The following idioms and expressions use the verb 'have'. Each idiom or expression has a definition and two example sentences to help your understanding of these common idiomatic expressions with 'have'.
English Idioms and Expressions Using 'Have'
have a big mouth
Definition: somebody who tells secrets, who is a gossip
- Don't talk to Mary she has a big mouth.
- If you didn't have such a big mouth, I'd tell you my secrets.
have a bee in your bonnet
Definition: have an obsession, something that always remains in your thoughts and efforts
- She has a bee in her bonnet that health care must change.
- If I have a bee in my bonnet, I have to do everything I can until I can make it happen.
have a bone to pick with someone
Definition: have something (usually a complaint) that you want to discuss with someone
- I have a bone to pick with you. Just a moment, let's talk.
- Tom's looking for Pete because he's got a bone to pick with him.
have a brush with something
Definition: have brief contact, or experience with someone or something
- I had a brief brush with Jack and I didn't like it.
- He's had a brief brush with unemployment.
have a chip on your shoulder
Definition: be in a bad mood and challenging people to fight
- Don't take him seriously, he just has a chip on his shoulder.
- Yes, I have a chip on my shoulder! What are YOU going to do about it?!
have a close call
Definition: be close to danger
- I had a close call yesterday and was almost in an accident.
- She's had a few close calls in her life.
have a familiar ring
Definition: sound familiar, as if you've heard it before
- That story has a familiar ring. Did we read that last year?
- Her experiences have a familiar ring. I guess everybody goes through that.
have a good head on your shoulders
Definition: have common sense, be sensible
- Jack has a good head on his shoulders. Don't worry about him.
- I think you have a good head on your shoulders. You should trust your decision.
have a green thumb
Definition: be very good at gardening
- Alice obviously has a green thumb. Look at that garden!
- My wife has a green thumb, so I let her do all the gardening.
have a heart
Definition: be compassionate or generous and forgiving with somebody
- Don't hold that against her. Have a heart!
- I think he'll have a heart and forgive you.
have a heart of gold
Definition: be generous and sincere
- Mary has a heart of gold. I just love her.
- The teacher has a heart of gold with her students.
have a heart of stone
Definition: be cold and unresponsive, unforgiving
- Don't make him angry. He has a heart of stone.
- I can't believe how he treats his children. He's got a heart of stone.
have an ax to grind
Definition: complain about something often
- He has an ax to grind against his health care provider.
- I know you have an ax to grind against Agatha, but stop complaining!
have an in with someone
Definition: have special access to someone (often used at work)
- She has an in with the boss. Let her ask him for permission.
- I wish I had an in with the director so I could get a promotion.
have a one-track mind
Definition: always thinking about one thing
- He has a one track mind. He can't talk about anything besides golf.
- Do you have a one-track mind?
have a soft spot in your heart for someone or something
Definition: love or adore a thing or person
- I've got a soft spot in my heart for Maria Callas.
- He has a soft spot in his heart for pinball!
have a sweet tooth
Definition: like sweets too much
- I know you have a sweet tooth, but you need to be careful.
- I need to watch my weight, especially because I have a sweet tooth.
have clean hands
Definition: to without guilt, guiltless
- Don't blame him, he has clean hands.
- The man claimed to have clean hands in the crime.
have egg on one's face
Definition: be embarrassed after having done something very stupid
- I had egg on my face after I asked that stupid question.
- I don't think he realizes he has egg on his face.
have eyes in the back of your head
Definition: seem able to follow everything that is going on, even though you do not focus on it
- She has eyes in the back of her head. Be careful!
- The students believed their teacher had eyes in the back his head.
have mixed feelings
Definition: to be uncertain about something or someone
- Janice has mixed feelings about Ken.
- Brad has mixed feelings about buying a new car.
have money to burn
Definition: have an excess of money
- Don't worry about it! She's got money to burn.
- Do you think I have money to burn?! Of course, I can't buy you a diamond ring.
have your hands tied
Definition: be prevented from doing something
- I'm afraid I have my hands tied and can't help you.
- Peter told me he had his hands tied on the Franklin deal.
have your head in the clouds
Definition: to not pay attention to what is going on around you
- Doug had his head in the clouds all the time he was at university.
- Do you have your head in the clouds?! Pay attention!
have your tail between your leg
Definition: be afraid of something, not have the courage to do something
- He just couldn't approach her. He seemed to have his tail between his legs.
- Janet went to her father with her tail between her legs and asked for forgiveness.
have other fish to fry
Definition: have more important things to do, have other opportunities
- Look. I have other fish to fry, so just say yes or no.
- Susan had other fish to fry and left her position at the bank.
have someone or something in your hands
Definition: have the responsibility for someone or something
- I have the project in my hands. If you have any questions, come to me.
- She had her boyfriend in her hands. She could do anything.
have the Midas touch
Definition: have the ability to easily be successful
- He'll succeed. He's got the Midas touch.
- Ask her to approach those difficult clients. She has the Midas touch.
have the presence of mind to do something
Definition: stay calm in a dangerous or frightening, or emergency situation
- He had the presence of mind to cover her up before he went to find help.
- Alice has the presence of mind to take along some extra food before setting out on the hike.