List of L idioms:

Decorative logo with the text: idioms starting with the letter

This L idioms list is complete with definitions and several examples for each expression.  Each idiom on this list has a main word that begins with the letter "L." Don't worry, I've also provided the most frequently used idioms for words beginning with 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 L idioms.

L idioms

LABOR

a labor of love work that you do because you really enjoy it.  

  • Example:  Most people hate it but organizing my closet is a labor of love for me.

LAG

lag behind (someone/something):  to be behind the level or progress of someone/something else.  

  • Example:  During the entire race Stacy lagged behind the leaders but she drew even at the last 500 meters and passed everyone at the finish line.

LAND

land on one’s feet:  to be in a good or better situation after going through a difficult experience.  

  • Example:  Since I lived in a very small town my whole life, I was surprised how quickly I landed on my feet after.


LANGUAGE

speak the same language:  to share the same beliefs, ideas and opinions.  

  • Example:  I hate going to family reunions because no one speaks the same language and everyone.

LAP

fall into one’s lap:  to obtain or achieve something without working for it.  

  • Example:  I spent six months looking everywhere for a job and couldn’t find anything and then the week after I stopped looking a great job just fell into my lap.

LARGE

by and large:  mostly, generally.  

  • Example:  By and large, most of the kids at my school come from extremely conservative families but there are a few very liberal-minded kids like me.

LASH

lash out (at someone/something):  to angrily criticize or yell at someone/something.  

  • Example:  My coach lashed out at me today for being five minutes late to practice and I was shocked at how angry he was.

LAST

at (long) last:  after a long delay.  

  • Example:  At last spring is here—I thought winter was never going to end.


hear the last of someone/something:  to not have to deal with or interact with someone/something again.  

  • Example:  I decided to give the customer a full refund so I hope we’ve heard the last of her.

last but not least:  something that’s equally as important as other things even though it’s the last thing mentioned.  

  • Example:  And last but not least,  I want to thank my assistant for helping to organize this conference.

LATCH

latch on to someone/something to closely follow or be connected to someone or something.  

  • Example:  Whenever we go to the grocery store, my daughter latches onto me  because she got lost once before and is really scared of getting separated again.


LATE

better late than never it’s good that something happened now even though it would have been better if it happened earlier.  

  • Example:  The dress arrived after the dance but better late than never—I’ll wear it to the next event.


late in the day something that’s delayed a long time or almost too long.  

  • Example:  Don’t you think it’s a little late in the day to tell your ex-girlfriend you’re sorry?

LATEST

at the latest:  not later than a specified time.  

  • Example:  I will send the report to you at 5 o'clock today at the latest.

LAUGH

have the last laugh:  to be successful at something others thought you wouldn’t be able to do.  

  • Example:  No one believed I could become famous when I was in high school but I had the last laugh.


laugh at someone:  to tease or ridicule someone.  

  • Example:  All of the kids laugh at my friend  because she’s fat so I’m very protective of her.

laugh off something (laugh something off):  to act or pretend as if something isn’t important or doesn’t bother you.  

  • Example:  When the kids make fun of you, I suggest you just laugh it off and they’ll get bored of teasing you and bother someone else.

laugh all the way to the bank:  to be happy about earning a profit doing something.  

  • Example:  Most kids don’t want to babysit but it's good money and I’m laughing all the way to the bank.


LAUNCH

launch into someone:  to severely criticize someone.  

  • Example:  My parents launched into me  after I came home an hour late Saturday night.

launch into something to start doing something with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.  

  • Example:  We bought the kids some puzzles and they launched into them right after they open the boxes.


LAW

above the law:  not having to obey laws or rules.  

  • Example:  Many police officers think they are above the law even when they're off-duty.

lay down the law to instruct people about what they have to do in an authoritative way.  

  • Example:  My parents finally laid down the law and now none of us can use the Internet or telephones after 7:00 PM in the evening.


take the law into one’s own hands:  to punish someone based on one’s own idea of what’s right (often doing something illegal to punish someone).  

  • Example:  In this country we’re lucky that very few people try to take the law into their own hands.

LAY

lay into someone to yell at someone or attack them physically.  

  • Example:  Last night, I laid into my roommate for eating all my cookies.


lay off (something):  to stop doing or using something.  

  • Example:  If you’re on a diet, I suggest you lay off the potato chips.

lay somebody off (lay off someone):  to end a worker’s job (usually because of economic difficulties).  

  • Example:  I heard General Electric is going to lay off 1,000 workers this week.

layover (noun or verb):  to make a stop somewhere during travel.  

  • Example:  I’m just about to board a plane for the Philippines but I have a six-hour layover in Singapore and I’ll check email when I’m there.


LEAD

lead someone astray to negatively influence someone or cause him to make a mistake.  

  • Example:  My parents don’t want me to go away to college because they’re terrified someone will lead me astray.

lead off (something) / lead something off:  to start something.  

  • Example:  We’re going to lead the meeting off with a prayer and the first panel discussion will follow afterwards.


lead someone on to deceive someone and be dishonest (often to get something from them).  

  • Example:  My girlfriend was leading me on when she accepted my marriage proposal—in fact, she was only trying to make her old boyfriend jealous.

LEAF

leaf through something:  to turn the pages of a book, magazine or other written material briefly looking at the pages.  

  • Example:  When I was waiting for the doctor, I leafed through several magazines and found an interesting article about traveling by train through Switzerland.


take a leaf out of someone’s book to copy what someone else has done.  

  • Example:  You look amazing. I should take a leaf out of your book and lose 25 pounds.


turn over a new leaf:  to behave in a different way (usually an improved or better way).  

  • Example:  Every year on January 1st people try to turn over a new leaf and then stop trying after a week.

LEAGUE

in the same league (with/as someone or something):  having the same abilities, qualities or achievements as someone or something else.  

  • Example:  My girlfriend isn't in the same league as a supermodel but she's pretty close.


out of one’s league:  trying to do something that one isn’t prepared or qualified for or that isn’t right for the person.  

  • Example:  I tried to train for a marathon but it was out of my league—I’ve decided to start with the 10K race instead.

LEAN

lean on someone/something: 1) to depend on someone/something; 2) to try to pressure or force someone to do something.  

  • Example:  Good friends are people you can lean on when you’re sad and lonely.

lean over backwards:  to try very hard to do something.  

  • Example:  I leaned over backwards this semester to get good grades but I didn’t improve as much as I wanted.


LEAPS

(grow) by leaps and bounds:  to grow a lot very quickly.  

  • Example:  This summer it’s rained so much that our grass is growing by leaps and bounds.


LEASE

a new lease on life:  a new chance to be happy or successful after going through difficulties or hardships.  

  • Example:  Since he recovered from surgery he’s had a new lease on life and seems to be doing very well.


LEASH

keep someone on a tight leash (keep someone on a short leash):  to closely control someone’s actions and allow them very little freedom to do the things they want.  

  • Example:  It’s amazing she stays with that man when he always keeps her on a tight leash.

LEAST

at (the very) least:  1) at a minimum, no less than;  2) any way.  

  • Example:  At least 50 people will be at the conference but let’s make a reservation for 60 to be safe.

not in the least:  not in any way.  

  • Example:  Since we moved, our children have not been in the least happy because they miss their friends.


the least you can do (the least you could do):  something you should do.  

  • Example:  Even if you don't like the dinner your mother cooks, the least you can do is recognize the effort she made to prepare the food and thank her for that.

LEAVE

leave someone alone:  to not bother or annoy someone.  

  • Example:  Your daddy is in the study right now so please leave him alone and let him work.


leave something alone:  to not touch something; to not interact or get involved with something.  

  • Example:  Please leave the cake alone—after it cools I’m going to decorate it with icing.

leave someone hanging:  to keep someone waiting for information, a response, or a decision.  

  • Example:  I really wanted that job but they left me hanging for two months after the interview so eventually I accepted another offer.

leave someone high and dry:  to be in a difficult situation without any help or support.  

  • Example:  When I missed the last bus home I was left high and dry and had to walk home in the dark.

leave it at that:  to say or do nothing more about a situation.  

  • Example:  He broke off our engagement two days before the wedding, let’s leave it at that.


leave something open:  to keep something possible or available.  

  • Example:  Can you please leave the 15th-16th of December open for a possible management meeting?


leave out someone/something (leave something/someone out):  to not include someone or something.  

  • Example:  Do you realize you left your brother out of the rehearsal dinner before the wedding?

leave something to be desired:  to not be as good as you want it to be.  

  • Example:  It’s a beautiful apartment but the neighborhood leaves a lot to be desired

take leave:  to have approved time off from work.  

  • Example:  I’m trying to finish all of my work because I’m going to take leave next week.

LION

the lion's share:  the largest part (or share) of something.

  • I have to do the lion's share of my paper this weekend because I've also got a big exam next week to study for.
  • I gave my daughter her monthly allowance and I'm sure she'll spend the lion's share on new clothes.


LOG

sleep like a log:  to sleep very soundly (deeply)—so well that noises don't even wake you up. 

  • Example: sleep like a log everywhere: at the hospital, on the bus, even on the sofa while the tv's on and my kids are playing.


LOOK

look down on someone something:  to see something or someone as inferior.  

  • Example:  It's really sad how some people look down on others simply because of the amount of money they have.

look down one's nose at something:  to disapprove of someone or something or look at them as inferior. 

  • Example:  Many people do not marry outside their culture because they look down their noses on others and think their way of life is superior.


LUCK

get lucky:  1) to come into good fortune or luck; 2) to meet someone to have a casual sexual or romantic encounter with.

  • If I get lucky the washing machines downstairs will be empty and I'll be able to finish my laundry quickly.
  • My roommate buys drinks for girls at clubs every weekend but never gets lucky.
  • Watch out for that girl. She's not interested in dating you, she just wants to get lucky tonight.

third time lucky:  the third time you try to do something you succeed. 

  • Example:  I’m hopeful our team will be third time lucky because they've been practicing a lot and also learned a lot from the previous two losses against this team.


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