In English language, there are about 10 Lakh words and almost every word has some meaning. Most words carry more than one meaning. Again when used in combinations as a small group, words give altogether a new and different meaning. Such combinations of words are called IDIOMS AND PHRASAL VERBS. While a Phrasal Verb may have just a Verb plus a Preposition, an idiom may have a group of Nouns/Adjectives/Verbs/Prepositions. There are thousands of Idioms and Phrasal Verbs in English and in other languages. People often use them in English to make their speeches and writings rich and beautiful. A vocabulary of idioms and phrasal verbs is a sign of scholarship with which a person can impress people and be successful in his career. But avoid using too many idioms and phrasal verbs in your speech and writing. In Competitive exams, they are given to test your vocabulary and scholarship. Here are a few questions taken from some previous question papers for your practice.
Directions (Qs. 1 - 50): In each question, four alternatives are given for the idiom/ phrase given in capital letters in the sentence. Choose the alternative which best expresses the meaning of the idiom/ phrase.
1. Despite the highs and lows, life tends TO AVERAGE itself out
1) be unvarying 2) get comparative 3) balance itself 4) show equal value
2. On SECOND THOUGHTS, she refused to accept his invitation.
1) reconsidering 2) moral grounds 3) renewing leisurely 4) seeing his brashness
3. The bridge GAVE WAY under heavy weight.
1) endured 2) collapsed 3) stooped 4) withstood
4. He knows how to BREAK IN horses.
1) rear 2) force 3) tend 4) train
5. Sheila's TALL TALES have no meaning.
1) jealousy 2) boasting 3) pride 4) greed
6. We should BURY THE HATCHET and become friends.
1) make peace 2) obtain 3) keep a secret 4) influence friends
7. His business has GONE TO THE DOGS.
1) is dead 2) is ruined 3) is roaring 4) is sick
8. The judge declared the judgement NULL AND VOID (SSC-CGL EXAM-2014)
1) not bad 2) empty 3) black and white 4) annulled
9. In the fourth and last test match at Gabba stadium in Australia, the Indian team CARRIED THE DAY.
1) to lose 2) to gain 3) to be dull 4) to be victorious
10. Balu has got a job when his father, a Central Government employee, DIED IN HARNESS.
1) to die in old age 2) to die while in service 3) to die alone 4) to die for a thing
11. Every time, when we friends go out for a party, my friend Giri always FOOTS THE BILL.
1) pays the bill 2) kicks the plates 3) walks on tables 4) takes the bill with his feet
12. Geeta POURS OUT HER HEART to her one or two close friends only.
1) shows her heart
2) shows her study
3) talks about her personal emotions
4) talks about her heart problem
13. To score good marks in the General Knowledge Section in competitive exams, a person must read well and KEEP HIMSELF ABREAST OF things happening around.
1) to keep oneself up-to-date
2) to show his heart
3) to cover his chest
4) to know himself
14. During their public meetings, most politicians often make speeches only TO PLAY TO THE GALLERY.
1) to criticise the government
2) to impress the crowd
3) to impress the press
4) to watch a circus
15. Chetan Bhagat's latest novel has SOLD LIKE HOT CAKES.
1) sold in a bakery 2) sold at a furnace 3) sold fast 4) sold slowly
16. After running his hotel business for two years, Hari BURNT HIS FINGERS and gave up the business.
1) suffered burning injuries
2) lost his fingers
3) fried his lady fingers
4) suffered losses
17. Our Principal yesterday gave us A BIRD'S EYE VIEW of our forthcoming college Day Celebrations.
1) to give full details about something
2) to show an aerial photo of our college
3) to give birds to students
4) to donate eyes
18. My brother's new business is developing BY LEAPS AND BOUNDS
1) very slowly 2) very rapidly 3) jumping slowly 4) leaping like frogs
19. The border issues are often THE BONE OF CONTENTION between India and China.
1) a cause of business 2) a source of income
3) a reason for fighting 4) a time for elections
20. The untimely death of my uncle was like A BOLT FROM THE BLUE for his big family.
1) a bolt of their main door
2) something expected
3) something sure to happen
4) something sudden and unpleasant.
21. When Raju was starting a new business, some of his relatives and friends promised their support and help. But after two years when he asked them for help, they BACKED OUT.
1) kept the promise
2) failed to keep the promise
3) pushed him from behind
4) showed him their back
22. Rani CALLED ON her uncle in hospital yesterday.
1) phoned him 2) he called her 3) she visited him 4) he requested her to come
23. Last Monday, some dacoits in Madhya Pradesh BLEW UP a railway bridge.
1) exploded 2) built 3) crossed 4) closed
24. After the sudden demise of her father, Leela CARRIED ON his business.
1) sold 2) continued 3) discontinued 4) closed
25. When you come across new words, LOOK UP the meaning of them in your dictionary.
1) see 2) come across 3) consult 4) write down
26. The expert team has been set up to GO INTO the causes of the ghastly railway accident.
1) examine 2) run 3) give 4) walk into
27. Our young CM is to BRING ABOUT changes in our education system.
1) buy 2) introduce 3) invent 4) invest
28. CUT DOWN your unnecessary expenditures in the last week of the month.
1) wrap up 2) avoid 3) kill 4) save
29. My daughter TAKES AFTER me.
1) succeeds 2) attacks 3) resembles 4) rejects
30. Sometimes we have to BEAR WITH our bad neighbours.
1) fight 2) love 3) hate 4) tolerate
31. My boss TURNED DOWN my request for leave yesterday.
1) to read out 2) to go back 3) to reject 4) to accept
32. Do not FALL OUT with your neighbours.
1) to trip 2) to quarrel 3) to love in winter 4) to befriend
33. In Hyderabad, traffic police often HOLD UP traffic to make way for the Governor and the CM
1) to allow 2) to arrest 3) to stop 4) to check
34. My writer sister is planning to BRING OUT a new book of essays.
1) to publish 2) to sell 3) to buy 4) to write
35. These days most youngsters are tempted to TAKE TO drinking very early in life.
1) to accept 2) to get addicted 3) to love 4) to dislike
36. My dog always GOES FOR the postman!
1) to wait for 2) to look for 3) to chase 4) to like
37. Our college day function CAME OFF very well
1) happened 2) ran 3) stopped 4) appeared
38. Raju CARRIED AWAY with his girlfriend yesterday.
1) quarrelled 2) lifted 3) loved 4) eloped
39. Many people TURNED UP at the Musical night yesterday.
1) attended 2) fought 3) slept 4) stayed away
40. During summer holidays, thieves BREAK INTO many houses in our locality.
1) go away 2) enter 3) wait 4) buy
41. Some people have the habit of working BY FITS AND STARTS. (SSC-MTS-2011)
1) very seriously 2) excitedly 3) consistently 4) irregularly
42. If you want to be happy, CUT YOUR COAT ACCORDING TO YOUR CLOTH (SSC-CGL-2012)
1) be honest 2) work capably 3) live within your means 4) not to be ambitious
43. The manager hesitated to assign the job to the newcomer as he was WET BEHIND THE EARS. (SSC-CGL-2012)
1) young and inexperienced
3) not punctual
4) became wet in rain
44. The mother was right in giving A PIECE OF HER MIND to her daughter. (SSC-LDC-2013)
1) speaking sadly
2) speaking sharply
3) speaking cheerfully
4) speaking kindly
45. Her mother SAW THROUGH the excuse Sita gave her (SSC-MTS-2013)
1) revealed 2) viewed 3) detected 4) not understood
46. Hari is AS HARD AS NAIL, never moved by anything.
1) kind 2) tough 3) soft 4) emotionless
47. Please, HOLD YOUR TONGUE (SSC-DEO-2012)
1) to stammer 2) be silent 3) taste something 4) mock someone
48. Balu is my bosom friend and he always speaks FROM THE BOTTOM OF HIS HEART.
1) sincerely 2) cruelly 3) curtly 4) carefully
49. TO HAIL FROM (SSC-LDC-12).
1) to shout 2) to cry 3) to come from 4) to be sick
50. TO GET WIND (SSC-LDC-12)
1) to sit under a fan 2) to come to know
3) to go out in a storm 4) to use a hand fan
Directions (Qs. 1 - 15): Select the meaning of the following idioms.
1. Kick the bucket
a) To win a deal b) To throw a tantrum
c) To get angry d) To die
Ans-d; ‘Kick the bucket’ means to die.
2. Feather one’s own nest
a) To enrich oneself
b) To prepare for a family
c) To beautify one’s house
d) To be greedy
Ans-a; ‘Feather your own nest’ means to take advantage of the opportunities to get a lot of money for yourself.
3. To go off the deep end
a) To be silent
b) To fall into further trouble
c) To be caught doing a wrong act
d) To give way to anger or emotion
Ans-d; ‘Go off the deep end’ means to give way immediately to an emotional outburst, especially of anger.
4. Call a spade a spade
a) To be rude
b) To speak bluntly
c) To force your views on others
d) To support a theory
Ans-b; ‘To call a spade a spade’ is to tell the truth about something, even if it is not polite or pleasant.
5. To sit on the fence
a) To shirk off responsibility
b) To become lazy
c) To do no work
d) To remain undecided
Ans-d; ‘To sit on the fence’ is to be unable to take a decision.
6. All Greek to me
a) Incomprehensible b) Foreign
c) New to me d) Difficult
Ans-a; ‘All Greek to me’ means something that one does not understand.
7. Cut to the chase
a) Run fast b) Take part in the chase
c) Get to the point d) Take a short cut
Ans-c; ‘Cut to the chase’ means to be specific and to the point.
8. Field day
a) A day of working in a field
b) A day of hard work
c) An enjoyable situation
d) An outdoor picnic
Ans-c; ‘Field day’ means an activity, or time spent in an activity, that is enjoyable and fun.
9. Gut feeling
a) Feeling hungry b) Feeling unwell
c) Stomach ache d) Intuition
Ans-d; To have a ‘gut feeling’ means to have a sense or a certain feeling about a person or a situation, without knowing the rational basis for such a feeling.
10. Give someone the slip
a) To fire someone
b) To cheat someone
c) To escape from someone
d) To hide from someone
Ans-c; To ‘give someone the slip’ means to run away from problems or from any difficult situations.
11. Have your back to the wall
a) To talk to someone again in order to give them some information
b) To have very serious problems that limit the ways in which you can act
c) To not allow people to know about your intentions that you have kept secret
d) To behave stubbornly or in a childlike manner
Ans-b; If you 'have your back to the wall', you are in serious difficulty.
12. Can of worms
a) A situation that causes a lot of problems for you when you start to deal with it
b) A sight or situation which brings the feeling of disgust or abhorrence
c) To accept blame or take responsibility for something that goes wrong
d) To begin to worry because of a problem that you weren't expecting.
Ans-a; To describe a situation as a 'can of worms' means that it is a situation that causes a lot of problems for you when you start to deal with it.
13. Half the battle
a) An important step towards achieving something
b) The slightest opportunity
c) Not as much as you want but better than nothing
d) Most important part of something
Ans-a; 'Half the battle' is used to refer to an important step towards achieving something.
14. Put the hard word on
a) To raise a topic of conversation
b) To make a mess of things
c) To adopt an aloof attitude
d) To ask a favour of someone
Ans-a; 'Put the hard word on' means to ask a favour of someone, especially a financial favour.
15. Be chilled to the marrow
a) To be completely shameless
b) To your innermost being
c) To be extremely cold
d) To vigorously engage in an argument
Ans-c; 'Be chilled to the marrow' means to be extremely cold.
Directions (Qs. 16 - 20): Select the idiom or phrase from the given alternatives that best completes the sentence.
16. It finally ................ him that she was the Principals daughter.
a) dawned on b) came on
c) came to d) took to
Ans-a; ‘Dawned on’ is the correct idiomatic usage in the sentence as ‘dawn on’ means to become suddenly clear to (a person).
17. Ritesh has started his own business and he has been ........ money since then.
a) raking in b) making in
c) raking for d) taking in
Ans-a; ‘Raking in’ is the correct idiomatic usage in the sentence as it means to earn large sums of money.
18. You are not in a good mood today; .......?
a) why aren’t you
b) what is happening to you
c) what’s eating you
d) what’s picking you
Ans-b; ‘What’s eating you’ is the correct phrase. It means what is worrying or annoying you?
19. Rahul came into the kitchen and made a ................ the cookies.
a) beeline for b) beeline of
c) deck for d) route at
Ans-a; ‘Beeline for’ is the correct phrasal usage as it means hurry directly to. The phrase, used in this context, describes the rush hour at the metro.
20. Her poems are definitely a .............. the poems of other competitors.
a) cut in b) cut above
c) cut for d) cut below
Ans-b; ‘Cut above somebody/something’ is the correct idiomatic usage as it means to be better than other people or things.
Directions (Qs. 21 - 25): In each of the following questions, the given sentence contains an idiom which has been underlined. From the given options, choose the one which gives the correct meaning of the idiom.
21. Even during the holidays I had my hands full.
a) was very busy b) was extremely worried
c) was tired d) carried heavy loads
Ans-a; ‘Have your hands full’ means to be very busy or too busy to do something else.
22. The long and the short of it is that it ended in a fiasco.
a) the outcome or result
b) the whole matter in brief
c) the multiple effects
d) the disastrous result
Ans-b; ‘The long and (the) short of it’ is used when you are telling somebody the essential facts about something or what effect it will have, without explaining all the details.
23. There's no doubt that stress can lead to physical illness.
a) begin a process b) invite something
c) upheld something d) attract something
Ans-a; ‘Lead up to’ means to make someone think something.
24. He cut a poor figure at the presentation ceremony.
a) spoke loudly
b) used indecent language
c) appear badly
d) was critical of the arrangement
Ans-c; ‘To cut a poor figure’ means to appear or behave badly.
25. The labour strike is only the tip of the iceberg.
a) indication of a big problem
b) biggest hurdle
c) cause of agitation
d) last problem
Ans-a; ‘The tip of the iceberg’ means only a small part of a much larger problem.
Idioms and Phrasal Verbs
Directions (Q.No.1-10): In each of the following sentences there are two blanks spaces. Below each sentence there are five pairs of words denoted by numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Find out which pair of words can be filled up in the blanks in the same order to make the sentence meaningfully complete.
1. If you kindly bear ........... Ravi for some time, he shall ........... the whole issue.
1) out and show 2) with and clarify
3) for and open 4) in and close 5) from and clear
2. The account of the crime given by police was ........ and was ........
1) correct and documented 2) false and factual 3) narrated and doctored
4) recorded and revealed 5) balanced and imaginary
3. When the agitating students turned ........, police opened fire to bring the ........ under control.
1) back and group 2) down and ground 3) peaceful and place
4) violent and situation 5) up and time
4. A ........ reader gets much greater joy from reading books than a close-fisted person in ........
1) new and sleeping 2) powerful and spending 3) fervent and hoarding
4) small and sharing 5) regular and receiving
5. With large classes, it is difficult for teachers to ........ regular essay-type questions for homework because ........... long answers would take too much time.
1) write and erasing 2) give and evaluating 3) take and estimating
4) copy and encircling 5) impose and endorsing
6. Hari has a ........... sense of words.Therefore, the sentences he constructs are always ........... with rich meaning.
1) great and fraught 2) little and barren 3) less and limited
4) no and round 5) bad and brimming
7. The present education system is ........... and needs ...........
1) complete and improvement 2) full and betterment
3) defective and reforming 4) total and redressal 5) inadequate and recharging
8. Punishment is ........... and ........... a lot of wrong doings
1) a gift and helps 2) a god-send and creates 3) a deterrent and prevents
4) a door stopper and laces 5) a wage and wipes
9. Pradeep was ........... for the crime of ...........
1) honored and eve teasing 2) fined and drunken driving
3) detained and directing a film 4) fired and incurring heavy losses
5) denounced and employing a child
10. The ........... manners of the new bride won for her the ........... of one and all.
1) good and praise 2) old and hearts 3) new and affection
4) crude and recognition 5) refined and wrath
11. The account of the big bank heist given by the bank manager was ........... and was ....
1) correct and documented 2) false and factual 3) narrating and doctoring
4) recorded and revealed 5) balancing and imaginary
12. An ........... reader gets much greater joy from reading books than a close-fisted person in ...........
1) new and sleeping 2) powerful and spending
3) avid and hoarding 4) agitating and sharing 5) angry and receiving
13. With large classes, it is difficult for the examiners to ........... regular essay-type questions for homework because ........... long answers would take too much time.
1) write and erasing 2) set and evaluating 3) take and estimating
4) copy and encircling 5) impose and endorsing
14. Mary has a ........... sense of words. Therefore, the sentences she constructs are always full of ........... meaning.
1) great and profound 2) little and barren 3) less and limited
4) no and round 5) bad and brimming
Directions (Q.No. 15-39): There is a blank in each of the five sentences. Fill in the blank with a suitable idiom and phrasal verb choosing from the options given below each question.
15. Besides watching movies on T V Madhavi goes to the theatre ........... to see Telugu movies
1) once in a blue moon 2) once in a donkey's year
3) once upon a time 4) once in four years 5) once in five years
16. My father-in- law ........... in hospital yesterday after a brief illness
1) kicked the ball 2) footed the bill 3) breathed his last
4) breathed his first 5) kicked off
17. As Meena is very kind and she helps one and all, her friends often call her ...........
1) a miser 2) a smart Alec 3) a good Samaritan
4) a man Friday 5) a man of few words
18. Maintaining the big and pristine mansion has become ........... for Raju
1) a dark horse 2) a white elephant 3) a black sheep
4) a lame duck 5) a sitting duck
19. When Ramu found a costly laptop on the road, he immediately rushed to a near by police station to ........... the item to them.
1) turn in 2) turn off 3) turn down 4) turn up 5) turn around
20. Vasu is a moody person and he often ........... with friends.
1) blows his own trumpet 2) blows hot and cold 3) holds a candle to devil
4) quotes from scripture 5) beats around the bush
21. Close friends always talk ...........
1) over the head 2) heart to heart 3) in the ear
4) in the face 5) in the eyes
22. My mother is a great host and she always receives her guests with ...........
1) open hands 2) open mind 3) closed fist 4) closed doors 5) open mouth
23. Most agriculture workers work in their fields ...........
1) from evening to night 2) from Sunday to Saturday 3) from dawn to dusk
4) from dusk to dawn 5) from day to day
24. After a month long voyage, our ship at last ........... at Mumbai
1) cast a shadow 2) cast anchor 3) cast an eye
4) cast a role 5) cast a hand
25. After a fight with the host, some members left the party ...........
1) in a bad mood 2) in a good mood 3) in a huff 4) in a jiffy 5) in a bind
26. Mohan is a great painter and he can paint any portraits ...........
1) to an eye 2) to a nose 3) to a hair 4) to a hilt 5) to a hand
27. After loosing her husband in a ghastly car accident, my aunt is ...........
1) out of her mind 2) out of her house 3) out of touch
4) out of town 5) out of party
28. Sharing of river water is always a ........... between our States.
1) matter of joy 2) bone of contention 3) matter of pride
4) dead horse 5) sitting duck
29. In our factory we are using some ........ technology these days.
1) old 2) own 3) edge cutting 4) cutting edge 5) state art
30. What did you say? You like me, please ...........
1) go again 2) went again 3) come again 4) make again 5) came again
31. We don't know what happens to our team in the final match, but we keep our ...........
1) eyes crossed 2) star crossed 3) fingers crossed 4) legs crossed 5) path crossed
32. The life of a soldier at the borders is not a ..........
1) bed of roses 2) bed of lilies 3) bed of tulips
4) bed of cowlips 5) bed of grass
33. This is a competitive world and to be successful in life, youngsters have to ...........
1) keep ears to the ground 2) keep feet on the ground
3) keep all eggs in one basket 4) keep good hours 5) keep words.
34. It is getting late and you may miss the train. Please shake ...........
1) a leg 2) a hand 3) a tree 4) the sky 5) the earth
35. Good habits and exercise generally keep a person ...........
1) in the dark 2) in the firing line 3) in the pink
4) in the red 5) in the black
36. In our politics, the opposition leaders seldom see ........... with the government on many issues.
1) eye to eye 2) tooth for tooth 3) horns locked
4) green in eyes 5) wet behind the ears
37. Since the success of her first film, this heroine is ...........
1) in the swamp 2) in the quick sand 3) in the limelight 4) in debts 5) in news
38. Even after becoming very successful and popular, my father is humble and cool as........
1) a cucumber 2) a pumpkin 3) a stone 4) a tree 5) a pot
39. In the Pakistan jet crash, three passengers escaped death by the skin of ........
1) their head 2) their nose 3) their ear 4) their teeth 5) their foot
KEY: 1-2; 2-1; 3-4; 4-3; 5-2; 6-1; 7-3; 8-3; 9-2; 10-1; 11-1; 12-3; 13-2; 14-1; 15-1; 16-3; 17-3; 18-2; 19-1; 20-2; 21-2; 22-1; 23-3; 24-2; 25-3; 26-3; 27-1; 28-2; 29-4; 30-3; 31-3; 32-4; 33-1; 34-1; 35-3; 36-1; 37-3; 38-1; 39-4.