An idiom (Latin: idioma, “special property”, from Greek: δίωμα – idíōma, “special feature, special phrasing, a peculiarity”, f. Greek: διος – ídios, “one’s own”) is a phrase or a fixed expression that has a figurative, or sometimes literal, meaning. An idiom’s figurative meaning is different from the literal meaning. There are thousands of idioms, and they occur frequently in all languages. It is estimated that there are at least twenty-five thousand idiomatic expressions in the English language.


The following sentences contain idioms. The fixed words constituting the idiom in each case are bolded:

1. She is pulling my leg. – to pull someone’s leg means to trick them by telling them something untrue.

2. When will you drop them a line? – to drop someone a line means to send a note to or call someone.

3. You should keep an eye out for that. – to keep an eye out for something means to maintain awareness of it so that you notice it as it occurs.

4. I can’t keep my head above water. – to keep one’s head above water means to manage a situation.

5. It’s raining cats and dogs. – to rain cats and dogs means to rain very heavily (a downpour).

6. Oh no! You spilled the beans! – to spill the beans means to let out a secret.

7. Why are you feeling blue? – to feel blue means to feel sad.

8. That jacket costs an arm and a leg. – an arm and a leg means something is very expensive.

9. It is not rocket science. – not rocket science means something is not difficult.

10. Put a cork in it. – put a cork in it is an impolite way to say, “shut up!” (another idiom), be quiet, and stop talking.

11. I’m screwed . – to be screwed means that one is doomed, is in big trouble, or has really messed up.  – Wikipedia


ESL Videos to help you speak English