Published: Tue, August 22, 2017
Culture | By Stewart Greene

10 Bizarre Idioms in the English Language

Source: Pixabay

The English language can be very complex and funny. If you are not familiar with idiomatic expressions, you might find yourself a bit baffled when you hear them. An idiom is a metaphorical expression or saying which should not be taken literary; but doing so can bring some hilarious results. While idiomatic expressions usually do not follow semantics or even grammar occasionally, they are commonly used by native speakers anyway.

Here’s our list of some of the most unusual idioms in the English language and what they really mean.

“Enough to cobble dogs with”

Usually used to refer to having a large excess of anything, such as “We have enough wine to cobble dogs with.” Considering the fact that a cobbler is one who repairs shoes and that dogs do not necessarily need shoes, you will definitely find this saying a bit odd. To justify this idiomatic expression, though, it seems that if a cobbler has enough leather to cobble a dog, then this cobbler definitely has more than enough.

“Do a runner”

Someone who has done a runner is one who has left a place in a hurry so as to avoid paying for something or to escape punishment. Like many English idioms, this particular saying originates from one of Shakespeare’s well-renowned plays, Anthony and Cleopatra, a riveting play about romance and tragedy that was first performed in early 1600s.

“Three sheets to the wind”

This phrase refers to a drunk person moving erratically. The "sheets" in question here refer to the ropes used to fasten a sail, with two ropes used for each sail. If one out of four sheets is not properly secured and thus there are only three, it is hard to control the ship, and the sail is said to be "to the wind’. Like someone who's drunk.


“It’s raining cats and dogs”

How absurd can this be, when it does rain cats and dogs? There would be so much chaos! However, this funny idiom simply refers to heavy rainfall.

“Happy as a sand boy”

An expression which implies blissful contentment. This phrase originates from Bristol. UK, where there were local pubs where fine sand from sea caves was scattered on the ground to soak up spills. The young men who collected the sand were partially paid with drinks and, as a result, were usually jolly or happy once they have had their drinks.

“Eyes down for a full house”

You might remember this phrase from one of the scenes of Monty Python's The Meaning of Life just as a child was about to be born. The term “eyes down for a full house” usually means that something is about to begin, and was originally used in bingo lingo to connote the start of a bingo game. If you don't have your eyes down in this game, you can't possibly get a full house.

“Bob’s your uncle”

This idiom is a catchphrase used to assure someone that everything will be alright or sorted out. Usually, adding this phrase seems odd and out of context, but once you are aware of what it means, it makes sense. An example would be when giving directions: “Go straight on until you reach the main road, then take the first left, and Bob’s your uncle–you’re there!”

Source: Pixabay

“Chew the fat”

While this phrase might sound a bit gross, to “chew the fat” basically means to have a friendly and leisurely chat or engage in casual gossip. This idiomatic expression stems from the practice of sailors, who would usually converse leisurely while chewing on salt-hardened fat while working together or during their break.

 “More holes than a Swiss cheese”

This saying, unfortunately, does not do justice to the delicious Swiss. This hard, pale yellow or white cheese usually has several holes. For something to “have more holes than a Swiss cheese” means that it has a lot of problems or that there are a lot of things wrong with it. It could mean that this item (or concept) is incomplete or does not have all the important components.

“Win hands down”

In horse racing, a jockey who is confident of winning does not need to use a whip and can ride to the finishing lines with his hands down. This phrase then means that someone who is sure to win does not have to exert any effort at all.


There you have it, 10 very bizarre English idiomatic expressions that can be quite funny when taken at face value. Now that you know what they truly mean, you can feel more confident using them as you converse with other people!

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