Family Idioms

Family is an essential part of our lives, and we often find ourselves talking about them. However, sometimes, we may struggle to find the right words to describe our family members and their relationships with us. That’s where family idioms come in handy.

List of Family Idioms and Sayings in English

Idioms about Mothers | Family Idioms

(Be the) Spitting Image Like a Kid in a Candy Store
(Born) Out of Wedlock Sleep Like a Baby
Accident Of Birth Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water
And His Mother Wet Behind the Ears
Big Brother A face only a mother could love
Blue Blood A mama’s boy
Bob’s Your Uncle A mother hen
Father Figure A tiger mother
Flesh and Blood At one’s mother’s knee
Helicopter Parenting Be tied to (one’s) mother’s apron strings
Kith and Kin Everyone and his mother
Like Father, Like Son Expectant mother
Like Taking Candy from a Baby Experience is the mother of wisdom
My Old Man, My Old Lady He that would the daughter win, must with the mother first begin
Pop the Question Like mother, like daughter
Run in the Family Mother house
Small Fry Mother Nature
Spare The Rod And Spoil The Child Mother’s milk
This Is Not Your Father’s The mother of all (something)
Up the Duff To keep mum
(Having a) Bun in the Oven Babe In Arms
Babe In The Woods Baby Boomer
Born on The Wrong Side of the Blanket Boys will be Boys
Child’s Play Chip off the Old Block

Family Idioms with Meaning and Example

Idioms Involving Parents

(Be the) Spitting Image

  • Meaning: Have a strong resemblance, often familial
  • Example: Look at Madeleine. She’s the spitting image of her mother.

(Born) Out of Wedlock

  • Meaning: Illegitimate, born to unmarried parents
  • Example: I was born out of wedlock and raised by a single mother.

Accident Of Birth

  • Meaning: Luck in something due to family good fortune
  • Example: Yes, he became company vice-president when he was only 23, but that’s an accident of birth – his father is one of the major stockholders.

And His Mother

  • Meaning: An intensifier for an inclusive noun or phrase such as everyone, everybody
  • Example: Everybody and his mother is going to be at the fireworks. Let’s watch the on television.

Big Brother

  • Meaning: Government, viewed as an intrusive force in the lives of citizens; government spying
  • Example: Big Brother seems to grow more and more powerful as data about individuals is accumulated on social networks.

Blue Blood (adj.: blue-blooded)

  • Meaning: Person of aristocratic background
  • Example: The blue bloods generally keep to themselves, but a charity dance is a good place to see them dress up.

Bob’s Your Uncle

  • Meaning: The rest is easy; you’re almost finished
  • Example: Just enter the update code, register the new software, and Bob’s your uncle.

Father Figure

  • Meaning: A mentor, a person who offers guidance
  • Example: After I joined the company, Frank was a father figure to me. He gave me lots of valuable advice.

Flesh and Blood

  • Meaning: Blood relatives, close relatives
  • Example: When all is said and done, few people understand you like your own flesh and blood, even if you don’t get along with them.

Helicopter Parenting

  • Meaning: Overattentive child-raising
  • Example: The trend these days is toward helicopter parenting. When I was young children had much more independence, and I think it helped them.

Kith and Kin

  • Meaning: Family (collectively)
  • Example: When you go on a trip, it’s important to buy souvenirs for your kith and kin back home.

Like Father, Like Son

  • Meaning: Sons inherit their fathers’ traits and preferences, often even without realizing it.
  • Example: John was a great fisherman, and there’s his son Matt out on the water. Like father, like son.

Like Taking Candy from a Baby

  • Meaning: Very easy
  • Example: Just watch. Getting her to go out with me will be like taking candy from a baby.

My Old Man, My Old Lady

  • Meaning: My spouse
  • Example: I’d love to go to the mall with you, but I told my old man I’d go to the football game.

Pop the Question

  • Meaning: Propose marriage
  • Example: I bought a ring, and I’m ready to pop the question to Patricia.

Run in the Family

  • Meaning: Be inherited (as a trait) by multiple members of a family
  • Example: I’m not surprised Maria has started playing in a band. Musical talent runs in her family.

Small Fry

  • Meaning: People or organizations with little influence; children
  • Example: We’re still small fry compared to the major companies in the field.

Spare The Rod And Spoil The Child

  • Meaning: It is necessary to physically punish children in order to raise them right.
  • Example: Marlena is to permissive with her children. Spare the rod and spoil the child, I say.

This Is Not Your Father’s

  • Meaning: This item has been much updated from its earlier versions.
  • Example: You may not have liked this bat in the past. But this is not your father’s Louisville Slugger.

Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water

  • Meaning: Eliminate something good while discarding the bad parts of something
  • Example: Yes, the sales presentation has problems, but I don’t think we should start fresh with a new one. We don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Up the Duff

  • Meaning: Pregnant
  • Example: They hadn’t planned to get married, but Janice found out she was up the duff.

Idioms about Baby and Children

(Having a) Bun in the Oven

  • Meaning: Pregnant; expecting a baby.
  • Example: Did you hear the good news? Sarah has a bun in the oven!

Babe In Arms

  • Meaning: A very young child, an infant, or a person who is very inexperienced in a certain situation.
  • Example: He’s just a babe in arms when it comes to cooking; he barely knows how to boil water.

Babe In The Woods

  • Meaning: An innocent, naive, or inexperienced person in a dangerous or challenging situation.
  • Example: Sending him to negotiate such a complex deal was like sending a babe in the woods.

Baby Boomer

  • Meaning: A person born during the demographic post-World War II baby boom between the years 1946 and 1964.
  • Example: As a baby boomer, he has seen many changes in technology throughout his lifetime.

Born on The Wrong Side of the Blanket

  • Meaning: Born to parents who are not legally married; illegitimate birth.
  • Example: He was born on the wrong side of the blanket, but he never let that fact define him.

Boys will be Boys

  • Meaning: A phrase used to express the view that mischievous or childish behavior is typical of boys or young men and should not cause surprise when it occurs.
  • Example: They broke a window playing baseball in the backyard, but what can you do? Boys will be boys.

Child’s Play

  • Meaning: Something that is very easy to do; a task that is simple and straightforward.
  • Example: For a seasoned chef like her, making a three-course meal is child’s play.

Chip off the Old Block

  • Meaning: Someone who resembles their parent in appearance or behavior.
  • Example: He’s a chip off the old block, just as stubborn and determined as his father.

Like a Kid in a Candy Store

  • Meaning: To be very excited and enthusiastic about the selection of possible choices; often overwhelmed with joy.
  • Example: When he entered the electronics expo, he was like a kid in a candy store.

Sleep Like a Baby

  • Meaning: To experience a very deep and restful sleep; without waking.
  • Example: After the long hike, I slept like a baby through the entire night.

Wet Behind the Ears

  • Meaning: Inexperienced; new to something; immature.
  • Example: The new intern is still wet behind the ears, but she’s learning quickly.

Idioms about Mothers

A Face Only a Mother Could Love

  • Meaning: Used to describe someone who is not very attractive or whose appearance is only endearing to their mother.
  • Example: He’s not the most handsome date I’ve brought home, with a face only a mother could love, but he’s sweet and kind.

A Mama’s Boy

  • Meaning: A term used to describe a man who is excessively attached to or influenced by his mother.
  • Example: He’s such a mama’s boy; he calls her every day and never makes a decision without her input.

A Mother Hen

  • Meaning: A person who is overly protective or caring towards others, especially in a fussy or interfering way.
  • Example: She’s the mother hen of the office, always making sure everyone has eaten lunch and is taking care of themselves.

A Tiger Mother

  • Meaning: A strict or demanding mother who pushes her children to high levels of achievement, especially by using methods regarded as typical of childrearing in East Asia.
  • Example: She’s known as the tiger mother of the neighborhood, with her kids always being top of their class.

At One’s Mother’s Knee

  • Meaning: Learning something from a very young age under the guidance of one’s mother.
  • Example: He learned the value of hard work at his mother’s knee.

Be Tied to (One’s) Mother’s Apron Strings

  • Meaning: To be overly dependent on one’s mother.
  • Example: At 25, he’s still tied to his mother’s apron strings, living at home and relying on her for everything.

Everyone and His Mother

  • Meaning: A large number of people; almost everyone.
  • Example: Everyone and his mother was at the concert last night—it was packed!

Expectant Mother

  • Meaning: A woman who is pregnant and awaiting the birth of her child.
  • Example: The parking spots closest to the store entrance are reserved for expectant mothers.

He that Would the Daughter Win, Must with the Mother First Begin

  • Meaning: If you want to win a woman’s affections, you should seek to impress her mother or gain her approval.
  • Example: Remember, if you’re serious about your girlfriend, he that would the daughter win, must with the mother first begin.

Like Mother, Like Daughter

  • Meaning: A daughter is likely to behave like her mother or resemble her mother in appearance or character.
  • Example: She’s just as stubborn and independent as her mom—like mother, like daughter.

Mother House

  • Meaning: The main house or headquarters of a religious order or congregation.
  • Example: She took her final vows at the mother house in Rome.

Mother Nature

  • Meaning: A personification of nature that focuses on the life-giving and nurturing aspects of nature by embodying it in the form of the mother.
  • Example: After the beautiful display of the Northern Lights last night, you have to marvel at the wonders of Mother Nature.

Mother’s Milk

  • Meaning: Something that is basic, fundamental, or a natural part of something.
  • Example: To a politician, public opinion is mother’s milk; it sustains and nurtures their career.

The Mother of All (Something)

  • Meaning: Used to emphasize that something is the biggest, most significant, or most prominent of its kind.
  • Example: The new shopping mall is going to be the mother of all malls, with hundreds of stores and entertainment options.

To Keep Mum

  • Meaning: To remain silent; to not say anything (about something); to not reveal a secret or some information.
  • Example: The deal was strictly confidential, so we all had to keep mum until it was finalized.

idioms about Family