Learn these talking idioms so that you sound more like a native speaker of English. Plus idioms that use “word” and “chat”.
Here are 20 of the most common talking idioms and phrasal verbs with “talk”.
talk nineteen to the dozen = talk fast: “She was so excited that she was talking nineteen to the dozen.”
talk the hind legs off a donkey = talk without stopping: “She can talk the hind legs off a donkey!”
talk something through / over = to discuss something: “Before we decide anything, I think we ought to talk it through.”
talk something up = to make something appear more important: “She really talked the idea up, but I don’t think that everyone was convinced.”
talk someone into doing = to persuade someone: “He talked her into buying a new car.”
talk someone through something = give step-by-step instructions: “She talked him through the procedure.”
talk down to = talk in a condescending way: “Don’t talk down to me! I understand you perfectly well.”
talk back = respond to someone in authority in a rude way: “Don’t talk back to your mother!”
This is similar to back chat: “I don’t want any back chat from you!”
talk under your breath = talk quietly so that nobody can hear you: “They talked under their breath in the meeting.”
talk rubbish = not to speak logically: “He talks complete rubbish sometimes!”
Also talk through your arse (British slang and quite rude): “You’re talking through your arse again. You know nothing about it!”
talk at cross purposes = when two people don’t understand each other because they are talking about two different things (but don’t realise it): “We’re talking at cross purposes here.”
talk / speak with a plum in your mouth = talk with a posh (=upper class) accent: “She talks with a plum in her mouth!”
talk around the subject = not get to the point: “He didn’t want to say they were in danger of losing their jobs, so he talked around the subject for half an hour.”
talk highly of someone = praise someone: “He talks very highly of you!”
to give someone a talking-to = when you talk to someone because you are angry with them: “His boss gave him a real talking-to yesterday!”
talk to yourself = to speak to yourself, maybe because you are concentrating on something: “Are you talking to yourself again?”
to be like talking to a brick wall = to not have any effect on someone: “Sometimes talking to him is like talking to a brick wall!”
talk your way out of something = get out of a difficult situation by giving a clever explanation: “Whew! I think I managed to talk our way out of that one!”
straight talking = honest words: “I want some straight talking around here!”
talk shop = talk about work in a social situation: “Whenever I go out with my colleagues, we always end up talking shop.”
Idioms with “Chat”
to chat someone up = to talk to someone because you are attracted to them: “He went to a party and chatted up every woman.”
a chatterbox = someone who talks a lot, but not saying anything important: “She’s a bit of a chatterbox at work.”
chit-chat = social conversation about unimportant subjects: “Enough of the chit-chat! I have to get on with some work.”
Idioms with “Word”
to have a word with someone = to talk to someone about something you are not happy with: “I’m going to have a word with him about his kids’ behaviour.”
to not have a good word to say about someone = to always criticise: “She never has a good word to say about the Browns.”
a word in your ear = something you say before you give some advice or a warning: “A word in your ear – the company are monitoring internet use.”
to not mince your words = say something directly, without trying to be diplomatic: “She doesn’t mince her words!”
to have words = to have an argument: “They’ve had words and now they’re not speaking.”
to get a word in edgeways = to try to contribute to a conversation: “They were talking so fast it was impossible to get a word in edgeways!”
Talking Idioms Quiz
Level: Intermediate / FCE
- If you chat someone up, you talk to them because you like them. (If you talk something up - for example, you talk up an idea - you praise it because you want someone to agree to your idea.)
- If you talk shop, you talk about your job or other business-related things.
- Can I have a word in your ear? = Can I talk about something privately with you? (Maybe the person wants to criticise your work, or wants to warn you about something.)
- A pep talk is when you try to encourage someone else because they are doing something difficult.
- To not be able to get a word in edgeways = to not be able to contribute to the conversation because the other person is talking too much or too fast.
- Chit-chat is informal conversation.
- It's like talking to a brick wall = when it's pointless to talk to someone because they don't listen or don't understand.
- To not mince your words = to not try to be diplomatic or subtle (i.e. to talk directly about something, even if it's a difficult subject).
- If you talk your way out of something, you use a clever explanation to get yourself out of a difficult situation.
- If you give someone a talking-to, you criticise them because you are angry with them.