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Popular Business Idioms and Phrases with Meaning & Useful Examples

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English business idioms and phrases are a way to convey complex ideas in a simple and direct way. They are commonly used in professional settings like meetings, presentations, and emails. These idioms and phrases often express concepts like ambition, hard work, and determination. They can be a quick and efficient way to get your message across in a business setting, however, it’s important to be familiar with these idioms, it can also be crucial to understand them in order to comprehend the message others are trying to convey.

Business Idioms and Phrases

List of Business Idioms and Phrases

Here is a list of common business idioms and phrases in English:

  • Break the ice
  • Cost an arm and a leg
  • Get the ball rolling
  • In the black
  • In the red
  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
  • A snowball effect
  • A taste of your own medicine
  • Barking up the wrong tree
  • Behind the times
  • Bite off more than you can chew
  • Bring home the bacon
  • Call the shots
  • Cash cow
  • Cutting corners
  • Jumping on the bandwagon
  • Throw in the towel
  • Throw money at
  • Toe the line
  • Upper hand
  • All in the same boat
  • Back to the drawing board
  • Bend over backward
  • Best foot forward
  • Bottom line
  • Bread and butter
  • Burn the candle at both ends
  • Burning the midnight oil
  • Buyer beware
  • Cash flow
  • Cook the books
  • Curiosity killed the cat
  • Cut to the chase
  • Devil is in the details
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
  • Drive a hard bargain
  • Eat humble pie
  • Elbow grease
  • End of the road
  • Eyes and ears
  • Feast or famine
  • Fly by the seat of your pants
  • Get your ducks in a row
  • Give and take
  • Go for broke”
  • Go the extra mile
  • Golden opportunity
  • Green thumb
  • Hang in there
  • Hit the ground running

Common Business Idioms and Phrases

Yes man

  • A person who always agrees with his boss
  • E.g. Being a yes man keeps me out of trouble, and it might even lead to a promotion!

Call it a day

  • To quit work, and go home; to say that a day’s work has been completed.
  • E.g. The boss was mad because Bill called it a day at noon.

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.

Grey area (UK)/ Grey area (US)

  • Means something that is not clearly defined and needs careful judgement.
  • It exits in a grey area between legal and illegal.
  • It’s a grey area isn’t it?

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.

Back to the Drawing Board

  • 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.

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!

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 ball

  • To be alert, active, or attentive; on top of things.
  • E.g. If I had been more on the ball I would have asked when he called me.

On the same page

  • In board 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.


  • Means innovative, different than other things of its type.
  • E.g. This product is certainly a ground-breaking technology.

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.

Put the cart before the horse

  • To put things in the wrong order or with the wrong priorities; to put something inconsequential as more important than something more essential
  • E.g. There’s no point trying to write the report when you haven’t got a clear idea of what to write. You don’t want to put the cart before the horse.

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.

Get down to work

  • To set serious and focus on what you need to do to accomplish a challenging goal
  • E.g. You know what, Harry? You just need to get down to work!

Business Idioms and Phrases in English | Image

Business Idioms and Phrases