50 Common English Idioms You Need to Know

What are idioms in English?

Idioms are a type of figurative language that is unique to each language. They are phrases or expressions that have a figurative, rather than literal, meaning that is not immediately clear to non-native speakers. In the English language, there are thousands of idiomatic expressions that are commonly used in everyday speech.

Why do you need idioms?

Idioms are used for a variety of reasons in the English language. One important reason is that they allow speakers to convey a lot of information in a concise and memorable way. Idioms often encapsulate complex ideas, emotions, or experiences in a short phrase, making them useful for communicating in a range of contexts. For example, the idiom “break a leg” is a common way to wish someone good luck before a performance or presentation. The phrase is memorable and carries a positive connotation, making it an effective way to express encouragement in a concise and memorable way.

Another reason idioms are used is to add color and humor to language. Many idioms are creative and vivid, using imaginative language to describe common situations or experiences. For example, the idiom “hit the nail on the head” is a colorful way of saying that someone is exactly right about something. The phrase paints a vivid mental image that makes the language more interesting and engaging.

Idioms also serve to create a sense of belonging and identity within language communities. Because idioms are often unique to a particular language or region, they can help to create a shared sense of culture and identity among speakers. For example, American English is filled with idioms that are commonly used in the United States but may be unfamiliar to speakers of other varieties of English. Learning and using these idioms can help non-native speakers feel more integrated into American culture and better understand the nuances of the language.

50 common English idioms

In this article, we will introduce 50 commonly used English idioms and their meanings.

  1. “Break a leg” – Good luck!
  2. “Bite the bullet” – To face a difficult or unpleasant situation
  3. “Hit the books” – To study hard
  4. “Cut to the chase” – To get to the point
  5. “Keep your chin up” – To stay positive
  6. “Let the cat out of the bag” – To reveal a secret
  7. “The ball is in your court” – It’s your turn to take action
  8. “Take a rain check” – To postpone a plan
  9. “A piece of cake” – Something that’s very easy to do
  10. “Break the ice” – To make the first step in a new situation
  11. “Under the weather” – Feeling sick or unwell
  12. “Put all your eggs in one basket” – To risk everything on a single venture
  13. “Cost an arm and a leg” – To be very expensive
  14. “Call it a day” – To stop working for the day
  15. “Once in a blue moon” – Something that happens very rarely
  16. “Barking up the wrong tree” – To make a mistake or have a wrong assumption
  17. “Cut corners” – To do something in an incomplete or hasty way
  18. “In the same boat” – In a similar situation
  19. “A dime a dozen” – Something that’s common or easily found
  20. “A picture is worth a thousand words” – A visual representation can convey complex ideas better than words
  21. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” – To diversify your resources or investments
  22. “All ears” – To be fully attentive and listening carefully
  23. “Get a kick out of” – To enjoy or find pleasure in something
  24. “Hit the nail on the head” – To be accurate or correct
  25. “Spill the beans” – To reveal a secret unintentionally or deliberately
  26. “Hang in there” – To persevere or keep going
  27. “Jump the gun” – To act too quickly or prematurely
  28. “In hot water” – In trouble or facing a difficult situation
  29. “On the same page” – To have a shared understanding or agreement
  30. “The early bird catches the worm” – To succeed by acting early or being proactive
  31. “Straight from the horse’s mouth” – Directly from the original or authoritative source
  32. “A blessing in disguise” – Something that seems bad but turns out to be beneficial
  33. “Break the bank” – To spend more money than you can afford
  34. “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch” – To not assume success before it happens
  35. “Feeling blue” – To feel sad or depressed
  36. “Go the extra mile” – To make an extra effort
  37. “Leave no stone unturned” – To explore every possible option or solution
  38. “Make a long story short” – To summarize briefly
  39. “Play devil’s advocate” – To argue the opposite or opposing viewpoint for the sake of debate
  40. “Rub someone the wrong way” – To irritate or annoy someone
  41. “The apple of my eye” – Something or someone that is greatly valued or cherished
  42. “Throw in the towel” – To give up or surrender
  43. “Up in the air” – Something that is uncertain or undecided
  44. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” – To value what you have now rather than seeking something uncertain or better
  45. “Actions speak louder than words” – What someone does is more important than what they say they will do
  46. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” – To not make assumptions based on appearances
  47. “Get cold feet” – To become nervous or hesitant before an important event or decision
  48. “In the nick of time” – Just in time before it’s too late
  49. “Put your foot in your mouth” – To say or do something embarrassing or inappropriate
  50. “The grass is always greener on the other side” – People tend to think that others have it better than themselves.

In conclusion, idioms are an important part of the English language because they allow speakers to convey complex ideas in a concise and memorable way, add color and humor to language, and create a sense of identity and belonging among language communities. Learning and using idioms is an essential part of mastering the English language and becoming a fluent and effective communicator.

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