When I was growing up, my father would often excuse himself and say suddenly in the middle of a conversation, "I have to see a man about a dog." It was only years later that I finally understood what he meant. Most of us use idioms in our every day speech, though sometimes we may not even recognize them. Or at least until someone from a different generation or a different country points them out to us. Here is a list of our favorite idioms and what they mean.
Favorite idioms about food
Best thing since sliced bread = Something is really cool, awesome, effective, wonderful, inventive.
Toasty warm = Very warm.
Flat as a pancake = Squished!
Nutty as a fruitcake = Crazy.
Half-baked = An idea or something else that is not well-thought out or planned.
Speak of the devil = When someone you were just talking about walks into the room.
Take with a grain of salt = Don't believe everything you hear; you are being cautious in believing something.
Heard it straight from the horse's mouth = You heard it from the person being talked about or from an authority on the subject.
Bite your tongue = When you stop yourself from saying something you shouldn't, or when someone is telling you to stop talking or saying something you shouldn't.
Excuse my French = Forgive me for swearing.
A chip on your shoulder = Holding a grudge.
Head over heels = Excited and joyful—paired with "in love."
Knee Jerk Reaction = A quick and automatic response.
On pins and needles = Anxious or nervous about something, especially when waiting for something to happen.
Wear your heart on your sleeve = To show your emotions freely.
Out on a limb = To put yourself at risk for someone or something.
Saved by the bell = Something happened to prevent you from having to do something you didn't want to do.
Favorite idioms using animals
Barking up the wrong tree = You've got it all wrong.
Sick as a dog = Very ill.
Let sleeping dogs lie = Leave the issue alone (you might make it worse).
Don't give up your day job = You're pretty bad at this.
Jump the gun = Doing something too early or hastily.
Far cry from = Very different from.
Rule of thumb = The rule or the accepted manner of doing something.
Hit the sack= Go to bed.
A dime a dozen = Something that is common or cheap.
Once in a blue moon = Very rarely.
Hit the nail on the head = You've figured out the problem.
Go outside and see if it's raining = Leave me alone. I'm busy or you are very annoying.
And the best idioms of all, the book idioms
Don't judge a book by its cover = Don't judge something without knowing the whole story.
Take a page from someone's book = Copying what someone else is doing or following their example.
He/she's a closed book = You can't tell what he/she is thinking.
He/she is an open book = Everything in his/her life is open to almost everyone, or his/her face, actions, and intentions are easy to read.
Doing something by the book = To do everything with exactness, following all the rules.
Oldest trick in the book = Someone doing something that's not honest but that obviously worked in the past with many people.
What are some of your favorite idioms?
Of course there are many more idioms in the English language. What are some of your favorite idioms? Please share them in the comments below.
Oh, and the phrase I need to see a man about a dog? In case you don't know, it's a polite way of excusing yourself so you don't have to tell anyone what you're really going to do, usually something private like using the bathroom.
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