THE TOP 100 MOST COMMON ENGLISH IDIOMS

Find below the top 100 most common English idioms and expressions. Learn how to talk and write like a native English language speaker by using some of the most popular and best English expressions and idioms. Native English language idioms.

Written by Mau, an English Language learning facilitator and marketer at eDigital.

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THE TOP 100 MOST COMMON ENGLISH IDIOMS

What is an idiom?

Idioms are expressions that convey figurative meanings different from their literal interpretations. Idioms can be formal expressions or very informal expressions used by particular groups of people in different English-speaking countries and local communities.

WHO IS USING THIS TOP 100 ENGLISH IDIONS LIST?

  • Bloggers
  • Community managers
  • Content creators and writers
  • Copywriters
  • Customer Service Representatives
  • Editors
  • English language students
  • Ghostwriters
  • Journalists
  • Marketing managers and assistants
  • Novelists
  • Public Relations Specialists
  • Reporters
  • Scriptwriters
  • Social Media managers
  • Some of our best Instagram Virtual Assistants.
  • Travel writers

And pretty much anyone who wants to sound or write like a native English speaker. 

THE TOP 100 MOST COMMON ENGLISH IDIOMS

AGREEMENT

  1. Find common ground. If two people or groups who generally disagree find common ground, they find a particular subject or opinion that they agree about.
  2. On the same wavelength
  3. Give and take. You accept you cannot have everything and that you sometimes have to give the other person what they want.
  4. Meet someone halfway. If you meet someone halfway, you accept someone’s requests, opinions or wishes so you can agree.

ANGER, ANNOYANCE & IRRITATION

  1. A dirty look. If you give someone a dirty look or a filthy look, you look at them in a way that shows that you are very angry about something they have said or done. 
  2. A pain in the neck/ass. If you or an activity/task is a pain in the neck, you or the activity are very annoying.
  3. A sore point/spot. A subject or an issue is a sore point with someone or a sore spot for them if it makes them feel angry, upset or embarrassed. 
  4. Bite/snap someone’s head off. If you bite someone’s head off, you speak to them in an unpleasant angry way, because you are annoyed about something they did.
  5. Blow a fuse. If someone blows a fuse, they suddenly lose their temper and cannot control their anger. 
  6. Drive someone up the wall. If something or someone drives you up the wall, they annoy you a lot. 
  7. Fly off the handle. If someone flies off the handle, they become very angry. 
  8. Give someone hell. If you give someone hell, you make their life very difficult or unpleasant by behaving badly towards them. 
  9. Give someone a piece of your mind. If you give someone a piece of your mind, you speak angrily to them because they have done something to annoy you. 
  10. Go through the roof. If you go through the roof or hit the roof, you suddenly become angry and usually you show your anger by shouting at someone. 
  11. Have a bone to pick with someone. If you say that you have a bone to pick with someone, you are annoyed with them about something and you want to talk to them about it. 
  12. Have a chip on your shoulder. If you have a chip on your shoulder, you feel angry and resentful because you think that you have been treated unfairly, especially because of your background. 
  13. Have a go at someone. If you have a go at someone, you criticise someone strongly and angrily, often without good reason.
  14. In the heat of the moment. If someone does or says something in the heat of the moment, they do it because they are angry or too excited.
  15. Jump down someone’s throat. If you jump down someone’s throat, you react in a very angry way to something they have said or done.
  16. Lose it. If someone loses it, they become extremely angry or upset. 
  17. Make your blood boil. If someone or something makes your blood boil, it makes you very angry. 
  18. Sparks fly. If sparks fly between two people, they get angry with each other and argue. 
  19. Up in arms. If you are up in arms about something, you are very angry about it and are protesting strongly. 

ANNOUNCING OR REVEALING SOMETHING

  1. Let the cat out of the bag. If you let the cat out of the bag, you reveal something secret or private, often without meaning to. Most likely it was a mistake revealing it.
  2. Spill the beans. If you spill the beans, you reveal the truth about something secret or private.

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AUTHORITY AND CONTROL

  1. Breathing down someone’s neck. If you are breathing down someone’s neck, you are closely watching and checking everything that they do. 
  2. Call the shots. If someone calls the shots, they make all the important decisions. 
  3. Eating out of your hand/the palm of your hand. If you have someone eating out of your hand or out of the palm of your hand, they will do whatever you want because they like you or admire you. 
  4. Get out of hand. If a situation gets out of hand, it cannot be controlled any longer. 
  5. Go over someone’s head. If you go over someone’s head, you are trying to communicate directly with the boss of your boss.
  6. In high places. People in high places are people in power and influence in a group or society. 
  7. Keep tabs on someone/something. If you keep tabs on someone or something, you make sure you know what they are doing or what is happening to them, often to control them.
  8. On top of something. If someone is on top of a task or a situation, they are dealing with it successfully. You can also say you are “getting on top of it”
  9. Put your foot down. If you put your foot down, you tell someone forcefully that they must do something or that they must not do something. 
  10. The powers that be. You can call people in authority “The powers that be”, especially when you disagree with them or do not understand what they say or do. 
  11. The upper hand. If you have the upper hand, you have the most power and control in a situation. 

BAD COMMUNICATION

  1. Go/Wanders off at/on a tangent. If a person speaking or a piece of writing (article, essay, etc.) goes off a tangent or goes off at a tangent, they start saying or thinking something that is not directly connected with what they were saying or thinking before.

BEHAVIOUR

  1. Off your head. If you say that someone is off their head, you think that their ideas or behaviour are very strange, foolish, or dangerous. Mainly British, informal, disapproval. Synonym: crazy.

CHANGE

  1. Turn over a new leaf. If someone has turned over a new leaf, they start to behave in a better way than before.
  2. A wake-up call. A wake-up call is something that shocks people, making them understand how serious a problem is and causing them to take action or change to solve the problem.

COMPARISONS

  1. A fine line between something / A thin line between something / A narrow line between something. If there is a fine line between two activities or situations, there is a point at which they are very similar. Often when one is acceptable and the other one is not. For example: There is a fine line between being nicely looked after and never being left alone. 
  2. Head and shoulders above someone/something. If someone or something is head and shoulders above someone or something, they are much better than someone else or something else.

COMPLAINING

  1. Make a mountain out of a molehill. If someone makes a mountain out of a molehill, they talk or complain about a small, unimportant problem as it is important or serious. 

CONFIDENCE

  1. Come out of your shell/bring you out of your shell. If you come out of your shell, you become less shy and more confident.

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DECEPTION

  1. A hidden agenda. If someone has a hidden agenda, they are secretly trying to get something while they are trying to appear to be doing something else.
  2. A white lie. If someone tells a white lie, they say a lie, often to protect someone or to avoid upsetting someone. 
  3. Be economical with the truth. If you are economical with the truth, you deceive people by not telling them the whole and complete truth about something. 
  4. Blow the whistle on someone/something. If someone blows the whistle on something dishonest or illegal, or on someone who is doing something dishonest or illegal, you tell the authorities or police about them, because you want a punishment for them or a public embarrassment for them. 
  5. Cover your tracks. If you cover your tracks, you hide or destroy evidence of what you have done or where you have been.
  6. Give the game away. If you or something gives the game away, you reveal something that someone has been trying to keep secret. 
  7. Go behind someone’s back. If you go behind someone’s back, you do something secretly without someone’s permission to do it. 
  8. Go through the motions. If someone goes through the motions, they do something that they have to do or are expected to do, but without any real effort or enthusiasm. 
  9. Keep something to yourself. If you keep information or a secret to yourself, you do not tell anyone else about it. 
  10. Lie through your teeth. If you lie through your teeth, you tell obvious lies and do not seem to be embarrassed about it. 
  11. On the take. If you are on the take, you are receiving illegal income such as bribes. 
  12. Pull someone’s leg. If you pull someone’s leg, you teasing them about something, for example by teasing them about something that is not true. 
  13. Sweep something under the carpet. British. If someone sweeps a problem/issue/situation under the carpet, they try to hide it and forget about it. American version: “Sweep something under the rug”. A rug is smaller than a carpet but both idioms have the same meaning.
  14. Take someone for a ride. If you take someone for a ride, you are deceiving someone or cheating on someone. 

DECISIONS

  1. Play it by ear. If you say “Let’s play it by ear” means you do not want to make a decision now, you want to wait and see how things pan out.
  2. Sit/stay/be on the fence. If you sit on the fence, you refuse to give an opinion about something or to say who you support in an argument or debate. 
  3. Take a back seat. If you take a back seat, you allow other people to have all the power, and importance of responsibility. Also, if a thing takes a back seat, it will not get as much attention, because it is less important or less interesting than another. 

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DIFFICULTY AND TROUBLE

  1. A catch-22. A catch-22 is a frustrating situation in which one thing cannot happen until another thing has happened, but the other thing cannot happen until the first thing has happened. For example: finding a job is a catch-22, I need experience to get a job but to get a job I need to have experience. 
  2. A slippery slope. A slippery slope is a course of action or multiple actions that are likely to lead to failure or serious trouble. 
  3. A stumbling block. If something is a stumbling block, it is a problem or issue that stops someone from achieving something else or stops the development of something. 
  4. A vicious circle/cycle. A difficult situation is a vicious circle/cycle, when that situation causes other problems which, in turn, have made the original problem even worse. 
  5. An own goal. An own goal is a plan or an action that is intended to bring someone an advantage and which instead causes a problem for them. 
  6. Asking for trouble. If you are asking for trouble, you are behaving in a way that makes it very likely that you will have problems. 
  7. Bite off more than you can chew. If someone bites off more than they can chew, they try to complete a task or an activity that is too big too demanding or too difficult for their current set of skills or available resources or time. 
  8. In over your head. If someone is in over their head, they are in a situation that is too difficult for them to deal with. 
  9. Not have a leg to stand on. If you do not have a leg to stand on, you do not have any valid support to prove a claim or statement you have made. 
  10. Out of/from the frying pan into the fire. If you have gone out of the frying pan into the fire or from the frying pan into the fire, you have moved from a bad situation to an even worse situation. 
  11. Put your foot in it. If someone puts their foot in it, they have said something that embarrasses or offends the person they are with and also embarrasses them as a result. British idiom. The American version is: “Put your foot in your mouth”. Both versions refer to being clumsy. Perhaps the British version relates to a situation whereas the American one focuses more on actually saying something inappropriate or embarrassing.
  12. Teething problems/troubles. Teething problems/troubles are problems in the early stages of something. 

DIRECTNESS

  1. Not beat about the bush. If someone does not beat around the bush, they communicate clearly and directly.
  2. Lay your cards on the table. If someone lays their cards on the table, they tell someone the truth about their feelings, expectations, opinions or plans.
  3. To someone’s face. If someone says something ( especially something critical or unpleasant) to someone’s face, they say it directly to them.
  4. Call a spade a spade. If someone calls a spade a space, they are speaking honestly and directly even if it offends people.

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DISAGREEMENT

  1. A battle of wills. If an argument or conflict is a battle of wills, the person with the strongest persuasion skills, beliefs or personality will win. 
  2. A bone of contention. A bone of contention is an issue that people are arguing about. 
  3. A shouting match. A shouting match is an angry and uncontrolled argument or discussion where people shout at each other. 
  4. Agree to differ. If two people or two groups of people agree to differ or agree to disagree, they decide to stop arguing because neither of them is going to change their opinion. 
  5. At each other’s throats/One another’s throats. If two people or two groups of people are at each other’s throats or one another’s throats, they are arguing in a very angry way. 
  6. At odds with someone. If someone or a group is at odds with another, they disagree about something. 
  7. Clear the air. If an argument or a discussion clears the air, it makes bad feelings between people go away. 
  8. Come to a head/Bring to a head. If a problem or disagreement comes to a head, it becomes so bad that you have to take action to deal with it. You can also say that a situation, event or fact brings a problem or disagreement to a head. 
  9. Cross swords with. If you cross swords with someone, you disagree and argue with them or oppose them.
  10. Not seeing eye to eye. If you do not see eye to eye with someone, you do not agree with them about something.
  11. Split hairs. If someone splits hairs, they argue for very small differences or small details of things that as a whole are very similar. 
  12. Stick to your guns. If you stick to your guns, you do not agree even if many people tell you you are wrong.

DISTRACTION

  1. Miles away. If someone is miles away, they are completely unaware of what’s happening or of what someone is saying, because their mind is distracted thinking about something else.

EFFORT

  1. A last-ditch attempt. A last-ditch attempt or effort to do something is a final desperate try when everything else has failed.
  2. And then some. You can use “and then some” to mean much more than what has just been mentioned. 
  3. Do your level best. If you do your level best to do something, you try as hard as you can to do it.
  4. Don’t do things by halves/ someone does not do anything by halves/someone does not do things by half. If you do not do things by halves, you always do things very well and thoroughly or in an extreme way. 
  5. Give something your best shot. If you give something – that has proven difficult – your best shot, you try as hard as you can to achieve it or be successful at it.
  6. Go all out. If you go all out, you try as hard as possible to achieve something.
  7. Go the extra mile/travel the extra yard. If you go the extra mile, you make a special effort to do or achieve something. 
  8. Make a meal of something. If someone makes a meal of something or makes a meal out of it, they spend too much time or energy on it. 
  9. Like looking for a needle in a haystack. If trying to find something is like looking for a needle in a haystack, it is very unlikely to be found. 
  10. Pull your socks up. If you tell someone to “pull their socks up” you want them to improve their behaviour or work. 
  11. Pull your weight. If someone pulls their weight, they work as hard as everyone else who is involved in the same task or activity.
  12. Work your socks off/dance your socks off/play your socks off/act your socks off. If someone works their socks off, they have worked extremely hard in an activity or task. 

OTHER POPULAR 100 ENGLISH IDIOMS AND EXPRESSIONS

EFFORTLESS

  1. Land on your feet. If someone lands on their feet or falls on their feet, they find themselves in a good situation by luck. 
  2. Cut corners. If you cut corners, you save time, money or energy by not following the correct procedure or rules for doing something.
  3. Not lift a finger/does not raise a finger. If someone does not lift a finger to do something or to help someone, they do not do anything or they do not want to help.
  4. Plain sailing. If an activity or task is plain sailing, it is easy to do or to achieve. British idiom.

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EMPHASIZING SOMETHING IMPORTANT

  1. The bottom line. In a discussion or an argument, the bottom line is the most important and basic fact about what you are discussing.
  2. Cut to the chase. If you cut to the chase, you start talking about or dealing with what is important, instead of less important things. 

ENCOURAGEMENT

  1. A pat on the back/ pat yourself on the back. If you give someone a pat on the back, you praise them for something they have done. 
  2. Be there for someone. If you are there for someone, you are ready to listen to their problems and to help and support them.
  3. Keep your chin up. If you keep your chin up, you try to be cheerful in a difficult situation.
  4. Sing someone’s praises. If you sing someone’s or something’s praises, you enthusiastically praise them. 

EXPECTATIONS

  1. A long shot. If someone describes a way of solving a problem as a long shot, they mean there is a small chance that it will succeed but they keep believing it is worth trying.
  2. All of a sudden. If something happens all of a sudden, it happens quickly and unexpectedly. 
  3. Do not count your chickens. You can also say: “Do not count your chickens before they are hatched”. It means you are not making plans for the future because you do not know how a particular situation will develop. 
  4. Do not hold your breath. If someone is not holding their breath, they are not expecting a particular situation to happen.
  5. Feel something in your bones. If someone can feel something in their bones, they feel they are right about something, although they cannot explain why. 
  6. It’s early days/ it is early in the day. If someone says it is early days or it’s early in the day, they mean that it is too soon to be sure what will happen about a situation in the future. 
  7. Not a chance in hell. If there is not a chance in hell of someone doing something, there is no chance at all that they will do it. British idiom. 
  8. On the cards. If something is on the cards, it is likely to happen. American version: “In the cards”. British idiom.
  9. On the off-chance. If you do something on the off-chance, you do something with a small chance that a good thing will happen. 
  10. Out of the blue. If something happens out of the blue, it happens unexpectedly.
  11. Par for the course. If something that happens is par for the course, it is not good but it is what you expected.
  12. The calm before the storm. The calm before the storm is a quiet period that is expected to be followed by trouble or a difficult time.
  13. The icing on the cake. British. American version: “The frosting on the cake”. If you describe something as the icing on the cake, you mean is an extra good thing on top of already a good thing, situation or issue. 

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FAILURE

  1. Back to the drawing board. If someone has to go back to the drawing board, something they have done has not been successful and they have to try to come up with another idea or solution. 
  2. Fall flat on your face. If you fall flat on your face when you try to do something, you fail or make an embarrassing mistake.
  3. Fighting a losing battle. If someone is fighting a losing battle, they are trying to achieve something but they are very unlikely to succeed. 
  4. Go belly-up. Informal. If an organisation goes belly-up, it fails and does not have enough money to pay its debts. 
  5. Go pear-shaped. British, informal. If a situation, plan, system or activity goes pear-shaped, it starts to fail or starts to have problems. 

FAIRNESS AND HONESTY

  1. Above board. If a situation or business is above board, it is honest and legal.
  2. A level playing field/ An even playing field. A level playing field or an even playing field is a situation is fair and where none has an advantage over other people.
  3. Come clean. If someone comes clean about something, they tell the truth about something.
  4. Do something by the book. If someone does something by the book, they do it strictly and according to the rules.
  5. Fair and square. If someone wins a competition or does something fair and square, they do it without cheating or lying.
  6. Keep your nose clean. If someone keeps their nose clean, they behave well and avoid trouble.

NOT BEING FAIR OR HONEST

  1. Stab someone in the back. If you stab someone in the back, you do something – most of the time secretly – that hurts and betrays someone.
  2. Move the goalposts. If you move the goalposts, you change the rules to gain an advantage or make it more difficult for someone, which is not nice. 
  3. Below the belt. If you say someone has said something below the belt, you mean the person said something cruel and unfair.
  4. Out of line. If you are out of line or way out of line, you have done or said something that is very damaging, mean or unpleasant to someone else.

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FEAR

  1. A bundle of nerves / a bag of nerves / a ball of nerves. If you say that someone is a bundle of nerves, you mean that they are extremely nervous. 
  2. A wake-up call. A wake-up call is something that shocks people, making them understand how serious a problem is and causing them to take action or change to solve the problem.
  3. Butterflies in your stomach. If someone has butterflies in their stomach, they feel very nervous about something they have to do.
  4. Frighten/Scare the life out of someone. If you or something frighten the life out of someone or scare the life out of someone, you frighten them very much.
  5. Get cold feet. If someone gets cold feet or has cold feet about something they have planned to do, they become nervous about it and they are not sure that they want to keep doing it.
  6. Give someone the creeps.  If you or something gives someone the creeps, you or something makes them feel nervous or frightened.
  7. Jump out of your skin. If someone jumps out of their skin, they are suddenly shocked by something.
  8. On edge. If you are on edge, you are anxious and unable to relax.
  9. Scare/Frighten someone out of their wits. If you or something scares someone out of their wits, you or something makes them very frightened or worried. 

FORGIVENESS

  1. Kiss and make up. If two people or two groups kiss and make up, they become friends again after an argument or fight.

FRUSTRATION

  1. At the end of your tether. If someone is at the end of their tether, they are very upset because they are no longer able to deal with a difficult situation. 
  2. Not get a word in edgeways. British. If someone cannot get a word in edgeways, they do not have the opportunity to speak because someone else is speaking too much. American version: “Not get a word in edgewise”.
  3. Red tape. The idiom “red tape” refers to official documents that seem unnecessary and cause delays. 
  4. Sick and tired. If someone says they are sick and tired of something or someone, they are emphasizing that they are very annoyed by it and want the annoyance to stop. 
  5. The last straw/final straw. If someone says that something is the last straw or the final straw,  they mean it is the latest of a series of bad occurrences and it makes them unable to deal with a situation any longer. 
  6. Until you are blue in the face. If someone says that someone can say or do something until they are blue in the face, they mean that however many times they say or do it, it will have no effect. 

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HAPPINESS

  1. Get a kick out of something. If someone gets a kick out of something, they enjoy it very much.
  2. Have a whale of a time. If someone is having a whale of a time, they are enjoying themselves a lot. 
  3. Have the time of your life. If you have the time of your life, you enjoy yourself a lot. 
  4. Make someone’s day. If someone, something or a situation makes your day, they make you feel very happy. 
  5. On top of the world. If someone feels on top of the world, they feel extremely happy. 
  6. Over the moon. If someone is over the moon about something that has happened, they are very happy about it. This is a British idiom. 

HEALTH, ILLNESS AND DEATH

  1. A clean bill of health. If someone is given or gets a clean bill of health, they are told they are completely fit and healthy.
  2. A shadow of your former self. If you are a shadow of your former self,  you are much weaker or less healthy than you used to be.
  3. Alive and kicking. If someone is alive and kicking, that person is still active.
  4. At death’s door. If someone is at death’s door, they are seriously ill and likely to die.
  5. Black and blue. If a part of your body is black and blue, it is badly bruised.
  6. Dropping like flies. If people are dropping like flies, large numbers of them are falling ill or dying within a short period.
  7. Fighting for your life. If someone is fighting for their life, they are seriously ill and trying to survive.
  8. Kick the bucket. If someone kicks the bucket, they die. Example: She just kicked the bucket (She just died).
  9. Knock someone for six. If something knocks you for six, it shocks or upsets you so much that you have difficulty recovering from it.
  10. Skin and bone. If you describe someone as “skin and bone” or “skin and bones”, you mean they are very thin usually because they are very ill.
  11. The worst for wear. If someone is the worse for wear, they are tired of being injured.
  12. Under the weather. If someone is under the weather, they are feeling sick.

HELP

  1. Bend over backwards. If you bend over backwards, you try very hard to help/please someone, even though it causes you trouble.
  2. Cut someone some slack. If you cut someone some slack, you are less critical of someone’s performance because you know they are new to the situation or learning a skill.
  3. Give and take. you accept you cannot have everything and that you sometimes have to give the other person what they want.
  4. Hold someone’s hand. If you hold someone’s hand in an unfamiliar or difficult situation, you help and support them. 
  5. In the same boat. If two or more people are in the same boat, they are experiencing the same unpleasant or difficult situation as someone else.
  6. Lend a hand/lend someone a hand. If you lend a hand or lend someone a hand, you are helping someone to do something.
  7. Put your heads together. If people put their heads together, they try to solve a problem together. 
  8. Take someone under your wing. If you take someone under your wing, you make sure that they are well and have what they need. 

INFLUENCE

  1. Pull the strings. If you pull the strings to get something you want, you get it by using your friendships with powerful people, often in an unfair way. 
  2. Twist someone’s arm. If you twist someone’s arm, you try hard to persuade them to do something. 

INTEREST AND INVOLVEMENT

  1. A labour of love. A labour of love is a task or activity that you do because you enjoy it or it is worth doing it. 
  2. Have a hand in something. If you have a hand in something, you are one of the people involved in doing it or creating it. 
  3. Have an axe to grind. when you have a specific attitude or interest in something, often because you want to get an advantage or because you have been treated badly. American version: “Have an axe to grind”.
  4. In the picture. when you are involved in a specific situation or issue.
  5. Jump on the bandwagon. If someone jumps on the bandwagon, they get involved because it is likely to succeed or it is fashionable.
  6. Mean business. You mean business when you are serious about completing a task.
  7. Poke your nose into something. If you poke your nose into something, you interfere in something that does not concern you.
  8. Try your hand at something. If you try your hand at something, you try doing it to see whether you are good at it. 
  9. Up to your ears. If you are up to your ears in work or in an unpleasant situation, you are deeply involved or busy in that unpleasant situation that does not let you do other things.
  10. Something whets your appetite. If something whets your appetite for a particular thing, it makes you want/desire it. 

DISINTEREST

  1. My heart is not into something. If your heart is not into something you are doing, you are not enthusiastic about it or do not like it that much.
  2. Keep a low profile. If someone keeps a low profile, they avoid doing things that make people notice them. 
  3. Something/someone is not your cup of tea. If something/someone is not your cup of tea, you do not feel very interested or enthusiastic about it or about that person. 
  4. Steer clear of something/someone. If you steer clear of something/someone, you deliberately avoid something or someone.

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KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE

  1. Take it from me. If you say “Take it from me”, you are confirming you know it because you have experienced it many times.

 LIMITATIONS AND RESTRICTIONS

  1. Bend the rules. If someone bends the rules, they do something that is not allowed, either to help someone or for their advantage.
  2. Draw the line. If you know where to draw the line, you know at what point an activity or a situation stops being reasonable. Generally used as: “Draw the line at…”, “Draw the line between…”,  “Draw the line when…”, “Draw the line when it comes to…”
  3. Give someone free rein. If you give someone free rein, you give someone all the freedom they want or need to do something.
  4. Have your hands full. If you have your hands full, you are busy and restricted to doing other activities, tasks or duties.
  5. Off-limits. If an area or something is off-limits, you are not allowed to go there, have it or do it.
  6. Out of bounds. If a place is out of bounds, you are not allowed to go there.
  7. Over the top. If you describe something as over the top, you think that is too extreme. You can also say someone goes over the top if they do something in a way that is too extreme.
  8. Overstep the mark. If you overstep the mark, you offend people by doing something rude or unacceptable.
  9. Step on someone’s toes/ Tread on their toes. If you step on someone’s toes you offend them by interfering in something that is their responsibility.
  10. With no strings attached. If you say that something, an offer, or help comes with no strings attached you mean that accepting it does not require you to do a particular thing or give something in return.
  11. Your hands are tied. If your hands are tied, something such as a government law, rule, regulation or order is preventing you from acting as you wish or someone wishes you to act.

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LOVING AND LIKING

  1. A saving grace. When you say something or someone is a saving grace, you are saying the thing or person performed well among other bad performances.
  2. An old flame. You can use “an old flame” when referring to an old romantic relationship that happened in the past.
  3. Carry a torch for someone/hold a torch for someone. If you carry a torch for someone, you are still in love with someone who does not love you back.
  4. Common-or-garden. You can use “common-or-garden” to describe something ordinary. Nothing special about it.  American version: “Garden variety”.
  5. Fall head over heels. If someone falls head over heels, they fall suddenly and deeply in love with someone. You can also say that someone is head over heels or is head over heels in love.
  6. Have a soft spot for someone/something. If you have a soft spot for someone/something, you like someone/something.
  7. In someone’s good books. If you are in someone’s good books, you have done something that has pleased them.
  8. Not a patch on someone/something. If a person or thing is not a patch on someone/something, the first is not as good as the second.
  9. Nothing to write home about. If something is “nothing to write home about” or “not much to write home about”, it is not very interesting, exciting or special.
  10. Of your dreams. If someone or something is the person or thing of your dreams, they are the best you can imagine.
  11. Think the world of someone. If you think the world of someone, you like them very much or are fond of them.
  12. To die for. If someone is to die for, it is a very good person or very attractive person and you want to have a relationship with that person.

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MAINTAINING COMMUNICATION

  1. In the loop. If someone is in the loop, they are part of a group of people who have been informed about a particular issue, thing or activity.
  2. Keep someone posted. If you keep someone posted, you continue giving them the latest information or news about a particular issue, situation or activity.
  3. Touch base. If you touch base with someone, you contact them, often when you have not spoken to them or seen them for a long time.
  4. Break the ice. If a person, an event or activity breaks the ice, they make people feel more relaxed and comfortable in a social situation. 

MEMORY, THINKING, REMEMBERING AND FORGETTING

  1. A mind/brain/head/memory like a sieve. If you have a mind like a sieve, you have a bad memory and you often forget things.
  2. At/in the back of my mind. If something is at the back of your mind or in the back of your mind, you are aware of it, even though it is not the main thing you are thinking about.
  3. Off the top of your head. If you say that you are commenting on something off the top of your head, you mean that what you are about to say is an immediate reaction and it is not a carefully considered opinion.
  4. On the tip of your tongue. If something such as a word, answer or name is on the tip of your tongue, you know it and can almost remember it but not quite.
  5. Rack your brain(s). If you rack your brain, you think very hard about something or try very hard to remember it.
  6. Ring a bell. If something rings a bell, it is slightly familiar to you and you know you have heard it before,
  7. Bear/keep something in mind. If you tell someone to bear something in mind or keep something in mind, you are reminding or warning them about something important that they should remember.
  8. Cross your mind. You suddenly think of something.
  9. Food for thought. If something gives you food for thought, it makes you think about an issue.
  10. Rack your brains. If you rack your brain, you think very hard about something or try very hard to remember it.

NOT THINKING LOGICALLY OR CONFUSED

  1. A gut reaction. An immediate and strong reaction, without thinking about something or being aware of the reasons.
  2. Lose the plot. If someone loses the plot, they become confused or crazy, or no longer know how to deal with a situation.
  3. Off/out of your head. If you say that someone is off their head or out of their head, you mean that they are very strange, foolish or dangerous.
  4. In two minds. British. American version: “Of two minds”. If you are in two minds about something, you are not able to reach a decision or opinion about something.

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MONEY

  1. A small fortune. A small fortune is a very large amount of money. 
  2. Rolling in it/Rolling in money. If you are rolling in it or rolling in money, you are very rich.
  3. Cost an arm and a leg. If something costs an arm and a leg, it costs a lot of money. 
  4. Down the drain. If time, money, resources or work has gone down the drain, it has been wasted or lost. 
  5. Feel the pinch. If a company or you feel the pinch, you are now having to spend more money on essential things that used to be cheaper or more affordable. 
  6. Have deep pockets. If a company or you have deep pockets, you have a lot of money. 
  7. In the red. If a company or you are in the red, you do not have money and most likely you owe money. 
  8. Make ends meet. If someone or a group of people finds it difficult to make ends meet, they find it difficult to pay for the things they need because they do not have much money. 
  9. On a shoestring. If someone does something on a shoestring, they are on a small budget and do it using a small amount of money. 
  10. Out of pocket. If someone is out of pocket after an event, an activity or after paying for an unexpected situation or bill, they have less money than they should have. 
  11. There is no such thing as a free lunch. You can say “There is no such a thing as a free lunch” if you want to express that you cannot expect to get free things for nothing in return; which is not necessarily always the case. 
  12. Tighten your belt. If someone tightens their belt, they make an effort to spend less money. 

PRIORITIES

  1. Cross that bridge when you come to it. If you say I will cross that bridge when I come to it, you mean that you will deal with a problem or issue, or if, it happens. 
  2. Cut to the chase. If you cut to the chase, you start talking about or dealing with what is important, instead of less important things. 
  3. On/onto the back burner. If you put a project or issue on or onto the back burner, you decide not to do anything about it until a later date.
  4. The tip of the iceberg. If something is the tip of the iceberg, it is a small but very visible part of a very large problem or a very serious situation. 
  5. Up in the air. If an important decision or plan is up in the air, it means that it has not been prioritised yet and/or it has not been decided or arranged yet.

PROGRESS

  1. Gain ground. If you or something gains ground, you make progress and become more important or more powerful. 
  2. Get to grips with something. If someone gets to grips with something, they start to deal with a problem/issue effectively.
  3. Get your act together. If someone gets their act together, they organise themselves effectively so that they can deal successfully with things. 
  4. In the pipeline. British. American version: “In the works”. If a task or activity is in the pipeline, it is being planned or currently under development. 
  5. Light at the end of the tunnel. If there is light at the end of the tunnel, there is hope that a difficult situation might be coming to an end. 
  6. Make headway. If someone makes headway, they make progress with something that they are trying to achieve. 
  7. On a roll. If someone is on a roll, they are making great progress and experiencing success. 
  8. On the right track. If you or something is on the right track, you are performing or developing in a way that is likely to be successful. 

Not progressing but it is not a failure yet:

  1. A dead end. You can use a “dead end” to talk about a situation in which you cannot make any more progress. You can also use dead-end to describe a boring job situation that will never lead to anything more interesting or successful. 
  2. Barking up the wrong tree. If you are barking up the wrong tree, you are following the wrong course of action because the information you have or your beliefs are not correct. 
  3. Go around in circles. If you go around in circles or go around in circles, you are not achieving much because you keep trying to deal with the same issue or problem.
  4. In the doldrums. If someone, a company or an economy is in the doldrums, they are not successful and are not making any progress. 
  5. Put something on hold. If someone puts a task or an activity on hold, they decide not to do it or not to continue doing it until a later time. You can also say that something is on hold. 

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RELATIONSHIPS

  1. Break the ice. If a person, event, or activity breaks the ice, it makes people feel more relaxed and comfortable in a social situation. 
  2. Get off the wrong foot/Start off the wrong foot. If you get off on the wrong foot or start off on the wrong foot; you badly start a relationship, task, job or activity. 
  3. Get on like a house on fire. If two people get on like a house on fire, they quickly become close friends.
  4. Get on someone’s nerves. If someone or something gets on your nerves, they irritate you. 
  5. Give someone the cold shoulder/Get the cold shoulder. If someone gives you the cold shoulder, they deliberately stop being friendly to you and ignore you.
  6. Go back a long way. British. You use this idiom when you have known someone for a long time. American version: “Go way back”.
  7. Hit it off. If two people hit it off when they first meet, they like each other and get on well together. 
  8. Leave someone in the lurch. If someone leaves you in the lurch, they put you in a difficult situation by suddenly disappearing or stopping helping you.
  9. Look the other way. If someone looks the other way, they deliberately ignore something bad that is happening when they should be trying to deal with it or stop it. 
  10. On the rocks. A relationship that is experiencing many issues and is likely to end
  11. On the same wavelength. If two people are on the same wavelength, they understand each other well because they share the same attitudes, interests and/or opinions. 
  12. Save face. If someone saves face, they do/say something so that people continue to respect them so their reputation is not damaged. Generally is used when someone is defeated in a battle or competition, fired or sacked from a job and that person has the opportunity to say they just left the battle or left the job. 
  13. Sparks fly. If sparks fly between two people, they get angry with each other and argue. 
  14. There are plenty more fish on the sea. If you say “There are plenty of more fish on the sea” or “There are other fish on the sea”, you are expressing that there are many other people to have a relationship with. 
  15. Treat someone like dirt. If a person treats someone like dirt, they treat them very badly. 
  16. Your own flesh and blood. If someone is your own flesh and blood, they are a member of your family. 

RESPONSIBILITY

  1. Pass the buck. If someone says you are passing the buck, they are saying you do not want to take responsibility for a problem and that you expect someone else to solve it. 

SADNESS

  1. A shoulder to cry on. A shoulder to cry on is someone who is sympathetic to you when you are sad or upset and listens when you talk about your problems or worries. 
  2. Break someone’s heart. If you break someone’s heart, you make them very unhappy by ending a relationship with them or saying that you do not love them or you no longer love them. A fact or a situation can also break your heart if it makes you very sad. 
  3. Burst someone’s bubble. If someone or something bursts your bubble, they stop you from being so happy or satisfied. 
  4. Down in the dumps/In the dumps. If someone is down in the dumps or in the dumps, they feel depressed. 
  5. Get on top of you. If something gets on top of you, it makes you feel sad or upset and you are not able to deal with it. 
  6. Look on the bright side. If someone looks on the bright side, they try to be cheerful about a bad situation by concentrating on the few good things in it or by thinking about how it could have been even worse. You can also say: “a bright side of” a bad situation. 
  7. Not a happy bunny. If someone says you are not a happy bunny, they say that you are annoyed or unhappy about something. You can also say that someone is not a happy camper. 

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SAFETY AND RISK

  1. A close shave.  If you have a close shave, you very nearly have a bad accident or very nearly suffer a defeat. 
  2. A safe bet/good bet. If something is a safe bet or a good bet, it is a sensible or useful thing to do or use. You can also say that something is a safer bet, a better bet, someone’s safest bet or someone’s best bet. 
  3. By the skin of your teeth. If someone does something by the skin of their teeth, you just manage to do it but nearly fail.
  4. In safe hands. If you or something is in safe hands, you or something is being looked after by someone who will make sure you or something is not harmed or damaged. 
  5. Playing with fire. If someone plays with fire, they are doing something that has big risks and it is likely to cause problems. 
  6. Play safe/play it safe. If someone plays safe or plays it safe, they do not take any risks.
  7. Put all your eggs in one basket. If someone puts all their eggs in one basket, they put all their efforts, money or resources into one activity, task, action, goal or plan and will not be able to do anything if it fails. 
  8. Stick your neck out. If someone sticks their neck out, they say something that other people are afraid of saying, even though it may generate problems or trouble for them. 
  9. Take your life in/into your hands. If someone takes their life in/into their hand when they do something, they take a lot of risks when they do it. 
  10. The coast is clear. If the coast is clear, you can do something because nobody is there to see you doing it. 
  11. To be on the safe side. If someone does something to be on the safe side, they do it to protect themselves from harm or trouble, although it is unlikely to be necessary.
  12. Skating on thin ice. If you are skating on thin ice, you are doing something that could have unpleasant consequences. 

STARTING

  1. Set/start the ball rolling. When you set/start the ball running, you start doing something with the expectation other people will join and do the same as you.
  2. Hit the ground running. if you hit the ground running, you effectively start working successfully into something with great energy and enthusiasm.
  3. In business. If you say that you are in business, you mean that you can start doing something because you have everything ready for it. 
  4. From scratch/Start something from scratch. If you do something or start something from scratch, you create something completely new, rather than adding to something that already exists.
  5. Up and running. If a plan, system or business is up and running, it has already started and is functioning successfully.

wow!!

I am surprised, you have already checked out 300 English language idioms!!

That’s crazy!

You are an idiom-addictive machine 🙂

And you want more…

Okay

Because I just want you to speak like a native English speaker, I am about to give you the last idioms to wrap up this popular list.

Ready?

There you go…

STOPPING

  1. Call it a day. If you call it a day, you decide to stop what you are doing because you are tired of it or because it is not successful.
  2. Call it quits. If you call it quits, you decide to stop doing something or stop being involved in an activity. 
  3. Cut your losses. If you cut your losses, you decide to stop spending time, resources, energy or money in an activity or a situation on which you already have spent a lot of time/energy/resources/money with no success. 
  4. Enough is enough. People say “enough is enough” when they think that something, usually something bad or unpleasant should stop. 
  5. Grind to a halt. If a process or an activity grinds to a halt, it gradually becomes slower or less active until it stops.
  6. Knock something on the head. If you knock something in the head, you stop doing it or decide not to do it.
  7. Nip something in the bud. If you nip a bad situation or a bad behaviour in the bud, you stop it at an early stage.

SUCCESS

  1. Bring the house down. If someone’s performance brings a house down, the audience claps and cheers loudly for a long time because they like the performance so much. 
  2. Move up in the world/Gone up in the world/Come up in the world. If you have moved up in the world, you are richer and more powerful than you used to be and have a higher social status. 
  3. On top of something.
  4. Save the day. If you or something saves the day in a situation that seems likely to fail, you or something manages to make it successful. 
  5. Touch and go. If a competition or an activity is “touch and go”, there is no certainty about the happening or success of it.
  6. Win hands down/Beat someone hands down. If someone wins a contest or a competition hands down, they win easily and clearly.
  7. With flying colours. If someone wins something or passes an exam with flying colours, they have achieved it easily and are very successful. 
  8. Work like a charm. If something works like a charm, it works as expected, it is very successful or effective.

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TRUSTING INFORMATION

  1. Hear something through/on the grapevine. If you hear something through the grapevine or on the grapevine, you are told a piece of news informally by someone who was told it by someone else.
  2. From the horse’s mouth. If you get a piece of information from the horse’s mouth, you get it directly from someone who is involved in it and knows the most about it.
  3. In black and white. If you say that something is in black and white, you have evidence or written proof that something is true, clear or must be obeyed.

UNDERSTANDING CORRECTLY

  1. Get the hand of something. If you get the hang of an activity/task, you learn how to do it well.
  2. Get the picture. If you get the picture, you understand what is happening in a situation or what has been explained to you.
  3. Get your head around something. If you get your head around or round a fact or an idea, you succeed in understanding it or accepting it.
  4. Hit the nail on the head. If someone hits the nail on the head, they successfully describe a problem, situation or issue very precisely.
  5. On the same wavelength.
  6. Put two and two together. If you put two and two together, you correctly guess the truth about something from the information that you have.
  7. Put two and two together and make five. When you guess something more exciting or interesting than the truth.
  8. Read between the lines. If you read between the lines, you understand what someone really means, or what it is really happening in a situation, even though it is not stated openly or officially.
  9. Take something onboard. If you take an idea, a suggestion or a fact on board, you understand it or accept it and/or you are happy to review it.
  10. Up to speed. If you are up to speed, you have all the latest information about something.

NOT UNDERSTANDING

  1. Not have a clue. If you do not have a clue or have no clue about something, you do not know anything about it, or you have no idea what to do about it.
  2. Get the wrong end of the stick. If you get the wrong end of the stick or “get hold of the wrong end of the stick”, you completely misunderstand a situation or something that is said to you.
  3. A grey area. British. When the meaning or purpose of something is not that clear. American version: “A gray area”
  4. Jump to conclusions. If someone jumps to conclusions or “leaps to conclusions”, they decide too quickly that something is true, when they do not know all the facts.
  5. Go in one ear and out the other. If something that you tell someone goes in one ear and out of the other, they pay no attention to it or forget about it immediately.
  6. At cross purposes. If two people are at cross purposes, they think they are talking about or trying to do the same thing as each other. It also means when feeling you are on the same page with someone but actually, you both have different aims, goals or purposes.
  7. Get your wires/lines crossed. If you get your wires crossed or get your lines crossed, you are mistaken about what someone else means or trying to convey.

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CONCLUSION

Adding idioms to your marketing campaigns and materials can offer a layer of depth and relatability to your marketing and communication efforts.

Use idioms thoughtfully within your marketing and copywriting.

When using top popular idioms, marketers need to be aware of cultural sensitivities, potential misinterpretations, and appropriateness for their target audience.

Sometimes, idioms may not directly translate or may not be well-known in certain regions, so make sure idioms usage aligns with your marketing communication goals.

Using idioms can surely be a powerful tool in your marketing, helping you connect with your customers and fans on a deeper level and make your brand more memorable.

Next > The importance of words in life

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THE TOP 100 MOST COMMON ENGLISH IDIOMS

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