Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Idioms: block

Type: Article

Tim Bowen proves idioms are no stumbling block with these helpful explanations.

‘The trial of the opposition leader on corruption charges has been widely seen as a stumbling block to efforts to start negotiations to bring peace to the region.’ A stumbling block is a difficulty that causes mistakes or prevents progress.

If someone has been round the block a few times, they have a lot of experience in a particular area and it is therefore quite difficult to trick or surprise them, as in ‘You won’t catch me with that old trick. I’ve been round the block a few times, you know’.

If you put your neck on the block, you take a risk by doing or saying something that might damage your reputation or make people criticize you, as in ‘I know I’ll be putting my neck on the block, but I can’t remain silent in the face of this blatant attempt to influence the results of matches’.

A chip off the old block is someone who looks or behaves like one of their parents, as in ‘James was a chip off the old block with his love for horse-racing and living the high life’.

A new kid on the block is someone or something who has just started a particular activity, especially if by doing so they might upset the status quo, as in ‘In the European elections, the UK Independence Party has very much proved to be the new kid on the block’.

If you say you are going to knock someone’s block off, you threaten to hit them because they have annoyed you or wronged you in some way, as in ‘If he does that again, I’ll knock his block off!

If someone is block-headed it means they are stupid.

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