Cheese Idioms

Cheese is not just a beloved staple in our diets; it’s also rich in cultural expressions. We often sprinkle our conversations with cheese-related idioms, which add flavor and color to our language. Whether we talk about the ‘big cheese’ or say that something is ‘cheese and chalk,’ we’re using cheese as a metaphor to describe various situations and characteristics in life and society.

What are Cheese Idioms?

Cheese idioms are expressions that use the word “cheese” in a figurative sense to convey an idea or message rather than talking about the dairy product. We often come across these idiomatic phrases in everyday language, and their meanings can vary widely, offering a quirky and flavorful enhancement to the way we communicate.

Let’s look at a few common cheese idioms and their meanings:

  • “The big cheese”: This means the most important or influential person in a group.
  • “Cheese it, the cops!”: A slang term, often said in haste, telling someone to stop what they’re doing and leave quickly.
  • “Cheesy”: When something is overly sentimental or cliché.

12 Cheese Idioms in English You Should Know

Cheese Idioms with Meaning

Idiom Meaning
Cheesehead A person from Wisconsin; also a fan of the Green Bay Packers
To Cheese (someone) Off To annoy or irritate someone
To Cut The Cheese To pass gas; to fart
More Holes Than Swiss Cheese Full of flaws or missing parts
Cheese It! Stop what you’re doing or hide
Tough/Hard/Stiff Cheese An expression of little sympathy for someone’s misfortune
Cheesy Lacking quality or taste; cheap or tacky
Cheeseball Someone or something lacking sophistication or good taste
Cheese Eater An informer or a spy; sometimes used to refer to a rat

Cheese Idioms with Example

Idiom Example Sentence
Cheesehead “Every game day, you’ll find him wearing a foam wedge on his head like a true cheesehead.”
To Cheese (someone) Off “I didn’t mean to cheese her off with my comments, but she took them the wrong way.”
To Cut The Cheese “The room was silent until someone decided to cut the cheese, causing a few giggles.”
More Holes Than Swiss Cheese “His alibi had more holes than Swiss cheese; nobody believed it for a second.”
Cheese It! Cheese it! The cops are coming!”
Tough/Hard/Stiff Cheese “You lost your job? Tough cheese, but you’ll find another one soon.”
Cheesy “The dialogue in that movie was so cheesy, I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes.”
Cheeseball “He came to the party dressed as a pirate; what a cheeseball!”
Cheese Eater “Nobody trusted him because he was known to be a cheese eater during the strike.”

Popular Cheese Idioms

Big Cheese

This idiom refers to an important, influential, or high-ranking person within a group or organization.


  • In Business: Referring to a CEO or top executive.

Example: “In the board meeting, everyone deferred to the Big Cheese for the final decision.”

  • In Social Circles: When someone is considered the leader or most important member of a group.

Example: “At the club, he’s the Big Cheese; everyone knows him and respects his opinion.”

  • In Entertainment: A top celebrity or a powerful figure in the industry.

Example: “In Hollywood, she’s considered the Big Cheese, with all the directors wanting her in their films.”

Chalk and cheese

This British idiom is used to describe two things or people that are completely different from each other.


  • In Personal Relationships: When two friends or partners have very different personalities or interests.

Example: “My sister and I are like chalk and cheese; she loves outdoor adventures, and I prefer reading at home.”

  • In Work Styles: When colleagues have different approaches to work.

Example: “When it comes to project management, Jim and I are chalk and cheese—he’s all about the details, and I’m big-picture oriented.”

  • In Consumer Preferences: When comparing two products that serve the same purpose but are distinct in their features or qualities.

Example: “These two smartphones may look similar, but in terms of performance, they’re chalk and cheese.”

Say Cheese!

This idiom is an instruction often given by photographers right before taking a picture, prompting the subjects to smile.


  • In Photography: Encouraging a group of people to smile for a photo.

Example: “Everyone huddled together for the group photo, and the photographer said, ‘Say cheese!‘”

  • In Social Events: At parties or gatherings when taking candid shots or selfies.

Example: “As we took a selfie, she exclaimed, ‘Say cheese!‘ and we all broke into grins.”

  • In Family Occasions: When capturing family moments and wanting everyone to look happy.

Example: “Before snapping the holiday card photo, Dad shouted, ‘**Say cheese!**’ and we smiled our biggest smiles.”