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Idiomatic Expressions

Idiomatic expressions are a type of informal English that have a meaning different from the meaning of the words in the expression.

If idioms were literal …

Here's an example of an idiomatic expression.

Hold your tongue.

This idiom does not actually mean that you should stick your fingers in your mouth and grab a hold of your tongue. It means that you shouldn't talk.

People "hold their tongues" when they are in situations where they want to talk, but it would be better if they didn't. So, while their tongue is ready to do some talking, they "hold" it and don't say anything.

Every language has idioms, and they can be difficult to learn if you're not a native speaker of that language.

If English isn't your native language, the best thing that you can do is have conversations with native speakers and ask them about phrases that you don't understand. Since idioms are influenced by the culture, learning the idioms of a language can be very interesting and enlightening!


20 Common Idiomatic Expressions
& Their Meanings

1. She was tickled pink by the good news.

  • Made very happy

2. You were hands down the best player on the team.

  • There was no competition

3. I've been feeling pretty down in the dumps lately.

  • Sad or depressed

4. I'm feeling sick as a dog!

  • Very sick

5. I've been feeling under the weather.

  • Not well

6. Rise and shine!

  • Wake up and be happy!

7. Close, but no cigar.

  • You were very close, but you did not make it.

8. I could play outside till the cows come home.

  • For a very long time
If idioms were literal …

9. Wow! It's raining cats and dogs out there!

  • Very hard rain

10. That sound is driving me up the wall!

  • Making me very annoyed

11. This assignment is a piece of cake.

  • Very easy

12. Although he broke the rules, he was only given a slap on the wrist.

  • A mild punishment

13. Yikes! This shirt costs an arm and a leg.

  • It is extremely expensive.

14. No, I was just pulling your leg.

  • Just joking

15. It's Greek to me!

  • I don't understand.

16. Keep your chin up.

  • Be happy.

17. Hold your horses.

  • Be patient.

18. We're all in the same boat.

  • All of us are in the same position.

19. He's a bit of a loose cannon.

  • Unpredictable

20. I will clean my room when pigs fly.

  • Never

8 Handy Grammar Graphics gives you a fun and visual way to get started with grammar and sentence diagramming. Yay!

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