When certain words are combined, they form an idiom, which has a figurative meaning that differs from the literal definition of the individual words. Let’s take this example “Don’t worry, passing the geography exam is a piece of cake.” We would understand that the phrase “piece of cake” refers to a simple task. Normally, we would not associate the word ‘cake’ with anything other than dessert when it is used alone. The English language contains hundreds and thousands of common idioms.
Idioms are difficult for people whose first language is not English, as you can imagine. We’ve grown accustomed to hearing them at home, at school, and on our favourite television shows.
Here are some 30 common idioms that you can use everyday!
Examples of Common Idioms
1. As happy as a clam
Meaning: Pleased, very content
EXAMPLE: She spent the afternoon reading and was (as) happy as a clam.
2. Spill the beans
Meaning: To give away a secret
EXAMPLE: Rahul spilled the beans about the surprise party his sister was planning for your dad.
3. Pull someone’s leg
Meaning: To play a practical joke
EXAMPLE: ” Don’t get upset Amal, I was just pulling your leg!
4. Through thick and thin
Meaning: To be loyal no matter what
EXAMPLE: Her family was their with her through thick and thin.
5. Once in a blue moon
EXAMPLE: I remember to call my parents from my study abroad trip once in a blue moon.
Read this article on A List of 50 Common English Words to Improve Vocabulary!
6. Come rain or shine
Meaning: No matter what
EXAMPLE: “I’ll be at your football game, come rain or shine“.
7. See eye to eye
Meaning: To agree completely
EXAMPLE: It’s good that you finally have a new team member who sees eye to eye with you on most things.
8. Go down in flames
Meaning: To fail spectacularly
EXAMPLE: ‘That exam went down in flames, I should have learned my English idioms.’
9. Beat around the bush
Meaning: To avoid talking about what’s important
EXAMPLE: “If you want to ask me, just ask; don’t beat around the bush.”
10. On cloud nine
Meaning: Being very happy
EXAMPLE: He is on cloud nine as he got a distinction!
11. Don’t cry over spilt milk
Meaning: Don’t cry over what has happened as it can not be fixed.
EXAMPLE: “I know you didn’t mean to break my phone, so there’s no use in crying over spilt milk now.“
12. By the skin of your teeth
Meaning: To just barely get by or make it.
EXAMPLE: He escaped from the secret police by the skin of his teeth.
13. Draw the line
Meaning: To stop before a point where something okay gets not okay.
EXAMPLE: I am going to draw the line about working more than forty hours a week.
14. Easier said than done
Meaning: Not as easy as it appears to be.
EXAMPLE: “Finding a good job is easier said than done.”
Read this article on All You Need To Know About The Annual Free Comic Book Day!
15. Break a leg
Meaning: Saying good luck to someone.
EXAMPLE: You have an exam tomorrow? Break a leg!
16. Fish out of water
Meaning: To be out of your comfort zone.
EXAMPLE: I didn’t have any friends that were like me. I just always felt like a fish out of water.
17. Go the extra mile
Meaning: To make an extra effort.
EXAMPLE: You have to go the extra mile if you want to acquire a masterpiece.
18. Step up your game
Meaning: To start performing better
EXAMPLE: Jennifer better step up her game if she wants to make big in Basketball.
19. Look before you leap
Meaning: Calculate the risks before advancing towards a possibility.
EXAMPLE: If you’re planning to invest in your friend’s company, I advise you to look before you leap.
20. On thin ice
Meaning: In a precarious or risky situation.
EXAMPLE: After failing the midterm, he was on thin ice with his math teacher.
21. Rain on someone’s parade
Meaning: To spoil a moment.
EXAMPLE: I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but I have some bad news.
22. Play by the ear
Meaning: To improvise.
EXAMPLE: Would you rather we make a reservation for dinner or should we play it by ear?
23. Ignorance is bliss
Meaning: You are better off not knowing some things.
EXAMPLE: I was wonderfully happy using my drier every day and ignorance was bliss until I found out how much electricity it consumed.
24. Call it a day
Meaning: Stop working on something.
EXAMPLE: You have been working a lot this week. You can call it day today!
Read this article on The Life of Nelson Mandela and His Fight Against Apartheid!
25. To Bell the Cat
Meaning: To face a risk.
EXAMPLE: He belled the cat when he was trying to escape the prison.
26. Stab someone in the back
Meaning: To betray a close person
EXAMPLE: Can you believe my sister stabbed me in the back by telling my parents I snuck out of the house last night?
27. To have sticky fingers
EXAMPLE: The cashier had a sticky finger, he stole money and ran away from the bank.
28. Wear your heart on your sleeve
Meaning: Expressing yourself too openly
EXAMPLE: She wears her heart on her sleeve and often gets hurt.
29. Light at the end of tunnel
Meaning: Seeing signs of improvement in the future
EXAMPLE: There now seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel.
30. Read between the lines
Meaning: Understanding the real message behind something
EXAMPLES: Nothing was spelled out, yet everything was there for those who could read between the lines.
Read this article on 5 Easy and Fun Activities for Kids to Develop their Personality!
Incorporating these common idioms into your writing is a great way to add creativity to your work. This is because an idiom can be used to express oneself artistically. If you’re writing an article about financial planning, for example, you could say, “You should save your money.” You could also say something like, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” The idiom brings life to the text and encourages readers to think beyond the facts.
For more such informative article, keep coming back to our blog!