40 Common Binomial Expressions in English

A binomial pair is an expression containing two words which are joined by a conjunction (usually "and" or "or"). The word order of a binomial pair is usually fixed.


Here are some of the most common binomials:

1. Bits and pieces

Meaning: Small individual things

E.g. Then there are all the other bits and pieces involved in a wedding: invitations, photos, and car hire.

2. By and large

Meaning: Mostly, generally; with few exceptions

E.g. It was, by and large, an unexceptional presentation.

3. Give or take

Meaning: Approximately; plus or minus some unknown amount.

E.g. He was six feet tall, give or take.

4. Hustle and bustle

Meaning: A large amount of activity and work, usually in a noisy surrounding.

E.g. He moved to his parents' farm to have a break from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

5. More or less

Meaning: Mostly/ approximately/ almost

E.g. There are hundred people in the room, more or less.

6. On and off

Meaning: Intermittently.

E.g. With so much worry, I only slept on and off last night.

7. Part and parcel

Meaning: An integral or essential piece; that which must be done or accepted as part of something else

E.g. Regular maintenance is part and parcel of owning a car.

8. Peace and quite

Meaning:  A period of calm, silence,etc., especially after noise, stress

E.g. Why don’t you allgo and play outside? Your mother needs a bit of peace and quiet.

9. Pros and cons

Meaning: The positive and negative attributes of arguments.

E.g. We need to look at the pros and cons of each system.

10. Safe and sound

Meaning: Safe from danger and free from injury or harm

E.g. I won't be able to relax duringthis storm until I know that the kids are both safe and sound.

11. Sick and tired

Meaning: Bored to the point of weariness

E.g. The boy was sick and tired of doing his lengthy homework assignment.

12. Sick and tired

Meaning: Annoyed or frustrated with something or someone, to the point of losing one's temper or patience.

E.g. She was sick and tired of her daughter pestering her to help her with her homework.

13. Short and sweet

Meaning: Efficiently brief in duration, especially when referring to an unpleasant task.

E.g. The staff meeting was short and sweet today.

14. Sooner or later

Meaning: Eventually, at some undetermined time in the not-too-distant future.

E.g. He’ll turn up sooner or later.

15. Step by step

Meaning: From one stage to the next in sequence.

E.g. We were shown the process step by step.

16. Neat and tidy

Meaning: In a state of good order; tidy.

E.g. The house is neat and tidy.

17. Sick and tired

Meaning: Bored to the point of weariness

E.g. The boy was sick and tired of doing his lengthy homework assignment.

18. Sick and tired

Meaning: Annoyed or frustrated with something or someone, to the point of losing one's temper or patience.

E.g. She was sick and tired of her daughter pestering her to help her with her homework.

19. Wine and dine

Meaning: To entertain someone to a fine meal.

E.g. The company wined and dined the prospective clients.

20. Up and down

Meaning: Upward and downward, alternately

E.g. She looked me up and down and hinted that I could do with losing some weight.

21. Back and forth

Meaning: Going from one place or position to another and back again.

E.g. The back and forth movement of the tide causes erosion of the coastline.

22. Far and wide

Meaning: Over a great distance or large area; nearly everywhere.

E.g. People came from far and wide to see the show.

23. Loud and clear

Meaning: In a clear and easily understandable manner.

E.g. The message from voters came across loud and clear.

24. Skin and bones

Meaning: Emaciated; very thin, as from lack of nutrition.

E.g. Look at that starving dog; he's nothing more than skin and bones.

25. Odds and ends

Meaning: Miscellaneous things.

E.g. The garage was filled with a random assortment of odds and ends.

26. Make or break


Meaning: To be a crucial factor in determining the success of something.

E.g. Vince knew that his ability to come up with a catchy hook would make or break his song.

27. Take it or leave it

Meaning: A situation has to be accepted without change, or rejected outright.

E.g. That's the deal: take it or leave it.

28. Sooner or later

Meaning:  Eventually, at some undetermined time in the not-too-distant future.

E.g. He’ll turn up sooner or later.

29. Willy-nilly

Meaning: Without regard for consequences or the will of those affected.

E.g. So people chasing money churn out novels willy-nilly.

30. Sick and tired

Meaning: Bored to the point of weariness

E.g. The boy was sick and tired of doing his lengthy homework assignment.

31. Short and sweet

Meaning: Efficiently brief in duration, especially when referring to an unpleasant task.

E.g. The staff meeting was short and sweet today.

32. Wear and tear

Meaning: Damage or depreciation resulting from ordinary use

E.g. I drive carefully and have my car serviced regularly to avoid wear and tear.

33. Ups and downs


Meaning: Periods of positive and negative events, moods, or interactions; highs and lows.

E.g. Heidi and Mike had their ups and downs, but they stayed married for more than 60 years.

34. Little by little

Meaning: A small amount at a time.

E.g. I earned enough money, little by little, to buy a car.

36. Spick and span

Meaning: Clean, spotless; original sense “like new”.

E.g. I mopped up the kitchen floor so it was spick-and-span.

37. Slice and dice

Meaning: To break a body of information down into smaller parts or to examine it from different viewpoints so that you can understand it better

E.g. Transcripts of the debate were available almost immediately, providing some opportunities to slice and dice the contenders’ words.

38. Win or lose

Meaning: Whether you succeed or fail

E.g. Win or lose, you must be proud that you got this far.

39. Do’s and don’ts

Meaning: Instructions and warnings about what you should and should not do in a particular situation

E.g. Here is a list of do’s and don’ts for anyone planning to start a business.

40. Live and learn

Meaning: To learn from the experiences that life gives us (often you live and learn), said when you hear or discover something which is surprising.

E.g. You mean I can get a discount because I’m under 26? Well, you live and learn – I never knew that!

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40 Common Binomial Expressions in English

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