Behavior and attitudes

Behavior to yourself and others


Idiom Meaning Example
look right/straight through someone behave as if you do not see someone either because you do not notice them or because you are ignoring them Ann often looks straight through you, but 1 think it may be because she's short-sighted.
leave someone in the lurch leave someone at a time when they need you to stay and help them I'm sorry I'm leaving you in the lurch, but I've got to get to a meeting by 10 a.m.
give someone a hard/ rough/tough time make things difficult for someone The teacher will give you a rough time if you don't finish the book.
keep a lid on something control the level of something in order to stop it increasing Rolf's been trying to keep a lid on his emotions, but every now and then his anger erupts.
let (yourself) go either take less care of your appearance or relax completely and enjoy yourself Sophie used to be so elegant, but now she's really let herself go.
blow something out of (all) proportion behave as if something that has happened is much worse than it really is The newspapers have blown the dispute out of all proportion.

Attitudes towards events

When we got to our holiday destination, it was a very long climb up to the cottage that we were renting. John thought nothing of 1 it, but I found it difficult. However, when we got to the top, the view was so beautiful that it brought a lump to my throat 2. We were only going to be there for two weeks so we were determined to make the most of 3 it. Then my mother rang to say that my grandmother had been taken ill and her life was hanging in the balance 4. Of course, everything else faded/paled into insignificance 5 then and we agreed that we wouldnt dream of 6 staying away m those circumstances. We caught the next plane home and spent the flight trying to come to terms with 7 the thought that she might die. However, thank goodness, when we got to the hospital, she was sitting up completely recovered and very apologetic that she had spoiled our holiday.

1 did something that other people found difficult very easily

2 found it so moving that I wanted to cry

3 take full advantage of something because it may not last long

4 no one knows what will happen to it in the future

5 did not seem at all important when compared to something else

6 would never do something because we think it is wrong

7 start to accept emotionally and to deal with a difficult situation


Being angry. These informal idioms can be used either about yourself or about a third person.

I'm fed up (to the back teeth) with trying to live on such a small wage.

I'm at my wits' endtrying to keep things in order. (wits = intelligence, brains). I've had it up to here with this organization!

Your boss will have/throw a fit when he finds out you forgot to reply to those

letters. (You can also say go off the deep end / go spare / do his nut / blow a

fuse.) These less informal idioms describe other people's anger and are based on the word blood. If someone's blood is up, they are very angry or excited and may react in a violent way. If you are after someone's blood, you want to catch them in order to hurt or punish them. If you are out for blood, you are determined to find someone to attack or blame for something bad that has happened.

Angry relationships


idiom meaning example
drive someone up the wall make someone very angry (or sometimes very bored) The neighbors' loud music every night is driving me up the wall.
drive/send someone round the bend/twist make someone very angry (or sometimes very bored) His lack of consideration is driving me round the twist.
rub someone up the wrong way   make someone annoyed Jill always manages to say something to rub her father up the wrong way.
get/put someone's back up   make someone annoyed Roger put his sister's back up by saying she would never be a good driver.
ruffle someone's feathers   make someone annoyed Jo says what she thinks without worrying about whether she might be ruffling anyone's feathers.
put/send the cat among the pigeons   do or say something that makes a lot of people angry or worried Danny put the cat among the pigeons by suggesting that the company might have to make some redundancies.
not be on speaking terms   be so angry with each other that they refuse to speak to each other They haven't been on speaking terms for years although neither can remember what they first quarreled about.
give someone an earful tell someone how angry you are with them (informal) The old lady gave the children an earful for nearly knocking her over.
give someone a piece of your mind tell someone how angry you are with them He'll give the boys a piece of his mind if he catches them in his garden.


  1. Read these comments about people's attitudes to banks. Complete each idiom.
  2. Russian Teachers Attitudes to the Problem of Media Education of Pupils and University Students
  3. Stage 5: Post-purchase behavior

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