25. KEEP (SOMETHING) UNDER (ONE’S) HATto keep something secret
Don’t tell Richard anything you don’t want everyone else to know. It’s impossible for him to keep anything under his hat.
I’m not telling anyone yet, but Tom and I are getting married. Keep it under your hat, okay?
This phrase originates from the 1800s, when many men and women wore hats. The idea is to keep a secret in your head, underneath a hat.Antonyms: spill the beans; let the cat out of the bag.
26. LEND/GIVE (SOMEONE) AN/(ONE’S) EAR to listen to someone
The boss walked into the coffee room where we were chatting and asked us to lend him an ear. He wanted us to listen to what he had to say.
All the children pulled on the teacher’s skirt, begging to hear the news. She finally told them that if they gave her an ear, she would tell them what they wanted to hear.
Dating from at least the 1600s, this phrase has consistently meant to listen to or ask someone to listen. It became especially popular after William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, in which Mark Antony says to a noisy crowd, ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears’ in order to get them to quiet down and listen.
27. MAKE A LONG STORY SHORT to summarize; to tell only the main points
To make a long story short, I think your idea is terrible.
He tried to make a long story short, but she wouldn’t let him finish.
28. ON THIN ICE, SKATE/TREAD in an unsafe or risky position
Steve is going to run into trouble if he continues to arrive late at work. He’s on thin ice with the boss already because he spends more time talking on the phone than working.
Anita is in serious trouble at the university. Her grades are poor and unless she does well on her final exams, she may be skating on thin ice.
The children’s mother couldn’t stand many more of their demands. She told them that they were treading on thin ice because they were about to make her lose her temper.
The expression suggests how dangerous it is to tread (walk) or skate on ice that, although frozen, is not thick enough to support one’s weight.
29. OPEN MIND, (KEEP) AN to be willing to listen to and consider all sides of an issue; not to have made up one’s mind in advance
Julie’s father’s mind was made up not to let her have her own car. She said that he didn’t have an open mind about the matter, and that he had not given her a fair chance to persuade him.
I have almost decided to vote for the conservative candidate, but I’m still willing to listen to what the other candidates have to say. I’m trying to keep an open mind about all the candidates until election day.
Antonym: closed-minded. Open-minded and closed-minded generally refer to a person’s overall outlook or approach, whereas keep an open mind is used to describe one’s approach to one particular situation or topic.
30. PIECE OF CAKEsomething that is easy to do
When the children accidentally threw the ball on top of the roof, the gym teacher asked me to climb up and get it down. I told her it would be easy for me. It was a piece of cake.
When Roger studied Spanish, it was a piece of cake, but he found that learning Japanese was very hard.