Idioms and Examples of Idioms

len Alfred Ajibola - Sat, 06th July, 2019 @ 14:30

Topics in English

Phrase: Types of Phrase Clause and Types of Clause explained Essay: How to write the major types of essay Nouns, Adjectives and Examples of Nouns formed from Adjectives Homonyms - Meaning and Examples of Homonyms Idioms and Examples of Idioms Synonyms: Meaning and Examples of Synonyms Figures of Speech: Meaning, Examples and Types of Figure of Speech Relative pronouns and Compound Relative Pronouns explained with Examples Transitive and Intransitive Verbs explained with Examples Phrase explained with examples Essay: Formal, Semi-Formal and Informal Essays explained

Academic Questions in English

Please check out our Test Your Knowledge page to see all Questions and Answers

Peter and Paul are always fighting _____.

  • A. themselves
  • B. each other
  • C. one another
  • D. the other

The young lady _____ tears when she heard about the disaster.

  • A. broke out into
  • B. broke out
  • C. broke into
  • D. broke off
  • E. broke down with
  • F. broke out with

The man is consistently assertive while his son is rather _____.

From the options below, which word correctly fills the gap and is also opposite to the underlined word.

  • A. reserved
  • B. respectful
  • C. cautious
  • D. open minded
  • E. cowardly
  • F. brave

The plural form of advice is _____.

  • A. advices
  • B. advise
  • C. advice
  • D. advicies
  • E. advicer
  • F. advicers

Idioms are best defined as _____.

  • A. Sentences that are logically reversed
  • B. Words that relate to a specific sentence
  • C. A clause containing two or more phrases
  • D. Phrases whose meaning does not contain the individual words it contain
  • E. Illogical words with logical meanings
  • Rational words with partial meaning as used in the sentence

Her followers on social media considered her to be reprobate unlike her twin sister whom many see as being _____.

From the options below, which word correctly fills the gap and is also opposite to the underlined word.

  • A. godly
  • B. morally upright
  • C. prudent
  • D. conservative
  • E. cautious
  • F. diligent

Words with same spelling, same sound and different meanings are referred to as _____.

  • A. Homonyms
  • B. Homographs
  • C. Homophones
  • D. Synonyms
  • E. Antonyms
  • F. Homophobes

A man who writes a book is called an author. A woman who writes a book is called an _____.

  • A. author
  • B. authoress
  • C. authorite
  • D. authority
  • E. authress
  • F. auther

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What are Idioms?

You may have heard a statement that reads below:

  • The cyber criminal was put behind bars

You will notice that the phrase “put behind bars” does not have a literal meaning with regards to its intended or real meaning. (What I'm trying to say here is: "put behind bars means something entirely different from the words it contain).

If we were to interpret the above phrase, it will mean something entirely different and this is what idioms are all about.

An idiom is a phrase whose meaning does not relate to the individual words it contains.

Please read on Figures of Speech here.

Sometimes, an idiom can be very difficult to guess by mere looking at the meanings of the individual word it contains.

The idiom “put behind bars” in the above expression will mean “imprisoned”. The expression can therefore be interpreted as:

  • The cybercriminal was imprisoned

Note: As a student, you may write an English examination where you will be requested to provide the correct answers to idioms present within a sentence.

You can attempt WAEC Questions for English, 1990 here.

You can read on various Nouns formed from Adjectives here.


Idioms and their Meanings

The table below shows some frequently used idioms with their respective meanings:



 To blow one’s trumpet

 To praise oneself

 To burn a hole in one’s pocket

 To spend all one has

 To go in with somebody

 To support somebody financially

 To make mountain out of a mole hill

 To exaggerate things

 To get off the beaten track

 To look for new methods

 To shed crocodile tears

 To cry insincerely

 To buy a pig in a pork

 To buy what one has not seen before

 To hold one’s peace

 To raise no objection

 To have a close shave

 To have a narrow escape from something bad

 To turn in one’s coat

 To change one’s principle

 To be in the red

 To be bankrupt (penniless or without any money)

 To take heart

 To have courage

 To nip in the bud

 To stop something from happening

 To go back a long way

 To have known each other for a long time

 To sit on the fence

 To be neutral

 To shift one’s ground

 To change one’s position

 To have words with somebody

 To quarrel with somebody

 To be in the wood

 To be in danger

 To bank on somebody

 To rely on somebody

 To let the cat out of the bag

 To reveal a secret

 To throw in the towel

 To surrender

 To tread on somebody’s toe

 To offend somebody

 To bury the hatchet

 To stop fighting

 To be a cog in the wheel

 To be a disturbance for progress

 To take the bull by the horns

 To face a difficult situation boldly

 To be in the driving seat

 To be in control of a situation

 To be above board

 To be honest and clever

 To strike a chord with someone

 To make someone feel sympathy with what one is saying

 To stick out one’s neck

 To do something that could bring problem

 To bite the dust

 To be defeated OR To fall down dead

 To add fuel to flames

 To do something that makes people react more fiercely

 To leave no stone unturned

 To do everything necessary to achieve something

 To leave someone in the lurch

 To abandon someone in a difficult situation

 To bide one’s time

 To wait for a good opportunity

 To draw the line at something

 To refuse to do something

 To take a dim view

 To hate

 To go the full distance

 To continue to partake in sports until it ends

 To the gallery

 To be praised and loved

 To put someone in a family way

 To make someone pregnant

 To line someone’s pocket

 To make money dishonestly

 To clip someone’s wing

 To reduce someone’s power

 To be a wet blanket

 To be a person who discourages

 To hold out an olive branch

 To clamor for peace

 To be born in blue blood in one’s vein

 To be born into a wealthy family

 To throw some light upon

 To explain

 To stand on one’s own leg

 To be independent

 To take the law into one’s hand

 To try to get revenge or satisfaction by force, without any recourse to the law courts

 To have a whale of a time

 To enjoy oneself very much

 To break the ice

 To lead the way when others are hesitant to come forward

 To turn a new leaf

 To change one’s mode of life

 To bring to light

 To reveal

 To be in someone’s debt

 To be grateful to someone for his/her help

 To cook the books

 To illegally or dishonestly alter facts or figures

 To be behind bars

 To be in prison

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Alfred Ajibola is a Medical Biochemist, a passionate Academician with over 7 years of experience, a Versatile Writer, a Web Developer, a Cisco Certified Network Associate and a Cisco CyberOps Associate.

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Homonyms are words with the same spellings, same sounds but different meanings.

Below are some sentences containing homonyms with their respective meanings

  • Keen

We have a keen match against Ronaldo’s team and Messi seems to be keen.

Keen: An involvement of people competing very hard for something.
Keen: Very interested in something.


  • Tear

Regardless the tear you shed, Mr. Frank will still tear your examination scripts.

Tear: The drop of liquid that comes out from a person's eye when they cry.
Tear: To damage something by pulling or cutting it apart.


  • Jot

There isn't any jot of truth in what he said, so I didn't jot  anything down.

Jot: A very small amount of somethin

Jot: To write something quickly

Please read more on Homonyms here

Certain words in English language appear to be similar but are quite different in meaning.

The table below shows some examples











You can check out the difference in meanings of the words above.

Note: Synonyms are different words with similar meanings. Please read on synonyms here.

Some words always exist in the plural form. Examples of such words are:

  • Scissors
  • Shears
  • Alms
  • News
  • Trousers

Possessive adjective tells you the owner of a thing. For instance;

This is his car.

His” in the above statement is describing him as the owner of the car; and this makes “his” a possessive adjective.

That is your bag.

Your” is a possessive adjective in the above statement.

Note: An adjective is a word that describes a noun.

Possessive pronouns show possession. A possessive pronoun will always correspond to with each of the personal pronouns. For Instance

I own the book. (“I” is a personal pronoun)

The book is mine. (“Mine” is the possessive pronoun)

She owns a car. (“She” is a personal pronoun)

The car is hers. (“Hers” is the possessive pronoun)