Common Idiomatic Expressions in English

Uncover the essence of everyday English with 'Common Idiomatic Expressions.' Master colorful phrases and elevate your language skills today.

Common Idiomatic Expressions in English

You sure have heard someone tell a performer, “Go break a leg!” before they get on stage. Do you get confused about what it means? Why would they tell the performer to break a leg? Whose legs? But you can relax as it’s one of many idiomatic expressions in English.

Phrases such as breaking a leg, walking on eggshells, and speaking of the devil are common enough in daily conversations. These phrases sound weird and sometimes don’t make sense. However, the phrases put a certain imagery that helps you understand its real meaning. Here are ten popular idioms that you come across often.

10 Popular Idioms with Examples and Meanings

1. Under the weather

Sorry, I have to cancel, I’m feeling under the weather today.

This idiom means feeling unwell or sick. It ranges from simple headaches to nausea or simply not feeling so good enough to get through the day. Many linguists believe that this idiom started as nautical terms before more people adopted the phrase.

You can picture how a ship is under bad weather, with strong waves and gusts pulling and turning her around. And this imagery is what the phrase aims to express.

2. Feeling blue

She’s been feeling blue since the break-up.

This idiom is the reason why many people associate blue with sadness. As one of the rare idioms about emotions, saying that you’re feeling blue means that you’re feeling sad. It’s also a wide-ranging phrase that you can use to express sadness, heartbreak, or even mild depression.

3. Break a leg

You’ll be fine! Go break a leg!

Unlike the imagery, this idiom wishes the other party good luck. It’s a common phrase among performers, especially in theaters. There are several lores regarding the phrase’s origin, one of them involving actors and producers breaking a table’s or chair’s leg on the opening night for good luck.

4. Sat on the fence

She said she’s still on the fence about the issue.

When you feel unsure about something or don’t want to make any decision just yet, this idiom is the one for you. Sitting on a fence means you’re not yet making any decision.

You sure know how a fence separates two lawns. Figuratively speaking, being on the fence means you are between two lawns or two options. In short, the idiom is one way to say that you haven’t decided yet.

5. Once in a blue moon

I bake a cake once in a blue moon.

Even though technically the moon glows a warm yellow light, sometimes it looks cool blue. The natural phenomenon is very rare which leads to this phrase.

Once in a blue moon means something that rarely happens and most likely comes unexpectedly for everyone who knows the person. It also has a sense of randomness that contributes to how unique the act is.

6. Seeing eye-to-eye

At this rate, we’re not seeing eye to eye.

This idiom means understanding each other. You can take it in the literal sense, as in seeing someone directly in their eyes disregarding any height differences.

Even though it has a similar meaning, this idiom is different from being on the same page. Since that phrase means you have the same aim and are willing to work together. Seeing eye to eye only means understanding each other disregarding the goals and other differences.

7. Raining cats and Dogs

It’s been raining cats and dogs since last night.

This is one of the most popular as well as misunderstood idioms among all. Raining cats and dogs means that it’s been raining hard with wind.

The idiom stemmed from the lifelong myth about the animosity between cats and dogs that will fight whenever they meet. Therefore, a heavy downpour with wind is similar to the noise you often hear when these animals are fighting. when idiom

8. The Ship has Sailed

I think you come too late, the ship has sailed a long time ago.

Just like the image it conveys, the idiom means something that passed. Mostly, it refers to an opportunity in life such as a job offer or even starting a new relationship.

The idiom pictures a ship that has already departed from the dock and not looking back. Hearing this idiom means you have lost your chance and need to figure out a new idea.

9. Burning Bridges

Go ahead, keep on burning bridges, and see how far can you go.

This is a negative idiom as it means cutting contacts and breaking relationships in a bad way. Keep in mind that burning bridges is most likely to be intentional. You should be careful when you hear someone talking about burning bridges because it mostly doesn’t end well.

10. Between a rock and a hard place

The problem puts Mike between the rock and a hard place.

This idiom means having to choose between equally bad outcomes. It is often the result of making bad decisions that push you to the corner. The imagery is of someone being between two boulders or a boulder and a wall. In any way, the person will not leave unscathed and may even fall with the problem.

Why Idioms Are Important

Did you know there is always an idiom for any situation? You can even insert several in a simple conversation. However, that’s not the only reason why you should know and even use them in daily conversation is to add more colors to your words.

And if you’re a writer, idioms can give a unique touch to your writing. It will give a different imagery that will engage your readers. But idioms are more than just providing colors and images. In many ways, it’s an effective communication method, especially for you who don’t want to be too straightforward.

Anyhow, these are only a few examples as there are hundreds of idiomatic expressions in English that you come across. You can look for more new idioms and use your favorite ones in daily conversation. It will certainly add more dimensions as you explore more unique phrases.