Idioms and phrasal verbs

  1. Pray to the porcelain god: Toilets are often made of porcelain, and the person vomiting may be in a prayer-like posture on their knees.

  2. To have a chip on one's shoulder: To have a chip on one's shoulder refers to the act of holding a grudge or grievance that readily provokes disputation. It can also mean a person thinking too much of oneself (often without the credentials) or feeling entitled.

  3. catch the bug: grow into the habit of doing sth.

    • When I was very little, I caught the travel bug.

    • Everyone began madly gambling their money on lotteries and other such pursuits, and Tseng's husband and mother-in-law caught the gambling bug.

  4. taking flak: If you’re taking flak, chances are you’re in a bad situation and taking fire from an enemy. Flak can refer to criticism — or worse, shots from an airplane.

    Flak came into English as an abbreviation for the German word Fliegerabwehrkanone, meaning 'aircraft-defense gun.' (Yikes! No wonder they abbreviated it.) If you’re dealing with a lot of flak, you’re either in a fighter plane over enemy territory drawing shots, or you’re dealing with a volley of criticism that seems like antiaircraft fire. If you show up late for work for a third day, you’ll probably take some flak from your coworkers — they’ll take verbal shots at you.

  5. ratchet sth up/down: to increase/reduce something over a period of time:

    • The debate should ratchet up awareness of the problem among members of the general public.

    • The government was accused of ratcheting up pressure on the health services.

    • Costs have been ratcheted down by as much as 50 percent since 1999.

  6. spruce up: to make (someone or something) look cleaner, neater, or more attractive.

    • We spruced up the room with a fresh coat of paint.

    • I need to spruce myself up a bit before we go out to dinner.

  7. rope in. phrasal verb. If you say that you were roped in to do a particular task, you mean that someone persuaded you to help them do that task. [informal] Visitors were roped in for potato picking and harvesting.

  8. go over:

    • 1. To visit some place.

      I'm going over to Eddie's house, Mom—see you later!

    • 2. To review something.

      Can you go over these instructions again? I'm still a little confused.

    • 3. To generate a particular reaction; to be received in some way.

      Unfortunately, our proposal did not go over well with the board, and I doubt they'll approve it.

  9. step out of line: to break the rules, or to do something wrong

    • If you step out of line, you will be punished.

    • I saw someone use it like “I’m not prone to worry much about stepping in line with conventional thinking.”

  10. walk the line:

    • To maintain an intermediate position between contrasting choices, opinions, etc.

    • To behave in an authorized or socially accepted manner, especially as prescribed by law or morality; to exercise self-control.

    The expression can have a few meanings depending on context.

    It often means to do one's duty in a way that requires focus and determination, and where deviation could be disastrous. It is related to the image of a tightrope, where the course must be carefully adhered to without distraction.

    It is in this sense by Johnny Cash, only with a twist. He uses “walk the line” to mean staying true to the woman he loves, but the song is about how natural it feels for him to do so. The line “I find it very easy to be true” opens the song with this theme.

    He's saying, “before I met you, I found it hard to remain faithful to just one woman. Now that I have you, it's easy”.

    One other possible meaning of “walk the line” would refer to a field sobriety test sometimes requested by police officers in lieu of a breathalyzer. The suspected inebriate is asked to walk toe-to-heel down a line on the sidewalk to see what level of gross motor control they currently possess. If they can't walk the line, they can be assumed inebriated even if they haven't been breathalyzed.

  11. iron out something: to put something into a finished state by solving problems, removing differences, or taking care of details:

    • They met to iron out the details of the contract.

  12. fender-bender: a minor collision between motor vehicles.

    • "he was involved in a fender bender while driving without a license"