An idiom (Latin: idioma, “special property”, f. Greek: ἰδίωμα — idiōma, “special feature, special phrasing”, f. Greek: ἴδιος — idios, “one’s own”) is an expression, word, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is comprehended in regard to a common use of that expression that is separate from the literal meaning or definition of the words of which it is made. There are estimated to be at least 25,000 idiomatic expressions in the English language. * In linguistics, idioms are usually presumed to be figures of speech contradicting the principle of compositionality; yet the matter remains debated. John Saeed defines an “idiom” as words collocated that became affixed to each other until metamorphosing into a fossilised term. This collocation — words commonly used in a group — redefines each component word in the word-group and becomes an idiomatic expression. The words develop a specialized meaning as an entity, as an idiom. Moreover, an idiom is an expression, word, or phrase whose sense means something different from what the words literally imply. When a speaker uses an idiom, the listener might mistake its actual meaning, if he or she has not heard this figure of speech before. Idioms usually do not translate well; in some cases, when an idiom is translated into another language, either its meaning is changed or it is meaningless.
1. act like an ape
MEANING: behave badly, wildly, foolishly
He has been acting like an ape ever since his girlfriend left him.
2. bark up the wrong tree
MEANING: choose the wrong course of action
He is barking up the wrong tree. He accuses me of causing the computer problem but I was away at the time.
3. Her bark is worse than her bite
MEANING: someone’s words are worse than their action
You shouldn’t worry about her. Her bark is worse than her bite and she is really a very nice person.
4. bet on the wrong horse
MEANING: misread the future
He is betting on the wrong horse if he keeps supporting the other city in their bid for the games.
5. bull in a china shop
MEANING: a person with no tact who upsets others or upsets plans
He is like a bull in a china shop so you should be careful if you invite him to your house for the weekend.
6. cash cow
MEANING: a good way to make money
The new business is a great cash cow. We are making a lot of money now.
7. cat get one’s tongue
MEANING: can’t speak because of shyness
The cat must have got her tongue. She did not saying anything at all.
8. cat nap
MEANING: a short sleep taken during the day
I had a cat nap during the afternoon so I would feel refreshed in the evening.
9. change horses in midstream
MEANING: make new plans or choose a new leader in the middle of an important activity
They have decided to change lawyers but I told them that they shouldn’t change horses in midstream.
MEANING: someone who copies another person’s work etc.
He is a copycat according to the other students in the class.
11. cry wolf
MEANING: give a false alarm; warn of a danger that is not there.
He is crying wolf. There is no real danger or worry about the electrical system causing a fire.
12. curiosity killed the cat
MEANING: being too nosy may lead a person into trouble
You shouldn’t worry about what he is doing. Remember curiosity killed the cat.
13. dark horse
MEANING: a candidate little known to the general public
He was a dark horse in the race to be President until he gave some good speeches on TV.
MEANING: ready or willing to fight and hurt others to get what one wants
It is a dog-eat-dog world outside the father said to his young son.
15. donkey's years
MEANING: a very long time