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The Most Helpful Idioms With Meaning and Examples. Topic – Comparisons – Similarity

English idioms are the spice of language, offering a unique flavor to everyday communication. These common idioms serve as gems, each carrying a distinctive meaning beyond their literal interpretation. Let’s explore the fascinating world of idioms with an idiom example. Consider the phrase “burning the midnight oil,” depicting intense effort or working late into the night. In this idiom sample, the image of a lamp burning late symbolizes diligence and commitment. Understanding idioms with meaning is like deciphering a secret code, unlocking a deeper layer of expression. So, whether you’re “walking on eggshells” or “seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” incorporating these idiomatic expressions into your language repertoire adds flair and nuance, transforming ordinary conversations into rich tapestries of communication.

as blind as a bat Someone whose vision is very poor, or who is unable to see anything, is (as) blind as a bat. Without his glasses, the old man is as blind as a bat.
as bold as brass Someone who is as bold as brass has a lot of self-confidence and can act in a way that may seem rude to others. He interrupted the meeting and, as bold as brass, queried the veracity of the speaker’s claims.
as broad as it’s long This expression means that there is no real difference which alternative is chosen. Take the high-speed train, or fly and take a taxi? It’s as broad as it’s long.
as busy as a bee If someone is as busy as a bee they are very active and have a lot of things to do. Tom is as busy as a bee getting everything ready for the exhibition.
as clean as a whistle Something as clean as a whistle is extremely clean. (This can also mean that a person’s criminal record is clean.) Bob spent the afternoon washing and shining his car until it was as clean as a whistle.
as close / as dumb as an oyster Someone who is as close or as dumb as an oyster will never reveal something told in confidence or betray a secret Sophie will never repeat what you tell her. She’s as dumb as an oyster.
as cool as a cucumber A person who is as cool as a cucumber is not anxious, but relaxed and non-emotional The bride’s mother stayed as cool as a cucumber all through the ceremony.
as crooked as a dog’s hind leg To say that someone is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg means that they are very dishonest indeed. That guy can’t be trusted – he’s as crooked as a dog’s hind leg.
dead as a dodo To say that something is (as) dead as a dodo means that it is unquestionably dead or obsolete, or has gone out of fashion. (A dodo is a bird that is now extinct.) The floppy disk is an invention that is now (as) dead as a dodo.
dead as a doornail This expression is used to stress that a person or thing is very definitely dead. They’ve started fighting again, so the peace agreement is now as dead as a doornail.
as different as chalk and cheese Two people who are as different as chalk and cheese are completely different from each other. I’m surprised they get on so well. They’re as different as chalk and cheese.
as different as night and day Two people or things that are very different from each other are as different as night and day. Although they are twins they are as different as night and day.
as dry as dust Something that is as dry as dust is very dry indeed. This expression can also refer to something dull and uninteresting. The ground was as dry as dust. / His speech was as dry as dust.
as dull as ditchwater Something as dull as ditchwater is very boring. The film was as dull as ditchwater. I nearly fell asleep.
as easy as pie Something that is (as) easy as pie is very easy to do. How did the English test go? No problem. It was (as) easy as pie!
as fit as a fiddle A person who is as fit as a fiddle is in an excellent state of health or physical condition. My grandfather is nearly ninety but he’s as fit as a fiddle. 
as free as a bird If someone is as free as a bird, they are completely free to do as they please. My dad’s very happy – he’s as free as a bird since he retired.
as fresh as a daisy Someone who is (as) fresh as a daisy is lively and attractive, in a clean and fresh way. I met Molly the other day. She looked as fresh as a daisy.
as full as a tick If someone is (as) full as a tick, they have eaten or drunk too much. The little boy ate biscuits and drank lemonade until he was as full as a tick.
as good as gold A child who is as good as gold is obedient and well-behaved. Your children are always as good as gold when I look after them.
as happy as a flea in a doghouse If someone is (as) happy as a flea in a doghouse, they are very happy and contented. Since she moved to a smaller apartment, my mother is as happy as a flea in a doghouse!
as happy as Larry If you are (as) happy as Larry, you are very happy indeed. My dad’s as happy as Larry at the week-end when we all arrive home.
as hard as nails A person who is (as) hard as nails is unsentimental and shows no sympathy. Don’t expect any sympathy from him. He’s as hard as nails.
as keen as mustard If someone is as keen as mustard, they are very eager, enthusiastic or motivated. We should ask Emily to join the team. She’s as keen as mustard.
as mad as a hatter To say that someone is as mad as a hatter means that they are very strange or insane. The old lady next door is as mad as a hatter. She says the strangest things!
as much use as a handbrake on a canoe This expression refers to something which is completely useless or serves no purpose. With no electricity, a refrigerator would be as much use as a handbrake on a canoe!
as nice as pie If a person is as nice as pie, they are surprisingly kind and friendly. Surprisingly, after our argument, she was as nice as pie!
as nutty as a fruitcake Someone who is (as) nutty as a fruitcake is insane or crazy. Don’t pay attention to what the old man says; he’s as nutty as a fruitcake!
as proud as a peacock A person who is as proud as a peacock is extremely proud. When his son won first prize, Bill was as proud as a peacock.
proud/pleased as punch Someone who is as proud or pleased as punch is delighted or feels very satisfied about something. Dad was as proud as punch when he won the tennis match.
as quick as a dog can lick a dish If you do something surprisingly fast, you do it as quick as a dog can lick a dish. He packed his bag as quick as a dog can lick a dish.
as quiet as a mouse When someone is as quiet as a mouse, they make no noise at all. The burglar was as quiet as a mouse as he moved around the house.
as scarce as hens’ teeth To say that something is as scarce as hens’ teeth emphasizes that it is extremely rare, to the point of non-existence. Take enough supplies. Water is as scarce as hens’ teeth where you’re going!
as sharp as a tack A person who is as sharp as a tack is able to think quickly and learn very fast. You won’t have to explain it to him twice. He’s as sharp as a tack.
as slippery as an eel To say that someone is as slippery as an eel means that they are difficult to catch and they manage to avoid answering questions. The man was as slippery as an eel. He was arrested for theft several times but was never convicted.
as sly as a fox Someone who is as sly as a fox is cunning and clever at getting what they want, especially by deceiving or tricking people. Be wary of that insurance salesman. He’s as sly as a fox.
(as) straight as an arrow Someone who is as straight as an arrow is a morally upright person who is extremely honest. You can leave the keys with Andy. He’s as straight as an arrow.
(as) straight as a ramrod Someone who is (as) straight as a ramrod is a person who keeps a straight back and looks very serious. When my grandfather invited us for dinner, he used to sit straight as a ramrod at the head of the table.
as thick as thieves To say that two people are as thick as thieves means that they are very close friends who are very loyal to each other. Chris always takes Danny’s side. They’re as thick as thieves.
as stubborn as a mule If someone is as stubborn as a mule, they are very obstinate and unwilling to listen to reason or change their mind. His friends advised him to accept the offer, but you know Larry – he’s as stubborn as a mule!
as tough as old boots If something, specially meat, is (as) tough as old boots, it is hard to cut and difficult to chew. (This can also refer to a person who is strong either physically or in character.) I was served a steak as tough as old boots.
as ugly as sin This expression is used to refer to people or things that are considered to be very unattractive. Have you seen the new neighbour’s dog? It’s as ugly as sin!
as ugly as a toad Someone as ugly as a toad is extremely unattractive. The driver was as ugly as a toad but he was very kind and patient.
as useful as a chocolate teapot Something which is of no practical use at all is about as useful as a chocolate teapot. When there are no roads, a car is about as useful as a chocolate teapot!
as white as a ghost A person who is as white as a ghost looks very pale and frightened. She went as white as a ghost when she saw the gun.
like the back of one’s hand If you know something like the back of your hand, you are very familiar with it and know it in detail. Of course I won’t get lost. I know London like the back of my hand!
like a bat out of hell If someone or something moves like a bat out of hell, it moves very quickly. He grabbed the envelope and ran like a bat out of hell.
like a bear with a sore head If someone is behaving like a bear with a sore head, they are very irritable and bad-tempered. When his team lost the match, Brad was like a bear with a sore head.
like bringing a knife to a gunfight To say that an action was like bringing a knife to a gunfight means that there was a total lack of preparation. Asking an inexperienced lawyer to defend such a difficult case was like bringing a knife to a gunfight!
(sound) like a broken record Someone who says the same thing again and again is said to sound like a broken record. Dad! Stop telling me to be careful when I drive. You sound like a broken record!
like a cat on hot bricks A person who is like a cat on hot bricks is very nervous or restless. The week before the results were published, she was like a cat on hot bricks.
like a scalded cat If something or something moves like a scalded cat, they move very fast, usually because they are frightened or shocked. As soon as he saw the policeman, he ran off like a scalded cat.
like a cat that ate the canary If, after an achievement or success, a person appears very self-satisfied or pleased with themselves, you can say that they look like the cat that ate the canary. When the boss complimented him on his work, Steve looked like the cat that ate the canary.
like something the cat dragged in If you compare a person or thing to something the cat dragged in, you think they they look dirty, untidy or generally unappealing. My teenage son often looks like something the cat dragged in.
like cat and dog Two people who fight or argue like cat and dog frequently have violent arguments, even though they are fond of each other. They fight like cat and dog but they’re still together after 30 years.
like death warmed up If you look like death warmed up, you look very ill or tired. My boss told me to go home. He said I looked like death warmed up.
like a deer/rabbit caught in the headlights When you are so surprised that you are momentarily confused or unable to react quickly, you are like a deer (or a rabbit) caught in the headlights. Surprised by the journalist’s question, he was like a deer caught in the headlights.
like a dog with two tails If someone is like a dog with two tails, they are extremely happy. When Paul won the first prize he was like a dog with two tails.
like greased lightning If someone or something moves like greased lightning, they move extremely fast. As soon as the owner appeared, the boy ran like greased lightning.
like herding cats This expression refers to the difficulty of coordinating a situation which involves people who all want to act independently. Arranging an outing for a group of people from different countries is like herding cats!
like a headless chicken If a person rushes about like a headless chicken, they act in a disorderly way, without thinking or analysing the situation carefully. As soon as the store opened, my mother started running around like a headless chicken, eager to find bargains.
like kicking whales down the beach This expression is used, especially in computing, to refer to a particularly slow and difficult process. Getting him to adopt the new method is like kicking whales down the beach.
like a moth to a flame To say that a person is attracted to someone or something like a moth to a flame means that the attraction is so strong they cannot resist. He’s drawn to the casino like a moth to a flame.
like nailing jelly to the wall To say that something is like nailing jelly to the wall means that it is extremely difficult to do, if not impossible. Keeping track of his movements is like nailing jelly to the wall.
like pouring water into a sieve If someone spends time or energy trying to do something that is inefficient or useless, it is like pouring water into a sieve. Danny’s mother used to say that teaching him good behaviour was like pouring water into a sieve.
like pulling teeth Something that is like pulling teeth is extremely difficult to obtain, especially if trying to extract information from someone. Getting him to talk about his job was like pulling teeth!
like putting lipstick on  a pig This expression means that to ‘dress up’ something unappealing or ugly, in a vain attempt to make it look better, is like putting lipstick on a pig. Flowers on that ugly old bridge would be (like putting) lipstick on a pig!
like a rat up a drainpipe If someone moves or runs like a rat up a drainpipe, they do it as quickly as possible. When the police informer saw a friend, he took off like a rat up a drainpipe.
like a red flag to a bull To say that a statement or action is like a red flag to a bull means that it is sure to make someone very angry or upset. Don’t mention Tom’s promotion to Mike. It would be like a red flag to a bull!
like a shot If you do something like a shot, you do it very quickly, without any hesitation. If I won a lot of money on the lotto, I’d leave my job like a shot!
like a sore thumb If something sticks out like a sore thumb, it is very obvious or visible in an unpleasant way. The modern building sticks out like a sore thumb among the old houses.
like taking candy from a baby To say that something is like taking candy from a baby means that it is very easy to do. Don’t worry – you’ll manage. It’ll be like taking candy from a baby!
like taking sand to the beach Doing something that is unnecessary or of no use at all is said to be like taking sand to the beach. Bringing a cake to Judy’s party is like taking sand to the beach; she always uses a caterer.
like talking to a brick wall To say that a conversation with someone is like talking to brick wall means that communication is impossible because there is no reaction or response. I tried to discuss the problem with him but it was like talking to a brick wall.
like there’s no tomorrow If someone does something like there’s no tomorrow, they do it fast and eagerly, regardless of the future, as if this could be their last opportunity to do it. I don’t understand him; he’s spending money like there’s no tomorrow.
like a thief in the night Someone who acts like a thief in the night does something secretly or in an unexpected manner. He left the company like a thief in the night, without telling his colleagues or saying goodbye.
like a ton of bricks If somebody comes down on you like a ton of bricks, they criticize you severely because you have done something wrong. If you don’t follow his instructions carefully, he’ll come down on you like a ton of bricks!
like turkeys voting for Christmas This expression is used to say that a particular option is unlikely to be chosen because it would not be in the interest of the people concerned. (In many countries people eat turkey at Christmas.) Expecting them to accept a decrease in salary would be like turkeys voting for Christmas.
like two peas in a pod Two people who are like two peas in a pod are very similar to each other in appearance or character. They look, behave, or think exactly the same. It doesn’t matter which brother you contact – they’re like two peas in a pod.!
like water off a duck’s back Criticism, advice or comments which have no effect on someone are said to be ‘like water off a duck’s back’. He’s been warned of the dangers of smoking but it’s like water off a duck’s back.
like wildfire If something such as news, rumours or gossip spreads like wildfire, it becomes widely known very fast. As soon as the nomination was announced, the news spread like wildfire.
much of a muchness This expession means ‘very similar’ or ‘almost alike’. It’s hard to choose between the two – they’re much of a muchness really.
(not) cut from the same cloth If two people are cut from the same cloth, they are very similar in character or behaviour. Although the brothers look alike, they are not cut from the same cloth. They each have their own personality.
not a patch on If something or someone is not a patch on an other, they are not nearly as good. His second conference was not a patch on the first one.
not in the same league as If something is not in the same league, it is of much lower standard than something else. He had a good voice but he wasn’t in the same league as Pavarotti.
not up to par If something is not up to par, it does not meet the required standard. He didn’t get the job because his English was not up to par.
a world of difference When comparing two things or situations, the expression a world of difference means that there is a vast difference between them. A swimming pool would make a world of difference in this climate.
worlds apart When two people are very different, they are said to be worlds apart. As regards our political opinions, we’re worlds apart.
  1. What are idioms? Idioms are expressions or phrases that hold a figurative meaning beyond their literal interpretation. They add color and depth to language.

  2. Why are idioms important in English? Idioms help convey complex ideas succinctly and vividly, enhancing communication and offering cultural insights.

  3. Can you provide some examples of idioms? Certainly! Examples include “raining cats and dogs” (heavy rain), “kick the bucket” (pass away), and “bite the bullet” (face a difficult situation).

  4. How do I understand the meaning of idioms? Understanding idioms often requires context and cultural familiarity. Exploring their origins and usage in sentences helps grasp their meanings.

  5. Are all idioms universal or do they vary by region? Idioms can vary across regions and cultures. While some idioms are universal, many are culturally specific.

  6. Are there common idioms used in everyday conversation? Yes, several idioms, like “break a leg” (good luck) or “piece of cake” (easy task), are frequently used in daily conversations.

  7. Do idioms have fixed meanings? Generally, yes. However, some idioms might have slight variations in meaning or usage based on context or region.

  8. How can I incorporate idioms into my writing or speech? Using idioms contextually and accurately can add richness to your language. Start by understanding their meanings and then applying them naturally.

  9. Are idioms only found in English? No, idioms exist in many languages. Each language has its own set of colorful expressions and phrases.

  10. Where can I learn more idioms and their meanings? Online resources, books on idioms, and even language learning platforms offer extensive lists of idioms with explanations of their meanings and origins.

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