C1 and C2 English Idioms to Use

Hello everyone,

Idioms are super important in any language because native speakers use them a lot instead of regular words.

You might know what “choose” means, but what about “take one’s pick” which they hear a lot in everyday conversations?

We are going to look at 10 (C1 and C2) English idioms with meanings and situations you can use them in.

In the same boat

When we say “we’re all in the same boat,” it means we are all facing the same situation or problem.

It’s like saying we are all in this together, dealing with the same thing.

For example, if your teacher gives everyone in the class extra homework, you might feel upset.

But if your friends also have the same homework, you can say, “We’re all in the same boat,” meaning you’re all in this together, and it’s not just you who has to do the extra work.

So, “in the same boat” is a way of saying we’re all facing the same thing or going through the same situation.

It helps us feel like we’re not alone and that we can support each other.

On cloud nine

When we say someone is “on cloud nine,” it means they are feeling incredibly joyful and excited, almost like they’re floating on a fluffy cloud in the sky.

For example, let’s say your team wins a game, and you scored the winning goal. You might be so happy and proud that you feel like you’re on cloud nine.

It’s like being in a super happy and excited place because something wonderful happened.

So, “on cloud nine” is a fun way to describe feeling extremely happy and excited about something special that happened to you.

It’s a way to show just how joyful and elated you are!

Grasping at straws

When we say someone is “grasping at straws,” it means they are trying anything they can, even things that may not work or seem silly, because they are desperate for a solution.

For example, let’s say you have a math problem that you can’t figure out, and you start guessing random answers without really knowing if they’re right.

You’re trying anything just to see if something works, even if it’s not the best strategy.

That’s like grasping at straws.

So, “grasping at straws” is a way to describe when someone is trying anything they can think of, even if it’s not likely to succeed, because they are feeling desperate or unsure about how to solve a problem.

It’s a bit like reaching for something that might not be there, hoping it will help, even though it’s not very likely to.

Keep something at bay

You might hold the sandwich up high so the dog can’t reach it.

In this situation, you’re keeping the dog “at bay,” which means you’re keeping it away or preventing it from getting too close to something.

In everyday life, when we say we’re keeping something at bay, it means we’re stopping it from causing problems or getting too close.

For example, if you’re feeling sick and you drink lots of water and rest, you might be able to keep the sickness at bay, which means you’re preventing it from getting worse or making you feel even sicker.

So, “keep something at bay” means to keep it away or under control, especially when it could cause trouble or harm.

It’s like keeping a problem or a bad thing far enough away so that it doesn’t affect us too much.

The ball is in your court

When the ball is in your court, it means it’s your turn to hit it back to your friend.

In this idiom, we use “the ball is in your court” to talk about a situation where it’s your turn to do something or make a decision.

For example, let’s say you and your friend are deciding what game to play. Your friend suggests playing tag, and you say, “I’m not sure. What do you want to play?”

Now, the decision is in your friend’s hands. They get to choose because “the ball is in their court.”

So, “the ball is in your court” is a way to say that it’s someone’s turn to make a choice or take action.

It’s like passing the responsibility or decision-making power to them.

Don’t cry over spilled milk

Instead of crying or getting upset about it, you can just clean it up and move on.

When we say “don’t cry over spilled milk,” it means there’s no need to get upset or feel sad about something that has already happened and can’t be changed.

For example, let’s say you were playing with your toys and accidentally broke one.

Your parent might say, “It’s okay, don’t cry over spilled milk,” meaning there’s no point in getting upset because what’s done is done.

So, “don’t cry over spilled milk” is a way of saying that we shouldn’t waste time feeling sad or upset about little mistakes or accidents.

It’s better to accept what happened, learn from it if we can, and move forward without letting it bother us too much.

Turn a blind eye

But if you “turn a blind eye” to something, it’s like you’re closing one eye and pretending not to see or notice what’s happening.

For example, let’s say you see your friend taking cookies from the cookie jar when they’re not supposed to.

If you ignore it and act like you didn’t see anything, you’re “turning a blind eye” to their actions.

So, “turning a blind eye” means choosing not to see or ignore something, especially when you should do something about it.

It’s like pretending not to notice something that’s not right or against the rules.

Burn bridges

When you “burn bridges,” it means you do something that damages or destroys your relationship with that person.

It’s like burning the bridge that connects you, so you can’t easily go back to being friends again.

For example, if you have an argument with your friend and say mean things that hurt their feelings, you might “burn bridges” because now your friendship is damaged, and it might be hard to repair.

So, “burning bridges” means doing something that makes it difficult or impossible to go back to the way things were, especially in relationships with others.

It’s important to be kind and think before you act so you don’t accidentally burn bridges with friends or family.

Fish out of water

Now, if you take that fish out of the water and put it on land, it would feel very uncomfortable and out of place, right?

That’s exactly what this idiom means!

When we say someone is a “fish out of water,” we mean that they feel awkward or uncomfortable because they are in a situation that they are not used to or familiar with.

It’s like they don’t belong there, just like a fish doesn’t belong out of the water.

For example, if you go to a new school where you don’t know anyone and everyone else already has friends, you might feel like a fish out of water because you’re not used to the new environment, and you don’t know how to fit in yet.

So, “fish out of water” is a way to describe feeling out of place or uncomfortable in a new or unfamiliar situation, just like a fish would feel if it were taken out of the water.

Skeletons in the closet

Now, imagine if there were hidden secrets or things you didn’t want anyone to know about inside that closet.

Those secrets or hidden things are like “skeletons in the closet.”

When we say someone has “skeletons in the closet,” it means they have secrets or things from their past that they don’t want others to know about.

These could be mistakes, embarrassing moments, or things they regret.

For example, if someone always seems very confident and happy on the outside but they have a secret fear or worry that they never talk about, that fear is like a “skeleton in their closet.”

So, “skeletons in the closet” is a way to talk about hidden secrets or things from the past that someone keeps private because they don’t want others to know about them.

It’s like having a secret that you don’t want anyone else to find out.

Beat around the bush

You’re avoiding the main topic and not getting to the point. That’s like “beating around the bush.”

When we say someone is “beating around the bush,” it means they’re avoiding talking about something directly.

Instead of saying what they really mean, they’re talking in circles or talking about other things to avoid the main topic.

For example, if you ask your friend if they want to play with you, and instead of saying yes or no, they start talking about their homework or what they had for lunch, they’re “beating around the bush” because they’re not giving you a straight answer.

So, “beating around the bush” is a way to describe when someone is avoiding saying something directly or getting to the point.

It’s like talking in circles instead of just saying what you mean.

Put all your eggs in one basket

If you put all your eggs in one basket and something happens to that basket, like it falls and breaks, then you’ll lose all your eggs at once.

When we say “put all your eggs in one basket,” it means you’re putting all your hopes, plans, or resources into just one thing or one plan. If that thing doesn’t work out, you could lose everything.

For example, let’s say you have some money, and instead of saving it in different places or using it for different things, you decide to spend all of it on buying one toy.

If something happens to that toy or you get bored of it quickly, you’ve put all your eggs in one basket, and now you don’t have any money left for other things you might want.

So, “putting all your eggs in one basket” is a way to talk about the risk of depending too much on just one thing or one plan.

It’s like saying it’s important to have backup plans or spread out your resources so you don’t lose everything if one thing doesn’t work out.

Throw caution to the wind

If you throw something light, like a piece of paper, into the wind, you don’t know where it will go.

It could fly away in any direction because of the wind.

When we say “throw caution to the wind,” it means you’re not being careful or cautious.

It’s like taking a risk without thinking about the consequences.

For example, let’s say you’re supposed to wear a helmet when riding your bike for safety.

If you decide not to wear it and ride fast anyway, you’re “throwing caution to the wind” because you’re taking a risk and not being careful.

So, “throwing caution to the wind” is a way to talk about taking risks or not being careful about something.

It’s important to remember to be cautious and think about the consequences of our actions to stay safe.

In hot water

If you put your hand in that hot water, it would hurt a lot!

When we say someone is “in hot water,” it means they are in trouble or facing consequences for something they did wrong.

For example, if you accidentally break a vase at home and your parents find out, you might be “in hot water” because you’ll have to explain what happened and maybe even help fix or replace the vase.

So, “in hot water” is a way to talk about being in trouble or facing consequences for something we did.

It’s like feeling the heat of being caught doing something wrong or making a mistake.

Have a chip on your shoulder

If someone bumps into you, that piece of wood might fall off, and you could get angry or upset.

When we say someone “has a chip on their shoulder,” it means they are easily annoyed or ready to argue because they feel angry or defensive about something.

For example, if someone always seems ready to argue or gets upset easily, even over small things, they might “have a chip on their shoulder” because they’re carrying around feelings of anger or defensiveness.

So, “having a chip on your shoulder” is a way to talk about being easily upset or ready to argue because of negative feelings you’re carrying around.

It’s important to try to let go of those negative feelings and not let them affect how we interact with others.

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