Common Business Idioms Gap Fill

Here in the United States it's quite common for people who excel at sports to become business people. That's not always the case, but it is often true. Sports have a strong influence over North American culture. For example, when someone succeeds at something we say that he or she "hit a home room" or "hit it out of the ball park" or "made a hole in one."  Make sure to check out the linked sport idiom exercises.


However, we don't use only idioms related to sports. In fact, idioms come from all kinds of situations. The common thread is that idioms are used in everyday speech, but rarely used in formal written reports. Here are a number of business idioms that are quite common in everyday business situations.

Business Idiom Fill the Gap Exercise

Fill in the blanks with the following idioms and expressions. Be careful and  change the verb if necessary.

farm something out, get up and running, team player, drop a few gs, pass the buck, make waves, micromanager, spread yourself too thin, talk shop, think outside the box, go like clockwork, get a foot inside the door, slacker, win-win situation, learn the ropes, wheeler & dealer, household name, make cold calls, mix business with pleasure, pull your weight

1.    I wish my boss weren’t such a _______________________. I think I’d get a lot more work done without his “help.”

    I spent the whole night ____________________________. I hate having to bother people to get enough money together to pay the rent.
3.    Peter refused to accept responsibility and ________________________ onto John.
4.    My brother Larry is such a _____________________________ ! I think he has at least three shops in two different cities.

5.    Let’s get together and _______________________. I’ve got a few ideas on how we could work together.
6.    Jane is such a _______________________. I have to explain when I ask for anything. She can’t even take care of basic office stuff.
7.    Our company certainly isn’t a __________________ yet, but I think you’ll hear about it us soon in the news.
8.    You study English. I get to meet really interesting people. It’s a ______________________!
9.    The director decided to ______________________________ customer service calls to save on salary costs.
10.    Be quiet! Stop _______________________ ! You’ll get fired if you aren’t careful.
11. You've got to _________________________ too thin. You're going to have a heart attack with all that stress.
12. Bob is a real ______________________. If it's for the good of the group, he'll redo a whole report - no questions asked.
13. We have to __________________________ if we are going to attract new customers. People are tired of the same old thing.
14. I ______________________ when I attended the business conference in Hawaii last year.
15. We have a new computer system. I need to call a networking specialist to _____________________.
16. How long did it take you to ____________________ in your new job?

I needed three months!
17. Call Mary over at Thomson and Sons. She'll help you _______________________. 
18. It's time you start _________________________ around the office! I'm sick and tired of doing everything for you.
19. The company ___________________________ on that amazing party at the business conference.
20. The meeting ______________________________. We beat the competition and signed the contract. 


1. micromanager
2. making cold calls
3. passed the buck 
4. wheeler and dealer
5. talk shop
6. slacker
7. household name
8. win-win situation
9. farm out
10. making waves
11. spreading yourself too thin
12. team player
13. think outside the box
14  mixed business with pleasure
15. get up and running
16. learn the ropes
17. get a foot in the door
18. pulling your weight
19. dropped a few g's
20. went like clockwork

Idioms in Context

One way to learn idioms is to learn them in context. The following short stories related to business provide definitions for approximately 15 idioms included in the story. 

John's Keys to Success
An Unpleasant Colleague
My Cousin Crazy Eddy
Odd Man Out
The Inventor's Lesson
The Economy is Tough
A Very Difficult Boss
My Successful Friend