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Thirty Sports Idioms to Help You Through the Summer

With everyone’s attention on Wimbledon and the World Cup at the moment, it’s hard to leave home without sports coming up in conversation. But do we actually talk about sports more than we realise?

Today – just in case you’re not sick of sports quite yet – we’re sharing some sports-related idioms alongside their definitions.

  1. across the board – applying to all

  2. at this stage of the game – at this point during the activity/event

  3. ball is in your court - it is up to you to make the next move

  4. ballpark figure – an approximate guess

  5. blow-by-blow – detailed step-by-step description

  6. down for the count – defeated

  7. down to the wire – at the very last moment

  8. fighting chance – a fair chance of success

  9. get one's feet wet – to begin an activity for the first time

  10. in deep water – in trouble

  11. neck and neck – even/level in a race or competition

  12. off to a running start – a favourable beginning

  13. out of left field – unexpected

  14. out of one’s depth – beyond one’s ability

  15. safe bet – certain to succeed

  16. to back the wrong horse – to make the wrong choice/to support the wrong thing

  17. to bounce off – to test ideas on someone

  18. to call the shots – to be in control

  19. to clear a hurdle – to overcome an obstacle

  20. to cover all bases – to prepare for all outcomes/situations

  21. to dive in headfirst/to dive right into – to do something impulsively/to do something without hesitation

  22. to drop the ball – to make a mistake/mishandle something

  23. to jump off the deep end – to become deeply involved in something before you are fully prepared

  24. to jump the gun – to get ahead of yourself/to start something before you’re supposed to

  25. to set the pace – to lead in something at a rate which others attempt to match

  26. to sink or swim – to fail or succeed

  27. to test the water – to judge whether a plan will be successful before taking further action

  28. to toe the line – to accept the authority and rules of a person/group, usually unwillingly

  29. to win by a neck/nose – to succeed by a small amount

  30. too close to call – too difficult to predict an outcome (usually because the competitors are so evenly matched)

Can you guess which sport each idiom might have originated from? Are there any idioms you don’t know the meaning of? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or by leaving a comment below, and we’ll find out for you!

You can find links to our other posts on idioms below:

Have a good week!

01 Jul 2014
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