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Idioms

20 Idioms based on Sports

These are English idioms based on sport, sports and sporting events. You can also try this Sport Idioms Quiz

Click on any idiom for more information, including example sentences, notes and quizzes.

Idioms

a ballpark figure | a ballpark estimate American English

If you give a ballpark figure or a ballpark estimate, you give a number which you think is fairly close to the actual one.

across the board

If something is across the board, it relates to all without exception.

ahead of the game

You are ahead of the game if you have an advantage over your competitors in any activity in which you try to do better than others, such as in business, academia, sports, etc.

another string to your bow British English

If you have another string to your bow, you have another way of making a living.

behind the eight ball American English Informal

If you're behind the eight ball, you're in a difficult or dangerous position.

get off on the wrong foot

If you get off on the wrong foot, you start something poorly, or begin with a mistake.

jump the gun

If you jump the gun, you start doing something too soon.

jump through hoops | go through hoops

You can say you had to "jump through hoops" or "go through hoops" if you had to complete a lot of tasks before being permitted to do something.

no holds barred

If something is done with no holds barred, it's done without restriction, rules or restraint.

off your own bat British English

If you do something off your own bat, you do it without being asked to or told to.

on the ball Informal

If you're on the ball, you're alert and you know what's going on around you.

par for the course Informal

If something is par for the course, it's what you'd expect it to be.

plain sailing

If something is plain sailing, it's very easy to do and there are no problems to overcome.

quick off the mark

If you are quick off the mark, you are quick to react to an event or an opportunity.

run rings around | run circles around

If you run rings around someone, or run circles around them, you do something much better than they do.

skate on thin ice

If you're skating on thin ice, you're doing something risky, or you're in a situation that could quickly become dangerous.

the ball's in your court

If someone you're negotiating with says "the ball's in your court", they think it's your turn to make a move or make an offer.

the name of the game

You can say something is the name of the game if it's the most important thing you need to know or to have in order to succeed at something.

wide of the mark

If something is wide of the mark, it isn't true or accurate, or it misses the target.

You can't win them all.

Something you can say after you, or someone else, loses a contest or fails to achieve something (said to make losing seem not so bad).

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