Idioms – the coolest English refreshment

easy peasyWhere could you use idioms in exams and why?


*Writing: FCE/CAE/CPE, in the case of informal letters (they rock!!!), in reviews and in some articles and essays ,depending on the topic and level of informality of the idiom. Because some idioms seem more neutral than others. And other idioms may sound really offensive and superficial if used in academic writing.

Here’s a list of idioms you could practise using on a daily basis, until you learn them and are able to fit them almost everywhere (provided they match the content and register, of course):

  1. SECOND TO NONE=better than anyone/anything else
  2. WET BLANKET=pessimist
  3. BURN THE CANDLE AT BOTH ENDS=exhaust yourself by doing too much
  4. SILVER SURFER=an elderly person who uses the internet
  5. TO COME UP SMELLING OF ROSES=emerge from a situation with your reputation undamaged
  6. EASY PEASY LEMON SQUEEZY=very easy indeed
  7. BRAIN DRAIN=loss of talented people by a country that does not offer many opportunities
  9. HAVE A SPUTNIK MOMENT=realize that you are challenged and have to redouble efforts
  10. WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH GET GOING=when faced with a difficulty/danger, strong people take action.

Example of a neutral idiom that could be used in may types of contexts:

A THORNY ISSUE (meaning a difficult/unpleasant situation)

Example of  very informal idioms that look extremely offensive and unsuitable in a formal context:

BEGGARS CAN’T BE CHOOSERS (you should not reject an offer if it’s the only one you’ve got)

DEAD MAN WALKING (somebody who will inevitably be in great trouble/lose their job/position)

VERTICALLY CHALLENGED (a very short person)



So, if you’re A TOUGH COOKIE, learn as many idioms as you can and insert them in your discourse, you will STAND HEAD AND SHOULDERS ABOVE the other candidates.

For a useful list of idioms, contact me and I will send it via email. Using idioms will become EASY PEASY LEMON SQUEEZY.