Exploring 10 Commonly Used Expressions in English

Here is a quick post to learn about 10 of the most commonly used expressions in English.

As it is the case with a lot of languages, English is a language rich with colorful expressions that add depth and flair to our conversations. In this blog post, we’ll delve into 10 commonly used expressions, exploring their origins, meanings, and how they are used in everyday conversation.

1. Break the Ice:

   – Origin: This expression comes from the idea of breaking through the initial awkwardness or tension in a social situation, much like breaking through the ice on a frozen pond to start skating.
– Meaning: To initiate conversation or friendship in a situation where there is initial discomfort or silence.
– Example: “I always find it helpful to tell a joke to break the ice at parties.”

2. Hit the Nail on the Head:

 – Origin: This phrase originates from carpentry, where hitting a nail directly on the head is a sign of accuracy and precision.
– Meaning: To describe someone’s statement or action as being precisely correct or accurate.
– Example: “When Sarah described the issue with our project, she really hit the nail on the head.”

3. Bite the Bullet:

– Origin: Dating back to the 18th century, this expression refers to the practice of having a wounded soldier bite on a bullet during surgery to endure the pain.
 – Meaning: To face a difficult or unpleasant situation with courage and determination.
– Example: “I know the exam will be tough, but I’ll just have to bite the bullet and study hard.”

4. Piece of Cake:

– Origin: This expression likely originates from the idea that something easy to accomplish is as simple as eating a piece of cake.
– Meaning: To describe a task or activity that is very easy or simple.
– Example: “Don’t worry about the presentation, it’ll be a piece of cake for you.”

5. Cost an Arm and a Leg:

 – Origin: While the exact origin is uncertain, this expression emphasizes the high cost of something by implying it would require sacrificing body parts.
– Meaning: To be extremely expensive or costly.
– Example: “I’d love to travel the world, but flights and accommodations can cost an arm and a leg.”

6. Give Someone the Cold Shoulder:

– Origin: Dating back to medieval times, this phrase referred to serving an unwelcome guest a cold shoulder of meat instead of a warm meal.
– Meaning: To intentionally ignore or be unfriendly towards someone.
– Example: “Ever since our argument, she’s been giving me the cold shoulder.”

7. A Dime a Dozen:

– Origin: This expression suggests that something is so common or plentiful that it is not worth much, much like items sold in bulk for a low price.
– Meaning: Something that is abundant and therefore not very valuable or unique.
– Example: “In this digital age, smartphones are a dime a dozen.”

8. Beat Around the Bush:

– Origin: This phrase comes from the practice of beating bushes to flush out game during hunting, rather than directly confronting it.
– Meaning: To avoid addressing a topic directly; to speak vaguely or euphemistically.
– Example: “Stop beating around the bush and just tell me what you want.”

9. Jump on the Bandwagon:

– Origin: This expression originated in the mid-19th century from the idea of people literally jumping onto a bandwagon during a parade or event.
– Meaning: To join or support a popular trend or movement.
– Example: “After seeing the success of the new diet plan, many people jumped on the bandwagon and started following it.”

10. Kill Two Birds with One Stone:

 – Origin: Dating back to ancient times, this phrase describes the efficiency of accomplishing two tasks with a single action, much like throwing one stone to kill two birds.
– Meaning: To achieve two objectives with a single effort.
– Example: “By working out during my lunch break, I can kill two birds with one stone: exercise and free up time in the evening.”

These 10 expressions are just a glimpse into the richness of the English language. By understanding their origins and meanings, we gain insight into the cultural and historical contexts that shape our daily language use. Next time you encounter one of these expressions, take a moment to appreciate its colorful imagery and the depth it adds to our conversations.

Test your understanding:

Here’s a 10-question test based on the expressions presented in the blog post above:

1. What does the expression “break the ice” mean?
a) To initiate conversation or friendship in an uncomfortable situation
b) To shatter frozen water
c) To end a social gathering abruptly

2. Where does the expression “hit the nail on the head” originate from?
a) Carpentry
b) Blacksmithing
c) Farming

3. What does it mean to “bite the bullet”?
a) To avoid facing a difficult situation
b) To endure pain or hardship with courage
c) To eat a bullet as a punishment

4. If something is described as “a piece of cake,” what does it mean?
a) It is difficult to accomplish
b) It is very easy or simple
c) It is impossible to achieve

5. What does the expression “cost an arm and a leg” imply?
a) It is free
b) It is very cheap
c) It is extremely expensive

6. What does it mean to “give someone the cold shoulder”?
a) To warmly welcome someone
b) To intentionally ignore or be unfriendly towards someone
c) To offer support and assistance

7. If something is “a dime a dozen,” what does it mean?
a) It is very valuable
b) It is rare and precious
c) It is common and not very valuable

8. What does it mean to “beat around the bush”?
a) To speak directly and clearly
b) To avoid addressing a topic directly
c) To confront a difficult situation

9. Where does the expression “jump on the bandwagon” originate from?
a) Ancient Greece
b) The 19th century
c) Medieval Europe

10. What does it mean to “kill two birds with one stone”?
a) To save money
b) To achieve two objectives with a single effort
c) To harm animals unnecessarily


There we have it! 10 most commonly used expressions in English and a small comprehention test: Are you ready for the quiz now?

Make sure to share your results.


Quiz Time:

For the bravest of you, here is a 120 points quiz to reinforce the understanding and use of the 10 most commonly used expressions in English we went over in this post. Click here if you do not see it bellow:

Join our Newsletter to keep updated about the latest news, posts and fun events.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *