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 English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions 


Idioms relating to animals, birds, fish or insects   
from:  'every dog has its day'   to:  'why keep a dog and bark yourself'

  • every dog has its day
    • This expression means that everyone can be successful at something at some time in their life.
      "I didn't win this time, but I'll be lucky one day. Every dog has its day."

  • give a dog a bad name
    • People who lose their reputation have difficulty regaining it because others continue to blame or suspect them.
      "Tom was suspected as usual. Give a dog a bad name!"

  • go to the dogs
    • To say that a company, organisation or country is going to the dogs means that it is becoming less successful or efficient than before.
      "Some think the company will go to the dogs if it is nationalised."

  • (a) hair of the dog that bit you
    • Using as a remedy a small amount of what made you ill, for example a drop of alcohol when recovering from drinking too much, is called 'a hair of the dog that bit you'.
      "Here, have a drop of this. It's a hair of the dog that bit you!"

  • help a lame dog over stile
    • If you help a lame dog over a stile, you help someone who is in difficulty or trouble.
      "You can trust him - he's always ready to help a lame dog over a stile."

  • let sleeping dogs lie
    • If you tell someone to let sleeping dogs lie , you are asking them not to interfere with a situation so as to avoid making matters worse.
      "Look, they've settled their differences. It's time to let sleeping dogs lie."

  • like a dog with two tails
    • If someone is like a dog with two tails, they are extremely happy.
      "When Paul won the first prize he was like a dog with two tails."

  • love me, love my dog
    • This expression means that if someone loves you, they must love everything about you, including everyone and everything that you love.
      "I'm not going to change anything in my life. Love me, love my dog!"

  • as quick as a dog can lick a dish
    • If you do something surprisingly fast, you do it as quick as a dog can lick a dish.
      "He packed his bag as quick as a dog can lick a dish."

  • tail wagging the dog
    • This expression refers to a situation where there is a reversal of roles, with the small or minor element having a controlling influence on the most important element.
      "If you let your children decide on everything, it will be a case of the tail wagging the dog!"

  • old dog for a hard road
    • This expression means that experience is invaluable when one is faced with a difficult task.
      "The case calls for an experienced lawyer, an old dog for a hard road."

  • small dog, tall weeds
    • This expression is used to refer to someone who does not have the ability or the resources necessary to perform a task.
      "It may be too difficult for the trainee - small dog, tall weeds!"

  • (you can't) teach an old dog new tricks!
    • This expression means that someone who is used to doing things in a certain way will find it difficult to change their habits.
      "Your grandfather will never use a smart phone. You can't teach an old dog new tricks!"

  • top dog
    • To say that a person, group or nation is top dog means that they are more important, more powerful or more influential than others.
      "She's had a successful career. She's top dog in cosmetics now."

  • why keep a dog and bark yourself?
    • This expression means that if someone or something can do a task for you, there's no reason to do it yourself.
      "My grandmother has an electric mixer but she continues to make her cakes by hand. Why keep a dog and bark yourself?"

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