Idioms: Pairs of Adjectives
The adjectival idioms below are formed from pairs of prepositions, verbs nouns or adjectives. These pairs can be joined only by and; their order is fixed.
You should understand these expressions, know other ways of saying the same thing, and know which of these synonyms to use in a particular context. You can learn a lot about an idiom if you look at the context of its use. Try to guess the meaning of each idiom as it is used in the following sentences. Then, click on any idiom for complete explanations and examples, but be aware that these expressions may have other meanings not listed here. Remember: you can use Word Neighbors to find out how frequently any expression is used in English.
1. Tom had seen the movie three times before, so the outcome was rather cut and dried the fourth time.
2. In the difficult court case, the judge’s decision was fair and square for both sides.
3. It takes me a long time to save enough money for a nice vacation, so such trips are few and far between for me.
4. Workers who are not at all eager beavers have a work attitude which is free and easy.
5. When the Immigration Service learned that George’s wife was not a U.S. citizen, it declared the marriage null and void.
6. The maid took a long time to make the dirty kitchen spick-and-span.
7. The politician’s speech was surprisingly short and sweet; it only lasted ten minutes.
8. Three of the race horses were neck and neck all the way to the finish line.
9. The 40-mile swim put a lot of wear and tear on the swimmer’s body, but after a day’s rest she was up and about as usual.
10. The heart operation was so difficult that most of the time it was touch and go.