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Vocabulary Books

Idioms and Sayings About Food

Image Idiom Explanation
apple

"... apple of ..... eye."

For example:

"She was the apple of his eye."

Someone that one likes a lot.

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away."

For example:

"The doctor told her to eat more fresh fruit, after all an apple a day keeps the doctor away."

Eating fruit is good/healthy for you.

bacon

"Bring home the bacon."

For example:

"He felt it was his responsibility to bring home the bacon."

To earn a living for the family.

Bean

"A bean counter."

For example:-

"Even though they had made a profit, they laid people off, because the bean counters told them they would make more money."

An accountant.

 

"To be full of beans."

For example:-

"They couldn't get to sleep because they were full of beans."

To have lots of energy.

 

"To spill the beans."

For example:-

"Obviously they would have spilt the beans if they had known."

To disclose something confidential.

breadbutter

"Bread and butter."

For example:

"He was talking about bread and butter issues."

Basic needs of life (food,shelter,clothing).

Bun

To have a bun in the oven.

For example:-

I didn't know whether she had a bun in the oven, or she'd just put on weight.

To be pregnant.

butter

To be a butterfingers.

For example:-

He had the ball, but he dropped it! What a butterfingers!

Somebody who often drops things

 

Butter someone up.

For example:

"He was always buttering up the boss hoping for promotion."

To flatter someone to try to get their favor or friendship.

 

Butter wouldn't melt in his / her mouth.

For example:-

"No one ever thought she was naughty, she always looked as if butter wouldn't melt in her mouth."

If butter wouldn't melt in someone's mouth, they look as if they would never do anything wrong although you think they would.

cake

"A piece of cake."

For example:

"She knew she had passed the English exam, it was a piece of cake."

To find something easy to do.

"The icing on the cake."

For example:

"I was happy to pass the exam, the high mark was just the icing on the cake."

Something nice that is added to something else that is already good.

"to sell like hot cakes."

For example:

"The new Spice Girls' album sold like hot cakes."

To sell quickly or rapidly.

cheese

"A big cheese"

For example:

"Anita Roddick was the big cheese at the Body Shop."

An important person, a leader (usually about business).

 

"Chalk and cheese"

For example:

"I'm not surprised they're getting divorced, they were always chalk and cheese."

To be the complete opposite of someone.

cherries

"Another bite at the cherry."

For example:

"Frank got another bite at the cherry when he resat his exams."

To be given a another chance of doing or getting something.

 

"To cherry-pick."

For example:-

Grammar schools often get accused of cherry-picking the best pupils.

To choose only the best people or things in a way that is not fair.

Cooking

What's cooking?

For example:

A: Hey guys! What's cooking?
B: Nothing much. Same old, same old.

What's happening?

cucumber

"As cool as a cucumber."

For example:

"Although he was driving at 110 mph James Bond was as cool as a cucumber."

To remain calm under pressure.

custard

"A cowardy custard."

For example:

Me: "I'm scared of spiders."
Hubby: "They're only little! Don't be such a cowardy custard."

A way of saying someone is a coward. Maybe because custard is yellow.

egg

"A bad egg."

For example:

"He never phoned his mother. He was a bad egg."

A bad person, to be avoided.

"Egg .... on."

For example:

"He was always in trouble at school, his class mates always egged him on."

To urge someone to do something (usually negative).

"Have egg on one's face."

For example:

"He ended up with egg on his face, when she found out he had been lying."

To be caught out or embarrassed.

"You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs."

For example:

"He worked so hard to make the company a success it made him ill, but you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs."

To do something to the detriment of something else.

 

"To over egg the pudding."

For example:

Heather Mills was accused “over-egging the pudding” in a bid to secure a larger divorce settlement.

To exaggerate or to ruin something by trying too hard to improve it.

 

"To put all your eggs in one basket"

For example:

"You shouldn't invest all your money in Microsoft, it would be like putting all your eggs in one basket."

To risk everything on one person or thing.

 

"To walk on eggshells."

For example:-

Everyone in the family had to walk on eggshells when he was in a bad mood.

To try hard not to upset someone or something.

figs

"To not give a fig for something or someone."

For example:-

She didn't give a fig about traditional language learning methods.

To not care about something or someone.

fish

"A different kettle of fish"

For example:-

"Oh! They want to place an order? That's a different kettle of fish. Of course I'll talk to them."

A different matter or issue.

Thanks to Otrebs
 

"A pretty or fine kettle of fish"

For example:-

"They're divorced, and someone's sat them next to each other - that's a fine kettle of fish."

A difficult or awkward situation.

Thanks to Otrebs
 

To have bigger fish to fry.

For example:-

He couldn't stay long, with this merger he has bigger fish to fry.

To have more important things to do.

 

Like a fish out of water.

For example:-

When she started talking about her personal problems, he looked like a fish out of water.

To be uncomfortable in a particular situation

 

Something is fishy.

For example:-

"There was something fishy in the way he paused before answering the question."

Used when something is suspicious.

fry

To have bigger fish to fry.

For example:-

He couldn't stay long, with this merger he has bigger fish to fry.

To have more important things to do.

grape(s)

Sour grapes.

For example:-

He was really sarcastic about my new job, but I think it's just sour grapes, because he hasn't got one.

Used when someone is disparaging about something just because they can't have it.

Buy a lemon

To buy a lemon.

For example:-

"All those people who bought a new Toyota have bought a lemon."

To buy something useless or defective.

Glass of milk

"Cry over spilt milk."

For example:

"It's no good crying over spilt milk, what's done is done."

To cry or complain about something that has already happened.

mutton

Mutton dressed (up) as lamb.

For example:-

"She's over fifty and should really stop wearing mini skirts if she doesn't want to look like mutton dressed as lamb."

Used to describe a woman who is dressed in a style that is more suitable for a much younger woman.

 

"As keen as mustard"

For example:

"He was as keen as mustard because he really wanted to win the competition."

To be very eager.

Glass of milk

"Nutty as a fruitcake."

For example:

"People say I'm as nutty as a fruitcake to run this website."

To be slightly crazy.

 

"To use a sledgehammer to crack a nut."

For example:


" Fighting tooth decay by annihilating all the mostly harmless bacteria in your mouth is like taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. "

To do something with more force than is necessary to achieve the result you want.

Onion

"To know your onions."

For example:-

"When it comes to computers he really knows his onions."

To know a lot about a particular subject.

pie

"As easy as pie."

For example:

"Anyone can do that, it's as easy as pie."

When something is very easy to do.

 

"Have a finger in every pie."

For example:

"He was a very influential man, he seemed to have a finger in every pie."

To be involved in lots of different things.

potato

"A couch potato."

For example:

"She should get out more, she's turning into a real couch potato. "

Someone who just sits on the couch watching TV.

 

"A hot potato."

For example:

"The issue of immigration was a hot potato."

A question or argument that is controversial and difficult to settle
pudding

"To over egg the pudding."

For example:

Heather Mills was accused “over-egging the pudding” in a bid to secure a larger divorce settlement.

To exaggerate or to ruin something by trying too hard to improve it.

sandwich

A knuckle sandwich.

For example:-

If he keeps on annoying those men, he'll end up with a knuckle sandwich.

A punch.

 

A sandwich short of a picnic.

For example:-

He stuck a knife in the toaster and electrocuted himself. I've always thought he was one sandwich short of a picnic.

Stupid or crazy 

Bowl of soup

"In the soup."

For example:

"He landed her in the soup, when he told the policeman she had been drinking."

To be in serious trouble.

"Souped up."

For example:

"He made his car go faster by souping up the engine."

To change something to make it faster or more powerful by changing or adding something.

Cup of tea

"Cup of tea."

For example:

"I really enjoyed the film, it was just my cup of tea."

Something one enjoys or does well.

water

Like a fish out of water.

For example:-

When she started talking about her personal problems, he looked like a fish out of water.

To be uncomfortable in a particular situation

More idioms and sayings

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