Before emailing us with your question, please look through the following Frequently Asked Questions

What does the idiom “Word Search” do?
What does the idiom “Reverse Find” do?
What are the “Contexts” in the idiom search feature?
What are the “Categories” in the idiom search feature?
How does “Browse by Letter” work on the idiom search page?
I can’t find the idiom I’m looking for, what do I do?
I can’t view your site correctly with Microsoft Internet Explorer, what do I do?
I can’t view the videos on your site, what do I do?
How do I contact
Who is

What does the idiom “Word Search” do?
The idiom Word Search feature lets you search our idiom database based on a word. When an exact match on any word is made, a suggestion list will surface to help you find the idiom you are looking for. The feature will suggest other idioms that share any keyword you type in.
Search Example

What does the idiom “Reverse Find” do?
The Reverse Find feature lets you search for idioms by providing a root semantic or meaning. For example, to search for idioms that convey danger, enter the keyword “danger” in the search field. Instead of searching for an idiom to find its meaning, reverse find is where you provide the meaning, and the search results will contain matching idioms.
back to top

What are the Contexts in the idiom search feature?
Think of contexts as “Speech Contexts”. Speech Contexts are the social settings in which the idiom is most likely to be used. Our database assigns Speech Contexts to idioms by either the social setting suggested by the sample usages, or by the very nature of the idiom. If you are looking for idioms that are common in business settings, for example, you can filter by the Business Context.

The speech context of the office, job interviews, negotiations, and corporate email.
The speech context of school, college, and university.
The speech context dealing with human emotions (e.g., anger, joy, love, etc…).
The speech context where a historical event is referenced.
The speech context of the court of law.
Law Enforcement
The speech context of police work and crime.
The speech context of political life and elections.
Popular Culture
The speech context of pop culture, music, television, radio, and the internet.
The speech context of personal relationships.
Social Life
The speech context of peer groups, youth, friends, going out, hanging out, night life, and partying. This is also the default catch-all context when all other contexts don’t capture the idiom correctly.
The speech context of athletics and sports competitions.
The speech context of idioms with references to technology.

What are the Categories in the idiom search feature?
Categories are “Linguistic Categories”. If you are researching euphemisms in American English, for example, you can search for all the idioms that are euphemisms by setting the Category filter to “Euphemism”.

The idioms categorized as abbreviations (e.g, “Dept.” for Department).

The idioms categorized as acronyms (e.g., “ASAP” for As Soon As Possible).

Double Negative
Any idiom used as a double negative (e.g., I ain’t gonna give you nothing).

Any idiom that serves to reduce emotive force (e.g., “at rest” for death).

This is a default catch-all category when all other categories don’t quite classify the idiom correctly.

Indian English
Any Indian English idiom, word, or expression. Indians can benefit by seeing American counterpart idioms. Everyone can benefit by becoming familiar with Indian English idioms they will come across when working with India (e.g., “cooling glass”).

A single word that is important to know or that carries idiomatic meaning (e.g., “rollback”).

Loan Word
A word borrowed from a foreign language and adopted into English (e.g., “carte blanche”).

Idioms that are characterized by the comparison of ideas or objects (e.g.,the usage of “deep pockets” to describe that someone has a lot of money).

Rhetorical Question
A question that does not require an answer. A question used to make a statement or be sarcastic (e.g., “Are you out of your mind?”).

Any idiom used sarcastically (e.g., “Did you fall off the face of the earth?”).

Idioms that refer to bodily excrement. Obscene idioms dealing with sex and the body (e.g., “woody”).

Idioms found in very informal speech. These idioms are considered inappropriate by some. To be safe, you generally can avoid these idioms at the office or university, but you will hear them quite frequently (e.g., “brown nose”).

Idioms found in the common, spoken langauge. Colloquial langauge (e.g., “butterflies in your stomach”).

How does “Browse by Letter” work on the idiom search page?
You can browse the idiom database by the idiom’s starting letter. Click on your target letter and the results will appear. Idioms that start with frequent words (e.g., “a”, “the”, “to”, etc…), are browsable under mutiple letters. For example, “a sitting duck” can be browsed from “A” or from “S”.

I can’t find the idiom I’m looking for, what do I do?
Email us the idiom at email address with the subject line : “Idiom Suggestion”. Our content staff will review and consider the idiom for inclusion into the site.
I can’t view your site correctly with Microsoft Internet Explorer, what do I do?
Here are some known issues you may encounter when using IE and
Progress bar always looks like it is loading the page
When web page content is dynamically updated, sometimes Internet Explorer (IE) incorrectly indicates with its green “Progress Bar” that the page still loading. You can ignore the Progress Bar status after viewing a loaded web page on our site. We have verified that the page has finished loading and the Progress Bar is just a presentation issue with IE.
[…] “a page that uses JavaScript functions to retrieve page data, the progress bar in Internet Explorer may not always be accurate. In some instances, the progress bar may appear to indicate that loading of the document has finished when it is still in progress. In other instances it may indicate that loading of the document is still in progress when it is actually complete” […]
[…] “When you dynamically add an object that contains an attached behavior to a Web page, and the behavior must be downloaded, the progress bar in Microsoft Internet Explorer continues to increase. The progress bar continues to show progress even after the behavior is downloaded, and the page is rendered. However, the attached behavior works correctly without any unexpected problems” […]

The following errors can also be resolved by adding both and http://* to your list of “Trusted Sites” under Internet Explorer: Tools->Internet Options->Security.

I can’t login with the “Sign In” link
All the Google Friend Connect gadgets are missing
Errors on the page icon in the lower left corner of IE IE Error Icon
back to top

I can’t view the videos on your site, what do I do?
Visit Adobe and download “Flash Player” for your browser.
back to top

How do I contact
Email email address. For reporting technical issues, please include your browser type and version with your correspondence.
back to top

Who is
In January 2010, was released to the public with the goal of providing a searchable, American English idiom database. The site gives special emphasis to phrases and idioms encountered in the work place, academia, and popular culture.

The site does not pretend to teach English…one learns to speak English by speaking English. What we have tried to do is provide advanced learners of English a user-friendly resource to supplement their English learning interests at the office and university.

What’s next?
Multi-media content: Our next release will contain a variety of audio and video language content.
Idiom Finder: We are developing a solution to identify idioms in free-form text. This will allow users to upload documents and submit URLs to and have the site identify idiomatic content in bulk.