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 English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions 


Idioms relating to animals, birds, fish or insects   
from:  'close as an oyster'   to:  'loan shark'

  • close as an oyster
    • Someone who is as close as an oyster will never reveal something told in confidence or betray a secret.
      "Sophie will never repeat what you tell her. She's as close as an oyster."

  • the world is your oyster
    • This expression means that you are free and able to enjoy the pleasures and opportunities that life has to offer.
      "She left college feeling that the world was her oyster."

  • (as) proud as a peacock
    • A person who is as proud as a peacock is extremely proud.
      "When his son won first prize, Bill was as proud as a peacock."

  • make a pig of yourself
    • If you make a pig of yourself, you eat and drink too much.
      "Watch what you eat - don't make a pig of yourself!"

  • make a pig's ear of something
    • If you make a pig's ear of something, you do a task or a chore very badly or make a complete mess of it.
      "Gary offered to paint the kitchen but he made a pig's ear of it."

  • on the pig's back
    • A person who is on the pig's back is in a state of luck and everything is going well for them.
      "Before the recession, Ireland was on the pig's back, but the situation changed afterwards."

  • (put) lipstick on a pig
    • This expression means that to 'dress up' something unappealing or ugly, in a vain attempt to make it look better, is like putting lipstick on a pig.
      "Flowers on that ugly old bridge would be (like putting) lipstick on a pig!"

  • pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered
    • You should be satisfied when you have enough; if you are too greedy, like a hog, you risk losing everything.

  • pigs might fly
    • The expression 'pigs might fly' expresses disbelief, or the idea that miracles might happen but are extremely unlikely.
      "My grandmother buying a computer? ... Yeah! ... and pigs might fly!"

  • stool pigeon
    • A person who acts as an informer, especially one who gives information to the police or the authorities, is called a stool pigeon.
      "I don't trust Jack. I think he's a stool pigeon for the management."

  • shank's pony
    • If you go somewhere on Shank's pony, you have to walk rather than travel by bus, car, etc.
      "It was impossible to find a taxi after the party, so it was Shank's pony for us!"

  • play possum
    • When someone plays possum, they pretend to be dead or asleep in order to avoid something they don't want to do.
      "She's just playing possum because she doesn't want to come swimming"

  • go down a/the rabbit hole
    • If you go down the rabbit hole, you start searching for something specific and then find yourself with information that keeps leading you to more and more areas to explore.
      "“It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole when you start surfing on the Internet."

  • rat race
    • Continuous stressful competition in modern society for success, power or money, especially in business, is called the rat race.
      "Emily is sick and tired of the rat race. She's going to leave her job in a big company and work freelance."

  • rats in the attic
    • If you say that someone has rats in the attic, you mean that they are a bit mad or that their behaviour is eccentric.
      "She keeps repeating the same question. I think she's got rats in the attic."

  • like a rat up a drainpipe
    • If someone moves or runs like a rat up a drainpipe, they do it as quickly as possible.
      "When the police informer saw a friend, he took off like a rat up a drainpipe."

  • smell a rat
    • To say 'I smell a rat' means that you suspect that something is wrong, or that someone is doing something dishonest or incorrect.
      "The profits announced are abnormally low. I smell a rat."

  • packed like sardines
    • If a group of people are packed like sardines, they are pressed together tightly and uncomfortably because there is not enough space.
      "The bus was very crowded - we were packed like sardines!"

  • loan shark
    • A loan shark is an authorized person who lends money at extremely high interest rates to people who are unable to obtain a loan from the bank.
      "The young immigrant was beaten because he was late paying back money to a loan shark."

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