Idiom/Saying Explanation
To bring home the bacon.

For example:

"He felt it was his responsibility to bring home the bacon."
To earn a living for the family.

To balance the books.

For examples:

"The accountant couldn't work out the profit and loss until they had balanced the books."

To make certain that the amount of money spent is not more than the amount of money received.

A ball park figure.

For example:

"Until we had costed the project properly we were only able to give the customer a ball park figure."

A general financial figure.

A bean-counter.

For example:

"The bean-counters told us we had to reduce the budget."
An accountant
Blood on the carpet .

For example:

"After the meeting there was blood on the carpet. "
A lot of trouble in an organisation often resulting in someone losing their job.

The bottom line.

For example:

"When he told me the bottom line I decided not to go ahead with the project."


The total, the final figure on a balance sheet / the most important feature of something.


To break even.

For example:

"The company broke even after two years."


When expenses equal profits.


A cash cow.

For example:

"The new product has proved to be a real cash cow."

A product or service that makes a lot of money for a company.

Chief cook and bottle washer.

For example:

"If you want to set up your own business you have to be ready to be chief cook and bottle washer."

To be the person who is responsible for everything.
A big cheese.

For example:

"Anita Roddick is a big cheese in Body Shop."
An important person, a leader (usually about business).

To cold call.

For example:

"The sales rep cold called customers from the business directory.


To call potential customers without an appointment or previous contact.

To cook the books.

For example:

"We only made a profit last year because our accountant cooked the books."

To modify financial statements and accounting information, especially illegally.
"To crack the whip ."

For example:

"We finished the project on time, but only because I really cracked the whip."
To make someone work harder by threatening them.

A dead end job.

For example:

"She left the company because she was very ambitious but in a dead end job."

A job that has no chance of promotion or advancement.

To be fired

For example:

"He was always coming late, so eventually they fired him."

To be dismissed from your job.

A golden handshake.

For example:

"She won't have to find a job very quickly because she got a huge golden handshake from her last job."

To receive a large payment on leaving a company.

Jack / Jill of all trades (master / mistress of none).

This idiom can be negative or positive, depending on the context in which it is used.

For example:

"She can turn her hand to anything, she's a real Jill of all trades."

A person that is competent with many skills but is not outstanding in any particular one.

To get the sack

For example:

"He was always coming late, so eventually they sacked him."

To be dismissed from your job.

A close shave.

For example:

"I nearly crashed the car this morning, it was a close shave."

When you come extremely close to a dangerous or unpleasant situation or only just manage to avoid it.

To be snowed under

For example:

"She wasn't able to finish the report as she was snowed under with other work."

To be very busy.

To sweat blood.

For example:

"She sweated blood to finish the project on time."

To work very hard.
By the sweat of one's brow.

For example:

"She managed to keep the company going by the sweat of her brow. "
To work really hard.

To work your fingers to the bone.

For example:

"She kept the family together by working her fingers to the bone."


To work really hard.


More idioms and sayings