Idioms title

The Idiom Attic - a collection of hundreds of English idioms, each one explained.

"work" idioms...

See also, the Phrase Thesaurus list of phrases that contain the word work

and, a list of phrases that relate in some way the word work

" A bad workman always blames his tools "
Meaning:
A proverb that suggests a poor workman tends to look for an excuse for his poor work.
Example:
It was really Andy’s fault that the wall he built fell down but he tried to claim that the cement mixer was faulty.
Where did it originate?:
The expression is found in British collections of proverbs from the 16th century.
Where is it used?:
Worldwide, but less commonly than 50 years ago.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   proverbial   aphorism  
" A penny saved is a penny earned "
Meaning:
Anything you save has the same effect as adding to your income.
Example:
I put all my small change into a jar every day. It’s not much, but a penny saved is a penny earned.
Where did it originate?:
Britain - 17th century.
Where is it used?:
Worldwide, but uncommon.
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More idioms about:   money  
" Against the clock "
Meaning:
In a great hurry to complete something before a set deadline.
Example:
Sorry, no pub lunch for me today, I’m up against the clock. This report’s got to be done by 6pm or I’m dead.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, 20th century. The allusion being that someone is in a race against the clock.
Where is it used?:
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More idioms about:   time  
" Al desko "
Meaning:
Eating one’s lunch while still working. (A Pun on ’Al fresco’.).
Example:
I’m too busy to come to the cafe this lunchtime - I’ll be lunching al desko.
Where did it originate?:
USA and Britain, in the 1980s
Where is it used?:
Widely used, but mainly in the 30/40s generations who work in offices.
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More idioms about:   language  
" All in a day's work "
Meaning:
Typical; a normal set of circumstances.
Example:
Screaming through red lights to find a house burning down. All in a day's work if you are a fireman.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, 19th century.
Where is it used?:
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More idioms about:   employment  
" Back to the drawing board "
Meaning:
Said when a plan fails and it's time to start again and make a new plan.
Example:
That battery hovercraft was a nice idea but it just didn't work. I guess it's back to the drawing board.
Where did it originate?:
USA, 20th century.
Where is it used?:
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More idioms about:   cliche   america  
" Burn the midnight oil "
Meaning:
To work late into the night.
Example:
Sorry, I can't come to the pub. This report's due at 9am and I'll need to burn the midnight oil if I am going to get it finished.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, 17th century.
Where is it used?:
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More idioms about:   effort  
" Code monkey "
Meaning:
Slang term for a computer programmer.
Example:
He might be just the code monkey who programmed the app, but he's ended up earning the company more than anyone else.
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" Daily grind "
Meaning:
The dull daily routine.
Example:
Monday morning again - time to get to work and start the daily grind.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, late 19th century.
Where is it used?:
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More idioms about:   date  
" Don't give up the day job "
Meaning:
Said to someone who is a poor performer at a task - suggesting that they wouldn't be able to succeed at it professionally.
Example:
Your singing is way off key mate - don't give up the day job will you.
Where did it originate?:
USA, 1950s
Where is it used?:
Worldwide, but not particularly commonplace.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   america  
" Duvet day "
Meaning:
A work day which an employee is allowed to spend at home relaxing.
Example:
We'd all worked so hard getting the latest design out on time the boss rewarded us with a duvet day to do whatever we wanted.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, 1990s.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   household_items   relaxation   date  
" Graveyard shift "
Meaning:
Working hours that extend overnight.
Example:
I'm on shift-work. One week of days and then one on the graveyard shift.
Where did it originate?:
USA, late 19th century.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   time   america  
" Haste makes waste "
Meaning:
Doing things in a rush makes for a poor result.
Example:
I should have known I would trip if I ran with that tray of drinks - haste makes waste.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, 16th century proverb.
Where is it used?:
Mostly Britain.
More idioms about:   patience  
" Know the ropes "
Meaning:
To understand how to do something.
Example:
I'm being supervised by Jim for now, but as soon as I know the ropes I'll be working on my own.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, 19th century. Possibly of nautical origin.
Where is it used?:
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More idioms about:   education   cliche  
" Nine to five "
Meaning:
A standard office day, between 9am and 5pm. Often used to denote the boring nature of the weekly working routine.
Example:
This 9 to 5 slog really gets me down by about wednesday - I'm waiting for the weekend to come.
Where did it originate?:
Where is it used?:
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More idioms about:   number   clock  
" Rise and shine "
Meaning:
Instruction to get out of bed and get ready for work.
Example:
Okay, sleepy heads. Kit inspection in ten minutes - rise and shine.
Where did it originate?:
From the Bible.
Where is it used?:
Worldwide, but somewhat old-fashioned.
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" That Friday feeling "
Meaning:
Anticipation of the weekend after a hard working week.
Example:
I'm ready for a few jars at the pub after work - I've got that friday feeling.
Where did it originate?:
20th century origin, although the similar 'Friday face' is known in England since the 16th century.
Where is it used?:
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More idioms about:   date   emotion  
" Work out "
Meaning:
1. Calculate using arithmetic. 2. Take exercise (also spelled 'workout').
Example:
1. We decided to share the bill for the taxi. My part worked out to four pounds. 2. I've joined the gym. My plan is to work out once a week.
Where did it originate?:
1. Britain, 16th century. 2. (As 'workout') USA, late 19th century.
Where is it used?:
Both forms used Worldwide.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   number   sport   america  

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