Work – English idioms and sayings

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Question English
Answer English

1. The final figure on a balance sheet 2. the most important feature of something.
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the bottom line
I don't really like the bottom line of this project, I'd prefer to do something more useful.

A general financial figure.
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ball park figure
At the moment I can give you just a ball park figure, I can provide you with details in a week.

A job that has no chance of promotion or advancement.
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dead end job
Working in a fast food restaurant is a kind of dead end job.

A large payment on leaving a company.
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golden handshake
She received a golden handshake, but she cannot say why she was dismissed.

A lot of trouble in an organisation often resulting in someone losing their job.
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blood on the carpet
After this last meeting there was blood on the carpet.

A person that is competent with many skills but is not outstanding in any particular one.
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Jack / Jill of all trades
Michel can do anything, he is a Jack of all trades.

An accountant
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bean-counter
A bean counter is thought to be a very boring job.

An important person, a leader (usually about business).
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big cheese
Can you see that man over there? He's a big cheese in education.

The company breaks even when expenses equal profits.
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to break even
It took this company five years to finally break even.

To be dismissed from your job.
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1. to be fired 2. to get the sack
1. I missed the deadline and I was fired. 2. I missed the deadline and I got the sack.

To be the person who is responsible for everything.
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to be a chief cook and bottle washer
It is a hard task to be a chief cook and bottle washer, but this is how you start a business.

To be very busy.
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to be snowed under
I'm sorry, I can't meet you this week, I'm snowed under.

To call potential customers without an appointment or previous contact.
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to cold call
I hate all those people cold calling me all the time!

To make certain that the amount of money spent is not more than the amount of money received.
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to balance the books
In big companies it is not easy to balance the books.

To make someone work harder by threatening them.
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to crack the whip
Sometimes the boss has to crack the whip in order to make their employees work faster.

To work really hard.
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1. to work your fingers to the bone 2. to sweat blood
1. I work my fingers to the bone to run this restaurant. 2. I sweat blood to run this restaurant.

When the advancement of a qualified person within the hierarchy of an organisation is stopped at a lower level (it happens to women a lot).
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the glass ceiling
The glass ceiling is what you meet when you are a woman in big company.

When you come extremely close to a dangerous or unpleasant situation or only just manage to avoid it.
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close shave
It was a close shave, but we managed to make the deal.


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