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What Are Some of the First English Idioms You Learned?


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Well there are some idioms which are pretty famous and almost every english speaker knows about them. And these were the idioms which I first learned. Some of them include, A stitch in time saves nine, which teaches about the value of time and too many cooks spoil the broth, which means that too many people doing a single thing end up doing badly.

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  • 1 month later...

I'm not sure about the very first idiom I learned, because I think they've always been a part of my life!

However, in 5th grade I remember we did a work sheet on idioms and the only one standing out to me right now is trying to "find a needle in a haystack." I can so clearly see myself sitting with my friends at a big round table, trying to put into words what these idioms meant. It was like we knew what they meant, but couldn't verbalize it. Still struggle verbalizing some to this day!

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These were idioms I heard used around my home as a child:

Never judge a book by its cover-things are not always what they seem.

Birds of a feather flock together-people with the same agenda normally hang around each other.

Grab the bull by the horn- not being afraid to tackle the most difficult matters.

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Some of the first English idioms I learned came from movies - in fact, these idioms are the titles of the movies.  Cases in point are First Blood and The Living Daylights.  In First Blood, Rambo mentions "They drew first blood, not me" which refers to the time Rambo was being abused by the local sheriff's posse and forced to fight back.  In The Living Daylights, James Bond says that he "scared the living daylights out of her," a reference to the alleged assassin whose attempt to take out a defector was thwarted by Bond in the beginning of the film.

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Raining cat's and dogs. Still don't get it, but its a classic.

That idiom doesn't have a definite origin but there are a lot of speculations about the phrase. There's one version which proposes that it came during the 17th century when the houses were made of thatched roofs. To keep warm, pets like cats and dogs supposedly warmed themselves up on the roof. When it suddenly rains hard, the roof becomes slippery, the animals lose foothold, and they fall through the roof and into the house hence the term "it's raining cats and dogs."

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  • 6 months later...

I am an Esl student and the first idiom I learned is from my Esl teacher.

She taught me a idiom which is "got your back".

When I was watching TV, one of the characters from the drama said that, and I knew what it means!!

I felt really happy somehow!!

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Killing two birds with one stone, never count your chickens before they hatch.

Those are the first two that I learned and as the years have gone by I have heard so many unusual ones and some very odd creations that my kids have tought me but I have had to correct them on these as they are not English language and have made idioms slang or text friendly!

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I remember being very puzzled when my fathers friends from UK would say : Its not all beer and skittles.

I had to ask my father and learned that it meant it's not all fun and pleasure , you also have to be serious.

I remember the grown-ups talking about " decorating the mahogany" and the ladies not to pleased with that , I couldn't see why as  to decorate was something the ladies did all the time so why be upset if their husband did it. As I grew older I learned that it meant " to put money on the bar top to buy a round" and some men would spend all their money "decorating the mahogany".

Shooting fish in a barrel , was  also one I learned early on.  When something is so easy you cannot fail. 

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  • 2 months later...

The first English idiom I learned was "Don't Cry over Spilled Milk" and the popular "Don't Make a Mountain Out of a Mole Hill." I heard these when I was throwing a temper tantrum or whining in general. You could say these to kids and they would get the point.

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  • 7 months later...

It's raining cats and dogs. I was confused why it would rain animals and found it funny when the meaning was explained. I cannot use it in conversations these days as I think it's too odd. Can we say it's raining siamese and poodles to make it cuter? ;)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Mine have been mentioned already. I learned them in the first grade, and I still remember the story where I found them.

"Don't cry over spilled milk" and "Don't catch your chickens before they're hatched". It was the story of the poor milkmaid who was fantasizing about all the things she'd buy with her chicken money, while walking down the street with the tray of eggs on her head. My heart broke for her.

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