David W. Miller firstname.lastname@example.orgLearn English Idioms II
These idioms deal with animals in some way. I am using a broad meaning of the word ‘animals’ because birds, fish, andinsects are also included. Perhaps non-humans is a better category for these idioms. Non-humans doesn’t work that well on aposter.
A bird in hand is better than two in the bush
The phrase ‘a bird in hand is better than two in the bush’ means that something you have now is better than something thatmay or not be better later. A sure thing now is better than something hoped for later.Example: The prince gave me 10 pieces of gold. The king, however, has promised to give me 50 pieces of gold if I will wait amonth. A bird in hand is better than two in the bush. I’ll take the 10 pieces of gold now.Frequency of usage: often
A dog is a man's best friend
This phrase means that even when friends and loved ones fail you, a dog will always be loyal to you. It is usually stated after adog does something to warrant praise from its master. It can be said by the owner or someone observing the dog.Example: That dog pulled the child out of the frozen ice. It just goes to prove that a dog is a man’s best friend.Frequency of usage: often
A fox smells his own hole
In a broad sense, this phrase means that a person may know precisely what happened during a particular incident becausehe’s the guilty one. This phrase is occasionally crude as it could refer to someone noticing the smell of a fart. If he smells itfirst, someone might accuse him of being the person who actually ‘passed gas.’Example: It was very interesting to know that Charles knew every detail about the incident and still maintains that he isinnocent. I say, a fox smells his own hole.Frequency of usage: sometimes
A little bird told me
This phrase means that (jokingly) someone anonymously revealed some information that was secret. It is often an answer tothe question, ‘who told you about that?’ A little bird told me. You might also hear ‘birdie.’ It is playful because often the personrevealing the secret is known to the person asking the question.Example: I heard that you’re going on vacation soon. ‘Who told you?’ Oh, a little birdie told me. ‘What else did that little birdietell you?’Frequency of usage: frequently
A monkey on your back
‘A monkey on your back’ is an unnecessary burden you are carrying. You can’t seem to get it off of you. Even if you shake it, itwill remain on your back. Normally, you will have to solve a problem for the monkey to be ‘shaken free.’Example: I think I finally got this monkey off my back. I’ve got a steady job now.Frequency of usage: rarely
A pig in a poke
A poke is a bag. Many years ago, baby pigs were sold on an open market. If you received a ‘pig in a poke’ you were receivinga pig that you knew nothing about. It might be a very healthy pig, but because it was in a poke, you had no way of verifying itshealth or condition. Today, you do not want to buy something that you have not first checked.Example: Before you buy that car, you’d better take a look at it first. It’s not very wise to buy a pig in a poke.Frequency of usage: sometimes
All bark and no bite
This phrase means that a person is all talk and very little action to followup the talk. He mostly makes a lot of noise and isharmless. He sounds like he might harm you or your ideas but in the end he will not hurt you.