English Business Idioms

English Business Idioms You Should Know


It is no secret that taking your English to the next level is not the easiest thing to pull off. Take learning English business idioms, for example. They confuse a lot of people as direct translation often makes no sense whatsoever. There are also so many different business idioms out there – you can’t learn them all!

That’s why we’ve put together this handy list of some of the most common business idioms in the English language. See how many of these you can use during your next workday.

Back to the Drawing Board

The meaning behind this popular expression is to start something again from the very beginning because it is not working as you expected. For example, if one of your business projects is not going the way you had originally planned, you should go back to the drawing board and fix the problem.

“This marketing plan isn’t going to get us the return on investment that we want. Let’s go back to the drawing board.”

Up in the Air

This expression is often used when things are highly uncertain. In other words, you can use this phrase while you are still in the middle of a decision-making process. Maybe you would like to sign some sort of contract by the end of the week, but there are just too many things that are still up in the air.

“I would love to give you an answer to that question, but things are so up in the air right now. I should be able to get you a firm yes or no next month when we have a firm plan.”

A Learning Curve

This expression is used to describe the process of learning, especially when that process comes in the form of trial and error. You can also say that something has “a steep learning curve” meaning it’s very tricky to get to grips with; you have to learn things quickly if you want to meet all the requirements of a particular job. For example, when it comes to the world of stock trading, there is a steep learning curve that you need to overcome if you want to succeed.

“To use this new system will be a steep learning curve, but I know you can master it.”

By the Book

If you are one of those people who like to follow all the rules all the time, there is no doubt that you are going to love this one! The meaning behind this expression is pretty clear – it

is used when you want to do things strictly by the rules without trying to cheat your way to victory. If you don’t want to risk getting caught by the financial regulators, for example, you have to do everything by the book.

“She’s a great lawyer, but she doesn’t do things by the book. She could get our firm into trouble.”

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

This expression is often used when there is no easy way out of a bad situation. Whatever you do, the final result will not be pleasant for anyone involved.

“If we go with this new supplier, we will upset our American clients, but if we don’t go with them we will upset our Chinese clients. We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.

To Get Down To Business

To get down to business means to start getting serious about something. For example, if you have wasted enough time debating on the official launch date of your mobile game, you need to get down to business as soon as possible, because you’ve got work to do.

“Ok, we’ve been brainstorming ideas all morning, let’s get down to business and make some decisions.”

It’s Not Rocket Science

You know what’s difficult to understand? Rocket science! Most other things pale in comparison. This expression can be used when you want to talk about something that is not as complicated as some people make it out to be.

“I needed you to call everyone on the list and tell them to be here by 9 am. Why haven’t you done it yet? Just pick up the phone and call them. It’s not rocket science!”

To Cut Corners

If you are one of those people who always tries to find a shortcut when it comes to doing pretty much anything, it’s safe to say that you like to cut corners. You get the idea now, don’t you? To cut corners means to do things in the quickest and cheapest way that you can think of in order to save either time or money – or both.

“Ally likes to cut corners; instead of writing the annual report herself, she got the intern to do it and it’s full of mistakes.”

To Go Down Swinging

Here’s an expression that comes from the world of professional boxing! Basically, to swing means to throw a heavy punch. This expression refers to someone who likes to fight to the very end. If you are a business owner and if you are currently dealing with some really big problems that are related to your career, but you still want to fight for your business and you will continue to fight until the very end, you can be proud of yourself because even if you end up going down, you are going to go down swinging!

“We may be at the bottom of their list, but let’s keep working hard to win this client. It isn’t over until they choose on Friday. Let’s go down swinging!”

To Think Outside the Box

If you have an unusual way of thinking, then you like to think outside the box. Thinking outside the box is pretty much always a good thing. Generally speaking, people who like to think outside the box are creative individuals who are always open to new ideas. If you want to succeed in the highly competitive world of business, you have to think outside the box.

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