Exploring Idioms for Children: Fun and Easy Learning


Idioms make the language rich and interesting! They add another layer to the sentiment you want to express, letting you skip over the boring direct way to present it in a format that packs a punch.

Teaching kids idioms early on can provide them with an alternative and a rather colourful way to express themselves. While obviously helping them understand what others mean when they use said idiom around them. However, learning English idioms for non-native speakers (like us!) can be a bit of a challenge.

Worry not, dear parents and teachers. The lowdown you will find here will definitely put you at ease because we are going to break down in detail the A to Z of idioms, including a list of them with explanations that you can print, bookmark or use to teach your kids about them.

What is an idiom and what are its types?

To define ‘what is an idiom’ can seem like a complicated task. Let us try.

An idiom is an expression that conveys a message different from what the words in it indicate at face value. It is like one of those “look for the hidden meaning” type of phrases. It is never longer than a short sentence, and it attempts to drive home a point via an unusual yet amusing comparison.

As for the types of idioms, you will find four of them in total, which children should know. These are:

  1. Pure idiom
  2. A pure idiom is easier to understand in the sense that its meaning can be deduced by the words in it. For example, when someone says “spill the beans”, you know they are asking you to reveal your secret.

  3. Binomial idioms
  4. Binomial idioms combine two words with the help of a conjunction. Think “do’s and don’ts”. Or “heart to heart”.

  5. Partial idiom
  6. Partial idioms are those that have been shortened from their original version simply because they were too long. “When in Rome” is a wonderful example!

  7. Prepositional idiom
  8. When a verb and a preposition come together to form an expression, a prepositional verb is born. A good example of that? The idiom “agree on”. Bet you thought that was not an idiom!

What is its purpose?

The only purpose of idioms is to make your child’s language more colourful and interesting. Idioms add a sense of poetry to language. They remove the bland and the boring. Idioms definitely impart more impact to whatever your kids say or write. You will see what we mean when you check out our idiom list below!

How to use idioms?

There is only one way to use idioms. Are you ready for it? That is to become fluent in them. Learning idioms is actually a lot like learning a language. Practice and memorising can make your kids adept at idioms, thus allowing them to sprinkle them into their daily conversations with ease. Just keep reminding your kids to use idioms initially till they get a hang of it.

How to memorise idioms?

To get your kids to learn idioms, you will have to coax them into memorising these super expressive phrases. Here is how:

  • Get your kids to grasp the true meaning of each idiom. Context can make learning idioms a lot easier.
  • Encourage them to keep a notebook which they can use to regularly practise all of the idioms they learn. Writing them down will help reinforce the words and meanings of each idiom.
  • Give them an idiom of the day to learn. Bombarding them with too many idioms at once will only confuse them.

A list of popular idioms with their meaning and examples

Did you know that there are over 25,000 idioms in the English language? That is a crazy number! The good news is that your kids absolutely, 100% do not need to know all of them. As long as they know the popular ones, they are all set. And we are here to help you with our idioms list. This list has idiom examples and sentences so learning them becomes easier!

  1. A piece of cake
  2. Meaning: Something that is very, very easy to do.

    Example: Winning that race was a piece of cake for Rahul.

  3. A tough nut
  4. Meaning: A person who is really difficult to deal with.

    Example: Did you hear about the new boss? He seems like a tough nut!

  5. Born with a silver spoon
  6. Meaning: Someone who is born rich or privileged.

    Example: Rita does not have to work hard to earn because she was born with a silver spoon.

  7. Break the ice
  8. Meaning: To try to get along with someone new; to help people feel more relaxed in your company.

    Example: I think Sheila is really awkward. Perhaps I should break the ice between us.

  9. Break a leg
  10. Meaning: To wish someone good luck; especially before they tried something challenging.

    Example: Aman: “I have a match tomorrow.” Aditya: “Break a leg!”

  11. Bread and butter
  12. Meaning: A person’s source of income; their livelihood.

    Example: Teaching is my bread and butter. It is the only job that I think I’m great at.

  13. Judge a book by its cover
  14. Meaning: To form an opinion about something or someone based purely on appearance.

    Example: I do not want to judge a book by its cover but she surely does not seem friendly.

  15. Cool as a cucumber
  16. Meaning: Someone who is composed and relaxed in a situation that does not favour them.

    Example: Even though the exam season is super stressful, John always manages to stay cool as a cucumber through it.

  17. Feeling under the weather
  18. Meaning: To feel ill.

    Example: Mom, I do not think I can go to school today. I am feeling under the weather.

  19. Food for thought
  20. Meaning: Something to ponder over, or to think deeply about.

    Sentence: The lecture he gave on the situation of the girl child offers food for thought.

  21. Hit the sack
  22. Meaning: To go to bed; to sleep.

    Example: I am exhausted from all the hiking so I’m just going to hit the sack now.

  23. Fish out of water
  24. Meaning: To be in an uncomfortable or in an unfamiliar situation.

    Example: Hanging around all the cool kids has me feeling like a fish out of water.

This idioms list is just the tip of the iceberg! There are many more your children can learn. We hope this list along with its idiom sentences and examples makes it easy for you to teach your kids about idioms. If you want your preschool age kids to learn more, you can always send them to EuroKids. Our language teachers are always ready to enrich your child’s grammar and vocabulary. Visit us to know more!