Know Your Idioms Challenge
In our “Know Your Idioms Challenge,” we’ll put your understanding of common expressions to the test.
First things first, what is an idiom? The definition of an idiom is an expression or group of words having meaning beyond what one could deduce from the meaning of the single words.
It seems that many idioms are passed on from one generation to the next in conversation and in readings. A familiarity with idioms meanings gives one a leg up in reading comprehension and in understanding speakers who make use of these types of expressions.
To make things interesting, we’ve placed these idioms in little riddles for you to solve. Each card has three questions and there are nine cards. So, a perfect score is 27. Good luck.
Take the “Know Your Idioms Challenge”
See how well you do by tracking your score on each card — look for the Scoring Key below the last card’s answers
Learn popular idioms
1.) Sam has a habit of “beating around the __________,” which means he avoids saying what he means, usually because it is an uncomfortable subject.
2.) “Every __________ has a silver lining.” This means that something positive can be found even in bad times.
3.) To “get __________ out of shape” means to be upset.
ANSWERS: 1.) bush. 2.) cloud. 3.) bent.
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4.) “Wrap your __________ around something” means to understand something through intense study.
5.) “A __________ is worth a thousand words” means that it’s more impactful to show than to tell.
6.) “By the __________ of your teeth” means just barely.
ANSWERS: 4.) head. 5.) picture. 6.) skin.
Common phrases and common meanings
7.) “Don’t cry over spilt __________” means there no use in complaining over something that has already happened.
8.) To “give someone the cold __________” means to ignore them completely.
9.) To “hit the __________ on the head” means to get something exactly right.
ANSWERS: 7.) milk. 8.) shoulder. 9.) nail.
Idioms for kids
10.) To “kill two __________ with one stone” means to accomplish two tasks with one action.
11.) “Once in a __________ moon” means rarely.
12.) “The __________ bird gets the worm” means folks who arrive first are rewarded.
ANSWERS: 10.) birds. 11.) blue. 12.) early.
The ultimate idioms quiz
13.) “A __________ in time saves nine” means that fixing a problem when it first occurs saves it from being a bigger problem.
14.) “An apple a day keeps the __________ away” means that apples are good for you.
15.) “It takes two to __________” means that one person alone isn’t responsible – both people were involved. Hint: It’s also a type of dance.
ANSWERS: 13.) stitch. 14.) doctor. 15.) tango.
Know Your Idioms Challenge — Four cards to go
16.) “Make __________ while the sun shines” refers to take advantage of a good time to work.
17.) “That __________ has sailed” means it’s too late.
18.) “Caught between a __________ and a hard place” means you’re faced with two unappealing choices.
ANSWERS: 16.) hay. 17.) ship. 18.) rock.
Popular sayings riddles
19.) “Fit as a __________” means to be in good health.
20.) To “steal someone’s __________” means you’re trying to take credit for their achievement.
21.) “Through thick and __________” means through good times and bad.
ANSWERS: 19.) fiddle. 20.) thunder. 21.) thin.
Do you know your idioms challenge?
22.) If “you’re __________ someone’s leg” it means you’re kidding with them.
23.) To be “a __________ out of water” means to be out of place in unfamiliar territory.
24.) “In the __________ of time” means you just barely made it before it was too late.
ANSWERS: 22.) pulling. 23.) fish. 24.) nick.
25.) To “let the __________ fall where they may,” means to let something happen – good or bad.
26.) To “put your __________ in your mouth,” means to say something you shouldn’t have.
27.) To “stick your __________ into something” means to interfere where you don’t belong.
ANSWERS: 25.) chips. 26.) foot. 27.) nose.
22 – 27 Correct — (A Grade) You’re a chip off the old block. Well done, my friend.
16 – 21 Correct — (B Grade) Not for a second, do we not think you’ll be making the A grade soon.
< 16 Correct — (Needs Improvement) Keep your nose to the grindstone and your scores will show that you did.
Frequently asked questions — FAQS about idioms
What are some popular idioms?
“A dime a dozen” means something common. “Easy does it” suggests slowing down, and “going back to the drawing board,” means starting over.
How many idioms are there in the English language?
The English language is fluid and expands over time, so the number of idioms continues to grow. Experts have estimated there are some 25,000 idioms in the English language.
What makes a good idiom?
The best idioms are short, e.g. “zip your lip,” call to mind a visual image, e.g. “when pigs fly”, and are memorable, e.g. “piece of cake.”
— — —
Hands down, we hope that’s the best idiom challenge you’ve ever taken. Now, go forth in your reading and talks to learn more idioms that authors and speakers use. Then, the real fun is trying to put them to your own use.
— Greg Johnson and Mike O’Halloran
Greg and Mike are the co-founders of ListCaboodle.
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