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Idioms - Letter E
American English Idioms - Letter E

In this lesson you will learn American English idioms beginning with the letter E. You will learn the definition and study the usage of each idiom.
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Idiom Definition Usage
each and every absolutely every I want each and every one of you to bring your textbooks tomorrow.
EAGER BEAVER a person who is very excited and enthusiastic about pursuing some activity

The expression suggests the image of an anxiously working beaver, which is reputed to be an active, industrious animal. It has a slightly negative connotation, as of someone eager to impress others with his/her effort.
1. Paul just discovered jogging as a form of exercise, and he went out and bought new running shoes, a new tracksuit, and all the other gear that goes along with it. He’s a real eager beaver about jogging.

2. Dieting must be done slowly and carefully. Don’t be such an eager beaver to lose weight that you harm yourself by not eating anything.
ears are burning  
ear to the ground paid attention to everything He kept his ear to the ground and knew about the changes before everyone else.
ease off reduce The president was asked to ease off some of the new company rules.
easy come, easy go unimportant For him, losing his job was easy come, easy go.
easy does it Slowly Easy does it is the best way to learn to drive a car.
easy-going relaxed She has a very easy-going management style.
easy grader lenient when grading My friends said she's an easy grader.
easy mark likely victims The elderly are an easy mark because they usually carry cash.
eat away at bother The problem really began to eat away at him.
eat away at destroy The mildew began to eat away at the window frame.
EAT CROW/HUMBLE PIE to humble oneself because one has been proved wrong

Synonym: swallow (one’s) pride
1. Roger told his daughter that he didn’t believe her. When he found out he was wrong, he had to eat crow and admit his mistake.

2. Cathy laughed at herself when she realized she was wrong and had spoken too quickly. “I jump to the wrong conclusions so often, I’m always eating humble pie,” she said.
eat dirt accept insults He made the senior manager eat dirt because of the way he was mistreated.
eat humble pie admit to the mistake and apologize He was forced to eat humble pie.
eat like a bird very little I know that you usually eat like a bird.
eat like a horse a lot I know that you usually eat like a horse.
eat like a pig  a lot I know that you usually eat like a pig.
EAT (ONE’S) HAT to do something unpleasant in the case of being proven wrong

Compare to: bet (one’s) bottom dollar; bet (one’s) boots
1. I don’t believe the boss is going to give us an extra day off work at Christmas time. If he does, I’ll eat my hat.

2. Matthew told me he would eat his hat if my favorite football team won the championship this year. He felt there was no possibility that they could win.
EAT (ONE’S) HEART OUT to suffer silently in a hopeless situation

Compare to: cry over spilled milk

Whereas cry over spilled milk is to grieve over some event that has happened and cannot be changed, eat one’s heart out is to grieve over an emotional situation that cannot be changed. The expression is also used in the command form by someone who has no sympathy for the grieving person (as in sentence 2).
1. Mike thought Sue would eventually marry him. Now that she has married Tony, he’s eating his heart out.

2. Kevin tried to take the job that was rightfully mine by telling my boss that I had stolen money from the company. When I got the promotion anyway, all I could say to him was, “Eat your heart out.”
eat one's words admit he was wrong He was forced to eat his words after his boss found the mistake.
eat out eat in a restaurant She like to eat out three or four times a week.
EAT OUT OF (SOMEONE’S) HAND to be submissive; to have someone eating out of one’s hand means to get someone to be submissive

The expression originates from the idea that an animal that will eat out of one’s hand is very tame. It connotes an unhealthy submissiveness.
1. Jerry will do anything Lisa wants. She has him eating out of her hand.

2. The politician was so polished that had the crowd eating out of his hand by the end of his speech.
eating someone bothering I do not know what is eating her today.
EGG ON (ONE’S) FACE, HAVE to be or appear to be embarrassed 1. I can tell by the way you look that you’ve been caught doing something naughty. You have egg on your face.

2. Andy sure had egg on his face when he realized he had made a fool of himself at the party.
egg someone on push him She likes to egg him on to fight more when they have an argument.
eke out just barely make He was able to eke out a living with the restaurant.
elbow grease effort and strength You need to use a lot of elbow grease to get the kitchen cleaned.
elbow room space They moved to the country in order to have a little more elbow room.
elephant in the room  
ELEVENTH HOUR late or last-minute

Compare to: down to the wire; in the nick of time

Down to the wire and in the nick of time convey a greater sense of being just barely in time than the eleventh hour.
1. You certainly left making your decision to take this flight until the eleventh hour. You’re lucky there were still seats available.

2. Don’t wait until the eleventh hour to decide to see the doctor. If you do, you may find that it’s too late.
end in itself the main purpose or goal For some people traveling is an end in itself and the destination is not important.
end of one's rope last of his ideas He is at the end of his rope regarding what to do about his job.
end up finally be I knew that she would end up at the dessert counter.
ETERNAL TRIANGLE a situation in which two men love the same woman or two women love the same man

The theme of the eternal triangle recurs throughout the literature of many cultures. The triangle (three people) is described as eternal because it is such a common situation.
1. Both Nancy and Tanya love Victor. It’s the age-old story of the eternal triangle.

2. Like many other romantic comedies, this film is about two men who fall in love with the same woman. It’s a story of an eternal triangle gone awry.
even so nevertheless He always works hard but even so he has no money saved.
every dog has his day everyone will have a chance or turn You should know that every dog has his day.
every other on each alternate She has to work every other Saturday evening.
every so often occasionally You should send email every so often.
EVERY TOM, DICK, AND HARRY everyone 1. I know the car salesman made you think he was only offering a great deal to you, but in fact he has offered the same deal to every Tom, Dick and Harry that has walked into his showroom.

2. My rug is ruined. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry must have come through here with muddy shoes.
every Tom, Dick and Harry the average person He is not the same as every Tom, Dick and Harry.
eyes are bigger than one's stomach desire for the food is greater than what she can actually eat Every time she orders food, her eyes are bigger than her stomach.
eyes in the back of one's head the ability to know what is happening behind her
She has eyes in the back of her head.
eyes pop out surprise Watch her eyes pop out when she sees all this money.
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