|1. to bite off: to accept as a responsibility or task
This idiom is often used when one accepts more responsibility than one can handle alone. It is usually used in the form to bite off more than one can chew.
- Ex: When I accepted the position of chairman, I didn’t realize how much I was biting off.
- Ex: When James registered for 18 units in his last semester at college, he bit off more than he could chew.
|2. to tell apart: to distinguish between (also: to pick apart, to tell from)
- Ex: The two brothers look so much alike that few people can tell them apart.
- Ex: That copy machine is so good that I can’t pick the photocopy and the original apart.
- Ex: Most new cars are very similar in appearance. It’s almost impossible to tell one from another.
|3. all in all: considering everything
- Ex: There were a few problems, but all in all it was a well-organized seminar.
- Ex: Leonard got a low grade in one subject, but all in all he’s a good student.
|4. to pass out: to distribute (also: to hand out); to lose consciousness
The verbal idiom to hand out can be made into the noun handout to refer to items that are distributed in a class or meeting.
- Ex: Please help me pass out these test papers; there must be a hundred of them.
- Ex: Alright, students, here are the class handouts for this week.
- Ex: The weather was so hot in the soccer stadium that some of the fans in the stands passed out.
|5. to go around: to be sufficient or adequate for everyone present; to circulate, to move from place to place
- Ex: We thought that we had bought enough food and drink for the party, but actually there wasn’t enough to go around.
- Ex: There’s a bad strain of influenza going around
|6. to be in (the/one’s) way: to block or obstruct; not to be helpful, to cause inconvenience (for both, also: to get in the/one’s way)
- Ex: Jocelyn couldn’t drive through the busy intersection because a big truck was in the way.
- Ex: Our small child tried to help us paint the house, but actually he just got in our way.
|7. to put on: to gain (pounds or weight); to present, to perform
- Ex: Bob has put on a lot of weight recently. He must have put at least fifteen pounds on.
- Ex: The Youth Actor’s Guild put on a wonderful version of Romeo and Juliet at the globe Theater.
|8. to put up: to tolerate, to accept unwillingly
- Ex: The employee was fired because his boss could not put up with his mistakes any longer.
- Ex: While I’m studying, I can’t put up with any noise or other distractions.
|9. in vain: useless, without the desired result
- Ex: All the doctors’ efforts to save the injured woman were in vain. She was declared dead three hours after being admitted to the hospital.
- Ex: We tried in vain to reach you last night. Is your phone out of order?
|10. day in and day out: continuously, constantly (also: day after day; for longer periods of time, year in and year out and year after year)
- Ex: During the month of April, it rained day in and day out.
- Ex: Day after day I waited for a letter from him, but one never came.
- Ex: Year in and year out, the weather in San Diego is the best in the nation.
|11. to catch up: to work with the purpose of fulfilling a requirement or being equal to others
The idiom is often followed by the preposition with and a noun phrase. It is similar in meaning to keep up with from Lesson 17.
- Ex: The student was absent from class so long that it took her a long time to
- Ex: If you are not equal to others, first you have to catch up with them before you can keep up with them.