Important Idioms and Phrases which Start with the Letter ‘B’
Meaning: Go back on one’s word.
Example: She told me that she would help me in my dire need, but she soon backed out.
Meaning: Give support to, help.
Example: (i) Don’t worry, I shall always back you up whenever you need my help.
(ii) She always backed up her parents in bad circumstances.
Example: (i) Don’t bring bad blood in the two sisters by creating rifts between them.
(ii) Earlier they were fast friends, but now there has been bad blood between them.
Meaning: Bad manners.
Example: (i) It is bad form not to eat with etiquettes on the dining table.
(ii) It is bad form to abuse innocent people.
(iii) It is bad form to laugh loudly.
(iv) It is bad form not to wash your hands after meals.
Bag and baggage
Meaning: With all one’s belongings.
Example: (i) The characterless girl had to leave the boy’s house with bag and baggage when the boy’s parents arrived.
(ii) The wife told her husband to leave the house with bag and baggage.
Meaning: Depend on.
Example: The parents bank on their children in their old age, but some selfish children don’t help them.
Meaning: Talkfor the purpose ofreaching an agreement about buying and selling.
Example: (i) She bargained with the shopkeeper for the supply of the garments.
(ii) The clothes were sold at a fixed price, thus the shopkeeper refused to bargain for them.
Bark is worse than his bite
Meaning: The person may give harsh threats, but his actions are mild.
Example: Don’t worry if that old man speaks harshly with you. His bark is worse than his bite.
Be at a loss
Meaning: Be unable to decide.
Example: His engineering and computer certificate exam are falling on the same date. He is at a loss to know what to do.
Meaning: Suitable, look good on.
Example: (i) It’s no becoming of a well-mannered person like you to talk rudely with a girl.
(ii) That watch is very becoming on Sheena.
Be down in the mouth
Meaning: Feel sad or discouraged.
Example: She was down in the mouth, when her husband and son deserted her in sickness.
Be even with
Meaning: Settle scores with.
Example: Don’t be even with people who have misbehaved with you in bad circumstances. Correct them or ignore them.
Meaning: Be in favour of.
Example: I am for leaders who have compassion for poor.
Meaning: Come, arrive.
Example: The plane would be in within twenty minutes.
Be in order
Meaning: Be in a good condition.
Example: Initially, everything was in a mess in my study room, but now everything is in order.
Example: It’s enough! I have tolerated your abuse from a long time. Now be off from here.
Meaning: (i) Exposed.
Example: One may hide his evil deeds, but he shall be out one day.
(ii) Be out of house or office.
Her husband is out and he shall be back by 6 p.m.
(iii) Be published.
The evening newspaper shall not be out today.
Be out of order
Meaning: To be in an unworkable condition.
Example: (i) He couldn’t drive the car today as it was out of order.
(ii) Her mobile is out of order, thus, she is unable to call up her friends.
Meaning: Finished, ended.
Example: Now, that the party is over, we should leave the banquet hall.
Wait for 15 minutes. I shall be over within that time.
The eagle went over the skies.
Meaning: Be out of bed.
Example: (i) He is not up before 8.a.m. in the morning, as he sleeps late at night.
(ii) It is good to be up by 6 a.m. in the morning (of time).
Be-all and end-all
Meaning: The final result.
Example: No one should proud over wealth. Death is the be-all and end-all of all human beings.
Be that as it may
Meaning: Nevertheless, any way.
Example: Be that as it may, I am marching ahead with my plans just the same.
Be up to
Meaning: To be engaged in.
Example: “Son, what are you upto. I am calling you up from the last one hour and you are not giving any reply.
Bear a charmed life
Meaning: Be externally fortunate in escaping from disasters and accidents.
Example: My grandfather was a brave police man. He fought with many dacoits, but escaped from death. He bears a charmed life.
Bear a hand
Meaning: To lend a helping hand.
Example: The father told his son to bear a hand in his business.
Bear a resemblance to
Meaning: Look like.
Example: She bears a strong resemblance to her cousin sister.
Bear down (up) on
Meaning: (i) Weight heavily on.
Example: The rising prices of the commodities are bearing down upon poor people.
Meaning: (ii) Punish severely.
Example: The policemen bore down on the dacoits.
Bear in mind
Meaning: To remember.
Example: Always bear in mind to respect your parents, who have given birth to you.
Bear the brunt of
Meaning: Bear the main burden of a responsibility.
Example: As a principal, she has to bear the brunt of the entire school.
Bear the palm
Meaning: To be the winner.
Example: She bore the palm in dancing competition this year.
Example: Don’t bear out the criminals. They are a threat to the society.
To beard a lion in his den
Meaning: To attack a dangerous person in his own quarters.
Example: The police was searching that dreadful criminal from a long time. Finally they located the place where he was hiding and beard a lion in his den.
Beat a retreat
Meaning: Go away.
Example: The man tried to scare away the mischievous child to make him beat a retreat.
Beat around the bush
Meaning: Go around a subject instead of coming directly to a point.
Example: (i) The thief tried to hide his theft by beating around the bush.
(ii) The teacher told the student to stop beating around the bush.
Meaning: (i) Beat severely and thoroughly.
Example: The wealthy man was beaten up mercilessly by the criminals.
(ii) Mix thoroughly by repeated whipping.
The cook beat up the cream to make it frothy for the preparation of cake.
Bed of Roses
Meaning: A comfortable state.
Example: Life becomes a bed of roses for those who remain close to God.
Meaning: Before a long time has passed.
Example: Your mother might be ill today, but she shall recover from her illness before long.
Meaning: After the planned or expected time.
Example: He was punctual at other times, but on that day he arrived behind schedule.
Behind the scenes
Example: Many politicians take huge bribes behind the scenes.
Meaning: Consider to be of worth or to have faith or trust in.
Example: (i) Never believe in the sweet-words of Shyam. He pretends to be good, but is a very shrewd person, in fact.
(ii) I believe in the supremacy of God.
Below one’s usual standard
Meaning: Not as good as normal.
Example: This project done by you is not very impressive. It’s below your usual standard.
Meaning: Bend over.
Example: Please straighten up your back. Don’t bend down, else you would have a hunchback.
Lean over backwards
Meaning: Make every possible effort.
Example: The doctors had lent over backwards to cure his disease, but inspite of that he could not survive.
Meaning: Not worth of attention.
Example: He is such a virtuous person that all his flaws are beneath notice.
Meaning: Receive benefit from.
Example: The students are benefited from the teachings of the teacher.
Meaning: With one’s mind set on.
Example: This man is bent on killing his wife. We must call up the police to save her.
Meaning: To lose sarinity of mind and to behave in an abnormal manner.
Example: Some people tortured the poor man to such a great extent, that he became beside himself.
Meaning: A man’s wife.
Example: I went to Deepak’s house and found that the house was beautifully decorated by his better half.
Meaning: In superior circumstances.
Example: Initially, we had to face great tribulations in life, but now we are better off.
Between two fires
Meaning: Subject for a double attack.
Example: Tina was chided for her negligence by her mother as well as father. She was between two fires.
Betwixt and between
Meaning: In a middle position. Neither one thing or the other.
Example: Her father tells her to control her mother’s temper and her mother tells her to make her father peaceful. She is betwixt and between.
Meaning: Be careful of.
Example: Beware of stray dogs.
Beware of electric wires.
Beware of pick pockets.
Meaning: It is certain.
Example: It is beyond doubt that she is no more in the world.
Beyond all question
Example: That she is a woman of great character is beyond all question.
Bid one’s time
Meaning: Wait patiently.
Example: I am not very rich now. I am bidding my time, when I shall become very rich and would be able to serve the poor.
Bird’s eye view
Meaning: A general view of something.
Example: While flying in the aeroplane, I had a bird’s eye view of the lush green forests, high mountains and deep blue seas.
Birds of a feather flock together
Meaning: People of the same kind like each other’s company.
Example: Laila is a nasty girl, but she loves the company of another shrewd woman called Tina. Tina too likes Laila’s company. Birds of a feather flock together.
Meaning: Remove by.
Example: The hungry man bit of the bread and took it with pickle.
Black and blue
Meaning: Covered with wounds.
Example: “Don’t fight with each other,’’ said mother, “Else you would both be black and blue.”
Meaning: Become unconscious.
Example: The high tension wire fell on the woman and she blacked out.
Meaning: To consider responsible for
Example: Don’t blame your daughter-in-law for the birth of the girl child. It’s all as per the will of the God.
Blessing in disguise
Meaning: A misfortune that later on proves to be a blessing.
Example: They condemned the birth of the girl child, but it proved to be a blessing in disguise, when they won 20 lacs in a contest within a week after her birth.
Meaning: Moved away by the wind.
Example: Everything was blown away by the hurricane and the wealtheist of the lot were on the streets.
Blow hot and cold
Meaning: To be favourable and unfavourable by turns.
Example: The mother chided the child on wrongs and praised him when he did good to others. She blew hot and cold on him.
Meaning: Give expression to anger or excitement.
Example: The woman blew off when the eveteasers troubled her and didn’t allow her to travel peacefully.
Blow one’s trumpet
Meaning: Boast of one’s own achievements.
Example: Kaleem is a proud man. He keeps on blowing his own trumpet all time.
Blow over (storm, clouds etc.)
Meaning: Pass away.
Example: The tempest blew over the entire village, but fortunately no one was hurt.
Meaning: Aristocratic origin.
Example: She has blue blood in her, but yet she is a down to earth person.
Meaning: Spill over after boiling.
Example: Take care of the potatoes on the gas, else it would boil over.
Bolt from the blue
Meaning: Unexpected blow or calamity.
Example: The news that her best friend has died in an accident came as a bolt from the blue.
Bone of contention
Meaning: The cause of conflict.
Example: The man has died, but his property is the bone of contention between his four sons.
Born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth
Meaning: Born into a rich family.
Example: Jawaharlal Nehru was bom with a silver spoon in his mouth.
Meaning: In addition to.
Example: Just give Rs. 100 for the meals add Rs. 10 to boot. That would be sufficient for today, as the hotel manager does not need more than that.
Bread and butter
Meaning: The necessities of life, i.e. food and clothing.
Example: We have to work hard for bread and butter.
Example: The landlord ordered the labourers to break down the old house and construct a new one.
Meaning: Commence operations or to take the first step in any undertaking.
Example: The new auditor was given a cash prize of Rs. 5000 for breaking ground in auditing.
Meaning: Interruption in conversation.
Example: “Don’t break in, when two people are talking,” said mother. “These are bad manners.”
Meaning: Enter by force.
Example: The police broke into the thief s house to ask about his whereabouts.
Break new ground
Meaning: Do something new or different.
Example: Shelly broke the ground by opening up a luxurious resort in a remote village.
Break one’s promise
Meaning: Fail to fulfd a promise or obligation.
Example: He said that he would look after his parents well, when he would get a job, but he broke his promise.
Example: The little boy broke out of the house, when his elder brother chided him. He was brought back by his mother.
Break the ice
Meaning: Make a beginning.
Example: Anil broke the ice in the group discussion and won applaud for his strong arguments against intake of intoxicating drinks.
Break the record
Meaning: Do better than the best score.
Example: Everybody thought that Ripudaman is a dull boy but he displayed superb performance by breaking many state-level records in athletics.
Meaning: (i) Force the way through.
Example: The kidnappers broke through in the crowd and kidnapped the child.
Meaning: (ii) Overcome.
Example: Don’t worry. You shall break through the tribulations of life with positive attitude.
Meaning: (i) To culminate relations with.
Example: Don’t break with your wife. Try to correct her instead.
(ii) Give up.
Example: You must break with the habit of taking drugs, else you would ruin your life.
Breathe one’s last
Example: Her maternal uncle breathed his last before she reached his house.
Meaning: Cause to happen.
Example: The shrewd girl brought about quarrel in her cousin’s house.
Example: He took away her cellphone for personal use but didn’t bring back to her.
Meaning: Carry down.
Example: “Son, please bring down the ball,” said Mother. “Your cousins want to play it.”
(ii) Cause to fall or come down.
The jealous woman brought the beautiful girl down with one shot.
Meaning: (i) Produce.
Ignorance bring forth misfortune.
(ii) Give rise to.
His bad temperament brought forth conflicts in the family.
Meaning: (i) To give a proposal.
Example: The industrialist told the General Manager to bring forward a proposal for the development of the company.
(ii) Advance in time
Example: Her marriage was scheduled for 30th of March, but was brought forward to the 11th of the same month.
Meaning: Make livid and clear, leave a deep impact on.
Example: The lecture on corruption by the public motivator brought home to the people the wrong doings of the corrupt politicians.
Example: The aeroplane crashed on the ground near a village. All the survivers were brought off by the villagers.
Example: Anger brings on destruction.
Meaning: (i) Come out together with.
Example: Her maternal aunt brought her out to enjoy a ride in the metro.
Example: It was strange to see that a two year old child could bring out the verses from holy book so beautifully.
Meaning: (i) Bring to visit.
Example: You are most welcome in the party. Don’t forget to bring round your family too.
(ii) To pursue the person to change his opinion.
Example: Your son is not doing the right thing by ill-treating his wife. You must bring him round to mould his way of thinking.
(iii) Direct to one’s favourite subject.
Example: Please don’t talk about vulgarity anymore. Bring your conversation round to literature.
Bring to book
Meaning: Bring to justice.
Example: The culprits must be brought to book by the police.
Bring to light
Example: Academicians brought to light the flaws in the educational system.
Meaning: Unite, reunite.
Example: The little child brought her divorced parents together with loving words of wisdom.
Meaning: (i) Raise.
Example: Their father brought them up with abundant love and care, but the selfish children betrayed his trust.
(ii) Serve (food) up.
Example: The servant brought up the sweet-dish for the guest.
Meaning: To speak in a general way.
Example: Broadly speaking, the climate of Manali is quite similar to Dabos. Both of the places are free from pollution.
Brook no nonsense
Meaning: To tolerate no nonsense.
Example: She chided the child and said that she would brook no nonsense in future.
Meaning: Refused to pay attention to.
Example: He thought that everyone would accept his domination, but he was brushed aside by his subordinates.
Meaning: To remove with a brush.
Example: She brushed away the dirt on the windows.
Meaning: To clean with a brush.
Example: The servant brushed up the carpets.
Meaning: To fix down with a buckle.
Example: Mr. Gary buckled down the shoe and left for his office.
Meaning: Fix in a permanent way.
Example: The beautiful foil painting was build into the glass.
Meaning: (i) To construct.
Example: They built up the huge building within a few months.
Example: We must build up good relations with all the friendly countries.
Example: A person must build up strong character with the constant practice of self-control.
A bull in a china shop
Meaning: Somebody who does not fit into the surroundings.
Example: The shrewd man was spoiling the entire environment of the holy temple. He was the bull in the china shop.
Meaning: To set alight and destroy.
Example: The angry mob burned down the buses.
Meaning: To eliminate by burning.
Example: The little girl burned off her rough copies.
Burn the candle at both ends
Meaning: To toil hard.
Example: A person who bums the candle at both ends is certain to rise high in life, as hard work does bring success.
Burn the midnight oil
Meaning: To work or study till late hours in night.
Example: Marry had to bum the midnight oil to clear the IAS exams with flying colours.
Meaning: Burn quickly and brightly.
Example: The building set on the fire and it burnt up.
Meaning: A matter that is being hotly discussed every where.
Example: Corruption is a burning question, but no practical steps are taken to eliminate it.
Example: “Kindly don’t burst in, when two people are talking to each other,” requested Neelu.
Meaning: Suddenly break into.
Example: The ill-mannered boy burst into the room.
Bury the hatchet
Meaning: Forget past quarrels.
Example: The mother told her sons to bury the hatchet and live with peace and harmony.
(Have) Business sense
Meaning: Have a head for business.
Example: His father has good business sense, that is why he is running in crores.
Meaning: Quarrel, separate, break up, destroy.
Example: Many people bust up on money matters.
Meaning: (i) A garment that has buttons for fastening.
Example: His overcoat buttons up.
(ii) Close or fix by doing up the buttons.
Example: She buttoned up her dress and got ready to attend the function.
(iii) Be quiet.
Example: He is talking too much. He must button up.
By all accounts
Meaning: According to what the people say.
Example: By all accounts Manasi is a decent girl.
By all means
Meaning: Using every possible way.
Example: The teacher told the students to clear their exams by all means.
By and large
Meaning: In general.
Example: By and large, people who take fresh air of the morning, live longer than people who don’t.
Meaning: As an example of something very different or opposite.
Example: His son is responsible and hardworking. By contrast his daughter is lazy and irresponsible.
By dint of
Meaning: By means of.
Example: Gandhiji achieved greatness by dint of honesty and willpower.
Meaning: Very much.
Example: She is by far the best singer of the institute.
By leaps and bounds
Meaning: At a fast speed or at the rapid pace.
Example: Mr. Jagmohan’s business is growing by leaps and bounds.
Meaning: Done or delivered by a person, not the machine.
Example: Mrs. Siidha knitted elegant cardigan by hand.
The postman delivered the parcel by hand.
Meaning: To memorise.
Example: You must learn the lessons by heart, if you want to pass the exams with flying colours.
Meaning: Something wrong done as a result of forget-fulness.
Example: He left his wife on the airport by mistake.
By no means
Meaning: Not at all.
Example: He is by no means my cousin brother, as he is not related to me by blood.
By reason of
Meaning: Because of.
Example: She was not able to attend her friend’s marriage party by reason of her exams.
By the name
Meaning: Having the name.
Example: He writes books by the name of Dinkar.
By the strong hand
Meaning: By force.
Example: The police took the culprit to the police station by their strong hand.
By the way
Example: By the way have you seen my pet-dog?
By virtue of
Meaning: As a result of.
Example: By virtue of his superb performance in marketing of consumer products, he was lauded as one of the best marketing executive of the company.
By way of
Meaning: By going through.
Example: We reached Ooty by way of Coimbatore.