The Idiom Connection Food Idioms and Quizzes







Food Idioms






Food Idioms

acquire a taste for (something)

- to develop a liking for some kind of food or drink or something else

My friend has recently acquired a taste for classical music.

apple of (someone`s) eye

- someone or something that one likes a lot or likes more than others

The little girl is the apple of her grandfather`s eye.

as black as a skillet

- very black

The little boy's feet were as black as a skillet.

as busy as popcorn on a skillet

- very active

The children were as busy as popcorn on a skillet when the teacher entered the classroom.

as cool as a cucumber

- to be calm, to be not nervous or anxious

The man is as cool as a cucumber and never worries about anything.

as easy as apple pie

- very easy

The test that I wrote yesterday was as easy as apple pie.

as easy as duck soup

- very easy

It was as easy as duck soup to find the book that I wanted in the library.

as flat as a pancake

- very flat

The child's toy was as flat as a pancake after the car drove over it.

as hungry as a bear

- very hungry

I was as hungry as a bear when I returned home from work yesterday.

as nutty as a fruitcake

- silly, crazy

The man in the supermarket was as nutty as a fruitcake.

as red as a cherry

- bright red

My new sweater is as red as a cherry.

as slow as molasses in January

- very slow

The little boy is as slow as molasses in January and he never gets his work finished on time.

as sour as vinegar

- sour and disagreeable

The old man next door is as sour as vinegar.

as sweet as honey/sugar

- very sweet

The librarian is as sweet as honey and everybody loves her.

as thick as pea soup

- very thick (can be used with fog as well as with liquids)

The fog was as thick as pea soup along the beach.

as warm as toast

- very warm and cozy

Our house was as warm as toast when we came in from the rain.

at one sitting

- at one time, during one period

We ate most of the cake at one sitting.

back to the salt mines

- to go back to work (this is a humorous expression to express going back to unpleasant work)

"Lunch is over so let`s go back to the salt mines for the afternoon."

bad apple

- a bad person

The boy is a bad apple and he is always in some kind of trouble.

bad egg

- a bad person

My neighbor is a bad egg and you should avoid him.

bear fruit

- to yield or give results

The woman's hard work at her business finally began to bear fruit when she started to make money.

best bib and tucker

- one's best clothes

I wore my best bib and tucker for the wedding reception.

big cheese

- an important person, a leader

My uncle is a big cheese in his company so you should be very nice to him.

big enchilada

- the biggest and most important thing or person

The new accounting manager is the big enchilada in our company.

binge and purge

- to overeat and then to vomit

The young woman had eating problems. She would often binge and purge her food.

bite off more than one can chew

- to try to do or eat more than you can manage

I bit off more than I can chew when I began to work in the evening.

bite the hand that feeds one

- to harm someone who does good things for you

I do not want to make my company angry because I do not want to bite the hand that feeds me.

bitter pill to swallow

- something unpleasant that one must accept

It was a bitter pill to swallow when I learned that I would not get the new job.

bolt down (something) or bolt (something) down

- to eat something very quickly

The man bolted down his food before going back to work.

born with a silver spoon in one's mouth

- to be born to a wealthy family with many advantages

The boy was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and he never has to work very hard.

Bottoms up!

- everybody should drink now (this expression is used at the end of a drinking toast)

"Bottoms up," our host said at the beginning of the dinner.

bread and butter

- one's income or job that is used to buy the basic needs of life like food or shelter or clothing

Most people are worried about bread-and-butter issues like jobs and taxes.

bread and water

- the most basic meal that is possible (like you would get in prison)

The prisoners were fed bread and water for several days last winter.

bring home the bacon

- to earn your family`s living

Recently, I have been working hard to bring home the bacon.

burn (something) to a crisp

- to burn something very badly

I burned the eggs to a crisp while I was talking on the telephone.

butter (someone) up or butter up (someone)

- to flatter someone in order to get his or her favor or friendship

The man spends much time trying to butter up his boss so that he will not have to work so hard.

buy a lemon

- to buy something that is worthless or does not work well

The used car that I bought is not very good. I think that I bought a lemon.

can't stomach (someone or something)

- to dislike or hate someone or something

I cannot stomach the idea of meeting my old girlfriend.

carrot and stick

- the reward for someone to do what you want or the punishment if they do not do what you want

The government took a carrot-and-stick approach to remove the people who were protesting against the construction of the dam.

cheese (someone) off or cheese off (someone)

- to annoy or irritate or anger someone

I cheesed off my neighbor when I borrowed his ladder without telling him.

cheesed off

- to be annoyed

I was cheesed off that I would not be able to go away for the weekend.

chew the fat with (someone)

- to chat with someone

We stayed up late last night chewing the fat about our university days.

chips and dip

- potato chips and something to dip them into before eating them

We bought some chips and dip for the party.

clear the table

- to remove the dishes and other eating utensils from a table after eating

We had to clear the table before we could eat our dessert.

coffee break

- a break from work to rest and drink coffee or tea

We usually have a coffee break every morning at 10 o`clock.

Come and get it!

- Dinner is ready. Come and eat.

"Come and get it," my mother called after she made dinner.

compare apples and oranges

- to compare two things that are not similar and should not be compared

It was like comparing apples and oranges when we compared our new boss to our old boss.

cook (someone's) goose

- to damage or ruin someone

I think that I cooked my goose when I made a mistake at work today.

cook (something) to perfection

- to cook something perfectly

The chef always cooks the food to perfection at his small restaurant.

cook (something) up or cook up (something)

- to cook something, to make some kind of plan

I plan to cook up some fish tonight.
I do not know what my girlfriend is cooking up for the weekend but we will probably do something interesting.

cook up a storm

- to prepare a large quantity of food

My friend cooked up a storm for the party.

couch potato

- someone who spends a lot of time on a couch watching television

My cousin is a couch potato and he never wants to leave his house.

cream of the crop

- the best of a group, the top choice

Our company is always able to hire the cream of the crop of university graduates.

a cream puff

- a person who is easily influenced or beaten

The boy is a cream puff and is always a victim of other people's insults.

cry over spilled/spilt milk

- to cry or complain about something that has already happened

You should not cry over spilled milk. The past is past and you cannot change it.

(not one's) cup of tea

- something that one does not enjoy or do well (usually used in the negative)

Going to art galleries is not my cup of tea so I think that I will stay home this evening.

cut the mustard

- to succeed, to do adequately what needs to be done

The young man was not able to cut the mustard and he had to leave the army after only one year.

dine out

- to eat a meal at a restaurant

I love to dine out at good restaurants.

done to a T

- to be cooked just right (just as one would cook a steak perfectly)

The steaks were done to a T when my friend cooked them on the barbecue.

done to a turn

- to be cooked just right (just as one would cook a steak perfectly)

Everything was done to a turn at the party.

down the hatch

- swallow something (used for a drink)

My drink was down the hatch before I could order another one.

drop (someone or something) like a hot potato

- to suddenly stop being involved with someone or with something (usually because you are having problems and do not like him/her/it)

The advertisers dropped the basketball star like a hot potato when he became involved in a scandal.

duck soup

- a task that does not require much effort

"It was like duck soup. I easily finished my school project last night."

eat and run

- to eat a meal and then quickly leave

I had to eat and run in order to be on time for my evening class.

eat crow

- to admit that one is mistaken or defeated, to take back a mistaken statement

I was forced to eat crow and apologize for the things that I said about my coworker.

eat dirt

- to act humble, to accept another person's insults or bad treatment

We made the boy eat dirt after he accused us of lying.

eat high on/off the hog

- to eat expensive and high quality food

My uncle has been eating high on the hog since he got his new job.

eat humble pie

- to be humbled, to admit one`s error and apologize

Our boss was forced to eat humble pie after he made the wrong budget estimate for next year.

eat like a bird

- to eat only a small amount of food

The girl eats like a bird and is very slim.

eat like a horse

- to eat a large amount of food

I usually eat like a horse after I work hard all day.

eat one`s cake and have it too

- to use or spend something and still keep it, to have something both ways

The man refuses to give up anything and he always wants to eat his cake and have it too.

eat one's hat

- to do something extraordinary or special if something that you do not think will happen actually happens (this is always used with if and is used when you are quite certain that something will happen and if it does not happen then you will do something extraordinary or special - like eating your hat)

I do not think that my friend will arrive here on time. If my friend does arrive here on time I will eat my hat.
I do not think that our team will win the game today. If our team does win the game today I will eat my hat.

eat one's heart out

- to be envious of someone or something

I ate my heart out when I saw my friend's new bicycle.

eat one`s words

- to take back something that one has said, to admit that something is not true

I told my boss that I would soon quit my job but later I had to eat my words and tell him that I wanted to stay.

eat out

- to eat a meal in a restaurant

My aunt and uncle eat out often at nice restaurants.

eat out of (someone's) hands

- to do what someone else wants

The young secretary is eating out of the manager's hands.

eat (someone) for breakfast

- to defeat someone easily

The young wrestler was able to eat the older wrestler for breakfast.

eat (someone) out of house and home

- to eat a lot of food in someone's house

The young boy is eating his parents out of house and home.

eat up (something) or eat (something) up

- to enjoy or absorb or appreciate something

The students were eating up the comments by their professor.

eat up (something) or eat (something) up

- to eat everything on your plate

I ate up all my dinner and began my homework.

egg (someone) on or egg on (someone)

- to encourage someone to do something (often something bad or wrong or dangerous)

The boys egged their friend on to jump into the water.

either feast or famine

- either too much or not enough of something

I usually have too much free time or too little free time. It is either feast or famine.

everything from soup to nuts

- almost everything that one can think of

We brought everything from soup to nuts for our weekend holiday.

eyes are bigger than one's stomach

- the amount of food that one takes is greater than what one could possibly eat

My eyes were bigger than my stomach and I took too much food at the buffet dinner.

fat is in the fire

- a situation is bad or a person has serious problems

The fat is in the fire and the deadline is fast approaching for my final exams.

feed one's face

- to eat

I stopped at a small restaurant after the game to feed my face.

fine kettle of fish

- a mess, an unsatisfactory situation

It was a fine kettle of fish for me when I lost the keys to my apartment.

food for thought

- something to think about, something that provides mental stimulation

The advice from the bank manager was food for thought when I made my financial plan.

for peanuts

- for very little money, for almost nothing

I was able to buy a used computer for peanuts.

forbidden fruit

- something that one finds attractive partly because it is illegal or immoral or prohibited

Entering the old building was forbidden fruit for the young boys.

fruits of one's labor

- the results of one's work

My father is retired now and is enjoying the fruits of his labor.

full of beans

- feeling energetic, in high spirits

My aunt is full of beans tonight and she does not want to stop talking.

get oneself into a stew over (someone or something)

- to be worried or upset about someone or something

I try not to get myself into a stew over the rude remarks of my supervisor.

go bananas

- to become highly excited, to behave in a crazy way

The girl went bananas when her boyfriend forgot to buy her a birthday present.

go beet-red

- to become red in the face because you are embarrassed

I went beet-red when my friend told me the story.

go on a binge

- to eat or do too much of something

My friend went on a binge and ate too much chocolate.

good egg

- a good person

The man is a good egg. Everybody likes him a lot.

(one's) goose is cooked

- one has been discovered to have done something wrong and is now in trouble, one is finished, one's chances are ruined

I told a lie to my company. Now my goose is cooked and I am in much trouble.

grab a bite to eat

- to eat something (usually quickly)

I will grab a bite to eat after the game today.

gravy train

- a job or some work that pays more than it is worth

The job was a gravy train and I earned much money there.

greatest thing since sliced bread

- the greatest thing that there has ever been

My mother believes that the microwave oven is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

grist for the mill

- something that can be used to bring advantage or profit

The information that we got on the Internet was grist for the mill of our company's operations.

half a loaf is better than none

- having part of something is better than having nothing at all

Half a loaf is better than none and I would rather work part-time than have no job at all.

half-baked

- to be not thought about or studied carefully

Our friend has a half-baked idea about starting a new business but most of us think that it will fail.

hand (something) to (someone) on a silver platter

- to give a person something that has not been earned

The father handed everything to the boy on a silver platter and now he is very spoiled and selfish.

hard nut to crack

- a difficult person or thing to deal with or get to know

My friend is a very serious person and is a very hard nut to crack.

have a lot on one's plate

- to have many things to do or deal with, to be busy with many different activities

I have a lot on my plate this week and I am very busy.

have a pick-me-up

- to eat or drink something stimulating

I wanted to have a pick-me-up so I stopped for a coffee.

have a sweet tooth

- to have a desire to eat sweet foods

I have a sweet tooth and I love chocolate.

have a taste for (something)

- to have a desire for a food or drink or something

The opera singer has a taste for classical music.

have bigger fish to fry

- to have more important things to do

I have bigger fish to fry and I do not want to do extra work for my company.

have egg on one`s face

- to be embarrassed (because of an obvious error)

The man has egg on his face now that he has admitted that he was wrong about his boss.

have one's cake and eat it too

- to use or spend something and still keep it, to have something both ways

I wanted to have my cake and eat it too when I wanted more holidays and more responsibility at work.

have one's finger in the pie

- to be involved in something

The man has his finger in the pie of many things at his workplace.

have one's finger in too many pies

- to be involved in too many things so that you cannot do any of them well

Our supervisor has her finger in too many pies and she cannot do her job well.

Here's mud in your eye!

- Drink up! (a drinking toast)

"Here's mud in your eye," I said as we drank a toast to my new job.

hit the sauce

- to drink alcohol regularly

I think that my neighbor began to hit the sauce after her husband lost his job.

hot potato

- a question or argument that is controversial and difficult to settle

The issue of building the nuclear power plant is a hot potato for the town council.

icing on the cake

- something that makes a good situation or activity even better

I found a good job and the fact that I can work where I want is the icing on the cake.

in a nutshell

- briefly, in a few words

We went to the meeting and they told us in a nutshell about the plans for our company.

in a pickle

- in trouble, in a mess

The boy was in a pickle when he lost the keys to the school cupboard.

in a stew about/over (someone or something)

- to be worried or upset about someone or something

My father is in a stew over the fact that his printer ink has not arrived.

in one's salad days

- in one's youth

My aunt was a beautiful woman in her salad days.

in the soup

- in serious trouble, in a bad situation

The woman is in the soup now. She told her boss that she was sick but he saw her downtown shopping.

kill the fatted calf

- to prepare an elaborate banquet in honor of someone

We killed the fatted calf for my cousin after she returned from her trip abroad.

know which side one's bread is buttered

- to know what is good or advantageous for you

My aunt knows which side her bread is buttered when she visits her sister.

lay an egg

- to give a bad performance of something

The singer laid an egg during her concert last evening.

life is a bowl of cherries

- only good things happen in life

Ever since my father retired from his job he believes that life is a bowl of cherries.

like taking candy from a baby

- very easy to do

I asked the department store to refund the money for my goods and they agreed. It was like taking candy from a baby.

like two peas in a pod

- very close or intimate with someone

The sisters are like two peas in a pod and they do everything together.

live high off/on the hog

- to live well and eat good food

The woman lives high on the hog when she goes away on a business trip.

live off the fat of the land

- to grow one's own food, to live on the resources of the land

The family lives off the fat of the land on their small farm.

make a meal of (something)

- to eat something, to eat one main dish or food as an entire meal

We made a meal of the fish that we caught in the lake.

make hamburger out of (someone or something)

- to beat up or destroy someone or something

The big dog made hamburger out of the small dog.

make mincemeat out of (someone or something)

- to beat up or destroy someone or something

The older boxer made mincemeat out of the young boxer.

make one`s mouth water

- to make someone hungry, to make someone want to eat or drink something

The restaurant is wonderful and when I see the menu it makes my mouth water.

make (someone) eat crow

- to cause someone to admit an error or retract a statement

We made our boss eat crow when we discovered the mistake that he made with our work schedule.

meal ticket

- a thing or person that someone uses to get the money that they need to live

The woman's nursing degree is her meal ticket to a flexible and good life.

meat and potatoes

- basic simple and good food, simple tastes

The man is a meat-and-potatoes person who enjoys the simple pleasures of life.

melt in one's mouth

- to taste very good

The pastry melted in my mouth.

milk of human kindness

- the natural kindness and sympathy that is shown to others

The woman at the community center is full of the milk of human kindness.

milk (someone) for (something)

- to pressure someone into giving information or money

The man was trying to milk the elderly lady for much of her money.

neither fish nor fowl

- not in any recognizable category

I could not decide what the animal was. It was neither fish nor fowl.

not for all the tea in China

- not for anything

I will not for all the tea in China lend my friend any more money.

not know beans about (someone or something)

- to know nothing about someone or something

I do not know beans about repairing a car.

not worth a hill of beans

- worthless

The man is a liar and what he says is not worth a hill of beans.

on a diet

- to be trying to lose weight by eating less food

I have been on a diet for two months now.

one man's meat is another man's poison

- something that one person likes may be disliked by someone else

One man's meat is another man's poison and while my friend hates coffee, I love it.

out of the frying pan and into the fire

- to go from something bad to something worse

The woman jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire when she quit her job. Now her problems are much worse.

out to lunch

- to be crazy, to be uninformed

The woman is out to lunch and you should never believe what she tells you.

out to lunch

- to be eating lunch away from one's work

The bank manager was out to lunch when I went to meet him.

packed in like sardines

- to be packed in very tightly

The commuters were packed in like sardines in the subway car.

pick at (something)

- to eat only little bits of something

The boy is sick and will only pick at his food.

pie in the sky

- an idea or plan that you think will never happen

My cousin's plans are usually pie in the sky and will never happen.

piece of cake

- a task that is easily accomplished

The job was a piece of cake. I finished before lunch.

polish the apple

- to flatter someone

Nobody likes the girl because she is always polishing the apple with her teacher.

put all one's eggs in one basket

- to risk everything at once

I do not want to put all my eggs in one basket and only invest money in real estate.

put on the feed bag

- to eat a meal (like a horse would)

We put on the feed bag immediately after we got home.

put on weight or put weight on

- to gain weight

The basketball player is putting on weight.

rotten apple

- a bad person

Sometimes there is one person who is a rotten apple in a group of people.

rotten to the core

- to be completely worthless (like a rotten apple)

The political organization was rotten to the core and everybody knew that it must change.

rub salt in (someone's) wound

- to try to make someone's unhappiness or misfortune worse

I did not mention the car accident to my friend because I did not want to rub salt in his wound.

salt of the earth

- good/basic/honest/ordinary people

Our new neighbors are the salt of the earth. They are good, basic, honest people.

salt (something) away or salt away (something)

- to save or gather money or some other item

I am salting away much money from my new job.

save (someone's) bacon

- to help someone from failing or having trouble

My friend saved my bacon when he helped me with the job that I could not do.

sell like hotcakes

- to sell quickly or easily

The new CD is selling like hotcakes.

sink one's teeth into (something)

- to take a bite of some kind of food, to get really involved in something

I am trying hard to sink my teeth into the project at work.

slice of the cake/pie

- a share of something (money etc.)

The government wants a slice of the cake from the new casinos.

small potatoes

- something that is not very big or important compared with other things or people

The amount of money for the stadium is small potatoes compared to the total cost of the Olympics.

so clean you can eat off the floor

- very clean

My mother's kitchen is so clean that you can eat off the floor.

soup up (something) or soup (something) up

- to make something faster or more powerful by changing or adding something (this expression is often used for a car)

My neighbor decided to soup up his car.

spill the beans

- to tell a secret to someone who is not supposed to know about it

"Please do not spill the beans about my plans to return to school next year."

spoon-feed (someone)

- to help someone too much when you are trying to teach him or her something

We had to spoon-feed the new employee who we were teaching about the new computer system.

square meal

- a good filling meal

I was very busy at work last week and I did not have time for a square meal until Saturday.

stew in one`s own juice

- to suffer from something that you yourself have caused to happen

The man caused the problem for himself and he must now stew in his own juice.

stick to one's ribs

- to last a long time and to fill one up (used for food)

The meal that my grandmother made stuck to my ribs.

sugarcoat (something)

- to make something that is unpleasant seem more pleasant, to coat something with sugar

The government tried to sugarcoat the new policy but nobody was happy with it.

take (something) with a grain of salt

- to not take something that someone has said seriously

"You should take everything that the supervisor says with a grain of salt because he likes to exaggerate things."

take the cake

- to be the best or worst of something

The behavior of the young girl takes the cake. It is terrible.

teach one's grandmother to suck eggs

- to try to tell someone who has more knowledge than you how to do something

I tried to teach my friend about computers but he is a computer expert. It was like teaching my grandmother to suck eggs.

teething problems

- difficulties or problems that happen in the early stages of a project or activity

The new project which we were trying to start had many teething problems.

that's the way the cookie crumbles

- that's life, those things happen

That's the way the cookie crumbles, I thought when I learned that I would not get the new job.

there is no such thing as a free lunch

- you cannot get something without working for it or paying for it

There is no such thing as a free lunch and you must work hard if you want to get something in life.

too many cooks spoil the broth/stew

- too many people trying to do something will cause problems

Too many cooks spoil the broth and having too many people work on the project was making it difficult to do anything.

top banana

- the person who is the boss or the top person in a group or organization

The famous actor in the movie was the top banana in the story.

toss a salad

- to mix a salad with the dressing

I quickly tossed a salad and we ate dinner.

tub of lard

- a fat person

The young boys always call the fat boy a tub of lard.

tuck into (something)

- to eat something with energy and enjoyment

We tucked into our dinner when we sat down at the table.

turn beet-red

- to become red in the face because you are embarrassed

The girl turned beet-red when her friend asked about her boyfriend.

upset the applecart

- to ruin a plan or event by a surprise or accident

Everything was going well at the picnic until my former boyfriend arrived and upset the applecart.

variety is the spice of life

- differences and changes make life interesting

Variety is the spice of life and I enjoy doing many different things.

walk on eggshells/eggs

- to be very cautious and careful around someone so that he or she does not become angry

I must walk on eggshells when I ask my boss a question.

what's good/sauce for the goose is good/sauce for the gander

- what is good for one person should be good for another person as well

"What's good for the goose is good for the gander and you should not ask your child to do something if you will not do it yourself."

whet (someone's) appetite

- to cause someone to be interested in something and want to learn more about it

The introduction to playing a musical instrument helped to whet my appetite to learn more about music.

whole enchilada

- everything, all of something

I decided to buy the whole enchilada when I saw the set of dishes and kitchen goods.

wine and dine (someone)

- to treat someone to an expensive meal, to entertain someone in a lavish manner

My uncle often has to wine and dine his important business clients.

worth one`s salt

- to be a good worker, to be worth what one is paid

The man has only been working here for a month but quickly he is proving that he is worth his salt.

you can't make an omelette without breaking the eggs

- you cannot do something without causing some problems or having some effects

"You can't make an omelette without breaking the eggs and if you want to change the work schedules, then you are going to cause problems."


Apple Idioms


apple of (someone`s) eye

- someone or something that one likes a lot or likes more than others

The little girl is the apple of her grandfather`s eye.

as easy as apple pie

- very easy

The test that I wrote yesterday was as easy as apple pie.

bad apple

- a bad person

The boy is a bad apple and he is always in some kind of trouble.

compare apples and oranges

- to compare two things that are not similar and should not be compared

It was like comparing apples and oranges when we compared our new boss to our old boss.

polish the apple

- to flatter someone

Nobody likes the girl because she is always polishing the apple with her teacher.

rotten apple

- a bad person

Sometimes there is one person who is a rotten apple in a group of people.

rotten to the core

- to be completely worthless (like a rotten apple)

The political organization was rotten to the core and everybody knew that it must change.

upset the applecart

- to ruin a plan or event by a surprise or accident

Everything was going well at the company picnic until our boss arrived and upset the applecart.

Bean Idioms


full of beans

- feeling energetic, in high spirits

My aunt is full of beans tonight and she does not want to stop talking.

not know beans about (someone or something)

- to know nothing about someone or something

I do not know beans about repairing a car.

not worth a hill of beans

- worthless

The man is a liar and what he says is not worth a hill of beans.

spill the beans

- to tell a secret to someone who is not supposed to know about it

"Please do not spill the beans about my plans to return to school next year."

Bread Idioms


as warm as toast

- very warm and cozy

Our house was as warm as toast when we came in from the rain.

bread and butter

- one's income or job used to buy the basic needs of life like food or shelter or clothing

Most people are worried about bread-and-butter issues like jobs and taxes.

bread and water

- the most basic meal that is possible (like you would get in prison)

The prisoners were fed bread and water for several days last winter.

greatest thing since sliced bread

- the greatest thing that there has ever been

My mother believes that the microwave oven is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

grist for the mill

- something that can be used to bring advantage or profit

The information that we got on the Internet was grist for the mill of our company's operations.

half a loaf is better than none

- having part of something is better than having nothing at all

Half a loaf is better than none and I would rather work part-time than have no job at all.

half-baked

- to be not thought about or studied carefully

Our friend has a half-baked idea about starting a new business but most of us think that it will fail.

know which side one's bread is buttered

- to know what is good or advantageous for you

My aunt knows which side her bread is buttered when she visits her sister.

Cake Idioms


eat one`s cake and have it too

- to use or spend something and still keep it, to have something both ways

The man refuses to give up anything and he always wants to eat his cake and have it too.

have one's cake and eat it too

- to use or spend something and still keep it, to have something both ways

I wanted to have my cake and eat it too when I wanted more holidays and more responsibility at work.

icing on the cake

- something that makes a good situation or activity even better

I found a good job and the fact that I can work where I want is the icing on the cake.

piece of cake

- a task that is easily accomplished

The job was a piece of cake. I finished before lunch.

a slice of the cake

- a share of something (money etc.)

The government wants a slice of the cake from the new casinos.

take the cake

- to be the best or worst of something

The behavior of the young girl takes the cake. It is terrible.

Cooking Idioms


as black as a skillet

- very black

The little boy's feet were as black as a skillet.

burn (something) to a crisp

- to burn something very badly

I burned the eggs to a crisp while I was talking on the telephone.

cook (someone's) goose

- to damage or ruin someone

I think that I cooked my goose when I made a mistake at work today.

cook (something) to perfection

- to cook something perfectly

The chef always cooks the food to perfection at his restaurant.

cook (something) up or cook up (something)

- to cook something, to make some kind of plan

I plan to cook up some fish tonight.
I do not know what my girlfriend is cooking up for the weekend but we will probably do something interesting.

cook up a storm

- to prepare a large quantity of food

My friend cooked up a storm for the party.

done to a T

- to be cooked just right (just as one would cook a steak perfectly)

The steaks were done to a T when my friend cooked them on the barbecue.

done to a turn

- to be cooked just right (just as one would cook a steak perfectly)

Everything was done to a turn at the party.

(one's) goose is cooked

- one has been discovered to have done something wrong and is now in trouble, one is finished, one's chances are ruined

I told a lie to my company. Now my goose is cooked and I am in much trouble.

out of the frying pan and into the fire

- to go from something bad to something worse

The woman jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire when she quit her job. Now her problems are much worse.

too many cooks spoil the broth

- too many people trying to do something will cause problems

Too many cooks spoil the broth and having too many people work on the project was making it difficult to do anything.

toss a salad

- to mix a salad with the dressing

I quickly tossed a salad and we ate dinner.

Drink Idioms


Bottoms up!

- everybody should drink now (this expression is used at the end of a drinking toast)

"Bottoms up," our host said at the beginning of the dinner.

coffee break

- a break from work to rest and drink coffee or tea

We usually have a coffee break every morning at 10 o`clock.

cry over spilled/spilt milk

- to cry or complain about something that has already happened

You should not cry over spilled milk. The past is past and you cannot change it.

(not one's) cup of tea

- something that one does not enjoy or do well (usually used in the negative)

Going to art galleries is not my cup of tea so I think that I will stay home this evening.

down the hatch

- swallow something (used for a drink)

My drink was down the hatch before I could order another one.

have a pick-me-up

- to eat or drink something stimulating

I wanted to have a pick-me-up so I stopped for a coffee.

Here's mud in your eye!

- Drink up! (a drinking toast)

"Here's mud in your eye," I said as we drank a toast to my new job.

hit the sauce

- to drink alcohol regularly

I think that my neighbor began to hit the sauce after her husband lost his job.

milk of human kindness

- the natural kindness and sympathy that is shown to others

The woman at the community center is full of the milk of human kindness.

milk (someone) for (something)

- to pressure someone into giving information or money

The man was trying to milk the elderly lady for much of her money.

not for all the tea in China

- not for anything

I will not for all the tea in China lend my friend more money.

wine and dine (someone)

- to treat someone to an expensive meal, to entertain someone in a lavish manner

My uncle often has to wine and dine his important business clients.

Eating Idioms


acquire a taste for something

- to develop a liking for some kind of food or drink or something else

My friend has recently acquired a taste for classical music.

as hungry as a bear

- very hungry

I was as hungry as a bear when I returned home from work yesterday.

at one sitting

- at one time, during one period

We ate most of the cake at one sitting.

binge and purge

- to overeat and then to vomit

The young woman had eating problems. She would often binge and purge her food.

bite off more than one can chew

- to try to do or eat more than you can manage

I bit off more than I can chew when I began to work in the evening.

bite the hand that feeds one

- to harm someone who does good things for you

I do not want to make my company angry because I do not want to bite the hand that feeds me.

bitter pill to swallow

- something unpleasant that one must accept

It was a bitter pill to swallow when I learned that I would not get the new job.

bolt down (something) or bolt (something) down

- to eat something very quickly

The man bolted down his food before going back to work.

can't stomach (someone or something)

- to dislike or hate someone or something

I cannot stomach the idea of meeting my old girlfriend.

clear the table

- to remove the dishes and other eating utensils from a table after eating

We had to clear the table before we could eat our dessert.

Come and get it!

- Dinner is ready. Come and eat.

"Come and get it," my mother called after she made dinner.

eat and run

- to eat a meal and then quickly leave

I had to eat and run in order to be on time for my evening class.

eat crow

- to admit that one is mistaken or defeated, to take back a mistaken statement

I was forced to eat crow and apologize for the things that I said about my coworker.

eat dirt

- to act humble, to accept another person's insults or bad treatment

We made the boy eat dirt after he accused us of lying.

eat high on/off the hog

- to eat expensive and high quality food

My uncle has been eating high on the hog since he got his new job.

eat humble pie

- to be humbled, to admit one`s error and apologize

Our boss was forced to eat humble pie after he made the wrong budget estimate for next year.

eat like a bird

- to eat only a small amount of food

The girl eats like a bird and is very slim.

eat like a horse

- to eat a large amount of food

I usually eat like a horse after I work hard all day.

eat one`s cake and have it too

- to use or spend something and still keep it, to have something both ways

The man refuses to give up anything and he always wants to eat his cake and have it too.

eat one's hat

- to do something extraordinary or special if something that you do not think will happen actually happens (this is always used with if and is used when you are quite certain that something will happen and if it does not happen then you will do something extraordinary or special - like eating your hat)

I do not think that my friend will arrive here on time. If my friend does arrive here on time I will eat my hat.
I do not think that our team will win the game today. If our team does win the game today I will eat my hat.

eat one's heart out

- to be envious of someone or something

I ate my heart out when I saw my friend's new bicycle.

eat one`s words

- to take back something that one has said, to admit that something is not true

I told my boss that I would soon quit my job but later I had to eat my words and tell him that I wanted to stay.

eat out

- to eat a meal in a restaurant

My aunt and uncle eat out often at nice restaurants.

eat out of (someone's) hands

- to do what someone else wants

The young secretary is eating out of the manager's hands.

eat (someone) for breakfast

- to defeat someone easily

The young wrestler was able to eat the older wrestler for breakfast.

eat (someone) out of house and home

- to eat a lot of food in someone's house

The young boy is eating his parents out of house and home.

eat up (something) or eat (something) up

- to enjoy or absorb or appreciate something

The students were eating up the comments by their professor.

eat up (something) or eat (something) up

- to eat everything on your plate

I ate up all my dinner and began my homework.

either feast or famine

- either too much or not enough of something

I usually have too much free time or too little free time. It is either feast or famine.

eyes are bigger than one's stomach

- the amount of food that one takes is greater than what one could possibly eat

My eyes were bigger than my stomach and I took too much food at the buffet dinner.

feed one's face

- to eat

I stopped at a small restaurant after the game to feed my face.

go on a binge

- to eat or do too much of something

My friend went on a binge and ate too much chocolate.

grab a bite to eat

- to eat something (usually quickly)

I will grab a bite to eat after the game today.

have a lot on one's plate

- to have a lot of things to do or deal with

I have a lot on my plate this week and I am very busy.

have a sweet tooth

- to have a desire to eat sweet foods

I have a sweet tooth and I love chocolate.

have a taste for (something)

- to have a desire for a food or drink or something

The opera singer has a taste for classical music.

have one's cake and eat it too

- to use or spend something and still keep it, to have something both ways

I wanted to have my cake and eat it too when I wanted more holidays and more responsibility at work.

make a meal of (something)

- to eat something, to eat one main dish or food as an entire meal

We made a meal of the fish that we caught in the lake.

make one`s mouth water

- to make someone hungry, to make someone want to eat or drink something

The restaurant is wonderful and when I see the menu it makes my mouth water.

make (someone) eat crow

- to cause someone to admit an error or retract a statement

We made our boss eat crow when we discovered the mistake that he made with our work schedule.

meal ticket

- a thing or person that someone uses to get the money that they need to live

The woman's nursing degree is her meal ticket to a flexible and good life.

melt in one's mouth

- to taste very good

The pastry melted in my mouth.

on a diet

- to be trying to lose weight by eating less food

I have been on a diet for two months now.

out to lunch

- to be crazy, to be uninformed

The woman is out to lunch and you should never believe what she tells you.

out to lunch

- to be eating lunch away from one's work

The bank manager was out to lunch when I went to meet him.

pick at (something)

- to eat only little bits of something

The boy is sick and will only pick at his food.

put on the feed bag

- to eat a meal (like a horse would)

We put on the feed bag immediately after we got home.

put on weight or put weight on

- to gain weight

The basketball player is putting on weight.

sink one's teeth into (something)

- to take a bite of some kind of food, to get really involved in something

I am trying hard to sink my teeth into the project at work.

spoon-feed (someone)

- to help someone too much when you are trying to teach him or her something

We had to spoon-feed the new employee who we were teaching about the new computer system.

square meal

- a good filling meal

I was very busy at work last week and I did not have time for a square meal until Saturday.

stick to one's ribs

- to last a long time and to fill one up (used for food)

The meal that my grandmother made stuck to my ribs.

there is no such thing as a free lunch

- you cannot get something without working for it or paying for it

There is no such thing as a free lunch and you must work hard if you want to get something in life.

tuck into (something)

- to eat something with energy and enjoyment

We tucked into our dinner when we sat down at the table.

whet (someone's) appetite

- to cause someone to be interested in something and want to learn more about it

The introduction to playing a musical instrument helped to whet my appetite to learn more about music.

Egg Idioms


bad egg

- a bad person

My neighbor is a bad egg and you should avoid him.

egg (someone) on or egg on (someone)

- to encourage someone to do something (often something bad or wrong or dangerous)

The boys egged their friend on to jump into the water.

good egg

- a good person

The man is a good egg. Everybody likes him a lot.

have egg on one`s face

- to be embarrassed (because of an obvious error)

The man has egg on his face now that he has admitted that he was wrong about his boss.

lay an egg

- to give a bad performance of something

The singer laid an egg during her concert last evening.

put all one's eggs in one basket

- to risk everything at once

I do not want to put all my eggs in one basket and only invest money in real estate.

teach one's grandmother to suck eggs

- to try to tell someone who has more knowledge than you how to do something

I tried to teach my friend about computers but he is a computer expert. It was like teaching my grandmother to suck eggs.

walk on eggshells/eggs

- to be very cautious and careful around someone so that he or she does not become angry

I must walk on eggshells when I ask my boss a question.

you can't make an omelette without breaking the eggs

- you cannot do something without causing some problems or having some effects

"You can't make an omelette without breaking the eggs and if you want to change the work schedules, then you are going to cause problems."

Fish Idioms


fine kettle of fish

- a mess, an unsatisfactory situation

It was a fine kettle of fish for me when I lost the keys to my apartment.

have bigger fish to fry

- to have more important things to do

I have bigger fish to fry and I do not want to do extra work for my company.

neither fish nor fowl

- not in any recognizable category

I could not decide what the animal was. It was neither fish nor fowl.

packed in like sardines

- to be packed in very tightly

The commuters were packed in like sardines in the subway car.

Fruit Idioms


as nutty as a fruitcake

- silly, crazy

The man in the supermarket was as nutty as a fruitcake.

bear fruit

- to yield or give results

The woman's hard work at her business finally began to bear fruit when she started to make money.

forbidden fruit

- something that one finds attractive partly because it is illegal or immoral or prohibited

Entering the old building was forbidden fruit for the young boys.

fruits of one's labor

- the results of one's work

My father is retired now and is finally enjoying the fruits of his labor.

Nut Idioms


everything from soup to nuts

- almost everything that one can think of

We brought everything from soup to nuts for our weekend holiday.

for peanuts

- for very little money, for almost nothing

I was able to buy a used computer for peanuts.

hard nut to crack

- a difficult person or thing to deal with or get to know

My friend is a very serious person and is a very hard nut to crack.

in a nutshell

- briefly, in a few words

We went to the meeting and they told us in a nutshell about the plans for our company.

Pie Idioms


as easy as apple pie

- very easy

The test that I wrote yesterday was as easy as apple pie.

eat humble pie

- to be humbled, to admit one`s error and apologize

Our boss was forced to eat humble pie after he made the wrong budget estimate for next year.

have one's finger in the pie

- to be involved in something

The man has his finger in the pie of many things at his workplace.

have one's finger in too many pies

- to be involved in too many things so that you cannot do any of them well

Our supervisor has her finger in too many pies and she cannot do her job well.

pie in the sky

- an idea or plan that you think will never happen

My cousin's plans are usually pie in the sky and will never happen.

slice of the pie

- a share of something (money etc.)

The government wants a slice of the pie from the new casinos.

Potato Idioms


couch potato

- someone who spends a lot of time on a couch watching television

My cousin is a couch potato and he never wants to leave his house.

drop (someone or something) like a hot potato

- to suddenly stop being involved with someone or with something (usually because you are having problems and do not like him/her/it)

The advertisers dropped the basketball star like a hot potato when he became involved in a scandal.

hot potato

- a question or argument that is controversial and difficult to settle

The issue of building the nuclear power plant is a hot potato for the town council.

meat and potatoes

- basic simple and good food, simple tastes

The man is a meat-and-potatoes person who enjoys the simple pleasures of life.

small potatoes

- something that is not very big or important compared with other things or people

The amount of money for the stadium is small potatoes compared to the total cost of the Olympics.

Salt Idioms


back to the salt mines

- to go back to work (this is a humorous expression to express going back to unpleasant work)

"Lunch is over so let`s go back to the salt mines for the afternoon."

rub salt in (someone's) wound

- to try to make someone's unhappiness or misfortune worse

I did not mention the car accident to my friend because I did not want to rub salt in his wound.

salt of the earth

- good/basic/honest/ordinary people

Our new neighbors are the salt of the earth. They are good, basic, honest people.

salt (something) away or salt away (something)

- to save or gather money or some other item

I am salting away much money from my new job.

take (something) with a grain of salt

- to not take something that someone has said seriously

"You should take everything that the supervisor says with a grain of salt because he likes to exaggerate things."

worth one`s salt

- to be a good worker, to be worth what one is paid

The man has only been working here for a month but quickly he is proving that he is worth his salt.

Soup Idioms


as easy as duck soup

- very easy

It was as easy as duck soup to find the book that I wanted in the library.

as thick as pea soup

- very thick (can be used with fog as well as with liquids)

The fog was as thick as pea soup along the beach.

duck soup

- a task that does not require much effort

"It was like duck soup. I easily finished my school project last night."

everything from soup to nuts

- almost everything that one can think of

We brought everything from soup to nuts for our weekend holiday.

in the soup

- in serious trouble, in a bad situation

The woman is in the soup now. She told her boss that she was sick but he saw her downtown shopping.

soup up (something) or soup (something) up

- to make something faster or more powerful by changing or adding something (this expression is often used for a car)

My neighbor decided to soup up his car.

too many cooks spoil the broth

- too many people trying to do something will cause problems

Too many cooks spoil the broth and having too many people work on the project was making it difficult to do anything.

Stew Idioms


get oneself into a stew over (someone or something)

- to be worried or upset about someone or something

I try not to get myself into a stew over the rude remarks of my supervisor.

in a stew about/over (someone or something)

- to be worried or upset about someone or something

My father is in a stew over the fact that his printer ink has not arrived.

stew in one`s own juice

- to suffer from something that you yourself have caused to happen

The man caused the problem for himself and he must now stew in his own juice.

too many cooks spoil the broth

- too many people trying to do something will cause problems

Too many cooks spoil the broth and having too many people work on the project was making it difficult to do anything.

Idiom Quizzes - Food

    Choose an idiom to replace the expression in the brackets:

  1. The teacher said that the boy was (her favorite).

    (a) polishing the apple (b) a piece of cake (c) out to lunch (d) the apple of her eye



  2. The woman was (very calm) during the job interview.

    (a) as cool as a cucumber (b) in the soup (c) full of beans (d) the cream of the crop



  3. "It is not (something that appeals to me) but I will go to the art gallery with you if you want."

    (a) my bread and butter (b) my duck soup (c) my cup of tea (d) my gravy train



  4. Our boss told everyone that they could have a holiday next week but he later had to (retract what he had said) and cancel it.

    (a) make his mouth water (b) eat his words (c) polish the apple (d) take it with a grain of salt



  5. I explained (briefly) what my friend needed to know but he still was not satisified.

    (a) in a nutshell (b) out of the frying pan and into the fire (c) in the soup (d) as cool as a cucumber



  6. I worked all summer and was able to (save) a lot of money to go back to school.

    (a) butter up (b) egg on (c) take with a grain of salt (d) salt away



  7. The woman is a very good worker and is definitely (being paid what she deserves).

    (a) worth her salt (b) souped up (c) nutty as a fruitcake (d) a hot potato



  8. Please do not (tell anyone) about my plans to get married next year.

    (a) hit the sauce (b) get egg on your face (c) spill the beans (d) eat humble pie



  9. The clerk is always trying to (flatter) his boss in order to get a raise.

    (a) big cheese (b) butter up (c) bread and butter (d) egg on



  10. The toys have been (selling very rapidly) since they were released last month.

    (a) upsetting the applecart (b) selling like hotcakes (c) worth their salt (d) half-baked




  11. I stopped to (chat) with an old friend on my way to work this morning.

    (a) chew the fat (b) eat my words (c) cut the mustard (d) cry over spilt milk




  12. My friend was told that he was not able to (succeed) and could not join the football team again this year.

    (a) bring home the bacon (b) eat crow (c) stew in his own juice (d) cut the mustard




  13. Our neighbor has a lot of stress and recently she has begun to (drink heavily).

    (a) eat her words (b) have egg on her face (c) hit the sauce (d) upset the applecart




  14. The man went (from something bad to something worse) when he got angry and quit his job.

    (a) out of the frying pan and into the fire (b) as cool as a cucumber (c) to cry over spilt milk (d) for peanuts




  15. Passing the exam was (very easy) because I spent a lot of time studying last week.

    (a) the cream of the crop (b) out to lunch (c) in the soup (d) a piece of cake



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