American Idioms

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Have you every watched an American film or television show with a group of Americans who laughed out loud at something that was just said...but you had no idea what was so funny?

It was most likely because an idiom was used that you had no idea how to translate. Translation just doesn't work for idioms because they don't mean what the words are - but what the group of words mean to locals. Every language has them - but you already know that!

Example of sentences filled with idioms - see the list below to find out what the idioms used here mean:
You may be thinking that idioms are all greek to you and continue to be a doubting Thomas ...saying to yourself, "I can't possibly learn them all." That may be true - but learning a few to begin with is a piece of cake. If you find it difficult, many are in the same boat.  At the end of the list of idioms below are more sentences that combine additional idioms.  See if you can understand them!

I won't beat around the bush, (yes this is an idiom meaning, get right to the point) understanding and using American idioms isn't easy for people who speak English as a second language! You will be amazed at how many are really quite similar in many languages.

Just like any language, idioms or slang expressions, are used all the time by fluent speakers of a language. An idiom is defined by as:


  [id-ee-uhm]  Show IPA
an expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent elements, as kick the bucket  or hang one's head,  or from the general grammatical rules of a language,as the table round  for the round table,  and that is not a constituent of a larger expression of likecharacteristics.
a language, dialect, or style of speaking peculiar to a people.
a construction or expression of one language whose parts correspond to elements in another language but whose total structure or meaning is not matched in the same way in the second language.

Now that you know what an idiom is time to learn some. 

I can't possibly list them all - there are literally hundreds. So with the help of this great website, I will expose you to a few....take a look at all of them and you will be 'in the know'!

From the website - here is a short list of idioms that begin with the letters 'A' and 'B'...

A Bird In The Hand Is Worth Two In The Bush: 
Having something that is certain is much better than taking a risk for more, because chances are you might lose everything.

A Blessing In Disguise: 
Something good that isn't recognized at first.

A Chip On Your Shoulder: 
Being upset for something that happened in the past.

A Dime A Dozen: 
Anything that is common and easy to get.

A Doubting Thomas: 
A skeptic who needs physical or personal evidence in order to believe something.

A Drop in the Bucket: 
A very small part of something big or whole.

A Fool And His Money Are Easily Parted: 
It's easy for a foolish person to lose his/her money.

A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand: 
Everyone involved must unify and function together or it will not work out.

A Leopard Can't Change His Spots: 
You cannot change who you are.

A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned: 
By not spending money, you are saving money (little by little).

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words: 
A visual presentation is far more descriptive than words.

A Piece of Cake: 
A task that can be accomplished very easily.

A Slap on the Wrist: 
A very mild punishment.

A Taste Of Your Own Medicine: 
When you are mistreated the same way you mistreat others.

A Toss-Up: 
A result that is still unclear and can go either way.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words: 
It's better to actually do something than just talk about it.

Add Fuel To The Fire: 
Whenever something is done to make a bad situation even worse than it is.

Against The Clock: 
Rushed and short on time.

All Bark And No Bite: 
When someone is threatening and/or aggressive but not willing to engage in a fight.

All Greek to me:
Meaning less and incomprehensible like someone who cannot read, speak, or understand any of the Greek language would be.

All In The Same Boat: 
When everyone is facing the same challenges.

An Arm And A Leg: 
Very expensive. A large amount of money.

An Axe To Grind: 
To have a dispute with someone.

Apple of My Eye: 
Someone who is cherished above all others.

                                                      As High As A Kite: 
                                                     Anything that is high up in the sky.

                                                         At The Drop Of A Hat: 
                                                         Willing to do something immediately.


Back Seat Driver: 
People who criticize from the sidelines, much like someone giving unwanted advice from the back seat of a vehicle to the driver.

Back To Square One: 
Having to start all over again.

Back To The Drawing Board: 
When an attempt fails and it's time to start all over.

Baker's Dozen: 

Barking Up The Wrong Tree: 
A mistake made in something you are trying to achieve.

Beat A Dead Horse: 
To force an issue that has already ended.

Beating Around The Bush: 
Avoiding the main topic. Not speaking directly about the issue.

Bend Over Backwards: 
Do whatever it takes to help. Willing to do anything.

Between A Rock And A Hard Place: 
Stuck between two very bad options.

Bite Off More Than You Can Chew: 
To take on a task that is way to big.

Bite Your Tongue: 
To avoid talking.

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: 
The family bond is closer than anything else.

Blue Moon: 
A rare event or occurance. 

Break A Leg: 
A superstitious way to say 'good luck' without saying 'good luck', but rather the opposite.

Buy A Lemon: 

To purchase a vehicle that constantly gives problems or stops running after you drive it away.

The next step is to listen for them being used and then use them yourself. Compose a few sentences using them - for example - just using the idioms above that begin with 'A' and 'B',  I composed these sentences:

1. Actions speak louder than words, so bite your tongue and stop adding fuel to the fire. 

2. I bought off more than I could chew so I went back to the drawing board and went back to square one.

3. Once in a blue moon I find myself between a rock and a hard place. 

4. We are all in the same boat, when we buy a new car, we don't want a lemon but a car that works like it is supposed to.

5. I will bend over backwards for my good friends because they are the apple of my eye. I might even pick up a baker's dozen of muffins to bring to them.

I could go on and on...but I will let you play with these..break a leg while you do!


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