We beautify our speeches by adding in different sayings which not only add substance to our sentences but often inject wit and humour into what we say. These sayings called idioms and proverbs tend to add a new flavour to your writings and enrich your speeches.
Idioms or idiomatic expressions are usually used in conversational English and carry a figurative meaning. This means that their actual meaning is different from their literal meaning.
To clarify further, idioms have a meaning which is not the same as the meaning perceived from a word to word interpretation of the expression.
Proverbs are popular sayings which depict a universal truth which has been realized through generations of experience. They may also represent a common-sensical view of the world.
In most cases proverbs carry a metaphorical meaning. At times they may present words of wisdom. As with idioms, a proverb has to be understood by looking beyond the words that compose it.
Here are some proverbs and idioms you must know about.
- Penny for your thoughts
Meaning: A way of asking what someone is thinking
- No man is an island
Meaning: You can’t live completely independently. Everyone needs help from other people.
- Best thing since sliced bread
Meaning: A good invention or innovation. A good idea or plan.
- Fortune favours the bold
Meaning: People who bravely go after what they want are more successful than people who try to live safely.
- Blessing in disguise
Meaning: Something good that isn’t recognized at first.
- Birds of a feather flock together
Meaning: People like to spend time with others who are similar to them.
- Curiosity killed the cat
Meaning: Being inquisitive can lead you into an unpleasant situation.
- Far cry from
Meaning: Very different from
- A friend in need is a friend indeed
Meaning: A friend who helps you out in times of need is a true friend.
- All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
Meaning: Just work and no recreational activities make a person dull and boring.
- Kill two birds with one stone
Meaning: Accomplish two things with one action or effort
- If you snooze, you lose
Meaning: You have to act quickly to get the things you want.
- All good things must come to an end
Meaning: You can’t keep having good luck or fun forever; eventually it will stop.
- Necessity is the mother of invention
Meaning: When you’re really in need, you think of creative solutions to your problems.
- Method to my madness
Meaning: An assertion that, despite one’s approach seeming random, there actually is structure to it.
- Misery loves company
Meaning: People who are unhappy want to make other people unhappy too.
- Familiarity breeds contempt
Meaning: When you’re around someone for too long, you get tired of them and annoyed by them.
- Once in a blue moon
Meaning: Happens very rarely.
- Wouldn’t be caught dead doing
Meaning: Would never like to do something
- Two heads are better than one
Meaning: When two people cooperate with each other, they come up with better ideas.
- Rome wasn’t built in a day
Meaning: Doing important work takes a long time. Be patient.
- Still waters run deep
Meaning: People who don’t talk a lot sometimes have really interesting thoughts.
- The grass is always greener on the other side
Meaning: People tend to want whatever they don’t have.
- A chain is only as strong as its weakest link
Meaning: If one member of a team doesn’t perform well, the whole team will fail.
- Strike while the iron is hot
Meaning: When you have a good opportunity, go for it.
- The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
Meaning: Children are very similar to their parents.
- There is no such thing as bad publicity
Meaning: When people talk about a business, it’s good for the business, even if they’re saying bad things about it.
- You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar
Meaning: To get what you want, be nice to people instead of yelling at them or being mean.
- You can’t teach an old dog new tricks
Meaning: Older people don’t change their habits easily.
- Accidents will happen in the best regulated families
Meaning: Unforeseen events can happen with anybody.
- Appearances are deceptive
Meaning: Internal truth of a person is usually different from what is visible outside.
- You scratch my back, I will scratch yours
Meaning: If you help me then I will help you in return.
- As you make your bed, so you must lie in it too
Meaning: Be prepared to face the consequences of your wrong actions.
- Once bitten, twice shy
Meaning: From experience, we learn to avoid situation causing trouble or distress.
- There is a black sheep in every family
Meaning: One member in every family doesn’t fit into the characteristic of the family.
- Think on your feet
Meaning: Adjusting quickly to changes and making fast decisions.
- Golden handshake
Meaning: Big sum of money given to a person when they leave a company or retire.
- Separate sheep from the goats
Meaning: Examining a group of people and deciding their suitability
- In the country of the blind, the one eyed man is king
Meaning: The person with a little ability in a group of those with absolutely no ability is at an advantage.
- Blood is thicker than water
Meaning: Family relationship is stronger than others.
- Two blacks don’t make a white
Meaning: You cannot justify something wrong you have done because someone else has also done it.
- First out of the gate
Meaning: Being the first one to make a start at something.
- Sink your teeth into
Meaning: Doing something with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.
- Fish out of water
Meaning: Feeling uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings.
- Bee in one’s bonnet
Meaning: Carrying an idea which constantly occupies your thoughts.
- Keep a stiff upper lip
Meaning: A person who does not show his emotions
- Proud as a peacock
Meaning: An extremely proud person.
- Makes your flesh crawl
Meaning: Something that makes you feel disgusting or nervous.
- Not turn a hair
Meaning: Not exhibiting any emotion where it is expected.
- Cake not worth the candle
Meaning: Something in which result as compared to the efforts are too less.
Look beyond the words and find the meaning hidden in these expressions in these questions.
1. There is no such thing as a free lunch
a) Things that come free are bad in quality
b) Things that are offered for free always have a hidden cost
c) A good lunch helps people work hard
d) Lunch has to be bought with money or cooked by oneself
2. There is no place like home
a) Your own home is the most comfortable place to be
b) Resorts with the name ‘Home’ are the most comfortable
c) People who are lazy like to stay at home all day long
d) Travellers have a tendency to change their dwelling frequently
3. The early bird gets the worm
a) If a bird is fast it can catch more worms
b) The person who takes the earliest opportunity to do something will gain advantage over others
c) Worm infections come easier to those individuals who consume meat without restraint
d) Birds who are captive are unable to fetch their food and hence are provided with food by their masters
4. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
a) Planning ahead is ultimately futile
b) Do not get worked up because of a single statement
c) Do not invest all your resources in a single possibility
d) Eggs tend to break if not given adequate space
5. Beggars can’t be choosers
a) Those without any options must be content with what they have
b) eggars are so poor that they cannot buy what they want
c) There is immense economic inequality existing in the world
d) Choosy people cannot lead a humble lifestyle
6. Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water
a) When you take care of your baby, be extra careful
b) Babies need to be bathed in warm water
c) Carelessness is a problem which cannot be tackled unless one becomes responsible
d) When you try to get rid of something bad, you may accidentally eliminate some good things too
7. It takes two to tango
a) A good couple dance requires both partners to be good dancers
b) All relationships have to go through a sour patch
c) Some actions need the participation of two persons
d) Children should be fed spicy food with caution
8. Cleanliness is next to godliness
a) A well dressed person with clean habits makes a good impression on others
b) You need to keep yourself clean if you want to participate in holy rituals
c) God created a clean world, we have dirtied it
d) Houses should be kept clean at all times
9. Great minds think alike
a) Smart minds often have the same idea
b) One should be mindful of his actions
c) People judge us based on our intelligence
d) Copying others is not a good trait
10. Haste makes waste
a) Waste materials can be recycled to make new products
b) When we do things too quickly, we are likely to end up with poor results
c) Wasting time now can cause hassle later on
d) Wasting is easy, making is difficult
1. b- Things that are offered for free always have a hidden cost
2. a- Your own home is the most comfortable place to be
3. b- The person who takes the earliest opportunity to do something will gain advantage over others
4. c- Do not invest all your resources in a single possibility
5. a- Those without any options must be content with what they have
6. d- When you try to get rid of something bad, you may accidentally eliminate some good things too
7. c- Some actions need the participation of two persons
8. a- A well dressed person with clean habits makes a good impression on others
9. a- Smart minds often have the same idea
10. b- When we do things too quickly, we are likely to end up with poor results