Animal idioms are expressions that use animal names or images to convey a certain meaning. These idioms are often rooted in the characteristics of different animals.
Here are some commonly used animal idioms:
Idioms Related to Animals
As mad as a hatter – To be extremely angry or upset about something. This comes from the traditional way hatters used mercury to produce felt for their hats and had to endure the effects of mercury poisoning.
1 – Barking up the wrong tree
Wrongly accusing someone of something; looking for something where it isn’t. Dogs often chase their tails when they are bored or frustrated, which can give this expression its meaning. Dogs also bark at things they see as threats (such as vehicles), which would also explain why this phrase evolved into its current form today.
2 – Cat got your tongue
If you say that someone has the cat got your tongue, you mean that they are being uncommunicative or are unable to speak because they are shy or afraid.
3 – A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
The idiom “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” means that something you already have is better than something that may or may not happen.
4 – A bull in a china shop
The idiom “a bull in a china shop” refers to someone who makes a mess by doing things too quickly and without thought for others around them.
5 – Cock-a-doodle-doo!
This phrase is used to describe the call made by roosters during the morning hours (usually around sunrise). It’s often used as an exclamation when someone finds something surprising or unexpected.
6 – Crocodile Tears
Fake tears shed by someone who is insincere or pretending to be sad about something that doesn’t really upset them at all.
7 – A pig in a poke
A person who buys something without first inspecting it carefully. This expression comes from the practice of selling pigs at markets hidden in pokes (bags). If someone bought a pig in a poke, they would not know what kind of animal they were getting until after the sale had been made.
8 – A wolf in sheep’s clothing
Someone who appears friendly and helpful but is actually dangerous and deceptive. This expression refers to the fact that wolves often hide among sheep in order to catch their prey more easily.
9 – There’s more than one way to skin a cat
This idiom means that there are many ways of doing something.
10 – Don’t count your chickens before they hatch
Don’t assume something will happen until it actually does. For example, I know you’re excited about your new job, but don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
11 – Kill two birds with one stone
To accomplish two tasks at the same time.
12 – Like a fish out of water
This idiom is used to describe someone who is confused and uncomfortable in a new environment.
13 – Hold your horses
Hold your horses means to calm down and wait for things to happen. This phrase is often used when someone is frustrated or impatient.
14 – Let sleeping dogs lie
It’s best to leave things alone if they are working well. You should not disturb something that is sleeping because it may cause trouble.
15 – Let the cat out of the bag
To reveal a secret or surprise someone with news. For example, I was planning to tell everyone at my party that I had won the lottery, but Sally let the cat out of the bag by accident.
16 – Beat around the bush
Avoid dealing with a subject directly. For example: “I hate to beat around the bush, but I’ve been offered another job and I have no idea how to tell my boss.”
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