Animal Idioms: English is a language that uses many idioms to describe a particular person or situation. Animal idioms in English are used quite often in our day-to-day interactions. Now everyone can’t remember every one of them. So here is a list of animal idioms that we have compiled for you. It will have animal idioms with meanings. For better understanding, we have provided the list with animal idioms with sentence examples. This article will help you to increase your vocabulary and knowledge of English.
Enrich your Vocabulary by practicing the English Idioms that are commonly used in everyday conversations and understand their actual meaning.
Names of Animal Idioms
List of Animal Idioms
- 800-pound gorilla
- a busy bee
- a cat has nine lives
- a cat in gloves catches no mice
- a cat nap
- a cold fish
- a guinea pig
- a home bird
- a lame duck
- a little bird told me
- a lone wolf
- a scaredy-cat
- a sitting duck
- all bark and no bite
- all hat and no cattle
- ants in your pants
- back the wrong horse
- beat a dead horse
- bee in one’s bonnet
- bird in a gilded cage
- bird’s-eye view
- birds of a feather
- bite the hand that feeds you
- black sheep
- blow the cobwebs away
- Cat got your tongue?
- cat on a hot tin roof
- cat’s paw
- change horses in midstream
- chickens come home to roost
- chomp at the bit
- cool cat
- cry wolf
- curiosity killed the cat
- dark horse
- dead as the dodo
- a dog in the manger
- eager beaver
- early bird
- elephant in the room
- every dog has its day
- feather one’s nest
- fish for compliments
- fish out of water
- flew the coop
- fox in the henhouse
- get one’s ducks in a row
- goose is cooked
- have a dog in the hunt
- hog wild
- hold your horses
- kangaroo loose in the top paddock
- kill two birds with one stone
- leopard can’t change its spots
- lick one’s wounds
- lion’s den
- make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
- nature of the beast
- puppy dog eyes
- put the cart before the horse
- raise hackles
- seize the bull by the horns
- smell a rat
- swan song
- tail that wags the dog
- teach an old dog new tricks
- the world is your oyster
- to have butterflies in your stomach
- wild goose chase
- you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink
Meaning: A person or group with enough power to break the rules; a significant, domineering individual or group
Example: Microsoft is an 800-pound gorilla in the computer industry.
Meaning: A busy, energetic individual who rushes from one task to the next.
Example: Though the internship was very hectic, she enjoyed being a busy bee.
Meaning: to continue escaping from challenging or risky situations without being killed or harmed
Example: The fact that he could survive the car crash proves that he is a cat with nine lives.
Meaning: Being overly cautious or polite can sometimes cause a person to fail to achieve their aim.
Example: I believe you will receive the promotion if you pursue it more aggressively. After all, a cat wearing gloves isn’t going to catch any mice.
Meaning: A brief but peaceful sleep time.
Example: I’m going to try to get a cat nap in before my next shift starts, or else I’ll be tired for the rest of the evening.
Meaning: Someone who is emotionless and appears unfriendly or uninterested.
Example: Because Bill came across as a cold fish during the interview, the management opted not to hire him as the store greeter.
Meaning: Someone or something that is utilized as a test subject.
Example: Julie used her husband as a guinea pig for her new baked chicken dish.
Meaning: One who prefers the familiarity and comforts of home to new and unexpected places or things.
Example: She invited me to a party with some of her play’s cast members, but I am a home bird, especially when I don’t know who I’ll be hanging out with.
Meaning: Someone or something in need of assistance.
Example: The company began as a lame duck saved by an inventive entrepreneur who chose to take some risks and venture in a new route.
Meaning: A statement used when one does not want to disclose the source of knowledge that they are about to or have already communicated.
Example: A little bird told me that Mark is going to propose to Sarah soon.
Meaning: Someone who does not seek or enjoy other people’s company.
Example: Shannon should’ve known Brad would break her heart—he’s a lone wolf who does not enjoy being close to anyone.
Meaning: A person who is easily terrified or who is unnecessarily afraid.
Example: Greg called Joanne a scaredy-cat because she refused to go exploring in the woods after dark.
Meaning: Something that is defenseless and susceptible to a simple attack.
Example: When my car stopped working in a dangerous neighborhood, I felt like a sitting duck waiting to be stolen.
Meaning: Full of threats or impressive talk that is scarier or impressive than what one can or will do.
Example: If I don’t keep off his yard, he constantly threatens to call the cops, but he’s all bark and no bite.
Meaning: Full of boasting that is more amazing than what one possesses or is capable of doing.
Example: He speaks as though he knows more than everyone else, yet he’s all hat and no cattle.
ants in your pants
Meaning: Said of someone who can’t sit still because of anxiousness, extra energy, or impatience.
Example: I will take the kids to the playground today since they have ants in their pants.
Meaning: To assist someone or an attempt that has failed.
Example: I don’t want to bet on the wrong horse, but Jed appears to be the stronger candidate.
Meaning: To keep focusing on a subject or topic that is no longer important or relevant.
Example: We’ve all moved on from that issue, so there’s no use in beating a dead horse.
Meaning: An fixation, usually with something unusual or causing uneasiness.
Example: Dad has had a bee in his bonnet to relocate to a warmer area ever since the blizzard last year.
Meaning: To live a life of luxury and money but to lack true freedom, happiness, or fulfillment.
Example: John abandoned his friends and family to pursue his fortune, but now that he has no friends or loved ones, he is like a bird in a gilded cage.
Meaning: A complete examination of an issue or situation.
Example: To figure out why the company was on the verge of bankruptcy, the CFO needed to regress and gain a bird’s-eye view of the issue to pinpoint the source of the problem.
Meaning: People who are similar or like-minded.
Example: I had a feeling you and John would get along great. After all, you’re like birds of a feather.
Meaning: To despise or mistreat people on whom you rely or benefit.
Example: You may disagree with your parents’ regulations, but be cautious not to bite the hand that feeds you, for you owe them everything.
Meaning: One who is distinct from the rest of a family, group, or organization.
Example: Because I’m so calm and submissive, everyone likes me. The same cannot be true about my crazy cousin Nathan, who has always been the black sheep in our family.
Meaning: To energize or revitalize oneself.
Example: An early-morning run always clears the cobwebs before the day begins.
Meaning: A physical fight or angry argument between people, especially women.
Example: Their argument on where to go ended up being a catfight.
Meaning: A witty query aimed at someone who isn’t saying much or at all.
Example: What’s the matter, Sonny? Did a cat get your tongue?
Meaning: Someone who is tense and unwilling to sit still or relax.
Example: She’s been sitting like a cat on a hot tin roof all day, waiting for the doctor to ring with her test results.
Meaning: A person who is exploited by another to attain a goal, especially dishonestly or cynically.
Example: You’re always trying to make a cat’s paw of me, but I’m not going to do any more of your work.
Meaning: cruelly or teasingly cruel, as in prolonging another’s misery or torment
Example: You cannot escape the cat-and-mouse technique of the interrogators
Meaning: To appoint a new leader during a time of turmoil or uncertainty.
Example: Throughout the crisis, the prime minister has been at the helm. I just don’t think we should switch horses in the middle of the race.
Meaning: Previous actions will have consequences or generate problems for oneself in the future.
Example: I knew not turning in my schoolwork would be a problem at some point. My chickens have now come home to roost.
Meaning: To feel impatient for something to happen or to be frustrated by a delay.
Example: The crowd was chomped at the bit of seeing the new structure unveiled.
Meaning: Someone who is considered hip and cool, usually a man.
Example: Their guitarist is a cool cat.
Meaning: To assert that something is happening when it is not, resulting in the rejection of the following genuine claims.
Example: I’m sure there isn’t a severe crisis—Janet is usually crying wolf for us to do her work for her.
Meaning: Curiosity can get you into danger.
Example: I believe you’ll offend her by asking such personal questions—after all, curiosity killed the cat.
Meaning: Someone who wins a competition unexpectedly.
Example: Nobody expected Cheri to win the race after fracturing her leg last year, but she proved to be a dark horse and finished first.
Meaning: Old or unpopular.
Example: Despite its popularity in the 1970s, disco music is now as extinct as the dodo.
Meaning: Someone who insists on having what they do not want or need to keep someone else from obtaining it.
Example: Like a dog in the manger, the child refused to hand up the notebook her older sister needed to finish her school homework.
Meaning: one who is hardworking and passionate
Example: Give the new girl the large project; she’s a natural eager beaver.
Meaning: Having an exceptionally acute vision.
Example: The man had such eagle eyes that he could distinguish pennies on the ground from across the street.
Meaning: Someone who is more active and aware in the morning than later in the day.
Example: I suppose it’s more out of need than anything else, but I became an early bird as soon as I had children.
Meaning: An obvious truth or fact, especially one seen as embarrassing or undesirable, deliberately neglected or ignored.
Example: We all sat silently sipping our tea, none of us wanting to bring up the elephant in the room, Joel’s expulsion from the college.
Meaning: At some point in their lives, everyone will experience good fortune or success.
Example: I know you’re surprised that that guy earned a higher grade than you, but every dog has his day.
Meaning: to furnish and decorate one’s home
Example: I can’t wait to start feathering my nest now that the place is officially mine!
Meaning: To attempt to win appreciation from someone by stating unpleasant things about oneself.
Example: Dan, we know you’re a wise man. You don’t need to solicit accolades by mentioning the one C you received.
Meaning: Someone who does not feel at ease in a new setting.
Example: Marie felt like a fish out of water when she was promoted to manager at the company where she worked as a clerk.
Meaning: to abandon or leave
Example: I couldn’t make the party any longer, so I flew the coop.
Meaning: Someone having ill intent.
Example: If I were you, I’d keep an eye out for him like he’s a fox in the henhouse.
Meaning: To take action to become more organized, prepared, and up-to-date.
Example: We need to have our ducks in a row so that there are no hassles at home while we’re away.
Meaning: One is ultimately defeated, destroyed, or finished.
Example: The crew did their best, but their goose is already cooked.
Meaning: To have a vested interest in or something to gain from a particular situation.
Example: Many people believe that the tax proposal only affects major international firms, while many small business owners end up having a dog in the hunt.
Meaning: Uncontrollably, often as a result of enthusiasm.
Example: The audience had been cheering, but they went hog wild as the lead singer took the stage.
Meaning: Be patient or wait a moment.
Example: I know you’re all eager to see the prototype, but please hold your horses while we get everything in order.
Meaning: An expression of craziness, eccentricity, or folly.
Example: If Tommy believes he can persuade our mother to have a tattoo for his birthday, he has a kangaroo loose in the top paddock.
Meaning: Using excessive, overcomplicated, or expensive tactics or power to accomplish something little or easy.
Example: They are attempting to kill a fly with an elephant gun with this new scheme. When a single department could efficiently process applications from start to end, four separate departments now handle each stage of an application.
Meaning: To finish, accomplish, or take care of two tasks simultaneously or with a single series of actions; to solve two problems with a single step or solution.
Example: Bike-to-work programs are a terrific way to kill two birds with one stone: gain more fitness while saving money on your daily commute.
Meaning: Even if one pretends or asserts otherwise, one will remain faithful to one’s nature.
Example: Even though he says that he has worked on his behavior, I will not hire him for the position. A leopard can’t change its spots.
Meaning: To withdraw to recover from a blunder or defeat.
Example: They were severely trounced in the argument and were forced to return home to lick their wounds.
Meaning: A especially dangerous, unfriendly, or unpleasant location or circumstance
Example: When I walked in front of the board for my yearly evaluation, I felt like I was stepping into the lion’s den.
Meaning: To create something beautiful or valuable out of inferior materials.
Example: If you’re serious about learning to paint, you should invest in high-quality brushes and canvas. After all, it’s pointless to try to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
Meaning: Something’s fundamental, intrinsic characteristic or character
Example: In the stock market, you can either get rich quickly or lose your shirt. That’s just the nature of the beast.
Meaning: A pleading expression with wide, sad eyes and arched brows.
Example: Stop staring at me like that! I can’t get enough of your puppy dog eyes!
Meaning: To perform things in the wrong order.
Example: Starting the fundraising before we know how much money we need is like putting the cart before the horse.
Meaning: To irritate, annoy, or agitate someone severely.
Example: When he pitched directly towards the batter’s head, that raised my hackles.
Meaning: Approaching, confronting, or dealing with a problem or challenging circumstance directly and confidently.
Example: I’ve been complaining about being unemployed for far too long—the time it’s to take the bull by the horns and find work!
Meaning: To be suspicious of betrayal, dishonesty, or corruption.
Example: When she observed John slinking away from the crime scene, she felt she smelt a rat.
Meaning: A final performance, product, or achievement before someone or something stops to create work or products.
Example: This is a spectacular swan song for the accomplished novelist, reaching and frequently exceeding the lofty heights of her first work.
Meaning: The most minor or least important component of something that controls the more significant or more critical components
Example: Because their youngest son prefers to sleep in late, they changed their entire weekly plan. Talk about the dog’s tail wagging.
Meaning: to teach someone, especially an older adult, a new skill or behavior
Example: It’s lovely that you want to teach your grandfather how to use a computer, but keep in mind that teaching an old dog new tricks might be complicated.
Meaning: In life, one can achieve whatever one desires.
Example: Do not think about what you can do in life. You are very talented, and the world is your oyster.
Meaning: A feeling of uneasiness.
Example: The butterflies in my stomach almost prevented me from stepping on stage and performing.
Meaning: a condition in which problems continue to emerge quicker than one can handle or deal with them
Example: Every time we believe we’ve finished debugging the software, new issues emerge. We’ve been playing whack-a-mole since the beginning!
Meaning: A long or chaotic search for something challenging to locate
Example: I’ve been on a wild goose chase looking for Dan’s favorite potato chips.
Meaning: You can give someone an advantage or an opportunity, but you can’t make someone do something they don’t want to do.
Example: Considering the scenario, everyone in the team is trying their best to motivate him to practice. But here is the thing, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.