Feb 25, 2006

Idiomatic Expressions in English

A friend sent me a couple of idiomatic expressions in English, and given the fact that English is not my native language (not a big secret there) these come in hand very useful and thought of sharing them

If you have a website you can use them to display a random idiomatic expression on your website, with the respective explanation. I won't write a tutorial in here about adding that kind of code to your website, but there are a lot of scripts and programs that you can use (for free) to do that. Just pay HotScripts a visit and follow the instructions.

Here is the list of idiomatic expressions:
  • Never count your chickens before they are hatched. Meaning: Don’t spend money that you haven’t earned yet.
  • Don’t cry over spilled milk. Meaning: What is done is done. Just make the best of a bad situation, and get on with your life.
  • Never look a gift-horse in the mouth. Meaning: If someone gives you a gift, you are behaving rudely if you inspect the gift closely in search of defects. A hundred years ago, before people kept accurate records of such things, horse traders could tell the age of a horse by looking at its teeth.
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Meaning: Evenly distribute your wealth, so that if something goes wrong in one area of your life, perhaps you can salvage the rest of your treasures.
  • Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it. Meaning: Yes, that is a problem. But, let’s not worry about it until we have to deal with it.
  • Don’t change horses in the middle of the stream. Meaning: Once you have begun to execute a plan, you should stay with it until you have completed it.
  • I was all dressed up with no place to go. Meaning: I was ready to go to the party, but my parents said, “No! You have to stay home!”
  • Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater! Meaning: Although part of a plan may not be working, that is no reason to dispense with the whole idea!
  • Those two (children, shirts, flower pots, or whatever) are as alike as two peas in a pod. Meaning: They are so similar to each other that no one can tell the difference between them.
  • It is time to fish or cut bait. Meaning: I have to make a decision: Should I continue the way I am going? Or, should I stop, turn around, go back to the beginning, and try something else?


  • Get your ducks in a row. Meaning: Organize your projects. Get everything straightened out. Be ready for what comes next.


  • Don’t fly off the handle. Meaning: Don’t get angry without first taking the time to find out all the facts of the situation.


  • Waste not, want not. If you do not waste your resources, then you will have them when you need them. In this context, “want” is used less in then sense of “desire” and more in the sense of “need”.


  • Spare the rod and spoil the child. Meaning: I believe that this is from the Bible. If a child is misbehaving, and the parent refrains from striking him with a stick, then the child will not learn his lesson.


  • Once burned, twice shy. After a person has been burned once, he will be extra careful in the future.


  • I’ll see you in church! I’ll see you in the funny papers! Meaning: These both mean the same thing: Take care of yourself. I’ll see you soon!


  • Half a loaf is better than none. This is self-explanatory.


  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Meaning: Having one dollar in your pocket is worth two dollars that you haven’t earned yet.


  • Watch your “p”s and “q”s. Dot your “i”s and cross your “t”s. Meaning: These both mean the same thing: Be careful. Watch what you are doing. Check your work.


  • Don’t judge a book by its cover. Meaning: Appearances can be deceiving.


  • It’s raining cats and dogs! Meaning: It’s raining very hard.


  • It is not wise to buy a pig in a poke. Meaning: You should not spend your money on something, until you have thoroughly investigated it. A “poke” is another word for a “sack”.


  • Don’t put the cart before the horse. Meaning: You should do things in the proper order.


  • When it rains, it pours! Feast or famine! These both mean the same thing: It seems that either nothing is happening or everything is happening all at once! There doesn’t seem to be any “moderate” area. It’s “all” or “nothing”.


  • There is no need to lock the barn door after the horse is gone. Meaning: The damage is done. There is no need to try to salvage the situation.


  • That dog won’t hunt. Meaning: Your idea is not a good one. Try again.


  • Don’t let the cat out of the bag. Don’t spill the beans. These both mean the same thing: Don’t divulge the secret!


  • When the cat’s away, the mice will play. Meaning: When the boss is out of the office, the employees will smoke his cigars, drink his whiskey, and take the phone off the hook.


  • You have to break some eggs to bake a cake. Meaning: If you want to increase your profits, you probably are going to have to spend some money ~ for new equipment or for advertising or for more employees or whatever.


  • I’ll have to pull a rabbit out of a hat. Meaning: I’m in a bad situation. I don’t know what I will do. I’ll have to think of something. Wish me luck!


  • Birds of a feather flock together. Water seeks its own level. Meaning: These both mean the same thing: when we choose our friends, we usually choose people whom we perceive to be like ourselves.