Religion and Ethnicity Idioms | List of Religion and Ethnicity Idioms With Meaning and Examples

Religion and Ethnicity Idioms: Religion is something that one believes in and worships. On the other hand, ethnicity is an individual’s state of belonging to any social group with a common national or cultural tradition. Race and Ethnicity can often be complex topics, and they are a part of everyday English idioms.

In this article, we have provided a list of idioms on religion and ethnicity, which will help one in having a grip over the English language and its use. These useful religion and ethnicity idioms and phases are very commonly used.

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

Names of Religion and Ethnicity Idioms

List of Religion and Ethnicity Idioms

Meaning and Examples of some commonly used Religion and Ethnicity Idioms

Jim Crow

Meaning: The policies and laws once used in the US for treating black people unfairly and keeping them apart from white people.

Example: During Jim Crow, a black individual was not allowed to drink water from the same fountain as a white individual.

Snowball’s Chance in Hell

Meaning: Used negatively to say that something is impossible or unlikely to happen.

Example: Let’s be honest – we all know there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that we will win the match tonight.

(Going to) Hell in a Handbasket

Meaning: To be in any increasingly and extremely bad or ruinous condition.

Example: With the way Jamie is running things, the company is going to hell in a handbasket.

All Hell Breaks Loose

Meaning: Said for a disruptive or chaotic situation, especially one that begins unexpectedly or suddenly.

Example: I was walking down the street when all hell broke loose, and the drivers started screaming and beeping at each other for no reason at all.

All Over Hell’s Half Acre

Meaning: Spread out across a great area or distance.

Example: We missed the turn when we were driving out to meet you, and we were all over hell’s half-acre before we were able to find the right road again.

French leave

Meaning: To absent or depart oneself from someplace or event without permission, ceremony, or announcement.

Example: As the night started to grow young, we decided to take French leave and make our way home.

Go Dutch

Meaning: To divide a bill or check so that every person contributes to it.

Example: If we are going out for dinner tonight, we are going to go Dutch.

Good Samaritan

Meaning: An individual who selflessly helps others – especially those in distress.

Example: James was hailed by the journalists as a good Samaritan after he stepped in and helped a lady who was being robbed.

Greek to me

Meaning: It implies to be a foreign language, as one doesn’t understand it at all.

Example: Can you help me understand this math problem? It is all Greek to me.

If you’ll pardon my French

Meaning: Excuse my inappropriate language – used mainly humorously around children for suggesting the inappropriate word was, in fact, a word from a different language.

Example: “Kelly, don’t use language like this in front of the kids.” “Oops, pardon my French!”

Indian file

Meaning: In a line, one individual or one thing in width; in a single file.

Example: The kids lined up and marched in Indian file toward the auditorium.

Indian giver

Meaning: An individual who asks for the return of or takes back a gift after they have gifted it.

Example: I’m sorry for being an Indian giver like this; I’m afraid I need the 100 dollars back that I gave you last week.

Indian summer

Meaning: A particularly successful, peaceful, or enjoyable time as something nears its end.

Example: As his illness worsened, my grandfather still enjoyed painting, so I think he had an Indian summer before her death.

Keep the flag flying.

Meaning: to defend, promote, highlight or support the positive characteristics of something or someone.

Example: The government official has been keeping the flag flying for this issue for years, and it’s finally starting to pick upstream.

Religion and Ethnicity Idioms 1

Slow boat to China

Meaning: On a trajectory or course that will take a very long time, especially with the destination or conclusion being uncertain.

Example: It’s been four weeks since I ordered those shoes online – is the package on a slow boat to China or something?

Stars and stripes

Meaning: The flag of America.

Example: You can always count on Stefan to hang up the Stars and stripes for the fourth of July.

Too many chiefs and not enough Indians

Meaning: A situation in which there are too many people in charge and not enough people doing the work.

Example: There are 12 managers in this bank, no surprise that some insiders say that there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians.

Walk Spanish

Meaning: To force an individual to leave a place.

Example: After the fight between Akash and me last night, he made me walk Spanish.

Young Turk

Meaning: A young individual who is a member of an insurgent, progressive or revolutionary political group.

Example: The dictators were finally toppled by an uprising of the Young Turks.

Angel’s Advocate

Meaning: An individual who looks for and argues in support of the positive benefits and aspects of a certain argument, whether or not they believe them to be true.

Example: I know many people oppose building a new railway, but let me play angel’s advocate for a second and inform you about all its benefits.

Baptism by Fire

Meaning: A difficult ordeal that an individual has to undergo through immersion and without preparation.

Example: One week into his new job, Karan felt like he was undergoing a baptism by fire when he was put in charge of a big project.

Be A Cold Day In Hell

Meaning: Any impossible event used as an analogy for something the speaker thinks will never happen.

Example: Elena wants a later curfew? Will, it will be a cold day in Hell before that happens.

Cross to Bear

Meaning: A difficult burden or responsibility that an individual must handle on their own.

Example: When Kenny’s father passed away, he was left with quite a cross to bear, having to support his mother and siblings.

Devil’s Advocate

Meaning: An individual who argues against or attacks an argument, proposition, or idea – even if one is in favour of it – for debate or to further examine its validity, details, or strength.

Example: I’m completely in favour of Complete health care, but let me be the devil’s advocate for a minute – how is the government fund such a massive undertaking?

(The) Devil Is in the Details

Meaning: Actions, situations or plans that seem to be sound must be carefully examined, as minor details can cause major, unforeseen problems.

Example: Make sure you double-check your code – with software, the devil is in the details.

Like Chinese arithmetic

Meaning: In case something is hard and complicated to understand, it’s like Chinese arithmetic.

Example: I couldn’t finish the Science test yesterday; it was like Chinese arithmetic.

More holes than Swiss cheese

Meaning: In case an argument, plan or theory has more holes than Swiss chess, it has many faults and problems.

Example: Jason claimed the management had more holes in it than Swiss cheese.

Religion and Ethnicity Idioms 2

Perfidious Albion

Meaning: Referring to the acts of diplomatic duplicity, sleights, treachery and hence infidelity.

Example: If Selina is trying to hold on to us against our will, she will face Perfidious Albion on speed.

Scotch Mist

Meaning: A thick mist with drizzling rain, common in some parts of England and Scotland.

Example: I hope you brought your raincoat today because we’ll be walking in a Scotch mist.

(To) Dance with the Devil

Meaning: Dancing with the devil is to engage in reckless, risky or potentially immoral behaviour.

Example: Mee-maw is dancing with the devil by going to the casino every night.

Hail Mary pass

Meaning: In American football, a long forward pass with the low success of being caught, typically thrown in desperation at the end of a half.

Example: Last night we won the match because the captain of the team threw a Hail Mary pass.

Is the Pope Catholic?

Meaning: A humorous response to any question the speaker feels would obviously be answered in the affirmative.

Example: “Are you coming to my bachelorette party?” “Is the Pope Catholic? Of course, I’ll go to your bachelorette.”

Mexican standoff

Meaning: A deadlock, stalemate or impasse from which no party involved will or can emerge victoriously.

Example: No one from the management was willing to comprise on the issue, and since each of them had veto power, it seemed like they were heading into a Mexican standoff.

Not Have a Prayer

Meaning: To be completely impossible or incredibly unlikely.

Example: With the way the other competitors have performed, I’m afraid I don’t have a prayer.

Preach to the Choir, Preach to the Converted

Meaning: Trying to convince someone about something that they already support.

Example: You’re preaching to the choir here – we all have been a part of the team and know how much effort it takes to complete the work.

Sacred Cow

Meaning: Someone or something considered to have a status that prevents it from avoiding any criticism or questioning.

Example: Unfortunately, this particular program is a sacred cow and will lose its mind if it cut its funding.

Saving Grace

Meaning: A redeeming quality of someone or something.

Example: Aunt Grace’s constant talking can sometimes be annoying, but her kindness is her saving grace – I know she is going to help me if I ever need her.

Act of God

Meaning: This is an event that is beyond human control, especially the one in which someone is hurt, or something is damaged.

Example: The Prime Minister described the pandemic as an act of God.

Adam’s ale

Meaning: Water – a humorous phrase based on the idea that the only thing Adam and Eve had to drink in the Garden of Eden was water.

Example: Jack, I don’t have any alcohol at home. Can I offer you some Adam’s ale?

As patient as Job

Meaning: Extremely calm, patient, dutiful and composed.

Example: There are a number of opinionated people in the management, so the next member joining needs to be as patient as Job.

Bear one’s cross

Meaning: To cope or handle one’s burden – to endure one’s difficulties.

Example: I’m sorry I can’t help you with the problem, you’ll have to carry your cross.

Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t

Meaning: Used for saying that it is better to deal with a difficult person or situation one knows about than with a new person or situation that could be worse.

Example: I guess I’ll ask Rocky again. His work wasn’t perfect last time, but better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.

As poor as a church mouse

Meaning: Having little or no money; very poor

Example: My parents were as poor as a church mouse growing up; their sole focus was to give my siblings and me a good life.

As ugly as sin

Meaning: Something or someone who is extremely visually displeasing or unattractive.

Example: I’m sure I looked as ugly as sin by the end of the night, with my makeup smeared all my face and my hair a total mess.

Between the devil and the deep blue sea

Meaning: When an individual is in a difficult situation, they have to choose between two equally unpleasant courses of action.

Example: I’m caught between the devil and the deep blue sea – if we go on a holiday this month, I may get fired, but if I don’t go, my girlfriend is going to be so mad at me.

By the grace of God

Meaning: By the blessings, assistance or direction of a higher power.

Example: By the grace of God, let them never have to go through something like that again.

Count your blessings

Meaning: To reflect on the good things in their lives and be grateful for them.

Example: I know you’re sad that you didn’t win the competition, but so many extraordinary things have happened for you this year. Count your blessing, my darling.

The crux of the matter

Meaning: Th most central, fundamental, or important essence or elements of a problem, issue or matter at hand.

Example: Here’s the crux of the matter, Taylor. We feel like your performance has been going down lately.


Meaning: Nonchalant, especially towards consequences or risks.

Example: I can’t believe she went out in the rain even with all the weather warnings. Her devil-may-care attitude is going to get her in trouble someday.

Eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth

Meaning: This implies that people should be punished according to the way in which they have offended.

Example: I hope Jackson is hurt in the same way as you have hurt me – an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

Fall from grace

Meaning: To fall out of favour, generally due to having done something which tarnishes one’s reputation.

Example: The actress had a catastrophic fall from grace after her very public racially charged tirade.

Get religion

Meaning: Beginning to follow or adhere to any particular religion.

Example: My girlfriend is Muslim, so I guess it’s about time I got religion myself.

Come hell or high water.

Meaning: No matter what, in spite of any obstacle.

Example: I don’t care if I have to drive through the rain – we are getting to this party come hell or high water.

Give the devil his due.

Meaning: Acknowledging the good in an individual who is otherwise regarded unfavourably.

Example: Taylor annoys me, but she is a hard worker – I have to give the devil his due.

Go to hell in a handbasket.

Meaning: To be in an increasingly and extremely bad or ruinous condition.

Example: With the way Jason’s running things, the company is going to hell in a handbasket.

God forbids

Meaning: A phrase that invokes the protection of God to keep something from happening.

Example: God forbid I get another complaint from the teachers. I’ll be suspended from the school.

Low man on the totem pole

Meaning: The individual with the least amount of authority, experience or/and influence in a corporate or social hierarchy.

Example: I know I’ll be low man on the totem pole with this job, but at least it will give me a start in my career.

Mecca for someone or something

Meaning: A place that is exceptionally well-known with or important to any specific group of people.

Example: Mumbai is something of a Mecca for aspiring actors in India.

Dutch auction

Meaning: An auction in which the asking price has been set high and then lowered until someone buys the auction.

Example: Is this a Dutch auction? Why is the auctioneer starting at 500 dollars for that piece of junk?

For England

Meaning: Meaning to talk a lot.

Example: Whenever I’m with Karan, she just talks for England, and I can’t get a word in.

Poverty is no sin

Meaning: An individual should not be regarded a culpable or inferior simply because they are economically disadvantaged.

Example: Poverty is no sin Landon, don’t treat these homeless people in such as bad manner.

Sell your soul to the devil.

Meaning: To abandon one’s morals or values in return for some highly desired benefit, usually power, wealth, success etc.

Example: My partner is afraid we’ve sold our soul to the devil by agreeing to this new partnership. We will stay in business, but at what cost?

Speak of the devil

Meaning: Acknowledgement of an individual who has arrived just as or after they were being discussed.

Example: Speak of the devil, look, Tessa just walked through the front door.

Until hell freezes over

Meaning: Used for indicating that something will never happen.

Example: I am not going to name Sheldon as the head of the company until hell freezes over.

Double Dutch

Meaning: A fashion of jumping rope in which both ropes are swung at the same time in the opposite directions.

Example: I’m good at jumping rope, but I always get up when I try Double Dutch.

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