Idioms are a captivating facet of language that infuse vibrancy and richness into our everyday conversations. These figurative expressions often defy literal interpretation, posing a challenge for non-native English speakers to fully grasp. In this article, we present a compilation of 100 commonly used English idioms, accompanied by their meanings and illustrative examples, to assist you in enhancing your comprehension and fluency in the language.

What is an Idiom?

An idiom is a collection of words or an expression that conveys a symbolic meaning, distinct from the literal interpretation of its individual components. Idioms are unique to a particular language or culture and are used to convey ideas, emotions, or situations in a concise and metaphorical way. English idioms and their origins provide fascinating insights into the historical and cultural influences that have shaped the language we use today. However, some idioms often have historical or cultural origins and can be challenging for non-native speakers to understand because their meaning is not immediately apparent from the words themselves. Mastering idioms is an essential aspect of language fluency as they enhance communication, convey nuanced meanings, and enable individuals to express themselves more vividly. This guide to common English idioms will help you in learning idioms with examples so that you address them in your everyday use.

When to use Idioms?

Idioms are best used in casual or informal conversations, where the focus is on adding color, depth, and a touch of cultural understanding to your language. This article will help you in understanding English idioms with examples. They can be particularly useful in storytelling, expressing emotions, or conveying a vivid image or comparison. When using idioms, it is crucial to take into account your audience and the specific context in which you are employing them. In more formal or professional settings, it’s generally best to stick to standard language and avoid idiomatic expressions that might confuse or distract from the intended message. Additionally, when communicating with non-native English speakers, it’s important to use idioms sparingly and provide clear explanations or context to ensure understanding. Mastering the art of using idioms lies in finding the delicate equilibrium between their application and considering factors such as the situation, audience, and familiarity with the English language. Achieving this balance ensures effective communication while preserving the essence of the original message.

How to use Idioms?

Understanding common English idioms and their meanings is crucial for effective communication and fluency in the language. Here are some tips on how to incorporate idioms effectively into your English conversations. Firstly, familiarize yourself with common English idioms for language learners by studying their meanings and examples. Then, practice using them in context to ensure proper understanding and usage. Start by incorporating idioms in everyday conversations with native speakers or language partners. This will help you become more comfortable with their usage and provide opportunities for feedback. Remember to use idioms sparingly and consider the level of familiarity your conversation partner has with English idioms. Gradually expand your repertoire of idioms and observe how native speakers use them in everyday situations. With time and practice, you’ll be able to confidently incorporate English idioms into your everyday use, adding color and fluency to your language skills.

List of 100 Keywords

1. A penny for your thoughts

• Meaning: Asking someone to share their thoughts or opinions.
• Example: You seem lost in thought, do you want a penny for your thoughts?

2. Actions speak louder than words

• Meaning: What someone does is more important than what they say they will do.
• Example: He promised to help, but actions speak louder than words.

3. All ears

• Meaning: Fully attentive and ready to listen.
• Example: I am all ears, so tell me what happened.

4. A piece of cake

• Meaning: Something very easy to do.
• Example: Don’t worry, the exam was a piece of cake.

5. Apple of my eye

• Meaning: Someone or something cherished or loved deeply.
• Example: My daughter is the apple of my eye.

6. Back to the drawing board

• Meaning: To start again from the beginning.
• Example: Our plan didn’t work out, so it’s back to the drawing board.

7. Barking up the wrong tree

• Meaning: Accusing or criticizing the wrong person.
• Example: If you think I broke the vase, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

8. Beat around the bush

• Meaning: Avoiding the main topic or not getting to the point.
• Example: Stop beating around the bush and tell me what you really think.

9. Bite the bullet

• Meaning: To face a difficult or unpleasant situation with courage.
• Example: I have to bite the bullet and confront him about the problem.

10. Break a leg

• Meaning: Good luck.
• Example: Break a leg in your performance tonight!

11. Call it a day

• Meaning: To stop working or doing something.
• Example: We’ve been working for hours. Let’s call it a day.

12. Cat got your tongue?

• Meaning: Unable to speak or express oneself.
• Example: Why are you so quiet? Cat got your tongue?

13. Costs an arm and a leg

• Meaning: Very expensive.
• Example: Buying a luxury car costs an arm and a leg.

14. Cry over spilled milk

• Meaning: Worrying about something that has already happened and cannot be changed.
• Example: There’s no use crying over spilled milk. Let’s find a solution.

15. Cut to the chase

• Meaning: Get to the main point without wasting time.
• Example: Let’s cut to the chase. What’s your proposal?

16. Don’t judge a book by its cover

• Meaning: Don’t make assumptions based on appearance alone.
• Example: She may look unfriendly, but don’t judge a book by its cover.

17. Drop the ball

• Meaning: Make a mistake or fail to do something.
• Example: I dropped the ball and forgot to send the email.

18. Every cloud has a silver lining

• Meaning: There is something positive even in difficult situations.
• Example: I lost my job, but every cloud has a silver lining. I have more time for my hobbies now.

19. Face the music

• Meaning: Accept the consequences of one’s actions.
• Example: You have to face the music and apologize for your mistake.

20. Fit as a fiddle

• Meaning: In good physical health.
• Example: He exercises regularly and is fit as a fiddle.

21. Get a taste of your own medicine

• Meaning: Experience something you have done to others.
• Example: He’s always teasing others. It’s time he gets a taste of his own medicine.

22. Give the benefit of the doubt

• Meaning: Trust someone’s statement without definite proof.
• Example: Even though she was late, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.

23. Go the extra mile

• Meaning: Make additional effort or put in extra work.
• Example: If you want to succeed, you need to go the extra mile.

24. Hit the nail on the head

• Meaning: To be correct or accurate.
• Example: You hit the nail on the head with your analysis.

25. It’s raining cats and dogs

• Meaning: It’s raining heavily.
• Example: We can’t go out. It’s raining cats and dogs.

26. Keep your chin up

• Meaning: Remain cheerful in a difficult situation.
• Example: Don’t worry! Keep your chin up, and things will get better.

27. Kill two birds with one stone

• Meaning: Accomplish two things with a single action.
• Example: By studying during my commute, I can kill two birds with one stone.

28. Let the cat out of the bag

• Meaning: Reveal secret or confidential information.
• Example: She let the cat out of the bag about the surprise party.

29. Miss the boat

• Meaning: Miss an opportunity.
• Example: I didn’t apply on time and missed the boat for the job.

30. On the same page

• Meaning: Having the same understanding or viewpoint.
• Example: We need to get on the same page to work effectively.

31. Play devil’s advocat

• Meaning: Argue against a prevailing opinion to stimulate discussion.
• Example: I’ll play devil’s advocate and present an opposing viewpoint.

32. To drive someone up the wall

• Meaning: Make someone irritated or angry
• Example: The students drove the teacher up the wall with their shenanigans

33. Raining buckets

• Meaning: Pouring rain.
• Example: Bring an umbrella; it’s raining buckets outside.

34. Rule of thumb

• Meaning: A general principle or guideline.
• Example: As a rule of thumb, save 10% of your income for emergencies.

35. See eye to eye

• Meaning: Agreeing on something.
• Example: We don’t always see eye to eye, but we respect each other’s opinion.

36. Sit on the fence

• Meaning: Not taking sides or making decisions
• Example: He is sitting on the fence instead of choosing his position

37. Spill the beans

• Meaning: Reveal a secret or confidential information
• Example: Don’t spill the beans about the surprise party.

38. Take with a grain of salt

• Meaning: Not completely believing something
• Example: He’s known to exaggerate, so take with a grain of salt.

39. The ball is in your court

• Meaning: It’s your turn to take action or make a decision
• Example: I’ve made my offer, now the ball is in your court.

40. Throw in the towel

• Meaning: Give up surrender
• Example: After hours of trying, I finally threw in the towel.

41. Easier said than done

• Meaning: Something that sounds easy but is actually difficult to do.
• Example: Just stay calm during the presentation. Easier said than done!

42. Face like a thundercloud

• Meaning: Having an angry or displeased facial expression.
• Example: Don’t approach her now; she has a face like a thundercloud.

43. Give someone the cold shoulder

• Meaning: Ignore or treat someone in an unfriendly manner.
• Example: She gave me the cold shoulder after our argument.

44. Hit the jackpot

• Meaning: To achieve great success or win a large prize.
• Example: He hit the jackpot and won the lottery.

45. It’s a piece of pie

• Meaning: Something very easy to do.
• Example: Don’t worry; fixing the issue is a piece of pie.

46. Jump the gun

• Meaning: To act or start before the appropriate time.
• Example: She jumped the gun and announced the news before it was confirmed.

47. Keep your fingers crossed

• Meaning: To hope for good luck or success.
• Example: Keep your fingers crossed for my job interview tomorrow.

48. Let sleeping dogs lie

• Meaning: To avoid bringing up old issues or conflicts.
• Example: They had a disagreement, but it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie.

49. Make a long story short

• Meaning: To give a brief version of a story or explanation.
• Example: I won the game, made a long story short.

50. No pain, no gain

• Meaning: You have to work hard or endure difficulties to achieve something.
• Example: If you want to improve your fitness, remember, no pain, no gain.

51. Off the top of my head

• Meaning: Giving an answer without much thought or preparation.
• Example: I can’t give you an exact number off the top of my head.

52. Play it by ear

• Meaning: To make decisions as you go along, without a plan.
• Example: We don’t have a fixed itinerary; let’s play it by ear.

53. Put your foot in your mouth

• Meaning: Say something foolish or embarrassing.
• Example: I put my foot in my mouth by accidentally insulting her.

54. Rain or shine

• Meaning: Regardless of the weather conditions.
• Example: The event will take place, rain or shine.

55. Saved by the bell

• Meaning: Rescued from a difficult or embarrassing situation.
• Example: The phone rang, and I was saved by the bell.

56. Show your true colors

• Meaning: Reveal one’s real character or intentions.
• Example: When things get tough, people show their true colors.

57. Take a rain check

• Meaning: Postpone a plan or invitation for another time.
• Example: I can’t make it to dinner tonight. Can I take a rain check?

58. The early bird catches the worm

• Meaning: Being proactive or early gives you an advantage.
• Example: I always arrive early to work; the early bird catches the worm.

59. Throw caution to the wind

• Meaning: Take a risk or act without thinking about the consequences.
• Example: He threw caution to the wind and quit his stable job to pursue his passion.

60. Up the creek without a paddle

• Meaning: In a difficult or hopeless situation.
• Example: If we lose this client, we’re up the creek without a paddle.

61. When in Rome, do as the Romans do

• Meaning: Adapt to the customs or behavior of a new place.
• Example: We should try the local food; when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

62. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

• Meaning: It’s better to have something certain than to risk it for something better but uncertain.
• Example: I decided to accept the job offer. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

63. All bark and no bite

• Meaning: Someone who talks tough but doesn’t take action.
• Example: He threatens a lot, but he’s all bark and no bite.

64. As cool as a cucumber

• Meaning: Calm and composed, especially in stressful situations.
• Example: Even under pressure, she remains as cool as a cucumber.

65. Beggars can’t be choosers

• Meaning: When you’re in a difficult situation, you have to accept what is available.
• Example: I wanted a specific brand, but beggars can’t be choosers.

66. Between a rock and a hard place

• Meaning: Having to choose between two difficult options.
• Example: I’m between a rock and a hard place; both choices have serious consequences.

67. Break the ice

• Meaning: To initiate or start a conversation or interaction.
• Example: I told a joke to break the ice at the meeting.

68. Cut corners

• Meaning: To do something quickly and cheaply, often sacrificing quality.
• Example: They cut corners to finish the project on time, and now the quality is compromised.

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

• Meaning: Don’t rely on a single source or plan; diversify your options.
• Example: Invest in different stocks to diversify your portfolio. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

70. Every dog has its day

• Meaning: Everyone gets their moment of success or recognition.
• Example: He’s been working hard, and I believe every dog has its day.

71. Fish out of water

• Meaning: Feeling uncomfortable or out of place in a particular situation.
• Example: Being at the party surrounded by strangers made me feel like a fish out of water.

72. Get cold feet

• Meaning: To feel nervous or anxious about doing something.
• Example: I was going to ask her out, but I got cold feet at the last moment.

73. Hit the road

• Meaning: To start a journey or leave a place.
• Example: It’s time to hit the road and begin our vacation.

74. In hot water

• Meaning: In trouble or facing difficulties.
• Example: He got caught cheating and is now in hot water with the teacher.

75. Keep your eyes peeled

• Meaning: Stay alert and watch carefully.
• Example: Keep your eyes peeled for any signs of danger.

76. Under the weather:

• Meaning: Feeling unwell or sick.
• Example: I won’t be able to make it to the party; I’m feeling under the weather.

77. Up in the air

• Meaning: Uncertain or undecided.
• Example: The date for the meeting is still up in the air; we haven’t finalized it yet.

78. Wear your heart on your sleeve

• Meaning: Showing emotions openly and transparently.
• Example: He wears his heart on his sleeve, and everyone knows when he’s upset.

79. When pigs fly

• Meaning: Something that is highly unlikely or improbable.
• Example: I’ll start exercising regularly when pigs fly.

80. You can’t judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree

• Meaning: Everyone has different strengths and abilities.
• Example: She struggles in math, but she’s excellent in art. You can’t judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree.

81. Zip your lip

• Meaning: Be quiet or keep a secret.
• Example: Zip your lip and don’t say anything about the surprise party.

82. A watched pot never boils

• Meaning: Time seems to pass slowly when you’re waiting for something.
• Example: Stop waiting for your friends so eagerly. A watched pot never boils.

83. All thumbs

• Meaning: Clumsy or awkward.
• Example: I can’t thread a needle; I’m all thumbs.

84. Better late than never

• Meaning: It’s better to do something late than not at all.
• Example: She finally apologized for her behavior. Well, better late than never.

85. Kick the bucket

• Meaning: To die
• Example: Every one of us will kick the bucket someday

86. Burning the midnight oil

• Meaning: Working or studying late into the night.
• Example: I have an exam tomorrow, so I’ll be burning the midnight oil.

87. Caught red-handed

• Meaning: Caught in the act of doing something wrong.
• Example: He was caught red-handed stealing from the store.

88. To go cold turkey

• Meaning: To give up an addictive habit completely
• Example: I’ve gone cold turkey on smoking cigars

89. Devil in disguise

• Meaning: Someone who appears friendly but is actually harmful or deceitful.
• Example: Be careful with him; he’s a devil in disguise.

90. Let your hair down

• Meaning: Stay alert and watch carefully.
• Example: After a long week, it’s time to let our hair down and have some fun.

91. Make waves

• Meaning: To cause a disturbance or create an impact
• Example: She make waves with her ground research

92. Needle in a haystack

• Meaning: Something extremely difficult or impossible to find
• Example: Finding my keys in this messy room is like finding a needle in a haystack

93. Off the beaten path

• Meaning: Away from the usual or popular route or location
• Example: Let’s explore the city and visit some off-the-beaten-path attractions.

94. Play your cards right

• Meaning: To make the best decisions and take advantage of the opportunity.
• Example: If you play your cards right, then you would get your position.

95. Put someone on the spot

• Meaning: To make someone feel uncomfortable or pressurized.
• Example: Don’t put him on the spot by asking about his personal life.

96. Run out of stream

• Meaning: To lose energy or enthusiasm.
• Example: After working all day, I’ve run out of stream and as a result, I need a break.

97. Shoot for the moon

• Meaning: Set ambitious goals or aim for something challenging.
• Example: Don’t settle for less. Shoot for the moon and see where you land.

98. Take the bull by the horns

• Meaning: To confront a difficult situation head-on.
• Example: Instead of avoiding the problem, it’s time to take the bull by the horns.

99. Up in arms

• Meaning: Angry or in a state of protest.
• Example: The citizens were up in arms over the proposed policy change.

100. You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours

• Meaning: Mutual cooperation or helping each other out.
• Example: Let’s collaborate on this project. You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.


Idioms are an integral part of the English language, adding richness and depth to your conversations. By familiarizing yourself with these 100 common idioms, along with their meanings and examples, you will be better equipped to understand and use them in your everyday communication.