The 60 Most Useful Idioms in English

An Idiom is a group of words in a fixed order that have a particular meaning that is different from the meanings of each word on its own so you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the meaning and usage of each idiom.

For Example:

  • The grass is always greener on the other side.
  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
  • Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
  • Curiosity killed the cat.
  • Back to the drawing board.

There are many idioms and you don’t have to know them all so try to learn the ones that are used frequently.

You can check for idioms in the stuff that you read and in the shows that you watch since learning vocabulary in context is way more effective that learning vocabulary without it .

Why is learning Idioms so Important?

Learning idioms in English is very important for several reasons:

  • If you really want to learn English, you won’t miss the opportunity to incorporate a repertoire of expressions into your vocabulary.
  • English native speakers use idioms in their daily life so you must be ready to recognize in conversations and understand what they mean.
  • Idioms add spice and interest to your speech and writing.  They make you sound more like a native speaker. 

How do Idioms Develop?

The vast majority of idioms are based on metaphors. Every once in a while, someone comes up with a good metaphor that describes a thought or concept in a way that declarative words cannot, normally because it triggers an emotional response.

Other idioms are derived from more specific areas of experience such as sport, war, or cooking.

Some of these domains may no longer be common in present-day life, but if we learn the original context in which the idiom was used and if we understand the image it is based on, we will find it is easier to understand

The 60 Most Useful Idioms in English

These are the Most Useful idioms in English with their meaning.

1.Beat around the bush: It is used when you avoid the main topic.

2.Cry over spilt milk: It is used when you complain about a loss from the past.

3.Take with a grain of salt: It is usedwhen you don’t take what someone says too seriously.

4. Cut Corners:  It is used when you do something bad to save money

5. Devil’s Advocate: It is usedwhen you present a counter argument

6. The Best of Both Worlds:  It is usedwhen you can enjoy two different opportunities at the same time.

7. Speak of the devil: It is used when you are speaking about somebody and that person turns up at the moment.

8. Once in a blue moon: It is usedwhenan event doesn’t happen too often

9. When Pigs fly: It is used when something will never happen.

10. To cost an arm and a leg: It is used when something is very expensive

11. A piece of Cake: It is used when something is really easy.

12. To feel under the weather: It is used when you don’t feel well.

13. Break a leg: It is used when you wanna wish somebody luck.

14. Cut somebody some slack: When you want somebody not to be so critical of another person.

15. Get out of hand: When something goes out of control.

16. Hang it there: Something you say when you don’t want somebody to give u

17. It is not Rocket Science:  Something you say to mean that a  topic is not complicated.

18. Make a long story short: When you wanna tell a story briefly.

19. Miss the Boat:  It is used when it is too late to take an opportunity

20. No Pain, No Gain:  it means that you have to work hard for what you want

21. That’s the last straw: When something runs out your patience.

22. A Blessing In Disguise: Something good that isn’t recognized at first.

23. Add Fuel To The Fire: When  somebody’s words make the situation worse

24. To be in the same Boat: To be in the same unpleasant situation as other people.

25. Back To The Drawing Board: Back to the beginning of a process to start it again, because it is not working

26. Barking Up The Wrong Tree: Trying to do something in a way that will not work

27. Bite your Own Tongue: To stop yourself from saying something that you would really like to say.

28. Cute to the Chase: To talk about or deal with the important parts of a subject and not waste time with things that are not important.

29. Drop Like Flies: If people are dropping like flies, they are dying or falling down in large numbers

30. Excuse My French: Said when you are pretending to be sorry for using a word that may be considered offensive.

31. Flip The Bird:  To raise your middle finger at someone

32. From Rags to Riches: Used to describe what happens to a person who was poor but becomes rich.

33. Go For Broke:  To gamble everything you have.

34. Hit The Books:  To study, especially for a test or exam.

35. Hit The Sack:  Go to bed or go to sleep

36. Hold Your Horses:  Be patient.

37. In The Heat Of The Moment: Overwhelmed by what is happening in the moment.

38. It takes two to Tango: Any activity needs two people who are willing to take part for it to happen

39. Kick the Bucket: To die

40. Knock on Wood:  It is said in order to avoid bad luck

41. Loose Cannon: Someone who is unpredictable and can cause damage if not kept in check.

42. Make No Bones About:  To state a fact so there are no doubts or objections.

43 . Off The Hook:  No longer have to deal with a tough situation.

44. Off the Record: Something said in confidence that the one speaking doesn’t want attributed to him/her.

45. On the Same Page: To understand and agree with what is being done or suggested

46. On The Fence:  When you are undecided

47. Out Of The Blue:  Something that suddenly and unexpectedly occurs.

48. Raining Cats and Dogs:  A very loud and noisy rain storm.

49. Scapegoat: Someone else who takes the blame.

50. Smell A Rat: To believe that something dishonest, illegal, or wrong has happened

51. Start From Scratch: From the beginning again, not using all the work that you have done before

52. Tie the knot: To get married

53. Rise and Shine:  Said to tell someone to wakeup and get out of bed

54.  Let the cat out of the bag: It means to disclose a secret that was supposed to be kept secret.

55. You can’t judge a book by its cover: it means that you don’t have to make decisions based on appearances.

56. To stab someone in the back: It  means to hurt someone who was close to us and trusted us

57. Up in the Air: It means that something is uncertain and unsure

58. To Lose your Touch: When you lose your ability or talent

59. Ring a Bell: It  means that somebody has mentioned something that sounds familiar to you

60. To Be on the Ball: To be very prepared for something or react quickly (and correctly) to a situation.

60. Take a Chill Pill: It is a way of telling someone to calm down.

61. Your Guess is as good as mine: It is way of telling that you don’t have any idea.

62: Bite the Bullet: To get something over with because it is inevitable

63. Call it a Day: This means stop working on something

Video: Most Common English Idioms

Learn the 100 most common English idioms in just 30 minutes, with examples and focus on use and pronunciation

This is a high-quality teaching video, I hope you enjoy it

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Manuel Campos, English Professor

Manuel Campos

I am Jose Manuel, English professor and creator of, a blog whose mission is to share lessons for those who want to learn and improve their English