50 Idiomatic Expressions Examples with Meaning! Here are 50 popular English idioms to help you sound more like a native speaker.
An idiom is a phrase that has a meaning that is different from the meanings of each word in it. For example, if you say someone “has bitten off more than they can chew,” you mean they have taken on more than they can handle.
We often use idioms without realizing it. However, if you aren’t familiar with the meaning of an idiom, it can be very confusing. For example, if an American English speaker says “I’m pulling your leg,” to someone who doesn’t know this idiom, that person might think the speaker is actually physically pulling their leg!
To avoid confusion and communicate effectively, it’s important to learn common idiomatic expressions.
50 Idiomatic Expressions With Examples and Meanings
Related: 500 Idioms and Meaning
1- Bite off more than you can chew
Means: to take on something bigger than you can handle
Sentence: John wanted to take on the project alone, but he soon realized he had bitten off more than he could chew.
2- Beat around the bush and avoid the main topic
Means: delay giving an answer
Sentence: When I asked my boss for a raise, she beat around the bush and didn’t give me a direct answer.
3- Break a leg
Means: good luck in performing or succeeding
Sentence: Good luck with your audition tonight! Break a leg!
4- Buckle down
Means: work hard
Sentence: I need to buckle down and study if I want to pass my exam.
5- By the seat of your pants
Means: by instinct
Sentence: She had no formal training, but she managed to create a successful business by relying on her instincts and going by the seat of her pants.
6- Call it a day
Means: stop working for the day
Sentence: We’ve been working for hours, let’s call it a day and pick up where we left off tomorrow.
7- Can’t see my hand in front of my face
Means: very dark
Sentence: It was so dark in the cave that I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.
8- Carry a torch
Means: to be in love with someone
Sentence: He’s been carrying a torch for her since they were teenagers, but he’s never told her how he feels.
9- Chew the fat
Means: to talk casually with someone
Sentence: We spent hours chewing the fat over a cup of coffee.
10- Choke on something
Means: to choke is to swallow food or liquid that is too large for your throat
Sentence: I almost choked on a piece of steak at dinner last night.
11- Come out of nowhere
Means: appear suddenly
Sentence: The storm came out of nowhere and caught us off guard.
12- Cook up a plot
Means: to create plans
Sentence: She cooked up a plot to surprise her husband on his birthday.
13- Cut to the chase
Means: get to the most important part of something
Sentence: Let’s cut to the chase and discuss the main issue.
14- Cut your losses
Means: stop trying to fix your mistake or problems
Sentence: After losing a lot of money on the stock market, he decided to cut his losses and sell his shares.
15- Dead ringer
Means: a person who is exactly like someone else
Sentence: She’s a dead ringer for her mother at the same age.
16- Don t count your chickens before they hatch
Means: don t be too optimistic
Sentence: You can’t assume you’ll win the game before it’s even started. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
17- Don t rock the boat
Means: don’t make a big change
Sentence: Let’s just keep things the way they are and not rock the boat.
18- Don t twist my arm
Means: to persuade someone by using pressure or force
Sentence: I don’t really want to go to the party, but she keeps twisting my arm to convince me.
19- Down in the dumps
Sentence: After her breakup, she was down in the dumps for weeks.
20- Drop a dime
Means: to report someone s bad behavior
Sentence: She dropped a dime on her neighbor for playing loud music late at night.
21- Drop in the bucket
Means: a small amount
Sentence: The $10 donation was just a drop in the bucket compared to what they needed for the project.
22- Drop of a hat
Sentence: If you need my help, I’ll come over right away, just give me a call. I’ll be there at the drop of a hat.
23- Easy as pie
Means: very easy
Sentence: After practicing a few times, riding a bike became as easy as pie.
24- Eat your heart out
Means: to feel jealous
Sentence: Look at my new car! Eat your heart out, Jerry.
25- Eye candy
Means: something that looks good but is not useful
Sentence: That painting might not be worth much, but it sure is eye candy.
Means: face someone and argue
Sentence: They faced off a heated debate about the future of the company.
27- Fall back on
Means: to use something as a backup plan
Sentence: If I can’t find a job in my field, I can always fall back on my degree in education.
28- Fits like a glove
Means: fits perfectly
Sentence: This jacket fits like a glove, it’s perfect!
29- Flat broke
Means: without money
Sentence: After losing his job, he was flatly broke and couldn’t afford to pay his bills.
30- Flat out
Means: at full speed
Sentence: She was running flat out to catch the train before it left the station.
31- Flat tire
Means: an event that stops progress
Sentence: We had to pull over and change the flat tire before continuing our road trip.
32- Fly off the handle
Means: to become angry
Sentence: He flew off the handle when he found out that someone had scratched his car.
33- For crying out loud
Means: expressing surprise
Sentence: For crying out loud, will you please stop talking and let me concentrate?
34- Freaked out
Means: very surprised
Sentence: I freaked out when I saw the spider crawling on my arm.
35- Get a word in edgewise
Means: to be able to talk
Sentence: She never stops talking, I can never get a word in edgewise.
36- Get the ball rolling
Means: to start something
Sentence: Let’s get the ball rolling and start planning the event.
37- Give me a break!
Means: do not lie
Sentence: He said he was only 10 minutes late, but give me a break, it’s been an hour!
38- Go ballistic
Means: to become very angry
Sentence: My dad went ballistic when he found out I crashed his car.
39- Go down the tubes
Means: to fail
Sentence: The company’s profits started going down the tubes after the new CEO took over.
40- Go on a rampage
Means: to break things
Sentence: The protesters went on a rampage, destroying everything in their path.
41- Going in circles
Means: doing the same thing over and over
Sentence: We’ve been discussing the same issue for hours and we’re just going in circles.
42- Good riddance
Means: something you are happy about leaving
Sentence: I finally got rid of my old car, good riddance!
43- Good to go
Sentence: The car’s all packed up, everyone’s ready to go, and we’re good to go!
44- Go the extra mile
Means: to do more than expected
Sentence: If you want to succeed in this business, you have to be willing to go the extra mile.
45- Got a mouth on you!
Means: saying you talk too much
Sentence: Wow, you really have a mouth on you! You never stop talking.
46- Grin and bear it
Means: to put up with something
Sentence: The food was terrible, but I had to grin and bear it because it was a fancy restaurant.
47- Grow like a weed
Means: to grow very fast
Sentence: The plants in the garden are growing like weeds this summer.
Means: someone who is an adult
Sentence: You’re not a kid anymore, you’re a grown-up now.
49- Gut feeling
Means: to have a hunch
Sentence: I have a gut feeling that something is not right about this situation.
50- Have a bone to pick with you
Means: to be angry at you
Sentence: I have a bone to pick with you about the way you treated me yesterday.