100 Common Idioms That You’ll Use All the Time

What are common idioms in English you often use? It’s no secret – the English language can be a little frustrating at times. Okay, maybe more than a little frustrating. English can be “shake-your-fist-and-yell” frustrating. Just when a rule begins to make sense, it turns out it is only a rule part of the time. Almost as if the language has a strange sense of humor.

One thing seems certain – English appears to have fun. How can you tell? By the idioms – strange phrases used to say something or describe a situation. Idioms seldom say what we think they’re saying, so they add color – and sometimes laughter – to speech.

List of 100 common idioms

  • “Raining Cats and Dogs”
  • “Hotter than Hades”
  •  “Give a Bad Time”
  •  “Don’t Rain on My Parade”
  • “Busy as a One-Legged Man in a Butt-Kicking Contest”
  •  “Cut Corners”
  • “Bite the Bullet”
  • “Couldn’t Find His Backside with Both Hands”
  •  “Break a Leg”
  •  “Hang in There”
  • “The Last Straw”
  •  “Doesn’t know his backside from a tomato can”
  • “Don’t Burn Your Bridges”
  • “Snake in the Grass”
  •  “Cut the Mustard”
  •  “Beat Around the Bush”
  • “Wild Horses Couldn’t Drag Me Away”
  • “Dead As a Door Nail”
  • “I Don’t Give Tinker’s Damn”
  • “Like Two Peas in a Pod”
  •  “Square Peg in a Round Hole”
  •  “Hold Your Horses”
  •  “Walking On Eggshells”
  •  “The Elephant in the Room”
  •  “What Happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”
  •  “Cut the Cord”
  •  “Break the Ice”
  •  “In a Pig’s Eye!”
  • “You Can Say That Again!”
  • “Within an Inch of My Life”
  • “Two Left Feet”
  • “Tighter Than a Bull’s Butt at Fly-Time.”
  •  “Off the Hook”
  • “Let Off the Hook”
  • “Call it a Day”
  •  “Jump the Broom”
  • “Tie the Knot”
  •  “Kick the Can Down the Street”
  •  “Steal a Person’s Thunder”
  •  “Yell Like a Stuck Hog”
  • “Take a Rain Check”
  •  “You’re My BFF”
  •  “Funny as Hell”
  •  “On Pins and Needles”
  •  “Sharp as a Tack”
  • “Flat as a Pancake”
  •  “Smart as a Whip”
  •  “Bald as a Billiard Ball”
  •  “Actions Speak Louder Than Words”
  •  “Heart on Your Sleeve”
  • “Better Late than Never”
  •  “Softer than a Baby’s Butt”
  • “Get worn out”
  • “Go Ape”
  •  “Freak Out”
  •  “I’m going to bounce”
  •  “Better Safe Than Sorry”
  •  “I’d Better Get Going”
  •  “So Mad I Could Chew Nails and Spit Bullets”
  •  “Stop and Smell the Roses”
  •  “A Pretty Kettle of Fish”
  • “For crying in the dark”
  • “Cut Some Slack”
  • “Love At First Sight”
  • “As the Crow Flies”
  •  “The Best Things in Life are Free”
  •  “It’s a Dog’s Life”
  • “I’m pooped out”
  •  “A Clean Getaway”
  •  “So Clean You Can Eat Off It”
  • “Get it Out of My System”
  •  “Better Than Sex”
  •  “It’s Raining Harder than a Cow Wetting on a Flat Rock”
  • “She is so Cheap, She Squeezes a Quarter ’til the Eagle Screams.”
  • “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries.”
  •  “It’s on My Bucket List”
  •  “Kick the Bucket”
  • “Larger than Life”
  •  “Go Down in Flames”
  •  “Easy Does it”
  • “Against the Grain”
  •  “He led a double life”
  •  “It Spread Like Wildfire”
  •  “Hit the Roof”
  • “When All is Said and Done”
  •  “I am Spent”
  •  “Out Like a Light”
  • “As Poor as a Church Mouse”
  • “Tucker Out”
  •  “Well, Speak of the Devil”
  • “Wrap Your Head Around This”
  • “I am zonked”
  •  “I Have Bigger Fish to Fry”
  • “Didn’t Miss a Beat”
  •  “Run Like the Wind”
  • “By the skin of my teeth”
  •  “We’ll Cross That Bridge When We Come to it.”
  •  “Keep Your Eyes Open”
  • “So Poor I Couldn’t Jump Over a Nickel to Save a Dime”
  • “Costs an Arm and a Leg”

Common Idioms | Infographic 1

Common Idioms | Top 100 Idiomatic Expressions That You'll Use All the TimePinCommon Idioms with Meaning and Examples

In this section, we will discuss some of the most commonly used idioms in English, along with their meanings and examples. Idioms are figurative expressions or phrases that are used to convey a different meaning than their literal interpretation.

1. “Raining Cats and Dogs”

Heavy rain.

>>Example: “I can’t go out today, it’s raining cats and dogs outside.”

2. “Hotter than Hades”

Extremely hot weather.

>>Example: “It’s hotter than Hades outside, I’m melting!”

3. “Give a Bad Time”

To criticize someone or give them a hard time.

>>Example: “My boss gave me a bad time for being late to work.”

4. “Don’t Rain on My Parade”

Don’t ruin my plans or excitement.

>>Example: “I’m really excited for my vacation, so please don’t rain on my parade.”

5. “Busy as a One-Legged Man in a Butt-Kicking Contest”

Extremely busy.

>>Example: “I’m sorry, I can’t talk right now, I’m as busy as a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.”

6. “Cut Corners”

To do something in a hasty or incomplete manner.

>>Example: “I had to cut corners to finish the project on time.”

7. “Bite the Bullet”

To endure a difficult or unpleasant situation.

>>Example: “I had to bite the bullet and tell my boss the truth about the project’s failure.”

8. “Couldn’t Find His Backside with Both Hands”

To be completely clueless.

>>Example: “He couldn’t find his backside with both hands, he has no idea what he’s doing.”

9. “Break a Leg”

Good luck.

>>Example: “Break a leg on your audition, I know you’ll do great!”

10. “Hang in There”

 To persevere or keep going.

>>Example: “Just hang in there, things will get better soon.”

11. “The Last Straw”

The final annoyance or problem that causes someone to lose patience.

>>Example: “The last straw was when he forgot my birthday.”

12. “Doesn’t know his backside from a tomato can”

To be completely clueless.

>>Example: “He doesn’t know his backside from a tomato can, he has no idea what he’s doing.”

13. “Don’t Burn Your Bridges”

Don’t do anything that will ruin future opportunities or relationships.

>>Example: “Don’t burn your bridges with your boss, you never know when you might need a reference.”

14. “Snake in the Grass”

 A deceitful person.

>>Example: “I can’t trust him, he’s a snake in the grass.”

15. “Cut the Mustard”

 To perform well.

>>Example: “I’m not sure if he can cut the mustard for the job.”

16. “Beat Around the Bush”

To avoid talking about something directly.

>>Example: “Stop beating around the bush and tell me what you really think.”

17. “Wild Horses Couldn’t Drag Me Away”

I won’t miss it for anything.

>>Example: “I’m so excited for the concert, wild horses couldn’t drag me away.”

18. “Dead As a Door Nail”

Completely dead.

>>Example: “The battery is dead as a door nail, we need to replace it.”

19. “I Don’t Give Tinker’s Damn”

I don’t care.

>>Example: “I don’t give a tinker’s damn about what he thinks.”

20. “Like Two Peas in a Pod”

Very similar.

>>Example: “They’re like two peas in a pod, they have the same personality.”

21. “Square Peg in a Round Hole”

Someone who doesn’t fit in.

>>Example: “He’s a square peg in a round hole, he doesn’t belong in this company.”

22. “Hold Your Horses”

To wait.

>>Example: “Hold your horses, we’re not ready to leave yet.”

23. “Walking On Eggshells”

To be cautious or careful.

>>Example: “I’m walking on eggshells around my boss, I don’t want to upset him.”

24. “The Elephant in the Room”

A problem that everyone knows about but no one wants to talk about.

>>Example: “The elephant in the room is that we’re running out of money.”

25. “What Happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”

What happens here, stays here.

>>Example: “I can’t tell you about my trip, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”

26. “Cut the Cord”

To end a relationship or dependency, usually suddenly or decisively.

>>Example: “After years of working for someone else, I decided to cut the cord and start my own business.”

27. “Break the Ice”

To initiate a conversation or to make a situation more comfortable by breaking the tension.

>>Example: “I tried to break the ice with my new neighbor by asking about their pets.”

28. “In a Pig’s Eye!”

An expression of disbelief or rejection.

>>Example: “If you think I’m going to lend you money again, you can say that you’ll pay me back in a pig’s eye!”

29. “You Can Say That Again!”

An expression of agreement or affirmation.

>>Example: “This pizza is delicious!”

“You can say that again!”

30. “Within an Inch of My Life”

Narrowly escaping danger or harm. 

31. “Two Left Feet”

Being clumsy or uncoordinated

>>Example: “I can’t dance, I have two left feet.”

32. “Tighter Than a Bull’s Butt at Fly-Time.”

Being very tight or stingy with money.

>>Example: “My boss is tighter than a bull’s butt at fly-time. He won’t even pay for a company lunch.”

33. “Off the Hook”

Being freed from blame or responsibility. 

>>Example: “I thought I was going to get in trouble for breaking the vase, but my sister took the blame and let me off the hook.”

34. “Let Off the Hook”

 To release someone from a responsibility, obligation, or punishment, or to allow someone to avoid a difficult or unpleasant situation.

>>Example: The police let the suspect off the hook due to lack of evidence.

35. “Call it a Day”

 To end work for the day

>>Example: “We’ve been working on this project for hours. Let’s call it a day and start fresh tomorrow.”

36. “Jump the Broom”

To get married

>>Example: “My grandparents jumped the broom after they eloped.”

37. “Tie the Knot”

 To get married.

>>Example: “My sister is tying the knot next month.”

38. “Kick the Can Down the Street”

To postpone a decision or action.

>>Example: “We can’t just keep kicking the can down the street. We need to address the issue and find a solution.”

39. “Steal a Person’s Thunder”

 To take credit for someone else’s accomplishments or ideas

>>Example: “Stealing my idea and presenting it as his own is like trying to steal my thunder.”

40. “Yell Like a Stuck Hog”

To yell loudly and uncontrollably.

>>Example: “When my team won the championship, we all yelled like stuck hogs in celebration.”

41. “Take a Rain Check”

 To postpone a planned event or meeting to a later time.

>>Example: “I can’t make it to the concert tonight, can I take a rain check and go with you next week?”

42. “You’re My BFF”

An acronym for “Best Friends Forever,” used to express a close friendship.

>>Example: “I’ve known my best friend since kindergarten, she’s my BFF.”

43. “Funny as Hell”

Very funny or amusing.

>>Example: “The comedian’s jokes were funny as hell, I laughed the whole time.”

44. “On Pins and Needles”

Feeling nervous or anxious.

>>Example: “I was on pins and needles waiting for the test results to come back.”

45. “Sharp as a Tack”

Very intelligent or quick-witted.

>>Example: “My grandmother is 90 years old but still sharp as a tack.”

46. “Flat as a Pancake”

Completely flat or level.

>>Example: “The land in the Midwest is flat as a pancake, you can see for miles.”

47. “Smart as a Whip”

Very intelligent or quick-witted.

>> Example: “My little sister is only 12 but she’s smart as a whip, she always gets straight A’s.”

48. “Bald as a Billiard Ball”

 Completely bald or hairless.

>> Example: “My grandfather’s head is as bald as a billiard ball, he hasn’t had hair in years.”

49. “Actions Speak Louder Than Words”

What someone does is more important than what they say. 

>> Example: “She promised to help me, but her actions speak louder than words and she hasn’t done anything yet.”

50. “Heart on Your Sleeve”

People who wear their hearts on their sleeves fall in love easily.

>> Example: “Even though he was nervous, he wore his heart on his sleeve and told her how he felt.”

51. “Better Late than Never”

 It’s better to do something late than to never do it at all

>>Example: “I know I’m late to the party, but I still wanted to come. Better late than never, right?”

52. “Softer than a Baby’s Butt”

Very soft or smooth.

>>Example: “The fabric of this blanket is softer than a baby’s butt, it feels so cozy.”

53. “Get worn out”

To become exhausted from physical or mental exertion.

>>Example: “After running a marathon, I was completely worn out and needed to rest.”

54. “Go Ape”

To become very excited or enthusiastic.

>>Example: “When she heard the news, she went ape and started jumping up and down with excitement.”

55. “Freak Out”

To become extremely upset or anxious.

>>Example: “I freaked out when I realized I lost my phone, I couldn’t remember where I left it.”

56. “I’m going to bounce”

To leave or depart from a place.

>>Example: “It’s getting late, I’m going to bounce and head home.”

57. “Better Safe Than Sorry”

It’s better to take precautions and be safe than to risk something bad happening.

>>Example: “I always wear my seatbelt when driving, better safe than sorry.”

58. “I’d Better Get Going”

An expression used when someone needs to leave or depart from a place.

>>Example: “Thanks for having me over, but I’d better get going before it gets too late.”

59. “So Mad I Could Chew Nails and Spit Bullets”

 To be very angry or enraged. 

>>Example: “When I found out that someone had stolen my car, I was so mad I could chew nails and spit bullets.”

60. “Stop and Smell the Roses”

To take time to appreciate and enjoy the simple things in life.

>>Example: “I know we’re busy, but let’s take a moment to stop and smell the roses on this beautiful day.”

61. “A Pretty Kettle of Fish”

A difficult or complicated situation. 

62. “For crying in the dark”

An expression of surprise or disbelief.

>>Example: “For crying in the dark, I can’t believe how expensive these concert tickets are!”

63. “Cut Some Slack”

 To give someone a break or show leniency.

>>Example: “Can you cut me some slack and give me a few more days to finish the project?”

64. “Love At First Sight”

To fall in love with someone immediately upon meeting them.

>>Example: “When I met my husband, it was love at first sight.

65. “As the Crow Flies”

The shortest distance between two points.

>>Example: “The town is only 20 miles away as the crow flies, but it takes an hour to drive there because of the winding roads.”

66. “The Best Things in Life are Free”

The most valuable things in life, such as love and happiness, cannot be bought with money.

>>Example: “Watching a beautiful sunset with loved ones reminds us that the best things in life are free.”

67. “It’s a Dog’s Life”

A difficult or unpleasant life.

>>Example: “Working two jobs and going to school full-time is a dog’s life, but it will be worth it in the end.”

68. “I’m pooped out”

To be exhausted or very tired.

>>Example: “After hiking all day, I’m pooped out and ready to go to bed.”

69. “A Clean Getaway”

To escape without being caught or detected.

>>Example: “The thief made a clean getaway before the police arrived.”

70. “So Clean You Can Eat Off It”

 Very clean or spotless.

>>Example: “My mom’s house is always so clean you could eat off the floors.”

71. “Get it Out of My System”

To do something to get rid of a strong feeling or desire.

>>Example: “After a long day at work, I like to go for a run to get my frustrations out of my system.”

72. “Better Than Sex”

An expression used to describe something that is extremely enjoyable or satisfying.

>>Example: “This chocolate cake is better than sex, it’s so rich and delicious.”

73. “It’s Raining Harder than a Cow Wetting on a Flat Rock”

An expression used to describe heavy rainfall.

>>Example: “We can’t go outside, it’s raining harder than a cow wetting on a flat rock!”

74. “She is so Cheap, She Squeezes a Quarter ’til the Eagle Screams.”

An expression used to describe someone who is very frugal or stingy with their money.

75. “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries.”

An expression used to describe life as being easy or carefree.

>>Example: “I know things are tough right now, but remember, life is just a bowl of cherries.”

76. “It’s on My Bucket List”

Something someone wants to do before they die.

>>Example: “I’ve always wanted to go skydiving, it’s on my bucket list.”

77. “Kick the Bucket”

Die.

>>Example: “I heard that old Mr. Johnson finally kicked the bucket last night. “

78. “Larger than Life”

Someone or something impressive or remarkable.

>>Example: “The actor’s larger than life personality made him a fan favorite.”

79. “Go Down in Flames”

To fail spectacularly or embarrassingly. 

>>Example: “If we don’t come up with a better strategy, our business will go down in flames.”

80. “Easy Does it”

 To take things slowly and carefully.

>>Example: “When you’re carrying that vase, easy does it, we don’t want it to break.”

81. “Against the Grain”

 To go against the norm or do something differently than what is expected. 

>> Example: “I know it’s against the grain to quit my job without having another lined up, but I need a change.”

82. “He led a double life”

To live two separate and distinct lives, often with one being kept secret.

83. “It Spread Like Wildfire”

To rapidly and uncontrollably spread, often referring to rumors or news.

>>Example: “Once the news of the scandal broke, it spread like wildfire across social media.”

84. “Hit the Roof”

To become extremely angry or upset.

>>Example: “When my son crashed the car, my husband hit the roof and started yelling.”

85. “When All is Said and Done”

After everything is considered or taken into account.

>>Example: “When all is said and done, I think we made the right decision.”

86. “I am Spent”

To be physically or emotionally exhausted.

>>Example: “After running a marathon, I am completely spent and need to rest.”

87. “Out Like a Light”

 To fall asleep quickly and deeply.

>>Example: “As soon as my head hit the pillow, I was out like a light.”

88. “As Poor as a Church Mouse”

 To be extremely poor or lacking in money. 

>>Example: “Despite working hard, he was still as poor as a church mouse and struggled to make ends meet.”

89. “Tucker Out”

 To exhaust or wear out.

>>Example: “Playing with my kids all day really tuckered me out

90. “Well, Speak of the Devil”

 An expression is used when someone appears just as they are being talked about.

>>Example: “We were just talking about you, well speak of the devil!”

91. “Wrap Your Head Around This”

To understand or comprehend something that is difficult or complex.

>>Example: “It took me a while to wrap my head around the concept of quantum physics.”

92. “I am zonked”

To be extremely tired or worn out.

>>Example: “After working a double shift, I am completely zonked and need to go to bed.”

93. “I Have Bigger Fish to Fry”

To have more important things to do or worry about. 

>>Example: “I can’t help you with your problem right now because I have bigger fish to fry.”

94. “Didn’t Miss a Beat”

To continue without interruption or hesitation.

>>Example: “Even though the power went out, the band didn’t miss a beat and kept playing.”

95. “Run Like the Wind”

To run very fast or quickly.

>>Example: “I ran like the wind to get home before the rain started.”

96. “By the skin of my teeth”

 To barely succeed or avoid failure.

>>Example: “I passed my final exam by the skin of my teeth.

97. “We’ll Cross That Bridge When We Come to it.”

To deal with a problem or issue when it arises, rather than worrying about it in advance. 

>>Example: “I’m not sure how we’ll finish this project on time, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

98. “Keep Your Eyes Open”

To be aware and alert to potential dangers or opportunities.

>>Example: “Keep your eyes open for any signs of danger while you’re hiking in the woods.”

99. “So Poor I Couldn’t Jump Over a Nickel to Save a Dime”

An expression used to describe extreme poverty.

>>Example: “I want to buy that new video game, but I’m so poor I couldn’t jump over a nickel to save a dime.”

100. “Costs an Arm and a Leg”

Very expensive.

>>Example: “I would love to buy that new car, but it costs an arm and a leg”

Common Idioms | Infographic

Common Idioms | Infographic 2

Common Idioms | Top 100 Idiomatic Expressions That You'll Use All the TimePin

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