5 Simple English Animal Idioms

Animals often provide inspiration for idioms and expressions. Idioms make your writing come alive and animal idioms are a special class of idioms that people might be able to relate to especially easily, because of the nature of animals. For example, dogs are man’s best friend, and we often think of dogs with characteristic qualities such as being friendly, donkeys as being stubborn, parrots as talkative, pigs as lazy.... even the physical qualities of animals can provide inspiration for language or idiomatic expressions - like the long neck of the giraffe, long legs of the ostrich, large size of the whale....

In this hub, I will share 5 common and simple idioms that drew reference to animals.


1. A dog with two tails

Dogs wag their tails when they are feeling happy, friendly, welcoming. What about a dog with two tails? It must so excited and happy. This idiom describes someone who displays exceeding excitement, happiness and pride because of some special occasion or achievement.

Examples of the idiom ‘a dog with two tails’:

  1. After James won a million dollars on the reality show, he was like a dog with two tails.
  2. Michelle was so delighted and proud, just like a dog with two tails when she found out that she has been chosen to represent her school in the sports competition.
  3. Since receiving a job promotion, Mark has been like a dog with two tails, telling everyone about the good news.

2. A bull in a china shop

A china shop refers to a shop selling ceramic ware, not a shop in China. China ware is fragile and easily broken. Bulls are associated with violence and anger. If a bull entered a china shop, it would spell disaster and create a huge mess. Thus this idiom describes a clumsy or tactless person.

Examples of the idiom ‘a bull in a china shop’:

  1. Matt is like a bull in a china shop during our project meetings, he is neither patient nor diplomatic when dealing with the opinions and ideas of the group members.
  2. My little cousin has just figured out how to run, seeing him exploring the toy shop reminds my of a bull in a china shop.
  3. Sometimes, when Linda is in a bad mood, she can get rather abrasive, and her behavior can be like a bull in a china shop.

3. A cat on hot bricks

A cat on hot bricks describes someone who is tense, restless, excited or nervous. It is a little hard to imagine, but hot bricks are really hard to walk on. If you imagine cats, they seem to have this air of confidence and unshakability all the time. A cat walking on hot bricks paints the opposite picture of a typical cat curled up on comfy silk cushions or striding across the living room.

Examples of the idiom ‘a cat on hot bricks’:

  1. Just before her senior recital, Jill was so nervous like a cat on hot bricks.
  2. It was my first trip to the dentist, and I felt like a cat on hot bricks.
  3. If you had to walk on a stony path without wearing any shoes, you’d feel nervous like a cat on hot bricks.

4. A flea market

It a little hard to draw the link to fleas, but a flea market market refers to a place that sells second hand items or antique items.

Examples of the idiom ‘a flea market’:

  1. I bought this retro dress from a flea market.
  2. I didn’t expect to find such an interesting antique vase at the flea market.
  3. At a flea market, you can expect to find good second hand goods at an affordable price.

5. A frog in one’s throat

This refers to the moments when we are unable to speak because of phlegm or mucus in the throat.

Examples of the idiom ‘a frog in one’s throat’:

  1. Tim had to clear his throat mid-sentence because there was a frog in his throat.
  2. While the teacher was giving her class, she interrupted her lesson and said ‘excuse me, I need to clear my throat as there is a frog in my throat.’
  3. Whenever there is a frog in my throat, my voice gets a little hoarse and I feel like drinking water.

Do you know more idioms? Leave a comment at the bottom!

More by this Author

Comments 28 comments

profile image

marellen 5 years ago

Here is one: Fraidy Cat or Scaredy cat...a person who is skittish or fearful.

Fun hub and voted up.....

Charlotte B Plum profile image

Charlotte B Plum 5 years ago Author

Hey marellen!

oh yeah I forgot about that idiom, but we use it so often!

Thanks for reading and for your vote! =)

Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

I enjoyed these and would like to hear more from you about idiomatic speech and cliché. Voted up and interesting. TY for commenting on my Hub...now following you. :)

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

In my neck of the woods, it's always been "like a cat on a hot tin roof", not hot bricks. ;D

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago

As a kid, I used to have to learn English idioms for my English class (English being my 2nd language) and I come from a country colonized by the English. This brings back memories. Thanks and rated up.

Charlotte B Plum profile image

Charlotte B Plum 5 years ago Author

Hey Sally,

Thank you for the comment and the follow too! I should write more hubs about these idiomatic expressions!

Charlotte B Plum profile image

Charlotte B Plum 5 years ago Author

Hey JamaGenee,

I've never heard of the hot tin roof version! Thanks for sharing that with me. =) It seems that there are a few versions going around? Thanks so much for dropping by!

Charlotte B Plum profile image

Charlotte B Plum 5 years ago Author

Hey anglnwu,

This brought back memories for you? it did for me too! trying to recall all these expressions that I learned as a kid made me realise how little I use them today! Thanks for dropping by!

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

I have used these idioms most of my life. They seem to get the point across quite well. This hub is a wonderful review. You have given an excellent example of the uses of idioms. Rated UP!

gryphin423 profile image

gryphin423 5 years ago from Florida

Hi Charlotte! How about "gruff as a bear"

Alex is as gruff as a bear in the morning before he has had his first cup of joe.

Liked the hub, voted up!

Eric von Slyke 5 years ago

Here's another: "Your mother hops from one bed to the next like a rabbit in heat."

Madeline Gibney 5 years ago

"He's hung like a horse!"

D'Shawn Jackson 5 years ago

For a real sexy dancer: "She done got a moose on the loose in her caboose."

Rod Oliver 5 years ago

"A dog's life."

-- Depends on the circumstances. Either: Cared for and sheltered, allowed to sleep in the shade under trees all day or repeatedly kicked in the ribs and made to eat crap; or a mixture of the two, possibly more.

Andrew Jackson Lee 5 years ago

"Well shoot my dog if that don't take the cake!"

Tony Veneer 5 years ago

"What a dog!" Or, "Who let that bow-wow out of the pound!"

Maria Escuela-Ortiz 5 years ago

"The cat's meow." ...."You're barking up the wrong tree."

fornalina profile image

fornalina 5 years ago from Poznan, Poland

This Hub is really useful and will definitely help to improve my English.

What is interesting is that in Polish there is a similar idiom to "A bull in a china shop". We don't say "bull" but "elephant".

Iris 5 years ago

fornalina - That's interesting. In my family, whenever we go into a china shop, we almost always wind up saying, "A kid in a china shop." What we actually say is, "I thought you were watching the kid! I'm not paying for that!" And since a "kid" is also the term for some kind of animal, I guess that's pretty close to an animal idiom.

Pete Moss 5 years ago

Common Animal Idioms: CATS: Meow! DOGS: Woof-Woof! HORSES: Naaaay! COWS: Mooooo! BIRDS: Tweet-Tweet! FROGS: Ribbit! RABBITS: ____! LIONS: You're-A-Deadman- Sucka!

htodd profile image

htodd 5 years ago from United States

These Animal idioms are really great

Benoitsmidget profile image

Benoitsmidget 5 years ago from Boston

We can't forget that it's a dog-eat-dog world out there :)

GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

Raining cats and dogs.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

An elephant never forgets.

Dawn O'Day 5 years ago

A two-headed snake.

A dog chasing its own tail.

A silly-puppy.

imamkrate profile image

imamkrate 5 years ago from Dubai

thanx i like them

mebeth profile image

mebeth 4 years ago from Connecticut

Thanks! Idioms are a lot of fun!

JOHN 4 years ago


theidioms profile image

theidioms 3 years ago from Birmingham, United Kingdom

Very nice collection, I loved it, my favorite idioms are: "raining cats and dogs" and "A dog with two tails".


Lilly, UK,


    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article