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Conflict Idioms: 30 Useful Idioms for Discussion and Debate


Conflict Idioms and Phrases for Discussion! Learn common expressions and idioms for discussion and debate in English with meaning, ESL picture and example sentences.

Conflict Idioms for Discussion and Debate

List of Conflict Idioms in English

  • (To Have) Been Through The Wars
  • (To Open Up a) Can of Whoop-Ass
  • Add Fuel To The Fire
  • Add Insult To Injury
  • Agree To Disagree
  • Ancient History
  • At Each Other’s Throats
  • At Loggerheads
  • Bad Blood
  • Clear the Air
  • Cut (Someone) to the Quick
  • Dead Ahead
  • Dirty Look
  • Game of Chicken
  • Get Bent Out of Shape
  • Give Someone a Piece of Your Mind
  • Have It Out with Someone
  • Let Bygones Be Bygones
  • On the Warpath
  • Pick a Fight
  • Pissing Contest
  • Rake Over the Ashes
  • Rub It In
  • Sore Point
  • Spoiling for a Fight
  • Stab Someone in the Back
  • Take Someone to Task
  • Throw Elbows
  • To Have a Chip on One’s Shoulder
  • Witch Hunt

Conflict Idioms for Discussion with Meaning and Examples

Useful idiomatic expressions for debate and discussion in English.

(To Have) Been Through The Wars

  • Meaning: Hardened, having much experience of difficult conditions, worn out
  • ExampleFrank will be a good leader on this project. It’s going to be difficult, but he’s been through the wars.

(To Open Up a) Can of Whoop-Ass

  • Meaning: To attack another person physically (very casual, slightly vulgar)
  • ExampleWe’ll discuss the problem. And if we don’t reach agreement, I’ll open up a can of whoop-ass.

Add Fuel To The Fire

  • Meaning: Worsen already existing tension
  • ExampleSally was already angry, and Kim’s criticism of her work on the project just added fuel to the fire.

Add Insult To Injury

  • Meaning: Compound a defeat with humiliation or mockery
  • ExampleAdding insult to injury, the goalie fell in the mud after allowing the winning goal.

Agree To Disagree

  • Meaning: Accept or set aside a disagreement
  • Example: We can discuss this again later. For now, let’s agree to disagree.

Ancient History

  • Meaning: Something, such as a disagreement, that happened long ago and ought to be forgotten
  • ExampleI know it’s awkward working together because we used to go out. But that’s ancient history – we shouldn’t worry about it.

At Each Other’s Throats

  • Meaning: Constantly and strongly arguing
  • ExampleMy vacation? It was terrible. My mother and my sister were at each other’s throats the whole time.

At Loggerheads

  • Meaning: In a state of persistent disagreement.
  • ExampleThe president and the legislature have been at loggerheads over the defense budget for months now.

Bad Blood

  • Meaning: Enmity or hatred that stems from something in the past
  • ExampleThere’s bad blood between Kathy and Patricia-years ago they both dated the same buy.

Clear the Air

  • Meaning: Defuse tension, be honest about conflict so as to reduce it
  • ExampleI’ve called this meeting so that we can clear the air and move forward after the conflicts we’ve been having among members of our staff.

Cut (Someone) to the Quick

  • Meaning: To deeply hurt someone emotionally
  • ExampleWhen you criticized my singing, that really cut me to the quick.

Dead Ahead

  • Meaning: Directly ahead, either in a literal or a figurative sense
  • ExampleJoe and I never communicate anymore. I see heartbreak dead ahead.

Dirty Look

  • Meaning: A facial manner that signifies disapproval
  • ExampleMy husband gave me a dirty look when I brought up a politlical controversy.

Game of Chicken

  • Meaning: A conflict situation in which neither side will back down for fear of seeming cowardly (chicken)
  • ExampleThe argument between Sean and Tyler has turned into a game of chicken – neither one wants to be the first to back down, even though they’d both be better off if they did.

Get Bent Out of Shape

  • Meaning: Become angry, upset
  • Example: I was just making a suggestion. Don’t get all bent out of shape out it.

Give Someone a Piece of Your Mind

  • Meaning: Angrily tell someone what you think
  • ExampleI can’t believe the school punished my child when they fight wasn’t her fault. I’m going to go down there right now and give them a piece of my mind.

Have It Out with Someone

  • Meaning: To have an argument with someone in order to settle a dispute
  • ExampleThe tension had been building for months between Frances and Patricia. They finally had it out, and now they’re fine.

Let Bygones Be Bygones

  • Meaning: Agree to forget about a past conflict
  • ExampleMy ex-boyfriend and I have decided to let bygones be bygones and stop arguing. We’re not getting back together, but we’re going to be friends.

On the Warpath

  • Meaning: Very angry
  • ExampleI’d better work late at the office – my husband is on the warpath because I put a big scratch in his new car.

Pick a Fight

  • Meaning: Intentionally provoke a conflict or fight with someone
  • ExampleWatch out when you’re at bar. There are always a lot of guys there who want to pick a fight with you.

Pissing Contest

  • Meaning: A meaningless argument or competition, typically between males
  • ExampleLarry and Ted got into a pissing contest at the meeting today – the rest of us were just bored.

Rake Over the Ashes

  • Meaning: Restart a settled argument; examine a failure
  • ExampleWe’ve already dealt with the problem of Bob’s absenteeism. There’s no reason to rake over the ashes.

Rub It In

  • Meaning: Say something that makes someone feel even worse about a mistake
  • Example: I know I botched the sales presentation. You don’t have to rub it in.

Sore Point

  • Meaning: A sensitive topic for a particular person
  • ExampleDon’t discuss divorce with Julia – that’s a sore point with her.

Spoiling for a Fight

  • Meaning: Combative, wanting conflict, eager to argue or fight
  • ExampleWatch out for Enrique. He’s spoiling for a fight after John criticized him in the meeting yesterday.

Stab Someone in the Back

  • Meaning: To betray (somebody)
  • ExampleSuzanne acted like she was my friend. But then she stabbed me in the back and went out with my boyfriend.

Take Someone to Task

  • Meaning: Reprimand someone strongly
  • ExampleThe boss took me to task after I missed the deadline for the new website.

Throw Elbows

  • Meaning: Be combative; be aggressive (physically or figuratively)
  • ExampleWe’ll have to throw elbows a bit to get our question answered because we’re seated at the back of the room.

To Have a Chip on One’s Shoulder

  • Meaning: To be combative, to be consistently argumentative
  • ExampleJohn can be very difficult to get along with. He has a chip on his shoulder, and he’ll blow up at you over the smallest things.

Witch Hunt

  • Meaning: An organized attempt to persecute an unpopular group of people and blame them for a problem
  • ExampleFalling in the polls after corruption investigations, the president denied the charges and chalked them up to a witch hunt being carried out by his opponents.

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Useful Conflict Idioms in English

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Commonly Used Conflict Idioms in English.

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