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Common idioms in the workplace

Idioms are phrases used as a form of expression which appear natural to a language, person or group of people. They are not easily explained using grammar rules and cannot be easily understood by defining the individual words (e.g. when we say it’s raining cats and dogs, there will be no sign of either falling from the sky). Mastering the use of idioms will undoubtedly bring you closer to native speakers and make way for real English proficiency.

Essential in talking business

In other words, having a strong command of idioms is essential in talking business when it comes to truly understanding others and expressing yourself. If you lack proper understanding of English idioms, you are much more likely to get lost in a business conversation. In fact, let’s get the ball rolling with this article on business idioms and you’ll be feeling more confident in no time!

Stay ahead of the game

Having a good oral command of the English language is not only about speaking properly or accurately. One should also feel comfortable and confident when applying idioms in day-to-day conversation. If you want to get your business English skills off the ground and stay ahead of the game, you should consider brushing up on some common idioms in the workplace so you can finally get down to business and be up to speed with your colleagues while staying in the office loop.


Perhaps the trouble is that you’re feeling swamped at work and struggling to keep your head above water so your English lessons have been put on the backburner. Or maybe you’re still learning the ropes at a new job or have your hands tied at work or at home which leaves you with less time to invest in developing your English skills. It’s time to face the music and take the bull by the horns because English idioms are best learned through practice, practice, practice.

What are you waiting for?

If you want to get in the swing of things, you need to have a strong game plan for improving your business English skills. It’s time to raise the bar in your English fluency and go the extra mile by learning every idiom mentioned in this article. So, what are you waiting for? The ball’s in your court so get to work and kick-start your English journey by applying some of your favourite idioms in the workplace.

Glossary of idioms used in this article:

  • Get the ball rolling:
    • Get started with something
  • Get something off the ground:
    • start or cause something to happen successfully
  • Stay ahead of the game:
    • gain or maintain an advantage in a situation
  • Brush something up:
    • improve one’s knowledge or ability in something
  • Get down to business:
    • start doing what needs to be done
  • Be up to speed:
    • be fully informed or up to date
  • Be in the (office) loop:
    • be informed and/or actively participating in something
  • Feel swamped:
    • be overwhelmed with an excessive amount of something
  • Keep your head above water:
    • struggle with work or other demands; financial trouble
  • Put on the backburner:
    • set something aside or give it lower priority
  • Learn the ropes:
    • learn how a particular task or job is done
  • Have your hands tied:
    • be prevented from acting freely by external factors
  • Face the music:
    • be confronted with the unpleasant consequence(s) of one’s actions
  • Take the bull by the horns:
    • deal decisively with a difficult or dangerous situation
  • Get in the swing of things:
    • become very involved and enjoy what you are doing
  • Game plan:
    • a strategy for achieving an objective
  • Raise the bar:
    • raise the standards which need to be met
  • Go the extra mile:
    • make a special effort to achieve something
  • Ball’s in your court:
    • it’s your responsibility now; time to make a decision

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Alma Bonger
Alma Bonger
Alma is an English language trainer and writer from Canada. She is passionate about education, exploring new cultures, and creative collaboration.

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