Idiom examples for kids: 50 Idiom Examples to Teach Students

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50 Idiom Examples to Teach Students

Every language has idioms, expressions that have a meaning that isn’t immediately obvious from the words themselves. Over time, we become so used to these phrases and expressions that we don’t even notice them. But young students and those who are learning English as a second language often find idioms confusing. Trying “Idiom of the Day” lessons with your class will build their comfort level.

We’ve put together a list of some of the most common English idioms, complete with meanings and examples. Share these images with your students to deepen their understanding and use of American English idioms in no time flat!

Idiom Examples to Use in Idiom of the Day Lessons

1. A fish out of water

Meaning: Someone in an uncomfortable position or situation

Example: It was Allison’s first day at her new school, and she felt like a fish out of water.

2. Add insult to injury

Meaning: Do something to make a bad situation worse

Example: Learning she failed her science test on the same day her best friend moved away added insult to injury.

3. Anything but

Meaning: Not at all

Example: When they heard about the pop quiz, the students were anything but excited.

4. Barking up the wrong tree

Meaning: To be looking for answers in the wrong place

Example: James thought Christopher was the one who broke the vase, but he was barking up the wrong tree.

5. Beat around the bush

Meaning: To avoid saying what you mean, often because it would be difficult or uncomfortable

Example: Don’t beat around the bush. Just tell me why you can’t come to my birthday party on Friday.

6. Bite the bullet

Meaning: To do something that’s uncomfortable or not fun and get it over with

Example: After putting it off for several days, Alex decided to bite the bullet and start work on the history project.

7. Break a leg

Meaning: Good luck! Often used in the theater before a play or performance

Example: Is your piano recital tonight? Well, break a leg!


Break the ice

Meaning: To do or say something that will make people feel more comfortable

Example: “OK, since none of us have met before, let’s introduce ourselves and break the ice by sharing our favorite ice cream flavor.”

9. Call it a day

Meaning: To stop working on something and plan to pick it up again later

Example: After working for three hours on her science fair project, Sofia decided to call it a day.

10. Costs an arm and a leg

Meaning: To describe something that is very expensive

Example: A new Playstation costs an arm and a leg, so you’d better start saving now if you want to buy one.

11. Cut somebody some slack

Meaning: To ease up on someone, to allow them some leeway or another chance

Example: Even though Jake was late with his English essay, Ms. Davis decided to cut him some slack since she knew he’d had the stomach flu.

12. Cutting corners

Meaning: To do something quickly and badly in order to save time or money

Example: Liza cut corners on her math homework so she could watch TV, and ended up getting most of the answers wrong.

13. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

Meaning: Don’t depend on something before it’s happened

Example: I know you’re sure you’re going to get the lead in the spring play, but don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

14. Every cloud has a silver lining

Meaning: No matter how bad something seems, there’s usually a good side to it as well

Example: Jamal was disappointed that his soccer game was canceled, but it gave him time to go the movies with his friends, and his mom pointed out that every cloud has a silver lining.

15. Get out of hand

Meaning: To become difficult to control

Example: Ms. Rodriguez told her students they could chat while they worked, as long as the noise level didn’t get out of hand.

16. Get something out of your system

Meaning: Do the thing you’ve been wanting to do so you can move on

Example: Mr. Patel knew his students were eager to try out the new playground equipment, so he told them to go ahead and get it out of their system before they started class.

17. Get your act together

Meaning: Behave properly, or organize your thoughts so you can do something successfully

Example: After the third time he was late to class, Connor’s teacher told him he needed to get his act together and start showing up on time.

18. Give someone the benefit of the doubt

Meaning: To trust what someone says, even if you’re not entirely sure what they’re saying is true

Example: Charlotte wasn’t sure Amelia was really late because she missed the bus, but decided to give her the benefit of the doubt.

19. Give someone the cold shoulder

Meaning: To ignore someone, usually because you’re upset or angry with them

Example: Will and Jessica were mad at Emma, so they decided to give her the cold shoulder until she apologized.

20. Go back to the drawing board

Meaning: To start something over again with a completely new idea

Example: When her science experiment failed completely, Hailey knew it was time to go back to the drawing board.

21. Hang in there

Meaning: Don’t give up, keep on trying

Example: “I’m sorry you’re having a rough day,” Lucas told Olivia. “Hang in there. I’m sure things will be better tomorrow.”

22. Hit-or-miss

Meaning: Something that might be good sometimes and bad other times

Example: Anna was a bit hit-or-miss when it came to remembering to take out the trash on Thursdays.

23. Hit the sack/Hit the hay

Meaning: To go to bed

Example: “Nine o’clock!” said Mia’s dad. “It’s time to turn off the TV and hit the sack.”

24. It’s not rocket science

Meaning: Used to describe something that isn’t complicated or difficult

Example: All you have to do is put the books back on the right shelf. It’s not rocket science!

25. It’s raining cats and dogs

Meaning: To rain very hard

Example: I hope you brought your umbrella. It’s raining cats and dogs out there!

26. Let someone off the hook

Meaning: To not hold someone responsible for something

Example: Logan was caught running in the hallway, but Ms. Walker let him off the hook because she knew he was late for the bus.

27. Miss the boat

Meaning: To be too late for something that’s already started or is over

Example: Sarah wanted to join the lacrosse team, but she was too late to sign up and missed the boat.

28. On the ball

Meaning: To be quick and alert, dealing with things right away

Example: Alice got all her homework done and practiced her clarinet before dinner. She’s really on the ball today!

29. On cloud nine

Meaning: Extremely happy about something

Example: When Wyatt learned he’d gotten a perfect score on both his math and science tests, he was on cloud nine for the rest of the day.

30. On thin ice

Meaning: In a risky situation or position

Example: When Mrs. Chen had to ask Ava and Noah to stop talking for the fourth time that day, she warned them both that they were on thin ice.

31. Pull someone’s leg

Meaning: To tease someone or try to fool them

Example: No, the cafeteria isn’t really giving away free ice cream. I was just pulling your leg!

32. Pull yourself together

Meaning: To calm yourself down when you’re very upset

Example: I know you’re upset that your team lost the game, but you need to pull yourself together and go congratulate the winners.

33. Second wind

Meaning: A fresh burst of energy

Example: Quinn thought she was too tired to go to the party after playing soccer all afternoon, but then she got a second wind.

34. Spill the beans

Meaning: To give away a secret

Example: Isabella’s surprise party was ruined when Sarah spilled the beans a few days before.

35. Take a rain check

Meaning: To postpone a plan until another time

Example: I’d love to play basketball after school, but I’ve got to go home to mow the lawn. Can I take a rain check?

36. The ball is in your court

Meaning: The decision or next step is up to you

Example: Nick’s mom told him he could either join the basketball team or sign up for karate class, so he had to choose one. “The ball is in your court,” she said.

37. The early bird gets the worm

Meaning: Those who arrive first have the best chance for success or receive the best things

Example: Grayson and Jayden showed up to find the best seats in the room already taken. “The early bird gets the worm!” said Maya with a grin.

38. The elephant in the room

Meaning: A large, obvious issue or problem that people are avoiding mentioning or dealing with

Example: After waiting for Joseph to explain his bright green hair all through dinner, his mom finally decided it was time to address the elephant in the room.

39. The icing on the cake

Meaning: Something that makes a good situation even better

Example: The band was excited to learn they’d earned a place in the regional competition. Finding out it would take place at Disney World was the icing on the cake.

40. The last straw

Meaning: The last in a series of events that causes someone to run out of patience

Example: “That’s the last straw!” said Elena after her little brother’s ball landed in her cereal bowl. “Go play outside!”

41. The whole nine yards

Meaning: Everything, all the way

Example: Grace and Nora went the whole nine yards to make sure Hannah’s birthday party was really special.

42. Through thick and thin

Meaning: When things are good and also when they’re bad

Example: Sophie and Chloe had been best friends since first grade, sticking together through thick and thin.

43. Time flies when you’re having fun

<img class=”alignnone size-large wp-image-1417123″ src=”×800.png” alt=”Time flies when you’re having fun

Meaning: When you’re having a good time, you don’t notice how quickly the time is passing

Example: “Recess is over already?” said Ben. “I guess time flies when you’re having fun!”

44. To get bent out of shape

Meaning: To get upset about something

Example: I didn’t mean to step on your foot—there’s no need to get bent out of shape about it.

45. To make a long story short

Meaning: To give the basic facts about something instead of a long explanation

Example: To make a long story short, Liam tripped over his shoelace and that’s how he broke his wrist.

46. Under the weather

Meaning: To be sick

Example: Miguel won’t be at the scout meeting today because he’s feeling a little under the weather.

47. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it

Meaning: If that problem comes up, we’ll deal with it then, not right now

Example: We might have a snow day on Monday, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

48. Wrap your head around something

Meaning: To understand something complicated or surprising

Example: It’s hard to wrap your head around just how big the universe is.

49. You can say that again

Meaning: I completely agree with what you just said

Example: “This pizza is best food I ever ate!” exclaimed Mateo. “You can say that again!” Dylan agreed.

50. Your guess is as good as mine

Meaning: When you have no idea what the answer is to a question or problem

Example: “Do you know how to solve number four in our math homework?” Maria asked. “Your guess is as good as mine,” David replied, shrugging his shoulders.

What other idioms do you teach in your Idiom of the Day lessons? Come share in the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, 13 puns and jokes only a true grammar nerd will get.

68 Examples of Idioms for Kids

Idioms are word combinations that have a different figurative meaning than the literal meanings of each word or phrase. They can be confusing for kids or people learning a language as they don’t mean what they say.

He’s as cool as a cucumber is an everyday idiom, but if you’ve never heard it before you might wonder what cold fruit (or vegetable?) has to do with the situation! Isn’t it a fun way to say «he’s very calm,» though?

We have compiled a huge list of common examples of idioms for kids to learn and become more familiar with these these crazy, creative phrases. Use them to express yourself in an interesting way.

Cake Icon With Examples of Idioms for Kids


Everyday Idioms

  • A grey area – Something unclear
  • A rip-off – Too expensive
  • Add fuel to the fire – To add more to an existing problem
  • As easy as ABC – Something is very easy
  • Call it a day – Time to quit
  • Cool as a cucumber – To be very calm under stress
  • Crack a book – Open up a book and study
  • Down to the wire – At the last minute
  • Draw a blank – Can’t remember
  • Fill in the blanks – Provide more information
  • Get a kick out of it – Really enjoy/like something
  • Get your act together – Behave properly
  • Give it a shot – To try to do something
  • Have mixed feelings – Be unsure of how you feel
  • Have second thoughts – Have doubts
  • In hot water – Be in trouble
  • In the same boat – Be in the same situation
  • It’s in the bag – It’s a certainty
  • I’ve got your number – To say you can’t be fooled by someone since you have them figured out
  • Miss the boat – You missed your chance
  • Mumbo jumbo – To call something total nonsense
  • Out of the blue – With no warning
  • Pass with flying colors – To succeed at something easily
  • Piece of cake – Something very easy
  • Read between the lines – Find the hidden meaning
  • Second to none – The best
  • The icing on the cake – Something additional that turns good into great

Body Part Idioms

  • Cross your fingers – For good luck
  • Fell on deaf ears – People wouldn’t listen to something
  • Get cold feet – Be nervous
  • Giving the cold shoulder – Ignore someone
  • Have a change of heart – Changed your mind
  • I’m all ears – You have my full attention
  • It cost an arm and a leg – It was expensive
  • Play it by ear – Improvise
  • See eye to eye – Agree
  • Slipped my mind – I forgot
  • Speak your mind – Say what you really feel

Animal Idioms

  • A bull in a china shop — Someone who is very clumsy
  • A little birdie told me — Someone told me a secret
  • Bee in her bonnet — She is upset
  • Birdbrain — Someone who is not very smart
  • Busy as a bee – To be very active and working hard at something
  • Cat got your tongue? — Why aren’t you talking?
  • Cry crocodile tears — To pretend to be upset
  • Curiosity killed the cat — Asking too many questions may get you in trouble
  • Different kettle of fish — Something completely different
  • Doggy bag — A bag to take home leftovers from a restaurant
  • Fish out of water — Being somewhere you don’t belong
  • For the birds — Something that is not worth anything
  • Get off your high horse — Quit thinking you are better than others
  • Goose is cooked — Now you’re in trouble
  • Hold your horses — Wait a minute
  • Horse of a different color — Something that is quite different, a separate issue
  • Hot dog — A person doing athletic stunts that are dangerous
  • Let the cat out of the bag — Tell a secret
  • Make a mountain out of a molehill — Make something unimportant into a big deal
  • Night owl — Someone who stays up late
  • Pig out — To eat a lot
  • Put a bug in his ear — Make a suggestion
  • Raining cats and dogs — It is raining very hard
  • Snail’s pace – To move extremely slow
  • Stir a hornet’s nest – To cause a lot of trouble
  • Teacher’s pet – The teacher’s favorite student
  • The world is your oyster – You can achieve whatever/go wherever you want
  • When pigs fly — To say something is impossible
  • Wolf in sheep’s clothing — A person who pretends to be nice but is not
  • You can’t teach an old dog new tricks — It’s harder for older people to learn new things


Unique Expressions

Idioms are a unique way to get your point across, and show just how fun language can be. Now that you’ve seen some suitable examples of idioms for kids you can see that it’s a piece of cake to show your witty side by using an idiom in writing or conversation.

YourDictionary has lots of examples of different types of idioms. Check out some of our fun food idioms or interesting idioms that begin with prepositions too. You’re sure to get a kick out of them!

  • 6th grade
  • 7th grade
  • 8th grade
  • 9th grade
  • elementary school
  • middle school
  • high school
  • college

Related Articles

  • 81 Examples of Food Idioms Explained

    Idioms are words or phrases that have a different meaning than the literal meaning of the word or words. There are many examples of food idioms that are commonly used in the English language. They are not only fun to use but are sure to get your point across creatively in conversation.

  • Idiom Examples: Common Expressions and Their Meanings

    Idioms exist in every language. They are words or phrases that aren’t meant to be taken literally. For example, if you say someone has “cold feet,” it doesn’t mean their toes are actually cold. Rather, it means they’re nervous about something.
    Idioms can’t be deduced merely by studying the words in the phrase. If taken literally, you would think that someone with cold feet has feet that feel chilly. But, after living with a certain group of people for a period of time, you’ll start to pick up their expressions. Let’s explore some idiom examples in everyday language.

Idiom Examples for Kids • Kirsten’s Kaboodle

Figurative language can be so hard to understand. When students are learning new words and phrases, they use context clues to develop the meaning. However, figurative language does not work this way. Whether drawing comparisons or exaggerations, students really have to spend time learning different types of figurative language. One type that is tricky to learn includes idioms! However, with these idiom examples for kids, students will start to have a better understanding of what idioms mean. 

What are idioms?

Idioms are a phrase that actually means something different from its literal meaning. For example, it’s raining cats and dogs is an idiom. However, it does not mean cats and dogs are falling from the sky. Instead, it means it is raining very hard. It is often confusing for students to grasp the fact that the meaning of idioms cannot be found by breaking down the sentence. However, with time and practice, students will start to know common idioms used in society. 


Idiom Examples for Kids 

There are so many idioms to pick from when teaching figurative language! However, here are a few that kids really love! 

  1. Piece of Cake: Something is very easy
  2. When Pigs Fly: Something is impossible 
  3. Cost an Arm and a Leg: Something is very expensive 
  4. Cool as a Cucumber: Someone is calm under stress
  5. Icing on the Cake: Something good turns great 
  6. Hold your Horses: Someone needs to slow down or wait a minute 
  7. Head in the Clouds: Someone is daydreaming or not paying attention 
  8. Two Peas in a Pod: Two people are always together 
  9. Break a Leg: Good luck 
  10. Hold Your Horses- Wait a minute 


Activities to Teach Idioms 

Figurative language can be so fun to teach! When teaching idioms to students, here are some great ways to help students understand the meaning. Whether looking for whole group or small group/partner activities, any of the ones below can be adapted to help students. 

For this activity, provide students sheets of blank paper and some colored pencils. Each page will have one idiom written on it. Be sure to check out the list above for great options! On one side, students draw the idiom as the words mean exactly. So, for raining cats and dogs, students will actually draw this! Then, on the other side, students will draw what the idiom actually means. Thus, great conversation will happen to help students understand the real meaning. 


  • Charades

Many times, students love acting in front of their classmates! Thus, they can be given an idiom and its meaning and act it out for the class. The goal of the class will be to guess the correct idiom. When students are first learning idioms, it is helpful to have a list of options. Additionally, some idioms can even be acted out with a small group of students!


  • Picture Stations

In order to get students up and moving, they can have stations posted around the room. At each station, there can be pictures that represent different idioms. As a group, students work to identify the correct meaning.


  • Role Play

Another Idiom example for kids is roleplaying. Roleplay is similar to the charades games above, but it is a little more planned out. Here, students work in a small group. Then, they are given one idiom. First, challenge students to see if they know the meaning. If not, provide a small reading with the idiom used and have them use clues to develop the meaning. Lastly, students will be able to plan a short skit to act out for the class to remember. 


  • Mini Book

While the book is mini, it is packed with information! For this activity, students will explain one idiom a day. To begin, they will write the idiom. Then, they will write the meaning of it. Between these, they will draw a picture to depict the meaning. This is a great activity to do by learning one idiom a day during morning work or during reading. Students can even have options and then select which of the two they include in their mini-book. If this happens, students can even partner up at the end and share their books with a classmate.


  • Idiom Match

This activity can be played in a variety of formats. First, students can play the traditional matching game with cards. They can be given cards with idioms written on them and then ones with pictures or written meanings. The cards will lay face down until all matches are found. This way develops great teamwork! Or, students can be given a list of idioms and meanings. Then, they can work together to match all of the meanings to the correct idioms. After this, you can even challenge students to use idioms throughout the day! 


  • Short Stories 


As students begin to learn more idioms, a new challenge can be to bring in short stories. Instead of being given idioms alone, they can be incorporated into short stories. Then, students can identify the idiom and the meaning. As an extra challenge, students can even write their own short stories with idioms! To build relationships, they can even share stories with each other and have classmates find idioms in each story. 


  • Task Cards

Students often love idiom examples for kids task cards! Whether working on them independently or in small groups, they are engaging and can fill any amount of class time. For instance, Idiom Task Cards is an incredible resource to use. Here, students have 36 task cards with three different question types. Even better, 67 idioms are included! Additionally, Idiom BOOM Cards are another great resource to include. Here, there are 41 task cards to help students practice in a variety of formats. After completing these resources, students are going to feel so knowledgeable when hearing idioms. If you need to know more about Boom Cards click here!

Figurative language can be tough to learn! However, with these figurative language articles helping you teach about Similes and Metaphors, onomatopoeia, personification, and the idiom tips and tricks above, students will develop a deeper understanding. When this happens, they will improve their comprehension whenever reading contains figurative language. Also, before you know it, students will begin to regularly use figurative language in their conversations! 

If you do not want to miss any of the upcoming lessons, join my email list to be notified of all the interactive lessons coming up! By joining Kirsten’s Kaboodle, you will also receive FREE idiom task cards!

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Idioms for Kids — The Idioms

Complete list of idioms for kids including all common slang, idiomatic expressions and phrases which are related to kids or used by kids.

1. a hot potato
Meaning: a hot potato is something that is difficult or dangerous to handle
Example: I tried to learn German language but it’s a hot potato.

2. kill two birds with one stone
Meaning: get double results with one attempt
Example: My Mom is killing two birds with one stone by singing rhymes to teach me and to please my toddler brother.

3. warn someone off
Meaning: strictly alert somebody from a danger or inform to stay away
Example: The teacher warns off every student to be careful while swimming in the pool.

4. piece of cake
Meaning: it is used to say when something is very easy to do
Example: I love to draw the scenery for you, it will be a piece of cake.

5. spin a yarn
Meaning: tell a long and far-fetched story
Example: My friend spins a yarn about his trip for all time.

6. call names
Meaning: to tease or mock one with bad-mannered or unpleasant names
Example: My daughter is sad because the kids at his new school call her names.

7. when pig fly
Meaning: idiomatic expression used to say just impossible
Example: Definitely, Matt is going to be decent and quiet when pigs fly.

8. build castle in air
Meaning: to create ideas that are impractical, unlikely and impossible
Example: You should just stop building castles in the air and take your study seriously.

9. tongue in cheek
Meaning: statement in a mocking or two-faced way with disdain
Example: Finn told me that he has done his homework, but I am sure it was tongue in cheek.

10. queer the pitch
Meaning: spoil somebody’s chance of doing something
Example: He queered my pitch by asking coach to take rest before I did.

11. hive of activity
Meaning: a place full of activity; very busy place
Examples: From the next week our classroom is going to be a hive of activities for the preparation of annual function of art.

12. bug eyed
Meaning: with bulging eyes, as from astonish or amazement; amazed
Example: I was bug eyed looking at her wedding dress and jewelry.

13. stir up a hornet’s nest
Meaning: to create a big trouble
Example: Richard always comes home and stirs up a Hornet’s nest when his school day has not gone well.

14. not hurt a fly
Meaning: not cause harm to anyone, be kind and gentle
Example: My younger sister is a very kind and warm-hearted girl who wouldn’t hurt a fly that’s why I love to spend time with her.

15. class clown
Meaning: a student who tries to make other students laugh
Example: Today I met my school teacher and I am surprised to know that she still remembers me as the class clown.

16. tall story
Meaning: a long story that is hard to believe
Example: Don’t tell me tall stories just show me the homework.

17. mumbo jumbo
Meaning: confusing language or pointless speech
Example: Alicia is just a kid, most of what she says is mumbo jumbo.

18. night owl
Meaning: someone who is active late at night
Example: My exams will be starting from next week and for me it’s the time to be a night owl to study and to score.

19. a slap on the wrist
Meaning: a mild warning or penalty
Example: He punched me and only after warning the teacher let him go. It’s merely a slap on his wrist.

20. as keen as mustard
Meaning: very excited and keen
Example: My little sister is always as keen as mustard to learn new things around her.

21. paddle own canoe
Meaning: to be able to do something without help
Example: Students of kindergarten always need their teachers around they can’t just paddle their own canoe.

22. Bob’s your uncle
Meaning: the idiom used to highlight how simply or quickly something can be done
Example: Bob’s your uncle, just open it and then boil it to make a tasty soup.

23. born with a silver spoon in mouth
Meaning: used to say for someone who born into a wealthy family
Example: Jack was not born with a silver spoon in mouth rather he worked hard to be rich.

24. be up on
Meaning: be well informed about
Example: Cassie you should be up on what you are learning in the class, so concentrate.

25. all ears
Meaning: very excited to hear; paying special attention to hear something
Example: The students were all ears when teacher started telling a horror story.

75+ Examples Of Idioms for Kids — English Language For Kids

Idioms are very common in English, both in spoken and written language. And most native speakers don’t have any trouble understanding what they mean. Most of the time, native speakers use idioms without even thinking about the meaning of the words themselves.

But this can be really tricky for people learning a new language. Often, you can’t guess what an idiom means just from hearing it, so someone needs to explain it to you.

What Is an Idiom?

An idiom is a figure of speech where the meaning of a phrase doesn’t match the literal meaning of the words that make up the phrase. Either the words don’t mean what you expect them to, or the grammar in the phrase is unusual.

Top 5 Most Popular Examples of Idioms For Kids

Here are our top picks of idioms every student should know.

  1. To have ants in your pants = to be impatient or restless
    I feel like I have ants in my pants. I’m tired of school and want it to be summer vacation already!
  2. To get your feet wet = to try something new
    I’m going to get my feet wet and try kickboxing tomorrow.
  3. To cross your fingers = to hope that something will happen
    I’m crossing my fingers that you get an A on that test!
  4. Cool as a cucumber = very calm and collected
    Marcy is always cool as a cucumber, even before big exams.
  5. Use your noodle = to think
    Shani keeps making mistakes because she’s not using her noodle.

And it’s not just English that uses idioms. Many languages have them!

For example, there’s a Spanish idiom “Mucho ruido y pocas nueces. ” Literally, this translates to “Much noise and few nuts.”

Now, that doesn’t make much sense! But a Spanish speaker hears that and understands that someone is talking a lot but not taking any action.

In English, we actually have a different idiom that means the same thing: “All bark and no bite.”

Idioms can be really fun because, most of the time, they’re not logical. But most English speakers already understand them without realizing it. So, these figures of speech are really fun for kids to study.

There are many idioms in English, so we’ve compiled just a few categories. Also, some idioms fit more than one category. But these lists let you dip your toes into the fun world of idioms!

Examples of Idioms for Kids

Animal Idioms

  • All bark and no bite = to talk a lot but not do anything
    Don’t worry about what Rada says – she’s all bark and no bite.
  • Bee in your bonnet = to be obsessed with a particular idea
    Deb has a bee in her bonnet about moving to San Francisco. It’s all she talks about!
  • Birdbrain = someone who’s not smart.
    Marek is such a birdbrain. He doesn’t know anything!
  • Early bird = someone who likes to be awake early in the morning, someone who arrives before everyone else
    Idun is an early bird because she likes to wake up at 5 am every day.
    You have to be an early bird if you want to get one of the free tickets.
  • For the birds = not important, worthless
    That job is for the birds. No one needs to do it.
  • Eagle eye = noticing lots of details
    I hired Josie as an editor because she has an eagle eye for grammatical mistakes
  • Wild goose chase = a useless mission, wasting time looking for something that you’ll never find.
    Trying to track down her phone number was a wild goose chase. I knew I’d never be able to find it in all the papers on my desk.
  • Be a chicken = be scared or afraid
    Garrett told Agner he was a chicken for not climbing the tree.
  • Night owl = someone who likes to be awake at night
    I can’t believe Radovan does his homework at midnight. He’s such a night owl.
  • Busy bee = someone who works a lot
    Cara has 3 different jobs. She’s a busy bee!
  • A fly on the wall = someone who observes but does not participate
    I’d love to be a fly on the wall at a UN meeting. They must say so many interesting things!
  • To be a fish out of water = to feel uncomfortable because you’re in a situation that isn’t normal for you
    Constantine went to his first karate class yesterday but didn’t like it because he felt like a fish out of water.
  • Hold your horses = to stop what you’re doing, slow down, pause to think
    Hold your horses! You’re going to cut yourself if you hold the knife like that!
  • To pig out = to eat a lot
    Julia bought 5 tubs of ice cream so she and her friends could pig out at the sleepover.
  • When pigs fly = never going to happen
    Mara told her daughter she could stay out until 2 am when pigs fly.
  • Elephant in the room = something obvious that everyone is ignoring
    Harold’s Thanksgiving dinner was really awkward because of the elephant in the room. No one wanted to mention his recent divorce and the fact that Carl wasn’t eating with them.
  • Doggy bag/doggie bag = a package to take home extra food from a restaurant
    Could I have a doggy bag? This pasta is too good to waste, but I’m full right now.
  • Happy as a clam = extremely happy
    Look at Alex playing with his new teddy bear. He’s happy as a clam!

Body Idioms

  • To cost an arm and a leg = to be very expensive
    Gisselle’s new computer cost an arm and a leg.
  • Pull your leg = to tease or make fun of someone
    Don’t believe anything my uncle says. He’s always pulling your leg.
  • Have a change of heart = to change one’s decision
    Simon is moving back home because he had a change of heart.
  • To be all ears = to be eagerly paying attention
    Tell me what’s going on with your new job. I’m all ears!
  • See eye to eye = to understand one another
    My sister and I never see eye to eye on anything. I just don’t understand where she gets her ideas.
  • Slip your mind = to forget
    I’m sorry I didn’t mention the dance. It must have slipped my mind.
  • To drag your feet = to be reluctant to do something
    Sujata keeps putting off packing. She’s really dragging her feet about leaving.
  • To think on your feet = make decisions or solve problems quickly without thinking too hard
    Caleb is a great employee at the restaurant because he can think on his feet.
  • To get off on the wrong foot = to start something badly, particularly a relationship
    Sara, I think we got off on the wrong foot yesterday. Could we start over?
  • To bend over backward = try really hard (or excessively) to do something, especially to please someone else
    I can’t believe Cameron worked until 3 am yesterday. He’s really bending over backward for these new clients.
  • To get off someone’s back = to stop bugging someone
    Can you get off my back, please? I already told you I’d wash the dishes after dinner.
  • To wrap your head around something = to understand something, particularly a difficult idea
    I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that Grandma is gone. I keep thinking my phone will ring and I’ll hear her voice.
  • Gut feeling = intuitive feeling
    I really think Aura’s new girlfriend is “the one.” I just have a gut feeling about her.
  • To get out of hand = to be out of control
    The mess in your room has gotten completely out of hand! Please go fold your clothes and put away your toys.
  • Give someone the cold shoulder = to be unfriendly
    Do you think Rajiv is giving me the cold shoulder? He hasn’t talked to me in 2 days!
  • To speak your mind = to speak plainly or freely, without restraint
    It’s okay to speak your mind about Milly – I won’t get upset.
  • To dip your toes into = to start something very slowly, to test something out
    Leona wants to dip her toes into university studies, so she’s going to take an AP class in high school.

Food Idioms

  • To spill the beans = to tell a story or secret
    What’s going on with you and Dennis? Come on, spill the beans!
  • To be full of beans = to have lots of energy
    Ramlah’s baby doesn’t want to sleep right now. He’s full of beans.
  • To bite off more than you can chew = accept more tasks than you can complete
    When you go off to college, make sure you leave yourself time to relax. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
  • Pleased as punch = very happy
    Grandma will be pleased as punch to see you.
  • Piece of cake = something really easy
    I can’t believe I studied for 10 hours. That exam was such a piece of cake I didn’t need to.
  • In a nutshell = in summary
    I won’t bore you with a long story. In a nutshell, my job isn’t going very well.
  • Icing on the cake/cherry on top = an addition that makes a great thing even better
    A raise with my new job would be the icing on the cake.
    A raise with my new job would be the cherry on top.
  • Bread and butter = the main way you support yourself financially
    Being a lawyer is my bread and butter, but I prefer making oil paintings.
  • To butter someone up = to suck up to someone, to flatter someone
    Aw, stop buttering me up! You’re making me blush!
  • Bad egg = a bad person
    Alyssa shouldn’t hang out with Amir anymore. He’s a bad egg.
  • Cream of the crop = the best of something
    Magdalena wants to go to Harvard because it’s the cream of the crop for universities.
  • To cry over spilled milk = to worry or feel bad about something you can’t fix or change
    Just forget about the bad interview. It doesn’t help to cry over spilled milk.
  • To spice something up/to spice things up = to add excitement to something
    I decided to try a salsa class instead of going to the gym. I just wanted to spice up my afternoon activities.
    I decided to try a salsa class instead of going to the gym. I just wanted to spice things up.

Nature Idioms

  • To be under the weather/to feel under the weather = to feel sick, to be ill
    Artemis isn’t going to school today because she’s feeling under the weather.
  • Raining cats and dogs = raining a lot
    “I think it might start flooding because it’s raining cats and dogs,” said Emily.
  • Break the ice = remove tension
    No one was talking, so Harry suggested playing charades to break the ice at his birthday party.
  • On thin ice = taking a risk that has serious consequences
    George shouldn’t be slacking off at work. He’s already on thin ice with the boss.
  • Up in the air = not decided
    I’m sorry I can’t commit to the party on Saturday. My plans are up in the air right now.
  • To take a rain check = to postpone for later
    Can we take a rain check? I forgot that I have a meeting in 5 minutes.
  • To sleep like a log = to sleep heavily
    I feel great now because I slept like a log last night.
  • To go out on a limb = to take a risk
    I’m going to go out on a limb here, but do you really want to divorce Mark?
  • Out of the blue = suddenly, unexpectedly
    Esther hadn’t heard from her father for 10 years, but he called out of the blue yesterday.
  • To beat around the bush = to talk about something without being direct
    Just tell me what you think and don’t beat around the bush!
  • To call it a day = to decide to end a task
    Can we call it a day on this project? My head is starting to hurt.
  • Last straw = the final thing that causes you to make a decision
    That argument was the last straw. I’m not going to talk to Harriet anymore.
  • Second wind = an extra rush of energy
    I thought I was going to go to sleep early, but I got a second wind at 9pm. So I managed to clean out the whole basement before midnight!
  • A mountain out of a molehill = make something seem more important than it actually is
    Clara, you don’t have to study so hard for this exam. It’s really not that important for your future. You’re just making a mountain out of a molehill!
  • To come up for air = to take a rest
    After studying for 2 weeks straight, Santi could finally come up for air after the test.

Situation Idioms

  • Off the hook = not responsible for
    Mr. Smith caught Manju cheating on the test, but he let her off the hook because she’s always been a good student.
  • A rip-off = theft, exploitation
    I can’t believe you paid $500 for that book. That’s such a rip-off!
  • To draw a blank = to not be able to remember something
    Do you remember Sarah’s last name? I’m drawing a blank.
  • To be on the same page = to understand one another
    Make sure you’re on the same page with Sonam. You don’t want to have an argument later.
  • To be in the same boat = to be in the same situation
    If the school closes, we’ll all be in the same boat no matter what grade we’re in.
  • To miss the boat = to be too late
    You need to sign up for the field trip now, or you’ll miss the boat.
  • On/off the table = to be able to be talked about, to be up for discussion
    You know you can always tell me anything, right? Everything is on the table.
    My love life is off the table. I don’t want to talk about it.
  • Two cents (worth) = someone’s opinion, but generally one you don’t want or haven’t asked for
    I don’t think you should skip work today, but that’s just my two cents.
    Could you stop pestering me about my grades? I didn’t ask for your two cents worth.
  • A dime a dozen = really common
    Don’t worry about buying a postcard here. They’re a dime a dozen in the city center.
  • Get up on the wrong side of bed = to be upset, grouchy, or in a bad mood
    Did you get up on the wrong side of bed this morning? You’ve been irritable all day!
  • To drop the ball = to not do something you were supposed to do
    I’m sorry I dropped the ball on preparing for the meeting. My mother passed away last week, so I’ve been distracted.
  • To be on the ball = to be aware of what’s going on around you and be prepared for it
    Don’t worry about Sadeq finishing his work. He’s always on the ball.
  • To crack a window = to open a window, often just a little bit
    Could you crack a window? I’m sweating in here.
  • To cut corners = to skimp or do something poorly so that you can get it done faster
    Majda works a little more slowly than Martin, but she’ll never cut corners.
  • To hit the sack = to go to sleep
    Goodnight, everybody! I’m going to hit the sack.
  • To have someone’s number = to know what someone’s up to, to understand the reason behind someone else’s actions
    Carlos won’t get away with anything. I have his number.

Using Idioms

Once you start listening for idioms, you’ll hear them all over the place. Native speakers pepper their language with lots of idioms – in fact, you probably already use them without realizing it!

Keep your eye out for idioms when you’re reading or talking to others, and try to guess what they mean. And if you’re not sure, you can always check a dictionary.

Also, check out the other grammar resources on our website. There are lots of fun figures of speech to explore!

Figurative Language For Kids

  • Personification Examples For Kids
  • Alliteration Examples For Kids
  • Idioms
  • Idiom Examples

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107 Popular Idioms For Kids (Meaning & Examples)

Are you looking for some useful idioms for kids?

Well, you are in the right place.

In this post, have a huge list of some of the most popular idioms for kids.

For each idiom, we are going to explain what it means and how to use it in a sentence.

Let’s begin…

1. As Easy As ABC

  • Meaning: something that is very easy to do.
  • Use In A Sentence: Learning to use an iPad is as easy as ABC.

2. To Be A Class Clown

  • Meaning: a student who acts silly in class to get the attention and laughs from others.
  • Use In A Sentence: Johnny is a class clown. Though the teacher told the students not to laugh at his silliness, they couldn’t help it.

3. To Cost An Arm And A Leg

  • Meaning: to be very expensive.
  • Use In A Sentence: Tammy wanted to buy a used car but after learning that it would cost an arm and a leg, she decided to buy a bike instead.

4. To Be A Happy Camper

  • Meaning: to be very happy.
  • Use In A Sentence: Dad was a happy camper when his new tractor was delivered last week. He hasn’t stopped using it since.

5. To Sleep Like A Log

  • Meaning: to get a very deep sleep. So much so that one isn’t disturbed easily.
  • Use In A Sentence: After the first week of football practice, I slept like a log.

6. Chicken

  • Meaning: Someone who is afraid; a coward.
  • Use In A Sentence: Jim was a chicken and wouldn’t pet the snake. Julie, however, was excited to try something new.

7. To Have A Sleepover

  • Meaning: to spend the night in another person’s house.
  • Use In A Sentence: Jill was so excited when her mom told her she could have a sleepover and invite her 3 best friends.

8. Hold Your Horses

  • Meaning: to tell someone to slow down or to tell them to wait.
  • Use In A Sentence: Hold your horses! We are going to leave in a minute. I just need to put away the food.

9. To Be Hot Water

  • Meaning: to be in trouble.
  • Use In A Sentence: You are going to be in hot water if mom finds out you were playing video games instead of doing your homework.

10. Black And Blue

  • Meaning: to be bruised.
  • Use In A Sentence: After she fell off the step ladder, Rosie’s leg was all black and blue.

11. To Be As Busy As A Bee

  • Meaning: to be very busy.
  • Use In A Sentence: Tim was busy as a bee preparing for his first day of school.

12. To Be As Strong As A Lion

  • Meaning: used to describe a person who is really strong or in good physical condition.
  • Use in a sentence: My Dad is as strong as a lion.

13. To Put A Bug In One’s Ear

  • Meaning: to make a suggestion.
  • Use in a sentence: Mary really wanted to go to the beach next week, so she put a bug in Yoshi’s ear. Fortunately, he caught on and made the necessary arrangements.

14. To Give Someone A Fish-Kiss

  • Meaning: to kiss someone with puckered lips like a fish.
  • Use in a sentence: Max fish-kissed his girlfriend right in front of the whole class.

15. To Drag One’s Feet

  • Meaning: to move slowly usually because one doesn’t want to do something.
  • Use In A Sentence: Will you quit dragging your feet? We need to clean the house before mom and dad come home.

16. To Rain Cats And Dogs

  • Meaning: To be raining very heavily.
  • Example In A Sentence: Mom said we can’t go outside right now because it is going to rain cats and dogs.

17. To Be A Cutie Pie

  • Meaning: a term of endearment used to refer to a cute person, usually a child.
  • Use In A Sentence: Good afternoon cutie pie. How was your first day of school?

18. Do You Kiss Your Momma With That Mouth?

  • Meaning: an expression used to tell someone they need to clean up their speech, by not using obscenities, vulgar language, etc.
  • Use In A Sentence: Do you think those words are respectful? Do you kiss your momma with that mouth? You better behave or else I will tell your parents.

19. To Monkey Around

  • Meaning: to waste time.
  • Use In A Sentence: Since the kids wouldn’t stop monkeying around, the next door neighbor, Katherine, had to get involved.

20. To Be In The Same Boat

  • Meaning: to be in the same situation as another person.
  • Use In A Sentence: Are you going to go to Lisa’s house? Mom said I can’t go until I finish my homework. We are both in the same boat. My dad told me the same thing.

21. To Be A Piece Of Cake

  • Meaning: to say that something is extremely easy to do.
  • Use In A Sentence: That math test was a piece of cake.

22. To See Eye To Eye With Someone

  • Meaning: to agree about something with someone.
  • Use In A Sentence: Dad and I don’t see eye to eye on a number of different things.

23. To Slip One’s Mind

  • Meaning: to forget something.
  • Use In A Sentence: I am sorry I forgot about meeting up with you after school. It completely slipped my mind.

24. To Let The Cat Out Of The Bag

  • Meaning: to tell a secret.
  • Use In A Sentence: How did your sister find out about the surprise party? Who let the cat out of the bag?

25. The Elephant In The Room

  • Meaning: a serious problem that everyone is aware of.
  • Use In A Sentence: Okay first let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Why are you wearing a cast on your leg?

26. To Stir The Hornet’s Nest

  • Meaning: to cause a lot of trouble or problems.
  • Use In A Sentence: Why did you have to come in and stir the hornet’s nest? I was so close to convincing mom and dad to let us go to grandma’s house this weekend.

27. To Have Second Thoughts About Something

  • Meaning: to doubt or to reconsider something.
  • Use In A Sentence: I am starting to have seconds thoughts about this. Do you really think this is a good idea?

28. To Give One’s Two Cent’s Worth

  • Meaning: to share one opinion. Oftentimes when it is not asked for.
  • Use In A Sentence: If I can give my two cent’s worth, I think you should buy the car. It is not a lot of money and it is really big for the family.

29. To Have Ants In One’s Pants

  • Meaning: to be restless. Usually because of having a lot of energy, anxiety, or lacking patience.
  • Use In A Sentence: Will you just sit still for five minutes while I talk to your teacher? Do you have ants in your pants or what?

30. To Move At A Snail’s Pace

  • Meaning: to do something very slowly.
  • Use In A Sentence: Judy moved at a snail’s pace. It really bothered Tom until he realized that she had injured her foot and had a reason to walk so slowly.

31. To Wake Up On The Wrong Side Of The Bed

  • Meaning: to wake up in a bad mood. To be unhappy or grumpy.
  • Use In A Sentence: What is Max’s problem? It seems like he woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

32. To Not Be The Sharpest Pencil In The Cup

  • Meaning: used to refer to someone who is slow, unintelligent, or stupid.
  • Use In A Sentence: He may not be the sharpest pencil in the cup, but he sure knows how to play football.

33. To Know Someone Or Something Like A Book

  • Meaning: to know something or someone very well.
  • Use In A Sentence: Do you know Wayne very well? Yes, we have been in the same school since I was six. I know him like a book. What do you want to know about him?

34. To Be A Sitting Duck

  • Meaning: to be in a vulnerable position. An easy target.
  • Use In A Sentence: Please don’t wear that hat to school. It looks weird and you will be sitting ducks for jokes on the playground.

35. To Be A Guinea Pig

  • Meaning: a person that is used for an experiment.
  • Use In A Sentence: Mary used her children as guinea pigs to try out her new cookie recipe. It was a success!

36. To Be A Fly On The Wall

  • Meaning: someone who watches but isn’t noticed by others.
  • Use In A Sentence: I would love to be a fly on the wall when mom talks to my brother. I think he is in big trouble.

37. To Eat Like A Bird

  • Meaning: to eat very little.
  • Use In A Sentence: Why doesn’t Brian eat? Is he sick? No, he has always been like that. He eats very little. Mom and dad always said he eats like a bird.

38. To Be Dumber Than A Doornail

  • Meaning: very stupid.
  • Use In A Sentence: She thought she could drive her car 10,000 miles without changing the oil. Wow, she is dumber than a doornail.

39. To Talk One’s Arm Off

  • Meaning: when a person talks so much that those around them get bored.
  • Use In A Sentence: If you are planning on talking to Amy be prepared to stay awhile. The last time I went to her house she talked my arm off.

40. To Be An Early Bird

  • Meaning: a person that often arrives early to an event.
  • Use In A Sentence: Paul was known to be an early bird. He has never arrived late to an event.

41. To Wet One’s Whistle

  • Meaning: to get a drink.
  • Use In A Sentence: Could I trouble you for a glass of water? I just need to wet my whistle before playing another game.

42. To Be A Night Owl

  • Meaning: someone that tends to stay up late.
  • Use In A Sentence: Be careful not to wake up Sam. You know, he didn’t go to bed until 3 a.m. this morning. Wow, he is such a night owl.

43. To Be Clean As A Whistle

  • Meaning: extremely clean.
  • Use In A Sentence: When I get back I want this room to be as clean as a whistle.

44. To Go Out On A Limb

  • Meaning: To take a risk. To do something that isn’t common.
  • Use In A Sentence: Megan wanted to go out on a limb and try something completely different from everyone else.

45. Word On The Street

  • Meaning: information that is being passed from one person to the next. What kids are talking about on the playground.
  • Use In A Sentence: The word on the street is that Johnny is moving to Tennessee.

46. To Be Light On One’s Feet

  • Meaning: to be quick or to move gracefully like a dancer.
  • Use In A Sentence: Because he plays football I wasn’t expecting him to be a good dancer, but he is light on his feet.

47. To Blow The Whistle On Something Or Something

  • Meaning: to expose someone for doing something they should be doing.
  • Use In A Sentence: I was sure we weren’t going to get caught, but Greg just had to go and blow the whistle on us.

48. To Give Someone The Green Light

  • Meaning: to give someone permission to do something.
  • Use In A Sentence: Okay guys, I talked with my mom and she gave me the green light. I can spend the night at your house, but I need to be home before 9:00 tomorrow.

49. To Be On The Same Page

  • Meaning: when two people think the same thing about something. To say that two people are in agreement about something.
  • Use In A Sentence: It is much easier to work as a team when everyone is on the same page.

50. To Give Someone The Cold Shoulder

  • Meaning: to ignore someone. To deliberately be unfriendly with them.
  • Use In A Sentence: I don’t know if it was something I said, but ever since Monday, Jeff has been giving me the cold shoulder.

51. To Spill The Beans

  • Meaning: to reveal a secret.
  • Use In A Sentence: How did mom find out about her gift? I want to know who spilled the beans.

52. To Be Like Two Peas In A Pod

  • Meaning: used to describe to people that share the same interest or two people that have a lot of things in common.
  • Use In A Sentence: Jessica and Megan are like two peas in a pod, they are always hanging out together.

53. The Ball Is In Your Court

  • Meaning: this is a term used to describe when a person has the responsibility to take action or to make a decision.
  • Use In A Sentence: Now, the ball is in your court. You have to make a decision. Are you going to go to the party or not?

54. To Spice Something Up

  • Meaning: to make something interesting.
  • Use In A Sentence: English class was so boring until the teacher decided to spice things up by cracking some jokes.

55. To Drop The Ball

  • Meaning: to make a mistake, to miss an opportunity, or to forget something.
  • Use In A Sentence: Everything was going great until Megan dropped the ball and forgot to turn in our team’s homework.


To Skating On Thin Ice

  • Meaning: to be engaging in risky behavior, something that could get on in a lot of trouble.
  • Use In A Sentence: Sam is skating on thin ice. One day he is going to get caught skipping school and then he won’t be so happy.

57. To Walk On Eggshells

  • Meaning: to be very careful not to upset another person.
  • Use In A Sentence: Caleb gets mad very easily. It makes me feel uncomfortable. I always feel like I am walking on eggshells when I am around him.

58. To Rule The School

  • Meaning: to rule the school means to be very influential in one’s school
  • Use In A Sentence: I don’t like talking with the 5th graders. They think that because they are older they rule the school.

59. To Throw In The Towel

  • Meaning: to give up on something.
  • Use In A Sentence: After spending 6 months on the project and making very little progress Steve decided to throw in the towel.

60. To Sweat Like A Pig

  • Meaning: to sweat a lot.
  • Use In A Sentence: Can you roll down the window. It is so hot in here. I am sweating like a pig.

61. Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover

  • Meaning: don’t base your opinion about something or someone based solely on looks
  • Use In A Sentence: I don’t know about this restaurant. It looks kind of dumpy. Don’t judge a book by its cover. This is the best Chinese restaurant in town.

62. To Cry Wolf

  • Meaning: to say something is happening when it really isn’t. Oftentimes a person does this so often that people stop believing what they say.
  • Use In A Sentence: I am sure it is not that bad. Jane is always crying wolf about something.

63. To Crack A Window

  • Meaning: to open a window.
  • Use In A Sentence: I think I am getting carsick. Could you crack open the window? I need some fresh air.

64. To Fight Like Cats And Dogs

  • Meaning: used to describe two people that don’t get along. Every time they are together they end up fighting.
  • Use In A Sentence: I don’t want to be on the same team as Jessica and Tara. They fight like cats and dogs.

65. To Cram For A Test

  • Meaning: to study for a test moments before you are going to take the test.
  • Use In A Sentence: I think you would have done better on the math test if you didn’t cram for the test at the last minute.

66. To Speak A Mile A Minute

  • Meaning: to speak very quickly.
  • Use In A Sentence: I don’t know what she said. She speaks a mile a minute. It was hard for me to keep up.

67. To Be A One Trick Pony

  • Meaning: a person who does one thing very well or they have only been successful once.
  • Use In A Sentence: Whatever happened to the group that sings this song? I guess they were just a one-trick pony. None of their other songs took off.

68. It’s Not Rocket Science

  • Meaning: an expression used to describe something that isn’t very difficult to do.
  • Use In A Sentence: Algebra isn’t rocket science. You just need to pay close attention to what the teacher says in class.

69. To Miss Something By A Mile

  • Meaning: to miss the goal or objective by a very large margin.
  • Use In A Sentence: I thought you said he was good at playing darts? Everytime he threw a dart it missed by a mile.

70. To Cut The Cheese

  • Meaning: slang for passing gas.
  • Use In A Sentence: It smells in here? Matt, did you cut the cheese again?

71. To Be Old School

  • Meaning: used to describe someone who is old fashioned. It can also refer to an older style.
  • Use In A Sentence: I like those sunglasses they are super old school.

72. To Have One’s Nose In A Book

  • Meaning: to read a book. Usually, it is used to say that someone is always reading a book.
  • Use In A Sentence: Where is Frank? I don’t know, but I am sure he is in his room with his nose in a book.

73. To Have A Sweet Tooth

  • Meaning: a person that has a sweet tooth likes to eat a lot of sweets.
  • Use In A Sentence: If you are looking for something sweet, go talk to Mary. She has a sweet tooth and she always carrying some sort of candy in her backpack.

74. To Get One’s Feet Wet

  • Meaning: to try something new.
  • Use In A Sentence: If you are thinking about playing a musical instrument, start by getting your feet wet with the recorder. If you like it, you can advance to something a little more difficult.

75. To Take By Storm

  • Meaning: to become very popular very quickly.
  • Use In A Sentence: That new boy band took our school by storm. It seemed like everyone was listening to their music.

76. To Have Butterflies In One’s Stomach

  • Meaning: to be nervous about something.
  • Use In A Sentence: I always get butterflies in my stomach just before playing in the school concert.

77. To Go On A Wild Goose Chase

  • Meaning: to look for something that seems impossible to find.
  • Use In A Sentence: I can’t believe I went on a wild goose chase looking for a book that is out of print.

78. To Be The Black Sheep

  • Meaning: used to describe someone as different from other members of a group such as a family.
  • Use In A Sentence: Brittany is the black sheep of the family, choosing to drop out of college to pursue her dreams.

79. An Eagle Eye

  • Meaning: used to describe a person that watching things very carefully and picks up on small details.
  • Use In A Sentence: The students complete their tests under the eagle eye of their teacher.

80. To See The Glass As Half Empty

  • Meaning: a person that always sees the negative in a given situation.
  • Use In A Sentence: Oftentimes when people think about the future they see the glass as half empty.

81. To See The Glass As Half Full

  • Meaning: a person that always sees the positive in a situation. To be optimistic.
  • Use In A Sentence: Amy is such a positive person. Even when it seems like something is going to fail she always sees the glass as half full.

82. To Think Outside The Box

  • Meaning: to think about something in a new creative way.
  • Use In A Sentence: We really need to think outside the box if we want to win.

83. A Cow Pie

  • Meaning: a slang term used for manure.
  • Use In A Sentence: What is that smell? Someone must have stepped in a cow pie when we were out in the field.

84. To Kid Around With Someone

  • Meaning: to joke with someone.
  • Use In A Sentence: I don’t think he is really going to do that. I think he was just kidding around.

85. To Cuddle Up With A Good Book

  • Meaning: to make oneself comfortable in order to read a good book.
  • Use In A Sentence: Hey Pam, do you have any plans for the weekend? I was going to go hiking, but it is supposed to rain. I think I will just cuddle up with a good book.

86. A Whole New Ball Game

  • Meaning: a situation that is completely new to someone. Perhaps different than what was expected.
  • Use In A Sentence: Going to 3rd grade in a new school will be a whole new ball game for him.

87. To Think On One’s Feet

  • Meaning: to think quickly. To be able to make difficult decisions quickly. To react quickly.
  • Use In A Sentence: In order to do well on the debate team, you need to be able to think on your feet.

88. To Cut Class / To Cut School

  • Meaning: to skip a class or to skip school.
  • Use In A Sentence: If mom finds out you cut class she will be very upset.

89. To Not Be One’s Cup Of Tea

  • Meaning: used to describe something that a person does not like or does not like doing.
  • Use In A Sentence: Are you going to invite Ivan? Playing baseball is not his cup of tea.

90. To Make A Mental Note About Something

  • Meaning: to make a conscious effort to remember something.
  • Use In A Sentence: Before entering the building, Johnny made a mental note of the things his mom told him to buy at the grocery store.

91. Cool Beans!

  • Meaning: Cool, awesome, great!
  • Use In A Sentence: Can you come to my party on Saturday night? Yes, what time. It starts at 7 pm. Cool Beans! I will be there.

92. To Be Like A Kid In A Candy Store

  • Meaning: to be so excited about something that one acts like a child.
  • Use In A Sentence: When Bob walked into the computer store he was like a kid in a candy store. He didn’t know where to start looking.

93. One’s Stomach Is In Knots

  • Meaning: to be anxious or nervous about something.
  • Use In A Sentence: Ricky told me his stomach was all in knots for his first day at school.

94. To Pull One’s Leg

  • Meaning: to joke with someone.
  • Use In A Sentence: I don’t think the teacher meant that. I think he was just pulling your leg.

95. To Be Quiet As A Mouse

  • Meaning: to be very quiet.
  • Use In A Sentence: Jake was as quiet as a mouse sitting in the back of the room.

96. To Cross One’s Fingers

  • Meaning: to hope for good luck that something good will happen.
  • Use In A Sentence: Let’s cross our fingers and hope that Mom won’t find out about what happened to the kitchen table.

97. Birdbrain

  • Meaning: a person who makes very poor decisions or a person who is not very smart.
  • Use In A Sentence: You are such a birdbrain. I can’t believe you thought that you could get away with that.

98. To Pig Out

  • Meaning: To eat a lot of something or to eat too much of something.
  • Use In A Sentence: I think Steve is going to pig out on pizza. Normally his mom doesn’t let him have pizza. She says that it isn’t very healthy.

99. A Teacher’s Pet

  • Meaning: The teacher’s favorite student.
  • Use In A Sentence: Julie is such a teacher’s pet. She always does what the teacher says.

100. As Cool As A Cucumber

  • Meaning: a person who is calm and composed especially during a stressful time.
  • Use In A Sentence: I don’t think Matt is nervous for the school play. He is always as cool as a cucumber.

101. Doggy Bag

  • Meaning: a bag supplied by a restaurant which is used to take home leftovers.
  • Use In A Sentence: Could I have a doggy bag? I don’t think I can finish this spaghetti.

102. To Be In The Bag

  • Meaning: To be certain that you are going to win or achieve something.
  • Use In A Sentence: I thought we had the basketball game in the bag, but then the other team came out of nowhere to beat us.

103. To Be Pooped

  • Meaning: to be very tired.
  • Use In A Sentence: After running the mile in gym class, I am pooped.

104. To Be As Happy As A Clam

  • Meaning: to be really happy.
  • Use In A Sentence: Jake was as happy as a clam to have a chance to play on the basketball team.

105. Don’t Have A Cow

  • Meaning: another way to say, don’t get upset.
  • Use In A Sentence: Calm down! Don’t have a cow! Mom is going to find out.

106. To Fight Like A Lion

  • Meaning: to fight with courage.
  • Use In A Sentence: She would fight like a lion to protect her family from harm.

107. The Last Straw

  • Meaning: the final irritation that causes a person to lose one’s patience and become very upset.
  • Use In A Sentence: Ok, that’s it! That’s the last straw! I can’t take this anymore! I told you to stop fighting, but now I am going to turn this car around and we are going home.

There you have it, 107 idioms for children. Did we miss one? If so, please let us know in the comments below.

English idioms | EF | Russia

English idioms, proverbs and sayings are an integral part of everyday English. They are quite common in both written and spoken English. Idioms are generally not to be taken literally. To understand this layer of language, it is necessary to familiarize yourself with the meaning and use of each specific idiom. At first glance, this may seem like a tedious task, but learning idioms is very interesting, especially if you compare English idioms with phraseological units in your native language.

When you learn to use common idioms and expressions, you will be able to speak English more fluently. Learn a few of these expressions, they will definitely come in handy. The tables below compile the most common idioms in American English. You can start by learning the most common English idioms, as you will come across them regularly while watching American movies or TV, or when you travel to the United States. Once you’ve mastered them, you can move on. None of the idioms on this list are rare or old fashioned, so you can feel confident using any of them with native English speakers from all English speaking countries.

The most common English idioms

In America, these English idioms are among the most common in everyday speech. You will hear them in movies and TV shows. Use them and your English will become even more like native speakers.

Idiom Meaning Application
A blessing in disguise A good thing that seemed bad at first glance as part of offer
A dime a dozen Something simple, common as part of offer
Beat around the bush Avoid speaking directly, usually because it is inconvenient as part of sentence
Better late than never Better late than never as part of
Bite the bullet Get over something because it’s inevitable as part of offer
Break a leg Good luck! self
Call it a day Stop working on something as part of offer
Cut somebody some slack Don’t be too critical as part of offer
Cutting corners Doing something unimportant to save time or money ( as part of sentence
Easy does it Slow down, do something slower self
Get out of hand Get out of control, lose control as part of offer
Get something out of your system Do what you have long planned to move on as part of offer
Get your act together Do a better job or leave the job self
Give someone the benefit of the doubt Believe what someone says as part of offer
Go back to the drawing board Start over as part of offer
hang in there Don’t Give Up self
Hit the sack Go to sleep as part of offer
It’s not rocket science It’s easy self
Let someone off the hook Stop making anyone responsible for anything as part of offer
Make a long story short Tell briefly as part of offer
miss the boat too late as part of sentence
No pain, no gain You need to work to get what you want self
On the ball Do your job well as part of offer
Pull someone’s leg joke with someone as part of offer
Pull yourself together Calm down self
so far so good So far so good self
Speak of the devil The one we were talking about showed up. self
That’s the last straw My patience is over self
The best of both worlds Ideal Situation as part of offer
Time flies when you’re having fun When it’s fun, time flies by self
To get bent out of shape Get upset as part of offer
To make matters worse Make problem worse as part of offer
under the weather Unhealthy as part of offer
We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it Let’s not talk about this problem right now self
Wrap your head around something Understand something difficult as part of offer
You can say that again It’s true, I agree self
Your guess is as good as mine I have no idea self

Common English idioms and expressions

In America, these are some of the most common English idioms in everyday speech. You can hear them in movies and TV shows, and they are very useful in getting your English closer to that of native speakers. Feel free to use them in the appropriate context.

Idiom Meaning Application
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush A bird in the hand is better than a bird in the sky self
A penny for your thoughts Tell me what you think alone
A penny saved is a penny earned The money you save today can be spent later self
A perfect storm Worst possible situation as part of offer
A picture is worth 1000 words Better to show than tell0030

Actions speak louder than words Believe in people’s deeds, not words self
Add insult to injury Make matters worse as part of offer
Barking up the wrong tree Make mistakes, look for solutions in the wrong place as part of offer
Birds of a feather flock together People who are similar in something are often friends / Two pair of boots (used more often in a negative context) self
Bite off more than you can chew Take on a project that you yourself cannot finish as part of sentence
Break the ice Make people feel more comfortable as part of offer
By the skin of your teeth With great difficulty, barely as part of offer
Comparing apples to oranges Comparing two incomparable things as part of offer
Costs an arm and a leg Very expensive as part of offer
Do something at the drop of a hat Do something unplanned in advance as part of offer
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you Treat people fairly. Known as the «golden rule» self
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch Do not rely on a successful outcome until the event has occurred self
Don’t cry over spilt milk There is no reason to complain about what cannot be changed self
Don’t give up your day job You are not very good at this business self
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket What you are doing is too risky self
Every cloud has a silver lining Good follows bad self
Get a taste of your own medicine You are treated the way you treat others (with a negative connotation) as part of offer
Give someone the cold shoulder Ignore someone as part of offer
Go on a wild goose chase Doing something is pointless as part of offer
Good things come to those who wait Be patient self
He has bigger fish to fry He has bigger things to do than we are talking about now self
He’s a chip off the old block Son as father self
Hit the nail on the head Understand something very accurately self
Ignorance is bliss You better not know self
It ain’t over till the fat lady sings It’s not over yet self
It takes one to know one You are as bad as me self
It’s a piece of cake It’s just self
It’s raining cats and dogs Heavy rain self
Kill two birds with one stone Do two things at once (Kill two birds with one stone) self
Let the cat out of the bag Give away the secret as part of offer
live and learn I made a mistake self
Look before you leap Think a Hundred Times Before Taking Risks self
On thin ice Conditionally. If you make another mistake, there will be problems. as part of offer
Once in a blue moon Rarely as part of offer
play devil’s advocate Assert the opposite just for the sake of saving argument as part of offer
Put something on ice Put project on hold as part of offer
Rain on someone’s parade Spoil something as part of offer
Saving for a rainy day Save money for the future as part of offer
Slow and steady wins the race Reliability is more important than speed self
Spill the beans Reveal the secret as part of offer
Take a rain check Postpone plan as part of offer
Take it with a grain of salt Don’t take it too seriously as part of offer
The ball is in your court This is your decision self
The best thing since sliced ​​bread Really good invention as part of offer
The devil is in the details Looks good from a distance, but if you look closely, you will see problems self
The early bird gets the worm Those who come first get the best self
The elephant in the room The Big Problem, the Problem Everyone Avoids as part of offer
The whole nine yards Everything from start to finish as part of sentence
There are other fish in the sea Even if the opportunity is missed, there will be others. self
There’s a method to his madness He looks crazy, but he’s actually smart. independent
There’s no such thing as a free lunch Nothing is absolutely free (Free cheese is only in a mousetrap). self
Throw caution to the wind Take a chance as part of offer
You can’t have your cake and eat it too You can’t have everything self
You can’t judge a book by its cover A person or thing may seem ugly on the outside, but they are good on the inside (Don’t judge a book by its cover) self

Famous English idioms and proverbs

These English idioms and proverbs are familiar and understood by native English speakers, but are not commonly used in everyday speech. If you haven’t mastered the more common idioms yet, it’s best to start with them. But if you are already familiar with these expressions, the idioms below will spice up your English.

Idiom Meaning Application
A little learning is a dangerous thing People who don’t fully understand something are dangerous self
A snowball effect Events by inertia are layered one on top of the other (Snowball) as part of offer
A snowball’s chance in hell no chance as part of offer
A stitch in time saves nine Fix the problem now or it will get worse later self
A storm in a teacup Big fuss about a small problem (Make a molehill) as part of offer
An apple a day keeps the doctor away Apples are good for health self
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure You can prevent the problem now with a little effort. Eliminating it later will be more difficult. self
As right as rain Excellent as part of offer
Bolt from the blue What happens without warning as part of offer
Burn bridges Destroy relationships as part of offer
Calm before the storm Something bad is coming, but at the moment everything is calm (Calm before the storm) as part of offer
Come rain or shine Despite everything as part of offer
Curiosity killed the cat Stop Asking Questions alone
Cut the mustard Provide a service as part of offer
Don’t beat a dead horse That’s it, this topic is closed self
Every dog ​​has his day Everyone gets a chance at least once self
Familiarity breeds contempt The more you know someone, the less you like them self
Fit as a fiddle Be healthy and strong as part of offer
Fortune favors the bold Risk alone
Get a second wind A second wind has opened as part of offer
Get wind of something Hear about something secret as part of offer
Go down in flames Fail miserably (of failure) as part of sentence
Haste makes waste You will make mistakes if you are in a hurry self
Have your head in the clouds Being distracted as part of offer
He who laughs last laughs loudest I will repay you with the same monteo self
Hear something straight from the horse’s mouth Hear something firsthand as part of offer
He’s not playing with a full deck He is stupid self
He’s off his rocker He is crazy self
He’s sitting on the fence He cannot decide self
It is a poor workman who blames his tools If you can’t get the job done, don’t blame others self
It is always darkest before the dawn Further will be better self
It takes two to tango One person does not bear all responsibility, both are involved self
Jump on the bandwagon Follow the trend, do what everyone else does as part of offer
Know which way the wind is blowing Understand the situation (usually with a negative connotation) as part of offer
Leave no stone unturned look around carefully as part of offer
Let sleeping dogs lie Stop discussing question as part of offer
Like riding a bicycle Something you will never forget how to do as part of offer
Like two peas in a pod They are always together, inseparable as part of offer
Make hay while the sun shines Take advantage of a good situation as part of offer
On cloud nine Very happy as part of offer
Once bitten twice shy You are more careful after being hurt self
Out of the frying pan and into the fire Things go from bad to worse self
Run like the wind run fast as part of offer
Shape up or ship out Do a better job or quit this job self
Snowed under Busy as part of sentence
That ship has sailed too late self
The pot calling the kettle black Criticizing someone, we show you in the same light as part of offer
There are clouds on the horizon Trouble is coming alone
Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones People with a bad reputation should not criticize others self
Through thick and thin In good times and in bad as part of offer
Time is money Work fast self
Waste not, want not Do not scatter things, and you will always have enough of everything self
We see eye to eye We agree self
Weather the storm Go through something difficult as part of offer
well begun is half done A good start is half the battle (very important) self
When it rains it pours Everything goes wrong from the start self
You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar You will get everything you want if you are pleasant in communication self
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink You can’t force someone to make the right decision self
You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs You have to pay for everything self

idioms in English with a translation of

What is an idiom in English

Idioma (it is also Phraseologism , it is also Sustainable expression ) is a indivisible phrase, which is characteristic follows from the values ​​of its constituent components. That is, there can be plenty of problems with translation.

If you are in the company of lovers of set expressions that you do not yet know, then if you try to translate them literally, you risk going crazy. Of course, if you know the history of their occurrence, idioms do not seem strange, but on the contrary, they are quite logical. But when getting acquainted with phraseological units, at first it is very difficult to understand what is what and how in general it can be remembered and applied.

Don’t worry, this article will answer all your questions about idioms in English.

How do idioms appear?

«. Let’s figure it out!

Most of the idioms come from ancient traditions, legends and religious texts. They have been living in speech for more than one hundred years. Here are a couple of examples of very old idioms:

  • Sword of Damocles This expression, which came from the Greek tradition, denotes the danger hanging over a person. According to legend, the Syracusan king Dionysius hung a heavy sharp sword over the head of his courtier Damocles. He did this in order to show that, despite the apparent prosperity and luxurious life, the kings are in danger every minute.
  • To be green with envy The same Greeks believed that jealousy and envy cause a person to secrete bile, which is why he turns green. As a rule, such ancient expressions can be found verbatim analogues in many languages.

Many idioms are based on expressions that once really had a literal meaning.

Examples of expressions related to ancient realities:

  • To let one’s hair down — behave at ease, relax. The expression originated at a time when women wore elaborate updos. It took a lot of effort to create and maintain such a hairstyle throughout the day. In the evening, before going to bed, you could finally loosen your hair and relax.
  • To give someone a cold shoulder — give a cold welcome, be indifferent. Shoulder in English means not only the shoulder of a person, but also a shoulder of meat carcass (and a shoulder of lamb has always been a popular English dish). The British served hot, fresh food to welcome guests. If the guest appeared at the wrong time and inopportunely, he had to be content with a cold shoulder, that is, a cold shoulder.

Today, idioms continue to appear in the language in large numbers. They can come from literary works, songs, films and TV series. But idioms are not born at the snap of a finger—a sufficient amount of time must pass before it can be said that a new idiom has appeared. As a rule, at first it is just a metaphorical expression. And if many people find it interesting and start using it in their speech, then over time this expression can turn from a caterpillar into a butterfly — become an idiom. Here are a few phraseological units that appeared already in the 20th century:

  • Cut to the chase — get to the point. The old films were not very action packed, and often the most exciting part of the film was the chase. Remember how in the film «The Man from the Boulevard des Capucines» the main character explained what editing is? Here the same thing is meant — to cut out unnecessary arguments and move on to the most interesting.
  • Fly by the seat of one’s pants — act without a plan, navigate on the go. This rather curious phrase has a very serious background. It is associated with early aviation, when there were almost no instruments in the planes and the pilots had to listen to the behavior of the aircraft and rely on their feelings. And the place where the pilot has the most contact with the aircraft is, of course, the seat in which he sits.
  • Backseat driver — uninvited adviser; a person who criticizes but does nothing. Those who drive may be familiar with this type of passenger who likes to constantly give advice and believe that they know better than the driver how to steer. This idiom of the English language arose precisely because of such people.
  • Smoke and mirrors — hiding the truth, throwing dust in the eyes. Especially often this phrase is used in a political context. Its origin is quite simple: smoke and mirrors were often (and still are) used in the tricks of illusionists.

If the number of idioms is already innumerable, besides, it constantly becomes even more, then how can you remember everything? Of course, it is impossible to know all idioms, but we will tell you how to facilitate the memorization process and significantly enrich your vocabulary.

How to memorize idioms and phraseological units

As we have already said, it is impossible to understand or even guess the meaning of an idiom from individual words. It needs to be known in its entirety. Because of this, many students bypass phraseological units, because they can be difficult to learn. But in vain! Idioms are an integral part of culture and language, they enrich speech, take it to a new level. The list of advantages of using idioms in speech can be supplemented for a long time. One has only to start plunging into the world of idioms and phraseological units, as it will begin to draw you in.

Learning idioms can be easy and fun if you follow a few rules:

  1. Start with the ones that interest you the most. You might want to start by learning more about idioms that originated in a certain historical period, or about expressions on a specific topic (money, animals, or flowers).
  2. Learn the origin of the idiom. So the idiom will no longer seem like a strange set of words, but will acquire a clear meaning.
  3. Do not try to translate set expressions literally, but invent your own associations for memorization. The weirder the association, the faster you will remember the idiom.
  4. Practice. Without the use of idioms in speech, it makes no sense to study them. If you do not have an interlocutor ready to support your undertaking, practice on your own: make sentences with idioms, think over situations in which it would be appropriate to use the expressions you have just learned.

Yes, it seems that this process is slow, but effective. If you follow our recommendations, then learning idioms will seem like an exciting challenge, and the knowledge itself will not be forgotten the next day.

A few more tips on how to memorize English idioms are given by American Dani in this video:

Why know idioms in English

The British are still fond of inserting an idiom or two into their speech. And even if you are not going to constantly use set expressions in your speech, then it is worth learning them at least to understand the interlocutor.

Idioms help to understand not only the specific conversation in which they are used, but also the culture and behavior of the British in general. Studying them, you study the history of the country, begin to understand what interests its inhabitants.

And don’t forget your own speech. Imagine how much you can improve your vocabulary if you stop bypassing the study of idioms! Moreover, above we told how to make this process interesting and productive.

It’s time to go directly to the idioms themselves. We have divided them by topic to make it easier to remember.

Shakespeare’s idioms

Shakespeare’s works have served as a rich source of idioms and catchphrases for the English language. Let’s get to know a few of them:

  • Pound of flesh (literally “a pound of flesh”) is a legal but exorbitant requirement; payment ruthlessly collected from the debtor.
  • A plague on both your houses
  • The green-eyed monster (literally «green-eyed monster») — jealousy.
  • To wear one’s heart upon one’s sleeve Perhaps this expression is associated with the traditions of knightly tournaments, when the knights, as a sign of devotion to their lady of the heart, tied a scarf on their hand, presented by her. However, the first use of this phrase in a figurative sense is recorded precisely in Shakespeare.
  • Applaud to the echo — noisy, enthusiastic applause.
  • At one fell swoop
  • Vanish into thin air — melt like smoke, disappear without a trace.
  • Fair play Fair play. This quite modern-sounding expression was also the first to use Shakespeare and used it in several of his works. For example, in the play «The Tempest»: «Yes, for a score of kingdoms you should wrangle, and I would call it, fair play» .

Usage examples:

  • He knew that I had tough times, but he continued insisting on his pound of flesh . — He knew that I had a hard time, but he continued to insist on repaying the debt.
  • John suffers from the green-eyed monster every time his girlfriend goes out without him. — John suffers from jealousy every time his girlfriend goes somewhere without him.
  • My glasses have vanished into thin air . I’ve been looking for them the whole morning and still can’t find them. — My glasses have disappeared somewhere. I’ve been looking for them all morning and still can’t find them.

Idioms about the sea

In Britain, navigation has long been developed, so it is no coincidence that many idioms in the English language have a maritime origin. Let’s dive into the marine theme and learn a few idioms:

  • Loose cannon is an unpredictable, unreliable person. In the 17th-19th centuries, cannons were the main armament of ships. To avoid strong recoil, the guns were firmly fixed and tied with ropes. If during a battle or a storm the fastenings weakened, the heavy gun rolled uncontrollably on the deck, representing a great danger to the life of the crew. and loose cannon literally means loose cannon.
  • To give a wide berth — keep a distance, go around a mile away. Now berth means a berth, a place for a ship to stay, but in the 17th century it also meant a space for a ship to maneuver. Thus, «to give something wide berth » literally meant «to pass from it at a sufficient distance.»
  • By and large — by and large. To get to the bottom of this English idiom, you need to understand a few nautical terms. Large wind is a fair, or “full” wind blowing in the stern of the ship. It is easiest for a sailing ship to sail in such a wind. In turn, by the wind means a course towards the wind (hauled). Not every ship (and not every crew) was able to cope with it. Initially, by and large meant the ability to steer a ship in any wind. In the modern sense — to consider the issue from different angles.

Application examples:

  • I don’t want to work together with Ness, she’s a loose cannon and can change her mind a hundred times a day. — I don’t want to work with Ness, she is unpredictable and can change her mind a hundred times a day.
  • When Mary is in a bad mood, it’s better to give her a wide berth . — When Mary is in a bad mood, it’s best to stay away from her.
  • I’m satisfied, by and large , with your project but you have to rewrite an introduction a bit. — In general, I’m happy with your project, but you will have to rewrite the introduction a bit.

English idioms with biblical roots

Many set expressions came to English from the Bible. Many of them exist in Russian as well.

  • A drop in the bucket (and later — a drop in the ocean ) — a drop in the bucket.
  • To cast pearls before swine
  • A voice crying in the wilderness
  • A wolf in sheep’s clothing
  • Beat swords into plowshares — Forge swords into plowshares.
  • Flesh and blood
  • Forbidden fruit — forbidden fruit.
  • Like a lamb to the slaughter
  • Promised land
  • Keep as the apple of one’s eye

Usage examples:

  • Our major competitors found out about our new project. I think that someone in our team is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and is leaking information. — Our main competitors found out about our new project. I think someone on our team is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and is leaking information.
  • Yes, she has an awful temper but I love her anyway because she’s my sister, my flesh and blood . — Yes, she has a terrible temper, but I still love her, because she is my sister, my flesh and blood.
  • She is my only daughter. Eric, please, keep her as the apple of your eye . — She is my only daughter. Eric, please take care of her like the apple of your eye.

Idioms about the weather

If you don’t know how to start a conversation with a stranger, or the dialogue has reached an impasse, then it’s time to talk about the weather. Especially if your interlocutor is from the United Kingdom. In this case, by the way, there are countless idioms in the English language. Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • To keep a weather eye on something/someone — carefully monitor something/someone. This idiom can be found quite logical explanation. In the UK, the weather is known to be quite unpredictable, and you need to keep an eye on it if you don’t want to suddenly get caught in the rain, for example.
  • Saving for a rainy day A rainy day in this case refers to some unforeseen problems for which a person is trying to be prepared.
  • To be on cloud nine — to be in seventh heaven with happiness. Not all weather-related idioms are negative. In this case, the idiom is used when a person is incredibly happy.
  • Under the weather — feel bad. Use this idiom when you are feeling slightly unwell or tired after a hard day at work.
  • Storm in a teacup In Russian, you can pick up a synonymous expression «to make an elephant out of a fly. »
  • To steal somebody’s thunder — pass off other people’s ideas as your own and get all the laurels for yourself. Perhaps the origin of this idiom is connected with the theatrical sphere of the XVIII-XIX centuries. One director invented a new way to play the sound of thunder. He used it in his production, which nevertheless failed, and did not find success. However, another director used his method in a play that became very popular. Here is an unfortunate colleague and was indignant: «You stole my thunder!» .

Usage examples:

  • Megar is keeping a weather eye on the stock market because she’s worried about losing her money. — Megar keeps a close eye on the stock market because he is afraid of losing his money.
  • I got $1000 for my birthday but I’m not going to spend it right now, I’m saving it for a rainy day . — I was given 1000 dollars for my birthday, but I’m not going to spend it right now, I’ll save it for a rainy day.
  • I’m feeling under the weather after such a difficult week. I think I’ll spend the whole weekend watching TV at home. — I don’t feel well after such a hard week. I think I’ll spend the whole weekend at home in front of the TV.
  • Samantha stole my thunder when she said she’d written my poem. What a shame! — Samantha stole my laurels when she said she wrote my poem. What a shame!

Animal idioms

Our smaller brothers also appear very often in phraseological units and idioms. Most often, idioms are built on the transfer of some qualities and characteristics of animals to a person or situation. In these cases, the chances of guessing the meaning of the idiom are much greater. Here are some examples of English animal idioms:

  • To have ants in one’s pants — to behave restlessly in anticipation of something. In Russian, we say «goosebumps» or «I’m shaking all over. » It is enough to imagine a person who felt that small ants were crawling over him, and you will easily remember the meaning of the idiom.
  • Hold your horses — “hold your horses”, as they would say in Russia. This expression means to wait and be patient. Usually the idiom is used as a separate exclamatory sentence.
  • To have a cow — to be very angry and upset, most often because of a trifle. By the way, this idiom is an example of how TV shows and cartoons influence the emergence of new lexical units. Phrase «Don’t have a cow!» belongs to Bart Simpson. After some time, it was firmly entrenched in the English language and became an idiom.
  • To get your ducks in a row — put things in order. Most often used when talking about work or some kind of project. You can imagine a mother duck with her ducklings following closely behind her in a straight line. This is the same order that should be in your affairs.
  • Lion’s share — the lion’s share, the largest share of something. You can also draw an analogy with the animal world and imagine how a lion eats most of its prey.

Usage examples:

  • Linda had ants in her pants the day before her driving test. — The day before the driving test, Linda was already fidgeting with worry.
  • Hold your horses! I’ll be free in 5 minutes and we can go to the restaurant. — Hold your horses! I’ll be free in five minutes, and then we can go to a restaurant.
  • My mother had a cow when she noticed that I was watching TV instead of doing my homework. — Mom got really angry when she noticed that I was watching TV instead of doing my homework.
  • Mary always gets the lion’s share of the attention from her colleagues. — Mary always gets the lion’s share of attention from her colleagues.

Idioms associated with colors

As a rule, each color in a person is associated with some phenomena, qualities and events. These associations may vary depending on cultures, but one way or another they form the basis of many phraseological units.

Let’s compare whether these associations are similar in Russian and English cultures, and at the same time analyze a few idioms.

Black color

Black color in both cultures means «bad», «evil». This can be seen from the following expressions:

  • A black dog — bad mood, despondency.
  • Black in the face

Usage examples:

  • I don’t want to see you in a black dog again, let’s go somewhere and just relax. — I don’t want to see you in a bad mood again, let’s go somewhere and rest.
  • You’re black in the face today, who made you so angry? — You are blacker than a cloud today, who made you so angry?

White color

White color is associated with something pure, innocent. Also, the name of this color is often used in the meaning of «pale». For example:

  • White hands — honesty, innocence.
  • White lie — a lie for good.
  • White as a ghost — pale as a ghost, pale as if he saw a ghost (feared).
  • To turn white

Usage examples:

  • The movie was so scary that my sister was as white as a ghost ! — The movie was so scary that my sister turned white as a ghost!
  • I just wanted to get out of work so I told my boss a little white lie , and said I needed to meet my parents at the airport. — I just wanted to run away from work, so I lied to my boss that I needed to meet my parents at the airport.

Red color

Red color in Russian often occurs in the meaning of «beautiful». But this meaning does not match with English. Here are some examples of red idioms:

  • To be caught red handed — be caught red-handed.
  • To see red This idiom can be associated with a red rag for a bull. Although bulls react aggressively not to red, but to movement, the association between a red rag and something that is very unnerving and annoying has become entrenched in the minds of many.
  • A red herring
  • To be in the red — to be in debt.

Application examples:

  • Unfortunately that witness was just a red herring . — Unfortunately, this witness was just a decoy.
  • I hate being in the red but I have no other option now. — I hate being in the red, but now I have no other choice.

Blue color

The main mood associated with the color blue in English is sadness, sadness. Even the name of the calm and melancholy musical direction blues came from the expression blue devils — blues. And here are a couple of phraseological units related to it:

  • To feel blue — to be sad.
  • To have the blues — to be upset and depressed.

But there are other idioms associated with the color blue:

  • To make the air blue — to quarrel.
  • Out of the blue — suddenly.
  • Once in a blue moon — very rare.
  • Blue-eyed boy is a favorite.

Usage examples:

  • Nora has decided to quit her job out of the blue , and become a volunteer! — Nora suddenly decided to quit her job and become a volunteer!
  • After John moved abroad, his parents see him once in a blue moon . — After John moved abroad, his parents barely see him.
  • Why do you have the blues ? — Why are you sad?
  • My parents never make the air blue in my company. — Parents never quarrel in front of me.

Green color

There are many idioms in the English language that use the color green. Often the meaning of these expressions is associated with envy and jealousy. Above in the article, we have already touched on this value:

  • The green-eyed monster — envy, jealousy.
  • To be/get green with envy — envy someone.

But green can also convey other meanings:

  • To give someone a green light — give someone permission. In Russian, we also use the expression «give the green light.»
  • To have green fingers (BrE) / to have a green thumb (AmE) — to be a good gardener, to have a talent for gardening.
  • To be a little green — have an unhealthy complexion, feel unwell.
  • To be green as a gooseberry — to be very young and inexperienced.

Usage examples:

  • My older brother always used to get green with envy if my dad bought something for me and not for him. — My older brother always turned green with envy if my father bought something for me and not for him.
  • I’m not ready to promote you to a higher position yet as you’re green as a gooseberry sometimes. — I’m not ready to promote you yet, because in some respects you are still inexperienced.

Idioms with the word color

In addition to idioms with specific colors, there are many set expressions in English with the word color . Let’s get acquainted with some of them:

  • To be colourless — to be a boring or unremarkable person. In Russian, we can say about this: «Grey Mouse».
  • Off color — sick.
  • Local color is an expression used to describe the local features that make a place remarkable.
  • To see someone’s true colors — find out the true nature of a person.
  • With flying colors — with great results, wild success.
  • To paint in bright/dark colors Describe something good/bad.

Usage examples:

  • The weekend seafood market adds much local color to the village. — The seafood market, which is open on weekends, gives the village a special flavor.
  • He hadn’t been preparing for the exam, but he passed it with flying colors ! — He did not study for the exam, but he passed it perfectly!
  • Dan was struggling financially after losing his job, but he painted everything in bright colors in order not to upset his mother. — Dan was struggling financially after losing his job, but he put it in a good light so as not to upset his mother.

There are many idioms in every language, some of which we are so used to that we no longer notice. But it is they who make the language colorful, lively and emotional. It is not for nothing that an Englishman can say about the expressive speech of a person: «His speech is highly idiomatic» . Using phraseological units in your speech, you can surprise even a native speaker, so do not be afraid of idioms and do not bypass them, even if you are worried about translation or looking for analogues. And for inspiration, watch the video with the top 5 English idioms from Tanya Starikova:

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Idioms in English

Learning idioms is useful for everyone, whatever the level of knowledge of a foreign language. Why and how to do it more efficiently — we will tell in the article. And, of course, we will analyze the idioms themselves in English with translation.

Idioms are such groups of words for which the general meaning does not consist of the meanings of the parts. Therefore, guessing the meaning of phrases is quite difficult, and you need to memorize them in finished form. Each word alone can only give a hint, but the overall meaning always turns out to be slightly different than the simple sum of the elements.

What is an idiom in English

What are these phrases? In Russian, we rather use the term «phraseological unit», the name «idiom» — idiom has been assigned to English. But the meanings of the terms are identical: this is a chain of words in which each word has its own place, and the meaning of such a chain does not coincide with the meaning of the elements. For example, the idiom to have a frog in your throat does not translate as «to have a frog in your throat.» The meaning is not assigned to individual words, but to the whole phrase as a whole — “wheeze, speak with difficulty, experience a sore throat.” That is, an idiom is an independent unit of the dictionary.

There are units of the language that are very similar to idioms, but still differ in some ways. For example, phraseologisms and collocations should not be confused. Collocations are the choice of a word established in the language when using another word. So, in some cases in English the verb to make is used (to do, create), and in others to do (to do, to carry out). We will say to make an effort (make an effort, try), but to do a favor (provide a service). The choice of a word is fixed by the rules of the language, but the meaning is transparent and consists of the meanings of each word separately. This is where collocations differ from idioms.

Phrasal verbs also belong to collocations. In them, the prepositions with the verb, rather, only modify the meaning, and for each preposition one can single out its own meaning. In addition, phrasal verbs have a clear formation scheme: a preposition or adverb is added to the predicate. And idioms in English can take any form.

Phraseologisms also differ from proverbs. Proverbs are limited in their semantic content: they are designed to reflect folk wisdom, contain advice or warning. Whereas phraseological units can describe any situation. There is also a difference in form: idioms do not necessarily act as a sentence, it can only be part of it. Proverbs are complete sentences.

The form of a phraseological unit can be fixed more or less rigidly. The verb usually changes freely in time. But the choice of the article or its absence can be strictly fixed. For example, in the idiom (a) piece of cake (a trifle, an easy thing), there is no article before the word cake. But in the literal meaning of “a piece of the pie”, the article can appear according to the rules of the English language.

Don’t worry, it’s a piece of cake, there will be no problem! “Don’t worry, it’s as easy as shelling pears, there won’t be any problems!”

I got a piece of the cake that you baked — I got a piece of the cake that you baked

Why know idioms in English

What do phraseological units give us? Of course, knowledge of idioms expands vocabulary and makes speech more diverse and lively. Phraseological units are not exclusively book vocabulary, they are actively used in everyday speech and are appropriate in various styles.

Learning idioms is useful for more than just expanding your vocabulary. They reflect the nature of the language, retain information about the mentality. It is a source of knowledge about culture and traditions, and mastering idioms helps you think like a native speaker.

How to memorize phraseological units

Learning idioms in English is difficult precisely because the result of combining words can be unobvious and unpredictable.

To make the task easier, use special techniques:

  1. Use associations. Association building is a memory technique that can be used in any situation. Phraseologisms themselves suggest its use: combine in images the meaning of the idiom with the literal meaning of words. Then the complexity of idioms turns into an advantage in their study: the unpredictability of the meaning guarantees interesting combinations of images that are easier to remember.
  2. Find out the history of the idiom. It will be easier for you to remember the expression if there are additional references for it. In addition, history often helps to understand the meaning of phraseological units. A vivid example is the idiom cross the Rubicon (to cross the Rubicon — to take a decisive, irreparable action, to make an irreversible decision). In history, the Rubicon is the river that Caesar crossed with his army, this act marked the beginning of the war.
  3. Learn phraseological units by topic. Do not try to embrace the immensity at once. Break idioms into blocks to structure information. While analyzing English idioms with translation in this article, we will also follow this principle.
  4. Look for analogues. Don’t just translate the idiom, but look for a phraseological unit that is identical in meaning in Russian. Many idioms in English and Russian have the same source, such as idioms with biblical origins. Comparing phraseological units in two languages, one can see cultural similarities and differences in the perception of situations.

Example expressions

As we said, idioms are easier to remember if you break them into thematic blocks. The most typical themes of phraseological units are what people deal with daily: weather, animals, body parts, money, colors, home.

Topic: Animals

Let’s look at some English idioms with translations and usage examples related to animals.

  • for the birds — no good, something useless and uninteresting (literally: for birds)

    I can tell that his theory is for the birds

  • a fat cat — a rich and powerful person (literally: a fat cat)

    I hate these fat cats who only care about their yachts

  • like cat and dog — often argue and swear (literally: like a cat with a dog)

    We fought like cat and dog the whole time we were together, or at least most of the time

  • crocodile tears — fake, insincere emotions (literally: crocodile tears)

    They are always ready to shed crocodile tears for the camera

  • a dog’s breakfast — mess, nonsense (literally: dog’s breakfast)

    The band was a right dog’s breakfast, with no bass player and an over-enthusiastic pianist

  • donkey work — boring, monotonous work (literally: donkey work)

    Now the PhD students do the donkey work

  • an elephant in the room — an obvious problem that they are trying to ignore (literally: an elephant in the room)

    It’s an elephant in the room that we need to discuss

  • (a) fish out of water

    As a non-golfer, I felt like a fish out of water at the clubhouse

  • hold your horses — slow down, take your time (literally: hold your horses)

    Hold your horses! We need to get the customer’s approval first — Take your time, we need to get the customer’s approval first

  • monkey business — dishonest activity (literally: monkey labor)

    The results seem announced suspicious, I think there’s some monkey business going on

  • smell a rat — to feel that things are not going fair (literally: to smell a rat)

    The profits are abnormally low. I smell a rat — Incredibly small profit. Something is wrong here

  • keep the wolf from the door — have a minimum income (literally: keep the wolf outside the door)

    He got a part-time job just to keep the wolf from the door — He found a part-time job just to make a living.

Theme: colors

It is not uncommon to find idioms in English that use color.

  • be in a black mood

    Don’t ask silly questions, he’s in a black mood

  • in black and white — confirmation in writing, black on white (literally: black and white)

    Actually, the reports concerned various research grants won by Professor Smith and though the reason for the grants was there in black and white, it didn’t make much sense to me , and although the basis for these grants was spelled out in black and white, I could not understand anything

  • feel blue — feel longing (literally: feel blue)

    I’m going to see my grandmother. She’s feeling a bit blue at the moment — I’m going to visit my grandmother. She is a little sad now1468

  • golden opportunity — a great opportunity that should not be missed (literally: a golden opportunity)

    An internship in that company would be a golden opportunity for you

  • golden rule — the main rule (literally: golden rule)

    Claude taught me the golden rule: only 45% of a restaurant’s success depends on cuisine. The rest is determined by the atmosphere — Claude taught me the golden rule: only 45% of a restaurant’s success depends on the cuisine. The rest is determined by the atmosphere

  • green with envy — very jealous (literally: green with envy)

    Dave will be green with envy when he sees your new sports car — Dave will die of envy when he sees your new sports car

  • gray area — unclear, intermediate, does not fit into categories or rules (literally: gray area)

    The result of this is a gray area where the two signs are not clearly differentiated

  • red flag to a bull — an annoying factor, a provocateur of anger (literally: a red flag for a bull)

    Never talk to him like that. You should know it’s like a red flag to a bull — Never talk to him like that. You should know it’s like a red rag to a bull

  • white elephant — something useless, but expensive (literally: white elephant)

    The project became an expensive white elephant and we had to forget about it — The project turned into an expensive dummy and we were forced to forget about it

  • white lie — lie for good (literally: white lie)

    She asked if I liked her new haircut, and of course I told a white lie — She asked if I liked her new haircut, and of course I lied for good.

Subject: weather

There are many jokes and anecdotes about the weather in English, and the terms of natural phenomena are actively used in the formation of phraseological units. Therefore, we will analyze idioms in English with translation and examples from the weather topic.

  • (a) cloud on the horizon — an expected, expected future problem (literally: a cloud on the horizon)

    The only cloud on the horizon was a boy called Dennis

  • reach for the moon — to be ambitious and try to achieve a difficult goal (literally: to reach the moon)

    My father always wanted me to reach for the moon — My father always wanted me to strive for very ambitious goals

  • come rain or shine — regularly, regardless of the circumstances (literally: even in the rain, even in the sun)

    Every morning just before seven, come rain or shine you’ll find him on the way to the gym

  • chasing rainbows — chasing the impossible (literally: chasing rainbows)

    I certainly couldn’t afford to waste all my money chasing rainbows1468

  • (a) storm in a teacup

    Both are trying to present the disagreement as a storm in a teacup

  • know which way wind blows

    How can you draw a conclusion if you don’t know which way the wind is blowing? How can you draw a conclusion if you don’t know how things are?

In this topic, you can talk not only about phraseological units composed with the mention of natural phenomena, but also remember what idioms the English language uses to describe the weather:

  • (the) heavens open — very heavy rain suddenly began (literally: the heavens opened)

    And right at that moment the heavens opened

  • raining cats and dogs — heavy rain, pouring like a bucket (literally: it’s raining from cats and dogs)

    It was raining cats and dogs and the teachers were running in and out helping us get our stuff

Topic: money

It is also impossible to get around the idioms in English concerning the material condition.

  • born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth — to have rich parents (literally: to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth)

    The new student was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and has had an easy life1468

  • cost an arm and a leg — very expensive, a fortune (literally: cost an arm and a leg)

    The fact is that getting married can cost an arm and a leg, not to mention a cake, bridesmaids and an organist

  • like a million dollars — very good, excellent (literally: a million dollars)

    Now we want you, our readers, to feel like a million dollars too

  • lose your shirt — lose all your money and savings, be left with nothing, often as a result of gambling (literally: lose your shirt)

    He lost his shirt when the bank went bankrupt — He was left with nothing when the bank went bankrupt

  • make ends meet — have very little money (literally: make ends meet)

    How he disciplined himself to make meet in that difficult time he ends explained in his book

  • money for old rope — easily earned money, dustless work (literally: money for an old rope)

    Getting paid for watering the garden is money for old rope — Getting paid for watering the garden is easy bread

  • go from rags to riches — turn from a very poor to a very rich person (literally: come from rags to riches)

    By renovating old houses, he went from rags to riches

Topic: home

Idioms about the home and household are common in English.

  • armchair traveller — someone who knows a lot about different countries, but has never been anywhere (literally: a traveler in an armchair)

    A surprising number of adventure books are bought by armchair travelers

  • roll out the red carpet — give a special welcome to an important guest (literally: spread a red carpet)

    Next Saturday they will roll out the red carpet for the visit of the great poet

  • darken somebody’s door — to come as an unexpected, unwanted guest (literally: blacken someone’s door)

    Just get out of here and never darken my door again! «Get out and don’t come back!»

  • put house in order — deal with your problems before giving advice (literally: put house in order)

    You should put your own house in order instead of telling me how to act — You should deal with your problems instead of teaching me how to act

  • have a lot on your plate — be very busy, deal with several problems at the same time (literally: have a lot on your plate)

    I know you’ve got a lot on your plate at the moment. But I’d see her soon, if I were you — I know you have a lot of your problems now. But if I were you, I would see her as soon as possible

  • raise the roof — loudly express approval, actively clap and shout (literally: raise the roof)

    The concert was such a success, the audience raised the roof

  • go out the window — disappear, missed opportunity (literally: go out the window)

    All hopes of finding a job went out the window

The construction as… as

Idioms in English can refer to a variety of topics and look completely different. But there are also well-established schemes according to which phraseological units are actively formed, for example — as … as. This construction is very common and acts as an artistic comparison that has become entrenched in the language.

  • as silent as the grave — absolutely quiet, calm (literally: silent as a grave)
  • as strong as a bull — physically strong (literally: strong as a bull)
  • as quiet as a mouse — very quiet, inconspicuous (literally: quiet as a mouse)
  • as regular as clockwork — regularly, on schedule, without failures (literally: regular, like clockwork)
  • as right as rain — as expected, correct / in good condition, healthy (literally: correct, like rain)
  • as sharp as a needle — smart, quick-witted (literally: sharp as a needle)
  • as silly as a goose — very stupid (literally: stupid as a goose)
  • as solid as a rock — reliable, indestructible (literally: solid as a rock)

Idioms in English with translation

What is an idiom in English

Imagine that you are in a circle of English-speaking people, and you hear fragments of conversations in which pigs are constantly flying, someone’s back is scratched, and money is on fire. Don’t be afraid, these people are not crazy. Just you met face to face face-to-face with English idioms.

Like Russian phraseological units, idioms are set expressions. Idioms are taken as a whole and never translated literally.

  • For example, when someone says that he hit the sack (literally “beat the sack”), this means that he is going to bed, and does not plan to beat the sack at all.

The meaning of the idiom is in the whole phrase, not in individual words.

It is important not to confuse idioms with phrasal verbs or proverbs. In phrasal verbs, the meaning is regulated by a preposition before the verb. And the formation of a phrasal verb occurs according to a clear algorithm. For idioms, unlike phrasal verbs, there are no rules.

Idioms can also be confused with proverbs. The speech situation in which a proverb can be said is limited by many conditions. While idioms are widely used, on a grand scale, due to their high descriptive ability. The same idiom can be successfully used in conversations that are completely different in context.

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Why know idioms in English

It may seem silly to use allegories like some guests from the past. Why all these dances with a tambourine in a normal conversation?

It’s simple. Phraseologisms make speech lively, vivid, figurative. The abundance of idiomatic expressions in your speech is a true indicator of your level of English.

Studying idioms, you immerse yourself in the culture of the English-speaking peoples. Understanding the similarities and differences between cultures will help you get a better feel for the language. When deciding to speak in a foreign language, you must be ready to be able to think — like a native speaker of this language and understand idioms. Or at least be open to completely new knowledge.

Therefore, idioms are necessary, important and useful. Teaching them is a pleasure, sometimes it can be really fun.

To make idioms quick and easy to remember, follow these tips:

  1. Group English phraseological units with translation by topic. It will be much easier for you to learn separately idioms from the group about animals and separately about food. So you systematize new knowledge, and idiomatic mess does not form in your head.
  2. Try to find the Russian equivalent for each new idiom. Sometimes they are not, but most often something, at least approximately similar, can be picked up. You will be surprised how exciting it can be.
  3. If an idiom seems completely illogical and strange to you, try to find its history. Maybe then everything will fall into place to sort things out .
  4. Use memorization techniques, build associations — idioms are just made for this.
  5. Try to insert learned phraseological units into your speech. Don’t let them get into your passive vocabulary — it’s not easy to get out of there.

Idioms about food

We have collected for you English phraseological units with a translation on the topic “food”.

As cool as a cucumber Calm as a boa constrictor.

  • He was as cool as a cucumber when his new iphone 12 dropped on the asphalt. He did not raise an eyebrow when his brand new iPhone 12 fell on the pavement.

To be in a pickle — to be in a difficult situation, like pickles in a jar.

  • We are in a pretty pickle now because our train left 15 minutes ago. We’re in trouble because our train left 15 minutes ago.

Couch Potato is a couch potato, a lazy person who prefers a sofa to any other business.

  • You have a huge belly because you’re a couch potato. You have a big belly because you sit in front of the TV all the time.

Like a sack of potatoes

  • He fell down like a sack of potatoes. He collapsed like a sack of potatoes.

Two peas in a pod — the same as the Russian «like two drops of water», only about peas. So they say about those who are very similar to each other.

  • Phoebe Buffay and her sister Ursula are two peas in a pod. Phoebe Buffay and her sister Ursula are like two peas in a pod.

To be paid peanuts — work for a penny, peanuts are cheap, so if someone says that he is paid with peanuts, it means that the salary is very small.

  • I’m paid peanuts. I don’t have enough money to travel. I earn pennies, I don’t have enough money to travel.

To go nuts — go crazy, go crazy.

  • She went nuts and started to believe that everyone was trying to kill her by tickling. She went berserk and began to believe that everyone wanted to tickle her to death.

There’s no use crying over spilled milk — what’s done is done; there is no point in mourning the runaway milk. Something like the Russian “you can’t glue a broken cup” or “you can’t help grief with tears.”

  • It’s no use crying over spilled milk — she’s spent all the money, and we should think about how to earn. Tears of grief will not help, she has already spent all the money, now we have to think how to make money.

To buy a lemon — buy a pig in a poke, but for unknown reasons, this idiom is used only in relation to a car.

To be the cream of the crop

  • When our company hires new employees we look for the cream of the crop. When we are looking for a new employee in the company, we are looking for the best of the best.

In general, there are many idioms related to food in the English language. But even more so with animals.

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Idioms about animals

Bee’s knees — the ultimate dream, the height of perfection. Such an idiom is used when you want to express your admiration.

  • This dress is the bee’s knees, it really is. This dress is just amazing, really.

Cat’s lick — Rinse quickly, wash rough.

  • All she had time for before her dinner was a cat’s lick. All she had time to do before dinner was a hasty wash.

Little bird told me That’s what they say when it comes to rumors.

  • A little bird told me that your brother is getting married soon. They say your brother is getting married soon.

Top dog — the king of the situation, the master of the situation. Top dog, in general. Often this is said about businessmen and those who have the greatest authority.

  • Steve Jobs was the top dog of the business. Steve Jobs was a real business tycoon.

Straight from the horse’s mouth — from reliable sources.

  • She caught covid19 — I heard it straight from the horse’s mouth. She caught the coronavirus, I know for sure.

Monkey see, monkey do — monkey, imitate.

  • Ann copies everything that her friend does. It is monkey see, monkey do. Ann imitates everything her friend does. What is one, then the other.

Holy cow! — Wow! Well well! Holy cow, in a word. An exclamation of surprise, surprise, admiration.

  • Holy cow! I didn’t know I had a brother. Well well! I didn’t know I had a brother!

Go to the dogs — go broke. This is often said about companies.

  • I think the company will go to the dogs because of the new boss. I think the company will go bankrupt because of the new leader.

For the birds — useless, unnecessary, uninteresting.

  • This meeting is for the birds. This is a completely pointless meeting.

Doggy bag (doggie bag) — a box or bag where a restaurant guest asks to put leftover food from the table.

  • In the chinese restaurant, thes were so big that I decided to ask for a doggie bag. In the Chinese restaurant, the portions were so large that I decided to ask for the leftovers to be wrapped up with me.

Idioms about money

Bet your bottom dollar — guarantee something; to be sure of something; something similar to our «give head to cut off.»

  • I’d bet my bottom dollar that this is a good restaurant. I guarantee you that this is a good place.

Cash cow is a source of income. In Russian there is a «cash cow» — this is not quite the full equivalent, but, in any case, it seems.

  • When I bought this apartment to rent it, I never expected it to become such a cash cow. When I bought this apartment to rent out, I didn’t expect it to be a reliable source of income.

Go Dutch — split the bill in half; pay for yourself. The Dutch are known all over the world for their rational approach to spending, so this expression sounds exactly like that.

  • It is not a real date if you go Dutch. It’s not a real date if you split the bill in half.

Money burns a hole in your pocket — money that does not stay in your pocket. In Russian, there is an almost complete equivalent of «money burns a pocket.»

  • If money burns a hole in your pocket, you never have extra money. If you don’t have money late, then you never have extra money with you.

Nest egg — set aside money; saving; accumulation.

  • It is difficult to build a nest egg when you don’t have a job. It’s hard to save money when you don’t have a job.

Pretty penny — a large, significant amount.

  • She paid a pretty penny for that bag. This bag cost her quite a bit.

Suit every pocket — for every taste; for any request; for any wallet.

  • They offer a wide range of coats to suit every pocket. — They offer a wide range of coats for every taste.

To make a fortune — get rich; to make a fortune.

  • Elon Musk made his fortune producing electric cars. Elon Musk made a fortune in the production of electric vehicles.

Money for old rope — easy money.

  • For me, making cakes and cookies is money for old rope. For me, making money from the production of cookies and cakes is easy.

On the house — at the expense of the institution. About the food and drink served at the establishment.

  • The waiter offered me a drink on the house. The waiter offered me a drink at the expense of the establishment.

Idioms about music

To blow your own trumpet — praise yourself.

  • He is always blowing his own trumpet, even on my birthday. He constantly praises himself, even on my birthday.

All that jazz — and the like; and everything like that.

  • I really enjoy October: Halloween, pumpkins, parties and all that jazz. I love October: Halloween, pumpkins, parties and stuff like that.

For a song — almost free; for a penny or for nothing.

  • I have bought this bag for a song. I snatched this handbag almost for free.

Fit as a fiddle — great fit; excellent health.

  • I do yoga every day so I am as fit as a fiddle. I do yoga every day, so I’m in great shape.

Call the tune — control, dispose.

  • His mother always calls the tune. His mother is always in charge of everything.

To face the music — pay for your actions; take responsibility for what has been done.

  • He broke my MacBook and had to face the music and pay for it. He crashed my macbook and had to pay for it.

Music to my ears — good news. Similar to the Russian «balm for the soul.»

  • He finally sold his bike and bought a car. It was really music to my ears. He finally sold his motorcycle and bought a car. This is a balm for my soul.

Elevator Music — unobtrusive, light music that plays in shopping malls or coffee shops.

  • I love that elevator music in Starbucks. I love that light music at Starbucks.

Ring a bell — seem familiar; sound familiar.

  • This song rang a bell when I heard it. Is this “Peaky Blinders” OST? The song sounded familiar to me, is it the Peaky Blinders soundtrack?

To play second fiddle

  • It is really hard to play second fiddle. It is very difficult to be on the sidelines.

Idioms about time

Here are some common English idioms with a translation on the topic “time”.

To have a whale of a time — have a great time.

  • I had a whale of a time at your party. Please invite me to your next one. I had a great time at the party. Please call me if you meet again.

Pressed for time — to be busy, in a hurry.

  • I’m pressed for time today, because of my sister’s birthday. Hurry up. I’m in a big hurry today because of my sister’s birthday. Hurry.

When the time is ripe when the right time comes.

  • I’ll get the job of my dream when the time is ripe. I will get my dream job when the time is right.

In the nick of time exactly on time.

  • The Bulls scored in the nick of time. The Chicago Bulls hit the ball at the last second.

A waste of time

  • It’s a waste of time watching this series. This series is a waste of time.

Too much time on my hands — too much free time.

  • She always scrolls Instagram, because she has too much time on her hands. She is constantly on Instagram because she has too much free time.

To run out of time / time is up — not to be in time, to be late.

  • I am running out of time to do my homework. I can’t do my homework.

Behind the times — obsolete; out of fashion.

  • He dresses like it was the 90s, he’s behind the times. He dresses like it’s the 90s, he’s out of fashion.

To take one’s time — do not rush.

  • Take your time. We still have time before the party. Take your time, we still have time before the party.

Time is money — time is money. Full tracing-paper with Russian expression.

  • Time is money, let’s hurry up. Time is money, let’s hurry.

Weather idioms

There are quite a lot of weather idioms in the English language. Here are the 10 most popular:

A storm in a teacup — a storm in a teacup; exaggeration. In Russian, the expression “do not make an elephant out of a fly” is associated with this.

  • Don’t make a storm in a teacup, it is just a simple cough. Don’t make an elephant out of a fly, it’s just a normal cough.

It never rains but it pours

  • Yesterday I lost my wallet, then I broke my arm. It never rains but it pours. Yesterday I lost my wallet, and then I completely broke my arm. Trouble comes alone.

Under the weather — feel bad.

  • I’m feeling under the weather today. I have a headache. I don’t feel well today. I have a headache.

To be snowed under — be up to your neck inundated with work.

  • I’m afraid I can’t go to the birthday party. I’m snowed under with work this week. I’m afraid I won’t be able to go to the birthday party. I’m up to my neck with work.

As right as rain — to be in perfect order.

  • I need a few hours of rest to be as right as rain. I need a few hours of rest to be completely fine / fully recover.

To not have the foggiest (idea) — have no idea.

  • I don’t have the foggiest idea how to make matcha cookies. I have no idea how to make matcha cookies.

A fair-weather friend a friend who is there only when you are doing well.

  • She is a fair-weather friend. She didn’t lend me a helping hand when I was ill. She’s only friends with me when I’m doing well. She didn’t help me when I was sick.

A windfall — unexpected profit. The money that fell on you like snow on your head.

  • I won the lottery. It is a windfall. I won the lottery, this money fell like snow on my head.

Chase rainbows — chase a pipe dream.

  • I think you are chasing rainbows trying to become a blogger. I think you’re chasing a pipe dream by trying to become a blogger.

Have your head in the clouds — soar in the clouds, dream.

  • He must be in love, he has his head in the clouds. He seems to have fallen in love, he has his head in the clouds all day.

Idioms for every day

This list contains 10 popular idioms for every day. Memorize and insert into your speech to impress the interlocutor.

You mark my words — mark my word. In ordinary speech, they say this when they want to emphasize their confidence in something.

  • You mark my words, she will leave Max when she finds out that he’s lost his job. Mark my words, she will immediately leave Max when she finds out that he was left without a job.

Do me a favor — do me a favor. This is a polite request. An extremely useful idiom in everyday life.

  • Do me a favor and turn that music down. Do me a favor and turn down the music.

First things first — first all the most important, everything else — then.

  • We’ve a lot to do this evening, but first things first. Let’s have a meal. We’ve got a lot to do tonight, but first things first. Let’s have dinner.

To twist someone’s arm — agree on something.

  • You should really come to the party tonight. Really? Okay, you’ve twisted my arm! You should definitely be at the party tonight. Yes? Okay, you convinced me.

To be up in the air — not sure yet; questionable.

  • I don’t know when I’m going on vacation this year, it is still up in the air. I don’t know when I will go on vacation this year, still in doubt.

To lose your touch — lose the ability to do something; lose your temper.

  • I don’t understand why I can’t touch typing anymore. I used to be so good at it. I have lost my touch. I don’t understand why I can’t touch type anymore, I used to be good at it. I have lost my skill.

To be on the fence — difficulty in making a decision; to be confused.

  • What do you like more white or black dress? I don’t know, I’m still on the fence about it. So, do you prefer white or black dress? I don’t know, I’m confused.

To kick the bucket It’s amazing how many euphemisms of death are in the Russian language. In English, the bucket is kicked.

  • I’m afraid Tom has kicked the bucket. I’m afraid Tom is dead.

To show someone the ropes — show how to do this or that job; to induct.

  • This is my first day here, if you could show me the ropes. It’s my first day here, please fill me in if you can.

A piece of cake is something very simple and effortless to make.

  • This exam was so much easier than I thought. It was a piece of cake. This exam was very simple, just spit.

Learn more idioms and learn how to use them in speech in our English language courses for teenagers!

Top 100 Most Important Idioms in English Movies

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20 leaf fall 2018

11 min. read


How many times in the English language did you have the same virazes, like when translating into the Ukrainian language just didn’t make a little sense? For example, singsongly, having heard the phrase “horse around”, we thought about the horse in front of us.

Really, the language was about kayaking. І such butts can be brought even richer. Similar verses are called idioms, and the English often speak them. Having memorized the most rosy of them, you will grow your language as beautiful and alive.

Later, let’s look at the idioms, which are most commonly used in English language. We divide them according to the topics.

Change of statistics:

  • About the weather
  • About pennies
  • About an hour
  • Pro beast
  • About zhu
  • Finishing part for


«When two Englishmen are talking together, it’s stink to start talking about the weather.» Tsey vislіv Samuel Jackson, what a wine having promoted a dekіlka to this, actual and poninі. It is not surprising that a part of the idiom is connected with the topic itself:

  • rain cats and dogs — pouring yak from the wind;
  • face like thunder
  • storm in a teacup — a storm near the sky water, a lot of noise from nothing;
  • chase rainbows — chase the unattainable;
  • lightning-fast — bliskavich;
  • have one’s head in the clouds
  • be snowed under
  • be under the weather — sickness;
  • twist in the wind
  • under a cloud – under suspicion;
  • as right as rain — in the first order;
  • for a rainy day
  • bolt from the blue
  • throw caution to the winds — stop being careful;
  • weather the storm — survive folding hours;
  • sail close to the wind — walk along the edge of the river;
  • on cloud nine
  • shoot the breeze
  • in a fog — destruction;
  • go down a storm

Read also: 50 most common English idioms


Hi, Mary! Let’s go to the restaurant today!
Hi, Tom! I am so sorry, but I am snowed under with work.
– Really? Are you OK?
— Do not worry, I am as right as rain .
– So, when will you be able to go for a walk with me?
— Hmm, I think that next week I will be free.
– OK, I will call you!
See you!
— Hello Mary! Let’s go to a restaurant today!
— Hello Tom! Unfortunately, I am mesmerized by robot .
— Really? Are you all right?
— Don’t worry, I’m in reverse order .
— So if you can take a walk with me?
— Hmm, I think I’ll be free in the coming day.
— Good, I’ll call you!
— To zustrіchi!

Read also

Diploma in English language


The topic is no less relevant, as it calls out interest — ce, obviously, pennies. It is recommended to get to know the most common «penny» idioms:

  • a piece of the pie — part;
  • gravy train — easy pennies;
  • bring home the bacon — take care of your family, achieve success;
  • make ends meet
  • hit the jackpot — hit the jackpot;
  • be in the red
  • make a bundle
  • bet your bottom dollar — guarantee be-scho;
  • look like a million dollars0015 — look at everything;
  • cost a pretty penny
  • go Dutch – pay your share;
  • nest egg — stash;
  • golden handshake
  • cheapskate — sknar;
  • be flush with money
  • at all costs
  • live beyond one’s means — live unpredictably up to your wealth;
  • break the bank
  • cost a fortune
  • on the breadline
Original Translation
Kate, our car is too old. Let’s buy a new one! How do you think?
Good idea! What car would you like?
I would prefer that one.
You must be joking! It costs a fortune !
Do not worry, I made a bundle by my last contract.
Nice, and I could share too. I have some nest egg .
So, I will go to the auto show tomorrow.
OK, I will join you there.
Keith, our car is too old. Let’s buy a new one! What do you think?
Not a bad idea. Would you like a car?
I would like qiu.
You, maybe, you’re hot! Won cost of cilium stock !
Don’t worry, I earned a bunch of pennies on the rest of the contract.  
Garazd, I could have added more. I have є small stash .
So tomorrow I’m going to a car dealership.
Good, I’ll come to you there.

An hour

“An hour is a penny”. Qiu to the command can often be felt among the English. Won podverdzhuє їkhnє nadzvichayno dbaylive setting until one o’clock. Not marno richly idiom dedicated to you:

  • once in a blue moon
  • behind the times — old;
  • time flies — hour to fly;
  • the big time
  • around the clock
  • dwell on the past
  • have the time of one’s life
  • crack of dawn
  • run out of time — run out of time;
  • in the blink of an eye
  • like clockwork — without interruption;
  • for donkey’s years — from time immemorial;
  • pressed for time — even hurry up;
  • give someone a hard time
  • be ahead of time
  • to have a whale of a time — have a wonderful hour;
  • go with the times — keep up with the hour;
  • on the spur of the moment
  • in broad daylight
  • catch unawares
Original Translation
Why are you so upset?
Oh, my boss has given me a hard time .
Why? Did you make anything wrong?
I ran out of time on my workday, so I could not finish a contract.
I think that everything will be OK. You are a key man.
I hope so!
Besides, you sometimes work there around the clock .  
Do you think that he will give me one more chance?
Of course, I’m sure.
Why are you so embarrassed?
Oh my boss reading me .
Why? Did you kill it wrong?
I not having entered for an hour on a robot, I could not complete the contract for that.
I think everything will be fine. You are an indispensable practitioner.
I’m succumbing!
In addition, you and others work colodobovo .
Do you think you’ll give me one more chance?
Zvichayno, I’m in the middle of it.


Least there are people more loving domestic creatures, lower English. That’s why the creatures occupy the honorable place not only in the donkeys of the English, but also in the language:

  • monkey business — headless robot;
  • smell a rat
  • top dog
  • cash cow
  • eager beaver
  • black sheep
  • elephant in the room
  • when pigs fly — the fox is in good health;
  • like a cat on a hot tin roof
  • in the doghouse
  • be as busy as a bee robiti yak vil;
  • let a cat out of the bag
  • horse around
  • as poor as a church mouse without a penny for the soul;
  • lion’s share of something — left part;
  • eat like a horse
  • have a tiger by the tail
  • hear it straight from the horse’s mouth
  • butterflies in the stomach neither alive nor dead;
  • like water off a duck’s back

Read also : Idiom about creatures

Original Translation
Mark, who do you think we should give some bonus for the previous month?
I don’t know. Who are the main candidates?
So, there are Lucy, Michael and Judy.
I think that Lucy works a lot, but she is a black sheep of the team.
Yes, I agree with you. What do you think about Michael?
It seems to me that he is an eager beaver .
But he is in the doghouse , is not he?
Yes, our boss does not like him. And what about Judy?
I like her. She is always as busy as a bee .
You’re right. She deserves our company’s bonus.
Mark, who do you think we should give the bonus for the rest of the month?
I don’t know. Who are the main contenders?
Father Lucy, Michael and Judy.
I think that Lucy is doing rich, ale won was a crow in command.
So, I’m good with you. What do you think about Michael?
I’m wondering what wine robot .
Ale vin out of favor , why not?
So, our boss doesn’t like yoga. And what about Judy’s rahunok?
I befits me. Won zavzhdi to work, yak bjola .
You are right. Won merit for company bonuses.


Do not marvel at those that English cuisine is not famous for its diversity, the number of idioms dedicated to Zha is not small. We present to you the most popular «savory» idioms:

  • egghead — socket;
  • big cheese
  • couch potato — non-robe;
  • tough cookie — bully;
  • top banana — leader;
  • bad apple
  • eat one’s words — take back your words;
  • the apple of one’s eye
  • hard nut to crack
  • in a nutshell short;
  • have egg on one’s face — look unreasonable;
  • as cool as a cucumber — cold-blooded;
  • be full of beans
  • as slow as molasses
  • chew the fat
  • sell like hot cakes
  • take something with a pinch of salt — do not trust;
  • bite off more than one can chew — overestimate your ability;
  • cry over spilt milk
  • hot potato — the topic is relevant.

Original Translation
Tom, who do you think may be in charge of this project?
I’m not sure, but I think that Jack will cope with it easily.
If I were you, I would not be so sure. Sometimes he is a coach potato
Yes, but last time he tried to solve a very big problem of the company.
I agree. However, I think that he bit off more than he could chew .
But he has great advantages. He is a very sociable and reliable person
Ok, I will think about his nomination.
Tom, what do you think, who can do this project?
I don’t mind, but I think it’s easy for Jack to run into him.

We hope that these idioms will help you improve your speech. And the speakers of our online English school are happy to sort out all the subtleties of your life with you.

Great is that friendly motherland EnglishDom



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English idioms: learning and applying



Idioms are interesting to learn because they not only enrich students’ vocabulary, but also reflect the culture and way of thinking of native speakers. The meaning of many idioms is different from their native language, which makes them especially funny. Usually they are introduced into the curriculum, starting from the intermediate + level. How to practice English idioms in a more varied and effective way, and then use them in speech? Let’s consider several ways.


An excellent way of presentation, as visual material is remembered better. These can be pictures that show idioms verbatim.
This method helps to remember the expression itself, but does not always illustrate its meaning.
You can also choose a picture that reflects the meaning of the phrase.
For example,
spill the beans = to tell somebody secret information

Pictures make it easy to organize practice in the current lesson and review vocabulary for the next lesson.

Marta Rosinska showed an example of an idiom reinforcement exercise at Macmillan Autumn School 2017. Illustrations are inserted instead of individual words and it is necessary to enter the corresponding words.

For example,

He is an _____ of my eye.


A test describing different situations with idioms will help to consolidate and control their assimilation. You can find a ready-made test or create it yourself, for example, this one.
The assignment can be organized using Kahoot, learningapps or Google forms. It can be used as homework, because all of the above sources have automatic verification.


There are many variants of games with idioms. Let’s take a look at some of them.

  1. Mime game.
    Students draw a card with idioms and their task is to show the meaning with gestures so that others can guess the expression. You can work in pairs or in a group if it is small.
  2. Bingo.
    Students write 5-6 expressions per line. Then the teacher reads out their interpretations and the student who has the required idiom on the list crosses it out. The winner must be the first to cross out all the words on the list and yell Bingo!
    In order to give a more active role to students, you can pre-print definitions for expressions on cards. They take turns pulling out a card and reading the definition.
  3. Idioms bluff
    The teacher prepares cards in advance with an example of a key phrase in context, its meaning, and two blank lines. The task of the students is to add incorrect definitions and test the partner(s).
    A development example for the Advanced level can be viewed here.
  4. Back to the board
    This game is more suitable for repetition. One of the students goes to the blackboard and stands with his back to it. The teacher writes the idiom on the board and the rest of the students give definitions, examples, synonyms, situations, without naming the word itself. The student at the blackboard must guess it.


Idioms are easier to remember when used in situations. You can ask students to write a short situation illustrating the meaning.

For example,
My friend lives in another city. We used to spend much time together when we were at school. I haven’t seen her for 2 years. I meet her only when I visit my relatives. So we see each other…. once in a blue moon.
If you are working in a group, students can read situations, pause before saying an idiom. The partner’s task is to guess the expression.

Dialogues and discussions

The next step in the work is to “put the idioms into speech”. For this, acting out dialogues in pairs or discussing questions is suitable. Questions can be structured in such a way that they involve the use of new words in the answer.

For example,
T: Have you ever been deceived?
S: Yes, my ex-partner put wool over my eyes….
T: What things would you never like doing ?
S: I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a short skirt.

By alexxlab

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