27 Idioms for Reading: The Secrets of Bookish Phrases


Idioms are expressions or phrases whose meanings are not literal, but rather figurative. In this article, we will dive into a collection of idioms related to reading, exploring their meanings and providing examples of how they can be used in sentences.

So, if you’ve ever wondered about the world of idioms for reading, get ready to “hit the books” and explore this intriguing topic!

idioms for reading

What is an idiom for reading?

Idioms for reading are phrases or expressions that use words related to reading but have a completely different meaning from their literal interpretations.

These idioms are commonly used in conversation, literature, and various forms of communication to convey ideas, emotions, or situations more vividly.


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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?

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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:

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

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Let’s take a closer look at some popular idioms for reading and understand what they mean:

IdiomMeaningSample Sentence
Hit the booksTo study intensively or gain knowledgeSarah had to hit the books for her exams.
Page-turnerAn engaging book or storyThe novel was a real page-turner.
Read between the linesTo interpret hidden meaningsHe had to read between the lines to understand.
Read like a bookEasily understand someone’s thoughtsShe could read him like a book.
By the bookFollow rules preciselyHe always does things by the book.
BookwormA person who loves to read booksEmily is a true bookworm.
Can’t put it downUnable to stop reading due to interestThe book was so captivating; I couldn’t put it down.
Read the riot actSternly scold or reprimand someoneThe teacher had to read the riot act.
Read the roomAssess the social atmosphere and adjust behavior accordinglyBefore making a joke, read the room first.
Open a can of wormsCreate a complicated situationDiscussing politics opened a can of worms.
Read someone like a bookEasily understand someone’s feelings or thoughtsShe could read her friend like a book.
Take a leaf out of someone’s bookImitate someone’s successful actionsLearn from Steve Jobs and take a leaf out of his book.
Book smartKnowledgeable from reading, lacking practical experienceShe’s book smart but struggles with real-world issues.
Read into somethingAttach a deeper meaning to somethingDon’t read too much into his text.
Read up onResearch a topic thoroughly before discussingI need to read up on the industry before the meeting.
Read the fine printExamine details or conditions carefullyAlways read the fine print before signing.
Read the writing on the wallRecognize signs of a future eventThe decline in sales was writing on the wall.
Close the book onBring an end to a situation or investigationThe trial allowed us to close the book on the case.
Read my lipsEmphatically emphasize listeningRead my lips: no more excuses.
Read the tea leavesPredict future events based on subtle cluesHe could read the tea leaves and predict trends.
A chapter of accidentsA series of unfortunate eventsLast week felt like a chapter of accidents.
In someone’s good booksLiked and appreciated by someoneAfter helping, I’m in the boss’s good books.
In someone’s bad booksDisliked or criticized by someoneAfter the mistake, I’m in the client’s bad books.
Cook the booksManipulate financial records dishonestlyThe CEO tried to cook the books to hide losses.
Throw the book at someoneImpose maximum punishment or penaltiesThe judge decided to throw the book at the criminal.
Don’t judge a book by its coverDon’t make assumptions based on appearanceDon’t judge a book by its cover; she’s talented.
Turn the pageMove on from a difficult situationAfter the breakup, it’s time to turn the page.

Reading is like opening a door to a world of imagination, where words become keys to unlock endless adventures. If you’re interested in more comparisons to describe reading, you can visit this link: Similes for reading. And for a variety of metaphors related to reading, you can explore this link: Metaphors for reading.

Idioms for Reading

1. Hit the books

Meaning: To study or read intensively, often in preparation for an exam or to acquire knowledge.

In a Sentence: Sarah had to hit the books all weekend to prepare for her final exams.

2. Page-turner

Meaning: A book or story that is so interesting or captivating that it compels you to keep reading eagerly.

In a Sentence: The mystery novel was such a page-turner that I finished it in one sitting.

3. Read between the lines

Meaning: To understand a deeper or hidden meaning in a text or communication by interpreting the unsaid or implied.

In a Sentence: When she said she was “fine,” I knew I had to read between the lines and ask what was really bothering her.

4. Read like a book

Meaning: To understand someone’s thoughts, emotions, or intentions easily, often through their actions or expressions.

In a Sentence: John could read Mary like a book and knew she was excited about the surprise party.

5. By the book

Meaning: To follow rules, procedures, or standards precisely and without deviation.

In a Sentence: The detective always solved cases by the book, never bending the rules.

6. Bookworm

Meaning: A person who loves to read books and spends a lot of time engrossed in them.

In a Sentence: Emily is a bookworm who can finish a novel in a day.

7. Can’t put it down

Meaning: Refers to a book that is so engrossing that it’s impossible to stop reading it.

In a Sentence: That novel was so captivating; I couldn’t put it down until I finished it.

8. Read the riot act

Meaning: To sternly scold or reprimand someone for their unacceptable behavior.

In a Sentence: The teacher had to read the riot act to the unruly students in the classroom.

9. Read the room

Meaning: To assess the mood or atmosphere in a social setting and adjust your behavior accordingly.

In a Sentence: Before cracking a joke, it’s essential to read the room and ensure it’s appropriate.

10. Open a can of worms

Meaning: To create a complicated or difficult situation by addressing a sensitive issue.

In a Sentence: Bringing up the topic of politics at the family dinner opened a can of worms and led to heated debates.

11. Read someone like a book

Meaning: To easily understand someone’s true feelings or thoughts, often by their facial expressions or body language.

In a Sentence: Maria could read her best friend like a book and knew when she was upset.

12. Take a leaf out of someone’s book

Meaning: To adopt or imitate someone else’s successful actions or behaviors.

In a Sentence: If you want to excel in business, you should take a leaf out of Steve Jobs’ book.

13. Book smart

Meaning: Having extensive knowledge from reading or studying but lacking practical or real-world experience.

In a Sentence: Although she was book smart, she struggled with everyday problem-solving.

14. Read into something

Meaning: To attach a deeper or more significant meaning to something than is intended.

In a Sentence: Don’t read too much into his text message; he might just be busy.

15. Read up on

Meaning: To research or study a topic thoroughly before discussing or engaging with it.

In a Sentence: Before the meeting, I need to read up on the latest developments in the industry.

16. Read the fine print

Meaning: To carefully examine the details, terms, or conditions of a contract or document.

In a Sentence: Always read the fine print before signing any agreement to avoid surprises later.

17. Read the writing on the wall

Meaning: To recognize signs or indications of a future event or outcome.

In a Sentence: The decline in sales was a clear sign; we should have read the writing on the wall and prepared accordingly.

18. Close the book on

Meaning: To bring an end to a situation or investigation, often with finality.

In a Sentence: The successful trial finally allowed us to close the book on the long-standing legal dispute.

19. Read my lips

Meaning: An emphatic way of telling someone to listen and understand what is being said.

In a Sentence: Read my lips: I will not tolerate any more excuses for missing deadlines.

20. Read the tea leaves

Meaning: To predict or interpret future events or outcomes based on subtle clues or signs.

In a Sentence: The experienced investor could read the tea leaves and anticipate market trends.

21. A chapter of accidents

Meaning: A series of unfortunate events or incidents.

In a Sentence: Last week felt like a chapter of accidents; everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

22. In someone’s good books

Meaning: To be in favor with someone or to be liked and appreciated by them.

In a Sentence: After helping her with the project, I’m definitely in the boss’s good books.

23. In someone’s bad books

Meaning: To be in disfavor with someone or to be disliked or criticized by them.

In a Sentence: After the mistake at the meeting, I’m afraid I’m in the client’s bad books.

24. Cook the books

Meaning: To manipulate financial records or accounts dishonestly to show a false financial position.

In a Sentence: The CEO was caught trying to cook the books to hide company losses.

25. Throw the book at someone

Meaning: To impose the maximum possible punishment or penalties on someone for their actions.

In a Sentence: The judge decided to throw the book at the criminal, sentencing him to the maximum prison term.

26. Don’t judge a book by its cover

Meaning: To not form opinions or make assumptions about someone or something based solely on their appearance.

In a Sentence: She may seem reserved, but don’t judge a book by its cover; she’s incredibly talented.

27. Turn the page

Meaning: To move on from a difficult or unpleasant situation, leaving it behind.

In a Sentence: After the breakup, it’s time to turn the page and focus on self-improvement.

Quizzes About The Idioms in The Article

  1. What does the idiom “Hit the books” mean?
    a) To read for enjoyment
    b) To study intensively
    c) To donate books
    d) To write a book
  2. If a book is described as a “page-turner,” what does that mean?
    a) It’s difficult to read
    b) It’s a long book
    c) It’s boring
    d) It’s captivating and hard to put down
  3. What does it mean to “read between the lines”?
    a) To read a book carefully
    b) To interpret hidden meanings in a text
    c) To read a book quickly
    d) To skip lines while reading
  4. If someone can “read like a book,” what can they do?
    a) They can read books very quickly
    b) They can understand someone’s thoughts or feelings easily
    c) They can write books
    d) They can’t read books at all
  5. What does it mean to do something “by the book”?
    a) To read a book carefully
    b) To follow rules or procedures precisely
    c) To read a book quickly
    d) To read a book without understanding it
  6. What is a “bookworm”?
    a) A type of insect that eats books
    b) A person who loves to read books
    c) A book that is worn out
    d) A book with a worm on the cover
  7. If a book is so interesting that you “can’t put it down,” what does that mean?
    a) The book is heavy
    b) The book is difficult to read
    c) The book is not interesting
    d) You can’t stop reading the book because it’s captivating
  8. What does it mean when someone is told to “read the riot act”?
    a) To read a book about riots
    b) To sternly scold or reprimand someone for bad behavior
    c) To read the rules of a riot
    d) To ignore a riot
  9. When you “read the room,” what are you doing?
    a) Reading a book about a room
    b) Assessing the mood or atmosphere in a social setting
    c) Reading a book in a quiet room
    d) Ignoring the room
  10. What does the idiom “don’t judge a book by its cover” advise against?
    a) Judging a book by its weight
    b) Judging a book by its cover design
    c) Making assumptions about someone or something based solely on appearance
    d) Never judging any book

Answers:

  1. b) To study intensively
  2. d) It’s captivating and hard to put down
  3. b) To interpret hidden meanings in a text
  4. b) They can understand someone’s thoughts or feelings easily
  5. b) To follow rules or procedures precisely
  6. b) A person who loves to read books
  7. d) You can’t stop reading the book because it’s captivating
  8. b) To sternly scold or reprimand someone for bad behavior
  9. b) Assessing the mood or atmosphere in a social setting
  10. c) Making assumptions about someone or something based solely on appearance

Conclusion

Idioms for reading are a delightful way to add flair and creativity to your language. By understanding these expressions and incorporating them into your conversations, you can communicate more effectively and engage with others on a deeper level.

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