5 More Classic British Idioms

After wetting your appetite with our last 5 classic British idioms, we thought we would give you 5 more to wrap your head around. These next five are equally as popular as the last and have been said by people living in the British Isles for years. Level up your English by including these classic idioms in your speech and writing and you will be well on the way to feeling like a true Brit…

An arm and a leg

“I really like my new car, but it cost an arm and a leg!”

As we can see from the example here, I am very happy with my new car, but it cost…what?! In English we often talk about something costing an arm and a leg. This means the thing was very expensive and not at all cheap! Imagine someone is selling you a car, but what they want is one of your arms and one of your legs! Seems a high price to pay to me… and that’s why we use this classic idiomatic expression.

Barking up the wrong tree

“It wasn’t my fault. You’re barking up the wrong tree if you think it was me!”

So someone is accusing you of something they think you did but you want to tell them they’ve got the wrong idea? Then simply tell them they are barking up the wrong tree! Another classic idiom that needs a bit of explanation. Imagine a dog at the bottom of a tree barking at something up high in the leaves… but actually there is nothing there! The dog got the wrong idea and if you think someone else has got the wrong idea, then that is the perfect moment to use this idiom.

Beating around the bush

“This story has gone on forever. Stop beating around the bush!”

Imagine someone is telling a very long and boring story. You know they could easily finish the story by telling you the main point but they just keep going on and on and on. Tell them to stop beating around the bush and they should hurry up! Here’s another classic British idiom that can be used to ask someone to kindly arrive at the point of their story. The origin of this expression comes from medieval times when hunters used to beat bushes with sticks to force any animals quickly out.

Kill two birds with one stone

“We can kill two birds with one stone in town today. We’ll get you some shoes and me some trousers.”

Every so often a brilliant opportunity arrives where you can do two things with just one action. This is your moment to declare that you are able to kill two birds with one stone. Animal and bird lovers, don’t worry that it sounds a bit cruel, this idiom is used all the time in English as an expression for when we are able to conveniently complete two tasks in one go.

Put all your eggs in one basket

“A career in music sounds great, but you might be putting all your eggs in one basket.”

Indeed, a career in music would be fantastic, but wannabe singers and musicians are probably used to hearing this idiomatic expression. We say this when we want to warn someone that they may be putting all their hopes and efforts into a single opportunity, when really it’s better to put equal amounts of effort into more than one thing. If the music career doesn’t work out, then what will you do! The idea here is that if your basket is taken away from you, you will lose all your eggs.

Finished reading about these idioms? Now try the quiz below to test your knowledge!

5 British Idioms quiz

Think you know your idioms? Read the example and then fill in the gap with the correct answer!

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