Discover 40 Common English Idioms and Expressions You Need to Know!

Hello there, language enthusiast! Have you ever come across sentences that made you scratch your head in confusion? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! We’re here to explain those sometimes difficult phrases known as “English idioms” and “English expressions”. These little gems add flavor to our language and make conversations more interesting. In this guide, we’ll dive into 40 Common English idioms and expressions, breaking down their meanings and giving you easy-to-understand examples. Let’s get started!

1. Piece of cake

Meaning: Something very easy or simple to do.

Example: Solving that math problem was a piece of cake for Emily.

2. Hit the books

Meaning: To start studying or reading intensively.

Example: Sarah needs to hit the books to prepare for her upcoming exams.

3. Break a leg

Meaning: A way to wish someone good luck.

Example: “Break a leg!” Mary said to her friend before the big performance.

4. On the same page

Meaning: When people have a shared understanding or viewpoint.

Example: John and Lisa quickly found themselves on the same page during the team meeting.

5. Spill the beans

Meaning: To reveal a secret or share information prematurely.

Example: Tom couldn’t keep it to himself and ended up spilling the beans about the surprise party.

6. Cost an arm and a leg

Meaning: Something that is very expensive.

Example: The designer handbag she wanted would’ve cost her an arm and a leg.

7. Under the weather

Meaning: Feeling unwell or sick.

Example: Jack stayed home from school because he was feeling under the weather.

8. A piece of the pie

Meaning: A share or portion of something, often related to money or benefits.

Example: Each team member gets a piece of the pie from the company’s profits.

9. Break the ice

Meaning: To initiate a conversation or interaction in a social setting.

Example: Jane told a joke to break the ice at the new employee orientation.

10. Barking up the wrong tree

Meaning: Misdirecting your efforts or looking in the wrong place.

Example: Tim realized he was barking up the wrong tree when he accused his brother of eating his snack.

11. Don’t cry over spilled milk

Meaning: There’s no use in getting upset about something that has already happened and cannot be changed.

Example: Emma was sad about losing her phone, but her mum reminded her not to cry over spilled milk.

12. Hit the nail on the head

Meaning: To precisely describe or identify something.

Example: Sarah hit the nail on the head when she explained why the project wasn’t progressing.

13. A penny for your thoughts

Meaning: A way to ask someone what they are thinking.

Example: When Alex seemed lost in thought, his friend asked, “A penny for your thoughts?”

14. Actions speak louder than words

Meaning: What you do is more important than what you say.

Example: Instead of just apologizing, Jake decided to help out to show that actions speak louder than words.

15. The ball is in your court

Meaning: It’s your turn to make a decision or take action.

Example: After receiving all the proposals, the ball is in the manager’s court to choose the best one.

16. All ears

Meaning: Fully attentive and ready to listen.

Example: When the teacher started telling a story, the students were all ears.

17. It’s not rocket science

Meaning: Something that is not very complicated or difficult to understand.

Example: Figuring out how to use this new app is not rocket science.

18. In the nick of time

Meaning: Just in time, right before it’s too late.

Example: The firefighter arrived in the nick of time and saved the cat from the tree.

19. Let the cat out of the bag

Meaning: To accidentally reveal a secret.

Example: Max let the cat out of the bag by mentioning the surprise party to his sister.

20. Catch someone red-handed

Meaning: To catch someone in the act of doing something wrong or illegal.

Example: The teacher caught Jenny red-handed while she was copying answers during the test.

21. Jump the gun

Meaning: To start something too soon or before the appropriate time.

Example: The team jumped the gun by celebrating victory before the game ended.

22. See eye to eye

Meaning: To agree or have the same opinion as someone.

Example: Although they had different tastes, Jane and Mark managed to see eye to eye on the holiday destination.

23. The early bird catches the worm

Meaning: Being proactive and starting early can lead to success.

Example: Emily always arrives at the library early to study. The early bird catches the worm, after all.

24. Burning the midnight oil

Meaning: Working late into the night.

Example: Jane had to burn the midnight oil to finish her research paper before the deadline.

25. The whole nine yards

Meaning: To give something your all or to do everything possible.

Example: Despite the challenges, Sarah was determined to give the whole nine yards to complete the marathon.

26. A blessing in disguise

Meaning: Something that seems bad at first but turns out to be good in the long run.

Example: Missing the train was a blessing in disguise because it broke down later.

27. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

Meaning: Don’t assume something will happen before it actually does.

Example: While Sarah was excited about the job interview, her friend reminded her not to count her chickens before they hatch.

28. Born with a silver spoon in your mouth

Meaning: Someone who is born into a wealthy or privileged family.

Example: Emma always travels first class; she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth.

29. Have a chip on your shoulder

Meaning: To be easily offended or have a bad attitude due to past experiences.

Example: Ever since the argument, Alex seems to have a chip on his shoulder whenever we talk.

30. Put all your eggs in one basket

Meaning: To invest all your resources or efforts into one thing.

Example: Instead of focusing solely on one business idea, Emily prefers not to put all her eggs in one basket.

31. Read between the lines

Meaning: To understand the hidden or implied meaning in something.

Example: Sarah could read between the lines and tell that her friend was upset, even though they said everything was fine.

32. When pigs fly

Meaning: Something that is highly unlikely or impossible to happen.

Example: Tim said he’d clean his room every day, but I’ll believe it when pigs fly.

33. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Meaning: Don’t invest all your resources or efforts into one thing.

Example: Instead of relying solely on one source of income, Lisa decided not to put all her eggs in one basket.

34. Cross that bridge when you come to it

Meaning: Deal with a problem or situation when it arises, not beforehand.

Example: Sarah worried about finding a job after graduation, but her dad advised her to cross that bridge when she came to it.

35. Keep your fingers crossed

Meaning: To hope for a positive outcome or good luck.

Example: As she awaited her exam results, Emily kept her fingers crossed for a high score.

36. The ball’s in your court

Meaning: It’s your turn to make a decision or take action.

Example: After hearing both sides of the argument, the teacher told the students that the ball was in their court to decide on the class activity.

37. In a nutshell

Meaning: Summing up something in a brief and concise manner.

Example: Emily explained her weekend trip to the amusement park in a nutshell – lots of rides, great food, and plenty of laughs.

38. On thin ice

Meaning: In a risky or dangerous situation.

Example: Sarah knew she was on thin ice when she borrowed her friend’s bike without asking.

39. Walking on eggshells

Meaning: Being cautious in order not to upset someone.

Example: After the argument, Tom felt like he was walking on eggshells around his friend.

40. Hit the nail on the head

Meaning: To precisely describe something or be exactly right.

Example: When Sarah explained the problem, she hit the nail on the head – her analysis was spot-on.

There you have it, 40 Common English idioms and expressions! You’re now armed with even more English idioms and expressions to impress your friends and make your conversations shine. Remember, learning these English phrases is like collecting treasures for your language toolbox. Keep practicing, and soon you’ll be using them naturally and effortlessly. So go ahead, spread these English idioms into your chats, and watch as your language skills shine! Until next time, happy learning!