Popular Idioms And Their Meanings With Examples that English Learners SHOULD Know

25 popular idioms and their meanings


Conversations would be so boring without Idioms! If you want to speak English, you NEED to KNOW the most Popular English idioms and their meanings! Before we jump to my list of 25 popular idioms and their meanings (with example sentences), letʻs answer this question first: What are English idioms and why do we use them? Here’s what you need to know:

What are English Idioms?

An idiom is a phrase that has a meaning that is not literal. This can make them difficult to understand if you are not familiar with them. For example, the idiom “to kill two birds with one stone.” This doesn’t mean that you actually kill two birds. Instead, it means that you accomplish two things at the same time.

Letʻs look at another example, the idiom “it’s raining cats and dogs” means that it’s raining very hard – not that actual cats and dogs are falling from the sky!


Why do we use English Idioms?

We use idioms all the time in English, both in speaking and in writing. There are many reasons why we use idioms. They can be a helpful way to add power and meaning to our words. They can add color, humor and interest to our conversations. They can also help us to be more concise. In some cases, they can even help us to communicate more effectively.

In some cases, an idiom can be used to replace a more literal word or phrase. For example, instead of saying “I’m going to bed,” you could say “I’m hitting the hay.” This is a more concise way of saying the same thing.

In other cases, an idiom can be used to emphasize a point. For example, if you want to emphasize how cold it is outside, you could say “it’s freezing out there!”


The History of English Idioms

English idioms have a long and interesting history. Many of them come from other languages, such as Latin, French, and German. Others have been around for centuries, passed down from generation to generation.


The Origin of English Idioms

Many English idioms have interesting origins. For example, the idiom “to kill two birds with one stone” is believed to come from ancient times when people used to hunt with slingshots. If you were able to kill two birds with one stone, it was a very efficient way to hunt.

The idiom “the apple of my eye” is believed to come from the Bible. In the Book of Deuteronomy, it says “Keep me as the apple of your eye.” This means that you should protect me as you would protect your own eye.

The Importance of English Idioms for Non-Native English Learners

English idioms are an important part of the English language. They can help us to communicate more effectively and sound more like a native English speaker. If you are learning English, it is important to learn as many idioms as you can. If you’re a non-native English speaker, learning English idioms is essential to understanding native speakers. There are hundreds of common English idioms in use today. While you might not need to use all of them, it’s important to be familiar with some of the most common ones. This will help you understand native speakers and avoid misunderstandings in conversation.

There are many popular English idioms that are used in everyday conversation. These idioms can often be confusing for non-native speakers of English.Therefore, I have also listed some tips below on how to learn English Idioms.

25 popular idioms and their meanings with examples of how we can use them correctly:

  • Once in a blue moon – Something that does not happen often.

Example sentence – I read a book once in a blue moon.


  • The best of both worlds – A situation where one can enjoy the benefit of two different opportunities.

Example sentence – If you relocate to this area you get the beauty of the countryside and the amenities of urban life. Itʻs the best of both worlds, really.


  • Speak of the devil – When the person you are talking about suddenly appears.

Example sentence – Do you know what Sally did yesterday? – Oh, speak of the devil, here she comes!


  • A piece of cake – When something is very easy.

Example sentence – I got 100% on my test yesterday – itʻs not surprising as the test was a piece of cake!


  • To feel under the weather – When you are ill or feel ill (sick).

Example sentence – I feel a bit under the weather today, so I am just going to stay home. I hope I don’t have COVID!


  • Cost an arm and a leg – When something is very expensive (costs a lot of money).

Example sentence – I would love to have the new iPhone, but it costs an arm and a leg! I just cannot afford it right now.


  • When pigs fly – Something that will never happen (itʻs impossible).

25 popular idioms and their meanings

Example sentence – I asked my parents if I could go to the party tonight, they said yes, when pigs fly!

A helpful tip is to watch English-language movies and television shows. Idiomatic expressions are often used in everyday conversation, so by watching these shows, you can get a feel for how they are used. Pay attention to the context in which the expressions are used and try to memorize them.

  • See eye to eye – When you agree with someone.

Example sentence – Tom and Stacey finally saw eye to eye on the building plans for the new supermarket. Now they can finally start the building process.


  • Let the cat out of the bag – To reveal a secret.

25 popular idioms and their meanings

Example sentence – He let the cat out of the bag and finally told his parents about his plans to leave the country.


  • Kill two birds with one stone – When you achieve two things with one single action.

Example sentence – If I go to the supermarket and pick up the kids from school on my way back, I can kill two birds with one stone.


  • Break a leg – To wish someone good luck.

Example Sentence – You have your first acting performance tonight, break a leg!


  • It’s raining cats and dogs – This idiom is used to describe heavy rain.

Example SentenceItʻs raining cats and dogs outside! The whole house is almost underwater!

First, try to find examples of the idiom in use. This can help you understand what the idiom means and how it's used. Second, try to use the idiom yourself in conversation. This will help you remember it and get a feel for how it's used. Finally, don't be afraid to ask native speakers for help. They can give you insight into the meaning of the idiom and how to use it correctly.

  • Cut corners – Not doing something properly (leaving steps out and doing something cheaply and in an easy way).

Example sentence – We cannot afford to cut corners on this project, it must be perfect!


  • Don’t judge a book by its cover – You should not judge (have an opinion) of someone or something based on appearance.

Example sentence – I thought that the lady behind the counter was incompetent by the way she looks but she was very good at her job, I guess you cannot judge a book by its cover!


  • Call it a day – To stop doing something.

Example sentence – I have worked very hard today and I am exhausted, itʻs time to call it a day and go home.


  • Hit the nail on the head – To have the exact answer to something (to be accurately right).

Example sentence – My friend said that to gain more followers on social media, I must create more engaging posts, seems like he hit the nail on the head!


  • Let someone off the hook – To not punish someone who has been caught.

Example sentence – I still think he is guilty, but I need to let him off the hook as I do not have any evidence of him committing the crime.

One great way to learn English idioms is to read as much as you can. Try to find books, articles, and other reading materials that contain a lot of idiomatic expressions. As you encounter these expressions, take note of them and try to memorize their meaning and usage.

  • No pain, no gain – You will not be able to achieve something without some difficulty.

Example sentence – I know that studying is hard, but you must do it if you want to pass the test tomorrow. No pain, no gain!


  • A blessing in disguise – A good outcome from a bad situation.

Example sentence – It was a blessing in disguise when John missed his flight to London as he never would have met his wife at the party he decided to go to that night after missing his flight.


  • Bite the bullet – To go through a painful or unpleasant situation.

Example sentence – I will just have to bite the bullet and get over my fear of heights.


  • Taste of own medicine – To do the same bad thing to someone who has been doing it to you.

Example sentence – He has been rude to the people he works with, now they are being rude to him, I guess he deserves a taste of his own medicine.


  • The elephant in the room – There is an obvious problem or difficult situation that people do not want to talk about.

25 popular idioms and their meanings

Example sentence – The fact that Suzy fell pregnant at 16 years of age was a big elephant in the room at each family reunion.


  • Give someone the cold shoulder – To ignore someone.

Example sentence – He is not replying to any of my messages, he is obviously giving me the cold shoulder.


  • The last straw – The final unpleasant thing before taking action.

Example sentence – My best friend stole from me again, this is the last straw, I am going to end this relationship.


  • To steal someone’s thunder – To take credit for someone else’s work.

Example sentence – Suzy stole my thunder when she presented my ideas as her own to the board.


This was just my own short list of the 25 most popular Idioms and their meanings used in everyday conversation. I will be adding more soon! I hope that this explanation and these examples have helped to clear up any confusion that you may have had about these idioms. Happy Learning!

What is your favorite English idiom? Leave a comment!



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