Alphabetical Idioms

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
Track sports: The bar set for hurdles, high jumps, or pole vaulting is set high and higher for the runners or jumpers as the meets progress and the competition gets more difficult.
Sentence 1
The record for pole vaulting was set at Donetsk by Renaud Lavillenie. The bar was at 6.16 meters.
Meaning 2
The lowest bar set is the least restrictive and the least difficult.
Sentence 2
"The Corwyn (gun) bill would set a national bar at the lowest denominator."

Derivation

Track sports.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The football game is almost over. The quarterback of the team is desperate. He tries at the last minute a very long pass, a Hail Mary pass.
Sentence 1
The Dallas quarterback tried a 50 yard pass, a Hail Mary pass, hoping he could tie up the game.
Meaning 2
A politician or say a business man or woman decides he is about to lose an election or an account and has a desperate strategy to get back "into the game," a Hail Mary pass.
Sentence 2
Many commentators and the electorate thought Mitt Romney's choice of Paul Ryan as candidate for vice-presidential spot on the 2012 Republcan ticket was a Hail Mary pass.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
A sports playbook is a coach's book of strategies for a game or season.
Sentence 1
The New England Patriots need a new playbook for the 2015 season if the first string quarterback is not allowed to lead his team for four games.
Meaning 2
A stategy of moves to reach a desired objective.
Sentence 2
I've got a playbook to get my girlfriend back.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
Banking the ball off the side of the table into the pocket for a score. Original derivation from pool where a ball is shot indirectly into the pocket by banking it into the side wall or "bank." Also, in basketball, an indirect basket, by using the backboard for the shot into the basket.
Sentence 1
Minnesota Fats sank the ball in the corner pocket, banking it off the side rail. LeBron James banked the basketball off the backboard into the net.
Meaning 2
An indirect shot by using the backboard to score two points.
Sentence 2
The effect of Trump/s tax cuts are not directly effecting the economy; indirectly it may help. (You feed the horses hay to indirectly feed the birds.)
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to start with an advantage, a head before the other runners
Sentence 1
They gave him a head start, because he was so little.
Meaning 2
to begin early
Sentence 2
We have a head start, because they faxed their contract to us and mailed it to the others.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
A basketball game is started by the referee throwing up the ball between two players who try to tap it to a member of their team. It is also used when two opposing players have joint possession of the ball.
Sentence 1
The referee called for a jump ball because she could not determine which player controlled the ball.
Meaning 2
Control issues: The inability to determine anything.
Sentence 2
It is a jump ball. The two proposals are so close.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
difficult to win; to win against great odds
Sentence 1
That horse is a long shot to win the Belmont race.
Meaning 2
very difficult to do
Sentence 2
That stock is a long shot to hit one hundred on the American stock exchange.

Derivation

In ancient England, archery contests were held to see who could make the longest shot with a bow and arrow. This expression is so old it has become imbedded in the language as an idiom associated not with a particular sport, but all sports,games, and activities associated with risk. For example, if "long shot" was used literally in a sport, it would be associated with shooting an .arrow, a bullet or something thrown in track and field. Thus it's a long shot for an archer to hit the bullseye at 90 meters.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to deliver or receive two punches, one right after another
Sentence 1
The boxer knocked out his opponent with a one-two punch combination.
Meaning 2
to be in a difficult situation because two negative things have happened to one
Sentence 2
I got a a one-two punch before the election: Two important groups were against me. I lost.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The game was postponed because of rain. (The game could be postponed for any reason, but the term is "rain check".) The rain check itself is the ticket that can be exchanged for a ticket at a later date.
Sentence 1
The Phillies' game was postponed because of rain, and the spectators were given another ticket for a future game.
Meaning 2
a postponement with a promise of a future meeting
Sentence 2
"Something has come up, and I can't make our luncheon meeting. How about a raincheck? "
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to hold all your cards above the table; to not control a gambling game with anything hidden.
Sentence 1
The dealer said, "All cards above board, please."
Meaning 2
to be honest, forthright, tell the truth
Sentence 2
We want everything above board in this discussion.

Derivation

Gambling devices were sometimes controlled under the table giving the game owner an advantage.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
racing bets where one bets that the same competitor will place in first, second and third
Sentence 1
Let's bet across the board on American Pharoah.
Meaning 2
equally for everyone, everyone gets the same
Sentence 2
The new president will ask for resignations across the board.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to compete in sports in a timed event or against another competitor's time
Sentence 1
She's running against the clock and has only two seconds to better Cindy's time for first place.
Meaning 2
to be in a hurry to meet a deadline or time for completion of something
Sentence 2
I'm running against the clock here on this project. The architectural drawings are due next week.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
before the game or event
Sentence 1
I'll meet you five minutes ahead of the game at section "M" at the football stadium.
Meaning 2
to have worked or done more than necessary, to have an advantage
Sentence 2
I have to work extra hours to stay ahead of the game on this negotiation.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The game or sports event is finished or "over" and only the cheering is left
Sentence 1
The World Series is all over but the shouting.
Meaning 2
decided, concluded
Sentence 2
The Gulf War is all over but the shouting.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
A new game has started.
Sentence 1
Let's beat them this time. It's another ball game.
Meaning 2
The old idea, event or business deal is over. One has a better chance of winning or achieving a goal this time.
Sentence 2
Now that we have a new manager, it's another ball game.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to take water out of a boat; to parachute out of a plane that is going down
Sentence 1
Bail out the ship. We're sinking. We better bail out of the plane. We're on fire.
Meaning 2
to help, to save
Sentence 2
The government is bailing out the savings and loan banks.

Derivation

In boating or sailing the term,, bail out, is used to save the boat. In parachuting it is used to get out of the plane.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
place where baseball is played
Sentence 1
Let's go to the ball park on Saturday and see the Mets play.
Meaning 2
a general, rather than precise figure; a "ballpark" implies a rather large area.
Sentence 2
I need a ball park figure on what the contract will cost.

Derivation

The term ball park is derived from the time when baseball was played before a few people in parks rather than stadiums.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
the dog is not barking at the animal the hunter wants
Sentence 1
Jim's dog didn't tree the racoon. The racoom jumped to another tree and the dog barked up the wrong tree.
Meaning 2
to make a wrong choice
Sentence 2
The FBI agent didn't find the criminal. He was barking up the wrong tree.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
There are men on all bases except home base.
Sentence 1
The bases are loaded and their best hitter is up to bat.
Meaning 2
to have an advantage
Sentence 2
Our bases are loaded. We should win the contract. We have more money and expertise than they do.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
substitute for another batter in baseball
Sentence 1
The manager sent a left-handed batter to face the right-handed pitcher.
Meaning 2
supporting or substituting for someone in business
Sentence 2
The CEO and founder of a corporation again went to bat for his corporation in Congressional hearings.

Derivation

baseball

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
same as "to be in the major leagues"
Sentence 1
Jackie Robinson was the first black player to be in the big leagues.
Meaning 2
to be a big shot, to be a major player, to be well-known
Sentence 2
You're in the big leagues now.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The player must knock all numbered balls from one to seven into the pocket before the eighth ball.
Sentence 1
The six ball was behind the eight ball and it was a difficult shot.
Meaning 2
to be in a difficult or awkward situation
Sentence 2
I was behind the eight ball when the boss found out I didn't know any foreign languages.

Derivation

It is very difficult to make a shot with a ball, if that ball is directly behind the eight ball.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be below or above the standard set for a hole on a golf course
Sentence 1
He was below the par of four on that hole. He was two strokes above par on that hole.
Meaning 2
to do worse (below par or not up to par) or better (abovepar) than usual
Sentence 2
His performance was below par that night. That business presentation was above par. Good job!
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to hit a player on his "blind-side"or the side away from which a player is looking
Sentence 1
The quarterback was blind-sided by the defensive end.
Meaning 2
to not see what is going to happen
Sentence 2
I was blind-sided. I didn't know he was going to come up with those kind of figures for the buy-out.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to hit a surface and rebound
Sentence 1
The ball bounced over the wall.
Meaning 2
to jump around
Sentence 2
High technology stocks seem to bounce around a lot on the stock market. That stock took a big bounce yesterday.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
the center of a target
Sentence 1
He scored a bull's eye with that shot.
Meaning 2
to win the point, to get the business deal because you were particularly effective, to say or do exactly the right thing.
Sentence 2
You scored a bull's eye with your speech. The club is going to give five thousand dollars to the literacy project.

Derivation

This expression derives from an old English sport, bullbaiting dogs try to pull a bull by his nose to the ground. Gamblers would place a bet "on the bull's eye" if he wished to make a bet. Crowns, an English coin, were used to bet so frequently "on the bull's eye that the coin itself came to be called a bull's-eye. Later, the term was applied to the black center of a target. The idiom right on the money is also derived from the ancient interchangeable use of a coin, bull's-eye and the center of a target. A sentence in this case would be: " You were right on the money with your speech."

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to call a card of the spade suit a spade
Sentence 1
This idiom, derived from cards, is not used in card playing.
Meaning 2
to speak directly and frankly about something or someone
Sentence 2
Let's call a spade a spade and stop avoiding the issue. We don't have the money in the budget to buy that new car.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to order dogs away from the chase
Sentence 1
Call off the dogs. They have found the fox.
Meaning 2
to stop pursuing something
Sentence 2
Call off the dogs. I don't want dectectives on that case any more.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to carry the ball in football
Sentence 1
The tailback carried the ball.
Meaning 2
to be responsible for a project, a business deal
Sentence 2
Will you carry the ball this time? Fumi did it last time.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
catching the curl: to catch a wave at the right moment, to ride it when the wave is cresting.
Sentence 1
"Totally Ripping: Catching the Curl at Surfing," NY Times 5/23/2003)
Meaning 2
to do something at just the right moment
Sentence 2
Good timing. You caught the curl. I think your business idea will work. You found a niche in the market.

Derivation

There are many idioms with "hang" in them. To hang has many meanings, but in the following terms, to hang means to lean or be suspended. These terms are used in surfing and sailing and have become common in every day usage.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
the king in chess cannot move or he is captured and the game is won
Sentence 1
She won the game after checkmating her opponent's king.
Meaning 2
To put someone is a position where they must lose
Sentence 2
Kuwait was in a checkmate position when Iraq massed troops on her border.

Derivation

This term, used in the ancient game of chess, derives from the Arabic, "Shah mat!" ( The king is dead), then Spanish, "xaque mate", then French, "eschec mat", then early English, "chek mate".

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to bet by putting more chips into the "pot" or the betting pool
Sentence 1
She had a straight flush, so she chipped in twenty more dollars.
Meaning 2
to contribute some money to a cause or a business
Sentence 2
If we are going to expand this business, we need more capital. See if you can get another firm to chip in ten million.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a horse which no one thinks will win but does
Sentence 1
The odds on the dark horse were ten to one, but he won.
Meaning 2
a person or company no one thinks will win but does.
Sentence 2
President Truman was the dark horse in the 1948 election.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a hand in card playing; one round of playing in the card game
Sentence 1
Please finish the deal.
Meaning 2
a business transaction which is being negotiated or is finished; a bargain.
Sentence 2
Let's work together on that financial deal. It's a deal.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to distribute the cards; the dealer hands out the cards to the players
Sentence 1
Please deal the cards.
Meaning 2
to have, to do, to have business relations; to behave
Sentence 2
He deals justly with his business clients. President Bush dealt the United Nations into his invasion.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to throw overboard
Sentence 1
Let's deep-six the treasure chest.
Meaning 2
to throw something away
Sentence 2
Let's deep-six that chapter and write a new one.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
To play defensively: a team or person tries to keep the opposing team from scoring.
Sentence 1
The team was better at defensive play than offensive play.
Meaning 2
to be defensive on a business project, a political project, in one's personal life.
Sentence 2
We better play. defensively. Think of possible questions and have the answers ready.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be knocked down and be unable to get up before the referee counts to ten
Sentence 1
The fighter is down and out. The fight is over.
Meaning 2
to be in a bad situation and to need help
Sentence 2
The homeless are down and out.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
referred to the wire used to mark the end of a race; now the wires are electronic
Sentence 1
They were neck and neck down to the wire.
Meaning 2
the last few minutes before something must be accomplished
Sentence 2
I'll have to stay late tomorrow to get this finished. I'm down to the wire on the proposal.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to shoot a gun quickly
Sentence 1
Wyatt Earp was quick on the draw.
Meaning 2
to be fast
Sentence 2
The chairman of the corporation was quick on the draw in answering the stockholders questions.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to move back behind the offensive line in order to pass or run around the end
Sentence 1
The quarterback dropped back and passed twenty-five yards for a first down.
Meaning 2
to go back
Sentence 2
She was shy and dropped back behind the crowd.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to make an error, to drop a ball in sports
Sentence 1
Willie Mays, who played for the San Francisco Giants, rarely dropped a ball.
Meaning 2
to blunder, to fail in some way
Sentence 2
We sure dropped the ball that time. We forgot to update our information.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to fall into a pit dug for hunting game
Sentence 1
The tiger fell into a trap which had fresh meat in it.
Meaning 2
to be caught in a situation, to be trapped or ensnared
Sentence 2
I fell into a trap. I didn't read the contract carefully.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
Balls can be thrown as fast as ninety to a hundred miles an hour.
Sentence 1
The pitcher threw a fast ball and struck out the batter.
Meaning 2
to not understand a statement or fact; to lose an opportunity because an opponent or competitor is quicker.
Sentence 2
I'm sorry I didn't get the contract. Their team threw a fast ball. They talked to the other company first.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
A team makes a first down if it moves ten yards towards the opponents goal post. The team has four chances or downs to do this.
Sentence 1
The fullback made it look easy to get first downs for his team.
Meaning 2
to have accomplished an objective on the way to a goal
Sentence 2
We have a first down . Everyone work hard and maybe we'll get the contract. The surgeon said, " Frst down and ten to go . We got the tumor. Now we need some chemotherapy."
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
When you stop fishing you cut off your bait.
Sentence 1
Keep on fishing or cut off your bait and go home.
Meaning 2
to decide whether to do something, usually a job, or let someone else do it
Sentence 2
If you don't want that job, fish and cut bait. Lois can do it.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a foul ball is a ball hit by the batter outside the baseball line of play
Sentence 1
The first ball hit by the batter was a foul ball and declared a strike by the umpire. Fouls count as strikes except for the third foul.
Meaning 2
a foul ball is generally ineffective; it is out of the field of play and is not relevant to the mission.
Sentence 2
He hit a foul ball. His comment was not effective; it did not accomplish anything!
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
not within the rules of the game; an infraction of the rules
Sentence 1
The referee blew his whistle. There was a foul play.
Meaning 2
an illegal activity, a bad practice or unfair
Sentence 2
Stealing my girlfriend was foul play.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The period during a jump before the parachute is opened
Sentence 1
The parachutist had a free fall of twenty-five seconds before he opened his parachute.
Meaning 2
to drop or fall very rapidly
Sentence 2
The U.S.S.R.'s economy took afree fall in 1991.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
from the starting line for a race
Sentence 1
Her time from scratch to finish in the mile was just over four minutes.
Meaning 2
from the beginning
Sentence 2
I need you to work on this legal brief from scratch.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
from the front end to the rear end of a boat
Sentence 1
Please wash the boat from stem to stern.
Meaning 2
to do something thoroughly from one end to another
Sentence 2
Please clean the office from from stem to stern.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a defensive maneuver where the team closely guards their opponent from baseline to baseline
Sentence 1
The Celtics were behind and put on a full court press hoping to change the course of the game.
Meaning 2
an aggressive defense
Sentence 2
In order to get the contract, we will have to get everyone involved in a full court press on the other company.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a defensive maneuver where the team closely guards their opponent from baseline to baseline
Sentence 1
The Celtics were behind and put a full court press hoping to change the course of the game.
Meaning 2
an aggressive defense
Sentence 2
The Republicans in the 2016 election put a full court press on their voter base in order to win the Presidency for Donald Trump.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
any game in which two players oppose each other There are many more idioms using the term "game" as a noun, for example: It's a whole different game; It's a whole different ball game; It's a new game; That's an old game. There are also more idioms using "game" as an adjective as in game plan (above) and He's game. (He will play the game). The student or reader can think of ways to use this idiom in sentences or his or her own, at work, at play or at home. Other terms commonly used which derive from many sports and games, rather than a specific one, are those associated with play, player, and teams.
Sentence 1
Tennis is a game at which two can play.
Meaning 2
similar strategies that two people play, often in opposition to win or cause psychic harm
Sentence 2
"Oh, so you've had and affair! Two can play that game.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a strategy that changes the game
Sentence 1
You might need a game changer for your marriage.
Meaning 2
changing a business, war or personal strategy
Sentence 2
"Go from a game player to a successful game changer. The Oxford MBA is your opportunity to transform yourself and your ambitions."
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a plan to win the game
Sentence 1
What's the game plan for the play-off?
Meaning 2
a plan to win in anything in life, if not life itself
Sentence 2
What's the game plan to win this advertising contract?
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be at a disadvantage in playing the game as above
Sentence 1
I got the short end of the stick.
Meaning 2
to get (have) less than one thinks one should have; to feel cheated
Sentence 2
I always get the short end of the stick.

Derivation

This dates back to the medieval gambling practice of throwing a stick to your opponent who would catch and hold it. Players would alternate hands around the stick until one won by having "the upper hand" on the stick, no room being left for another hand.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to begin to understand something, to be actively involved
Sentence 1
You'll get into the swing of things soon. You've only been here a month.
Meaning 2
to be actively involved
Sentence 2
The president of the corporation told his financial officer that he was doing well; he was getting into the swing of things.

Derivation

This idiom refers primarily to the word "swing" as an action and not to a specific sports term.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to take-off or leave the ground (The engine is already started and the plane is on the runway.)
Sentence 1
The children got their model plane off the ground.
Meaning 2
to have begun something and be on the way to a successful conclusion or completion
Sentence 2
If you don't get your work done, this project won't get off the ground.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to understand something
Sentence 1
You're getting better at surfing. You're get the hang of it.
Meaning 2
to understand something
Sentence 2
Are you getting get the hang of that new business?

Derivation

The terms "hang ten and hang five are surfing terms referring to the number of toes used to grip the side of a surfboard. The use of many of the "hang" terms could have derived from these surfing terms.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
A player is out if he doesn't hit the ball hard enough to get to first base and is tagged out. If he gets to first base, he may score a run.
Sentence 1
The batter hit a line drive and got to first base.
Meaning 2
to advance something, to do well enough to get a good start on something
Sentence 2
I wish I could get to first base with my boss.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to shake the dice without cheating
Sentence 1
I hope the dealer will shake the dice fairly.
Meaning 2
to treat someone evenly, to be fair
Sentence 2
Do the poor in this country get a fair shake?
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to compete for money
Sentence 1
That horse will give the crowd a run for it's money.
Meaning 2
to do the best one can in a competitive situation
Sentence 2
We'll give our competitor a run for their money. I think we can make the best computer peripheral.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to give a fish a line in order to catch it; to give someone a line/rope in order to pull them in
Sentence 1
I hope to catch a nice German Brown with this line, hook, bait, and sinker. Throw out a line to that boat, so they can dock at the pier.
Meaning 2
to tell someone something favorable so they become interested in you; usually the person wants a date
Sentence 2
That line you gave Amy, that you had never been in love before you met her, is not true.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to give another ship plenty of room to pass by
Sentence 1
Give the tanker a wide berth.
Meaning 2
to stay away from someone or something
Sentence 2
Give the drug dealer a wide berth. He is bad.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to shoot the best one can
Sentence 1
He gave his best shot at the target and made a bull's eye.
Meaning 2
to do one's best
Sentence 2
See what you can do. Give the assignment your best shot.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to give the game away by not playing well or showing one's strategy to the opposing team
Sentence 1
The team didn't play well. They gave the game away. Don't give the game away by showing your cards.
Meaning 2
to show or reveal a strategy
Sentence 2
If you show them the ad, you'll give the game away.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
follow the rules of the game
Sentence 1
Please go by the board. You advanced too far.
Meaning 2
bending the rules
Sentence 2
Did Enron go by the board? They bent the financial disclosure rules.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to try to win
Sentence 1
She went for it and won the World Cup downhill.
Meaning 2
to try one's best
Sentence 2
Go for it! Try to be a doctor.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to go off the deck of a boat into the water
Sentence 1
There was a terrible storm and the captain yelled, "man overboard."
Meaning 2
to do too much, to do something to excess
Sentence 2
Don't go overboard on decorations for the party. I don't want to spend too much.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
in baseball a batter can "pinch hit" or substitute for another batter
Sentence 1
Send in the first baseman to bat for the pitcher.
Meaning 2
to substitute for someone; to support someone
Sentence 2
Will you go to bat for Jane? She's trying to get a promotion.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
1) a home run in baseball with the bases loaded (on all bases); 4 runs scored. 2) in tennis: the player wins all four tennis opens: the French, Wimbledon, Australian and the U.S. 3) in the card game, bridge, when a player takes all 13 tricks.
Sentence 1
Rafael Nadal won 14 and lost 6 grand slam tournaments.
Meaning 2
A super win
Sentence 2
The Republicans scored a home run in the 1952 election when Eisenhower ran for President. The Republicans won both the Senate and the House.

Derivation

The original meaning may have come from baseball.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to stay with something
Sentence 1
Hang in there. The sea is rough.
Meaning 2
to persist in doing something, to stay with something
Sentence 2
Hang in there. Staying on a low fat diet is no fun.

Derivation

The sailor, wind surfer, glider counterbalances the angle of the boat, surfboard, windsurfer by hanging out over the water.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
hang loose to relax
Sentence 1
Relax and hang loose as you ride the wave.
Meaning 2
to relax
Sentence 2
Hang loose about the boss' report. You're tense.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to reach base, without being called "out," after hitting a ball
Sentence 1
Joe DiMaggio had the longest hitting streak in baseball history, fifty-six consecutive hits, a total of 91 hits, in 1941.
Meaning 2
to do well, to be recognized for something by the public
Sentence 2
You have a hit with your new spring clothing line. Madonna has had many hit songs.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to throw a ball especially well, with a twist, curve, great speed
Sentence 1
The pitcher has something on the ball and struck out the batter.
Meaning 2
capable and skilled
Sentence 2
We should hire her. She has a lot on the ball.

Derivation

In baseball, the pitcher plays a more important role than in the English rounders from which baseball developed (The first baseball game was played in l847). By spinning the ball, usually by using saliva or spit, American pitchers could strike out batters easily. He was then said to "have something on the ball." The expression was soon used to mean anyone who is effective or skilled at what he does. In 1920 the "spitball" rule began. This stated that any pitcher putting any "foreign substance" on the ball would be suspended from playing.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
One's opponent has an illegal hand.
Sentence 1
I have the cards stacked against me. You've been cheating.
Meaning 2
to have a disadvantage
Sentence 2
The homeless have the cards stacked against them.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
He is next in the lineup to bat.
Sentence 1
There are two on (base) and Babe Ruth is up.
Meaning 2
He or she is next.
Sentence 2
You're up. They want you to speak next.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a competitor in the strongest, heaviest division
Sentence 1
Joe Louis was a great heavyweight boxer.
Meaning 2
to be the most important
Sentence 2
International Business Machines is a heavyweight in the computer business.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to entangle a boat, raft or fishing line in something,such as a part of a tree, a plant, in the bottom of a stream or lake
Sentence 1
My fishing line has hit a snag at the bottom of a stream.
Meaning 2
to be temporarily stopped
Sentence 2
We've hit a snag in the arms accord talks.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to hit another boxer below the belt
Sentence 1
It is illegal to hit a boxer below the belt.
Meaning 2
to hurt someone unnecessarily
Sentence 2
He hit below the belt in that argument when he criticized her appearance.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to hit the bottom of a lake with a boat, a canoe or a fishing line
Sentence 1
We hit the bottom of the stream and had to push the canoe into high water.
Meaning 2
to be at the lowest or worst point
Sentence 2
The economy hit bottom in this fiscal quarter.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
the horse is running its fastest
Sentence 1
That horse hit its stride at the second turn.
Meaning 2
to do one's best
Sentence 2
He's finally hit his stride and is doing his job well.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
A ball hit hard up the middle might score a hit, the batter reaching base safely. It also might help help a runner on 3rd score a run.
Sentence 1
Derek Jeter hit a ball hard up the middle.
Meaning 2
being aggressive rather than "cute or clever"
Sentence 2
“This wasn’t the time for compromise. With Trump and Cruz fighting for the nomination, Democrats and Obama should drive the ball hard up the middle and quit trying to be cute and clever.“ Principia in St. Louis
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
An ace is the highest card in each suit. To hold all the aces gives one a distinct advantage.
Sentence 1
They scored a grand slam in bridge last night. Her partner held all the aces.
Meaning 2
to have an advantage
Sentence 2
After the Second World War the United States held all the aces in developing a space program and advanced nuclear technology.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
Hunting dogs barking at game or prey until the hunter can arrive
Sentence 1
The dogs held the stag at bay until the hunters came.
Meaning 2
to keep something or someone stopped awhile until something else can be done
Sentence 2
They held the drug dealer at bay until the police could come.

Derivation

From a French medieval sports term, "abai", meaning to bark at game and hold it for the hunter.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to hit the golf ball into the hole with one stroke
Sentence 1
On the ninth hole he hit a hole in one.
Meaning 2
to succeed the first time
Sentence 2
He got a hole in one with that sale. He sold a house in ten minutes.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to play a game on a team's home field or court
Sentence 1
The Eagles have a home court advantage when they play football in Philadelphia.
Meaning 2
to have an advantage
Sentence 2
I had a home court advantage when they argued.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to hit the ball so hard that the batter can circle the bases and score a run
Sentence 1
Barry Bonds hit 70 home runs in 2001.
Meaning 2
to do something well to be a winner
Sentence 2
You scored a home run with that presentation. I think we'll get the contract.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be caught on something
Sentence 1
The fish is hooked on my new lure.
Meaning 2
to be addicted to something
Sentence 2
The drug addict is hooked on heroin.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to run hounds or dogs after something
Sentence 1
Slave owners hounded runaway slaves to try to bring them back. They considered slaves property.
Meaning 2
to urge continually
Sentence 2
Please don't hound me about getting the house painted. I'll do it when I can.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
the offensive team gathers together and decides on the next play
Sentence 1
After the huddle, the quarterback threw a long pass to the tight end.
Meaning 2
to confer or go into conference to decide something
Sentence 2
Let's get the senior partners together and huddle to decide on the next move in this trial. (verb)
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be in good physical condition
Sentence 1
He's in good shape for the soccer season. He has been running five miles three times a week.
Meaning 2
to be in good condition
Sentence 2
That company is in good shape. It's price earnings ratio is under twelve.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
the ball has been hit in the ballpark
Sentence 1
The batter has a triple; it is still in the ball park. He hit it out of the park yesterday. He had a home run.
Meaning 2
"In the ballpark" is a common idiom used in business or politics, usually in negotiations. If a number is in the ball park, it could be considered worth negotiating. It is not a final agreement. If it is "out of the park, " it probably is not worth agonizing over to achieve a settlement.
Sentence 2
One million dollars is worth talking about. It is in the ballpark.

Derivation

The ballpark is probably derived from a baseball park.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
in the final part of a race track between the last turn and the finish line
Sentence 1
The favorite horse was ahead by two lengths going into the stretch.
Meaning 2
in the final stages of an event, such as a business or political campaign
Sentence 2
Although the Democrats were ahead in the political campaign in August, the Republicans moved ahead in the stretch.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
throwing the ball or another object such as a horseshoe
Sentence 1
He is in there pitching the ball to the batter.
Meaning 2
trying hard to do one's best
Sentence 2
Jane is always in there pitching for our legal team.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
There are 9 innings in an American baseball game. A game will go into overtime when there is a tie, for instance 2 to 2.
Sentence 1
The Yankees won the ball game in the 9th inning, 5 to 2 runs.
Meaning 2
Part of a ballgame, whether baseball or in business or pleasure.
Sentence 2
"It is now the President's inning, and he has the masses of people behind him." (From "The Bully Pulpit," a book by Doris Kearns Goodwin about President Theodore Roosevelt.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be fully engaged in the "swing"
Sentence 1
You need to take the racquet into a full swing in order to hit the ball properly.
Meaning 2
to move fast or efficiently
Sentence 2
Let's get the factory into full swing. We'll need those cars by November.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
Baseball has nine innings unless the game is tied; then they go overtime. If a team is behind in the bottom of the ninth, it is their last chance to win the game.
Sentence 1
The home team was behind 3 to 2 in the bottom of the ninth. It was the team's last chance to win.
Meaning 2
It's the last chance to win.
Sentence 2
A business is trying to win a contract. Their opponents are ahead of them. They have one more chance to win the contract. It's the bottom of the ninth.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to begin before the official starts the race
Sentence 1
He jumped the gun and will have to start again.
Meaning 2
to begin too soon
Sentence 2
Please don't jump the gun and begin to prepare the budget until all the figures are here.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to keep one's head above water by swimming or treading water
Sentence 1
Keep your head above water if you fall out of the boat.
Meaning 2
to stay ahead in one's work
Sentence 2
I have to work ten hours a day to keep my head above water.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to continue to throw the ball
Sentence 1
He kept pitching the ball even though he was injured.
Meaning 2
to continue to work on something
Sentence 2
Keep pitching. The boss will recognize your good work.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to continue playing or rolling the ball (so your opponents cannot get it)
Sentence 1
Don't let the other team get the ball. Keep the ball rolling.
Meaning 2
to keep something going, to continue to work on something
Sentence 2
Jill, it's your responsibility to keep the ball rolling on the ads for our new account.

Derivation

to keep the croquet ball rolling so your opponent cannot get his turn

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
watch the ball in a ball game
Sentence 1
"A Mets Usher for Five Decades Keeps His Eye on the Ball"
Meaning 2
stay focused
Sentence 2
There are a lot of distractions; keep your eye on the ball.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
A football game starts when one team kicks the ball to the other team.
Sentence 1
The Bears game against the Lions starts at 2:00. Be there for the kick off.
Meaning 2
to begin a long term project, a campaign
Sentence 2
The chairman kicked off the meeting with last year's result.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to start a football game by kicking the ball to the opposing team
Sentence 1
The kick-off of the football game was promptly at 2:00.
Meaning 2
to start or begin a project
Sentence 2
The kick-off date for that project will be April first.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to hit a ball out of the baseball park
Sentence 1
Babe Ruth knocked the ball out of Yankee Stadium.
Meaning 2
to have a great idea, to do something extremely well.
Sentence 2
The President knocked one out of the ballpark at the NATO meeting.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to mark the exact place before shooting the marble or ball by putting one's knuckles at this spot.
Sentence 1
Please knuckle down before you shoot that marble.
Meaning 2
to work hard
Sentence 2
Knuckle down to work. You're talking too much.

Derivation

From the game of marbles: a player had to "knuckle down"by another player if he moved his marble before shooting it. The following are some interesting idioms which are probably related to cards and gambling, but it is difficult to be sure of the derivation.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
From baseball: There are 9 innings in a game, unless the game is tied, when it goes into overtime until the tie is broken.
Sentence 1
It's the last inning and the Phillies are up to bat against the Braves. The game is tied 3 to 3. It may go into overtime unless the Phillies or the Braves get a run in the 9th.
Meaning 2
"The game" of an election, is almost over; the last inning of an election could be the last few weeks before voters vote.
Sentence 2
Let's get this act together. It's the last inning: we are down 3% and need to win those 5 Senators to take control.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The lead dog is the first or lead dog of a pack of dogs pulling sleds over snow. This idiom is used particularly in northern places, such as Alaska, but not necessarily.
Sentence 1
The most famous sled dog, with a statue honoring him in New York Central Park is Balto, who saved children's lives in 1933 by delivering medicine in Alaska.
Meaning 2
to manage, lead
Sentence 2
"Lead Dog's ability to manage this complex program is masterful." Will you be the lead dog on this project?

Derivation

There have been sleddogs pulling dogsleds for at least a thousand years.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
Ropes are integral (central) to the sport of sailing
Sentence 1
If you want to be a sailor, you need to learn how the ropes work for the jib and main sail.
Meaning 2
to learn how to do anything
Sentence 2
You'll learn the ropes of this job soon enough.

Derivation

Hundreds of ropes were needed to work the sails of the great ships that sailed the oceans in years past. It took many months for a sailor to learn (to use) the ropes. After months at sea, he would have learned the ropes.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
In baseball their are four bases, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Fourth base is home; if a runner gets to 4th base he scores a run. If the runner is left on third base at the end of an inning, there is no score.
Sentence 1
The batter scored a double and then stole third, but when the inning was over, he was still on third, so no run was scored for his team.
Meaning 2
To try, but not score.
Sentence 2
The young boy asked his date to the prom. He really liked her and had dated her for awhile, but the captain of the football team asked her to the prom, so the boy didn't score with her.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to start sailing, start the motor, let out the sails
Sentence 1
We're out of the harbor. Let her rip.
Meaning 2
to start something
Sentence 2
Let's go. Let her rip.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
level or flat playing field is important so that the play is fair.
Sentence 1
We need a level playing field for soccer, so one team does not have to run uphill.
Meaning 2
to be fair, to be equal
Sentence 2
They had more troops. We bombed them, so we had a level playing field before we sent in our troops.

Derivation

The idiom above, used in the Gulf War of 1990 refers to equalizing the numbers of ground troops rather than a level area for men to fight. In this case, the idiom is so far removed from its literal meaning of a flat or level field it becomes rather confusing.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be in a division for persons who are light in weight and not as strong as those in the heavyweight division.
Sentence 1
Carlos Ortiz was a lightweight champion in the 1960's.
Meaning 2
to be of lesser importance
Sentence 2
He can't help you. He is a lightweight in this corporation.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
as a duck sits on water
Sentence 1
That target practice was easy, like hitting a sitting duck.
Meaning 2
to be unaware of something about to happen
Sentence 2
The ememy's troops were like sitting ducks. They did not suspect an attack.

Derivation

A sitting duck is easier to shoot than one that is flying. A stationary target is easier to hit than a moving one.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to put the gun barrel down
Sentence 1
I lowered my sights as the clay pidgeon dropped.
Meaning 2
to take or accept less
Sentence 2
I have to lower my sights about my career. I am not going to get a Master's in Business Administration.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to put the boom of a sailboat down (See DERIVATION below for definition of "boom")
Sentence 1
Lower the boom as we come into the harbor. We won't need as much wind.
Meaning 2
to reprimand, scold or get angry at someone
Sentence 2
Joe was not performing at work. The boss lowered the boom on him. He told him to improve his work or he would be fired.

Derivation

The boom is a heavy piece of wood or metal attached to the mast of a ship to which the sail is attached. Sailors must be careful to watch the boom when it is lowered or they might be hit on the head.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
Major league baseball or football teams are the best teams.
Sentence 1
The New York Yankees is a major league baseball team.
Meaning 2
The most important person or business.
Sentence 2
The president of the Ford Motor Corporation is a major league player.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
made a hit in baseball or in another ball sport
Sentence 1
Hank Aaron got three hits in the world series. He ranks third in runs and hits. He was a great hitter.
Meaning 2
to do well
Sentence 2
He made a hit with his girlfriend when he took her out to dinner.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to throw, toss or hurl an object
Sentence 1
The President of the U.S. introduced Gorbachov to the game of horseshoe pitching and asked him to make a pitch.
Meaning 2
to offer something, to support someone or something
Sentence 2
The actor will make a pitch for the new product on TV.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to win points in a competition
Sentence 1
Basketball players make lots of points in a game.
Meaning 2
to make a successful move
Sentence 2
Did you make points with the boss by working overtime?
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to stay a team member after the coach takes out thoseplayers he doesn't want
Sentence 1
He made the cut. He'll play with the team this fall.
Meaning 2
to stay with the business or agency after the manager has fired or laid off people
Sentence 2
He made the cut. He'll be hired as our new account executive.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
Waves make it difficult to steer a boat or to stay upright in the water
Sentence 1
Don't make waves for that small boat. Give her a wide berth.
Meaning 2
to cause trouble, to do something that is different
Sentence 2
Don't make waves for the boss. She is under pressure.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to defensively try to stop the offense, man to man, as opposed to zone or area defense
Sentence 1
The basketball team's man to man coverage was successful. They won the game.
Meaning 2
to assign one or more men/women to the same number of people in another business
Sentence 2
Remember now, we're in tight man-to-man coverage: one boardroom executive whispers to another as the visiting team of executives arrives.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
the last point of the match
Sentence 1
"We had a good time since match point," said Federer.
Meaning 2
To debate a decisive point or the end of negotiations
Sentence 2
Business: “We’re down to at match point. It’s almost the end of the game; whoever gets this wins the contract.”
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a baseball player or team that is good, but not the best
Sentence 1
Dom DiMaggio played for the San Francisco Seals, a minor league team, before he went to the Boston Red Sox.
Meaning 2
a person, business or other entity that is not the most important
Sentence 2
The Blue Corporation is a minor league business. Go to the boss; Jerry is a minor league player.

Derivation

A minor league baseball team plays in small towns and cities. Minor leagues train baseball players for the major leagues.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
For the football term "quarterback" go to that idiom. Fans replaying a play after the fact.
Sentence 1
Tom Brady, the quarterback of the New England Patriots, threw a pass for a touchdown but the play was reviewed by news media later.
Meaning 2
To decide what could have happened after the fact. Hindsight.
Sentence 2
Avid football fans frequently are "Monday morning quarterbacks," reviewing their teams' play.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
the name of a particular game or sport; what something is called
Sentence 1
The name of the game is baseball.
Meaning 2
the goal or objective
Sentence 2
The name of the game in New York City is to hustle.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The horses are running together
Sentence 1
They were running neck and neck in the stretch.
Meaning 2
to be an even race
Sentence 2
Who are the best students? Jim and Jane are neck and neck. They both get straight "A"s.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a change in circumstances in the ball game, ie the game is tied after one team was ahead.
Sentence 1
The Dodgers scored four runs and it was a new ball game
Meaning 2
a new set of circumstances
Sentence 2
Now that we have the financing, it's a new ball game.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to not get a good roll of dice after shaking them
Sentence 1
You didn't get any great shake with that roll.
Meaning 2
not really important
Sentence 2
I like John, but he really isn't any great shakes.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
An extremely dangerous wrestling match because no grips or "holds" are forbidden
Sentence 1
He broke his opponents arm because no holds were barred.
Meaning 2
to do anything to achieve a result
Sentence 2
No holds are barred in international arms sales.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
an easy game requires little sweat or perspiration
Sentence 1
That was a no sweat game.
Meaning 2
no problem
Sentence 2
I'll do the job. No sweat!
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The front or "nose" of the plane drops perpendicular to the ground
Sentence 1
The plane went into a nose dive before the pilot bailed out.
Meaning 2
to drop or fall rapidly
Sentence 2
The U.S.S.R.'s economy went into a nose dive in 1991.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
extremely difficult to win or accomplish something
Sentence 1
She won't win that tennis match, not by a long shot.
Meaning 2
extremely difficult to win or accomplish something
Sentence 2
He won't get that contract, not by a long shot.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
the runner or player has taken a position away from the base he has touched previously in the game
Sentence 1
The runner was thrown out, because he was off base.
Meaning 2
a person or project is not where it should be
Sentence 2
She is off base when she talks about religion during working hours.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to remove a fish from a hook
Sentence 1
The fly fisherman took the german brown trout off the hook in the "no-kill" area of the stream.
Meaning 2
to take away someone's responsibility for something
Sentence 2
Please let me off the hook for our dinner engagement. I have to work that evening.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
moving at the start
Sentence 1
The sailboats were off to a running start as they passed the buoys.
Meaning 2
a good start on something
Sentence 2
Good outline. You're off to a running start on that essay.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to push or attack the defense of the opposing team in order to make a point
Sentence 1
We need to improve our offensive play in order to win the football game next week.
Meaning 2
to have a strategic plan, to try to score
Sentence 2
We need an offensive play in order to get the order. Do you think we can lower the price?
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be safe from being tagged out by having a foot on base
Sentence 1
The bases are loaded; three runners are on base.
Meaning 2
One is doing the job correctly and according to what is expected.
Sentence 2
He's doing a good job with that case. He's on base in his approach to the jury.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
To follow the previous batter, to be next.
Sentence 1
Mike Trout is on deck as the next batter for the Los Angeles Angels.
Meaning 2
To succeed your predecessor (the person before you).
Sentence 2
Samantha is on deck to follow George in the negotiations.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to hit the target with a bow and arrow
Sentence 1
That arrow is on target.
Meaning 2
on schedule, precisely right
Sentence 2
Your estimate was on target.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
the term refers to the ropes around the boxing ring
Sentence 1
Mohammed Ali was winning the fight and his opponent was on the ropes unable to defend himself.
Meaning 2
If a person, business venture or politician is on the ropes, he or she is in a difficult place.
Sentence 2
The company was deeper in debt and on the ropes.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to open worms for bait for fishing
Sentence 1
Please open a can of worms for me.
Meaning 2
to do something that will uncover a number of problems
Sentence 2
The Watergate scandal opened a can of worms for the Republican Party.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The part of the year when there is unrestricted hunting of a particular animal.
Sentence 1
It's open season on deer now. You can kill doe.
Meaning 2
a time when one is criticized
Sentence 2
There was open season at the City Council meeting, when the mayor talked about raising taxes.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be out in the left field of the baseball park
Sentence 1
Hank Aaron was a outfielder. He played out in left field.
Meaning 2
to be away from the action, from what's happening
Sentence 2
He's out in left field. He won't be used on this mediation team.

Derivation

"Out in left field" does not have a negative connotation in the literal sense. Some of the U.S.' best ball players have been leftfielders. However, in the derrivative form it does.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be outside the boundaries of play
Sentence 1
the basketball went out of bounds and the game stopped.
Meaning 2
not correct, not according to the rules
Sentence 2
Swearing is out of bounds in this office. Please do not do it.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
not visible
Sentence 1
The birds are out of sight now and I missed a shot.
Meaning 2
too high
Sentence 2
This bill is out of sight. I won't pay it.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a standard for a hole on the golf course
Sentence 1
This is a par three hole. Seventy-two strokes is par for this course.
Meaning 2
what is expected of someone
Sentence 2
he missed the train, again. That is par for the course.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to give the baton, a hollow cylinder of about twelve inches, to the next runner in a relay race
Sentence 1
He finished his lap and passed the baton to the next runner.
Meaning 2
to continue the task
Sentence 2
The older generation is passing the baton to the younger generation.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to substitute for someone
Sentence 1
We need a run. John, will you pinch hit for the pitcher?
Meaning 2
to substitute for someone
Sentence 2
Mary, will you please pinchhit for John on this account, while he is on vacation?

Derivation

A batter who is not in the lineup for a particular date can pinch hit for another batter.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a substitute for another batter in the team lineup
Sentence 1
The substitute is used depending on the situation, tactical or other reasons.
Meaning 2
a substitute
Sentence 2
"I need a pinch-hitter for the meeting tomorrow as I have been called for jury duty."
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a throw or toss
Sentence 1
The pitcher made a fast pitch to the batter.
Meaning 2
a presentation, support
Sentence 2
He made a pitch for the Republican party at last nights' dinner.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to pitch a curve ball to the batter in baseball
Sentence 1
A curve ball moves away from the batter and is difficult to hit.
Meaning 2
to surprise someone unpleasantly
Sentence 2
I am sorry I couldn't answer the question. He threw a curve when he asked me about last years figures.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to throw or toss
Sentence 1
She pitched a fast one to the batter and he struck out.
Meaning 2
to make a presentation
Sentence 2
Pitch the project to the graphic artist to finish.

Derivation

Cricket was a popular sport before baseball developed in the nineteenth century. A thrown ball in cricket is a "pitch" and the cricket playing field is known as the "pitch". It may be that the word "pitch" came into baseball terminology from cricket.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to play the game with someone, usually for a short time
Sentence 1
Please play along with the team for awhile.
Meaning 2
to cooperate for a time
Sentence 2
Play along on this business arrangement until I can get a replacement.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to play a ball game with someone
Sentence 1
Let's play ball.
Meaning 2
to do business with someone, to cooperate
Sentence 2
Let's play ball and start negotiating the contract.

Derivation

Coaches in the 1920's used the term to get their teams to work together and play well.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
as opposed to soft ball, to throw a hard ball
Sentence 1
We play hardball in regular baseball. A softer ball is used in softball.
Meaning 2
to play tough, to play to win
Sentence 2
Let's play hardball on this contract. I want to come in at a lower price.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to succumb or fall into a planned trap
Sentence 1
When the arrogant gambler put all his money on the line holding a flush, he played into the opponent’s hand who held a royal flush.
Meaning 2
to give someone an advantage
Sentence 2
If you reveal the missile sites, you’ll play into the enemy’s hands.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to participate in a game or contest with fixed rules
Sentence 1
Do you know how to play the game of tennis?
Meaning 2
to know the rules and follow them; The game equals business or anything in which one competes in life.
Sentence 2
He is a good team player. He knows how to play the game.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to play a card in the trump or most powerful suit
Sentence 1
My trump card will take your ace.
Meaning 2
to try to win by using something powerful
Sentence 2
Play your trump card. Tell them we can get financing in two weeks.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to place a card or cards on the table from one's hand of cards so the game can continue
Sentence 1
Please play your card. I'm tired of waiting.
Meaning 2
to perform or play skillfully
Sentence 2
If you play your cards right, Rebecca, you'll get the job.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
teams play against each other until one team wins
Sentence 1
The two top teams in the league go to the play-offs.
Meaning 2
to compete to win something
Sentence 2
We're into the play-offs on this contract. Do your best to get it for us.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
A playbook is used in football; it describes moves on the football field for the team and coaches. They need to study the playbook before a game.
Sentence 1
All players are expected to memorize the plays in this new playbook for the season.
Meaning 2
A playbook can and often is used in a political campaign.
Sentence 2
This playbook, by our political consultants, is for the 2014 legislative campaign. It describes the strategy for the campaign, play by play.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
Playbook is a book of strategies: a compendium of plays for the team, whether football or other sports. However, it is so common, that it is used in other speech, such as business and dating.
Sentence 1
Please play defense according to the playbook.
Meaning 2
A new playbook: New strategies for your plan, whether for business, college or a girl or boyfriend.
Sentence 2
You need a new playbook for your new girlfriend.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to play a game or sport
Sentence 1
Mary is a good bridge player.
Meaning 2
to work with a group
Sentence 2
You can trust Alice. She is a good player.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to hold your cards close to your chest, so no one can see them
Sentence 1
He didn't want the others to see his cards, so he played them close to his chest.
Meaning 2
to not reveal your strategy
Sentence 2
Let's play it close to the chest. Don't show the murder weapon to the jury until later.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
An easy out for the opposing team; the batter hits a ball that goes almost straight up in the air and comes down for an easy catch in the infield. A fly ball is to the outfield.
Sentence 1
He swung hard and had a pop-up ending the inning.
Meaning 2
He or she made a great effort, but the result was a pop-up, and the cause was lost.
Sentence 2
Ben had a strategic theory, but it only resulted in a pop-up.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to kick the ball down the field
Sentence 1
It was fourth down and the Eagles punted the ball.
Meaning 2
A difficult decision can be punted to someone else, decided later.
Sentence 2
The U.S. Supreme Court punted the decision back to the lower court, to the appellate court to be decided later. (see the blog)
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to kick the ball to the opposing team, usually on the fourth down, when the ball needs to be turned over to the opposing team
Sentence 1
It was fourth down and the Redskins punted.
Meaning 2
no more options; There is nothing more one can do.
Sentence 2
They are not going to sign the contract. Let's punt.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to begin something that has been thought out or worked on previously
Sentence 1
The quarterback told his team to put the new play into action.
Meaning 2
to begin something
Sentence 2
Let's put that new ad into play on prime time on CBS.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to put the oar of a boat into the water to help move it
Sentence 1
Please put your oar in now that we are away from the dock.
Meaning 2
to help in a group decision
Sentence 2
The boss said, " I want all of you to put put your oar in and think carefully about these business projections for next year."
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to move in a particular way, usually with speed, along a measured course
Sentence 1
The harness horse was put through its paces.
Meaning 2
to show someone or something how to do something according to a predetermined standard
Sentence 2
Please put the new secretary through the paces and show her the routines.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The quarterback directs the offensive game of the team. He calls the plays.
Sentence 1
Johnny Unitas quarterbacked the Baltimore team to many victories.
Meaning 2
to direct a project
Sentence 2
Harry, you quarterback the computer buy-out.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to shoot quickly
Sentence 1
He was quick on the trigger and lived through the fight.
Meaning 2
to respond quickly
Sentence 2
He was quick on the trigger on that game show. He answered all the questions.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to run or compete in a timed event (same as against the clock)
Sentence 1
The horse raced against his previous time on the track.
Meaning 2
to hurry to meet a deadline
Sentence 2
We better race against time. The copy for the newspaper is due at four o'clock.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
Track and Field Sports: Raising the bar for high jumpers, for horses, or for track runners makes it more difficult. Lowering the bar makes it easier.
Sentence 1
The horses have to work harder jumping over those new bar heights.
Meaning 2
To make the job or decisions more difficult
Sentence 2
The Supreme Court raised the bar in a decision making it more difficult to show worker discrimination.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
sail pulled in
Sentence 1
Reef the sail, a storm is coming.
Meaning 2
Let's slow down and reef the sails.
Sentence 2
We've finished the project. Let's reef the sails.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to catch a wave as it is breaking in order to ride it on a surfboard
Sentence 1
There's a big wave. I am going to try and catch that one.
Meaning 2
to be supported; to get an opportunity
Sentence 2
" …but these concerns have not hurt Mr. Bush, who continues to ride a huge wave of support, according to the latest New York Times/CBS poll."(NY Times 5/14/2003)
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to ride a horse with rough shoes on its hooves over something
Sentence 1
The cowboys rode roughshod over the trail in order to get the cattle to market on time.
Meaning 2
to treat someone poorly
Sentence 2
Please don't ride roughshod on the new employee. Be nice.

Derivation

When cowboys took cattle a long distance to market the shoes on their horses became rough and would tear up the trail.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to sail through bad weather
Sentence 1
Let's ride out the storm.
Meaning 2
to persist in doing something difficult, to endure
Sentence 2
The prime minister decided to ride out the scandal.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be riding fast and/or dangerously
Sentence 1
He's riding for a fall in the steeplechase.
Meaning 2
to risk an accident or failure
Sentence 2
He's riding for a fall putting all his money in high risk stocks.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to have a seat near to the action of the game or fight
Sentence 1
He had a ringside seat at the Tyson fight.
Meaning 2
to be where the action is
Sentence 2
The general had a ringside seat just behind the troop lines.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
This is usually a gambling term. Opponents can roll dice to win a place on a board game, such as Monopoly or Parchessi, or to win chips and/or money in, for instance, a game of craps.
Sentence 1
I rolled the dice and came up with a lucky seven.
Meaning 2
to take a chance
Sentence 2
I rolled the dice when I moved to Hollywood hoping to get into the movies.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to support, to cheer for
Sentence 1
He roots for the Pittsburgh Pirates, because he is from Pittsburgh.
Meaning 2
to support
Sentence 2
We root for the government to cut taxes.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to row against the current or up the stream
Sentence 1
You need to row upstream a bit in order to catch fish.
Meaning 2
to be difficult, to be in a difficult position
Sentence 2
For the past year or two my marriage has been like rowing upstream.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
To sail well, the crew and the ropes need to be taut and in good order. The captain of the ship controls this.
Sentence 1
The captain runs a tight ship. There have been no accidents.
Meaning 2
to be in control, to have good organizational skills
Sentence 2
It's good that the new executive will run a tight ship. No one knew what his job responsibilities were before.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to stop or block players of the opponent team so they cannot get to the carrier
Sentence 1
The guard ran interference for the quarterback and he made a first down.
Meaning 2
To get someone to do something for you so you can accomplish a goal.
Sentence 2
Get Jill in accounting to run interference for you by presenting the numbers.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be second
Sentence 1
She was runner-up in the hurdles.
Meaning 2
to be second in any competition
Sentence 2
We were runner-up in that ad campaign. We will not get the contract, but we came close.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to sail through a storm
Sentence 1
We sailed through that storm better than I thought.
Meaning 2
to do something easily
Sentence 2
He sailed through that assignment.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
the number of points gained or lost in a competition
Sentence 1
What was the score of the baseball game yesterday?
Meaning 2
an account of what is happening in something
Sentence 2
What's the score on your sales this week?
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to win or lose points in competition
Sentence 1
Wilt Chamberlain scored 3033 points for the Philadelphia Warriors basketball team in 1960. The Canadian Olympic Men's Hockey Team scored three goals to the U.S. two goals in 2002.
Meaning 2
to do well
Sentence 2
Did you score with that pretty girl you met last week?

Derivation

Originally, scores were kept by making marks or cutting notches on something. To score still has his meaning, as well as those associated with sports and games.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be equal for all competitors, to have no handicap
Sentence 1
He is a scratch golfer in this tournament.
Meaning 2
to be equal
Sentence 2
We are scratch players in this deal.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to eliminate a horse from a particular race
Sentence 1
The horse was scratched from the race.
Meaning 2
to eliminate or stop a project
Sentence 2
Scratch that ad campaign. It won't work.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to line up the sight of a rifle or bow
Sentence 1
I have set my sights on that deer over there.
Meaning 2
to want or desire something
Sentence 2
I have set my sights on that job at the bank.

Derivation

A sight is a device for aiming a gun or bow.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
sails not tied down; the sails are flapping in the wind.
Sentence 1
We're seven sheets to the wind. Let's pull in the sails.
Meaning 2
to be drunk, usually on alcohol
Sentence 2
He's seven sheets to the wind. Who's the designated driver?
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to improve one's physical shape in order to perform better
Sentence 1
That baseball team bettershape up this spring in spring practice.
Meaning 2
to do or perform better
Sentence 2
You better shape up at the office or you will lose your job.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to shoot a duck or bird down
Sentence 1
He shot down the Canada goose. It won't fly anymore.
Meaning 2
to stop something because it won't work
Sentence 2
John shot down Fred's proposal. It just won't fly
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to shoot another person's mouth off
Sentence 1
The term is not used in the literal sense.
Meaning 2
to talk too much
Sentence 2
He wouldn't keep quiet. He shot his mouth off about his quarrel with Emily.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be taken out of the game / to be injured
Sentence 1
He was sidelined because of a knee injury.
Meaning 2
to stop working on something
Sentence 2
We better sideline that project.

Derivation

The lines of the playing field show where the game is to be played. Players within the lines or boundaries are playing the game. Those outside the boundaries are not playing or sidelined.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a shot made by jumping in the air over the basket and throwing the basketball into the basket
Sentence 1
Michael Jordan slam dunked the ball to win the game for Chicago
Meaning 2
a decisive action which was easy to accomplish
Sentence 2
We got the merger. I slam dunked the deal.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to pull the gun slowly from the gun's holster
Sentence 1
He was slow on the draw in the gunfight and was shot by the sheriff.
Meaning 2
to be slow to understand
Sentence 2
Bill didn't understand the joke. He's slow on the draw.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
Moving in small increments, for example, by stealing bases rather than hitting runs.
Sentence 1
The manager opted to pursue a small ball strategy by stealing bases, rather than trying to get several bases at a time, by home runs or extra base hits.
Meaning 2
The legislature sought to achieve their goals by proceeding incrementaly, a small ball approach, rather than through major legislation.
Sentence 2
The Democrats urged their counterparts in the Republican Party to work with them by proceeding in small steps.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The batter steps up to the plate and gets ready to hit the ball.
Sentence 1
The batter looked for coaching signals as he stepped up to the plate.
Meaning 2
Anyone in any occupation who gets ready to do something.
Sentence 2
Step up to the plate and start your schoolwork.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to hold a gun up at the shoulder and shoot it
Sentence 1
Hold the gun and shoot it straight from the shoulder.
Meaning 2
to be frank
Sentence 2
I want to hear the news, good or bad. Let's hear it, straight from the shoulder.

Derivation

The usual way of shooting a gun is to hold it level and pressed to the shoulder.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The baseball player has three strikes and is out for that time at bat.
Sentence 1
Strike out the batter.
Meaning 2
to fail at doing something.
Sentence 2
If he doesn't get the appointment, he will strike out. He tried to get the appointment and struck out.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The fish took part of the line, the sinker (weights) and the hook in his mouth.
Sentence 1
The golden trout took the fly hook, line and sinker. (This practically never happens.)
Meaning 2
to believe someone completely
Sentence 2
He told me he loved me and I believed him, hook, line and sinker.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to swim against the tide or pull of the ocean
Sentence 1
You can get very tired and drown if you swim against the tide.
Meaning 2
to do something difficult, to do the opposite of everyone else
Sentence 2
I'm having trouble keeping up with my schoolwork. I'm swimming against the tide.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a stroke or blow with one or both arms, with or without an object, in a large arc. In many sports the player uses equipment, such as a bat, golf club, racquet, to hit a ball. He swings at the ball.
Sentence 1
In golf, keep your head down as you swing at the ball.
Meaning 2
to do something, to make something happen
Sentence 2
It will be a hard job, but I'll take a swing at it.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
A tackle (noun) is a defensive player on an American football team; the tackle tries to bring down players on the opposite team. To tackle is the verb. ...
Sentence 1
The Philadelphia Eagle defensive lineman tackled the quarterback as he was trying to throw the football.
Meaning 2
to vigorously work on a project
Sentence 2
"Let's get the report done. Will you please tackle the statistics needed for the report!"
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The back or "tail" of the plane drops and starts spinning
Sentence 1
The plane went into a tailspin before the pilot bailed out.
Meaning 2
to drop or fall rapidly ( as above in "nosedive"); to be anxious or extremely concerned
Sentence 2
When I lost my job, my budget went into a tailspin. He went into a tailspin when his secretary said she was quitting.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to buy a ticket or "chance" on a prize
Sentence 1
I'll take a chance on winning that stuffed bear at the carnival.
Meaning 2
to try something that is not certain or sure
Sentence 2
I'll take a chance on buying that stock. The earnings appear good.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
changing direction to take advantage of the wind
Sentence 1
Let's take a new tack in approaching the harbor.
Meaning 2
to try a different approach, a new method
Sentence 2
Let's take a different or new tack to that mathematical problem. We aren't getting a solution.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
If the game is rained out, the patron gets a coupon or rain check to go another time.
Sentence 1
The game was canceled because of the rain. They took a rain check for another day.
Meaning 2
to change a date, a time for meeting
Sentence 2
Let's take a rain check for that dinner date. We can come next week.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to throw a ball into something; to shoot at something with a gun
Sentence 1
I' ll take a shot at that basket. Take a shot at at that deer.
Meaning 2
to try to do something
Sentence 2
I'll take a shot at taking the murder case, even though it's difficult.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to divide into opposing teams
Sentence 1
Will the players please choose and take sides.
Meaning 2
to favor one viewpoint over another
Sentence 2
I didn't want to take sides in that argument.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be hit on the chin
Sentence 1
The boxer took a punch to the chin and is down.
Meaning 2
to have something bad happen to one
Sentence 2
He took it on the chin today. He was fired.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
A sailboat needs wind in its sails to move
Sentence 1
That boat tacked in front of us and took the wind out of our sails.
Meaning 2
to stop or slow someone down
Sentence 2
He didn't get a good evaluation. It really took the wind out of his sails.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
A sailing maneuver in which one boat gets between the wind and the opponent's sail, thereby slowing the boat's speed
Sentence 1
In the San Francisco America Cup matches the competing sailboats often took the wind out of their opponent's sails in order to reach a goal faster or to finish first.
Meaning 2
to thwart; discouragement
Sentence 2
Tom called my girl first and took the wind out of my sails.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
"take-off": the plane leaves the ground and is in the air; "fly": the plane is in the air
Sentence 1
With Rebecca in charge, this plan will take-off . With Harry in charge, this plan will fly.
Meaning 2
(Same as "to get something off the ground" ie, to be on the way to a successful conclusion)
Sentence 2
If you don't get your work done, this project won't take-off. Flying was a sport before it was a means of transportation.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
A target is something one shoots or aims at for scoring.
Sentence 1
Please aim your arrow at the target.
Meaning 2
a goal or objective
Sentence 2
The target for attendance at the meeting tomorrow is one hundred per cent.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to shoot at a target
Sentence 1
Target the bullseye. (In archery) Target the munitions factory. (in flying/bombing)
Meaning 2
to try to achieve an objective or goal
Sentence 2
Please target young parents for your next marketing effort.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a group of players in a game or sport
Sentence 1
The Philadelphia Eagles are a professional football team.
Meaning 2
a group associated together for a common purpose
Sentence 2
Richard Cheney, Secretary of Defense for the United States, was part of the President's team for the Gulf War offensive.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be part of the playing team
Sentence 1
Pete Rose was a good team player for the Phillie's baseball team in the '80's.
Meaning 2
to cooperate with the group
Sentence 2
We need team players on our quality control group.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to place a golf ball on a tee to be hit
Sentence 1
He teed it up on 9th hole and hit a hole in one.
Meaning 2
To begin something
Sentence 2
Tee it up. Begin your part of the presentation.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The game is over
Sentence 1
That's the ball game. They won eight to seven.
Meaning 2
It is finished
Sentence 2
That's the ball game. They got the contract.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
how the ball reacts to a surface or racquet
Sentence 1
That's the way the ball bounces in Aspen, Colorado. The altitude is 8500 feet.
Meaning 2
the way things happen
Sentence 2
He was fired. That's too bad, but that's the way the ball bounces in a recession.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
It's your turn to hit the ball
Sentence 1
Where's the ball? It's in your court.
Meaning 2
It's the other persons decision or turn to act
Sentence 2
We can't do anymore on this project. It's in the boss' court now.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
In American football, the defensive team adds extra men to rush the quarterback. A blitz is an all-out attack. The term may have been used first by the military for offensive attacks.
Sentence 1
The Cowboys used the blitz to get to the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. The defensive line blitzed the quarterback.
Meaning 2
Usually, used offensively as an all-out attack, but can be used defensively as in football.
Sentence 2
The Nazi Blitzgreig, a combination of light armour and men in World War II, was a "blitz" as it rolled over the lowland countries at the beginning of the war. It blitzed The Netherlands and Belgium.

Derivation

The derivation is used in the sentence above. It was a German military offensive in WWII.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The lower side or portion of something
Sentence 1
The coin flipped and landed on the downside revealing the heads side of the coin.
Meaning 2
the bad things about something
Sentence 2
The downside is the amount of money we'll need to loan.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
the event
Sentence 1
We're going to the "Big Game" this year, the Stanford-Cal football game.
Meaning 2
competition, as in business, relationships or most of life
Sentence 2
There are international rules for the game of war; poison gas is forbidden.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The inside of a track is shorter than the outside; it is easier to win if one is on the inside of a track.
Sentence 1
The horse started on the inside track.
Meaning 2
to have information or a position which will make it easier to win
Sentence 2
He will be able to talk to the head of Disney first, because he has the inside track. He worked with Disney on a previous project.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The upper side or portion of something
Sentence 1
People had a hard time climbing up the hill because the upside of the hill was very steep.
Meaning 2
the good things about something
Sentence 2
The upside about the joint venture is the talent we'll gain.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to continue to gamble after losing
Sentence 1
You are going to throw good money after bad if you continue to play the lottery.
Meaning 2
to continue to waste money , to continue to do something when it hasn't worked
Sentence 2
Why don't you buy a new car? You are throwing good money after bad when you spend money for repairs for that old car.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
the boxing manager throws in the towel to stop the fight
Sentence 1
His manager threw in the towel and the fight was over.
Meaning 2
to give up, to not pursue an objective
Sentence 2
I want to throw in the towel on this marriage. It's not going to work. We fight too much.

Derivation

In the early days of boxing, opponents used bare fists to hit each other. When hit a sponge was used to wipe away blood. When a fighter was no longer able to fight, his manager would throw the bloody sponge into the ring to stop the fight.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to try and divert or confuse pursuers
Sentence 1
The fox crossed the stream to throw the dogs off his track.
Meaning 2
to confuse someone
Sentence 2
The questions threw the speaker off the track.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to stop the clock during a game
Sentence 1
The quarterback called a time-out in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
Meaning 2
to take a break or some time-out from a project
Sentence 2
I'm tired. Could we have a time-out?
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The goal in bowling is to knock over as many pins as possible.
Sentence 1
She bowled a strike. She knocked over all 10 pins with the bowling ball.
Meaning 2
to make a very good impression on someone
Sentence 2
She was bowled over when I gave her a dozen roses.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to take one's gambling chips to the teller for money
Sentence 1
I want to cash in my chips now, before I lose any more money.
Meaning 2
to sell something for a profit
Sentence 2
The stock market is too high. Let's sell our stocks and cash in our chips.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to go around the end of the opponent's defensive line
Sentence 1
The half-back did an end run and scored a touchdown.
Meaning 2
to go around the usual line of authority; to go around an immediate supervisor
Sentence 2
The student did an end run and went directly to the principal of the school rather than to his teacher.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a line drawn which marks the end of a court of play
Sentence 1
Please draw the line in the sand for the beach ball game.
Meaning 2
to define a limit in anything
Sentence 2
I am going to draw the line about working more than forty hours a week.

Derivation

A form of tennis has been played by Englishmen at least since the time of Henry the Eighth of England in the sixteenth century. It probably came to court from France. In the early days lines were drawn to establish the boundaries of the court. By as early as the middle of the eighteenth century the idiom, "to draw a line" was used to mean establishing a limit for something. Also, this may have been derived from the lines drawn for the space between opposition parties in Parliament, so as to put an end to injuries from sword fights.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to begin the game
Sentence 1
Let's start the ball rolling. Begin the game.
Meaning 2
to begin anything
Sentence 2
Start the ball rolling on the Domino account. I want to see the ads in a month.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to win or begin a sport by having the last hand hold on a stick or a bat
Sentence 1
Johnny got the upper hand and said he wanted to bat.
Meaning 2
to have an advantage
Sentence 2
The development of the nuclear bomb gave the United States the upper hand in the Second World War.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The defensive line, usually seven men, tries to stay in its position against the opponent's offensive attack.
Sentence 1
The Los Angeles Rams held the line at the five yard line against the San Francisco Forty-Niner offensive attack.
Meaning 2
to stay and not move
Sentence 2
Hold the line on that offer. We are not going to pay any more.

Derivation

Hold the line is a military term for holding or staying in place under enemy offensive fire.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to show your hand
Sentence 1
In poker when the bets are final, the remaining players show their cards.
Meaning 2
to not hide anything
Sentence 2
We're putting our cards on the table for you to see; we'll pay $250,000 for the building.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a boxer absorbs punches while waiting for an opportunity to strike back
Sentence 1
The boxer rolled with the punches hoping to find an opening against his opponent.
Meaning 2
getting one's bearing in a difficult situation; figuring out what to do after a few set backs
Sentence 2
"We can't wait any longer, John will have to roll with the punches; we have no one to teach him."
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
In Baseball, the runner needs to touch a base to be safe.
Sentence 1
Alex Rodriquez hit a single and was safe at first base
Meaning 2
In business, or any kind of a relationship, one needs to communicate or touch base.
Sentence 2
The IT computer expert touched base with his company.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
To touch a base in any sport with bases
Sentence 1
The batter touched base and was safe.
Meaning 2
to talk to someone about something
Sentence 2
I need to touch base with the firm before I make a final agreement.

Derivation

This idiom could also be derived from the military, ie military base, where personnel are stationed.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to move the ball across the opponent's goal line.
Sentence 1
A team scores six points for a touchdown.
Meaning 2
to achieve something, to win something
Sentence 2
You scored a touchdown when you hired Jane. She's a great accountant.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
Trump is the most powerful suit in a card game.
Sentence 1
My jack of spades trumped your king of hearts.
Meaning 2
Trump conveys power and importance.
Sentence 2
"Experience trumps brain power."
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
See the above two idioms
Sentence 1
The batter has two strikes against him and the bases are loaded.
Meaning 2
To be in a difficult situation in which you are expected to perform
Sentence 2
In February of 1991, Saddam Hassein had two strikes against him and the bases were loaded.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The batter has only one more strike before he is out
Sentence 1
He hit a home run into left field with two strikes against him.
Meaning 2
to have one more chance
Sentence 2
He had two strikes against him when he interviewed for the job. He had been in prison and had never had a job.

Derivation

The word "strike" probably is derived from the English game cricket. A batter in cricket is a "striker."

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to keep illegal cards or dice under the table in order to cheat at cards
Sentence 1
The dealer was dishonest. He kept extra loaded dice under the table.
Meaning 2
to hide something, usually illegally; to cheat
Sentence 2
In order to avoid taxes, they transferred the deed under the table.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
Wire refers to the finish line
Sentence 1
The winner finished just under the wire ahead of the second horse.
Meaning 2
just barely in time, on time
Sentence 2
I turned in my paper to English class just under the wire.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
Increase your bet
Sentence 1
Steve had 4 queens in a poker game so he upped the ante.
Meaning 2
take a calculated risk
Sentence 2
Lets invest in that small company Tiger Software instead of Apple, that will up the ante.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
Running and or jumping over an obstacle (usually high jump)
Sentence 1
In an amazing feat of strength, the track and field star vaulted the highest bar in the meet.
Meaning 2
Being a top contender
Sentence 2
"Christie Vaults to Front Ranks of G.O.P. for 2016."
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
not on target or the bull's eye
Sentence 1
I aimed my arrow, but it went wide of the mark. I aimed the bombs at the munitions factory, but was wide of the mark and didn't hit it.
Meaning 2
to not achieve a goal or objective, to do less than expected
Sentence 2
I was wide of the mark on that contract. I thought we would get the bid.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
at the finish, to win by the length of a nose
Sentence 1
The horse won by a nose.
Meaning 2
to finish just a little better than the next person or business
Sentence 2
We won by a nose on that bid. We were only five hundred dollars under the next lowest bidder.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to win a horse race with one's hands down
Sentence 1
Willie Shoemaker won the Derby hands down.
Meaning 2
to do the best one can in a competitive situation
Sentence 2
You'll get the job hands down. You're the best candidate they have.

Derivation

The jockey does not have to use the whip because the rider is so far ahead of the rest of the horses.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a horse racing term for a horse that starts at the front of the pack, and finishes at the front for a win
Sentence 1
The favorite started right out of the gate in front and ended up the winner. He went wire to wire.
Meaning 2
In any competition, to start at the front and end up winning by staying at the front.
Sentence 2
McIlroy Goes wire to wire for Third Major Championship.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
A zone defense is an alternative to man-to-man defense where the defender is responsible for an area rather than an individual opposing player.
Sentence 1
The Celtics used a zone defense because it utilized their height and comparative lack of speed.
Meaning 2
concentrating on an area rather than an individual
Sentence 2
With two parents and three children perhaps you need a zone defense.