2000+ Common English Idioms and Their Meanings

An idiom is a phrase or an expression that has a figurative, or sometimes literal, meaning. The following is an extensive list of 2000 English Idioms with their meanings.

Table of Contents

Most Popular English Idioms


2000+ Common English Idioms and Their Meanings 2

Deadline idioms

List of deadline idioms in English:

  • Burn the Midnight Oil: To work late into the night
  • Race Against Time: To rush to meet a deadline, to be forced to do something very quickly

Meeting idioms

List of meeting idioms in English:

  • Hit the Nail on the Head: To be absolutely correct (said of an utterance)
  • Take the Edge Off (of Something): To slightly improve something negative

Decision idioms

List of common English idioms for making decisions:

  • (Give Someone) Carte Blanche: Allow someone complete freedom; entrust a decision to someone
  • All Things Being Equal: In the event that all aspects of a situation remain the same
  • Up for Grabs: Available
  • On the Bubble: One of a group that may be selected for the last spot in a competition
  • All Told: With everything taken into consideration
  • All Things Considered: Taking all factors into consideration
  • Up in the Air: Not yet decided
  • Raise Red Flags: Warn of trouble ahead
  • Rubber-Stamp (v.): Approve something without consideration, as a formality
  • Take It or Leave It (command): You must decide now whether you will accept this proposal
  • Out of the Loop: Not part of a group that’s kept informed about something
  • On the Same Page: Understanding a situation in the same way
  • Hobson’s Choice: A choice among bad options
  • Flip-Flop (v. or n.): To vacillate between two choices, to be indecisive
  • Fish or Cut Bait (usually an exclamation): Make a decision or give someone else a chance
  • (Have One’s) Back Against the Wall: Have few choices, be cornered

Jobs idioms

List of useful job idioms in English:

  • Learn the Ropes: Become more familiar with a job or field of endeavor; be trained
  • Get the Sack, Be Sacked: To be fired
  • Off the Hook: Free from blame or responsibility to do something
  • Hanging by a Thread: In great danger of elimination or failure
  • Burn the Candle at Both Ends: Work very long hours
  • Rank and File: The ordinary members of an organization
  • Pink Slip: A layoff notice; loss of a job, typically because of layoffs
  • Out of Work: Unemployed
  • Move Up in the World: Become more successful
  • Give Someone The Old Heave-Ho: Fire someone, remove someone from a group or team
  • All In A Day’s Work (Excl.): That’s what I’m here for; although I have accomplished something, it is part of what I’m expected to do
  • Heads Will Roll (Are Going to Roll): People will be fired

Finance idioms

List of finance idioms in English:

  • Banner Year: A year marked by strong successes
  • In the Red: Losing money; (of a market index) below a specified starting point
  • Nest Egg: Retirement savings; wealth saved for a future purpose
  • Crunch the Numbers: Do calculations before making a decision or prediction
  • You Can Take It to the Bank: I absolutely guarantee this
  • Have Skin in the Game: Be risking something in an undertaking
  • Poison Pill: A provision or feature added to a measure or an entity to make it less attractive, an undesirable add-on

Money idioms

List of important money idioms in English:

  • Nickel and Dime: To negotiate over very small sums; to try to get a better financial deal, in a negative way
  • A Penny Saved is A Penny Earned: Every small amount helps to build one’s savings
  • Pinch Pennies: To be careful with money, to be thrify
  • Pretty Penny: A lot of money; too much money (when referring to the cost of something)
  • Sticker Shock: Surprise at the high price of something
  • Cash-Strapped: In need of money
  • For a Song: At very low cost
  • Blank Check: Permission to spend or do whatever one wishes; carte blanche
  • Turn on a Dime: Quickly reverse direction or position
  • Nice Chunk of Change: A large amount of money
  • Give One’s Two Cents (That’s My Two Cents): Offer an opinion, suggest something
  • Honor System: A system of payments that relies on the honesty of those paying
  • Bang for Your Buck: Value for your money
  • Make Ends Meet: Have enough money to cover basic expenses
  • In For a Penny, In for a Pound: Committed to something even though the risks are increasing
  • Double-Dip: Improperly get income from two different sources
  • Feather One’s (Own) Nest: Use one’s influence or power improperly for financial gain
  • Take a Flyer: To take a rise; especially to make a speculative investment
  • Two a Penny: Ordinary, inexpensive
  • Ten a Penny: Ordinary, inexpensive
  • Pay Through the Nose (For Something): Pay a large amount of money
  • A Penny for Your Thoughts: What are you thinking?
  • Penny-Pinching: Frugal, avoiding expenses whenever possible
  • Pick Up the Tab: To pay a bill presented to a group, especially in a restaurant or bar
  • Bang for Your Buck: Value for money
  • Pass the Buck: Transfer a problem to someone else
  • (To Go) From Rags To Riches: Earn a fortune after being poor early in life
  • Flat Broke: Having no money at all
  • Deep Pockets: The new owner has deep pockets, so fans are hoping the football team will improve next year with new players
  • (A) Day Late and a Dollar Short: Too little, too late; both late and insufficient
  • (A) Dime a Dozen: Very cheap; easily obtained
  • Bet One’s Bottom Dollar (On Something): Be certain that something will happen
  • And Change: And an additional amount of money that’s less than the next round number
  • A Day Late And A Dollar Short: Too delayed and insignificant to have much effect

Sales and Marketing idioms

List of common sale and marketing idioms in English:

  • All It’s Cracked Up To Be: As good as claims or reputation would suggest
  • Deliver the Goods: Provide what is expected
  • In the Pipeline: Being prepared for the marketplace, being worked on
  • Out the Door: With everything included (said of a price)
  • Price Yourself Out of the Market: Try to sell goods or services at such a high price that nobody buys them.
  • Sell (Someone) a Bill of Goods: Trick someone; be deceptive
  • Selling Point: An attractive feature of something for sale
  • Sold On (Something): Convinced of something
  • TLC: Tender Loving Care

Negotiation idioms

List of English idioms for business negotiation:

  • Agreement In Principle: In a negotiation, an agreement in which not all details have been worked out
  • An Offer One Can’t Refuse: An extremely attractive offer
  • Back And Forth: Dialogue, negotiations
  • Come to Terms With (Something): Feel acceptance toward something bad that has happened
  • Draw a Line in the Sand: Issue an ultimatum; specify an absolute limit in a conflict
  • Drive a Hard Bargain: To negotiate effectively
  • Drive a Wedge Between: Try to split factions of a united group by introducing an issue on which they disagree
  • Give and Take: Negotiations, the process of compromise
  • Stand One’s Ground: Refuse to back down; insist on one’s position
  • Sweeten the Deal: Add something to an offer during a negotiation
  • Trial Balloon: A test of someone’s or the public’s reaction
  • Big Deal: An important event or accomplishment
  • Yes Man: The idiom “yes man” refers to a person who always agrees with others, especially with his or her boss.

Problems idioms

List of English idioms for problems and difficulties:

  • (An) Uphill Climb: A difficult process
  • (The) Last Straw: A problem or insult that finally demands a response
  • Above Water: Not in extreme difficulty. Especially said of finances
  • Come Out in the Wash: To be resolved with no lasting negative effect
  • Cut Corners: Economize by reducing quality; take shortcuts
  • In a Jam: In need of help, in a difficult spot
  • Cut the Gordian Knot: To solve a complex problem in a simple way
  • Get To Grips With: To begin to understand and deal with something
  • Head (Go) South: Decline, get worse
  • In Hot Water: In need of help; in trouble
  • Red Tape: Bureaucracy; difficult bureaucratic or governmental requirements
  • Start with a Clean Slate: To start (something) again with a fresh beginning; to work on a problem without thinking about what has been done before
  • Stumbling Block: An obstacle, physical or abstract
  • Think Outside the Box: Try to solve a problem in an original way; think creatively
  • Finger-Pointing: Blame; a situation within a group where each member attempts to blame others

Review idioms

List of review idioms in English:

  • Mind One’s P’s and Q’s: Be attentive to details; be on one’s best behavior
  • All Over The Place: Everywhere; in many different locations
  • Read Between the Lines: Perceive what is not explicitly stated
  • Across The Board: In relation to all categories, for everyone
  • All Over The Board: Everywhere, in many different locations
  • All Over The Map: Everywhere; in many different locations

Schedule idioms

List of essential schedule idioms in English:

  • Against The Clock: Forced to hurry to meet a deadline
  • Busman’s Holiday (UK): A working vacation
  • Burn the Midnight Oil: Working late into the night
  • Pencil Something In: Make tentative arrangements
  • Back to the Drawing Board: Forced to begin something again
  • Eleventh Hour: The last minute
  • In the Works: Under development; coming soon
  • (Do Something) By the Book: According to established procedure
  • Cut It Fine: To do something at the last moment
  • After The Fact: Too late; after something is completed or finalized
  • Sit On (Something): Delay revealing or acting on something
  • Back to the Salt Mines: It’s time for me (us) to go back to work
  • Take Five (Ten): Take a short break of five (ten) minutes
  • Thank God It’s Friday (TGIF): Let’s be happy that the workweek is over!
  • Kick the Can Down the Road: Postpone an important decision
  • (In the) Fullness of Time: Eventually, when appropriate; after you wait patiently
  • Call It a Day: Decide that one has worked enough on something for the day
  • Burn the Candle at Both Ends: To work too hard, with possible bad consequences for one’s health
  • Sneak Peek: A sneak peek is an opportunity to view something in advance of its official opening or debut
  • Ahead Of The Game: Making faster progress than anticipated; ahead of schedule
  • Crunch Time: A period of high pressure when one has to work hard to finish something
  • Business as Usual: A normal situation (whether related to business or not), typically restored after some change
  • You Snooze, You Lose: If you delay or are not alert, you will miss opportunities
  • On the Spur of the Moment: Without advance planning, spontaneously
  • Elevator Pitch: A brief presentation of an idea, one short enough to be delivered in an elevator
  • Back to Square One: Forced to begin something again
  • Right-Hand Man: Chief assistant
  • Ahead Of One’s Time: Offering ideas not yet in general circulation; highly creative
  • Think Tank: A group of experts engaged in ongoing studies of a particular subject; a policy study group

Leadership idioms

List of commonly used leadership idioms in English:

  • (The) Man: The boss; authority in general
  • Big Picture: A wide perspective; a broad view of something
  • Call the Shots: Make the important decisions in an organization
  • Changing of the Guard: A change in leadership at an organization
  • Movers and Shakers: Influential people, especially in a particular field
  • On Point: Good, well done, effective
  • Cut Someone Some Slack: Avoid treating someone strictly or severely
  • Light a Fire Under Someone: Inspire someone to work very hard
  • Rake Someone Over the Coals: Scold severely
  • Put Someone on the Spot: Force someone to answer a question or make a decision immediately
  • Ahead Of The Curve: Offering ideas not yet in general circulation; highly creative
  • Cut to the Chase: Get to the point; explain the most important part of something quickly; skip the preliminaries
  • Da Man (Slang): An accomplished or skillful person. Generally used in the compliment “”You da man!””
  • The Powers That Be: People in charge, often used when the speaker does not want to identify them.
  • After The Lord Mayor’s Show (UK): Anticlimactic; occurring after something impressive
  • (To Be at Someone’s) Beck And Call: To be under someone’s total command, to be forced to fulfill someone’s orders or whims
  • Too Many Chiefs and Not Enough Indians: Everyone wants to be a leader, and no one wants to do the actual work
  • (To) Cross All Your T’s And Dot All Your I’s: To take care of every detail, including the minor ones
  • A Little from Column A, a Little from Column B: A course of action drawing on several different ideas or possibilities

PEOPLE IDIOMS | English Idioms

2000+ Common English Idioms and Their Meanings 3

Appearance idioms

List of common appearance idioms in English:

  • (Not a) Spring Chicken: (No longer) young
  • All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go: Prepared (with clothing or otherwise) for an event that does not occur
  • All Fur Coat And No Knickers: Superficially attractive, physically or otherwise
  • Beauty Is Only Skin Deep: External appearance is a superficial basis for judging someone
  • Clean Up Nicely: Look good when one is dressed up. Usually said of women
  • Dead ringer: Very similar in appearance
  • Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover: Don’t be deceived by looks; don’t rely on looks when judging someone or something
  • Knockout: An extremely beautiful woman
  • Put one’s Face On: Apply cosmetics

Body idioms

List of commonly used body idioms and face idioms in English:

Eyes Idioms

  • A Sight for Sore Eyes: Someone that you’re pleased to see
  • All Eyes And Ears: Attentive
  • All Eyes Are On: Watching alertly or attentively. Having prominent eyes. Everyone is paying attention to
  • An Eye for an Eye: Justice in which reparation or vengeance exactly matches the harm caused to the victim
  • Catch Someone’s Eye: Attract someone’s attention
  • Cry Your Eyes Out: Cry hard for a very long time
  • Keep an Eye On: To keep an eye on something or someone is to watch it periodically, to keep it under surveillance.
  • Keep an Eye Peeled: Be observant; watch out for something
  • See Eye to Eye: To concur, agree
  • See Something Out of the Corner of Your Eye: Use peripheral vision
  • Sight for Sore Eyes: A sight that makes you happy
  • To be the Apple of Someone’s Eye: To be loved and treasured by someone
  • Turn a Blind Eye: (to) Choose not to notice something
  • Wandering Eye: A tendency to look at and desire women or men other than one’s committed romantic partner
  • Black Eye: A mark of shame
  • Blue Eyed Boy: A person who is a favorite of those in authority; someone whose mistakes are forgiven
  • Baby Blues: Blue eyes.

Ears Idioms

  • All Ears: Listening willingly, waiting for an explanation
  • Give Someone an Earful: angrily express an opinion to someone
  • I’m All Ears: You have my attention, so you should talk
  • Lend an Ear: Listen
  • Play It by Ear: To respond to circumstances instead of having a fixed plan
  • That’s Music to My Ears: I am very happy to hear this.
  • The Walls Have Ears We: may be overheard; be careful what you say
  • Wet Behind the Ears: inexperienced, immature, new to something

Nose Idioms

  • Cut Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face: To act in a proud way that ultimately damages your own cause
  • Have Your Nose in the Air: Have a snobbish or disdainful attitude
  • It’s No Skin off My (Your) Nose (Back): The outcome will not affect me personally
  • Keep Your Nose Clean: Avoid trouble or situations that compromise one’e honesty
  • Keeping One’s Nose to the Grindstone: Working hard on something repetitive or tedious
  • On the Nose: Precisely, at an exact time
  • Powder One’s Nose: To use the restroom (lavatory). This is used by women
  • Right Under (One’s) Nose: In an obvious location, yet overlooked
  • Rub Someone’s Nose in (Something): Humiliate someone by repeating and criticizing his or her mistake
  • Stick Your Nose into Something: Intrude into something that is not your affair
  • Have a Nose for (Something): To have natural ability at something, a talent for finding something

Leg Idioms

  • The Story Has Legs: People are continuing to pay attention to the story.
  • To Pay an Arm and a Leg: A very high cost
  • To Pull Someone’s Leg: Lie playfully
  • Break a Leg: Good luck! This is used for a stage performer-or for anyone else who is about to give some kind of a performance, such as an important speech
  • A Leg Up: An advantage, a boost

Teeth Idioms

  • By the Skin of One’s Teeth: Barely escaping disaster
  • Cut Your Teeth on Something: To learn basic skills in a field
  • Grind One’s Teeth: Be very annoyed or angry about something without being able to say anything about it.
  • Armed to the Teeth: Carrying many weapons

Mouth Idioms

  • All Mouth And No Trousers: Superficial, engaging in empty, boastful talk, but not of real substance
  • Bad Taste In One’s Mouth: Unease, a feeling that something unspecified is wrong in a situation
  • Butter Wouldn’t Melt in (Someone’s): Mouth This person is cool in manner, prim and proper
  • By Word of Mouth: Via personal communications rather than written media
  • Put Your Foot In Your Mouth: Say something that you immediately regret
  • Run off at the Mouth: Talk a lot about unimportant things, talk incoherently
  • A Hair’s Breadth: A very small distance or amount

Heart Idioms

  • After One’s Own Heart: Similar in a pleasing way
  • Bare One’s Heart (Soul): To confess one’s deepest secrets
  • Change of Heart: A change in one’s opinion or outlook
  • Eat Your Heart Out!: (excl.) Go ahead, be jealous.
  • Follow Your Heart: Rely on one’s deeper feelings and instincts when making a decision
  • From the Bottom of One’s Heart: Sincerely and with deep feeling
  • In a Heartbeat: Immediately. This is especially used in hypothetical situations
  • Touch One’s Heart: Affect someone emotionally, be touching

Heels Idioms

  • Achilles’ Heel: The weak point of an otherwise powerful person or organization
  • (Fall) Head Over Heels: (To become) infatuated, to fall suddenly in love
  • Cool Your Heels: Wait
  • Drag One’s Feet (or Heels): To do something reluctantly and slowly
  • Hot on the Heels (of): In close pursuit

Hands Idioms

  • Hands are Tied: You are prevented from doing something. It is not within your power
  • Hands Down: Undoubtedly
  • Get One’s Hands Dirty: To do the unpleasant parts of a job
  • Know (Something) Like the Back of One’s Hand: To be very familiar with something, especially an area
  • Right-Hand Man: Chief assistant
  • Wash Your Hands of (Something): Decline to take further responsibility; refuse to be involved with something anymore

Thumbs Idioms

  • All Thumbs: Clumsy
  • Have Your Thumb Up Your Ass: Have nothing to do
  • Rule of Thumb: A general principle or guideline, not a specific formula
  • Thumbs-Up: Approval

Neck Idioms

  • Neck and Neck: Very close in a competition, with neither of two entities clearly in the lead
  • Pain in the Ass; Pain in the Butt;
  • Stiff-Necked: Stubborn; excessively formal
  • Neck of the Woods: A region, especially one’s home region
  • Up to One’s Neck: Nearly overwhelmed
  • Pain in the Neck: Someone or something making your life difficult

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2000+ Common English Idioms and Their Meanings 4

Arm Idioms

  • Arm Candy: An attractive woman accompanying a powerful or famous man at a social event
  • Keep Someone at Arm’s Length: Avoid close interaction or cooperation

Feet Idioms

  • Drag Your Feet: Do something very reluctantly; delay doing something
  • Find Your Feet: To adjust to a new place or situation
  • Jump in with Both Feet: Begin a new experience wholeheartedly
  • To Get Cold Feet: To experience reluctance or fear
  • Vote with One’s Feet: To physically depart from something as a way of showing disapproval
  • Have a Lead Foot: A tendency to drive very fast
  • On the Back Foot: At a disadvantage
  • Put Your Foot Down: Use your authority to stop negative behavior

Belly Idioms

  • Fire in the Belly: strong ambition
  • Belly Laugh: Loud, hearty laughter

Head Idioms

  • Bury (Hide) One’s Head In the Sand: Ignoring something that’s obviously wrong, not facing reality
  • Head and Shoulders: Above Far superior to
  • Head Start: An advantage over everyone else
  • Heads Up (excl.): Get ready! Be prepared
  • Heads Will Roll (Are Going to Roll): People will be fired
  • Off the Top of My Head: Guessing or estimating without full information
  • Over One’s Head: In a situation where one is overwhelmed with tasks
  • Rear Its Ugly Head (said of a problem or something unpleasant): Appear, be revealed
  • Turn Something on Its Head: Reverse something, cause something to be done in a new way
  • Use One’s Head: To think, to have common sense
  • Tongue-in-Cheek: Said ironically; not meant to be taken seriously
  • Shoulder A Weight Off Your Shoulders: You no longer worry about something or deal with something difficult
  • Have a Chip on One’s Shoulder: To harbor resentment; to have an angry attitude
  • Give Someone the Cold Shoulder: act hostile toward someone; to ignore, snub

Face Idioms

  • Put the Best Face On (Something): Emphasize the positive aspects of a bad situation
  • Rub (Something) in Someone’s Face: Humiliate someone by repeating and criticizing his or her mistake
  • Until You’re Blue in the Face: For a long time with no results

Finger Idioms

  • Finger-Pointing: Blame; a situation within a group where each member attempts to blame others
  • Not Lift a Finger: Do nothing to help
  • Point the Finger: At Blame (someone)
  • Someone’s Fingerprints Are All Over (Something): Someone’s influence is evident
  • Work One’s Fingers to the Bone: Work very hard over an extended period

Chin Idioms

  • Chin Up/ Keep Your Chin Up: Cheer up; try to be cheerful and strong
  • Take It on The Chin: Be attacked; suffer an attack

Lip Idioms

  • Give Lip Service to: Talk about supporting something without taking any concrete action
  • Keep a Stiff Upper Lip: Control one’s emotions; not give in to fear or grief
  • Tight-Lipped: secretive, unwilling to explain something
  • Zip One’s Lip: Be quiet

Children and Babies idioms

List of useful children and babies idioms in English:

  • (Having a) Bun in the Oven: Pregnant
  • Babe In Arms: A baby being carried
  • Babe In The Woods: An innocent, naïve person
  • Baby Boomer: A person born in the years following World War II, when there was a temporary marked increase in the birth rate
  • Born on The Wrong Side of the Blanket: Born to parents who were not married
  • Boys will be Boys: A phrase of resignation used when boys get into trouble or are stereotypically reckless or rowdy
  • Child’s Play: A very easy task
  • Chip off the Old Block: Someone who resembles a direct ancestor, usually the father
  • Like a Kid in a Candy Store: To be so excited about one’s surroundings that one acts in a childlike or silly way
  • Sleep Like a Baby: To experience a very deep and restful sleep; to sleep soundly
  • Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water: To discard something valuable or important while disposing of something worthless
  • Wet Behind the Ears: Inexperienced, immature, new to something

Clothes idioms

List of common clothes idioms in English:

  • All Talk and No Trousers: Prone to empty boasts
  • All The Rage: Very fashionable
  • At the Drop of a Hat: Spontaneously, suddenly
  • Bundle Up: Put on lots of warm clothing
  • Dyed-In-The-Wool (adj.): Consistent in an affiliation or opinion over a long period; inveterate
  • Excused Boots: Allowed to avoid mandatory tasks
  • Fashion-Forward: Tending to adopt new styles quickly
  • Feather in One’s Cap: An achievement for which one is recognized; a noteworthy achievement
  • First In, Best Dressed: The first people to do something will have an advantage
  • Hang It Up: To retire, to end an activity one has pursued for a long time
  • Keep It Under Your Hat: Don’t tell anyone; don’t reveal this secret
  • Knock Someone’s Socks Off: Amaze someone
  • Lose the Thread: Be unable to follow someone’s reasoning
  • Mutton Dressed Up as Lamb: A woman who dresses in a style appropriate to someone of a younger age
  • Old Hat: Old-fashioned, predictable
  • Quake In One’s Boots: To be very frightened
  • Shake the Dust off Your Shoes (Feet): Make a clean break with a relationship or situation
  • Throw Down the Gauntlet: To issue a challenge
  • New Wrinkle: A novel aspect to a situation, a new development
  • Turn Someone Inside Out: To cause strong emotional turmoil; to completely change someone

Death idioms

List of English idioms related to death:

  • Full Fathom Five: Lost deep in the sea
  • Kick the Bucket: To die
  • Over My Dead Body: Under no circumstances
  • Pop One’s Clogs: To die
  • Pushing Up Daisies: Dead and buried
  • Set in Stone: Fixed; unchangeable
  • Six Feet Under: Dead and buried
  • Sleep with the Fishes: Dead, often by murder
  • Swim with the Fishes: Have been killed, especially with involvement of organized crime
  • Whistle Past the Graveyard: Remain optimistic despite dangers; be clueless
  • Your Number Is Up: You are going to die (or suffer some bad misfortune or setback)

Food idioms

List of essential food idioms in English:

  • (A) Baker’s Dozen: Thirteen
  • (A) Hard/Tough Nut to Crack: A difficult problem
  • (Have) Egg on One’s Face: Be embarrassed, feel foolish
  • (Put) All One’s Eggs In One Basket: Rely on a specific course of events
  • (Take It with a) Grain of Salt: Be skeptical of a statement
  • (The) Icing On The Cake: A bonus; something that makes a good situation even better
  • (To Be on the) Gravy Train: To make an easy living, to benefit easily from one’s association with something that brings profits
  • (To Have) Bigger Fish To Fry: To have more important things to do
  • A Few Sandwiches Short Of A Picnic: Abnormally stupid, not really sane
  • A Lot on One’s Plate: A lot to do
  • Above The Salt: Of high standing or honor
  • Acknowledge The Corn: Admit to a mistake, especially a small one; point out one’s own shortcomings, or another’s
  • Acquired Taste: Something one learns to appreciate only after trying it repeatedly
  • All Sizzle And No Steak: Failing to live up to advance promotion or reputation
  • All The Tea In China: Great wealth, a large payment
  • Apple of One’s Eye: A favorite person or thing, a person especially valued by someone
  • Bad Egg: Someone who is not to be trusted
  • Bar Fly (or Barfly): Someone who spends much of his or her time in bars
  • Best (Greatest) Thing Since Sliced Bread: An innovative development
  • Big Cheese: An important person in a company or organization
  • Bite Off More Than You Can Chew: Try to do more than one is capable of doig
  • Bottom of the Barrel: Low-quality choices
  • Bring Home the Bacon: Earn money for one’s family
  • Carrot-and-Stick (Approach): A tactic in which rewards are offered, but there is also the threat of punishment
  • Cherry-Pick: To present evidence selectively to one’s own advantage
  • Chew the Fat: Chat for a considerable length of time
  • Cook Someone’s Goose: To insure someone’s defeat, to frustrate someone’s plans
  • Couch Potato: A lazy person who watches a great deal of television
  • Cry Over Spilt (USA: Spilled): Milk To waste energy moaning about something that has already happened
  • Cut the Mustard: Do something adequately
  • Eat Humble Pie: To admit defeat or error, to accept humiliation
  • Eat Someone’s Lunch: Defeat someone thoroughly
  • Food for Thought: Something that makes you think carefully
  • From Scratch: From individual ingredients, not using a prepared mix
  • Hard Nut to Crack: A difficult problem or a difficult person
  • From Soup to Nuts: Everything; from beginning to end
  • Have a Lot on One’s Plate: Be busy, be in the middle of many ongoing tasks
  • Have One’s Cake and Eat It, Too: To want two incompatible things (usually used in the negative)
  • Be Like Chalk and Cheese: Things or people who are very different and have nothing in common
  • Hit the Spot: Be very satisfying (said of something eaten)
  • Have Bigger Fish to Fry: Have more important things to do
  • Hot Potato: A controversial subject or difficult project that is best avoided
  • In a Nutshell: Expressed in a few words
  • Have Egg on Your Face: They are made to look foolish or embarrassed
  • In a Pickle: In need of help, in a difficult spot
  • Like Two Peas in a Pod: Bearing a strong resemblance
  • Low-Hanging Fruit: Easy parts of a task; solutions easy to obtain
  • Not Mince Words: Moderate or weaken a statement
  • Nutty as a Fruitcake: Crazy; idiotic; wacky.
  • Pie in the Sky: Something that is unrealistic or that cannot be achieved
  • Piece of Cake: Very easily done
  • Piping Hot: Very hot (generally said of food)
  • Pour (Rub) Salt into (on) the Wound (an open wound): Worsen an insult or injury; make a bad situation worse for someone
  • Read the Tea Leaves: Predict the future from small signs
  • Red Meat: Political appeals designed to excite one’s core supporters; demagoguery
  • Rotten to the Core: Entirely evil
  • Sell Like Hotcakes: Be sold very quickly
  • Simmer Down: Become less angry; regain one’s composure
  • Slower than Molasses: Exceptionally slow or sluggish; not fast at all.
  • Small Potatoes: Unimportant, insignificant
  • Sour Grapes: Spiteful disparagment of a goal one has failed to achieve
  • Spill the Beans: Reveal a secret
  • Take Something with a Pinch (grain) of Salt: If you take what someone says with a pinch of salt, you do not completely believe it.
  • Take the Cake: Be the most extreme instance
  • The Whole Enchilada: All of something.
  • There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch: Nothing is given to you without some expectation of something in return.
  • Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth: A project works best if there is input from a limited number of people
  • Tough Cookie: A very determined person
  • Wake Up and Smell the Coffee: Stop deluding yourself
  • Walk on Eggshells: To have to act very sensitively in order to avoid offending someone
  • Watering Hole: A place where alcoholic beverages are served, a bar
  • You Can’t Make an Omelet (Omelette): Without Breaking
  • Some Eggs: Achieving a major goal requires the ability to tolerate some problems
  • Bean Counters: Accountants, finance professionals in an organization
  • Tough Cookie: Someone who can endure hardship; especially: a strong negotiator
  • Have a Bone to Pick (with Someone): To want to discuss something someone has done that has angered or annoyed you.

Health and Medicine idioms

List of health and medicine idioms in English:

  • Alive and Kicking: In good health despite health problems
  • An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away: Eating healthy foods will keep one from getting sick (and needing to see a doctor)
  • As Fit as A Fiddle: To be healthy and physically fit
  • As Pale as Death: Extremely pale
  • At Death’s Door: Very near death
  • Back on One’s Feet: Physically healthy again
  • Be on the Mend: Be improving after an illness
  • As Pale as A Ghost: Extremely pale
  • Bitter Pill to Swallow: An unpleasant fact that one must accept
  • Black-and-Blue: Bruised, showing signs of having been physically harmed
  • Break Out in A Cold Sweat: To perspire from fever or anxiety
  • Catch One’s Death of Cold: To become very ill (with a cold/flu etc.)
  • Feel On Top of The World: To feel very healthy
  • Get A Charley Horse: To develop a cramp in the arm or the leg
  • Go Under the Knife: Undergo surgery
  • Go Viral: Begin To spread rapidly on the Internet
  • Green Around the Gills: To look sick
  • Have Foot-in-Mouth Disease: To embarrass oneself through a silly mistake
  • Have One Foot in The Grave: To be near death (usually because of old age or illness)
  • Just What the Doctor Ordered: Exactly the thing that is or was needed to help improve something or make one feel better
  • Kink in One’s Neck: A cramp in one’s neck that causes pain
  • Laughter is the Best Medicine: Laughing a lot is a very effective means of recovering from physical or mental injury
  • Poison Pill (n): A provision or feature added to a measure or an entity to make it less attractive, an undesirable add-on
  • Run in the Family: To be a common family characteristic
  • Sick and Tired of: Extremely annoyed by something that occurs repeatedly
  • Sick as a Dog: Extremely ill.
  • Snake Oil: Medicine of unproven value; fraudulent medicine
  • Take Your Medicine: Accept something unpleasant, for example, punishment, without protesting or complaining
  • Taste of Your Own Medicine: The same unpleasant experience or treatment that one has given to others
  • Under the Weather: Not feeling well

Love idioms

List of useful love idioms in English:

  • Be Head Over Heels (In love): Be in love with somebody very much
  • Fall in Love with Somebody: Start feeling love towards somebody
  • Fall for Something: Hook, Line, and Sinker To be completely deceived
  • (To Think that Someone) Hung the Moon: To idealize someone; to think someone is capable of enormously difficult acts
  • Be An Item: Two people are an item when they are having a romantic relationship
  • Be Lovey – Dovey: Expressing your love in public by constantly kissing and hugging
  • Blind Date: When two people who have never seen each other before go on a date
  • Blinded by Love: When a person is so madly in love with somebody that they can’t see the person’s faults or negative characteristics
  • Break up/ Split up (With Somebody): End the relationship
  • Carry a Torch (for): To continue to be in love with someone even after a relationship has ended
  • Have the Hots for Somebody: Finding somebody extremely attractive
  • Kiss and Make Up: Make peace after an argument
  • Love at First Sight: Falling in love with somebody the first time you see them
  • Love Rat: Somebody who cheats on his/her partner
  • Main Squeeze: Committed romantic partner
  • Match Made in Heaven: A relationship in which the two people are great together, because they complement each other so well
  • May-December Marriage: A marriage between a younger and an older partner, typically a young woman and an old man.
  • No Love Lost Between: There is a mutual animosity between two people
  • Old Flame: A former boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Puppy Love: Adolescent love or infatuation, especially one that is not expected to last
  • Tie the Knot: Get married
  • To be Smitten With Someone: To be completely captivated by someone and feel immense joy
  • Fancy Someone (British English): To find someone very attractive
  • To be someone’s One and Only: To be unique to the other person
  • Have A Crush On Someone: An informal idiomatic expression that describes young romantic infatuation
  • Love Someone With All of One’s Heart And Soul: To love someone completely
  • Under Someone’s Spell: Fascinated, entranced by someone
  • Whisper Sweet Nothings (in Someone’s Ear): Speak meaningless romantic utterances

Personal Names idioms

List of personal names idioms in English:

  • Not Know Jack: Not know anything
  • The Real McCoy: A genuine item
  • No Names, No Pack Drill: By not accusing anyone specifically, I may avoid trouble.
  • Any Tom, Dick or Harry: Any ordinary person
  • Rob Peter to Pay Paul: Pay off a debt with another loan; solve a problem in such a way that it leads to a new problem
  • On the Fritz: Not working properly
  • Jack of All Trades: A person with a wide variety of skills
  • Even Steven: Owing nothing; tied (in a game)
  • (Between) Buckley’s and Nunn: Almost nil

State of Mind idioms

List of English idioms to express feelings and emotions:

  • Act One’s Age: To be mature, not childish
  • Air Rage: Angry behavior inside an airplane
  • All the Rage: Very much in fashion
  • At the End of One’s Rope (Tether): Running out of endurance or patience
  • At Wit’s End: Frustrated because all measures to deal with something have failed
  • Bang One’s Head Against the Wall (Against a Brick Wall):Try repeatedly to do something without making progress
  • Blow One’s Stack: To lose one’s temper and explode in anger
  • Chuck a Wobbly: To act in an emotional way
  • Cock-A-Hoop: Elated, excited
  • Down in the Dumps: Depressed, sad
  • Draw a Blank: Be unable to remember something
  • Drive Someone Up the Wall: Deeply irritate someone
  • Fly off the Handle: To become suddenly enraged
  • Freudian Slip: Accidental use of an incorrect word; a revealing slip of the tongue
  • Get Carried Away: Become overly enthusiastic
  • Living in Cloud Cuckooland: Having unrealistic or foolish beliefs or plans.
  • Mad as A Hatter: Mentally ill, psychotic
  • Meeting of the Minds: Strong instinctive agreement on something
  • Not Playing with A Full Deck: Stupid, mentally deficient or impaired
  • Off One’s Rocker: Crazy, nuts, insane
  • On the Ball: Prepared, alert, competent
  • On the Fence: Undecided between two choices
  • Out of Sight, Out of Mind: When you don’t see something or someone, you tend to forget about that thing or person.
  • Out of Sorts: Slightly ill; not feeling well
  • Passing Fancy: A temporary interest or attraction
  • Pet Peeve: A small thing that you find particularly annoying
  • Pull Yourself Together: Control your emotions; recover from a strong emptional upset
  • Scare the Living Daylights Out of Someone: Frighten someone severely
  • Short Fuse: A quick temper; a tendency to anger quickly
  • Take It Easy: Don’t hurry; relax; don’t get angry
  • Tear-Jerker: A film or book that makes you cry
  • Think Big: Consider ambitious plans; avoid becoming overly concerned with details
  • Under the Impression: Believing something, perhaps mistakenly
  • Young at Heart: Having a youthful outlook, regardless of age
  • On the Spur of the Moment: Without advance planning, spontaneously
  • Cry Your Eyes Out: Cry hard for a very long time
  • Tear One’s Hair out: Be extremely worried or frustrated
  • (Be a) Bundle of Nerves: Be extremely nervous

Skills idioms

List of English idioms about skills:

  • Amateur Hour: A display of incompetence
  • As Far as I Can Throw (someone): Only slightly
  • Bag of Tricks: A set of methods or resources
  • Beat Someone To The Draw: To accomplish or obtain something more quickly than someone else
  • Drop the Ball: Fail to fulfill one’s responsibilities; make a mistake
  • Find One’s Voice: Become more confident in expressing oneself
  • Green as Grass: Lacking training, naïve; often said of young people in new jobs
  • Lose One’s Touch: Suffer a decline in one’s skill at doing something
  • Not Cut Out for (Something): Not naturally skillful enough to do something well
  • Sharp as A Tack: Mentally agile

Happiness idioms

List of English idioms to express happiness:

  • Be A Barrel of Laughs: To be fun, funny, and pleasant.
  • Be Footloose and Fancy-Free: To be free of responsibilities, including romantic commitments
  • Blow Away the Cobwebs: If something blows away the cobwebs, it makes you feel more lively and refreshes your ideas.
  • Chill Out: Do something that helps them to calm down and relax for a while.
  • Feast Your Eyes On: To take great pleasure in looking at someone or something
  • Full of the Joys of Spring: Very happy, enthusiastic and full of energy
  • Guilty Pleasure: Enjoying something which is not generally held in high regard, while at the same time feeling a bit guilty about it, is called a guilty pleasure.
  • Happy-Go-Lucky: If you are a happy-go-lucky person, you are cheerful and carefree all the time.
  • Have A Whale of A Time: To enjoy yourself very much
  • Have The Time of Your Life: If you have the time of our life, you enjoy yourself very much.
  • In Full Swing: When something, such as an event, gets into full swing, it is at its busiest or liveliest time.
  • Have A Ball: To have a very enjoyable time
  • In One’s Element: In a situation which is entirely suitable, familiar, or enjoyable.
  • Let One’s Hair Down: To relax and enjoy themselves.
  • More Fun Than A Barrel of Monkeys: A very good time; a pleasant occasion
  • Take It Easy: When you relax, or do things at a comfortable pace, you take it easy.
  • With Bells On: Eagerly, willingly, and on time.

Crazy idioms

List of English idioms for going crazy:

  • Blow One’s Top: Lose one’s temper
  • Go Ape: Express wild excitement or anger
  • Blow Up: Explode
  • Go Berserk: To go crazy
  • Fly Off The Handle: Lose one’s temper suddenly and unexpectedly
  • Go Bonkers: To be or become wild, restless, irrational, or crazy; to act in such a way
  • Go Mental: To suddenly become extremely angry
  • Freak Out: A wildly irrational reaction or spell of behavior
  • Go Ballistic: Fly into a rage
  • Go Off the Deep End: To unexpectedly become very angry, especially without a good reason
  • Hit the Roof: To become very angry
  • Go Nuts: To become crazy
  • Lose It: To suddenly become unable to behave or think in a sensible way
  • Go Bananas: To become irrational or crazy
  • Pop One’s Cork: To release one’s anger; to blow one’s top


2000+ Common English Idioms and Their Meanings 5

Buildings idioms

List of common buildings idioms in English:

  • Back Office: Support services for a business
  • Castle in the Air: An impractical plan
  • Darken Someone’s Door (Step): Make an unwanted visit to someone’s home
  • From Pillar to Post: From one place to another, in a forced, random way
  • Get In on the Ground Floor: Invest in or join something while it is still small
  • Hit a Wall: suddenly stop making forward progress
  • Hit the Roof: Explode in rage; become extremely angry
  • Off the Wall: Odd, strange, unexpected
  • Window Dressing: A misleading disguise intended to present a favorable impression
  • Window Shop: To look at merchandise in a store without intending to buy it
  • Writing (Handwriting) on the Wall: Hints of coming disaster

Cars idioms

List of useful cars idioms in English:

  • 3-On-The-Tree: On an automobile (especially those produced from 1939 through the mid-1970s), a three-speed manual transmission whose gearshift lever ismounted on the steering column
  • All Roads Lead to Rome: There is more than one effective way to do something; many different methods will produce the same result
  • Amber Gambler: Someone who accelerates to try to cross an intersection before a traffic light turns red
  • Backseat Driver: Someone who likes to give (often annoying) advice to the driver of a car, or the leader of some other enterprise
  • Chop Shop: A shop where stolen cars are disassembled for parts
  • Down the Road: In the future (in your lifetime)
  • Put the Brakes On: Slow something down
  • Put the Pedal to the Metal: Drive as fast as possible
  • To Carpool: To travel to the same place with a group of people in one car. e.g. work/school
  • To Have One For the Road: To have one last (alcoholic) drink before you go home
  • U Turn: A complete change of opinion, direction, etc.
  • You’re Driving Me Nuts: To make someone giddy or crazy

Construction idioms

List of construction idioms in English:

  • (Dumb as a) Bag Of Hammers: Stupid, oriented toward illogic
  • (To) Put a Spanner in the Works: To sabotage something; to cause something to fail
  • Accident Waiting To Happen: A dangerous way of setting up or organizing something
  • Against The Grain: Contrary to one’s natural inclinations
  • An Axe: To Grind A grievance, a disagreement with someone that justifies confrontation.
  • Backing and Filling: Delaying a decision by making small changes or arguing about small details
  • Bury the Hatchet: Make peace, agree to end a dispute
  • Mend Fences: Improve relations after a dispute
  • Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day: Complex projects take time
  • Shit a Brick: Be extremely fearful.
  • Throw a Wrench Into: To sabotage; to cause to fail
  • Tighten the Screws: Increase pressure on someone
  • Toss a Wrench (Spanner) Into: Sabotage; cause a process to stop
  • Powder Keg: An explosive situation, a situation in which people are angry and ready to be violent
  • The Walls Have Ears: We may be overheard; be careful what you say
  • Swing for the Fences: Attempt to achieve the largest accomplishment possible
  • Raise the Roof: Make a great deal of noise (said of a crowd)
  • Run into a Buzz: Saw Encounter severe and unexpected problems

Furniture and household items idioms

List of furniture and household idioms in English:

  • (No) Strings Attached: without additional obligations, without conditions
  • (Searching for) A Needle in a Haystack: Trying to find something that is mixed in with many similar items
  • (With a) Fine-Toothed Comb: Very closely scrutinized. Generally used with a verb like examine.
  • Another Nail In One’s Coffin: Something that leads to someone’s death, literally or figuratively.
  • Basket Case: So upset or stunned that one is unable to function; in a hopeless condition
  • Cutting-Edge: Very novel, innovative
  • Go to the Mattresses: To go to into battle
  • Greasy Spoon: An inexpensive restaurant that fries foods on a grill
  • In the Hot Seat: Undergoing criticism or scrutiny; under pressure publicly
  • In the Toilet: In disastrous condition
  • Iron Out (Problems, Difficulties): To resolve
  • On Tenterhooks: Tensely awaiting a decision or development
  • Pot Calling the Kettle Black: Accusing someone of something of which you are also guilty; being hypocritical
  • Push the Envelope: Go beyond common ways of doing something, be innovative
  • Storm in a Teacup: A commotion that dies down quickly, about something unimportant
  • Sweep Under the Rug: Attempt to temporarily conceal a problem or error
  • Tempest in a Teapot: A commotion about something unimportant
  • Turn the Tables: Reverse a situation
  • Under the Table: Without being officially recorded
  • Wake Up on the Wrong Side of the Bed: Be grumpy or ill-humored. Generally used in past tense
  • Wet Blanket: Someone who dampens a festive occasion
  • Twist the Knife (in Deeper): Make someone’s suffering worse
  • Rock Bottom: An absolute low point
  • Sweep Under the Carpet: Attempt to temporarily conceal a problem or error
  • Brush Under the Carpet: Attempt to temporarily conceal a problem or error
  • Rob the Cradle: To be sexually or romantically involved with someone who is very young

Machinery idioms

List of machinery idioms in English:

  • Run into a Buzz: Saw Encounter severe and unexpected problems
  • Hold the Phone: Wait a moment (whether you’re on the phone or not)
  • Nuts and Bolts: Everyday details of something
  • Grease the Wheels: Do something to make an operation run smoothly
  • Pull the Plug On: Terminate (something)
  • Grease Monkey: A mechanic, especially an auto mechanic
  • (The) Die Is Cast: We cannot reverse the decision we have made
  • Have a Screw Loose: Be slightly unbalanced or crazy
  • Chop Chop: Quickly, without delay
  • By Hook or by Crook: By some possibly dishonest means

Science idioms

List of science idioms in English:

  • Acid Test: A crucial event that determines the worth of something

Speed idioms

List of speed idioms in English:

  • Run Out of Steam: Lose momentum, become tired
  • Hell for Leather: Very fast, as fast as possible
  • Quick-and-Dirty: Approximate, hastily done
  • Quick as a Flash: Very fast
  • Dead Heat: An exact tie in a race or competition
  • Dead Run: Running as fast as possible
  • Hot on the Heels (of): In close pursuit

Common English Idioms | Image

2000+ Common English Idioms and Their Meanings 6

Technology idioms

List of common technology idioms in English:

  • Hold the Phone: Wait a moment (whether you’re on the phone or not)
  • On Life Support: Almost defunct
  • Back to the Salt Mine(s): We have to go back to work.
  • In the Limelight, In the Spotlight: Receiving large amounts of publicity or attention
  • On the Radar: Evident as a possibility
  • Reinvent the Wheel: Devise a solution to a problem for which a solution already exists
  • Under (Below) the Radar: Not generally perceived, below popular consciousness
  • Let Off Steam: To express anger and frustration in a way that does no damage
  • Bells And Whistles: Attractive but unnecessary features of a product
  • Blow Off Steam: To express anger and frustration in a way that does no damage
  • Babysitter Test: An evaluation of the ease of use of household appliances, especially remote control devices

Transport idioms

List of useful transport idioms in English:

  • (Did Not) Come to Town on a Turnip Truck: Is not naïve
  • (Not) Rock the Boat: To do or say something that might endanger astable situation or upset the status quo
  • (That) Train Has Left the Station: The process is already underway; the time for discussion is over.
  • (To) Criticize the Paint Job on the Titanic: To obsess over small flaws and miss serious ones
  • (To) Send Flying: Knock something into the Air
  • (We’ll) Cross That Bridge When We Come to It (Get to It): Deal with a situation when it is actually encountered
  • All Hands on Deck: Everyone must help.
  • Any Port in a Storm: If you’re in trouble, you’ll turn to anything that improves the situation.
  • Asleep at the Wheel (Switch): not paying attention to one’s work; not doing one’s job diligently.
  • Backseat Driver: A passenger in a car who gives unwanted advice to the driver is called a backseat driver.
  • Bump in the Road: A temporary problem, a small setback
  • Burn One’s Bridges: Leave a job or a relationship on such bad terms that one does not stay in contact
  • Carry Coals To Newcastle: Supply something that is unneeded; engage in useless labor
  • Circle the Wagons: To prepare as a group to defend against attack, adopt a defensive posture
  • Drive a Hard Bargain: To arrange a transaction so that it benefits oneself.
  • Fall Off the Wagon: To begin using alcohol (or another problem substance) after quitting
  • Fell off a Truck: Probably stolen or illicitly obtained; said of something offered for sale to avoid discussing its origins
  • Fell off the Back of a Lorry: Probably stolen or illicitly obtained; said of something offered for sale to avoid discussing its origins
  • Fifth Wheel: A superfluous person
  • Fly by the Seat of One’s Pants: To improvise, to make decisions without planning or preparation
  • Fly High: Be very successful, especially temporarily
  • Give the Green Light: Approve something; allow something to proceed
  • Go Off The Rails: To go wrong, to begin acting strangely or badly
  • Go the Extra Mile: Put forth greater-than-expected effort
  • Highways and Byways: You take large and small roads to visit every part of the country.
  • Hit the Road: To leave
  • In a Rut: Confined by routine, bored and seeking new experiences
  • In the Same Boat: In a similar situation; similarly vulnerable
  • Itchy Feet: A person who has itchy feet is someone who finds it difficult to stay in one place and likes to travel and discover new places.
  • It’s Not Rocket Science: It’s not difficult to understand.
  • In Someone’s Wheelhouse: In someone’s strongest area of competence or enthusiasm
  • Jump on the Bandwagon: To follow a trend; follow the crowd
  • In the Driver’s Seat: In a dominant position, in control
  • Jump the Track: To shift suddenly from one activity or line of thought to another
  • Just Around the Corner: Occurring soon
  • Light at the End of the Tunnel: A sign of hope after a long period of difficulties
  • Lower the Boom: Implement a punishment; reprimand severely
  • Miss the Boat: Be too late for something; miss an opportunity
  • My Way or the Highway: If you do not do things the way I want or require, then you can just leave or not participate.
  • Off His Trolley: Crazy, insane
  • On the Fly: While in motion, while traveling
  • On the Right Track: Pursuing a correct course in doing or learning something
  • Paddle One’s Own Canoe: To be able to act independently.
  • Puddle Jumper: A small airplane, used on short trips
  • On a Wing and a Prayer: Relying solely on hope and enthusiasm in a difficult situation
  • Put the Cart Before the Horse: To do things out of the proper order.
  • On the Home Stretch: You are approaching the end of a task, a project, a race or a journey.
  • Rearrange the Deck Chairs on the Titanic: Taking superficial actions while ignoring a much larger and perhaps fatal problem
  • Rock the Boat: Cause a disruption in a group. Often used in the negative: don’t rock the boat.
  • Run a Tight Ship: Manage an organization in a strict, well-regulated way
  • Run on Fumes: To be in a situation where one’s energy or resources is almost exhausted
  • Shift Gears: Change the subject, or change what one is doing
  • Spin One’s Wheels: Engaging in activity that yields no progress; getting nowhere
  • Take the High Road: Refuse to descend to immoral activities or personal attacks
  • Take The Wind Out of Someone’s Sails: To reduce someone’s confidence, ofte by doing something unexpected
  • That Ship Has Sailed: That opportunity has passed.
  • Third Rail: A topic so sensitive that it is dangerous to raise. This is especially used in political contexts
  • Thirty-Thousand-Foot View: A very broad or general perspective
  • Throw Someone Under the Bus: Sacrifice someone else’s interests for your own personal gain
  • Touch Water: Be launched. Said of a boat.
  • Train Wreck: Anything that develops in a disastrous way
  • Turn the Corner: To begin to improve after a problem
  • Walk the Plank: Be forced to resign a position
  • Where (When) the Rubber: Meets the Road In reality; where an idea meets a real-world test
  • Your Mileage May Vary: You may get different results. This does not necessarily refer to a car, although it may.
  • Busman’s Holiday: A vacation where you do the same thing you do at work, a working vacation
  • Farther (On) Down the Road: Later, at some unspecified time
  • (Have a) Lead Foot: A tendency to drive very fast
  • Batten Down the Hatches: Prepare for a storm

Weaponry idioms

List of weaponry idioms in English:

  • Bite the Bullet: To do something even though it involves pain, discomfort, or difficulty
  • Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight: Underequipped or unprepared
  • Double-Edged Sword: Something that can be helpful or harmful; something beneficial that also has a downside
  • Smoking Gun: indisputable evidence of a crime
  • Dead Eye: A good shooter, a good marksman
  • Dodge a Bullet: To narrowly escape disaster
  • Fall on One’s Sword: To accept blame; to sacrifice oneself
  • Fight Fire with Fire: Use the same measures that are being used against you, even if they’re stronger than you would usually use
  • Go Nuclear: Use an extreme measure; because extremely angry
  • Go Off Half-Cocked: To say or something prematurely, with a negative effect
  • In the Crosshairs (Cross Hairs): Targeted for blame or criticism
  • Jump the Gun: Start doing something too soon
  • Keep Your Powder Dry: Do not attack until you are ready.
  • Like Shooting: Fish in a Barrel Very easy
  • Long Shot: Something with little chance of success
  • Loose Cannon: Someone out of control; someone who speaks or acts recklessly
  • Pack Heat: Carry a gun
  • Powder Keg: An explosive situation, a situation in which people are angry and ready to be violent
  • Shoot Off One’s Mouth: Talk without considering one’s words
  • Shoot Oneself In The Foot: Do something that damages oneself or one’s own cause
  • Silver Bullet: Something simple that resolves a difficult problem
  • Shoot from the Hip: Talk or act without consideration
  • Son of a Gun: 1) A rogue. 2) An exclamation of surprise.
  • Straight Arrow: An honest, trustworthy person
  • Sword of Damocles: Something that causes a feeling of constant threat.
  • Twist the Knife (in Deeper): Make someone’s suffering worse
  • Dead Shot: A good shooter, a good marksman


2000+ Common English Idioms and Their Meanings 7

Crime idioms

List of crime idioms in English:

  • Caught Red-Handed: Apprehended while committing a crime
  • Five-Finger Discount: Shoplifting
  • Foul Play: Crime, typically murder
  • Get Off Scot Free: Be accused of wrongdoing but pay no penalty at all

Law idioms

List of law idioms in English:

  • (Caught) Bang to Rights: Caught in an unlawful or immoral act without any mitigating circumstances.
  • Above The Law: Exempt from the laws that apply to everyone else.
  • Act Of Congress: Hard to get, said of authorization
  • All Rights Reserved: Said of a published work; all reproduction rights are asserted by the copyright holder
  • Bail Out: To rescue someone from a bad situation, to shield someone from the consequences of his or her actions
  • Ball and Chain: 1. One’s spouse (derogatory but often affectionate); 2. an ongoing burden
  • Letter of the Law: The explicit meaning of a law, as opposed to the spirit of the law, the law’s general intention
  • Open-and-Shut Case: A situation, especially a legal proceeding, with a clear, certain outcome
  • Take the Fifth: Refuse to answer because answering might incriminate or cause problems for you

Police idioms

List of police idioms in English:

  • Throw The Book At: Prosecute legally as strongly as possible
  • Blue Light Special: 1. a temporary sale at a discount store. 2. a traffic stop by the police.

Politics idioms

List of politics idioms in English:

  • Stick It to the Man: Do something that frustrates those in authority
  • Waka-Jumping: Change political parties (said of politicians themselves)
  • Think Tank: A group of experts engaged in ongoing studies of a particular subject; a policy study group

War idioms

List of war idioms in English:

  • (The) Cavalry: Assistance from a powerful source in a difficult situation.
  • Pin Someone Down: Demand a decision or clear answer
  • Scorched Earth (Tactics, Policy, etc.): Ruthless, extremely destructive
  • Shot Across the Bow: A warning of more serious actions to come
  • Up in Arms: Angry, protesting (usually said of a group)
  • Weekend Warrior: Someone who has an office job but enjoys contact sports on weekends; a member of a military reserve force (whose exercises are typically on weekends)


2000+ Common English Idioms and Their Meanings 8

Animals idioms

List of commonly used animals idioms in English:

  • (A) Different Kettle of Fish: Not comparable (with something that has been under discussion
  • (A) Leopard Can’t Change Its Spots: People can’t successfully disguise or change their essential natures.
  • (Bird in a) Gilded (Golden) Cage: In a luxurious but confining situation
  • (Don’t) Have a Cow: To get upset, angry (usually used in the negative)
  • (Go) Hog Wild: Act in a completely uninhibited way
  • (Have a) Kangaroo Loose: In The Top Paddock Be slightly crazy
  • (His) Bark Is Worse Than His Bite: Hostile in manner, but actually friendly
  • (Like) Herding Cats: Difficult to coordinate (said of members of a group)
  • (Like) Tits on a Bull, As Useless as Tits on a Bull: Completely useless
  • (On a) Fishing Expedition: Looking for evidence without any solid suspicion of wrongdoing
  • (Open Up a) Can of Worms, A Whole New Can of Worms: Create a new set of difficult problems
  • (Play) Whack-a-Mole (Confront): a situation in which when one problem is solved, another appears
  • (Someone’s) Goose Is Cooked: In serious trouble, with no hope of improvement
  • (Straight From the) Horse’s Mouth: Heard directly from one of the people involved
  • (That’s the) Nature of the Beast: The essence of something; just the way something is
  • (The) Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back: A single small thing that exceeds a limit of patience
  • (The) Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back: A final difficulty that exhausts someone’s patience or causes the collapse of something
  • (The) Tail That Wags the Dog: A small part of something that controls the whole thing
  • (The) Worm Has Turned: The situation has been reversed.
  • (There’s) More Than One Way to Skin A Cat: There are multiple ways to accomplish this task.
  • (To Be a) Fly on the Wall: To be an unnoticed observer
  • (To Have a) Bee In One’s Bonnet: To be excited in a negative way; to express a pet peeve
  • (To Have the) Bit Between One’s Teeth: In control of a situation
  • (To Put the) Cat Among(st) the Pigeons: Cause a disturbance or disruption, usually intentionally
  • (To) Beat a Dead Horse: To continue to argue about something that has been settled
  • 800-Pound Gorilla: A person or group powerful enough to disregard the rules; a big, dominant person or group
  • A Busy Bee: A busy, active person who moves quickly from task to task.
  • A Cat Has Nine Lives: Cats seem to get away with dangerous things
  • A Cat Nap: A short sleep during the day
  • A Cold Fish: Someone who is not often moved by emotions, who is regarded as being hard and unfeeling.
  • A Cat in Gloves Catches No Mice: You can’t get what you need if you’re too careful.
  • A Dog in The Manger: A person who selfishly prevent others from using, enjoying or profiting from something even though he/ she cannot use or enjoy it himself.
  • A Guinea Pig: Someone who is part of an experiment or trial
  • A Home Bird: Somebody who prefers to spend his social and free time at home.
  • A Lame Duck: A person or enterprise (often a business) that is not a success and that has to be helped.
  • A Little Bird Told Me: I don’t wish to divulge where I got the information
  • A Lone Wolf: Someone who is not very social with other people
  • A Rare Bird: Somebody or something of a kind that one seldom sees.
  • A Scaredy-Cat: Someone who is excessively scared or afraid.
  • A Sitting Duck: A person or object in a vulnerable position that is easy to attack or injure.
  • Albatross Around One’s Neck: Something from one’s past that acts as a hindrance
  • All Bark And No Bite: Tending to make verbal threats but not deliver on them
  • All Hat And No Cattle: Pretentious, full of bluster
  • An Early Bird: A person who gets up early in the morning, or who starts work earlier than others.
  • Ants In Your Pants: Restlessness
  • As Poor as a Church Mouse: Very poor
  • Back the Wrong Horse: To support the losing side
  • Bark Up the Wrong Tree: Pursue a mistaken approach or belief; be wrong in a course of action
  • Bee in One’s Bonnet: Someone who has a bee in their bonnet has an idea which constantly occupies their thoughts.
  • Bell the Cat: Take on a difficult or impossible task
  • Big Fish: An important person
  • Birds of a Feather: People having similar characters, backgrounds, interests, or beliefs.
  • Bird’s-Eye View: A view from above; a broad perspective on something
  • Bite the Hand That Feeds You: Act badly toward someone who has helped you
  • Black Sheep: A person who does not fit into a group, especially a family
  • Blow the Cobwebs Away (or Out of Something): Make space for fresh ideas, encourage something new
  • Bull in a China Shop: A clumsy or tactless person
  • Buy a Pig in a Poke: To buy something with no prior inspection
  • Can’t Swing A Dead Cat In (Place): Without Hitting A (Thing) There are many examples of [thing] in this [place].
  • Cat Fight: A fight between two women
  • Cat Got Your Tongue?: Don’t you have anything to say?
  • Cat on a hot tin roof: Be extremely nervous
  • Cat-and-Mouse (adj.): In a toying way; playful in an unpleasant way
  • Cat’s Paw: A person being used by someone else, a tool
  • Change Horses in Midstream: Change plans or leaders in the middle of a process
  • Chickens Come Home To Roost: The negative consequences of previous actions reveal themselves
  • Chomp (Champ) at the Bit: Be eager to do something
  • Chomp at the Bit: To be eager to do something
  • Clip Someone’s Wings: Reduce someone’s privileges or freedom
  • Cock and Bull Story: A far-fetched story, probably untrue
  • Cool Cat: Someone who has the respect of their peers in a young, casual way.
  • Crickets: Silence
  • Cry Wolf (verb): To issue a false alarm, to ask for help when none is needed
  • Curiosity Killed The Cat: Stop asking questions, don’t be too curious
  • Dark Horse: A surprise candidate or competitor, especially one who comes from behind to make a strong showing
  • Dead as the Dodo: Completely extinct; totally gone
  • Dog in the Manger: A person who prevents others from using something, even though the person himself or herself does not want it
  • Dog-and-Pony Show: A flashy presentation, often in a marketing context
  • Dog-Eat-Dog: Intensely competitive
  • Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth: Do not question the value of a gift. The expression comes from the practice of determining the age and health of a horse by looking at its teeth.
  • Drain the Lizard: Urinate
  • Eager beaver: The term eager beaver refers to a person who is hardworking and enthusiastic, sometimes considered overzealous.
  • Eagle-Eyed: Having sharp vision
  • Early Bird [noun or adjective]: Someone who does something prior to the usual time, or someone who gets up early.
  • Eat Crow: To admit one was wrong, and accept humiliation
  • Elephant in the Room: A major problem that no one is talking about
  • Every Dog Has His (Its): Day Everyone has a moment of fame, power, or influence
  • Every Man and His Dog: Many people
  • Fat Cat: A highly placed, well-paid executive
  • Feather One’s Nest: To take advantage of one’s position to benefit oneself
  • Fight Like Cat and Dog: Continually arguing with each other
  • Fish for Compliments: Try to manipulate people into praising you
  • Fish Out of Water: A person who is in unfamiliar, confusing surroundings
  • Flat Out Like a Lizard: Drinking Very busy
  • Flew the Coop: Left, escaped
  • Fox in the Henhouse (Chickenhouse): Someone who causes trouble
  • Get Someone’s Goat: To irritate someone deeply
  • Go Belly Up: To go bankrupt
  • Go to the Dogs: To become disordered, to decay
  • Grab (Take) the Bull by the Horns: To begin forthrightly to deal with a problem
  • Go See a Man About a Dog: Go to the bathroom (said as a euphemism)
  • Guinea Pig: A test subject, a person who is used as a test to see if something will work
  • Has the Cat Got Your Tongue?: Why are you not saying anything?
  • Have a Dog in the Hunt (Fight, Race): To support a certain person in a competition
  • He Would Put Legs Under A Chicken: He will talk your head off; he is very talkative
  • Get One’s Ducks in a Row: Have everything organized; get oneself organized
  • Hive Mind: The knowledge of humans as a group
  • Hold Your Horses (generally excl.): Stop; restrain yourself; don’t be so excited
  • Jump the Shark: To pass peak quality and begin to decline. Often used to describe television programs or movie series.
  • Kangaroo Court: A court of law where proper procedures are not followed at all; a sham judicial proceeding
  • Kill a Fly With an Elephant Gun: Approach a problem with excessive measures
  • Kill Two Birds with One Stone: Act in such a way as to produce two desirable effects
  • Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: To avoid stirring up a problem; to leave things alone
  • Let the Cat Out of the Bag: Reveal a secret, usually a secret you or others are trying to keep
  • Lick One’s Wounds: Rest after a bad defeat
  • Like a Moth to a Flame: Drawn to something or someone despite the dangers
  • Kill the Goose That Laid the Golden Egg: To destroy a source of ongoing profits or benefits
  • Like The Cat That Got The Cream: Looking particularly self-satisfied, often to the annoyance of others
  • Lion’s Den: Any dangerous or frightening place.
  • Lion’s Share: The largest part of something
  • Loaded for Bear: Prepared for problems, well prepared for a challenge
  • Loan Shark: A predatory lender; one who makes high-interest loans to desperate people
  • Lock Horns: To lock horns is to argue, to come into conflict.
  • Look What the Cat Dragged In: Someone unwelcome has arrived.
  • Mad As A Box Of (Soapy) Frogs: extremely mentally unstable; psychotic; detached from reality.
  • Make a Silk Purse out of a Sow’s Ear: Turn something ordinary or inferior into something refined and beautiful
  • My Dogs Are Barking: My feet hurt.
  • Never Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth: It’s rude to examine a gift closely; accept gifts politely.
  • No Room to Swing A Cat: Very small, not big enough
  • Not Enough Room to Swing a Cat: A very small space
  • Not Have A Cat In Hell’s Chance: Have no possibility of succeeding, coming to pass, or achieving something
  • On a Lark: Spontaneously, on a whim, for fun
  • One-Trick Pony: Someone who has only a single talent
  • Pecking Order: Hierarchy, rank of importance
  • Play Cat And Mouse: Trying to trick someone into making a mistake so you can defeat them.
  • Puppies And Rainbows: Perfect, ideal (usually used slightly sarcastically, in contrast with a less ideal situation)
  • Puppy Dog Eyes: A begging look
  • Put Lipstick on a Pig: Make cosmetic changes to something bad
  • Put the Cat Among The Pigeons: Say or do something that causes trouble or controversy
  • Rain Cats and Dogs: Rain very heavily
  • Put the Cart Before The Horse: To do things in the wrong order
  • Raise (Someone’s) Hackles: Make someone angry and defensive
  • Red Herring: A misleading clue; something intended to mislead
  • Put Out Feelers: Make discreet, informal suggestions, ask around
  • Screw The Pooch: To make a serious error
  • Seize (Take) the Bull By the Horns: Attack a problem directly
  • Sick as a Parrot: Very disappointed
  • Sitting Duck: Something or someone easily attacked or criticized
  • Smell a Rat: Suspect deception
  • Something to Crow: About Something to be proud of, an accomplishment about which one is justified in bragging
  • Stalking Horse: Someone who tests a concept in advance of its application; a candidate who enters a political race in order to test the strength of the incumbent
  • Strain at a Gnat and Swallow a Camel: To make a fuss over something unimportant while ignoring larger issues
  • Swan Song: A final appearance
  • Swim with Sharks: To take a major risk
  • Take a Gander: Go to take a look at something
  • Teach an Old Dog New Tricks: To change someone’s long-established habits. Usually used in the negative: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
  • The Cat Is Out of the Bag: The secret has been revealed.
  • The World Is Your Oyster: You have many opportunities and choices.
  • There’s More Than One Way to Skin a Cat: There’s more than one way of achieving a certain goal.
  • Til the Cows Come Home: For a very long time
  • To Have Butterflies In Your Stomach: To be nervous
  • Turn Turtle: Capsize, turn over
  • Ugly Duckling: An awkward child or young person who grows into a beautiful person
  • Until the Cows Come Home: For a long time
  • What’s Good for the Goose Is Good for the Gander: What’s OK for a man is OK for a woman, too
  • When Pigs Fly: Never
  • White Elephant: An unwanted item that is difficult to sell or dispose of
  • Who’s She, the Cat’s Mother?: Why does she have such a high opinion of herself?
  • Wild Goose Chase: An impossible or futile search or task
  • You Can Lead a Horse to Water, but You Can’t Make It Drink: It’s very hard to force someone to do something against his or her will.
  • You Can’t Make Fish of One and Fowl of the Other: People must be treated equally.
  • Snake Oil: A useless medicine; a quack remedy; a product or measure promoted as a solution that really does nothing to help
  • Hightail It (Out of There): Flee

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2000+ Common English Idioms and Their Meanings 9

Flowers idioms

List of flowers idioms in English:

  • Pushing Up Daisies: Dead
  • Nip (Something) In The Bud: Deal with a problem before it becomes large

Geographical features idioms

List of geographical idioms in English:

  • (It’s a) Small World!: It is surprising to encounter connections with familiar people in unexpected places.
  • (The) Grass Is (Always) Greener in the Next Pasture (on the Other Side): A different situation may often seem better than one’s own
  • Across The Pond: On or to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Back Forty: Remote, inaccessible land
  • Back Of Beyond: A remote location
  • Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Caught between two undesirable options
  • Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: In a difficult position
  • Beyond the Pale: Too morally or socially extreme to accept
  • Go with the Flow: To accept the way things naturally seem to be going
  • King of the Hill: At the top of one’s field; the most influential person in a given field or area
  • Living Under a Rock: Ignorant of important events. Usually used as a question: Have you been living under a rock?
  • Make a Mountain out of a Molehill: To take something too seriously; to make too much of something
  • Man Cave: A part of the house, often the basement, that is left to the man of the household, perhaps with a workshop, a television for watching sports, etc.
  • Out in the Sticks: In a remote location; far from a city
  • Over the Hill: Past one’s prime
  • Over the Moon: Extremely happy
  • Set the Thames on Fire: Do something amazing. Usually used in the negative.
  • Slippery Slope: A series of undesirable effects that, one warns, could result from a certain action
  • Stem the Tide: To stop or control the growth of something, usually something unpleasant.
  • Swim Against the Tide: Do something contrary to a trend or usual opinion
  • Test the Waters: Experiment with something cautiously
  • The Coast Is Clear: We are unobserved; it is safe to proceed.
  • Tip of the Iceberg: A small, visible part of a much larger problem
  • Too Busy Fighting Alligators to Drain the Swamp: So occupied with multiple challenges that one can’t keep the big picture in mind
  • Up a Creek: In a very bad situation
  • Virgin Territory: Something that has never been explored, physically or intellectually
  • Water Under the Bridge: Something in the past that’s no longer worth worrying about

Plants idioms

List of plants idioms in English:

  • (The) Wrong End of the Stick: To have the wrong idea about something
  • (To Be) Out of One’s Gourd: Crazy, irrational
  • (To) Beat About the Bush (UK); Beat Around the Bush (USA): To speak in an unclear way and reluctantly instead of being direct and frank
  • Bed of Roses: A comfortable situation
  • Can’t See the Forest for the Trees: Is unable to maintain a wider perspective
  • Doesn’t Amount to a Hill of Beans: Is unimportant, is negligible
  • Go Out on a Limb: Assert something that may not be true; put oneself in a vulnerable position
  • Hear (Something) Through the Grapevine: To learn something via gossip
  • In Clover: Benefiting from a positive financial situation
  • Knock on Wood; Touch Wood: Let’s hope I have good luck or continue to have good luck.
  • Make Hay (While the Sun Shines): To take advantage of an opportunity at the right time.
  • Mother Nature: The natural world
  • No Tree Grows to the Sky: Growth cannot continue indefinitely.
  • Olive Branch: A peace offering, an attempt at reconciliation.
  • Put Down Roots: Establish oneself in a place; settle
  • Stick-in-the-Mud: A person who dislikes or adapts slowly to new ideas
  • Too Many To Shake A Stick At: A large number
  • Bean Counters: Accountants, finance professionals in an organization
  • Out of the Woods: No longer in danger
  • Beat Around the Bush: To speak in a roundabout way in order to avoid confronting an unpleasant topic
  • (The) Last Straw: A problem, burden, or mistake that finally makes someone run out of patience
  • To Bear Fruit: To develop in a profitable or positive way
  • Apples and Oranges: Of two different classes, not comparable

Weather idioms

List of common weather idioms in English:

  • (A Breath of) Fresh Air: Something new and innovative, especially in contrast to a stagnant state of affairs
  • (Every Cloud Has a) Silver Lining: A positive aspect of a bad situation
  • A Cold Day In July: (Something that) will never happen
  • Have (one’s) head in the clouds: Not know what is happening around you or out of touch with reality
  • Break The Ice: To get something started, particularly by means of a social introduction or conversation
  • Brainstorm: To generate many ideas quickly
  • All Wet: Completely mistaken
  • A Snowball’s Chance in Hell: Little to no likelihood of occurrence or success
  • Under the Weather: Feeling ill
  • On Cloud Nine: Extremely happy
  • Rain Cats And Dogs: Rain heavily
  • Cold Day in Hell: A condition for something that would be extremely unlikely to occur
  • In a Fog: Confused, not mentally alert
  • Chase Rainbows: To pursue unrealistic goals
  • Batten Down the Hatches: Prepare for a storm
  • Get Wind of: Hear about
  • Spit into The Wind: Wasting time on something futile
  • Cook Up a Storm: Cook a great deal of food
  • Come Rain and Shine: Do regularly, whatever the circumstances
  • Right as Rain: Absolutely correct
  • (Be) a Breeze: Very easy
  • Blood and Thunder: A dramatic, spectacular performance
  • Dead of Winter: The coldest, darkest part of winter
  • A Storm in a Teacup: Unnecessary anger or worry about an unimportant or trivial matter
  • Take a Rain Check: Decline an invitation but suggest that you’ll accept it at a later time.
  • Throw Caution to the Wind: To act in a daring way, without forethough
  • Bone Dry: Completely dry, totally without moisture
  • When Hell Freezes Over: Never
  • On Thin Ice: In a risky situation, especially in an interpersonal relationship
  • Dog Days of the Summer: The hottest day of summer
  • Be Snowed Under: Be extremely busy with work or things to do
  • Blow Hot and Cold: Shift one’s level of enthusiasm repeatedly
  • Bolt From the Blue: Something completely unexpected
  • Catch Some Rays: To sit or lie outside in the sun
  • Come Hell or High Water: No matter what happens
  • Heavens Open: Start to rain heavily
  • In the Dark: Not informed
  • It Never Rains but It Pours: Bad luck and bad things tend to happen at the same time
  • Old Man Winter: Winter
  • Once in a Blue Moon: Very rarely
  • Perfect Storm: A rare combination of disastrous occurrences
  • Pure as the Driven Snow: To be innocent and chaste (frequently used ironically)
  • Rain on Someone’s Parade: Spoil someone’s plans
  • Soak Up the Sun: To enjoy the sun
  • Steal Someone’s Thunder: Upstage someone
  • Stormy Relationship: Relationship that has a lot arguments and disagreement
  • Three Sheets to the Wind: Very drunk
  • To Run Hot and Cold: To be unable to make up one’s mind

Fruits idioms

List of common fruits idioms in English:

  • A Bite at The Cherry: A good opportunity that isn’t available to everyone
  • A Plum Job: An easy and pleasant job that also pays well
  • Apples and Oranges: Of two different classes, not comparable
  • As American as Apple Pie: Very or typically American
  • As Red as A Cherry: Very red
  • Bad Apple: A discontented, trouble making, or dishonest person
  • Cherry-Pick: To select the best or most desirable
  • Cool as A Cucumber: Calm and composed even in difficult or frustrating situations; self-possessed
  • Go Bananas: To become irrational or crazy
  • Go Pear-Shaped: To fail; to go wrong
  • A Lemon: A vehicle that does not work properly
  • Life is A Bowl of Cherries: Life is wonderful or very pleasant
  • Not Give A Fig: To not care at all about something
  • To be A Peach: Someone or something that is extremely good, impressive, or attractive
  • Peaches and Cream: A situation, process, etc., that has no trouble or problems
  • Second Banana: A person in a subservient position
  • Sour Grapes: Disparagement of something that has proven unattainable
  • Speak with A Plum in (one’s) Mouth: To speak in a manner that is indicative of a high social class.
  • The Apple Never Falls Far From the Tree: Family characteristics are usually inherited
  • Apple of Someone’s Eye: The person that someone loves most of all and is very proud of
  • To Bear Fruit: To develop in a profitable or positive way
  • Top Banana: The boss, the leader
  • Upset the Apple Cart: To disorganize or spoil something, especially an established arrangement or plan
  • The Cherry On the Cake: The final thing that makes something perfect
  • To Pop (one’s) Cherry: To do something for the first time
  • Big Apple: An informal name for New York City
  • Through the Grapevine: Via gossip
  • A Second Bite At The Cherry: A Second chance to do something


2000+ Common English Idioms and Their Meanings 10

Ethnicity idioms

List of ethnicity idioms in English:

  • Jim Crow: The system of racial segregation in the American South prior to the American civil rights movement.
  • Get Off Scot Free: Be accused of wrongdoing but pay no penalty at all

Nationality idioms

List of nationality idioms in English:

  • Dutch Uncle: A highly critical person
  • French Leave: Absence without permission
  • It’s All Greek to Me: It is unintelligible, impossible to understand
  • Welsh (Welch) on a Deal: Not observe the terms of an agreement

Religion life idioms

List of religion life idioms in English:

  • (A) Snowball’s Chance in Hell: No chance at all
  • (Going to) Hell in a Hand basket: Declining rapidly; getting much worse quickly
  • (The) Devil Is in the Details: The idea sounds simple, but it’s likely to involve small things that prove difficult.
  • Dance with the Devil: Knowingly do something immoral
  • All Hell Breaks Loose: The situation becomes chaotic.
  • All Over Hell’S Half Acre: All over the place; everywhere.
  • Angel’s Advocate: Someone who takes a positive outlook on an idea or proposal
  • Baptism by Fire: A difficult task given right after one has assumed new responsibilities
  • Be A Cold Day In Hell: (Something that) will never happen
  • Cross to Bear: A problem one must deal with over a long time, a heavy burden
  • Devil’s Advocate: Someone who argues a point not out of conviction, but in order to air various points of view
  • Hail Mary (n. or adj.): A desperate, last-ditch attempt
  • Is the Pope Catholic?: Isn’t the answer obvious?
  • Not Have a Prayer: Have no chance of success
  • Preach to the Choir, Preach to the Converted: To make an argument with which your listeners already agree
  • Preaching to the Choir: Making arguments to those who already agree with you
  • Sacred Cow: An indvidual or organization that one cannot criticize
  • Saving Grace: Something that redeems a bad situation


2000+ Common English Idioms and Their Meanings 11

Advice and criticism idioms

List of advice and criticism idioms in English:

  • Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire: If there is typical evidence of something, the most likely explanation is that it is actually occurring.
  • A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words: A visual presentation can communicate something very effectively
  • It’s Not Over Till the Fat Lady Sings: Do not give up too soon; things may improve.
  • Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk: Don’t worry about minor things.

Art idioms

List of art idioms in English:

  • Behind the Scenes: In a way not apparent to the public
  • Waiting in the Wings: Ready to assume responsibilities but not yet active, ready to become a successor

Conflict idioms

List of common conflict idioms in English:

  • (To Have) Been Through The Wars: Hardened, having much experience of difficult conditions, worn out
  • (To Open Up a) Can of Whoop-Ass: To attack another person physically (very casual, slightly vulgar)
  • Add Fuel To The Fire: Worsen already existing tension
  • Add Insult To Injury: Compound a defeat with humiliation or mockery
  • Agree To Disagree: Accept or set aside a disagreement
  • Ancient History: Something, such as a disagreement, that happened long ago and ought to be forgotten
  • At Each Other’s Throats: Constantly and strongly arguing
  • At Loggerheads: In a state of persistent disagreement.
  • Bad Blood: Enmity or hatred that stems from something in the past
  • Clear the Air: Defuse tension, be honest about conflict so as to reduce it
  • Cut (Someone) To the Quick: To deeply hurt someone emotionally
  • Dead Ahead: Directly ahead, either in a literal or a figurative sense
  • Dirty Look: A facial manner that signifies disapproval
  • Game of Chicken: A conflict situation in which neither side will back down for fear of seeming cowardly (chicken)
  • Get Bent Out of Shape: Become angry, upset
  • Give Someone a Piece of Your Mind: Angrily tell someone what you think
  • Have It Out with Someone: To have an argument with someone in order to settle a dispute
  • Let Bygones Be Bygones: Agree to forget about a past conflict
  • On the Warpath: Very angry
  • Pick a Fight: Intentionally provoke a conflict or fight with someone
  • Pissing Contest: A meaningless argument or competition, typically between males
  • Rake Over the Ashes: Restart a settled argument; examine a failure
  • Rub It In: Say something that makes someone feel even worse about a mistake
  • Sore Point: A sensitive topic for a particular person
  • Spoiling for a Fight: Combative, wanting conflict, eager to argue or fight
  • Stab Someone in the Back: To betray (somebody)
  • Take Someone to Task: Reprimand someone strongly
  • Throw Elbows: Be combative; be aggressive (physically or figuratively)
  • To Have a Chip on One’s Shoulder: To be combative, to be consistently argumentative
  • Witch Hunt: An organized attempt to persecute an unpopular group of people and blame them for a problem.
  • Spoiling for a Fight: Combative, wanting conflict, eager to argue or fight
  • Point the Finger At: Blame (someone)
  • At Loggerheads: In a state of persistent disagreement
  • Let Bygones Be Bygones: Agree to forget about a past conflict
  • Have a Bone to Pick (with Someone): To want to discuss something someone has done that has angered or annoyed you.

Daily activities idioms

List of daily activities idioms in English:

  • (A) Walk in the Park: Something simple or easy, in comparison to something more difficult
  • Beat Someone to the Punch: Do something before or faster than someone else
  • Cooking Up a Storm: Cooking a great deal of food
  • Crash a Party: To attend a party without being invited
  • Give Something a Whirl: Attempt something without being totally familiar with it
  • Have a Tough Row to Hoe: Be faced with a task that is difficult because of unfavorable conditions
  • Hit the Books: To study (generally said of students
  • Hit the Hay: To go to bed
  • Home Away from Home: A habitual hangout; a place one frequents often and where one feels welcome
  • In Touch: In contact
  • Knock Some Sense Into: To beat someone in order to teach him/her a lesson. May be used figuratively.
  • Lose Touch: To fall out of contact
  • Make Someone’s Day: Do something pleasing that puts someone in a good mood
  • Me Time: Activities undertaken for one’s own enjoyment, free from responsibilities to others.
  • On a Roll: Having a consistent run of success
  • Pass With Flying Colors: To succeed brilliantly, as on an exam or other test
  • Play With Fire: Do something very risky
  • Put a Thumb on the Scale: Try to influence a discussion in an unfair way, cheat
  • Ring a Bell: Sound familiar
  • Spin A Yarn: Tell a story
  • Take The Mickey (Piss) (Out Of Someone): Make fun of or ridicule someone
  • Trip the Light Fantastic: Dance well; do ballroom dancing
  • Hit the Sack: To go to bed

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2000+ Common English Idioms and Their Meanings 12

Drinking idioms

List of drinking idioms in English:

  • (See the) Glass (as) Half Empty/Half Full: To have a pessimistic (optimistic) perspective
  • 110 Proof: Stronger than strong, very strong, pure
  • Amber Nectar: Beer
  • Back Burner (On The): Not urgent; set aside until later
  • Bend an Elbow: Drink alcoholic beverages at a tavern
  • Champagne taste on a beer budget: Expensive or extravagant tastes or preferences that are beyond one’s economic means.
  • Do 12-Ounce Curls: Drink beer
  • Drink the Kool-Aid: Accept a set of ideas uncritically, often dangerous ones
  • Dutch Courage: Alcohol drunk with the intention of working up the nerve to do something
  • Go Cold Turkey: Stop using an addictive substance suddenly, without tapering off
  • Hair of the Dog (That Bit You): A small amount of the alcoholic beverage that caused your hangover
  • Hold One’s Liquor: Be able to drink a large amount without being affected
  • In His Cups: Drunk
  • On the Wagon: Not drinking alcoholic beverages; having given up drinking alcoholic beverages
  • One for the Road: A final drink (or something else) before leaving
  • Paint the Town Red: Go out drinking and partying
  • Wet Your Whistle: Drink something
  • High as a Kite: Strongly under the influence of drugs or intoxcants

Drugs idioms

List of drug idioms in English:

  • On Steroids: In a very large form
  • Pipe Dream: An unrealistic hope, a fantasy
  • Put That in Your Pipe and Smoke It: Accept and consider what I’m saying, even if you don’t like it!
  • Slip Someone a Mickey: Add a drug to an alcoholic drink in order to knock someone out
  • Up to Snuff: Meeting a basic standard
  • High as a Kite: Strongly under the influence of drugs or intoxcants

Family idioms

List of useful family idioms in English:

  • (Be the) Spitting Image: Have a strong resemblance, often familial
  • (Born) Out of Wedlock: Illegitimate, born to unmarried parents
  • Accident Of Birth: Luck in something due to family good fortune
  • And His Mother: An intensifier for an inclusive noun or phrase such as everyone, everybody
  • Big Brother: Government, viewed as an intrusive force in the lives of citizens; government spying
  • Blue Blood (adj. blue-blooded): Person of aristocratic background
  • Bob’s Your Uncle: The rest is easy; you’re almost finished
  • Father Figure: A mentor, a person who offers guidance
  • Flesh and Blood: Blood relatives, close relatives
  • Helicopter Parenting: Overattentive child-raising
  • Kith and Kin: Family (collectively)
  • Like Father, Like Son: Sons inherit their fathers’ traits and preferences, often even without realizing it.
  • Like Taking Candy from a Baby: Very easy
  • My Old Man, My Old Lady: My spouse
  • Pop the Question: Propose marriage
  • Run in the Family: Be inherited (as a trait) by multiple members of a family
  • Small Fry: People or organizations with little influence; children
  • Spare The Rod And Spoil The Child: It is necessary to physically punish children in order to raise them right.
  • This Is Not Your Father’s ____: This item has been much updated from its earlier versions.
  • Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water: Eliminate something good while discarding the bad parts of something
  • Up the Duff: Pregnant

Gambling idioms

List of gambling idioms in English:

  • (Come) Down to the Wire: (Be uncertain) all the way to the last minute
  • (Having an) Ace Up One’s Sleeve: To have a secret strength or surprise plan
  • (The) Die Is Cast: The decision has been made; there is no going back.
  • (To) Play One’s Ace: To deploy one’s strongest asset
  • According To Hoyle: Properly, in accordance with established procedures
  • Ace In The Hole: A hidden advantage
  • All Bets Are Off: What seemed certain is now unclear
  • All The Marbles: The entire prize or reward
  • Behind the Eight (or 8) Ball: At a serious disadvantage
  • Bet the Farm: Risk everything; spend all one’s money on something in hopes of success
  • Break the Bank: Exhaust one’s financial resources
  • Busted Flush: A failure, someone or something that seemed promising but did not develop well
  • Call a Spade a Spade: To speak frankly and directly about a problem
  • Cash In One’s Chips: 1. To take advantage of a quick profit 2. To die
  • Have a Lot Riding On (Something): Be depending on the successful outcome or development of something
  • Have an Ace Up One’s Sleeve: To have a hidden advantage
  • Have Hand of Aces/Hold All the Aces: To be in a very strong position in a competition
  • Hit the Jackpot: Do something that brings great success
  • In the Cards: Likely; likely to occur
  • Play the Percentages: Bet on or rely on what is most likely to happen
  • Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: Back up your opinions with a financial commitment
  • Roll the Dice On: Take a risk
  • Run the Table: Win every game or contest
  • Shell Game: A method of deception in which you conceal your actions by moving something frequently
  • Show Your Cards: Reveal your resources or plans
  • Sweeten the Pot: Increase the amount of winnings potentially available in a game of chance, especially poker
  • The Deck Is (The Cards Are): Stacked Against You Unfavorable conditions exist.
  • Play the Ponies: Bet on horse racing.
  • The Only Game in Town: The sole option for a particular service.
  • Throw the Game: Intentionally lose a contest, usually in collusion with gamblers
  • Tip One’s Hand: Reveal one’s advantages; reveal useful information that one possesses
  • Play Your Cards Right: Exploit a situation to your best advantage
  • Up the Ante: Raise the stakes; increase the importance of something under discussion
  • When the Chips Are Down: When a situation becomes urgent or difficult
  • Throw the Match: Intentionally lose a contest, usually in collusion with gamblers
  • Throw the Fight: Intentionally lose a contest, usually in collusion with gamblers

Music idioms

List of music idioms in English:

  • (It’s) Not Over Till the Fat Lady Sings: The situation may change; nothing is certain until the conclusion
  • (To) Play Second Fiddle: To play a subordinate role to someone
  • 4-On-The-Floor: In music, steady, uniformly accented beat in 4/4 time, a steady beat in four
  • All That Jazz: Similar things, similar qualities, et cetera
  • Beat the Drum for (Something): Speak in favor of something to try to generate support
  • Blow the Whistle: Reporting an illegal or unacceptable activity to the authorities
  • Blow Your Own Trumpet: Brag; emphasize one’s own contributions
  • Call the Tune: Making important decisions and controlling a situation.
  • Change One’s Tune: To alter one’s opinion about something.
  • Chin Music: Meaningless talk
  • Dance to Someone’s Tune: Consistently follow someone’s directions or influence
  • Elevator Music: Pleasant but boring recorded music that is played in public places.
  • Face the Music: Dealing with consequences of one’s actions
  • For a Song: At very low cost
  • It Takes Two to Tango: When something goes wrong involving two people, it’s likely that they share the blame; cooperation is necessary
  • Jam Session: Playing improvised music in an informal setting
  • Jump on the Bandwagon: To follow a trend or craze
  • March to the Beat of Your Own Drum: When someone does things the way they want to, without taking anybody else or anything else into consideration.
  • Music to My Ears: Good to hear; welcome news
  • Play it by Ear: To play a piece of music without referencing sheet music or a recording
  • Ring a Bell: When something seems familiar
  • Second Stringer: A substitute player in a sport; a substitute for a job who is not the most talented person
  • Set something to Music: To write a piece of music to accompany a set of words
  • Sing a Different Tune: Change your opinion
  • Strike A Chord: Used to describe something that is familiar to you, reminds you of something or is connected to you somehow.
  • Swan Song: This expression is used to describe a final act before dying or ending something.
  • Tone-Deaf: Not good at perceiving the impact of one’s words, insensitive
  • Toot Your Own Horn: Brag; emphasize one’s own contributions
  • Whistle in the Dark: To be unrealistically confident or brave; to talk about something of which one has little knowledge
  • Whistling Dixie: Being unrealistically optimistic

Common English Idioms | Image

2000+ Common English Idioms and Their Meanings 13

Sexuality idioms

List of sexuality idioms in English:

  • Bat/Play for Both Teams: To be bisexual.
  • Bat/Play for the Other Team: To be homosexual.
  • Fuck (Or Screw) The Dog (Pooch): To make an embarrassing error
  • Babe Magnet: A man to whom women are attracted
  • Bedroom Eyes: An expression of the eyes that seems to invite sex
  • Boy Toy: A young man who is the lover of an older, often wealthier woman (see toyboy)
  • Come Out of the Closet: Reveal a secret about oneself, usually that one is gay (homosexual)
  • Have the Hots for (Somebody): To be (sexually) attracted to somebody
  • Knock Up: To impregnate a woman. Often used in the form knocked up.
  • Make Love: To have sexual intercourse
  • Red-Light District: A neighborhood with many houses of prostitution
  • Sugar Daddy: A rich man who is generous with younger women in return for sexual favors
  • The Birds and the Bees: Human sexuality and reproduction
  • Rob the Cradle: To be sexually or romantically involved with someone who is very young
  • Wandering Eye: A tendency to look at and desire women or men other than one’s committed romantic partner

Sports idioms

List of sports idioms in English:

  • (The) Ball’s in Your Court: It’s your turn to make an offer or decision.
  • (To Not Have) a Horse in This Race: To have no preference in the outcome of a competition
  • (To Throw Someone a) Curve ball: Say or do something unexpected to someone
  • Against The Run Of Play: A typical of the way a game has been going
  • Ballpark Figure: A rough estimate
  • Come Out Swinging: Respond to something very aggressively
  • Get in Shape: Undertake a program of physical conditioning; exercise regularly
  • Get the Ball Rolling: Do something to begin a process
  • Give Someone a Run for Their Money: Compete effectively with the leader in a particular field
  • Hang Tough: Maintain one’s resolve
  • Hat Trick: Scoring three goals in hockey or soccer (football), or accomplishing three of anything.
  • Heavy Hitter: A powerful, influential person
  • Hit It Out of the Park: Succeed brilliantly
  • Hit the Ground Running: To begin a job or project with no learning or training period needed
  • Jump Through Hoops: Complete a series of tasks in order to satisfy someone
  • Kick Ass, Kick Butt: 1) Defeat badly; 2) be excellent or highly effective (only kick ass would be used for 2)
  • Monday Morning Quarterback: Someone who offers criticisms or comments after already knowing the outcome of something
  • Nail-Biter: A suspenseful event
  • No Holds Barred (usually adj., often hyphenated): Unrestricted, without rules
  • On Deck Next: having the next turn
  • One-Two Punch: A powerful sequence of two events
  • Out of Left Field: Unexpected, random and odd
  • Par for the Course: What would normally be expected. This has a negative connotation.
  • Pick Up the Slack: Do something that someone else is not doing; assume someone else’s responsibilities
  • Pipped to the Post: Defeated by a narrow margin
  • Play Ball: Cooperate, agree to participate
  • Play Hardball: Adopt a tough negotiating position; act aggressively
  • Raise the Bar: Increase standards in a certain competition or area of endeavor
  • Roll With the Punches: Deal with problems by being flexible
  • Rookie Mistake: An error made by an inexperienced person
  • Second Wind: Renewed energy
  • Set the Bar (Too) High: To set a high standard for something
  • Sink or Swim: Fail or succeed
  • Slam Dunk: An effort that is certain to succeed
  • Step Up One’s Game: Work to advance to a higher level of a competition
  • Step Up to the Plate: Prepare to take action, be the person in a group who takes action
  • Sticky Wicket: A difficult, tricky situation
  • Take a Deep Dive (Into): Explore something extensively
  • Take a Hike: Go away
  • Take the Gloves Off: Negotiate in a more aggressive way
  • Throw in the Towel: To give up, admit defeat
  • Toe the Line: Accept authority, follow the rules
  • Touch Base: Meet briefly with someone
  • Tough Sledding: Difficult progress
  • Up to Scratch: Meeting a basic standard of competence or quality
  • Victory Lap: Visible public appearances after a victory or accomplishment
  • Riding High: Enjoying success
  • Swing for the Fences: Attempt to achieve the largest accomplishment possible
  • Have Something in the Bag: Be certain to win

Utterances idioms

List of utterances idioms in English:

  • (A) Far Cry From: Very different from; a very different thing from
  • (A) Fool and His Money Are Soon Parted: Stupid people make bad financial decisions or are easily cheated.
    In the opinion of the speaker, a person has just spent money unnecessarily and is, therefore, a fool.
  • (If) Worst Comes to Worst: If the least favorable developments occur.
  • (Keep It) On the Down Low (D.L.): Keep something secret
  • (That’s) Neither Here Nor There: (That’s) irrelevant.
  • Put Words Into Someone’s Mouth: Attributing an opinion to someone who has never stated that opinion
  • 23 Skidoo: To leave, particularly quickly or at an advantageous time. To be forced to leave quickly.
  • A Little Bird Told Me: I got this information from a source I cannot reveal.
  • A Stitch in Time Saves Nine: Fix something quickly, because if you don’t, it will just get more difficult to fix
  • Act High and Mighty: Be arrogant, presume that one is better than others
  • Actions Speak Louder Than Words: One’s character and intentions are shown more accurately by one’s actions than by one’s words.
  • Age Before Beauty: Something said by a younger woman to an older one, for instance allowing her to pass through a doorway
  • Aha Moment: Sudden realization, the point at which one suddenly understands something
  • Beyond the Shadow of a Doubt: Absolutely certain
  • Bucket List: Things you want to see or do before you die
  • By All Means: Of course, certainly
  • Call It a Night: End an evening’s activities and go home
  • Cheap Shot: An unfair attack; a statement that unfairly attacks someone’s weakness
  • Claim to Fame: Unusual feature or offering
  • Close, But No Cigar: You are very close but not quite correct.
  • Draw a Long Bow: Exaggerate, lie
  • Every Man for Himself: Pursue your own interests; don’t expect help from others.
  • Fed Up With: Refusing to tolerate something any further; out of patience
  • For Crying Out Loud (excl.): An expression of extreme annoyance
  • FUBAR: Hopelessly ruined, not working, messed up.
  • Get A Word In Edgewise: Be able to say something while someone else is talking a lot
  • Get the Picture: Understand what’s happening
  • Give ’em Hell (often excl.): Express something passionately to a group
  • Have Your Say: Express your opinion on something
  • He Who Laughs Last Laughs Best: Being victorious is often a matter of simply surviving a conflict
  • Heads Up!: Be careful!
  • Hold One’s Peace: Be silent
  • I Wouldn’t Put It Past (Someone): I think it’s quite possible that [this person] would do this.
  • If It Had Been a Snake, It Would Have Bitten Me: It was very obvious, but I missed it.
  • If the Shoe Fits, Wear It: If this description of you is accurate, accept it.
  • It Won’t Fly: It won’t work; it won’t be approved.
  • Join the Club (excl.): I feel sympathy for you because I have experienced something similar.
  • Last But Not Least: What I have just said does not reflect a ranking in importance.
  • Leave Someone in the Lurch: Abandon someone in a difficult situation
  • Look the Other Way: Take no notice of violations of laws or rules, unofficially condone something
  • Make Nice: Act cordial despite conflict
  • Much Of A Muchness: Essentially equal, not significantly different (said of a choice)
  • Mum’s the Word: This is secret; don’t talk about this. Often used as an answer to a request not to talk about something.
  • No Rhyme or Reason (to): Without logic or pattern
  • No Shit, Sherlock: That’s very obvious!
  • Not One’s Cup of Tea: Not something one is interested in
  • Not Sit Well with (Someone): Be difficult to accept; make someone uncomfortable
  • Nothing to Write Home About: Unspectacular, ordinary
  • On a Hiding to Nothing: Engaged in a futile task; attempting something impossible
  • On the Down Low (D.L.): Secretly
  • Once Bitten, Twice Shy: Once one has had a bad experience with something, he or she will be reluctant to try it again.
  • Or Else (by itself): Or I will do something terrible to you.
  • Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire: One problem has been solved, but it’s been replaced by a worse one.
  • Out of the Way: 1) Not obstructing, not in the way; 2) Finished, taken care of; 3) in a remote location
  • Out of This World: Fantastic, extraordinary
  • Pep Talk: An encouraging speech given to a person or group
  • Pull Out All the Stops: Do everything possible to accomplish something
  • Put Up with (Something): Tolerate, accept
  • Quote Unquote: Ironically speaking; suggesting that if a phrase were written out, it would be in quotation marks to convey sarcasm
  • Raise One’s Voice: Talk loudly
  • Shape Up or Ship Out: Behave properly or leave the organization
  • Sit Tight: Wait and do not go anywhere
  • Sitting Pretty: In a favorable situation
  • Speak of the Devil (and He Shall Appear): The person we have just been talking about has entered.
  • Sweet Dreams!: Sleep well!
  • Take It Easy: 1) Relax, rest; 2) (as a command) Calm down!
  • Tell It to the Marines: I don’t believe you; you must think I’m gullible.
  • That’s a Stretch: What you are suggesting is very difficult to believe; I am very skeptical
  • That’s All She Wrote: That was the end of the story.
  • The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same: Although something may seem superficially new, it has not altered the basic situation.
  • The Whole Shebang: Everything, all the parts of something
  • There But For The Grace Of God Go I: I could easily have done what that person did.
  • Third Time’s a Charm: Even if you fail at something twice, you may well succeed the third time.
  • Through Thick and Thin: In good times and bad
  • Throw Someone for a Loop: Deeply surprise someone; catch someone off guard
  • To Each His Own: People have different tastes.
  • Trash Talk: Insults directed at one’s opponent in a sporting event or contest
  • Turnabout Is Fair Play: If you suffer from the same suffering you have inflicted on others, that’s only fair
  • Vale of Tears: The world in general, envisioned as a sad place; the tribulations of life
  • We’ll Cross That Bridge: When We Come to It We’ll deal with that problem if and when it comes up
  • What Do You Make of (Him)?: What is your evaluation of this person?
  • When It Rains, It Pours: Problems tend to come in groups.
  • Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way: If you have a strong desire to accomplish something, you will achieve it even in the face of considerable odds.
  • What Goes Around Comes Around: The kind of treatment you give to others will eventually return to you; things go in cycles
  • Worn to a Frazzle: Exhausted, completely worn out
  • You Can Say That Again!: I agree totally!
  • When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do: When you visit a new place, follow the customs of the people there
  • You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover: You can’t know people (or things) well by their external appearances.
  • Your Guess Is as Good as Mine: I don’t know; I have no idea
  • Yours Truly: Me
  • When In Doubt, Leave It Out: When unsure about something, omit it.
  • Give Someone a Holler: Contact someone
  • Farther (On) Down the Road: Later, at some unspecified time
  • Make a Break for It: Try to escape, run off
  • Move Heaven and Earth: Take all possible steps in trying to accomplish something
  • Give Lip Service: to Talk about supporting something without taking any concrete action
  • On the Take: Regularly accepting bribes
  • It’s a Wash: A positive and a negative development cancel each other out, so the situation has neither improved nor gotten worse
  • On the Q.T.: Secretly, in confidence
  • All Over But The Shouting: Certain to end in a specific way

GENERAL IDIOMS | English Idioms

2000+ Common English Idioms and Their Meanings 14

Colors idioms

List of colors idioms in English:

  • Red Flag: A warning; a sign of trouble ahead
  • (To Be) Yellow: Be cowardly
  • Show One’s True Colors: Reveal one’s true nature
  • Black and White: A clear distinction between good and bad, positive and negative

Numbers idioms

List of common numbers idioms in English:

  • (Do Something) By the Numbers; By the Book: To follow instructions exactly
  • A Million and One: Very many
  • All in One Piece: Safely
  • And Counting: And the number just mentioned is increasing (or decreasing)
  • At Sixes and Sevens: Someone is in a state of confusion or not very well organized.
  • At the Eleventh Hour: It happens when it is almost too late.
  • Back to Square One: Back to the start
  • Be in Seventh Heaven: Extremely happy
  • Be in Two Minds (about something): To not be certain about something, or to have difficulty in making a decision
  • Cast the First Stone: To be the first to criticize or attack someone
  • Dressed Up to the Nines: Someone is wearing very smart or glamorous clothes
  • Eighty-Six (v.): 1) Discard, eliminate. 2) Throw someone out of a bar or store.
  • Feel Like a Million Dollars: To feel great, to feel well and healthy.
  • Get the Third Degree: To be questioned in great detail about something
  • Have One Over the Eight: A person is slightly drunk.
  • Have One Too Many: Drink too much alcohol
  • It Takes Two to Tango: You say this when you think that a difficult situation or argument cannot be the fault of one person alone.
  • Kill Two Birds with One Stone: Solve two problems with one move
  • Never in A Million Years: Absolutely never
  • Nine Times Out of Ten: Almost always
  • Nine-to-Five Job: A routine job in an office that involves standard office hours
  • On All Fours: You are down on your hands and knees.
  • On Cloud Nine: Very happy
  • One For the Road: Have a drink before leaving
  • Put in One’s Two Cents: Say your opinion
  • Six Feet Under: Dead and buried
  • Square the Circle: Attempt an impossible task
  • Stand On One’s Own Two Feet: To be independent and self-sufficient
  • Take Five: To take one brief (about five minutes) rest period
  • Ten to One: Something very likely
  • Two Peas in A Pod: Two people who are very similar in appearance
  • Zero In On: Focus closely on something; take aim at something

Measurements idioms

List of measurements idioms in English:

  • (The) Whole Nine Yards: The entire amount; everything; all of something
  • A Bit Much: More than is reasonable; a bit too much
  • A Cut Above: Slightly better than
  • A Cut Below: Inferior to; somewhat lower in quality than
  • A Good Deal: To a large extent, a lot
  • A Great Deal: To a very large extent
  • A Hundred And Ten Percent: More than what seems to be the maximum
  • A Notch Above: Superior to; higher in quality
  • A Stone’s Throw: A very short distance
  • A Tall Order: A difficult task
  • Above And Beyond: More than is expected or required
  • Along The Lines Of: In general accordance with, in the same general direction as
  • Angle For: Aim toward something, try to obtain something, often indirectly or secretly
  • By a Whisker: By a very short distance
  • I’ve Had It Up to Here: My patience is almost exhausted.
  • Larger Than Life: Conveying a sense of greatness, imposing
  • Move the Needle: Have a measurable effect on something
  • On the Dot: Exactly; at an expected interval
  • Vicious Circle: A situation in which an attempt to solve a problem makes the original problem worse.
  • High as a Kite: Strongly under the influence of drugs or intoxcants
  • Head and Shoulders Above: Far superior to

Other Ways to Say | English Idioms

List of common English idioms:

  • (A) Few X Short of a Y: Crazy, mentally impaired
  • (Get the) Short End of the Stick: (Emerge with) a disadvantage in a deal or negotiation; (get a) bad deal
  • (In) Full Swing: Completely in operation as planned
  • (The) Door Swings Both Ways: The same principle can apply mutually in a relationship
  • (The) X Factor: An aspect of a situation with an unknown impact; an indefinable appeal
  • (To Be) Shit out of Luck (SOL): To be completely out of luck; to experience very bad fortune
  • Grasp (Grab) at Straws: To take desperate actions with little hope of success
  • Pull Strings: Use influence that’s based on personal connections
  • (To) Shit It In: Succeed easily; be doing well
  • A Life Of Its Own: An indepdendent existence
  • Above Board: Openly, without deceit. Honestly, reputably.
  • (The) Lights Are On, But Nobody’s Home: This person appears normal but is deficient in mental functioning, stupid
  • (To Be) Hoist By Your Own Petard: To be hurt by one’s own aggressive plans
  • Ace Up One’s Sleeve: A surprise advantage of which others are not aware.
  • Add Insult to Injury: Humiliate someone in addition to doing damage to him or her
  • (The) Whole Kit and Caboodle: The entire collection of something; all of something
  • Airy Fairy: whimsical, nonsensical, impractical
  • All And Sundry: Everyone(separately) Each one.
  • All Very Well: True to a certain extent
  • American Dream (The): The belief among Americans that hard work leads to material success
  • And All That: Et cetera, and so on.
  • And So On: Indicates that a list continues in a similar manner, etc.
  • All The Same: Anyway; nevertheless; nonetheless.
  • And The Like: And other similar items, etc.
  • And Then Some: And even more than what has just been mentioned
  • All Set: Ready, prepared, finished
  • Answer Back: Respond impertinently; to talk back.
  • Back At You: Same to you (used to return a greeting or insult)
  • Back in the Day: Formerly, when I was younger, in earlier times
  • And So Forth: Indicates that a list continues in a similar manner, etc.
  • Beggar Thy Neighbor: To do something beneficial for oneself without worrying about how it affects others
  • Best of Both Worlds: Combining two qualities that are usually separate
  • Borrow Trouble: Take needless risks, invite problems
  • Carry the Can: To take the blame for something one did not do
  • Catch-22: A difficult situation from which there is no escape because options for avoiding it involve contradictions
  • Come By Something Honestly: Acquire something honestly, or inherit it
  • Come Clean: To confess; to admit to wrongdoing
  • Come to Grips With: To acknowledge a problem as a prelude to dealing with it
  • Draw a Line Under (Something): To conclude something and move on to something else
  • Draw the Line: To set a limit to what one will accept
  • Drop a Line: To write a letter or send an email
  • Dry Run: A practice execution of a procedure
  • Face the Music: To accept judgment or punishment
  • Fall Prey to: Be victimized by; be harmed by; be vulnerable to
  • Flash in the Pan: A one-time occurrence, not a permanent phenomenon
  • Follow In Someone’s Footsteps (Tracks): Follow the example laid down by someone else; supplant
  • For Xyz Reasons: For multiple reasons, not worth specifying individually
  • Fourth Estate: The media and newspapers
  • Get Along (with Someone): To have a satisfactory relationship
  • Get the Runaround: Be given an unclear or evasive answer to a question
  • Get With the Program: Figure out what everyone else already knows. Often used sarcastically, as a command
  • Go Along (With): Agree to something, often provisionally
  • Go Down in Flames: Fail in a spectacular way
  • Hatchet Job: A strong attack on someone’s reputation; intentionally destructive criticism; calumny
  • Haul Over the Coals: To scold someone severely
  • Heart and Soul: With all one’s energy or affection
  • Home Truths: Honest, often painful criticism
  • Hot Mess: Something or someone in a state of extreme disorder
  • In One Fell Swoop: All at once, in a single action
  • Just for the Record: I would like to make it clear that …
  • Keep (Something) at Bay: Maintain a distance from something or someone
  • Let the Genie Out of the Bottle: Reveal something hitherto suppressed
  • Live Large: Have a luxurious lifestyle
  • Make One’s Mark: Attain influence or recognition
  • Make Waves: Cause controversy, disturb a calm group dynamic
  • Nailing Jelly/Jello/Pudding To A Wall/Tree: An impossible task
  • Out of Nowhere: Unexpectedly
  • No Names, No Pack Drill: If no one can be identified, no one will be punished.
  • Off the Beaten Path: Remote; not a usual destination; not easily reached
  • On a Roll: Succeeding consistently
  • Out of Luck: Unlucky in a single instance; temporarily unfortunate
  • Out of the Picture: No longer under consideration; eliminated from a contest
  • Page-Turner: A page-turner is an exciting book that’s easy to read, a book that’s difficult to put down.
  • Out of Line: Improper, behaving improperly
  • Point of No Return: A place from which it is impossible to go back to the starting point
  • Put the Genie Back in the Bottle: Try to suppress something that has already been revealed or done
  • Out of Order: Not working properly
  • Queer the Pitch: Interfere with someone’s plans; make something more difficult
  • Rake (Someone) Over the Coals: To scold someone severely
  • School Of Hard Knocks: Difficult real-life experiences from which one has learned
  • Set the World on Fire: Do something amazing; have a brilliant stretch in one’s career
  • Show Me an X And I’ll Show You a Y: There is a consequence to X that you may not have thought of.
  • Six of One, a Half Dozen of the Other: The two choices have no significant differences.
  • Out of the Blue: Unexpectedly
  • Small Beer: Unimportant, insignificant
  • Snafu: A malfunction; a chaotic situation
  • Spick and Span: Clean and neat
  • Stand (Someone) In Good Stead: Be useful in the future
  • Sure-Fire: Certain to occur
  • Take (Someone) to the Cleaners: 1) Swindle; 2) defeat badly
  • Take A Powder: To leave, especially in order to avoid a difficult situation
  • Take the Shine Off (Something): To do something that diminishes a positive event
  • Take the Starch out of (Someone): Make someone less confident or less arrogant
  • Take Your Life in Your Hands: Undergo extreme risk
  • Tee Many Martoonies: Too many martinis, scrambled to suggest drunkenness
  • Test the Waters: Try something out in a preliminary way
  • The Jig Is Up: A secret illicit activity has been exposed; your trickery is finished
  • Thin On The Ground: Rare, seldom encountered
  • This Has (Person X) Written All Over It: [Person X] would really like or be well suited to this.
  • Throw a Wet Blanket on (Something): Discourage plans for something
  • To the Letter: Exactly (said of instructions or procedures)
  • Tread Water: Maintain a current situation without improvement or decline
  • Under Wraps: Temporarily hidden, secret
  • University of Life: Difficult real-life experience, as opposed to formal education
  • Up for Grabs: Available for anyone
  • Wouldn’t Be Caught Dead: Would absolutely not allow myself to do this
  • You Know the Drill: You are already familiar with the procedure.
  • Zig When One Should Be Zagging: To make an error; to choose an incorrect course

Place names idioms

List of place names idioms in English:

  • 10 Downing Street: The title or office of the Prime Minister. The government of the United Kingdom
  • 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: The current U.S. President and administration members; the White House
  • Shipshape And Bristol Fashion: Tidy, clean

Time and times of day idioms

List of common time and times of day idioms in English:

  • (Once In A) Blue Moon: Very rarely
  • (Seen in the) Cold Light of Day: From a realistic rather than wishful perspective
  • (Your) Days Are Numbered: (You) will die soon.
  • 15 Minutes Of Fame: A very short time in the spotlight or brief flurry with fame, after which the person or subject involved is quickly forgotten
  • A Week Is A Long Time In _____: In the field mentioned, the situation may change rapidly
  • About Time: Far past the desired time
  • About To: On the point of, occurring imminently
  • Against the Clock: In a very limited amount of time; with a shortage of time being the main problem
  • Ahead Of The Curve: Innovative, devising new ideas in advance of others
  • All Along: For the entire time something has been happening
  • All In Good Time: Eventually; at a more favorable time in the future. This phrase encourages one to be patient.
  • Around the Clock: At all times
  • At the End of the Day: In the final analysis; when all is said and done
  • Behind the Times: Old-fashioned
  • Better late Than Never: It implies that a belated achievement is better than not reaching a goal at all.
  • Big time: If you do something big time, you do it to a great degree.
  • Buy Time: Cause a delay in something with the aim of improving one’s position
  • Coming Down the Pike: Likely to occur in the near future
  • Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Temporary renown
  • Have the Time of Your Life: To have a very fun, exciting, or enjoyable time
  • In a New York Minute: Very quickly
  • Living on Borrowed Time: Following an illness or near-death experience, may people believe they have cheated death
  • May-December (adj.): Significantly different in age. Said of couples where one member is much older. The most common usage is May-December romance.
  • Month of Sundays: A long time, many months
  • In the Blink of an Eye: Quickly, seemingly instantaneously
  • In the Dark: Unaware of something
  • Not Ready for Prime Time: Not yet perfected; inexperienced
  • On the Spot: Immediately, with no intervening time
  • In the Interim: It denotes a period of time between something that ended and something that happened afterwards
  • On the spur of the moment: This popular saying denotes a spontaneous or sudden undertaking.
  • Once in a Blue Moon: This idiom means something is rare or infrequent
  • Once in a While: Occasionally
  • In the Long Run: Over an extended period of time
  • In the Nick of Time: Just in time; with no time to spare
  • Open Season: A time when someone can be criticized or attacked without restriction.
  • Quarter Past: Fifteen minutes after the hour
  • Quarter To/Of: Fifteen minutes before the hour
  • In Broad Daylight: When something occurs in broad daylight, it means the event is clearly visible
  • Seize the Day: Take an opportunity
  • Six Ways to (from) Sunday: In every possible way
  • Take Your Time: Don’t hurry, work at a relaxed pace
  • The Time is Ripe: If you say that the time is ripe, you mean that it is a suitable point for a particular activity
  • Time is Money: time is valuable, so don’t waste it.
  • Twenty-Four Seven: At any time
  • Year In, Year Out: Annually without change

List of Useful English Idioms | Pictures

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