Common English Idioms

In this section you will find lists of common English idioms.

Common English idioms 1

  1. A blessing in disguise: something that may seem bad is actually beneficial.
  2. A chicken and egg situation: it refers to a situation where you do not know what happened first.
  3. A close call: a situation that was bound a to be a disaster.
  4. A picture is worth 1000 words: it means that a picture conveys a more meaningful meaning rather than an explanation.
  5. Actions speak louder than words: what you do is more noticeable than what you say.
  6. Against the clock: limited time.
  7. As busy as a bee: when you are very active doing many tasks.
  8. As cool as a cucumber: when you remain composed in an unexpected situation.
  9. As different as night and day: to be opposite.
  10. At the back of my mind: when you have a vague memory.
  11. Been through the wars: when you have endured many challenges.
  12. Behind the scenes: the activities that happen privately.
  13. Better late than never: it means that it is more desirable to do something later rather than not doing it at all.
  14. Break a leg: it means “good luck”.
  15. Break the ice: when you create a comfortable atmosphere in a conversation.
  16. Cat got your tongue? we use it to ask someone why they are at a loss of words.
  17. Come in handy: when something suddenly becomes useful in a certain situation.
  18. Couch potato: someone who is inactive and spends most of the time procrastinating.
  19. Curiosity killed the cat: if you are very curious, it can lead to trouble.
  20. Do the trick: to get the desired result you want.

Common English idioms 2

  1. Don’t cry over spilled milk: it means to not get mad over mistakes that cannot be changed.
  2. Don’t sweat it: we use it to say “do not worry”.
  3. Few and far between: when something occurs rarely.
  4. For the sake of: it means “for the purpose of”.
  5. Get out of hand: to become uncontrollable.
  6. Get your act together: to improve the way you behave.
  7. Great minds think alike: it means that wise people share the same ideas.
  8. Hang in there: to not move or to stay determined in a situation you think is difficult.
  9. Hit the nail on the head: to identify a problem accurately.
  10. I wasn’t born yesterday: it means “I’m not a fool”.
  11. If the cap fits, wear it: if something bad or good has been said about you, accept it.
  12. If your memory serves you well: we use it to emphasize that you may remember something correctly.
  13. In a nutshell: it means “in a summary”.
  14. In the blink of an eye: when something occurs suddenly.
  15. It takes two to tango: two individuals are needed to make something happen.
  16. It’s a piece of cake: we use it to say that something is easy to do.
  17. It’s all Greek to me: when something is confusing and you do not understand it.
  18. Let someone off the hook: to free someone from responsibility.
  19. Make a long story short: to summarize an experience or situation.
  20. No pain, no gain: you need to work hard to achieve something, often with a lot of effort.

Common English idioms 3

  1. Off the table: not an option anymore.
  2. Old habits die hard: it is hard to change something overnight.
  3. On the fence: when you do not have a definite decision.
  4. Pull someone’s leg: to joke on someone.
  5. Pull yourself together: to become focused on what you are doing.
  6. Raining cats and dogs: we use it to say that it is raining heavily.
  7. Ring a bell: something is familiar to you.
  8. Sleep on it: it means to take time to reach a final decision.
  9. Speak of the devil: when you are talking about someone and that person suddenly appears.
  10. Speak your mind: to express your ideas and thoughts.
  11. Sweet tooth: to have a craving for sweet food.
  12. Take it easy: do not worry about it.
  13. The early bird catches the worm: someone who does something first, can achieve success easily.
  14. To be all ears: to be a good listener.
  15. To be at the hands of somebody: when you are under someone else’s control.
  16. To be in deep waters: when you are facing a challenging situation.
  17. To be in the same boat: to face the same circumstances as someone else.
  18. To behave like a hen mother: to be very protective.
  19. To bite your tongue: to refrain from stating what you think.
  20. To bring to mind: to recall a thought.

Common English idioms 4

  1. To catch someone’s eye: when you get the attention of someone.
  2. To change one’s tune: when you suddenly change your attitude or behaviour when facing a new situation.
  3. To change your mind: when you think differently.
  4. To chase rainbows: when you pursue unattainable goals.
  5. To come out of your shell: to become more sociable.
  6. To come to a bad end: to have a negative outcome.
  7. To come to your senses: when you regain awareness after a moment of confusion.
  8. To cost a fortune: something is quite expensive.
  9. To cover your tracks: to hide your actions.
  10. To cry your eyes out: to cry a lot.
  11. To cut to the chase: to skip unnecessary detail to get to the main point.
  12. To draw a line in the sand: to establish a boundary over what is right and wrong.
  13. To face the music: to accept the consequences of what you do.
  14. To get back on your feet: to regain your strength from a challenging situation.
  15. To get to the bottom of something: to identify the cause of something.
  16. To give someone the cold shoulder: when you intentionally ignore someone in a situation.
  17. To go behind someone’s back: when you do something secretly betraying someone’s trust.
  18. To have a memory like a sieve: when you do not have a good memory and forget things easily.
  19. To have something on the brain: to have a lot of thoughts.
  20. To have the world at your feet: to have all the opportunities you want.

Common English idioms 5

  1. To have your hands full: when you are very busy and cannot do anything else.
  2. To hit the bull’s eye: when you are right about something.
  3. To hit the roof: to become outraged.
  4. To hold your horses: to hold back from doing something unnecessary.
  5. To jump on the bandwagon: to join something that is trendy.
  6. To keep an eye on something: to watch something closely so that nothing happens.
  7. To keep your feet on the ground: to be realistic without becoming ambitious.
  8. To kill two birds with one stone: to complete two activities with a single action.
  9. To lend someone a hand: to offer someone your help.
  10. To let the cat out of the bag: to reveal information carelessly.
  11. To live on the edge: to have a risky lifestyle.
  12. To lose your train of thought: when you suddenly disconnect from a conversation.
  13. To make a song and dance about something: to exaggerate a situation unnecessarily.
  14. To make matters worse: to make a difficult situation even more problematic.
  15. To make up your mind: to decide on something.
  16. To mind your own business: it means “do not meddle in my affairs”
  17. To pat yourself on the back: to congratulate yourself.
  18. To play something by ear: to make decisions spontaneously without planning ahead.
  19. To pour your heart out: to openly say what you feel.
  20. To put your mind at ease: we use it to provide assurance to someone else.

Common English idioms 6

  1. To read between the lines: to find a hidden message.
  2. To see eye to eye: to agree with someone else.
  3. To shed crocodile tears: to pretend to be depressed.
  4. To smoke like a chimney: when someone smokes excessively.
  5. To spill the beans: to reveal something that was not supposed to be revealed.
  6. To stab someone in the back: to deceive someone who put a lot of trust in you.
  7. To strike a chord: to remember something because it evoked a memory.
  8. To sweep something under the carpet: to ignore a situation instead of dealing with it.
  9. To take for granted: when you assume something will always be obtainable.
  10. To think outside the box: to be creative when coming up with new ideas.
  11. To throw somebody under the bus: when you betray someone to protect yourself.
  12. To treat somebody like a dog: to treat someone unfairly.
  13. To turn a blind eye to something: to overlook a situation intentionally.
  14. Whole nine yards: the entirety of something.
  15. Wrap your head around something: when you need to understand a situation when it is complex to comprehend.
  16. You can’t judge a book by its cover: we use it to say that you cannot make assumptions about someone when you do not know that person.

Read more about idioms here.