What is an Idiom? How to Use Names of Animals in Idioms?

Are you aiming for a 7 or higher band in the speaking and writing task of the IELTS? You know your language...

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What is an idiom

Are you aiming for a 7 or higher band in the speaking and writing task of the IELTS? You know your language knowledge and skills are good. But you just can’t figure out where you are lacking. We know what it could be though. It might just be the lack of right idioms and phrases!

Did you know you can use the names of animals to convey various things? This will polish your speaking and writing skills and help you achieve your target band. In this article, we will help you learn what is an idiom and how you can use a few of these idioms.

What are These Idioms?

1. Have a Cow

Meaning: get extremely upset (often over something minor).

Sample Prompt:

  • When was the last time you got upset about something
  • You should say
  • what had happened
  • why did it upset you
  • What did you do and how did you cheer yourself up after it?

How the Idiom Can be Used?

“I had a cow when I came to know that over and above the rejection of my ideas I had also been removed from the core team”

Cat Nap

This idiom is also called a power nap.

Sample Prompt

When was the last time you stayed up late?

You should say:

  • Why did you stay up
  • What were you doing
  • Did you enjoy it and whether there was someone to give you company?

How the Idiom Can be Used?

“As I had taken a cat nap during the day I didn’t feel very drowsy staying up late to complete the assignment.”

3. Chicken Out

Meaning: to decide not to do something out of fear (usually just before)

Sample Prompt:

What is the boldest thing you’ve ever done?

You should say:

  • When did you do it
  • What made you do it
  • Whom did you do it with and how was the experience?

How the Idiom can be Used?

“I would have chickened out if my friends and family hadn’t been there to motivate me.”

4. Get the Lion’s Share

Meaning: get the greatest percentage

Sample Prompt:

Talk about a situation when you were late.

You should say:

  • What the event was
  • Why you were late
  • How did you feel about it

and explain how you handled the situation.

How the Idiom can be Used?

“I got the lion’s share of the blame for the hold up as it was because of me that the meeting started late.”

5. Let the Cat out of The Bag

Meaning: reveal a secret

Sample Prompt:

Describe a party or event you recently attended

You should say:

  • What the party was for
  • Who was the host
  • What was the best part about it

and what was your relationship with the host

How the Idiom can be Used?

“Even though Susan had let the cat out of the bag it did not, in any way make a difference to the fun we had!”

Also Read : What is a Paraphrase? How is it Going to Help You in IELTS?

6. Make a Beeline

Meaning: go straight for something

Sample Prompt:

Describe something that has become a fashion or status symbol recently

You should say:

  • What the thing is
  • Why people are using it
  • Whether you have it or not

and explain what influence it has on people.

How the Idiom can be Used?

“It is so much in demand that everyone makes a beeline for it the minute they enter a store”

7. Rat Race

Meaning: the fierce, competitive struggle for power, position etc

Sample Prompt:

Talk about a job you think is helping make the world a better place.

You should say:

  • What the job is
  • How did you come to know about it
  • How do you think it is helping

and explain why you think it can make the world a better place.

How the Idiom can be Used?

“It’s such a respite coming across someone who is doing something like this in this rat race!”

8. The Elephant in the Room

Meaning: a problem or controversial issue that is too big to ignore, but that everyone tries to avoid talking about because it is embarrassing or will cause conflict

Sample Prompt:

Talk about a thing you purchased and haven’t used that much

You should say:

  • What the item is
  • Where you purchased it from
  • Why you purchased it

and explain why you haven’t used it much

How the Idiom can be Used?

“My mother had to finally address the elephant in the room to make me realize how I had wasted so much money on the product”

9. Weasel out of Something

Meaning: If a person “weasels out of” some responsibility, it means they abandon their responsibility or commitment in a way that is sneaky or cowardly.

Sample Prompt:

Talk about a job you think is helping make the world a better place.

You should say:

  • What the job is
  • How did you come to know about it
  • How do you think it is helping

and explain why you think it can make the world a better place.

How the Idiom can be Used?

“It’s a good thing not all of us weasel out of our responsibility towards creating a better society.’

10. Let the Sleeping Dogs Lie

Meaning: it means not to talk about things in the past that might cause problems if you mention them today.

Sample Prompt:

Describe an interesting conversation you had with someone you did not know.

You should say:

  • Who the person was
  • Where the conversation took place
  • What you talked about

and explain why you found the conversation interesting.

How the Idiom can be Used?

“Her attitude of letting the sleeping dogs lie and look towards the brighter side of things is what made me admire her the most.”

Vocabulary Exercises:

Now try using them on your own by attempting the following exercises.

Exercise A

Fill in the gaps in the following sentence with given idioms:

  • Let sleeping dogs lie
  • Make a beeline
  • Elephant in the room
  • Gets the lion’s share
  • Chickened out
  1. As soon as the concert is over, we should __________for the car
  2. My mom ________ from riding on the roller coaster once she realized how high it went.
  3. Eventually, they decided it would be best to ________________ and not discuss the matter any further.
  4. After his horrible behaviour at the annual summit, his drinking problem is going to be___________ at the Xmas party.
  5. Technology ___________ of credit for most of the productivity.

Exercise B

Use an appropriate idiom and phrase for the following situations:

Situation 1

Your mother spent hours cleaning up every room in the house. Some guests came over for dinner the same day and stayed over for the night. Once they left the next morning, the house was not only in a mess but it was in a worse state than when it had been before she cleaned up. What idiom can be used to describe your mother’s feeling on seeing this mess?

Situation 2

Susan was on her way to reaching home. Her husband Adam had made plans for surprising her and taking her out for dinner once she came home. He knew she would take another hour or so to reach and he had everything ready. So he decided to take a _______________.

Situation 3

Sam had planned a big surprise for his wife Rose’s birthday. Only a few people including his friend Adam knew about his plans. He ran into Rose one day at the supermarket and accidentally _____________.

Situation 4

You have observed that many new people have been joining in the organization. But a lot of them are quitting too. The competition has become tougher and more evident. It has become a complete _______.

Situation 5

Sandy and Hannah are on a trip to Spain. They had long back decided that they would go scuba diving there. They had been excited about it from the time they had started planning the trip. But once Hannah saw and realized how deep the water was and thanks to her water phobia she ____________ of it.

Answer Key:

Answers for exercise A.

  1. Make a beeline
  2. Chickened out
  3. Let sleeping dogs lie
  4. The elephant in the room
  5. Get’s the lion’s share

Answers for exercise B.

  1. Have a cow
  2. Cat nap
  3. Let the cat out of the bag
  4. Rat race
  5. Chickened out

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article will give a clear idea about what is an idiom and how to use idioms and phrases in sentences. Keep the examples in mind and try practising these.

Do let us know which idiom you use the most by commenting in the below box.

Also Read : How to Improve IELTS Reading Skills? Tips for IELTS Reading Test & Practice

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