20 Popular English Sayings with Explanations and Examples

April 29th, 2023 - Vera

English idioms are an essential part of the English language, adding color and expression to everyday conversation. An idiom is a group of words whose meaning is different from the literal meaning of the individual words. English idioms can be confusing to non-native speakers, but they are important to learn because they are widely used in English-speaking countries. In this article, we will explore some of the most common English idioms and their meanings.

1. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

This idiom means that it’s better to have something that is certain than to risk losing it by pursuing something that may be better but is uncertain. For example, “I was thinking about applying for a new job, but I already have a good job. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

2. Actions speak louder than words

This idiom means that what people do is more important than what they say. For example, “My boss promised to give me a promotion, but he hasn’t done anything yet. Actions speak louder than words.”

3. Break a leg

This idiom is often used to wish someone good luck, especially before a performance. Its origin is unclear, but one theory is that it originated in the theater world, where actors would bow or “break” their leg after a successful performance.

4. Cost an arm and a leg

This idiom means that something is very expensive. Its origin is unknown, but it is believed to have originated in the United States in the mid-20th century, during a time when the cost of living was high and many people were struggling financially.

5. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

This idiom means that you should not rely on something happening before it actually happens. For example, “I’m planning to buy a new car with the bonus I’m expecting, but I shouldn’t count my chickens before they hatch.”

6. Every cloud has a silver lining

This idiom means that every bad situation has a positive aspect. For example, “I lost my job, but every cloud has a silver lining. Now I can focus on finding a better job.”

7. Hit the nail on the head

This idiom means that someone has accurately identified the problem or issue at hand. For example, “You hit the nail on the head when you said that we need to work more efficiently.”

8. Let the cat out of the bag

This idiom means to reveal a secret. For example, “I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone, but I let the cat out of the bag and now everyone knows.”

9. Piece of cake

This idiom means that something is very easy. For example, “That math problem was a piece of cake.”

10. The ball is in your court

This idiom means that it’s someone else’s turn to take action or make a decision. For example, “I’ve made my offer, now the ball is in your court. What do you want to do?”

11. Under the weather

This idiom means that someone is feeling ill or unwell. For example, “I can’t come to work today, I’m feeling a bit under the weather.”

12. Bite the bullet

This idiom means to face a difficult or unpleasant situation with courage and determination. For example, “I know the exam will be tough, but I just have to bite the bullet and study as much as I can.”

13. Kill two birds with one stone

This idiom means to accomplish two things at the same time. For example, “I need to go to the bank and the post office, so I’ll kill two birds with one stone and do both on my lunch break.”

14. A penny for your thoughts

This idiom is often used to ask someone what they are thinking. For example, “You seem deep in thought, a penny for your thoughts?”

15. Don’t judge a book by its cover

This idiom means that you shouldn’t judge someone or something by their appearance alone. For example, “I know the car looks old and worn out, but it’s actually very reliable. Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

16. It’s raining cats and dogs

This idiom is used to describe a heavy rainstorm. For example, “I can’t go outside, it’s raining cats and dogs.”

17. On the ball

This idiom means to be alert and ready to take action. For example, “We need to be on the ball and respond quickly to any customer complaints.”

18. Pull someone’s leg

This idiom means to tease or joke with someone in a friendly way. For example, “I’m just pulling your leg, I know you didn’t really forget my birthday.”

19. Spill the beans

This idiom means to reveal a secret or confidential information. For example, “I can’t believe you spilled the beans about the surprise party.”

20. When pigs fly

This idiom means that something is impossible or unlikely to happen. For example, “I’ll go skydiving when pigs fly.”

English idioms are an important part of the language, and they can be used to add color and humor to conversations. However, it’s important to remember that not all idioms translate well into other languages, and some idioms may not make sense to non-native speakers. Therefore, it’s important to use idioms appropriately and with consideration for your audience.

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