50 Commonly Known Idioms and their Meanings

Idioms are an important part of everyday English. They come up all the time in both written and spoken language. Because idioms don’t always make sense literally, you need to familiarise yourself with their meaning and usage.

Here’s a list of the top 50 common idioms with their meanings 👇🏾

  1. A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush
    Meaning: an opportunity in hand is better than a prospect in the future, because time never repeats itself
  2. A black sheep
    Meaning: being a disgrace for the family
  3. A taste of your own medicine
    Meaning: bad treatment deservedly received for treating other people badly
  4. Add fuel to the fire
    Meaning: when someone does something to make a bad situation worse
  5. Adding insult to injury
    Meaning: to make a bad situation even worse
  6. All ears
    Meaning: to be eagerly waiting to hear about something
  7. At the 11th hour
    Meaning: at the last moment
  8. Back against the wall
    Meaning: stuck in a difficult circumstance with no escape
  9. Barking up the wrong tree
    Meaning: to be wrong or misguided about the reason for something
  10. Beat around the bush
    Meaning: talk about unimportant things because you’re avoiding a particular topic
  11. Better late than never
    Meaning: it’s better to do something late than not at all
  12. Bite off more than one can chew
    Meaning: to do too much or take something on that is too difficult
  13. Bite the bullet
    Meaning: decide to do something that is difficult or unpleasant, but necessary
  14. Blow hot and cold
    Meaning: alternate inconsistently between moods and actions
  15. Chip on one’s shoulder
    Meaning: to hold a grudge/be angry about something that happened in the past, or to be arrogant and think too highly of oneself
  16. Cold feet
    Meaning: to get nervous or to have second thoughts about doing something
  17. Cutting corners
    Meaning: doing something poorly in order to save time or money
  18. Desperate times call for desperate measures
    Meaning: sometimes you need to take extreme actions
  19. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
    Meaning: don’t put all your resources or efforts into just one thing
  20. Don’t run before you can walk
    Meaning: A warning not to try something difficult before you understand the basics
  21. Draw the line
    Meaning: stop before a point where something okay gets not okay
  22. Eat a horse
    Meaning: extremely hungry
  23. Elephant in the room
    Meaning: an important and obvious topic that needs to be discussed, but that isn’t brought up or mentioned
  24. Every cloud has a silver lining
    Meaning: even a bad situation may have a positive aspect to it
  25. Fish out of water
    Meaning: to be out of your comfort zone
  26. Fit as a fiddle
    Meaning: be in good physical health
  27. Get out of hand
    Meaning: become difficult to control
  28. Giving the benefit of the doubt
    Meaning: believing someone’s story without proof even though it may seem unbelievable
  29. Go down in flames
    Meaning: to fail suddenly and spectacularly
  30. Hit the sack
    Meaning: go to sleep
  31. In the nick of time
    Meaning: almost too late
  32. Kill two birds with one stone
    Meaning: to achieve two things at once
  33. Let the cat out of the bag
    Meaning: reveal a secret by accident
  34. Make a long story short
    Meaning: tell something briefly
  35. Nip something in the bud
    Meaning: stop something at an early stage, before it has a chance to develop
  36. Off the top of one’s head
    Meaning: from memory, without a lot of thought or consideration
  37. Once in a blue moon
    Meaning: something that happens rarely
  38. Pull someone’s leg
    Meaning: tease or joke with someone by saying something that’s not true
  39. Put your foot in your mouth
    Meaning: saying something you shouldn’t have
  40. Ring a bell
    Meaning: when something seems familiar or you’ve heard it before
  41. Rock the boat
    Meaning: to do or say something that could cause a problem or disturbance
  42. Sleep on it
    Meaning: think about something for a while before making a decision
  43. Smell a rat
    Meaning: suspect someone is a traitor, behaving illegally or is up to no good
  44. Speak of the devil
    Meaning: when the person you have just been talking about arrives
  45. Taste of one’s own medicine
    Meaning: when someone does something unpleasant and the same is wished on him/her
  46. The last straw
    Meaning: the last act that makes an entire situation unbearable and patience runs out
  47. Under the weather
    Meaning: not feeling very well, a little sick
  48. Wild goose chase
    Meaning: a hopeless pursuit, something that is unattainable
  49. Wrap one’s head around something
    Meaning: understand something that is complicated or shocking
  50. Your guess is as good as mine
    Meaning: having no idea about something

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: