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 P- Idiomatic expressions beginning with P

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  1. Pace

do smth at your own pace
do smth at the speed you prefer
When you’re learning a language at home, you can work at your own pace.

  1. Packed

packed (together) like sardines (informal)
(of people) pressed tightly together in a way that is uncomfortable or unpleasant
On the tube in the rush hour the passengers are packed like sardines.

  1. Pain

a pain in the neck (BrE also ‘a pain in the arse/bum/backside’) (AmE also ‘a pain in the ass/butt) (informal)
a person or thing that you find annoying
Her new boyfriend is a real pain in the neck – he never stops talking.

  1. Pains

take (great) pains with smth/to do smth; go to great pains to do smth
make a great effort to do smth well, carefully, properly, etc.
It looks easy but in fact he went to great pains to achieve that particular effect in his paintings.

  1. Part

be part and parcel of smth
be an essential part of smth
Long hours spent planning lessons are part and parcel of a teacher’s job.
on smb’s part; on the part of smb
(of an action) done, made or performed by smb
The argument started because of an angry remark on his side.

  1. Pass

make a pass at smb (informal)
make a direct approach to smb you’re interested in sexually
He can’t resist making a pass at every woman he meets.
pass the buck (informal)
refuse to accept responsibility for a mistake, accident, important decision, etc and try to get another person, organization, etc to accept responsibility for it instead
The same thing happens after every disaster. All the officials and ministries involved just try to pass the buck.

  1. Pat

give smb/yourself a pat on the back; oat smb/yourself on the back (for doing smth)
praise smb/yourself for they/you have done well
I think we should give Mike a pat on the back for finishing the project so early.

  1. Pay

pay through the nose (for smth) (informal)
pay a very high price for smth
Why pay through the nose for a used laptop? Come to Derek’s for prices you can afford!

  1. Pear-shaped

go pear-shaped (BrE, informal)
if things go pear-shaped, they go wrong
Everything was going really well for Tom until the last week of the course when it all went a bit pear-shaped and he failed a case study.

  1. Pebble

not the only pebble on the beach (informal, disapproving)
not the only person who is important or who should be considered
‘He thinks he should be chosen to go abroad on business trips’. ‘He’s not the only pebble on the beach, you know’.

  1. Penny

a penny for your thoughts (also ‘a penny for them’, saying)
used to ask smb what they are thinking about
‘A penny for your thoughts, Kat. You haven’t said anything the whole evening!’

  1. Piece

give smb a piece of your mind (informal)
angrily tell smb your true opinion of them; criticize smb angrily
If he doesn’t lower that voice of his, I’m going to give him a piece of my mind.

  1. Pinch

take smth with a pinch of salt (informal)
not believe everything smb says
She told me she knew people in the modelling industry but I took that with a pinch of salt.

  1. Pipe

put it in your pipe and smoke it (informal)
used after telling smb an unpleasant fact or truth, to say that they should accept it
I’m not giving you any more money to spend on that bike. So put that in your pipe and smoke it!

  1. Pipeline

in the pipeline
already being considered, planned, prepared or developed, but not yet ready
We have an interesting new database program in the pipeline. It should be on sale early next summer.

  1. Place

(not) be smb’s place to do smth
not have the right to do smth, for example to criticize smb, suggest smth, etc.
‘Why didn’t you tell him?’ ‘It wasn’t my place to’.
put smb in their place
remind smb forcefully of their real position in society or at work
That young man needs putting in his place. He behaves as if he were the manager here.

  1. Places

go places (informal)
be successful or likely to be successful in your life or job
If you’re young, energetic and want to go places, write to this address and we’ll send you a job application form.

  1. Play

play by the rules
deal fairly and honestly with people
You know we conduct business here, and I expect you all to play by the rules in future.
play the field (informal)
have romantic or sexual relationships with a lot of different people
He told me he didn’t want to get married yet because he was having too much fun playing the field.
play on words
a clever or amusing use of a word that has more than one meaning, or of words that have different meanings but sound similar/the same; a pun
When Elvis Presley had his hair cut off in the army he said: “Hair today and gone tomorrow”. It was a play on words – the usual expression is “here today and gone tomorrow”.

  1. Playing

what’s smb playing at?
used to ask in an angry way about what smb is doing
What do you think you’re playing at?

take the plunge (informal)
decide to do smth new, difficult or risky, especially after thinking about it for some time
After working for twenty years he’s decided to take the plunge and go back to college.

  1. Point

ask, tell, etc. smb point blank
ask, tell, etc smb very directly, and perhaps rudely
I told him point blank that we no longer wanted him to work for us.

  1. Poor

(as) poor as a church mouse
very poor
She was as poor as a church mouse living on a meager salary.

  1. Pour

pour your heart out (to smb)
tell smb all about your troubles, feelings, etc
When I asked her what as the matter, she burst into tears and poured out her heart to me.

  1. Practical

(play) a practical joke (on smb)
play a trick on smb which involves using an object, physical action, etc.
They put a frog in his bed as a practical joke.

  1. Preach

preach to the converted
tell people to support a view or idea when they already support it
Why do they keep telling us about the importance of women in industry? They are preaching to the converted here.

  1. Present

present company excepted (also, excepting present company)
used as a polite remark to show that the criticisms you’re making are not directed at the people you are talking to
My feeling is that the people around here, present company excepted of course, are rather unfriendly.

  1. Prim

prim and proper
(of a person) very correctly behaved and easily shocked by anything that is rude
Don’t invite her to the party. She’s so prim and proper.

  1. Pros

the pros and cons (of smth)
the arguments for and against smth; the advantages and disadvantages (of smth)
Your idea is interesting, but let’s look carefully at its pros and cons before we take any decisions.

  1. Pull

pull smb’s leg (informal)
tell smb smth which is not true, as a joke
‘You came first! You won the prize!’ ‘Really? Or are you just pulling my leg?’

  1. Purpose

(do smth) on purpose
(do smth) deliberately
He took the worst jobs he could find on purpose, and then wrote a book about his experiences.

  1. Put-up

a put-up job (BrE, informal)
smth that is planned to trick or deceive smb
The whole thing was a put up job. He set fire to the shop himself so that he could claim the insurance money.

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