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What is an Idiom for Kids, Linguistic Students, Researchers

According to a survey, a native English speaker on average knows about 25,000 idiomatic phrases to enhance the impact of their speech. Idioms are very important to learn, especially for linguistic students and writers. We are here to expand your knowledge about what is an idiom and how you can use all widely used types of idioms in your writing assignments.

Whom Idioms Are For?

  • Idioms are used in languages across the world and considered one of the most important writing mechanics in academics.
  • Students use idioms in their assignments, creative writings, and essays to create a powerful impact.
  • Writers use idioms to create a powerful impact of speech and to promote the understanding of characters.

Why Are Idioms Important?

Idioms are used to add variety and uniqueness in the context. Let’s be real, there isn’t a topic or genre in the world that hasn’t been talked about. But what makes them unique is the way of putting words together. The style and the speech used to portray characters and information is what makes a content stand out. And that’s when idioms come handy. They are essential in order to improve communication skills.

The author shared, “I didn’t understand what is an Idiom or clear cut idiom definition until I felt like my content is not relatable and engaging. That’s when I incorporate idioms in my writing to create a depth in characters, dialogues, and ideas. It helps me communicate in a better way with the readers.”

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How Frequently Idioms Are Used in Daily Life?

A study was conducted to analyze which genres of literature use idioms the most. It allows students to evaluate where idioms are mostly used. Below we are sharing the genres and the percentages by which the common idioms are used in them and by what percentage they are used in one another.





































Source: University of Tehran

Where You Can Learn About Idioms?

Following are the few resources that are going to help you practice after learning what is an Idiom.

NetflixWatch movies and shows and notice how characters use idioms in particular situations and scenes. 
KwiziqA language learning platform with question papers and daily quizzes. 
Group Studies Involve in group studies to practice speaking and memorizing the idioms. 
The Great Book of American Idioms: A Dictionary of American Idioms, Sayings, Expressions & Phrases.Reading this book really helps in understanding the meaning and accurately placing them in context. 
TandemA platform that can help you find a native speaking partner with whom you can practice 

What is an Idiom- A Professional Accurate Guide

You are all excited to learn what Is an example of an idiom, before that understand the definition.

The word Idiom is derived from the Greek word idios, which means ‘private .’It is a common phrase, expression, or saying whose meaning you can’t derive from looking at the individual words.

The idiom definition says that they are figurative terms that have non-literal meanings; we can’t understand them only by deciphering the words.

For example, when someone says, “It’s raining cats and dogs, ” it does not illustrate that the cats and dogs are falling from the sky. Instead, it means that “it’s raining heavily.”

Similarly, the idiom “don’t beat about the bush” has a different meaning when broken down into individual words. However, its idiomatic meaning is “Don’t talk about irrelevant and unimportant things; just come to the point.”

The idiom “That’s how the ball bounces” seemingly means ” how balls jump.”. But in idiomatic terms, its correct meaning is that “the things are just out of our control.”

Similarly, when we say “kill two birds with one stone,” we never mean to kill the birds using the stone. We mean to say that “complete two tasks at once.”

To understand what is an idiom more clearly, let’s break them down into simpler steps.

  • Expression or Word Combination:
    • An idiom can be a phrase, expression, or combination of words.
    •  It can be even a single word that can act as idiomatically.
  • Peculiar:
    • These are commonly used in a special community or group of people familiar with them, such as native or fluent speakers.
    • It is similar to a joke or any funny terms we discuss in our private friend’s group, etc., and no one can literally understand them.
    • Every language has some private language terms that are strange to others.
    •  In a nutshell, these are rare to understand for everybody.
  • Figurative Meaning: To understand it, consider any language has two layers such as:
    • Literal Meaning: Words, expressions, or phrases that we can simply and straightaway search in the dictionary to understand. For example, “Cow has four legs.”
    • Figurative Meaning: Figurative terms or words are those that we can’t understand in a non-literal way. These don’t have straightaway meanings and definitions.
  • Different from Literal Meaning:
    • We can’t derive or understand their meanings by looking at the individual word in an idiomatic expression.
    • For example, “that is the way ball bounces” is an idiom, but we can derive its meanings correctly by looking individual words up in a dictionary.

Types of Idioms with Meaning, Sentences and Examples

What is an idiom can classify into? Well, there are four types such as (1) Pure Idiom, (2) Binomial Idiom, (3) Partial Idiom, and (4) Prepositional Idiom.

Let us understand the types of idioms one by one.

Pure Idiom

  • As per pure idiom definition, these are typical idioms that we use regularly in an English assignment and projects. This means, in the normal way, when people think or talk about idioms, they refer to these kinds of idioms.
  • In these phrases or expressions, the individual word or component does not contain any relationship or resemblance with the actual meaning of the phrase.
  • This means we can’t deduce or understand them by looking at the individual words.
  • Seemingly, they don’t have any literal meanings.
  • They are private, and only the native people or the groups of people can understand them easily.
  • In a nutshell, pure idioms are non-transparent idioms where an individual word or component provides no literal meaning or hint.

Pure Idiom Meaning and Example Sentences:

Pure IdiomMeaningExample Sentences
“Spill the bean”Revealing secretNobody will spill the beans about the night party.
“Don’t beat about the bush.”Talking irrelevant and unnecessary thingsPlease tell me what you want without beating around the bush.
“Hard nut to crack”Very difficultWriting 5000 words in a single day is a hard nut to crack.
“Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.”Creating chaos over minor thingsIt was a mistake, but don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. 
“The ball is in your court.”The decision is up to you.Tell me what to do because now the ball is in your court. 
“Take a rain check.”Politely declining someone’s offerCan I take a rain check and play cricket with you tomorrow?

Binomial Idiom

  • The binomial idioms contain exactly two words.
  • These are joined or connected using a conjunction or any preposition.
  • They work as a single idiomatic unit or expression to convey meaning.
  • You can’t break them into individual parts or words to understand them correctly because that takes away the purpose of what is an idiom exactly.

Binomial Idioms Meaning and Example Sentences:

Binomial IdiomMeaningSentences
“Back and forth” “Moving in one direction and then opposite without making any progress.”He was moving back and forth while eating the food.
“Black and white”“Easy to understand,”I think this science topic is black and white; no need to revise.
“Bits and pieces” “Scattered parts”He reached the destination, even having bits and pieces of the information.
“Do or die.”“Succeed at any cost”This final match is a do-or-die for us to win the World Cup.
“Eat or be eaten” “Be aggressive and proactive to survive the competing environment.”Be aggressive in this competitive market; it is like eating or being eaten.
“High and dry.”“Leave someone in a difficult situation.”The company sacked the employees, leaving them high and dry.
“My way or the highway” “Accept someone’s points or order; otherwise, leave.”I can’t work with managers my way or the highway behavior. 
“Night and day”“Shows the difference between two things.”You have improved your performance like night and day compared to the previous month. 

Partial Idiom

  • Partial idioms are those idiomatic phrases or expressions that are not complete on their own.
  • They are sometimes called clipped idioms because they contain only a partial or single part of the original idioms.
  • They usually borrow the first part of the first few words from the original idiomatic sentences.
  • Although they don’t contain the full structure, they keep the figurative or original meaning intact.
  • Native speakers or people familiar with what is an idiom and readily understand the meaning and context without worrying about the missing part or structure.
  • What Is an example of an Idiom like that? So, “spill the bean” is a partial idiom, while its full form is “spill the bean about something.”
  • Moreover, “kick the bucket” is a partial idiom, while its complete version is “kick the bucket like a horse.”

Partial Idiom Meaning and Examples:

Partial IdiomMeaningFull Idiom
“Blow it.”“To fail or make a mistake.”“Blow it all.”
“Cracking up”“Laughing uncontrollably”“Cracking up with laughter”
“Drop the ball”“Forget something important.”“Drop the ball on something.”
“Have a ball.”“Have a lot of fun.”“Have a ball doing something.”
“Spill the bean”“Reveal secret”“Spill the beans about something.”
“Take it easy”“Relax or calm down”“Take it easy on someone or something.”

Prepositional Idiom

  • As per the idiom definition of prepositional idioms, they are those expressions or phrases in which the meaning of the entire Idiom depends upon the preposition.
  • This means that changing the preposition alters the context of the entire idiomatic phrase.
  • Prepositional idioms contain prepositions such as “in,” on,” “under,” etc.
  • They contain prepositions along with nouns, verbs, and adjectives.

Prepositional Idiom Meaning and Examples:

Prepositional IdiomMeaningPrepositional IdiomMeaning
“Come down hard on someone.” “Punishing severely”“Come up with an idea.” “Event”
“Get off on something.” “Enjoying deeply”Get on with someone“Get along”
Look down on someone“Consider someone inferior.”“Look up to someone” “Admire”
“Run out of something” “Become depleted”“Run into someone.” “Encounter unexpectedly”

What is an Idiom: Basic Understanding

  • “A piece of cake”
  • “Barking up the wrong tree”
  • “Cry over spilled milk.”
  • “Hold your horses.”
  • “Let the cat out of the bag.”

Biggest Challenges Students Face While Using Idioms

Following are some problems students have reported regarding the use of Idioms.

  • Difficulty in understanding the different meaning of expression from the meaning of each word.
  • Idioms are not much discussed that well so it creates problems regarding the lack of discussion in the classroom.
  • Difficulty in distinguishing between idioms and ordinary english phrases.
  • Scarcity of knowledge because not many students use idioms these days.

Overcoming Challenges: What Is an Idiom List For Students?

The answer to all those challenges mentioned above is that students need to ask others about the meaning of idioms. The biggest solution is to practice using the idioms. That’s why below we’ve shared what is an idiom example list for students is and what they mean in the given context.

“Hit the books.”

  • Meaning: Study hard
  • Example: Salman hit the books to pass the 9th exam.

“Ace the test.”

  • Meaning: Perform exceptionally well in the exam.
  • Example: You can ace the competitive test if you work hard.

“Think outside the box.”

  • Meaning: Be creative and bring new ideas
  • Example: Think outside the box to stay ahead of the competition. 

“Burn the midnight oil.”

  • Meaning: Study day and night, work hard
  • Example: He burnt the midnight oil to pass his previously failed subjects. 

“Brain Drain”

  • Meaning:wasting the talent.
  • Example: “The university is concerned about the potential brain drain after many graduating students accept jobs abroad.”

“Cram for the exam”

  • Meaning: Studying intensively
  • Example: He has been cramming for the exam since last year. 

“Get cold feet.”

  • Meaning: Getting nervous about something
  • Example: Don’t get cold feet due to your presentation. 

“Play it by ear”

  • Meaning: dealing with things with a flexible and adapting mind without pre-planning. 


  • Meaning: Staying up all night
  • Example: “I pulled an all-nighter studying for the final exam; my eyes feel like sandpaper!”

“Piece of cake”

  • Meaning: Very easy
  • Example: Writing an English essay is a piece of cake for me.

“Go down the wire”

  • Meaning: Finish something before the deadline 
  • Example: “The presentation is tomorrow, and I’m still adding slides – it’s going down to the wire!”.

Trendy and Most Used List of Idioms

“A penny for your thoughts.”

  • Meaning: Curious about someone’s actions, thoughts, and opinions.

“Actions speak louder than words.”

  • Meaning:  practical deeds are far better than simply speaking the words.

“All that glitters is not gold.”

  • Meaning:  Anything that looks pretty from appearance can be deceptive inside. 

“Barking up the wrong tree.”

  • Meaning: pursuing the wrong direction. Misguided.

“Beat around the bush.”

  • Meaning: Talking about irrelevant or unnecessary things.

“Better late than never.”

  • Meaning: It is wise to do something even late instead of not doing it at all.

“Bite the bullet.”

  • Meaning: Facing complex or difficult situations.

“Break a leg.”

  • Meaning: Wishing someone the best of luck before any performance. 

“By the skin of your teeth.”

  • Meaning: A narrow victory. 

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

  • Meaning: Putting all the resources into a single adventure or risky thing. 

“Every cloud has a silver lining.”

  • Meaning: Better time comes after every difficult situation. 

“Fit as a fiddle.”

  • Meaning: In excellent condition or health. 

“Give the benefit of the doubt.”

  • Meaning:  Believing someone’s statement even if there are uncertainties or doubts. 

“Go the extra mile.”

  • Meaning:  Making additional efforts to achieve something. 

“Haste makes waste.”

  • Meaning: Acting too quickly can result in mistakes. 

“Hit the nail on the head.”

  • Meaning: Exactly identifying and describing the main point or issue.

“In the heat of the moment.”

  • Meaning: In emotions or excitements. 

“It’s raining cats and dogs.”

  • Meaning: It’s raining heavily. 

“Kill two birds with one stone.”

  • Meaning: Doing two tasks at once.

6 Categories of Idiomatic Expressions – You Must Know

6 Categories of Idiomatic Expressions

Now that you have an idea of what is an idiom, we can categorize idiomatic expressions into six categories depending on their characteristics and usage. So we have crafted them to help you differentiate between idioms by looking at them. 

    Proverbs or Sayings: They are historical and offer truth, guidance, or wisdom. For example, “Actions speak louder than words”.

    Metaphors: Metaphors explicitly compare two unrelated things. E.g. “kick the bucket”

    Similes: Similes are those idiomatic expressions that use words such as “like” and “as” to compare things. E.g. “As busy as a bee,” “Like a fish out of water.”

    Phrasal Verbs: Phrasal verbs are those idiomatic expressions that contain verbs followed by prepositions or adverbs. e.g.” Take off,” “put up with.” 

    Fixed Expressions: Fixed expressions have a static structure, and we can’t change them to deduce their meanings from individual words. e.g. “bite the bullet” and “cost an arm and a leg.”

    Colloquialism: Colloquialism is informal and culturally specific. They belong to a specific dialect or region. E.g. “Hit the hay” and “Break a leg.”

What is an idioms list for Kids?

Idioms Table
Idiom Meaning Example Sentence
“All thumbs” Clumsy, uncoordinated. “I’m all thumbs this morning; I can’t seem to button my shirt!”
“Butterfly in your tummy” Nervous I had butterflies in my tummy before the quiz.
“Head in the Clouds” Lost in daydreaming, busy Asim had his head in the clouds and did not notice the storms.
“Raining Cats and Dogs” Raining heavily We could not reach the spot because it was raining cats and dogs.
“A Piece of Cake” Easy task Writing 500 words in an hour is a piece of cake for me.
“Break a Leg” Good luck Break a leg on your CSS exam.
“Give it a Shot.” Try once Although I was nervous, finally, I gave it a shot.
“Hit the books.” Study hard Babr hit the books to pass matriculation.
“Think outside the box.” Be Creative Think outside the box to survive in Web Development.
“Birds of a feather flock” Similar people are often friends Umar and Ali are friends because birds of a feather flock together.
“Cut someone some slack.” Forgive someone He cut him some slack due to his illness.
“On the same page” Agree with each other All political parties are on the same page for boosting the country’s economy.
“Thick as thieves.” Close friends They belong to the same village and are thick thieves.
“Two peas in a pod” Very similar Shoaib and Asif are two peas in a pod.
“Every cloud has a silver lining.” A good time comes after a bad “Don’t worry; even if things seem bad now, every cloud has a silver lining.”
“Keep your chin up.” Don’t give up. Work hard and keep your chin up to pass the exam.
“Never say never.” Anything is possible Never say never; you can still qualify for the final.
“The sky’s the limit.” No limit; you can achieve anything. Go ahead, and the sky’s the limit for you.
“Miss the boat.” To miss the opportunity You miss the boat to invest in a property.

Idiom Vs Metaphor – Master the Key Differences

What is an Idiom?

  • Idioms indirectly draw a comparison between two different things.
  • They don’t explicitly use words such as “like,” “as,” etc.
  • We can’t conclude their meanings from individual words.
  • They are cultural, Community, or group-specific.
  • Idiom definitions say that they are phrases or expressions with a symbolic meaning different from their literal meanings.
  • We use idioms in our daily sentences to describe any situation.

What Is an example of an Idiom:

  •  “Life is a rollercoaster,”
  •  “His smile was sunshine after a storm,”
  • “That joke was a real knee-slapper.”

What is a Metaphor?

  • A metaphor explicitly compares two different or unlike things using words such as “like,” “as,” etc.
  • They make comparisons by using any shared or common characteristics between things.
  • People widely use metaphors in literature, music, poetry, etc., because they bring clarity and depth to our communication.

Examples of Metaphors:

  • “Time is a thief”. 
  • Meaning: “Time passes quickly, often stealing away precious moments.”
  • “Her words were music to my ears.” 
  • Meaning: “Her words were pleasant to hear.”
  • “Life is a journey.”
  • Meaning: “Life is a process of traveling through experiences and challenges.”

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4 Important Characteristics of Idiomatic Expressions

  • Figurative or Nonliteral Meanings: We can’t understand their meanings by looking at the individual words. They have figurative meanings
  • Fixed Structure: Changing the order of the words or even slight modification changes the meanings of the whole sentences. This is what is an idiom is all about. They are fixed in structure, and we can’t make even a slight variation
  • Cultural or Community Specific: They are well-known to a specific culture or Community, such as native English speakers. Strangers find them difficult to understand
  • Brevity and Conciseness:  They describe or pack a lot of meanings into a few words. For example, “break a leg” and “kick the bucket.”

4 Key Differences Between Idioms and Phrases

They have symbolic or non-literal meanings.Phrases can have figurative and literal meanings.
Idioms are fixed structures.Phrases have flexible word order and structure.
Idioms are complex and hard to understand.Phrases are simpler and easy to understand.
Idioms have cultural or historical roots.We can make a phrase readily or on the spot. 
What is an idiom example? “Kick the bucket”What is a phrase example? ” The red car”

21 Formal Idioms in Academic Writing with Meanings

13 Common Idioms for Research and Thesis Writing 

Important Note: Don’t know what is an idiom and how to optimally use them in your thesis writing or research paper? Take quick help from our experts at the thesis writing service platform. 

11 Best Idioms for the IELTS Writing and Speaking Exam

Do You Know?

There are some people who consider idioms as English phrases that make no sense because they take the literal meaning seriously. Are you one of them?

Important Take Away

  • The best way to be better at using idioms is to listen to them frequently enough that it comes off naturally in your speech.
  • Notice how characters in TV shows use idioms and in what situation.
  • Use where it needs to be, and don’t cram the content with fancy idioms that feel like jargon.
  • Use idioms according to your audience. If you are writing for formal presentations and business people, avoid using informal idioms. But if you are writing creatively for the general public, you are free to use them as per their understanding level.
  • Practice using idioms in day to day conversations.

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Now Start Using Idioms Confidently

You made it to the end and now we hope you have a clear idea of idioms especially what Is an example of an Idiom. They are very important to learn because they are a part of the academic syllabus, and students have to use different idioms in their assignments, essays, or exams. This exclusive guide comes handy while you practice your idioms.

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