The English language is peppered with colorful and often puzzling expressions that can bring a smile to our faces. Funny idioms are an essential part of everyday English, providing a creative and humorous twist to the language.
When we say someone has ‘let the cat out of the bag’, we aren’t talking about a feline escape artist, but about revealing a secret unintentionally. These idioms enrich our conversations and often catch us off guard with their wit, making communication a joyfully unpredictable endeavor.
What Are Funny Idioms?
Funny idioms are expressions in the English language that go beyond their literal meaning to offer a more colorful or humorous understanding. We often use these turns of phrase to convey a scenario in a playful way, infusing everyday conversations with a dash of creativity.
Here’s how funny idioms work in our speech:
- Metaphorical Meaning: The phrases imply something very different from what the individual words suggest. For example, when we say “raining cats and dogs,” we mean it’s raining very heavily, not household pets falling from the sky!
- Cultural Color: Many idioms have roots in specific historical or cultural practices. “Get someone’s goat,” hints at how goats were used to calm racehorses, and stealing one might upset the horse, thus ‘getting the goat’ of its owner.
To break it down, here are a few examples:
|Spill the beans
|Reveal a secret unintentionally
|A piece of cake
|Something very easy to do
|Let the cat out of the bag
|Disclose a secret accidentally
|Bite off more than you can chew
|Take on a task that is too big
List of Funny Idioms With Meanings and Examples
|Meanings with Example Sentences
|Cry over spilt milk
|To be upset about something that has already happened and cannot be changed.
Example: “There’s no use crying over spilt milk. Let’s just move on from this mistake.”
|Kick the bucket
Example: “I was shocked to hear that the old man down the street finally kicked the bucket.”
|Let the cat out of the bag
|To reveal a secret unintentionally.
Example: “I let the cat out of the bag about the surprise party for Julie.”
|Hit the nail on the head
|To describe exactly what is causing a situation or problem.
Example: “You hit the nail on the head when you said the issue was poor communication.”
|When pigs fly
|Something that will never happen.
Example: “He’ll clean his room when pigs fly.”
|Bite off more than you can chew
|To take on a task that is too big to handle.
Example: “By accepting both jobs, he’s bitten off more than he can chew.”
|A piece of cake
|Something very easy to do.
Example: “The exam was a piece of cake.”
|Go down the rabbit hole
|To enter into a situation or begin a process that is particularly complex or chaotic.
Example: “I went down the rabbit hole trying to understand quantum physics.”
|Burn the midnight oil
|To work late into the night.
Example: “I have to burn the midnight oil to get this project done on time.”
|Spill the beans
|To give away a secret.
Example: “Come on, spill the beans! Who won the contest?”
|Break the ice
|To do or say something to relieve tension or get the conversation going in a social setting.
Example: “Telling a joke is a good way to break the ice at a party.”
|Barking up the wrong tree
|To be mistaken or misguided.
Example: “If you think I’m the one who broke the vase, you’re barking up the wrong tree.”
|The pot calling the kettle black
|Accusing someone of faults that one also has.
Example: “He’s accusing me of being lazy? That’s the pot calling the kettle black!“
|Beat around the bush
|To avoid getting to the point or avoid giving a direct answer.
Example: “Stop beating around the bush and tell me what really happened.”
|Put all your eggs in one basket
|To risk everything on a single opportunity or plan.
Example: “Investing all your money in one company is like putting all your eggs in one basket.”
|A penny for your thoughts
|A way of asking what someone is thinking about.
Example: “You’ve been quiet all night—a penny for your thoughts?”
|At the drop of a hat
|Without any hesitation; instantly.
Example: “She’s always ready to travel at the drop of a hat.”
|The ball is in your court
|It is up to you to make the next decision or step.
Example: “I’ve done all I can, now the ball is in your court.”
|Hit the sack / Hit the hay
|To go to bed.
Example: “It’s been a long day—I’m going to hit the sack.”
|Out of the blue
|Something happened unexpectedly.
Example: “He decided to move to Spain out of the blue.”
|Under the weather
|Feeling ill or sick.
Example: “I’m feeling a bit under the weather today, so I’ll stay home.”
|Kill two birds with one stone
|To accomplish two different things at the same time.
Example: “By studying on the treadmill, I can kill two birds with one stone.”
|Let sleeping dogs lie
|To avoid restarting a conflict.
Example: “It’s better to let sleeping dogs lie than bring up old arguments.”
|More than meets the eye
|More complex or interesting than one might initially think.
Example: “This puzzle has more than meets the eye.”
|Not playing with a full deck
|Not having all the mental faculties; someone who lacks intelligence or sense.
Example: “He’s definitely not playing with a full deck.”
|Off the hook
|No longer in a difficult situation or problem.
Example: “You’re off the hook this time, but don’t do it again!”
|Over the moon
|Extremely pleased or happy.
Example: “She was over the moon when she found out she got the promotion.”
|Piece of the pie
|A share of an amount of money or business.
Example: “Everyone wants a piece of the pie when it comes to this lucrative deal.”
|Raining cats and dogs
|Raining very heavily.
Example: “I forgot my umbrella, and it was raining cats and dogs.”
|See eye to eye
|To agree with someone.
Example: “It’s refreshing to see eye to eye with you on this topic.”
|Take it with a grain of salt
|To not take what someone says too seriously.
Example: “I take everything he says with a grain of salt.”
|Through thick and thin
|Through good times and bad times.
Example: “She has been my friend through thick and thin.“
|Under your nose
|Right in front of you, often overlooked.
Example: “The keys were right under your nose the whole time!”
|When hell freezes over
Example: “I’ll agree to that when hell freezes over.“
|You can’t judge a book by its cover
|Not to judge something or someone by appearances alone.
Example: “He may not look like a typical athlete, but you can’t judge a book by its cover.”
|Zip your lip
|To stop talking or to keep something secret.
Example: “You better zip your lip before you say something you’ll regret.”
|Bite the bullet
|To endure a painful or unpleasant situation that is unavoidable.
Example: “I hate going to the dentist, but I’ll just have to bite the bullet.”
|A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
|Having something for certain is better than the possibility of something better that may not come to pass.
Example: “I might get a better offer, but a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, so I’ll take this job.”
|Chew the fat
|To chat in a leisurely and prolonged way.
Example: “We sat on the porch and chewed the fat until midnight.”
Funny Idioms by Topics
Get someone’s goat:
- To annoy or irritate someone. Surprisingly, this saying originated from the practice of placing goats with racehorses to calm them down—stealing the goat could agitate the horse.
- Example: “Deliberately changing the subject every time he brought up politics really got his goat.”
Play cat and mouse:
- This expression is often used to describe a situation where there is an imbalance of power or control and one party is deliberately elusive or playing games with the other.
- Example: “The detectives were playing cat and mouse with the suspect, carefully planning their next move.”
Sick as a Parrot:
- It is a colorful way of saying that someone is feeling extremely let down or gutted, often as a result of an event not turning out as they had hoped or expected. The phrase is commonly used in the context of sports, such as when a fan’s favorite team loses a match.
- Example: “When his team lost the championship game, he was sick as a parrot.”
Cat got your tongue?:
- When someone is at a loss for words or is unusually quiet. The funny visual here is imagining a cat physically grabbing someone’s tongue, rendering them speechless.
- Example: “You’ve been so quiet all evening—cat got your tongue?”
- To silly or deceitful behavior. The term evokes the playful and mischievous antics of monkeys, suggesting a sense of chaos or tomfoolery that is often humorous in nature.
- Example: “The kids were up to some monkey business when they thought no one was watching, sneaking cookies out of the jar.”
Hold your horses
- To wait or to hold on a moment.
- Example: “Hold your horses, I’m not ready to leave the house yet!”
Explore more: Animal idioms
Best thing since sliced bread
- Describes a new invention or innovation that is believed to be superb or excellent. Sliced bread being considered a great invention leads to its humorous use as a benchmark.
- Example: “She thinks her new smartphone is the best thing since sliced bread.”
Apple of One’s Eye
- The phrase evolved to mean someone who is treasured and held in high regard, often used to describe the way someone feels about a loved one, such as a child, a partner, or a close friend.
- Example: “His granddaughter is the apple of his eye.”
- Describe a person who is important, influential, or holds a significant position of authority or power, typically within an organization or a particular field.
- Example: “She’s the big cheese in the company, so you’ll need to ask her for permission.”
Cut the Mustard
- To meet the required standard or to be good enough to handle a task or situation.
- Example: “I’m not sure this old computer can cut the mustard with the latest software updates.”
Eat Humble Pie
- To admit one’s mistakes or faults and apologize for them, often in a humbling or humiliating manner.
- Example: “After boasting about his skills, he had to eat humble pie when he was defeated easily.”
Cool as a cucumber
- To remain calm and composed, even in a stressful situation.
- Example: “Even when the presentation equipment failed, she was as cool as a cucumber.”
Study more: Food Idioms
Think outside the box
- To think creatively, without adhering to conventional ideas or norms.
- Example: “We need to think outside the box if we’re going to solve this problem.”
Back to the drawing board
- To start over and go back to the planning stage after a failure.
- Example: “Our proposal was rejected, so it’s back to the drawing board for us.”
Pull your weight
- To do your fair share of work.
- Example: “Everyone needs to pull their weight if we’re going to meet the deadline.”
Burn the midnight oil
- To work late into the night or early morning hours.
- Example: “We’re going to have to burn the midnight oil to get this presentation ready for tomorrow.”
Face the music
- To confront the consequences of one’s actions, often unpleasant ones.
- Example: “After the audit, he had to face the music for the accounting discrepancies.”
Throw in the towel
- To give up on something; to quit.
- Example: “After several failed attempts to launch the product, they finally threw in the towel.”
Last Updated on November 27, 2023
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