List of M Idioms:

Decorative logo image with the text: idioms starting with the letter "M"

This list of M idioms includes a lot of examples to help you understand the meaning of these expressions. Are you afraid of using idioms? One of my former students told me that idioms actually "MADE her sick." By the end of our lesson I persuaded her that she was "MAKING something out of nothing."

It's just a "MATTER of learning phrases," because you don't have to use idioms a lot in English. "As a MATTER of fact," you just need to understand them when other people use them. "For that MATTER," you can express the same meaning without using idioms.

However, you DO need to understand them.

So here's a list to get you started on some of the most frequently-used M idioms. As you can see, the main  word in the idiom starts with the letter "M." 

(By the way: If you're interested, I've also covered the other letters of the alphabet: click here to go to the main idioms page.)

M idioms


made for each other:  a perfect match;  things that go very well together.

  • Example:  Mmm, I think bread and cheese are made for each other.


make believe:  to pretend.

  • Example:  When I was a kid I used to make believe I was a dog and I even ate from my dog’s dish a few times.

make do:  to use the things that you have even though it is not what you want or need.

  • Example:  The photocopier jammed so we will just have to make do with the copies that we have.

make for something:  to produce a result.

  • Example:  Upgrading to business class makes for a completely different experience than traveling in economy class.

make good on something:  to keep a promise;  to do what you say you’re going to do.

  • Example:  Thankfully, my sponsors all made good on their pledges of support for my 10k race.

make it:  1) to be successful;  2) to go to an event or place.


  1. When my first book proposal was accepted by a publisher, I knew I’d made it as a writer. 
  2. Can you make it to my party Saturday?

make it big:  to achieve great success at something;  to become famous.

  • Example:  I wonder if we will still be friends when you make it big in Hollywood.

make it up to someone to do something nice or good to compensate for something you did wrong or failed to do.

  • Example:  I'm sorry I missed your softball game. I'll make it up to you by taking your team out for ice cream after your next game.

make light of something to consider something as less important or serious than it actually is.

  • Example:  My mom tried to make light of my breaking her china bowl but I know that it was really special to her.

make off with something:   to steal something.

  • Example:  I had a party Friday night and one of the guests made off with several of my bracelets.

make or break something:  to cause something to succeed or fail.

  • Example:   This internship at the law firm this summer will make or break my opportunity to join a big firm after graduation.

make over someone/something (make someone/something over):  to improve the way someone or something looks.

  • Example:  They made me over at the shopping mall today and I ended up spending $250 on cosmetics that I don’t need.

make someone sick:  to make someone appalled, shocked or disgusted.

  • Example:  I can’t believe you ate that entire bucket of fried chicken—you make me sick.

make something out of nothing:  make something more important or serious than it really is. 

  • Example:  My stomach really hurts but I don’t want to tell my mom because she always makes something out of nothing and will insist I go to the doctor’s office.

make something up (make up something):  1) to create a story or tell a lie about something;  2) to take time to do something you should have done earlier.

  • I had no idea what the answer was for the test so I just made something up.
  • My parents are taking us on a trip so my math teacher is letting me make the math test up  on the following Wednesday.

make up to become friendly after an argument or dispute.

  • Example:  I’m really happy my best friend and I made up after our argument last week. I really felt lonely and sad the past week.

make up something:  to form part of something or a group.

  • Example:  The four of us make up a string quartet and we play at area hospitals, nursing homes and private parties.

make up for something:  to take the place of something else.

  • Example:  I’m really sorry I can’t be there for your birthday. I will make up for it by taking you out to dinner this weekend.

what makes someone tick:  the reasons for someone’s behavior.

  • Example:  I wonder what makes my father-in-law tick.  He never says anything and shows little emotion.


in the making in progress; in the process of creating something.

  • Example:  I went to President Obama’s inauguration because I wanted to see history in the making.

of one’s own making:  something caused by one’s own actions.

  • Example:  Yes, your boss is a tyrant but the things that led to your dismissal were of your own making.

have all the makings of something:  have all the qualities of something that could happen.

  • Example:  This beautiful weather and the gorgeous sunset have all the makings of a romantic evening.


a man of few words:  a person who does not talk a lot, only when he has something important to say.

  • Example:  My father isn’t shy at all—he’s just a man of few words.

a man of his word:  a person who is honest and does what he says he will do.

  • Example:  I hated being married to my ex-husband but he is a good father and a man of his word.

every man for himself:  each person does what is best for himself.

  • Example:  There is no team spirit in this office; it’s definitely every man for himself.

man enough (to do something) to be strong or brave enough for something.

  • Example:  If you were man enough to tell your boss you are worth more money he’d give you a raise.


map out something (map something out):  to create a detailed plan for something.

  • Example:  During the next hour we need to map out the topics and production schedule for the newsletter for the rest of the year.

put something on the map:  to make something famous.

  • Example:  This is the song and video that put Britney Spears on the map.


hit the mark:  to be correct, to reach a goal or be successful.

  • Example:  I hope to hit the mark with this new technology for water purification.

leave one’s/it’s mark (on someone/something):  to have a positive effect on something that is memorable.

  • Example:  I’m hoping to leave my mark on this school by creating a great drama department.

make one’s mark:  to be successful and famous doing something.

  • Example:  I plan to make my mark by writing the next great American novel.

mark down something (mark something down):  to lower the price of something. 

  • Example:  I actually bought two pairs of shoes because they were marked down to $49.99 from $129.00.

mark up something (mark something up):  1) to raise the price of something. 2) to make corrections or changes to a document.

  • These are not real sales. They simply mark up the price, cross it off and write in something lower that they call the “sale” price.
  • I’ve marked up this report with my changes so please try to make the corrections in the next few hours.

off the mark:  not accurate or wrong.

  • Example:  His comments were off the mark—or else recent studies have proven his theory wrong.


in the market for something:  interested in or looking to buying something.

  • Example:  I’m in the market for a different apartment so please let me know if you hear of anything.

on the market:  available to have or purchase.

  • Example:  I heard your ex-girlfriend is on the market again after her latest boyfriend dumped her.


a marriage made in heaven:  a perfect marriage.

  • Example:  If I can't have a marriage made in heaven, I prefer to get divorced than stay in an unhappy relationship.


a match made in heaven:  a perfect match, something that goes perfectly with something else.

  • Example:  Your grandparents were a match made in heaven,  weren’t they?

meet one’s match:  to find someone who is equal in ability, skill, etc.

  • Example:  My brother always thought girls weren’t as smart but when he met his girlfriend he finally met his match.


a matter of doing something:  something that must be done.

  • Example:  Organizing this house is a matter of throwing away most of the things that you don’t use anymore.

a matter of life and death:  something that is very serious and important.

  • Example:  Your father is in an important meeting. Is it a matter of life and death or can he call you back in an hour?

a matter of time:  something will eventually happen or become true.

  • Example:  Your paintings are incredible. It’s only a matter of time before you become famous.

as a matter of fact:  actually, in reality, in truth.

  • Example:  As a matter of fact, I am going to see that movie tonight so please don’t tell me any more about it and spoil the ending.

for that matter:  besides, in addition.

  • Example:  If you don’t like school then why are you enrolling in college and taking out student loans for that matter.

no laughing matter:  something that is serious and not a joke.

  • Example:  Throwing a pencil at your teacher is no laughing matter and therefore we’ve decided to give you a 3-day suspension.

no matter (what/how/when, etc.):  without considering.

  • Example:  I will be there on Sunday no matter what the weather.


max out (max something out):  to reach the limit of something.

  • Example:  I think I’ll just read a book; I’m maxed out on watching television for a while.

to the max to the largest or highest degree of something.

  • Example:  I love One Direction to the max.


me neither:  and I also am not, I also would not.

  • Example:  “I don’t think I have time to go home and change clothes before the party.” “Me neither.”

me, too:  and I am also, I would also.

  • Example:  “I ride my bike to work every day, even when it’s raining.” “Really? Me, too!”


mean well to have a good or helpful intention.

  • Example:  I’m sure your daughter meant well when she tried to wash your phone.

mean business to be serious about something.

  • Example:  My father threatened so many times to take away my phone and nothing happened but last night he meant business and confiscated my phone.


a means to an end:  something that is done to obtain or achieve something else.  Example:  Going to college used to be a means to an end for young girls to find their future husbands.

(live) beyond one’s means more than one’s budget or the amount of money that they have.  Example:  Credit cards make it possible for so many people to live beyond their means.

by all means:  definitely, certainly.

  • Example:  By all meansstop by to see us—we will be around all weekend.

by no means:  not in any way. 

  • Example:  By no means am I going to my ex-boyfriend’s wedding—why did he invite me?

(live) within one’s means:  within a person’s budget or the amount of money that they have.

  • Example:  After my husband lost his job, we learned the hard way how to live within our means.


in the meantime:  at the same time something is happening or during the interval between things that are happening. 

  • I have to get dinner ready so please do your homework in the meantime.
  • We will have your car fixed by Tuesday evening and in the meantime you can use one of our courtesy cars free of charge.


for good measure:  something added to something else that has already been done.

  • Example:  I’ve cooked a pork roast for our dinner tonight as well as grilled stuffed Portobello mushrooms for good measure in case anyone’s vegetarian.

measure up (to someone/something):  to be as good as someone or something else. 

  • Example:  My father never thought I’d measure up as a businessman because I was so shy and timid but I’ve been more successful than he is.


meet someone halfway:  to compromise with someone by doing half or a good part of what they want.

  • Example:  My roommates would never meet me half way with cleaning so I finally got my own place.

meet up (with someone):  to see someone in person or join someone for an activity.

  • Example:  I’m going to meet up with some of my old classmates after work if you want to join me.

make ends meet:  to have enough money to pay for the basic necessities.

  • Example:  After I lost my job I didn’t have enough to make ends meet so I had to sleep on my sister’s couch and eat lots of spaghetti.


melt away:  to disappear or fade away as if it is melting.

  • Example:  The moon melted away into the thick clouds.


money doesn't grow on trees:  it requires effort to earn money and it is limited so you must be careful how you spend it.

  • If you want to buy a new Michael Kors purse you'll have to pay for it yourself. Money doesn't grow on trees,  you know.
  • When young people get their first credit cards they have to often learn that money doesn't grow on trees.

a money pit:  something that costs a lot of money over time (more money than was first expected).

  • This old car is a money pit so I'm saving my money to buy a new car in the fall.
  • We joined the country club and it's a real money pit.  There are fees for everything but we wanted our kids to have the right social connections and opportunities to swim, and play tennis and golf.


(be) over the moon:  to be extremely happy or pleased.

  • I'll be over the moon when you get a job and move into your own apartment.
  • I was over the moon when I received the invitation to your wedding. I'm so excited for you!


foam at the mouth to be extremely angry.

  • I recommend you let him foam at the mouth for a few hours then try to talk to him when he's calmed down.
  • My ex-husband constantly foamed at the mouth and I finally had to leave him because it was frightening and stressful.

straight from the horse's mouth:  directly from the person who knows the most about the matter; someone who knows the facts.

  • I won't believe she's leaving the company until I hear it straight from the horse's mouth.
  • Yesterday, I had a meeting with Professor Jones so I heard that no one passed the macroeconomics exam straight from the horse's mouth.

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