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Explore quirky English phrases in our post, from “cat got your tongue” to “raining cats and dogs.” Expand your vocabulary today!

While mastering English, it’s crucial to grasp proper grammar and pronunciation. Yet, when residing in an English-speaking country, it proves beneficial to familiarize yourself with unconventional English expressions not typically found in textbooks but commonly used by native speakers. Let’s begin!

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1. Let sleeping dogs lie

When facing a potential troublesome situation, this phrase is apt. It pertains to circumstances where one refrains from discussing an unpleasant situation either because it has faded from memory or to maintain the status quo and prevent disturbing or upsetting others.

Examples:

“We didn’t reach an agreement, but we decided just to let sleeping dogs lie.”

2. No use crying over spilt milk

The somewhat peculiar English expression “cry over spilled milk” is commonly employed to convey the idea that there’s no reason to lament something that has already happened. It implies that once an event is done, it cannot be reversed, and there is no use in getting upset or dwelling on it.

Examples:

“She failed her exam so she can’t go now, there is no use crying over spilt milk, she will have to choose a different path.”

3. Beat around the bush

When someone addresses a subject in a circuitous manner, talking about it indirectly, they can be characterized as beating around the bush. This peculiar English expression is applied in situations where the main topic is avoided, and the conversation may even involve misleading information.

Examples:

“Right, no beating around the bush, tell me what you think of this deal?”

4. It takes two to tango

In situations or circumstances that demand collaboration between individuals, this expression is apt. As we are aware, the South American tango dance necessitates the cooperation of two individuals to execute the dance and master the technique, hence the derivation of the phrase. It can be employed to distribute responsibility, such as when one person is shouldering more blame than another, or in a friendly context to convey that an action requires the involvement of two people rather than just one.

Examples:

“He is getting all the slack for their relationship, but I don’t see why it takes two to tango.”

5. Cross the bridge

This unusual English expression describes situations where instead of addressing a problem proactively, people choose to wait for it to become a genuine issue. This approach involves anticipating dealing with the problem at a later, presumably more opportune, time.

Examples:

“Isn’t it about time you crossed that bridge? You’ve waited long enough…”

6. Costs an arm and a leg

Describing a product or service as extremely costly, this peculiar English phrase is associated with the post-World War II era. It stems from the notion that many soldiers, having lost limbs in the war, paid a steep price for their involvement. Subsequently, the expression is employed to characterize items that are very expensive and marked by excessively high prices.

Examples:

“I can’t afford that. It would cost me an arm and a leg.”

7. To hear something straight from the horse’s mouth

It seems like your message is incomplete or may contain a typo. Could you please provide more details or clarify your request so that I can better assist you?

Examples:

“I will go and ask her myself; it is better to hear it from the horse’s mouth.”

8. Take it with a pinch of salt

A different version of this saying is “take it with a grain of salt.” This expression advises not to treat something too seriously, as it may be inaccurate or untrue.

For example, if you’re sharing a rumor you heard at the office with someone, and you want to caution them to be skeptical because it’s not guaranteed or certain, you might use this expression.

Examples:

“Yes, she said it was hard, I’ll take it with a pinch of salt.”

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Integrating eccentric English phrases into your language repertoire is an excellent way to infuse humor and personality into your communication. Whether you’re a second language learner or seeking to broaden your linguistic skills, mastering these unconventional expressions can be an enjoyable endeavor.

What is your English level?

Find out your A1 A2 B1 B2 C1 C2 level of English with our quick, free online test.