Idiom Examples

Little Pearls of Wisdom: A Jumbo List of Idiom Examples

When it comes to speaking, I'm in a soup. Not to forget I can't keep a straight face but hey, that's my style of talking. If you are wondering what's this all about, you'd better brace yourself with some idioms to go further.
Penlighten Staff
Last Updated: May 31, 2018
Alcoholic man image
Congenial language
English as we know, is rather a funny language, you can say things in a few words, like I do most of the time, or you can stretch your sentences till everyone is exhausted. You can twist the words however you want, for you have the freedom of choosing your words. After all, language is a word play and to make it even more interesting we have idioms, phrases and proverbs.
A normal speaker of English or any other language for that matter, is well acquainted with the idioms that are a part of that language. Well, idioms are nothing but special features or unusual phrases that have an implied meaning. They are figurative words and are used as common and everyday expressions. Take for example, you decide to take a walk in the park and all of a sudden there's a downpour, you are sure to exclaim, it's raining cats and dogs! Well, it literally doesn't mean that cats and dogs are falling out of the sky but refers to the heavy downpour.
All Bark and No Bite
  • Refers to a person who is full of big talks but lacks the courage to take real action.
  • A person who pretends to be snide but has a soft personality.
A Big Mouth
  • Refers to a gossip monger.
  • Someone who cannot keep a secret.
The Black Sheep
  • An undesirable member (especially in the family).
  • Someone who brings disgrace to someone because of their immoral behavior.
Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
  • A dangerous person pretending to be harmless.
  • A warning to be aware of someone.
Bag of Bones
  • Refers to someone who is extremely thin.
  • Almost like a skeleton.
Cash Cow
  • A source that provides a continuous flow of money.
  • A profitable resource.
A Fat Cat
  • An impolite reference to a person who is both powerful and wealthy.
  • Referring to a rich political donor who is also called an angel, or big money man.

Talking To A Brick Wall
  • Talking to someone who does not pay heed to what is being said.
  • Someone who ignores you at face value.
Cool As A Cucumber
  • Refers to someone who is extremely calm.
  • Someone who can keep their composure in tough times.

Blow Your Own Trumpet/Toot Your Own Horn
  • To boast about oneself.
  • To speak positively about oneself.
Head In The Clouds
  • Be a daydreamer.
  • Pertains to unrealistic thoughts and ideas.
Stick Your Head In The Sand
  • Refuse to think about an unpleasant situation.
  • Ignore or hide from signs of danger.
Wear Heart On Sleeve
  • Refers to the ability to display emotions openly.
  • To be more sensitive towards others feelings.
Monkey Business
  • Refers to something that comes across as being silly.
  • Refers to someone who indulges in dishonest tricks.
Turn a Deaf Ear/Fall on Deaf Ears
  • To ignore someone's advice.
  • Ignore a cry for help.
Cat Got Your Tongue
  • Compel someone who is quiet to speak.
  • Someone's silence is suspicious.
Two Peas in a Pod
  • Someone or something that is very similar.
  • Someone who is an exact duplicate of the other.
A Dog's Life
  • Life that is difficult and unpleasant.
  • To lead a dull and boring life.
Apple of My Eye
  • Refers to someone who is a beloved of someone.
  • It actually stands for someone who is cherished above others.
Keep A Straight Face
  • An emotionless face.
  • To appear serious in a funny situation.
Spill The Beans
  • Leak out something that was meant to be a secret.
  • Give away a surprise.
Little Birdy Told Me
  • Refers to knowing a piece of information through a secretive source.
  • Refers to someone not wanting to expose the source of information.
Be All Ears
  • Refers to someone paying close attention/ showing interest in what is being said.
  • It also refers to someone who is always eager to know about the happenings in others life.
Barking Up The Wrong Tree
  • Refers to a mistaken emphasis in a context.
  • Making a wrong assumption about someone/something.
Pants On Fire
  • Refers to someone who is lying to someone.
  • Someone who is good at something.
Burn Your Fingers
  • Suffer unpleasant results of an action.
  • To be put-off by performing something because of a prior bad experience.
Take A Beating
  • To be defeated in something.
  • To be severely criticized.
Stab In The Back
  • Refers to hurt a close one/friend through treachery.
  • Simply understood it means to betray someone's trust.
Burn The Candle At Both Ends
  • Work very hard with little rest.
  • Working late into the night and beginning early the next day.
Caught Red Handed
  • Catch someone in the middle of a wrong act.
  • Refers to someone being caught stealing/cheating.
Face The Music
  • To bear the punishment for a wrong deed.
  • To take responsibility for something that is done.
Take It With A Pinch of Salt
  • Refers to being skeptical of the truth.
  • Believe in something with caution.
In The Nick Of Time
  • Refers to something that is completed just in time.
  • At the last possible moment.
Read Between the Lines
  • Understand something that is implied.
  • Comprehend the true feelings or intentions of someone.
An Uphill Task
  • Refers to something that is very difficult.
  • A struggle against unfavorable circumstances.
Walk a Tight Rope
  • Refers to someone who cautiously treads their way out of a sticky situation.
  • To act carefully.
Break A Leg
  • To wish good luck to someone before an important performance.
  • It litrally translates to go out there and give your best.
In A Nutshell
  • Refers to saying something in a few words.
  • To give someone a concise view of something.
Keep Your Fingers Crossed
  • Hope for a positive outcome.
  • To wish someone luck with something.
The Final/Last Straw
  • Refers to the last burden or problem.
  • Something that nullifies all other things.
When Pigs Fly/Pigs Might Fly
  • Refers to the something that will never be accomplished.
  • Something that indicates impossibilities.
A Hat Trick
  • A clever or adroit maneuver.
  • Achieving three success one after the othere. 
Flights of Fancy/Fantasy
  • Something that is not practical in real life situations.
  • An idea that is out of touch with reality.
See Eye To Eye
  • Refers to someone agreeing with someone.
  • Have similar views on something.
Can Of Worms
  • Refers to a difficult problem.
  • Something that will cause an array of problems.
Keep Eye On The Ball
  • Remain alert to the events around you.
  • Pay complete attention to the goal.
Bring The House Down
  • Tremendous praise or favor from audience owing to a wonderful performance.
  • Make the audience cheer loudly and excitedly.
Bite the Dust
  • Refers to death or someone dying.
  • To give up on something/someone.
Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
  • Refers to someone taking on more than they can handle.
  • Take on more responsibility than necessary.
At a Crossroad
  • Refers to the need to take a decision in life.
  • Often it means making life-changing choices.
Hit The Panic Button
  • To lose control in a shocking situation.
  • Have a panic attack
With those idiom examples, I am sure you know how and when to use them in English. The next time you come across these idioms or find the need to use them, keep in mind their meanings and make sure you use them in right contexts.