Idioms

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.

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. Read on

piece of cake

Meaning: something that is easy to do

Example: Learning English is a piece of cake as long as you do it with our website. Read on

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. Read on

a bed of roses

Meaning: easy option

Example: Taking care of my younger sister is no bed of roses; she is very silly. Read on

raining cats and dogs

Meaning: raining very heavily

Example: I wanted to go to play outside, but it was raining cats and dogs yesterday. Read on

when pigs fly

Meaning: something that will never happen or is impossible.

Example: William will keep quiet only when pigs fly. Read on

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. Read on

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. Read on

apple of eye

Meaning: someone very precious or dear

Example: Every kid in the world is the apple of their parents' eye(s). Read on

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. Read on

Free download idioms list PDFDownload as PDF file

Latest Idioms!

fan the flames

Meaning: make a bad situation even worse

Example: The president's racist comments are really going to fan the flames of hatred among the crowd. Read on

a hard nut to crack

Meaning: a problem that is difficult to solve

Example: She's such a tough nut to crack. Nobody seems to be able to get through to her. Read on

turn against

Meaning: to change from supporting something to opposing it

Example: A section of his supporters turned against him when they heard his latest speech on immigration. Read on

fight tooth and nail

Meaning: to fight very fiercely

Example: I want this job so I'm going to fight tooth and nail for it. Read on

Herculean task

Meaning: a task requiring huge amounts of physical strength

Example: It will be a Herculean task to get through to the quarter-finals, but this untested team is up for the challenge. Read on

View all idioms
View the complete list of all idioms we have on our website.

Idiom of the Day

mumbo jumbo

Meaning: Something that does not make sense.

Example: I do not believe in this mumbo jumbo, human life should be valued far more than some ritual that one is not willing to forego. Read on

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