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Richard A. Spears, American Idioms Dictionary

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vote with one’s feet

vote with one’s feet to express one’s dissatisfaction with something by leaving, especially by walking away. I think that the play is a total flop. Most of the audi-

ence voted with its feet during the second act. I am prepared to vote with my feet if the meeting appears to be a waste of time.



wade in(to something) to start in (doing) something immediately. (Also literal.)

I need some preparation. I can’t just wade into the job and start doing things correctly. We don’t expect you to wade in. We’ll tell you what to do.

wag one’s chin to chatter or chat with someone. (Slang.) We stood around and wagged our chins for almost an hour.Don’t just wag your chin. Stop talking and get to work!

wait-and-see attitude a skeptical attitude; an uncertain attitude where someone will just wait and see what happens. John thought that Mary couldn’t do it, but he took a wait-and-see attitude. His wait- and-see attitude didn’t influence me at all.

wait on someone hand and foot to serve someone very well, attending to all personal needs. I don’t mind bringing you your coffee, but I don’t intend to wait on you hand and foot. I don’t want anyone to wait on me hand and foot. I can take care of myself.

wait up (for someone or something) 1. to stay up late waiting for someone to arrive or something to happen. I’ll be home late. Don’t wait up for me. We waited up for the coming of the new year, and then we went to bed. 2. AND hold up (for someone or something) to wait for someone or something to catch up. Hey! Don’t go so fast. Wait up for me. Hold up! You’re going too fast.

waiting in the wings ready or prepared to do something, especially to take over someone else’s job or position. (Refers to a performer waiting at the side of the stage to go on.) Mr. Smith retires as manager next year, and Mr. Jones is just

waiting in the wings. Jane was waiting in the wings, hoping that a member of the hockey team would drop out and she would get a place on the team.

wake the dead to be so loud as to wake those who are “sleeping” the most soundly: the dead. You are making enough noise to wake the dead. Stop hollering! You’ll wake the dead!

walk all over someone to treat someone badly. (Also literal.) She’s so mean to her children. She walks all over them. The manager had walked all over Ann for months. Finally she quit.

walk a tightrope to be in a situation where one must be very cautious. (Also literal.)

I’ve been walking a tightrope all day. I need to relax. Our business is about to fail. We’ve been walking a tightrope for three months.

walk away with something AND walk off with something 1. to win something easily. (Informal.) John won the tennis match with no difficulty. He walked away with it. Our team walked away with first place. 2. to take or steal something.

I think somebody just walked off with my purse! Somebody walked off with my daughter’s bicycle.

walk off with something Go to walk away with something.

walk on air to be very happy; to be euphoric. Ann was walking on air when she got the job. On the last day of school, all the children are walking on air.

walk on eggs to be very cautious. (Informal.) The manager is very hard to deal with. You really have to walk on eggs.


walk out (on someone or something)

I’ve been walking on eggs ever since I started working here.

walk out (on someone or something) 1. [with someone] to abandon someone; to leave one’s spouse. Mr. Franklin walked out on Mrs. Franklin last week. Bob walked out on Jane without saying good-bye. 2. to leave a performance (of something by someone). We didn’t like the play at all, so we walked out. John was giving a very dull speech, and a few people even walked out on him.

walk the floor to pace nervously while waiting. While Bill waited for news of the operation, he walked the floor for hours on end. Walking the floor won’t help. You might as well sit down and relax.

walk the plank to suffer punishment at the hand of someone. (From the image of pirates making their blindfolded captives commit suicide by walking off the end of a plank jutting out over the open sea.)

Fred may think he can make the members of my department walk the plank, but we will fight back. Tom thought he could make John walk the plank, but John fought back.

wall-to-wall with something covered with something in all places. (From wall-to- wall carpeting.) The hallway is wall-to- wall with Jimmy’s toys. The beach was wall-to-wall with tourists.

Walls have ears. We may be overheard. (Proverb.) Let’s not discuss this matter here. Walls have ears, you know. Shhh. Walls have ears. Someone may be listening.

want for nothing to lack nothing; to have everything one needs or wishes. The Smiths don’t have much money, but their children seem to want for nothing. Jean’s husband spoils her. She wants for nothing.

warm as toast Go to (as) warm as toast.

warm the bench [for a player] to remain out of play during a game—seated on a bench. John spent the whole game warming the bench. Mary never warms the bench. She plays from the beginning to the end.

warm the cockles of someone’s heart to make someone feel warm and happy.

It warms the cockles of my heart to hear you say that. Hearing that old song again warmed the cockles of her heart.

warm up to someone to become friendly with someone; to get used to a person and become friends. It took a while before John warmed up to me, but then we became good friends. It’s hard to warm up to Sally. She’s very quiet and shy.

warts and all including all the faults and disadvantages. Jim has many faults, but Jean loves him, warts and all. The place where we went on vacation had some dismal aspects, but we liked it, warts and all.

wash a few things out to do a little bit of laundry, such as socks and underclothing.

I’m sorry I can’t go out tonight. I’ve got to wash a few things out. T I’ll be ready to leave in just a minute. I’ve just got to wash out a few things.

wash-and-wear referring to clothing made out of a kind of cloth that looks presentable after washing without ironing.

I always travel with wash-and-wear clothing. All his shirts are wash-and- wear, and this makes his life much easier since he used to burn them when he ironed them.

wash one’s dirty linen in public Go to air one’s dirty linen in public.

wash one’s hands of someone or something to end one’s association with someone or something. I washed my hands of Tom. I wanted no more to do with him. That car was a real headache. I washed my hands of it long ago.

washed-out exhausted; lacking energy. (Informal.) Pam was completely washed-out after the birth of the baby. I feel washed-out. I need a vacation.

washed-up finished. (Informal.) “You’re through, Tom,” said the manager, “fired— washed-up!” Max is washed-up as a bank teller.

waste one’s breath to waste one’s time talking; to talk in vain. (Informal.) Don’t waste your breath talking to her. She won’t


wear and tear (on something)

listen. You can’t persuade me. You’re just wasting your breath.

waste someone to kill someone. (Slang, especially criminal slang.) The thief tried to waste the bank guard after the bank robbery. The crook said, “Try that again, and I’ll waste you!”

watch one’s step to act with care and caution so as not to make a mistake or offend someone. (Also literal.) John had better watch his step with the new boss. He won’t put up with his lateness. Mary was told by the lecturer to watch her step and stop missing classes.

watch out Go to watch out for someone or something.

watch out for someone or something AND look out for someone or something 1. [with someone] to watch over and care for someone.

When I was a kid, my older brother always watched out for me. I really needed someone to look out for me then. 2. to be on guard for someone or something; to be on watch for the arrival or approach of someone or something. Watch out for someone wearing a white carnation. Look out for John and his friends. They’ll be coming this way very soon. 3. AND look out; watch out to try to avoid a confrontation with someone or something.

Watch out! That car nearly hit you! Look out for John. He’s looking for you, and he’s really mad. Thanks. I’d better look out.

watch over someone or something to monitor or guard someone or something. Please watch over my apartment while I am on vacation. I am looking for someone to watch over my grandmother during the day.

watch someone or something like a hawk to watch someone very carefully. The teacher watched the students like a hawk to make sure they did not cheat on the quiz. We have to watch our dog like a hawk in case he runs away.

water something down 1. to dilute a liquid, usually with water. The punch was good until someone watered it down. This is too strong! Water it down. 2. to make

something milder or less intense. (Refers to diluting as in sense 1.) The language in the script was rude but realistic until someone watered it down. T Professor Jones sometimes waters down his lectures so people can understand them better.

water under the bridge [something] past and forgotten. (Refers to water that has already flowed under a bridge and has gone downstream.) Please don’t worry about it anymore. It’s all water under the bridge. I can’t change the past. It’s water under the bridge.

wax and wane to increase and then decrease, especially with reference to the phases of the moon. As the moon waxes and wanes, so does the height of the tide change. Voter sentiment about the tax proposal waxes and wanes with each passing day.

[way of life] Go to one’s way of life.

(way) over there in a place some distance away. I see a house way over there in the field. My hat is over there on the table.

ways and means referring to the raising of money to pay for something. (Typically refers to a government committee or a committee of some organization charged with raising money.) The suggestion was referred to the ways and means committee for discussion at the next meeting.The proposed legislation is stalled in ways and means.

We aim to please. We really try to make people happy. We aim to please because we want you to be our customer. I’m glad you like our food. We aim to please.

weak as a baby Go to (as) weak as a baby.

weak as a kitten Go to (as) weak as a kitten.

a wealth of something a large amount of something. There’s a wealth of information on parrots at the library. The junkyard had a wealth of used car parts.

wear and tear (on something) the process of wearing down or breaking down something. Driving in freezing weather means lots of wear and tear on your car.


wear more than one hat

I drive carefully and sensibly to avoid wear and tear.

wear more than one hat to have more than one set of responsibilities; to hold more than one office. The mayor is also the police chief. She wears more than one hat. I have too much to do to wear more than one hat.

wear off to become less; to stop gradually. (Also literal.) The effects of the painkiller wore off and my tooth began to hurt.I was annoyed at first, but my anger wore off.

wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve AND have one’s heart on one’s sleeve to display one’s feelings openly and habitually, rather than keep them private. John always has his heart on his sleeve so that everyone knows how he feels. Because she wears her heart on her sleeve, it’s easy to hurt her feelings.

wear on someone to bother or annoy someone. We stayed with them only a short time because my children seemed to wear on them. Always being short of money wears on a person after a while.

wear out one’s welcome to stay too long (at an event to which one has been invited); to visit somewhere too often.

Tom visited the Smiths so often that he wore out his welcome. At about midnight, I decided that I had worn out my welcome, so I went home.

wear someone down to overcome someone’s objections; to persist until someone has been persuaded. John didn’t want to go, but we finally wore him down. T We were unable to wear down John, and when we left, he was still insisting on running away from home.

wear someone out to exhaust someone; to make someone tired. The coach made the team practice until he wore them out. T If he wears out everybody on the team, nobody will be left to play in the game.

weasel out (of something) to get out or sneak out of something. (Refers to the ability of a weasel to move through tiny openings. Informal.) I don’t want to go to the meeting. I think I’ll try to weasel out

of it. You had better be there! Don’t try to weasel out!

weather permitting if the weather allows it. Weather permitting, we will be there on time. The plane lands at midnight, weather permitting.

weave in and out (of something) to move, drive, or walk in and out of something, such as traffic, a line, etc. The car was weaving in and out of traffic dangerously.The deer ran rapidly through the forest, weaving in and out of the trees.

wed(ded) to someone married to someone.

The couple will have been wed to each other for fifty years next June. Anne is wed to one of my cousins.

wedded to something mentally attached to something; firmly committed to something. The manager was wedded to the idea of getting new computers. The mayor was wedded to the new budget plan.

wee hours (of the night) Go to small hours (of the night).

weed someone or something out to remove someone or something unwanted or undesirable from a group or collection.

We had to weed them out one by one. T The auditions were held to weed out the actors with the least ability. T I’m going through my books to weed out those that I don’t need anymore.

week in, week out every week, week after week. (Informal.) We have the same old food, week in, week out. I’m tired of this job. I’ve done the same thing—week in, week out—for three years.

weeks running Go to days running.

weigh on someone’s mind [for something] to be in a person’s thoughts; [for something] to be bothering someone’s thinking. This problem has been weighing on my mind for many days now. I hate to have things weighing on my mind. I can’t sleep when I’m worried.

weigh someone down [for a thought or worry] to worry or depress someone. (Also literal.) All these problems really weigh me down. T Financial problems


What have you been up to?

have been weighing down our entire family.

weigh someone’s words 1. to consider carefully what someone says. I listened to what he said, and I weighed his words very carefully. Everyone was weighing his words. None of us knew exactly what he meant. 2. to consider one’s own words carefully when speaking. I always weigh my words when I speak in public.John was weighing his words with great care because he didn’t want to be misunderstood.

welcome someone with open arms Go to receive someone with open arms.

welcome to do something to be free to do something. You’re welcome to leave whenever you wish. He’s welcome to join the club whenever he feels he’s ready.

well and good Go to (all) well and good.

well-disposed toward someone or something feeling positively toward someone or something; favorable toward someone or something. I do not think I will get a raise since the boss is not well-disposed toward me. The senators are welldisposed toward giving themselves a raise.

well-fixed Go to well-heeled.

well-heeled AND well-fixed; well-off wealthy; with sufficient money. My uncle can afford a new car. He’s wellheeled. Everyone in his family is welloff.

well-off Go to well-heeled.

well-to-do wealthy and of good social position. (Often with quite, as in the examples below.) The Jones family is quite well-to-do. There is a gentleman waiting for you at the door. He appears quite well-to-do.

well up in years aged; old. Jane’s husband is well up in years. He is nearly 75.Joan’s well up in years but healthy.

wet behind the ears AND not dry behind the ears young and inexperienced.

John’s too young to take on a job like this! He’s still wet behind the ears! He may be wet behind the ears, but he’s well

trained and totally competent. Tom is going into business by himself ? Why, he’s hardly dry behind the ears. That kid isn’t dry behind the ears. He’ll go broke in a month.

wet blanket a dull or depressing person who spoils other people’s enjoyment.

Jack’s fun at parties, but his brother’s a wet blanket. I was with Anne and she was being a real wet blanket.

wet someone’s whistle to take a drink of something. (Folksy.) Wow, am I thirsty. I need something to wet my whistle. Hey, Sally! Give her something to wet her whistle.

whale the tar out of someone Go to beat the living daylights out of someone.

What are you driving at? What are you implying?; What do you mean? (Informal.) What are you driving at? What are you trying to say? Why are you asking me all these questions? What are you driving at?

What can I say? I am at a loss for words. (Informal.) I’m sorry. I’ll pay for it. What can I say? What can I say? I never meant it to end like this.

What do you want me to say? You caught me and I’m sorry, and I don’t know what more to say. (Informal.) What do you want me to say? I apologized. There is nothing more I can do. Okay, so I’m wrong. What do you want me to say?

what for why?; for what reason? “I want you to clean your room.” “What for? It’s clean enough.” What did you do that for?

What goes around, comes around. The results of things that one has done will someday have an effect on the person who started the events. (Proverb.) So he finally gets to see the results of his activities. Whatever goes around, comes around. Now he is the victim of his own policies. Whatever goes around comes around.

What have you been up to? I haven’t seen you for a long time, so tell me what you have been doing? (Informal. In other


what if

persons also.) Hi, Tom. Where have you been? What have you been up to? What have you been up to? Busy, I am sure.

what if what would be the result if something were true? What if you had all the money you want? What if everyone thought you were great?

what makes someone tick something that motivates someone; something that makes someone behave in a certain way. (Informal.) William is sort of strange. I don’t know what makes him tick. When you get to know people, you find out what makes them tick.

what makes something tick to cause something to run or function. I don’t know what makes it tick. I took apart the radio to find out what made it tick.

What one doesn’t know won’t hurt one.

Unknown facts cannot worry or upset a person. (Proverb.) Don’t tell me that I have made a mistake. What I don’t know won’t hurt me. Don’t tell him the truth about his missing dog. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

Whatever will be, will be. Whatever will happen will just happen and there is little we can do about it. (Proverb.) There is little I can do at this stage. Whatever will be, will be. The doctors have done all they can. Whatever will be, will be.

What’s done is done. It is final and in the past. (Proverb.) It’s too late to change it now. What’s done is done. What’s done is done. The past cannot be altered.

What’s keeping you? What is taking you so long?; Why are you still there and not here? Dinner is ready, and you are still at work. I telephoned to ask what’s keeping you. What’s keeping you? I am ready to go and you are still in there dressing.

What’s new? How are you? Tell me what you have been doing. (Informal.) Good to see you. What’s new? What’s new? How are things down your way?

What’s the good of something? What is the point of something?; Why bother with something? What’s the good of my go-

ing at all if I’ll be late? There is no need to get there early. What’s the good of that?

What’s up? Hello. What is happening? (Informal.) What’s up? How’re you doing?Hey, Chuck! What’s up?

What’s with someone? What is bothering or affecting someone? (Slang.) John seems upset. What’s with him? There’s nothing wrong with me. What’s with you?

wheel and deal to take part in clever (but sometimes dishonest or immoral) business deals. John loves to wheel and deal in the money markets. Jack got tired of all the wheeling and dealing of big business and retired to run a pub in the country.

when all is said and done when everything is finished and settled; when everything is considered. (See also after all is said and done.) When all is said and done, this isn’t such a bad part of the country to live in after all. When all is said and done, I believe I had a very enjoyable time on my vacation.

when hell freezes over AND until hell freezes over never. (The first entry is always affirmative and the second is always negative.) I’ll say I’m sorry to you when hell freezes over! I won’t apologize until hell freezes over.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

One should behave in the same way that the local people behave. (Proverb.) I don’t usually eat lamb, but I did when I went to Australia. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. I always carry an umbrella when I visit London. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

when it comes right down to it all things considered; when one really thinks about something. When it comes right down to it, I’d like to find a new job. When it comes right down to it, he can’t really afford a new car.

when it comes to something as for something; speaking about something. (Informal.) When it comes to fishing, John is an expert. When it comes to trouble, Mary really knows how to cause it.


while away the time

when least expected when one does not expect (something). An old car is likely to give you trouble when least expected. My pencil usually breaks when least expected.

when one is good and ready when one is completely ready. (Informal.) I’ll be there when I’m good and ready. Ann will finish the job when she’s good and ready and not a minute sooner.

when push comes to shove when the situation becomes more difficult; when matters escalate. (See also if push comes to shove.) When push comes to shove, I will take a stronger position. When push comes to shove, I will come up with the money you need.

When the cat’s away, the mice will play.

Some people will get into mischief when they are not being watched. (Proverb.)

The students behaved very badly for the substitute teacher. When the cat’s away, the mice will play. John had a wild party at his house when his parents were out of town. When the cat’s away, the mice will play.

when the chips are down at the final, critical moment; when things really get difficult. When the chips are down, I know that I can depend on Jean to help out. I knew you would come and help when the chips were down.

when the going gets rough Go to when the going gets tough.

when the going gets tough AND when the going gets rough when things get extremely difficult; when it becomes difficult to proceed. (Also literal when referring to travel. A second line is sometimes added to the main entry phrase: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. This means that when things become difficult, strong people began to work or move faster and harder.)

When the going gets tough, I will be there to help you. I appreciate the kind words you sent to us when the going got a little rough last month.

when the time is ripe at exactly the right time. I’ll tell her the good news when

the time is ripe. When the time is ripe, I’ll bring up the subject again.

where one is coming from one’s point of view. (Slang.) I think I know what you mean. I know where you’re coming from.Man, you don’t know where I’m coming from! You don’t understand a single word I say.

where one lives Go to close to home.

Where there’s a will there’s a way. One can do something if one really wants to. (Proverb.) Don’t give up, Ann. You can do it. Where there’s a will there’s a way. They told John he’d never walk again after his accident. He worked at it, and he was able to walk again! Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Where there’s smoke there’s fire. Evidence of a problem probably indicates that there really is a problem. (Proverb.)

There is a lot of noise coming from the classroom. There is probably something wrong. Where there’s smoke there’s fire. I think there is something wrong at the old house on the corner. The police are there again. Where there’s smoke there’s fire.

Where was I? Go to (Now), where was I?

Where’ve you been hiding yourself?

Hello, I haven’t seen you in a long time. (In other persons also.) I haven’t seen you in a long time. Where’ve you been hiding yourself ? Where’ve you been hiding yourself ? We missed you at the meeting.

whet someone’s appetite to cause someone to be interested in something and to be eager to have, know, learn, etc., more about it. Seeing that film really whetted my sister’s appetite for horror films. She now sees as many as possible. My appetite for theater was whetted when I was very young.

whether or not either if something is the case or if something is not the case; one way or the other. I’ll drive to New York tomorrow whether or not it rains. T I’m going to the mall whether you come with me or not.

while away the time to spend or waste time. I like to read to while away the


whip something into shape

time. T Jane whiles the time away by daydreaming.

whip something into shape Go to lick something into shape.

whip something up to prepare, create, or put something together quickly. (Informal.)

I haven’t written my report yet, but I’ll whip one up before the deadline. T Come in and sit down. I’ll go whip up something to eat.

white as a sheet Go to (as) white as a sheet.

white as the driven snow Go to (as) white as the driven snow.

white elephant something that is useless and which is either a nuisance or is expensive to keep up. (From the gift of a white elephant by the kings of Siam [Thailand] to courtiers who displeased them, knowing the cost of the upkeep would ruin them.) Bob’s father-in-law has given him an old Rolls-Royce, but it’s a real white elephant. He has no place to park it and can’t afford the maintenance on it. Those antique vases Aunt Mary gave me are white elephants. They’re ugly and take ages to clean.

Who do you think you’re kidding? I don’t believe you, and what makes you think you can deceive me? (In other persons also.) Who does he think he’s kidding? Nobody believes him. A: You are the finest batter I’ve ever seen. B: Who do you think you’re kidding?

Who do you think you’re talking to? Do you know the importance of the person [me] you are talking to? (In other persons also.) Who do you think you’re talking to? I’m the boss here, you know! Don’t talk to me that way! Who do you think you are talking to?

Who would have thought? I would never have guessed that something so surprising could happen. So he’s run off with the maid. Who would have thought? It turns out she robbed a bank when she was 18. Who would have thought?

the whole ball of wax AND the whole shooting match the whole thing; the

whole matter or affair; the entire affair or organization. John is not a good manager. Instead of delegating jobs to others, he runs the whole shooting match himself.There’s not a hard worker in that whole shooting match. I will be glad to be finished with this project. I want to be done with the whole ball of wax. I am tired of this job. I am fed up with the whole ball of wax.

(whole) new ball game a new set of circumstances. (Slang. Originally from sports.) It’s a whole new ball game since Jane took over the office. You can’t do the things you used to do around here. It’s a new ball game.

the whole shooting match Go to the whole ball of wax.

whoop it up to enjoy oneself in a lively and noisy manner. (Informal.) John’s friends really whooped it up at his bachelor party. Jean wants to have a large party and whoop it up to celebrate her promotion.

the whys and wherefores of something the reason or causes relating to something.

I refuse to discuss the whys and wherefores of my decision. It’s final. Bob doesn’t know the whys and wherefores of his contract. He just knows that it means he will get a lot of money when he finishes the work.

wide-awake completely awake. After the telephone rang, I was wide-awake for an hour. I’m not very wide-awake at six o’clock in the morning.

wide of the mark 1. far from the target.

Tom’s shot was wide of the mark. The pitch was quite fast, but wide of the mark.

2. inadequate; far from what is required or expected. Jane’s efforts were sincere, but wide of the mark. He failed the course because everything he did was wide of the mark.

wild about someone or something enthusiastic about someone or something. Bill is wild about chocolate ice cream. Sally is wild about Tom and his new car.

awild-goose chase a worthless hunt or chase; a futile pursuit. I wasted all af-


wipe the floor up with someone

ternoon on a wild-goose chase. John was angry because he was sent out on a wildgoose chase.

Wild horses couldn’t drag someone. nothing could force someone (to go somewhere). (Informal.) I refuse to go to that meeting! Wild horses couldn’t drag me. Wild horses couldn’t drag her to that game.

will not hear of something will not tolerate or permit something. You mustn’t drive home alone. I won’t hear of it. My parents won’t hear of my staying out that late.

win by a nose to win by the slightest amount of difference. (Informal. As in a horse race where one horse wins with only its nose ahead of the horse that comes in second.) I ran the fastest race I could, but I only won by a nose. Sally won the race, but she only won by a nose.

win out (over someone or something) to beat someone or something in a race or a contest. My horse won out over yours, so you lose your bet. I knew I could win out if I just kept trying.

win someone over to succeed in gaining the support and sympathy of someone.

Jane’s parents disapproved of her engagement at first, but she won them over. I’m trying to win the boss over and get him to give us the day off.

win the day Go to carry the day.

wind down to decrease or diminish.

Things are very busy now, but they’ll wind down in about an hour. I hope business winds down soon. I’m exhausted.

wind something up to conclude something. (Also literal.) Today we’ll wind that deal up with the bank. T I have a few items of business to wind up; then I’ll be with you.

wind up doing something Go to end up doing something.

wind up somewhere Go to end up somewhere.

window-shopping the habit or practice of looking at goods in shop windows or stores without actually buying anything.

Mary and Jane do a lot of window-

shopping in their lunch hour, looking for things to buy when they get paid. Jane said she was just window-shopping, but she bought a new coat.

wine and dine someone to treat someone to an expensive meal of the type that includes fine wines; to entertain someone lavishly. The lobbyists wined and dined the senators one by one in order to influence them. We were wined and dined every night and given the best hotel accommodations in town.

wing it to do the best that one can in a situation, especially when one is not prepared. (Compare this with play something by ear.) I lost my notes before my speech, and I had to wing it. The professor, it turned out, was winging it in every single lecture.

wink at something to ignore something. (Informal.) Billy caused me a little trouble, but I just winked at it. This is a serious matter, and you can’t expect me just to wink at it.

wipe someone or something out 1. to cause someone to be broke. (Slang.) They wiped me out in the poker game. T The crop failure wiped out all the farmers. 2. to exterminate someone or something. (Slang.) The hunters came and wiped all the deer out. T The crooks wiped out the two witnesses.

wipe someone’s slate clean to erase someone’s (bad) record. (Figurative.) I’d like to wipe my slate clean and start all over again. Bob did badly in high school, but he wiped his slate clean and did a good job in college.

wipe something off 1. to remove something (from something else) by wiping or rubbing. There is mud on your shirt. Please wipe it off. T My shirt has catsup on it. I must wipe off the catsup. 2. to tidy or clean something by wiping (something else) off. Please wipe the table off. There’s water on it. T Wipe off your shirt. There’s catsup on it.

wipe the floor up with someone to beat or physically abuse someone. (Slang. Usually said as a threat. See also mop the


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