English idioms list

Decorative logo image with the text: Idioms starting with the letters

This English idioms lists includes expressions which have a main word that begins with the letters "X, Y or Z." If you want to learn idioms that start with other letters of the alphabet: click here to go to the main idioms page

An idiom is a group of words whose meaning is different from the individual words if you looked them up separately in the dictionary. Here are the most common idioms beginning with these letters - and you'll immediately notice that there are very few idioms that have a main word beginning with "X." This is not surprising since there aren't many words that start with the letter "X."

X Idioms


x marks the spot:  an “x” is used to show the exact location (spot) of something.

  • Example:  As you can see on the diagram, x marks the spot where the murder occurred.


Y Idioms

YEAR(S)

year after year:  every year for many years.

  • Example:  Year after year, my kids give me ugly ties as Christmas gifts.

year in, year out:  every year for many years.

  • Example:  He worked at the company year in, year out for decades before he was laid off.

(all) year round during the whole year, happening all year.

  • Example:  Most people only eat roast turkey and stuffing on Thanksgiving and Christmas but we keep it on the menu all year round at our restaurant.


in years:  in a long time.

  • Example:  I hadn’t seen my high school English teacher in years but she looks exactly the same.

getting on in years:  becoming old.

  • Example:  My mom is getting on in years so we’re building an extra room in our house for her.


YELL

yell bloody murder:  to scream really loudly.

  • Example:  When the thief tried to grab my bag, I yelled bloody murder and he let go and ran away.

YES

yes man:   someone who always agrees with authority (always says “yes”).

  • Example:  My boss is a total yes man so now we have an impossible sales target from upper management.


YOU, YOU’RE, YOURSELF

you can say that again:  you strongly agree with something someone said.

  • Example:  A: "This pie is delicious." B: "You can say that again."


you can’t take it with you:  enjoy life today because you can’t take your money or possessions with you when you die.

  • Example:  Why don’t you ever drive your sports car? You can’t take it with you, ya know.

you can’t teach an old dog new tricks:  An idea that older people can't learn new skills or learn how to do new things.

  • Example:  My grandfather has 5,000 followers on Twitter and Instagram—who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

you get what to pay for:  the price of something usually equals its quality (especially cheap things are of low quality).

  • Example:  It’s true you get what you pay forthis $239 laptop is unbelievably slow.


you’re toast:  you’re in trouble.

  • Example:  You’re toast when your mom finds out you ruined her blouse.

by yourself:  all alone.

  • Example:  If you just want to be by yourself, why don’t you say so?


keep something to yourself:  Keeping or having something only for you.

  • Example:  If that’s what you really believe, I suggest you keep your opinions to yourself.


yours truly:  me, myself. 

  • Example:  "Wow, who cooked all this good food?" "Yours truly."

Z Idioms

ZERO

zero in on something:  to focus or pay attention to one particular thing.

  • Example:  I think you should zero in on chapter two because it’s the most relevant for your situation.

ZIP

zip one's lips:  to be silent; to not tell a secret (as if the lips were zipped with a zipper so the person cannot talk).

  • Example:  I’m going to resign in two weeks but zip your lips please!


ZONE

zone out:  to not pay attention to things happening around you.

  • Example:  As soon as my boyfriend talks about sports, I automatically zone out.

ZOOM

zoom in on something:  to examine or look at something more closely.

  • Example:  Zoom in on that part of the map; I think I recognize that area.


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