Learning idioms is a great way to gain fluency when you’re studying a language. Idioms are short phrases (combinations of words) that probably don’t make sense on their own, but the whole phrase together provides (gives) greater meaning. Idioms are usually unique to (special to) a language, and are used often by native speakers. If you want to become fluent in a language, learning idioms is essential (necessary). With that in mind, there are several English idioms you should learn if you want to be fluent.

If you loved last week’s post on English idioms and were eager to know more, here are 7 more English idioms you should learn!

For a song

If you’re working on your next project and are able to purchase something you need for a song, it will definitely help you stay under budget! The idiom for a song means that you can get something for very cheap or almost free…as if you only had to pay for it by singing or playing a song. Getting something for a song can certainly be useful if you’re on a budget (only have a certain amount of money to spend).

For example:

  • I was amazed that he bought a car for under $5,000. He got it for a song, and it runs really well!
  • They had a very low budget for their home renovation. The only way they would be able to stay under budget is if they were able to get everything for a song.

Shoot the breeze

If you shoot the breeze with someone, I promise it doesn’t involve guns or the wind (or trying to shoot at the wind). Instead, you’re chewing the fat (remember last week?) with them. Just like words can have multiple meanings, different idioms can be used to express one idea! Do you shoot the breeze with coworkers in the morning over coffee? Or do you shoot the breeze with a neighbor when you get home in the afternoon? If you do, then you’re enjoying a wonderful conversation with them!

For example:

  • Steve shot the breeze with his boss when he came into the office. He then got a coffee and got to work.
  • Our neighbors like to shoot the breeze whenever someone has a party.


Through thick and thin

Do you have one friend that has been with you through everything? They’ve been there for you when things were going well in your life, and they’ve been there when things were going poorly? Then that friend has been with you through thick and thin. Hold onto that friend, as (because) they’re the best kind! Through thick and thin, one of the best English idioms you should learn, means to be with someone through good times and bad times.

For example:

  • My favorite part of a wedding is when they promise to be with each other through thick and thin.
  • Her best friend has been with her though thick and thin. They’ve been there for each other for years!

The whole nine yards

This is an idiom that is near and dear (close to) to my heart, as I worked in a store that sold kilts when I was in college (yes, I know…).

What does this idiom have to do with kilts, you ask? Well, there are many supposed (possible) origins to this phrase, as it’s an etymological (the development of language) riddle. But according to one theory, it comes from kilt making. Kilts are made with nine yards of fabric, so if you want a properly made kilt, you’ll need to buy the whole nine-yards.

The idiom means, however, that you have given something all your effort and gone above and beyond what was required. If you have ever done everything possible to make a guest feel very welcome at your office, then you have gone the whole nine yards for them.

For example:

  • He’s been going the whole nine yards at work to prove that he’s ready to lead a team.
  • She always goes the whole nine yards when she has guests. She wants them to feel very welcome!

Let the cat out of the bag

Have you ever spilled (told on accident) a secret that you weren’t meant to? Then you might have let the cat out of the bag. Once the secret is out in the open, there is no chance of putting that secret back in the bag!

So the next time your office is throwing a surprise party for a coworker, don’t let the cat out of the bag when asking what their favorite kind of cake is!

For example:

  • I was so disappointed when he let the cat out of the bag and told Sarah about her surprise birthday party.
  • I have a secret to tell you, but please keep it to yourself and don’t let the cat out of the bag!


Fit as a fiddle

Did you spring (jump) out of bed this morning, whistling a happy tune, and were super productive at the office? Did you feel great, and as if you could get anything done? Then you were feeling fit as a fiddle. If you’re fit as a fiddle, you’re in excellent health and at the top of your game. Just like a well-tuned fiddle!

For example:

  • I don’t know how he does it! He always seems fit as a fiddle, even though he’s always busy.
  • She’s normally fit as a fiddle, but she’s called in sick to work the past couple days. I hope she’s ok!


Ace in the hole

An ace in the hole is more than a Billy Wilder film. If you have an ace in the hole, you have a secret advantage or an unrevealed strength. This can then be used to your advantage (used for your benefit). The phrase comes from the hole card in poker, which hopefully is an ace. This is one of the best English idioms you should learn if you want to be successful! That way, you can always surprise people and use it to your advantage.

At your next interview, don’t be afraid to reveal your ace in the hole in order to secure your new job!

For example:

  • Do you have a special skill that’s not listed on your resume? Maybe that could be your ace in the hole during your interview.
  • During the audition, her dancing skills were her ace in the hole. She thought she nailed the audition because of that!

Have you heard of any of these English idioms before? Have you used any of them in the past? Are there any other English idioms you should learn that you know of? Share them with us in the comments below!

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Check out these other popular blogs: Taboo words in English7 Synonyms for Being Drunk7 American English Slang Words, or these Sports Idioms used in English!

Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and will never let the cat out of the bag!

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