American phrase words - letter U
American phrase words starting with letter U

Expressions Beginning with U

In this lesson, we cover essential American phrases and expressions that start with letter U with examples. You can use them in your daily conversations. Just follow examples and write them down a few times to learn them very well.

Expression Recap

In our previous lesson, we covered American Phrases Beginning with T.


Word of the Day: U & V


under lock and key: secure; safely protected.

She keeps her most important possessions under lock and key.


under one’s belt: resources and experience.

He has many years of experience working as an architect under his belt.


under one’s nose: something unnoticed in front of a person.

Heidi was looking around for her stuffed animal, and it was right under her nose.


under someone’s thumb: under another person’s control.

He’s got her under his thumb.


under the circumstances: during a time of distress; a time of difficulty.

We tried to talk to her about her deceased husband’s estate and will, but under the circumstances, it wasn’t a good time.


under the influence: drunk or high

He was under the influence of a strong narcotic when the police found him lying in the street.


under the weather: a little sick

Hubert is feeling under the weather today, so he’s not going to go to work.


up and about: able to walk and do things after a sickness.

He’s finally able to get up and about after his heart operation.


up for grabs: something is available to the first person who takes it.

This last piece of pizza is up for grabs. Who wants it?


up in the air: uncertain

A lot of things are up in the air right now for John and Jennifer. They’re still trying to decide whether or not to get married.


up to something: involved in some mischief.

What’s he up to now?


up to one’s ears: to have too much of something.

We’re up to our ears in zucchini by the middle of summer.


use it or lose it: if you have something, you should use it or else it won’t be available in the future.

A: He has great skill as a baseball player. He should play professionally.

B: Yeah, use it or lose it.


use one’s head: to think clearly; to make good decisions.

She wasn’t using her head when she got all those tattoos.


(a) vicious circle: something happens repeatedly.

She’s stuck in a vicious circle at work.


vote with one’s feet: to go to a new place; to move.

When the economy turned sour in Florida, Katy and Tom voted with their feet and moved to Arizona.


Next Expression Lesson

In our next lesson, we will cover American Phrases Beginning with V.

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English Expression Outline

If you wish to see all HiCafe lessons related to English expressions and phrases, you can visit the Popular and Practical American Phrases page.