The Borneo Post - Good English

Idioms: Nerves of steel


neck and neck In a contest or competitio­n, when two competitor­s reach the same level, they are neck and neck, so it is impossible to say who will win. At the moment the two teams are neck and neck for the Word Cup. pain in the neck If you call someone a pain in the neck, you think they are very irritating or annoying.

She’s a pain in the neck the way she keeps complainin­g! stick one’s neck out If a person sticks their neck out, they draw attention to themselves by saying or doing something that others are afraid to do.

Julie stuck her neck out and said that the sales target would be impossible to reach without extra staff. needs must (when the devil drives)

The expression ‘needs must (when the devil drives)’ means that you are sometimes forced by circumstan­ces to do something that you do not want to do.

I’d rather stay with you than attend the conference, but needs must ...! needle in haystack To refer to something as a needle in a haystack means that it is very difficult or impossible to find.

Finding a pub in Dublin without knowing its name is like looking for a needle in a haystack. neither fish nor fowl People or things that are difficult to classify because they are neither one thing nor another are ‘neither fish nor fowl’. Interns are neither fish nor fowl. They are neither students nor fully qualified practition­ers. neither here nor there Something which is neither here nor there is unimportan­t or irrelevant.

Why the problem wasn’t discovered earlier is neither here nor there. What’s important now is to find a solution. nerves of steel Someone who has nerves of steel is not afraid in difficult or dangerous situations. Fire-fighters need to have nerves of steel. get on one’s nerves If you get on someone’s nerves, you annoy or irritate them a great deal.

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