English idioms that describe relationships.


  • get on like a house on fire - to get on really well with someone: They get on like a house on fire.
  • have a soft spot for somebody - to be very fond of somebody: Kate has a soft spot for her youngest child.
  • go back a long way - to know someone well for a long time: Those two go back a long way. They were at secondary school together.
  • be in with - to have favoured status with somebody: She's in with the management.



  • get off on the wrong foot with somebody - to start off badly with somebody: Mary really got off on the wrong foot with her new manager.
  • keep somebody at arm's length - to keep somebody at a distance: I'm keeping her at arm's length for the time being.
  • they're like cat and dog - to often argue with somebody: Those two are like cat and dog.
  • rub somebody up the wrong way - to irritate somebody: Tom really rubs his sister up the wrong way.
  • be at loggerheads - to disagree strongly: Tom and Monica are at loggerheads over the new policy.
  • sworn enemies - to hate somebody: Those two are sworn enemies.


Equality and inequality

  • bend over backwards for somebody - do everything possible to help somebody: Karren bent over backwards for them when they first arrived in the town.
  • be at somebody's beck and call - to always be ready to do what somebody wants: As the office junior, she was at his beck and call all day.
  • pull your weight - to do the right amount of work: The children always pull their weight around the house.
  • do your fair share - to do your share of the work: He never does his fair share!
  • take somebody under your wing - to look after somebody until they settle in: He took her under his wing for her first month at work.
  • keep tabs on somebody - to watch somebody carefully to check what they are doing: He's keeping tabs on the sales team at the moment.
  • wear the trousers - to be in control: My wife wears the trousers in our relationship.
  • be under the thumb - to be controlled by somebody else: Robert really keeps her under the thumb.