Common English Idioms

Here are some English idioms that we keep hearing all the time.

I couldn’t agree with you more 

If you couldn’t agree with someone one, you entirely agree with them.

  • ‘People are obsessed with celebrities. Don’t you think it is funny?’ ‘I couldn’t agree with you more.’

I’m sick of it

If you are sick of something, you don’t like it anymore.

  • I don’t know why she should behave so rudely. I’m sick of it.
  • I’m sick of eating the same stuff for dinner every day.
  • Susie is very mean. I’m getting sick of her starry attitude and temper tantrums.

You made it big

To make it big is to become highly successful.

  • I can’t believe that she earns a six figure salary. She’s made it big!

Back to the grind

To be back to the grind is to get back to work.

  • If we are to finish this work before evening, we had better get back to the grind.
  • ‘OK everybody, lunch break is over. Now get back to the grind.’

I blew it

To blow something (for example, an opportunity), is to miss it.

  • ‘Did you get that job?’ ‘No mate, I blew it.’
  • ‘So did you go on a date with her?’ ‘No. She seemed interested, but I guess in the end I blew it.’

Pie in the Sky

If something is a pie in the sky, it is unrealistic dream

  • Her dreams of becoming a famous writer ended up just being a pie in the sky.
  • ‘Susie has moved to Mumbai to become an actress but I don’t think things are working out for her.’ ‘Seems like her dreams were just a pie in the sky.’

A hidden agenda

When somebody has a hidden agenda, they have a secret motive for doing something.

  • It would be foolish of us to believe everything that she says. I really suspect that she has a hidden agenda.


If something is half-baked, it hasn’t been properly thought out or planned.

  • It was a half-baked idea, so nobody was surprised when it failed.

Hang in there / hang on in there

This is usually said to encourage people who are in a difficult situation.

  • Hang in there. Things should get better soon.

Hard to come by

If something is hard to come by, it is difficult to find.

  • Actors of his caliber are hard to come by.

Hot under the collar

When you are hot under the collar, you are angry or annoyed about something.

  • Our boss was hot under the collar when she heard that we had lost that contract.

Bored to death

When you are bored to death you are so bored.

  • I’ve nothing to do. I’m bored to death.
  • That film bored me to death.

You’ve got to be kidding = you must be joking

  • ‘Mom, can I wear this short skirt to the party?’ ‘You’ve got to be kidding baby. You’re a 15 year old girl. You shouldn’t wear clothes of that kind.’

Sick and Tired

When you are sick and tired of something, you no longer find it interesting or exciting.

  • I’m sick and tired of eating the same thing for dinner every day.
  • I’m sick and tired of my old car.
  • I’m sick and tired of my job. I must find something better.

Call it a day

To call it a day is to stop working.

  • It’s already 10 pm. Let’s call it a day.
  • ‘We’ve finished everything for the day.’ ‘Let’s call it a day then.’

Get on one’s nerves

To get on somebody’s nerves is to annoy them.

  • Your radio is starting to get on my nerves. You had better it turn it down.
  • Her constant nagging is getting on my nerves.

Couch potato

A person who sits in front of the TV all day long

  • If you don’t want to get a big fat belly, you must stop being a couch potato.
  • I don’t think he will come with you. He is a couch potato.

Get foot in the door / have foot in the door.

To get your foot in the door is to accept even a small job hoping that you would be able to get a promotion before long.

  • It’s not easy to find a job in these days, so I’m considering even a lower position. At least, I’ll have my foot in the door.

Give somebody a hard time

To give somebody a hard time is to make it difficult for them.

  • Be realistic and stop giving me a hard time. I can’t do anything about it.

Make up one’s mind

To make up one’s mind is to come to a decision.

  • If you can’t make up your mind, ask your Mom to choose a good dress for you.

Go Dutch

To go Dutch is to pay your own share.

  • You don’t have to pay for my drinks. Let’s go Dutch.
  • I was hoping that John would pay for me, but we ended up going Dutch for everything we bought.
  • I don’t feel very comfortable when others pay for me. I prefer going Dutch.

Go/sell like hot cakes

When something sells like hot cakes, it sells really well.

  • Her latest book is selling like hot cakes.

Sell someone short

To sell somebody short is to describe them as less impressive than they really are.

  • Why are you always selling yourself short?
  • He tends to sell himself short and that is his main fault.

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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