Idioms and Expressions With the Word Make

Torso of a man in a pinstriped suit with sticky notes on his suit
Karina Mansfield/Moment/Getty Images

The following idioms and expressions use 'make'. Each idiom or expression has a definition and example sentences to help you understand these common idiomatic expressions with 'make'. Once you have studied these expressions, test your knowledge with quiz testing idioms and expressions with 'make'.

There are many other words that often find their way into common idioms and expressions including have, run, work, and like.

Make a Beeline for Someone or Something

  • To go directly to someone or something as soon as you arrive.

I got to the party and made a beeline for Susan.
He made a beeline for the booth as soon as he arrived.

Make a Clean Sweep

  • To get rid of everything or everyone to start anew.

I'm afraid we'll have to make a clean sweep and start over.
The police made a clean sweep of the area by arresting everyone. 

Make a Comeback

  • To become successful again after having been away from the scene or society for a long time

The actress made a comeback in her latest movie.
You'll have to make a comeback and take over the company.

Make a Face

  • Contort your face, make a strange expression often used with 'at someone'.

She tasted the soup and made a face. It must have been awful.
Don't make a face at me! I know you're not happy.

Make a Fool out of Someone

  • To trick someone and make them look bad.

She made a fool out of him and then left him for another man.
I don't think you'll ever make a fool out of me.

Make a Fuss

  • To pay a lot of attention to someone or something.

She made a fuss the last time we visited, so let's take a gift.
I'm afraid I make a bit of a fuss over my plants in the garden.

Make a Go of It

  • To become successful, have success in business.

It took us a few years to make a go of it, but everything's fine now.
Bob made a go of it as an opera singer in Europe. 

Make a Killing

  • To earn a lot of money.

Peter has been making a killing as a hedge fund manager.
They made a killing in real estate and retired.

Make a Living

  • To earn money in a profession or trade.

He makes a living selling insurance to the elderly.
Can you make a good living by teaching?

Make a Name for Oneself

  • To become famous or well known.

Jennifer made a name for herself as an actress on Broadway.
One day you'll get out into the world and make a name for yourself.

Make a Point

  • To make something understood to others.

I'm trying to make a point about your lack of effort.
The presentation made the point that you need to start saving early in life.

Make a Run for It

  • To try to escape from a bad situation, or just from the rain or something equally unpleasant.

Let's make a run for those trees over there. They should keep us dry.
The bank robbers made a run for it, but the police caught them within two hours.

Make a Scene

  • To become very upset and vocal so that others notice you.

The little girl made a scene every time her mother didn't immediately buy her what she wanted.
Don't make a scene about this. Let's go home and talk about it.

Make a Stink

  • To complain loudly about something.

She made a stink to human resources after she didn't get the promotion.
I'll go down to the store and make a stink about this!

Make an Example of Someone

  • To do something negative to someone in order that others understand that they should not do the same.

The boss decided to fire him to make an example of him to the other employees.
I'm afraid he made an example of her and she started to cry in front of everybody.

Make an Exception

  • To not do something that is usually the rule.

I'll make an exception this one time. Next time, don't forget your homework.
Can you make an exception and let me take the test next week?

Make Arrangements 

  • To do everything needed in order to be sure that something is done properly.

I'll make arrangements for this to be shipped to Japan.
We made arrangements for the meeting next week.

Make Ends Meet

  • To earn enough money to pay the bills.

He works as an English teacher to make ends meet.
You might not get rich, but you'll certainly make ends meet.

Make Fun Of 

  • To joke at the expense of someone.

He made fun of her makeup and she began to cry.
Don't make fun of Peter! He's a great guy!

Make Good on Something

  • To do something you have promised or feel you owe someone.

Let me make good on it by taking you out to dinner.
Jason made good on the bet after two weeks. 

Make Light of Something

  • To joke about something serious.

I think you need to make light of the whole situation. What good does it do to worry so much?
They made light of the mistake and continued with the job.

Make Mischief

  • To do something naughty, to get in trouble.

The boys made mischief over the holidays and were grounded for three days.
I know you're making mischief. I can see the twinkle in your eye.

Make Sense 

  • To try to understand something, to be understandable.

Does that make any sense to you?
I'm trying to make sense of this situation.

Make Short Work of Something

  • To do something quickly.

Let's make short work of the garden and have a beer.
She made short work of the report and moved on to the presentation.

Make Someone Tick

  • To be responsible for how someone acts in life.

His love of music makes him tick.
What makes you tick? What really gets you excited?

Make Something Up

  • To invent something that isn't true, to tell a false story.

He made up an excuse to get out of work that day.
Have you ever made something up?

Make the Grade

  • To be good enough.

I'm afraid your work here doesn't make the grade.
Do you think this painting will make the grade at the competition?

Make Waves

  • To cause others trouble, often by complaining a lot. Can also mean to become noticed, usually by some type of disruption, which can be good or bad.

Many people say it's important to not make waves at work. That's how we get into a mess!
Her father made waves until the school decided to give her another chance.