Idiom Meanings

Idiom meanings are sometimes easy to understand and sometimes they are very difficult. An idiom is a group of words whose meaning is different from the individual words if you looked them up separately in the dictionary.

This list of English idioms begin with the letter D! You can find other idioms here at the main page of idiom meanings on this site.

Note: Each idiomatic expression does not always start with the letter “D.” This list is organized to  include English idioms whose main subject or action word starts with the letter “D.” (The main word is written below in all capital letters. For example, DEPTH: this is an in-depth list of idiom meanings starting with the letter "D.")

Idiom meanings starting with letter "D"


shoot daggers at someone:  to look at someone in a very angry way.

  • When my daughter told everyone I was celebrating my 70th birthday I shot daggers at her and then smiled at everyone else.
  • My boss shot daggers at me  when I told everyone at the meeting that I'd written the report by myself.


keep someone in the dark:  to not tell someone something or give them information they need.

  • I wish my boss would stop keeping me in the dark  and be clear about what I need to do for the project.
  • We're totally in the dark  about how long it's going to take to complete the renovation of our basement.


bring someone up-to-date:  to give someone the most recent information about something.

  • If you have time later I’ll bring you up-to-date  about the project.
  • Can someone bring me up-to-date  on what's been happening in the news? I've been on vacation and didn't watch the news for the past two weeks.

bring something up-to-date:  to make changes to something so that it includes the most recent information.

  • Please add these new figures to the proposal to bring it up-to-date.
  • This information is so old, someone needs to revise the book and bring it up-to-date.

keep someone / something up-to-date:  to continue giving or adding the most relevant information.

  • I’d appreciate it if you'd keep me up-to-date  on your wedding plans.
  • Whenever we get a new booking we add it to the calendar so we can keep up-to-date.

to date:  to or until this time.

  • To date  we haven’t received any complaints about our new service.
  • We've got 15 people registered for the seminar to date  but most people will register the day before.


dawn on someone:  to suddenly understand, to be clear to someone.

  • It finally dawned on my wife  that our youngest child was taking money from her purse.
  • It never dawned on us  that we'd have any trouble understanding the British speak English when I booked a holiday there.
  • When did it dawn on you  that you were allergic to your cat?


a day late and a dollar short:  not enough and too late to be of use.

  • My boyfriend’s promises to finally spend more time with me were a day late and a dollar short  so I broke up with him.
  • I'm sorry but your business proposal is a day late and a dollar short.  You said you'd provide the proposal two weeks ago and now we've already hired another firm.

as plain as day:   very clear and easy to understand.

  • If you don’t know how to use the machine read the directions. The manual is as plain as day.
  • I don't want to sound mean but with your low grades it's plain as day  that you won't get into Harvard University.

call it a day:  to finish something.

  • We’ve been working for five hours and everyone's tired. I say let’s call it a day.
  • Shall we call it a day  or work another hour to finish entering the data?

day after day:  several days continuously repeated.

  • Day after day  I went to the Apple Store to try to get the new iPhone. After two weeks, I decided to order one online.
  • This summer my daughter played tennis day after day  until she developed tennis elbow.

day and night (night and day):  all of the time

  • I haven’t slept all week because my neighbor’s new baby cries day and night.
  • Your girlfriend calls night and day—it would make me go crazy.

day by day:  each day.

  • Day by day  he’s getting better but it will be several months before his leg is completely healed.
  • If you study English for just 20 minutes day by day,  you'll achieve excellent results in a year or two.

day in and day out:  every day repeatedly.

  • He works day in and day out  so I never see him anymore.
  • I hate it but I go to the gym day in and day out  to stay healthy.

from day one:  from the beginning.

  • My husband hated my father from day one  so spending time with my family is difficult.
  • All of my children have loved listening and playing music from day one  but neither my husband nor I are musicians.

in this day and age:  at this time.

  • In this day and age  spending several dollars for a cup of coffee is not unusual but no one would do that 30 years ago.
  • You would think they would have developed a birth control pill for men in this day and age  but instead they created Viagra!

just another day:  a day like every other day.

  • It was just another day  at school; the teachers were boring and the students didn’t listen.
  • You'll love San Diego! Blue skies, 80 degree weather and beautiful sunsets are just another day  in that city.

late in the day:  happening almost too late.

  • It was late in the day  but we got to the store just before it closed.
  • It's a bit late in the day  to apologize to your girlfriend to get her back—she's been dating someone else for a few weeks now.

make someone’s day:  to make someone very happy.

  • My father sent my mother flowers and it really made her day.
  • If you come to visit me at work today it will make my day.

not someone’s day:  a difficult day with a lot of problems.

  • It’s not my day.  There was lots of traffic, I was late for work, my boss yelled at me and I got a parking ticket.
  • Sorry, Johnny is sleeping right now and can't come to the phone. It wasn't his day  at school today so he came home very upset and went straight to bed.
  • Monday's are just not my day.  Something always goes wrong.

one day (some day):  a time in the future.

  • One day  you’ll make enough money to buy your own home and move out of here.
  • If you continue to practice, you'll be a great musician some day.

save something for a rainy day:  to keep something for a future time when it will be needed.

  • I got a gift card for my birthday but I’m not going to use it now, I’m saving it for a rainy day.
  • My parents want me to save $100 from every paycheck for a rainy day  but that's almost half my salary since I only work part-time.

save the day:  solving a big problem for someone.

  • I was really sick and couldn’t study last night but my girlfriend saved the day  and wrote my English essay for me.
  • My baby wouldn't stop crying on the plane so the woman sitting next to me saved the day  when she asked if she could hold him. Within a minute he was asleep in her arms.

the other day:  a recent time ago.

  • The other day  I saw my high school teacher and she’s doing great.
  • We got back from Europe the other day  and I'm still jet lagged.
  • I cannot believe John's father died this morning—I just saw him the other day  at the gym and he looked great.

at the end of the day:  after everything else has been considered, in the final analysis; finally.

  • I can give suggestions but at the end of the day  it's your decision.
  • We walked around for hours looking for the hotel. At the end of the day,  we found someone who spoke English and asked to borrow their phone.


in broad daylight:  in a way or place that anyone can see what’s happening.

  • The kids threw eggs at the car in broad daylight  but surprisingly no one saw them.
  • Another person was caught bathing naked in the fountain in broad daylight  so I don't take my kids to that park anymore.

someone’s / something’s days are numbered:  someone or something will not exist or function in a short time from now.

  • I’ve had these boots for three years and I love them but unfortunately their days are numbered.
  • I think our housekeeper's days are numberedshe's always late and the quality of her cleaning is not very good anymore.

has seen better days:  something is no longer in good condition.

  • My computer has seen better days  so I’m thinking about getting a new one.
  • I know you love that purse but it's seen better dayswhy not get a new one?

one of those days:  a bad or difficult day.

  • It’s not a good time to talk to her; she’s having one of those days.
  • My son got in another fight at school and on my way to get him I got in a car accident—it's just been one of those days.

those were the days:  looking fondly at or happily remembering a time in the past.

  • I really wish people would still send letters through the post—those were the days  when it was fun to go to the mailbox.
  • I miss the music of the 60s, 70s and 80s when musicians wrote their own songs and played instruments. Those were the days!


dead set against something:  determined not to do or support something.

  • I wanted my daughter to go to an Ivy League school but she was dead set against it.
  • My parents are dead set against me moving to New York  to become a singer so I'm trying to get noticed on YouTube.

in the dead of winter:  during the coldest part of the winter.

  • I hate waking up in the dark in the dead of winter  and having to get out of my warm bed.
  • I moved to South Florida because even in the dead of winter  it doesn't get cold.


a done deal:  a decision that has been reached.

  • I thought going to the movies this evening was a done deal  but now you say we're not going?
  • We had to give two month's rent as a security deposit for the apartment so it's a done deal  and we're moving in next month.

a great deal (of something):  a large amount of something.

  • I have a great deal of respect  for my supervisor because she’s very honest and supportive.
  • Let's go home—we've got a great deal of packing  to do for our trip.
  • This winter we had a great deal of snow  so I'm glad spring is finally here.

big deal:  something very important.

  • Your lying to me is a big deal  and I’m not going to forget it.
  • Congratulations! Graduating from high school is a big deal.
  • It's not a big deal  if you can't come for the reception but make sure you come to the ceremony.

cut a deal:  to make a special agreement with someone.

  • Let’s cut a deal. If you do my homework, I’ll clean your room.
  • I was able to cut a deal  with my employer to work from home two days a week.


bore someone to death:  to not be interesting or be very boring to someone.

  • The movie bored me to death  so I fell asleep in the theater.
  • Our new roommate bores us to death  with her long stories about her friends back home.

love someone to death:  to care for someone very strongly.

  • I loved him to death  but he didn’t love me the same way so I stopped dating him.
  • I love my students to death  so when they're struggling I do everything I can think of to try to help them.
  • It was so difficult for us to kick our son out of the house because we love him to death  but he refuses to stop doing drugs and we have other children at home.

scare someone to death:  to really frighten someone.

  • My husband’s drinking every single night is really scaring our kids to death.
  • Your little brother loves to sneak up behind me and scare me to death!
  • Please slow down—you're driving so fast it's scaring us to death.

scared to death:  to be very frightened.

  • My boyfriend is scared to death  that my mother won’t like him but I know she will.
  • I was scared to death  when a mouse ran across the kitchen floor.
  • I'm scared to death  by horror movies. Can we see a Disney film instead?

tickled to death:  to be very amused or think something’s very funny.

  • Our new puppy tickles us to death  because he’s always doing something naughty.
  • I was tickled to death  when my son tried to pull the "strings" out of his coconut ice cream.


deck someone / something out:  to decorate something in a special way.

  • Makeup, jewelry and a dress? Why are you all decked out  tonight?
  • We decked out house out  with lights and ribbons for Christmas.

Hit the deck:  to drop to the ground and lay down to avoid some type of danger.

  • When we heard gunshots at the shopping mall everyone hit the deck.
  • I hit the deck  and crawled under the table to safety during the earthquake.

stack the deck against someone:  to make arrangements so it’s very difficult for somebody to achieve something.

  • I wanted to succeed at my new job but my boss was jealous and stacked the deck against me.
  • Poor families have the deck stacked against them  when they look for housing.

clear the decks:  finish up less important tasks so that a more important project can be started.

  • Our boss asked us to clear the decks  because we have a new client to meet with next week.
  • I wish I could go to the beach with you but I've got to clear the decks  before I start school next week.


in demand:  something that is needed or desired.

  • What kinds of new graduates are in demand with private companies these days?
  • Hotel rooms in France are really in demand  in July so you may need to book one 6-12 months in advance.

on demand:  at any time something is needed.

  • On international flights most movies are on demand  stays so it’s easy to be entertained when you travel.
  • My boss expected me to work on demand  and after a year I just got tired of his calls every weekend so I quit.


make a dent in something:  to make some progress in something.

  • I have to read a 653-page book for English and after reading for three hours, I hardly made a dent in it.
  • This salad is huge—I've hardly made a dent in it  and I'm already full.


in depth:  in great detail or completely.

  • There are lots of guided bus tours that go to five or six different countries but I prefer to see one country in depth.
  • The movie describes Michael Jackson's life in depth.
  • I learned modern art in depth  while I was in college and that's one reason I have such a great appreciation of that type of art.

out of one’s depth:  not knowing a lot about something.

  • I took several yoga classes at my gym but when I went to the yoga retreat I was out of my depth.


dog eat dog:  ruthless competition where people will do anything (even harm other people) to succeed at doing something.

  • Good luck working in sales—I hear it's a dog eat dog world.
  • My high school had a real dog eat dog atmosphere—everyone wanted to be Valedictorian so they could get accepted to an Ivy League school.

rain cats and dogs to rain heavily without stopping.

  • I forgot my umbrella so I'll wait here at the office until it stops raining so hard—it's raining cats and dogs right now.
  • You'll also need rain boots and a rain coat because it's raining cats and dogs outside.


in the doghouse:  in trouble or in a situation where someone is upset or angry with you for some reason.

  • I forgot our anniversary so now I'm really in the doghouse  with my wife.
  • I had to put my boyfriend in the doghouse  because he has been spending all of his time with his friends and ignoring me.
  • I'm in the doghouse  with my parents because I skipped school yesterday.


drink like a fish:  to drink too much alcohol at one time.

  • We're really concerned because Sam's been drinking like a fish  at least 4-5 nights each week.
  • It was hysterical to see your grandmother drink like a fish  at brunch—she sure does like Bloody Mary cocktails.


a drop in the bucket:  a very small or unimportant amount when compared to something else.

  • The number of sit ups and pull ups you did today are just a drop in the bucket  of what you'll be doing in future workouts.
  • The bank tellers got a $100 bonus but that's a drop in the bucket  compared to what the management team got.


down in the dumps:  sad, unhappy, discouraged and/or depressed.

  • We flew across the country for sunny weather but it's been raining the entire holiday and we all feel so down in the dumps  we just want to go home.
  • "Why are you down in the dumps?"  "I failed my chemistry exam and my parents are going to kill me!"

More English idiom meanings starting with the letter "D" will be added in the future so check back again soon or sign-up for my free newsletter so you can know when there are new updates.

Which idiom meanings are easiest/hardest for you?

The best way to learn—and remember—idiom meanings is to practice using them. Which are your favorite expressions from the list? Try to write a sample sentence below in the comments.

› "D" Idioms

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