Starting, Re-starting, Finishing
Troubles And Difficulties
Taking Risks


D  O  I  N  G    T  H  I  N  G  S

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Dare inizio a qualcosa

To lay the foundations (to get in gear, to set the ball rolling)
I know that our company is not doing big business at the moment, we're just laying the foundations (getting in gear, setting the ball rolling)... it's early days yet!


Partire da zero
From scratch
All you can see here was built up from scratch by him.


Muovere i primi passi
To get a foot in the door
Having already worked as a porter, he got his foot in the door, and now is the owner of the hotel.


Tastare il terreno
To see how the land lies
I want to see how the land lies before putting all the money in it.


Vedere che aria tira
To see which way the wind is blowing (to hold fire)
After our argument, I was scared to contact her.. I want to see which way the wind is blowing first.. it's better to hold fire!


Attendere che accada qualcosa
A watched kettle never boils
Stop spending all your time watching the telephone! She will call you sooner or later! Remember that a watched kettle never boils.


Trovare un punto di partenza da cui procedere

To get a foothold
They got a foothold with the first little shop they opened.. now they have ten of them.


Darsi da fare, muoversi
To get one's skates on (chop chop, shake a leg)
It's very late... get going, Dan! Get your skates on! (chop chop! shake a leg!)


Iniziare con successo qualcosa
To get off to a flying start
When he opened his business, he got it off to a flying start by selling everything with fifty per cent off.


Volere è potere
Where there's a will there's a way
Harry never neglected studying after working hours, and now he has passed his exams: where there's a will there's a way!


Chi ha tempo non aspetti tempo
Make hay while the sun shines
We'd better have the barbecue on the beach today, for tomorrow it will probably rain... make hay while the sun shines.


Battere il ferro finchè è caldo
To strike while the iron is hot
You were so clever, asking for a company car during the interview... better to strike while the iron is hot.


Chi dorme non piglia pesci
The early bird catches the worm
This is said to be a junk market, but if you get there early in the morning you can find good bargains... the early bird catches the worm!


Tra il dire ed il fare c'è di mezzo il mare
It's easier said than done
John considers himself a perfect organiser, but he's always too busy to help us: it's easier said than done.


Per fare bene le cose occorre tempo
Rome wasn't built in a day
Bill, don't be in a hurry doing up the front of your house: Rome wasn't built in a day.


Meglio un uovo oggi che una gallina domani

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
After working all year, we hardly made anything, but a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.


Non sapere fare nulla, un tubo, essere incapaci

Couldn't organize a piss-up in a brewery!
Dan? A good chap, but he’s unable to manage difficult situations… he couldn’t organize a piss-up in a brewery!


Guardare e rifare, visto e fatto

Monkey see, monkey do
The educational system have embraced a "monkey see, monkey do" approach to science.


Facile, semplice, come una passeggiata

(as easy as) a walk in the park
Giving up smoking is a walk in the park...


Qualcosa di semplice, facile, un gioco da ragazzi

A cinch
The final test? It was a cinch!... I finished it quickly and without mistakes


Una cosa fatta male, in fretta
A slapdash
His work is becoming very slapdash. This is because he has too many clients and so cannot give his best to all of them.


To knock someone (something) into shape
He's very talented but, lazy... his tutor will knock him into shape!


Fare meglio, (dover) darsi una regolata, smetterla di fare cavolate

To clean up one's act
We all think it's time Shawna and Tricia cleaned up their act... they're so crazy, so irretrievable!
You need to clean up your act, or you'll lose the job! Gwen... what will you do?
Listen Ned... you're going to have to clean up your act if you care fot her.


C'è più di un modo per fare una cosa

There's more than one way to skin a cat
Tony.. the way you lead the group's not the most appropriate: there's more than one way to skin a cat.


Vari modi per raggiungere l'obiettivo
Ways and means
You've many ways and means of reaching the goal but, what's important is the achieving.


Fare lavori disparati
To be a jack-of-all-trades (but master of none)
Before being an actor, he led a jack-of-all-trades existence, doing all sorts of jobs.


Fare qualcosa di corsa
To be like a bull at a gate
She cleaned the kitchen in a frenzy... like a bull at a gate!


Da cosa nasce cosa
To set the wheels in motion
Meeting people in show business could set the wheels in motion and help you get introduced to the right producer.


Hai voluto la bicicletta? Ora pedala...
You've made your bed, now you must lie on it!
Now that you have the promotion, you've to work harder: you've made your bed, now you must lie on it!


Perché fare qualcosa che può fare qualcun altro...
Why keep a dog and bark yourself?
Leave the book there: the librarian will put it on the shelf... why keep a dog and bark yourself?


Un lavoro fatto gratuitamente
A labour of love
Even though I helped him, I hadn't the nerve to ask for some money: it was a labour of love!


Fare una cosa priva di utilità, senza senso
To carry coals to Newcastle
Meg's so funny: she went to France, bringing wine and cheese with her: a pretty case of carrying coals to Newcastle.


Far troppo, più di quanto si è capaci
To bite off more than one can chew
He's not a bad bloke, but he's not reliable.. he always tries to bite off more than he can chew.


To over-egg the pudding (to gild the lily)
Her good taste for interiors sometimes let her down when she over-eggs the pudding (gilds the lily), with dazzling details.


Stringere i denti
To bite the bullet
After the lecture from my boss, I have to bite the bullet and do as much as I can.


Fare con calma
To take one's time
There is a big backlog of invoices to register, but take your time: we cannot make mistakes in the general accounting!


Fare un tentativo, provarci
To have a crack at something (to have a go at something)
Let's have a crack (have a go)... you are always so lucky!


Decidere di raggiungere un obiettivo
To set one's sights on something (to set one's heart on something)
Sally seems really determined: she confessed she set her sights (her heart) on being a journalist in the local newspaper.


Darsi da far seriamente
To put one's shoulder to the wheel
If only you just could put your shoulder to the wheel, you could have been half done already.


Impegnarsi con passione in qualcosa
To take the bit between one's teeth
He's taking the bit between his teeth to carry out the project without delay.


Mettersi sotto
To keep plugging away
Lisa hadn't passed the final test: she has to keep plugging away and applying herself more, if she wants to get through the next session.


Mettercela tutta
To break one's back
He's breaking his back doing this hard work, just to have enough money to go to the States.


Impegnarsi fino a dare il sangue
To sweat blood over something (to work one's guts out)
John always believed in the documentary project and he sweated blood over (worked his guts out) filming it.


Fare di tutto per ottenere il risultato
To move heaven and earth
He's moving heaven and earth to get her phone number!


A tutti i costi
By hook or by crook
She worked hard all year long and now she's determined to get the promotion, by hook or by crook.


Cercare di dare il massimo
To try harder
You can pass the test only by trying harder and studying for all the remaining days.


Essere nel vivo di qualcosa, nel settore di punta
To be at the cutting-edge
The new sports car that the company brought out is not really what one would call 'cutting-edge'.


Fare più cose, avere molte "castagne" sul fuoco
To have a lot of irons on the fire
I admire you for being able to have a lot of irons on the fire, and for the way you take full advantage of every single opportunity.


Andare fino in fondo
To go the whole hog
After so many months of hard work, we now have to go the whole hog to finish refurbishing the house.


Tenere duro, non mollare
To stick to one's guns
The restaurant's owner had to stick to his guns, when the new fast food place opened a few doors down from him.


Essere molto impegnato
To be in the thick of things
Even though John owned the company, he still got involved in the every-day running of the business, as he liked being in the thick of things.


Essere impicciati, occupati

To have a lot on (much on)
A party tomorrow? Oh no, I've got a lot on this week...
Sheila hasn't got much on: she's waiting for a new job.


Lavorare in team, collaborare, fare gioco di squadra

To play ball (American English)
Hey, Ron, you still have to learn how to play ball with the team...


Impegnarsi fino a notte fonda
To burn the midnight oil
I had to finish all the plans and, so, I was burning the midnight oil.


Essere rapidi (lenti) nel fare, nel reagire
To be quick (slow) off the mark
Linda prepares very accurate reports, but unfortunately she is really slow off the mark.


Risolvere un problema serio
To save the day
The lift Jo gave to you saved the day, as the bus strike is still on.


Avere l'entusiasmo per fare bene qualcosa
To work up a head of steam (to build up a head of steam)
You're training so hard that your steadiness will work up a head of steam in the game.


Imparare con la pratica, con l'esercizio
To get the hang of something
After the intensive training, Jim got the hang of driving the new big lorry.
The computer? I think I've finally got the hang of it!


Far qualcosa senza l'aiuto di altri
To do something by the seat of one's pants (to pull oneself up by one's own bootstrap)
Greta won the prize without any help: she did it by the seat of her pants (by her own bootstrap).


Fare quello che si vuole senza subire interferenze
To do one's own thing
Let them do their own thing... they're old enough to do what they want!


Capire e gestire un problema
To get a handle on something
Before climbing Everest, the climbers had to get a handle on their body reactions to the lack of oxygen.


Un decisione che non si cambia
You can trust him.. even if the contract is not signed, it's cut-and-dried.


Organizzarsi bene
To get one's act together (to get one's shit together)
Get your act together, Beverly... otherwise the holiday will turn into a shambles.


Preparare al meglio un lavoro
To do one's homework
When Helen has something to organise, you can bet that she always does her homework; that way, she cuts her work in half.


Fare qualcosa subito per non pensarci più
To get something over and done with
Get it over and done with straight away, Jill... there's no time left!


Essere nella giusta posizione, dalla parte giusta
To be on the right track
The reaction of all the colleagues dispelled any doubt about how his proposal was on the right track.


Fare qualcosa senza avere problemi
To take to something like a duck to water
He took to the hard training with enthusiasm... like a duck to water.


Fare secondo le regole, nel modo giusto
To go by the book
Our supervisor is so strict that we've always to go by the book.


Far la stessa cosa da molto tempo
To be stuck in a rut
John feels very demotivated after working the night shift... he's now stuck in a rut and needs to do something different with his life.


Avere molta esperienza
To know a thing or two
He's much more than a mechanic, as he has great experience in repairing and tuning engines, and now he knows a thing or two about every kind of car.


L'esperienza conta
A small sea never made a skilful mariner
Oscar proved his good instinct in the small local business, but he's not up to the level of leading a big company... a small sea never made a good mariner.


Saper fare bene qualcosa grazie all'esperienza
To be an old hand at something
Your mum is an old hand at looking after children.


Fare qualcosa in modo esagerato, impegnandosi senza mezzi termini
Not to do things by halves (humorous)
Enjoy your meal! She's a good cook and she doesn't do things by halves... so there will be plenty of grub!


Essere molto bravi nel fare qualcosa
To be a wizard at doing something (to be a dab hand at doing something)
Gino is a wiz (a dab hand) at discovering new fantastic restaurants.


Saper fare qualcosa ad occhi chiusi
To do something with one hand tied behind one's back
Jerry knows his work so well that he could do it with one hand tied behind his back!


Fare allo scopo, risolvere
To do the trick
Try adding some oil to the petrol: it will do the trick.


Prendere il massimo vantaggio da una situazione
To make the most of something
Being in Chicago for ten days only, we made the most of the time by having a lot of trips all around the Michigan Lake.


Segnare il passo, fare da battistrada
To set the pace
Our designers are setting the pace in the current fashion.


Trattare un problema per risolverlo dopo fallimenti di altri
Take matters into one's own hands
After Jack tried in vain to repair the engine, he decided to take it to the garage and let the experts take matters into their own hands.


Fare senza difficoltà quello che altri trovavano difficile
To be meat and drink to somebody
Jamie sorted out that strange noise coming from the engine in five minutes, after all the other mechanics had failed... it really was meat and drink to him!


Essere sempre capaci di soddisfare le esigenze
To be at somebody's beck and call
It's a hard life being a personal assistant as you are... always at your boss's beck and call.


Dare i punti a qualcuno
To run rings round somebody
Matthew was the first to reach the target, he has been running rings round all the other salesman.


Qualcosa facile da fare, da realizzare
To be plain sailing
The first part of the driving trip is plain sailing... the hard part will come later.


Facile come un gioco da ragazzi
As easy as ABC (a piece of cake)
If the team seriously undertakes to finish that work it will be as easy as ABC... a piece of cake!


Andare di bene in meglio, aver crescente successo
To go from strength to strength
Luckily the new activity is going from strength to strength!


Andare a buon fine, riuscire bene
To hit the mark (to hit the spot)
The interview I had yesterday hit the mark: they complimented me on my good preparation!


Andare alla grande, avere successo
To go with a bang
The party went with a bang: Ed managed the barbecue and everybody enjoyed themselves immensely!


Vendere molto, avere successo commerciale
To do a roaring trade (to go like hot cakes)
That new shop is doing a roaring trade... its stuff is going like hot cakes.


Non tutto il male vien per nuocere
To be a blessing in disguise (to be a mixed blessing)
The accident was a blessing in disguise: the driver who knocked him down is now his wife.


To make a fresh start
After his new business flopped last month, Harris told me that he wants to wait for a while before making a fresh start.


Voltare pagina, cambiare
To turn over a new leaf
She turned over a new leaf, when she gave up smoking.


Un'altra opportunità
To get another bite at the cherry
Don't worry too much about being passed up for promotion.. you will get another bite of the cherry next year.


Andar liscio come l'olio
To go through something like a hot knife through butter
After the board approved the last part of the project, we're going through it like a hot knife through butter.


Andare perfettamente, senza problemi
To go like clockwork
The work's going really smoothly... just like clockwork.


Aver inspettatamente fortuna
To strike it lucky
Do you remember Jasper? jammy! I heard he struck it lucky, by opening a chain of delicatessens.


Tutto compreso

Everything but the kitchen sink
Every time we travel Mary take everything possible... but the kitchen sink!
Tom's new car is fantastic, much better than a limo: satellite TV, fridge... everything but the kitchen sink.


Essere sul punto di finire qualcosa

To be on the last lap
We're nearly finished restoring the house: we're on the last lap!


Aver finalmente finito
To call it a day (wind it up, wrap it up)
After such hard overtime we've finished! Call it a day! (wind it up! wrap it up!)


Essere perfettamente a posto, in ordine

To be in apple pie order
This is a room in apple pie order! A place for everything and everything in its place!


Tanto di cappello
To take off your hat to somebody
I have to take off my hat to you, Sam: you refurbished the house perfectly.





Saper prendere il bene ed il male di una situazione

To take the rough with the smooth
You have to take the rough with the smooth in driving this sports car: it's very fast but, it uses a lot of petrol.


Essersela voluta, essersela andata a cercare

To have it coming
Linda split with Frank last week… he had it coming: he was unfaithful to her.
Clio's been fired for poor performance... with all the problems she caused, she had it coming!
He's mean to everyone... when Ed hit him he had it coming!

Cominciare male

To start (to get off) on the wrong foot
Sorry Edward, that is not the work we were expecting for! You started (got off) on the wrong foot!


Essere nei guai
To be in a jam (to be in hot water, in a pickle, in a stew)
I shouldn't have cheated in the exams; now, I'm in really in a jam (in hot water, in a pickle, in a stew).


Un bel problema, non facile da risolvere
A hard (tough) nut to crack
She ended up being persuaded, but it was a hard nut (a tough nut) to crack!


Cercare di risolvere qualcosa nel modo sbagliato
To be barking up the wrong tree
Waiting for a cab there was like barking up the wrong tree... they only stop in the city center at night.


Male che vada
If the worst comes to the worst
If the worst comes to the worst, I will quit the company and sell my shares.


Accada quello che accada
Come hell or high water
I definitely want to try it, even if it's something risky... come hell or high water!


Qui casca l'asino
There is the rub
I told you, be focused in doing this... there's the rub!


Andare in fumo
To go up in smoke
It was too sad even to describe, seeing Arthur's plans going up in smoke.


Non fasciarsi la testa prima di rompersela
To cross a bridge when one comes to it
Let's get there and see how the wind blows: cross that bridge when you come to it... It's too early at the moment!


Non perdere la pazienza
To keep one's shirt on
Calm down... keep your shirt on! You have to finish that work, somehow or other!


La gatta presciolosa fa i gattini ciechi
More haste less speed
Tony is a very good driver but, he goes too fast and has a lot of accidents... I always tell him: "More haste less speed!"


Non avere speranze
Not to have a cat's chance in hell
You haven't got a cat's chance in hell of getting that job: you're not qualified for it.


Fra l'incudine ed il martello
Between the devil and the deep blue sea
I didn't know whether to accept the new job offer or to stay where I was; I felt as if I were stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea.


Non sapere che pesci prendere
Not to be able to make heads or tails of something (to be in two minds, going around in circles)
It's so hard to come to a final decision: I'm still not able to make head or tails of the choice.. I'm in two minds (going around in circles).


La goccia che fa traboccare il vaso
The last straw (the straw that breaks the camel's back) was the last straw (the straw that broke the camel's back), when the driver got out screaming, after crashing into my parked car.


Combinare guai
To be up to no good
The old man used to think that young people were only up to no good.


Se in dubbio, astenersi
When in doubt, do nowt
Calm down, hold back: if you're uncertain, don't take any action... when in doubt, do nowt.


Mettere alla prova qualcuno
To put someone through one's paces
Before getting a regular contract, they put me through my paces for three months.


Nel male e nelle avversità
Through thick and thin
The activity had come to a standstill, but his partner seems to stick by him through thick and thin.


Nonostante tutto
Against all the odds
Janet had an extremely difficult year, however, she managed, against all the odds, to pass her exams.


Agire senza ragionare
To ride for a fall
Be focused.. you're riding for a fall with your scatty mood.


Non riuscire a controllare una situazione
To let things get on top of oneself
Andrew was always so busy at work, that things began to get on top of him and he had a nervous breakdown.


Peggiorare, aggravare, rendere un problema più difficile

A turn of the screw; another turn of the screw
The government's tax increase package is another turn of the screw for the whole working class.
Poor Ted: each letter from his ex girlfriend is another turn of the screw...


Danneggiare, incasinare
To play merry hell with
Instead of improving the situation, your presence played merry hell with people at the party.


Essere molto pigri
To be bone idle
Mike is a good chap, but I don't like working with him: he's bone idle.


Per nulla al mondo, mai e poi mai
Not to do something for all the tea in China
On this sunny day, I wouldn't do homework for all the tea in China!


Combinare poco
To chase one's tail
He's a hard worker, but not very efficient: yesterday he was chasing his tail all day, trying to find some old reports.


Mollare qualcosa che crea problemi
To drop something like a hot brick
Jim sold his car, dropping the old banger like a hot brick, for not much money at all.


Non è roba per te, lascia perdere
Don't give up the day job
I know you think you're a great dancer Danny but, don't give up the day job!


Essere maldestro
To be all thumbs
Even after so many hours of private lessons, you will never have a perfect style: you are all thumbs when it comes to drawing.


Un elefante in una cristalleria
Like a bull in a china shop
He's such an awkward character, always dropping bricks with the customers... just like a bull in a china shop.


Far venire a galla un problema, scoperchiare il vaso di Pandora
To open a can of worms
Once there was one complaint about corruption in the company, all the others soon followed... it opened a can of worms.


To nip something in the bud
When your child starts misbehaving, you have to teach him right from wrong immediately; that way, you nip the problem in the bud.


Fare qualcosa inutilmente
Like water off a duck's back
When the boss was shouting at Linda, it did not upset her at all... she was so used to it that it was like water off a duck's back.


Più rogne che altro, solo problemi e nessun vantaggio

More kicks than half-pence
Working all the day for a little money? No, that's only more kicks than half-pence!

Non essere utile, non risolvere

To be none the wiser
I still don't know about it... even when my manager explained the situation, I was still none the wiser.


Cercare un ago in un pagliaio
Looking for a needle in a haystack
Sally was in trouble when she lost her contact lenses in the shaggy carpet; it was like looking for a needle in a haystack.


Come tirar fuori un ragno da un buco
To get blood out of a stone
Don't think that you'll get any help from him: it's like getting blood out of a stone.


Tutta fatica sprecata
To flog a dead horse
There's no point in taking your old car to the garage again: it's a jalope... you're flogging a dead horse!


Cercare il pelo nell'uovo
To pick holes
Stop picking holes Frank: we will never finish going on like this!


Una pecca che rovina tutto
A fly in the ointment
Life can never be perfect... there's always a fly in the ointment.


Andare a farsi benedire
To go to pot
The project went to pot because there was no one ready to finance it.


Tutto fumo e niente arrosto
All show no go (all mouth and trousers, full of hot hair)
Don't listen to him! He promised me a lot of things but, at the end, it was all show no go!... he's all mouth and trousers (full of hot air).


Sentire puzza di bruciato
To smell a rat (something fishy)
I smelled a rat when they said that they needed another couple of days to finish the work... there's something fishy going on there!


Un'impresa inutile
A wild goose chase
Stop pushing John so hard: it's a wild goose chase.


Cavarsela per un pelo
To have a narrow escape (to escape by the skin of one's teeth)
Don't ask me how I survived that car crash! I think I escaped by the skin of my teeth!


Gridare al lupo
To cry wolf
Stop crying wolf: there is no danger at all!


Uomo avvisato mezzo salvato
Forewarned is forearmed
Now you know what you are risking.. forewarned is forearmed!


Si salvi chi può
Every man for himself
In that cruel competition the only rule seems to be "every man for himself".


Venire sbattuti fuori
To be out on one's ear
You cannot insult all the people in the bar: you'll be out on your ear.


Raschiare la botte
To scrape the barrel
I see you're reviving those old colours for doing up your room... are you scraping the barrel?


Gettare la spugna, rinunciare
To throw in the towel (to throw in the sponge)
After months and months passed in trying to win the race, the mature runner threw in the towel (threw in the sponge).


Essere un fiasco
To be a flop (to be a turkey)
We worked a lot but, it was a flop... a turkey


Essere licenziati
To get the sack
He wasn't up to the level: he got the sack!


La sfortuna non si ripete mai subito
Lightning doesn't strike twice
After the traffic police issued him with a ticket, Sam left his car in the same place.. lightning doesn't strike twice.


Cadere in piedi
To land on one's feet
They thought of punishing Jim with that unfair dismissal, but he should gain a lot of money if he brings an action against the company: he will land on his feet!


Essere fuori pericolo
To be out of the woods
It was a very hard test and I was put in the corner, but now I can forget it.. now I feel like I am out of the woods at last.




Abbandonare ogni prudenza
To throw caution to the wind
It's better that you sleep here tonight... driving back home so tired and drunk would simply mean throwing caution to the wind.


Puntare tutto su una cosa sola
To put all one's eggs in one basket
I told you that you're risking everything, going to South America to change your life: never put all your eggs in one basket!


O la va o la spacca
It's do or die (sink or swim)
I know that's a risky choice, but you cannot skip it: it's do or die... sink or swim!


Prendere sottogamba, sottovalutare
To soft pedal
Don't soft pedal the rules and regulations! You're risking your job by being late every morning!


Prendere un rischio
To get one's fingers burnt
You know, Matt... nothing important was ever done without the risk of getting your fingers burnt.


Far attenzione al pericolo
To take heed of a danger
The roads are full of ice! Take heed of that danger when you're driving!


To put one's neck on the line (to stick one's neck out)
The old Chairman gained a lot of money from risky investments by putting his neck on the line on the stock-exchange.


Rischiare grosso
To sail close to the wind (to skate on thin ice)
He arrived on time, but he was driving so fast whilst it was raining that he really was sailing close to the wind (skating on thin ice).


Fare (o dire) qualcosa di rischioso
To put one's head above the parapet
Nobody ever criticized the boss's decisions because they were all too afraid to put their heads above the parapet.


Rischiare stupidamente, cercare guai
To be asking for trouble
Are you asking for trouble? Why drive without fastening the belt? You'll get a ticket, at least!


Azzardare fino al punto di...
To sink to such a level
How many times did I tell you, Tom: don't sink to such a level, you're risking too much!


Uno che fa le cose senza ragionare, che si "butta"
A gung-ho
William is rather gung-ho... too eager to do things without thinking.




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