Short Sayings and Idioms | List of Short Sayings and Idioms With Meaning and Examples

Short Sayings and Idioms: The English language contains an enormous number of idioms. There are various types of phrases, and each of them has highly different and unique meanings.

There are many popular idioms that you may have heard or come across frequently since many people use them. Since the list of idioms is vast, it becomes pretty complex for an individual to remember all of them and their appropriate meaning.

Therefore, to help you understand and remember the meaning of those idioms, we have prepared a list of idioms and phrases with meanings and examples.

This list contains more than 50 phrases with meanings and will help you use them properly since they are also equipped with suitable examples.

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

Name of Short Sayings and Idioms

List of Short Sayings and Idioms

Meaning and Examples of few commonly used Short Sayings and Idioms

Raining cats and dogs

Meaning: Heavy and continuous downpour of rain

Example: Cecelia failed to attend her favorite band’s concert since cats and dogs were raining outside.

A blessing in disguise

Meaning: Refers to something or someone who seems unlucky and strange initially, but in the end, turns out to be something good.

Example: When Clara told me that she missed her flight, I was apprehensive, but later I understood that it was a blessing in disguise since the flight was 15 hours late.

Better late than never

Meaning: It is good to do something after the given time to do it over, rather than not do it at all.

Example: She completed her project late, but that’s alright, better late than never.

Let someone off the hook

Meaning: This idiom means to let go of someone without giving them the punishment they deserve for committing specific wrongdoing.

Example: Phoebe let Joey off the hook to finish her entire pie from the refrigerator since he was indeed starving.

It’s not rocket science

Meaning: Refers to something that is not very difficult or complicated to understand.

Example: When Peter started to panic because of their English language syllabus, George told him that it was not rocket science and would help him out.

No pain, no gain

Meaning: One must work diligently and put much effort if they want to achieve their desired goals.

Example: When Gregory was upset about her Maths marks, Beth told her that she should work hard next time since there was no pain, no gain.

A little bird told me

Meaning: This is used when one does not want to disclose the person’s identity who provided them with a piece of certain information.

Example: Even though Amelia did not inform Oscar about her being pregnant, he got to know. When asked, Oscar said that a little bird told him about it.

Once bitten, twice shy

Meaning: This phrase is used to indicate to someone afraid of doing a sure thing that either hurt or scared them when they tried it for the first time.

Example: Sam is extremely afraid to get on an elevator because he was stuck inside it during his first ride – once bitten, twice shy.

When in doubt, leave it out

Meaning: When one is uncertain and doubtful about using or consuming a particular product, they must discard it.

Example: Ursula was unsure about the new milk brand, so her husband told her not to buy it – when in doubt, leave it out.

Bite off more than one can chew

Meaning: When one tries to achieve something complicated for them to succeed or takes up work more than they can handle.

Example: She decided to complete her paperwork for one week within two hours. It was like she was biting off more than she could chew.

A skeleton in the closet

Meaning: This idiom is used to hide a specific embarrassing act or any kind of secret of one’s past.

Example: Flora’s past was hidden like a skeleton in the closet, but everything was exposed after her marriage.

Short Sayings and Idioms 1

Hit the sack

Meaning: When one goes off to sleep.

Example: After the fantastic and exciting party, Joshua came home and hit the sack.

Get your act together

Meaning: When one organizes their life by effectively doing things and making clear decisions regarding their goal.

Example: Before the competition, my coach asked me to get my act together to win it.

Get your hands dirty

Meaning: Get involved in physical or laborious work; doing or getting involved in something illegal.

Example: If Robert wanted to impress Diana, then he had to get his hands dirty.

Vanessa got her hands dirty by dealing with drugs.

Ring a bell

Meaning: When someone hears something or is reminded of something, that makes one stimulate an old and rusty memory.

Example: After the accident, all her family members tried to remind Chelsea of her old life, but it did not ring a bell in her mind.

Sit tight

Meaning: When one stays and waits patiently precisely where they are without taking any action.

Example: The detectives asked us to sit tight and wait until they found the real culprit.

Do the job

Meaning: This idiom is used when an individual does a specific job and attains desired results.

Example: For cutting the turkey, I think the big knife will do the job.

Go cold turkey

Meaning: To suddenly and unexpectedly put a stop to a particular activity or a specific addiction.

Example: Vienna went cold turkey and finally stopped smoking cigarettes.

A show of hands

Meaning: When people raise their hands for giving a suggestion or showing support to a specific proposal.

Example: The audience did a show of hands to show which team was supported by whom.

The devil’s job

Meaning: To manage to do an activity or job with extreme frustration and much difficulty.

Example: Completing those three projects within one day was like the devil’s job.

Short Sayings and Idioms 2

A chip on your shoulder

Meaning: This idiom describes someone who remains angry as thinking that they have been mistreated or are not as capable as others.

Example: Felix has had a chip on his shoulder ever since he knew that someone else won the debate competition instead of him.

Burst someone’s bubble

Meaning: When someone is deprived of their joy since someone else gives them a piece of disappointing news or shows them a reality.

Example: Jessica had already thought of going abroad after getting the scholarship, but the committee members burst her bubble by giving the scholarship to someone else.

Knock it out of the park

Meaning: To do something extremely well and good.

Example: Oliver’s results were excellent; he knocked it out of the park.

Swinging for the fences

Meaning: This phrase means that if someone wants to achieve something, they must put all their effort into achieving it.

Example: The baseball team started swinging for their fences after their terrible performance during the first half.

Cut the mustard

Meaning: To attain or surpass the required or desired performance.

Example: Rosa cut the cheese in her dance performance.

Eat my dust

Meaning: This idiom describes someone who is highly confident about surpassing their opponent.

Example: Liam was highly confident about the win, and hence he told all his opponents that they will eat his dust.

Until hell freezes over

Meaning: Refers to a specific period in the impossible near future.

Example: She will continue her habit of excessive drinking until hell freezes over.

Act of God

Meaning: An accident or event that is caused due to natural causes and is beyond the control of a human.

Example: The insurance company refused to provide money for the shop since it was damaged in an earthquake, which is an act of God.

Oops a daisy

Meaning: Said when a small child falls or trips over.

Example: Oops, a Daisy, Martha. It’s alright, please don’t cry.

Turn over a new leaf

Meaning: Make a fresh and new start by changing their old behavior and attitude.

Example: After having a near-death experience, Johnny decided to leave all his bad habits and turn a new leaf.

Drum something into someone’s head

Meaning: Teach someone a particular thing by constantly repeating its explanation.

Example: Swimming is a thing that is drummed into every individual’s head forever if they once learn it.

Head over heels

Meaning: Absolutely and being in love with someone or something

Example: Jim always bought flowers and chocolates for Pam. It just made it obvious how he was completely head over heels for Pam.

From head to toe

Meaning: Applied or spread over one’s entire body.

Example: After returning from the beach, Justin was tanned from head to toe.

Away with the fairies

Meaning: Giving the conception of being mentally sick, distracted, or in a land of fantasy.

Example: Sara thinks that Carlos was away with the fairies when he bought that disgusting pair of sneakers.

Drive someone crazy

Meaning: To annoy, irritate, or anger someone by doing something.

Example: Garry was constantly crying and talking about his divorce. It was truly driving me crazy.

Freak out

Meaning: To suddenly get excited or angry or shocked due to someone or something.

Example: That sudden jump scare worked because Hannah was utterly freaked out.

Be full of the joys of spring

Meaning: When one is extremely cheerful, delighted, and happy.

Example: Joanne’s grandmother gave her a small charm bracelet and asked her to be full of the joys of spring.

Have the time of your life

Meaning: To have extreme fun and enjoy a lot.

Example: Last night at the pajama party, I had the time of my life.

Go on a wild goose chase

Meaning: When someone frantically searches for something or someone who either does not exist or is impossible to find in the first place.

Example: After spending an entire day in the forest, I finally understood that we spent our day on a wild goose chase.

Kill two birds with one stone

Meaning: When one does two things or achieves two things with just a single move or activity.

Example: I decided to kill two birds with one stone by buying my necessary clothing on the way to the airport.

Cutting corners

Meaning: To do something straightforwardly and less expensively.

Example: I need to cut corners on my expense to pay all my bills.

Get something out of one’s system

Meaning: When one finally does something or says something that they have wanted to do or say for a very long time.

Example: Victor decided to finally get it out of his system and tell his parents how he wants to become a professional dancer.

Go back to the drawing board

Meaning: To start something over

Example: Even though Alex was in grade one, he had no idea about the alphabet. Hence his teacher asked him to go back to the drawing board.

Miss the boat

Meaning: This idiom is used when an individual is unsuccessful in an upper hand in a particular situation or opportunity.

Example: There was a massive sale in the supermarket, but Georgia missed the boat since she had to work overtime.

Pull someone’s leg

Meaning: To joke around or tease someone by making them believe in something untrue.

Example: My favorite hobby is to pull my sister’s leg – I don’t know why but she gets fooled so easily.

Under the weather

Meaning: Being or feeling sick.

Example: Joshua was under the weather, and hence he had to miss the basketball game.

Comparing apples to oranges

Meaning: A comparison between two highly different things whose comparison is not possible.

Example: The twins looked the same, but their behaviors were highly different. Comparing their behavior felt like comparing apples and oranges.

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

Meaning: One should not raise their hopes depending on something that may happen because there’s a chance that it will not come true.

Example: Henry asked Kevin not to count his chickens before they hatch since he was already planning to go to Hawaii when his leave application was yet to be granted.

Like a fish out of the water

Meaning: This idiom refers to an uncomfortable individual who feels awkward in a particular situation since it is very unfamiliar and different.

Example: The party last week was highly glamorous. I felt like a fish out of water there.

One-trick pony

Meaning: Someone or something that has only one unique trait or area of expertise.

Example: He was brilliant in swimming, but that’s all. He was a one-trick pony.

As right as rain

Meaning: To be healthy and in excellent health.

Example: After two full weeks of bed rest, Susan was as right as rain.

Party pooper

Meaning: This idiom refers to someone who ruins a delightful and cheerful mood by discouraging others or being sad and gloomy and refusing to participate in the joy.

Example: We were delighted since we won the football match, but Jordan reminded us of our upcoming annual exams and ruined our mood. He is such a party pooper!

An eager beaver

Meaning: A very enthusiastic and hardworking person who willingly takes up more work than he requires.

Example: Will is indeed an eager beaver; he loves doing overtime.

Cold shoulder

Meaning: When someone intentionally avoids another individual or behaves in an unfriendly manner.

Example: Regina’s been giving me the cold shoulder since I won the competition after the swimming incident instead of her.

Rain on someone’s parade

Meaning: To ruin someone’s happiness and pleasure.

Example: Genelia was highly sorry for raining on Olivia’s parade, but the bad news had to be delivered.

Let the cat out of the bag

Meaning: Let out a secret that one has been hiding.

Example: Elizabeth was highly excited about the surprise party, and hence she unintentionally let the cat out of the bag and told Vicky about the surprise.

Break the ice

Meaning: When one does or says something to reduce the tension between two people on their first meet.

Example: The joke he cracked broke the ice between us.

Straight from the horse’s mouth

Meaning: This idiom means that one heard something from a very trustworthy source.

Example: Eve was highly certain that the Mathew’s was getting a divorce since she heard it straight from the horse’s mouth.

Best of both worlds

Meaning: A particular situation where an individual is fortunate enough to experience and savor the advantages of two completely different things simultaneously.

Example: Lexie possessed the excellent traits of her mother as well as her father. She indeed was the best of both worlds.

Snowball effect

Meaning: Refers to a particular situation or something whose beginning is small and insignificant, but it becomes large, significant, powerful, and influential with time.

Example: Her career started small, but now she is the CEO of a company – her journey was indeed a snowball effect.

Thin on ice

Meaning: When one does something that has a lot of risks, and if unsuccessful, it may create highly unpleasant circumstances

Example: She was walking on thin ice by resigning from her job with such little savings to start a business.

Throw caution to the wind

Meaning: This idiom means to quit being careful and start doing something dangerous and exciting.

Example: After giving it a good thought, Marcus decided to throw caution to the wind and quit his job to only go on a world tour.

In full swing

Meaning: When something is not in its initial stages anymore and has fully developed and is operating successfully.

Example: When I invested in the cafe business, it was just getting started, but now it’s in full swing and is making significant profits.

At the drop of a hat

Meaning: When someone does something instantly without any delay.

Example: Caroline is a person who can go shopping at the drop of a hat.

Call it a day

Meaning: When one discontinues doing something because they are tired and exhausted from doing it.

Example: Cristina felt relaxed after calling it a day since the hospital was in a total mess that day.


Meaning: This idiom is used when one does not want to take up an offer or suggestion but will take it up some other time.

Example: When Nathan asked Mary out for a drink, she asked for a rain check.

The third time’s a charm

Meaning: This is used when someone is trying something for the third time and are confident that this time it will work.

Example: I know that Bailey could not pass the entrance exams the previous two times, but the third time’s a charm.

Come rain or shine

Meaning: This idiom is used to say that they will do a particular work or be in a specified place no matter what happens.

Example: Louisa promised to attend Katherine’s birthday party come rain or shine.

Went to the dogs

Meaning: To degrade in quality compared to before.

Example: The food in the restaurant went to the dogs after the chef changed.

Fighting like cats and dogs

Meaning: When someone fights aggressively and forcefully.

Example: The neighbors constantly kept complaining as the married couple started fighting like cats and dogs every day.

A bite at the cherry

Meaning: Getting a chance to do a sure thing.

Example: Since the company’s total turnover was huge, and every employee wanted to have a bite at the cherry.

Bed of roses

Meaning: An extremely relaxing and pleasant activity or situation.

Example: The life of actors and actresses may look like a bed of roses, but in reality, it is tough and challenging.

Spitting image

Meaning: This idiom means that a particular person resembles another person, usually a family member, exactly and accurately.

Example: Johanna looks like a spitting image of her mother.

Peaches and cream

Meaning: An enjoyable and calm situation.

Example: The beach vacation had no unnecessary drama, and everything felt like peaches and cream.

A plum job

Meaning: A position or job that is highly desirable since it is very good, well-paid, and comparatively easy.

Example: I don’t know how, but Chloe landed a plum job even though my interview went much better than hers.

Pull strings

Meaning: When one uses their influence and power to control something and provide advantages for someone.

Example: Since my mom had a good bond with the town mayor, I had no trouble getting into college since she pulled some strings for my admission.

Ace up one’s sleeves

Meaning: A private information or talent that can provide someone with certain advantages.

Example: Nobody knew about his secret techniques of cooking, and that was the ace up his sleeves.

Airy fairy

Meaning: This idiom refers to those ideas that are usually unrealistic, impractical, and whimsical.

Example: My little sister always had thousands of airy-fairy ideas, which I found highly amusing and adorable.

Run into a buzz saw

Meaning: Stumble upon a dangerous situation.

Example: I ran into a buzz saw when I stumbled upon my ex-husband last night while being on a date.

The old heave-ho

Meaning: Refers to a particular activity where one loses their employment due to specific reasons.

Example: Chandler was shocked when the CEO of his company gave him the old heave-ho after ten years of his diligent work.

After one’s own heart

Meaning: When two people have similar choices and opinions.

Example: When she wore sneakers with a long dress, I immediately knew that she was a woman after my own heart.

Pope’s nose

Meaning: It refers to the fleshy tail of a cooked chicken.

Example: Zoya loved having the pope’s nose and always kept asking for more.

Go into a nosedive

Meaning: An unexpected and quick rapid fall.

Example: The share market prices went into a nosedive this morning.

Crash a party

Meaning: This idiom means to enter a party to which one was not even invited.

Example: When Julie did not invite me to her sophomore party, I decided to crash it with my friends’ group.

Spin a yarn

Meaning: To narrate an imaginative and unrealistic story.

Example: The kids insisted on a new story, so their mother spun yarn and put them to sleep.

In the cold light of day

Meaning: To either say something or think about something when one is calm and composed without any kind of excess emotion.

Example: The divorce proceedings happened quickly, but in the cold light of day, they both realized that taking divorce was a terrible choice.

It takes one to know one

Meaning: This means that one must possess certain bad habits that they find in others.

Example: Ellis knew that it takes one to know one and hence never complained when Georgia made fun of her weird handwriting.

Wet your whistle

Meaning: When one consumes an alcoholic drink.

Example: At the party, after much insistence, Veronica decided to wet her whistle.

Bend an elbow

Meaning: This idiom is used when one consumes beverages that are alcoholic inside a bar or restaurant.

Example: She decided to bend an elbow after her new promotion.

In one’s cups

Meaning: When someone is drunk.

Example: The way he spoke made it clear that he was in his cups.

Paint the town red

Meaning: When one has a rough time and enjoys well by dancing, partying, and drinking.

Example: After my graduation, my friends and I decided to paint the town red.

Cool as a cucumber

Meaning: Refers to someone who is exceptionally well behaved, calm, and

Example: Brent loves his uncle’s attitude. He’s always as cool as a cucumber and rarely ever loses his calm.

The hair of the dog

Meaning: A drink with alcohol that is usually consumed to recover from a hangover.

Example: Ross gave Rachel the hair of the dog since last night she drank way too much.

Pencil something in

Meaning: To arrange the occurrence of an event that may get changed later.

Example: She was late for the interview, and hence I decided to pencil another date in for her and asked her to wait for the confirmation.

Love is blind

Meaning: This idiom means that usually people ignore and avoid seeing the faults and wrongdoings of someone they love and adore.

Example: Love is indeed blind since Nick refused to believe that his wife was cheating on him.

The walls have ears

Meaning: One should be careful about what they say since there can be people around listening.

Example: I asked Vernon to talk slowly regarding the plan because even walls have ears.

Love at first sight

Meaning: When one falls in love and feels a strong attraction towards someone they recently met.

Example: Damon and Elena’s story was of being in love at first sight.

Shrinking violet

Meaning: Refers to a person who dislikes attention and is very shy.

Example: My elder sister was a shrinking violet, but after marriage, she has completely changed.

Blue moon

Meaning: Refers to an event or situation that occurs extremely rarely.

Example: Meeting the Hollywood actress was a blue moon opportunity.

Fresh as a daisy

Meaning: This idiom describes someone who is quite active and has no signs of tiredness.

Example: Even though the day was hard and terrible, April was as fresh as a daisy.

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