English Idioms



An idiom is a group of words with a meaning that is different from the individual words and often difficult to understand from the individual words.

I chose to write about idioms because of two reasons which are English idioms  is an interesting and excited topic .Also, we can not translate  idiomatic expressions from our language because we may say something in English completely wrong.So,we need to when and where can we use idioms.

So, in my research I am going to talk about the meaning of idioms, kinds of Idioms, where and when to use idioms, some advices, examples.


The meaning of idioms:

It is important to realize that idioms are not only colloquial expressions and they appear in:

1)       Formal Style.

2)     Slang.

3)     Poetry.

4)    The language of Shakespeare and the Bible.

Now,what is an idiom?

It can be defined as a number of words which,when taken together,have a different meaning from the individual meanings of each word.

Kinds of idioms:

There are many different forms or structures of idioms.An idiom can have a regular structure, an irregular or even a grammatically incorrect structure.The clarity of meaning is not dependent on the ‘grammatical correctness’.For example:

1)Regular form:e.g meaning unclear,as in have a bee in one’s bonnet, cut no ice, bring the house down.

2)Irregular form:e.g meaning clear,as in give someone to understand, do someone proud, do the dirty on someone.

3)Irregular form:e.g meaning unclear, as in be at large, go great guns, be at daggers drawn.

Most idioms belong to the first group where the form is regular but the meaning unclear.Also,in this group some idioms are clearer than others. For example,the meaning of ”to give someone the green light can be guessed as ‘to give someone permission to start’. On the other hand, others are too difficult to guess because they have no association with the original meaning of the individual words. For example, to tell someone where to get off, to carry the can, to drop a brick, to call the shots.

Where and when to use idioms:

For all learners the main difficulties is knowing in which situations it is correct to use an idiom. A further difficulty is knowing whether an idiom is natural or appropriate in a certain situation. Examples of typical use in particular situations, such as in business contexts, are given and these should be studied carefully. Another difficulty is that of fixed idioms with variants. It is more important to be exact in one’s use of fixed idioms, as an inaccurate idiom may mean nothing to a native speaker.


                                                                      : Some advices

When you decide to use idioms, remember these things:

1) avoid using slang and taboo expressions until your mastery of the language is complete.

2)remember that it is extremely unwise to translate idioms into or from one’s native language.


Key words with idiomatic uses:

Adjectives and adverbs:

Examples Meaning Idiom No
Tack care,Ohood!That man is bad news. A person, often with criminal tendencies, who brings trouble to others Bad news 1
By the way,your new flat is a big hit with your parents. They think it’s perfect for you. Someone/something very popular with others A big hit 2
He travelled in India a good deal when he was young. Often, a lot A good deal 3
Come on,John.If you’re hard up again, I’ll pay for lunch. Be short of money Be hard up 4




Examples Meaning Idiom No
Don’t talk so loudly.There’s no need for all and sundry to hear our business. Everybody,all kinds of people All and sundry 1
Good!So all being well we’ll expect you on Sunday. If nothing unexpected or unfortunate happens. All being well 2
He was very curt and rather rude.He all but asked me to leave. Very nearly,almost All but 3
I’ve been working all hours recently to get my new novel finished. At all times whether very early or very late All hours 4
How many names have we got on the list?”Five hundred and sixtey,all told. Including all things/persons,having counted and included all. All told 5
The thieves stole money, jewellery,paintaings,silvers,fur coat and all. In addition,as well And all 6


Idioms with nouns and adjectives:

Noun phrases

Examples Meaning Idiom No
Salma ‘s got a new friend. I know, I’ve seen her. She’s a bit of all right. Something/someone that finds someone’s approval. A bit of all right 1
Change the spark plugs? Of course I can do it myself! It’s kids’ stuff. A very easy task that requires no effort. Kids’ stuff 2
After the gang had successfully broken into three banks, it was a piece of cake to break into a few private houses. A very easy task to do successfully. A piece of cake 3
We could visit the Railway Museum as well. According to this guidebook, it’s only a stone’s throw from here. A short distance A stone’s throw 4


Idiomatic pairs:

Examples Meaning Idiom No
I had a letter from Rod. He’s still very much alive and kicking on an Australian sheep farm. Well and active Alive and kicking 1
He doesn’t rush things. He’s a slow but sure worker and the end product is always worth waiting for. Slow but good Slow but sure 2
How do you manage to keep your house so spick and span with three children? clean and tidy Spick and span 3
No ifs and buts, just do the work and tell me when it’s finished. excuses Ifs and buts 4


Idioms with prepositions:


Examples Meaning Idiom No
Ted is careful not to serve drinks after hours. He would lose his pub licence. After the normally permitted business hours After hours 1
Paul’s working against the clock. The report has to be out by Tuesday lunchtime. Against time Against the clock 2
I can’t translate this document at sight. I shall need a dictionary. On seeing something At sight 3
Max has been improving since he came out of hospital, if only by degrees. Gradually,slowly,little by little By degrees 4


Idioms with key words from special categories:


Examples Meaning Idiom No
John’s a real busy bee today. She’s been rushing around all morning. A busy, active person who moves quickly from task to task. A busy bee 1
The doctor’s been on call all night.He must be dog tired but he’s still tacking surgery this morning. Very tired Dog tired 2




Examples Meaning Idiom No
I’ve paid off my overdraft and it’s a good feeling to be in the black again. Have money in one’s bank account,be in cedit. Be in the black 1
I’ve got a mathematical problem for you to use your grey matter on. One’s brain,intelligence,powers of reasoning Grey matter 2



Examples Meaning Idiom No
At one time I used to play tennis quite a lot. At a time in the past At one time 1
Father was tired after lunch, so he’s just tacking forty winks in his chair. A short sleep during the day(not usually in bed) Forty winks 2


Parts of the body

Examples Meaning Idiom No
I love your color scheme in this room. It’s very easy on the eye. Pleasant to look at Easy on the eye 1
I’m sorry I broke the vase. But keep your hair on! It isn’t the end of the world. Calm down, don’t get angry. Keep your hair on 2


Examples Meaning Idiom No
Grandfather’s making a wonderful recovery. His cheeks are getting rosier day by day! As each day passes Day by day 1
The first bus leaves at six o’clock and then on the hour. Every hour at exactly one o’clock, two o’clock etc. On the hour 2


Idioms with comparisons


Examples Meaning Idiom No
Billy was so tired after the birthday party. When I put him to bed he was out like a light in no time. Fall quickly into a deep sleep. Be out like a light 1
If you’ve ever been in a pub with Harry, you’ll know that he drinks like a fish. Drink large quantities of alcohol, especially beer. Drink like a fish 2



Examples Meaning Idiom No
Judy feels at a loose end, now that the term is over. Having nothing to do having time to waste At a loose end 1
Ruth didn’t want to chair the committee, but in the end we were able to persuade her. Finally, at last, after other things have happened. In the end 2
Our son’s behaviour at school has been a matter of concern to us for some time now Something to worry about A matter of concern 3
Frazer must be out of his mind to cancel the contract Be mad, crazy. Be out of one’s mind 4
Chris may have told you that he has paid all his debts, but in point of fact he still owes me four hundred pounds. In fact, in reality In point of fact 5
How about a nice hot cup of tea to warm you up? Oh, yes that would be jest the thing. Exactly the thing that is needed Jest the thing 6
Most old legends were handed down by word of mouth In a spoken, not written, form. By word of mouth 7
I’ll have a word with my wife, and I’ll tell you our decision tomorrow. Speak or discuss privately with someone Have a word with someone 8


Verbal idioms:


Examples Meaning Idiom No
The oral exam was no picnic. The professor asked me some very tricky questions. (informal) not be an easy or pleasant experience. Be no picnic 1
Could you let me have ten pounds over the weekend-or will it break the bank? Win or take all one’s /someone’s money. Break the bank 2
We are hoping to break ground with the new office complex within the month Make a start Break ground with something 3
I have crashed Steven’s car-but I haven’t broken the news to him yet Tell someone news which will affect him personally in a good or bad way Break the news 4
Whoever is responsible for this damage will certainly be brought to book Make someone explain his actions or conduct Bring someone to book 5
I have some exams in six weeks, so I shall be burning the midnight oil quite often. Work or study until late into the night Burn the midnight oil 6
He decided to come clean and tell the police that he had given the gang inside information Admit the truth, confess one’s guilt Come clean 7




In my research I found that idioms form an essential part of the vocabulary of English.We have to not keep learning the meaning of idioms only but we are responsible to know when and where to use them.

Really, I got benefit from my research and I hope anyone who reads my research to get benefit too and be interested on reading my research.


Exercises on Idioms:


Complete the sentences with the correct idiom in the correct form.


Call in, make it big, catch up, slow but sure, carry on, by degrees.

1. Peter was hoping to —————— in the fashion world, but he couldn’t get his designs manufactured.

2. A casual, relaxed person may be described as being—————–

3. Japanese is a difficult language to learn. At first you’ll only make progress———–

4. Please——————with your work .Don’t stop because of me.

5. I had to wait for over an hour in the doctor’s waiting room, but at least it gave me chance to —————— with some reading.

6. Can we ——————- at the chemist’s on the way to the bank? I need some cough medicine.

Key Answers:

1. make it big

2. slow but sure

3. by degrees

4. carry on

5. catch up

6.call in


1-Seidl,J.(1989).Exercise on Idioms.New York,USA:Oxford University Press.

2-Seidle,J.,&McMordie,W.,(1988).English Idioms.New York,USA:Oxford University Press.


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Color and your Personality


It shows that you are very social, assertive & energetic. But at the same time, you are also moody and impulsive. You feel deep sympathy for fellow human beings and are easily swayed. You are an optimist, but you are also a complainer and do not desist from voicing your complaints or discomforts


You are good natured, enjoy being with others and are swayed by outside opinions. You do good work, have strong loyalties, and are very good at heart.


You are a good citizen and a pillar of the community and are sensitive to social customs and etiquette. You are frank, moral and reputable. You make yourself a splendid teacher and feel deep affection for your family.


You are deliberate and introspective. You have conservative convictions and retreat to gentler surroundings in times of stress, but are sensitive to the feelings of others. You keep a tight rein on your passions and enthusiasms, are a loyal friend and lead a sober life. You nourish big dreams but do not act on them. Stupidity in others annoys you, as does superior intelligence.


You are very imaginative and have a strong urge to help the world. You are inclined to speak of lofty ideas without applying them in practical. Secretly, you are shy, wish to be respected, crave admiration for your wisdom and are a mental loner. You are a safe friend in whom people can confide their secrets and problems.

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Advantages and disadvantages of Content Analysis

Advantages of Content Analysis

  • looks directly at communication via texts or transcripts, and hence gets at the central aspect of social interaction
  • can allow for both quantitative and qualitative operations
  • can provides valuable historical/cultural insights over time through analysis of texts
  • allows a closeness to text which can alternate between specific categories and relationships and also statistically analyzes the coded form of the text
  • can be used to interpret texts for purposes such as the development of expert systems (since knowledge and rules can both be coded in terms of explicit statements about the relationships among concepts)
  • is an unobtrusive means of analyzing interactions
  • provides insight into complex models of human thought and language use
  • when done well, is considered as a relatively “exact” research method (based on hard facts, as opposed to Discourse Analysis).

Disadvantages of Content Analysis

  • can be extremely time consuming
  • is subject to increased error, particularly when relational analysis is used to attain a higher level of interpretation
  • is often devoid of theoretical base, or attempts too liberally to draw meaningful inferences about the relationships and impacts implied in a study
  • is inherently reductive, particularly when dealing with complex texts
  • tends too often to simply consist of word counts
  • often disregards the context that produced the text, as well as the state of things after the text is produced
  • can be difficult to automate or computerize
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The treasure

Sheik Ali is a rich man. He likes people and beneficent to the poor. One day, a poor boy went to him and asked him charity.

Sheikh Ali looked at the boy and said:” But I can see that Allah given you blessings. “The young man looked around and asked:” tow blessing! Where? ”

Sheik Ali answered: “Youth and health.” a boy sighed and said bitterly but:” I poor; I need money.

Money comes only through good work,” replied Sheik” Ali “It is worship that gets man closer to Allah. It provides man with good profit that honors and dignifies him. It helps countries progress.”

“But, it is said that you never let the poor down,” said the boy,”

I’m one of them?”

“No you are not. Sheikh Ali answer they were ill, helpless and unable to work.

The boy wept and asked sheik Ali to guide him to work that help him gain his living. Sheik Ali smiled asked him to come tomorrow and promised that one day he would find the treasure and become rich.

Next morning a boy went to sheik Ali palace.the gardener met him and explained to him that his work is to look after the trees and flowers in the orchard.

The boy worked actively till the sun was going down.

At the end of the day, sheik Ali called the boy and gave him a coin. The boy put the coin in his pocket. Sheikh Ali gave him another one and asked him to put it in a wooden box beside him. The boy went home happily. But he was surprised at the coin he put in the box.

A year passed by, and every day the boy did the same thing: he worked all the day in the orchard and, at the end of the day, he took two coins, put one in his pocket and the other in the wooden box.

One day, the boy said to sheik Ali” I have worked here for year. You promised me with treasure but I find nothing.

Sheik Ali smile. He brought the box and opened it. The boy looked inside and was very happy. He said “Here is a lot of money”  “Here is a lot of money”

Sheik Ali smiled and replied it is yours it is the treasure you wanted to find and dreamt of day and night.

I saved this money for you. “The boy want out reapting: it is really that work is treasure.”

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The pig and The jaguar

In an America farm . There was a flock of pigs. One of them was sad because his friends told him that he is ugly. So he decided to leave the farm.

While he was walking alone in the forest, he met a jaguar.

The jaguar shouted “Help me, please”

The pig replied “Who is there?”

The jaguar said “It is me A jaguar”

The pig saw the jaguar in a net and helped him

The jaguar said “Thank you my dear. I will never forget your help”

Then, The pig completed his way. Suddenly, the weather was changed and it was raining. The jaguar remembered that the pig is weak and looked for the pig to help him. He found that the pig was cold and he did net know where he had to go. The jaguar took him to a cave which was in the forest.

The pig said, “Thank you very much”

The jaguar replied, “Welcome, but I would like to ask you a question if you do not mind?”

The pig replied, “Sure, I do not mind”

The jaguar said, “Why are you here alone?”

The pig replied “I live in a beautiful farm but, I was sad because my friends told me that I am ugly so, I decide to leave the farm”.

The jaguar said, “You are not ugly, you have a soft heart and it makes you the most       beautiful person in the world”.

The pig said “Thank you my dear, I would like to be my friend?”

The jaguar replied, “I do not mind”

Then, they were friends for along time.

#The moral of a fable is “The internal beauty is more important than the external beauty”.

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