3/7/18 20 Animal Idioms in English (Part 1)

Idioms with Large Animals

  • The elephant in the room

“The elephant in the room” is an idiom for 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.
  • One-trick pony

A pony is a small horse, which is often used for shows, competitions, and exhibitions. People teach ponies “tricks” to perform at the shows. If a pony only knows one trick, then it doesn’t have a great variety of abilities. So describing someone as a “one-trick pony” means the person has only one ability or good quality that he/she is known for, and doesn’t have any other abilities.
  • The lion’s share

“The lion’s share” of something is the biggest part or portion.
  • Hold your horses!

This idiomatic expression means “Wait a minute! Don’t be in such a hurry.”

Idioms with Small Animals

  • That really gets my goat

If something “gets your goat,” it means it annoys you.
  • Pig-headed

Describing someone as “pig-headed” means that person is stupid and stubborn (close-minded and inflexible).
  • Weasel out of something

Weasels have a reputation for being sneaky. If a person “weasels out of” some responsibility, it means they abandon their responsibility or commitment in a way that is sneaky or cowardly.

Idioms with Domestic Animals

  • The cat’s meow

If you think something is “the cat’s meow,” it means you think it is excellent, wonderful, really great.
  • Let the cat out of the bag

To reveal a secret.
  • Go to the dogs

If something “goes to the dogs,” it means it goes bad, deteriorates, or becomes poor-quality.
  • Let sleeping dogs lie

If you make a suggestion to “let sleeping dogs lie,” it means not to talk about things in the past that might cause problems if you mention them today. This idiom comes from the fact that a sleeping dog is peaceful, but if you wake it up, it might be angry and bite you.