Wednesday, 25 June 2014


Using different English Idioms will help you to impress the examiner in the CPE Speaking Exam. You can also use idioms in your writings but take into consideration that idioms are informal. This means that it is a good idea to use them in a friendly letter or in a light-hearted article, but not in a formal document like an essay or a report. Click to see How to write a Report and How to write an Essay.

List of idioms from A to Z


A chink in sb´s armour.
Example: She is the best student in the class but her poor spelling is the chink in her armour.


Spill the beans.
Example: I know you have a secret. C´mon tell me. Spill the beans.
Spill the beans idiom

C the cat out of the bag.
Example: You are not good at keeping secrets. Tell us now. Let the cat out of the bag.

That´s the way the cookie crumbles.
Example: I can´t believe she decided to go to the graduation dance with Sam instead of me. But well, that´s the way the cookie crumbles.


Look like a million dollars.
Example: She looks amazing in her new dress. She looks like a million dollars.


Let´s play it by ear.
Example: Let´s make no plans for today. Let´s just play it by ear.

A white elephant.
Example: Nobody uses the computer in the teachers´ room. It´s a white elephant.


Fair-weather friend.
Fair-weather friend idiomExample: He is never there when I need him. 
He is a fair-weather friend.


Sour grapes


Learn something by heart.
Example: When we were at school our teacher made us memorise the multiplication table. I learnt it by heart.


The tip of the iceberg.


Kith and kin.



Once in a blue moon idiomOnce in a blue moon.
Example: I don´t see him too often. He comes to visit once in a blue moon.


On cloud nine.
Example: She has just got the promotion she wanted and she is on cloud nine.


On the house.
Example: We don´t need to pay for that bottle of wine. The restaurant will pay for it. It´s on the house.

Is on me.
Example: I will pay for everybody´s drinks. They are on me.


A hot potato.
Example: The issue has become a political hot potato.


Like a red rag to a bull idiomLike a red rag to a bull. Example: Asking about her ex-boyfriend was like a red rag to a bull. She got really angry all of a sudden.


Move at a snail´s pace idiomMove at a snail´s pace.
Example: I arrived late because the train was moving at a snail´s pace.

Get something out of one´s system.


Bark up the wrong tree.
Bark up the wrong tree idiomExample: Sorry I can´t help you with your homework. I´m bad at mathematics. You are barking up the wrong tree.


Under the weather.
Example: Claudia is not going to school today because she´s feeling a bit under the weather.

Have a whale of a time idiomHave a whale of a time.
Example: We had a whale of a time in Mexico. Yes, indeed, it was a fantastic trip.

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