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You wouldn't say "Chips and fish," its always "Fish and chips". 'Fish and chips' is a binomial expression.

# Vocabulary 04 - Binomial Expressions 1

You might be wondering what binomial expressions, a term used in mathematics, is doing in an English quiz! One of the dictionary meanings of binomial is ‘referring to two names or terms’. Binomial expressions (or pairs) consist of two words that are joined by a conjunction such as and or or.

Some examples of binomial expressions are 'black and blue', 'hand to mouth' and 'now or never'. Binomial expressions have characteristics that are unique to them. Generally, the order of the words is always maintained. For example, when the order of the words in 'HAND to MOUTH' is changed to 'MOUTH to HAND' it does not sound appropriate does it? Similarly, the expression 'NEVER or NOW 'looks quite odd but 'NOW or NEVER' seems right. Even the conjunction used is unique to that pair. You do not see an expression such as 'BLACK for BLUE'.

There are other binomial pairs, such as 'bit by bit', 'one to one' and 'side by side', where the same word is used twice to make the emphasis stronger. Binomial expressions are so powerful that they help the writer or speaker to forcefully put forth his views using the utmost economy of words. Sometimes when a whole paragraph cannot convincingly put forth a view point a carefully chosen binomial expression can get the job done. If you want to describe two persons who are diametrically opposite of one another you could do so by listing out their characteristics in a long paragraph or you could simply say ‘they are as different as chalk and cheese’.

Binomial pairs are a boon to any writer or speaker. You should familiarise yourselves with as many pairs as possible and the quiz that follows helps you to do just that.
1.
"Many compulsive shoppers enjoy the --- experienced at the malls on busy shopping days." - Choose the appropriate binomial expression to fill up the blank.
Checks and balances
Huff and puff
Law and order
Hustle and bustle
'Hustle and bustle' describes lots of activity usually on account of people engaging in fast paced action. The other options are binomial expressions that can be used in other contexts. Can you find out their meanings?
2.
"With only the last lap to be completed it was --- clear that Hamilton would win the British Grand Prix." - Choose the appropriate binomial expression to fill up the blank.
Wine and dine
More or less
Cease and desist
Bubble and squeak
'More or less' indicates an almost certainty. The other options are binomial expressions that can be used in other contexts. Can you find out their meanings?
3.
"The coach was --- of his wards' lazy approach to the practice sessions." - Choose the appropriate binomial expression to fill up the blank.
Bigger and better
Sick and tired
Life and death
'Sick and tired' means 'to get to a point where one is so frustrated that one loses patience'. The other options are binomial expressions that can be used in other contexts. Can you find out their meanings?
4.
"Life teaches us so many things that to --- is the essence of life." - Choose the appropriate binomial expression to fill up the blank.
Live and learn
Win or lose
Beck and call
High and low
'Live and learn' is an expression often used when you learn something new that was unexpected. The other options are binomial expressions that can be used in other contexts. Can you find out their meanings?
5.
"Delegates have come from --- to attend the conference." - Choose the appropriate binomial expression to fill up the blank.
Aches and pains
Rise and fall
Safe and sound
Far and wide
'Far and wide' describes coverage of a large geographical area. The other options are binomial expressions that can be used in other contexts. Can you find out their meanings?
6.
"I appreciate Mustaq because he always keeps his room ---." - Choose the appropriate binomial expression to fill up the blank.
Neat and tidy
Rise and shine
Saints and sinners
Song and dance
'Neat and tidy' means 'organised and clean'. The other options are binomial expressions that can be used in other contexts. Can you find out their meanings?
7.
"The manager's terse message was --- and the salesmen took their jobs more seriously." - Choose the appropriate binomial expression to fill up the blank.
Fire and brimstone
Fish and chips
Soap and water
Loud and clear
'Loud and clear' means 'to be very precise and clear in whatever has to be communicated'. The other options are binomial expressions that can be used in other contexts. Can you find out their meanings?
8.
"My new smart phone's instruction booklet is a --- guide to learn new ways of using my device." - Choose the appropriate binomial expression to fill up the blank.
Give or take
Cut and dried
Step by step
'Step by step' means 'to do something systematically one step at a time'. The other options are binomial expressions that can be used in other contexts. Can you find out their meanings?
9.
"The 2014 Indian general election was a --- election for the Bharatiya Janata Party." - Choose the appropriate binomial expression to fill up the blank.
Make or break
Peace and quiet
High and mighty
Cloak and dagger
'Make or break' is a situation that is either a win or a loss with no possible middle of the road outcome. The other options are binomial expressions that can be used in other contexts. Can you find out their meanings?
10.
"His performance in the test is not great, but --- it is good." - Choose the appropriate binomial expression to fill up the blank.
Back and forth
By and large
Old and grey
Nip and tuck
'By and large' means 'on the whole' or 'taken generally'. The other options are binomial expressions that can be used in other contexts. Can you find out their meanings?
Author:  V T Narendra