100+ Most Common Idioms In English (Phrases with Meanings)

Idioms are phrases that have a meaning not deducible from the individual words. Commonly used in everyday English, they add color and cultural richness to our language. These expressions often arise from historical or cultural contexts and can be challenging for those learning English to understand.

However, familiarizing oneself with these idioms is key to grasping the nuance and humor in English-speaking countries.

Here, we explore 50 common English idioms, providing their meanings and examples in context to help you understand and use them effectively in your daily conversations.

What is an Idiom?

Idiom Definition: An idiom is a phrase or an expression that has a figurative, or sometimes literal, meaning. These expressions are established in the usage of a language and are often peculiar to itself either grammatically, as in “long time no see,” or in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements, such as “raining cats and dogs” meaning it’s raining heavily. Idioms are frequently cultural and may be based on past history, literature, or practices unique to a particular community.

Common Idioms In English

  1. A Piece of Cake
    • Meaning: Very easy.
    • Example: The quiz was a piece of cake.
  2. Break the Ice
    • Meaning: Start a conversation.
    • Example: Her joke helped to break the ice.
  3. Bite the Bullet
    • Meaning: Endure a painful situation.
    • Example: He bit the bullet during the tough hike.
  4. Burn the Midnight Oil
    • Meaning: Work late.
    • Example: She’s burning the midnight oil for exams.
  5. Cost an Arm and a Leg
    • Meaning: Very costly.
    • Example: This watch cost an arm and a leg.
  6. Cry Over Spilt Milk
    • Meaning: Worry about past mistakes.
    • Example: No point crying over spilt milk now.
  7. Curiosity Killed the Cat
    • Meaning: Inquiry can lead to trouble.
    • Example: He learned that curiosity killed the cat.
  8. Cut to the Chase
    • Meaning: Get to the point.
    • Example: Let’s cut to the chase during meetings.
  9. Hit the Nail on the Head
    • Meaning: Be exactly right.
    • Example: Your analysis hit the nail on the head.
  10. Let the Cat Out of the Bag
    • Meaning: Reveal a secret.
    • Example: She let the cat out of the bag accidentally.
  11. Miss the Boat
    • Meaning: Lose an opportunity.
    • Example: He missed the boat on that deal.
  12. Once in a Blue Moon
    • Meaning: Rarely.
    • Example: I travel once in a blue moon.
  13. Piece of the Pie
    • Meaning: A share.
    • Example: I want a piece of the pie too.
  14. Sit on the Fence
    • Meaning: Be indecisive.
    • Example: Stop sitting on the fence.
  15. Spill the Beans
    • Meaning: Reveal information.
    • Example: He spilled the beans about the party.
  16. Take with a Grain of Salt
    • Meaning: Be skeptical.
    • Example: Take his advice with a grain of salt.
  17. Throw in the Towel
    • Meaning: Give up.
    • Example: I’m ready to throw in the towel.
  18. Under the Weather
    • Meaning: Feel ill.
    • Example: She’s a bit under the weather.
  19. When Pigs Fly
    • Meaning: Never.
    • Example: He’ll tidy his room when pigs fly.
  20. You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover
    • Meaning: Looks can be deceiving.
    • Example: Don’t judge a book by its cover.
  21. Barking Up the Wrong Tree
    • Meaning: Misguided.
    • Example: He was barking up the wrong tree.
  22. Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
    • Meaning: Overestimate ability.
    • Example: She bit off more than she could chew.
  23. Hit the Sack
    • Meaning: Go to bed.
    • Example: Time to hit the sack.
  24. Jump on the Bandwagon
    • Meaning: Follow the trend.
    • Example: He jumped on the bandwagon.
  25. Kill Two Birds with One Stone
    • Meaning: Achieve two goals at once.
    • Example: She killed two birds with one stone.
  26. Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
    • Meaning: Avoid disturbing a situation.
    • Example: Best to let sleeping dogs lie.
  27. On Cloud Nine
    • Meaning: Extremely happy.
    • Example: She’s on cloud nine today.
  28. Pull Someone’s Leg
    • Meaning: Joke with someone.
    • Example: I’m just pulling your leg.
  29. See Eye to Eye
    • Meaning: Agree.
    • Example: We don’t see eye to eye.
  30. Steal Someone’s Thunder
    • Meaning: Outshine.
    • Example: He stole my thunder at the meeting.
  31. The Ball is in Your Court
    • Meaning: Your decision.
    • Example: The ball is in your court now.
  32. Throw Caution to the Wind
    • Meaning: Take a risk.
    • Example: Let’s throw caution to the wind.
  33. Up in the Air
    • Meaning: Uncertain.
    • Example: Plans are still up in the air.
  34. Add Fuel to the Fire
    • Meaning: Worsen a situation.
    • Example: Don’t add fuel to the fire.
  35. At the Drop of a Hat
    • Meaning: Without any hesitation.
    • Example: Ready at the drop of a hat.
  36. Back to Square One
    • Meaning: Start over.
    • Example: We’re back to square one.
  37. Beat Around the Bush
    • Meaning: Avoid direct topic.
    • Example: Stop beating around the bush.
  38. Bite the Dust
    • Meaning: Fail or collapse.
    • Example: His plans bit the dust.
  39. Break a Leg
    • Meaning: Good luck.
    • Example: Break a leg at the audition!
  40. Catch Someone’s Eye
    • Meaning: Attract attention.
    • Example: That painting caught my eye.
  41. Hit the Road
    • Meaning: Begin a journey.
    • Example: Time to hit the road.
  42. In a Nutshell
    • Meaning: Simply put.
    • Example: In a nutshell, it’s complicated.
  43. Out of the Blue
    • Meaning: Unexpectedly.
    • Example: It happened out of the blue.
  44. Speak of the Devil
    • Meaning: Person arrives when mentioned.
    • Example: Speak of the devil, here he is!
  45. Take the Bull by the Horns
    • Meaning: Face a challenge directly.
    • Example: He took the bull by the horns.
  46. The Last Straw
    • Meaning: Final tolerance limit.
    • Example: That was the last straw.
  47. Under the Gun
    • Meaning: Under pressure.
    • Example: We’re under the gun to finish.
  48. Walk on Eggshells
    • Meaning: Be extremely cautious.
    • Example: I’m walking on eggshells around him.
  49. Wet Behind the Ears
    • Meaning: Inexperienced.
    • Example: He’s still wet behind the ears.
  50. Your Guess is as Good as Mine
    • Meaning: Unsure.
    • Example: Your guess is as good as mine.

Must Learn:

List of Idioms

List of Phrasal Verbs

Idiomatic Expressions

  1. Apple of My Eye
    • Meaning: Someone very cherished.
    • Example: My youngest daughter is the apple of my eye.
  2. Bite the Hand That Feeds
    • Meaning: Harm a benefactor.
    • Example: Criticizing your team publicly is like biting the hand that feeds you.
  3. Cold Feet
    • Meaning: Nervousness before an event.
    • Example: He got cold feet before the wedding.
  4. Down to Earth
    • Meaning: Practical and realistic.
    • Example: Despite her fame, she’s very down to earth.
  5. Elbow Grease
    • Meaning: Hard physical effort.
    • Example: With a little elbow grease, we can get this car fixed.
  6. Full Plate
    • Meaning: Very busy with tasks.
    • Example: I can’t take on another project; my plate is full.
  7. Go the Extra Mile
    • Meaning: Do more than expected.
    • Example: She always goes the extra mile for her clients.
  8. Hit the Books
    • Meaning: Start studying.
    • Example: It’s exam week, time to hit the books.
  9. In Hot Water
    • Meaning: In trouble or difficulty.
    • Example: He found himself in hot water after missing the deadline.
  10. Jump the Gun
    • Meaning: Act too hastily.
    • Example: He jumped the gun and announced it before it was finalized.
  11. Keep Your Chin Up
    • Meaning: Remain cheerful in a tough situation.
    • Example: Even during hard times, she kept her chin up.
  12. Lose Your Touch
    • Meaning: Not as good as before.
    • Example: Since retiring, he feels he’s lost his touch in business.
  13. Miss the Mark
    • Meaning: Fail to reach a target.
    • Example: The new product missed the mark with consumers.
  14. Not My Cup of Tea
    • Meaning: Not to one’s liking.
    • Example: Horror movies are not my cup of tea.
  15. Off the Record
    • Meaning: Not officially documented.
    • Example: The information he shared was strictly off the record.
  16. Play It by Ear
    • Meaning: Improvise as you go.
    • Example: We don’t have a plan; let’s play it by ear.
  17. Quick on the Draw
    • Meaning: Reacting quickly.
    • Example: In debates, she’s quick on the draw with responses.
  18. Read Between the Lines
    • Meaning: Perceive hidden meanings.
    • Example: To understand his intent, you need to read between the lines.
  19. Spill the Tea
    • Meaning: Share gossip or secrets.
    • Example: Come on, spill the tea about the party!
  20. Turn a Blind Eye
    • Meaning: Ignore deliberately.
    • Example: The manager turned a blind eye to the office misconduct.

Idioms and Phrases in English With Meanings and sentences Idioms and Phrases in English With Meanings and sentences (2)

Idioms and Phrases in English With Meanings and sentences (3) Idioms and Phrases in English With Meanings and sentences (4) Idioms and Phrases in English With Meanings and sentences (5)

Phrases with Meanings and Examples

  1. Against the Grain
    • Meaning: Contrary to normal.
    • Example: He often acts against the grain.
  2. Back to the Drawing Board
    • Meaning: Start over.
    • Example: Failed the test, back to the drawing board.
  3. Catch-22
    • Meaning: No-win situation.
    • Example: Need experience for work, but work for experience – it’s a Catch-22.
  4. Cut Corners
    • Meaning: Do something poorly to save time or money.
    • Example: Cutting corners will reduce quality.
  5. Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch
    • Meaning: Don’t assume success too early.
    • Example: Wait for the results, don’t count your chickens yet.
  6. Easier Said Than Done
    • Meaning: Harder to actually do.
    • Example: Losing weight is easier said than done.
  7. Face the Music
    • Meaning: Confront the consequences.
    • Example: He must face the music for his errors.
  8. Get Your Act Together
    • Meaning: Organize yourself effectively.
    • Example: You need to get your act together.
  9. Hold Your Horses
    • Meaning: Wait or slow down.
    • Example: Hold your horses, think this through.
  10. In the Red
    • Meaning: Losing money.
    • Example: Our company is in the red this quarter.
  11. Jump the Shark
    • Meaning: Quality decline.
    • Example: The show jumped the shark last season.
  12. Kick the Bucket
    • Meaning: To die.
    • Example: My old car finally kicked the bucket.
  13. Last Straw
    • Meaning: Final limit.
    • Example: This mistake was the last straw.
  14. Make Ends Meet
    • Meaning: Barely manage financially.
    • Example: It’s hard to make ends meet these days.
  15. No Brainer
    • Meaning: Obvious choice.
    • Example: Taking the job was a no brainer.
  16. Out of the Woods
    • Meaning: Past danger or difficulty.
    • Example: We’re not out of the woods yet.
  17. Put the Cart Before the Horse
    • Meaning: Do things in the wrong order.
    • Example: You’re putting the cart before the horse.
  18. Rain on Someone’s Parade
    • Meaning: Spoil someone’s pleasure.
    • Example: I don’t want to rain on your parade.
  19. Steal the Show
    • Meaning: Attract most attention.
    • Example: She stole the show at the gala.
  20. The Tip of the Iceberg
    • Meaning: Small part of a larger issue.
    • Example: This problem is just the tip of the iceberg.


Idioms and Phrases in English With Meanings and sentences (6) Idioms and Phrases in English With Meanings and sentences (7) Idioms and Phrases in English With Meanings and sentences (8) Idioms and Phrases in English With Meanings and sentences (9)

Download PDF

You can Get PDF of the idioms and phrases in English with meanings and sentences.


3 thoughts on “100+ Most Common Idioms In English (Phrases with Meanings)”

  1. Thanks a lot for your sharing. Now my job as an English teacher is ‘how to teach to my students so that they can grasp and understand when to use them’…

  2. I want Learn English, because I like it so much, in addition I going to be a public teacher in my town, but before it, I need to aplay The contest that it going to be so far. Please share with me differents material that you think are going to help me be a good teacher, thanks.


Leave a Comment