33 Useful English Idiomatic Expressions & Their Meanings

26 June 2023
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Japanese House
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

    1. It costs an arm and a leg
      Meaning: something very expensive
      Example: His new Jaeger-LeCoultre watch costs an arm and a leg.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Break a leg
      Meaning: good luck
      Example: The team shouted "break a leg" about ten minutes before the show.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Once in a blue moon
      Meaning: rarely
      Example: Once in a blue moon, Robert plays the banjo outside his house.
    8. Saving for a rainy day
      Meaning: save money for later
      Example: Set your money aside and save it for a rainy day.
    9. As right as rain
      Meaning: in great condition
      Example: After my beach vacation, I felt refreshed, rejuvenated, and as right as rain.
    10. Burn bridges
      Meaning: ruin relationships
      Example: If you do that, you're going to burn bridges and you're going to regret it.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
    15. 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.
    16. Eat like a horse
      Meaning: to eat a large amount of food
      Example: Patrick always eats like a horse at the buffet.
    17. Take a rain check
      Meaning: postponing and rescheduling something
      Example: Louise called just now and asked to take a rain check.
    18. Like a cakewalk
      Meaning: very simple and easy
      Example: Climbing that trail was like a cakewalk for the seasoned hiker.
    19. 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.
    20. Spill the beans
      Meaning: reveal a secret
      Example: Mom accidentally spilled the beans about the surprise vacation to my sister.
    21. 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.
    22. Hit the books
      Meaning: to study
      Example: Exam season is approaching soon, so the students are getting ready to hit the books.
    23. 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.
    24. A piece of cake
      Meaning: something that can be done easily
      Example: According to the twins, this jigsaw puzzle is a piece of cake.
    25. Cool as a cucumber
      Meaning: very calm and relaxed
      Example: Holly is as cool as a cucumber even though she just lost her goldfish.
    26. 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.
    27. A penny for your thoughts
      Meaning: share what's on your mind
      Example: Hey, you are looking serious. Penny for your thoughts?
    28. 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.
    29. Go bananas
      Meaning: go crazy
      Example: This loud music is making the crying baby go bananas.
    30. Lose your marbles
      Meaning: becoming insane
      Example: Paul is going to lose his marbles when he finds out about his broken vase.
    31. Spice things up
      Meaning: making something more interesting
      Example: You need to spice things up for the next trivia night.
    32. Raining cats and dogs
      Meaning: raining very hard
      Example: It's raining cats and dogs and my new puppy is very scared.
    33. 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.