Author: By Med Kharbach, PhD
Each speech community has its own of conventional idioms that they use in different meaning making situations. From my own experience as both a polyglot and a language teacher, I can attest to the difficulty of learning idioms. To this day, I still have recourse to dictionary to look up unfamiliar idioms.
Idiomatic expressions are the area in language learning which often requires more contextual explanation than others. However, idioms are an important part of language learning and learners, regardless of their age, must familiarize themselves with commonly used idioms in their target language if they want to understand and use language effectively.
When it comes to kids learning idioms , it’s important to select the most appropriate ones. Kids idioms should be simple enough to understand and easy to remember. The following list includes some of the best English idioms suitable for kids. These idioms will not only help them become better communicators but also add some fun into their learning process!
Here are 50 popular idioms for kids:
1. Hot potato
A controversial issue or situation which is awkward to deal with.
Example: “dog registration has become a political hot potato”
2. A piece of cake
A task or challenge that is easy to accomplish.
Example: “Completing the crossword was a piece of cake.”
A situation in which it seems impossible to do what you want because of contradictory rules.
Example: “The school won’t let him take the exam unless he passes it, so it’s a real catch-22.”
4. Cut to the chase
To get to the point quickly; to dispense with unnecessary details or formalities.
Example: “Let’s cut to the chase – what do you want us to do?”
5. Let the cat out of the bag
To reveal a secret or surprise, usually unintentionally.
Example: “Oops! I let the cat out of the bag and spoiled her surprise party.”
6. Run circles around someone
To be more skillful than someone else in doing something; to do something much better than someone else.
Example: “My daughter runs circles around me when it comes to using her smartphone.”
7. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch
Don’t plan on or expect something that may not happen.
Example: “He was already spending the money he expected to get from his bonus but I told him not to count his chickens before they hatched.”
8. Every cloud has a silver lining
Even in difficult or bad situations, there is always something good that can be found.
Example: “I know you were disappointed when the project didn’t go as planned but remember: every cloud has a silver lining.”
9. Bury the hatchet
To end an argument or disagreement and forgive each other.
Example: “After hours of arguing, they finally decided to bury the hatchet and make up.”
10. Take it with a grain of salt
To not take something too seriously or to be skeptical about it.
Example: “I heard that he was leaving but I took it with a grain of salt until I heard it from him directly.”
11. Go the extra mile
To do more than what is expected of you.
Example: “I really appreciate that you went the extra mile and stayed late to finish the project.”
12. Keep your chin up
When things are not going well, stay positive or try to find a solution.
Example: “I know it’s hard but keep your chin up! Things will get better soon.”
13. Burning the midnight oil
To work late into the night.
Example: “He was burning the midnight oil to finish all his assignments before the deadline.”
14. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
To accept something without questioning it.
Example: “My grandmother gave me an old dresser – I couldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth and say no.”
15. Practice makes perfect
The more you practice doing something, the better you will become at it.
Example: “If you want to learn how to play the piano, remember: practice makes perfect!”
16. Sleep tight
Farewell phrase used when saying goodnight.
Example: “Goodnight! Sleep tight!”
17. Keep your fingers crossed
To hope that something will turn out well.
Example: “I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you – I know you’ll do great!”
18. All’s well that ends well
Things can still turn out okay even if they don’t start out that way.
Example: “Even though things were looking bleak at first, in the end all’s well that ends well.”
19. Change of pace
A break from doing something in order to do something else.
Example: “After hours of studying for exams, it was nice to have a change of pace and go for a walk.”
20. Easy peasy
Something that is very easy to do.
Example: “Making dinner was easy peasy – all I had to do was heat up some leftovers.”
21. Two peas in a pod
Two people who have many similarities and get along very well together.
Example: “My brother and I are like two peas in a pod – we have the same interests and always have fun when we’re together.”
22. Piece of cake
Something that is very easy to do or understand.
Example: “I thought the exam was going to be difficult but it turned out to be a piece of cake!”
23. Break a leg
Good luck phrase used before someone performs or takes a test.
Example: “Break a leg before your presentation – I know you’ll do great!”
24. Kill two birds with one stone
To do two tasks at once and in the process save time or money.
Example: “I decided to kill two birds with one stone by taking my son grocery shopping while I picked up some things for myself.”
25. All’s fair in love and war
“Used to describe a situation in which people do not follow the usual rules of behavior and do things that are normally considered unfair.”
Example: “He knew she was seeing someone else but he thought, all’s fair in love and war – so he decided to go for it.”
26. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade
When something bad happens, try to find a way to make it into something positive.
Example: “After losing her job, she found another one that paid better – when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”
27. Bite off more than you can chew
To take on a task or responsibility that is too big for you to handle.
Example: “I tried to learn four different languages at the same time but I ended up biting off more than I could chew.”
28. Let sleeping dogs lie
Used to tell someone not to bring up a topic or situation that may cause trouble.
Example: “I was about to mention what happened at the party, but then I remembered – let sleeping dogs lie.”
29. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch
Don’t make plans based on something that may not happen.
Example: “I was already planning what I’d do with my winnings, but then I realized – don’t count your chickens before they hatch!”
30. Spin a yarn
To tell a long and far-fetched story.
Example: “Every time I go to visit my grandfather, he always takes the time to spin a yarn about his younger days.”
31. Put your best foot forward
Try your hardest in order to show someone what you are capable of.
Example: “I’m going in for the job interview tomorrow – I’m going to put my best foot forward and show them what I can do!”
32. Once in a blue moon
Something that rarely happens.
Example: “I haven’t seen him for years – it’s like he only comes around once in a blue moon.”
33. Keep your chin up
Don’t give up and stay positive.
Example: “Things are tough right now, but keep your chin up – it’ll get better!”
34. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
Don’t put all of your resources into one venture.
Example: “I know you want to focus on this one project, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket – diversify and you’ll be more successful.”
35. When pig fly
Something that will never happen.
Example: “My brother said he’ll do the dishes when pigs fly – I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon!”
36. Don’t cry over spilled milk
Don’t worry about something that can’t be helped or changed anymore.
Example: “I dropped my favourite mug, but I decided not to cry over spilled milk – what’s done is done.”
37. Talk the talk and walk the walk
Back up your words with actions.
Example: “He says he can do it, but we’ll have to wait and see – talk the talk and walk the walk.”
38. Two heads are better than one
The combined effort of two people is more effective.
Example: “I was having a hard time figuring it out on my own, but then my friend offered to help – two heads are better than one!”
39. Actions speak louder than words
What someone does is more important than what they say.
Example: “He said he was sorry, but his actions showed something different – actions speak louder than words.”
40. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
It’s better to have something that is certain, rather than taking a risk for more.
Example: “I was considering investing in a risky business venture, but I decided against it – a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
41. All good things must come to an end
Nothing lasts forever.
Example: “I had the best summer vacation, but then it was time to leave – all good things must come to an end.”
42. Tongue in cheek
Something said in a humorous way.
Example: “I joked that I was going to buy a yacht, but it was tongue-in-cheek – I don’t even own a boat!”
43. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill
Don’t overreact and make something bigger than it actually is.
Example: “My friend was nervous about meeting her new boss, but I told her – don’t make a mountain out of a molehill – it’s not as bad as you think.”
44. A penny for your thoughts
Used to ask someone what they’re thinking about.
Example: “You’ve been quiet for a while, what’s on your mind – a penny for your thoughts?”
45. Don’t beat around the bush
Don’t talk in circles, get to the point.
Example: “I asked him why he was angry, but he kept beating around the bush – I finally had to ask him directly what the problem was.”
46.A blessing in disguise
Something good that initially seemed bad.
Example: “I lost my job, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise – I found an even better opportunity soon after.”
47. Crack someone up
Make someone laugh.
Example: “He always cracks me up with his silly jokes – he’s so funny!”
48. Cut corners
Do something quickly and cheaply, often at the expense of quality.
Example: “He tried to cut corners when painting the house, but it ended up costing us more in the long run.”
49. Call it a day
Stop working for the day.
Example: “It’s getting late, let’s call it a day and pick up where we left off tomorrow.”
50. Don’t judge a book by its cover
Don’t make assumptions based on appearances.
Example: “I was worried that she wouldn’t like me because of the way I look, but I reminded myself not to judge a book by its cover.”