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List of idioms in the English language
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List of idioms in the English language

This list is incomplete. You can help Wikipedia by adding to it.

A list of idioms can be useful, since the meaning of idioms can not always be deduced by knowing the meaning of the individual words that make them up. For example, someone could know what a bucket is and also know what to kick something means, but they might not know that to "kick the bucket" means to die. Here is a list of idioms with their meanings:

Table of contents
1 A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
2 A black look
3 A rolling stone gathers no moss
4 A tempest in a teapot
5 Arm and a leg (to pay)
6 Bad
7 Ball and chain
8 Bat out of Hell (like a)
9 To bear fruit
10 Beat around the bush
11 Black-hearted
12 Black sheep
13 Boot out
14 Break a leg
15 Bull in a china shop
16 Burning the candle at both ends
17 Buy the farm
18 Can of worms
19 Can't see the forest (or wood) for the trees
20 Can't see your nose in front of your face
21 Cat got your tongue
22 Cat nap
23 Change horses in midstream
24 Cut off your nose to spite your face
25 Dark horse
26 Devil's Advocate
27 Have one's cake and eat it too
28 Feel blue
29 Five finger discount
30 He who pays the piper calls the tune
31 Juggling picked onions
32 Kick the bucket
33 Killing two birds with one stone
34 Loan shark
35 Not playing with a full deck
36 Nuts
37 Nuts on
38 Over the hill
39 Push up daisies
40 Reading between the lines
41 Red light district
42 Red tape
43 Right under your nose
44 Rooted to the spot
45 Six of one, half-a-dozen of another
46 Soup to Nuts
47 Sour grapes
48 Still waters run deep
49 Swan Song
50 Swim with the fishes
51 Take a seat
52 Taken to the cleaners
53 The cat's out of the bag
54 The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence
55 The Powers That Be
56 To be catty
57 To pocket
58 To turn turtle
59 Toe the line
60 Two bricks short of a load
61 Up a creek without a paddle
62 Water under the bridge
63 What goes around comes around
64 What's good for the goose is good for the gander
65 Why have a dog and bark yourself
66 Why pay for the cow when the milk is free
67 See Also

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

It is better to have a small accomplishment, already performed, instead of a larger, hoped for, but still unattained, achievement. (Don't take a risk; "Take the money and run!")

A black look

Giving someone a look of malice; "a dirty look" (also an idiom).

A rolling stone gathers no moss

A person who does not settle in any place for long enough to develop roots or meaningful connections.

A tempest in a teapot

A fuss being made about an insignificant matter.

Arm and a leg (to pay)

An extremely high price.

Bad

(chiefly US) Very good.

Ball and chain

(1) Something unhelpful, or an unhelpful situation that cannot be left; (2) husband or wife.

Bat out of Hell (like a)

Very quickly.

To bear fruit

To come to profitable conclusion or to produce some worthwhile thing.

Beat around the bush

Procrastinate or hesitate, mainly when one does not want to say something.

Black-hearted

Someone who has no compassion.

Black sheep

An ostracized or ill-fitting member of a family or group. ("Uncle Ned is the black sheep of the family.")

Boot out

To eject a person from a group or society against their wishes.

Break a leg

Good luck, especially used to wish luck to stage performers before an opening.

Bull in a china shop

A person with no tact who upsets others or upsets plans; a very clumsy person.

Burning the candle at both ends

someone who has to much going on.

Buy the farm

To die.

Can of worms

A situation that is hard to deal with, especially one that comes about unexpectedly and intractably.

Can't see the forest (or wood) for the trees

Losing sight of the big picture by getting mired down in details.

Can't see your nose in front of your face

Being oblivious to something in plain view.

Cat got your tongue

Asked of someone rendered speechless to emphasize their inability to speak.

Cat nap

A short sleep taken during the day. However, this may not necessarily qualify as an "idiom", as the meaning is apparent to some; cats tend to sleep for short intervals (naps) at various times throughout a twenty-four hour period, whereas humans generally sleep for a solid one-third fraction of each day and do not typically "nap" in a catlike manner. Thus, sleeping in this manner is to "nap like a cat", or to take a "cat nap".

Change horses in midstream

Make new plans or choose a new leader in the middle of an important activity.

Cut off your nose to spite your face

To take rash or single-minded action that hurts your own cause in the end.

Dark horse

To be unfavored to win or succeed.

Devil's Advocate

To argue a point of view that is not necessarily one's own, but for the sake of fairness. To play "the devil's advocate" in a debate is to ensure that some attempt was made to hear a side that might otherwise have gone unrepresented.

Have one's cake and eat it too

To attempt to get all the positive aspects of something while avoiding any negative but usually occurring aspects.

Feel blue

Feeling sad, down, or depressed.

Five finger discount

To take without paying, to steal. (Also known as shoplifting).

He who pays the piper calls the tune

To be able to contol the details of a situation by virtue of being the one who bears the cost or provides for others.

Juggling picked onions

carrying out a hazardous/difficult task.

Kick the bucket

To die.

Killing two birds with one stone

completing two tasks with one process or action.

Loan shark

A predatory lender, usually one that charges inordinately high interest.

Not playing with a full deck

Someone who is eccentric, mad or wildly unconventional, bordering on crazy.

Nuts

(1) (
adj) Crazy, insane. (2) Foolhardy, reckless. (3) Used to express displeasure, either as a general interjection ("Nuts!") or directed at a person or thing ("Nuts to you!"). (See: Battle of the Bulge)

Nuts on

(The meaning of this idiom has not yet been provided. If you know what this means, please add it.)

Over the hill

To be past one's prime, old, a senior citizen. A person has reached his/her peak of physical or employment capabilities and is starting the downhill slide.

Push up daisies

To be dead.

Reading between the lines

Inferring information not explicitly stated.

Red light district

An area of town where sex industry workers ply their trade.

Red tape

Bureaucratic paperwork, usually in large amounts and being difficult to finish yet seemingly pointless in nature.

Right under your nose

Something so obvious that it is easily overlooked.

Rooted to the spot

One that has not moved out of the place where the person has been for a long time. Both in physical, and in mental situations.

Six of one, half-a-dozen of another

Two things that are essentially the same and so there is no real choice to be made.

Soup to Nuts

From beginning to end; from raw materials to a completed projects.

Sour grapes

To decide that the attainment of something you have been thwarted from getting is not worth it after all and probably inferior in quality anyway. (Aesop's Fables: The Fox and the Grapes)

Still waters run deep

Quiet people are often thoughtful.

Swan Song

A final appearance; a theatrical or dramatic farewell (from a legendary belief that swan would sing its own dirge as they died)

Swim with the fishes

To die, especially to be murdered and have your body disposed of, often in a body of water. (See also "sleeping with the fish")

Adapt to the group.

Take a seat

A command to sit down

Taken to the cleaners

Defrauded, robbed, cheated, conned.

The cat's out of the bag

A secret or hidden thing has been discovered.

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence

Someone else's situation appears better than your own because you see the positive in theirs and the negative in yours most clearly.

The Powers That Be

Generic term for people who are in charge of something. Often used either derisively or when the actual people are not known. Usually capitalized.

To be catty

To be antagonistic, usually applied to women.

To pocket

To attempt to steal by slipping something unnoticed into a concealed place (pocket, purse, jacket, etc.).

To turn turtle

To capsize.

Toe the line

To follow rules and regulations faithfully. To be careful to never commit any transgressions. To conform, particularly to conform to onerous or odious demands through loyalty.

Two bricks short of a load

Not possessing all of one's mental faculties; i.e., crazy or stupid. AKA "two bricks shy of a load". The general form "N Xs short of a Y", where N is a small number and X is an item in a set Y, provides endless recognizable variations. Examples: "two chairs short of a set" (Gilmore Girls, "Emily in Wonderland"); "One Can Short of a 6 Pack" (Da Yoopers album).

Up a creek without a paddle

To be in an untennable position. To have no recourse.

Water under the bridge

Something that has happened in the past and now has little or no importance. A dismissal of prior offenses or transgressions. Generally said after emotional conflicts.

What goes around comes around

You will eventually have to face the consequences of your actions towards others as people tend to behave toward you as you have behaved toward others.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander

If something is good for one person, it is good for everyone

Why have a dog and bark yourself

If you have a team or are in charge of a group of people, it means, why not delegate work down to them, dont do everything yourself. if im wrong, please correct me!

Why pay for the cow when the milk is free

Don't provide people with something sought after without requiring of them the commitment or responsibility that should go along with getting said benefit -- usually said to women who provide sexual favors in a relationship without being married or requiring commitment.

See Also