English Idioms You Should Learn

In today’s lesson, we’re going to talk about English idioms.

Have you ever heard someone say “Spill the beans” or “In a nutshell”?

Those are English idioms!

They’re phrases that mean something different than what the words actually say.

Native speakers understand the hidden meanings behind these phrases.

Using idioms makes our language more interesting and fun! Instead of saying “died,” we might say “kicked the bucket,” which adds some excitement.

Idioms can help us express complicated ideas in a simple, catchy way. They’re like shortcuts in conversations.

Understanding idioms is important for grasping English culture and sounding more like a native speaker.

Learning idioms can be tricky, especially when you’re still learning English. They might sound confusing or silly if you don’t know what they mean.

It’s best to learn idioms gradually and in context.

Overall, English idioms are like the special ingredient in our language.

They make our conversations more lively, help us communicate better, and show us the fun side of English-speaking cultures.

So, don’t hesitate to use idioms in your conversations—it’ll make you sound like a pro in no time!

Now, let’s explore some English idioms with their meanings and examples. Try using them in your conversations whenever you can.

Bite off more than one can chew:

Meaning: To take on a task that is way too big or beyond one’s ability.

Sentence: Sarah bit off more than she could chew when she volunteered to organize the entire event by herself.

Spill the beans:

Meaning: To reveal a secret or disclose information prematurely.

Sentence: Don’t spill the beans about the surprise party; we want it to be a secret until the last moment.

Bring home the bacon:

Meaning: To earn a living or provide financial support for one’s family.

Sentence: It’s challenging to bring home the bacon while working on a creative project, but somehow, she manages to balance both.

Cool as a cucumber:

Meaning: To remain calm and composed, especially in difficult or stressful situations.

Sentence: Despite the last-minute changes, Mark remained cool as a cucumber and delivered an excellent presentation.

Piece of cake:

Meaning: Something very easy to do.

Sentence: Fixing the issue turned out to be a piece of cake once I identified the root cause.

Spice things up:

Meaning: To add excitement or interest to a situation.

Sentence: Let’s spice things up at the party by introducing some fun games and activities.

The icing on the cake:

Meaning: Something additional that makes a good situation even better.

Sentence: Winning the championship was great, and getting MVP was the icing on the cake for Alex.

Burn the midnight oil:

Meaning: To work late into the night or early morning hours.

Sentence: In order to meet the deadline, the team had to burn the midnight oil to complete the project.

A piece of the action:

Meaning: To be involved in a particular activity or share in the benefits or excitement.

Sentence: Everyone wanted a piece of the action when the new project was announced.

The whole enchilada:

Meaning: Everything or the entire thing.

Sentence: She didn’t just want a part of the project; she wanted the whole enchilada, including the leadership role.

A lemon:

Meaning: Something, especially a car, that is defective or problematic.

Sentence: Unfortunately, the used car he bought turned out to be a lemon, and he had to spend a lot on repairs.

In a nutshell:

Meaning: Summing up something in a concise manner.

Sentence: Can you explain the new policy in a nutshell? I don’t have much time.

Big cheese:

Meaning: An important or influential person.

Sentence: The CEO is the big cheese around here; you’ll need to schedule a meeting to discuss your ideas with him.

Cup of Joe:

Meaning: A cup of coffee.

Sentence: I can’t start my day without a good cup of Joe to wake me up.

Go bananas:

Meaning: To go crazy or act irrationally.

Sentence: The kids will go bananas when they see the surprise we have for them.

Butter someone up:

Meaning: To flatter or be overly nice to someone, usually to gain a favor.

Sentence: She’s always buttering up the boss in hopes of getting a promotion.

Out of the frying pan into the fire:

Meaning: Moving from a bad or difficult situation to an even worse one.

Sentence: After quitting his stressful job, he found himself out of the frying pan into the fire when his new job had even more demanding expectations.

Break the ice:

Meaning: To initiate conversation in a social setting or to ease tension.

Sentence: The comedian’s jokes helped break the ice at the awkward business dinner.

Bring home the bacon:

Meaning: To earn a living or provide financial support for one’s family.

Sentence: Tom works hard to bring home the bacon, ensuring his family’s needs are met.

Hot potato:

Meaning: A controversial or difficult issue that is passed from one person to another.

Sentence: The debate on tax reform became a political hot potato, with each party trying to avoid taking a firm stance.

In a pickle:

Meaning: In a difficult or tricky situation.

Sentence: After missing the last train, Mary found herself in a pickle, trying to figure out how to get home late at night.

Take something with a grain of salt:

Meaning: To not completely believe something or to be skeptical.

Sentence: When he shared his wild travel stories, his friends took them with a grain of salt, knowing he tended to exaggerate.

Apple of one’s eye:

Meaning: Someone cherished or loved deeply.

Sentence: Ever since she was born, little Emily has been the apple of her grandparents’ eyes.

Cut the mustard:

Meaning: To meet expectations or perform well.

Sentence: The new employee really knows how to cut the mustard; she exceeded all our expectations in her first month.

Out of the soup pot and into the fire:

Meaning: Moving from one difficult situation to an even worse one.

Sentence: After escaping the challenging project, he found himself out of the soup pot and into the fire with a new boss who was even more demanding.

Cool beans:

Meaning: Expressing approval or satisfaction about something.

Sentence: You finished the report early? Cool beans! Now we have more time for revisions.

Bring something to the table:

Meaning: To contribute something valuable or beneficial to a situation.

Sentence: When forming a new team, each member should bring unique skills to the table for a successful collaboration.

Sell like hotcakes:

Meaning: To sell very quickly and in large quantities.

Sentence: The new iPhone model is selling like hotcakes, with people lining up outside the stores to get their hands on it.

Cry over spilled milk:

Meaning: To be upset about something that has already happened and cannot be changed.

Sentence: It’s disappointing that the project didn’t go as planned, but there’s no use crying over spilled milk; let’s focus on the next one.

Big fish in a small pond:

Meaning: A person of great importance in a limited or unimpressive environment.

Sentence: He was a big fish in a small pond at his old company, but now, in the larger corporation, he needs to prove himself again.

Cup of tea:

Meaning: Something that one enjoys or is good at.

Sentence: Cooking isn’t really my cup of tea, but I excel in computer programming.

Butterflies in one’s stomach:

Meaning: Nervous or anxious feelings before a significant event.

Sentence: Before giving the presentation, she always gets butterflies in her stomach, but once she starts speaking, the nervousness fades away.

Out of the frying pan into the fire:

Meaning: Moving from a bad or difficult situation to an even worse one.

Sentence: After quitting her demanding job, she thought starting her own business would be a relief, but it turned out to be out of the frying pan into the fire with the challenges of entrepreneurship.

Full of beans:

Meaning: Full of energy, lively, or enthusiastic.

Sentence: The children were full of beans after the exciting field trip to the zoo.

The proof is in the pudding:

Meaning: The real value or success of something can only be judged when it is put to the test.

Sentence: The new marketing strategy looks promising on paper, but the proof is in the pudding when we see the actual increase in sales.

Like two peas in a pod:

Meaning: Two people who are very similar or nearly identical.

Sentence: The twins are like two peas in a pod, always dressing alike and sharing similar interests.

Out of the woods:

Meaning: Out of danger or a difficult situation.

Sentence: After months of financial struggle, they are finally out of the woods and can start rebuilding their savings.

So, English idioms are like the spice that  makes language more flavorful!

They’re quirky, fun, and add a bit of zest to our conversations.

Whether you’re chatting with friends, watching  your favorite TV show, or reading a book, knowing a few idioms can make you feel more connected to the English-speaking world.

Just remember, idioms can be a bit tricky at first, but with practice and exposure, you’ll get the hang of them.

So, don’t be afraid to sprinkle some idioms into your chats and enjoy!

Leave a comment