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Insect Idioms in English

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We have found in previous threads that there are lots of idioms in English that use animals, birds, and fish.  It seems fitting that we shouldn't neglect the insect world.  English also has lots of idioms with various species of insects.

Here are a few for starters:

"Busy as a bee"  -- when one is industrious and gets a lot accomplished. 

"Fly in the ointment" -- something that ruins or spoils the fun. 

To have "butterflies in your stomach" means to be very nervous about something. 

Can you think of some idioms with insects?  Please add to our list. :)

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"To bug" someone, as in to annoy them. (Or in a more modern sense, to spy on them via electronic devices)

"Fly on the wall" eavesdropper.

"If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas" basically meaning that having bad friends leads to bad consequences.

Oh, and also more modern, the use of the word "crickets" on its own, like a stage direction, to indicate an awkward or anticlimactic silence.

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I have some to contribute.

"As snug as a bug," means to be super cozy and comfortable.

"Birds and the bees," refers to the mature talk about sexual intercourse.

"Ants in your pants," refers to someone who is very jittery and can't keep still.

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Um... "bugger" isn't derived from "bug", and has a decidedly bluer meaning.


Oh?  It is not derived from "bug"?  Well in any case, its similarity to "buzz off" seemed worth mentioning.  *shrugs*

Also, "bluer" as in melancholy?  Vulgar, yes, melancholic-- I'd have to disagree there.

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Some more insect idioms

"to have a bee in one`s bonnet"

Meaning: to have a fixed idea about something that stays in one's mind

"a hive of activity"

Meaning: a place with a lot of activity

"put a bug in (someone`s) ear (about something)"

Meaning: to give someone a hint or an idea about something / someone

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  • 2 weeks later...

For me I have heard and used various idioms that relate to insects the most common being.

A Flea in One's Ear."

This indicates that somebody has had, or will receive a cruel rebuke.

I mostly use a fly in the Ointment when meaning something small and frustrating is ruining the whole thing.

At times when have happy and cheerful is usually use the idiom as merry as a cricket.

In addition I also use Don't Bug Me when I don’t want to be hassled, bothered or annoyed by another persons action.

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