A list of English Idioms to get your English Understanding up to Speed!

This is a list of notable idioms in the English language from wikipedia. The link to the wikipedia page is here.

Visit Wiktionary’s Category for over eight thousand idioms.

Notable Idioms In English

IDIOM SOURCE DEFINITION/TRANSLATION NOTES

“A bitter pill“ [1] A situation or information that is unpleasant but must be accepted.

“A dime a dozen“ [2] Anything that is common, inexpensive, and easy to get or available any where.

“Ace in the hole“ [3] A hidden or secret strength, or unrevealed advantage.

“Achilles’ heel“ [4] A metaphor for a fatal weakness in spite of overall strength.

“Actions speak louder than words“ People’s intentions can be judged better by what they do than what they say.

“Add insult to injury“ [5] To further a loss with mockery or indignity; to worsen an unfavorable situation.

“All ears“ [6] Listening intently; fully focused or awaiting an explanation.

“All thumbs“ [7] Clumsy, awkward.

“An arm and a leg” Very expensive or costly. A large amount of money.

“Apple of discord“ [8] Anything causing trouble, discord, or jealousy.

“At the drop of a hat“ Without any hesitation; instantly.

“Back to the drawing board” When an attempt fails, and its time to start planning all over again.

“Ball is in your court” It is up to you to make the next decision or step.

“Barking up the wrong tree“ [9] Looking in the wrong place. [note 1]

“Basket case“ One made powerless or ineffective, as by nerves, panic, or stress. [note 2]

“Beat around the bush“ To treat a topic, but omit its main points, often intentionally or to delay or avoid talking about something difficult or unpleasant.

“Best of both worlds” A situation wherein someone has the privilege of enjoying two different opportunities.

“Bite off more than one can chew“ To take on more responsibility than one can manage.

“Bite the bullet“ To endure a painful or unpleasant situation that is unavoidable.

“Bite the dust“ Euphemism for dying or death.

“Break a leg“ [10] A saying from the theatre that means “good luck”.

“Burn the midnight oil“ [11] To work late into the night, alluding to the time before electric lighting. [note 3]

“Bust one’s chops“ [12] To say things intended to harass. [note 4]

“By the seat of one’s pants“ [13] To achieve through instinct or do something without advance preparation.

“By the skin of one’s teeth“ [14] Narrowly; barely. Usually used in regard to a narrow escape from a disaster. [note 5]

“Call it a day“ [15] To declare the end of a task. [note 6]

Cat nap A nap.

“Champ at the bit“ or “Chomp at the bit“ [16] To show impatience or frustration when delayed.

“Chew the fat“ To chat idly or generally waste time talking.

“Chink in one’s armor“ [17] An area of vulnerability [note 7]

“Clam up“ To become silent; to stop talking.

“Cold shoulder“ [18] To display aloofness and disdain.

“Couch potato“ [19] A lazy person.

“Cut a rug“ To dance

“Cut the cheese“ To fart.

“Cut the mustard“ [20] To perform well; to meet expectations.

“Don’t have a cow “ [21] Don’t overreact.

“Drop a dime “ Make a telephone call; to be an informant.

“Fit as a fiddle“ [22] In good physical health.

“For a song“ Almost free. Very cheap.

“From A to Z“ Covering a complete range; comprehensively.

“From scratch / to make from scratch“ Make from original ingredients; start from the beginning with no prior preparation

“Get bent out of shape“ To take offense; to get worked up, aggravated, or annoyed

“Have a blast” [23] To have a good time or to enjoy oneself.

“Have eyes in the back of one’s head “ Someone can perceive things and events that are outside of their field of vision.

“Hit the road “ To leave.

“Hit the sack “/sheets/hay [24] To go to bed to sleep.

“Let the cat out of the bag “ To reveal a secret.

“Kick the bucket“ [25] Euphemism for dying or death.

No horse in this race No vested interest in the outcome of a particular contest or debate

“Off one’s trolley” or“Off one’s rocker” [26] Crazy, demented, out of one’s mind, in a confused or befuddled state of mind, senile. [note 8]

“Off the hook“ [27] To escape a situation of responsibility, obligation, or (less frequently) danger.

“Pop one’s clogs“ (UK) Euphemism for dying or death.

“Piece of cake “ A job, task or other activity that is pleasant – or, by extension, easy or simple.

“Pull somebody’s leg“ To tease or to joke by telling a lie.

“Pushing up daisies“ Euphemism for dying or death.

“Put the cat among the pigeons“ [28] To create a disturbance and cause trouble.

“Right as rain” [29] Needed, appropriate, essential, or hoped-for and has come to mean perfect, well, absolutely right. [note 9]

“Screw the pooch“ To screw up; to fail in dramatic and ignominious fashion.

“Shoot the breeze“ To chat idly or generally waste time talking.

“Sleep with the fishes“ Euphemism for dying or death. [note 10]

“Spill the beans“ Reveal someone’s secret.

“Split the whistle“ To arrive just on time.

“Take the biscuit“ (UK) To be particularly bad, objectionable, or egregious.

“Take the cake“ (US) To be especially good or outstanding.

“Through thick and thin“ In both good and bad times.

“Thumb one’s nose“ To express scorn or to disregard.

“Tie one on“ To get drunk.

“Trip the light fantastic“ To dance

“Under the weather“ [30] Feel sick or poorly

“Whole nine yards” Everything. All of it.

“You can say that again“ That is very true; expression of wholehearted agreement

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