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11 English Idioms About Animals You Should Teach Your ESL Students (Part 1)

Native English speakers often talk in idioms and expressions, which can be confusing for a language learner. When idioms are translated word for word, they usually don’t make any sense! As an ESL/TEFL teacher, you can teach your students some English idioms to help them get closer to fluency. 

We have already explored idioms about the weather, love and sports. This week we bring your 11 English idioms about animals! 

1. A little bird told me.

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Meaning: Someone told me, but I will not reveal their identity. 

Example: A little bird told me it’s your birthday tomorrow! 

2. All bark and no bite. 

Meaning: Full of big talk, but no action is taken. 

Example: She has been threatening to quit her job for 5 years! She’s all bark and no bite.

3. Ants in your pants. 

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Meaning: Unable to sit still due to nervousness or excitement.

Example: He had ants in his pants before his big interview.

4. Busy as a bee.

Meaning: Extremely busy and active.

Example: My mom is always running around to serve her five children. She’s busy as a bee. 

5. Butterfly in one’s stomach. 

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Meaning: Having a strong nervous or anxious feeling. 

Example: My date is starting in an hour. I feel butterflies in my stomach.

6. Cat’s got your tongue.

Meaning: At a loss for words or unusually quiet. 

Example: You haven’t spoken the entire meeting. Cat’s got your tongue? 

7. Chicken out. 

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Meaning: Not doing something out of fear. 

Example: He chickened out last minute from the bungee jumping activity. 

8. Copycat.

Meaning: Someone who copies another person’s words, behavior or ideas. 

Example: You’re just a copycat! You don’t have any original ideas. 

9. Dropping like flies. 

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Meaning: A large number of people dropping out, becoming ill or dying in a short period of time.

Example: There used to be 500 students registered in this course, but they’re dropping like flies because the course is too difficult.

10. Fishy.

Meaning: Suspicious, causing doubt. 

Example: Their stories aren’t matching up. I’m convinced there’s something fishy going on. 

11. Horse around.

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Meaning: Fool around.

Example: The kids knocked over the vase while they were horsing around. 

We hope you enjoyed these 11 idioms about animals. In English, there are so many more animal idioms that native speakers use on a regular basis, so make sure you subscribe to LatinHire’s Weekly Newsletter and stay tuned for Part 2. What other animal idioms do you know? Share them in the comments below!  

Ellier Leng
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