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Common English Idioms and Their Meanings

Idioms are word groups (phrases) that have a hidden meaning that is unclear while reading those words. They may seem random or confusing to you, however, a majority of idioms were born hundreds of years ago, as well as have eventually become a part of regular English speech. Wondering why you should learn idioms? Well, in case you wish to be as proficient as possible in English, you will be required to know them. Also, they have an amazing intensity for making the language dynamic and interesting. The idioms bring a stunning illustration to regular speech. They offer fascinating insights into the usage of languages, words, along with the thought processes of their speakers. 

Check out these 24 common idioms which are easy-to-use in regular interaction and know what do they mean – 

Check out these 24 common idioms which are easy-to-use in regular interaction and know what do they mean – 

  1. Speak of the devil – It means that the person you are just chatting about literally appears at that very moment. 

Example – “Hello Lisa, speak of the devil, I was just telling Tom about your new house.”

  1. Once in a blue moon – The event which takes place infrequently.

Example – “I only visit the restaurants once in a blue moon.”

  1. To cost an arm & a leg – Something is quite expensive. 

Example – “Onions these days cost an arm & a leg.”

  1. Let the cat out of the bag – To reveal the secret accidentally. 

Example – “I let the cat out of the bag about their divorce agreement.”

  1. To Kill 2 birds with 1 stone – To resolve 2 issues at once. 

Example – “By taking my mom on vacations, I killed 2 birds with 1 stone. I got to go away and also spend some quality time with her.”

  1. To add insult to injury – Making the situation worse. 

Example – “To add insult to injury, my car drove off without even stopping after knocking him off his bike.”

  1. Break a leg – Refers to “good luck” (usually said to the actors before they go on the stage). 

Example – “Break a leg Sierra, I am quite sure that your performance will be the best.”

  1. A blessing in disguise – The misfortune which eventually leads to something good occurring later on. 

Example – “I didn’t know that Josh and my breakup will turn out to be such a blessing in disguise.”

  1. No pain no gain – You need to work hard for something you desire. 

Example – “I had to shift to London for 4 years to be well-trained in Ethical Hacking. As they say, no pain no gain!”

  1. Getting a taste of your own medicine – Being handled the same disagreeable way you have treated other people. 

Example – “Now I see how it feels to have somebody call you names! I am getting a taste of my own medicine.”

  1. Hit the books – It just means “to study”, & is a way to tell friends that you are going to study. 

Example – “I am sorry as I can’t watch the movie with you tonight, I need to hit the books. I have an important test tomorrow.”

  1. Twist someone’s arm – Somebody has done an impressive job of convincing you to do something you may not have wished to do. 

Example – “I didn’t want to go to the Maldives, but Alexander twisted my arm.”

  1. Lose your touch – When you are often good at a specific talent or skill, however, then things begin to go wrong. 

Example – “It seems as if you have lost your touch with the guys.”

  1. Pitch in – To give (contribute) to someone or something or to join in. 

Example – “How about we all pitch in & get him something perfect?”

  1. Face the music – To face reality or to manage the situation’s reality & accept every consequence, bad or good (however mostly bad). 

Example – “You know you didn’t study hard, so you will have to face the music & take the class again next semester in case you wish to graduate when you do.”

  1. Blow off steam – Doing something like exercising for getting rid of the stress. 

Example – “I fought with my brother, so I am going for a run to blow off steam.”

  1. Up in the air – It refers that these things are unsure or uncertain. 

Example – “Things are up in the air & Angelina is not sure if her family can make it on the day John wanted.”

  1. Get over something – You no longer are worried about it and it doesn’t impact you negatively anymore. 

Example – “Has Emma gotten over the death of her aunt yet?”

  1. Born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth – Somebody who comes from a successful and wealthy family. 

Example – “Xavier was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth and that is why he had to work harder to be successful.”

  1. To have sticky fingers – To be the thief. 

Example – “I fired my maid last week because she had sticky fingers.”

  1. To pony up – To settle the debt or pay for something. 

Example – “Come on, pony up & give me the $100 you owe me.”

  1. A sandwich short of a picnic – A funny way of stating that somebody is a bit mad or stupid. 

Example – “Cade brought only a t-shirt and shorts when he went to Switzerland in the winters, I think he may be a sandwich short of a picnic.”

  1. All Ears – For excitedly waiting to hear about something. 

Example – “If you ever feel like talking about your breakup, just know that I am all ears.”

  1. Barking up the wrong tree – To be misguided or wrong about the reason for something. 

Example – “My boss thinks that the firm’s issues can be resolved only by firing the HR team, however, he is barking up the wrong tree.”

Now that you know a few of the most common idioms, don’t forget to use them while practising your English. Always remember the more comfy you get utilizing English phrases and idioms, the closer you get to attaining complete English fluency. You can also get some live-lessons for online english classes with screened and experienced English Tutors at to practice idioms and phrases in context. Your textbooks don’t always teach you about these, however, dropping the idiom into your interactions from time-to-time will always support you fit in.

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