Food idioms in English

Most languages have idiomatic expressions about food, and English is no exception. There are lots of idioms which feature food in some way. Some of these are quite easily understood, while others are more difficult. Here's a list of some common food idioms.

be the apple of someone's eye = be someone's favourite person: "She's the apple of her father's eye."

in apple-pie order = in perfect order: "Her house was in apple-pie order, with nothing out of place."

be as nice as pie = be extremely nice and charming, so that you can fool people: "She can be as nice as pie, but don't trust her!"

eat humble pie = have to take back what you said, because you have been proved wrong: "He'll have to eat humble pie now. Serve him right – he tried to make us all look bad."

have your fingers in every pie = be involved in many different things: "You can't do anything without him knowing – he has his fingers in every pie."

a piece of cake = be extremely simple: "This program is a piece of cake to use."

sell like hot cakes = sell quickly in large quantities: "His book is selling like hot cakes."

full of beans = be full of energy: "You're full of beans today – it's nice to see you so lively!"

beef about something = complain about something: "He's always beefing about the pay."

beef something up = give something extra appeal: "If we beef up the window display, more people might come into the shop."

be your bread and butter = be your main source of income: "Although they run a taxi service, car sales are their bread and butter."

be like chalk and cheese = be completely different: "I don't know why they got married – they're like chalk and cheese."

be like peas in a pod = be identical to someone: "Those two are like peas in a pod."

cheesy = predictable and unimaginative: "I don't want to see that film again – it's really cheesy."

sour grapes = say something bad because you didn't get what you wanted: "Don't listen to him complain – it's only sour grapes because you got the job and he didn't."

play gooseberry = go somewhere with a couple who would prefer to be on their own: "I'd rather not come to the cinema with you two – I'd just feel I was playing gooseberry."

a couch-potato = someone who never goes out or exercises: "He watches TV all day – what a couch-potato!"

like butter wouldn't melt in your mouth = appear innocent: "When I asked her about the missing money, she tried to look like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth."

bring home the bacon = earn money for necessary things, like food: "He brings home the bacon in that family."

the way the cookie crumbles = the way things are: "I'm sorry I didn't get the promotion, but that's the way the cookie crumbles."

have someone eat out of your hand = have control over someone: "He has her eating out of his hand – it's sad."

eat someone out of house and home = eat a lot of food: "Her children eat her out of house and home."

eat into your savings = spend some of your savings: "We can't afford a new car, unless we eat into our savings."

eating for two = be pregnant and so eating more: "Good news, darling. The doctor says I'm eating for two now."

eat your heart out! = telling someone they should be jealous of you: "I'm going on holiday to Jamaica – eat your heart out!"

not your cup of tea = something that you don't like much: "Football isn't my cup of tea."

a square meal = a filling meal: "You need a square meal after all that exercise."

it smells fishy = something that is suspicious: "He wants to do all the housework for you? That smells fishy to me!"

small fry / small beer = something or someone unimportant: "Sales last year are small fry compared to now – we're doing really well."

roll out the barrel = prepare to have a good time: "Roll out the barrel – we're celebrating our exam results."

rhubarb, rhubarb = saying something completely unimportant: "There's that politician again on televison – rhubarb, rhubarb."




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