If you’re reading this, you’re probably searching for examples of idioms in English. Good news, you’ve come to the right place! Your spouse cooks dinner for your birthday and you say it is “killer”. Or you go out with friends, and after a fun evening, you tell them you need to “bounce”. Idioms are fun for a lot of reasons. One reason might be the way people freeze in mid-sentence and stare, wondering whether they ought to do something.
Your spouse, who cooked the killer meal, might be wondering whether to call the doctor. Your friends might wonder whether to call your therapist. But there is no doubt about it, idioms add a whole new facet to language, and English is full to the rafters of more idioms than it knows what to do with.
Examples of Idioms
List of 50 common English idioms and their meanings
1. Will you choose the carrot or the stick?
Would you rather do what you’re supposed to and be rewarded, or do what you want, and get punished?
2. She acts like she just fell off the turnip truck
She acts unpolished.
3. He is cool as a cucumber
He doesn’t get upset easily.
4. He is a carrot top.
He has red hair.
5. Don’t be such a sad sack
6. Cut off at the Knees
All opportunity was taken away.
7. Shoot, I forgot.
I am disappointed that I forgot.
8. Bingo, bango, bongo
There. That’s done.
9. The Banana Republic
Weak or failing government
10. One-trick pony
A person who can only do one thing at a time.
11. Apple polisher
A person who does things to please the one in authority
12. Kissing up
Trying to get on the good side of the person in authority.
13. Try to weasel out
Try to get out of punishment for wrong by whatever means possible
14. You are the apple of my eye
I love you
15. Gets a wild hair
Do crazy things/has crazy ideas sometimes
16. Just take some hair of the dog
Comes from hair of the dog that bit you. Means to take some more of what made a problem in hopes of lessening
the initial effects. Usually used when someone has a hangover from drinking too much alcohol.
17. Started out on the wrong foot.
Usually refers to when two people who just met don’t act very nice.
18. Take the lion’s share.
Lion’s share is the larger portion.
19. That really gets my goat.
That irritates me.
20. Don’t let the cat out of the bag
Don’t tell the secret.
21. Pulling my hair out over this
Can’t figure out how to solve this problem
22. Ankle biters
23. It’s a nail biter
It is causing worry.
24. One way or the other
It will get accomplished somehow
25. They froze him out.
They stopped interacting with him.
A person who says bad things about another person
27. Whether you like it or not
Self-explanatory. Used a lot by parents to children.
28. Take it or leave it
You might not like your choices, but these choices are all you’ve got.
29. Dance faster than a cat on a hot tin roof
Get things done fast.
30. Nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs
31. He’s got one foot on a banana peel
Getting old. Often said together with the next one.
32. One foot in the grave.
Close to dying.
33. He always has his foot in his mouth.
Always saying the wrong thing.
34. Get a toe in the water
To get started at something or in a place, even in a small way. Can also mean to try something out.
35. Get a foot in the door.
Usually refers to a job, getting in a company, and starting at the bottom.
36. A real bird brain.
Doesn’t think things through/isn’t a very deep thinker.
37. Sure as God made little green apples.
38. I saw the light
Had an epiphany/spiritual awakening.
39. Fighting like an old married couple
Having a big argument
40. Pass the olive branch
Make a conciliatory gesture.
41. Nectar of the gods
42. Too good for words
Kind of says it all.
43. Gate swings both ways
44. Has his foot on their neck
Is holding them down
45. I will get out of your hair
I will get out of your way
46. Let sleeping dogs lie
Allow what is in the past to stay in the past.
47. It is a lemon
It is no good.
48. I don’t give a fig
I don’t care
49. I consider it sour grapes
I consider it not worth bothering with.
50. The assignment was a plum assignment.
It was an incredible assignment.
Examples of Idioms | Infographic