8 idiomatic expressions to feel British

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Expressions play a major role in everyday life. Indeed, they considerably enrich our speech and extend our vocabulary. Those expressions are also pretty convenient to summarize an idea or a situation, and make our sentences more dynamic. Such expressions are known as “Idioms” or “Idiomatic expressions”. In the United Kingdom, and in many other countries, there is a great number of expressions that cannot be literally translated into your language. In this article, we provide you with 8 expressions to feel British.

An arm and a leg

Let’s start with an easy one. In order for you to understand the meaning of “an arm and a leg”, we give you an example: “This leather jacket costs an arm and a leg. How could you even consider buying it?”

Have you guessed?

As a matter of fact, this expression means that a good or service is very expensive.

To be full of beans 

“This young man is so full of beans when he goes out with his best friends.”

This one is more difficult to guess, we admit it. In fact, to be full of beans means to be very energetic and lively.

Call a spade a spade 

“You may appreciate her for her personality, but let’s call a spade a spade: she has no experience in that industry.”

If we have French readers, they might recall the expression “appeler un chat un chat”. In fact, it is the equivalent of the British expression “call a spade a spade”.

However, let’s put an end to the unbearable suspense… When you use such an expression, it means that you aim to say the truth about someone or something, even though it might be perceived as unpleasant or discourteous.

A penny for your thoughts 

From this point forward, the meaning of the British idiomatic expressions we have chosen might be more difficult to catch.

Person A: “You look worried, what is happening to you?”

Person B: “Nothing.”

Person A:A penny for your thoughts.” 

When someone uses this idiom, he/she wishes to know what the person in front of him/her is thinking.

A blessing in disguise

“Taking Spanish lessons three times a week turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I have considerably increased my average.”

Thus, “a blessing in disguise” is an idiomatic expression to state that something that appeared bad to you at first glance turned out to be positive.

Break a leg 

Person A: “Tomorrow I have to take an exam… I am extremely nervous.”

Person B:  Break a leg!”

As illustrated in the example above, telling someone “break a leg!” means that you are wishing good luck. Amazing expression, isn’t it? Incidentally, the idiom originates from the world of theater. There was a superstition among actors: indeed, they thought that wishing “good luck” would have the opposite effect, and thus bring them bad luck. Therefore, they rather used “break a leg”.

Curiosity killed the cat

Person A: “Who is calling you? It is your secret girlfriend?

Person B: “Stop it! Curiosity killed the cat!

If someone is telling you this expression, he/she is getting annoyed because you are asking TOO many questions.

Hit the sack

In order to end on a high note, we have chosen a surprising idiom…

Here is an example to give you a hint: “I am exhausted, I have spent all day rushing. I am going to hit the sack.

As you may have guessed, this expression means that someone is going to bed.

From now on, you will be able to decipher a lot of British idiomatic expressions. No need to tell you “Break a leg” : indeed, let’s call a spade a spade, now you master a bunch of British idioms…! 

Leana