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Idiom Examples

An idiom is a combination of words that has a figurative meaning, due to its common usage. An idiom's figurative meaning is separate from the literal meaning or definition of the words of which it is made. Idioms are numerous and they can be found everywhere, in books, newspapers, magazines, radio, televisions and in conversations and in all languages around the world. Idioms are usually presumed to be figures of speech contradicting the principle of compositionally. These tricky figures of speech originate from older usages where the literal meaning of the words is somewhat different than what they suggest. Idioms are also effective in replacing a literal word or expression and there are times when they describe a word with its complete shades of meaning.

Idioms make it very complicated to learn a new languages because this type of jargon varies among select groups of people and speak different dialects. In Norway, the phrase "walking around hot porridge" is an idiom which means 'not getting to the point,' however in the United States a person would say, "beating around the bush." Both idioms mean the same thing even though they are worded differently.

Other common idioms are:

  • "High as a kite," which means to be drunk or under the influence of drugs.

  • "Rub someone the wrong way," which means to annoy or bother.

  • "Out of the blue." which means something unexpected has occurred.

A dirty look.
Meaning: A look of disapproval or malice.
Kids
Can of worms.
Can of worms.
Meaning: A situation that is hard to deal with, especially one that comes about unexpectedly and intractably. To "open a can of worms" is to get involved with something that is discomforting, hard to resolve, or not easily escaped (closing a container of worms, used as bait by fishermen, generally involves some tricky handling of the wriggling occupants)
Kids Animal Pictures
Go with the flow.
Meaning: To conform or go along with whatever happens.
Kids
Killing two birds with one stone.
Killing two birds with one stone.
Meaning: Completing two tasks with one process or action.
Kids Animal Pictures
Over the moon.
Meaning: To be very happy.
Kids
Wake up on the wrong side of the bed.
Wake up on the wrong side of the bed.
Meaning: To be very grumpy. Usually used in response to discovering someone is very grumpy. "Whoa! Looks like you woke up on the wrong side of the bed today!
Kids Pictures
Last straw.
Meaning: A problem or obstacle that may be trivial in itself, but causes cataclysmic failure because it pushes the total array of problems or obstacles to an intolerable level. Also referred to as the Straw that broke the camel's back, after the original proverb: a straw by itself has an insignificant weight, but enough of them together can be a crushing weight.
Kids
Nod off.
Meaning: To fall asleep gradually, perhaps reflecting the boredom of a lecture or presentation.
Kids
Whole nine yards.
Meaning: The entire amount, everything. Comes from the 9 yard machine gun belts used in some military aircraft during WWII etc. Gunners would say "I gave them (the enemy) the whole nine yards.
Kids
That was then, and this is now.
Meaning: To denote a change between the situation in the past and the current one.
Kids
Apple of your eye.
Meaning: Someone or something that one likes a lot or likes more than others.
Food
as cool as a cucumber.
As cool as a cucumber.
Meaning: To be calm, to be not nervous or anxious.
Food Pictures
As easy as apple pie.
Meaning: Very easy.
Food
As nutty as a fruitcake.
Meaning: Silly, crazy.
Food
As red as a cherry.
Meaning: bright red.
Food
As sour as vinegar.
Meaning: Sour and disagreeable.
Food
As sweet as honey/sugar.
Meaning: Very sweet.
Food
Bad egg/apple.
Meaning: A bad person.
Food
Idiom Meaning
What is an idiom?
An idiom is a group of words in current usage having a meaning that is not deducible from those of the individual words. For example, "to rain cats and dogs" - which means "to rain very heavily" - is an idiom; and "over the moon" - which means "extremely happy" - is another idiom. In both cases, you would have a hard time understanding the real meaning if you did not already know these idioms!
Idiom Examples
"It's raining cats and dogs" is a very popular idiom meaning that it's heavily raining.