15 Business English Idioms and Phrases In Use [Image]

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6 Most Commonly Used Business English1. a foot in the door
to manage to enter an organization, a field of business, etc. that could bring you success

  • I always wanted to work for that company but it took me two years to get a foot in the door.

[Tweet “A FOOT IN THE DOOR: to manage to enter an organization, a field of business, etc. that could bring you success”]

2. cash cow
the part of a business that always makes a profit and that provides money for the rest of the business

  • The new product became the company’s cash cow.

[Tweet “CASH COW: the part of a business that always makes a profit and that provides money for the rest of the business”]

3. too many chiefs, not enough Indians
used to describe a situation in which there are too many people telling other people what to do, and not enough people to do the work

  • There are too many chiefs and not enough Indians in that company.

[Tweet “TOO MANY CHIEFS, NOT ENOUGH INDIANS: used to describe a situation in which there are too many people telling other people what to do, and not enough people to do the work”]

4. eager beaver
an enthusiastic person who works very hard

  • George is an eager beaver and is certain to succeed in business.

[Tweet “EAGER BEAVER: an enthusiastic person who works very hard”]

5. a slice of the pie
a share of something such as money, profits, etc.

  • The company made big profits and the workers want a slice of the pie.

[Tweet “A SLICE OF THE PIE: a share of something such as money, profits, etc.”]

6. go belly up
to fail completely

  • Last year the business went belly up after sales continued to fall.

[Tweet “GO BELLY UP: to fail completely”]

7. golden handshake
a large sum of money that is given to somebody when they leave their job, or to persuade them to leave their job

  • When Tom left the company he was given a golden handshake.

[Tweet “GOLDEN HANDSHAKE: a large sum of money that is given to somebody when they leave their job, or to persuade them to leave their job”]

8. grease someone’s palm
to give somebody money in order to persuade them to do something dishonest

  • There are rumours that the company had to grease someone’s palms to get that contract.

[Tweet “GREASE SOMEONE’S PALM: to give somebody money in order to persuade them to do something dishonest”]

9. hold the fort
to have the responsibility for something or care of somebody while other people are away or out

  • While the boss is out of the office, I’ll have to hold the fort.

[Tweet “HOLD THE FORT: to have the responsibility for something or care of somebody while other people are away or out”]

keep head above water

10. keep head above water
to deal with a difficult situation, especially one in which you have financial problems, and just manage to survive

  • Business is bad. I’m not sure how much longer we’ll be able to keep our heads above water.

[Tweet “KEEP HEAD ABOVE WATER: to deal with a difficult situation, especially one in which you have financial problems, and just manage to survive”]

Read more:
What Happens if You Don’t Drink Enough Water Daily? [Video]

11. red tape
official rules that seem more complicated than necessary and prevent things from being done quickly

  • You have to go through endless red tape to start up a business.

[Tweet “RED TAPE: official rules that seem more complicated than necessary and prevent things from being done quickly”]

12. sell ice to Eskimos
to persuade people to go against their best interests or to accept something unnecessary or preposterous.

  • That salesman is such a smooth talker, he could sell ice to Eskimos.

[Tweet “SELL ICE TO ESKIMOS: to persuade people to go against their best interests or to accept something unnecessary or preposterous.”]

13. sleeping partner
a person who has put money into a business company but who is not actually involved in running it

  • Tom found a sleeping partner to invest money in his business.

[Tweet “SLEEPING PARTNER: a person who has put money into a business company but who is not actually involved in running it”]

14. walking papers
the letter or notice dismissing somebody from a job

  • Helen was given her walking papers yesterday.

[Tweet “WALKING PAPERS: the letter or notice dismissing somebody from a job”]

15. a dead duck
a plan, an event, etc. that has failed or is certain to fail and that is therefore not worth discussing

  • The project was a dead duck from the start due to a lack of funding.

[Tweet “A DEAD DUCK: a plan, an event, etc. that has failed or is certain to fail and that is therefore not worth discussing”]

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