• One step forward, two steps back means every time you make progress, something bad happens which causes you to be in a worse situation that you were to begin with.
  • Make progress but then experience events that cause you to be further behind than you were.
  • Someone who is having trouble making progress.

1. Our stock prices just fell down 30% so it looks like it’s one step forward, two steps back for us.


2. I performed my piece by Beethoven for the jury but I forgot the ending. I guess it’s one step forward, two steps back if I don’t get into the music program.


3. Without any new witnesses, it’s one step forward and two steps back for this murder case.


4. Learning English is battle of one step forward and two steps back when it comes to grammar.

defeat, difficulty, disappointment, disaster, discouragement, downer, downfall, error, failure, hardship, hindrance, hurdle, interference, miscalculation, misfortune, mishap, mistake, obstacle, obstruction, restriction, setback, slip, stumbling block

How about this expression?

Know something backwards and forwards

  • To know something backwards and forwards means to be extremely well informed about something.
  • To know something very well.
  • Thoroughly.

1. I know the streets of New York backwards and forwards.


2. As the chef’s assistant, you’ve got to know the menu backwards and forwards.


3. I studied the vocabulary so many times that I know it backwards and forwards. I’m looking forward to acing the test!


4. My engineers and I have been in the oil industry for over 20 years, we know it backwards and forwards.

brilliant, clever, experienced, expert, gifted, know by rote, know inside out, know like a book, know one’s stuff, learned, masterful, practiced, prepared, proficient, qualified, savvy, sharp, skilled, skilful, smart, talented, with it

Do more harm than good

To do more harm than good means to have a bad effect rather than a good one. To make a situation worse rather than better. To be damaging rather than helpful. 1. I'm sorry but saying anything at this point may do more harm than good. 2. Her boyfriend is doing more...

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Do the unthinkable

To do the unthinkable means to do something unexpected. Impossible to imagine; inconceivable. Unreasonable; improbable; not to be considered; out of the question. 1. This store is doing the unthinkable and making their products more affordable. 2. Skateboarding isn't...

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Drop something like a hot potato

To drop someone/something like a hot potato means to disassociate oneself with someone or something instantly. To discontinue; to get rid of very quickly. To quickly stop being involved with someone/something. 1. I dropped the idea like a hot potato because my boss...

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