50+ Most Useful Idioms and their Meaning

Every language has its own collection of wise sayings. They are called "idioms", which offer advice about how to live and also transfer some underlying ideas...


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Every language has its own collection of wise sayings. They are called “idioms”, which offer advice about how to live and also transfer some underlying ideas…

50+ Most Useful Idioms and their Meaning

1. A hot potato

Speak of an issue (mostly current) which many people are talking about and which is usually disputed

2. A penny for your thoughts

A way of asking what someone is thinking

3. Actions speak louder than words

People’s intentions can be judged better by what they do than what they say.

4. Add insult to injury

To further a loss with mockery or indignity; to worsen an unfavorable situation.

5. At the drop of a hat

Meaning: without any hesitation; instantly.

6. Back to the drawing board

When an attempt fails and it’s time to start all over.

7. Ball is in your court

It is up to you to make the next decision or step

8. Barking up the wrong tree

Looking in the wrong place. Accusing the wrong person

9. Be glad to see the back of

Be happy when a person leaves.

10. Beat around the bush

Avoiding the main topic. Not speaking directly about the issue.

11. Best of both worlds

Meaning: All the advantages.

12. Best thing since sliced bread

A good invention or innovation. A good idea or plan.

13. Bite off more than you can chew

To take on a task that is way too big.

14. Blessing in disguise

Something good that isn’t recognized at first.

15. Burn the midnight oil

To work late into the night, alluding to the time before electric lighting.

16. Can’t judge a book by its cover

Cannot judge something primarily on appearance.

17. Caught between two stools

When someone finds it difficult to choose between two alternatives.

18. Costs an arm and a leg

This idiom is used when something is very expensive.

19. Cross that bridge when you come to it

Deal with a problem if and when it becomes necessary, not before.

20. Cry over spilt milk

When you complain about a loss from the past.

21. Curiosity killed the cat

Being Inquisitive can lead you into an unpleasant situation.

22. Cut corners

When something is done badly to save money.

23. Cut the mustard (possibly derived from “cut the muster”)

To succeed; to come up to expectations; adequate enough to compete or participate

24. Devil’s Advocate

To present a counter argument

25. Don’t count your chickens before the eggs have hatched

This idiom is used to express “Don’t make plans for something that might not happen”.

26. Don’t give up the day job

You are not very good at something. You could definitely not do it professionally.

27. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Do not put all your resources in one possibility.

28. Drastic times call for drastic measures

When you are extremely desperate you need to take drastic actions.

29. Elvis has left the building

The show has come to an end. It’s all over.

30. Every cloud has a silver lining

Be optimistic, even difficult times will lead to better days.

31. Far cry from

Very different from.

32. Feel a bit under the weather

Meaning: Feeling slightly ill.

33. Give the benefit of the doubt

Believe someone’s statement, without proof.

34. Hear it on the grapevine

This idiom means ‘to hear rumors’ about something or someone.

35. Hit the nail on the head

Do or say something exactly right

36. Hit the sack / sheets / hay

To go to bed.

37. In the heat of the moment

Overwhelmed by what is happening in the moment.

38. It takes two to tango

Actions or communications need more than one person

39. Jump on the bandwagon

Join a popular trend or activity.

40. Keep something at bay

Keep something away.

40. Kill two birds with one stone

This idiom means, to accomplish two different things at the same time.

41. Last straw

The final problem in a series of problems.

42. Let sleeping dogs lie

Meaning – do not disturb a situation as it is – since it would result in trouble or complications.

43. Let the cat out of the bag

To share information that was previously concealed

44. Make a long story short

Come to the point – leave out details

45. Method to my madness

An assertion that, despite one’s approach seeming random, there actually is structure to it.

46. Miss the boat

This idiom is used to say that someone missed his or her chance

47. Not a spark of decency

Meaning: No manners

48. Not playing with a full deck

Someone who lacks intelligence.

49. Off one’s rocker

Crazy, demented, out of one’s mind, in a confused or befuddled state of mind, senile.

50. On the ball

When someone understands the situation well.

51. Once in a blue moon

Meaning: Happens very rarely.

52. Picture paints a thousand words

A visual presentation is far more descriptive than words.

53. Piece of cake

A job, task or other activity that is easy or simple.

54. Put wool over other people’s eyes

This means to deceive someone into thinking well of them.

55. See eye to eye

This idiom is used to say that two (or more people) agree on something.

56. Sit on the fence

This is used when someone does not want to choose or make a decision.

57. Speak of the devil!

This expression is used when the person you have just been talking about arrives.

58. Steal someone’s thunder

To take the credit for something someone else did.

59. Take with a grain of salt

This means not to take what someone says too seriously.

60. Taste of your own medicine

Means that something happens to you, or is done to you, that you have done to someone else

61. To hear something straight from the horse’s mouth

To hear something from the authoritative source.

62. Whole nine yards

Everything. All of it.

63. Wouldn’t be caught dead

Would never like to do something

64. Your guess is as good as mine

To have no idea, do not know the answer to a question


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