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Paul Sparks, Online Business English Lesson Plans, Lesson Material and Ideas for
Grade 2 English Conversation Lessons at Xiangtan Normal University...
Lesson 9 -
Idioms and Slang Words
make the students aware of Slang words and Idioms used in general everyday
conversation in the English language. To increase students level of conversation
What are Idioms
and Slang Words?
are normally phrases which do not make much sense when looked at in normal
English language, they are expressions which have no logical structure.
For example the term "Red Hering", an idiom meaning "false trail", is used
of something which is neither red nor a herring. Some more common Idioms
are shown below:
was "all ears" when his boss talked.
is a "chip off the old block".
like his father
is "thick in the head".
were "beat" after three days of hard work.
was "hard up" to pay his rent.
had no money
storm left them "all in the same boat".
all in the same situation
house fire meant we had to "start from scratch".
words are phrases used to mean other things. For example "A Quid" means
"1 pound" in English money. Another common slang word is "loo", which is
slang for "toilet".
Idioms Quiz Questions
of Quiz Questions: http://www.pacificnet.net/~sperling/quiz/)
When Richard said something about his brother's surprise birthday party,
he "let the cat out of the bag."
gave his brother a cat for his birthday.
revealed a secret.
brother is celebrating his birthday.
Mr. Evans was "in the doghouse" with his wife because he spent all day
Sunday watching football instead of helping her clean the house.
Evans enjoys watching football.
Evans is going to build a doghouse for his dog.
Evans is angry with her husband.
When George asked Karen how she knew that William was getting married,
she said that she "heard it straight from the horse's mouth."
told Karen that he was getting married.
and William are getting married.
told Karen that he was getting married.
When I clean my house today, I can also rearrange the furniture. That way,
I can "kill two birds with one stone."
have a lot of time to clean the house.
can do two things at the same time.
can rearrange the furniture after I clean the house.
David moved to the countryside because living in the city had become such
a "rat race."
moved to the countryside because there were too many rats in the city.
was stressed out by the hectic pace of life in the city.
thought that the city was too dangerous.
Even though Mrs. Jensen is no "spring chicken," she still enjoys swimming
and running every day.
Jensen is not young, but she enjoys exercising.
Jensen doesn't eat chicken.
Jensen is training for a marathon race.
The news that he had been accepted by the University was "music to Mike's
is going to study music at the university.
received some very good news.
enjoys listening to music.
Wayne doesn't know for sure what he's going to do tomorrow. He'll "play
it by ear."
will listen to his friend tomorrow.
will make a definite plan for tomorrow.
won't make a definite plan for tomorrow.
When Robert met his girlfriend after a long separation, he told her that
she was a "sight for sore eyes."
told his girlfriend that he was happy to see her.
told his girlfriend that his eyes were sore.
told his girlfriend that she had pretty eyes.
Jack told his wife to "keep her eyes peeled" for a gas station because
they were almost out of gas.
told his wife that they were out of gas.
told his wife to look at the gas station.
told his wife to look for a gas station.
The Japanese and American negotiators had been meeting for ten hours, but
they still couldn't "see eye-to-eye" on many important issues.
negotiators couldn't agree.
negotiators couldn't see clearly.
negotiators couldn't look at each other.
The way that Cindy was fired from her job "left a bad taste in her mouth."
ate some strange food.
was fired because she said something rude.
had some bad feelings about being fired.
"Dunny" means __________.
Your "mate" is your __________.
A "sheila " is a __________.
The remote country area of Australia is called the __________.
A common Australian greeting is __________.
"Fair dinkum" means that Dave is __________.
very crazy teacher
hungry, and drunk
"Chook" means __________.
American / British
Vocabulary Quiz 1
A "puppy" is a small _____.
A "hamburger" is made from _____ .
Starting "on time" means beginning _____ .
the scheduled time
the scheduled time or later
the scheduled time or earlier
"You don't have to do it" means _____.
isn't necessary to do it."
mustn't do it."
isn't a good idea to do it."
How come?" and "What for?" both mean _____ .
If someone says "Cool it!," he/she wants you to:
A "whatchamacallit" is something that you:
remember / don't know the name of
"To veg [vedge] out" means to:
American / British
Vocabulary Quiz 2
"He hardly worked" means that he worked _______.
I'd better "get a move on" means I need to _______.
what to do
Getting somewhere "in time" means arriving there _______.
a little bit late
it's too late
A "ewe" is a female _______.
If I give you "my two cents' worth," I give you _______.
very small amount of money
you can't use
If someone says "Hold it!," he/she wants you to _______.
what you're doing
harder or move faster
When the response to a question is "Beats me," the person responding means
that he/she _______.
know the answer
the question is stupid
you to ask the question again
"I really pigged out" means that I _______.
neat or organized
"A to Z" of Animal
like ants" - Working hard.
in one's pants" - to be very restless and impatient
barking dog never bites" - Someone who makes threats all the time, seldom
carries out the threats.
up the wrong tree" - Pursue an erroneous course of action.
bark is worse than his bite" - Someone comes across as being very mean
and nasty, but doesn't necessarily act on their threats
keep a dog and bark yourself" - You should not do something you hired some
one else to do.
blind as a bat" - Blind.
bats in the belfry" - Informal. to be mad or eccentric; have strange ideas
a bat out of hell" - Fast.
a bear with a sore head" - Very disgruntled.
a bear by the tail" - to have a very difficult problem to solve
as a beaver" - Busy.
beaver" - someone who is very eager to do something
as a bee" - Busy. having bees in one's bonnet
be up in a tizzy about something.
bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" - Don't go after something if
it means loosing what you have.
as a bird" - Free.
little bird told me" - I won't tell you who told me.
view" - Seen from above.
of a feather flock together" - Similar people tend to associate with each
two birds with one stone" - Accomplishing two things at the same time.
birds and the bees" - Euphemistic or jocular. sex and sexual reproduction
you a bone" - To give you a compliment.
snug as a bug in a rug" - Comfortable
let the bed bugs bite" - Sleep Well.
the bull by the horns" - to face and tackle a difficulty without shirking.
story" - untrue story
a bull in a china shop" - Someone who heedless of physical damage or the
personal feelings of anyone, shoulders his way though delicate situations.
as the hump on a camel" - obvious
cat and mouse" - to play with a person or animal in a cruel or teasing
way. esp before a final act of cruelty or unkindness
a cat in hell's chance" - no chance at all
cat" - A person high up in the business world with a lot of money.
-Some one who mimics some one else.
- A mid-day nap.
what the cat dragged in" - A humorously derogatory comment on someone's
like something the cat brought in" - to appear disheveled or bedraggled.
killed the cat" - Warning about being curious.
cat has nine lives" - Cats can survive things that are severe enough to
a cat on hot bricks" - in an uneasy or agitated state.
got your tongue" - Unable to speak.
the cat out of the bag" - To tell a secret -- normally accidentally.
enough room to swing a cat" - Very little room.
cats and dogs" - It is raining very hard.
the cat's away, the mice will play" - Without supervision, people misbehave.
cat and dog" - quarrelling savagely
count your chickens before they are hatched" - Don't assume you have something
until you really have it.
- a cowardly person
chickens come home to roost" -You have to face the consequences of your
mistakes or bad deeds.
spring chicken" - Old.
now, Brown Cow?" - what next, or what's going on
the cows come home" - Late hours.
tears" - Fake tears.
the crow flies" - From point A to point B directly.
the crows" - an expression of surprise, dismay, etc
as a dodo" - Dead; obsolete; completely washed up.
to the dogs" - Taken a turn for the worse.
hair of the dog that bit you" - The drink you drink in the morning to get
over the drinks you drank the night before.
the dog house" - In trouble.
tired" - Very tired.
as a dog" - Very sick.
dogs breakfast" - Something bad.
a dog eat dog world" - Vicious world.
a dog's life" - Itís an easy life
eat dog" - ruthless competition or self-interest
a dog's dinner" - Informal. dressed smartly or ostentatiously
sleeping dogs lie" - Don't bring up an old issue/topic that will raise
tempers or cause an argument
cannot teach an old dog new tricks" - Someone who is used to doing things
a certain way cannot change.
see a man about a dog" - go use the toilet
it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it must
be a duck" - Assume the obvious.
duck" - someone or something that is certain to fail
sitting duck" - An easy mark.
white elephant" - A gift you don't want and you don't know what to do with
memory like an elephant" - Never forgets.
egg" - a fund of money kept in reserve; savings
a fish out of water" - Out of one's element.
like a fish" - A big drinker.
more than one fish in the sea" - There are always more options
not hurt a fly" - Wouldn't harm anything.
flies" - open mouth
fox" - a sexually attractive woman
fox" - to trick; deceive
in your throat" - Scratchy voice.
scapegoat" - One whom is inflicted punishment for the faults or wrongs
someone's goat" - to irritate someone
good for the goose is good for the gander" - What is good for one person
is good for another; often what is good for the man is good for the woman.
say boo to a goose" - shy
wild-goose chase" - A vain pursuit of something, which, even if attained,
would be worthless.
high to a grasshopper" - short, small
mad as a March hare" - a mad person
- having extremely keen sight
party" - party for only women
herring" - False trail.
the whole hog" - Informal. to do something thoroughly or unreservedly
horse" - Scratchy voice.
strong as a horse" - Strong.
a gift horse in the mouth" - Having bad manners when accepting a gift.
put the cart before the horse" - Doing something in reversed order.
from the horse's mouth" - From the highest authority.
horse couldnít drag me away" - Even the most disasterous events won't keep
me from coming.
can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink" - You can offer
someone something but you cannot insist that they take it (e.g. advice).
around" - Joking around.
your horses" - Just wait a second.
have kittens" - To throw a fit.
gentle as a lamb" - gentle
a lamb to the slaughter" - without resistance
shakes of a lambís tail" - Very fast.
happy as a lark" - very happy
leopard cannot change his spots" - a person does not change
- very brave; courageous
wordreference.com, The Collins English Dictionary
lion's share" - The greater portion.
a monkey of" - someone made to look a fool
gives a monkey's what he thinks" - to care about or regard as important
suit" - a man's evening dress
i'll be a monkey's uncle" - I am surprised.
business (monkey-ing around)" - Something against the 'rules' but not too
quiet as a mouse" - Very quiet.
the nest" - Children must eventually leave home.
one's nest" - Taking money on the side.
as an owl" - wise person
strong as an ox" - very strong
world is his oyster" - He can do anything.
as a pig" - large person
out" - Informal. to devour (food) greedily.
a pig of yourself" - Eat all you want.
like a pig" - sweating a lot
as a pig in mud" - happy and content
pigs fly" -Never.
love" - a juvenile crush on a member of the opposite sex
rat" - a despicable person
race" - Work force.
a rat" - Think that there is a traitor.
chickens come home to roost" - You have to face the consequences of your
mistakes or bad deeds.
- A person who pretends they don't know how to play cards until they play
for money, and then they play well and take all the profits.
wolf in sheep's clothing" -Getting admission under false pretenses.
sheep of the family" -most troublesome member of the family
snail's pace" - Slow.
in the grass" - There is trouble.
as a snake" - Tricky Ė unable to trust.
as a toad" -Ugly.
Bertram, Anne (Bowl of Cherries)
talk turkey" - To talk straight or be honest.
turkey" - a thing or person that fails; dud.
weasel" -Informal. a sly or treacherous person
take under one's wing" - to protect, to mentor.
a wing and a prayer " - with only the slightest hope of succeeding
to clip someone's wings" - to restrict freedom
it" - to accomplish or perform something without full preparation or knowledge;
the wolf from the door" - to ward off starvation
to the wolves" - to abandon or deliver to destruction
wolf down" - to gulp
cry wolf" - false claim
pull the wool over one's eyes" - To hoodwink (trick, hide).
the worm will turn" - Even a meek person will become angry if you abuse
him or her too much.
a program that duplicates itself many times in a network and prevents its
- This page is useful in searching origins of idioms.
- What are some food idioms you recognize and what do they mean?
- This site lists many idioms, their meanings, and their origins.
- How has the meaning of various idioms changed over the years?
- A learning center activity in which students practice working with idioms.
- This page is geared toward English as a Second Language (ESL).
- This page provides a simple definition of idioms and gives several common
examples with the corresponding meanings.
- Are you ready to test your knowledge of the etymology of some idioms?
This is a fun game to test your knowledge of word origins.
- This is an excellent site for kids. It lists idioms alphabetically, randomly,
and gives definitions.
- This is a fun site that that offers a clear definition of etymology with
easy to understand examples.
- This site gives definitions, context, and etymology of some idioms.
- This page provides an enjoyable test of your knowledge of idioms.