An idiom is an expression, word, or phrase that has a figurative meaning or the associative or connotative meaning. Following is a list of idioms.
See the 20 most common idioms in English .
|Idiom||Explanation + Example|
|1)||Don't give up the day job.||You are not very good at that. You could definitely not do it professionally.|
"I really like the way you sing, but don't give up your day job.
|2)||Cash cow.||An easy way to earn money regularly.|
"Income tax is a real cash cow for the government."
|3)||Bite off more than you can chew.||Trying to do something that is too difficult or time consuming to finish.|
"I'm glad you want to prepare the report by yourself. Just be sure that you don't bite off more than you can chew."
|4)||Clear the air||Discuss something that was causing people to feel upset.|
"There seems to have been a misunderstanding. I'd like to explain what happened, just to clear the air."
|5)||Turn your back on||Give up on, or abandon.|
"I needed your help but you just turned your back on me"
|6)||Not cut out for||Not suitable for something.|
"He tried mountain climbing, but he simply was not cut out for it."
|7)||Scrape the bottom of the barrel||The very last, or the very worst.|
"These are the last volunteers we could find. We really had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find them."
|8)||A class act||Sophisticated, above average.|
"He offered to help, even though he doesn't know me. He's a real class act."
|9)||Clean up your act||Improve your behavior.|
"If you are ever going to improve your English skills, you must start getting in to class on time and doing your homework. Why don't you clean up your act?"
|10)||Get your act together||Get more organized.|
"You have been late for work every day this week. If you want to keep this job, you must get your act together."
|11)||A piece of the action||Participation in an activity.|
"I heard that you are looking for partners in your new investment. If you don't mind, I would like to get in on a piece of the action."
|12)||Actions speak louder than words.||People's intentions can be judged better by what they do than what they say. |
"Why don't you give her a hug instead of saying you are sorry, actions speak louder than words."
|13)||In the air||Being discussed, generally obvious.|
"The days are getting longer and the flowers are blooming. Spring is in the air."
|14)||Go ape||Go crazy.|
"Jack was really angry. I thought he was going to go ape."
|15)||A grey area||Something that is difficult to define.|
"I researched your case, but there are not any black and white answers. Your situation seems to fall into a grey area."
|16)||Up in arms||Angry.|
"The crows was agitated. Everyone was up in arms over the government decision."
|17)||Be glad to see the back of||Be happy when a person leaves.|
"That guy bothers me, I'll be glad to see the back of him."
|18)||Give him/her credit||Acknowledge an achievement or contribution of a person.|
"Although he is not easy to work for, you have to give him credit for managing the company well."
|19)||Go behind someone's back||Do something without telling someone.|
"Don't trust Jane. She acts friendly but she's always going behind someone's back."
|20)||Each to his own||Everyone is entitled to his own individual opinion.|
"I can't say that I like George's new furniture. It seems very plain and uncomfortable. Oh well, each to his own."
|21)||Eager beaver||Enthusiastic person.|
"John did all of his homework before supper. He sure is an eager beaver."
|22)||Early bird||A person who is early, or gets up early.|
"Dave was in class 30 minutes before anyone else. What an early bird."
|23)||Scratch the surface||Examine only a part of something. Uncover only a few facts about something|
"Cancer research is a very long-term process. So far, we have just begun to scratch the surface."
|24)||Give him the slip||Leave him. Hide from him.|
"I think that man is following us. Let's give him the slip."
|25)||Cold shoulder||To treat someone in an unfriendly manner.|
"I don't think Jim likes me. I tried to speak with him but he gave me the cold shoulder."
|26)||Get the ball rolling||Start something.|
"All right everyone, we spent a lot of time planning this project. Now, it's time to get the ball rolling."
|27)||Jump on the bandwagon||Join a popular trend or activity.|
"I like that new procedure and I've decided to jump on the bandwagon."
|28)||A losing battle||Something that cannot be accomplished.|
"I've tried fixing this phone many times, I just can't do it by myself. It's a losing battle."
|29)||Keep something at bay||Keep something away.|
"Sarah found it difficult to keep the salesperson at bay."
|30)||Spill the beans||Tell a secret.|
"I won't be the one to spill the beans."
|31)||Beggars can't be choosers||People cannot complain about something they get for free.|
"I don't like the color of the sweater she gave me, but beggars can't be choosers."
|32)||Flesh and blood||A relative.|
"I must help him. After all, he's my own flesh and blood."
|33)||Give the benefit of the doubt||Believe someone's statement, without proof.|
"The teacher's explanation did not seem logical, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt."
|34)||A safe bet||Probably true. Will probably happen.|
"It's a safe bet that your English skills improve quickly if you study at Elanguest."
|35)||Fit the bill||Seems correct.|
"That seems to fit the bill. I'll take it."
|36)||Black and blue||Bruised.|
"He was beaten until he was black and blue."
|37)||In cold blood||With no compassion or mercy. Usually associated with ruthless murder.|
"The assassin was evil. He killed him in cold blood."
|38)||Out of the blue||Unexpected.|
"A great idea just came to me out of the blue."
|39)||Call someone's bluff||Make someone prove what they say. |
"He implied that he would terminate my contract, but I called his bluff."
|40)||Rock the boat||Create problems for other people.|
Everyone likes Anthony. He doesn't rock the boat."
|41)||By the book||Doing something according to rules.|
"He's a good cop. He does everything by the book."
|42)||Give someone the boot||Dismiss or get rid of someone.|
"Mr. Smith is an easy boss to work for. He doesn't like to give someone the boot."
|43)||Get to the bottom of||Learn about and understand fully.|
"We are not sure what happened, but we intend to get to the bottom of this."
|44)||Out of bounds||Not permitted.|
"Hans wanted to ask Mary out on a date, but I explained that she is out of bounds. Mary is engaged to Jack."
|45)||Bread and butter||Regular income.|
"We are very dependent on our advertising revenue. It's our bread and butter."
|46)||The best thing since sliced bread||A good invention or innovation.|
"I love this paper folding machine. It's the best thing since sliced bread."
|47)||Give me a break||Don't expect me to believe or agree with that.|
"You think the teacher is joking? Give me a break."
|48)||Don't hold your breath||Don't wait too long because it might not happen.|
"Yes, it's possible that they will lower taxes, but don't hold your breath."
|49)||Cross that bridge when you come to it||Deal with a problem if and when it becomes necessary, not before.|
"I'm not too wirried about a possible downturn in the economy. Anyway, let's cross that bridge when we come to it."
|50)||The bubble has burst||A previously positive situation has encountered a serious problem.|
"Last year, the stock market was doing very well. Unfortunately, it seems that the bubble has burst."
|51)||The buck stops here||Problems are resloved here.|
"A lot of people try to pass problems to other people. At my desk, however, the buck stops here."
|52)||Burn your bridges||make it impossible to return.|
"Be polite when you hand in your resignation. After all, you don't want to burn your bridges."
|53)||My ears are burning||I think someone is saying something about me.|
"Pierre is talking again. My ears are burning."
|54)||Put on the back burner||Leave it for later.|
"I don't think we'll have time to complete it this year. Let's put it on the back burner."
|55)||Someone means business||Someone is serious|
"Watch out for Harry. He's someone who means business."
|56)||At the touch of a button||Quickly and easily.|
"No problem. I can change your account information at the touch a button."
|57)||Have your cake and eat it||Enjoy something without paying for it.|
"He expected to pass without studying. Unfortunately, you cannot have your cake and eat it, too."
|58)||A close call||Something (usually bad) almost happening.|
"That car almost hit us. That was a close call."
|59)||Enough is enough||This should stop.|
"I have listened to his complaints for years but enough is enough."
|60)||A fat cat||A wealthy person.|
"He has everything he needs. He's a real fat cat."
|61)||My two cents worth||My humble opinion.|
"He seems like a corrupt politician. That's just my two cent's worth."
|62)||Hang out||Be together, spend time with each other.|
"Hey Lauren, let's get together tonight, we can just hang out and practice our English."
|63)||A change of heart||A changed opinion.|
"At one time, I supported George Bush. As time went on, however, I had a change of heart."
|64)||Get something off your chest||Explain something that is bothering you.|
"Gary, you don't seem happy. Is there something you would like to get off your chest?"
|65)||Don't count your chickens before the eggs have hatched||Don't make plans for something that might not happen.|
"Yes, I think we will probably get a raise in pay this year. Remember, though, don't count your chickens before the eggs have hatched."
|66)||A chip on his shoulder||He is angry about something.|
"I don't know why he's so unhappy. He seems to have a chip on his shoulder."
|67)||Come full circle||A process has been completed.|
"The salmon has returned to the place where it originally hatched. Its life cycle has come full circle."
|68)||Squeaky clean||Legitimate and proper.|
"We checked all of her references. She's squeaky clean."
|69)||In the clear||Out of trouble.|
"His innocence has been proven. He's in the clear."
|70)||Steer clear of||Avoid.|
"She's not very nice. I think we should steer clear of her."
|71)||Round the clock||All day.|
"She's a very hard worker. She usually works around the clock."
|72)||Turn back the clock||Go back in time. |
"I feel old. I wish I could turn back the clock."
|73)||Like clockwork||With mechanical efficiency.|
"He's very predictable. He always eats at the same time, like clockwork."
|74)||Wake up and smell the coffee||Think more realistically.|
"He doesn not respect you as much as you think. Wake up and smell the coffee."
|75)||The other side of the coin||Another version of a story or event.|
"The global summit will encourage meaningfull dialogue. On the other side of the coin, it might result in violent protests."
|76)||Left out in the cold||Left unaided or unprotected.|
"They don't include me in their group. I feel left out in the cold."
|77)||With flying colors||With enthusiasm and exuberance.|
"I can't wait to see you all. I'll be there with flying colors."
|78)||Scrape by||Have just enough but not more.|
"Our budget is not satisfactory but we will find a way to scrape by."
|79)||A tough cookie||A stubborn, strong person.|
"Don't get Shirley upset. She's a tough cookie."
|80)||Keep your cool||Don't become upset.|
"Relax, keep your cool."
|81)||Lose your cool||Become upset.|
"Don't get upset. If you lose your cool, it will make matters worse."
|82)||In a tight corner||Without any good options.|
"Milo has run out of options. If he takes any more chance, he might find himself in a tight corner."
|83)||A couch potato||A lazy person.|
"Luis just watches tv all day. He really is a couch potato."
|84)||Takes its course||A situation develops naturally.|
"There is nothing we can do to relieve the effects of her disease. We can only wait and let the illness take its course."
|85)||Up the creek||In trouble.|
"I warned Bill but he would not listen. Now, he's up the creek."
|86)||Crocodile tears||Exaggerated or faked sympathy.|
"She told me she was sorry but she was not, it was just crocodile tears."
|87)||When it comes to the crunch||When there are no more possibilities.|
"Victor seems to have a casual point of view. When it comes to the crunch, though, he is a real professional."
|88)||A far cry from||Very different from.|
"His personality is a far cry from his father's."
|89)||Off-the-cuff||Without research, planning, or considering.|
"I haven't had the time to think about it. My off-the-cuff impression, however, is that it is a good idea."
|90)||Can't cut it||Cannot do it.|
"Kim shouldn't be working here. She just can't cut it."
|91)||In the dark||Ignorant.|
"They didn't tell me anything. I felt like they had left me in the dark."
|92)||A shot in the dark||A guess.|
"I'm not sure but I could take a shot in the dark."
|93)||Call it a day||Stop.|
"I'm tired. Let's call it a day."
|94)||Late in the day||(Almost) too late.|
"The government just decided to buy new helicopters, but it seems a little late in the day to make such a decision."
|95)||In broad daylight||Without trying to hide it.|
"They robbed the bank in broad daylight."
|96)||Makes someone's day||Make someone happy.|
"Your letter made my day!"
|97)||Wouldn't be caught dead||Would never.|
"I hate that dress. I wouldn't be caught dead wearing it."
|98)||Get a raw deal||Receives less than what is deserved.|
"Be sure to read the contract carefully before you sign it. You don't want to get a raw deal."
|99)||Runs deep||Entrenched, or ingrained.|
"He loves his country. Patriotism runs deep in his veins."
|100)||Out of your depth||Beyond your existing knowledge or ability.|
"You don't seem to have much experience in this subject. Are you sure you're not out of your depth?"
See the 20 most common idioms in English .