20 Idioms Everyone Should Know

Posted May 4, 2022 by oxford

Every language has a set of interesting phrases which are used to convey a certain meaning with more impact

20 Idioms Everyone Should Know
Every language has a set of interesting phrases which are used to convey a certain meaning with more impact. These phrases are expressions with a figurative meaning that are a dime a dozen today. In this blog we look at 20 of the most common idioms that are used in the English language. In keeping with the spirit of things, let’s take the plunge and discover the wonderful world of idioms!

1. A dime a dozen If something is available for a dime a dozen, it means it is commonly seen and not unique. For example: “Cheap watches like this have flooded the market. You can get them a dime a dozen”.

2. Take the plunge (smoke+fog) When you commit yourself to an activity or a course of action, you are said to take the plunge. Like: “He'll take the plunge and start his own business”.

3. Pull the wool over someone’s eyes When someone deceives another person, he is said to have pulled the wool over their eyes. As in: “I’m not as dumb as you think; don’t try to pull the wool over my eyes”

4. See red When something angers you immensely, you see red! Like: “People who drop litter make me see red”.

5. Beat about the bush To beat about the bush means to avoid directly answering a question or speaking truthfully on a certain topic. For example: “Will you please stop beating about the bush and get to the point”?

6. Hit the sack Hitting the sack is a phrase that means going to bed to sleep. As in: “They’ve already hit the sack as they have to catch an early morning flight tomorrow”.

7. Pay through one’s nose When you pay an unfairly high amount of money for something, you are said to pay through your nose. Like: “They pay through the nose for health care and for decent education for their children”.

8. An arm and a leg If something costs you an arm and a leg, it is something really expensive! For example: “How much would you pay for luxurious farmhouse by the beach? An arm and a leg?”

9. Fit as a fiddle When someone is in good health, you can say that they are fit as a fiddle! As in: “My grandfather is 90 years old, but he is as fit as a fiddle”.

10. Ginormous Raining cats and dogs On a typical monsoon day when it rains heavily, it rains cats and dogs. As in: “It rains cats and dogs when the Monsoon comes in India”.

11. See eye to eye To see eye to eye with someone means to agree with them completely. Like: “The ruling party and the opposition don’t see eye to eye on most things”.

12. A piece of cake A task which is easy to accomplish is referred to as a piece of cake. Like: “They said the test would be difficult, but it was a piece of cake – I’ll pass with no problem at all”.

13. Eat humble pie To eat humble pie means to face humiliation or apologize for a serious mistake made. For example: “One may often think that they are smarter than the others but such people always end up eating humble pie”.

14. Taste of one’s own medicine When someone experiences the same kind of unpleasantness that they subject others to, it is a taste of their own medicine. For example: “He is always late for appointments and keeps people waiting, so we decided to give him a taste of his own medicine”.

15. Wild goose chase To go on a wild goose chase means to engage in a meaningless activity or to search for something that does not exist. Like: “It turns out that my brother took my car keys. I had been on a wild goose chase this whole morning searching them in the entire house”.

16. Pull someone’s legWhen you joke with someone, you are said to be pulling their leg. For example: “You can’t be serious about that! Stop pulling my leg”.

17. Caught between a rock and a hard place When you are in a difficult situation where you have to choose between two unpleasant alternatives, you are said to be caught between a rock and a hard place. As in “He was caught between a rock and a hard place. If he accepted the offer, he would have to work long hours with low pay, if he didn’t, he would lose his livelihood”.

18. Van Gogh’s ear for music To have Van Gogh’s ear for music means to be tone deaf. Like “This is a classic album. If you can’t make sense of it then you have Van Gogh’s ear for music”.

19. Not the sharpest tool in the shed A person who is not the smartest or most intelligent is referred to as someone who is not the sharpest tool in the shed. For example: “My brother’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. I think he might have been dropped on his head as a baby”.

20. Cock and bull story A story or an explanation that is ridiculous or hard to believe is called a cock and bull story. As in “Don’t give me that cock and bull story. You should have completed this long time ago”.

Published by Oxford School of English on 11 February 2021
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Last Updated May 4, 2022