Idioms are groups of words that have a different meaning together than they would have individually.


Idioms are expressions whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of their constituent elements.

I have chosen only a small number of often used idioms, but keep your eye on this page (keep watching) I am adding more idioms frequently.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (it is better to have something certain than to risk it for something that is not certain)

Actions speak louder than words (What you do is more important than what you promise to do) I know you are promising to pay me back the money, but actions speak louder than words.

All thumbs (Refers to being clumsy) I have been trying to fix this for an hour and I can’t. I’m all thumbs.

A picture is worth a thousand words (the story that you can see in one picture will take many words to explain) Newspapers like to show pictures with their stories because a picture is worth a thousand words.

A taste of his/her own medicine (refers to someone receiving the unpleasant actions that they have been giving to others) He’s been so rude to everyone. I bet he wouldn’t like a taste of his own medicine.

Back-seat driver (not necessarily in relation to driving but is someone who gives advice that is unwanted, unneeded and unappreciated) I know how to get there, stop being a back-seat driver.

Banging your head against the wall (Frustrated because you are being prevented from accomplishing something) I asked all my friends to help me paint my apartment but I was banging my head against the wall.

Beating around the bush (Get to the point of the conversation and stop talking in an indirect manner) Please tell me the purpose of this call and stop beating around the bush.

Birds of a feather flock together (Refers to people with similar likes, desires or habits tend to spend time together) John’s friends are all gamblers and you know what they say, birds of a feather flock together. (meaning that John likes to gamble too)

Bite off more than he can chew (Decide to do something that is beyond what they can do) Bob shouldn’t have taken on all that extra work to make more money, I think he’s biting off more than he can chew.

Black sheep of the family (member of a family that is different from the others) His family is very athletic but he’s so clumsy he must be the black sheep of the family.

Broken home (a family where the parents have separated or divorced) Jane’s parents are divorced and she is blaming all her problems on coming from a broken home.

Call the Shots (make all the important decisions) Mr. Jones, the area supervisor, calls the shots here.

Cost an arm and a leg (Very expensive) I’d love to go visit them but they live so far away it’s going to cost an arm and a leg.

Drink like a fish (usually refers to drinking alcohol and means can drink a lot) I’m concerned that Bob has a serious problem. He drinks like a fish.

Get down to brass tacks (let’s start working on what is important) We have to finish this proposal by tomorrow, we better get down to brass tacks.

Have your cake and eat it too (deals with the impossibility of having something both ways when those ways are in conflict with each other) Tom always wanted a cottage and now he is so busy at work that he can’t enjoy his new cottage. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Judge a book by its cover (you don’t know much about someone or something like just by looking) Just because his shirt is ripped it doesn’t mean he is poor, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Let the cat out of the bag (Tell someone something that was a secret) I told you something in private, and now everyone knows. Why did you let the cat out of the bag?

On the blink (Not working properly) My computer was on the blink, so I took it to be repaired.

Once in a blue moon (Not very often) My cousin doesn’t visit very often so I only see her once in a blue moon.

Over my dead body (you dislike something and will do all you can to prevent it from happening) I don’t like your attitude and you’re only going to go out with my daughter over my dead body. (not usually to be taken literally)

Piece of cake (something that is very easy to do) You might think that exam was difficult, but I thought it was a piece of cake.

Pick someone’s brains (get information from someone) If you’re having problems with your car, pick Bill’s brains, he’s a mechanic.

Raining cats and dogs (raining very heavily) I would rather not go outside, it’s raining cats and dogs.

You can say that again (Said by someone who agrees with what has just been said) “It really is cold tonight. You can say that again.”

Tomorrow’s another day (Usually said to encourage someone that’s had problems) I know a lot of things have gone wrong today, but don’t worry, tomorrow’s another day.

Two heads are better than one (We are more likely to find the answer to the question if two of us are working on it instead of just one of us) I’ve been trying to think of the answer but maybe you can help me, after all, two heads are better than one.

For an excellent source of idioms

For an extensive list of idioms follow this link.

Idiom Quiz

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