30 Most Popular Idioms and Their Meanings

“An idiom is a group of words whose meaning is understood by native speakers. It’s meaning is completely different than its individual words.”

Idioms are an important part of the English language in both, written and spoken context and in formal and informal situations. They are powerful tools that exhibit your hold on the language. If translated in other languages, they would mean something entirely different. Hence, it is crucial that you learn the meaning of idioms and their usage in sentences.

Learning and using 3-5 idioms everyday will be helpful in your journey of becoming a fluent English speaker. Below is the list of 30 most popular idioms with their meanings and usage in example sentences that you can learn and use in your everyday conversations:

(1) A hot potato

Meaning: Speak of a current issue which many people are talking about
Example Sentence: His wedding was a hot potato in the office.

(2) A piece of cake

Meaning: A thing that is very easy
Example Sentence: That examination was a piece of cake for Kashish.

(3) Add insult to injury

Meaning: To make a situation worse
Example Sentence: My bike punctured in middle of nowhere, and, to add insult to injury, it started to rain.

(4) As cool as a cucumber

Meaning: Someone who is very calm and relaxed
Example Sentence: Everyone was fidgeting about the test, but he was as cool as a cucumber.

(5) At the drop of a hat

Meaning: Something that happens instantly or immediately
Example Sentence: He met her after 3 months and hugged her at the drop of a hat.

(6) Ball is in your court

Meaning: It is up to you to take the decision
Example Sentence: He has been invited to the birthday party. So, the ball is in his court whether he wants to go or not.

(7) Beat around the bush

Meaning: To avoid something and not speaking directly about it
Example Sentence: Stop beating around the bush and ask what do you want to ask.

(8) Best of both worlds

Meaning: A situation in which you have the advantage of 2 different things at the same time
Example Sentence: She married the boy she loved and has a rewarding job. She is having the best of both worlds!

(9) Bite off more than you can chew

Meaning: To take on more than one can manage
Example Sentence: After the training, he got so involved in work, he bit off more than he can chew.

(10) Blow off steam

Meaning: Get rid of anger, stress or other emotions by doing an activity
Example Sentence: He had an argument with his wife, so he put on his earphones and listened to his favourite songs.

(11) Call it a day

Meaning: Get rid of anger, stress or other emotions by doing an activity
Example Sentence: After working on that ad design for 12 hours, she decided to call it a day.

(12) Compare apples and oranges

Meaning: To compare two completely different things
Example Sentence: You cannot compare cricket and blogging. It’s like comparing apples and oranges.

(13) Cut corners

Meaning: Something done to save cost
Example Sentence: He opened his office at his residence to cut corners.

(14) Eat like a horse

Meaning: To eat a large amount of food
Example Sentence: Lucky loves chicken biryani! Whenever mom makes it, he eats like a horse.

(15) Getting a taste of your own medicine

Meaning: To be treated in the same way that you treat others
Example Sentence: After being bullied, Phil gave Nick a taste of his own medicine by making fun of him in front of everyone.

(16) Go cold turkey

Meaning: Quit a bad habit
Example Sentence: He smokes everywhere. He should keep in mind that his son is asthmatic. He should go cold turkey!

(17) Go from rags to riches

Meaning: To go from being poor to becoming rich / wealthy
Example Sentence: Shahrukh Khan had nothing to begin with, but, he worked hard and went from rags to riches! Now, he is the king of Bollywood!

(18) Hit the books

Meaning: To study
Example Sentence: He can’t go out with friends tonight, he has an important exam next week! He has to hit the books.

(19) Hit the sack

Meaning: To go to sleep
Example Sentence: After a tiring day, Mahi hit the sack.

(20) Keep your chin up

Meaning: Stay strong in a tough situation
Example Sentence: India were strugggling at 29-5 but MS DHONI kept his chin up, scored a magnificent century and took India to a fighting score.

(21) Kill two birds with one stone

Meaning: Achieve to different things at once
Example Sentence: She hit two birds with one stone by taking her husband to dinner and eating her favorite cusine.

(22) No pain no gain

Meaning: To work hard for something you want to accomplish
Example Sentence: Working out to build 6-pack abs is exhausting, but, no pain no gain.

(23) On the spur of the moment

Meaning: To react as per the present situation
Example Sentence: They decided to buy that washing machine on the spur of the moment.

(24) Once in a blue moon

Meaning: A thing that happens very very rarely
Example Sentence: Lucky cooks once in a blue moon!

(25) Packed like sardines

Meaning: A place crowded with people
Example Sentence: Mumbai’s local trains are packed like sardines!

(26) Speak of the devil

Meaning: The person you were talking about appears suddenly
Example Sentence: Hi Karishma, speak of the devil, I was just telling Sunshine about your role in that advertisement.

(27) Spill the beans

Meaning: To tell a secret
Example Sentence: We were planning a birthday present for Steve. But Mike spilled the beans!

(28) Stab someone in the back

Meaning: To hurt someone who was close to us
Example Sentence: Kayzel stabbed Julianne in the back by telling her secrets to their colleagues.

(29) To cost an arm and a leg

Meaning: Something that is very expensive
Example Sentence: The kurta that we bought cost us an arm and a leg.

(30) When pigs fly

Meaning: Used to express something that is never going to happen
Example Sentence: When pigs fly, he will clean the utensils.


  • An idiom is a group of words having a particular meaning.
  • Individual words in an idiom have a completely different meanings.
  • Idioms are a powerful tool that you can use to create hundreds of sentences
  • I have listed the top 30 idioms that will help you improve your pronunciation and which you can use in your everyday conversations.

For some passionate readers, only 30 idioms might not be enough. Hence, I am adding more to the above list by embedding this video in which you will learn 100 most popular idioms and their meanings.
If you are looking for a comprehensive list of phrases, you can read this article for 100 popular phrases. Happy Learning!!!