Idioms are a fundamental part of any language, and they can be quite challenging to learn for non-native speakers. Idioms are phrases or expressions that cannot be translated literally, as they often have a unique meaning that is not related to the literal meaning of the individual words. Learning idioms is essential for anyone looking to develop their language skills, as idioms are commonly used in everyday conversations, literature, and other forms of communication. An Idioms PDF can be an excellent resource for anyone seeking to learn and master idiomatic expressions in a particular language.
Idioms With Meaning and Examples
A blessing in disguise- Something that seems bad at first but turns out to be good later.
Example- Losing your job might be a blessing in disguise if it leads you to a better career opportunity.
A dime a dozen- Very common or easy to find.
Example- In the city, coffee shops are a dime a dozen.
A piece of cake- Something that is very easy to do.
Example- The exam was a piece of cake, I finished it in 10 minutes.
Actions speak louder than words- What someone does is more important than what they say.
Example- He promised to help, but his actions spoke louder than words when he didn’t show up.
All ears- To be very attentive and listen carefully.
Example- I’m all ears, tell me everything you know.
All in the same boat- To be in the same difficult situation.
Example- The pandemic affected everyone, we’re all in the same boat.
Apple of my eye- Someone or something that is very precious and loved.
Example- My daughter is the apple of my eye, I love her more than anything in the world.
Back to the drawing board- To start something over because it wasn’t successful the first time.
Example- The project failed, so we have to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan.
Barking up the wrong tree- To make a mistake in your approach or accusation.
Example- If you think I stole your wallet, you’re barking up the wrong tree. I wasn’t even there.
Beat around the bush- To avoid talking about something directly.
Example- Stop beating around the bush and tell me what you really think.
Better late than never- It is better to do something late than to never do it at all.
Example- She didn’t send her RSVP until the day before the wedding, but I’m still glad she’s coming. Better late than never.
Bite the bullet- To face something difficult or unpleasant.
Example- I don’t want to go to the dentist, but I know I have to bite the bullet and make an appointment.
Break a leg- A way to wish someone good luck, especially in a performance.
Example- Before going on stage, the director said, “Break a leg!” to the actors.
Call it a day- To stop working for the day.
Example- We’ve been working on this project all afternoon. Let’s call it a day and continue tomorrow.
Catch someone’s eye- To get someone’s attention.
Example- The bright colors of the painting caught my eye as I walked by the gallery.
Cut to the chase- To get to the main point without wasting time.
Example- We don’t have all day to talk. Can you cut to the chase and tell me what you want?
Devil’s advocate- Someone who argues against something to provoke debate or test the strength of an argument.
Example- I know you think we should go with Plan A, but let me play devil’s advocate and suggest some reasons why Plan B might be better.
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch- Don’t assume something will happen before it actually does.
Example- Just because you’ve applied for the job doesn’t mean you’ll get it. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
Down to the wire- To finish something just before the deadline.
Example- We were down to the wire on the project, but we managed to finish it just in time.
Driving me up the wall- To annoy or irritate someone.
Example- His constant tapping on the table is driving me up the wall.
Every cloud has a silver lining- Even in difficult situations, there is always something positive to find.
Example- Losing my job was difficult, but it gave me the opportunity to pursue a career I really love. Every cloud has a silver lining.
Face the music- To accept the consequences of your actions.
Example- You cheated on the exam, and now you have to face the music and accept the punishment.
Fair-weather friend- Someone who is only a friend during good times and abandons you during difficult times.
Example- She’s only there for me when everything is going well. She’s a fair-weather friend.
Get a taste of your own medicine- To experience the same negative treatment that you have given to others.
Example- He was always gossiping about other people, but when he heard rumors about himself, he finally got a taste of his own medicine.
Get off someone’s back- To stop criticizing or bothering someone.
Example- You’ve been nagging me about my homework all day. Can you please get off my back?
Get the ball rolling- To start something or get it moving.
Example- We need to get the ball rolling on this project if we want to finish it on time.
Give the benefit of the doubt- To believe someone is telling the truth, even if it is difficult to prove.
Example- I don’t have any evidence that she didn’t steal my wallet, but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she’s innocent until proven guilty.
Go the extra mile- To put in more effort than expected or required.
Example- If you want to impress your boss, you need to go the extra mile and work harder than everyone else.
Hit the nail on the head- To be exactly right about something.
Example- You hit the nail on the head when you said that the project was going to take longer than expected.
In hot water- To be in trouble.
Example- I’m in hot water with my boss because I missed an important deadline.
Jump the gun- To start something before the appropriate time.
Example- We can’t announce the new product yet. It’s too early, and we don’t want to jump the gun.
Keep your chin up- To remain optimistic during difficult times.
Example- I know you’re going through a tough time, but keep your chin up. Things will get better.
Kill two birds with one stone- To accomplish two tasks at once.
Example- While we’re out shopping, let’s also pick up the birthday present for Sarah. That way, we can kill two birds with one stone.
Let sleeping dogs lie- To avoid stirring up trouble or problems.
Example- I know you want to confront your roommate about leaving dirty dishes in the sink, but sometimes it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie.
Make a long story short- To summarize a long and detailed story.
Example- To make a long story short, we missed our flight because of a delay, but we were able to book another one for the next day.
Miss the boat- To miss an opportunity.
Example- I wanted to invest in that company, but I missed the boat and now it’s too late.
No pain, no gain- You have to work hard and endure difficulties in order to achieve success.
Example- I know training for the marathon is tough, but no pain, no gain.
Off the hook- To be relieved of responsibility or blame.
Example- I thought I was going to get in trouble for breaking the vase, but my sister took the blame and let me off the hook.
On the ball- To be alert, efficient, and quick to respond.
Example- The new employee is really on the ball and has already completed all of his tasks for the day.
Piece of cake- Something that is very easy to do.
Example- Don’t worry about the exam. It’s a piece of cake if you’ve studied.
Pull someone’s leg- To tease or joke with someone in a playful manner.
Example- I don’t really have a pet elephant, I was just pulling your leg.
Put all your eggs in one basket- To put all your resources or efforts into one thing, making it risky.
Example- Instead of investing all your money in one stock, it’s better to diversify so you don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Put your foot in your mouth- To say something inappropriate or embarrassing.
Example- I really put my foot in my mouth when I asked my friend about her pregnancy and she told me she wasn’t actually pregnant.
Raining cats and dogs- A very heavy rainstorm.
Example- It was raining cats and dogs yesterday, so I stayed inside all day.
Read between the lines- To understand the hidden meaning in a conversation or text.
Example- She didn’t explicitly say she was unhappy with her job, but I could read between the lines and tell that she wasn’t satisfied.
Rule of thumb- A general principle or guideline.
Example- A good rule of thumb for cooking pasta is to use one quart of water for every four ounces of pasta.
See eye to eye- To have the same opinion or perspective as someone else.
Example- We don’t always agree, but on this issue, we see eye to eye.
Shake a leg- To hurry up or move quickly.
Example- We need to leave soon, so shake a leg and finish getting ready.
Speak of the devil- To refer to someone who shows up unexpectedly.
Example- Speak of the devil! We were just talking about you and now here you are.
Steal someone’s thunder- To take credit for someone else’s idea or accomplishment.
Example- She was really upset when her colleague stole her thunder and presented her idea as his own.
Idioms Examples with Meaning
A blessing in disguise – something that seems bad at first but turns out to be good
A dime a dozen – something that is very common and easy to find
A piece of cake – something that is very easy to do
Actions speak louder than words – what someone does is more important than what they say
Add insult to injury – to make a bad situation worse
All ears – listening carefully and with interest
All thumbs – clumsy, awkward
Apple of my eye – someone who is very precious and dear to you
Barking up the wrong tree – making a mistake or having a misconception
Beat around the bush – avoiding the main topic, being indirect
Bite the bullet – to face a difficult or painful situation with courage
Break a leg – a way to wish someone good luck
Burn the midnight oil – to work late into the night
Butterflies in your stomach – a feeling of nervousness or anxiety
By the skin of your teeth – barely managing to succeed or avoid failure
Cat got your tongue? – why aren’t you saying anything?
Caught between a rock and a hard place – faced with a difficult decision
Close but no cigar – almost succeeding, but not quite
Cold feet – feeling nervous or hesitant about doing something
Cut corners – to do something poorly or take shortcuts to save time or money.
Devil’s advocate – taking a position or argument that is contrary to common belief or opinion
Don’t cry over spilled milk – there’s no point in getting upset over something that has already happened and can’t be changed
Don’t judge a book by its cover – don’t judge someone or something based solely on appearance
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – don’t risk everything on a single venture
Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater – don’t get rid of something good while trying to eliminate something bad
Down to the wire – doing something just in time, right before a deadline or cutoff point
Every cloud has a silver lining – every negative situation has a positive aspect or opportunity
Face the music – to accept the consequences of one’s actions
Fish out of water – feeling uncomfortable or out of place in a particular situation
Get a taste of your own medicine – experience the same negative treatment that one has given to others
Give someone the benefit of the doubt – to trust and believe in someone’s innocence or good intentions, even when there is some doubt or uncertainty
Go the extra mile – to do more than what is expected or required
Grass is always greener on the other side – the belief that other people or situations are always better than one’s own
Haste makes waste – rushing through something can lead to mistakes and ultimately more time and effort spent fixing those mistakes
Hit the nail on the head – to accurately identify or solve a problem
In a nutshell – a summary or brief explanation of something
In hot water – in trouble or facing consequences for something
Jump the gun – to act prematurely or before it is appropriate
Keep your chin up – to remain optimistic and positive in difficult situations
Kill two birds with one stone – to accomplish two tasks with a single effort.
Let sleeping dogs lie – to leave things as they are, even if they may cause problems or conflicts
Like two peas in a pod – very similar or identical
Live and learn – to gain wisdom or knowledge through experience, often through making mistakes
Look before you leap – to consider the consequences of an action before taking it
Make a long story short – to summarize or shorten a long explanation or story
Miss the boat – to miss an opportunity or chance
No pain, no gain – the idea that one must work hard and endure difficulties in order to achieve success or improvement
Off the top of your head – without much thought or preparation
On the ball – being alert, efficient, and competent
Out of the frying pan and into the fire – to escape one problem only to find oneself in a worse situation
Over the moon – extremely happy or delighted
Pay through the nose – to pay a high price for something
Practice makes perfect – by continually practicing something, one can become proficient or skilled at it
Pull someone’s leg – to play a joke or tease someone in a playful way
Put all your cards on the table – to be completely honest and open about one’s intentions or plans
Put the cart before the horse – doing things in the wrong order or making assumptions without proper preparation or planning
Red herring – something that is misleading or distracting from the main issue or topic
Rule of thumb – a general guideline or principle, based on experience or common sense, rather than on specific rules or laws
See eye to eye – to agree or have the same opinion on something
Spill the beans – to reveal secret or confidential information.
Benefits of using an Idioms
Using idioms in speech or writing can have several benefits, including:
- Adding color and variety to language: Idioms are a great way to add flavor and variety to your language, making it more interesting and expressive. They can help you avoid repetitive or dull language and make your speech or writing more engaging.
- Enhancing comprehension: Idioms can help to convey complex ideas or emotions in a simple and concise way. Using an appropriate idiom can also help listeners or readers to understand the intended meaning more easily.
- Demonstrating cultural knowledge: Idioms are often specific to a particular language or culture. Using idioms correctly can demonstrate your familiarity with the culture and help you to communicate more effectively with people from that culture.
- Building rapport and connection: Idioms can be used to create a sense of familiarity or connection with others, especially if they are used in a shared language or culture. Using idioms can also help to create a more relaxed and informal atmosphere in a conversation.
- Improving language proficiency: Learning idioms can be a fun and effective way to improve your language proficiency. It can help you to develop a deeper understanding of the language and culture and increase your vocabulary.