Idioms and Phrases

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Idioms and phrases

About Idioms and Phrases

English is an interesting language to learn. It’s vibrant and expressive, and well-crafted. Writers often use Idioms and phrases as a common tactic to make their words distinctive. It is critical that we comprehend the idea of idioms and phrases, as well as how to use them correctly. 

What are Idioms?

In Idioms and phrases, idioms are a group of words or phrases with a well-established and well-understood metaphorical meaning. As a result, these words can’t be taken literally because they’d be absurd. Idioms give writing more life and color. It gives authors more freedom to explore with words and makes the text more entertaining to read. Idioms are frequently employed in stories, poems, and even spoken language.

Some creative idioms examples are: 

  • ‘The best of both worlds’
  • ‘Speak of the devil’
  • ‘See eye to eye’
  • ‘Once in a blue moon’
  • ‘ A piece of cake’

About Better @ Idioms

Chimes Radio’s ‘Better @ Idioms’ is your personal audio dictionary to help you learn idioms, their meaning, usage and will surely help you enrich your language skills.  With a number of idioms and phrases at your disposal, you’ll be ready to use them in any situation and impress others around you.

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12 Most Common English Idioms and Phrases

Here is the list of the 12  most common English idioms and phrases. Check the idioms with meanings below.

List of Idioms and Phrases

1. 'Burn the Midnight Oil'

Origin: Time period when there was no electricity and oil lamps were the only source of light during the nights

Meaning: Read or work late into the night

Synonyms: Overwork, hard work, work late, work day and night, study endlessly, study hard, etc

2. 'Spill the Beans'

Origin: In the ancient Greek times during the elections, people used to place beans of different colors to cast their vote. These beans were collected and counted to ensure the winner’s name

Meaning: Reveal secret information unintentionally or indiscreetly

Synonyms: Reveal everything, to let the secret out, to break the news, give the secret away, etc

3. 'Under the Weather'

Origin: The idiom originates from the sailing ships. Where the weather is very unpredictable, therefore to escape the bad weather sailors were sent below the deck, literally under the bad weather which is at the surface of the sea.

Meaning: Somewhat ill or prone to illness

Synonyms: Unwell, sick, ill, sickly, indisposed, peaked

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4. 'Its Raining Cats and Dogs'

Origin: The idiom originates from ancient Greek times from an expression Caxta and Doga which means unusual. Another is from Tudor times when there were thatched roofs of houses, and their domestic animals on the roof used to come down in huge numbers when it rained

Meaning: Heavy rainfall

Synonyms: Pour, precipitate, rain, storm

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5. 'Once in a Blue Moon'

Origin: The origin of this phrase is based on the belief that a blue moon is a full moon that comes twice in the same calendar month, and that this phenomenon occurs only once every 32 months. Aside from that, the full moon might appear to be a different color, especially blue and orange, and larger in size at times.

Meaning: Very rarely

Synonyms: Once after a long time, something that happens very seldom, on rare occasions, almost never, hardly ever

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6. 'Beat Around the Bush'

Origin: It originated from Hunting. When hunters beat around the bush in which the animal is hidden to startle them and bring them out of it. The first mention of this idiom can be dated back to 1440 in the poem “Generydes, a romance in seven lines stanza”.

Meaning: To avoid giving a definite answer or position

Synonyms: Oprevaricate, equivocate, tergiversate, circumlocute and palter.

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7. 'Hit the Sack'

Origin: Hit the Sack does not mean hitting a sack full of grains or any other thing with a stick, it instead is related to a sack that was turned in to mattress in olden time for the purpose of sleeping on it.

Meaning: To go to bed

Synonyms: Retire, call it a day, sleep, turn in

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8. 'Hang in There'

Origin: Inspired from a poster in the 1970s, where a cat is seen hanging on a bamboo pole, determined to stay there and fight for its safety and existence.

Meaning: Do not give up

Synonyms: Keep on trying, face the difficulty

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9. 'Kill two Birds with one Stone'

Origin: The origin of this idiom can be traced back to Greek Mythology, and its first mention can be dated back to the 17th Century. Daedalus used a single stone to kill two birds in order to obtain the feathers and create the wings. The father and son flew out of the Labyrinth on Crete after creating wings.

Meaning: Achieve two aims at once

Synonyms: Mill two seeds with one stone, feed two birds with one scone, get two giggles from one tickle

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10. 'Get out of Hands'

Origin: Originated from the times when people used to ride animal pulled wagons, losing the reins from their hands meant losing control of the cart.

Meaning: To become difficult to control

Synonyms: something out of control, something indiscipline, unmanageable, unimaginable

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11. 'Ring a Bell'

Origin: Originated from an experiment done on dogs, by Ivan Pavlov a Russian Psychologist, where he conditioned the memory of dogs with the help of ringing a bell.

Meaning: Sounds vaguely familiar

Synonyms: call, cite, evoke, remind

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12. 'Break a Leg'

Origin: Originating from the concept that back in the day theatre artists, actors, singer etc believed that wishing them good luck might work quite opposite to them, so they picked up  something negative to wish people luck.

Meaning: Good luck

Synonyms: wishing someone luck, best of luck, all the best

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FAQ's on English Idioms and Phrases

Idiomatic expressions are phrases with a figurative meaning attached to them, in lieu of the literal meaning.

Example-  “You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover”. That particular idiom means that one should not base opinions on things they cannot see at first glance; such as acting rashly because of something that looks dangerous or unattractive.



Cry over spilled milk

Regret/complain about something that cannot be rectified

Hit the road

Begin one’s journey

Once in a blue moon

Once in a while, infrequently

There is an estimate of 30,000 idiomatic expressions in the English language

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