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Common English Idioms

Common English Idioms

Found by Gurdeep Pandher:-



Hold on


Call on

Call out

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A blessing in disguise

a good thing that seemed bad at first

A dime a dozen

Something common

Beat around the bush

Avoid saying what you mean, usually because it is uncomfortable

Better late than never

Better to arrive late than not to come at all

Bite the bullet

To get something over with because it is inevitable

Break a leg

Good luck

Call it a day

Stop working on something

Cut somebody some slack

Don’t be so critical

Cutting corners

Doing something poorly in order to save time or money

Easy does it

Slow down

Get out of hand

Get out of control

Get something out of your system

Do the thing you’ve been wanting to do so you can move on

Get your act together

Work better or leave

Give someone the benefit of the doubt

Trust what someone says

Go back to the drawing board

Start over

Hang in there

Don’t give up

Hit the sack

Go to sleep

It’s not rocket science

It’s not complicated

Let someone off the hook

To not hold someone responsible for something

Make a long story short

Tell something briefly

Miss the boat

It’s too late

No pain, no gain

You have to work for what you want

On the ball

Doing a good job

Pull someone’s leg

To joke with someone

Pull yourself together

Calm down

So far so good

Things are going well so far

Speak of the devil

The person we were just talking about showed up!

That’s the last straw

My patience has run out

The best of both worlds

An ideal situation

Time flies when you’re having fun

You don’t notice how long something lasts when it’s fun

To get bent out of shape

To get upset

To make matters worse

Make a problem worse

Under the weather


We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it

Let’s not talk about that problem right now

Wrap your head around something

Understand something complicated

You can say that again

That’s true, I agree

Your guess is as good as mine

I have no idea


These English idioms are used quite regularly in the United States. You may not hear them every day, but they will be very familiar to any native English speaker. You can be confident using any of them when the context is appropriate.



A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

What you have is worth more than what you might have later

A penny for your thoughts

Tell me what you’re thinking

A penny saved is a penny earned

Money you save today you can spend later

A perfect storm

the worst possible situation

A picture is worth 1000 words

Better to show than tell

Actions speak louder than words

Believe what people do and not what they say

Add insult to injury

To make a bad situation worse

Barking up the wrong tree

To be mistaken, to be looking for solutions in the wrong place

Birds of a feather flock together

People who are alike are often friends (usually used negatively)

Bite off more than you can chew

Take on a project that you cannot finish

Break the ice

Make people feel more comfortable

By the skin of your teeth

Just barely

Comparing apples to oranges

Comparing two things that cannot be compared

Costs an arm and a leg

Very expensive

Do something at the drop of a hat

Do something without having planned beforehand

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Treat people fairly. Also known as “The Golden Rule”

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

Don’t count on something good happening until it’s happened.

Don’t cry over spilt milk

There’s no reason to complain about something that can’t be fixed

Don’t give up your day job

You’re not very good at this

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

What you’re doing is too risky

Every cloud has a silver lining

Good things come after bad things

Get a taste of your own medicine

Get treated the way you’ve been treating others (negative)

Give someone the cold shoulder

Ignore someone

Go on a wild goose chase

To do something pointless

Good things come to those who wait

Be patient

He has bigger fish to fry

He has bigger things to take care of than what we are talking about now

He’s a chip off the old block

The son is like the father

Hit the nail on the head

Get something exactly right

Ignorance is bliss

You’re better off not knowing

It ain’t over till the fat lady sings

This isn’t over yet

It takes one to know one

You’re just as bad as I am

It’s a piece of cake

It’s easy

It’s raining cats and dogs

It’s raining hard

Kill two birds with one stone

Get two things done with a single action

Let the cat out of the bag

Give away a secret

Live and learn

I made a mistake

Look before you leap

Take only calculated risks

On thin ice

On probation. If you make another mistake, there will be trouble.

Once in a blue moon


Play devil’s advocate

To argue the opposite, just for the sake of argument

Put something on ice

Put a projet on hold

Rain on someone’s parade

To spoil something

Saving for a rainy day

Saving money for later

Slow and steady wins the race

Reliability is more important than speed

Spill the beans

Give away a secret

Take a rain check

Postpone a plan

Take it with a grain of salt

Don’t take it too seriously

The ball is in your court

It’s your decision

The best thing since sliced bread

A really good invention

The devil is in the details

It looks good from a distance, but when you look closer, there are problems

The early bird gets the worm

The first people who arrive will get the best stuff

The elephant in the room

The big issue, the problem people are avoiding

The whole nine yards

Everything, all the way.

There are other fish in the sea

It’s ok to miss this opportunity. Others will arise.

There’s a method to his madness

He seems crazy but actually he’s clever

There’s no such thing as a free lunch

Nothing is entirely free

Throw caution to the wind

Take a risk

You can’t have your cake and eat it too

You can’t have everything

You can’t judge a book by its cover

This person or thing may look bad, but it’s good inside


These English idioms and proverbs are familiar and easily understood by native English speakers, but they are not usually used in everyday conversation. If you haven’t mastered the more frequent idioms yet, they are a better place to start, but if you’re already familiar with those expressions, the idioms below will further spice up your English.



A little learning is a dangerous thing

People who don’t understand something fully are dangerous

A snowball effect

Events have momentum and build upon each other

A snowball’s chance in hell

No chance at all

A stitch in time saves nine

Fix the problem now because it will get worse later

A storm in a teacup

A big fuss about a small problem

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

Apples are good for you

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

You can prevent a problem with little effort. Fixing it later is harder.

As right as rain


Bolt from the blue

Something that happened without warning

Burn bridges

Destroy relationships

Calm before the storm

Something bad is coming, but right now it’s calm

Come rain or shine

No matter what

Curiosity killed the cat

Stop asking questions

Cut the mustard

Do a good job

Don’t beat a dead horse

Move on, this subject is over

Every dog has his day

Everyone gets a chance at least once

Familiarity breeds contempt

The better you know someone the less you like him

Fit as a fiddle

In good health

Fortune favours the bold

Take risks

Get a second wind

Have more energy after having been tired

Get wind of something

Hear news of something secret

Go down in flames

Fail spectacularly

Haste makes waste

You’ll make mistakes if you rush through something

Have your head in the clouds

Not be concentrating

He who laughs last laughs loudest

I’ll get you back for what you did

Hear something straight from the horse’s mouth

Hear something from the person involved

He’s not playing with a full deck

He’s dumb

He’s off his rocker

He’s crazy

He’s sitting on the fence

He can’t make up his mind

It is a poor workman who blames his tools

If you can’t do the job, don’t blame it on others

It is always darkest before the dawn

Things are going to get better

It takes two to tango

One person alone isn’t responsible. Both people are involved.

Jump on the bandwagon

Follow a trend, do what everyone else is doing

Know which way the wind is blowing

Understand the situation (usually negative)

Leave no stone unturned

Look everywhere

Let sleeping dogs lie

Stop discussing an issue

Like riding a bicycle

Something you never forget how to do

Like two peas in a pod

They’re always together

Make hay while the sun shines

Take advantage of a good situation

On cloud nine

Very happy

Once bitten, twice shy

You’re more cautious when you’ve been hurt before

Out of the frying pan and into the fire

Things are going from bad to worse

Run like the wind

Run fast

Shape up or ship out

Work better or leave

Snowed under


That ship has sailed

It’s too late

The pot calling the kettle black

Someone criticizing someone else he is just as bad

There are clouds on the horizon

Trouble is coming

Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones

People who are morally questionable shouldn’t criticize others

Through thick and thin

In good times and in bad times

Time is money

Work quickly

Waste not, want not

Don’t waste things and you’ll always have enough

We see eye to eye

We agree

Weather the storm

Go through something difficult

Well begun is half done

Getting a good start is important

When it rains it pours

Everything is going wrong at once

You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar

You’ll get what you want by being nice

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink

You can’t force someone to make the right decision

You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs

There’s always a cost to doing something

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