Practice the idioms below and use them in your next conversations. They’re creepy and they’re spooky, mysterious, and cooky, but they’re not just for Halloween. These great idioms are perfect for any time. Remember, if idioms are too hard to use easily now, it’s still great to understand them when you hear them.
Special thanks to our sister site myenglishimages for these fun images.
1. scared stiff = very scared
Ex: Something touched my neck, and I was scared stiff.
2. stab in the back = to betray someone (verb)
a backstabber = a person who betrays someone (noun)
Ex: My friend lied to me. She stabbed me in the back.
3. zombie company = a company that cannot pay its debts
Ex: I can’t believe that company is still in business. They can’t pay their debts, and they always need bailouts. They’re just a zombie company.
4. scaredy cat / fraidy cat = someone who is easily scared
Ex: The company won’t give you a raise unless you ask. Don’t be a scaredy cat.
5. witch hunt = to look for someone and blame them for their actions or beliefs, often without proof
Ex: The students didn’t do well because they didn’t study very hard, but parents went on a witch-hunt looking for someone to blame other than their kids.
6. chills = scared
Ex: That movie gave me chills. It scared me so bad.
7. drop-dead gorgeous = very beautiful
Ex: When I met my wife, I thought she was drop-dead gorgeous.
8. skeleton staff / skeleton crew = the smallest number of people who can run a business
Ex: The shop is really quiet. Everyone is out sick so we just have a skeleton crew.
9. Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater. = a cheater
Kids in the US often say “cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater” when they catch other kids cheating at games or on tests.
10. digging one’s own grave = making things worse for yourself
Ex: Bob’s just digging his own grave every time he yells at his boss.
11. pumpkin = a loved one (romantic or family)
Ex: Come here pumpkin. Daddy will cary you home.
12. skeletons in the closet = secrets
Ex: I liked Dave, but I always felt he was hiding something, like maybe he had some skeletons in his closet.
13. All work, and no play makes Jack a dull boy. = working too much makes you bored and boring (proverb)
Ex: My boss never takes a vacation, and is always stressed out. He’s not very fun to be around. I guess it’s true that all work, and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
14. Cat got your tongue? = Say this when someone can’t talk.
A: Did you hear Steve and Susan are getting a divorce?
A: Cat got your tongue?
B: Wow! Yeah.
15. Grave mistake = a serious mistake
Ex: Not studying for the test was a grave mistake. I failed!
16. Spill your guts = tell a secret
This is a more aggressive version of “spill the tea”. Even kids say this though.
A: Where did mom hide the cookies?
B: I don’t know.
A: Yes, you do! Come on! Spill your guts!
B: Ok. Ok. She hid the cookies on top of the fridge.
A: Woo hoo! Cookies!