Hello lovely students! Have you ever heard something in English before and thought, “What does that mean?” Chances are, if you did, it was an idiom. What is an idiom, you ask? An idiom is a group of words with a meaning that differs from the literal meaning of the individual words.
Idioms are figurative language and have no literal meaning but tend to have a hidden meaning. Believe me, if they had a literal meaning, it would be scary.
Let’s look at 30 everyday idioms and idiom examples for kids below. Take note, there are loads of animal idioms below too. See which ones you can spot with animals in them.
1. Bull in a china shop
Bull in a china shop meaning: when someone is very careless in the way they move or act. Think clumsy or careless people.
Example: He went into class like a bull in a china shop and started yelling.
2. When pigs fly
When pigs fly meaning: when there is no chance of something happening.
Example: I will win the lottery when pigs fly!
3. In the same boat
We’re in the same boat meaning: to be in the same difficult situation as another person.
Example: I have got a detention, and so has Miles. We’re in the same boat.
4. Out of the blue
Out of the blue meaning: when something unexpected happens. It can be either negative or positive.
Example: Lavinia invited me to her party. It was out of the blue because I thought she didn’t like me.
5. To give the cold shoulder
To give the cold shoulder meaning: to ignore someone intentionally.
Example: I thought they liked me, but they gave me the cold shoulder.
6. Night owl
Night owl meaning: to describe a person who prefers to be active at night.
Example: I hate waking up in the mornings. I’m a night owl.
7. To have/get cold feet
To have/get cold feet meaning: to become too frightened to do something you have planned.
Example: I wanted to skydive, but I got cold feet.
8. To pull someone’s leg
To pull someone’s leg meaning: to persuade someone into thinking that something is true, even if it isn’t. This is usually done as a joke.
Example: He told me he was related to the Prime Minister, but he was pulling my leg.
9. Raining cats and dogs
Raining cats and dogs meaning: to describe when it is raining heavily.
Example: People say that it rains cats and dogs in Britain, but it isn’t true.
10. Piece of cake
Piece of cake meaning: to describe something that’s very easy to do.
Example: That maths test was a piece of cake.
11. Crocodile tears
Crocodile tears meaning: to describe fake tears you cry when you are not sad.
Example: Hector always pretended to cry when his parents said he couldn’t have sweets. I hated his crocodile tears.
12. Early bird
Early bird meaning: to describe a person who gets up early and tends to feel active in the morning. This is the opposite of a night owl.
Example: My mum always gets up at 5 a.m. to go to work. She’s an early bird.
13. To teach an old dog new tricks
To teach an old dog new tricks meaning: when it is difficult to change someone’s habits or character.
Example: I love my grandad, but he has very serious views. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
14. To have a bee in your bonnet
To have a bee in your bonnet meaning: to keep on talking about something a lot because you think it is essential.
Example: My teacher had a bee in her bonnet about handing in homework on time. She wouldn’t stop telling us to do it.
15. To be on the same page
On the same page meaning: to have the same ideas as someone else.
Example: I like working with Toria because our ideas are the same. We’re on the same page.
16. It’s not rocket science
It’s not rocket science meaning: when something is not difficult to understand.
Example: That history lesson was not rocket science.
17. To get off on the wrong foot
To get off on the wrong foot meaning: to begin a relationship badly.
Example: Sadie and I didn’t use to like each other. It’s because we got off on the wrong foot. But now we’re best friends.
18. To be in hot water
To be in hot water meaning: to get yourself into a difficult situation where you could be in trouble.
Example: I’m in hot water with my family because I didn’t clean my room.
19. To stir up a hornet’s nest
To stir up a hornet’s nest meaning: to cause controversy. This is not usually a good thing to do.
Example: Ronald always likes to stir up a hornet’s nest. He always says something controversial, even if he doesn’t believe it.
20. A different kettle of fish
A different kettle meaning: to be completely different from someone or something else that has already been spoken about.
Example: Reading a story and writing one is a different kettle of fish.
21. To be the teacher’s pet
To be the teacher’s pet means: to be the teacher’s favourite student.
Example: All the students draw wonderfully, but Alex is the best. She’s the teacher’s pet because she’s talented and knows how to behave properly.
22. To read between the lines
To read between the lines meaning: to try and understand someone’s real feelings or intention behind what they say.
Example: Crystal didn’t have to say she was sad, but I read between the lines and knew she was.
23. Long story short
Long story short meaning: when you do not tell all the details about a long story and summarise it.
Example: I did a lot in the summer holidays, but long story short, I went to Canada.
24. To be/feel under the weather
To be/feel under the weather meaning: to feel unwell.
Example: Curtis is not at school today. He is under the weather.
25. To have mixed feelings
To have mixed feelings meaning: when you are unsure of how you feel. You can feel unhappy and happy at the same time.
Example: I have mixed feelings about the new Pokemon film. I liked it, and I didn’t at the same time.
26. To hold your horses
To hold your horses meaning: to tell someone to consider their opinion or decision about something.
Example: Hold your horses, Ash, and let’s think about it for a moment!
27. To see eye to eye
To see eye to eye meaning: to agree with another person.
Example: I like my classmate Timmy. We see eye to eye on a lot of things.
28. To be all ears
To be all ears meaning: to eagerly listen.
Example: I was all ears when they mentioned the school trip.
29. It’s in the bag
It’s in the bag meaning: when you are certain to get or achieve something.
Example: Once I spelt the final word correctly, I knew that I had the spelling bee championship in the bag.
30. To have ants in someone’s pants
To have ants in your pants meaning: to be restless.
Example: I think Jade has ants in her pants. She never stops moving!
Did you spot the animal idioms?
If you did, well done you. I have written them down for you here, just to make it easier for you.
- Bull in a china shop
- To have ants in someone’s pants
- When pigs fly
- Night owl
- Raining cats and dogs
- Crocodile tears
- Early bird
- To teach an old dog new tricks
- Have a bee in your bonnet
- To stir up the hornet’s nest
- A different kettle of fish
- To hold your horses
Is that everything?
Absolutely not! For more amazing idioms, check out this video on my YouTube channel English with Lucy.