Idiom Meanings

A blackboard background with the message: A list of common English idioms starting with the letter "D"

Idiom meanings are sometimes easy to understand and sometimes they are very difficult. An idiom is a group of words whose meaning is different from the individual words if you looked them up separately in the dictionary. 

This list of English idioms begin with the letter D! You can find other idioms here at the main page of idiom meanings on this site.

Note: Each idiomatic expression does not always start with the letter “D.” This list is organized to  include English idioms whose main subject or action word starts with the letter “D.” (The main word is written below in all capital letters. For example, DEPTH: this is an in-depth list of idiom meanings starting with the letter "D.")

Idiom meanings starting with letter "D"


shoot daggers at someone:  to look at someone in a very angry way. 

  • Example:  When my daughter told everyone I was celebrating my 70th birthday I shot daggers at her.


keep someone in the dark:  to not tell someone something or give them information they need.  

  • Example:  I wish my boss would stop keeping me in the dark and be clear about what is happening with the project funding.


bring someone up-to-date:  to give someone the most recent information about something.

  • Example:  If you have time later I’ll bring you up-to-date about the proposal.

bring something up-to-date:  to make changes to something so that it includes the most recent information. 

  • Example:  Please add these new figures to the proposal to bring it up-to-date.

keep (someone/something) up-to-date to continue giving or adding the most relevant information. 

  • Example:  I’d appreciate it if you'd keep me up-to-date on your travel plans.

to date:  to or until this time. 

  • Example:  To date, we haven’t received any complaints about our new service.


dawn on someone:  to suddenly understand, to be clear to someone. 

  • Example:  It finally dawned on my wife that our youngest child was taking money from her purse.


a day late and a dollar short:  not enough and too late to be of use. 

  • Example:  My boyfriend’s promises to finally spend more time with me were a day late and a dollar short so I broke up with him.

as plain as day:   very clear and easy to understand. 

  • Example:  If you don’t know how to use the machine read the directions. The manual is as plain as day.

call it a day:  to finish something. 

  • Example:  We’ve been working for five hours and everyone's tired. I say let’s call it a day.

day after day several days continuously repeated. 

  • Example:  Day after day I went to the Apple Store to try to get the new iPhone. After two weeks, I decided to order one online.

day and night (night and day):  all of the time. 

  • Example:  I haven’t slept all week because my neighbor’s new baby cries day and night.

day by day:  each day. 

  • Example:   Day by day he’s getting better but it will be several months before his leg is completely healed.

day in and day out:  every day repeatedly. 

  • Example:  He works day in and day out so I never see him anymore.

from day one from the beginning. 

  • Example:  My husband hated my father from day one so spending time with my family is difficult.

in this day and age:  at this time. 

  • Example:  In this day and age, spending several dollars for a cup of coffee is not unusual but no one would do that 30 years ago.

just another day:  a day like every other day. 

  • Example:  It was just another day at school: the teachers were boring and the students didn’t listen.

late in the day:  happening almost too late. 

  • Example:  It was late in the day but we got to the store just before it closed.

make someone’s day:  to make someone very happy. 

  • Example:  My father sent my mother flowers and it really made her day.

not someone’s day:  a difficult day with a lot of problems. 

  • Example:  It’s not my day. There was lots of traffic, I was late for work, my boss yelled at me and I got a parking ticket.

one day (some day):  a time in the future. 

  • Example:  One day you’ll make enough money to buy your own home and move out of here.

save something for a rainy day to keep something for a future time when it will be needed.  

  • Example:  I got a gift card for my birthday but I’m not going to use it now. I'll save it for a rainy day.

save the day solving a big problem for someone. 

  • Example:  I was really sick and couldn’t study last night but my girlfriend saved the day  and wrote my English essay for me.

the other day:  a recent time ago. 

  • Example:  The other day I saw my high school teacher and she’s doing great.

at the end of the day:  after everything else has been considered, in the final analysis; finally. 

  • Example:  I can give suggestions but at the end of the day it's your decision.

in broad daylight:  in a way or place that anyone can see what’s happening. 

  • Example:  The kids threw eggs at the car in broad daylight but surprisingly no one saw them.

someone’s/something’s days are numbered:  someone or something will not exist or function in a short time from now. 

  • Example:  I’ve had these boots for three years and I love them but their days are numbered.

has seen better days something is no longer in good condition. 

  • Example: My computer has seen better days so I’m thinking about getting a new one.

one of those days:  a bad or difficult day. 

  • Example:   It’s not a good time to talk to her. She’s having one of those days.

those were the days:  looking fondly at or happily remembering a time in the past. 

  • Example:  I really wish people would still send letters through the post—those were the days.


dead set against something:  determined not to do or support something. 

  • Example:  I wanted my daughter to go to an Ivy League school but she was dead set against it.

in the dead of winter:  during the coldest part of the winter. 

  • Example:  I hate waking up in the dark in the dead of winter and having to get out of my warm bed.


a done deal:  a decision that has been reached. 

  • Example:  I thought going to the movies this evening was a done deal but now you say we're not going?

a great deal (of something):  a large amount of something. 

  • Example:  I have a great deal of respect for my supervisor because she’s very honest and supportive.

a big deal:  something very important. 

  • Example:  Your lying to me is big deal and I’m not going to forget it.

cut a deal:  to make a special agreement with someone. 

  • Example:  Let’s cut a deal. If you do my homework, I’ll clean your room.


bore someone to death:  to not be interesting or be very boring to someone. 

  • Example:  The movie bored me to death so I fell asleep in the theater.

love someone to death: to care for someone very strongly. 

  • Example:  I loved him to death but he didn’t love me the same way so I stopped dating him.

scare someone to death:  to really frighten someone. 

  • Example:  My husband’s drinking every single night is really scaring our kids to death.

scare (someone) to death:  to be very frightened. 

  • Example:  My boyfriend is scared to death that my mother won’t like him but I know she will.

tickle (someone) to death:  to be very amused or think something’s very funny. 

  • Example:  Our new puppy tickles us to death because he’s always doing something naughty.


deck (someone/something) out:  to decorate something in a special way. 

  • Example:  Makeup, jewelry and a dress? Why are you all decked out tonight?

hit the deck:  to drop to the ground and lay down to avoid some type of danger. 

  • Example:  When we heard gunshots at the shopping mall everyone hit the deck.

stack the deck against someone:  to make arrangements so it’s very difficult for somebody to achieve something. 

  • Example:  I wanted to succeed at my new job but my boss stacked the deck against me. He had wanted to hire another candidate but the hiring panel chose me instead.

clear the decks:  finish up less important tasks so that a more important project can be started. 

  • Example:  Our boss asked us to clear the decks because we have an important new project starting next week.


in demand:  something that is needed or desired. 

  • Example:  What kinds of new graduates are in demand with private companies these days?

on demand:  at any time something is needed. 

  • Example:  On international flights most movies are on demand so it’s easy to be entertained when you travel.


make a dent in something:  to make some progress in something. 

  • Example:  I have to read a 653-page book for English and after reading for three hours, I hardly made a dent in it.


in depth:  in great detail or completely. 

  • Example:  There are lots of guided bus tours that go to five or six different countries but I prefer to see one country in depth.

out of one’s depth:  not knowing a lot about something. 

Example:  I took several yoga classes at my gym but when I went to the yoga retreat I was out of my depth.


dog eat dog:  ruthless competition where people will do anything (even harm other people) to succeed at doing something. 

  • Example:  Good luck working in sales—I hear it's a dog eat dog world.

rain cats and dogs:  to rain heavily without stopping. 

  • Example:  I forgot my umbrella so I'll wait here at the office until it stops raining so hard. It's really raining cats and dogs right now.


in the doghouse:  in trouble or in a situation where someone is upset or angry with you for some reason. 

  • Example:  I forgot our anniversary so now I'm really in the doghouse.


drink like a fish:  to drink too much alcohol at one time. 

  • Example:  We're really concerned because Sam's been drinking like a fish at least 4-5 nights each week.


a drop in the bucket:  a very small or unimportant amount when compared to something else. 

  • Example:  The number of sit ups and pull ups you did today are just a drop in the bucket of what you'll be able to do five months from now.


get / have one's ducks in a row:  get well prepared or organized for something that's going to happen. 

  • Example:  I highly recommend we get our ducks in a row before we travel to Africa.


down in the dumps:  sad, unhappy, discouraged and/or depressed. 

  • Example:  We flew across the country for sunny weather but it's been raining the entire holiday and we all feel down in the dumps.

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