10 essential English idioms

Idioms are used a lot in English (see for yourself in any English written website). Here is a selection of 10 of the most commonly used ones that you absolutely must know if you are learning English.

 

1. “My driving test was a piece of cake!”

If something is a ‘piece of cake’  then it is very easy.

 

 

2. “The party started small but quickly got out of hand.”

When something is ‘out of hand’ it is not in control.

 

 

3. “She always cuts corners when she’s cooking, it tastes horrible!”

To ‘cut corners’ is to take a fast and easy path that will be done with lower quality. It is not a good thing.

 

 

4. “I can’t remember, maybe if you give me a clue then that might ring a bell.”

When something ‘rings a bell’ then it is familiar, we use it when remembering things.

 

 

5. “He just got paid yesterday, he’s loaded now!”

If someone is ‘loaded’ then it means they have a lot of money.

 

 

6. “I would watch the movie with you but it’s… not my cup of tea.”

If something isn’t our ‘cup of tea’ then we don’t have a preference for it.

 

 

7. “I do a few different jobs but sales is my bread and butter.”

We usually use ‘bread and butter’ to express the reliable source of income when we have a few jobs.

 

 

8. “Sorry I can’t come in to work today, I feel a bit under the weather.”

If we feel ‘under the weather’ then we feel ill.

 

 

9. “At first he was a bit shy but we broke the ice after we had a few beers.”

‘Breaking the ice’ means to feel more comfortable around a new person (or new people).

 

 

10. “This time I’m quitting smoking cold turkey. So far it’s going well, I’m on my second day!”

To quit or go ‘cold turkey’ means to stop something abruptly (usually something addictive) without any tapering.