List of K Idioms:

This K idioms list is complete with definitions and examples. Learning idioms can be hard but if you "KEEP at it," "before you KNOW it" you'll learn lots of them!  Each idiom on this list has a main word that begins with the letter "K." If you're interested, I've also covered the other letters of the alphabet: click here to go to the main idioms page

Before we get started, remember that an idiom is a group of words whose meaning is different from the individual words if you looked them up separately in the dictionary. Now, let's take a look at the most popular K idioms.

K Idioms


keep abreast of something:  to get the most recent information about something.  

  • Example:  When you decide what countries you are going to visit, please let me know because I'd like to keep abreast of your travels.

keep after someone:  to repeatedly remind someone to do something.

  •  Example:  If your boss doesn't approve your request for a raise, keep after him until you get it because you deserve it.

keep at something to continue to do something.

  • Example:  If you keep at it and practice the guitar every evening, you're going to play very well at the end of the year.

keep someone down to discourage someone or prevent them from doing something.

  • Example:  No one can keep you down if you are determined to do something.

keep something down (keep down something):  1) to eat or drink something and not vomit afterwards. 2) to stop something from increasing.  

  • Example:  When I was very sick it was difficult for me to keep any food down and I lost a lot of weight.

keep someone posted to update or tell someone whatever new is happening about a situation.  

  • Example:  Please keep your mother and I posted during your trip and send us text messages each time you travel to a new city.

keep quiet about something to not talk about something.  

  • Example:  Yes, I knew they were getting divorced months ago but they asked me to keep quiet about it.

keep to something to continue to do something.  

  • Example:  How can you keep to a low calorie diet during the holidays? I always wait until after New Year’s to diet.

keep to oneself to stay by oneself and avoid other people.  

  • Example:  At conferences I usually keep to myself because I’m very shy about meeting new people.

keep something to oneself:  to not tell someone about something.  

  • Example:  If that’s your opinion I wish you would keep it to yourself next time instead of ruining the party.

keep up something (keep something up):  to continue to do something.  

  • Example:  Keep up that negative attitude and no one’s going to want to be around you.

for keeps:  to have something forever.  

  • Example:  “Are you loaning this to me?” “No, it’s yours for keeps.”


keyed up:  excited or nervous about something.  

  • Example:  My kids have been keyed up for Halloween ever since we bought their costumes.


get a kick out of something:  to really enjoy something.  

  • Example:  I really get a kick out of watching my two-year-old nephew—he’s so naughty.

kick in: 

1) to start to operate or become effective; 

  • Example:  Ugh! My allergies have kicked in and I'm so congested that I can hardly breathe.  

2) to contribute something (especially money). 

  • Example: I f you can kick in even 30% of the cost, I'll pay the rest.

kick oneself:  to be angry and/or annoyed with oneself.  

  • Example:  I could kick myself for not investing more into my retirement account when I was younger.

kick something around (kick around something):  to discuss something.  

  • Example:  We’re going to have an informal meeting this afternoon and just kick around ideas for the holiday party.

kick back:  to not do much of anything.  

  • Example:  When I go on vacation I prefer going around to see things but my husband only wants to kick back on the beach and relax.

kick off something:  to start something.  

  • Example:  They kicked off the meeting with a fun ice-breaking activity so everyone could get to know each other.


kid around:  to joke with someone.  

  • Example:  I really like my boss because he’s not that serious and likes to kid around with the rest of us.

the new kid on the block:  someone who’s recently arrived.  

  • Example:  I can’t wait until the next intern starts working on Monday — I’m tired of being the new kid on the block.


kill time:  to do something while waiting for something/someone.  

  • Example:  When I was waiting for my number to be called I killed time on Instagram and Facebook.

kill someone with kindness:  to be so nice to someone that they allow you to do or have something.  

  • Example:  Whenever I check in at the airport, I kill the customer service representatives with kindness and often I get upgrades on my flights.


make a killing:  to earn a lot of money very quickly.  

  • Example:  My brother thought he could make a killing selling CDs on the Internet but MP3 digital downloads became popular and no one wanted CDs anymore.


out of kilter:  not working properly.  Example:  Our coffee machine was out of kilter this morning so I had to have tea instead.


in kind:  in the same manner, with the same thing.  

  • Example:  Even when the kids at school are mean to you shouldn’t respond in kind.  

one of a kind:  the only item of its type (there isn’t another item like it).  

  • Example:  My engagement ring was handcrafted so it’s one of a kind.


not take kindly to something/someone to not be pleased by something/someone.  

  • Example:  I don’t take kindly to young people who speak to me by my first name at the grocery store.


kiss and make up:  to be friendly again after having an argument for disagreement.  

  • Example:  The best part of an argument is kissing and making up.

kiss and tell:  to talk about someone’s private information in public.  

  • Example:  She’s not my friend anymore—I didn’t think she was the type that would kiss and tell but that’s exactly what she did.

kiss something goodbye (kiss goodbye something):  to end or lose something.  

  • Example:  After your baby is born, you can just kiss a good night's sleep goodbye.


bring one/something to its knees:  to defeat or stop someone/something.  

  • Example:  A heart attack will bring a workaholic to their knees.


twist the knife:  to make a situation worse by saying or doing something.  

  • Example:  It was one thing to fire me, but to do it in front of everyone really twisted the knife.

(go) under the knife:  to have an operation or medical surgery.  

  • Example:  In Hollywood, it’s completely normal for women to go under the knife for cosmetic surgery after the age of 20.


knock it off:  to stop doing something annoying. (Used in spoken English)  

  • Example:  Knock it off! You’re making so much noise I can’t concentrate.

knock someone out (knock out someone) 1) to hit someone so hard they become unconscious;  2) to make someone go to sleep.  

  • Example:  Did you see the boxing match last night? Pacman knocked out Ricky Hatton in the second round.

knock someone up (knock up someone) (rude, slang):  to get someone pregnant.  

  • Example:  My brother knocked up his wife again—they already have six kids.


tie the knot:  to get married.  

  • Example:  We got engaged last year but we're not going to tie the knot until we graduate from school.


before you know it:  in a very short period of time.  

  • Example:  Before you know it, summer will be over and it will be time to go back to school.

in the know:  knowing more about something than other people.  

  • Example:  I recommend you contact my travel agent—she’s always in the know about last minute specials.

know better (than to do something) / not know any better:  to be smart enough to do the right thing or behave in an appropriate way.  

  • Example:  I can’t believe that you took all of these office supplies from your office—you should know better!

know where you stand to have a clear understanding of a situation or what someone thinks.  

  • Example:  I hate working for my new boss because I never know where I stand with him.

not know what hit you:  to be shocked and confused about something surprising that happens to you.  

  • Example:  When my husband left me two weeks after we got married I didn’t know what hit me.

not know where to turn:  to not know what to do in a situation.  

  • Example:  After I lost my job and my unemployment benefits ended, I didn’t know where to turn.

not know whether to laugh or cry:  to be very upset and frustrated about something.  

  • Example:  When the doctor’s office told me the first available appointment was five months later, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.


knuckle down:  to work very hard.  

  • Example:  It’s final exam week so I’ve got to knuckle down and finally start studying.

Have you signed-up for my free newsletter? I include an audio magazine article every month that's choc full of new vocabulary and idioms.

You can also find many idiom definitions in one of the online learner's dictionaries.

For English learners it's most important to focus on understanding  and remembering idioms. You don't have to worry about using them in speech, especially at the beginning. It's really easy to make mistakes.

It's still a good idea to practice writing your own sentences because this will help clarify your understanding of idioms and also help you remember them better. 

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