Clever English Idioms

Learning English Idioms

An idiom is an expression whose meaning cannot be understood from the literal meanings of its words. For example, "to bite the bullet" does not mean what it says; it is an idiom that means to tackle a difficult situation.

50 Clever English Idioms

The list of idioms below is designed for teaching advanced students. The idioms were selected specifically for their wit, irony, or links to history or science, making them a fun way to widen discussion topics. Remember that many idioms are culturally specific, and this too makes them a great language-learning tool. Learning a new language is always far more enjoyable when you absorb the culture along with the vocabulary and grammar.

More Helpful Lists of Idioms

We also have lists of common English idioms (for learners), funny idioms (for advanced students), and sarcastic idioms (for advanced students).
  1. tip of the iceberg
  2. toothpaste is out of the tube
  3. there must be something in the water
  4. the apple does not fall far from the tree
  5. throw the baby out with the bathwater
  6. the genie is out of the bottle
  7. thick as thieves
  8. tuppence worth
  9. the moon on a stick
  10. totus porcus
  11. tail wagging the dog
  12. drink from a firehose
  13. boiling frog
  14. gunboat diplomacy
  15. bring owls to Athens
  16. from womb to tomb
  17. build a better mousetrap
  18. buy straw hats in winter
  19. Faustian bargain
  20. hair of the dog
  21. catch some Zs
  22. mess of pottage
  23. fiddle while Rome burns
  24. fencepost problem
  25. fly too close to the sun
  26. modest proposal
  27. kill the goose that lays the golden eggs
  28. house of cards
  29. hunger sauce
  30. meet ones maker
  31. nodding acquaintance
  32. name names
  33. nuclear option
  34. open Pandoras box
  35. Nuremberg defense
  36. other fish in the sea
  37. play to the gallery
  38. pachyderm
  39. poacher turned gamekeeper
  40. revolving door syndrome
  41. put the genie back in the bottle
  42. snake oil
  43. Roma locuta est causa finita est
  44. road to Damascus
  45. ruby slippers
  46. steady hand on the tiller
  47. six of one, half a dozen of the other
  48. wither on the vine
  49. unring a bell
  50. vote with ones wallet

Find More Idioms

Here at english-grammar-lessons.co.uk, we have entries for more than 10,000 English idioms, which we have listed alphabetically. To help make learning more efficient and fun, we have also categorized many of the idioms as common or sarcastic.
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50 common English idioms 50 funny English idioms 50 sarcastic English idioms grammar glossary