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Animal Idioms

Animal Idioms

Date: Oct 05 2007

Topic: Idioms and Slang

Author: rhyme_reason


If you have an idea that has become an obsession, you have a 'bee in your bonnet'.
  • He's got a bee in his bonnet about politically correct language.
  • She's got a bee in her bonnet about recycling.
When somebody loses a boyfriend or girlfriend, we can tell them that there are lots more possible candidates with an expression about fish:
  • There are plenty more fish in the sea.
  • There are other fish in the sea.
If you disclose a secret, you 'let the cat out of the bag'.
  • The President's visit was supposed to be confidential but somebody must have let the cat out of the bag.
  • He thought she knew the secret and so he told her and let the cat out of the bag.
If you are in an environment or doing an activity where you know nothing, you are 'like a fish out of water'.
  • When they started talking about nuclear physics I felt like a fish out of water.
  • I couldn't understand anything I read or heard in Tokyo and I was a real fish out of water.
If there is a difficult situation but you take action to confront it you are taking 'the bull by the horns'.
  • I decided to take the bull by the horns and go in and ask for a raise.
  • If he's not doing his job, you are going to have to take the bull by the horns and tell him.
If somebody is very restless, they have 'ants in their pants' (often shortened in US English to 'antsy'.)
  • He can't keep still. He's got ants in his pants.
  • The long wait made the children antsy.
A member of a family or other group who is embarrassing, undesirable or disreputable is called a 'black sheep'.
  • I was always considered the black sheep of my family because I was a socialist.
  • My uncle went to prison and is considered the black sheep of the family.
'Until/till the cows come home' means 'for a very long time'.
  • They could argue until the cows come home and still not reach an agreement.
  • "I could dance with you till the cows come home. Better still, I'll dance with the cows and you come home." (Groucho Marx)
In British English, for a very small space we can say that :
  • There is no room to swing a cat.
(A cat was an old form of whip – not the animal!)If you behave stupidly, carelessly or in a very casual manner, you 'monkey around'.
  • Stop monkeying around and get on with some work!
  • Who has been monkeying around with this machine?
If you are very suspicious about something, you 'smell a rat'.
  • They said they will honor the contract but I smell a rat.
  • He said he was qualified but I smelled a rat, checked up on him and found out that he wasn't.
If something 'goes to the dogs', it is in a bad state or even ruined.
  • Since he took over as chairman, the company has gone to the dogs.
  • This part of town has really gone to the dogs in the last few years.
If you search for something which is futile, pointless or unattainable, you are on a 'wild-goose chase'.
  • He sent us on a wild-goose chase for a book that isn't being published until next year.
  • She sent us on a wild-goose chase looking for their beach house.
A small sum of money (perhaps just comparatively small) can be called 'chicken feed'.
  • The salary they were offering was chicken feed compared to what I could earn as a consultant.
  • You can only make chicken feed profits teaching English on the Internet.
If money will prevent poverty, it will 'keep the wolf from the door'.
  • The salary won't allow me to buy very much but it should keep the wolf from the door.
  • We need to get in some immediate income to keep the wolf from the door.
Sometimes when you lose patience with something, it is something very minor which causes this, even though you didn't lose patience when there were other more serious problems earlier. This is the 'straw that broke the camel's back'.
  • I know it wasn't a major problem but it was the straw that broke the camel's back as far as I was concerned.
  • When they told me I had to work on Christmas Day, it was the straw that broke the camel's back and I left.
If somewhere is very dirty or untidy, we can say it is a 'pigsty'.
  • This room looks like a pigsty.
  • The factory was like a pigsty with materials everywhere.
If you quarrel all the time with somebody, you ' fight like cat and dog' .
  • They fought like cat and dog over the decision.
  • They can't work together. They fight like cat and dog.
The best or greatest thing is 'the cat's whiskers'.
  • Now he has been promoted, he thinks he's the cat's whiskers.
  • Don't start thinking you are the cat's whiskers because you are not.
If you are very nervous or uneasy, there are a couple of expression using 'cat'.
  • He's like a cat on a hot tin roof.
  • She's like a cat on hot bricks.
If you look dirty, messy or bedraggled, you 'look like something the cat brought/dragged in'.
  • Tidy yourself up. You look like something the cat brought in.
  • He turned up looking like something the cat dragged in.
If you have absolutely no chance, you have a 'cat in hell's chance'.
  • We have a cat in hell's chance of getting the contract.
  • He has a cat in hell's chance of going out with her.
If you are being teased cruelly by someone without knowing exactly what their intentions are, they are 'playing cat and mouse' with you.
  • They are playing cat and mouse with us about renewing the contract.
  • I don't have any time for these cat and mouse games.
When you do something, often suddenly, that is generally disturbing or upsetting, you 'put the cat among the pigeons'.
  • The announcement of the takeover by Glazer has really put the cat among the pigeons.
  • We need to find a way to put the cat among the pigeons and shake them up a bit.


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United Arab Emirates

Useful lesson … Thanks a lot …. : > )

06:56 PM Dec 28 2008 |





01:57 PM Dec 28 2008 |

janneth patricia vinasco



10:34 PM Oct 18 2008 |



thx u for effor and info

11:01 PM Oct 16 2008 |




thanks a lot that was awesome!

04:20 PM Mar 06 2008 |





06:05 AM Feb 06 2008 |

Hoki Doki

Hoki Doki


awsome staffs i liked it!!

03:51 PM Feb 05 2008 |



thanks for the info

08:05 AM Feb 05 2008 |




good stuff, very impressive, thank you

05:57 AM Feb 05 2008 |

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