40 Idioms (Common Idiomatic Expressions)





absent-minded: forgetful (distraído)

My grandfather is very absent-minded and often forgets his key. 

all ears: eager to listen to someone
(todo oídos)

Okay, I'm all ears, please tell me about the party. 

all of a sudden: suddenly, without advance warning (repentinamente)

All of a sudden it became cloudy and began to rain. 

beat around the bush: speak indirectly
or evasively (dar vueltas para hacer algo)

Stop beating around the bush and give us your final decision.

behind the times: old fashioned (anticuado)

My aunt is a little behind the times.

blow one's own horn: praise oneself (fanfarronear, hacer alarde)

He is always blowing his own horn and is very annoying at times.

brand new: absolutely new (flamante)

He was finally able to buy a brand-new car.

catch one's eye: attract one's attention (llamar la atención)

I tried to catch her eye but she didn`t notice me.

catch (someone) red-handed: find someone in the middle of doing something wrong (atrapar a alguien con las manos 
en la masa)

The policeman caught the boy red-handed when he was stealing the candy. 

change horses in midstream: make new plans or choose a new leader in the middle of an important activity (cambiar de caballo en la mitad del río)

They decided to change horses in midstream and that is probably why they lost the election.

change (one's) mind: change one`s decision (cambiar de opinión)

He changed his mind and said that he would not go to the movie tonight. 

come across: find something or meet someone by chance (encontrarse repentinamente con algo o alguien)

I came across an interesting story in the newspaper the other day. 

come into fashion: become fashionable (ponerse de moda)

She says that although bell-bottom pants have come into fashion again she will never wear them. 

crocodile tears: a show of sorrow that 
is not really felt (lágrimas de cocodrilo)

He said that he was very sorry but his tears were just crocodile tears

cry over spilt milk: cry or complain about something that has already happened (llorar sobre leche derramada)

Don't cry over spilt milk. You can never change the past.

die out: die or disappear slowly until all gone (desaparecer, extinguirse)

Dinosaurs died out millions of years ago. 

doll up: dress in fancy clothes (emperifollarse, vestirse de moda)

She was all dolled up for the party at the downtown hotel

do without: manage without something (arreglárselas sin algo)

If there is no sugar, we'll have to do without

dressed to the nines (teeth): dressed elegantly (elegantemente vestido, "hasta los dientes")

The stars were all dressed to the nines (teeth) during the Academy Awards ceremony. 

dress up: put on one's best clothes (vestirse formalmente)

He decided to dress up for dinner at the restaurant. 


drop (someone) a line: write or mail a note or letter to someone (escribirle a alguien unas líneas)

She promised that she would drop me a line when she gets to Singapore. 

easy-going: tolerant and relaxed (tolerante, de fácil convivencia)

He has a very easy-going management style.

eat like a bird: eat very little (comer 
como un pajarito)

He eats like a bird. That's why he can`t put on enough weight to join the football team.

eat like a horse: eat a lot (comer como
un caballo)

He eats like a horse but he never puts on any weight. 

eat one's words: admit being wrong in something one has said, retract one's statement (tragarse las palabras)

He was forced to eat his words after his boss proved that he was wrong. 

end up: finish, finally do something (terminar por)

We ended up going to the restaurant after the movie last night.

face the music: accept the consequences of something (enfrentar los problemas)

He is going to have to face the music sooner or later.

fall behind: fail to keep up with work or studies or payments, etc. (atrasarse en el trabajo, estudios, pagos, etc.)

He fell behind with his homework at the beginning of the term and had problems throughout the year. 

fall in love with: begin to love someone (enamorarse de)

I fell in love with her the first time that I saw her at the restaurant.

fed up with: disgusted or bored with someone or something (harto de)

I think that he is getting fed up with the constant demands of his boss. 

figure out: try to understand or solve (entender, darse cuenta)

He finally figured out how to use the new video recorder. 

fit as a fiddle: in good athletic condition 
or health (como un violín)

Her grandfather is 92 years old but he is as fit as a fiddle

fix someone up with someone: help someone get a date by arranging a meeting for the two (arreglar algo con alguien)

I tried to fix my sister up with a date with my friend but she refused me. 

for all the world: for anything, for any price (por nada del mundo)

For all the world I do not know what he is trying to tell me with the notes that he writes

for better or worse: depending on how one looks at the matter, with good or bad effects (para bien o para mal)

For better or worse he has decided to quit his job and go to live in Brazil. 

from hand to hand: from one person to another and another (de mano en mano)

The plate of food went from hand to hand until finally it was all finished. 

from the bottom of one's heart: with great feeling, sincerely (de todo corazón, sinceramente)

I thanked him from the bottom of my heart for helping my daughter when she was sick. 

from now on: from this moment forward (de aquí en más)

From now on I will study Italian every day.

from scratch: from the very beginning 
(de cero, de la nada)

He decided to build the house from scratch

from time to time: occasionally (cada tanto, de vez en cuando)

We go to that restaurant from time to time


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