English language idioms

Here are 10 English language idioms, that you might find useful to know.


A bitter pill (to swallow)

A situation or information that is unpleasant but must be accepted.


Losing to a younger player was a bitter pill to swallow.

Not winning the Premiership was a bitter pill to swallow for a team that was used to winning every year.


It’s raining cats and dogs!

Something that you could say when it is ​raining ​heavily.


Charlie: How’s the weather in London?

Mary: Oh, it’s raining cats and dogs.


An Arm and a Leg

Very expensive, a large amount of money.


Everything the restaurant offers tastes good, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

iPhones cost an arm and a leg.


Piece of cake

Something that is very easy to do.


When you know what you’re doing, it’s a piece of cake. 

That exam was a piece of cake!

Piece of cake!


All ears

Listening intently; fully focused or awaiting an explanation.


Well, hurry up and tell me. I’m all ears.

She was all ears after her name was announced.


A hot potato

Speak of an issue (mostly current) which many people are talking about and which is usually causes a lot of disagreement.


The EU debate is a political hot potato in the United Kingdom.


Take with a grain of salt

To understand that something is likely to be untrue or incorrect.


I’ve read the article, which I take with a grain of salt.

She always takes survey findings with a grain of salt.


Barking up the wrong tree

To be wrong about the reason for something or the way to achieve something.


He had nothing to do with the robberythe police are really barking up the wrong tree this time.

She ​thinks it’ll ​solve the ​problem, but I ​think she’s ​barking up the ​wrong ​tree.


Under the weather

Feel sick or poorly.


I feel sort of under the weather today.

Whatever I ate for lunch is making me feel a bit under the weather.

Call it a day

To declare the end of a task. To quit work and go home or to say that a day’s work has been completed.


I’m tired. Let’s call it a day.

The boss was mad because Tom called it a day at noon and went home.

Let’s call it a day on this article.