in the black – descriptive of being profitable, successful, or otherwise making money.
- The company is very successful; they are consistently in the black.
Note: the opposite of this expression is in the red which refers to a business operating at a loss; this is because in accounting negative numbers are generally recorded in red ink.
To make money hand over fist – to make a lot of money very quickly.
- We have been making money hand over fist since our biggest competitor went out of business.
Note: this expression was first written in Seba Smith’s The Life and Writings of Major Jack Downing in 1833 “they….. clawed the money off his table hand over fist”
to turn a profit – to make a profit.
- It usually takes at least a year for a new business to turn a profit.
Note: “Turn” is also used in turnover, a noun used to refer to all of the money that passes through a business.
to clean up – to make a lot of money, make a big profit.
- There were so many customers at the market this weekend that we really cleaned up.
Note: This is not to be confused with the idiom to come clean which is to confess something.
to make a killing – to make a lot of money.
- When we release our new product we are going to make a killing.
Note: Killing in a nonviolent sense also appears in the idiom to “kill time” which means to use up extra time.
For other installments of this series as well as many more useful materials please visit our homepage on business jargon and idioms.