30 Most Common Animal Idioms with Meanings and Examples

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Do you ever feel like someone is “pulling your leg” or that a situation is “a piece of cake”? Did you know that these phrases actually have roots in the animal kingdom? Animal idioms are a fascinating aspect of language, as they often draw on characteristics and behaviors of various creatures to convey universal human experiences. In this article, we will explore 30 of the most common animal idioms with meanings, and provide real-life examples of how they are used in everyday conversation.

30 Color Animal Idioms with Meanings and Examples

Explore the fascinating world of animal idioms with meanings and examples. Discover the 30 most common expressions and their origins today!

#1. Hold your horses

  • Meaning: To be patient or wait.
  • Example: Hold your horses! We’ll be there in a minute.

#2. Cry over spilled milk

  • Meaning: To lament something that has already happened and cannot be changed.
  • Example: There’s no use crying over spilled milk; let’s find a solution.

#3. Curiosity killed the cat

  • Meaning: Being too inquisitive or prying can lead to trouble.
  • Example: I wouldn’t ask too many questions; remember, curiosity killed the cat.

#4. Let the cat out of the bag

  • Meaning: To reveal a secret or disclose information that was meant to be kept confidential.
  • Example: John accidentally let the cat out of the bag about the surprise party.

#5. Monkey see, monkey do

  • Meaning: Imitating the actions of others without understanding the reasons behind them.
  • Example: Children often have a tendency of monkey see, monkey do.

#6. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

  • Meaning: Don’t make plans based on something that may not happen.
  • Example: I wouldn’t spend the money until the deal is finalized; don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

#7. Hit the hay

  • Meaning: To go to bed or go to sleep.
  • Example: It’s late; I think it’s time to hit the hay.

#8. Wild goose chase

  • Meaning: A pointless pursuit or search with no chance of success.
  • Example: Searching for my keys in the dark was like going on a wild goose chase.

#9. Let sleeping dogs lie

  • Meaning: Avoid interfering in a situation that is currently stable, as it may lead to trouble.
  • Example: I wouldn’t bring up that topic if I were you; let sleeping dogs lie.

#10. Birds of a feather flock together

  • Meaning: Similar people or things tend to associate with each other.
  • Example: It’s no surprise they get along so well; birds of a feather flock together.

#11. Like a fish out of water

  • Meaning: Feeling uncomfortable or out of place in a particular situation.
  • Example: At the formal event, he felt like a fish out of water in his casual attire.

#12. Hold the fort

  • Meaning: To maintain or take care of things in someone’s absence.
  • Example: I’ll hold the fort while you’re away on vacation.

#13. Cry wolf

  • Meaning: To raise a false alarm or give a false warning.
  • Example: Don’t cry wolf unless it’s a real emergency.

#14. As the crow flies

  • Meaning: In a straight line, without detours.
  • Example: The town is only ten miles away, as the crow flies.

#15. Horse of a different color

  • Meaning: A completely different matter or situation.
  • Example: That’s a horse of a different color; we need to approach it differently.

#16. One-trick pony

  • Meaning: A person with only one talent or skill.
  • Example: He’s a one-trick pony; all he can do is play the guitar.

#17. Raining cats and dogs

  • Meaning: Raining heavily.
  • Example: Don’t forget your umbrella; it’s raining cats and dogs outside.

#18. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

  • Meaning: It’s better to have a small, certain advantage than the possibility of a greater one that may come to nothing.
  • Example: I’m not risking my job for a chance at a promotion; a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

#19. Bee in one’s bonnet

  • Meaning: A fixation on an idea or a thought that preoccupies one’s mind.
  • Example: Ever since the conversation, he’s had a bee in his bonnet about starting a new project.

#20. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

  • Meaning: Don’t risk everything on a single venture or investment.
  • Example: It’s wise to diversify your investments; don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

#21. The lion’s share

  • Meaning: The largest portion or the majority of something.
  • Example: He took the lion’s share of the credit for the project’s success.

#22. Make a beeline for

  • Meaning: Move quickly and directly towards something.
  • Example: As soon as the door opened, he made a beeline for the buffet table.

#23. Horseplay

  • Meaning: Rough or rowdy play.
  • Example: The teacher warned the students against any horseplay in the classroom.

#24. Fish out of water

  • Meaning: A person who feels uncomfortable in a specific situation or environment.
  • Example: At the tech conference, the artist felt like a fish out of water.

#25. Take the bull by the horns

  • Meaning: To face a difficult situation with courage and determination.
  • Example: Instead of avoiding the problem, she decided to take the bull by the horns and address it directly.

#26. Go down in flames

  • Meaning: To fail spectacularly or be defeated decisively.
  • Example: The ambitious project went down in flames due to a lack of funding.

#27. Rat race

  • Meaning: A competitive and hectic pursuit of success, wealth, or status.
  • Example: Many people feel trapped in the corporate rat race.

#28. Out of the woods

  • Meaning: Free from a difficult or dangerous situation.
  • Example: The patient is recovering well and is now out of the woods.

#29. Straight from the horse’s mouth

  • Meaning: Information received directly from the authoritative source.
  • Example: I heard it straight from the horse’s mouth that the project is on schedule.

#30. Throw to the wolves

  • Meaning: Abandoning someone to face a difficult situation without support.
  • Example: The manager decided to throw the intern to the wolves during the client meeting.

30 Most Common Animal Idioms with Meanings and Examples 3

Sum Up

In conclusion, animal idioms are an integral part of the English language, adding color and vivid imagery to everyday conversations. By understanding the meanings and examples of these 30 most common animal idioms, you can enrich your communication skills and connect more deeply with others.

Whether it’s raining cats and dogs or having a whale of a time, incorporating these idioms into your speech can make you a more effective and engaging communicator.

So, don’t be a fish out of water when it comes to using animal idioms – embrace them as tools for expressing yourself creatively! Start incorporating these idioms into your daily conversations and witness the powerful impact they have on your language abilities. Embrace the animal kingdom of idiomatic expressions and

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Ezzeddine Yahyaoui

A Senior teacher who is passionate about making lessons your students love and that are easy to implement for teachers. Teaching you how to navigate your way through balanced literacy brings me joy. My desire is to give you the tools needed to move your students forward! I have been creating high quality educational resources, tech tutorials, entertainment and training sessions and serving education & learning since 2009.

One Comment

  1. 🌟 Dive into the wild world of animal idioms! 🦁🐘 Learn 30 expressions that add color to your English conversations. From “raining cats and dogs” to “take the bull by the horns,” discover the fun meanings and examples.
    📚💬 Don’t be a fish out of water—embrace these idioms for powerful communication! 🚀 Follow, like, and share for more language gems!
    ✨ Check it out here:
    #englezz #quiz #worksheet #idioms #englishlearning #languagegems #communication #languagefun 🐾

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