Most popular English Business Phrases and Idioms

Commonly used English Business Phrases and Idioms

Idioms are short phrases having meaning different from the meanings of the individual words. The idiomatic expressions gives artistic flavor to English language and their consistent use make you sound more like native. Since idioms are used in specific contexts, learning each and every idiom can become tedious exercise. To make things simple for you, here is the list of popular idioms and phrases that are used in business world.

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  • Back to square one

Meaning:  start over a project, or to go back to the beginning

Example: He’s been working on this advert for last few weeks but the client wasn’t impressed by the ad campaign. Now he has to go back square one.  

  • Back to the drawing board

Meaning: to start thinking about a new way of doing something after the earlier idea has failed

Example: They rejected our proposal of new smart city, so I guess we have to go back to the drawing board and start things anew.   

  • Bring to the table

Meaning: to bring something useful like skills, experience to a job or business enterprise or project, meeting, discussion etc.

Example: The e-commerce giant needs someone on the core team who can bring project management experience to the table.

  • By the book

Meaning: following rules and instructions in a strict way

Example: He always does everything by the book but we need dynamic person who can bring out-of-the-box ideas to the table.

  • Call it a day

Meaning: it refers to completion of the work or when you decide to stop working on an activity

Example: After dedicating more than thirty years to the nation as decorated statesman, it is time for him to call it a day.

  • Cash Cow

Meaning: a profit-making part of the business that provides money for the rest of the business

Example: The new line of bags has proved to be cash cow for the ailing company. The decision has infused new lease of life.  

  • Cut corners

Meaning: taking shortcuts and using the easiest, quickest and cheapest way to do something.

Example: In last quarter, the automobile giant cut corners to meet its sales target and allay fears of shareholders.

  • Dumpster Fire

Meaning: something that causes a lot of harm or a situation that is handled badly

Example: The conglomerates’ latest plan to launch a new premium hatchback in the market is universally regarded as a dumpster fire.   

  • Eager Beaver

Meaning: an enthusiastic person who works very hard

Example: Our boss always considered Jamie as an eager beaver and often praised his work and contributions.

  • Get off the ground

Meaning: to start doing a job or project, usually after much planning.

Example: After witnessing a painful period of declining sales, they were finally able to get an aggressive sales campaign off the ground.

  • Go down the drain

Meaning: to waste your effort, work or money in doing something unproductive

Example: If this ad campaign doesn’t bring a lot of business, all our efforts will go down the drain and we are going lose a fortune.

  • Grease someone’s palm

Meaning: to give somebody money in order to compel them to do something illegal or dishonest

Example: The speculations are rife that the CEO had to grease someone’s palms in the power to get that big defence contract.

  • Hold the fort

Meaning: take responsibility for a situation while another person is temporarily absent.

Example: These days he is busy with the election campaign meanwhile his business partner is holding the fort.

  • Long shot

Meaning: a venture involving great risk and less likely to succeed but promising a great reward if successful

Example: This financial year the energy firm is hoping to double its profits, but everyone knows that’s a long shot.

  • The bottom line

Meaning: refer to the final outcome, or the most important point to consider.

Example: I know we are under-staffed right now but the bottom line is we must still deliver the project on time.



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