Idioms beginning with X-Z. Select an idiom for more details.


If someone has the x-factor, they have a certain charismatic appeal and magnetic quality.


If something is x-rated, it is classified as pornographic and therefore not suitable for young people.

year dot | year one

You can say "the year dot", or "the year one", when you're talking about a very, very long time ago.

year in, year out

If something has happened year in, year out, it's happened every year for many years in a row.

yellow journalism American English

Journalism in which sensational stories are used to boost sales, or biased reporting is used to change the reader's views on an issue. Both of these are unethical.

yellow streak

If someone has a yellow streak, they can sometimes act in a cowardly way and not be very brave.


If someone is yellow-bellied, they are not brave, or they are cowardly.


If someone's a yes-man, they'll say they agree with someone, or say "yes" to them, in order to please them.

You are what you eat.

You can say "you are what you eat" when you want to point out the connection between food and health.

You asked for it! INFORMAL

You can say "You asked for it!" when you think someone deserves the punishment they're getting or the trouble they're in.

you bet | you bet your boots | you bet your life INFORMAL

You can say "you bet", "you bet your boots" or "you bet your life" when you strongly agree with a statement or a suggestion, or to emphasise what you're saying.

You can say that again! INFORMAL

If someone says "You can say that again!", it shows they strongly agree with what was just said.

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).

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

You can say "you could have knocked me over with a feather" to show how surprised you were when something happened, or when you heard about something.

You're on!

You can say "You're on!" if you want to accept a challenge, a bet or an invitation.

You're only young once.

You can say "you're only young once" when you're trying to persuade someone, or yourself, to do something while you're still young enough to do it.

You're telling me!

You can say "You're telling me!" when you strongly agree with what someone has said.

young at heart

Someone is young at heart if they still feel young even though they're getting old.

young blood

If you say "young blood", you mean young people who have fresh, new ideas and lots of energy.

Your guess is as good as mine. INFORMAL

You can say "your guess is as good as mine" when you don't know the answer to a question.

zebra crossing British English

A zebra crossing is a pedestrian crossing that is marked on the road with painted black and white stripes.

zero in on

If you zero in on something, you focus your attention on it.

zero tolerance American English

If something is given zero tolerance, it won't be accepted even once.

zero-sum game American English

A zero-sum game is a situation in which any gain by one side or person is at the expense of a loss to another side or person involved in the situation.


If someone says "Zip it!", they're telling you to shut up or stop talking about something.

Contributor: Matt Errey