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Speak Business English Like an American Lesson 18 Idioms and Expressions Test

Speak Business English Like an American Lesson 18 Idioms and Expressions Test

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LESSON 18 – Discussing Office Scandals


With his naughty behavior, Bill Swing provides plenty of material for office gossip. Cindy and Steve discuss his latest move and review his other recent insensitive behavior.

Cindy: Did you hear the latest dirt?

Steve: Of course not. I’m totally out of the loop! I’m always the last one to find out everything.

Cindy: According to the rumor mill, Bill Swing made a pass at Laura Teller, the new marketing manager. Now she’s threatening to sue him for sexual harassment.

Steve: Sounds like Bill’s up to his old tricks again. He’s always on the make. Last year, Paula Reynolds accused him of pinching her…

Cindy: I remember that. Too bad Paula quit before they could get to the bottom of it.

Steve: Two years ago he got nailed for organizing a company offsite to a strip joint!

Cindy: Oh, that really takes the cake. That’s so un-PC!

Steve: Bill is definitely not politically correct!

Cindy: What goes around comes around. One day, he’ll get his.


  • the latest dirt

 the latest gossip

EXAMPLE: Have you heard the latest dirt? Rob was fired for calling the chairman of the board a “jerk” to his face.

  • out of the loop

 unaware of what’s going on

EXAMPLE: If you want to know what’s really going on at the company, don’t bother asking Adam. He’s out of the loop.

  • according to the rumor mill

 according to gossip

EXAMPLE: According to the rumor mill, Neil didn’t leave his position voluntarily. He was fired.

  • (to) make a pass at someone

 to make a sexual advance toward someone

EXAMPLE: Glen got drunk at the office holiday party and made a pass at Amber, his secretary. Unfortunately for Glen, Amber’s boyfriend was in the same room!

  • up to one’s old tricks

 repeating the same behavior as before (usually annoying, dishonest, or sneaky behavior)

EXAMPLE: Our boss is up to his old tricks. This is the third time we’ve gone out to lunch and he’s forgotten his wallet back at the office.

  • on the make

 This idiom has 2 very different meanings: 1) actively looking for a sexual partner. 2) aggressively trying to improve one’s social or financial status

EXAMPLE1: Look at Ron flirting with our new receptionist! He’s always on the make.

EXAMPLE2: Jeff works 80-hour weeks as an investment banker in Manhattan. He’s as an ambitious young man on the make.

  • (to) get to the bottom of something

 to figure out what’s going on; to find out what’s causing a problem

EXAMPLE: When hundreds of people had heart attacks after taking Zylestra’s new prescription drug, the Federal Drug Administration promised to get to the bottom of it.

  • (to) get nailed

 to get in trouble; to get caught doing something

EXAMPLE: Troy tried to cheat on his expense report by including a dinner he had with his girlfriend, but he got nailed and had to return the money.

  • (to) take the cake

 to rank first; to be the best or worst example of something

EXAMPLE: Stuart stole your idea and presented it as his own during the meeting? That really takes the cake!

ORIGIN: Dating back to Ancient Greek times, a cake was a popular prize given to contest winners.

  • un-PC

 insensitive; offensive; not politically correct (PC)

EXAMPLE: George came right out and asked his colleague if he was gay? That’s so un-PC!

  • politically correct (PC)

 This expression refers to language or behavior that is carefully controlled (sometimes too controlled) to avoid offending people based on gender, ethnicity, etc. The concept emerged in the 1980’s in the United States. Nowadays, it often has a negative meaning.

EXAMPLE: The university president suggested that women may not be as good at men in science because of differences in their brains? That’s not politically correct!

  • what goes around comes around

 people usually get what they deserve in the end

EXAMPLE: Dana is always trying to steal everybody else’s clients. But what goes around comes around.

  • he’ll get his / she’ll get hers

 something bad will happen to him (or her), just as he (or she) deserves

EXAMPLE: Cheryl got promoted to vice president after firing half her staff? Don’t worry, she’ll get hers.

SYNONYM: he (or she) will get what’s coming to him (or her)

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