This post is a collection of 25 commonly used English idioms with body parts. With fun images and examples to help you remember them and use them later.
25 Common English Idioms with Body Parts
- Get one’s head in the game
- Keep one’s head above water
- Over one’s head
- Head and shoulders (above something/someone)
- Have a chip on one’s shoulder
- Stand on someone’s shoulders
- Looking over one’s shoulder
- A shoulder to cry on
- Elbow grease
- Rub elbows with (someone)
- Live hand to mouth
- Have one’s fingers in many pies
- Can’t stomach something
- Butterflies in one’s stomach
- One’s eyes are bigger than my stomach
- The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach
- Practically joined at the hip
- Shoot from the hip
- (Cost) An arm and a leg
- Be on its last legs
In this post, all idioms have natural example sentences, PLUS you will find a video and a 14-page PDF download at the bottom of this post. Keep reading.
Table of Contents
English idioms with Body Parts – HEAD
Get one’s head in the game – This means to focus. It is often said to people who have made an error due to a lack of concentration.
- This report is full of errors and the boss needs it by 5:00. You need to get your head in the game if you want to finish on time.
Keep one’s head above water – This is used when you are trying to deal with difficulties. Often with money.
- The company is not making enough money right now. We are barely keeping our heads above water.
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.
Head and shoulders (above something/someone) – much better or to a higher degree
- A: I think Helen should get the promotion.
- B: I agree. She is head and shoulders above the rest.
English idioms with Body Parts – SHOULDERS
Have a chip on one’s shoulder – if someone has a chip on their shoulder it means they have a bad attitude and are easy to get angry
- Travis is very angry today. He seems to have a chip on his shoulder.
Stand on someone’s shoulders – to progress or do well in a field because of others who have done work or made discoveries in the past
- I stand on the shoulders of those who came before me and I want to thank them for all their work.
Looking over your shoulder – to be worried about what is behind you or watching over you
- Eric may have escaped the police for now, but he will be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life.
- My boss is always looking over my shoulder. It’s very irritating.
A shoulder to cry on – someone who will listen to you and support you in a time of difficulty.
- It sounds like a difficult time. You can always count on me for a shoulder to cry on.
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English idioms with ARMS and HANDS
Elbow grease – effort from doing physical work
- There’s a lot of rust on my old bicycle. With a little elbow grease, I can clean it up and have it looking like new.
Rub elbows with (someone) – to spend time with or around people who are rich or famous
- I brought my girlfriend to a wrap (finish) party for the movie “Dawn of the Dead.” She could rub elbows with some actors and meet the director.
Live hand to mouth – This is used to describe a way of living where someone has just enough money to pay for food and rent with each paycheck. They have no money saved in the bank.
- The COVID-19 pandemic was hard on everyone. Especially those living hand to mouth.
Have one’s fingers in many pies – to be involved in many things at once
- I don’t have any time to relax. I’ve got my fingers in too many pies right now.
English idioms with Body Parts – STOMACH
Can’t stomach (someone/something) – the inability to handle or tolerate someone/something
- That politician is very dishonest. I can’t stomach his lies.
Butterflies in my stomach – feeling nervous
- I always get butterflies in my stomach when I speak to a large crowd.
My eyes were bigger than my stomach – You thought you could eat more than you actually could
- I should not have ordered the double cheeseburger set. It looked so delicious on the menu but I guess my eyes were bigger than my stomach.
The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – If you want to make a man happy give him good food.
- My mother was a great cook and my Dad loved her food. She always told me the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
English idioms with HIPS, LEGS, FEET
(Practically) joined at the hip – always together
- My older brother and I were very close when we were younger and we did everything together. In elementary school, we were practically joined at the hip.
Shoot from the hip – to act or react without carefully thinking about the effects of your action
- Jeremy likes to shoot from the hip, but it often gets him into trouble.
Be on (its) last legs – to be almost physically finished, unable to perform anymore. About to die.
- My air conditioner is on its last legs. I guess I better start saving for a new one.
(Cost) an arm and a leg – be very expensive
- That’s a good idea. New air conditioners cost an arm and a leg!
Leg work (sometimes legwork – one word) – the physical work that comes with a task or project.
- Great blog posts don’t write themselves. You have to do the research for your readers and format the information so that it is easy to understand. You must put in the leg work.
(one’s) tail between (one’s) legs – showing that you are embarrassed or ashamed. Often after being defeated by a stronger opponent.
- He is just a bully. If you stand up to him he will run away with his tail between his legs.
Get a foot in the door – a first chance that can lead to more opportunities.
- I got hired as an intern after university. The pay is not good but I’m happy to get my foot in the door with this company.
Off on the right wrong foot – have a or bad first experience with a new person
- Don’t talk politics with a new friend. That way you can avoid getting off on the wrong foot.
Put one’s foot down – take a firm position on something that will not change
- My wife keeps saying that we need to buy a new TV but I put my foot down. There are more important things to spend our money on.
BONUS! Neck of the Woods
One of my private students asked me a great question then I thought deserved to be part of this idiom list.
My student asked me “What does neck of the woods mean?” (He heard it in a movie.)
Neck of the woods means a certain area or location. This expression is often used with the pronouns this and my.
- Hi Diane, I didn’t expect to see you here. What are you doing in this neck of the woods?
The speaker is showing surprise that Diane would be at this location. It’s an area that she wouldn’t often go to.
- This is my neck of the woods so I know where all the good cafes and restaurants are.
My neck of the woods basically means my neighborhood or somewhere where I often spend time, I know the area very well.
Learn more ways to use the Suffix -HOOD to increase your vocabulary.
How Do You Use the Suffix -hood? (17 Common Examples)
Idioms with body parts Infographic
Idioms with body parts 14-page PDF download
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Special thanks to https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/ for their great collection of English idioms.