Animals – English idioms and sayings

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Someone who is a coward.
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1. chicken 2. chicken livered
What?! You're afraid of ghosts?! I can't believe you're such a chicken.
Having something for certain is better than the possibility of getting something better.
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A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
I didn't want to sell the house so cheap, but there was only one buyer and, after all, a bird in hand is better than two in the bush.
Something that is completly different from something else that has been talked about.
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a different kettle of fish
We can talk about children too, but it's a different kettle of fish, so first let's talk about work.
An elevated view of an object from above, with a perspective as though the observer were a bird.
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bird's eye view
It would be fun to see our city from the bird's eye view.
People who have similar characters or similar interests will often choose to spend time together.
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Birds of a feather flock together.
They have very much in common and they get on very well. Birds of a feather flock together.
Short sleep, during the day.
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cat nap
I like taking cat naps in the afternoon.
When someone thinks he is the cat's whiskers they think they're better than everyone else.
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cat's whiskers
She always thought that she were the cat's whiskers but she was nothing special.
Someone who doesn't show their feelings.
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cold fish
She wouldn't be a good actress, she's a real cold fish.
Someone who is part of a group but is different and often disliked, or a problem that grows quickly and crowds out everything else.
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cuckoo in the nest
This new manager proved to be just a cuckoo in the nest.
A person who is secretive and often does something surprising.
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dark horse
He was a dark horse, nobody believed he would win the election, but now he is our president.
A failure.
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dead duck
We shouldn't have taken this credit, it was a dead duck.
If something is dog-eared, it is in bad condition.
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I've told you a hundred times, don't wear this trousers they're dog-eared.
Sometimes all you need to succeed is luck.
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Even a blind squirrel can find a nut once in a while.
I didn't think she was that clever! But on the other hand, even a blind squirrel can find a nut once in a while.
Someone who is very rich and powerful.
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fat cat
Look at that girl, her mother is a fat cat in this city.
It's said when someone is very quiet.
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Has the cat got your tongue?
Why don't you say anything, has the cat got your tongue?
It's raining very heavily.
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It's raining cats and dogs!
You are thoroughly wet! Anyway, it's not surprising it's raining cats and dogs.
We say it when we are not pleased with somebody's arrival.
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Look what the cat dragged in!
Look what the cat dragged in! That wasn't the best timing.
Used to describe a place that is very small.
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not enough room to swing a cat
This place isn't very spacious, in fact, there's not enough room to swing a cat.
Someone who is frightened for no reason.
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Instead of calling someone a chicken you can call them a scaredy-cat.
A long joke or story with a silly ending.
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shaggy dog story
I love telling shaggy dog stories, but people seldom laugh at them.
If you do something in a timely manner you will succeed.
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The early bird catches the worm.
I don't like getting up early, but I force myself to do it. I remember that the early bird catches the worm.
Something everyone knows about but no one talks about.
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the elephant in the room
That fact that he was sacked from his job was the elephant in the room.
When a usually meek person or group of people becomes angry.
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The worm has turned.
When the government introduced taxes for students the worm has turned and young people hit the streets.
To pester someone into doing something.
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to badger someone
Stop badgering me, I won't smoke a cigarette!
To be sneakily clever.
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to be as sly as a fox
My mother is as sly as a fox, she can always talk me into things I didn't, at first, intend to do.
To be exhausted.
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to be dog tired
I'm always dog tired after running.
To be in a bad mood.
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to be like a bear with a sore head
When I don't get enough sleep I'm like a bear with sore head.
To be clumsy.
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to be like a bull in a china shop
Please, be careful! You're like a bull in a china shop.
To be nervous and unable to keep still.
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to be like a cat on a hot tin roof
You are like a cat on hot tin roof, don't worry so much.
To be very happy.
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to be like a dog with two tails
He was like a dog with two tails when he was promoted.
To be so frightened or surprised that you cannot move or think.
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to be like a rabbit in the headlights
Every time I have to answer the teacher's question I'm like a rabbit in the headlights.
To have ideas or plans that are completely unrealistic.
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to be living in cloud cuckoo land
I hate when my father talks about buying a house in the country! I think he's living in cloud cuckoo land.
To raise a false alarm about something.
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to cry wolf
Don't cry wolf, this snake is harmless.
To eat a lot.
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to eat like a horse
I eat very little, but my brother... he eats like a horse.
To upset someone.
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to get someone's goat
Noisy neighbours really get my goat.
To become associated with something powerful and potentially dangerous.
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to grab a tiger by the tail
Don't tease him, he's much stronger than you, you'll grab a tiger by the tail.
To be unable to keep still because you are very excited or worried about something.
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to have ants in one's pants
Can you sit still for a moment? You look as if you had ants in your pants.
To hear something interesting from someone actually involved.
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to hear something straight from the horse's mouth
They are going to raise taxes, I've heard it straight from the horse's mouth, I spoke to prime minister.
To solve two problems with a single action.
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to kill two birds with one stone
When I go to visit John I can also come by my grandmother and kill to birds with one stone.
To reveal a secret.
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to let the cat out of the bag
I knew, you are going to organize a surprise party for me, John let the cat out of the bag.
To look very pleased and a bit smug about something.
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to look like the cat that got the cream
Let me guess! You've passed the test? You look like the cat that got the cream.
To do something that exposes a very difficult issue or set of problems.
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to open a can of worms
Don't mention politics, if you do you'll open a can of worms.
To surprise everyone by suddenly doing or saying something clever.
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to pull a rabbit out of the hat
His story seemed to have no sense at all and then he pulled a rabbit out of the hat and everything became clear.
To cause trouble.
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to put a cat among the pigeons
Think twice before you tell them anything, you'd better not put a cat among pigeons.
To speak frankly and openly.
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to talk turkey
John wanted to talk turkey, but Jane just wanted to joke around.

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