Nail in the coffin
A nail in someone or something's coffin is a problem or event that is a clear step towards an inevitable failure.
Nail-biter
If a game, election, contest, etc, is a nail-biter, it is exciting because the competitors are so close that it is impossible to predict the result.
Nature abhors a vacuum
This idiom is used to express the idea that empty or unfilled spaces are unnatural as they go against the laws of nature and physics.
Nature of the beast
The basic characteristics of something is the nature of the beast; often used when there's an aspect of something that cannot be changed or that is unpleasant or difficult.
Near the knuckle
If something is near the knuckle, it is bit explicit or too close to the truth for comfort
Necessity is the mother of invention
Difficult situations make people inventive.
Neck and neck
If two competitors or candidates, etc, are neck and neck, then they are very close and neither is clearly winning.
Neck of the woods
If someone talks about their neck of the woods, they mean the area where they live.
Need no introduction
Someone who is very famous and known to everyone needs no introduction.
Needle in a haystack
If trying to find something is like looking for a needle in a haystack, it means that it is very difficult, if not impossible to find among everything around it.
Neither fish nor fowl
Something or someone that is neither fish nor fowl doesn't really fit into any one group.
Neither here nor there
If something is neither here nor there, it is of very little importance.
Neither use nor ornament
Something that serves no purpose and is not aesthetically pleasing is neither use nor ornament.
Nerves of steel
If someone has nerves of steel, they don't get frightened when other people do.
Nervous Nellie
Someone excessively worried or apprehensive is a nervous Nellie (or Nelly).
Nest egg
If you have some money saved for the future, it is a nest egg.
Never a rose without the prick
This means that good things always have something bad as well; like the thorns on the stem of a rose.
Never darken my door again
This is a way of telling someone never to visit you again.
Never say die
When someone says "Never Say Die", it means that you shouldn't give up hope.
New blood
If something needs new blood, it has become stale and needs new ideas or people to invigorate it.
New brush sweeps clean
'A new brush sweeps clean' means that someone with a new perspective can make great changes. However, the full version is 'a new brush sweeps clean, but an old brush knows the corners', which warns that experience is also a valuable thing. Sometimes 'broom' is used instead of 'brush'.
New kid on the block
A new kid on the block is a person who has recently joined a company, organisation, team, etc, and does not know how things work yet.
New lease of life
If someone finds new enthusiasm and energy for something, they have a new lease of life.
New man
(UK) A New man is a man who believes in complete equality of the sexes and shares domestic work equally.
New sheriff in town
This is used when a new authority figure takes charge.
New York minute
(USA) If something happens in a New York minute, it happens very fast.
Newfangled
People who don't like new methods, technologies, etc, describe them as newfangled, which means new but not as good or nice as the old ones.
Nice as pie
If a person is nice as pie, they are surprisingly very kind and friendly. "After our argument, she was nice as pie!"
Nick of time
If you do something in the nick of time, you do it at the very last minute or second.
Nickel tour
(USA) If someone gives you a nickel tour, they show you around a place. ('Fifty-cent tour' is also used.)
Night owl
A night owl is someone who goes to bed very late.
Ninth circle of hell
In Dante's Inferno, the ninth circle of hell is the centre where the worst punishments are found, so it is used idiomatically for something that couldn't get worse.
Nip and tuck
A close contest where neither opponent seems to be gaining the advantage.
Nip at the bit
If someone is nipping at the bit, they are anxious to get something done and don't want to wait.
Nip it in the bud
If you nip something in the bud, you deal with a problem when it is still small, before it can grow into something serious.
Nitty gritty
If people get down to the nitty gritty, they concentrate on the most important and serious issues.
No bed of roses
If something isn't a bed of roses, it is difficult.
No can do
No can do means that the speaker can't do whatever it is that has been asked of him or her.
No dice
No dice is a way of refusing to accept or agree to something.
No dog in this fight
If you have no dog in a fight, you are not concerned and will not be affected either way by the outcome of something.
No go
Something that will not work. 'A square peg in a round hole is a no go.'
No good deed goes unpunished
This means that life is unfair and people can do or try to do good things and still end up in a lot of trouble.
No great shakes
If someone is no great shakes at something, they are not very good at it.
No harm, no foul
There's no problem when no harm or damage is done, such as the time my sister-in-law stole the name we'd chosen for a boy and we both ended up having girls.
No holds barred
If there are no holds barred, there are no rules of conduct; you can do anything.
No ifs or buts
Ifs and Buts is a term used to describe the reasons people give for not wanting to do something. To show that you don't wish to accept any excuses, you can tell somebody that you wish to hear no ifs or buts Here IF & BUT have become nouns
No laughing matter
Something that is no laughing matter is very serious.
No love lost
If there is no love lost between two people they have a strong enmity towards or hate for the other and make no effort to conceal it.
No pain, no gain
Achievements require some sort of sacrifice.
No peace for the wicked
Bad people will not be at ease or will be tormented.('No rest for the wicked' is also used.)

No quarter
This means without mercy. We can say no quarter given or asked.
No question
This idiom means that something is certain or definite.
No questions asked
If something is to be done and no questions asked, then it doesn't matter what methods are used or what rules are broken to ensure that it gets done.
No rest for the weary
No rest for the weary means that you must keep on working even though you're exhausted or tired.
No rest for the wicked
Bad people will not be at ease or will be tormented.('No peace for the wicked' is also used.)
No skin off my nose
If something's no skin off your nose, it doesn't affect or bother you at all.
No smoke without fire
This idiom means that when people suspect something, there is normally a good reason for the suspicion, even if there is no concrete evidence.  ('Where's there's smoke, there's fire' is also used.)
No spine
If someone has no spine, they lack courage or are cowardly.
No spring chicken
If someone is no spring chicken, they are not young.
No strings attached
If something has no strings attached, there are no obligations or requirements involved.
No Sweat
No Sweat means something is easy. For example, "This contest is just no sweat." meaning "This contest is just easy."
No time for
If you have no time for an activity, you have absolutely no desire to spend or waste any time doing it. You can have no time for people, too.
No time like the present
If people say that there's no time like the present , they believe that it is far better to do something now than to leave it for later, in which case it might never get done.
No time to lose
If there's no time to lose, then it's time to get started otherwise it won't be finished on time.
No two ways about it
If there are no two ways about something, there is no other possible interpretation.
No use to man or beast
If something or someone is no use to man or beast, they it or they are utterly useless.
Nod's as good as a wink
(UK) 'A nod's as good as a wink' is a way of saying you have understood something that someone has said, even though it was not said directly.  The full phrase (sometimes used in the UK ) is 'a nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse'.
Noddy work
(UK) Unimportant or very simple tasks are noddy work.
None so blind as those who will not see
This idiom is used when people refuse to accept facts presented to them. ('None so deaf as those who will not hear' is an alternative.)
Nose in the air
If someone has their nose in the air, they behave in a way that is meant to show that they are superior to others.
Nosy parker
(UK) A nosy parker is someone who is excessively interested in other people's lives. ('Nosey parker' is an alternative spelling.)
Not a snowball's chance in hell
There is absolutely no possibility of something hapening if there's not a snowball's chance in hell.
Not all there
If someone isn't all there, they are a little bit stupid or crazy.
Not bat an eye
If someone doesn't bat an eye, they do not react when other people normally would.
Not born yesterday
When someone says that they weren't born yesterday, they mean that they are not naive or easily fooled.
Not cricket
(UK) If something is not cricket, it is unfair.
Not enough room to swing a cat
If a room is very small, you can say that there isn't enough room to swing a cat in it.
Not give a fig
If you don't give a fig about something, you don't care about it at all, especially used to express how little one cares about another's opinions or actions.
Not give a monkey's
(UK) If you couldn't give a monkey's about something, you don't care at all about it.
Not give the time of day
If you wouldn't give the time of day to someone, you dislike them so much that you would not even use common courtesy.
Not have the heart
If you don't have the heart to do something, you don't have the strength or courage to do something. (Usually used in the negative)
Not have two nickels to rub together
(USA) If a person doesn't have two nickels to rub together, they are very poor.
Not have two pennies to rub together
If someone hasn't got two pennies to rub together, they are very poor indeed.
Not hurt a fly
Somebody who would not hurt a fly is not aggressive.
Not know beans about
(USA) If someone doesn't know beans about something, they know nothing about it.
Not know enough to come in out of the rain
Someone who doesn't know enough to come in out of the rain is particularly stupid.
Not know you are born
This indicates that the person described is unaware of his or her good fortune or is unaware of how difficult day to day life was before he/she was born. Typical usage: 'Kids today don't know they are born'.
Not miss a trick
If someone doesn't miss a trick, they take advantage of everything that could help them or might be an opportunity for them.
Not much cop
Describing a film or something as not much cop is a way of saying that you didn't think much of it.
Not my brother's keeper
If you say that you are not your brother's keeper, it means that you are not responsible for someone or what happens to them as a consequence of their actions.
Not my cup of tea
If something is not your cup of tea, you don't like it very much.
Not our bag
If something is not your bag, it is not really suitable for your needs or you don't like it much.
Not the only pebble on the beach
If something is not the only pebble on the beach, there are other possibilities or alternatives.
Not to be sneezed at
If something is not to be sneezed at, it should be taken seriously.
Not wash
If a story or explanation will not wash, it is not credible.
Not with a bang but a whimper
To end on a muted note - most likely in a situation where one would have expected a more spectacular finish. This expression was coined by T.S. Elliot in his 1925 poem, The Hollow Men, which ends: This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper.
Not worth a red cent
(USA) If something is not worth a red cent, it has no value.
Not worth a tinker's dam
This means that something is worthless and dates back to when someone would travel around the countryside repairing things such as a kitchen pot with a hole in it. He was called a 'tinker'. His dam was used to stop the flow of soldering material being used to close the hole. Of course his 'trade' is passé, thus his dam is worth nothing.
Notch on your belt
A success or achievement that might help you in the future is a notch on your belt.
Nothing to crow about
If something's nothing to crow about, it's not particularly good or special.
Nothing to write home about
Something that is not special or good is nothing to write home about.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained
You can't win if you don't join in the game; if you don't participate in something, you will not achieve anything.
Now and then
This idiom means 'occasionally'.
Now I ask you
Used at the end of a story to express disbelief, or in answer to a question to express a mild indignation.
Null and void
If something's null and void, it is invalid or is no longer applicable.
Number cruncher
A number cruncher is an accountant or someone who is very good at dealing with numbers and calculations.
Nuts and bolts
The nuts and bolts are the most essential components of something.
Nutty as a fruitcake
Someone who's nutty as a fruitcake is irrational or crazy. (This can be shortened to 'a fruitcake'.)


 

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