English is a language that is abundant with vivid sayings, phrases, and idioms. However, this can make it challenging to comprehend. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of some of the most peculiar English phrases to assist you in understanding its most intriguing expressions.
Peculiar English Idioms
To kick the bucket
In many cultures, discussing death in English can be challenging. That’s why we have several euphemisms that refer to death or dying. ‘To kick the bucket’ is an informal and sometimes crude way of saying ‘to die.’
Example: My grandfather always said he wanted to travel the world before he kicked the bucket.
What’s that got to do with the price of onions?
‘What’s that got to do with the price of…?’ is a common English expression used to respond to a statement that is not consistent with the general conversation. The phrase has many variations, including the ‘price of fish,’ ‘price of cheese,’ or the ‘price of tea in China.’
Examples: I’m thinking about getting a new tattoo. – What’s that got to do with the price of cheese?
To drop the ball
To ‘drop the ball’ means to make an error, usually by doing something foolish or careless.
Example: I can’t believe I forgot to bring the tickets, I really dropped the ball on this one.
A different kettle of fish
To say something is a ‘different kettle of fish’ means that something is very different from the subject being discussed.
Example: Going on vacation is one thing, but planning and organizing it is a whole different kettle of fish.
Happy as a pig in muck
Saying you’re ‘as happy as a pig in muck’ means that you are extremely happy and content. The phrase also conveys that you are in your favorite place or particularly comfortable.
Example: When I’m at home reading a good book, I’m as happy as a pig in muck.
Barking up the wrong tree
‘Barking up the wrong tree’ is an English phrase used to suggest an incorrect conclusion. The phrase relates to when dogs mistakenly believe their prey has gone up a tree when it has actually flown away.
Example: If you think I’m responsible for breaking the vase, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
A chip on your shoulder
Having ‘a chip on your shoulder’ generally means that you are holding a grudge against someone, causing you to be in a bad mood. Similarly, the phrase can also mean that someone is entitled or arrogant.
Example: Ever since she didn’t get that promotion, she’s had such a chip on her shoulder.
Born with a silver spoon in your mouth
In English, the term ‘silver spoon’ is used to describe someone who was born into wealth. The phrase is often used to say that the person does not deserve their inherited privilege.
Example: She never had to work a day in her life; she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth.
Wild goose chase
Saying something is a ‘wild goose chase’ describes a futile search or pursuit of something unattainable.
Example: I’ve been on a wild goose chase all day trying to find those limited edition sneakers.
Let the cat out of the pag
To ‘let the cat out of the bag’ means to reveal a secret, either intentionally or unintentionally.
Example: I didn’t mean to let the cat out of the bag about your promotion; it just slipped out.
The greatest thing since sliced bread
‘The greatest thing since sliced bread’ is an idiom that means something is an especially innovative or useful invention. Although sliced bread was invented in 1928, the phrase was not used in written language until the 1950s.
Example: This new app that helps organize my schedule is the best thing since sliced bread.
Walking on eggshells
An eggshell is the fragile outer part of an egg that breaks easily. To say you are ‘walking on eggshells’ means that you are being very careful not to offend anyone, usually because of a delicate or sensitive social situation.
Example: My boss has been really stressed lately; I feel like I’m walking on eggshells around him.