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8/31/2016 50PopularEnglishIdiomstoSoundLikeaNativeSpeaker

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To understand English as it is spoken in real life, you have to be familiar with idioms. They
are used so much in everyday English that it is important to be aware of them. You need
to learn what they mean, and how to use them to become an insider.

This blog post will show you some of the most popular English idioms currently in
use.Remember, knowledge is power.

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50 Popular English Idioms

1. CRUNCH TIME:the period of time just before a project has to be completed and
everyone has to work hard

Im not getting enough sleep these days. Its crunch time at work.

2. LET YOUR FREAK FLAG FLY:to let others see your uniqueness

My colleagues were surprised at the Christmas party- I let my freak ag y and


showed them a break dance routine.

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3. GET OUT OF HAND:when you lose control of things, they get out of hand

The party got out of hand and the guests started to throw bottles at each other.
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4. GET YOUR HEAD AROUND IT:to
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I just cant get my head around the fact that Joe is leaving us.

5. DIG IN YOUR HEELS / STICK TO YOUR GUNS:to refuse to compromise or change your
mind

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My parents wanted me to give up writing, but I stuck to my guns and went on to
become a famous writer.
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6. POUND THE PAVEMENT:to walk the streets looking for a job

Id been pounding the pavement for months before I found a job in a fast food
restaurant.

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7. PULL A RABBIT OUT OF A HAT:to do something unexpected that may have seemed
impossible

I thought we were going bankrupt, but my partner pulled a rabbit out of his hat
and we landed a major contract.

8. LEAVE NO STONE UNTURNED:to do everything you can to achieve your goal

Ill leave no stone unturned until I nd out who did this.

9. GET IT OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM:to do something youve wanted to do for a long time
and dont want to postpone any longer

I wasnt sure how she was going to react, but I had to get it out of my system, so I
told her I had found another woman.

10. STEP UP YOUR GAME:to start performing better

If you want to win this competition, youll have to step up your game.

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11. PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER:to calm down and behave normally

I understand youve had a bad day, but pull yourself together and get on with your
job,
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12. SHAPE UP OR SHIP OUT:either start performing better or leave

This is the last time Im telling you to arrive on time. Shape up or ship out.

13. CUT SOMEBODY SOME SLACK:to give somebody a break/ not to judge somebody
severely
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I was extremely busy last week. Cut me some slack and Ill nish the report by
tomorrow morning.

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14. BY THE SKIN OF YOUR TEETH:when you do something by the skin of your teeth, you
only just succeed/ nearly fail

I hadnt studied much, but passed the test by the skin of my teeth.

15. ONCE IN A BLUE MOON:when something rarely ever happens

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We used to see him all the time, but now he just visits us once in a blue moon.

16. GO DOWN IN FLAMES:to end or fail suddenly and spectacularly

Shed wanted to become Managing Director, but her career went down in ames
when they found out shed been leaking information to our competitors.

17. TAR SOMEONE WITH THE SAME BRUSH:to believe that someone has the same bad
qualities as others in a group

I dont think much of that band, but the singer shouldnt be tarred with the same
brush. Shes got a fantastic voice.

18. COME OUT SWINGING:to be confrontational and strongly defend yourself at the
beginning of a debate

Our local MP came out swinging against the current leadership and demanded
that the government resign.

19. HANG IN THERE:wait and be patient

I know youd really like to call him, but I dont think thats the right thing to do now.
Just hang in there and he will call you.

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20. SHOOT FROM THE HIP:to speak directly

If you want to get on well with your boss, try not to shoot from the hip next time.
You
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21. GO THE EXTRA MILE:to make a special eort/try very hard to achieve your goal

If you want to become procient in English, youll have to go the extra mile and
start learning idioms.
My English class was great, we learnt so much because our teacher was the best, she
always went the extra mile for us.

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22. RUNNING ON FUMES:to continue to stay awake when feeling exhausted

Im sorry, but Ive got to go home now. I havent slept for twenty hours and Im
running on fumes.

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23. SOLD ME OUT:to snitch on someone, or let their secret out

I asked you to keep it to yourself! I cant believe you sold me out, I trusted you!

24. YOU SOLD ME (ON SOMETHING):you convinced me of something, because you


were persuasive

OK, youve sold me. Ill go to the match with you.

25. BLEW ME AWAY:when something blows you away, youre extremely impressed by it

The exhibition just blew me away. Id never seen so many beautiful paintings
before.

26. BLOW SMOKE:to exaggerate or say things that arent true to make you seem better/
more knowledgeable than in reality

Im not blowing smoke. I have honestly read War and Peace by Tolstoy.

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27. CRY WOLF:to call for help when you dont need it

5.2k Do you think Peter is in trouble or is he just crying wolf?

28. COULDNT CARE LESS:used to express total lack of interest in something

That man stole a bottle of wine from the shop.


Oh, really? I couldnt care less.

29. BE CHUFFED TO BITS:to be pleased and happy

Hey, thanks for the present! Im chu7ed to bits.

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30. FEELING UNDER THE WEATHER:to be ill or unable to do regular activities

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I think Im going to have to take the day o work. I feel quite under the weather
today.

31. BE TICKLED PINK:to be excited and happy

She was tickled pink by all the compliments shed received.

32. A BAKERS DOZEN:thirteen

Check out our bakers dozen language learning tips.

33. COMFORT FOOD:food that makes you feel better, because it reminds you of your
childhood

After a tiring day, its so nice to make some comfort food and settle down with a
good book.

34. SKELETON CREW:the minimum number of people needed to keep a service/oce


operating

Can you come back after the holidays? Were operating with a skeleton crew at the
moment.

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35. LET THE CHIPS FALL WHERE THEY MAY:to let something happen, no matter what
happens next

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I must tell John how I feel about him, let the chips fall where they may.

36. NO-BRAINER:an easy decision

Do you think I should propose to Judy?


Come on, its a no-brainer. Shes such a fantastic woman!

37. A STONES THROW:very near

The hotel was a stones throw from the beach. I loved it.

38. HEAR ON THE GRAPEVINE:to hear a rumour or unconrmed story

I heard on the grapevinethat Charlie and Sarah are dating at the moment.

39. SIT ON THE FENCE:to stay neutral and not take sides

Well dont you think Im right, hes been acting dierently hasnt he?

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Im sitting on the fencewith this one, youre both my good friends.

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40. TAKE WHAT SOMEONE SAYS WITH A PINCH OF SALT:regard something as


exaggerated, or only believe a part of something

Did you hear what Tina said happened in the oce yesterday?
Oh, I would take anything she says with a pinch of salt.

41. FREAK OUT:to become very angry, scared or excited

Mum, dont freak out! I married a guy in Las Vegas.

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42. BE A CATCH:be someone worth marrying/having

5.2k John is taking me out tonight. Hes such a catch, I hope hell propose.

43. PIECE OF CAKE: when something is extremely easy to do

Do you think you could beat him in a race?


Yeah, piece of cake. Im denitely a lot faster than him.

44. HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD:used if something someone says, is precisely correct

My doctor hit the nail on the head. He knew exactly what was wrong with me!

45. COSTS AN ARM AND A LEG:when something is very expensive

My son wants that mountain bike for his birthday, but itll cost an arm and a leg!

46. HIT THE BOOKS:to study very hard

Do you want to go for lunch somewhere nice?


No thanks, Im going to hit the books. I have an exam coming up soon.

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47. BITE OFF MORE THAN YOU CAN CHEW:to take on something that is too much for
you to handle

He recently got promoted and took on some new responsibilities, but hes just too
busy. He bit o7 more than he could chew, and I dont think he can handle it
anymore.

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48. WHEN PIGS FLY:this means that something will never happen

Arent you going to buy that dream house you told me about?
Ugh, I will when pigs y. Its just so expensive, I dont think itll happen.

49. DONT JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER:this means dont make a decision based on a
brief impression or outward appearance

I dont like our new neighbours very much, theyre quite strange.
Hey, you shouldnt judge a book by its cover. Give them a chance, I think theyre
just a bit quirky but really nice!
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50. YOU ROCK:you are great

5.2k Thanks for the tickets, Rob. You rock!

51. MISS THE BOAT:when someone has missed their opportunity to do something

Have you applied for that job yet?


No, I think I may have missed the boat. I shouldve done it last week.

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How many idioms should a native speaker know?

I hope you are tickled pink to have learnt all these exciting idioms.Is there anything else
you would like to learn about? Let us know in the comment area below.

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WRITTEN BY: MELINDA MAKKOS

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8/31/2016 50PopularEnglishIdiomstoSoundLikeaNativeSpeaker

Melinda Makkos enjoys a rewarding and successful career as an English


Language Teacher. She was living in London, England when she fell in love
with the language and decided to study English and American Literature at
college. Since then, she has worked for schools and language schools all
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over Europe teaching general and business English to various age groups.
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61Comments Sortby Oldest

Addacomment...

SergeiPolovinat.
Itisclearthatyouhaveputinalotofworkincreatingthislist.Welldone!
TheproblemwithidiomlistsisthatsomeofthemarenotknowntoAmericanspeakers,andsometoBrits.
OnceIworkedonaseriesofeducationthemedcartoonsbasedonidioms.
AprofessoroflinguisticsfromauniversityinMichiganwasdeadagainsttheexpression'astorminatea
cup',claimingshehadneverhearditbefore.
LikeReply 9Feb20,20146:15am

MelindaMakkosTechnicalWriteratSDISystemsDocumentation,Inc.
HiSergei,
Thanksforthefeedback.
IwasactuallyconsideringhighlightingBrvsUSdifferences...butthenIthoughtwhattheheck,it's
supposedtobethesamelanguageafterall...
Iguessitwasjustabouttimethattheprofessorhadlearntabout'storminateacup'
LikeReply 7Feb20,201412:11pm

SergeiPolovinat.

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HelloMelinda,
Youarerightitisthesamelanguage.
Justkeepupthegoodwork!
LikeReply 2Feb22,20147:14am

NoraSueMiaOpenUniversity,England
SergeiPolovinYouarewrongtoexpressitlikethis.Itismorecomplicatedthanthat.BritishEnglish
isastandardjustlikeAmericanEnglishis.Theyarebothlinkedtotwoverydifferentcultures,
categoriselifedifferently,expressrealityindifferentways.Forthatreasonitissafetosaythat
idiomsandexpressionswillbedifferentforthesetwostandardlanguages,thereforetheyneedto
betreatedseparately.Itwouldhavebeenappropriateforthislisttoindicatewhethertheybelongto
'Am.Eng'or'Br.En',asyouwouldseeinmostdictionariesnow.
LikeReply 1Mar1,20164:10pmEdited

HoneyPretty()ISLAMICAZADUNIVERSITYKARAJBRANCH
Thanks ,
welldone,itryallmybest,2learnallofthem
LikeReply 2Feb20,20148:01am

MelindaMakkosTechnicalWriteratSDISystemsDocumentation,Inc.
That'sthespirit!
I'mgladyoulikethispost!
Keeplearning!
LikeReply 5Feb20,201412:12pm

NiamhMitchellReikiMaster/TeacheratLuzDeReikiMadrid
Shouldntnumber10begetsomethingoffyourchest?
LikeReply 1Feb26,20141:39pm

MelindaMakkosTechnicalWriteratSDISystemsDocumentation,Inc.
HiNiamh,

Ithinkthetwoidiomsarequitesimilarinmeaning,aren'tthey?
Ijusthappentolike'getitoutofyoursystem'better
http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/get+out+of+system
http://www.myenglishteacher.eu/blog/50popularenglishidiomsandslangwords/ 10/12
8/31/2016 50PopularEnglishIdiomstoSoundLikeaNativeSpeaker
http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/get+out+of+system

Thanksforthefeedback!
LikeReply 1Feb27,20143:14am

SujitDasGuhatiuniversity
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goodcollections cookies on our website. Accept
LikeReply 2Oct20,201412:26pm

MelindaMakkosTechnicalWriteratSDISystemsDocumentation,Inc.
Thanksalot I'mgladyoulikeit!

Mel
LikeReply 2Oct21,201412:05pm

DarwinJamesApolinares
7.7k
Shares Thisarticleisveryhelpful.Youcouldalsolearnenglishthroughskype.Thankstotechnology.Ihavealso
triedsomelessonsbyskypewithanativespeakerfromhttp://preply.com/en/skype/englishnativespeakers
anditwasalsoworthtrying.
LikeReplyMar9,20156:26am

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