The business world is full of animal idioms like fat cats, loan sharks and other animals.
Indeed, the business idiom fat cats has been widely used in the last few years to describe all those bankers who have earned huge bonuses during the credit crunch.
As an English Language Learner, if you want your English to sound more natural especially when dealing with native speakers, using some of these business idioms in the correct way would certainly help.
In this blog post, I’d like to concentrate on our two favourite domestic animals, the cat and dog. I’ve selected just ten, but there are plenty more out there, so please feel free to share any others that you know and have used.
1. Let sleeping dogs lie – do not make trouble if you don’t have to. Ex: “There’s absolutely no point pursuing this issue.We should just let sleeping dogs lie“.
2. Not enough room to swing a cat – not enough space. Ex: “You should see my new office, it’s tiny. There’s not enough room to swing a cat!” (In old English, a cat was a whip not a real cat!)
3. To be dog tired – to be exhausted Ex: ” I have worked 70 hours this week. I am dog tired“.
4. Let the cat out of the bag – to reveal a secret Ex: ” Great! George in Finance knows about our new product. That’s all we need. Who let the cat out of the bag?”
5. Go to the dogs – not as successful as in the past (usually used in the continuous tense) Ex: “That company will go bankrupt if it’s not careful. It’s going to the dogs“.
6. To put the cat among the pigeons – to cause trouble Ex: ” Sending the most unpopular manager to talk to the team was like putting the cat among the pigeons.”
7. A dog’s dinner or dog’s breakfast – to make a mess Ex: “They made a real dog’s dinner of the website. It’s terrible.”
8. To fight like cats and dogs – to argue and fight with someone Ex: ” It’s a miracle how Sally and John manage this company. They’re always fighting like cats and dogs.
9. Top dog – the most important person in an organisation Ex: “If you want a decision on that, you’re going to have to get it approved by the top dog“.
10. More than one way to skin a cat – more than one way to do something Ex: “No problem. If we cannot get our proposal through this way, we’ll try something else. There’s more than one way to skin a cat“.
In a future post, I will explore other business idioms using other animals.
In the meantime, try and slip these expressions into your conversations with English native speakers but only in the right context, of course!
Ciao for now.
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