Idioms for Kids

Kids will have fun with language learning this list of idioms, proverbs, and slang. The page explains meanings, gives kid-friendly examples, and shares origins of common idiomatic expressions.

Tongue in cheek

Meaning: Saying something funny or silly, not serious.

Example: My friend said he saw a dinosaur at the park, but I think he was just being tongue in cheek.

As keen as mustard

Meaning: Feeling super excited and ready to go!

Example: I’m as keen as mustard to go to the amusement park this weekend.

Stir up a hornet’s nest

Meaning: To make a big mess or cause a lot of trouble.

Example: Billy’s little brother always stirs up a hornet’s nest when he plays with his toys!

Not hurt a fly

Meaning: To be very kind and gentle.

Example: My big sister is so sweet; she wouldn’t hurt a fly!

Class clown

Meaning: A kid in class who loves making everyone laugh.

Example: Timmy is the class clown; he’s always telling jokes and making funny faces!

Mumbo jumbo

Meaning: Confusing talk that doesn’t make much sense.

Example: Sometimes, my little brother talks mumbo jumbo, and I have no idea what he’s saying!

Night owl

Meaning: Someone who loves staying up late and playing or reading.

Example: My best friend is a night owl; she always wants to have sleepovers and stay up late!

A slap on the wrist

Meaning: A little punishment for doing something small wrong.

Example: I got caught sneaking a cookie before dinner, but Mom just gave me a slap on the wrist!

Bite the bullet

Meaning: To do something difficult or unpleasant.

Example: I didn’t want to eat my vegetables, but I had to bite the bullet and finish them.

Cat’s pajamas

Meaning: Something excellent or outstanding.

Example: Wow, your drawing is the cat’s pajamas!

Monkey see, monkey do

Meaning: To imitate someone else’s actions.

Example: When Sophia started dancing, her little brother followed her, like monkey see, monkey do.

Let the cat out of the bag

Meaning: To reveal a secret.

Example: Oops, I let the cat out of the bag about the surprise party!

Chickens come home to roost

Meaning: To face the consequences of one’s actions.

Example: He didn’t do his homework, and now the chickens have come home to roost.

Until the cows come home

Meaning: For a very long time.

Example: You can play with your toys until the cows come home, but then it’s bedtime.

Apple of my eye

Meaning: Someone or something cherished above all others.

Example: My little sister is the apple of my eye.

Fit as a fiddle

Meaning: To be in good health.

Example: After playing outside all day, I feel as fit as a fiddle.

Birds of a feather flock together

Meaning: People with similar interests or characteristics tend to associate with one another.

Example: Olivia and I both love drawing, so we always sit together in art class. Birds of a feather flock together!

All ears

Meaning: Listening attentively.

Example: Tell me your story, I’m all ears!

Busy as a bee

Meaning: Very busy or industrious.

Example: Mom was busy as a bee in the kitchen, baking cookies for us.

Grin from ear to ear

Meaning: Smiling broadly.

Example: When I got an A on my test, I had a grin from ear to ear.

A piece of cake

Meaning: Something very easy to do.

Example: Riding a bike without training wheels is a piece of cake for me!

On cloud nine

Meaning: Feeling extremely happy or joyful.

Example: When I got a puppy for my birthday, I was on cloud nine!

Out of this world

Meaning: Something extraordinary or amazing.

Example: The fireworks display last night was out of this world!

Bursting at the seams

Meaning: Full to capacity or overflowing with excitement.

Example: The playground was bursting at the seams with children having fun.

Heart of gold

Meaning: Someone who is very kind and generous.

Example: My grandma has a heart of gold; she always helps everyone.

Head in the clouds

Meaning: Someone who is daydreaming or not paying attention.

Example: Tom’s head is in the clouds again; he forgot to do his homework.

Like two peas in a pod

Meaning: Very similar or closely related.

Example: Emily and I are like two peas in a pod; we both love playing soccer.

Speak of the devil

Meaning: Mentioning someone just as they appear.

Example: I was just talking about you, and here you are! Speak of the devil.

Butterflies in my stomach

Meaning: Feeling nervous or anxious.

Example: Before my first day of school, I had butterflies in my stomach.

Spin a yarn

Meaning: To tell a really long, fun, and interesting story.

Example: Grandma always spins a yarn about her adventures when she was little.

Born with a silver spoon in mouth

Meaning: Describes someone who has a lot of toys or things because they are very lucky.

Example: Sarah has so many toys; it’s like she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth.

A hot potato

Meaning: A controversial or difficult issue that is awkward to deal with or pass on to someone else.

Example: The decision of which game to play at recess was a real hot potato amongst us friends

Importance of Idioms for Kids

Idioms may appear as linguistic puzzles to children, requiring deciphering beyond literal meanings. However, as kids grow and engage with idiomatic expressions in everyday language, they develop a deeper understanding of figurative language and its cultural context. Mastering idiomatic expressions enhances children’s language skills by providing opportunities to explore figurative language and expand their vocabulary.

Idioms offer insights into cultural norms and societal values, fostering empathy and cultural awareness in children. Additionally, understanding idioms enables kids to communicate more effectively and creatively as they learn to convey complex ideas in succinct and colorful ways. Moreover, idioms play a crucial role in social interactions, helping children navigate various contexts with confidence and finesse.

Overall, idioms are essential components of language learning for kids, enriching their communication abilities and broadening their understanding of the world.