Animal Idioms & Expressions

Animals are the subject of many common idioms. Memorizing idioms can be a challenge, but it’s a great way to gain fluency in English. Here are some popular animal idioms to start incorporating into your English.

Cat got your tongue

Cat got your tongue?
used when someone is unusually quiet or stunned into silence

“What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?”

Curiosity killed the cat

Curiosity killed the cat!
don’t be too curious or nosy; a warning that curiosity can be dangerous

“I wonder what’s behind the padlocked door?”

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

Don't count your chickens before they hatch!
don’t assume you’ll have something before you have it

“When I get a job I’m going to make a lot of money and buy whatever I want.”

The early bird catches the worm

The early bird catches the worm.
the sooner you do something, the better chance at success you have; act before everyone else to have an advantage

“By the time I got to the mall, the sale was over.”

Eat like a horse

to eat like a horse

to eat a lot

“I was so hungry I ate like a horse.”

Have a cow

To ave a cow

overreact, become angry about something

“My mom had a cow when she saw how messy the kitchen was.”
“Don’t have a cow, we’ll fix this.”

Holy cow

Holy cow!

used to express shock or amazement; similar to “wow” and “oh my gosh”

“Holy cow, that’s the biggest spider I’ve ever seen!”
“You wrote a ten page paper in one night? Holy cow…”

Monkey see, monkey do

Monkey see, monkey do.

used when someone copies the actions of another person

“After his brother cartwheeled down the street, he did the same.”

Kill two birds with one stone

bird idiom picture

to accomplish two things at once

“I’m going to kill two birds with one stone by exercising while I watch the news.”

Raining cats and dogs

It's raining cats and dogs.

raining very heavily

“There was a big storm last night; it was raining cats and dogs!”

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