8 American English Idioms Meaning “To Be Direct”

Posted On: October 3, 2015

Get to the point already! Idioms about getting to the point.

Let’s look at a few idioms meaning “to be direct” in American English: 

      1. Call a spade a spade. 
      2. Come clean. 
      3. Don’t beat around the bush. 
      4. Get down to brass tacks. 
      5. Let the chips fall where they may. 
      6. Put all your cards on the table. 
      7. Tell it like it is. 
      8. Cut to the chase. 

Video tutorials of select idioms: 

1. To call a spade a spade. 
Sometimes this also refers to being so direct that it can hurt the sentiments of others. 
(Link to the video)

2. Come Clean.
Come clean means to tell the truth.
(Link to the video)

3. Don’t beat around the bush.
“Beat around the bush” means to be indirect, vague or not get to the point. Saying “Don’t beat around the bush” means you are talking too much and not getting to the point. 
(Link to the video)

4. Get down to brass tacks.
This could mean a few things. One, it could mean that things are too complicated, let’s just get to the basics or essentials. Or, it could mean to simply get to the point. 
(Link to the video)

5. Let the chips fall where they may.
This phrase could have a few different meanings based on the context of the conversation. If say a team is trying to uncover or solve a problem or get someone to admit to a mistake, then this idiom could mean to get to the point, tell what needs to be told and deal with the outcome afterword. Or, if a team were “dragging their feet” (taking way too long) to make a decision, then this idiom could be used to encourage team members to hurry up and make a decision and whatever happens, will happen. 

6. Tell it like it is.
Speak frankly, even if it hurts.

7. Cut to the chase.
This means to get to the point! It also means, you are talking too much and taking too much time, so hurry up and tell me exactly what you want or are asking for! 

(Link to the video)

8. Put my finger on.
Putting your finger on something doesn’t mean that you actually touch something with your finger. It means you finally figured out the real problem, or got to the point. To make a conversation with one of the idioms above and this one, we could have:

Manager: I wish your colleague would stop beating around the bush regarding the budget problem and just tell it like it is.
You: Yes, I agree. ….. But, after thinking about it, I think I have finally put my finger on the problem.

Video tutorial for “Put your finger on.” 
(Link to the video)

Jennifer Kumar, owner of this blog helps offshore teams to work more effectively with US counterparts and also works with expats in the US to communicate more effectively at work. Check out some of the programs here, or get in touch with Jennifer today.

The idioms videos shown are by Study with Andrea. Check out her online English learning programs. 

More idioms here
What is the difference between idioms, phrasal verbs and slang? 

Image credit: Ilya Sedykh, flickr. Change made was to add words to the image. 
Original post: 10/15, updated 4/2020


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