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A Complete List of 500 Popular Idioms with Definition & Examples

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Idioms are an integral part of any language, and English is no exception. These phrases, which cannot be understood literally, add color and nuance to our communication and often have a cultural or historical significance.

In this article, we will look at a list of 100 popular idioms in English, along with example sentences showing how they are used in context. Whether you are a native English speaker or learning the language, these idioms will help you expand your vocabulary and understand everyday expressions more fully. So let’s get started!

What Is An Idiom?

Idiom Definition

An idiom is a common word or phrase which means something different from its literal meaning but can be understood because of their popular use.

Idioms are not the same thing as slang. Idioms are made of normal words that have a special meaning known to almost everyone. Slang is usually special words or special meanings of normal words that are known only to a particular group of people.

Take some examples of idioms to understand more what it is. “Break a leg” – This is a way to wish someone good luck. “To shed crocodile tears” means to cry about something but without actually caring or another example is “It’s raining cats and dogs” means it’s raining heavily.

Importance of Learning Idioms

So why should you invest the time and effort in learning idioms? For native English speakers, idioms are an integral part of the language and are used frequently in conversation and media. Understanding idioms will help you communicate more effectively and understand the meaning of what others are saying.

For English learners, idioms can be especially challenging, as they often do not translate directly from one language to another. However, mastering idioms is essential for becoming proficient in English and being able to communicate naturally with native speakers.

English Idioms List


Idiom List from A-C

  • A blessing in disguise: Seems bad, but is actually good
  • A cat has nine lives: Cats seem to get away with dangerous things
  • A cat nap: A short sleep during the day
  • A chip on your shoulder: A tendency to be easily annoyed or angered, especially over petty issues.
  • A clean slate: A new beginning, with no mistakes or errors.
  • A closed book: To be difficult to know or understand
  • A dark horse: Someone who is not well known but has the potential to be successful.
  • A dime a dozen: Something that is very common or easy to find.
  • A drop in the bucket: A very small or unimportant amount.
  • A feather in your cap: An achievement or accomplishment that is a source of pride.
  • A fish out of water: Someone who is in a situation where they are not comfortable or competent.
  • A flash in the pan: Something that is briefly successful but does not last.
  • A foot in the door: An initial advantage or opportunity that can lead to something more.
  • A gem of a person: Someone who is valuable or precious.
  • A handful: Someone or something that is difficult to manage or control.
  • A leopard can’t change its spots: People cannot change their basic nature.
  • A penny saved is a penny earned: You will save money by being careful about how much you spend
  • A piece of cake: Easy
  • A scaredy-cat: Someone who is excessively scared or afraid.
  • A sight for sore eyes: Something or someone that is very welcome or pleasing to see.
  • A taste of your own medicine: To experience the same thing that you have done to others.
  • Ace in the hole: A secret advantage or resource that can be used in a pinch.
  • Ace up your sleeve: A secret advantage or resource that can be used when needed.
  • Add fuel to the fire: To make a situation worse or more intense.
  • Add insult to injury: To make a bad situation worse by saying or doing something hurtful or thoughtless.
  • Against all odds: Despite difficulties or challenges.
  • Against the clock: Working as fast as possible to meet a deadline.
  • Ahead of the curve: Ahead of others in terms of knowledge or progress.
  • Air rage: Angry behavior inside an airplane
  • Air your dirty laundry: To publicly reveal or discuss private or embarrassing information about someone or something.
  • Alive and kicking: Still alive and active.
  • All bark and no bite: Someone who talks a lot but doesn’t actually do anything.
  • All bets are off: The rules or expectations are no longer in place.
  • All ears: Listening attentively.
  • All in a day’s work: Something that is routine or expected.
  • All in a tizzy: Confused or agitated.)
  • All of a sudden: Suddenly, without warning.
  • All systems go: Everything is ready to start.
  • All thumbs: Clumsy, awkward.
  • An arm and a leg: Something that is very expensive.
  • An eye for an eye: The idea that when someone does something wrong to you, you should do something wrong to them in return.
  • Apple of my eye: Someone who is very dear to you.
  • As easy as pie: Something that is very easy to do.
  • As fit as a fiddle: To be healthy and physically fit
  • At the drop of a hat: Without hesitation, immediately.
  • Back to square one: starting something over from the beginning
  • Baker’s dozen: 13 of something
  • Ball is in your court: it is your turn to take action or make a decision
  • Barking up the wrong tree: pursuing the wrong course of action
  • Barrel of laugh: Someone who is very funny
  • Beating around the bush: Not discussing what is important/ procrastinating
  • Bend over backwards: make a lot of effort
  • Bent out of shape: To feel upset or annoyed about something
  • Big task on your hand: Having something important to finish
  • Bite off more than you can chew: take on more than you can handle
  • Bite the bullet: to face something difficult or unpleasant
  • Blow one’s stack: To lose one’s temper and explode in anger
  • Break a leg: Good luck
  • Bring home the bacon: provide for one’s family financially
  • Bull in a china shop: someone who is clumsy or careless and causes damage or destruction
  • Burn the midnight oil: work late into the night
  • Butter someone up: flatter someone in order to get something from them
  • Buy a lemon: To buy something that doesn’t work well (usually refers to care)
  • Buy a pig in a poke: purchase something without knowing all the details or facts
  • By the skin of your teeth: barely, narrowly
  • Cakewalk: something that is very easy
  • Calm before the storm: a period of quiet or tranquility before a difficult or tumultuous event
  • Can’t stand (something): To dislike something
  • Cast pearls before swine: offer something valuable to someone who does not appreciate it
  • Cat on a hot in roof: Be extremely nervous
  • Cat out of the bag: reveal a secret
  • Chalk up: attribute to
  • Change your tune: Change your opinion about something or someone
  • Chase rainbows: pursue something that is unattainable
  • Cheap as dirt: very inexpensive
  • Chicken out: to back out of something due to fear or lack of courage
  • Chip on your shoulder: a tendency to be angry or resentful over something
  • Chuck a wobbly: To act in an emotional way
  • Clean bill of health: A report or certificate that a person or animal is healthy
  • Close but no cigar: Close but failed at the end
  • Cold shoulder: to ignore or reject someone
  • Cook the books: To change accounts and figures dishonestly, usually to get money
  • Cool as a cucumber: Very calm, not nervous
  • Cool cat: Someone who has the respect of their peers in a young, casual way
  • Couch potato: Someone who lies around and barely moves
  • Cream of the crop: The best of a group of similar things or people
  • Crocodile tears: Fake tears or false sadness
  • Cry crocodile tears: to feign sadness or remorse
  • Cry foul: to protest or complain about something being unfair
  • Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war: a quote from Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar,” meaning to create chaos and start a war
  • Cry havoc: create chaos or confusion
  • Cry one’s eyes out: Cry a lot and for a long time
  • Cry over spilt milk: Complain about something that cannot be changed
  • Cry uncle: give up, admit defeat
  • Cry wolf: to raise a false alarm
  • Cry your eyes out: to be extremely sad
  • Curiosity killed the cat: Being too curious can get you into trouble
  • Curry favor: try to gain favor or support from someone
  • Cut and dry: straightforward, no room for debate
  • Cut the mustard: to meet the required standards or expectations
  • Cut to the chase: get to the point

Idiom List from D-F

  • Damp squib: a failure or disappointment.
  • Dark horse: a person who is not well-known but has the potential to be successful.
  • Dead in the water: not making progress or not able to be completed.
  • Dead to the world: deeply asleep or unconscious.
  • Devil’s advocate: someone who takes a contrary position or argues against a belief or proposition just for the sake of an argument.
  • Diamond in the rough: someone or something with potential or talent that is not yet fully developed or recognized.
  • Die is cast: a decision has been made and cannot be changed.
  • Dim the lights: to reduce the brightness of the lights.
  • Dime a dozen: Very common and no special value; easily available
  • Dinner and a show: an event or outing that combines a meal with entertainment.
  • Dip your toe in the water: to try something new or test the waters before fully committing to it.
  • Dog days of summer: The hottest, most humid days of summer
  • Don’t swear it: Don’t worry about it
  • Down in the dumps: Depressed, sad
  • Draw a blank: Be unable to remember something
  • Dressed to the nines: Dressed fashionably
  • Drive a hard bargain: To arrange a transaction so that it benefits oneself
  • Drive someone up the wall: Deeply irritate someone
  • Driving me bananas: Making me feel crazy
  • Each to their own: a way of saying that everyone has different opinions and preferences and that is okay.
  • Early bird gets the worm: the person who arrives or takes action early has an advantage.
  • Ears are burning: a feeling that someone is talking about you or that you are the topic of conversation.
  • Easier said than done: Easy to say, but hard to actually do
  • Easy as pie: something that is very easy to do.
  • Eat crow: To have to admit that you made a mistake
  • Eat your heart out: to feel jealous or envious of someone or something.
  • Egg on: to encourage or incite someone to do something.
  • Elbow grease: hard physical work or effort.
  • End of the road: the end or conclusion of something.
  • Even a cat can look at a king/queen: I have every right to do this
  • Every cloud has a silver lining: there is a positive aspect to every negative situation.
  • Everyone’s cup of tea: something that is enjoyed by everyone or suitable for everyone.
  • Face like a wet week-end: Look sad and miserable
  • Face the music: to accept the consequences of one’s actions.
  • Fair weather friend: a person who is only a friend during good times and not during difficult times.
  • Falling on deaf ears: not being listened to or paid attention to.
  • Fat cat: A negative description of a rich and powerful person
  • Feast or famine: a situation that alternates between having too much of something and having too little of it.
  • Feeling under the weather: not feeling well or sick.
  • Few and far between: not frequent or common.
  • Fiddle while Rome burns: to be indifferent or do something trivial while something important is happening.
  • Fifth wheel: an unnecessary or extra person in a group.
  • Fight like cat and dog: Continually arguing with each other
  • Fit as a fiddle: in good health.
  • Fly by the seat of your pants: to act on impulse or without a plan.
Related  Head Over Heels: Definition, Useful Examples & Synonyms List

Idiom List from G-I

  • Get a leg up: to gain an advantage or opportunity.
  • Get cold feet: to become nervous or hesitant about something.
  • Get out of town: I don’t believe you
  • Get over it: Forget about the past
  • Get up on the wrong side of the bed: Someone that is having a horrible day
  • Get your ducks in a row: to get organized or prepared.
  • Get your hands dirty: to do practical or hard work.
  • Give a cold shoulder: to ignore or be unfriendly to someone.
  • Give an inch, take a mile: if someone is allowed to have or do something small, they will take advantage and want more.
  • Go back to the drawing board: to start something again because the previous attempt was not successful.
  • Go out on a limb: to take a risk or do something that may be dangerous.
  • Go under the knife: To have an operation in surgery, often a cosmetic surgery
  • Gone off track: Forgot about your future goal
  • Good things come to those who wait: good things will happen to those who are patient and persistent.
  • Goody two shoes: Someone who tries to be perfect
  • Grab the bull by the horns: to confront a problem or challenge directly.
  • Green thumb: Grow lush without trying
  • Green with envy: Very jealous
  • Hair of the dog: a drink that is supposed to cure a hangover.
  • Hands are tied: unable to do anything to help or change a situation.
  • Hands down: For certain the right answer
  • Hang on a second: Wait for a moment
  • Happy as a clam: very happy or content.
  • Harm’s way: in a dangerous or risky situation.
  • Have a bone to pick: to have a disagreement or complaint to discuss with someone.
  • Have an ace up your sleeve: to have a secret advantage or plan.
  • Have stumbled upon: To accidentally discover something
  • Have your head in the clouds: to be unrealistic or not paying attention to the present.
  • Head over heels: very much in love or infatuated.
  • Heart is set on: to really want or desire something.
  • Hit the hay: Go to bed
  • Hit the road: To leave
  • Hold your horses: Wait/ calm down
  • I have butterflies in my stomach: You’re either in love or nervous
  • I was knocked on my heels: I was surprised
  • Icing on the cake: something that makes a good situation even better.
  • In a nutshell: in a few words or briefly.
  • In a pickle: in a difficult or awkward situation.
  • In a rut: in a repetitive or boring situation.
  • In hot water: in trouble or in a difficult situation.
  • In the bag: Will definitely happen
  • In the black: to be financially successful or profitable.
  • In the heat of the moment: in the midst of a strong emotion or excitement.
  • In the know: having insider information or being well-informed.
  • In the same boat: in a similar situation or experiencing the same difficulties.
  • Inside scoop: The details

Idiom List from J-L

  • Jumping the gun: to do something too soon or before it is appropriate.
  • Jumping out of your skin: to be very surprised or shocked.
  • Just what the doctor ordered: exactly what is needed or wanted.
  • Just between you and me: said when you want to tell someone something privately.
  • Just the ticket: exactly what is needed or wanted.
  • Jekyll and Hyde: a person who has a dual personality, one good and one evil.
  • Join the club: to be in the same situation as someone else.
  • Jumping through hoops: doing a lot of hard work or going through a lot of effort.
  • Jumping on the bandwagon: joining in on something that is popular or fashionable.
  • Just a drop in the bucket: a small amount compared to the whole.
  • Landslide victory: a win by a large margin.
  • Last but not least: used to introduce the final item in a list.
  • Last straw: the final problem or burden that causes someone to break or give up.
  • Laughing all the way to the bank: being very successful or profitable.
  • Laughing on the outside, crying on the inside: pretending to be happy but feeling sad or distressed.
  • Leaps and bounds: making a lot of progress or improvement.
  • Let bygones be bygones: to forget about past conflicts or mistakes and move on.
  • Let the cat out of the bag: to reveal a secret unintentionally.
  • Let your hair down: to relax and have fun.
  • Life is just a bowl of cherries: The life is pleasant and uncomplicated
  • Like a dog with two tails: Extremely happy

Idiom List from M-O

  • Mad as a hatter: Mentally ill, psychotic
  • Mad as a hornet: very angry.
  • Make a beeline for: to go straight to a specific place or person.
  • Make a clean breast of it: to confess or admit to something.
  • Make a mountain out of a molehill: to make a small problem seem much bigger than it is.
  • Make a splash: to attract a lot of attention or make an impact.
  • Make hay while the sun shines: to make the most of a good opportunity while it is available.
  • Make the most of: to use something to the fullest advantage.
  • Making ends meet: having just enough money to pay for basic expenses.
  • Meeting of the minds: Strong instinctive agreement on something
  • Miss the boat: to miss an opportunity or not arrive in time.
  • Mum’s the word: to keep something a secret.
  • Nail on the head: to be exactly right or accurate.
  • Name in lights: to be very famous or successful.
  • Nature of the beast: an inherent quality that cannot be changed.
  • Narrow escape: barely avoiding a problem or danger.
  • Neck and neck: tied or evenly matched.
  • Neck of the woods: a particular area or location.
  • Needle in a haystack: something that is difficult to find or locate.
  • Nest egg: a sum of money saved for a specific purpose.
  • New blood: new people or fresh ideas.
  • New kid on the block: a newcomer or someone who is not experienced.
  • New lease on life: a new opportunity or a renewed sense of energy and purpose.
  • Next to nothing: almost nothing or a very small amount.
  • Night owl: a person who stays up late and is active at night.
  • Nine lives: to have a lot of luck or be able to survive difficult situations.
  • Nip and tuck: very close or evenly matched.
  • Nip in the bud: to stop something before it becomes a bigger problem.
  • No brainer: an obvious decision or choice.
  • No holds barred: unrestricted or uncontrolled.
  • No love lost: to have no affection or respect for someone.
  • No room to swing a cat: Very small, not big enough
  • No skin off my nose: something that does not affect or concern someone.
  • No stone unturned: to leave no possibility unexplored.
  • Nose to the grindstone: working hard and consistently.
  • Not all it’s cracked up to be: not as good as it is claimed to be.
  • Not cut out for: not suited or qualified for something.
  • Not in the same league: not as good or competent as someone else.
  • Not miss a beat: to not miss an opportunity or not show any signs of slowing down.
  • Not my cup of tea: not something that someone enjoys or is interested in.
  • Not playing with a full deck: not being mentally capable or sane.
  • Not the sharpest tool in the shed: not the most intelligent or perceptive person.
  • Not up to snuff: not meeting the required standard or expectations.
  • Not worth the paper it’s written on: not worth considering or valuable.
  • Nowhere to be found: not able to be located.
  • No-win situation: a situation where there is no possibility of success.
  • Nutty as a fruit cake: Someone who is a bit crazy
  • Oddball: A weirdo or a strange person
  • Off one’s rocker: Crazy, nuts, insane
  • Off the beaten path: in a less traveled or usual place.
  • Off the cuff: without preparation or thought.
  • Off the hook: no longer responsible or accountable for something.
  • Off the record: not meant to be shared or repeated.
  • Off the top of your head: without thinking or hesitation.
  • On cloud nine: Blissfully happy
  • On the ball: Prepared, alert, competent
  • On the fence: Undecided between two choices
  • On the ropes: in a difficult or disadvantaged position.
  • On the same page: in agreement or understanding.
  • On the spot: to be required to do something immediately or to be placed in an embarrassing or difficult situation.
  • On the verge of: close to achieving or experiencing something.
  • On thin ice: in a risky or precarious situation.
  • On your high horse: Superior or arrogant position
  • Once bitten twice shy: Said when you are frightened to do something again because you had an unpleasant experience doing it the first time
  • Once in a blue moon: very rarely or almost never.
  • Out of left field: unexpected or unrelated.
  • Out of sorts: Slightly ill, not feeling well
  • Out of the frying pan and into the fire: moving from one difficult situation to another.
  • Over the hill/ Old as the hill: Someone who is very old
  • Out of pocket: not available or unable to be reached.
  • Out of the woods: out of a difficult or dangerous situation.
  • Over the top: excessive or exaggerated.
  • Oxygen thief: a person who takes up more than their share of resources or attention.
  • Out of the ordinary: unusual or unexpected.
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Idiom List from P-R

  • Packed to the rafters: very crowded or full.
  • Paddle one’s own canoe: To be able to act independently
  • Paint the town red: to have a wild and fun time.
  • Pass the buck: to avoid responsibility or blame by shifting it to someone else.
  • Pass with flying colors: to succeed or do very well.
  • Passing fancy: A temporary interest or attraction
  • Peanut gallery: a group of people who criticize or offer unwanted advice.
  • Peas in the pod: People who are close
  • Penny pincher: a person who is very thrifty or cheap.
  • Perfect storm: a rare and powerful combination of events or factors.
  • Pie in the sky: Something you hope will happen, but is very likely
  • Piggy bank: a container used to save money.
  • Pile it on: to add or do more than necessary.
  • Pillar of the community: a respected and influential member of a community.
  • Play your cards close to your chest: to keep your plans or intentions secret.
  • Play your cards right: to do something in the most advantageous way.
  • Point with pride: to be proud of something.
  • Poke your nose into: to intrude or interfere in something.
  • Pop the question: to propose marriage.
  • Pull out all the stops: to use all available resources or do everything possible.
  • Pull the plug: to end or cancel something.
  • Pull the wool over someone’s eyes: to deceive or mislead someone.
  • Pull your weight: to contribute equally to a group effort.
  • Punch above your weight: to perform or succeed beyond what is expected or typical.
  • Push the envelope: to challenge or test the limits.
  • Put the cart before the horse: To do things out of the proper order
  • Put two and two together: to understand or figure out something from the available information.
  • Put your foot in your mouth: to say something inappropriate or embarrassing.
  • Put your money where your mouth is: to prove your commitment or belief through action.
  • Put your nose to the grindstone: to work hard and consistently.
  • Quick on the draw: able to react quickly or make decisions quickly.
  • Quit cold turkey: to stop something abruptly and completely.
  • Queer the pitch: to ruin or spoil something.
  • Question mark: a person or thing that is uncertain or unknown.
  • Quid pro quo: a favor or advantage given in return for something.
  • Rain cats and dogs: Rain very heavily
  • Rain check: to postpone or reschedule something for a later time.
  • Raise the bar: to set a higher standard or expectation.
  • Red herring: something that distracts or misleads from the main issue.
  • Ride shotgun: to sit in the front passenger seat of a vehicle.
  • Right as rain: in good health or working correctly.
  • Ring a bell: to be familiar or remind someone of something.
  • Rise and shine: to wake up and start the day.
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day: a project or task will take time to complete.
  • Rub the wrong way: to annoy or irritate someone.
  • Rule of thumb: a general guideline or principle.

Idiom List from S-U

  • Seeing is believing: you need to experience something to truly believe it
  • Sell like hotcakes: to sell quickly or in large quantities
  • Sell oneself short: to underestimate one’s own abilities or worth
  • Shake a leg: to hurry up or move quickly
  • Shape up or ship out: to improve one’s performance or face being fired
  • Shoot for the moon: to aim for an ambitious goal
  • Shoot the breeze: to have a casual conversation
  • Show one’s true colors: to reveal one’s true nature or character
  • Sitting on the fence: to remain neutral or indecisive
  • Skin of one’s teeth: by a very narrow margin
  • Smart cookie: A person who is very intelligent
  • Smell a rat: to suspect something is wrong
  • Sowing one’s wild oats: to engage in youthful misbehavior or recklessness
  • Spill the beans: to reveal a secret
  • Spinning one’s wheels: to make no progress
  • Spit it out: Say what you’re trying to say
  • Stand on ceremony: to adhere to formal etiquette or protocol
  • Stick in one’s craw: to irritate or annoy someone
  • Stick one’s nose in: to intrude or interfere where not wanted
  • Stick to one’s guns: to remain firm in one’s beliefs or actions
  • Still waters run deep: a person who is quiet and unassuming may have hidden depths
  • Straight from the horse’s mouth: information received directly from the source
  • Swing for the fences: to make a bold, all-out effort to achieve something
  • Sweating bullets: to be extremely nervous or anxious
  • Swimming against the tide: to act in opposition to the majority or the norm
  • Sweeten the pot: to make an offer more attractive or enticing
  • Take for a ride: to cheat or deceive someone
  • Take it easy: Don’t hurry, relax, don’t get angry
  • Take it with a grain of salt: to not take something too seriously or to view it with skepticism
  • Take the bull by the horns: to face a problem or challenge head-on
  • Take the cake: to be the best or most impressive of its kind
  • Take the plunge: to take a risk or make a big commitment
  • Take the wind out of one’s sails: to dampen or discourage someone’s enthusiasm or confidence
  • Talk the talk: to speak confidently or knowledgably about a subject
  • Taste of one’s own medicine: to experience something that one has inflicted on others
  • Tears of a clown: to hide one’s true emotions behind a facade of cheerfulness
  • The ball is in your court: it’s now the other person’s turn to act or make a decision
  • The whole nine yards: everything that is possible or needed
  • The writing is on the wall: an indication of an impending event or outcome
  • Third time’s the charm: success may be achieved after two previous failures
  • Through the grapevine: The informal spreading, gossip, or rumors
  • Throw in the towel: to give up or quit
  • Throw under the bus: to sacrifice or betray someone for one’s own benefit
  • Tie the knot: To get married
  • Tip of the iceberg: only a small portion of something much larger
  • To kill 2 birds with 1 stone: To solve 2 problems at once with 1 action.
  • Toe the line: to conform to a rule or standard
  • Top banana: A boss
  • Touch and go: uncertain or risky
  • Turn over a new leaf: to reform oneself and make a fresh start
  • Under the impression: Believing something, perhaps mistakenly
  • Uncharted territory: a situation or area that is unfamiliar or not well-known.
  • Under the gun: under pressure or in a difficult situation.
  • Under wraps: kept secret or hidden.
  • Up for grabs: available to be taken or won.
  • Up in arms: angry and protesting.
  • Up the ante: to increase the stakes or level of competition.
  • Up to par: meeting the expected or required standards.
  • Uphill battle: a struggle that is difficult to win.
  • Use your head: to think before acting.
Related  What Does The Useful Idiom "On The Same Page" Mean?

Idiom List from V-Z

  • Vanquish the enemy: to defeat or overcome an opponent.
  • Venture into unknown territory: to try something new and uncertain.
  • Venture off the beaten path: to take a different and less-traveled route.
  • Vested interest: a specific stake or involvement in something.
  • Vexed to no end: extremely annoyed or frustrated.
  • Vicious cycle: a pattern of behavior that repeats itself and causes more harm than good.
  • Voice of reason: someone who is rational and provides good advice.
  • Vying for attention: competing for recognition or acknowledgment.
  • Yarn-spinning: tell a tall tale or story that is not true.
  • Yearning for: having a strong desire for something
  • Yellow-bellied: refers to a coward or a person who is afraid to take action.
  • You can’t have your cake and eat it too: You can’t have it all. if you want something you have to give up something else.
  • You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs: you can’t achieve a goal without facing some challenges or sacrifices along the way.
  • You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours: a reciprocal agreement to help or benefit each other.
  • Young at heart: Having a youthful outlook, regardless of age
  • Your heart sinks: Feel very unhappy and despondent
  • You’re in hot water: you’re in trouble or in a difficult situation
  • You’re on thin ice: You are in a dangerous or risky situation
  • You’ve met your match: you’ve come across someone who is your equal in terms of skill, ability, or determination.

Idiom Examples Sentences

Here is the list of popular idioms with example sentences to help you understand more the meaning of each idiom.

Hit the hay

  • It’s late, so I guess I hit the hay.

Tie the knot

  • I wish you to tie the knot, a harmonious union lasting a hundred years! A happy newlywed, sweet sweet honey!

Eat crow

  • Our neighbor had to eat crow yesterday.

Bent out of shape

  • My bicycle wheel has got bent out of shape.

Pie in the sky

  • Their plans to set up their own business are just pie in the sky.

A bad egg

  • That guy is a bad egg.

A drop in the bucket

  • This business is just a drop in the bucket of what he owns.

Couch potato

  • You are such a couch potato on weekends.

To kill two birds with one stone

  • We always emphasize to kill two birds with one stone. When we learn English we must make more use of it.

Break a leg

  • I just wanted to drop you a note to say break a leg and all those other theatrical cliches.

Spit it out

  • Spit it out! Have you lost your tongue?

I have butterflies in my stomach

  • I had butterflies in my stomach as I went to get my exam results.

Get up on the wrong side of the bed

  • Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed?

A blessing in disguise

  • His illness became a blessing in disguise, when he married his nurse.

A piece of cake

  • The exam paper was a piece of cake.

Beating around the bush

  • She snapped, blushing, and impatient with his beating around the bush.

Easier said than done

  • This is easier said than done in white light but it’s well worth trying.

Get out of town

  • I just wanted to open the throttle, get out of town and try to recapture some of that Misano magic.

Get over it

  • He’ll get over it—young people are amazingly resilient.

Hands down

  • He smacked his hands down on his knees.

Hang on a second

  • Hang on a second—I’ll just take off my painting things .

Have stumbled upon

  • I felt very privileged to have stumbled upon such a rare sight.

Hold your horses

  • Just hold your horses, Bill! Let’s think about this for a moment.

In the bag

  • He reaches in the bag and starts to throw his bread upon the waters.

Under the weather

  • You look a bit under the weather.

Through the grapevine

  • I had heard through the grapevine that he was quite critical of what we were doing.

On your high horse

  • Don’t get on your high horse with me.

As cool as a cucumber

  • She looks efficient and as cool as a cucumber.

Crocodile tears

  • They weep crocodile tears for the poor, but are basically happy with things as they are.

Smart cookie

  • Monroe herself, of course, was a smart cookie, but she knew enough to play dumb.

On cloud nine

  • He will be on cloud nine when he gets some complimentary words.

Green with envy

  • He was green with envy when he saw my new Jaguar car.

Dog days of summer

  • Three dog days of summer, the grass behind the monastery had a large brown.

Dressed to the nines

  • The girl is always dressed to the nines.

Top banana

  • He lost a good opportunity to become top banana.


  • He has always been an oddball.

Over the hill/ Old as the hill

  • He is over the hill as a professional athlete.

Nutty as a fruit cake

  • London is a bit more of a problem, and you may think that I am a trifled confused, or even as nutty as a fruit cake, since it is New York which is colloquially known as ” the Big Apple “.

Like a dog with two tails

  • The old lady was like a dog with two tails when her son and his wife came home from Australia with the grandchildren she ‘ s never seen before

Your heart sinks

  • It’s so loud you can’t hear your heart sink.

Dime a dozen

  • If only cookbooks by chefs really were a dime a dozen.

Change your tune

  • Does this report mean you are changing your tune?

As fit as a fiddle

  • The next day, the cat was almost as fit as a fiddle, the vet reported.

Clean bill of health

  • Doctors continue to give all the siblings a clean bill of health.

Go under the knife

  • The next day, the Winston Cup driver will go under the knife.

Green thumb

  • They make a fun crop for the little green thumbs in your family.

In the same boat

  • There were a lot of them who were in the same boat.

Paddle one’s own canoe

  • To paddle one’s own canoe doesn’t necessarily mean denying any external assistance.

Put the cart before the horse

  • You will put the cart before the horse if you emphasize the method at the expense of content.

Drive a hard bargain

  • His ability to drive a hard bargain has often brought conflict.

Hit the road

  • He hooked up and hit the road again.

Fight like cats and dogs

  • As kids, we used to fight like cats and dogs.

Fat cat

  • The report criticized boardroom fat cats who award themselves huge pay increases.

Curiosity killed the cat

  • Please stop prying into my private life. Remember, curiosity killed the cat.

No room to swing a cat

  • This bus is too crowded! I have no room to swing a cat!

A cat nap

  • We told the men to go home when the rain slacked off and take a cat nap.

Rain cats and dogs

  • In the middle of the picnic, it started to rain cats and dogs, and everybody got soaked.

A scaredy-cat

  • I happen to be a scaredy-cat.

Cool cat

  • That Jefferson is one cool cat.

A cat has nine lives

  • The modern belief that a cat has nine lives comes from this tradition.

Meeting of the minds

  • Einstein died before this strange meeting of the minds could take place.

Under the impression

  • I was under the impression you didn’t get on too well.

Out of sorts

  • She’s been out of sorts since the birth of her baby.

Young at heart

  • Dad might be nearly ninety but he’s still young at heart.

Take it easy

  • Take it easy. You’re no spring chicken yourself, you know.

Passing fancy

  • People must always be clothed, and machines are not a passing fancy – they are here to stay.

On the ball

  • I was lucky to get a bat on the ball there.

On the fence

  • I was just sitting on the fence, waiting to see what happened.

Mad as a hatter

  • Some purportedly went insane because of the exposure, leading to the expression “mad as a hatter.”

Draw a blank

  • They drew a blank in their search for the driver.

Down in the dumps

  • We can’t have you down in the dumps like this.

Air rage

  • Cabin crews are reporting up to nine cases of air rage a week.

A closed book

  •  I’m afraid physics will always be a closed book to me.

Cook the books

  • Fudge the figures; cook the books; falsify the data.

English Idioms | Infographic


English Study Online

Janie Mallory

Friday 31st of May 2024

Great list. I give my grandkids one idiom per week and require a definition and use it in a sentence.

Alexander Ajlani

Sunday 15th of January 2023

Very popular idioms , thanks for the hard work


Tuesday 13th of December 2022

Aesome and very Unique.


Sunday 27th of March 2022

I like studying English language, especially regular and irregular verbs. 📚😷


Tuesday 2nd of November 2021

Beating around the bush I will not discussing about what is something important.