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100 Common Idioms for Speaking

Updated: Mar 6

 

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush - Meaning: It's better to have something tangible now than the possibility of something better in the future. Example: "I'm not going to risk my stable job for a chance at a higher salary. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

A blessing in disguise - Meaning: Something that seems bad at first but turns out to be good. Example: "Failing the exam was a blessing in disguise because it made me work harder."

A drop in the ocean - Meaning: Something very small or insignificant compared to the whole. Example: "My donation to the charity was just a drop in the ocean compared to what they need."

A friend in need is a friend indeed - Meaning: A true friend is someone who helps you when you are in need. Example: "When I was sick, she brought me soup and stayed with me. A friend in need is a friend indeed."

A leopard can't change its spots - Meaning: People can't change their innate nature or behavior. Example: "I've tried to get him to be more organized, but a leopard can't change its spots."

A penny saved is a penny earned - Meaning: Saving money is just as valuable as earning it. Example: "I'm putting aside a portion of my salary each month. A penny saved is a penny earned."

A picture paints a thousand words - Meaning: Visual images can convey complex ideas more effectively than words alone. Example: "This infographic illustrates the concept better than any verbal explanation. A picture paints a thousand words."

A piece of cake - Meaning: Very easy. Example: "The speaking test was a piece of cake for me."

A rolling stone gathers no moss - Meaning: Someone who keeps moving or changing jobs avoids becoming stagnant or complacent. Example: "I prefer to keep traveling and exploring new opportunities. A rolling stone gathers no moss."

A stitch in time saves nine - Meaning: Dealing with a problem early prevents it from becoming larger and more difficult to solve later. Example: "I fixed the leaky faucet as soon as I noticed it. A stitch in time saves nine."

A watched kettle never boils - Meaning: Time seems to move slowly when you're waiting for something to happen. Example: "I keep refreshing the webpage, but the results still aren't out. A watched kettle never boils."

Absence makes the heart grow fonder - Meaning: Being apart from someone makes you appreciate them more. Example: "I miss my family back home. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder."

Actions speak louder than words - Meaning: What someone does is more important than what they say they will do. Example: "He promised to help, but actions speak louder than words."

All bark and no bite - Meaning: Someone who talks tough but doesn't act on their threats. Example: "Don't worry about him, he's all bark and no bite."

All ears - Meaning: Fully attentive and ready to listen. Example: "I'm all ears, go ahead and tell me your idea."

All is fair in love and war - Meaning: In difficult or intense situations, anything goes. Example: "I know it seems harsh, but all is fair in love and war."

Ball is in your court - Meaning: It's your turn to make a decision or take action. Example: "I've given you all the information you need. Now the ball is in your court."

Barking up the wrong tree - Meaning: Looking for something in the wrong place or pursuing the wrong course of action. Example: "You're barking up the wrong tree if you think he'll lend you money."

Beat around the bush - Meaning: To avoid talking about something directly. Example: "Stop beating around the bush and tell me what you really think."

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder - Meaning: Beauty is subjective and can vary from person to person. Example: "Some people find modern art beautiful, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

Beggars can't be choosers - Meaning: People who are in need shouldn't be picky about what they receive. Example: "I know it's not exactly what you wanted, but beggars can't be choosers."

Better late than never - Meaning: It's better to do something late than to not do it at all. Example: "I finally apologized to her for my mistake. Better late than never."

Birds of a feather flock together - Meaning: People who are similar in character or interests tend to associate with one another. Example: "It's no surprise they're best friends. Birds of a feather flock together."

Bite the bullet - Meaning: To endure a painful or difficult situation. Example: "I had to bite the bullet and apologize, even though I didn't want to."

Blood is thicker than water - Meaning: Family relationships are stronger and more important than other relationships. Example: "I may have disagreements with my siblings, but blood is thicker than water."

Break a leg - Meaning: Good luck. Example: "You're going to do great in the speaking test. Break a leg!"

Break the ice - Meaning: To start a conversation in a social situation. Example: "I tried to break the ice by asking about her weekend plans."

Burn the midnight oil - Meaning: To work late into the night. Example: "I had to burn the midnight oil to finish my assignment on time."

Bury the hatchet - Meaning: To make peace and reconcile with someone. Example: "After years of feuding, they finally decided to bury the hatchet and move on."

Call it a day - Meaning: To stop working on something. Example: "I'm tired, let's call it a day and continue tomorrow."

Cost an arm and a leg - Meaning: To be very expensive. Example: "The speaking course cost me an arm and a leg, but it was worth it."

Cross that bridge when you come to it - Meaning: Deal with a problem when it arises, not before. Example: "I'll worry about the speaking test tomorrow. Let's cross that bridge when we come to it."

Curiosity killed the cat - Meaning: Being too curious can lead to trouble. Example: "I'm curious about what's inside that box, but I know curiosity killed the cat."

Cut to the chase - Meaning: To get to the point without wasting time. Example: "Let's cut to the chase and discuss the main issue."

Don't bite off more than you can chew - Meaning: Don't take on more responsibility or work than you can handle. Example: "I signed up for too many extracurricular activities and now I'm overwhelmed. I shouldn't have bitten off more than I could chew."

Don't cry over spilled milk - Meaning: Don't waste time worrying about things that have already happened and can't be changed. Example: "Yes, we made a mistake, but there's no point in crying over spilled milk. Let's focus on finding a solution."

Don't judge a book by its cover - Meaning: Don't judge someone or something based on appearance alone. Example: "She may seem quiet, but don't judge a book by its cover."

Don't put all your eggs in one basket - Meaning: Don't risk everything on a single venture or investment. Example: "I'm diversifying my portfolio so I'm not putting all my eggs in one basket."

Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today - Meaning: Don't procrastinate or delay tasks. Example: "I know you're tired, but don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today."

Don't put the cart before the horse - Meaning: Don't do things in the wrong order. Example: "Let's plan the event first before we start designing invitations. We shouldn't put the cart before the horse."

Easy come, easy go - Meaning: Something obtained quickly and easily is also easily lost. Example: "I won the lottery, but I spent it all just as quickly. Easy come, easy go."

Every cloud has a silver lining - Meaning: There is something positive to be found in every difficult situation. Example: "Losing my job was tough, but it gave me the opportunity to pursue my passion. Every cloud has a silver lining."

Every dog has his day - Meaning: Everyone gets a chance or opportunity at some point. Example: "I may not be successful now, but every dog has his day."

Forget cold feet - Meaning: To suddenly become nervous or hesitant about doing something. Example: "I was planning to speak up in the meeting, but I got cold feet at the last minute."

Haste makes waste - Meaning: Acting too quickly can result in mistakes that take longer to fix. Example: "I rushed through the project and made so many errors. Haste makes waste."

Hit the nail on the head - Meaning: To describe exactly what is causing a situation or problem. Example: "You really hit the nail on the head with that analysis."

It takes two to tango - Meaning: Both parties involved are responsible for a situation or argument. Example: "They keep blaming each other for the project's failure, but it takes two to tango."

It's a small world - Meaning: The world is interconnected and people often have unexpected connections. Example: "I ran into my childhood friend while traveling abroad. It's a small world."

It's not rocket science - Meaning: Something is not overly complex or difficult to understand. Example: "Cooking dinner isn't rocket science. Just follow the recipe."

It's raining cats and dogs - Meaning: It's raining heavily. Example: "We can't go out right now, it's raining cats and dogs."

It's the tip of the iceberg - Meaning: Only a small, visible part of a much larger problem or issue. Example: "The corruption scandal we uncovered is just the tip of the iceberg."

Jump on the bandwagon - Meaning: To join a popular activity or trend. Example: "Everyone's doing yoga these days, so I decided to jump on the bandwagon."

Keep an eye on - Meaning: To watch or monitor something closely. Example: "Keep an eye on the time so we don't run out during the speaking test."

Kick the bucket - Meaning: To die. Example: "He kicked the bucket last night after a long illness."

Kill two birds with one stone - Meaning: To accomplish two things with a single action. Example: "By studying during my commute, I can kill two birds with one stone."

Let sleeping dogs lie - Meaning: Avoid bringing up old issues or conflicts. Example: "I know you want to confront her about what she said, but let sleeping dogs lie."

Let the cat out of the bag - Meaning: To reveal a secret. Example: "I accidentally let the cat out of the bag about the surprise party."

Make a long story short - Meaning: To summarize something briefly. Example: "To make a long story short, I ended up getting the job after all."

On the same page - Meaning: In agreement or understanding about something. Example: "It's important that we're all on the same page before we make any decisions."

Once bitten, twice shy - Meaning: After an unpleasant experience, you become cautious to avoid a similar situation in the future. Example: "I got scammed once, so now I'm extra careful with online purchases. Once bitten, twice shy."

Once in a blue moon - Meaning: Something that happens very rarely. Example: "I only see my old friends from college once in a blue moon."

Out of the frying pan into the fire - Meaning: Escaping one difficult situation only to end up in another that is just as bad or worse. Example: "I thought quitting my job would solve my problems, but now I can't find another one. It's like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire."

Practice makes perfect - Meaning: You can become skilled at something by repeating it regularly. Example: "I may not be good at speaking English now, but practice makes perfect."

Pull someone's leg - Meaning: To tease or joke with someone. Example: "I'm just pulling your leg. Of course, I know you're joking."

Rome wasn't built in a day - Meaning: Great achievements take time and effort. Example: "Learning a new language can be frustrating, but remember, Rome wasn't built in a day."

Speak of the devil - Meaning: Used when someone you were just talking about appears unexpectedly. Example: "Speak of the devil, there's Sarah now."

Take the bull by the horns - Meaning: To confront a problem directly and with confidence. Example: "I decided to take the bull by the horns and address the issue head-on."

The ball is in your court - Meaning: It's your turn to make a decision or take action. Example: "I've given you all the information you need. Now the ball is in your court."

The devil is in the details - Meaning: Small details are important and can cause problems if overlooked. Example: "We need to review the contract carefully. The devil is in the details."

The early bird catches the worm - Meaning: Being proactive and starting early leads to success. Example: "I always arrive at work before anyone else. You know what they say, the early bird catches the worm."

The elephant in the room - Meaning: An obvious problem or issue that everyone is aware of but nobody wants to address. Example: "We need to talk about the elephant in the room – our declining sales."

The grass is always greener on the other side - Meaning: People often think that others have it better than them, but in reality, they may not. Example: "I envy her job, but the grass is always greener on the other side."

The last straw - Meaning: The final, intolerable thing that causes someone to lose patience or give up. Example: "When he forgot my birthday, that was the last straw."

The pot calling the kettle black - Meaning: Hypocritically criticizing someone for a fault you also possess. Example: "You accuse me of being lazy when you spend all day watching TV. That's the pot calling the kettle black."

Time flies when you're having fun - Meaning: Time seems to pass quickly when you're enjoying yourself. Example: "I can't believe it's already midnight! Time flies when you're having fun."

To be in hot water - Meaning: To be in trouble or facing consequences. Example: "He's really in hot water with his boss after missing the deadline."

To kill time - Meaning: To pass time doing something unproductive. Example: "I'm just killing time until the bus arrives."

To let the cat out of the bag - Meaning: To reveal a secret. Example: "I accidentally let the cat out of the bag about the surprise party."

To paint the town red - Meaning: To go out and enjoy oneself flamboyantly. Example: "After the exam, we're going to paint the town red."

To pull someone's leg - Meaning: To tease or joke with someone. Example: "I'm just pulling your leg. Of course, I know you're joking."

To see eye to eye - Meaning: To agree or have the same opinion as someone else. Example: "We don't always see eye to eye, but we respect each other's opinions."

To turn over a new leaf - Meaning: To start fresh or make a positive change in one's life. Example: "After getting sober, he decided to turn over a new leaf and pursue his passion for painting."

Two heads are better than one - Meaning: Two people working together can solve a problem more effectively than one person alone. Example: "Let's work on this project together. Two heads are better than one."

Two wrongs don't make a right - Meaning: Responding to a wrongdoing with another wrongdoing doesn't solve the problem. Example: "He insulted me, but that doesn't mean I should insult him back. Two wrongs don't make a right."

Under the weather - Meaning: Feeling ill or sick. Example: "I'm feeling a bit under the weather today."

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink - Meaning: You can provide someone with an opportunity, but you can't force them to take it. Example: "I gave him all the study materials, but he refuses to study. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."

You can't have your cake and eat it too - Meaning: You can't have everything you want; you must make choices. Example: "You want to travel the world, but you also want to save money. You can't have your cake and eat it too."

You can't judge a book by its cover - Meaning: You shouldn't judge someone or something based solely on appearance. Example: "I know she seems shy, but you can't judge a book by its cover."

You can't teach an old dog new tricks - Meaning: It is difficult to teach new skills or habits to someone who is set in their ways. Example: "My grandfather refuses to learn how to use a computer. You know what they say, you can't teach an old dog new tricks."

You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours - Meaning: If you do something for me, I'll do something for you in return. Example: "I'll help you move this weekend if you help me paint my room next weekend. You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours."


Exercise:


Instructions: Choose the correct idiom from the list provided to complete each sentence.

  1. She always gets straight to the point and _______________.

  2. Despite his tough talk, he's _______________ when it comes to confrontation.

  3. I've been feeling a bit _______________ lately, so I might not be very productive.

  4. We need to _______________ and discuss the real issue.

  5. I've been studying for hours, but I'm afraid I'm just _______________ until the exam starts.

  6. The manager _______________ after everyone kept avoiding the main topic.

  7. I know it's not what you wanted, but _______________.

  8. Despite the setback, there's always _______________.

  9. The company's financial troubles were just _______________ of the iceberg.

  10. I have a feeling we're just seeing _______________ of the problem.

  11. He always arrives early for meetings because _______________.

  12. After losing her job, she discovered it was a _______________ because it led her to pursue her passion.

  13. I don't want to put all my eggs in one basket, so I'm _______________ my options.

  14. My friend promised to help, but _______________ when I needed him the most.

  15. Let's _______________ and focus on finding a solution.

  16. I envy her success, but _______________.

  17. We've been working together for years, so we're _______________.

  18. He promised to contribute, but _______________.

  19. I may not be successful now, but _______________.

  20. Learning a new language is challenging, but _______________.


Answer:

  1. Hit the nail on the head

  2. All bark and no bite

  3. Under the weather

  4. Cut to the chase

  5. Killing time

  6. Broke the ice

  7. Better late than never

  8. The tip of the iceberg

  9. Barking up the wrong tree

  10. Every cloud has a silver lining

  11. The early bird catches the worm

  12. Blessing in disguise

  13. Keeping an eye on

  14. Turn over a new leaf

  15. Practice makes perfect

  16. Birds of a feather flock together

  17. Actions speak louder than words

  18. Jump on the bandwagon

  19. Beggars can't be choosers

  20. It's raining cats and dogs


Instructions: Fill in the blanks with the appropriate idiom from the list provided.

  1. I always arrive early for meetings because ______________.

  2. Don't judge a book by its cover; you never know what someone is like until you get to know them ______________.

  3. After failing the exam, she realized it was ___________________ because it motivated her to study harder.

  4. It's important to _______________ and address the main issue without wasting time.

  5. My friend is always _______________, so I never know when he's telling the truth.

  6. I'm feeling _______________ today, so I might not perform my best in the test.

  7. Let's _______________ and plan our next move carefully.

  8. He promised to help, but _______________ when it came time to do the work.

  9. I made a mistake, but there's no point in _______________ about it now.

  10. They keep blaming each other for the project's failure, but _______________.

  11. After years of feuding, they finally decided to _______________ and make peace.

  12. I may not be successful now, but _______________.

  13. Learning a new language can be challenging, but _______________.

  14. Don't worry about him, he's always _______________ and never follows through.

  15. We need to _______________ and deal with the problem directly.

  16. She's been feeling _______________ lately, so she's taking a few days off work.

  17. My grandfather refuses to learn how to use a computer. You know what they say, _______________.

  18. He's really _______________ with his boss after missing the deadline.

  19. I always wake up early to study. _______________.

  20. I accidentally _______________ about the surprise party.

  21. After quitting his job, he realized he had jumped _______________.

  22. Losing my job led me to discover a new career path. _______________.

  23. Being apart from someone makes you appreciate them more. _______________.

  24. Some people find modern art beautiful, but _______________.

  25. I keep refreshing the webpage, but the results still aren't out. _______________.

  26. I envy her job, but _______________.

  27. You want to travel the world, but _______________.

  28. I made a mistake, but _______________.

  29. I finally apologized to her for my mistake. _______________.

  30. I'm putting aside a portion of my salary each month. _______________.

  31. What someone does is more significant than what they say. _______________.

  32. In difficult or intense situations, anything goes. _______________.

  33. People who are in need shouldn't be picky about what they receive. _______________.

  34. It's better to do something late than to not do it at all. _______________.

  35. Being too curious can lead to trouble. _______________.

  36. Don't assume success until it's certain. _______________.

  37. You can't have everything you want; you must make choices. _______________.

  38. Escaping one difficult situation only to end up in another that is just as bad or worse. _______________.

  39. Saving money is just as valuable as earning it. _______________.

  40. A true friend is someone who helps you when you are in need. _______________.

  41. Two people working together can solve a problem more effectively than one person alone. _______________.

  42. Beauty is subjective and can vary from person to person. _______________.

  43. Time seems to move slower when you're waiting for something to happen. _______________.

  44. Family relationships are stronger and more important than other relationships. _______________.

  45. If you do something for me, I'll do something for you in return. _______________.

  46. I know it seems harsh, but _______________.

  47. After an unpleasant experience, you become cautious to avoid a similar situation in the future. _______________.

  48. There's something positive to be found in every difficult situation. _______________.

  49. I know it's not exactly what you wanted, but _______________.

  50. Time seems to move slower when you're waiting for something to happen. _______________.


Answer:

  1. Hit the nail on the head

  2. Break the ice

  3. A blessing in disguise

  4. Cut to the chase

  5. Beat around the bush

  6. Under the weather

  7. Jump on the bandwagon

  8. Pull someone's leg

  9. Break a leg

  10. Bite the bullet

  11. Call it a day

  12. Keep an eye on

  13. Let the cat out of the bag

  14. Cost an arm and a leg

  15. Kick the bucket

  16. Don't judge a book by its cover

  17. Burn the midnight oil

  18. Cross that bridge when you come to it

  19. Make a long story short

  20. On the same page

  21. Speak of the devil

  22. Take the bull by the horns

  23. The ball is in your court

  24. The early bird catches the worm

  25. The elephant in the room

  26. The last straw

  27. Time flies when you're having fun

  28. To be in hot water

  29. To kill time

  30. To let the cat out of the bag

  31. All bark and no bite

  32. Beggars can't be choosers

  33. Don't cry over spilled milk

  34. Don't put all your eggs in one basket

  35. Every cloud has a silver lining

  36. Every dog has its day

  37. Haste makes waste

  38. It's raining cats and dogs

  39. It's the tip of the iceberg

  40. Jump on the bandwagon

  41. Practice makes perfect

  42. The devil is in the details

  43. Two heads are better than one

  44. You can't judge a book by its cover

  45. A leopard can't change its spots

  46. Don't count your chickens before they hatch

  47. Easy come, easy go

  48. The early bird catches the worm

  49. A watched pot never boils

  50. To turn over a new leaf

 

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