An idiom is a common word or phrase with a culturally different meaning of compound word names. For example, an anglophone will understand that the term “Kick the Bucket” means “dying” – and should also kick a bucket. Moreover, they would understand when each meaning is used in the context. A sentence should not be confused with other language figures such as a metaphor calling an image by implicit comparisons (for example, “the man of steel“); a parable that calls an image through explicit comparisons (for example, “faster than a fastball“); or hyperbole exaggerating an image beyond truthfulness (eg, “missed by a mile“). Idioms should not be confused with simple spells that express a truth based on common sense or practical experience.

A sentence is a sentence in which the words together have a different meaning than the dictionary definitions of individual words. In another definition, an idiom is a linguistic form or an expression of a grammatically specific grammatical language or can not be understood from the individual meanings of its elements. English learners generally have trouble understanding the true meaning of an idiom without an idiomatic dictionary. English has thousands of idioms, most of which are informal.

Notable Idioms In English
Idiom Definition/Translation
A bitter pill A situation or information that is unpleasant but must be accepted.
A hot potato A controversial issue or situation that is awkward or unpleasant to deal with.
A dime a dozen (US) Anything that is common, inexpensive, and easy to get or available anywhere.
Ace in the hole A hidden or secret strength, or unrevealed advantage.
Achilles’ heel A metaphor for a fatal weakness in spite of overall strength.
All ears Listening intently; fully focused or awaiting an explanation.
All thumbs Clumsy, awkward.
An arm and a leg Very expensive or costly. A large amount of money.
Apple of discord Anything causing trouble, discord, or jealousy.
At the drop of a hat Without any hesitation; instantly.
Back to the drawing board When an attempt fails, and it’s time to start planning all over again.
Ball is in his/her/your court It is up to him/her/you to make the next decision or step.
Balls to the wall! Full throttle; at maximum speed.
Barking up the wrong tree Looking in the wrong place.
Basket case One made powerless or ineffective, as by nerves, panic, or stress.
Beating a dead horse To uselessly dwell on a subject far beyond its point of resolution.
Beat around the bush To treat a topic, but omit its main points, often intentionally or to delay or avoid talking about something difficult or unpleasant.
Bed of roses Easy and comfortable.
Bird Brain a person that is not too smart; a person that acts stupid
Bite off more than one can chew To take on more responsibility than one can manage.
Bite the bullet To endure a painful or unpleasant situation that is unavoidable.
Bite the dust Euphemism for dying or death.
Bought the farm Euphemism for dying or death.
Break a leg A saying from the theatre that means “good luck”.
Burn the midnight oil To work late into the night, alluding to the time before electric lighting.
Bust one’s chops To exert oneself.
By the seat of one’s pants To achieve through instinct or do something without advance preparation.
By the skin of one’s teeth Narrowly; barely. Usually used in regard to a narrow escape from a disaster.
Call a spade a spade To speak the truth, even to the point of being blunt and rude.
Call it a day To declare the end of a task.
Cat nap A nap.
Champ at the bit or Chomp at the bit To show impatience or frustration when delayed.
Cheap as chips Inexpensive or good value
Chew the fat To chat idly or generally waste time talking.
Chink in one’s armor An area of vulnerability
Clam up To become silent; to stop talking.
Cold shoulder To display aloofness and disdain.
Couch potato A lazy person.
Crocodile tears Fake tears or drama tears. (In fake crying)
Cut off your nose to spite your face Pursuing revenge in a way that would damage oneself more than the object of one’s anger
Cut a rug To dance
Cut the cheese (US) To fart.
Cut the mustard To perform well; to meet expectations.
Dig one’s heels in On genuine objection to some process or action or motion, actually to stop or oppose it strongly.
Don’t count chickens before they hatch Don’t make plans for something that may not happen; alternatively, don’t make an assumption about something that does not have a definitively predetermined outcome.
Don’t have a cow Don’t overreact.
Drop a dime(US) Make a telephone call; to be an informant.
Elephant in the room An obvious, pressing issue left unaddressed due to its sensitive nature.
Fit as a fiddle In good physical health.
For a song Almost free. Very cheap.
Fly in the ointment The one tiny drawback that ruins it.
From A to Z Covering a complete range; comprehensively.
From scratch / to make from scratch Make from original ingredients; start from the beginning with no prior preparation
He/She is a sandwich short of a picnic The person is lacking intelligence
Get bent out of shape To take offense; to get worked up, aggravated, or annoyed
Get your goat To irritate someone.
Grasp the nettle To tackle a problem in a bold manner, despite the difficulty or complexity of doing so; sometimes refers to solving a problem despite short-term adverse consequences.
Have a blast To have a good time or to enjoy oneself.
Have eyes in the back of one’s head Someone can perceive things and events that are outside of their field of vision.
Head over heels Besmitten, infatuated.
Heard it through the grapevine You learned something through means of a rumor.
Hit the ceiling To become enraged, possibly in an overreaction.
Hit The Nail On The Head 1. To describe exactly what is causing a situation or problem; 2. To do exactly the right thing; 3.To do something in the most effective and efficient way; 4. To say exactly the right thing or to find the exact answer; 5.To be accurate or correct about something. Often abbreviated as HTNOTH all over the web
Hit the road To leave.
Hit the sack/sheets/hay To go to bed to sleep.
Hit the spot To be particularly pleasing or appropriate; to be just right.
Hook, line and sinker To be completely fooled by a deception.
Ignorance is bliss Life is good when you’re naive to the hardships happening all around
Jump ship Leave a job, organization, or activity suddenly.
Just my two cents (US) Just the information I have on the subject.
Kick the bucket Euphemism for dying or death.
Kick the habit Stop engaging in a habitual practice.
Kill two birds with one stone To accomplish two different tasks at the same time and/or with a single action.
Let the cat out of the bag To reveal a secret.
Look a gift horse in the mouth To find fault with something that has been received as a gift or favor
Method to (one’s) madness Despite someone’s random approach, there is actually some structure to it.
Nip (something) in the bud To stop something at an early stage.
No horse in this race No vested interest in the outcome of a particular contest or debate
Off one’s trolley or
Off one’s rocker
Crazy, demented, out of one’s mind, in a confused or befuddled state of mind, senile.
Off the hook To escape a situation of responsibility, obligation, or (less frequently) danger.
Once in a blue moon Something that occurs very rarely.
Own goal To do something accidentally negative against yourself or your own team.
Pop one’s clogs (UK) Euphemism for dying or death.
the pot calling the kettle black Used when someone making an accusation is equally as guilty as those being accused.
Piece of cake A job, task or other activity that is pleasant – or, by extension, easy or simple.
Preaching to the choir To present a side of a discussion or argument to someone who already agrees with it; essentially, wasting your time.
Pull somebody’s leg To tease or to joke by telling a lie.
Pushing up daisies Euphemism for dying or death.
Put the cat among the pigeons To create a disturbance and cause trouble.
Raining cats and dogs Raining really strong or hard.
Right as rain Needed, appropriate, essential, or hoped-for and has come to mean perfect, well, absolutely right.
Rock the boat Do or say something that will upset people or cause problems.
Shoot the breeze To chat idly or generally waste time talking.
Shooting fish in a barrel Frivolously performing a simple task.
Step up to the plate To deliver beyond expectations.
Screw the pooch To screw up; to fail in dramatic and ignominious fashion.
Sleep with the fishes Euphemism for dying or death.
Spill the beans Reveal someone’s secret.
Spin one’s wheels Expel much effort for little or no gain.
Straw that broke the camel’s back Last in a line of unacceptable occurrences.
Take the biscuit (UK) To be particularly bad, objectionable, or egregious.
Take the cake(US) To be especially good or outstanding.
Take with a grain of salt To not take what someone says too seriously; to treat someone’s words with a degree of scepticism.
Throw under the bus To betray or sacrifice someone for selfish reasons.
Through thick and thin In both good and bad times.
Thumb one’s nose To express scorn or to disregard.
Tie one on To get drunk.
To steal someone’s thunder To take credit for something someone else did.
Trip the light fantastic To dance
Two a penny Cheap or common
Under my thumb Under my control
Under the weather Feel sick or poorly
The whole nine yards Everything. All of it.
Wild goose chase A frustrating or lengthy undertaking that accomplishes little.
He/She/They hold(s) the cards He/She/They controls the situation.
You can say that again That is very true; expression of wholehearted agreement

Horn of dilemma: not being able to decide which of two things to do, because both could have bad results.

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