Idioms | List of Idioms

A List of idioms. This page contains examples of idioms and an ever growing list of idioms. It is a good practice to avoid use of these idioms in poetry unless used in a completely original way. See also: Proverbs

What is an idiom?

Idioms are expressions, sayings, or phrases whose meanings cannot be understood from the meanings of the words that make it up.

Examples of Idioms


A bad apple

Meaning:

A (morally) bad person who makes a whole group bad.

A bad apple is someone who has a bad effect on a whole group or system.

People also say, "One bad/rotten apple spoils the (whole) bushel/barrel."


Example:

The corruption in the government started with a bad apple, a high official two years ago. Now the whole system is corrupt.



A bitter pill

Meaning:

A situation or information that is unpleasant but must be accepted.

A dime a dozen

Meaning:

Anything that is common, inexpensive, and easy to get or available any where.

A frog in someone's throat /
A frog in the throat

Meaning:

If you have a frog in your throat, you have a sore throat, or your throat is dry, and have difficulty speaking
because you want to cough.


Example:

In a speech contest last year, she suddenly got a frog in her throat and had a hard time speaking.

A: Why don't you sing with us in our next concert this Friday?
B: I wish I could, but I caught a cold and have a frog in the throat.

A hand-me-down

Meaning:

A shirt, dress, pants, etc. that an older person (especially your older brother or sister) in your family has given to you because it is too small or he/she doesn't want to wear it anymore.

A hand-me-down is a piece of clothing that has been worn by someone (especially your older brother/sister) and given to you.


Example:

When I was a child, I always had to wear my sister's hand-me-downs.

Ace in the hole

Meaning:

A hidden or secret strength, or unrevealed advantage.

Achilles' heel

Meaning:

A metaphor for a fatal weakness in spite of overall strength.

Add insult to injury

Meaning:

To further a loss with mockery or indignity; to worsen an unfavorable situation.

All ears

Meaning:

Listening intently; fully focused or awaiting an explanation.

All thumbs

Meaning:

Clumsy, awkward.

Apple of discord

Meaning:

Anything causing trouble, discord, or jealousy.

At the drop of a hat

Meaning:

Without any hesitation; instantly.