Body idioms

A large number of idioms are formed with the names of body parts. Here is a list of them.

Best foot forward

To put your best foot forward is to do your very best

  • If you want to succeed in this interview, you have to put your best foot forward.


To experience something first hand is to experience it yourself

  • She has experienced poverty first-hand.
  • We are looking for someone who has first-hand knowledge of accounting procedures.

Pull your hair out

To pull your hair out is to be very worried about something

  • She has an interview tomorrow and she is pulling her hair out.

Have a free hand

When you have a free hand you have the power to do what you want.

  • She made it clear right from the beginning that she must have a free hand. (= She should be allowed to do what she wants.)

Have a hand in something

To have a hand in something is to be involved in it.

  • My husband has a hand in running my website.

Have the upper hand

To have the upper hand is to have power and control over someone or a situation.

  • In India upper castes still have the upper hand.

Be caught red handed

To get caught red-handed is to get caught while doing something illegal or wrong.

  • He was caught red-handed while trying to cash a forged check at the bank

To be hand in glove

When two people are hand in glove, they have an extremely close relationship.

  • The manager and his secretary work hand in glove.


When you are heartbroken you are suffering from overwhelming sorrow, grief or disappointment.

  • He was heartbroken when he discovered that he had failed his test.


Something that generates a feeling of happiness

  • The story of the boy who saved his friends from drowning was very heartwarming.

Rap someone’s knuckles

To rap someone’s knuckles is to give them a light punishment so that they wouldn’t repeat the same offence.

  • He got his knuckles rapped for talking too much in the class.

Break a leg

It is a phrase used to wish someone good luck.

  • So it is your debut tonight. Break a leg.

Pull someone’s leg

To pull someone’s leg is to subject him / her to a playful joke or hoax.

  • I was horrified when he told me that my new house was haunted. Later I realized that he was only pulling my leg.
  • Don’t believe what he says. He is just pulling your leg.

Many a slip twixt cup and lip

Used to imply that things can go wrong at any time

  • They thought that they had won the contract, but in the end the other party refused to sign the papers. There’s many a slip twixt cup and lip.

To cross someone’s mind

A thought that comes to mind briefly

  • Let me tell you what just crossed my mind.

To have a big mouth

Used to refer to a person who talks too much, especially about things that should be secret

  • She didn’t look amused when I told her that her husband was having an affair with one of his colleagues. Me and my big mouth!

Your hands are tied

When your hands are tied, something prevents you from doing what you would normally have the power to do.

  • I really want to help you, but my hands are tied.

Your heart goes out to (someone)

When your heart goes out to someone, you feel great sympathy for them.

  • My heart goes out to the families of the kids who died in the accident.

Have your heart in the right place

To have your heart in the right place is to have right intentions.

  • He might come across as an arrogant guy, but I’m sure he has his heart in the right place.

Your heart isn’t in it

If your heart isn’t in something you’re doing, you don’t really want to do it.

  • I’m sure your heart isn’t in it. Otherwise, you wouldn’t make so many silly mistakes.

A head start

If you have a head start, you start doing something ahead of others.

  • He started preparing for the test months in advance and that gave him a head start.

Skeleton in the closet / cupboard

When you have a skeleton in the closet, you are actually hiding a shocking secret about yourself.

  • Who does not have a skeleton in the closet?

Have a thick skin / be thick skinned

If you have a thick skin you don’t get upset when people criticize you.

  • Most of our politicians are thick skinned.

By the skin of your teeth

If you do something by the skin of your teeth, you only just manage to do it.

  • He escaped from the sinking boat by the skin of his teeth. (= He barely managed to escape.)

Get your teeth into something

To get your teeth into something is to get completely involved in it.

  • He did really well on the TOEFL test after he got his teeth into learning English.

Jump down someone’s throat

To jump down someone’s throat is to react angrily to something that they say or do.

  • You may not have liked what I said, but that doesn’t mean that you’ve to jump down my throat.

Have a green thumb

If you have a green thumb, you are very good at gardening.

  • Look at her garden. Lovely, isn’t it? She really has a green thumb.

Toe the line

To toe the line is to conform to certain rules and regulations

  • You will have to learn to toe the line, if you want to keep your job.

The tip of your tongue

When something is at the tip of your tongue, it is known to you, but you just can’t remember it at the moment.

  • Her name is on the tip of my tongue. (= I know her name, but I can’t remember it now.)

A slip of the tongue

Used to refer to something that you say which you didn’t mean to say

  • Be careful what you say. Just one slip of the tongue is enough to land you in trouble.

Be tongue tied

The feeling that people experience when they can’t seem to find the right words to say

  • I knew I should I have said something to console her, but I was completely tongue tied.



Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets. You may also want to check out my other blogs IELTS Practice and NCERT Guides

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