Fill in the blanks to form an idiom for describing people. The idioms used in this exercise are listed after the practice activity. It may be a good idea to study the list of idioms before trying the exercise.
Also see the Idioms Builder for practice with hundreds of idioms (including the idioms in this exercise).
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1. I don’t think he’s ready to be the CFO. He’s only 36 years old and still _____ behind the ears.CorrectIncorrect
2. He asked for a raise but I wouldn’t give it to him. We can easily find someone else to do the job. Guys like him are a _____ a dozen.CorrectIncorrect
3. Despite all of her success, she remained a humble, _____ -to-earth person.CorrectIncorrect
4. I grew up on the wrong side of the _____. Nothing was given to me and I had to work extremely hard for everything I have.CorrectIncorrect
5. Kurt worked in sales for several years but he decided he wasn’t cut _____ for it. He went back to school and became a nurse.CorrectIncorrect
6. I didn’t get John’s offer in writing, but he is a man of his _____ and I know I can trust him.CorrectIncorrect
7. He’s a young, up-and- ______ member of the Democratic party.CorrectIncorrect
8. I’m not much of a morning person. I’m more of a night _____.CorrectIncorrect
9. No way would I pay $10,000 for this car. You can’t take advantage of me like that. I wasn’t born ______.CorrectIncorrect
10. Tom is a bit of a hot-_____. He loses his temper easily and jumps down people’s throats.CorrectIncorrect
11. Saying Luke likes soccer is an understatement. He eats, sleeps, and ______ it.CorrectIncorrect
12. I hears she’s tough as _____ during negotiations. She always gets her way.CorrectIncorrect
13. Martin’s brothers and sisters are doctors and lawyers. I guess you could say he’s the black ______ of the family. He’s a drummer in a rock band.CorrectIncorrect
14. He comes from a _____ collar, working-class background.CorrectIncorrect
15. Jake’s grandfather was a millionaire. Jake was born with a _____ spoon in his mouth.CorrectIncorrect
16. There’s a rumor that layoffs are coming. Management wants to get rid of all the dead _____.CorrectIncorrect
17. Stan isn’t very social. He tends to _____ to himself instead of talking to other people.CorrectIncorrect
18. Being a _____ -shot Hollywood producer has really changed him. He’s become a bit full of himself.CorrectIncorrect
19. I was such a happy-go- _____ kid. There was nothing to worry about.CorrectIncorrect
20. It’s tough to find someone more kind and generous than Christine. She’d give you the shirt off her_____.CorrectIncorrect
21. Mark doesn’t have a lot of experience, but we see the potential in him. He’s a diamond in the _____.CorrectIncorrect
22. Don’t trust anyone in this business. Most of these people are two- _____ liars.CorrectIncorrect
23. Five years ago he was a great soccer player. Now he’s past his _____.CorrectIncorrect
24. Carter acts tough, but on the inside he has a heart of _____.CorrectIncorrect
25. Mike’s a first- _____ architect who has won the respect and admiration of his peers.CorrectIncorrect
26. Elizabeth is applying to law schools right now. Her father was a famous defense attorney. It seems like she wants to follow in his _____.CorrectIncorrect
27. I tried to convince him to use social media, but he’s set in his _____ and doesn’t want to consider it.CorrectIncorrect
28. When she made the investment some people thought she was _____ of her mind, but she turned out to be right.CorrectIncorrect
29. You’ll really like the new manager. He’s a real class _____.CorrectIncorrect
30. Bart is a chip off the old _____. He has his father’s winning smile and calm voice.CorrectIncorrect
31. Dan’s starting to be successful as a writer. He’s really _____ places.CorrectIncorrect
32. He got to the top by being a yes _____. He just echoes what upper management says.CorrectIncorrect
33. Kate’s the spitting _____ of her mother. They almost look like twins.CorrectIncorrect
34. There are three candidates running for office. It looks like a close race between two of them. The third candidate is a dark _____. If he wins, everyone will be shocked.CorrectIncorrect
35. Mr. Young isn’t a Johnny-come- ______ to the industry. He’s been in the field for three decades.CorrectIncorrect
36. It’s hard to put my finger on what I didn’t like about him, but something about him _____ me the wrong way.CorrectIncorrect
37. Some people think it’s unfair that people who commit white- _____ crime tend to serve lighter sentences than other criminals.CorrectIncorrect
38. Andrew is exceptionally ambitious. He’s not content with being second in command. He wants to be top _____.CorrectIncorrect
39. The scandal made him the laughing _____ of the whole nation. The story was on the news for weeks.CorrectIncorrect
40. I know that top movie critics loved the film, but what does the average _____ think of the movie?CorrectIncorrect
41. When Molly left Manhattan to practice family law in a rural town, she felt like a big fish in a small _____.CorrectIncorrect
42. Replacing Steven will be tough. He was the best personal assistant I’ve ever had. Everyone else I’ve worked with can’t hold a _____ to him.CorrectIncorrect
43. Any accountant worth his _____ should be able to file these forms for you.CorrectIncorrect
44. He’s old and not as sharp as he used to be. People say he’s washed _____.CorrectIncorrect
45. Benny always wears his _____ on his sleeve. Some people think he should do a better job at hiding his emotions.CorrectIncorrect
46. All of our interns were fairly good, but only one of them stood out in the ______.CorrectIncorrect
47. Ever since Christian wasn’t given the promotion he’s had a chip on his ______.CorrectIncorrect
48. Just like his father, Greg is a public accountant and spends his free time fishing and watching football. I guess the apple doesn’t _____ far from the tree.CorrectIncorrect
49. Everyone in my department is from the United States except for me. Sometimes I feel like the _____ man out.CorrectIncorrect
50. I tend to be very honest and forthcoming with people. I’m an open _____.CorrectIncorrect
Idioms for Describing People
The following idioms for describing people are used in the practice activity:
wet behind the ears
Someone wet behind the ears is young and inexperienced.
dime a dozen
A dime a dozen means common and almost worthless. This idiom can be used to describe both people and things.
the wrong side of the tracks
Someone from the wrong side of the tracks is from the bad part of town.
not cut out for something
Someone not cut out for something is not the right person for a certain job, task, or activity.
A hot head is someone who gets angry easily.
Dead wood refers to people no longer useful to an organization.
Someone two-faced is deceitful and likely to betray people.
past one’s prime
If someone is past their prime, they are not as good as they once were due to advanced age.
Washed up is similar to past one’s prime. It means that someone is no longer successful and that their best days are behind them.
out of one’s mind
Out of one’s mind means crazy.
A yes man is someone who always agrees with their superiors.
rub someone the wrong way
To rub someone the wrong way means to bother or offend someone accidentally.
To be the laughing stock means to be someone many people make fun of. We often say someone is the laughing stock of a place, an organization, a community, etc.
set in one’s ways
Someone set in their ways is not easily persuaded to change or consider other ideas.
can’t hold a candle to someone
If someone can’t hold a candle to someone else, it means that the person is far inferior to the other person.
man of his word
A man of his word is someone who keeps promises.
down to earth
Someone down to earth is humble and not pretentious.
tough as nails (also hard as nails)
Someone tough as nails is strong and determined.
A big shot is someone very important.
Someone happy-go-lucky is carefree and without worry.
would give you the shirt off one’s back
Someone who would give you the shirt off their back is extremely generous.
diamond in the rough
A diamond in the rough is someone with potential but lacking refinement.
heart of gold
Someone with a heart of gold is very kind.
Someone first-rate is excellent. We can also say second rate and third rate to describe someone of inferior quality.
A class act is someone regarded as outstanding and admirable.
Someone going places is on their way to becoming successful.
up-and-coming (noun form is up-and-comer)
Someone up-and-coming is steadily becoming more successful.
wasn’t/weren’t born yesterday
If someone wasn’t born yesterday, it means that they are not naive and not easily tricked.
A top dog is someone occupying the top position in an organization or someone who has the highest authority.
worth one’s salt
Someone worth their salt is competent and worthy of their pay.
An open book is someone whose feelings, opinions, motives, etc. are easily understood.
A night owl is someone who likes to stay up late.
A black sheep is someone who doesn’t fit in with the rest of the family or group.
A blue collar worker is someone who does manual labor or works with their hands. Blue collar is the opposite of white collar. We can also use blue collar to describe things (jobs, positions, places, etc.).
A white collar worker works in an office. White collar is the opposite of blue collar. We can also use white collar to describe things (jobs, positions, places, etc.).
born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth
Someone born with a silver spoon in their mouth was born rich with privileges other people don’t have.
keep to oneself
Someone who keeps to themselves is quiet and does not interact much with other people.
follow in someone’s footsteps
To follow in someone’s footsteps means to follow someone’s example or path in life.
stand out in the crowd
If someone stands out in the crowd, it means they are different in a way that is obvious or easily noticed.
chip off the old block
A chip off the old block is someone who closely resembles a parent.
If someone is a spitting image of someone else, it means the person looks like a close family member.
A dark horse is someone unlikely to win an election or contest.
A Johnny-come-lately is a newcomer.
An average Joe is a common man.
eat, sleep, and breathe something
If someone eats, sleeps, and breathes something, it means they are obsessed with that thing.
big fish in a small pond
A big fish in a small pond is someone very important in a small area, group, or community.
odd man out
The odd man out is someone who is different in some way from all the other members in a group.
the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
We say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree to communicate that a child is very much like one of their parents.
wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve
If someone wears their heart on their sleeve, it means they openly express their true emotions.
have a chip on one’s shoulder
Someone with a chip on their shoulder often acts angry due to a perceived injustice and feels like they have something to prove.
Also see the Idioms Builder for practice with hundreds of idioms (including the idioms in this exercise).