idioms starting with n

93+ Idioms Starting with N | List with Meaning

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 N.

Idioms Starting with N

1. Nail in the coffin

Meaning: A nail in someone or something’s coffin is a problem or event that is a clear step towards an inevitable failure.

2. Nail-biter

Meaning: If a game, election, contest, etc, is a nail-biter, it is exciting because the competitors are so close that it is impossible to predict the result.

3. Nature abhors a vacuum

Meaning: This idiom is used to express the idea that empty or unfilled spaces are unnatural as they go against the laws of nature and physics.

4. Nature of the beast

Meaning: The basic characteristics of something is the nature of the beast; often used when there’s an aspect of something that cannot be changed or that is unpleasant or difficult.

5. Neck and neck

Meaning: If two competitors or candidates, etc, are neck and neck, then they are very close and neither is clearly winning.

6. Neck of the woods

Meaning: If someone talks about their neck of the woods, they mean the area where they live.

7. Need no introduction

Meaning: Someone who is very famous and known to everyone needs no introduction.

8. Needle in a haystack

Meaning: If trying to find something is like looking for a needle in a haystack, it means that it is very difficult, if not impossible to find among everything around it.

9. Neither fish nor fowl

Meaning: Something or someone that is neither fish nor fowl doesn’t really fit into any one group.

10. Neither here nor there

Meaning: If something is neither here nor there, it is of very little importance.

11. Neither use nor ornament

Meaning: Something that serves no purpose and is not aesthetically pleasing is neither use nor ornament.

12. Nerves of steel

Meaning: If someone has nerves of steel, they don’t get frightened when other people do.

13. Nervous Nellie

Meaning: Someone excessively worried or apprehensive is a nervous Nellie (or Nelly).

14. Nest egg

Meaning: If you have some money saved for the future, it is a nest egg.

15. Never a rose without the prick

Meaning: This means that good things always have something bad as well; like the thorns on the stem of a rose.

16. Never darken my door again

Meaning: This is a way of telling someone never to visit you again.

17. New blood

Meaning: If something needs new blood, it has become stale and needs new ideas or people to invigorate it.

18. New brush sweeps clean

Meaning: ‘A new brush sweeps clean’ means that someone with a new perspective can make great changes. However, the full version is ‘a new brush sweeps clean, but an old brush knows the corners’, which warns that experience is also a valuable thing. Sometimes ‘broom’ is used instead of ‘brush’.

19. New kid on the block

Meaning: A new kid on the block is a person who has recently joined a company, organization, team, etc, and does not know how things work yet.

20. New lease of life

Meaning: If someone finds new enthusiasm and energy for something, they have a new lease of life.

21. New man

Meaning: A New man is a man who believes in complete equality of the sexes and shares domestic work equally.

22. New sheriff in town

Meaning: This is used when a new authority figure takes charge.

23. New York minute

Meaning: If something happens in a New York minute, it happens very fast.

24. Newfangled

Meaning: People who don’t like new methods, technologies, etc, describe them as newfangled, which means new but not as good or nice as the old ones.

25. Nice as pie

Meaning: If a person is nice as pie, they are surprisingly very kind and friendly. “After our argument, she was nice as pie!”

26. Nick of time

Meaning: If you do something in the nick of time, you do it at the very last minute or second.

27. Nickel tour

Meaning: If someone gives you a nickel tour, they show you around a place. (‘Fifty-cent tour’ is also used.)

28. Night owl

Meaning: A night owl is someone who goes to bed very late.

29. Ninth circle of hell

Meaning: In Dante’s Inferno, the ninth circle of hell is the centre where the worst punishments are found, so it is used idiomatically for something that couldn’t get worse.

30. Nip and tuck

Meaning: A close contest where neither opponent seems to be gaining the advantage.

31. Nip at the bit

Meaning: If someone is nipping at the bit, they are anxious to get something done and don’t want to wait.

32. Nip it in the bud

Meaning: If you nip something in the bud, you deal with a problem when it is still small, before it can grow into something serious.

33. Nitty gritty

Meaning: If people get down to the nitty gritty, they concentrate on the most important and serious issues.

34. No bed of roses

Meaning: If something isn’t a bed of roses, it is difficult.

35. No can do

Meaning: No can do means that the speaker can’t do whatever it is that has been asked of him or her.

36. No go

Meaning: Something that will not work. ‘A square peg in a round hole is a no go.’

37. No good deed goes unpunished

Meaning: This means that life is unfair and people can do or try to do good things and still end up in a lot of trouble.

38. No great shakes

Meaning: If someone is no great shakes at something, they are not very good at it.

39. No harm, no foul

Meaning: There’s no problem when no harm or damage is done, such as the time my sister-in-law stole the name we’d chosen for a boy and we both ended up having girls.

40. No holds barred

Meaning: If there are no holds barred, there are no rules of conduct; you can do anything.

41. No ifs or buts

Meaning: Ifs and Buts is a term used to describe the reasons people give for not wanting to do something. To show that you don’t wish to accept any excuses, you can tell somebody that you wish to hear no ifs or buts Here IF & BUT have become nouns.

42. No laughing matter

Meaning: Something that is no laughing matter is very serious.

43. No love lost

Meaning: If there is no love lost between two people they have a strong enmity towards or hate for the other and make no effort to conceal it.

44. No pain, no gain

Meaning: Achievements require some sort of sacrifice.

45. No quarter

Meaning: This means without mercy. We can say no quarter given or asked.

46. No question

Meaning: This idiom means that something is certain or definite.

47. No questions asked

Meaning: If something is to be done and no questions asked, then it doesn’t matter what methods are used or what rules are broken to ensure that it gets done.

48. No skin off my nose

Meaning: If something’s no skin off your nose, it doesn’t affect or bother you at all.

49. No smoke without fire

Meaning: This idiom means that when people suspect something, there is normally a good reason for the suspicion, even if there is no concrete evidence. (‘Where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire’ is also used.)

50. No spine

Meaning: If someone has no spine, they lack courage or are cowardly.

51. No spring chicken

Meaning: If someone is no spring chicken, they are not young.

52. No strings attached

Meaning: If something has no strings attached, there are no obligations or requirements involved.

53. No time for

Meaning: If you have no time for an activity, you have absolutely no desire to spend or waste any time doing it. You can have no time for people, too.

54. No time like the present

Meaning: If people say that there’s no time like the present , they believe that it is far better to do something now than to leave it for later, in which case it might never get done.

55. No time to lose

Meaning: If there’s no time to lose, then it’s time to get started otherwise it won’t be finished on time.

56. No two ways about it

Meaning: If there are no two ways about something, there is no other possible interpretation.

57. No use to man or beast

Meaning: If something or someone is no use to man or beast, they it or they are utterly useless.

58. Nod’s as good as a wink

Meaning: ‘A nod’s as good as a wink’ is a way of saying you have understood something that someone has said, even though it was not said directly. The full phrase (sometimes used in the UK ) is ‘a nod’s as good as a wink to a blind horse’.

59. Noddy work

Meaning: Unimportant or very simple tasks are noddy work.

60. None so blind as those who will not see

Meaning: This idiom is used when people refuse to accept facts presented to them. (‘None so deaf as those who will not hear’ is an alternative.)

61. Nose in the air

Meaning: If someone has their nose in the air, they behave in a way that is meant to show that they are superior to others.

62. Nosy parker

Meaning: A nosy parker is someone who is excessively interested in other people’s lives. (‘Nosey parker’ is an alternative spelling.)

63. Not a snowball’s chance in hell

Meaning: There is absolutely no possibility of something happening if there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell.

64. Not all there

Meaning: If someone isn’t all there, they are a little bit stupid or crazy.

65. Not bat an eye

Meaning: If someone doesn’t bat an eye, they do not react when other people normally would.

66. Not born yesterday

Meaning: When someone says that they weren’t born yesterday, they mean that they are not naive or easily fooled.

67. Not cricket

Meaning: If something is not cricket, it is unfair.

68. Not enough room to swing a cat

Meaning: If a room is very small, you can say that there isn’t enough room to swing a cat in it.

69. Not give a fig

Meaning: If you don’t give a fig about something, you don’t care about it at all, especially used to express how little one cares about another’s opinions or actions.

70. Not give a monkey’s

Meaning: If you couldn’t give a monkey’s about something, you don’t care at all about it.

71. Not have the heart

Meaning: If you don’t have the heart to do something, you don’t have the strength or courage to do something. (Usually used in the negative)

72. Not have two pennies to rub together

Meaning: If someone hasn’t got two pennies to rub together, they are very poor indeed.

73. Not hurt a fly

Meaning: Somebody who would not hurt a fly is not aggressive.

74. Not know beans about

Meaning: If someone doesn’t know beans about something, they know nothing about it.

75. Not know you are born

Meaning: This indicates that the person described is unaware of his or her good fortune or is unaware of how difficult day to day life was before he/she was born.Typical usage: ‘Kids today don’t know they are born’.

76. Not much cop

Meaning: Describing a film or something as not much cop is a way of saying that you didn’t think much of it.

77. Not my cup of tea

Meaning: If something is not your cup of tea, you don’t like it very much.

78. Not on my watch

Meaning: Someone distancing themselves from a situation could say that it is not on their watch.

79. Not our bag

Meaning: If something is not your bag, it is not really suitable for your needs or you don’t like it much.

80. Not the only pebble on the beach

Meaning: If something is not the only pebble on the beach, there are other possibilities or alternatives.

81. Not to be sneezed at

Meaning: If something is not to be sneezed at, it should be taken seriously.

82. Not wash

Meaning: If a story or explanation will not wash, it is not credible.

83. Not worth a red cent

Meaning: If something is not worth a red cent, it has no value.

84. Not worth a tinker’s dam

Meaning: This means that something is worthless and dates back to when someone would travel around the countryside repairing things such as a kitchen pot with a hole in it. He was called a ‘tinker’. His dam was used to stop the flow of soldering material being used to close the hole. Of course his ‘trade’ is passé, thus his dam is worth nothing.

85. Notch on your belt

Meaning: A success or achievement that might help you in the future is a notch on your belt.

86. Nothing to crow about

Meaning: If something’s nothing to crow about, it’s not particularly good or special.

87. Nothing to write home about

Meaning: Something that is not special or good is nothing to write home about.

88. Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Meaning: You can’t win if you don’t join in the game; if you don’t participate in something, you will not achieve anything.

89. Now and then

Meaning: This idiom means ‘occasionally’.

90. Null and void

Meaning: If something’s null and void, it is invalid or is no longer applicable.

91. Number cruncher

Meaning: A number cruncher is an accountant or someone who is very good at dealing with numbers and calculations.

92. Nuts and bolts

Meaning: The nuts and bolts are the most essential components of something.

93. Nutty as a fruitcake

Meaning: Someone who’s nutty as a fruitcake is irrational or crazy. (This can be shortened to ‘a fruitcake’.)

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