3 Idioms Per Day Challenge – One Thousand Idioms and Their Meaning
3 Idioms Per Day Challenge – One Thousand Idioms and Their Meaning
This article is something of a personal challenge to myself and something that I have been considering for a few months now. The intention is to publish three idioms per day throughout 2020, hopefully accumulating a minimum of one thousand idiomatic expressions during this time.
One Thousand Idioms From Three New Entries Per Day
The Rules of the Game
Three rules will determine the success of this personal challenge:
- Achieve a minimum of one thousand unique idioms by the end of 2020.
- In any one month, no more than two instances of 2 elapsed days without an idiom update.
- Idioms added to this challenge will, wherever possible, be relevant to the day, week, month, or season on which that day falls.
Rule two is an acceptance that as with any writing task, life sometimes gets in the way. It would have been possible to only state three per day, but this would have been setting myself up for failure from the outset.
- New idioms added will be listed at the top of the article for ease of finding.
- Idioms are to be added in reverse chronological order; as each week passes, they will be re-grouped in weekly or monthly subheadings.
Why Chose Idioms?
The answer is quite simple; I love them. These expressions have always held a fascination for me. But more than this, I am hoping that the challenge inspires me to find the time each day to add new content, and by the end of the year, if nothing else, I will have accumulated a resource bucket-full of idioms that can be a source of material for future articles.
Reader Poll - Can or Can't the Idiom Challenge be Completed?
What is your your verdict on whether or not the objective of this challenge can be delivered?
Definition of an Idiom:
"A group of words in a fixed order that have a particular meaning that is different from the meanings of each word on its own."— Source: Cambridge Dictionary
One Thousand Idioms Challenge - Progress Update
An update on the idiom challenge:
- Target Days: 52
- Target Idiom Count: 156
- Actual Idioms Published: 156
- Elevator Music
Pleasant, but otherwise mundane background music. The type of music played in public places.
- Music to my Ears
Meaning: to hear something welcoming. Often said in response to hearing good news.
- Strike a Chord
Meaning: to suggest that something is familiar or has a connection with you.
- To Call the Tune
To be the person making the decisions.
- To Beat the Drum
To speak up in favour of something.
- Chin Music
- Siren Song
Said when something is seductive or appealing.
- A Song in Your Heart
Meaning: to have an intense feeling of happiness.
- On Song
Said of a person who is functioning exceptionally well.
- Go for a Song
Meaning: when something has been sold too cheaply.
- Sell for a Song
A variation on the idiom above. Meaning to sell something for far less than its real value.
- A Swan Song
Meaning: a final performance. Often said pre-retirement.
- Lie Low and Sing Small
Said of someone who is attempting to remain inconspicuous.
- Sing up a Storm
To sing with enthusiasm.
- Sing Someone’s Praises
To speak very highly of a person.
- Sing off the Same Song Sheet
Meaning: when two or more people share the same view on a subject.
- Sing a Different Song
Meaning: when a person suddenly changes their opinion on a subject.
- Sing Like a Canary
Meaning: to inform on another person, usually to the police.
On this day in 1991, the English singer-songwriter, Ed Sheeran, was born.
- All Singing, All Dancing
Meaning: that something is very advanced. Usually said regarding a new technological innovation.
- To Sing a Different Tune
Describes a situation where a person unexpectedly changes their behavior or opinions.
- To Sing Someone’s Praises
To speak very highly of someone.
On this day in 1958, Ice-T, the famous musician, Rapper and actor, was born.
- To Take the Rap
To be blamed for the misdeed of another person.
- Rap Session
A discussion between two or more persons.
- Rap on the Knuckles
A sudden, minor punishment, meant to be given as a warning.
These Idioms are Flooding In Now
Today Great Britain, being battered by the second storm in as many weeks, reminds me of these idioms.
- Be in Full Flood
This particular idiom has two potential meanings:
- To describe a river overflowing its banks.
- To describe a situation where a person is going flat out with a task.
- Flood the Market
A situation where a product or service is available in large quantities.
- Flood Out
To say that something is rushing from one place to another.
Love is in the Air - Idioms for Your Valentine
Today is Valentine’s Day.
- Love at First Sight
To say that you fell in love with a person from the moment you first saw them.
- Those Three Little Words
A way to say “I Love You” without having to actually say the words.
- Look at Those Lovebirds
To say that a couple are clearly in love.
Those Three Little Words
Today is World Radio Day.
- Tuned in.
Meaning: aware or responsive to a situation
- On the Air
To be on air – to be broadcasting.
- A Great Face for Radio
To suggest that a person may not be the best looking person there is.
I've Landed on my Feet With These Idioms
On this day in 1881, Anna Pavlova, the famous Russian prima Ballerina, was born.
- Twinkle Toes
An idiom indicating that a person is light and agile on their feet.
- To Dance on Air
To be happy and joyous.
- To Land on One’s Feet
To have good fortune.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention - Idiom
This day sees the celebration of Inventors Day in the United States.
- Don’t Invent Gunpowder
To suggest that you should not do anything significant.
- To Reinvent the Wheel
To do something again from the beginning.
- Necessity is the Mother of Invention
A pressing need often leads to creative solutions.
This May Well Put the Cat Among the Pigeons
I was reminded today by my eldest son that his racing pigeons are hatching their next brood.
- To put the Cat Among the Pigeon’s
To do something that may cause controversy or alarm.
To be very drunk.
- Clay Pigeon
To describe a person who is easy to deceive.
Today in 2018 marked the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
- Skate on Thin Ice
To do something risky or take a chance.
- Call the Shots
To make the important decisions.
- In a League of Your Own
To say that someone is better than the rest.
I Propose These Idioms
Today observes Propose Day and is a day to propose to your significant other.
- To Propose a Toast
To raise a glass and propose a toast to a person or significant event.
- A Match Made in Heaven
To be perfectly suited to each other.
- He Popped the Question
To say he proposed marriage.
Idioms - As Fresh as a Daisy
Here in the UK, Daffodils are starting to bloom. These hardy little plants are often the first flowers to react to slightly warming days and carpet the verges and gardens with their bright yellow flowers. A reminder that Spring is on its way.
- Hearts and Flowers
A phrase used to say that something is sentimental (often excessively so).
- Flower Children
Said about the Hippies of the 1960s who often wore flowers as a way of expressing love and peace.
- As Fresh as a Daisy
To be full of energy.
Phrases With Broad Appeal
Today is Ronald Reagan Day in California, and it set me thinking of idioms of a political nature.
Suggests that a candidate is a likely leader in a race or a political poll.
- To Flip Flop
A saying that indicates that a person has a sudden change of mind on a subject or viewpoint.
- Broad Appeal
Suggests that a person holds views that appeal to a broad audience.
Earth Shattering Sayings
On this day in AD 862, There was an earthquake in Pompeii.
- To Quake in One’s Boots
Often said in a sarcastic tone. To shake or tremble in fear.
- Shake Like a Leaf
An idiom meaning to tremble with fear.
Surprising and significant news.
Today marks mid-winter in the northern hemisphere.
- The Snowball Effect
This idiom describes a situation where the impact becomes greater and more significant over time.
- Snowed Under
To be overwhelmed by a task or work.
- Freeze Someone Out
Meaning: to isolate someone out of a social gathering.
The Wind of Change is Blowing
On this day in 1960, the British Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan, gave a statement that became known as the “wind of change” speech, signaling the beginning of the end of British Colonialism.
- The Winds of Change
An idiom used to describe an event that precipitates significant change.
- It’s an Ill Wind
A phrase used to describe a situation where someone’s misfortune has led to a favourable outcome for some else.
- Go Like The Wind
Meaning: To move, very quickly.
It's Groundhog Day - You May Have Seen These Before
Today is Groundhog Day in the United States and Canada.
- Groundhog Day
Describes an event that has happened before in exactly the same way.
- Change the Record
To tell a person that they should stop going on about something repeatedly.
- You Sound Like a Broken Record
To tell someone that they should stop going on and on about something.
This day marks the observance of National Freedom Day in the United States. It celebrates the signing of a resolution by Abraham Lincoln that went on to be the 13th Amendment which outlawed slavery.
- To Slave Over
To spend a great deal of time working on something, often without a break.
- Slave Away
To work strenuously and continuously on something.
- Slave Market
This idiom describes job interviews where prospective employees see many candidates.
93 Idioms and Phrases - An Absolute Pillar of Strength
January's contribution to the Idiom Challenge.
Today at 11 pm, the United Kingdom formally leaves the European Union. These Idioms focus on the reclaimed independence that this day marks.
- To Stand on One’s Own Two Feet
A statement that means that a person is independent and able to take care of themselves.
- A-Pillar of Strength
To say that a person is strong and independent.
- Freedom of Maneuver
This idiom suggests that a person can make their own decisions or to change something.
Today marks the 77th birthday of Tony Blackburn, the English Disc Jockey who rose to fame in the 1960's when he was a DJ on the pirate station Radio Caroline.
- Tune In
To watch or listen to a broadcast.
- Like a Broken Record
To say that a person is repeating themselves over and over again.
- Music to My Ears
To receive good news.
On this day in 1880, W.C. Fields, the famous American actor, and comedian was born.
- Comedy of Errors
A series of comical errors or blunders, leading to an absurd situation.
- Cut the Comedy
A way to say that a person should stop fooling around.
- Beyond a Joke
To suggest that a situation has become alarming or of great concern.
On this day in 1916, the British Government introduced conscription in the United Kingdom.
- Rank and File
This idiom refers to foot-soldiers and draws its origin from the marching and standing formations of soldiers.
- Awkward Squad
Originated with inept military recruits. Today, this phrase describes a group of employees who act in a disruptive way.
- Boots on the Ground
Meaning: to have troops in operation dealing with an issue.
On this day in 1880, Thomas Edison had the patent confirmed for his incandescent lamp. The world would never be quite as dark again.
- Light Bulb Moment
To suggest that you have had a sudden thought that provides a solution to a problem. It was as if a light was switched on, suddenly revealing the answer.
- Guiding Light
Suggesting that a person is an inspiration to others.
- A Leading Light
A person who is respected and considered necessary within a group or team.
Idioms About Australia - Sun and Scouts
Today marks Australia Day. To commemorate this day, I have included three idioms of Australian nature.
- Kangaroo Court
An unofficial court. A place where a person is unlikely to receive a fair hearing.
- A Dingos' Breakfast
An idiom that means that you have received no breakfast at all.
- Mad as a Cut Snake
To be crazy or out of control.
All the idioms under the sun:
On this day in 1977, France opened its first solar plant.
- Catch the Sun
An idiom that suggests that you are sunburned.
- Everything Under the Sun
To say you want or have everything that there is possible to have.
- Sun Worshipper
A person who enjoys being in the sunshine.
Dib Dib Dib - Dob Dob Dob - Do Your Best With These Scouting Idioms
On this day in 1908, Lord Baden- Powell organised the first Boy Scout Troop in England.
Thoughts of Scouting brings back many memories of my younger days in the Cubs.
- Scout’s Honour
An oath taken to be honest and to uphold a promise made.
- Scout Out
To check something out to make a preliminary inspection of something or surroundings.
- A Good Scout
To say a person is honest, trustworthy, and reliable.
We Promise To Do Our Best
Just Bowled Over by These Idioms
Here in Great Britain, the World Indoor Bowls Championship is in full swing and this set me thinking of idioms to mark the event.
- Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries
A way to express that all is good or very pleasant.
- Bowl Over
Describes the act of colliding with something with sufficient force that it causes it to fall to the ground.
- A Goldfish Bowl
To say that you have no privacy, that everything is in public view.
This day in 1998, Space Shuttle Endeavour launched to meet dock with the Russian Space Station Mir.
- Shuttle Diplomacy
The act of going back and forwards between two disputing parties who refuse to discuss/negotiate directly with each other.
- To Shuttle Around
To transport or move something around between places or events.
- Endeavour to do Something
To attempt to accomplish something.
Today marks the observance of Flag Day in the province of Quebec. This flag is also called the Fleurdelisé (the Lily-flower).
- To Fly the Flag
To defend something or to support its cause.
- To Raise a Red Flag
To signal danger or impending trouble.
- To Put the Flags Out
To express pleasant surprise.
This day in the calendar marks the cusp between two signs of the horoscope (Capricorn and Aquarius). The cusp being the imaginary line between the two astrological signs.
- On the Cusp
To be on the verge or edge of something (usually something significant).
- Begin to See the Light
The moment when a person begins to understand something that had previously confused them.
- The Beginning of the End
The moment when something has begun to draw to a close.
Space Shuttle Endeavour
Week Three - Idioms About Poetry, Prayer, Forever, Nothing, Rock and Roll and Football
Today marks the birth of famous writer and poet, Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849).
- Poetic Licence
An idiom that suggests an outcome or verdict is of unusually just or ironic.
- Poetry in Motion
A way to say that something is lovely to observe, perfect or very elegant.
- Wax Poetic
To talk about something in a poetic manner.
Today is the start of the Week of Pray for Christian Humanity.
- To Pray Over
To utter prayers in the belief or hope that you will receive guidance or solace.
- On a Wing and a Prayer
To perform something with what seems like little hope of success.
- Not Have a Prayer
To say that it is inconceivable that the task at hand can succeed.
On this day in 2007, the Doomsday Clock was set to five minutes to midnight as a result of North Korea’s nuclear testing. The Doomsday Clock is a symbolic device to demonstrate the likely-hood of a human-made catastrophic device.
- Until Doomsday
Meaning: for a very long time. Forever.
- Forever and a Day
- Lost and Gone Forever
Meaning: to have no chance of being recovered.
Week Three Idioms Continued
Today is National Nothing Day in the United States. Perhaps like me, you have previously heard nothing about this day. It first came into being in 1973 and while it is not a recognized public holiday, it does have its followers who celebrate the act of sitting, relaxing, and doing nothing at all.
- A Fuss About Nothing
To suggest that a person is making a fuss, or becoming agitated and stressed over something totally unimportant.
- Double or Nothing
Said when doubling down on a wager.
- Nothing Doing!
Meaning: no way. Not a chance. Under no circumstances.
On this day in 1929, Martin Luther King Jr was born. Here are idioms that he used within his famous ”I have a dream” speech:
- Blow off Steam
To give voice to your discontent.
- Tied Up
To suggest that something is linked or tied to another.
- Business as Usual
To suggest that something has returned to its normal state.
On this day in 1973, Elvis Presley broadcast the show “Aloha from Hawaii.” The show was a live broadcast and it set the record for the most-watched program of a single entertainer in television history.
- Elvis Has Just Left the Building
Said when a person has either about to leave or has just left a room. Usually mentioned when the person concerned has gone dramatically.
- Let’s Rock and Roll
To say that we should get on and do something. Let’s do this.
- The New Rock and Roll
Describes a trend that is considered cool. Often short-lived
A plethora of sporting stars were born on this day of the year. Among them are many footballers.
- To Move the Goalposts
Said when unfairly changing the rules mid-game or mid-task.
- A Political Football
Meaning: that something is a long-running issue or controversial.
- To Score an Own Goal
Suggesting that a person has spoiled an outcome for themselves. Often associated with a person or organization not understanding the tue impacts before introducing a new task or policy.
More Expressions From the Idiom Challenge
- Cold Comfort
To say that something carried out with the intention of providing solace has failed.
- Comfort Zone
When something is within your control, or you feel comfortable with a situation, then this is often described as being within your comfort zone.
- Too Close for Comfort
Describes a situation where an accident or unintended adverse consequence almost happened.
Fred Archer (English jockey) born on this day in 1857. Fred, perhaps the greatest ever race rider, was Champion Jockey for 13 consecutive years. Here are three idioms, including the word “Jockey.”
- Jockey for Position
To describe the act of getting oneself into a desired position.
- Disc Jockey
A person who selects and plays music for a gathering of people, usually at a party or celebratory event.
- Desk Jockey
Someone who spends the majority of their working day at a desk or in an office.
This day in the calendar is known as Margaret Thatcher Day in the Falkland Islands. This day commemorates the Falkland Conflict, which lasted for ten weeks in 1982. At that time, Margaret Thatcher was the British Prime Minister.
- Thatcher’s Children
An idiom used to describe the generation who grew up during Margaret Thatcher's time as Prime Minister.
- To Gain Traction
To gather the support needed for the progression of an argument or point of view.
- Political Expediency
Used to describe a quick action that aims to resolve a pressing or urgent problem. Often said in a negative sense as this speedy solution often fails to address the underlying issues behind an obstacle.
The cold still persists and many of us are beginning to welcome warmer days ahead.
- Cold Comfort
Said when something is of little consolation.
- In Cold Blood
Meaning: an act performed without mercy or feeling.
- To Have Cold Feet
To be timid or hesitant about doing something.
Week 2 Idioms Continued
On this day in 1994, Russian cosmonaut left to join space station Mir. He remained there for a record-breaking 437 days.
- Come Back Down to Earth
Meaning: to come back to reality. To stop doing something fun and enjoyable and to turn your attention to more urgent tasks.
- Over The Moon
To be very happy about something.
- Space Out
To be distracted by something. Often said when someone is preoccupied or unfocused on the task in hand.
As the new year gets underway, people return to work, children return to school, and life returns to normal, it is sometimes easy to forget that we are still under the influence of winter. Indeed, here in the UK, weather forecasts are for an impending period of snow. With this in mind, here are three winter season idioms.
- Walking on Thin Ice
To do something risky or dangerous.
- Tip of the Iceberg
To see only a tiny portion of the actual underlying problem.
- Snowed Under
To be so busy (usually at work) that you don’t know where to begin.
Joan of Arc (French Martyr and Saint) was born on this day in 1412.
- The Patience of a Saint
To demonstrate an incredible amount of patience in difficult or trying circumstances.
Example: “The kids were screaming at each other. The dog was Barking at the din and the telephone kept ringing. But she showed the patience of a Saint, didn’t let it all get to her and eventually calmed them all down.”
- Enough to Plague a Saint
A situation so trying that even a Saint would have their patience severely tested.
- He is No Saint
Said of someone who attempts to show themselves full of virtue or good behaviour, but who has a sordid or discredited past.
This Idiom Challenge is a Turkey Shoot
January 5th is National Bird Day (United States).
At this time of year, the first bird that came to mind was a Turkey. From that point on, it was inevitable that today’s three idioms have a Turkey bird theme—sorry!
- What a Turkey
An idiom used to describe an annoying person.
Example: “That guy keeps butting in on our conversation. What a turkey!”
- Turkey Shoot
A one-sided competition.
Example: “Our team under-performed and the other side was amazing. It was like a turkey shoot.”
- Poor as Jobs Turkey
To be very poor. A reference to the character Job in the Bible.
This day is the birth date of Sir Isaac Newton (1643). The Mathematician and Physicist famously remembered for his discovery of gravity. I always associate this historical character with the apple that he is said to of observed falling from a tree, and which gave rise to his discovery.
- One Smart Apple
An idiom said when describing an intelligent or smart person. Isaac Newton was undoubtedly one smart apple.
- Left Out in the Cold
To be neglected or ignored.
Example: “Alex made a significant contribution to the team’s success. But when the time came to appoint a new manager, he was passed over without even being given an interview. They just left him out in the cold.”
- To Freeze Someone Out
To exclude or reject a person from a group or event.
January 3rd is the day of the year most effected by the Perihelion. A term given to the day the Earth’s orbit brings us closest to the Sun.
- A Place in The Sun
This idiom refers to something good or desirable. Usually refers to a person who has achieved a goal for which they have struggled or worked for over a prolonged period.
Example: “She committed 15 years of her life to that project before it finally paid dividends. She deserves her place in the sun.”
There is a similar idiom to the above in:
- His/Her Day in The Sun.
Meaning that a person has reaped the reward for their efforts and that they are now getting the attention they deserve.
Example: “He was made a Knight in the New Year’s honour list. An acknowledgment well deserved. He is now having his day in the sun.”
- Burning The Candle At Both Ends
To be wantonly extravagant. Also used to describe a person who gets up early and stays up late, often exhausting themselves.
So why the reference to a candle burning at both ends? We all know that candles can only be lit at one end. However, this was not always the case. In the book: “A Pig In A Poke,” the author describes how Tallow candles were in use as early as the 15th century. They were made from animal fat and usually had a rush wick protruding from either end. These candles could be burnt from both ends simultaneously, although this was considered extravagant, and that someone who did so would be accused of being “a candle waster.”
The new year is underway. But celebrations are still not quite over.
- A Night On The Town
An idiom often used to describe a night of celebration. Scotland celebrates the New Year (Hogmanay) over two days starting on January 1st and 2nd. Scotland is the only United Kingdom nation that has a public holiday on the second day of January to facilitate the Hogmanay celebrations.
- Year In, Year Out
A way of saying that something is repeatedly happening over a prolonged time-span.
Example: “Year in, year out, my neighbour walks his dogs past my garden at precisely 8 o’clock every morning.”
- Day In, Day Out
This idiom has many similarities with the above expression and is a way to say that something occurs every day without interruption. This phrase has been traced back to a book published in 1828.
January is a time of new beginnings, optimism, and hope for the future.
- Out With The Old and In With The New
This idiom is encapsulating the emotions brought on by the ending of a year and the beginnings of a new one.
Example: “2019 was a tough year. I have decided to put that all behind me and look for new prospects and to improve my situation – out with the old, and in with the new.”
- To Ring in the New Year
Describes the celebrations as the clock strikes midnight on the last day of December and the start of January each year.
- To Start From Scratch
Meaning: to begin something or to start a project from nothing.
Example sentence: “This new business venture has such great potential, I have few resources with which to get it going, I am starting from scratch.”