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100 Idioms your child can use for composition writing: A comprehensive guide

100 Idioms your child can use for composition writing: A comprehensive guide

Are you looking for a comprehensive guide to help your child learn how to use idioms in their composition writing? If so, then this is the perfect resource for you!  

This guide provides 100 different idioms that your child can use when composing written pieces. Not only will they learn how to incorporate these phrases into their work effectively, but they'll also understand the meaning behind each of these idioms. 

With this guide, your child will be well on their way towards becoming a master of composition writing!

To access a free printable PDF containing 100 idioms for your child's compositions, please complete the form below.

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Types of idioms covered in this article:


Animal idioms and their meanings

The English language is full of colourful and creative idioms that are used to convey various meanings in everyday conversation. Animal idioms, in particular, are a common way to express a wide range of emotions and ideas. 

If you want your child to exhibit their language skills, here's a list of ten animal idioms that they can use. Interestingly, each of these idioms has its own unique background, often rooted in ancient fables or hunting practices. By incorporating animal idioms into their language, your child can infuse a playful and memorable touch into their compositions.

1. A fish out of water 

Meaning: 

To feel awkward or uncomfortable in a new situation. 

Example: 

John is a city boy, so he felt like a fish out of water when he visited his grandparents' farm in the countryside. 

Origin: 

This idiom likely originated from the fact that fish cannot survive for long outside of water, much like how someone can feel uncomfortable or out of place in an unfamiliar environment.

2. A wolf in sheep's clothing 

Meaning:

Someone who appears innocent or harmless but is actually dangerous or deceitful. 

Example: 

Everyone thought that the charming new neighbour was friendly, but he turned out to be a wolf in sheep's clothing when he stole their belongings. 

Origin:

This idiom comes from an ancient Greek fable where a wolf disguised itself as a sheep to trick and kill other animals.

3. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush 

Meaning:

It's better to have something tangible and certain than to risk losing it by trying to get something better. 

Example: 

Sarah decided to take the job offer instead of waiting for a better one because a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. 

Origin:

This idiom likely comes from bird hunting, where catching one bird is better than missing two while trying to catch them.

4. Kill two birds with one stone

Meaning:

To accomplish two things at once. 

Example: 

By jogging to work, Peter was able to get exercise and save money on transport, killing two birds with one stone. 

Origin:

This idiom likely originated from ancient hunting practices where a skilled hunter could kill two birds by throwing one stone.

5. Hold your horses

Meaning:

To wait or be patient. 

Example: 

When the kids were rushing to open their presents on Christmas morning, their mother said, "Hold your horses, we have to take a family photo first." 

Origin:

This idiom likely comes from horse riding, where it was important to hold the reins tightly and control the horse's movements.

6. Let the cat out of the bag  

Meaning: 

To reveal a secret or surprise. 

Example: 

When Mary accidentally told her friend about the surprise party, she let the cat out of the bag. 

Origin:

This idiom's origin is uncertain, but one theory is that it comes from a scam in which a dishonest seller would claim to be selling a piglet in a bag, but actually sell a cat. If the cat was revealed, the scam was exposed.

7. Like a fish in a barrel 

Meaning:

Easy or effortless. 

Example: 

"Finding the answers to these Maths problems is like shooting fish in a barrel, it's so easy!"

Origin:

This idiom likely comes from the practice of trapping fish in a confined space, making it easy to catch them.

8. The lion's share  

Meaning: 

The largest portion or the majority. 

Example: 

"Sarah got the lion's share of the pizza because she had won the game we played earlier."

Origin:

This idiom comes from an ancient fable where a group of animals go on a hunting trip, and the lion takes the largest share of the prey.

9. Barking up the wrong tree  

Meaning: 

To pursue a mistaken or incorrect course of action. 

Example

The detective thought the suspect was the killer, but he realised that he was barking up the wrong tree when he discovered evidence that cleared the suspect. 

Origin:

This idiom comes from hunting dogs who bark up trees, thinking that their prey is hiding there, when in fact it is somewhere else.

10. Monkey business 

Meaning: 

Mischievous or questionable behaviour. 

Example: 

When the teacher caught the students passing notes during class, she scolded them for their monkey business. 

Origin:

This idiom likely comes from the playful and unpredictable behaviour of monkeys.

Idioms about feelings and emotions

Idioms are commonly used expressions that carry a figurative meaning rather than a literal one. They add colour and interest to the English language, and their origins can be traced back centuries. In this list, we've gathered ten idioms related to feelings, each with its own unique meaning and history. From enduring difficult situations to expressing extreme anger and frustration, these idioms are still used today to express emotions and ideas in a creative way. Understanding idioms is an important part of mastering a language, as they often cannot be translated literally, making them a fascinating and challenging aspect of English for learners to explore.

11. Cut to the chase 

Emotion/Feeling: Anger

Meaning: 

To get to the point quickly without wasting time.

Example: 

"Can you please cut to the chase and tell me why you're angry?"

Origin: 

This phrase originated from the film industry where chase scenes were common. It means skipping the less important scenes and going straight to the action.

12. Green with envy 

Emotion/Feeling: Jealousy

Meaning: 

Feeling envious or jealous of someone else's success or possessions.

Example: 

"She was green with envy when she saw her friend's new car."

Origin:

This phrase comes from the idea that when people feel jealous or envious, their skin turns a greenish hue.

13. A blessing in disguise 

Emotion/Feeling: Gratitude

Meaning: 

Something that seems bad at first but turns out to be good in the end.

Example: 

"Missing the school bus today turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because when I walked to school I found a dollar on the sidewalk!"

Origin: 

This phrase originated from a story in which a man's horse ran away, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it led the man to find a better horse.

14. In hot water 

Emotion/Feeling: Trouble

Meaning: 

In trouble or in a difficult situation.

Example: 

"I'm in hot water with my teacher because I didn't complete my homework."

Origin: 

This phrase comes from the idea that hot water can burn or hurt someone, similar to how getting into trouble can cause pain or harm.

15. Caught red-handed 

Emotion/Feeling: Guilt

Meaning: 

To be caught in the act of doing something wrong or illegal.

Example: 

"He was caught red-handed stealing from the store."

Origin: 

This phrase comes from the idea that when someone is caught doing something wrong, their hands might be stained with evidence.

16. Cry over spilt milk 

Emotion/Feeling: Regret 

Meaning: 

To be upset about something that has already happened and cannot be changed.

Example: 

"I know you made a mistake, but there's no point in crying over spilt milk now."

Origin: 

This phrase comes from the idea that once milk has been spilled, it cannot be un-spilled, so there's no point in crying over it. 

17. Bite the bullet 

Emotion/Feeling: Bravery 

Meaning: 

To endure something difficult or painful with courage. 

Example: 

"I know the surgery is going to be painful, but you need to bite the bullet and get it done."

Origin: 

This phrase originated from the practice of giving soldiers a bullet to bite down on during surgery before the invention of anaesthesia. 

18. Cold feet 

Emotion/Feeling: Fear 

Meaning: 

Feeling nervous or afraid to do something that was planned or agreed upon. 

Example:

"Yesterday, my friend was going to jump off the diving board, but she got cold feet and decided not to do it."

Origin:

The origin of the idiom "cold feet" is uncertain, but there are a few theories about its origin. One theory is that the phrase originated in the early 1900s as a reference to soldiers who were about to go into battle. It was said that if a soldier was feeling anxious or scared, their feet would become cold and damp.

19. Weight off my shoulders

Emotion/Feeling: Relief

Meaning: 

Feeling a sense of relief or liberation from a burden or responsibility.

Example: 

"After I finished my final exam, I felt a weight off my shoulders."

The origin of the idiom "weight off my shoulders" is uncertain, but it is believed to have originated from the literal feeling of relief that one experiences when a physical burden is lifted off their shoulders.

20. Down in the dumps

Emotion/Feeling - Sadness

Meaning: 

Feeling sad or depressed

Example: 

"Ever since her dog died, she's been down in the dumps."

Origin:

The origin of the idiom "down in the dumps" is uncertain, but there are a few theories about its origin. One theory suggests that the phrase comes from the idea of someone being thrown into a literal rubbish dump or landfill, which is a depressing and unpleasant place to be. Another theory suggests that it may have originated from the French word "dumpe," meaning a mournful piece of music, which was later anglicised to "dumps." 

Idioms about age

Age is a universal concept that affects everyone. It has been the subject of many idioms that reflect different aspects of life, from wisdom to decline. Let's look at some of these idioms.

21. Over the hill

Meaning: 

Being past one's prime or no longer able to perform at a high level.

Example: 

He's a great athlete, but at 40, he's over the hill.

Origin: 

This idiom comes from the idea that a person has reached the top of a hill and is now on the downhill slope, no longer able to climb back up easily.

22. Long in the tooth

Meaning: 

Being old, especially in the sense of being experienced or wise.

Example: 

He's long in the tooth, so he knows how to handle tricky situations.

Origin: 

This idiom comes from the idea that a horse's teeth grow longer as it ages, making it easier to tell its age.

23. Age before beauty

Meaning: 

Giving priority to someone older or more experienced, even if they are less attractive.

Example: 

"You go ahead and take the last piece of cake. Age before beauty."

Origin: 

This phrase likely originated as a humorous way to give older people the right of way. It dates back to the early 19th century.

24. In your prime

Meaning: 

At the peak of one's abilities or experience.

Example: 

She's in her prime and can accomplish anything she sets her mind to.

Origin: 

This phrase likely comes from the idea of a person being at their most productive and successful age. It has been used since the 1800s.

25. Golden years

Meaning: 

The time of life after retirement when a person is free to pursue their interests and hobbies.

Example: 

After he retired, he spent his golden years travelling the world.

Origin: 

This phrase is a poetic way of referring to the period of life when one is free from work and responsibilities and can enjoy the fruits of their labour. It first appeared in print in the 1950s.

26. Age is just a number

Meaning: 

A person's age does not necessarily reflect their physical or mental capabilities.

Example: 

He may be 60, but he still runs marathons. Age is just a number.

Origin: 

This phrase emphasises that age should not be a limiting factor in one's abilities or accomplishments. It has been used since the early 1900s. 

27. Young at heart

Meaning: 

Having a youthful spirit or attitude, regardless of one's age.

Example: 

Even though she's in her 80s, she's young at heart and always up for a new adventure.

Origin: 

This phrase comes from the common knowledge that one's emotional age can be different from their chronological age. It has been used since the mid-1800s.

28. To be a spring chicken

Meaning: 

To be young or inexperienced.

Example: 

He's only 18 and still a spring chicken in the workforce.

Origin: 

This phrase refers to the fact that chickens are born in the spring and are therefore the youngest of their kind. It has been used since the early 1900s.

29. One foot in the grave

Meaning: 

Being very old and nearing death.

Example: 

She's 95 and has one foot in the grave.

Origin: 

This phrase emphasises that a person is so old that they are close to the end of their life. It has been used since the mid-1600s.

30. Age-old problem

Meaning: 

A problem that has existed for a long time and is difficult to solve.

Example: 

Poverty is an age-old problem that has plagued societies for centuries.

Origin: 

This phrase emphasises that some problems are so deeply rooted in history that they seem impossible to overcome. It has been used since the early 1900s.

Idioms about personality traits

Idioms are a unique aspect of language that adds depth and nuance to our communication. In this context, we will explore 10 idioms that describe various personality traits.

31. A chip on one's shoulder

Meaning: 

Holding a grudge or feeling angry about something that happened in the past. 

Example: 

He always seems to have a chip on his shoulder when it comes to criticism of his work. 

Origin: 

This idiom originated in the United States in the mid-1800s, where it was believed that people would place a chip on their shoulder to challenge others to knock it off, thereby provoking a fight.

32. A lone wolf  

Meaning: 

A person who prefers to work alone and does not enjoy the company of others. 

Example: 

Despite being part of a team, he always acts like a lone wolf. 

Origin: 

The expression has its roots in the behaviour of wolves, which are known for their pack mentality. A wolf that prefers to be alone is known as a lone wolf.

33. A wet blanket 

Meaning: 

Someone who spoils the fun or enjoyment of others. 

Example: 

She was such a wet blanket that no one wanted to invite her to the party. 

Origin: 

The phrase originated in the early 1800s and refers to a damp blanket that was used to smother fires. The wet blanket would put out the fire and spoil the fun.

34. All bark and no bite 

Meaning: 

Someone who talks tough but doesn't follow through with their actions. 

Example: 

He's all bark and no bite when it comes to confronting his elder brother. 

Origin: 

This idiom has its roots in the behaviour of dogs, which bark loudly but may not actually attack.

35. Straight shooter 

Meaning: 

Someone who is honest and straightforward. 

Example: 

You can always trust him because he's a straight shooter. 

Origin: 

This idiom originated in the US Wild West, where it referred to someone who could shoot accurately and honestly.

36. Jack of all trades 

Meaning: 

A person who has many different skills but is not an expert in any of them. 

Example: 

He's a jack of all trades, he can do anything from cooking to fixing cars. 

Origin: 

This idiom has its origins in the medieval period, where it was used to describe a servant who could do multiple tasks.

37. A dark horse 

Meaning: 

Someone who has hidden talents or abilities. 

Example: 

"Nobody thought Sarah would win the spelling bee, but she turned out to be a real dark horse and won first place!"

Origin: 

This idiom comes from horse racing, where a dark horse was a horse that was not known to bettors and was therefore unpredictable.

38. Black sheep 

Meaning: 

A person who is considered the odd one out or the troublemaker in a family or group. 

Example: 

"Everyone in the family loves playing sports, but my little brother is the black sheep because he'd rather read books and do puzzles instead."

Origin: 

This idiom originated from the fact that black sheep were considered less valuable than white ones

39. Head in the clouds 

Meaning: 

Someone who is not paying attention to reality or is lost in thought. 

Example: 

He has his head in the clouds most of the time and forgets to do important tasks. 

Origin: 

This idiom has its origins in ancient Greek mythology, where the god Zeus lived atop Mount Olympus and was often depicted with his head in the clouds.

40. Heart of gold 

Meaning: 

Someone who is very kind and generous. 

Example: 

She may not have much money, but she has a heart of gold and is always willing to help others. 

Origin: 

This idiom has been used since the Middle Ages and refers to the idea of gold being a valuable and precious commodity. A heart of gold, therefore, is someone who has a valuable and precious personality trait.

Idioms related to food

Food is a universal language, and many idioms are related to it. Here are ten idioms related to food, along with their meanings, examples, and origins:

41. Bite off more than you can chew

Meaning:

To take on more than you can handle.

Example: 

John took on three assignments at once and soon realised he had bitten off more than he could chew.

Origin:

This idiom has been used since the early 1800s and is believed to have originated from the literal act of trying to eat too much food at once, causing one to struggle to chew and swallow it.

42. Bread and butter

Meaning: 

A source of income or basic necessities.

Example: 

Freelance writing is my bread and butter.

Origin:

This phrase dates back to the 1700s and refers to the basic and essential food items that form the foundation of most meals, such as bread and butter.

43. Cool as a cucumber

Meaning: 

Calm and composed.

Example: 

Despite the chaos around her, Mary remained as cool as a cucumber.

Origin:

This phrase has been in use since at least the 1700s and is believed to have originated from the fact that cucumbers, which are often served chilled, can help soothe and cool the skin.

44. Eat crow

Meaning: 

To admit that one is wrong.

Example: 

After realising his mistake, Tom had to eat crow and apologise.

Origin:

The origin of this phrase is unclear, but it is believed to have originated in the United States in the early 1800s. One theory is that it comes from the fact that crow meat was considered unpleasant and tough to eat, so if someone had to "eat crow," it was a metaphor for admitting that they were wrong and had to face something unpleasant.

45. Egg on your face

Meaning: 

To be embarrassed or humiliated.

Example: 

Jane had egg on her face after she realised she had been arguing with the wrong person.

Origin:

This phrase is believed to have originated in the United States in the early 1900s and may have come from the idea of someone throwing an egg at another person, which would leave them with egg on their face and feeling embarrassed.

46. Gravy train

Meaning: 

Easy money or a cushy job.

Example: 

Alex has been working at the company for years and is now on the gravy train.

Origin:

This phrase dates back to the early 1900s and refers to the idea of an easy and lucrative source of income that requires little effort, much like a train carrying a never-ending supply of gravy.

47. In a nutshell

Meaning: 

In a brief and concise manner.

Example: 

Can you summarise this topic in a nutshell?

Origin:

This phrase comes from the idea of summarising something into a small, concise package, much like a nut is contained within a nutshell.

48. Piece of cake

Meaning: 

Easy or effortless.

Example: 

After studying hard, the exam was a piece of cake.

Origin:

This phrase is believed to have originated in the United States in the early 1900s and may have come from the idea of a cake being an easy and enjoyable dessert to eat.

49. Spill the beans

Meaning: 

To reveal a secret.

Example: 

After a few drinks, John spilled the beans about his friend's surprise party.

Origin:

This phrase is believed to have originated in ancient Greece, where secret ballots were cast using beans. If someone accidentally spilled the beans, the secret would be revealed.

50. Sugarcoat

Meaning: 

To make something seem less severe or unpleasant.

Example: 

When a teacher sugarcoats a student's poor performance in class, it can prevent the student from understanding their weaknesses and working to improve them.

Origin:

This phrase dates back to the early 1900s and refers to the idea of covering something up with a sweet and pleasant coating, much like a bitter pill can be made easier to swallow by coating it with sugar.

Idioms about amount and distance

Idioms are a fun and creative way to express ourselves, often with a metaphorical meaning that goes beyond the literal definition of the words. Here are ten idioms about amount and distance, along with their meanings, examples, and origins:

51. To be a stone's throw away

Meaning: 

To be very close or nearby.

Example: 

"The restaurant is just a stone's throw away from our hotel."

Origin: 

This idiom dates back to at least the 1500s and likely refers to the distance one could throw a stone.

52. To go the extra mile

Meaning: 

To make an extra effort or do more than is required.

Example: 

"She really went the extra mile to make sure the party was a success."

Origin: 

This phrase comes from the biblical story of Jesus telling his followers to go the extra mile when forced to carry a Roman soldier's gear for one mile.

53. To be a drop in the bucket

Meaning:

To be a small or insignificant amount compared to the whole.

Example: 

"Your donation is appreciated, but it's really just a drop in the bucket compared to what we need to raise."

Origin: 

This idiom comes from the idea of a drop of water being insignificant when added to a bucket of water.

54. To be in the ballpark 

Meaning:

 To be close to the right amount or within a reasonable range.

Example: 

"I don't know the exact cost, but I think it's in the ballpark of $50."

Origin: 

This idiom comes from baseball, where the ballpark refers to the stadium or playing field.

55. To be a mile a minute

Meaning: 

To talk or move very quickly.

Example: 

"She was talking a mile a minute and I could hardly keep up with her."

Origin: 

This phrase likely originated in the early 1900s when trains were a popular form of transportation and could travel a mile in a minute.

56. To be a far cry from

Meaning: 

To be very different or much less than something else.

Example: 

"This hotel is a far cry from the luxurious resort we stayed at last year."

Origin: 

The origin of this phrase is uncertain, but it may refer to the practice of hunters using a cry to communicate with each other from a far distance.

57. To be within striking distance

Meaning: 

To be close enough to take action or achieve a goal.

Example: 

"We're within striking distance of the finish line, so let's push a little harder to cross it."

Origin: 

This phrase likely comes from the idea of a military strike or attack being possible when within a certain distance.

58. To be a hop, skip, and a jump away

Meaning:

 To be a short distance away

Example: 

"The store is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from my house."

Origin: 

This phrase likely comes from the idea of children playing hopscotch, where they would hop, skip, and jump from one square to the next.

59. To be miles ahead

Meaning: 

To be much further along or more advanced than others.

Example: 

"This company is miles ahead of its competitors in terms of innovation."

Origin: 

This phrase is simply a literal use of the word "miles" to describe a great distance.

60. To be at arm's length

 Meaning: 

To keep a distance or maintain a level of separation.

Example: 

"After getting a poor grade on the last assignment, the student kept their teacher at arm's length, avoiding asking for help or clarification on the upcoming exam."

Origin: 

This phrase comes from the idea of holding someone or something at a distance with one's arm to avoid physical contact.

Idioms about nature

Idioms related to nature are a colourful and expressive way to describe the world around us, drawing on imagery from plants, animals, weather, and other natural phenomena to convey meaning.

61. A breath of fresh air

Meaning: 

A refreshing change or a welcome relief from something stale or suffocating. 

Example: 

"Taking a walk in the park was like a breath of fresh air after being cooped up in the class all day." 

Origin: 

This idiom likely comes from the literal sensation of taking in clean, fresh air after being in a stuffy or polluted environment.

62. As the crow flies

Meaning: 

The shortest distance between two points, disregarding any obstacles or twists and turns in the route. 

Example: 

"The town is only five kilometres away as the crow flies, but it takes us half an hour to drive there because of the winding roads." 

Origin: 

Crows are known for their ability to fly in a straight line to reach their destination, even if it means flying over obstacles.

63. A shrinking violet

 Meaning: 

Someone who is very shy, timid, or introverted and avoids attention or social interaction.

Example: 

"At the party, Jenny was a shrinking violet and mostly kept to herself in a corner."

Origin: 

The idiom "a shrinking violet" is believed to have originated in the 19th century, when the phrase "shrinking violet" was used to describe a type of small, delicate violet flower that was thought to be shrinking or withering away. Over time, the term came to be used metaphorically to describe people who were similarly timid and unassuming, and the idiom "a shrinking violet" became a common way to describe such individuals.

64. To have a green thumb

Meaning: 

To have a natural talent for gardening or growing plants. 

Example: 

"My neighbour's garden is always full of beautiful flowers and healthy vegetables - she definitely has a green thumb." 

Origin: 

This idiom likely comes from the idea of having fingers that are green from working with plants and soil.

65. To turn over a new leaf 

Meaning: 

To start fresh and make a positive change in one's life. 

Example: 

"Sarah used to always forget her homework, but she decided to turn over a new leaf and now she always double-checks her backpack before leaving for school."

Origin: 

This idiom comes from the image of a tree turning over a new leaf in the spring, symbolising new growth and a fresh start.

66. To have a bee in one's bonnet

Meaning: 

To be obsessed with a particular idea or topic. 

Example: 

"Ever since she read that book about the environment, Jane has had a bee in her bonnet about reducing her carbon footprint." 

Origin: 

This idiom likely comes from the literal experience of having a bee trapped inside one's hat or bonnet and being unable to focus on anything else until it is removed.

67. To be on cloud nine

Meaning: 

To be extremely happy or elated. 

Example: 

"After winning the lottery, Mary was on cloud nine for days." 

Origin: 

The exact origin of the idiom "to be on cloud nine" is unclear, but it is thought to have originated in the United States in the 1950s or 60s. Some believe that it may have been inspired by the classification system used by the US Weather Bureau to describe cloud types, where the highest clouds were classified as "cloud nine". Others suggest that the phrase may have been influenced by the idea of being on cloud nine in Hinduism and Buddhism, where it represents a state of enlightenment or spiritual bliss.

68. When it rains, it pours

Meaning: 

When things start going wrong, they tend to snowball and get worse quickly. 

Example: 

"First I lost my pencil, then I spilled my juice, and then I tripped and fell on the playground. It was like when it rains it pours!"

Origin: 

This idiom likely comes from the idea of heavy rain leading to flooding or other disasters.

69. The calm before the storm

Meaning: 

A period of peacefulness or quiet before a chaotic or difficult event. 

Example: 

"The classroom was so quiet before the teacher announced the surprise test, it was like the calm before the storm!"

Origin: 

This idiom comes from the literal experience of a calm period of weather before a storm or hurricane hits.

70. A ray of sunshine

Meaning: 

Someone or something that brings happiness, hope, and positivity into a difficult or challenging situation. 

Example: 

"When I was feeling sad about losing my favourite toy, my best friend came over with a big smile and a joke that made me laugh. She was like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day."

Origin: 

This idiom is believed to have originated from the literal concept of sunshine and its positive effects on mood and well-being. Just as a beam of sunlight can brighten up a room or landscape, someone who brings positivity and cheerfulness to a situation can be described as a "ray of sunshine."

Idioms about starting or ending something

Idioms about starting or ending something can be useful in a variety of contexts, from personal projects and relationships to physical journeys and decision-making, as demonstrated by these examples.

71. Kick off

Meaning: 

To begin something; to start an event, meeting, or game. 

Example:

 "Let's kick off the party with some music and dancing!" 

Origin: 

This idiom comes from football (soccer), where the game is started with a kick-off from the centre of the field.

72. The ball is in someone's court

Meaning:

It is someone's turn to take action or make a decision. 

Example: 

"I've given him all the information he needs, so now the ball is in his court." 

Origin: 

This idiom comes from the game of tennis, where the player who is receiving the ball has the opportunity to return it or make a play.

73. Call it a day

Meaning: 

To end work or an activity for the day. 

Example: 

"It's getting late, let's call it a day and continue tomorrow." 

Origin: 

This idiom comes from the world of sailing, where the captain would call out to the crew to stop working and return to the ship at the end of the day.

74. Tie up loose ends

Meaning: 

To complete unfinished tasks or details. 

Example: 

"After finishing his hike, John realised he needed to tie up some loose ends, like getting his gear organised and returning his rental equipment before heading back home."

Origin: 

This idiom comes from the world of knitting, where loose ends of yarn need to be tied off to finish a project.

75. The end of the road

Meaning: 

The final stage or outcome of something; a point beyond which progress or success is impossible. 

Example: 

"After years of neglect and disrepair, the old house was at the end of the road, and it was time to make a decision about whether to renovate or demolish it."

Origin: 

This idiom is a metaphor for a road that leads to a dead end or cliff, beyond which one cannot continue.

76. Start from scratch

Meaning: 

To start over completely; to begin from the beginning. 

Example: 

"After the fire destroyed our house, we had to start from scratch and rebuild everything." 

Origin: 

This idiom comes from the world of cooking, where making a cake or pastry from scratch means starting with basic ingredients rather than using pre-made mixes.

77. End on a high note

Meaning: 

To finish something in a positive or successful way. 

Example: 

"The concert ended on a high note with the band's biggest hit." 

Origin: 

This idiom comes from music, where a singer or musician will often end a performance with their most impressive or memorable song.

78. Close the book on

Meaning: 

To put an end to something permanently; to make a final decision or conclusion. 

Example: 

"It's time to close the book on our failed business venture and move on." 

Origin: 

This idiom comes from the idea of finishing reading a book and closing it, symbolising the completion of a story or chapter.

79. Draw a line in the sand

Meaning: 

To set a boundary or make a clear declaration of intent; to take a stand on an issue. 

Example: 

"We've had enough of your behaviour, so it's time to draw a line in the sand and demand some changes." 

Origin: 

This idiom refers to a literal act of drawing a line in the sand to mark a boundary or divide, often used as a challenge to one's opponent in a conflict.

80. Jump the gun

Meaning: 

To start something prematurely; to act too quickly or hastily. 

Example: 

"We still need to finalise the details before launching the project, so let's not jump the gun and make any premature announcements." 

Origin: 

This idiom comes from the sport of track and field, where starting a race before the gun signals the official start can result in disqualification.

Idioms about clothes

Clothes play a significant role in our lives, and they also have an impact on the way we express ourselves. Here are ten idioms related to clothes along with their meanings, examples, and origins:

81. Wear your heart on your sleeve

Meaning: 

To openly show one's emotions, whether positive or negative.

Example: 

"He wears his heart on his sleeve and gets hurt easily."

Origin: 

This expression dates back to the Middle Ages when knights used to tie a lady's handkerchief to their sleeves to show their love and loyalty.

82. Fit like a glove

Meaning: 

To fit perfectly.

Example: 

"The new suit fits him like a glove."

Origin: 

This expression refers to the perfect fit of a glove on the hand.

83. On a shoestring

Meaning: 

To operate on a very tight budget.

Example: 

"They started the business on a shoestring budget."

Origin: 

This expression originates from the 1800s when shoestrings were commonly used instead of expensive laces.

84. Dressed to the nines

Meaning: 

To be dressed in one's best clothes.

Example: 

"She was dressed to the nines for her birthday."

Origin: 

The origin of this expression is uncertain, but it is thought to refer to the nine yards of fabric used to make a gentleman's suit in the 18th century.

85. Button your lip

Meaning:

To be quiet or stop talking.

Example:

 "I wish he would button his lip for once."

Origin: 

This expression comes from the practice of buttoning one's coat over one's mouth to keep warm in cold weather.

86. A stitch in time saves nine

Meaning: 

Taking action early on can prevent problems from getting worse.

Example: 

"If you fix the leak now, it'll save you a lot of money in the long run. Remember, a stitch in time saves nine."

Origin: 

This expression dates back to the 1700s and refers to the practice of sewing up a small tear in clothing before it becomes a larger problem.

87. A hat trick

Meaning:

Three accomplishments in a row.

Example: 

"He scored a hat trick in the football game last night."

Origin: 

This expression comes from cricket, where a bowler who takes three wickets in three consecutive deliveries is rewarded with a new hat.

88. In someone's shoes

Meaning: 

To imagine oneself in another person's situation or circumstances.

Example: 

"Before you judge her, try to put yourself in her shoes."

Origin: 

This expression comes from the idea of physically wearing someone else's shoes to understand their perspective.

89. The whole nine yards

Meaning: 

To go all out or give one's best effort.

Example: 

"We're going to give this project the whole nine yards and make it the best it can be."

Origin: 

The origin of this expression is uncertain, but it is thought to refer to the amount of fabric required to make a full suit in the 1940s.

90. To have something up one's sleeve

Meaning: 

To have a secret plan or strategy.

Example: 

"I have something up my sleeve that will help us win the competition."

Origin: 

This expression comes from the practice of magicians hiding objects, such as cards or coins, up their sleeves during performances.

Idioms about safety and danger

Idioms are an interesting aspect of language that help to express thoughts in a more colourful and creative way. There are many idioms related to safety and danger that can be used to express caution, warning, or alertness in various situations. Here are 10 common idioms about safety and danger, along with their meanings, examples, and origins:

91. Better safe than sorry

 Meaning:

It is better to be cautious and careful than to regret not being careful later on.

Example: 

"I always double-check the locks on the doors before I go to bed. Better safe than sorry."

Origin:

This phrase is believed to have originated in the early 19th century and was first used in print in a book called "Tour in Scotland" by Thomas Newte in 1793.

92. Take a chance

 Meaning:

To take a risk or do something risky.

Example: 

"I'm thinking about trying that new restaurant, but I'm not sure. I'll take a chance and see how it is."

Origin:

This idiom originated in the game of dice, where players would take chances and risk their money in the hope of winning big.

93. Walking on thin ice

Meaning:

 To be in a dangerous or risky situation.

Example: 

"Jimmy knew he was walking on thin ice when he didn't finish his homework and lied to his teacher about it."

Origin:

This phrase has its origins in the literal sense of walking on thin ice, which is a very dangerous thing to do.

94. Tip of the iceberg

Meaning:

A small part of a bigger problem or issue.

Example: 

"Getting an A+ on your homework is just the tip of the iceberg, there are still many more things you can do to be an excellent student."

Origin:

This phrase originated from the fact that only a small part of an iceberg is visible above water, with the vast majority of it hidden beneath the surface.

95. On the brink of disaster

Meaning:

Very close to experiencing a major problem or failure.

Example: 

"After days of heavy rain, the river was rising rapidly and was on the brink of flooding the nearby town. Emergency crews worked tirelessly to sandbag vulnerable areas and evacuate residents, knowing that the situation was on the brink of disaster."

Origin:

The word "brink" refers to the edge or margin of something, and this idiom is believed to have originated in the mid-19th century.

96. Playing with fire

Meaning:

To take unnecessary risks or do something dangerous.

Example: 

"He knows he shouldn't copy homework. He's really playing with fire."

Origin:

This idiom refers to the dangers of fire and has been used for centuries to warn against taking unnecessary risks.

97. In the line of fire

Meaning:

In a situation where one may face danger or criticism.

Example: 

"The police officer was in the line of fire during the shootout."

Origin:

This phrase originated from military terminology, where soldiers would literally be in the line of fire during a battle.

98. Walking a tightrope

Meaning: 

To be in a precarious or difficult situation.

Example: 

"The project is behind schedule, and the budget is running low. We're walking a tightrope here."

Origin:

This phrase has its origins in the world of circus performers, who would walk along a tightrope high above the ground.

99. Jump out of one's skin

Meaning: 

To be frightened or startled.

Example: 

"When the loud thunderclap came, I jumped out of my skin."

Origin:

This phrase is believed to have originated in the late 19th century and refers to the feeling of being startled or frightened.

100. Red flag

Meaning: 

This idiom is used to describe a warning sign or signal that something is dangerous or problematic.

Example: 

"The doctor noticed some red flags during the patient's examination, so she ordered further testing to rule out any serious health issues."

Origin:

The origin of this idiom comes from the literal use of red flags as a warning sign in various contexts. For example, red flags were used to warn swimmers of dangerous conditions at the beach or to signal a warning during a car race. The phrase has since been adopted in a metaphorical sense to refer to any warning sign that something is dangerous or problematic.


In conclusion, idioms are an integral part of the English language and add colour and depth to our communication. With origins ranging from literature to history and culture, these expressions are not only fascinating but also provide insight into the way we think and communicate. Whether used to spice up a conversation, express emotions, or add humour to a situation, idioms continue to play an important role in our daily lives. From "barking up the wrong tree" to "playing with fire," we will always have an abundance of these colourful phrases to use and explore.


Read PSLE Composition Writing: 5 figures of speech to make your writing sing [With examples] next!

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