Idiomatic expressions – Line

Written by Nigina Dustova

This is the third part of our series on idiomatic expressions.  The first part is about idioms containing the word back and the second part is about idioms containing the word ground. In this post, we are going to learn about some idioms about line.

Line is a quite a common word in many idiomatic expressions. It has a range of
If you drop someone a line, you write them a letter.
The bottom line refers to accounts where you see the profit or loss at the bottom.
The dotted line is the line on which you sign your name for a contract or bill.
If you draw a line under something on a piece of paper you separate it from what comes before. If you draw a line under an experience, it means it is finished and you don’t want to hear any more about it.
If you toe the line, you conform. In politics you often have to toe the party
line – support what the party believes. People who rock the boat are said to step
out of line. If something is different from other similar things, it can be brought
into line with the others.
If your job is on the line, you are at risk of losing it. If someone is on the
line, they are on the telephone.


Susan says she’s happy with Martin but reading between the lines, something’s
not quite right. They never seem to go out together.

This is Sarah Williams. Can I speak to Amanda Price, please?
Hold the line, please. I’ll just see if she’s free.

Right. Have a good journey. Good luck with the new job and everything.
Thanks. I’ll drop you a line to let you know how I’m getting on.

I agree. Let’s move the meeting to the 24th and involve the other departments.
Good. I’m pleased we’re thinking along similar lines.

Exercises: Use the following idiomatic expressions in the sentences below:
a. in line for
b. the bottom line
c. on the dotted line
d. drew a line under
e. out of line

1. Make sure you read the contract in detail before you sign __________.

2. If you step ________ in this company, they get rid of you. You don’t get a second chance.

3. When John’s divorce came through, he ________ that episode of his life.

4. Helen’s doing very well at work. In fact, I think she’s __________ promotion.

5. I know you don’t want to learn English but ___________ is, if you want to
get a better job here, you need to speak a foreign language.

c; 2. e; 3. d; 4. a; 5. b;

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