So you’re walking about Australia, the U.K., The States…. Any English speaking country and you hear the most bizarre phrase you have ever heard in your life. You think to yourself…. Wow. These people must be crazy! While in some cases this may be true, you might have just heard one of our very popular but also very strange sounding idioms! Our idioms can sound absolutely ridiculous if you don’t know them. Let’s have a little practice with some really popular English idioms so you don’t freak out the next time someone tells you to “break a leg,” which really just means ‘good luck!’ I promise we don’t want you injured. I’m going to tell you a little story. Try and guess what the idioms might mean and then check your answers below.
Angie was once planning a surprise party. It was her best friend Mary’s birthday, and she wanted to do something really special because it’s only once in a blue moon that someone does something special for her. She drove around with Ashley, her other friend, grabbing items like cake, decorations, and presents. They didn’t want everything costing an arm and leg so they got a few other friends to pitch in with some money so they could all make this day super special. The last time Mary had a birthday they cut corners and it turned out to be a bust. The cake was terrible and to add insult to injury, the DJ ended up not showing up, so there was no music!
Ashley and Angie discussed some more plans together and saw eye to eye on where they should hold Mary’s birthday. The bar down the street from her house would be perfect. They could kill two birds with one stone by telling Mary they were just having a casual drink at the bar, but really all of her friends would be there. That way they didn’t have to trick her too much. It would be a piece of cake!
As they were shopping at the grocery store for some snack food to bring they were discussing what presents Mary would like. All of a sudden, Ashley whispered… “Speak of the devil!” Angie turned around and sure enough, there was Mary! The girls hid on the next aisle so they didn’t get caught. That was a close one, they thought.
Angie then told Ashley they should order vanilla cake, it was Mary’s favorite. They should also perhaps taste a sample so the cake wouldn’t be horrible like last year! Ashley said, “you hit the nail on the head! Great idea.”
After everything was completed for the party the girls anxiously waited along with all of Mary’s friends at the bar. They had their friend John go pick Mary up and to only tell her that just 3-4 friend were waiting at the bar to have a casual drink. No big deal. John did just that, and right as they pulled up to the parking lot another friend, Alex, was getting out of his car. Mary saw Alex and said, “Hey! What are doing here Alex?” Alex replied, “Hey Mary! Happy birthday, we’re all here for you!!!” Johns mouth dropped and he exclaimed, “Alex! You just let the cat out of the bag!” Alex turned red and apologized profusely. He begged Mary to act surprised when the doors opened. She did just that and end up having the best surprise birthday ever!
So how did you do? What did these idioms mean? Here are a list of the idioms with the meaning along with a few other popular ones we use often. Try these out during your Skype English lesson and see how you do!
- The best of both worlds- advantages of two good things. Someone can have the best of two different things.
- Speak of the devil- It’s when you are speaking about someone and they suddenly arrive or appear in your presence.
- See eye to eye- That people agree on a certain issues.
- Once in a blue moon- an event that happens infrequently.
- When pigs fly– basic something that will never happen. Kind of like pigs flying…right?
- Cost and arm and leg- something is very expensive.
- Piece of cake– Something is very easy.
- Let the cat out of the bag– You said something that was supposed to be a secret.
- Feeling under the weather– It means you’re not feeling well, you’re sick.
- Kill two birds with one stone– To do two things simultaneously.
- Cut corners– Doing something badly or cheaply.
- Add insult to injury– To make a situation worse.
- Can’t judge a book by it’s cover– You can’t decide on something based on it’s outward appearance.
- Break a leg– Good luck!
- Hit the nail on the head– You did or said something that was exactly right.