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 English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions 


Idioms relating to animals, birds, fish or insects   
from:  'big fish in a small pond'   to:  'take a gander'

  • (a) big fish in a small pond
    • This term refers to an important or highly-ranked person in a small group or organisation.
      "He could get a job with a big company but he enjoys being a big fish in a small pond."

  • a different kettle of fish
    • To describe a person, thing or situation as a different kettle of fish means that it is completely different from what has just been mentioned, or another matter entirely.
      "You may have good business relations with people there, but actually living in the country is a different kettle of fish."

  • drink like a fish
    • A person who drinks like a fish is one who drinks a lot.
      "I'm nervous if Ben drives when we go out because he drinks like a fish!"

  • neither fish nor fowl
    • This expression is used to describe people or things that are difficult to classify, that are neither one thing nor another.
      "Medical interns are neither fish nor fowl. They are neither students nor fully qualified practitioners."

  • other fish to fry
    • A person who has other fish to fry has more important things to do.
      "I don't think he'll attend the office party; he's got other fish to fry."

  • other fish in the sea
    • To say that there are other fish in the sea means that there are many people just as good or as interesting as the person mentioned.
      "The candidate we selected refused the job? Never mind - there are (plenty of) other fish in the sea!"

  • sounds/smells fishy
    • If something sounds or smells fishy, you are suspicious about it.
      "Do you believe what she said? Her story sounds fishy to me."

  • happy as a flea in a doghouse
    • If someone is (as) happy as a flea in a doghouse, they are very happy and contented.
      "Since she moved to a smaller apartment, my mother is as happy as a flea in a doghouse!"

  • (be sent away with) a flea in your ear
    • If you are sent away with a flea in your ear, you are angrily reprimanded or rebuked for something you have done and told to go away.
      "When Andy tried to put the blame on Pete, he was sent away with a flea in his ear."

  • (a) fly in the ointment
    • A fly in the ointment refers to a drawback, something that prevents a situation from being completely satisfactory.
      "Tony's poor English was a fly in the ointment when he applied for the job."

  • (a) fly on the wall
    • A person who watches a situation without being noticed is called a fly on the wall.
      "I'd like to be a fly on the wall when the management discusses my project."

  • (a) bar fly
    • A bar fly is someone who spends a lot of time drinking in bars and pubs.
      "You'll find Johnny down at the pub - he's a real bar fly."

  • (wouldn't) hurt a fly
    • The expression wouldn’t hurt a fly is used to describe a person who is so gentle and non-violent that they wouldn’t harm anyone, not even an insect.
      "The man you’re accusing is a peaceful non-aggressive person. He wouldn’t hurt a fly!"

  • catch flies
    • To say that someone is ‘catching flies’ is a colloquial way of describing someone who has their mouth wide open for some time, either asleep or staring in astonishment at something.
      "The children stared in amazement, catching flies while they observed the insects under the microscope."

  • sly as a fox
    • Someone who is as sly as a fox is cunning and clever at getting what they want, especially by deceiving or tricking people.
      "Be wary of that insurance salesman. He's as sly as a fox."

  • eat the frog / eat that frog
    • The expression ‘eat the frog’ or ‘eat that frog’ is used as encouragement to begin the day with the most difficult or unpleasant task, the one ranking highest on your hate list, rather than avoid or postpone it. In that way nothing worse can happen all day.
      Original expression: “If you have to eat a frog, don’t look at it for too long.”
      "Making an inventory of unsold products is not going to be much fun, so let’s just eat the frog and get it over with!”

  • (have a) frog in one's throat
    • A person who has a frog in their throat has difficulty in speaking clearly because they have a cough or a sore throat.
      "Teaching was difficult today.I had a frog in my throat all morning."

  • juggle frogs
    • A person who is juggling frogs is trying to deal with many different tasks at the tame time and finding the situation difficult.
      "I've got so many things to do at the moment, I feel like I'm juggling frogs!"

  • take/have a gander
    • If you take or have a gander at something, generally new or unusual, you have a look at it or go to check it out.
      "Let's take a gander at the new shopping centre. Sally says it's fantastic!"

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