Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Idioms: trick

Type: Article

Tim Bowen never misses a trick when it comes to explaining idioms.

‘He’s the type of football manager who will use every trick in the book to unsettle his rivals’. This means that the person in question will try every possible method in order to achieve his objectives.

A person who is up to their old tricks or up to their usual tricks is doing the same annoying or bad things they usually do, as in ‘I see Perkins is up to his old tricks again, phoning in sick on a Monday morning after partying all weekend’.

The oldest trick in the book is a dishonest method of doing something that people know about because it has been used many times before, as in ‘Phoning in sick when the weather is nice is the oldest trick in the book’.

A person who never misses a trick never fails to exploit an opportunity when one arises, as in ‘This is a company that never misses a trick when a gap appears in the market’.

If you have a trick up your sleeve, you have a plan that you can use if you need to, as in ‘With just five minutes to go, Johnston had one more trick up his sleeve and brought on the last of his three substitutes. It did the trick and within two minutes City had scored the equalizer’. Here the phrase do the trick means to do what is needed in order to achieve something.

It can also be used in much the same as hit the spot to describe something that does exactly what you need it to do, as in ‘That cup of coffee really did the trick. I feel wide awake now’.

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