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Idioms for dangerous situations

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'Paul is always late for work. He is in danger of losing his job.'

Imagine that you have a friend called Paul. Paul is being lazy in work - he is often late and is in danger of losing his job. The following idioms can all be used when we want to warn Paul that he is in danger.

Dangerous Situations

Play with Fire

When someone is playing with fire they are doing something that will result in them being harmed. The full idiom is If you play with fire you are going to get burnt.

'By being late all the time, Paul is playing with fire.'

Skate on Thin Ice

Skating on thin ice means that you are in danger - the 'ice' may break and you will fall through.

'You are skating on thin ice by being late.'

On Dangerous Ground / On Icy Ground

Both these expressions have the same meaning as the two above - you are doing something which will have negative consequences.

'Paul is on dangerous ground at the moment - he's always late for work.'

Sail Close to the Wind

Sailing close to the wind, again, means that you are in a dangerous situation.

'You're sailing close to the wind, Paul, you need to be in work on time.'

Warning Someone

Here are a few idioms we can use to tell someone that they need to change their behaviour:

Watch one's Step

Watch your step means that you must be careful - your current actions will get you into trouble.

'You need to watch your step - if you continue being late, you will lose your job.'

Pull your Socks Up

When we tell someone to pull their socks up, it means that they need to get make an improvement - work harder or be more serious about what they are doing.

'Pull your socks up, Paul. You've got to start arriving on time; no more being late.'

Keep your Head Down

To keep your head down means to stay out of trouble. Don't do anything that will get you into trouble; don't do anything that will get you noticed for negative reasons.

'You need to keep your head down, Paul. If they notice that you're late, you'll lose your job.'

Link: The Language of Business Meetings

  • Paul, you are on thin ice.
  • You really need to keep your head .
  • He's been close to the wind.
  • He has to watch his .
  • You know you shouldn't play with .
  • You are too lazy. You need to your socks up!