80 Idioms in English With Meaning! An idiom is a phrase that has a meaning that is not literal. For example, if you say someone “has big shoes to fill,” it means they have a lot to live up to. Some English idioms are easy to guess the meaning of, but others are more difficult. Here are 80 common English idioms and their meaning:
Idioms in English With Meaning
Related: 500 Idioms and Meaning
Below are 80 idioms with meanings:
- A Blessing In Disguise: something good that initially seemed bad.
- A Chip On Your Shoulder: a grudge or resentful attitude.
- A Dime A Dozen: something that is very common and not special.
- A Drop In The Bucket: a small amount in relation to what is needed.
- All Ears: eagerly listening to someone.
- All Bark and No Bite: talking tough but not being willing to act on it.
- An Arm And A Leg: a very high price.
- Bad Blood: ill feelings or hatred between people or groups.
- Beat Around the Bush: to avoid discussing something directly
- Bite off More Than You Can Chew: to take on more responsibility than you can handle
- Break A Leg: good luck (usually said to actors before a performance)
- Call It A Day: to stop working
- Cry over Spilt Milk: to lament over something that cannot be changed
- Cut Somebody Some Slack: to relax the rules for someone
- Get off Somebody’s Back: to stop bothering or pressuring someone
- Hang In There: keep trying
- Hit The Sack: go to bed
- Hold Your Horses: wait
- I’m All Ears: I’m listening
- Keep Your Chin Up: don’t be discouraged
- Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: leave something alone
- No Pain, No Gain: you have to work hard to succeed
- Once In A Blue Moon: rarely
- Piece Of Cake: easy
- Pull Somebody’s Leg: to tease
- Reinvent The Wheel: to try to improve something that’s already working well
- Rule Of Thumb: a general guideline
- See Eye To Eye: to agree
- Shoot the Breeze: to chat
- Sink or Swim: to succeed or fail
- Sold Down The River: betrayed
- Speak Of The Devil: the person you’re talking about arrives
- The Bottom Line: the most important part
- The Whole Nine Yards: everything
- Throw In the Towel: to give up
- To Cost an Arm and a Leg: to be very expensive
- Under The Weather: not feeling well
- Uphill Battle: a difficult challenge
- Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve: to show your emotions
- When Push Comes To Shove: when it’s time to act
- You Can’t Judge A Book By Its Cover: don’t prejudge someone or something
- A Drop In The Ocean: a tiny amount in relation to what is needed
- Add Fuel to The Fire: to make a bad situation worse
- Argue The Toss: to argue about something that is not important
- Back To Square One: to have to start all over again
- Barking Up the Wrong Tree: to be looking in the wrong place
- Bite Your Tongue: to stop yourself from saying something
- Bring Home the Bacon: to earn money
- Call It A Day: to stop working
- Carrying Coals To Newcastle: to do something that is not necessary because it is already available
- Cost A Bomb: to be very expensive
- Crossing the Rubicon: to take a final step
- Do Someone A Favor: to help someone
- Down The Pan: to fail completely
- Drawing a Blank: when you can’t remember something
- Eating Humble Pie: to apologize for something you did wrong
- Fallen On Hard Times: to have financial difficulties
- Get Your Ducks in A Row: to get everything ready
- Give Someone A Hand: to help someone
- Good Riddance: used to express happiness when something bad has gone or been eliminated
- Hang Fire: to wait
- Have The Last Laugh: to be successful after others have laughed at you
- Hold Your Horses!: wait!
- In A Nutshell: Briefly
- In Hot Water: in trouble
- It Takes Two To Tango: both people are responsible for a problem
- Keep Your Chin Up: don’t be discouraged
- Kill the Fatted Calf: to celebrate
- Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: to leave something alone that might cause problems
- Look before You Leap: think before you act
- Make A Clean Breast of It: to confess everything
- Make A Long Story Short: to tell a story briefly
- My Cup of Tea: something I like
- On Cloud Nine: very happy
- Once In A Blue Moon: rarely
- Pull Someone’s Leg: to tease someone
- Raining Cats And Dogs: raining very hard
- Reap the Whirlwind: to suffer the consequences of your actions
- Right as Rain: Perfect
- Sell Like Hotcakes: to sell quickly
Related: 100 Idioms and Their Meanings
Idioms in English With Meaning and Sentences
A Blessing In Disguise: something that seems bad or unfortunate at first but ultimately turns out to be good.
Example: Losing my job was a blessing in disguise because it gave me the opportunity to start my own business.
A Chip On Your Shoulder: to be easily offended or always ready for an argument or fight.
Example: John always has a chip on his shoulder when it comes to politics, and he never hesitates to argue with anyone who disagrees with him.
A Dime A Dozen: something that is common and not valuable.
Example: In this age of social media, influencers are a dime a dozen.
A Drop In The Bucket: a small or insignificant amount in comparison to the overall size or need of something.
Example: The money we raised for the charity was just a drop in the bucket compared to what they really need.
All Ears: eager and willing to listen.
Example: I’m all ears if you want to talk about your problems.
All Bark And No Bite: to make threats or act tough but not follow through with any action.
Example: The new boss talked tough during the meeting, but it turned out that he was all bark and no bite.
An Arm And A Leg: something that is very expensive.
Example: The price of the car was so high that it felt like it would cost an arm and a leg to buy it.
Bad Blood: ill-feeling or animosity between people.
Example: There’s bad blood between the two families because of a business dispute that happened years ago.
Beat Around The Bush: to avoid discussing a topic directly or to speak in a vague way.
Example: Stop beating around the bush and tell me what you really think about the project.
Bite off more than you can chew: to take on more than one can handle or manage.
Example: John took on two jobs at the same time and now he’s stressed out; he bit off more than he could chew.
Break a leg: used to wish someone good luck, especially before a performance.
Example: Break a leg! the director said to the cast before the play started.
Call it a day: to decide to stop working or do something for the day.
Example: It’s getting late, I think we should call it a day and continue tomorrow.
Cry over spilt milk: to be upset about something that has already happened and cannot be changed.
Example: There’s no point in crying over spilled milk; let’s move on and find a solution.
Cut somebody some slack: to be more lenient or forgiving towards someone.
Example: Sarah has been going through a tough time, so let’s cut her some slack and not be too hard on her.
Get off somebody’s back: to stop bothering or criticizing someone.
Example: Can you please get off my back and let me do my job?
Hang in there: to persevere through a difficult situation or stay strong during a tough time.
Example: I know you’re going through a rough patch, but hang in there, it will get better.
Hit the sack: to go to bed or go to sleep.
Example: I’m exhausted, it’s time to hit the sack.
Hold your horses: to ask someone to be patient or wait before taking action.
Example: Hold your horses, we need to consider all the options before making a decision.
I’m all ears: to show that you are interested and ready to listen to someone.
Example: Tell me all about your trip, and I’m all ears!
Keep Your Chin Up: To remain optimistic in difficult situations.
Example: Even though he failed the exam, he decided to keep his chin up and try again next time.
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: To avoid stirring up old or potentially contentious issues.
Example: We had a disagreement about politics, but we decided to let sleeping dogs lie and enjoy the rest of our evening together.
No Pain, No Gain: To achieve success, one must work hard and make sacrifices.
Example: She knew that training for the marathon would be difficult, but she reminded herself that no pain, no gain.
Once In A Blue Moon: An event that occurs rarely or infrequently.
Example: I only get to see my extended family once in a blue moon because they live so far away.
Piece Of Cake: Something that is very easy to do.
Example: After studying for weeks, the final exam was a piece of cake.
Pull Somebody’s Leg: To tease or play a joke on someone.
Example: She thought he was serious when he said he won the lottery, but he was just pulling her leg.
Reinvent The Wheel: To unnecessarily create or do something that already exists or is already being done.
Example: She spent hours trying to create a new system for organizing her closet, but realized she was just trying to reinvent the wheel.
Rule Of Thumb: A general principle or guideline.
Example: As a rule of thumb, it’s best to arrive at least 15 minutes early for appointments.
See Eye To Eye: To have a shared understanding or agreement.
Example: Although they come from different backgrounds, they were able to see eye to eye on many important issues.
Shoot The Breeze: To engage in casual conversation or chat in a relaxed manner.
Example: After work, I like to sit on the porch with my neighbor and shoot the breeze for a while.
Sink Or Swim: To face a difficult situation and either succeed or fail.
Example: On his first day at the new job, he was given a complex project and told to sink or swim.
Sold Down The River: To betray someone or something for personal gain.
Example: The politician promised to protect the interests of the community, but instead, he sold them down the river to benefit himself.
Speak Of The Devil: Used to indicate that a person has just appeared, especially when you were just talking about them.
Example: Speak of the devil, there’s John. We were just talking about him!
The Bottom Line: The most important or fundamental aspect of a situation or issue.
Example: The bottom line is that we need to increase sales if we want to stay in business.
The Whole Nine Yards: Everything that is needed or possible; the full extent of something.
Example: She went to great lengths to plan the perfect party, with decorations, music, and food: the whole nine yards.
Throw In The Towel: To give up or admit defeat.
Example: After failing the exam for the third time, she decided to throw in the towel and pursue a different career path.
To Cost An Arm And A Leg: To be very expensive.
Example: Buying a house in this area can cost an arm and a leg, due to the high demand.
Under The Weather: To feel unwell or sick.
Example: I won’t be able to come to work today, I’m feeling a bit under the weather.
Uphill Battle: A difficult task that requires a lot of effort to achieve.
Example: Running a marathon is an uphill battle, but the feeling of accomplishment at the finish line is worth it.
Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve: To be very open about one’s emotions or feelings.
Example: She’s always wearing her heart on her sleeve, and sometimes it makes her vulnerable to others’ opinions.
Idioms With Meaning/Sentences – Infographics