. To deliver the goods: To do or provide what you are expected to. The politician will go for the second term since he could not deliver the goods.
  36. Behind closed doors: Taking place secretly. The meeting was held behind close door.
  37. At a snail’s speed or pace: Extremely slowly or too slow speed. His journey to Benin was at a snail’s speed.
  38. To blow one’s trumpet: Unnecessary praise for one’s own achievement. Goni is fond of blowing his own trumpet.
  39. Fall on deaf ears: To be ignored or not noticed by others. The parent’s advice to the son fell on deaf ears.
  40. A stone’s throw: A very short distance. The school is a stone throw from his house.
  41. To bite a hand that feeds you: To do bad thing to someone who has been kind to you. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, john warned his friend.
  42. Once in a blue moon: Very rarely or never. My visits Nigeria once in a blue moon.
  43. There is no love lost between A and B: both dislike each other. Is obvious that there is no love between the two brothers.
  44. A slap in the face: An action which is deliberately done to offend or upset someone. It was a slap in the face when he was bent on assaulting him.
  45. To sweep something under the carpet: To bury the facts or hide something that may cause trouble. The report or finding of corruption charge against the minister was swept under the carpet.
  46. To hold one’s head high: To be proud of one’s achievement or ability and not be ashamed. The politician now hold his head high after his victory at the polls.
  47. A wolf in a sheep’s clothing: a person who pretends to be harmless or friendly but is actually dangerous. Our former landlady is a wolf in a sheep’s clothing.
  48. A hell broke loose or was let loose: a sudden noise or commotion. A hell broke loose in the school after the cancellation of the results.
  49. Nothing to write home about: Not indeed good for anything or special. The hotel looks beautiful the management is nothing to write home about.
  50. Behind the time: Out dated or old fashioned in one’s idea and behavior. I am not always comfortable with the man since he is behind the time.
READ ALSO  Phrasal Verbs, Meaning And Usage: Key to Pass English in WAEC/NECO And Others.

In conclusion, the above idiomatic phrases or expressions are designed for the students to be well equipped to tackle lexis and structures, a branch of English language in WAEC/NECO, JAMB, UTME and other relevant examinations. Once again, best of luck.









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