Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Special – TOEFL Idioms Part II

TOEFL idioms are back with part II.  This is the beginning of my new schedule which I launched yesterday.  So, let’s break down these idioms!


Hit The Books – Study

So when we say “hit the books,” this means to study.

Usage: “I need to hit the books.”

We use this only with a gerund, too — not an infinitive.

Wrong usage: “I need to hitting the books.”

This is good to say to your American friends.

Hit The Sack – go to sleep

When you’re up doing something late at night, whatever the activity may be, this is a nice idiom to say to your friends when you’re trying to signal to your friends that it’s time to go home.

Family members would say this to each other late at night while watching t.v., but you can say it to your friends like this.

Usage: “All right, guys.  Time for me to go! I have an early morning and need to hit the sack early.”


Stab someone in the back – betrayal

This happens practically everywhere in the world.

Usage: “She stabbed me in the back.” – Past Tense


Sit tight – be patient/wait

I often hear this in movies when actors/actresses tell someone “hey, sit tight…I’ll be back.”


Pitch In – help pay for something.

This is one of my favorites because here in Thailand, some people aren’t known for pitching in.  They think one person should take the entire bill.  However, In America we help each other (well, 70% of the time).

Usage: “Are you going to help pitch in for _________?”


Ring a bell – something that sounds familiar.

Usage: “Does the name Arsenio Hall ring a bell?”


Blow steam – let some stress off

You hear this often with men.  When we “blow off steam,” that means we’re going somewhere to let off some steam — preferably the gym.


Cut to the chase – get to the point

Seriously, this is another favorite.  Sometimes people “beat around the bush,” which means talking about something outside of the main point.  This is something you can say, “hey, stop beating around the bush and cut to the chase — you love me. I understand.”

Obviously joking, but you guys get the point.

Up in the air – nothing planned.

This means that nothing is planned yet.  There are things in place, but nothing definitive.


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