Business Idioms: Idioms about Bargaining

priceValue for money is important in all aspects of life but especially in the business world. As a result, in this installment of our Business Idioms series we have prepared something for all of you bargain hunters out there: a whole set of idioms about bargaining.

bang for the buck – value for the money spent.

  • We were able to get a lot of bang for our buck when we advertised online; we spent very little but got a lot of responses!

Note: buck is a word used for a dollar in the United States of America originating from the practice of trading deer (buck) skins for other products or services in the 1700’s.

a steal – a bargain or good deal

  • The new computers weren’t exactly a steal at this price, but they were still good value.

cheap at twice the price – very inexpensive, good value for money.

  • We paid only $2000 to have the whole security system installed! It would have been cheap at twice the price.

Note: An even stronger way to say the same thing would be to say “a steal at twice the price.”

for a song – cheaply, for next to nothing

  • I picked up this car for a song because of some aesthetic damage.

Note: when we use this idiom it is as if something free (the singing of a song) had been accepted as payment.

cut-rate – a price lower than usual

  • We went to a cut-rate furniture store to buy all of the furnishings for our new office.

Note: Price can be exchanged for rate in this idiom without affecting the meaning (e.g., we bought all of our new furnishings at a cut-price).

For more installments from the Business Idiom series as well as a whole host of other useful articles and materials please visit our homepage.


Business Idioms: Idioms about Dishonesty

under the tableWe would like to think that all businesses conduct themselves in a moral and legally responsible way but, alas, we do not live in a perfect world. It is with the companies and individuals in mind that we dedicate this installment to idioms about dishonesty.

ill-gotten gains money acquired in a dishonest or illegal manner.

  • His ill-gotten gains were seized by the government when he was arrested for fraud.

Note: To seize is to another way to say “to take quick and forcible possession of.” It  is synonymous with confiscate.

to line your own pocket – to take advantage of a situation purely for your personal financial benefit.

  • He had been lining his pockets for years with company funds.

Note: Pocket is also used in another idiom related to bad business: to be in someone’s pocket. This means that someone is controlled by someone else because of bribes that they pay you (e.g., the gangster had the corrupt official in his pocket).

to cook the books – to falsify financial records.

  • They concealed millions of dollars in losses by cooking the books.

Note: The books here refer to accounting ledgers and so a related idiom is “to keep two sets of books”.

under the table – something done secretly (and usually illegally) in the business world.

  • To avoid paying taxes, they paid some of their employees under the table.

Note: If this idiom is used to qualify a noun or a noun phrase, hyphens must be used, as in “under-the-table payments.”

money laundering – to conceal the source of illegally-obtained money so that it is believed to be legitimate.

  • They had been using other smaller companies to launder money until they were caught.

Thank you for reading Business Idioms for more of this series as well as other articles and materials please visit our homepage.


Business Idioms: Idioms about Negotiation

negotiationIn business as in life almost everything is negotiable. So it is no wonder that people are constantly striving to find the middle ground. With this in mind, in this installment of the Business Idioms series we will be discussing some Idioms about negotiation.

to cut a deal – to make a beneficial business arrangement with someone.

  • I thought we weren’t going to be able to afford the new version, but I was able to cut a deal and get it at half price.

Note: cut can also be used to describe a reduced price (e.g., cut price).

to make an offer – to deliver a financial proposal for a product or service.

  • We are going to make an offer they can’t refuse.

a bargaining chip – something used to make someone do what you want.

  • Our faster delivery times can be used as a bargaining chip.

Note: bargaining refers to negotiation and can be used in other idioms (e.g., a bargaining tool referring to something used to strengthen your negotiating position).

a hard sell – an aggressive sales technique.

  • They really wanted us to sign the contract so they were using the hard sell.

Note: this can also be used for when someone is difficult to convince someone something (e.g., He bought the ticket from me in the end but it was a hard sell).

 to knock down the price of (something) or knock the price of (something) down – to lower the price of something.

  • I managed to convince them to knock down the price of my new car.

Note: Knock, as used above, means to hit (as in on a door) but it can be used if a very different way, to describe an imitation or fake product (e.g., her designer purse looks real but it is a knock-off).

For more installments from our Business Idioms series as well as many other helpful articles, please visit our homepage!


Business Idioms: Idioms about Understanding

understandingCommunication is the cornerstone of any fruitful relationship and business is no exception. So in this installment of our business idioms series we will be discussing a variety of idioms about understanding.

to see eye to eye – to have the same perspective, opinion, or otherwise agree with someone

  • I’m glad we see eye to eye on the new customer service policy

to get someone’s drift – to understand in a general way what someone is trying to say

  • I had to leave early so missed the question and answer section but I got the drift from the power point presentation

Note: we “get” a lot of things in idioms! Here are a few other examples which refer to understanding alone: get the message (e.g., When my boss pointed at his watch I got the message – it was time to finish the meeting) and get the picture (e.g., I didn’t realize how bad the financial state of the company was but after reviewing the figures I get the picture.).

penny drops – when a person has difficulty understanding something and then they finally understand

  • He thought his job was incredibly secure but the penny dropped when he received a written warning.

Note: this idiom alludes to coin operated machines which will not function until the penny (a coin) literally drops or goes in. This makes it similar to the idea of the lightbulb of insight.

to be on the same page – to have the same amount of knowledge or understanding

  • After a few weeks of negotiation we’re on the same page.

Note: Another idiom with a similar meaning is to be on the same wavelength (which is to say that two people are receiving the same signal).

Please visit our homepage for further installments of the Business Idioms series as well as a whole host of useful and interesting resources.


Business Idioms: Dodgy Dealings

We would like to think that all businesses conduct themselves in a moral and legally responsible way. Unfortunately, however, we do not live in a perfect world and there are companies as well as individuals who do not adhere to these standards. With this in mind, in this installment of Business Idioms we will discuss a few idioms related to doing business the wrong way.

ill-gotten gains -money acquired in a dishonest or illegal manner.

  • After he was arrested for fraud, his ill-gotten gains were seized by the government.

Note: Seize is to take quick and forcible possession of; confiscate

to line your own pocket – to take advantage of a situation purely for your personal financial benefit.

  • He had been lining his pockets for years with company funds.

Note: Pocket is also used in another idiom related to bad business to be in someone’s pocket meaning to be controlled by someone else because of bribes that they pay you (e.g., “the gangster had the police commissioner in his pocket”) .

to cook the books – to falsify financial records.

  • They concealed millions of dollars in losses by cooking the books.

under the table – something done secretly (and usually illegally) in the business world.

  • To avoid paying taxes, they paid some of their employees under the table.

Note: If this idiom is used to qualify a noun or a noun phrase, hyphens must be used, as in “under-the-table payments”.

money laundering – a process by which people conceal the source of illegally-obtained money so that it is believed to be legitimate.

  • They had been using other smaller companies to launder money until they were caught.

Thank you for reading Business Idioms please visit our homepage for more of this series as well as other articles and materials!


Business Idioms: “B” Better Prepared in the Boardroom

balance booksAs is the case in all of life’s endeavors, proper planning promotes performance. Unfortunately some things – like a test – are easy to prepare for than others – like a business meeting. While you can never be sure what expressions might pop up in  business meeting, you are will doubtless be better prepared for any curveballs thanks to our latest installment of Business Idioms:

To Bail Out a Company/Person – to provide financial relief to a company or person that would otherwise be “underwater” (in debt)

  • Many people believe that a strategic bail out would help provide much-needed stability in the faltering economy.

Note: This idiom can be used with the word “out” after either bail or company and as a noun (as above).

Baked In – included

  • As technology improves many automakers are baking in special features that were once considered luxuries; just try buying a car without air conditioning these days!

To Balance the Books – to audit or otherwise verify that a business’s assets are properly accounted for

  • It is both dull necessary to balance the books from time to time; it is the best way to keep track of a company’s performance.

Continue reading “Business Idioms: “B” Better Prepared in the Boardroom”


Business Idioms: An A For Effort

eleventh hourAs mentioned in our overview of Business Idioms, each industry has its own patterns, its own rhythms, of speech. That means that even common words and phrases can take on entirely new meanings in a business context. Thus it is a prudent executive – or executive-in-the-making – that studies up on these distinct phrases.

Here are a few common expressions used in the boardroom. Continue reading “Business Idioms: An A For Effort”


Keep Your Eye On The Bottom Line With Business Idioms

Businessman on chart 524055191What goes up what must come down and, accordingly, there are more than a few idioms related to exactly that – the bottom half of things:

The Bottom Falls Out Of (Something) – a sudden and dramatic fall in price or value

  • Even the most experienced investors were worried when the bottom fell out of the housing market; prices fell so fast that no one knew what to do.

Note: A variant of this idiom uses “drop” instead of “fall” but in either case this, the principal verb, must be modified to maintain grammatical structure.

Bottom Line – the final figure on a balance sheet or other financial document (typically this is the total)

  • “Don’t worry about going over the specifics, just give me the bottom line: are we are going to make a profit this quarter or not?”

Continue reading “Keep Your Eye On The Bottom Line With Business Idioms”


These Business Idioms Are Money In the Bank!

Broken piggy bank 520388233As we noted in our recent entry in the business idioms blog series, banks have just as big a role in the world of business idioms as they do in the business world itself. Here are some of the most famous; with these at your disposal success is almost assured!

To Break The Bank – to spend more money than you have

  • The small company almost broke the bank after it tried to meet the production demands of a major client placed that placed a huge order on credit.

Note: As the above example shows, this idiom can be used with both actual banks and regular business (in which case “bank” could be considered a stand-in for bank account).

To Take It To The Bank – to have something genuine that you can trust without question

  • Trust me, my stock tip is so good that you can take it the bank.

Continue reading “These Business Idioms Are Money In the Bank!”


Business Idioms: The People That Make It Happen

Silhouette Men turning and Pushing Cogs 175773252With phrases like “too big to fail” being thrown around left and right these days it can be easy to think of businesses – especially big business – as creatures with lives of their own. Even the largest company, however, is still reliant on its employees to help realize its vision and further its goals. It is with that in mind, then, that in this installment of our Business Idioms series is dedicated to the people who make big businesses hum.

Bean Counter – an accountant

  • We need the bean counters to look over the figures in the forecast before we present it to upper management.

Note: The beans in this idiom represent, as you probably could have guessed, money. Continue reading “Business Idioms: The People That Make It Happen”