idioms

100 English Idioms that will make you sound more natural

Hello everybody! Do you want to boost your English fluency and sound more natural? Then, learn these 100 English idioms that will you make sound closer to the language native speakers use.

A typical ESL student is both fascinated and frustrated by idioms; they give you fluency but are very hard to use accurately because:

  • They may change meaning if you forget or change a single word.
  • You must use them in the right context – don’t say ‘he’s kicked the bucket’ (died) at a funeral!
  • You can’t translate them into, or from, another language. There is no literal translation.
  • Learn these English idioms and put them into practice in your everyday life!

    IdiomMeaning
    Hard to swallowDifficult to believe
    Digging aroundLooking for
    He’s a really bright sparkHe’s an intelligent person
    He’s kicked the bucketHe’s died
    She’s hitting the booksShe’s studying hard
    Break a leg!Good luck!
    Set out on a new careerStart a new career
    Saunter through lifeLive in a relaxed way
    Follow in someone’s footstepsDo something the way another person did it before
    One step at a timeDo something slowly and carefully
    Career pathThe sequence of jobs someone takes that create their career
    MilestonesImportant events in a person’s life or career
    Dead end jobA job that offers no opportunity for advancement
    To be at a crossroadsWhen someone is at a point in life where their decisions will have long term consequences
    He’s on the straight and narrowHe’s living in a morally proper way
    To walk someone through somethingTo show someone how to do something
    We need to come up with a road mapWe need to make a plan
    I wouldn’t go down that road if I were you!I wouldn’t do that if I were you!
    Don’t run before you can walkDon’t try to do something difficult before mastering the basics
    Inching forwardWhen progress on something is being made in small increments
    To move at a snail’s paceTo move slowly
    To get good mileage out of somethingTo get a lot of benefits from something
    To have your whole life in front of youTo be young and have a lot of years to live
    To get on with your lifeTo make progress in life goals after a difficulty
    To tread carefullyTo behave or speak carefully to avoid offending or causing problems with someone or something
    To be a minefieldWhen something presents many possible dangers
    We’ll cross that bridge when we come to itTo wait to worry about one problem at a time
    Information superhighwayThe internet
    Time is moneyTime is a valuable resource
    A tasty (or juicy) bit of gossipVery interesting or sensational gossip
    To devour someone or somethingTo consume something very quickly
    To add a pinch of salt to somethingTo acknowledge that someone exaggerates
    To chew something overTo think about something before making a decision
    To not swallow somethingTo not accept something as fact
    To bite off more than you can chewWhen someone makes a commitment that they cannot keep
    To eat your wodsWhen someone has to admit they were wrong
    A warm welcomeA friendly welcome
    The cold shoulderAn unfriendly welcome
    When things heat up between peopleWhen a relationship becomes romantic
    To be cold-heartedTo be dispassionate or uncaring
    A 24-hour hotlineA phone line that is always active
    A very frosty receptionTo receive a greeting that makes someone feel unwelcome
    The Cold WarWar without active fighting between nations
    A warm smile and the warm handshakeA welcoming smile and handshake
    Cold callersPeople who call phones, usually for sales, who don’t have previous contact with the person they’re calling
    We took the temperature of the groupChecked the overall opinion of a person or group of people about something
    Most people were quite warm about the ideaPeople have a positive reaction to the idea
    You’ll reap the rewards laterTo collect the benefits of your work
    To prune outTo clear, clean or groom something
    Separate the wheat from the chaffSeparate what is useful or valuable from what is worthless
    Rooted inBased on something or connected to a source/cause
    To cutback somethingTo reduce something, usually related to the amount of money spent
    To dig deepTo use a lot of your physical, mental or financial resources to achieve something
    Great growthA positive change in the production of goods or services
    Root and branchCompletely/utter
    Seed moneyMoney that is used to start a small business or other activity
    Bright shootStart something new, a new chapter
    Plough its own furrowTo follow a plan or course of action independently
    Green fingersHave an ability to make plants grow, to be good at gardening
    Build/make a good caseTo argue that something is the best thing to do, to explain and give reasons why something should be done
    A fabricationTo tell lies about something, completely made-up/invented
    To be on solid groundTo be confident about the topic you are dealing with, or because you are in a safe situation
    Build onTo use something as a base or foundation to develop something else
    ShatteredTo break something into a smaller form or into many pieces
    Undermine your positionBehave in a way that makes you less likely to succeed
    Demolish your argumentsTo break down someone’s argument to an extent that it is no longer accurate or correct
    Constructive criticismCriticism that is useful because they can help improve something
    Grounds for dismissalA reason for you to be dismissed from your job, often due to your (negative) behavior
    Completely groundlessNot based on any good reason
    Grounded in factSomething that is based on facts
    Come to lightTo be revealed
    UnearthedTo find something that was lost or forgotten
    A mine of information/gossip/dataSomeone or something that can provide you with a lot of information etc.
    Get to the bottom ofFind an explanation, often to a mystery
    Digging intoTo methodically reveal information
    To bury the memoryTo try to hide something, such as a memory, the truth etc.
    EmergeSomething that is brought to attention
    Out in the openIn public view or knowledge, everybody knows
    Underground sceneAn alternative culture, different from the mainstream of society and culture
    TransparencySomething that can be seen by everyone/the public
    Crystal clearPerfectly easy to understand
    Put your head in the sandTo ignore or hide from the obvious signs of danger
    Bright sparkSomeone that is highly intelligent
    EnlightenmentTo understand something completely
    Throw light on somethingTo reveal something about someone/something, to clarify something
    DullSomething that lacks imagination, boring
    BrilliantShining brightly, stands out, illustrious
    In the darkA state of ignorance, to not have knowledge about something
    Dim-wittedSomething/someone that thinks slowly, lacks intelligence
    Dark agesWhen something was not understood, a time when knowledge was limited
    IlluminatingTo make something more understandable
    Right-wingA part of a political group that consists of people who support conservative or traditional ideas
    Look down uponTo view someone or something as unworthy
    Side of the fenceRefers to either side of opposing views or ideas
    Political landscapeThe current state of things and how they are looking in the future
    Look at lifeHow you observe things that happen, your opinion on daily matters
    Behind you all the wayTo fully support someone’s actions
    Point of viewAn opinion on something
    Better perspectiveA clearer view of something, a more thorough understanding of a situation
    Take someone’s sideTo support one person’s side of an argument
    Where I standYour opinion, point of view
    Look up toTo respect someone as a role model
    Moral high groundThe status of being respected, a position of being ‘more’ moral than others
    Sitting on the fenceUndecided on a decision, avoid making a decision on something

    Do you know any other idioms that you frequently hear in your English interactions? Share with us!… and keep on task learning more collocations in context or 25 more relationship collocations in context!

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