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Practice Using Idioms In Essay

41 Idioms for Speech Therapy Practice

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Take the Confusion out of Teaching Multiple Meaning Words

SEE ALSO: 8 Activities for Using Multi-syllabic Words


  1. "Butterflies in my stomach.”
    I’m nervous.

  2. It’s raining cats and dogs.
    It’s raining really hard.

  3. You’re a couch potato.
    You’re lazy.

  4. They’re a dime a dozen.
    They are common, inexpensive, and you can get them anywhere.

  5. Don’t add insult to injury.
    Don’t make it worse than it already is. Don’t mock and make someone feel worse than he already does.

  6. I’m all ears.
    I’m listening intently or waiting to hear what you have to say.

  7. I’m all thumbs.
    I’m clumsy or awkward. I can’t do small things with my hands.

  8. You are barking up the wrong tree.
    You are looking in the wrong place or asking the wrong person.

  9. I’m a basket case.
    I can’t do anything because I’m stressed out or panicked. I’m going crazy.

  10. At the drop of a hat."
    Do something instantly.

  11. Beat around the bush.
    Talk about something, but never get to the main point. Hint at a  topic or avoid a topic that you don’t want to talk about.

  12. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
    Don’t take on more than you can handle.

  13. "Bite the bullet.
    Endure a bad situation or get it over with. It’s something that has to be done, so just do it.

  14. "Break a leg.”
    A saying that actors say to each other to mean “good luck.”

  15. “Quit busting my chops.”
    Stop getting after me, scolding me, or harassing me.

  16. “By the seat of your pants.”
    To do something luckily by instinct or without a lot of preparation.

  17. “By the skin of your teeth.”
    You just barely missed that, usually talking about narrowly escaping a bad thing.

  18. “Call it a day.”
    That’s the end of something. We are all done for today.

  19. “Cat nap.”
    A short rest or sleep.

  20. “Clam up.”
    To stop talking.  Suddenly quiet, shy, or scared.

  21. “Cold shoulder.”
    Be rude to someone or ignore/not talk to them.

  22. “Have a cow.”
    Overreact, make a big deal out of something small.

  23. “Fit as a fiddle.”
    Feeling good, nothing wrong, in good shape.

  24. “Make it from scratch.”
    Homemade, make something from original ingredients.

  25. “Get bent out of shape.”
    To get offended, worked up, mad, annoyed, or hurt over something.

  26. “Have a blast.”
    To have a really good time, enjoy yourself.

  27. “Eyes in the back of your head.”
    You can see everything, even things you are not looking at.

  28. “Hit the road.”
    To leave, or get on your way.

  29. “Hit the sack, hit the hay.”
    To go to bed.

  30. “Let the cat out of the bag.”
    Reveal a secret.

  31. “Spill the beans.”
    Tell someone’s secret.

  32. “Off your rocker.”
    You are crazy, out of your mind, or confused.

  33. “Off the hook.”
    You are not responsible, obligated, or blamed for something.

  34. “Piece of cake.”
    It’s an easy or simple thing/job to do.

  35. “Pull your leg.”
    To tease or joke with someone by telling them something false.

  36. “Right as rain.”
    Someone or something is perfect or absolutely right.

  37. “Shoot the breeze.”
    Talk about unimportant things or sit and chat.

  38. “Take the cake.”
    To be really good or outstanding at something.

  39. “Through thick and thin.”
    Through good and bad times.

  40. “Under the weather.”
    Not feeling well, sick.

  41. “You can say that again.”
    I strongly agree with you. That is a true statement.

Articulation Therapy + Pirate Adventures = Awesomeness!

This list of functional words was professionally selected to be the most useful for a child or adult who has difficulty with idioms.

We encourage you to use this list when practicing idioms at home.

Home practice will make progress toward meeting individual language goals much faster.

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) are only able to see students/clients 30-60 mins (or less) per week. This is not enough time or practice for someone to strengthen their understanding of idioms.

Every day that your loved one goes without practice it becomes more difficult to help them. 

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We know life is busy, but if you're reading this you're probably someone who cares about helping their loved one as much as you can.

Practice 5-10 minutes whenever you can, but try to do it on a consistent basis (daily).

Please, please, please use this list to practice.

It will be a great benefit to you and your loved one's progress.

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Homepage > Word Lists > Idioms

Teaching Idioms? I know I’m preaching to the choir when I say that idioms are more fun than a barrel of monkeys. There is a boatload of idioms at GoEnglish. Beyond going over the literal meaning of such phrases as, “It’s raining cats and dogs,” there are many other out-of-this-world things to try. They are the cat’s pajamas, so give them a whirl!



The picture above shows how much fun this can be. Here are some others that might be fun to draw:
  • Give me a hand
  • Hit the books
  • Keep an eye on you
  • You’re pulling my leg
  • Cat’s got your tongue
  • Zip your lip
  • Cold turkey
  • Wear your heart on your sleeve
  • In the doghouse
  • When pigs fly
  • Put your foot in your mouth
  • On pins and needles
  • I’ll be there with bells on
  • Bite off more than you can chew
  • Toss your cookies

Act them out
This is probably easiest to do in small groups. Assign each group an idiom and have them act it out for the rest of the class to guess. Some that will probably work well include:

  • All in the same boat
  • Barking up the wrong tree
  • Birds of a feather flock together
  • Crying over spilt milk
  • Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched
  • It takes two to tango
  • Let the cat out of the bag
  • Out of the frying pan and into the fire
  • Out on a limb
  • Preaching to the choir
  • Rub salt in your wound
  • The straw that broke the camel’s back

Use them as writing prompts
A phrase such as, “a fool and his money are soon parted” could inspire a great story. “Every cloud has a silver lining” could inspire an essay on finding something good in an otherwise bad situation. “In the heat of the moment” could be the theme behind a story about doing something foolish – or perhaps brave.

Use them as discussion starters
“You can’t judge a book by it’s cover” could be the start of a discussion about false first impressions, unfairly judging, or racism. “Rome wasn’t built in a day” could start a discussion about persistence. You could have all kinds of interesting discussions around “the ends justify the means.”

Write an idiom story
Challenge your students to write a story using as many idioms as they can. They will probably want to use a lot of dialogue, so this is a great way to practice using quotations properly. It would probably help to have a large list of common idioms available.

Create an idiom challenge
Over a period of days, see how many idioms your class can come up with related to a specific subject.  Students could write them on a large piece of butcher paper on the wall as they come up with them throughout the week. Some ideas are:

  • animal idioms
  • food idioms
  • weather idioms
  • location idioms
  • idioms that mention parts of the body

Go a little deeper
Where exactly did the idiom “to cry wolf” come from? Do your students know the story of The Boy who Cried Wolf? How about “curiosity killed the cat?” Why a cat instead of some other animal? “Raising Cain” must have biblical roots. An idiom could be the start of a great research project!

Create your own
What else, besides cats and dogs, could it be raining? Fish and chips? Lizards and snakes? Water balloons and superballs? That’s the way the…cookie crumbles, ball bounces, soda bubbles? Leaves fall? Carrot crunches? It’ll cost you…an arm and a leg, a finger and four toes? An ear and a bad haircut?

More Idiom Resources
Each of these Idiom Task Cards presents a different idiom and three choices for what that idiom means. Perfect for test prep, ESL students, and Common Core Standards L.4.5 and L.5.5. Available individually or as part of a three set bundle.

Image provided by Fourth Grade Flipper

These task cards require students to demonstrate their understanding of different types of figurative language (including idioms) by writing their own. Great for literacy centers and fast finishers.

These printables provide definitions and examples of various types of figurative language, along with opportunities for practice. They are also aligned with Common Core for grades 3-6.

Picture Credit: SeamlessIntegration

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