Important Idioms and Phrases Starting with “A”

By Naveen Singh|Updated : August 15th, 2020

Hello gradians,

In order to boost your CDS English prep, we are starting with a new series of The Idioms and Phrases for CDS 2020. It is observed that approximately 10-15 questions are asked from Idioms and Phrases, and as only 20% marks are required for qualifying the English paper (i.e. 20 marks), getting these questions correct would increase your chances of selection significantly.

Here is a list of 20 important idioms and phrases starting with letter A:  

Important Idioms and Phrases Starting with “A” 

Idioms and Phrases



Achilles Heel

Weak Spot

Fear of heights was his Achilles heel

A bone of contention

The main issue of disagreement

J & K is the bone of contention between India and Pakistan

 A dead letter

A law that is not repealed but is not being followed by anyone

The Uniform Civil Code is a dead letter.

At the eleventh hour

At last moment

She submitted her assignment at the eleventh hour.

A queer fish

Strange personality

Due to her mismatched clothing, she was a queer fish in the party.

A worm's eye view

Limited understanding due to lack of broad perspective

He was stuck as at the same post for very long as he had a worm’s eye view about technology.

An ace up your sleeve

secret knowledge or skill that will give you an advantage

India has an ace up his sleeve while dealing with China

Apple of one's eyes

Someone or something very precious or dear.

His new baby girl was the apple of his eye.

Ask for the Moon

To make requests/demands that are unreasonable

There's no point hoping for permanent peace in the area. It's like asking for the moon.

Asleep at the switch

Failing to do one’s duty or responsibility on time

The security guard fell asleep at the switch due to which flat was robbed.

At sixes and sevens

In a state of complete disarray or confusion

After the demonetization announcement, people were all left at sixes and sevens.

At someone's beck and call

Completely compliant or obedient to another person

He has an assistant at his beck and call.

At an arm's length

To keep at a distance

Her introvert nature kept most people at arm’s length

A red-letter day

An important or significant day

The Independence Day is a red-letter day for India

A nine days wonder

Something or someone that creates a short-lived sensation

The news of their marriage was only a nine-day wonder.

Alma Mater

The university, school or college that one attended

The high school senior hoped to work for his alma mater after graduating from college

At the drop of a hat

Willingness to do something instantly

John was always ready to go fishing at the drop of a hat

A cold Fish

A person who shows no emotions and comes across as unfriendly or disinterested

She hardly speaks to anyone; she is a cold-fish.

A cock and bull story

A fanciful and unbelievable tale

 She told me some cock and bull story about her car breaking down.

Above board

Legitimate, Honest and Open

The committee tried to be fair and above board in its hiring.


We will soon be updating idioms and phrases for other alphabets as well. In the meanwhile you all can discuss with each other and let us know any other important idioms that we missed out from A that are asked in exams.

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