30 Idioms for Life: Navigating the Quirky Phrases that Shape Existence


Welcome to the colorful world of idioms, where language takes a whimsical turn and expression transcends the literal. In this linguistic journey, we delve into “Idioms for Life,” phrases that encapsulate the essence of human experiences with a touch of flair.

Buckle up as we explore the meanings, usage, and charm behind these idioms that have seamlessly woven themselves into the fabric of everyday conversation.

idioms for life

What is an Idiom for Life?

An idiom is more than just a linguistic quirk; it’s a window into the collective wisdom of cultures. These expressions often paint vivid pictures and convey meanings that extend far beyond their literal interpretation.

Let’s explore some idioms that, in their unique ways, encapsulate the complexities and joys of life.


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Created by Dr. Julia Rossi

English Language Level Placement Test – (TEFL)

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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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Here’s a summarized table of the metaphors covered in the article:

IdiomMeaningExample Sentence
A Blessing in DisguiseSomething initially bad turning out to be goodLosing my job turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
The Best of Both WorldsGetting the best aspects of two different thingsMarrying someone from a different culture allows you to experience the best of both worlds.
Bite the BulletFacing something difficult with determinationI had to bite the bullet and apologize, even though admitting I was wrong was tough.
Break a LegWishing someone good luck before a performanceBefore taking the stage, the nervous actor heard the encouraging words, “Break a leg!”
Burn the Midnight OilWorking late into the nightFinishing the project required burning the midnight oil, but the results were worth it.
Call It a DayStopping work for the dayAfter hours of intense brainstorming, we decided to call it a day and resume tomorrow.
Get a Taste of Your Own MedicineExperiencing something you’ve inflicted on othersAfter years of giving out criticism, she finally got a taste of her own medicine.
Get Your Ducks in a RowGetting organized and preparedBefore the big presentation, it’s crucial to get your ducks in a row to impress the clients.
Give Someone the Cold ShoulderIgnoring or being unfriendly towards someoneAfter the argument, she decided to give him the cold shoulder for a while.
Go the Extra MileDoing more than requiredTo excel in your career, it’s essential to go the extra mile and exceed expectations.
In the Nick of TimeJust in time; at the last possible momentThe ambulance arrived in the nick of time to save the injured hiker.
It Takes Two to TangoBoth parties are equally responsibleResolving the conflict requires compromise; it takes two to tango.
Kill Two Birds with One StoneAchieving two things at the same timeBy working from home, I can kill two birds with one stone—spending time with family and being productive.
Make a Long Story ShortTelling a story brieflyLet me make a long story short; the adventure ended with an unexpected twist.
On Cloud NineExtremely happy or satisfiedWinning the championship had her on cloud nine for weeks.
A Dime a DozenVery common and not valuableIn the digital age, smartphones are a dime a dozen, but finding true innovation is rare.
An Arm and a LegA very high priceGetting the latest technology often comes at an arm and a leg.
Bite Off More Than You Can ChewTaking on more than you can handleI decided to volunteer for three events, but I may have bitten off more than I can chew.
Break the IceStarting a conversation or relationship by overcoming initial awkwardnessA joke can be the perfect way to break the ice in a tense situation.
Cut CornersDoing something in a cheap or lazy wayTrying to cut corners in the construction project resulted in a subpar outcome.
Get Down to Brass TacksFocusing on the most important detailsLet’s get down to brass tacks and discuss the key issues at hand.
Hit the Nail on the HeadDoing or saying something exactly rightHer analysis hit the nail on the head, identifying the root cause of the problem.
In the Same BoatBeing in a similar situation as someone elseFacing financial challenges, we realized we were all in the same boat.
Let the Cat Out of the BagRevealing a secret unintentionallyCareful not to let the cat out of the bag, she guarded the surprise until the right moment.
Miss the BoatFailing to take advantage of an opportunityI missed the boat on investing in that startup; now it’s worth millions.
Not Have a Leg to Stand OnHaving no support or justificationWithout evidence, he didn’t have a leg to stand on in the courtroom.
Pull Someone’s LegTeasing or joking with someoneRelax, I’m just pulling your leg; I didn’t really break your favorite mug.
See Eye to EyeAgreeing with someoneDespite their differences, they managed to see eye to eye on the important decisions.
Take the Bull by the HornsConfronting a problem or situation directlyRather than avoiding the issue, it’s time to take the bull by the horns and address it head-on.
Turn Over a New LeafMaking a change and trying to improve oneselfAfter the breakup, she decided to turn over a new leaf and focus on personal growth.

This table provides a concise overview of each metaphor, its meaning, and an example sentence for better understanding.

Metaphors help us see life in a different light, like comparing it to a journey. You can discover more metaphors for life by visiting this link: Metaphors for Life. Similes also give us unique ways to describe life, such as comparing it to a rollercoaster ride. Explore additional similes for life here: Similes for Life.

Idioms for Life

1. A Blessing in Disguise

Meaning: Something that seems bad at first but turns out to be good in the end.

In a Sentence: Losing my job was a real setback, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it pushed me to start my own business.

2. The Best of Both Worlds

Meaning: A situation in which someone gets the best aspects of two different things.

In a Sentence: Working from home allows me to have the best of both worlds – professional success and quality time with my family.

3. Bite the Bullet

Meaning: To face something difficult or unpleasant with determination.

In a Sentence: I had to bite the bullet and apologize, even though I knew I was in the wrong.

4. Break a Leg

Meaning: A way of wishing someone good luck before a performance.

In a Sentence: Break a leg at the audition! I know you’ll give an outstanding performance.

5. Burn the Midnight Oil

Meaning: To work late into the night.

In a Sentence: I had to burn the midnight oil to meet the deadline, but the project was a success.

6. Call It a Day

Meaning: To stop working for the day.

In a Sentence: After hours of brainstorming, we decided to call it a day and resume fresh in the morning.

7. Get a Taste of Your Own Medicine

Meaning: To experience something that you have inflicted on others.

In a Sentence: He finally had to get a taste of his own medicine when his colleagues started criticizing his work.

8. Get Your Ducks in a Row

Meaning: To get organized and prepared.

In a Sentence: Before the big presentation, I need to get my ducks in a row to ensure everything runs smoothly.

9. Give Someone the Cold Shoulder

Meaning: To ignore someone or be unfriendly towards them.

In a Sentence: She decided to give him the cold shoulder after he betrayed her trust.

10. Go the Extra Mile

Meaning: To do more than what is required.

In a Sentence: To succeed in your career, you often need to go the extra mile and exceed expectations.

11. In the Nick of Time

Meaning: Just in time; at the last possible moment.

In a Sentence: I arrived at the airport in the nick of time, just as they were about to close the check-in counter.

12. It Takes Two to Tango

Meaning: Both parties are equally responsible for a situation.

In a Sentence: Arguments are never one-sided; it takes two to tango, and compromise is key.

13. Kill Two Birds with One Stone

Meaning: To achieve two things at the same time.

In a Sentence: By working on my laptop during the commute, I can kill two birds with one stone – get work done and avoid rush-hour stress.

14. Make a Long Story Short

Meaning: To tell a story in a brief way.

In a Sentence: Let me make a long story short: we missed the train, but it led to a memorable road trip instead.

15. On Cloud Nine

Meaning: Extremely happy or satisfied.

In a Sentence: After receiving the promotion, she was on cloud nine for days.

16. A Dime a Dozen

Meaning: Something that is very common and therefore not valuable.

In a Sentence: In the age of digital photography, everyone has become a photographer; skills are a dime a dozen.

17. An Arm and a Leg

Meaning: A very high price.

In a Sentence: Buying a new car might cost an arm and a leg, but the convenience is worth it.

18. Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

Meaning: To take on more tasks or responsibilities than you can handle.

In a Sentence: I realized I bit off more than I could chew when I agreed to organize the event single-handedly.

19. Break the Ice

Meaning: To start a conversation or relationship by overcoming initial awkwardness.

In a Sentence: Sharing a joke helped break the ice at the team-building retreat.

20. Cut Corners

Meaning: To do something in a cheap or lazy way.

In a Sentence: You can’t cut corners when it comes to quality; shortcuts lead to compromise.

21. Get Down to Brass Tacks

Meaning: To focus on the most important and practical details.

In a Sentence: Let’s get down to brass tacks and figure out how to meet the project deadline.

22. Hit the Nail on the Head

Meaning: To do or say something that is exactly right.

In a Sentence: Your analysis hit the nail on the head; that’s exactly what we need to address.

23. In the Same Boat

Meaning: To be in a similar situation as someone else.

In a Sentence: We’re all in the same boat when it comes to dealing with the challenges of remote work.

24. Let the Cat Out of the Bag

Meaning: To reveal a secret unintentionally.

In a Sentence: I didn’t mean to let the cat out of the bag about the surprise party; it just slipped out.

25. Miss the Boat

Meaning: To fail to take advantage of an opportunity.

In a Sentence: Investing in cryptocurrency early was a huge opportunity, and I regret that I missed the boat.

25. Not Have a Leg to Stand On

Meaning: To have no support or justification for an argument or position.

In a Sentence: Without any evidence, the lawyer realized he didn’t have a leg to stand on in court.

26. Pull Someone’s Leg

Meaning: To tease or joke with someone.

In a Sentence: I wasn’t really quitting my job; I was just pulling your leg. April Fools!

27. See Eye to Eye

Meaning: To agree with someone.

In a Sentence: Despite our differences, we always find a way to see eye to eye on important decisions.

28. Take the Bull by the Horns

Meaning: To confront a problem or situation directly and with determination.

In a Sentence: Instead of avoiding the issue, it’s time to take the bull by the horns and find a solution.

29. Turn Over a New Leaf

Meaning: To make a change and try to improve oneself.

In a Sentence: After the breakup, he decided to turn over a new leaf and focus on personal growth.

Here are 10 quiz questions about metaphors:

  1. Question: What does the idiom “Bite the bullet” mean?
  • A) To taste something unpleasant
  • B) To face something difficult with determination
  • C) To enjoy a delicious meal
  1. Question: When someone wishes you to “Break a leg,” what are they encouraging you to do?
  • A) Literally break a leg
  • B) Have a successful performance
  • C) Take a rest
  1. Question: If someone tells you to “Get your ducks in a row,” what are they advising you to do?
  • A) Go to the park and feed ducks
  • B) Get organized and prepared
  • C) Start a poultry farm
  1. Question: What does the expression “On cloud nine” signify?
  • A) Being extremely happy or satisfied
  • B) Experiencing a stormy weather
  • C) Feeling indifferent
  1. Question: If someone suggests you “Cut corners,” what are they advising you to do?
  • A) Trim your hair
  • B) Do something in a cheap or lazy way
  • C) Take a shortcut in a race
  1. Question: What is the meaning of “Hit the nail on the head”?
  • A) Accidentally hit a nail
  • B) Do or say something exactly right
  • C) Build a wooden structure
  1. Question: If you “Let the cat out of the bag,” what have you done?
  • A) Released a pet cat
  • B) Revealed a secret unintentionally
  • C) Disclosed your plans for the day
  1. Question: When someone tells you to “Take the bull by the horns,” what are they advising you to do?
  • A) Attend a rodeo
  • B) Confront a problem or situation directly and with determination
  • C) Adopt a bullish attitude
  1. Question: What does the phrase “Turn over a new leaf” mean?
  • A) Literally turning a tree leaf
  • B) Making a change and trying to improve oneself
  • C) Changing a book page
  1. Question: If something is described as “A dime a dozen,” what does that imply?
    • A) Extremely rare and valuable
    • B) Very common and not valuable
    • C) Costing ten cents each

Answers:

  1. B
  2. B
  3. B
  4. A
  5. B
  6. B
  7. B
  8. B
  9. B
  10. B

Conclusion

And there you have it, a whirlwind tour through the idioms that pepper our language and enrich our understanding of life. These quirky phrases aren’t just linguistic ornaments; they are windows into the collective experiences, wisdom, and humor that make up the human condition.

So, the next time someone tells you to “break a leg” or advises you to “take the bull by the horns,” remember, they’re not just speaking words – they’re sharing a piece of life’s infinite tapestry. Embrace the idioms, celebrate the nuances, and let language be the guide in your journey through the labyrinth of existence.

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