Idioms:

Idioms are a key part of upper-intermediate (B2) and advanced (C1) language use. You should always learn idioms and expressions with the START method to consolidate them.

 

We have put the idioms into alphabetical order to make them easier to use as a source of reference:

 

Try putting them into a sentence and using them in REAL CONVERSATIONS on our platform.

  • A drop in the ocean – A SMALL AMOUNT
  • Actions speak louder than words – IT IS NOT WHAT YOU SAY, BUT WHAT YOU DO THAT COUNTS
  • Add insult to injury – TO MAKE A BAD SITUATION EVEN WORSE
  • All in good time – TO WAIT
  • Around the corner – TO BE VERY SOON
  • At the drop of a hat – IMMEDIATELY
  • Bark up the wrong tree – TO GET THE WRONG PERSON OR WRONG IDEA
  • Line one´s pockets – EARN LOTS OF MONEY
  • Be a big fish – TO BE AN IMPORTANT PERSON
  • Be a bundle of nerves – BE NERVOUS OR ANXIOUS
  • Be a busy body – TO BE NOSY/ TO GOSSIP ABOUT SOMETHING
  • Be a cheapskate – TO BE TIGHT/NOT LIKE SPENDING MONEY
  • Be a couch potato – BE LAZY
  • Be a drop in the ocean – A SMALL AMOUNT
  • Be a globetrotter – BE A TRAVELLER OR ENJOY TRAVELLING
  • Be a go-getter – TO BE AMBITIOUS
  • Be a know it all – TO THINK YOU KNOW EVERYTHING
  • Be a long shot – BE UNREALISTIC
  • Be a people person – TO BE SOCIABLE
  • Be a piece of cake – TO BE EASY
  • Be all ears – LISTEN ATTENTIVELY
  • Be as easy as pie – TO BE VERY EASY
  • Be ahead of the pack – TO BE BETTER THAN OTHER PEOPLE
  • Be an act of God – DUE TO NATURAL FORCES SUCH AS THE WEATHER
  • Be an item – TO BE A COUPLE
  • Be at a loose end – HAVE NOTHING TO DO
  • Be bucketing it down – TO RAIN A LOT
  • Be down to earth – BE HUMBLE OR REALISTIC
  • Be for the time being – TO BE FOR NOW/IN THE MEANTIME
  • Be in the clouds – TO BECOME DISTRACTED
  • Be in the nick of time – BE JUST IN TIME
  • Be in the same boat – BE IN THE SAME SITUATION AS SOMEONE ELSE
  • Be like two peas in a pod – TWO PEOPLE WHO LOOK OR BEHAVE THE SAME
  • Be on cloud nine – TO BE VERY HAPPY
  • Be on good terms – TO HAVE A GOOD RELATIONSHIP AFTER A DIFFICULT TIME
  • Be on the dole – TO BE UNEMPLOYED
  • Be on the mark – TO BE CORRECT
  • Be on the same wavelength – TO UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER
  • Be one’s bread and butter – THE ONLY SOURCE OF INCOME
  • Be out of the blue – SOMETHING UNEXPECTED
  • Be over the moon – TO BE VERY HAPPY
  • Be pinching pennies – TO NOT HAVE A LOT OF MONEY
  • Be skint – TO NOT HAVE A LOT OF MONEY
  • Be tough to swallow – TO BE A DIFFICULT SITUATION TO ACCEPT
  • Be under someone’s thumb – BE CONTROLLED BY SOMEONE ELSE
  • Be what the doctor ordered – BE WHAT SOMEONE IS IN NEED OF
  • Be your flesh and blood – BE RELATED TO YOU/TO BE IN YOUR FAMILY
  • Before your time – TO BE TOO SOON
  • Best of both worlds – ENJOY TWO OPPORTUNITIES AT THE SAME TIME
  • Bird’s eye view – VIEW FROM DIRECTLY ABOVE
  • Blow a fuse – TO BECOME FURIOUS
  • Break even – NO PROFIT BUT NO LOSS EITHER
  • Bury your head in the sand – IGNORE A SITUATION
  • Come on leaps and bounds – IMPROVE
  • Come rain or shine – NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS
  • Copy cat – TO DO THE SAME AS SOMEONE ELSE
  • Cover all the bases – TO DO A BIT OF EVERYTHING
  • Cry over spilt milk – COMPLAIN ABOUT SOMETHING THAT ISN´T IMPORTANT
  • Curiosity killed the cat – TO BE CURIOUS AND GET INTO TROUBLE
  • Drive (SB) up the wall – ANNOY SOMEONE
  • Face the facts – TO ACCEPT A REALITY
  • Fall short – NOT BE ENOUGH
  • Feel under the weather – FEEL ILL
  • Fly the nest – LEAVE HOME
  • For good – PERMANENTLY
  • Foot the bill – TO PAY FOR EVERYTHING
  • Gain the upper hand – TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOMETHING
  • Go halves/50-50 – TO MEET HALFWAY
  • Get on like a house on fire – TO HAVE A REALLY GOOD RELATIONSHIP
  • Get one’s fingers burnt – HAVE A BAD EXPERIENCE WITH SOMETHING
  • Get your heart pumping – TO BECOME ACTIVE
  • Give someone a hand with sth – TO HELP WITH SOMETHING
  • Give someone a taste of – SHOW SOMEONE A GLIMPSE OF SOMETHING
  • Give someone a taste of their own medicine – TREAT SOMEONE IN A BAD WAY
  • Give the green light – TO GIVE PERMISSION
  • Go with the flow – GO ALONG WITH
  • Grin and bear it – ACCEPT A DIFFICULT SITUATION
  • Have a cat nap – TO SLEEP FOR A SHORT TIME
  • Have a whale of a time – HAVE A GREAT TIME
  • Have an eye for – TO BE ABLE TO FIND CERTAIN THINGS WELL
  • Have butterflies in your stomach – TO BECOME NERVOUS
  • Have green fingers – BE GOOD AT GROWING PLANTS AND FLOWERS
  • Have itchy feet – WANT TO MOVE OR TAKE ACTION
  • Have the gift of the gab – TO BE CONVINCING
  • Heart in one’s mouth – BE VERY FRIGHTENED
  • Heart miss a beat – SUDDEN FEELING OF FEAR
  • Hit the books – TO STUDY A LOT
  • Hit the road – START A JOURNEY
  • Hit the roof – GET ANNOYED
  • Hold one’s breath – WAIT FOR SOMETHING
  • In a flash – TO DO SOMETHING FAST
  • In donkey’s years – SINCE A LONG TIME AGO
  • In the nick of time – TO BE JUST IN TIME
  • Jump for joy – TO BE EXCITED
  • Keep a straight face – TO REMAIN SERIOUS
  • Keep an eye on someone – TO OBSERVE SOMETHING
  • Keep your hair on – TO REMAIN CALM
  • Kill two birds with one stone – DO TWO THINGS IN ONE ACTION
  • Know where your bread is buttered – KNOW WHERE YOUR MONEY COMES FROM
  • Let off steam – UNWIND
  • Let off the hook – ESCAPE WITHOUT PUNISHMENT
  • Let the cat out of the bag – TO REVEAL A SECRET
  • Line your pockets – TO EARN A LOT OF MONEY (FOR YOURSELF)
  • Lose track of time – TO NOT KNOW THE TIME
  • Make something tick – TO MAKE SOMETHING FUNCTION WELL
  • Make your blood run cold – BE EXTREMELY SCARED
  • Never look a gift horse in the mouth – NOT COMPLAIN ABOUT SOMETHING FREE
  • Not be someone’s cup of tea – TO DISLIKE
  • Not judge a book by its cover – APPEARANCES CAN BE DECEIVING
  • Once in a blue moon – TO DO SOMETHING RARELY
  • On the spur of the moment – SUDDENLY
  • Pig out – TO EAT A LOT
  • Pull a few strings – TO USE YOUR INFLUENCE TO YOUR OWN ADVANTAGE
  • Pull an all nighter – TO WORK ALL NIGHT
  • Pull the plug – TO GIVE UP OR STOP DOING SOMETHING
  • Pull (someone’s) leg – TO LIE TO SOMEONE
  • Push up the daisies – BE DEAD
  • Push yourself – TO MAKE AN EFFORT
  • Put your feet up – RELAX
  • Rain cats and dogs – TO RAIN A LOT
  • Risk life and limb – TO TAKE A HUGE RISK
  • See eye to eye – TO AGREE
  • Six of one, half a dozen of the other – TO BE EQUALLY GOOD OR BAD
  • Smell a rat – TO SENSE SOMETHING IS WRONG
  • Smell something fishy – TO BE SUSPICIOUS
  • Spill the beans – TO REVEAL/TELL A SECRET
  • Suffer a culture shock – TO BE ANXIOUS WHEN IN AN ALIEN CULTURE
  • Surf the net – USE THE INTERNET
  • Take five – TAKE A BREAK
  • Take sth in one’s stride – ACCEPT SOMETHING FOR WHAT IT IS
  • Take the biscuit – TO BE OUT OF ORDER/UNREASONABLE
  • Take two to tango – YOU NEED TO COLLABORATE
  • Take with a pinch of salt – NOT TAKE SOMETHING SERIOUSLY
  • The powers to be – THE PEOPLE IN CONTROL
  • Tie the knot – TO GET MARRIED
  • Touch wood – TO TRY AND HAVE GOOD LUCK
  • Turn a blind eye – TO NOT TAKE NOTICE OF SOMETHING
  • When pigs fly – TO RULE SOMETHING OUT/NEVER
  • With flying colours – TO DO SOMETHING WELL
  • Work around the clock – TO WORK LONG HOURS
  • Work like a dog – TO WORK HARD
  • Work 9-5 OR Work 24/7 – TO WORK LONG HOURS

Download in PDF HERE

Recent Posts
0