English Idioms and Expressions For Everyone, Yes, Even You! A Book Review

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Have you ever taken the time to stop and think about what some common expressions in the English language mean?  If English is your first language you might not even think twice when someone tells you to “Keep your shirt on” when you are in a hurry or “I just got a pink slip” when they get fired.  You would know what they meant.  But if English isn’t your second language, or even if it is, often it can get confusing.  In Reza Mashayekhi’s book, English Idioms and Expressions For Everyone, Yes, Even You, he explores many of the idioms and expressions in the English language.  His book has easy to understand meanings of more than 2,000 commonly used English idioms, expressions, and phrases.  He also includes the origins of some of these expressions, examples and expressions in sentences, and also some interesting expressions from other cultures.

It was amazing for me to realize while reading over Mashayekhi’s book just how many expressions I use all the time that I never really thought about before.  It almost reminds me of the Amelia Bedela books where she takes everything literally.  This book is a great tool for anyone learning English as a second language but is also important to help those of us who have been speaking it all our lives to remember to phrase things differently when speaking to others who might not understand.

I really found this book interesting but what really touched me the most was a story that Mashayekhi tells of a foreign exchange student who was tragically shot to death when he walked on someone’s property.  The armed homeowner yelled, “Freeze!” but the student understand what the homeowner meant and was shot to death.  This is  an extreme example of how expressions can be confusing but this book did open my eyes.  I am also looking forward to sharing this book with my children to help explain expressions to them.

Examples from the book:

Ace in the hole  
Origin: Gambling

Big secret help. A winning factor kept hidden.

She is our ace in the hole. With her at our side, I’m sure we’re going to win this thing. But keep it to yourself for now.  The prosecutor had an ace in the hole: an eyewitness!

This may have its origin in the game of poker where you have an ace with the face down, until it’s time to show it.

Burning the candle at both ends

Working too hard.
Overextending oneself.
Doing too many things at once.

Dead presidents

Monetary bills.
Dollar bills, paper money, in general, because they mostly have portraits of the late U.S. presidents on them.

A “Hot one” is a $1 bill.
An “Abe” is a $5 bill.
A “Jackson” is a $20 bill.
A “Grant” is a $50 bill.
A “Benjamin” or a “C-note” is a $100 bill.

Want to learn more or get your own copy?  Check out English Idioms and Expressions on Facebook and on the book’s website English Idioms and Expressions


Reza Mashayekhi was born and reared in Tehran, Iran. He later attended the University of Michigan, where he received a degree in aerospace engineering.

Reza has always been interested in learning the intricacies of the English language. This is why, alongside of his engineering work, he has taught English to non-English speakers. He has done this because he has wanted to expand his knowledge of English, and he has a good explanation for his reasoning.

“When you want to learn a subject, you approach it from your own perspective,” he says. “Once you feel that you know enough about it, you typically move on to something else. When you teach a subject, however, you have to learn everything about it before you can satisfactorily answer all of the questions that are raised by the students.”

Reza also consults with non-English speakers to prepare them for their public speaking events, or to help with their day-to-day conversational skills, both in the form of workshops and on a one-on-one basis.

Being a non-native speaker of English, living and working in the U.S., Reza’s experience through the years and his interactions with his students and clients has led to the compilation of this book.

Disclosure: I was not compensated for performing this review. I received a free book to read and review.  The opinions and statements expressed by me in this post are my own personal and honest opinion of this book.

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  1. Amanda Sakovitz says:

    money talks is my favorite idiom

    thanks for the giveaway, I missed the others but im glad i saw this one on twitter!

  2. bent out of shape

  3. Jane Toney says:

    It takes two to tango, that is my favorite idiom 🙂

  4. That was eye opening..lol an idiom in its self..I think the Freeze is the one that got me. We really take the language that we use daily for granted.I would love to have a copy of this book, it would be very enlightening.

  5. Kelly Burroughs Crowell says:

    Wow this would actually be a great book for my sister in law! She just moved here to marry my brother about 3 years ago and there is still so much she doesn’t understand. Every day I’m helping her figure out what something means because she doesn’t understand when someone uses this “slang”!! My favorite would have to be “Chomping at the bit” because it’s something my grandparents used to say all the time for whatever reason and when I was a little girl it made absolutely no sense to me so I never could figure out what they meant 🙂

  6. Jill Buckland says:

    Blessing in disguise.

    As an English major with a degree in education, I’m very fascinated by idioms and would love to have this book.

  7. Jennifer Bond says:

    My favorite is burning the candle at both ends. This seems like it is a great book!

  8. I have an ace in my pocket

  9. Gary Isbell says:

    ass backwards