Charts & Graphs


The idioms we owe to sports.

Phrase Origin
Across the board Betting
All the right moves Chess, checkers
Blindside Football
Break the ice Sailing
Call off your dogs Fox hunting
Can of worms Fishing
Charley horse Baseball
Cocksure Cockfighting
Come away empty-handed Hunting
Come full circle Medieval fortune wheel
Cut a deal Card games
Decked out Sailing
Dig in your heels Tug-of-war
Down and dirty Poker
Face off Ice hockey
Fair play Sports in general
Fair shake Dice games
Floored Boxing
Follow suit Card games
From pillar to post Tennis
Game changer Baseball
Get off the hook Fishing
Get the ball rolling Soccer
Give a wide berth Sailing
Give someone free rein Horse riding
Good break Pool
Hand over fist Sailing
Hard to pin down Wrestling
Hardball Baseball
Have an off day Baseball
High jinks Dice games
Hit-or-miss Hunting
Hoodwinked Falconry
In one fell swoop Falconry
In the nick of time Soccer
Jockey for position Horse racing
Keep the ball rolling Ice hockey
Leave in the lurch Card games
Level the playing field Football, soccer
Make a pass at Fencing
Make a play for Chess
Nice guys finish last Baseball
Off the wall Racquetball
Only game in town Poker, craps
Out of left field Baseball
Over a barrel Swimming
Pit stop Car racing
Play the field Betting
Pull a fast one Cricket
Pull your weight Rowing
Punch-drunk Boxing
Quick on the draw Dueling
Raw deal Poker
Rest on your laurels Ancient Olympic games
Right up your alley Baseball
Rope someone in Rodeo
Run interference for Football
Saved by the bell Boxing
See red Bullfighting
Sit tight Poker
Start from scratch Boxing, foot racing
Stay the course Racing
Take a rain check Baseball
Take someone down a peg Cribbage
Teed off Golf
Three strikes and you’re out Baseball
Touché Fencing
Triple threat Football
Up your sleeve Card games
Win hands down Horse racing, boxing
The zone Tennis