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Fish, Reptile and Insect Idioms



One of the ways to make your writing or conversation colorful is using idioms. Here are a number of idioms dealing with fish, insect and reptile commonly used by English-speaking people.


ants in one’s pants : nervous, over-activity, restlessness.

The teacher asked the little boy if he had ants in his pants when he kept moving around in his seat.


bee in one’s bonnet : a fixed idea that seems crazy.

She has a bee in her bonnet and she won’t stop talking about moving to a new apartment.


big fish in a small pond : an important person in a small place.

He was very afraid of his wife but in the company he is a big fish in a small pond.


birds and bees : facts about sex and birth.

The teacher told all students about the birds and the bees during the biology lessons.


bug-eyed : wide-eyed with surprise.

The little boy was bug-eyed when he got a new Play Station for a birthday present.


bug in one’s ear : a hint, an idea.

You put a bug in his ear about an eating out in Mc D’s and he won’t stop talking about it.


bug someone : annoy or irritate someone.

My friend is beginning to bug me with his constant questions.


butterflies in one’s stomach : feeling of fear or anxiety.

I had butterflies in my stomach when I knew I had to see the most beautiful girl in town.


can of worms : complex problem or complicated situation.

I opned up a large can of worms when the major decided to banish gambling.


clam up : stop talking.

We had to clam up during the meeting so our boss wouldn’t become angry.


cold fish : person who is unfriendly or doesn’t mix with others.

He is a real cold fish and has no friends at his company at all.


fish for : try to find out some information or ask for a compliment.

He has been fishing for a compliment about his new Italian suit.


fish out of water : someone who does not fit in.

She felt like a fish out of water when she went to the party in her formal dress while everyone else was wearing jeans.


flea in one’s ear : an idea or answer that is not welcome.

I think that I put a flea in his ear when I told him about the computer problems.


flea market : place where antiques, secondhand things and cheap goods are sold.

We go to the flea market every Sunday to look for old phonographs.


fly in the ointment : something small that spoils one’s fun.

His complaints about the food were the fly in the ointment and gave everyone a bad feeling about the gathering.


Holy mackerel : used to express strong feeling of surprise.

Holy Mackerel! Look at the size of that man’s motorcycle.


kettle of fish : the way something is (often used when one is irritated)

That’s a fine kettle of fish. Now I will be late for the next meeting.


louse up : make a mess of or spoil something.

Please try not to louse up the computer again. It was working fine this morning.


mad as a hornet : very angry, in a fighting mood.

He was as mad as a hornet when he came to work this morning.


make a beeline for : go in a straight line.

Whenever he goes to a football game, he always makes a beeline for the food stand.


neither fish nor fowl : something or someone that does not belong to a definite group.

I don’t know what you should call it. It is neither fish nor fowl.


round robin : a contest or game in which each player or team plays every other player or team in turn, a meeting in which each one in a group takes part.

He took part in the round robin competition at his school.


snail’s pace : very slow movement forward.

The cars were moving at a snail’s pace when the parade came to town.


stir up a hornet’s nest : make many people angry

He really stirred up a hornet’s nest when he went to the meeting and started talking about the garbage problem.


world is one’s oyster : one can get anything that one wants.

When you graduate from university, don’t think the world will be your oyster.


That’s it. Now try to learn all the idioms carefully in your heart. Then try to the quiz in the “Learn English – Quiz” category.


Vocabulary :


Bonnet             = topi, biasanya diikat dibawah dagu dengan tali atau pita, dipakai oleh wanita, anak-anak perempuan dan bayi.

Birth                = 1 kelahiran. 2 timbulnya. b. certificate akte kelahiran, surat lahir. b. control pembatasan kelahiran, perencanaan berkeluarga, keluarga berencana.

Bug                  = 1 hama, binatang-binatang keci

Banish              = membuang. to b. all o’s fears membuang semua ketakutannya.

Clam                = remis besar, semacam kijing

Flea                  = kutu (pada hewan). flea-bitten ks. digigit kutu (anjing, kuda dsb). f. market pasar loak/rombengan.

Compliment      = pujian

Ointment          = Salep

Mackerel          = sejenis ikan air tawar.

Louse               = kutu, tuma, caplak

Hornet              = langau kerbau, tabuhan, penyengat. to stir up a hornet’s nest menimbulkan keributan, membangunkan ular tidur.

Fowl                = Unggas

Robin               = semacam burung murai.

Snail                 = keong, siput

Oyster              = tiram. o. bed petiraman

Fly                   = lalat. 2 golbi, tutup luar (of trousers). 3 Fish.: mata pancing yang berumpan seperti serangga terbang.

PS. If you are interested to do a quiz about these idioms, fell free to go to this link Fish, Reptile and Insect Idioms Quiz


June 30, 2008 - Posted by | Learn English - Vocabulary

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