100 common English expressions with examples and meanings (2023)

What is a language?

An idiom is a group of words used as a general expression whose meaning cannot be easily deduced from the literal words it contains.

Idioms are often grouped into figurative language classes in which words are used in imaginative or unusual ways.

To make it easier,Idioms mean something different than single words.

100 common English expressions with examples and meanings (1)

For example, the phrase "writing an idiom is a piece of cake" doesn't mean that writing an idiom is literally "a piece of cake". Instead, "piece of cake" is a figurative expression to say that something is easy to do.

While idioms are most commonly used in the United States, they are also commonly used in English in television shows, films, written literature, and other media.

It's important to familiarize yourself with the meaning of common idioms, as idioms often don't make literal sense. Here is a list of the most popular and commonly used idioms in American English with examples and meanings.

Common English idioms

Blessing in disguise
Meaning: something good that seemed bad at first

a penny a dozen
Meaning: Something that is very common, not unique.

Adding insult to injury
Meaning: Making a bad situation worse.

Beat around the bush
Meaning: Avoid sharing your true point of view or feelings because it is uncomfortable

bite the bullet
Meaning: to end an unfavorable situation or a task now because it has to be done at some point

The best from both worlds
Meaning: The choice or solution has all the benefits of two opposite things at the same time.

Bite off more than you can chew
Meaning: Committing to do something you really don't have the time, resources, or ability to do.

Don't judge a book by its cover
Meaning:Don't judge someone or something by what it looks like

Do something in no time
Meaning: to do somethingin no time

Stuck between a rock and a hard spot
Meaning: Make a choice between two uncomfortable options

cut corners
Meaning:Take risky shortcuts to save time and/or money

Devil's Advocate
Meaning:Argue for the other party in an argument to stimulate further debate.

taste your own medicine
Meaning: To be treated(generally negative) how you treated others

When in doubt, decide
Meaning: Believe someone's story without any evidence, even if it seems unbelievable

Hit the nail on the head
Meaning:be just right

(Video) Learn the 100 Most Common Idioms in 30 Minutes (with examples)

let someone off the hook
Meaning: not to blame someone for something

Without pain there is no gain
Meaning: you mustleidento see results

im Ball
Meaning: attentive and doing a good job

all jubilee years
Meaning: Something that doesn't happen very often.

speak of the devil
Meaning: When the person you were just talking about arrives

the last drop
Meaning: The final act that makes an entire situation unbearable.

Your guest is as good as mine
Meaning:I have no idea

dead alarm clock
Meaning:Someone who looks a lot like someone else

The whole nine yards
Meaning: everything. All of it.

get to work
Meaning: get to the point

burning bridges
Meaning: irreparably damage a relationship

in good physical condition
Meaning: excellent health

burst into flames
Meaning: fail spectacularly.

he/she is upset
Meaning: someone who is acting crazy or not thinking rationally.

It is always darkest before dawn
Meaning: It will always get worse before it gets better

There are always two that belong to it
Meaning: One person is usually not solely responsible

how to ride a bike
Meaning: something one never forgets

Tagainst all odds
Meaning: Everyone experiences good and bad times.

time is money
Meaning: work faster or more efficiently

food idioms

I can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs.
Meaning: You can't make everyone happy

Like two peas in a pod
Meaning: Two people who are always together.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away
Meaning: Apples are healthy and good for you

Heardthrough the vine
Meaning: hearing rumors about someone or something.

(Video) 100 Common Idioms Frequently Used in Daily English Conversations

piece of cake
Meaning: a task or task that is easy to do

bread and butter
Meaning: Something you do or use to survive or thrive in a situation

Bcall home the bacon
Meaning: Earn money, specifically money to live on.

Crying over spilled milk
Meaning: Worrying about the past or things that are already done or resolved

It's not my thing
Meaning: something you don't like

Take it with a grain of salt
Meaning: Create at your own risk.

Top Banana
Meaning: The most powerful or important person in a group or organization.

spoiled apple
Meaning: a troublemaker

Fables Hey
Meaning: Like a troublemaker, but worse; someone who appears fundamentally dishonest or rude

good egg
Meaning: The opposite of a rotten egg; someone who is honest and trustworthy

Larger fish for frying
Meaning: more important things to do

Fresh as a salad
Meaning: Calm, especially under pressure.

Meaning: a sedentary person who spends a lot of time sitting and often watches television.

CDon't cut the mustard
Meaning: can't keep up with the competition

Tough nut to crack
Meaning: something or someone difficult to understand

big cheese
Meaning: The person in charge

Buns in the oven
Meaning: pregnant

apple of someone's eye
Meaning: to be loved and adored.

sweeten someone
Meaning: being super nice to someone because you want something from them

push someone
Meaning: to encourage someone to do something, usually something they shouldn't do

In a word
Meaning: Summarize things

Spill the beans
Meaning: reveal secret information

animal idioms

Don't count your chickens before they hatch
Meaning: don't expect something to happen until it has already happened

(Video) 1 hour of common phrases in English (with examples)

Go on a wild goose hunt
Meaning: do something that doesn't make sense

Kill two birds with one shot
Meaning: Do two different jobs in the same company

The elephant in the room
Meaning: a problem, person, or problem someone is trying to avoid

Straight from the horse's mouth
Meaning: to read or hear something from the source

Let the cat out of the bag.
Meaning: Sharing information that should be kept secret

hit a dead horse
Meaning: Giving some time or energy that is over or over.

You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.
In other words, you cannot force anyone to make what appears to be the right decision

Every dog ​​has his day
That means everyone has the opportunity to do something great

A leopard cannot change its spots
Meaning: People don't change

move the dog
Meaning: diverting attention from something important to something trivial

Tthe birds and the bees
Meaning: sex education

Ants in the pants
Meaning: being nervous and unable to sit still

Meaning: decision not to do something, usually at the last minute.

clam up
Meaning: stop talking

TThe cat has someone's tongue
Meaning: this person is strangely quiet

have a cow
Meaning: Being extremely upset, usually about something not worth your time.

Meaning: have patience

eat like a pig
Meaning: eat a lot.

Take the bull by the horns
Meaning: show initiative.

Until the cows come home
Meaning: forever, or at least for a long time.

smells like rat
Meaning: To suspect that someone is up to no good.

nest egg
Meaning: Amount of money saved for later

rained cats and dogs
Meaning: it rains a lot

(Video) 100 COMMON IDIOMS IN 30 MINS | Learn with examples | Advance English

Get the lion's share
Meaning: Get the largest portion

weather idioms

I do not feel comfortable
Meaning: not feeling well or sick

Steal someone's thunder
Meaning: Divert someone's attention by doing or sharing something before that person can do it.

clouds on the horizon
Meaning: Trouble is coming or is on the way

Run like the wind
Meaning: run very fast.

Stormy weather
Meaning: endure a test or difficulty

get a second wind
Meaning: having energy again after tiredness

A snowball effect
Meaning: Something has momentum and builds on each other, like rolling a snowball down a hill to make it bigger.

Throw caution to the wind
Meaning: Being reckless or taking risks.

body language

Have your head in the clouds
Meaning: daydreaming, not paying attention

By the skin of his teeth
Meaning: barely made it

Costs an arm and a leg
Meaning: Something that is too expensive or very expensive

turn your back on someone
Meaning: ignore someone

pull someone's leg
Meaning: to joke with someone

Cold feet
Meaning: Getting nervous before a big event, to the point of retreat.

Face the consequences
Meaning: Face the consequences of your actions.

Get something out of my head
Meaning: air or complain

Upside down
Meaning: in love

It makes my blood boil
Meaning: It makes me very angry

Golden Rule
Meaning: A basic rule or principle

stretch out your neck
Meaning: Support someone or something, even if it may have negative consequences for you.

wash your hands from something
Meaning: giving up a problem or responsibility

Seye level
Meaning: agree

(Video) 30 SUPER COMMON English Phrases - You can use them every day! (+ PDF & quiz)

neck of the woods
Meaning: a place and its immediate surroundings.

heads up
Meaning: don't give up

This is just a small selection of common idioms.

Idioms are everywhere. This is how we make everything from casual conversation to street advertising more colorful and convey a certain level of cultural understanding and connection. What are some of your favorite idioms in common use? Share the riches in the comments below!


What are the 100 idioms and their meanings? ›

100 Idiomatic Expressions That You'll Use All the Time (+PDF)
  • At a crossroads – Needing to make an important decision. ...
  • Bad apple – Bad person. ...
  • Barking up the wrong tree – Pursuing the wrong course. ...
  • Be closefisted – Stingy. ...
  • Be cold-hearted – Uncaring. ...
  • Be on solid ground – Confident. ...
  • Beat around the bush – Avoid saying.
Oct 15, 2020

What are 50 examples of idioms and their meanings? ›

50 popular idioms to sound like a native speaker
Be a good catchBe someone worth marrying/having
Beat around the bushAvoid the main topic or not speak directly about the issue
Bend over backwardsDo whatever it takes to help. Willing to do anything
Bite off more than you can chewTake on a task that is too big
46 more rows
Mar 20, 2017

What are the most common expressions in English? ›

Top 10 English phrases and sentences you need to know
  1. Good morning. Sometimes, all you need to start the day right is a good coffee and someone greeting you smiling. ...
  2. Good afternoon. ...
  3. My name is Mondly. ...
  4. I'm pleased to meet you. ...
  5. How are you? ...
  6. Fine, thanks. ...
  7. I'd like a beer. ...
  8. I'm sorry.

What are the 200 idioms? ›

Without further ado, here are 200+ popular idioms, each followed by its meaning and an example sentence (marked 'S').
  • Stir up a hornets' nest. ...
  • An eye for an eye. ...
  • Back against the wall. ...
  • Barking up the wrong tree. ...
  • Bite off more than you can chew. ...
  • Pigs might fly. ...
  • Upset someone's applecart. ...
  • Not enough room to swing a cat.
Dec 27, 2022

What are the 25 idiomatic expressions? ›

Let us now learn about the 25 most common and useful Idioms in the English language:
  • Under the weather. Meaning - To feel sick. ...
  • The ball is in your court. ...
  • Spill the beans. ...
  • Pull someone's leg. ...
  • Sit on the fence. ...
  • Through thick and thin. ...
  • Once in a blue moon. ...
  • The best of both worlds.
Jun 26, 2021

What are 30 examples of idioms? ›

The most common English idioms
Beat around the bushAvoid saying what you mean, usually because it is uncomfortable
Better late than neverBetter to arrive late than not to come at all
Bite the bulletTo get something over with because it is inevitable
Break a legGood luck
33 more rows

What are the 50 phrasal verbs? ›

Top 50 English phrasal verbs
  • Back down. To stop doing something or admit you were wrong because people oppose you. ...
  • Blow up. To explode. ...
  • Break down. To suddenly stop functioning (used for machinery) ...
  • Bring up. To mention something. ...
  • Bump into. To see or meet someone unexpectedly. ...
  • Call off. To cancel. ...
  • Check on. ...
  • Check out.
Nov 10, 2022

What are the 1000 most commonly used words in English? ›

Here's the List of the 1000 Most Common English Words
  • be – “Will you be my friend?”
  • and – “You and I will always be friends.”
  • of – “Today is the first of November.”
  • a – “I saw a bear today.”
  • in – “She is in her room.”
  • to – “Let's go to the park.”
  • have – “I have a few questions.”
  • too – “I like her too.”

What are the 100 examples of idioms? ›

100 Common English Idioms
  • Break the ice. Meaning: To get the conversation going. ...
  • A dime a dozen. Meaning: Very common: quite ordinary. ...
  • Beat around the bush. Meaning: To avoid saying something. ...
  • Back against the wall. ...
  • Bite the bullet. ...
  • Wrap one's head around something. ...
  • Under the weather. ...
  • Better late than never.
Jul 15, 2022

What are expressions in English examples? ›

Here are 10 must-know English expressions and their meanings
  • Best thing since sliced bread. ...
  • Challenge accepted. ...
  • Cross that bridge when you come to it. ...
  • Don't put all your eggs in one basket. ...
  • Dutch courage. ...
  • In the heat of the moment. ...
  • Keep something at bay. ...
  • Make a long story short.

What is the idiom from A to Z? ›

Idiom: From A to Z

from A to Z: the entire range of something. including every step from start to finish. completely, to include everything and every detail.

Can you give me a list of idioms? ›

Here are 20 English idioms that everyone should know:
  • Under the weather. What does it mean? ...
  • The ball is in your court. What does it mean? ...
  • Spill the beans. What does it mean? ...
  • Break a leg. What does it mean? ...
  • Pull someone's leg. What does it mean? ...
  • Sat on the fence. What does it mean? ...
  • Through thick and thin. ...
  • Once in a blue moon.
Feb 22, 2023

What break a leg means? ›

If you were to tell the actor to “break a leg,” you were wishing them the opportunity to perform and get paid. The sentiment remains the same today; the term means “good luck, give a good performance.”

What are some hard idioms? ›

20 Idioms For Working Hard
  • Idiom #1: Back/nose to the grindstone. To return to/start a hard tedious task. ...
  • Idiom #3: Be snowed under. ...
  • Idiom #4: Bend over backwards. ...
  • Idiom #5: Blood, sweat, and tears. ...
  • Idiom #6: Burning a candle at both ends. ...
  • Idiom #7: Get cracking. ...
  • Idiom #8: Give it 110% ...
  • Idiom #9: Go the extra mile.

What are popular short sayings? ›

30 Most Popular Proverbs in English for Students & Learners
  • Many hands make light work.
  • Strike while the iron is hot.
  • Honesty is the best policy.
  • The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
  • Don't judge a book by its cover.
  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
  • Better late than never.
May 24, 2020

What are some very old sayings? ›

11 Old-Timey Sayings We Should Bring Back
  • “As like as an apple to an oyster.” ...
  • “Children are certain cares, but uncertain comforts.” ...
  • “Where cobwebs are plenty, kisses are scarce.” ...
  • “He who would pun would pick a pocket.” ...
  • “A friend to all is a friend to none.” ...
  • “Garlic makes a man wink, drink, and stink.”
Feb 21, 2023

What are some interesting phrases? ›

14 Expressions with Origins that You Would Never Have Guessed
  • Bite the bullet. Meaning: To accept something difficult or unpleasant. ...
  • Break the ice. Meaning: To break off a conflict or commence a friendship. ...
  • Butter someone up. ...
  • Mad as a hatter. ...
  • Cat got your tongue? ...
  • Barking up the wrong tree. ...
  • Turn a blind eye. ...
  • Bury the hatchet.
Sep 16, 2022

What is the idiom of A to Z? ›

Idiom: From A to Z

from A to Z: the entire range of something. including every step from start to finish. completely, to include everything and every detail.

What is the best idiom ever? ›

The best idioms from around the world, ranked
  • To fart higher than your bottom. ...
  • To vomit the sound of weakness. ...
  • “Stop climbing on my head.” ...
  • To look like the Mona Lisa after a spanking. ...
  • To make the kittens. ...
  • “May a pine tree grow out of your bottom.” ...
  • To bang your butt on the ground. ...
  • “I'm not hanging noodles on your ears.”
May 15, 2015

What is a 26 word alphabet sentence? ›

An English pangram is a sentence that contains all 26 letters of the English alphabet. The most well known English pangram is probably “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”.

Where does break a leg come from? ›

“Break a leg” origin

The phrase is believed to be rooted in the theatre community, which is known to be a bit superstitious. Performers believed saying “good luck” would actually bring bad luck on stage, so they'd tell one another to “break a leg” instead. That way, the opposite would happen.

Where did break a leg come from? ›

In the early days of theater, this is where ensemble actors were queued to perform. If actors were not performing, they had to stay behind the “leg line,” which also meant they wouldn't get paid. If you were to tell the actor to “break a leg,” you were wishing them the opportunity to perform and get paid.


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