English Idioms A - Z - Idiomatic Expressions


The Cambridge dictionary defines an idiom as a group of words in a fixed order that have a particular meaning that is different from the meanings of each word understood on its own: For example
To "have bitten off more than you can chew" is an idiom that means you have tried to do something which is too difficult for you.We have offered you a list of commonly used idioms from A to Z.

Idioms F- Idiomatic expressions beginning with F

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  1. Face

Be in your face (informal)
If an attitude, performance, etc is in your face it is aggressive in style and designed to make people react strongly to it.
This band’s famous for their live performances, which are always loud and in your face.
your face falls
you suddenly look disappointed or upset
He was quite cheerful until we told him the price. Then his face fell.
take sb/smth at (his, its, etc) face value
accept that smb/smth is exactly as they/it first appear(s)
You can’t take everything she says at face value.

  1. Facelift

give smth a facelift
improve the appearance of smth, for example a building, room, etc.
We’ve given our offices a facelift – new furniture, new lighting and a new carpet.

  1. Fact

a fact of life
something difficult or unpleasant that cannot be changed and has to be accepted or dealt with
Taxes are a fact of life. You just have to pay them.

  1. Faintest

Not have the faintest/foggiest (idea) (BrE, informal)
Have no idea at all about something; not know anything at all
I haven’t got the faintest idea what to buy Roger for his birthday.


  1. Fair

all’s fair in love and war (saying)
normal rules of behaviour do not apply in situations like war and love
‘I told Sarah that John had another girlfriend.’ ‘But that’s not true; he hasn’t’. ‘I know but all’s fair in love and war’.
A fair crack of the whip (BrE, informal)
A fair or reasonable opportunity to do something or to show that you can do something
I don’t think he was really given a fair crack of the whip. He only had five minutes to present his suggestions.
fair enough
used for accepting a suggestion, etc
‘I think $200 is a reasonable price.’ ‘Fair enough. Can I pay you at the end of the week?’
used for showing that you think something is reasonable
Letting the students work the machines on their own is fair enough, but they do need some training first.

  1. Fair-weather

a fair-weather friend (disapproving)
somebody who is only a friend when it is pleasant for them, and stops being a friend when you are in trouble
I really thought she’d be here to help me, but it seems she’s just a fair weather friend.

  1. Faithfully

Yours faithfully (BrE, formal, written)
Used at the end of a formal letter before you sign your name, when you have addressed smb as “Dear Sir/Dear Madam”, etc and not by their name

  1. Fall

fall flat
if a joke, a story, or an event falls flat, it completely fails to amuse people or to have the effect that was intended
I didn't think the comedian was funny at all – most of his jokes fell completely flat.
fall foul of smb/smth
do smth which gets you into trouble with smb/smth
They fell foul of the law by not paying their taxes.
fall from grace
lose people’s approval, for example through a mistake or immoral behaviour
The government minister fell from grace as a result of the financial scandal.

  1. False

a false alarm
a warning of smth, especially smth unpleasant or dangerous, which does not in fact happen
They thought a packet contained a bomb but it was a false alarm.

  1. Familiarity

familiarity brings contempt (saying)
you have little respect, liking, etc. for smb/smth that you know too well
George’s father is regarded by everyone as a great artist, but George doesn’t think he is. Familiarity brings contempt!

  1. Fan

fan the flames (of smth)
make a feeling such as anger, hatred, etc. worse
His writings fanned the flames of racism.

  1. Fancy

take a fancy to smb/smth (esp. British English)
begin to like smb/smth; be attracted by smb/smth
He’s taken quite a fancy to Chinese cooking.

  1. Far

by far
by a very great number; much…
This is by far the best painting/This is the best painting by far.
far from it (informal)
not at all, certainly not
“Isn’t he generous with money?” “Far from it! He spends it all on himself.”

  1. Fast

fast and furious
(of games, amusements, etc) noisy and very active
Ten minutes before the race, the betting was fast and furious.

  1. Favour

be (all) in favour of (doing) sth
support or approve an idea, course of action, etc.
As far as Joe’s suggestion about saving money is concerned, I’m all in favour of it.
in smb’s/smth’s favour
to smb’s advantage
The court decided in the employee’s favour.

  1. Fear

for fear of (doing) smth; for fear (that)…
because you do not want smth bad to happen
I’m not going to put it in the washing machine for fear of spoiling it.

  1. Fingertips

have (got) smth at your fingertips
be so familiar with a subject that you can produce any facts about it easily and quickly
The Minister was well prepared for the interview. She had all the facts at her fingertips.


to your fingertips (BrE)
(of a particular type of person) completely; in every way
She is a professional to her fingertips.

  1. Firm

to be in firm ground
be sure about one’s beliefs, knowledge, etc; be confident
I don't know a lot about physics, I am afraid. I’m on firmer ground with mathematics, which I studied at university.
a firm hand
strong discipline and control
What his son needs, if you ask me, is a firm hand!

  1. First

at first glance/sight
as things seem at first; judging by first appearances
At first glance, the exam paper looked fairly difficult, but once I got started I found it quite easy.
(at) first hand
from your own experience or knowledge, rather than from smb else; directly
I know at first hand what it is like to be poor; we always had very little money at home.

  1. Flight

flight of fancy
an idea or a statement that is very imaginative but not practical or sensible
The idea is not just a flight of fancy. It has been done before.

  1. French

excuse/pardon my French (informal, humorous)
used for saying you are sorry when you have used or are going to use rude or offensive language
Ouch, bloody hell! Oops, excuse my French!


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