27 Idioms for People: Common Expressions


When it comes to idioms for people, these expressions shed light on human behavior, characteristics, and interactions.

In this listicle, we’ll explore a variety of idioms that describe people, their actions, and their quirks.

idioms for people

What is an idiom for people?

Idioms are phrases or expressions that have a meaning different from the literal interpretation of their individual words.

They often reflect cultural nuances, common experiences, or insightful observations about people and their behavior.


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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.”

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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:

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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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Let’s dive into a list of idioms related to people, along with their meanings and usage:

IdiomMeaningExample Sentence
A dime a dozenVery common or of little value.In a big city, coffee shops are a dime a dozen; you can find one on every corner.
Break a legA wish for good luck or success, especially before a performance.“Break a leg!” the director exclaimed as the actors prepared for their opening night.
Caught red-handedCaught in the act of doing something wrong.He was caught red-handed stealing cookies from the jar.
Don’t cry over spilled milkDon’t dwell on past mistakes; move on.After failing the first test, she reminded herself not to cry over spilled milk and focused on studying for the next one.
The ball is in your courtThe decision or responsibility is yours to make.I’ve given you all the information you need; now the ball is in your court to decide.
The early bird catches the wormActing promptly or arriving early increases chances of success.She woke up early every morning to study, believing that the early bird catches the worm.
A piece of cakeSomething very easy to do.The math test was a piece of cake; she finished it in no time.
Hit the nail on the headDescribe or identify something exactly right.His explanation of the problem hit the nail on the head; it was perfectly accurate.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basketDon’t risk everything on a single opportunity; diversify.She decided to apply for multiple jobs, following the advice “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
It’s raining cats and dogsHeavy or torrential rain.We had to cancel our picnic due to the unexpected downpour; it was raining cats and dogs.
Actions speak louder than wordsWhat you do carries more weight than what you say.Instead of promising to help, he decided to mow her lawn because he believed that actions speak louder than words.
Bite the bulletFace a difficult situation with courage.Despite his fear, he had to bite the bullet and confront his fear of heights.
Jump on the bandwagonJoin a trend or popular activity.After seeing everyone using the new social media platform, she decided to jump on the bandwagon and create an account.
A penny for your thoughtsAsk someone to share their thoughts or feelings.You seem lost in thought; a penny for your thoughts?
Don’t count your chickens before they hatchDon’t make plans based on something that hasn’t happened yet.He was already planning his vacation before winning the lottery; someone reminded him not to count his chickens before they hatch.
Kick the bucketInformal expression for someone passing away.He lived a long and fulfilling life before finally kicking the bucket at the age of 90.
Pull someone’s legTease or joke with someone playfully.He couldn’t believe it when she told him she won the lottery; she was just pulling his leg.
Put all your cards on the tableBe completely open and honest about intentions or feelings.In a relationship, it’s important to put all your cards on the table and communicate openly.
The pot calling the kettle blackAccuse someone of a fault you’re also guilty of.It’s like the pot calling the kettle black when he criticizes her for being late; he’s always late himself.
Hitting the nail on the headDescribe or identify something exactly right.Her analysis of the situation was spot on; she was hitting the nail on the head.
All bark and no biteTalk tough but don’t take action.He blustered about confronting his boss but turned out to be all bark and no bite.
Burning the midnight oilWork late into the night or put in extra effort.He was burning the midnight oil to finish the project before the deadline.
A wolf in sheep’s clothingAppear harmless but be deceitful or dangerous.He seemed so nice, but he turned out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, betraying our trust.
Don’t throw in the towelDon’t give up; keep trying.Even when faced with challenges, she reminded herself not to throw in the towel but to persevere.
Walking on eggshellsBe cautious and careful to avoid conflict.After their argument, they were walking on eggshells around each other, trying to avoid further tension.
The grass is always greener on the other sidePeople often believe others have better situations.He thought switching jobs would make him happier, but he soon realized that the grass is always greener on the other side.
The apple of my eyeSomeone cherished and loved deeply.His granddaughter was the apple of his eye; he adored her above all.

People are like the diverse colors of a mosaic, each unique piece contributing to the beauty of the whole. For more comparisons to describe people, you can check this link: Similes for people. And if you want to explore various metaphors related to people, you can visit this link: Metaphors for people.

Idioms for People

1. A dime a dozen

Meaning: Very common or easy to find, with little value.
In a Sentence: In a big city, coffee shops are a dime a dozen; you can find one on every corner.

2. Break a leg

Meaning: A way to wish someone good luck or success, especially before a performance or event.
In a Sentence: “Break a leg!” the director exclaimed as the actors prepared for their opening night.

3. Caught red-handed

Meaning: To be caught in the act of doing something wrong or illegal.
In a Sentence: He was caught red-handed stealing cookies from the jar.

4. Don’t cry over spilled milk

Meaning: Don’t dwell on past mistakes or mishaps; move on.
In a Sentence: After failing the first test, she reminded herself not to cry over spilled milk and focused on studying for the next one.

5. The ball is in your court

Meaning: The decision or responsibility is yours to make.
In a Sentence: I’ve given you all the information you need; now the ball is in your court to decide.

6. The early bird catches the worm

Meaning: Those who act promptly or arrive early are more likely to succeed.
In a Sentence: She woke up early every morning to study, believing that the early bird catches the worm.

7. A piece of cake

Meaning: Something that is very easy to do.
In a Sentence: The math test was a piece of cake; she finished it in no time.

8. Hit the nail on the head

Meaning: To describe or identify something exactly right.
In a Sentence: His explanation of the problem hit the nail on the head; it was perfectly accurate.

9. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Meaning: Don’t risk everything on a single opportunity; diversify your investments or options.
In a Sentence: She decided to apply for multiple jobs, following the advice “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

10. It’s raining cats and dogs

Meaning: A heavy or torrential rain.
In a Sentence: We had to cancel our picnic due to the unexpected downpour; it was raining cats and dogs.

11. Actions speak louder than words

Meaning: What you do carries more weight than what you say.
In a Sentence: Instead of promising to help, he decided to mow her lawn because he believed that actions speak louder than words.

12. Bite the bullet

Meaning: To face a difficult or unpleasant situation with courage and determination.
In a Sentence: Despite his fear, he had to bite the bullet and confront his fear of heights.

13. Jump on the bandwagon

Meaning: To join a trend or popular activity.
In a Sentence: After seeing everyone using the new social media platform, she decided to jump on the bandwagon and create an account.

14. A penny for your thoughts

Meaning: Asking someone to share their thoughts or feelings.
In a Sentence: You seem lost in thought; a penny for your thoughts?

15. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

Meaning: Don’t make plans or assumptions based on something that hasn’t happened yet.
In a Sentence: He was already planning his vacation before winning the lottery; someone reminded him not to count his chickens before they hatch.

16. Kick the bucket

Meaning: A humorous and informal way to say someone has died.
In a Sentence: He lived a long and fulfilling life before finally kicking the bucket at the age of 90.

17. Pull someone’s leg

Meaning: To tease or joke with someone in a playful manner.
In a Sentence: He couldn’t believe it when she told him she won the lottery; she was just pulling his leg.

18. Put all your cards on the table

Meaning: To be completely open and honest about one’s intentions or feelings.
In a Sentence: In a relationship, it’s important to put all your cards on the table and communicate openly.

19. The pot calling the kettle black

Meaning: Accusing someone of a fault or behavior that you are also guilty of.
In a Sentence: It’s like the pot calling the kettle black when he criticizes her for being late; he’s always late himself.

20. Hitting the nail on the head

Meaning: To describe or identify something exactly right.
In a Sentence: Her analysis of the situation was spot on; she was hitting the nail on

the head.

21. All bark and no bite

Meaning: Someone who talks tough but doesn’t take action.
In a Sentence: He blustered about confronting his boss but turned out to be all bark and no bite.

22. Burning the midnight oil

Meaning: Working late into the night or putting in extra effort to get something done.
In a Sentence: He was burning the midnight oil to finish the project before the deadline.

23. A wolf in sheep’s clothing

Meaning: Someone who appears harmless or friendly but is actually deceitful or dangerous.
In a Sentence: He seemed so nice, but he turned out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, betraying our trust.

24. Don’t throw in the towel

Meaning: Don’t give up or surrender; keep trying.
In a Sentence: Even when faced with challenges, she reminded herself not to throw in the towel but to persevere.

25. Walking on eggshells

Meaning: To be very cautious and careful in one’s actions or words, often to avoid conflict.
In a Sentence: After their argument, they were walking on eggshells around each other, trying to avoid further tension.

26. The grass is always greener on the other side

Meaning: People often believe that other people’s situations are better than their own.
In a Sentence: He thought switching jobs would make him happier, but he soon realized that the grass is always greener on the other side.

27. The apple of my eye

Meaning: Someone cherished and loved deeply.
In a Sentence: His granddaughter was the apple of his eye; he adored her above all.

Quizzes About The Idioms in The Article

Quiz 1:

Question: What does the idiom “A dime a dozen” mean?

  1. Extremely rare and valuable.
  2. Very common or of little value.
  3. A dozen dimes in a package.

Answer: 2. Very common or of little value.


Quiz 2:

Question: When might you say “Break a leg”?

  1. When someone needs to take a break.
  2. To wish someone good luck, especially before a performance.
  3. When someone actually breaks their leg.

Answer: 2. To wish someone good luck, especially before a performance.


Quiz 3:

Question: What does it mean when someone is “Caught red-handed”?

  1. They were caught with red-colored items.
  2. They were caught in the act of doing something wrong or illegal.
  3. They were caught blushing.

Answer: 2. They were caught in the act of doing something wrong or illegal.


Quiz 4:

Question: What does “Don’t cry over spilled milk” advise?

  1. You should always cry when you spill milk.
  2. Don’t dwell on past mistakes; move on.
  3. It’s important to cry when things go wrong.

Answer: 2. Don’t dwell on past mistakes; move on.


Quiz 5:

Question: When would you say “The ball is in your court”?

  1. When playing a sport with a ball.
  2. To wish someone good luck.
  3. To indicate that the decision or responsibility is theirs.

Answer: 3. To indicate that the decision or responsibility is theirs.


Quiz 6:

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

  1. Birds like to eat worms.
  2. Acting promptly or arriving early increases chances of success.
  3. Worms are early risers.

Answer: 2. Acting promptly or arriving early increases chances of success.


Quiz 7:

Question: What does “A piece of cake” mean?

  1. A cake that’s easy to bake.
  2. Something very easy to do.
  3. A cake with a missing piece.

Answer: 2. Something very easy to do.


Quiz 8:

Question: When would you use “Hit the nail on the head”?

  1. When referring to carpentry work.
  2. To describe or identify something exactly right.
  3. When discussing a failed attempt.

Answer: 2. To describe or identify something exactly right.


Quiz 9:

Question: What does “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” advise?

  1. To put all your eggs in a single basket.
  2. To diversify your investments or options.
  3. To never have eggs.

Answer: 2. To diversify your investments or options.


Quiz 10:

Question: What does “It’s raining cats and dogs” describe?

  1. A sunny day with clear skies.
  2. A heavy or torrential rain.
  3. A day when animals fall from the sky.

Answer: 2. A heavy or torrential rain.

Conclusion

Idioms for people paint a vivid picture of human behavior, challenges, and relationships. These expressions are like windows into the quirks and complexities of human nature, allowing us to understand and connect with each other on a deeper level. Whether you’re encouraging someone to break a leg or cautioning against counting chickens before they hatch, these idioms are a vibrant part of our language, reflecting the diverse tapestry of human experiences.

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