Common English Idioms

An idiom is a group of words whose meaning cannot be understood by looking at the individual words, but rather they have a meaning as a whole. They are not meant to be taken literally.
Idioms are used often in English, so it is important to know them. They will also help you sound more like a native speaker. Here are some useful idioms:


(To) Stab someone in the back

This is a common idiom that, if taken literally, would cause a lot of trouble with the police. The real meaning is very different. To stab someone in the back means to betray a person who trusts you. A person who does this is a `back-stabber`.


Example: My coworker stabbed me in the back by telling my boss I’m a bad employee.


(To be) On the ball

Taken literally, this idiom would mean standing or sitting on a ball. However, to be on the ball means that you are very prepared for something or that you can understand things very quickly.


Example: A student who studies at home is on the ball.


(To) Go cold turkey

Although the idea of someone becoming a piece of cold turkey is pretty funny, the true meaning of going cold turkey is to completely stop doing something suddenly as opposed to stopping gradually.


Example: I decided to quit smoking. I am going cold turkey.



Common English Idioms