Idioms The Idiom Connection



Fish Idioms and Quizzes

Fish, Insect and Reptile Idioms





Fish, Insect and Reptile Idioms


as busy as a bee

- very busy

I was as busy as a bee all weekend.

as calm as a toad in the sun

- very calm and content

The girl was as calm as a toad in the sun during the speech contest.

as crazy as a bedbug

- crazy

My neighbor is as crazy as a bedbug.

as full/tight as a tick

- very full of food or drink

I was as full as a tick after the large meal at the restaurant.

as gaudy as a butterfly

- gaudy, colorful

The woman was as gaudy as a butterfly when she left for the concert.

as happy as a clam

- happy and content

The little girl was as happy as a clam while she played with her toys.

as mad as a hornet

- very angry, in a fighting mood

Our boss was as mad as a hornet when he came to work this morning.

as merry as a cricket

- cheerful

I felt as merry as a cricket as I waited for my friend to arrive at the airport.

as red as a lobster

- very red

The girl was as red as a lobster after sitting in the sun all day.

as slippery as an eel

- undependable, devious, cannot be trusted

That sales person is as slippery as an eel and you should be careful when you talk to him.

as snug as a bug in a rug

- cozy and snug

The children were as snug as a bug in a rug as they read a book in the big bed.

as ugly as a toad

- very ugly

The man was as ugly as a toad.

big fish in a small pond

- an important person in a small place

The man was not so important in the city but in the small town he was a big fish in a small pond.

birds and bees

- the facts about sex and birth

The woman told her daughter about the birds and the bees during the summer holidays.

bitten by (some kind of) bug

- to become interested and excited about a particular activity and want to start doing it

The man has been bitten by a gold bug and he only thinks about gold.

blue around the gills

- to be looking sick

I was looking blue around the gills during my illness.

bug-eyed

- to be wide-eyed with surprise

The little boy was bug-eyed when he got a new bicycle for his birthday.

bug (someone)

- to annoy or irritate someone

My friend is beginning to bug me with his endless questions.

clam up

- to stop talking, to refuse to talk (like a clam closes its shell)

I had to clam up during the meeting so my boss would not become angry with me.

cold fish

- a person who is unfriendly or does not mix with others

The man is a cold fish and he has very few friends.

cry crocodile tears

- to have a show of sorrow that is not sincere, to pretend that one is crying

The boy was asked to apologize for his wrongdoing but he only cried crocodile tears which were not sincere.

drink like a fish

- to drink alcohol to excessive amounts

The man drank like a fish at the party and he had to go home by taxi.

a fine kettle of fish

- a situation that is not satisfactory, a mess

"This is a fine kettle of fish. I am going to be late for the meeting."

fish for a compliment

- to try to get someone to say something nice about you

The man is fishing for a compliment about his new Italian suit.

fish for (something)

- to try to get information from someone

The lawyer was fishing for information from the woman.

fish in troubled waters

- to involve oneself in a difficult or confused or dangerous situation in order to get something

The woman was fishing in troubled waters when she began to ask questions about the crime.

fish or cut bait

- to either do what you are supposed to do or quit and let someone else do it

It was time to fish or cut bait so I decided to let someone else handle the problem.

a fish out of water

- someone who does not fit in, an uncomfortable or awkward feeling

The woman felt like a fish out of water when she went to the party in her formal dress while everyone else was wearing jeans.

fishy

- to be suspicious or unlikely

"Something is fishy with these numbers. There are too many people on this list."

flea in (someone`s) ear

- an idea or answer that is not welcome

I put a flea in my supervisor's ear when I told him about the computer problem.

flea market

- a place where antiques and secondhand goods and other cheap items are sold

We go to the flea market every weekend to look for old photographs.

fly in the ointment

- something small that spoils one`s fun

The complaints about the food were a fly in the ointment that gave everyone a bad feeling about the gathering.

go on a fishing expedition

- to attempt to discover information

The lawyer went on a fishing expedition to try and discover the facts of the case.

green around the gills

- to be looking sick

The girl looked green around the gills when she left the nurse's office.

have a bee in one`s bonnet

- to have a fixed idea that stays in one's mind

My friend has a bee in her bonnet and she will not stop talking about moving to a new apartment.

have a frog in one's throat

- to get a tickle or soreness in one's throat which makes it difficult to speak until you cough and clear your throat

I had a frog in my throat and it was difficult to talk on the telephone.

have ants in one`s pants

- to be nervous and restless

The teacher asked the little boy if he had ants in his pants when the boy kept moving around in his seat.

have butterflies in one`s stomach

- to have a feeling of fear or anxiety in one's stomach

I had butterflies in my stomach when I received the award.

have other/bigger fish to fry

- to have other more important things to do, to have other opportunities

I have other fish to fry and I do not plan to spend any more time talking about my friend's problems.

hive of activity

- somewhere where things are very busy (like the activity around a beehive)

The wedding hall was a hive of activity as everyone got ready for the wedding.

Holy mackeral!

- an expression used to express a strong feeling of surprise

"Holy mackeral! Look at the size of that motorcycle."

knee-high to a grasshopper

- to be very young, to be short and small (like a child)

I have been playing the piano since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.

like shooting fish in a barrel

- one side in a competition is so weak that they have no chance of winning

The contest was like shooting fish in a barrel. It was very easy to win.

live in a fish bowl

- to live where many people know about your life and personal business

The small town was like living in a fish bowl. Everybody knew what I was doing.

louse up

- to make a mess of something, to spoil something

"Please try not to louse up the printer again. It was working fine this morning."

make a beeline for (someone or something)

- to go straight toward someone or something (like bees when they fly in a straight line)

Whenever my friend goes to a football game he makes a beeline for the food stand.

neither fish nor fowl

- something that does not belong to a definite group or category

I do not know what you should call the strange food. It is neither fish nor fowl.

no flies on (someone)

- very fast or busy (too fast or busy for a fly to stay on someone)

There are no flies on my friend. He is always moving or going somewhere.

none of (someone's) beeswax

- none of someone's business

It was none of my beeswax so I did not ask my friend about his problems.

not hurt a flea

- to not hurt anything or anyone (not even a small insect like a flea)

Our dog is very gentle and he will not hurt a flea.

open up a can of worms

- to create unnecessary complications or problems

The company opened up a can of worms when they decided to talk about the union contract.

packed in like sardines

- packed very tightly, very crowded

We were packed in like sardines during the morning commute in the train.

pale around the gills

- to be looking sick

The man looked pale around the gills when he left the boat.

put a bug in (someone`s) ear (about something)

- to give someone a hint or an idea about something

My friend put a bug in my ear about going to France and I cannot stop thinking about it.

put (something) in mothballs

- to put something into storage

The government put the old navy ship in mothballs.

red herring

- some information or a suggestion that is used to draw attention away from the real facts of a situation (orginally used as a strong fish smell from a smoked fish that was used to confuse hunting dogs when they were hunting and following something)

The tax issue was a red herring and it is not what the news reporters wanted the government to talk about.

rise to the bait

- to be attracted by some kind of bait (just as a fish is attracted to bait)

The politician would not rise to the bait and argue with the news reporter.

a shark

- a ruthless or dishonest person

"The salesman is a shark. Don't do business with him."

shed crocodile tears

- to have a show of sorrow that is not sincere, to pretend that one is crying

The politician was shedding crocodile tears but nobody believed him.

small fry

- unimportant people, children (small fry are young newly-hatched fish)

The police were only able to catch some of the small fry in the organized crime gang.

snail`s pace

- very slowly

We went away for the weekend but the cars were moving at a snail`s pace when we came home on Sunday.

snake in the grass

- a low and dishonest person

The man is a snake in the grass and nobody likes him.

snake oil salesman

- someone who tries to sell you something that does not work

The carpet seller is like a snake oil salesman. His carpets are no good at all.

stir up a hornet`s nest

- to make people angry, to create trouble or difficulties

I stirred up a hornet`s nest when I went to the meeting and started talking about the work schedule.

swallow (something) hook, line and sinker

- to believe something completely, to be tricked by something

The teacher swallowed the student's excuse hook, line and sinker.

there are plenty of other fish in the sea

- there are other choices, there are other people to choose from

There are plenty of other fish in the sea and when my sister lost her boyfriend she did not worry too much.

turn turtle

- to turn upside down

The car went off the road in the storm and turned turtle.

a whale of (something)

- an exceptionally good or large something

Everybody had a whale of a time at the birthday party.

world is one`s oyster

- someone can get anything that he or she wants, someone will have great opportunities

"When you graduate from university the world will be your oyster so don`t worry about the future."

worm one's way out of (something)

- to squeeze or wiggle out of a problem or a responsibility

My friend was able to worm her way out of her problems at work.

Bee Idioms


as busy as a bee

- very busy

I was as busy as a bee all weekend.

birds and bees

- the facts about sex and birth

The woman told her daughter about the birds and the bees during the summer holidays.

have a bee in one`s bonnet

- to have a fixed idea that stays in one's mind

My friend has a bee in her bonnet and she will not stop talking about moving to a new apartment.

hive of activity

- somewhere where things are very busy (like the activity around a beehive)

The wedding hall was a hive of activity as everyone got ready for the wedding.

make a beeline for (someone or something)

- to go straight toward someone or something (like bees when they fly in a straight line)

Whenever my friend goes to a football game he makes a beeline for the food stand.

none of (someone's) beeswax

- none of someone's business

It was none of my beeswax so I did not ask my friend about his problems.

Bug Idioms


as crazy as a bedbug

- crazy

My neighbor is as crazy as a bedbug.

as snug as a bug in a rug

- cozy and snug

The children were as snug as a bug in a rug as they read a book in the big bed.

bitten by (some kind of) bug

- to become interested and excited about a particular activity and want to start doing it

The man has been bitten by a gold bug and he only thinks about gold.

bug-eyed

- to be wide-eyed with surprise

The little boy was bug-eyed when he got a new bicycle for his birthday.

bug (someone)

- to annoy or irritate someone

My friend is beginning to bug me with his endless questions.

put a bug in (someone`s) ear (about something)

- to give someone a hint or an idea about something

My friend put a bug in my ear about going to France and I cannot stop thinking about it.

Butterfly Idioms


as gaudy as a butterfly

- gaudy, colorful

The woman was as gaudy as a butterfly when she left for the concert.

have butterflies in one`s stomach

- to have a feeling of fear or anxiety in one's stomach

I had butterflies in my stomach when I received the award.

Fish Idioms


big fish in a small pond

- an important person in a small place

The man was not so important in the city but in the small town he was a big fish in a small pond.

blue around the gills

- to be looking sick

I was looking blue around the gills during my illness.

cold fish

- a person who is unfriendly or does not mix with others

The man is a cold fish and he has very few friends.

drink like a fish

- to drink alcohol to excessive amounts

The man drank like a fish at the party and he had to go home by taxi.

a fine kettle of fish

- a situation that is not satisfactory, a mess

"This is a fine kettle of fish. I am going to be late for the meeting."

fish for a compliment

- to try to get someone to say something nice about you

The man is fishing for a compliment about his new Italian suit.

fish for (something)

- to try to get information from someone

The lawyer was fishing for information from the woman.

fish in troubled waters

- to involve oneself in a difficult or confused or dangerous situation in order to get something

The woman was fishing in troubled waters when she began to ask questions about the crime.

fish or cut bait

- to either do what you are supposed to do or quit and let someone else do it

It was time to fish or cut bait so I decided to let someone else handle the problem.

a fish out of water

- someone who does not fit in, an uncomfortable or awkward feeling

The woman felt like a fish out of water when she went to the party in her formal dress while everyone else was wearing jeans.

fishy

- to be suspicious or unlikely

"Something is fishy with these numbers. There are too many people on this list."

go on a fishing expedition

- to attempt to discover information

The lawyer went on a fishing expedition to try and discover the facts of the case.

green around the gills

- to be looking sick

The girl looked green around the gills when she left the nurse's office.

have other/bigger fish to fry

- to have other more important things to do, to have other opportunities

I have other fish to fry and I do not plan to spend any more time talking about my friend's problems.

Holy mackeral!

- an expression used to express a strong feeling of surprise

"Holy mackeral! Look at the size of that motorcycle."

like shooting fish in a barrel

- one side in a competition is so weak that they have no chance of winning

The contest was like shooting fish in a barrel. It was very easy to win.

live in a fish bowl

- to live where many people know about your life and personal business

The small town was like living in a fish bowl. Everybody knew what I was doing.

neither fish nor fowl

- something that does not belong to a definite group or category

I do not know what you should call the strange food. It is neither fish nor fowl.

packed in like sardines

- packed very tightly, very crowded

We were packed in like sardines during the morning commute in the train.

pale around the gills

- to be looking sick

The man looked pale around the gills when he left the boat.

red herring

- some information or a suggestion that is used to draw attention away from the real facts of a situation (orginally used as a strong fish smell from a smoked fish that was used to confuse hunting dogs when they were hunting and following something)

The tax issue was a red herring and it is not what the news reporters wanted the government to talk about.

a shark

- a ruthless or dishonest person

"The salesman is a shark. Don't do business with him."

small fry

- unimportant people, children (small fry are young newly-hatched fish)

The police were only able to catch some of the small fry in the organized crime gang.

there are plenty of other fish in the sea

- there are other choices, there are other people to choose from

There are plenty of other fish in the sea and when my sister lost her boyfriend she did not worry too much.

Flea Idioms


flea in (someone`s) ear

- an idea or answer that is not welcome

I put a flea in my supervisor's ear when I told him about the computer problem.

flea market

- a place where antiques and secondhand goods and other cheap items are sold

We go to the flea market every weekend to look for old photographs.

not hurt a flea

- to not hurt anything or anyone (not even a small insect like a flea)

Our dog is very gentle and he will not hurt a flea.

Frog/Toad Idioms


as calm as a toad in the sun

- very calm and content

The girl was as calm as a toad in the sun during the speech contest.

as ugly as a toad

- very ugly

The man was as ugly as a toad.

have a frog in one's throat

- to get a tickle or soreness in one's throat which makes it difficult to speak until you cough and clear your throat

I had a frog in my throat and it was difficult to talk on the telephone.



Idiom Quizzes - Fish, Insects and Reptiles

    Choose an idiom to replace the expression in the brackets:

  1. My friend was (surprised) when I gave him his birthday present.

    (a) a snake in the grass (b) loused up (c) bug-eyed (d) as mad as a hornet




  2. The man looked like (someone who does not fit in) when I saw him at the tennis club last Saturday.

    (a) a fish out of water (b) a kettle of fish (c) a snail`s pace (d) a fly in the ointment



  3. When I entered the room the girl (stopped talking).

    (a) rose to the bait (b) had a bee in her bonnet (c) made a beeline for me (d) clammed up



  4. We went to the (secondhand market) on Sunday to look for a table.

    (a) snake oil salesman (b) flea market (c) birds and bees (d) can of worms



  5. The painter (made a mess of) the room that he was trying to paint.

    (a) wormed his way out of (b) clammed up (c) loused up (d) fished for



  6. The cars moved at a (slow speed) after the traffic accident.

    (a) snail`s pace (b) fish out of water (c) hive of activity (d) big fish in a small pond



  7. Our supervisor (made a lot of people angry) when she mentioned the new contract changes.

    (a) had a bug in her ear (b) had butterflies in her stomach (c) had crocodile tears (d) stirred up a hornet`s nest



  8. The boy had (much anxiety) before the swimming competition.

    (a) a can of worms (b) butterflies in his stomach (c) a fly in the ointment (d) a red herring



  9. The little boy was sitting in the office with (nervous excitment).

    (a) ants in his pants (b) a snail`s pace (c) the world as his oyster (d) a cold fish



  10. The man is (an unfriendly person) and never talks to others.

    (a) a fish out of water (b) a kettle of fish (c) a cold fish (d) a small fry



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