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Оқушы: Таурбекова Аяулым Аслановна
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Өзектілігі: Кез келген ұлттың идиомасында адам даналығы, рухы мен тәжірибесі жинақталған. Сондықтан, фразеологизмдерді білу, тілді үйрену ғана емес, сонымен қатар әдеттер мен салт — дәстүр, дүниетаным мен адамдардың көзқарас жолдарын жақсы түсінуге, ойлау тәсілін дамытуға көмектеседі.
Мақсаты: Зерттеу және ағылшын тілі фразеологиясын талдау, сондай — ақ фразеология теориясының негізгі түсініктерін жүйелеу, шетел тілін жақсы түсінуге ықпал ету. Оқушылардың идиомалық өрнектерді пайдалану құндылығын анықтау.
Міндеттері: 1. Фразеологизмдердің мәнін зерттеу
2. Әр түрлі тақырыптар бойынша фразеологизмдердің жіктелуін анықтау.
3. Оқушылардың идиомаларды пайдалануға назарын аудару.
4. Зерттелген материалды жүйелеу Өзектілігі: Кез келген ұлттың идиомасында адам даналығы, рухы мен тәжірибесі жинақталған. Сондықтан, фразеологизмдерді білу, тілді үйрену ғана емес, сонымен қатар әдеттер мен салт — дәстүр, дүниетаным мен адамдардың көзқарас жолдарын жақсы түсінуге, ойлау тәсілін дамытуға көмектеседі.
Мақсаты: Зерттеу және ағылшын тілі фразеологиясын талдау, сондай — ақ фразеология теориясының негізгі түсініктерін жүйелеу, шетел тілін жақсы түсінуге ықпал ету. Оқушылардың идиомалық өрнектерді пайдалану құндылығын анықтау.
Міндеттері: 1. Фразеологизмдердің мәнін зерттеу
2. Әр түрлі тақырыптар бойынша фразеологизмдердің жіктелуін анықтау.
3. Оқушылардың идиомаларды пайдалануға назарын аудару.
4. Зерттелген материалды жүйелеу және жіктеу


1. Introduction

а) The aim of research work

b) History of the development of phraseology

c) The hypothesis

2. Main body

a) The definition of the term “idiom”

b) The origin of the word “idiom”

c) The Structure of Idioms

d) Idioms groups

3. Conclusion

4. Used literature

1. Introduction

I’ll start by saying that I got acquainted with idioms last year. I was greatly surprised when I learnt that idioms can’t be translated word by word, because their meanings depend on the meaning of the whole expression.

More over idioms are widely used in the oral speech, in the magazines’ articles, dialogues adding to the language bright and colorful shades of meaning. Obviously without knowing the meaning of the idiom you won’t be able to get the essence of the joke, because as a rule every joke is based on the variety of their meanings.

The English language is full of idioms (over 15,000). Native speakers of English use idioms all the time, often without realizing that they are doing so. This means that communication with native speakers of English can be quite a confusing experience.

We use idioms to express something that other words do not express as clearly or as cleverly. We often use an image or symbol to describe something as clearly as possible and thus make our point as effectively as possible. For example, «in a nutshell» suggests the idea of having all the information contained within very few words. Idioms tend to be informal and are best used in spoken rather than written English.

The field for my research is the idiomatic similes. To my mind they are widely used in all spheres of our life and if you know their translation exactly you will use them just in the right place and time.

The aim of research work is to learn more about the world of the English idioms and attract my classmates’ attention to them, proving that using idioms in our speech makes it brighter and more intelligent.

Phraseology is the study of set or fixed expressions, such as idiomsphrasal verbs, and other types of multi-word lexical units (often collectively referred to as phrasemes), in which the component parts of the expression take on a meaning more specific than or otherwise not predictable from the sum of their meanings when used independently.

The study of phraseological figurativeness is one of the main and perspective aspects of modern phraseology development. World vision through the phraseological images is specific for each nationality and can be observed as one of characteristics of language system specificity. In this case the great interest is presented with comparative phraseologisms as one of the more efficient means of figurativeness and expressiveness.

The figurativeness as real peculiarity of various levels’ language units is manifested in their ability to call in our consciousness visual images, bright pictures on the basis of which we accept objectively real and definitely logical content of these units…”.

By phraseological figurativeness we mean “combined vision of two pictures” out of which the third one, new, appears absorbing all the necessary significant features of the previous ones. In other words, we may say about the image as ‘the form of new idea’s embodiment.

As the result of combinability of these features new structures are formed in our consciousness, so called ‘concepts’. The concept is “mental representation which determines the way things associate with each other and how they refer to definite categories… ”. The main role which concepts play in our thinking is categorization; it is the ability to group all the objects possessing definite similarities into corresponding classes.

No doubt, phraseologisms bear the “pictorial” character, among which we mark out the following types: “pictures”, concept-schemes, concept-frames and concept-sceneries.

1.2 History of the development of phraseology

Phraseology is a scholarly approach to a language which developed in the twentieth century. It took its start when Charles Bally‘s notion of locutions

phraseologiques entered Russian lexicology and lexicography in the 1930s and 1940s and was subsequently developed in the former Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries. From the late 1960s it established itself in (East) German linguistics but was also sporadically approached in English linguistics. The earliest English adaptations of phraseology are by Weinreich (1969) within the approach of  transformational grammar, Arnold (1973), and Lipka (1992 [1974]). In Great Britain as well as other Western European countries, phraseology has steadily been developed over the last twenty years. The activities of the European Society of Phraseology (EUROPHRAS) and the European Association for Lexicography (EURALEX) with their regular conventions and publications attest to the prolific European interest in phraseology. Bibliographies of recent studies on English and general phraseology are included in Welte (1990) and specially collected in Cowie & Howarth (1996) whose bibliography is reproduced and continued on the internet and provides a rich source of the most recent publications in the field.

The hypothesis is that by using idioms you can distinguish a native speaker from the advanced learner and the beginner in studying the English language.

The methods of research used:




2. Main part

The definition of the term “idiom”

An idiom is a set expression, the meaning of which is different from the literal meanings of its components. It refers to a figurative meaning that is known only through common use. Idioms present a great variety of structures and combinations that are mostly unchangeable and often not logical and may not follow basic rules of grammar.

The Webster dictionary gives following definition: Idiom is an expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent element as kick the bucket, hang one’s head etc., or from the general grammatical rules of language, as the table round for the round table, and which is not a constituent of a larger expression of like characteristics.

Oxford Learner’s Dictionary of English Idioms gives us definition of “idiom”. The word ‘idiom’ is used to describe the ‘special phrases’ that are an essential part of a language. Idioms may be ‘special’ in different ways: for example, the expression to kick the bucket seems to follow the normal rules of grammar, although we cannot say ‘kick a bucket’ or ‘kick the buckets’ , but it is impossible to guess that it means ‘to die’. Phrases like all right, on second thoughts, and same here, which are used in everyday English, and especially in spoken English, are ‘special’ because they are fixed units of language that clearly do not follow the normal rules of grammar.

Another formulation of “idiom (Dubrovin M., ‘Russian-English Idioms) is set phraseological units which meaning does not result from the meaning of its components.

The definition by Dean Curry is “the assigning of a new meaning to a group of words which already have their own meaning”. Idioms are informal in nature and although they appear in literature, they are not necessary considered to be “literary”. They are often colloquial, often slang, and through overuse can become cliches. Idioms may be adjectival, adverbial, verbal, or nominal. They also may take the form of traditional saying and proverbs.

The origin of the word “idiom”

In fact, the word idiom comes from the Greek root idio, meaning a unique signature. Thus, each language contains expressions that make no sense when translated literally into another tongue.

Some idioms of the «worldwide English» have first been seen in the works of writers like Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, Lewis Carroll or even in the paperbacks of contemporary novelists. An example of Shakespearian quotation can be found in the following sentence:»As a social worker, you certainly see the seamy side of life.» Biblical references are also the source of many idioms. Sports terms, technical terms,

legal terms, military slang and even nautical expressions have found their way to the everyday use of English language.

Many idioms are similar to expressions in other languages and can be easy for a learner to understand. Other idioms come from older phrases which have changed over time.
To hold one’s horses means to stop and wait patiently for someone or something. It comes from a time when people rode horses and would have to hold their horses while waiting for someone or something.
«Hold your horses,» I said when my friend started to leave the store.
Other idioms come from such things as sports that are common in the United Kingdom or the United States and may require some special cultural knowledge to easily understand them.
To cover all of one’s bases means to thoroughly prepare for or deal with a situation. It comes from the American game of baseball where you must cover or protect the bases.
I tried to cover all of my bases when I went to the job interview.

What for do we use idioms?

  1. For emphasis, e.g. The singer’s second album sank like a stone, [failed completely]

  2. To agree with a previous speaker, e.g.

A: Did you notice how Lisa started listening when you said her name?

B: Yes, that certainly made her prick her ears up. [start listening carefully]

  1. To comment on people, e.g. Did you hear Tom has been invited for dinner with the prime minister? He’s certainly gone up in the world! [gained a better social position — or more money — than before]

  2. To comment on a situation, e.g. The new finance minister wants to knock the economy into shape, [take action to get something into a good condition]

  3. To make an anecdote more interesting, e.g. It was just one disaster after another today, a sort of domino effect, [when something, usually bad, happens and causes a series of other things to happen]

  4. To catch the reader’s eye. Idioms — particularly those with strong images — are often used in headlines, advertising slogans and the names of small businesses. The writer may play with the idiom or make a pun (a joke involving a play on words) in order to create a special effect, e.g. a debt of dishonour instead of the usual debt of honour, [a debt that you owe someone for moral rather than financial reasons]

  5. To indicate membership of a particular group, e.g. surfers drop in on someone, meaning to get on a wave another surfer is already on.

We will see and hear idioms in all sorts of speaking and writing. They are particularly common in everyday conversation and in popular journalism. For example, they are often found in magazine horoscopes, e.g. You’ll spend much of this week licking your wounds [trying to recover from a bad experience], or in problem pages, e.g. Do you think that my relationship has run its course? [come to a natural end] However, idioms are also used in more formal contexts, such as lectures, academic essays and business reports, e.g. It is hoped the regulations will open the door to better management, [let something new start].

Common metaphors in idioms. What is a metaphor?

Metaphors describe a person, object or situation by comparing it to something else with similar characteristics. They are often used in poetry and literature. In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, for example, Romeo says ‘Juliet is my sun’, suggesting that she is the most important force in his life, bringing him light and warmth.

Many idioms are based on metaphors. However, idioms are expressions that are used so frequently and are so fixed in the language that people often do not think about the metaphors behind them. The metaphors used in idioms are therefore much less original and thought-provoking than those used in literary contexts. People say, for example, ‘The new president was / took centre stage at the meeting’ [was the most important or noticeable thing or person], without thinking of the original image of a theatre.

Why idioms and metaphors are so important?

Firstly, they are important because they are very common. It is impossible to speak, read, or listen to English without meeting idiomatic language.

The second reason is that very often the metaphorical use of a word is more common today than its literal use. For example, we know that farmers plough their field, but we can plough through a long novel or report; we can plough on with our work; we can plough money into a business; profits can be ploughed back into a company; a lorry can plough into a row of parked cars. Using plough in its literal farming meaning is now much rarer than all its other non-literal uses.

Types of idioms


Binomials are a type of idiom in which two words are joined by a conjunction (linking word), usually and. The order of the two words is fixed. For example, we always say black and white, NOT white and black: Managing climate change isn’t a black and white issue, [separate and clear]

The words can be:

  1. synonyms (words which mean the same): Sara’s work is always very neat and tidy;

  2. opposites: If you go for cheaper speakers, the sound quality may be a bit hit and miss, [sometimes good, sometimes had (informal)];

  3. the same word: They finished the race neck and neck, [equal];

  4. rhyming: Tables in the canteen take a lot of wear and tear, [damage through everyday use];

  5. alliterative: After the match the players’ legs were black and blue, [very bruised];

  6. joined by words other than and: The traffic was bumper to bumper all the way to the coast, [very heavy] Little by little, Vera gained the horse’s confidence, [gradually] The house must be worth a quarter of a million, give or take a few thousand, [plus or minus (informal)];

Trinomials are a similar type of idiom, in which three words are joined, e.g. I’ve looked here, there and everywhere for my glasses but can’t find them, [everywhere]


Euphemisms are a type of idiom used to avoid saying words which may offend or be considered unpleasant. They are useful to learn, as they will help to communicate using language which is appropriate for the situation.

Euphemisms are used:

  1. To talk about subjects which may upset or offend, such as death.

It was obvious he was not long for this world, but he never lost his sense of humour. [going to die soon]

To avoid using direct words for body functions

I’m just going to spend a penny. [use the toilet (UK public toilets used to charge a penny.)]

  1. For humorous effect when telling anecdotes.

My boss was effing and blinding because he had lost a confidential report. [swearing (some common English swear words begin with f or b) (informal)]

  1. By the media or political instructions to tone down unpleasant situations.

Many soldiers have made a supreme / ultimate sacrifice for their country. [died]

He died in a friendly fire accident. [killed by his own side, not by the enemy]




Four-letter words

The play may offend some people, as it’s full of four-letter words.

Swear words (many of these have four letters in English)

Pardon my French

He’s such a bloody idiot, pardon my French.

Apologies for swearing (humorous)

Powder my nose

I’m just going to powder my nose.

Use the toilet

Answer the call of nature

Go behind a tree if you need to answer the call of nature.

Urinate (more direct)

Play the field

He said he’s too young to stop playing the field and settle down.

Having many romantic relationships without committing to one partner

My number was up

I saw the car heading straight for me and I thought my number was up.

I was about to die (informal)

Breathe my last

This is where I was born and where I will breathe my last’, said the old woman.


Be six feet under

We’ll be at six feet under by the time you finish writing your novel!

Be dead (informal)

Comparing and analyzing English and Russian idioms

There is a plenty of Russian phraseologisms that don’t have any analogs in the English language. For example, «повесить нос», «один как перст», «без царя в голове», «душа в пятки ушла», «губа не дура», «на лбу написано», «а Васька слушает да ест», «слона-то я и не приметил», «рыльце в пуху», «мартышкин труд», «медвежья услуга». 

While comparing and analyzing English and Russian idioms, I noticed a similarity in their structure, figure of speech and style:

Russian idiom English idiom
Играть с огнем to play with fire
сжигать мосты to burn bridges
нет дыма без огня there is no smoke without fire
трудолюбивый, как пчела busy as a bee
жить как кошка с собакой a cat and dog life
Дела сердечные affair of the heart
дело чести affair of honour
рыцарь без страха и упрека knight without fear and without reproach
сливки общества the cream of society
игра стоит свеч the game is worth the candle
оборотная сторона медали the reverse side of the coin
Труден только первый шаг it is the first step that costs
искать иголку в стоге сена look for a needle in a bottom of hay
аппетит приходит во время еды appetite comes with eating
браки совершаются на небесах marriages are made in heaven
глаза – зеркало души the eyes are the mirror of the soul
если бы молодость знала, а старость могла if youth but knew, if age but could

A part of these idioms has become international, and there are a lot of languages pretending on their primordial (in each language they are considered to be its own or they are considered to originate in it).

It’s interesting that many Russian and English expressions take their origin from the Bible. The Bible is the reachest source of phraseological units. This greatest work has enriched Russian as well as English with similar units (phrases).

Here are some of them:

English Idiom Russian Translation
The beam in one’s eye бревно в собственном глазу
Daily bread хлеб насущный
Poverty is no sin бедность не порок
Throw nature out of the door, it will come back again Гони природу в дверь, она войдет в окно
Look not a gift horse in the mouth Дареному коню в зубы не смотрят
A storm in a tea-cup Буря в стакане воды

It’s appeared that the names of our body parts are often used in formation of phraseologisms. They have symbolic character and images understandable for both languages: Russian and English. It seems that using the names of different parts of the body, a person tries to express more fully his/her thoughts and makes a greater impression by his/her speech. And it’s interesting that images are similar in these languages.

English Idiom

Russian Translation

To have heart of gold

иметь золотое сердце

With a heavy heart

камень на сердце, с тяжелым сердцем

Armed to the teeth

вооружен до зубов

To have heart of kind

иметь доброе сердце

To wag a tongue

языком трепать

To look down a nose at somebody

задирать нос

To have lost a tongue

язык проглотить

A tooth for a tooth

зуб за зуб

To be all eyes

смотреть в оба

Not to see beyond the end of a nose

Не видеть дальше собственного носа

One’s hair stood on end

Волосы дыбом встали

To wash one’s head

намылить голову (шею)

To have a good head on the shoulders

Иметь голову на плечах

However, having translated from one language into another it often happens the change of images. It is a very interesting phenomenon for the English and Russian languages. We can see the difference between the next phraseological units:

English Idiom

Word for word translation

Russian Translation

Laugh in the beard смеяться в “бороду” смеяться в кулак
Thick as blackberries толстый как черника хоть пруд пруди
As sure as eggs are eggs верно, как то, что яйца — это яйца верно, как дважды два
The rotten apple injures its neighbours гнилое яблоко портит соседние паршивая овца все стадо портит
To swim like a stone плавать как камень плавать как топор
It is not my cup of tea не моя чашка чая не по мне
In hot water в горячей воде быть в заботах, хлопотах
Head to head, face to face голова к голове, лицо к лицу с глазу на глаз
To make a mountain out of a molehill делать из кротовины гору делать из мухи слона
As cool as a cucumber холодный как огурец спокоен, как удав
Buy a pig in a poke купить “поросенка” в мешке купить кота в мешке
As two peas как две “горошины” как две капли воды
To be born with a silver spoon in the mouth родиться с серебряной ложкой во рту родиться в сорочке
Not worth a bean не стоить и боба гроша ломаного не стоить
A piece of cake кусок торта пустячное дело
Nothing new under the sun ничто не ново под “солнцем” ничто не ново под луной

The Structure of Idioms

Most idioms are unique and fixed in their grammatical structure. The expression to sit on the fence cannot become to sit on a fence or to sit on the fences. However, there are many changes that can be made to an idiom.
Some of these changes result in a change in the grammatical structure that would generally be considered to be wrong.
To be broken literally means that something is broken. The lamp is broken so I cannot easily read my book. To be broke is grammatically incorrect but it has the idiomatic meaning of to have no money. I am broke and I cannot go to a movie tonight.
There can also be changes in nouns, pronouns or in the verb tenses.
I sat on the fence and did not give my opinion. Many people are sitting on the fence and do not want to give their opinion.
Adjectives and adverbs can also be added to an idiomatic phrase.
The politician has been sitting squarely in the middle of the fence since the election.
It is for these reasons that it is sometimes difficult to isolate the actual idiomatic expression and then find it in a dictionary of idioms.
As far as I know there are different ways how to render the essence of the idioms, for example: selecting the Russian equivalents or descriptive translation. For me, it’s easier to remember the meaning of the idiom if I manage to find the proper and colorful equivalent.

Idioms groups

I continued to do my research work with dividing the idioms into the groups. I decided to choose the idioms that seemed to be the most interesting for learning and using in my study of the English language. I looked through some dictionaries of the idioms and set-expressions.

The first group of idioms I picked up is people’s character. We live in the society where each person estimates other people and their behavior, traits of character and expresses his opinion. Here are some descriptions which characterize me, you, your friends and people who are around us.

Ball of fire: You shouldn’t be panic when somebody says that you are a ball of fire. You won’t burn. This person means that you are very energetic.

Ex.: Sally is a real ball of fire. She works late every night.

Full of beans: If your friend says that he is full of beans. It doesn’t mean that he has eaten many beans today, he means that he has a good mood.

Ex.: The head of the company was full of beans after he was informed that his company won the tender.

Be all thumbs: If somebody says that you are all thumbs it means that you are very awkward.

Ex.:Hey! You are pouring my coffee on the table!
— Oh, I’m so sorry! I have been all thumbs today.

Move up in the world: If somebody moves up in the world it means that he has become a successful person.

Ex.: The young man is working hard and he is moving up in the world.

The second group is the idioms about the time. In the modern English language there are many idiomatic phrases that help people to explain an abstract meaning of the time easily.

Against the clock: This phrase means that the time “works against you”, and you feel the lack of it for fulfillment of some affairs.

Ex.: Hurry up! You are working against the clock! We have very little time to do it”.

Like clock work: This phrase describes regular definite events.

Ex.: “He is as regular as clockwork in his habits – he goes to the bank every Friday”.

Not born yesterday: We say this idiom when we want to show that it is difficult to deceive us.

Ex.: “This car has a lot of faults. You must think I was born yesterday if you expected me to buy this car”.

Time of your life: Somebody says it that when he enjoys what he does, when he has a good time.

Ex.: “The children were tired out when they arrived home – they’d had the time of their lives playing in the mud, without their parents there to tell them to keep clean”.

With a snap of the fingers: If you manage to do something as soon as you click your fingers, and it comes out in moment, very quickly.

Ex.: If you could snap your fingers and immediately have this skill, which would you choose:
1. Fluency in every European language?
2. Or fluency in Chinese?

The third group is the idioms with religious ideas. Faith is something that helps people to live. And it isn’t extraordinary that in our speech there are phrase about this part of our live.

Come hell or high water: When something must certainly happen, this event will happen even if flood starts or hell falls. In this case English use this idiom.

Ex.: Finish the project come hell or high water!

Meet me at the airport come hell or high water!

Sing form the same hymn sheet: This idiom means that people say the same things, having the same points of view.

Ex.: All political parties sing from the same hymn sheet.

Ninth circle of hell: In the Dante’s Aligere’s work “God’s comedy” in the Ninth circle of hell the main character met the most terrible sinner, and saw the most horrible punishments which were given to them. That’s why when something is very bad it is the ninth circle of hell.

Ex.: Our politics in economics is the ninth circle of hell.

Cold day in hell: Cold day in hell happens once an eternity. Therefore when we say that something will happen on a cold day in hell it means that it will never happen.

Ex.: — When will you pass your exam?

  • On a cold day in hell!

The fourth group is business idioms. In this group there are idioms which you can use when you speak with your foreign business partners or when you tell about your firm.

Bad egg: Bag egg is a person that you can’t trust. He is a swindler.

Ex.: This businessman has a reputation of a bad egg. Nobody wants to deal with him.

To be in the red: a person or a firm is in the red when they have debts. On the one hand red color is the color of danger, problem. And absence money is a suitable situation. On the other hand in England and America banks sent to debtors letters where “You have debts! Return them” which was written by red inks.

Ex.: The phone company found itself about three millions dollars in the red.

Hot potato: Have you ever held a hot potato in your hands? You don’t want to drop it but you can’t hold it any more because it’s too hot and you throw it from one hand to the other hand while it isn’t getting cold. Hot potato is a tickly question. It is hard and unpleasantly to deal with it.

Ex.: This new local small business law is a true hot potato in our region!

Fat cat: Fat cat is a person that has much money. But in this phrase there is disapproval shade of meaning. You can call somebody a fat cat if you don’t approve the way this person spends his money.

Ex.: The owner of this company decided to sponsor “LDPR”. What a fat cat!

The fifth group is the idioms about the computers. Nowadays we can’t imagine our life without it. That’s why here are some idioms which are connected with computers.

All hardware sucks: This phrase means that all computer system is disable to fulfill your orders.

Ex.: I’m afraid that there is nothing to do else, because your all hardware sucks.

Blue screen of death: Blue screen of death describes the situation when all computer screen became blue and many words, symbols and letters appear on it which you can’t understand. They advise you to restart the computer.

Ex.: Running this program always ends by a Blue screen of death.

Hang: If your computer hangs, it means that all system doesn’t reply any commands

Ex.: I can’t connect the net, because my comp hangs again and again!

Big red switch: There is really big switch on many computer blocks but even if it is small it is called a big red switch in order to make emphasis on the fact that switching on it, the complex system, I mean a computer, begins to work.

Ex.: Don’t panic when having a blue screen of death, just push a Big Red Switch!
The most interesting group for me is comparative idioms. In order to make them we must use the construction as…as. I like this group because there are very funny. For example, when you want to say that you are very hungry you can say that you are as hungry as a hunter, etc.

As easy as pie: very easy.

«I thought you said this was a difficult problem. It isn’t. In fact, it’s as easy as pie.»

As hungry as a hunter: very hungry.

I haven’t eaten anything all day that’s why I am as hungry as a hunter.

As good as gold: very good.

This boy helped me very much. He is as good as gold.

As red as a beetroot: very red

Now Ann’s face is as red as a beetroot because she has lied.

As strong as an ox: very strong.

I think that this man does sports because he is as strong as an ox.

Different linguists group idioms in different ways. For example, I divide them like this:

  1. Animal Idioms
  2. Plants Idioms
  3. Fruits and vegetables Idioms
  4. Colour Idioms
  5. Body Idioms
  6. Food Idioms
  7. Feelling and actions Idioms

Animal Idioms

Like a horse It means : to work hard

As a bee It means : about very busy man

As brave as a lio It means : about very brave man

Chicken It means : a coward man

Eagle eyes It means : someone who has eagle eyes

To work like a dog – работать усердно

A bookworm – книжный червь ( очень любит читать)

Chicken — трус

A copycat – человек, который подражает ( нет своего мнения)

An early bird – человек, который везде самый первый

Plants Idioms

As fresh as a daisy — fresh, healthy man

As fresh as a rose — about beautiful man

Shake like a leaf — to be afraid, tremble as a leaf

To go around the bush — avoid giving a clear answer

As hot as a pepper — very spicy

Fruits and vegetables Idioms

To buy a lemon — to buy something useless or defective

As cool as a cucumber — cool headed man in the face of danger or difficulty

Couch potato — a lazy person, watching TV

Bad apple — criminal, trouble maker

Sour grapes — pretending to not want something

Lemon law — protect people from defective food

The apple of one’s eye – любимый человек

Go bananasсходить с ума

Colour Idioms

Once in a blue moon — in early days

A heart of gold — a very kind and good man

To have green fingers -he is a good gardener

As white as a sheet — to afraid something

To born with a silver spoon in his mouth -very lucky man

A dark horse — nobody know much about him

Out of the blue – неожиданно

In the red – быть в долгу

The green light – разрешение для чего-то

In the black – при деньгах, богатый

Body Idioms

I let my hair down — to have a rest

An old head on young shoulder — he is too young but wise and clever

It costs an arm and a leg — it’s very expensive

Break one’s heart — to do suffer to somebody

To bite one’s tongue — stop talking

To zip the lip — to keep silence

Food Idioms

A big cheese — an important person, a leader

A bad egg — a bad person to be avoid

Cry over spilt milk — to cry about something that has already happened

Bread and butter — basic needs of life

Piece of cake — that you consider it to be very easy

Like a fish out of water — to be uncomfortable situation

Feelling and actions Idioms

Fall in love — to love somebody

A yes man — the man who listen everybody

An early bird — the man will be the first everywhere

A man of means -to be a very rich

At first sight — the first impression of the man

A man of his word — aperson who keeps promises

Time Idioms

Like clock work – делать все в одно время
Not born yesterday – трудно обмануть кого-то( не вчера родился)

With a snap of the fingers – очень быстро

High time — пора

In no time — моментально

To kill time — бездельничать

Numbers Idioms

Sixth sense – уметь догадываться ( иметь шестое чувство)

At first sight – первое впечатление

Of two minds — нерешительный

In seventh heaven – очень счастливый

«Man and his characteristic features»

Ball of fire – очень энергичный человек.

Full of bеаns – быть в хорошем настроении

Move up in the world – быть успешным человеком

A man of means – богатый человек

To be shorthanded – нуждающийся в помощи

To zip the lip – не разговаривать

To stretch the truth – преувеличивать

To have a green thumb – иметь способность к выращиванию растений

Many teachers of English like to group idioms in alphabetic order.

The site put them in such a way:



Employment — Jobs

Number Idioms

Animal & bird Idioms


Problems — difficulties

Anxiety — fear




Food Idioms

Safety — danger

Authority — power

Frankness — Sincerity

Secrets — indiscretion

Behaviour idioms



Body idioms

Happiness — Sadness


Business — Work Idioms

Health Idioms

Speed — rapidity

Choices — Options

Hesitation — Indecision

Sports Idioms

Clothes Idioms

Honesty — dishonesty


Colour idioms




Law & Order



Madness — Insanity



Memory — Remembering

Time idioms

Descriptions of people



Descriptions — places-things

Money Idioms


d) Investigation

Last year I learnt about the idioms at my English lessons at school. My teacher recommended me to spend more time investigating this field of the language.

It was interesting for me to know how many idioms the pupils of 9th – 11th forms know. I handed the questionnaires to the students of our school. It appeared that they know just a few of them, some students know more than ten idioms and the others know less than 10 or even don’t know idioms at all. After that I asked the pupils how often they use idioms in their dialogues or situations. And it appeared that they use them seldom or don’t use them at all. Then I asked pupils if they think that idioms enrich the English language and the most of them answered that they have no idea about it.

So I decided to make the list of idioms used frequently by the native speakers and group them according to the meaning.

These are the questions I asked my classmates, schoolmates, friends and acquaintances. I prepared multiple-choice questionnaire.

  1. How many idioms do you know?
  • I don’t know any idioms.
  • I know less than 10 idioms.
  • I know 10 – 30 idioms.
  • I know more than 30 idioms.
  • I know more than 50 idioms.

2. How often do use idioms?

  • I don’t use idioms.
  • I seldom use idioms.
  • I often use idioms.

3. Do you think that idioms adorn English language?

  • Yes, I do. To my mind idioms adorn English language.
  • No, I don’t. In my opinion idioms don’t adorn English language.
  • I don’t know.

I wanted to learn how many idioms students of 9th-11th forms know. I asked pupils in our school

How many idioms

do you know?

Then I wanted to learn how often they used idioms.

How often do you use idioms?

After that I wanted to learn if people thought that idioms enrich the English language?

Do you think that idioms enrich

the English language?


English is a language particularly rich in idioms — those modes of expression peculiar to a language (or dialect) which frequently defy logical and grammatical rules. Without idioms English would lose much of its variety and humor both in speech and writing.

Idioms can be quite clear (in general; come out; at first; the root of all evil), or pretty unclear (on end; pack it in; high and low; hard cash). Some idioms have proper names in them (a Jack of all trades; Uncle Sam), some other idioms are comparisons (as clear as a bell; as the crow flies). Proverbs and sayings are idioms, too (every cloud has a silver lining; still waters run deep).

For my work I have chosen useful idioms that native speakers use frequently in their everyday life. These idioms are accepted as part of everyday speech and undoubtedly are of great practical value to you. Many other idioms, though they are often interesting and colorful, are not that necessary in your everyday conversational English.

I think the fact that a person possesses a good vocabulary does not mean that he sounds like a native speaker. The mentality of a nation is expressed not only in grammatically correct sentences but in а variety of phrases that depict peculiarities of history and culture.

I think that I can use many of inter idioms in my speech. I like them.

So to be an interesting interlocutor you should acquire the idioms that make speech lively and bright.