M

~ M ~

Mad as a badger

If someone is as mad as a badger, they are crazy.

Mad as a bag of hammers

Someone who is as mad as a bag of hammers is crazy or stupid. (‘Daft as a bag of hammers’ is also used.)

Mad as a cut snake

(AU) One who is mad as a cut snake has lost all sense of reason, is crazy, out of control.

Mad as a hornet

(USA) If someone is as mad as a hornet, they are very angry indeed.

Mad as a March hare

Someone who is excitable and unpredictable is as mad as a March hare.

Mad as a wet hen

If someone is as mad as a wet hen, they are extremely angry.

Made in the shade

One has an easy time in life or in a given situation. Finding things working to one’s benefit.

Made of money

If you are made of money, you have a lot of money.

Mailed fist

Someone who rules or controls something with a mailed fist is in absolute control and tolerates no dissent. A mailed fist in a velvet glove is used to describe someone who appears soft on the outside, but underneath is very hard. ‘Iron fist’ is an alternative form.

Major league

Something major league is very important.

Make a better fist

If someone makes a better fist of doing something, they do a better job.

Make a clean breast

If someone makes a clean breast, they confess in full to something they have done.

Make a killing

If you make a killing, you do something that makes you a lot of money.

Make a meal

If someone makes a meal of something, they spend too long doing it or make it look more difficult than it really is.

Make a mint

If someone is making a mint, they are making a lot of money.

Make a monkey of someone

If you make a monkey of someone, you make them look foolish.

Make a mountain out of a molehill

If somebody makes a mountain out of a molehill, they exaggerate the importance or seriousness of a problem.

Make a pig’s ear

If you make a pig’s ear of something, you make a mess of it.

Make a pitch

If you make a pitch for something, you make a bid, offer or other attempt to get it.

Make a request

If you request something, or make a request, you are asking for something you want or need.

Make a song and dance

(UK) If someone makes a song and dance, they make an unecessary fuss about something unimportant.

Make a virtue out of necessity

If you make a virtue out of necessity, you make the best of a difficult or unsatisfactory situation.

Make an enquiry

If you make an enquiry, you ask for general information about something.

Make bets in a burning house

(USA) If people are making bets in a burning house, they are engaged in futile activity while serious problems around them are getting worse.

Make ends meet

If somebody finds it hard to make ends meet, they have problems living on the money they earn.

Make hay

If you make hay, or may hay while the sun shines, you take advantage of an opportunity as soon as it arises and do not waste time.

Make headway

If you make headway, you make progress.

Make money hand over fist

If you make money hand over fist, you make a lot of money without any difficulty.

Make my day

If something makes your day, it satisfies you or makes you happy.

Make no bones about it

If somebody make no bones about a scandal in their past, they are open and honest about it and show no shame or embarrassment.

Make or break

A make or break decision, stage, etc, is a crucial one that will determine the success or failure of the whole venture.

Make out like a bandit

(USA) If someone is extremely successful in a venture, they make out like a bandit.

Make waves

If someone makes waves, they cause a lot of trouble.

Make you spit

If something makes you spit, it irritates you or makes you angry.

Make your blood boil

If something makes your blood boil, it makes you very angry.

Make your flesh crawl

If something makes your flesh crawl, it really scares or revolts you. (‘Make your flesh creep’ is an alternative. ‘Make your skin crawl’ is also used.)

Make your hair stand on end

If something makes your hair stand on end, it terrifies you.

Make your toes curl

If something makes your toes curl, it makes you feel very uncomfortable, shocked or embarrassed.

Make yourself scarce

If someone makes themselves scarce, they go away from a place, especially to avoid trouble or so that they can’t be found.

Man Friday

From ‘Robinson Crusoe’, a ‘Man Friday’ refers to an assistant or companion, usually a capable one. The common feminine equivalent is ‘Girl Friday’. (Also, ‘right-hand man’. )

Man in the street

The man in the street is an idiom to describe ordinary people, especially when talking about their opinions and ideas.

Man of his word

A man of his word is a person who does what he says and keeps his promises.

Man of letters

A man of letters is someone who is an expert in the arts and literature, and often a writer too.

Man of means

A man, or woman, of means is wealthy.

Man of parts

A man of parts is a person who is talented in a number of different areas or ways.

Man of straw

A weak person that can easily be beaten of changed is a man of straw.

Man of the cloth

A man of the cloth is a priest.

Man on the Clapham omnibus

(UK) The man on the Clapham omnibus is the ordinary person in the street.

Man proposes, God disposes

Your fate lies in the hands of God.

Man upstairs

When people refer to the man upstairs, they are referring to God.

Man’s best friend

This is an idiomatic term for dogs.

Man’s man

A man’s man is a man who does things enjoyed by men and is respected by other men.

Many a slip twixt cup and lip

There’s many a slip twixt cup and lip means that many things can go wrong before something is achieved.

Many hands make light work

This idiom means that when everyone gets involved in something, the work gets done quickly.

Many happy returns

This expression is used to wish someone a happy birthday.

Many moons ago

A very long time ago.

March to the beat of your own drum

If people march to the beat of their own drum, they do things the way they want without taking other people into consideration.

Mark my words

Mark my words is an expression used to lend an air of seriousness to what the speaker is about to say when talking about the future. You often hear drunks say it before they deliver some particularly spurious nonsense.

Mark someone’s card

If you mark someone’s card, you correct them in a forceful and prompt manner when they say something wrong.

Marked man

A marked man is a person who is being targeted by people who want to do them harm or cause them trouble.

Matter of life and death

If something is a matter of life and death, it is extremely important.

Mealy-mouthed

A mealy-mouthed person doesn’t say what they mean clearly.

Meat and drink

If something is meat and drink to you, you enjoy it and are naturally good at it, though many find it difficult.

Meat and potatoes

The meat and potatoes is the most important part of something. A meat and potatoes person is someone who prefers plain things to fancy ones.

Meet someone halfway

If you meet someone halfway, you accept some of their ideas and make concessions.

Meet your expectations

If something doesn’t meet your expectations, it means that it wasn’t as good as you had thought it was going to be; a disappointment.

Meet your Maker

If someone has gone to meet their Maker, they have died.

Meet your match

If you meet your match, you meet a person who is at least as good if not better than you are at something.

Megaphone diplomacy

If negotiations between countries or parties are held through press releases and announcements, this is megaphone diplomacy, aiming to force the other party into adopting a desired position.

Melt your heart

If something melts your heart, it affects you emotionally and you cannot control the feeling.

Melting pot

A melting pot is a place where people from many ethnicities and nationalities live together.

Memory like a sieve

If somebody can’t retain things for long in his or her memory and quickly forgets, he or she has a memory like a sieve. A sieve has lots of tiny holes in it to let liquids out while keeping the solids inside.

Memory like an elephant

‘An elephant never forgets’ is a saying, so if a person has a memory like an elephant, he or she has a very good memory indeed.

Mend fences

When people mend fences, they try to improve or restore relations that have been damaged by disputes or arguments.

Mess with a bull, you get the horns

If you do something stupid or dangerous, you can get hurt.

Method in his madness

If there’s method in someone’s madness, they do things in a strange and unorthodox way, but manage to get results.

Mexican standoff

When there is a deadlock in strategy and neither side can do anything that will ensure victory, it’s a Mexican standoff.

Mickey Mouse

If something is Mickey Mouse, it is intellectually trivial or not of a very high standard.

Midas touch

If someone has the Midas touch, they make a lot of money out of any scheme they try.

Middle of nowhere

If someone says that he/she is in the middle of nowhere, he/she means that he/she is not sure where he/she is.

Might and main

This means with all your effort and strength.  As he failed in the previous exam,the student tried might and main to pass the next one.

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow

Big or great things start very small.

Mile a minute

To do something very quickly. For example: He was talking a mile a minute.

Millstone round your neck

A millstone around your neck is a problem that prevents you from doing what you want to do.

Mince words

If people mince words, or mince their words, they don’t say what they really mean clearly.

Mind over matter

This idiom is used when someone uses their willpower to rise above adversity.

Mind the gap

Mind the gap is an instruction used on the Underground in the UK to warn passengers to be careful when leaving the tube or train as there is quite a distance between the train and the platform.

Mind your own beeswax

(USA) This idiom means that people should mind their own business and not interfere in other people’s affairs.

Mind Your P’s and Q’s

If you are careful about the way you behave and are polite, you mind Your P’s and Q’s.

Mind your P’s and Q’s

This is used as a way of telling someone to be polite and behave well.

Mint condition

If something is in mint condition, it is in perfect condition.

Misery guts

A misery guts is a person who’s always unhappy and tries to make others feel negative.

Miss is as good as a mile

A miss is as good as a mile means that if you fail, even by the smallest margin, it is still a failure.

Miss the boat

If you miss the boat, you are too late to take advantage of an opportunity.

Mom and pop

(USA) A mom and pop business is a small business, especially if it is run by members of a family. It can used in a wider sense to mean that something is small scale.

Monday morning quarterback

(USA) A Monday morning quarterback is someone who, with the benefit of hindsight, knows what should have been done in a situation.

Money burns a hole in your pocket

If someone has money burning a hole in their pocket, they are eager to spend it, normally in a wasteful manner.

Money doesn`t grow on trees

This means that you have to work to earn money; it doesn’t come easily or without effort.

Money for jam

If something’s money for jam, it’s a very easy way of making money.

Money for old rope

(UK) If something’s money for old rope, it’s a very easy way of making money.

Money laundering

If people launder money, they get money made illegally into the mainstream so that it is believed to be legitimate and clean.

Money makes many things

This means that money is important.

Money talks

This means that people can convey many messages with money, and many things can be discovered about people by observing the way they use their money.

Money to burn

If someone is very rich, they have money to burn.

Monkey business

If children get up to monkey business, they are behaving naughtily or mischievously. This is the same as ‘monkeying around’.

Monkey see, monkey do

This idiom means that children will learn their behaviour by copying what they see happening around them.

Moot point

If something’s a moot point, there’s some disagreement about it: a debatable point. In the U.S., this expression usually means that there is no point in debating something, because it just doesn’t matter. An example: If you are arguing over whether to go the beach or to the park, but you find out the car won’t start and you can’t go anywhere, then the destination is said to be a moot point.

Moral fibre

Moral fibre is the inner strength to do what you believe to be right in difficult situations Example: He lacked the moral fibre to be leader (In American English the correct spelling is ‘fiber’.)

Moral high ground

If people have/take/claim/seize, etc, the moral high ground, they claim that their arguments, beliefs, etc, are morally superior to those being put forward by other people.

More bang for your buck

(USA) Something that will give you more bang for your buck will deliver more value than any other option.

More front than Brighton

(UK) If you have more front than Brighton, you are very self-confident, possibly excessively so.

More haste, less speed

The faster you try to do something, the more likely you are to make mistakes that make you take longer than it would had you planned it.

More heat than light

If a discussion generates more heat than light, it doesn’t provide answers, but does make people angry.

More holes than Swiss cheese

If something has more holes than a Swiss cheese, it is incomplete,and lacks many parts.

More than meets the eye

If there is more than meets the eye to something, it is more complex or difficult than it appears.

More than one string to their bow

A person who has more than one string to their bow has different talents or skills to fall back on.

More than one way to skin a cat

When people say that there is more than one way to skin a cat, they mean that there are different ways of achieving the same thing.

More than you can shake a stick at

If you have more of something than you can shake a stick at, then you have a lot.

Mountain to climb

If you have a mountain to climb, you have to work hard or make a lot of progress to achieve something.

Move heaven and earth

This expression indicates a person’s determined intention of getting a work done in spite of all odds he may face. He will use all and every means to accomplish the target. Example: He moved heaven and earth to get his literary work recognised by the committee of experts.

Move mountains

If you would move mountains to do something, you would make any effort to achieve your aim. When people say that faith can move mountains, they mean that it can achieve a lot.

Move the goalposts

When people move the goalposts, they change the standards required for something to their advantage.

Mover and shaker

A person who is a mover and shaker is a highly respected, key figure in their particular area with a lot of influence and importance.

Much ado about nothing

If there’s a lot of fuss about something trivial, there’s much ado about nothing.

Much of a muchness

Things are much of a muchness when there is very little difference between them.

Muck or nettles

‘Muck or nettles’ means ‘all or nothing’.

Mud in the fire

The things that cannot be changed in the past that we usually forget about are mud in the fire.

Mud in your eye

This is a way of saying ‘cheers’ when you are about to drink something, normally alcohol.

Mud-slinging

If someone is mud-slinging, they are insulting someone and trying to damage that person’s reputation.

Muddy the waters

If somebody muddies the waters, he or she makes the situation more complex or less clear.

Mum’s the word

When people use this idiom, they mean that you should keep quiet about something and not tell other people.

Mummy’s boy

A man who is still very dependent on his mother is a mummy’s boy.

Murder will out

This idiom means that bad deeds can’t be kept secret forever.

Murky waters

Where people are behaving in morally and ethically questionable ways, they are in murky waters.

Music to my ears

If something someone says is music to your ears, it is exactly what you had wanted to hear.

Mutton dressed as lamb

Mutton dressed as lamb is term for middle-aged or elderly people trying to look younger.

My dogs are barking

(USA) When someone says this, they mean that their feet are hurting.

My eye

This idiom is added to an adjective to show that you disagree with it: ‘He’s shy.’ ‘Shy my eye- he’s just planning something secret.’

My foot!

This idiom is used to show that you do not believe what someone has just said.

My hands are full

If your hands are full, you have so much to do that you cannot take on any more work, responsibilities and so on.

My hands are tied

If your hands are tied, you are unable to act for some reason.

My heart bleeds

If your heart bleeds for someone, you feel genuine sympathy and sadness for them.

My heart goes out to someone

If your heart goes out to someone, you feel genuine sympathy for them.

My way or the highway

This idiom is used to say that if people don’t do what you say, they will have to leave or quit the project, etc.

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