Short Sayings

Short sayings and idioms are not only useful for improving our vocabulary, but they can also help us better understand the culture and history behind them. Many of these phrases have been around for centuries and have evolved over time to reflect changes in society. By learning these common expressions, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the English language and the people who speak it.

List of Common Short Sayings and Idioms in English

Short Sayings and Idiomatic Expression - Image 1

  • (A) Far Cry from
  • (A) Fool and His Money Are Soon Parted
  • (If) Worst Comes to Worst
  • (Keep It) On the Down Low (D.L.)
  • (That’s) Neither Here Nor There
  • (To) Put Words Into Someone’s Mouth
  • 23 Skidoo
  • A Little Bird Told Me
  • A Stitch in Time Saves Nine
  • Act High and Mighty
  • Actions Speak Louder Than Words
  • Age Before Beauty
  • Aha Moment
  • Beyond the Shadow of a Doubt
  • Bucket List
  • By All Means
  • Call It a Night
  • Cheap Shot
  • Claim to Fame
  • Close, But No Cigar
  • Draw a Long Bow
  • Every Man for Himself
  • Fed Up with
  • For Crying Out Loud (excl.)
  • FUBAR
  • Get A Word In Edgewise
  • Get the Picture
  • Give ’em Hell (often excl.)
  • Have Your Say
  • He Who Laughs Last Laughs Best
  • Heads Up!
  • Hold One’s Peace
  • I Wouldn’t Put It Past (Someone)
  • If It Had Been a Snake, It Would Have Bitten Me
  • If the Shoe Fits, Wear It
  • It Won’t Fly
  • Join the Club (excl.)
  • Last But Not Least
  • Leave Someone in the Lurch
  • Look the Other Way
  • Make Nice
  • Much Of A Muchness
  • Mum’s the Word
  • No Rhyme or Reason (to)
  • No Shit, Sherlock
  • Not One’s Cup of Tea
  • Not Sit Well with (Someone)
  • Nothing to Write Home About
  • On a Hiding to Nothing
  • On the Down Low (D.L.)
  • Once Bitten, Twice Shy
  • Or Else (by itself)
  • Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire

Short Sayings and Idiomatic Expression - Image 2

  • Out of the Way (1)
  • Out of the way (2)
  • Out of the way (3)
  • Out of This World
  • Pep Talk
  • Pull Out All the Stops
  • Put Up with (Something)
  • Quote Unquote
  • Raise One’s Voice
  • Shape Up or Ship Out
  • Sit Tight
  • Sitting Pretty
  • Speak of the Devil (and He Shall Appear)
  • Sweet Dreams!
  • Take It Easy
  • Tell It to the Marines
  • That’s a Stretch
  • That’s All She Wrote
  • The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same
  • The Whole Shebang
  • There But For The Grace Of God Go I
  • Third Time’s a Charm
  • Through Thick and Thin
  • Throw Someone for a Loop
  • To each his own
  • Trash Talk
  • Turnabout Is Fair Play
  • Vale of Tears
  • We’ll Cross That Bridge When We Come to It
  • What Do You Make of (Him)?
  • What Goes Around Comes Around
  • When In Doubt, Leave It Out
  • When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do
  • When It Rains, It Pours
  • Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way
  • Worn to a Frazzle
  • You Can Say That Again!
  • You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover
  • Your Guess Is as Good as Mine
  • Yours Truly

Short Sayings and Idioms with Meaning and Examples

Short Sayings, Idioms and Phrases

(A) Far Cry from

  • Meaning: Very different from
  • Example: This restaurant is a far cry from the one we went to last night.

(A) Fool and His Money Are Soon Parted

  • Meaning: Someone who is foolish with their money will soon lose it
  • Example: Tom spent all his money on lottery tickets and now he’s broke. A fool and his money are soon parted.

(If) Worst Comes to Worst

  • Meaning: If the worst possible thing happens
  • Example: If worst comes to worst, we can always stay with my parents.

(Keep It) On the Down Low (D.L.)

  • Meaning: Keep it a secret
  • Example: Can you keep this on the down low? I don’t want anyone else to know.

(That’s) Neither Here Nor There

  • Meaning: Something that is not relevant to the topic at hand
  • Example: Whether or not he likes sushi is neither here nor there. We’re talking about pizza.

(To) Put Words Into Someone’s Mouth

  • Meaning: To say or suggest that someone said something that they did not say
  • Example: Don’t put words into my mouth. I never said I was going to quit.

Short Sayings, Idioms and Phrases (A)

A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

  • Meaning: Fixing a problem early will save time and effort in the long run
  • Example: It’s just a small crack now, but if we don’t fix it, it will get worse. A stitch in time saves nine.

Act High and Mighty

  • Meaning: Behave arrogantly or superiorly
  • Example: Ever since he got promoted, he’s been acting high and mighty.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

  • Meaning: What you do is more important than what you say
  • Example: He keeps promising to help, but actions speak louder than words.

Age Before Beauty

  • Meaning: Letting someone older go first
  • Example: “After you.” “No, age before beauty.”

Aha Moment

  • Meaning: A moment of sudden realization or understanding
  • Example: When I finally figured out the answer, I had an aha moment.

Short Sayings, Idioms and Phrases (B)

Beyond the Shadow of a Doubt

  • Meaning: Completely certain
  • Example: Beyond the shadow of a doubt, he is the best candidate for the job.

Bucket List

  • Meaning: A list of things to do before you die
  • Example: Skydiving is definitely on my bucket list.

By All Means

  • Meaning: Definitely, certainly
  • Example: By all means, come to the party.

Short Sayings, Idioms and Phrases (C)

Call It a Night

  • Meaning: To end an activity and go to bed
  • Example: It’s getting late, let’s call it a night.

Claim to Fame

  • Meaning: What someone is known for
  • Example: Her claim to fame is that she won a gold medal in the Olympics.

Close, But No Cigar

  • Meaning: Almost successful, but not quite
  • Example: He came in second place, close, but no cigar.

Short Sayings, Idioms and Phrases (D,E)

Draw a Long Bow

  • Meaning: To exaggerate or stretch the truth
  • Example: I think he’s drawing a long bow when he says he caught a fish that big.

Every Man for Himself

  • Meaning: Everyone is looking out for themselves
  • Example: The competition was fierce, it was every man for himself.

Short Sayings, Idioms and Phrases (F)

List of short sayings, idioms and expressions (used in spoken English) that start with F.

Fed Up with

  • Meaning: Tired of, annoyed by something or someone.
  • Example: I am fed up with this traffic jam every morning.

For Crying Out Loud (excl.)

  • Meaning: Used to show frustration or annoyance.
  • Example: For crying out loud, can you please stop making noise?

FUBAR

  • Meaning: Messed up, chaotic situation.
  • Example: The meeting was a complete FUBAR.

Note: This is from World War II slang, “Fu**ed Up Beyond All Recognition,” and thus somewhat obscene, but often used in its acronym form. It’s also sometimes used to mean “drunk.”

Short Sayings, Idioms and Phrases (G)

List of short sayings, idioms and expressions (used in spoken English) that start with G.

Get A Word In Edgewise

  • Meaning: To finally be able to speak after someone else has been talking for a long time.
  • Example: I couldn’t get a word in edgewise during the meeting.

Get the Picture

  • Meaning: To understand the situation.
  • Example: I think you get the picture now.

Give ’em Hell (often excl.)

  • Meaning: To criticize someone severely.
  • Example: The boss gave us hell for not completing the project on time.

Note: This is very colloquial. A common use was in the campaign of US president Harry Truman, where the slogan “Give ’em hell, Harry!” was used.

Short Sayings, Idioms and Phrases (H)

List of short sayings, idioms and expressions (used in spoken English) that start with H.

Have Your Say

  • Meaning: To express your opinion.
  • Example: Everyone will have their say during the meeting.

He Who Laughs Last Laughs Best

  • Meaning: The person who is successful in the end is the one who is happy.
  • Example:  I may have lost the first round, but he who laughs last laughs best.

Heads Up!

  • Meaning: To warn someone of something.
  • Example: Heads up! The deadline for the project is approaching.

Hold One’s Peace

  • Meaning: To keep quiet, to not say anything.
  • Example: I decided to hold my peace during the argument.

Note: In traditional wedding ceremonies, the cleric will ask, “Is there anyone who knows of any reason this man and woman should not be married? Speak now, or forever hold your peace.

Short Sayings, Idioms and Phrases (I)

List of short sayings, idioms and expressions (used in spoken English) that start with I.

I Wouldn’t Put It Past (Someone)

  • Meaning: To believe that someone is capable of doing something.
  • Example: I wouldn’t put it past him to cheat on the exam.

If It Had Been a Snake, It Would Have Bitten Me

  • Meaning: To overlook something that is obvious.
  • Example: I couldn’t find the pen on my desk, but if it had been a snake, it would have bitten me.

If the Shoe Fits, Wear It

  • Meaning: If the criticism is true, accept it.
  • Example: A friend told me that I was being too critical of her, but I realized that if the shoe fits, wear it.

It Won’t Fly

  • Meaning: Something won’t work or be accepted.
  • Example:  I don’t think the boss will approve of your proposal. It just won’t fly.

Short Sayings, Idioms and Phrases (J, L)

List of short sayings, idioms and expressions (used in spoken English) that start with J and L.

Join the Club (excl.)

  • Meaning: To express that you have the same experience as someone else.
  • Example: I haven’t slept well for weeks. Join the club.

Last But Not Least

  • Meaning: The final thing to mention.
  • Example: Last but not least, we need to discuss the budget.

Leave Someone in the Lurch

  • Meaning: To leave someone in a difficult situation.
  • Example: The company left us in the lurch by not paying our salaries.

Look the Other Way

  • Meaning: To ignore something.
  • Example: The manager decided to look the other way when he saw the employee stealing.

Short Sayings, Idioms and Phrases (M)

List of short sayings, idioms and expressions (used in spoken English) that start with M.

Make Nice

  • Meaning: To be friendly to someone.
  • Example: We need to make nice with our new neighbors.

Much Of A Muchness

  • Meaning: Two things are very similar.
  • Example: Both laptops are much of a muchness in terms of performance.

Mum’s the Word

  • Meaning: To keep quiet, to not say anything.
  • Example: Mum’s the word about the surprise party.

Short Sayings, Idioms and Phrases (N)

List of short sayings, idioms, and expressions (used in spoken English) that start with N.

No Rhyme or Reason (to)

  • Meaning: Without any logical explanation.
  • Example: There was no rhyme or reason to his behavior.

No Shit, Sherlock

  • Meaning: To express that something is obvious.
  • Example: The sky is blue. No shit, Sherlock.

Not One’s Cup of Tea

  • Meaning: Something that is not enjoyable.
  • Example: Horror movies are not my cup of tea.

Not Sit Well with (Someone)

  • Meaning: To make someone uncomfortable or unhappy.
  • Example: The idea of working on weekends does not sit well with me.

Nothing to Write Home About

  • Meaning: Something that is not special or impressive.
  • Example: The food at the new restaurant was nothing to write home about.

Short Sayings, Idioms and Phrases (O)

List of short sayings, idioms and expressions (used in spoken English) that start with O.

On a Hiding to Nothing

  • Meaning: Trying to achieve something that is impossible.
  • Example: Trying to convince him to change his mind is on a hiding to nothing.

On the Down Low (D.L.)

  • Meaning: To keep something a secret.
  • Example: We need to keep this project on the down low.

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

  • Meaning: To be cautious after a bad experience.
  • Example: After the accident, he became once bitten, twice shy when it comes to driving.

Or Else (by itself)

  • Meaning: To express a consequence if something is not done.
  • Example: Finish the project by tomorrow or else.

Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire

  • Meaning: To go from a bad situation to a worse one.
  • Example: “I thought quitting my job would solve my problems, but now I have no income and bills to pay. I feel like I jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.”

Out of the Way (1)

  • Meaning: To move aside or to make room for someone or something.
  • Example: “Please move out of the way so I can pass through the crowded hallway.”

Out of the way (2)

  • Meaning: To be finished or completed.
  • Example: “I’m glad the project is out of the way, and we can move on to the next one.”

Out of the way (3)

  • Meaning: To be far away or distant.
  • Example: “The new restaurant is out of the way, but it’s worth the drive for their delicious food.”

Out of This World

  • Meaning: Something is amazing or extraordinary.
  • Example: “The view from the top of the mountain was out of this world.

Short Sayings, Idioms and Phrases (P)

List of short sayings, idioms and expressions (used in spoken English) that start with P.

Pep Talk

  • Meaning: To encourage or motivate someone.
  • Example: “Our coach gave us a pep talk before the big game to boost our confidence.”

Pull Out All the Stops

  • Meaning: To use all available resources or to make a great effort.
  • Example: “We need to pull out all the stops to finish this project on time.”

Put Up with (Something)

  • Meaning: To tolerate or endure something unpleasant.
  • Example: “I have to put up with my noisy neighbors playing loud music late at night.”

Short Sayings, Idioms and Phrases (Q, R)

List of short sayings, idioms, and expressions (used in spoken English) that start with Q and R.

Quote Unquote

  • Meaning: To indicate that a word or phrase is being quoted directly.
  • Example: “He said he was ‘busy,’ quote unquote, but I think he just didn’t want to help.”

Raise One’s Voice

  • Meaning: To speak louder or shout.
  • Example: “I had to raise my voice to be heard over the loud music.”

Short Sayings, Idioms and Phrases (S)

List of short sayings, idioms and expressions (used in spoken English) that start with S.

Shape Up or Ship Out

  • Meaning: To improve one’s behavior or performance or to leave if one cannot do so.
  • Example: “The boss told the employees to shape up or ship out if they couldn’t meet the new productivity standards.”

Sit Tight

  • Meaning: To wait patiently or to remain in a position.
  • Example: “The doctor told me to sit tight while he reviewed my test results.”

Sitting Pretty

  • Meaning: To be in a favorable or advantageous position.
  • Example: “After winning the lottery, she was sitting pretty with her newfound wealth.”

Speak of the Devil (and He Shall Appear)

  • Meaning: To mention someone and then have them appear unexpectedly.
  • Example: “I was just talking about my old friend, and then he walked into the room. Speak of the devil, and he shall appear.

Sweet Dreams!

  • Meaning: To wish someone a good night’s sleep.
  • Example: Sweet dreams! See you in the morning.”

Short Sayings, Idioms and Phrases (T)

List of short sayings, idioms and expressions (used in spoken English) that start with T.

Take It Easy

  • Meaning: To relax or to take things slowly.
  • Example: “I’m feeling stressed out. I need to take it easy and unwind.”

Tell It to the Marines

  • Meaning: To express disbelief or skepticism.
  • Example: “He told me he saw a UFO last night, but I told him to tell it to the marines.

That’s a Stretch

  • Meaning: To be a far-fetched or unlikely idea.
  • Example: You think that movie is a masterpiece? That’s a stretch, I thought it was pretty boring.

That’s All She Wrote

  • Meaning: Something is finished or over.
  • Example: “We’ve reached the end of the book, and that’s all she wrote.

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

  • Meaning: Even though things seem to be changing, some things remain the same.

The Whole Shebang

  • Meaning: Everything, the entire thing.
  • Example: “I’m going to buy the whole shebang, the car, the house, and the boat.”

There But For The Grace Of God Go I

  • Meaning: I could be in the same situation if I didn’t have good fortune.
  • Example: “I feel lucky to have a job during these tough economic times. There but for the grace of God go I.

Third Time’s a Charm

  • Meaning: After two failed attempts, the third one will be successful.
  • Example: “I failed my driver’s test twice, but they say third time’s a charm.

Through Thick and Thin

  • Meaning: Through good times and bad times, no matter what.
  • Example: “I promised to stand by my friend through thick and thin, and I intend to keep that promise.”

Throw Someone for a Loop

  • Meaning: To surprise or confuse someone.
  • Example: “The news of his resignation threw everyone for a loop.”

To each his own

  • Meaning: Everyone has their own preferences and opinions.
  • Example: “I don’t like horror movies, but to each his own.”

Trash Talk

  • Meaning: Insulting or boastful talk about someone or something.
  • Example: “The two boxers engaged in much trash talk before the fight.”

Turnabout Is Fair Play

  • Meaning: It’s fair to treat someone the way they treated you.
  • Example: “He cheated on me, so I cheated on him. Turnabout is fair play.”

Short Sayings, Idioms and Phrases (V, W)

List of short sayings, idioms and expressions (used in spoken English) that start with V and W.

Vale of Tears

  • Meaning: A period of sadness or difficulty.
  • Example: “After her husband’s death, she went through a vale of tears.”

Note: This is from the Book of Psalms in the Christian Bible.

We’ll Cross That Bridge When We Come to It

  • Meaning: We’ll deal with that problem when it arises.
  • Example: “I’m not sure how we’ll pay for college, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

What Do You Make of (Him)?

  • Meaning: What’s your impression of him?
  • Example: “I met your new boyfriend yesterday. What do you make of him?

What Goes Around Comes Around

  • Meaning: The consequences of one’s actions will eventually catch up to them.
  • Example: “He was always mean to people, and now he’s wondering why no one wants to be his friend. What goes around comes around.

When In Doubt, Leave It Out

  • Meaning: If you’re not sure about something, don’t include it.
  • Example: “I’m not sure if this information is accurate, so when in doubt, leave it out.

When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do

  • Meaning: When you’re in a new place, follow the customs and traditions of that place.
  • Example: “I don’t usually eat spicy food, but when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

When It Rains, It Pours

  • Meaning: When things go wrong, they tend to go wrong in a big way.
  • Example: “First, my car broke down, then I lost my job. When it rains, it pours.”

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

  • Meaning: If you’re determined enough, you can find a way to accomplish anything.
  • Example: “I know it’s a difficult task, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Worn to a Frazzle

  • Meaning: Tired or exhausted.
  • Example: “After working 12 hours a day for a week, I was worn to a frazzle.

Short Sayings, Idioms and Phrases (Y)

List of short sayings, idioms and expressions (used in spoken English) that start with Y.

You Can Say That Again!

  • Meaning: I agree with what you just said.
  • Example: “This pizza is delicious.” “You can say that again!

You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

  • Meaning: You can’t tell what something is like just by looking at its appearance.
  • Example: “I was surprised to find out that the quiet guy in the corner was a talented musician. You can’t judge a book by its cover.

Your Guess Is as Good as Mine

  • Meaning: I don’t know the answer.
  • Example: “When will the project be finished?” “Your guess is as good as mine.

Yours Truly

  • Meaning: Me, myself.
  • Example: “I wrote the letter myself, so it’s signed ‘Yours truly

Note: Normally, “Yours truly” is a way of introducing one’s signature on a letter.