Common Metaphors, Analogies and Similes - used in everyday language


A cliché has the ability to do your thinking for you. It is a form of shorthand association that is deeply ingrained in the language. Cliches are useful for quick communication like sending a text message.

Here is a list of metaphors and idioms in common usage. Whether an expression annoys you is a personal reaction. Some are good, some are bad, I'll let the reader decide.

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z

For a funny collection of wit and banter see the One-liners, Jokes and Funny Quotes at


ace in the hole

as the actress said to the bishop

to have an ace up your sleeve

Achilles heel

to be the acid test

all hands to the pump

all that glitters is not gold

always a bridesmaid, never the bride

another nail in the coffin

ants in his pants

any port in a storm

apple of my eye

the apple does not fall far from the tree

to be the apple of someone's eye

armed to the teeth

to avoid cliches

to have an axe to grind


to put on the back burner

go back to the drawing board

back in the saddle

back from the brink

go back to your roots

backs to the wall

a bad apple in every barrel

bad to the bone

the ball is in your court

to be in the ball park

banging your head against a brick wall

have a baptism of fire

to bark up the wrong tree

to touch base

to batten down the hatches

to beat around the bush

to beat swords into ploughshares

to have a bee in your bonnet

the bee's knees

bells and whistles

the better half

better the devil you know

better than a slap in the face with a wet fish

better than a kick in the teeth

between the devil and the deep blue sea

between you me and the gatepost

as big as a house

a bird in a gilded cage

a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

birds of a feather

to bite of more than you can chew

to bite the bullet

to bite the dust

as black as coal

as blind as a bat

the blind leading the blind

to turn a blind eye

blood is thicker than water

to blow a fuse

to blow a gasket

to blow the whistle

a bone of contention

a bone to pick with you

a subject to bone up on

born with a silver spoon in the mouth

to sweep with a new broom

the buck stops here

to burst someone's bubble

as busy as a bee

look as if butter wouldn't melt in your mouth

to have butterflies in the stomach


open a can of worms

to burn a candle at both ends

to put your cards on the table

to be a loose cannon

to build castles in the air

to play cat and mouse

to have a chain reaction

cheek by jowl

chilled to the bone

a chinless wonder

to be a chip off the old block

have a chip on your shoulder

live in cloud cuckoo land

every cloud having a silver lining

cool as a cucumber

costs an arm and a leg

to weep crocodile tears

chickens come home to roost

at the crack of dawn

as the crow flies

to cut the mustard

to be on the cutting edge of technology


daft as a brush

the dark night of the soul

not to play with a full deck

dead as a dodo

dead as a doornail

deaf as a post

to look like death warmed up

rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic

A diamond in the rough

to dice with death

to dig in your heel

to dip your toe in the watercolour

to be in a dog-eat-dog business

the dogs of war

to have a domino effect

to be a double-edged sword

to go down the drain

to drink like a fish

to drive a coach and horses through

at the drop of a hat

to beat your own drum

a lame duck

a sitting duck

wait for the dust to settle



to keep your ear to the ground

to eat one's words

not to put all your eggs in one basket

to have egg on your face

elbow grease

to push the envelope


fan the flames

to fall on your sword

to sell the family silver

live in the fast lane

a fate worse than death

feather one's nest

a feather in one's cap

to have feet of clay

get your feet under the table

to mend fences

have a finger in every pie

have fire in the belly

to be on fire

be in the firing line

to be firing on all cylinders

have fish to fry

a fish out of water

as fit as a fiddle

as fit as a butcher's dog

open the floodgates

provide food for thought

get one's foot in the door

to put your foot in your mouth

to be a big fish in a small pond

the full monty


the game's not worth the candle

to give up the ghost

to be a glutton for work

to go the extra mile

a golden handshake

a golden hello

as good as gold

a wild goose chase

to go against the grain

on the gravy train

sour grapes

as fast as greased lightning


to get in each other's hair

as happy as Larry

to handle with kid gloves

hard as nails

to throw your hat in the ring

to bury the hatchet

to make hay while the sun shines

heart of gold

to wear your heart on your sleeve

hide your light under a bushel

live high on the hog

hoist with your own petard

as honest as the day is long

horses for courses

to flog a dead horse

to get on your high horse

a hot potato

to have a hole in your pocket

to be in the horns of a dilemma

go like a house on fire


to break the ice

to have many irons in the fire

to live in an ivory tower


To hit the jackpot

to jump on the bandwagon

to jump down someone's throat


keep the wolf from the door

keep your head above water

as keen as mustard

knock down with a feather duster

to tie the knot


the land of nod

laugh like a drain

the last chance saloon

to turn over a new leaf

to get a new lease of life

leave no stone unturned

leave out in the cold

the life of Riley

the light at the end of the tunnel

light the blue touch paper

to go out on a limb

to get a lion's share

lock,stock and barrel

lock the stable door after the horse has bolted

to be out of the loop

lost the plot

to be out to lunch


as mad as a hatter

as mad as a march hare

the milk of human kindness

to go through the mill

to be a millstone around someone's neck

as old as Methuselah

to make a mountain out of a molehill

to play musical chairs


hitting the nail on the head

a needle in a haystack

to save a nest egg

nip in the bud

no free lunch

to cut off one's nose to spite one's face

a tough nut to crack

in a nutshell


off the cuff

off the wall

to pour oil on trouble waters

as old as the hills

opium of the people

over-egg the pudding

over the hill

over the moon


to paint a rosy picture

to open a Pandora's box

to cast pearls before swine

pie in the sky

a bitter pill to swallow

from pillar to post

pillar of society

to play fast and loose

to pull out all the stops

as pure as the driven snow

push the boat out

put on a pedestal

a Pyrrhic victory


to be queen-bee


to pull a rabbit out of the hat

to be as sharp as a razor

to roll out the red carpet

rest on your laurels

to be a rising star

between a rock and a hard place

to rock the boat

to rule the roost

run it up the flagpole to see if it salutes

to be at the end of your rope

to learn the ropes

to be run-of-the-mill


salad days

to sail close to the wind

to take the wind out of someone's sails

to be the salt of the earth

to have a close shave

ships that pass in the night

to shoot oneself in the foot

shot in the dark

sick as a parrot

skeletons in the cupboard

a sledgehammer to crack a nut

to let sleeping dogs lie

a smoking gun

a snake in the grass

to sow one's wild oats

a spanner in the works

to spill the beans

to be spinning in your grave

to split hairs

to reach for the stars

to be a stick in the mud

stiff upper lip

to leave no stone unturned

to take by storm

a storm in a teacup

as straight as a die

more than one string to one's bow

to play to one's strong suit

to swallow hook, line and sinker

Swings and roundabouts

to sing one's swan song

sweet as a nut

to be in the swim of things

a double-edged sword

to cross swords with


to leave with the tail between your legs

to escape by skin of your teeth

to be a thorn in someone's side

as thick as a London fog

to stick on your throat

tighten your belt

to fight tooth and nail

a tower of strength

turn the corner

turn the tables on


as useful as a lead balloon

to go up a blind alley


variety is the spice of life


To be a wallflower

water under the bridge

to meet one's Waterloo

to use weasel words

a window of opportunity

to get your wires crossed

a wolf in sheep's clothing

to be throw to the wolves

to pull the wool over someone's eyes

to eat one's words

the writing on the wall


To have X-ray vision

Apparently, a lot of farmers are using heroin, but trying to prove is like trying to find a _____ .

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Example Metaphor Analogy & Simile - © 2011