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 W.
Idioms Starting with W
1. Wag the dog
Meaning: To ‘wag the dog’ means to purposely divert attention from what would otherwise be of greater importance, to something else of lesser significance.
By doing so, the lesser-significant event is catapulted into the limelight, drowning proper attention to what was originally the more important issue.The expression comes from the saying that ‘a dog is smarter than its tail’, but if the tail were smarter, then the tail would ‘wag the dog’.
The expression ‘wag the dog’ was elaborately used as theme of the movie. ‘Wag the Dog’, a 1997 film starring Robert de Niro and Dustin Hoffman, produced and directed by Barry Levinson.
2. Wait for a raindrop in the drought
Meaning: When someone is waiting for a raindrop in the drought, they are waiting or hoping for something that is extremely unlikely to happen.
3. Waiting in the wings
Meaning: If someone is waiting in the wings, or in the wings, they are in the background, but nearby, ready to act on short notice.
4. Wake up and smell the coffee
Meaning: When someone doesn’t realize what is really happening or is not paying enough attention to events around them, you can tell them to wake up and smell the coffee.
5. Wake-up call
Meaning: A wake-up call is a warning of a threat or a challenge, especially when it means that people will have to change their behavior to meet it.
6. Walk a fine line
Meaning: If you have to walk a fine line, you have to be very careful not to annoy or anger people or groups that are competing. (‘Walk a thin line’ is an alternative.)
7. Walk a mile in my shoes
Meaning: This idiom means that you should try to understand someone before criticizing them.
8. Walk a tightrope
Meaning: If you walk a tightrope, you have to be very careful not to annoy or anger people who could become enemies.
9. Walk in the park
Meaning: An undertaking that is easy is a walk in the park. The opposite is also true – “no walk in the park”.
10. Walk on eggshells
Meaning: If you have to walk on eggshells when with someone, you have to be very careful because they get angry or offended very easily.(‘Walk on eggs’ is also used.)
11. Walk the green mile
Meaning: Someone or something that is walking the green mile is heading towards the inevitable.
12. Walk the plank
Meaning: If someone walks the plank, they are going toward their own destruction or downfall
13. Walking encyclopedia
Meaning: A very knowledgeable person is a walking encyclopedia.
14. Walking on air
Meaning: If you are walking on air, you are so happy that you feel as if you could float.
15. Walking on broken glass
Meaning: When a person is punished for something. e.g. ‘She had me walking on broken glass.’
16. Walking time-bomb
Meaning: A person whose behavior is erratic and totally unpredictable is a walking time-bomb.
Meaning: A woman politician given an unimportant government position so that the government can pretend it takes women seriously is a wallflower.
18. War chest
Meaning: A war chest is a fund that can be used to finance a campaign like and election or for use in emergencies or unexpected times of difficulty.
19. War of words
Meaning: A war of words is a bitter argument between people or organizations, etc.
20. Warm and fuzzy
Meaning: Meaning the feeling evoked as though you were enclosed in a warm and fuzzy blanket.
21. Warm the cockles of your heart
Meaning: If something warms the cockles of your heart, it makes you feel happy.
Meaning: If someone is on the warpath, they are very angry about something and will do anything to get things sorted the way they want.
23. Warts and all
Meaning: If you like someone warts and all, you like them with all their faults.
24. Wash your hands of something
Meaning: If you wash your hands of something, you disassociate yourself and accept no responsibility for what will happen.
25. Waste not, want not
Meaning: If you don’t waste things, you are less likely to end up lacking.
26. Waste of skin
Meaning: If a person is referred to as a ‘waste of skin’, it means he is not worth very much.
27. Watch grass grow
Meaning: If something is like watching grass grow, it is really boring.
28. Watch your six
Meaning: This idiom means that you should look behind you for dangers coming that you can’t see.
29. Watching paint dry
Meaning: If something is like watching paint dry, it is really boring.
30. Water off a duck’s back
Meaning: If criticism or something similar is like water off a duck’s back to somebody, they aren’t affected by it in the slightest.
31. Water over the dam
Meaning: If something has happened and cannot be changed, it is water over the dam.
32. Water under the bridge
Meaning: If something belongs to the past and isn’t important or troubling any more, it is water under the bridge.
33. Watering hole
Meaning: A watering hole is a pub.
34. Watery grave
Meaning: If someone has gone to a watery grave, they have drowned.
35. Weak at the knees
Meaning: If people go weak at the knees, they have a powerful emotional reaction to something and feel that they might fall over.
36. Wear sackcloth and ashes
Meaning: If someone displays their grief or contrition publicly, they wear sackcloth and ashes.
37. Wear your heart on your sleeve
Meaning: Someone who wears their heart on their sleeve shows their emotions and feelings publicly.
38. Weather a storm
Meaning: If you weather a storm, you get through a crisis or hard times.
39. Wedge politics
Meaning: In wedge politics, one party uses an issue that they hope will divide members of a different party to create conflict and weaken it.
40. Weight off your shoulders
Meaning: If something is a weight off your shoulders, you have relieved yourself of a burden, normally a something that has been troubling you or worrying you.
Meaning: Someone who is well-heeled is rich.
Meaning: If someone is well-oiled, they have drunk a lot.
43. Well-oiled machine
Meaning: Something that functions very well is a well-oiled machine.
44. Were you born in a barn?
Meaning: If someone asks you this, it means that you forgot to close the door when you came in.
45. Wet behind the ears
Meaning: Someone who is wet behind the ears is either very young or inexperienced.
46. Wet blanket
Meaning: A wet blanket is someone who tries to spoil other people’s fun.
47. Wet your whistle
Meaning: If you are thirsty and have an alcoholic drink, you wet your whistle. “Whet your whistle” is also used.
48. Whale of a time
Meaning: If you have a whale of a time, you really enjoy yourself.
49. What can sorry do?
Meaning: This means that it is not enough to apologies.
50. What can you expect from a hog but a grunt?
Meaning: This means that you can’t expect people to behave in a way that is not in their character- a ‘hog’ is a ‘pig’, so an unrefined person can’t be expected to behave in a refined way.
51. What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?
Meaning: This idiom is often used when someone says something irrelevant to the topic being discussed.
52. What goes around comes around
Meaning: This saying means that of people do bad things to other people, bad things will happen to them.
53. What goes around, comes around
Meaning: The good or bad you do to others is requited.
54. What will be will be
Meaning: The expression what will be will be is used to describe the notion that fate will decide the outcome of a course of events, even if action is taken to try to alter it.
55. What’s cooking?
Meaning: When you ask what’s cooking it means you want to know what’s happening.
56. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander
Meaning: This idiom means that the sexes should be treated the same way and not be subjected to different standards.
57. What’s up?
Meaning: This can be used to ask ‘What’s wrong?’ or ‘How are you?’.
58. What’s your poison?
Meaning: This is a way of asking someone what they would like to drink, especially alcohol.
59. What’s your take on that?
Meaning: This idiom is way of asking someone for their opinion and ideas.
60. Whatever floats your boat
Meaning: When people say this, they mean that you should do whatever makes you happy.
61. Wheels fall off
Meaning: When the wheels fall off something, it goes wrong or fails. (‘Wheels come off’ is an alternative.)
62. When hell freezes over
Meaning: An impossible or very unlikely situation or event
63. When in Rome, do as the Romans do
Meaning: This idiom means that when you are visiting a different place or culture, you should try to follow their customs and practices.
64. When it rains, it pours
Meaning: This idiom means that when things go wrong, a lot of things go wrong at the same time.
65. When pigs fly
Meaning: Meaning you will not get something when you want it or someone doesn’t want something for you. say you are selling an item and some one doesn’t want it. they might say ‘I’ll buy it when pigs fly’. it just means you will never get someone to say yes to you when you ask for something.
66. When the chickens come home to roost
Meaning: When a person pays dearly for something bad he or she did in the past, the chickens come home to roost.
67. Where the rubber meets the road
Meaning: Where the rubber meets the road is the most important point for something, the moment of truth. An athlete can train all day, but the race is where the rubber meets the road and they’ll know how good they really are.
68. Where there’s a will, there’s a way
Meaning: This idiom means that if people really want to do something, they will manage to find a way of doing it.
69. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire
Meaning: When there is an indication or sign of something bad, usually the indication is correct.
70. Whet your appetite
Meaning: If something whets your appetite, it interests you and makes you want more of it.
71. Which came first the chicken or the egg?
Meaning: This idiomatic expression is used when it is not clear who or what caused something.
72. While the cat’s away, the mouse will play
Meaning: People whose behavior is strictly controlled go over the top when the authority is not around, which is why most teenagers have parties when their parents have gone on holiday. The parents are the scary authority figures, but the cat’s away and the kids are the mice partying and enjoying their freedom.
73. Whistle for it
Meaning: If someone says that you can whistle for something, they are determined to ensure that you don’t get it.
74. Whistle-stop tour
Meaning: A whistle-stop tour is when someone visits a number of places quickly, not stopping for long.
75. Whistling Dixie
Meaning: If someone is whistling Dixie, they talk about things in a more positive way than the reality.
76. Whistling in the dark
Meaning: If someone is whistling in the dark, they believe in a positive result, even though everybody else is sure it will not happen.
77. Whistling past the graveyard
Meaning: If someone is whistling past the graveyard, they are trying to remain cheerful in difficult circumstances. (‘Whistling past the cemetery’ is also used.)
78. White as a sheet
Meaning: A bad shock can make somebody go as white as a sheet.
79. White as snow
Meaning: If something or someone is as white as snow, they are perfect or completely uncorrupted and honest.
80. White elephant
Meaning: A white elephant is an expensive burden; something that costs far too much money to run, like the Millennium Dome in the UK.
81. White feather
Meaning: If someone shows a white feather, they are cowards.
82. White lie
Meaning: If you tell a white lie, you lie in order not to hurt someone’s feelings.
Meaning: If something is white-bread, it is very ordinary, safe and boring.
84. Who wears the pants?
Meaning: The person who wears the pants in a relationship is the dominant person who controls things.
85. Who wears the trousers?
Meaning: The person who wears the trousers in a relationship is the dominant person who controls things.
86. Who will ring the bell?
Meaning: ‘Who will ring the bell?’ asks who will assume the responsibility to help us out of a difficult situation.
87. Whole ball of wax
Meaning: The whole ball of wax is everything.
88. Whole kit and caboodle
Meaning: The whole kit and caboodle means ‘everything’ required or involved in something. (‘Kaboodle’ is an alternative spelling.)
89. Whole new ball game
Meaning: If something’s a whole new ball game, it is completely new or different.
90. Whole nine yards
Meaning: The whole nine yards means means everything that is necessary or required for something.
91. Whole shebang
Meaning: The whole shebang includes every aspect of something.
92. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free
Meaning: This idiom is usually used to refer to men who don’t want to get married, when they can get all the benefits of marriage without getting married.
93. Why keep a dog and bark yourself?
Meaning: There’s no need to do something yourself when you have somebody to do it for you, usually trivial matters.
94. Wide berth
Meaning: If you give someone a wide berth, you keep yourself well away from them because they are dangerous.
95. Wide of the mark
Meaning: If something is wide of the mark, it is inaccurate or incorrect.
96. Wild goose chase
Meaning: A wild goose chase is a waste of time- time spent trying to do something unsuccessfully.
97. Will never fly
Meaning: If an idea or project, etc, will never fly, it has no chance of succeeding.
Meaning: Something that deceives by its appearance is a will-o’-the-wisp; it looks good, but turns out to be a disappointment.
99. Win by a nose
Meaning: If somebody wins by a nose, they only just beat the others.
100. Window dressing
Meaning: If something is done to pretend to be dealing with an issue or problem, rather than actually dealing with it, it is window dressing.
101. Window to the soul
Meaning: Eyes are sometimes referred to as the window to the soul.
102. Wing and a prayer
Meaning: If you do something on a wing and a prayer, you try to do something and hope you’ll succeed even though you have very little chance of success.
103. Winner takes all
Meaning: If everything goes to the winner, as in an election, the winner takes all.
104. Wipe the floor with
Meaning: If you wipe the floor with someone, you destroy the arguments or defeat them easily.
105. Wipe the smile of someone’s face
Meaning: If you wipe the smile of someone’s face, you do something to make someone feel less pleased with themselves.
106. With a heavy hand
Meaning: If someone does something with a heavy hand, they do it in a strict way, exerting a lot of control.
107. With child
Meaning: If a woman’s with child, she’s pregnant.
108. With flying colours (colors)
Meaning: If you pass something with flying colours (colors), you pass easily, with a very high mark or grade.
109. With friends like that, who needs enemies?
Meaning: This expression is used when people behave badly or treat someone badly that they are supposed to be friends with.
110. Wither on the vine
Meaning: If something withers on the vine, it fails to get the intended result, doesn’t come to fruition.
111. Within a whisker
Meaning: If you come within a whisker of doing something, you very nearly manage to do it but don’t succeed.
112. Without a hitch
Meaning: If something happens without a hitch, nothing at all goes wrong.
113. Woe betide you
Meaning: This is used to wish that bad things will happen to someone, usually because of their bad behavior.
114. Woe is me
Meaning: This means that you are sad or in a difficult situation. It’s archaic, but still used.
115. Wolf in sheep’s clothing
Meaning: A wolf in sheep’s clothing is something dangerous that looks quite safe and innocent.
116. Wood for the trees
Meaning: If someone can’t see the wood for the trees, they get so caught up in small details that they fail to understand the bigger picture.
117. Word of mouth
Meaning: If something becomes known by word of mouth, it is because people are talking about it, not through publicity, etc.
118. Word of the law
Meaning: The word of the law means that the law is interpreted in an absolutely literal way which goes against the ideas that the lawmakers had wished to implement.
119. Words fail me
Meaning: If words fail you, you can’t find the words to express what you are trying to say.
120. Work like a charm
Meaning: If something works like a charm, it works perfectly.
121. Work like a dog
Meaning: If you work like a dog, you work very hard.
122. Work the system
Meaning: If people work the system, they exploit the state or similar setup to their advantage.
123. Work your fingers to the bone
Meaning: If you work your fingers to the bone, you work extremely hard on something.
124. Work your socks off
Meaning: If you work your socks off, you work very hard.
125. Work your tail off
Meaning: If you work your tail off, you work extremely hard.
126. World at your feet
Meaning: If everything is going well and the future looks full of opportunity, you have the world at your feet.
127. World is your oyster
Meaning: When the world is your oyster, you are getting everything you want from life.
128. Worm information
Meaning: If you worm information out of somebody, you persuade them to tell you something they wanted to keep from you.
129. Worm’s eye view
Meaning: A worm’s eye view of something is the view from below, either physically or socially.
130. Worse for wear
Meaning: If something’s worse for wear, it has been used for a long time and, consequently, isn’t in very good condition. A person who’s worse for wear is drunk or high on drugs and looking rough.
131. Worse things happen at sea
Meaning: This idiomatic expression is used as a way of telling someone not to worry so much about their problems.
132. Worth a shot
Meaning: If something is worth a shot, it is worth trying as there is some chance of success.
133. Worth your salt
Meaning: Someone who is worth their salt deserves respect.
134. Wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole
Meaning: If you wouldn’t touch something with a bargepole, you would not consider being involved under any circumstances. (In American English, people say they wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole)
135. Wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole
Meaning: If you wouldn’t touch something with a ten-foot pole, you would not consider being involved under any circumstances. (In British English, people say they wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole)
136. Wrap yourself in the flag
Meaning: If someone wraps themselves in the flag, they pretend to be doing something for patriotic reasons or out of loyalty, but their real motives are selfish. (‘Drape yourself in the flag’ is an alternative form of this idiom)
137. Wrench in the works
Meaning: If someone puts or throws a wrench, or monkey wrench, in the works, they ruin a plan. In British English, ‘spanner’ is used instead of ‘wrench’.
138. Writ large
Meaning: If something is writ large, it is emphasized or highlighted.
139. Writing on the wall
Meaning: If the writing’s on the wall for something, it is doomed to fail.
140. Written all over your face
Meaning: If someone has done something wrong or secret, but cannot hide it in their expression, it is written all over their face.
141. Written in stone
Meaning: If something is written in stone, it is permanent and cannot be changed.
142. Wrong end of the stick
Meaning: If someone has got the wrong end of the stick, they have misunderstood what someone has said to them.
143. Wrong foot
Meaning: If you start something on the wrong foot, you start badly.
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