An idiom is a phrase or expression that typically presents a figurative, non-literal meaning attached to the phrase; but some phrases become figurative idioms while retaining the literal meaning of the phrase.
Here are the list of idioms starting with D.
Idioms Starting with D
1. Daft as a brush
Meaning: Someone who is daft as a brush is rather stupid.
2. Damp squib
Meaning: If something is expected to have a great effect or impact but doesn’t, it is a damp squib.
3. Dancing on someone’s grave
Meaning: If you will dance on someone’s grave, you will outlive or outlast them and will celebrate their demise.
4. Dark horse
Meaning: If someone is a dark horse, they are a bit of a mystery.
5. Davey Jones’ locker
Meaning: Davey Jones’ locker is the bottom of the sea or resting place of drowned sailors.(‘Davy Jones’ locker’ is an alternative spelling.)
6. Day in the sun
Meaning: If you have your day in the sun, you get attention and are appreciated.
7. Daylight robbery
Meaning: If you are overcharged or underpaid, it is a daylight robbery; open, unfair and hard to prevent. Rip-off has a similar meaning.
8 Days are numbered
Meaning: When someone’s days are numbered, they are expected to die soon.
9. Dead air
Meaning: When there is a period of total silence, there is dead air.
10. Dead and buried
Meaning: If something is dead and buried, it has all long been settled and is not going to be reconsidered.
11. Dead as a dodo
Meaning: If something’s dead as a dodo, it is lifeless and dull. The dodo was a bird that lived the island of Mauritius. It couldn’t fly and was hunted to extinction.
12. Dead as a doornail
Meaning: This is used to indicate that something is lifeless.
13. Dead duck
Meaning: If something is a dead duck, it is a failure.
14. Dead even
Meaning: If people competing are dead even, they are at exactly the same stage or moving at exactly the same speed.
15. Dead from the neck up
Meaning: Someone who’s dead from the neck up is very stupid indeed.
16. Dead heat
Meaning: If a race ends in a dead heat, two or more finish with exactly the same result.
17. Dead in the water
Meaning: If something is dead in the water, it isn’t going anywhere or making any progress.
18. Dead level best
Meaning: If you try your dead level best, you try as hard as you possibly could to do something.
19. Dead man walking
Meaning: A dead man walking is someone who is in great trouble and will certainly get punished, lose their job or position, etc, soon.
10. Dead meat
Meaning: This is used as a way of threatening someone: You’ll be dead meat if you don’t go along.
11. Dead men’s shoes
Meaning: If promotion or success requires replacing somebody, then it can only be reached by dead men’s shoes’ by getting rid of them.
12. Dead right
Meaning: This means that something or someone is absolutely correct, without doubt.
13. Dead to the world
Meaning: If somebody’s fast asleep and completely unaware of what if happening around them, he or she’s dead to the world.
14. Dead wrong
Meaning: If someone is dead wrong, they are absolutely in error, absolutely incorrect or of incorrect opinion.
15. Deaf as a post
Meaning: Someone who is as deaf as a post is unable to hear at all.
16. Dear John letter
Meaning: A letter written by a partner explaining why they are ending the relationship is a Dear John letter.
17. Death of a thousand cuts
Meaning: If something is suffering the death of a thousand cuts, or death by a thousand cuts, lots of small bad things are happening, none of which are fatal in themselves, but which add up to a slow and painful demise.
18. Death warmed up
Meaning: If someone looks like death warmed up, they look very ill indeed. (‘death warmed over’ is the American form)
19. Decorate the mahogany
Meaning: When someone buys a round a pub or bar, they decorate the mahogany; putting cash on the bar.
20. Deep pockets
Meaning: If someone has deep pockets, they are wealthy.
21. Deep pockets but short arms
Meaning: Someone who has money but never puts his hand in his pocket to pay for anything has deep pockets but short arms.
22. Deer in the headlights
Meaning: When one is caught offguard and needs to make a decision, but cannot react quickly.
23. Deliver the goods
Meaning: Do what is required, come up to expectations. For example, Kate delivered the goods and got us the five votes we needed. This phrase alludes to delivering an order of groceries or other items. [Colloquial; second half of 1800s]
24. Demon weed
Meaning: Tobacco is the demon weed.
Meaning: If a person shows derring-do, they show great courage.
26. Devil finds work for idle hands
Meaning: When people say that the devil finds work for idle hands, they mean that if people don’t have anything to do with their time, they are more likely to get involved in trouble and criminality.
27. Devil is in the detail
Meaning: When people say that the devil in the detail, they mean that small things in plans and schemes that are often overlooked can cause serious problems later on.
28. Devil may care
Meaning: If you live a devil-may-care life it means you are willing to take more risks than most people.
29. Devil’s advocate
Meaning: If someone plays Devil’s advocate in an argument, they adopt a position they don’t believe in just for the sake of the argument.
30. Diamond in the rough
Meaning: A diamond in the rough is someone or something that has great potential, but isn’t not refined and polished.
31. Die is cast
Meaning: If the die is cast, a decision has been made that cannot be altered and fate will decide the consequences.
32. Different kettle of fish
Meaning: If something is a different kettle of fish, it is very different from the other things referenced.
33. Different ropes for different folks
Meaning: This idiom means that different people do things in different ways that suit them.
34. Different strokes for different folks
Meaning: This idiom means that different people do things in different ways that suit them.
35. Dig way down deep
Meaning: When someone digs way down deep, they look into their inner feelings to see how they feel about it.
36. Dig your heels in
Meaning: If you dig your heels in, you start to resist something.
37. Dime a dozen
Meaning: If something is a dime a dozen, it is extremely common, possibly too common.
38. Dine on ashes
Meaning: I someone is dining on ashes he or she is excessively focusing attention on failures or regrets for past actions.
Meaning: A dinosaur is a person who is thought to be too old for their position.
40. Dip your toes in the water
Meaning: If you dip your toes in the water, you try something tentatively because you are not sure whether it will work or not.
41. Dirty dog
Meaning: A dirty dog is an untrustworthy person.
42. Discerning eye
Meaning: If a person has a discerning eye, they are particularly good at judging the quality of something.
43. Discretion is the better part of valour
Meaning: This idiom means that it is often better to think carefully and not act than to do something that may cause problems.
44. Dish the dirt
Meaning: If you dish the dirt on something or someone, you make unpleasant or shocking information public.
45. Do a Devon Loch
Meaning: If someone does a Devon Loch, they fail when they were very close to winning. Devon Loch was a horse that collapsed just short of the winning line of the Grand National race.
46. Do a Lord Lucan
Meaning: If someone disappears without a trace or runs off, they do a Lord Lucan. (Lord Lucan disappeared after a murder)
47. Do a runner
Meaning: If people leave a restaurant without paying, they do a runner.
48. Do as you would be done by
Meaning: Treat and respect others as you would hope to be respected and treated by them.
49. Do the needful
Meaning: If you do the needful, you do what is necessary.
50. Do the running
Meaning: The person who has to do the running has to make sure that things get done. (‘Make the running’ is also used.)
51. Do their dirty work
Meaning: Someone who does someone’s dirty work, carries out the unpleasant jobs that the first person doesn’t want to do. Someone who seems to enjoy doing this is sometimes known as a ‘henchman’.
52. Do’s and don’t’s
Meaning: The do’s and don’t’s are what is acceptable or allowed or not within an area or issue, etc.
53. Dodge the bullet
Meaning: If someone has dodged a bullet, they have successfully avoided a very serious problem.
54. Dog and pony show
Meaning: A dog and pony show is a presentation or some marketing that has lots of style, but no real content.
55. Dog days
Meaning: Dog days are very hot summer days.
56. Dog eat dog
Meaning: In a dog eat dog world, there is intense competition and rivalry, where everybody thinks only of himself or herself.
57. Dog in the manger
Meaning: If someone acts like a dog in the manger, they don’t want other people to have or enjoy things that are useless to them.
58. Dog tired
Meaning: If you are dog tired, you are exhausted.
59. Dog’s dinner
Meaning: Something that is a dog’s dinner is a real mess.
60. Dog’s life
Meaning: If some has a dog’s life, they have a very unfortunate and wretched life.
Meaning: If a book is dog-eared, it is in bad condition, with torn pages, etc.
62. Dog-whistle politics
Meaning: When political parties have policies that will appeal to racists while not being overtly racist, they are indulging in dog-whistle politics.
63. Doggy bag
Meaning: If you ask for a doggy bag in a restaurant, they will pack the food you haven’t eaten for you to take home.
Meaning: If a person is in the doldrums, they are depressed. If a project or something similar is in the doldrums, it isn’t making any progress.
65. Dollars for doughnuts
Meaning: If something is dollars for doughnuts, it is a sure bet or certainty.
66. Don’t bite the hand that feeds
Meaning: When someone says this to you, they are trying to tell you not to act against those on whom you depend.
67. Don’t catch your chickens before they’re hatched
Meaning: This means that you should wait until you know whether something has produced the results you desire, rather than acting beforehand. (‘Don’t count your chickens until they’ve hatched’ is an alternative.)
68. Don’t cry over spilt milk
Meaning: When something bad happens and nothing can be done to help it people say, ‘Don’t cry over spilt milk’.
69. Don’t give up the day job
Meaning: This idiom is used a way of telling something that they do something badly.
70. Don’t hold your breath
Meaning: If you are told not to hold your breath, it means that you shouldn’t have high expectations about something.
71. Don’t judge a book by the cover
Meaning: This idiom means that you should not judge something or someone by appearances, but should look deeper at what is inside and more important.
72. Don’t know whether to wind a watch or bark at the moon
Meaning: If you don’t know what to do, you don’t know whether to wind a watch or bark at the moon.
73. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
Meaning: This means that if you are given something, a present or a chance, you should not waste it by being too critical or examining it too closely.
74. Don’t mention the war
Meaning: This means that you shouldn’t speak about things that could cause an argument or tension.This idiom was used in a classic episode of the much-loved British comedy series Fawlty Towers. As a consequence if you use this phrase in Britain, listeners will understand you to be referring to Germans, or just start laughing.
75. Don’t push my buttons!
Meaning: This can be said to someone who is starting to annoy you.
76. Don’t shoot the messenger
Meaning: This phrase can be used when breaking some bad news to someone and you don’t want to be blamed for the news. (‘Don’t kill the messenger’ is also used.)
77. Don’t stand there with curlers in your hair
Meaning: This means ‘don’t keep me waiting’. It’s said to someone who is taking too long to get moving.
78. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Meaning: This is used to tell people not to worry about trivial or unimportant issues.
79. Don’t take any wooden nickels
Meaning: This idiom is used to advise people not to be cheated or ripped off.
80. Don’t throw bricks when you live in a glass house
Meaning: Don’t call others out on actions that you, yourself do. Don’t be a hypocrite.
81. Don’t trouble trouble until trouble troubles you
Meaning: Don’t go looking for trouble or problems- let them come to you.
82. Don’t upset the applecart
Meaning: If you are advised not to upset the applecart, you are being told not to disturb the way things are done because it might ruin things.
83. Don’t wash your dirty laundry in public
Meaning: People, especially couples, who argue in front of others or involve othersin their personal problems and crises, are said to be washing their dirty laundry in public; making public things that are best left private. (In American English,
‘don’t air your dirty laundry in public’ is used.)
84. Done to death
Meaning: If a joke or story has been done to death, it has been told so often that it has stopped being funny.
85. Donkey work
Meaning: Donkey work is any hard, boring work or task.
86. Donkey’s years
Meaning: This idiom means ‘a very long time’.
Meaning: A person who doesn’t stand up for themselves and gets treated badly is a doormat.
88. Dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s
Meaning: If you dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s, you do something very carefully and thoroughly.
89. Double Dutch
Meaning: If something is double Dutch, it is completely incomprehensible.
90. Double take
Meaning: If someone does a double take, they react very slowly to something to show how shocked or surprised they are.
91. Double whammy
Meaning: A double whammy is when something causes two problems at the same time, or when two setbacks occur at the same time.
92. Double-edged sword
Meaning: If someone uses an argument that could both help them and harm them, then they are using a double-edged sword sword; it cuts both ways.
93. Doubting Thomas
Meaning: A Doubting Thomas is someone who only believes what they see themselves, not what they are told.
94. Down and out
Meaning: If someone is down and out, they are desperately poor and need help.
95. Down at heel
Meaning: Someone who is down at heel is short of money. (‘Down in heel’ is used in American English)
96. Down for the count
Meaning: If someone is down for the count, they have lost a struggle, like a boxer who has been knocked out.
97. Down in the doldrums
Meaning: If somebody’s down in the doldrums, they are depressed and lacking energy.
98. Down in the dumps
Meaning: If someone’s down in the dumps, they are depressed.
100. Down in the mouth
Meaning: If someone is down in the mouth, they look unhappy or depressed.
101. Down the drain
Meaning: If something goes down the drain, especially money or work, it is wasted or produces no results.
102. Down the hatch
Meaning: This idiom can be said before drinking alcohol in company.
103. Down the pan
Meaning: If something has gone down the pan, it has failed or been ruined.
104. Down the tubes
Meaning: If something has gone down the tubes, it has failed or been ruined.
105. Down to the wire
Meaning: If something goes down to the wire, like a competition, then it goes to the very last moment before it is clear who has won.
Meaning: Someone who’s down-to-earth is practical and realistic. It can also be used for things like ideas.
107. Drag your feet
Meaning: If someone is dragging their feet, they are taking too long to do or finish something, usually because they don’t want to do it.
108. Drag your heels
Meaning: If you drag your heels, you either delay doing something or do it as slowly as possible because you don’t want to do it.
109. Draw a blank
Meaning: If you try to find something out and draw a blank, you don’t get any useful information.
110. Draw a line in the sand
Meaning: If you draw a line in the sand, you establish a limit beyond which things will be unacceptable.
111. Draw a long bow
Meaning: If someone draws a long bow, they lie or exaggerate.
112. Draw the line
Meaning: When you draw the line, you set out limits of what you find acceptable, beyond which you will not go.
113. Draw the shortest straw
Meaning: If someone draws the shortest straw, they lose or are chosen to do something unpleasant.
114. Dress someone down
Meaning: If you dress someone down, you scold them.
115. Dress to kill
Meaning: When someone is dressed to kill, they are dressed very smartly.
116. Dressed to the nines
Meaning: If you are in your very best clothes, you’re dressed to the nines.
117. Drink like a fish
Meaning: If someone drinks like a fish, they drink far too much alcohol.
118. Drive a wedge
Meaning: If you drive a wedge between people, you exploit an issue so that people start to disagree.
119. Drive home
Meaning: The idiomatic expression ‘drive home’ means ‘reinforce’ as in ‘The company offered unlimited technical support as a way to drive home the message that customer satisfaction was its highest priority.’
120. Drive someone up the wall
Meaning: If something or someone drives you up the wall, they do something that irritates you greatly.
121. Drive you spare
Meaning: If someone or something drives you spare, it is extremely annoying.
122. Driven by a motor
Meaning: This is used to describe people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder when they talk excessively: ‘they act as if driven by a motor.’
123. Drop a bombshell
Meaning: If someone drops a bombshell, they announce something that changes a situation drastically and unexpectedly.
124. Drop a dime
Meaning: If you tell someone to drop a dime, you’re suggesting he or she telephone you at some future time.
125. Drop in the bucket
Meaning: A drop in the bucket is something so small that it won’t make any noticeable difference.
126. Drop in the ocean
Meaning: A drop in the ocean implies that something will have little effect because it is small and mostly insignificant.
127. Drop into your lap
Meaning: If something drops into your lap, you receive it suddenly, without any warning. (‘Fall into your lap’ is also used.)
128. Drop like flies
Meaning: This means that something is disappearing very quickly. For example, if you said people were dropping like flies, it would mean that they were dying off, quitting or giving up something rapidly.
129. Drop someone a line
Meaning: If you drop someone a line, you send a letter to them.
130. Drop the ball
Meaning: If someone drops the ball, they are not doing their job or taking their responsibilities seriously enough and let something go wrong.
131. Dropped like a hot cake
Meaning: If something is dropped like a hot cake, it is rejected or disposed of very quickly.
132. Drown your sorrows
Meaning: If someone gets drunk or drinks a lot to try to stop feeling unhappy, they drown their sorrows.
134. Drunk as a lord
Meaning: Someone who is very drunk is as drunk as a lord.
135. Drunker than a peach orchard boar
Meaning: Southern US expression – Very drunk, as when a boar would eat fermented peaches that have fallen from the tree.
136. Dry as a bone
Meaning: If your lawn is as dry as a bone, the soil is completely dry.
137. Dry as snuff
Meaning: If something is as dry as snuff, it is very dry indeed.
138. Dry run
Meaning: A dry run is a full rehearsal or trial exercise of something to see how it will work before it is launched.
139. Dry spell
Meaning: If something or someone is having a dry spell, they aren’t being as successful as they normally are.
140. Duck soup
Meaning: If something is duck soup, it is very easy.
141. Duck to water
Meaning: If you take to something like a duck to water, you find when you start that you have a natural affinity for it.
142. Ducks in a row
Meaning: If you have your ducks in a row, you are well-organized.
143. Dull as ditchwater
Meaning: If something is as dull as ditchwater, it is incredibly boring. A ditch is a long narrow hole or trench dug to contain water, which is normally a dark, dirty colour and stagnant (when water turns a funny colour and starts to smell bad). (In American English,’things are ‘dull as dishwater’.)
144. Dumb as a rock
Meaning: If you are dumb as a rock, you have no common sense and are stupid.
145. Dunkirk spirit
Meaning: Dunkirk spirit is when people pull together to get through a very difficult time.
146. Dutch auction
Meaning: If something is sold by setting a price, then reducing it until someone buys it, it is sold in a Dutch auction. It can also mean that something is changed until it is accepted by everyone.
147. Dutch courage
Meaning: Dutch courage is the reckless bravery caused by drinking too much.
148. Dutch treat
Meaning: If something like a meal is a Dutch treat, then each person pays their own share of the bill.
149. Dutch uncle
Meaning: A Dutch uncle is a person who gives unwelcome advice.
150. Dutch wife
Meaning: A Dutch wife is a long pillow or a hot water bottle.
151. Dwell on the past
Meaning: Thinking too much about the past, so that it becomes a problem is to dwell on the past.
Meaning: If someone is a dyed-in-the-wool supporter of a political party, etc, they support them totally, without any questions.
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