Idioms are an important part of casual English conversation. This post will be a great resource as you try to increase your knowledge of common English idioms.
An Idiom is a collection of words whose meaning it’s different than the meaning of the words by themselves.
The Idiom “Break a leg” Means “Good Luck.” It doesn’t mean that I want you to really break your leg.
Learn what an idiom is and learn 24 Common idioms from 24 different categories. Each of the 24 groups has a link to its own Idiom blog collection post. Keep reading.
What are idioms?
An Idiom is a group of words whose meaning is different from the meanings of the individual words. For example:
To steal someone’s thunder is to draw attention to your own accomplishment while someone else is talking about something they have done.
“I was planning to announce my engagement tonight at dinner but my younger brother just got accepted to University. What bad timing, this kind of stole my thunder.”
idiom noun – OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com
Idiom Word Origin
late 16th cent.: from French idiome, or via late Latin from Greek idiōma ‘private property, peculiar phraseology’, from idiousthai ‘make one’s own’, from idios ‘own, private’.
Idioms can be hard to understand for non-native English speakers because the group of words takes on a different meaning.
Use idioms to sound more like a native speaker
Using idioms in conversation will help you sound more like a native speaker. These are common expressions that you are likely to hear in English songs, movies, and TV shows.
Using common idioms is also a great way to boost your confidence.
Improve your confidence, improve your communication.
Since I have been writing this blog I have put together 24 different Idiom posts with different themes.
(I am writing this post in November 2022 – Even more Idiom blog posts are coming in the future!)
I’ve chosen one common idiom from each of the 24 posts. After each Idiom, you will find a link to the blog post that it came from, from there you can check each individual post to learn even more helpful English idioms.
24 Common English Idioms
Over one’s head – beyond one’s ability to understand
- “The engineers started talking about things that were over my head so I excused myself and went back to my office.”
Learn 25 Body Part idioms – Speak like a native (PDF download)
Break the ice – To say or do something to help start a conversation with a stranger or someone you just met.
- “I like to break the ice with someone I just met. I compliment them on their style or fashion. This is a great way to help people relax around you.”
29 Common English Weather Idioms (Real examples you can use)
Beef up – to make something bigger, better, more interesting, etc.
- “The hotel has to beef up security before the president arrives next month.”
16 Common Cow Idioms (That You Can Start Using Today
Get a monkey off your back – to free yourself of something that causes you to worry or difficulty.
- “After 20 years I will finally pay off my mortgage next month. It’ll be great to get that monkey off my back. Now I can think about early retirement.”
16 Common Monkey Idioms (Definitions + Examples)
- Pull out all the stops – To make something the best it can possibly be, to use all available resources to make something special.
- “The party was amazing Catherine, you really pulled out all the stops.”
Learn Common English Idioms with Stop (30 example sentences)
Dragon lady – A woman who is powerful and controlling.
- “The new boss seemed like a real Dragon lady at first, but she is really quite nice now that I’ve gotten to know her.”
Dragon Idioms – 8 Common uses (Real example sentences)
Snake oil – something, for example, medicine, that somebody tries to sell you, but that is not effective or useful
- “The doctor has been accused of selling snake oil to unsuspecting people. I never trusted that guy.”
Idioms with Snake (Double Meanings and Example sentences)
Beat a dead horse – To waste time doing something that has already been tried.
- “I’ve asked my boss for a raise 4 times already he always says ‘NO.’ I want to ask him again this year but I feel like I’m beating a dead horse.”
21 Common Horse Idioms (Meaning and Example Sentences)
A sweet tooth – If someone has a sweet tooth it means they love cookies, cakes, and candy. Anything sweet.
- “My uncle Lance has a sweet tooth. He always keeps chocolate bars in his desk drawer, for emergencies.”
Idioms with the word Sweet (Over 20 Real Example Sentences)
A nest egg – money you have put away for the future, usually for your retirement. It’s money you have saved to use when you eventually stop working later in your life.
- “Walter was finding it hard to build a nest egg with his current income. He thinks it may be time to start looking for a better job with higher pay.”
14 Idioms with EGG (Learn Fast with Real Example Sentences)
Jump at the chance (To Do Something) – This means to take an opportunity that is presented to you.
- “When Lennox offered me a job to work in the county parks this summer I jumped at the chance. Working outside and saving money for school is great for me.”
21 Common Idioms with JUMP (Start using them today!)
Health is better than wealth – Being healthy is more important than being rich. Don’t sacrifice your health to make more money
- “Wendell has been making himself sick working two jobs and not taking time for himself. Someone needs to remind him that health is better than wealth.”
21 Idioms with HEALTH and WELLNESS (Real Examples)
Dust bunny – A collection of dust that forms under a hard-to-reach place
- “Can you help me move the couch so I can vacuum under it? I’m sure there are lots of dust bunnies hiding down there.”
18 Idioms With RABBIT (Real Examples, Sound Like A Native)
Bite your head off – To suddenly shout at somebody in an angry way for no good reason
- “Keep away from Louise today, she’s in a bad mood. I just walked past the break room and saw her biting Collin’s head off.”
74 Idioms and Phrasal Verbs with OFF (With Real Examples)
Head over heels in love with someone. This means the love we feel is very strong. The love is so strong that we flip, our head goes over our heels.
- “It was only our third date but I could feel myself falling head over heels for her.”
23 Common English Idioms about LOVE (Free PDF download)
Chicken feed – This means a small amount of money. Chickens eat grains of cereal that are very small.
- “The fine was $10,000.00. That’s chicken feed to a huge company like that.”
Idiom$ About MONEY (120 Common English Financial Idioms
Take the heat – To take the blame; to be the focus of anger or scrutiny; to take the consequences.
- “My boss isn’t happy with our project, I am the senior member of the team so I took the heat.”
Take the Heat meaning (Plus more Heat Idioms just for you)
Black market – a place or system where things are sold illegally
- “There is a large black market for exotic pets in big cities. You can buy spiders, snakes, and other exotic animals illegally to keep as pets.”
30 Idioms with Colors that Native Speakers Really use! (PDF)
Pig out (on something) – to eat too much of something at one time.
- “After Halloween, my brother and I always pigged out on our candy.”
10 Idioms with PIG (Learn FAST with pictures and examples)
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks – This idiom means it is difficult to make someone change the way they do something. Especially when they have been doing it the same way for a long time.
- “Do you want to teach your grandfather to use a computer? He is 84. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, you know.”
10 Common Dog Idioms That Native Speakers use (Real Examples)
Quiet as a mouse – I bet you can imagine this idiom’s meaning already. It means very quiet.
- “I got home at 2 am on Wednesday. I didn’t want to wake up my roommates because they have to work Thursday morning. When I got home I was quiet as a mouse.”
10 Common Idioms with Rats and Mice (Real example sentences)
Be down on your luck - to have no money because of a period of bad luck
- “Mike lost his job and doesn’t have much money now. He‘s really down on his luck.”
Idioms with LUCK – Do you know all 20? (Video+PDF)
A walk in the park – something is not hard to do, it’s very easy.
- “Our team won the game 7 to zero. The match was a walk in the park.”
English idioms – A walk in the park (10 real examples)
Paper tiger – Someone who is a paper tiger acts strong (like a tiger) but they are actually weak (made of paper).
- “Don’t let Dennis scare you, he talks tough but he’s just a paper tiger.”
7 Idioms with TIGER (Infographic, videos)
Eyes in the back of one’s head – the ability to know what happens when one’s back is turned
- “The teacher always knows what is going on in the classroom. She must have eyes in the back of her head.