List of Common Idioms Arranged in Categories

1.MOTHER Idioms

 

  • A mama’s boy

E.g. I thought I loved him until I realized he was a momma’s boy who can’t do anything without his mother’s permission or approval.

  • At your mother’s knee

E.g. I learned how to bake at my mother’s knee when I was just a girl.

  • Everyone and his mother

E.g. I’m so jealous, everyone and his mother is going on a vacation this summer except for me.

  • A mother hen

E.g. Jenny can be a bit of a mother hen when we’re out at the bars.

  • Be tied to (one’s) mother’s apron strings

E.g. Can you make a decision on your own, or are you tied to your mother’s apron strings?

  • Like mother, like daughter

E.g. My mother loved sweets, and everytime my father saw me with a cookie in my hand, he would sigh, “Like mother,like daughter.

  • The mother of all (something)

E.g. Wow, that is the mother of all sandwiches.It’s a foot high!

  • Mother Nature

E.g. Look at all the wonders that Mother Nature provides, from fruit and vegetables to beautiful mountains and oceans.

  • A face only a mother could love

E.g. The poor baby has a face only a mother could love.

  • Expectant mother

E.g. I know the subway’s crowded, but you should really give your seat to the expectant mother standing by the door…

2. PEOPLE Idioms

  • Born optimist

Eg: I admire Jamal because he always sees the sunny side of life. He’s a born optimist.

  • Culture vulture

Eg: John spends most of his weekends reading books or attending art exhibitions. He’s a real culture vulture.

  • Eager beaver

Eg: She always does her English grammar homework and even asks for extra exercises on the weekend. What an eager beaver!

  • Early bird

Eg: In her senior years, when she finally had the luxurious freedom to sleep in, Delores became an early bird and got up every morning at 5:00 am.

  • Earth mother

Eg: Even as a young girl, Ida showed herself to be an earth mother. She always helped her mother to look after her younger brothers and sisters.

  • Family man

Eg: Since the birth of his twins, Harvey has become a family man. He spends all of his spare time with his children.

  • Go-getter

Eg: It isn’t surprising that Isaac has made it to the top of the corporate world. He was always someone who went after what he wanted, a real go-getter.

  • Good egg

Eg: Marry was the type of person who would have helped anyone – a real good egg.

  • Jack-of-all-trades

Eg: From auto repair to hairdressing, Frank can do it all. He is a jack-of-all-trades.

  • Man of his word / woman of her word

Eg: You can trust Samuel. He is a man of his word…

3. FRUIT Idioms

  • The apple of your eye

E.g. She has three children, but her youngest son is the apple of her eye.

  • Go bananas

E.g. She’ll go bananas if she sees the house in this (dirty) condition.

  • A bite at the cherry

E.g. He definitely wants a bite of the cherry.

  • Not give a fig

E.g. You can do what you want. I don’t give a fig.

  • Apples and oranges

E.g. My mom and my mother-in-law are just apples and oranges.

  • Lemon

E.g. The car dealer sold me a lemon.

  • Peach

E.g. You brought me coffee? Ah, you’re a peach.

  • Go pear-shaped

E.g. What are we going to do this weekend if our plans go pear-shaped?

  • A plum job

E.g. He got a plum job in an insurance company.

  • The apple never falls far from the tree

E.g. Her daughter soon showed her own musical talent, proving that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

  • Bad apple (especially US)

E.g. It is hoped the inquiry will pick out the bad apples in the police force…

4. LOVE Idioms

  • Fall In Love With Somebody

Eg: I think I’m falling in love with my best friend. What should I do?

  • Love At First Sight

Eg: My wife and I met at a party. It was love at first sight.

  • Be An Item

Eg: I didn’t know Chris and Sue were an item. They didn’t even look at each other at dinner.

  • Match Made In Heaven

Eg: “Do you think Matt and Amanda will get married?” – “I hope they will. They’re a match made in heaven.”

  • Be Head Over Heels (In Love)

Eg: Look at them. They’re head over heels in love with each other.

  • Be Lovey-Dovey

Eg: I don’t want to go out with Jenny and David. They’re so lovey-dovey, I just can’t stand it.

  • Blinded By Love

Eg: She is so blinded by love that she can’t see him for who he truly is. He is not a good person, he is rude and disrespectful to everyone around him, including her.

  • Blind Date

Eg: My sister keeps organising blind dates for me. She’d just love to fix me up with someone.

  • Tie The Knot

Eg: “When are you and Jenny going to tie the knot?” – “This year, but we haven’t set a date yet.”

  • Love Rat

Eg: Don’t even think about asking Jane out. How could you look your wife in the eye? Don’t be a love rat…

5. BOOK Idioms

  • A closed book

Eg: I’m a scientist, so art will always be a closed book to me.

  • An open book

Eg: Ask me anything, I’m an open book.

  • Read someone like a book

Eg: There are a number of books on the market which suggest that it is possible to learn to read a person like a book.

  • The oldest trick in the book

Eg: Look, you can fix it by threading a paper clip through the hole. Oldest trick in the book!

  • In someone’s good books

Eg: I cleaned the bathroom yesterday so I’m in Mum’s good books.

  • By the book

Eg: The lawyers want to make sure we’ve done everything strictly by the book.

  • Bring someone to book

Eg: Police should be asked to investigate so that the guilty can be brought to book soon.

  • Take a leaf out of someone’s book

Eg: I think I’m going to take a leaf out of your book and start going for a run first thing in the morning.

  • Don’t judge a book by its cover

Eg: The candidate did not look very intelligent, but you can’t judge a book by its cover.

  • Cook the books

Eg: My partner had been cooking the books for years, but because I was the CEO, I got the blame for our company’s collapse…

6. CAT Idioms

  • Has the cat got your tongue?

Meaning: Why are you not saying anything?

  • Put the cat among the pigeons

Meaning: Say or do something that causes trouble or controversy

  • Like the cat that got the cream

Meaning: Looking particularly self-satisfied, often to the annoyance of others

  • Let the cat out of the bag

Meaning: Mistakingly allow a secret to be known

  • Fight like cat and dog

Meaning: Continually arguing with each other

  • When the cat’s away, the mice will play

Meaning: When the person of authority is away, people will behave badly

  • Fat cat

Meaning: A negative description of a rich and powerful person

  • Curiosity killed the cat

Meaning: Being too curious can get you into trouble

  • Not have a cat in hell’s chance

Meaning: When some something has no chance of success, it doesn’t have a cat in hell’s chance.

  • Look like something the cat dragged in

Meaning: When someone looks very untidy and messy, they look like something the cat dragged in…

7. WEATHER Idioms

  • A storm in a teacup

Eg: Our argument was no big deal – just a storm in a tea cup

  • It never rains but it pours

Eg: I lost my wallet and now I’ve lost my phone. It never rains but it pours!

  • Take a rain check

Eg: No thanks. I’ll take the rain check. Enjoy the party!

  • Be snowed under

Eg: I’m snowed under with work. I’ve got so much to do.

  • Be/feel under the weather

Eg: I can’t finish my work today. I feel under the weather.

  • Have your head in the clouds

Eg: I can’t talk sense into him. He has his head in the cloud.

  • Soak up the sun

Eg: Let’s go out and soak up some sun

  • Catch some rays

Eg: yesterday, I lay on the beach and catch some rays.

  • Dog days of the summer

Eg: It has been at least 50 degrees every day this week!. The dog days of summer are here!

  • On cloud nine

Eg: When my boyfriend proposed to me, I was on cloud nine.

  • In the dark

Eg: I was kept in the dark about the intervention until a few minutes before it was a reality.

  • Heavens open

Eg: Let’s come back soon before the heavens open!…

8. COUNTRY Idioms

  • Take French leave

Eg: The driver had taken French leave

  • To go Dutch

Eg: Sally said she wouldn’t let a man pay for her meal on a first date. She prefers to go Dutch.

  • Dutch courage

Eg: I think I’ll have a glass of whiskey for Dutch courage before I ask that girl if she wants to dance with me.

  • It’s all Greek to me

Eg: I tried to watch a TV show about physics last night, but I gave up. It was all Greek to me.

  • Chinese whispers

Eg: All this talk about the President resigning is just Chinese whispers. There’s no truth to this rumour at all.

  • A Mexican Standoff

Eg: There seems to be a Mexican standoff in the talks as neither the buyer or seller can agree on a price.

  • When in Rome (do as Romans do)

Eg: I don’t love cotton candy, but we are at a carnival. When in Rome, right?

  • Talk for England

Eg: I’m so sorry I’m late. I couldn’t get away from Linda. She can talk for England!

  • Indian Summer (UK)

Eg: Much as I love this Indian Summer,  I wish we had this warm weather in the summer rather than in October…

9. NUMBER Idioms

  • All in one piece

E.g. He got home from the party all in one piece.

  • Back to square one

E.g. The project failed, we’re back to square one.

  • Have one too many

E.g. I can’t drive, I had one too many.

  • On cloud nine

E.g. When my mom bought me a computer, I was on cloud nine.

  • One for the road

E.g. Let’s have one for the road!

  • Six feet under

E.g. I’m going to be six feet under by 2100.

  • Ten to one

E.g. Ten to one I’m going to win.

  • Kill two birds with one stone.

E.g. I’ll drop you off on the way to work, we’ll kill two birds with one stone.

  • A million and one

E.g. I have a million and one ideas…

10. HUMAN BODY Idioms

  • Head start

E.g. You’ve got a head start over / another’s trying to get the job because you’ve got relevant work experience.

  • Sight for sore eyes

E.g. You’re a sight for sore eyes!

  • A weight off your shoulders

E.g. Talking over my problem with my close friend was a weight off my shoulders.

  • Pain in the neck

E.g. This calculus homework is a real pain in the neck.

  • Gut feeling

E.g. Jennifer’s mother had a gut feeling that something was wrong when her daughter wasn’t home by 10 o’clock.

  • Hands are tied

E.g. I’d like to raise people’s salaries but my hands are tied.

  • Joined at the hip

E.g. Amy and her boss were joined at the hip; you never saw one without the other.

  • Week at the knees

E.g. The thought of kissing him made me go weak at the knees.

  • Achilles heel

E.g. Maths has always been my achilles heel.

  • Find your feet

E.g. Did it take you long to find your feet when you started your new job?

11. TIME Idioms

  • Buy time

E.g. She is just stalling to buy time.

  • Do time

E.g. He did time in a California prison.

  • A race against time/the clock

E.g. It’s a race against time to complete the construction.

  • A whale of a time

E.g. The kids had a whale of a time at the theme park.

  • Time flies

E.g. Look how fast our children grew up, how time flies.

  • It’s high time

E.g. It’s high time he met with me to resolve this issue.

  • Third time’s a charm

E.g. I had to ask her out three times before she said yes. Well you know… Third time’s a charm.

  • Beat the clock

E.g. Although she was late to the exam, she managed to beat the clock and finished all of it 10 minutes before the end.

  • Better late than never

E.g. Well hello John. Better late than never, huh? Class started half an hour ago.

  • At the eleventh hour

E.g. We barely made the deadline, there was so much to do in this project we turned it in at the eleventh hour…

 

Skip to toolbar