Idioms That Begin with Prepositions

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Updated August 11, 2016
idioms that begin with preposition example
    idioms that begin with preposition example
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There are hundreds of idioms that begin with prepositions in English. These idioms are effective ways to say what you mean in a figurative way, rather than a literal way. Keep reading for a list of idioms that begin with prepositions such as at, under, with, of, and in.

Idioms Starting With Prepositions

Idioms are phrases that, taken literally, would either make no sense at all or have an entirely different meaning from the idiomatic definition. "On the other hand," for example, could literally mean that there is something sitting on your hand, but as an idiom, it refers to an alternative. "At a loss," on the other hand, doesn't make much sense at all if you try to explain it using the literal meaning of each word; it only makes sense taken as a whole--as an idiom.

Prepositions are words that show location or the relationship between nouns. Idioms that begin with prepositions can help a writer make important connections with figurative language. The following list is a collection of commonly used idiomatic phrases that begin with prepositions.


Idioms That Begin With At

Are you at a loss for the right idiom? You may not be able to find it at first, but after reading these idioms that begin with at, you’ll have several more to choose from. At any rate, you’ll enjoy these figurative phrases!

  • at any rate – whatever happens or is happening
  • at one's disposal – available for one's use
  • at fault – causing a problem or accident
  • at first – in the beginning
  • at last – finally, after some delay (connotes a feeling of exhaustion after a long period of waiting)
  • at a loss – unsure of what to do or say; speechless

Idioms That Begin With Behind, Beside, and By

If you’ve ever wondered what happens behind the scenes, check out these idioms that begin with behind, beside, and by. And by all means, feel free to use them in your own writing:

  • behind the scenes – influencing events secretly; unseen
  • beside the point – irrelevant
  • by accident – not on purpose
  • by all means – by any possible method
  • by hand – without the use of machinery
  • by heart – from memory
  • by mistake – accidentally
  • by oneself – alone
  • by the seat of my pants – acting on unplanned instinct
  • by the way – incidentally (used to introduce a new, unrelated topic)

Idioms That Begin With For and From

Whether you write for a living or just for the time being, it’s helpful to have a collection of idioms to choose from. These idioms begin with for and from, and can keep you from having to write expressions from scratch:

  • for good – permanently
  • for a living – as a profession
  • for one thing – because of one reason (out of several)
  • for sale – intended to be sold
  • for sure – definitely
  • for now or for the time being – until some other arrangement/decision is made
  • for a while – for a period of time
  • from scratch – from raw ingredients/materials; without anything pre-made
  • from time to time – occasionally

Idioms That Begin With In and Inside

If you’ve been searching for the perfect idiom in vain, check out this list for help. These idioms begin with in and inside and can really improve your writing in no time.

  • in advance – before something begins; early
  • in any case – whatever happens
  • in charge – in command; responsible for
  • in common – shared by two or more people
  • in danger – likely to be harmed (opposite – out of danger/out of harm's way)
  • in a daze – unable to think clearly; confused
  • in debt – owing money (opposite – out of debt)
  • in demand – wanted by many people
  • in the end – after everything is finished (describes a final outcome)
  • in fact – in reality; really
  • in the heat of the moment – acting in high emotion without thinking
  • in a hurry – doing something quickly
  • in itself – without anything else
  • in the long run – in the end; eventually
  • in mint condition – perfect; as though brand-new
  • in a minute, in a moment, or in a second – soon; quickly (used to tell how much longer it will be until something happens)
  • in no time – very soon; very quickly (used to tell how quickly something happened)
  • in season – (fruit or vegetables) ripe and available for sale at that time of year (opposite – out of season)
  • in trouble – blamed or punished for doing something wrong; in a difficult situation (opposite – out of trouble)
  • in vain – without success
  • in the wrong – responsible for an error; guilty
  • inside out – with the inner side out

Idioms That Begin With Of, Off and On

Writers are always on the lookout for the perfect idiom. But it’s hard to come up with the right phrase on one’s own. If you’re on the verge of a writing breakthrough, keep these idioms that begin with of, off, and on on hand:

  • of course – certainly; as one would expect; as everyone knows
  • off and on – (describes a situation that exists at some times, but not others, over a period of time)
  • on account of – because of
  • on the air – in the process of broadcasting (on radio or television)
  • on all fours – (people) on hands and knees; (animals) on all four feet
  • on demand – when requested or demanded
  • on fire – burning; in flames (not burning as in turning black from staying in the oven too long)
  • on hand – available; in stock
  • on the lookout – watchful
  • on the one hand – (used to introduce the first side of an argument)
  • on the right track – getting close to a successful solution to a problem
  • on one's own – alone; without assistance
  • on the other hand – alternatively (used with "on the one hand" to introduce a contrasting side of an argument)
  • on purpose – deliberately
  • on sale – being sold at a reduced price
  • on second thought – after thinking further
  • on a shoestring – with very little money
  • on the spur of the moment – spontaneously; on a sudden impulse
  • on time – at the correct time
  • on the verge of – very close to (an achievement)

Idioms That Begin With Out

Including idioms in your writing may feel difficult if you’re out of practice. But improving the quality of your writing is never out of the question! Keep this list of idioms that begin with out handy in your next writing project:

  • out of the blue – unexpectedly
  • out of breath – panting from a shortage of oxygen (usually due to physical exertion)
  • out of character – different from a person's known character
  • out of order – not functioning
  • out of the ordinary – unusual
  • out of practice – unable to do something as well as one once could because of lack of recent practice
  • out of the question – not to be considered; not an option
  • out of shape – not in top physical condition because of lack of exercise (opposite – in shape)
  • out of sight – not able to be seen; hidden (opposite – in sight)
  • out of town – not in the city/town where one normally resides (opposite – in town)
  • out of tune – (of music/musical instruments) not at the correct pitch (opposite – in tune)
  • out of work – unemployed

Idioms That Begin With To and Under

Many writers are under the impression that leaning on idioms can make writing feel cliched. But if you only use idioms to a certain extent, they can make your writing feel familiar and folksy. Here are some idioms that begin with to and under:

  • to a certain extent – partly
  • under one's breath – in a whisper; not intending to be heard
  • under the circumstances – because of the current situation/circumstance
  • under control – able to be controlled or influenced (opposites – out of control/out of hand)
  • under fire – being shot at; being criticized
  • under the impression that – having the idea/belief that
  • under the influence of – affected by (usually alcohol or drugs)

Idioms That Begin With Up, With, and Within

Now that you’ve reached the end of the list, you might be ready to use idioms in your writing with a vengeance. But the best writers know that it’s important to only include these expressions within reason. Check out these idioms that begin with up, with, and within:

  • up in the air – uncertain (with regard to the outcome of a situation)
  • with the naked eye (also to the naked eye) – without the use of a lens
  • with regard (also with respect to) – concerning; about
  • with a vengeance – more than usual; angrily
  • within reason – that is reasonable

Figurative Language in the English Language

English is full of figurative language. The vast number of idioms in English make it one of the most difficult languages to learn, but now that you know these popular idioms, you are on your way! Take a look at these famous idioms in literature or a list of idioms about love.