Information about idioms

This page has information about the idioms listed and quizzed on this part of the website.


This website contains examples of common English idioms. @ An idiom is an expression that has a different meaning than the sum of its words. ~ So although, for example, the learner might know that the word kitten means baby cat, she may well have trouble with the idiom to have kittens, which means to be worried or nervous.

Mastering idioms

To master English, the learner needs not only to understand everyday idioms, but to use them correctly him- or herself. This can be difficult because some idioms are fixed, while others allow variation. For example, you must say kittens; it cannot be: She was having a kitten. On the other hand, the nouns in the following idiom can be singular or plural: to fight like cat and dog / to fight like cats and dogs.

Idiom selection criteria

For this webpage I selected over 500 common British English idioms, with a particular focus on those that include words for parts of the body.

I omitted all phrasal verbs used idiomatically. They are explained and quizzed in their own section of the website.

Exemplification of the chosen idioms

The first two examples of each idiom have been concocted by me, an experienced teacher of English as a second language, as exemplifying a typical use. The examples contain a limited range of vocabulary so that the learner is not distracted by the presence of too many unfamiliar words.

The third and fourth examples Note: This is not yet finished for all idioms. of the idiom have been taken from web pages found by searching in Google. The examples are thus authentic but not necessarily immediately transparent. Learners who really wish to understand the usage of an idiom are recommended to run a similar Google search.


Idioms are an extremely common aspect of the English language. Elsewhere on this site there is more information about idioms, their difficulty and importance.