Useful English Idioms List – Page 2 (Student Requests)

(Page one can be found here: Useful North American Idioms List)

This a continuation of a list of 195 useful North American Idioms (found here) from 2011. I had many students ask me about other idioms, so I made this new list to answer their questions. Therefore, these are not only North American idioms; these are just idioms students have requested I explain. The list is ordered according to when the idiom was requested.

Request an Idiom Explanation

Students, if you want me to explain an idiom that is not on this list, then please leave a comment below. I will try my best to explain it and add it to the idioms list here.

What is an Idiom?

An idiom is a combination of words that have a special meaning when used together. Take for example the idiom white lie. If you think about the meaning of the words 'white'  + 'lie', and then add them together, the expression doesn't make sense. That's because these two words, when joined together, have a special meaning. A white lie is a lie that you tell someone because you don't want to hurt their feelings. This is an idiom. You wouldn't understand it unless you have studied idioms.

Note: A phrasal verb, such as shut up,  is like an idiom because it has two or three words that have a special meaning when combined.  A phrasal verb always contains a preposition (in/on/about, etc) or an adverb (along, around). To study phrasal verbs, see this Basic English Phrasal Verbs list.

Advice for Teaching Idioms (for Teachers)

  • Maybe save 15 minutes of class to study idioms. Don't spend a whole class on idioms.
  • Only cover 6-7 idioms with your students or they won't remember them well.
  • Always review the idioms you studied in the previous class. Here is a good warm-up activity (requiring pictures) to review them.
  • After you have taught 10 or so idioms, do this role-play activity to give your students a chance to use the expressions in conversation.


The Idiom List

(note: "sth" = something, "sb" = somebody)

odds and endsHis closet was full of odds and ends. In it, there was a football, a screwdriver, magazines, socks, and toys.


= miscellaneous things. A bunch of things that are not related to one another.

to hit the nail on the headA: Bob is late. His car probably broke down.

B: You hit the nail on the head. He phoned me 5 minutes ago and said he was at the repair shop.


= to describe exactly what is causing a situation/problem.

to go against the grain / do sth against the grainThe other men wore wore a dark-colored suits to the ceremony. However, Peter went against the grain and wore a brown one.


=to do something in a different way from how it's usually done. Wood has grain. When you cut wood, you should cut it along the grain. This is easier. If you cut it against the grain, it's more difficult. This is cutting against the grain.

that is to sayCarl isn't from here. That is to say, he's a foreigner.


= in other words

from A to ZThe book tries to explain everything about English grammar, from A to Z.


= completely; including everything.

I dare sayI dare say that our company will go out of business if we don't find a new manager.


= to assert; to affirm; to be confident enough to say something

to make a fuss about sthThe old lady made a fuss about the bus arriving five minutes late. The driver told her that he was sorry.


= to get angry or complain about sth

to get/be sick of sth / to get/be tired of sthA: Do you want to have spaghetti tonight?

B: No. I'm sick of pasta. We ate it yesterday. Let's have something else.


= to start to dislike sth because you have seen/done/had it too much

be better offWe were better off in our old apartment. I wish we still lived there.


= to be in a better situation

get on (well) (with sb) A: Do you get on well with your father?

B: No, sadly. We don't speak very often.


= to have a good relationship with someone. (British English)

to sell like hotcakesTickets for the World Cup sold like hotcakes. All of the tickets were gone in only two days.


= to sell quickly (usually in large numbers).  Note: a hotcake is an (old) synonym for pancake in American English.

the lion's shareThe lion's share of the money the company makes goes to its owners.


= the best and/or largest part of something

to fall prey to sthThe customer fell prey to a dishonest salesman who sold her a broken car for $20,000. / Senior citizens sometimes fall prey to telephone scams.


= to become the victim of sth.

pull the plugJoanne decided to pull the plug on the barbeque because it was going to rain.


= to stop an activity or plan; to stop something from continuing

(every) now and thenIt rains every now and then in summertime. It rained two weeks ago, and it might rain this weekend.


= once in a while; occasionally

back to the drawing board / back to square oneI showed my essay to my professor, but he said the topic was not acceptable. Now I'm back to the drawing board. (I have to start again with a new idea.)


= back at the starting position; back to where you began

to beat around the bushThe politician didn't want to answer the question, so he tried to beat around the bush. He began talking about the weather.


= to not answer a question directly or to not talk about what is important in order to waste time

through thick and thinRenee promised to love her husband through thick and thin.


= in good times and bad times

shame on youA: Mom, I got in trouble today at school because I cheated on my test.

B: Shame on you!


= this expression is usually said to a person (often a child) after he/she does something shameful.

to take the plungeAfter dating Marie for two years, Greg decided to take the plunge and ask her to marry him.


= to start an activity that requires courage; (to plunge means to dive, so it means to dive (into sth)

to be a real bindJohn has to finish reading his book and then write a report on it tonight. But he also has to work his part-time job until 10 p.m. He's really in a bind.


= to be in a difficult situation

the best of both worldsVancouver has beautiful mountains for snowboarding and skiing. It is also on the ocean, where you can swim and boat. It's the best of both worlds.


= a situation in which you can enjoy two different things at the same time

a hard nut to crackThe thief refused to tell the police the names of the others who helped him commit the crime. He was a hard nut to crack.


= something that is difficult to solve; or a person who is hard to understand; something that will not easily reveal what it is hiding

a hard pill to swallowWhen Ian's boss told him that he was fired, it was a hard pill to swallow. He had been working there for 20 years.


= a difficult fact to accept

no hard and fast rulesThere are no hard and fast rules about how to live a happy life.


= there are no clear rules

fan the flameWhen Greg is angry, telling him to calm down only fans the flames. He'll continue to yell and get angrier. It's better to ignore him and let him relax on his own.


= to make a situation worse; to make something more intense. (When you fan flames, you give air to a fire. This won't extinguish the fire; it'll make it burn more strongly.)

find fault withThe fans couldn't find fault with anything the football coach had said. It was true, unfortunately. The team needed to improve in many ways.


= to find an error in something; to criticize

be in hot waterThe boy's teacher phoned his parents to tell them that their child had been misbehaving in school. Now the boy was in hot water.


= to be in trouble; to be in a situation where you are going to be punished

go over your headEverything the teacher said went over the students' heads because their English level was too low to understand.


= to not be able to understand something because it is too difficult/complicated for you

be in over your headGeorge's computer wouldn't start. He opened it but he didn't know how to fix it. He was in over his head, so he took it to a computer repair store.


= to be in a situation that is too difficult for you to manage

to pocket an insultLillian pocketed the insult from her boss because she didn't want to have an argument in the meeting.


= to bear an insult; to take an insult without reacting

to add insult to injuryThe president of the company was fired for stealing money from the organization. And to add insult to injury, his picture was posted on the front page of the newspaper the next day.


= to hurt someone who has already been hurt, or generally, to make a situation worse for someone who is already in a bad situation

an off dayJohn is usually a great tennis player. Yesterday, however, he lost all of his matches. He must have had an off day.


= a day on which you don't perform as well as you normally do

with open armsJohn and his parents had many serious disagreements when he was growing up. Despite this, his family welcomes him with open arms every year when he comes home for Christmas.


= to accept/greet/receive/welcome someone warmly or with great enthusiasm; ('open arms' means your arms are open, ready to hug the other person)

a bad egg The Johnsons' children are well behaved except for John. He's the bad egg.


= a person who is dishonest (or rotten)

little by littleJohn didn't like his new job in the beginning. But, little by little, John began to enjoy it.


= in small increments; in little steps

kick the bucketRoger Mowatt was the oldest man in town. When he finally kicked the bucket, he was 103 years old. Everyone will miss him.


= to die (informal)

bucket listGrace is 80 years old, but she still has many things left on her bucket list. For example, next year she is traveling to China to see the Great Wall.


= a list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket (= a list of things you want to do before you die)

tie the knotJack and Jill tied the knot in a small church in the countryside.


= to get married

under the weatherBill is feeling under the weather, so he didn't go to school today.


= to be sick/ill

bag of bonesTim is a bag of bones. He looks like he hasn't eaten in days.


= a very thin person who doesn't have muscle. The person looks like s/he is only skin (the bag) and bones.

make ends meetIt's hard to make ends meet when you only earn $10 an hour.


= to earn as much money as you spend. The 'ends' are the two ends of the balance sheet - your income (earnings) and expenses. When both ends meet, it means they are balanced (and so is your budget).

put your foot in your mouthOn his date last night, John really put his foot in his mouth when he said that he thought tattoos were ugly. After he said that, his date told him that she was a tattoo artist.


= to say something carelessly that you later regret saying because it was offensive, rude, or stupid.

fit as a fiddleWhen Jane was in college, she was fit as a fiddle. But after she got an office job, she gained a lot of weight.


= to be in good physical condition (used for people only)

be at seaWithout his girlfriend, Ryan would be completely at sea. He needs her to stay organized and focused.


= to be lost; confused; perplexed (the idiom means to be lost at sea)

be caught on the wrong footGeorge was caught on the wrong foot when his boss asked him to give a speech at the event. He hadn't prepared anything.


= to be in a situation you are not prepared for

(get/have) cold feetMark got cold feet on the day of his wedding. Suddenly he started thinking that he was making a big mistake.


= to suddenly become too frightened or nervous to do something you had planned to do

a bed of rosesJohn had a comfortable childhood. Life was a bed of roses. However, things changed after moved to another city because his parents divorced. After that, he struggled in school and he had a hard time making friends.


= an easy comfortable situation; an easy life.

call it a dayThe meeting ended at 4:45. After, there wasn't enough time to do any work, so we decided to call it a day.


= to decide to go home because you have done enough work.

Over my dead body!A: Frank, I know you don't want this to happen, but one day, I'm going to marry your sister.

B: Over my dead body!


= This means that you will never let something happen. It means that you would rather be killed than allow a particular thing to happen. It is a dramatic way of saying 'Never!'

something smells fishy / sounds fishyYesterday, a man phoned Walter and asked for his credit card information. The man said he was from his bank. Something smelled fishy, so Walter hung up the phone.


= something sounds suspicious / doubtful.

hot potato The issue of gun control is a hot potato in the United States. Although problems caused by guns fill the news every day, many Americans still believe they have the right to carry one.


= an issue or situation that is difficult to deal (literally, a hot potato is hot and hard to hold on to; just like a hot potato, there are issues that are hard to handle or manage.)

cry over spilled milk"John, don't cry over spilled milk. You lost the football game yesterday. Forget about it and let's move on."


= to be upset about a situation that you cannot change. (literally, after you spill milk, there is nothing you can do to get the milk back in the jug. You have to accept it and clean it up.)

cross that bridge when you come to itA: Jane, have you told your husband that you don't want to celebrate Christmas with his parents?

B: Not yet. It's only September now though. I don't want to make him upset. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it in a few months.


= to not deal with a particular problem until you have to.

every cloud has a silver liningRyan broke his leg last month. However, while in the hospital, he met a nurse who is now his girlfriend. I guess every cloud has a silver lining.


= every bad thing that happens to you also brings something good.

a slip of the tongueJohn accidentally called his girlfriend "Victoria," which was the name of his ex-girlfriend. His girlfriend didn't appreciate this slip of the tongue.


= an accidental or small mistake in speaking.

to be on cloud nineLisa was on cloud nine when she learned that she had been accepted into Harvard University. She had been dreaming of this for many years.


= to be very happy.

to throw in the towelBen tried to fix his washing machine yesterday. After working on it for four hours without success, he decided to throw in the towel and call a professional repairman.


= to quit; to give up. (note: this idiom was taken from boxing. When a fighter was losing badly, his manager would throw a towel in the ring. This towel was like a flag which showed the referee that the fighter admitted defeat.

a wolf in sheep's clothingAlan was a wolf in sheep's clothing. He appears charming, but he uses his charm to steal money from others.
wild-goose chase The police were on a wild-goose chase; the man they were looking for didn't exist.


= a hunt for something you can never find.

hold your horsesA: Bye Mom. I'm going outside to play.

B: Hold your horses! First, put on a jacket. Then you can go outside.


= to hold on / to slow down / to stop for a moment.

burning question The doctor told his patient that he could phone him if he had a burning question. Otherwise, he would see him in two weeks for their next appointment.


= an urgent question; a question that must be answered immediately.

small talkJohn makes small talk with his workmates when he meets them in the elevator.


= a short conversation about light topics such as the weather, your health, etc. Examples (How are you? It's sunny today, isn't it? How was your weekend?)

once in a blue moonI see my cousin once in a blue moon. I think the last time I saw him was in 2004 at a wedding.


= very rarely

better halfWhen John has to go to work, his better half stays home to take care of their baby.


= a person's wife, husband, or partner

to bridge the gapThe government hoped their new tax plan would help bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.


= to connect two things, or to make two things become closer together

to sweat bulletsThe man was sweating bullets while the two police officers asked him questions.


= to sweat a lot, especially when you are nervous or worried

to put the cart before the horseA: Okay, let's decide where we're going to go on our road trip this weekend.

B: Let's not put the cart before the horse. First we should figure out if we can rent a car. That's the first step.


= to do something before another thing that should have been done first. (Background: a horse pulls a cart, so to 'put the cart before the horse' is not the right order -- the horse should go first)

to take something with a grain of saltA: Yesterday, Peter told me that American cars are the best cars in the world.

B: Well, you should take anything he says about cars with a grain of salt. He works for an American car company, so of course he says that.


to consider that something may not be completely true (note: when you take something with a grain of salt, it becomes easier to swallow. To 'swallow' something is to accept it as true. So, if you need to take something with a grain of salt, that means it is difficult to swallow (accept) without salt.

couch potatoMy husband is such a couch potato. He spends all his free time in front of the TV, watching sports and talk shows.


someone who spends most of their time sitting on on a couch watching TV

like a bull in a china shop / to be a bull in a china shopGeorge was like a bull in a china shop at the art museum. He knocked over one piece of art and also hit some people with his bag by accident. He needs to be more careful.


someone who is very careless; or a person who acts clumsily in a delicate situation (*'china' refers to plates and bowls made of ceramic. A bull in a china shop would cause much damage.)

white elephantGeorge used to love his motorcycle, but now it has become a white elephant to him. He has to pay a lot of money to insure it every year, and he hardly uses it, so he has decided to sell it.


an expensive but useless item that is difficult to maintain or to throw away

the elephant in the roomRacism in the college had become the elephant in the room. None of the staff wanted to admit the problem existed. // During dinner, the topic of George's health was the elephant in the room. Everyone could see that he was unwell, but no one wanted to ask him about it.


The elephant in the room describes an obvious problem or issue that people don't want to discuss. It is something that everyone can see, but they don't want to admit is there. (Note: an elephant is something so big that you should notice it).

(to be) a chip off the old blockA: Jack is a funny guy. He's just like his father! They have the same sense of humour.

B: Yes, he's a chip off the old block.


a person who is similar in character or behavior to their  mother or father

to bark up the wrong treeThe police thought that one of the students at the school had stolen the video camera, but they were barking up the wrong tree. The camera had actually been stolen by a school staff member.


to follow the wrong course; to put your energy or attention into the wrong thing (*when a dog is hunting an animal that has run up a tree, sometimes the dog will bark up the wrong tree. In this case, the animal usually escapes.)

(to be) on the fenceRoger is on the fence about buying a new car. On one hand, he'd rather drive than take the bus to work. On the other hand, owning a car is very expensive. He's not sure what to do.


to be undecided between two options

to go to the ends of the earthJohn's son wanted a special toy for Christmas. John went to the ends of the earth to find it, but unfortunately, the toy wasn't available online or elsewhere.


to make a great effort to achieve or obtain something; to do as much as possible

not my cup of teaHorror movies are not my cup of tea. I prefer action movies or comedies.


used to say that something is not your preference; it is not your choice, or something you like.

an act of GodThe insurance company claimed that the fire, caused by lightening, was an act of god.


a natural disaster, an event outside human control (*phrase often used in insurance)

to let off steamGeorge has a stressful job. After work, he likes to play tennis because it helps him let off steam.


to release stress or anger; (steam = stress/anger.)

saved by the bellJohn was supposed to give a presentation at 3:00, but thankfully for him, the fire alarm rang. He was saved by the bell.


an expression, usually used in school, to say that you didn't have to do something unpleasant because the school bell (or fire bell) rang.

like a fish out of waterWendy felt like a fish out of water on her trip to the Middle East. The women had to cover their faces, arms, and legs, and couldn't drink alcohol. It was hot -- she just wanted to wear shorts and have a cold beer.


someone who is like a fish out of water is someone who feels uncomfortable because they are in an environment that they are not accustomed too. A fish's natural environment is a lake or the ocean; if you take a fish out of water, it will not be comfortable.

Curiosity killed the cat.John suspected that his neighbour had had plastic surgery recently, so he asked her. However, this question made her quite angry and now she won't even talk to him. Curiosity killed the cat.


An expression that means too much curiosity can be dangerous.

to go on and onThe man's speech went on and on. It felt like it would never end. Everyone wanted to go home, but he wouldn't stop talking.


to talk or do something for a long time without stopping (usually something unpleasant, like a boring movie or bad weather).

day by dayMy English is improving day by day. / Day by day, I began to feel comfortable in my new job.


gradually; describing something that slowly changes every day; (also: week by week, year by year)

Rome wasn't built in a day.A: It's going to take forever to write this essay. I have to go to the library, do research, and then write 1500 words!

B: Have patience. Rome wasn't built in a day.


This proverb means that great things take time; or that you cannot achieve something without working on it for some time.

Questions? Cannot find an idiom? Make a request below!


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62 comments on “Useful English Idioms List – Page 2 (Student Requests)

  1. Anonymous (Posted on 6-21-2015 at 04:09) Reply

    French leave
    fan the flame
    find fault with
    get into hot water
    over head and ears
    to pocket and insult

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 6-21-2015 at 12:06) Reply

      I’ve added them to the table above. I didn’t add ‘French leave’ because I had never heard of it. Apparently, it means to ‘leave without permission or telling anyone.’

    2. ashok (Posted on 1-31-2016 at 08:14) Reply

      chicken hearted
      bold from the blue
      burry the hatchet
      himalayan blunder
      burning question

      1. mb Post author (Posted on 1-31-2016 at 11:21) Reply

        Hello. I’ve added burning question to the list above. Bury the hatchet is on the first page, in addition to ‘out of the blue’ which might be related to ‘bold from the blue’ (an expression I’ve never heard). Chicken hearted is not an idiom I’ve heard, but to be a ‘chicken’ is to be a coward, so likely chicken hearted means cowardly. A Himalayan blunder, I imagine, is a large mistake (the Himalayans are huge) or a mistake with terrible consequences. Again, it’s not an idiom I’ve ever used or heard.

  2. Anonymous (Posted on 6-29-2015 at 00:13) Reply

    i want the meaning od the idiom penny wise and pound foolish

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 7-3-2015 at 00:49) Reply

      penny wise and pound foolish describes a person who worries about spending small amounts of money but spends large amounts of money wastefully. This could be, for example, a person who wants you to pay them back 25 cents that you owe him, but that person also spends thousands of dollars on vacations every year. A pound = a British Pound (the currency). He is smart with pennies but foolish with pounds.

  3. Anonymous (Posted on 7-5-2015 at 02:54) Reply

    I wanna knw the meaning of:- A picture paints a thousand words
    A taste of your own medicine
    Actions speak louder than words
    All greek to me
    Beat a dead horse
    Bite off more than you chew
    Cry over spilt milk
    Cry wolf
    Curiosity killed the cat
    Cut to the chase
    Devils advocate
    Dont count your chicken before they hatch
    Drink like a fish
    Every cloud has a silver lining
    Finding your own feet
    Get up on the wrong side of the bed
    Give him the slip
    Go the extra mile
    Head over heels
    Hit the boots
    Gold your horses
    It takes two to tango
    In the heat of the moment
    Its a small world
    Its anyone’s call
    Kick the bucket
    Loose canon
    Mumbo jumbo
    Over my dead body
    Run out of steam
    Smell something fishy
    The whole mine yards
    Tie the knot
    To steal someone’s thunder
    Tongue in check
    Under the weather
    Use your wolf
    Wear your heart on your sleeve
    You are what you eat
    Your guess is as good as mine
    You can’t judge a book by its cover

    1. mb (Posted on 7-6-2015 at 20:05) Reply

      Sorry. There are too many here. I will try to add some of them in the next few days, but I cannot do them all.

  4. anonymous (Posted on 7-13-2015 at 08:54) Reply

    i can not find some idioms can you please tell me
    1.a bed egg day
    3.with open arms
    4.a lame excuse
    5.up to date little by little keep off let down long for
    9.fond of

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 7-17-2015 at 10:59) Reply

      Hello. I’ve added ‘off day’ and ‘with open arms’, ‘bad egg’, and ‘little by little’ to the list. The others are phrasal verbs or non-idioms.

  5. muhibba (Posted on 8-9-2015 at 18:05) Reply

    Please I need this: The man in the street To develop a cold feet

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 8-10-2015 at 12:51) Reply

      Hello. I’ve added cold feet. The man in the street just means ‘the ordinary person’. For example, “big corporations don’t care about the man in the street; they just want to make money.”

  6. nafisat (Posted on 8-17-2015 at 16:41) Reply

    I cannot find the phrase of the following the bushmen holiday

    1. mb (Posted on 8-17-2015 at 22:33) Reply

      I have no idea what that means. I don’t think it’s an idiom.

    2. Marion (Posted on 5-20-2016 at 18:59) Reply

      I think you mean “busman’s holiday”.

      A holiday or vacation during which one does something similar to what one does as work.

  7. Hery (Posted on 11-5-2015 at 07:24) Reply

    Idiom of ;
    1.A mamoth task
    2.Confide in
    3.A slip of tongue

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 11-8-2015 at 12:08) Reply

      1 A mammoth task = a huge task that is difficult to accomplish..
      2 to confide in someone is to trust someone with some information. This is not an idiom. People confide in their lawyers. This means they trust them with confidential information (secrets, etc).

      I’ve added ‘slip of tongue’ to the list above. Thank you.

  8. Aneeq (Posted on 11-11-2015 at 09:37) Reply

    I want the sentence of
    idiom of to be in the same boat

  9. sourav singh kattal (Posted on 12-4-2015 at 21:49) Reply

    I want to know the answer of these phrases:-
    1. Wolf in sheep’s clothing.
    2. Turned the corner.
    3. Up to the mark.
    4. Wild goose chase.
    5. dead letter.

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 12-5-2015 at 01:24) Reply

      I’ve added #1 and #4. I need more context to understand if the other examples are idioms or not.

  10. sindhu (Posted on 12-16-2015 at 10:54) Reply

    To pull out of. What is the meaning of this idiom? And also this page was very helpful for my project. I wish all good things come to you…

    1. mb (Posted on 12-16-2015 at 12:07) Reply

      It probably means to ‘withdraw’. Can you give me an example sentence? I need some context.

  11. sindhu (Posted on 12-16-2015 at 10:59) Reply

    This was very helpful for my project. I wonder that there are so many idioms but our miss told to write only 10. I would have written 1000.

  12. faris (Posted on 1-2-2016 at 09:34) Reply

    Dreams are like stars .But for sure , they will guide you to success just like the stars guide the sailor in the sea

  13. Thomas333639 (Posted on 1-13-2016 at 00:56) Reply

    What is the meaning of “get the ghost.” I’ve heard it before, and it appears in a song by Darden Smith:

    And the Empty pockets, the motel beds
    The Airline tickets, and words better left unsaid
    Strange kisses get the ghost
    And what I miss is what she’ll never know
    And every day, another mountain, another mountain to climb

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 1-13-2016 at 16:23) Reply

      It’s not an idiom I know. It could be inversion (an inverted sentence), and thus mean ‘The ghost gets strange kisses’.

  14. Raja (Posted on 5-10-2016 at 00:56) Reply

    I wanna know the example of following idioms .
    1.Once in a blue moon .
    2.An Apple of discord
    3. Bring into book

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 5-10-2016 at 20:37) Reply

      Hello. I’ve added ‘once in a blue moon’. It is a useful idiom. An ‘apple of discord’ is something that causes distrust or jealousy. I’m not sure what ‘bring into book’ means. I haven’t added the latter two idioms as they are rare or unfamiliar in my opinion. Thanks for the question.

  15. jamtsho (Posted on 5-24-2016 at 21:06) Reply

    To eat a crow

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 5-24-2016 at 22:43) Reply

      I had never heard this idiom, but from what I can learn online, ‘to eat crow’ means to admit that you’ve made a mistake. Often this can involve suffering humiliation. For example, on New Years of 1999, some people thought the world was going to end. However, the next day, it didn’t. These people were forced to eat crow.

  16. Najah (Posted on 5-27-2016 at 10:32) Reply

    To set the Thames on fire
    Plz help!

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 5-27-2016 at 11:27) Reply

      The Thames is a large river that runs through London. This is not an expression I’ve ever used, but, according to the web, it means to do something amazing or remarkable (setting a river on a fire would indeed be amazing). For example: “He doesn’t have the power to be a leader; he will never set the Thames on fire.”

  17. Ruby (Posted on 5-30-2016 at 06:23) Reply

    To be left stranded
    Ships that pass in the night
    When one’s ship comes home
    Shipshape and bristol fashion

    Plz help with make sentences

    1. Ruby (Posted on 5-30-2016 at 10:39) Reply

      Plz help with – when ones ship comes home and ships that pass I could do the others.

      1. mb Post author (Posted on 5-30-2016 at 14:52) Reply

        “Ships that pass in the night” or “when one’s ship comes home” could be literal expressions that mean exactly what they say. They could also be used like a similie, for example, “We walked passed each other silently, like ships that pass in the night.” They are not idioms that I have heard. “To be left stranded” is a useful expression although it is not really an idiom. To be stranded is to be abandoned; to be left alone. “My friends left me stranded at the party” — this means they left you there alone.

  18. mike (Posted on 6-14-2016 at 15:20) Reply

    the sparrow speaks from the housetop

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 6-15-2016 at 02:41) Reply

      I have not heard this idiom, nor does it seem to exist on Google. Sorry I cannot be of more assistance, Mike.

  19. bayan (Posted on 8-13-2016 at 22:42) Reply

    light fingered person

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 8-14-2016 at 20:18) Reply

      a light-fingered person is someone who is dexterous (good with their hands). Often this describes someone who is good at stealing things (e.g. a pickpocket).

  20. Federica Uras (Posted on 8-28-2016 at 12:00) Reply

    Could please someone explain the meaning of this expression: ” I’m through with you!”. Thanks a lot. Fede

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 8-28-2016 at 13:12) Reply

      In this sentence, ‘through’ means ‘done/finished’. This expression is something a girlfriend would say to a man when she breaks up with him. “I’m through with you! I’m leaving!” The is done dealing with her ex-boyfriend. She is finished with him.

  21. Angelica (Posted on 10-16-2016 at 06:08) Reply

    Please help me I need the meaning of these idioms:

    On your best convenience

    An act of god

    Cup of tea

    Thank you so much!

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 10-16-2016 at 12:09) Reply

      Hello. I’ve added ‘an act of god’ and ‘cup of tea’. ‘On your best convenience’ probably means ‘At your most convenient time’; however, it’s not a phrase I’ve used.

  22. Anonymous (Posted on 11-21-2016 at 19:47) Reply

    ” Some of the idioms that have been given on me weren’t here! 1. Pig out 2. Bee in her bonnet 3. But a bug in his ears 4. Hot dog 5. Curiosity kills a cat 6. Fish out of water.

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 11-24-2016 at 14:48) Reply

      Hello. #1 is a phrasal verb that means to eat a lot. #4 is a type of food. I’ve added #5 and 6 above.

  23. Gayathri (Posted on 11-28-2016 at 23:23) Reply

    Please find the idiom all the best

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 11-29-2016 at 01:18) Reply

      This is not really an idiom. It is often used when closing a message. “All the best” means “I wish you well” or “I hope you do well” in the future.
      All the best,

  24. Bhoomika (Posted on 1-3-2017 at 06:38) Reply

    I didnt get my phrases that i want
    On and on
    In the night
    Day by day
    Into the sky
    Full of dreams

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 1-3-2017 at 13:21) Reply

      I’ve added ‘on and on’ and ‘day by day’. The other phrases don’t seem like idioms (they are English words in their original meaning).

  25. Candy (Posted on 9-5-2017 at 10:08) Reply

    Can you please tell me what are the meanings of:
    1. Bone for the Brutes
    2. Greedy dogs of Society
    3. Dragonflies of their dreams
    4. Wear a straightjacket

    Thanks in advance ^^

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 9-5-2017 at 20:41) Reply

      Hello. Those are not common idioms. However, I would guess that to give ‘a bone to the brutes’ is the same as ‘to give a dog a bone’, which means to give something to someone, not because you want to, but because you know they need it. For example, a politician might not care about the lower class of society (the brutes), but he still might ‘give them a bone’ (a treat, such as a holiday or a small tax break) to satisfy them occasionally. The other phrases sound like metaphors, which would only make sense in the context of where you came across them.

  26. ma (Posted on 9-11-2017 at 10:50) Reply

    ‘easy way out to the mountains’

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 9-14-2017 at 01:43) Reply

      This is not an idiom, but perhaps a metaphor. The mountains could mean ‘trouble/difficulty’. so, the ‘easy way out of the mountains’ would be ‘the easy way to solve our difficulty’. That’s my guess.

  27. Johnny (Posted on 9-27-2017 at 15:44) Reply

    What a great list
    Thank you
    I wish you did a list of all the proverbs we would need to understand and communicate effectively with native speakers. I’ve found plenty of long, useless and not well explained lists full with proverbs that no body uses or knows…

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 9-27-2017 at 23:50) Reply

      Great idea, Johnny! I’ll add it to my ‘to do list’. It could be a useful page.

  28. park jimin (Posted on 8-9-2018 at 10:34) Reply

    Can’t find this word
    Rome wasn’t built in a day

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 8-9-2018 at 13:16) Reply

      I’ve added it to the bottom of the table above.

  29. the one kid who knows all idioms (hopefully soon) (Posted on 4-10-2022 at 12:51) Reply

    Hey, I don’t have a question or idioms I want to know the meaning of but simply wanted to take a brief moment to thank you for taking the time and providing such an awesome help for people all over the globe. I am currently learning English in school and I decided to take things more seriously. What I want to say is that your work is really appreciated :)

    1. the same guy (Posted on 4-10-2022 at 12:57) Reply

      Damn it. On a second thought, I have one request. Is there any chance that I could have the excel-file of the list if there is any? I learn my vocabs with an app which is able to import excel-files and manually copying all 200 idioms will take its time…

  30. mb (Posted on 4-10-2022 at 14:11) Reply

    Hello. Glad to hear that you’ve found it useful. I don’t have a spreadsheet handy that I can provide for the idiom list. Sorry about that. Best of luck with your question to become the kid who knows all idioms!

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