~ K ~

Kangaroo court

When people take the law into their own hands and form courts that are not legal, these are known as kangaroo court.

Keen as mustard

(UK) If someone is very enthusiastic, they are as keen as mustard.

Keep abreast

If you keep abreast of things, you stay informed about developments.

Keep at bay

If you keep someone or something at bay, you maintain a safe distance from them.

Keep body and soul together

If you earn enough to cover your basic expenses, but nothing more than that, you earn enough to keep body and soul together.

Keep in touch

If you keep in touch with someone, you keep communicating with them even though you may live far apart.

Keep it on the Q T

If you keep something on the Q T, you keep it quiet or secret.(‘Q-T’ is also used.)

Keep it under your hat

If you keep something under your hat, you keep it secret.

Keep mum

If you keep mum about something, you keep quiet and don’t tell anyone.

Keep posted

If you keep posted about something, you keep up-to-date with information and developments.

Keep someone at arm’s length

If you keep someone or something at arm’s length, you keep a safe distance away from them.

Keep someone on their toes

If you keep someone on their toes, you make sure that they concentrate on what they are supposed to do.

Keep the wolf at bay

If you keep the wolf at bay, you make enough money to avoid going hungry or falling heavily into debt.

Keep the wolf from the door

If you keep the wolf from the door, you have enough money for food and the basic essentials.

Keep up with the Joneses

People who try to keep up with the Joneses are competitive about material possessions and always try to have the latest and best things.

Keep your chin up

(UK) This expression is used to tell someone to have confidence.

Keep your cool

If you keep your cool, you don’t get excessively excited or disturbed in a bad situation.

Keep your ear to the ground

If you keep your ear to the ground, you try to keep informed about something, especially if there are rumours or uncertainties.

Keep your eye on the ball

If you keep your eye on the ball, you stay alert and pay close attention to what is happening.

Keep your eye on the prize

This means that you should keep your focus on achieving a positive end result.

Keep your eyes peeled

If you keep your eyes peeled, you stay alert or watchful.

Keep your fingers crossed

If you are keeping your fingers crossed, you are hoping for a positive outcome.

Keep your hair on

Keep your hair on is advice telling someone to keep calm and not to over-react or get angry.

Keep your head

If you keep your head, you stay calm in times of difficulty.

Keep your head above water

If you are just managing to survive financially, you are keeping your head above water.

Keep your nose clean

If someone is trying to keep their Nose Clean, they are trying to stay out of trouble by not getting involved in any sort of wrong-doing.

Keep your nose to the grindstone

If you keep your nose to the grindstone, you work hard and seriously.

Keep your options open

If someone’s keeping their options open, they aren’t going to restrict themselves or rule out any possible course of action.

Keep your pants on

If someone tells you to keep your pants on, they mean that you should be patient and not make them rush.

Keep your pecker up

If someone tells you to keep your pecker up, they are telling you not to let your problems get on top of you and to try to be optimistic.

Keep your powder dry

If you keep your powder dry, you act cautiously so as not to damage your chances.

Keep your shirt on!

This idiom is used to tell someone to calm down.

Keep your wig on!

(UK) This idiom is used to tell someone to calm down.

Kettle of fish

A pretty or fine kettle of fish is a difficult problem or situation.

Kick a habit

If you kick a habit, you stop doing it.

Kick away the ladder

If someone kicks away the ladder, they remove something that was supporting or helping someone.

Kick in the teeth

Bad news or a sudden disappointment are a kick in the teeth.

Kick something into the long grass

If an issue or problem is kicked into the long grass, it is pushed aside and hidden in the hope that it will be forgotten or ignored.

Kick the ballistics

It means you realise the intensity of a situation. For example, there is too much unemployment now, so the prime minister must kick the ballistics and change his policy.

Kick the bucket

When someone kicks the bucket, they die.

Kick up your heels

(USA) If you kick up your heels, you go to parties or celebrate something.

Kick your heels

(UK) If you have to kick your heels, you are forced to wait for the result or outcome of something.

Kicked to touch

Touch is a zone of the playing field in Rugby. Kicked to touch means the ball was put safely out of play. Idiomatic usage usually means a person has deftly avoided an issue in argument.

Kid gloves

If someone is handled with kid gloves, they are given special treatment and handled with great care.

Kill the goose that lays the golden egg

If you kill the goose that lays the golden egg, you ruin something that is very profitable.

Kill two birds with one stone

When you kill two birds with one stone, you resolve two difficulties or matters with a single action.

Kindred spirit

A kindred spirit is someone who feels and thinks the way you do.

King of the castle

The king of the castle is the person who is in charge of something or in a very comfortable position compared to their companions.

King’s ransom

If something costs or is worth a king’s ransom, it costs or is worth a lot of money.

Kiss and tell

If people kiss and tell, they disclose private or confidential information.

Kiss of death

The kiss of death is an action that means failure or ruin for someone, a scheme, a plan, etc.

Kiss something goodbye

If someone tells you that you can kiss something goodbye, you have no chance of getting or having it.

Kissing cousin

A kissing cousin is someone you are related to, but not closely.


(UK) Kitchen-sink drama deals with ordinary people’s lives.

Kith and kin

Your kith and kin are your family; your next of kin are close relations you nominate to deal with your affairs in the event of your death on a document, like a passport.

Knee slapper

A knee slapper is something that is considered funny, though it is often used sarcastically.

Knee-jerk reaction

A knee-jerk reaction is an instant, instinctive response to a situation.

Knickers in a twist

When your knickers are in a twist, you are angry and snappish over something trivial. ‘Whenever he loses his car keys, he gets his knickers in a twist.’

Knight in shining armour

A knight in shining armour is someone who saves you when you are in great trouble or danger.

Knit your brows

If you knit your brows, you frown or look worried.

Knock ’em dead

‘Knock ’em dead’ is used as a way of wishing someone luck before they give a performance or have to appear before people, as in an interview, etc. (’em = them)

Knock on wood

This idiom is used to wish for good luck. (‘Touch wood’ is also used.)

Knock something on the head

If you knock something on the head, you stop it or stop doing it.

Knock the pins from under someone

If someone knocks the pins from under you, they let you down.

Knock your block off

To punch someone in the face Eg : The next time you do something like that I’m going to “knock your block off”.

Knock your socks off

If something knocks your socks off, it amazes and surprises you, usually in a positive way.

Know a hawk from a handsaw

If someone knows a hawk from a handsaw, they are able to distinguish things and assess them.

Know full well

When you know full well, you are absolutely sure that you know.

Know the ropes

Someone who is experienced and knows how the system works know the ropes.

Know where all the bodies are buried

Someone who by virtue of holding a position of trust with an organization for a long period of time has come to know many of the secrets that others in more powerful positions would rather be kept secret knows where the bodies are buried. An implication is that the person knowing these secrets will use that knowledge to secure something of value for him- or herself.

Know which side one’s bread is buttered on

If you know which side one’s bread is buttered on, you know where your interests lie and will act accordingly to protect or further them.

Know which way the wind blows

This means that you should know how things are developing and be prepared for the future.

Know your onions

If someone is very well-informed about something, they know their onions.

Know your place

A person who knows their place doesn’t try to impose themselves on others.

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