Table of Contents
In this post, you’ll find a complete list of over 160 helpful animal-related idioms from A to Z. Idioms are idioms that communicate meanings beyond their literal interpretations, bringing color to ordinary communication. From “as sly as a fox” to “busy as a bee,” these idioms provide a fun and innovative method to communicate thoughts, making your language skills more intriguing and engaging. Whether you’re a language aficionado or just curious about idiomatic idioms, this collection will help you grasp English phrases inspired by the animal kingdom. Dive into the world of language with this A-Z handbook and discover how idioms make conversation more colorful and engaging.
Animal Idioms Start with A
- A rare bird
- All Bark And No Bite
- A cat in gloves catches no mice
- A lame duck
- A home bird
- As Poor as a Church Mouse
- A cat has nine lives
- A guinea pig
- A sitting duck
- A dog in the manger
- A Little Bird Told Me
- A cat nap
- A cold fish
- A lone wolf
- A scaredy-cat
- Albatross Around One’s Neck
- Ants In Your Pants
- All Hat And No Cattle
- A rare bird
- All Bark And No Bite
Animal Idioms Start with B
- Bird’s-Eye View
- Back the Wrong Horse
- Bell the Cat
- Bee in one’s bonnet
- Bark up the Wrong Tree
- Blow the Cobwebs Away
- Bull in a China Shop
- Buy a Pig in a Poke
- Black Sheep
- Big Fish
- Birds of a Feather
- Bite the Hand That Feeds You
Animal Idioms Start with C
- Cool cat
- Clip Someone’s Wings
- Cock and Bull Story
- Chomp (Champ) at the Bit
- Cat on a hot tin roof
- Cat Fight
- Cat’s Paw
- Chickens Come Home To Roost
- Curiosity Killed The Cat
- Cry Wolf
- Change Horses in Midstream
- Cat-and-Mouse (adj.)
- Cat Got Your Tongue?
Animal Idioms Start with D
- Dead as the Dodo
- Dog in the Manger
- Drain the Lizard
- Dark Horse
- Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth
- Dog-and-Pony Show
- Dead Duck
- Double-Edged Sword
- Drive Someone Up the Wall
- Dressed to the Nines
- Dime a Dozen
- Drop in the Bucket
Animal Idioms Start with E
- Early Bird [noun or adjective]
- Eat Crow
- Every Dog Has His (Its) Day
- Eager beaver
- Elephant in the Room
- Every Man and His Dog
- Egg on Your Face
- Elbow Grease
- End of the Rope
- Eye for an Eye
- Easy as Pie
- Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining
Animal Idioms Start with F
- Flew the Coop
- Fish Out of Water
- Feather One’s Nest
- Fat Cat
- Flat Out Like a Lizard Drinking
- Fox in the Henhouse (Chickenhouse)
- Fish for Compliments
- Fight like a cat and dog
- Frog in Your Throat
- Fool’s Gold
- For the Birds
- Fifth Wheel
- Flogging a Dead Horse
- Full of Hot Air
Animal Idioms Start with G
- Go See a Man About a Dog
- Go to the Dogs
- Get Someone’s Goat
- Guinea Pig
- Get One’s Ducks in a Row
- Grab (Take) the Bull by the Horns
- Go Belly Up
- Grin Like a Cheshire Cat
- Green-Eyed Monster
- Gone to the Birds
- Go Whole Hog
- Gild the Lily
- Gravy Train
Animal Idioms Start with H
- Hive Mind
- Have a Dog in the Hunt (Fight, Race)
- Hold Your Horses (generally excl.)
- Has the cat got your tongue?
- He Would Put Legs Under A Chicken
- Horse of a Different Color
- Hungry as a Bear
- Hungry as a Wolf
- Hot Dog
- Hustle and Bustle
Animal Idioms Start with J
- Jump on the bandwagon
- Jump down someone’s throat
- Jump the gun
- Jump through hoops
- Jump in with both feet
- Jump out of the frying pan into the fire
- Jump the shark
- Jungle out there
- Just like herding cats
- Just what the doctor ordered
Animal Idioms Start with K
- Kill Two Birds with One Stone
- Kill the Goose That Laid the Golden Egg
- Kangaroo Court
- Kill a Fly With an Elephant Gun
- Kettle of Fish
- Kick the Beehive
- Keep the Wolf from the Door
- King of the Jungle
- Know Which Way the Wind Blows
- Knock on Wood
Animal Idioms Start with L
- Let the Cat Out of the Bag
- Lion’s Share
- Lick One’s Wounds
- Like the cat that got the cream
- Look What the Cat Dragged In
- Lion’s Den
- Like a Moth to a Flame
- Lock Horns
- Loan Shark
- Loaded for Bear
- Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Animal Idioms Start with M
- Mad As A Box Of (Soapy) Frogs
- Make a Silk Purse out of a Sow’s Ear
- My Dogs Are Barking
- Monkey Business
- More Than One Way to Skin a Cat
- Mouse Potato
- Monkey See, Monkey Do
- Mare’s Nest
- Make a Mountain Out of a Molehill
- Mutton Dressed as Lamb
Animal Idioms Start with N
- No room to swing a cat
- Never Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth
- Not have a cat in hell’s chance
- Night Owl
- Nest Egg
- Nose to the Grindstone
- Not enough room to swing a cat
- Not a sausage
- Nip it in the Bud
- Not my circus, not my monkeys
Animal Idioms Start with O
- On a Lark
- One-Trick Pony
- Out of the frying pan into the fire
- Out like a light
- Open a can of worms
- Off the hook
- Old chestnut
- Out of the woods
- On cloud nine
- Out of the lion’s den
Animal Idioms Start with P
- Put Lipstick on a Pig
- Put the Cart Before the Horse
- Puppies and Rainbows
- Pecking Order
- Put the cat among the pigeons
- Play cat and mouse
- Puppy Dog Eyes
- Put Out Feelers
- Pig in a poke
Animal Idioms Start with Q
- Quiet as a mouse
Animal Idioms Start with R
- Raise (Someone’s) Hackles
- Red Herring
- Rain cats and dogs
- Raining buckets
- Run with the hare and hunt with the hounds
- Rats desert a sinking ship
- Raining cats and dogs
- Rule the roost
- Run around like a headless chicken
Animal Idioms Start with S
- Smell a Rat
- Screw The Pooch
- Strain at a Gnat and Swallow a Camel
- Stalking Horse
- Seize (Take) the Bull By the Horns
- Sitting Duck
- Swim with Sharks
- Something to Crow About
- Sick as a Parrot
- Swan Song
Animal Idioms Start with T
- The Cat Is Out of the Bag
- Turn Turtle
- To have butterflies in your stomach
- Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
- Take a Gander
- The World Is Your Oyster
- There’s more than one way to skin a cat
- Til the Cows Come Home
- Throw to the wolves
- Through thick and thin
Animal Idioms Start with U
- Ugly Duckling
- Until the Cows Come Home
- Under the eagle’s eye
- Up with the lark
- Up a tree
- Upper crust
- Under the same roof
- Useless as a screen door on a submarine
- Under the weather
Animal Idioms Start with W
- Who’s She, the Cat’s Mother?
- White Elephant
- What’s Good for the Goose Is Good for the Gander
- Wild Goose Chase
- When Pigs Fly
- Wet behind the ears
- Wag the dog
- Weasel out of something
- Wolf in sheep’s clothing
- Watch like a hawk
Animal Idioms Start with X
- X marks the spot
Animal Idioms Start with Y
- You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs
Animal Idioms Start with Z
- Zero hour
Idioms About Animals | Picture
Common Animal Idioms with Meanings & Examples
Ants in your pants
- Meaning: Restless or anxious.
- Example: “He’s got ants in his pants; he can’t sit still.”
Bee in one’s bonnet
- Meaning: A fixed idea or obsession.
- Example: “She’s got a bee in her bonnet about saving the environment.”
Bite the bullet
- Meaning: To endure a painful experience.
- Example: “I have to bite the bullet and tell her the truth.”
The cat’s out of the bag
- Meaning: A secret has been revealed.
- Example: “Well, the cat’s out of the bag now. Everyone knows about the surprise party.”
Cry over spilled milk
- Meaning: Don’t waste time on things that have already happened and cannot be changed.
- Example: “Yes, you made a mistake, but there’s no use crying over spilled milk.”
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch
- Meaning: Don’t make plans based on uncertain events.
- Example: “I wouldn’t start planning the celebration just yet; don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”
- Meaning: Someone who is very enthusiastic and hardworking.
- Example: “She’s always the first one to start a project, a real eager beaver.”
Elephant in the room
- Meaning: An obvious problem that people are avoiding.
- Example: “Let’s address the elephant in the room and talk about the budget cuts.”
Fish out of water
- Meaning: Uncomfortable or out of place.
- Example: “At the formal dinner, he felt like a fish out of water.”
Hold your horses
- Meaning: Wait and be patient.
- Example: “Hold your horses! Let’s think about this before making a decision.”
Kill two birds with one stone
- Meaning: Accomplish two things at the same time.
- Example: “By working from home, I can kill two birds with one stone – save time and avoid the commute.”
Let the cat out of the bag
- Meaning: Reveal a secret.
- Example: “I can’t believe she let the cat out of the bag about the surprise party.”
Like a fish out of water
- Meaning: Uncomfortable in a particular situation.
- Example: “In the big city, she felt like a fish out of water coming from a small town.”
Make a mountain out of a molehill
- Meaning: Exaggerate a small problem.
- Example: “Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill; it’s just a minor setback.”
- Meaning: Mischievous or deceitful behavior.
- Example: “I suspect there’s some monkey business going on in the office.”
- Meaning: Eat a lot, often to excess.
- Example: “After the exam, we decided to pig out on pizza and ice cream.”
Put all your eggs in one basket
- Meaning: Rely on a single strategy or plan.
- Example: “Diversify your investments; don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
Raining cats and dogs
- Meaning: Heavy rainfall.
- Example: “We had to cancel the picnic; it’s raining cats and dogs outside.”
- Meaning: Blaming someone else for one’s own mistakes.
- Example: “The manager used him as a scapegoat for the project’s failure.”
The lion’s share
- Meaning: The largest part or share.
- Example: “She did the lion’s share of the work on the group project.”
The early bird catches the worm
- Meaning: Success comes to those who act early.
- Example: “I woke up at 5 AM to prepare for the exam; the early bird catches the worm.”
Throw someone to the wolves
- Meaning: Abandon someone to face a difficult situation alone.
- Example: “The manager decided to throw him to the wolves during the meeting.”
Til the cows come home
- Meaning: For a very long time.
- Example: “You can wait for him, but he won’t be back until the cows come home.”
When pigs fly
- Meaning: Something that will never happen.
- Example: “You think he’ll apologize? Yeah, when pigs fly!”
Wild goose chase
- Meaning: A pointless pursuit or task.
- Example: “Searching for the missing keys turned into a wild goose chase.”
Wolf in sheep’s clothing
- Meaning: Someone who appears friendly but is deceitful.
- Example: “Be careful; he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing pretending to be your friend.”
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks
- Meaning: It’s difficult to change someone’s established habits.
- Example: “I’ve been trying to get him to use a smartphone, but you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
- Meaning: It’s better to have something certain than to risk losing it by trying to get more.
- Example: “I’m not taking that job offer in another city; I have a good job here – a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
All bark and no bite
- Meaning: Someone who talks tough but doesn’t act accordingly.
- Example: “Don’t worry about him; he’s all bark and no bite.”
Birds of a feather flock together
- Meaning: Similar People tend to associate with one another.
- Example: “It’s no surprise they’re close friends; birds of a feather flock together.”
Bull in a china shop
- Meaning: Someone who is careless or clumsy in delicate situations.
- Example: “Be careful at the art gallery; you don’t want to be a bull in a china shop.”
- Meaning: Raise a false alarm.
- Example: “He’s always crying wolf about his computer problems; I don’t believe him anymore.”
Dog and pony show
- Meaning: A flashy presentation or display with little substance.
- Example: “The product launch was just a dog and pony show; the product itself was mediocre.”
- Meaning: A very long time.
- Example: “I haven’t seen her in donkey’s years; we used to be classmates.”
Every dog has its day
- Meaning: Everyone will have a period of success or good fortune.
- Example: “Don’t worry; your hard work will pay off. Every dog has its day.”
Frog in one’s throat
- Meaning: Temporary hoarseness or difficulty speaking.
- Example: “I wanted to speak, but I had a frog in my throat and couldn’t say a word.”
Get the lion’s share
- Meaning: Receive the largest portion.
- Example: “Because she worked the hardest, she got the lion’s share of the bonus.”
Go down in flames
- Meaning: Fail spectacularly.
- Example: “I thought the presentation would be a success, but it went down in flames.”
Have a whale of a time
- Meaning: Have a great time.
- Example: “We had a whale of a time at the beach party last night.”
Hold one’s horses
- Meaning: Be patient and wait.
- Example: “Hold your horses; I’ll be there in a minute.”
A horse of a different color
- Meaning: A completely different matter or issue.
- Example: “I thought we were talking about the budget, not the marketing plan. That’s a horse of a different color.”
In the doghouse
- Meaning: In trouble or disfavor.
- Example: “After forgetting our anniversary, I found myself in the doghouse for a week.”
Let sleeping dogs lie
- Meaning: Avoid interfering in a situation that could cause trouble.
- Example: “I know about the mistake, but let’s let sleeping dogs lie and not bring it up.”
Monkey see, monkey do
- Meaning: Imitate others without thinking.
- Example: “Kids often learn by example; monkey see, monkey do.”
Out of the frying pan and into the fire
- Meaning: Go from a bad situation to a worse one.
- Example: “Leaving my old job seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I’m out of the frying pan and into the fire with this new one.”
- Meaning: A gentle or diplomatic hug.
- Example: “After the argument, she gave him a panda hug to make amends.”
- Meaning: Hierarchy or ranking.
- Example: “In the corporate world, there’s always a clear pecking order.”
Sick as a dog
- Meaning: Very sick or unwell.
- Example: “I caught the flu and felt as sick as a dog for a week.”
Take the bull by the horns
- Meaning: Confront a difficult situation directly.
- Example: “Instead of avoiding the issue, it’s time to take the bull by the horns and find a solution.”
The world is your oyster
- Meaning: You have many opportunities and possibilities.
- Example: “Now that you’ve graduated, the world is your oyster; go out and explore!”