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 English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions 


Idioms relating to animals, birds, fish or insects   
from:  'my dogs are barking'   to:  'like a fish out of water'

  • my dogs are barking
    • When a person says that their dogs are barking they mean that their feet are hurting.
      "I've been shopping all day. My dogs are barking!"

  • doggie bag / doggy bag
    • A bag provided by a restaurant so that you can take home the leftover food is called a doggie (or doggy) bag.
      "The portions were so big that I decided to ask for a doggie bag."

  • donkey work
    • This expression is used to describe the unpleasant, repetitive or boring parts of a job.
      "I do the donkey work - my boss gets the credit!"

  • (for) donkey's years
    • If someone has been doing something for donkey's years, they have been doing it for a very long time.
      "He knows the town inside out.  He's been living here for donkey's years."

  • talk the hind leg off a donkey
    • This expression is used to describe a very talkative person.
      "It's difficult to end a conversation with Betty. She could talk the hind leg off a donkey!"

  • (a) dead duck
    • A dead duck is a project or scheme which has been abandoned or is certain to fail.
      "The new cinema is going to be a dead duck because it's too far away from the town centre."

  • (a) lame duck
    • A person or organisation in difficulty and unable to manage without help is called a lame duck.
      "Some banks have become lame ducks recently."

  • (a) sitting duck
    • A sitting duck is someone who is an easy target, a vulnerable person who is easy to deceive or take advantage of.
      "Elderly people are often sitting ducks for sales representatives of all sorts."

  • get your ducks in a row
    • If you get your ducks in a row, you get things well organised.
      "We need to get our ducks in a row if we want our project to succeed."

  • like water off a duck's back
    • Criticism or comments which have no effect on someone is referred to as being like water off a duck's back.
      "He's been warned of the dangers of smoking but it's like water off a duck's back."

  • take to something like a duck to water
    • If you take to something like a duck to water, you do it naturally and easily, without fear or hesitation.
      "When Sophie first tried skiing, she took to it like a duck to water."

  • eagle eyes
    • Someone who has eagle eyes see or notices things more easily than others.
      "Tony will help us find it - he's got eagle eyes."

  • an elephant in the room
    • A problem that no one wants to discuss, but is so obvious that it cannot be ignored, is called an elephant in the room.
      "Let's face it, his work is unsatisfactory. It's an elephant in the room that we need to discuss."

  • a white elephant
    • A white elephant is something considered to be a waste of money: an expensive possession whose maintenance costs are a financial burden disproportionate to its usefulness.
      "The museum has turned out to be a real white elephant. It cost millions to build and attracts very few visitors."

  • fish in troubled waters
    • If you fish in troubled waters, you try to gain advantages for yourself from a disturbed state of affairs.
      "Between the declaration of independence and the first elections, some people were accused of fishing in troubled waters."

  • (a) fish out of water
    • If you feel like a fish out of water, you feel uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings.
      "As a non-golfer, I felt like a fish out of water at the clubhouse."

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