Unlike a metaphor which invokes an image by using implicit comparisons or words, an idiom elaborates a message unrelated to the literal meaning of the actual words used, “An eye for an eye” for instance. In this article, you will discover 75 most common American Idioms and Phrases with their Meanings. To make things easier for you, I use an example for each idiom.
Here are 75 most Idioms and Phrases along with Meanings
- Come a cropper: To suffer some accident or misfortune; to fail.
Come a cropper in a sentence: She came a cropper on the stairs and broke her leg.
- Pay through the nose: To pay an exorbitant or excessive amount, either in money or in some other manner.
Pay through the nose in a sentence: “You’ll pay through the nose for this, you scoundrel,” Sexton whimpered.
- Come out of the closet: To tell others your homosexuality, bisexuality, or transness previously kept secret.
Come out of the closet in a sentence: Celine finally came out of the closet to her religious parents regarding her homosexual orientation.
- Add fuel to the fire: To worsen a conflict between people; to inflame an already tense situation.
Add full to the fire in a sentence: Instead of apologizing to his girlfriend he decided to add fuel to the fire.
- Cool as a cucumber: Self-possessed; Calm and composed even in difficult or frustrating situations.
Cool as a cucumber in a sentence: Rony is always calm and cool as a cucumber even in difficult time.
- A dime a dozen: Anything that is common, inexpensive, and easy to get or available anywhere.
A dime a dozen in a sentence: People with your skills are a dime a dozen these days.
- Get your act together: To become serious, organized, worthwhile.
Get your act together in a sentence: It didn’t look like he’d ever get his act together, but eventually the project got going.
- A hot potato: A controversial issue or situation that is awkward or unpleasant to deal with.
A hot potato in a sentence: The politician hastened to distance himself from that political hot potato.
- Bite off more than one can chew: To take on more responsibility than one can manage.
Example: “I think I bit off more than I could chew when I agreed to paint this house by myself.”
- Ace in the hole: A hidden or secret strength; an unrevealed advantage.
Ace in the hole in a sentence: Our ace in the hole left our opponents stupefied
- Give it a shot: Try or attempt (something); to give something a try.
Give it a Shot in a sentence: I don’t think it will work, but I suppose you could give restarting the computer a shot.
- In Hot Water: Being in trouble or a dangerous situation.
In hot water in a sentence: “Both students are in hot water from fighting.”
- All ears: Listening intently; fully focused or awaiting an explanation.
All ears in a sentence: I was all ears listening to his last words.
- Get your goat: To irritate someone. To make someone annoyed or angry:
Get your goat in a sentence: “Gavin may seem unflappable, but I know a way to get his goat.”
- An arm and a leg: Very expensive or costly; a large amount of money.
An arm and a leg in sentence: The vehicle costs him an arm and a leg.
- Miss the boat: To fail to take advantage of an opportunity; to overlook or be too late to pursue an option or course of action.
Miss the boat in a sentence: The price discount ended yesterday and I just missed the boat on a great deal.
- Mumbo jumbo – Any confusing or meaningless speech; nonsense, gibberish.
Mumbo jumbo in a sentence: 2 foreigners were speaking their Mumbo Jumbo at the park.
- Barking up the wrong tree: make the wrong choice; to ask the wrong person; to follow the wrong course.
Barking up the wrong tree in a sentence: Shut your mouth fool! You’re barking the wrong tree.
- Beating a dead horse: To uselessly dwell on a subject far beyond its point of resolution.
Beating a dead horse in a sentence: “Is it just beating a dead horse to ask for another recount of the votes?”
- Beat around the bush: To treat a topic but omit its main points, often intentionally or to delay or avoid talking about something difficult or unpleasant.
Beat around the bush in a sentence: “Stop beating around the bush and tell me what you want.”
- Bed of roses: A situation or activity that is comfortable or easy.
Bed of roses in a sentence: Serving God faithfully is not a bed of roses
- Better late than never: Something or someone outstandingly good, excellent, or wonderful.
Example: “It’s better to do something late, than to never do it at all.”
- Speak of the devil: Meaning someone one has been talking about has unexpectedly appeared.
Example: “Well, speak of the devil! We were just talking about you!”
- Bird brain: A person who is not too smart; a person who acts stupid.
Bird brain in a sentence: Pedro is a real birdbrain.
- Pulling Someone’s leg: To tease someone; to lead someone on; to goad someone into overreacting. It usually implies teasing or goading by jokingly lying.
Pulling your leg in a sentence: No, I’m just pulling your leg, it’s crucifixion really.
- Big fish in a small pond: someone is famous or well-known but are only so in their small town.
Example: “No doubt many would feel that being a big fish in a small pond for a small time is not enough.”
- Bite to eat: getting something to eat; generally, more than just one bite.
Bite to eat in a sentence: “I’ll go and get a bite to eat after school.”
- Bite the bullet: To endure a painful or unpleasant situation that is unavoidable.
Bite the bullet in a sentence: We have decided to bite the bullet and get it done now
- Burn the midnight oil: To work late into the night.
Burn the midnight oil in a sentence: He was burning the midnight oil to finish his paper.
- By the seat of one’s pants: To achieve through instinct or to do something without advance preparation.
Example: “Unlike Obama and his methodical process, McCain was flying by the seat of his pants.”
- By the skin of one’s teeth: Narrowly; barely. Usually used in regard to a narrow escape from a disaster.
Example: “I passed the test by the skin of my teeth.”
- Burst into tears: to begin crying all of a sudden.
Burst into tears in a sentence: He just bursts into tears for no apparent reason.
- Call a spade a spade: To speak the truth, even to the point of being blunt and rude.
Example: “Maybe God just calls a spade a spade, when the president talks to God.”
- Call it a day: To declare the end of a task.
Call it a day in a sentence: After 5 losses in a row, the boss decided to call it a day, and closed his company.
- Catch your eye: To capture someone’s attention.
Catch your eyes in sentence: The window display really catches my eye.
- Chew the fat: To chat idly or generally waste time talking.
Chew the fat in a sentence: We’re not supposed to waste time chewing the fat with the customers.
- Clam up: To become silent; to stop talking.
Clam up in a sentence: The suspect clammed up and refused to talk when he saw the police.
- Cold shoulder: To deliberately slight or snub someone. A deliberate act of disrespect.
Cold shoulder in a sentence: He got the cold shoulder he deserves from the betrayed friend
- Come what may: what will be will be no matter what happens.
Example: He promised to be there for the children, come what may.
- Couch potato: A person who spends a lot of time sitting or lying down, often watching television, eating snacks or drinking alcohol.
Couch Potato in a sentence: “If there was a prize for the best couch potato, my husband would win it.”
- Crocodile tears: Fake tears or drama tears; fake crying.
Crocodile tears in a sentence: It is not enough for us to weep crocodile tears over this affair.
- Cut the cheese: To fart.
Cut the cheese in a sentence: Hey, who cut the cheese? Wilkens!
- Cut the mustard: To perform well; to meet expectations, in a way to be good or effective enough.
Example: “Give me the bigger hammer. This little one just doesn’t cut the mustard.”
- Don’t count chickens before they hatch: Don’t make plans or assumption about something that does not have a definitively predetermined outcome.
Example: Nothing is certain yet; don’t count chickens before they hatch
- Drop a dime: To make a telephone call; to be an informant.
Drop a dime in a sentence: He was in the back dropping a dime on Ralph.
- Eat Your words: To regret or retract what you have said.
Eat your word in a sentence: “This time, you have to eat your words, because, like it or not, you lost.”
- Fit as a fiddle: In good physical health. Perfectly fit; in excellent condition or health.
Fit as fiddle in a sentence: I woke up this morning, feeling as fit as a fiddle.
- For a song: Almost free; very cheap.
For a song in a sentence: He bought the land for a song in 1984. Now it’s worth a fortune.
- From scratch: To make from original ingredients; to start from the beginning with no prior preparation.
From scratch in a sentence: He sat there Friday night and built an entire model ship from scratch.
- Get bent out of shape: To take offense; to get worked up, aggravated, or annoyed.
Get bent out of shape In a sentence: They stopped inviting him to the gatherings, and he really got bent out of shape about it.
- Gone South: having an unforeseen or chaotic result. Failure of an endeavor or some kind of loss.
Gone south in a sentence: GM stock profile continued going south for the third day in a row today.
- Grasp the nettle: To tackle a problem in a bold manner, despite the difficulty or complexity of doing so; to solve a problem despite short-term adverse consequences.
Grasp the nettle in a sentence: We need to grasp the nettle of prison reform.
- Have a blast: To have a good time; to enjoy oneself; to have a very fun or exciting time doing something.
Have a blast in a sentence: “Mario has a blast every time she goes to Disney World.”
- Have eyes bigger than one’s stomach: To take or ask for more food on your plate than you can eat; to be greedy.
Eyes are bigger than stomach in a sentence: You cannot eat the entire pizza; your eyes are bigger than your stomach.
- Have eyes in the back of one’s head: To be able to perceive things and events that are outside of one’s field of vision.
Example: “It’s so busy at our office you need eyes in the back of your head to work there!”
- Head over heels: Tumbling upside down; somersaulting. Hopelessly smitten, madly in love.
Head over heels in a sentence: She tripped and rolled head over heels down the hill.
- Heard it through the grapevine: To have learned something through gossip, hearsay, or a rumor.
Example: “I heard through the grapevine that she likes him.”
- Hit the ceiling/roof: To become enraged, possibly in an overreaction. To reactwithextreme
Hit the ceiling in a sentence: Mom will hit the ceiling when she finds out we broke the vase by playing ball in the house again.
- Hit the nail on the head: To identify something exactly; to arrive at exactly the right answer.
Example: He hit the nail on the head when he said the problem was the thermostat.
- Hit the road: To begin traveling in an automobile or other road vehicle.
Hit the road in a sentence: If we’re gonna make it by sunset, we’d better hit the road.
- Hit the Sack: To go to bed. Go to sleep.
Hit the sack in a sentence: “I’ve got a busy day tomorrow, so I think I’ll hit the sack.”
- Hit the Spot: be exactly what is required. To be just right.
Hit the spot in a sentence: Some ice cold lemonade would hit the spot on a warm afternoon.
- Hold all the cards: be in a very strong or advantageous position. To control a situation; to be the one making the decisions.
Example: “he held all the cards and made all the decisions”
- Jump Ship: To leave something, especially suddenly or rapidly.
Jump ship in a sentence: I couldn’t hack it as a teacher, so I jumped ship and flew back to Australia.
- Kick the bucket: an extremely informal way to describe death.
Kick the bucket in a sentence: The old cow kicked the bucket this morning.
- Kill two birds with one stone: To accomplish two different tasks at the same time in a single action
Example: Biking to work kills two birds with one stone; It saves money travelling and will help to lose weight.
- Let the cat out of the bag: reveal facts previously hidden such as secret, mistake or conspiracy,
Example: Dad let the cat out of the bag and told the kids their mom has terminal cancer.
- Off the Hook: Relieved of a duty, burden, responsibility, or pressure.
Off the Hook in a sentence: “Without any evidence, the police had to let the suspect off the hook.”
Once in a blue moon in a sentence: My dad uses this stereo once in a blue moon.
- The pot calling the kettle black: Used when someone making an accusation is equally as guilty as those being accused.
Example: Maria called me racist. This is the pot calling the kettle black.
- Piece of cake: A job, task or other activity that is pleasant – or, by extension, easy or simple.
Piece of cake in a sentence: I complete the exam in 25 minutes. That was a piece of cake.
- Push the Envelope: To approach, extend, or go beyond the limits of what is possible; to pioneer.
Push the Envelope in A Sentence: Wow! This new Jet design pushes the envelope.
- Raining cats and dogs: Raining very hard or strongly.
Raining cats and dogs in a sentence: “It’s raining cats and dogs and I don’t feel like going out.”
- Rock the boat: To do or say something that will upset people or cause problems.
Rock the boat in a sentence: Don’t rock the boat until we have full control of the situation.
- Spill the beans: To reveal a secret; to disclose.
Spill in the beans in a sentence: They had planned it as a surprise party, but somebody spilled the beans.
If you know another interesting idiom, kindly share it below with our readers.