Idioms – Authority & Control

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Hey guys!

Everybody knows the importance of learning some idioms and colloquial expressions, especially when you live in a foreign country. We always learn a lot of them by communicating with native speakers or watching movies and series. In this section, you learn some idioms and expressions to communicate in a more natural way when speaking English in a foreign country.

Here are a few Idioms related to the topic authority & control.

* be breathing down someone’s neck – when you are watching and checking everything someone does. (estar na cola de alguém)

My boss is breathing down my neck as I have to finish the last report by tomorrow.

* call the shots – to make the most important decisions in an organization or situation.

(mandar, dar as cartas)

It’s great to be able to work as a self-employed and call the shots about your own business.

* get out of hand – when the situation goes out of control. (sair do controle)

The two men had an argument that got out of hand and the police were called.

* go over someone’s head – to communicate directly with someone in a higher position to try to get what you want. (falar direto com o chefe, com a pessoa de maior autoridade)

He was criticized for trying to go over the heads of senior officers.

* have someone eating out of the palm of your hand – when someone will do whatever you want because they like you or admire you so much. (ter alguém nas mãos, comendo na palma da sua mão)

No one can handle reporters like she can. She usually has them eating out of the palm of her hand by the time they leave.

 * in high places – people who have power and influence in a group or society. (ter as costas largas, ser apadrinhado, ter um Q.I. “quem indica”)

You do not succeed so quickly without having a few friends in high places.

* a law unto yourself – when a person or company does whatever they want, ignoring laws, rules or usual ways of doing things. (seguir a própria lei, fazer o que dá na telha)

He does his work well but in his own way. He is truly a law unto himself.

* on top of something – to be dealing with a situation successfully. (estar no controle, no comando, saber o que está fazendo)

The government does not seem to be on top of the situation.

* pass the buck – to accuse someone of failing to take responsibility for a problem and expect someone else to deal with it instead. (passar a bola, transferir a responsabilidade)

This leader is so incompetent that he should pass the buck to another person who is more responsible and experienced than him.

* pull strings – to get something by using your friendship with powerful people, often in a way that is unfair. (mexer os pauzinhos, dar um jeitinho)

They felt that her father was pulling strings to advance her career.

* put your foot down – when you tell someone forcelly that they must do or not do something. (bater o pé, insistir, mostrar quem é que manda)

If the new young manager doesn’t put his foot down, the employees will not take him seriously.

* twist / wrap someone around your little finger – to make someone do anything you want them to. (ter alguém nas mãos)

He’d do anything for you. You’ve got him twisted around your little finger.

* twist someone’s arm – to try to persuade someone to do something. (tentar convencer)

I had to twist their arms to get them to start working with me but once they did, it went well.

* wear the pants – to make all the important decisions. (vestir as calças, mandar)

Who wears the pants in your family? I hope you learned some new idioms today, see you next time!

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