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17 Most Common English Idioms

 English Idioms

Every language has its own idioms and expression and the English language has plenty of idioms that is useful to learn.

An idiom is a phrase, saying, or a group of words with a metaphorical (not literal) meaning, which has become accepted in common usage.


Most common English idioms


Here are the most common English idioms and phrases that will enrich your English vocabulary and make you sound like a native speaker.

1. Smell a rat: To recognize that something is not as it appears to be or that something dishonest is happening.

  • If I don't send a picture, he will smell a rat.
  • When I got an e-mail asking for my password, I should have smelled a rat.


2. Go to the dogs: If a country or organization is going to the dogs, it is becoming very much less successful than it was in the past. to decline in looks or health; to be ruined or destroyed.

  • After Adam retired, the business went to the dogs.
  • The economy is going to the dogs.


3. Fishy: To have a suspicion that something is wrong. or someone that seems dishonest or false.

  • It seemed to him that there was something fishy.
  • My computer is kind of fishy.


4. Take the bull by the horns: Decisively deal with a difficult or dangerous situation, or to do something difficult in a brave and determined way. 

  • But she finally took the bull by the horns and went to a job.
  • The government will have to take the bull by the horns and tackle the inflation.


5. Let the cat out of the bag: To allow a secret to be known, usually without intending to. or to let a secret out in the open.

  • He wasn't supposed to know about it, but someone let the cat out of the bag.
  • She let the cat out of the bag and finally told her parents about her plans of getting married.


6. For the birds: To be stupid or not important; worthless. 

  • As far as they were concerned, it was for the birds.
  • You do not have to fix it, it is for the birds.


7. Straight from the horse's mouth: If you hear something (straight) from the horse's mouth, you hear it from the person who has direct personal knowledge of it. you hear from a dependable or reliable source.

  • That's right. I got it straight from the horse's mouth.
  • I'm going to go to him and hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.


8. Horse around: To behave in a silly and noisy way, or act in a lively or boisterous way; fool about.

  • He decided to stay and horse around on the trip.
  • He was horsing around in the kitchen and broke my favorite bowl.


9. Cat got your tongue: Used to refer a time when someone has nothing to say, or something you say to someone when you are annoyed because they will not speak.

  • What's the matter? cat got your tongue.
  • Are you dumb or cat got your tongue?


10. Get in someone's hair: To annoy someone, usually by being present all the time.

  • I know that! The children get in your hair.
  • I don't like to talk with him he always got in my hair.


11. Shoot off one's mouth: Brag or boas.  

  • Yosef doesn't play tennis very much, but he's always shooting off his mouth about how good he is.
  • He's always shooting his mouth off, and He does not understand anything.


12. Jump down someone's throat: To react angrily to something that someone says or does; to answer or respond sharply or angrily.

  • I know, my boss always jump down my throat.
  • Why did you jump down Fathi’s throat? It’s not his fault you’re having a bad day.


13. Pay through the nose: To pay too much money for something; to pay unreasonably high prices.

  • He realized that he would have to pay through the nose in order to have it.
  • We pay through the nose for a ticket then stand up all the way to work.


14. Tongue-in-cheek: Something said in humour, but with an act of being serious. 

  • The whole interview was done tongue in cheek.
  • He made some tongue-in-cheek comment about being very busy cleaning his house.


15. Pull someone's leg: To tell someone something that is not true as a way of joking with the person; tease someone.

  • Oh, really? Come on, you're pulling my leg!
  • I panicked when he said the test was tomorrow, but then I realized he was just pulling my leg.


16. Play it by ear: To decide how to deal with a situation as it develops, rather than acting according to plans made earlier; improvise.

  • I don't know how they'll react to our proposal, so we'll just have to play it by ear and hope for the best.
  •  I am not sure whether my plan will work or not, so let just play it by ear.


17. Stick out one's neck: Risk incurring criticism or anger by acting or speaking boldly.

  • Why should I stick my neck out for them? They didn't pay me for my services.  
  • I'm really sticking my neck out by investing my money in this idea.
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