As you know, every language has its own collection of wise sayings. They offer advice about how to live and also transfer some underlying ideas, principles and values of a given culture / society. These sayings are called « idioms » or proverbs if they are longer. These combinations of words have (rarely complete sentences) a « figurative » meaning and they basically work with « pictures ». A good List of commonly used idioms and sayings (in everyday conversational English), can help to speak English fluently by learning English idiomatic expressions.
This is the list we studied in 2019 - 2020.
1. TO HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD.
It is a saying that simply means you have done or said something exactly right. You have matched someone’s feelings/point. You are correct or accurate. You do exactly the right thing.
Example : You’ve hit the nail on the head. That’s exactly what I want.
2. IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE.
It is used for saying that someone must have a bad quality themselves if they can recognize it in other people. A childish retort used to suggest that the person who has accused someone of being some negative thing is in fact that thing (as if being that thing would help one to identify others of like kind). In other words, you are the same kind of person as the person you are criticizing.
Example: You say she's a terrible cook? You can’t even fry an egg. It takes one to know one!
3. TO CUT A DASH.
It means to make a striking appearance or impression. To have an attractive, and elegant appearance. If someone cuts a dash, they impress other people with their stylish appearance.
Example: She cuts a dash with her designer clothes and expensive car.
4. TO BE HAIRY AT THE HEELS.
It means to be ill-bred or untrustworthy. Someone who is hairy at the heel is considered as dangerous. An unpredictable and unreliable person. It used to be said that it was a sign of poor breeding if a horse had too much hair about the fetlocks. The image of a hairy heel is indeed striking and funny. Agatha Christie used it several times in her books.
Example: I can’t say I like Boris. I’ve once or twice had a row with him. He’s a bit hairy at the heel.
5. GET YOUR SKATES ON.
It means to hurry up or to move faster. To make haste. If someone tells you to get your skates on, they are telling you to hurry up. The word skates in this idiom likely refers to roller skates or ice skates. Imagine someone moving quickly wearing a pair of skates.
Example: Our flight leaves in 15 minutes. Get your skates on or we’ll miss it!
6. TO BE THE BEE'S KNEES.
It means to be exceptionally great, excellent, or high-quality. If something or someone is the bee's knees, they are extremely good. Some people believe that this expression refers to the way in which bees transfer pollen (= the powder that flowers make) from their bodies to pollen sacs on their back legs
Example: I loved this jacket when I bought it — I thought it was the bee's knees.
7. TO PAY THROUGH THE NOSE.
It means to pay an exorbitant amount of money (for something), especially more than is reasonable. To pay much more than a fair price. The origin of this term has been lost. Possibly it alludes to the Danish nose tax, imposed in Ireland in the 9th century, whereby delinquent taxpayers were punished by having their noses slit. [Second half of 1600s]
Example: If you drive into London, you have to pay through the nose for parking but also for the Congestion Charge.
8. TO GO ON A WILD GOOSE CHASE.
It means to do something pointless. If you are on a wild goose chase, you waste a lot of time searching for something that you have little chance of finding, because you have been given incorrect information. It is an absurd or hopeless pursuit, as of something unattainable.
Example: She ended up on a wild goose chase trying to find a rental house of her dream.
9. TO THROW A WOBBLY.
It means to lose your temper in a noisy, uncontrolled, and childish way, often about something unimportant. To become suddenly very agitated or angry. To suddenly become very upset or intensely angry and make a big display of it.
Example: John threw a wobbly at work after the boss criticized his report. Needless to say, he won't be welcome back in the office on Monday.
10. EASY DOES IT.
It means to relax; to do something gently, lightly or carefully. To slow down; to calm down. Don't lose your temper.
Example: Easy does it on the salt. I'm trying to cut down.
11. EVERY CLOUD HAS A SILVER LINING.
It means be optimistic because even difficult times will lead to better days. You should never feel hopeless because difficult times always lead to better days. Difficult times are like dark clouds that pass overhead and block the sun. When we look more closely at the edges of every cloud we can see the sun shining there like a silver lining. Looking at the positive side of things even when difficult times are present.
Example: I know you’re disappointed that it’s raining outside and so we can’t go on that picnic we had planned. But every cloud has a silver lining, now we can do something fun indoors, like play a board game with everyone.
12. ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING.
It is said when an event or performance has come to an end, or when someone or something has left a place, especially in a dramatic fashion. The phrase refers to an announcement famously made at the end of Elvis Presley concerts alerting people that he vacated the premises and no further encores would be played.
Example: I came here, to take photos of the tornado from near, but it turned away before reaching to us. Elvis has left the building.
13. A CHIP OF THE OLD BLOCK.
You use it for someone whose character or personality resembles that of their parent. If you describe someone as a chip off the old block, you mean that they are just like one of their parents in appearance, character or behaviour.
Example: Mike's car repair skills really rival those of his father. He's a real chip off the old block!
14. TO MIND YOUR Ps AND Qs.
It means to make an effort to be especially polite in a particular situation. Be on your best behaviour; be careful of your language. Ps and Qs are just the plurals of the letters P and Q. The origin is quite controversial but some people argued that, closely fitting the “mind your manners” sense, it might just have been an abbreviation of mind your pleases and thank-yous, a view advanced in particular by some dictionaries.
Example: You’d better mind your Ps and Qs when you meet Julia’s parents.
15. BIRDS OF A FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER.
It is said about people who have similar characters or interests, especially ones of which you disapprove, and who often spend time with each other. Similar people tend to associate with each other.
Example: I always thought Marjory was pretentious, and now she's going out with that snobbish boy, Andrew. Birds of a feather flock together.