Learn Business English – Part 4 – Business Idioms

2011 March 17
by Jane

Business Idioms Series, Part Four:

Welcome to the Hills Learning multi-part series on business idioms. Each week we’ll be covering 5 business idioms in alphabetical order and giving you the definition and some example sentences.

If you’re an intermediate English speaker and feel confident about your English skills then you can go ahead and try using these idioms at work, or you can just use this list as a reference.

Practice active listening and listen for these idioms at the office or on the news. Some of the idioms will also appear in newspapers as well.

A Calculated Risk


“Taking an action that may fail, that is risky, but that has a very good chance of succeeding.”

Example Sentence:

The media company took a calculated risk when it decided to merge with the Internet Services Provider.

Meaning: The media company took a risk when it decided to merge with the Internet Services Provider, but that action had a very good chance of succeeding.

To Close Out


“To sell everything in a business or store, usually before closing it permanently.”

Example Sentence:

They decided to close out the store and sell all of the remaining stock at half price.

Meaning: They decided to sell everything in the store at half price.

To Close the Books


“To stop taking orders, to end a bookkeeping period”

Example Sentence:

Most companies usually close their books at the end of the calendar year.

Meaning: Most companies end their bookkeeping period on December 31st each year.

To Close up Shop


“To stop doing business, to close a business.”

Example Sentence:

The small grocery store decided to close up shop when a large supermarket opened around the corner.

Meaning: The small grocery store decided to stop doing business and close because of competition from a large supermarket around the corner.

To Make a Cold Call


“To make a telephone call to a potential customer that you have had no contact with before.”

Example Sentence:

To increase the number of regular clients, the sales staff at the company were asked to make cold calls.

Meaning: The sales staff were asked to call potential customers to increase business and the number of clients at the company.

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