Let’s take a look at some of the most common business idioms and expressions used in English in alphabetical order. This page contains the idioms from H – L with picture examples.

Don’t forget to click on the links at the bottom for the rest.

business idioms and expressions beginning with H

Let’s kick this huge list off with common business idioms and expressions beginning with ‘H’.

  • hands are tied – you can’t do something because you don’t have the power/authority
    The headmaster wants him expelled. There is nothing I can do; my hands are tied.
  • have a good innings – had a long successful life/career
    Albert had a good innings, he deserves his retirement.
  • have a lot on one’s plate – have too much work/many things to deal with
    We can’t go on holiday this year, we’ve got too much on our plates.
  • have an ace up one’s sleeve – have a secret advantage
    I’ll get the job. I have an ace up my sleeve; my dad is friends with the boss.
  • have an axe to grind – have a complaint/dispute
    The boss has called an emergency meeting, I think he has an axe to grind.
  • have one’s back against the wall – you are in a difficult situation and have no other options
    I’m in so much debt, my back is against the wall. The bailiffs are coming tomorrow.
  • have one’s cake and eat it – enjoy two things that contradict each other
    You can’t have your cake and eat it. It’s uni or travelling, not both.
  • have one’s fingers in lots of pies – be involved in many different things
    She does yoga, Pilates, running and karate. That woman has her fingers in lots of pies.
  • have one’s foot in the door – start working for a company in a low position in the hope of getting promoted
    I’d love to get my foot in the door at Google.
  • have one’s work cut out – a hard/difficult job/task
    Our colleague is on holiday, so we have our work cut out this week.
  • have the floor – the person speaking in a discussion debate
    I’ve got a few more points to go through then you can have the floor
  • have the upper hand – gain an advantage
    My brother always has the upper hand when we fight. He is much bigger than me.
  • headhunt – persuade a person from another company to work for you
    I’m going to headhunt someone for the manager’s position. I need someone with experience
  • heads will roll – someone will get in trouble and be severely punished for doing something bad
    The case didn’t go to court as vital evidence was destroyed. Heads will roll.
  • hear through the grapevine – hear unofficial rumours/gossip
    I heard through the grapevine that three people were fired yesterday.
  • hit a home run – do something that is very successful
    Our latest product is selling like crazy. We’ve hit a home run.
  • hit a snag – an unexpected problem/issue/difficulty
    We’ve hit a snag. The car has broken down, I don’t think we’ll make it tonight.
  • hit the big time – become rich/famous/successful
    I’ve got a part in a Hollywood blockbuster, I’ve hit the big time.
  • hit the ground running – start and continue doing something with enthusiasm
    The team have hit the ground running. I predict at least 5 goals from them.
  • hit the right note – do/say something that is perfectly suitable for the situation
    Our adverts aren’t hitting the right note. We need to do some more research.
  • hold all the aces – have all the power/advantages
    If Kieron gets promoted, he’ll hold all the aces. He’ll be a nightmare to work for.
  • hold the fort – take responsibility as the person who is usually in charge is absent
    I`ve got to meet with the CEO at noon. Can you hold the fort for an hour?
  • hold your horses – wait and be patient before doing something
    Hold your horses. I need to read the contract in detail before I sign anything.
  • hotshot – an important/skilful/capable/successful person
    He’s a hotshot stockbroker. I trust him with my money.
  • household name – a person or object that is well known by the public
    My aim is to make my products household names by 2020.
  • hush money – a bribe to keep a secret
    My mistress is pregnant. I must give her £300 a month hush money or she’ll tell my wife.
business idioms in English - hands are tied
business idioms list - have a good innings
business idioms and expressions in English - have a lot on one’s plate
business expressions - have an ace up one’s sleeve
business idioms and expressions in English - have an axe to grind
business idiom - have one’s cake and eat it
business idioms list - have one's back against the wall
common business idioms - have one's fingers in lots of pies meaning
business idiom - have one's foot in the door meaning
common business idioms and expressions in English - have one's work cut out meaning
common business idiom - have the floor
business idioms list - have the upper hand meaning
business expressions list - headhunt meaning
business idiom - heads will roll meaning
business idioms and expressions in English - hear through the grapevine meaning
business idiom - hit a home run
business idiom - hit a snag
business idiom - hit the big time meaning
business idiom - hit the ground running
business expressions - hit the nail on the head meaning
business idiom - hit the right note
business expressions - hold all the aces meaning
business idioms list - hold the fort meaning
common business idiom - hold your horses meaning
business idiom - hotshot
business idiom - household name
business idiom - hush money

business expressions beginning with I

  • icing on the cake – something additional that makes a good situation even better
    Then fourth goal was the icing on the cake for the away side.
  • in a class of one’s own – much better than someone/something similar, nothing else compares
    My quadruple chocolate fudge cake is in a class of its own.
  • in a different league – much better at doing something
    Freddie is in a different league than the other boys. He’ll play in the Premiership one day.
  • in a nutshell – in a few words, brief
    Tell me the story in a nutshell, I have to go out.
  • in for the high jump – likely to be punished
    When I find out who slashed my tyres, they’ll be in for the high jump.
  • in full swing – operating fully, the level of activity is at its highest
    I love this time of year; the football season is in full swing.
  • in hot water – in a lot of trouble
    I’ll be in hot water with my parents when they find out I’ve been skipping school.
  • in it for the long haul – continue with something until the end/for a long time
    I’ve just got a job with a big company, I’m in it for the long haul.
  • in someone’s corner – give someone your full support
    He’s innocent, why am I the only one in his corner?
  • in stock – goods are available
    I hope the new Nintendo game I want is in stock.
  • in the black – have money, not be in debt
    This time next year I will have paid off all my debts and be in the black
  • in the driver’s seat – be in control
    Simon has left the project, I hope they put me in the driver’s seat.
  • in the pipeline – being planned, about to start
    Our band is gaining popularity, we have a new album and tour in the pipeline.
  • in the red – in debt
    My business is in the red. If I don’t start making money, it will go under.
  • in the running – a contender in a competition
    That song is amazing. It’s definitely in the running for Christmas number 1.
  • in the same boat – in the same situation as another person
    You should meet Jack. You’re both in the same boat, divorced with a kid.
  • in the same league – on the same level of skill (or not)
    Sally is quite good, but she’s not in the same league as Judy.
  • it’s a jungle out there – life is hard, it’s difficult to survive
    Stay safe on your travels. It’s a jungle out there.
business phrases - icing on the cake
business phrases - in a class of one’s own
business phrases - in a different league meaning
business idiom - in a nutshell
business sayings list - in for the high jump
common business idioms - in full swing
business idiom - in hot water
business idiom - in it for the long haul
business idiom - in someone's corner
business idiom - in stock
business idioms list - in the black meaning
business idiom - in the driver’s seat
business idiom - in the pipeline
business sayings and expressions in English - in the red meaning
business idiom - in the running
business sayings list- in the same boat meaning
business idiom - in the same league
common business idiomss and expressions in English - it’s a jungle out there meaning

business expressions beginning with J

  • jockey for position – try to get into a better position against your competitors
    All candidates are jockeying for position. They’re trying to get the most media coverage.
  • jump in feet first – do something quickly without hesitating or panicking
    Starting a new school is scary, jump in feet first and you’ll be fine.
  • jump on the bandwagon – join a popular trend or activity
    Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon and playing Pokémon Go.
  • jump ship – leave an organisation and move to another
    Did the CEO really jump ship or was he pushed?
  • jump the gun – do something before the appropriate time
    I asked her to move in with me. I think I jumped the gun, we’ve only been dating for 2 months.
  • jump through hoops – complete many difficult challenges in order to achieve something
    My friend has been jumping through hoops to get us tickets to Beyoncé.
  • jump to conclusions – decide before you have all the facts
    Hayley is always jumping to conclusions. She gets herself into so much trouble.
business idiom - jockey for position
business idiom - jump in feet first
business idiom - jump in with both feet meaning
business idioms list - jump on the bandwagon
business idiom - jump ship
business idiom - jump the gun
business idioms and expressions in English - jump through hoops meaning
business idiom - jump to conclusions

business expressions beginning with K

  • keep in the dark – unaware, uninformed
    Why are they keeping me in the dark? I want to know how serious the accident was.
  • keep one’s eye on the ball – stay focused
    We ned to keep out eye on the ball, our final exams start in a month.
  • keep one’s head above water – survive in difficult times, especially with money
    The first part of the year was difficult, now we’re keeping our heads above water.
  • keep one’s nose to the grindstone – continuously work hard
    You’ve kept your nose to the grindstone all year. You deserve a juicy bonus.
  • keep someone in the loop – inform someone of the latest news/plans/details etc.
    As long as I’m kept in the loop, I don’t mind how you run the project.
  • keep someone on their toes – be alert, focused, concentrate or ready for anything to happen
    The CEO is coming on Tuesday, you all need to be on your toes.
  • keep someone posted – regularly give someone the most recent news
    Maria has gone into labour, we’ll keep you posted.
  • keep the ball rolling – maintain the momentum/progress
    Ernie founded the charity before he passed. It’s up to us to keep the ball rolling.
  • kick into touch – stop something happening/succeeding
    Our plans for a new home have been kicked into touch now I’m unemployed.
  • kick something around – discuss ideas
    The meeting went on forever. We were kicking around ideas but couldn’t agree on anything.
  • know the score – be aware of what is going on even if you don’t like it
    He knows the score. If he wants drugs, I want money first.
  • knuckle down – stop fooling around and start working hard
    I’m going to knuckle down this year. I don’t want to fail again
business idiom - keep in the dark
business idioms list - keep one’s eye on the ball
common business idioms - keep one’s head above water meaning
business idiom - keep one’s nose to the grindstone meaning
business idiom - keep someone in the loop
business idiom - keep someone on their toes
business idiom - keep someone posted
business idiom - keep the ball rolling meaning
business idiom - kick into touch
business idiom - kick something around
business idiom - know the score
business idioms list - knuckle down meaning

business expressions beginning with L

  • lame duck – useless, ineffective
    All my boyfriends turn out to be lame ducks.
  • land on one’s feet –  be lucky/successful especially in difficult times
    After being rejected numerous times, Ollie has landed on his feet and works for Microsoft.
  • last/final straw – the final annoyance that makes someone lose their temper
    I found my husband on a dating site. That was the last straw, we’re over.
  • lay of the land – the current situation
    I’m going to figure out the lay of the land before I decide to invest.
  • learn the ropes – learn the basic principles of a particular job/task/activity
    I’ve been learning the ropes from my dad, he’s a good teacher.
  • learning curve – the process of progressing, gaining experience and learning from mistakes
    Don’t be too hard on the apprentice, she’s at the beginning of a big learning curve.
  • leave no stone unturned – try every way possible to achieve something
    We’ll leave no stone unturned in the hunt for the missing teenager.
  • leave the door open – the possibility of something happening in the future
    I don’t want to do the course yet; can you leave the door open for me?
  • legwork – long boring tasks that have to be done as part of a job
    Mia has done all the legwork. She’s gathered 2000 reports and put them on a spreadsheet.
  • let the side down – disappoint your friends/family/colleagues
    I want you all playing your best. If you let the side down, you’re out of the team.
  • level playing field – equal/fair conditions for everyone involved
    The favourites have had two players sent off, it’s now a level playing field.
  • license to print money – something with high profits and little effort
    Renting the 6 flats I own is a license to print money.
  • line of work – the type of work a person does to earn money
    My line of work is very dangerous, but the pay is great.
  • lion’s share – the majority
    Jay gave the lion’s share of his lottery win to charity.
  • long shot – a guess/bet/suggestion with little chance of success
    I’ve put £10 on Tottenham to win the league. It’s a long shot, but they’re my team.
  • loophole – evade a law/rule/contract etc.
    I’m looking for a loophole in the tax law, I pay way too much.
  • lose ground – fall behind, fail to keep one’s position
    The Lib Dems have lost ground, it’ll be interesting to see the results of the next election.
  • low blow – an unfair attack
    Don’t humiliate him in front of his new girlfriend, it’s a low blow.
Business idioms and expressions - lame duck meaning
business idiom - land on one’s feet
business expressions - last straw
business idiom - last-ditch attempt meaning
business expressions - laugh all the way to the bank
business expressions - lay of the land meaning
Business idioms and expressions - learn the ropes
business idiom - throw a curveball
Business idioms and expressions - leave no stone unturned
business idiom - leave the door open
business expressions - legwork meaning
business idiom - let the side down
Business idioms and expressions - level playing field
business idiom - license to print money
Business idioms and expressions - line of work
business expressions - lion's share meaning
business idioms and expressions in English - long shot
business expressions - loophole meaning
Business idioms and expressions - lose ground meaning
business idiom - low blow