Animal Idioms: 165 Useful Animal Idioms from A-Z

Last Updated on November 22, 2023

Animal idioms have the power to convey complex ideas succinctly and memorably. Through these idioms, we connect with nature and the characteristics of these animals, attributing human emotions and actions to our furry, scaled, or feathered friends in a way that everyone can instantly understand.

List of Animal Idioms in English

List of commonly used animal idioms and sayings from A to Z.

  • Different Kettle of Fish
  • Leopard Can’t Change Its Spots
  • (Bird in a) Gilded (Golden) Cage
  • (Don’t) Have a Cow
  • (Go) Hog Wild
  • (Have a) Kangaroo Loose In The Top Paddock
  • (His) Bark Is Worse Than His Bite
  • (Like) Herding Cats
  • (Like) Tits on a Bull, As Useless as Tits on a Bull
  • (On a) Fishing Expedition
  • (Open Up a) Can of Worms, A Whole New Can of Worms
  • (Play) Whack-a-Mole
  • (Someone’s) Goose Is Cooked
  • (Straight From the) Horse’s Mouth
  • (That’s the) Nature of the Beast
  • (The) Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back
  • (The) Tail That Wags the Dog
  • (The) Worm Has Turned
  • (There’s) More Than One Way to Skin A Cat
  • (To Be a) Fly on the Wall
  • (To Have a) Bee In One’s Bonnet
  • (To Have the) Bit Between One’s Teeth
  • (To Put the) Cat Among(st) the Pigeons
  • (To) Beat a Dead Horse
  • 800-Pound Gorilla
  • A busy bee

Useful Animal Idioms in English | Image 1

Animal Idioms in EnglishPin

  • A cat has nine lives
  • A cat in gloves catches no mice
  • A cat nap
  • A cold fish
  • A dog in the manger
  • A guinea pig
  • A home bird
  • A lame duck
  • A Little Bird Told Me
  • A lone wolf
  • A rare bird
  • A scaredy-cat
  • A sitting duck
  • Albatross Around One’s Neck
  • All Bark And No Bite
  • All Hat And No Cattle
  • Ants In Your Pants
  • As Poor as a Church Mouse
  • Back the Wrong Horse
  • Bark up the Wrong Tree
  • Bee in one’s bonnet
  • Bell the Cat
  • Big Fish
  • Birds of a Feather
  • Bird’s-Eye View
  • Bite the Hand That Feeds You
  • Black Sheep
  • Blow the Cobwebs Away (or Out of Something)
  • Bull in a China Shop
  • Buy a Pig in a Poke
  • Can’t Swing A Dead Cat In (Place) Without Hitting A (Thing)
  • Cat Fight
  • Cat Got Your Tongue?
  • Cat on a hot tin roof
  • Cat-and-Mouse (adj.)
  • Cat’s Paw
  • Change Horses in Midstream
  • Chickens Come Home To Roost
  • Chomp (Champ) at the Bit
  • Clip Someone’s Wings
  • Cock and Bull Story
  • Cool cat
  • Crickets
  • Cry Wolf (verb)
  • Curiosity Killed The Cat
  • Dark Horse
  • Dead as the Dodo
  • Dog in the Manger
  • Dog-and-Pony Show
  • Dog-Eat-Dog
  • Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth
  • Drain the Lizard
  • Eager beaver
  • Eagle-Eyed
  • Early Bird [noun or adjective]
  • Eat Crow
  • Elephant in the Room
  • Every Dog Has His (Its) Day
  • Every Man and His Dog
  • Fat Cat
  • Feather One’s Nest
  • Fight like cat and dog
  • Fish for Compliments
  • Fish Out of Water
  • Flat Out Like a Lizard Drinking
  • Flew the Coop
  • Fox in the Henhouse (Chickenhouse)
  • Get One’s Ducks in a Row
  • Get Someone’s Goat
  • Go Belly Up
  • Go See a Man About a Dog
  • Go to the Dogs
  • Grab (Take) the Bull by the Horns
  • Guinea Pig
  • Has the cat got your tongue?
  • Have a Dog in the Hunt (Fight, Race)
  • He Would Put Legs Under A Chicken
  • Hive Mind
  • Hold Your Horses (generally excl.)
  • Jump the Shark
  • Kangaroo Court
  • Kill a Fly With an Elephant Gun
  • Kill the Goose That Laid the Golden Egg
  • Kill Two Birds with One Stone
  • Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
  • Let the Cat Out of the Bag
  • Lick One’s Wounds
  • Like a Moth to a Flame
  • Like the cat that got the cream
  • Lion’s Den
  • Lion’s Share
  • Loaded for Bear
  • Loan Shark
  • Lock Horns
  • Look What the Cat Dragged In
  • Mad As A Box Of (Soapy) Frogs
  • Make a Silk Purse out of a Sow’s Ear
  • My Dogs Are Barking
  • Never Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth
  • No room to swing a cat
  • Not have a cat in hell’s chance
  • On a Lark
  • One-Trick Pony
  • Pecking Order
  • Play cat and mouse
  • Puppies and Rainbows
  • Puppy Dog Eyes
  • Put Lipstick on a Pig
  • Put Out Feelers
  • Put the Cart Before the Horse
  • Put the cat among the pigeons
  • Rain cats and dogs
  • Raise (Someone’s) Hackles
  • Red Herring
  • Screw The Pooch
  • Seize (Take) the Bull By the Horns
  • Sick as a Parrot
  • Sitting Duck
  • Smell a Rat
  • Something to Crow About
  • Stalking Horse
  • Strain at a Gnat and Swallow a Camel
  • Swan Song
  • Swim with Sharks
  • Take a Gander
  • Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
  • The Cat Is Out of the Bag
  • The World Is Your Oyster
  • There’s more than one way to skin a cat
  • Til the Cows Come Home
  • To have butterflies in your stomach
  • Turn Turtle
  • Ugly Duckling
  • Until the Cows Come Home
  • What’s Good for the Goose Is Good for the Gander
  • When Pigs Fly
  • White Elephant
  • Who’s She, the Cat’s Mother?
  • Wild Goose Chase
  • You Can Lead a Horse to Water, but You Can’t Make It Drink
  • You Can’t Make Fish of One and Fowl of the Other

Animal Idioms with Meaning and Examples

Animal Idioms

Idiom Meaning and Example
Leopard Can’t Change Its Spots People cannot change their innate characteristics.

Example: “He said he’d be more responsible, but a leopard can’t change its spots, and he’s still late to every meeting.”

Have a Cow To become extremely upset or angry about something.

Example: “Don’t have a cow, it’s just a tiny scratch on the car!”

Go Hog Wild To become excessively excited or enthusiastic.

Example: “The kids went hog wild at the amusement park.”

Kangaroo Loose In The Top Paddock Describing someone who is behaving in a crazy or illogical way.

Example: “He’s been saying some strange things lately, like there’s a kangaroo loose in the top paddock.

His Bark Is Worse Than His Bite Someone who seems more fierce or threatening than they really are.

Example: “Don’t be afraid of the boss; his bark is worse than his bite.”

As Useless as Tits on a Bull Completely useless or pointless.

Example: “Trying to get him to do his work is as useless as tits on a bull.”

Fishing Expedition An attempt to discover information in an indirect or sneaky way.

Example: “The interview felt like a fishing expedition, with the reporter trying to dig up some controversy.”

Can of Worms, A Whole New Can of Worms A complicated, troublesome situation.

Example: “Discussing the salary issue now would open up a whole new can of worms.

Play Whack-a-Mole To repeatedly deal with the same problem in different forms.

Example: “Managing this project is like playing whack-a-mole; as soon as we solve one issue, another pops up.”

Straight From the Horse’s Mouth Information from the most reliable source or directly from someone involved.

Example: “I heard straight from the horse’s mouth that the company is going to be sold.”

Nature of the Beast The essential characteristic or inherent nature of something or someone.

Example: “Long hours and hard work are just the nature of the beast in the medical profession.”

Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back The last in a series of events or problems that finally causes a loss of patience or the collapse of a situation.

Example: “The extra workload was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

The Worm Has Turned A person who has been treated badly and passively for a long time finally decides to act against the oppressor.

Example: “He’s usually quiet, but the worm has turned, and he’s standing up for himself now.”

To Be a Fly on the Wall To wish to be an unnoticed observer of a particular situation or conversation.

Example: “I’d love to be a fly on the wall during their secret meeting.”

To Have a Bee In One’s Bonnet To be preoccupied or obsessed with an idea.

Example: “She’s got a bee in her bonnet about starting her own business.”

To Have the Bit Between One’s Teeth To undertake a task with determination and enthusiasm.

Example: “Ever since he got the promotion, he’s had the bit between his teeth.”

To Beat a Dead Horse To waste time doing something that has already been attempted.

Example: “Arguing about this issue is like beating a dead horse; we’re not going to change anything now.”

800-Pound Gorilla A person or organization so powerful that they can act without considering the desires or rights of others.

Example: “In the world of online retail, that company is the 800-pound gorilla.”

Animal Idioms (A)

List of animal idioms and sayings that start with A.

Idiom Meaning and Example
A busy bee A person who is always busy or active.

Example: “She’s a real busy bee, volunteering at the shelter and taking care of her family.”

A guinea pig Someone who is used as a subject for experimentation or research.

Example: “I felt like a guinea pig during the clinical trial for the new medicine.”

A lame duck An official (often in government) who is in the final period of office, after the election of a successor.

Example: “The current mayor is a lame duck since the election results were announced.”

A lone wolf A person who prefers to do things alone without help from others.

Example: “He’s a lone wolf when it comes to hiking; he never joins any groups.”

A sitting duck An easy target.

Example: “Without proper security, the undefended village is a sitting duck for attacks.”

Albatross Around One’s Neck A heavy burden of guilt that becomes an obstacle to success.

Example: “The scandal became an albatross around the politician’s neck, ultimately ruining his career.”

All Bark And No Bite Someone who is threatening or aggressive but not willing to engage in a fight.

Example: “He talks tough, but he’s all bark and no bite.”

All Hat And No Cattle Someone who boasts about themselves but cannot back it up with actions.

Example: “He claims to be a successful businessman, but he’s all hat and no cattle.

Ants In Your Pants To be restless or unable to sit still.

Example: “The kids have ants in their pants today; they just can’t seem to stay in one place.”

As Poor as a Church Mouse Extremely poor.

Example: “He lives modestly and saves his money, as poor as a church mouse.”

Animal Idioms (B)

List of animal idioms and sayings that start with B.

Idiom Meaning and Example
Back the Wrong Horse To support a losing cause or side.

Example: “I invested all my money in that failing company; it seems I backed the wrong horse.

Bark up the Wrong Tree To have a false notion about something or pursue a mistaken idea.

Example: “If you think I’m the one who broke the vase, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

Bee in one’s bonnet To have an idea or a thought that won’t go away; to be preoccupied with something.

Example: “He’s got a bee in his bonnet about starting a new hobby.”

Bite the Hand That Feeds You To harm someone who has been helping or supporting you.

Example: “By spreading rumors about his boss, he’s biting the hand that feeds him.”

Black Sheep A person who is considered a disgrace to a particular group, usually a family.

Example: “He’s the black sheep of the family, always getting into trouble.”

Blow the Cobwebs Away (or Out of Something) To get rid of confusion, tiredness, or lack of clarity.

Example: “The composer wanted to blow the cobwebs away in the world of classical music and expose audiences to new ideas.”

Bull in a China Shop Someone who is clumsy or careless in a delicate situation or in an environment where they do not fit in.

Example: “He was like a bull in a china shop when he tried to organize the event.”

Buy a Pig in a Poke To buy something without inspecting it first, often resulting in disappointment.

Example: “Buying a car without a mechanic’s check is like buying a pig in a poke.”

Animal Idioms (C)

Idiom Meaning and Example
Can’t Swing A Dead Cat In (Place) Without Hitting A (Thing) Used to describe a place that is crowded with something or where something is very common.

Example: “You can’t swing a dead cat in this town without hitting a coffee shop.”

Change Horses in Midstream To change one’s plan, leader, or position while in the middle of a process or activity.

Example: “It’s risky to change horses in midstream, but we need a new strategy to win this game.”

Chickens Come Home To Roost The consequences of one’s actions will have to be dealt with eventually.

Example: “He cheated on the test and now he’s been caught; the chickens have come home to roost.

Chomp (Champ) at the Bit To show impatience or frustration when being held back or delayed.

Example: “The players were chomping at the bit to get started as the game was delayed due to rain.”

Clip Someone’s Wings To limit someone’s freedom, power, or ambitions.

Example: “After the scandal, the board clipped his wings and he wasn’t allowed to make unilateral decisions anymore.”

Cock and Bull Story A far-fetched and unbelievable tale.

Example: “He gave me some cock and bull story about getting stuck in traffic for three hours.”

Crickets Used to describe silence or a lack of response to something that was meant to get a reaction.

Example: “I told a joke, but there were crickets; no one laughed.”

Cry Wolf To raise a false alarm; to ask for help when you don’t need it.

Example: “If you keep crying wolf, no one will believe you when you’re actually in trouble.”

Animal Idioms (D)

List of animal idioms and sayings that start with D.

Idiom Meaning and Example
Dark Horse A person or thing that is not known to others and who ends up unexpectedly winning or succeeding.

Example: “She was a dark horse in the race, but she won in the end.”

Dead as the Dodo Something that is outdated or no longer exists.

Example: “Video rental stores are now as dead as the dodo.”

Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth Do not be ungrateful when you receive a gift or favor.

Example: “Even if it’s not the color you wanted, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

Drain the Lizard A slang term meaning to urinate.

Example: “Excuse me for a moment; I need to go drain the lizard.

Animal Idioms (E)

List of animal idioms and sayings that start with E.

Idiom Meaning and Example
Eager beaver A person who is very enthusiastic and works very hard.

Example: “She’s an eager beaver, always the first to arrive and the last to leave the office.”

Eagle-Eyed Having excellent vision or keen observation.

Example: “With his eagle-eyed attention to detail, nothing escapes his notice.”

Eat Crow To admit one’s mistake and apologize for it.

Example: “After his bold predictions failed to come true, he had to eat crow in front of his colleagues.”

Elephant in the Room A large, obvious problem or controversial issue that everyone ignores and avoids discussing.

Example: “The budget deficit is the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about.”

Animal Idioms (F)

List of animal idioms and sayings that start with F.

Idiom Meaning and Example
Flat Out Like a Lizard Drinking Very busy or working very hard.

Example: “I’ve been flat out like a lizard drinking all week trying to meet the project deadline.”

Flew the Coop To leave or escape from a place.

Example: “Once he turned 18, he flew the coop and moved to the city for college.”

Fox in the Henhouse (Chickenhouse) Someone who causes trouble or is a threat in a situation or group they have entered.

Example: “Putting him in charge of the cash was like putting a fox in the henhouse.”

Animal Idioms (G)

List of animal idioms and sayings that start with G.

Idiom Meaning and Example
Get One’s Ducks in a Row To organize things well.

Example: “Before we start the project, let’s get our ducks in a row.”

Get Someone’s Goat To irritate or annoy someone.

Example: “He’s always late, and it really gets my goat.”

Go Belly Up To fail or go bankrupt.

Example: “The company went belly up after the new regulations were introduced.”

Grab (Take) the Bull by the Horns To directly confront or deal with a problem.

Example: “She grabbed the bull by the horns and confronted her manager about the issue.”

Guinea Pig A person or thing used as a subject for experimentation.

Example: “I felt like a guinea pig being the first to try the new training program.”

Animal Idioms (H)

List of animal idioms and sayings that start with H.

Idiom Meaning and Example
He Would Put Legs Under A Chicken Used to describe someone who is very persuasive or can sell anything to anyone.

Example: “He’s such a good salesman, he would put legs under a chicken.

Hive Mind The collective thoughts, ideas, and opinions of a group of people, as if they were a single mind.

Example: “The team operated with a hive mind, quickly coming to a unanimous decision.”

Hold Your Horses Wait a moment or be patient.

Example: Hold your horses! We need to think this through before we act.”

Animal Idioms (J,K)

List of animal idioms and sayings that start with J & K.

Idiom Meaning and Example
Jump the Shark To do something absurd to gain attention or to indicate a decline in quality, especially in television shows.

Example: “When the sitcom added a supernatural character, it definitely jumped the shark.”

Kangaroo Court An unofficial court that does not follow legal procedures and is considered unfair or corrupt.

Example: “The employees felt the office disciplinary meeting was a kangaroo court.”

Kill a Fly With an Elephant Gun To use excessive force or means to accomplish something minor.

Example: “He brought in a team of lawyers for a small claims court case—talk about killing a fly with an elephant gun!”

Animal Idioms (L)

List of animal idioms and sayings that start with L.

Idiom Meaning and Example
Lick One’s Wounds To take time to recover from a defeat or disappointment.

Example: “After losing the match, he took some time off to lick his wounds.”

Like a Moth to a Flame Drawn to something or someone despite the inherent danger or risk.

Example: “She was like a moth to a flame, unable to resist his charm.”

Like the cat that got the cream To look particularly self-satisfied, often to the annoyance of others.

Example: “He looked like the cat that got the cream after his promotion was announced.”

Lion’s Den A place or situation of great danger or difficulty.

Example: “Going into that meeting without preparation was like walking into the lion’s den.”

Lion’s Share The largest part or most of something.

Example: “She did the lion’s share of the work on the project.”

Loaded for Bear Fully prepared for any challenges or difficulties.

Example: “He went into the negotiation loaded for bear.”

Loan Shark A person who lends money at extremely high-interest rates, often illegally.

Example: “He got the money to pay his debts from a loan shark.”

Lock Horns To engage in a conflict, dispute, or stubborn disagreement.

Example: “The two politicians locked horns during the debate.”

Animal Idioms (M,N)

List of animal idioms and sayings that start with M & N.

Idiom Meaning and Example
Mad As A Box Of (Soapy) Frogs Extremely crazy, chaotic, or out of control.

Example: “The kids were running around like mad as a box of soapy frogs.

Make a Silk Purse out of a Sow’s Ear To create something valuable or beautiful from something of no value.

Example: “He managed to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear with that rundown house.”

Never Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth Do not be ungrateful when receiving a gift or favor.

Example: “When they offered me the car for free, I certainly didn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

Animal Idioms (O)

List of animal idioms and sayings that start with O.

Idiom Meaning and Example
On a Lark Doing something spontaneously for fun.

Example: “They decided to drive to the beach on a lark, just because it was sunny.”

One-Trick Pony A person or thing that is skilled in only one area.

Example: “He’s a one-trick pony; all he can do is code, nothing else.”

Animal Idioms (P)

List of animal idioms and sayings that start with P.

Idiom Meaning and Example
Pecking Order The hierarchy of authority in a group; a system where some people have the right to get benefits/promotions before others.

Example: “New employees quickly learn the pecking order at the office.”

Play cat and mouse To engage in a cunning game where one party constantly evades or outsmarts the other.

Example: “The thief played cat and mouse with the police for months.”

Puppies and Rainbows A situation that is simply happy or carefree; overly optimistic.

Example: “Life isn’t always puppies and rainbows, but it’s important to stay positive.”

Put Lipstick on a Pig To try to make something bad or unsatisfactory appear better than it really is.

Example: “No matter how much you renovate this old car, you’re just putting lipstick on a pig.”

Put Out Feelers To subtly or indirectly ask questions or make inquiries.

Example: “Before applying for the job, she put out feelers to see if the company was a good fit for her.”

Put the Cart Before the Horse To do things in the wrong order or with the wrong priorities.

Example: “Starting to sell products before understanding the market is like putting the cart before the horse.

Put the cat among the pigeons To do or say something that causes trouble and commotion.

Example: “His controversial statement really put the cat among the pigeons at the meeting.”

Animal Idioms (R)

List of animal idioms and sayings that start with R.

Idiom Meaning and Example
Raise (Someone’s) Hackles To irritate or anger someone.

Example: “His dismissive comments raised her hackles, and she was determined to prove him wrong.”

Red Herring Something that misleads or distracts from the relevant or important issue.

Example: “The detective considered the clue a red herring, irrelevant to the case.”

Animal Idioms (S)

List of animal idioms and sayings that start with S.

Idiom Meaning and Example
Screw The Pooch To make a serious mistake or blunder.

Example: “He really screwed the pooch when he deleted the annual report by accident.”

Seize (Take) the Bull By the Horns To confront a problem head-on and deal with it openly.

Example: “She seized the bull by the horns and negotiated a better deal for her company.”

Sick as a Parrot Very disappointed or unhappy about the outcome of something.

Example: “He was as sick as a parrot after his team lost the championship game.”

Sitting Duck An easy target or someone in a vulnerable position.

Example: “Without any defense, the small village was a sitting duck for the invading forces.”

Smell a Rat To suspect that something is wrong or that someone is being deceitful.

Example: “I smell a rat with this deal; it seems too good to be true.”

Something to Crow About A reason to be proud or happy.

Example: “Winning the science fair was certainly something to crow about.”

Stalking Horse Something or someone used to conceal one’s true purpose; a decoy.

Example: “His bid for the company was a stalking horse to flush out other bidders.”

Strain at a Gnat and Swallow a Camel To criticize small mistakes or problems but ignore larger ones.

Example: “He fusses over tiny expenses but ignores the big investments—straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.”

Swan Song The final performance or work of an artist or actor before retirement.

Example: “The actress’s last movie before her retirement was her swan song.”

Swim with Sharks To operate in a dangerous or competitive environment.

Example: “Starting her business in that cutthroat industry was truly like swimming with sharks.”

Animal Idioms (T)

List of animal idioms and sayings that start with T.

Idiom Meaning and Example
Take a Gander To take a look at something.

Example: Take a gander at this report and tell me what you think.”

The World Is Your Oyster You are in a position to take the opportunities that life has to offer.

Example: “Now that you’ve graduated, the world is your oyster!”

Til the Cows Come Home For a very long time; indefinitely.

Example: “You can argue til the cows come home, but it won’t change my decision.”

To have butterflies in your stomach To feel nervous or anxious.

Example: “I always have butterflies in my stomach before I go on stage.”

Turn Turtle To turn upside down; to capsize.

Example: “The boat hit a wave and turned turtle, throwing us all into the water.”

Animal Idioms (U)

List of animal idioms and sayings that start with U.

Idiom Meaning and Example
Ugly Duckling A person who is initially unattractive or unpromising but develops into a beautiful or successful individual.

Example: “She considered herself an ugly duckling in high school, but she blossomed into a confident and successful woman.”

Until the Cows Come Home For a very long time; indefinitely.

Example: “You can wait for him to change his mind until the cows come home, but I doubt it will happen.”

Animal Idioms (W)

List of animal idioms and sayings that start with W.

Idiom Meaning and Example
What’s Good for the Goose Is Good for the Gander What is suitable or appropriate for one person is equally suitable for another.

Example: “He gets a day off if he’s tired—what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, so I should get one too.”

When Pigs Fly Something that will never happen.

Example: “He’ll clean his room when pigs fly—it’s just not going to happen!”

White Elephant A possession that is useless or troublesome, especially one that is expensive to maintain or difficult to dispose of.

Example: “The old mansion became a white elephant for the family, as it required too much upkeep.”

Wild Goose Chase A futile search or pursuit.

Example: “Looking for that hidden treasure without a map is nothing but a wild goose chase.”

Animal Idioms (Y)

List of animal idioms and sayings that start with Y.

Idiom Meaning and Example
You Can Lead a Horse to Water, but You Can’t Make It Drink You can provide someone with an opportunity, but you can’t force them to take it if they don’t want to.

Example: “I gave him the chance to take the job, but you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

You Can’t Make Fish of One and Fowl of the Other You cannot treat two people or things as the same when they are inherently different.

Example:You can’t make fish of one and fowl of the other when it comes to training experienced employees and new hires.”

Psychology Behind Animal Idiom Usage

In this section, we’ll unwrap the intricate relationship between how we think and the animal idioms we use in everyday language.

Metaphorical Thinking

We’re naturally inclined to use metaphors to express complex ideas in simpler terms. Animal idioms are prime examples of this. When we say someone is “as sly as a fox,” we’re attributing the cunning traits we associate with foxes to a person. This metaphorical shortcut allows us to communicate a rich concept with just a few words. Metaphors serve as bridges, linking our understanding of animal behaviors to human traits or situations.

Cognitive Linguistics

Cognitive linguistics tells us that our language is deeply embedded in our sensory and motor experiences. For instance, when we talk about “letting the cat out of the bag,” we’re not just making a random comparison. Historically, this phrase related to revealing secrets, comparable to the act of revealing something hidden in a bag which would be as surprising as finding a cat inside. We use this sort of language to anchor abstract concepts to physical experiences we can understand.

  • Physical Experiences: Releasing a cat from a bag
  • Abstract Concepts: Unveiling a secret

Our brains are wired to make sense of abstract thoughts by connecting them to concrete events, and animal idioms fit snugly into this cognitive process.

Animal Idioms | Pictures

Useful Animal Idioms in English | Image 2

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Useful Idioms about Animals in English | Image 4

List of Idioms about Animals in EnglishPin

Cat Idioms List and Picture

List of cat idioms with picture.

  • Bell the Cat
  • Can’t Swing A Dead Cat In (Place) Without Hitting A (Thing)
  • Cat Fight
  • Cat Got Your Tongue?
  • Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
  • Cat-and-Mouse (adj.)
  • Cat’s Paw
  • Cool Cat
  • Curiosity Killed The Cat
  • Fat Cat
  • Let the Cat Out of the Bag
  • Like The Cat That Got The Cream
  • Look What the Cat Dragged In
  • No Room To Swing A Cat
  • Not Enough Room to Swing a Cat
  • Play Cat And Mouse
  • Put The Cat Among The Pigeons
  • The Cat Is Out of the Bag
  • There’s More Than One Way To Skin A Cat
  • Not Have A Cat In Hell’s Chance
  • Who’s She, the Cat’s Mother?

Cat animal idioms – Image

Animal Idioms: 165 Useful Animal Idioms from A-Z 1Pin

 

Dog Idioms with Picture

List of dog idioms in English with picture.

  • Dog in the Manger
  • Dog-and-Pony Show
  • Dog-Eat-Dog
  • Every Dog Has His (Its) Day
  • Every Man and His Dog
  • Fight Like Cat and Dog
  • Go See a Man About a Dog
  • Go to the Dogs
  • Have a Dog in the Hunt (Fight, Race)
  • Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
  • Puppies and Rainbows
  • Puppy Dog Eyes
  • My Dogs Are Barking
  • Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

Dog animal idioms – Image

Dog Idioms with PicturePin

Fish Idioms with Picture

List of fish idioms in English with picture.

  • A Cold Fish
  • Big Fish
  • Fish Out of Water
  • Make Fish of One and Fowl of the Other
  • Different Kettle of Fish
  • All Is Fish That Comes To His Net
  • Better Fish To Fry
  • Big Fish In A Small Pond
  • Cry Stinking Fish (UK)
  • Drink Like A Fish
  • Fish For A Compliment
  • Like Shooting Fish In A Barrel
  • Neither Fish Nor Fowl

Fish animal idioms – Image

Fish Idioms with PicturePin

Bird Idioms | Animal Idioms

  • A Home Bird
  • A Rare Bird
  • A Little Bird Told Me
  • Birds of A Feather
  • Bird’s-Eye View
  • Early Bird
  • Kill Two Birds with One Stone
  • Night Owl
  • A Lame Duck
  • A Sitting Duck
  • Get One’s Ducks in a Row
  • Sitting Duck
  • Ugly Duckling
  • Swan Song
  • Eager Beaver
  • Eagle-Eyed

Animal Idioms with Meaning | Images

Animal Idioms: Idioms about Animals in English – Image 1

Animal Idioms: Idioms about Animals in English - Image 1Pin

Animal Idioms: Idioms about Animals in English – Image 2

Animal Idioms: Idioms about Animals in English - Image 2Pin

English Idioms List

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7 thoughts on “Animal Idioms: 165 Useful Animal Idioms from A-Z”

  1. Thank you for great idioms. Can you remove the vulgarity? Two reasons: it brings down the class of communication- anyone can learn those from their friends like teenagers trading 4 letter words. Also, my students are young children. Much appreciated!!

    Reply
  2. A really good site. I like the idea of the illustrated examples. Keep up the good work. I work with children whose first language is not English (Africa).

    Reply

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