33 Useful English Idiomatic Expressions & Their Meanings
Unsplash: Alan Zimmerman
They say that the sun belongs to everyone. They also say that the moon belongs to everyone. And that the best things in life are free. Well, sorta. Surely, there are many things in life that cost an arm and a leg. However, there are also things in life that are free. One of the best things in life that’s free is words. Words that we use. Words that we say. Words that we write. Words that we sing. Words that we scream. Sometimes, when we combine particular words, they form something that means something. For example, when you combine the words cost + arm + and + a + leg = this would refer to something very expensive. It definitely sounds like a funky combination, but the expression works just fine. This type of expression is known as an idiom or idiomatic expression in English.
There are plenty of idiomatic expressions in the English language. And they are used to explain, describe, and talk about everything under the sun. Oh, the phrase “everything under the sun” is also an idiom that describes everything that exists. Let’s be honest, that colorful expression makes a lot of sense. But would you say the same after hearing the phrase “it is raining cats and dogs” which again sounds silly because rain is water droplets, not animals? Scroll below and find out what “raining cats and dogs” and more idiomatic expressions mean
- It costs an arm and a leg
Meaning: something very expensive
Example: His new Jaeger-LeCoultre watch costs an arm and a leg.
- A dime a dozen
Meaning: something that happens very commonly
Example: Those Hubba Bubba gums were a dime a dozen at the old corner store.
- Call it a day
Meaning: time to stop working
Example: After her meeting with the executives, Samantha told everyone in the office to call it a day.
- Break a leg
Meaning: good luck
Example: The team shouted "break a leg" about ten minutes before the show.
- Beat around the bush
Meaning: avoid saying what you actually mean
Example: Don't beat around the bush again. This time, just tell him how you feel.
- Hit the sack
Meaning: to go to bed
Example: It's already 9 o'clock, so it is time for Tootsie to hit the sack.
- Once in a blue moon
Example: Once in a blue moon, Robert plays the banjo outside his house.
- Saving for a rainy day
Meaning: save money for later
Example: Set your money aside and save it for a rainy day.
- As right as rain
Meaning: in great condition
Example: After my beach vacation, I felt refreshed, rejuvenated, and as right as rain.
- Burn bridges
Meaning: ruin relationships
Example: If you do that, you're going to burn bridges and you're going to regret it.
- Leave no stone unturned
Meaning: to keep trying until you find a solution to the problem or achieve something
Example: The investigation was done diligently as the detectives left no stone unturned in their search for the missing evidence.
- Like two peas in a pod
Meaning: really similar to one another
Example: They've been like two peas in a pod ever since they met each other.
- Time is money
Meaning: to use time wisely
Example: The construction project deadline is approaching, so we need to work efficiently because time is money.
- On cloud nine
Meaning: feeling very happy
Example: Charlotte was immediately on cloud nine when she heard that Franklin won two tickets for the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix.
- Run like the wind
Meaning: to be very fast
Example: The sprinter took off and ran like the wind as soon as the race started.
- Eat like a horse
Meaning: to eat a large amount of food
Example: Patrick always eats like a horse at the buffet.
- Take a rain check
Meaning: postponing and rescheduling something
Example: Louise called just now and asked to take a rain check.
- Like a cakewalk
Meaning: very simple and easy
Example: Climbing that trail was like a cakewalk for the seasoned hiker.
- Fish out of water
Meaning: feeling uncomfortable and different in a specific situation
Example: Transferring to a new school in a new town can make you feel like a fish out of water.
- Spill the beans
Meaning: reveal a secret
Example: Mom accidentally spilled the beans about the surprise vacation to my sister.
- A second wind
Meaning: a renewal of energy so you can carry on doing something
Example: After a short break and a cup of coffee, I found a second wind to continue working on my project late into the night.
- Hit the books
Meaning: to study
Example: Exam season is approaching soon, so the students are getting ready to hit the books.
- Ship has sailed
Meaning: the chance has already passed
Example: With all the tickets sold out, Serena realized that the ship had sailed on her chance to attend the highly anticipated Taylor Swift concert.
- A piece of cake
Meaning: something that can be done easily
Example: According to the twins, this jigsaw puzzle is a piece of cake.
- Cool as a cucumber
Meaning: very calm and relaxed
Example: Holly is as cool as a cucumber even though she just lost her goldfish.
- Go cold turkey
Meaning: to completely stop something right away
Example: To reduce his sugar intake, Mark decided to go cold turkey and cut out all desserts and sugary snacks from his diet.
- A penny for your thoughts
Meaning: share what's on your mind
Example: Hey, you are looking serious. Penny for your thoughts?
- Under the weather
Meaning: feeling unwell or sick
Example: I'm feeling under the weather right now. I really don't think I can make it.
- Go bananas
Meaning: go crazy
Example: This loud music is making the crying baby go bananas.
- Lose your marbles
Meaning: becoming insane
Example: Paul is going to lose his marbles when he finds out about his broken vase.
- Spice things up
Meaning: making something more interesting
Example: You need to spice things up for the next trivia night.
- Raining cats and dogs
Meaning: raining very hard
Example: It's raining cats and dogs and my new puppy is very scared.
- Feeling blue
Meaning: feeling sad
Example: I'm not sure if it's the leaves falling or the wind blowing, but I'm sorta feeling blue.