25 English Idioms About Life and What They Mean

Life has its fair share of highs and lows, obstacles and victories, happiness and sorrow.

There are plenty of sayings that capture the various aspects of life and the lessons it teaches us.

Here are 25 popular idioms about life and their meanings.

1. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

This means that when life presents you with difficulties or setbacks, you should try to make the best of the situation instead of getting discouraged. Turn those “lemons” into something positive like refreshing lemonade.


2. Let bygones be bygones.

Don’t dwell on or hold grudges about negative things that happened in the past. It’s better to forgive, forget about it, and move forward.


3. The show must go on.

No matter what difficulties or obstacles you face, you have to find a way to persevere and keep going, just like actors must continue performing even when things go wrong.


4. Look before you leap.

Think carefully about the potential risks and consequences before taking a major step or making a big decision that could be life changing.


5. You can’t judge a book by its cover.

You shouldn’t judge or form an opinion about something, or someone just based on outward appearances. There may be more to it than meets the eye.


6. Strike while the iron is hot.

When you have an opportunity to take action and achieve something, you should pursue it immediately while conditions are favorable instead of waiting.


7. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

It’s wise to diversify and not risk everything on a single option or opportunity in case it fails. Spread your resources around.


8. Life is a rollercoaster.

Life has lots of unpredictable ups and downs, excitement and difficulties, twists and turns, just like a rollercoaster ride.


9. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

You can provide opportunities or advice, but you can’t force someone to take advantage of them if they’re unwilling.


10. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

Don’t make plans or celebrate something before you’re completely sure it will happen successfully.

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11. Kill two birds with one stone.

Accomplish two goals or tasks with a single action instead of doing them separately, thereby saving time and effort.


12. Every cloud has a silver lining.

Even the worst situations or misfortunes have some positive aspect if you look for it, symbolized by bright linings on dark clouds.


13. The grass is always greener on the other side.

People tend to think that others are better off or more fortunate than themselves, no matter their own circumstances.


14. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Achieving great things takes a lot of time and effort. Don’t expect overnight success. Have patience.


15. Don’t cry over spilled milk.

There’s no point in getting upset or feeling regretful about a mistake or mishap that can’t be undone. Move on.


16. The ball is in your court.

It’s up to you to take the next step or make the next decision about something. The responsibility is on you now.


17. Live and learn.

You gain knowledge and wisdom through personal experiences, even if some of them involve mistakes or hardships.


18. Take it with a grain of salt.

Don’t completely believe or put too much importance on something that is exaggerated or unlikely to be fully accurate.


19. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Be more aware of and recognize the realities of a situation instead of being oblivious or making poor choices.


20. Bite off more than you can chew.

Take on more responsibilities, work, or challenges than you can realistically handle or achieve.


21. Beat around the bush.

Avoid getting to the main point by circumventing it or talking about unrelated issues. Get to the point directly.


22. The early bird catches the worm.

Those who start pursuing opportunities early have the best chance of success, before others get ahead of them.


23. Cross that bridge when you come to it.

Deal with future potential problems if and when they actually arise instead of worrying about them prematurely.


24. Sink or swim.

You must put forth maximum effort to keep going and succeed in the face of major challenges and difficulties.


25. Don’t put the cart before the horse.

Do things in their proper, logical sequence. Don’t start on later stages before completing the necessary earlier steps.


These sayings give us interesting ways to talk about being strong, waiting, getting ready, chances, and how to handle the good and bad times in life.

You can use them to make your conversations about life more interesting.


Check out these awesome phrases & Idioms books I recommend:

Cambridge Idioms Dictionary

IDIOMS and PHRASES Anglo,Synonyms and Antonyms Anglo,One Word Substitution

Oxford Dictionary of Idioms

3000 Idioms and Phrases+ 3000 Proverbs 

Idioms for Kids

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