H

~ H ~

Hail-fellow-well-met

Someone whose behavior is hearty, friendly and congenial.

Hair of the dog

If someone has a hair of the dog, they have an alcoholic drink as a way of getting rid of a hangover, the unpleasant effects of having drunk too much alcohol the night before. It is commonly used as a way of excusing having a drink early on in the day.

Hairy at the heel

(UK) Someone who is hairy at the heel is dangerous or untrustworthy.

Hale and hearty

Someone who is hale and hearty is in very good health.

Half a loaf is better than no bread

It means that getting part of what you want is better than getting nothing at all.

Half a mind

If you have half a mind to do something, you haven’t decided to do it, but are thinking seriously about doing it.

Half-baked

A half-baked idea or scheme hasn’t not been thought through or planned very well.

Hammer and tongs

If people are going at it hammer and tongs, they are arguing fiercely. The idiom can also be used hen people are doing something energetically.

Hand in glove

If people are hand in glove, they have an extremely close relationship.

Hand in hand

Hand in hand= work together closely When people in a group, say in an office or in a project, work together with mutual understanding to achieve the target, we say they work hand in hand. There is no lack of co-operation and each synchoranises the activity with that of the other.

Hand that rocks the cradle

Women have a great power and influence because they have the greatest influence over the development of children- the hand that rocks the cradle. (‘The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world’ is the full form.)

Hand to mouth

Someone who’s living from hand to mouth, is very poor and needs the little money they have coming in to cover their expenses.

Hands down

If someone is better hands down than everyone else, they are much better.

Handwriting like chicken scratch

If your handwriting is very hard to read, it is like chicken scratch.

Hang by a thread

If something hangs by a thread, there is a very small chance indeed of it being successful or surviving.

Hang in the balance

If an outcome is hanging in the balance, there are at least two possibilities and it is impossible to predict which will win out.

Hang out to dry

If you hang someone out to dry, you abandon them when they are in trouble.

Hangdog expression

A hangdog expression is one where the person’s showing their emotions very clearly, maybe a little too clearly for your liking. It’s that mixture of misery and self-pity that is similar to a dog when it’s trying to get something it wants but daren’t take without permission.

Hanged for a sheep as a lamb

This is an expression meaning that if you are going to get into trouble for doing something, then you ought to stop worrying and should try to get everything you can before you get caught.

Happy medium

If you reach a happy medium, you are making a compromise; reaching a conclusion or decision.

Happy-go-lucky

If someone is happy-go-lucky, they don’t worry or plan and accept things as they happen.

Hard as nails

A person who is as hard as nails is either physically tough or has little or no respect for other people’s feelings.

Hard by

“Hard by” means mean “close to” or “near”.

Hard cheese

(UK) Hard cheese means hard luck.

Hard of hearing

Someone who’s hard of hearing is a bit deaf.

Hard on someone’s heels

If you are hard on someone’s heels, you are close to them and trying to catch or overtake them.  (‘Hot on someone’s heels’ is also used.)

Hard sell

If someone puts a lot of pressure on you to do or buy something, they are hard selling it.

Hard to come by

If something is hard to come by, it is difficult to find.

Hard up

If you are hard up, you have very little money.

Haste makes waste

This idiom means that if you try to do something quickly, without planning it, you’re likely to end up spending more time, money, etc, doing it.

Hat trick

Three successes one after the other is a hat trick.

Hatchet job

A piece of criticism that destroys someone’s reputation is a hatchet job.

Have a ball

If you have a ball, you have a great time, a lot of fun.

Have a bash

If you have a bash at something, you try to do it, especially when there isn’t much chance of success.

Have a blast

It means “to have a lot of fun”.

Have a crack

If you have a crack at something, you try to do it. If someone is attempting to do something and they are unsuccessful, you might say, “Let me have a crack at it” suggesting that you might be successful at performing the task. (‘Take a crack’ is also used.)

Have a foot in both camps

Someone who plays a part or who is involved in two different groups of people, opinions, ways of thinking or living, etc, has a foot in both camps.

Have a go

If you have a go, you try to do something, often when you don’t think you have much chance of succeeding.

Have a heart

If someone has a heart, they arekind and sympathetic.  If you say, ‘Have a heart’ to someone, you are asking them to be understanding and sympathetic.

Have a ripper

If you have a ripper of a time, you enjoy yourself.

Have a trick up your sleeve

If you have a trick up your sleeve, you have a secret strategy to use when the time is right.

Have no truck with

If you have no truck with something or someone, you refuse to get involved with it or them.

Have the floor

If someone has the floor, it is their turn to speak at a meeting.

Have the guts

Someone who has enough courage to do something has the guts to do it.

Have your cake and eat it too

If someone wants to have their cake and eat it too, they want everything their way, especially when their wishes are contradictory.

Have your collar felt

If someone has their collar felt, they are arrested.

Have your fill

If you have had your fill, you are fed up of somebody or something.

Have your lunch handed to you

If you have you lunch handed to you, you are outperformed and shown up by someone better.

Have your moments

Someone who has his or her moments exhibits a positive behavior pattern on an occasional basis but not generally.

Have your tail up

If someone has their tail up, they are optimistic and expect to be successful.

Have your work cut out

If you have your work cut out, you are very busy indeed.

Having a gas

If you’re having a gas, you are having a laugh and enjoying yourself in company.

Hay is for horses

This idiom is used as a way of telling children not to say the word ‘hey’ as in hey you or hey there.

He that travels far knows much

People who travel widely have a wide knowledge.

He who hesitates is lost

If one waits too long, the opportunity vanishes.

Head for the hills

If people head for the hills, they run away from trouble.

Head is in the clouds

If a person has their head in the clouds, they have unrealistic, impractical ideas.

Head is mince

(Scot) When someone’s thoughts are in a state of abject confusion, especially when facing a severe dilemma, their head is mince.

Head nor tail

If you can’t make head nor tail of something, you cannot understand it at all or make any sense of it.

Head on a spike

If someone wants a head on a spike, they want to be able to destroy or really punish a person.

Head on the block

If someone’s head is on the block, they are going to be held responsible and suffer the consequences for something that has gone wrong.

Head over heels in love

When someone falls passionately in love and is intoxicated by the feeling has fallen head over heels in love.

Head south

If something head south, it begins to fail or start going bad.’The project proceeded well for the first two months, but then it headed south.’

Heads will roll

If heads will roll, people will be punished or sacked for something that has gone wrong.

Headstrong

A headstrong person is obstinate and does not take other people’s advice readily.

Healthy as a horse

If you’re as healthy as a horse, you’re very healthy.

Heap coals on someone’s head

To do something nice or kind to someone who has been nasty to you. If someone felt bad because they forgot to get you a Christmas gift, for you to buy them a specially nice gift is heaping coals on their head. (‘Heap coals of fire’ is also used.)

Hear a pin drop

If there is complete silence in a room, you can hear a pin drop.

Hear on the grapevine

To receive information indirectly through a series of third parties, similar to a rumour.

Heart in the right place

If someone’s heart is in the right place, they are good and kind, though they might not always appear to be so.

Heart in your boots

If you’re heart is in your boots, you are very unhappy.

Heart in your mouth

If your heart is in your mouth, then you feel nervous or scared.

Heart isn’t in it

If your heart is not in something, then you don’t really believe in it or support it.

Heart misses a beat

If your heart misses a beat, you are suddenly shocked or surprised. (‘Heart skips a beat’ is an alternative)

Heart of glass

When someone has a heart of glass, they are easily affected emotionally.

Heart of gold

Someone with a heart of gold is a genuinely kind and caring person.

Heart of steel

When someone has a heart of steel, they do not show emotion or are not affected emotionally.

Heart-to-heart

A heart-to-heart is a frank and honest conversation with someone, where you talk honestly and plainly about issues, no matter how painful.

Heaven knows

If you ask someone a question and they say this, they have no idea.

Heavenly bodies

The heavenly bodies are the stars.

Heavy-handed

If someone is heavy-handed, they are insensitive and use excessive force or authority when dealing with a problem.

Hedge your bets

If you hedge your bets, you don’t risk everything on one opportunity, but try more than one thing.

Hell for leather

If you do something hell for leather, especially running, you do it as fast as you can.

Hell in a handcart

If something is going to hell in a handcart, it is getting worse and worse, with no hope of stopping the decline.

Herding cats

If you have to try to co-ordinate a very difficult situation, where people want to do very different things, you are herding cats.

Here today, gone tomorrow

Money, happiness and other desirable things are often here today, gone tomorrow, which means that they don’t last for very long.

Hide nor hair

When there’s no trace of something or a person, you haven’t seen hide nor hair of it or them.(‘Neither hide nor hair’ is also used.)

Hiding to nothing

If people are on a hiding to nothing, their schemes and plans have no chance of succeeding. ‘Hiding to nowhere’ is an alternative.

High and dry

If you are left high and dry, you are left alone and given no help at all when you need it.

High and low

If you search high and low, you look everywhere for something or someone.

High and mighty

The high and mighty are the people with authority and power. If a person is high and mighty, they behave in a superior and condescending way.

High as a kite

If someone’s as high as a kite, it means they have had too much to drink or are under the influence of drugs.

High on the hog

To live in great comfort with lots of money.

High-handed

If someone is high-handed, they behave arrogantly and pompously.

High-wire act

A high-wire act is a dangerous or risky strategy, plan, task, etc.

Highway robbery

Something that is ridiculously expensive, especially when you have no choice but to pay, is a highway robbery.

Himalayan blunder

A Himalayan blunder is a very serious mistake or error.

Hindsight is twenty-twenty

After something has gone wrong, it is easy to look back and make criticisms.

Hit a nerve

If something hits a nerve, it upsets someone or causes them pain, often when it is something they are trying to hide.

Hit and miss

Something that is hit and miss is unpredictable and may produce results or may fail.

Hit me with your best shot

If someone tells you to hit them with your best shot, they are telling you that no matter what you do it won’t hurt them or make a difference to them.

Hit rock bottom

When someone hits rock bottom, they reach a point in life where things could not get any worse.

Hit rough weather

If you hit rough weather, you experience difficulties or problems.

Hit the airwaves

If someone hits the airwaves, they go on radio and TV to promote something or to tell their side of a story.

Hit the books

If you hit the books, you study or read hard.

Hit the bull’s-eye

If someone hits the bull’s-eye, they are exactly right about something or achieve the best result possible. “Bulls-eye” and “bullseye” are alternative spellings.

Hit the ceiling

If someone hits the ceiling, they lose their temper and become very angry.

Hit the Dirt

To duck out of the way or fall to the ground to avoid something dangerous.

Hit the fan

When it hits the fan, or, more rudely, the shit hits the fan, serious trouble starts.

Hit the ground running

If someone hits the ground running, they start a new job or position in a very dynamic manner.

Hit the hay

When you hit the hay, you go to bed.

Hit the mark

If someone hits the mark, they are right about something.

Hit the nail on the head

If someone hits the nail on the head, they are exactly right about something.

Hit the road

When people hit the road, they leave a place to go somewhere else.

Hit the roof

If you lose your temper and get very angry, you hit the roof.

Hit the sack

When you hit the sack, you go to bed.

Hive of worker bees

A hive of worker bees is a group of people working actively and cooperatively. Example: The classroom was a hive of worker bees.

Hobson’s choice

A Hobson’s choice is something that appears to be a free choice, but is really no choice as there is no genuine alternative.

Hoist with your own petard

If you are hoist with your own petard, you get into trouble or caught in a trap that you had set for someone else.

Hold all the aces

If you hold all the aces, you have all the advantages and your opponents or rivals are in a weak position.

Hold the baby

(UK) If someone is responsible for something, they are holding the baby.

Hold the bag

(USA) If someone is responsible for something, they are holding the bag.

Hold the fort

If you hold the fort, you look after something or assume someone’s responsibilities while they are away.

Hold the torch

If you hold the torch for someone, you have an unrequited or unspoken love.

Hold water

When you say that something does or does not ‘hold water’, it means that the point of view or argument put forward is or is not sound, strong or logical. For e.g., ‘Saying we should increase our interest rates because everyone else is doing so will not hold water’.

Hold your horses

If someone tells you to hold your horses, you are doing something too fast and they would like you to slow down.

Hold your own

If you can hold your own, you can compete or perform equally with other people.

Hold your tongue

If you hold your tongue, you keep silent even though you want to speak.

Holier-than-thou

Someone who is holier-than-thou believes that they are morally superior to other people.

Hollow leg

Someone who has a hollow leg eats what seems to be more than his stomach can hold.

Hollow victory

A hollow victory is where someone wins something in name, but are seen not to have gained anything by winning.

Holy smoke!

This is a way of expressing surprise: “Holy smoke! Look at all of those geese!”

Home and hearth

‘Home and hearth’ is an idiom evoking warmth and security.

Home is where you lay your hat

Wherever you are comfortable and at ease with yourself is your home, regardless where you were born or brought up.(‘Home is where you lay your head’  and ‘Home is where you hang your hat’ are also used.)

Home stretch

The home stretch is the last part of something, like a journey, race or project.

Home sweet home

This is said when one is pleased to be back at one’s own home.

Home, James

(UK) This is a cliched way of telling the driver of a vehicle to start driving. It is supposed to be an order to a chauffeur (a privately employed driver).  The full phrase is ‘Home, James, and don’t spare the horses’.

Honest truth

If someone claims that something is the honest truth, they wish to sound extra-sincere about something.

Honor among thieves

If someone says there is honor among thieves, this means that even corrupt or bad people sometimes have a sense of honor or integrity, or justice, even if it is skewed.  (‘Honour among thieves’ is the British English version.)

Honours are even

If honours are even, then a competition has ended with neither side emerging as a winner.

Hook, line, and sinker

If somebody accepts or believes something hook, line, and sinker, they accept it completely.

Hop, skip, and a jump

If a place is a hop, skip, and a jump from somewhere, it’s only a short distance away.

Hope against hope

If you hope against hope, you hope for something even though there is little or no chance of your wish being fulfilled.

Hope in hell

If something hasn’t got a hope in hell, it stands absolutely no chance of succeeding.

Hornets’ nest

A hornets’ nest is a violent situation or one with a lot of dispute. (If you create the problem, you ‘stir up a hornets’ nest’.)

Horns of a dilemma

If you are on the horns of a dilemma, you are faced with two equally unpleasant options and have to choose one.

Horse of a different color

(USA) If something is a horse of a different color, it’s a different matter or separate issue altogether.

Horse trading

Horse trading is an idiom used to describe negotiations, especially where these are difficult and involve a lot of compromise.

Horses for courses

Horses for courses means that what is suitable for one person or situation might be unsuitable for another.

Hostile takeover

If a company is bought out when it does not want to be, it is known as a hostile takeover.

Hot air

Language that is full of words but means little or nothing is hot air.

Hot as blue blazes

If something’s as hot as blue blazes, it’s extremely hot.

Hot as Hades

If something’s as hot as Hades, it’s extremely hot.

Hot button

(USA) A hot button is a topic or issue that people feel very strongly about.

Hot foot

If you hot foot it out of a place, you leave very quickly, often running.

Hot potato

A problem or issue that is very controversial and no one wants to deal with is a hot potato.

Hot ticket

(USA) A hot ticket is something that is very much in demand at the moment.

Hot to trot

If someone is hot to trot, they are sexually aroused or eager to do something.

Hot under the collar

If you’re hot under the collar, you’re feeling angry or bothered.

Hot water

If you get into hot water, you get into trouble.

Hot-blooded

Someone who is hot-blooded is easily excitable or passionate.

Hot-headed

A hot-headed person gets angry very easily. (The noun ‘hothead’ can also be used.)

Hour of need

A time when someone really needs something, almost a last chance, is their hour of need.

House of cards

Something that is poorly thought out and can easily collapse or fail is a house of cards.

How come

If you want to show disbelief or surprise about an action, you can ask a question using ‘how come’. How come he got the job? (You can’t believe that they gave the job to somebody like him)

How do you like them apples

(USA) This idiomatic expression is used to express surprise or shock at something that has happened. It can also be used to boast about something you have done.

How long is a piece of string

If someone has no idea of the answer to a question, they can ask ‘How long is a piece of string?’ as a way of indicating their ignorance.

How’s tricks?

This is used as a way of asking people how they are and how things have been going in their life.

Hue and cry

Hue and cry is an expression that used to mean all the people who joined in chasing a criminal or villain. Nowadays, if you do something without hue and cry, you do it discreetly and without drawing attention.

Hung the moon

If you refer to someone as having hung the moon, you think they are extremely wonderful, or amazing, or good.

Hungry as a bear

If you are hungry as a bear, it means that you are really hungry.

Hunky Dory

If something is hunky dory, it is perfectly satisfactory, fine.

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