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Useful Idioms for the World of Business: Part 1

English is one of the most-used languages in the business world, and if you don’t know what an idiom means you can quickly lose track of the conversation and lose out on opportunities. Here are some popular idioms and what they mean to help get your business ahead of the rest!

Find out how to use Spellzone to help improve English in your workplace here and here.

  1. 24/7 / round-the-clock – 24 hours a day
  2. a backroom deal – a decision that is made in secret (sometimes because it is against regulations/public interest)
  3. a ballpark figure – an estimate
  4. a no brainer – a decision that should be obvious/easy to make
  5. a no-win (lose-lose) situation – a situation in which no one stands to gain anything
  6. a tough break – an unfortunate or difficult situation
  7. a win-win situation – a situation in which everyone stands to gain something
  8. ahead of the curve – ahead of the current state of thinking/current trends
  9. behind the scenes – out of the public eye
  10. cut-throat – aggressive and merciless
  11. game plan – strategy
  12. grey area – a situation or area of activity that is not clearly defined and not easily categorised
  13. ground-breaking – pioneering
  14. in the black – breaking even or making a profit
  15. in the red – owing money/operating at a loss
  16. long shot – something that has a low chance of succeeding
  17. loophole – a part of a law or regulation that is unclear or inadequate and so means people can take advantage of it
  18. no strings attached – an offer that is given without any expectations, restrictions, or conditions
  19. not going to fly – is not going to work/is not going to be approved
  20. snail mail – traditional post (rather than email)
  21. state of the art – incorporating the newest ideas and features
  22. the big picture – a broad overview
  23. the elephant in the room – an obvious and usually uncomfortable truth that remains unaddressed
  24. the last straw – the final event/piece of information in a series of unpleasant and unwelcome ones that causes someone to give up (or have another extreme reaction)
  25. the sky’s the limit – anything is possible
  26. to be in in the driver’s seat – to be in control
  27. to cave/to cave in – to give in under pressure
  28. to corner/control to a market – to dominate the supply of a particular product
  29. to cut corners – to take shortcuts in order to save money (sometimes at the expense of quality)
  30. to cut your losses – to abandon a plan/project which is clearly going to be unsuccessful before circumstances become worse

If you’ve found this post useful, why not check out our other articles on idioms?


01 Mar 2016
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"This is a fantastic opportunity for our students!  I'm sure Spellzone will be invaluable in helping them to improve their spellings and therefore improve the quality of their writing in all subject areas!"
Teacher, High School, UK

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