Why Idioms are Essential in Any Business Conversation?


Why Idioms are Essential in Any Business Conversation?


 The world of business communication has become loaded with idiomatic expressions. As a working professional in an English environment you are expected to have a good command of business idioms and expressions. Whether you are taking part in a daily meeting or a business negotiation or attending a cocktail party on the occasion of launching a new product, understanding business idioms has become a must.

There are various situations during a business meeting when you could get easily lost and confused if you do not understand business idioms. Hereinafter we will provide such an example.

Idiom: blue sky thinking

Meaning: original or creative thinking to find a new solution or concept

Example: Our sales are falling. Our products are old and the package is unfashionable. We really need some “blue sky thinking”.

Understanding the above idiom during a meeting is crucial. Otherwise it could cause confusion and get you sidetracked. In order to help you find your way through the jungle of business idioms, we have a compiled of list of the 50 very commonly used ones and we have also provided explanations for their meaning.


Ahead of the pack To be more successful than the competition
Back to square one To start something again because a previous attempt failed
Ballpark number/figure A very inexact estimate
Big picture Everything that is involved with a particular situation
By the book To do things exactly according to the rules or the law
Corner the market To dominate a particular market
Cut-throat Very intense, aggressive and merciless competition
Easy come, easy go Something gained easily is lost easily
Game plan A strategy or plan for achieving success
Get down to business Stop making small talk and start talking about serious business topics
Get something off the ground To start something (a project or a business)
Go down the drain Something is wasted or lost
Go the extra mile To do more than what people expect
Hands are tied  Not being free to behave in the way you would like
In a nutshell Using as few words as possible
In full swing At a stage when the level of activity is at its the highest
In the driver’s seat To be in charge or in control of a situation
Keep one’s eye on the ball To give something one’s full attention and to not lose focus
Learn the ropes Learn the basics of something (e.g. a job)
Long shot Something that has a very low probability of happening
No-brainer Something that is really obvious or easy
No strings attached Something is given without involving special demands or limits
Not going to fly Something is not expected to work out 
On the same page To be in agreement about something
Out in the open Something that is public knowledge and not secret any more
Put all one’s eggs in one basket To rely on only one thing to bring success
Put the cart before the horse To do or think about things in the wrong order
Raise the bar To set standards or expectations higher
Red tape Official rules and processes that seem excessive and unnecessary
Rock the boat To do or say something that will upset people or cause problems
Safe bet Something that is certain to happen
Same boat To be in the same difficult situation as someone else
See eye to eye To agree with somebody
See something through To continue until something is finished
Sever ties To end a relationship
Shoot something down To reject something (e.g. a proposal)
Smooth sailing A situation where success is achieved without difficulties
Stand one’s ground To not change one’s opinion or position
Take the bull by the horns To directly confront a difficult situations in a brave and determined way
Talk someone into something To convince someone to do something
Talk someone out of something To convince someone not to do something
The elephant in the room An obvious problem or controversial issue that no one wants to discuss
Think outside the box To think of creative, unconventional solutions instead of common ones
Time’s up Time for something or someone has ended
Touch base To make contact with someone
Twist someone’s arm To convince someone to do something that he or she does not want to do
Up in the air Something is undecided or uncertain
Uphill battle Something that is difficult to achieve because of obstacles and difficulties
Upper hand To have more power than anyone else and so have control
Word of mouth Something is given or done by people talking about something or telling people about something