The English component of many competitive tests, including the SSC, RRB, Bank, and other government exams, heavily relies on idioms and phrases. If candidates are familiar with key idioms and phrases and their definitions and English speech topics, they can easily score highly in the English section.
Students must thoroughly master the idioms and phrases if they plan to take any of the aforementioned government exams. These exams consist of four to five questions covering significant idioms and phrases, and naturally, given the intense competition, nobody can afford to lose even a single mark.
In this article, students can find the 50 most frequently asked idioms & phrases in exams. Students can also download the Idioms & Phrases pdf containing 50 important idioms & phrases with definitions.
List of 50 Essential Idioms And Phrases
Students can review the list of idioms and phrases below. These are the words and phrases that show up on a lot of competitive tests and can help you better learn grammar. If students want to breeze through the English section, they can download the PDF to learn more idioms and phrases by heart.
|A piece of cake
|Something very easy to do
|The math test was a piece of cake.
|Bite the bullet
|To endure a painful experience with courage
|I had to bite the bullet and tell my boss I was resigning.
|Break a leg
|Before the performance, the director told the actors to break a leg.
|Hit the nail on the head
|To describe exactly what is causing a situation or problem
|You really hit the nail on the head with that analysis.
|Burn the midnight oil
|To work late into the night
|I had to burn the midnight oil to finish the report.
|Cost an arm and a leg
|Buying a new car can cost an arm and a leg.
|Cry over spilled milk
|To lament what cannot be undone
|I made a mistake, but there’s no use crying over spilled milk.
|Cut to the chase
|Get to the point
|Let’s cut to the chase and discuss the main issue.
|Don’t count your chickens before they hatch
|Don’t make plans for something that might not happen
|She’s already planning her vacation, but she hasn’t been approved for leave yet. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
|Fish out of water
|Someone who is out of their element
|At the fancy party, he felt like a fish out of water.
|A talent for gardening
|My grandmother has a green thumb; her garden is always flourishing.
|Head in the clouds
|Someone who is not paying attention
|John always has his head in the clouds during math class.
|Jump on the bandwagon
|To adopt a popular activity or trend
|After seeing the success, many companies decided to jump on the bandwagon and create their own version of the product.
|Kick the bucket
|He’s not going to kick the bucket anytime soon; he’s in good health.
|Let the cat out of the bag
|To reveal a secret
|Sarah accidentally let the cat out of the bag about the surprise party.
|Miss the boat
|To miss an opportunity
|I missed the boat on getting tickets to the concert; they sold out in minutes.
|On the ball
|Someone who is alert and quick to understand
|The new employee is really on the ball; she learned the job in record time.
|Out of the blue
|He called me out of the blue to invite me to the wedding.
|Put all your eggs in one basket
|To invest everything in one plan
|Diversify your investments; don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
|Rain cats and dogs
|We had to cancel the picnic because it started raining cats and dogs.
|Spill the beans
|To disclose a secret
|I won’t spill the beans about the surprise party; I promise.
|Take the bull by the horns
|To face a problem directly
|Instead of avoiding the issue, she decided to take the bull by the horns and address it.
|Under the weather
|I can’t come to work today; I’m feeling a bit under the weather.
|Wild goose chase
|A futile pursuit
|Searching for his lost keys in the park turned into a wild goose chase.
|X marks the spot
|The exact location
|We finally found the treasure; X marks the spot on the map.
|You can’t have your cake and eat it too
|You can’t have everything
|If you spend all your money on clothes, you won’t have any left for entertainment. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
|Zip your lip
|The teacher told the students to zip their lips during the exam.
|A dime a dozen
|Those souvenirs are a dime a dozen; you can find them anywhere.
|Back to the drawing board
|To start over
|The project didn’t work out, so it’s back to the drawing board.
|Nervous or hesitant
|He got cold feet and decided not to go through with the plan.
|Don’t cry over spilled milk
|Don’t waste time worrying about things that have already happened and cannot be changed.
|Yes, you made a mistake, but don’t cry over spilled milk. Learn from it and move on.
|Elephant in the room
|An obvious problem that people are avoiding
|The financial issues were the elephant in the room during the family meeting.
|Feather in one’s cap
|An achievement to be proud of
|Winning the championship was a feather in his cap.
|Get the ball rolling
|To start a process
|Let’s get the ball rolling on this project; we’ve wasted enough time.
|Hit the hay
|To go to bed
|I’m tired; I think it’s time to hit the hay.
|In hot water
|He found himself in hot water after missing the deadline.
|Jumping on the bandwagon
|Joining others in doing something popular or trendy
|Many companies are jumping on the bandwagon and incorporating sustainable practices.
|Kill two birds with one stone
|Accomplish two things with a single action
|By working from home, she could kill two birds with one stone—save time on commuting and spend more time with her family.
|Leave no stone unturned
|Examine every possible option
|The detective promised to leave no stone unturned in the investigation.
|Make a long story short
|Summarize a lengthy explanation
|To make a long story short, we missed the train and had to take a taxi to the airport.
|Nip it in the bud
|Stop a problem at an early stage
|When you notice a conflict arising, it’s best to nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand.
|Out of the frying pan and into the fire
|Escaping one problem, only to find yourself in another
|I thought changing jobs would solve my stress, but it was like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.
|Play it by ear
|Handle a situation without a definite plan
|We don’t have a schedule; let’s just play it by ear and see where the day takes us.
|Quick as a cat
|Very fast or agile
|The new sports car can accelerate as quickly as a cat.
|We had to postpone the outdoor event because it was raining buckets.
|See the light at the end of the tunnel
|To see signs of improvement or the end of a difficult situation
|After months of hard work, I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel with this project.
|The ball is in your court
|It’s your turn to make a decision or take action
|I’ve given you all the information; now the ball is in your court.
|Up in the air
|Uncertain or undecided
|The date for the meeting is still up in the air; we need to confirm everyone’s availability.
|To relax or do nothing
|After a busy week, I just want to veg out on the couch and watch movies.
|When pigs fly
|Something that will never happen
|If I ever voluntarily go skydiving, you can expect me to do so when pigs fly.
Although they can be difficult for pupils to master, idioms and phrases are an important component of the English language. This extensive PDF offers samples of 50 typical idioms and phrases used in everyday discourse, along with a clear and succinct explanation of each one. Students who use this resource will be able to become proficient in these expressions and idioms and be able to write and speak with confidence.