An idiom is a phrase that has a special meaning as a whole. The meaning of an idiom is different from the meanings of its separate words.

Examples: It was raining cats and dogs.

The idiom raining cats and dogs does not mean that cats and dogs were falling out of the sky! It means “raining heavily”.

I put my foot in my mouth today.

The idiom put my foot in my mouth means “to say the wrong thing”.

Sometimes the context in which an idiom is used can give a hint of its meaning.


Example: Jeff is talking through his hat when he says that he can spell every word in the English language.

This idiom clearly means that Jeff cannot possibly spell every word in the English language.

Hence, the idiom talking through his hat means talking nonsense

More examples of idioms in the English language











Common idiomatic expressions and sayings

  1. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

– Having something that is certain is much better than taking a risk for more, because chances are you might lose everything.

  1. A fool and his money are easily parted.

– It’s easy for a foolish person to lose his/her money.

  1. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

– Everyone involved must unify and function together or it will not work out.

  1. A leopard can’t change his spots.

– You cannot change who you are.

  1. A penny save is a penny earned.

– By not spending money you are saving money (little by little).

  1. A picture paints a thousand words.

– A visual presentation is far more descriptive than words.

  1. Actions speak louder than words.

– It’s better to actually do something than just talk about it.

  1. Curiosity killed the cat.

– Being inquisitive can lead you into a dangerous situation.

  1. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

– Don’t rely on it until you are sure of it.

  1. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

– When someone gives you a gift, don’t be ungrateful.

  1. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

– Do not put all your resources in one possibility.

  1. Drastic times call for drastic measures.

– When you are extremely desperate you need to take extremely desperate actions.

  1. Elvis has left the building.

– The show has come to an end.

It’s all over.

  1. Every cloud has a silver lining.

– Be optimistic, even difficult times will lead to better days.

  1. Great minds think alike.

– Intelligent people think like each other.

  1. Haste makes waste.

– Doing things quickly may result in a poor ending.

  1. Idle hands are the devils’ tools.

– You are more likely to get it trouble if you have nothing to do.

  1. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

– When one thing goes wrong, then another, and another ….

  1. It takes two to tango.

– A conflict involves two people and both must cooperate to have it resolved.

  1. It’s a small world.

– You cannot hide from your evil deeds in this world.

  1. Let bygones be bygones.

– To forget about a disagreement or argument.

  1. Let sleeping dogs lie.

– To avoid restarting a conflict.

  1. Never bite the hand that feeds you.

– Don’t hurt anyone that helps you.

  1. Practice makes perfect.

– By constantly practicing, you will become better.

  1. Rome was not built in one day.

– If you want something to be completed properly, then it’s going to take time.

  1. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

– The bigger and stronger opponent may be more difficult to beat, but when he does, he suffers a much bigger loss.

  1. Variety is the spice of life.

– The more experiences you try the more exciting life can be.

  1. When it rains, it pours.

– Since it rarely rains, when it does it will be a huge, storm.

  1. You are what you eat.

– In order to stay healthy, you must eat healthy foods.

  1. You can’t judge a book by its cover.

– Decisions shouldn’t be made primarily on appearance.



Give the meaning of the italicized idioms in the following sentences.

  1. I was completely at sea when the Prime Minister visited my house.
  2. Jane has her hands full.

She can’t take on more work.

  1. Do you have a bone to pick with me? 4. I can’t make heads or tails of this story.
  2. The test was as easy as pie.
  3. I am sick and tired of doing nothing at work.
  4. I am broke! I have to borrow some money.
  5. She dropped me a line yesterday.
  6. He filled in for her when she fell sick.
  7. My business is in the red.




  1. At sea – confused
  2. Has his hands full – is busy
  3. Have a bone to pick with me – have a quarrel
  4. Make heads or tails – make sense
  5. As easy as pie – very easy
  6. Sick and tired – can’t stand, hate
  7. Broke – to have no money
  8. Dropped me a line yesterday – sent me a letter or email

9. Filled in for her – did her work while she was away

  1. In the red – losing money, not profitable



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