Here is the list of commonly used BIRD Idioms in English with meaning and examples.
Learn more about common animal idioms in English.
Commonly Used BIRD Idioms in English
(Bird in a) Gilded (Golden) Cage
- Meaning: In a luxurious but confining situation
- Example: Theresa married a rich guy, but all she does is sit at home and log on to social media. She’s a bird in a gilded cage.
Note: This is from an old American popular song, Bird in a Gilded Cage.
A Home Bird
- Meaning: Somebody who prefers to spend his social and free time at home
- Example: Sharah’s a home bird really.
A Rare Bird
- Meaning: Somebody or something of a kind that one seldom sees
- Example: Diane Johnson’s book is that rare bird, an American novel of manners.
A Little Bird Told Me
- Meaning: I don’t wish to divulge where I got the information
- Example: How do you know my boyfriend went out with someone else? – A little bird told me.
Birds of A Feather
- Meaning: People having similar characters, backgrounds, interests, or beliefs
- Example: Tina and Marlene are birds of a feather. They like the same clothes, songs, and books.
Note: This is often used in the expression birds of a feather flock together.
- Meaning: A view from above; a broad perspective on something
- Example: For a bird’s-eye view of the city, you can take a cable car to the top of the mountain.
- Meaning: Someone who does something prior to the usual time, or someone who gets up early.
- Example: If you think prices at restaurants are too high, many of them offer early bird discounts for people who eat before 5 p.m.
Note: The early bird catches the worm (proverb, meaning people who are very prompt reap rewards).
Kill Two Birds with One Stone
- Meaning: Act in such a way as to produce two desirable effects
- Example: If we change suppliers, we’ll kill two birds with one stone: we’ll increase profits, and we’ll squeeze our rivals’ supply chain.
- Meaning: Somebody who often stays up late or is active at night can be called a night owl.
- Example: My husband’s a night owl, but I like to be in bed by 10 o’clock.
A Lame Duck
- Meaning: A person or enterprise (often a business) that is not a success and that has to be helped.
- Example: The company started as a lame duck that was saved by an innovative entrepreneur who decided to take some risks and go in a new direction.
A Sitting Duck
- Meaning: A person or object in a vulnerable position that is easy to attack or injure.
- Example: When my car broke down in a bad neighborhood, I felt like a sitting duck, just waiting to get robbed.
Fox In The Henhouse (Chicken house)
- Meaning: Someone who causes trouble
- Example: The boss’s son is a fox in the henhouse. He does no actual work, and all he does is stir up problems.
Get One’s Ducks in a Row
- Meaning: Have everything organized; get oneself organized
- Example: Sorry about all the emails. I’m just trying to get my ducks in a row before I go on vacation.
- Meaning: Something or someone easily attacked or criticized
- Example: Considering the weakness of our offensive line this year, our quarterback is often a sitting duck.
- Meaning: An awkward child or young person who grows into a beautiful person
- Example: Sarah was such an ugly duckling at the start. Now she’s a beautiful dancer .
Note: This is old-fashioned. (bird idioms)
- Meaning: A final appearance
- Example: This game will be the quarterback’s swan song – he’s retiring after this season.
Note: This comes from the (probably mistaken) belief that swans sing before dying.
- Meaning: The term eager beaver refers to a person who is hardworking and enthusiastic, sometimes considered overzealous.
- Example: Give that big project to the new girl, she’s a real eager beaver.
- Meaning: Having sharp vision
- Example: My eagle-eyed sister spotted the car in the parking lot before anyone else did.
Feather One’s Nest
- Meaning: To take advantage of one’s position to benefit oneself
- Example: Most politicians in our country don’t have the public good in mind-they’re just interested in feathering their nests.
Flew The Coop
- Meaning: Left, escaped
- Example: You’d better pay him more, or one day you’ll come to the office and find that he flew the coop.
Note: This is more common in North America. You can say fly the coop, but the past tense is more common.
He Would Put Legs Under A Chicken
- Meaning: He will talk your head off; he is very talkative
- Example: Get ready to do a lot of listening if you go out to lunch with Karl – he would put legs under a chicken.
Sick As A Parrot
- Meaning: Very disappointed
- Example: I was sick as a parrot after Man United lost last night.
Note: This expression is British.
To Have Butterflies In Your Stomach
- Meaning: To be nervous
- Example: I almost didn’t go on stage and perform tonight because I had butterflies in my stomach.
What’s Good for the Goose Is Good for the Gander
- Meaning: What’s OK For A Man is OK For A Woman, too
- Example: My boyfriend complains when I go out, but then I found out he went out with his friends every night this week. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
Note: This bird idiom is rather old-fashioned. Still more old-fashioned is an earlier version, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
Wild Goose Chase
- Meaning: An impossible or futile search or task
- Example: I think this is a wild goose chase. This library doesn’t have the books we need.
- Meaning: To admit one was wrong, and accept humiliation
- Example: I am ready to eat crow. My prediction about the game was completely wrong.
(Someone’s) Goose Is Cooked
- Meaning: In serious trouble, with no hope of improvement
- Example: After losing two sets to the invincible Djokovic, the tennis player’s goose was cooked.
Commonly Used BIRD Idioms | Image
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