Idioms and Examples of Idioms

len Alfred Ajibola - Sat, 06th July, 2019 @ 2:30 PM

Topics in English

Phrase: Types of Phrase Clause explained with its types Essay: How to write the major types of essay Nouns and Adjectives: Examples of nouns formed from adjectives 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 click here to see all Questions and Answers

For this question and the three questions below, choose the option that best completes the sentence.

The doctor _____ the illness as malaria, not dysentery.

  • A. Discovered

  • B. Diagnosed

  • C. Tested

  • D. Examined

  • E. Announced

  • F. Prescribed

The principal reacted to the disrespectful action of the student with strong _____.

  • A. Indignation

  • B. Condemnation

  • C. Accusation

  • D. Demonstration

  • E. Mobilization

  • F. Impunity

Since the writer did not indicate his name, the editor did not publish such a/an _____ article.

  • A. Poor

  • B. Libellous

  • C. Discourteous

  • D. Impolite

  • E. Anonymous

  • F. Scandalous

The play was so interesting that the _____ clapped for a long time at the end.

  • A. Congregation

  • B. Fans

  • C. Spectators

  • D. Audience

  • E. Watchers

  • F. People

Answer true of false with regards to the sentence below:

'Humility' is a noun and 'Humble' is an adjective

  • A. True

  • B. False

A part of a sentence or clause that contains a verb and something concerning the subject within that sentence is termed a/an _____.

  • A. Predicate

  • B. Object

  • C. Adverbial clause

  • D. Adverbial phrase

  • E. Half clause

  • F. Body of adverbial clause

The acronym Wi-Fi stands for _____.

  • A. Wireless Files

  • B. Wireless Flips

  • C. Wireless Fidelity

  • D. Wireless Freedom

  • E. Wireless and Free

  • F. Wireless Fun

The words massacre and bloodbath are _____.

  • A. Antonyms

  • B. Synonyms

  • C. Homonyms

  • D. Homophones

  • E. Heteronyms

  • F. Heterophone

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 entail.

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
You can read on synonyms here.

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 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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Amazing facts in English

The word pangram refers to a sentence that contains all 26 letters of the alphabet. Below is an example of a pangram:

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

The word Paraskevidekatriaphobia means the fear of Friday the 13th, while Triskaidekaphobia means an extreme fear of the number 13

Angry and Hungry are the only two English words that currently ends in '-gry'

The only English word with five consecutive vowels is 'queueing'

The dot on the top of letter ‘i’ is called a tittle

The sentence below uses every letter in the English alphabet:

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

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The furry tufts of hair inside a cat's ear are called ear furnishings

There are only four words in the English language that end in 'dous'. These are:

  • Tremendous 

  • Horrendous

  • Stupendous

  • Hazardous

The only English word that ends with the letters 'mt' is dreamt and its derivatives; that is: undreamt, daydreamt, and redreamt

Los Angeles is America's second largest city. It's original name is 'El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río Porciúncula'. In English language, this means: 'Town of our Lady the Queen of Angels of the River Porciúncula'

Notable points in English

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 something

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:











Synonyms should not be confused with the above instance. They are different words with similar meanings.

Please read more 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 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)