Quick English: Body Idioms

Both American and British English use many casual phrases, or idioms, that use body parts to explain ideas. Usually these phrases don’t have anything to do with the body, but the idioms express thoughts in quick, easy ways.

However, no idiom is easy if you don’t know what it means! Read on for some of the most common English idioms using body parts. For some visual examples check out our fun body idioms illustration!

to keep at arm’s length:  to avoid being connected to someone or something

I didn’t trust her, so I kept her at arm’s length.

on the tip of my tongue:  to be almost able to remember or expressed

His name was on the tip of my tongue, but I needed to ask him.

to pick someone’s brain:  to talk with someone to find out information from them

Jon is very good at math, so I picked his brain about a homework problem.

off the top of my head:  information offered quickly, without research or calculation

Off the top of my head, I remember 11 people on the guest list.

to cost an arm and a leg: to be very expensive

That shirt from Hermes costs an arm and a leg!

to stick one’s neck out: to take a risk

I stuck my neck out when I bought that antique rug. I hope it's worth more money later on! 

get something off one’s chest: to tell someone your problems or frustrations

Thanks for listening to me complain about my brother. I needed to get it off my chest.

give someone a hand (with something):  to help someone

Can you give me a hand with this box? It’s too heavy to carry on my own.

keep your chin up: to try to stay positive when things seem negative

Keep your chin up! Things will get better soon.

like pulling teeth:  to be very difficult

Getting Bobby to clean his room is like pulling teeth.

Can you think of any other body part idioms? Have these ever confused you? Tell us below!

Image: Kari_Marie – C.C. License 2.0]

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