27 Idioms for Animals: Animal Expressions


Idioms are like puzzles in language, weaving hidden meanings into everyday expressions. In the world of idioms, animals play a significant role, often serving as metaphors for human behavior.

These quirky phrases add flavor to our conversations and can be as confusing as a bull in a china shop if you don’t understand them.

idioms for animals

What is an idiom for animals?

An idiom for animals is a phrase that uses animals to convey a figurative meaning.

These expressions aren’t meant to be taken literally but are instead a way to communicate ideas in a colorful and imaginative manner.


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Created by Dr. Julia Rossi

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1 / 20

What is a simile?

2 / 20

Identify the simile in the following sentence: “She swims like a fish.”

3 / 20

What is a metaphor?

4 / 20

Which of the following is a metaphor?

5 / 20

What is an idiom?

6 / 20

What does the idiom “break the ice” mean?

7 / 20

What is an adjective?

8 / 20

Choose the adjective in the following sentence: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

9 / 20

What is an abbreviation?

10 / 20

What does the abbreviation “e.g.” stand for?

11 / 20

What is a verb?

12 / 20

Identify the verb in the following sentence: “The cat sleeps on the sofa.”

13 / 20

“Out of the frying pan into the fire” is an example of:

14 / 20

Which of the following is an adjective?

15 / 20

The abbreviation “NASA” stands for:

16 / 20

Choose the metaphor in the following sentence: “Time is a thief.”

17 / 20

What does the idiom “hit the books” mean?

18 / 20

Which of the following sentences contains a simile?

19 / 20

“LOL” is an abbreviation for:

20 / 20

Identify the verb in this sentence: “They whispered secrets into the night.”

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IdiomMeaningIn a Sentence
A bull in a china shopActing without caution, causing damage.John was like a bull in a china shop when he rearranged the furniture.
A bird in the hand…Better to have a certain advantage.Sally decided to keep her old car; a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
A leopard can’t change its spotsPeople can’t change their fundamental nature.Even after anger management classes, his friends believed that a leopard can’t change its spots.
As busy as a beeVery busy and industrious.The students were as busy as bees preparing for their final exams.
Cat’s out of the bagThe secret is revealed.When Sarah accidentally blurted out the surprise party plans, the cat was out of the bag.
Cry over spilled milkDon’t waste time worrying about past events.Instead of crying over spilled milk, Jake quickly cleaned up the mess and moved on.
Don’t count your chickens…Don’t make plans based on uncertain events.Mark was excited about the promotion, but his wise friend warned him not to count his chickens before they hatch.
Elephant in the roomObvious problem that everyone ignores.The financial crisis was the elephant in the room during the family meeting.
Fish out of waterFeeling uncomfortable in a new situation.Jane was like a fish out of water at the science fiction convention, not knowing anyone.
Let the cat out of the bagTo reveal a secret.Tim accidentally let the cat out of the bag about the surprise birthday gift.
Like a fish out of waterUncomfortable or out of place.At the formal event, Tom, in his casual attire, felt like a fish out of water.
Monkey see, monkey doImitating others without thinking.The children were copying the teacher’s movements, a classic case of monkey see, monkey do.
Pig outTo eat a lot, usually indulging.After the diet, Jane decided to pig out on her favorite chocolate cake.
Raining cats and dogsHeavy rain.We had to cancel our picnic plans because it was raining cats and dogs.
Shark in the waterDangerous or threatening situation.The team realized they had a shark in the water when facing a formidable opponent.
The early bird catches the wormSuccess comes to those who act quickly.Sally always wakes up early, believing that the early bird catches the worm.
The lion’s shareThe largest portion.Even though they were a team, Tim always took the lion’s share of the credit for their success.
The straw that broke…Seemingly minor event causing catastrophe.The argument over the remote control was the straw that broke the camel’s back, leading to a family feud.
The world is your oysterMany opportunities ahead.As a recent graduate, Sarah believed the world was her oyster.
When pigs flySomething that will never happen.Sarah said she would start exercising every day when pigs fly.
Wolf in sheep’s clothingPretending to be harmless but dangerous.The charming stranger turned out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, scamming unsuspecting victims.
You can’t teach…Difficult to change someone’s habits.Grandpa insisted he would never use a smartphone, claiming you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
You’re a snake in the grassSomeone who deceives or betrays trust.Discovering his friend had spread false rumors about him, Tom felt betrayed, realizing he was a snake in the grass.
Kill two birds with one stoneAccomplishing two things with one action.Sarah decided to combine grocery shopping with her morning walk, killing two birds with one stone.
Horse of a different colorSomething completely different.Switching from studying science to pursuing art was a horse of a different color for Jake.
Hold your horsesBe patient.When the children eagerly asked about the surprise, their mother told them to hold their horses; it would be revealed soon.
Crocodile tearsFake or insincere tears.Suspecting his friend was only shedding crocodile tears, Tim questioned the authenticity of his apology.

To explore more metaphors for animals, you can visit this link: Metaphors for Animals. Similarly, similes make it easier to understand animals by likening them to something familiar, such as saying a lion is as fierce as a roaring thunderstorm. Discover additional similes for animals here: Similes for Animals.

Idioms for Animals

1. A bull in a china shop

Meaning: Acting without caution, often causing damage.

In a Sentence: John was like a bull in a china shop when he rearranged the living room furniture.

2. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

Meaning: It’s better to have a small, certain advantage than a larger, uncertain one.

In a Sentence: Sally decided to keep her old car because, after all, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

3. A leopard can’t change its spots

Meaning: People can’t change their fundamental nature.

In a Sentence: Even after attending anger management classes, his friends believed that a leopard can’t change its spots.

4. As busy as a bee

Meaning: Very busy and industrious.

In a Sentence: The students were as busy as bees preparing for their final exams.

5. Cat’s out of the bag

Meaning: The secret is revealed.

In a Sentence: When Sarah accidentally blurted out the surprise party plans, the cat was out of the bag.

6. Cry over spilled milk

Meaning: Don’t waste time worrying about things that have already happened.

In a Sentence: Instead of crying over spilled milk, Jake quickly cleaned up the mess and moved on.

7. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

Meaning: Don’t make plans based on something that hasn’t happened yet.

In a Sentence: Mark was excited about the promotion, but his wise friend warned him not to count his chickens before they hatch.

8. Elephant in the room

Meaning: An obvious problem that everyone ignores.

In a Sentence: The financial crisis was the elephant in the room during the family meeting.

9. Fish out of water

Meaning: Feeling uncomfortable in a new or unfamiliar situation.

In a Sentence: Jane was like a fish out of water at the science fiction convention, not knowing anyone.

10. Let the cat out of the bag

Meaning: To reveal a secret.

In a Sentence: Tim accidentally let the cat out of the bag about the surprise birthday gift.

11. Like a fish out of water

Meaning: Uncomfortable or out of place.

In a Sentence: At the formal event, Tom, in his casual attire, felt like a fish out of water.

12. Monkey see, monkey do

Meaning: Imitating others without thinking.

In a Sentence: The children were copying the teacher’s movements, a classic case of monkey see, monkey do.

13. Pig out

Meaning: To eat a lot, usually indulging in unhealthy food.

In a Sentence: After the diet, Jane decided to pig out on her favorite chocolate cake.

14. Raining cats and dogs

Meaning: Heavy rain.

In a Sentence: We had to cancel our picnic plans because it was raining cats and dogs.

15. Shark in the water

Meaning: A dangerous or threatening situation.

In a Sentence: The team realized they had a shark in the water when they faced a formidable opponent.

16. The early bird catches the worm

Meaning: Success comes to those who act quickly.

In a Sentence: Sally always wakes up early, believing that the early bird catches the worm.

17. The lion’s share

Meaning: The largest portion.

In a Sentence: Even though they were a team, Tim always took the lion’s share of the credit for their success.

18. The straw that broke the camel’s back

Meaning: The final, seemingly minor event that causes a catastrophe.

In a Sentence: The argument over the remote control was the straw that broke the camel’s back, leading to a family feud.

19. The world is your oyster

Meaning: You have many opportunities ahead of you.

In a Sentence: As a recent graduate, Sarah believed the world was her oyster.

20. When pigs fly

Meaning: Something that will never happen.

In a Sentence: Sarah said she would start exercising every day when pigs fly.

21. Wolf in sheep’s clothing

Meaning: Someone pretending to be harmless but is actually dangerous.

In a Sentence: The charming stranger turned out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, scamming unsuspecting victims.

22. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

Meaning: It’s difficult to change someone’s habits or beliefs.

In a Sentence: Grandpa insisted he would never use a smartphone, claiming you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

23. You’re a snake in the grass

Meaning: Someone who deceives or betrays trust.

In a Sentence: Discovering his friend had spread false rumors about him, Tom felt betrayed, realizing he was a snake in the grass.

24. Kill two birds with one stone

Meaning: Accomplishing two things with a single action.

In a Sentence: Sarah decided to combine grocery shopping with her morning walk, killing two birds with one stone.

25. Horse of a different color

Meaning: Something completely different.

In a Sentence: Switching from studying science to pursuing art was a horse of a different color for Jake.

26. Hold your horses

Meaning: Be patient.

In a Sentence: When the children eagerly asked about the surprise, their mother told them to hold their horses; it would be revealed soon.

27. Crocodile tears

Meaning: Fake or insincere tears.

In a Sentence: Suspecting his friend was only shedding crocodile tears, Tim questioned the authenticity of his apology.

10 Quizzes About The Idiom in The Article

Quiz 1:

Question: What does the idiom “A bull in a china shop” mean?

  1. A graceful dancer
  2. Acting without caution, causing damage
  3. Someone skilled at pottery
  4. A peaceful protest

Correct Answer: 2. Acting without caution, causing damage


Quiz 2:

Question: When would you use the expression “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”?

  1. To talk about a favorite pet
  2. To emphasize the importance of having a certain advantage
  3. When discussing bird watching
  4. Describing a flying bird’s behavior

Correct Answer: 2. To emphasize the importance of having a certain advantage


Quiz 3:

Question: What does the phrase “Monkey see, monkey do” suggest?

  1. Monkeys are very intelligent
  2. Imitating others without thinking
  3. Monkeys are bad pets
  4. Monkeys are unpredictable

Correct Answer: 2. Imitating others without thinking


Quiz 4:

Question: If someone says “The world is your oyster,” what are they implying?

  1. You should avoid the world
  2. You have many opportunities ahead of you
  3. The world is a dangerous place
  4. Oysters are delicious

Correct Answer: 2. You have many opportunities ahead of you


Quiz 5:

Question: What is the meaning of “Crocodile tears”?

  1. Genuine tears
  2. Fake or insincere tears
  3. Tears shed for a crocodile
  4. Tears of happiness

Correct Answer: 2. Fake or insincere tears


Quiz 6:

Question: When would you use the expression “Hold your horses”?

  1. To compliment someone’s riding skills
  2. To encourage patience
  3. When talking about wild horses
  4. Describing a rodeo event

Correct Answer: 2. To encourage patience


Quiz 7:

Question: What does the idiom “Fish out of water” mean?

  1. Someone who loves fishing
  2. Feeling uncomfortable in a new or unfamiliar situation
  3. A compliment for a good swimmer
  4. Describing a fish market

Correct Answer: 2. Feeling uncomfortable in a new or unfamiliar situation


Quiz 8:

Question: If someone is described as a “Wolf in sheep’s clothing,” what are they like?

  1. Friendly and approachable
  2. Dangerous or threatening
  3. Skilled in animal husbandry
  4. Wearing fashionable clothing

Correct Answer: 2. Dangerous or threatening


Quiz 9:

Question: What does the phrase “The early bird catches the worm” suggest?

  1. Birds should sleep in
  2. Success comes to those who act quickly
  3. Early birds are more intelligent
  4. Worms are a valuable resource

Correct Answer: 2. Success comes to those who act quickly


Quiz 10:

Question: When would you use the expression “Pig out”?

  1. Discussing farm life
  2. To encourage a healthy diet
  3. To eat a lot, usually indulging in unhealthy food
  4. Complimenting someone’s cooking skills

Correct Answer: 3. To eat a lot, usually indulging in unhealthy food

Conclusion

Animals have slipped into our language, bringing vivid expressions to our everyday conversations. Understanding these idioms for animals adds a layer of fun and insight to our communication, making our language as diverse as a zoo.

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