common idiomsIdioms are fun and useful expressions that usually cannot be understood by defining the separate words. For example, if your host mother says, "I think it's time to hit the hay", she means, "I think it's bed-time"! You would not be able to understand her by looking up the words hit and hay. Like phrasal verbs, these expressions need to be memorized as a whole. Try visualizing them or drawing pictures when you study them. For example, draw a picture of a cow sleeping in some hay. The idiom out of the blue means "unexpectedly". Your teacher or homestay family will call you one smart cookie if you come up with an idiomatic expression like that when they least expect it!

The following pages have common idioms in specific categories. Each idiom has its meaning and an example sentence. There is also a quiz for each category to check your understanding. After reading these pages, the quizzes should be a piece of cake for you!

You can also see the EnglishClub long list of English idioms and idiom quizzes for many more example idioms.

Animal Idioms
chicken out, kill two birds with one stone
Animal Idioms Quiz

Body Idioms
cold feet, see eye to eye
Body Idioms Quiz

Colour Idioms
have the blues, grey area
Colour Idioms Quiz - Colour Idioms Song

Clothing Idioms
buckle down, fit like a glove
Clothing Idioms Quiz

Food Idioms
in a nutshell, out to lunch
Food Idioms Quiz

Geography Idioms
dirt cheap, under the weather
Geog. Idioms Quiz

Number Idioms
catch-22, dressed to the nines

Sports Idioms
call the shots, go overboard
Sports Idioms Quiz

Most idioms don't seem to make any sense because their origins are so old. Some of them come from ancient literature or even classic films. Learning the background of idioms can help you to remember them. Try checking your dictionary or asking a teacher or native speaker if they know the origin.