/ Aron Thode

Food Idioms with Examples and Meanings

There are a lot of idioms in English that feature food, so I used some of them to make discussion questions (see the Food Idiom Conversation Questions). That brings the number of idiom-focused question sets on this website to three, as you can see at the bottom of the Targeted Language Practice page.

Despite being widely known among native English speakers, it’s likely that your students won’t know many of the idioms below, and since their meanings would be quite difficult to guess, pre-teaching them is a good idea. I’ve provided fairly simple explanations and examples to help with that:

Cool as a cucumber - calm, relaxed

When the alarm went off, Greg was as cool as a cucumber.

Variety is the spice of life - variation and change make life interesting

Let’s go somewhere new. You know what they say, variety is the spice of life.

Bad egg - describes someone who seems inherently bad

I don’t want you hanging around with Jacob. He’s a bad egg.

Be nuts about - to really like or be enthusiastic about

She’s nuts about K-pop.

Bear fruit - when effort leads to good results

Reading all those books about investing is starting to bear fruit. We’re up 17%.

Selling like hotcakes - selling a lot and selling quickly

Taylor Swift concert tickets sell like hotcakes.

Bring home the bacon - to earn money that a family needs to live

With two us of bringing home the bacon, things will be easier.

Go bananas - to get very angry or excited

I didn’t tell my mother where I was going, so when I got back she went bananas at me.

When the Beatles came on stage, the crowd went bananas.

Butter up - to praise or flatter excessively or falsely, possibly to get something

You’re trying to butter me up. What do you want?

The carrot or the stick - rewards and punishments, respectively

We tried the carrot. Now it’s time for the stick. There’s no screen time until you clean up this mess.

Chew the fat - to chat, to talk casually at length

When my mum and aunty get together, they chew the fat for hours.

Three men sitting near the street, chewing the fat.

Chalk and cheese - completely different things or people

Vincent and Mario are like chalk and cheese. I can’t believe they’re brothers.

Couch potato - a person who spends a lot of time being inactive, especially watching TV from a sofa

Jim is the king of the couch potatoes. He watched an entire TV series on the sofa yesterday.

You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar - kindness and politeness will help you succeed more than meanness and rudeness

Try being nicer to your employees. You know what they say, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

In a nutshell - a brief summary

In a nutshell, he’s a fairly typical guy who likes sport and his dog.

Eat humble pie - to admit that you were wrong

Okay Pierre, it’s time to eat humble pie. You were totally wrong!

As flat as a pancake - used to describe something very flat

When you get out of the city, it’s as flat as a pancake for miles.