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Idiomatic Expressions
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Animal Idioms

 

Idiom

Meaning

Example Sentence

ants in one's pants

unable to sit still or remain calm out of nervousness or excitement

Lisa had ants in her pants the day before her interview.

(the) birds and the bees

sex education

I learned about the birds and the bees when my baby brother was born.

cat nap

a short sleep

I'm going to have a cat nap while you're cooking dinner.

cat's got one's tongue

said about someone who doesn't speak (usually due to shyness)

It looks like the cat's got your tongue, Lucy. Are you always this quiet?

chicken out

to decide not to do something out of fear (usually just before)

I was going to take a ride on Geoff's motorcyle, but I chickened out when he gave me a helmet to wear.

clam up

become quiet suddenly

Arthur clammed up when I asked him about his family.

copy cat

a person who does the same thing as someone else

My sister is such a copy cat. First she bought the same car as me, and now she's applying to my school.

dog days

very hot days

I sleep in the basement during the dog days of August.

dropping like flies

dying/giving up quickly

My roses are dropping like flies in this early frost.

eager beaver

a person who is excited about doing certain work

Ever since he got his new drill set my husband has been an eager beaver around the house.

fishy

odd, suspicious

I knew something fishy was going on when I saw all of my friends' cars in my mom's driveway.

have a cow

get extremely upset (often over something minor)

My teacher had a cow when she realized nobody had done the homework.

hold your horses

wait and be patient

Hold your horses! I'll be done in the washroom in a minute.

holy cow!

Wow, I'm surprised!

Holy cow! I can't believe you ate everything on your plate.

horse around

play roughly

If you're going to horse around, please go outside.

get the lion's share

get the greatest percentage

My aunt got the lion's share of the inheritance.

in the dog house

in trouble with another person

I don't think Marsha is coming out tonight. She's still in the dog house for forgetting Aaron's birthday.

kill two birds with one stone

get two things done at once

If you pick the groceries up when you drop George off for his shift, you will kill two birds with one stone.

kitty corner

diagonal direction

The gas station is kitty corner to the library.

let the cat out of the bag

reveal a secret

Who let the cat out of the bag about the surprise party?

(a) little bird told me

I heard something (usually secretive or unknown) from someone (not named)

A little bird told me that you are thinking of quitting your job.

make a beeline

go straight for something

My grandma made a beeline for the smoking room as soon as she got off the airplane.

monkey see, monkey do

silly/unintelligent people tend to copy each other's actions

Our one-year-old is saying bad words now. I told my husband, "Monkey see, monkey do!"

nest egg

money saved for the future

We have a nest egg that we might have to use if Jim goes on sick leave.

pig out eat a lot of something I pigged out on pancakes so I don't have room for lunch.
raining cats and dogs raining heavily I forgot my umbrella, and it was raining cats and dogs.
rat race fierce, competitive struggle for power, position etc I'm ready to leave this rat race and retire in Mexico.
smell a rat begin to suspect trickery etc I asked my brothers not to tell my parents that I went out, but I could smell a rat as soon as I opened the door.
straight from the horse's mouth directly from the original source I know Jenny is pregnant, because I heard it straight from the horse's mouth.
take the bull by the horns face a challenge or danger boldly If you really think you deserve a promotion, you'll have to take the bull by the horns.
until the cows come home for a very long time I could eat pizza and ice-cream until the cows come home.

 

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