There are many idioms used in the business world. If you don’t understand these expressions, it’s easy to get lost in a conversation. Below is a table of the most common business idioms in English.
Business Idioms Used in the Workplace
- Call it a day
To quit work and go home; to say that a day’s work has been completed.E.g. “I’m tired. Let’s call it a day.”
“The boss was mad because Bill called it a day at noon.”
- Grey area (UK) / Gray area (US)
This means something that is not clearly defined and needs careful judgement.
E.g. “It exists in a grey area between legal and illegal.”
“It’s a grey area isn’t it?” (Meaning the speaker is talking about an unsure concept).
- Back to the Drawing Board
This means that a previously established plan isn’t working and that it is time to re-plan.
E.g. “My job interview went horribly! I have to go back to the drawing board.”
- Big picture
Means the overall perspective or objective, not the fine detail.
E.g. “Although we all have all specific tasks to do, our leader makes sure we don’t lose sight of the big picture.”
- On the same page
In broad agreement, or sharing a common general understanding or knowledge
E.g. “I want to make sure we’re all on the same page with this new project.”
- Read between the lines
To infer a meaning that is not stated explicitly
e.g. “If you read between the lines a little, you will realize that he has deeper motives”
- See someone’s point
Means that you understand their reason for having a certain opinion, or for feeling a certain way.
E.g. “Yes, I see your point. Let me double-check that and get back with you.”
- Hit the nail on the head
To identify something exactly; to arrive at exactly the right answer.
E.g. “He hit the nail on the head when he said the problem was the thermostat”
- Get the ball rolling
To begin; to start some action; to set in motion.
E.g. We really need to get the ball rolling on this project. The deadline is in October, and it’s already September.
- Thumbs Up
Shows that someone or something is good, especially when it comes to performance or action with good results.
E.g. “That’s good. You deserve a big thumbs up for such a great presentation!”
List of Common Business Idioms
Here is a list of some common business idioms in English:
- To bring home the bacon: To earn a living or salary
- To have the ball in your court: To have control of a situation or decision
- To have a finger in every pie: To be involved in many different activities or ventures
- To have an ace up your sleeve: To have a hidden advantage or something that can be used to gain an advantage
- To have your ducks in a row: To have everything organized and under control
- To hit the ground running: To start working or performing well immediately
- To make a killing: To make a lot of money, usually in a short amount of time
- To play your cards right: To make good decisions or take the right actions
- To pull the plug: To end a project or business venture
- To roll up your sleeves: To get ready to work hard
- To sail through: To easily pass a test or complete a task
- To talk shop: To discuss work-related matters
- To think outside the box: To come up with new and innovative ideas
- To toe the line: To obey or follow the rules or policies
- To be in the same boat: To share a common problem or experience
- To be in the driver’s seat: To be in control of a situation
- To be on the same page: To have the same understanding or point of view
- To be in the hot seat: To be under pressure or scrutiny
- To be in the black: To have a profit or positive financial status
- To be in the red: To have a loss or negative financial status