The most popular English idioms
Here are the most popular idioms from A to Z:
A Bird In The Hand Is Worth Two In The Bush
"Dan has asked me to go to a party with him. What if my boyfriend finds out?" Reply: "Don't go. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."
A Blessing In Disguise
"My car broke down again, but maybe it was a blessing in disguise; I've been wasting too much time driving around anyway."
A Chip On Your Shoulder
"What's bothering that guy?" Answer: "Nothing; he's just got a chip on the shoulder."
A Dime A Dozen
"I don't need friends like him; they are a dime a dozen."
A Drop In The Bucket
"I'd like to do something to change the world but whatever I do seems like a drop in the bucket."
A Fool And His Money Are Easily Parted
Example: "Her husband can't seem to hold onto any amount of money; he either spends it or loses it. A fool and his money are easily parted."
A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned
"I'm going to give you $20 but I want you to put it in the bank; a penny saved is a penny earned!"
A Piece Of Cake
"Do you think you will win your tennis match today?" Answer: "It will be a piece of cake."
A Shot In The Dark
"That was such a difficult question! How did you get it right?" Reply: "I just took a shot in the dark."
A Slap On The Wrist
"He should be in jail for what he did, but he got off with just a slap on the wrist."
A Slip Of The Tongue
"Be careful talking to the police tomorrow; one slip of the tongue could get us into big trouble."
A Taste Of Your Own Medicine
"It looks like she got a taste of her own medicine."
"Do you think they'll make it one time?" Answer: "I really don't know. It's a toss-up."
A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing
"Don't trust the salespeople at that store; they are all wolves in sheep's clothing!"
"Do an about face, get back in that bathroom, and brush your teeth!"
Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder
"The time we spend apart has been good for us; absence makes the heart grow fonder."
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
"Don't tell me how to do this; show me! Actions speak louder than words."
Add Fuel To The Fire
"I would like to do something to help, but I don't want to add fuel to the fire."
Against The Clock
"We worked against the clock all day to get this report done by 5PM."
Against The Grain
"I jog at this track everyday and there is always that one guy who has to go against the grain and run in the opposite direction."
All Bark And No Bite
"The new manager threatened to fire me but I know he won't do it; he is all bark and no bite."
"Did you understand what he just said?" Reply: "Nope. It was all Greek to me."
All In The Same Boat
"We can't fight against each other; we need to work together. We're all in the same boat!"
All That Glitters Is Not Gold
"Be careful when shopping for your new car; all that glitters is not gold!"
"Hey! You are pouring my coffee on the table!" Reply: "Oh, I'm so sorry! I have been all thumbs today."
An Arm And A Leg
"Be careful with that watch; it cost me an arm and a leg."
An Axe To Grind
"I have an axe to grind with you." Answer: "Oh no; what did I do wrong?"
Arm In Arm
"What a nice afternoon. We walked arm in arm along the beach for hours."
Around The Block
"You kids are too young to fall in love: Wait until you have been around the block a time or two."
As Blind As A Bat
"Without his glasses, my father is as blind as a bat."
As High As A Kite
"The ball got stuck up there on the roof. It's as high as a kite."
As Light As A Feather
"Wow, you lift that box so easily!" Reply: "Oh, come on. It is as light as a feather."
At The Drop Of A Hat
"Would you travel around the world if you had the money?" Answer: "At the drop of a hat."
At Wit's End
"We have been at wit's end trying to figure out how we are going to pay our taxes."
Back To The Drawing Board
"It looks like my plan to kill the weeds in the garden has failed. Back to the drawing board."
Barking Up The Wrong Tree
"I have been trying to solve this math problem for 30 minutes but I think I've been barking up the wrong tree."
Beat A Dead Horse
"There's no use in beating a dead horse."
Beating Around The Bush
"If you want to ask me, just ask; don't beat around the bush."
Bend Over Backwards
"We bent over backwards to help him, and he never even thanked us!"
Better Late Than Never
"Sorry I was late for the meeting today; I got stuck in traffic." Answer: "That's okay; better late than never."
Between A Rock And A Hard Place
"I'd like to help you but I am stuck between a rock and a hard place."
Birds Of A Feather Flock Together
"Look; the volleyball players are eating at the same table together, as always." Answer: "Birds of a feather flock together."
Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
"I thought I could finish this report within one month, but it looks like I have bitten off more than I can chew."
Bite Your Tongue
"Whenever that professor says something I don't like, I have to bite my tongue."
Blood Is Thicker Than Water
"When my best friend and my brother got in a fight I had to help my brother; blood is thicker than water."
"Did your car break down again?"
"They broke in to my apartment when I was gone, and they took everything!"
Break The Tie
"Whoever wins in Florida will have enough votes to break the tie."
Burn Your Bridges
"I wish you hadn't been rude to that man just now; he is very important in this town and you shouldn't go around burning bridges."
Burning The Candle At Both Ends
"Ever since this new project started I have been burning the candle at both ends. I can't take much more of it."
Burning The Midnight Oil
"Our son has been working hard preparing for his final exams!" Answer: "Yes, he's been up each night burning the midnight oil."
Call It Off
"Tonight's game was called off because of the rain."
Can't Cut The Mustard
"Bob dropped out of medical school; he couldn't cut the mustard."
"I want to quit drinking right now. As of this moment, I am going cold turkey."
Come Hell Or High Water
"Will you be at the family reunion next year?" Answer: "Yes- we'll be there, come hell or high water!"
Cross Your Fingers
"Let's cross our fingers and hope for the best!"
Cry Over Spilt Milk
"Let's not go crying over spilt milk."
"That kid on the other team just fell down; it looks like he might be hurt!" Answer: "He's not hurt; he's just crying wolf."
Curiosity Killed The Cat
"Hey, I wonder what's down that street; it looks awfully dark and creepy." Answer: "Let's not try to find out. Curiosity killed the cat."
"It looks like were going to have to find another way to decide a winner. That one was a dead heat."
"I have been in this business for twenty years. It's dog-eat-dog; the competition is always trying to steal your customers."
Don't Count Your Chickens Until They're Hatched
"Next Friday I will be able to pay you back that money I owe you." Answer: "I won't be counting my chickens..."
Don't Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth
"Don't look a gift horse in the mouth! When you buy your own beers you can decide what brand you want."
Don't Put All Your Eggs In One Basket
"The best way to gamble is to only bet small amounts of money and never put all your eggs in one basket."
Down To The Wire
"It looks like this race is going to come right down to the wire!"
Drastic Times Call For Drastic Measures
"Sales have been slow and we had to let go three of our employees; drastic times call for drastic measures."
"Sam is a great salesman, though lately he's been having a bit of a dry spell."
Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining
"I found a new job after all and I like this one much better than the last!" Answer: "You see, every cloud has a silver lining."
Everything But The Kitchen Sink
"Whenever we go camping my wife wants to bring everything but the kitchen sink!"
Fair And Fair Alike
"Michael stayed home to take care of your sister last night, so tonight it is your turn. Fair and fair alike."
Finding Your Feet
"Don't worry about it. We will help you while you are finding your feet."
Fixed In Your Ways
"Sometimes it is hard to accept that your parents are fixed in their ways."
Flash In The Pan
"What a great first year he had, but after that... nothing!" Answer: "Just another flash in the pan."
From Rags To Riches
"My uncle is a real rags to riches story."
Get Over It
"I was very sick yesterday, but I got over it quickly."
Get Up On The Wrong Side Of The Bed
"Don't start yelling at me just because you got up on the wrong side of the bed."
Give Him The Slip
"My brother will be at the movie tonight. Afterwards, let's give him the slip and go to a party."
Go For Broke
"The way to be successful is to decide exactly what you want, then go for broke."
Great Minds Think Alike
"I have decided that this summer I am going to learn how to scuba dive." Answer: "Me too! I have already paid for the course. Great minds think alike!"
Haste Makes Waste
"You should always take your time when doing your taxes and check your numbers very carefully; haste makes waste."
Have No Idea
"I can't find my keys. I have no idea where I put them."
He Lost His Head
"Okay- I'll tell you what happened. But don't lose your head."
Head Over Heels
"I have been head over heels about my girlfriend since the day I met her."
Icing On The Cake
"I've been accepted by the university, and they've offered me a position on the basketball team!" Answer: "That's wonderful! Icing on the cake."
Idle Hands Are The Devil's Tools
"It makes me nervous to see those kids outside just standing around; idle hands are the devils tools!"
If It's Not One Thing, It's Another
"First the car broke down, and now I can't find my keys! If it's not one thing, it's another!"
In And Out
"I know this city in and out."
In Over Your Head
"Go ahead and lead the meeting today; I'll help you out if you get in over your head."
In The Dark
"Did you know that today was her birthday?" Answer: "No, I was in the dark."
In The Doghouse
"You kids will be in the doghouse with your mother after that mess you made in her garden!"
In The Heat Of The Moment
"Sorry about what I said; I got caught up in the heat of the moment."
It Takes Two To Tango
"Her husband is awful; they fight all the time." Answer: "It takes two to tango."
It's A Small World
"Hey, it's funny seeing you here." Reply: "It's a small world."
Its Anyone's Call
"Who do you think will win this election?" Answer: "Its anyone's call."
Keep An Eye On Him
"I have to run to the bathroom. Can you keep an eye on my suitcase while I am gone?"
Labor Of Love
"Taking care of this dog is a labor of love."
Lend Me Your Ear
"Friends, Romans, countrymen; lend me your ear."
Let Bygones Be Bygones
"You and I have had our disagreements; let's let bygones be bygones."
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
"I wanted to ask her what she thought of her ex-husband, but I figured it was better to let sleeping dogs lie."
Let The Cat Out Of The Bag
"Bob didn't tell anyone that he was sick, but his wife let the cat out of the bag."
Mad As A Hatter
"Everybody in my family knew that our uncle was as mad as a hatter."
Method To My Madness
"Give me a moment to explain; there is method to my madness."
Neck And Neck
"They're coming around the final corner. They're neck and neck!"
Neither A Borrower, Nor A Lender Be
"Could you lend me twenty dollars?" Answer: "Sorry, neither a borrower nor a lender be."
Never Bite The Hand That Feeds You
"We have been your best customers for years. How could you suddenly treat us so rudely? You should never bite the hand that feeds you."
Nose Out Of Joint
"We were only joking; don't get your nose out of joint."
Not A Chance
"Do you think you will be able to finish your report by five o'clock today?" Answer: "Not a chance. I'll be busy in meetings all day."
"Guns are off limits within New York City."
Off On The Wrong Foot
"Let's try to start on time tomorrow and get off on the right foot."
Off The Hook
"You're lucky; it turns out that Dad never heard you come in late last night." Answer: "Great, that means I'm off the hook!"
On Pins And Needles
"Jean was on pins and needles the whole time her father was in the hospital."
On The Fence
"Has he decided whether he will take the job yet?" Answer: "No, he's still on the fence."
On The Same Page
"Before we make any decisions today, I'd like to make sure that everyone is on the same page."
On Top Of The World
"What a great time we had that night; we were on top of the world!"
On Your Last Leg
"I would be glad to sell you my car, but I must tell you that it is on its last leg."
On Your Mind
"You have been on my mind all day."
One For The Road
"Bartender- I'll have one more whiskey for the road."
Out And About
"Where have you been all day?" Answer: "Oh, out and about."
Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
"I meant to read that book, but as soon as I put it down, I forgot about it." Answer: "Out of sight, out of mind."
Out Of The Blue
"Why did she do that?" Answer: "I have no idea. It was completely out of the blue."
Out Of The Frying Pan And Into The Fire
"I didn't like that job because I was working too hard. Yet in this new job I work even harder!" Answer: "Out of the frying pan and into the fire."
Out Of The Woods
"Joe was sick two weeks ago and we were very worried, but now it looks like he is out of the woods."
Out Of Your Element
"He is a great tennis player on the hard courts, but he is out of his element on grass."
Out On A Limb
"I want this project to succeed just as much as you do, but I am not willing to go out on a limb."
Out On The Town
"Do you want to join us tonight? We're going out on the town."
Over My Dead Body
"All of my friends are going out to the lake tonight and I'm going too!" Answer: "Over my dead body you are!"
Par For The Course
"I get sick every time I travel." Answer: "That's just par for the course."
"We've worked so hard to save money that if we took a vacation now it would be penny-wise, pound-foolish."
People Who Live In Glass Houses Should Not Throw Stones
"Look at what time it is... you are late again!" Answer: "Hey, how often are you not on time? People who live in glass houses should not throw stones."
Practice Makes Perfect
"You see how quickly you are getting better at the piano! Practice makes perfect!"
Practice What You Preach
"Good managers always lead by example and practice what they preach."
Preaching To The Choir
"You don't need to tell me this project is important; you're preaching to the choir."
Protest Too Much
"Do you think he is telling the truth?" Answer: "I think he protests too much."
Pulling Your Leg
"I want to ask you a question and I would like an honest answer; no pulling my leg."
Put Your Best Foot Forward
"I want you to get out on that field and put your best foot forward!"
Put Your Foot In Your Mouth
"Let's all be very careful what we say at the meeting tomorrow. I don't want anyone putting their foot in their mouth."
"Have you two boys been out raising cain again?"
Rock The Boat
"Everybody wants to go except for you. Why do you have to rock the boat?"
Roll Out The Red Carpet
"We are all so excited about your coming home that we're going to roll out the red carpet."
Rome Was Not Built In One Day
"It is taking me a long time to write this computer program." Answer: "Rome was not built in one day."
"Well, I know how to get there in a round about way, but maybe we should check the map."
Rub Salt In An Old Wound
"Oh please, let's not rub salt in old wounds!"
"It has always been second nature for me to draw with both hands."
Shake A Leg
"They are waiting outside in the car; let's shake a leg!"
Sick As A Dog
"I heard you were uncomfortable yesterday." Answer: "Uncomfortable? I was as sick as a dog!"
Sink Or Swim
"When we interview new teachers, we just put them in with the students and see how they do. It's sink or swim."
Six Of One, A Half-Dozen Of The Other
Example: "I say she's a stewardess. She says she's a flight attendant. It's six of one, a half-dozen of the other."
Skeletons In The Closet
"I had only known her for one week. How could I know what skeletons she had in her closet?"
Split Down The Middle
"The election is split down the middle with no clear winner at the moment."
Start From Scratch
"How are you going to build your business?" Answer: "Just like everyone else does: starting from scratch."
The Apple Of Your Eye
"Even when they were young, she was always the apple of his eye."
The Ball Is In Your Court
"My uncle helped me to get an interview at his company, now the ball is in my court."
The Best Of Both Worlds
"My wife and I bought one house in Paris and one in New York; it gives us the best of both worlds."
The Bigger They Are The Harder They Fall
"Are you worried that he might be too strong?" Answer: "No I'm not. He is big, but the bigger they are, the harder they fall."
The Devil Is In The Details
"I can sketch a basic outline of the plan for you and it may look very simple, but the devil is in the details."
The Early Bird Catches The Worm
"I always arrive at work 30 minutes early; the early bird catches the worm!"
The Ends Justify The Means
"I agree with your goal, but the ends do not justify the means."
The Jury Is Out
"Its hard to say if what we did was the right thing. The jury is still out on it."
The Pot Calling The Kettle Black
"Here comes the guy who is always late for work." Answer: "Aren't you the pot calling the kettle black?"
The Pros And Cons
"I've considered the pros and cons and I've decided: it is going to be expensive, but I still want to go to college."
The Sky Is The Limit
"After I graduate from business school, the sky's the limit!"
The Straw That Broke The Camel's Back
"You've been rude to me all day, and I've had it. That's the last straw!"
The Writing On The Wall
"Can't you see the writing on the wall?"
"You two go on ahead without me. I don't want to be the third wheel."
Tie The Knot
"Did you hear about Dan and Jenny? They finally decided to tie the knot!"
To Err Is Human, To Forgive Divine
"I will never forgive my mother for what she has done!" Answer: "Don't be angry at her. To err is human, to forgive divine."
Tooth And Nail
"That was a tough match; they fought us tooth and nail!"
Truer Words Were Never Spoken
"The earlier I get up, the better the day I have." Answer:" Truer words were never spoken."
Turn Over A New Leaf
"I'm turning over a new leaf; I've decided to quit smoking."
Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right
"That boy pushed me yesterday and I am going to get him back today!" Answer: "No you are not! Two wrongs do not make a right."
Two's Company; Three's a Crowd
"Why did you have to bring your sister? Two's company; three's a crowd!"
Under The Gun
"Everyone at the office has been working under the gun since the new manager arrived."
Under The Weather
"What's wrong?" Answer: "I'm a bit under the weather."
"We have been up against stronger opponents in the past."
Up For Grabs
"Quick- that table is up for grabs; let's get it before someone else does."
Variety Is The Spice Of Life
Example: "We were originally planning to go to Mexico on our vacation this year - like we did last year - but we decided to go to Egypt instead. Variety is the spice of life!"
Water Under The Bridge
"Aren't you still angry about what he said?" Answer: "No, that was a long time ago. It's all water under the bridge."
Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve
"My brother always lets you know how he feels; he wears his heart on his sleeve."
What They Don't Know Won't Hurt Them
"Don't tell your father what happened; what he doesn't know won't hurt him."
When In Rome, Do As The Romans Do
"Are you sure we should eat this with our hands?" Answer: "Why not? All of these people are eating it that way. When in Rome, do as the Romans do!"
When It Rains, It Pours
"Sometimes we have no customers for two or three hours then suddenly we get 20 people all at once; when it rains, it pours!"
When Pigs Fly
"Would you ever take her on a date?" Answer: "Sure- when pigs fly!"
Wine And Dine
"That man is really is really crazy about my sister. He has been wining and dining her all month."
With Your Back Up Against The Wall
"I'm sorry I can't help you; I've got my back up against the wall."
Without A Doubt
"Are you going to watch the game tomorrow?" Answer: "Without a doubt!"
Word Of Mouth
"Where did you hear about that?" Answer: "Just word of mouth."
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover
"He dresses in plain clothing and drives an ordinary car. Who would know he is the richest man in town? You can't judge a book by its cover!"
Your Guess Is As Good As Mine
"Excuse me, what time does the bus arrive?" Answer: "Your guess is as good as mine; I almost never take the bus."
Source: ESL Forum | English Vocabulary, Grammar and Idioms