Learning English isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (learning English is difficult). First, grammar muddies the waters (makes things unclear), and idiomatic expressions only add fuel to the fire (make things worse).
If you’re taking the TOEFL or the TOEIC, or just want to know more common idioms, read this list of 40 common idiomatic expressions before you take the test. They may just help your English language acquisition soar (get much better).
Common English Idioms
24/7: Twenty-four hours a day; seven days a week; all the time; constantly. My little sister irritates me 24/7!
A short fuse: A quick temper. Jamie is known for his short fuse; just a few days ago he screamed at his coach for not letting him play.
A taste of your own medicine: Bad treatment deservedly received for treating other people badly. After constantly being prank-called, Julian decided to give Juan a taste of his own medicine and ordered twenty-seven pizzas to be delivered to Juan’s house.
Butterflies in my stomach: To be nervous. Liam had butterflies in his stomach before he went on stage to play the violin.
By the skin of your teeth: To just barely get by or make it. Lester made the dance team by the skin of his teeth; you can tell he hasn't been dancing jazz for very long.
Cat got your tongue?: Can’t you speak? (Usually said to embarrass the other person). I just saw you kissing my boyfriend. What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?
Crying wolf: To ask for help when you don't need it. You have cried wolf so many times that no one believes you when you're really hurt.
Cut someone some slack: To not judge someone too harshly. Hey. Cut me some slack. I was really busy with my frog hunting business last week and forgot to call. I'm sorry!
Down for the count: Tired; giving up; unable or unwilling to participate any longer. No, you can’t take my dog for a walk—she’s down for the count after chasing cats all day.
Draw the line: To stop; to know the point where something goes from okay to not okay. Now I draw the line at speaking in front of 34,000 people.
Easier said than done: Not as easy as it appears to be. You want me to come to work at 6:00 AM? Easier said than done!
Every cloud has a silver lining: You can find good
in every bad situation. Even though you just got fired, remember that every cloud has a silver lining—at least you don’t have to work for that grouchy boss anymore!
Finding a needle in a haystack: Virtually impossible to find. Trying to get a new job these days is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
Fish out of water: To be out of place. Tom felt like a fish out of water at the Star Trek convention his new girlfriend begged him to attend.