Family Idioms In English

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  • Post last modified:02/05/2023
  • Post category:English Idioms
  • Reading time:10 mins read

Learn family idioms in English with meanings and examples. Important idiomatic expressions to help you describe families in an informal way. Improve your vocabulary and start speaking like a native speaker.

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List of family idioms

family idioms in english

Learn family idioms in English. Advanced English learning. Online English lessons on Zoom at #learnenglish #englishlessons #EnglishTeacher #vocabulary #ingles

Hi there, this is Harry and welcome to my English learning podcast where I try to help you to get a better understanding of the English language. Help you with the English vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, phrasal verbs. In this particular episode, we’re going to look at some idioms. 

We’re going to talk about family idioms, those idioms connected with families.

Let’s start with the first one

kith and kin

Meaning: (old-fashioned) friends and family. 

In the old days when somebody died, they would try to find the next of kin. The old-fashioned way of saying who are their surviving family members, wife, brothers, sisters, whoever they may be. 

And when somebody died some great family leader or king of the clan, he would be surrounded by kith and kin, all his friends, those close to him, and the kin, the family that those that are closest to him. Yep. And we talk about kindred spirits. Again, it’s connected with family. Okay, so kith and kin. 

About 50 families turned up for their wedding along with their kith and kin.


the apple never falls far from the tree

Meaning: children are usually pretty similar in all respects and actions and behaviour to those of their parents; can be used to refer to habits, behaviour and also looks

Adam’s dad has always been a determined, hard-working man. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

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a chip off the old block 

Meaning: look or behave in a similar way to your parents

A chip is a piece of wood. When you chip wood with a knife or something, you cut it and it falls off. So people spent a lot of time in the old days using a knife just to whittle away and carve wood just as a sort of a pastime or if they were bored. 

We usually use it in quite a positive way. 

Jim worked alongside his father from a very young age, learning and perfecting his craft just as his father did. He’s a chip off the old block.


runs in the family

Meaning: if a quality, ability or disease runs in the family, a lot of family members have it

His parents were both medics. The grandparents, and even if you go back as far as the great grandparents, were also medics and lawyers. It runs in the family.

It could be something like farming, for example. It can run in the family. In Irish society, many, many years ago, they had very large families. The eldest son usually inherited the farm. So the father left it to the eldest son, who in turn would leave it to his son, and so on. So the ownership of the farm ran in the family.

It could also be a disease.

A rare bleeding disorder, haemophilia B, was carried by Queen Victoria and ran in most of the royal families in Europe.

family idioms in english

Learn family idioms in English. Advanced English learning. Online English lessons on Zoom at #learnenglish #englishlessons #EnglishTeacher #vocabulary #ingles

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to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth

Meaning: to have a very, very lucky start in life; have a huge advantage, usually financial, over everybody else

You didn’t have to worry about where the money was coming from. 

You didn’t have to worry about which school you’re going to go to. 

Ah, look at Michael there. He’s was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His parents had a great business, they were able to send them to private school. Then they sent him to the best university. Look at him now driving around in his sports car! He was definitely born with a silver spoon in his mouth. 

like father like son

Meaning: when a boy (man) appears and acts just like his father

Unfortunately, he got into trouble with the police. Well, what can you expect, like father, like son?

family idioms in english

a helicopter parent

Meaning: a parent who overprotects and overcontrols their children, hovering around like a helicopter and monitoring everything that the children do

His mum was a real helicopter parent and sent instructions to the kitchen on how to cook her son’s rice for every meal.

to be in somebody’s blood 

Meaning: to have some ability or a talent from birth because it already exists in the family

What do you expect? It’s in his blood, his father was a great athlete, his father represented the country in the Olympics.

Both his father and grandfather ran very successful businesses at the age of 20, so it runs in his blood.

Okay, so family idioms, those words and expressions connected with family members. A lot of them have similarities. Let me repeat them one more time:

  • kith and kin
  • the apple never falls far from the tree
  • a chip off the old block
  • to run in the family
  • to born with a silver spoon in your mouth
  • like father, like son
  • helicopter parent
  • be in somebody’s blood

Thanks for listening, I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Practice some of these family idioms and you might see them in books or hear them in movies. 

If you want to contact me, then you can do so on

Very happy to hear from you’re very happy to hear suggestions or things that you might want me to include in future podcasts. 

Thanks for listening. Join me again soon.


More information

For more information on English grammar rules, English collocations and English idioms, check out the links below:

Family phrasal verbs

10 English collocations with FAMILY

You can always study English advanced level at Learning English with the BBC.

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