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Idiomatic expressions to use at work: Part I

Idiomatic expressions or idioms are phrases which help our English sound more fluent and natural. These are used everywhere, not just with friends but also at the workplace. Here are 10 idioms to use at your workplace.

Being confused

  1. It totally slipped my mind

It means “I forgot something”.

Ex: The meeting is today?! Oh wow, it totally slipped my mind!

  1. Lost (my) train of thought

It means to forget what you were talking about.

Ex: I was talking to Carol but she totally lost her train of thought when Jim interrupted her.

  1. On the tip of my tongue

It means to know the answer to something but not be able to recall it.

Ex: I know him from the networking event, his name is…, ugh it’s on the tip of my tongue!

  1. To be in over (one’s) head

It means to be really busy and possibly do something one doesn’t understand.

Ex: John was promoted to senior accountant but now he needs to forecast expenses for over 10 different companies, he seems to be in over his head.

                Knowing or agreeing

  1. Know the ropes

It is used to say you know how this particular thing/business works.

Ex: John has worked here for 10 years. He knows the ropes.

  1. Straight from the horse’s mouth

Used to say you got the information directly from the source.

Ex: Harry has been made redundant! I heard it straight from the horse’s mouth.

  1. Know it like the back of (my) hand.

Used to say you are very familiar with someone or something.

Ex: Jess has studied the code over and over again. She knows it like the back of her hand.


  1. Missed the boat

to lose an opportunity to do something by being slow to act.

Ex: Everyone invested in BitCoin but not me. Now they’re worth so much money, I have missed the boat.

  1. Draw a blank

Failing to find or remember something.

Ex: He asked me for the reports and I drew a blank – I just couldn’t remember if I had e-mailed them or not.

  1. All downhill from there

To speak of the moment when everything got worse.

Ex: Piotr came unprepared for the meeting and the boss didn’t like that, it was all downhill from there. Now he has been fired and is looking for work.

That’s all for part one of the series, if you enjoyed it, share it with friends and colleagues or leave a message in the comments below!