100 Idioms and Phrases in Nepali

Most Important Idioms and Phrases in Nepali are collected by Lok Sewa Tayari.

List of Idioms and Phrases in Nepali

  • A hot potato
    Meaning: Something that is difficult or dangerous to deal with.
    Example: Terrorism is a political hot potato in Afghanistan.
  • A penny for your thoughts
    Meaning: Way of asking what someone is thinking.
    Example: After several minutes of silence he finally looked at her and said, “A penny
    for your thoughts, Lily.
  • Actions speak louder than words
    Meaning: What you do is more significant than what you say.
    Example: He: I am sorry. I’ll try to be a better person henceforth.
    She: Actions speak louder than words.
  • Add insult to injury
    Meaning: To make a bad situation worse.
    Example: Their basement was flooded, and then, to add insult to injury, a pipe burst in
    the kitchen.
  • An arm and a leg
    Meaning: A lot of money.
    Example: It’s the best cruise in the world, but it will cost you an arm and a leg.
  • At the drop of a hat
    Meaning: Immediately; without any hesitation
    Example: Ellie was always ready to go shopping at the drop of a hat.
  • Back to the drawing board
    Meaning: Start something all over again.
    Example: I failed this semester, but now I am back to the drawing board.
  • Ball is in your court.
    Meaning: It is up to you to take the next step
    Example: I’ve made my decision, now the ball is in your court.
  • Barking up the wrong tree
    Meaning: Looking in the wrong place; accusing the wrong person.
    Example: He did not commit the crime, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
  • Be glad to see the back of
    Meaning: Be glad to see someone leave.
    Example: I never liked her. I’ll be glad to see the back of her.
  • Beat around the bush
    Meaning: Avoid answering a question; not speaking directly about the issue.
    Example: Tell me what the problem is, stop beating around the bush.
  • Best of both the worlds
    Meaning: Situation wherein one can enjoy two different opportunities.
    Example: She had the privilege of a professor and freedom of a student. She had the
    best of both worlds.
  • Best thing since sliced bread
    Meaning: A good idea or plan; an excellent new invention.
    Example: I love your idea. It’s the best thing since sliced bread.
  • Bite off more than you can chew
    Meaning: To take on a task that is way too big.
    Example: Our boss bit off more than she could chew when she promised the client
    we’d have the project ready by NeXT week.
  • Blessing IN disguise
    Meaning: Something good that isn’t recognized at first.
    Example: Ashok’s losing his job was a blessing in disguise; it gave him an opportunity
    to pursue higher studies.
  • Burn the midnight oil
    Meaning: To stay up working, especially studying, late at night.
    Example: She’s been burning the midnight oil for the last few months; her hard work
    will definitely pay off in the coming exams.
  • Don’t judge a book by its cover
    Meaning: Don’t judge something primarily by its appearance.
    Example:
    She: He doesn’t look intelligent.
    He: You can’t judge a book by its cover.
  • Caught between two stools.
    Meaning: When someone finds it difficult to choose between two alternatives.
    Example: He had committed to both and now he’s caught between two stools.
  • Cross that bridge when you come to it.
    Meaning: Deal with a problem if and when it becomes necessary.
    Example: He: I think I need to hire a lawyer.
    She: Cross that bridge when you come to it.
  • Cry over spilled milk
    Meaning: To be unhappy about something that cannot be undone.
    Example: It can’t he helped, don’t cry over spilled milk.
  • Curiosity killed the cat
    Meaning: Being too curious can get you into trouble.
    Example: Don’t ask about his divorce-curiosity killed the cat!
  • Cut corners
    Meaning: To take shortcuts; when something is done badly to save money.
    Example: They always put quality first; they won’t cut corners just to save money.
  • Cut the mustard
    Meaning: Perform satisfactorily; to succeed.
    Example: We need a better catcher; this one just doesn’t cut the mustard.
  • Devil’s advocate
    Meaning: To present a counter argument
    Example: The teacher always played devil’s advocate to provoke discussion in the
    classroom.
  • Don’t count your chickens before the eggs have hatched.
    Meaning: Don’t make plans for something that might not happen.
    Example: You might not win the prize and you’ve already spent the money? Don’t
    count your chickens before the eggs have hatched.
  • Don’t give up the day job
    Meaning: You’re not very good at something. You could definitely not do it
    professionally.
    Example: Why did you invest in business even after failing in it in the past? Don’t give up
    the day job!
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
    Meaning: Don’t focus all of your attention on one thing or one area.
    Example: I know you love Harvard, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Apply to
    other colleges too.
  • Drastic times call for drastic measures
    Meaning: When you’re extremely desperate you need to take drastic actions.
    Example: Yes we had to let go of five of our workers! Drastic times call for drastic
    measures.
  • Elvis has left the building
    Meaning: The show has come to an end. It’s all over.
    Example: We waited for another performance by the band but it looked like Elvis had
    left the building.
  • Every cloud has a silver lining
    Meaning: Be optimistic, even difficult times will lead to better days.
    Example: I’m sorry your business is going badly, but remember every cloud has a silver
    lining.
  • Far cry from
    Meaning: A thing that is very different from something else.
    Example: What you did was a far cry from what you said you were going to do.
  • Feel a bit under the weather
    Meaning: Feeling sick or unhealthy.
    Example: I’m not coming to office today, I’m feeling a bit under the weather.
  • Give the benefit of doubt
    Meaning: Believe someone’s statement without proof.
    Example: I knew him since the past 5 years, so I gave him the benefit of doubt.
  • Hear through the grapevine
    Meaning: To hear news from someone who heard that news from someone else
    Example: I heard through the grapevine that she’s pregnant.
  • Hit the nail on the head
    Meaning: To do or say exactly the right thing.
    Example: You’ve spotted the flaw, Robert. You’ve hit the nail on the head.
  • Hit the sack/sheets/hay
    Meaning: To go to bed.
    Example: I’m exhausted. I think I’ll just hit the sack.
  • In the heat of the moment
    Meaning: Overwhelmed by what’s happening at the moment.
    Example: He doesn’t hate you. He just said that in the heat of the moment.
  • It takes two to tango
    Meaning: Both people involved in a bad situation are responsible for it.
    Example: He blamed her for his lack of attention; well it takes two to tango.
  • Jump on the bandwagon
    Meaning: Join a popular trend or activity.
    Example: So many people are playing that game that I might as well jump on the
    bandwagon and check it out.
  • Keep something at bay
    Meaning: Keep something away
    Example: A good way to keep your anxiety at bay is through meditation.
  • Kill two birds with ones stone
    Meaning: To solve two problems at a time with just one action
    Example: John practiced his words while peeling the potatoes. He was killing two
    birds with one stone.
  • Last straw
    Meaning: The final problem in a series of problems
    Example: This is the last straw. I’m calling the police.
  • Let sleeping dogs lie
    Meaning: Leave something alone if it might cause trouble.
    Example: I thought I would ask him if he wanted me to pay him back right away, but
    then I decided to let the sleeping dogs lie.
  • Let the cat out of the bag
    Meaning: To reveal a secret / To share information that was previously concealed.
    Example: It’s our secret. Don’t let the cat out of the bag.
  • Make a long story short
    Meaning: Come to the point – leave out the details.
    Example: And – to make the long story short – I never got back the money I lent him.
  • Method in the madness
    Meaning: A purpose in what one is doing, even though it seems to be crazy.
    Example: What I’m doing might seem strange, but there is method in my madness.
  • Miss the boat
    Meaning: To miss out on something.
    Example: Pay attention, John, or you’ll miss the boat and never learn algebra.
  • Not a spark of decency
    Meaning: A person who has no manners
    Example: Her brother has not a spark of decency. I don’t like the way he acts in public.
  • Not playing with the full deck
    Meaning: Someone who is mentally, psychologically or intellectually deficient.
    Example: He’s an intelligent guy, but with all that crazy things he does, I wonder if he’s
    not playing with the full deck.
  • On the ball
    Meaning: When someone understands a situation well; attentive.
    Example: If you were on the ball, this wouldn’t have happened.
  • Off the record
    Meaning: Not made as an official or attributable statement; unofficial; confidential
    Example: He accepted his fault off the record and hence it could not be used by the
    prosecutor in the court.
  • Oldest trick in the book
    Meaning: A well known and much used trick/method
    Example: Oldest trick in the book to treat cold and cough is drinking turmeric milk.
  • Off the cuff
    Meaning: Without preparation; spontaneous
    Example: She has a reputation of handling off the cuff interviews very well.
  • Old habits die hard
    Meaning: People find it difficult to change their accustomed behavior.
    Example: She retired last month, but still gets up at the same time in the morning.
    Old habits die hard.
  • Once in a blue moon
    Meaning: Very rarely
    Example: Jill has a very rocky relationship with her father. She speaks to him once in a
    blue moon.
  • Open the floodgates
    Meaning: Release something that was previously under control
    Example: Economists fear that relaxing price control will open the floodgates to
    inflation.
  • Out of the blue
    Meaning: Happen unexpectedly
    Example: She had given up all hope when out of the blue she got a call from Harvard.
  • Out on a limb
    Meaning: Do something risky or something that others do not support (leaving the
    doer in a difficult situation)
    Example: She was out on a limb with her project – nobody supported her idea.
  • Over the top
    Meaning: Totally excessive and not suitable for the occasion.
    Example: Her sari was way over the top for a somber occasion like this.
  • Pen is mightier than the sword
    Meaning: Words and communication have a greater effect than war
    Example: A simple handwritten note put an end to their week long cold war – pen is
    mightier than the sword.
  • Push one’s luck
    Meaning: Trying to obtain more than what one has (risk spoiling the current situation)
    Example: You have my permission to go to your friends’ place but don’t push your luck
    by planning a night out.
  • Raining cats and dogs
    Meaning: Raining heavily
    Example: We’ll have to cancel the trip, it’s raining cats and dogs here.
  • Reap the harvest
    Meaning: Benefit or suffer as a direct result of past actions.
    Example: When he cleared IIT-JEE, he reaped the harvest of all his hard work.
  • Roll up one’s sleeves
    Meaning: Get ready for hard work
    Example: My brother said he would roll up his sleeves and do whatever it takes to
    support the family.
  • See eye to eye
    Meaning: To be in agreement with
    Example: She was glad her roommate saw eye to eye on the choice of the flat.
  • Shot in the dark
    Meaning: A complete guess (may or may not be close to the truth)
    Example: He didn’t know too much about programming, so answering the interviewer’s
    question was merely a shot in the dark.
  • Sink your teeth into
    Meaning: Do something with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.
    Example: Robin immediately sank his teeth into his new job.
  • Skating on thin ice
    Meaning: Do or say something risky or something that could cause trouble.
    Example: Don’t say anything that hurts her self esteem or you could be skating on thin
    ice.
  • Stand in a good stead
    Meaning: To be useful or be of good service to someone.
    Example: Being fluent in German will stand you in a good stead when applying for an
    MS in Germany.
  • Strike while the iron is hot
    Meaning: To act at the right time
    Example: The price of gold is at a 10 year low, strike while the iron is hot and invest in
    it right away.
  • Take a back seat
    Meaning: Choose to be less important in a role
    Example: He finally decided to take a back seat and let his son run the family business.
  • Take with a grain/pinch of salt
    Meaning: To doubt the accuracy of information
    Example: A lot is said about the celebrities in media, but that information should be
    taken with a grain of salt.
  • Take a nosedive
    Meaning: Rapid drop or decrease in value
    Example: The share prices took a nosedive when there were rumors of the company’s
    CEO resigning.
  • Take the plunge
    Meaning: Venture into something of one’s interest despite the risks involved
    Example: Jack finally took the plunge and opened a restaurant.
  • Taste of one’s own medicine
    Meaning: Treat people the same (unpleasant) way they treated you
    Example: People who often disregard others should be given a taste of their own
    medicine.
  • Think the world of
    Meaning: Admire someone very much
    Example: Emily is a wonderful teacher – children think the world of her.
  • Tight spot
    Meaning: A difficult situation
    Example: The recent lawsuit has put the firm in a tight spot.
  • Tongue in cheek
    Meaning: (of a remark) Supposed to be taken in funny or ironic sense
    Example: Her comment was taken more seriously than intended. It was supposed to be
    tongue in cheek.
  • Turn a blind eye
    Meaning: Pretend not to notice
    Example: People tend to turn a blind eye to crime against women.
  • Walk on eggshells
    Meaning: Be extremely cautious about one’s words or actions
    Example: Celebrities are scrutinized by the media for all their actions so they’re
    required to walk on eggshells.
  • Want someone’s head on a platter
    Meaning: Want someone to be punished severely
    Example: “I want that murderer’s head on a platter!”, said the Chief of police.
  • Watch (someone) like a hawk
    Meaning: Keep eyes on or watch carefully
    Example: The examiner watched the test takers like a hawk.
  • Water under the bridge
    Meaning: Something bad that happened in the past but is no longer important
    Example: The couple had a serious fight in the past but that water is under the bridge
    now.
  • Wave a dead chicken
    Meaning: Do some useless, unhelpful thing in the hope that it will solve a problem
    Example: Restarting the laptop once the motherboard has crashed is like waving a
    dead chicken.
  • Weak in the knees
    Meaning: Barely able to stand because of emotion, fear or illness
    Example: The shock of being summoned by the Supreme Court made me go weak in
    the knees.
  • Wear many hats
    Meaning: Do many different types tasks
    Example: We have such a small number of employees that one is often supposed to
    wear many hats.
  • Weather the storm
    Meaning: Succeed in surviving a difficult period of time
    Example: Given the current global market conditions, the Indian economy is
    weathering the storm pretty well.
  • Wet behind the ears
    Meaning: Inexperienced and immature
    Example: Instead of a full time job, she should be offered an internship as she is still
    wet behind the ears.
  • Whale of a time
    Meaning: Enjoy a lot
    Example: She had a whale of a time in Goa with her girl gang.
  • Whistle in the dark
    Meaning: Pretend to be brave in a scary situation
    Example: Upon being attacked, she blew a whistle in the dark which surprised her
    attackers.
  • Why keep a dog and bark for yourself
    Meaning: If someone or something can do a job for you, why do it yourself?
    Example: My sister has a printer, but she continues to write notes manually. Why keep
    a dog and bark for yourself?
  • Wide off the mark
    Meaning: Incorrect; Inadequate; Not what is expected
    Example: Her answer was wide off the mark; it was impossible for me to give a better
    rating to it.
  • Wild goose chase
    Meaning: Waste time looking for something that has little chance of being found
    Example: She tried to find out who the anonymous caller was, but it turned out to be a
    wild goose chase.
  • Wipe the slate clean
    Meaning: Make a fresh start
    Example: When Mike was leaving home, he decided to wipe the slate clean with his
    dad.
  • Wolf in sheep’s clothing
    Meaning: Dangerous person pretending to be harmless
    Example: I thought she was a good person, but I realized that she was a wolf in a
    sheep’s clothing when she backstabbed me during the selection process.
    100 Must Know Idioms Free e-book PDF
  • Work your fingers to the bone
    Meaning: Extreme hard work
    Example: She totally deserves the success; she worked her fingers to the bone when
    she started out as a model.
  • Worm’s eye view
    Meaning: A perspective seen from below or from a low or inferior position
    Example: The trainees get only a worm’s eye view of the corporate structure.
  • Worth one’s salt
    Meaning: Good or competent at the job or profession specified
    Example: She deserves respect as she is totally worth her salt.
  • Wrap one’s brain around
    Meaning: Concentrate on something in an effort to understand
    Example: I really need to wrap my brain around this concept before the exam.
  • Zero in on something
    Meaning: Focus all attention onto one thing
    Example: The teacher immediately zeroed in on the weaker students of the class.

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