Idiomatic Expressions | List of Idiomatic Expressions With Meaning and Examples

Idiomatic Expressions: The English language is a very vast subject. It includes various topics and divisions that we come across regularly. Idiom is an interesting and important part included in the English language and it means a bunch of words stacked together to form a sentence whose meaning is quite different from the actual meaning of the used words.

There are numerous idiomatic expressions with sentences whose meanings are extremely interesting and are also used commonly while by the native English language speakers. There are more than 100 idiomatic expressions with different meanings that might come handy if one wants to fluently speak English.

Enrich your Vocabulary by practicing the English Idioms that are commonly used in everyday conversations and understand their actual meaning.

This article consists of more than 50 idiomatic expressions examples meaning that will help one to easily interpret the actual meaning and use them correctly while holding conversations.

Names of Idiomatic Expressions

List of Idiomatic Expressions

Meaning and examples of few commonly used idiomatic expressions

Keep a straight face.

Meaning: To control and restrain oneself from smiling or laughing.

Example: I had to keep a straight face while my five-year-old brother filled me in about how he had to go through so much “suffering” because of his friends.

Save face

Meaning: To preserve one’s dignity and respect in front of society or other people from getting humiliated.

Example: Jennifer successfully saved her face by living up to her words and doing what she promised.

All bets are off

Meaning: Refers to a situation where everything predicted is now wholly uncertain, and there is no assurance of future events.

Example: The racing cars looked alright, but then the ones driving understood that all bets were off.

Ante up

Meaning: Used when one has to pay money often with a lot of unwillingness.

Example: Jeremy had to ante up the bill for the whole group.

Step up one’s game

Meaning: This refers to the significant improvement of an individual to perform well and compete with others.

Example: Since Clara took part in the art competition, she decided to step up her game.

Pull a rabbit out of the hat

Meaning: To suddenly and unexpectedly do something that solves an issue very effectively and efficiently.

Example: The chef indeed pulled a rabbit out of the hat by decorating 200 cupcakes within 30 minutes.

Once in a blue moon

Meaning: This phrase refers to something that occurs very rarely.

Example: Spotting a tiger in the Sunderbans is a once in a blue moon situation for many tourists.

Idiomatic Expressions 1

To make a long story short

Meaning: To sum up a long and fill in the essential details about the story.

Example: The incident last night went on for a long time, but Rachel knew how to make a long story short.

Jump on the bandwagon

Meaning: When one gets involved in an activity or a trend that has a high success rate or is significantly in fashion at that particular moment.

Example: Since everyone was going to the Maldives for a vacation, Rosa also decided to jump on the bandwagon and do the same.

Hit the books

Meaning: When one starts studying seriously and in an determined way.

Example: This time, Jacob hit the books before the exam.

Give the benefit of the doubt

Meaning: This refers to a situation in which an individual assures someone that they will believe in them even though there are doubts about the truth.

Example: Vanessa was very skeptical about Lisa’s story, but still, she gave her the benefit of the doubt.

Cut someone some slack

Meaning: To give someone some space and not cruelly treat them.

Example: Beth asked her mother to cut her some slack since she was doing all the house chores even when she was sick.

Curiosity killed the cat

Meaning: This idiom warns people that being excessively curious may cause trouble and bring unnecessary danger and misfortune.

Example: I wanted to follow the new girl since she was acting extremely suspicious, but then I decided against it because curiosity killed the cat.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Meaning: This idiom means that when individuals stay apart from others they love and cherish, they will grow more affectionate towards them.

Example: After Jim left to pursue his dream career, Pam felt highly overwhelmed and understood that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Caught in a crossfire

Meaning: This phrase refers to individual suffering or undergoing the effects caused by the fallout or clashing between two individuals or a group of individuals.

Example: When my mom and dad were going through their divorce phase, I was caught in a crossfire and had no idea how to process it.

Bucket list

Meaning: This idiom refers to a list of items that an individual wants to attain or do before their death or a certain age.

Example: My bucket list includes sky diving, horse riding, bungee jumping, and many other things. I wish to complete all of them.

Idiomatic Expressions 2

Your guess is as good as mine

Meaning: This idiom is used to respond to a specific question whose answer is unknown by an individual.

Example: Hinata kept asking about the chances of him passing the English exam, but Kageyama said that his guess was as good as Hinata’s.

Scrape the barrel

Meaning: To pick or choose from the last and worst range of options or resources since that is the only thing available.

Example: Since Michael arrived very late at the party, he had to scrape the barrel for food.

Burn your boats

Meaning: When one does something that leaves them with a troubled situation that can not be reversed, they need to continue to walk down the previously chosen path.

Example: Gina stupidly burned her boats by fighting with everyone, and now she had no partner to help her in her projects.

Let the cat out of the bag

Meaning: To reveal a secret that was kept hidden.

Example: Everyone suspected me of being the culprit, so I decided to let the cat out of the bag.

Never judge a book by its cover

Meaning: This idiom means that nobody should judge anything or anybody by just viewing or looking at their outer appearance.

Example: Even if Clarissa looked mean and weird, she was a very kind-hearted girl who helped everyone. It is very accurate that one should never judge a book by its cover.

Up in the air

Meaning: This phrase is used to talk regarding something that is yet to be decided or confirmed.

Example: The finalization of her marriage date was still up in the air.

Hit the hay

Meaning: This is used when one wants to go and sleep in their bed.

Example: After a hectic day, Paul wanted to hit the hay.

Break a leg

Meaning: This idiom is used in theaters, and it is said to performers to wish them good luck.

Example: Before the musical began, Chris asked Cathy to break a leg in the show.

Piece of cake

Meaning: It is used to refer to something straightforward and easy to do.

Example: Finishing the house chores within a stipulated time was like a piece of cake to Jenny’s mom.

It takes two to tango

Meaning: In a complex situation, or during an argument, both the parties involved are equally responsible, and hence they should accept their fault equally.

Example: After the huge fight, all the blame went to Marcus while Jeff was treated innocently. But then everyone knew that it takes two to tango.

Costs an arm and a leg

Meaning: Something that is very expensive.

Example: She wanted a red dress on her birthday, but then it cost an arm and a leg, so she decided to buy the blue one.

Kill two birds with one stone

Meaning: To attain two things or resolve two issues simultaneously by doing just a single thing.

Example: Oliver decided to kill two birds with one stone by increasing his vocabulary while completing his journal.

Hold your horses

Meaning: This idiom means to slow down and be patient.

Example: I need to hold my horses since I have already made thousands of plans regarding my wedding.

Tickled pink

Meaning: When someone is delighted and pleased about someone or something.

Example: Bokuto was tickled pink when he heard that Akaashi will come to visit him.

Sick as a dog

Meaning: This idiom describes someone who is extremely ill and feels nauseous, and is vomiting consistently.

Example: After the late-night party, Owen was sick as a dog since he consumed way too much alcohol.

Couch potato

Meaning: Someone who is exceptionally lethargic and sluggish usually spends their time watching television and sitting or lying on bed or sofa.

Example: Due to the lockdown, more or less, many people turned into couch potatoes.

Rise and shine

Meaning: This expression is used when someone needs to awaken from their sleep and get out of bed.

Example: The mother came into the room and asked her children to rise and shine since it was already past 8.

Close but no cigar

Meaning: A success or achievement that one almost achieved but failed to attain it ultimately.

Example: It was close but no cigar for Shuyi since he again failed to win the swimming competition.

Raining cats and dogs

Meaning: This idiom means extreme and tremendous rainfall.

Example: Joanne canceled all her appointments since it started raining cats and dogs.

Slap on the wrist

Meaning: Letting someone go with just a warning or a very minimal punishment.

Example: Thank God, that the officers allowed her to go with just a slap on the wrist for breaking the traffic rules.

Under the weather

Meaning: This phrase is utilized to refer to someone who feels sick.

Example: I was apprehensive about Jeonghan since he looked flushed and hence I asked him whether he was under the weather or not.

By the skin of your teeth

Meaning: When one barely manages to complete or succeed in a specific activity or a job.

Example: Bokuto did pass the Maths exam but it was just by the skin of his teeth.

I could eat a horse

Meaning: This expression refers to someone who is extremely hungry and can eat a lot.

Example: Due to the work pressure, Joshua could not eat anything properly during the day and he could eat like a horse.

Beat around the bush

Meaning: When one approaches a specific topic roundabout and avoids speaking about the exact point.

Example: Genelia had no idea about what to say regarding the proposal so she decided to beat around the bush.

Sell like hot cakes

Meaning: Refers to the fast buying and selling of a particular item in a massive quantity within a minimal amount of time.

Example: The new album released by the band were selling like hot cakes.

On cloud nine

Meaning: Extremely delighted and beaming with joy and happiness.

Example: Seungkwan was on cloud nine when his band members celebrated his birthday precisely at midnight.

A bird’s-eye view

Meaning: Having a magnificent and clear view of a particular thing or situation is usually high.

Example: While travelling in the airplane, we got a bird’s-eye view of all the places we flew above.

Keep an ear to the ground

Meaning: Listen very closely and keenly, keeping a track of any new information available.

Example: Martha kept an ear to the ground and got to know about the office barbecue party before anyone.

Kick the bucket

Meaning: This phrase is used informally and it means to die.

Example: John’s grandfather kicked the bucket just a few hours ago. It truly is devastating for him.

Stabbed in the back

Meaning: To break the trust and faith of someone.

Example: I really trusted Sara and gave her immense love but she stabbed me in the back and ran away with my money.

Have butterflies in one’s stomach

Meaning: When someone is excited as well as nervous about someone or something.

Example: While Timothy was waiting for Dora’s reply to his proposal, he felt butterflies in his stomach.

Blow off steam

Meaning: Release someone’s stored up feelings by either talking and screaming loudly or by doing a very vital task.

Example: Sandra was fed up by the daily arguments in her house and hence she went for a long run to blow off her steam.

Steal someone’s thunder

Meaning: When one steal someone else’s limelight of success and becomes the center of attraction themselves.

Example: Monica was extremely afraid that Rachel will steal her thunder just before her wedding.

Down in the dumps

Meaning: The feeling of sadness.

Example: Peter has been down in the dumps ever since her elder brother left for military training.

Till the cows come home

Meaning: This refers to something that can be done for a long time and still there won’t be any significant effect.

Example: I knew it was futile to talk to Jenny, because I can try to make her understand till the cows come home and still she won’t understand.

Bite someone’s head off

Meaning: To get mad and yell at someone or criticize someone without any specific reason.

Example: Yuuji was confused about what he did since Megumi has been biting his head off from the morning.

Not the brightest bulb in the box

Meaning: Refers to someone who is not very sharp and understands things slowly and at their own pace.

Example: Even after giving several instructions, some students in the class did not follow the pattern. They indeed were not the brightest bulb in the box.

Clear the air

Meaning: To eliminate the confusion and tension between certain people by being honest or talking about the dispute so that the matter does not intensify.

Example: The teacher asked everyone to be honest with each other and clear the air so that the conflict or dispute does not go out of hand and everyone remains peacefully.

A drop in the ocean

Meaning: Refers to an amount that is exceptionally minimal and does not count as an essential contribution.

Example: The money that the Mathew family donated was clearly like a drop in the ocean.

Born on the wrong side of the blanket.

Meaning: This phrase is used to refer to a child who is born outside of marriage.

Example: The rumor says that the baby in the Scott family was born on the wrong side of the blanket.

Slap in the face

Meaning: A sudden and surprising act that embarrasses, insults, or hurts someone.

Example: Anna gave a slap in the face to her old company by working for the competitive company after quitting

The ball is in your court

Meaning: It means that a decision is up to you, and you can decide what to do further.

Example: Finn was ready to get married, and now the ball was in Meredith’s court.

Go down in flames

Meaning: This idiom is used when one spectacularly fails something.

Example: My maths exam went down in flames. I should’ve practiced geometry.

Get your act together

Meaning: Keep everything in an organized manner and start doing things more effectively and smoothly.

Example: My teacher asked me to get my act together and start preparing for the annual day since it was just a week away.

Blow hot and cold

Meaning: Used to refer to someone whose is extremely moody since their attitude keeps changing every moment.

Example: During her pregnancy period, she was blowing hot and cold.

Go down the drain

Meaning: When something is on the way of getting lost or spoiled.

Example: Lisa unnecessarily bought five dresses of the same color and spent her money down the drain.

Through thick and thin

Meaning: To remain faithful to someone no matter what happens.

Example: Jeremy and Bonny were always together through thick and thin, and that’s what made their love grow stronger.

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