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Speak Business English Like an American Lesson 1 Idioms and Expressions Test

Speak Business English Like an American Lesson 1 Idioms and Expressions Test

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LESSON 1 – Talking about a New Project


Carl, Greg, and Anne work for WaterSonic Corporation. Recently, the company has come up with an idea for a new electric toothbrush.

Carl: I think we’ve come up with a winner.

Anne: I agree. The new Brush-o-matic toothbrush should be a blockbuster!

Carl: Our designers have already made up some prototypes * The toothbrushes have a tooth-whitening attachment and many other bells and whistles.

Greg: We should fast track this project. Let’s try to launch it in time for the holiday season.

Anne: This will be a great stocking stuffer!

Carl: We definitely need a big win for the holidays.

Anne: This is a great idea. We’re going to make a killing.

Greg: Let’s not talk about this project to anybody who doesn’t need to know. We’ll keep it under wraps.

Carl: I agree. Mum’s the word. We don’t want any of our competitors to get wind of the idea and rip it off!

Anne: Right. Let’s meet again on Monday morning and discuss our game plan for getting this project off the ground!


  • (to) come up with a winner

 to think up a very good idea

EXAMPLE: Everybody likes Pepsi’s new advertising campaign. Their advertising agency has come up with a winner.

  • blockbuster

 a big success; a huge hit

EXAMPLE: Eli Lilly made a lot of money with the prescription drug, Prozac. It was a real blockbuster.

ORIGIN: This term comes from the blockbuster bombs used during World War Two by the British Royal Air Force. They were huge and created a large explosive force. Blockbuster ideas similarly create a big impact — and hopefully don’t cause destruction like blockbuster bombs!

  • bells and whistles

 extra product features, usually using the latest technologies; product features which are attractive, but not essential for the product to function

EXAMPLE: Our office just got a new copier with all the bells and whistles. I’ll probably never learn how to use all of its features!

  • (to) fast track a project

 to make a project a high priority; to speed up the time frame of a project

EXAMPLE: Let’s fast track this project. We’ve heard rumors that our competitors are developing similar products.

  • stocking stuffer

 a small gift given at Christmas time

EXAMPLE: These new mini travel pillows will make great stocking stuffers!

NOTE: This expression comes from the practice of kids hanging up stockings that Santa Claus fills (or “stuffs”) with small gifts.

  • big win

 a huge success; a successful product

EXAMPLE: The drug company spent millions on research and development, hoping that one of their new products would be a big win.

  • (to) make a killing

 to make a lot of money

EXAMPLE: Suzanne made a killing on her Google stock and retired at 40.

SYNONYM: to make a fortune

  • (to) keep something under wraps

 to keep something secret; to not let anybody know about a new project or plan

EXAMPLE: I’m sorry I can’t tell you anything about the project I’m working on. My boss told me to keep it under wraps.

NOTE: “Wraps” are things that provide cover, so if something is “under wraps” it’s covered up and hidden.

  • mum’s the word

 let’s keep quiet about this; I agree not to tell anyone about this

EXAMPLE: Please don’t tell anybody about our new project. Remember: mum’s the word!

ORIGIN: The word “mum” comes from the murmur “mmmmm,” the only sound you can make when your mouth is shut firmly. Try making other sounds besides “mmmmm” with your lips and mouth shut firmly, and you will see that it’s impossible!

  • (to) get wind of

 to find out about something, often sensitive information

EXAMPLE: When the restaurant owner got wind of the fact that one of his waiters was stealing money from the cash register, he was furious.

  • (to) rip off

 to copy an idea; to steal

EXAMPLE: Why doesn’t the Donox Company ever think up any original ideas? All they ever do is rip off their competitors!

NOTE: “Rip off’ is also a noun. Example: We were charged $10,000 for a small advertisement in the newspaper. What a rip off!

  • game plan

 an action plan; a plan for how a project will proceed

EXAMPLE: The software company’s game plan is to expand its operations into China and India over the next year.

ORIGIN: In football, a “game plan” is a strategy for winning.

  • (to) get something off the ground

 to get started on something, often a project

EXAMPLE: We’ve been sitting around talking about this project for months. It’s time to take action and get it off the ground!

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