Idiom: 1500+ English Idioms from A-Z with Useful Examples
Idioms! What is an idiom? Learn idiom definition, common idioms list in English with meaning, idiom examples and ESL pictures. Native English speakers, or of any language for that matter, naturally inherit the knowledge to know what idioms mean because they have the benefit of hearing them every day as they grow up. However, when you are learning English as a secondary language and it is not your native tongue, idioms and other forms of figurative language can be extremely difficult to understand. Understanding them, however, is an essential part of being able to communicate effectively with those around you and for them to communicate effectively with you. Below, you will see brief explanations discussing what idioms are, the important history behind them, and why we still use them today.
Table of Contents
- What is an Idiom?
- Idiom Dictionary | English Idioms List from A to Z
- Idioms (A)
- Idioms (B)
- English Idioms (C)
- English Idioms (D)
- Idioms (E)
- Idioms (F)
- English Idioms (G)
- English Idioms (H)
- Idioms (I)
- Idioms (J)
- Idioms (K)
- Idioms (L)
- English Idioms (M)
- English Idioms (N)
- Idioms (O)
- Idioms (P)
- Idioms (Q)
- English Idioms (R)
- English Idioms (S)
- English Idioms (T)
- English Idioms (U)
- Idioms (V)
- Idioms (W)
- English Idioms (Y)
- English Idioms (Z)
- Idiom Examples
- Health Idioms Examples
- Clothes Idioms Examples
- Sports Idioms Examples
- Music Idioms Examples
- Time Idioms Examples
- Number Idioms Examples
- Travel & Transport Idioms Examples
- Car & Driving Idioms Examples
- Technology Idioms Examples
- Home Idioms Examples
- Plant Idioms Examples
- Weather Idioms Examples
- Appearance Idioms Examples
- People Idioms Examples
- Daily Routines Idioms Examples
- Social Life Idioms Examples
- Happy Idioms Examples
- Crazy Idioms Examples
- Love Idioms Examples
- Feeling Idioms Examples
- Food Idioms Examples
- Fruit Idioms Examples
- Dog Idioms Examples
- Cat Idioms Examples
- Animal Idioms Examples
- Family Idioms Examples
- Body Idioms Examples
- Business Idioms Examples
- Common English Idioms | Images
- English Idioms Videos
- English Idioms Lessons
- Big List of Common English Idioms & Phrases
What is an Idiom?
What is an idiom? Learn idiom definition, idiom examples, history of idioms and why we use them in everyday conversations.
An idiom is a phrase or an expression that has a figurative, or sometimes literal, meaning. An idiom’s figurative meaning is different from the literal meaning.
Idioms occur in all languages on every continent throughout the world. They are known as a form of formulaic language. This type of language is not meant to be taken literally in most cases. These phrases are meant to have a figurative meaning that paints a picture in someone’s mind as a comparison for what is literally implied by the terminology being used. Most idioms come in the form of phrases known as idiomatic phrases. Idioms are used every day in all types of conversations and discussions about many topics. They most often appear in informal conversations, but can also appear in formal discussions as well.
- Hit the books: This idiom simply means to study, especially with particular intensity. It is used as a verb – hit the books.
- On the ball: this idiom is typically used to reference someone that is alert, active, or attentive. If you say someone is “on the ball”, you mean that he or she understands the situation well.
- Pull someone’s leg: this idiom means to tease someone, to lead someone on or to goad someone into overreacting.“I hadn’t pulled Ms Jane’s leg for any of that stuff, she had just handed it to me on a platter, and that wasn’t my fault”
- Hit the sack: This idiom generally means to go to bed. You can also say “hit the hay” which has the same meaning.
Idiom Examples Image 1
The History Of Idioms
Most idioms have an extensive history of being used over an extended period of time. Many have origins in the Bible and even more are derived from Old English or Latin phrases and words. Well-known authors like Shakespeare, Chaucer, and many others have used or are solely responsible for the creation of some idioms in their works of poetry, drama, plays, and more. These well-known authors used idioms to prevent their writing from sounding bland, mundane, and repetitive by using the same old boring comparisons using both relative and literal terms. In fact, most of the popular idioms that we still use to this very day have stood the ultimate test of time having originated thousands of years ago.
Why Do We Use Idioms?
We use idioms daily for several reasons. When used as either a part of a conversation or as a part of writing, idioms have a way of making what we are attempting to say better. Idiomatic phrases add color and poetry to what we say and what we write. They also give us a way to make the people on the other end listening think outside the box due to their figurative language. It makes people stop and think “what did they mean by that?” Some idioms even invoke laughter from the listener or reader by making them picture something that seems highly unlikely. Finally, the usage of idioms makes great comparisons and these unlikely comparisons can impress readers and listeners of our work alike.
English Idioms Examples with Idiom Meaning | Image 1
Idiom Dictionary | English Idioms List from A to Z
The following is an extensive list of 1500+ common English Idioms with their meanings.
List of English idioms that start with A.
A Bit Much: More than is reasonable; a bit too muchA Bite at The Cherry: A good opportunity that isn’t available to everyoneA Busy Bee: A busy, active person who moves quickly from task to task.A Cat Has Nine Lives: Cats seem to get away with dangerous thingsA Cat in Gloves Catches No Mice: You can’t get what you need if you’re too careful.A Cat Nap: A short sleep during the dayA Cold Day In July: (Something that) will never happenA Cold Fish: Someone who is not often moved by emotions, who is regarded as being hard and unfeeling.A Cut Above: Slightly better thanA Cut Below: Inferior to; somewhat lower in quality thanA Day Late And A Dollar Short: Too delayed and insignificant to have much effectA Dog in The Manger: A person who selfishly prevent others from using, enjoying or profiting from something even though he/ she cannot use or enjoy it himself.A Few Sandwiches Short Of A Picnic: Abnormally stupid, not really saneA Good Deal: To a large extent, a lotA Great Deal: To a very large extentA Guinea Pig: Someone who is part of an experiment or trialA Hair’s Breadth: A very small distance or amountA Home Bird: Somebody who prefers to spend his social and free time at home.A Hundred And Ten Percent: More than what seems to be the maximumA Lame Duck: A person or enterprise (often a business) that is not a success and that has to be helped.A Leg Up: An advantage, a boostA Lemon: A vehicle that does not work properlyA Life Of Its Own: An indepdendent existenceA Little Bird Told Me: I don’t wish to divulge where I got the informationA Little Bird Told Me: I got this information from a source I cannot reveal.A Little from Column A, a Little from Column B: A course of action drawing on several different ideas or possibilitiesA Lone Wolf: Someone who is not very social with other peopleA Lot on One’s Plate: A lot to doA Million and One: Very manyA Notch Above: Superior to; higher in qualityA Penny for Your Thoughts: What are you thinking?A Penny Saved is A Penny Earned: Every small amount helps to build one’s savingsA Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words: A visual presentation can communicate something very effectivelyA Plum Job: An easy and pleasant job that also pays wellA Rare Bird: Somebody or something of a kind that one seldom sees.A Scaredy-Cat: Someone who is excessively scared or afraid.A Second Bite At The Cherry: A Second chance to do somethingA Sight for Sore Eyes: Someone that you’re pleased to seeA Sitting Duck: A person or object in a vulnerable position that is easy to attack or injure.A Snowball’s Chance in Hell: Little to no likelihood of occurrence or successA Stitch in Time Saves Nine: Fix something quickly, because if you don’t, it will just get more difficult to fixA Stone’s Throw: A very short distanceA Storm in a Teacup: Unnecessary anger or worry about an unimportant or trivial matterA Tall Order: A difficult taskA Week Is A Long Time In _____: In the field mentioned, the situation may change rapidlyAbout Time: Far past the desired timeAbout To: On the point of, occurring imminentlyAbove And Beyond: More than is expected or requiredAbove Board: Openly, without deceit. Honestly, reputably.Above The Law: Exempt from the laws that apply to everyone else.Above The Salt: Of high standing or honorAbove Water: Not in extreme difficulty. Especially said of financesAccident Of Birth: Luck in something due to family good fortuneAccident Waiting To Happen: A dangerous way of setting up or organizing somethingAccording To Hoyle: Properly, in accordance with established proceduresAce In The Hole: A hidden advantageAce Up One’s Sleeve: A surprise advantage of which others are not aware.Acid Test: A crucial event that determines the worth of somethingAcknowledge The Corn: Admit to a mistake, especially a small one; point out one’s own shortcomings, or another’sAcquired Taste: Something one learns to appreciate only after trying it repeatedlyAcross The Board: In relation to all categories, for everyoneAcross The Pond: On or to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.Act High and Mighty: Be arrogant, presume that one is better than othersAct Of Congress: Hard to get, said of authorizationAct One’s Age: To be mature, not childishActions Speak Louder Than Words: One’s character and intentions are shown more accurately by one’s actions than by one’s words.Achilles’ Heel: The weak point of an otherwise powerful person or organizationAdd Fuel To The Fire: Worsen already existing tensionAdd Insult To Injury: Compound a defeat with humiliation or mockeryAdd Insult to Injury: Humiliate someone in addition to doing damage to him or herAfter One’s Own Heart: Similar in a pleasing wayAfter The Fact: Too late; after something is completed or finalizedAfter The Lord Mayor’s Show (UK): Anticlimactic; occurring after something impressiveAgainst The Clock: Forced to hurry to meet a deadlineAgainst the Clock: In a very limited amount of time; with a shortage of time being the main problemAgainst The Grain: Contrary to one’s natural inclinationsAgainst The Run Of Play: A typical of the way a game has been goingAge Before Beauty: Something said by a younger woman to an older one, for instance allowing her to pass through a doorwayAgree To Disagree: Accept or set aside a disagreementAgreement In Principle: In a negotiation, an agreement in which not all details have been worked outAha Moment: Sudden realization, the point at which one suddenly understands somethingAhead Of One’s Time: Offering ideas not yet in general circulation; highly creativeAhead Of The Curve: Innovative, devising new ideas in advance of othersAhead Of The Curve: Offering ideas not yet in general circulation; highly creativeAhead Of The Game: Making faster progress than anticipated; ahead of scheduleAir Rage: Angry behavior inside an airplaneAiry Fairy: whimsical, nonsensical, impracticalAlbatross Around One’s Neck: Something from one’s past that acts as a hindranceAlive and Kicking: In good health despite health problemsAll Along: For the entire time something has been happeningAll And Sundry: Everyone(separately) Each one.All Bark And No Bite: Tending to make verbal threats but not deliver on themAll Bets Are Off: What seemed certain is now unclearAll Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go: Prepared (with clothing or otherwise) for an event that does not occurAll Ears: Listening willingly, waiting for an explanationAll Eyes And Ears: AttentiveAll Eyes Are On: Watching alertly or attentively. Having prominent eyes. Everyone is paying attention toAll Fur Coat And No Knickers: Superficially attractive, physically or otherwiseAll Hands on Deck: Everyone must help.All Hat And No Cattle: Pretentious, full of blusterAll Hell Breaks Loose: The situation becomes chaotic.All In A Day’s Work (Excl.): That’s what I’m here for; although I have accomplished something, it is part of what I’m expected to doAll In Good Time: Eventually; at a more favorable time in the future. This phrase encourages one to be patient.All in One Piece: SafelyAll It’s Cracked Up To Be: As good as claims or reputation would suggestAll Mouth And No Trousers: Superficial, engaging in empty, boastful talk, but not of real substanceAll Over But The Shouting: Certain to end in a specific wayAll Over Hell’S Half Acre: All over the place; everywhere.All Over The Board: Everywhere, in many different locationsAll Over The Map: Everywhere; in many different locationsAll Over The Place: Everywhere; in many different locationsAll Rights Reserved: Said of a published work; all reproduction rights are asserted by the copyright holderAll Roads Lead to Rome: There is more than one effective way to do something; many different methods will produce the same resultAll Set: Ready, prepared, finishedAll Sizzle And No Steak: Failing to live up to advance promotion or reputationAll Talk and No Trousers: Prone to empty boastsAll Told: With everything taken into considerationAll That Jazz: Similar things, similar qualities, et ceteraAll The Marbles: The entire prize or rewardAll The Rage: Very fashionableAll the Rage: Very much in fashionAll The Same: Anyway; nevertheless; nonetheless.All The Tea In China: Great wealth, a large paymentAll Things Being Equal: In the event that all aspects of a situation remain the sameAll Things Considered: Taking all factors into considerationAll Thumbs: ClumsyAll Very Well: True to a certain extentAll Wet: Completely mistakenAlong The Lines Of: In general accordance with, in the same general direction asAmateur Hour: A display of incompetenceAmber Gambler: Someone who accelerates to try to cross an intersection before a traffic light turns redAmber Nectar: BeerAmerican Dream (The): The belief among Americans that hard work leads to material successAn Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away: Eating healthy foods will keep one from getting sick (and needing to see a doctor)An Axe: To Grind A grievance, a disagreement with someone that justifies confrontation.An Early Bird: A person who gets up early in the morning, or who starts work earlier than others.An Eye for an Eye: Justice in which reparation or vengeance exactly matches the harm caused to the victimAn Offer One Can’t Refuse: An extremely attractive offerAncient History: Something, such as a disagreement, that happened long ago and ought to be forgottenAnd All That: Et cetera, and so on.And Counting: And the number just mentioned is increasing (or decreasing)And Change: And an additional amount of money that’s less than the next round numberAnd His Mother: An intensifier for an inclusive noun or phrase such as everyone, everybodyAnd So Forth: Indicates that a list continues in a similar manner, etc.And So On: Indicates that a list continues in a similar manner, etc.And The Like: And other similar items, etc.And Then Some: And even more than what has just been mentionedAnother Nail In One’s Coffin: Something that leads to someone’s death, literally or figuratively.Answer Back: Respond impertinently; to talk back.Ants In Your Pants: RestlessnessAny Port in a Storm: If you’re in trouble, you’ll turn to anything that improves the situation.Any Tom, Dick or Harry: Any ordinary personAngel’s Advocate: Someone who takes a positive outlook on an idea or proposalAngle For: Aim toward something, try to obtain something, often indirectly or secretlyApple of One’s Eye: A favorite person or thing, a person especially valued by someoneApple of Someone’s Eye: The person that someone loves most of all and is very proud ofApples and Oranges: Of two different classes, not comparableApples and Oranges: Of two different classes, not comparableArm Candy: An attractive woman accompanying a powerful or famous man at a social eventArmed to the Teeth: Carrying many weaponsAround the Clock: At all timesAs American as Apple Pie: Very or typically AmericanAs Far as I Can Throw (someone): Only slightlyAs Fit as A Fiddle: To be healthy and physically fitAs Pale as A Ghost: Extremely paleAs Pale as Death: Extremely paleAs Poor as a Church Mouse: Very poorAs Red as A Cherry: Very redAsleep at the Wheel (Switch): not paying attention to one’s work; not doing one’s job diligently.At Death’s Door: Very near deathAt Each Other’s Throats: Constantly and strongly arguingAt Loggerheads: In a state of persistent disagreementAt Loggerheads: In a state of persistent disagreement.At Sixes and Sevens: Someone is in a state of confusion or not very well organized.At the Drop of a Hat: Spontaneously, suddenlyAt the Eleventh Hour: It happens when it is almost too late.At the End of One’s Rope (Tether): Running out of endurance or patienceAt the End of the Day: In the final analysis; when all is said and doneAt Wit’s End: Frustrated because all measures to deal with something have failed
List of Common English Idioms – Image 1
List of English idioms that start with B.
Babe In Arms: A baby being carriedBabe In The Woods: An innocent, naive personBabe Magnet: A man to whom women are attractedBaby Blues: Blue eyes.Baby Boomer: A person born in the years following World War II, when there was a temporary marked increase in the birth rateBabysitter Test: An evaluation of the ease of use of household appliances, especially remote control devicesBack And Forth: Dialogue, negotiationsBack At You: Same to you (used to return a greeting or insult)Back Burner (On The): Not urgent; set aside until laterBack Forty: Remote, inaccessible landBack in the Day: Formerly, when I was younger, in earlier timesBack Of Beyond: A remote locationBack Office: Support services for a businessBack on One’s Feet: Physically healthy againBack to Square One: Back to the startBack to Square One: Forced to begin something againBack to the Drawing Board: Forced to begin something againBack to the Salt Mine(s): We have to go back to work.Back to the Salt Mines: It’s time for me (us) to go back to workBack the Wrong Horse: To support the losing sideBacking and Filling: Delaying a decision by making small changes or arguing about small detailsBackseat Driver: A passenger in a car who gives unwanted advice to the driver is called a backseat driver.Backseat Driver: Someone who likes to give (often annoying) advice to the driver of a car, or the leader of some other enterpriseBad Apple: A discontented, trouble making, or dishonest personBad Blood: Enmity or hatred that stems from something in the pastBad Egg: Someone who is not to be trustedBad Taste In One’s Mouth: Unease, a feeling that something unspecified is wrong in a situationBag of Tricks: A set of methods or resourcesBail Out: To rescue someone from a bad situation, to shield someone from the consequences of his or her actionsBall and Chain: 1. One’s spouse (derogatory but often affectionate); 2. an ongoing burdenBallpark Figure: A rough estimateBanner Year: A year marked by strong successesBang for Your Buck: Value for moneyBang for Your Buck: Value for your moneyBang One’s Head Against the Wall (Against a Brick Wall):Try repeatedly to do something without making progressBaptism by Fire: A difficult task given right after one has assumed new responsibilitiesBar Fly (or Barfly): Someone who spends much of his or her time in barsBare One’s Heart (Soul): To confess one’s deepest secretsBark Up the Wrong Tree: Pursue a mistaken approach or belief; be wrong in a course of actionBasket Case: So upset or stunned that one is unable to function; in a hopeless conditionBat/Play for Both Teams: To be bisexual.Bat/Play for the Other Team: To be homosexual.Batten Down the Hatches: Prepare for a stormBatten Down the Hatches: Prepare for a stormBe A Barrel of Laughs: To be fun, funny, and pleasant.Be A Cold Day In Hell: (Something that) will never happenBe An Item: Two people are an item when they are having a romantic relationshipBe Footloose and Fancy-Free: To be free of responsibilities, including romantic commitmentsBe Head Over Heels (In love): Be in love with somebody very muchBe in Seventh Heaven: Extremely happyBe in Two Minds (about something): To not be certain about something, or to have difficulty in making a decisionBe Like Chalk and Cheese: Things or people who are very different and have nothing in commonBe Lovey – Dovey: Expressing your love in public by constantly kissing and huggingBe on the Mend: Be improving after an illnessBe Snowed Under: Be extremely busy with work or things to doBean Counters: Accountants, finance professionals in an organizationBean Counters: Accountants, finance professionals in an organizationBeat Around the Bush: To speak in a roundabout way in order to avoid confronting an unpleasant topicBeat Someone To The Draw: To accomplish or obtain something more quickly than someone elseBeat Someone to the Punch: Do something before or faster than someone elseBeat the Drum for (Something): Speak in favor of something to try to generate supportBeauty Is Only Skin Deep: External appearance is a superficial basis for judging someoneBed of Roses: A comfortable situationBedroom Eyes: An expression of the eyes that seems to invite sexBee in One’s Bonnet: Someone who has a bee in their bonnet has an idea which constantly occupies their thoughts.Beggar Thy Neighbor: To do something beneficial for oneself without worrying about how it affects othersBehind the Eight (or 8) Ball: At a serious disadvantageBehind the Scenes: In a way not apparent to the publicBehind the Times: Old-fashionedBell the Cat: Take on a difficult or impossible taskBells And Whistles: Attractive but unnecessary features of a productBelly Laugh: Loud, hearty laughterBend an Elbow: Drink alcoholic beverages at a tavernBest (Greatest) Thing Since Sliced Bread: An innovative developmentBest of Both Worlds: Combining two qualities that are usually separateBet One’s Bottom Dollar (On Something): Be certain that something will happenBet the Farm: Risk everything; spend all one’s money on something in hopes of successBetter late Than Never: It implies that a belated achievement is better than not reaching a goal at all.Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Caught between two undesirable optionsBetween the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: In a difficult positionBeyond the Pale: Too morally or socially extreme to acceptBeyond the Shadow of a Doubt: Absolutely certainBig Apple: An informal name for New York CityBig Brother: Government, viewed as an intrusive force in the lives of citizens; government spyingBig Cheese: An important person in a company or organizationBig Deal: An important event or accomplishmentBig Fish: An important personBig Picture: A wide perspective; a broad view of somethingBig time: If you do something big time, you do it to a great degree.Birds of a Feather: People having similar characters, backgrounds, interests, or beliefs.Bird’s-Eye View: A view from above; a broad perspective on somethingBite Off More Than You Can Chew: Try to do more than one is capable of doingBite the Bullet: To do something even though it involves pain, discomfort, or difficultyBite the Hand That Feeds You: Act badly toward someone who has helped youBitter Pill to Swallow: An unpleasant fact that one must acceptBlack and White: A clear distinction between good and bad, positive and negativeBlack Eye: A mark of shameBlack Sheep: A person who does not fit into a group, especially a familyBlack-and-Blue: Bruised, showing signs of having been physically harmedBlank Check: Permission to spend or do whatever one wishes; carte blancheBlind Date: When two people who have never seen each other before go on a dateBlinded by Love: When a person is so madly in love with somebody that they can’t see the person’s faults or negative characteristicsBlood and Thunder: A dramatic, spectacular performanceBlow Away the Cobwebs: If something blows away the cobwebs, it makes you feel more lively and refreshes your ideas.Blow Hot and Cold: Shift one’s level of enthusiasm repeatedlyBlow Off Steam: To express anger and frustration in a way that does no damageBlow One’s Top: Lose one’s temperBlow One’s Stack: To lose one’s temper and explode in angerBlow the Cobwebs Away (or Out of Something): Make space for fresh ideas, encourage something newBlow the Whistle: Reporting an illegal or unacceptable activity to the authoritiesBlow Up: ExplodeBlow Your Own Trumpet: Brag; emphasize one’s own contributionsBlue Blood (adj. blue-blooded): Person of aristocratic backgroundBlue Eyed Boy: A person who is a favorite of those in authority; someone whose mistakes are forgivenBlue Light Special: 1. a temporary sale at a discount store. 2. a traffic stop by the police.Bob’s Your Uncle: The rest is easy; you’re almost finishedBolt From the Blue: Something completely unexpectedBone Dry: Completely dry, totally without moistureBorn on The Wrong Side of the Blanket: Born to parents who were not marriedBorrow Trouble: Take needless risks, invite problemsBottom of the Barrel: Low-quality choicesBoy Toy: A young man who is the lover of an older, often wealthier woman (see toyboy)Boys will be Boys: A phrase of resignation used when boys get into trouble or are stereotypically reckless or rowdyBrainstorm: To generate many ideas quicklyBreak a Leg: Good luck! This is used for a stage performer-or for anyone else who is about to give some kind of a performance, such as an important speechBreak Out in A Cold Sweat: To perspire from fever or anxietyBreak the Bank: Exhaust one’s financial resourcesBreak The Ice: To get something started, particularly by means of a social introduction or conversationBreak up/ Split up (With Somebody): End the relationshipBring Home the Bacon: Earn money for one’s familyBringing a Knife to a Gunfight: Underequipped or unpreparedBrush Under the Carpet: Attempt to temporarily conceal a problem or errorBucket List: Things you want to see or do before you dieBull in a China Shop: A clumsy or tactless personBump in the Road: A temporary problem, a small setbackBundle Up: Put on lots of warm clothingBurn One’s Bridges: Leave a job or a relationship on such bad terms that one does not stay in contactBurn the Candle at Both Ends: To work too hard, with possible bad consequences for one’s healthBurn the Candle at Both Ends: Work very long hoursBurn the Midnight Oil: To work late into the nightBurn the Midnight Oil: Working late into the nightBury (Hide) One’s Head In the Sand: Ignoring something that’s obviously wrong, not facing realityBury the Hatchet: Make peace, agree to end a disputeBusiness as Usual: A normal situation (whether related to business or not), typically restored after some changeBusman’s Holiday (UK): A working vacationBusman’s Holiday: A vacation where you do the same thing you do at work, a working vacationBusted Flush: A failure, someone or something that seemed promising but did not develop wellButter Wouldn’t Melt in (Someone’s): Mouth This person is cool in manner, prim and properBuy a Pig in a Poke: To buy something with no prior inspectionBuy Time: Cause a delay in something with the aim of improving one’s positionBy a Whisker: By a very short distanceBy All Means: Of course, certainlyBy Hook or by Crook: By some possibly dishonest meansBy the Skin of One’s Teeth: Barely escaping disasterBy Word of Mouth: Via personal communications rather than written media
List of Common English Idioms – Image 2
English Idioms (C)
List of English idioms that start with C.
Call a Spade a Spade: To speak frankly and directly about a problemCall It a Day: Decide that one has worked enough on something for the dayCall It a Night: End an evening’s activities and go homeCall the Shots: Make the important decisions in an organizationCall the Tune: Making important decisions and controlling a situation.Can’t See the Forest for the Trees: Is unable to maintain a wider perspectiveCan’t Swing A Dead Cat In (Place): Without Hitting A (Thing) There are many examples of [thing] in this [place].Carrot-and-Stick (Approach): A tactic in which rewards are offered, but there is also the threat of punishmentCarry a Torch (for): To continue to be in love with someone even after a relationship has endedCarry Coals To Newcastle: Supply something that is unneeded; engage in useless laborCarry the Can: To take the blame for something one did not doCash In One’s Chips: 1. To take advantage of a quick profit 2. To dieCash-Strapped: In need of moneyCast the First Stone: To be the first to criticize or attack someoneCastle in the Air: An impractical planCat Fight: A fight between two womenCat Got Your Tongue?: Don’t you have anything to say?Cat on a hot tin roof: Be extremely nervousCat-and-Mouse (adj.): In a toying way; playful in an unpleasant wayCatch One’s Death of Cold: To become very ill (with a cold/flu etc.)Catch Some Rays: To sit or lie outside in the sunCatch Someone’s Eye: Attract someone’s attentionCatch-22: A difficult situation from which there is no escape because options for avoiding it involve contradictionsCat’s Paw: A person being used by someone else, a toolCaught Red-Handed: Apprehended while committing a crimeCircle the Wagons: To prepare as a group to defend against attack, adopt a defensive postureClaim to Fame: Unusual feature or offeringClean Up Nicely: Look good when one is dressed up. Usually said of womenClear the Air: Defuse tension, be honest about conflict so as to reduce itClip Someone’s Wings: Reduce someone’s privileges or freedomClose, But No Cigar: You are very close but not quite correct.Cock and Bull Story: A far-fetched story, probably untrueCock-A-Hoop: Elated, excitedCold Day in Hell: A condition for something that would be extremely unlikely to occurCome By Something Honestly: Acquire something honestly, or inherit itCome Clean: To confess; to admit to wrongdoingCome Hell or High Water: No matter what happensCome Out in the Wash: To be resolved with no lasting negative effectCome Out of the Closet: Reveal a secret about oneself, usually that one is gay (homosexual)Come Out Swinging: Respond to something very aggressivelyCome Rain and Shine: Do regularly, whatever the circumstancesCome to Grips With: To acknowledge a problem as a prelude to dealing with itCome to Terms With (Something): Feel acceptance toward something bad that has happenedComing Down the Pike: Likely to occur in the near futureCook Someone’s Goose: To insure someone’s defeat, to frustrate someone’s plansCook Up a Storm: Cook a great deal of foodCooking Up a Storm: Cooking a great deal of foodCool as A Cucumber: Calm and composed even in difficult or frustrating situations; self-possessedCool Cat: Someone who has the respect of their peers in a young, casual way.Cool Your Heels: WaitCouch Potato: A lazy person who watches a great deal of televisionCrash a Party: To attend a party without being invitedCrickets: SilenceCross to Bear: A problem one must deal with over a long time, a heavy burdenCrunch Time: A period of high pressure when one has to work hard to finish somethingCrunch the Numbers: Do calculations before making a decision or predictionCry Over Spilt (USA: Spilled): Milk To waste energy moaning about something that has already happenedCry Wolf (verb): To issue a false alarm, to ask for help when none is neededCry Your Eyes Out: Cry hard for a very long timeCry Your Eyes Out: Cry hard for a very long timeCuriosity Killed The Cat: Stop asking questions, don’t be too curiousCut (Someone) To the Quick: To deeply hurt someone emotionallyCut Corners: Economize by reducing quality; take shortcutsCut It Fine: To do something at the last momentCut Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face: To act in a proud way that ultimately damages your own causeCut Someone Some Slack: Avoid treating someone strictly or severelyCut to the Chase: Get to the point; explain the most important part of something quickly; skip the preliminariesCut the Gordian Knot: To solve a complex problem in a simple wayCut the Mustard: Do something adequatelyCut Your Teeth on Something: To learn basic skills in a fieldCutting-Edge: Very novel, innovativeChampagne taste on a beer budget: Expensive or extravagant tastes or preferences that are beyond one’s economic means.Change Horses in Midstream: Change plans or leaders in the middle of a processChange of Heart: A change in one’s opinion or outlookChange One’s Tune: To alter one’s opinion about something.Changing of the Guard: A change in leadership at an organizationChase Rainbows: To pursue unrealistic goalsCheap Shot: An unfair attack; a statement that unfairly attacks someone’s weaknessCherry-Pick: To present evidence selectively to one’s own advantageCherry-Pick: To select the best or most desirableChew the Fat: Chat for a considerable length of timeChickens Come Home To Roost: The negative consequences of previous actions reveal themselvesChild’s Play: A very easy taskChill Out: Do something that helps them to calm down and relax for a while.Chin Music: Meaningless talkChin Up/ Keep Your Chin Up: Cheer up; try to be cheerful and strongChip off the Old Block: Someone who resembles a direct ancestor, usually the fatherChomp (Champ) at the Bit: Be eager to do somethingChomp at the Bit: To be eager to do somethingChop Chop: Quickly, without delayChop Shop: A shop where stolen cars are disassembled for partsChuck a Wobbly: To act in an emotional way
English Idioms Examples with Idiom Meaning | Image 2
English Idioms (D)
List of English idioms that start with D.
Da Man (Slang): An accomplished or skillful person. Generally used in the compliment “”You da man!””Dance to Someone’s Tune: Consistently follow someone’s directions or influenceDance with the Devil: Knowingly do something immoralDark Horse: A surprise candidate or competitor, especially one who comes from behind to make a strong showingDarken Someone’s Door (Step): Make an unwanted visit to someone’s homeDead Ahead: Directly ahead, either in a literal or a figurative senseDead as the Dodo: Completely extinct; totally goneDead Eye: A good shooter, a good marksmanDead Heat: An exact tie in a race or competitionDead of Winter: The coldest, darkest part of winterDead ringer: Very similar in appearanceDead Run: Running as fast as possibleDead Shot: A good shooter, a good marksmanDeep Pockets: The new owner has deep pockets, so fans are hoping the football team will improve next year with new playersDeliver the Goods: Provide what is expectedDevil’s Advocate: Someone who argues a point not out of conviction, but in order to air various points of viewDirty Look: A facial manner that signifies disapprovalDo 12-Ounce Curls: Drink beerDodge a Bullet: To narrowly escape disasterDoesn’t Amount to a Hill of Beans: Is unimportant, is negligibleDog Days of the Summer: The hottest day of summerDog in the Manger: A person who prevents others from using something, even though the person himself or herself does not want itDog-and-Pony Show: A flashy presentation, often in a marketing contextDog-Eat-Dog: Intensely competitiveDon’t Judge a Book by Its Cover: Don’t be deceived by looks; don’t rely on looks when judging someone or somethingDon’t Cry Over Spilled Milk: Don’t worry about minor things.Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth: Do not question the value of a gift. The expression comes from the practice of determining the age and health of a horse by looking at its teeth.Double-Dip: Improperly get income from two different sourcesDouble-Edged Sword: Something that can be helpful or harmful; something beneficial that also has a downsideDown in the Dumps: Depressed, sadDown the Road: In the future (in your lifetime)Drag One’s Feet (or Heels): To do something reluctantly and slowlyDrag Your Feet: Do something very reluctantly; delay doing somethingDrain the Lizard: UrinateDraw a Blank: Be unable to remember somethingDraw a Line in the Sand: Issue an ultimatum; specify an absolute limit in a conflictDraw a Line Under (Something): To conclude something and move on to something elseDraw a Long Bow: Exaggerate, lieDraw the Line: To set a limit to what one will acceptDressed Up to the Nines: Someone is wearing very smart or glamorous clothesDrink the Kool-Aid: Accept a set of ideas uncritically, often dangerous onesDrive a Hard Bargain: To arrange a transaction so that it benefits oneself.Drive a Hard Bargain: To negotiate effectivelyDrive a Wedge Between: Try to split factions of a united group by introducing an issue on which they disagreeDrive Someone Up the Wall: Deeply irritate someoneDrop a Line: To write a letter or send an emailDrop the Ball: Fail to fulfill one’s responsibilities; make a mistakeDry Run: A practice execution of a procedureDutch Courage: Alcohol drunk with the intention of working up the nerve to do somethingDutch Uncle: A highly critical personDyed-In-The-Wool (adj.): Consistent in an affiliation or opinion over a long period; inveterate
List of English idioms that start with E.
Eager beaver: The term eager beaver refers to a person who is hardworking and enthusiastic, sometimes considered overzealous.Eagle-Eyed: Having sharp visionEarly Bird [noun or adjective]: Someone who does something prior to the usual time, or someone who gets up early.Eat Crow: To admit one was wrong, and accept humiliationEat Humble Pie: To admit defeat or error, to accept humiliationEat Someone’s Lunch: Defeat someone thoroughlyEat Your Heart Out!: (excl.) Go ahead, be jealous.Eighty-Six (v.): 1) Discard, eliminate. 2) Throw someone out of a bar or store.Elephant in the Room: A major problem that no one is talking aboutElevator Music: Pleasant but boring recorded music that is played in public places.Elevator Pitch: A brief presentation of an idea, one short enough to be delivered in an elevatorEleventh Hour: The last minuteEven Steven: Owing nothing; tied (in a game)Every Dog Has His (Its): Day Everyone has a moment of fame, power, or influenceEvery Man and His Dog: Many peopleEvery Man for Himself: Pursue your own interests; don’t expect help from others.Excused Boots: Allowed to avoid mandatory tasks
List of English idioms that start with F.
Face the Music: Dealing with consequences of one’s actionsFace the Music: To accept judgment or punishmentFall for Something: Hook, Line, and Sinker To be completely deceivedFall in Love with Somebody: Start feeling love towards somebodyFall Off the Wagon: To begin using alcohol (or another problem substance) after quittingFall on One’s Sword: To accept blame; to sacrifice oneselfFall Prey to: Be victimized by; be harmed by; be vulnerable toFancy Someone (British English): To find someone very attractiveFarther (On) Down the Road: Later, at some unspecified timeFarther (On) Down the Road: Later, at some unspecified timeFashion-Forward: Tending to adopt new styles quicklyFat Cat: A highly placed, well-paid executiveFather Figure: A mentor, a person who offers guidanceFeast Your Eyes On: To take great pleasure in looking at someone or somethingFeather in One’s Cap: An achievement for which one is recognized; a noteworthy achievementFeather One’s (Own) Nest: Use one’s influence or power improperly for financial gainFeather One’s Nest: To take advantage of one’s position to benefit oneselfFed Up With: Refusing to tolerate something any further; out of patienceFeel Like a Million Dollars: To feel great, to feel well and healthy.Feel On Top of The World: To feel very healthyFell off a Truck: Probably stolen or illicitly obtained; said of something offered for sale to avoid discussing its originsFell off the Back of a Lorry: Probably stolen or illicitly obtained; said of something offered for sale to avoid discussing its originsFifteen Minutes of Fame: Temporary renownFifth Wheel: A superfluous personFight Fire with Fire: Use the same measures that are being used against you, even if they’re stronger than you would usually useFight Like Cat and Dog: Continually arguing with each otherFind One’s Voice: Become more confident in expressing oneselfFind Your Feet: To adjust to a new place or situationFinger-Pointing: Blame; a situation within a group where each member attempts to blame othersFinger-Pointing: Blame; a situation within a group where each member attempts to blame othersFire in the Belly: strong ambitionFirst In, Best Dressed: The first people to do something will have an advantageFish for Compliments: Try to manipulate people into praising youFish or Cut Bait (usually an exclamation): Make a decision or give someone else a chanceFish Out of Water: A person who is in unfamiliar, confusing surroundingsFive-Finger Discount: ShopliftingFlash in the Pan: A one-time occurrence, not a permanent phenomenonFlat Broke: Having no money at allFlat Out Like a Lizard: Drinking Very busyFlesh and Blood: Blood relatives, close relativesFlew the Coop: Left, escapedFlip-Flop (v. or n.): To vacillate between two choices, to be indecisiveFly by the Seat of One’s Pants: To improvise, to make decisions without planning or preparationFly High: Be very successful, especially temporarilyFly Off The Handle: Lose one’s temper suddenly and unexpectedlyFly off the Handle: To become suddenly enragedFollow In Someone’s Footsteps (Tracks): Follow the example laid down by someone else; supplantFollow Your Heart: Rely on one’s deeper feelings and instincts when making a decisionFood for Thought: Something that makes you think carefullyFor a Song: At very low costFor a Song: At very low costFor Crying Out Loud (excl.): An expression of extreme annoyanceFor Xyz Reasons: For multiple reasons, not worth specifying individuallyFoul Play: Crime, typically murderFourth Estate: The media and newspapersFox in the Henhouse (Chickenhouse): Someone who causes troubleFreak Out: A wildly irrational reaction or spell of behaviorFrench Leave: Absence without permissionFreudian Slip: Accidental use of an incorrect word; a revealing slip of the tongueFrom Pillar to Post: From one place to another, in a forced, random wayFrom Scratch: From individual ingredients, not using a prepared mixFrom Soup to Nuts: Everything; from beginning to endFrom the Bottom of One’s Heart: Sincerely and with deep feelingFUBAR: Hopelessly ruined, not working, messed up.Fu** (Or Screw) The Dog (Pooch): To make an embarrassing errorFull Fathom Five: Lost deep in the seaFull of the Joys of Spring: Very happy, enthusiastic and full of energy
English Idioms Examples with Idiom Meaning | Image 3
English Idioms (G)
List of English idioms that start with G.
Game of Chicken: A conflict situation in which neither side will back down for fear of seeming cowardly (chicken)Get A Charley Horse: To develop a cramp in the arm or the legGet A Word In Edgewise: Be able to say something while someone else is talking a lotGet Along (with Someone): To have a satisfactory relationshipGet Bent Out of Shape: Become angry, upsetGet Carried Away: Become overly enthusiasticGet In on the Ground Floor: Invest in or join something while it is still smallGet in Shape: Undertake a program of physical conditioning; exercise regularlyGet Off Scot Free: Be accused of wrongdoing but pay no penalty at allGet Off Scot Free: Be accused of wrongdoing but pay no penalty at allGet One’s Ducks in a Row: Have everything organized; get oneself organizedGet One’s Hands Dirty: To do the unpleasant parts of a jobGet Someone’s Goat: To irritate someone deeplyGet To Grips With: To begin to understand and deal with somethingGet the Ball Rolling: Do something to begin a processGet the Picture: Understand what’s happeningGet the Runaround: Be given an unclear or evasive answer to a questionGet the Sack, Be Sacked: To be firedGet the Third Degree: To be questioned in great detail about somethingGet Wind of: Hear aboutGet With the Program: Figure out what everyone else already knows. Often used sarcastically, as a commandGo Along (With): Agree to something, often provisionallyGo Ape: Express wild excitement or angerGo Ballistic: Fly into a rageGo Bananas: To become irrational or crazyGo Bananas: To become irrational or crazyGo Belly Up: To go bankruptGo Berserk: To go crazyGo Bonkers: To be or become wild, restless, irrational, or crazy; to act in such a wayGo Cold Turkey: Stop using an addictive substance suddenly, without tapering offGo Down in Flames: Fail in a spectacular wayGo Mental: To suddenly become extremely angryGo Nuclear: Use an extreme measure; because extremely angryGo Nuts: To become crazyGo Off Half-Cocked: To say or something prematurely, with a negative effectGo Off the Deep End: To unexpectedly become very angry, especially without a good reasonGo Off The Rails: To go wrong, to begin acting strangely or badlyGo Out on a Limb: Assert something that may not be true; put oneself in a vulnerable positionGo Pear-Shaped: To fail; to go wrongGo See a Man About a Dog: Go to the bathroom (said as a euphemism)Go to the Dogs: To become disordered, to decayGo to the Mattresses: To go to into battleGo the Extra Mile: Put forth greater-than-expected effortGo Under the Knife: Undergo surgeryGo Viral: Begin To spread rapidly on the InternetGo with the Flow: To accept the way things naturally seem to be goingGrab (Take) the Bull by the Horns: To begin forthrightly to deal with a problemGrasp (Grab) at Straws: To take desperate actions with little hope of successGrease Monkey: A mechanic, especially an auto mechanicGrease the Wheels: Do something to make an operation run smoothlyGreasy Spoon: An inexpensive restaurant that fries foods on a grillGreen Around the Gills: To look sickGreen as Grass: Lacking training, naive; often said of young people in new jobsGrind One’s Teeth: Be very annoyed or angry about something without being able to say anything about it.Guilty Pleasure: Enjoying something which is not generally held in high regard, while at the same time feeling a bit guilty about it, is called a guilty pleasure.Guinea Pig: A test subject, a person who is used as a test to see if something will workGive and Take: Negotiations, the process of compromiseGive ’em Hell (often excl.): Express something passionately to a groupGive Lip Service to: Talk about supporting something without taking any concrete actionGive Lip Service: to Talk about supporting something without taking any concrete actionGive One’s Two Cents (That’s My Two Cents): Offer an opinion, suggest somethingGive Someone a Holler: Contact someoneGive Someone a Piece of Your Mind: Angrily tell someone what you thinkGive Someone a Run for Their Money: Compete effectively with the leader in a particular fieldGive Someone an Earful: angrily express an opinion to someoneGive Someone the Cold Shoulder: act hostile toward someone; to ignore, snubGive Someone The Old Heave-Ho: Fire someone, remove someone from a group or teamGive Something a Whirl: Attempt something without being totally familiar with itGive the Green Light: Approve something; allow something to proceed
English Idioms (H)
List of English idioms that start with H.
Hail Mary (n. or adj.): A desperate, last-ditch attemptHair of the Dog (That Bit You): A small amount of the alcoholic beverage that caused your hangoverHands are Tied: You are prevented from doing something. It is not within your powerHands Down: UndoubtedlyHang It Up: To retire, to end an activity one has pursued for a long timeHang Tough: Maintain one’s resolveHanging by a Thread: In great danger of elimination or failureHappy-Go-Lucky: If you are a happy-go-lucky person, you are cheerful and carefree all the time.Hard Nut to Crack: A difficult problem or a difficult personHas the Cat Got Your Tongue?: Why are you not saying anything?Hat Trick: Scoring three goals in hockey or soccer (football), or accomplishing three of anything.Hatchet Job: A strong attack on someone’s reputation; intentionally destructive criticism; calumnyHaul Over the Coals: To scold someone severelyHave (one’s) head in the clouds: Not know what is happening around you or out of touch with realityHave A Ball: To have a very enjoyable timeHave a Bone to Pick (with Someone): To want to discuss something someone has done that has angered or annoyed you.Have a Bone to Pick (with Someone): To want to discuss something someone has done that has angered or annoyed you.Have a Chip on One’s Shoulder: To harbor resentment; to have an angry attitudeHave a Dog in the Hunt (Fight, Race): To support a certain person in a competitionHave a Lead Foot: A tendency to drive very fastHave a Lot on One’s Plate: Be busy, be in the middle of many ongoing tasksHave a Lot Riding On (Something): Be depending on the successful outcome or development of somethingHave a Nose for (Something): To have natural ability at something, a talent for finding somethingHave a Screw Loose: Be slightly unbalanced or crazyHave a Tough Row to Hoe: Be faced with a task that is difficult because of unfavorable conditionsHave A Whale of A Time: To enjoy yourself very muchHave an Ace Up One’s Sleeve: To have a hidden advantageHave Bigger Fish to Fry: Have more important things to doHave Egg on Your Face: They are made to look foolish or embarrassedHave Foot-in-Mouth Disease: To embarrass oneself through a silly mistakeHave Hand of Aces/Hold All the Aces: To be in a very strong position in a competitionHave It Out with Someone: To have an argument with someone in order to settle a disputeHave One Foot in The Grave: To be near death (usually because of old age or illness)Have One Over the Eight: A person is slightly drunk.Have One Too Many: Drink too much alcoholHave One’s Cake and Eat It, Too: To want two incompatible things (usually used in the negative)Have Skin in the Game: Be risking something in an undertakingHave Something in the Bag: Be certain to winHave the Hots for (Somebody): To be (sexually) attracted to somebodyHave the Hots for Somebody: Finding somebody extremely attractiveHave The Time of Your Life: If you have the time of our life, you enjoy yourself very much.Have the Time of Your Life: To have a very fun, exciting, or enjoyable timeHave Your Nose in the Air: Have a snobbish or disdainful attitudeHave Your Say: Express your opinion on somethingHave Your Thumb Up Your Ass: Have nothing to doHe Who Laughs Last Laughs Best: Being victorious is often a matter of simply surviving a conflictHe Would Put Legs Under A Chicken: He will talk your head off; he is very talkativeHead (Go) South: Decline, get worseHead and Shoulders Above: Far superior toHead and Shoulders: Above Far superior toHead Start: An advantage over everyone elseHeads Up (excl.): Get ready! Be preparedHeads Up!: Be careful!Heads Will Roll (Are Going to Roll): People will be firedHeads Will Roll (Are Going to Roll): People will be firedHear (Something) Through the Grapevine: To learn something via gossipHeart and Soul: With all one’s energy or affectionHeavens Open: Start to rain heavilyHeavy Hitter: A powerful, influential personHelicopter Parenting: Overattentive child-raisingHell for Leather: Very fast, as fast as possibleHigh as a Kite: Strongly under the influence of drugs or intoxcantsHigh as a Kite: Strongly under the influence of drugs or intoxcantsHigh as a Kite: Strongly under the influence of drugs or intoxcantsHightail It (Out of There): FleeHighways and Byways: You take large and small roads to visit every part of the country.Hit a Wall: suddenly stop making forward progressHit It Out of the Park: Succeed brilliantlyHit the Books: To study (generally said of studentsHit the Ground Running: To begin a job or project with no learning or training period neededHit the Hay: To go to bedHit the Jackpot: Do something that brings great successHit the Nail on the Head: To be absolutely correct (said of an utterance)Hit the Road: To leaveHit the Roof: Explode in rage; become extremely angryHit the Roof: To become very angryHit the Sack: To go to bedHit the Spot: Be very satisfying (said of something eaten)Hive Mind: The knowledge of humans as a groupHobson’s Choice: A choice among bad optionsHold One’s Liquor: Be able to drink a large amount without being affectedHold One’s Peace: Be silentHold the Phone: Wait a moment (whether you’re on the phone or not)Hold the Phone: Wait a moment (whether you’re on the phone or not)Hold Your Horses (generally excl.): Stop; restrain yourself; don’t be so excitedHome Away from Home: A habitual hangout; a place one frequents often and where one feels welcomeHome Truths: Honest, often painful criticismHonor System: A system of payments that relies on the honesty of those payingHot Mess: Something or someone in a state of extreme disorderHot on the Heels (of): In close pursuitHot on the Heels (of): In close pursuitHot Potato: A controversial subject or difficult project that is best avoided
English Idioms Examples with Idiom Meaning | Image 4
List of English idioms that start with I.
I Wouldn’t Put It Past (Someone): I think it’s quite possible that [this person] would do this.If It Had Been a Snake, It Would Have Bitten Me: It was very obvious, but I missed it.If the Shoe Fits, Wear It: If this description of you is accurate, accept it.I’m All Ears: You have my attention, so you should talkIn a Fog: Confused, not mentally alertIn a Heartbeat: Immediately. This is especially used in hypothetical situationsIn a Jam: In need of help, in a difficult spotIn a New York Minute: Very quicklyIn a Nutshell: Expressed in a few wordsIn a Pickle: In need of help, in a difficult spotIn a Rut: Confined by routine, bored and seeking new experiencesIn Broad Daylight: When something occurs in broad daylight, it means the event is clearly visibleIn Clover: Benefiting from a positive financial situationIn For a Penny, In for a Pound: Committed to something even though the risks are increasingIn Full Swing: When something, such as an event, gets into full swing, it is at its busiest or liveliest time.In His Cups: DrunkIn Hot Water: In need of help; in troubleIn One Fell Swoop: All at once, in a single actionIn One’s Element: In a situation which is entirely suitable, familiar, or enjoyable.In Someone’s Wheelhouse: In someone’s strongest area of competence or enthusiasmIn Touch: In contactIn the Blink of an Eye: Quickly, seemingly instantaneouslyIn the Cards: Likely; likely to occurIn the Crosshairs (Cross Hairs): Targeted for blame or criticismIn the Dark: Not informedIn the Dark: Unaware of somethingIn the Driver’s Seat: In a dominant position, in controlIn the Hot Seat: Undergoing criticism or scrutiny; under pressure publiclyIn the Interim: It denotes a period of time between something that ended and something that happened afterwardsIn the Limelight, In the Spotlight: Receiving large amounts of publicity or attentionIn the Long Run: Over an extended period of timeIn the Nick of Time: Just in time; with no time to spareIn the opinion of the speaker, a person has just spent money unnecessarily and is, therefore, a fool.In the Pipeline: Being prepared for the marketplace, being worked onIn the Red: Losing money; (of a market index) below a specified starting pointIn the Same Boat: In a similar situation; similarly vulnerableIn the Toilet: In disastrous conditionIn the Works: Under development; coming soonIron Out (Problems, Difficulties): To resolveIs the Pope Catholic?: Isn’t the answer obvious?It Never Rains but It Pours: Bad luck and bad things tend to happen at the same timeIt Takes Two to Tango: When something goes wrong involving two people, it’s likely that they share the blame; cooperation is necessaryIt Takes Two to Tango: You say this when you think that a difficult situation or argument cannot be the fault of one person alone.It Won’t Fly: It won’t work; it won’t be approved.Itchy Feet: A person who has itchy feet is someone who finds it difficult to stay in one place and likes to travel and discover new places.It’s a Wash: A positive and a negative development cancel each other out, so the situation has neither improved nor gotten worseIt’s All Greek to Me: It is unintelligible, impossible to understandIt’s No Skin off My (Your) Nose (Back): The outcome will not affect me personallyIt’s Not Over Till the Fat Lady Sings: Do not give up too soon; things may improve.It’s Not Rocket Science: It’s not difficult to understand.I’ve Had It Up to Here: My patience is almost exhausted.
List of common English idioms that start with J.
Jack of All Trades: A person with a wide variety of skillsJam Session: Playing improvised music in an informal settingJim Crow: The system of racial segregation in the American South prior to the American civil rights movement.Join the Club (excl.): I feel sympathy for you because I have experienced something similar.Jump in with Both Feet: Begin a new experience wholeheartedlyJump on the Bandwagon: To follow a trend or crazeJump on the Bandwagon: To follow a trend; follow the crowdJump the Gun: Start doing something too soonJump the Shark: To pass peak quality and begin to decline. Often used to describe television programs or movie series.Jump the Track: To shift suddenly from one activity or line of thought to anotherJump Through Hoops: Complete a series of tasks in order to satisfy someoneJust Around the Corner: Occurring soonJust for the Record: I would like to make it clear that …Just What the Doctor Ordered: Exactly the thing that is or was needed to help improve something or make one feel better
List of common English idioms that start with K.
Kangaroo Court: A court of law where proper procedures are not followed at all; a sham judicial proceedingKeep (Something) at Bay: Maintain a distance from something or someoneKeep a Stiff Upper Lip: Control one’s emotions; not give in to fear or griefKeep an Eye On: To keep an eye on something or someone is to watch it periodically, to keep it under surveillance.Keep an Eye Peeled: Be observant; watch out for somethingKeep It Under Your Hat: Don’t tell anyone; don’t reveal this secretKeep Someone at Arm’s Length: Avoid close interaction or cooperationKeep Your Nose Clean: Avoid trouble or situations that compromise one’e honestyKeep Your Powder Dry: Do not attack until you are ready.Keeping One’s Nose to the Grindstone: Working hard on something repetitive or tediousKick Ass, Kick Butt: 1) Defeat badly; 2) be excellent or highly effective (only kick ass would be used for 2)Kick the Bucket: To dieKick the Can Down the Road: Postpone an important decisionKill a Fly With an Elephant Gun: Approach a problem with excessive measuresKill Two Birds with One Stone: Act in such a way as to produce two desirable effectsKill Two Birds with One Stone: Solve two problems with one moveKill the Goose That Laid the Golden Egg: To destroy a source of ongoing profits or benefitsKink in One’s Neck: A cramp in one’s neck that causes painKing of the Hill: At the top of one’s field; the most influential person in a given field or areaKiss and Make Up: Make peace after an argumentKith and Kin: Family (collectively)Knock on Wood; Touch Wood: Let’s hope I have good luck or continue to have good luck.Knock Some Sense Into: To beat someone in order to teach him/her a lesson. May be used figuratively.Knock Someone’s Socks Off: Amaze someoneKnock Up: To impregnate a woman. Often used in the form knocked up.Knockout: An extremely beautiful womanKnow (Something) Like the Back of One’s Hand: To be very familiar with something, especially an area
List of common English idioms that start with L.
Larger Than Life: Conveying a sense of greatness, imposingLast But Not Least: What I have just said does not reflect a ranking in importance.Laughter is the Best Medicine: Laughing a lot is a very effective means of recovering from physical or mental injuryLearn the Ropes: Become more familiar with a job or field of endeavor; be trainedLeave Someone in the Lurch: Abandon someone in a difficult situationLend an Ear: ListenLet Bygones Be Bygones: Agree to forget about a past conflictLet Bygones Be Bygones: Agree to forget about a past conflictLet Off Steam: To express anger and frustration in a way that does no damageLet One’s Hair Down: To relax and enjoy themselves.Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: To avoid stirring up a problem; to leave things aloneLet the Cat Out of the Bag: Reveal a secret, usually a secret you or others are trying to keepLet the Genie Out of the Bottle: Reveal something hitherto suppressedLetter of the Law: The explicit meaning of a law, as opposed to the spirit of the law, the law’s general intentionLick One’s Wounds: Rest after a bad defeatLife is A Bowl of Cherries: Life is wonderful or very pleasantLight a Fire Under Someone: Inspire someone to work very hardLight at the End of the Tunnel: A sign of hope after a long period of difficultiesLike a Kid in a Candy Store: To be so excited about one’s surroundings that one acts in a childlike or silly wayLike a Moth to a Flame: Drawn to something or someone despite the dangersLike Father, Like Son: Sons inherit their fathers’ traits and preferences, often even without realizing it.Like Shooting: Fish in a Barrel Very easyLike Taking Candy from a Baby: Very easyLike Two Peas in a Pod: Bearing a strong resemblanceLike The Cat That Got The Cream: Looking particularly self-satisfied, often to the annoyance of othersLion’s Den: Any dangerous or frightening place.Lion’s Share: The largest part of somethingLive Large: Have a luxurious lifestyleLiving in Cloud Cuckooland: Having unrealistic or foolish beliefs or plans.Living on Borrowed Time: Following an illness or near-death experience, may people believe they have cheated deathLiving Under a Rock: Ignorant of important events. Usually used as a question: Have you been living under a rock?Loaded for Bear: Prepared for problems, well prepared for a challengeLoan Shark: A predatory lender; one who makes high-interest loans to desperate peopleLock Horns: To lock horns is to argue, to come into conflict.Long Shot: Something with little chance of successLook the Other Way: Take no notice of violations of laws or rules, unofficially condone somethingLook What the Cat Dragged In: Someone unwelcome has arrived.Loose Cannon: Someone out of control; someone who speaks or acts recklesslyLose It: To suddenly become unable to behave or think in a sensible wayLose One’s Touch: Suffer a decline in one’s skill at doing somethingLose Touch: To fall out of contactLose the Thread: Be unable to follow someone’s reasoningLove at First Sight: Falling in love with somebody the first time you see themLove Rat: Somebody who cheats on his/her partnerLove Someone With All of One’s Heart And Soul: To love someone completelyLower the Boom: Implement a punishment; reprimand severelyLow-Hanging Fruit: Easy parts of a task; solutions easy to obtain
English Idioms Examples with Idiom Meaning | Image 5
English Idioms (M)
List of common English idioms that start with M.
Mad As A Box Of (Soapy) Frogs: extremely mentally unstable; psychotic; detached from reality.Mad as A Hatter: Mentally ill, psychoticMain Squeeze: Committed romantic partnerMake a Break for It: Try to escape, run offMake a Mountain out of a Molehill: To take something too seriously; to make too much of somethingMake a Silk Purse out of a Sow’s Ear: Turn something ordinary or inferior into something refined and beautifulMake Ends Meet: Have enough money to cover basic expensesMake Hay (While the Sun Shines): To take advantage of an opportunity at the right time.Make Love: To have sexual intercourseMake Nice: Act cordial despite conflictMake One’s Mark: Attain influence or recognitionMake Someone’s Day: Do something pleasing that puts someone in a good moodMake Waves: Cause controversy, disturb a calm group dynamicMan Cave: A part of the house, often the basement, that is left to the man of the household, perhaps with a workshop, a television for watching sports, etc.March to the Beat of Your Own Drum: When someone does things the way they want to, without taking anybody else or anything else into consideration.Match Made in Heaven: A relationship in which the two people are great together, because they complement each other so wellMay-December (adj.): Significantly different in age. Said of couples where one member is much older. The most common usage is May-December romance.May-December Marriage: A marriage between a younger and an older partner, typically a young woman and an old man.Me Time: Activities undertaken for one’s own enjoyment, free from responsibilities to others.Meeting of the Minds: Strong instinctive agreement on somethingMend Fences: Improve relations after a disputeMind One’s P’s and Q’s: Be attentive to details; be on one’s best behaviorMiss the Boat: Be too late for something; miss an opportunityMonday Morning Quarterback: Someone who offers criticisms or comments after already knowing the outcome of somethingMonth of Sundays: A long time, many monthsMore Fun Than A Barrel of Monkeys: A very good time; a pleasant occasionMother Nature: The natural worldMove Heaven and Earth: Take all possible steps in trying to accomplish somethingMove the Needle: Have a measurable effect on somethingMove Up in the World: Become more successfulMovers and Shakers: Influential people, especially in a particular fieldMuch Of A Muchness: Essentially equal, not significantly different (said of a choice)Mum’s the Word: This is secret; don’t talk about this. Often used as an answer to a request not to talk about something.Music to My Ears: Good to hear; welcome newsMutton Dressed Up as Lamb: A woman who dresses in a style appropriate to someone of a younger ageMy Dogs Are Barking: My feet hurt.My Old Man, My Old Lady: My spouseMy Way or the Highway: If you do not do things the way I want or require, then you can just leave or not participate.
English Idioms (N)
List of common English idioms that start with N.
Nail-Biter: A suspenseful eventNailing Jelly/Jello/Pudding To A Wall/Tree: An impossible taskNeck and Neck: Very close in a competition, with neither of two entities clearly in the leadNeck of the Woods: A region, especially one’s home regionNest Egg: Retirement savings; wealth saved for a future purposeNever in A Million Years: Absolutely neverNever Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth: It’s rude to examine a gift closely; accept gifts politely.New Wrinkle: A novel aspect to a situation, a new developmentNice Chunk of Change: A large amount of moneyNickel and Dime: To negotiate over very small sums; to try to get a better financial deal, in a negative wayNine Times Out of Ten: Almost alwaysNine-to-Five Job: A routine job in an office that involves standard office hoursNip (Something) In The Bud: Deal with a problem before it becomes largeNo Holds Barred (usually adj., often hyphenated): Unrestricted, without rulesNo Love Lost Between: There is a mutual animosity between two peopleNo Names, No Pack Drill: By not accusing anyone specifically, I may avoid trouble.No Names, No Pack Drill: If no one can be identified, no one will be punished.No Rhyme or Reason (to): Without logic or patternNo Room to Swing A Cat: Very small, not big enoughNo Shit, Sherlock: That’s very obvious!No Tree Grows to the Sky: Growth cannot continue indefinitely.Not Cut Out for (Something): Not naturally skillful enough to do something wellNot Enough Room to Swing a Cat: A very small spaceNot Give A Fig: To not care at all about somethingNot Have A Cat In Hell’s Chance: Have no possibility of succeeding, coming to pass, or achieving somethingNot Have a Prayer: Have no chance of successNot Know Jack: Not know anythingNot Lift a Finger: Do nothing to helpNot Mince Words: Moderate or weaken a statementNot One’s Cup of Tea: Not something one is interested inNot Playing with A Full Deck: Stupid, mentally deficient or impairedNot Ready for Prime Time: Not yet perfected; inexperiencedNot Sit Well with (Someone): Be difficult to accept; make someone uncomfortableNothing to Write Home About: Unspectacular, ordinaryNuts and Bolts: Everyday details of somethingNutty as a Fruitcake: Crazy; idiotic; wacky.
List of common English idioms that start with O.
Off His Trolley: Crazy, insaneOff One’s Rocker: Crazy, nuts, insaneOff the Beaten Path: Remote; not a usual destination; not easily reachedOff the Hook: Free from blame or responsibility to do somethingOff the Top of My Head: Guessing or estimating without full informationOff the Wall: Odd, strange, unexpectedOld Flame: A former boyfriend or girlfriendOld Hat: Old-fashioned, predictableOld Man Winter: WinterOlive Branch: A peace offering, an attempt at reconciliation.On a Hiding to Nothing: Engaged in a futile task; attempting something impossibleOn a Lark: Spontaneously, on a whim, for funOn a Roll: Having a consistent run of successOn a Roll: Succeeding consistentlyOn a Wing and a Prayer: Relying solely on hope and enthusiasm in a difficult situationOn All Fours: You are down on your hands and knees.On Cloud Nine: Extremely happyOn Cloud Nine: Very happyOn Deck Next: having the next turnOn Life Support: Almost defunctOn Point: Good, well done, effectiveOn Steroids: In a very large formOn Tenterhooks: Tensely awaiting a decision or developmentOn the Back Foot: At a disadvantageOn the Ball: Prepared, alert, competentOn the Bubble: One of a group that may be selected for the last spot in a competitionOn the Dot: Exactly; at an expected intervalOn the Down Low (D.L.): SecretlyOn the Fence: Undecided between two choicesOn the Fly: While in motion, while travelingOn the Fritz: Not working properlyOn the Home Stretch: You are approaching the end of a task, a project, a race or a journey.On the Nose: Precisely, at an exact timeOn the Q.T.: Secretly, in confidenceOn the Radar: Evident as a possibilityOn the Right Track: Pursuing a correct course in doing or learning somethingOn the Same Page: Understanding a situation in the same wayOn the Spot: Immediately, with no intervening timeOn the spur of the moment: This popular saying denotes a spontaneous or sudden undertaking.On the Spur of the Moment: Without advance planning, spontaneouslyOn the Spur of the Moment: Without advance planning, spontaneouslyOn the Take: Regularly accepting bribesOn the Wagon: Not drinking alcoholic beverages; having given up drinking alcoholic beveragesOn the Warpath: Very angryOn Thin Ice: In a risky situation, especially in an interpersonal relationshipOnce Bitten, Twice Shy: Once one has had a bad experience with something, he or she will be reluctant to try it again.Once in a Blue Moon: Very rarelyOnce in a While: OccasionallyOne for the Road: A final drink (or something else) before leavingOne For the Road: Have a drink before leavingOne-Two Punch: A powerful sequence of two eventsOne-Trick Pony: Someone who has only a single talentOpen Season: A time when someone can be criticized or attacked without restriction.Open-and-Shut Case: A situation, especially a legal proceeding, with a clear, certain outcomeOr Else (by itself): Or I will do something terrible to you.Out in the Sticks: In a remote location; far from a cityOut of Left Field: Unexpected, random and oddOut of Line: Improper, behaving improperlyOut of Luck: Unlucky in a single instance; temporarily unfortunateOut of Nowhere: UnexpectedlyOut of Order: Not working properlyOut of Sight, Out of Mind: When you don’t see something or someone, you tend to forget about that thing or person.Out of Sorts: Slightly ill; not feeling wellOut of the Blue: UnexpectedlyOut of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire: One problem has been solved, but it’s been replaced by a worse one.Out of the Loop: Not part of a group that’s kept informed about somethingOut of the Picture: No longer under consideration; eliminated from a contestOut of the Way: 1) Not obstructing, not in the way; 2) Finished, taken care of; 3) in a remote locationOut of the Woods: No longer in dangerOut of This World: Fantastic, extraordinaryOut of Work: UnemployedOut the Door: With everything included (said of a price)Over My Dead Body: Under no circumstancesOver One’s Head: In a situation where one is overwhelmed with tasksOver the Hill: Past one’s primeOver the Moon: Extremely happy
List of common English idioms that start with P.
Pack Heat: Carry a gunPaddle One’s Own Canoe: To be able to act independently.Page-Turner: A page-turner is an exciting book that’s easy to read, a book that’s difficult to put down.Pain in the Ass; Pain in the Butt;Pain in the Neck: Someone or something making your life difficultPaint the Town Red: Go out drinking and partyingPar for the Course: What would normally be expected. This has a negative connotation.Pass the Buck: Transfer a problem to someone elsePass With Flying Colors: To succeed brilliantly, as on an exam or other testPassing Fancy: A temporary interest or attractionPay Through the Nose (For Something): Pay a large amount of moneyPeaches and Cream: A situation, process, etc., that has no trouble or problemsPecking Order: Hierarchy, rank of importancePencil Something In: Make tentative arrangementsPenny-Pinching: Frugal, avoiding expenses whenever possiblePep Talk: An encouraging speech given to a person or groupPerfect Storm: A rare combination of disastrous occurrencesPet Peeve: A small thing that you find particularly annoyingPick a Fight: Intentionally provoke a conflict or fight with someonePick Up the Slack: Do something that someone else is not doing; assume someone else’s responsibilitiesPick Up the Tab: To pay a bill presented to a group, especially in a restaurant or barPie in the Sky: Something that is unrealistic or that cannot be achievedPiece of Cake: Very easily donePin Someone Down: Demand a decision or clear answerPinch Pennies: To be careful with money, to be thrifyPink Slip: A layoff notice; loss of a job, typically because of layoffsPipe Dream: An unrealistic hope, a fantasyPiping Hot: Very hot (generally said of food)Pipped to the Post: Defeated by a narrow marginPissing Contest: A meaningless argument or competition, typically between malesPlay Ball: Cooperate, agree to participatePlay Cat And Mouse: Trying to trick someone into making a mistake so you can defeat them.Play Hardball: Adopt a tough negotiating position; act aggressivelyPlay it by Ear: To play a piece of music without referencing sheet music or a recordingPlay It by Ear: To respond to circumstances instead of having a fixed planPlay the Percentages: Bet on or rely on what is most likely to happenPlay the Ponies: Bet on horse racing.Play With Fire: Do something very riskyPlay Your Cards Right: Exploit a situation to your best advantagePoint of No Return: A place from which it is impossible to go back to the starting pointPoint the Finger At: Blame (someone)Point the Finger: At Blame (someone)Poison Pill (n): A provision or feature added to a measure or an entity to make it less attractive, an undesirable add-onPoison Pill: A provision or feature added to a measure or an entity to make it less attractive, an undesirable add-onPop One’s Clogs: To diePop One’s Cork: To release one’s anger; to blow one’s topPop the Question: Propose marriagePot Calling the Kettle Black: Accusing someone of something of which you are also guilty; being hypocriticalPour (Rub) Salt into (on) the Wound (an open wound): Worsen an insult or injury; make a bad situation worse for someonePowder Keg: An explosive situation, a situation in which people are angry and ready to be violentPowder Keg: An explosive situation, a situation in which people are angry and ready to be violentPowder One’s Nose: To use the restroom (lavatory). This is used by womenPreach to the Choir, Preach to the Converted: To make an argument with which your listeners already agreePreaching to the Choir: Making arguments to those who already agree with youPretty Penny: A lot of money; too much money (when referring to the cost of something)Price Yourself Out of the Market: Try to sell goods or services at such a high price that nobody buys them.Puddle Jumper: A small airplane, used on short tripsPull Out All the Stops: Do everything possible to accomplish somethingPull Strings: Use influence that’s based on personal connectionsPull the Plug On: Terminate (something)Pull Yourself Together: Control your emotions; recover from a strong emptional upsetPuppies And Rainbows: Perfect, ideal (usually used slightly sarcastically, in contrast with a less ideal situation)Puppy Dog Eyes: A begging lookPuppy Love: Adolescent love or infatuation, especially one that is not expected to lastPure as the Driven Snow: To be innocent and chaste (frequently used ironically)Push the Envelope: Go beyond common ways of doing something, be innovativePushing Up Daisies: DeadPushing Up Daisies: Dead and buriedPut a Thumb on the Scale: Try to influence a discussion in an unfair way, cheatPut Down Roots: Establish oneself in a place; settlePut in One’s Two Cents: Say your opinionPut Lipstick on a Pig: Make cosmetic changes to something badPut one’s Face On: Apply cosmeticsPut Out Feelers: Make discreet, informal suggestions, ask aroundPut Someone on the Spot: Force someone to answer a question or make a decision immediatelyPut That in Your Pipe and Smoke It: Accept and consider what I’m saying, even if you don’t like it!Put the Best Face On (Something): Emphasize the positive aspects of a bad situationPut the Brakes On: Slow something downPut the Cart Before The Horse: To do things in the wrong orderPut the Cart Before the Horse: To do things out of the proper order.Put the Cat Among The Pigeons: Say or do something that causes trouble or controversyPut the Genie Back in the Bottle: Try to suppress something that has already been revealed or donePut the Pedal to the Metal: Drive as fast as possiblePut Up with (Something): Tolerate, acceptPut Words Into Someone’s Mouth: Attributing an opinion to someone who has never stated that opinionPut Your Foot Down: Use your authority to stop negative behaviorPut Your Foot In Your Mouth: Say something that you immediately regretPut Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: Back up your opinions with a financial commitment
English Idioms Examples with Idiom Meaning | Image 6
List of common English idioms that start with Q.
Quake In One’s Boots: To be very frightenedQuarter Past: Fifteen minutes after the hourQuarter To/Of: Fifteen minutes before the hourQueer the Pitch: Interfere with someone’s plans; make something more difficultQuick as a Flash: Very fastQuick-and-Dirty: Approximate, hastily doneQuote Unquote: Ironically speaking; suggesting that if a phrase were written out, it would be in quotation marks to convey sarcasm
English Idioms (R)
List of commonly used English idioms that start with R.
Race Against Time: To rush to meet a deadline, to be forced to do something very quicklyRain Cats And Dogs: Rain heavilyRain Cats and Dogs: Rain very heavilyRain on Someone’s Parade: Spoil someone’s plansRaise (Someone’s) Hackles: Make someone angry and defensiveRaise One’s Voice: Talk loudlyRaise Red Flags: Warn of trouble aheadRaise the Bar: Increase standards in a certain competition or area of endeavorRaise the Roof: Make a great deal of noise (said of a crowd)Rake (Someone) Over the Coals: To scold someone severelyRake Over the Ashes: Restart a settled argument; examine a failureRake Someone Over the Coals: Scold severelyRank and File: The ordinary members of an organizationRead Between the Lines: Perceive what is not explicitly statedRead the Tea Leaves: Predict the future from small signsRear Its Ugly Head (said of a problem or something unpleasant): Appear, be revealedRearrange the Deck Chairs on the Titanic: Taking superficial actions while ignoring a much larger and perhaps fatal problemRed Flag: A warning; a sign of trouble aheadRed Herring: A misleading clue; something intended to misleadRed Meat: Political appeals designed to excite one’s core supporters; demagogueryRed Tape: Bureaucracy; difficult bureaucratic or governmental requirementsRed-Light District: A neighborhood with many houses of prostitutionReinvent the Wheel: Devise a solution to a problem for which a solution already existsRiding High: Enjoying successRight as Rain: Absolutely correctRight Under (One’s) Nose: In an obvious location, yet overlookedRight-Hand Man: Chief assistantRight-Hand Man: Chief assistantRing a Bell: Sound familiarRing a Bell: When something seems familiarRob Peter to Pay Paul: Pay off a debt with another loan; solve a problem in such a way that it leads to a new problemRob the Cradle: To be sexually or romantically involved with someone who is very youngRob the Cradle: To be sexually or romantically involved with someone who is very youngRock Bottom: An absolute low pointRock the Boat: Cause a disruption in a group. Often used in the negative: don’t rock the boat.Roll the Dice On: Take a riskRoll With the Punches: Deal with problems by being flexibleRome Wasn’t Built in a Day: Complex projects take timeRookie Mistake: An error made by an inexperienced personRotten to the Core: Entirely evilRub (Something) in Someone’s Face: Humiliate someone by repeating and criticizing his or her mistakeRub It In: Say something that makes someone feel even worse about a mistakeRub Someone’s Nose in (Something): Humiliate someone by repeating and criticizing his or her mistakeRubber-Stamp (v.): Approve something without consideration, as a formalityRule of Thumb: A general principle or guideline, not a specific formulaRun a Tight Ship: Manage an organization in a strict, well-regulated wayRun in the Family: Be inherited (as a trait) by multiple members of a familyRun in the Family: To be a common family characteristicRun into a Buzz: Saw Encounter severe and unexpected problemsRun into a Buzz: Saw Encounter severe and unexpected problemsRun off at the Mouth: Talk a lot about unimportant things, talk incoherentlyRun on Fumes: To be in a situation where one’s energy or resources is almost exhaustedRun Out of Steam: Lose momentum, become tiredRun the Table: Win every game or contest
English Idioms (S)
List of commonly used English idioms that start with S.
Sacred Cow: An indvidual or organization that one cannot criticizeSaving Grace: Something that redeems a bad situationScare the Living Daylights Out of Someone: Frighten someone severelyScorched Earth (Tactics, Policy, etc.): Ruthless, extremely destructiveScrew The Pooch: To make a serious errorSchool Of Hard Knocks: Difficult real-life experiences from which one has learnedSecond Banana: A person in a subservient positionSecond Stringer: A substitute player in a sport; a substitute for a job who is not the most talented personSecond Wind: Renewed energySee Eye to Eye: To concur, agreeSee Something Out of the Corner of Your Eye: Use peripheral visionSeize (Take) the Bull By the Horns: Attack a problem directlySeize the Day: Take an opportunitySell (Someone) a Bill of Goods: Trick someone; be deceptiveSell Like Hotcakes: Be sold very quicklySelling Point: An attractive feature of something for saleSet in Stone: Fixed; unchangeableSet something to Music: To write a piece of music to accompany a set of wordsSet the Bar (Too) High: To set a high standard for somethingSet the Thames on Fire: Do something amazing. Usually used in the negative.Set the World on Fire: Do something amazing; have a brilliant stretch in one’s careerShake the Dust off Your Shoes (Feet): Make a clean break with a relationship or situationShape Up or Ship Out: Behave properly or leave the organizationSharp as A Tack: Mentally agileShell Game: A method of deception in which you conceal your actions by moving something frequentlyShift Gears: Change the subject, or change what one is doingShipshape And Bristol Fashion: Tidy, cleanShit a Brick: Be extremely fearful.Shoot from the Hip: Talk or act without considerationShoot Off One’s Mouth: Talk without considering one’s wordsShoot Oneself In The Foot: Do something that damages oneself or one’s own causeShort Fuse: A quick temper; a tendency to anger quicklyShot Across the Bow: A warning of more serious actions to comeShoulder A Weight Off Your Shoulders: You no longer worry about something or deal with something difficultShow Me an X And I’ll Show You a Y: There is a consequence to X that you may not have thought of.Show One’s True Colors: Reveal one’s true natureShow Your Cards: Reveal your resources or plansSick and Tired of: Extremely annoyed by something that occurs repeatedlySick as a Dog: Extremely ill.Sick as a Parrot: Very disappointedSight for Sore Eyes: A sight that makes you happySilver Bullet: Something simple that resolves a difficult problemSimmer Down: Become less angry; regain one’s composureSink or Swim: Fail or succeedSing a Different Tune: Change your opinionSit On (Something): Delay revealing or acting on somethingSit Tight: Wait and do not go anywhereSitting Duck: Something or someone easily attacked or criticizedSitting Pretty: In a favorable situationSix Feet Under: Dead and buriedSix Feet Under: Dead and buriedSix of One, a Half Dozen of the Other: The two choices have no significant differences.Six Ways to (from) Sunday: In every possible waySlam Dunk: An effort that is certain to succeedSleep Like a Baby: To experience a very deep and restful sleep; to sleep soundlySleep with the Fishes: Dead, often by murderSlip Someone a Mickey: Add a drug to an alcoholic drink in order to knock someone outSlippery Slope: A series of undesirable effects that, one warns, could result from a certain actionSlower than Molasses: Exceptionally slow or sluggish; not fast at all.Small Beer: Unimportant, insignificantSmall Fry: People or organizations with little influence; childrenSmall Potatoes: Unimportant, insignificantSmell a Rat: Suspect deceptionSmoking Gun: indisputable evidence of a crimeSnafu: A malfunction; a chaotic situationSnake Oil: A useless medicine; a quack remedy; a product or measure promoted as a solution that really does nothing to helpSnake Oil: Medicine of unproven value; fraudulent medicineSneak Peek: A sneak peek is an opportunity to view something in advance of its official opening or debutSoak Up the Sun: To enjoy the sunSold On (Something): Convinced of somethingSome Eggs: Achieving a major goal requires the ability to tolerate some problemsSomeone’s Fingerprints Are All Over (Something): Someone’s influence is evidentSomething to Crow: About Something to be proud of, an accomplishment about which one is justified in braggingSon of a Gun: 1) A rogue. 2) An exclamation of surprise.Sore Point: A sensitive topic for a particular personSour Grapes: Disparagement of something that has proven unattainableSour Grapes: Spiteful disparagment of a goal one has failed to achieveSpare The Rod And Spoil The Child: It is necessary to physically punish children in order to raise them right.Speak of the Devil (and He Shall Appear): The person we have just been talking about has entered.Speak with A Plum in (one’s) Mouth: To speak in a manner that is indicative of a high social class.Spick and Span: Clean and neatSpill the Beans: Reveal a secretSpin A Yarn: Tell a storySpin One’s Wheels: Engaging in activity that yields no progress; getting nowhereSpit into The Wind: Wasting time on something futileSpoiling for a Fight: Combative, wanting conflict, eager to argue or fightSpoiling for a Fight: Combative, wanting conflict, eager to argue or fightSquare the Circle: Attempt an impossible taskStab Someone in the Back: To betray (somebody)Stalking Horse: Someone who tests a concept in advance of its application; a candidate who enters a political race in order to test the strength of the incumbentStand (Someone) In Good Stead: Be useful in the futureStand On One’s Own Two Feet: To be independent and self-sufficientStand One’s Ground: Refuse to back down; insist on one’s positionStart with a Clean Slate: To start (something) again with a fresh beginning; to work on a problem without thinking about what has been done beforeSteal Someone’s Thunder: Upstage someoneStem the Tide: To stop or control the growth of something, usually something unpleasant.Step Up One’s Game: Work to advance to a higher level of a competitionStep Up to the Plate: Prepare to take action, be the person in a group who takes actionStick It to the Man: Do something that frustrates those in authorityStick Your Nose into Something: Intrude into something that is not your affairSticker Shock: Surprise at the high price of somethingStick-in-the-Mud: A person who dislikes or adapts slowly to new ideasSticky Wicket: A difficult, tricky situationStiff-Necked: Stubborn; excessively formalStorm in a Teacup: A commotion that dies down quickly, about something unimportantStormy Relationship: Relationship that has a lot arguments and disagreementStumbling Block: An obstacle, physical or abstractStraight Arrow: An honest, trustworthy personStrain at a Gnat and Swallow a Camel: To make a fuss over something unimportant while ignoring larger issuesStrike A Chord: Used to describe something that is familiar to you, reminds you of something or is connected to you somehow.Sugar Daddy: A rich man who is generous with younger women in return for sexual favorsSure-Fire: Certain to occurSwan Song: A final appearanceSwan Song: This expression is used to describe a final act before dying or ending something.Sweep Under the Carpet: Attempt to temporarily conceal a problem or errorSweep Under the Rug: Attempt to temporarily conceal a problem or errorSweet Dreams!: Sleep well!Sweeten the Deal: Add something to an offer during a negotiationSweeten the Pot: Increase the amount of winnings potentially available in a game of chance, especially pokerSwim Against the Tide: Do something contrary to a trend or usual opinionSwim with Sharks: To take a major riskSwim with the Fishes: Have been killed, especially with involvement of organized crimeSwing for the Fences: Attempt to achieve the largest accomplishment possibleSwing for the Fences: Attempt to achieve the largest accomplishment possibleSword of Damocles: Something that causes a feeling of constant threat.
English Idioms (T)
List of useful English idioms that start with T.
Take (Someone) to the Cleaners: 1) Swindle; 2) defeat badlyTake a Deep Dive (Into): Explore something extensivelyTake a Flyer: To take a rise; especially to make a speculative investmentTake a Gander: Go to take a look at somethingTake a Hike: Go awayTake A Powder: To leave, especially in order to avoid a difficult situationTake a Rain Check: Decline an invitation but suggest that you’ll accept it at a later time.Take Five (Ten): Take a short break of five (ten) minutesTake Five: To take one brief (about five minutes) rest periodTake It Easy: 1) Relax, rest; 2) (as a command) Calm down!Take It Easy: Don’t hurry; relax; don’t get angryTake It Easy: When you relax, or do things at a comfortable pace, you take it easy.Take It on The Chin: Be attacked; suffer an attackTake It or Leave It (command): You must decide now whether you will accept this proposalTake Someone to Task: Reprimand someone stronglyTake Something with a Pinch (grain) of Salt: If you take what someone says with a pinch of salt, you do not completely believe it.Take the Cake: Be the most extreme instanceTake the Edge Off (of Something): To slightly improve something negativeTake the Fifth: Refuse to answer because answering might incriminate or cause problems for youTake the Gloves Off: Negotiate in a more aggressive wayTake the High Road: Refuse to descend to immoral activities or personal attacksTake The Mickey (Piss) (Out Of Someone): Make fun of or ridicule someoneTake the Shine Off (Something): To do something that diminishes a positive eventTake the Starch out of (Someone): Make someone less confident or less arrogantTake The Wind Out of Someone’s Sails: To reduce someone’s confidence, ofte by doing something unexpectedTake Your Life in Your Hands: Undergo extreme riskTake Your Medicine: Accept something unpleasant, for example, punishment, without protesting or complainingTake Your Time: Don’t hurry, work at a relaxed paceTaste of Your Own Medicine: The same unpleasant experience or treatment that one has given to othersTeach an Old Dog New Tricks: To change someone’s long-established habits. Usually used in the negative: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.Tear One’s Hair out: Be extremely worried or frustratedTear-Jerker: A film or book that makes you cryTee Many Martoonies: Too many martinis, scrambled to suggest drunkennessTell It to the Marines: I don’t believe you; you must think I’m gullible.Tempest in a Teapot: A commotion about something unimportantTen a Penny: Ordinary, inexpensiveTen to One: Something very likelyTest the Waters: Experiment with something cautiouslyTest the Waters: Try something out in a preliminary wayTie the Knot: Get marriedTighten the Screws: Increase pressure on someoneTight-Lipped: secretive, unwilling to explain somethingTil the Cows Come Home: For a very long timeTime is Money: time is valuable, so don’t waste it.Tip of the Iceberg: A small, visible part of a much larger problemTip One’s Hand: Reveal one’s advantages; reveal useful information that one possessesTLC: Tender Loving CareTo be A Peach: Someone or something that is extremely good, impressive, or attractiveTo be Smitten With Someone: To be completely captivated by someone and feel immense joyTo be someone’s One and Only: To be unique to the other personTo be the Apple of Someone’s Eye: To be loved and treasured by someoneTo Bear Fruit: To develop in a profitable or positive wayTo Bear Fruit: To develop in a profitable or positive wayTo Carpool: To travel to the same place with a group of people in one car. e.g. work/schoolTo Each His Own: People have different tastes.To Get Cold Feet: To experience reluctance or fearTo Have a Chip on One’s Shoulder: To be combative, to be consistently argumentativeTo Have Butterflies In Your Stomach: To be nervousTo Have One For the Road: To have one last (alcoholic) drink before you go homeTo Pay an Arm and a Leg: A very high costTo Pop (one’s) Cherry: To do something for the first timeTo Pull Someone’s Leg: Lie playfullyTo Run Hot and Cold: To be unable to make up one’s mindTo the Letter: Exactly (said of instructions or procedures)Toe the Line: Accept authority, follow the rulesTone-Deaf: Not good at perceiving the impact of one’s words, insensitiveTongue-in-Cheek: Said ironically; not meant to be taken seriouslyToo Busy Fighting Alligators to Drain the Swamp: So occupied with multiple challenges that one can’t keep the big picture in mindToo Many Cooks Spoil the Broth: A project works best if there is input from a limited number of peopleToo Many Chiefs and Not Enough Indians: Everyone wants to be a leader, and no one wants to do the actual workToo Many To Shake A Stick At: A large numberToot Your Own Horn: Brag; emphasize one’s own contributionsTop Banana: The boss, the leaderToss a Wrench (Spanner) Into: Sabotage; cause a process to stopTouch Base: Meet briefly with someoneTouch One’s Heart: Affect someone emotionally, be touchingTouch Water: Be launched. Said of a boat.Tough Cookie: A very determined personTough Cookie: Someone who can endure hardship; especially: a strong negotiatorTough Sledding: Difficult progressTurn a Blind Eye: (to) Choose not to notice somethingTurn on a Dime: Quickly reverse direction or positionTurn Someone Inside Out: To cause strong emotional turmoil; to completely change someoneTurn Something on Its Head: Reverse something, cause something to be done in a new wayTurn Turtle: Capsize, turn overTurn the Corner: To begin to improve after a problemTurn the Tables: Reverse a situationTurnabout Is Fair Play: If you suffer from the same suffering you have inflicted on others, that’s only fairTwenty-Four Seven: At any timeTwist the Knife (in Deeper): Make someone’s suffering worseTwist the Knife (in Deeper): Make someone’s suffering worseTwo a Penny: Ordinary, inexpensiveTwo Peas in A Pod: Two people who are very similar in appearanceThank God It’s Friday (TGIF): Let’s be happy that the workweek is over!That Ship Has Sailed: That opportunity has passed.That’s Music to My Ears: I am very happy to hear this.That’s a Stretch: What you are suggesting is very difficult to believe; I am very skepticalThat’s All She Wrote: That was the end of the story.The Apple Never Falls Far From the Tree: Family characteristics are usually inheritedThe Birds and the Bees: Human sexuality and reproductionThe Cat Is Out of the Bag: The secret has been revealed.The Coast Is Clear: We are unobserved; it is safe to proceed.The Cherry On the Cake: The final thing that makes something perfectThe Deck Is (The Cards Are): Stacked Against You Unfavorable conditions exist.The Jig Is Up: A secret illicit activity has been exposed; your trickery is finishedThe More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same: Although something may seem superficially new, it has not altered the basic situation.The Only Game in Town: The sole option for a particular service.The Powers That Be: People in charge, often used when the speaker does not want to identify them.The Real McCoy: A genuine itemThe Story Has Legs: People are continuing to pay attention to the story.The Time is Ripe: If you say that the time is ripe, you mean that it is a suitable point for a particular activityThe Walls Have Ears We: may be overheard; be careful what you sayThe Walls Have Ears: We may be overheard; be careful what you sayThe Whole Enchilada: All of something.The Whole Shebang: Everything, all the parts of somethingThe World Is Your Oyster: You have many opportunities and choices.There But For The Grace Of God Go I: I could easily have done what that person did.There’s More Than One Way to Skin a Cat: There’s more than one way of achieving a certain goal.There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch: Nothing is given to you without some expectation of something in return.Thin On The Ground: Rare, seldom encounteredThink Big: Consider ambitious plans; avoid becoming overly concerned with detailsThink Outside the Box: Try to solve a problem in an original way; think creativelyThink Tank: A group of experts engaged in ongoing studies of a particular subject; a policy study groupThink Tank: A group of experts engaged in ongoing studies of a particular subject; a policy study groupThird Rail: A topic so sensitive that it is dangerous to raise. This is especially used in political contextsThird Time’s a Charm: Even if you fail at something twice, you may well succeed the third time.Thirty-Thousand-Foot View: A very broad or general perspectiveThis Has (Person X) Written All Over It: [Person X] would really like or be well suited to this.This Is Not Your Father’s ____: This item has been much updated from its earlier versions.Three Sheets to the Wind: Very drunkThrough the Grapevine: Via gossipThrough Thick and Thin: In good times and badThrow a Wet Blanket on (Something): Discourage plans for somethingThrow a Wrench Into: To sabotage; to cause to failThrow Caution to the Wind: To act in a daring way, without forethoughThrow Down the Gauntlet: To issue a challengeThrow Elbows: Be combative; be aggressive (physically or figuratively)Throw in the Towel: To give up, admit defeatThrow Someone for a Loop: Deeply surprise someone; catch someone off guardThrow Someone Under the Bus: Sacrifice someone else’s interests for your own personal gainThrow the Baby Out with the Bath Water: Eliminate something good while discarding the bad parts of somethingThrow the Baby Out with the Bath Water: To discard something valuable or important while disposing of something worthlessThrow The Book At: Prosecute legally as strongly as possibleThrow the Fight: Intentionally lose a contest, usually in collusion with gamblersThrow the Game: Intentionally lose a contest, usually in collusion with gamblersThrow the Match: Intentionally lose a contest, usually in collusion with gamblersThumbs-Up: ApprovalTrain Wreck: Anything that develops in a disastrous wayTrash Talk: Insults directed at one’s opponent in a sporting event or contestTread Water: Maintain a current situation without improvement or declineTrial Balloon: A test of someone’s or the public’s reactionTrip the Light Fantastic: Dance well; do ballroom dancing
English Idioms (U)
List of useful English idioms that start with U.
U Turn: A complete change of opinion, direction, etc.Ugly Duckling: An awkward child or young person who grows into a beautiful personUnder (Below) the Radar: Not generally perceived, below popular consciousnessUnder Someone’s Spell: Fascinated, entranced by someoneUnder the Impression: Believing something, perhaps mistakenlyUnder the Table: Without being officially recordedUnder the Weather: Feeling illUnder the Weather: Not feeling wellUnder Wraps: Temporarily hidden, secretUniversity of Life: Difficult real-life experience, as opposed to formal educationUntil the Cows Come Home: For a long timeUntil You’re Blue in the Face: For a long time with no resultsUp a Creek: In a very bad situationUp for Grabs: AvailableUp for Grabs: Available for anyoneUp in Arms: Angry, protesting (usually said of a group)Up in the Air: Not yet decidedUp to One’s Neck: Nearly overwhelmedUp to Scratch: Meeting a basic standard of competence or qualityUp to Snuff: Meeting a basic standardUp the Ante: Raise the stakes; increase the importance of something under discussionUp the Duff: PregnantUpset the Apple Cart: To disorganize or spoil something, especially an established arrangement or planUse One’s Head: To think, to have common sense
List of useful English idioms that start with V.
Vale of Tears: The world in general, envisioned as a sad place; the tribulations of lifeVicious Circle: A situation in which an attempt to solve a problem makes the original problem worse.Victory Lap: Visible public appearances after a victory or accomplishmentVirgin Territory: Something that has never been explored, physically or intellectuallyVote with One’s Feet: To physically depart from something as a way of showing disapproval
List of useful English idioms that start with W.
Waiting in the Wings: Ready to assume responsibilities but not yet active, ready to become a successorWaka-Jumping: Change political parties (said of politicians themselves)Wake Up and Smell the Coffee: Stop deluding yourselfWake Up on the Wrong Side of the Bed: Be grumpy or ill-humored. Generally used in past tenseWalk on Eggshells: To have to act very sensitively in order to avoid offending someoneWalk the Plank: Be forced to resign a positionWandering Eye: A tendency to look at and desire women or men other than one’s committed romantic partnerWandering Eye: A tendency to look at and desire women or men other than one’s committed romantic partnerWash Your Hands of (Something): Decline to take further responsibility; refuse to be involved with something anymoreWater Under the Bridge: Something in the past that’s no longer worth worrying aboutWatering Hole: A place where alcoholic beverages are served, a barWeekend Warrior: Someone who has an office job but enjoys contact sports on weekends; a member of a military reserve force (whose exercises are typically on weekends)We’ll Cross That Bridge: When We Come to It We’ll deal with that problem if and when it comes upWelsh (Welch) on a Deal: Not observe the terms of an agreementWet Behind the Ears: inexperienced, immature, new to somethingWet Behind the Ears: Inexperienced, immature, new to somethingWet Blanket: Someone who dampens a festive occasionWet Your Whistle: Drink somethingWhat Do You Make of (Him)?: What is your evaluation of this person?What Goes Around Comes Around: The kind of treatment you give to others will eventually return to you; things go in cyclesWhat’s Good for the Goose Is Good for the Gander: What’s OK for a man is OK for a woman, tooWhen Hell Freezes Over: NeverWhen In Doubt, Leave It Out: When unsure about something, omit it.When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do: When you visit a new place, follow the customs of the people thereWhen It Rains, It Pours: Problems tend to come in groups.When Pigs Fly: NeverWhen the Chips Are Down: When a situation becomes urgent or difficultWhere (When) the Rubber: Meets the Road In reality; where an idea meets a real-world testWhere There’s a Will, There’s a Way: If you have a strong desire to accomplish something, you will achieve it even in the face of considerable odds.Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire: If there is typical evidence of something, the most likely explanation is that it is actually occurring.Whisper Sweet Nothings (in Someone’s Ear): Speak meaningless romantic utterancesWhistle in the Dark: To be unrealistically confident or brave; to talk about something of which one has little knowledgeWhistle Past the Graveyard: Remain optimistic despite dangers; be cluelessWhistling Dixie: Being unrealistically optimisticWhite Elephant: An unwanted item that is difficult to sell or dispose ofWho’s She, the Cat’s Mother?: Why does she have such a high opinion of herself?Wild Goose Chase: An impossible or futile search or taskWindow Dressing: A misleading disguise intended to present a favorable impressionWindow Shop: To look at merchandise in a store without intending to buy itWitch Hunt: An organized attempt to persecute an unpopular group of people and blame them for a problem.With Bells On: Eagerly, willingly, and on time.Work One’s Fingers to the Bone: Work very hard over an extended periodWorn to a Frazzle: Exhausted, completely worn outWouldn’t Be Caught Dead: Would absolutely not allow myself to do thisWriting (Handwriting) on the Wall: Hints of coming disaster
English Idioms (Y)
List of useful English idioms that start with Y.
Year In, Year Out: Annually without changeYou Can Lead a Horse to Water, but You Can’t Make It Drink: It’s very hard to force someone to do something against his or her will.You Can Say That Again!: I agree totally!You Can Take It to the Bank: I absolutely guarantee thisYou Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover: You can’t know people (or things) well by their external appearances.You Can’t Make an Omelet (Omelette): Without BreakingYou Can’t Make Fish of One and Fowl of the Other: People must be treated equally.You Know the Drill: You are already familiar with the procedure.You Snooze, You Lose: If you delay or are not alert, you will miss opportunitiesYoung at Heart: Having a youthful outlook, regardless of ageYour Guess Is as Good as Mine: I don’t know; I have no ideaYour Mileage May Vary: You may get different results. This does not necessarily refer to a car, although it may.Your Number Is Up: You are going to die (or suffer some bad misfortune or setback)You’re Driving Me Nuts: To make someone giddy or crazyYours Truly: Me
English Idioms (Z)
List of useful English idioms that start with Z.
Zero In On: Focus closely on something; take aim at somethingZig When One Should Be Zagging: To make an error; to choose an incorrect courseZip One’s Lip: Be quiet
List of idioms by different topics with meaning and example sentences.
Health Idioms Examples
List of health idiom example sentences with idiom meaning.
- My grandfather was as pale as a ghost (extremely pale) when he entered the hospital.
- The sales manager was at death’s door (very near death) after his heart attack.
- My mother is back on her feet (healthy again) after being sick for two weeks.
- I have been feeling on top of the world (feel very healthy) since I quit my job.
- I’m going under the knife (undergo surgery) next month to try to solve my knee problems. Hope it helps!
- My colleague was looking a little green around the gills (sick) when he came to work today.
- My uncle is very sick and has one foot in the grave (near death).
- Did you have a good vacation? – Not really. I was sick as a dog (extremely ill) the whole time.
- My boss has been under the weather (not feeling well) all week and has not come to work during that time.
Clothes Idioms Examples
List of clothing idiom example sentences with idiom meaning.
- A few years ago Uggs were all the rage (very fashionable), but now you don’t see them so much.
- Jacob is unpredictable. He won’t leave the office for weeks, but then he’ll take off for New York at the drop of a hat (suddenly).
- Wait until you try the new Yamaha scooters. They’ll knock your socks off! (amaze you)
- The carmaker’s sales declined because many consumers found their designs old hat (old-fashioned).
Sports Idioms Examples
List of sport idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- A ballpark figure (a rough estimate) for the cost of the new stadium would be $150,000,000.
- Francesca hit it out of the park (succeed brilliantly) with her speech today. It was fabulous.
- Madrid won most of our matches during the season, but we kicked ass (defeat badly) in the playoffs.
- I’ll call you back in an hour. The speaker is almost finished, and I’m on deck (next).
- I thought I was totally exhausted after mile nine of the race. But then I got my second wind (renewed energy).
- I’ve helped him as much as I can in that class. Now he’s going to have to sink or swim (fail or succeed).
- Maybe you could take a hike (go away) while we discuss salaries.
- After losing his queen, the chess player threw in the towel (give up) and resigned.
- Our competitor’s model dominates the market, so ours is facing tough sledding (difficult progress).
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Music Idioms Examples
List of music idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- Can you guys please be quiet? Your chin music (meaningless talk) is distracting me from my work.
- News of the new president was music to my ears (good to hear) – she’s terrific.
- You may say you’re in love with your boyfriend, but you’ll be singing a different tune (change your opinion) when you find out what he’s been up to.
- If you think you can get a ticket for under $200 at Christmastime, you’re whistling Dixie (unrealistically optimistic).
Time Idioms Examples
List of time idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- The restaurant is open around the clock (at all times).
- Blackberry phones used to be extremely popular, but now many people think they’re behind the times (old-fashioned).
- The boxer is ready to call time (end) on his long career.
- You all look tired. Let’s call it a day (stop working).
- Teamwork and training will carry the day (successful).
- Your days are numbered (will die soon) if you keep driving while drunk.
- I’d buy that car in a New York minute (very quickly) if I had the money.
- I had a beautiful family, a nice home, and lots of money. And then, in the blink of an eye (instantaneously), it was all gone.
- Kevin says he was completely in the dark (unaware) about the CEO’s plans to sell the company.
- We were going to leave without you, but you got here just in the nick of time (just in time).
- I’m glad you dropped by! It’s been a month of Sundays (a long time) since I saw you last.
- When I said I would move to New York, she offered me the job on the spot (immediately).
- Once in a blue moon (very rarely) you see the Aurora here, but it’s not like farther north.
- I don’t want to live in the city, but I enjoy visiting once in a while (occasionally).
- We should seize the day (take an opportunity) while prices are low. That won’t last forever.
- Take your time (don’t hurry) on the exam. You don’t get a bonus for finishing quickly.
- If you have problems, call me twenty-four seven (at any time); it doesn’t matter if I’m sleeping.
- Our holiday party is such a bore. Year in, year out (annually without change) the owner makes the same dumb jokes.
Number Idioms Examples
List of number idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- I have a million and one (many) ideas.
- He got home from the party all in one piece (safely).
- The project failed, we’re back to square one (back to the start).
- I’ve been in seventh heaven (extremely happy) ever since I got engaged!
- You don’t have to do this totally by the book (follow instructions exactly).
- I can’t drive, I had one too many (drink too much alcohol).
- Never in a million years (absolutely never) did I think that I would actually win the lottery!
- Nine times out of ten (almost always) your first choice turns out to be the right one.
- I wouldn’t want a nine-to-five job (a routine job).
- When my mom bought me a computer, I was on cloud nine (very happy).
- I put in my two cents (say your opinion) at the meeting.
- Ten to one (very likely) I’m going to win.
- I can try, but completing the whole ad campaign by the end of the month is a tall order (a difficult task).
- The runner was far ahead for most of the race, but at the end she won only by a whisker (a very short distance).
Travel & Transport Idioms Examples
List of travel idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- I’m not really part of your group. If I come to the party I’ll just be a fifth wheel (a superfluous person).
- We better hit the road (leave) before traffic get seven worse.
- New Year’s Eve is just around the corner (occurring soon). Have you made party plans yet?
- My brother just spent a lot of money on really questionable stocks. I think he’s off his trolley (insane).
- I’ll eat dinner on the fly (while traveling) and meet you at 8.
- It’s too late for you to ask her to marry you – she’s involved with someone else now. That ship has sailed (that opportunity has passed).
Car & Driving Idioms Examples
List of car idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- Higher coal prices put the brakes on (slow down) industrial activities in the second quarter.
- I’m late for my best friend’s wedding. Put the pedal to the metal! (drive as fast as possible)
- After work I drove home hell for leather (very fast), but I still missed my daughter’s birthday party.
- It will take time to get the final cost, but a quick-and-dirty (approximate) estimate would be $45,000.
- I’ll have the order done quick as a flash (very fast) – probably by the time you get back to your office.
Technology Idioms Examples
List of technology idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- Sure, come into the office, and we can get the documents you need chop chop (Quickly).
- We’re going to pull the plug on (terminate) our operation in Taiwan. It’s just not succeeding.
- Passing this quiz will be like shooting fish in a barrel (very easy). I’ve studied a lot.
- Jim is a straight arrow (an honest, trustworthy person).
Home Idioms Examples
List of home idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- I’ve locked the door. They’re as safe as houses (very safe).
- She said he’s out of the house of correction (prison).
- After struggling with my homework, I finally threw in the towel (give up) and went to bed.
- That’s a worthless investment. He’s throwing his money down the drain (waste money).
- When I found out Tom crashed my car, I hit the roof (become very angry).
- Jeff smokes like a chimney (smoke a lot). I worry about his health.
- His diet went out the window (disappear) during the holidays.
- Please come in and make yourself at home (make yourself comfortable).
- Cutting-edge (innovative) musical styles often originate in Britain.
- There are just a few difficulties to iron out (resolve), and then we’ll be ready to sign the contract.
Plant Idioms Examples
List of plant idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- You’re going to jump down from that ledge? Are you out of your gourd? (crazy)
- Life isn’t always going to be a bed of roses (comfortable situation). You have to learn to deal with adversity.
- There are a few problems with the new website, but they don’t amount to a hill of beans (unimportant). We did it!
- As anyone who has experienced a hurricane knows, Mother Nature (the natural world) can be a frightening force.
- I’ll be pushing up daisies (dead) before my daughter decides to get married.
- I heard through the grapevine (via gossip) that Ivan and Amber are going out. Is it true?
- Two years ago we had the field to ourselves with this project. Now there are too many competitors to shake a stick at (a large number).
Weather Idioms Examples
List of weather idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- It’ll be a cold day in July (never happen) when our team wins the championship. We’re terrible.
- If you think I’m going to climb that rickety ladder, you’re all wet! (completely mistaken!)
- I stayed up all night studying for that exam, and then it turned out to be a breeze! (very easy!)
- Come hell or high water (no matter what happens), we will be in New York for the meeting tomorrow morning.
- I listen to the music every day, come rain or shine (do regularly).
- Let’s come back soon before the heavens open! (start to rain heavily)
- I made a huge mistake. I stayed up all night studying, and I was in a fog (confused) when it came time to start the exam.
- Old Man Winter (Winter) is hanging around this year-it’s the middle of March, and we still have a lot of snow.
- Cindy was on cloud nine (extremely happy) after her boyfriend proposed to her.
- It’s been raining cats and dogs (rain heavily) all day. I’m afraid the roof is going to leak.
- Once again, John is right as rain (absolutely correct). We should sell the Chicago office building.
- I’m sorry to rain on your parade (spoil someone’s plans), but the park is closed tomorrow, so we can’t have our picnic there.
- Let’s go out and soak up some sun (enjoy the sun).
- If you keep asking him about his ex-girlfriend, you’ll be on thin ice (in a risky situation).
- Tom stole cameras when he worked here. I’ll hire him back when hell freezes over (never).
Appearance Idioms Examples
List of appearance idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- She’s no spring chicken (young), but she’s still very good looking.
- She’s a dead ringer (similar in appearance) for her older sister.
- When Samantha was in her teens she looked ordinary, but in her early 20s she turned into a real knockout! (an extremely beautiful woman).
- Let me just put my face on (apply cosmetics), and I’ll meet you at the restaurant in 15 minutes.
People Idioms Examples
List of people idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- He never made a will, to the best of my knowledge (as far as you know).
- Don’t lend her money. I trust her about as far as I can throw (only slightly) her.
- My grandmother is 92 years old, but she’s still sharp as a tack (mentally agile).
- I’d tell you if you were going around the bend (crazy).
Daily Routines Idioms Examples
List of daily activities idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- OK, I’ll come to the party Friday. But Saturday it’ll be time to hit the books (study).
- I have to get up at 5 tomorrow morning. It’s time to hit the hay (go to bed).
- I’ll be out of town this weekend, but I’ll be in touch (in contact) when I get back Sunday night.
- Social media are great for finding old friends with whom you’ve lost touch (fall out of contact).
- You’re playing with fire (very risky) if you keep driving that car-the floor under the seat is almost completely rusted out.
- The name Susan Thompson rings a bell (sound familiar). I think she worked here-let me look it up.
Social Life Idioms Examples
List of social life idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- I was just making a suggestion. Don’t get all bent out of shape (become angry) out it.
- I’d better work late at the office – my husband is on the warpath (very angry) because I put a big scratch in his new car.
- Sophia acted like she was my friend. But then she stabbed me in the back (betray) and went out with my boyfriend.
- Bob is a 110-proof (very strong) Conservative – I’ve never seen him vote for a Labor candidate.
- The beer market used to be controlled by large companies, but now many small firms are producing the amber nectar (beer).
- Don’t bother Joseph when he’s in his cups (drunk) – he’s very irritable.
- Give me a beer. I’m having one for the road (a final drink before leaving).
- I just finished my last exam. Let’s go out and paint the town red! (go out drinking and partying).
- You’ve been out in the sun for two hours. Come on in and wet your whistle! (drink something).
- The new engine design is our ace in the hole (a hidden advantage) – but we have to keep it secret from our competitors.
- I don’t think a recession is in the cards (likely) this year. Consumer confidence is very strong.
- I’m going to roll the dice on (take a risk) the plant renovation. If the market collapses we’ll be in trouble, but I think it’s needed.
- I like to go out to the bars with John-he’s a real babe magnet (a man to whom women are attracted), so I get to meet lots of women too.
Happy Idioms Examples
List of happy idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- I always have so much fun when Katie’s around—she’s a barrel of laughs! (funny).
- You look full of the joys of spring (very happy, full of energy) this morning.
- The kids really had a ball (have a very enjoyable time) at the birthday party—they won’t stop talking about it!
- We had a whale of a time (enjoy very much) on holiday.
- Come on, Jim, this is a party! Let your hair down (relax and enjoy) and go a little wild!
- The circus was more fun than a barrel of monkeys (a very good time).
- It’s nice to slow down at the week-end and take it easy (relax).
Crazy Idioms Examples
List of crazy idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- I think he’ll blow his top (lose his temper) when you give him the news.
- When I saw the look on Sarah’s face, I just know she’d blow up (explode).
- July will go ape (wild excitement or anger) if she ever hears about it.
- Mom will freak out (a wildly irrational reaction) when she found out we broke her vase!
- My parents went totally ballistic (fly into a rage) when they found out I’d wrecked the car!
- She went berserk (go crazy) and strangled her cat.
- I’ll end up going bananas (irrational or crazy) if I have to work in this cubicle for one more day!
- My parents are going to go mental (extremely angry) if they find out we had a party here!
- The noise caused all the neighbors to go nuts (become crazy).
- My parents are going to hit the roof (very angry) if they find out we had a party here!
Love Idioms Examples
List of love idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- I didn’t know Chris and Sue were an item (having a romantic relationship). They didn’t even look at each other at dinner.
- Have you heard? Sophia and Joseph have split up (end a relationship).
- I think I’m falling in love (start feeling love) with my best friend. What should I do?
- Don’t be angry! Yes, I was talking to that other girl, but you know you’re my main squeeze!( committed romantic partner).
- An old flame (a former boyfriend or girlfriend) has come back into my life. I’m seeing her tomorrow night.
- When are you and Jenny going to tie the knot (get married)? – This year, but we haven’t set a date yet.
Feeling Idioms Examples
List of emotion idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- Yoga pants are all the rage (very much in fashion) in North America right now, but in two years probably nobody will be wearing them.
- Sure, you can invest a little money, but don’t get carried away (overly enthusiastic) – people lose lots of money on the stock market.
- John’s suggestions in the meeting were ridiculous. Sometimes I think he’s not playing with a full deck (stupid).
- Sorry I was so quiet during the meeting. I’ve been out of sorts (slightly ill ) all day.
- Have you heard Dmitri is going to try to climb Mt. Rinjani in the rainy season? He must be off his rocker (crazy, insane).
- John is on the ball (competent, alert). I think we can leave the office under his supervision for a few days.
- Gerald used to be one of the most logical people I know. Now he’s mad as a hatter (mentally ill).
- You’ve been down in the dumps (depressed) all week. Let’s go to the football game – that’ll cheer you up.
- Fans are cock-a-hoop (excited) about the team’s acquisition of the new striker.
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Food Idioms Examples
List of food idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- The problem of how to motivate employees can be a tough nut to crack (a difficult problem) sometimes.
- Fred had egg on his face (embarrassed) after claiming he could climb the tree but then having to give up.
- James will tell you all about his adventures in Africa, but take it with a grain of salt (be skeptical).
- My new girlfriend is very intelligent. That she’s beautiful is just icing on the cake! (a bonus).
- I can’t help you with your presentation right now. I have bigger fish to fry (have more important things to do).
- I just have a lot on my plate (a lot to do) right now while I’m finishing up my degree and doing this huge project for work.
- I wouldn’t go out with him for all the tea in China! (great wealth).
- James is a bad egg (not to be trusted). Don’t trust him.
- Have you tried the new iPhone? It’s the greatest thing since sliced bread (an innovative development).
- My husband may not be the world’s most glamorous guy, but he brings home the bacon (earn money for the family).
- Amazon started out as a bookseller, but now they offer everything from soup to nuts (everything).
- We went to Mark’s Midtown for lunch. I had a grilled chicken sandwich, and it really hit the spot (very satisfying).
- You should apply to the university now. There are lots of reasons, but in a nutshell, it will end up costing
- I’m really in a pickle (in need of help). I spent all the money I had saved, and I have no way to pay next semester’s tuition bill.
- The kids are always nutty as fruitcakes (crazy) when they’ve had something sugary to eat.
- I’ve already done the difficult parts – finishing the presentation tonight will be a piece of cake (easily done).
- Nothing tastes better than fresh cinnamon rolls, served piping hot (very hot).
- Sam is rotten to the core (entirely evil). He steals, he lies, he’s violent. I’m glad he’s in prison.
- The new Honda is expected to sell like hotcakes (sold very quickly) after it’s released.
- We’re wasting our time on small potatoes (unimportant). Let’s get to the big news that made us have this meeting.
- We had planned this to be a surprise party for you, but Jason spilled the beans (reveal a secret).
- Our principal was a little lady, but she was one tough cookie! (a very determined person).
Fruit Idioms Examples
List of fruit idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- You only get a bite at the cherry (good opportunity) in life.
- Her cheeks were as red as a cherry (very red).
- Baseball is as American as apple pie (typically American).
- Tom is really a bad apple (a trouble making or dishonest person).
- Only the top banana (boss, leader) can make a decision of that magnitude.
- Sarah’s surprise party went pear-shaped (fail) once she accidentally found out about it.
- Do whatever you want, I do not give a fig (not care).
Dog Idioms Examples
List of dog idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- Every man and his dog (many people) wanted to interview me after I on the race.
- Those two fight like cat and dog (continually arguing with each other), so please don’t put them together on the project.
- I’ll be right back-I’ve got to go see a man about a dog (go to the bathroom).
- This has always been a nice hotel, but it’s going to the dogs (become disordered).
- At first my marriage was all puppies and rainbows (perfect), but then reality set in.
- I try to be strict with my daughter, but when she looks at me with those puppy dog eyes (a begging look), I buy her candy.
Cat Idioms Examples
List of cat idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- I’m going to try to squeeze in a cat nap (short sleep during the day) before my next shift starts, or else I’ll be feeling sluggish for the entire evening.
- Who will bell the cat (a difficult or impossible task) and take on the job of reducing corruption in this country?
- She’s waiting for the doctor to call with her test results, so she’s been like a cat on a hot tin roof all day (extremely nervous).
- Inside, there is no room to swing a cat (very small), and everything you see is the most basic junk.
Animal Idioms Examples
List of animals idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- Talk to Jon. He’s the big fish (important person) in the organization. He can help you get things done.
- Picking out this item or that for criticism seems unsportsmanlike, like shooting fish in a barrel (very easy).
- That’s just a fish story (a big lie). Don’t try to fool me.
- This game will be the quarterback’s swan song (a final appearance) – he’s retiring after this season.
- I was sick as a parrot (very disappointed) after Man United lost last night.
- I almost didn’t go on stage and perform tonight because I had butterflies in my stomach (nervous).
- I think this is a wild goose chase (an impossible task). This library doesn’t have the books we need.
- Glen is a lone wolf (not social) and seldom joins in the activities of the neightbourhood.
- When we got married, we were both poor as a church mouse (very poor) and we had to live with my husband’s parents.
- What happened when I asked for comments? Crickets (silence). So I assume you’re all satisfied with the proposal.
- My eagle-eyed (sharp vision) sister spotted the car in the parking lot before anyone else did.
- You’d better pay him more, or one day you’ll come to the office and find that he flew the coop (left).
- I’m afraid that if we don’t reduce staff, we’ll go belly up (go bankrupt) within a year.
- If you want to reach the island with the treasure, you’ve got to swim with sharks (take a major risk) for a while.
- You’re only 22-the world is your oyster (have many opportunities). Don’t feel you have to get married now.
- It may be very crowded in there. I’ll go and take a gander (take a look), and then I’ll send you a text message.
- If you wait for Jeb to finish his part of the project, you’ll be waiting till the cows come home (a long time).
- Sure, I’ll go out with Cynthia again. When pigs fly (never).
Family Idioms Examples
List of family idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- I have a bun in the oven (pregnant) again! Sophia will have a baby sister.
- Children will be admitted to the concert, but sorry, no babes in arms (a baby being carried).
- After learning to drive a stick shift, driving with an automatic transmission is child’s play (a very easy task).
- The poor baby has a face only a mother could love (a very ugly face).
- Big Brother (Government) seems to grow more and more powerful as data about individuals is accumulated on social networks.
- Just enter the update code, register the new software, and Bob’s your uncle (you’re almost finished).
- When you go on a trip, it’s important to buy souvenirs for your kith and kin (family) back home.
- Just watch. Getting her to go out with me will be like taking candy from a baby (very easy).
- I bought a ring, and I’m ready to pop the question (propose marriage) to Sophia.
- They hadn’t planned to get married, but Sophia found out she was up the duff (pregnant).
Body Idioms Examples
List of body idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- You shouldn’t buy a new car until you’ve paid off the debt from your student loan. Use your head! (think).
- It’s too bad you didn’t get the job, but keep your chin up (cheer up) – another one will come along.
- OK, I’ll tell you the secret about Cynthia, but zip your lip about it! (be quiet).
- The presentation will begin at 8 on the nose (precisely). Don’t miss it.
- The team was all eyes and ears (attentive) as the coach explained the challenges ahead.
- I don’t see eye to eye (agree) with Frances on the workflow, but she’s the boss.
- I know John is bad for me, but when I get a look at his baby blues (blue eyes) I can’t resist him.
- Why did you delete the file I was working on? I’m all ears (Listening willingly).
- Lend an ear (Listen), and I’ll tell you what people said at the meeting yesterday.
- This is especially used in hypothetical situations. If Joe asked me, I’d marry him in a heart beat! ( immediately).
- I like to keep my vocabulary at hand (nearby).
- Are there enough people on hand (available) to hold a meeting?
- Employee absenteeism has gotten out of hand (out of control).
- She’ll give you the name of a place to stay – she knows the area like the back of her hand (very well).
- Could you lend me a hand (help) with this piano?
- Tom was hands-down (obviously) the best student at the university.
- Shareholders pointed the finger at (blame) the board of directors for the losses, and voted most of them out.
- The exam’s at two. Will you keep your fingers crossed (wish for good luck) for me?
- We agreed we’d meet at the mall at 3. But you left me cooling my heels (wait) for two whole hours.
- Don’t trust Jack around your expensive glassware – he’s all thumbs (clumsy).
- It really pleased me that the boss gave me a thumbs-up (approval) on my presentation.
- I worry about my son. He’s smart enough to succeed, but he doesn’t have the fire in the belly (strong ambition).
- There I was, in my birthday suit (nakedness), when the doorbell rang.
- Three months ago Jack seemed to be at death’s door, but now he’s fit as a fiddle (in very good health) What happened?
- If you’re on a long drive, it’s helpful to stop and take forty winks (a short nap) every few hours if you can.
Business Idioms Examples
List of business idiom examples with idiom meaning.
- At first I wasn’t ready to accept your offer for the house. But you drive a hard bargain (negotiate effectively).
- Jennifer’s presentation was on point (well done) – concise, relevant, and accurate.
- The election is up for grabs (available). Everything is still very chancy.
- The salary increase is still up in the air (not yet decided) – the boss favors it, but she hasn’t gotten approval from her superiors.
- Sophia is in hot water (in trouble) with her department manager after she blew that sales presentation.
- I’ll be burning the midnight oil (working late ) tonight, but I guarantee I’ll finish the paper before class tomorrow at 9.
- I’ve been out of work (unemployed) since December. Hope I find a new job soon!
Common English Idioms | Images
List of English Idioms with Their Meanings | Image 1
Useful List of English Idioms with Their Meanings | Image 2
List of Common English Idioms with Their Meanings | Image 3
Common English Idioms List with Meaning | Image 4
Common English Idioms List with Meaning | Image 5
English Idioms Examples with Idiom Meaning | Image 7
Useful English Idioms Examples with Idiom Meaning | Image 8
English Idioms Examples with Idiom Meaning | Image 9
English Idioms Videos