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Understanding English Idioms

19th July 2017

Idioms, we English speakers love them! They have the ability to perfectly sum up our thoughts or feelings on any giving topic. They can be described as a group of words which have a meaning which isn’t obvious from looking at the individual words. They also often rely on analogies and metaphors which may not be obvious if English is not your first language. So we thought we would highlight a few you may encounter when you hit English speaking soil.

Sit tight- Don't worry, if anyone tells you to sit tight it does not mean that they are asking you to sit down while squeezing your body in a tight and uncomfortable way! They are just asking you to relax and wait until you can be accommodated. 

Ex: The teller asked Laila to sit tight for her manager as she was with another employee.

Costs an arm and a leg – If it cost an arm and a leg, it’s because it is expensive. Like, really expensive. 

Ex: Jim loves that house but it would cost him an arm and a leg to buy.

Face the music- Please don't feel the need to face your music speakers when you hear this sentence. It simply means to “face reality” or to deal with the reality of a situation.

Ex: Jaimie will have to face the music for skipping class.

Break a leg – Break a leg actually means good luck! So next time you hear your teacher say break a leg on the exam they don’t actually want any physical harm to befall you. On the contrary, they want you to do well!

Ex: My dad told me to break a leg at my football match.

Hit the books – If you will be attending our school in Cambridge you will probably be hearing this sentence a lot. Upon hearing it, do not run back to your residence and begin physically assaulting your school books! Hitting the books actually means to study. But feel free to toss a book across the room when your homework is getting a bit too frustrating. We understand!

Ex: The teacher told us to hit the book as the final is going to be a hard one.

When pigs fly – No, we don’t think that pigs can actually fly. This idiom refers to an event or action that will never happen... Like fat little pink mammals soaring towards the sun!

Ex: Pigs will have to fly before you pass an exam without studying properly.

Sitting on the fence- When you cannot make a decision, don’t sit on the fence. Make a well-informed decision and choose a side.

Ex: Not sure why he is sitting on the fence on this issue, it’s very frustrating for everyone involved.


So when a conversation takes an odd turn and confusion reigns please take note that you may have encountered another one of our idioms. We will continue to share some of our favourites as it tickles us pink to do so! 

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