40 Idioms for Kids in the English Language

“Idioms for kids” is your enchanting guide through the maze of colorful expressions that pepper our daily language. Imagine a place where cats and dogs fall from the sky, where beans spill secrets, and where pulling someone’s leg is all in good fun. This is the playground of idioms, where children can frolic among sayings that have been passed down through generations, each one packed with history, humor, and wisdom.

As we embark on this linguistic adventure, we’ll uncover the magic behind these peculiar phrases, learning not only what they mean, but also how they can add flavor to our conversations and storytelling. So, buckle up, young wordsmiths, and prepare to be tickled pink by the fascinating twists and turns of idiomatic expressions!

What Are Idioms for Kids?

Idioms are phrases where the words together have a meaning that’s different from the dictionary definitions of the individual words. We use idioms to add color and personality to our language, and they can be quite fun, especially for kids. They often present imagery that can be amusing or descriptive in a way that direct language isn’t.

40 Idioms for Kids in the English Language Pin

When we teach kids idioms, it’s like giving them a secret key to unlock parts of the English language that might not be immediately obvious. It helps them understand not just the language, but also a bit about the culture that uses these expressions.

Examples of Idioms:

  • Piece of cake – This means something is very easy.
  • Break a leg – A way of saying “Good luck,” especially before a performance.

Characteristics of Idioms

  • Figurative Meaning: The message conveyed by the idiom is not literal but represents something else.
  • Cultural Context: Idioms often originate from historical, cultural, or literary sources.
  • Expressiveness: They add an expressive flair to our conversations and writing.

Why Teach Idioms to Kids?

  • Enhances Vocabulary: Kids learn new phrases that enrich their language skills.
  • Improves Comprehension: They’ll better grasp what they read and hear in English.
  • Cultural Understanding: Kids get insights into English-speaking cultures.

Common Idioms for Kids

Cool as a cucumber

  • Meaning: To remain calm and composed, even in a stressful situation.
  • Example: “Even though he was about to give the biggest presentation of his life, he was cool as a cucumber.”

Piece of cake

  • Meaning: Something that is very easy to do.
  • Example: “I was worried about the test, but it turned out to be a piece of cake.”

When pigs fly

  • Meaning: Something that will never happen.
  • Example: “He says he’ll clean his room by himself, but I think that’ll happen when pigs fly.”

Cry over spilled milk

  • Meaning: To be upset about things that have already happened and cannot be changed.
  • Example: “I know you’re sad you broke your toy, but there’s no use crying over spilled milk.”

Hit the hay

  • Meaning: To go to bed.
  • Example: “It’s way past your bedtime, come on, let’s hit the hay.”

Out of the blue

  • Meaning: Something happening unexpectedly.
  • Example: “I hadn’t seen him in years, and then, out of the blue, he called me yesterday.”

The apple of my eye

  • Meaning: Someone who is very precious or dear to you.
  • Example: “My youngest daughter is the apple of my eye.”

Under the weather

  • Meaning: Feeling ill or sick.
  • Example: “I won’t be going to school today; I’m feeling a bit under the weather.”

English Idioms for Kids by Topics

Food Idioms

Idioms Meaning and Example
Piece of cake Easy to do.

Example: “Getting an A on this test will be a piece of cake!”

Spill the beans Reveal a secret.

Example: “Oops, I spilled the beans about the surprise party.”

In a nutshell Briefly explaining.

Example: “So, in a nutshell, the book is about a wizard school.”

Big cheese An important person.

Example: “She’s the big cheese in our school.”

Bite off more than you can chew Taking on too much.

Example: “He bit off more than he could chew with all those homework assignments.”

Full plate Very busy.

Example: “I can’t join another club; I’ve got a full plate already.”

Bring home the bacon Earn a living.

Example: “My parents work hard to bring home the bacon.”

Discover more: Food Idioms

Animal Idioms

Idioms Meaning and Example
Cat got your tongue? Unable to speak or silent.

Example: “Why are you so quiet? Cat got your tongue?”

Let the cat out of the bag Reveal a secret by accident.

Example: “He let the cat out of the bag about the surprise trip.”

Busy as a bee Very busy or active.

Example: “She’s been as busy as a bee organizing the school fair.”

Hold your horses Wait or hold on a moment.

Example: Hold your horses, we need to make sure we have everything before we go.”

Cry wolf Give a false alarm.

Example: “If you keep crying wolf, no one will believe you when you’re actually in trouble.”

Straight from the horse’s mouth Getting information from the most reliable source.

Example: “I heard it straight from the horse’s mouth that we’re getting a new playground.”

The elephant in the room Ignoring a big, obvious problem or issue.

Example: “No one talked about the broken window; it was the elephant in the room.”

See more: Animal Idioms

School Idioms

Idioms Meaning and Example
Hit the books To start studying.

Example: “I have a big test tomorrow, so I need to hit the books tonight.”

Teacher’s pet A student who is favored by the teacher.

Example: “She always has the answers, so she’s become the teacher’s pet.”

Class clown A student who is funny and often disrupts the class.

Example: “He makes us laugh all the time; he’s the class clown.”

A for effort Recognition for trying hard.

Example: “You didn’t win the spelling bee, but you got an A for effort!”

School of hard knocks Learning through difficult experiences.

Example: “He didn’t go to college; he’s from the school of hard knocks.”

The three R’s The basics of education: reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Example: “At our school, we focus on the three R’s.”

Cut class To skip class without permission.

Example: “Some students cut class to go to the mall, but they got caught.”

Nature Idioms 

Idioms Meaning and Example
Under the weather Feeling sick or ill.

Example: “I won’t be going to the park today; I’m feeling a bit under the weather.”

A breath of fresh air Something new and refreshing.

Example: “The new art teacher is a breath of fresh air for the school.”

The calm before the storm A peaceful period before a period of difficulty.

Example: “Enjoy the quiet playground now—it’s the calm before the storm of recess.”

Head in the clouds Daydreaming or not paying attention.

Example: “He has his head in the clouds during math class, always dreaming.”

Once in a blue moon Something that happens very rarely.

Example: “We only go to the amusement park once in a blue moon.”

Out of the woods No longer in danger or difficulty.

Example: “We’re not out of the woods yet with this project; there’s still a lot to do.”

Take a leaf out of someone’s book To copy what someone else does because it will bring you success.

Example: “He’s doing so well in class; I might take a leaf out of his book and study more.”

Find out what else: Nature Idioms

Body Idioms

Idioms Meaning and Example
Cost an arm and a leg Very expensive.

Example: “That new bicycle costs an arm and a leg!”

All ears Listening intently.

Example: “Tell me about your day at school—I’m all ears!”

Cold feet Nervous just before a big event.

Example: “He got cold feet before the talent show, but he was great!”

Break a leg Good luck (especially in performance).

Example: “You’re going to do great in the play—break a leg!”

Keep an eye on To watch or look after something or someone.

Example: “Can you keep an eye on my backpack while I go to the restroom?”

Play it by ear To do something without planning; to improvise.

Example: “We don’t have a plan for our field trip; let’s play it by ear.”

Stick your neck out To take a risk.

Example: “He really stuck his neck out when he volunteered to lead the project.”

Get more: Body Idioms

Number Idioms

Idioms Meaning and Example
Back to square one Starting over again.

Example: “We lost our game progress, so now it’s back to square one.”

Two heads are better than one It’s helpful to have someone else’s input or help.

Example: “Let’s work on this puzzle together. Two heads are better than one!”

At the eleventh hour Doing something at the last minute.

Example: “He finished his project at the eleventh hour, just before it was due.”

On cloud nine Extremely happy.

Example: “She was on cloud nine after getting a puppy for her birthday.”

A dime a dozen Something very common and not of much value.

Example: “Those kinds of toys are a dime a dozen.”

Six of one, half a dozen of the other Two things that are essentially the same.

Example: “Whether you take the bus or walk, it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other.”

Dressed to the nines Wearing very fancy or stylish clothes.

Example: “For the school concert, everyone was dressed to the nines.”

Learn more: Number Idioms

Last Updated on November 30, 2023

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