30 Idioms for Animals

We’re about to embark on a journey where pigs, bees, snakes, and even elephants take center stage, each holding a unique meaning in the vast landscape of English expressions.

So, hold your horses, and let’s explore the colorful and often amusing world of animal idioms.

30 idioms for animals

Idioms for Animals

1. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

Meaning: Don’t assume something will happen until it actually does.

In a Sentence: I was confident I’d win the lottery, but now I realize I shouldn’t count my chickens before they hatch.

2. Like a bull in a china shop

Meaning: Someone is clumsy or reckless and likely to cause damage or chaos.

In a Sentence: When Tom tried to fix the delicate vase, he handled it like a bull in a china shop, and now it’s shattered.

3. Go hog wild

Meaning: To do something with great enthusiasm or abandon.

In a Sentence: At the concert, the crowd went hog wild as their favorite band took the stage.

4. In a pig’s eye

Meaning: No, definitely not.

In a Sentence: Bob asked for a promotion, but in a pig’s eye, he was getting it with his recent performance.

5. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill

Meaning: Don’t make a big deal out of something that is not important.

In a Sentence: She tends to make a mountain out of a molehill, worrying about minor issues excessively.

6. As busy as a bee

Meaning: Someone is very busy and active.

In a Sentence: During the holiday season, the elves at the workshop are as busy as bees.

7. Butter someone up

Meaning: To flatter someone to gain favor or advantage.

In a Sentence: He tried to butter up the boss before asking for a day off.

8. A leopard can’t change its spots

Meaning: People cannot change their basic nature.

In a Sentence: Despite promising to be more organized, Jane’s room remains a mess—a leopard can’t change its spots.

9. A cat has nine lives

Meaning: Someone is very lucky.

In a Sentence: Even after the car accident, Tim survived without a scratch—he must have a cat’s nine lives.

10. A snake in the grass

Meaning: Someone who is untrustworthy or sneaky.

In a Sentence: Be cautious; he might be a snake in the grass pretending to be your friend.

11. Hold your horses

Meaning: Wait a minute, stop, or be patient.

In a Sentence: Hold your horses; the results will be out soon, and there’s no need to panic.

12. As sly as a fox

Meaning: Someone is clever or cunning.

In a Sentence: She managed to outsmart everyone in the game, proving she’s as sly as a fox.

13. As quiet as a mouse

Meaning: Someone is very quiet.

In a Sentence: The library was as quiet as a mouse, with everyone immersed in their studies.

14. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

Meaning: It is better to have something that is certain than to risk losing it for something that may not be as good.

In a Sentence: I decided to keep my current job; a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

15. An elephant never forgets

Meaning: People have good memories.

In a Sentence: She remembered every detail of the conversation—truly, an elephant never forgets.

16. Cry wolf

Meaning: To make false alarms or cries for help when there is no danger, leading others to not believe you when you are actually in need of help.

In a Sentence: After numerous false fire alarms, nobody believed him when there was an actual fire—don’t cry wolf too often.

17. Let the cat out of the bag

Meaning: To reveal a secret or surprise prematurely.

In a Sentence: He accidentally let the cat out of the bag about the surprise party.

18. Barking up the wrong tree

Meaning: To make a mistake or to pursue something that is not likely to be successful.

In a Sentence: If you think I stole your pen, you’re barking up the wrong tree; it’s on your desk.

19. A bird’s-eye view

Meaning: A view from above or a broad perspective.

In a Sentence: From the top of the mountain, we enjoyed a breathtaking bird’s-eye view of the valley.

20. A birdbrain

Meaning: Someone who is not very intelligent.

In a Sentence: I forgot my keys again; I can be such a birdbrain sometimes.

21. A fish out of water

Meaning: Someone who is out of their element or uncomfortable in a new situation.

In a Sentence: At the high-end party, he felt like a fish out of water in his casual attire.

22. A bee in one’s bonnet

Meaning: Someone who has an idea or obsession that they can’t get out of their head.

In a Sentence: Ever since she heard about the project, she’s had a bee in her bonnet, unable to focus on anything else.

23. An old dog can’t learn new tricks

Meaning: It is difficult for people to change their habits or ways of doing things as they get older.

In a Sentence: Grandpa insists on using his old flip phone—truly, an old dog can’t learn new tricks.

24. A catfight

Meaning: A dispute or argument between two women.

In a Sentence: The reality show often features dramatic catfights among the contestants.

25. A lion’s share

Meaning: A disproportionate or largest portion of something.

In a Sentence: Despite being a team effort, she always takes the lion’s share of the credit.

26. A fox in charge of the henhouse

Meaning: Someone who is not trustworthy or responsible being given control over something.

In a Sentence: Putting him in charge of the budget is like having a fox in charge of the henhouse.

27. A snake oil salesman

Meaning: Someone who sells fake or fraudulent products or services.

In a Sentence: Be wary of the promises; he sounds like a snake oil salesman trying to sell miracle products.

28. A wild goose chase

Meaning: A futile or pointless pursuit.

In a Sentence: Searching for the missing key in the park turned out to be a wild goose chase.

29. A fish out of water

Meaning: Someone who is out of their element or uncomfortable in a new situation.

In a Sentence: In the corporate boardroom, the artist felt like a fish out of water.

30. A wolf in sheep’s clothing

Meaning: Someone who appears friendly or harmless but is actually harmful or deceitful.

In a Sentence: Be cautious with his charming demeanor; he might be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Summary

SimileMeaning
Like a bull in a china shopSomeone is clumsy or reckless and likely to cause damage or chaos.
As busy as a beeSomeone is very busy and active.
As sly as a foxSomeone is clever or cunning.
As quiet as a mouseSomeone is very quiet.
As quick as a catPeople cannot change their basic nature.
As fast as a cheetahSomeone is very lucky.
As quiet as a lambSomeone who is untrustworthy or sneaky.
As strong as an oxWait a minute, stop, or be patient.
As swift as an eagleSomeone is clever or cunning.
As light as a featherSomeone is very quiet.
As slippery as an eelIt is better to have something that is certain than to risk losing it for something that may not be as good.
As smart as a whipPeople have good memories.
As graceful as a gazelleTo make false alarms or cries for help when there is no danger, leading others to not believe you when you are actually in need of help.
As wise as an owlTo reveal a secret or surprise prematurely.
As free as a birdTo make a mistake or to pursue something that is not likely to be successful.
As stubborn as a muleA view from above or a broad perspective.
As strong as an oxSomeone who is not very intelligent.
As brave as a lionSomeone who is out of their element or uncomfortable in a new situation.
As cautious as a catSomeone who has an idea or obsession that they can’t get out of their head.
As playful as a kittenIt is difficult for people to change their habits or ways of doing things as they get older.
As fierce as a tigerA dispute or argument between two women.
As bold as a hawkA disproportionate or largest portion of something.
As cunning as a foxSomeone who is not trustworthy or responsible being given control over something.
As wise as an owlSomeone who sells fake or fraudulent products or services.
As light as a featherA futile or pointless pursuit.
As swift as an eagleSomeone who is out of their element or uncomfortable in a new situation.
As fierce as a lionSomeone who appears friendly or harmless but is actually harmful or deceitful.

Conclusion

And there you have it—a menagerie of idioms for animals that add color and flair to the English language. From the industrious bee to the cunning fox, these expressions provide a playful and vivid way to convey meanings.

Scroll to Top