is one type of figurative
in the English language.
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An idiom is a commonly used phrase
that does not mean what it says.
Idioms should not be taken literally
That means that you should not believe it exactly as it is written.
For example, if a teacher wants her students to listen, she might
me your ears!
If we understood this phrase with a literal
meaning, it would mean that the teacher
asking the students to remove their ears and give them to her
would be strange! It could never happen.
is actually an idiom
so we do not use the literal meaning. Instead, we understand it by
me your ear
is a way to ask for someone's
attention. The teacher is asking
her students to listen when she speaks.
Let us look at another idiom example:
This is another common American
This phrase does
that he literally
had some marbles and now he cannot find them.
language. It is an idiom that means someone is acting
crazy or insane.
Idiom examples American English
Here are a few common American English idioms and their meanings.
- raining cats and dogs
(When it is raining heavily, you can say it is raining
cats and dogs.)
It rained cats and
dogs last night.
- hit the sack/hit the hay
(If someone is going to hit
the sack or hit
the hay, they are going to bed.)
I'm tired. I'm going to hit
- get over it
(It means to overcome a problem. When someone is
complaining about something, you might tell them to get
over it (stop thinking about it).
It has been a week since I broke your window. It is time to get
- drive someone up the wall
(If someone is driving
up the wall, they are irritating or annoying you.)
It is almost summer break and my friends are driving
me up the wall.
- tie the knot
(When people get married, they tie
My parents tied the
knot in 1973.
- catch some Zs
(If you want to catch
some Zs, you want to go to sleep.)
After work, I am going to catch
- under the weather
(When you are feeling ill, you are under
Tom missed work. He was feeling under
the weather yesterday.
- a slap on the wrist
(A slap on the wrist
is a very mild punishment.)
After the fight, I was in big trouble, but my brother
just got a slap
on the wrist.
- all Greek to me
(If I say something is all
to me, I am telling you I do not understand it.)
The instructions are all
- on its last leg
(If your car is on
its last leg, it needs a lot of repair.)
Nick will have to buy a new car soon. His car is on
its last leg.
here for a longer, alphabetical list of common American
British English idioms
Idioms can be unique to a language, culture, or area. This means
that an American English idiom may not have the same meaning (or any
meaning at all) in another language or culture.
and British English
are similar, they do not always use the
To learn more about the differences between idioms in American
English and British English, click on this link:
This was an overview of English idioms. Now that you understand, it
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