Words and phrases I learned from House of Cards – 2

killer instinct

a ruthless determination to succeed or win.

“he had that hunger, that killer instinct
“In today’s cut-throat competition, you must have a killer instinct to survive.”


formally accuse of or charge with a crime.

“His former manager was indicted for fraud.”
“A grand jury is expected to indict him for murder.”


[Law] wilfully tell an untruth or make a misrepresentation under oath; commit perjury.

She admitted that shed had perjured herself.
If you perjure, you’ll be indicted for perjury.


to deceive someone by making them think either that you are going to do something when you really have no intention of doing it, or that you have knowledge that you do not really have, or that you are someone else.

“Is he going to jump or is he only bluffing?”
“Kevin seems to know a lot about music, but somethimes I think he is only bluffing.”
“She bluffed the doorman into thinking that she was a reporter.”


(of people and animals) nervous or easily frightened.
“My horse is very skittish, so I have to keep him away from traffic.”
“Investors are skittish about the impact of an economic downturn.”

(of a person) not serious and likely to change their beliefs or opinions often.
“Marilyn was like a child, playful and skittish one moment, sulky and withdrawn the next.”

toe the line

accept the authority, policies, or principles of a particular group, especially unwillingly.

“he knew that he had to toe the official line because he couldn’t afford to be put on the dole”
“If you want to go ahead, you’d better learn to toe the line.


communication between people or groups who work with each other

“The head porter works in close liaison with the reception office.”
“He blamed the lack of liaison between the various government departments.”
“The police have appointed a liaison officer to work with the local community.”


(n.) a dance in triple time performed by a couple, who as a pair turn rhythmically round and round as they progress around the dance floor.
“he thought the waltz the most difficult dance to master.”

(v.) dance a waltz.
“I waltzed across the floor with the lieutenant”

(v.) act casually, confidently, or inconsiderately.
“You can’t waltz in here and bark orders at me.”

wither on the vine

fail to be implemented or dealt with because of inaction.

“that resolution clearly withered on the vine
“If you don’t commit to it, it will wither on the vine.


excessive pride or self-confidence.

“the self-assured hubris among economists was shaken in the late 1980s.”
“If you were born Somewhere, hubris would come easy. But if you are Nowhere’s child, hubris is an import, pride a thing you decide to acquire.”
“When conceived it was a project of almost unimaginable boldness and foolhardiness, requiring great bravura, risking great hubris.”


bitterly disappointed or upset.

“I know how gutted the players must feel.”
“He was gutted when she finished the relationship.”

go above and beyond

to do more or better than would usually be expected of someone.

“He’s always been a good friend, but while I was ill he really went above and beyond.”
“We have a very dedicated team of people who go above and beyond what is required.”
“a medal for bravery that goes above and beyond the call of duty


a long, snake-like fish that uses its sucking mouth to feed off the blood of other animals


a small square piece of bread that is fried or toasted (= heated until it is dry and brown), added to soup or a salad just before you eat it

pull no punches

Behave unrestrainedly, hold nothing back, as in The doctor pulled no punches but told us the whole truth. This expression comes from boxing, where to pull one’s punches means “to hit less hard than one can.” This idiom, too, has been applied more generally, as in They decided to pull their punches during these delicate negotiations.

OR not pull any/your punches

to speak in an honest way without trying to be kind.
“Her image is that of an investigative reporter who doesn’t pull any punches.

Read this blog.

give someone a run for his or her money

to be as good at something as someone who is extremely good
“He’ll give those professional players a run for their money.

to make it difficult for (someone) to win a game or contest by trying hard and playing or performing well
“Though they lost, they gave last year’s champions a run for their money.

penny wise and pound foolish

careful and economical in small matters while being wasteful or extravagant in large ones.

Read this blog.


lacking care or attention to duty; negligent.

“it would be very remiss of me not to pass on that information.”
“It would be remiss of me if I did not share with you the vital role God has played in my recovery.”


a very strong wind.

“I slept well despite the howling gales outside.”

an outburst of laughter.

“she collapsed into gales of laughter.”


an orchestral piece at the beginning of an opera, play, etc.

an introduction to something more substantial.
“the talks were no more than an overture to a long debate.”

brass tacks

details of immediate practical importance —usually used in the phrase get down to brass tacks

“Let’s get down to brass tacks. Who’s paying for all this?”

metal words brass tacks

7 Phrases That Are Just So Metal

press/push somebody’s buttons

to cause a strong reaction or emotion in someone.

My brother knows exactly how to push my buttons (= annoy me).
It’s not money that presses his buttons (= excites him) so much as the dealing and negotiation that goes with it.


crouch down in fear.

“children cowered in terror as the shoot-out erupted.”


the act or practice of choosing not to do or have something
abstention from drugs and alcohol”

a formal refusal to vote on something
“There were 10 ayes, 6 nays, and 2 abstentions.”


a tough and challenging contest, especially in sports such as boxing and baseball.
“The fight was a hard, horrible 12-round slugfest.

a situation in which people compete very hard with each other in order to be successful
“The race in Oklahoma for the US Senate has escalated into a slugfest in recent weeks”

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