Idioms at Work

Idioms at Work

One of the ways to improve our English skills and vocabulary is to know, understand and try to use more idioms. Amy Gillett, the author of the book Speak English like an American mentioned that American English is full of idioms and we won’t learn these expressions from a standard textbook. She also mentioned that idioms add color to the language. This article compiles some idioms at work including the examples, meaning and the translation in Indonesian.

Idiom: costs an arm and a leg

Example: Everything in that shop costs an arm and a leg!

Meaning: very expensive

Translation in Indonesian: sangat mahal

Idiom: top dollar

Example: They charge top dollar.

Meaning: the highest end of price range; a lot of money

Translation in Indonesian: sangat/paling mahal

Idiom: give me the creeps!

Example: Their salespeople are very strange. They give me the creeps!

Meaning: to create a feeling of disgust or horror

Translation in Indonesian: membuat ngeri

Idiom: save the day

Example: Your marketing strategy will save the day!

Meaning: to prevent a disaster or misfortune

Translation in Indonesian: menghindari kegagalan atau kekurang mujuran

Idiom: real flop

Example: Your advertising campaign was a real flop!

Meaning: a failure

Translation in Indonesian: kegagalan


Idiom: go back to the drawing board

Example:  Failures mean something if we use them as lessons to learn. Let’s go back to the drawing board!

Meaning: to start over because the last try failed; to start again from the beginning.

Translation in Indonesian: memulai lagi dari awal


Idiom: give an ax

Example: Please, don’t give me an ax!

Meaning: to fire someone

Translation in Indonesian: memecat

Idiom: put up with

Example: I can’t put up with her.

Meaning: to endure without complaint

Translation in Indonesian: bertahan dengan seseorang/sesuatu keadaan tanpa mengeluh


Idiom: dead-end job

Example: Good-bye to that dead-end job!

Meaning: a job that won’t lead to anything else

Translation in Indonesian: pekerjaan yang tidak menjanjikan


Idiom: go belly-up

Example: I am sorry to hear that he went belly-up.

Meaning: to go bankrupt

Translation in Indonesian: bangkrut



Gillett, Amy. 2004. Speak English Like An American. Michigan: Language Success Press.

Compiled and translated by Luh Windiari

September 2013

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