ACET: Idiom of the week

This week’s idiom is You could cut the air with a knife!


Look at this picture of a chess championship and imagine the atmosphere there. Are the people relaxed and are they laughing and chatting? No, they aren’t. They are tense and nervous and the air is thick with the tension and stress.
To describe this type of atmosphere we use the idiom ‘you could cut the air with a knife’.

Other examples

The smoke was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

When I walked in they all stopped talking and you could cut the air with a knife.

We might also use it to describe a situation in which we feel angry or nervous and we feel that something unpleasant is going to happen. For example: When I made a complaint at the meeting, the other people did not like it and you could cut the air with a knife.

More idioms with knife

The knives are out – we use this to mean that people are being unfriendly and deliberately causing problems
Like a (hot) knife through butter – this means to do something very quickly or easily.
Stick the knife in – this can be used to criticize someone strongly especially when someone is weak
So, next time you are chatting, try to use one of these idioms – show your friends how good your English is !!

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