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Idioms

26 Idioms beginning with W

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

Idioms

(like) water off a duck's back

You can say an insult or criticism is like water off a duck's back if it doesn't upset you.

a wake-up call

An event acts as a wake-up call if it makes people more aware of a danger.

a war of words

If you're in a war of words with someone, you're having a long argument or dispute with them.

a weight off your shoulders

You can say a weight is off your shoulders if you no longer have to worry about something or deal with something difficult.

a whale of a time

If you have a whale of a time, you have a great time and really enjoy yourself.

a white lie

If you tell a white lie, you say something that isn't true in order to be polite or so as not to hurt someone's feelings.

a wolf in sheep's clothing

A wolf in sheep's clothing is someone who seems to be a good person but is really a bad person.

the worse for wear

If something is the worse for wear, it has been damaged by being used a lot. If a person is the worse for wear, they don't feel well.

the writing | handwriting is on the wall

If the writing is on the wall, or the handwriting is on the wall, there are signs that a person or organization is in trouble and might soon fail.

waiting in the wings

If you're waiting in the wings, you're ready to take over a role or a position when you have the chance to do so.

warts and all

If you show something warts and all, you show it exactly as it is without trying to hide any of its faults or weaknesses.

wash your hands of something

If you wash your hands of something that you were involved in, you decide to stop being involved in it after losing your interest or belief in it.

waste your breath

You're wasting your breath if you're speaking but what you're saying is being ignored or having no effect.

water under the bridge | water over the dam

You can say a problem or an experience is water under the bridge, or water over the dam, if it happened in the past and it no longer affects the present to a degree that is worth worrying about.

weak at the knees

If you go weak at the knees, you feel an emotion so strongly that it makes you feel unstable on your feet.

wear your heart on your sleeve

If you wear your heart on your sleeve, you show your emotions openly and you don't try to hide your feelings.

weather a storm

If you weather a storm, you survive a dangerous event or deal with a difficult situation.

wet behind the ears Informal

If someone is wet behind the ears, they don't have much experience of life.

wheeling and dealing

If you're wheeling and dealing, you're involved in the complex world of making deals and exchanging favours in business or politics, or both.

whet your appetite

If something whets your appetite, it makes you want something, or it stimulates your desire for something.

wide of the mark

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

with flying colours | colors

If you pass a test with flying colours, you pass it easily and get high marks.

work like a charm

If something works like a charm, it works very well.

work your socks off | work your tail off

If you work your socks off, or work your tail off, you work very hard.

worth its weight in gold

If something is worth its weight in gold, it's extremely valuable or extremely useful.

worth your while

If something is worth your while, the benefits to you of doing it are greater than the value of the time or effort that it requires.

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