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Idioms and Phrases in English with Meanings and Examples

Idioms and Phrases

Idioms and Phrases:The English language has idioms and phrases, which are frequently employed to add interest to sentences. Idioms are frequently employed in poetry, storytelling, and spoken language. Although their exact roots are not always known, many idioms are said to have developed through time from storytelling and other forms of creative writing. In contrast to idioms, phrases are straightforward and to the point. The phrase means what the words imply; it has no figurative undertones. In Board exams and Many competitive exams like CUET, CLAT, NDA, and other competitive exams involving English language themes, usually include idioms and phrases questions.


Idioms are a group of expressions that have a common, established, and understood metaphorical meaning. Therefore, it is impossible to interpret these sentences literally because doing so would make them absurd. Idioms may also look grammatically out of the ordinary.

Idioms are a helpful language tool. They give the prose life and colour. Instead of writing simple, dull paragraphs, it enables the authors to play with words and make the text exciting to read. Idioms are frequently employed in poetry, storytelling, and spoken language. Although their exact roots are not always known, many idioms are said to have developed through time from storytelling and other forms of creative writing.

Let’s look at some incredibly inventive idioms and their corresponding meanings.

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10 Idioms with Meanings and Examples

As you watch American TV shows or films, you must have seen commonly used English idioms. English idioms, proverbs, and phrases are widely used in written and spoken common English. Idioms don’t always make sense literally, therefore students need to understand what they mean and how to utilise them. Even though it might seem like a lot of work, idioms are enjoyable! It is frequently referred to as a speaking style that sounds more native, thus learning some of these terms is really helpful.

So, the top 10 idioms together with their definitions and use examples are listed below:

In for a penny, in for a pound That someone is intentionally investing his time or money for a particular project or task. When Athlead was booming, Jim was in for a penny and in for a pound, that’s how much dedicated he was.
A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush An opportunity in hand, currently, is better than a prospect in the future, because time never repeats itself. The detective apprehended 3 criminals and saw other one running but didn’t chase him, because she knew a bird in one hand is better than two in the bush.
Chip off the old block That a person is similar in behaviour or actions like his parents. When grandmother saw her grandson collecting coins like her son used to do, she knew he was a Chip off the old block.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you Treat people the same way you want to be treated. I felt Peter was a little cold today towards that homeless man, he should do unto others as he would have them do unto him, because who knows about time.
Don’t cry over spilt milk Don’t cry over what has happened as it can not be fixed. Walter failed his examination but his dad came and said just one thing, “Son, Don’t cry over spilt milk.”
Beside yourself with joy To be extremely happy. I can see that you are beside yourself with joy on being selected for the job, congratulations.
A black sheep Being a disgrace for the family. They don’t talk about Olive anymore, turns out he was the Black sheep for the family, he married someone else while he was still arranged to his fiancé.
Down for the count Tired; giving up. My pet dog is down for the count after playing the whole day with the frisbee.
Break a leg Saying good luck to someone. Hey Barry, it’s time for you to get on the stage and present your monologue, break a leg.
Go the extra mile To make an extra effort. He was willing to go the extra mile for the love of his life, Mia.

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20 Idioms with Meanings

Some idioms with their meanings are given below in the form of a tables

Idiom Idioms Meaning
Beat around the bush To avoid talking about what’s important
Get your act together Get organized and do things effectively
Hit the sack Go to sleep
Your guess is as good as mine I do not know
Good things come to those who wait To have patience
Back against the wall Stuck in a difficult circumstance with no escape
Up in arms Being grumpy or angry about something
Scrape the barrel Making the most of the worst situations or things because you can’t do anything about it
Burn your boats/bridges Doing something that makes it impossible to go back to the original state.
Break fresh/ new ground Doing something that has never been done before
Sell like hot cakes Quick sellout
Run around in circles Putting efforts into something that is not a worthwhile result
On cloud nine Being very happy
Left out in the cold Being ignored
Blow hot and cold Alternate inconsistently between moods and actions
Cut corners Doing something in an easier and least expensive manner
Boil the ocean Taking up an almost impossible or overly ambitious project
Keep an ear to the ground Staying informed and updated about everything
Eat like a horse Eating too excessively
A snowball effect The aspect of momentum in every event and how they build upon each other

Idioms and Phrases in English Examples with Meaning


Idioms/Phrases Meaning
The ball is in your court one needs to take some action to keep something going
A piece of cake something easily achieved
A picture paints a thousand words an image of a subject conveys its meaning or essence more effectively than a description does.
Tie the knot to marry a mate
Bed of roses an easy, comfortable situation.
To make a long story short used to end an account of events quickly
Sixth sense a supposed power to know or feel things that are not perceptible by the five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.
Rome was not built in a day Important work takes time
Turn a blind eye pretend not to notice.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket a piece of advice which means that one should not concentrate all efforts and resources in one area.
Through thick and thin under all circumstances, no matter how difficult
Rise and shine Wake up and get out of bed promptly
Wet one’s whistle have a drink
Put the best foot forward Start impressively
Stick one’s neck out To take a risk
Bear the palm Be victorious
From the horse’s mouth From a reliable source
Fool’s errand Useless undertaking
Be hand and foot In all possible ways; by all means
Gray matter Intelligence
Hear it on grapevine To hear rumours about something or someone
Bend over backwards Do whatever it takes to help, willing to do anything
Get your walking papers Get fired from the job
For the time being Temporarily
Lock and key In safe place
Cast a shadow on Spoil or let down
In the face of Regardless
Whole bag of tricks Make use of all the possibilities or techniques to achieve something.
Dog eat dog Ruthlessly competitive
Vote with one’s feet To show disapproval
Wipe the nose of To Cheat
Cork something up To stop up one’s mouth and be quiet
Cook someone’s goose Spoil other person’s chances of success
Sink or swim Fail or succeed
Hit the road running Start something and proceed at a fast pace with enthusiasm
To toe the line To accept the authority or policies of a particular group, especially unwillingly
Spelled Out explain something explicitly
Throw caution to the wind do something without worrying about the risk or negative results
On thin ice in a precarious or risky situation
a wild goose chase a search that is completely unsuccessful and a waste of time
head over heels falling deeply in love with another person
at eleventh hour last moment or almost late
On cloud nine being extremely happy making the sentence contextually incorrect.
A sitting duck a person or thing with no protection against an attack or other source of danger
Spilling the beans reveal secret information unintentionally or indiscreetly
Scot-free without suffering any punishment or injury
An arm and a leg phrase is used to refer something that is very expensive
Bread and butter in reference to something every day or ordinary
Grow into become as a result of natural development or gradual increase
Put Off to postpone or arrange a later date
Iron out to resolve by discussion
Tear up To destroy or severely damage something
Clam up To refuse to speak
Think back recall a past event or time
Wear off lose effectiveness or intensity
Catch up an act of catching up or matching someone or something in a particular activity
Too many cooks spoil the broth if too many people are involved in a task or activity, it will not be done well.
Easy come, easy go said when something, especially money, is easily got and then soon spent or lost
To spin one’s wheels waste one’s time or efforts
To be pushing up daisies dead and buried
To kick the bucket: to die
All good things must come to an end everything that one is fond off comes to an end, eventually
Blood is thicker than water family relationships and loyalties are the strongest and most important ones
All bark and no bite threatening, aggressive, but not willing to engage in a fight
An axe to grind To have a complaint or dispute that one feels compelled to discuss
All in the same boat in the same situation; having the same problem
All Greek to me expressing that something is not understandable
To bend over backwards to work very hard to accomplish something for someone
No man is an island to require help from other every now and then because of one’s limitations
Smell a rat to sense that someone has caused something wrong


A phrase is a short collection of words that functions as a whole. These pieces are a component of a longer phrase or clause. In contrast to idioms, phrases are straightforward and to the point. The term means what the words suggest; there are no figurative undertones.
In contrast to a complete sentence, a phrase contains a subject and a verb. They are a part of a complete sentence, hence it does not express a complete sentence. Noun, verb, infinitive, gerund, appositive, participial, prepositional, and absolute phrases are the eight major categories of phrases.

Phrases examples

  • Anjana loves to hang out.
  • Aleena has no kith and kin here.
  • Next year my friend will come here.
  • John has to decide; the ball is in his court.
  • We were walking very slowly.
  • The book you gifted me was really interesting.
  • Mark will be always with you through thick and thin.
  • Rohit is slow and steady.

Other related posts:

Tense Chart Types of sentences Irregular verbs
Direct and Indirect  Compound nouns Central Idea of the passage

Idioms and Phrases- QNAs

Q. What is an Idiom?

Ans. A phrase whose meaning differs from the meanings of its separate words is referred to as an idiom.

Q. Is Idioms & Phrases important for the board exam?

Ans. Yes, Idioms & Phrases are important for the board exam.

Q. What are the Uses of Idioms?

Ans. A phrase that deviates from its literal meaning by having a figurative interpretation is referred to as an idiom. Idioms can be heard in speech and the media on a daily basis.


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