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 M – R with picture examples.


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

business idioms and expressions beginning with M

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

  • make a killing
    meaning – make lots of money
    example – I converted an old barn into lots of flats, I made a killing.
  • make hay while the sun shines
    meaning – make the most of an opportunity while you have the chance
    example – I’ll make hay while the sun shines and listen to all my favourite cheesy songs. My husband won’t be back until the evening.
  • make one’s bed and lie in it
    meaning – face the consequences of one’s actions
    example – I told you not to use those cheap plumbers, you made your bed.
  • man/woman of the world
    meaning – a sophisticated/wise person with lots of life experience
    example – Kira is a woman of the world, she doesn’t need your help.
  • mean business
    meaning – very serious and determined about something
    example – I’ve just bought a new suit and briefcase to show everyone I mean business.
  • meet halfway
    meaning – compromise, often in an argument
    example – I’ll meet you halfway. If you agree to pay for the broken window, I won’t involve the police.
  • meet one’s match
    meaning – your opponent is as good as you
    example – The new guy Liam is a real joker. Alex has finally met his match.
  • miss the boat
    meaning – miss an opportunity
    example – Ask her out now she’s newly single, you don’t want to miss the boat again.
  • mix business with pleasure
    meaning – do something that brings together working life with personal life
    example – I’m meeting my client at the golf house. I can mix business with pleasure.
  • money spinner
    meaning – a business/project/idea that makes a lot of money
    example – Nick has thought of a great money-spinning idea.
  • monkey business
    meaning – mischievous behaviour
    example – I’m away on business next week. Make sure there is no monkey business whilst I’m gone.
  • mountain to climb
    meaning – facing a very difficult task/challenge
    example – The new president is doing a great job, but he still has a mountain to climb.
  • move heaven and earth
    meaning – work very hard to achieve something
    example – Lawrence is a good chap. He’ll move heaven and earth to finish the project on time.
  • move in the same circles
    meaning – associate/socialise with similar people/organisations
    example – I know Janine. We move in the same circles, she’s a lawyer too.
    move mountains
    meaning – be able to achieve very difficult things
    example – I believe our world cup squad can move mountains this year.
  • move the goalposts
    meaning – change the rules/parameters to make a situation more difficult
    example – I met the conditions, but they refused my proposal. They can’t keep moving the goalposts.
  • mover and shaker
    meaning – a powerful person in a particular area/field/activity
    example – I made friends with some movers and shakers of the music industry.
  • multitask
    meaning – do multiple tasks/jobs at the same time
    example – My husband can’t multitask. He burnt the toast and sent the boy to nursery in a frock.
business idioms and expressions in English - make a killing meaning
business idioms list - make hay while the sun shines
common business idioms - make one’s bed and lie in it meaning
business idioms list - man-woman of the world
corporate idioms/business idiom - mean business definition
business idiom - meet halfway
business idioms and expressions - meet one’s match
business idioms and expressions in English - miss the boat meaning
corporate idioms - business idioms list - mix business with pleasure
common business idioms - money-spinner meaning
business idioms and expressions - monkey business
business idiom - mountain to climb
business idioms and expressions - move heaven and earth meaning
business phrases - move in the same circles meaning
business idioms and expressions in English - move mountains
business idiom - move the goalposts
common business idiom - mover and shaker
business idiom - multitask

business idioms and expressions beginning with N

  • name of the game
    meaning – essential/important aspects for success
    example – I love the Hunger games; the name of the game is survival.
  • nine to five
    meaning – a routine office job
    example – I love having a routine and working nine to five.
  • nitty-gritty
    meaning – the most important/fundamental factors
    example – We started the class with a song, but we soon got down to the nitty-gritty.
  • no holds barred
    meaning – no rules/restrictions
    example – I went to a no holds barred wrestling match. It was brutal, one guy got his ear bitten off.
  • no strings attached
    meaning – an offer that has no limitations/conditions/restrictions
    example – I found a job working from home. It’s £500 a week, no strings attached.
  • no sweat
    meaning – easy, require little effort
    example – Calum said he can bench press 80 kg no sweat. I think he’s lying.
  • no-brainer
    meaning – something that requires little thought/mental effort
    example – My decision to fire that idiot was a no-brainer.
  • not by a long shot
    meaning – not at all
    example – I haven’t finished decorating my house yet. Not by a long shot.
  • no-win situation
    meaning – a situation where there is no chance of success
    example – I’m in a no-win situation. Leave my job and have no money or stay and be unhappy.
  • number cruncher
    meaning – perform calculations, do maths
    example – I’m a number cruncher for a top law firm. I’ve always loved maths.
business idioms and expressions - name of the game
business idiom list - nine to five
business idioms and expressions - nitty-gritty
business idiom - no brainer meaning
business idioms and expressions - no holds barred
business idioms list- no strings attached meaning
business idioms and expressions - no sweat
business idioms list - no win situation
business idioms and expressions - not by a long shot
business idiom - number cruncher

business idioms beginning with O

  • off base
    meaning – incorrect, mistaken
    example – You seem a little off base today class, perhaps because we’re nearing the end of term.
  • off the top of one’s head
    meaning – recall something from memory
    example – I’ve got a new number, I can’t remember it off the top of my head.
  • old hand
    meaning – an experienced/skilled person
    example – I’m an old hand at fixing cars. I’ve been doing it for 40 years.
  • on a roll
    meaning – enjoy a prolonged spell of success/luck
    example – I’ve signed up four new clients and it’s not even 10 am, I’m on a roll.
  • on a shoestring
    meaning – on a tight budget, for little money
    example – I can’t come to the cinema tonight, I’m on a shoestring at the moment.
  • on hand
    meaning – available to be used if needed
    example – We have a team of 50 lawyers on hand 24/7 to help with all your legal needs.
  • on target
    meaning – accurate, likely to achieve what you’ve planned
    example – We’re still on target to meet the deadline. Keep up the good work.
  • on the back burner
    meaning – temporarily put aside, low priority
    example – Our holiday plans have been put on the back burner. We need to fix our leaking roof first.
  • on the ball
    meaning – alert, focused, efficient
    example – You haven’t been on the ball recently. Are you having problems at home?
  • on the ropes
    meaning – close to defeat/collapse
    example – The old pro is on the ropes. It looks like the young boxer will beat him.
  • on the same page
    meaning – all parties agree or have the same amount of knowledge
    example – I’ll read out the instructions before we start. I want to make sure we’re all on the same page.
  • on the same wavelength
    meaning – think/behave in the same way as another person
    example – We’re not on the same wavelength anymore, I think we should split up.
  • on the side-lines
    meaning – not actively participating
    example – Thomas has hurt his knee, so he’ll be on the side-lines today.
  • on top of something
    meaning – have something under complete control
    example – My secretary is on holiday, so I need to keep on top of my work.
  • onside
    meaning – persuade someone to support/agree with you
    example – Once the council are onside, we can go ahead with the house extension
  • out in the open
    meaning – in view of the public or public knowledge
    example – My town is a disgrace, young kids are doing drugs out in the open.
  • out of one’s depth
    meaning – not have enough knowledge
    example – Wendy has started a job at a top law firm. I think she’s out of her depth.
  • out of the loop
    meaning – not part of the group that is told information
    example – She’s out of the loop, she hasn’t had the internet for over a week.
  • out of the running
    meaning – not a contender in a competition
    example – If this scandal breaks, Lawler will be out of the running to become Chancellor.
business idiom - off base
business idiom - off the top of one’s head
business idiom - old hand
business idioms and expressions in English - on a roll meaning
business idiom - on a shoestring
business idiom - on hand
business idiom - on target
business idioms and expressions in English - on the back burner meaning
business idiom - on the ball
Business idioms and expressions - learn the ropes
business idiom - on the same page
business idioms list - on the same wavelength meaning
business idiom - on the sidelines
business idioms list - on top of something
business idiom - onside
business idiom - out in the open
business idiom - out of one’s depth
business idiom - out of the loop
common business idiom - out of the running

business idioms beginning with P

  • par for the course
    meaning – what is normal/typical/expected
    example – Dropping out of college is a par for the course these days.
  • pass the buck
    meaning – shift the responsibility or blame to another person
    example – The politicians are passing the buck, no one wants to take responsibility for the recession.
  • pat on the back
    meaning – praise for doing something good
    example – Well done class, you all passed the test. Give yourselves a pat on the back.
  • pedal to the metal
    meaning – do something very quickly or drive fast
    example – We need to put the pedal to the metal if we want to get this order out on time.
  • pen pusher
    meaning – an office job involving paperwork
    example – I’m fed up of pen pushing, I need a fun job.
  • pick someone’s brains
    meaning – ask someone for information, advice etc.
    example – We need to pick your brains about travelling Europe. Are you free later?
  • pick up steam
    meaning – start working faster/more efficiently
    example – The business has picked up steam pretty quickly. We’ll soon be able to expand at this rate.
  • pie in the sky
    meaning – a good but unrealistic idea
    example – The chairman thinks we can raise the money. I think it’s pie in the sky.
  • pipe dream
    meaning – a fantasy plan that is unlikely to happen
    example – A few years ago, performing a head transplant was a pipe dream, now it’s reality.
  • pitch an idea
    meaning – offer ideas to be discussed
    example – I pitched a few holiday ideas to the missus, but she didn’t like any of them.
  • plain sailing
    meaning – smooth and easy
    example – Our relationship hasn’t been plain sailing, but we love each other.
  • play ball
    meaning – cooperate
    example – My ex isn’t playing ball. I’m going to have to involve my lawyer.
  • play hardball
    meaning – be ruthless and do anything necessary to get what you want
    example – Let’s play hardball with the suspect. We need to find out where he dumped the body.
  • play it by ear
    meaning – don’t follow a plan, deal with things as they happen
    example – I’m not sure who should run with the project, we’ll just play it by ear.
  • poker face
    meaning – an expressionless face to hide your true emotions
    example – Make sure you use your poker face, we don’t want the bank to know we’re going bankrupt.
  • pull a rabbit out of the hat
    meaning – suddenly do something clever
    example – England will have to pull a rabbit out of the hat if they want to win the FIFA World Cup this year.
  • pull one’s weight
    meaning – do one’s fair share of the work
    example – If Damien doesn’t start pulling his weight, I’ll evict him.
  • pull the plug
    meaning – stop something happening/continuing
    example – My landlord pulled the plug on my poker nights. The neighbours started complaining.
  • put on the map
    meaning – a person/company/brand/country etc. becomes well-know/famous
    example – A food critic gave my restaurant rave reviews, he’s put me on the map.
  • put one’s cards on the table
    meaning – be honest and open about one’s feelings/ideas/intentions
    example – He put his cards on the table and told me he didn’t love me anymore.
  • put something on hold
    meaning – pause, postpone something until a later date
    example – We’ve put the project on hold until we get more funding.
  • put the brakes on
    meaning – slow down/stop a vehicle/an idea/progress/an activity
    example – We need to put the brakes on our spending if we want a bigger house.
business idioms and expressions in English - par for the course
business idiom - pass the buck
business idiom - pat on the back
business idiom - pedal to the metal
business idiom - pen pusher
business idiom - pick one's brain
business idioms list - pick up steam
business idiom - pie in the sky meaning
business idiom - pipe dream
business idiom - pitch an idea
business idiom - plain sailing
business idiom - play ball
business idiom - play hardball
business idiom - play it by ear
business idiom - poker face
business idiom - pull a rabbit out of the hat
Business idioms and expressions - pull one’s weight
Business idioms and expressions - pull the plug
business idiom - put on hold
business idiom - put on the map
Business idioms and expressions - put one’s cards on the table
business idiom - put the brakes on

business idioms beginning with R

  • raise the bar
    meaning – increase the quality/standard/expectations
    example – The teacher said I raised the bar, it was the best poem she has ever read.
  • read between the lines
    meaning – find real feelings/intentions not what is said/written
    example – If you read between the lines, you’ll see that things haven’t been great between them for ages.
  • red tape
    meaning – official rules and proceedings that take time
    example – I was going to buy an old church to renovate, but there was too much red tape.
  • reinvent the wheel
    meaning – waste time doing something that has already been done well
    example – I don’t want you to reinvent the wheel, just come up with some new ideas.
  • riding high
    meaning – successful/popular/confident
    example – Katy Perry is still riding high in the charts.
  • right off the bat
    meaning – immediately, from the beginning
    example – I knew right off the bat it was a bad idea.
  • right-hand man
    meaning – the most valuable assistant/helper
    example – I’m away for two weeks, contact my right-hand man Colin if you have any problems.
  • rock the boat
    meaning – disturb the peace/balance
    example – If Lara becomes the manager and starts bossing people around, it’ll rock the boat.
  • roll up one’s sleeves
    meaning – prepare to work/fight/do something difficult
    example – The bystander rolled up his sleeves and grabbed the thug around the neck.
  • roll with the punches
    meaning – cope with/adapt to difficulties
    example – I’m just rolling with the punches until I get another job.
  • round the clock
    meaning – throughout the day and night, continuously
    example – I’ve been studying round the clock for my exams.
  • run at a loss
    meaning – not making a profit
    example – I can’t run at a loss any longer, I think it’s time to throw in the towel.
  • run with
    meaning – be in charge of something and do it independently
    example – Do you think I can trust Ryan to run with the case while I’m away?
common business idiom - raise the bar
business idiom - read between the lines meaning
Business idioms and expressions - red tape
business idiom - reinvent the wheel
Business idioms and expressions - riding high
business idiom - right off the bat
business idiom - right-hand man
Business idioms and expressions - rock the boat
Business idioms and expressions - roll up one’s sleeves
business idiom - roll with the punches meaning
business idioms list- round the clock
Business idioms and expressions - rule of thumb
business idiom - run at a loss meaning
Business idioms and expressions - run with

If you’ve enjoyed these business idioms and expressions M – R, click the links below to learn some more.