10 Common Animal Idioms with Meanings and Examples

Idioms are phrases or expressions that have a figurative meaning different from their literal meaning. Animal idioms are commonly used in English and add color and imagery to our language. Here are ten common animal idioms, their meanings, and examples of how they are used in everyday conversation.

1. The Cat’s Out of the Bag

Meaning: When you let the cat out of the bag, you reveal a piece of secret or confidential information.

Example: “I was planning a surprise party for my friend, but someone accidentally let the cat out of the bag and ruined the surprise.”

2. A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Meaning: A wolf in sheep’s clothing is someone who appears to be friendly or harmless but is actually dangerous or deceitful.

Example: “Be careful with that new employee. He may seem nice, but he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing and has been stealing from the company.”

3. When Pigs Fly

Meaning: When pigs fly is used to describe something that will never happen.

Example: “I’ll lend you my car when pigs fly. I don’t trust anyone else to drive it.”

4. Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Meaning: If you let sleeping dogs lie, you don’t bring up an issue or problem that could cause trouble.

Example: “I know you’re angry with your brother, but let sleeping dogs lie. Bringing up old arguments will only cause more tension.”

5. Kill Two Birds with One Stone

Meaning: When you kill two birds with one stone, you accomplish two tasks at once.

Example: “I need to go to the bank and the post office. I can kill two birds with one stone by doing them both in one trip.”

6. Cry Over Spilled Milk

Meaning: If you cry over spilled milk, you get upset over something that cannot be changed.

Example: “I know you made a mistake, but there’s no use crying over spilled milk. We need to focus on how to fix it.”

7. A Fish Out of Water

Meaning: A fish out of water is someone who feels uncomfortable or out of place in a new environment.

Example: “I felt like a fish out of water at the fancy restaurant. I had no idea which fork to use!”

8. Hold Your Horses

Meaning: When you tell someone to hold their horses, you are asking them to be patient and wait.

Example: “Hold your horses! I need to finish this email before we can leave for the meeting.”

9. Straight From the Horse’s Mouth

Meaning: When you hear something straight from the horse’s mouth, you hear it from a reliable or trustworthy source.

Example: “I heard from the CEO herself that we are getting a bonus this year. It’s straight from the horse’s mouth.”

10. The Elephant in the Room

Meaning: The elephant in the room is an issue or problem that everyone is aware of but no one wants to address.

Example: “We all know there’s a problem with the new software, but no one wants to talk about the elephant in the room.”

These ten animal idioms are just a few examples of the many colorful expressions used in English. Incorporating idioms into your speech and writing can make your language more interesting and engaging.

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Dr. James Morrison
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