Important Idioms and Phrases

By Trupti Thool|Updated : February 15th, 2022

Idioms and phrases play a vital role in the English portion of different competitive examinations such as Bihar Police SI, Constable AAO, and other Government examinations. Candidates can easily achieve a high score in the English portion if they are familiar with key idioms and phrases and their meanings.


What are Idioms?

Idioms are a group of words or phrases that have a well-established and well-known metaphorical meaning. As a result, these statements cannot be taken literally since they would sound absurd. Idioms need not be grammatically correct too. Idioms are phrases that show human behaviors, reactions to particular situations, social characteristics, habits, and traditions.


Apple of someone's eyes

  • Meaning: a person or thing that someone loves very much
  • Sentence: His youngest daughter is the apple of his eye as she is his firstborn.

A left-handed compliment

  • Meaning: An insult in the pretence of expression of appreciation.
  • Sentence: She said she liked my hair, but it turned out to be a left-handed compliment when she asked how long I'd been dyeing it.

Best Tricks to Learn Idioms and Phrases 

One Step at a Time

Do not try to learn all idioms in a single day. It will lead to confusion and difficulty to revise. Set a specific number as a target and learn that many idioms daily. You can learn one pdf from the following series and revise it and the next day, learn the other 20 idioms. 

Try to Relate Idioms with the Pictures and Visual Representation

This is one of the most effective approaches. When you listen to an idiom try to recreate its picture in your mind and then try to co-relate the picture with the idiom and its meaning. Refer to the following Picture to understand the point


Learn the Context of the Idioms

In reality, idioms are the result of life situations and are used to explain behaviors and situations. So, it is not always necessary to know the meaning. In fact, you try to learn and imagine the context of the situation in which idioms are used. . Try to comprehend the context in which an idiom or phrase was employed. It will help you better comprehend and remember a certain idiom. As a result, context is critical. There are numerous different phrases that may be used in the same context.

Try to use these idioms in daily communication to explain real-life scenarios.

Write a Essay/ Story/ Paragraph

This is a very effective approach especially for SSC CGL and  SSC CHSL aspirants. You can try to write a paragraph on any particular topic and try to use idioms in that paragraph. This exercise will help you in your descriptive paper too. Students can also write a story which will increase their creative writing skills. 

Learn, Write and Revise


When you read idioms try to hear properly and understand the tone of idiom, whether it is referring to positive tone or negative. Try to co-relate the meaning with the Sounds of the words present in the idioms. Once done with it, write the idioms and make a list of the idioms learned by you. This will help you memorize new idioms and then revise them at the regular time period 

Important Idioms and Phrases

Top 15 Idioms on Food

S.NoList of Idioms Meaning
1.Big CheeseA very important person
2.Bread and Butterthe basic necessities of life
3.Cup of JoeA cup of coffee
4.Out to lunchCrazy or mad
5.Use Noodleuse brain
6.One smart cookieAn intelligent person
7.Freeze one's bun offto be cold 
8.Gravy trainGood pay for minimal work
9.Peach fuzzThe small amount of hair growth
10.Carrot TopA person with orange/red hair.
11Butter someone upto be extra nice to someone
12Nut about something/someoneLike something a lot
13.Food for thoughtworth consideration
14.a bun in the ovenbe pregnant
15.the cream of the cropthe best

Top 20 Idioms on body parts

S.NoList of Idioms Meaning
1.Stiff Upper LipTo remain brave under adverse conditions
2.Tight-LippedUnwilling to speak about an event
3.Music to EarsSoothing to your ears 
4.By the skin of your teethsucceed in doing something by a narrow margin
5.Keep your chin upBe courageous in adverse conditions
6.Catch eyecome to one's notice
7.See eye to eyeto agree with someone completely
Pull the wool over eyes 
to deceive someone  
9.Upper hand to exercise authority  
10. Dab Handadept or skillful 
Backhanded compliment 
A compliment that works as an insult.
12. Sticky fingersA strong inclination towards stealing. 
13. Pat on the back To receive praise upon good work. 
14. foot the billto pay the bills 
15. Neck and Neck Extremely near  
Yoke around neck 
 Trouble for someone 
17.Cost an arm and a leg Very expensive. 
18. Tongue in cheeksay something jokingly while being serious 
Green around the gills 
A person who looks sick 
20. Foam at the mouthGet extremely angry. 

Top 20 Idioms on Animals

S.NoList of Idioms Meaning
1.Cat NapShort sleep, usually during the day
2.Wag the dogTo divert the attention from something bad
3.Dog daysHot and Sultry days
4.Donkey Years'A very long time
5.Go to the dogsBecome unsuccessful or degrade in quality. 
6.A fish out of water Become restless
7.Drink like a fishDrink heavily 
8.When Pigs fly Something that is not possible or unlikely to occur
9.Lion's shareThe biggest part of the whole.
10.Fish for a compliment to make someone say good things about you
11Get your Goatto irritate someone/somebody
12Pig-headedRefers to a stupid often stubborn person
13. The Cat's Meowused to refer something great.
14.The lion's denRefers to an uncomfortable place
Bring owls to Athens 
Refers to a futile or useless attempt 
16. At a snail's paceMoving at a very slow pace. 
Make a beeline for 
Go hastily to someone or something 
18.An Ugly duckling  An unattractive child who becomes beautiful/successful once mature against all expectations.
19. Bull in a china shopTo turn out aggressive when a situation that demands one to remain calm.
20. Can of wormssomething that is complicated 


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