20 English Idioms Related to Body Parts

Today I thought we would learn some English idioms related to body parts and master those expressions that are used every day.

Scroll down to watch a short video lesson about Break a Leg idiom meaning.

Yesterday a student used an incorrect expression. I knew what he meant to say but it was not correct. He meant to say “she went on foot” (meaning she walked to a place) but instead he said “she went by her legs”. There is not much difference between your foot and your leg but it can make a big difference in whether people understand you or not.

English Idioms Related to Body Parts

Here are some other English idioms and expressions using parts of the body.

SIT ON YOUR HANDS

This usually is used to describe how someone decides to do nothing or is not allowed to do anything.

He wanted to contact the customer and explain what happened. His boss told him to sit on his hands for a few days.

TO LEND A HAND

The opposite meaning to sit on your hands! Here we use this when someone asks us for help or we offer help to others.

The office was very busy and lots of people needed to be contacted. The manager offered to lend a hand to get the work done more quickly.

COST AN ARM AND A LEG

We use this phrase when we are surprises or staggered by the cost of something.

He crashed his car on the way home. There was a lot of damage. It would cost him an arm and a leg to get it repaired!

English Idioms related to Body Parts - Infographic

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English Idioms Related to Body Parts

UP TO ONE’S NECK

This is used to represent a time when we have a lot to do or we are in a lot of trouble.

I am up to my neck in work this week could we possibly meet next week instead?

He is up to his neck in bank debt as he borrowed a lot of money to buy that house.

PAIN IN THE NECK

A nuisance; an irritating, annoying person.

I hope Mary doesn’t bring her brother this time, he was a real pain in the neck the last time he was here.

TO BE ALL FINGERS AND THUMBS

to be very clumsy

He tried to put something in his pocket but couldn’t manage because he was all fingers and thumbs.

TO BE DOWN IN THE MOUTH

to be depressed

You’re looking down in the mouth today, Peter. Come on, cheer up!

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SKIN AND BONES

to be very thin

She is all skin and bones, she needs to eat more.

TO TURN A BLIND EYE

not to notice something deliberately

She saw them taking sweets from the shop but turned a blind eye.

TO BITE ONE’S TONGUE

to try really hard not to say what you really feel

He was solely responsible for this disaster, but I had to bite my tongue.

TO GIVE SOMEONE A COLD SHOULDER

to deliberately ignore someone

What have I done to her? She’s been giving me the cold shoulder all afternoon.

TO HAVE ONE’S BACK TO THE WALL

to be in a bad or dangerous situation from which there is no escape

He had his back to the wall, down 4 games to 5 and serving in the deciding set to stay in the match. 

TO MAKE ONE’S BLOOD BOIL

when something makes someone very angry

Littering makes my blood boil.

TO HAVE A LUMP IN ONE’S THROAT

to feel very sad; to be on the verge of tears

I had a lump in my throat when I heard the news.

Body Parts Idioms - Infographic

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A KNEE’S UP

This is very informal/slang and has a pleasant meaning. We use it to describe a good party or a sing-a-long with some friends when everyone lets their hair down and relaxes.

We had a great knee’s up over Christmas. Everyone was there and were in great spirits.

CHANCE ONE’S ARM

Try to do something although the chance of success may be slim, to take a risk, to try one’s luck. This phrase first recorded in 1880s and back in the days it was mostly used as a soldier’s term.

Immediately after University I chanced my arm and opened up my first boutique.

YOU SCRATCH MY BACK AND I’LL SCRATCH YOURS

You offer to help someone on condition that this person will help you in return.

Thanks for lending me your car, here are your keys. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, remember?

GO BELLY UP

We usually use this phrase when we’re talking about a business or some project that was unsuccessful or went bankrupt.

Some thought it was only a matter of time before the company went belly up, but it somehow survived.

THROW SOMEONE A BONE

To praise someone or to reward someone in some way in order to make them feel good.

In secondary school I had many teachers who threw me bone and let me pass a test.

ALL EARS

If someone says I’m all ears it means that they are ready and are very eager to listen to what you have to say.

Sam was all ears when I began to talk about my holidays in Australia last year.

There are many many more sayings and expressions in the English language which we will cover in the future. So if you have enjoyed this post and it helps you to learn more about English idioms then share it with a friend and check out our Skype English lessons prices.

Break a Leg Meaning - Video Lesson

And here is my video lesson about probably one of the strangest English idioms related to body parts – BREAK A LEG. It is one of many cases when the real meaning of the idiom BREAK A LEG is totally different from the individual words this idiom consists of. Watch my short video lesson and learn the history of BREAK A LEG idiom and its real meaning.

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More Information

For more information in English Expressions, English Phrasal Verbs and English Grammar Rules, check ou the following links:

Common English Idioms with Two Words

English Expressions about Success

English Phrasal Verbs with Over

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