Animal Idioms

Idioms are used all the time in every day English. When you’re learning English, it helps to have a good understanding of the words and phrases that you come across during your studies. That’s why this week, we’ve decided to take a closer look at some of our favorite animal idioms, featuring the furry, the cuddly, and the not-so-fuzzy creatures we all love.

Take a look and see which ones you’ve seen before and which ones are entirely new to you, then challenge yourself to incorporate them into your every day English. Have you seen any of these before? Take a look!


Black sheep

black animal idiom

Meaning: This term is usually used to describe an odd member of a group. It could be used to refer to a person who is considered bad by the rest of their family.


Cat got your tongue?

cat animal idiom

Meaning: This is said when someone is being unusually quiet. If someone asked you this question, they are really asking, “why aren’t you saying anything?”


Elephant in the room

elephant animal idiom

Meaning: If someone mentioned an “elephant in the room,” what they are really referring to is a very obvious problem. It is usually something that everyone is aware of, but that no one wants to mention because it is uncomfortable.


Hold your horses

horses animal idiom

Meaning: This idiom is another common way of telling someone to wait or slow down. If a person is jumping into something too quickly, you would use this idiom to suggest that they wait.


In the dog house

dog animal idiom

Meaning: If someone is “in the dog house,” then they are in trouble or someone is upset with them.


Monkey business

monkey animal idiom

Meaning: This phrase refers to silly behaviour or dishonest tricks. It’s usually used when asking someone to stop being childish and start being serious.


Rat race

rat animal idiom

Meaning: A “rat race” is a fierce competition for success or wealth. It is usually used when referring to work situation.


Test your knowledge

How many of these idioms do you think you can use correctly in your everyday English? Take our quiz and see how well you do!



Did any of these idioms surprise you? Have you heard of any others? Let us know in the comments below.

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