Idioms and Expressions That Use Have

Young woman whispering secret into friend's ear
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The following idioms and expressions use the verb 'have'. Each idiom or expression has a definition and two example sentences to help your understanding of these common idiomatic expressions with 'have'.

English Idioms and Expressions Using 'Have'

Have a big mouth.

Definition: somebody who tells secrets, who is a gossip

  • Don't talk to Mary she has a big mouth.
  • If you didn't have such a big mouth, I'd tell you my secrets.

Have a bee in your bonnet.

Definition: have an obsession, something that always remains in your thoughts and efforts

  • She has a bee in her bonnet that health care must change.
  • If I have a bee in my bonnet, I have to do everything I can until I can make it happen.

Have a bone to pick with someone.

Definition: have something (usually a complaint) that you want to discuss with someone

  • I have a bone to pick with you. Just a moment, let's talk.
  • Tom's looking for Pete because he's got a bone to pick with him.

Have a brush with something.

Definition: have brief contact, or experience with someone or something

  • I had a brief brush with Jack and I didn't like it.
  • He's had a brief brush with unemployment.

Have a chip on your shoulder.

Definition: be in a bad mood and challenging people to fight

  • Don't take him seriously, he just has a chip on his shoulder.
  • Yes, I have a chip on my shoulder! What are YOU going to do about it?!

Have a close call.

Definition: be close to danger

  • I had a close call yesterday and was almost in an accident.
  • She's had a few close calls in her life.

Have a familiar ring.

Definition: sound familiar, as if you've heard it before

  • That story has a familiar ring. Did we read that last year?
  • Her experiences have a familiar ring. I guess everybody goes through that.

Have a good head on your shoulders.

Definition: have common sense, be sensible

  • Jack has a good head on his shoulders. Don't worry about him.
  • I think you have a good head on your shoulders. You should trust your decision.

Have a green thumb.

Definition: be very good at gardening

  • Alice obviously has a green thumb. Look at that garden!
  • My wife has a green thumb, so I let her do all the gardening.

Have a heart.

Definition: be compassionate or generous and forgiving with somebody

  • Don't hold that against her. Have a heart!
  • I think he'll have a heart and forgive you.

Have a heart of gold.

Definition: be generous and sincere

  • Mary has a heart of gold. I just love her.
  • The teacher has a heart of gold with her students.

Have a heart of stone.

Definition: be cold and unresponsive, unforgiving

  • Don't make him angry. He has a heart of stone.
  • I can't believe how he treats his children. He's got a heart of stone.

Have an ax to grind.

Definition: complain about something often

  • He has an ax to grind against his health care provider.
  • I know you have an ax to grind against Agatha, but stop complaining!

Have an in with someone.

Definition: have special access to someone (often used at work)

  • She has an in with the boss. Let her ask him for permission.
  • I wish I had an in with the director so I could get a promotion.

Have a one-track mind.

Definition: always thinking about one thing

  • He has a one track mind. He can't talk about anything besides golf.
  • Do you have a one-track mind?

Have a soft spot in your heart for someone or something.

Definition: love or adore a thing or person

  • I've got a soft spot in my heart for Maria Callas.
  • He has a soft spot in his heart for pinball!

Have a sweet tooth.

Definition: like sweets too much

  • I know you have a sweet tooth, but you need to be careful.
  • I need to watch my weight, especially because I have a sweet tooth.

Have clean hands.

Definition: to without guilt, guiltless

  • Don't blame him, he has clean hands.
  • The man claimed to have clean hands in the crime.

Have egg on one's face.

Definition: be embarrassed after having done something very stupid

  • I had egg on my face after I asked that stupid question.
  • I don't think he realizes he has egg on his face.

Have eyes in the back of your head.

Definition: seem able to follow everything that is going on, even though you do not focus on it

  • She has eyes in the back of her head. Be careful!
  • The students believed their teacher had eyes in the back his head.

Have mixed feelings.

Definition: to be uncertain about something or someone

  • Janice has mixed feelings about Ken.
  • Brad has mixed feelings about buying a new car.

Have money to burn.

Definition: have an excess of money

  • Don't worry about it! She's got money to burn.
  • Do you think I have money to burn?! Of course, I can't buy you a diamond ring.

Have your hands tied.

Definition: be prevented from doing something

  • I'm afraid I have my hands tied and can't help you.
  • Peter told me he had his hands tied on the Franklin deal.

Have your head in the clouds.

Definition: to not pay attention to what is going on around you

  • Doug had his head in the clouds all the time he was at university.
  • Do you have your head in the clouds?! Pay attention!

Have your tail between your leg.

Definition: be afraid of something, not have the ​courage to do something

  • He just couldn't approach her. He seemed to have his tail between his legs.
  • Janet went to her father with her tail between her legs and asked for forgiveness.

Have other fish to fry.

Definition: have more important things to do, have other opportunities

  • Look. I have other fish to fry, so just say yes or no.
  • Susan had other fish to fry and left her position at the bank.

Have someone or something in your hands.

Definition: have the responsibility for someone or something

  • I have the project in my hands. If you have any questions, come to me.
  • She had her boyfriend in her hands. She could do anything.

Have the Midas touch.

Definition: have the ability to easily be successful

  • He'll succeed. He's got the Midas touch.
  • Ask her to approach those difficult clients. She has the Midas touch.

Have the presence of mind to do something.

Definition: stay calm in a dangerous or frightening, or emergency situation

  • He had the presence of mind to cover her up before he went to find help.
  • Alice has the presence of mind to take along some extra food before setting out on the hike.
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Your Citation
Beare, Kenneth. "Idioms and Expressions That Use Have." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Beare, Kenneth. (2023, April 5). Idioms and Expressions That Use Have. Retrieved from Beare, Kenneth. "Idioms and Expressions That Use Have." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).