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Money Idioms

AnimalBusinessColourFoodMoney




Choose the idiom and click on it to go directly to the explanation and example.

A
ante up, at all costs

B
back on your feet, bet your bottom dollar, bet on the wrong horse, born with a silver spoon in your mouth, bottom dollar, bottom line, break even, break the bank, bring home the bacon, burn a hole in your pocket, buy off

C
cash-and-carry, cash in, cash in on, cash in your chips, cash on the barrelhead, caught short, cheapskate, chicken feed, chip in, clean up, cold hard cash, cook the books, cut-rate

D
deadbeat, dime a dozen, down and out, Dutch treat

F
face value, fast buck, feel like a million dollars/bucks, flat broke, foot the bill, for a song, for love or money (usually negative), fork over

G
go broke, gravy train, grease your palm
H
hand-out, hand to mouth, hard up, have sticky fingers, highway robbery, hit the jackpot

I
in the black, in the hole, in the red

K
keep books, kickback

L
lay away money, layaway plan, lay out, live from hand to mouth, live high off the hog, loaded, lose your shirt

M
make a bundle, make a killing, make a living, make ends meet, make money hand over fist, money to burn

N
nest egg

O
on a dime, on a shoestring, on the house

P
pad the bill, pass the buck, pay an arm and a leg for something, pay dirt, pay off, pay through the nose, penny for your thoughts, penny-wise and pound foolish, pick up the tab, piggy bank, pinch pennies, pony up, put in your two cents

Q
quick buck

R
rain check, rake in the money, red cent

S
salt away, scrape together, set one back, shell out, splurge on something, stone broke, strapped for cash, strike it rich

T
take a beating, tighten your belt, two bits, (not worth) two cents, two cents worth

W
(not) worth a cent, worth your salt

ante up

MEANING: pay, produce a necessary amount of money

EXAMPLE:

I had to ante up a lot of money to get my car fixed.

at all costs

MEANING: at any expense of time, effort or money

EXAMPLE:

He plans to go to school at all costs.

back on your feet

MEANING: return to good financial health

EXAMPLE:

My sister is back on her feet after losing her job last year.

bet your bottom dollar

MEANING: bet all one has on something

EXAMPLE:

I would bet my bottom dollar that the accounting manager will be late again today.

bet on the wrong horse

MEANING: base your plans on a wrong guess about the results of something

EXAMPLE:

He is betting on the wrong horse if he continues to support the other candidate for mayor.

born with a silver spoon in your mouth

MEANING: born to wealth and comfort, born rich

EXAMPLE:

The student in our history class was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and has never worked in his life.

bottom dollar

MEANING: your last dollar

EXAMPLE:

He spent his bottom dollar on some new clothes to wear for his job interview.

bottom line 1

MEANING: line in a financial statement that shows net income or loss

EXAMPLE:

The bottom line in the company’s financial statement was much worse than expected.

bottom line 2

MEANING: final result, main point

EXAMPLE:

The bottom line was that we were unable to attend the conference because of our busy schedule.

break even

MEANING: have income equal to expenses

EXAMPLE:

Our company was able to break even after only six months of operation.

break the bank

MEANING: win all the money at a casino gambling table

EXAMPLE:

He broke the bank at the casino and walked away with a lot of money.

bring home the bacon

MEANING: earn the family living

EXAMPLE:

I have been working hard all month bringing home the bacon for my family.

burn a hole in your pocket

MEANING: money that one wishes or intends to spend quickly (often for something frivolous)

EXAMPLE:

The money had been burning a hole in his pocket when he decided to go to the casino.

buy off

MEANING: give money to someone to stop them from doing their duty

EXAMPLE:

They tried to buy off the politician but he refused to go along with their plan.

cash-and-carry

MEANING: selling something for cash only with no delivery

EXAMPLE:

We were able to get a good price on a sofa in a cash-and-carry deal at the furniture store.

cash in

MEANING: exchange coupons or bonds for their value in money

EXAMPLE:

I cashed in a large number of my savings bonds in order to get some money to buy a house.

cash in on

MEANING: make money from an opportunity

EXAMPLE:

The former football player cashed in on his popularity to open a very successful restaurant.

cash in your chips

MEANING: exchange or sell something to get some money

EXAMPLE:

I decided to cash in my chips to get some money to go back to school.

cash on the barrelhead

MEANING: money paid in cash when something is bought

EXAMPLE:

I had to pay cash on the barrelhead for the used car.

caught short

MEANING: not have enough money when you need it

EXAMPLE:

I was caught short and had to borrow some money from my father last week.

cheapskate

MEANING: a person who will not spend much money, a stingy person

EXAMPLE:

My friend is a cheapskate and won’t even go to a movie with me.

chicken feed

MEANING: a small amount of money

EXAMPLE:

His son always wants to borrow money and says that it is only chicken feed but little by little it adds up to a lot of money.

chip in

MEANING: contribute money or pay jointly

EXAMPLE:

Everyone in our company chipped in some money to buy a wedding present for our boss.

clean up

MEANING: make a lot of money, make a big profit

EXAMPLE:

I cleaned up at the horse races last year and still have some of the money left.

cold hard cash

MEANING: cash, coins and bills

EXAMPLE:

I paid for the stereo in cold hard cash.

cook the books

MEANING: illegally change information in accounting books in a company

EXAMPLE:

The accountant was cooking the books for over a year before he was caught.

cut-rate

MEANING: sell for a price lower than usual

EXAMPLE:

We went to a cut-rate furniture store to buy some new furniture for our apartment.

deadbeat

MEANING: person who never pays the money he owes

EXAMPLE:

Recently the government has been making an effort to solve the problem of deadbeat dads who don’t support their families.

dime a dozen

MEANING: easy to get and therefore of little value

EXAMPLE:

Used computers are a dime a dozen and have very little value.

down and out

MEANING: have no money

EXAMPLE:

My friend was down and out for several years before he got a job and started making money.

Dutch treat

MEANING: something where each person pays their own share

EXAMPLE:

We went to the movie as a Dutch treat so it didn’t cost me much money.

face value

MEANING: the worth or price printed on a stamp, bond, note or paper money etc.

EXAMPLE:

The face value of the stamp was very low but in reality it was worth a lot of money.

fast buck

MEANING: money earned quickly and easily (and sometimes dishonestly)

EXAMPLE:

The company tried to make a fast buck on the property but they actually lost a lot of money.

feel like a million dollars/bucks

MEANING: feel wonderful

EXAMPLE:

Although I have been sick for a few weeks I feel like a million dollars today.

flat broke

MEANING: having no money, penniless

EXAMPLE:

I am flat broke and don’t even have enough money to pay my rent.

foot the bill

MEANING: pay

EXAMPLE:

My sister is footing the bill for her daughter’s education so she is making sure that she studies hard.

for a song

MEANING: at a low price, cheaply

EXAMPLE:

We bought the car for a song and will try and sell it for a higher price.

fork over

MEANING: pay, pay out

EXAMPLE:

I forked over a lot of money for the painting that is hanging on my wall.

for love or money (usually negative)

MEANING: for anything, for any price

EXAMPLE:

I would not want to have to do that man’s job for love or money.

go broke

MEANING: lose all your money, have no money

EXAMPLE:

My uncle started a company last year but it quickly went broke.

gravy train

MEANING: getting paid more money than the job is worth

EXAMPLE:

The job was a gravy train and I made a lot of money when I was there.

grease your palm

MEANING: give a tip, pay for a special favor or extra help, bribe

EXAMPLE:

The waiter was greasing his palm at the restaurant until he was finally fired.

hand-out

MEANING: a gift of money (usually from the government)

EXAMPLE:

After receiving hand-outs from the government for many years they finally had to make money on their own.

hand to mouth

MEANING: having only enough money for basic living

EXAMPLE:

My friend has been living from hand to mouth since he lost his job.

hard up

MEANING: not have much money

EXAMPLE:

His brother is hard up for money and always wants to borrow some.

have sticky fingers

MEANING: be a thief

EXAMPLE:

The new employee has sticky fingers and many things in the store have disappeared.

highway robbery

MEANING: charge a high price for something

EXAMPLE:

The amount of money that the company is charging for its services is highway robbery.

hit the jackpot

MEANING: make a lot of money suddenly

EXAMPLE:

We hit the jackpot at the casino and came home with a lot of money.

in the black

MEANING: profitable, making money

EXAMPLE:

Our company has been in the black since it was first started.

in the hole

MEANING: in debt, owing money

EXAMPLE:

I think that we are going in the hole in our attempts to make our business prosper.

in the red

MEANING: unprofitable, losing money

EXAMPLE:

The company has been in the red for several months now and will soon have to go bankrupt.

keep books

MEANING: keep records of money earned and spent

EXAMPLE:

The accountant has been keeping careful books of all the transactions in the company.

kickback

MEANING: money paid illegally for favorable treatment

EXAMPLE:

The politician received several illegal kickbacks and had to resign from his job.

lay away money

MEANING: save money

EXAMPLE:

I am trying hard to lay away enough money to buy a house.

layaway plan

MEANING: a plan in which one pays some money as a down-payment and then pays a little more when one can and the store holds the article until the full price is paid

EXAMPLE:

We brought our furniture on the layaway plan at the store.

lay out

MEANING: spend, pay

EXAMPLE:

I had to lay out a lot of money to get my car fixed so now I don’t have any money to go out.

live from hand to mouth

MEANING: live on little money

EXAMPLE:

My friend has been living from hand to mouth on his savings from his last job.

live high off the hog

MEANING: have the best of everything, live in great comfort

EXAMPLE:

My mother and father have been living high off the hog since they won the lottery.

loaded

MEANING: have lots of money

EXAMPLE:

My uncle is loaded and always has lots of money.

lose your shirt

MEANING: lose all or most of your money

EXAMPLE:

I lost my shirt in a business venture and now I have no money.

make a bundle

MEANING: make a lot of money

EXAMPLE:

I made a bundle on the stock market and have since bought a house.

make a killing

MEANING: make a large amount of money

EXAMPLE:

My sister made a killing when she worked overseas in the oil industry.

make a living

MEANING: earn enough money to live

EXAMPLE:

If you want to make a good living it is necessary to get a good education.

make ends meet

MEANING: have enough money to pay your bills

EXAMPLE:

I have been having trouble making ends meet because the rent for my apartment is too high.

make money hand over fist

MEANING: fast and in large amounts

EXAMPLE:

My cousin has been making money hand over fist with her business.

money to burn

MEANING: very much money, more money than is needed

EXAMPLE:

My aunt has money to burn and is always travelling somewhere.

nest egg

MEANING: money someone has saved up

EXAMPLE:

I made a nice nest egg when I was working and I am now able to go to school.

on a dime

MEANING: in a very small space

EXAMPLE:

I had to turn my car on a dime when I entered the parking lot.

on a shoestring

MEANING: with little money to spend, on a very low budget

EXAMPLE:

He started his business on a shoestring but now it is very successful.

on the house

MEANING: paid for by the owner

EXAMPLE:

We went to the restaurant and all of the refreshments were on the house.

pad the bill

MEANING: add false expenses to a bill

EXAMPLE:

The plumber who was fixing our plumbing system was padding the bill so we got another plumber.

pass the buck

MEANING: make another person decide something, put the duty or blame on someone else

EXAMPLE:

The foreman is always passing the buck and will never take responsibility for anything that he does.

pay an arm and a leg for something

MEANING: pay a high price for something

EXAMPLE:

I paid an arm and a leg for my car but I am not very happy with it.

pay dirt

MEANING: a valuable discovery, the dirt in which much gold is found

EXAMPLE:

We hit pay dirt when we got the rights to distribute the new product.

pay off 1

MEANING: pay and discharge from a job

EXAMPLE:

The company paid off their employees and shut down for the winter.

Pay-off 2

- bribe

EXAMPLE:

The mayor received a pay-off and was forced to resign from his position.

pay through the nose

MEANING: pay at a very high price, pay too much

EXAMPLE:

I paid through the nose when I had to buy gasoline in the small town.

penny for your thoughts

MEANING: tell someone what you are thinking about

EXAMPLE:

“I will give you a penny for your thoughts”, I said to my friend who was looking out of the window.

penny-wise and pound foolish

MEANING: wise or careful in small things to the costly neglect of important things

EXAMPLE:

My friend is penny-wise and pound foolish and economizes on small things but wastes all of his money on big things.

pick up the tab

MEANING: pay the bill

EXAMPLE:

I picked up the tab for my sister and her three children at the restaurant.

piggy bank

MEANING: a small bank, sometimes in the shape of a pig for saving coins

EXAMPLE:

The small boy saved up much money in his piggy bank.

pinch pennies

MEANING: be careful with money, be thrifty

EXAMPLE:

My grandmother always pinches pennies and will never spend her money foolishly.

pony up

MEANING: pay

EXAMPLE:

I had to pony up a lot of money to pay to get my car repaired.

put in your two cents

MEANING: give your opinion

EXAMPLE:

I stood up in the meeting and put in my two cents before I was asked to sit down.

quick buck

MEANING: money earned quickly and easily (and sometimes dishonestly)

EXAMPLE:

The company is only interested in making a quick buck and is not at all interested in quality.

rain check

MEANING: a promise to repeat an invitation at a later date

EXAMPLE:

I decided to take a rain check and go to the restaurant another time.

rake in the money

MEANING: make a lot of money

EXAMPLE:

We have been raking in the money at our restaurant and will soon be able to go on a long holiday.

red cent

MEANING: the smallest coin, a trivial sum of money

EXAMPLE:

I wouldn’t give a red cent for my neighbor’s car.

salt away

MEANING: save money

EXAMPLE:

My father’s uncle salted away thousands of dollars before he died.

scrape together

MEANING: gather small amounts of money (usually with some difficulty) for something

EXAMPLE:

We scraped together some money and bought a present for my mother.

set one back

MEANING: cost

EXAMPLE:

My friend asked me how much my new coat had set me back.

shell out

MEANING: pay

EXAMPLE:

My father shelled out a lot of money to get his house painted.


splurge on something

MEANING: spend more money than one might ordinarily spend

EXAMPLE:

We decided to splurge and go to a nice restaurant for dinner.

stone broke

MEANING: having no money, penniless

EXAMPLE:

His brother is stone broke and won’t be able to come to the movie with us.

strapped for cash

MEANING: have no money available

EXAMPLE:

I am strapped for cash at the moment so I won’t be able to go with you on a holiday.

strike it rich

MEANING: become rich or successful suddenly or without expecting to

EXAMPLE:

My grandfather struck it rich searching for gold but when he died he had no money.

take a beating

MEANING: lose money (usually a lot)

EXAMPLE:

My friend took a beating on the stock market and has now stopped buying stocks..

tighten one`s belt

MEANING: live on less money than usual

EXAMPLE:

We decided to tighten our belt and save up some money for a holiday.

two bits

MEANING: twenty-five cents, a quarter of a dollar

EXAMPLE:

The newspaper was only two bits a copy.

(not worth) two cents

MEANING: almost nothing, something not important or very small

EXAMPLE:

The car that my friend bought is not worth two cents.

two cents worth

MEANING: something one wants to say, opinion

EXAMPLE:

I asked the president for his two cents worth but he didn’t want to give us his opinion.

(not) worth a cent

MEANING: not worth anything, not of any value

EXAMPLE:

That antique desk is not worth a cent although everyone thinks it is very valuable.

worth your salt

MEANING: worth what one is paid

EXAMPLE:

Our secretary is worth her salt and is a great asset to our company.