An idiom is a phrase, saying or a group of words that has a metaphorical (not literal) meaning, which has become accepted in common usage.
An idiom’s symbolic sense is quite different from the literal meaning or definition of the words of which it is made. There are a large number of Idioms and they are used very commonly in all languages. There are estimated to be at least 25,000 idiomatic expressions in the English language.
Idioms in fact, evolve the language; they are the building blocks of a language and civilization. They also have great intensity to make a language interesting and dynamic. Idioms bring a spectacular illustration to everyday speech. They provide interesting insights into the use of words, languages and the thought processes of their speakers. They have a sense of mystery and fun about them.
So what makes idioms difficult?
The answer is their “meaning”. Idioms are not easy to understand – especially for non-native speakers, because their meanings are usually metaphorical. This characteristic of idioms makes them strange and difficult to understand for English learners.
Top 10 Common Idioms
List of top 10 most common English idioms and phrases, with their meaning and examples for students and teachers. They are also frequently asked in competitive exams. Though the popularity of the idioms may vary from region to region, still the list is rather popular around the globe.
- piece of cake
- Meaning: something that is easy to do.
Example: Making spaghetti Bolognese is a piece of cake.
- a hot potato
- Meaning: a controversial issue or situation that is awkward or unpleasant to deal with.
Example: The subject of bullying and fighting in my school is a hot potato.
- once in a blue moon
- Meaning: very rarely.
Example: I go to visit my grandfather only once in a blue moon; he lives in a remote farm house.
- a bed of roses
- Meaning: easy option.
Example: Taking care of my younger sister is no bed of roses; she is very silly.
- raining cats and dogs
- Meaning: raining very heavily.
Example: I wanted to go to play outside, but it was raining cats and dogs yesterday.
- when pigs fly
- Meaning: something that will never happen or is impossible.
Example: William will keep quiet only when pigs fly.
- devil’s advocate
- Meaning: one who presents a counter argument.
Example: Hey Jack! You’re always playing devil’s advocate! Give it a rest and mind your own business.
- miss the boat
- Meaning: miss the chance.
Example: Peter wanted to enter the drawing competition, but he was too late to enter, and he missed the boat.
- apple of eye
- Meaning: someone very precious or dear.
Example: Every kid in the world is the apple of their parents’ eye(s).
- zip your lip
- Meaning: to stop talking.
Example: I don’t want to hear another sound out of you. Now do as you’re told and zip your lip.
- make light of
- make light of Meaning | Synonyms to treat something as if it isn’t important to make a joke of something that should be treated seriously to downplay something ... Read on
- through thick and thin
- through thick and thin Meaning | Synonyms under all conditions, no matter how challenging or difficult to support someone through good and bad times to do something even ... Read on
- in no time
- in no time Meaning | Synonyms a very short period of time very quickly almost instantly what feels like a very short period of time, even though it ... Read on
- throw down the gauntlet
- throw down the gauntlet Meaning to accept a challenge to issue a challenge Variants | Synonyms take up the gauntlet pick up the gauntlet Example Sentences When it ... Read on
- way forward
- way forward Meaning | Synonyms the only way to succeed something that would be a positive influence on your life an action plan that is devised to lead ... Read on
- View all idioms
- View the complete list of all idioms we've on our website.