Common Idioms To Boost Your IELTS Score – Topic: Involvement And Interest


not be your cup of tea

If something is not your cup of tea, you do feel very interested or enthusiastic about it.

I’ve never been the greatest traveller. Sitting for hours on motorways is not really my cup of tea.

NOTE: You can also say that something or someone is your cup of tea when you like them or feel interested in them.

I don’t have much time for modern literature. Shakespeare’s more my cup of tea.

have an axe to grind

If someone has an axe to grind, they have particular attitudes about something, often because they think they have been treated badly or because they want to get an advantage.

NOTE: One possible explanation for this expression is a story told by the American scientist and inventor Benjamin Franklin (1706-90) about a man who managed to get his own axe sharpened without paying by asking a boy to show him how his father’s grindstone (= a round stone used for sharpening metal tools or weapons) worked.

It would be best if an independent agency, that doesn’t have an axe to grind, could deal with this case.

NOTE: You can also say that you have no axe to grind to deny that your strong opinions about something are based on personal reasons.

The unions insist they have no axe to grind because they will represent workers wherever they are based.

in the picture

If someone is in the picture, they are involved in the situation you are talking about.

We were a great team. I was kept in the picture from the beginning.

jump on the bandwagon

If someone jumps on the bandwagon, they suddenly become involved in an activity because it is likely to succeed or it is fashionable.

NOTE: In American elections in the past, political rallies (= large public meetings) often included a band playing on a horse-drawn wagon (= a covered vehicle pulled by horses). Politicians sat on the wagon and those who wanted to show their support climbed on it.

There will always be people ready to jump on the bandwagon and start classes in whatever is fashionable, with little or no training.

NOTE: Verbs such as climb, get and leap are sometimes used instead of jump. These expressions are usually used in a disapproving way.

A lot of people are climbing on the bandwagon of selling financial services to women.

keep a low profile

If someone keeps a low profile, they avoid doing things that will make people notice them.

The president continues to keep a low profile on vacation in Maine.

NOTE: You can also use low-profile before a noun.

There is no need for the presence of any police officers. This is a low-profile event.

a labour of love

A labour of love is a task that you do because you enjoy it or feel strongly that it is worth doing.

They restored the Victorian greenhouse, an expensive labour of love.

mean business

If you mean business, you are serious and determined about what you are doing.

One of them pointed a shotgun at me. I could see he meant business.

a nosey parker

A nosey parker is someone who wants to know too much about other people. [BRITISH, INFORMAL]

NOTE: ‘Parker’ may refer to Matthew Parker, who was an English archbishop in the sixteenth century and had a reputation for interfering in people’s business.

The village’s nosey parker, Olive, likes to spy on her neighbours with binoculars.

NOTE: ‘Nosey’ is sometimes spelled ‘nosy’.

poke your nose into something or stick your nose into something

If someone pokes or sticks their nose into something, they interfere in something that does not concern them. [INFORMAL]

He has no right to go poking his nose into my affairs.

Why did you have to go and stick your nose in ?

NOTE: Keep your nose out of something means the opposite of poke your nose into something.

Nancy realized that this was his way of telling her to keep her nose out of his business.

steer clear of something

If you steer clear of someone or something, you deliberately avoid them.

I’d advise anyone with sensitive or dry skin to steer clear of soap.

try your hand at something

If you try your hand at something, you try doing it in order to see whether you are good at it.

After he left school, he tried his hand at a variety of jobs – bricklayer, baker, post man.

up to your ears

If you are up to your ears in work or in an unpleasant situation, you are very busy with it or are deeply involved in it.

I can’t come out this evening – I’m up to my ears in reports.

whet someone’s appetite

If something whets your appetite for a particular thing, it makes you want it.

Winning the World Championship should have whetted his appetite for more success.

NOTE: Most speakers of English only ever use the verb ‘whet’ in this expression. It is rarely used elsewhere.

your heart isn’t in something

If your heart isn’t in something you are doing, you are not enthusiastic about it.

She was a successful teacher, popular with her pupils and her colleagues, but her heart wasn’t in it.



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