CLASS – X
MODULE: IDIOMS AND PROVERBS
CUT TO MM – 1
(Show the conversation between mother and her son)
Highlight the text in yellow to focus the attention on the usage of idioms and
Mother: You have created such a mess in your room. All your things are
lying in sixes and sevens whereas sumit’s room is always spic and
Son: Mom, please don’t compare me with him as it is you always find
fault with me.
Mother: But why can’t you keep your room clean? When I was of your age I
always kept my things in apple pie order.
Son: Alright, I am going to clean it.
Mother: Now don’t waste time in it. I will clean it up today you prepare for
your debate otherwise you will cut a sorry figure.
Son: O.K. Thank you mom.
Anchor – 1
Students, did you understand this conversation between Mother and Son?
Yes, you must have gathered a general idea that mother is telling her child to
keep his room clean. But did you notice the phrases that have been used in this
conversation such as sixes and seven, find fault with ….. Can you infer the
meaning of this phrases and what they are called?
Well, let me tell you that these peculiar expressions are called idioms. Take a
look at the learning objectives of today’s lesson.
Upon completion of this module, learner will be able to-
• Define idioms and proverbs
• Enhance their knowledge of idioms and proverbs
• Use them effectively when necessary and make them part of their active
ANCHOR – 2
Well, students, you must be wondering why we need to learn idioms and
Using idioms and proverbs in your conversation or in your writing will always
leave an everlasting impression on others. Idioms are an essential part of English
language and students have to learn in which situation it is appropriate to use an
Having a good command of idiomatic English will enable you to communicate in
Today in this module we will learn various idioms and proverbs.
Let us first of all define an idiom:
VO WITH TEXT ON SCREEN
Idioms are phrases which people use in everyday language which do not make
sense literally but we understand what they mean
An idiom is an expression that has a meaning apart from the meanings of its
For example: It’s raining cats and dogs. Its literal meaning suggests that
cats and dogs are falling from the sky. We interpret it to mean that it is
ANCHOR – 3
There are many students who are quite competent in English but have many
difficulties in using idioms so they avoid trying to produce them.
Students also have a great difficulty in storing idioms. There is such a wide range
of idioms and proverbs that it is difficult to take all of them in this module. So we
will learn about some common idioms and proverbs that you come across.
All these idioms and proverbs will be illustrated with pictures and drawings that
will enable you to memorise them better and hence will create interest to know
more about them.
Now tie your seat belts and enjoy these idioms:
VO WITH TEXT ON SCREEN
(The following idioms will appear one after another along with the
explanation by the anchor and highlight letters in bold)
A bad apple
A (morally) bad person who makes a whole group bad.
A bad apple is someone who has a bad effect on a whole group or system.
People also say, "One bad/rotten apple spoils the (whole) bushel/barrel."
The corruption in the government started with a bad apple, a high official two
years ago. Now the whole system is corrupt.
Be a piece of cake
To be very easy
If something is a piece of cake, it is very easy to do.
A: How was the driving test yesterday? Did you pass?
B: Of course! It was a piece of cake.
Be the apple of someon’s eye
Be loved very much by someone.
If someone is the apple of your eye, you think he/she is very important to you,
and you love him/her very much.
This idiom is used especially when someone is loved by an older member of his/
Sunita is Ram’s only granddaughter, and she's the apple of his eye.
Surinder’s only son was the apple of her eye.
Beat around the bush
Avoid or delay talking about something unpleasant or embarrassing
If you beat around the bush, you don't say something directly to someone
because you are worried about his/her reaction and don't want to upset him/her.
Some people also say “beat about the bush.”
Don't beat around the bush! Tell me what exactly you want.
Let's not beat around the bush anymore. You'd better do this project over. It's
not acceptable to us.
Someone who loves reading very much
If you describe someone as a bookworm, he/she likes reading very much and
reads a lot.
My daughter was a real bookworm when she was a child.
I found the joys of reading when I read that book. I became a bookworm after
Make Ends Meet
Have or earn enough (often only enough) money to live.
If you make ends meet, you get enough money to pay for something you need,
especially in order to live
With five children at home and 2 living away to attend college, the parents
struggled to make ends meet, but somehow they managed.
When she was a poor student, she had to work 5 hours a day late at night to
make ends meet.
Once in a blue moon
Rarely, almost never
If you say something happens once in a blue moon, you mean it happens very
A blue moon is the second of two full moons in the same month, which happens
He has a very nice car, but he drives once in a blue moon.
A: Does your husband cook for you?
B: Oh, yes, once in a blue moon!
Put yourself in someone's shoes
Try to understand someone's situation.
If you put yourself in someone's shoes, you try to understand what his/her
situation is like and think about it as if you were in the same situation.
You need to take some time to put yourself in their shoes and understand
Rain cats and dogs
To rain very heavily.
If you say "It's raining cats and dogs," you mean it is raining very heavily.
They didn't cancel the game even though it was raining cats and dogs.
It will rain cats and dogs tomorrow, but he will go to work as usual.
Turn your back on
To tell people that you will not help them even though they need your help very
Shama and Jatin are friends. Shama is very good at math, but Jatin thinks math
is very hard. They have a test coming up tomorrow. Jatin is very nervous
because he thinks he will fail, and the test is very important. He decides to ask
Shama for help.
"Shama, will you help me study for the math test? I don't understand how to do
"I'm sorry," Shama answers. "I have to baby-sit my little brother tonight, so I can't
help you study."
"How can you turn your back on me when I need you so much? I'm going to fail
this test if you don't help me," Jatin says.
"I'm sorry. I can't help you tonight because I am busy."
Turn over a new leaf
Start to do something again in a better way, forgetting past errors.
If you turn over a new leaf, you will start to behave better or become a better
Stephen said he has turned over a new leaf, and that he's going to quit smoking
and drinking and start to exercise every day.
She decided to turn over a new leaf after her mother's death.
Eat one's words
Admit that what you said was wrong.
If you eat your words, you admit that the statements or predictions you made
Tom said Nancy would never succeed in her business, but after seeing her
business grow, he had to eat his words.
I taught a grammar rule in my class, and one of my students said I was wrong.
After I checked it in dictionaries and asked other teachers, I found she was right.
I had to eat my words in the next class.
A series of three wins, successes, or accomplishments especially in sport.
When someone wins three times in a row, you call it a hat trick.
John has already won 2 games in this series. We are wondering if he can make it
a hat trick today.
After 2 successful terms, the mayor is hoping for a hat trick. (He wants to be
elected mayor again.)
ANCHOR – 4
Let us now move on to Proverbs
VO WITH TEXT ON SCREEN
A proverb is a short saying or sentence that is generally known by many people.
The saying usually contains words of wisdom, truth or morals that are based on
common sense or practical experience. It is often a description of a basic rule of
conduct that all people generally follow or should follow. Proverbs can be found
in all languages.
ANCHOR - 5
Proverbs can be memorable and thought provoking. Reading and analysis of
proverbs will expose you to wisdom boiled down into a sound bite that may stick
with you for a lifetime.
Let us learn more about proverbs:
VO WITH TEXT ON SCREEN
(The following proverbs will appear one after another along with the images
and explanation by the anchor)
Better safe than sorry.
When you say, "Better safe than sorry," you mean that it is better to use some
extra time, energy, and effort to be careful than to take risks without doing
We will take our first aid kit to the hike tomorrow. Better safe than sorry.
Make sure you have locked all the doors before you leave. Better safe than
Birds of a feather flock together.
People who are a lot alike tend to gather together and become friends. This can
be used to mean that people are alike in both good ways and bad ways.
This proverb is often shortened. Many people just say "Birds of a feather. . ."
This proverb expresses the idea opposite to the idea of "Opposites attract."
Mohan and Shama are sitting in the cafeteria at their school. They see a group of
people that they do not like very much. All of the people in this group are a little
mean. They are often rude to the other students at the school. Shama points to
the group and then turns to Mohan.
"Every one of those people is a little mean. How did they all get to be friends with
one another?" she asks.
"Well, birds of a feather flock together. Maybe that is the reason they are
friends. They all act the same way," Mohan answers.
"Maybe," says Shama, "but I don't like any of them very much."
Home is where the heart is.
You use this proverb to say if you are with the person or at the place you love
most, it becomes your true home.
Don't worry about where you're going to live next year. Home is where the heart
It's no use crying over spilled (spilt) milk.
There's no use crying over spilled (spilt) milk.
You use this proverb to say that you shouldn't worry about something that has
It is no use being angry over or upset about something that has already
happened and/or you cannot change.
I failed the exam, but it's no use crying over spilled milk. I'll try it again.
You've broken the vase now! There's no use crying over spilt milk. We will
buy a new one.
Money doesn't grow on trees.
You use this proverb to tell someone that he/she shouldn't waste money or there
is not enough money to buy something expensive.
If someone says, "Money doesn't grow on trees," he/she means that it is not
easy to earn money, so it is valuable, and you have only a limited amount of
money. You should be careful how much money you spend.
A: "Mom, can I buy a new dress?"
B: "We can't afford one now. Money doesn't grow on trees."
Our lab computers are getting old, but we can't afford to buy new ones this
semester. Money doesn't grow on trees, you know.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
The meaning of this proverb is that if someone really needs something or has a
problem, he/she will find a way of doing or solving it.
Throughout the history of science, a lot of evidence has proven that necessity is
the mother of invention.
If you want to invent something, think about what people need or what problems
they have. Necessity is the mother of invention.
The pen is mightier than the sword.
You use this proverb to say that you can solve problems or achieve your purpose
better and more effectively through communication with words than by violence
with weapons. Edward George Bulwer Lytton (1803-1873), an English novelist,
wrote this for the first time in 1839. He wrote, "Beneath the rule of men entirely
great, the pen is mightier than the sword."
THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD? Here, we are offered the insight
that words are superior to action, even deadly killers, like swords.
This proverb means words are more powerful and effective than weapons in
accomplishing your purpose.
I want to stress that articles you write on newspapers can change the world. The
pen is mighter than the sword!
A stitch in time saves nine.
You use this proverb to say that it is better to spend a little time to deal with
problems or act right now than wait. If you wait until late, things will get worse,
and it will take much longer to deal with them.
It is often shortened to "A stitch in time." This proverb expresses a similar idea
to that of an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
I advise fixing the leak now. If not, you might need to replace the whole engine later.
Fixing the leak costs Rs. 50, but you need to pay at least Rs.1, 000 to replace the
engine. A stitch in time, you know.
If you have an idea for your final research paper, start writing today. Don't wait until
the end of the semester. A stitch in time saves nine.
Too many cooks spoil the broth.
You use this proverb to say that if too many people do the same thing (job,
project,, etc.), it will not be done well. Sometimes people just say, "Too many
cooks. " Another proverb "There is safety in numbers" expresses the opposite
If someone says, "Too many cooks spoil the broth," he/she means that your
work will be more efficient if you use fewer people.
The director never asks more than 10 people to work with him in his projects, and
he wants the best 10. He always says, "Too many cooks spoil the broth."
You can't judge a book by its cover.
You use this proverb to say that you can't tell what something/someone is really
like just by looking at it. It might be different from what it looks.
If someone says, "You can't judge a book by its cover," he/she advises you
not to judge someone or something only by its appearance.
People also say, "You can't tell a book by its cover."
A: I want to buy this car. It looks great.
B: Have a test drive with someone who knows cars well before you decide. You
can't judge a book by its cover.
I know you want to think he's honest and trust him, but be careful. You can't tell
a book by its cover.
ANCHOR - 6
Are Proverbs different from Idioms?
Idioms, like Proverbs, are common sayings. However, they usually do not make
sense at first sight and do not offer any advice. For example, to blow one's own
trumpet, which means to praise oneself or boast, is an idiom. It may be converted
to a proverbial expression as follows: It is but a fool who blows his own trumpet
or Don't blow your own trumpet. There is no clear dividing line between idiomatic
phrases and proverbial expressions. If and when an idiomatic phrase becomes
widely popular, it may be regarded a proverb, e.g., Don't put the cart before the
ANCHOR – 7
What are Idioms?
An idiom is a combination of words that has a meaning that is different from the
meanings of the individual words themselves.
It can have a literal meaning in one situation and a different idiomatic meaning in
It is a phrase which does not always follow the normal rules of meaning and
To sit on the fence can literally mean that one is sitting on a fence.
I sat on the fence and watched the game.
However, the idiomatic meaning of to sit on the fence is that one is not making a
clear choice regarding some issue.
The politician sat on the fence and would not give his opinion about the tax
What are Proverbs?
Proverbs are wise sayings. They usually:
Are popular and memorable;
e.g., All's well that ends well.
Are short and to the point;
e.g., Practice makes perfect.
Provide wise advice;
e.g., Slow but sure wins the race.
Contain simple truths from experience over the years.
e.g., Honesty is the best policy.
Most proverbs exhibit simple rhyme and elegant balance.
Are Proverbs different from Idioms?
An Idiom is a short set phrase (a short series of words) that usually must be used
strictly to make sense.
Whereas a Proverb is generally longer than a saying, and there is usually some
moral lesson in it.
ANCHOR - 8
How can you master Idioms and Proverbs?
Simple!! By practising more and more. Let’s do the exercise.
CUT TO TEXT WITH VO
Show each line with blank and then appear the answer written at the
Fill up the missing word in the following Proverbs
All work and no _______ makes Jack a dull boy.
Birds of a _______ flock together.
Cut your _______ according to your cloth.
A _______ in need is a friend indeed.
Health is _______.
A Jack of all _______ is master of none.
Necessity is the _______ of invention.
A _____ in time saves nine.
Fill up the missing word in the following Idioms
It’s raining ____ and dogs!
Those are just ______tears.
He’s taken the ____ share.
Feel like a _____ out of water.
I can smell a ___.
Children, we now come to the end of our module on Idioms and Proverbs. I hope
this session was easy, and informative. Have a good day!