Guest Posting: 102 Common English Idioms

Michelle Tran is an ESL English teacher. Her Basic English Speaking website lists common English phrases, expressions, basic grammar and more. This list of 102 common English idioms with meaning and examples is reprinted here with her express permission.

102 Common English Idioms with Meaning and Examples, by Michelle Tran

Say you’re in a conversation with your native American friends. Sometimes, during the conversation, you ask yourself, “What the heck is going on?” Even though you are translating every single word to your mother tongue, you have no idea what your friends are talking about.

Well, you know what?

The reason you find it hard to understand native speakers is because they usually use idioms in their daily communication.

What is an idiom?

It’s “a group of words whose meaning is different from the meaning of every single word.” For example, “a piece of cake” doesn’t literally mean a sweet; instead, it means “easy.” How interesting!

Why idioms?

The fact that you know 3,000 English words doesn’t mean you can understand every single idiom. That’s to say knowing single words will not help you interpret the meaning of the entire phrase. What you can do is put serious effort into it.

What’s more, if you master English idioms, you will sound like a native speaker. Idiomatic expressions which make conversations sound more natural are commonly used by native speakers every day.

In this lesson series, we will introduce you to 102 common English idioms. Each is written with an idiom definition, 3 idiom examples, and audio recordings. That way, you will know what the idiom means and how to use it in a conversation.

It’s time to say goodbye to boring textbooks and start learning something really useful for your English communication.

Idioms about Money and Finance

A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned
Beyond One’s Means
Someone’s Bread And Butter
Cut One’s Losses
Down-And-Out
Dutch Treat/ Go Dutch
Money Talks
Bring Home The Bacon
At All Costs
To Earn A Living
Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees
Pour Money Down The Drain
Born With A Silver Spoon In Your Mouth

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Idioms about Love

Love At First Sight
Match Made In Heaven
To Have A Crush On Someone
To Love With All Your Heart And Soul
To Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve
To Fall Head Over Heels In Love
To Tie The Knot
To Be The Apple Of My Eye

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Idioms about Happiness and Sadness

On Cloud Nine
To Make Your Day
Not The End Of The World
Feeling Blue/To Have The Blues
Face Like A Wet Weekend
Get A (Real) Kick Out Of Something
On Top Of The World
In Seventh Heaven
Over The Moon
Having A Whale Of A Time
Let One’s Hair Down

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Idioms about Health

Ill At Ease
Breathe One’s Last
Catch A Cold
Fall Ill
At Death’s Door
Nothing But Skin And Bones
Safe And Sound
Get A Black Eye
Recharge One’s Batteries
Under The Weather
You Are What You Eat.
As Pale As A Ghost

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Idioms about Travel

Off The Beaten Track
To Make Your Way Back
Hustle And Bustle
To Live Out Of A Suitcase
Travel Broadens The Mind
Hit The Road
Break The Journey
Have/ Get/ Give Someone Itchy Feet
A Thirst For Adventure

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Idioms about Work

Get Your Feet Under The Table
Go The Extra Mile
Put Your Feet Up
Be In Someone’s Good (Or Bad) Books
Give Someone The Sack
To Call It A Day
Work Like A Dog
All In A Day’s Work
Work Your Fingers To The Bone

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Idioms about Friendship

Lend Your Money. Lose Your Friend
A Friend In Need Is A Friend Indeed
To See Eye To Eye With Someone
To Get On Like A House On Fire
To Know Someone Inside Out
To Speak The Same Language

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Idioms about Dreams

Beyond Your Wildest Dreams
Daydream About Someone Or Something
In (One’s) Dreams
A Dream Come True
To Keep Someone’s Feet On The Ground
To Bring Someone Back Down To Earth
Broken Dreams

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Idioms about Time

Nine-To-Five Job
At The Eleventh Hour
Like Clockwork
Time Flies
Better Late Than Never
In The Long Run
Beat The Clock
Make Up For Lost Time

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Idioms about Decisions

Take It Or Leave It
Sit On The Fence
To Take A Back Seat
A Bird In The Hand Is Worth Two In The Bush
My Way Or The Highway
Weigh The Pros And Cons

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Other idioms

To Sleep On It
Know Someone Like The Back Of Your Hand
As Easy As Pie/ A Piece Of Cake
Take It Easy
To Get The Ball Rolling
Twenty-Four/Seven (24/7)
Once And For All
To Make The Best Of
Day In And Day Out (Day After Day, For Longer Periods Of Time, Year In And Year Out, Year After Year)
To Keep One’s Word
To Give (Someone) A Hand
To Be In (Someone’s) Shoes
None Of Your Business

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