15 Top Business English Idioms
Are you up to speed with the latest business English idioms? Here are some of the top English idioms that you could use in a business context. How many of them do you know?
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1. To get something off the ground = To begin or launch something
- I can’t wait to get this project off the ground!
- I can’t wait to begin this project!
2. To get the ball rolling = To start, e.g. a meeting or debate
- Let’s get the ball rolling.
- Let’s start.
3. To think outside the box = To think in an original or left-field / lateral way
- Try to think outside the box.
- Try to think in an original or unique way.
4. In a nutshell = In short
- In a nutshell, I just don’t feel that Martin is right for the position.
- In short, I just don’t feel that Martin is right for the position.
5. ASAP = As soon as possible (acronym)
- I need that report ASAP!
- I need that report as soon as possible.
6. To stand your ground = To have complete confidence in your position or idea
- If we stand our ground, they will sign the contract!
- If we stick to our position, they will sign the contract!
7. The bottom line = The most important thing / the main priority
- ‘What’s the bottom line?’ ‘We must send the orders today!’
- ‘What’s the most important thing?’ ‘We must send the orders today!’
8. The elephant in the room = The uncomfortable truth that nobody wants to acknowledge
- The elephant in the room is that we know their sales forecasts!
- The thing that nobody wants to mention is that we know their sales forecasts!
9. To corner the market = To become the leading seller of a product
- Since 2012 we have been able to corner the market in toothbrush holders.
- Since 2012 we have been able to become the leading seller of toothbrush holders.
10. To climb the corporate ladder = To be focused on gaining promotion within a company
- John only cares about climbing the corporate ladder.
- John only cares about trying to get promoted.
11. To hit the glass ceiling = To reach an artificial limit of promotion, usually due to race, or gender
- Alison feels she has hit the glass ceiling at work.
- Alison feels she can’t be promoted at work any further, because she is a woman.
12. To be in the red = To be in debt / To be in the black = To be in profit or solvent
- No, the company is still in the red, but it could be in the black next month.
- No, the company is still in debt, but it could be in profit next month.
13. To get the sack = To lose your job
- Billy got the sack yesterday.
- Billy lost his job yesterday.
14. To throw in the towel = To quit
- I’m just about ready to throw in the towel!
- I’m just about ready to quit!
15. To go / get back to the drawing board = To start again
- OK, let’s go back to the drawing board.
- OK, let’s start again.
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