Discover a handy list of workplace idioms And Slang Expressions to navigate the workplace.In this article, we will discuss workplace-specific idiomatic expressions, slang, and phrasal verbs in the English language. This compilation is particularly beneficial if you are seeking to learn English for business or undergoing language training for professional purposes.

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Work Idioms

1. Blue collar worker

This expression describes a blue-collar worker engaged in manual labor or hands-on tasks, contrasting with office work or managerial roles.

In English, there is also the idiom white collar worker. This is an office worker or someone who is a manager. And a pink collar worker works in the service industry.


This place is full of blue collar workers.

My sister is a pink collar worker. She works in a very expensive shop.

2. Deadwood

This slang term is employed to describe an individual lacking skills or making no contribution to generate income for a business.


I believe that John is a complete deadwood to the company. He should be axed.

3. Bust one’s buns

This expression signifies putting in considerable effort at work. If you’re aware of the origin of this idiom, feel free to share it in the comments.


I have busted my buns for an entire week on this project.

4. To axe someone

Don’t interpret it literally; this English idiom implies dismissing or terminating someone from their job, not physical harm with an axe.

For example:

Jane got axed because she was constantly stealing from the shop.

Ivan was axed because he was found using social networks during working hours.

5. Back to the drawing board

This expression signifies “to begin anew from the start.” It is apt for situations where your project, proposal, or coursework faces rejection, and you need to commence the work again from the beginning.

For example:

I’ve got to go back to the drawing board. My paper was not approved.

I worked really hard on this project, but my boss rejected it, so now it’s back to the drawing board.

6. Back to the salt mines

This expression signifies returning to work after a break, emphasizing the presence of challenging tasks. It’s a widely used English idiom, carrying a touch of humor and a light-hearted attitude toward tackling demanding responsibilities.


It was nice to see you, but now I’ve got to get back to the salt mines. The customers won’t wait.

7. Carve out a niche

This phrase indicates concentrating on a highly specialized aspect or niche within a profession or business that requires unique skills not possessed by everyone.

For example:

I have carved out a niche for myself in this project.

8. Desk jockey

This colloquial term characterizes an individual who spends the workday sitting at a desk without much physical activity.

For example:

I am tired of being a desk jockey. I think I need to find a new job.

9. Dog eat dog world

This English idiom captures the harsh reality where survival favors only the resilient. In other words, success may require a combination of extreme assertiveness and intelligence.

For example:

“Have you heard about Joseph’s promotion? It’s not fair!”

“It’s a dog eat dog world, you know.”

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If you have any questions regarding English grammar, vocabulary, etc., let me know, and I’ll try to help you.