400 Important Idioms for exams

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About English Idioms

Introduction

Idioms are a crucial component of everyday English language, encompassing proverbs and expressions. They hold significant importance in various competitive exams, including those offered by Olympiadtester. Olympiadtester is your go-to website, providing comprehensive resources that include over 1000 idioms, along with their meanings and illustrative examples.

Understanding idiomatic expressions is essential, as they often diverge from their literal interpretations. Familiarizing yourself with the meaning and usage of each idiom may seem like a substantial effort, but it can be an enjoyable learning journey, especially when you compare English idioms to those in your native language.

Proficiency in using common idioms and expressions can greatly enhance your English language skills, making your communication sound more natural and native. It's advisable to master a selection of these phrases. The following tables categorize idioms based on their prevalence in American English. Starting with the commonly used English idioms is recommended, as they frequently appear in American movies, TV shows, and visits to the United States. Once you've gained confidence in those, you can progress to the remaining idioms. Notably, all the idioms presented here are contemporary and commonly used, allowing you to confidently utilize them with native English speakers from various English-speaking nations.

1. Most commonly used English idioms

Idiom 1 - A blessing in disguise

Meaning: Something that initially seems unfortunate or negative, but later turns out to be beneficial or advantageous.

Sentence example 1: Losing my job was a blessing in disguise because it led me to start my own successful business.

Sentence example 2: Missing the train turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I avoided a major accident that happened later on the same route.

Idiom 2 - A dime a dozen

Meaning: Something that is very common and easy to find.

Sentence example 1: In this city, coffee shops are a dime a dozen.

Sentence example 2: Those cheap souvenirs are a dime a dozen at the tourist shops.

Idiom 3 - Beat around the bush

Meaning: Avoiding the main topic or not getting to the point in a conversation.

Sentence example 1: Instead of beating around the bush, just tell me what you want to ask.

Sentence example 2: Stop beating around the bush and give me a direct answer.

Idiom 4 - Better late than never

Meaning: It's better for someone or something to be late than never to arrive or to happen.

Sentence example 1: He finally apologized for his rude behavior—better late than never, I suppose.

Sentence example 2: The project is taking longer than expected, but at least we're making progress. Better late than never.

Idiom 5 - Bite the bullet

Meaning: To face a difficult situation with courage and determination, even if it's unpleasant.

Sentence example 1: I knew the surgery would be painful, but I had to bite the bullet and get it done.

Sentence example 2: It's not easy, but we'll have to bite the bullet and lay off a few employees to keep the company afloat.

Idiom 6 - Break a leg

Meaning: A phrase used to wish someone good luck, especially before a performance or important event.

Sentence example 1: You're going to do great on stage tonight! Break a leg!

Sentence example 2: Break a leg at your job interview—I'm sure you'll impress them.

Idiom 7 - Call it a day

Meaning: To stop working or end an activity for the day.

Sentence example 1: It's getting late, let's call it a day and continue tomorrow.

Sentence example 2: We've accomplished a lot, so I think we can call it a day and relax.

Idiom 8 - Cut somebody some slack

Meaning: To give someone a break or show them some leniency, especially in a challenging situation.

Sentence example 1: She's been dealing with a lot lately, so let's cut her some slack if she seems a bit off.

Sentence example 2: I made a mistake on that report, but I hope you'll cut me some slack considering the workload.

Idiom 9 - Cutting corners

Meaning: Doing something in a quick or cheap way, often sacrificing quality or safety.

Sentence example 1: They've been cutting corners on the construction project, and now there are structural issues.

Sentence example 2: The company faced financial troubles after cutting corners to reduce production costs.

Idiom 10 - Get out of hand

Meaning: To become difficult to control or manage.

Sentence example 1: The party got out of hand when some uninvited guests showed up.

Sentence example 2: The situation at work got out of hand, and now there's a need for intervention.

Idiom 11 - Get something out of your system

Meaning: To do something you've been wanting to do in order to satisfy a strong urge or curiosity.

Sentence example 1: I needed to get that bungee jumping experience out of my system once and for all.

Sentence example 2: She traveled to Europe to get her wanderlust out of her system before settling down.

Idiom 12 - Get your act together

Meaning: To organize yourself and improve your behavior, performance, or situation.

Sentence example 1: If you want to succeed in school, you need to get your act together and start studying seriously.

Sentence example 2: After a period of chaos, she finally got her act together and became more focused on her goals.

Idiom 13 - Give someone the benefit of the doubt

Meaning: To trust someone and accept their explanation or behavior without being skeptical or critical.

Sentence example 1: I don't think he's lying. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt until we have more information.

Sentence example 2: She arrived late to the meeting, but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume there was a valid reason.

Idiom 14 - Go back to the drawing board

Meaning: To start a task or project over again from the beginning because it has failed or isn't satisfactory.

Sentence example 1: The initial design didn't work, so we'll need to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan.

Sentence example 2: The first draft of the manuscript had many issues, so the author decided to go back to the drawing board and revise it.

Idiom 15 - Hang in there

Meaning: To persevere and stay strong during a difficult or challenging situation.

Sentence example 1: It's tough right now, but hang in there—you'll get through it.

Sentence example 2: She's been working hard to improve her skills. Hang in there, and you'll see progress.

Idiom 16 - Hit the sack

Meaning: To go to bed or go to sleep.

Sentence example 1: I'm exhausted. I think I'll hit the sack early tonight.

Sentence example 2: After a long day, I can't wait to hit the sack and get some rest.

Idiom 17 - It's not rocket science

Meaning: It's not very difficult or complex to understand.

Sentence example 1: Cooking a basic meal isn't rocket science—I'm sure you can do it.

Sentence example 2: Figuring out the solution to this math problem is challenging, but it's definitely not rocket science.

Idiom 18 - Let someone off the hook

Meaning: To release someone from blame or responsibility for something.

Sentence example 1: I decided to let him off the hook and not hold a grudge against him.

Sentence example 2: The manager let her off the hook for the mistake, understanding that everyone makes errors sometimes.

Idiom 19 - Make a long story short

Meaning: To summarize a long or detailed story to its essential points.

Sentence example 1: To make a long story short, I ended up adopting a stray kitten I found on the street.

Sentence example 2: After many twists and turns, she decided to quit her job. To make a long story short, she's starting a new career.

Idiom 20 - Miss the boat

Meaning: To miss an opportunity or fail to take advantage of something.

Sentence example 1: I missed the boat on buying that stock when its value was low.

Sentence example 2: She wanted to participate in the workshop, but she missed the boat because the registration deadline had passed.

Idiom 21 - No pain, no gain

Meaning: You have to endure some difficulties or challenges in order to achieve something valuable or significant.

Sentence example 1: Working out at the gym is tough, but remember, no pain, no gain.

Sentence example 2: She's practicing for hours every day to improve her piano skills—no pain, no gain.

Idiom 22 - On the ball

Meaning: Being alert, attentive, and quick to understand or respond.

Sentence example 1: She's always on the ball in meetings, ready to provide solutions to challenges.

Sentence example 2: The team was on the ball and prepared for any unexpected changes during the event.

Idiom 23 - Pull someone's leg

Meaning: To tease or joke with someone in a playful or humorous way.

Sentence example 1: Are you serious, or are you just pulling my leg about that incredible story?

Sentence example 2: He claimed to have won a million dollars, but we all knew he was pulling our leg.

Idiom 24 - Pull yourself together

Meaning: To regain control of your emotions, thoughts, or behavior, especially after a difficult or stressful situation.

Sentence example 1: After the breakup, she needed some time to pull herself together and move forward.

Sentence example 2: Take a deep breath and pull yourself together before going into the interview room.

Idiom 25 - So far so good

Meaning: Everything is progressing well up to this point.

Sentence example 1: We've completed the first phase of the project—so far so good.

Sentence example 2: The patient's recovery has been steady. The doctor says, "So far so good."

Idiom 26 - Speak of the devil

Meaning: Used when someone mentioned a person who then appears unexpectedly.

Sentence example 1: We were just talking about you, and here you are—speak of the devil!

Sentence example 2: I was thinking about calling her, and then she called me. Speak of the devil!

Idiom 27 - That's the last straw

Meaning: The final problem or annoyance that makes a situation unbearable.

Sentence example 1: I've tried to be patient, but this is the third time this week he's been late. That's the last straw.

Sentence example 2: She's already dealt with so much stress, and now her computer crashed—that's the last straw for her.

Idiom 28 - The best of both worlds

Meaning: To enjoy the advantages of two different things at the same time.

Sentence example 1: Working remotely allows me to spend time with my family and be productive. It's the best of both worlds.

Sentence example 2: Living in the suburbs gives us access to nature and the city. We have the best of both worlds.

Idiom 29 - Time flies when you're having fun

Meaning: Time seems to pass quickly when you're enjoying yourself.

Sentence example 1: We spent the weekend at the amusement park, and time flew by. Time flies when you're having fun.

Sentence example 2: I didn't realize how late it was. Time flies when you're having a great conversation.

Idiom 30 - To get bent out of shape

Meaning: To become very upset, angry, or annoyed about something.

Sentence example 1: Don't get bent out of shape if things don't go as planned. It's not a big deal.

Sentence example 2: He got bent out of shape when he found out that his favorite restaurant was closed for the day.

Idiom 31 - To make matters worse

Meaning: Used to describe a situation where things become even more difficult or challenging than before.

Sentence example 1: First, I missed the bus, and then it started raining. To make matters worse, I forgot my umbrella.

Sentence example 2: The project was already behind schedule, and to make matters worse, the main computer crashed.

Idiom 32 - Under the weather

Meaning: Feeling unwell or not in good health.

Sentence example 1: I won't be able to attend the meeting today—I'm feeling a bit under the weather.

Sentence example 2: She didn't go to school because she was under the weather and had a fever.

Idiom 33 - We'll cross that bridge when we come to it

Meaning: We'll deal with a problem or challenge when it arises, not in advance.

Sentence example 1: What if we face a budget cut? We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Sentence example 2: Let's focus on completing the current task. The next steps will be addressed later—cross that bridge when we come to it.

Idiom 34 - Wrap your head around something

Meaning: To understand and comprehend a complex or difficult concept.

Sentence example 1: It took me a while to wrap my head around the new software's features.

Sentence example 2: The theory is so abstract, it's challenging to wrap your head around it at first.

Idiom 35 - You can say that again

Meaning: Used to express strong agreement with what someone has said.

Sentence example 1: This movie is fantastic! You can say that again—I loved every minute of it.

Sentence example 2: The concert was absolutely amazing! You can say that again—I've never seen such a great performance.

Idiom 36 - A penny for your thoughts

Meaning: A way of asking someone what they are thinking or feeling.

Sentence example 1: You look deep in thought—a penny for your thoughts?

Sentence example 2: You seem quiet today. A penny for your thoughts—anything bothering you?

Idiom 37 - Your guess is as good as mine

Meaning: To say that you have no more knowledge about something than the person asking.

Sentence example 1: How long will it take to fix the car? Your guess is as good as mine—I'm not sure.

Sentence example 2: What's the answer to question 4? Your guess is as good as mine—I'm struggling with that too.

Idiom 38 - Your mileage may vary

Meaning: Used to acknowledge that individual experiences may differ, and results may vary.

Sentence example 1: This restaurant has mixed reviews. Some love it, but your mileage may vary.

Sentence example 2: The new software works well for some users, but others encounter issues—your mileage may vary.

Idiom 39 - Zip your lip

Meaning: To tell someone to be quiet or stop talking.

Sentence example 1: The meeting is about to start—zip your lip and pay attention.

Sentence example 2: He kept interrupting during the presentation, so the teacher told him to zip his lip.

Idiom 40 - Actions speak louder than words

Meaning: What someone does is more important and has a stronger impact than what they say.

Sentence example 1: He keeps promising to help, but actions speak louder than words—I haven't seen any effort from him.

Sentence example 2: Instead of apologizing, show that you're sorry through your actions. Remember, actions speak louder than words.

2. Commonly used English idioms & expressions

Idiom 41 - A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

Meaning: It's better to hold onto something you have than to risk losing it by trying to get more.

Sentence example 1: I was thinking of quitting my job and searching for something better, but my friend reminded me that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Sentence example 2: He wanted to invest in a risky business opportunity, but his financial advisor advised him to consider that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Idiom 42 - A penny saved is a penny earned

Meaning: Saving money is as valuable as earning money.

Sentence example 1: Instead of spending all your income, try to save some. Remember, a penny saved is a penny earned.

Sentence example 2: He realized the importance of budgeting and cutting unnecessary expenses. After all, a penny saved is a penny earned.

Idiom 43 - A perfect storm

Meaning: A situation where several negative factors combine to create a particularly challenging or dangerous outcome.

Sentence example 1: The company faced financial difficulties, employee strikes, and a decrease in demand—a perfect storm of problems.

Sentence example 2: The simultaneous occurrence of bad weather, a power outage, and road closures created a perfect storm for travel disruptions.

Idiom 44 - A picture is worth 1000 words

Meaning: Visual information can convey complex ideas more effectively than words.

Sentence example 1: Instead of explaining the concept with words, I showed them a diagram—a picture is worth a thousand words.

Sentence example 2: The graph presented the data much clearer than a verbal explanation could have. Truly, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Idiom 45 - Actions speak louder than words

Meaning: What someone does is more important and has a stronger impact than what they say.

Sentence example 1: He keeps promising to help, but actions speak louder than words—I haven't seen any effort from him.

Sentence example 2: Instead of apologizing, show that you're sorry through your actions. Remember, actions speak louder than words.

Idiom 46 - Add insult to injury

Meaning: To make a bad situation worse by saying or doing something offensive in addition to what has already happened.

Sentence example 1: After he lost his job, his friends added insult to injury by making fun of his situation.

Sentence example 2: First, they forgot my birthday, and then they added insult to injury by cancelling our plans without notice.

Idiom 47 - Barking up the wrong tree

Meaning: To pursue a mistaken or misguided course of action or belief.

Sentence example 1: If you think I'm the one who took your book, you're barking up the wrong tree—I haven't even seen it.

Sentence example 2: The detective was barking up the wrong tree with his initial suspect—it turned out someone else was responsible for the crime.

Idiom 48 - Birds of a feather flock together

Meaning: People with similar interests or characteristics tend to associate with each other.

Sentence example 1: They're both into hiking and camping, so it's no surprise they became friends—birds of a feather flock together.

Sentence example 2: In the school's chess club, kids who enjoy playing chess are together—birds of a feather flock together.

Idiom 49 - Bite off more than you can chew

Meaning: To take on more responsibilities or commitments than one can handle.

Sentence example 1: I thought I could handle a part-time job while studying, but I bit off more than I could chew—it's overwhelming.

Sentence example 2: Starting two new projects at once was a mistake—I've bitten off more than I can chew.

Idiom 50 - Break the ice

Meaning: To initiate or facilitate conversation or social interaction in a situation where people are unfamiliar or tense.

Sentence example 1: At the networking event, she tried to break the ice by asking about people's interests and hobbies.

Sentence example 2: His jokes helped break the ice and ease the tension in the room during the meeting.

Idiom 51 - By the skin of your teeth

Meaning: To narrowly escape a difficult or dangerous situation.

Sentence example 1: I managed to catch the train by the skin of my teeth—it was about to leave when I arrived.

Sentence example 2: The team won the game by the skin of their teeth after a last-minute goal in overtime.

Idiom 52 - Comparing apples to oranges

Meaning: Comparing two things that are fundamentally different and cannot be reasonably compared.

Sentence example 1: Comparing the salaries of doctors and artists is like comparing apples to oranges—they have completely different career paths.

Sentence example 2: You can't compare the success of a new startup to that of a well-established company—it's like comparing apples to oranges.

Idiom 53 - Costs an arm and a leg

Meaning: To be very expensive.

Sentence example 1: The designer handbag she bought must have cost an arm and a leg—it's a luxury brand.

Sentence example 2: The repair for her car after the accident ended up costing her an arm and a leg.

Idiom 54 - Do something at the drop of a hat

Meaning: To do something immediately or without hesitation.

Sentence example 1: Whenever he calls, she's ready to help at the drop of a hat.

Sentence example 2: She's always eager to go on spontaneous trips—she'll pack her bags at the drop of a hat.

Idiom 55 - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Meaning: Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Sentence example 1: He believes in the golden rule—do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Sentence example 2: Teaching children to be kind and considerate is based on the principle of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Idiom 56 - Don't count your chickens before they hatch

Meaning: Don't make plans or assumptions based on something that hasn't happened yet.

Sentence example 1: He was already planning his vacation before winning the contest—don't count your chickens before they hatch.

Sentence example 2: She was excited about the promotion, but her friend reminded her not to count her chickens before they hatch.

Idiom 57 - Don't cry over spilt milk

Meaning: Don't be upset over something that has already happened and cannot be changed.

Sentence example 1: It's disappointing that you didn't get the job, but don't cry over spilt milk—focus on your next opportunity.

Sentence example 2: She was sad about breaking the vase, but her mother told her not to cry over spilt milk and helped her clean up.

Idiom 58 - Don't give up your day job

Meaning: Don't quit your current job to pursue something that might not be successful.

Sentence example 1: His singing is good, but he should probably not give up his day job just yet.

Sentence example 2: She wants to start her own business, but for now, she's not giving up her day job.

Idiom 59 - Don't put all your eggs in one basket

Meaning: Don't rely on a single opportunity or investment; diversify your resources.

Sentence example 1: He's investing in multiple stocks to follow the principle of not putting all his eggs in one basket.

Sentence example 2: She applied to different colleges because she didn't want to put all her eggs in one basket.

Idiom 60 - Every cloud has a silver lining

Meaning: There is something positive or beneficial in every difficult situation.

Sentence example 1: Losing his job gave him the opportunity to pursue his passion—every cloud has a silver lining.

Sentence example 2: Even though the project failed, she learned valuable lessons from it—every cloud has a silver lining.

Idiom 61 - Get a taste of your own medicine

Meaning: Experience the same treatment or behavior that you have given to others.

Sentence example 1: After teasing his friend for being late, he got a taste of his own medicine when his friend teased him the next day.

Sentence example 2: She used to ignore his messages, but now that he's doing the same, he's getting a taste of his own medicine.

Idiom 62 - Give someone the cold shoulder

Meaning: Ignore or treat someone with indifference.

Sentence example 1: She gave him the cold shoulder after their argument and didn't speak to him for days.

Sentence example 2: He felt hurt when his colleagues gave him the cold shoulder after the misunderstanding.

Idiom 63 - Go on a wild goose chase

Meaning: Pursue a fruitless or hopeless endeavor.

Sentence example 1: Searching for a solution in that direction will only lead you on a wild goose chase—it's not the right path.

Sentence example 2: He spent months researching a theory that turned out to be a wild goose chase with no concrete evidence.

Idiom 64 - Good things come to those who wait

Meaning: Patience and perseverance are rewarded with positive outcomes.

Sentence example 1: She patiently worked on her novel, and eventually, it got published—good things come to those who wait.

Sentence example 2: Waiting for the right opportunity paid off, and he finally got the job he wanted—good things come to those who wait.

Idiom 65 - He has bigger fish to fry

Meaning: He has more important matters to attend to.

Sentence example 1: I asked him for help, but he said he has bigger fish to fry right now and can't assist me.

Sentence example 2: She didn't have time to address minor issues because she had bigger fish to fry—important deadlines to meet.

Idiom 66 - He's a chip off the old block

Meaning: He closely resembles or behaves similarly to his parent.

Sentence example 1: Just like his father, he excels in music and sports—he's a chip off the old block.

Sentence example 2: She inherited her mother's artistic talents—truly a chip off the old block.

Idiom 67 - Hit the nail on the head

Meaning: Describe or identify something accurately.

Sentence example 1: He hit the nail on the head when he explained the root cause of the problem.

Sentence example 2: Her analysis of the situation hit the nail on the head—it perfectly captured the issue.

Idiom 68 - Ignorance is bliss

Meaning: Not knowing about a problem or situation can be more comfortable or less distressing.

Sentence example 1: She decided not to read the news for a while—ignorance is bliss when the headlines are so negative.

Sentence example 2: He's happier not knowing the details of the company's financial troubles—ignorance is bliss for him.

Idiom 69 - It ain't over till the fat lady sings

Meaning: Don't assume the outcome until everything is finished.

Sentence example 1: The game isn't decided until the final whistle—it ain't over till the fat lady sings.

Sentence example 2: He was trailing in the race, but he still had a chance to win because it ain't over till the fat lady sings.

Idiom 70 - It takes one to know one

Meaning: Someone recognizes a negative quality in another person because they possess the same quality themselves.

Sentence example 1: He accused her of being selfish, but she retorted, "It takes one to know one."

Sentence example 2: She pointed out his lack of punctuality, and he responded with, "It takes one to know one."

Idiom 71 - It's a piece of cake

Meaning: Something is very easy to do.

Sentence example 1: Solving that math problem was a piece of cake for him.

Sentence example 2: Cooking this recipe is a piece of cake—I've done it many times before.

Idiom 72 - It's raining cats and dogs

Meaning: It's raining heavily.

Sentence example 1: We were planning to have a picnic, but it's raining cats and dogs outside.

Sentence example 2: Don't forget your umbrella—it looks like it's going to rain cats and dogs today.

Idiom 73 - Kill two birds with one stone

Meaning: Accomplish two goals with a single action.

Sentence example 1: By studying during the commute, she killed two birds with one stone—learning and saving time.

Sentence example 2: He combined his workout with running errands, killing two birds with one stone.

Idiom 74 - Let the cat out of the bag

Meaning: Reveal a secret or confidential information.

Sentence example 1: He accidentally let the cat out of the bag and told her about the surprise party.

Sentence example 2: She let the cat out of the bag about the new product launch, spoiling the surprise.

Idiom 75 - Live and learn

Meaning: Gain knowledge and experience through life's lessons.

Sentence example 1: I didn't realize that painting requires patience, but after my first attempt, I guess it's live and learn.

Sentence example 2: He made a mistake in the presentation, but he's taking it as an opportunity to live and learn.

Idiom 76 - Look before you leap

Meaning: Consider the consequences before taking action.

Sentence example 1: He decided to look before he leaped into the investment opportunity.

Sentence example 2: She realized the importance of looking before you leap after making a hasty decision.

Idiom 77 - On thin ice

Meaning: In a risky or uncertain situation.

Sentence example 1: He felt like he was on thin ice when he had to present in front of the board of directors.

Sentence example 2: After missing several deadlines, she's definitely on thin ice with her supervisor.

Idiom 78 - Once in a blue moon

Meaning: Very rarely; almost never.

Sentence example 1: She visits her hometown once in a blue moon since she moved to the city.

Sentence example 2: We only have a family reunion once in a blue moon due to everyone's busy schedules.

Idiom 79 - Play devil's advocate

Meaning: Present arguments against an idea or proposal to stimulate critical thinking.

Sentence example 1: He played devil's advocate by pointing out potential drawbacks of the new strategy.

Sentence example 2: She's good at playing devil's advocate to ensure all aspects of the plan are considered.

Idiom 80 - Put something on ice

Meaning: Delay or postpone something.

Sentence example 1: They decided to put the project on ice until they secure additional funding.

Sentence example 2: The event was put on ice due to the unexpected weather conditions.

3. Popular English idioms and proverbs

Idiom 81 - A little learning is a dangerous thing

Meaning: A small amount of knowledge can be misleading or harmful.

Sentence example 1: His basic understanding of economics led him to invest in risky stocks, proving that a little learning is a dangerous thing.

Sentence example 2: Attempting complex repairs with just a little knowledge can result in costly mistakes—truly a case of a little learning being a dangerous thing.

Idiom 82 - A snowball effect

Meaning: A situation where something grows or expands rapidly and becomes increasingly larger or more significant.

Sentence example 1: The positive customer reviews had a snowball effect, attracting more and more customers to the store.

Sentence example 2: Once the initial excitement spread, the fundraiser experienced a snowball effect, with donations pouring in from various sources.

Idiom 83 - A snowball's chance in hell

Meaning: Almost no chance of success.

Sentence example 1: He thought he could convince the strict teacher to change the deadline, but he had a snowball's chance in hell.

Sentence example 2: The team had a snowball's chance in hell of winning against the defending champions.

Idiom 84 - A stitch in time saves nine

Meaning: Taking timely action to address a problem can prevent it from getting worse.

Sentence example 1: Fixing the small crack in the wall now is like a stitch in time—it can prevent the entire wall from collapsing later.

Sentence example 2: Repairing the leaky roof before the rainy season is a good example of a stitch in time saving nine.

Idiom 85 - A storm in a teacup

Meaning: Making a big fuss over a minor issue.

Sentence example 1: Their argument was just a storm in a teacup and didn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.

Sentence example 2: The disagreement between the coworkers turned into a storm in a teacup and created unnecessary tension in the office.

Idiom 86 - An apple a day keeps the doctor away

Meaning: Eating healthy and taking care of oneself can prevent illnesses.

Sentence example 1: She believes in the saying "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," so she includes fruits in her daily diet.

Sentence example 2: Incorporating vegetables and fruits into your meals can help you follow the principle of "An apple a day keeps the doctor away."

Idiom 87 - An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Meaning: Taking preventive measures is better than dealing with the consequences later.

Sentence example 1: Regular exercise and a balanced diet are essential for health; truly, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Sentence example 2: Maintaining your car with regular check-ups is an example of following the principle that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Idiom 88 - As right as rain

Meaning: In good health or excellent condition.

Sentence example 1: After a few days of rest, he felt as right as rain and was back to his usual energetic self.

Sentence example 2: The medication worked wonders, and she recovered quickly, feeling as right as rain in no time.

Idiom 89 - Bolt from the blue

Meaning: A sudden and unexpected event that surprises and shocks.

Sentence example 1: The news of his sudden resignation was a bolt from the blue, leaving everyone surprised.

Sentence example 2: The accident happened like a bolt from the blue, leaving the witnesses stunned and speechless.

Idiom 90 - Burn bridges

Meaning: To damage relationships, often irreparably, with actions that cannot be undone.

Sentence example 1: Quitting the job without notice can burn bridges and make it difficult to return to the company in the future.

Sentence example 2: She chose to speak ill of her colleagues, which ultimately burned bridges and caused her isolation at work.

Idiom 91 - Calm before the storm

Meaning: A period of tranquility or peace before a difficult or challenging situation arises.

Sentence example 1: The peaceful morning at the beach was the calm before the storm, as dark clouds gathered and a storm approached.

Sentence example 2: Enjoy the quiet moments now, as they might be the calm before the storm of upcoming deadlines and responsibilities.

Idiom 92 - Come rain or shine

Meaning: Regardless of the circumstances or weather conditions.

Sentence example 1: The event will take place, come rain or shine, so make sure you're prepared for any weather.

Sentence example 2: The mail carrier delivers mail to our doorsteps, come rain or shine, demonstrating dedication to their job.

Idiom 93 - Curiosity killed the cat

Meaning: Being too curious or nosy can lead to trouble or danger.

Sentence example 1: He couldn't resist snooping around the forbidden area, but curiosity killed the cat when he got caught.

Sentence example 2: She wanted to know all the details about her friend's surprise party, but she reminded herself that curiosity killed the cat.

Idiom 94 - Cut the mustard

Meaning: To meet expectations or perform well enough.

Sentence example 1: He thought he could handle the difficult task, but he couldn't cut the mustard and needed assistance.

Sentence example 2: The new employee showed determination and skill, proving that she could cut the mustard in her new role.

Idiom 95 - Don't beat a dead horse

Meaning: To continue discussing or pursuing a topic that has already been resolved or exhausted.

Sentence example 1: There's no point in arguing further; let's not beat a dead horse and move on to other matters.

Sentence example 2: The decision has been made, so discussing the alternatives now would be like beating a dead horse.

Idiom 96 - Every dog has his day

Meaning: Everyone experiences success or good fortune at some point.

Sentence example 1: He faced many failures before winning the competition, but every dog has his day, and he finally achieved victory.

Sentence example 2: Don't worry if things aren't going well right now; remember that every dog has his day, and your time will come.

Idiom 97 - Familiarity breeds contempt

Meaning: The more familiar you become with someone or something, the more likely you are to find faults or be critical.

Sentence example 1: At first, they were good friends, but familiarity bred contempt as they started noticing each other's flaws.

Sentence example 2: Spending too much time together can sometimes lead to familiarity breeding contempt, so it's important to maintain healthy boundaries.

Idiom 98 - Fit as a fiddle

Meaning: In excellent health and physical condition.

Sentence example 1: Despite his age, he's still fit as a fiddle and can easily participate in strenuous activities.

Sentence example 2: Regular exercise and a balanced diet have kept her fit as a fiddle throughout her life.

Idiom 99 - Fortune favours the bold

Meaning: Those who take risks or are courageous are more likely to achieve success.

Sentence example 1: She decided to start her own business, and her efforts paid off; truly, fortune favours the bold.

Sentence example 2: Sometimes, you need to step out of your comfort zone and seize opportunities, as fortune tends to favour the bold.

Idiom 100 - Get a second wind

Meaning: To renew energy, enthusiasm, or strength after a period of fatigue or decline.

Sentence example 1: Despite feeling tired during the race, he pushed through and got a second wind to finish strong.

Sentence example 2: After taking a short break, she returned to work with a refreshed mindset and got a second wind to tackle her tasks.

Idiom 101 - Get wind of something

Meaning: To hear or learn about something, often confidential or secret information.

Sentence example 1: The employees got wind of the upcoming layoffs, leading to rumors and uncertainty in the office.

Sentence example 2: She got wind of the surprise party plans, but she kept it a secret to avoid spoiling the surprise.

Idiom 102 - Go down in flames

Meaning: To fail spectacularly or disastrously.

Sentence example 1: Despite their best efforts, the project went down in flames due to lack of funding and support.

Sentence example 2: The business venture started with high hopes but ultimately went down in flames due to mismanagement.

Idiom 103 - Haste makes waste

Meaning: Rushing or acting too quickly can lead to mistakes and inefficiency.

Sentence example 1: He tried to finish the task quickly, but his haste made waste as he ended up making errors.

Sentence example 2: Taking a little more time to double-check the details can prevent the adage "haste makes waste" from becoming a reality.

Idiom 104 - Have your head in the clouds

Meaning: To be daydreaming or not paying attention to reality.

Sentence example 1: She often has her head in the clouds during class, which affects her performance in studies.

Sentence example 2: While driving, it's important to stay focused and not have your head in the clouds to ensure safety on the road.

Idiom 105 - He who laughs last laughs loudest

Meaning: The person who succeeds or has the final victory enjoys it most.

Sentence example 1: They mocked his efforts initially, but he proved himself, and now he who laughs last laughs loudest.

Sentence example 2: It's satisfying to see that he who laughs last laughs loudest after facing challenges and ultimately achieving his goals.

Idiom 106 - Hear something straight from the horse's mouth

Meaning: To hear information directly from a reliable or authoritative source.

Sentence example 1: I didn't believe the rumors until I heard it straight from the horse's mouth during the official announcement.

Sentence example 2: Instead of relying on secondhand information, I prefer to get the details straight from the horse's mouth.

Idiom 107 - He's not playing with a full deck

Meaning: Someone is not very intelligent or mentally unstable.

Sentence example 1: It's difficult to have a logical conversation with him; it's clear that he's not playing with a full deck.

Sentence example 2: Her behavior is erratic and unpredictable; some people believe she's not playing with a full deck.

Idiom 108 - He's off his rocker

Meaning: Someone is acting crazy or irrational.

Sentence example 1: His behavior lately has been so bizarre; it's like he's completely off his rocker.

Sentence example 2: People were startled by the things he was saying during the meeting; it's clear that he's off his rocker.

Idiom 109 - He's sitting on the fence

Meaning: Someone is undecided or not taking a side in a particular matter.

Sentence example 1: Instead of sharing his opinion, he's sitting on the fence and not expressing a clear stance on the issue.

Sentence example 2: It's frustrating when someone is sitting on the fence, especially during important discussions that require decisions.

Idiom 110 - It is a poor workman who blames his tools

Meaning: A skilled person should not blame their tools for their mistakes; it's their skill that matters.

Sentence example 1: Instead of blaming his equipment, he should focus on improving his skills; after all, it is a poor workman who blames his tools.

Sentence example 2: True professionals take responsibility for their work; they understand that it is a poor workman who blames his tools.

Idiom 111 - It is always darkest before the dawn

Meaning: Things often seem at their worst just before they improve.

Sentence example 1: Despite the challenges we're facing, remember that it is always darkest before the dawn, and things will get better.

Sentence example 2: The project's difficulties may seem overwhelming now, but keep in mind that it is always darkest before the dawn.

Idiom 112 - It takes two to tango

Meaning: A situation or conflict usually involves the actions or contributions of more than one person.

Sentence example 1: He can't solely be blamed for the argument; after all, it takes two to tango, and both parties were involved.

Sentence example 2: Resolving conflicts requires effort from all parties involved; remember, it takes two to tango.

Idiom 113 - Jump on the bandwagon

Meaning: To adopt a popular trend or join a popular movement.

Sentence example 1: Many companies are jumping on the bandwagon of sustainability by offering eco-friendly products.

Sentence example 2: People often jump on the bandwagon of new diets, hoping for quick results.

Idiom 114 - Know which way the wind is blowing

Meaning: To understand the current trends or prevailing opinions in a situation.

Sentence example 1: He always knows which way the wind is blowing in the office, which helps him make informed decisions.

Sentence example 2: Staying informed about market trends is essential for any successful business; you need to know which way the wind is blowing.

Idiom 115 - Leave no stone unturned

Meaning: To search thoroughly and exhaustively for something.

Sentence example 1: We need to leave no stone unturned to find the missing documents before the deadline.

Sentence example 2: The detective was determined to leave no stone unturned in solving the mysterious case.

Idiom 116 - Let sleeping dogs lie

Meaning: To avoid bringing up a potentially controversial or sensitive topic.

Sentence example 1: It's best to let sleeping dogs lie and not bring up past disagreements during a family gathering.

Sentence example 2: The issue was resolved, and it's better to let sleeping dogs lie rather than reopening old wounds.

Idiom 117 - Like riding a bicycle

Meaning: Something that is easy to remember or do, even after a long time of not doing it.

Sentence example 1: After not playing the piano for years, it was like riding a bicycle when she sat down to play again.

Sentence example 2: Swimming is a skill that stays with you; it's like riding a bicycle – once you learn it, you don't forget how to do it.

Idiom 118 - Like two peas in a pod

Meaning: Two people who are very similar in appearance, behavior, or attitudes.

Sentence example 1: The twins are like two peas in a pod – they even finish each other's sentences.

Sentence example 2: They have so much in common; they're like two peas in a pod.

Idiom 119 - Make hay while the sun shines

Meaning: Take advantage of favorable circumstances.

Sentence example 1: The weather is perfect for outdoor activities; let's make hay while the sun shines.

Sentence example 2: The market conditions are favorable for investment; it's a good time to make hay while the sun shines.

Idiom 120 - On cloud nine

Meaning: Extremely happy or elated.

Sentence example 1: She's been on cloud nine since she got the job offer of her dreams.

Sentence example 2: Winning the championship had him on cloud nine for weeks.

4. Critical English idioms for students

Few idioms might be repeated in this section.

Idiom - A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

Idiom 201: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Meaning: It's better to hold onto something you have for certain than to risk losing it by trying to get something better.

Example: I was offered a new job with a higher salary, but I decided to stay with my current job because a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Idiom 202: A dime a dozen.

Meaning: Something is very common and easy to find.

Example: In that area, coffee shops are a dime a dozen. You can find one on every corner.

A piece of cake - Idiom meaning and example

Idiom 203: A piece of cake.

Meaning: Something is very easy to do.

Example: Don't worry about the exam. It'll be a piece of cake for you.

Idiom 204: Actions speak louder than words.

Meaning: What someone does is more important than what they say.

Example: John promised to help, but he never showed up. Actions speak louder than words.

Idiom 205: All ears.

Meaning: Fully attentive and ready to listen.

Example: I'm all ears. Please go ahead and tell me your idea.

Idiom 206: All thumbs.

Meaning: To be clumsy or awkward.

Example: I'm all thumbs when it comes to knitting. I always end up tangled in the yarn.

Apple of the eye - Idiom meaning and example

Idiom 207: Apple of my eye.

Meaning: Someone or something that is very precious and loved.

Example: My granddaughter is the apple of my eye. I adore her.

Idiom 208: At the drop of a hat.

Meaning: Without hesitation or delay.

Example: If my friend needs help, I'll be there at the drop of a hat.

Idiom 209: Back to the drawing board.

Meaning: To start over because a previous attempt failed.

Example: Our project didn't meet the requirements, so it's back to the drawing board.

Barking up the wrong tree - Idiom meaning and example

Idiom 210: Barking up the wrong tree.

Meaning: To make a wrong assumption or pursue the wrong course of action.

Example: If you think I took your pen, you're barking up the wrong tree. I haven't seen it.

Idiom 211: Beat around the bush.

Meaning: To avoid addressing a topic directly or to speak indirectly.

Example: Stop beating around the bush and tell me what you really think.

Bite the bullet - Idiom meaning and example

Idiom 212: Bite the bullet.

Meaning: To face a difficult or unpleasant situation with courage and determination.

Example: I didn't want to go to the dentist, but I had to bite the bullet and make an appointment.

Idiom 213: Break a leg.

Meaning: A way to wish someone good luck, especially before a performance.

Example: Break a leg! I know you'll do great in your dance recital.

Butterfies in the stomach - Idiom meaning and example

Idiom 214: Butterflies in my stomach.

Meaning: The feeling of nervousness or excitement in the stomach.

Example: Before my presentation, I had butterflies in my stomach.

Idiom 215: By the book.

Meaning: To follow the rules and procedures precisely.

Example: The police officer conducted the investigation by the book.

Caught red handed - Idiom meaning and example

Idiom 216: Caught red-handed.

Meaning: To be caught in the act of doing something wrong or illegal.

Example: The thief was caught red-handed stealing from the store.

Idiom 217: Chew the fat.

Meaning: To have a casual and leisurely conversation.

Example: Let's grab a coffee and chew the fat for a while.

Idiom 218: Close but no cigar.

Meaning: To be very close to achieving a goal but falling short.

Example: You came close to winning the race, but no cigar.

Cold feet - Idiom meaning and description

Idiom 219: Cold feet.

Meaning: To feel nervous or anxious about doing something

Example: I was planning to ask her out, but I got cold feet at the last moment. 

Idiom 220: Costs an arm and a leg.

Meaning: Something is very expensive.

Example: The designer handbag looks nice, but it costs an arm and a leg.

Cry over spilled milk - Idiom meaning and example

Idiom 221: Cry over spilled milk.

Meaning: To dwell on past mistakes or misfortunes that cannot be undone.

Example: There's no use crying over spilled milk. We should focus on finding a solution instead.

Idiom 222: Cut corners.

Meaning: To do something in a hasty or careless manner to save time, money, or effort.

Example: I realized that I shouldn't cut corners when it comes to my work; quality is important.

Devil's advocate - Idiom meaning and example

Idiom 223: Devil's advocate.

Meaning: Someone who presents a counterargument or opposes the majority opinion for the sake of discussion.

Example: I'll play devil's advocate and present an alternative viewpoint to encourage critical thinking.

Idiom 224: Don't count your chickens before they hatch.

Meaning: Don't make plans based on something that hasn't happened yet.

Example: The deal isn't finalized yet, so don't count your chickens before they hatch.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket - idiom meaning and example

Idiom 225: Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Meaning: Don't risk everything on a single venture or possibility.

Example: It's wise to diversify your investments. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Idiom 226: Down to the wire.

Meaning: At the very last moment or deadline.

Example: They finished the project just down to the wire, but they managed to complete it on time.

Drop the ball - Idiom meaning and sentence

Idiom 227: Drop the ball.

Meaning: To make a mistake or fail to do something important.

Example: I apologize for dropping the ball on this project. I'll make sure it doesn't happen again.

Idiom 228: Easy does it.

Meaning: Proceed with caution or at a slow and careful pace.

Example: When lifting heavy objects, remember to take it easy does it to avoid injury.

Idiom 229: Every cloud has a silver lining.

Meaning: There is something positive or beneficial even in difficult or challenging situations.

Example: Though I lost my job, the silver lining is that it gave me the opportunity to pursue my passion.

Face the music - Idiom meaning and example

Idiom 230: Face the music.

Meaning: To accept the consequences of one's actions, especially when they are unpleasant.

Example: It's time to face the music and apologize for what you've done.

Idiom 231: Fit as a fiddle.

Meaning: To be in excellent physical health.

Example: Despite his age, he exercises regularly and is fit as a fiddle.

Idiom 232: Flash in the pan.

Meaning: Something that shows initial promise but fails to deliver long-term success.

Example: The band's first single was a hit, but their subsequent songs were a flash in the pan.

Get  a taste of your own medicine - Idiom meaning and example

Idiom 233: Get a taste of your own medicine.

Meaning: To experience the same negative treatment that one has given to others.

Example: He always mocked others, but now he's getting a taste of his own medicine.

Idiom 234: Get cold feet.

Meaning: To suddenly become hesitant or anxious about something previously planned.

Example: On the day of the presentation, she got cold feet and decided not to go on stage.

Idiom 235: Get the ball rolling.

Meaning: To initiate or start a process or activity.

Example: Let's get the ball rolling on this project by scheduling a kickoff meeting.

Idiom 236: Give the benefit of the doubt.

Meaning: To believe or trust someone's statement or explanation without proof or evidence.

Example: I'm not sure if he's telling the truth, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Idiom 237: Go back to the drawing board.

Meaning: To start over because the previous attempt or plan has failed.

Example: The prototype didn't meet our expectations, so we need to go back to the drawing board.

Go the extra mile - Idiom meaning and sentence

Idiom 238: Go the extra mile.

Meaning: To make an additional effort or go beyond what is expected.

Example: She always goes the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction.

Idiom 239: Grass is always greener on the other side.

Meaning: The belief that other people or places seem better or more desirable than one's current situation.

Example: She often dreams about living in a big city, but the grass is always greener on the other side.

Hit the nail on the head - idiom meaning and sentence

Idiom 240: Hit the nail on the head.

Meaning: To express or do something exactly right or accurately.

Example: Your analysis hit the nail on the head. You've identified the main issue.

Idiom 241: In hot water.

Meaning: In trouble or facing difficulties.

Example: He found himself in hot water after missing the deadline for the project.

Jump on the bandwagon - idiom meaning and example

Idiom 242: Jump on the bandwagon.

Meaning: To join or support a popular trend or opinion.

Example: Many companies are jumping on the bandwagon and incorporating sustainability practices.

Idiom 243: Keep your chin up.

Meaning: To remain optimistic and positive in difficult situations.

Example: Things may be tough right now, but keep your chin up. It will get better.

Kick the bucket - Idiom meaning and example

Idiom 244: Kick the bucket.

Meaning: To die.

Example: Unfortunately, our old cat kicked the bucket last night.

Let the cat out of the bag - idiom meaning and example

Idiom 245: Let the cat out of the bag.

Meaning: To reveal a secret or disclose information accidentally.

Example: She accidentally let the cat out of the bag about the surprise party.

Idiom 246: Make a long story short.

Meaning: To give a brief version of a story or explanation.

Example: I won the contest, but to make a long story short, I can't attend the award ceremony.

Idiom 247: Miss the boat.

Meaning: To miss an opportunity or be too late to take advantage of something.

Example: I wanted to invest in that company, but I missed the boat, and now it's too late.

Idiom 248: No pain, no gain.

Meaning: You have to work hard and endure difficulties to achieve success or progress.

Example: If you want to improve your fitness, remember: no pain, no gain.

On thin ice - Idiom meaning and example

Idiom 249: On thin ice.

Meaning: In a risky or precarious situation.

Example: After the argument, he's on thin ice with his boss.

Idiom 250: Piece of the pie.

Meaning: A share or portion of something, especially regarding success or profits.

Example: The new employee will have a piece of the pie if the company performs well.

Idiom 251: Pull someone's leg.

Meaning: To tease or joke with someone in a playful manner.

Example: Don't take him seriously; he's just pulling your leg.

Idiom 252: Put all your eggs in one basket.

Meaning: To risk everything on a single venture or possibility.

Example: It's not wise to put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to investing.

Idiom 253: Put your best foot forward.

Meaning: To make a good impression by doing one's best.

Example: When you go for the interview, remember to put your best foot forward.

Rain cats and dogs - idiom meaning and example

Idiom 254: Rain cats and dogs.

Meaning: To rain heavily.

Example: We had to cancel our plans because it was raining cats and dogs.

Idiom 255: Read between the lines.

Meaning: To understand the hidden or implied meaning in a message or situation.

Example: His words seemed innocent, but if you read between the lines, you could sense his disappointment.

Idiom 256: See eye to eye.

Meaning: To have the same opinion or agree on something.

Example: We don't always see eye to eye, but we respect each other's viewpoints.

Shoot youself in the foot - Idiom meaning and example

Idiom 257: Shoot yourself in the foot.

Meaning: To unintentionally do something that harms your own interests or goals.

Example: By not studying for the exam, you're shooting yourself in the foot.

Idiom 258: Spill the beans.

Meaning: To reveal a secret or confidential information.

Example: She couldn't keep it a secret any longer and spilled the beans about the surprise party.

Idiom 259: Straight from the horse's mouth.

Meaning: Information or news from a reliable or authoritative source.

Example: I heard it straight from the horse's mouth that the project is approved.

To take the bull by the horns - Idiom meaning and example

Idiom 260: Take the bull by the horns.

Meaning: To confront a difficult situation directly and with confidence.

Example: Instead of avoiding the problem, it's time to take the bull by the horns.

Idiom 261: The ball is in your court.

Meaning: It is now your turn or responsibility to take action.

Example: I've given you all the necessary information. Now the ball is in your court.

Idiom 262: The best of both worlds.

Meaning: To have the advantages or benefits of two different things at the same time.

Example: Working remotely allows me to have the best of both worlds—flexibility and productivity.

The early bird catches the worm - idiom meaning and example

Idiom 263: The early bird catches the worm.

Meaning: The person who takes action or gets started early has an advantage.

Example: I always wake up early to study. The early bird catches the worm, after all.

Idiom 264: The elephant in the room.

Meaning: An obvious or sensitive issue that people avoid discussing.

Example: We need to address the elephant in the room—our team's communication problems.

Idiom 265: The icing on the cake.

Meaning: Something additional that makes a good situation even better.

Example: Winning the tournament was amazing, but receiving a scholarship was the icing on the cake.

Idiom 266: The pot calling the kettle black.

Meaning: Criticizing someone for a fault or behavior that one possesses as well.

Example: Don't accuse me of being lazy. It's like the pot calling the kettle black.

Idiom 267: Through thick and thin.

Meaning: In good times and bad times, in all circumstances.

Example: I'll be there for you through thick and thin, no matter what happens.

Idiom 268: Throw in the towel.

Meaning: To give up or surrender.

Example: After multiple failed attempts, he decided to throw in the towel and quit.

Idiom 269: Turn a blind eye.

Meaning: To deliberately ignore or pretend not to notice something.

Example: The teacher turned a blind eye to the student's cheating during the exam.

When pigs fly - idiom meaning and example

Idiom 270: When pigs fly.

Meaning: Something that is highly unlikely or improbable.

Example: Sure, I'll believe that when pigs fly.

Idiom 271: You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Meaning: You can't have or enjoy two conflicting things at the same time.

Example: You want to save money and go on an extravagant vacation, but you can't have your cake and eat it too.

Idiom 272: You can't judge a book by its cover.

Meaning: You can't make assumptions about something or someone based on appearances alone.

Example: He may seem unapproachable, but you can't judge a book by its cover. He's actually very friendly.

Idiom 273: You scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours.

Meaning: A mutual exchange of favors or assistance.

Example: If you help me with this project, I'll help you with your presentation. You scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours.

Idiom 274: A leopard can't change its spots.

Meaning: People cannot change their fundamental nature or character.

Example: I don't trust him to be honest. A leopard can't change its spots.

Idiom 275: 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 his actions speak louder than words. He hasn't done anything to assist us.

Idiom 276: All ears.

Meaning: Listening attentively or being eager to hear something.

Example: I'm all ears. Tell me what happened at the meeting.

Idiom 277: All in the same boat.

Meaning: In the same difficult situation or circumstance.

Example: We're all in the same boat with this challenging project deadline.

Idiom 278: Apple of my eye.

Meaning: Someone or something that is cherished or highly valued.

Example: My daughter is the apple of my eye. I love her dearly.

Idiom 279: Back to square one.

Meaning: Returning to the starting point or having to start over.

Example: After the computer crash, we lost all our data and had to go back to square one.

Idiom 280: Barking up the wrong tree.

Meaning: Accusing or pursuing the wrong person or thing.

Example: If you think I stole your pen, you're barking up the wrong tree. I haven't seen it.

Idiom 281: Beat around the bush.

Meaning: Avoiding the main topic or issue and speaking indirectly.

Example: Stop beating around the bush and tell me what you really think.

Idiom 282: Bite the bullet.

Meaning: To face a difficult or unpleasant situation with courage and determination.

Example: I don't want to do it, but I'll have to bite the bullet and have that difficult conversation.

Idiom 283: Break a leg.

Meaning: A phrase used to wish someone good luck, especially before a performance or event.

Example: You're going to do great in the play. Break a leg!

Idiom 284: Burn the midnight oil.

Meaning: To work or study late into the night.

Example: The exam is tomorrow, so I'll be burning the midnight oil to prepare.

Idiom 285: Cry over spilled milk.

Meaning: To dwell on past mistakes or problems that cannot be undone.

Example: Yes, I made a mistake, but there's no use crying over spilled milk. Let's move forward.

Idiom 286: Cut corners.

Meaning: To do something in a careless or hasty manner to save time, effort, or money.

Example: They cut corners during the construction, and now the building is falling apart.

Idiom 287: Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Meaning: To not risk everything on a single venture or opportunity.

Example: Invest in different stocks to diversify your portfolio. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Idiom 288: Every cloud has a silver lining.

Meaning: There is something positive or beneficial in every difficult or negative situation.

Example: Although she lost her job, she discovered a new career opportunity. Every cloud has a silver lining.

Idiom 289: Fish out of water.

Meaning: Feeling uncomfortable or out of place in a particular situation or environment.

Example: Being at the fancy gala made him feel like a fish out of water, as he preferred casual events.

Idiom 290: Get a taste of your own medicine.

Meaning: To experience the same negative treatment that one has given to others.

Example: After all the pranks he pulled, he finally got a taste of his own medicine.

Idiom 291: Get cold feet.

Meaning: To become nervous or anxious and hesitate to do something previously planned.

Example: I was all set to give the presentation, but at the last moment, I got cold feet.

Idiom 292: Give the benefit of the doubt.

Meaning: To believe someone or something is innocent or worthy of trust, even in the absence of concrete proof.

Example: I don't have any evidence, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he didn't steal my wallet.

Idiom 293: Hit the nail on the head.

Meaning: To accurately or precisely describe or identify something.

Example: You hit the nail on the head with your analysis of the situation.

Idiom 294: In the blink of an eye.

Meaning: Extremely quickly or in an instant.

Example: The thief escaped in the blink of an eye before anyone could react.

Idiom 295: Kill two birds with one stone.

Meaning: To accomplish two things at the same time or with a single action.

Example: By exercising during my lunch break, I kill two birds with one stone—I stay fit and save time.

Idiom 296: Let sleeping dogs lie.

Meaning: To avoid interfering with a situation that is currently calm in order to prevent trouble.

Example: We had a disagreement, but let's let sleeping dogs lie and not bring it up again.

Idiom 297: Make a mountain out of a molehill.

Meaning: To exaggerate or overreact to a minor or insignificant issue.

Example: It's just a small scratch on the car. Don't make a mountain out of a molehill.

Idiom 298: Not see eye to eye.

Meaning: To have a difference of opinion or not agree on something.

Example: They often argue because they don't see eye to eye on most political issues.

Idiom 299: On cloud nine.

Meaning: To be extremely happy or elated.

Example: She was on cloud nine after receiving the job offer she had been dreaming of.

Idiom 300: Play devil's advocate.

Meaning: To take a contrary position or present opposing arguments for the sake of discussion.

Example: I don't necessarily agree with it, but let me play devil's advocate and present another perspective.

Idiom 301: Put your money where your mouth is.

Meaning: To back up your words with action or tangible support.

Example: If you believe in the cause, then put your money where your mouth is and make a donation.

Idiom 302: Raining cats and dogs.

Meaning: Raining heavily or pouring rain.

Example: We had to cancel our picnic because it was raining cats and dogs.

Idiom 303: Saved by the bell.

Meaning: Rescued or saved from a difficult or embarrassing situation at the last moment.

Example: Just as I was about to fail the test, the fire alarm went off, and I was saved by the bell.

Idiom 304: Smell a rat.

Meaning: To sense or suspect that something is wrong or dishonest.

Example: When he gave me such a generous offer, I smelled a rat and decided to investigate.

Idiom 305: Spill the beans.

Meaning: To reveal a secret or confidential information.

Example: She couldn't keep it to herself any longer and spilled the beans about their surprise party.

Idiom 306: Take the bull by the horns.

Meaning: To confront a difficult situation directly and with courage.

Example: Instead of avoiding the problem, it's time to take the bull by the horns and address it.

Idiom 307: The ball is in your court.

Meaning: It's now your turn or responsibility to take action or make a decision.

Example: I've presented my proposal. Now the ball is in your court to decide whether to accept it or not.

Idiom 308: The best of both worlds.

Meaning: To have the advantages or benefits of two different things at the same time.

Example: By working part-time, she enjoys the best of both worlds—career and personal life.

Idiom 309: The early bird catches the worm.

Meaning: The person who takes action or gets started early has an advantage.

Example: If you want to get the best deals, you should arrive early. The early bird catches the worm.

Idiom 310: The elephant in the room.

Meaning: An obvious or sensitive issue that people avoid discussing.

Example: Everyone knows about the budget cuts, but no one wants to address the elephant in the room.

Idiom 311: The icing on the cake.

Meaning: Something additional that makes a good situation even better.

Example: Winning the lottery was great, but getting to meet my favorite celebrity was the icing on the cake.

Idiom 312: The pot calling the kettle black.

Meaning: Criticizing someone for a fault or behavior that one possesses as well.

Example: She accused me of being lazy, but that's like the pot calling the kettle black.

Idiom 313: Through thick and thin.

Meaning: In good times and bad times, in all circumstances.

Example: We've been friends through thick and thin for over 20 years.

Idiom 314: Throw in the towel.

Meaning: To give up or surrender.

Example: After hours of trying to solve the puzzle, he finally threw in the towel and admitted defeat.

Idiom 315: Turn a blind eye.

Meaning: To deliberately ignore or pretend not to notice something.

Example: The manager decided to turn a blind eye to the employee's tardiness this time.

Idiom 316: When pigs fly.

Meaning: Something that is highly unlikely or improbable.

Example: Sure, I'll believe that when pigs fly.

Idiom 317: A watched pot never boils.

Meaning: Time feels slower when you're eagerly waiting for something.

Example: Stop checking the clock. A watched pot never boils.

Idiom 318: Actions speak louder than words.

Meaning: What someone does is more important than what they say they will do.

Example: He keeps promising to change, but actions speak louder than words.

Idiom 319: Add insult to injury.

Meaning: To make a bad situation even worse.

Example: He not only lost his job but also had his car stolen. That's adding insult to injury.

Idiom 320: All that glitters is not gold.

Meaning: Something may seem valuable or attractive, but it may not be as good as it appears.

Example: The luxurious lifestyle of celebrities may seem appealing, but all that glitters is not gold.

Idiom 321: An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Meaning: Eating healthy and taking care of oneself can help maintain good health.

Example: I make sure to have a nutritious breakfast every morning because an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Idiom 322: Back to the drawing board.

Meaning: To start over or go back to the beginning because the previous attempt or plan failed.

Example: Our initial design didn't work out, so we need to go back to the drawing board.

Idiom 323: Barking up the wrong tree.

Meaning: Accusing or pursuing the wrong person or thing.

Example: If you think I stole your phone, you're barking up the wrong tree. I haven't seen it.

Idiom 324: Beat a dead horse.

Meaning: To continue discussing or focusing on a topic that has already been resolved or concluded.

Example: We've already made our decision, so there's no need to beat a dead horse.

Idiom 325: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Meaning: Perception of beauty is subjective and varies from person to person.

Example: While some may find modern art beautiful, others may not. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Idiom 326: Better late than never.

Meaning: It's better to do something late than to not do it at all.

Example: He finally apologized for his behavior, though it was long overdue. Well, better late than never.

Idiom 327: Bite off more than you can chew.

Meaning: To take on more responsibility or commitments than one can handle.

Example: I volunteered for three different projects, but now I feel like I've bitten off more than I can chew.

Idiom 328: Break the ice.

Meaning: To initiate or start a conversation or interaction in order to make others feel more comfortable.

Example: I told a joke to break the ice and make everyone feel at ease during the meeting.

Idiom 329: Burn the midnight oil.

Meaning: To work or study late into the night.

Example: I have a big exam tomorrow, so I'll be burning the midnight oil to prepare.

Idiom 330: By the book.

Meaning: To do something strictly according to rules or guidelines.

Example: The police officer followed the procedures by the book when handling the case.

Idiom 331: Cross that bridge when you come to it.

Meaning: To deal with a problem or worry when it actually happens, not in advance.

Example: Don't worry about the presentation next week. Let's cross that bridge when we come to it.

Idiom 332: Cry over spilled milk.

Meaning: To dwell on past mistakes or problems that cannot be undone.

Example: Yes, I made a mistake, but there's no use crying over spilled milk. Let's learn from it and move on.

Idiom 333: Cut corners.

Meaning: To do something in a careless or hasty manner to save time, effort, or money.

Example: They cut corners during the construction, and now the building is falling apart.

Idiom 334: Devil's advocate.

Meaning: To present a contrary opinion or argument for the sake of discussion.

Example: I'll play devil's advocate and argue against your proposal to explore different perspectives.

Idiom 335: Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Meaning: To not risk everything on a single venture or opportunity.

Example: Diversify your investments to minimize risks. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Idiom 336: Down to the wire.

Meaning: Reaching the deadline or critical moment.

Example: We worked tirelessly to finish the project down to the wire.

Idiom 337: Draw the line.

Meaning: To establish a limit or boundary.

Example: I'm fine with helping out, but I have to draw the line when it starts affecting my own work.

Idiom 338: Drop the ball.

Meaning: To make a mistake or fail to do something important.

Example: The team dropped the ball and lost the game in the final minutes.

Idiom 339: Easier said than done.

Meaning: Something may sound easy in theory, but it is difficult to actually do.

Example: It's easy to say you'll quit smoking, but it's easier said than done.

Idiom 340: Every cloud has a silver lining.

Meaning: There is something positive or beneficial in every difficult or negative situation.

Example: Despite losing the competition, he gained valuable experience. Every cloud has a silver lining.

Idiom 341: Fortune favors the bold.

Meaning: Taking risks can lead to success or favorable outcomes.

Example: She decided to start her own business because she believes fortune favors the bold.

Idiom 342: Get a taste of your own medicine.

Meaning: To experience the same negative treatment or actions that one has inflicted on others.

Example: He was always teasing others, but now he's getting a taste of his own medicine.

Idiom 343: Get down to business.

Meaning: To focus on the matter at hand or start working seriously.

Example: We've had enough small talk. Let's get down to business and discuss the agenda.

Idiom 344: Give someone the benefit of the doubt.

Meaning: To believe someone is innocent or trustworthy without concrete evidence.

Example: Even though there are doubts, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he's telling the truth.

Idiom 345: Go the extra mile.

Meaning: To make additional effort or do more than what is expected.

Example: In customer service, it's important to go the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction.

Idiom 346: Haste makes waste.

Meaning: Rushing or acting too quickly can lead to mistakes or wasted efforts.

Example: Slow down and take your time. Remember, haste makes waste.

Idiom 347: Hit the road.

Meaning: To begin a journey or leave a place.

Example: It's getting late, so it's time to hit the road and start our trip.

Idiom 348: In the heat of the moment.

Meaning: Acting impulsively or without thinking due to strong emotions.

Example: I didn't mean to say those hurtful things. It was in the heat of the moment.

Idiom 349: It takes two to tango.

Meaning: Both parties are responsible for a situation or argument.

Example: They're having relationship issues, but it takes two to tango. Both need to work on it.

Idiom 350: Keep your chin up.

Meaning: To remain optimistic or resilient in difficult times.

Example: I know things are tough right now, but keep your chin up. It'll get better.

Idiom 351: Kill two birds with one stone.

Meaning: To accomplish two tasks or goals with a single action.

Example: By exercising during my lunch break, I can kill two birds with one stone—get fit and save time.

Idiom 352: Let the cat out of the bag.

Meaning: To reveal a secret or confidential information unintentionally.

Example: She let the cat out of the bag by accidentally mentioning the surprise party.

Idiom 353: Make a long story short.

Meaning: To summarize or give a brief version of a story or explanation.

Example: We had a series of unexpected events, but to make a long story short, we missed our flight.

Idiom 354: Miss the boat.

Meaning: To miss an opportunity or fail to take advantage of a situation.

Example: I wanted to invest in that company, but I missed the boat, and now it's too late.

Idiom 355: On thin ice.

Meaning: In a risky or precarious situation, where one's actions could have serious consequences.

Example: After the argument, their relationship was on thin ice, and any wrong move could end it.

Idiom 356: Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Meaning: From one difficult or challenging situation to an even worse one.

Example: He thought quitting his job would solve his problems, but he jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Idiom 357: Play devil's advocate.

Meaning: To present a contrary opinion or argument for the sake of discussion.

Example: Playing devil's advocate, I questioned the proposed solution to ensure all perspectives were considered.

Idiom 358: Pull someone's leg.

Meaning: To tease or joke with someone in a light-hearted manner.

Example: Don't take him seriously. He's just pulling your leg with those outrageous stories.

Idiom 359: Rain or shine.

Meaning: Regardless of the weather or circumstances; in any condition.

Example: The event will go on, rain or shine. We have contingency plans in place.

Idiom 360: Rome wasn't built in a day.

Meaning: It takes time and effort to achieve something significant.

Example: Learning a new skill takes patience and practice. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Idiom 361: Shoot for the moon.

Meaning: To set ambitious goals or aim for the highest possible achievement.

Example: Don't limit yourself. Shoot for the moon, and even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.

Idiom 362: Spill the beans.

Meaning: To reveal a secret or confidential information.

Example: I can't believe she spilled the beans about the surprise party. Now it's ruined.

Idiom 363: Take a rain check.

Meaning: To postpone or reschedule a plan for another time.

Example: I can't make it to the concert tonight, but can I take a rain check and join you next time?

Idiom 364: The ball is in your court.

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

Example: I've given you all the necessary information. Now the ball is in your court.

Idiom 365: The early bird catches the worm.

Meaning: Being prompt or taking action early gives an advantage.

Example: I always arrive at work early to get a head start. The early bird catches the worm.

Idiom 366: Throw caution to the wind.

Meaning: To take a risk or act without considering the potential consequences.

Example: Tired of playing it safe, she decided to throw caution to the wind and pursue her passion.

Idiom 367: Turn the tables.

Meaning: To change a situation or reverse the roles or positions.

Example: With a brilliant strategy, they turned the tables on their opponents and won the game.

Idiom 368: Up in the air.

Meaning: Uncertain or undecided; not yet resolved.

Example: The future of the project is still up in the air. We haven't made a final decision.

Idiom 369: When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Meaning: Adapt or conform to the customs or behavior of a particular place or group.

Example: I'm not used to eating with chopsticks, but when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Idiom 370: You can't judge a book by its cover.

Meaning: You cannot form an accurate opinion based solely on outward appearance.

Example: The old house may look run-down, but inside, it's beautiful. You can't judge a book by its cover.

Idiom 371: Cut to the chase.

Meaning: To get to the main point or the most important part of something.

Example: We don't have much time, so let's cut to the chase and discuss the key issues.

Idiom 372: Actions speak louder than words.

Meaning: What one does is more significant than what one says.

Example: He kept promising to change, but his actions spoke louder than words—he never followed through.

Idiom 373: All ears.

Meaning: Fully attentive and ready to listen.

Example: I have something important to tell you. Are you all ears?

Idiom 374: All in the same boat.

Meaning: In the same situation or facing the same challenges.

Example: We're all struggling with the new system. We're all in the same boat.

Idiom 375: Beat around the bush.

Meaning: To avoid addressing a topic directly or to delay the point.

Example: Stop beating around the bush and tell me what you really think.

Idiom 376: Bite the bullet.

Meaning: To face a difficult or unpleasant situation with courage and determination.

Example: The surgery is necessary, so she has to bite the bullet and go through with it.

Idiom 377: Break a leg.

Meaning: A way of wishing someone good luck, especially before a performance or event.

Example: You're going to do great in the audition! Break a leg!

Idiom 378: Call it a day.

Meaning: To decide to stop working or end an activity for the day.

Example: We've made good progress, but let's call it a day and continue tomorrow.

Idiom 379: Caught between a rock and a hard place.

Meaning: Facing a difficult decision with no easy or favorable options.

Example: She's caught between a rock and a hard place—either disappoint her family or give up her dreams.

Idiom 380: Cross your fingers.

Meaning: To hope for good luck or success.

Example: Cross your fingers and hope everything goes well in the job interview.

Idiom 382: Don't count your chickens before they hatch.

Meaning: Don't rely on something good happening until it actually happens.

Example: Yes, we're leading in the polls, but let's not count our chickens before they hatch.

Idiom 383: Down the drain.

Meaning: Wasted or lost; gone without any benefit.

Example: All our hard work went down the drain when the project got canceled.

Idiom 384: Drive someone up the wall.

Meaning: To annoy or irritate someone greatly.

Example: His constant whistling drives me up the wall—I can't concentrate.

Idiom 385: Every dog has its day.

Meaning: Everyone has their moment of success or triumph.

Example: Don't worry if you didn't win this time. Every dog has its day.

Idiom 386: Face the music.

Meaning: To confront the consequences of one's actions or decisions.

Example: You made a mistake, and now you have to face the music and accept the outcome.

Idiom 387: Fish out of water.

Meaning: To feel uncomfortable or out of place in a particular situation.

Example: Being at the fancy gala was like a fish out of water for the casual artist.

Idiom 388: Get off on the wrong foot.

Meaning: To start a relationship or situation with a bad or unfavorable beginning.

Example: Our initial disagreement made us get off on the wrong foot, but we later resolved .

Idiom 389: Give someone the cold shoulder.

Meaning: To intentionally ignore or be unfriendly toward someone.

Example: After the argument, she gave me the cold shoulder and refused to speak to me.

Idiom 390: Hit the nail on the head.

Meaning: To be exactly right or accurate about something.

Example: She hit the nail on the head with her analysis of the situation.

Idiom 391: In the same boat.

Meaning: In a similar situation or facing the same circumstances.

Example: We're all struggling with the workload. We're in the same boat.

Idiom 392: Keep your fingers crossed.

Meaning: To hope for good luck or success in a situation.

Example: I have an important job interview tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Idiom 393: Let the cat out of the bag.

Meaning: To reveal a secret or confidential information.

Example: She accidentally let the cat out of the bag about the surprise party.

Idiom 394: Make a long story short.

Meaning: To give a concise or summarized version of a story or explanation.

Example: To make a long story short, they missed their flight due to traffic.

Idiom 395: On cloud nine.

Meaning: To be extremely happy or joyful.

Example: Winning the championship put them on cloud nine.

Idiom 396: Piece of cake.

Meaning: Something that is very easy or simple to do.

Example: Don't worry about the test; it's a piece of cake.

Idiom 397: Rain on someone's parade.

Meaning: To spoil or ruin someone's plans or happiness.

Example: Don't be negative and rain on her parade. Let her enjoy her success.

Idiom 398: Spill the beans.

Meaning: To reveal a secret or confidential information.

Example: He couldn't keep it to himself anymore and spilled the beans about the surprise party.

Idiom 399: Take a rain check.

Meaning: To decline an invitation but suggest doing it at another time.

Example: I can't go to the movie tonight, but can I take a rain check and go next week?

Idiom 400: You're in hot water.

Meaning: To be in trouble or facing a difficult situation.

Example: He's in hot water after missing the deadline.

5. 1000 important English idioms for competitive exams


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